Friday, December 31, 2010

The 2010 scorecard - how did I measure up?

To be perfectly frank - 2010 was a fantastic year workwise.  I originally set out with three work goals that were focussed on both my individual performance as well as lifting the overall performance of my team.

Thise goals were -

  • Compliance. 
  • Excellence.
  • Teamwork.

Here are the big wins -

  • Pay rise.  (Always nice to get)
  • Travel - domestic and international.
  • Additional team member.
  • Confidence and growth.

What didn't go so well?

  • Allowing others to take responsibilities that fall under me.
  • Inability to deal with poor perfornance.
  • Lack of forwardness.

Overall 2010 was a completely stand out year.  My key goals were not only met but exceeded.  I am really looking forward to 2011 and seeing what possibilities and opportunities lay ahead.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Orwell's 1984 - My challenges for 2011

The novel 1984 is one of my absolute favorite books of all time.  In this book the world we read about is run by a single(?) figure known as Big Brother.  All the people of the world are subjected to draconian laws and are hemmed into small boxes that define who and what they ultimately are.

In this book Smith attempts to break free from the system and begin a new course of life.  He indulges in the pleasures of true relationship as well as nostalgia and memorabilia only to have the system know what he is up to and then shut him down.

So this book isn't necessarily directly related to management but then again it is.  Here is my motto for 2011 based on the lessons in this book - DO NOT CONFORM.

Don't get me wrong, I work for a great employer.  My issue is about not allowing myself to fall into the mindless trap of simply turning up, clocking in and clocking out at the end of the day. 

Here are my strategies for the New Year -

  • Challenge the status quo - do things different.
  • Go out on a limb and find things that will challenge me.
  • I work in a team and with real people but not for a faceless corporation.
  • The individual and their person is respected above all else.
  • Avoid and ignore faceless and factless dictates from others.

A bit harsh?  I know.  Stay tuned for more positive and cheery blog posts in the next few days.

 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

3 Ways to Become a Thought Leader

Everyone has a personal brand these days. But if you want to move ahead you need to be more than the "finance guy who understands the business." Distinguish yourself as someone with a truly unique perspective respected inside and outside the organization. Here are three ways to do that:

  1. Build your online presence. The internet is a perfect place to start showcasing your knowledge. Post comments on blogs, write your own posts, and connect with other bloggers to create a network.
  2. Win some awards. Identify awards that matter in your industry and don't be afraid to nominate yourself, or convince colleagues to do it for you.
  3. Flaunt well thought-of affiliations. Your associations aren't always in your control but if you have a degree from a top school or testimonials from important people, display them prominently. Credibility by proxy is valuable.

via: Harvard Business Review (Management Tip of the Day - December 21st, 2010)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Break

I am now officially on Christmas holidays and have a full two and a half weeks away from work.  I will attempt to write some blog posts during my break but make no promises.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.  There are billions of them out there in the blogosphere and I deeply appreciate tou taking your time to stop by and read my thoughts.

Feliz Navidad and I will see you again in the new year if I don't catch up with you before then.

Social media can be hazardous to your health

With the multitude of social networking tools and systems avaialable today it has become super easy for employees to vent about those people that they work with or work for.

Social media is a two edged sword.  People can connect together really quickly and remotely with ease.  Therefore the sharing of information is super easy.  The issue arises when the information and casual conversation becomes negative and pointed at people.

Remember every friend you have on facebook or through twitter can see the conversations that you are having.  And they might, just might, tell the person who you have been talking about what has been said about them.

"Be careful out there people."

 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cross organisational relationships are necessary

One of the biggest areas that I have had to work hard on over the past few years has been keeping in touch with others in my organisation.  While the building I work in is located on the main campus we are seperated both physically and psychologically from the rest if the campus.

Our building is the only one of three buildings that are not located in the central layout of buildings.  Of the other two buildings one is used only for special occassions and the other building is serviced by and for our clients - the students./

So what strategies have I employed to keep in touch with the main campus?

  1. Attend social times.  Morning tea, lunch times and other breaks are a perfect time to catch up with what is happening around the traps.  Be careful though - avoid the negativity and any rubbish talk that may take place.
  2. Join working parties.  If a project is going on somewhere then get involved.  Joining into a cross organisation project is a great way to extend your influence and also your connections.
  3. Get out of your chair.  The old adage goes that if you want friends then you first need to be a friend.  Nothing has changed.  People enjoy personal contact and speaking to someone in real life.

Staying in touch with people is not hard but it does require hard work and discipline.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Honor those who deserve it!

One of the best things that has been instituted within my workplace is the annual awarding of the CEO awards to those staff members that have displayed exceptional and outstanding qualities during the previous 12 months.

In the beginning a lot of staff were blase about the whole thing due to it's being so new.  Staff wondered just how long the gimmick would last.  I am proud to say that 2010 was the fifth time that the awards have been given out and the recipients this year were stellar.

Here is what is great about the awards -

  • Hard workers are rewarded and honored by both management and their peers.
  • There is a financial reward for continued professional development which means the business is prepared to reinvest into those people and have their success shared around.
  • The ongoing awarding over the years adds an element of prestige and glamour. 

The awards are a bit like the Oscars in that those who have shown both longevity and stand out achievements become the winners.

One important aspect of handing out awards is that they must be relevant, timely and the recipients must be held in high regard.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Rubrics: the mechanics of effective evaluation

A rubric is a tool that is used in self assessment and effective evaluation.  "A rubric is an explicit set of criteria used for assessing a particular type of work or performance." (tltgroup.org)

What a rubric does is provide a multi-level framework for detailed assessment.  In the same way as a graph there is a X axis and also a Y axis.  Then at regular stages or intersects, a line is drawn and eventually a series of boxes beome apparent.

So a rubric uses multiple points of source data to create an overall picture of the subject.  Evaluation moves from a yes/no strategy to a multi faceted approach that is far more robust.

