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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Month: September, 2006

Meeting Productivity

30 September, 2006 (20:09) | Management, Meetings, Productivity, Time Management | By: Administrator

It is easy for managers to become inundated with meetings. What can be done to make meetings more productive.

Joe Kerr: I do not really like meetings, but they are part of the job. I go to about 6 of them per day. I’m not sure how to make them more efficient, but I do know how to use them to my advantage. I’ll let you in on my 4 simple rules of thumb.

  1. If it is only your team members in attendance show up a few minutes late. You are the boss. It’s expected. It shows everyone how busy you are.
  2. Pipe up early on in the meeting. It too shows you are in charge. You’ll be surprised. You really do not need to know what is going on. Just use something like “collaboration” in a sentence. You can’t go wrong using the word “collaboration” in any meeting.
  3. If your boss is in attendance, make sure you repeat one of his/her favorite sayings from one of those leadership books. For instance, There’s no silver bullet. Let’s not focus too much on the tools. Let’s tend to the process first. If this strategy does not get you a raise, nothing will. Your boss will just eat it up.
  4. Close strong. It’s always good to throw in a peppy ending. I try to work in “blocking and tackling” at least once in every meeting. Then I mix in any other cliche I can think of. It can be a good way to close. For example, “Guys, this is where the rubber meets the road. It’s basic blocking and tackling. Let’s look through the windshield and not the rear view mirror. Buy low sell high. Let’s get ‘er done!”.

Wanda B. Goode: Most meetings are very unproductive for a few reasons. First, they are run poorly. Second, the attendees do not come prepared. Third, there are usually too many attendees, making the meetings useless to some and extending their length. Here are a few rules of thumb that I use for most of my meetings.

  1. If you can accomplish something without a meeting don’t have a meeting.
  2. Invite only those that need to attend. Additional parties can be included in the distribution of minutes or can be contacted as needed afterward.
  3. Send out an agenda.
  4. Prepare for the meeting beforehand and insist that others do the same.
  5. Arrive on time.
  6. Start on time. If you start on time all the time, people will begin to get the message that they must be on time as well. Oh, and dropping off some of you personal possessions on the conference table doesn’t count! You need to be in the chair.
  7. Keep to topic. Tactfully cut off the ramblers. Ensure you accomplish what you set out to accomplish.
  8. Take minutes with action items that have teeth.

I find that when I execute these rules, things actually get accomplished, people tend to show up and show up on time, and interestingly enough, there do not have to be as many meetings.

Management Complacency?

24 September, 2006 (19:18) | Management, Personal Development, Success | By: Administrator

It’s not all that unusual for a mid-level manager to lose interest with his/her job.  Frequently the people are nice.  The pay is decent.  But, there’s not much satisfaction or sense of accomplishment.  It’s all too easy to become hardened by the insanity of corporate America as well.  What’s a manager to do?  Let’s check in with Joe and Wanda.

Joe Kerr:  Are you kidding me?  Everyone is bored with his or her job.  That’s why they call it work.  Just sit tight, relax, and stay under the radar.  Go bowling after work.  Volunteer with the Scouts.  That’s the way to add a little variety.  Before you know it, it’ll be time to retire and cash in on that 401k.

Wanda B. Goode:  I’m always in favor of changing things from the inside first.  Try to re-invent your job.  Are there ways you could be doing things differently?  Are their an projects that you can volunteer to do that will improve your department or company?  Sometimes making even the smalles t of improvements can bring quite a bit of satisfaction.  Pursuing another job within the company is another option.  I prefer to consider internal options prior to making a decision to jump ship and/or contemplate a career change.

One key to job satisfaction is to get involved with things that you really enjoy doing.  Sounds simple, but sometimes it’s not all that easy to determine what we enjoy.  Some go their entire lives trying to figure out what they want to be when they grow up.  The classic book, What Color is Your Parachute, has some very good exercises hat can help.  There are many other resources too, but there’s no silver bullet.  The important thing is to persist with the search.  Don’t give up.  Find out what you really want to do and then do something about it – work some of those enjoyable activities into your current job, or find another job where you can.


12 September, 2006 (20:00) | Employee Retention, Leadership, Management | By: Administrator

Recognition is a popular management topic.  It typically generates some lively discussion.  Let’s check in with Joe and Wanda to get their thoughts on how to recognize team members upon successful completion of a project when there are budget limitations.

Joe Kerr:  Recognition?  The team members get paid don’t they?  They ought to feel lucky they have a job! 

Wanda B. Goode:  This is a tough spot for a manager.  It’s important to recognize team members for a job well done, but there is a danger of trivializing the accomplishment with recognition that doesn’t match the effort.  I have met success with a combination of strategies in the past —  1) Customizing the recognition for each person.  2) Making it public – presenting and reading aloud an award letter in a team meeting or other public forum.  3) Including some time off if company policy allows it.   This falls under the budget radar and is very much appreciated by most employees.  

Team members are smart.  They know when money is tight.  Putting in some extra effort and getting a bit creative lets them know their work is valued and can make up for the lack of funds.