In an edition of Dear Workforce, the following Q&A was posed:

Screen Shot 2014-03-07 at 9.12.00 am

“Q: What do recruits want most today? Is money still the key factor or is professional development more important? It’s sometimes hard to tell what we should tout. A: Recruits tend to view professional development as the most important factor in switching positions. Making more money is certainly very important as well, but the opportunity to find a more challenging and expansive role is still the No. 1 reason that candidates take a new position.”

We all know that recruitment can be an extremely costly exercise, the cost of turnover is always a red flag for the accountants and the decision makers. And, if we know that when people go in search of new jobs, professional development is the most important factor; you have an opportunity to avoid the costly turnover price tag by addressing professional development with your current staff; that is, before they go in search of it elsewhere!

As the manager, you have the opportunity to delegate and assign tasks and projects that will meet the professional development goals of your staff. By delegating you are freeing yourself to do more work that’s aligned at your level and above; you are building the capability and capacity of your team; you are reducing turnover; you are saving money.

Delegation does take some time and effort to set up properly and successfully; it is not a ‘dump and run’. It needs clear expectations and instructions; known and agreed resources, timeframes, outcomes; it may need some initial support; it needs accountability. When done right, delegation can meet the professional development needs of your current staff so that you can avoid the costly recruitment process. 

Here’s another way of thinking about it:

What would you prefer: an ever shrinking budget resulting in less access to needed resources because turnover is too high OR an engaged, resourced workforce and you a happy manager?


Related posts about Delegation can be found here and Delegation in Small Business


If you or your managers struggle to delegate with successful results [or just struggle to delegate], let’s talk about the Delegation for Development, Delight & De-Stress workshop:
… Identifying the value of delegation for the manager, the team, the organisation, the bottom line
… Knowing why, what, when to, when not to, and how to delegate for success
… Eliminating the roadblocks that many managers face when dealing with delegation
Email me at sally @ sallyfoleylewis dot com or Telephone 0401 442 464


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I’m known for getting on my soapbox when it comes to quality feedback. I believe all feedback, delivered well, is positive.

When mistakes are made, performance has dropped, sabotaging is in play, skills doesn’t match standards these are often thought of as needing the tough conversation. Think again.

Almost all of the time your team members want to know how well they are performing, are they doing okay? I bet you’d like to know how well you’re doing as well. In my books, that’s normal and not unreasonable.

When you think of feedback, either having to give it or if you receive it, it would be smart to expect some corrective, development or area for improvement feedback. Kate, a friend from a private Facebook group, made a comment about how to view negative feedback. I thought is was worth sharing here. In essence she said: If you get 100% positive feedback it might  lead to over-confidence or some complacency. Feedback that may be termed negative can show you areas and ways to improve your performance, self-esteem, career.

That’s got to be a good thing.


  • Plan your feedback.
  • Deliver your feedback from a calm and level headed status.
  • Have an attitude going into the feedback session of wanting an open conversation and helping someone to develop.

[Of course, in some situations, you will need to be direct about behaviours that need to improve. Direct is not the same as yelling, aggression, dictator, executioner. Direct is calling the behaviour and working with the person to determine how change will happen.]


By far the most helpful formula for feedback is the EECC:



If you want to know more about how you can use the formula, check out the book Successful Feedback: the one simple formula for highly effective feedback:

HERE (hardcopy)  or  HERE (Kindle)


If you or your managers would rather have teeth pulled without pain killers than have performance / feedback conversations, let’s talk about a Feedback & Performance Management workshop:
… Being clear about whom the feedback is for and why
… Being able to give feedback that effects real behaviour change
… Being able to give feedback that genuinely supports and recognises great work
… Using the performance management process as a key management tool rather than viewing it as a hindrance
Email me at sally @ sallyfoleylewis dot com or Telephone 0401 442 464

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So how do you handle that one person in the team who needs to wear this t-shirt everyday (if for no other reason than a public service warning to the others):


(Photo source: Pinterest)


