Decision Makers

Two Mistakes That Will Kill Your Employee Recognition Program

This SHRM/Globoforce Employee Recognition Survey found that less than 30% of employees surveyed were satisfied with their organization’s recognition efforts. Among organizations who had a formal recognition program, less than 50% were satisfied.

How can it be that even among organizations who are making the effort and have good intentions, less than half of their employees are satisfied?

Two mistakes can kill even the best-intentioned recognition efforts; Focus on recognition instead of motivation, and selective hearing which leads to prejudice. (more…)

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Leadership and Manipulation: Donald Trump Case Study, Part 1

I get a lot of requests to write about Donald Trump’s personality. Let’s start with an update to two articles I wrote in 2016 during Donald Trump’s campaign for president.

Trump is good. I mean, really good. When it comes to imposing his will on others, without their awareness or permission, Trump is one of the best I’ve ever seen in this generation. Webster defines manipulation like this:

Manipulation is to control or play upon by artful, unfair, or insidious means especially to one’s own advantage.

(more…)

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Borders, Walls and Smokescreens: Part 1

Everybody has borders they want to protect. Nothing wrong with that. We all build walls to protect those borders. That’s normal.

The problem is, most of us claim borders and build walls that are a cover up for the real issues. These smoke screens serve the purpose of helping us feel justified, but aren’t effective in the long run because of the sacrifices they require. (more…)

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Five Strategies For More Spectacular Failures

MichaelJordanEverybody fails. The question isn’t if or when, but how. How spectacular are your failures?  Here are five strategies to increase the chance of your failures becoming something spectacular.

Don’t make it personal

Failures are about everything EXCEPT a person’s worth. It may feel embarrassing, painful, discouraging, or even justified, and it’s not about who you are as a person. If you or others make it personal, they are derailing the possibility of learning. (more…)

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Apology Accepted, United

Today I received a personal apology from United Airlines’ CEO, Oscar Munoz. If you have flown United, you probably got one too.

I frequently fly United, and was shocked by the recent event of a passenger being forcibly removed from an overbooked flight. Following that I was disappointed by United’s response to the event. I’ll admit, I’ve fantasized about what I would have done in that situation and what advice I’d give United if they asked.

The letter I got today is what I’ve been waiting for. A real apology. It uses the principles of Compassionate Accountability, and almost exactly adheres to the four steps for an effective apology I described in a post on the topic last year. Here are the steps, what Mr. Munoz said to me, and my reactions.

Step 1: Share your feelings

“We can never say we are sorry enough for what occurred, but we also know meaningful actions will speak louder than words.”

I appreciate this, and I would really like to hear how you, Oscar, actually feel about this. Are you embarrassed? Ashamed? Anxious? Sad? Get honest and transparent with me.

Step 2: Identify your behavior and how it caused harm

Earlier this month, we broke that trust when a passenger was forcibly removed from one of our planes….It happened because our corporate policies were placed ahead of our shared values. Our procedures got in the way of our employees doing what they know is right.”

Thank you. This is important because if you don’t know what you did, why it happened, and how your behavior caused harm, you can’t make meaningful change.

Step 3: Make it right

“..we will no longer ask law enforcement to remove customers from a flight and customers will not be required to give up their seat once on board.”

“We will increase incentives for voluntary rebooking up to $10,000 and will be eliminating the red tape on permanently lost bags with a new “no-questions-asked” $1,500 reimbursement policy.”

Specific actions that show you intend to change your behavior are critical. Thank you United.

Step 4: Be receptive

“I have found myself reflecting more broadly on the role we play and the responsibilities we have to you and the communities we serve.”

I’m glad this experience is inviting United to step back and reflect. Even better, I’d like to know what’s going on with you personally? Any transformation on the inside that would give us confidence you are changing for the better? I would have also appreciated an invitation to share my feelings, ideas, and beliefs about what United can do to improve. A real apology reactively AND proactively takes into account the other person’s feelings and experience.

