Monthly Archives: April 2019


Teaching Life Lessons Will Build Your Management Legacy – Be a ‘Larry’

If you want to truly be remembered by those who work for you, teach life lessons, not just task execution to those who work for you. In 1979 I was a college intern, working as a computer programmer on Human Resource systems at Honeywell Information Systems. During my time there I was trying to learn about business and how to make my mark in the world.   I had a manager named Larry whom I will never forget.  He was my first manager in a true business setting.   He also took the concept of a “college internship” very seriously and felt a responsibility to teach me about more than just my daily tasks.  He also tried to teach me about business and life in general. On the business side, he told me to be ethical and good to people because, after a few years, it would seem that only 250 computer people worked in New England (I’m in Boston) and they just cycle from company to company.  At first glance, this may seem like a meaningless piece of advice, but it was actually incredibly insightful, very true, and extremely valuable to me.  Certainly, there are tens of thousands of computer people in New England, but over the years, you run across the same people again and again. Therefore, good, bad, or indifferent, your reputation precedes you in almost every professional endeavor, particularly if you stay in the same industry and technology throughout your career. On the personal side, Larry asked me “If I wanted [...]

By | 2019-02-22T02:20:48+00:00 April 25th, 2019|

Willingness to Let Your Staff Fail Drives Growth, Innovation and Change

This may sound a little harsh, but once you understand the meaning behind this statement, I believe that you will see that I’m suggesting a way to help, not hurt, those who work for you. Within certain bounds, giving the members of your team the opportunity to fail provides them with a safety net over which they can feel comfortable taking calculated professional risks and, in turn, help advance the organization and simultaneously grow professionally. By allowing members of your team to fail, I don’t mean losing a major client, hurting their professional reputation, or costing the company a large sum of money that could cost them their employment.  It does, however, allow them to: Define new techniques that improve existing department processes Design new product concepts Make a client presentation with you sitting in the back of the room helping them succeed if needed Try to develop a new skill that’s good for the company and their career Sit for a certification exam that they only have a 50% chance of passing Experiment with new technologies that could create company value if they are successful In essence, you are creating an environment that facilitates experimentation, innovation, teamwork, and the chance to have a real business impact.  By not giving your team this opportunity to fail, you are in essence telling them not to try anything new unless they are 100% sure that it will be 100% successful the first time and if not successful, their promotion, future pay raise, or even their [...]

By | 2019-02-22T02:17:34+00:00 April 18th, 2019|

FLOW | Unlocking Five Fold Increase in People Productivity

Any fans of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced Me-hi Chiczen Me-hi) out there? He is the originator of FLOW, the secret to human engagement, contribution, fulfillment, and happiness. In the work environment this translates to a five-fold increase in people productivity. It’s a simple concept really. People enter a state of flow when they can continually grow. It is a function of Challenge and Skill. Does the work they are doing challenge them promoting personal growth? That they can handle the challenge given their current skill level? Stretch them enough to get into the FLOW CHANNEL, but not too much where they enter states of Worry and Anxiety. And when the work they are doing doesn’t challenge them enough, states of Apathy and Boredom set in. Unfortunately, people often are not in the FLOW CHANNEL at work. Either the work they are assigned does not offer them opportunity for (comfortable) personal growth or they can’t focus on it as distractions in the work environment prevent them from doing so. Distractions such as interruptions, meetings (meeting madness), and attributes of the physical work environment such as noise, crowding, clutter, lighting, and so forth. Did you know that interruptions consume 28% of peoples’ time at work? And that it takes 23 minutes to get back into a state of deep concentration resuming the knowledge work once interrupted? So, not only focus on work assignments but also the barriers in the work environment that prevent people from getting and staying in the FLOW CHANNEL. It’s an elegant model and it’s fascinating! [...]

By | 2019-02-21T17:44:33+00:00 April 15th, 2019|

Take Advantage of Hidden Team Abilities to Fill Skill Shortages

Do you know all the non-task-oriented skills and abilities of the people on your team?  Does someone in accounting have an undergraduate degree in English?  Is your administrative assistant fluent in French and Spanish? Does your Human Resources Representative fix computers on the weekend for extra money?  Is the new writer just hired into the marketing department also an accomplished artist or photographer? As a manager, these questions and questions like them can dramatically increase your department’s success, if you can find innovative ways to take advantage of these hidden skills. Using an example from above, as the Marketing Manager responsible for the company's website, having someone on your team who is an accomplished amateur photographer may provide the opportunity to save company money. Asking the person on your team to take headshots of the senior executives for the website's "About" page, rather than hiring an expensive external photography agency. As a second example, if you have an English major turned accountant in your midst, this person may be able to help you proofread department presentations before presenting them to customers and/or senior management. Being aware of your team members' hidden skills has a number of advantages for both you and those working for you.  Let's begin with the advantages for your team: Allows employees to illustrate greater value to the company Provides the employees the opportunity for multiple potential career paths Gives employees a way to expand their professional accomplishments Allows employees to enhance their expertise in currently unused skills Increases the [...]

By | 2019-02-22T02:14:32+00:00 April 11th, 2019|

Who Inspired Your Management Style?

Who are the managers you have had in the past that have inspired your management style? The interesting thing about this question is that inspiration can come from many unexpected places. Have you ever had a great manager that you looked up to? As a child did you have a sports coach that you looked up to? Did you volunteer your time to a charitable, religious, or civic organization and are spellbound by the leadership’s ability to lead and inspire others? In many ways managing people is like raising children. That said, can you draw management inspiration from your mother and/or father? Did you have a high school teacher or college professor who changed your life? If you think it’s easy to properly manage a classroom, you should try it.  Like most things in life, it’s much harder than it appears. Is there a person in your life, such as a relative or friend, who you admire and try to emulate? Management inspiration can also come from negative experiences.  Have you ever had a manager who was indecisive, unorganized, professionally incompetent, uninterested, or just plain mean?  The reason it’s very appropriate to learn from your worst managers is because it teaches you what not to do.  Working for a really poor manager teaches you what it feels like to report to this type of person.  Chances are you don’t want your team to look at you the way you look at and think about your less than desirable managers. The reason that it [...]

By | 2019-02-21T23:07:51+00:00 April 4th, 2019|