Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Human Capital Management have made this awesome video and posted it onto You Tube.  I have put it here and will add my contribution further down the page.

What value do you place on your work?  What value is placed on you?  Do you rate yourself or not?

Conversely - What value do you place on others work?  What value do you place on others?  How do you measure that value and is that measure relevant or accurate?

Here are a few facts of life as far as organisation's go -

  • Size matters.  The bigger the organisation the less they know about you.  What happens is the more layers in an organisation the more removed you will be from the central services.
  • Front Line Managers matter! The relationship between you and your direct manager is always the most important relationship you will have.  This is true if you are the cleaner all the way through to if you are a Director of the Board.  You must work with your boss!
  • The HR Department matters!  Admitted in most organisations the only time you most people will interact with HR is when they are hired or if they are fired.  But it doesn't have to be that way!  Go out of yur way to meet the staff and make sure they remember who you are (for the right reasons of course).  It pays to make friends and keep them for as long as you can.
  • The skills and abilities of your staff matter!  Update them!  Watch your staff.  Learn from them.  Be open to having your staff tell you where they think what sklls they need to work on and develop.  If you disagree you can help steer them in a better direction.  Create an audit or questionaire to work through at appraisal time to help lead and guide your discussions about where peoples skills are at.
  • Coaching matters!  The best time to coach someone is when they are reflecting and considering their performance.  If your manager doesn'tdo this for you - tell them or look for another manager.
PunkRockHR posted a great piece on employee engagement a few days ago which ties in nicely with this post.  Head over there and check it out - WARNING: it will provoke a response.

People who are paid to do work will do a better job when they feel valued, understood and have the freedom to do what they have to in a way that makes sense to them (while adding value to the organisation).

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Word of the Week - Catalyst

cat·a·lyst (ktl-st)

1. Chemistry - A substance, usually used in small amounts relative to the reactants, that modifies and increases the rate of a reaction without being consumed in the process.

2. One that precipitates a process or event, especially without being involved in or changed by the consequences.
If being a catalyst were a requirement in your job description would you meet the grade required?

Remember - catalysts make chemical reactions move faster. Catalysts aren't the reaction.  Based on that understanding here are a few thoughts on how you can become a catalyst in your place of work -
  1. Stay fresh.  Catalysts are used over and over again.  Make sure you are fit (physically) and look after your health.
  2. Question everything.  Create new methods and practices for doing things better!
  3. Be open to new ideas.
  4. Search out new ideas, options and practices for current procedures that will create new levels of performance (mental fitness).
The secret to being a catalyst is to speed up reactions in others and to help processes move along faster than what they normally would!

(Image courtesy of :

Monday, March 29, 2010

CEO Interview - Anne Mulcahy strive to be the best.  There is no doubt about that fact.  How do I know?  Every few weeks that email out updates that summarise the latest and greatest content that they have available.

This month there are interviews with three top CEO's who share some of the lessons they have learnt through business.  One of the interviewees this time is Anne Mulcahy.  

Past Chief Executive and current Chairperson of the Board at Xerox - this is one very cool cat!

Here are the major points that Anne expressed -
  • Don't surround yourself with yes people.  Have people on staff and on board who will challenge your decisions and will be honest with you.
  • Get the right people!  You can create forward momentum by selecting the right people at the outset.  And if those people aren't the right people - go out and find them!
  • Create a team that will fill your weaknesses while also challenging your strengths.
  • Ask hard question of yourself and others; and have them ask those same hard questions right back at you.
  • Learn what not to do.  Knowing when not to do something is just as significant as knowing when to do something.
  • Timing is everything.  "Timelines trumps perfection".  Take a risk, have a go - but be smart about it.

You can read the original version of this article by clicking here and heading over to McKinsey.

You will also be able to fnd another great interview with Anne at the Corner Office.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Don't Leave Your Job - Here's Why

This 'Management Tip of the Day" from Harvard sums up my present feelings absolutely.