  • My brother’s girlfriend had to be taken to hospital last night
  • My washing machine broke and flooded the house
  • My dog had to be taken to the vet
  • My flatmate stole my wallet
  • My boyfriend dumped me
  • My mum and dad turned up at my place unannounced late last night
  • The report was written and I had it ready but now it’s gone, the cleaner must have thrown it out


All very real and legitimate issues and of course you feel for the person. That is until that tipping point of more issues being handled than work being done and the handling of the issues becomes the daily gossip and stop work meeting agenda for the whole team. That point where everyone has been sucked into that issues vortex whether they initially wanted to be involved or not. Then you’re left with, not a team, but a collective of amateur counsellors and one drama queen/king.

Genuinely Polite and Apologetic

In my experience the person is generally friendly and polite and plays well with others, they are also forever apologetic that they’re late, leaving early, unprepared, missing work, etc. etc. and boringly etc. They know they’re letting the team down and they are genuinely apologetic, of course they are, because at face value they don’t want people to turn on them. Problem is, as the issues roll in and pile up that in itself creates further issues and the team – and you – will have a big issue with the person because of all the issues. [Getting dizzy yet?]

Something Must Be Done

So how do you handle your drama queen/king? Here are some ideas using the E.E.C.C. feedback formula:


EXAMPLE: Present the situation to the person as a list of dramas (be specific). Be sure to set conversation ground rules, that is, the conversation will not be about how to resolve the person’s issues but rather how to help the person improve or return to better work performance. [As the conversation progresses, be listening actively to ensure the conversation doesn’t slip into the dramas. If it does, interrupt the conversation immediately and re-state the ground rules, politely of course.]

EFFECT: Speak to the impact, read: effect, the constant issues (the person’s behaviour linked to the issues) is having on their standard of work output, on the team’s ability to work, on the organisation. Use specific examples of where things have gone wrong or been held up so the person can get clarity on why this is a problem.

CHANGE: If you stop the conversation now, you really are just telling them what they’ve done wrong and not progressing into what’s needed for improvement. The change component is critical for setting you and the person up for success. Ask – not tell – the person what changes they can make to improve things. Only if the person can’t see or suggest how to change, you can make suggestions. Give 3 suggestions and ask them to pick one. 

COMMITMENT: Check their commitment to making the change and give your commitment to helping them through the change process.

I used this process with a drama queen I once worked with and while she went to tears in the first 30 seconds of the conversation [I hear you, drama], the tears dried up very quickly when I reassured her this is not about being in trouble, nor about her issues, it’s about helping her be the brilliant employee she has been previously. At the close of the conversation she even thanked me which I wasn’t expecting but it was appreciated.

Want more on how to handle these dramas, check out the EECC formula in my book Successful Feedback: The one simple formula you need for highly effective feedback:

Paperback: click here

Kindle: click here


If you or your managers would rather have teeth pulled without pain killers than have performance / feedback conversations, let’s talk about a Feedback & Performance Management workshop:
… Being clear about whom the feedback is for and why
… Being able to give feedback that effects real behaviour change
… Being able to give feedback that genuinely supports and recognises great work
… Using the performance management process as a key management tool rather than viewing it as a hindrance
Email me at sally @ sallyfoleylewis dot com or Telephone 0401 442 464


Subscribe now for your free Management Success Skills eBook


I saw this article about exercises that uses three things that are in your office or in a meeting room near you!

“12 exercises deploying only body weight, a chair and a wall, it fulfils the latest mandates for high-intensity effort, which essentially combines a long run and a visit to the weight room into about seven minutes of steady discomfort — all of it based on science.”

This is a great resource for those who feel trapped in their office or are on the road spending more time in a hotel but don’t want to use the hotel gym (or the hotel doesn’t have a gym).




Here’s the full article.

So, why on earth am I posting this?

Because you know health and wellness impacts on your performance as a manager. You will have more energy, patience and clarity of thinking when you are operating at your best. You know this, it’s obvious on an intellectual level yet it’s easy to ‘excuse’ away the actual doing.

