Productivity is critical to any workplace, whether it's a small business, a large corporation, or a government entity. Research has shown that a productive work environment is more efficient, produces higher quality work, and drives business growth. It also ensures employees work to their fullest potential.

Boosting productivity in the workplace requires the implementation of specific best practices that can improve employee focus to help them work smarter and achieve their goals. But which best practices actually boost productivity in the workplace? Here are a few of the key ones.

1. Focus on One Task at a Time

One of the most essential best practices for boosting business productivity is to encourage employees to focus on completing a task at a time until it is complete before moving on to the next. It not only improves focus but also ensures the work is done well.

Multitasking can be tempting but also leads to decreased employee productivity, as switching between tasks can cause distractions, decrease focus, and even contribute to burnout. Encouraging employees to focus on one task at a time can be achieved by setting clear priorities and deadlines for each task.

2. Consider Regular Breaks

Another critical best practice for boosting workplace productivity is encouraging employees to take regular breaks. Although taking breaks may seem counterintuitive, they can increase productivity by giving employees time to recharge and refocus.

Encourage employees to take short, frequent breaks throughout the day rather than one long break. Additionally, encourage employees to take breaks outside the office, such as walking or engaging in other physical activities.

3. Prioritize Bigger Tasks

One of the most challenging aspects of productivity is managing more significant, more complex tasks. Encouraging employees to prioritize these tasks can help ensure they are completed on time and efficiently. It also ensures that they don't miss out on essential duties.

Encourage employees to break these complex tasks down into smaller, more manageable sub-tasks, helping to make them less overwhelming and easier to tackle. Additionally, encourage employees to set clear deadlines for each sub-task, which can help keep them focused and motivated.

4. Achieve Small Objectives

In addition to prioritizing larger tasks, encouraging employees to pursue quick wins can also help boost productivity in the workplace. These small objectives help employees stay motivated and focused, as they can see progress toward their larger goals.

Additionally, encourage employees to celebrate each achievement to boost morale.

5. Delegate Tasks

Finally, delegating tasks is another critical best practice for increasing productivity in the workplace. Delegating tasks can help ensure that work is distributed evenly among employees and that everyone contributes to the business's success.

Employees should learn to identify tasks that they can delegate to others. It helps free up time for employees to focus on their own tasks and helps build trust and teamwork among colleagues. Additionally, encourage employees to communicate clearly and effectively as needed.


Your people are your greatest asset, and their productivity is essential for driving business growth and success. Implementing these best practices can help your team members stay focused, motivated, and efficient while reducing the risk of burnout and stress.

Research shows that businesses can make their overall workplace more productive and successful by encouraging employees to focus on one task at a time, take regular breaks, prioritize more significant tasks and break them into smaller pieces, pursue quick wins, and delegate tasks.

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Note: The suggestions in this article were inspired by a post on Indeed.

With all of the recent headlines about artificial intelligence replacing more and more jobs, a lot of people are thinking about how to future-proof their careers. And while we probably can't stop the robots from coming, there are steps we can take to stay current.

How to Future Proof Your Career

A strategy I suggest to my leadership coaching clients is to attend a professional conference or workshop every year. Although it may be challenging to take the time and spend the money, doing so is an investment in your career. For myself, I find that attending a professional coaching conference sparks my enthusiasm as I learn new coaching trends and get recharged by the amazing professionals in my field.

A conference I attended earlier this year was the Career Thought Leaders Symposium: Envision the Future of Work, in San Diego. This was one of the best conferences I’ve ever attended. One of my favorite presentations was from Petra Zink, a Personal Branding and Digital Strategist who came all the way from Australia to share her strategies on future-proofing one’s career path by establishing yourself as a Trusted Authority.

Zink identified three key components to shift from your being seen as a technical expert to being viewed as a trusted authority: capability, credibility, and visibility. There are questions you can ask and steps you can take for each of these components.

