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We have hundreds of articles to help you become more successful in your workplace. Below are the most popular topics. For even more go to the articles main page

Success At Work: Better Relationships, Better Systems, A Better World

Check out the book on the British Amazon site Check out amazon for complete information on the print edition In Canada? You can get this from within the country via The Kindle version can save you tons of money, and you can read it on almost any device with the free reader software Buy the PDF from us and save BIG. And, yes you can print it out or view it on a screen.

The Robert Bacal, Not Yet In Memoriam Library of Articles


Articles listed on this page are by Robert Bacal, CEO of Bacal & Associates and Work911. You are welcome to use these for your own personal use. Please keep in mind that they are copyrighted. Please review our reprint policy (or ask us) before using any of our articles. By abiding by the law, you ensure that we will create new material for our visitors. Due to the size of the library we have categorized the material in a number of ways to make access easier for you.

So, How To Present Over Two Hundred Articles To Readers Such As Yourself?

It's a conundrum. That's a lot of articles, and many can be classified in multiple categories. So, here's how we're doing it.

Access the articles by category using the menu "Browse Bacal's Articles By Topic" located in the left hand column of most of our pages.

However, if you are masochistic enough, this page is for you. We're going to list our articles plus brief descriptions all on this page. It's long. But, hey, we're warning you, you might be here a while.

Newest articles by Robert BacalNewest Additions By Robert Bacal

Make sure you check out the new additions here:

Stop Lying To Yourself About "Not Having Enough Time It's probably the most common, unintentional lie we tell ourselves and others, and it's harmful.

The Complete Utter Failure Of Employee Engagement Efforts Despite a billion dollars a year investment, employee engagement efforts have done little but fatten the wallets of survey companies and consultants.

How To Make Your Support/Admin Staff More Able To Help You Managers can do a lot to help support staff help them. It doesn't just happen.

Why You, (and most of us) Believe In Stupid Misleading Ideas Like The MBTI and Employee Engagement? Yes, often the emperor is naked. Why can't we see it right away?

Situational Team Decision Making: The Four Modes There's no best way to make decisions in teams. It's all about using the process that best fits the team, and the issue.

Why Employee Suggestion Programs Often Backfire On the surface getting ideas from employees makes sense. So why are these programs usually terrible failures?


Leadership and ManagementManagement, Leadership, Change

  • Old Words and New Management: Delegation It's essential that we understand that the old meaning of words used to describe management techniques (like performance appraisal and delegation) no longer work. Managers must learn new ways and not be trapped by "legacy thinking" they learned from their managers who learned, in turn from theirs.
  • Exhorting Employee To Work Harder - Common Managerial Mistakes Series It's a common managerial practice -- exhorting staff to work harder or better, and here's why it rarely works, and when it does work, it wears off, leaving mistrust in its wake.
  • Delegation - What Is It Good For? Absolutely Something At Work AND At Home With just a little shift in perspective we can supercharge traditional delegation to get even more benefits from the process, AND it works a HOME as well as at work!
  • Little-Bitty Quality Steps - Thirty-Two Small Steps One of my favorite articles from the Bacal archives because it's got some neat ACTIONABLE ideas that are simply good management! Fun, too.
  • Toxic Organizations - Where They Come From, What To Do Toxic organizations damage people at a level beyond that what occurs in average organizations, and there's a tendency for everyone to be either a victim or a silent bystander. Here's more on the topic.
  • Our Dead Strategic Plan It's amazing how much time is spent on developing strategic plans only to have them moulder in the back of desk drawers, completely forgotten and useless. Here's what to do to make your strategic plan come alive.
  • Improving Communication - Tips For Managers One could argue for the importance of many things that contribute to successful companies, but communication between manager and employees is probably one of the most important. Here are some tips to improve communication.
  • Winning Organizations - Applying What We Know About Sports/Athletics Written during an Olympic year, a quick take on what we know about high performers in athletics and how we can apply what they do to winning organizations.
  • Winning Management - Learning From Olympic Athletes Another short piece on what we can learn from Olympic athletes, particularly the process of visioning, and how it applies to effective management.
  • Fast Track To Promotion and Recognition Want to know how to accelerate your career? Here are some tips.
  • Leadership Secrets - The Responsive Manager/Leader We often think of leadership as involving a leader being "out front", but there's another component -- how one responds to what is communicated to a leader by those around him or her. The key to loyalty? Being "responsive", and we explain it here.
  • Bullying And Manipulation At Work While bullying tends to be an overused term in the workplace these days, it can be an issue, and managers are expected to intervene, or better yet, prevent bullying from happening in the first place. That's what this article is about.
  • Twelve Tips For Recognizing The Contributions of Your Employees And Colleagues It's easy to fall into the trap of believing that money is the only method to reward contributions on the part of employees, but in fact, recognition in non-monetary forms is as powerful, and often more powerful and with less side-effects than relying on monetary rewards. Here are 12 methods for recognizing the achievements of employees, and even colleagues.
  • Managers - Are You Getting The Information You Need To Do A Good Job?!To manage effectively requires getting the right information in a timely way, so you can make informed decisions. It's not uncommon for managers to create a climate in which employees feel hesitant to share information, particularly bad news.
  • For Managers - How Constant Change Affects Managers And Wears Them Down And Out Line employees aren't the only ones who wear down from the constant workplace change we see in today's workplace. Here's a short piece on how managers are affected by constant change.
  • Dealing With Human Speed Bumps! Some employees react to change and new ideas with resistance, or are slow to embrace new things. Not only can managers "cope" with human speed bumps but they can use their unique skills to ensure ideas aren't pulling the organization in the wrong direction.
  • Managing The Maverick Employee Maverick employees are often brilliant, but have trouble performing in a team environment or following rules. They can drive managers crazy, but they are also hard to fire, since they bring value in so many ways. Here's how to manage the maverick employee.
  • Ignoring The Law of Unintended Consequences - Common Managerial Mistakes Series For every action there is a reaction, and it's the same when instituting change. Even the most positive things introduced into the workplace, in fact, anything, will have some unintended consequences that manners need to try to anticipate.
  • The Exit Interview Mini Guide For Managers Exit interviews are very important to gather information you can use to improve your management approach, and stay in touch with what's going on with employees. Here's a guide to use, and to ensure exist interviews remain safe.
  • Time To Declare War On Unnecessary Work? By leading the move towards become more efficient by eliminating unnecessary job tasks, you can become more effective while improving the morale of frustrated employees.

