Saturday, February 25, 2006

A new ally in the war

In our little war against bad management, we need all the help we can get. I have found a very interesting fellow who’s been on this crusade for a long time already, and he’s got a pretty cool podcast as the key weapon in his arsenal. Wayne Turmel is our new ally.

Wayne is a Canadian born Manager working in the US who puts out a very plucky podcast that is hosted by an Australian podcast site and is enjoyed by a truly global audience. If you manage people or are interested in learning how to do it, and have a good time doing it, I highly recommend The Cranky Middle Manager Show.

I was recently a guest on Wayne’s show. The topic of our discussion was how real people are dealing with the talent challenge – that scary demographic and business trend that indicates that there are going to be fewer great people to fill those roles critical for your company to thrive. During my interview with Wayne we talked about some of the things that my company and others are doing (or planning) to help figure out the correct, balance between bringing in external talent to ensure a good flow of new and innovative ideas, and investing in the development of your existing staff to ensure you’ve got the best team to help you compete.

Now I’ll grant you that this topic and the information I run through in the interview seem more like a big strategic battle plan than the Guerilla tactics we normally subscribe to, but the methods discussed here are just scalable enough to let you start doing them as tactical parts of your job every day and they will achieve the same tactical wins you want. The bonus is that these tactical wins are building blocks for a bigger strategy.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

People dont quit jobs - they quit bosses

In a recent article I saw the Top 10 Reasons why people quit. The sad news is that all 10 of those reasons are linked to poor management behaviors. It’s an odd paradox, that within the trenches, most people think that money drives this, but compensation wasn’t even on the list. Now we all know that comp plays some role – even the most altruistic among us longs for that shiny, red BMW 325i convertible (ooops… letting too much of ME leak into the blog again!) , but the core reasons we look for a new job usually have less to do with the money and more to do with the way we feel about the job we have. If we were perfectly sated in the job we have, we wouldn’t be looking about, now would we?

Ok Troops – why have I called your attention to this little pearl of wisdom? Because I want you to take action of course! Your mission is to go out into your workplace and get 2 other managers to join you as you look over the reasons cited on the link and figure out if these behaviors are possibly impacting your teams – and if so – tell them to discuss the topic with their people. Imagine the powerful message that conversation will send.

The extra-credit assignment – consider if your boss is reflected in the list and have them take a look at the list…. “Fortune favors the brave”, but if it doesn’t, springtime might be nice time to take some time off to search for your next job.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Painless Performance

Painless Performance Management – Myth or Reality – YOU decide

Ok, with an intro like that even the cynics in the crowd have to be at least a little intrigued, right?  Well, it can be true if you are willing to make the investments necessary.  I caveat here – painless does not equate to easy.

Performance Management has gotten a bad rap in the business world – kind of like the way all Sharks take the heat for the misdeeds of a few ill-advised and ill-fated sharks who choose to snack from the beachfront buffet in August – it’s got the grain of truth to it, but under objective review, it is far less worrisome than it’s rumored to be.

Performance Management should be a welcome part of our career cycle, but too many of us view the process with fear.  Whether giving or receiving – we dread it at some level.  Maybe it’s post-traumatic stress from mistreatment at the hands of  a bad boss, maybe it’s dread of the emotions that surface at the time…. Whatever the reason – it can be debilitating and that makes us not do it.  That’s the start of a cycle of bad habits.

Let’s break it down into simple little steps you can start doing today

Step 1 – Talk to your people!  Not just idyll water cooler chats, but meaningful conversations about them.  Who they are, what they want out of life, what’s important to them.
Step 2 – Discuss their goals and progress against them openly and often.  Ask not just how much progress they are making, but why.  Do they have the information, resources, etc.. to get the job done?  Find out how they can leverage this experience to prepare them for the next assignment or promotion.
Step 3 –  Give them fair, candid feedback on their progress and results.  Do this often.  Congratulate them on their successes – make a big fuss about their big wins.  Counsel them on the things they need to improve on with a focus on making them a success – it’s not about what they did wrong, it’s about helping them do it better next time.  Make them understand that you want them to succeed (which had better be true)

Yes, I know…. Sounds simple and not realistic in this light, right… but try to do it and you’ll see why I said “painless”,  not “easy”.  If it was easy, the company could hire a chimp to do it and you’d be on the street….and that is where the “painless” part of our story ends.