In the corporate space, meetings are part of the routine. They serve many purposes. For one, they encourage teamwork by providing a space where employees can brainstorm together, set team goals, and engage in healthy dialogue. Meetings additionally provide an opportunity to share information such as financial updates, contract negotiations, workplace issues, new projects, and more.

Of course, meetings can sometimes veer onto thin ice when an entire team is gathered around the table. Nevermind the fact that the room is filled with any number of personality types and perspectives, but if there’s a heated topic on the table (reviewing a failed project, for instance), then tensions are bound to be high. One of the hardest blows to team morale is a high-stakes meeting that implodes because of poor communication and meeting management.

Here are 4 tips to bear in mind to communicate more effectively in your next meeting:

Mind your tone

Does the message you’re delivering sound negative or positive? What feeling is your tone reflecting? The energy in your voice can provide many clues into what you’re actually thinking. If you’re delivering praise to an employee for a recent success but your tone lacks energy and comes across more so bored or uninterested, it would be the same as not praising the employee at all—or worse, even criticizing them!

The same holds true when critiquing a team’s performance. There’s no need to be belligerent or disparaging, as this will only put your employees on the defense and increase the tension in the room—fertile ground for argumentation and division. Mind your tone and learn how to positively provide constructive criticism. Doing so will keep team morale where it needs to be and will motivate your employees to do better.

Choose your words wisely

This goes along hand-in-hand with the above. Something as simple as the words you use can build up a team…or tear one down! By all means, avoid language that makes assumptions or discriminates. Matt Stratz, CEO of the HR software Namely, also says this: “Don’t make statements that personally call out the employee like, ‘you should’, ‘you didn’t’, or ‘your skills’.

Instead, discuss the issue by saying, ‘customers can’t get what they need’, or ‘this isn’t clear’.” No one wants to be singled out in a meeting and made to feel like their experience, education, and/or skillset isn’t where it needs to be. It can be demoralizing. When you choose the right words, however, and shift the focus on a project’s objective, it takes the weight off your team members and helps them to remember the bigger picture.

Watch your body language

We don’t just speak with our words—we speak with our bodies as well. In fact, our body language very often betrays what we’re truly thinking or the state of our attitude. Eye-rolling, crossed arms, pursed lips—these are all expressions all of us have undoubtedly seen in a meeting or two. Pay attention to the way your own body is speaking during meetings. If you present a closed-off body, for example, you may intimidate your employees and cause them to shy away from offering input or ideas. Forcing a smile can indicate insincerity, potentially causing a team member to feel their contribution to a meeting fell short. And of course looking at the clock, your watch, or your phone is a sure sign of boredom or impatience, which is a sure way to guarantee an employee never speaks up in a meeting again—you’ve made them feel under-valued.

On the other hand, positive body language such as a relaxed posture, leaning in when someone is speaking, good eye contact, taking notes, and head nodding and smiling will allow your employees to feel at east, validated, and understood.

Be attentive

This last tip might sound obvious enough, but you’d be surprised how often teams fail to practice it. One of the easiest ways to achieve attentiveness is simply by providing an agenda at the beginning of every meeting. An agenda is essential to planning a productive meeting. It provides a list of topics for discussion, it provides structure and focus for the meeting, it ensures that all information is covered, and perhaps most importantly: it allows each team member to adequately prepare for the meeting and thus increases engagement, teamwork, and information sharing.

Nothing’s hidden when you work with an agenda, so employees don’t feel ambushed by topics (thus lowering tension and stress and allowing them to communicate more calmly). Another important tool is active listening. Active listening can help teams avoid misunderstandings, and more easily resolve conflicts. There are a number of trainings on active listening available that can help you and your employees excel as communicators.


Meetings unfortunately get a bad reputation more often than not, but it doesn’t have to be that way. When you manage your meetings effectively and learn how effective communication can aid you and your employees in sharing ideas and building the team up, your meetings will become productive forums where goals are not only set—but achieved like never before!

Although all of us like to be recognised and receive praise for a job well done, managers in the workplace often underestimate how effective praise can be as a motivator. MRI scans have shown that receiving praise triggers the same regions of the brain as receiving a cash bonus, which means it can motivate people in a similar way.

