Accomplish More in Less Time by Climbing the Productivity Pyramid

The establishment of an ongoing, organization-wide productivity improvement program requires the right company culture, a continuous improvement mindset, innovative thinkers and the active support of senior management—but this is not enough.  To be successful, it must also have a defined set of processes, the ability to measure and communicate your results and a clear understanding of how each productivity enhancement provides value to the organization. These processes are established on each of the seven steps on the Productivity Pyramid, which—if followed—creates a company environment where more is done in less time. The Productivity Pyramid concept states that for productivity improvement activities to be effective and long-lasting, they can’t be randomly performed. These activities must be organizationally grounded, systematically implemented and administratively supported. They must align with your corporate goals and culture, be implemented with formal plans based on anticipated results and able to be repeated going forward. In addition to describing the steppingstones toward the creation of a successful productivity program, the Productivity Pyramid can also be used to assess your organization’s current productivity maturity. The seven steps can help you craft a plan for the future, and also asses your current productivity abilities and needs. Step One: Goal Alignment The alignment of individual, project, department and corporate goals is a mainstay of the strategic planning process. This is also true for your productivity goals. As a result, as you define your productivity related activities, you must also prioritize them based on the answers to these two questions: a) Does this productivity [...]

By | 2020-09-22T02:06:11+00:00 September 8th, 2020|

Eight Step Process to Maximize Delegation Effectiveness

One of the great things about being a manager is that you can delegate various types of tasks to other people, instead of having to do them yourself.  This may sound like a rather cavalier statement, but it’s true.  As a manager, to do your job efficiently and effectively, you must delegate various types of tasks to your staff.  If you don’t delegate, you will be overworked and your staff will be underutilized.  In fact, you do a disservice to your staff if you don’t delegate because to inhibits your staff’s ability to learn new things and grow as professionals. Like all management activities, delegation must be done in a thoughtful, ethical, and forward thinking manner.  To that end, consider the following tips when delegating tasks to your staff, contractors, vendors and others. 1. Clearly define what can and cannot be delegated: As a manager, be mindful of what should and should not be delegated. For example, specific tasks may contain proprietary information that should not be shared at your staff’s organizational level.  As a second example, there are tasks that your team members may not be qualified to perform, thus setting them up for failure.  Lastly, don’t just dump unwanted activities onto your staff to get them off your plate.  Your team will eventually figure this out and it will hurt your credibility as their manager. On the positive side, delegation can be a powerful tool to maximize your team’s productivity, enhance their skill set, help them grow professionally, and free [...]

By | 2020-09-22T02:06:22+00:00 September 1st, 2020|

Creating a Productivity IT Culture

What does productivity mean to you?   To me, it means more time, money and resources to get other things done.  For example, if I have five people working toward the completion of a specified task and can find a way to complete it using only four people, I can have the fifth person working on something else.    Productivity is the art of doing more with the time, money and resources you have at your disposal. Make no mistake, productivity requires change.  If your organization views the ability to change as an important business attribute, then ongoing productivity improvement can be the status quo. If your company is set in its ways, refuses to streamline its processes and shuns innovation, then productivity improvement is not required. Given today’s business environment, a company that does not progress will soon stagger under its own weight and fade away.  That said, if you are working at or own this type of firm, the best way for you to be productive is by updating your resume.  Conversely, an internal productivity culture that continually strives for optimal efficiency gives your organization the opportunity to enhance its market position, maximize its profits, increase its market share and position it for future growth and success. There are six cultural attributes needed to give your organization the ability to accept the small and sometimes large changes that productivity enhancements require. 1. Cultural Awareness: One of the most important business attributes of people leading the productivity charge is cultural awareness.  This is [...]

