Appreciation 1.jpgOne of the top job satisfaction indicators is “appreciation”. Do you feel appreciated? How about the people above you and below you… do you express appreciation to them? As a leader you need to think about expressing appreciation and modelling appreciation. This action will have a significant impact on your teams morale and their willingness to go the extra mile.

Upward appreciation

It may seem counter culture to express appreciation to your leader but it is an effort well worth making. Often leaders can have a sense of isolation or distance between themselves and their teams. Leaders can also get fatigued from always looking out for and caring for their team members. When a team member expresses appreciation to their leader that can have a profound impact on the leaders thinking and support.

Appreciation is not pandering

Upward appreciation must be relevant and contextually true. If it’s not, then you are just trying to score points with your leader which is a waste of time. Good upward leadership appreciation statements might be:

  • Thanks for guidance on this project
  • I appreciated your insight on that issue
  • Your direction was helpful

Peer to peer appreciation

Peers are often the best source of support and suggestions. Cultivating strong peer relationships is critical for success. You never know who you may end up reporting to or who may end up reporting to you. Mutual appreciation always makes these inevitable transitions easier. So, you need to develop a habit of expressing and modeling appreciation for your peer’s support and guidance.

Downward appreciation

Appreciation 2Building strong teams and motivating your team members to go the extra mile is a core management skill and obligation. You can never express too much appreciation. Making it a habit to say “thank-you” for EVERYTHING is critical. The old school notion that the salary they earn is enough thanks is a joke. You should also enshrine the word “please” in your vocabulary. The best way to avoid having a sense of entitlement, and to make your team feel valuable, is the basic expression of please and thank-you. This is table steaks appreciation.

The next step is to find ways to express appreciation for specific attributes or unique contributions for each team member. I try and do this on a weekly basis. Your ability to think through and find creative ways to express appreciation will be directly proportionate to your success in building an ultra-loyal team.

Difficult team members

When faced with a sullen, negative, or lazy team member one of the first things to do is ramp up the appreciation effort. Trust me, this is really hard. But it is often all it takes to turn around the behaviour of a difficult team member. Of course, it won’t always work and that is when you need to pull out other management tools. But appreciation is your best and first way to engage staff.

Who do you appreciate? In what ways do you need to change how you express appreciation?

David Reimer

Don’t Lie to Yourself

lie4.pngAre you as good as you think you are? Maybe you are better than you think you are! It is important that you have a practical and realistic view of your skills. This isn’t about being a buzz kill, but rather, knowing where you are will help you figure out how to get where you want to be. Overstating your skills can be a career limiter. However, knowing your capabilities and asking for a stretch position is highly appealing to executives. Lots to think about in these few points!


It is important that you have a firm grip on reality. Why? Because your leaders and their peers will have a pretty good understanding of that reality. You can only bluff your why for so long before it will blow up. You are far better off having a candid view of your true skill sets and any limitations. Knowing your reality will ensure that your personal credibility is high. Credibility is the foundation of your personal brand and therefore it is something to be carefully guarded and developed.

360-degree view

It is very helpful to have a 360-degree view of your strengths and weaknesses. A candid assessment of you by your peers, staff, and leaders is an invaluable view. Most companies have a human resources tool and process that will enable this information to be gathered. The insights gains will enable you to focus your skills development efforts.

The stretch position

Once you have a honest and frank understanding of your strengths and weaknesses you are able to define new skills that you want or need to develop. There is a lot of strength in going to your business leaders, providing them with a candid self-assessment, and a request for a stretch position so you can learn new skills. This is a way to gain upward visibility and separate yourself from the crowd.

The risk of the Lie

Those who consistently overstate their skills or abilities will eventually crash. Being “caught out” is embarrassing. However, the vast majority of the time management will just begin to side step the resource and limit their progress. An unspoken black mark will be placed on the resource who is not rooted in reality. You can’t afford this risk so be candid with yourself and others about your skills and capabilities.


We have all seen very public crashes and recoveries. You can recover from just about anything if you build the right plan and take the right steps. The best way to recover in this instance is to simply begin to have a honest conversation with yourself and then others as appropriate. To have learned from a mistake often builds character and strength. Both of which are in high demand in business. It will simply be a matter of time. Worst case, a change in employers could give you a fresh start.

How honest are you about your skills? What are the areas of skill and capability that you are not honest about?

David Reimer

Don’t Stop Learning

Learnging1I think this statement is applicable to all of us. Too often sharp up and coming managers develop a sense of “arrival”. They feel competent and entitled. They forget that learning is a lifelong process. Conversely, the best way for people who are nearing the last decade of their careers to stay relevant and valuable is to learn. A habit of learning will keep you engaged and give you an advantage in the competitive world we live in.

What to learn

There are three key areas of learning that need sustained focus.