Managing Those Difficult, Frustrating, and Productivity Killing Employees

Managing ChangeChange and Leadership (and stuff like that)

  • Understanding The Cycle of Change, And How People React To It There is a fairly predictable set of steps people apply to adapting to change that are essential to know if you want to bring about change in your organization. Here they are.
  • The Importance of Leadership In Managing Change Whether change is imposed from outside as a result of circumstances, or is planned and designed from the inside, leadership IS the critical factor that will determine whether the results expected from the changes will occur, or not
  • Leading Those That Remain After Downsizing Or Job Loss Often the people who remain after downsizing would have been better off losing their jobs. It's those that remain that bear the brunt, emotionally and practically, as work loads increase, and morale plummets. Leadership is the answer.
  • For Managers - How Constant Change Affects Managers And Wears Them Down And Out It's easy to forget that managers are as much victims of the fast flow of change in the workplace, particularly if you are an employee "looking up" at them. In fact, the toll of a constantly changing workplace exacts a greater toll on decision-makers than non-decision makers, as per a number of psychological studies on stress.
  • The Responsive Leader/Manager There's no single "thing" common to all successful leaders, but one thing that's worth looking at is how leaders and managers respond to the people around them. We call this "responsiveness", and in this article we discuss its relevance to leaders.
  • The Responsiveness Paradigm In this article we explain the idea of "responsiveness" as a general characteristic. There's great potential to extend the notion beyond being responsive to people, but also to environmental cues and variables that come with change.
  • Turning Around Negative Attitudes Common problem - negative attitudes in the workplace. Hard pressed companies often break the psychological contract with employees, resulting in negative attitudes. Of course there are other reasons, but what can managers and leaders do to turn around negative attitudes at work? Here are some ideas.
  • Leadership - The Link Between Planning & Doing As someone who's lead a number of strategic planning sessions, one thing that jumps onto my radar is that any kind of planning, to have any positive effect, must be based on the leader's ability to get across the role, mission, values and goals embodied in the plan. Planning is useless without this essential element. More in the article.
  • The Long Term Effects of Downsizing Companies keep downsizing, then growing, than downsizing, and the cycle never ends. The reasons are many, not the least of which is over-catering on short term shareholder value. However, having gone through a number of these cycles, and having looked at the research, it's clear to me that the long term effects of downsizing, even once, are such that it's one of the dumbest things companies do. The research bears this out over and over, with a very large percentage of senior executives expressing disappointment that the goals of the downsizing were not actually met.
  • Critical Factors For Dealing With Downsizing - Quick tips More on downsizing in the form of some quick tips.
  • Empowerment Difficulties  - Employees That Don't Wanna Despite all the hullabaloo about empowerment, in psychological terms, it's not simple. Proponents often base their ideas on false assumptions about human motivation, taken primarily from the upper middle class, white collar population. It's not that it's completely wrong, but it's not all the correct, either. Here's one issue: empowering employees who simply don't want the responsibility.
  • Understanding The Seven Dynamics of Change Another brief article on seven principles you need to know to design and/or implement change in the workplace, or anywhere else, for that matter.

