Sunday, August 27, 2006

It's my career, stupid!

Who remembers that snippy little political bumper-sticker "It's the economy, stupid!"? Well, I have a renewed version of that little quip for 2006 - "It's my career, stupid!"

Regular readers of my blog will know that I totally believe that every person's career, development and work-life balance is up to them. It is my view that no one else can manage your career like you can. You should ask for, and take all the developmental opportunities, career options you desire. If you don't claim what you want, than shame on you for not trying. But for those of us who do actively look for opportunities only to have them fall by the wayside of the boss's goals, shame on the boss!

This interesting article in Workforce Management is a pretty good wake-up call for those among us who have to lead and manage others. I still hold to my beliefs that you alone bear responsibility for managing your career, but the boss who fails to provide you with training, tools and opportunities is a problem too. And according to this study, it is clear that fewer of us are willing to tolerate having our careers used to grease the skids for the the boss' ambitions alone.

To the bosses among our ranks, the message is clear - your people are yours to win, or to lose. Either you help them win, or you better start getting your recruitment strategy ready, because you WILL lose them - and when word gets around about why these talented people are leaving, you better start packing your bags too because good companies wont allow poor managers to cost them talent for long.


Take a check of your team. Who has development needs that you can help with? Who would benefit by being put on, or in charge of that next project? Have you even had an "aspirations and desires" discussion with them? Start investing in your team today by asking these questions and revisit them frequently. Always put your team's needs in the equation when deciding what to do. If you follow this advice and act in their best interests, the worst thing that can happen is that they'll see that you care, and the best outcome is that they wont leave, will continue to grow and add real value every day.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The clock is running down on summer 2006 - have you had your Picnic yet?

Ok, so it's only summer in the Northern half of the world - I promise I will re-post this in December for all those living South of the Equator.

But seriously, the general themes of summer - pool parties, picnics, bar-b-ques, etc all seem to put people in a pretty happy place. The kind of happy feelings that are associated with these activities could never be mixed with any kind of business meeting ----- or could they?

I read a fun article in careerjournal that tells about how some companies are leveraging their annual corporate picnic to get a mix of business and pleasure. This article came complete with some good ideas and even a pretty cool recipe for Ranch Beans!

Now I am not suggesting that you try to whip up a big corporate cook-out, but you might find it a valuable investment of your time and a small amount of money to arrange a simple covered-dish type picnic with your team, or just taking your team out for ice cream at ColdStone.


See if you can find a way to couple some sort of picnic with doling out some much deserved pats-on-the-back. Maybe you could even invent a few new team awards - gag awards, or serious ones to point out the best in your people and to celeberate successes. Who knows, you might start a new company tradition. Go for whatever type of shindig you dig, but do something that your team will be comfortable with and enjoy before the summer is gone and we head off to that crazy time called the 4th Quarter!

Carry on!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Harassment by any other name...

Pop - Quiz!!

Your best employee, Liz has just told you that Tom is harassing her. What do you do?

Well, if you are like most managers, the second thing you do is hit the panic button (the first is to pick yourself up off the floor!). This is a tough situation and requires you to be at the top of your game. Now I'm about to say something that might get my HR-witch doctors license revoked, but you can manage this situation. HR should be involved, but not every company has a real HR function - so just like the Boy Scouts say, you've got to "Be Prepared".

I stumbled across a pretty good article in Forbes that spells out a good plan of action and some key "do" and "do not" advice. This is good stuff for the average manager. You are at the point of decision and you are the key to action so knowing how to keep your cool and process the information effectively and promptly could mean the difference between being stood up at the Company's Annual meeting and being cited as the "Boss of the Year", or being stood up in front of a jury to explain yourself - the former is ALAWAYS preferable to the latter!

Let me give you one more little tid-bit on point from my Secret HR Voo-Doo book - ALWAYS err on the side of caution to protect your people. Keep the matter as low key as possible - you are not hiding it, ignoring it or avoiding it, but you cannot make it look like a matter to panic over. Guage your response to the level of the threat to your staff and balance your response between keeping everyone safe and maintaining a calm envrionment.

Take a moment during your next team meeting and discuss the topic of harassment with your team - your message has two parts and is VERY concise -
1. We dont tolerate harassment in any form, from anybody here. Full stop!
2. If you feel you are being harassed by anyone - speak to me or (some other competent company authority) and we will deal with the situation promptly, confidentially and ensure that any wrongdoing is halted - full stop!

If you spend 5 minutes covering this in your next team meeting (oh, you do have those - dont you?), and document it in your minutes (oh, you do record minutes of your meetings, dont you???), you can greatly improve your chances of heading off and surviving a harassment incident.

Carry on!