Management Coaching Blog

Management Tip of the Week: Better Group Decision Making

September 21, 2016

Is your team having difficulty making decisions or has your team made a decision that not everyone supported? If so, next time try using the Nominal Group Technique for group decision making. This process is proven to be more effective than the traditional one vote one person method. It’s particularly helpful in situations where:

• Certain team members are more vocal than others
• Some team members are not participating
• The group does not easily generate ideas
• There are new members on the team or the team is new to working together

Here’s how the Nominal Group Technique works:

  1. The facilitator provides all participants with a sheet of paper with the issue or problem to be addressed and asks them to write down as many ideas and solutions to solve the issue. Allow participants 10 minutes to complete this assignment and instruct them not to talk to each other.
  2. Each participant takes a turn sharing their ideas. As this is happening, one member of the team should record all of their ideas on a board or flip chart (visible to all). Do not debate or allow any discussion of any ideas as they are presented.
  3. After all ideas are recorded, participants may ask questions to seek clarity on any of the ideas presented. Ensure that each person is allowed to contribute and all ideas get the same amount of discussion time.
  4. Allow each participant to cast their vote for their top 3 ideas or solutions and then tally the votes. The idea or solution with the most votes becomes your group decision.

For more information on effective group decision making, management or leadership coaching, contact Tom Figiel at or 312.914.1341.

> > Article originally appeared on the Tandem HR website < <

Management Coaching Blog

Management Tip of the Week: Healthy Company Culture

September 7, 2016

Every company has a culture or a ‘personality’ that defines what the company is like to work for. This company culture can either fuel its success or it can lead to the company’s failure.

Successful companies know that it takes more than just creating a new strategy or a new business line to increase their growth. They know that without the support and the buy in from their employees to do the work, most plans will fail. So to capture the hearts and minds of their employees and to achieve their business plans, they set out to create a healthy work culture.

The most common characteristic of healthy work cultures is a set of defined work values that guide how people act and behave in any situation. The following are common values of healthy, high performing cultures as well values of weak company cultures:

They talk to each other rather than about each other.

High Performing Cultures: People go to the person they have an issue or problem with first before talking to others.

Weak Cultures: People talk to others about a co-worker rather than the person themselves.

They inform affected employees about upcoming changes. 

High Performing Cultures: Think of who will be impacted by the change and notify them in advance.

Weak Cultures: Make changes that affect people without telling them beforehand.

They agree on appropriate response times and stick to them.

High Performing Cultures: Promptly respond to internal and external requests or communications, usually within 24 hours.

Weak Cultures: Allow employees to respond to customers or co-workers when they want to, if at all.

Involve their employees in decision making.

High Performing Cultures: Allow the people who do the work to decide how it will get done.

Weak Cultures: Allow only Management to make all the decision.

Hold employees accountable and award them accordingly.

High Performing Cultures: Make all people accountable for their performance and behavior.

Weak Cultures: Allow bad employees to stay employed.

Demand courtesy and cooperation with all co-workers and customers.

High Performing Cultures: Employees treat each other and the customer with respect at all times.

Weak Cultures: Employees are rude and impolite to each other and the customers.

This tip is brought to you by Figiel Coaching & Consulting Inc. For more information on how coaching can help create the culture you want in your company, please contact Tom at or 312.914.1341.

> > Article originally appeared on the Tandem HR website < <

Management Coaching Blog

Manager Tip of the Week: Reducing Frustrations

August 24, 2016

Why do I have to do it all the time? Why can’t someone else do it? Am I the only one who can get things right around here?

These are common questions we ask ourselves when we are frustrated. Frustration is a normal response to feeling overwhelmed. The problem comes when we fail to take any action to reduce our frustrations. Many managers I coach don’t even realize they’ve fallen into this pattern until I ask them, “What are you doing about it?” Then we begin to discuss what they can do to eliminate the frustrations.

If you find yourself frustrated often and would like to reduce these frustrations, try these three simple tips:

  1. Make a list. The act of creating a written list will help you see things in the bigger picture. In that list, ensure you include how you may be contributing to the problem. This act will lend itself well to generating new ideas and alternatives to reduce the frustrations.
  1. Focus on the solution instead of who’s to blame. If you are bothered that you are the one who always gets stuck loading the copy machine with paper, find out if anybody has been assigned the task of copier maintenance.  Ask them if you can help them find a way to eliminate the paper outages. Or, you may discover the task was left unassigned and needs an owner. Focus on what actions you can take as opposed what actions others are not taking.
  1. Manage your expectations. Expecting everything to go as planned all of the time is not realistic. We work with people – real humans – who may tend to forget things and even disappoint us once in a while. Anticipating that life sometimes throws us curve balls, will help reduce many of our frustrations when they arrive.

