Mike O'Neill

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How to take the CON out of CONFLICT

Posted by Mike O'Neill on 7/24/19 7:23 AM



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Topics: Managing Conflict

Employer of Choice - Worth the Effort?

Posted by Mike O'Neill on 5/30/19 7:13 AM

Finding & keeping top talent has always been tough. But with our booming economy, it's gotten even tougher. Our clients are finding that being considered an Employer of Choice (EOC) gives them a competitive advantage. These employers offer a fantastic work culture & environment that attracts and retains great employees. But considerable effort is required, and it begs the question "is it worth the effort?".
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Topics: Employee Retention Ideas

Lead Better Meetings by Talking Less

Posted by Mike O'Neill on 5/22/19 7:07 AM

I'm an extrovert. As such, sometimes I tend to talk too much when I'm leading meetings. Dominating a meeting, especially when you're the senior person in the room is typically counterproductive.
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Topics: Managing Meetings

Managing the Right Employee who's in the Wrong Job?

Posted by Mike O'Neill on 4/25/19 7:15 AM

Sometimes good employees are simply in the wrong job. If you have employees who are not able to fully utilize their skills & abilities, they won't meet their full potential or your needs as their manager.
You may have hired the right person, but in today's fast-changing work environment ... employees who aren't encouraged to continually learn & develop may find that the right role quickly becomes the wrong fit.
When you have an employee, who needs a role change, consider these options:


If an employee isn't as well suited to a role as you thought, don't automatically write them off. Before making any decisions, speak with the employee, encouraging them to be open about what they expect from their role in the company. Ask your employees questions and discuss how they want to learn & develop. Not only is this critical in engaging your employees and ensuring they are content in their role, it also helps teams perform better. 

Find out if they have a skill or talent that is underutilized in their current position. This means more than just asking if there's something they'd rather be doing. Rather, you should ask them if the company is getting their best work,  and how they could put their skills to better use.


The transition from one role to another doesn't have to be difficult, and it shouldn't feel like an inconvenience to you or your employees.

You can foster natural progression & movement of talented employees by offering open access to internal positions and opportunities for career mobility within your organization.

It's important to give employees some control over the situation too – don't let them feel like it's something being done to them. Let them know your goal is to help them develop to their full potential, and mean it.

Work with your employees as a team, and make sure they understand that you are on their side and want them to stay with the company.

If the change is done well, it will nearly always result in improved morale and productivity. Not just for that employee, but often for anyone else whose work was impacted by that employee's responsibilities.


The best way to manage a potential issue is by preventing it. Make sure you are hiring employees who truly fit the position they're interviewing for.

Hiring managers should keep in mind the environment they want for their company. Choose applicants who will encourage a more agile workforce and progressive culture.

Talented individuals know that, to remain employable throughout their career, they must be willing to continually learn and improve their skills. They understand that employability depends less on what you already know and more on the ability to learn, apply and adapt.

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Topics: Reducing Turnover, Select the Right People

Strategy without Execution ... FAILS

Posted by Mike O'Neill on 4/17/19 7:01 AM

Which describes you best, Visionary or Operator? Why not both? Visionaries embrace strategy and think about amazing things to do. Operators get things done.

Leaders who master both strategy and execution start by building a bold but executable strategy. Next, they ensure that the company is investing behind the change. And last, they make sure that the entire organization is motivated to go the journey.

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Topics: Management Skills, Strategic Planning

How to Hit the Brakes to take a Spring Break. 

Posted by Mike O'Neill on 3/28/19 7:27 AM

Schools shut down for Spring Break - Businesses don't.

As a leader have you found yourself questioning whether taking time off is worth the effort? If yes, you're not alone. Over half of Americans leave some vacation time on the table.

Some of the reasons for the lack of vacation include feeling their workload is too heavy or that no one can do their job while they are gone. 

While it's difficult to remove all the stress as you plan to head out of the office, the following strategies offered by Elizabeth Grace Sunders can hopefully set yourself up of success once you return.


When done correctly, going on a vacation can offer a tremendous incentive to get projects done — but you need to plan for it. If you intend to take time off, put a meeting with yourself on your calendar for 3-4 weeks prior to your departure date. Scheduling time weeks before your departure allows you to honestly assess your workload while you still have time to do something about it. If you’re struggling to prioritize when you’re still 3-4 weeks out from vacation, ask yourself what you would do if you only had 1-2 weeks before you left. What you think of in this shorter time frame can become your priority activities, while everything else falls within the would-like-to-do category.

