IT Management & Leaderhsip Institute Blog
Issues Facing IT Leaders: People, Technology, Innovation, Operations, Industry Trends, Etc.
Archive of previous months

Oct 31, 2017

Managing Transitory Teams
I received this question from a reader and decided to share my answer with everyone.

Help! My company continually creates and disbands teams on a project-by-project basis. It seems that by the time my group gets to know each other the project ends and the team is broken up. How do I manage people in this kind of environment?

First, great question and thank you for asking. In 1965 Bruce Tuckerman published a model on team development and said that teams go through four developmental stages, F
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Oct 24, 2017

Friendships in the workplace can increase morale
I'd like to tell you a story about a person I know that recently retired from a local school system after working there for many years. During her last week of work she received many very wonderful and thoughtful gifts from the parents of her students, her colleagues and the school leadership. I would like to tell you about one particular present she received. A colleague gave her a small orchid plant and a whoopee pie. For those not familiar with whoopee pies, they consist of two pieces of c (Full Text . . .)

Oct 17, 2017

Who has 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 managi (Full Text . . .)

Oct 10, 2017

Remember to say please and thank you
There are two great reasons I decided to write a column on this topic. The first is that the combination of good manners, respect for those you work with, and showing appreciation to those who work for you is not only good taste, but it's also good business. The second great reason for me writing this column is that it will make my mother proud. Yes mom, all those years ago as a kid I was listening, thank you.

From a business perspective, good manners, respect for your colleagues, showing app
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Oct 3, 2017

Prioritized delegation enhances time management
Wow, I didn't think that I could fit so many management-oriented terms into one column title, but I did. Not only that, but when you read the rest of the column you will see how this concept can truly enhance your department's productivity and your personal management efficiency.

Here is the concept. If you prioritize your tasks in a way that allows you to delegate follow-up tasks more quickly, then you can create multiple streams of work that are all being done at the same time.

For example
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Sep 26, 2017

Strategic thinking and the power of diversity
From a strategic thinking perspective, diversity in the workplace is a true blessing.

Let me explain this statement by first defining strategic thinking, then describing my definition of diversity, and then explain the magical connection between the two.

I consider strategic thinking to be the process of defining the successful future state of an existing issue, topic, or direction. As a contrast, I consider strategic planning to be the process of defining a plan to bring you from the curre
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Sep 19, 2017

Understanding virtual workers' needs
There has been an enormous amount written about how to manage virtual teams. In fact, I have previously written on it a few times myself and teach a class for managers on the topic. Today's column, however, is a little different. Rather than discussing the management of virtual teams from the manager's perspective, I'll be discussing it from the remote worker's point of view. The reason for this change in headset is, that as managers, we can better lead those working for us if we understand (Full Text . . .)

Sep 12, 2017

The power of big thinking
There are many quotes and sayings that strongly suggest or quietly allude to how you think about things today can have a profound effect on your future reality. These sayings include:
  • 'Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.' (Henry Ford)
  • 'The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.' (Eleanor Roosevelt)
  • 'In the long term the most important question for a company is not what you are but what you are becoming.' (Gary Hamel)
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Sep 5, 2017

Making feedback an ongoing event
Imagine being the coach of a sports team; it could be baseball, soccer, football, or any other sport. It doesn't matter which sport, because this concept is universal and applicable to all sports.

Now imagine, as the coach, letting the whole season go by without giving any feedback to your players. In baseball, not giving the first baseman advice on how to best position himself to maximize his ability to catch the ball thrown from an infielder. In soccer, could you picture yourself not exp
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Aug 29, 2017

Great managers are also teachers
As managers, we wear many hats, including delegator, commander, disciplinarian, leader, decision maker, facilitator, and role model. Great managers, however, are also teachers, providing instruction and insights to their staff on topics such as:
  • Job specific skills
  • Navigating company politics
  • Leadership skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Professional growth and career advancement
  • Life skills, when asked for personal advice

Incorporating teaching into your management s
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Aug 22, 2017

Communicating with staff can help or save your job
A student in a management class I was teaching asked my advice regarding his boss. He said that when he spoke to his manager, the manager would just look at him with a blank stare, obviously thinking about something other than their conversation. He went on to say that it wouldn't be so bad if the discussion was just idle chatter, but it was extremely frustrating when he needed his boss's help to get his job done and was provided no support. We discussed a few potential strategies that he coul (Full Text . . .)

