Achieving the proper balance in management of people resources

Micromanagement

Let me say it right up front…. I am NOT a fan of micromanagement of people. I have never known an individual that performed at their very best when consistently micromanaged.  Let’s define micromanagement as “an ongoing, overbearing management style that eliminates or severely limits an individual’s freedom to operate, contribute, participate, or function despite their level of competence or motivation.”  Micromanagement is very rarely warranted, though a case can be made for that very rare case.

What happens when one is micromanaged? It doesn’t take long for a micromanaged individual to simply stop participating in most activities.  Certainly, that individual may continue to contribute, but at a level much lower that for which he/she is capable.  A micromanaged individual will rarely go above and beyond to achieve, will be less motivated, and, ultimately, will likely leave prematurely.   Yet, there are times when enhanced management oversight might be needed.  How do you know when to exert more control?

The illustration above may help to provide guidance. If an employee is highly motivated and highly competent (see box 4), a manager needs to essentially stay out of the way.  This individual does NOT need manager oversight frequently to perform at a high level.  If you micromanage this individual, you will create frustration and lower performance for that person.  A highly motivated individual that lacks full competence (box 3) may simply need additional time or training to attain that highest level of performance.  A highly competent individual with low motivation (box 2) may either need less manager oversight (less micromanagement) or a new view, new assignment, or new challenges.  The individual low in both motivation and competence (box 1) may need more guidance to achieve high competence.  This individual may lack motivation simply because he/she has low confidence in their abilities.

So, there are times when additional oversight (not micromanagement) may be warranted. However, it cannot be abused.  There may also be a need to over-manage some projects for project managers.  These often require very detail activity assignments and frequent follow-up to ensure they stay on track.  However, I would argue that even in this case, our approach should be to over-manage, not micromanage.  Micromanagement always creates resentment and lower, long-term performance.

The illustration may also be helpful to individuals. Which box do you find yourself in today?  If you are high in box 4, it is time to pursue additional challenges either in your current position or a new one.  Likewise, you may need to speak with your manager about actions needed to shift your motivation or competence toward box 4.  A frank discussion regarding where your manager would place you might stimulate a productive discussion about next steps for you.

Thanks for all you do. Take a look at this illustration to help guide the next career discussion you have with your manager.  Have a great and productive day!

Why do you think I’m here?

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I recently read a touching memorial to Blake Krikorian, an entrepreneur, inventor, and just all-around great guy, according to his friends. The memorial told the story of Krikorian attending his first board meeting of an organization he had recently been asked to join.  Another of the board members told Krikorian that he should probably just remain silent for the first meeting.  But, a few minutes Krikorian had to speak up to correct some misinformation being presented.  Afterward, the other board member asked him why he had not heeded his advice to remain quiet, to which Krikorian stated, “Why do you think I’m here?”  In essence, don’t invite me to participate, then ask me to keep quiet.

What a great lesson for us! We all attend too many meetings.  Some may include 10 or 20 people.  But, it seems to me that in most of these meetings, whether at work or volunteer organizations or neighborhood groups, only about 3 or 4 people actually speak and participate actively.  The rest are not truly participating, though they may just be obtaining information.  That’s where Krikorian’s comment comes in.  If you are not going to participate, why are you even there?  And, if you are calling a meeting, why invite individuals you know will add no value?

We should attempt to add value in any situation or circumstance we find ourselves in. That includes everything!  If we can’t add value to the event, we should at least add value to others in attendance.  Asking yourself the Krikorian’s question routinely as we go through our days can significantly alter our view of our purpose.  So, think about it…  Try just for today, asking yourself, “Why do you think I’m here?” as you go through the events of your day.  See if this simple question changes what you do, what you say, and how you interact with others.

Have a wonderful, value-added day!

A time to keep silence, and a time to speak

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Today, we look at the next in our series based on the 1965 song by The Byrds called Turn! Turn! Turn! .  You will recall that we looked at “a time to weep and a time to laugh” the last time.  Today, we look at the theme:

“A time to keep silence, and a time to speak”

Abraham Lincoln once said, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”  Oh, how true!  There is a time so speak up, such as when you have something to contribute or when no one else is willing to state the obvious.  There are times when silence is our enemy.  However, we all see individuals at times speaking without considering the value or truth of what they say or without allowing others to provide their input.  I think we all also know some individuals of which it has been said, “When he/she speaks, you need to listen because he/she doesn’t usually say something unless it is really important.”

