Bonus Bytes

  • Transition

  • Change

  • Communication

  • Coaching

  • Collaboration

  • Commitment to Success

Transition to Leadership

From the Transition to Leadership section of From Bud to Boss


Talk with Your Boss

Five Key Conversations to Have with Your New Boss

The advice that follows is most effective, and probably easiest, if done from the beginning – right after you have been promoted.

If you are past the first weeks or months, this list may help you identify the gaps that could improve your relationship and communication with others.

The Five Conversations

Getting to Know Them.

Some people reading this are cringing, saying something like, "business is business, I don’t need to know everything about my boss and vice versa." That’s true at some level; however, the reality is that relationships drive all sorts of organizational success. Different people have different relationship needs, and desire a different depth of relationship at work, but relationships always matter. Your job is to do what you can to figure out the relationship needs of the other person, and work to build it. This isn’t necessarily a conversation in itself, meaning you might not want to say "hey boss, can we have a getting to know each other conversation?" Rather it may be a part of all the other conversations you have, now and in the future.

Clarifying Expectations.

We all know job descriptions (when they exist) don’t tell the full job story. If you want to be successful you need to know what your boss expects of you and what success looks like to him/her. This is a critically important conversation that often doesn’t happen or is assumed. Ask them these questions and write down their answers. Then be willing to share with them what you expect and need. This doesn’t want to sound like (or be) a list of demands, rather an exploration and mutual agreement on what success looks like.

Understanding Goals.

Goals likely go beyond expectations. Let your boss know what your goals are – both personally and professionally. As a strong working relationship is formed your boss may help you reach those goals more quickly than you realize. But she can’t if she doesn’t know what they are. The reverse is also true. If you know what his goals are for your department, region or organization as a whole, you are in a much better position to help him achieve them, right? If you know a bit about his career goals, you can support that too.

Setting the Stage for Help.

In a new job you might want or need help and assistance. However, many like to put on the John Wayne, "I-can-do-it-myself" hat, assuming asking for help shows weakness. While you don’t want to go external to solve everything, you will be more productive more quickly if you have a coach. Your boss is in a perfect position to be your coach, and while this might be one of your expectations, it is important to set some explicit agreements about how much coaching you might want, when you might want it and how to receive it.

Agreeing on Communication Strategies.

Both of you need to know what, how, when and how frequently you need to communicate. While the answers to these questions may evolve as you grow in your role and trust builds with your boss, these agreements are critical. Does your boss prefer email? How often do they want face to face meetings? How will you handle informal exchanges? These three questions give you a sense of the scope of this topic. The more you can build common ground here, the more successful you will be. A huge percentage of workplace conflicts and challenges stem from a lack of agreement on communication needs and the misunderstandings that stem from this lack of agreement. Having this conversation will alleviate or eliminate those challenges.

All five of these topics might be handled in one conversation, but more likely they will evolve over a (hopefully short) period of time. If you have been in your role for awhile, perhaps this will help you find areas for new or deeper conversations. Either way, success in these five conversations will lead to greater productivity, less stress and a better working relationship with your boss. Who wouldn’t want that?

360° Assessment Process

How to Use and Select a 360° Assessment Process


We all know feedback can help improve in any area of our lives. Yet feedback doesn’t automatically help – it can be short sighted, unbalanced, unhelpful and ill-timed. Any of these challenges can reduce the value of the feedback you receive.

Enter the 360 evaluation or assessment.

The 360 evaluation provides 360 degrees of feedback (or perspective) for an individual – typically feedback from the boss, co-workers, direct reports and others as appropriate. The intent of a 360 evaluation is to reduce the challenges mentioned above. It’s meant to provide people with a balanced perspective on their performance – both what they are doing well and should continue and
the areas that would benefit from some improvement.

This feedback process can be an outstanding tool – if used intelligently. The rest of this Bonus Byte will help you select and use these tools for the greatest benefit.

The Mechanics

Most all 360 evaluations are done with a tool – either via pen and paper or (increasingly) using the web. This approach allows all the feedback to be summarized, reviewed in a variety of ways and remain anonymous.

While this is the most typical approach, 360 assessments also can be done in group settings with or without anonymity. I have both participated in and facilitated these types of sessions, and they too can be very effective. While the rest of this article focuses on the use of standardized assessment tools, the comments apply to using a group approach as well.

