Tag Archives: Bob Rosner

Boss’s Tip of the Week #2: Meetings: How to get things done (without wasting time)

Here is the second installment of the Boss’s Tip of the Week.  This advice column for managers is brought to you by Bob Rosner and Allan Halcrow, co-authors of The Boss’s Survival Guide.

Imagine what would happen if operations in an air traffic control tower were like the average corporate meeting: People speaking over one another and interrupting, random outbursts that have nothing to do with the topic at hand, some participants texting while others sleep, no clear assignment of responsibility and no follow-up. Scary, isn’t it?
Most meetings are pretty scary, too: Black holes that absorb huge amounts of time and accomplish very little (if anything). But just because there aren’t jumbo jets full of passengers at stake doesn’t mean we can’t still run meetings with the efficiency of an air traffic control operation.  
Start with a good reason to call a meeting in the first place. And no, an excuse to eat doughnuts is not one of them. But these are:
*Effective communication. When you need people to really understand something (a change in the company’s strategic direction, a new threat from your competition, a reorganization), a meeting ensures that everyone hears the same thing at the same time, and you can better judge the response.
*Shared expertise. Except in Congress, two heads (or more) are generally better than one. So when you face especially daunting challenges, getting people with different expertise and perspectives together to address the problem is a smart use of resources.
*Consensus. The search for consensus has been overdone: You do not need everyone to weigh in on what kind of paper to put in the copier. But you may need consensus on whether to launch a new product. If so, a meeting can be the most efficient way to get there.
*Productivity. When you hit a roadblock, you can let all work come to a halt to allow for a lot of finger-pointing and hand-wringing. Or you can bring people together to identify the problems and find solutions.

Whichever of these is your goal, know and communicate that to everyone involved. And do yourself (and everyone’s rear end) a favor and don’t try to accomplish all these things in the same meeting. 

Real Life Example
Teresa Taylor, chief operating officer of Qwest, starts every meeting by asking, “Do we all know why we’re here?” Taylor told the New York Times that often people don’t know why they are there – they were invited and so they showed up. If there are eight people in the room, they may have eight ideas about why they have been included. Taylor also asks, “Are we making decisions? Are you going to ask me for something at the end?”
Once the group has decided what they’re doing she asks again if everyone needs to be present – and sometimes people excuse themselves.  Taylor concedes the discussion can eat 10 minutes of time, but she says the investment is well worth it.
We’ll have more meeting tips in future columns.

Boss’s Tip of the Week #1: How to Resolve Disagreements (Without Bloodshed)

eBossWatch is happy to announce a new weekly advice column for managers called Boss’s Tip of the Week.  The column, the first segment of which appears below, will be written exclusively for eBossWatch by Bob Rosner and Allan Halcrow, co-authors of The Boss’s Survival Guide.

Some people collect stamps, some people collect baseball cards, and some people – you know who you are — collect parking tickets. We collect boss stories. We didn’t set out to collect the stories (it’s not as if there’s a Boy Scout merit badge for it), but when one of us writes the syndicated Workplace911 column and the other is a management trainer and consultant it’s an occupational haz- — er, privilege.

As you might imagine, we’ve heard a lot of bad boss stories. Some of them are heartbreaking, some infuriating, and a lot worthy of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not. Still, after hearing literally thousands of stories about bosses we can tell you:

  • Being a boss isn’t easy. (In fact, it’s really tough.)
  • No one sets out to be a bad boss. (No matter how much it may appear otherwise.)
  • Bosses aren’t the problem, they’re the solution. (Yes, really.)

That’s why we wrote The Boss’s Survival Guide – to show bosses how to get great results from employees who actually enjoy working for them. Yes, it is possible.

The new, second edition of The Boss’s Survival Guide is just out, and we thought we’d share some of the best tips on bossing we have. If you’re a boss, these are lessons that you – and your employees – won’t have to learn the hard way. (And they’ll help keep you from showing up as a bad example on eBossWatch.com.) If you work for a bad boss, we hope you’ll find some constructive ideas to share. Or some things to look for in your next boss. Let’s start with managing conflict.


Share responsibility (rather than just blaming the other party).

Let go of the past. Instead, ask what each party can do in the future to preserve the working relationship.

Focus on needs, not wants. Forget a wish list; focus instead on the bottom line.

Accept differences in style. Has someone suggested a great idea that you would never have thought of in a million years? Whatever their origin, differences in style are something that should be appreciated and embraced, not resisted.

Stop being selfish. If you’re the one acting selfishly, try to stop. If the other person is the selfish one, rather than focusing on one selfish act, remember all the people who’ve let you back in their good graces after you’ve done something negative. Return the favor by being more charitable now.

Find out what’s going on. Believe it or not, people usually have a reason for believing what they believe. Taking the time to share perspectives can provide new ideas or offer insight into different positions. Simply having a discussion increases the odds of finding common ground.

Real Life Example

A boss wrote to Workplace911 to share his strategy for resolving conflict. He has a standing offer to any two employees engaged in a conflict: He’ll buy them lunch to work out their problems. The catch? They have to come back and tell him how they’ve resolved their differences. He calls it “the cheapest problem-solving tool ever.”


Bob Rosner is a workplace consultant and well-known authority on employee retention. For the last 25 years, Rosner has consulted with Fortune 500 companies and has been an adjunct professor to MBA students in addition to addressing leading corporations across the world. For more than 12 years, he wrote the internationally syndicated column “Working Wounded: Advice That Adds Insight to Injury.” Bob is the founder of Workplace 911, a comprehensive web site offering help for whatever ails you at work. He has been featured as a workplace expert on The Today Show, 60 Minutes, NPR, CNN, Fox, and others, and his work has been featured in People, Wall Street Journal, Glamour, and Fortune. He lives in Seattle. 
Allan Halcrow is the former editor-in-chief of Workforce magazine, and has been awarded the prestigious McAllister Editorial Fellowship from the American Business Press. He currently serves as Partner at Help Jim, a training and consulting firm that helps employees perform more effectively. Allan lives in Irvine, California.

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