Category Archives: Blog

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Are you on Track or De-railed?

Have you ever felt like your life has become de-railed? Unhinged? Chaotic? Here is a list of things to consider when you feel overwhelmed thinking about how to get life back in order.

We are here to help!

Your Coach,

sig_shandel

 

 

The Top 10 Tips to Get Back on Track After You’ve De-railed

1. Be patient and loving to yourself.

You’ve gotten off track for a reason – it does no good to beat yourself up for getting off track. Recognize that sometimes, time is the best healer. Be patient with yourself even while you re-establish your priorities.

2. Look in the environment for systems and structures that support you.

In as much as you have control over your life and your responses, so too does our environment profoundly effect us. Learn to identify what in the environment best supports you, so you can quickly re-establish the systems and structures that best support you.

3. Create a community of support.

Many of us have support in the form of friends, family and co-workers. All too often however, we don’t maximize this support. While verbalizing your experience to another is valuable, don’t stop here – venting isn’t enough. Look for practical ways that others can support you – and be specific in your request about what’s going to best meet your needs. Perhaps a daily check-in call from a friend would help you to be more accountable in your efforts to get back on track. Or, perhaps a certain type or line of questioning would be helpful. Think about who can best support you and what specific actions others can take to help you get you back on track.

4. The sooner you recognize and respond to the signs of derailment, the quicker you’ll get back on track.

Don’t analyze or ask why – this line of questioning generally isn’t productive. Why doesn’t matter! The trick is to pay attention to the signs of derailment and use these signs as a signal to take action — before the temporary derailment turns into a permanent way of being. The longer you’re off track, the harder it is to get back on track.

5. Get back in touch with your vision.

Take some quiet time and get back in touch with your vision. Then, let your vision pull you forward. In as much as our behavior and the environment are important factors for creating the lives we want, so too is vision an important ingredient. Create a vision that’s perfectly aligned with your values, interests and style. Create a vision so powerful and authentic that it pulls you forward.

6. Understand what motivates you.

Understanding what attracts you to a particular activity, person or vision is key. If you understand what motivates you, you’ll be better able to handle the fluctuations of energy and commitment. Your motivation is what drives your behavior – so make sure that you’re in touch with what motivates you. This will help you to understand what drives you and what’s most important for you. Fulfilling a particular project might not be so important if your motivation or essential needs aren’t getting met. In this case, it might not matter that you’ve gotten off-track.

7. Let others know what you’re up to.

The more you let others know what you’re up to, the more real your intentions become. Similarly, when you put your ideas into words, your ideas begin to have a life of their own. They’ll have more power and YOU’LL have more power. Communicate to the world what you’re up to – the synergy that comes when others know what you’re up to will indirectly support you in staying on track.

8. Take time off!

In as much as living from our passion and commitment is powerful and inspiring, we benefit from taking breaks. Taking breaks can reinvigorate us. Allowing yourself to take a nourishing break enhances your ability to stay the course. Just make sure that the break you take nourishes you and doesn’t deplete your energy. (I.e. a change of scenery or activity level is nourishing. Watching TV is not.)

9. Remember that persistence equals courage and courage equals authenticity.

When you’re totally committed, you’re invincible. You’re unstoppable because you believe strongly in your project. Courage is that steadfastness to continue even when things become rough. When there’s alignment between your project and who you are, an authenticity exists that is powerful and lasting. Think about how courage, persistence and authenticity show up for you in terms of your project or life.

10. Maintain perspective.

In as much as your project has the power to compel, inspire and pull you forward – remember that your project isn’t your life, but a part of your life. Maintain perspective about life and about what’s in your life. In as much as living from commitment, passion and focus is exhilarating, remember that we’re more than the sum of our accomplishments. Respect life – and treat your life with respect.


This piece was originally submitted by Jan Gordon, LCSW

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The Top 10 Ways to Be in the Present

Sometimes we are so focused on the future that we neglect the day in which we are living. Let us focus on this very moment and make it the best it can be!

What are you doing TODAY to focus on THIS 24 hours?