Choosing the Tool

There are a variety of 360 assessment tools available. While most all are well tested and excellent, you should select one based on your particular and specific needs. Consider the questions and areas of focus in relationship to your participants and their needs. Some tools are designed for leaders at all levels, some are more helpful for executives, some are for first line supervisors, some for team members, etc. If possible, review the questions to make sure they will provide helpful feedback to those who will be using the tool.

Also consider the process used to make sure it will fit into your culture and resource availability (how progress updates are communicated, who does the administration of the assessments, etc.).

Choosing the Participants

Choosing participants means two things: those who will be requesting feedback and those they choose as raters.

If you are planning to use this tool for yourself, consider your situation. Do you know the process and purposes of the tool? Is the timing right? For example if are not yet a supervisor, depending on the tool used, you might find some of the feedback less valuable, or if you have been in your role a relatively short time, you might get more useful feedback by waiting a bit longer. Make sure you are interested in and engaged in the process – if you go in skeptical, others may sense that and your attitude and outlook may significantly reduce the value of the process.

Next, you must decide who to invite to “rate” you. Some of the choices may be obvious – the tool will probably include feedback from your boss. Beyond that you likely have some discretion about who you select. To maximize the value of the process select raters who:

  • Provide a broad perspective.
    Get co-workers and direct reports. Consider teammates, vendors or Customers if appropriate.
  • Provide a balanced perspective.
    Don’t just include the co-workers that “like” you.
  • Have enough experience and exposure to rate you.
    It is hard to rate someone when you don’t have enough experience with them. This challenge can often lead to skewed or difficult to understand feedback.

Selecting a Coach

Whatever tool you choose, it will create a report with a lot of data! To get the most out of this process, use a coach to help you accurately and dispassionately analyze the results and determine what it all means.

The right coach should understand the tool and the report it generates and have great coaching skills to help you maximize your learning from the feedback provided. Select a coach for both their skill and their fit with you.

Having a Follow-up Plan

Getting feedback, however it is received, is only as valuable as how it is used. While a coach may help you set up an action plan, that plan should be followed up with conversations between the participant and the boss. It is through these plans and the action they create that real improvement will come.

A 360 assessment can be a truly valuable tool when used correctly and for the right reasons. Understanding those reasons, and planning your approach as described here will help individuals and organizations get far more from this valuable feedback process.

Final note – If you or your organization would like to know more about our 360 assessment and coaching process, learn more on our website

Your Plan

Building Your Personal Development Plan

As you clicked through to get this Bonus Byte or as you read the title of this article, you might have been wondering why this is about a personal development plan rather than a professional development plan. If you did wonder that, or if you are wondering it since I mentioned it, let me give you my perspective.

Since you are responsible for both your personal and professional development calling it a personal plan reminds you who is really responsible.

Do we all hope our organizations support our development in a wide variety of ways? Of course. And, many will. However, YOU are ultimately responsible.

No one benefits from your development as much as you do, and no one will care as much about it. Ultimately, it’s personal.

While there may be contextual differences between some personal and professional development, the fact is that as you become a better leader you become a better human being and vice versa.

This short document will focus more on your development at work and as a leader. However, these ideas could be applied to the rest of your life, and any facet of it that you choose.

Step 1 – Find or Build a Template

Your organization may provide you with a development planning tool. If so, great! Or, you may have one from a workshop or book you have read – also great! If not, you can find lots of choices through the magic of Google (or your favorite search engine).

Step 2 – Use Your Template

Yep, finding one isn’t enough, you have to fill it out. Regardless of the template you choose, consider
the questions below. Some may be covered on your form, some not. All of these will help
you create a more effective plan.
  • What are the challenges I am facing in my job now (and with my promotion to leadership)?
  • What do I see as my biggest strengths to capitalize on?
  • What weakness in my skills or blind spots in my experience do I need to be aware of and work on?
  • Where do I want to be in 2 years?
  • Where do I want to be in 5 and 10 years?
  • What adjustments will I need to make to reach those targets?
  • What habits are helping me?
  • What habits are hindering me?
  • What help or resources do I need?
  • What barriers do I need to overcome?What will I do first?