My wish for United and Mr. Munoz is that this experience has helped them recognize that no matter how big you get, you are still dealing with real people who have real feelings. This is a relationship business.

Trust is built by answering two questions every day, in every interaction.

Am safe with you?

Can count on you?

I will fly United again, and I look forward to struggling with you, Mr. Munoz, to turn this mistake into a stepping stone for success.

Read my entire letter from Mr. Munoz

Check out this fun site analyzing apologies.


Conflict without Casualties—Mobile, Tablet and PrintJoin the Compassionate Accountability movement with my new book, Conflict Without Casualties.

Inside…the template for making a better apology.

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Solve Analysis Paralysis By Grieving These Three Losses

I love buffets, any kind. I’ve never met a buffet I didn’t exploit. I used to think it was because I loved food so much. I grew up in several countries and have developed an expansive palette. So I reasoned that I liked buffets because I just like to try lots of different foods.

Recently I’ve discovered that my attraction to buffets may go a little deeper. The truth is, I don’t like to choose among options. I have a very difficult time ordering off a menu. I can’t decide what I want. I check with others to see if we could “share a couple things” so I can try more than one menu item. I look for the combo plate. If the restaurant doesn’t have one, I often attempt to customize the options to get greater choice. Sometimes I just order several appetizers. My last resort tactic is to ask the server to surprise me and choose something for me. This way I can avoid responsibility for my choice.

This habit wreaks havoc on my waistline. And I think it all stems from my difficulty letting go and moving on. I worry that the other person’s food might end up tasting better than mine and then I would be disappointed. I worry that the option I don’t choose might have been the better one. It’s crazy-making!

Avoiding the choice to take action, let go, and move on costs companies billions of dollars a year in the form of lost opportunities, resources wasted in predictive analyses, and bringing in more consultants whose recommendations are never implemented. How is it that people, teams, and organizations can put so much into planning, learning, and organizing yet avoid taking the leap to implementation? We’ve discovered several reasons, and they all lead back to losses that must be authentically experienced to move forward.

Here’s the crux; loss is an emotional issue. It cannot be solved with logic.

Loss of Control

Once I take action, I’ve lost some control over what might happen. If I keep thinking, I don’t have to experience the unknown that accompanies doing. If I keep talking, I can avoid finding out how someone will react to what I’ve shared. If I keep analyzing, I can avoid the loss of control over what happens next. Loss of control is scary and pushes many people and organizations to turn around, re-group, or simply skip Persistence altogether. Do you fear the loss of control that often comes with making a decision?

Loss of Options

Once I choose the turkey breast, I’ve lost the option of nachos. Once we transition to InfusionSoft as our Customer Relationship Management tool, we’ve lost the option of using MailChimp. Once I agree to the price of this car, I’ve lost the option to negotiate a lower price. The loss of “what could have been” keeps many people up at night. Regrets and second-guessing is an energy vampire that keeps us from letting go and moving on.

One year during the Christmas holiday, my oldest daughter needed to make a decision about a summer youth mission trip. The reservations needed to be made and deposits submitted six months in advance. The mission trip conflicted with church camp. The pros and cons were clear. She had everything she needed to make the decision. And she couldn’t. I found her curled up in a ball in her bed, sobbing. I asked her what was wrong. She explained, “If I do the mission trip then I will miss church camp. If I go to camp I’ll miss the mission trip. I can’t decide.”

Do you struggle with the loss of options that will disappear if you make a choice? The only way through is to grieve.

Loss of Certainty

Moving from planning to doing makes it real. It opens up a host of unknown variables. Anything could happen. This uncertainty is frightening. I remember the first time I jumped off the high-diving board at the neighborhood pool. I stood there for what seemed like hours, staring down at the water a million miles away. My friends yelled, taunted, and reassured me. The kids behind me got impatient. I climbed back down the ladder several times, too scared to take the plunge. I re-assessed the situation, asked others about their experience, practiced “slapping my feet” against the water to simulate the impact I might experience. None of it helped. There came a point where nothing else I did could take the fear away. Nothing else could close the gap that remained between what I knew and where I needed to go. I didn’t jump that day.