Your Coach,
sig_shandel

 

The Top 10 Ways to Be in the Present

1. Change your affirmations from future to present tense.

Change “I will be five pounds lighter in June” to “I choose healthy ways to nourish myself.” By stating our goals, visions, and beliefs in the present tense, we give them immediate power to happen now.

2. Gently redirect your mind back to the present whenever your thoughts stray.

Being in the present is a gradual process. Forcing, punishing, and feeling bad about yourself will disempower you.

3. Live your life with joy.

If you are presently content, you have fewer reasons to chase illusions.

4. Open up all of your senses and experience the moment.

What do you see, hear, feel, smell, taste, and know on the deepest level about this moment? These thoughts can help ground you in the present.

5. Realize that time is never wasted; it’s only spent.

6. Celebrate the passing of time by enjoying each season.

7. Deliberately place your focus on present action rather than past regrets or future worries.

8. Keep your fear in proper perspective.

Fear is a tool for survival, but it shouldn’t be leading a filibuster in your head! Allow other emotions to have airtime.

9. Look at the big picture.

Often we get caught up in the details and our perspectives become skewed. Take a step back – take three steps back. Expand the picture as far as your mind can conceive.

10. Breathe.

About the Submitter
This piece was originally submitted by Erica Wang

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The Top 10 Tips on How To Have a Positive Attitude

Sometimes we let our attitudes control everything in our lives.  Here are some great reminders of how to positively affect your life by simply changing the way you think!

The Top 10 Tips on How To Have a Positive Attitude

1. Take ownership of your attitude.

We control our attitude. It is not something that is genetically or environmentally determined. Each of us can decide what our attitude is going to be. We can choose to have a positive attitude about life. A ready smile is a gift to all those around you.

2. Take action to eliminate what bothers you.

You may be putting up with more things than you have realized. Think about what you are tolerating. You may be tolerating things, or ways that someone speaks to you, that you don’t like. Just paying attention to what you are tolerating will be the first step towards eliminating it. Tolerations infect your attitude.

3. Live in the present.

Let go of living in the past or in the future and enjoy the present.

4. Let go of things that don’t matter.

Stop wasting energy on being irritated and annoyed at things that really don’t matter.

5. Be non-judgmental.

Let go of being critical of others. Try instead to listen and understand. As you open yourself up to not judging others you will be able to accept yourself and others more.

6. Listen to yourself and trust what you hear.

Let go of other people’s voices that you carry in your head. Instead, listen to yourself and take responsibility for what you can and want to do.

7. Live your values.

By living your life according to your values you will develop an attitude of true acceptance of yourself. You will realize that you are fine the way you are. You may choose to make some changes in your life simply because you realize that you have greater potential than you have utilized so far.

8. Have fun and enjoy humor.

Take delight in life and create fun experiences for yourself. Don’t make life be too heavy.

9. Invest energy in the people who you love and care about.

Meaningful relationships are developed and sustained by positive attitudes and commitment.

10. Develop an attitude of love.

By developing a loving attitude towards yourself you will in turn interact with others from a basis of love.

Your Coach,

sig_shandel

About the Submitter
This piece was originally submitted by Kristina von Rosenvinge

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Getting Things Done (GTD)

If you’re like me, you learned about David Allen’s GTD method about 10 years ago. While not an early adopter (since GTD was published in 2002) there was still some geeking out on this new productivity method.

Then there are a number of you who don’t care. You don’t need a method for GTD. You just put your head down and get things done. No need for tricks, tips or frills. (Boy, do I envy you!)

Regardless of where you land on either side of the conversation, I want to highlight the imperative key to unlocking productive action. Namely, Clarity.

Okay, Alan. Clarity seems like a broad concept to state as “the key” to GTD.

I’ll clarify by sharing a familiar scenario:

  • Manager hires new team member that has industry experience, but from a different culture and business approach.
  • On-boarding ensues and new hire is given information about company culture, industry approach, and his/her responsiblity.
  • Post on-boarding new hire is expected to get after it.
  • In the first two to four weeks, the new hire is scrambling to keep learning. Working to grasp company tools, tactics, contacts (internal and external), culture, etc.
  • In the first two to four months, the new hire is feeling tired, colleagues may feel like he/she is not pulling their weight, and the direct manager is likely unclear why the new hire seems to be producing “so little”.

