Managers, Parents, what stops you from giving enough praise?



It’s has been recognised that one of the toughest jobs of a manager is giving feedback. While some struggle more than others, many people find giving feedback stressful and difficult mostly because they are focused on offering criticism and correcting mistakes when they should be providing positive feedback. Some recent research shows that people view leaders as more effective when they give praise. Personally, I struggle more at home with positive feedback to my kids or people who work for me than at the office. At work, I struggle with negative feedback because it is uncomfortable.

Where/when do you struggle with offering compliments? Why? For me, I believe that it is from a desire to be seen as tough and firm and the fear that my kids or people who work for me at home will start to coast. Well, if you’re having the same issues at home or at work, this HBR article says we should ‘get over it’! According to the writer, managers (and parents) need to proactively develop their praise-giving skills. There is nothing wrong if praise is brief — it just needs to be specific, rather than a general remark of “great job,” in addition this is best delivered soon after the event the child or employee is being praised for. Above all, it’s always best when the compliment is sincere and heartfelt.

We’ll get there!



What do you do when a colleague ostracises you?


Are you:
• Left out of meetings or important email threads?
• Overlooked for a committee position?
• Ignored when making suggestions?

According to this article there might be an explanation – maybe you’re not the only one getting the cold shoulder; maybe it’s because of your position on the totem pole. The thing is not to assume and seek social support within your organisation.

How do you do that?

• Find out who else might be experiencing the same issues and talk to them – this might provide clarity about the real reason
• Find people who value your contributions and spend more time with them
• Pursue positive social interactions as they’ll help you repair your self-worth and confidence in your organisation

Read the full article here

Photo by Stuart Vivier on Unsplash

Can You Work Part-Time & be Successful?


Are you working or dreaming of working part-time and wondering if it will have to be a trade off with achieving a successful career? Many professionals find themselves considering the part-time work dilemma after starting a family. There are also a myriad of reasons why people might consider part-time work – pursuing further studies or personal creative dreams, caring for aging or injured family members and engaging more with the community.  While flexible work sounds like a lovely idea (to me…and many people I have spoken to), those who have been able to cut down their hours significantly quickly find out that there are major challenges faced in the workplace as a result of their part-time status, especially if they work in the private sector.

background pic: Andrés Nieto Porras

background pic: Andrés Nieto Porras

Some Challenges Faced by Part-Timers

  • Being perceived/labelled by co-workers as not fully committed to work;
  • Being passed over for bonuses & promotions;
  • A lack of respect from colleagues and/or the organisation
  • Pressure to maintain an unreasonably high workload to prove their value to the organisation – which inadvertently undermines the advantages sought from the part-time position

Proof That it CAN be Done…

While it is no easy feat, you CAN be successful and reach the top in your career while working part-time. It has been done by many people and here are 20 Powerful Executives who work part-time:

Find out a bit more about them from these sources: Telegraph Article 1; Telegraph Article 2; Women’s Agenda

From top left to right

  1. Anna Thal Larsen, Partner, Bain Management Consultancy, UK (works 3 or 4 days/wk)
  2. Avril Martindale, Partner, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer Law Firm, London (works 80%)
  3. Belinda Earl, Style Director, Marks & Spencers, UK (works up to 3 days/wk)
  4. Dr Cameron Hepburn, executive director and co-founder, Climate Bridge (works 2.5 days/wk)
  5. Karen Callaghan, people director, innocent drinks (works 3 days per week)
  6. Karine Massolo, head of European high-yield credit sales, JP Morgan (works 4 days/wk)
  7. Mike Dean, BPO service delivery lead, UK, Ireland & the Nordics, Accenture (works 3.5 days/wk)
  8. Sarah-Jane Roberts, Client leader & Sales consultant, Mercer Ltd (works 4 days/wk)
  9. Thomasina Miers, co-founder Wahaca Mexican Restaurant Chain (3-4 days/wk)
  10. Vicki O’Brien, head of Heathrow customer service, British Airways (4 days/wk)
  11. Jane Latimer, Professor and Principal Research Fellow, The George Institute for Global Health, Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney (works 70%)
  12. Jane Danziger, Partner, The Boston Consulting Group (works 2 days spread over 4 or 5 days)

