About jbmiller

Jeanne Miller is an Instructional Designer and HR Curriculum Manager with the Graduate School USA Curriculum and Learning Solutions. Jeanne is a former federal HR Officer and HR program evaluator and has had extensive experience and education in both federal HR and the instructional design arena, including the development, design, and/or writing of an extensive array of both classroom and distance education courses for adult learners.

How Guilt Can Hold Back Good Employees

People with a tendency to feel guilty for disappointing their coworkers are among the most ethical and hard-working people to work with. However, these highly guilt-prone people may be the most reticent to enter into partnerships.

By understanding this phenomenon, managers can make the best decisions about team-building and increase productivity. (For more, click here.)

As a supervisor, how can you use the research discussed in this article to create effective workplace dynamics and increase productivity? As an employee, how can you put to use this research in your work life?

Reduce Your Stress In Two Minutes a Day

Bill Rielly had it all: a degree from West Point, an executive position at Microsoft, strong faith, a great family life, and plenty of money.  He even got along well with his in-laws!  So why did he have so much stress and anxiety that he could barely sleep at night? I have worked with Bill for several years now and we both believe his experience could be useful for other capable, driven individuals.

At one time, no level of success seemed enough for Bill. He learned at West Point that the way to solve problems was to persevere through any pain. But this approach didn’t seem to work with reducing his stress. When he finished his second marathon a few minutes slower than his goal, he felt he had failed. So to make things “right” he ran another marathon just five weeks later. His body rejected this idea, and he finished an hour slower than before. Finally, his wife convinced him to figure out what was really driving his stress. He spent the next several years searching for ways to find more joy in the journey. In the process he found five tools. Each was ordinary enough, but together they proved life-changing and enabled his later success as an Apple executive. (For more, click here.)

Have you used any of these techniques to manage your stress? Will you put any of these into practice now, after reading this article?

How to Keep Work Stress from Taking Over Your Life

Unless you’re a robot, it’s all but impossible to avoid having work stress(don’t worry, robots, your time will come!). But it’s not impossible to avoid taking those feelings home with you at the end of the day. True leisure time, in which anxiety and frustration over work can be set aside until you’re next at the office, is essential to staying mentally in check. Here are five ways to keep work stress, rage, and anxiety where they belong. (For more, click here.)

Do you use any of these techniques? Which are you going to put into practice now?

When It Comes to Making Good Decisions, Bad Options Can Help

Think of the worst idea ever for a new business venture, one that is guaranteed to fail. Or try to imagine a truly terrible, good-for-nobody new government policy. Or even, as a class of grade school kids I know recently did, the worst idea for a birthday party. (For the record, some of those terrible party ideas included holding the event in a sewer, a joint birthday party/funeral, and, worst of all, a party with no cake.)

My guess is that this exercise, which I often run with my students and clients, was easier for you than it would have been had I asked you to come up with a great idea instead.

Many of us are in search of the elusive good idea … (For more, click here.)

Would you use this bad-ideas exercise? When and how would you do so?


How to Avoid a Sexual Harassment Claim

Nobody wants to spend time with their agency’s legal staff to deal with a mess that could have been avoided (see “How to Stay Out of Your Lawyer’s Office”). One of those messes is being involved in a sexual harassment claim.

So, what do you do? You start by acknowledging that as an executive, you set the tone for your workplace. You treat each member of your staff with respect and treat them fairly and equally.

Not only do you not engage in unwelcome behaviors, you understand that… (for more, click here).

What other ” straightforward suggestions for the workplace” would you have to help your fellow employees and agency leadership prevent sexual harassment?

Six Ways to Be a More Approachable Leader

Never underestimate the importance of being approachable to effectively managing your organization. When you are approachable, people can relate to you. They understand what is needed for success and are willing to do what it takes to get the work done. When others believe you are open to hearing what they have to say, they will tell you the things you need to know.

