It Takes A Village

Village.jpeg

I wanted to share some good tidbits about effective management, collaboration, and engagement that I heard this week at a Partnership for Public Service event.


It Takes A Village – No I don’t mean the book by Hillary Clinton, but rather the idea that no one person is an island and no one can do everything themselves. Rather, we need the strengths and insights that others have to offer; we need teamwork; we need each other!


2-Way Communication – Traditionally, organizations communicate from the top-down or center to the periphery (depending how you look at it).  But that doesn’t build buy-in and ownership. To do that, we need to have 2-way communication, people’s active participation in the process, and genuine employee engagement.


Get Out Of The Way –  We (generally) don’t need to tell people how to do their jobs, but rather develop the vision for what success looks like and then get out of the way of your managers and people. “Make managers manage and let managers manage” and similarly, I would say, hold people accountable but let people work and breath!


Things Change – While it’s important to have consistency, momentum, and stay the course, you also need to be agile as the facts on the ground change.  “Disregard what’s not working, and embrace what is.” But you must stay open to new ideas and ways of doing things.


This is our world of work–our village–and either everyone helps and gets onboard the train or they risk getting run over by it. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

What’s With All The Finger-pointing

Fingerpointing.jpeg

Have you ever seen someone point fingers at the next guy/gal (a classmate, neighbor, co-worker, or even family and friends)?


It’s the blame game, the one-upmanship, the I’m golden and your mud way of doing business–can you really push that knife in any further?


And whatever finger your pointing, frankly it might as well be your middle finger in terms of the message you are sending. 


The old saying is that when you point fingers at others, there are three fingers pointing back at you–try it with your hand now and see what I mean.


Getting the job done–means working collaboratively and cohesively–we all contribute from our unique perspectives and skills sets. 


It’s synergy where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, rather than I think I’ll take all the darn credit–hey, I really do deserve it (in my own mind anyway)! 


Really, it’s not who did what to whom, but who helped whom and giving credit amply all around.


Ultimately, when we work together, we are strong, and when we point fingers at each other, it’s because we are weak, and we are weakening our relationships and the organization. 


The only time to point a finger, for real, is when you are gesturing to the Heaven, where all blessings come and from whom we are all created in His image. 


Otherwise, keep your fingers to yourself unless your fixing something that’s broke. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Manage As A Mensch

Mensch.jpeg

So I was watching Shark Tank and they gave an update on how one of the products, “Mensch on a Bench,” is doing.


It’s selling in Bed, Bath, and Beyond and has exceeded 100,000 units already!


Aside from the doll and book, they are working on Mensch apps, activity kits, and candy bars. 


The founder said, “It is hilarious and heartwarming to see all the different ways that families can incorporate Mensches into their lives.”


This got me thinking about how being a mensch can also be incorporated into being a great manager!


– Treating people decently and fairly


– Empowering them to do their jobs well


– Empathizing with them as human beings


– Appreciating the power of diversity


– Respecting everyone and their points of view


– Recognizing and rewarding a job well done


Unfortunately, there are too many bad bosses out there that micromanage and abuse their people. 


They are arbitrary and dictatorial and never ask what anyone else thinks; they dump the work on their people, but don’t lend a hand; they steal their ideas and take credit for their work; on top of it, they might even then stab them in the back when they’re not looking; ah, forget about showing any sort of appreciation or kindness–it’s dog eat dog. 


Hence, being a mensch first is a management must!


Think about people, not as a means to an end, but as an end unto themselves–they are souls interacting with your soul. 


Kindness, compassion, empathy…but keep your eyes on the important work and mission you are doing.


Get it done together, as a team, collaboratively, and with everyone contributing towards the endgame. 


(Live and) manage as a mensch! 😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to Bed, Bath, and Beyond)

Measured {Leadership + Management} + Staff = Success!

Tug Of War

So I heard from a colleague this week an argument about:


Too much leadership dilutes good management. 


AND [similarly]


Too much management dilutes good leadership.