MARCH 24, 2010, 3 Reasons You Shouldn't Leave Your Job

You may be unhappy, fed up, and ready to bolt from your job. Instead of running out the door, take a deep breath and consider these three reasons to stay where you are — at least for now:

1. Relationships matter more than money. You may think you can find a job that will pay you more, but you will be leaving behind a wealth of relationships. When weighing your options, don't forget the value of the network you have now.

2. It's less urgent than you think. Job seekers who are desperate to get out of a job tend to do less research about potential employers. Strategically plan your next career move instead of running away.

3. You're likely overestimating yourself. Research shows that most job seekers overestimate their skills and prospects. Before you leave, take the time to do a realistic assessment of what you have to offer.


This is one area that I battle with quite a bit.  Whenever things aren't going quite right, the politics are too much to handle or I just get sick of the BS my first inclination is to look elsewhere for employment opportunites.  That is the subjective view.

But when I sit back and take stock objectively of where I am at as far as career development and the opportunities afforded to me -  I am actually in an excellent place of work right now.  Am I thinking of leaving - no, probably not.  I think I'll just wait and see what comes along.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Community Contribution

When you leave work what do you do?  Go home, kick back and relax.  Mellow out and wait for the next working day to come around?

What about contributing to your community?  Volunteer.  Give up some of your time and expertise to help others achieve their goals and dreams.

Here are a few ideas - Toastmasters, local Schools or Kindergartens, Rotary Clubs, Lions Clubs, Sports clubs.

If you are reading this and you are in New Zealand here is a great example website -

Personally I enjoy helping out with events and organisations that are relevant to our family.  Examples - my daughters netball team, helping out at Toastmasters, helping the athletics club run their event days.  In the past - helping churches, kindy's and scout groups.

Take the expertise that you apply for-profit during the day and apply if not-for-profit in the evenings and weekends. Who knows - you might even enjoy it!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Crisis Management - Telecom New Zealand (Case Study)

Telecom New Zealand has been having a real hard time recently.  They engaged a new project and product offering.  Telecom installed an entire new network, called XT, with high speed capability across the country.

The system was buzzing along fine for a few months and then the unthinkable happened - the network failed!

Okay - they set to work to fix the problems as quick as they could.  Then a few weeks later the system crashed again, and then crashed again with a grand total of four crashes.  The crashes ranged from being nation wide for a few days, to occuring in a localised area for a few hours followed by inability of users to call emergency services.

Once the media sensed there was a 'news-worthy' story they started watching out for further fails.  Like vultures awaiting the dying prey to fall, the media waited.  And, unfortunately, they got what they wanted.

This post isn't bout the media and their coverage - it's about accountability.  Given the service crashed four times and affected different locations and types of customers who is responsible?  The most obvious place to start is the CEO.  They have the final sign off for crucial projects and therefore the buck stops with them.  Right?

Not necessarily.  Like the Toyota hearings being held in the Senate earlier in the year management may not have actually been at fault!

If I were the CEO of Telecom or Toyota here's what I would endeavor to do -
  • Stay put.  I would do everything within my power to see the problems/projects completed.
  • Be open and transparent.  There was no hiding the fact that there were issues going on.  Hiding away or trying to ignore the problems does nothing to solve them.  Create a plan or strategy for dealing with the issues (the more comprehensive the better) and then use the media to broadcast those ideas instead.  Make the media work for you and not the other way around.
  • Rally internal support.  I would seek out those loyal to me firstly and make sure I had a team who were prepared to take the rap as well and see the project satisfactorily completed.  If I was unable to gather the level of support I needed then I would reconsider my first decision to stay put.
  • Rally external support.  Ultimately shareholders and stakeholders are your employer.  I would be seeking out ways to get those persons on board as quick as I could.  The rlationship you have as CEO with the Chairman of the Board can be the making or the breaking of your employment position as well.
  • Know when to call for help!  I would seek out extensive experts in their field.  No one person has the capability to deal with this type of situation.  Cool heads and intelligent people are needed to work through these issues. 
I am lucky(?) that I am not in the position of those CEO's and I wouldn't wish those fail scenarios on anyone.  But I do relish the opportunity to muse on what the Telecoms and Toyotas have done in their hour of crisis so that I can plan now for whatever may come in future years.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Seinfeld - Answering Phones and Avoiding People

Have you ever had a client/cutomer/colleague you just didn't want to speak to right now?  Check out this great laugh from Seinfeld.  It's titled - George's Answering Phone.  Enjoy!