  1. Capability. Do you feel you have the expertise needed to make an impact in your career? Are you productive and do you get the results you want? If not, what is one short-term and one long-term goal on which you could focus? It could be obtaining a certification in technical skills, working on your soft skills, finding a mentor, or getting involved in a professional organization.
  2. Credibility. What is your present career reputation? What would you like it to be? Your reputation is the combination of the attributes that describe you and the impact you make in your career, and it can either be career-enhancing or career- limiting. What is one small step you can take to be more focused on your reputation? Do you need to re-define your brand? What about soliciting feedback from colleagues?
  3. Visibility. Do you stand out in your organization and industry in an authentic way? Is your LinkedIn profile up-to-date? Do you engage with others on that platform (or whatever social media platform is right for your profession and industry)? Are you connecting regularly with people, not just when you are looking for potential employers? If you aren’t, one step you could take is to make a connection plan, listing individuals with whom you want to stay in touch and how many times you want to connect with them during the year.

Trust is generated at every touch point during the day and how you show up at meetings and follow up with colleagues, customers, and stakeholders. Future proofing your career means standing out as a Trusted Authority which means a focus on boosting your capability, credibility, and visibility.


Beth Benatti Kennedy is a PathWise advisor and leadership coach based in Massachusetts.

For more career guidance, check out the rest of the PathWise site, sign up for our newsletter, or become a member.

A term you may have heard is ‘executive presence’—it’s one of those buzzwords that comes up a lot. However, it’s not just executives who need presence, which is why I often use the term ‘professional presence’ instead.

What is Professional Presence?

In its simplest terms, professional presence is about your ability to inspire confidence—inspire confidence in the workplace that you’re the person to involve in high-visibility projects, inspire confidence among peers that you’re capable and reliable, and inspire confidence among senior management that you have the potential for great achievements. People with professional presence work well under pressure, communicate clearly, and have a confident, capable persona.

Over 20 years of coaching leaders who make an impact, I have observed three key factors that are part of their professional presence and have added to their success.

Credibility + Self-confidence + Resilience = PROFESSIONAL PRESENCE


Professional Credibility

Your credibility is crucial to your professional presence. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines credibility as, "The quality or power of inspiring belief."

There are four aspects of credibility.

1. Competence.

This is where your skills and expertise in your specific job function are crucial. Is there anything you need to do to be more competent in your present position? Do you make time to stay up-to-date on the latest trends to learn new skills, and do you partner with colleagues and get feedback and help when needed?

2. Communication.

Your communication is crucial to your credibility. This includes not only your body language; eye contact, facial expressions, the tone of your voice, and presenting to others in a clear manner, but also your written communication. Do you respond to emails in a timely manner and focus on impact and strategic direction?

3. Preparedness.

Do you show up at meetings organized and with a clear agenda so others get the information they need and have a clear roadmap to follow? If you are making a presentation, do your slides create a story with impact? Don’t cause death by PowerPoint with too many slides and too much information!

4. Integrity.

Integrity in the workplace comes in many forms but refers to having a combination of honesty and a strong work ethic. Developing trust with others can be more complicated if you’re working virtually, but it is possible. Do you take the time to build rapport with new colleagues and manage stressful situations in a respectful way?

Focus on these four areas to build credibility as the first step in enhancing your professional presence.

Professional Self-Confidence

Self confident people have high satisfaction at work and are not afraid to take on new challenges. Here are four tips to boost your self-confidence.