Step 3 – Share your Plan

The nature of your plan and the answers to some of the questions above will help you determine with whom to share your plan. In short, share it with:
  • People who care about your success.
  • People who can support, encourage or coach you.
Hopefully, your supervisor is at least one of those people. Even if you aren’t sure if he/she is, share your plan anyway. Being proactive about your development will show something about who you are – something that will very likely be appreciated. That act alone may improve your relationship with and increase his/her willingness to help you reach the goals you have set.

Step 4 – Apply Your Plan

It really isn’t about a plan, it is about action. Build a plan, but don’t obsess about it. Build a plan as a means to getting to action.

It’s time to get started!

Starting Concerns

Starting Concerns for New Supervisors

As we were preparing to write From Bud to Boss, Kevin and I collected questions from workshop participants and Clients concerning the transition from peer to supervisor. In the process we got a pretty full list of questions.

To help you get a jump-start on what is in the book here are the questions and a brief answer for each:

How do I make discipline stick with my "friends?"

Here’s the bottom-line answer: In the workplace, discipline of a friend is the same as discipline for any other employee. Start the coaching process early – long before it becomes a discipline problem. If you start your feedback early and make your comments solely about workplace behaviors, results and interactions, then you should be able to navigate this challenge.

How do I get "lazy" people to work?

Very seldom are people truly “lazy.” In most instances, the problem you see is not laziness. Instead, it’s a lack of concern for the work at hand, a lack of interest or a lack of feeling a reward for doing the work. The key here is to look for the thing that interests the “lazy” person and find a way to communicate with him/her that ties his/her personal interests, goals and desires with the mission and work of the organization. Do that and the “laziness” will usually go away.

What is the best way for me to communicate with my peer leaders?

Get to know them, their preferred communication method (over coffee, at lunch, email, etc.) and their basic communication style (you will get insights on that in the Communication section). Then, start the process of connecting with them in the way that works best for them.

How do I get a better understanding of my new role/responsibility?

Speak with your supervisor, your peers, and the people you lead to build your understanding of what each of them expects of you in your new role. Once you know what people expect of you, you can develop a plan to make sure you are behaving and performing in a way that meets those expectations.We also recommend that you finish reading the book, get involved in the Bud to Boss Community and continue to seek personal and professional mentors who can help you to “learn the ropes.”

Who communicates my new role to others?

Ideally, your supervisor will do this. This communication will show the rest of the organization that you have your supervisor’s support.

How do I communicate with new peers that have been at this longer than me?

The answer to this question is similar to the one above about communicating with your new peers. If they have been a supervisor for some time, we recommend that you schedule some time to speak with them to get their perspectives and experiences. Even if you disagree with their approach or their results, you will learn something in the process.

How do I work with groups led by people with leadership styles different from mine?

The best answers to this question are contained in the content and Bonus Bytes in the Communication section of both the book and the Bud to Boss Community. Learn to understand their communication preferences, their concerns, their frustrations and their objectives. Then, work to connect with them on the basis that works best for them. In the process, you just might build some strong alliances and relationships with people who can help you see things from different perspectives.

How do I work with distant or virtual teams?

When you work with people at a distance, you have to work extra hard to build a good relationship and to communicate clearly. Fortunately, technology advances over the last few years make this much easier. Use the tools to your advantage. Video conferencing, web meeting, webinar and phone bridge line services can really help you to stay connected with you team. As much as your schedule and budget allows, create opportunities to meet face-to-face.

What can I do to deal with the grapevine?

First, recognize that it exists everywhere, and anything you do overtly to attempt to kill it could cause more trouble for you. We recommend: acknowledge it, talk about it and feed it good information. The bottom-line: strive for openness and honesty and the grapevine tends to go away on its own. (Look in the Change section Bonus Bytes for a complete Bonus Byte on dealing with the grapevine.)

How do I deal with multiple bosses?

The short answer: talk about it with both and get clear expectations from/for both. The key is open, honest, frequent communication with both bosses. Learning some assertive communication strategies (Chapter 40 and a Bonus Byte) also would help.

What can I do to deal with problem employees?

