Super Bowl XLVII featured a classic matchup between two great teams, led by two great coaches. The Harbaugh brothers have more in common than their family ancestry, which is pretty impressive on its own. A similarity that impressed me is that both coaches made tough, unconventional decisions that made a great difference in their team’s performance. Each leader courageously owned his decision, not knowing with certainty that the outcome would be positive. Eventually, the rest of the world saw what these leaders saw, and acknowledged the wisdom of the decisions.
A friend of mine has a saying; the “soft” stuff is really the hard stuff. In other words, some of the “intangibles” have the most direct impact on hard business results. The intangibles can also be the toughest to manage.
Some business leaders never see the business case for diversity in action. That is a shame, primarily because those leaders may never achieve their full potential. I believe that a business leader must understand the business case for diversity as it applies to his/her own unique business situation. It is something that you can’t get from a magazine or a case study; it comes from true introspection, and analysis of facts and beliefs that may take you through some uncomfortable places. I know this because I have done that work, and because I revisit it from time to time.
For most employees, getting a new boss is not a good thing. Just when they have the old boss “trained,” a new boss comes in on a mission to make an impact. After all, if the new boss doesn’t change anything, why do you need a new boss…right?
Managers tend to have a lot of reasons for poor and missing documentation when it comes to employee actions. Some of the common reasons actually sound … almost… valid.
Studies suggest that many employees feel busier now than they felt 5 years ago. It may be due to businesses “doing more with less,” mobile technology, globalization of business, family and personal activities or any number of other factors. I tend to think of employees as the hub in a wheel with many spokes. The wheel represents the employee’s life. Each spoke represents something that draws resources (time, money, attention, etc.) from the employee. The spokes can be relationships (with family, friends, associates, coworkers, etc.), financial requirements, recreational activities, developmental activities (school, reading, etc.), work requirements… whatever the employee is dealing with at the time. Spokes can come and go, and their relative priority can change over time. In my model, each hub has different limits on its capacity to handle the pressures inherent in the wheel. Some hubs can manage more spokes than others; still, each hub has a finite capacity.
Celebration should be a central part of every Company’s operations. It is much too easy to focus on what’s going wrong. Missed targets, new competitors, lost proposals, product defects and other challenges demand urgent attention. The best employers fix the problems…while mixing in a party at any feasible opportunity. For our purposes, a party doesn’t have to be elaborate; a short, impromptu gathering to hear good news qualifies as a party – especially if everyone knows these impromptu gatherings are always good news.
Mistakes are a part of life for managers and employees (and every other human on the planet). Of course, mistakes usually result in something that needs to be fixed, which means rework, lost productivity, damaged relationships, and other outcomes that cost money. Since your Company is paying for the mistake anyway, why not get your money’s worth out of it? The best managers use employee mistakes to teach and develop their employees. To think about mistakes solely in terms of the inconvenience and cost incurred is like throwing money away.
As we approach the end of the year, many business leaders turn their attention to strategic planning. Where is the Company going? What are our options? When we choose an objective, how do we attain it? There are many questions to be answered while planning (which is best done as an ongoing, iterative process - not an event. More on that in a future blog post).