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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Unemployed? Use Your Social Network!

Have you lost your job or will soon? Surely, it is a stressful time and not news you wanted to hear.

However, life is different than it was five years ago. With the ubiquity and acceptability of social networking sites, finding new work is now just a little bit easier. Executives & Professionals: Changing Jobs?

Social networking sites such as Facebook and Linkedin offer an opportunity to reconnect with old friends and acquaintances, as well as make new contacts. They also offer new outlets to float trial balloons and seek advice.

If you have never used these sites, you probably should. Both are free, though they are different in nature. Facebook is focused on social aspects and is informal in nature. Linkedin is focused on business networking.

The first step to utilize these tools is to create an account. Its pretty simple and only takes a minute.

The second step is to build your profile. For Facebook, you may wish to consider leaving your religious and political affiliations blank. While it is illegal to discriminate against a job applicant on the basis of political or religious affiliation, you never know what hidden prejudices a potential recruiter or contact may have.

For Linkedin, your profile can be built by cutting and pasting from your resume. Since the site is pretty flexible, take time to highlight successes or any other item that may not have made it into your resume. Also, make sure your overview is a very tight marketing statement about you. RingCentral Online - Free Trial plus 10% Off

Thirdly, use the networking features of the site to connect to as many people as possible. You would be surprised how many of your old friends from high school and even elementary school are on Facebook. Also, Linkedin shows you where your former colleagues moved on to. Also, find groups, such as college alumni or company alumni, as well as specialty to join. In each instances, you can find out what is happening in the areas that are most pertinent to you.

Finally, once you have your friends established, tell them what you need. An example from Facebook would be, "Jack is currently looking for a new position as a welder," or for LinkedIn, "Susan is considering new opportunities in high-tech marketing." When your friends or prospects check your profile, they quickly see your interests and needs. Further, who better to help than friends and family?

While there has been a significant amount of hype around social networking, it does work. Not only does it allow you to reconnect with old friends and scattered relatives, it also allows you to join with others in shared interests. If you are looking for a job, these contacts can spell good leads as well as emotional support. Don't fear the future, explore it with others!

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Use that Vacation!!

Ah, vacation. We love to talk about it, and go on them. When was the last time you went, or for that matter, your star employee? Become a Decision Maker. Search Director, VP, & Manager level Jobs.

Vacation or Paid Time Off (PTO), is a significant portion of any compensation package. It is significant not just in monetary terms, but also in productivity terms.

As a manager, you should enable your employees to exhaust as much of their PTO as possible. Why? Aren't employees adults and know how to manage their own lives?

Most Americans don't consume their entire PTO each year, with a significant amount taking little or no time off at all. Employees who don't take time off are at risk for burn-out and reduced performance. Save up to 70% on Business Class Deals to Europe with Air France!

A vacation should be a time to rest and recreate. A vacation also allows employees to rest their minds from work, which in turn, leads them to be more creative when they come back. Additionally, time away from work allows for minor dust ups to pass over, increasing the harmony in the workplace.

As we get close to the end of the year and the weeks of Christmas and Thanksgiving, make sure your folks are taking time off. Don't forget you too! Managers need time off just as much as line employees.

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Monday, November 3, 2008

Are You a Micromanager?

In businesses large and small, there is always the temptation to micromanage. In some cases it is an overwhelming sense of responsibility, in others, it is a general distrust of employees.

Regardless, micromanaging is detrimental to employees, companies, and the shareholders.

If you find that employees no longer offer suggestions or tell you outright that you micromanage, then you probably do. Now that you know you micromanage, stop it! Need an easy online web conferencing solution without an installation? Try Dimdim, it's easy, open and affordable. Sign up Now!

Diane Foster of Diane Foster & Associates states in an article found in the Wall Street Journal (11/03/2008, "Micromanagers Miss Bull's Eye"), "The best managers help employees learn to work independently by giving them meaningful responsibilities."

While that seems like a simple and reasonable statement, many managers have a hard time relinquishing control. One way for the manager to relinquish the control is to remember that a manager's function is to lead, plan, and measure. One can't successfully do things while trying to do the jobs of their subordinates. Find $100K+ Jobs

The article also provides this list, from Debra Nunes of Hay Group and Diane Foster to help break the micromanaging habit:

1. Clearly articulate expectations
2. Focus on hiring and placement of subordinates
3. Give employees decision-making power
4. Encourage questions and suggestions
5. Offer constructive feedback
6. Don't grab the reins at the first sign of trouble

In each of the points above, managers need to understand their own role, before they can successfully manage and measure the roles of their subordinates. Building the right team with the proper expectations is the beginning of smoothly running organization.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Managing Political Speech in the Office

As the US gets closer to the November 4, 2008 Presidential election, the race has proven polarizing and contentious. Undoubtedly, many people have strong opinions about both candidates, as well as the issues that differentiate them

So how does a manager handle this type of excitement and the possible confrontation?

The first thing to remember is that most companies have policies that outline what is conduct is appropriate during business hours. This includes any personalization of workspace, the posting of informational materials, as well as the types of conversations that are appropriate. Find $100K+ Jobs

In short, the workplace is about work and not about personal political preferences. Employees are required to live by corporate policies and codes of conduct. However, an astute manager must have a relief valve for the pent up excitement and emotion. Here are a few strategies to deal with them. 
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1. If allowed by corporate policy, allow workspace personalization to include political buttons, stickers, etc. This gives the employee a non-verbal means of expression.
2. If allowed by corporate policy, allow the posting of materials in a designated break area, insuring equal space to differing points of view.
3. Remind employees that political discussion should be limited to break times and off-hours.
4. If so desired, consider a series of lunch discussion on the issues.

