Joe and Wanda on Management

Joe Kerr and Wanda B. Goode, two characters from Nick McCormick’s book, “Lead Well and Prosper,” dispense their management wisdom

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Category: Training

Continuous Learning

5 June, 2012 (22:20) | Leadership, Leadership Development, Management, Training | By: Administrator

In Debra Benton’s new book, The Virtual Executive, she has some great quotes about continuous learning…

There are two basic needs in life: procreation and education. The first enables humankind to survive, the second enables you to survive.

If you don’t continue to learn, your ROI will stand for “return on ignorance.”

Ignorance makes simple things 10 times more difficult than they should be and difficult things nearly impossible.

Comments, Joe and Wanda?

Joe Kerr: Haven’t had a whole lot of education post college, but I have done my share of procreating. So, I definitely have that going for me. Humankind owes me a debt of gratitude.

Wanda B. Goode: Great quotes. Learning is so important. The hard part is making the time to do it. It’s easy to get swept up in the day-to-day of our busy jobs and neglect our education. We need to block off some time each week for ourselves and encourage our team members to do the same.

Some related quotes and a related post

“Why don’t they pass a constitutional amendment prohibiting anybody from learning anything? If it works as well as prohibition did, in five years Americans would be the smartest race of people on Earth.”
— Will Rogers

“The purpose of learning is growth, and our minds, unlike our bodies, can continue growing as long as we live.”

Three Ways to Promote Continuous Learning

Phil Humbert’s 52 Week Challenge

6 December, 2009 (15:33) | Leadership Development, Strategy/Goals, Training | By: Administrator

Philip Humbert is a success coach that has been writing a weekly newsletter for 13 years. I’ve been enjoying and learning from it for a few. In his most recent letter he poses a challenge.

In 2010, you’ll have 52 weeks to achieve whatever you wish. In 52 weeks you can transform anything, from your relationships to your personality, even your bank account. You can change careers in 52 weeks. You can marry the person of your dreams, learn a new language or sail around the world in 52 weeks. What will you do in the coming year?

Joe/Wanda, any thoughts?

Joe Kerr: I think I’ll have an affair. That shouldn’t take very long. Then I’ll have the rest of the year to coast!

Wanda B. Goode: I like Phil’s challenge. Spend a couple hours a week at anything and you’ll get good at it. Pick something and start doing it.

Here are a couple of related posts.

The Importance of Being a Continuous Learner

Three Principles for Helping You Learn a New Career or Job Skill

The Benefits of Training

4 May, 2009 (22:55) | Employee Retention, Leadership, Management, Training | By: Administrator

In his book, What Were They Thinking? Jeffrey Pfeffer notes that a country’s or company’s competitive advantage in the current economy depends primarily on its people’s skill, talent, and educational attainment – its human capital.

He goes on to cite a study on the cost-effectiveness of 18 corporate training programs that found the average improvement of employee job performance after training to be 17% and the ROI to be 45% for management training and 418% for sales and technical training.

Why? Because training, when effectively organized and delivered, provides the following benefits:

  1. Employees learn the skills and knowledge that enhance their performance.
  2. Reciprocity kicks in. Employees see the investment made in them by their employer. In return they work harder and become more loyal.
  3. Building of skills and abilities raises sense of competence and capability. Employees perform at a higher level because they have confidence in themselves.

So, why are we so quick to cut training budgets?

Joe Kerr: I haven’t taken a training class in 20 years, and look where I am! Management training is a joke. If anything, it probably set me back a couple of years.

Wanda B. Goode: I can think of a couple of reasons. First, it’s hard to quantify the benefits of training, but it’s very easy to quantify the savings when it’s dropped. Second, I think to Joe’s point (sort of), sometimes training programs are either poorly designed or poorly delivered. Frequently employees don’t even get a chance to use the training that they receive. In some cases, as with management training for instance, employees find that lessons/behaviors taught in the class are not adhered to, and in fact, managers are rewarded for the opposite. Whatever the reason, instead of fixing the problem(s), it’s easier to just throw in the training towel.

Here are a couple of additional posts on the topic.