For more techniques to reduce frustrations and stress, contact Tom Figiel at or 312.914.1341.

> > Article originally appeared on the Tandem HR website < <

Management Coaching Blog

Manager Tip of the Week: Future Focused Feedback

August 3, 2016

Why would you do something like that? Why didn’t you take care of it like we discussed two weeks ago?

What’s your reaction when your manager asks why you did something in the past? Usually, the first thing we try to do is recall what your manager is even talking about, but who really remembers exactly what we were doing two weeks ago? Sometimes in these situations, you recall events differently than your manager does and feel compelled to take a defensive position. It’s normal to react this way as your natural fight or flight responses kick in. You question your manager on the past issue and they provide their retort. This can go on and on, resulting in wasted time, hurt feelings and a loss of trust.

The problem with asking “why?” is it focuses on the past. What’s done is done and we are all familiar with the negative effects of dwelling on the past. This can be avoided when a manager maintains a future focus. For example:

  • Going forward, please put the data in the spreadsheet using the formulas provided.
  • I noticed you missed a few things we talked about in the initial meeting. In the future, I would suggest taking notes so you can recall it later.

These future-focused phrases allow your employee to hear your feedback and make their own conscious decision to change a habit going forward. Studies have shown that people are more likely to take action and follow through when they make the decision themselves.

Common future focused phrases include:

  • You may want to try
  • I would suggest
  • Have you thought about
  • You may want to think about
  • What would happen if

Using future focused phrasing is a simple way for any manager to save time, increase employee confidence and strengthen their relationships. Questioning the past, on the other hand, can leave your employees feeling anxious, confused and powerless.

For more useful manager tools, contact Managerial Coach, Tom Figiel, for a free consultation at 312-914-1341.

> > Article originally appeared on the Tandem HR website < <

Management Coaching Blog

Manager Tip of the Week: Keeping the Communication Flowing

July 12, 2016

I was standing in the checkout line during a recent
grocery store trip when my credit card appeared to be having issues. I was continually swiping the card but nothing was happening. I asked the cashier if I should insert my micro-chipped card instead of swiping it, but she insisted that the store’s machines were not equipped for the new technology and I should simply swipe my card.

The line behind me was growing as the now aggravated cashier and I waited a few more minutes for the swipe to take. After a while, I got desperate and decided to insert the card into the slot anyway. Low and behold – the transaction processed! While it was completing, another employee walked over to the frazzled cashier and said, “Oh, sorry! We switched over to the chip feature last night.” The embarrassment was visible on the cashiers face as she became aware, a little too late, that the chip feature had indeed been activated.

How could the store not communicate this important overnight change to the employee responsible for executing it? If this basic information was not communicated to the employee, what else might be missing? Unfortunately, I’ve witnessed this same lack of communication in a lot of companies. In this case, both the employee and the customer left the experience frustrated and disappointed, neither of which bode well for the company’s long term success.

To boost communication flow within your company, consider these best practices:

The Plan – Ensure there is a plan for leadership to give important company updates to managers who are accountable for disbursing the information to their teams.

The Platform – Find multiple ways to disburse information to employees that are relevant to your environment. For example, if you have a manufacturing plant, you may choose to post information in a common break area or host a brief meeting before each shift. If your employees are in front of computers most of the day, an internal newsletter, intranet post or all company email may be better options. Whatever platform you choose, ensure it reaches your full audience and do not hesitate to use multiple avenues to get information disbursed.

The People – Assign responsibility for the communication flow. How often do you want managers to communicate with their employees? Give expectations up front and follow up to ensure the information continues to flow.

These three simple, yet important, concepts are a great way to keep communication flowing. Once your people build habits vital to open communication, it will move from a trickle to a steady flow. Communication can be a very powerful tool; make sure your employees are set up for success by having that tool!

For more information on improving your workplace communications, contact Leadership Coach, Tom Figiel, for a free consultation at or 312-914-1341.

> > Article originally appeared on the Tandem HR website < <

Management Coaching Blog

Manager Tip of the Week: Service is King

June 21, 2016

Service is king. I don’t know about you, but when I get great customer service from a company, I am much more apt to forgive if something should go wrong. On the other hand, when I am treated rudely or as a bother, I (when possible) will never do business with that company again. I don’t care if I’m missing out on something great; I refuse.  Others have told me they regard service the same way.

