Posts Tagged 'leadership'

What Does Management Do?

I have a friend who rants about every manager she has ever worked for. None of them seem to know anything useful, do anything productive during the day, understand her needs or help her get her job done. More often than not, these managers slow her down, make stupid decisions (in her mind), ignore all her suggestions, and worst of all, they cling to their power with some special control over their immediate supervisor. She is stuck with a manager she loathes, and she detests being near them. How fruitful will that relationship be over the long term? Why does upper management keep managers who are openly revolted against? What keeps these managers in control?

In this series of articles, I will delve into the obscured life of a manager and review some of the widely held viewpoints of employees that I have talked to over the past few years.

Here is a list of complaints I hear about managers:
– my manager is useless
– my manager knows nothing about what I do
– I loathe my manager
– I have a recent college graduate trying to tell me what to do
– I do not trust my manager to watch my back
– My manager is at a retreat learning something – what about me?
– They never listen to anything I say! So now I say nothing
– I don’t want to be like them when I grow up
-He/She is a slave driver who does not pull his or her own weight

What does your manager do? Are they helping you get ahead? Do they listen?
Are they concerned for your well-being? Do they have your back in times of trouble?

What does your manager do all day? What are all the meetings they attend?
Why is their door closed most of the time? What secrets are they trying to keep from me?

If you are doing everything to make money for the company, what do we need the manager for? How does your manager contribute to your production? Who gets all the credit for your production, you or them?

Why are managers not liked or trusted by some employees/contractors?
What are these managers/executives doing or not doing for their underlings?

Does your manager have your back? Do they go to bat for you and support your decisions with upper management and clients? Do they believe you are competent enough to be given work on your own?

Being a manager is not all fun and games; it is not a free ride – far from it. Management is usually more work (not less), more issues to deal with (not fewer), more time spent keeping the ship going in the right direction…while looking out for icebergs or other surprises.

From David Egan

Image from user hisks at rgbstock.com

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A Gathering is not Productive

After what I considered a very successful project, the planned Lessons Learned meeting made me sit down and collect my thoughts. What did I want to share? What did I want to pass on to the organization that would make people think, ‘Ah-ha! Excellent idea!’?

That is what I was after. I did not want to dwell much on the negative aspects of the project, as I felt there were really very few. I wanted to remember those ‘genius’ moments where issues were quickly solved, dilemmas were smoothed over and hiccups were ironed out.

I assumed there would be others who felt the same, who wanted to add something to the body of knowledge related to these types of projects within the organization. What a dreamer I was!

Our gathering of minds, for what was supposed to be a project closure and lessons learned, went like this: hand in any artifacts, and now let’s celebrate…and that was about it. Our fearless leader did voice accolades for various people and groups, but the meeting fell well short of my expectations, which consisted of a deep, introspective analysis of the good, bad and ugly.

I was sorely disappointed. I am still mulling the lack of event over.

I realized Lessons Learned meetings may be something that drives me but few others, and I have to respect the personas of the rest of the team. I ended up sending in a revised document on all that I wanted to be archived, but I did not feel the release that I had expected.

The reason I do retrospectives is to ensure everyone has spoken out about their concerns, human resource issues and accolades for any and all parties. I want people to get ‘it’–whatever it is–off their chests. This is a surprisingly good way to release stress. Let your staff talk about the project, the bad first and then the good.

My team is happy, but my sponsor missed that golden opportunity to shine as a leader who has the vision to see the long term benefits.

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Don’t Miss This Leadership Opportunity

Committing to doing a proper ‘Lessons Learned’ followup for every project is important.

The time for Lessons Learned is as close after the lesson is discovered as possible. In many cases, this review is when any important phase or aspect of the project is completed. Reviewing and updating the Lessons Learned should be ongoing and is especially beneficial at the end of the project to ensure a clear account is maintained while it is fresh in everyone’s mind.


As the leader of this endeavor, you should plan a get together of key stakeholders and your team to review the ‘good, bad, and ugly’ items at every phase of the project – and after completion, too. It doesn’t matter whether the items were successful or dismal failures; allowing everyone to bare their souls and tell it like they saw it can alleviate the burdens heaped on their lives during the crux of the deadlines.

During the meeting, everyone should be able to voice their opinions about any and all topics. Everyone needs to be comfortable with what they are saying, who they are saying it to, and when they are saying it (which is, hopefully, not too late).

Anonymous surveys are one way to ensure everyone has the opportunity. Whether they respond or not is usually directly related to the perceived value or benefit. See if you can make doing the survey worth their while. Offer something tangible as the benefit, something that you would want if you were to do a survey for someone else or another department.

There is obvious benefit to the corporation from these Lessons Learned, but what about the benefit to your participants? What can they take away from this event? How about a clear conscience? How about a feeling of being heard? How about a message that they are important, are being listened to, and even more importantly, that their requests are being acted on.

This is a leadership event. You get to listen to your team as well as the clients, sponsors, and stakeholders. This is a great opportunity for building rapport and firing-up the team. Find out what each individual thought about the project to this point and what suggestions they can make for improvements, as well as ask them whether they witnessed any MVPs, specific accolades, and/or any outstanding efforts.

Another approach to consider is getting praise from the outside world and sharing it with your team. It will be beneficial for you and them.

Do not put a Lessons Learned opportunity off until it is too late! You will be surprised at how much of a relief your team will feel with being given a forum to voice their concerns as well as heap their praise on others.

Image from Microsoft Clip Art

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Do You (or Your Manager) Promote Talent Development?

Are you looking-out for the bright stars in your staff? These are the ones who always get things done, always work to the deadlines or ahead of the deadlines, and/or always seem happy and willing to work with just about any client or other staff member. Or, are you just loading them down with more work, because they will get the work done…and you know it?
Get on the bandwagon of promoting and fostering staff talent!

Whether you are general staff or first line management, you need an incentive once in a while. Just a little something from management that shows the manager knows you are working hard.

As a manager, are you adding incentive to their job with extra or advanced training sessions, the option to select a juicy new project or task, work the easy overtime for future days off, or get first crack at new equipment?

Is this not how you would want to be treated by your boss? Show your staff you care. Find out what they are looking for down the road, what are they interested in, and how you can work with them to get there … even in this time of  tightening budgets.

There are ways to show you appreciate your best performers. And maybe, just maybe, you will be incenting some of your lesser performers when they see the perks!

From David Egan

Are You Keeping Your Remote Staff Involved?

*editor’s note: please welcome our first blog contributor, David, who will be posting articles every week.

Are You Keeping Your Remote Staff Involved? – from David

Are some of your staff members remote? Do you spend any time with them, getting to know them, sharing ideas and spreading your warmth with friendly praises and timely feedback?

How much do you know about your remote staff? Where do they actually live? Are there many time zones between you and them? Is there an easy way for you to get together and collaborate either online or by video conference?

Do you include them in brainstorming sessions (conferenced-in or via email), and do you value their input? How do you show your appreciation for their work and work ethics?

Are they remote because they are lone wolves who work at their own pace or walk to a different drummer, or are they vultures that only show up when the dirty work is done?

Do you only send them impersonal emails? Do you ever want to talk to them or maybe video them in a meeting?

When was the last time you gave feedback or praise?

Your staff members need to know they are appreciated, they are vital to the company and you value their input. And if these are note true, in these troubled economic times, they should be made aware of that, too.

Contractors who primarily work only for you can, and should, be treated like staff, with respect for their abilities, with recognition for their accomplishments dealing with your customers and with respect for their inputs.


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