Posts on Managing People from Around the Web

My thoughts on managing people are based on Dr. Deming’s thoughts on management. The over-simplified explanation is that people want to do good work. Performance problems should be looked at first, second, third, fourth and fifth as problems with the system not the individual.

photo of yellow leaves

I believe organizations should practice continual improvement with the participation of everyone. Decisions should be based on evidence not the opinion of the highest paid person in the room (or even worse – “policy”). Coaching is good. Performance appraisals are bad.

Poor performing processes need to be improved by the people working on those processes. Those people need to be provided the tools (knowledge, time, support) to improve.

People don’t need to be motivated and empowered they need to be given the the opportunity to do what they want to do naturally: a good job. Managers need to help people by eliminating the de-motivation that so many organizations seem designed to create for people at work.

Management and human resource staff need to do a much better job of providing people opportunities to do a good job and take pride in their work. Far too many people are forced to suffer through poorly managed systems when trying to do their jobs. By improving the work environment, organizations can improve their results (customer satisfaction, profit, productivity…) and employee satisfaction.

Developing Staff, Managing People, Coaching

  • Managing The Good, The Bad and The Ugly with Your Employees by Jim Keenan – “I believe coaching people is a process. I don’t believe coaching people or managing people can be done reactively… To develop the strengths or mitigate the weaknesses of your employees, get them on the table early and keep them on the table.”
  • The Eight Steps to Driving Successful Large Scale Change by John P. Kotter – “The obstacles take many, many forms: bosses who haven’t bought in; IT systems not capable of supporting the strategies; lack of the skills needed to make the vision a reality; a lack of training to develop these missing skills. The guiding coalition finds ways to eliminate these obstacles, empowering people to do what they want and what the change effort requires.” from his new book Buy-In: Saving Your good idea from getting shot down.
  • Do more experiments faster by Tom Peters – “The best performers, I said, seesawed back and forth between ‘ideas’ and ‘actions.’ That is, they had a ‘big idea.’ (Or a small one, for that matter.) Rather than think it to death, they immediately got the hell into the field and experimented with some element of it (a prototype). They watched what happened, adjusted, and then quickly ran another experiment.” [use this idea in your coaching – (experiment and adjust) and also as a guide to those you are coaching – John Hunter. by the way I completely agree with doing more experiments faster. I completely disagree with the idea systems thinking somehow precludes that.]
  • A Secret No One Tells New Managers by Wally Bock – “Controlled confrontation is a key part of being a boss… Your objective is for your team member to leave your meeting thinking about what will change and not how you treated them.”

Good Policies for Managing People

  • Start at the Wall by Paul Hebert – “How many of the processes actually decrease effectiveness and are really barriers enacted years ago for issues that no longer are issues? What ‘behavioral’ issues could be solved by changing the environment the person is in?”
  • Standardization the prerequisite for any meaningful improvement by Steven Spear – “Without defining what you expect to do and what you expect to happen, you cannot meaningfully determine if what is happening is a bona fide problem or merely the result of work done out of control.”
  • Social Learning = Organically Sloppy. How business really gets done by Kevin Grossman – “Social learning welcomes impromptu scenario-based training and development opportunities. Organically sloppy, the way we really learn to transform ourselves and the business.”

  • What Happens When You Really Meet People’s Needs by Tony Schwartz – “Thousands of companies talk about the importance of customer service. Very few are committed to treating employees with the same level of care. The Ritz Carlton management is”
  • Two ways to make your HR metrics rock by Ben Eubanks – “Stop collecting data on fuzzy stuff. Instead, consider average cost/time to hire, aggregate turnover costs, or something else that’s easy to grasp and understand its impact on the overall financial standing of the organization”
  • Failure to Plan is a Plan for Failure by Orrin Woodward – “Deming smiled while slowly placing another slide on the projector and stated, ‘We run test to make predictions.’ He went on to explain how the test determines whether our predictions were accurate or if we need a better model to improve our ability to correctly predict real world results.”

Tips for Improving Your Performance

(can also be applied to coaching others)

  • Great Leaders Don’t Multi-Task by Jennifer Miller – “don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re ‘getting stuff done’ because you can do three things at once. Instead, ask yourself: ‘Is this task worthy of my full attention?’ If the answer is ‘Yes’, then put down the smart phone, close your day planner binder and focus”
  • The ROI of Blogging by Jason Seiden – “I’ve made money. I’ve received requests to speak, coach, and train in organizations as a direct result of things I’ve put up on my blog. I’ve also sold a book or two… I’ve saved money. Whether the blog created an initial contact, or was used later in the sale cycle, I can promise you, I’ve saved a bundle on marketing costs”
  • How to take intelligent risks by Penelope Trunk – “If you ask people at the end of their lives what their biggest regret is, it’s common for the regret to center around not taking more risks.”
  • When strengths attack by Pamela Slim – “In order for your strengths to flourish, you have to design an ideal environment. In my own case, I have to build in enough design and planning time when creating presentations so that I have a few days to rest and assimilate the core message. When this happens, my ability to improvise really shines”
  • How to Identify Your Disruptive Skills by Whitney Johnson – “Do you have a confluence of skills? As you begin to inventory and mine for your unique abilities, you may discover that your disruptive skill may not be one skill, but an unusual intersection of ordinary proficiencies.”
  • Eager to Stay and Ready to Go by Dan McCarthy – “Build marketable skills. Every job and every project is an opportunity to learn. A good rule of thumb would be for 20% of your job to be new and different each year. Work with your manager to develop an individual development plan (IDP) that provides you opportunities to stretch and grow.”

Advice and Thoughts

  • 8 ways to get what you want from your boss by Alison Green – “3. Build a business case for it… 4. Preemptively point out the downsides and offer solutions.”
  • 2 Emerging Themes in the Changing Workplace by Trish McFarlane – “By focusing work on projects, offering options on the time and place work can be done, and specifying principles, you’ll be treating employees like adults and fostering collaborative relationships.”
  • Costco’s Socially Responsible Employment Policies by Mary Sue Schmaltz – “CEO James Sinegal of Costco disagrees, believing that Wall Street’s short term mentality says nothing about building long term organizational capacity. Sinegal believes that paying workers well is just good business.”
  • Innovate, Market Well or Be Ignored… by Kris Dunn – “Vendors with mindshare through superior innovation: Jobvite – Your referral program just got hooked on crack. Jobvite’s that good related to making everyone in your company a recruiter via the social tools you love. Go check them out if you haven’t. Elegant solution…”
  • Healthcare Organizations Lead the Innovation Charge by Alexandra Levit – “Mayo placed doctors on salary, which allowed them to focus on health outcomes rather than volumes of health-related transactions, and gave them the space for creativity, education, and research. This decision was not an easy one to make, and the internal conflict nearly destroyed the organization, but in the end it was paramount in creating one of the world’s greatest medical centers.”

Related: Carnival of Human Resources, Oct 2010Curious Cat Management Improvement CarnivalCurious Cat Economics and Investing Carnival

Metrics are good, and also dangerous.

Photo by John Hunter in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia. My travel photo blog includes more pictures.

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One Response to Posts on Managing People from Around the Web

  1. Guy Farmer says:

    Thanks for sharing these valuable resources John. Imagine what a workplace would look like if managers practiced the skills and ideas talked about by these experts. I’m struck at how many of these ideas are about managers taking a look at their own behaviors and making adjustments, not to change who they are, but to manage more effectively.

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