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Archive for August, 2010

Ducks in a Row: Rumors—the Fastest Way to Destroy Culture

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

ducks_in_a_rowRumors are the fastest way to destroy trust and culture, not to mention your team’s morale, productivity, longevity—the list goes on and on.

Managers who stick their head in the sand in the hopes that the rumor will die a natural death are in for a rude awakening.

The only way to deal with rumors is head on and publicly.

Call your group together, state the rumor and tell them the truth. If something in the rumor response is confidential level with them and explain why it is.

For example, if there is a layoff rumor it’s either true or false. If true, admit it and explain as much as possible. If you can identify specifics—when, which departments, who, etc.,—and be honest! Or tell them when you don’t have information or that you can’t share it.

People aren’t stupid, if you say there is no layoff coming and it happens two days later they will know you lied and lies cast a long shadow. People will understand that you can’t give details, but lies are something else.

The only way to deal with the rumor mongers is privately and only if you are positive that you have the right person.

If you are sure start by asking why they said what they said.

You may find that it was innocent and actually started in another group or department. In that case make them feel safe in coming to you first if they hear something in the future.

If they deny it and you are still absolutely sure thank them and then watch them like a hawk. If they are real rumor mongers they do it for kicks; thinking they got away with it usually makes them careless and you will catch them the next time.

You need proof to act and that may take time, but the more confident they are the easier it is to catch them; just remember to document everything.

Flickr image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zedbee/103147140/

My Accomplishment: Option Sanity™

Monday, August 30th, 2010

osbannerlgeYesterday I shared my love of crossing stuff off lists because of the sense of accomplishment it brings, but that kind of stuff is small potatoes; it lifts me up and helps me move forward, but it isn’t a substitute for hitting the goals that move my life.

I just hit the biggest one on my list and want to share it with you.

For the last several years we’ve been working to turn a consulting approach for allocating incentive stock in private companies based on the company’s values and culture into a web-based subscription service (SaaS)—and it’s finally a reality!

Not only that, but because I hate the way traditional Help works, I conceived a brand new, user friendly type of Help that our programmers implemented brilliantly—you’ll love it.

It’s a soft launch, but Option Sanity™ has its second beta client (I’m looking for three more) and is looking good.

But it feels strange; for so long the focus and the goal has been to produce the software and the website. That meant working with the programmers, tons of writing and editing, working with the guy who originated the math and mechanics of Option Sanity™ and who was primary tester and developing my own skills as a user.

Now that it’s done I keep waiting for a massive feeling of accomplishment and although it’s there it’s dwarfed by what needs to be done now—marketing, identifying and closing multiple sales channels, supporting new users, developing a FAQ based on their questions, creating a user community—the list seems endless.

With all that starting me in the face I thought I’d ask for some help.

It would be terrific if you would to www.optionsanity.com, read about the product and click Take the Tour. Unfortunately the tour isn’t done, but on that page you’ll find a link to the full app demo.

Check it out and then leave your comments on the review page. Forward the information to anyone you think would be interested

I know it will take a few minutes, but I would be eternally grateful.

Thanks!

Image credit: RampUp Solutions

mY generation: Office: The Game

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

See all mY generation posts here.

officegame

Quotable Quotes: Accomplishment

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

accomplishment

I seem to be on a roll around my house and garden getting all kinds of stuff that I’ve been procrastinating for months done leaving me with a giant sense of accomplishment. I love that feeling; I make task lists just to cross off the items and get that feeling of accomplishment.

So I thought that would be an apropos to see what others have to say about accomplishments.

There is an old saying that sums up why accomplishing stuff makes me feel good, “Happiness is different from pleasure. Happiness has something to do with struggling, enduring, and accomplishing.”

Even though the lists help me get things done and make me happy, I’m heedful of the German Proverb, Who begins too much accomplishes little,” which, when you think about it, is why so many people end up accomplishing so little.

Obviously, accomplishment has a major place in business environment.

As Barry C. Forbes said, “Ideas are the raw material of progress. Everything first takes shape in the form of an idea. But an idea by itself is worth nothing. An idea, like a machine, must have power applied to it before it can accomplish anything.”

Power means people, not companies, but individuals working together. Colin Powell said it best, “Organization doesn’t really accomplish anything. Plans don’t accomplish  anything, either. Theories of management don’t much matter. Endeavors succeed or fail because of the people involved. Only by attracting the best people will you accomplish great deeds.”

And while you are searching for the people who can accomplish the great deed, it’s wise to remember what Doug Larson said, “Some of the world’s greatest feats were accomplished by people not smart enough to know they were impossible.”

Combine that with the words of Harry S. Truman and you have an unbeatable combination as well as the hallmark of a great leader/manager., “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”

Finally, Fred Allen offers us a kernel of wisdom inside a little bit of levity; read it carefully and if the shoe fits throw it out!

“A molehill man is a pseudo-busy executive who comes to work at 9 AM and finds a molehill on his desk. He has until 5 PM to make this molehill into a mountain. An accomplished molehill man will often have his mountain finished before lunch.”

Image credit: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/956033

Expand Your Mind: Managing

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

expand-your-mind

Management is a dirty word these days; most articles talking about what and how people manage peg the information to ‘leadership’, don’t mention managing and never call them managers.

But they are.