measuring and metrics in performance appraisalPerformance Management, Performance Appraisals, and Working to Continuously Improve Performance So Everyone Wins.

  • Why Performance Management Fails – And What To Do About It
    Handouts and material from Bacal's 2000 presentation at The Linkage's Conference On Performance Management, in Texas. Due to the age of this material, we grant visitors the right to share it with their colleagues.
  • Seven Stupid Things Employees Do To Screw Up Performance Appraisal
    Simple, short and to the point and part of our series on how employees, HR and managers "screw up performance appraisal". And, I might ad, a classic article that's been reprinted, along with the others in the series, HUNDREDS of times.
  • Seven Stupid Things HR Does TO Screw Up Performance Appraisal
    Well, it's only fair, right. Employees, managers and HR have a hand in making performance appraisals work so let's get them all in the hopper. Actually, HR does a number of things that actually get in the way of having an effective performance management and improvement system. Again, classic.
  • Seven Stupid Things Managers Do To Screw Up Performance Appraisals
    Moving right along to managers, and the mistakes they make with performance appraisals. Once again, a classic article.
  • Why Employee Ranking Systems Lead To Disaster
    Popularized by Jack Welch at GE, employee ranking seems to be losing steam, and for good reasons. Legal challenges and poor logic make ranking and "rand and yank" dangerous to company and employee success. Kudos to Jack for seemingly making it work, but it had more to do with him than with the soundness of the "scheme". Don't try to emulate this, you will fail.
  • Why Rating Systems Don't Work For Employee Appraisal
    Employee ratings fail on almost EVERY criterion you might apply. They are unfair, invalid, misleading, and almost always used incorrectly. You need to know this, since ratings are the most common method used in large companies to "evaluate" staff.
  • Why Improving Performance Management Systems Is So Difficult
    Why is it that companies often revamp their performance management systems, only to end up with something a little different, but ultimately the same as the old system?
  • Diagnosing Performance Problems
    Absolutely critical to improving both individual and organizational productivity. You can't fix things if you don't know what's "broke" and what is causing the problems.
  • Five Sins Of Discipline
    Discipline is about making a better future, and encouraging learning, but it's often misunderstood. Learn about what discipline REALLY means.
  • What IS The Point Of Performance Appraisal
    Performance appraisal can't work if we don't know what the heck it's for and how to use it to achieve important outcomes. It's not rocket science but it's a bit more complex than you'd think.
  • Bidirectional Evaluation - You Evaluate The Boss, The Boss Evaluates You
    What works well with staff evaluations is that there is communication going both ways. Not only is it a chance for employees to learn how they can be effective contributors, but it should also be a time when managers learn from employees about how THEY can clear away barriers to performance. Hence, the notion of bidirectional evaluation, bidirectional feedback.
  • Discipline & Performance Problems Quick Tips
    Some quick hints and tips about how managers and supervisors can deal with problem performance.

Learn to communicate more effectivelyCommunication - Interpersonal and Organizational

