PR 264 | Manager Mistakes


Managers are at the frontline of a business. It’s crucial that you develop them to become exceptional leaders so they can make good decisions and avoid mistakes that could ruin the business. They also need to be resilient to change and be prepared to adapt. Join Adam Markel as he talks to an expert in developing new managers, retired Marine Janet Polach. Janet wrote The Seven Mistakes New Managers Make. Discover how she uses techniques she learned in the military to help shape up-and-coming managers. Learn some of the mistakes these brand-new managers make and how to fix them. Also, find out some of her rituals that help build resilience. Tune in and start training the next generation of leaders today!


Show Notes:

  • 0:02 – Janet’s introduction
  • 3:34 – Joining the marine corps as a woman
  • 11:20 – Adapting to change in the military
  • 16:47 – The phrase “In order to”
  • 19:57 – Resilience training
  • 22:30 – Lessons learned
  • 24:56 – Making decisions as a team
  • 30:48 – Teaching brand new managers
  • 35:23 – Brand new manager mistakes
  • 38:29 – Building resilience
  • 44:05 – Resilience rituals
  • 47:28 – Final words

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How do we leverage continuous uncertainty to thrive in this unprecedented new world? 
The answer is to build the resilience we need to power us through the challenges we face so that we become “Change Proof.” Prepare to tackle the future with confidence by reading Adam’s latest book Change Proof: Leveraging the Power of Uncertainty to Build Long-Term Resilience.

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Training Your Managers To Be Resilient To Change With Janet Polach

You are in for such a treat on the show. We’ve got Janet Polach. She is a global leader in leadership development. As a retired Marine Corps officer, she knows 1 thing or 2 about what it takes to be an effective leader. Realizing that managers are often too busy running their businesses to take the time to connect with employees and witnessing the wave of high staff turnover. She felt compelled to teach organizations to get clear about what effective leadership looks like and implement the right practices to increase purpose and profit. You’re going to love this episode.


PR 264 | Manager Mistakes


Janet, it’s always fun to hear ourselves get introduced. It’s weird as well.

It is weird. When you read those background pieces, I’m like, “Are they talking about me? It must be somebody else.” Thank you for including me. I appreciate it.

I don’t know if there’s anything more appropriate than to start any conversation with gratitude. It’s not so much about politeness. There’s an element of maybe we’ve been raised that way and was drummed into us. There’s nothing wrong with that. That’s cool. My nieces and nephews are incredibly polite kids and that’s great. There’s a difference between politeness, feeling gratitude and appreciation for whatever it might be like this conversation that you and I are about to have. I am grateful. With respect to that introduction, your bio and history, what’s one thing that’s not part of that introduction that you would love for people to know about you?

I love what I do. I feel like I’m very fortunate. My husband is retired. I’m not sure I ever will. I get to work with leaders and help them evolve. I get to work with brand new young managers. I talked to one of them and we went through his 360, this assessment from multiple perspectives. It wasn’t great. He’s struggling. I said to him, “You’ve been a manager for years but who taught you how to be a manager?” “No one.” “Have you gotten feedback about how you are as a manager?” “Not really.” He is struggling and I said, “The good news is we can develop those skills.”

I see it all the time. With my background in the Marine Corps, we take lane old people off the street and turn them into Marines. It takes several weeks. It doesn’t happen overnight but it’s marvelously effective. What we know about leadership development is we can take average-performing people who want the opportunity to work through other people, help other people thrive and we can help them be very effective at it.

I want to dive into your history a little more. Let’s call it out. It’s not an everyday occurrence that you run into a woman who has been in the Marine Corps, to begin with, but then was able to succeed at the levels that you were able to. That’s not quite typical and maybe I’m wrong about that but I want to get your perspective there. Before we do that, I want to go back to the thing you said about taking an average person. After several weeks, some training and all that good stuff, they can become a marine. Do you think that anybody could become a marine?

You have to want to become a marine. Thank goodness we haven’t done conscription in all many years because we saw in states how poorly that worked. First of all, you have to want to do it and fundamentally want to serve and defend the constitution of the United States. A lot of us don’t get a chance to do that. I think back to the times when I got to raise my hand and promise that I would support and defend. It is a mind-chilling experience to make that commitment. That’s fundamental.