My younger days were crammed full of playing sport, and like many, as the years have passed so too the level of physical activity has reduced. Today, any day, is the day to address this!

This fits with the concept of Managing Self. While you can spend time, money and effort building your skills and knowledge as a successful manager which is an area that’s addressed in the Managing Self cards in the Management Success Cards; your health and wellbeing is up to you and you know is a foundational component. 

Share this with your team, after all, don’t you want the whole team functioning at their best?


Additional Information:

Here are some statistics that should clearly tell you why you need to move!

  • 10% of Australian Workers are sedentary
  • 40% do minimal exercise
  • 12% exercise less that one hour per week
  • 46% have high-fat diets
  • 92% eat less than the recommended servings of 5-9 serves of fruit and vegetables
  • 21% smoke daily
  • 53% feel overwhelmed with pressure and stress “a significant amount of the time”?

(Source: Claire Massingham)


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While standing on the train station platform waiting, waiting, waiting I realised I was staring at the ground and more precisely, staring at the message ‘mind the gap’. It’s bizarre where inspirational, Yoda-like brilliance emerges from (well, okay, maybe not as impressive as Yoda). That stencil had me thinking about what it means to mind the gap in life, and not just as you hop on and off the train. 

mind the gap

If you can see gaps, ask yourself whether the gaps are filled by others skills, knowledge, expertise or is this a gap you need to fill by up-skilling yourself. Common management gaps I work with are communication skills, delegation, giving feedback. These are gaps that need to be filled by the manager (and not others) in order to be a successful manager. 

Some gap-filling questions for you to ponder:

1. What’s your gap?
2. Where’s your gap?
3. How do you ‘mind’ the gap before you … board the train, take the promotion, start the performance reviews, take on a project? [Another way of asking this question: what do you want and need to do to fill the gap or identify and handle the gap?]
Please share your thoughts below…
If you want some help with up-skilling join the Management Success Mastermind Group: more info here.

Business Owner: I’ve implemented weekly sessions with the staff and they have goals they’re working towards. The process seems to be working really well but now I’m getting a bit bogged down in the goal setting each week.

SFL (me): What specifically is it about the goal setting that is getting you bogged down?

Business Owner: Setting the goals for the staff each week.

SFL: What would happen if you started encouraging the staff to set the goals each week?

Business Owner:  [pause] … [Smirking] Of course! Jenny would easily be able to help with this. Why didn’t I think of that?

SFL: You just did, I only asked a question! 😉

Don’t you just love those light-bulb moments. Sometimes all it takes is one seemingly straightforward question from someone who’s not ‘in-the-thick-of-it’ with you.


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Manager:  He’s come across as though he understands the importance of getting the work done, i.e. providing the service to the client, but when we it comes to our weekly meeting, the work’s not done and all I get is, “Oh, I didn’t have time.” The thing is, I know he had the time; I know he knows that the client-specific work is the core of his job; I know he spent a lot of time surfing the net … he just seems like he doesn’t care. This has been going on since day. How can someone be so unmotivated, to not care?

SFL (me): Let’s go through a quick checklist to clear the thinking and understand the priorities.  1. Are you sure he knows what he’s meant to do, how to do it, and when he’s meant to do it?

Manager: Yes, absolutely.

SFL: 2. Have you been clear about your expectations, your expected standards of work?

Manager: I thought so, maybe I need to re-address this.

SFL: 3. You said he knows the consequences of not doing the work, how sure are you that he does know?

Manager: He’s been in a client meeting where the client actually complained about his work, I thought that would have jolted him into action but all he said, after that meeting was, “Oh, well”.

SFL: Thinking about your strategy and actions in dealing with this issue to date, on your note pad, jot down what hasn’t worked.

Now jot down what has worked.

Looking at these two lists, now think about what you could do differently?  What from your lists will you stop doing (because it’s not working), what will you continue doing (because it does work)?

