Monday, June 17, 2024


Self-improvement is a long-term game, but as you work continuously on improving yourself, it is important to keep certain pitfalls in mind.

  • Do not become overly focused on yourself. This means that you become self-absorbed and self-centered.
  • Another pitfall of working to improve yourself constantly is that you can become overly convinced of your own self-importance.
  • Finally, if you are always working to improve yourself, you may find that you have gotten stuck in this sense that you are never good enough. A better way to frame this is to think that where you are is always good, but that there is also always room for improvement.

When you find yourself excessively self-oriented, this is a sign that you need to deepen your humility and refocus on serving others. Here are some ways to help you foster a greater sense of humility:

  • Allow others to be first and foremost. Insisting on being the first in line, the first to raise your hand in a class, the first to get the parking spot, and so on, has a tendency to inflate one’s sense of self-importance. However, when you allow others to have the spotlight or be first, it gives you a better vantage point to appreciate their gifts and what they are able to bring to the table. When you can do this, you actually find yourself in a better position to lead others because you understand how they can best contribute.
  • Don’t insist on being right. Nobody likes to be wrong, including other people. When you are wrong, it puts you in a vulnerable position which can be scary. However, vulnerability is often what makes a person beautiful and appreciable. Allowing others the legitimacy of their beliefs without correction from you is a charitable act. 
  • Listen to what other people think more than telling them what you think. Dale Carnegie once said that the sweetest sound to anyone is the sound of their own voice. Really paying attention to what other people have to say without having to correct or undermine them helps you to stay oriented outward rather than being self-absorbed.
  • Try not to judge others. An old saying goes like this, “When you point a finger at someone else, you have three fingers pointing back at you.” While it is tempting to judge another person, to assess what they are doing and how they are doing it, when you do so, you are presuming that you know better. Unfortunately, unless you have lived the experiences of another person, you cannot know what is best for them. Your grasp on another person’s situation will always be incomplete because you don’t have the complete picture.

Until next time ...


Sheryl Tuchman, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Monday, June 10, 2024

You are the Boss of You

The most important habit that effective people can have, whether they lead others or not, is to be proactive. Think of proactive as the opposite of reactive. Instead of having the world act upon you, you take action to make yourself into the kind of leader anyone would follow.

What Kind of Person Would You Follow?

If you have been working on your mission statement and identifying your core values, this question is probably not too difficult to answer. If you understand what you value in yourself and in others, then you can work at shaping yourself into that kind of leader. Keep in mind that developing into the kind of leader that you would follow involves constantly re-assessing where you are in terms of your values, your goals, and your overall mission. The further you go down the path of leadership, the more necessary it becomes to refine your skills and improve yourself. This requires detachment and self-honesty. Being detached means that you are able to dispassionately observe where you are strong and where you are weak. Self-honesty is the capacity to identify personal strengths and weaknesses.


In order to be an effective employee, an effective leader, and an effective person, you must have the capacity to reflect and be aware of yourself. Being self-aware involves multiple dimensions. Taking care of physical needs through exercise and maintaining a good diet are factors in being aware of your physical self. Disciplining your mind through meditation that allows you to manage your emotions effectively is an example of developing your emotional and psychological awareness. You also want to have a good idea of the big picture. Are you satisfied with where you are and where you are going? How would you imagine the things people remember about you match up with your life goals and your mission statement?

Until next time ...


Sheryl Tuchman, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Monday, June 3, 2024

Design Exercises with Specific Goals

Sometimes, you may want to give team members a break from working on their normal projects to meet as a team to improve team morale or functioning. In order to use meeting time and team-building exercises effectively, it is helpful to have specific goals in mind, identify those goals to your team members, and follow up. For example, doing a trust-building exercise after team members are at each other’s throats could be helpful, but if you only do the trust-building exercise one time, after a while, team members may forget the point and lose the benefits they gained. When planning a meeting, identify why the meeting is necessary, and plan an agenda to keep the meeting organized. Sometimes the purpose will be quite simple. Scheduling time for team members to play together can help them to recharge after a particularly grueling project. It can also help them build more rapport with each other. 

What to Avoid

  • When planning team-building exercises, make sure that you don’t undermine your attempt to improve your team. Here are some suggestions: 
  • Make sure that your team-building goals are relevant to your team’s needs so that they are worth taking time away from other work.
  • Make sure that your team-building activities continue on a regular basis, monthly or even weekly to reinforce your goals.
  • While athletics can be fun for many employees, they can also be destructive for team morale, especially if they are focused simply on competition and winning.

Until next time ...


Sheryl Tuchman, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Identify Team Roles

Dr. Meredith Belbin identifies nine team roles that can help make up a balanced and effective team:

