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: August, 2007

Bill Russell on Listening

29 August, 2007 (00:33) | Communication, Leadership, Management | By: Administrator

In his book Russell Rules, Basketball legend Bill Russell says the following about listening…

“If lack of listening was an illness, it would be an epidemic. One of the consequences of a society that can’t and won’t listen is a shallowness of understanding, a lack of appreciation for anything but the simple minded… Listening is essential to winning. If you don’t listen, you can’t win.”

Thoughts Joe and Wanda?

Joe Kerr: What did you say? No, I’m serious. You lost me with the shallowness thing. That was one long quote. Actually, I’m trying to get myself quoted. I’ve really enjoyed borrowing from others over the years, but I want a quote that I can call my own. I wouldn’t call it an obsession, but I think about it an awful lot, like in our weekly status meeting. My mind’s always working on something creative. I just can’t help it, I’m an innovator.

Wanda B. Goode: Tough to argue with that quote. I find that no matter how much I think I know about a particular topic, I can always learn more from others. Team members are closest to the customer, so they have a wealth of information, knowledge, and ideas. My job is to create an environment where they willingly contribute their thoughts, even if they are not in agreement with mine. Not many things build trust more than when a manager admits her idea is wrong (or not the best) and takes the advice of a team member. So, I frequently solicit input from team members, do what I can to help implement their ideas, make sure they get full credit, and thank and reward them for their contributions.

Communication Problems

20 August, 2007 (15:38) | Communication, Management, Team Building | By: Administrator

Why don’t we communicate more openly and freely?

We all know the importance of good communication, yet we never seem to do enough of it, and when we do communicate, it’s often incomplete, not candid, or misplaced. There appear to be a number of reasons for this… 

  1. It takes time, which is never in abundance 
  2. Managers and team members hoard information for job security purposes  
  3. Managers don’t trust employees with certain information 

Joe and Wanda, how would you assess the state of communication in your groups?

Joe Kerr: First, let me say, if you haven’t already picked up on it, I am a master communicator. You already know about my pep talks and my knack for keeping the troops on their toes. I also happen to specialize in non-verbal cues. For instance, a simple smile from yours truly directed toward a team member lights up her/his day.

I’m really open to new ideas too. We have a suggestion box around the office someplace. People can suggest anything they want. They know I’m all about continuous improvement.

Wanda B. Goode: Communication within the team is fairly good. The team members frequently communicate informally with one another. There is a lot of white-boarding in cubes. They grab a conference room to work out problems or talk them over at lunch. Team members seem fairly comfortable approaching me. Our employee survey data supports that as well. I have meetings once/month with team members to give each a bit of one-on-one time. I also share division and company news with them at regularly scheduled meetings. I actually wish I had more to share. The information is scarce, often sugarcoated, and incomplete. Not sure what the reasons are, but I’m well aware of the results. It creates an atmosphere of distrust. I’ve been working with my manager to try to see what can be done to improve the situation.

Is the Team better this Year than Last?

12 August, 2007 (20:54) | Productivity, Strategy/Goals | By: Administrator

Joe and Wanda, is your team performing better this year than last year, and how do you know?

Joe Kerr: They most certainly are, and I know that for a fact. I’ve been really cracking the whip this year. I knew we were going to have to raise the bar so I’ve also stepped up my pep talks. We’re a little shy of our financial targets this year, but that’s caused by the economy more than anything else. It’s really a miracle we’re still in this thing. I just hope management appreciates my effort to keep this team firing on all cylinders.

Wanda B. Goode: We’re performing slightly better this year than last according to the 2 metrics that we’ve been tracking. It’s still a bit early to get too excited. We just implemented our metrics program a little over a year ago. We started with two metrics to try to keep the data collection fairly simple. Our customer service metric has improved by 10% compared to last quarter. That’s been our main focus. We put a plan in place to improve. We’re still a bit below our target, but we’re headed in the right direction.

Passed Over for Promotion? What to Do?

8 August, 2007 (00:43) | Leadership, Management, Personal Development, Success, Workplace Dynamics | By: Administrator

Occasionally as managers we become eligible for promotions. We don’t always get them. Joe and Wanda, how do you handle it when you get passed over for a promotion?

Joe Kerr: First thing I do is take it out on the team. I ask them to jump through some hoops for me. I need to get a good power fix to prove that I still have some juice. I typically get over it in a couple of days. Next I take the person that got the promotion out to lunch and find out what s/he’s been up to. Apparently I’ve either not been kissing enough @ss or maybe I’m kissing the wrong @ss.  I collect my information, adjust accordingly, and just keep at it.

Wanda B. Goode: I don’t say this very often, but I sort of agree with one premise in Joe’s approach – the part where he doesn’t give up. I find the important thing to do is to stay positive (no whining to anyone at the office about missing out on the promotion), and if possible, increase my efforts to achieve even better results. If management rewards positive results, I’ll get what I deserve the next time. I might even ask my boss what I can do to better prepare myself for the next opportunity. However, if I think I’m in a rut and there’s just no way to move up, then the best thing may be to make a change. I’d continue to do excellent work while putting the word out that I’m on the market. I don’t believe in burning any bridges, and I don’t advocate quitting a job until there is a replacement lined up. Always operate from a position of strength. It’s tougher to get a job when you are unemployed, and you certainly don’t want to be forced into taking a job for economic reasons. You might end up in a less desirable position.