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Professional development news and articles by our Zoe Associates and staff

Examples of Positive Feedback – Be Specific

Shari Harleyby Shari Harley

If you were on a diet and stepped on a scale that said, “Pretty good. Keep up the good work,” you’d return the scale, claiming it didn’t work. Likewise, if your GPS told you that it “seemed you were going the right way,” you’d probably use a different app, or heaven forbid, buy a map. Scales and GPS provide us with feedback, but vague feedback is unhelpful. It doesn’t tell us what to do more, better, or differently, which is the purpose of feedback.

Vague, positive feedback is also inauthentic, and inauthenticity smells. Hearing you did a great job is nice, but utterly unhelpful because the feedback recipient doesn’t know what he did well and what to replicate. If you want people to replicate a behavior, tell them precisely what they did well that you want them to do again. Continue Reading

Think Better Using Six Different Thinking Styles

Tiffany Dahlbergby Tiffany Dahlberg

Every day we are faced with making decisions; some are easy and quick and others are difficult and time-consuming.  For those decisions that require deep thinking, it’s helpful to use a simple systematic methodology that not only saves time, but also ensures you have thoroughly examined the situation.  I first learned Edward DeBono’s powerfully simple tool the “Six Thinking Hats” in 2000 and share it with others as a critical thinking method.

The idea is that thinking can be conducted in a way that more fully explores topics employing formal techniques based on the brain’s behavior.  What makes thinking difficult is the conflicting thoughts of our heart (emotions), our head (logic and information), and our soul (hope and creativity).  “Six Thinking Hats” provides a way for us to separate these thoughts and then focus on one thinking mode at a time.  These modes are represented by six different hats. Continue Reading

The Changes We Don’t Choose

D.J. Vanasby D.J. Vanas

Just when we think we’ve got it all figured out, the cards get reshuffled – or the whole table can be overturned in a moment. The changes we encounter are as varied, and sometimes as disturbing, as the outfits of Lady Gaga. Small changes bring small challenges, such as remembering to put the current year in correspondence or on your checks or getting used to a favorite place closing down. I still carry my Blockbuster card, hoping against hope our beloved neighborhood store reopens. There is an adjustment period with a new workout routine, changes in the way we do business, updated tax codes or your kids’ school schedule. Then there are the big changes such as a divorce, the end of a relationship or the loss of a limb – or a loved one. These changes can hurt us and haunt us. I’ve talked to soldiers who’ve lost limbs who still look down and expect to see their absent leg – and sometimes feel sensations from the phantom limb.

All of these changes, and yes I mean all of them, bring opportunities. Even the heartbreaking changes offer us an opportunity to take an assessment of where we are right now on the journey, where we are going and spur us to be conscious in our choices. Continue Reading

Failure IS an Option

Don Cooperby Don Cooper

It’s an iconic moment in the movie Apollo 13: The flight team at Mission Control is trying to figure out how to get the ill-fated astronauts back to Earth and Flight Director Gene Kranz states flatly, “Failure is not an option!”

It’s a stirring scene, and the line has become a staple of managers, business gurus and motivational speakers.

There are only a couple of minor problems with the famous line:

1. Kranz never actually said it.
2. Failure is always an option. Continue Reading

Going Paperless: The Legality of Using E-signatures

K.J. McCorryby K.J. McCorry

Often, one of the many hesitations in organizations going paperless is getting rid of or converting records that have hand-written signatures. This issue is related to two legal issues: 1) the legal standing of hand-signed records that are in electronic format; and 2) if e-signatures are legally defensible.

E-signatures have been upheld in numerous court cases and are considered legal defensible documentation according to the U.S. Supreme Court. Based on the Rules on Electronic Evidence from the Supreme Court, essentially electronically signed or scanned in hand-signed documents are: Continue Reading