The Blackboard Fridays Management Toolkit

In 125 episodes of Blackboard Fridays, we’ve covered some fundamental aspects of managing your team. These skills are great for new managers to apply, and all managers to review on a regular basis.

Filters: Why no two people see the world the same

No two people see the world the same way. In business, this creates some wild and confusing situations – have you ever given instructions to a team member, only for them to do the complete opposite to what you asked?

Every business owner needs to learn a few vital communication skills, and for me this is one of the most important: it’s appreciating the Filters that impact how we, and everybody else, see the world.

The measure of your communication is not what you say, but rather what the other person hears. So if they’re not hearing what you’re saying … then the responsibility is entirely on you to understand their Filters and communicate better.

Start by watching this week’s episode here, and thinking about how these 4 Filters apply to how you see the world.

Context for Your Team: Why the Golden Rule is BS

Your mum probably taught you this: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” (If not, have a chat to my mum, she’s fabulous and you’ll learn heaps. But I digress…)
Now, this ‘Golden Rule’ is great when you’re an aggro four-year-old, or a six-year-old who thinks pulling hair is appropriate behaviour. By adulthood, you’re supposed to have grown out of that behaviour … and you need to grow out of the Golden Rule.
Because when it comes to dealing with other people – in business, and in life – the Golden Rule is Bulls#!t. Trying to live by it will cost you enormously.

Watch this week’s episode about the alternative: as with most of The businessDEPOT Way, it boils down to understanding Context.

How to Empower your Team to Step Up – Part 1

As an entrepreneurial business owner, you know that to grow your business you need to grow your team. Only when they are empowered to step up and take over will you be free to step up and take your business (and your life) to where you want it to be. So how do you do that?
In part one of this topic, we walk through a simple framework that maps the employee journey – from hopeful new team members to empowered individuals.

I recommend Dan Pink’s RSA Animate talk Drive as an excellent overview of what really drives individuals – Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose.
But how do you take that concept, and turn it to practical steps in your business? Doing so requires an understanding of the conflicting, competing desires that motivate or dishearten us as human beings.

Once you understand those 6 conflicting desires, you will be perfectly placed to watch part two where we discuss the specific strategies you can execute to deliver these to every one of your team members.

How to Empower your Team to Step Up – Part 2

In our previous episode, part one, we did an overview of Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose as 3 key drivers for employee motivation, and we discussed 6 conflicting desires that humans have which can challenge your desire to implement a more motivating workplace.
Because you need more than inspiration – you need specific, practical steps for improving your business and empowering your team. In this episode of Blackboard Fridays, Jacob Aldridge will provide a checklist of steps for you to review in your business.

Are you doing what needs to be done to help your team feel:
Belonging?
Individuality?
Stability?
Risk?
Present?
Future?
Empowered individuals and a more successful business awaits.

Employee Career Progression

I made a key point in that series about empowering your team members by helping them with their careers – even if that meant sometimes giving them the skills to advance their lives by working somewhere else.

This is a scary idea for business owners. None of us want to lose our best employees – it’s the fear that most keeps us awake at night. So I’ll be honest – if your team member has ambitions that you can’t fulfill (working overseas is an obvious example), then they will either leave anyway or stay only because you have crushed their soul.

And since you’re not that kind of a leader, you want to help your team achieve their dreams. Selfishly, maybe you also know that in doing that you will create greater outcomes for yourself as well – often when they decide to stay and fulfill their ambitions by your side.

This week’s episode, now viewable here, is a must-watch for every leader who wants an engaged team.

Think Feel Know: What is your Decision Making Style?

OK, sure, it’s hardly a revelation – but when you understand some of the key ways in which people differ, it makes you much more effective as a business leader and a team member.

This week’s episode explains the tool I use most often with teams to help them understand their own communication style and decision-making preferences … and those of their colleagues.
It’s called Think Feel Know – and you can test yourself by clicking here. Think Feel Know works better than other tools I’ve used because it’s behavioural (this is how you’re showing up at work, it’s not who you are as a person) and it’s inclusive (we all make decisions in all three spaces, so we can find common ground).

Watch this week’s episode to learn more, and ask yourself: Are you a Thinker, a Feeler, or a Knower? What about your leadership team?
PS: Worried about decision-making in your leadership team? Contact me to learn more about our Leadership and Culture strategy workshops, tailored to your business.

Fast and Slow Pace: Are you a Maker or a Manager?

Paula Abdul taught us that opposites attract, although in business they can create more friction than is necessary. This is the third in a series of Blackboard Friday episodes where I look at behavioural indicators to help you lead and manage your team.

Having looked at the impact of different Risk Profiles (Episode 13) and the Think Feel Know decision-making styles (Episode 54), I now want to introduce you to a tool that massively changed my business and personal life: The Fast-Slow Indicator.