PR 264 | Manager Mistakes

Manager Mistakes: To be a marine, you have to want to do it. You have to fundamentally want to serve and defend the constitution of the United States.


It’s not just a regular job interview to become a military member in the United States but you have to want to do it. When you want to do it, there’s a lot of opportunity. You get to learn a lot of things. Leadership is one of the key things that our American military teaches young people, whether they’re men or women. It’s a combination of hard work and commitment to doing what’s right and you can be successful.

I don’t know it from a Marine standpoint, only from the perspective of a lawyer. I was a practicing attorney for eighteen years. I’m retired now. I’m recovered fully. To raise your right hand on the Bible or however it’s done and say, “I am committing myself to defend our constitution,” is a big deal. People who go into that line of work or calling take it quite seriously as you would want to be the case because it’s quite difficult.

It’s life and death. We saw that in many years. I joined the Marine Corps because I couldn’t find a teaching job. I graduated from college in the middle of the school year and I was like, “What am I going to do?” At that time, peace was breaking out all over the world. It seemed like the risk was fairly low but I got lucky. We make our career the way we want to make it. There is some luck that’s involved as well. Everything changed for women in the twenty years that I was in the Marine Corps. We weren’t in combat roles or doing the real work of the Marine Corps, which if you think from a career perspective, that limits you. You can’t command an infantry unit if you can’t be in a combat unit.

What I believe happened is during the desert storm, the first one, we deployed the women with us, they did an outstanding job and then the glass ceiling was broken. Have we shattered it? No. In a lot of male-dominated professions, there are still women that aren’t at the very top of the organization. We have infantry commanders who are women and women flying tactical aircraft. It did change. With that, I got a chance to find out what leadership is all about. It’s not about the title or how many direct reports you have. It’s about how you work through other people in a male-dominated organization.

Be yourself. At least, that’s what I found. When people meet me, they’re like, “Janet, you don’t look like a marine.” I say, “Thank you very much.” I talk about my kids like most professionals do. I am comfortable wearing makeup and making sure my hair looks great. All of that is your professional persona. It’s one of those secret powers I have that, “I also understand how our government and military work.”

As a woman working in a male-dominated organization, you just have to be yourself. Share on X

There are a lot of ways that you can language things like that. It’s fun for me to do that as an author, speaker or somebody that is playing with ideas quite a bit. It feels like relatability. It feels like, among other things, you have a capacity if there was a superpower or one of them that you have. It’s this ability to disarm people by being a regular person who also happens to be perhaps at a higher rank than they are. That’s not easy to do in a hierarchical structure like the military.

It was always easier to do that in the Marine Corps than it was on the civilian side. I spent many years in the reserves. I would work for my civilian organization all during the week and then on weekends, I’d go be a marine. In the Marine Corps, we have rank and you wear it on your sleeves or at least on your collars. You can tell, “Am I talking to somebody more senior or more junior than me?” Immediately there is a sense of who knows what and about whom and then you get on the civilian side. It’s much more about requesting people to do things, creating a case for action and describing why need something needs to be done.

It may be slower but in the end, you may have more buy-in when you encourage and engage than when you directly tell. That’s probably one of the biggest changes that someone coming off active duty struggles with when they go on to the civilian side. It is how you get things done through other people without plain giving them a direct order.

PR 264 | Manager Mistakes

Manager Mistakes: One of the biggest changes that someone coming off active duty struggles with is getting things done through other people without giving them a direct order.


Without it being orders driven. I’ve interviewed several former military folks on the show, Navy SEALs, Green Berets and others. I’ve heard that that’s part of the transition challenge or even struggle sometimes. Those systems are very different. I want to talk about resilience. It is a topic that we talk about quite a bit on this show. This show is about being change-proof. Ultimately, being able to navigate any form of change without it becoming a stressful event. It changes the nature of the universe.

Every time things are changing, we’re stressed because there’s uncertainty. It sets us to be anxious, more anxious, neurotic, more neurotic, depressed and more depressed because change is happening all the time. How many years were you in the service?

I did twenty years in active and the reserves.

In twenty years of experience in that arena and the civilian arena, how do you think change is handled differently?