  • The Plant. The plant is the highly creative and unconventional member of a team. They tend to be strong in thinking outside the box, but their primary weakness is a tendency to be forgetful.
  • The Monitor-Evaluator (ME). This person is good at providing a logical and dispassionate view of the range of decisions before a team. They tend to have difficulties with being overly critical and slow-moving.
  • The Coordinator (CO). This employee (it may be you) helps the team to focus on goals and to delegate work effectively. They might either over-delegate or under-delegate and end up micromanaging.
  • The Resource Investigator (RI). This employee will tend to understand how your team’s work can best translate to the rest of the world. They will be good at understanding the competition and developing connections with others outside and inside the team framework, but they can have difficulties in following up on or getting in-depth information.
  • The Implementer. This role involves someone who is good at taking theory and putting it into practice. They try to find strategies on how to make an idea work in the most efficient manner. Implementers have difficulty considering alternative approaches and may be slow to give up on a favored idea.
  • Completer-Finishers. These team members excel at the end of a task. They make sure everything is functioning ideally. These employees act as a kind of quality control. Their strength -- having high standards -- can also be their weakness, in that they tend to be perfectionists.
  • Team workers (TW). These employees are really good at smoothing over the tensions and difficulties that come up when people are working hard on creative endeavors. They excel at working and playing with others, but they can be indecisive when it comes time to make team decisions about the best course of action.
  • Shapers. These employees act as a kind of engine for the team. They can effectively get others going and create momentum. Typically, shapers are highly-driven and enthusiastic individuals. Their weakness tends to be being overly aggressive and temperamental in their desire to get the team’s work done.
  • The Specialist. The specialist of the group might only know how to do one thing, but they are an expert at it. Their focus is narrow and in-depth, which can be both their strength and their weakness.

An ideal team will be balanced with all nine roles being expressed. Since many teams are smaller than nine people, you may find that different team members excel at multiple roles. When you identify a key strength in one of your employees, for example, an employee who is highly energetic, then you can help them fulfill one or more roles on your team. The energetic employee for example might be good at being a shaper as well as being a resource investigator. Someone who is highly critical can be either a completer-finisher or a monitor-evaluator or both.

Until next time ...


Sheryl Tuchman, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Monday, May 20, 2024

Identifying Team Strengths and Weaknesses

One of the most important activities that you will need to engage in as a leader is constantly assessing the state of your team, each individual employee, and yourself. Before you can put employees in positions to succeed, you have to have a good idea of what their strengths and weaknesses are. Here are some guidelines for how to assess team and team-member strengths and weaknesses:

  • Include other team members in the assessment process. Allow each member of the team a chance to identify their own and other team members’ strengths and weaknesses. Ideally, this can be done privately so that no team member develops resentment toward another for perceived unwarranted criticism. This also allows you to compare your assessment with others.
  • When an employee or the entire team experiences a failure or a success, try to identify why this came about and who was most responsible. In the case of failure, identifying the responsible person is not about casting blame, but it is about identifying what went wrong so that you know where and how to improve. When you are analyzing a success, however, it is good to give credit when someone other than yourself was particularly instrumental in that success.
  • Determine how consistently an employee performs in a given role. If that employee is consistently unsuccessful, try to find another opportunity and role for that employee to be successful. Identify the skills necessary for success in certain roles, and when an employee is consistently successful in a role, note these skills as part of that employee’s skill set. If an employee fails to perform consistently, you may also identify these skills as weaknesses in that particular employee.
  • Observe employees when they act alone or outside of the team structure in order to determine how their strengths and weaknesses might change in different contexts. Perhaps it is not a lack of a particular skill that is the weakness but an inability to apply that skill in a team setting or vice versa.

Until next time ...


Sheryl Tuchman, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Monday, May 13, 2024


It may seem as if openness is the same thing as honesty, but there is a bit more to it. Being open is a two-fold characteristic. On the one hand, you want to be up front about your vision for your team, your plan for their success, and even, when appropriate, what changes may be in store. Sometimes you may be in a position of knowing something that’s going to happen, and the circumstances won’t allow you to inform your employees. However, if employees sense that something is about to happen, they can feel anxious. Since changes in work can affect a person’s livelihood, this anxiety cannot be overlooked or dismissed. Try to engage in empathy about the effect of keeping information from your employees. This can get tricky when trying to strike a balance between the needs of your employees and your bosses, but if you are operating from your own personal mission statement and using your own core values, then making tough decisions can actually be emotionally rewarding in that you get an opportunity to make a decision that will make you proud.

The other aspect of openness is being open to employees’ feedback and criticism. They may not always be correct in their criticism or concerns, but respecting your employees means giving them a fair hearing. When someone comes to you with a problem concerning what you are doing or how you are doing things, listen carefully. If you feel yourself getting angry or defensive, it’s possible that the employee has struck a nerve. You may not be in a place where you can immediately acknowledge the employee’s criticism. If that’s the case, schedule a follow-up that will allow you time to assess the concern and what you can do about it. Recent studies have found that people appreciate vulnerability in others far more than an appearance of perfection or invincibility, so don’t be afraid to admit when you are wrong or mistaken. This can actually make you a more respected and effective leader than if you demand respect by never apologizing or acknowledging your mistakes.

Until next time ...


Sheryl Tuchman, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Monday, May 6, 2024


Making yourself available to your employees is another vital aspect of building trust. This can be tricky, however, and you have to use good judgment in determining how available you need to make yourself in order to avoid micromanaging. Nevertheless, you should always allow some time where employees can approach you. If an employee feels you are unapproachable or feels intimidated, this can create a situation in which you are the last to know about something important going on. While you want to encourage employees not to rely too heavily on you, you also want employees to feel they can come to you when they need to do so. Striking the correct balance can take time and can vary from employee to employee. Some employees may develop better confidence in themselves by being left to their own devices. Others, particularly new employees, might need your presence a bit more, but it’s best to think of yourself in this situation as being like training wheels on a bicycle. At some point, the training wheels need to come off. Even then; however, your employees will trust you more knowing that you will figuratively "catch them if they fall" by being supportive and constructive.

Until next time ...


Sheryl Tuchman, SPHR, SHRM-SCP