Whoever the person was that invented the little screen on your telephone that tells you who is calling - deserves an award!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Swiss Army Knife - Management Lessons - Market Placement

Mark Di Somma wrote a great post about the Swiss Army Knife on his blog back in 2008.  What he wrote is as relevant today as it was when he wrote it.

Here is a summary of his points -
  • Competition can come from unforeseen places. 
  • The place of manufacture and production can be used to leverage an advantage.
  • Visual branding is vital.
  • Who you are perceived to be selling to can also be an important marketing tool.
  • The amount of time and care you take to produce your product can set it apart from it's competitors.
  • Create a legacy that future generations want to interact with and own.
Here are my thoughts -

  • You never know where your competitors may be coming from - so keep in touch with latest trends and fads.  You can start here for some ideas.
  • Consumers are aware and passionate about who made and where made the products they are buying.  Use this as a positive.  Small countrys and towns have great appeal.
  • One example of a great branding is Fuel Advertising.  They have a mock fuel pump for a door handle at the entrance of their offices.  This is a great idea!
  • Way back in time Harley Davidson used to market their motorcycles to Joe Average.  Clean cut, nice guy motorbike riders.  What they didn't realise straight away was that their motorcycles didn't appeal so much to the masses as to the rebels.  So they changed who they were aiming at and completely changed their business.
  • Quality is everything.  There is no excuse for selling, making, teaching crap.  There are few spaces for competitive and sustainable company's to do crap.  The same goes for managers.  Learn, train and be the best at what you do.  Quality counts.
  • Do it right today and people will come back for more tomorrow!

Monday, March 22, 2010

ROI = Return On Investment

In business accountants, shareholders and investors apply a range of different measures to assess how well a company or organisation are progressing. The simplest method for calculating a return = Return On Investment.

The basic formula works like this -

  • what gains can I make from investing vs. what is it going to cost me to invest?

Most people apply this formula intuitively when spending monies. Some do not. My recommendation for the day is for you to start applying this formula to everything you do during your work day. Try assessing different situations such as -

  • Meetings.
  • Telephone calls.
  • Professional Development.
  • Engaging new clients.
  • Hiring employees.

Is it worth the cost of your time to engage doing these things? Will you make any gains or investments by doing these or would you be better off delegating the task or contracting it out?

You are most valuable to your organisation completing tasks that create the highest ROI.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Book Review - Pains In The Office

Following on from their previous two best sellers - 'Pains on Trains' and 'Pains in Public', Andrew Holmes and Dan Wilson have gone on to write another great book - 'Pains in the Office'.

The 'Pains' series looks at everyday situations where people interact with other people and attempts to create character profiles for them. For this book the authors have identified 50 personality types that frequent the offices of all company's the entire world around.

Here are some examples -

  • The Ball Breaker. Females who want to emulate men and copy some of their worst traits in order to try and be one.

  • The Competitor. Failure is not an option. Kisses the butts of those in power and kicks those of everyone who is not.

  • The Little Big Man. Short people who attempt to make up for their height deficiencies by being bossy and absolutely unhelpful.

  • The Moaner. Some people are just never happy.

Included in each chapter are - ratings on the strength of the pain, the rarity factor, seasonal variations and some fun strategies for dealing with the pains.

This book is a bit of fun. As with its subject matter you can't take it too seriously. I recommend picking it up, having a read and moving on. When you're finished - keep it on your shelf for future reference. You'll need it!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Dress For Success

Come on guys keep up with the play! GQ outlines the latest trends for the office here.