Once again, the issue comes back to clear communication of expectations and coaching them toward better behaviors and results. Remember to:
  • Beware of labeling them as “problem employees.” The label in your mind can cause you to behave in ways that actually make the situation worse.
  • Keep all of your comments, observations and coaching focused on things that are observable, objective and observable. (Behaviors and results rather than interpretations and feelings.)

How can I best delegate to my former peers?

Openly acknowledge the change in relationship, and state your expectations clearly. If they refuse to accept the delegation, you might have a performance problem to address.

How can I change the culture on my team?

This question is closely related to content in both the Change and Coaching sections. Start by identifying the people who are most likely to buy-in to the desired changes and work with them to gradually bring other people into the mix.
What am I supposed to say to an employee who says: "Your job should have been mine"?
This is a really dangerous situation. First, attempt to understand why they make that statement. Inquire more than you defend. Ask more than you justify. Ask questions. Listen carefully. Acknowledge any valid points they might make. Then, remind them – gently – that while they have valid points, you have a job to do and that you intend to do it.

How do I gain respect, trust and credibility in my new role?

There are many pieces to this question. The quick answer is that you tend to get from people what you give them. Show respect and give trust, and you will probably receive respect and trust.

What is the best way to communicate about difficult issues?

Privately is the first thought that comes to mind when I think of how to address difficult issues.
The second thought is to apply assertive strategies built on the idea of respecting the other person even if you have to deliver a difficult message. Do everything you can to keep anger, frustration and criticism out of the conversation.

How do I manage professionals?

Learn to address their specific issues and concerns, and they will work with you well. The idea behind working with professionals is no different from the ideas behind how you work with anyone else. Meet their needs, listen to their concerns, take care of any frustrations they have, and they probably will follow you.

How do I gain influence with my boss?

The answer is the same idea as the answer above. Your boss is just another person. People principles work with most people regardless of their background, training, experience or level in the company. The specific technique and word choice will be different. The concept is the same.

What do I do to build a high-performing work team?

Learn to diagnose where a team is in the process of moving from group to team. (More on this in the Collaboration section). Decide where you want the team to be in terms of interactions and results. Meet with the team to learn what they see and to communicate your goals. Take the time to understand and then build consensus for the hard work it takes to make any team great.

How do I separate my personal relationship with my team from my professional relationship with them?

Start this process by speaking with your team about what your new role will require of you. Talk about what the new role means for your relationships. Keep the communication open to avoid misunderstandings or misinterpretations of your “new” behaviors.

What if people perceive that I am showing favoritism toward my friends?

First, make sure you are not unconsciously showing favoritism. Then, speak with your friends to explain what‘s happening. Start drawing the line between your personal and professional relationships so you don’t do anything to fuel the fire.

How can I resolve conflicts between employees?

Have a face-to-face discussion with both people (yes, at the same time) to develop a plan for future behaviors and interactions that will address both people’s concerns.

How can I communicate with and motivate people who are different from me?

Learn to understand their communication and work style preferences and then speak and act towards them in ways that are comfortable for them. (More in the Communication section.)

What should I be doing to conduct better performance evaluations?

Do them more frequently and more focused on future behaviors than on past behaviors. Remember, performance evaluations are much more than an annual ritual you must endure. If you view them as part of your ongoing coaching relationship with your team rather than as a form and a meeting you must complete to satisfy your human resources representative, they can make a big difference for you and your team.

How do I get employees to buy in to my new role?

We’re coming back to open, honest communication and clear definition of expectations. When you know what people expect of you, they know what you expect of them and you deliver on those expectations, you will create buy-in.

What do I do to help people deal with change, and how do I communicate about changes to minimize resistance?

Recognize the emotional impact that change has on all people – including you. Acknowledge, talk about and make time for the emotional part of the change. When you make time for the emotion and focus on educating more than forcing, resistance tends to reduce.

How can I better understand other people’s needs?

The communication style model discussed in the book will help. In the end, talk with people. Get to know what they like to do when they’re not at work. Their behaviors tell you what they seek in terms of rewards, recognition and fun. Pay close attention. They will tell you.

Talk to Your Friends

Tips for Talking to Your Friends After Your Promotion

You’ve gotten the promotion and now you are in the position of leading, supervising, and even giving performance feedback to a friend or friends, perhaps really good ones. At some point after the promotion, you realize that as great as the new job is, it is going to impact these relationships.