Manager: I am going to re-iterate my expectations? I’m going to stop being so patient waiting for the care-factor to kick in.

SFL: Let’s break-down the reiterating of your expectations.  How will you, specifically, ensure he does understand?

Manager: Tell him!

SFL: Yes, and how will you know he understands? What will be the proof?

Manager: Oh, good point. Maybe I should start by asking him what he thinks my expectations are?

SFL: That’s great. You’ll be able to gauge what he understands and what more you’ll need to discuss from his answers.  Back to your actions, how will you specifically stop being so patient with him: what will that look like?

Manager: I guess I have to double check understanding and make sure we’re on the same page about work expectations and standards, and then let him know I will be monitoring the work a bit more closely while he picks up the game.  If he works better then that’s great and I won’t step on toes but if he slacks back off he’ll get a verbal warning.  I can’t afford to carry this guy any longer.

What do you need to do to ensure your team know the expected standards of work?


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I responded to a question asked in a discussion forum and as I read the question, I thought to myself, ‘if I had a dollar for every time this type of question gets asked, I’d be very rich.’  Although not strictly a coaching moment, it certainly is akin to many coaching (and training) moments I’ve had with managers.

The content is as it appeared in the discussion, only the names removed:


How do you motivate team members in your team or motivate multiple teams in an IT department using non-monetary mechanisms? Salary hikes, promotions, more benefits, gift cards are not an option. 

I wanted to explore options where managers/HR work towards creating an environment/culture where resources are motivated and continuously engaged without resorting to monetary means.

SFL (Me):

Ask them!

Ask your team what are their motivators and de-motivators. You can ask them individually or as a team. 

You can pre-frame the conversation as an team exercise: ‘Given a zero budget, what would you do to boost motivation in the team?’ [When I run this as an exercise in training and facilitation, the group’s ideas that flow are brilliant.] 

If you ask the team to list all their de-motivators, you have a starting point for building the morale: working together to reduce the de-motivators. This is a starting point, the motivators also need to be addressed. 

I would never suggest you ignore any help or advice you could get from HR or other managers but you could be overlooking the BEST resource for your answers … the team! 


Hi Sally, 
Thanks for your response. I agree that the team would be the best place to start asking this question. I like the idea of the team exercise. This will be good as it won’t put the team member on the spot and it would become a general question. 

Really liked your answer ! 


Two questions come to mind from this management coaching moment:

1.  In what circumstances have you made finding the answer more complex, at least initially, than it needed to be?

or, let’s put it more simply…

How could you make your problem solving (or team building) more simple?

2.  What other aspects of work (team building, delegation, creativity & innovation) could you be asking the team? 


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Based on a real management mastery moment:

Manager: I attend a specific agency meeting which I know one of my team could go instead of me but I don’t want the other meeting attendees thinking that I think I’m too busy or too important to attend that meeting.  What should I do?

SFL (Me): I have two questions for you:

1.  Do you know for sure what the other meeting attendees think?


2.  Which is most important to you: a) freeing up some time for you to get on with your work or b) worrying about what you imagine others are thinking about you?

… long pause …

Manager: Oh dear, I’m an idiot!

SFL: No, you’re not an idiot, you’re just trying to please all the people all the time based on assumptions of what you think they want and what you think they are thinking.

Be assured that just as you are sitting here thinking about you, each of the meeting attendees will be equally thinking about themselves (and not you).

How do we work out what someone else is thinking? 

Manager: We can’t, unless we ask.

SFL: So we’ve now removed the assumption of what others may or may not be thinking. Let’s tackle the ‘importance’ factor of your attendance at the meeting.  How critical is it to you and to the others that you attend?

Manager: I think it’s really important that our unit is represented. I know who I want to go in my place, I just have to set it up properly.

SFL: What will it take to make the transition from you to the other person smooth?

Manager: Maybe they can come with me to the next meeting, I can see how interested they are, let them know what sort of information we share and what information we need to bring back to the unit.