Political participation is a civic duty, however, it shouldn't consume work hours. Allowing employees to express their political view point, within reason and policy, promotes political participation and is a healthy release of emotion around election season.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I Disagree with Jack Welch

Jack and Suzy Welch wrote an interesting response to the question of "What kind of person is a change agent?" in 09 October issue of "Business Week."

While no one can deny Jack's success at GE, or he and Suzy's success since then, I take exception to one of the statements they make. Find $100K+ Jobs

From the article:

"...Most questions we receive about change are from individuals deep within their organizations, .... They hunger to be change agents, but worry they can't be. They're right (emphasis added). Sure, a transformative idea can percolate from below. And yes, gains are being made with employee engagement, ...By and large, however, change is still made by people with some sort of authority."

Wow, talk about a "give up now" moment. What are those who are not in a position of authority supposed to do, just be automatons and hope they get credit for good ideas? While I don't disagree with the points of the article in general, such as change agents must be leaders, I think the Welch's miss the boat for the rest of the working populace. Change agents have to be cultivated and trained, they don't just show up as managers, directors, or CEOs.

If we consider the writings of Stephen Covey, in particular the concept of a "sphere of influence," this is where individual contributors can be change agents. Often, I have been approached by an employee, whether in the Army or in the civilian world, where they have an idea of how to do things better. I may have been able to implement it on a small scale, though it may not happen on a greater scale. Either way, that person made for change and succeeded. Find Premium Finance Jobs on Doostang. Start Now!

Further, some of the greatest change initiatives have started out as minor suggestions or incremental improvements. Change, and its second cousin innovation, take time and are often done in small steps. If you are a manager, you should encourage this among all of your employees. Promote your staff to think critically and challenge the status quo. There may be a better way to do it, but you may never know unless you ask. You may be cultivating that agent of change and not even know it.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Helping Employees During Open Enrollment

It's October and that means its time for open enrollment for work place benefits.

Most companies with open enrollment have benefits such as 401(k), health insurance, as well as flexible spending and possibly additional paid time off (PTO).

A good manager encourages their employees to review their current benefits, and consider changes for the new benefit year.

First, despite the current financial mess, encourage employees to contribute to their 401(k) plan. Any corporate contribution is a net positive. As we have seen over the last 70 years, the stock market has averaged about 11% growth. Don't stop saving! Cheap? No. 100% Free. Trade stocks for free on The Free Trading Community.

Second, employees should review their health plans. They may consider more expensive PPO plans if they are planning a family or have specialized needs that these types of plans cover. For younger employees in good general health, they may consider low deductible plans.

Third, flexible spending is a great benefit, especially for families. By tucking away money, tax-free, for medical and day care expenses can be a real boost. Remind employees that the benefits must be consumed by the end of the benefit year or the remaining balance will be forfeited. Compare Annuity Investment Plans!

Finally, if additional paid leave is offered, employees may want to consider it, if they have contributed to a 401(k) first. It may be important for those with community service commitments, or athletic competition to have the time available to take off.

As a manager, your employees' well being is a very serious matter. Although open enrollment is very personal, your guidance and understanding of the benefits offered can be a benefit all to itself. Encourage saving, as well as appropriate health coverage. Also, don't forget the financial benefit that flexible spending accounts and health care reimbursement accounts bring.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Lead a Green Office

With "green" being the buzz word of the last couple of years, how do you green efforts in your office?

As a business leader, it is easier than you think. Many basic green principles are common sense. Additionally, they positively impact the bottom line.

If you want to "green " your office, lead by example with the following tips.

1. Turn off any equipment that doesn't need to be on at night, like network printers, desktops, and lights.
2. If you have a duplex capable printer, print double-sided.
3. Discourage the printing of emails.
4. Encourage telecommuting
5. Teleconference or WebEx instead of traveling
6. Take advantage of recycling plans from your solid waste collection agency

Although "reduce, reuse, recycle" isn't a catchy phrase, it does have a very practical meaning. Office recycling is good for the bottom line, it can motivate ecologically concerned employees, and is easy.

Do your part!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Remembering Success

Sometimes, we have a run of days or weeks where we aren't at our best at work. Perhaps layoff rumors are getting us down. Maybe the new boss is a jerk. Maybe the new position you worked for years to get is far more difficult than you expected. In any case, how do you rise up and return to success?

Marshall Goldsmith wrote a piece in Business Week titled, "Self-Confidence and Success." In the piece, he highlights how remembering past successes helps to build self-confidence.

Goldsmith discusses how we build "highlight reels" in our memory. When we are really dragging, we pull that reel out and it gives us a boost.

He cites the following examples: "It might be those five minutes in the executive meeting when you had the floor and nailed the argument you wanted to make. (Who wouldn't run that highlight reel in their head as if it were the Sports Center Play of the Day?) It might be your skillfully crafted memo that the CEO praised and routed to everyone in the company."

However, as we tend to remember only the good things, we also need to keep an honest view of ourselves. In group settings, Wilson points out that most overestimate their contribution. Additionally, we also tend to view ourselves better than our peers. This can be very difficult during review periods when we think we deserve top marks, but in reality, we may only be in the middle of the pack.