Let’s end the scenario right there. While we could go on let’s get straight to the solution.

The Key to GTD

The missing clarity that I was highlighting early is this. As leaders, we must understand our personal wiring, have sharp tools, but most importantly get REALLY clear on communicating expectations.

What does that look like practically?

Good question. The foundation of GTD is having…

  1. A clear understanding of the objective (and number of them)
  2. Proficiency to prioritize said objectives in order of importance
  3. Competency to accurately execute action

I really like how the military has modeled this for us. They make it even more simple. Prioritize and Execute.

Quality GTD Leadership

My point here is that most of the time we get caught up with someone not GTD in the same manner that we do. Or a person prefers different tools than we like. The reality, as the leader, is that our job is to make crystal clear what the concrete expectations are.

Are we so clear that when a team member begins to “drop the ball” there is no doubt that you set them up for a “Win”? Or is there reasonable doubt that they were not given a fair shake in GTD. Much of the time we burn through employees because we deem them unsuitable for a job when in reality they were never given the clarity they needed to be successful.

Once we’re crystal clear in communication, setting concrete expectations, etc. Then we will adequately know if someone is not a good fit. Instead of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Do you disagree with my GTD assessment?

I welcome feedback or even pushback!

Pulling for you,

Alan Andersen

This article previously appeared at Shandel Group.

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Opportunity; The Cornerstone of Accomplishment

I love that quote from Jordan! That’s saying a lot since Earvin “Magic” Johnson is my favorite basketball athlete of all time. But Jordan encapsulates the reality of what winning really is. Regardless if you’re into sports or not, the spirit of Jordan’s quote should ring true for any leader.

I want to highlight what the cornerstone of winning is. Namely, opportunity.

Interesting, I would have thought it was Jordan’s unmatched work ethic and talent. Why is “opportunity” so significant?

Opportunity is more than significant, opportunity is imperative. Think about this, what would Michael Jordan’s life (or his quote) have been like if he had been born in 1863 instead of 1963?

Enter Opportunity

Of all of the things that we work to control, our time, energy, effort, relationships, career, health, etc. one of the biggest things that we can not control is opportunity. Yes, we can position ourselves to align with possibility or a “lucky break”. But in its simplest form WE CAN NOT CONTROL OPPORTUNITY.

In other words, you and I did not choose when we were born. We had no say in the family-system that we grew up in. The era of life was not on a menu of options that we chose. You did not determine how much or little hair you would have.

Okay, I see what you’re saying but help me connect the dot to its importance.

To be clear, I’m not saying you should be experiencing some life-altering “a-ha” moment (but maybe). I am implying that there needs to be a high level of awareness that in some way, shape or form you need to grasp that you can only control so much.

When life aligns to success. When you meet your ideal partner. When you experience break through…be sure to pause and experience gratitude for the opportunity to “win”.

Top of Mind

That’s it. Its simple, I know, but we must remember that you and I are going at warp speed (or at least we would if we could!). As we are pushing hard, fast and forward there is a gravitational pull to look at ourself and feel satisfied with all that we have accomplished. All that we have completed. Look at how well I am moving the needle!

Let’s be prepared to win, no doubt. In fact, I regularly and quasi-kiddingly say:

There are only two things in life (1) Winning and (2) Winning.

However, keep top of mind that winning would not be possible if you were not granted the opportunity to accomplish your goal. When you create space to remember this fundamental reality, you will be a naturally grateful person.

Pulling for you,

Alan Andersen

This article previously appeared at Shandel Group. If you enjoyed this post, read Shandel’s book, Clarity: Focusing on What Matters.

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The One Question you Should be Asking

There is a relatively short list of people who have had direct and personal influence on my life like Dave Kraft! He is a man who is a living definition of how Shandel Group defines leadership. All the more, he has stood the test of time. Now in the latter part of his life, he is leading and loving people very well.

Today we are honored to share a recent write-up Dave did on determining priorities.

Enjoy!

Alan Andersen

Here’s Dave….