  1. Eliminate deficiency-focused language. Deficiency focusing is being laser-focused on the negatives of the situation. This often manifests itself in the language we use. If you’re stressed out at work and use negative language like “I can’t…”, you close your mind to solutions, and limit your ability to develop a problem-solving competency and a growth mindset, both crucial to being confident.
  2. Ask questions. Asking questions is an important strategy in your confidence toolbox. Before beginning a project, be clear on the outcomes needed and get clarification of what precisely is required. Floundering around and stressing out your manager and yourself because you have no idea if you’re on the right path is not going to increase your confidence.
  3. Focus on continuous improvement. Practice is the key to confidence and success. It’s not only the practice, though. It’s stepping out of your comfort zone, getting feedback from others you trust, correcting mistakes along the way, and being open to learning. Staying current with the latest trends in your career area is another way to expand your skill set and build confidence.
  4. Have fun! Studies have shown that a great way to be confident in your career is to not take yourself too seriously. Of course, accomplishing specific objectives in your job is important but you can also have fun while you’re doing it. You’ll be amazed at how being more lighthearted boosts your confidence at work.

Focus on these four areas to build self-confidence as a way of enhancing your professional presence.

Professional Resilience

Excellent research on developing resilience has been done by Dr. Lucy Hone, a director of the New Zealand Institute of Wellbeing & Resilience. Her valuable—and painful—insights came as a result of her own personal tragedy. In 2014, her 12-year-old daughter, Abi, was killed in a car accident. “Instead of being the resilience expert,” Hone said, “suddenly, I’m the grieving mother”.

So, she decided to turn to her own work and conduct what she described as a self-experiment. “I’d done the research, I had the tools, I wanted to know how useful they would be to me now in the face of such an enormous mountain to climb.” She learned, “that you can rise up from adversity, that there are strategies that work, that it is utterly possible to make yourself think and act in certain ways that help you navigate tough times.”

Here are three of Hone’s insights:

It doesn’t matter how many degrees you have or the amount of money you have in the bank or how well you have planned, you will face unexpected challenges.

In my leadership coaching practice, I have had leaders deal with some of the greatest challenges in their careers during the last two years. One leader had to lay off an entire department. He knew this was the only business option for the survival of the company, and he did it with the highest integrity he could, but it was painful.

They focus on the things that they can change and accept the things that they can’t. A 2005 study by Martin Seligman, at the University of Pennsylvania, found that people who make a daily gratitude list, writing down good things that happened to them during that day, experience higher levels of gratitude, higher levels of happiness, and less depression over the course of six months. Paying attention to the positive “is a vital, learnable resilience skill.”

“Ask yourself whether what you’re doing — the way you’re thinking, the way you’re acting — is helping or harming you”, says Hone. “That puts you back in the driver’s seat. It gives you some control over your decision-making.”

How do you know if you’re resilient? One way is to assess your resilience via the Benatti Resilience Benchmark, which focuses on the five strategies of Benatti Resiliency Model®: well-being, self-awareness, brand, connection and innovation. After completing the Benchmark, you can download the Resilience Roadmap, with tactics and resources to get you started on building resilience.


Focus on your credibility, self-confidence, and resilience to enhance your professional presence.

By Beth Benatti Kennedy, MS LMFT

For recommended books on self-confidence and self-esteem, check out this list.

For more on mindset, we recommend Carol Dweck's Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

For more on continuous improvement, we recommend James Clear's Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

For more on careers, leadership, and personal development, check out our other career content.

All of us need to learn to lead through change, especially during challenging times. We’re in a major transition period. Externally, the Covid pandemic continues, financial markets are down 15-20%, supply chains and job markets remain dislocated, and inflation – something we haven’t really experienced in almost 40 years – is upon us.

Such VUCA environments – i.e., those that encompass volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity – are becoming more the norm as the pace of change accelerates around the world and we continue to evolve toward a knowledge economy.

It’s easy to become overwhelmed by all of this change. However, to be fully successful, you need to embrace it and become comfortable with it. Even if you’re not a senior leader in your organization, you play a role, as almost every company out there needs to create a culture of change leadership in all levels of the organization.

Leading Through Change

What can you do to help lead through change? Here are 10 great ways:

1. Focus on what matters most

Not everything is equally important. Figure out what is most important to delivering on your own commitments, to your team’s objectives, and to the firm’s success. Focus your time on those things. De-emphasize lower priorities, tune out the noise, use your time wisely, and don’t get distracted.