Wilson provides an excellent piece of parting advice, "Complete this sentence, "I am success because of…," Then complete this sentence, "I am a success in spite of…." By acknowledging our weaknesses, it makes received negative feedback just a little easier.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Word about Copyrights

It has come to my attention that a person has stolen my material and claimed it as their own. All works found on this blog are copyrighted, which, from is: Unabridged (v 1.1) - Cite This Source - Share This
1.the exclusive right to make copies, license, and otherwise exploit a literary, musical, or artistic work, whether printed, audio, video, etc.: works granted such right by law on or after January 1, 1978, are protected for the lifetime of the author or creator and for a period of 50 years after his or her death.
2.of or pertaining to copyrights.
3.Also, cop·y·right·ed. protected by copyright.
–verb (used with object) secure a copyright on.

[Origin: 1725–35; copy + right]

cop·y·right·a·ble, adjective
cop·y·right·er, noun Unabridged (v 1.1)
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.

All of the work on this blog is original, and written by me. As this is my work, I guard it jealously, and will take all necessary actions to protect it. I attribute all source material. All pictures are the work of the artists.

If you wish to cite this blog, include the URL of the post, as well as the article name. Thank you for your consideration.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?

I received the following question about staying in a job or quitting, after a reader read my post, "The Graceful Exit."

I just read your excellent post and it hit home with me. It has been quite some time that I have been contemplating changing careers. I quit a co-op position after two years because I didn't feel like it fit me. After failing to find another co-op, I went back to work for that company until graduation. Later, I took offer and started full-time.

After two years, I've been moved back to where I was while co-oping, and I'm remembering why I quit the first time. I would like to quit, but I don't have a plan for what to do next. I have serious hesitations about quitting my job. If I do choose to quit my job, what is the best reason to give my employer?

Here is my reply:

Wow, I have been in some very similar situations you have.

First and foremost, you have to think about what it is that really want to do. Since you are recently out of college, you are going to have several experiences that will likely change your career track.

Secondly, a great piece of advice is to never quit a job unless you have a new job to go to. Make sure that you have the new job, in writing! Use the time to consider your opportunities. Talk to friends, family, and colleagues in the types of positions you are interested in considering. Sign up on (Its free!).

If you have all of your ducks in a row and you are ready to leave, just tell your current employer that you wanted to pursue other opportunities. You are grateful for the time you have had, all that you learned, and the relationships you built, but its time to move on. Keep it short and nice. You may meet those folks again down the road. It is always good to leave on a positive note.

This is a great time in your life and career. Do your best and talk to as many people as you can. Remember always, you work to live, not live to work.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Are You a Jerk?

Are you a jerk at work? Do you treat people badly, yelling and screaming at them? Do you often think that because you are the boss you don't have to follow the same rules?

In the August 25 issue of Business Week, Robert Sutton of Stanford writes that, "...although some people act badly wherever they go, all of us are capable of turning into demeaning creeps under the wrong conditions." It is a sad truth, isn't it.

However, what he finds in the research is that some of this behavior is acquired by aping those around us. If we regularly see our peers treating others shabbily, and flying off the handle far to frequently, we begin to participate in the "socialization process." In other words, we observe the behavior to be normal and take it as our own.

Sutton continues that the research shows this is typical for all people, however, it can be defeated. Try not to work for companies that are full of jerks and bullies. If you didn't know they were jerks and bullies when you started, but know now, leave immediately.

Now let's suppose you are in a position of authority. Guess what? You are more likely to turn into a jerk yourself. From the article:

A growing body of research—notably by professors Dachner Keltner at University of California, Berkeley, Deborah Gruenfeld at Stanford, and their students—documents that three things happen when people are put in positions of power:

1. They focus more on satisfying their own needs;
2. They focus less on the needs of their underlings;
3. They act like "the rules" others are expected to follow don't apply to them.

Don't despair, their is hope! Sutton recommends having advisers and mentors to bounce things off of, as well as for them to let you know if you are behaving badly. Listening to those your trust to be open and honest can straighten you out in jiffy! Humorously, he closes the article by stating that teenage children can also help CEOs in particular be less jerkish, because "...challenge their power and question their judgment." Hear hear!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Managing Fear During a Layoff

You have had a strange feeling that something isn't right. While things seem to be doing OK in your business, they aren't their best. All of the sudden, senior management has gotten very quiet.

Then BANG! Two or three folks you know send emails that they have a short amount of time to find jobs in the company or they are out.

What happened? Am I next? What is going on? These are very real concerns and serious questions. If you hear about folks having been laid off, there is at least some chance that there will be more firings in the future.

The way to handle these feelings and realities is based on the amount of control you can bring to the situation. Aside from doing your best to make the business successful, try to have a positive attitude. Additionally, make sure that you have taken precautions in the event that you are next. Update your resume. Make sure your profiles on social networking sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. are up to date. Verify both your business and personal networks are up to date. In short, manage your sphere of control and influence.

In most cases, the decisions about who stays and who goes aren't personal. They certainly may feel that way, but usually aren't. If you are able to keep your job, be happy and diligent. Also, be willing to help those who lost their job. It is a small world and kindness goes a long way. If you do lose your job, try to see the opportunity in change. If possible, maybe it is a good time to go back to school. It also could be time to start that business or write that book you have dreamed about.

Life is hard, unfair, and often brutish, but you don't have to be. Optimism and a positive attitude can make difficult situations bearable. If your business is cutting their work force, be proactive and know your options. Like the motto of the Boy Scouts, "Be Prepared!"

Friday, August 8, 2008

How to Turn Down an Applicant

You have finally found the perfect match for that open position. They have the right skills, education and experience. So how do you handle the candidates who just didn't make it? Nobody likes to deliver bad news, but the delay can be very painful for the ones not selected.

