Archive for June, 2010

Are Your Management Skills Up to Date?

Monday, June 28th, 2010

I’m not talking about knowing the latest ‘flavor’ of management or the buzzwords. “Retention” is the battle cry once again. Many organizations are now using engagement survey stats for managerial performance measures. Your management skills along with to your technical credibility keep you viewed as a valuable contributor, not just a place holder, by your peers and execs.

Here are 5 things that may give you a clue to your people-management success:
1) As your organizations upgrades its systems and processes, are you self-sufficient with your own technology? Can you create and print your own reports? Can you map drives to the printer from your laptop? Set up and run an effective teleconference? Do you use e-mail and IM productively? Can you create effective power point decks, graphs and other frequently used documents? Constantly asking for help can drive your staff nuts.

2) Do your meetings make good use of your staff’s time and talents? Do you share the information from your manager’s staff meeting that needs to trickle down? Does everyone know why they are in the meeting and what they are to contribute? Everyone should have a meaningful action item that moves your project along after each session. Hopefully you’ve shared a laugh and highlighted some successes (team building). Weekly meetings should be less than an hour, max.

3) Do you share your staff’s good work with your peers and manager, or take just credit for having “a good team?” If someone has been especially helpful or had a pivotal idea that has led to the project success, give them the credit. Don’t be worried about losing your talent. If you don’t share their talent, they’ll leave anyway. Some of the best corporate leaders are known for the talent they grow.

4. Are you proactively reducing or minimizing conflict? What are the issues that continually flare up? We often avoid issues, hoping they will evaporate. Lay a safe groundwork to resolve the issue, then get to the root to find common ground. Don’t jump to a solution until both parties have fully understood the other point of view. More productivity is lost through avoiding conflict, rather than effectively addressing it.

5. Does your staff punch your buttons? Personality style differences can be maddening, for both parties. Schedule time and get assistance so everyone understands individual preferences and expectations. Then help each other to communicate based on that knowledge. At minimum, give them a warning sign if you are in a bad mood.

These tips are based on a few of the items that keep bobbing to the surface in most engagement surveys. They cross all types of workplaces and generations. For each of these five areas there are specific skills you can develop to keep up to date with what your team needs from you.

What other management skills or Competencies for your organization have you seen that need to be updated?

Hidden Jobs = Buried Treasure

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

There are at least five reasons that many jobs are never posted on job boards or even on company websites. It isn’t that the company is trying to be sneaky, its just that ‘things happen.’
1. An unexpected letter of resignation
2. The maternity leave that becomes extended, permanently
3. The Trump card is played when someone seriously misbehaves with the resulting, “You’re Fired!”
4. The Slide – someone is in the performance discipline process, and the boss needs someone waiting in the wings to take over
5. The Landing of a big contract and the organization needs specialized skills and knowledge (yours)
And then there is the person who has the talent for identifying a problem to solve and having the skills to solve it. They literally create their own unique job with the organization.

Veteran career advisor, Jack Chapman, sums it up nicely in his e-zine article this month.

Staying visible and keeping your network active and growing is how people land these unadvertised jobs.

Managing Across Commonalities

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

“They weren’t necessarily as different as the media had been portraying.” Kristin Murray, HR director, Presbyterian Support New Zealand, is researching the generations for a PhD thesis entitled, Diversity Management. Her surveys, based on a card-sort methodology, turned up a striking degree of similarities across the generations.

For example Veterans (1922-1945), Baby Boomers (1946-1964), Gens X and Y all wanted roles that gave them quality of life, a supportive manager, job satisfaction and fulfillment. She said that as people moved through life, their generational personality impacted on how they approached each life stage and that the constructs that were in common with other cohorts might look different to different generations.
“Armed with this knowledge managers can better understand an employee and what motivates them to gain better levels of employee engagement. However, it should be remembered that like any type of diversity there are individual differences within each group (in this instance within the generational cohort) and any attempt to manage employees using this information should take this into account.”
Read the full story

I’m in the wrong job!!

Monday, June 14th, 2010

“It sounded like a good job…one that I could learn and do reasonably well. And it paid, well, good enough. Now a few years later, I hate it!”

Sound familiar? I’ve heard it a lot and there are several ways to tackle this one.

1. What is it about the job that you hate? Which tasks? Which people (personalities)? What aspects of “the system?” Is it the employer or the whole industry? Before you can create a cure, it helps to know the symptoms. What things do you not hate about the job? The more specific you can be, the easier it is to find a remedy.

2. Are you ready to make the leap and change careers? You don’t necessarily have to start all the way over. Take inventory of what you do well – especially those things that are just part of who you are and how you do things (transferable skills). Get a friend or two to help you with this. It is often hard to see these things accurately about ourselves.
Do you know what field or industry you want to work in? If so, what technical skills or areas of knowledge do you need to develop? The Dept of Labor’s Dictionary of Occupational Titles is a good place to start looking. Then, you must talk to people who are in the field to get a reality check.

3. If you want to change industries, then use your current skill set to get into an organization within the industry. All organizations have the same basic infrastructure. Use their tuition reimbursement program to go to school while you work and gain industry knowledge – a big plus when it comes down to candidates with the same degrees. Experience often trumps good grades.

4. Talk with others who have made career changes. You may not go the same route, but you could gain a new direction or resource.

The key is to create a plan for making the career change, then work your plan. Be open for opportunities that take you toward your career goals. Having the goals helps you avoid the opportunities that take you off course.

Feeling stuck?

Monday, June 14th, 2010

Feeling stuck in your job? The only kind of work you get is what you’ve always gotten. Your boss and colleagues have carved an image of you in their minds of what you do well and how they can depend on you. Some call this pigeon-holed.

You don’t necessarily have to change your employer to change your job. Most of us aren’t willing to make a voluntary leap into unemployment right now, but our sanity is driving us to the edge.

One way is to change the way others see you so that you can take on new challenges and learn new skills.
Take a step outside yourself: How do you respond to last minute changes or interruptions? Do you offer solutions or just complain? Are you helping others develop their skills and find solutions? People will avoid us if we aren’t someone that they enjoy being around.

Are you a top-notch performer with your current work? Mastering your current job is usually a prerequisite for doing anything else.

Are your technology skills up-to-date? Are you the go-to person for system or application issues? Can you get the maximum output from your system. Can you share your knowledge to help others be more productive?

Do you know what skills you want to use or develop? What you’d like to learn? If so, then seek out people who have those skills and ask them their guidance for learning them.

What do you know that you’d like to apply to solve a problem? Develop a sample, template or prototype. Describe what currently is costing time, effort, money and how your solution could reduce or eliminate those costs.

Look for a problem to solve. Propose a better way of doing something that will help make others’ work more productive. Volunteer to work on a project or task forces as a way to not only learn, but offer your perspective. Demonstrate your team-player skills.

Do you know how to connect with resources to be the person with the “answer,” especially in a crisis?

These are 7 ways to begin to peck your way out of your box.

Rethinking Retirement – Boomers and GenX

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

Where do you fit into the workforce? Today’s organizations are facing challenges like never before with our current demographics. Check out this article for some interesting thoughts for both managing staff as well as your own career.