The military has learned a lot from the civilian side about how to do change. Change needs to be planned whether the organization is foisting a change upon you like we’re going to do a new procedure or I’m a department leader and I’ve decided that Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, we’re all going to be in the office and everybody’s going to do that because it makes good sense. It has to be planned. It has to be thinking about what is the impact people on this change. What are they going to like about it? What are they not going to like about it? Just because people don’t like change doesn’t mean you don’t do it. It means that you have to think more carefully about how you engage people.

Change needs to be planned. You have to think about the impact a change will make on your people. Share on X

How do you give them some runway to accept the change and understand what’s in it for them? People have a sense that marines say, “Here’s what we’re going to do,” and we’re going to go do that but by the same token, any major change in the military has a long time in coming. Even things as simple as we were going to change uniforms. It’s a different cut or a new piece of gear gets influenced. We will often hear about that a year in advance. There are people with the change of command that are thinking about some change that’s coming forward and communication starts. The key to managing change is thinking about it, describing the impact and sharing and communicating with it well before the due date is going to happen.

There’s an element of it’s not a surprise that you’re giving people an opportunity to get used to the idea.

You and I were talking for a few minutes before we get started about COVID. The thing that made COVID difficult is it did come out of nowhere. We had known a global pandemic may hit us but all people were like, “It’ll happen someplace else. It won’t impact me,” then suddenly we were in the midst of this. It was such a dramatic change. We didn’t have a choice because it was contagious and deadly. We were following rules but we didn’t know how to follow the rules. What were the rules?

I had a client organization that had been a fully onsite company. They were a financial services firm located in St. Paul and their history was to work on site. In four days they sent everybody home. One of the reasons they were able to do that is because they had an outstanding IT organization that had been planning for, “What happens when we deploy our workforce? What is going to be the rules? Pick up your whole computer, monitor and all of that and carry it out in your car.” We figured things out quickly but none of us liked it. It was difficult and we didn’t plan for it. It made it even worse.

In looking at unexpected or black swan events in the financial industry, I push back and say that anything that’s ever happened was predictable. It might have been highly unlikely. They used the Coast Guard as an example of this because, throughout the ‘90s, they were doing future casting or what might be called strategic foresight planning to many eventualities or perspective future outcomes that were highly unlikely. They had planned in many ways for what occurred on 9/11 and they were one of the better-prepared groups on that day to deal with something truly devastating, tragic, unexpected and yet predictable.

When we think about a pandemic, we think about how we did get sideswipes or blindsided by that thing. I don’t know of too many organizations or people that had planned specifically for that but we do see that some were agile enough at the moment to make moves to pivot years ago with that title. Is that also embedded in the military, this idea, whether it was Churchill where somebody says, “You go into battle and the bullets start flying. Whatever plan you had, all that great planning took a year to create this plan. As soon as the first bullet started flying, maybe you’re keeping the plan and you’re pivoting at that moment?” Is that your experience as well?

Yes. It was Eisenhower who said, “If planning is everything, the plan is nothing.” You can think through the inevitabilities that may or may not happen. What the Marine Corps does with particularly their young troops is when they issue an order, there’s a piece in there which I refer to in order to. I talk about this in my book of, “In order to what?” Take the hill but secure the city. If you can’t take the hill because it’s too prepared and the enemy is too entrenched, can you go around the hill? Can you communicate to other units that could maybe go into the city from the side rather than from the front on? Knowing that bigger perspective in order to do what is critical to help you plan for contingencies, which are going to happen.

PR 264 | Manager Mistakes

Manager Mistakes: Ask yourself, “In order to do blank, you have to do what?” That is critical in planning for contingencies that may happen.


In American business, we don’t spend that time on, “What might go wrong? If things don’t go as we planned, what are we going to do?” I was working with a very large manufacturer and we did create a recession playbook. The recession looked like it still is probably on the horizon. We defined what were the variables that would say we’re in a recession and then what are the steps or actions that we’re going to take. It’s a process that this organization has never done before. Whether they have to execute it or not, they collectively said, “These are all the things that we have to think about.” They had a different, narrow and deep recession like, “Are ever going to get out of this recession?” It helped them think about what are all the levers that they have available to them that they can pull.