As I have written in my other articles, common sense and courtesy are great guides to difficult decisions, as well is the golden rule, "Treat others as you would like to be treated." Interviewees have invested time and emotion and are hoping for the best. When they are turned down, it isn't easy for them or you.

Once you have made your selection, promptly reply to the successful candidate. For the unsuccessful candidates, a prompt reply allows for closure. Where possible, email or call as soon as you can. Provide feedback that is helpful, e.g. consider more education, dress more appropriately, improve your resume. These types of positive feedback not only reduce the sting of rejection, but also empower the candidate to improve.

Finally, if the unsuccessful candidates show potential, keep up with them. Consider using LinkedIn or Facebook, or some other kind of social networking tool. That rejected candidate today might be the perfect candidate tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Emotions and Purpose

In my previous post, "Its Employee Review Time," I wrote about the need to honest and thorough feedback to employees, helping them to further their success.

Like many other occasions in business, employee review time can be very emotional. What is my manager going to say? What am I going to say in response? Am I going to get a raise? Questions such as these shouldn't be asked, IF the manager has been providing feedback throughout the year.

In the July 28 issue of Business Week, Jack and Suzy Welch address how to handle emotions in the workplace. They mention that getting a handle on negative emotions and dysfunctional behavior is critical.

From the article, "All it takes is an active commitment to remove uncertainty from your company and to instill a purpose-oriented approach to inspiration."

Most managers would agree that removing all uncertainty is impossible. Rather, managers can remove certain elements of uncertainty. For example, regular feedback removes the uncertainty of where an employee stands in their managers' mind. Additionally, statements about the business, like Jack Stack's Open-Book Management, give employees all of the relevant facts about the business. In good times, but especially bad, their is relief in knowing.

Managers should also provide purpose. When employees have a clear purpose, whether via a mission or vision statement, they are able create their schedules and fix their minds on a defined goal. The goal helps to reduce uncertainty and provides a rally point.

Does this sound an awful lot like common sense? You bet. Dealing with emotions and uncertainty are things managers do everyday, most of the time using common sense. Open and honest communication is the key to good management, an empowered workforce, and a successful company.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Its Employee Review Time!

Yes, its mid-year again and time to do semi-annual performance reviews. While this can be one of the most important exercises done between employees and managers, it is also a time a great stress and dread.

Nobody likes to be told they aren't doing a good job, and nobody likes to be the bearer of bad news. To help make the review process worthwhile, there shouldn't be any surprises. Regular feedback between employees and their management allow for corrections as well as congratulations. Regular feedback also reduces the impending doom many employees feel.

The mid-year performance review should be a time to review the overall goals, as well as the objectives that were to be completed by mid-year. This is also a time for employees and managers to make adjustments to rest of the year goals. Additionally, this is a good time for employees to begin planting the seeds for next years goals.

Finally, this is a great time for managers to highlight and encourage employee development. Managers should look for measurable, achievable goals, and find ways to improve employee skills. Employees should also drive development goals and express interest in new skills or opportunities.

Do you have your facts together? Have you written down your successes and misses? Are their any changes you want to make. These are the questions managers and employees should ask before their reviews. Reviews are a great time to learn about yourself and chart the path to a successful rest of the year!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Manager 2.0, Part V

The post has finally arrived, the last in the series of five on management, Web 2.0 style. Through the previous four posts, we have discussed several topics, from Open-Book Management, compensation, and even Total Quality Management. In this post, we shall discuss items relating to deadlines and opportunities.

Item 13 states: "Deadlines agreed on and set by those doing the work." One could suggest that this isn't realistic, as it ignores both the internal and external customer needs. Consider home renovation. Does the customer allow the contractor to dictate how long the job will take, or is the schedule negotiated? Also, what if those doing the work are inefficient and their scheduling of the work promotes inefficiency? While a negotiated work schedule is best, no one side should have the scheduling power.

Item 14 states: "Employees create opportunities to learn and to be challenged." This is an excellent statement. Employees should be doing this any way! Suppose an employee has access to the company's online training resources. Shouldn't that employee take the opportunity to learn about new things in the business, or just improve other skills? It is always better to be proactive. Study the business, ask questions about the direction of the business, and be prepared to change.

As the Bible states, "There is nothing new under the sun." In each of the 14 topics, we have seen how the cultural phenomenon of Web 2.0 is causing managers to rethink how they operate their business and how they relate to their employees. Web 2.0 has brought acceptance of self-service, as well as acceptance of rapid change. While these elements have been demonstrated as positive for business, they have always required strong leadership. Let's hope that these Web 2.0 lessons will make for a more efficient, and stronger Manager 2.0

Friday, July 18, 2008

Manager 2.0, Part IV

In this post, I will discuss the next three items(10-12) listed from the Manager 2.0 diagram listed in the Web 2.0 for Business post. Allow me to first express my gratitude to Kathy Sierra for creating the figure, referenced in Web 2.0 for Business post.

Item 10 states: "Continuous peer review ... official "appraisals" irrelevant due to constant communication." This is very similar to a the Deming principles. W. Edwards Deming, arguably the father of Total Quality Management used the notion of official appraisals only if performance was outside of an accepted band. The expectation of employees were clearly stated and understood. Continuous feedback was part of the process of achieving total quality, and thus, formal appraisals were not necessary.