2. Take a broad view

Get yourself and your team members out of your silo. See things in an end-to-end or firm-wide fashion. Seek to understand what other groups do and how they are contributing to the work at hand. Above all, view service delivery through the customers' eyes.

3. Act with urgency

In high-change situations, time is of the essence. Make the most of it, and don't let time elapse unnecessarily. You can get a lot of things back, but you can't re-capture lost time in the long term.

To be clear, this doesn’t mean you have to have to work all the time. While periods of change often require you to work harder than might otherwise be the case, it does no good to work so hard that you burn yourself out or burn out your team.

4. Be accountable

Take ownership. Do what you say you’re going to do, and follow through on your commitments. Don't blame other groups and don't pass problems off to others.

Don’t “delegate up”, i.e., look to your manager or to senior leadership in your firm to tell you what to do or to solve all problems. If you see "white space" that no one is addressing, figure out how you can answer those questions for your team. When things don’t go as expected, determine why and address the underlying causes.

5. Act decisively

The lack of a decision is often worse than the wrong decision. You can often correct a wrong decision, particularly if you “fail fast”, but if you don't make a decision at all, you're just spinning.

6. Communicate early and often

Be transparent. Speak in plain language. Explain the why. not just the what, how, and when. Treat people like adults and don't dumb things down or sugar-coat them.

Make your communications two-way, multi-level, and organization-wide to boost employee engagement in navigating rough waters. Get an outside perspective wherever you can.

7. Practice agility

Don't let yourself be overly wedded to your original course. Build in interim milestones and checkpoints. Iterate accordingly. Be willing to call "time out" if things really aren't working as planned.

Be open to new information, including from non-traditional sources.

8. Get comfortable with conflict

Things aren’t always going to go perfectly. Everyone isn’t always going to agree. Differences will arise.

Confront these situations and be willing to raise issues when you see them. Seek to understand others’ points of view when they raise an issue. Learn how to address conflicts constructively and with an open mind. It’s always better to surface issues early than to let them fester.

9 Use your influence

Guiding someone to a solution is more powerful than just telling them what to do. Focus on asking good questions. Help by leading people to see a situation in a new light. Empower them to act.

10. Stay true to your principles

It’s easy to take short-cuts when you’re under pressure. Avoid this risk by being clear in advance on the firm’s values and on your own. Have clear lines beyond which you will not go. Do what’s right for the firm and for your customers.


What leadership skills do you utilize in changing times? We’d welcome your feedback on this list. What resonates? What’s missing? Share your comments below.

Also, if you want to explore this topic more deeply, we’d also recommend Brene Brown’s Daring to Lead and Liz Wiseman’s Multipliers. While not explicitly about leading through change, both books have great insights on how to be a high-impact leader.

If you’ve come across other good books on the topic of change leadership, let us know!

PathWise offers career coaching, courses, content, and community. We want you to live the career you deserve. Basic membership is free, so join today!

Have you ever heard someone say, “If I didn’t have bad luck, I wouldn’t have any luck at all?” Or, “It is what it is” in the resigned tone that says they don’t think they can do anything about a situation? Or, “Why does this always happen to me?”.

Many of us have probably said one of these jokingly or in a moment of frustration, but believing them can lead to an unproductive mindset. Mindset isn’t about always thinking positively, it’s a ‘mental attitude or inclination.’ It includes how you think of yourself, how you perceive your circumstances, and how you approach change.

Why your Mindset Matters

As a leadership coach and corporate trainer, I have explored with clients how their mindset affects their careers and personal lives and concluded that having a healthy mindset is key to resilience.

The difference between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset can be the difference between becoming a lifelong learner and, eventually, a master in your career. People with a fixed mindset may be inclined to give up easily or crack under negative feedback.