It’s funny with language. We call it something different. In our organization, we call that resilience planning and training. The thing about resilience is you have to develop it before you need it. That’s at least what we found to be the case. I’d love to get a sense of how in that environment in the military where it’s over under around or through and then fill in the blank. How much is the preparation for any eventuality? Are you planning for certain ways of being, mindset or capacity to engage in any variable that might change on the spot? Is that a big part of the training?

Yes. The average military member probably spends 200 or 250 days a year training. No organization on the planet does that except the US military. Why do they do that? It’s because it’s life and death. In that training, you’re constantly running drills, scenarios and what-ifs. Some of them are done on a tabletop. Some of them are done out in the field but you’re constantly dealing with unplanned circumstances. What our military also does is take real-time situations that we learned in Afghanistan and Iraq and say, “We hadn’t planned for IUDs,” for example.

“We hadn’t planned for suicide bombers.” How do you add that into the curriculum and training so that we have updated all of the contingency kinds of things? The core of resilience is you’re teaching people how to think about the situation when chaos is happening. If I look back at all the things I practiced and the training that I had, this situation isn’t exactly like what I practiced but it’s pretty close. It wasn’t just me who practiced but it was all these other individuals that I’m working with that practiced as well and then we know what to do.

The core of resilience is teaching people how to think about the situation when chaos is happening. Share on X

We can trust one another because we’ve witnessed that everybody’s put in virtually the same amount of time and effort playing from the same sheet.

It’s not just the military that does that.

We’ve established what could be a best practice. What I want to get a sense of because with all the years you had in that space, you also shave spent many years in the organizational development space. The best companies out there are not going to spend that kind of time and effort. They’re not going to put 250 days of the year into training in planned circumstances. They’re not going to do that at Apple, Tesla or any place. What’s the next best thing that you’ve seen and also what recommendations do you have?

First of all, I do think some of our civilian organizations do it. Firefighters and police officers in some healthcare situations will run large-scale event drills and so forth. That’s one example. The next best is to do lessons learned. Stop and take 2 or 3 hours to say, “If we had known more information, what would we have done differently?” Somehow archive that information so that it’s available to others. What we don’t do in organizations is we have a brand new project starting up and a team of twenty people who never worked together.

“Let’s brush off the lessons learned documents.” It is something that the military does. After every major exercise, we do lessons learned from experience. Those documents are readily available. A great practice is to make sure when a new team starts that we say, “What did the last team say about implementing software, building a new building or dramatically expanding our customer base?” We get so oriented on what’s the next thing rather than looking back on what we can learn.

PR 264 | Manager Mistakes

Manager Mistakes: When a new team starts, ensure they know what the last team did. People get so oriented on the next thing rather than looking back on what they can learn.


We call it a feedback loop. “What worked for me? What didn’t work for me? What could be done differently?” When you are constantly providing feedback and sometimes it’s called 360 feedback or whatever it might be, people get used to this idea that we’re constantly debriefing things, which is more of a military co-opting from that space.

In the business world and I’m not butting, what I’m seeing and I’ve seen it working in our company is that the landscape is changing. Things are so disruptive. There’s not always a playbook to go back and go, “In that scenario that happened years ago where we skied our knees and spilled our milk, what did we learn? There’s an element of that but there’s also an element of brand new territory.” Any thoughts there when you are advising organizations? What do you say about that?

Every situation is new. This pace of change that we’ve got ourselves wrapped up in into, “I’m not sure if that’s different than it was years ago.” Calling a brand new project team together and spending time to get to know each other and understand what the project timeline is like, “What are the deliverables?” Often organizations are excited to get started. They’ve finally gotten the investment and then launch, “Here’s the two-hour orientation meeting.” You still don’t know each other and who’s doing what.

Take time to create a team that’s going to work together regardless of what those people did in the past where all had experiences and they can say, “Here’s one thing we did. Rather than doing a standup meeting on Monday, we did it on Wednesday because and here’s why it worked so well. We used this software to communicate with and that worked well.” Maybe that software is no longer viable but the point was the communication portal was very valuable. Taking time to say, “How are we going to work together,” allows everybody to bring their best ideas forward and then tune them to the situation that’s at hand.

You’re saying that some basic elements are almost change-proof. Is that true?