In Tough Economic Times, the Expedient Budget Cut is not always the Proper Budget Cut

Leadership Thought of the Day

How to Stay Employed

7 November, 2008 (01:04) | Personal Development, Podcast - Management Tips, Training | By: Administrator

Wooden Nickel - Management Tips 4

Michael Krigsman offers up some advice on how to stay employed in these challenging economic times. Although the focus is on those in the IT field, the advice can apply to just about anyone. If you have about 7 minutes to spare, listen in.

icon for podpress  Michael Krigsman's Management Tip [7:30m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Managers are Judged by Two Criteria

6 August, 2008 (22:30) | Leadership, Management, Training | By: Administrator

In his book, The Wisdom of the Flying Pig, Jack Hayhow mentions that there are two criteria by which managers are judged…

The first criterion is the productivity of the manager’s workgroup. How much work gets done, and what is the quality of that work?

The second criterion is about the people. Are they learning and growing and becoming more valuable to the organization? And just as important, how long are they staying? Turnover is crippling to productivity, and it’s expensive.

Jack then asks the question, “Are your people more productive working for you than they would be working for someone else? Are they growing more?”

Care to answer that one Joe and Wanda?

Joe Kerr: I’d love to see somebody try and get more out of my people than I do! As for growing, they have one hell of a mentor in Yours Truly.

Wanda B. Goode: Sometimes I’m not too sure. I can get so wrapped up in my own activity that I forget that I’m really supposed to be helping the team. Sometimes team members don’t even want my help. It takes time and effort to convince them that growing is not only in the company’s interest but theirs as well. I definitely need to carve off more time for the team. We’ll all benefit in the long run.

How about all of you managers out there? Can you answer Yes to Jack’s two questions?

For more of Jack’s views, check out this interview.

Coaching Directs

16 March, 2008 (20:14) | Management, Training | By: Administrator

I was over on the Manager Tools website and listened to a podcast on the importance of coaching direct reports. The hosts explain some of the reasons managers seem to have an aversion toward coaching. They dispel the myth that it takes a tremendous amount of time. According to them, all it takes is 5 minutes per week for each direct report.

They make the case that managers who communicate regularly that they need to see notable improvement, provide guidance on how to do so, and measure progress will noticeably outperform the managers that do not. Further, organizations filled with these managers will drastically outperform others.

They compare these brief coaching sessions to a performance fitness program. Managers and their teams get stronger every day, so they are ready to take advantage of opportunities and weather any storms.

Check out the podcast here.

Joe, you’ve made it abundantly clear that you are not big into coaching so I think I’ll go right to Wanda on this one.

Joe Kerr: Hold the phone there bud! I can coach with the best of them. You should have seen my Knute Rockne “win one for the Gipper” speech the other day. We needed to hit a deadline and I had to step up and make sure we crossed the goal line. I was the Gipper by the way. It was a bad week for the market. I really took a bath. I let them know how important it was for me to hit my numbers this year – to avoid having to cancel my golf vacation in Boca. I find real life stories that are close to home are the most inspirational.

Moderator: Did you make the deadline?

Joe Kerr: Not exactly, but it was one hell of a speech. I wish I had taped it.

Moderator: How about you Wanda, any thoughts?

Wanda B. Goode: I certainly agree in the importance of coaching. In his book, Why Employees Don’t Do What They’re Supposed to Do and What to Do About It, Ferdinand Fournies points out that many mistakenly believe that just hiring the right people is all it takes – Just let them go and do their thing. If that were the case we wouldn’t need managers, just good recruiters.

Tom Peters – “Brand You”

3 March, 2008 (23:19) | Leadership Development, Personal Development, Training | By: Administrator

In his book, Talent, Tom Peters exhorts the readers to create their own personal brand — their “Brand You.” We are free agents in the knowledge economy — no longer slaves of the cubicle.

He includes an exercise called the “Personal Brand Equity Evaluation,” which is made up of the following sections:

  • I am known for…
  • Next year at this time I will also be known for…
  • My current project is challenging me in these ways…
  • New things I’ve learned in the last 90 days include…
  • My public “recognition program” consists of…
  • Additions to my Rolodex in the last 90 days include…
  • My resume today is discernibly different from my resume last year at this time in these ways…

Joe and Wanda, care to comment?

Joe Kerr: Listen, I manage people. I lead people. I know all there is to know about that. There’s nothing new under the sun. Nothing’s changed since I started out, and nothing will. People are people. Regardless of the industry… regardless of the technology, management is all about getting people to do what you want them to do. It’s what I do best. I don’t see a need to “re-invent” myself every year.