It seems the tie is back! Personally I like the one shirt on the left from Gieves & Hawkes!

And if you're stuck for ideas for combination of what to wear Tarocash has a great tool to help you out.

My latest addition to the work wardrobe is the humble vest.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Self Perception Is Everything

The way you see yourself is the way that others will see you as well. Your self perceptions govern your behavior and the way you interact with others.

If you see yourself as being positive, in control and professional - others will. Here are the ways that others pick up on your self perceptions -
  1. The way you dress. Dress to impress. Wear sharp styles, clean lines and clothes that work for you. Be expressive but still formal.
  2. The language you use. Be smart and thoughtful about what you say to and about others.
  3. The company you keep. Be aware of who your friends are. Engage with those who are the best at what they do and learn from them.
  4. If you can't make it - fake it (or at least for a little while). Once you start believing you are someone and acting like others will treat you the same way. Some days you will just have to pretend you have it all together and eventually - you will!
Have a look at this website for some ideas about how you can change your self perception's

Carpe Diem - Sieze the day! The choice is yours.

"Grab opportunity by the beard for it is bare behind!"

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Customer Service

Have you ever been to a stationery shop and left without buying what you went in there for? Have you ever had trouble getting service from an attendant so gave up and went to the counter and bought only what you had?

How's this for a fantastic customer service -

"Were you able to find everything you were looking for today?"

That has to be the quintessential every checkout operator at every retail store should be made to ask. Okay it may seem a bit hokey but the lady who asked was genuine! It wasn't your typical add-on and so it really caught my attention.

What are the final words you share with your customers before they finish their transations with you? What do they walk away thinking when they have finished with your services. Think of something catchy and fresh that people will remember and will respond to.

As it tuns out I had been able to find what I wanted the first time. But what if I hadn't?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Quaterly Performance Review

The first three months of 2010 have passed already. So now is a good time time to go back and review the goals and objectives that I set for for the year and assess - where am I up to in my progress?

My original resolutions and focus areas can be summarised as follows -
  1. Compliance.
  2. Excellence.
  3. Teamwork.

So how do I rate my progression so far this year?

Compliance -A; Excellence - B+; Teamwork - B+.

(Note - I usually rate myself a bit harder than I should so I am happy with the results to date.)

  • Compliance is the single biggest area that needed working on. And I feel that I am succeeding in that. Compliance is defined as - following instructions, adhering to regulations and making sure others are aware and also comply with the guidelines set out for the organisation.
  • Excellence is coming along nicely and it's always easier to a task properly or the best of our ability when it is something we care about and get some fulfillment out of.
  • Teamwork is going well. This year has been odd because the 'team' I manage has changed. I now have seperate two areas to focus on. In order to look after both I have had to let go of who I thought was most important (staff) for others who are just as important but take up far more of my time (students).

As far as my personal goals go - I am well on my way to getting to where I want to be. By July I will have completed half my goals for the year which will line me up nicely for finishing the year that I thought I would at the beginning of the year.

"We have no control of the locations of our dreams, we do however control the steps and paths we take on our way to get there." (Me).

How are your goals going so far this year? Are you achieving? What area's do you think you need to spend a bit more time on before you make your next appraisal?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Steve Gurney on Attitude

Steve Gurney is a multi-sport legend who has fought through thick and thin and is undoubtedly a true legend. In his book 'Lucky Legs' Steve talks about his life and gives some pointers on what it means to win and how to go about doing it.

One part of his book is all about - how to. I have especially enjoyed chapter 24 where Gurney talks about the mental approach.

I will paraphrase a few of his key points here -

  • You create your future through your beliefs, attitudes and resources. You can set yourself up to win.

  • Create a future you want by meditating on it through a positive way c.f. a negative one.

  • The law of attraction works!

  • State your goals and desires in a positive way and by focusing on what you can do.

  • "Energy flows where attention goes"

  • Figure out if your goals are 'towards' goals (positively focused goals) or 'away' goals (driven by fear or similar).