Then block out time on your calendar to complete the must-do items. Make your original plan to complete these items at least a week before you actually leave, so you still have the ability to complete them even if unexpected items come up (which they always do) or tasks take longer than expected. This week of margin before your vacation gives you flexibility to address urgent items and still wrap up.


No matter how good a job you do of getting work in order before heading out, some items will likely need attention while you’re gone. If possible, see if a colleague can take on that role for you so that you can have some real time off. Elizabeth recommend reaching out to your coworkers a week or more in advance to make them aware of what you will need, such as taking care of a specific responsibility or keeping an eye on certain projects. It will typically be clear who is the best person to cover for you, such as a coworker who is already on the same project. But when it’s not, talk with your boss to confirm who would be best.

Once you’ve selected who can help, write up any deadlines and deliverables, as well as contact information for key internal and external stakeholders, clients, and yourself while you’re away. Sometimes you can explain all of this through email, but often it’s best to have a meeting or at least a phone call to make sure that you’re both clear on expectations. If necessary, do quick email introductions between your stand-in and those involved in the work so that there’s a clear handoff. Also, put an alternative contact in your voicemail message and email auto-response when you go away. That way if anything unanticipated comes up, someone knows whom to contact.


Once you’ve figured out what you will do before leaving on vacation and what can be handled while you’re away, clarify what you will not do until you return. Elizabeth recommend having a sense of this in your mind early. But wait until 3-4 days before you leave to make the final call on what’s in or out. By then you should be sure about what you can reasonably accomplish, and you can relay this information to your boss, teammates, and anyone else involved in the work.

It can be uncomfortable to have these conversations, but it’s almost always best to be up front about what to expect instead of leaving people hanging who are expecting something from you, and then having to deal with a mid-vacation crisis caused by lack of communication. Update colleagues on the status of projects and let them know that nothing will move forward until after you get back in the office. Also, give key individuals the heads-up that you won’t be available — or as available — during the time that you’re away.


Unplugging from work for an extended period of time can make some people feel like hyperventilating. And there may be good reasons why you check in with work while you’re away, such as following up on a deal that’s about to close or responding to an urgent, time-sensitive item. If you do decide to check in, set limits. For example, you could spend one hour on work each morning and then stay away from your computer for the rest of the day. Or you could ask a coworker to text you the status of an important project so that you’re informed — but don’t have to open your inbox and get sucked into work mode.

And if you can truly unplug, do. There’s something wonderfully freeing about realizing the world can and will keep turning without you. Being completely disconnected from work has many benefits including lowered stress, improved sleep, enhanced connections with others, and improved concentration and creativity. It helps us remember that our jobs really can go on without us — at least for a while. And it reminds us of the importance of life outside our work. This not only can make it less stressful to disconnect the next time you take time off but can also help you with day-to-day decisions like spending an evening at home on a weeknight without checking work email.

By following these strategies for completing work and being away from the office, you can reduce the pre-vacation stress and relax more once you’re away.


SOURCE: How to Invest Your Time Like Money - Elizabeth Grace Saunders

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Topics: Management Skills, Stress Reduction

The Small Team I Manage is now BIG ... Now What?

Posted by Mike O'Neill on 3/21/19 7:20 AM

As companies get flatter, teams tend to get bigger. If you are managing a team that is growing, you have probably noticed that the old way of doing things no longer works. 

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Topics: Leading Teams

Managing the Meeting Monopolizer

Posted by Mike O'Neill on 2/28/19 2:07 PM


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Topics: Managing Meetings

Don't Have a Mentor? Why Not?

Posted by Mike O'Neill on 2/14/19 10:36 AM



Today, employees are expected to do more to contribute to their company. Often this means being more focused & knowledgeable with less support and fewer resources. If you're feeling the pressure to keep up, learn continuously and demonstrate your talents simultaneously, you're not alone. This is where a mentor can very helpful. A mentor should be someone who has more life experience than you; someone you aspire to be like or who you think shares your morals and values. If you can find the right mentor, you will find yourself receiving an invaluable informal education.

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Topics: Mentoring

Management Flashes from "Between the Hashes"

Posted by Mike O'Neill on 1/31/19 7:15 AM


This Sunday, either the New England Patriots or the Los Angeles Rams will compete for the honor of raising the Vince Lombardi Trophy as Super Bowl LIII Champions.

100+ million will watch it on TV. Odds are good that you will be one of them.

Yes, a team has to be good to make it to the Super Bowl. But what does it take to win it all?

Might the same requirements apply to Companies as well?

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Topics: Leading Teams, Strategic Planning