Item 11 states: "A Hollywood model." This is contrasted with an hierarchical structure. I contend that there has to be some hierarchy, as there has to be a final say to issues, as well to provide direction. Examples of companies with looser hierarchical models are AES, Whole Foods Market, and

Item 12 states: "Hiring based on curiosity, ability to learn, and passion." This is a statement I don't agree with. While these attributes are important, the demonstrated ability to do the job, or some aspect of a job is more important, in my opinion than curiosity or passion. Just because I have a passion for art doesn't mean that I have the talent or skill to become a great artist, or accountant, for that matter. A company must decide how much they are willing to invest in an employee who is curious, passionate, and able to learn to get them up to speed. Experience tells me that budget is very limited.

As I have mentioned throughout this series, many of these topics are have been discussed, though in a piecemeal fashion. Further, the points focus on filling not just the basic need for a paycheck, but rather more on the psychic benefits that keep employees motivated.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Manager 2.0 - Part III

In this post, I will discuss the next three items(7-9) listed from the Manager 2.0 diagram listed in the Web 2.0 for Business post. Allow me to first express my gratitude to Kathy Sierra for creating the figure, referenced in Web 2.0 for Business post.

Item seven states: "Employees have autonomy, responsibility, and authority." In this statement, the only word I have issue with is autonomy. In all things, there has to be a leader. No one can operate in pure autonomy. Perhaps a better way of putting this is to say that the employee is empowered to work inside a broad framework, to achieve business goals. To do this, they must be responsible, accountable, and have the authority necessary to direct action. However, authority implies an hierarchy of sorts, so there is conflict. If employees rotate jobs frequently, they may encounter a position that has certain authority, which may suit this model.

Item eight states: "Intrinsic motivation to do really good work." Respectfully, that assumes an inwardly motivated individual, which is not typical of the human condition. Most people don't want to go to work, like the old saying, "I work to live, not live to work." If the work one does is interesting, and provides psychic benefits, then motivation will be high. However, external rewards and incentives are very necessary to set both the tone and to enforce expectations.

Item nine states: "Users are king, but not at the expense of employees." I take issue with this point, to a degree. Customers should always be king, but employees should never be treated unfairly. Companies and management need tools to enable the workforce to serve customers and satisfy their needs. Policies, particularly those meant to meet compliance with external forces, need to be crafted in such a way that compliance brings a benefit to the company and not a hindrance to the employee.

Oh, I put the picture in there because its funny. These things can be kind of dry, but I do have a sense of humor, really.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Manager 2.0, Part II

In this second article in a series of five about managing in a Web 2.o framework, I will discuss points 4-6 of the figure found here.

Item four states: "Employees and teams challenge themselves. If one person or team succeeds, everyone wins." Employees should be give great latitude and more importantly, time, in their development. Management needs to insure however, that the development money spent rewards not just the employee, but also the shareholder. A good example would be an employee taking a basket weaving class. That class might really benefit an employee of Martha Stewart, but not necessarily ExxonMobil. Regarding rewarding "everyone" for an effort, hopefully, the work of the team or the individual is geared to the success of the company. In other words, a team win should, by definition, be a corporate win.

Item five states: "Informal job role created by employee, tailored to their strengths and interests, and changes all the time." Outside of the need of formal titles for compensation studies, this makes a lot of sense. As employees mature and become experts in their work, they should be able to move on to new positions, building on those strengths, and learning more about the business. Regular job rotation is widely regarded as a good thing and can be very manageable.

Items six states: "Emphasis on community." A company is a community of sorts, with different teams supporting the company as a whole. Good management practices are about aligning teams to create a well-organized and functioning business. While this corporate/community function is very important, arguably, customers should have the emphasis.

This discussion has left me with an interesting perspective. Web 2.0 concepts are generally positive, though strongly individualistic. While there is emphasis on team and community, much of these items focus on the individual and create tension with the natural and necessary authority in companies. Taking care of employees in general, and individuals in specific, is good for business. However, without a strong focus on customers and strong leadership, the Web 2.0 principles can lead to a lot of good work serving no purpose.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The First of Manager 2.0 Posts

In this post, I will discuss the first of three items listed from the Manager 2.0 diagram listed in the Web 2.0 for Business post. Allow me to first express my gratitude to Kathy Sierra for creating the figure, referenced in Web 2.0 for Business post.

The first item listed in the Manager 2.0 figure is: "All employees are asked to help with policy decisions and solutions." While I think this item is very difficult to implement in a large company, I do agree with the concept. Employees should be well versed with corporate policies and be willing to challenge them, if they have a better way. In some cases, these suggestions will have to be rejected on legal or regulatory grounds, however, if the suggestions save money or do things better, they may be accepted.

The second item is: "Pay is generous and fair, profit-sharing is the norm." Well, who can disagree with generous and fair pay? Profit-sharing can be a good thing, but shouldn't be considered a goal in and of itself. In some cases, there may be other incentive-based pay, other than profit sharing, that achieves the same goal. In each case, the business will need to evaluate its compensation policy to insure that both the employees and shareholders are treated fairly.

The third item is: "Employees are given as much information about the company as possible, including financial." I couldn't agree more! A good model for this and its success is Jack Stack at SRC Holdings and "Open-Book Management." Jack went on to write The Great Game of Business. Once employees understand the components of corporate finance, not just revenue, they can align their actions accordingly.

We have seen in the first three items of the list that many of the Web 2.0 principles of management are not new. Rather, what is novel, is that they haven't been widely discussed in this context. For Generation Y and younger, particularly those who don't have strong corporate experience, or a business school education, these HR-type issues (compensation, management principles, etc.) aren't well understood in a broad context. Instead, they are intuited. People want to have a say in what they do, how they are paid, and they want the inside information.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Web 2.0 Framework for Business

By now, everyone is familiar with the basic Web 2.0 concepts of social networking, blogging, Facebook, etc. What people aren't familiar with is the cultural shift that Web 2.0 is making in the workplace.