As a leader, you need to regularly ask yourself this question!

What Is The Most Important Thing I Should Be Working On Right Now?

What are the most important things I should be working on…

  • This day
  • This week
  • This month

Not what is…

  • The easiest thing
  • The urgent thing
  • The most fun thing
  • The coolest thing
  • The what-I-most-feel-like-doing thing
  • The keep-people-off-my-back thing
  • The keeps-nipping-at-my-heels thing
  • The what-will-make-me-popular thing

But what is… The Most Important Thing?

The most important thing as it relates to your mission, your purpose, your vision, your gifts, your calling, your capacity, your job description and your deadlines.

It was Peter Drucker who said, “Efficiency is doing things right, but effectiveness is doing the right things.” As a leader you want to be more about “effective” than “efficient.” You can be extremely efficient at things that really don’t matter in the long run. Many leaders are proactive rather than strategic in how they make their decisions and use their time.

Ask yourself at the beginning of a week: What are the 5-10 most important things that you need to accomplish this week?

Ask yourself at the beginning of a day: What are the 3-5 most important things that you need to accomplish this day?

Then, stick to those identified items. Don’t distract yourself with things of lesser value and importance, and don’t allow others to pull you off mission, unless what they are asking is truly of greater value than what you had originally planned to do.

This is one of the most helpful, practical things I have learned in my 45 years of pastoral ministry.

Don’t let the winds of other people’s demands and your own inner compulsions drive you onto a reef of frustration. Paraphrased from: “Tyranny Of The Urgent” by Charles E. Hummel.

Do all of this in total dependence on Jesus as you seek to be led by him, empowered by him and honor him.

–Special thanks to Dave Kraft for sharing his wisdom with us. This was originally posted on www.davekraft.org

This article previously appeared at Shandel Group

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Ten-ish Must Read Books

Tremendous (as Charlie was often called) was spot on, at least in my experience. About this time 5 years ago, I had just been invited to join the Executive Team at a franchisor HQ in South Seattle. I had been training and equipping small business owners and their teams to scale and grow quickly. Doing well in that role, I got my break!

Learning to Grow

At that time I was literally practicing (albeit imperfectly) skills and tools that I had learned two years previously at an off-site training day led by Shandel. When I first learned about her process, it was vital pivot in my formation as a leader. By the end of the training, I made my way through a long line of people to personally express my gratitude for her wisdom and ask to keep in touch!

Little did I know that her training was to be the training ground for healthy leadership. And that Shandel taught me to bring #nextlevel action every day as a new member of the Executive Team.

How did you fare in your first executive level role?

Well, in addition to skillfully wielding the tools Shandel equipped me with, I dove head first into the books. I began forming new friendships with the likes of Bob Burg, Jim Collins, Stephen Covey, Mark Sanborn, Pat Lencioni, etc. I was so hungry to grow. So in large part, thanks to Shandel and a diverse group of humble, phenomenal authors, I was able to add more value than I was taking in return.

Asking the Right Question

Now fast forward to today, in which a day does not pass without being asked one of three questions.

  1. What are you reading right now?
  2. What book would you recommend for “X” situation?
  3. How do you choose the books you’re going to read?

While these are good questions, I usually ask a clarifying question to get to the root of the ask. I typically want to know “why”. In other words, I’ll say, “Will you help me understand why you’re asking and what you hope to gain?”

Previously I’ve taken the baited question hook, line, and sinker. So eager to “help” I would take a question at face value and unknowingly give a less than helpful response. Yes, I answered the question, but did I really serve the person to the best of my ability?

Wait, that doesn’t necessarily compute. Will you put your point another way?

The value of really helping someone is partnering in a way (whether in word or action) that you actually serve them in the best way possible for them. In other words, give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime. (Chinese Proverb)

I share all of this as a qualifier before listing what I believe to be the top ten-ish books* that everyone should have to read. Primarily because the real X factor is what do you most need to learn and grow in (as all of us are in perpetual need of growth whether we realize it or not!). It’s more about where you’re at versus what has worked for me that you now hope will work for you.