While praising your employees doesn’t carry the same expectation as a cash bonus, it does make your employees feel good about their work, which can be a strong motivator. And when employees are motivated, it leads to higher productivity in the workplace as well as a boost in morale and job satisfaction.

So, how can managers praise their team members more effectively to achieve such results? Here are 6 things to keep in mind:

Praise for Achievements, Not Ability

While it may seem encouraging to be told that you are good at something, Columbia University’s Dr. Heidi Halvorson says that this can leave people vulnerable to self-doubt. “If being successful means you are ‘a natural,’ then it’s easy to conclude when you’re having a hard time that you just don’t have what it takes.” Instead, she says we should praise the things that are under our control. “Praise the process, not the person. That way, when an employee runs into trouble later on, they’ll remember the process that helped them to succeed in the past, and put that knowledge to good use.”

Be Spontaneous

Many managers give out praise as part of a daily routine, but it doesn’t take long for people to realise this. The result? The praise soon loses its meaning and no longer remains effective as a powerful motivator. Instead, be spontaneous with your praise. While expected praise is good, unexpected praise is always far more effective.

Be Specific

Instead of telling a team member that they did well, tell them what they did well and how it led to a good result. When you’re specific in this manner, you make it clear what about the employee’s process was effective, allowing them to recreate it again and again in the future.

Offer Praise—Even Amidst Failure

Praise your employees even when, despite their best efforts, things don’t go as planned. It’s during these times that praising an employee for their effort has the most impact, as it will help them to stop dwelling on their failure and restore some of their self-confidence. This allows them to get their head back in the game and double their efforts at making a comeback, whereas employees who are allowed to stay in a mindset of low morale might spend longer periods of time being unproductive or ineffective at their jobs.

Don’t Mix Praise with Criticism

Trying to mix praise with constructive criticism will greatly undermine your praise’s effectiveness. This is because people have a strong bias towards remembering negative things, so in the long term your employees are far more likely to remember the criticism than the praise. As a general rule, always make sure that your praise and criticism doesn’t go hand in hand and are completely separate from each other.

Strike a Balance

Although some employees will be more praiseworthy than others, only praising certain people in the workplace will leave others feeling neglected and demotivated. Instead, try to praise all your employees at some point or another, even if it’s for some small achievement or just a job well done. Doing so will make them feel appreciated and leave them wanting to do well in the future.


Unlike monetary incentive, which is limited by your organisation’s budget and the expectations of your employees, there is no cost to giving praise, and it is very powerful as a motivator. It’s also a reinforcing process. The more praise you give your employees, the more motivated they will become, and the more praiseworthy achievements they will give you in the future.

At some point in their careers, many leaders will opt to receive high-level coaching. Executive coaching is one of the best investments you will ever make in yourself. A good coach helps you gain clarity and provides a safe yet challenging environment for you to practice self-awareness and to learn from experience. Whether you want to learn how to be more effective at work, need guidance in navigating a transition in the workplace, want to hit the ground running in a new leadership position, or simply want to further develop certain skills, the right coaching can help you accelerate your learning curve, gain more confidence, and reap benefit after benefit.

Moving forward with an executive coach is a very big investment, not to mention an important commitment. Just as you might ‘shop around’ for other big investments, you want to do the same when it comes to a coach. Below are 5 things to keep in mind to make the most of your leadership coaching.

1. Set up a ‘discovery session’ before moving forward with a coach

A discovery session is an informal conversation that precedes a commitment to coaching. Think of it as a ‘get to know you’ conversation. This is your opportunity to speak with your potential coach, discuss your challenges and goals, and truly gauge whether or not you and your potential coach are a good fit.

Though this is a conversation, think of it also as an interview. You’re trying to find the right individual to help you achieve your goals. Don’t be afraid to ask your coach questions about their experiences, their methods, their accreditations, and so on. Most importantly, don’t feel pressured to make a commitment at the end of this conversation. If you want to think it over, you’re under no obligation to commit on the spot, and you shouldn’t feel as if your coach is pressuring you to move forward.

