Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Archive for February, 2012

Acting like humans.

I didn’t catch the television series when it was current, but I’m hooked on past seasons and episodes of “Mad Men”. The show is set in the beginning of the 1960s, and a good portion of it takes place in the workplace—a fictitious NYC advertising agency. Gradually the viewer is introduced to the professional and personal lives of the characters, all quite compelling, in my opinion.

In addition to finding it really cool to see so many of the surroundings that I grew up with, I’m fascinated by some of the elements of the business culture of the times: condescending and inappropriate interactions with women, racism, bigotry, alcohol openly consumed in the workplace—and the list just goes on.

Although many of our beliefs, business behaviors and personal cultures have changed significantly since then, I’m keenly aware that what has stayed the same in our work environments is the human experience—how we deal emotionally with successes, challenges, promotions, demotions, difficult conversations, insecurities, and a lack of, or an abundance of, personal confidence.

I’m reminded that people are human regardless of our surroundings or the times we live in. People thrive on recognition, praise, motivation, trust and confidence. And we are easily demoralized by ridicule, exclusion, a lack of balance, and a lack of recognition for work well done.

“Mad Men”, aside from being massively entertaining, reminds me that when faced with successes or challenges, regardless of the era or culture, we, our co-workers, managers and/or colleagues are simply demonstrating our innate and genuine reactions based on simply being human.

Want to increase accountability? Add a meeting to the calendar.

Here’s one simple strategy that is sure to increase accountability and timely deliverables from those whom you’re delegating to, or collaborating with.

When you’re finished agreeing on deliverables, and before the conversation or meeting has ended, schedule a follow-up meeting. Declare the meeting date as either the target date for the actual deliverable or the target date for a discussion following a deliverable that is due prior to the meeting.

It’s one thing for someone to miss an agreed-upon deadline without being immediately or physically faced with it. It’s another to walk into a follow-up meeting unprepared and be—however respectfully—called on it.

If you schedule the follow-up meeting as a target to discuss or review deliverables, and the responsible party attends but is not well-prepared, you may want to consider immediately rescheduling the meeting, for a time when you can all agree that the deliverable can be met. Rescheduling versus continuing with the meeting reinforces who was/is accountable.

A lack of accountability is a common and significant challenge in the workplace. Scheduling follow-up meetings is one simple strategy that can make a powerful difference.