The impact may be small; it may be catastrophic. This brief Bonus Byte is designed to help you have a conversation with your friends, to set up a situation that will minimize the risk to your relationships while recognizing that they have changed.

Here are three steps to hopefully help this process be more productive and helpful:

  1. Resolve to have the conversation
  2. Plan for the conversation
  3. Remain focused during the conversation

Resolve to Have the Conversation

While your mileage may vary, in our experience many times your friends don’t want to talk about your relationship post-promotion. The reasons could be many including:

  • They don’t think it will be a big change.
  • They are jealous of your promotion and don’t want to talk about it.
  • They are afraid of what will happen.
  • They are in denial.

This is a purposefully short list, meant to spur your thinking and to make you aware that people may not want to talk about changes to your relationship!

Recognize that timing also is important. You don’t likely want to have this conversation the day you’ve been promoted, or even the day you move into your new role. In those cases, perhaps neither of you is ready for those conversations. But don’t wait too long. The longer you wait, the more likely a problem might occur or a misunderstanding might develop.

If you have been in your role for awhile and that hasn’t happened yet, great! Even if there have been fractures in the relationship, having the conversation gives you a chance to revive and renew the relationship.

Plan for the Conversation

This may not be a simple or fun conversation, at least at the start, so some planning would be a good idea. Consider things like:

Decide where to meet.

You will figure out the best place, but a coffee shop, the lunch room or office might not be the best places.

Anticipate what is going on for them.

What emotions do you think they have? The conversation will uncover them for real, and it’s better to be thinking about that up front. In short, there are emotions that need to be a key part of the conversation, even if they are mostly positive.

Think about your needs and expectations for the working part of your relationship.

Know what you need and what you think is best. Figuring that out “on the fly” won’t serve either of you best.

Think about boundaries.

One way to frame the conversation might be to talk about boundaries and agreements. How often will we eat lunch together; what topics are fair to talk about or not; what kinds of requests are out of bounds? These are all things to think about before the start of the conversation.

Remain Focused During the Conversation

While planning is important, your focus and behavior during the conversation is the way you will most influence the outcome – positively or negatively. Here are some things to consider:

Be honest.

Enough said.

Let them talk.

You won’t learn much or create the environment you want if you do all the talking. Besides, if you do all the talking, a cynical friend might think you’ve taken too completely to your “boss” role.


Let them talk and please pay attention to what they are saying. Get rid of the distractions and listen.
Be empathetic. Stay out of defensive mode. Some of the things they may share may hurt. Focus on their emotions and where they are.

Focus on the future.

The future is the only thing either of you can change, so make that your focus. There will be emotion about the past, perhaps a sense of loss. Discuss that, and then move on and talk about how your relationship, even if slightly different, can still be a great one in the future.

Nothing here is a guarantee – relationships are made up of complex factors (people, situations, past experiences and much more). Use this tool as it is meant – as a tool to help you plan for and participate in conversation with friends to preserve and maintain your relationships after the changes caused by your promotion to leadership.

Good luck!


Balancing the Task and People Sides of Leadership

Many leaders, especially those who are new to the role, struggle to find the balance between the task and people sides of leadership.

Task-oriented leaders tend to focus heavily on task accomplishment and goal achievement - sometimes at the expense of developing strong relationships with the people they lead. As a result, they run the risk of getting things done in the short-term in a way that limits long-term team effectiveness and productivity.

People-oriented leaders might focus too heavily on being liked or appreciated and shy away from holding team members accountable for productivity. This relationship focus can also lead to longterm negative impacts on team performance and productivity.

While certain leadership situations might call for a brief imbalance between the task and people sides of leadership, most environments call for balance. In the long-run, leadership is a task-and-people role rather than a task-or-people one.

To find the right balance between these two sides of leadership, you need to first develop a good understanding of your natural tendencies. There are two things you can do to develop this self-awareness:

  1. Complete a DISC assessment (get a free one from the "Free Assessment" Bonus Byte)
  2. Reflect on the type of feedback you tend to get from other people and the thoughts you frequently have as you work with your team. Here's some things to consider:

You probably tend towards a task focus if other people frequently say these types of things to you:

  • "You really know how to get things done."
  • "You're great at solving problems."
  • "You really think things through."