SFL: What’s your Plan B, if that person doesn’t want to take on the extra responsibility?

Manager: Oh, no, I’m sure they’ll want to do it … it’ll be a big ego boost for them. [pause] I do know someone else just in case. Thanks.

When has worrying about what others think got in the way of you doing better or doing what was most important for you or your job? 


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Another real management mastery moment:

Manager: The team mood is really off at the moment.  I don’t understand why they’re so angry: the last time we had to make big changes around here, the board made the decisions and directed us managers to make it happen, the staff ended up going on strike because they weren’t consulted. So this time, we spent weeks and weeks consulting the staff and still they’re not happy … [pause] … it’s like damned if we do and damned if we don’t.

SFL (Me): I’m going to share a story with you as I believe there may be some similarity and lessons in it for you and the team and organisation.  I was a team member of a very large organisation which had just gone through extensive staff consultation and then about to implement change, and the organisation was in the early stages of rolling out the change and was pulling large groups together to communicate the ‘next steps’.  One staff member who was really angry decided to let his feeling be known. He stood in front of all of us, his colleagues, faced all the senior managers and let it rip:  “You spent, I don’t know how much, traveling throughout the state asking all of us at the coalface what we thought, what would work, what wouldn’t, and now the decisions that have been made make no sense, they are the exact opposite of what we said, it’s like you didn’t listen, you screwed us over big time!”

The executive director, known for not being too warm and friendly, then stood, thanked the guy for being honest about how he felt and fairly sternly replied with, “Let me share with you what I believe being consultative means.  We gather as much internal and external data as we can, we analyse that data and then make the best, most informed decision we can with what we know.  Being consultative does not equal doing what you say, there’s a difference.  I appreciate that many will not see their opinions in the decisions we’ve made, what you will see however is the end result of much greater amounts of information than what each individual gave.”

What do you think?

Manager:  I liked the exec’s definition. Maybe I should share that story with the team, that’ll put ’em in their place.

SFL: Sure, do you think that will build bridges successfully?  

Manager: Okay, maybe not tell it like he did.

Actually we haven’t really explained the consultative process at all, we just sent out surveys and had meetings but didn’t really explain the structure around it all, I’m not sure the team know what the board want as an end result.  

I would still like to somehow incorporate the message about the definition of consultation to the team.  The timing is probably pretty good as we still have some things to implement.

SFL: Sounds like you’ve good a bit of plan in mind. Thinking that through a little more, what would get in the way of it working?

Manager: I guess there’ll always be the ‘nay-sayers’, I’ll need manage them so they don’t impact negatively on the others.  Also, I think my Director will appreciate this so I will share this with her so we can roll out the last changes with better communication.

SFL:  Wow, sounds like you know where you want to go with this. What is your first step?

Manager: I’ll write down some ideas and schedule time to meet with my Director. Thanks, I feel really confident about what I need and want to do.

What’s one thing that could’ve been done better when it comes to any organisational change you’ve experienced?


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Over the years I’ve noticed a lot of 3-point, 5-point, 10-point plans, lists, this’n’that’s for achieving something – be it ‘success’, a skill, retirement, a million dollars, etc., etc.  While some may seem quite naive, I really like these as I believe the underlying premise is to 1) simplify a concept, 2) simplify a process or approach, and 3) ignite more thought and action. AND I’m all for making something as simple as possible and lighting a fire in your belly.

When it comes to fast tracking a manager’s productivity I came up with the 3 ‘…tions’ of Development, they are Identification, Intention and Implementation.

1.  IdentificaTION

Knowing, discovering, creating, unfolding a problem, issue, challenge or opportunity.

2.  IntenTION

According to my handy online dictionary:  “deliberateness, design, calculation, meaning, preplanning” and “an aim or plan”.

In our context of skills for the new manager I interpret this, as acting on the identified problem, issue, challenge or opportunity: for example, training, coaching, planning, research, facilitating…

3.  ImplementaTION

Putting the intention in effect. The learning, the skill, the new insight that impacts or changes a behaviour is now deliberately brought into or demonstrated in the workplace.