Here’s the crux; loss is an emotional issue. It cannot be solved with logic. Only authentically experiencing the grief of loss will take you to the next level.

How can leaders apply this in real life?

  • Don’t avoid feelings. Give permission to share emotions about the road not taken or the choice not made. It’s OK to be sad. This is an important step in moving forward.
  • Accept consequences and the emotions that go with them. Rather than reminisce about what could have been, accept the responsibility for the choice you made by grieving the choice loss associated with the alternatives.
  • Play the tape all the way to the end. Play out the scenario associated with each choice option. Have intentional conversations about the control, options, and opportunity lost by the choice you are making. Grieve this loss before moving on.
  • Don’t confuse “moving on” with “letting go.” You can coerce someone to move on. A majority vote, intimidation, or guilt will accomplish that. But you can’t force someone to let go. This is an emotional thing that can only be resolved in a safe and accepting environment.

Here are some examples of grieving loss in order to avoid analysis paralysis.

“I will choose to switch IT providers because I know we need more capacity. I realize that the learning curve will be steep and this will be very hard work. I am sad to lose the relationship and dependability we had with our old provider.”

“I am going to let Gary go. I accept the consequences of waiting so long to make the decision. I feel badly about the time and opportunity we lost by delaying an inevitable outcome.”

Copyright Next Element Consulting, LLC 2017

Conflict-Without-Casualties_3dThis article was taken from Nate Regier’s new book Conflict Without Casualties: A Field Guide for Leading With Compassionate Accountability. Get your copy today.

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The Map Is Not The Terrain

Have you ever gotten lost while following your SatNav GPS?

I bet you were so intent on the turn by turn navigation and watching the map that you missed valuable street signs, landmarks, and other signals that would have let you know you were off course.

Here are some models that sent a lot of people and resources down the wrong path. Did you know;

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Conflict and Leadership Lessons From Trump and Clinton

In this election we’ve seen unparalleled levels of conflict, drama, and adversarial politics. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton represent dramatically different approaches to leadership and conflict.

I’ve been intrigued by the work of Bill Eddy, expert in high-conflict personalities, and recent author of Trump Bubbles: The Rise and Fall of High-Conflict Politicians. He has a ton of insight into how Trump ticks, and has predicted with amazing accuracy a lot of Trump’s behavior during this campaign. I asked him to join me for an interactive discussion about what we can learn about conflict and leadership from the presidential candidates. Since we are both behavioral health clinicians, we also took a look at the situation through that lens.

We solicited questions from listeners in advance and attempted to answer as many of these questions as we could. We also analyze what’s going on with this election, and make predictions about what’s going to happen. Were we right? Or did we miss it? Listen to this FREE podcast of our discussion and get insights into topics such as:

  • What are the behavioral patterns of high-conflict personalities?
  • Why is it ineffective to apply the same standards to both candidates?
  • What role has the media played in framing conflict?
  • Why has this election been so polarizing?
  • How could each candidate push the other one’s buttons?
  • Has anything like this happened before in our history?

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Copyright Next Element Consulting, LLC 2016

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CWC + Discussion GuideGet our latest book Conflict Without Casualties: A Field Guide for Leading With Compassionate Accountability. This book is the foundation for our Leading Out of Drama program, a comprehensive system for building cultures of compassionate accountability.

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The Power Of Great Questions: Interview With Marshall Goldsmith

MarshallGoldsmithPhotoBLOGI got the opportunity to interview Marshall Goldsmith, world renowned business educator and coach, on the power of questions. Marshall shares his wisdom around these topics:

  • What’s the difference between active and passive questions?
  • What are the Six Engaging Questions to start every day?
  • What are the top three questions we should ask ourselves when facing leadership challenges?
  • What are the most important things to focus on each day?
In 20 minutes, Marshall gives tremendous value to listeners, offers several free resources and an opportunity to be part of his “Six Questions Study.”

Click here to listen to the full interviewPodBeanButton

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