Published by Scott Neilson on 14 Oct 2014

In their absence…

I want to say thank you to all who reached out to me over the past few months wondering why I had stopped writing on the blog…what had happened…was I okay?

Yes, I am fine, thank you. I have been dealing with numerous deaths…both family and close friends. It set me back in a way I had never expected. As sad as it has been, I have found the grieving process to be a very important one…one to be embraced, not avoided…one to spend time with, not to rush through…one to enable me to move on positively, not to leave me mired in sadness and depression.

I learned a lot…about myself and about those I lost. The process has enabled our relationships to come to closure in a healthy way…a way which will keep them in my life…contributing, not through words and actions, but through thoughts and memories…values and ideals…beliefs and attitudes.

Published by Scott Neilson on 14 Dec 2013

S’il vous plait?

Here is an establishment that is putting it’s money where it’s values are!  Rude customers pay more for a cup of coffee.  Right on!

cafe rude prices

Photo Courtesy Fabrice Pepino

Check out the article and pass it around!!!




Published by Scott Neilson on 22 Nov 2013


Follow this link…


I am stunned!

Published by Scott Neilson on 14 Nov 2013

Results are in…

…for the first three programmes of the season…Rotterdam, Dublin and Cologne.  Have a look:


I have also been invited to do 5 new programmes in addition to my usual spring schedule.  Going to be busy in 2014!

This is University College of Dublin, Smurfit School of Business


And, this is Gogarty’s, a famous place in Temple Bar for Traditional Irish music, known as Trad.


Published by Scott Neilson on 30 Apr 2013

Too many chefs? The downside!

The last post looked at the upsides of a matrix organization.  In the interest of fair balance, here are some downsides to consider as well.


In our interest to be fast-moving and not encumbered by hierarchical structures in business, it is easy to fall into the trap of involving too many people in the management of it.  By this I mean, I have seen many times in which leaders, being so interested in quick action and progress, will ask several people all to do the same thing.  The issue is so high on their consciousness that they tell whomever they happen to run into to “do this” or “do that”.   They get so focused on the tasks to be accomplished, that they forget about good process.

That is the leadership challenge here.  Clarity of roles and processes is critical to efficiency and motivation.

Many times they do not even realize that they have already given the same instructions to other people.  As a result, they now have several people all running around trying to resolve the same issues.  I have done the same thing myself. I simply lose track of who I have asked to do what.

Of course, the impact is obvious.

Number 1.  You get people stepping all over each other trying to get the task completed, and involving numerous people to do the job of one.

Number 2.  You often get a slightly different interpretation of the task by each person you have asked…kind of the Whisper Down the Lane syndrome…remember that game you played as a kid or in management communications seminars?

Number 3.  Inevitably, the leader will come across some new information that will lead her/him to modify the instructions or stop it entirely.  She/he will often not recall having asked several people to perform the task, and so will fail to make them all aware of the change.  Those people will continue speeding along in the original direction not knowing that the direction has changed.  Talk about confusion.  Don’t laugh, this happens!

How do you avoid this?  As a leader you must have an organized way of delegating.  You cannot just walk around barking out orders.  You must remain aware of good process at all times and be careful to remain clear on roles and responsibilities…accountability.

Only assign people tasks and responsibilities that are within their job description…clarity and accountability.  Sounds simple, right?  It is.  However, it is often violated.  Here are some reasons why…

  • If you find yourself unclear about who is responsible the task or crossing the lines between two or more jobs, then you have to re-examine those jobs for clarity of definition.
  • If you find that you are not confident in a person’s ability to perform a certain task and so you assign it to someone else whose responsibility it is not, then you have to consider making a change.
  • If it is a complex issue that requires more than one person to resolve, perhaps you can assign others to assist.  However, make it very clear who in that group is ultimately responsible for the outcome.

If you think that you do not have the time to take these steps, think about how long it will take you to fix the problems you are about to cause…confusion, inefficiency and demotivation.

Remember, it is good to be able to be flexible in the way you operate, but not at the expense of clarity and accountability.  That is the leadership challenge here.  Clarity of roles and processes is critical to efficiency and motivation.

While it can be effective to use a matrix, it needs to be well thought through and applied.  In the organization I referred to in the last post, I had once said that the matrix there worked very well.  A colleague of mine clarified my statement by adding that it was the people who made it work well because they were clear on their responsibilities within the matrix and did not cross any lines of responsibility.  She was right…and that clarity all starts with the leadership.

Published by Scott Neilson on 23 Mar 2013

Spring Schedule of Programmes…

Have a look at the schedule of events for the Spring 2013 programmes on the tab Schedule of Events or on this link…


Warsaw University of Economics in Poland is a new programme on the schedule this year.  I am interested to work with them.