It is. Part of that is forming the team. Who is our team that we’re working together? The Marine Corps trains with a deployable team for 6, 9 to 12 months before they get on a ship or deploy to a foreign country. That’s partly so that they can practice some of these contingencies but it’s also so that they can get to know each other. It is like, “Is Joe a good shot or not? Can I depend on him? Is he cautious or aggressive?

In business situations, we can use that same sense about, “Whom am I working with? Whom can I count on? What expertise do they have? Let’s go forward.” The change proof is not to do that just once. You do a two-hour offsite with this great big project team and then say, “We’re ready to go.” No, come back six weeks later and say, “We decided on these guidelines. How are they working? Are we following any of them? Why not? What’s changed?” What we’ve learned about change is that we have to talk about not just what the change is but how are we going to get there. That’s the thing organizations short-change themselves on.

Don't just talk about what the change is, but talk about how you will get there. Share on X

I love this corollary between military structure and civilian structure. In the military, I’m pretty certain I’ve not served that upper command when they make a decision don’t necessarily consult with or hear out the younger enlisted folks or whomever it might be. In civilian organizations, there are some thoughts that more conversation or consensus is required. Any thoughts on those two?

In the military, as much as we love to think it’s command and control, the big decision is a collaborative process. The commanding officer will have their staff officers that they talk about, “What do we know on intel? How ready are the troops? What equipment do we have?” There’s almost always a senior enlisted person who represents the thinking of the enlisted troops. They’re the ones who say, “People are tired because we’ve been training for the last fifteen days nonstop. We have a lot of marines that are leaving the unit because their contracts are up.”

I do think that decisions on the military side are much more collaborative than we think they are. When I say this on the civilian side to a senior leader, a vice president or even a CEO, she will say, “What do you mean? They pay me to make decisions. I’ve got it. I’ve got a lot of experience. Why wouldn’t you ask everybody? Why wouldn’t you get perspectives?” Asking everyone doesn’t mean you’re going to change your decision. It means you’re going to make a better decision because everybody has weighed in and you’ve gotten multiple perspectives on how you can make it work.

You mentioned young leaders. This is not a well-formed question. It’s a broad area and I don’t exactly even know where to dive into that. I would love it if you share some thoughts on young leaders, the ones that you’ve experienced, whether you see them doing things quite a bit better than maybe some of their senior folks or whether you think there’s still a bit of a learning curve. If so, what that looks like? I’d love to get your thoughts there.

Here are a couple of things for us to ponder. The average manager in the United States is promoted to manager somewhere around 29, 30 or 31 years old. They don’t get any kind of leadership development until their mid-40s. Second, we often promote our spectacular individual contributors. They get things done. They’re communitive. They make our project plans and we say, “You must be a great leader.” We don’t give them any training or coaching. We just say, “Here’s what you will do.” If you did Venn Diagram and said, “Here are the skills of an exceptional manager and leadership,” you’d only have about 20% overlap. Finally, the conference board has told us that when they ask brand new managers, 60% of them said that they had failed in their first 2 years.

PR 264 | Manager Mistakes

Manager Mistakes: In a Venn diagram of an exceptional manager’s skills and an exceptional leader’s skills, you’d only have about 20% overlap. You have to teach your brand new leaders because they’re your frontline.


New managers can be very effective except we’ve never taught them how. We spend a lot of our leadership development dollars on the top half of the organization. For a lot of reasons, that makes sense. Those frontline leaders are the ones who are interacting with our customers, making immediate decisions about whether the equipment is up or down and driving retention in the organization. Even some simple basics about how to give feedback, have a good one on ones and engage them in meetings. The work is what’s critical. Brand new managers don’t think about that stuff.

Is there anything that you draw from your experience in the military that’s a good example of training young people differently?

I grew up in both. The military does it well because they send people through boot camp, SAF NCO school or officer school. There’s a lot of talk about how to be a good leader.

That’s a life and death context. It’s different in the sense that you would never think of putting a 31-year-old leader with a bunch of stars on their shoulder and saying, “Here you go.”

It’s also the case because we draw our service members from many different walks of life across the United States. Any country has the same thing. How do you bring all those different perspectives? The wealthy, the poor, various upbringing and different racial groups, how do we bring them together and get them to do all the same things? You do it fundamentally through training.

