Friday, April 30, 2010

Motivating People

I have found in my experience it is better to manage staff with a carrot than a stick. When people operate out of fear or a lack of security then they are not in the best mind space to give their best.

Here are a few tips for creating a work environment that will enable workers to give their best -
  1. Talk about the situation using positivity.  This is not a call to ignore the truth but rather be careful and smart about the way you present the facts and express the situation. 
  2. Reverse the negative to create positive results.  If the business or organisation is in trouble financially there are two ways to inform employees of how they can contribute to change.  The first os to tell them redundancies are coming and the doors will soon be closing.  The second way is to get the employees to start making positive changes in their areas to lift production and end results.
  3. Reinforce changes and positive results using tangible rewards.  When staff start to contribute and make changes to their work make sure they and thanked and when possible rewarded for their efforts.
If you choose to use fear as a self-motivator that is your choice.  If you choose to use fear as a motivator for others - I would ask that you reconsider.

You can also check out this article by the Credit Union Times that speaks about the negative effects of using fear as a motivator.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Taking A Break

The Everyday Manager is taking a quick break while I attend the Magma Short Film Festival.

I will start posting again shortly.  Catch you again Friday 30th April (blogspot time).

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Communication Lessons

When you are trying to explain a situation to a manager or another person who is joining you after the journey has already started, keep these thoughts in mind -
  • Assume nothing.  Before you go and speak to the relevant people prepare your presentation and information in such a way that any person could pick up your work and work out what the main points and thrust are without anyone else having to explain it to them.
  • Start at the beginning.  I mean right at the beginning.  You might know where you are up to and where things are at but for the new person it is highly likely they will have no idea what you are talking about.  So make sure you start at the beginning.
  • Provide an overview. Give some guidance on what the problem/project looks like from a birds eye view.  Take the big picture into account and express the big ideas.
  • Lay the groundwork.  Once you communicated the big idea then you can move into the finer details.  Avoid getting into the detail too early and thereby missing the big picture and getting lost in the detail.
  • Allow time for feedback or changes.  Try to have as much time as you can so you can go back and edit or redirect your thinking before you hit the deadline or require an extension of time.  Be organised.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Finding The Right Employee For Your Business

The great people over at Fuel Advertising know how to communicate to people.  They understand what you and I know but most marketers just don't get.

"People are human.  People have a sense of humor.  People are real."

So, Fuel needs a person to help create adverts.  Sounds simple enough?  Sure.  And that is exactly the level of person you would attract should you choose to advertise for someone with those skills.

What does Fuel do right?

  1. Make the position title legitimate and current.  'Ad Mechanic' now there is a job title that inspires and sets a level of expectation around the persons skills and capabilities.

  2. Give the applicants and position some respect.  The role is about the ability to use initiative, problem solving skills and mix them together with some creative flair and BOOM there you go - Ad Mechanic. 

  3. Speak to people in the same way you want them to hear you.  The message is clear and simple.  There is no ambiguity about what is going to be expected of you should you be the chosen one.
The next time you choose to look for people to join your team keep these ideas in mind.  I'm picking that the team at Fuel will have received a whole bunch of applications and there will be some great applicants too! 

So when we take the time to respect people, their skills and give them opportunities to develop there will be no shortage of people lining up to join your team.

Monday, April 26, 2010

People Count

No matter what industry you work in, what sports team you play for or what religous group you belong to - they all centre around one thing.  People.

You have a choice on how you want to interact and engage with those people.  I recommend that you seek to get the most out of every conversation and every interaction that you can.  I'm not condoning being intenselly wired every time but rather that you seek out an opportunity, a new fact or a new friendship every time to speak to someone.