Though this is a conversation, think of it also as an interview.

Throughout the conversation, check in with yourself: do you feel comfortable and relaxed with this coach? Remember, you’ll be spending a great deal of time with them, so this is important.

2. Make sure you and your coach have compatible styles

Are you a very structured and time-conscious person? Then you might find it frustrating to work with a coach who is always late or reschedules appointments regularly. Are you very organized? Then a coach who doesn’t follow-up with you as promised may drive you up the wall. Maybe you’re a deep, reflective thinker who needs time to process information. If that’s the case, then a coach who talks all the time and doesn’t give you thinking space will overwhelm you rather quickly.

An expert coach will gauge your style and seamlessly adapt to you, but if you find that your coach isn’t doing this, then it’s time to move on and find someone else who’s a better match. That said, get clear on who you are as a person, as a leader, and as a thinker…and then ask yourself what qualities you need to have in a coach in order to feel as if your regular coaching sessions are spaces in which you can grow and thrive.

A coach often wears a number of hats during the coaching experience. They can be a feedback provider, reflective thinking partner, expert mentor, practice partner, accountability creator, positive reinforce, supporter, and more. Ideally, your coach will flexibly switch hats depending on your needs at the time, which is why it’s important you know what those needs are.

3. Ask yourself if you feel confident in your coach’s expertise

One of the worst things you can do is enter into a coaching commitment with your head full of doubts

Don’t be afraid to ask for testimonials and references. An expert coach who’s worked with countless people and has helped them to achieve their goals will be more than happy to point you in the right direction when it comes to praise from past clients. The same goes for qualifications and accreditations, especially if you’re interested in working on specific skillsets or with certain diagnostics/psychometrics.

One of the worst things you can do is enter into a coaching commitment with your head full of doubts regarding your coach’s qualifications. You’ll begin to question their guidance at every turn, which will result in a waste of time, money, and energy. However, when you do feel confident in your coach’s expertise, it’ll motivate you to put their recommendations into practice and you’ll find yourself growing like never before.

4. Have a contract or coaching agreement in place.

You and your coach should both be clear about the timeframe of your coaching commitment. This is best outlined within a formal contract or agreement that both parties sign. Such an agreement will highlight the duration of the coaching as well as the cost of the investment.

In addition to regular sessions, there may also be a provision for ‘on demand’ sessions. Just as well, there should be an ‘out clause’ that allows you to discontinue coaching if you at any time don’t feel that you’re getting what was agreed upon.

5. Get clear on what you want to get out of your coaching

Finally, you and your coach should both be clear about the objectives of the coaching. What is it that you want to achieve over the course of executive coaching? How would you like to grow? What would you like to learn about yourself? What goals would you like to accomplish? What skills would you like to acquire and/or develop further?

These objectives will help to create a structured approach in your coaching sessions. You and your coach should also discuss how you both plan on measuring your progress from session to session.

Additionally, ensure that your coach has a system in place to keep you moving forward in between sessions. This might mean following up with you with a reminder of next action steps, providing you with key notes from a previous session, and/or delivering any promised materials or readings.

These are 5 ways you can ensure that you make the most of your next commitment with an executive coach. Of course, your results aren’t dependent on your coach alone. You need to be committed to making change and be prepared to put in the time and energy. The leaders I work with who achieve the biggest outcomes are people with skin in the game. They have a very compelling reason to be coached, they are committed, responsive and reflective, and they are open to challenge. As with anything, people who are not committed to change will not get results. Ultimately, while your coach is a trusted guide, the outcome of the sessions depends on you.


Rosalind Cardinal is The Leadership Alchemist and Principal Consultant of Shaping Change, an Australian consultancy, specialising in improving business outcomes by developing individuals, teams and organisations. Ros’ expertise spans leadership development, organisational culture, team building, change and transition management, organisational behaviour, employee engagement and motivation, strategic direction and management.

One of the biggest responsibilities leaders repeatedly face within their organisations is goal-setting. Goals are what allow companies to innovate, problem-solve, move forward, and grow in new and exciting ways. Goals also foster team work as they bring employees together around a common denominator, and goals also allow individuals to shine as they contribute their unique set of talents and skills.

But goals accomplish so much more as well. They equip your team with a vision. Vision is essential in moving your team members toward feeling a sense of purpose in the work they do. Everyone wants to feel as if their work is meaningful and significant in some way. With a goal, there’s something employees can move toward, and this vision elevates job satisfaction and feelings of fulfillment.

With so much on the line when it comes to company goals, it’s crucial that leaders understand the 5 essential elements in S.M.A.R.T. and effective goal-setting.

Goals should be:

1. Specific

The more specific and detailed the goal, the better. For instance, instead of setting the general goal that you’d like to see customer acquisition increase this year, a better goal would be this: Accomplish a 30% increase in customer acquisition in the next 6 months. The more detailed goal gives team members an idea of exactly what’s expected of them, allowing them to know when they’re on the right track (acquisition is steadily increasing) or when they’ve fallen short and need to adjust course. On the flip side, general goal-setting with no specifics is like setting someone on a journey without directions, a map, or a GPS. As anyone who’s ever been lost knows, it can be a frustrating experience, which will only lead to lower team morale.

Look over your company’s present goals and be sure to revise them as needed with more details and specifics. Further, reflect on what accomplishing your goal will look like for your company. What is the impact? How does the company improve? What are the benefits and results? Without reflecting on these answers, how will you know when you’ve truly reached your goal?

…general goal-setting with no specifics is like setting someone on a journey without directions, a map, or a GPS.

2. Measurable

There’s another reason goals should be specific and detailed, and that’s because it allows you and your team to measure your results. You should be able to measure your goal in some way so that you know you’re steadily making progress. In the example from above, are there systems in place that will allow you to track customer acquisition over a 6-month period? Regular reviews are essential when teams are striving to accomplish goals. Increasing progress does wonders for boosting team morale, for instance. Reviews will also help you to understand what’s working (so that you can do more of it) and what’s hindering progress (so that you can remove it from the equation).

If you aren’t already doing so, start implementing regular check-ins with your team to discuss all current goals and where those goals stand progress-wise. Such meetings will also foster cohesion among your team members and reinforce the vision that everyone is working toward, which can help to renew waning enthusiasm and get everyone back on track.

3. Attainable

It’s easy for leaders to set big goals, but sometimes we forget to ask ourselves whether or not the goals we want to achieve are actually attainable. There are a number of factors that go into this particular equation, of course. For instance, there’s the matter of time. In the example we’ve been using, a goal was set for a 6-month period. In your own situation, perhaps a certain goal will need a longer timeline in order for it to be attainable.

Sometimes, external forces impact whether or not a goal is attainable. The current state of the market in your particular industry might be going through significant changes that affect your yields. Or perhaps there are changes in your company’s infrastructure that may affect the strength and numbers in your team. Goal-setting in this way becomes strategic in nature. Set aside time to review your current goals and examine the big-picture of the factors that can potentially affect your team’s ability to accomplish these goals. Do you need to make any adjustments?

4. Realistic 

Going along with the tip above, goals also need to be realistic. As a leader, there’ll often be times when you want to reach beyond your grasp, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. All leaders should have vision, creativity, and the capacity to think big and innovate. However, one must also be realistic when it comes to goal-setting.

For instance, when you take a look at your team, do they have the capabilities, resources, and skills to reach a certain company goal? Or will forcing the goal upon them only lead to disengaged employees, job dissatisfaction, decreased confidence, and poor work output? Remember, when employees don’t feel that they have the necessary talent to complete a task, it can be enough to completely shut them off to their current position. It’s essential therefore to take an honest assessment of your talent pool. What are your team’s strengths? What are the areas for improvement? And how can you close that gap moving forward? While you do so, set goals that are realistic for your team. There’s nothing wrong with goals that challenge employees to grow, but make sure the growth occurs in increments, not in overwhelming leaps.

All leaders should have vision, creativity, and the capacity to think big and innovate. However, one must also be realistic when it comes to goal-setting.