  1. People management knowledge
  2. Technology knowledge
  3. Industry knowledge

While there are a number of other areas that warrant time investments, these three are non-negotiable. Read on.

People management

There is a significant difference in how to manage the generational variances in today’s work force. It is not a “one style fits all” world. The expectations and needs of millennials are very different then someone with traditional “old school” views. A manage, young or old, needs to understand and appreciate the differences. There is deep value to be gained from employee’s in the latter years. But you will need to take the time to meet them on their terms to find, release, and harness that value. Conversely, the dynamic thinking of the millennials is awesome as long as it can be applied in a practical and executable manner. Learn the generational people management skills. It will make you a formidable manager.

Technology knowledge

We live in a business environment where technology knowledge is a non-negotiable. I’m not talking about how to use desktop applications. Rather, all of us need to understand how to leverage IT solutions to enable and enhance business strategies. Too often there is a serious gap between the strategy of a business and the capability of IT. There are a number of core principles and policies that are critical to having a vibrant contributing IT organization. As a leader you need to understand them so you can champion, leverage, and lead IT into a full partnership with the business.

Industry Knowledge

The backdrop for industry knowledge is business knowledge. The mechanics of this is that you should be reading one, preferably two to three, business newsfeeds on a daily basis. Basic knowledge like trade agreement impacts, housing starts, banking performance, economic indicators such as GDP, etc. all create a basic knowledge of local and foreign economies. This backdrop is the right lens through which you should observe and consider your industry.

Why? Because no industry is an island both in terms of continental and global activity. Threats and opportunities arise from anywhere. A general industry knowledge framed by broad current business knowledge will enhance your world view and your management decisions. This is a competitive advantage for you.

What does the long game look like?

My Father has a keen understanding of the human condition. As a young man I asked him what my goals and focus should be. Here is what he said;

  • From your twenties into your mid to late thirty’s your primary goal is to learn
  • From your mid to late thirty’s until you early fifties your primary goal is to do while continuing to learn
  • From you early fifties until your early sixties your primary goal is to shift from doing to teaching while continuing to learn
  • From your sixties onward your primary goal is to teach while learning

I am in my mid-fifties and I have proven this model to be spot on. The fact that I have made learning a lifelong pursuit has enable me to be relevant and in demand in my fifties. A lot of my peers are now out of touch and floundering because they did not continue to learn. They felt like they had arrived and there was nothing more for them to learn. That was a critical error.

Are you committed to learning? If so, what did you learn this week? Last week? The month before?

Your personal brand will be dramatically enhanced if you commit to a life of learning!

David Reimer

Good Groupthink

GroupthinkManaging and leveraging Groupthink is a lost or dying art.

When was the last time you were part of a Groupthink event? When was the last time you used Groupthink to build team cohesion and drive performance?

Everyone has been part of a Groupthink event – it is human nature. Just think about a sports event, a social group, a party at University, or a community event. Groupthink is intrinsic to human behaviour. It is also a powerful team leading and team building tool.


Typically, the word is used as a complaint for negative situations, but positive cases might include a group atmosphere of high morale or confidence, like a workgroup that really believes in the quality of their project or product.

As business leaders we should seek to foster positive Groupthink behaviour. How?

Positive Groupthink

It begins with developing team diversity. Diversity in thinking and therefore perspectives. An inclusive diverse team can be scary good! By encouraging cross thinking and openness to new concepts you enable a team to feel empowered. This sense of empowerment to achieve the named task or goals is a key element.

The group starts with the individual

You have to ensure that each team player feels valued by you as their leader. They need to have their ideas heard and their contributions valued. Managing the value of the individual is key to positive Groupthink. Others will observe that the individual is valued and they will develop a sense of loyalty to each other under the leadership structure. A positive individual perspective is a surprising key to group strength and confidence.


Investing time in your team’s development will typically yield great results. A team that is knit together will begin to feel stronger together. A Monday morning Smurf Gun war, a silly department Mascot, or a call to battle with a “competing” department are all team building events that take limited time but yield stronger teams.


As the team leader you have to have fierce loyalty to your team. That doesn’t mean hard decisions can’t or shouldn’t be made. If they are for the right reasons the team will see that and support you. Your attitude as a leader will shape the team.

An example

I had a team that was fractured. It had the normal mix of hot shots, hard workers, socially outgoing, and socially shunned. I spent time getting to know each of them and earning their trust. Then I began asking them what they would do if they were me. To my delight, the most shy and least accepted team member had been thinking deeply about our processes and work outcomes. He had great insights that shaped the business performance. And the other team members recognized his good contribution. They became a strong unified team working independent of close supervision. A win for everyone.

How about you? When have you experienced positive Groupthink? What ideas do you have for building good Groupthink?

David Reimer