Case Study:

Bob the New Manager has way too much work on his desk, his staff are too dependent upon him, he’s the first in and last out every day as he tries to clear the work.  He knows this can not be sustained but isn’t sure what it’s all about and why.  First, IdentificaTION… Bob knows something’s not right and he needs to work out what that is.  His actions for identification could include: 1) stop, think and reflect; 2) takes an audit of his situation; 3) ask others, in order to articulate what the problem is and what opportunities might come from this identification; 4) observe other, more experienced, managers and aim to identify the gaps.

Bob’s pretty smart, it didn’t take him too long to work out that he needs to improve his time management and his delegation skills.  His intentTION is now to research what he needs to do to develop both these skill areas as quickly as possible.  Obviously, all he needs to do is call me for coaching and training, but that would just be cheeky of me to take advatange of this case study.

Following Bob’s training and/or coaching, his confidence is high and he takes his implementaTION plan back to work and uses the skills he’s developed.       


1.  How could you use the 3 …tions of Development in your own management?
2.  What aspect of management would you like to see simplified?


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A real management mastery moment, only the names removed/changed:

An interdepartmental project was well underway, involving three departments: Dept’s A and B, are more heavily involved than the third, C.  Head of Dept A, Steve, seems to be leading the project and directing the other managers, a little too much according to Dept B’s manager, Bob.  Dept C Manager, Judy, has only a small part to play in the project and is happy to be called in and given some detail and direction whenever needed.  She seems happy to be part of the project but not as heavily invested as Bob and Steve.

Bob’s frustrated because he sees himself as just as able to lead the project and he’s also very concerned that at the end of it all Steve will take the glory.  Steve’s always been a ‘glory hunter’ and Bob’s heard Steve’s staff sometimes grumble about how they do all the work, Steve does nothing but take the credit.


We generally know quite well our own skills and competencies, however we sometimes do not have as much insight into our own behaviours, strengths and development areas and how these impact on others we work with.  

Extended DISC® is designed to provide information about individuals; their behaviour style, strengths, development areas, skills, opinions, perceptions and expectations.  The Extended DISC® System helps individuals, teams and organisations with enhanced communication; higher productivity; improved management decisions; staff motivation; improved use of individual strengths; more efficient team work … just name a few.  

For more information or to arrange completing the Extended DISC® assessment: click here.  

SFL (Me):  How important is the project to you, to the organisation?

Bob: It’s not the biggest project we’ve worked on but, if it all goes well it will almost certainly guarantee more significant projects for the company.  It feels like failure is not an option on this … not that fail really is ever an option.

SFL: Despite how annoying Steve is for you, has he done anything to date to put the project in jeopardy? 

Bob: No, I guess not.  I just want the senior management to know that this isn’t the ‘Steve Show’! Starting with Steve knowing it’s not the ‘Steve Show’!

SFL: Think of three actions you could take that would make you feel better about your role in the project with Steve and will not affect the current and future success of the project?

Bob: I could take over lead of the project, I’m just as capable as Steve.  I could … [long pause as Bob processes and evaluates his thoughts]  I am going to take over the reporting part of the project. I will report progress to senior management.

SFL: How will you approach this with Steve? 

Bob: I will just tell him?

SFL: How do you think Steve will take it?

Bob: I don’t care!

SFL:  Really?  Think this through, could Steve take offence, get angry or respond in any way that may then impact on the project’s success?

Bob: Oh! 

SFL: Firstly, are you sure about taking on the reporting, you do seem resolute. And second, how will you really handle Steve?

Bob: I am definitely taking over the reporting. I don’t want to steal the limelight, I just want to be sure it’s shared.  As for approaching Steve, I’ll tell him I want to step up a bit more and that I very much want to take on the internal reporting process. 

SFL: How will you handle any objections Steve may have, if any?