As employees are used to using the Web 2.0 applications outside of work, as we know nobody uses them during work (wink, wink), except for things such as corporate blogs and knowledge bases, these applications change patterns of thinking and behavior.

I found a great chart referenced by Luis Suarez at ManagerNewz. It highlights the cultural shift and behavioral differences mentioned above. I hope to do more posts on this topic in the future and found this chart perfect to create the framework for those posts. Here is the link:

Diversity of Thought, Hire the Entrepreneurs!

So often one reads about "diversity," more as a regulatory or compliance exercise, than what it truly is, finding people with a diversity of thought and opinion. Regularly, businesses hire people who are similar to the existing organization. Sure, that makes for great "fit," but what value does that bring to the organization?

In an article on, titled "Wanted: risk-takers for the next decade," the author acknowledges the need for entrepreneurial thinkers in UK businesses. The key words are, "highly skilled, creative, ambitious and enterprising staff, in other words people who can spot opportunities and have new ideas." In other words, focused and driven people who bring different points of view to problems.

The article also points out that this is a cultural weakness in the UK, in particular. This remark highlights the variability and diversity of the business culture of different countries. Many have long recognized that different markets value talent differently. In particular, the entrepreneurial spirit is part of the national character. However, in other countries, a more communal spirit is valued.

For the UK to change and meet the need to bring in more diversity in thought, Alessandra Buonfino, head of research at Demos states: "Much will need changing: from what's in our textbooks to how society incentivises risk-taking ,..."

Network, Network, Network

We have all heard it before, "Its not what you know, but who you know." Networking is definitely the way to improve your chances of success, whether that is success at work, in your social life, or just in your everyday dealings.

Many people find networking difficult, as it is "like a muscle, you've got to work it," my wise, older friend Jay tells me regularly. I agree. As gregarious as I am, I haven't taken networking seriously enough, nor have I viewed it as a discipline. The first step is to admit you have a problem...

I was reading an article at Forbes, titled "How To Network Your Way Up The Corporate Ladder." It is a great article, and here is the best quotation:

"Successful networkers make themselves visible--they put themselves out there. And they back up that ubiquity with credibility."

So how do you do that? Here are the steps Forbes suggests:

1. Join Professional Organizations
This is the first and most basic step to networking. But do more than just attend monthly meetings. Join a committee or run for the board so you get visibility and earn credibility among more senior professionals. Get to know the leadership of the organization since those people know so many others in your field and can introduce you to influential colleagues.

2. Lunch
It’s important to network within your company too. These are the people you will run into for years even after leaving your current job. Lunch is an easy way to get to know colleagues. Instead of working through yet another lunch, set one day aside to eat outside the office with co-workers. Don’t stick with your three closest cubicle-mates; invite those people from different departments you speak to and e-mail regularly but rarely see in person.

3. Give and Receive
Have a short and snappy description of your job ready for when you meet new colleagues, attend a business event or meet clients. The goal is to get people to remember you. Reciprocate by showing an interest in what others do.

4. Find a Mentor
Look for someone on the job who has accomplished the things you hope to achieve. Pop by the person’s office now and then to ask for advice and for a critique of some of your work. If you get advice, heed it and then report back on how you implemented it.

5. Your Starting Class
Get to know people who started their jobs around the same time you came on board, to follow their careers throughout your own. They’re people who eventually become senior employees and are in a position to hire or recommend potential new employees. A brief e-mail every few months to find out how they’re doing will go a long way.

6. Pay It Forward
Building relationships takes credibility, and you earn that by helping other business professionals. If you help a colleague from another department meet a deadline or solve a problem, that person is more likely to introduce you to his or her network.

7. Be Visible
Don’t just attend industry conferences; give presentations while you’re there. Also, write for an industry trade publication or start a blog about your field. People will introduce themselves to you and seek your advice.

This is great advice from Forbes. Now all you (and me!) have to do is follow it, and exercise that muscle. Don't forget social networking sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, and your college/university alumni groups.

Friday, July 11, 2008

A Different Kind of Interview

Of the vast and various sources of information about interviewing, none prepared me for the one I had recently. It was different not because I had to wear a chicken costume or audition Tuvan throat singing, but rather because of the information asymmetry.

Most people normally go to an interview knowing the position they are interviewing for, what the job calls for, in general, and what the range of compensation is. However, for this particular set of interviews, I had very little of that data. Further, while the interviewers knew each other, they didn't provide a context as to why they (individually) were chosen to interview me.

The organization I interviewed with, while over 10,000 employees, has a very flat organizational structure. The reason for that type of structure is because they encourage small teams that are nimble and fluid. For anybody working for large companies, this often spoken of, but not regularly executed.

How does one handle this type of interview? I will have to let you know after I get an offer letter! Seriously though, if you are bad with ambiguity, this type of company is probably not for you. If you really value a title and rigid organizational structures, look elsewhere. However, if you like loose structures that are results-focused, this is your type of place.

My suggestions would be to prepare your successes in the type of position for which you are interviewing. Highlight your command of the general base of knowledge, as well as be prepared to offer suggestions as to how the company can do better. Maybe that is a better marketing plan, or different sales techniques, etc.