I totally recommend this book to anyone who wonders - What does it feel like to win? or - How do I get better and achieve better results?

This book is written with the beauty of hindsight and wisdom gained from some hard lessons learned. This is not a flash in the pan story but rather a story well crafted and very, very funny!

Friday, March 12, 2010

List - Audits not the same as obeying the list.

Do you make the list you check off, follow and work on every day? When does it get made? Who approves it? Do you identify tasks or perform them?

If you had a better list, would you do better work? If you made the list instead of just obeying it, would you be a more valuable member of the team?

Yes, asking questions is often more valued than answering them. (If they're the right questions.)

(Source: This series of audit questions comes to you from:
Seth Godin)

These questions are very similar to the questions I posed yesterday. However Seth's view is more micro where as mine was macro.

It is important to remember to view the world from other's perspectives and not just your own.

"I've got a new invention. It's a revolving bowl for tired Goldfish." Lefty Gomez.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Office Setup - Self Audit

Try viewing your role from the other side of the desk sometime. Seriously - get up and move, and sit on the other side of your desk. When you get there try asking yourself some of these questions -

  • What is the customer seeing?
  • What would you change about what you do in your role?
  • What things would you consider to be important and need focusing on?
  • What things would you see as being not important and could therefore be put aside?
  • What does your workspace look like to someone that isn't you?
  • Is your workspace inviting? Is it boring or offensive? Does it tell a story about you?
  • What will a customer say when they walk away after spending some time on the other side of the desk?

Here are a few tips that I use in my office -

  • Have chairs for guests to sit in. No one should be made to stand up.
  • Have your computer screen off to the side of your workspace so that when someone sits down you can establish a clear communication channel with them.
  • If you have a flat desk - keep as little amount of stuff on it as is practically possible or be ready to move it!
  • If you have a desk with a frontage - stand up when a customer comes to see you.
  • Have plants in your office and on your desk that are easy to care for yet provide something appealing to look at.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Who are you talking to?

Check out these research results from Mckinsey -
  • People in the 60 largest cities in China spend around 70 percent of their leisure time on the Internet;
  • In smaller towns, the corresponding number is 50 percent;
  • The PC is fast replacing the TV set as an entertainment hub;
  • One in five consumers between the ages of 18 and 44 won’t purchase a product or service without first researching it on the Internet;
  • The volume of e-commerce in China more than doubled last year.

So if you are selling something, have a service to offer, or are looking for blog readers - try publishing your pages in Chinese! (That's not a joke).

We have completed this exercise at work with Spanish and guess what - our website hits went through the roof for South America!

My boss is now off to China next week for a visit as well. The possibilities are endless...


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Swiss Army Knife - Management Lessons - Adaptability

The key to the knife's success - adaptability and simple design and construction.

Being small, compact and safe - you can take one anywhere!

How about your management skills - can you transport those anywhere as well?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Contracts - Beware!

When you are going to engage the services of a person or a company there are some steps you need to get right - right at the beginning. Here are some examples -

  • Have a contract. You need to protect the rights and concerns of both yourself and the other party.
  • Read the contract. If you don't understand contract legalese - find someone who can. The more complicated a contract appears the more suspicious of it you should be.
  • Explain any items that may come across as being ambiguous or shady.
  • Be very aware of the money aspects. Not all contracts involve a financial process or transaction. Be just as aware where services rendered are involved as you are where money is involved.
  • Be honest.
  • Take note of out clauses and other time options that are available to you.
  • Don't sign anything until you have a second opinion.

Contracts can either be your friend or a ball and chain that will keep you from doing what you really want to be doing. Be careful and be aware!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Smart Presentations

Stuck on how to present that vital piece of information? Use the chart above to guide you in the right directon.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Project Management - Fail

Results count, You can't disguise bad results. Sooner or later you will be found out.

Do these things before the proverbial hits the fan!

  • Honesty is always the best policy.
  • Own up if you stuff up.
  • If it's all going wrong - get help fast!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Life Lessons - To Do List

The choice is yours.