  • The Language of Peace and Inter-Personal Harmony We have two distinct sets of language patterns (how we communicate). One builds bridges between people and institutions, even countries, while the other deepens the gap between the parties, and results in escalation. Best is that the good communication approach can be learned, rather quickly. By you. By anyone.
  • Applying Bacal's Law Of Meaningless Utterances Meaningless Utterances (phrases that seem to mean something but don't if you think about them more deeply) signify unstated, and sometimes hostile agendas operating. You need to know this simply trick to identify BS.
  • Using Positive Language To Change The Way People See You A classic Robert Bacal article that has been reprinted a number of times in print and for internal corporate use, it's about altering the words and phrases you use so you change how people perceive you and your attitudes. A Must Read.
  • Public Speaking - Getting The Attention of Your Audience In public speaking the most important thing is to get and keep the attention of your audience. Using tried and true psychological principles about how the brain works, you can implement relatively simple, but highly effective ways of getting people to listen, stay alert and "hear" you message.
  • Getting Heard By Your Boss Getting the attention and interest of your boss (getting heard) is essential for you career success, and to have input and have your ideas heard and considered. Most of us don't know how to do it, so in this short article we explain how to approach your boss, whether it's to ask for a raise, ask for more resources, or get your idea heard and recognized.
  • Listen Up! Real Listening & How To Practice It There's listening, and then there's LISTENING, and you can't get better out it without practicing. The good news is you can practice even by yourself (strange, isn't it). This article explains how you can hone your listening techniques to create better relationships at home and at work.
  • Learning About "Conversational Cons" What's a "conversation con"? it's language that isn't really about what it is supposed to be about. Think of it as language that wraps hidden agendas and is often used to manipulate. Strangest of all, we all use them sometimes, by accident, but you need to know when they are being used on you.
  • Improving Communication By Eliminating Insinuation Insinuation is a passive-aggressive cowardly way of making comments, but we've all done it. Learn more about removing it from your verbal catalog.
  • Exorcise Blame For Success One of the simplest and most effective ways to improve your relationships is to get rid of blame type statements and questions, and move your conversations into the present and future, instead of the past. An essential read.
  • Cooperative Communication - What Is It? Why Is It Important Despite what many people believe the specific words and phrases you use are very important in determining what happens next. Learn all about word choices, hot phrases and how to use language to get along with others.
  • Dealing With Difficult People - It's About Skill The right attitude is important when dealing with difficult people, but without the skills, you haven't a hope. Learn more.
  • Person Centered Comments - Path To Poor Relationship In a disagreement, the best way to really damage the relationship is to make person centered comments. A small change in your language can smooth disagreements out quickly.

managing conflict at home and at workConflict Management

  • Defusing Hostile People - Part 1 In this multi-part article we help you learn how to deal with hostile, aggressive and angry people.
  • Defusing Hostile People - Part 2 Second part of our series on how to deal with the more manipulative and aggressive people in your life.
  • Dealing With A Difficult Colleague Got a difficult colleague? Don't we all at some point. In this article you'll find some tips and suggestions you can use NOW when interacting with a co-worker who is driving you nuts.
  • Organizational Conflict - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly We tend to look at conflict as a bad thing, but some conflict is actually healthy and good. Some is bad conflict, and then there's some really ugly conflict. Here we explain the differences, and how you can harness conflict for better relationships and a better workplace.
  • Basic Negotiating Tips It's amazing how much we negotiate on an every day basis without even realizing it. Here are some basic tips so you can improve how to negotiate more effectively.
  • Dealing With Hostile Bait Hostile bait is language that has as its effect, causing you to feel emotional, upset, off-balance and while it's not always used intentionally, it's good to understand how it plays a role in arguments, disagreements and even attempts to manipulate. How do you deal with it? That's what this article is about.
  • Is Conflict Bad? Most of us don't like conflict, but it does help to surface issues that we might best deal with in relationships. However, whether it is good or bad depends on the HOW.
  • Eleven Things That Create Anger and Resistance In Others By identifying these eleven things that drive people crazy, you can improve your ability to "get through" and communicate effectively with others, at home and at work. Best yet, it's not hard.
  • Dealing With Angry Employees Or Other Angry People Around You We live in an angry world, because we're all human. Here's some ideas on how to deal with angry employees, or for that matter, any angry person you might work with (or live with).
  • The Difference Between Conflict Prevention & Conflict Avoidance There's an important difference between AVOIDING conflict, and PREVENTING conflict. One is like sticking one's head in the sand, and the other is designed to reduce conflict that CAN be prevented because its causes are predictable. Essential reading.

customer serviceCustomer Service Improvement

  • Gathering Customer Service Data - Every Employee A Researcher Excellent companion article to go along with the previous one, employees are in ideal situations to collect and make sense of data about customer service in your company. The data they collect may not tell the whole story, but it will tell a good bit of the story that executives and managers often miss.
  • Referring Customers To Competitors? Smart Business Move Seems counter-intuitive, but if you can`t meet the needs of your customer, you can create customer loyalty by referring to a competitor.
  • Is Much of What You Believe About Customer Service Wrong? - Could Be Most people think they know a great deal about customer service because we're all customers, but it's dangerous to use just our own experience when it comes to providing service to customers. There's a lot of cognitive bias operating. Result? Much of what you believe about great customer service is probably wrong.