The way we apply the rubric for evaluation is by comparing hard data against soft data.  So on the X axis we apply a points scheme for quantitative data.  Where a measure has been reached a value is given to the outcome.  For example - if 30 sales are made within a month then that value may be 5, repeat sales equal 7 points and so on and so on.  When a total is reached then a point is plotted on the rubric.

On the Y axis a self assessment exercise takes place.  This is where reflective practice is carried out and the individual and their manager reflect on the qualitative data and create a value also.  One factor may be the measurement of customer satisfaction for any given sale.

Interestingly - you effective evaluation requires the application and submission of evidence for both the qualitative and the quantitative.

So when we combine the X axis and the Y axis data points we have a point of reference in the rubric.  Where rubrics differ from standard plot graphs is that the final outcome or result is dependant upon multiple factors and the final assessment or grade given falls into a described area rather than being a single data point.

For example - a rubric could contain quadrants.  Poor, Average, Good, Excellent.  Depending upon the X and Y scores the final data point will end up in one of those areas.  Once the rubric has been completed - then you have a starting point from which to start making changes.

For more detail on creating a rubric I recommend you check out this video -

Honor those who deserve it!

One of the best things that has been instituted within my workplace is the annual awarding of the CEO awards to those staff members that have displayed exceptional and outstanding qualities during the previous 12 months.

In the beginning a lot of staff were blase about the whole thing due to it's being so new.  Staff wondered just how long the gimmick would last.  I am proud to say that 2010 was the fifth time that the awards have been given out and the recipients this year were stellar.

Here is what is great about the awards -

  • Hard workers are rewarded and honored by both management and their peers.
  • There is a financial reward for continued professional development which means the business is prepared to reinvest into those people and have their success shared around.
  • The ongoing awarding over the years adds an element of prestige and glamour. 

The awards are a bit like the Oscars in that those who have shown both longevity and stand out achievements become the winners.

One important aspect of handing out awards is that they must be relevant, timely and the recipients must be held in high regard.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Describing what self assessment is

"Self-assessment is a structured, objective and visible procedure or set of procedures whereby individuals, groups and management within an operating organization evaluate the effectiveness of their own operational safety against predetermined targets, goals and other performance expectations. The self-assessment process is only complete when the corrective actions have been implemented and their adequacy confirmed."

"Self-assessment is essentially a critical comparison of existing activities and results against a predetermined set of performance expectations."(Source: http://canteach.candu.org/library/20051901.pdf)

The excerpts above come directly from a document that relates to safety practise within nuclear power plants.  However we can apply the same principles of self assessment and evaluation to every area of our lives.

Being self aware and reflective helps us to understand the past and what has happened, examine the present and what is happening, as well as look toward the future - what will happen.

"A battle lost or won is easily described, understood, and appreciated, but the moral growth of a great nation requires reflection, as well as observation, to appreciate it." Frederick Douglass

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The language and vocabulary of effective evaluation

The key to a successful evaluation depends upon the language that you invoke, and in turn the emotions that those words generate.  One does not have to be a literary giant or an English professor to have the right words.  Rather it is the way the words are strung together and the process used to ensure there are sharp outcomes.

So the words are not providing an answer but rather provide prompts and pricks that stimulate the mind to more deeply consider and reflect upon the matter or subject at hand.

Words that are used include - robust, well defined, appropriate, genuine,implement, critical, credible, accurate, valid, evidence, outcomes, analysis, authentic, confidence, thinking, reflection, relevant, practical, foundations.

"The self assessment is not an exercise in good writing. Rather, it is an opportunity for an employee to describe major contributions and how the work meets or exceeds the supervisor’s performance expectations." (Source: http://www.cpms.osd.mil/nsps/docs/selfassessmentfactsheet.pdf)

As far as we in education go the language focuses on the outcomes and successes of the learners.  The great thing about evaluation in education is that it allows educators to be assessed against hard data but also against the intangible outcomes and rewards that learners gain,

I certainly do not profess to be any sort of expert in this field of thinking as I have only just discovered the beauty of it.  I do however want to share my reflections on what I have learnt so far and so share my musings with you here.

For more information about evaluations I recommend you check out Jara Dean Coffey's website and blog.

The language and vocabulary of effective evaluation

The key to a successful evaluation depends upon the language that you invoke, and in turn the emotions that those words generate.  One does not have to be a literary giant or an English professor to have the right words.  Rather it is the way the words are strung together and the process used to ensure there are sharp outcomes.

So the words are not providing an answer but rather provide prompts and pricks that stimulate the mind to more deeply consider and reflect upon the matter or subject at hand.

Words that are used include - robust, well defined, appropriate, genuine,implement, critical, credible, accurate, valid, evidence, outcomes, analysis, authentic, confidence, thinking, reflection, relevant, practical, foundations.

"The self assessment is not an exercise in good writing. Rather, it is an opportunity for an employee to describe major contributions and how the work meets or exceeds the supervisor’s performance expectations." (Source: http://www.cpms.osd.mil/nsps/docs/selfassessmentfactsheet.pdf)

As far as we in education go the language focuses on the outcomes and successes of the learners.  The great thing about evaluation in education is that it allows educators to be assessed against hard data but also against the intangible outcomes and rewards that learners gain,

I certainly do not profess to be any sort of expert in this field of thinking as I have only just discovered the beauty of it.  I do however want to share my reflections on what I have learnt so far and so share my musings with you here.

For more information about evaluations I recommend you check out Jara Dean Coffey's website and blog.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Self assessment and evaluation

The NZ education system has undergone a sea change and has moved from a system of auditting to self assessment and evaluation.  Under the old system educfators were treated like accountants in that the entire method of teaching was reduced down to a series of numbers and basic measurements.  So if an organisation was good at writing reports then they could massage the numbers in order to meet their own purposes.

Under self assessment and evaluation the organisations are given the power to get their business right from the outset.  Self assessment and appraisal is something that most people do intuitively and generally pretty well.