Bob: Not sure, I guess I’ll need to clarify what exactly his objection may be and then handle it from there.  I will approach it as wanting to make the workload more equitable and that I will report what we both agree to report, he will have full input but I’ll be the one in front of the senior management.

SFL: Are there any aspects of this that need further consideration?

Bob: Well, if the project fails I’ll be the one in front of the firing squad, senior management, but I am really confident in the project’s success.  I’m really not concerned about Steve’s ability… it’s just his ego.

I wonder how many projects or deals have fallen over because of perceived or real ego?  


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A real management mastery moment, names changed for confidentiality:

A new manager found himself in the situation where the relationship with his team deteriorated; one employee was hardly using full sentences to communicate with the manager while others where being ‘stand-off-ish’ and far less social as normal.

What started it all off was the manager noticing Tim’s (an employee) performance slipping: coming in late, leaving early, work quality dropping, submitting work late, etc.  In an effort to understand the situation the manager decided to do a little background checking first.  The manager asked a few of the other employees if they knew of any issues going on for Tim.  The manager’s intentions were pure; he didn’t want to be reactive and rash, he thought by taking some time to investigate what may be going on he could be more proactive and supportive in helping Tim.

After speaking with a few employees, the manager didn’t have any better insight into Tim’s situation.  Before the manager could set up a meeting with Tim to deal with the performance issue, a big project came in and took up the manager’s full attention and time for the following week.  In the meantime, the gossip grape wine flourished, it got around that the manager was asking ‘people to spy on Tim’; ‘people to betray Tim’s trust’; and that the manager was trying to get some ‘dirt’ on Tim.  (If you’ve ever played the game Chinese Whispers you’ll know that the message started will get twisted and muddled up by the time it gets to the last person.)


Conflict is normal, and some conflict is good. The ability to manage workplace conflict is important for business effectiveness. Harmful conflict costs money, time and energy.  The Conflict Dynamics Profile helps prevent damaging workplace conflict.  Completing the Conflict Dynamics Profile or the multiple-rater Conflict Dynamics Profile-360 can provide you with information about 15 conflict behaviours, 9 workplace ‘hot buttons’ as well as a coaching session to look at ways to improve responses to conflict.  From more information or to arrange taking the assessment: click here.

I meant well, why has this gone sour?

SFL (Me): As humans we do tend to judge actions rather than intentions. Reflect back through the actions and what was going on and think about what you would do differently.

Manager: Maybe I shouldn’t have asked the team about Tim, I probably should have gone directly to Tim and asked him what was going on.  I planned to but the project happened.  I meant well, I thought the others might know something and I didn’t want to rush in and pry into anything that was hugely private.

SFL:  Okay, let’s move this forward, we know projects and deadlines and priorities will always happen, that’s work. With hindsight could you still have had a quick private chat with Tim before you got immersed into the project.  

Manager: Yes, I know employees are our best asset but I just caught up with putting other things first.

SFL: Great insight.  There’s nothing wrong with asking the team about another team member however we can see it can have its downside; what would you do differently this time?

Manager: I won’t ask, I’ll go straight to the person.

SFL: What if you were to still ask others, what would your process be compared to what actually happened?

Manager: I’d really reinforce the confidentiality of the conversation and that no one was in trouble and that I was merely concerned.  

Good intentions are often ignored in comparison to the judgements of people’s actions.  When have you meant well but your actions either went sour or you’ve been on the recieving end of it… how was the situation rectified?


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Here’s a classic Management Mastery Moment, it is based on a real skill development conversation with all names removed/changed:

Manager: I come in early so I can get at least an hour’s worth of quiet time to clear my desk before others start to turn up. Then last week, Pam started coming in early too and she would come over to me and talk to me, and talk, talk, talk… can’t she see I’m here early to have some ‘me time’?  It was okay the first day, but by day three I kind-of lost it, I snapped and told her I wanted to be left alone to get my work done.  She’s been a bit quiet around me since.

