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Posts Tagged ‘Management’

diversity is a lot more than just what’s easy to see

March 9th, 2018 No comments

 

Last week, I overheard a discussion where someone was complaining about too many assholes joining their team. As I listened, it became very apparent that the person was complaining about behaviors and perspectives that where different from their own. When I pointed out to them that different mindsets, opinions and behaviors was diversity, he became very belligerent telling me that diversity was either race or sex. Well Simon, yes, those are glaringly obvious and don’t require any thought which make them easy to spot. We were interrupted and this interchange got me thinking. I started to write this post highlighting how travel, our past, mindset’s and attitudes all impact diversity when I realized that I was missing the point.

No matter how we define diversity, the key is to respect the differences. To ask questions, to understand them and learn about them. While we can decide to return some perspectives to their owners, the key is respect. Respect their perspectives, especially if our’s are different.

 

So you want to be a People Manager

August 26th, 2015 No comments

Over the years, I have had many conversations with folks that considered the option of moving into people management.  For the purposes of this blog post, I am going to assume that as a new manager, you will be a team lead with people reporting directly to you.

Put others first

This is a big one and one that does not come easily.  Are you prepared to put the welfare of others ahead of your own?  e.g. When someone on the team messes something up and causes an issue, will you point them out and throw them under the bus?  Or will you take the heat and work with them to improve?  Are you prepared to wait for the team to succeed even if your boss wants you to deliver the project today?  Are you willing to work someone on improving their skills even if you can perform the task quickly and accurately in a fraction of the time it will take them?

Communication

Are you able to communicate what you need done in a manner that they understand and want to deliver?  This is critical because if you are not able to communicate what needs to be delivered in a clear and understandable manner, the team will not know what needs to be delivered.

Patience

Do you have the patience to let them make mistakes and learn?  Or even more difficult, do you have the patience for them to take twice as long to complete a task than you could do it yourself?

Tough Love

I used the term “Tough Love” here on purpose because I do not mean firing someone.  If you want to fire or tell people what to do, then you just failed on #1 because you are putting your wishes above those of others.  What I am referring to here,  is the ability, and willingness, to have difficult conversations that are beneficial to the person. A great example of this is appropriate dress code when meeting with customers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Awesome Article about great management behaviors

April 25th, 2012 No comments

I spent 5 minutes today reading an article by Geoffery James today.  It is a clear & concise article titled 8 Core Beliefs that make extraordinary bosses

Enjoy.

http://www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/8-core-beliefs-of-extraordinary-bosses.html

 

 

Categories: Behavior, Management Tags: ,

Hi-tech Company Org Charts

June 29th, 2011 No comments

Many a true word is spoken is in jest and I had to laugh when I saw this post showing the Org Charts of some of the large hi-tech companies.

The Org Charts Of All The Major Tech Companies (Humor)

 

Categories: Management Tags: ,

Signs of Incompetent Managers

January 27th, 2011 No comments

Earlier this week I downloaded a paper titled “Eight Signs of Incompetent Managers”.  The link to register and download the paper is at the bottom of the post.

Based on research that Profiles International conducted to identify America’s most productive companies, they identified the following Eight Signs of an Incompetent Manager

  1. Poor communication skills
  2. Weak leadership capabilities
  3. Inability or unwillingness to adapt to change
  4. Poor relationship-building skills
  5. Ineffective task management
  6. Insufficient production
  7. Poor developer of others
  8. Neglectful of own personal development
To get the details, you can download the paper here:

Trust

February 3rd, 2010 2 comments

I arrived early at a restaurant for a meeting and overheard a discussion while waiting for the others to arrive.   Here is an excerpt from their conversation that resonated with me.

They don’t get it!  They are oblivious to the fact that no one trusts their team. I mean they claim to be transparent but when we need information from them, need have to search for it ourselves.  I think it is short sighted on their behalf when they watch me search, even if we ask them for help and they don’t help.  Then when we find the information that we need, they claim that they are being transparent with us.  Yeah right!!

I discussed this behavior with a colleague and he was familiar with the behavior that was being discussed above.  He labeled it as “discovery driven disclosure”.  He also mentioned that he had experience with behavior in the past and it had been really difficult to partner with that team because  their behavior undermined trust.  As a result, the teams spent a lot of time questioning each other and not so much time collaborating which impacted their ability to successfully deliver a solution.

The comments and followup discussion got me thinking about Trust.

Trust is the basis of all relationships, both personal and professional. We all establish trust with others in our own manner.  We also have our own starting expectations for others when it comes to us trusting them.  Some of us will trust others with little evidence, giving them the benefit and assuming positive intent. Others expect the trust to be earned and start off with a much lower level of trust.

Building on this starting point for trust, let’s look at some of the other elements that influence how we establish trust.  The first one, is how the role that we perform affects the trust level. We all tend to trust people that have “earned” a higher standing.   For example, we expect the chef at a fine restaurant will use fresh ingredients and work in a pristine kitchen when they prepare our food. If that chef is from a Michelin 3 star rated restaurant, then the expectations will be even higher.

The final and most important  element is the impact of our actions.  Therefore we need to be conscious of the impact of our actions or inactions on our trust level.   Be careful of disingenuous behavior, disrespecting others, selfish behavior and of course lack of disclosure or transparency because these behaviors will impact our trust level negatively..

Pulling it together

To help illustrate how all of these areas relate to each other and how they impact the level of trust, here is a formula to help quantify the trust level.

a – Starting Expectations

b – Role

c – Actions

To use the formula, each of these variables needs to be assigned a number of between 0 and 5, with 5 being the highest rating.  Now just rate each of the elements and then total up the numbers.  This will provide you with a qualitative trust rating.  Having some of your customers, partners or employees provide you with their ratings, can be an eye-opening experience.

Regarding the evaluation of the total value.  This will be unique to you and you will need to determine what numbers you are comfortable with.  For me personally, the number needs to be above 10.  I also use the formula by assuming positive intent and therefore if I have not seen any actions or behaviors, I assign either a 4 or 5 and then evaluate again when I have more data.  Using the graphic below, the red area is the high risk area while the green is the safer area, naturally with the ideal being a perfect score.

I finish this post with a quote a Robin Sharma book:  Leadership Wisdom from the Monk who sold his Ferrari.

Being open and truthful also means that you take care of the little issues and skirmishes that come up every day before they escalate into full-blown wars.

Learning to ride a bicycle

December 3rd, 2009 No comments

Here is an extract from a recent conversation with one of my mentees, let’s call him Larry.  First off,  a little background:  I have been mentoring him for about 8 months and we work at the same company.  He is a manager of a team individual contributors that consists of engineers and project managers; the team is focused on solving various tactical business issues and therefore they tend to have 2 or 3 projects running in parallel with each project taking up to 90 days in duration.

Larry: “I never seem to have any time and I am working 60 hours weeks.”

Me: “Why, what are you spending your time on?”

Larry:  “I am super-busy ensuring that the projects that I am accountable for are getting done.” ………..he shared a lot of the details that I have removed from this post.

Me: “Humor me please, while he take a little detour into your past.  Can you remember when you learned to rides a bicycle?”

Larry:  “Yep”

Me:  “I assume that you rode a bicycle with training wheels for a while?”

Larry: “Yep and then my dad took them off.  He ran next to me a couple of times and I cannot remember when he let go.  I realized that he had let go when I started to turn around to ride back to the house and saw him standing in the street in front of me.” – he had a big smile on face while he shared this memory from his youth.

Me: “Did you fall?”

Larry: “Ouch, quite a few”

Me: “Was your dad there to pick you up when you fell?”

Larry: “Nope, but my Mom did provide the Band Aids”

Me: “So back to work:  Regarding your team, when are you going to let them go and allow them to ride by themselves?”

Larry, with a very started look on this face”  “But I cannot let them fail!”

Me: “Why not?”

Larry: “They might not recover”

Me: “Really?  Do you doubt their ability to learn from their mistakes?

Larry with a big smile on his face  “No!  But what happens when they fail?”

Me: “You give them a Band Aid and ask them how they are going fix things.  You just need to watch out for the cars to ensure that they do not get killed.”

Larry: “I get it!!  Thanks”

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Management is similar to teaching someone to ride a bicycle.  The trick is not to let go too soon because they will crash.  Too late and their learning will be stalled.  Once we have let go and they are off riding, we need to keep a look out for the cars to ensure that they are not hit by any cars.  In business terms, we need to give our people the room to make their own mistakes, and learn from them.  We must resist the urge to stifle them.  If they have the self awareness to stop and ask for feedback, then we need to be prepared to provide them with feedback on their behaviors to help them learn and grow.

Categories: Behavior, Management Tags:

Not delivering the results?

November 17th, 2009 4 comments

I don’t know about you but I have run into the situation where a great employee  is not delivering the results that the business needs.  Here is the question that I ask myself:

If I put that person in a Life or Death situation where they face death if they are unable to deliver the results.  Are they able to deliver the results?

And the options are:

  • if they are able to deliver the results: – then there is a motivation issue
  • if they are still not able to deliver the results: –  then there is a skills issue

I do not recommend that you put any of your people in a Life or Death situation.  For me, the ideal approach is to have conversations with them to determine what the issue(s) are.  As long as you have already established a culture where they can share issues without any repercussions, they will share with you.

Categories: Management, People Tags: ,

The Changing Face of Management

July 29th, 2009 No comments

Business has changed:  We have moved from business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) to Consumer to Consumer(C2C) model.  20 years ago C2C was pretty much limited to a swap meets.

I believe that the face of management has also changed.  There is a move from the pure hierarchical model where top-down rules to a more social form of leadership where the followers get to choose who they want to follow.

To me, there is a new social era of management where leadership plays a much larger role than before.  This is especially important when working with Millennials.

Here are some  key elements:

  • put your followers first
    • if you put yourself first, they will follow your lead
  • listen to your followers
    • feedback from your followers is important – listen to it!
  • grow your followers
    • provide feedback consistantly
  • trust your followers
  • share information with your followers
  • step out of the way and allow your followers to step into the vacuum – enabling you to move into something else

Hire for Today. And Tomorrow. But remember the investment required.

July 20th, 2009 No comments

I came across this blog post yesterday; it is by F. John Reh and titled Hire Talent, Not Just Skills – http://management.about.com/b/2009/07/06/hire-talent-not-just-skills.htm.

It got me thinking about how hiring the right person can solve both the short term and also the long term challenges that the business is facing.  Even the most talented candidate will require time to acclimatize before they can work on meeting the business needs.

However even with someone with immense talent, in addition to time, it takes an investment from the manager to provide the candidate with regular coaching sessions and also ensure that the opportunities are provided for the candidate.

I have seen managers totally ignore this responsibility and as a result not only does the company lose because it takes longer for their investment in the talented candidate to mature.  The candidate also loses because their career does not progress as they expected, which often creates a negative perception about that company.

The candidate is not without responsibility in this equation.  The candidate needs to evaluate both the managers and the company culture on growth.  After the candidate has joined, they now need to manage their growth and totally embrace the opportunities presented.

hire the best – a follow-up discussion

June 10th, 2009 No comments

Recently I had a conversation with a colleague about my post on “hiring the best”.  Our conversation hinged on the implications on the manager of hiring less than the best.  Here are some of the key points from our discussion.

less overhead on the manager

Both of us were of the opinion that it is much easier on the manager to have more capable people on our teams.  Although both of us had many exceptions come to mind where some highly skilled people lacked certain soft skills.  We are of the opinion that well rounded and skilled people  need little to no guidance from their manager. These people are also able to offload work from us, thereby allowing to focus our time in other areas.

impact on the team

Will Smith’s interpretation of an old Confucius analect  is: “You are who you associate with” and this is definitely holds true.  In my experience, all it takes is for one person to raise the bar resulting in a positive impact on the team and those who deal with the team.

irritation factor

Then there is the irritation factor.  This is when the junior person is not able to meet the expectations, or  interrupts fellow team members to ask for guidance.  The irritation level can grow quickly if the person does not have the soft skills needed or the mental horse power needed to learn quickly and perform.

learning vs adaptation

A junior person requires time to learn and get up to speed.  They have to improve on multiple fronts:  They need to learn how to fulfill the role and also learn the skills needed to deliver the goods.  This takes time, drive and effort.  To contrast this where the more experienced/senior person can adapt to the new environment.  Because they already have the skills, they are able to simply slot into the role and start to deliver the goods.

financial impact

Having spent many years with startups; I am sensitive to the impact on the cash flow that a senior and experienced person can have.  I do believe that hiring the best that you can afford is the best option for all concerned.  The return-on-investment (ROI) for the more skilled person far outweighs costs and in most cases I believe that a skilled person with soft skills is worth way more than a more junior and less capable person.

time

For the most part, the more junior the person, the longer it takes for them to be fully productive.  The more senor people are able to be productive in days or weeks and not months or years.

flexibility

This can be a massive challenge and I have seen ot go both ways and therefore is one of my hiring requirements now.

capability

By hiring the person that is most capable also increases the team’s capability to deliver more and faster.  Because the team is more capable, they are able to achieve more and therefore win more.  Winning leads to more winning.

Categories: Behavior, Management, People Tags:

Feedback for Managers

April 25th, 2009 Comments off

In a previous blog post titled: feedback, I covered how to make the best of feedback that is provided to us.  Now let’s take a look at how to give feedback to others in a structured manner.  Providing feedback to others, such as our directs, it is not good enough just to create the awareness.  As managers we also need to define what the desired state or behavior is and follow it up with the definition of the plan to make changes.  So let’s look at the 3 distinct sections of the feedback:  Providing the feedback, defining desired state or behavior, determining plan of action based on feedback, and finally the ongoing coaching.

manager-feedback-graphic1

Providing the feedback

Like all feedback, it is imperative to provide the feedback in a way that the recipient of the feedback can understand it.

  • Deliver the feedback in a manner that creates the awareness about the behavior and also leaves them with incentives to address the behavior.  The goal is for the person that is hearing the feedback, to be motivated to take the feedback and make some improvements.
  • It helps to ask them if you can provide them with feedback about a behavior or situation that is still fresh in their memory.  Providing feedback once a year from a laundry list does not help the person improve.
  • It does help to explain the impact of the persons behavior on you or team.
  • Feedback needs to be about things that people do well and areas that they can improve.
  • Here are some Do’s
    • Ask for permission to provide the feedback.  This ensures that the person is receptive.  If they say No, find out why and what time would be better.
    • Explain how the behavior makes you feel.  Because it is your feelings, no one can argue with you about you feel.
    • Always speak in the first person about yourself or your team. Use terms such as I’s, me, my team, etc.
    • Exact instances and stick with the facts.
    • Timely feedback, provide the feedback within days of the event or cause of the feedback.
    • For your directs provide regular feedback.  Praise is also feedback.
  • Here are some Do Not’s
    • Feedback in a public forum is not feedback, it is public humiliation.
    • Do not pass judgment.  No one likes to be told that they are an idiot.
    • Do not only provide feedback about behaviors that need improvement.  Also provide feedback about things being done well.
    • Do not dredge up hearsay or rumors.

Defining the desired state/behavior

The feedback only creates the awareness, as managers we also need to show the way.  Therefore rounding out the feedback by providing the light at the end of the tunnel and defining the desired behavior or state provides the person with guidance on what the goal posts look like.  In most cases this also goes a long way because it balances out the negative feedback by helping the person by defining what is the desired state.  Having discussed the desired state or behavior, have the person define how they see the end state to ensure that they see it in a similar manner.  Ensuring that you are aligned at this stage is important because you do not want them heading off in another direction.  For the person receiving the feedback, they get to understand where the goal posts are and what they look like.

Plan of action

In our role as managers, we are responsible for providing guidance for our people and therefore after making the direct aware via feedback, and establishing the desired state/behavior.  We now need to ensure that the desired state or behavior modification is achieved.  This requires a plan of action that both parties agree to with specific milestones that allows for progress tracking.

Ongoing coaching

Sometimes the direct needs additional guidance as they attempt to modify their behavior.  They need to feel comfortable to come and ask for additional guidance, either from you or from others.  Remember coaching is asking questions in a manner that allows the person to solve the problem for themselves and not corrective instructions.

Why should I do this?

I have had many discussions with my directs where they are not comfortable with exerting this level of guidance on their directs.  Many of them felt that this was looking for conflict.

Look at providing feedback as the gift that it is.  Most people like gifts.

Managing Expenses Proactively

March 11th, 2009 No comments

Considering the recession that we find ourselves in, I guess it is not surprising that I find myself having many discussions about how to handle the situation where cuts needs to be made.  Unfortunately, I have watched many leaders take an overly optimistic view and totally underestimate the dip of the market and then over estimate their available resources to weather the storm.  For startups with limited resources, this can be fatal.

market-trend-2

In this graphic, I have used the blue line to denote the revenue coming into a company.  The red line denotes the expense reductions that the company is making with the exact points of reduction marked with the A, B, C and D markers.  The area marked in green between the two lines is the bad zone for companies without sufficient reserves to weather the downturn.  Unfortunately, I have also seen  the plug getting pulled because of insufficient funds.

Although this approach is fairly common, it tends to have a rather disastrous affect on the people in the company.  The people are under continuous threat of additional cuts and therefore some of them resort to some rather significant self preservation behaviors.  In these circumstances, the teamwork takes a backseat and as such the productivity also take a massive hit.  In addition, talent retention is an issue and in most cases the best people walk first, because they can, leaving the lower caliber folks behind.

market-investment

This graph shows a totally different behavior and the blue line shows the incoming revenue while the green line shows expenditure.  In this case the expenditure has been drastically reduced when the incoming revenue has declined.  In this graph, I have created the impression that there is very little between the incoming revenue and the expenditure but there are some very successful companies that follow this model but have a much healthier buffer between the the incoming revenue and the expenditure.  In this case, cuts in expenditure are made at points A and B and these cuts do mean job cuts.  Nothing should be spared from the cuts.  e.g. it is far better to sacrifice the free sodas instead of your office mate.

The purple area is where the company is doubling down and investing for the market upturn.  This investment, provides the company with a head start on their competitors.  This approach has some significant benefits because the people trust the management more because they are actively managing the situation.  In addition because a strategy is being followed, it creates an open environment that is predictable for the employees and leads to much less fear and uncertainty.  I have found this approach to be much more acceptable to the high performers and therefore allows you keep the staff that you want to keep.

hire the best

February 24th, 2009 No comments

I recently had a conversation with some managers regarding their hiring criteria.  They were looking at candidates that could fulfill the role that was advertised. I presented them with a different perspective that has caused much followup discussion.

hire_the_best_iIn the graphic above, the yellow dot indicates the work capability of the team.  The blue dot is meant to indicate the expected contribution of candidate.

hire_the_best_iiIn this graphic, the green dot indicates another candidate with what we expect to be able to contribute more than the blue dot.  Bringing someone into the team that is capable of a higher level of work output also tends to raise the output level of the whole team.   One of the people that benefits significantly from this addition, is the team manager.  The higher the level of the people on the team, the more the manager can delegate, thereby allowing the team manager to expand into other areas.

Therefore simply by bringing in a more capable person into the team, the productivity of the team expands beyond the yellow to include both the yellow and the orange.  And over time, it will only increase.

moving into management

January 13th, 2009 No comments

One of the common questions I get about moving to the next level via the management road.  i.e.  should I move from an individual contributor role into management ?  Or should I move into a 2nd level management position from a 1st level management position?  To help highlight the difference, here is how I see the differences.

Individual Contributor

  • deliver the results
  • role skills – the skills are task related
  • communication skills definitely help
  • realistic work forecasting is a significant benefit

1st level manager

  • care about the people on the team
  • deliver the results as part of the team
  • still have the role skills – not only for IC deliverables but also for coaching employees
  • IC recruiting
  • communication skills
  • start to understand how to grow people
  • need to do work allocation for the team
  • responsible for the well being of the team
  • work forecasting needs to be done for the team
  • soft skills to deal with people (down, peer and up)
  • delegation – most difficult one – how to delegate work to the team

2nd level manager

  • people
  • deliver the results through the work of others
  • people growth
  • manager recruiting
  • succession planning
  • communication, negotiation and conflict resolution skills
  • realistic work forecasting needs to be done for the team
  • need to deal across groups, ideally joint objectives
  • soft skills to deal with people
  • budgeting
  • manage team visibility

Please let me know if I missed anything.

change and stress

January 6th, 2009 No comments
change stress distress graphic

impact of change on us

Based on my experience of dealing with people across the globe, I believe that change always has an impact us.  The actual change event can be fairly small, the impact on us manifests itself as stress. In the change-stress-distress graphic, the black circle is the actual change.  The perceived impact of the change will cause stress, which is shown in green.  The stress level is still fine because it has not crossed our tolerance level, shown in red.  This is key because when the stress expands to more than our tolerance level, the stress becomes distress.

when the stress becomes distress

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distress

As you can see in the graphic on the left, all that is visible is the red, which means distress.  For people in this situation, it is now a rescue situation where the first priority is to rescue the person from the distressful situation.

stress

..

.Unfortunately just because the person is no longer in distress, it does not mean that we can work on the change yet.  Looking at stress graphic on the right, we still cannot see the change and therefore we cannot work on the change.  We still need to get the stress under control and only then can the change be addressed.

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