There are three basic questions that underpin the self assessment method -

  1. Whats up?  (Where are we at?  Whats going on?)
  2. So what? (What does this mean?)
  3. Now what? (Where to from here?  What and how can we improve?)

Self assessment changes everything.  Why does everything change?  Because all the questions, and ultimately all the answers, are all forward facing and future focussed.

It is geared towards ensuring that students achieve their desired outcomes and goals while returning value to the major investor - the government. 

I thoroughly recommend that you find out more on evaluations with a click here.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I am out to lunch

I am away at an educational conference for a couple of days and can't promise that I will write some blog posts.  So this post is to let you know that I am -

 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Book review: Showing Up For Life

Bill Gates' father (William Gates Sr) has taken the time to collect his thoughts and collate them into a handy little book of wisdom.  There are lots of stories and anecdotes that span an entire century and reach from the early 1900's all the way through to 2009.

This is a book deeply set in reality.  There are reflections on surviving the depression, hard work, starting out in life and integrity.  After being married for 42 years Mrs Gates passed away and there are some very nice reflective yet instructful stories from the life of Mary Gates as well.

What I really enjoyed about this book is it's honesty and it's sincerity.  This is not a book about Microsoft or Bill Gates but a book about life.  How to live, make the most of everyday and ultimately leave a lasting legacy through the words you say, the acts you complete and the influence you leave behind.

This is not a management book (in the purest sense).  This book is a common sense guide to life packed full of wisdom and insight.  The evidence that Mr Gates' experiences and philosophies work is best shown through the results of his family and legacy.

You can also check out Mr Gates own thoughts here as well.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Keeping up with management trends

One thing I work hard on is trying to keep up with new ideas that deal with management, human resources and how to be a better everyday manager.
So my eye's really lit up when I saw a tweet from @teenarose with the line "No-cost white papers, mags, and guides for management and executive professionals http://adjix.com/zwrx".
So now I have shared that link with you here are a few more -
And on iTunes I listen to -
  • Entreprenurial Thought Leaders (Stanford)
  • Manager Tools
  • The Knowledge Interchange (Cranfield)
  • McKinsey Quarterly
  • Inspiring Words of Encouragement
And then for new trendy new stories I go to -
  • Twitter.
One essential part of being a great leader is to be fresh, keep thinking and always look ahead.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Reflections on performance appraisals

The end of the financial year is quickly coming up in us and now is the time to look at employees performance over the past 12 months.  Here are a few thoughts and musings that I have had on the subject -

  1. Performance appraisals appraise performance.  It can be easy to confuse the two if you have an employee with whom you don't get along with or who may have ticked you off recently.  Ignore that and stick to tangible results.
  2. Setting KPI's is better done in  the following year than in the current.  So much can change in the workplace over Christmas and New Years.  This is especially true in countries where it is the summer season at this time.  many workplaces close down and go on vacation at this time.  So it is a good idea to set performance targets after people have returned to work and you have a better idea of the landscape and upcoming expectations.
  3. There are no limits on how many people exceed expectations.  If people are exceeding the performance targets set for them and are consistently doing well then tell them.  Don't place limits on how many people can be the star of the month.  Some people are driven by competition while many others are turned off by it. 
  4. Appraise people on the tasks and goals you agreed on at the last meeting.  When reports understand what targets they are being judged on and against then that empowers them better to try and achieve.  Hidden goals or targets demotivate and reduce trust between the manager and the employee.
  5. People are individuals.  Set individual goals and performance targets.  There can be team goals and strategies set in place but you still need to remember that people are individuals.  Individuals respond better than teams but teams are better at achieving bigger goals.
  6. Reward, praise and motivate.   Great employees deserve to be told what a great job they are doing.  And more than that they need to be rewarded appropriately for the work they have done. 

There is no greater motivator than pure praise and reward.

 

 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Toastmasters teaches you stuff

I joined Toastmasters in April of this year (2010).  I have had a lot of experience with public speaking and have no issues when talking to groups of people.  But even with my love of public speaking have learnt so much it's almost unreal.

Toastmasters is great because it is a slow process of coaching and improvement.  You get to watch others, listen to the commendations and recommendations and even have a turn yourself.

The safe environment of a club is great.  Others in your club know how it feels and can mirror back to you both your good and not so good speaking habits and traits.  Speeches are generally 5 to 7 minutes so the time is very manageable. 

The first lesson I learned was the professionalism of a meeting.  Every speech is timed, every member has a role or a speaking part and once the clock starts ticking everyone (should) act professionally.

Competitions are very interesting.  There is a huge difference between speaking to give a speech and speaking in a competitive way.  Even for the pro's the butterflies come out at competition time so Toastmasters is a great way to conquer your fears.

In our club we have one lady who has developed from not speaking to anyone at all - all the way through to being somewhat confident and able to stand in front of a group of people.  I totally recommend Toastmasters as a professional development tool.  For both the confident and the not confident alike.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Be, Know, Do - Army Leadership

The November issue of the HBR focuses on what we can learn from the army as far as leadership and management lessons.  This is the opening quote - "Competent leaders of character are necessary for the Army to meet the challenges in the dangerous and complex security environment we face."

What I discovered years ago was the US army's manual and guidebook for leadership.  The leadership mantra and philosophy is defined as follows -

  1. Be - who a person is.  The essence of the person.
  2. Know - understanding the tactics, strategy and management of any given situation.
  3. Do - putting into practice and combining who we are with what needs to be done.

"The Army uses the shorthand expression of BE-KNOW-DO to concentrate on key factors of leadership. What leaders DO emerges from who they are (BE) and what they KNOW. Leaders are prepared throughout their lifetimes with respect to BE-KNOW-DO so they will be able to act at a moment’s notice and provide leadership for whatever challenge they may face."

This is where it is at.  Knowing what to do, knowing when to do it and then doing with full confidence - thats leadership.

For more detailed information I recommend you start here - http://www.fas.org/irp/doddir/army/fm6-22.pdf

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ssshhhhh - HR is coming!

