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: February, 2008

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.

Drucker on Meetings

15 February, 2008 (00:46) | Management, Meetings, Time Management | By: Administrator

We’ve talked about meetings quite a bit in the past (see the posts below), but these comments from Peter Drucker in The Effective Executive warrant resurrecting the topic.

Peter identifies a common time waster as malorganization, of which meetings are a symptom.

“Meetings are by definition a concession to a deficient organization. For one either meets or one works. One can not do both at the same time…There will always be more than enough meetings…Every meeting generates a host of little follow-up meetings—some formal, some informal, but both stretching out for hours. Meetings, therefore, need to be purposefully directed. An undirected meeting is not just a nuisance; it is a danger. But above all, meetings have to be the exception rather than the rule. An organization where everybody meets all the time is an organization in which no one gets anything done. Wherever a time log shows the fatty degeneration of meetings—whenever, for instance people in an organization find themselves in meetings a quarter of their time or more—there is time-wasting malorganization.”

Joe Kerr: Once again I must take exception to the words of the genius, Mr. Drucker. I am a multi-tasker–a term, with which the old timer may not be familiar. I work in meetings all the time. I read and reply to mail, review financials, make phone calls. In fact, sometimes I get more done in meetings than outside of them.

Wanda B. Goode: I love Peter’s stuff. He is so honest and direct.

I’d like to point out one solution that Peter recommends. Don’t call a meeting with all your direct reports regardless of the topic and make them sit through a long drawn out affair where all participants feel the need to feign interest by asking questions that prolong the meeting even further. Rather, call the meeting for the 2 or 3 people that are required. Invite the rest to come if they are interested, but let them know that shortly after the meeting, they will receive a summary of the discussion and any decisions made together with a request for their feedback. This is a tremendous time saver and it ensures that no one feels left out.

Here’s a link to a Top Ten List of Time Wasters. Not surprisingly, meetings make the list.

Other Joe and Wanda posts on meetings:
Meeting Productivity
More on Effective Meetings
Meetings are “Cockroaches of American Business.”

The Power of Powerlessness

12 February, 2008 (00:31) | Leadership, Personal Development, Success | By: Administrator

In Tom Peters’ book, Talent, he talks about the power of powerlessness. Often times we believe we can’t do something because we don’t have the power. Tom reminds us that “getting things done is not about formal power or rank. It is ultimately about passion, imagination, and persistence.” Tom has 3 rules:

  1. Never accept an assignment as given – reframe it and turn it into a exciting project.
  2. You are never so powerful as when you are powerless – no on is paying attention to you. You operate under the radar when you don’t have formal power.
  3. Every small project carries the DNA of the entire enterprise – Every small project is a window on the soul of the organization.

He encourages people to volunteer for crappy jobs and turn them into WOW jobs.

Joe and Wanda, what are your thoughts?

Joe Kerr: Hogwash! If you have anything to lose, don’t stick your neck out or you’ll lose it. You’ll get it lopped right off. I’ve been in this racket far to long. I’ve seen the hot shots come and I’ve seen them go. The fact that I’m hear to tell about it is a testament to the wisdom I just laid down before you, free of charge.

Wanda B. Goode: I’ll be the first to admit that it is easy to get frustrated in the corporate world. There are so many people, structures, and rules that can prevent you from moving an idea forward. If you really want something though, you can make it happen. The key is attitude. You can find something positive in almost anything, and with some desire, creativity, and persistence, you can make big things happen regardless of the position you hold.

I love the Norman Vincent Peale quote, “It’s always too soon to quit.” That is persistence at its core, and just thinking about it gets my juices flowing. For more good quotes on persistence, check out the Angela Loeb’s 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.

Drucker on Effectiveness

1 February, 2008 (01:10) | Leadership, Management | By: Administrator

In his book, The Effective Executive, Peter Drucker has the following comments on effectiveness:

“Brilliant men are often strikingly ineffectual; they fail to realize that the brilliant insight is not by itself achievement. They never have learned that insights become effectiveness only through hard systematic work. Conversely, in every organization there are some highly effective plodders. While others rush around in the frenzy and busyness which very bright people so often confuse with “creativity,” the plodder puts one foot in front of the other and gets there first.”

Joe and Wanda?

Joe Kerr: Listen. I’m an idea man, an innovator, a thinker, an unconventional out-of-the box kind of guy. I come up with the gems, and my guys are there to implement them. If they don’t manage to screw things up, we’re in clover. It’s a killer model that’s gotten me where I am today. Drucker, Schmucker.

Wanda B. Goode: Tough to argue with Peter Drucker. Jim Collins makes a similar observation, in his book, Good to Great. He refers to “level 5 leaders.” They are not the bombastic, high profile leaders. Rather, they have an “unwavering ferocious resolve to do what must be done. For more on “level 5 leaders” check out this post.

I love the part about confusing frenzied busyness with creativity. We’ve talked about this before. People often think that adding some structure to their day is hampering their creativity. They think bouncing from task to task, blowing with the wind, is being creative. Instead, it’s being ineffective.