5. Time-bound

Research has repeatedly shown that the majority of people work best under deadlines. People respond well to deadlines because meeting them allows them to feel a sense of accomplishment. Further, deadlines motivate us. When we’re unable to keep them, we feel it reflects on our character. After all, no one wants to be the employee in the office who can’t be relied upon or trusted.

Setting deadlines for your company goals, therefore, is an excellent way to motivate employees and move them closer and closer to the finish line. Do all your present goals have time lines? Is there an ‘end date’ that everyone is knowledgeable of and working toward? Be sure to include this time element in your goals, and you’ll no doubt see an increase in work output.


Goal-setting in the workplace is one thing that will most certainly be here to stay. The benefits, after all, are well worth it: a sense of purpose, elevated team spirit, and the opportunity for a company to grow by leaps and bounds. When you use the 5 elements above, you’ll design smarter and more effective goals that will help you and your team members innovate, move forward, and develop like never before.

Every company wants employees who are happy in their jobs. After all, happy employees typically equal productive employees, and productivity drives business results and helps a company to achieve its goals.

There are many ways to ensure the happiness of your employees, and chances are you’ve heard the majority of them before. They include strategies such as maintaining a positive working environment, holding regular team-building activities to help employees develop meaningful relationships with each other, and offering your employees opportunities to develop and grow in their career.

There is one strategy, however, that often gets overlooked by many organisations: effective employee recognition. In fact, a recent survey showed the gap that exists between how senior management and employees perceive recognition efforts. While 56% of senior management felt their company was above average when it came to appreciating employees, only 23% of staff felt likewise. That’s quite the difference!

Here are some other startling numbers:

  • 49% of employees said they would leave their current job for a company that recognized employees for their efforts and contributions.
  • 69% of employees would work harder if they were better recognized.
  • And 78% of workers said being recognised motivates them in their job. Indeed, employees who have been recognised by their employers assert that they love their jobs.

Recognition in the workplace is a powerful tool. It creates a positive work environment where employees challenge themselves to reach new levels of success. It motivates high performance and encourages employees to go above and beyond. And it increases morale. Recognition is essentially a form of validation, ensuring employees that they play a role in the company’s big picture and are therefore valued and needed.

If your company doesn’t yet practice regular recognition, it’s never too late to start. Or, if you need to enhance your existing recognition program, you can easily make a few adjustments that your employees will no doubt appreciate. Below are 5 tips for more effective employee recognition:

1. Be quick

Ideally, recognition should occur as close to performance as possible. This way, the praise reinforces the behavior the employer wants to encourage. If you wait too long—days or even weeks later—the employee has already put their accomplishment behind them and is no longer in that mindset. Immediacy is vital, as it allows the employee to better tie their performance with the praise they’re receiving.

2. Be specific

“Good job” may sound encouraging, but it isn’t enough to foot the bill when it comes to workplace recognition. You must let the employee know what specific behaviours or actions are being rewarded. When you’re too generic, you leave an employee confused about what exactly they did right. When you praise specific items, however (‘closed X number of sales calls’, finished the project X days before the deadline, etc.), you’re offering the employee a blueprint for repeated successes.

3. Be accurate

Nothing’s more embarrassing than not having your facts straight when it’s time to acknowledge an employee. Ensure you know the person’s name and the specific accomplishment for which you’re acknowledging them. Making a mistake in this manner will only serve to leave a sour taste in the employee’s mouth.

4. Be fair

As the old adage goes, ‘it takes a village to raise a child.’ While there will certainly be occasions when a star employee stands out above the rest, for the most part, projects tend to be a team effort. Don’t make the mistake of overlooking contributors. Instead, recognise and celebrate unsung heroes who helped behind the scenes.

5. Be well-balanced

Finally, make sure that the reward you’re offering matches the degree of achievement. For instance, if you’re celebrating an employee’s five year anniversary, don’t simply hand him or her a pen with the company’s logo. This only sends the message that the milestone is insignificant. Likewise, avoid going overboard with recognition. Small tokens of appreciation such as plaques/trophies, gift certificate, or even food are sometimes perfectly sufficient to make an employee feel valued.

Employee recognition helps to build a positive work environment along with a positive relationship between employees and their company. Using the strategies above, you’ll design a robust and effective employee recognition program that makes for a happier and healthier workplace.

