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: May, 2009

Stop Making Excuses

26 May, 2009 (22:56) | Leadership, Management | By: Administrator

In his book, What Were They Thinking? Jeffrey Pfeffer expresses frustration over why so many leaders know how to manage people more effectively to build competitive advantage and high-performance organizational cultures, but they choose not to do so. They have a variety of excuses.

  • Too much day-to-day stuff takes precedence
  • It takes too long to make the changes
  • We don’t have the money to do that

“It’s as if a requirement for entering the ranks of senior management today is the ability to make excuses for why it’s impossible to do things that most people agree are important.”

His suggestion for fixing the situation… Refuse to accept any reasons for why things that need to be done can’t be. It’s OK to identify the problems. The important thing is to develop solutions to those problems. The leader needs to articulate a vision that can inspire the effort required to overcome the obstacles.

Joe Kerr: Spoken like a man that has spent his entire career behind a podium and not on the front lines.

Wanda B. Goode: We do make a lot of excuses don’t we? I know I just made one today. I will work on breaking the habit. If I can break free from the tendency to create excuses, there is so much to be gained.

Here is a related post – Excuses Prevent Success

General Quotes

21 May, 2009 (22:35) | Leadership | By: Administrator

I thought it would be appropriate as we ease our way into this Memorial Day weekend to quote some of our great soldiers.

Enjoy your weekend and please don’t forget to take a moment to give thanks to all those that have sacrificed so much to allow us to live in this wonderful country.

  • No good decision was ever made in a swivel chair.
  • Do more than is required of you.
  • Moral courage is the most valuable and usually the most absent characteristic in men.

— General George S. Patton Jr.

  • Do what is right, not what you think the high headquarters wants or what you think will make you look good.
  • It doesn’t take a hero to order men into battle. It takes a hero to be one of those men who goes into battle

— General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr.

  • You don’t lead by hitting people over the head – that’s assault, not leadership.

— General Dwight D. Eisenhower

  • In every battle there comes a time when both sides consider themselves beaten, then he who continues the attack wins.
  • Labor disgraces no man; unfortunately, you occasionally find men who disgrace labor.

— Ulysses S. Grant

  • Never do a wrong thing to make a friend or to keep one.
  • The education of a man is never completed until he dies.
  • Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more, you should never wish to do less.
  • I cannot trust a man to control others who cannot control himself.

— General Robert E. Lee

  • A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.
  • Don’t be afraid to challenge the pros, even in their own backyard.
  • The chief condition on which, life, health and vigor depend on, is action. It is by action that an organism develops its faculties, increases its energy, and attains the fulfillment of its destiny.
    The commander in the field is always right and the rear echelon is wrong, unless proved otherwise.

— General Colin Powell

Joe Kerr: Sure wish you could have mixed in a Gladiator quote.

Wanda B. Goode: Great quotes. One of these days maybe we’ll see a lady in the mix.

We Love Our Meetings

19 May, 2009 (22:38) | Leadership, Management, Meetings | By: Administrator

Some people really enjoy the heck out of meetings. Recently, I had a conversation with a friend that works for a non profit organization. He was surprised that the monthly board meetings were so well attended. He said that the members really seemed to enjoy them. The only problem was that nothing really got done during or between the meetings.

I explained that I had similar experiences in the corporate world. Sure people complain about meetings, but they must like them because they always have time to squeeze in more. If they have 7 in a day they can go to 8. Unfortunately, they don’t have time to do any work. In fact, they think going to the meeting is work. You better believe those board members are convinced that they are providing immeasurable value at a considerable sacrifice, all for a good cause!

Joe and Wanda, what can we do to convince people that this is folly? How do we get them to nix the meetings and get something done, rather than just complain (aka brag) that they “have” to attend so many?

Joe Kerr: Off of the top of my head, I’m not sure, but I think we have the makings of a meeting here. I’ll get my admin to set it up. Do you like Danish?

Wanda B. Goode: The managers/leaders need to make the changes in their part of the organization. If they set the example by doing the work in between the meetings team members will do the same. There will be far fewer meetings scheduled and the ones that are necessary will be shorter.

Although more difficult, managers can also influence their peers and managers to do the same. It takes more time, but it can be done.

Here’s is a related post
The Case of Too Many Meetings
and a podcast
Why 09 Should See Less Meetings

Set SMARTer Goals

14 May, 2009 (22:52) | Leadership, Management, Personal Development, Podcast - Management Tips, Productivity, Strategy/Goals | By: Administrator

Wooden Nickel - Management Tips 4

Most of us have heard of the importance of setting SMART goals – goals that are:

S Specific
M Measurable
A Attainable
R Realistic
T Time-bound

In this 10 minute podcast Scot Herrick advocates setting SMARTer goals to further boost productivity. Listen in to find out more.

icon for podpress  Scot Herrick's Management Tip [10:01m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Follow the Leader?

11 May, 2009 (21:57) | Leadership, Management | By: Administrator

Have you seen the TV commercial where the guy checks his mail box while the neighbors look on waiting to see what he’ll do next? After a brief pause, he takes off down the street and everyone else bolts after him. Turns out they are headed to the local car dealership to take advantage of a killer deal. It’s a funny commercial, but probably because it’s so true. Frequently we let what others think or do influence us, as opposed to using our own noodles.

As Jeffrey Pfeffer notes in his book, What Were They Thinking? “It turns out both common sense and careful thought are in short supply.”

Joe Kerr: I know what you mean. People just need a little guidance sometimes. When I got my new GPS, all the neighbors followed suit. Of course Bob got the entry level model, cheapskate that he is. Guess he didn’t get his bonus.

Wanda B. Goode: Yes, we do sometimes have difficulty stepping out. It’s not an easy thing to do. Following the herd is the safe play, so that’s where many gravitate.

Check out this post on the problem with following the “experts” – Learning to Think for Yourself

Focus on the Areas that Create Value for Your Customers

6 May, 2009 (23:13) | Customer Service, Leadership, Management, Podcast - Management Tips | By: Administrator

Wooden Nickel - Management Tips 4

Shaun Smith offers his management tip on how companies can get by during the recession – Focus on the areas that create value for your customers. Listen to the 10 minute podcast to learn more.

icon for podpress  Shaun Smith's Management Tip [10:00m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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