Bottom line, unless you have a high level of personal awareness, understanding where you need to learn and grow, then stop what you’re doing and figure it out. And, yes, we can help you do that too.

What Do You Need to Read?

For those of you who know where you’re at and ready to be better, faster, smarter, more helpful, etc. Here is my list of the top books you should read if you want to learn and grow to be holistically healthy.

  1. The Advantage by Lencioni
    • After reading this Shandel knew our firm needed an Organizational Health Coach. Ironically, when I read this book in 2014 I said that I was going to grow into an Organizational Health Coach. This book will help you learn how to measure what matters most so you can be a healthy organization, team, or small business.
  2. The Anatomy of Peace by Arbinger Institute
    • I love this book because of what it represents. In a word, alignment. The Anatomy of Peace is a great read that will help you learn how to do more of what you need to do, namely connect peaceably with humans. It deconstructs how to create alignment and health in your relationships.
  3. Collaborative Intelligence by Markova & McArthur
    • This book is especially helpful when it comes to figuring out your personal wiring. Clarifying how you hear, understand and communicate is imperative. This book clarifies collaborating with others in a fun and applicable way. If you’re working with people or building teams read this!
  4. Extreme Ownership by Willink & Babin and QBQ by Miller & Levin
    • Now look, I get it. I shared two books. The reality is that these are different sides of the same coin. Extreme Ownership is vitally important. Equally imperative is QBQ. How so, you ask. These authors will share a perspective on life and leadership that you are unlikely to have. QBQ is 115 pages. Extreme Ownership is 320 pages. If you have less than an hour to read, start with QBQ but add Extreme Ownership to the list.
  5. The Go-Giver by Burg & Mann
    • If I could, I would recommend the ENTIRE Go-Giver series, but that would be a third of my Ten-ish must reads in and of itself. The Go-Giver will help you understand how to add more value than you take in return and grow into a holistically healthy human. I have given more Go-Giver’s away than any other book.
  6. Good to Great by Collins
    • This was the first business book that I was given by my girlfriend. I read the book and realized that I needed to marry Sarah… and eventually I talked her into it! Collins brilliantly lays out what it takes to become great. And the truth is, it may not be what you thought. Although, this book uncovers just about every area of management, tactical planning, strategic thinking, and the list goes on.
  7. How People Change by Lane & Tripp
    • This book is really great at simplifying the personal change process. It not a business or self-help book. It is primarily a faith-based book that focuses first on one’s heart or attitude and then builds out the functional change process. To be clear, it is steeped in a faith-based approach to life and leadership.
  8. Mindset by Dweck
    • Mindset helps you learn how to develop a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset (which like me, you likely have!). In so doing, you will be able to be a more fully present and helpful person, partner, parent, professional, etc.
  9. Scaling Up by Harnish
    • This is a fun read! Well, fun providing you want to perpetually be learning, growing and becoming a more helpful leader, entrepreneur, manager, etc. Harnish and team help coach you on ordering your business priorities, focusing on what matters most and then scaling effectively.
  10. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Covey
    • This is a classic. I likely don’t need to explain much here. If you want to increase your influence across the spectrum of life, including personally and professionally, start here. Learn to become proficient in all the areas of life that matter most.

I realize that I did not list some really quality and influential books. I would genuinely like to hear your thoughts on which book(s) are missing and why. If nothing else, you can look forward to reading Shandel’s list of top books that is forthcoming!

Pulling for you,

Alan Andersen

*Listed alphabetically-ish

This article previously appeared at Shandel Group. If you enjoyed this post, read Shandel’s book, Clarity: Focusing on What Matters.

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Learning from Tesla | The Value of Clear Communication

We interrupt this broadcast with a special report… Okay, not really.

However, I just wrapped up a great meeting with a colleague in the Professional Training and Development world. As we discussed ways to engage and motivate people to growth, I was reminded of a sobering story about genius.

Namely that of Nikola Tesla. In this quick video (3 minutes, 20 seconds to be exact), I pass this genius’ story along as a way to fuel your thinking about the value of clear communication.

 

Pulling for you,

Alan Andersen

This article previously appeared at Shandel Group. If you enjoyed this post, read Shandel’s book, Clarity: Focusing on What Matters.