What is this a tug of war (without the showy skirts please!)?


Or 


Can you ever have too much of a good thing? 


Typically, leaders provide the vision and managers the execution.


I don’t see how it is really possible to have one without the other and have anything useful at the end of the day.


A vision without delivered execution is just another big idea.


And


Execution without a meaningful vision is just chasing your tail.


Too much leadership with grandiose vision after vision overwhelms the ability to manage a successful execution.


Too much management of the devils-in-the-details and even the best leadership vision isn’t going to see the light of day.


So the conclusion:


Great leaders need to set the goal posts high but doable and then get out of the way so that talented managers can make sure to get the job done and done right.


And don’t forget that it’s a diverse and skilled staff that actually does the heavy lifting and need to be respected and appreciated.


Tug of war over! 😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to Jamie McCaffrey)

Everyday, A Catch-22

Catch-22
I took this photo of this guys’ cool Catch-22 bag on the Metro in Washington, D.C. yesterday. 



Catch-22 was made famous in the book of the said name by Joseph Heller.



Essentially a Catch-22 is an unsolvable problem.



In the book for example, military servicemen in WWII can apply for a discharge if they are verifiably crazy, but the sheer act of applying for a discharge shows you are not crazy. 



Other examples of a Catch-22 are locking your keys in the car and you can’t unlock the door to get them or losing your glasses but now you can’t look for them.



In life, it seems like we are constantly facing Catch-22’s, however not solving them is not an option…we must come up with a workable solution.



At work and in school, we compete to get ahead, yet we must team, cooperate, and collaborate with those very same folks that we are competing with. 



At home with children, we need to teach our children often difficult lessons of right and wrong, patience, discipline, and safety, even while we have overflowing feelings of love for them and just want to hug them and give in to them. 



With spouses, as our love and lives build over the years, we grow together and become ever more interdependent on our partners, yet we need to maintain some healthy independence and self at the same time. 



With career, are we advance ourselves so that we can provide well for our families, we must balance work-life, so that we aren’t just bringing home a paycheck, but are actually emotionally there for our loved ones. 



The list of life’s conundrums goes on and on, but rather than throw up our hands in defeat, we have to fight on and come up with solutions that are best fit to the challenges we face…there is no discharge just because you feel crazed or need to confront something hard…you need to solve the dilema and then you can go home. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Decide To Win

Stop Fighting
This was an interesting sign + sticker in Washington, D.C.



It asks to Stop Fighting Congress or perhaps stop the fighting in Congress.



The point is to come together and collaborate for a better decision, rather than have bad decisions made by just one side or have indecision altogether.



The New York Times had an Op-Ed over the weekend called The Great Unraveling about how we are living amidst hatred, fighting, disintegration, disease, and disorientation. 



And we are watching it as if dazed and confused–paralyzed as a nation taking maybe a baby step here or there, but with seemingly no solid committment to do anything to really change, improve, better, or win. 



Scared by lost lives and treasure since 9/11…we cannot bear to lose or waiver in our resolve because of weariness or despair.



Their is a lot to get done…for ourselves and future generations.



We’ve got to stop fighting our demons and each other and instead face up, man up, to the myriad of global problems that confront us. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

UNSOCIAL Social Media

This video is absolutely fantastic.

Congratulations to Gary Turk for hitting the nail on the head here.

And thank you to my daughter, Michelle, for sharing this with me.

Smartphones, dumb people.
Easier to connect with people, but we spend more time alone.
Be there in the moment.
Give your love, not your like.
Look up from your phone, shut down your display.

Part of me just wants to say that Social Media is one of THE biggest wastes of our time…REALLY!

Another part of me, believes in some aspects of it for information sharing, collaboration, and being a greater influence.

But Social Computing is NOT a replacement for genuine human interaction, which is too OFTEN what it has become.

I applaud my daughters, for at times, disconnecting their Facebook accounts to read, spend time with friends, and do other activities.