By | 2020-09-22T02:06:33+00:00 August 25th, 2020|

5 Ways to Enhance Virtual Project Stakeholder Communication

Project stakeholders are the people who fund, provide workers, provide resources, are affected by the project’s outcome, and/or oversee the project from a legal or compliance perspective.  As a Project Manager, not having an agreement with any or all of your project stakeholders can have disastrous results for your project and potentially for your career. Communicating with and getting agreement from these diverse types of people can be difficult enough when everyone is at the same physical location.  However, when these people are geographically located around the block, around the country, or around the world, getting everyone on the same page becomes even more complex.  Distance can bring a lack of communication, cultural differences, organizational divide, and dramatic time zone differentials.   All this said, no matter where they are, stakeholders are stakeholders and must be dealt with properly for the good of your project and the good of your career. As the Project Manager, there are a number of things that can, and should, be done to help assure your stakeholders are properly aligned. These activities include: Getting to know stakeholders personally Assuring they understand the project’s purpose and importance to the organization The costs and/or benefits of the project to each stakeholder Verifying that each stakeholder knows his/her role The specific resources to be provided The specific timing of them and where the resources are needed Assure that all stakeholders agree on the project’s priority relative to other projects This previous list certainly contains important business strategies and organizational politicking that [...]

By | 2020-09-22T02:06:45+00:00 August 5th, 2020|

Virtual and Co-Located Team Communication

As the leader of a virtual team, properly interacting with your staff is much more complex and problematic than communicating with a group all working from the same location.   There are, however, many techniques and processes that can be employed to minimize the effect of distance on your ability to effectively communicate with and manage your staff. “Out of sight, out of mind” is one of the most obvious and insidious issues. When people work outside of the office, unless your company’s culture is very accustomed to this, it’s very easy to forget that your remote employees exist.  I don’t mean that this is done in a mean or calculating way.  I simply suggest that if six people are physically planning on meeting in a local conference room, it’s easy to forget to call the seventh person, who will be connecting in via phone. While forgetting to call someone for inclusion in a meeting is somewhat embarrassing, it’s the tip of the iceberg in regard to the issues that can occur. Remote employees may feel isolated and forgotten and leave the company. You may forget to assign them tasks, thus reducing department productivity. Without proper work direction, remote employees, wanting to keep busy, may perform the wrong task or perform the right task the wrong way. One way to minimize the “Out of sight, out of mind” phenomenon is to schedule regular one-on-one meetings with remote team members to assure they are receiving enough of your attention.  Regarding meetings, a quick trick [...]

By | 2020-09-22T02:06:54+00:00 July 28th, 2020|

Virtual Teams and Your Management Style

Managing people, even when they are all at the same physical location, certainly has its challenges, but when you add distance to the mix, the process of managing a team becomes even more complex.  One of these complexities is the potential need to modify your management style to effectively engage, supervise, instruct, and evaluate team members who work at distant locations, whether it be down the street, across the country, and/or around the world. When managing a virtual team, there are a number of things you should consider related to your management style.  Various leadership techniques that work very well in person are much less effective when attempted with employees at a distance.  The list that follows outlines some of these virtual management challenges: Managing by walking around     This is the management technique of simply walking around the office with the goal of interacting with those on your team, providing guidance where needed, and observing them at work as a way of assessing their work ethic and job effectiveness.  As you may imagine, this technique can be very effective if your team is outside your office door or down the hall, but virtually impossible if your team is at multiple physical locations. Communicating with team only by phone and email This technique can be very effective for your virtual employees.  Phone-based communication is a form of human interaction that can help you build trust, develop a working relationship, and quickly communicate information without the need of crafting detailed emails.  Email is also [...]

By | 2020-09-22T02:07:09+00:00 July 21st, 2020|

Office Influence: The Key Ingredient for CIOs to Get a Seat at the Strategy Table

Description: Enhancing your influential presence gives you the organizational clout needed to get you a seat at the business strategy table.  Understanding the key influence concepts of influence factors or influence currencies allows you to maximize the value of your clout and status. Blog text: In the 1980s there was a financial services firm named E. F. Hutton.  Their tag line was “When E. F. Hutton talks, people listen.”  I never worked at this firm.  I never invested in or through this firm.  I never knew anyone that worked there.  So why do I remember their tag line from so many years ago?  The reason is that I remember as a young man thinking “Wow, they must be really important if everyone is listening to them.”  Yes, this was just a marketing campaign, but it was also a self-fulfilling prophecy they wanted to achieve. What is your self-fulfilling prophecy?  How do you describe your role within the C-Suite and IT’s role within the organization?  If you describe yourself as the leader of the IT team and IT as an internal support function, then that’s how you and your group will be viewed. When I began my professional career, our technology group was named “Data Processing”.  The reason was that in the earlier days of computing, that’s all business computing could provide, the processing and summary of transaction data.  A decade later, as hardware increased in strength and power, software was able to become more sophisticated.  These advances provided the tools to mathematically [...]