Published by Scott Neilson on 21 Nov 2011

Follow-up on Strengths and Weaknesses

I have gotten a number of comments about this post, so I will add them one at a time so that each post is not too long.


Still additional question though – do you think that giving feedback on someone’s strengths & weaknesses is the right way to address this issue? What I mean is – if I know that that person can hardly improve it (it is not an action, but rather factual, characterstics which can be changed only with great difficulty OR values of that person etc) I will not include this into the feedback. What are your thoughts on this?



Hello Tomas…great question again!

Yes, I still think it is important to give that feedback.  First, you need to decide if you NEED that level of performance in the job.   If you do not, then you take that responsibility out of the job, change the job description and increase the clarity around what you DO expect in that role.  However, if you DO need that level of performance in the job and they cannot deliver it, then the feedback conversation becomes the first step in documenting the weakness and managing them out of that job.  Moving them out of a job they cannot do is better for both them and the company since it will just be a source of frustration for them, and failure for the business if you don’t.  You cannot afford to have a person in a role and not performing to your level of expectations or needs.

Published by Scott Neilson on 14 Nov 2011


Gotcha…thought that was something else didn’t ya?  Smith & Wesson? 


Hello all.  Please forgive my prolonged absence.  It has been one year since I last put a post on the blog.  In that time I have relocated twice…once to Chicago, and once to France.  Needless to say, I have been up to my eyeballs with adjustments.  I am still up to my eyeballs, but I am intent on getting back to my blog.   I am glad to be writing again. 


I had one reader write me the other day asking about the choice between improving on your weaknesses versus building on your strengths…which is better?  Interesting question.  In my opinion, as with many other areas, it is a question of balance.  It depends on which skill areas are weak and which are strong.  It also depends on how weak you are in those areas.  Finally, it depends on the current needs of your organization and how those align with your strengths and weaknesses.   


However, the question also took my thinking down another path…now there’s a surprise. 


The real key to managing your strengths and weaknesses is knowing what they are.  Most people do not.  To make matters worse, I have found few people with internal fortitude to ask for feedback about their strengths and weaknesses, and to listen to the answer. 


If you are in denial about your own areas for development…your individual weaknesses become organizational weaknesses, and your problems get bigger fast!

To take the dilemma one step further, I have found few people that are skilled or feel comfortable giving “constructive feedback”.  They seem to feel that it is going to be a confrontational or combative situation, so they either do not give any feedback at all, or they “shine it up” so that it is easier to deliver.  As a result, the recipient is not getting real feedback, or it is shallow in content. 


Now, to make matters even worse, in those rare cases in which people do get feedback, they often do not believe it.  They go through a period of denial followed by anger.  Sometimes they make it through to acceptance and correction.  Unfortunately, research shows that acceptance and correction are not the usual response.


The final pitfall, though, is the worst.  As you know, we tend to hire in our own image.  If you are in denial about your own areas for development and are hiring in your own image, then you are hiring people with the same weaknesses as your own.   Your individual weaknesses become organizational weaknesses.  The problem gets bigger quickly!


FYI…this is why Performance Management Systems are generally ineffective.  The design is usually good.  The execution is the problem.  Supervisors rarely do an adequate job of providing feedback.


Back in the early uh…well…a long time ago, I had the opportunity to design the leadership development program for one of the top pharmaceutical companies in the world.  During that time I sampled many 360 degree programs and assessment centers.  The first 360 program I used really shocked me because it pointed out an area of relative weakness which I had previously felt was a strength…developing people.  I was stunned.  Yes, I went through the denial phase and discounted the validity of the whole process.  Fortunately, I came around and listened to the feedback.  The upside of all this was that I paid attention to it, worked on it, and two years later it had improved to a clear strength. 


The point here is, get feedback…take a 360.  You need facts and data…real information.  Often people you work with are not comfortable or skilled at providing that data.  Seek out a third party for assistance…take a 360 degree feedback program.  They are not expensive and the usable data is priceless for developing your career.  The bonus is that they also generally provide you with development ideas for improving your areas of relative weakness.  As a reference, the ones I have used and that I found particularly useful were from DDI, PDI and CCL.

Published by Scott Neilson on 01 Nov 2010

Here’s what’s new!

Haven’t had the time to tell you what is new on the blog…here it is!

Added a new category on Development.  This was at the request of some readers who find employee development to be a challenge.  I think many of us struggle with this subject.  I will try to write something on this subject once a month.

Added a page for Comments, Questions and Suggestions all of which can be done anonymously.

Added a page for Resources in which I will write about programs, experts, articles and books that may be useful for you.

Added a Marquee to provide some verbatim feedback from blog readers and seminar attendees.  It is located in the left column and scrolls through comments.  If you have anything you would like to add please feel free to send your comments on the Questions/Comments page.

Added a place to list Blog Stats right under the Marquee. 

Got a couple of other new pieces in development…will let you know when they are complete.