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

Entries Comments

Month: June, 2009

No Time to Think

27 June, 2009 (12:12) | Leadership, Leadership Development, Management, Time Management | By: Administrator

In his book, Purpose: The Starting Point of Great Companies, Nikos Mourkogiannis indicates a critical component of leadership – to think. “Thinking is the starting point of change. Without it you can not possibly discover your purpose, choose your strategic position and align the two.” Of course the thinking activity takes time.

Mourkogiannis further points out an inherent flaw, “Give a leader a Blackberry, a dozen direct reports, some commitments to charity, and a seat on a few corporate boards – and then ask him to think? There isn’t time. He can’t possibly do it.”

Isn’t this a problem in many other areas as well? We don’t take the time to think or to plan. Why? We’re too busy tending to the day-do-day. We flow with the current, repeat the same mistakes over and over again, and then we ask, “How did we allow ourselves to get to this point?”

Thoughts Joe and Wanda?

Joe Kerr: Obviously Nikos doesn’t understand the fundamental concept of delegation. My admin handles my charitable responsibilities, and 90% of the board activities, and I lean on HR for help with my directs. I just need to show up. Great leaders know how to delegate. As for thinking, that’s what consultants are for.

Do you happen to have an aspirin? My head hurts.

Wanda B. Goode: This is indeed a huge problem. However, even if there were less to do, people would still struggle with the thinking and the planning. Why? It’s not a comfortable thing. It’s harder. Further, it does not generate immediate results. People will avoid things that make them uncomfortable, especially when they don’t get any immediate benefit. It is so much easier to just show up and jump from one crisis to the next.

The key to sustained success is doing the important things in the short term that will benefit in the long-term. It’s a fairly simple concept, but not an easy one to execute.

Here are a couple of related posts…

Carve Out Time to Think

Purposeful Leaders Take Time to Think

Layoff Survivor Sickness

22 June, 2009 (23:14) | Communication, Leadership, Management, Productivity, Workplace Dynamics | By: Administrator

There is an article in the July, ’09 issue of Toastmasters Magazine that addresses the difficulties experienced by those that survive job layoffs. Apparently there is a name for it… Layoff Survivor Sickness.

Those that are left behind frequently experience guilt, insecurity, anger, and fear. Not all that surprising, the typical management approach is to ignore the situation resulting in “plummeting productivity, more concentration-related errors, and increasingly listless and risk-averse employees.”

What’s the solution? Again, somewhat obvious, is frequent and honest communication. Management should explain the reasons why decisions have been made and field employee questions. Layoff survivors (including managers) should be encouraged to vent their feelings both in one-on-one meetings with their managers as well as in group settings.

Thoughts Joe and Wanda?

Joe Kerr: Buck up and get back to work! You’re lucky to have a job, and if you don’t quit your whining, you may not have it for long… That’s the softer side of Joe Kerr.

Wanda B. Goode: While most companies struggle with communications during good times, they seem to clam up even more during bad times… not good for the many that are left holding the bag. In difficult times, those managers that are comfortable with the softer skills like listening and empathizing, are those that will be most successful.

Here are some related posts

Ombuds Can Help Minimize Effects of Layoffs

Overcoming Layoff Survivor Sickness

Service Sins

17 June, 2009 (23:44) | Customer Service, Leadership, Management | By: Administrator

Chapter 3 of the book Leading IT Transformation is entitled, “Building a Client-Focused IT Culture.” Although it is written specifically for those in the information technology field, I believe the lessons can be universally applied to any group trying to improve service to its stakeholders.

The authors discuss two “service sins” that occur when we play the role of either “rule master” or “promiser.” When an internal customer asks the rule master to do something slightly outside of guidelines, the rule master says things like, “That’s not our standard… That’s not part of the project plan…We don’t do it that way.” On the flip side the promiser says, “We can to that. We can do that too. Is there anything else you want us to do?”

The correct approach for the Rule Master is to first discover the root cause or need (why the person is making the request), and then try to offer assistance. It may be time to break a rule, or it may be time to re-educate on the reasons for the rule.

