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Posts by Eric Svaren

What Every Project Needs to Succeed

February 1, 2014 by Eric Svaren
Category: Leadership , HR Advisor

At a large public institution, a high-profile team is on the verge of implosion. Morale is abysmal. The team has broken into factions. Because this team deals with the most complicated, high stakes situations in the institution, the team's problems have pushed people's level of stress through the roof. Gossip is rampant. People are afraid of being attacked. Some team members won't talk to one...

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Why Retreats Don't Work and What to do About it

April 1, 2013 by Eric Svaren
Category: Management , HR Advisor

At a non-profit start-up, the entire staff meet to review their progress and address strategic and tactical challenges. Deep conversations emerge about the value the non-profit creates, people's personal commitment to the mission, and how to continue to grow sustainably, without burning out staff or burning up working capital. After two days, participants leave new clarity and understanding about...

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How Stories Keep Us in Conflict

August 1, 2012 by Eric Svaren
Category: Management , HR Advisor

One thing I've learned from working in conflict resolution and team building is: People work hard to stay in conflict. The players in any given situation expend extraordinary energy to prevent themselves from approaching someone, broaching a topic, truly listening and understanding—and, ultimately, from finding a resolution.

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Dangerous Decisions

March 1, 2012 by Eric Svaren
Category: HR Advisor

This Advisor column was originally published in February 2011.

“They need to learn that this not a democracy, but a benevolent dictatorship,” a senior manager recently said to me. He was commenting on his staff’s desire to be involved in setting performance expectations. They wanted clear expectations that everyone is held to, and they wanted to be involved...

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When Emotions Run High

March 1, 2012 by Eric Svaren
Category: HR Advisor

You've just announced another round of layoffs. A recent high-visibility project went very badly, leaving work relationships in tatters. Staff members are giving each other the cold shoulder. When you ask questions to understand what's going on, all you get are vague statements and veiled references.

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When Conflict Is Good (And When It's Not)

March 1, 2012 by Eric Svaren
Category: HR Advisor

This Advisor column was originally published in January 2010.

Nancy and Bonita are always at loggerheads in meetings. Casper and Dylan are always complaining (to you) about each other. Miguel and Keisha can hardly bear to be in the same room together.

If I asked you whether you have too much or too little conflict in your work life, what you’re likely to say&...

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Negotiate a Labor Contract and Repair Relationships at the Same Time

March 1, 2012 by Eric Svaren
Category: HR Advisor

This Advisor column was originally published in December 2011.

The last three years have been tough on local governments. Unemployment in Washington State is up. The real estate market has corrected. Construction is down. Sales tax revenue has plummeted. Health care costs keep going up and up. State and federal government cuts are hitting local government. No one expected re...

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