Some people are fast-paced – if you’ve ever watched an interview with Usain Bolt, you’ll know speed extends beyond his running ability. Some people are slow-paced – and this is definitely me, because slow doesn’t mean ‘tardy’ it means ‘slow and steady wins the race’.
(Indeed, to overcome the misperception that ‘fast is better’, this balance is often described in the terms of Silicon Valley’s Paul Graham, who talks about ‘Manager’s Time versus Maker’s Time’ )

Like Risk and TFK, there is no right or wrong only awareness and responsibility. To a fast-paced person, my methodical style can seem stubborn; to a slow-paced person, the life of a salesperson or manager can seem scattered and unfocused.

Watch this week’s episode to learn more. And click here to take your ‘Pace’ Indicator – manage yourself and your team to their natural pace and you’ll find improved energy and results all around.

The 5 Types of Communication in the Workplace

Have you ever wasted an hour in a meeting, that could have been an email instead? Or seen a simple decision drag on for weeks through an email chain, because nobody wanted to make a call?

We all know “Communication” is imperative in business – but do you appreciate the different types of communication that take place? I’m talking about the time you stuck your head into someones office to give them an “FYI” … and it suddenly turned into them sharing all of their ideas (even though the decision had already been made).
Or that person who came to you needing a rant, to healthily get something off their chest, but which you thought was a problem needing a solution so you spent all day trying to help them. They didn’t need your help!! You were wasting your time!!

And with so much time wasted through the wrong type of conversation, we also lose the opportunity to accelerate business by having the RIGHT chats.

So email this week’s video (you can watch it here) to your entire team. Ask them to write down the 5 Types of Conversation, and moving forward to share exactly which type of conversation they want to have.
What you say to your team is important. Why you’re saying it is even more powerful. And this simple tip will get you there more often.

Expectations: How to Manage Team Frustrations and Fails

In last week’s episode on Customer Service we learnt the super simple Expectations framework, that explains how we often let our customers down. Did you know the same tool can be used internally in your business, to manage frustration and team member fails?


Clearly communicated Expectations are the first layer of Context and the first place to look when Stuff is going wrong in your business.
Click here to learn the ridiculously easy 3 step process for turning a team fail into change that WOWs.

Who’s Got the Monkey: The Danger of Self-Imposed Subordinate Tasks

If you lack time, and your team struggles to take responsibility, then this week’s episode based on the second most popular HBR article of all time is going to be the most valuable investment of time you make today.
The titular monkey represents each task that your business performs. Chances are, no matter how clear you start your week, by this time on Friday your back is crawling with monkeys – and most of them aren’t even yours!

In this week’s episode, learn:
The 3 ways monkeys are imposed upon you – Boss, System, and Self, with Self-Imposed monkeys being the most exciting AND the most insidious
How to identify the monkey and say “No” BEFORE it makes the jump from your subordinate onto your back
How to empower your team to better own their monkeys, releasing you to those tasks you actually WANT to be undertaking, and
The 5 Levels of Initiative, and what you need to look for when recruiting or promoting.

Watching Blackboard Fridays is a self-imposed, discretionary monkey. I also know from experience that when this monkey whispers in your ear each week, a whole lot of other monkeys make the decision to jump off your back, never to be seen again. Maybe your team needs to watch this one as well?

How to Say ‘No’ in Business

Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again?

To Australians of a certain generation, and I count myself amongst them, the classic question from The Angels involuntarily provokes a response … shall we say, in the negative?
(Not ringing a bell? Try searching for “am i ever gonna see your face again no way”)

And admit it – sometimes you’re tempted to use that line when a team member or a client asks you for just one more favour?!
Saying ‘No’ can be the hardest thing, especially if you’ve built your reputation on saying ‘Yes’. But you know that saying ‘Yes’ to too many unimportant things … means you’re actually saying ‘No’ to the important tasks and opportunities you want to prioritise.

So How do you Say No in business? In this week’s episode, let me give you multiple options, allowing you to say ‘No’ in a way that achieves all of your outcomes.
No way…!

5 Coaching Skills for any Leader

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, leader, or manager, there’s a new set of skills that are critical for business success: you’re now expected to be a Coach as well.

Sounds lovely, doesn’t it. Just dive into your university or tradeschool notes where you mastered that course on “How to be a Coach”, right? Snort, Chuckle So what’s a modern leader to do?

You need to start somewhere, and that somewhere is watching this week’s video. Cut through the theory and straight into actionable skills – here are 5 Coaching Skills that any Leader can implement immediately.

What’s the Difference between Coaching, Mentoring (Training), and Managing?

As an international business coach of some acclaim, I do enjoy the opportunity to share some coaching skills through #BlackboardFridays. After all, we’re constantly told that “Coaching” is a necessary skill for the modern business leader.

But it’s not the only skill that you need to manage your team. And sometimes, like a spoon in a swordfight, it’s the wrong instrument to bring.
As a leader, you are also likely a Mentor to your team – someone who has walked the path before and can provide specific guidance as a result. (Remember from Episode 16, that the pure coach asks questions and knows nothing.)

Perhaps most importantly, you are also a Manager to your team. Sometimes they absolutely need coaching and personal development … sometimes they need a swift kick in the backside.
So what’s the difference between Coaching, Mentoring, and Managing your Team? And how do you know which approach is required?

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