If you are looking to be more resilient and develop a growth mindset, your brain and the way you think about your surroundings may need to change.

Here are some ways you can learn and adapt your thinking, brain and mindset:

Shift your mindset and choose your future!

Focus on your mindset to enhance your resilience, productivity, and appreciation of the good things in your career and life.

By Beth Benatti Kennedy, MS LMFT


For more on mindset, we recommend Carol Dweck's Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

For more on careers, leadership, and personal development, check out our other career content.

Are you aware of your personality type? Personality type isn’t about whether you are an easygoing or grouchy person or a morning or night person; it’s about how you are hardwired. Each of us has differences in the way we approach problems, make decisions, and communicate with others.

Understanding your personality type impacts your resilience because when you understand your natural personality preferences and how they affect you and others, you can adapt your style to enhance overall productivity, reduce stress, and increase career satisfaction. You may also realize that some sticky or challenging situations are out of your control because they involve personality issues.

Understand your Personality Type with these steps:

The 16 Personality Types of the MBTI

Just for fun, take a look at one of the most popular personality tests used today, the Myers-Briggs. Do one of the below personalities sound like you? Maybe it is. Take a look at their career paths.

Remember, this is not a rulebook. These personality types include general tendencies that may not apply to you even if you have that particular personality type. However, it can definitely help you understand future career opportunities. Take a look!

  1. ISTJ (Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, Judging) - Practical, detail-oriented, and responsible. They tend to do well in careers that value organization and stability, such as accounting or project management.
  2. ISFJ (Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, Judging) - Caring and supportive, they excel in careers that involve helping others, such as social work or nursing.
  3. INFJ (Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging) - Idealistic and empathetic, they are often drawn to careers that allow them to make a positive impact on the world, such as counseling or non-profit work.
  4. INTJ (Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging) - Strategic and analytical, they are well-suited to careers that require problem-solving and innovation, such as business or engineering.
  5. ISTP (Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, Perceiving) - Independent and adaptable, they tend to do well in hands-on, technical careers such as mechanics or software development.
  6. ISFP (Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, Perceiving) - Creative and spontaneous, they may be drawn to careers in the arts or design.
  7. INFP (Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving) - Idealistic and imaginative, they often find fulfillment in careers that allow them to express their values, such as writing or teaching.
  8. INTP (Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Perceiving) - Intellectual and curious, they excel in careers that involve analysis and innovation, such as research or technology.
  9. ESTP (Extraverted, Sensing, Thinking, Perceiving) - Bold and adventurous, they do well in careers that require quick thinking and risk-taking, such as sales or entrepreneurship.
  10. ESFP (Extraverted, Sensing, Feeling, Perceiving) - Outgoing and energetic, they excel in careers that allow them to perform and entertain, such as acting or event planning.
  11. ENFP (Extraverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving) - Charismatic and innovative, they are often drawn to careers that allow them to inspire and motivate others, such as advertising or public speaking.
  12. ENTP (Extraverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Perceiving) - Confident and visionary, they do well in careers that involve strategy and leadership, such as politics or management.
  13. ESTJ (Extraverted, Sensing, Thinking, Judging) - Practical and organized, they excel in careers that involve administration and management, such as finance or human resources.
  14. ESFJ (Extraverted, Sensing, Feeling, Judging) - Outgoing and responsible, they do well in careers that involve helping and caring for others, such as education or health care.
  15. ENFJ (Extraverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging) - Charismatic and empathetic, they excel in careers that involve leadership and mentorship, such as coaching or counseling.
  16. ENTJ (Extraverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging) - Confident and assertive, they do well in careers that require strategic planning and executive decision-making, such as business or law.

Spending time discovering your personality type and how it affects your energy and impacts work situations can help you continue to build your career path. With this knowledge, you’ll be able to create strategies for adapting your style to people and situations.

By Beth Benatti Kennedy, MS, LMFT - PathWise Advisory Group Member

In the midst of chaos and uncertainty, an effective strategy for being resilient is by staying focused on your purpose.