As always, be honest, confident, and patient. A new and ambiguous situation requires patience. Feel free to think about the questions and ask for clarification. Once you have done an interview of this type, you will definitely be more prepared in the future. You could also find some interview information here.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Manager Q and A

When you face a problem at work, most of the time it is a matter of misunderstanding. Perhaps management doesn't understand the value of your work. In other cases, a co-worker doesn't understand his constant political questioning is inappropriate. In most cases, a frank and open discussion can clear up issues and lead to a greater understanding between parties.

However, there are situations where a course of action isn't so obvious or clear. Some basic principles will help you make the right decision. In all things, honesty is the best policy. It is possible to present your honesty with shades of meaning and nuance, but deceit is long-term loser. Additionally, the Golden Rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" is always appropriate. Finally, consider your personal moral and ethical code. If you must take action, would you be willing to share the plan with your mother, spouse, or child?

There are many decisions to make in life, they might as well be ones you are proud to speak of.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Criticizing Your Manager

Are you dreaming, a post about criticizing management? Yes, you can safely and successfully criticize your management.

In an article on, titled "Criticise a middle manager today – they can handle it!" the author states that middle managers are some of the toughest out there.

From the article,

"Middle managers may also be owners who head small businesses and require the capacity to handle frequent criticism or rejection, to work through tough negotiations and to build credibility by remaining even-tempered," he (PsyMax Solutions chief executive Dr Wayne Nemeroff)added.

It makes sense. Middle managers have to deal with peers, superiors, and subordinates, not to mention customers. In short, they get kicked around lot. What does that mean for you?

If your manager is doing something that could be improved, or just really annoys you, make an appointment to address the issue. Remember to be honest, candid, but also polite. Provide a reason for the manager to change. I criticized my manager for taking on work that I should have been doing. I framed it by saying it took away from my managers time to solve bigger problems, as well as it displayed an unintentional lack of confidence in me.

Because I was honest, sincere, and frank, he changed. Things have been better since.

Monday, July 7, 2008


As I have written in previous posts, honesty is the key to a successful relationship with your manager.

Authenticity is another key trait to bring to the relationship. Enjoy this clip that discusses it deeper.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

What Makes a Good Manager also Makes a Good Employee!

I have been asked what makes a good manager. What I think is a good answer is that the traits that make a good manager make a good employee also.

I was reading an article on about what makes a good manager. This is what they wrote in part, as key traits:
  • Action-oriented;
  • Approachable;
  • Able to deal with ambiguity;
  • A sense of humor.
Why does it seem like this is so much common sense? Because it is! We often get wrapped up in our own expectations and office politics that we create a "work" persona, instead of just being true to ourselves.

Management is all about personal relationships and trying to bring people to unified action. By using common sense, honesty and building personal relationships, one can be not just a good employee, but also a good manager.

Not to be Out Done, Here is Warren Buffet

While much of this blog is focused on money, one should never forget about philanthropy, and more importantly, charity.

As one rises in business success and salary, it is often easy to forget that money isn't about keeping score, rather that it is about improving the lives of others.

Here is a great YouTube interview of Warren Buffet and Bill and Melinda Gates, on Buffets' announcement to donate 83% of his fortune to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Charlie Rose is the interviewer.

It runs 56 minutes.

Jack Welch Speaks!

In all of the posts so far, I have been the one giving the advice. Ok, there is a Monty Python bit in there, but by in large, it has been my mind at work.

To help provide some context into my thinking about management and leadership, I am posting a link to a video from the Sloan School of Management at MIT. It is 17 minutes of Jack Welch talking about being bold.

This is a good talk for both managers and employees, as well as a generally good life lesson. I hope you enjoy it!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

When to Talk to Your Manager About Quitting

As you have read the posts so far, the topics of raises, promotions, and quitting (in general) have been covered. This post covers that gray area/time when you aren't sure whether you are going to stay or what to quit your current job.

Honesty is the best policy, but there is always discretion. If you are thinking about quiting, you better some darn good reasons and an escape plan prepared. Similar to asking for a raise or promotion, you need to clearly understand and communicate why it is that you are considering this fairly drastic change. It may be simple, such as you and your spouse are moving, or retiring. It may also be complex, where the topics are difficult to discuss. In either case, be honest, factual, but use discretion when necessary. As always, don't let your emotions get the better of you!

Before going in, you need to ask the following questions:

1. Have I talked about these issues or concerns previously, and had a plan to resolve them?

2. Are these issue quantifiable, factual, or emotional (job satisfaction)?

3. Have I done everything possible to resolve these issues, such as speaking with HR, peers, or mentors?

4. What are the minimum requirements for satisfaction? Are those realistic?

5. What is the final straw?

If you can successfully answer these questions, it is time to make an appointment with your manager and discuss them. Hopefully, your manager is aware of the issues and has been working behind the scenes on your behalf. Hopefully, you have been willing to be part of the solution and willing to compromise. This is going to be difficult, but it may reap great rewards.

To borrow a principle from Stephen R. Covey, be willing to accept that you may not be able to solve one or all of the problems at one time. By leaving that option open, you may have given your manager the leeway or time necessary to "make something happen." You may find when the stress of resolution is gone, new possibilities open up.

What happens when you have followed all of this advice and you just can't take it any more? Read my post called "The Graceful Exit."

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Graceful Exit

In previous articles, I wrote about seeking a raise and a promotion. So what happens when the situation at work become untenable? The answer may be to leave. Making the decision may be easy, but taking the decision can be very difficult.

In my experience and that of conventional wisdom, is that finding a new job is easier when you have a job. If you believe that quitting is in your future, start looking now while you have a steady paycheck and benefits. Additionally, while looking for a new job, you may discover that what you are really interested in can be found in a different division of your existing company.