By | 2020-09-22T02:07:42+00:00 July 17th, 2020|

Understanding Virtual Worker 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.  This blog post, 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 their needs and issues. Three areas that you should consider, regarding the need of your remotely working employees, are socialization, physical surroundings, and management support. Socialization: By socialization, I’m referring to the ability for virtual employees to be part of a virtual (or occasionally physical) community with their fellow workers. There are number of reasons for this needed socialization.  Some of these reasons are personal and some are professional.  From a personal perspective, most humans are social creatures, as a result, working by yourself, all day every day, can get lonely, cause depression and/or a lack of motivation.  In a regular corporate environment there are coworkers to have lunch with, meetings to attend, and random meetings in the hallway on the way to the restroom and coffee machine.  Working alone at home, none of the human interaction exists.  At best, these virtual workers are connected to others via email, phone and/or video based. From a professional perspective, virtual workers can easily feel out of the loop [...]

By | 2020-09-22T02:07:50+00:00 July 14th, 2020|

9 IT Action/Reaction Office Influencer Techniques – Part 2

My last blog described the first four action/reaction influence techniques that IT professionals can use when trying to influence their business partners or others with the IT organization.  This week’s blog discusses the remaining five techniques. 5. Doing Tasks You Don’t Like  As a IT manager or executive, if you do all the fun stuff and leave the important but uninteresting or dangerous tasks to others, many issues will arise, including: Your team will resent you. Your staff will be unwilling to perform unwanted tasks. Your team’s motivation will be reduced, resulting in lower productivity and increased attrition. Your action of sharing the uninteresting or dangerous tasks has the reaction of: Showing people you are a team player, thus, increasing their willingness to follow your instruction. Causing your team (and others) to perform these tasks more willingly because they know you won’t ask them to do anything you wouldn’t do yourself. 6. Taking Logistical Control Taking logistical control is a negotiation trick that employs both influence and team-building-based concepts. From an influence perspective, being proactive and organizing the group’s logistical needs positions you to take a leadership role in the overall negotiation process. From a team-building perspective, once you have taken a leadership role and the group’s culture is formed, modifying that culture becomes very difficult, thus cementing your role as the overall negotiation leader. Continuing with the negotiation example, if you take care of the negotiation’s logistics, such as booking the conference room, sending out the meeting invitations, and ordering lunch, the [...]

By | 2020-03-18T14:53:31+00:00 May 20th, 2020|

9 IT Action/Reaction Office Influencer Techniques – Part 1

One of my favorite ways to influence others is to perform a task that needs to be done anyway and to do it a manner that causes the other person to react in a specific way. For example, if a Project Manager needs a project stakeholder to respond to emails more quickly, The Project Manger should respond to their emails quickly with the hope that they will return the favor. I worked with a an IT executive who took two or three days to respond to my emails. This was problematic because I was under a tight deadline and could not move forward without the executive’s input on certain aspects of the project. In an attempt to speed up his replies, I would answer his messages within five or ten minutes. Because I always replied to his email messages right away, over time, he felt guilty that he did not do the same for me. As a result of this guilt, he began to return my email messages as soon as they arrived. Truth be told, this story falls under the category of: If you can’t be smart, be lucky. Initially, I started responding to his emails so quickly because I thought he would email back right away if I could catch him while he was still working on email. It wasn’t until weeks later that he realized his change was an influence-based reaction to my action. I got the result I wanted, but not for the reason I expected. I had no [...]

By | 2020-03-18T14:53:23+00:00 May 13th, 2020|
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