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Cross-Learning Clarity

Like you, I want to become better.

Better in my practice of faith, loving and providing for my family (wife and kids, which I wish someone would’ve told me are two different responsibilities!), partnership with Shandel Group, participation in local civic duties, member of the Seattle community, etc.

But why are we unable to quickly and significantly get better?

In a word, “clarity”.  It boils down to our lack of clarity in priority and motivation. Which then bleeds into a lack of uncertainty in how to accomplish our growth process. We simply don’t know why, where or how to start the growth process.

Thinking outside the box to jumpstart growth.

One of the most effective and “out of the box” ways I’ve learned to gain clarity (in various areas of life and leadership) is in practicing Interdisciplinary or Cross-Curricular Learning. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll call this Cross-Learning and I’ll share a recent example.

I just finished a book about weight loss and personal organization, two things I have a pretty good grasp on. I chose to work through “Lose the Clutter, Lose the Weight” because I wanted to jumpstart my brain into thinking about fresh ways for hitting my targets and attaining my goals by subtracting something in my life.

Alan, this is all fine and good. But I am more interested in how I can lead more effectively. And I certainly do not believe that I have extra space in my schedule to go research and find some sort of Cross-Learning subject to help me do that!

I get it, I’m here to help!

A starting point for practicing Cross-Learning.

You may know that Malcolm Gladwell (author of best sellers like The Tipping Point, Outliers, etc)  has started a new podcast called “Revisionist History”. It is a brilliant podcast that “will go back and reinterpret something from the past: an event, a person, an idea. Something overlooked. Something misunderstood.” The most recent episode is called The Satire Paradox.

In this episode, Gladwell and team uncover a brilliant but very sad reality about Western Satirical Comedy. And even more amazingly, whether podcast crew realize it or not, they uncover 2 important lessons that you can take note of. Primarily to gain clarity and learn to be a more effective leader!

So if you are ready to sharpen your leadership skills, click the image below and engage in the Cross-Learning. Listen for the two subtle takeaways (though there may be more than just two).

Consider the following as you practice Cross-learning.

  1. How the general public critically think or process particular topics
  2. In light of this, how can you lead by communicating more effectively

Gaining Clarity Through Cross-Learning.

The two Cross-Learned takeaways that I took from Revisionist History are…

  1. If there is a lack of clarity in communication around a specific directive or discussion topic, your hearers are more likely to comprehend your topic as they want to hear it. Not necessarily as you intend for it to be understood. I.E. They will conform your message to meet their agenda. (A big pitfall in leadership!)
  2. When there is room for interpretation in directive or discussion topic, your people use energy that is intended for execution or implementation of directive. Inevitably wasting energy on thinking and therefore lose effectiveness in taking action or completion of said directive.

Do you agree?

What were your takeaways from this Cross-Learning resource?

Pulling for you,

Alan Andersen

This article previously appeared at Shandel Group. If you enjoyed this post, read Shandel’s book, Clarity: Focusing on What Matters.

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How to Give Feedback that Actually Works!

This week, we are talking about constructive feedback. Here are some suggestions to help you get the conversation started with your team. Below, 13 entrepreneurs share some insight on how they communicate with their key people when they start sliding in their performance.

In your own experience, what has worked for you?

Your Coach,

sig_shandel

 

 

How to Give Your Employees Feedback That Actually Works: 13 Suggestions
BY YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR COUNCIL

Is a key staff member suddenly underperforming? Here’s how to tell them the truth.

Your team can make or break your company. So what do you do when a valued employee isn’t living up to expectations or performing to their full potential? Fourteen entrepreneurs fromYEC share the best ways to deliver constructive feedback or criticism.

