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Holiday with mY Generation

Friday, December 25th, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I hope you’re in your jammies, sipping mimosas or good coffee, knee deep in wrapping paper and that Santa was good to you.

Since there are just four days left of Leadership Turn I thought you might enjoy seeing another feature you’ll be able to enjoy at MAPping Company Success.

mY generation is a comic series drawn by Jim Gordon, who graduated this year and is working in his first job. His quirky sense of humor will make you smile and his provocative viewpoint will make you think.

Since mY generation runs on Sundays you’ll receive it, as well as Quotable Quotes, if you subscribe via RSS or EMAIL.


Again, have a wonderful holiday weekend and remember, don’t get

  • sunburned if it’s sunny;
  • wet if it’s raining; or
  • cold if it has the audacity to snow!

Your comments—priceless

Image credit: Jim Gordon on MAPping Company Success

It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Santa…

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

Today is the last Leadership’s Future post in 2009, but the feature will continue every Thursday at MAPping Company Success (to avoid missing it subscribe via RSS or EMAIL). Please click to read today’s Leadership’s Future.

‘Twas the day before Christmas I sat down to write,
but nothing came—writer’s block was my plight.

A video was the answer I thought with a sigh
and clicked over to YouTube to give it a try.

I found what I wanted as you will see,
plus you can follow tonight by using this key!


Track Santa here or go mobile!

Image credit: NORAD

Ducks In A Row: People Are Like Bats

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

ducks_in_a_rowDid you know that as nimble as an ordinary bat is when flying it can’t take off from a level place?
If it is placed on the floor or flat ground, all it can do is shuffle about helplessly and painfully until it reaches some slight elevation from which it can throw itself into the air. Then it takes off like a flash.

That’s also a good description of what happens to workers who aren’t given what they need to succeed.

Whether it’s coherent instructions, correct and complete information, additional training, viable feedback, or something else, without it they struggle to survive, let alone thrive.

If you want your people to perform and succeed then it’s your responsibility to provide the slight elevation from which they can launch themselves.

Identifying and providing that slight elevation is your responsibility, whether you consider yourself a leader or a manager.

That small height isn’t one-size-fits-all nor is it necessarily what works for you, which means you need to learn through interaction and discussion what constitutes a feasible elevation for each individual and provide it.

That’s your job, whether you are a CEO, team leader or anything in-between, that is what you are paid to do.

So if doing it doesn’t float your boat and give you an adrenalin rush every time someone takes off you’re in the wrong position. You may like the paycheck, but you’re leaving your people to shuffle in circles and setting them up to fail.

And doing so will come back and bite you at some point.

Your comments—priceless

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Image credit:  ZedBee|Zoë Power on flickr

Leadership's Future: The Work-Life Edge

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

balanceWhen the economy slows, it’s easy to ignore retention factors because management kids itself into believing that replacing people is no big deal.

But slow as it’s happening, the times they are a’chnging.

At least here and there, in companies that really understand the importance of attracting and retaining scarce talent.

“To reduce “female brain drain,” global companies such as Ernst & Young, Goldman Sachs, Booz Allen Hamilton, Hewlett-Packard, Best Buy and dozens of others are increasingly offering a variety of flexible work options.”

Don’t get me wrong. These companies aren’t doing it out of the goodness of their corporate heart or caring social consciousness, they’re doing it because it makes financial sense, AKA, vested self-interest.

“Business analysts and executives say talent retention and the forces of demography are the chief reasons large, traditional companies accommodate the needs of female employees. Fifty-eight percent of college graduates are women, and nearly half of all professional and graduate degrees are earned by women…the number of women with graduate and professional degrees will grow by 16 percent over the next decade compared with an increase of only 1.3 percent among men.”

And the need is going to get worse.

“Whether you can hear it or not, a time bomb is ticking in C-suites worldwide. Its shock waves will resonate for decades. The explosive: indisputable demographics. Surveys…indicate that the number of managers in the right age bracket for leadership roles will drop by 30% in just six years. Factor in even modest growth rates, and the average corporation will be left with half the critical talent it needs by 2015.”

It’s not just large firms, SMB companies are active in the effort, although they often skip the language and the programs are more informal—which is why they’re often described as “being like a family.”

Although the work-life trend started with women, the guys want it, too, and Millennials assume it as a right.

The economy will turn around—it always does; more Boomers will retire; demographics will prevail; talent will be scarcer and the companies that already know how to offer balance will have an enormous recruiting edge.