Have you ever been in the situation where there was something going down but no one would talk about it?  Managers have secret meetings behind closed doors and the whispers and rumours run rampant around the office.  Ever had one of those days?

And then to top it all off - Human Resources want to talk to everyone!  Aahhhhh!

Here's my view - Human Resources shouldn't be the big ogre.  If you only see your Human Resources Department went things are going badly - then things really are going badly.

Human Resources and the work they do is vital to the overall health of an organisation.  The development and continual improvement of employees gives an organisation more value than the management of restructures, redundancies and dismissals.

So what would I do if I was in Human Resources? 

  • Take the initiative and start working with people to identify the deficits in peoples knowledge and work skills in the organisation - and get their learning to improve.
  • Be more visible.  Walk around the organisation and talk to people about their jobs.  Like most central functions it is easy for those in the middle to have no understanding of what is taking place at the coal face.
  • Start working (I mean really working) with the talent in the organisation.  A lot of HR departments assume they are nurturing talent but I have yet to see it happen.  Maybe I am just missing out?

Friday, November 19, 2010

How to answer your critics - Rob Fyfe

When one setion of the New Zealand media decided that they disagreed with the strategic directiion that the CEO wanted to head in - they published ab article that equated to a roast.

Here was his response -

So what can we learn from this?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

7 tips for a great work wardrobe

First impressions last.  Lasting impressions aren't always the first impressions that you make.

The most obvious way to impress or not impress as the case may be is the way you dress.  Dressing well need not break the bank nor be that hard to accomplish.

Here are my recommendations for keeping in step with fashion and how not to break the bank while you are at it -

  1. Watch what is happening as far as clothing trends go.  I recommend http://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/style/dresser/galleries as the best place to start.  Knowing what trends are happening now and are coming shortly is important to know.
  2. Start with black.  This is the easiest colour to wear clothes with.  Simple.  Don't get stuck with black or wear it too often.  Vary the colours that you wear with black and begin to expand your choice of colours.
  3. Buy a great coat or jacket.  A great jacket can cover a multitude of shirts and tops.  In fact it may be a better idea to invest in two jackets.  that way you can easily alternate them.
  4. Get shoes that are simple and go with everything.  One great pair of shoes looked after well can last a long time.
  5. Shop online at auction sites.  Often times business people (especially real estate people) turn over the clothes in their wardrobe quite often.  So you can pick up clothes that aren't that old and still have plenty of life in them - cheap as chips! 
  6. Spend good money on buying a suit.  Nothing looks quite as good as a man in a suit!
  7. Accessories make a big difference. An interesting cheat that some managers use is they have a base shirt or top and then they simply vary the accessory such as the tie.  So you could invest in a swag of white shirts (e.g. 5) and then have 15 or 20 ties and you will appear to have a different look every day of the working week.

Pair up the latest style trends with what's going cheap on your favourite auction site and you can leave an impression on people that will last longer than your wardrobe does.

5 tips for a great work wardrobe

First impressions last.  Lasting impressions aren't always the first impressions that you make.
The most obvious way to impress or not impress as the case may be is the way you dress.  Dressing well need not break the bank nor be that hard to accomplish.
Here are my recommendations for keeping in step with fashion and how not to break the bank while you are at it -
  1. Watch what is happening as far as clothing trends go.  I recommend http://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/style/dresser/galleries as the best place to start.  Knowing what trends are happening now and are coming shortly is important to know.
  2. Start with black.  This is the easiest colour to wear clothes with.  Simple.  Don't get stuck with black or wear it too often.  Vary the colours that you wear with black and begin to expand your choice of colours.
  3. Buy a great coat or jacket.  A great jacket can cover a multitude of shirts and tops.  In fact it may be a better idea to invest in two jackets.  that way you can easily alternate them.
  4. Get shoes that are simple and go with everything.  One great pair of shoes looked after well can last a long time.
  5. Shop online at auction sites.  Often times business people (especially real estate people) turn over the clothes in their wardrobe quite often.  So you can pick up clothes that aren't that old and still have plenty of life in them - cheap as chips! 
Pair up the latest style trends with what's going cheap on your favourite auction site and you can leave an impression on people that will last longer than your wardrobe does.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Getting in the trenches

There is power in being visible when you are a manager.  There is even more power when you demonstrate to people that you are willing/prepared to jump in with them and assist in the trenches.

While some people may think that sitting in an office writing reports (effectively looking backwards) constitutes good management this completely misses the point!  Management and managers should be forward looking and in touch with the action.

This is one danger area that I encountered when I became a new manager.  That is balancing the demands from senior management to write reports and to be seen to be in control while not losing touch with the real people actually doing the work.  It is still something I struggle with - a lot.

Here's what I try to do to keep ion touch (with the real workers) -

  1. Talk to them in their workspace.  If they are on the worksite then I visit the worksite.  With our gardening staff it is great to visit them when they are working in the greenhouse.  With our sawmill staff - I go to the sawmill.
  2. Keep in touch.  Phone calls are a simple method.  Not always effective but simple.  Certainly more effective than an email is.
  3. Don't just focus on the emergencies.  It is easy to get busy with the emergencies.  The emergency gets dealt with and you have a stronger relationship with that team or that person.  But what happens next?  Keep in touch and keep working together.

I know I always appreciate it more when my manger gets in the trenches with me and demonstrates from the front that they are working with me to make change happen.

(Image: coutesy of Woody389 on flickr creative commons)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Treat others the way you want to be treated.

Rule number 1.  Treat others how you want to be treated.

Let your reports fiish early oh days when it's quiet.  If there's a crisis at home - let them go and fix it.  When the presuures on - they will repay you.  If they don't - repay them by letting them go.

 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Mr Maslow still has it right!

Students completing Psychology 101 will no doubt start with Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.  What Mr Maslow did was map out the pyramid of human needs and calculated which were more important than others.  I tend to agree with Mr Maslow and I think he got it right, very right!

If we apply Mr Maslow's work by looking at the skills of a manager - guess what - nothing changes!

 

 

Physiological Needs
The base needs for people need to be able to breathe - both literally and metaphorically.  That is people need the time and space to express themselves, to let their creativity and ideas flow and to be able to innovate.  ACTION = schedule some creative time for you and your team to relax, think and explore the possibilities of what if?

Security Needs
Knowing that your job will still exist when you come to work tomorrow is pretty important. Sometimes people get too secure in this area but that tends to be the exception rather than the rule (as far as I know).  And sometimes it is good to have tenure or short term contracts to create momentum and fill the gaps but overall security = production.  ACTION = let your employees know you've got their back.  Let them feel secure and that when it comes to the crunch - you're with them through thick and thin.

Social Needs
People need to feel like they belong, have love and affection. One good friend at work is worth thirty acquantainces.  Social needs are quite complex and need fostering. Managers especially are susceptible to closig off and limiting the people they interact with.  This is due mainly to busyness and the pressures of time.  The need hasn't changed but the method for fulfillment does.  ACTION - find a friend and have coffee with them at least once a fortnight.

Esteem Needs
This can be the make or break of a manager/employee relationship.  Everydody, and especially employees, relate better, work better and get far better results whtn they have a high self-esteem, sense of personal worth, social recognition and accomplishment.  ACTION - Praise your people.

Self-actualizing Needs
This is the highest level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Self-actualizing people are self-aware, concerned with personal growth, less concerned with the opinions of others and interested fulfilling their potential.  So?  Work on developing your people!  Notice that this is the top of the pyramid?  This is the cream on top.  This is where employees move beyond merely showing up and start adding real value to your business.  Let them grow and watch the results come in!  ACTION - work with your people to reflect on their needs and development areas.  Then invest and review.

(For more see: http://psychology.about.com/od/theoriesofpersonality/a/hierarchyneeds.htm)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Review: The Art of Influence

The Art of Influence is a very short and very punchy parable.  It tells the story of how a recent graduate from business school meets up with one of the leading business leaders of the time and is taught some valuable lessons.

This is a short story.  It won't take long to read.  What it will do though is give you food for thought and some really important life lessons.

While there are four obvious laws that are stated (without giving them away) there also plenty of other thoughts, stories and pieces of wisdom that wind their way through the book.  A lot like the fable of Hansel and Gretel this story weaves its way along a path and encourages you to follow it.

Chris Widener is the author and has done a great job on this book.  Interestingly this book reminds me a lot of the other parable 'Who moved my cheese'.

This is a book or audio story that is well worth investing in annd aharing with your friends.  A quick note - you can probably skip the first half of the book and start at the chapter where the first law is introduced by Mr Gold.  The introductory content before this chapter doesn't add a whole lot to the over all story.

My final opinion - four stars out of five,

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Communication - it's essential to get it right

In my organisation there are a number of central departments and committees who make decisions that affect how and when of the strategy and administrative processes for our organisation. At each meeting of those various committees minutes are taken and a record is kept of the main action points, resolutions made and decisions finalised.

Each department has designated attendees for each committee whose role it is to attend, provide robust discussion and state the departments view of any decision being reached.  However there are leaks in the pipes of information.  So what should we do fix it?

  1. Communicate the main points to the people who actually do the work.  People at the front line need to be told over and over and over again what the new rules and expectations of them are.
  2. Meet with the appropriate people in person.  Get together and talk about it face to face.  Chances are there will be more answers than questions.  Keep the agenda tight, the points sharp
  3. Stay visible and contactable.  People need to know who you are and where you can be reached at.  For clear communication to take place - people don't want to and probably won't play hide and seek with the information that they need.
  4. When you think people have got it - say it again!  You can never repeat the message enough times.  When it gets annoying is after the thid time you have said something and you still haven't made any progress or taken any action.  That sucks.

There will always be room for improvement when it comes to communication.  The best place is to start - is at the beginning!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Smart marketing - putting it in reverse.

This is one of the most powerful advertising videos I have seen in a long time.

How does it work?  It takes a simple idea - before and after - and reverses the cycle.

Super effective and very, very moving.

This fantastic video was created by Ogilvy.com.  To see more of their great work head over to their website.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Leadership lessons - Michael Jordan

 

  1. Actions speak louder than words.
  2. Lead from the front - talk to people and tell them what a great job they are doing.
  3. Your attitude is contagious.
  4. Practice makes perfect.
  5. Patience is everything.
  6. When the heat is on - you be the leader!
  7. Rise to the occasion and do what it takes.
  8. No regrets.

"The ultimate show and tell.  Telling the team how to do it and showing them how it's done."

Monday, November 8, 2010

Women in charge (NZ workforce census 2010)

Every two years the Human Rights Commission carries out a voluntary survey of the top companies and executives and governance bodies across New Zealand. There were a number of interesting points to arise out of the data. Here are a few items that I found interesting -
  • Thirteen companies out of 100 have two or more board members who are women. 
  • Only 43 of the top 100 companies have any female directors.
  • Two women hold the top jobs as chief executives among the top 100 NZSX companies.
Unfortunately the numbers don't lie. The statistics speak for themselves.
 
So what does this say about women and governance/leadership?
 
Male dominated areas of governance in New Zealand continue unabated.

Friday, November 5, 2010

With change comes increased opportunities!


(Source: http://www.millennialmedia.com/wp-content/images/SMART/MillennialMedia-SMART-September-2010.pdf
So if I have a product or service to offer that directly targets or could be used by moms - what advertising avenue do you think I would use?  And if the moms are that intelligent and tech savvy then how much more are the kids?


32% of moms own a Smartphone in 2010 vs. 20% in 2009 (a 60% increase).
32% of moms say they use the Mobile Internet once a week in 2010 vs. 20% in 2009 (a 60% increase).

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Review: How I did it... Anne Mulcahy

Anne Mulcahy is a person whom I had never heard of before until earlier this year.  Since then I have been excited, encouraged and enthused by her and what she has achieved in the world of business.  Being the CEO of Xerox is no easy task and one that has plenty of opportunities as well as pitfalls.

In the October 2010 edition of the Harvard Business Review Anne outlines in an article the whys and how’s of both succession planning and handover.  The story and the article are very honest and very little is hidden.  There are quite a few lessons and stories shared that have a lot of wisdom about them.

I enjoyed the honesty of the situation and the way the entire process was handled.  Another interesting part to this story is the fact that not only was one woman in charge of Xerox but she handed over the controls to another woman.  The fact that both Anne and her successor were able to garner the confidence and support of the board and directors is phenomenal.

If you were to only read one article or story about business this year - this would be the one that I recommend.

 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The ability to walk away

One key to long term success is to know and understand when it is time to walk away from a responsibility, a task or a project when you have done all you can and can't do anymore.  This year I have co-ordinated a qualification (which is made up of 8 papers taught over two semesters) as well as keep on with my day job as school administration manager.

Now I am quite aware that next year the qualification needs someone better than me to take it to the next level.  Honestly, I don't have any issue with that at all.  In fact the project has launched me on a huge learning ride and has totally changed the way i see both my teams and my own approach to how we do our jobs.

So with that in mind here are a few things I will do and recommend you should do if you reach the same point -

  • Give it over to someone better.  If it is your choice to pick who to hand the project over to then pick someone who is better than you are in the specific areas that the project needs work done in.   
  • Have a transition plan.  Stopping dead in your tracks and wallking away without doing a clean handover is detrimental to all the work you have done.
  • Continue to support your successor however you can.

My key skill is getting projects up off the ground and having the ability to get the ball rolling.  Now that we have accomplished that fact now it's time to hand over the running to someone else.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Let people get on with their work.

I enjoy sitting back and letting the people who report to me do their jobs without disturbance.  This has both pluses and minuses attached to it.

Positives.

  • Workers feel empowered to do their jobs.
  • Workers have the power and freedom to make changes and implement best practices as they see fit.
  • Workers have key responsibility areas and they held to account for those areas according to central reporting procedures.
  • I allow each worker to have a specific area of knowledge and responsibility that each of the others could do but don't because they allow the information expert to cover it.

Negatives.

  • There are times when I may not provide enough guidance in smaller matters.
  • Workers sometimes look to others for guidance and leadership if they feel that I am not interested in what they are doing.
  • Workers don't ask for new tasks as quickly as they could when their work load dries up.

How do I manage the good and the bad?

  • Daily catch ups and reports.  Every day I speak to all each member of my team and get a quick overview of what they are working on and what their priorities are for the day.  This is done in an informal and casual way.
  • Use central timelines and reports to keep people honest.  Each person knows what the timelines are for work expectations and administrative support.  I don't need to wave a big stick because the accountabilities are already in place.
  • Let people create and understand the peculiar rythms of each of their particular roles.

In management (as with most areas of life) one size doesn't fit all - all the time.  Know your workers, find out what motivates them and then set them free to do what they are best at.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Employment matters and discussions.

When it comes to discussing peoples employment matters (especially in regards to contracts) then be early, be sincere and be honest,  No one likes to get screwed.  Remember - you reap what you sow.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Increase your performance with four easy steps

The best way to improve your performance in life is to measure, plan, change and review.  Want to improve your performance?  Lets view these four steps in action using physical fitness as our example.
  1. Start measuring.  Find some parts of your role/life that can be measured and measure them.  For example - how much time do you spend each day working on your fitness? 
  2. Start planning.  After you have your measurements then you will have a clear idea on where your issues may be and you can start planning on what and how you are going to improve.
  3. Start changing.  Put your plan into action.  Start making changes - small ones at first and then grow those changes into larger and bigger changes.  The important thing here is that the changes are incremental and sustainable in the long term.
  4. Start reviewing.  This is where you begin the cycle again from step one.  Look at where you were when you first measured, assess the plan - did it work?, were the changes too much - just enough - or too much?, then start all over again.
The more data and measuring you do, the easier it is to judge if you are improvinr or not.  Another aspect to this is getting a coach.  Find an expert who can look at your performance impartially and who can guide you towards making improvements.



Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Getting your customers attention - number 2

I love this video.  What happens is customers (movie goers) interact with the a part of the product (in this case a movie) and have a real life experience.
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This is great.  Shifting a two dimensional experience into the real life - unforgettable!
This simple method of creating the customer experience is the glue that companies need to engage and entice with.  Get real people having real life experiences with your offering.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Teaming up with others is smart strategy

Meeting new people and developing relationships with others is one vital key towards future growth and success.  Step outside of your usual and comfortable circles of friends and take a risk.
I like to attend events with people with whom I would otherwise never meet or interact with.  One such person that I have met recently is Tabitha Roder.  Tabitha is an e-learning specialist and is involved with a project called 'olpc' (one laptop per child).  Now I had never heard of olpc or Tabitha (no offense) before I went to a conference.  I am so glad I took a risk, introduced myself and made a new friend.
The same goes for you.  Here's the challenge -
  1. Register for a conference where you know no-one and none of the content.
  2. Set yourself a goal of how many people you want to meet and have good converstaions with.  Example - 3 people per day.
  3. Get peoples business cards and contact details - and follow up!
"A man's growth is seen in the successive choirs of his friends."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, October 25, 2010

