/Eric Bloom

About Eric Bloom

Executive Director IT Management and Leadership Institute

Management’s Decision 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 deals with the experience needed for proper decision making is “Hindsight is 20/20.”  The reason that these expressions have endured the test of time is because they’re true and provide various insights, including the following: When making an important decision, try to sit back and reflect on your potential actions, rather than simply shooting from the hip and making a quick decision. Seek out the advice of your peers or more experienced managers who have previously dealt with that type of situation. When you make a decision, both good and bad, make a mental note of the situation, your decision, and the ultimate outcome. This personal reflection will help you: Grow as a manager Reduce the chance that you will make the same mistake twice Increase the chance that you will be successful more than once Provide you with examples to use when mentoring less experienced employees Help you grow as a person, because very often interpersonal lessons learned at work can help you grow personally Another thing to consider when making a business decision [...]

By | 2019-02-21T22:54:44+00:00 March 14th, 2019|

Managers as Mentors

As a manager, I believe you are not only responsible for the well being of your department and its role within the company at large, but you are also responsible, if not legally then morally, to help the members of your staff grow professionally, and in some cases personally.  As their leader, you are a figure of authority in their life. They may love you. They may hate you. Hopefully, they respect you. If you are a history buff, you may be interested to know that the origin of the word “Mentor” is from Greek mythology. Mentor was a friend of Odysseus who asked him to nurture his foster brother when he left for the Trojan War. As a result, the word “mentor” historically came to mean a trusted advisor. Of course, not all of your staff members may want you as a trusted advisor, but for those that will listen, it could be of advantage to you both. The best managers I had in my career also acted as mentors and teachers to me, and other staff members. They taught me many valuable lessons related to technical topics, office politics, management processes, such as writing a good performance review, making presentations, and in some cases to be a better person, both professionally and personally. Understand, that as a manager, being a good mentor to your staff members is not totally altruistic. It’s also good for your department, your company, and you personally. Let’s begin with how mentoring your staff is good for [...]

By | 2019-02-21T22:52:18+00:00 March 7th, 2019|

Surviving and Thriving During Organizational Change

When people think about organizational change, it seems that the same old sayings always to come to mind. The more things change the more they stay the same The only constant is change Even though I don’t personally like these sayings, having been employed by corporate America for most of my life, I have found them to generally be true. That said, I believe these sayings to be self defeating, look at organizational change as an ongoing negative, and provide no value when a changing work environment is thrust upon us. I like these expressions much better. Change brings both risk and potential reward Those that embrace change can profit by it I find these expressions to be forward thinking, energizing when faced with change, and helpful when trying to instill a positive attitude in others. Companies change for many reasons. Some organizational change is self-induced, meaning the company management has made the decision to strategically move in a specified direction. Sometimes however, change is forced upon a company in order to survive. That said, organizational change may be initiated for various reasons including the following: Company mergers and buyouts, and takeovers Market pressure caused by innovative competitors Changes in the economy, both good and bad Change in company leadership At a micro level, maybe you just got a new boss Early in my career, I worked for a large software company and truth be told, I loved working there. Then one day, our parent company bought our major competitor and merged the [...]

By | 2019-02-21T22:46:52+00:00 February 28th, 2019|

Managers Are Communication Highways

By design, a manager’s job is to manage people. This requires telling your staff what to work on and then providing them feedback on their job performance. It also requires that you provide upper management with the status of projects, accomplishments and issues. At a department level, it’s also your role to facilitate the coordination with other department such as HR, finance and your peer departments. The bottom line is that the better you communicate, the easier it will be for you to become an effective manager. Depending on your professional area and your personal strengths and weaknesses, good communication can be a difficult thing to achieve. From an educational perspective, I went to college for accounting and computer information systems. Of the fifty classes I took over four years as an undergraduate student, only one optional elective dealt with personal communication. This was a class on public speaking. For many of us, particularly those of us in technical roles, we were told that we did such a good job as an individual contributor in our profession area, that we should take a new job (as manager) where we had no formal training, no on-the-job experience, and no formal education on proper business communication. Thus, a new manager was born. As a manager, communication takes many forms, as outlined below. Justify your budget requirements Write status reports Make presentation to justifying hiring needs Giving work direction to your team Write and give performance reviews Facilitate staff meeting Participating in cross-department activities When looking [...]

By | 2019-02-22T02:53:56+00:00 February 21st, 2019|

14 Influence Techniques that Drive Organizational Change

Every interpersonal endeavor includes an aspect of influence. In negotiation, you’re influencing someone to move closer to your point of view. In conflict resolution, you’re influencing two people or organizations to solve their issues and get along. In organizational change, the topic of this blog post, you’re influencing a person or organization to do something in a different way. This blog combines influence-based and change-based concepts into a single activity. It begins by giving a high-level overview of our ERICA Change Management Framework, then provides examples of how each framework components can be assisted via the use of influence-based techniques and concepts. When reading this blog, please consider it from two perspectives, first, as this blog suggests, on how you can use influence-based concepts to enhance your organizational change activities, second, how you can use these 15 influence techniques in other ways to your professional advantage. Figure #1 displays the five components of the ERICA organizational change framework. E: Environment: Organizational change is framed within its “Environment”, the reasons and circumstances for the change R: Resources: The people, funding, organizational support and other company assets that are available to help facilitate the change. I: Individuals: The people who being asked to change their job roles, skills, tasks or other personally felt items C: Culture: The culture or micro-cultures of the organization in which the change will occur A: Actions: The change management plan, execution of the plan and measurement of expected and unexpected result With the ERICA framework explained, let’s discuss how ERICA’s [...]