Strategies Commonly Used by Successful Part-Time Professionals

Part-timers need to be strategic in approaching the challenges posed by their reduced hours in order to succeed. A few strategies that go a long way include (source): 

  • Open and clear communication about progress with their work, when they will be able to respond and which days they are in the office;
  • Setting priorities  that will end up in results which meet their KPIs;
  • Seeking help early before things become urgent and overdue;
  • Refusing to be manipulated into taking on more work than required by their current work arrangements; and
  • Making smart use of technology to stay connected and update colleagues during handovers

A study by business and management experts from the Universities of Victoria and British Columbia in this Harvard Business Review article found that one commonality among part-time professionals who were successful in their careers was how they approached their work with the following five strategies –

  1. Transparency to their organisation about their schedules, work-life priorities and also plans for the future – this worked because open and honest communication about their priorities secured a greater chance for them to effectively develop a mutually satisfying part-time work arrangement with their managers.
  2. Broadcasting the business cases for their part-time arrangements and the positive, non-disruptive impacts on the company’s results – this was powerful because it addressed the fear from managers and colleagues that part-time work disrupts business. The successful part-timers subtly demonstrated that the company was better off with them on board rather than moving on to a competitor; they also maintained strong alliances with colleagues and were constantly publicizing that work was still getting done in a timely manner; finally they were strategic in matching their tasks that had to be delegated to other colleagues with the person’s development needs.
  3. Identifying and establishing routines and rituals that protect and separate their times at work  at home – this began by being transparent and regular with their work schedules, then it went on to include monitoring workflow when they were out of the office and developing plans to ensure that work does not pile up unnecessarily during those times. Finally they made the effort to get emotionally invested in extra curricular activities during their time off to further stamp those times as sacred in their own minds.
  4. Cultivating champions in senior management who advocate for them and protect them from skeptics – strategically getting highly networked and influential change agents on as sponsors to champion their cause and to help them remain visible to senior management was vital to getting promoted while working part-time. 
  5. Unrelenting in the gentle and firm reminders to colleagues that they were still major players in the game and could not be ignored despite their part-time statuses – they did this by staying connected social networks within the office which gave them access to vital informal information required to make their part-time positions succeed; and also reassuring colleagues that they were on a level playing field and weren’t getting a special deal as a result of their part-time status. 

It all boils down to strategic tricks that helps the part-timer maintain ‘full-time’ visibility in the organisation while working part-time and this is where creative and timely use of technology during the time away from the office plays a huge role.  Successful part-time professionals appreciate the breadth of the challenges they face in their career pursuits but they deal with these issues head on in order to make the organisation increasingly receptive to the positive impacts of flexible work. 

How about you? Have you or someone you know succeeded in securing a brilliant part-time work solution? I’m all ears – please drop me a line below or send me an email. 

The 5 Minute Management Roundup – How to Deal With Generational Gaps At Work


Scenario 1 – Older worker with decades of experience behind you but currently reporting to a manager who is half your age.

Scenario 2 – Young manager who has workers almost twice your age and with more work experience reporting up to you.

Whether you are the older worker or younger manager, generational gaps can be disconcerting and needs to be managed carefully in order to create an effective team and maximise the unique potentials it offers. These situations are becoming more common as people are living longer and healthier and older workers are delaying retirement for various reasons.

What you need to know

When you are managing older workers:

  1. Throw out all stereotypes –  If a younger manager bought into stereotypes, he could assume that the older members of his team would be outdated, set in their ways, unable to keep up with the times, difficult to relate to and a nightmare to work with. Buying into the myth that you can’t relate with your older team members just because they are decades older and have kids while you are young and single is a naive way to approach this situation. The result of such a view point will be distancing yourself from your staff in order to hide the disparity between your personal experiences and theirs which will make you out of touch with them and therefore an ineffective leader. On the other hand, taking an interest in their lives allows you to find out basic information about their families, career goals and aspirations, past work experiences which in turn will help you better equiped to know how they think, learn and communicate, what matters the most to them and how to motivate them. This will make you a more effective manager. 

  2. Remember that they need training just as much as anyone else – It is easy to assume that just because an older employee has been around a while, they don’t need as much training as younger staff who are in the early years of their career. Taking the time to understand your staff will give you insight into where they are struggling and could use additional training. Also fostering cross training between the different generations in your team can help bond the team e.g. younger staff might know their way around the latest Microsoft office shortcuts and older staff might understand why we manage that contract the way we do. 

