Posted tagged ‘objectivity’

There’s no I in “me” either

August 11, 2011

I suspect many of you will join me in condemning two little phrases that I just can’t stand:

  1. There’s no “I” in “team”
  2. Win, Win

As an aside, I might point out that, ironically, there are two “I”s in Win-Win, but that’s off topic…  So let’s tackle the first one.

The gist of “there’s no I in team” is that high performing teams put the interests and goals of the team in front of their own personal goals and interests.  And I am sure there are many examples of this, even in the business world.

But one thing I am equally sure of is that just telling someone that there’s no I in team and considering that “mission accomplished” and expecting some radical behavior change is completely misguided.  Why?

image

Because in most work environments, there are a long collection of motivators that encourage many folks to behave as if they were just told there’s no “I” in Mississippi…  Some of my favorites, recently encountered, include:

  • ego
  • the need to be right
  • a distaste for acknowledging that a different approach that didn’t come from you might actually make more sense
  • your annual merit review, which rarely involves the rest of your team in a group session
  • fear of the unknown

I am sure many of you could add to the list (in fact, feel free to) but my point is really just that if you want to create and sustain a team that GENUINELY and CONSISTENTLY behaves with the team’s interests first and each person’s second, you need to recognize that there are powerful forces working against you and that significant and frequent reinforcement and recognition of team behaviors may become your top priority for the foreseeable future.

If not, I suspect you’ll wake up when it’s time to vote and find out that the “I’”s have it…

Advertisements

Virtue and Virtual

July 28, 2011

 

A long time ago, in a company far, far away, I was doing an employee’s annual review.   He was a pretty good worker.  Reasonably dedicated.  Got along with his co-workers.  Knew enough to do his job.

So I am in the midst of his review, and he “reminds” me that he’s in early every day.  And he was!  Our start time was 8 AM, and he was in by 7 almost every day.  Good for him!  Except…

  1. the employee parking lot tended to get crowded by around 7:45, so he liked to get in early and get the best spot available.
  2. After he got to his desk at 7 AM, he would go to the cafeteria, get coffee and a muffin, and read the local paper at his desk til a little before 8.

How do I know this?  Because every once in a while I needed to be in early as well, and I would walk past his cubicle and see him reading the paper and drinking coffee.  I had no problem with this whatsoever; it was his time to do with as he saw fit.  As long as he started work by 8, no problem.

Until he brought it up in his review as if it should somehow positively influence his scores and/or merit increase.

image

My point is that a lot of managers these days are sweating their virtual (and perhaps not virtuous!) workers.  What are my workers doing?  Are they really putting in a full day?  How can I make sure they aren’t taking advantage of this rather honor system-based approach to getting work done?? 

Well you know what?  Not much has changed.  If someone is dedicated to their work and feels a certain responsibility to give a fair day’s effort for a fair day’s pay, they will do it at their desk, at home, or in Cancun.  (OK, maybe not Cancun…)   And the opposite is equally true.

I am pretty confident this is the case.  Because I go on a golf trip every year with several folks who own their own companies.   And they work quite a bit while they are “on vacation.”  Because they feel accountable for their customers, their revenue, and the reputation and responsiveness of the business.

So before you overreact to “where” your team is, why not spend some time contemplating “who” your team is…??

Gettin’ busy

July 15, 2011

Maybe it’s always been this way, but it seems like lately every time I ask someone how they are doing, they say, “good, busy…”  It appears that, perhaps without even being aware of it, we have all succumbed to the “busyness” bug.   You think you’re busy?  Look at me!  I’m three times as busy!!  I am late for all the meetings I am supposed to be at, and at least twice a week I tell people how I can’t make it to their meeting because I am already triple booked.   And if you are lucky enough to get me to attend your meeting, I will have my iPhone in my hands the whole time, checking email, texting other meeting attendees, and generally squeezing a few more messages into my already “busy” day.  And if you hadn’t noticed, if I am busier than you, I am also more important than you…  The busier, the better…

Admit it.  If you asked a colleague how it “was going?” and they said, “pretty good, not much happening, only have one meeting this week, kinda looking for a new project, you know, something to sink my teeth into, I have quite a bit of spare time right now…” you’d be aghast!  What?  You’re not crazy busy??  You must be, wait for it…  expendable.

But this approach does not end well.   I think I can safely introduce this sketch from the old I Love Lucy show to a new generation who may not have ever seen it. 

To continue to accumulate more and more work (or just say you have it) does not improve the quality of what you do, your ability to be attentive, or your stress level.  And I think that’s part of why unemployment is still at close to 10%.  If I hire someone to help with our workload, we might not be as busy.  That’s bad, right???  Or is it?

Dante was right

June 13, 2011

Here’s a challenge that quite a few of my clients are facing these days.  How do you foster collaboration, social networking, and other employee “bonding” platforms while not letting the “inmates run the asylum” at the same time??

The short answer is that you take governance seriously.