1. Find out what it is about their job that isn’t living up to their expectations.
Make the conversation about what that employee wants for his/her future. What type of career do they want? What do they think are their strengths and weaknesses? If you can frame it in a way that prioritizes getting the most out of their potential, they will be much more receptive to your concerns about their current productivity.–Simon Casuto, eLearning Mind

2. Use the sandwich technique.
When you have to criticize someone for any reason, always say something nice to begin with, then provide a bit of constructive criticism before ending with something else positive. It works every time.–Bobby Emamian, Prolific Interactive

3. Use the “2 ears, 1 mouth” approach.
My granddad advised, “You’ve got 2 ears, 1 mouth. So listen double.” First, ask the employee to self-evaluate. Their answer tells you if they’re honest or delusional. Many times they’ll suggest a solution. They’ll commit to an internal solution far more than anything you’d suggest. When it’s my turn, I commend one thing they feel they’re doing well. Then I dig in with where they must improve. -Joshua Lee, StandOut Authority

4. Schedule reviews regularly so issues don’t build up.
We have a review cycle that takes place every 6 weeks. These reviews are a free back-and-forth exchange about how things are going, what’s working and what’s not. The frequency makes sure that strong relationships grow and no small issue has time to evolve into something larger.–Robert J. Moore, RJMetrics

5. Understand the roadblocks they’re facing first.
Your lowest performing employee may not actually be the weakest link within your firm. Before offering advice, listen carefully to what may be hindering true productivity. Help eliminate those roadblocks, then see if performance has changed. If so, then you avoid an awkward conversation which challenges a person’s worth. If not, then you may directly diagnose and address the problem.–Firas Kittaneh, Amerisleep

6. Get personal.
Talk to employees on a human level and refer to a time in your own career where you received similar feedback. We all make mistakes and have personal growth opportunities, and sharing your own experiences with the employee can soften the message and get the discussion focused on improvement.–John Tabis, The Bouqs Company

7. Begin with a positive.
The person has to be doing something right. Initiate the conversation with that, and follow with an “and” rather than a “but.” For example: “Alex, you’re doing a wonderful job managing the client database, and I’d like to see you take more initiative to solicit updates for it.” This approach will put the employee in the right frame of mind (i.e. nondefensive) to receive the feedback. -Alexandra Levit, Inspiration at Work

8. Split the ownership.
At RTC, we’re known for our interventions. When someone has a blind spot that is not serving them, our clients, or our company, we have a responsibility to make them aware and then challenge them to engage in coaching to overcome the issue. We split the ownership by saying, “This is going to be awesome for both you and the company.” And we offer to split the cost of the coaching. Works every time.–Corey Blake, Round Table Companies

9. Reiterate their importance to your business.
A common tactic most people use is leading in with one positive for every negative comment, which is always helpful. I think it’s a good idea to take it one step further and reinforce that they’re part of the team, and everyone is working toward the same goals. This can prevent them from feeling singled out.–Daniel Wesley, DebtConsolidation.com

10. Be clear from the get-go about expectations.
Be clear about what you expect from your employees from the beginning. A lot of disappointment can be avoided if everyone is on the same page. When you do need to deliver constructive feedback, be honest and straightforward about it, understand where they are coming from and create an action plan with them to improve it. No one benefits if you don’t respond promptly when you’re disappointed.–Basha Rubin, Priori Legal

11. Give specific details about the impact of their actions.
People always wants to know where they stand, whether good or bad, so they can focus more on what they’re doing right or wrong. But delivering the news is key. Try to word it in a way where the job they’re doing is letting their teammates down and putting more pressure on others. Give specific details so they clearly understand.–Michael Sinensky, Village Pourhouse

12. Make it about us, not them.
Most likely, if a good employee isn’t living up to expectations, you as a leader haven’t provided them a clear path to the goal. So take some responsibility and make it a “we” conversation with them. How can we work together to fix these problems? How can we make the end goal clear and work together to get there? They will be more receptive to change, plus you’ll learn something and become better too.–Kyle Clayton, Better Creative

13. Whatever you do, don’t sugarcoat it.
If an employee is not performing, it is your duty to clearly communicate your exact expectations and discern the nature of the issue. If you did your job and hired the right person it could be something else, personal or professional. But if you decide to let the person go, be sure to do so with respect and dignity. How you treat people who have been promoted out will have a direct impact on morale. –Joseph DiTomaso, AllTheRooms

This article previously appeared at Shandel Group. If you enjoyed this post, read Shandel’s book, Clarity: Focusing on What Matters.