  3. Don’t assume they don’t respect you – Assuming that your older staff do not respect you will lead to avoiding confrontations and not holding them accountable for their performance. Remember that respect is earned by doing your job well and effectively coaching your staff, providing the training they need, helping them work through mistakes and holding them up to high standards will help them succeed and gain you respect regardless of their age.  

  4. Recognise the value of their experience – Don’t feel that because you’re the boss you can’t or shouldn’t learn from your older employees. Older workers have seen the world go around and come around more than you have, so recognise the value of this experience by encouraging them to make input based on their experiences or historical knowledge and using them as mentors for younger workers where reasonable. 

  5. Communication is key – It is essential to maintain clear and open communication with staff and colleagues and more-so when there are generational gaps which might easily lead to miscommunication or misunderstanding. Being clear on what you want done, what the due date will be and the measurements of completion and success is key. So instead of asking your staff to “take care of the project reporting” it would be better to say”Please could you prepare a budget report for all the BP projects including revenue and expenditure forecasts for this calendar year and projections for the next 5 years? Include historical data from the past 5 years. I need this in a weeks time.”

  6. Understand the different needs of different age ranges – Let’s say you’ve got 3 older members of your team – A 50 year old mother with teenage kids, a 63 year old man looking to retire in 2 years and a 70 year old who wants to work just to keep mentally active. These three people will definitely have different needs and goals and each group will present with diverse management challenges and training requirements. 

When your boss is as young as your child:

  1. Reflect on why you are bothered about the age gap… is it because you weren’t promoted for this job? Do you want the job? Is it because you feel you have more experience i.e. they are not qualified enough to direct you; are you feeling awkward just because they are young enough to be your kids? Talk to your colleagues or friends who have experienced the same circumstances and find out what strategies they found useful.

  2. Don’t buy into stereotypes – thinking this age group is different from yours and therefore your boss would not understand you because he/she is not as mature as you are and has not experienced the world as much as you have. Try your hardest to take age out of the equation and focus on your similarities such as similar goals for the organisation. 

  3. Show respect – it’s not all about you…the other party might be feeling uncomfortable and even intimidated by your level of experience, age, etc. Recognise that you both have different talents and capabilities that you bring to the table…rather than focusing on their deficiencies focus on how you can use your skills and experience to drive the business. You need to treat this as any other business relationship. Think about how you can contribute to its success. 

  4. Aim to be a partner: The goal is to work with this person as a peer. You want your boss to consider you a partner. Understand what your boss’s problems are and pitch solutions. Propose ideals that free up your boss’ time to focus on other things. 

  5. Provide Information – Use your experience to be helpful. Offer information that your boss doesn’t know e.g. historical information about the company or insight into how colleagues in other departments think. Talk about your experience in a way that emphasizes your own learning and doesn’t sound like bragging. 

  6. Be yourself –  Although it is good practice to avoid dwelling on your age in the workplace, your stage of life and experience are integral to your person and you should embrace it. Make the relationship with your boss more authentic by being open to talk about a stage of life you have experienced which your boss is currently experiencing, such as being 30 with kids if you are now 50 with grown up kids. This might open up opportunities to act as a ‘life mentor’ to your boss. 

Action Points


  • Seek advice from friends and other colleagues who have experienced a similar dynamic in the workplace
  • Aim to partner with your boss by making an effort to understand his/her problems and pitch solutions
  • Arm your boss to succeed by providing relational and historical information about your industry and organisation


  • Buy into stereotypes by presuming the situation will be hard and your boss will be a bad manager just because he is young
  • Get stuck on your differences; instead dwell on what you have in common
  • Lecture when sharing your experience and knowledge; instead emphasize your own learning and be concrete. 


This post is a 5 minute summary of the following in-depth analyses on this topic, so if you have more time visit the following links:

Ma Article by John Reh
Forbes Article by The Muse
Harvard Business Review Article by Prof Peter Cappelli
Harvard Business Review Article by Rebecca Knight

The Gift Of Failure

Hey, how are you? Guess what?! I totally freaked out the other day when my daughter came home with an invitation for my first PTA meeting! Last time I used the acronym was when my parents were deciding which one of them would attend our school PTA meeting. I couldn’t believe that the time had zipped by so fast and ‘we were now the ones attending PTA meetings’. [By the way, in case you were wondering, PTA stands for Parents-Teachers Association].