It’s the reason that I wrote my book, The Seven Mistakes New Managers Make, is because we don’t deliberately talk to our managers about, “Here’s what good managers do.” I was doing a workshop and said to the group, “Let’s talk about one on ones. What do you do during your one on ones?” There’s one young woman, probably 28 or 29, who said, “I don’t hold them. I don’t know what I’d talk about. I don’t want to look foolish.”

PR 264 | Manager Mistakes

The Seven Mistakes New Managers Make

The second thing I get about one on ones is I talk to my people all the time. We interact almost every day. We talk about what they’re working on, what’s getting in the way and if they are going to get done on time. I said, “When was the last time you talked about them? How are they feeling? What have they accomplished? What are they learning how to do differently?” That’s the essence of a great one-on-one. It doesn’t take that long. It’s a 30-minute meeting.

In the meantime, can you give us a sense of what some of those other mistakes are? I want people to go out and get this book for sure. You don’t have to give them everything but for the value of this show, which has been hugely valuable already, I’d love to get a sense of what some of those other mistakes are.

Failure to give and receive feedback, not creating an environment where everybody gives feedback to everybody. We talked about giving recognition and gratitude. One of the things that I always encourage teams to do is start with recognition of, “Who did something well the last couple of weeks?” Make sure that everybody shares the responsibility. We have a chapter in there about change and how to manage change very deliberately. The first mistake is important, which is doing instead of leading. We take that great individual contributor and say, “You’re a leader.” It’s hard to let go of what you do well. Fundamentally, being a manager is working through other people. It is talking about what you have to let go of to be a good manager.

What’s one thing that you do have to let go of to be a good manager?

You have to let go of delivering the results all by yourself. You provide guidance and feedback but let other people do things. In doing so, they will do it a different way than you or I would do. You have to let go of, “Here are the steps you do. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.” No. “Here’s the task. Here’s when it’s due. Let me know when you get stuck or should we meet every couple of weeks and see how you’re progressing? I can give you some coaching and guidance but I’m not going to tell you how to do it.” That takes us so much longer.

There’s a bit of ego in there. Our human development or personal development is never outside of our business development. We can’t compartmentalize those things. For whatever the reasons are, when our egos are in the way of some of that letting go, we have to call that out as well.

Hopefully, we have created an environment where people will give us that feedback. If we don’t, we need to ask others and generally ask. As a leader that’s new to this, say, “What am I doing well? What would you like to see that you do more of? Is there anything I need to stop doing? What’s getting in the way of you being effective?”

You are a mom, author, organizational development expert, consultant and speaker and had a history of a successful career. What was your highest rank when you retired?

Lieutenant Colonel.

I don’t think many women in the marines get to that. I want to understand how you’ve been resilient because I look at you and I think, “This is a remarkable human being.”

Thank you so much. One funny quick story when I would wear my uniform into the commissary or the exchange, people would watch me because there were few of us. They were like, “She’s buying toothpaste. Her family eats Lotus.” You could feel people looking at you. It was an odd thing.

I want to know how you’ve been resilient and understand that varied life that you’ve had.

You have to keep being yourself. I am Janet. I’m a mother. I lead with my motherhood there at my soul. I work hard to have fun at what I do and enjoy myself. When people ask me about what it’s like to be coached, I say, “We have fun.” We try not to take ourselves too seriously. We move on. Like everybody, I had some dark patches over the years. I launched a business several years ago and did my whole business plan. I thought I was all set. We launched it and the recession happened in 2008. It was a train wreck. Yet my family and I moved forward and we recovered from it. You reflect on what you learned and then move on.

The key to being resilient is to reflect on what you learned and then move on. Share on X

I want to understand your rituals for resilience. I’m a resilience keynote speaker but I also speak on mental health, work-life balance and stress management in that same context. I know you speak as well. Let me ask you this before we get to rituals. When you are out there speaking or building your business through your speaking, what’s your favorite to speak on?

How do we become better people leaders? How do we do these basic things like giving feedback and one on ones? It was the very first time I gave a talk about the book, The Seven Mistakes New Managers Make and I had a bunch of directors in the room. They all scratched their head and said, “I make these mistakes every single day. This isn’t new manager stuff. This is every manager stuff.” That’s not a very kitschy title, the mistakes that you always make every single day.

