SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 210,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our e-newsletter.

Have you ever put someone on a formal performance improvement plan?

  • Yes, several times: 66%
  • Once: 21%
  • Never: 13%

PIPs are a challenge. People sometimes perform below standard and you’ll need to step up and put them on a PIP. When you do, set them up to succeed. Give them clear, actionable feedback. It’s not enough to simply say “do better at xyz.” If they knew how to do it better, they likely would. If you want them to improve their performance, lay out the new behaviors you want them to demonstrate and let them know clear success criteria. Use the same principles you should apply to all performance evaluations. Giving them clarity gives them a chance.

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS, author of the upcoming book “The Elegant Pitch: Create a Compelling Recommendation, Build Broad Support, and Get it Approved” and “One Piece of Paper: The Simple Approach to Powerful, Personal Leadership.” (read more…)

No Drama Leadership book jacketThis post is excerpted with permission from “No-Drama Leadership: How Enlightened Leaders Transform Culture in the Workplace,” by Marlene Chism (Bibliomotion, 2015).

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The difficult conversations avoided today become the lawsuit the company fights a decade later. Every single day, supervisors and managers complain about employees’ behavior and lack of accountability, but ultimately the problem is the leader’s lack of responsibility, the evidence of which is the evasion of difficult conversations.

If leaders are unwilling to take ownership, how can those same leaders blame the employee? Signs that indicate a lack of leadership include:

  • Blaming employees instead of coaching them
  • Avoiding performance feedback
  • Gossiping about the employee’s ineffectiveness
  • Transferring the troublemaker to another department
  • Firing a long-term employee who has had no warning
  • Making excuses for the lack of clear direction
  • Failing to communicate expectations

There are many reasons individual leaders struggle with responsibility and accountability. (read more…)

Good management habits are the foundation of great leadership. They grow at the intersection of knowledge, skills and desire. Leaders are passionate about acquiring the knowledge available and marshaling the skills needed to get the job done right.

It is work, hard work to cultivate those habits but they pay off by supporting your goals and by building the confidence to anticipate and look forward to meeting new challenges to the success of an enterprise.

Too often, success allows those habits to go fallow. When it is pointed out that they are not practicing the good habits that brought them success, some CEOs respond, “I have a good team around me and they need to practice those habits more than I do,” or, “I have to focus on strategy,” or, “My time is needed on building the new ____.”

recite-9bwgoMany CEOs think that applying new knowledge and utilizing new skills means losing their identity, abandoning what got them to the top. (read more…)

As a leader, what’s your first reaction when someone comes to you and tells you they made a mistake? While you may or may not verbalize your thoughts, you may be thinking to yourself:

  • Oh crap!
  • Seriously?!
  • What the hell were you thinking?!
  • How could you be so stupid?!
  • OMG, how are we going to clean up this mess?

These are our natural, normal reactions when we hear about mistakes. We are all hard-wired to see mistakes in a negative way. Fight or flight. Mistakes are bad, mistakes are a result of incompetence, mistakes should be avoided, mistakes need to be punished, and too many mistakes will lead to failure and getting fired.

Unfortunately, some leaders let their mouths get ahead of their brains and do blurt out their first reactions!

recite-22mo5uWhen that happens, mistakes don’t go away — we just stop hearing about them. They go underground. People are still making them but they are afraid to tell you and get really good at covering them up. (read more…)

The Young Entrepreneur Council is an invite-only organization composed of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses. Read previous SmartBlogs posts by YEC.

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Q. We have a partly remote team. What’s a creative way to bring all key leaders together a few times a year that will actually lead to productive conversation/strategizing?

yec_Kevin Getch1. Hold a quarterly retreat

My company, Webfor also has remote team members and we were struggling with this same question last year. We decided to do a quarterly retreat to bring everyone together to strategize and to tackle our three biggest limiting factors. During that meeting we brainstorm and assign responsible parties and deadlines. We always grab some food and end with drinks. (read more…)