Take any major company you know, and you’re bound to discover that it has a mission statement. A mission statement, in its most basic form, is nothing more than a summary of an organisation’s goals and values.

Google, for example, operates under a very simple premise: “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” This informs everything that Google creates and provides to its consumers. Sir Richard Brandon’s company Virgin Airlines also boasts a very simple mission statement: “to embrace the human spirit and let it fly.” Toward this end, everything they do is meant to “make flying good again.”

With the dawn of a new year now upon us, many companies will perhaps be reevaluating their mission statements to determine if they still are relevant to the company’s present goals, aims, and directions. If not, then it will be time to return to the drawing board and design a new mission statement that is more compatible with the way the company has since evolved.

If your team finds itself in such a camp, not to worry. Below are 4 questions to ask yourself during this process that will make developing a new mission statement an easier task.

1) What is your why?

Simon Sinek’s popular book Start with Why, he discusses how movements become contagious not necessarily because of their leaders but because of what those leaders represent: their purpose, their cause, their belief. Understanding this is essential to creating a mission statement that your employees and consumers can enthusiastically get behind.

Let’s take the example once more of Virgin Airlines. Despite being new on the scene within the airline industry, Virgin Airlines had already flown 1 million passengers in less than a decade of being in service. They were also the first airline to offer individual TVs to their business class passengers. Their why of “making flying good again” rallied a dedicated fan base, and it wasn’t long before they became famous for the world-class service they offer to all their passengers (from first-class to coach).

So, what is your company’s ‘why’? What pains do you seek to remedy? What problems do you seek to solve? And why is that important? How does it improve life for your clients and/or consumers?

2) What does success look like?

Clarity is fundamental when it comes to laying down the foundations for your company’s growth. Your mission statement serves the purpose of giving your company a goal. Tim Cook, the current CEO of Apple, Inc., offers these words to potential new employees: “Apple has always been different…It’s a special place where we have the opportunity to create the best products on earth – products that change lives and help shape the future…”

It’s no surprise then that Apple has come to be a company that is known for constantly focusing on innovating. Some of the greatest advances in technology have come out of Apple, and few would argue that they’re a leader in consumer technology. This can certainly be a way for Apple to measure their success.

How will your company measures its own success? Is it when you’re the leader in your own industry? Is it when you’ve reached a certain milestone in sales or customer acquisitions? Knowing this now will help you work harder and in a more focused way toward reaching your company goals.

3) What resources do you need to make it happen?

Sir Richard Branson needed licenses, aircrafts, and staff members in order to get his airline off the ground. Steve Jobs needed the partnership of engineer Steve Wozniak (and his parents’ garage) to found Apple, Inc.

What additional resources might your company need in order to get to the next level in the New Year? These additional resources can take the form of new employees, new management, new projects, new consultants, new contracts, and so on. Think outside the box and consider ways that your company might be stagnant in its growth at present. What can push it to a new stage of evolution? What will it need to grow in a new direction?

4) Who does the mission statement affect?

One of the most important aspects of architecting a mission statement, and the one aspect that’s unfortunately most overlooked, is to consider who your mission statement will ultimately affect. One of Steve Jobs’ rookie mistakes during Apple’s initial growth was designing a computer for the every-day person (the famous Macintosh)…but then sticking a price tag on it ($2,495 back in the eighties) that the average consumer could in no way afford.

But knowing who your mission statement affects goes beyond the client and/or consumer. It’s also equally important to consider your company’s employees. They will be brand ambassadors for your company, after all, and so they need to believe that the work they do somehow contributes to the overall big picture. That said, where possible, involve your teams in the creation of the company’s mission statement. Get their input and their involvement. When you do this, staff members begin to take ownership of the mission statement and feel as if it’s their own, which means they’re more apt to go the extra mile in helping the company reach its accomplishments.

Developing mission statements can be a challenging business, but with the guidance of the 4 questions above, you’ll gain the clarity and knowledge you need to press forward with confidence and ease. As a result, you’ll design a fitting mission statement that will help your company evolve in the New Year and achieve its goals like never before.