People need to be reminded that our workforce needs to be cared for. It doesn’t mean baking cookies every day. It means asking people how they are doing and then finding out what they feel good about in the work that they’re doing. What do they love doing? Help them find more of that. It’s caring for the time that they give us as employees in the workforce. They give us a lot of their time. Hopefully, we pay them equitably but its work is way more than that. It’s about, “Am I contributing? Does my work matter? The time that I leave my kids at home, hopefully not unattended but the time I’m away from them that I’m creating something important.” The manager’s job is to help them uncover that and name it.

Acknowledge it. Where we started our conversation was with this idea of what real appreciation looks like and feels like. It’s not just words or a thing that we value. It’s in our mission statement and these everyday acts. When I’m speaking about resilience, in particular, I’m talking about, “How do we recover? What is the method” That is what resilience is in our world with the research we’ve done. It’s about recovery more than it is about endurance. When we have strong rituals for our recovery, we are able to magically, miraculously, whatever you want to say, handle almost anything.

When your business had the challenge that it had, you were prepared for that even though you weren’t predicting that eventuality and it wasn’t one you were wanting to have to happen. When it happened unexpectedly, you were prepared for it because you had been developing your resilience long before you would’ve needed it in that incident. That’s what our research tells us about resilient individuals, leaders and organizations. I want to understand a little bit about the rituals that you maintain that create recovery zones for yourself, mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually, any of those. Let’s pick one. It could be your favorite or the most impactful.

My most impactful is working out in the morning. I work out most mornings. When I do leadership workshops, we usually stay at a nice hotel. It gets me started. It allows me to eat a healthier breakfast than all those pastries and everything you end up having. There’s a downside to that because workshops started at 8:00 or 8:30 in the morning. That means you have to get up at 5:30 or 6:00 but it’s different. We’ve taken 20 people offline for 1 day or 2. They deserve the best. That’s the way that I have found it.

I was co-facilitating with a gentleman one day and he said, “I never eat dessert when I’m facilitating. You get these buffets and they keep bringing in snacks and all that. Anything with sugar, I stay away from. It gets me through the day. I use my time then as a reward to have a dessert.” I thought that was brilliant. We all have our strategies for how we manage that. I don’t run marathons. I used to but I don’t anymore. I’m not working out two hours a day. I’m working out for 25, 35 or 45 minutes. That gives me enough to keep me fit and keep the energy where it needs to be.

Before we got together for our discussion, I did yoga on our deck with my wife. We did it for 25 or 30 minutes because we didn’t have a whole bunch of time but it was perfect class, length and blood flow. The way my energy or thinking was before and after was dramatically different. One of my rituals as well is to use that space in the morning. We have so many choices. It’s fundamentally the thing that is within our control because a lot of people do feel like they don’t have enough of their time or freedom.

I call BS on that because there’s no question that we do. It’s just a question of what we do with it. That’s a conversation perhaps for another time. I have loved speaking with you. Thank you for taking the time to get with us. I want to give you the last word here. I certainly hope everybody goes out and buys The Seven Mistakes That New Managers Make. I’m going to go get a copy. Any final words from you?

If you are a leader, develop your team. If you have managers reporting to you, take some time, find a couple of articles, read the book, study it as a group and engage in leadership development. I don’t think we have to have bad managers out there. This is a correctable thing.

If you are a leader, develop your team. Educate yourself and engage in leadership development. Bad managers don't have to exist out there. It's a correctable thing. Share on X

In a world where we have The Great Resignation and I’m hearing terms like quietly quitting, we have to do a bit of check-in, as we are, as many leaders and organizations are having awareness around this and doing something about it, which is very positive. I’m glad that you and I are playing in that same sandbox. It’s wonderful.

Folks, if you love this show and I can’t imagine that you haven’t read this episode with Janet, please share the episode with a friend. You can subscribe to our channel. We love it when you do that. If you want to leave a review, please make it a five-star review. That’s wonderful but feedback is vital to us. Leave a comment for me and our team. We will respond to that. Most importantly, we will take that feedback to heart. Thank you for that. I will look forward to the next opportunity for us to all get together. Thanks, Janet.