Customer Service Trends/Social Media

What Customers Really Want

Tough, Angry Customers

And Even More Customer Service Help...

social media and businessThe Realities of Social Media

training and learningTraining, Development And Learning

  • Trainers are From Mars, or Is That Pluto, or, Maybe Just Goofy
    From the "I really don't remember where this comes from and vaguely remember writing it" section, or "Truth is stranger than fiction when it comes to some people in the training profession. Really!
  • El earning, Distance Education, Not Equivalent to Full Time Study
    Despite the common sense notion that HOW you learn something affects WHAT you learn and how you can apply it, distance education and el earning advocates push the idea that people should REPLACE traditional  learning experiences (i.e. in class, full time study) with part time, distance or el earning programs. It's NOT the same, but the sad part is that people without the full time experience will never know what they missed.
  • Comparing Various Instructional Methods - Matching Training methods with training purposes
    For instructional designers and trainers, a must have chart that compares various training and instructional methods.
  • Why I Cannot Abide Social Learning “Experts” And Why You Should Beware
    When "professionals" lose the distinction between ADVOCACY and unbiased analysis of available data, there's a risk of millions of dollars going to waste. Does this apply to el earning and social learning? Bet on it.
  • Going To Training? Some Hints
    Attending a training session shouldn't be a day off. Attendees have responsibilities if the investment of time and money is to pay off for both employee and sponsor. Here's some hints to help anyone planning on attending training.
  • Personal Styles -- Time-Waster or Useful - Should You Join The MBTI Shuffle?
    Personal (or personality styles) have become the astrology signs of the 90's and 2000's, it seems as they've become more popular endways, less understood. Instruments like the MBTI and the DISC have serious limitations that anyone using them should be aware of, including a danger of stereotyping and worsening organizational harmony.
  • The Educated Training Consumer - Why Is Training Undervalued
    We believe the better educated the seminar buyer, the better it is for everyone. Here are some reasons why training tends to be undervalued, focusing on those IN the industry.
  • The Value of Value Clarification - Or - Cut Out The Navel-Gazing
    Clarifying values is often used as a process to improve organizational functioning in organizational development interventions. Intuitively it makes sense, but is it a good path to go? Does it pay off, or could it engender more cynicism in the organization?
  • Strategic Learning Contracts - Maximizing Training Results
    If a company is spending money on training staff and helping staff develop skills that benefit them, the company should be protecting its  investment by making clear to the employee its expectations about his or her responsibility. Here's a simple approach to use for that purpose -- the strategic learning contract.
  • What Facilitators Really Do
    It's kind of a mystery. Facilitators are NOT trainers or teachers per se. They play a particular role in organizational development and learning efforts, and you SHOULD know the difference between facilitation and training since they work differently and suit different purposes and goals.
  • Getting Value From Training - How To Improve Return On Investment
    If you are a manager or HR professional involved in training staff, this is for you, since it provides some straight-forward ideas on how to get value from training.
  • Danger! Corporate Training Ahead
    Sometimes training, mismanaged and badly arranged and communicated, is a BAD idea. Here's an example, along with a stern warning.
  • Ugh! Training, What's It Good For?
    It's been fairly typical for managers, executives and even human resources professionals to believe that "training" is a solution to a broad range of problems. It isn't. Training has specific strengths and weaknesses and needs to be matched up with problems it CAN solve. Otherwise everyone ends up disappointed and decision-makers pull back on funding future training.

Life-Work Balance, Stress, HealthHealth, Stress Management and Wellness

  • Losing Weight The Olympic Way
    Written during an Olympic year, we look at whether the mental skills practiced by world class Olympic athletes can be used to improve health, and in particular, losing weight.
  • Work & Life Stress Getting To You? Getting Help With No Shame
    These days there's far less stigma attached to getting help if you suffer from stress, anxiety and depression, and there are more options -- effective options, available to you if you are experiencing problems. That said, it's good to realize that mental health challenges are no different from physical health ones, and sometimes, it's best to seek professional help.
  • Leaving The Nest - Surviving Layoffs
    Unemployment rates are high, and layoffs have been rampant over the last several years. Here are some tips on how to survive layoffs.
  • Stressed Out? Some Solutions You Probably Haven't Tried
    Here are some self-help techniques you can try for handling stress.

HR - Human ResourcesHuman Resources (HR)

There are a lot more articles to add to this list, so use the browse by category menu on the left hand side towards the top.


About Company

Bacal & Associates was founded in 1992. Since then Robert has trained thousands of employees to deal with angry, hostile, abusive and potentially violent customers. He has authored over 20 books on various subjects, many published by McGraw-Hill.


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