Why Focus on your Purpose

Your life's purpose is your internal compass. It defines the direction in which you would like to see your career and life move. It gives you a framework in which to make choices one step at a time that lead you to your best career fit in the long term.

Purpose also gives meaning to your life and provides a sense of stability and continuity in changing circumstances; in other words, it boosts your resilience and prevents burnout. I have observed that my clients who have the highest career satisfaction and engagement levels know their purpose.

Purpose is not just about career satisfaction:

So, what is purpose? Think of your purpose as the contribution you want to make to the world. You can begin exploring your purpose by answering these questions:

How to Focus on Your Purpose

Focusing on your purpose means to discover and live your values.

As you determine the direction of your life going forward, let your purpose provide a sense of stability and continuity, even in changing circumstances.

By Beth Benatti Kennedy, Leadership Coach and Pathwise advisor

For more on careers and leadership, uncover our structured approach.

One of the first things I do with new leadership coaching clients is check on their wellbeing. I ask them about well being elements, their physical wellbeing, their social wellbeing, and their career wellbeing. I also ask them about those things that focus on spiritual nourishment and finding occasions for positive emotions. With many of my clients, this includes laughing, celebrating, and having fun; letting yourself be awed by the world around you; or losing yourself in fulfilling activities.

What types of spiritual nourishment occupy your time?

Types of Spiritual Nourishment

Spiritual Nourishment with Laughter

Whoever said laughter is the best medicine knew what they were talking about because laughter sends mood-lifting chemicals to your brain. Even if you don’t have the gift of being naturally funny (I don’t!), you can keep laughter in your life by hanging out with friends who make you laugh or watching a funny movie or TV show. Notice how much more relaxed and recharged you feel after you’ve had a good laugh!

Spiritual Nourishment with Fun

 Celebration doesn’t have to be saved for a major occasion! I have a tradition of putting confetti in every card I send. It’s my way of reminding others to celebrate the positive events in their lives, and it makes me smile, too.

This approach extends to the work environment too. You don’t have to celebrate every positive email, but if you or your team reaches a project milestone or achieves a goal, take time to acknowledge that. If you can, get out of the office for a sit-down lunch or have an ice-cream party on-site. I have coached many leaders and managers and have learned that celebrating team successes generates team resilience, which improves community wellbeing and keeps teams functioning well on a daily basis, even when work is chaotic and stressful.

Having fun at work is another way to recharge. By fun, I mean finding something to enjoy in your workday. This could be going out to lunch once in a while with a colleague, or meeting someone for coffee and catching up.

An activity that generates fun for some of my clients is participating in a departmental volunteer activity, such as spending an afternoon sorting and packing food at a local food bank. If you travel for business, and are able to add a day and night of personal time, create some fun by taking the opportunity to play tourist at your destination rather than spending all your time in negative emotional triggers like airports, hotels, and conference rooms.

Spirit Nourishment with New Experiences

To nourish your soul, put yourself in the way of awe experiences. Dacher Keltner, a psychologist who heads the University of California, Berkley’s Social Interaction Laboratory, defines awe as “the feeling of being in the presence of something vast that transcends your understanding of the world.” Awe experiences aren’t only available on exotic vacations in stunning locations—they can be triggered by being outdoors, attending live performances of music or theater, or simply observing the beauty of a city street with a fresh dusting of snow.

Flow activities are another way to generate mental and physical energy. Flow activities are those in which you can become totally absorbed, to the point that you often lose track of time. These activities lead to greater life satisfaction and can help you maintain a positive mindset, enhance your performance at work, and even mitigate burnout. I have asked my coaching clients what some of their flow activities are and the list includes playing a musical instrument, writing, painting, gardening, martial arts, swimming, and reading a good book.

Nourish your spirit as well as your body!


By Beth Benatti Kennedy, MS, LMFT

Check out all of our career-oriented content.