Assuming that you have decided to leave and have accepted the offer for your next job, what do you do next? The answer, negotiate your exit. In some cases, you might have an educational reimbursement payment outstanding, or just have several days of vacation left over. What you should consider is that your leaving the company may benefit the company, so why not share in that benefit? Ask that your reimbursement debt be forgiven, or that you receive a payout of some or all of your remaining vacation. Be creative, maybe you just want your cell phone bill paid until the end of the year.

Once you have negotiated your exit, tie off all of your business loose ends, clean your work area, and say your polite goodbyes. It is also helpful to pass along your LinkedIn profile, as well as your gmail account. This is a small world and you will likely meet your colleagues again in different venues, it is best to do it on good terms.

Following the theme of leaving on good terms, the exit interview is not your soapbox to sound off on every bad corporate decision ever made, or how your boss is a jerk, or that Marketing can't find its way out of a paper bag. Rather, a simple and honest answer such as, "I wanted to explore new opportunities" satisfies the requirement of why you are leaving. Leave with dignity and pride, but also smile at the road ahead.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Has this Ever Happened to You??

Talking to your manager about things can be very stressful, and reading about them can be even more stressful.

To relieve you of hours of reading, I have embedded a video clip to help make this blog more enjoyable as well as to use different parts of the brain to consume knowledge.


Friday, June 13, 2008

How to Ask for a Promotion

Asking for a promotion is very similar to asking for a raise. It requires a compelling, fact-based case on why you deserve more responsibility and compensation. What makes a promotion different from a raise is that involves not just compensation components, but also organizational changes, which can be the tip of the iceberg. However, the most common reason one doesn't get a promotion is that it isn't earned.

A promotion can be defined as an increase in responsibility with a corresponding change in title and compensation. In many cases, the promotion is the next step in the chosen career path, or it may be move into a more responsible position in a different career path. Executives & Professionals: Changing Jobs?

The word most inappropriately associated with promotion is "deserve." One often hears, "I deserve that promotion." Really? Doubtful. Companies, particularly public companies, exist for the improved wellbeing of the owners(shareholders). The only thing employees are entitled too is fair treatment as defined by law. Does that mean employers have the right to treat employees badly? Absolutely not. To attract and retain talent, employers must provide above the minimum. Try RingCentral Fax FREE for 30 days

Unfortunately, in modern American culture, there exists an entitlement mentality. While working hard and "paying your dues" are good things, they are expected! To earn a promotion, one has to demonstrate capacity above expectation. So what does that mean?

Performing above expectation is not only meeting all targets and goals in a timely manner, but showing the initiative to do more. It is also exceeding targets and goals and adding to company's value.

If one can seriously and honestly consider the points above, and still think you should get a promotion, then go for it! Put together a fact-based presentation, schedule a meeting, and put it on the table. Don't be surprised if the answer is "no" or "not now," as the organization might require change, and that isn't taken lightly (or shouldn't be!).

Internet Fax

Thursday, June 12, 2008

How to Ask for a Raise

So, you have been working hard and think you deserve a raise. How do you ask for that raise? The best way is to have your facts in order. While you work and meet your deadlines, there are other things to consider.

The first consideration is how long you have been in your current job. Unless you have a previous agreement or have been really blowing it out of the water, don't expect a raise (other than annual adjustment) in the first year of the position. Generally, when companies are putting together annual budgets, salaries are a major component. Most create a small cushion for raises, but the key word is small.

The second consideration is how you are performing in comparison with people of the same pay grade or title, or comparable position. Are you really outperforming peers? Often that is hard to judge, as you are probably spending most of your time focused on your responsibilities, and not those of others. What you have to highlight are your achievements and how you are exceeding the expectations of your position.

The third consideration is whether a promotion is a better alternative to just a raise. As stated above, if you well exceeding your current responsibilities, maybe its time to move up. However, moving up may require more education, training, or experience, so it can be tricky.

Finally, you have to consider the business climate. Is the company doing well? Is it meeting its financial targets? Have you read the balance sheet, income statement, or statement of cash flows. If you haven't, you should. If you don't know how, learn!

Once you have these facts together and you can prove a strong case, ask to meet with your manager. Present the data clearly and succinctly. You may want to have a slide or two. Also, be prepared for the answer to be "No" or "Not at this time." In either case, ask for a specific date in the future to readdress the issue. Follow up with a thank you note confirming the date to readdress the issue.

Getting a raise can be very challenging. There is significant emotional risk involved as you may get rejected. If you are prepared with facts and prepared for either outcome, this difficult event can be just that much easier.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

How Do I Approach My Manager with a Concern?

Often I am asked, "How do I approach my manager with a concern?" In most cases, the concern itself isn't as important as the approach and discussion.

As mentioned in the preceding post, "Manager Q and A," clear and honest communication is the answer.

Let's take an example I encountered recently. A friend mentioned that she had been informed that her direct report would report to a different boss, though my friend would act as direct's lead. My friend had been hired as a manager and was concerned this change of responsibility was a demotion.

My advice was to ask her boss to clearly explain the situation, commenting specifically on whether corporate conditions were behind this change or whether this was performance related. I also advised my friend, that if this was an issue of corporate conditions, to be willing to accept the change, though have her management commit to a review in a defined period of time. Further, I informed her to follow up the meeting with an email outlining the discussion as well as the commitment for the review.

Often times, business conditions and decisions beyond our own sphere of activity impact our work. We can either accept these temporary conditions or we can seek new opportunities in or out of the company. The decision to move should not be taken lightly, though it may offer an opportunity for much needed change.

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