That’s where Dante comes in.  Dante, as many of you astute students of medieval literature well know, was a 14th century poet who wrote The Divine Comedy.    In the Inferno cantica, Dante describes the nine levels of hell.  Those being:

I think Dante’s model has some relevance even today.  So here are my six circles of Collaboration Governance Hell:

1.  I have no Governance plan.
2.  I wrote one but “forgot” to share with users, stakeholders and sponsors.
3.  I wrote one and shared it with stakeholders and users but did not get anyone’s explicit approval.
4.  I wrote one after our intranet was up and running for 2 years because things were “starting” to get out of control.
5.  I downloaded Joel Olsen’s white paper / governance plan and did a mass find/replace with my company’s name.
6.  I wrote one but it’s just a list of all the things that I don’t think users and site admins should be allowed to do.

If you’re hanging out in one of these circles, don’t despair.  Just double your resolve to get out by:

– leveraging good governance content that is already available on the internet

– customizing it to reflect what really matters in your world and culture

– assuring it gets reviewed and approved by ALL your stakeholders

– developing a way to gently enforce it without emulating the Third Reich…

If you can follow all these steps, someday you may actually find yourself in Purgatorio…  OK, so that’s not Paradiso, but it’s a start!

Common Cents

April 22, 2011

Two years ago, I consolidated all my 401k and retirement accounts into a single account so I could watch it not grow more easily.  That included transferring the money I had in a Charles Schwab account.   The following month, I got a statement from Schwab that said the balance in the account was one cent.  That’s right.  $00.01.  I can only assume that some instantaneous computer-driven interest-calculating program granted me a “dividend” at the very moment I took out all my money.  So I did what most self-respecting, lazy procrastinators would do – I ignored the statement and threw it out.

I have continued to receive statements every month showing my balance of one cent.  To be honest, after 24 months, you’d think it would have grown to two cents, but such is the state of our economy I suppose.

But wait…

Last week, I got a letter from Schwab informing me that the State of Michigan requires them to send me paperwork that I have to fill out and return, indicating that I wish to keep the account open.  If I do not respond by May 11, they will turn over the “assets” of the account to the “unclaimed property department of the State of Michigan.”  As hard as any of this is to fathom, I am not making it up.

As much as I wanted to do nothing (see self-characterization in paragraph 1) guilt got the better of me and I called Schwab, asked the nice person who answered to close the account, and I also let them keep the penny…

image

So here’s the thing.  Between all the people and computers in the state of Michigan AND at Charles Schwab, don’t you think someone would have recognized the ridiculousness of the situation and put a stop to it, if for no other reason than doing some simple arithmetic around spending 40 cents every month to send me a letter to tell me I still had a penny in an account I had liquidated?  But no one did.  And here’s why…

Because it’s not their money.

As a leader in a small, mid-sized, or God forbid large organization, are you still capable of thinking about expenditures as if it were your money?  Do the teams you lead think that way?

If you don’t or they don’t, maybe you should Talk to Chuck…

Newton was right

March 3, 2011

Newton’s Laws of Motion were a brilliant advance in the world of physics in the 17th century.  Groundbreaking stuff.  And who knew how broadly applicable they could be!

My favorite is Newton’s third law.  To summarize:  for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.  How true, how true!!   He actually said it more elegantly than that but that’s the gist of how we non-physicists think of it these days.

image

I was talking to a friend of mine this week.  Since I am not directly involved in sales these days, I didn’t realize Monday was “end of month.”  He, on the other hand, did.  He told me he had been getting calls from his sales manager for the past week or so, asking him if he could close one of the bigger deals in his “pipeline” before month-end.  From my buddy’s perspective, his manager was essentially pestering him.  He finally said to me, “I am not going to make my quota for this month anyway, so even if I could close the deal today, I won’t.”

I am sure there are many viewpoints out there on who’s right and who’s wrong in this little instructional tale.  Pile on!!!

But I don’t really think that’s the point.

The sales manager, for reasons that mattered only to him, decided to “push.”  And then, when he didn’t get what he wanted, he decided to push some more.  And I imagine he might actually be surprised to know that his salesman decided to “push back” even if it was done passively.  Did he really think that calling five times a day was going to help close the deal, motivate his salesman, or meet his monthly quota??

The moral of the story:  Even in sales, don’t mess with the Principia…

Drinking lots of carrot juice and soaking up rays…

November 4, 2010

 

After listening to a bunch of concession and acceptance speeches yesterday, I’ll be brief…

I used to hear a phrase fairly often, said with sincerity and a relatively clear definition.  That phrase is “healthy debate.”  But between the recent and quite frankly embarrassing/shameful ad campaigns that virtually every candidate for election ran, and a few meetings I have attended in the last 6-12 months, I feel like that phrase is ready for the shelf right next to my VCR and cassette player.

I am not sure why that is.  Have we all lost our willingness or ability to listen with an open mind?  Do we all feel like we need to be “battle ready” before every meeting, with our strategy, tactics and desired outcomes neatly laid out before the first sip of coffee?  In the past year, how many times have you walked out of a meeting where you were supposed to discuss an issue, and left feeling more frustrated and “unheard” than when you walked in?  With your blood pressure up a few notches, and your enthusiasm to “collaborate” with your peers and yes, even your “boss" down a few pegs?

If your answer is “more than 3” that’s not healthy…