One important relationship I really cherish is the one I have with the Librarians at my work.  It has now gotten to the point where when periodicals that I like come in each month - I get to read them before they hit the shelves.  Why is this and how did I get to this point?
  • Time.  I spend time going and talking to the people whom I think are of value to meor can offer some service or opportunity that is a good one.   
  • Sharing.  I let people know what I am interested in and they keep an eye out for me.  The same is in reverse.  In this case the librarians don't always know what texts are appropriate for our students and the need/want guidance.  I am more than happy to help.
  • Two way relationships.  Making sure others fel appreciated and a part of the relationship is more important than me trying to squeeze out every last drop of juice that will be self-beneficial.
  • Mutual interests.  Find a talking point or conversation starter that you can use the next time you meet the person so you have a launch pad for your conversation to start off on.  This will help you save a lot of time and be able to cut to the chase.
"No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main."  John Donne

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Management Brands

Whats your brand?  And how do you define one?  HBR has a great post on this exact subject matter.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Quote of the Week

"Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death”  Albert Einstein.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Communication Lessons - Change

Change is never easy and it takes alot of talk and discussion to get it right.

So whats the best process?  My personal feeling is that you should follow a similar communication plan lke this -

The managers top priority is to figure out -
  • Who will be affected?
  • How much affect will the change have?
  • How long will the change take before it impacts on each group of people?

I recommend working with a ranking system.
  • So those who are affected the most will rate a 10 c.f. the people who will be affected the least will rate a 1. 
  • Try and figure out how localised or widespread the impact may be on the different persons and departments in the organisation.
  • Then create more ratings for the amount of time it will take for the changes to start affecting people.  Again apply a scale of 1 to 10.
Now you, the manager, will have a score card that will be beginning to tell you - who, how and when.
My next recommendation is that you now start devising a communications plan for ensuring the right message gets through to all the right people at the right time.
I realise this is a very simple plan and method but I also subscribe to the philosophy of "Keep It Short and Simple".


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Characters in the Office

In case you hadn't noticed I enjoy reading Dilbert cartoons.  They're great.  They are great from the perspective that they capture what people in offices really think and the games that they play with each other.

Take todays cartoon as an example -

Sure - on it's surface it is funny.  But I'm guessing that you could probably say from the story above who the people are that you work with that would try the same thing or might fit those character types.

I can.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Making The Right Choice

What is the right choice to make in any given situation?  How do you know if the choice you are making is right or wrong?

I have been working through exactly this kind of situation.  It is a 'what should I do' situation.  So where should we start when it comes to making choices?

I go back to my annual resolutions, goals and objectives that I set for myself in December of last year.  Those goals are - 1.  Compliance, 2. Excellence and 3.  Teamwork.

So the situation arose where I had to pick between a good option that was mainly for my benefit or an option whereby I would forfeit personal gain in order to be involved with and develop my team.

Okay - so it doesn't sound that bad - but - giving up a financial reward for little effort isn't as easy as it may sound.  I was pretty keen on ensuring I got the best personal reward.  Until I started reflecting on where I am at and what is important to me in 2010.

So I chose to go with the team option.  Giving up a bit of money in the short term I decided was a poor way to get ahead when compared to the benefits and rewards of working with the team to grow the financial benefits and rewards for everyone.

Guess what - after I made the decision to stay true to my goals I had a pair of breakthrough moments.  One - the conflicting appointment was shifted so I can still make a personal gain, and two - I may have a chance to do something I have always dreamed of and may now be able to do.

Moral of the story - stay true to yourself, act and think with integrity and the rewards will come your way.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Value of Visual Thinking in Social Business

I hope this slide show interests you as much as did me.  Check it out:
(Okay so this is a cheat of a post.  Borrowing someone elses idea.  Still - it's a brilliant presentation.  Enjoy)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Book Review - This Little Kiddy Went To Market

"This Little Kiddy Went To Market" is a very sobering and interesting book that looks at the effects of business management practices in and on educational systems.  The author has conducted and collated  a survey and review of practices across a number of western world school systems including countries such as - USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

What this book does is assess the impacts on children and school management in action due to the increased involvement of businesses in the education arena.  The book covers subject areas including the supply of branded resources by big business, the results of private businesses managing schools and the teaching of consumer values to school children.