Being approachable doesn’t mean that you have to stop what you’re doing whenever someone needs your attention. It does mean that when you give your attention, you give it fully. Here is what it looks like … (For more, click here.)

Are you an approachable leader? Which of the characteristics discussed in this article describe you? How can you do better in this area?

Managing a Team That’s Been Asked to Do Too Much

Recent cases highlighted in the media suggest that executives, in a desperate quest to quench the market’s unquenchable thirst for growth, are ignoring reason and dictating growth targets so insurmountable that their employees are turning to unethical and perhaps illegal means to achieve their goals (e.g., Wells Fargo, Enron, VA). Are you worried about something like this happening in your organization? You might believe that you’re an innocent pawn in this game, but as a manager, you have a responsibility to ensure that unreasonable targets don’t unleash harmful behaviors on your team.

Harmful behaviors come in many forms. At the relatively mild end of the spectrum, unrealistically high targets can motivate employees to game the system using short-term tactics that can be destructive in the long run. Common examples of such trade-offs include upselling products or services that are of little value to the customer or selling at unprofitable prices. Less-common but more-dire consequences of unrealistic targets include … (For more, click here.)

Have you ever been on a team that has been asked to do too much? Led a team that’s been asked to accomplish far more than available resources will allow? What from this article will you use when you find yourself in that situation again?

When You Should Ask–Not Tell–Subordinates What to Do

Your instinct as a first-time manager is to tell people what to do. It’s not asking versus telling, it is telling versus asking.

After all, you’re in charge, and that’s what bosses do. Or not.

Telling works great in fire drills, emergency rooms, and battlefield situations. In most other settings, asking is your go-to approach. It’s easy to bark orders. Instead of wasting your valuable time explaining, you point and command. Telling is a go-to tactic for many managers.

It’s a lousy tactic. (For more, click here.)

What from this article will you put into practice tomorrow? Next week? Never?

Radical Candor–The Surprising Secret to Being a Good Boss

Kim Scottco-founder of Candor, Inc., has built her career around a simple goal: Creating bullshit-free zones where people love their work and working together. She first tried it at her own software startup. Then, as a long-time director at Google, she studied how the company’s leaders created an environment where the joy that people took in their work felt almost tangible. As a faculty member at Apple University, Scott learned how Apple takes a different path but is equally committed to creating the conditions where people can do the best work of their careers and love doing it. Along the way, she managed a lot of teams in various states of euphoria and panic. And while she did a lot right, she’d be the first to admit everything she did wrong.

The good news is that Scott, now an acclaimed advisor for companies like Twitter, Shyp, Rolltape, and Qualtrics, has spent years distilling her experiences into some simple ideas you can use to help the people who work for you love their jobs and do great work. “At Google, I was really curious — did creating such a great work environment require having the world’s greatest business model? The answer is no. Luckily, there are some things that any of us can do, even before the profits start rolling in.”

The single most important thing a boss can do, Scott has learned, is focus on guidance: giving it, receiving it, and encouraging it. Guidance, which is fundamentally just praise and criticism, is usually called “feedback,” but feedback is screechy and makes us want to put our hands over our ears. Guidance is something most of us long for.

At First Round’s recent CEO Summit, Scott shared a simple tool for ensuring that your team gets the right kind of guidance — a tool she calls ‘radical candor.’ (For more, click here.)

What from this article can you put in to practice in your interactions with your employees? To your work life in general?

Completing this 30-Minute Exercise Makes Teams Less Anxious and More Productive

Here’s a funny thing about work: We spend more time with our colleagues than with our friends and family. Yet more often than not, we don’t really understand our co-workers—because being honest with one another is scary.

When a teammate’s lack of organization annoys us, we vent to others. When a boss says “this is fine” (not “this is great”), we wallow in anxiety. Many of us figure out our colleagues’ personalities, preferences, and dislikes through trial and error, not through explicit conversation.

This strikes me as a colossal waste of time, productivity, and happiness. Ignoring these issues just leads to … (For more, click here.)

What from this article will you use next time you are in a team situation?