"How we spend our days is of course - how we spend our lives" Annie Dillard.

(Thanks to
Daphnee Maree for posting the graphic.)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Time Wasters (and Management)

Thanks to Fran Crosbie who dropped these survey results by me earlier today.


Last month we asked "Who or what interrupts you the most at work?" This is what you said:

1. A colleague stopping by for a chat - 30%
2. Trying to multitask - 29%
3. Arrival of a new e-mail - 28%
4. Phone/cell calls - 12%
5. Social media (Twitter/Facebook) - 1%

Total Votes: 2,890
(Priority Learning)

What interruptions affect you the most?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Swiss Army Knife - Management Lessons - The Knife

The Swiss Army Knife is just that - a knife. It is a knife bundled up with extra components that make it indispensable.

knife: noun - 1. An instrument for cutting, consisting essentially of a thin, sharp-edged, metal blade fitted with a handle; 2. A cutting edge; a blade.
verb (used with object) - to apply a knife to; cut, stab, etc., with a knife . (

A knife has one primary purpose - and that is to cut. There are any different types of knife available to people. Many different knives serve many different purposes but not all knives are suitable for all situations. The size of the knife determines where and when it can be used.

Example - you wouldn't use a slasher (long blade) to remove a splinter. Nor would you use a butter knife to blaze a trail through think underbrush.

The Swiss Army Knife (SAK) is a fantastic knife (with a small and appropriate sized blade)because of it's adaptability. It isn't threatening in it's size but it can punch above it's weight when required to. The SAK could remove a splinter or alternatively it can be used to separate and cut through vines, ropes and leather boots.

What lessons can we draw from the SAK knife blade?

  • The knife blade is usually the first item people look at and pay the most attention to. Work on developing a stand out skill or function that people can see from the start and makes others sit up and take notice of you.
  • A knife needs care and attention paid to it to ensure it retains it's edge and it's function. The same is true for the manager. Managerial skills must be kept oiled and sharp.
  • Don't overstate or make too much noise about your skills. When the time comes you apply your skills in an appropriate form and size which is determined by the task at hand.
  • Try to make sure your particular area of focused skill is appropriate to the rest of your abilities.
  • Blunt knives (as well as skills) are highly dangerous and ought to be avoided or fixed as quickly as possible.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Swiss Army Knife - Management Lessons Intro.

What is old yet hasn't aged, has hardly changed since it's conception, is an essential item for Boy Scouts and was made popular in a TV program?

After posting a photo of a Swiss Army Knife it got me thinking. Could I use the army knife with it's many tools, facets and quirks as an analogy and an illustration for managers.

The answer? Yes. Yes I can. (LOL)

In order to appreciate the knife we must first understand it's history and where it has come from. Here are some facts about the knife -

  • The knife is 125 years old. Great designs, functionality and usefulness make the knife an essential item.

  • The knife was originally designed to provide soldiers with - a knife, a can opener, a reamer and a corkscrew. These tools enabled to the soldiers to complete a wide variety of tasks including the assembly of their weapons.

  • There are five main variations on the original model.

  • MacGyver made the knife glamorous by showing off it's usefulness while trying to get out of many a sticky situation.

So what can we learn/apply so far?

  • Usefulness and adaptability lasts. If you are useful and can adapt to different situations - you will always be in hot demand. The ability to apply yourself in arrange of ways is the best trait to have!

  • Train and gain competence and expertise in about four or five different areas. Those areas can be overlapping or poles apart. The main thing is to make sure you have a range of skills and not just one skill.

  • There are basic skills and competencies that can be carried over across all managers and managerial positions. Find out what those are and work on them.

  • Situations that allow you to apply your skills practically is a good thing. MacGyver was always getting himself into sticky situations. What did he do? Every time he went back to basics and used the tools he had to change his situation.

Keep reading the blog as I work my through the basic elements of design and functionality of the knife. Learn with me lessons on management and managing that you can apply now!

Dilbert funny - career's

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