By | 2019-01-04T14:43:25+00:00 January 4th, 2019|

Survey on Office Influence

I'm in the process of writing a new book titled: "Office Influence: Get What You Want, From the Mailroom to the Boardroom" ™ To this end, I'm trying to understand how influence is achieved within the workplace via the below survey. As a thank for completing the survey, when the book is published in the spring, I'll give you a free copy of the book and access to various online tools related to the book's content! The survey asks your opinion on how important various personal and professional attributes are to influencing others within the workplace. It also asks a small amount of optional demographic data to assist in the research. Please click here to take our survey on office influence!

By | 2018-12-22T18:09:44+00:00 December 22nd, 2018|

15 Ways to Maximize Your Office Influence

Enhancing your workplace influence has many professional advantages. It helps you gain approval for your business initiatives, acquire needed resources, survive organizational realignments, and position you for short-term promotions and long-term professional success. Please click here to take our survey on office influence! Here are 15 techniques that are easy to describe, but very difficult to implement, that will help you maximize your person workplace power and influence. You can't do them all at once. My suggestion to you is to pick the one that most resonates with you personally and work to achieve it. Then, once you have internalized it as part of your professional repertoire, go back to this list a select other items, one at a time, with the goal of continually adding arrows to your professional influence quiver. 1. Provide Execution Excellence Job #1 in any business role is to be a top performer in regard to your: Quality of work Level of effort Enthusiasm for the organization These attributes will simultaneously enhance your job performance and increase you workplace influence. 2. Be Proactive Being reactive is performing tasks upon request. While this is of great importance, it's not enough. Being proactive is: * Showing initiative * Seeking client opinions on how service quality can be enhanced * Discovering new services that need to be implementation * Discontinuing services that are no longer needed * Providing technical thought leadership These proactive type activities position you as an internal agent of change, an asset to the organization and force to be [...]

By | 2018-12-22T18:10:32+00:00 December 22nd, 2018|

Value of 360 degree analysis

Imagine your boss coming into your office and saying that you will soon be involved in an analysis that will survey your peers, your staff, and your boss to find out what people really think of you. Then, all this information will be compiled in a report and presented to you as a type of career development. Would you look forward to it? Would you run for the door? Would you run to the restroom to throw up? Hopefully you will look forward to it. It's called a 360 review and it can be a great learning and growing experience. Before discussing the numerous potential benefits of being involved in a 360 review, I'd like to share my experience with this type of review. I have done two 360 reviews in my past. Both were part of a company-wide initiative that gave 360s to all manager-level employees. The first time, the person being analyzed was the only one who received the results. The second time, which was at a different company, the person's manager also got the results. This simple difference, namely who receives (or doesn't receive) the results made a huge difference. In the first one, the people who filled out the surveys (for their boss, peer or subordinate) tended to give honest and helpful feedback. I learned a lot, both good and bad, from that analysis. The second analysis was very political, deals were made between peers, and very little was learned by the participants. The moral of the story is [...]

By | 2018-10-26T02:25:57+00:00 October 26th, 2018|

Digital Transformation: Completing the Picture with IT Leadership Soft Skills

Digital Transformation (DX), by its very name, refers to how digital technologies can be used to generate new revenue streams, create new markets, increase internal organizational productivity and more. While the use of established and leading-edge technologies is, of course, paramount to Digital Transformation related endeavors, soft skills, such as interpersonal communication, change management, influence and others, are the unsung heroes of successful Digital Transformation implementations. The reason being, unless you’re using bleeding-edge technologies, the technology is often the easy part. From a CIO perspective, the biggest non-technical DX challenges are: • How IT is positioning within your overall corporate entity to drive DX • Your ability, as CIO, to drive business vision, not only technical vision • You team’s ability to be viewed as equal business partners with their non-IT counterparts IT’s DX positioning within your overall corporate entity IT’s ability to be the driving force behind the organization’s DX endeavors is based on two key factors: • IT’s Organizational Clout • IT’s innovative business and technical nature IT’s organizational clout (vertical axis in Figure 1) refers to how IT is viewed within the organization regarding its competency, importance in driving profitability, the C-Suites philosophy of technology and other related factors. The more IT is respected and trusted by their business counterparts, the easier it will be for the CIO and his/her senior team to lead the organization’s DX endeavors. IT’s innovative nature (horizontal axis in Figure 1) refers to its willingness and ability to innovate on behalf of the company, not [...]

By | 2018-10-26T02:21:27+00:00 October 7th, 2018|

7 Interpersonal Communication Skills that Drive IT Manager Success

I’m often asked by technologists why they should spend their precious training time and dollars studying soft skills. After all, they know how to ask questions, listen to others and so on, they have been doing it their whole lives. My answer is “Rather than using gut feel when negotiating, influencing, resolving conflict and/or just talking with others, if you learn and use structured interpersonal communication processes and techniques, you can improve your effectiveness through continual process improvement.” That is to say, just like any other defined process, experience using defined soft skill techniques, allows you improve them over time. These soft skills techniques can enhance your job performance, position you for promotion and/or simply help get you the best projects and technologies to work on. This first blog post is an overview of how IT Managers and IT Executives can improve their craft and accelerate their careers using this non-technical side of their skill set. Future posts will dig into each of these topics more deeply. In the IT Management ranks, being a successful IT manager requires four primary types abilities, unrelated to the technology being overseen. These abilities are: • Interpersonal communication skills • Leadership skills • Management skills • Business-of-IT skills Today, I’d like to discuss the seven skills that fall within the “Interpersonal communication” category. When reviewing this list, it may surprise you to see that Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is not among them. The reason is that every successful human interaction requires a certain degree of EQ. Therefore, EQ [...]

By | 2018-10-16T19:35:41+00:00 September 7th, 2018|
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