And you might frequently think these types of things:

  • "I wish they would focus."
  • "Just make a decision."
  • "Can we quit talking and get to work?"
  • "They are too nice."
  • "Why can’t they say no?"

You probably tend towards a people focus if other people frequently say these types of things to you:

  • "You are so friendly."
  • "You are so kind."
  • "I just love talking with you."

And you might frequently think these types of things:

  • "They need to smile more."
  • "They need to lighten up."
  • "They really should let it go. Good enough is good enough."
  • "I could get more done if I had someone to talk with while I work."
  • "I would be happy to do that if it helps someone."

If you have a more task-oriented perspective, getting things done, prioritizing tasks and focusing on results will probably come naturally to you. If you have a more people-oriented perspective, connecting with people, building relationships and encouraging people will probably feel more natural to you.

Neither of these perspectives is inherently good or bad, right or wrong. Remember, most people have a blend of these traits to varying degrees.

Regardless of your natural perspective, you can use it to become a remarkable leader.

Here are five suggestions to help you gain better balance (regardless of your orientation)…

If you are more task-oriented. . .

  1. Remember to smile. Smiling communicates that you like people.
  2. Seek - and take - opportunities to verbalize your thanks and appreciation for people and their contribution.
  3. Listen to people when they tell you their stories. Be careful how you get back to work. Beware of turning away from people while they are still talking.
  4. Make interacting with your team one of your daily to-do items. If you have to write "talk with team members" as a daily task so that you can feel accomplished by checking it off your list, do it. Complete this task early in the day.

Find someone you can trust to give you objective feedback on your leadership behaviors. Ask them to let you know when you slip into "hyper-task" focus.

If you are more people-oriented. . .

  1. Write a daily to-do list and keep it in a place where you can see it. Read it several times a day.
  2. Focus on achieving productive rather than friendship relationships with the people you lead. Productive relationships are usually friendly. Friendship relationships are not necessarily productive (in the workplace).
  3. Remember that confronting poor performance will help the team even though it might be uncomfortable for you.
  4. If organizing and planning are a challenge for you, find someone you can trust to help you get these tasks done. Depending on your situation, you might be able to delegate planning and organizing responsibilities or you might only be able to talk through the planning and organizing. In either case, you have found a person to help fill a gap so that you and your team can be more successful.
  5. Find someone you can trust to give you objective feedback on your leadership behaviors. Ask them to let you know when you slip into "hyper-relationship" focus.

Use these suggestions to gain better task-people balance in your approach to leadership. In general, balance should be your goal rather than trying to "become" more task or people-oriented.

And, if you must err to one side or the other, it is generally better to err towards the people side.

Friend Delegation

Tips for Delegating to Your Friends

Much has been written about delegation, and there are many great resources to help you improve those skills. Unfortunately, most of those don't mention the subtleties and challenges of delegating to your friends.

Beyond the delegation basics, here's a list of things you need to further consider, think about and plan for in order to masterfully delegate to your friends:

Be aware that there is a difference.

The differences will vary based on the particulars of your situation. The differences may be minor, or you may have much concern. Chances are if you are reading this you know there are some differences to consider!

Talk about the elephant in the room.

Both of you are likely struggling with the situation at some level. Talk about your concerns and feelings in an authentic way. Remember, you've been friends - talk about it!

Recognize and talk about the two hats you are wearing.

You have a friend hat and a boss hat. Talk about both of them; help realize that in this situation you are wearing the boss hat. While this should be obvious, often when we have a long standing relationship with someone that role difference can get lost.

Remember you have a relationship!

Your experience together and past relationship can be an asset, not just a problem. Think about the benefits the relationship brings not just the challenges!

Be assertive - don't procrastinate.

Most people delay doing things that seem hard or difficult. Don't let that be the case. Remember that delegation can be an opportunity for the other person. You want your friend to grow and succeed don't you?

Help them grow.

Delegation, done well, isn't dumping, but an opportunity for learning, growth and new exposure and experience for the other person. Remember this, and take the time to help your friend succeed with the new task.

When you apply these ideas, along with the delegation approaches you already know or are learning,
you will make delegating to your friend more comfortable and far more effective - for both of