Beth Benatti Kennedy brings more than twenty years of experience to her role as a leadership and executive coach, resiliency-training expert, and speaker. Her Benatti Resiliency Model has helped thousands of people develop the resilience to adapt to changing career circumstances, remain productive and engaged, and find greater life and career satisfaction.

In addition to dynamic programs, Ms. Kennedy has presented her Benatti Resiliency Model at diverse professional conferences and symposiums across the globe. Participants praise the interactive nature of her presentation and leave with strategies to set their career recharge in motion.

She is the author of Career ReCharge: Five Strategies to Boost Resilience and Beat Burnout, which continues her mission of recharging individuals in their careers and lives so they have the energy needed for today’s world.

Beth is a certified Leadership Coach Academy Talent Management / Leadership Coach, and a certified Linkage Inc. Leadership Coach. She holds certifications as a 360Reach Analyst and in the Leadership Circle Profile. Her expertise includes being qualified to administer the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® instrument, TypeCoach resources, Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument, the Lominger Leadership Architect®, and the ARSENAL™ Assessment.

Beth holds a BS from Bethany College, West Virginia, an MS in Human Resource Counseling from Northeastern University, Boston, and a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies in Marriage & Family Therapy from the University of Massachusetts at Boston.

Sharing your voice is easier said than done, particularly in work settings. When you work on the front line of a company or even somewhere in the middle, it’s easy to believe that your voice doesn’t matter, particularly in larger organizations. It’s all too easy to think to yourself:

Two Way Flow of Information

The reality, however, is that high-performing organizations understand the importance of two-way communication flow, both up and down. In addition to the typical types of formal upward communication – reporting, presentations, performance management information, employee performance meetings, dashboards, and the like – senior managers depend on informal upward communication systems as well. And it can’t just come from their direct reports. It needs to come from all levels, and in some cases all functions, of the organization.

Receiving feedback can come through a chance encounter in the elevator or the cafeteria or even the bathroom. It can come during a small group Q&A session. It can come in the bar after work. Or it can come when a junior person walks up to a senior person’s desk or into their office and offers to share their views.

The very best senior leaders are active cultivators of continuous feedback. They make themselves available. They hold town halls and other communication channels. They walk the floor. They attend company social gatherings. They engender trust by being approachable and being good listeners. They almost always have very good organizational antennae. They promote a strong feedback culture.

Most other senior leaders do only some of these things. It’s not because they don’t want the feedback. They do. It’s just that they haven’t yet mastered the many ways to cultivate regular feedback.

Don’t hold that against them, and don’t assume that it means they’re not interested in your views. They are. But they’re often busy or focused on other topics or thinking about getting home to a family event at the end of the day or any one of many other things that might detract from their feedback gathering.

Still, one of the biggest frustrations of a senior leader is when they make an effort to seek feedback from employees and managers but don’t get any. No one asks a question in town hall, or they don’t share their views when asked in a meeting.

In these situations, the senior leader is left to wonder, “Am I just saying or doing everything right?” (which they rarely are – we’re all human, after all). More likely, they’re saying to themselves, “Do these people just not care?”. Is that the impression you want to leave a senior person? Probably not.

Feedback Culture at Work

To be fair, some senior leaders really don’t want your feedback. They’re threatened by criticism. Or they don’t want their proposal or view of a situation to be countered. Or they’re aware of the issues but are tuning them out because they don’t know what to do about them. Or they know they’re on their way out or to another role and are just ignoring them. It’s even possible that the broader company culture does not create a feedback culture.

All of these are bad situations, and you really don’t want to work for these kinds of leaders or in these kinds of companies. If you do, you should probably be considering your options, because sooner or later, this type of behavior will catch up with the senior leader and possibly with the company overall.

Some leaders will have a negative reaction to bad news in the moment, but later truly internalize the feedback you have shared. While not ideal, this outcome is at least better than willfully ignoring feedback.