Your comments—priceless

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Image credit: James Jordan on flickr

Ducks In A Row: Review Love

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

ducks_in_a_rowPeople hate reviews, but done correctly reviews are a terrific tool to provide individual attention, improve retention and show your love—tention reviews as opposed to tension reviews.

I won’t bother explaining the latter; everybody has suffered through a tension review at least once in their life and probably far more.

The biggest difference between the two is in the level of communication and frequency.

Done correctly tention reviews happen constantly and are called feedback. Think of them as a manager’s response to the “how am I doing” sign implicit on every member of their team.

We all crave feedback, which includes

  • sincere strokes (given publicly),
  • constructive criticism (given privately),
  • career growth (what we have to do to take that next step), and
  • friendly general interest.

Truly great managers add

  • how can I improve,
  • what can I do to help you, and
  • how can I help our team excel?

Another part of review love is inherent in the communications necessary to setting solid, intelligent goals for each team member—

  • solid because they make sense and are achievable, while still being a stretch, and
  • intelligent because each person can see how their own objectives support their team’s goals, which, in turn, support the overall goals of the company.

Tention reviews also recognize that individual annual goals often need to be adjusted as a change in the company’s goals sets off a ripple effect throughout the organization.

And for those managers’ who claim they don’t have the time because of their real job, I’m here to tell you this is your job—cut corners or ignore at your own peril.

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Image credit:  ZedBee|Zoë Power on flickr

Seize Your Leadership Day: Critical Culture

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

seize_your_dayWhen 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.

Finally, take a look at what happens when you don’t just add windows, but actually move the entire office outside.

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Image credit:  nono farahshila on flickr

A 4 F (family, friends, football, food) Day

Friday, November 27th, 2009

too-much-partyYesterday was a dream come true—

or maybe a nightmare made just for you.

I hope ’twas the former, but just in case

remember that distance will help erase

the rudeness, the snipes, the downright bad manners

and before next year you can call the enchanters!

Now the turkey is gone, the year, too, almost

and I don’t really feel like doing this post,

so I’ll close with this thought for all my readers—

come back next week for more about leaders:)

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Image credit: richcianci on flickr

Ducks In A Row: What is Fairness?

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

ducks_in_a_rowYesterday I told you how monkeys lose productivity when treated unfairly.

Unlike the managers I described in that post, good managers know that unequal pay, but they also know that it’s not just a matter of title/grade.

Not everyone with the same title deserves the same compensation—in fact, to do so would be extremely unfair!

Most companies establish a range for each job and some guidelines within each range, but the guides frequently fall short of what’s needed in the real world.

How do you draw the lines to achieve fairness?

You might think that ‘fair’ is some kind of universal one-size-fits-all yardstick, but all the people I’ve talked with over the years define ‘fair’ relative to themselves and those around them.

Developers working in a small local company didn’t compare their salaries to the developers in IBM, nor to their bosses. They compared them to their peers, i.e., similar job, experience, background, company, industry, location and, lastly, title.

Workers are well aware that every position has a salary range; what they want is for their level within that range to make sense.

The problems arise when the person they sit next to gets X more dollars or a promotion for reasons such as those mentioned yesterday, reasons having nothing to do with skill, experience, attitude or actual work.

This is the critical knowledge that helps you develop working guidelines for your company’s ranges.

Let’s say that ABC Corporation uses a three-level structure in engineering: engineer I, engineer II, and senior engineer and that there’s a $20K range within each level. They currently have five people who are Engineer II. The salary range is $60K – $80K. Of the current people:

  • Judy was recently promoted and is at $62K;
  • Jim, $68K, and Craig, $72K, both have been working for six years. Although Jim has an MBA, he started in sales engineering while Craig had three years’ experience in a specifically needed skill when he was hired.
  • Tracy is making mid-seventies with five years of direct experience; and
  • Kim, at $80K and due for promotion, has a Masters’ and 17 years of experience, 5 of them in ABC’s field.

Although they’re all Engineer II, because the salary differences are based on factual points, not charm, politics, or managerial whim, the group is satisfied that they’re being treated fairly.

As usual, it’s not rocket science, it’s common sense—but I’m starting to think that common sense is rocket science these days.

But fairness is about more than just pay; please join me next Monday for further discussion.

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Image credit:  ZedBee|Zoë Power on flickr

Quotable Quotes: Simon Wiesenthal

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

hateFor those of you too young to know, Simon Wiesenthal was an Austrian-Jewish architectural engineer until the advent of Hitler. He survived three death camps in a four year period and became a world renowned, or reviled depending on your sympathies, Nazi hunter.

Wiesenthal’s words may have their roots in the Holocaust, but they apply equally well to today’s geopolitical situation, as well as more mundane stuff like work. You might think I’m exaggerating, but if you tone down the power of his words you’ll find a reflection of the office bully; the pointy haired manager; and other situations you face on a daily basis.

If you know from history the danger, then part of the danger is over because it may not take you by surprise as it did your ancestors.

Ancestors aside, tracking the historical actions of the people in your world protects you from being taken unaware.

Violence is like a weed – it does not die even in the greatest drought.

There are many kinds of violence and not all of them involve bodily harm; psyches are gossamer; abuse exists in many contexts.

What connects two thousand years of genocide? Too much power in too few hands.

Think this doesn’t apply to business? Think of the lives destroyed by Enron, the banking crisis, Bernard Madoff—there are many kinds of death and the destruction of dreams and hope is a type that often goes unacknowledged.

For evil to flourish, it only requires good men to do nothing.

True since time began, but good men and women often do nothing in and out of the business world.

Technology without hatred can be a blessing. Technology with hatred is always a disaster.

Technology covers a great deal of ground; in itself it is benign, but, like a car, it can maim and kill when mixed with anger, fear, hate or carelessness.

Freedom is not a gift of heaven, you have to fight for it every day,

Your personal fight is against whatever enslaves or endangers you, no matter the source. Just be sure in fighting that you don’t inflict the same damage on your foes.

Humour is the weapon of unarmed people: it helps people who are oppressed to smile at the situation that pains them.

And it is humor that wreaks the most havoc on your foes in the business world.

Human rights is the only ideology that deserves to survive,

Ideology has cost our world its peace, prosperity and maybe its future. Ideology eliminates rationality; I honestly believe that the minute people start thinking ‘yours is wrong, mine is right’ the trouble begins—and usually escalates.

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Image credit: Liz Henry on flickr

Seize Your Leadership Day: Social Media: Smart, Stupid And Undecided

Saturday, November 14th, 2009

seize_your_daySocial media; stories about it are everywhere, but I find the most interesting are about what companies are doing and how its being used.

Let’s start with Twitter. Everybody has heard of Twitter, even people who have no idea what it is talk about it—like my friend’s great-granny. But it’s their smarts in innovation that is most impressive—they outsource it.

Twitter’s smart enough, or lucky enough, to say, ‘Gee, let’s not try to compete with our users in designing this stuff, let’s outsource design to them.’ –Eric von Hippel, head of the innovation and entrepreneurship group at the Sloan School of Management at M.I.T.

If you run a business these days you’re probably using Facebook or thinking about it—I know I am. So I found this article in the NY Times of great interest, especially since it’s written for folks, not pros.

You need to be where your customers are and your prospective customers are, and with 300 million people on Facebook, and still growing, that’s increasingly where your audience is for a lot of products and services. –Clara Shih, author of “The Facebook Era” (Pearson Education, 2009).

Do you know the key ingredient that helps police nab the bad guys? Stupidity—theirs. It used to be that they flashed their loot around and bragged to their friends, not they flash their loot and brag on Facebook.

Maxi Sopo thought he had made an excellent decision when he ran away to Cancun to escape a Seattle fraud prosecution. He also thought it would be a great idea to add a former Justice Department official as a friend and gush about his exploits on Facebook.

I love it when stupid gets stupider.

Last is an item that falls in the smart or stupid category—you decide. It asks the question; at what point does a CEO’s Facebook sharing cross the boundary to TMI (too much information)?

Recently Chip Conley, CEO of Joie de Vivre, a $230 million company with more than 3,000 employees, got enmeshed in a bit of a 2009 corporate culture snafu. Conley’s not your average Harvard MBA pinstriped buttoned-down corporate chieftan. He’s an entrepreneur. He writes his own rules. So to him, it wasn’t so strange to post some pictures of himself at the Burning Man whatever-it-is in the dessert on his Facebook fan page. Or to tweet on Twitter about the demise of his 8 year long relationship.

When his employees got upset he wrote about it on BNET. Read both articles and share your thoughts in comments.

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Image credit:  nono farahshila on flickr

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