April 21, 2014

Delegating by capacity

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Delegating is supposed to be about understanding the work flowing through your organization and then assigning that work based on skill sets and availability of the resources within your control. What I’ve experienced in far too many situations, however, is where delegating work takes place via a mechanism of “I am going to horde as much work for myself as I can and when I simply can’t do it all any more, I’ll leak out small bits of tasking for you to take care of.”
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Things I hate: “Too Busy to be Bored”

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TweetI hate when people say, “i am too busy to be bored.”  Just because I have something to do doesn’t mean that it is the cure for boredom.  In fact, many of the things I have to do are the cause of boredom, much less the antidote. What is even worse is when someone with [...]

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Leadership, Culture and the Situation of Marissa Mayer

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Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, sent a shock wave across the internet and the blogosphere last weekend when she announced that Yahoo’s policy of allowing people to work remotely would be ended, and that remote-working employees would need to begin reporting to the office by June 2013.

The debate has raged over the wisdom of the move, with a heaping ton of criticism coming from culture-change advocates who point to research indicating that remote work programs are beneficial, while the other side of the coin points to lost engagement and productivity.

Mayer is attempting to benchmark against other organizations and believes that worked over there will also work at Yahoo. That’s a bit short-sighted, however, it’s also the exact same dynamic being offered by her critics – finding the best case example of a situation just like your preferred alternative, and then using that as evidence that the alternative is the right one. [Read more]

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From The Onion: Intern disrespects self

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A great post on the Onion depicts the plight of interns at Fischer Marketing. According to the article, “Supervisor Encourages Interns To Take On More Responsibilities Of 3 Full-Time Staff Members” the interns were told that the best way for them to get the most out of their internship was to take on as many duties as possible.

although no one will directly state that it’s mandatory, you definitely get the sense that any poor intern who decides not to take on tons more work, with no monetary compensation to begin with, simply isn’t working hard enough to get the most out of the internship.

Of course, the article is a bit of a farce – this is The Onion after all. Nonetheless, there were some all-too-real takeaways that came to my mind. [Read more]

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So what if it’s important?

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I wish I had a nickel for every time some new initiative was rolled out, sometimes with mandatory attendance at grandiose presentations proclaiming the utter importance of the initiative to the future survival of the company. If I did have a nickel for every one of those, I’m certain to have a whole lot of nickels.

Unfortunately, asserting that the reason for change is important violates the Fat Smoker principle, as I like to call it, which was a term coined by David Maister. Essentially, it is the awareness that although we know what the problem is, we rarely address it, no because we don’t know what the right thing to do is, but because in order to get to something good we must first go through something difficult. [Read more]

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In the age of engagement, you can’t thwart ambition

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There are more articles, books and posting out there on engagement, creating engagement, the benefits of creating engagement, and so on than I can count. So, of course, I’m going to write a post about engagement (Once in a while, I do like to suppress my contrarian urges and go along with the crowd). Instead of yet another voice telling you how to generate engagement, however, here’s a tale of how to make sure it gets utterly destroyed. [Read more]

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Beware the surge

Storm Surge by jedidogbert
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I have witnessed or been a part of multiple process improvement efforts – whether they are small in nature and affect only a few people, or large, transformational endeavors designed to reshape the culture of an organization, if not its entire business model. Some of them succeed, some of them fail, all of them go through a period of a quick, immediate up-tick in performance that looks and feels like success. A while later, however, there is a let-down.

I suspect, however, that the problem when it comes to facilitating adoption isn’t so much one of driving people to the intended outcome, but in allowing people to change the outcome. [Read more]

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So long, Ray Lewis, and a tale of two retirements

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If any of you watched the Ravens – Colts football game this past weekend, you were treated to the final home game played by one of the NFL’s all-time greats. Ray Lewis, an iconic figure for over a decade in the NFL, has announced he will retire at the end of this season.

I knew someone who, after spending over 30 years with a company, decided to retire. After a long but unspectacular career, it was time to leave the rat race as just about every single one of us who is not a legendary NFL icon will do. Unfortunately, also unlike those legendary NFL icons, leaving the job with an iota of respect wasn’t in the cards. [Read more]

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Follow up: Why Lunch & Learn is not for everyone

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Last time out, my post on why I dislike the practice of Lunch & Learns drew quite a few visitors to the site, and a small handful of comments on reddit.

One comment, in particular, stuck out in my mind. Reddit user: “CivilDiscussions” wrote:

You sound like quite the slacker. In the real world, we have lunch meetings all the time. Lunch isn’t guaranteed to be “your time”

Now THAT is a fascinating take [Read more]

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Well, OF COURSE no one trusts management…..

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In a conversation with a seasoned manager who asked me why I believed morale was so poor in his organization, I stated that the thing most often heard wafting through the cubicles was that people simply don’t trust the management here. “Well, that’s universal.” he stated, and quickly dismissed the concerns people were uttering as just usual, typical, workplace angst.

Upon reflection, however, I realized that this problem was born from different perspectives on management’s role among the age groups in the organization.
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