Growth and improvement is both constant and attainable

While reading the book 'Be Iron Fit' the author shares a very interesting anecdote about understanding what it takes to achieve and to be a better performer.  He shares a story where he was down on himself because he did not achieve the goal he set for himself when he tried.
Upon review he found that there was 1:40 seperating himself from the guy who beat him.  That equated to a 1% increase in performance.  How hard is it to increase performance by such a small amount?
I love the idea of this story in that with concentrated effort and small improvements then big changes can take place.  When you add together a number of 1% performance increases you can quickly move up to a 3% or 4% increase without noticing.
The same goes with being a good manager, marketer or mobiler.  Through changing our manufacturing methods, marketing returns on investment or ability for mobility then we can grow both ourselves and those around us.
Start by asking yourself the following question - where can I improve my performance by 1% in the next month?
Think about it - if you can improve what you do by 1% per month every month by the end of the year you will have increased your performance by a staggering 12%!
Try these quick areas to start changing and growing -
  • Communicating with others,  Say it once and say it clearly.  Don't repeat yourself.
  • Measure your statistics.  You need to know if what you are doing is actually affecting change or not. 
  • Re-evaluate what you do, how you do it, and why you do it.
  • Get someone else to assess you and tell you what they see.  Then change.
Growth takes time.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Mask of Command

Not everyone who is placed in a situation where leadership is required is able to command a sense of control.  Some people may even struggle with the thought that others are following them and are relying on them to blaze the way ahead.
When leading people it is important that someone takes charge.  At least one person has to take on the role of responsibility and accountability.  What is needed in the heat of the moment is that the leader at least appears to be in control.
In the book "The Mask of Command" John Keegan looks at this whole area by examining great leaders of history.
As modern leaders it is also important that when we are in charge we also work hard to at least appear to be in control.  So how do we do that?  Here are my thoughts -
  1. Start planning and implementing early.  In any situation the best way to exert control is to be the person with the plan.  By having a plan then you lead the way and others follow.  You decide what you want the final product to look like and start coordinating  everyone towards that goal.  Then get the plan rolling. 
  2. Get a consensus.  If you are going in a direction and no one is following you - then you are merely going for a walk.
  3. Double check your plan.  No plan is fool proof or 100% ready to roll when you start out.  When you are wearing the mask of command it is important that you get started on a path first, and then recheck your plan and path once you are rolling.  The idea is to create momentum and then the task of changing track is so much easier. More complex issues will arise if you have to complete a u-turn. 
  4. Public supporters count.  Let your closest supporters know that you expect a combined front of support from them in public.  Even if they vehemently oppose what you are trying to do or the methods you are undertaking.  When you are in charge it is vital that you have a support group that will be vocal in their support of you (at least in public).  One great saying I remember is 'praise publicly, criticise privately'.  That is if someone has an issue with the leader or the plan then they should agree with you in front of the entire group but have the ability to discuss it openly and frankly behind closed doors.
We have a saying at our Toastmasters club which I think is entirely appropriate for these situations - 'fake it until you make it'.  Check out this video which demonstrates this fact in a funny way - http://www.mayomo.com/65430

Friday, October 22, 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Knowing Your Styles Affects Your Project Management Skills

When you decide to start a new project or undertake a new event it is important that you get it right.  The easiest way to get it right is to understand who you are, what your strengths and weaknesses are as well as understand how you fit into the bigger picture.
Here is the way that I usually approach things and some of the lessons I have learnt when it comes to project and event management.
I usually try to get as much done as quickly as possible.  This is the classic boots and all approach.  All of the energy and ideas are created at the very beginning and are implemented very, very quickly.
Positives of this approach.  A plan is out together quickly and efficiently and the work gets started.  Big tasks are handled quickly and are moved off the list of things to do.  Energy levels are high and momentum can be created at this stage.
Minuses of this approach.  Stakeholders (internal and external) often are not consulted and a bulk of the projects are completed on the fly.  Often there is a lack of resources allocated and not all the possible scenarios are thought through.
What have I learned?
  • One key thing I have learnt is how I operate as a person and what my personality type is like.  I am a project starter and less of a project finisher.  I am good at spreading energy and enthusiasm early on and getting people to jump on board.
  • Small early wins lay the platform for bigger wins later.
  • I am aware that I need other people who have an eye for detail and who are better planners than I am.
  • I have also learnt that I need to engage internal stakeholder to assist with the project both at the beginning as well as bringing them in at later stages.
  • By spacing out your helpers getting involved you can use them to inject new levels of enthusiasm and energy as the project continues along. 
  • Early starters may need to drop out when they lose focus or momentum but that is not really a problem.  By releasing those people they can then revitalise themselves with a new project and if they want can rejoin your project at a later time.
So you there you go.  That's how I work.  I know what I'm good at and equally (hopefully) what I'm not so good at.  How about you?  What is your personality like and how does it affect the way you work?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Want new customers - get their attention! (Stand Out)

Getting peoples attention is the first step in getting them to engage as a customer.  Many people don't know that you exist or that you have a product or service that can help them out.

The key is getting those people to stop and look again at what it is that you have on offer.  If you have a product or offering that is just like everyone else's then you'll need to try really, really hard to get their attention.

If what you do is a little uncommon then you have a great chance of really engaging.  Like Seth Godin talks about the growth areas are on the outside of the circle, not in the middle.

So how do you do it?  How do you get people to stop? 
  1. Take a simple example from a complex method or process and explain it to people.  In the past week I used some little wooden shapes to get peoples attention and explained to them how wood processing works.  I also had a number of plant specimens and a microscope for people to look into.  Then I was able to explain to them what we do in plant biotechnology and science.
  2. Aim at people who aren't your target customers.  With the wooden kiwis I had I would look for older people (novelty value) and young kids (toys) to give them to.  Then with the older people I know that they will tell their family and friends about what they have and the kids get their parents to come and have a look at our stand and talk to me.  Its that simple.
  3. Get in peoples way.  This is the same as the two points above but more active.  Position yourself in such a way that people see you by chance and want to look at what you have on offer. 
The key is to get people to stop, talk and think about what you do.  If you can achieve these three things then you really are well on your way to gaining new customers.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Out of Order





Due to travel and work this blog is out of order until further notice (or Monday - whichever happens first!)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Demonstrating Real Leadership

Real leadership is a persons ability to see a need or a gap and having the courage to take charge. 