Unfortunately, I don’t have to reach too far back in my mind to come up with examples of bad service. It seems to be everywhere and can simply be in the voice tone used by a customer service representative. Just the other day, I decided to try a different restaurant for lunch. When I questioned the price of the order before paying, an annoyed employee replied with an indignant “Yes, it is the right price! Do you want me to go and get my GM?” This was my first impression of the establishment. I will not go back. I have many other restaurants to which I can give my business.

Obviously, quality customer service is good for business. Now, how can you ensure your team is providing it? Happy employees are more apt to give much better customer service to your clients. If they are proud of the company, excited about what they do and feel their job matters, employees will provide much better customer service than the disgruntled ones who resent their managers and just try to get through each day of work.

These three things will help any manager begin to foster an environment where great customer service can bloom.

  1. Lead by example. Effective leaders always go first and demonstrate behaviors they expect in others. Let’s say you want your team to focus 100% on your clients or customers while providing service. Make it a team rule that cell phones are not to be looked at when providing customer service. Now, put down your phone and give 100% of your attention to your employees when you’re dealing with them. Show them what great customer service is!
  1. Set clear expectations upfront. Don’t assume your employees know what you expect them to do and by when. I recently coached a manager that was perplexed as to why a specific employee would never come to him with suggested solutions when presenting departmental problems. I simply asked him, “Have you told this employee that is what you expect?” I got a blank stare. Most employees begin with a genuine interest in pleasing their manager, so make it easy for them and yourself.  Be specific and encouraging with expected behaviors.
  1. Allow your team to be involved. Most people have an innate desire to feel we are contributing to a bigger picture – that our work has purpose and meaning.  Businesses can leverage this desire by showing employees how the work they do fits into the company’s bigger picture. Take it a step further and give them the authority to determine the best way to accomplish their own goals. In other words, focus more on the ‘what’ and less on the ‘how’.

When your employees are invested and interested in the goals of the company, treated fairly and feel they are contributing to the bigger picture, they will display more of an interest in satisfying your customers. For more information on how your management team can improve customer service for your business, contact Leadership Coach Tom Figiel for a free consultation at or 312-914-1341.

> > Article originally appeared on the Tandem HR website < <

Management Coaching Blog

Manager Tip of the Week: Celebrating Mistakes

June 8, 2016

Have you ever made a mistake at work and considered covering it up? I tried this early on in my career and as I come to find out, I’m not alone.  Many employees are afraid to admit they’ve made mistakes for fear of their manager’s reprisal.  Fear of getting yelled at disrespectfully or fear of letting your manager down are usually the primary reasons people hide their mistakes.  In addition, people fear their manager will discuss their mistakes among others or will never let it go and continually bring it up.

As managers, it’s important to be aware of this fear so we can proactively create an atmosphere that celebrates employees learning from their mistakes.  Aside from the fact that ignoring or covering mistakes costs more time and money in the long run, employees who are not afraid to share their mistakes learn and grow from them.  Ideally, employees should feel confident sharing their mistakes with the whole team so everyone can learn and grow.

Great leaders always go first and should set the example of owning up to their mistakes, learning from them and sharing what they’ve learned.  This will encourage the rest of the team to do the same.  For more information on encouraging your team to share, learn and grow from their mistakes or information on improving your management or leadership skills, contact Managerial Coach, Tom Figiel, for a free consultation at or 312-914-1341

> > Article originally appeared on the Tandem HR website < <

Management Coaching Blog

Manager Tip of the Week: Keeping It Simple

May 25, 2016

Over the last year while driving on the north part of Lake Shore Drive, I’ve noticed how the city of Chicago has devoted a lot of attention and money to keep the median beautiful with clean flowers, mulch, etc.  However, Lake Shore Drive itself is in rather horrible shape. For the last ten years, potholes, cracks in the asphalt, and giant bumps make drivers feel like they’re speeding through a Mario Kart course. Although I believe the city’s intentions are good, I’d rather see that money going toward safer and smoother road conditions rather than something I can barely see for a few seconds.

I often see employers do the same thing as well—offering perks, incentives, and other material things that they think will make their employees happy. You can have all of the perks in the world, but most people want just three simple things from their boss to be happy:

What do you want me to do? By providing clear and consistent guidelines and instructions, employees will feel more confident, which minimizes stress levels and improves efficiency. As a manager, your success is their success, so tell them what you want them to do.

Provide the tools and resources to do the job. Now that I know what you want me to do, give me all the tools I need to get the job done. This includes not only providing me the physical tools, but the psychological tools as well. Be there for me when I have a question, or need to vent. This will go a long way to help build my confidence.