Wanda B. Goode: It is very important that we continue to learn new things. It increases our value to our organization as well as in the marketplace. It’s our insurance policy in a world where no one job or employer provides security. Answering the above list of items and revisiting it frequently seems like a good way to encourage and track learning and growth.

For more on “Brand You” Check out this blog post.

Managers Set the Example

27 February, 2008 (00:04) | Leadership, Management, Training | By: Administrator

Covey calls it modeling. Most just call it setting an example. Wally Bock’s has a great post on his 3 Star Leadership Blog about how leaders don’t always set the best example.
His father told him, “Remember, son, everyone is put here by God for a purpose. Some are to serve as horrible examples.” Unfortunately, far too many managers are serving in this capacity. Click here for more on Wally’s story.

Care to comment Joe and Wanda:

Joe Kerr: You know what my father told me? He quoted Carlos Castaneda who said, “A warrior is a hunter. He calculates everything. That’s control. Once his calculations are over, he acts. He lets go. That’s abandon. A warrior is not a leaf at the mercy of the wind. No one can push him; no one can make him do things against himself or against his better judgment. A warrior is tuned to survive, and he survives in the best of all possible fashions.” I am a warrior. That’s how I manage. That’s how I live. That’s my example.

Wanda B. Goode: As managers, whether we like it or not, we are always teaching. Both our actions and our inactions speak volumes. We should harness this power to positively influence others.

Michaels on Employee Development

22 February, 2008 (00:29) | Management, Training | By: Administrator

In his book, The War for Talent, Ed Michaels relays the following findings collected from the feedback of 12,000 managers:

“When you talk about development, … most people think about training. Training is 10% of the development equation. Fifty percent is the sequence of jobs that you have, and 40% is the coaching and mentoring and candid feedback that you have or don’t have.”

These managers further revealed that “their companies were way under-delivering a sequence of stretch jobs and even more under-delivering coaching feedback and mentoring.”

Joe Kerr: You can’t pin this one on me. I frequently take the youngsters under my wing and show them the ropes. Why, the other day, I helped Harry out with his golf grip. Probably shaved 5 strokes off his game! My door is always open, and the troops know it.

Wanda B. Goode: It is unfortunate that managers don’t take the time to teach and mentor their employees. Teaching is one of the 15 Strategies in, Lead Well and Prosper. Providing honest and timely feedback is another. Both are critical to achieve success as a manager

We seem to constantly shoot ourselves in the foot. We talk about increasing productivity, but we don’t do what it takes to achieve it – i.e. develop our employees. Yes it takes time, but the rewards in the long term are significant – a more productive, innovative, and engaged workforce.

For more on the “art of mentoring” check out this post.

‘Cause They Don’t Know How

6 February, 2008 (00:10) | Leadership, Management, Training | By: Administrator

In Why Employees Don’t Do What They’re Supposed to Do, and What to Do About It, Ferdinand F. Fournies, explains one of reasons: They don’t know how to do it… and here’s why…

  1. Managers assume they already know how to do it
  2. Managers believe they are teaching when they are telling
  3. Managers decide not to waste the time needed for teaching

Joe and Wanda, what are your thoughts?

Joe Kerr: I like to think I’m dealing with professionals. A man can dream, right? If my people can’t handle simple instructions, I divorce them – after ripping them a new one, of course! I send them to Charlie. He has plenty of time for hand holding over in Accounting. In fact, they seem to thrive in the land of the pansies. Some people just can’t cut it in this high pressure cooker world of mine.

Wanda B. Goode: We’ve talked about the importance of teaching in past posts. There’s also a chapter dedicated to it in Lead Well and Prosper. I’ve certainly been guilty of the first two reasons myself. It’s important, especially when the task is new to the employees, or the employees are new to the job, to test their knowledge and follow up accordingly. In a lot of cases telling is not good enough. The employees need to achieve a level of understanding beyond the rote memorization of steps. I think most would agree that once employees understand, odds of successfully completing tasks increases. It is also necessary if we expect employees to improve upon current processes.

As for the last reason, we see that all the time. It’s the classic pay me now or pay me later many times over scenario. In an effort to save both time and money in the short term by having people “learn on the fly,” mistakes are inevitably made resulting in higher costs and more time spent cleaning up.

For more good information, check out this post on 10 keys for employee training success.