Is managing a group boring in comparison to managing a project?
Is it a bigger challenge to manage with no actual authority as opposed to when you have it?
Project management is the ultimate matrixed management position—responsibility sans authority, i.e., no leverage.
But managers’ traditional leverage—do it or you’re fired—doesn’t work on today’s workforce, whose reaction is more likely to be updating their resume.
Granted, there are many abusive managers out there who believe that their authority gives them the right to order people around, but it’s less and less effective. That’s especially true when creativity, innovation and productivity are requirements for getting the job done.
What it boils down to is that PMs can’t give orders by dint of their job description whereas managers can’t give orders by dint of their workforce—and neither one is going to change any time soon.
Good grief, where did the time go? Thanksgiving is over, and that means the year is close to ending, but first comes the holiday season. Nothing but parties and get-togethers for the next 4.5 weeks.
Frank Ogden said, “Holidays are the greatest learning experience unknown to man.” I think he has a real point, otherwise most of us wouldn’t keep repeating the same actions and activities every year that don’t work for us—isn’t that similar to Einstein’s definition of insanity?
Sadly Philip Andrew Adams hit the nail on the head when he said, “To many people holidays are not voyages of discovery, but a ritual of reassurance.”
Holidays are funny things, rarely does your version of what happened match those of the other people present. But does that matter? Denis Norden said, “It’s like your children talking about holidays, you find they have a quite different memory of it from you. Perhaps everything is not how it is, but how it’s remembered.” How very true, your reality is based on your memories, not someone else’s version of the same event.
Bob Edwards made a very valid observation when he said, “One can always tell when one is getting old and serious by the way that holidays seem to interfere with one’s work.” Based on that I’m still not old, no matter what Social Security says, and I never will be—what about you?
Ben Franklin’s wisdom is accurate as ever, “How many observe Christ’s birthday! How few, his precepts! O! ’tis easier to keep holidays than commandments.” You may not agree, but it seems these days the more vocal the religion the greater the intolerance and hate; I’d rather go back to the days when faith was private and tolerance waxing.
But it’s Pepper Schwartz who sums up the holidays perfectly, “Holidays in general breed unrealistic expectations. The minute you start wondering, ‘is it going to be wonderful enough?,’ it never will be.” The trick, obviously, is not to wonder, just assume. Believe with all your heart; know that it will happen and it will.
When I remember all the years I spent convincing executives that culture wasn’t an idea propagated by consultants with an eye to their bottom line I have to laugh—otherwise I’d probably cry.
These days, culture is on the front page and front line of everybody’s’ mind, credited or blamed for company success and failure.
Take Goldman Sachs (please!) and its ‘culture of sharing’, which is good, except it doesn’t seem to extend to shareholders, and the coming bonuses are as obscene as always.
Google is a touchstone for any conversation about corporate culture. Inside The Mind Of Google is a multi-part, in-depth look at the company starting December 3 on CNBC. Get ready for it by taking this quiz and find our how much you know about Google.
Companies know that hiring an executive, or merging companies, that aren’t at least culturally synergistic is often a road to disaster, so organizational psychologists are finding ways to scientifically evaluate the fit; of course, as soon as the tools are developed people will find new ways to game the system.
And then there’s Asana, a startup that has a “…grand vision of de-Dilbertizing corporate culture by creating technology that enables a workplace to function with greater efficiency and a minimum of miscommunication.“ But as the article points out, technical solutions don’t neutralize pointy-haired bosses.
A post on Harvard Business Blogs entitled Every CEO Should Write an Annual Memo To The Board caught my eye, not for CEOs, but for you. You may not be CEO of a company, but you are CEO of your life—your vision, your plan, your effort. You deal with the same problems as every CEO and you owe it to yourself to do the same kind of appraisal of the current and the coming year. Read the article and if you have problems tweaking it to fit you I’ll be happy to help.
Last is a story that will make you see red—at least I hope so. There is great controversy over the hiring of illegal aliens, but that’s not today’s focus. Given the reality of businesses hiring them the real question is do they deserve the same treatment as legal employees or does the fact that they are illegal give managers carte blanche in how they are treated? This isn’t a hypothetical question. Watch this video and share your thoughts on the manager’s actions.
There are five Fs that come immediately to mind, they are fun, family, friends, food and football.
Of those five only one comes close to being guaranteed good and that’s food, but even food isn’t a given. There was the year that my host’s two Siamese cats stole the turkey—dragged it off the platter, dropped it to the floor, dragged it across an Aubusson carpet and were on the way out one door when I entered another.
Football often depends on whether your team wins, although a good game, as opposed to a romp, can make the difference.
Friends are often a better bet than family since you can pick and choose, but that only works if you’re the host. One friend always invited two people he knew would ignite—one year it was an Arab and an Israeli just after the Six Day War. Talk about fireworks, more like bombs.
Then, of course, there is family. Family is family and blood may be thicker than water, but that doesn’t mean putting the family together in one room will always generate sweetness and light—too often there is a large dose of vinegar and sour grapes. It’s said that leopards don’t change their spots and neither do family members. If they are difficult or you can’t stand them 364 days of the years, they won’t change for the 365th day.
Fun depends either on the first four or your ability to take a step back and laugh—at the food, the game, your friends, your family and, most of all, yourself.
Laughter is the balm that soothes a holiday rash; apply liberally and often.
I’m a bit ambivalent about Thanksgiving along with many other holidays, such as Mother’s Day. While I understand and even agree with the idea of honoring a certain attitude, it seems hypocritical when the attitude exists only on that day.
Sadly, many of the people most vocal about a holiday are the same people whose actions during the rest of the year belie their holiday attitudes.
That said, here are my suggestions regarding Thanksgiving.
No matter how bad things are in your corner of the world give thanks that you are alive to read this. As long as you’re breathing you have a shot at changing your circumstances or improving someone else’s.
Several years ago I had a terminally ill friend. Her final Thanksgiving act was to sign papers consigning all her useable body parts to an organ donor program; she died just a few days later.
Her action infuriated her family, but she had made sure they couldn’t stop her choice. She died knowing that others would live because of that choice.
Which brings us to my second suggestion.
Remember the words of Plato, “Always be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle,” and follow the advice of Anne Herbert, “Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty” every day.
Get in the habit of doing one small, unplanned thing every day—drop a quarter in an about-to-expire meter; pick up a piece of litter; help someone across the street.
Just think of the difference in our world if everyone did just one random act every day.