Well, I was working on the D-day, so my husband and I agreed that we would meet outside the school hall and then go in together. I was going to use public transport, so I checked the bus timetable and I was pretty impressed with myself when I not only boarded the ‘intended’ bus but also made the connecting bus later on. [As an aside, you know how I’m really super optimistic, well it does end up making me rather late for a lot of events because I tend to underplay how long it will actually take me to get there. When it comes to my timing, my husband sees the cup as half empty or close to the dredges but I see it as overflowing and running over. It’s worse when I’m driving because I believe that I have superpowers that help me avoid traffic and get to my destination 3 minutes before time. In the case of public transportation, when the bus timetable says that I will get to the destination by 4.38pm, I sort of interpret it to mean an arrival time of 4.35pm or even 4.30pm on a super good day. That said, I must point out that I always get to work early though but don’t tell anyone that a big motivation is being able to leave work early]. Hehe. So I suppose you can now understand why I was quite impressed with myself. 

Everything was going according to plan and I settled in for a relaxing read. When we started getting closer to my destination, I looked up from my book and performed a mental check of my attire – makeup retouch [check]; blouse tucked in neatly [check]; matching bag [check] & last but not least, heels [check]. Splendid. All that was left was to get off 2 minutes beside the school and casually stroll in like I just don’t care. Well, that was until I got confused [blame it on never having travelled this route by bus] and I got off a cool 10 minute walk away from the school! There was the 2 second time frame when I just got off and I was looking back at the driver questioning if I had got off at the right spot and wondering if I should quickly get back in, but those seconds slipped away and before I knew it, I was looking at the taillights and realizing my mistake all at the same time! ^$%#&*&^$^^^!!! Truth be said, I don’t actually swear, but I could have given myself a hiding for making such a stupid stupid mistake, which had now left me walking to the school under the sun and in high heels. 

It took me a good 4 minutes to calm myself down and decide to accept the mistake, move-on and actually enjoy the walk. How do you handle mistakes and failures? I don’t handle them very well at all. It could be something small like making a choice between two buses and finding out that the other bus was an earlier one and I was stuck with a late one or something big [in the scheme of things] like forgetting my wallet at home and turning up at the checkout after a full 3 hours of shopping! I scold myself, shake my head at myself and it takes me a while to let the frustration I feel out of my system. So on this day, I decided to pop some headphones on, enjoy the scenery and think about the excitement of attending my first official PTA. Anyway, with this change of attitude, I was able to forgive myself and take my time to get to the venue [after advising my husband to go in without me].

Recently I have been thinking about decision-making and how not to sweat the small things. I find that given the way I deal with my own mistakes, I am also quite hard on others when they make mistakes. After some self-study, I realised that the way I deal with my errors stem from the fear of failure. I started doing some research into the topic because as I wanted to know how business giants are able to get past their failures and channel them as a driving force to their successes. I was challenged by this comment from the former CEO of Procter & Gamble, A.G. Lafley, ‘I think of my failures as a gift’. In his interview with Harvard Business Review, he alludes to the fact that we actually need a healthy dose of failure to enable us gain the wisdom we need to flourish. Who would have thought?!  Well, I’m been very inspired by the insight such icons have shared about their failures and over the next 3 weeks I will be running a series with a focus on Failure and how to use it effectively and grow. 

6 Steps To Unwrapping The Gift Of Failure (by A.G. Lafley):

  1. When you make mistakes, learn to get past the frustration, blame and disappointment and actually try to understand what happened, how it happened and why. 
  2. Be clear on what you have learned from the situation and what you will do differently next time.
  3. Appreciate that you will always get more insightful learning from failure rather than from success.
  4. Plan for success by implementing processes & checks to tell you whether you are on or off track next time.
  5. Take responsibility for your failure [blaming others will keep you from being open to learn from the experience]
  6. Create a culture [in your workplace, family, business] that turns failure into a learning tool which will lead to continuous growth. 

Hey, a penny for your thoughts on this? How do you deal with mistakes? I am dying to know your own tips and tricks in the comments below. 

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