How am I doing? Simply, provide feedback.  Managing doesn’t stop at delegating. Did I do the job right? Should I have done anything differently? Everyone wants to do a good job, and these are questions every employee wants the answers to. My confidence grows when I know I did something right, and I then want to do more of it. On the same token, I’d rather know sooner than later if I did something incorrectly, so I can fix what needs fixing as soon as possible.

Benefits and incentives are decent ways to show appreciation, but more often it is about preventing the hardships—the potholes—that people appreciate most.

For more useful manager tools, contact Managerial Coach, Tom Figiel, for a free consultation at or 312-914-1341.

> > Article originally appeared on the Tandem HR website < <

Management Coaching Blog

Manager Tip of the Week: Leadership Credibility

May 11, 2016

As a leader, you are responsible and held accountable for your team’s productivity
and final results. If your staff decides that you are not credible, it becomes extremely difficult to achieve desired results. As a Leadership Coach, I work with many managers who find it challenging to motivate their staff to do what needs to be done. As a result, these managers are frustrated and don’t know what to do next. The first thing I work with these leaders on is establishing credibility.

How to establish credibility right now:

Be honest. Always tell the truth no matter how uncomfortable it may be. Your employees may not like what you have to say and might even disagree with you, but they will respect you for being a professional and having the courage to tell the truth. Your reward? Their loyalty!

Be on time. Nothing says “disrespect” like chronically arriving late to meetings. What you’re really saying? I do not value your time. When you are late, you also affect others’ schedules and are perceived as disorganized.

Follow through. Do what you say you will do. People may give you the benefit of the doubt the first time you do not follow through with a commitment. However, when a leader consistently does not follow through with their commitments, staff members either grow complacent or leave the company. Both of which negatively impact business results.

Be open to change. Your staff will quickly begin to resent you when you ask them to change or improve performance when you are not open to change. Effective leaders go first to demonstrate the behavior they expect in others. Get feedback from your boss and your staff on one thing you could do differently that would make their job easier. Then, follow through and make that one change. Your staff will be more open to change themselves after you go first.

All effective leaders place a high importance on maintaining their credibility and know that it is a necessary requirement to get results. To learn about more behaviors that demonstrate credibility, contact Leadership Coach, Tom Figiel, at or 312-914-1341 for a FREE consultation today

> > Article originally appeared on the Tandem HR website < <

Management Coaching Blog

Manager Tip of the Week: Cultivating Team Players

April 26, 2016

When working together in teams, employees can achieve a common goal much more efficiently and timely than they would by themselves.  That means business owners reap benefits like financial savings, increased innovation and higher morale.

As any seasoned manager can attest –
team work is not all fun and games.  Every employee comes to the team with a different set of strengths and weaknesses, communication styles and personalities.  While this diversity provides experience for the team, it can also mean conflict.

Managers that find themselves in charge of teams with conflict or low productivity can encourage their employees to become better team players with the following six points.  The best way to teach them these points is to demonstrate them yourself.

  • It’s not all about you. Teach them to look outside their own duties and be mindful of others’ workload and priorities.  Have them ask themselves, “What can I do to help others?”
  • Prove reliability. Everyone has experienced the frustration of waiting for someone else to complete a task so they can finish their job.  Teach direct reports to be self-aware and ensure they know how their work impacts others.  Encourage them to keep track of their deadlines for other team members.
  • Adapt. Don’t be afraid to try new ways of doing your job. Welcome other suggestions and feedback where you can improve your performance.
  • Avoid office politics. Learning about a peer or supervisor saying something about you behind your back can be painful and destroy trust.  Urge your reports to be aware of what they are saying and to whom.  As a general rule, if you wouldn’t say it to that person’s face then you shouldn’t say it behind their back.
  • Practice your listening skills. The ability to help solve problems and make effective decisions as a team member will often require an evaluation of other people’s ideas and perspectives.  Encourage team players to afford themselves the time to do this before debating or critiquing every point others are making.  Ask probing questions about others’ ideas and perspective to fully understand their point of view.
  • Move forward. Rehashing old errors and blaming others is not only mentally draining, but it is also a waste of time and money.  It’s much more productive to focus on what you can control. For starters, determine if and how you are contributing to the problem.  If so, fix it and move on.


Given the choice, we all prefer to work alongside a team player.  It’s easier and much more rewarding.  To learn more about fostering a productive team environment or other managerial issues, contact Leadership Coach, Tom Figiel at or 312-914-1341 for a FREE consultation today!

> > Article originally appeared on the Tandem HR website < <