"Children have never before been under such pressure to 'succeed, conform and look good'.  It is little wonder that so many children grow into youths who are unhappy, stressed, fat, delinquent or self-destructive"  (Excerpt from introduction: Sharon Beder).

If you want to know how and why the author reached these conclusions - read the book.  Every one of those statements can be backed up by well researched information and facts from the public arena.

So what did I think?  This book will make you think. The facts are presented in a clear light and very little personal opinion is recorded.  Rather the book requires the reader to draw their own conclusions on every matter listed.  I was astounded at some of the areas of interaction and even learnt some interesting marketing techniques should I ever choose to start marketing to children.

My give this book a two thumbs up rating.  This book is easy to read, broad in scope and definitely worth a read.  Your thinking will be challenged and think you will review your position on topics that up until you now you may not have considered important in your childs education.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Quote of the Week

"The best asset during inflation is your own earning power.  Anything you do to improve your own talents and make yourself more valuable will get paid off in terms of apropriate real purchasing power.

If you do something well, whether you're a major league baseball player, or if you're a good assisstant, whatever it may be, you are your best asset".

Warren Buffett.

(Quote from: Warren Buffett's Management Secrets;

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Secret to Success - Longevity

One thought that keeps interseting me is the fact that a lot of successful managers and leaders have stayed true to their businesss skills and quite a few of them have spent their entire careers working for one employer.

This reminds me of the fable - "The Tortoise and the Hare".  At the end of the day the hare was found lacking and the tortoise showed internal fortitude, diligence, discipline and mental toughness to keep moving towards his goal - even though it appeared he never had a chance to acheive his goals.

Imagine the SWOT analysis you could carry out on that scenario!
  1. Strengths.  Hare - FAST!  Tortoise - slow.
  2. Weaknesses.  Hare - complacency.  Tortoise - speed.
  3. Opportunities.  Hare - new personal best.  Tortoise - show inner strength through focus and determination.
  4. Threats.  Hare - birds of prey.  Tortoise - sunset.
I am picturing the hare as being the person who is always in a hurry to make the next move.  Not so much within an orgnisation but certainly across different businesses and organisations.  The tortoise may take a lot longer to reach the same heights as the hare but you can be rest assured there will be few risk areas of concern with the tortoise. 

The hare in it's haste does not stop to reflect on the path travelled or what it would do differently next time.  The tortoise does.  It may stop, think about and take the safely, safely route but it will ensure that when it reaches it's destination it won't have to double back or repeat any parts of the course.

In my view (as a middle aged manager amongst other things) I am thinking the right way for me to progress at the moment is to climb the career ladder one rung at a time, to learn and know the business from the inside out and to let my work speak for itself.  The tortoise approach to career management. 

At least for now anyway.

"If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn't seem so wonderful after all." -Michelangelo

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

CEO Interview - Laura Alber

Here is an excellent example of what anyone (male or female) can accomplish if they put their mind to it.

In this video Laura Alber reflects on her career and shares her thoughts on how to succeed in business.  There's also a whole lot of thoughts on how to be the boss and retain your own style and personality.

Try this video and see what you think -

Awesome!  The world needs more women at the helm.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Allies, Acquaintances and Alliances.

I have been thinking recently about work relationships.  There are three main positive categories that I can think of.  Those categories are -
  • Allies,
  • Acquaintances and
  • Alliances.
These are three different groups of people that we interact with everyday while at work.
  • Allies are your close circle of friends or those in whom you know you can trust.  Those whom you interact with and are friendly with.
  • Acquaintances are those people whom you know and occasionally (sometimes frequently work with but wouldn't necessarily classify as a friend.
  • Alliances are those relationships whereby your allies choose to stand with you when it comes to the crunch.  You can also from alliances with your acquaintances from time to time but generally the relationships with your allies are the ones that will stand the test of time.
So what does this have to do with the everyday manager?  It is important to know who is on your side and when.  It is also important to know who will stand with you should the pressure come on you through time restrictions, employment issues or personality clashes.