SFL (Me): I’m guessing no, she didn’t realise this time is ‘your time’. I can certainly appreciate your frustration at having your quiet time invaded or interrupted and wanting to protect it.  If the tables were turned, and your boss reacted to you the exact way you did to Pam, what would be your reaction and thoughts?

Manager: I would have thought he was in a foul mood … BUT she should’ve seen that I wanted to be left alone; I avoided eye contact, I gave short, almost grunted, answers, I ….[pause] Oh! 

SFL: What does the ‘Oh’ stand for?

Manager: I should’ve just explained why I come in early and asked her to respect that AND maybe schedule some time to spend with her later in the day.

SFL: Do you think she’d have accepted that? 

Manager: Yep.

SFL: Do you think there’s still an opportunity to explain that to Pam … and maybe add in an apology for snapping?

Manager: Isn’t it too late?

SFL: Again, turn the tables, would it ever be too late for you to receive an explanation and an apology from your boss?

Manager: Touche! [nodding and grinning]

Is this a familiar management moment for you? Share your thoughts here.


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In a conversation, my friend and sales coach, Robin Dickinson, wanted to know why I decided to start my own business. Amidst our conversation was, amongst other things, that I was frustrated with companies paying for over-rated ‘fluff and bubble’ rather than the real solutions of skill development they had requested. That led us down the rabbit hole into a leadership conversation about people who don’t walk their talk and how frustrating and costly it can be.  

It is such a confusing and frustrating message to be amongst those who don’t walk their [often loud] talk. Who would want to roll their sleeves up further, work longer hours, strive even harder when the mouthpiece is not behaving in alignment with the current needs of the organisation. Not me, I will admit.

This is Robin’s take on it:

1.  How do you know when your managers / bosses aren’t walking the talk, what are the signs?

2.  What do you do to deal with your managers / bosses who don’t walk the talk?


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Recently while delivering one-to-one management training and again in an executive coaching session I was reminded of the fragile, fallible, yet well-intended ego of the manager.  It was interesting how many times, each manager was keen to return to work and ‘tell’ the staff how to do something.

This is common and it is often indicated by the manager making comments such as:

  • I’m sure they don’t know what they’re doing. [Assumption]
  • I know how to do it, so I may as well just tell them. [Well intended but short-sighted]
  • Why can’t the staff do it to my standard? [This raises questions of: proper training, clear instructions and expectations, assumptions]
  • It’s my way or the highway! [Yes, a manager has actually admitted this to me!]
  • I know how it should be done? [With a tone, not at all subtly, hinting the staff don’t know]

I decided it was worth a post! My aim: to challenge the thinking – and maybe a bit of ego – around task setting, ownership and the sense or need to have all the answers, all the time.  In the training and coaching, I used the following diagram to make my point, so forgive my rough drawing skills:

As I showed the diagram, I explained so long as the employee works within the given parameters (i.e., doesn’t break the rules, regulations and law, etc.), and finishes the task within the agreed (and/or clearly explained expected time), the how of the task is not necessarily the way of the manager, not mission critical. I can hear the collective gasps already! Some tasks, for reasons of, for example, safety or compliance do need to be completed in a structured and methodical way, I get it. What I am suggesting, is that managers consider what they can let go of and allow the employee to decide for themselves so that the employee can have ownership of the task.  

Learn the difference between Process and Outcome: and then get out of the way.

At the end of the day, what’s the most important, a task completed by an engaged employee or the task done only just to standard by a de-motivated employee?

Time to step into another’s shoes: When you have the skills, expertise and knowledge in place and someone tells you, “I want you to do this task and you must do it my way.” Frustrating? Absolutely!  There’s no sense of ownership in that task for you. The desire to complete the task, on time and in a way that matches your own high level of professionalism becomes a challenge. You’ll do it, but the chances of enjoying it, owning it, having a sense of achievement is absent. The same goes for the employee!

What could you let go of?

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“Long-term success depends on who you become in the future not who you are now.”


✐  Do you agree?

✐  What does this quote ‘say’ to you in the context of leadership and management of teams?

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