We’ve lost too much of ourselves to an escapist virtual reality–where it’s easier to HIDE behind a screen, then be there in the flesh facing the challenges that we must.

There are great aspects to being online–it’s been a true information revolution–but the computer needs to SERVE the human master, and not the other way around. 😉

You’re Not All That

You're Not All That

So they say that all sin is rooted in arrogance.

We get too big for our britches and think we can do whatever we want including stepping on others and defying our maker.

An interesting article in Harvard Business Review reminds us to beware of narcissism and hubris.

Narcissism is a character disorder where because of feelings of inadequancy from childhood, people have to self-promote themselves every which way toSunday–they are “insufferably self-centered.”

Hubris is a reactive disorder where due to past success and accolades from others, we become overconfidant, until the luck changes “toppling from their pedestals” and shrinking their ego back down to size.”

I like the reminders from HBR cautioning about these:

– “Have more than thou showest; speak less than thou knowest.” – Shakespear

– “Humble pie should be the only dessert served.”

It’s one thing to have decent self-esteem anchored in your knowing right from wrong and acting accordingly, and it’s another to think and act like you have all the answers–none of us do.

If your showing it off, it’s likely a turn off. 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Jampa)

The Lie Of the Open Workspace

The Lie Of the Open Workspace

There are so many workplace liars—the problem is many of them are experienced and good at selling you a bunch of malarkey.

Often, they tell you what they want, either to save the company money or to make themselves look innovative, but either way it’s inevitably at your cost.

One of these lies is from chieftains that tell you’ll be better off working in an open workspace–i.e. thrown into a corporate bullpen.

Oh, by the way, vacate your office by Friday!

Sure there are a plethora of benefits to having common spaces to share ideas and open up communications—and these should be plentiful and stocked with comfy sofas, energy-inducing munchables, and ample white boards and tech gear to facilitate collaboration.

But when the pendulum swings all the way to the other side, and your personal office space become a hoteling situation, you know you are losing out to penny-pinching executives, who want to save on leasing office space, furniture, and the like in order to boost their personal bonuses at the end of the year.

Just ask yourself:

– Do people need privacy to handle sensitive personnel, budget, contracting, and strategic planning and execution issues (as well as occasional family or personal issues—we are all human)?

– Do you need time to close the door for some quiet time to think, innovate, and catch up on work?

– Is there a genuine human need to have a place to put your work and personal things to be productive and comfortable?

The truth is that people need and deserve a balanced work environment—one where people can move healthily between closed and open spaces, individual work and teamwork, privacy and sharing, creativity and productivity, individualism and conformity, comfort and cost-savings.

Anyone that tells you that people work better in a fully open environment where you have to book up a desk and computer is selling you on short-term organizational cost-savings at the expense of longer-term human capital satisfaction and productivity.

Next time, a “leader” tries to convince you of the merits of your not having a professional workspace, desk, computer, and so on—ask yourself whether you want to work in a Motel 6 every day or for a stable organization that values and invests in it people.

An appropriate blended environment of open and closed work spaces, where it shows that you are empowered and valued is a career, and not just a job;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to epochgraphics)

Performance and Transparency – 2gether 4ever

Performance and Transparency - 2gether 4ever

Really liked this performance measurement and transparency at Home Depot.

Here are their store performance measures prominently displayed.

Not a high-tech solution, but every measure has its place and metrics.

– Looks at friendly customer service.

– Tracks speed of checkout.

– Measures accuracy of transactions.

This lines up well with the management adage that “you can’t manage what you don’t measure.”

Some pointers:

– Identify, collaboratively, your key drivers of performance

– Determine whether/how you can measure them efficiently (i.e. qualitatively, quantitatively)

– Set realistic, stretch targets for the organization

– Communicate the goals and measures, 360 degrees

– Regularly capture the measures and make the metrics transparent

– Recognize and reward success and course correct when necessary

– Reevaluate measures and goals over time to ensure they are still relevant

Wash, rinse, repeat for continuous improvement. 😉

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)