You don't have to classify everyone you know but if you do know who you allies are - you can save a lot of time when it comes to finding solutions to the problems you might face.

Here is my quick suggestion -
  1. Make a list of all the people that you work with.  This can be as narrow or as broad as you like.
  2. Seperate those people into two groups - allies and acquaintances.
  3. Draw connecting lines betwen those people whom you a) already have alliances with and b) could choose to form alliances with.
  4. Make a plan to communicate with your allies as much as you can when the correct work situation or opportunity arises.
If you spend the energy to foster grea relationships your allies and your alliances will help you when you need them.   (Image:

Monday, April 12, 2010

Word of the Week - Evolve

e·volve (-vlv) v. e·volved, e·volv·ing, e·volves

1. a. To develop or achieve gradually: evolve a style of one's own.
b. To work (something) out; devise: "the schemes he evolved to line his purse" (S.J. Perelman).

2. Biology To develop (a characteristic) by evolutionary processes.

3. To give off; emit. (Image:

In order for the manager to have a long and successful career like most things there must be a process of evolving and change.  No one person ever starts with all the answers, skills or key ingredients to be successful.

One key requirement is for the manager to be able to spot new trends, understand new technologies and be able to interact and work in a co-operative way with others.  Not onle does the manager have to be able to spot the trends they must also develop a strategy for incorporating or changing to embrace those changes.

It seems to me that the older we get the harder it is to keep in touch with the technological changes and demands of the day.  However the skills required to manage and interact with people don't change - much.
The medium is different but the message's are essentially the same.

So what are the message types - encouragment, endorsement, coaching and leading.  No matter how many changes the rest of or work undergoes these essential skills are timeless and will not change.

So there are two main points to this post -
  1. To be a successful manager you need to be prepared to evolve and change your style and skills to ensure your longevity. 
  2. The mediums for dealing with people have changed but the messages are the same.
If you have great people skills but cannot evolve to use technology I would expect that you will end up in a more manual close range type role c.f.a mre technical managing from a distance type role. 

"To sustain longevity, you have to evolve. "  Aries Spears

Friday, April 9, 2010

Quote of the Week

"A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time."

Annie Dillard.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Book Review - Scroogenomics

A great book?  No.  A good book?  Yes.  An interesting book?  Absolutely.

Joel Waldfogel, wrote a book called Scroogenomics exploring the pro's and con's of purchasing goods and spending money at Christmas time. 

The pro's - people get stuff.  The con's - people get stuff they don't want or need that has bought by other people who have sent their time looing for and buying stff that could very well have been a waste of ther time.  Time that could have been far better spent pursuing productive outputs.

So what's the problem?  Too much stuff is given by people to others with either little thought or no thought at all.  The solution?  Give cash.

There you go - 146 pages of book content condensed into 4 paragraphs. 

It's worth reading.  Seriously.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Management Brand

 If you could pick a symbol or an object that best captured your management style what would it look like?

Here's mine.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Important Jobs

Who defines for you which jobs are important and which jobs aren't?  Honestly - is there a rating system that defines what is mor important to be done?  Maybe, but I doubt it.  Especially not for managers. 

One key task of a manager is to figure what is important in their role.  There are few set ratings or 'star-system' for measurement (unless you have these as KPI's).  However I think we can create categories that define broad aspects of our work.  Those catagories look a little something like this -
  1. People - internal.  I value internal people higher than externals.  Many would disagree but as a manager I believe we should be coaching/working with/empowering our people first so then they can go and serve the external people.
  2. People - external.  External persons are not just customers but any person who is not in your department, office or area of influence.  People are the most crucial aspect of a managers role.  get the people part of things right and you are well on your way to success.
  3. Compliance - internal.  Sticking to the rules and ensuring that the requirements of the organisation are met.  Creating budgets that balance, updating project management reports, customer interaction reports.  They are all important.
  4. Compliance - external.
  5. Any tasks not already covered above.
No single area is not as important as another area but there is a hierarchy.  When the internal people know what to do and when that frees you up to deal with customers external and the compliance issues and requirements of your role.