Here is my example.  Today we had a large bunch (about 120) school kids jam packed into one small room and area.  They were fidgety unruly and generally noisy.  That's what kids do!

What I really did was show leadership. At this point in time the staff member who was co-ordinating the event had to go elsewhere because other staff members hadn't shown up.



Where the leadership aspect comes into play is where I took the lead and tried to get the kids attention and got them thinking about the environment they were in.  I did this by asking them questions, moving their attention away from themselves and interacting with them.

Then when the appropriate staff turned up I worked with the co-ordinator to get the kids heading in the right direction (focus groups).  In this case leadership was demonstrated through getting the kids (13 and 14 year olds) to focus on something bigger than them and something worthwhile.

Leadership was also displayed by the co-ordinator who made fast decisions, co-ordinated people, got responses and then debriefed at the end.  Leadership is best shown in the heat of the moment that at the end of the crisis.



Leadership isn't always demonstrated through big events and world changing actions.  Real leadership is displayed when someone has the courage to step into a situation and make a difference. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Passing the Job Interview Test

I have had the privilege of helping to interview for a new role at our organisation.  There were three excellent and top quality interviewees who each had very different personalities but similar skill sets.

So here is what I observed -
  1. Walk into the room full of confidence and take advantage of the room.
  2. Don't talk too much.  If the interview panel go quiet or stop asking you leading questions then shut up and start listening.
  3. What you do outside of work is just as important as what you do inside work.  Being involved in clubs and teams shows that you think about others and are involved in the community.
  4. Use multiple examples and stories from your past.  Try not to get stuck repeating the same story or point.
  5. Name drop but don't drop bombs.  That is mention names of people that you have genuinely worked with and who know you.  Don't say you know the CE or similar if you really don't.
  6. Make eye contact with the interviewers.  When you shake hands with someone - look at them.  It's that simple.
  7. Dress nicely completely in your own style but in a way that fits the role that you are applying for.
  8. Talk about what you think the key goals would be for the organisation and how you will help achieve those goals.  In education - it's all about helping people succeed and achieve.
These are my observations from three very classy and high profile applicants.  Unfortunately there's only one position on offer.  Lets hope the best candidate accepts the offer when it comes!

(Image:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/danielfellowes/4389864201/)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Social Media Statistics

Amazingly even now in 2010 some people still aren't convinced that social media is a valid tool for marketing.  Honestly!  (Some of those people work at my workplace...)

If you click on the following link you will find a whole buch of statistics that relate to the Asia Pacific region speciifically - http://socialmedianz.com/opinion2/2010/10/09/an-eye-on-asia-social-media-growth/

So how do we as an education organisation engage?
  1. Facebook.  This is an interesting one.  Our main institute page has over 500 fans (which is not too shoddy) but the other pages for individual schools don't seem to be able to gain any traction.  The other interesting side to Facebook is that there are lots and lots of international students who use it to find out what the institute feels like and to let others know they are coming.
  2. Twitter.  Twitter is great for connecting with specific industry groups and organisations.  There is where we are able to engage in each of the different business units with our customers.
And what are great examples from other education providers?
  1. RMIT.  These guys are based in Melbourne, Australia.  They effectively engage using twitter and facebook to keep on touch with their stakeholders.  They design and implement their marketing strategies across all their various media channels.
  2. NorthTech.  For a polytechnic based in the far north of New Zealand these guys are great.  They are using YouTube to quietly and efficently show the world what they are up to.
The choice is clear.  Engage with customers in a non-threatening easy way through social media or keep hammering away using traditional methods like print media.  The choice is yours.  I know which one I prefer.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Good verses The Bad



Thursday, October 7, 2010

Social Media Policy

If your organisation is considering getting embracing social madia as a genuine tool for marketing and advertising - go for it!  It is super simple to use and it is generally free (except for the man hours of course).

If your organisation is going to get started I recommend the following -
  1. Establish some protocols and policies.  Make sure people know what the rules are around what they can and can't, should and shouldn't say in regards to your organisation.  If there are no rules - the people will run wild.
  2. Embrace the people using the technology.  Start by getting the people using social media for their own personal use to take up the challenge of using it to promote your organisation instead. 
  3. Get edgy in what you are doing and the tack you take.  With the internet you can tell your potential customers a different story.  Get a bit wild and maybe even a bit wicked.  On the internet - cool stuff spreads quickly.
  4. Pick the right web space to use and locate yourself in.  Different internet users use a variety of web platforms and pages.  Like all marketing the idea is to find where your customers are and go and speak to them where they are.
At the end of the day the statistics around social media use in your country are quite astounding.  Embrace social media before social media embraces you.

(Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/silvertje/3582813518/)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Help! I need somebody!

You're stuck.  What do you do?  Call for help.  Try these tips -
  1. Ask someone who knows.
  2. Get evidence and examples of what they have done that has worked.
  3. Edit don't author.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

gapingvoid gallery

Every day a new cartoon is created that relates to the world of business.  Over at gapingviod.com the focus is on creating small cartoons everyday that will both put a smile on your dial as well as get your brain ticking over.

Head over to the website by clicking this link and check it out for yourself - gapingvoid gallery

Monday, October 4, 2010

Navigating the Political River

When you start working for a bigger organisation (like more than one employee or owner) then the ability to make a decision or create action can be stifled.  This is the time that your ability to negotiate the currents and torrents of politics.


Here are a few points that will help you in your quest - 
  1. Be quiet, watch and learn.  The idea here is to listen more than you speak.  Watch what is really going on in your workplace. 
  2. Know the players.  The key here is to know who is in control of what and how much influence each person has.  This is where positional power vs real power comes to the fore.  Even though one person may have the job title sometimes there may be another person who can influence that person.  Know which is which.
  3. Create alliances.  I recommend creatiing multiple small wins for key players as and when you can.  I do not condone kissing up because it mjight get you somewhere.  What I am for is being yourself and creating genuine wins for others.  You reap what you sow.
Political savvy is an important skill in every aspiring managers arsenal. 

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