Aug 15, 2017

Leadership is a combination of vision and articulation
When some people see or hear a statement that resembles the title of this column, they often say something to the effect of 'Ya, ya , ya, I know, to be good a leader you must have a vision and then communicate with others. Bla bla bla.'

The reason for this, dare I say, uninspired attitude toward defining leadership as a combination of vision and articulation is twofold. First, is because it seems to be stating the obvious. Second, is because vision and articulation is only part of the leadersh
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Aug 8, 2017

Management's shades of grey
Experienced managers know that most business decisions can't be judged as simply right or wrong or as black and white. Most of the decisions made in a management capacity, particularly if the issue deals with employees, risk minimization, future planning, sales forecasting, are more art than science.

There is an old expression that says 'You gain the experience you need to effectively deal with a specific situation about fifteen minutes after the situation happens.' A second old expression de
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Aug 1, 2017

Managing digital natives and digital immigrants
The concept of digital natives and digital immigrants has been around for a number of years. There are various descriptions of what makes someone a digital native. The definition that I like best is a person who had the opportunity to use digital technologies during his/her formative years. These technologies could be video games, cell phones, computers, or any other similar type of technology. Digital immigrants are those who didn't have access to these digital technologies during their yout (Full Text . . .)

Jul 25, 2017

5 Ways to not become irrelevant to the team you manage
There is an old expression that says if you are not part of the solution then you are probably part of the problem. Before considering this expression as a manager, let's first consider it from the perspective of an employee. After all, if you are a manager by profession, you are most likely also an employee with a boss of your own.

That said, as the employee, what happens when your manager is not:

Jul 18, 2017

Name your projects based on the result you want
At first glance, which of the following projects do you think have the better chance of achieving their needed business results?
  • 'Sales Process Redesign' OR 'Revenue Growth Enhancement'
  • 'Business Intelligence System Implementation' OR 'Competitive Analysis Information Gathering'
  • 'Employee Inventory Skill List Enhancement' OR 'Talent Management Maximization'

When looking at the three comparisons above, my contention is that the names listed on the right
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Jul 11, 2017

Be skeptical and engaged not cynical: It fosters innovation
As the manager of a busy department with too much to do and not enough people to do it, it's easy to simply say no and walk away when a member of your staff suggests an idea for a new project, process improvement, or potential opportunity. The problem with this approach is that it sends the wrong message to the members of your staff. I'm not saying here that you should do every idea that your staff suggests, that would be impossible and, quite frankly, odds are that not all of the staff sugges (Full Text . . .)

Jul 4, 2017

Are you properly communicating to your staff?
As managers, one of our primary responsibilities is properly communicating with our staff. This communication could be task related, relaying announcements made by senior management, performance review oriented, or any one of many other business related topics. My question to you is: Are you properly communicating with your staff? According to extensive research conducted by Dr. Bruce Katcher, the president and founder of Discovery Surveys, Inc, and author of '30 Reasons Employees Hate Their (Full Text . . .)

Jun 27, 2017

Don't mix operational and non-operational tasks
Given the technically sounding title of this column, I thought it would be best to begin by explaining my definition of operational and non-operations tasks. Then, once defined, explain why you don't want to mix them.

Operational tasks are the mission critical activities and department processes that, by definition, take precedence over all other department activities. In Information Technology (IT) groups it's running the daily and nightly production. In Finance groups it's opening and clos
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Jun 20, 2017

Have an authentic management style
An enormous amount has been written regarding management styles, best practices, techniques, and theories. I applaud the authors, social scientists, academics, and business leaders whom have put their thoughts into print and have greatly forwarded the occupation of professional management. In fact, I have read many of their books and their collective thought has made me a better manager.

My first suggestion to you is to become a voracious reader and learn as much as you can from these thought
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