Planners’ Picks — March 14, 2023

Planners’ Picks

A collection of resources from CSN planning committee members worth mentioning

We’ve moved the clocks forward an hour, and it’s time to take control of our ability to look at regrets as a catalyst for change. We’ll also choose curiosity over judgement, and unlock the power of optimism this week in PP.


:: Image of the Week

Graphic of a cell phone with a call coming in from "uncomfortable conversation."

How difficult conversations can strengthen our relationships

Roberto Ferraro tells us that having uncomfortable conversations is necessary for growth and can ultimately lead to stronger relationships and better outcomes. While it may be tempting to avoid them, addressing them head-on is essential. Avoiding them can lead to resentment, misunderstandings, and a communication breakdown.

Conversely, approaching difficult conversations with honesty and a desire to keep the relationship with the other person can create an environment where open and honest communication is valued and strengthen our bonds.

Illustration by Roberto Ferraro


:: Resources on Work Culture & Team Development

Welcome Back: Workplace Habits Make a Comeback

Across the globe, people are sharpening their networking skills. Those who have returned to the office are focusing on corporate culture. And everyone faces renewed pressure to produce results. In the latest Korn Ferry Briefings magazine cover story, “Welcome Back,” they explain how key work habits of the pre-pandemic era are now returning—but with a new twist.

The Difference Between Critiquing and Criticizing

Leadership Coach Brian Burman says that there is a HUGE difference between critiquing and criticizing:

A CRITIQUE focuses on the task.
>> CRITICISM is aimed at the person.

A CRITIQUE focuses on what can be better.
>> CRITICISM is aimed at bringing someone down.

A CRITIQUE focuses on building connection and trust.
>> CRITICISM breaks connection and destroys trust.

Great leaders create a culture where both people and the product are made better. Great leaders understand you can be kind and care for your people, even when evaluating and critiquing performance. What other differences are there between CRITIQUE and CRITICISM? What can a great leader do to create the right culture for valuable evaluation?

“Reinvention involves growing up. Growing above and beyond the hurts and memories of the past.” ~ Steve Chandler

3 Ways to Empower Middle Managers

One of the most meaningful ways to help middle managers thrive is peer-to-peer or lateral mentoring. Forging valuable relationships between peers allows managers to share real-time challenges with colleagues in a safe space to give each other advice and feedback.

Many may think of traditional mentoring as getting input from only senior-level professionals. However, to celebrate the power of relationships, consider peer mentoring as a powerful and effective insightful support system, as well.

Peer mentoring is honest, candid coaching on what can be done better to improve systems, processes, and people management. Here are three simple ways to implement peer mentoring as managers strive to successfully lead your company through change.


:: Resources on Mental Health and Self-Care

Do You Take It for Granted?

Are you grateful for the life that you have? Or do you take things for granted? Maybe you haven’t thought about it for a while. Did you ever fail to appreciate someone you care about? Was that because you were too busy putting out fires or focusing on other things? Or perhaps you assumed they’d just hang around forever.

The problem is, when you take people or things for granted, you put them in jeopardy. It’s not enough to make up for neglect after they’ve slipped away. It’s important to be grateful every day for the wonderful things in your life. Think of this as a wake-up call.

“We see the world not as it is, but as we are.” – Talmud

It’s Not Too Late – Use Regrets to Shape Your Future

Have you ever had a wakeup call where you just suddenly realize you have missed what really mattered? Most of us have learned that we are supposed to live with no regrets, but this, I think, is wrong. What we know now is that regrets can produce the precise data we need to construct a meaningful, rich and essential life. Today, I will share a powerful story, something counterintuitive I’ve been learning and some actionable advice. By the end of this episode, you will be able to use regret to design your most essential life. Join Greg McKeown for a short discussion on Regret.

Unlock the Power of Optimism: How a Positive Outlook Can Improve Your Health and Happiness

What If I Told You Optimism Was More Important Than Just Feeling Better?

It can actually have a positive impact on your physical health as well. Research has shown that optimism can help reduce stress levels, lower blood pressure, and improve overall physical health. With the amount of burnout and depression in society right now, we cannot ignore this. Read more from Freeman Beals on reducing stress through optimism.


:: Resources on Self-Leadership Development

How To Elevate Your Life And Learning

There are about 10,000 jokes about trekking around the world and finally reaching the top of a mountain, where you ask, “What is the meaning of life?”

Bruce Kasanoff tries to answer that question for you in this newsletter edition of Seek Awe. For him, it comes down to three things. Three things that can elevate your life, career and company.

