Thursday, April 13, 2006
In People-Ready Overview the manager discovers that not having the necessary tools really caused his firm to suffer. The reality is that this is only a part of the problem... appreciation of the uses of technology is the other. Handing a loaded shot gun is not enough, you need to know how to use it!
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
by Rebecca Edgerton
Communicate. The paramount skill here is listening. Second is giving credit and admitting fault—hand-in-hand with honesty and tact. And I believe that laughter is the lubrication that keeps communication rolling along.
Guide. My management approach used to be to tell. My sentences started with “Do this,” “You better,” and “You must.” Today, I rarely tell. Instead, I coach through open questions. Most sentences now start with “What” and “Why” and “How.” I pity the people in the 1970s who suffered through my early management outbursts. Somehow, over the years, I learned the value of open hand instead of closed fist. Today it's clear: The best managers guide people to solutions through coaching and mentoring. A very quick primer about those topics:
Coaching is guiding through questioning, and it focuses on solving a defined problem. A coach helps someone shape a solution by harvesting ideas from that person. The questions are the stimulant that stirs the person's thought process. As everyone knows, the best solution to someone's problem is the one he or she designs and believes in.
Mentoring is longer term guidance that sets direction for a protégé, such as future career focus. It works through a process of discussion, negotiation, definition of actions, action by the protégé, and feedback that leads to new discussion.
Negotiate. This is the best route to win-win. Only through negotiation can the manager discover the real agenda behind project assignments, deadlines, budgets, and so on. The key here is openness and willingness to delve for clear definition of requirements. Negotiation is essential to managing expectations. It's also essential for handling conflict and delegating effectively.
Respond. My email inbox is both my bane and my bounty. On many days, it collects more than a hundred emails. My phone also demands attention, and people often stop by to ask for five or ten minutes. So prioritization is the key. A person in my office always takes precedence, then a phone call, and then an email—unless I have a scheduled commitment elsewhere. So when I talk to people, the phone should go on “make busy.” When I'm on one line, I rarely click over to the other line to see who's calling. And I've turned off the email beep because it was just a distraction. But it's also important to clean out my email inbox and clear my phone messages every day. Even a brief response is better than nothing. Every exchange is an opportunity.
Monitor. Compliance with production stats, quality benchmarks, budgets, and schedules is always necessary. These factors shape internal and external clients' opinions about services or products. As Ernest Bramah said, “A reputation for a thousand years may depend upon the conduct of a single moment.”
Nurture. People like face time with their managers. They also appreciate a bit of personal exchange about kids, hobbies, and more. If every communication is task-focused, little relationship is built. People often report that a good relationship with their manager is a huge incentive. This interaction also allows the manager to watch for creativity and ripeness for promotion; to identify the person's motivations and hot buttons; and to check for stress, confusion, or frustration.
Encourage. Everyone has down days, weeks, and even more. Everyone has projects that drag and goals that seem to fall by the wayside. By knowing an employee's motivations, the manager can provide person-focused encouragement or incentive.
Educate. A strong leader teaches and learns something at least once a day.
Brainstorm. Brainstorming with employees is one of the best ways to identify their development opportunities. It's ideal for seeing how someone's mind works. Brainstorming is an open environment in which anything goes. It is a nurturing and safe activity that gives people instant validation for their ideas through the momentum of enthusiasm. Good brainstorming continuously builds on ideas and is agile enough to turn sharp corners. Good brainstorming is learned by example. My, what a segue to the next point!
Model. I don't believe it's necessary for a manager to be able to do everything that the employees do (you might disagree, but that's another topic). However, it is essential for the manager to model every behavior that he or she expects from the group. Leadership isn't just words or actions—it's also facial expressions, appropriate use of humor, support for top-down decisions, and consistent and suitable optimism. In other words, a leader must manage the subtext beneath his or her words. The best way to do that is to believe in what you're doing. If you don't, then it's time for reflection and possibly time to find another venue.
Monday, April 10, 2006
John Shoemaker comments on Sun(the complete version here):
Sun's reduction-in-force actions were too little, too late
"This single failure to make a tough decision to reduce headcount at Sun was, I believe, the critical event that precipitated Sun's now infamous decline," Shoemaker said.
"Pivotal among (Sun's) missteps, in my opinion, was the board of directors election to allow Sun's COO, Ed Zander, to leave. Ed Zander is a strong executive leader with a brilliant strategic and marketing mind," Shoemaker said.
Shoemaker also criticized expensive choices at Sun, such as the Santa Clara, Calif., company's $4.1 billion acquisition of StorageTek, which came to $3 billion once cash is factored out.
Sun's Java software initiative was costly, too, he said, employing more than 4,000 developers to create a product adopted by IBM and other competitors.
At the same time, the market shifted to buying large numbers of low-end servers--often running Linux...