As for the Promiser, instead of agreeing to everything and inevitably incurring the wrath of customers when promises are not delivered, it is again important to seek to understand the reason for the request, and then develop some appropriate responses – “I know you want this new change put in, and I’m now aware of its important to the business. We really need to examine it closely to see what it will take to include it. We may need to pull some other functionality to make it work. Can we get back to you at the end of the week?”

To create a client-focused culture, the authors recommend creating a service strategy. They also offer three skills required to evolve to a service oriented culture

  1. A “We” Mindset – It’s not about you, it’s about the team. Further, it’s about the company.
  2. Learning to Love Complaints – Complaints are feedback. Feedback is good. Feedback gives us the opportunity to improve.
  3. Make Every Interaction Count – This is the Moments of Truth concept. Each interaction with a client is a moment of truth that can sweeten or sour a group’s reputation.

Joe Kerr: We need to get back to work, so we can fix our mistakes. We obviously already love them, because we get so many! How’s that for the “We mindset?

Wanda B. Goode: Makes sense. We don’t want to be perceived as rigid and inflexible as if we are hiding behind rules. I’ve always been a fan of exception processing as well. In addition, we can’t be everything to everyone. We need to focus on the most important things or we won’t be able to get those most important things done.

Here’s a related customer service post – The Seven Deadly Sins of Customer Service

Creating Accountability

10 June, 2009 (21:41) | Communication, Leadership, Management, Podcast - Management Tips | By: Administrator

Wooden Nickel - Management Tips 4

Would you like to create more accountability within your organization? Listen to this “Management Tips” podcast with Patricia Wheeler to find out how.

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

Don’t Believe the Strategic Hype

5 June, 2009 (01:34) | Leadership, Management, Strategy/Goals | By: Administrator

In his book, What Were They Thinking? Jeffrey Pfeffer shares an interesting perspective on strategy. He says that corporations pay more attention to presentation than the quality of ideas. Executives gravitate toward strategic planning because it is intellectually challenging, and most CEOs rank it as the 2nd most important activity required for the success of their companies. According to Pfeffer, though, research indicates that there is little evidence that strategy has any effect on company performance.

Not surprisingly, it’s the execution that matters. Pfeffer advocates a trial and error approach – i.e. “developing strategy adaptively by using your company’s best thinking at the time, learning from experience, and then trying again using what you have learned.” It’s about “doing smart things” not “seeming smart.”

Joe Kerr: Let’s not beat up on strategy too much. I mean, where would we be without strategy? We wouldn’t have strategic sourcing, strategic partners, strategic purchasing, strategic marketing, strategic management, or strategic thinking? Really, where would we be? We’d be like a sail boat without a rudder, a soldier without a compass, a car without a GPS! I’m not sure I want any part of that.

Wanda B. Goode: We heard something similar from the Smuckers brothers from the JM Smuckers Company, didn’t we? They had a simple strategy for their company that they shared with everyone – even their competitors. They didn’t create the glitzy Powerpoint presentation and three inch binder that collected dust on the shelf. Instead they created a brief document outlining their strategy and more importantly went out and made it happen. The competition could not do the same.

Hey, I like talking strategy too. I agree with Jeffrey. It’s challenging and it’s fun. I also think it’s important. We just need to resist the urge to get all caught up in it and make it more complicated than it needs to be. We need to place more of the focus on getting it done.

Here is a post that refers to Pfeffer’s views on strategic planning and addresses other concepts from his book – 10 Questions with Jeffrey Pfeffer

Don’t be Afraid of Conflict

2 June, 2009 (22:13) | Leadership, Management, Podcast - Management Tips | By: Administrator

Wooden Nickel - Management Tips 4

Conflict at the office? Don’t fret. Denise O’Berry explains that it’s probably a good thing. Listen to this podcast to find out how to take advantage of conflict.

icon for podpress  Denise O'Berry's Management Tip [9:15m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download