Thank you so much.

I couldn’t have loved that conversation anymore. Janet is amazing. In so many ways, she is inspiring and insightful. She brings this tremendous wisdom born out of more than twenty years in military service starting in the Marine Corps. As an enlisted person, she rises to the level of Lieutenant Colonel, something very rare and we don’t see very often.

All the while, she maintains her true self as a method and a process for leading in an environment that as we know in many ways is life or death. The context in that environment doesn’t leave a great margin for error. She had an illustrious career in the Marine Corps and is leading in many ways organizations to develop their practices to model the things that worked quite well in that other environment that as we know is formidable.

Our conversation was in awe of how varied it was. The directions that it took blew me away. I’ve got my pages of notes. Some of the things that I want to recall as I’m sharing with you a little bit about what I took from it was how it is those frontline leaders, the people that are on the front lines in most organizations, get such little training. They’re not being thought of as the place where you invest dollars and resources to see them trained. Many managers don’t receive any formal leadership training until they’re in their early 40s. They may make managers at age 31 but we don’t see a lot of allocation of training dollars going toward their early training.

That’s a mistake and something that Janet had pointed out to us. She’s somebody who worked in the military space where 250 days a year were devoted to training for unplanned circumstances. That’s one of those things given what’s happened with the pandemic and every other disruption that we’ve experienced. Still, with the ramp and uncertainty, we’ve got to be looking at training for unplanned circumstances more than we were before.

Part of that is to develop a feedback loop that we are using continually. Meaning that we’re constantly evaluating and have a process for evaluation that people benefit from, look forward to and don’t feel threatened by. That’s one of my great takeaways from our conversation. We talked about how you create a recessionproof playbook. We are going to be speaking about a resilience playbook.

For the future that we know is ahead of us that is so unknown and uncertain, that’s something that Janet gave us great insight too. That was meaningful to me and is going to be meaningful to you as well. Talking about her leadership style and what it meant for her to be herself, which included being a wife and a mom as she was leading troops and others and rising to the level of officer in an environment that typically doesn’t reward women in those circumstances as readily as it does men, which we know inequitable. Yet when you read this episode with Janet, she has tremendous wisdom about how it was that she was able to navigate that. I also thought it was wonderful when she shared the concept of, “In order to do.” What does that mean?

Check out what she said about that. This concept of over, under, around or through in order to do is something that all of us can bring forward in our personal lives and certainly in our leadership roles within organizations. It’s one of these things that for me going to pay more dividends. I’m going to re-read this episode and go back to it. I’m going to think about how it is that I can utilize some of the wisdom that we read or that I was lucky to be part of in conversation about young leadership.

Where it is that we can truly inspire young leaders? As more seasoned leaders, if that’s your case, or maybe you’re not in a seasoned leadership role but the vital importance of looking at younger leaders as an opportunity to bring a new perspective and insight, how can we utilize that young leader in a more interesting and impactful way than perhaps we’ve been doing?

Janet was kind enough to answer a lot of very pointed questions. I feel like I was able to push back in certain places or ask for clarity with respect to how it is that we can look at her work in the military and the Marine Corps in particular and create a bridge to the work that she does in organizational development, the work that I do in that space as well and how there’s a corollary. There are opportunities for us to see the dots between those two very different arenas and connect those dots so that we can benefit greatly from what she learned in that very important role.

I enjoyed this conversation and learned a great deal from it. I know that you will as well. It’s something that you’re going to want to share with leaders of all kinds in various seasons of their development. This is going to be one of those episodes that you re-read and share with others. As always, we’d love to get your feedback on it. If you’ve not yet subscribed to our show, please go ahead and do that. Share it with a friend. Leave a review. We all love those things. We appreciate you being a part of our community as well. Enjoy this episode as I certainly have.


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About Janet Polach

PR 264 | Manager MistakesJanet Polach is a global leader in leadership development and is an executive coach.
As a retired Marine Corps officers, she knows a thing or two about what it takes to be an effective leader. Realizing that managers are often too busy running their business to take time to connect with their employees, and witnessing the wave of high staff turnover she felt compelled to teach organizations how to get clear about what effective leadership really looks like and implement the right practices to increase purpose and profit.