So today I offer you a selection of information about managing.

We’ll start with a McKinsey article that, although it talks about bosses and uses the L word, does a good job spelling out the importance of being tuned into your people

Bosses matter to everyone they oversee, but they matter most to those just beneath them in the pecking order: the people they guide at close range, who constantly tangle with the boss’s virtues, foibles, and quirks.

And although classic management strategy involves being highly visible, according to HBS professor Anita Tucker, just being there isn’t enough.

Managers who merely put in time “walking the floor” are not doing enough when it comes to problem solving; in fact, it can make employees feel worse about their situation.

Next we take a look at what it takes for managers to motivate their people that includes a surprising finding.

The things that make people satisfied and motivated on the job are different in kind from the things that make them dissatisfied.

A fun and informative post from BNET looks at errors made by newly promoted first time managers and provides a link that looks at what companies do to help.

Last year the Institute for Corporate Productivity surveyed hundreds of employees to determine how well their companies helped people make the switch to management.

Finally, a let’s take a look at the question of how young bosses should go about managing older employees. This Harvard Business Review post offers some good basics when it comes to managing, but the idea that the concepts are peculiar to the situation of younger managing older is ridiculous. Read it and tell me if there are any employees that wouldn’t respond well to being managed as described, or any manager who wouldn’t do better managing that way.

And while we are on the subject of young and old I want to share an article that goes a long way to correcting—or at least reminding us—that we really don’t know what someone else is thinking.

I asked her why she had come to the nursing home, and she described the recent passing of her husband after 73 years of marriage. I was overwhelmed by the thought of her loss, and wanted to offer some words of comfort. I leaned in close and spoke.

“I’m so sorry,” I told her. “What has it been like for you losing your husband after so many years of marriage?”

She paused for a moment and then replied: “Heaven.”

Enjoy!

Flickr image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pedroelcarvalho/2812091311/

Miki’s Rules to Live By: Future and Past

Friday, August 27th, 2010

Create

your future,

because

you can’t

edit your past.

This is one of those rules that everybody knows, but keep trying to circumvent anyway. In fact, people are often so busy editing they forget to create.

What they don’t get is that when you spend your energy on creation and execution you won’t need to worry about editing.

Leadership’s Future: How Will They Lead?

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

I received the following email yesterday (edited for length and anonymity).

Miki,

With 20+ years of experience managing I thought I had seen it all, but I have a situation that I am at a loss on how to handle.

Short version, 6 months ago I hired an entry level engineer, with just a year of experience, but lots of potential I thought. Potential he is not living up to. I do not see the energy, initiative and go-get-’em attitude he projected in the interview. His peers complain that he is not pulling his weight and he acts as if showing up and performing at minimal level is enough. He has received positive input when he does something well, but I have been candid regarding the problems, offered suggestions for improving, etc., and blunt talk that if both his work and his attitude didn’t change he couldn’t stay.

So when all this came up again in his 6 month review I was taken aback when he acted like it was the first time he had heard any of this. OK, I’ve run into denial before, nothing new there.

But what totally floored me and the main reason for writing is that the day after his review I received a phone call from his parents (they were both on the line) demanding to know who the hell I thought I was not to give their son a 6 month promotion.

I said I was in a meeting and would get back to them; any suggestions besides the obvious none of your damn business.

I called him and after a bit more discussion he agreed that it would be best to turn this mess over to the company HR department. Fortunately, they were already aware of the problem and he had plenty of documentation to back up both the performance problems and the ongoing conversations about them.

The parental call was the final nail and the young man will be terminated for cause.

hoveringWe all read articles about helicopter parents, in fact, I just read one on how great a problem hovering is for colleges.

Some undergraduate officials see in parents’ separation anxieties evidence of the excesses of modern child-rearing. “A good deal of it has to do with the evolution of overinvolvement in our students’ lives,” said Mr. Dougharty of Grinnell. “These are the baby-on-board parents, highly invested in their students’ success. They do a lot of living vicariously, and this is one manifestation of that.”

What really angered me was the way the episode affected the manager. He found himself questioning his own skills, as if he could have done anything that would offset 23 years (and counting) of parental protection.

What chance do any of these coddled kids have at maturing into leaders, not only positional ones, but de facto leaders? Will their parents help articulate a vision and then chastise those who don’t follow?

What do you think?

Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wilsonb/2897692632/

Wordless Wednesday: Not Quite Enough is a Killer

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

not-enough Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevesfaces/4352714868/

Ducks in a Row: The End of Management

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

ducks_in_a_rowSaturday an article appeared in the Wall Street Journal entitled The End of Management and I planned a commentary on it today.

Corporations, whose leaders portray themselves as champions of the free market, were in fact created to circumvent that market.

Corporations are bureaucracies and managers are bureaucrats. Their fundamental tendency is toward self-perpetuation. They are, almost by definition, resistant to change. They were designed and tasked, not with reinforcing market forces, but with supplanting and even resisting the market.

But when a blogger I respect writes an excellent post poking the same holes I would have poked, then it seems a waste of effort to reinvent that particular wheel.

So first read The End of Management and then click over and read Wally Bock’s comments.

Time well spent—I guarantee it.

Flickr image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zedbee/103147140/

Wordless Wednesday: Business Trust

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

shattered

Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sallypics/89905757

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