What to Do When Your Boss Won’t Advocate for You

A boss who doesn’t advocate for you can stunt your growth and block your career opportunities. And you might not even know that you have an unsupportive boss. Most advocacy happens behind the scenes. When you found out you have one, the knee-jerk reaction is to self-promote. But that can backfire in the workplace. You need to start by understanding why your boss isn’t advocating for you. Proactively solicit the gift of your boss’s feedback. Consider getting a coach. You just might not have earned your boss’s advocacy yet. Assuming your performance is strong, here are three steps you can take. First, release your boss from your unmet expectations. You can’t shame someone into being your advocate. Second, find another advocate. The ideal sponsor is a powerful, high-ranking ally within your organization. Third, build your network inside and outside of the organization. We all need champions.

How to Manage Former Peers

I could have used this advice in 2012 when I transitioned from a production worker to a supervisor of production at UW-Madison. For others on campus who have been in a technical or administrative role and then promoted to lead those around you, this episode will resonate with you.

What is the takeaway that speaks to you the most? For me, I had to prove my value to the team, so I would say that the “bell curve” was terribly misshapen at the beginning.  –  Rich Gassen


:: Resources on Communication

Choose Curiosity Over Judgment

This is from the weekly Better Allies Newsletter on Curiosity:

In “What to Know When Five Generations Share an Office,” journalist S. Mitra Kalita explores some best practices for managing a multigenerational workplace. For example, “Beware of using a ‘generation’ as a catch-all for blame versus considering the entirety of a person’s life experience. For example, a Gen X manager might want to pause and really deliberate before they greenlight a new strategy, not because they are slow and resistant to change, but because they laid off 50 employees in their last startup and don’t want to go through that again.”

Kalita also emphasizes the importance of promoting a culture of respect and inclusivity to ensure employees feel valued and supported. Specifically, she recommends choosing curiosity over judgment:

Dig deeper to understand what motivates colleagues of different generations. A simple phrase like “Help me understand why you see it that way” goes much further than “I don’t understand why you see it that way.” One is a request, while the other is a judgment. What a great approach to use to be more inclusive, not just of people of all ages, but all identities, too.


What do you do to be more curious in your environment? Biases and assumptions go against the grain of inclusivity because you pre-determine an answer to questions before others have the chance to give valid responses to their situation.

Be more curious. Ask the questions.

The whole newsletter:

“It’s actually one of the greatest joys in life, when you can see something in someone, what they are uniquely capable of contributing.” – Kelly McGonigal

Active Listening: How to Bring Mindful Awareness to Every Conversation

When we practice giving others our full attention, we strengthen bonds and make new discoveries. Here are three practices for staying grounded, present, and connected in conversation.


:: Upcoming Events

International Day Of Happiness is March 20!

March 20th is the UN International Day of Happiness. We can create a happier and kinder world together by adopting a simple, daily practice. See this article from our friends at Action for Happiness on ways you can tune into your feelings and express your happiness more (and hopefully not for just one day!)

The Art of Active Listening to Build Trust & Inspire Greatness

Tuesday March 28, 2023
11:00 am – 12:00 pm on Zoom

This is the third and final webinar for Heather Younger’s upcoming book #TheArtofActiveListening, and she’s hosting it with Mr. Covey himself!

Inspiring and uplifting others allows leaders to create new levels of trust within their organizations. If you are looking for ways to build trust as a leader, please join us for this webinar with Heather R Younger and Stephen M. R. Covey. Heather is the Founder and CEO of Employee Fanatix, a bestselling author, and keynote speaker. Stephen is a bestselling author, keynote speaker, and Speed of Trust Global Practice Leader.

During this webinar, Heather and Stephen will share powerful tools to inspire lasting, positive change within your organization based on Heather’s new book, The Art of Active Listening: How People at Work Feel Heard, Valued, and Understood. You’ll learn:

> How to create deeper levels of trust with those you lead and inspire them to greatness.
> The biggest stumbling blocks to listening well at work.
> The role active listening plays in building trust with those you lead, and more.

No matter where you are in your leadership journey, it is never too late to inspire. It all starts with active listening!

Sign up here >>

CSN Coaching Circle Training Exercise

Wednesday March 29, 2023
10:00 – 11:30 am on Zoom

(This is a repeat event — previous sessions filled up fast!)

As a supervisor, you are often trying to find answers, solve problems, mentor, and/or give advice to support your direct reports. In this session, we introduce you to a tool that does not require you to have any answers or solutions. In fact, thinking you might have the answer or solution is discouraged. The tool is Coaching Circles. These circles aren’t about getting advice or merely having a place to vent. They aren’t about someone else solving your problems. They are spaces of deep listening and deep learning. New perspectives open up to new possibilities.

The best way to learn is to experience it for yourself. In this session, we will discuss the logistics, roles, and steps involved in participating in a Coaching Circle. Then it will be your turn to try out a circle! Absolutely no coaching experience or special knowledge is required. You will be walked through everything you need to know. We will end by talking about ways you might get your employees involved in coaching circles, or how you might want to be a part of a circle.

Facilitated by Theresa Kim of UW-Madison Learning and Talent Development.

Register Here: