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Do these points apply to you?
- you get 150-200 emails a day plus 30 phone calls and you are not a call centre agent but a manager or an executive
- you routinely find yourself engaged in remediation, fixing, making sure things happen – also known as firefighting
- you are in the narrow part of the funnel of every decision. In fact, you are the funnel – no decision seem to be possible without you
- people come to you with problems and leave them on your desk
- you are referred to as someone who would “make it happen”
- you find yourself taking on things that your admin assistant could easily do and probably should
- you compulsively check your Blackberry, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and whatnot many times a day
What’s happening? There seem to be a couple of trends at play here.
Firstly, in the age of omni-connectedness, being available at all times seems to be de riguer even for senior executives. I get emails from people asking me if they could call me. In fact, I feel somewhat shortchanged by not receiving a text message asking for a permission to send such an email to me. The amount of traffic, the unnecessary information, the interruptions is often so great that many feel compelled to “stay after hours to actually get the work done.”
Secondly, it is exceedingly common to see people charge with strategic work descend into the mire of tactical stuff, which sometimes borders on such sheer triteness that it is beyond any criticism. Wordsmithing, filling out forms, writing vapid “status reports,” checking that staff members submitted their timesheets, meetings ad nauseum with no substance to them … you name it!
Tactical stuff is comfortable. We know how to go about it, especially if this is something we did in our previous job.
Tactical stuff is rewarding: results can be observed rather quickly: a report sent out, a problem rectified, a simple decision made.
Tactical stuff feels like “real work” of which you are not afraid.
I think it’s time to practice a closed door policy. Stop being interrupted all the time. Explain to your people and others likely to seek our time that you won’t be available for a few hours a day. Demand that people bring you solutions and not problems. Stop meddling.
Close the office door and spend a couple of hours thinking or writing. Strategize. Communicate. Raise the brand awareness and the profile of your company or department. Design.
These will be the most productive hours of your day.
This short video is a great illustration on how IT departments often communicate with other functions within their organizations. Same language, same office, same coffee… yet a world apart…
I am happy to announce collaboration with a media outlet dedicated to outsourcing, in particular nearshoring. My articles will appear every couple of months.
In the first article I share my thoughts on three strategic errors in decision making on outsourcing. Read on…
Sounds harsh? Overblown? Too far fetched ?
I don’t think so but you be the judge. Read it here.
CNN has published this article on just another twist in the “talent battle” that does not exist. Read the article and the comments.
If you cannot hire people in this economy, in any economy, I don’t know if I’d trust you with watering plants or raking leaves. This is not just sad, this is a sheer disgrace for the woman in the picture and, as a result, for the organization she works for. Bad publicity and I wouldn’t want her to be a part of my organization.
This is a great example of how awful hiring practices can be and a reason for massive underemployment.
Dan Pink discusses motivation and refers to some of Dan Ariely’s surprising results.
Frederick Herzberg and David McClelland have done a significant amount of work in this area and if motivation is of interest to you, I suggest reading about their work. Herzberg’s hygiene theory, in particular, is absolutely solid
What Pink describes supports my own findings. For a practitioner, the gap between the scientific findings and the regular management practices are both apparent. The lack of volition among the vast majority of managers to change their practices is disconcerting. I am posting this to inspire enough people to reflect on their work and find their way to new exciting heights.
It is not easy to find a good tradesman, such as a plumber or an electrician. Really good ones seem to be booked up for months if not years and I was wondering, well, how long exactly does it take to develop that kind of a track record.
There is a roofer operating in the area where I live who I will call David here. When I asked another local tradesman if he could recommend anyone who is the best roofer around, he said that David is by far the best and probably the most expensive, however I’d have to get in line because he is booked solid for many months.
Apparently, he has a dozen guys working for him and they can strip and relay any roof faster and better than anyone around. They have the best tools on the market, some of which are customized. They take on complex and problem roofs that others don’t want to touch. Once the project is finished, the site is left spotless.
David is widely respected among other tradesmen who readily recommend his services, like it happened in my case.
David is 25 and has been in business for just about 5 years.
In organizations, we need to judge and reward people by the results they produce, not by their age, seniority, certifications, years on the job (doing the same thing all over again) or how carefully they fill out their time sheets or how much time they spend in the office.
In life, results is the only thing that matters. Seriously.
Cooking seems to be a popular hobby these days, in which many men and women partake. Specialty stores are doing quite well and there is an increasing number of TV shows (on its own Food TV channel in Canada and US). Bookstores carry an inordinate amount of literature on every imaginable aspect of food preparation.
Here is the question: why is a vocation considered a chore for centuries has become a popular avocation in the past 30 or so years?
I think that cooking has become popular for the following reasons:
- the barriers to entry are very low
- it’s a life skill that most learn to some extent anyway, as our lifestyles now dictate (college life, earlier starting to live on one’s own, etc)
- perception of cooking as “a woman’s job” is gone
- access to information on cuisines of other cultures have expanded the possibilities
- it is easier than ever to cook with gas and electric stoves, dishwashers, running water and modern tools and appliances
- cooking produces tangible results, quickly
- food has become more than nourishment, it is also an entertainment
- perception by others is positive, it is not a hobby you’d want to hide.
If you find that your employees find a particular activity a chore, be it annual budgeting or sales forecasting, I challenge you to find ways to make it appealing, much like the cooking has been transformed into a choice pastime of many.
My article on faulty beliefs in IT management has been turned into a video by CBS Techrepublic’s Editor-in-Chief Jason Hiner.
I was interviewed for an article on CIOZone: