Author Archives: Steven Smith

Stop That Mole Now

2010 Steven M. Smith Do you have a mole undermining the work of your team? Someone who constantly complains privately to any teammate who will listen but refuses to bring that same complaint publicly to the team? Someone whose actions … Continue reading

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Framing Your Thoughts for Management

©2009 Steven M. Smith, www.stevenMsmith.com You have what you believe is an important thought to share with management. You’re concerned though that management may dislike what they hear. How do you assess how safe it is to share your thought … Continue reading

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Coaching Whiners

Ban whining. It’s destructive communication inside organizations. Read this story about how a manager coached an employee to transform a whine into a complaint with recommendation. Continue reading

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Temperature Reading

©2009 Steven M. Smith, www.stevenMsmith.com Virginia Satir developed this method for discovering a group’s temperature — what we in technology often call the system’s state. A facilitator leads the discovery. He or she keeps the group focused on each agenda … Continue reading

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Drawing Out the Facts: The Art of the Discovery Interview

(c)2007 Steven M. Smith “What?” raced through Janet’s head as she read the email. “Now that’s a surprise.” The message was from Jack Johnson, vice president of development. It said she would receive a meeting request from Rajan Alak, an … Continue reading

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Catch Them Doing It Right

(c)2008 Steven M. Smith A smile formed on Eleanor’s face as she saw me approach her doorway. She and I were meeting to discuss her views on recognizing and rewarding employees. She had been my manager for three years when … Continue reading

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What is the Interaction Model?

Someone asked us recently, “What is the interaction model and why is it useful?” Steve gives his answer: It’s another gift from Virginia Satir, a pioneering family therapist. Her Interaction Model helps you update your own internal communication, which changes … Continue reading

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Waiting For People Who Arrive Late

©2007 Steven M Smith What does it say about the participants of a weekly meeting when the meeting consistently starts 5-10 minutes behind schedule? Answer, the participants are cooperating with each other to start late. Starting late is the status … Continue reading

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Twenty Years Ago

©2000 Steven M. Smith I’m forty-five, with a mainframe background. I often hear complaints from colleagues — associates who are my contemporaries — that younger workers with experience in hot, new technologies are getting paid as much or more then … Continue reading

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Tell Him?

©2006 Steven M Smith It’s ironic that the Baseball Writers Association of America named Joe Girardi the National League’s 2006 Manager of the Year. Giardi was recently fired by the Florida Marlins despite managing a young, low-rated team into contention. … Continue reading

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Safety Margin

©2005 Steven M Smith Jake tossed and turned. He looked at the bedside clock. 3 AM. “I need sleep,” he thought to himself. But sleep would not come. Only worry about tomorrow’s meeting. Edmund, Jake’s manager’s manager, enjoyed probing managers … Continue reading

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Safety Check

©2005 Steven M Smith He is wearing his traditional garb — dark suit, white button down shirt, red tie, and black tasseled shoes. The glare off his wire rimmed glasses makes it difficult to see those steely blue eyes. Harry … Continue reading

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Rethinking Stand-Up Meetings, Part 2

©2007 Steven M Smith I argued in my first article about stand-up meetings that the right participants were the key to a successful meeting rather than whether the participants were standing up or sitting down. Despite my dislike for forcing … Continue reading

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Rethinking Stand-Up Meetings

©2007 Steven M Smith Stand up meetings are popular in software development organizations now. What makes a stand-up meeting more effective than a traditional meeting to socialize status information? Nothing. The effectiveness of a stand-up meeting, like the traditional status … Continue reading

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Don’t Tell Doreen

©2005 Steven M Smith Jarrett, Doreen and I were on the verge of a closing a big sale. We had crafted the Statement of Work (SOW) for two weeks and had finally reached the point where it satisfied both the … Continue reading

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Decide As a Team

©2007 Steven M Smith Do some members of your team make agreements during meetings but fail to support them afterwards?If this behavior is happening, I suspect your team is using an obscure process to make decisions. Identifying Obscure Process An … Continue reading

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