There are very few unimportant jobs in an organisation.  What defines a task as being important or not is the emphasis you place on it.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Leadership Lessons - From TED

This is a great video and while there are lessons given by the presenter, here a few more bits that I would like to add to the conversation -
  • Taking the initiative is important. Somebody has to get started - right? The first mover see's an opportunity and grabs it. Completely unaware or without thinking about the outcomes or opportunities the situation provides he runs on instinct and it works.
  • Recreating the first time never quite has the same spontaneity or freedom of choice to it. But the second time allows for better organization, co-operation and consistency.
  • The first person always takes the risk to get started - but those who follow are better able to improve the product.
  • The first person will always remember being the first person but may not receive the same credit he thinks he may deserve.
  • Unless - the first guy is able to repeat his success on multiple occasions and to improve the style and outcomes of his offering.
Being first is cool very cool but through waiting and watching - you can improve and grow upon the successes of others.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Have a great Easter!

Have a great break - catch you again Tuesday 6th April.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Product Design - Apple iPod Shuffle - Brilliant!

(Disclaimer - I am not prehistoric or a neanderthal as far as technology goes- just new to Apple).

Much of this post will be unashamedly a shout out to Steve Jobs and the awesome people at Apple.  I have read a lot about Apple and the products they make.  I have seen others using their products and at times have used the Mac and the iPod.
However today was the first time I had the privelage of opening a brand new package from Apple.  And to be honest everything I had read and heard proved to be true!

The box containing the iPod was impeccable.  The product was able to be seen through the clear box and the headphones were viewable also.  All of the initial packaging said - "Open up and use me.  Go on, you know you want to!"

Then once the initial seal was broken the internal contents were laid out in such a way as to make sense.  On top was the actual player, followed by the headphones and last but by no means least were the instructions.  The instructions were not some book or too-many times folded piece of paper with 6 different languages on it.  Nope.  The cover of the instruction bok has a simple message - "Start here".  No mucking around, nothing superfluous, just cut to the chase plug it in and go instructions.  And those are only the looks...

When playing the iPod all of the controls are located on the headphones.  Simple, clean design and easy to use.  Volume and song choice are determined by clicking a button that sits perfectly just below shoulder height when the ear pieces are being used.  The iPod even has the ability to tell you the name of the song and artist while the track is playing! Honestly whoever thinks of these things should be kinghted.

I am truly blown away by the sheer engineering brilliance and design pedigree that show through on the Shuffle.  What excites me the most is the fact that someone took the time to think about the basic things - the instructions, the packaging, the size, the convenience of use.  Fantastic!

If all of Apple's products are packaged as well and work as well as my humble iPod shuffle then I am a guarenteed customer for life.  And fingers crossed I might be able to convine my wife to buy me more Apple products as Christmas......


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Goals, Dreams and Getting There

Lets face facts - life can get us down at times.  And when we feel like we are in a rut and can;t out of it - what do we do?  What should we do?  Seek.  Seek out help. 

Self help books are okay but the best method for moving forward or getting out of a rut is to talk to others.

I like the fact that Waikato University are taking the initiative and are willing to help people get their lives on track.  For a very small investment of $65 people can write themselves a new mission statement, figure out some goals and plan on how they will get to where they want to be.

That's a very handy investment if it means people can feel better about themselves and their lives.

I highly recommend attending this course or finding on like it closer to where you physically are.

For some further thoughts you can also check out Seth Godin's post on self-help here.
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