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: January, 2007

Making Tough Decisions

27 January, 2007 (10:18) | Leadership, Management | By: Administrator

Most managers have to balance people, customers, and financials. They are called on to make difficult decisions. Let’s check in with Joe and Wanda and see how they approach difficult decisions.

Joe Kerr: I made my best decision a long time ago. It was to never, ever make a difficult decision. Doing so has only gotten me into trouble. I Stick with the policies and procedures and directives from my boss. If someone is looking for a decision that falls outside that area, I simply stall, ignore the issue completely, or let one of my reports handle it. Usually, over time, it will go away. Occasionally there is some fall out, but I’ve never heard of anyone getting fired for being slow to make a tough decision. I’m in it for the long haul. This one decision has served me quite well over the years.

Wanda B. Goode: Making tough decisions is what a manager’s job is all about. I have improved with experience, but it doesn’t seem to ever get any easier. In general, What I like to do when confronted with a tough decision is: quickly collect information surrounding the issue (delaying can be crippling to the organization); come up with a couple of options; evaluate the pros and cons of each; and then pull the trigger. I monitor the results and take corrective action as necessary. Occasionally I’m wrong and an apology is necessary. It’s all part of the learning process. I just try to learn from the mistakes and try not to repeat them.

Budget Setting Challenges

9 January, 2007 (21:39) | Management | By: Administrator

Like most managers, Joe and Wanda just went through the budget setting process. As is frequently the case, they were asked to reduce expenses. Let’s check in with them to see how they handled things this year.

Joe Kerr: Yup, we were asked to cut another 5% this year. I’m very familiar with the drill. Good thing I spent the extra money I had toward the end of the year. If I hadn’t my run rate would have been lower and I would have had to cut more. You need to work the system to survive in this business. When you are asked to save 10%, save 10% – No more, no less. Squeeze money from the vendors, maybe take some from the salary or training budget, pick up your bonus for meeting the financial targets, and look to do it all again next year. 

Wanda B. Goode: It’s tough when you are asked to cut the budget year after year. In the corporate world, the cuts are usually the same straight across the board. Last year the team exceeded the expense target and we provided some real added value when we implemented a critical project on time. I actually worked with the team to put a business case together to increase our budget for the coming year. It was a lot of work. We redid it about 5 times before a decision was made. Well, we didn’t get an increase, but we didn’t have to cut either, so it was worth it. We were one of the few groups in the company that didn’t have to reduce our budge this year. That doesn’t mean we had it easy. We still needed to make some cuts in certain areas to enable us to meet our project demands with a flat budget.

I got together with the team and solicited input. They came up with some great ideas. It’s amazing what happens when team members are asked to participate. Not only do they come up with ideas, but they have a vested interest in them and work very hard to make them successful.

One thing I really try to avoid is decreasing training costs. Training is so critical to the long term success of the employees and the company. This year we did have to cut a bit, but we came up with some creative ideas to meet our training needs. Overall, the budget process was a burdensome one, but I think we are well positioned for the New Year.