Sharing Your Voice: 7 Easy Steps

By being willing to share your voice, you multiply your impact and make yourself more valuable to your team and organization. How do you do it? Here are seven suggestions:

Make sure you understand your company’s strategy and how you fit into it.

Read the company’s Annual Report. Listen to earnings calls or Analyst Day presentations, if you work for a public company. See how the company positions itself in its marketing materials, such as on the corporate website. Know who the competition is. Attend industry events.

All of these are ways to help you develop an understanding of the company’s strategy. Then get clear on where you fit in.

What part of the strategy are you supporting? What do you personally need to do to help the company be successful in that area? How will that success be measured?

It’s essential that you understand your company’s purpose and your own purpose in the company. It will help you put context around your point of view. And as an added bonus, it will likely help you get up in the morning more excited about going to work each day.

Develop your own view on how it’s going.

Put yourself in your boss’ shoes, or their boss’ shoes, or the CEO’s shoes. This is what companies mean when they say they want you to, “Act like an owner.”

What do you think is going well and not so well? What would you be doing differently if you were in charge? What does your division or your team or even what do you need to do to make that happen? What’s getting in the way of that? Funding, resourcing, time, something else?

Applying your own critical thinking to the situation will make you more valuable in your day-to-day work and more prepared for that informal upward feedback opportunity.

Take advantage of opportunities to get noticed.

Attend Town Halls and ask questions. Offer to work on special projects. Participate in company social or volunteer events. Introduce yourself to the senior leaders. Tell them what you do, who you work for, how long you’ve worked for the company, etc.

In other words, help them get to know you. You may leave it at that the first few times you interact with them, but over time, you’re likely to feel more comfortable around them, and they’ll also be getting to know you. That puts you in an excellent position to share your views when the time or need arises.

If you have concerns or questions, ask.

Staying silent is the worst thing you can do. Consulting firm McKinsey & Company refers to the "obligation to dissent", i.e., the notion that even the most junior staff member has not just a right but an obligation to raise differences with the most senior person. Why? You may legitimately see the situation in a different light than others.

You may have unique experience on which you can draw. You almost certainly have more specific facts than the senior leader, particularly if they’re related to what you do every day. You may just be curious about something that hasn’t been discussed.

Whatever the basis, be willing to share your concerns and ask your questions. Senior leaders are desperate for this kind of intelligence.

Be thoughtful about time and place.

Everyone responds to feedback differently in different situations. Sometimes a matter requires urgent attention, whether the senior leader is ready to hear it or not. But most of the time, what you have to share can wait for an opportune moment. Manufacture those moments if needed, but be strategic about when and how you share your thoughts.

Focus on the “we”.

Get rid of any “us / them” or victim’s mentality in your mindset. View yourself as contributing to your company’s success, because you do. Your perspectives will be taken much more seriously if the senior leader to whom you’re speaking feels like you want to be part of the solution as opposed to just complaining or pointing out all the problems.

Don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t go exactly as you’d hoped.

Sometimes you don’t say something out loud the way you’d planned it in your head. Sometimes, you may be unaware of a key piece of information that detracts from your point of view. Sometimes you may catch the senior leader at the wrong moment, even if your thoughtful about picking that moment.

No matter what the cause, these situations are going to happen. They’ve happened to all of us, and the vast majority of senior leaders won’t hold such situations against you if you were polite and thoughtful about your feedback.

They’ll be grateful (and probably impressed) if they see that you are trying to see things from their perspective or the company’s perspective, or if you demonstrate an understanding of the competitive or industry dynamics. They’ll definitely be impressed if you convey your thoughts using well-formed logic.

At the very least, they’ll know you cared enough to speak your opinion, and that can be nothing but positive for you.

Finding your voice will undoubtedly make you a more valuable employee and multiply your impact. So tune out those feelings of fear and self-doubt, and get to fostering a feedback rich culture.

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