The best way today to express this concept may be to simply read the wisdom that has been expressed by others on this subject:

  • “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – Martin Luther King, Jr. 
  • “Be slow to speak, and only after having first listened quietly, so that you may understand the meaning, leanings, and wishes of those who do speak. Thus you will better know when to speak and when to be silent.” – Saint Ignatius 
  • “The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing… not healing, not curing… that is a friend who cares.” – Henri Nouwen 
  • “The world would be happier if men had the same capacity to be silent that they have to speak.” – Baruch Spinoza 
  • “Wise men, when in doubt whether to speak or to keep quiet, give themselves the benefit of the doubt, and remain silent.” – Napoleon Hill 
  • “We need a reason to speak but none to keep silent.” – Pierre Nicole 
  • “Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napoleon Hill 
  • “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” – Winston Churchill 
  • “The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” – Hans Hofmann 
  • “Speak when you are angry – and you’ll make the best speech you’ll ever regret.” – Laurence J. Peter
  • “Let your tongue speak what your heart thinks” – . Davy Crockett 

Think about how you manage your own “time to speak and time to remain silent.” Do you really listen to others when they speak?  Would others consider you one that “speaks only when there is something really important to say?”  Are you ever silent when you should be speaking up?  Finding that perfect balance is a challenge.

Have an excellent “top ten” day!

The importance of self-awareness

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My son’s football coach used to say to the team after a particularly bad game or bad practice, “If I could buy you guys for what you think you are worth and sell you for what you’re really worth, I’d be a multi-millionaire!” Pretty harsh, yes, but it speaks to our self-awareness.  Self-awareness can be defined as “having an objective understanding of your own strengths, weaknesses, abilities, opportunities, behaviors, and the impressions these in total make on others.”  In other words, self-awareness is seeing a true picture of how others see you.  We might tend to view ourselves more favorably than is the actual case which could lead to over-confidence.  Or, we may view ourselves less favorably than is the actual case which could lead to feelings of inadequacy.  Going too far in either direction is not good and impacts our relationships in life and performance on the job.

If you have ever conducted a 360-assessment you can relate to this. A 360-assessment is a questionnaire that you and several of your coworkers, teammates, etc. complete, usually anonymously.  The questions speak to how you perform, interact, how you behave in certain situations, etc.  In essence, you get true feedback on who you are and what you do from those that know you well.  The results can be eye-opening.  You can clearly see from this analysis gaps in your own views and those that you work with.  It helps you become aware of things you would never have realized without doing the assessment.  Then, you can use the results to modify how you behave and how you interact with others.  It is a great self-awareness tool.

We often tend to underrate our own abilities and capabilities, as well. We limit ourselves.  We shy away from some challenges because we lack confidence in our abilities.  I once was “down-sized” from a company.  During the interim period, I took advantage of the outplacement service the company provided.  One of the counselors there asked me how many resumes I was sending out each week.  I responded that I typically send 3-4 each week.  He said, “When you are looking for a job, you need to send out 20 resumes each week.”  I responded that there were not that many jobs available for my skill-set.  He stated, “That is exactly my point!  By forcing yourself to send 20 per week, it requires that you look at both yourself and job opportunities differently.  It forces you outside your own box and makes you consider what other skills and abilities you have.”  That was great advice!  It made me look at my abilities to manage projects, organize activities, etc. that eventually led to my next position.

Have you taken the opportunity to look objectively at yourself to see what other see? Do you have a mentor or friends or coworkers that can tell you objectively how you are perceived?  Who can help you identify gaps between what you think you do versus what you really do?  This is important and could potentially be the difference in your future.

Have a fantastic day!

What are you going to do with the time you have left?

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I recently saw an excerpt from a T.D. Jakes message so “timely” that I thought it needed to be shared. Jakes is an American pastor, author, and filmmaker and leads a church with over 30,000 members.  I think you will find these few sentences impactful:

“What are you going to do with the time you have left? I say, that if you don’t reposition yourself, then you might miss the best time in your life.  If you don’t know what time it is, time will get away from you and you won’t know where it went.  The worst thing that could happen is that money won’t get away from you… people won’t get away from you… but, time will get away from you.  Where did it go?  I am my parents age.  My mother was up talking with her sisters several years ago and they were sitting up drinking some coffee and one said, ‘Girl, where are all the old people?  Where is Miss Susie and Miss Helen and Miss Reggie Mae?  Where are all the old people?’  And, I was just sitting there thinking, y’all are the old people now.  And before I could get through thinking it, they were gone.  And my hair was white.  And my Afro was gone.  What are you going to do with the time you have left?”  – TD Jakes

I have become significantly more aware of how short our time is as I have gotten older. Goodness, it seems I just started my career back in 1978 and I blink and it is over.  Just yesterday, I was taking my three children house-to-house on Halloween and I turn around… and they are grown, gone, and have children of their own.  Time moves in a flash.  To me, the most impactful comment above from Jakes is, “And before I could get through thinking it, they were gone.”  There are so many people from my past that I would love to spend just one more hour with.

We all need to realize that work is important. We need to give 110% of our effort in our work because what we do is important and others depend upon us.  However, don’t think even for a second that work is more important than your time with others.  Your ultimate legacy is not in the work you did.  Honestly, who will remember the work you did last month to have a “terrific FDA inspection” or “to make that customer happy” or “to complete that project on time.”  Sure, these are important in our day-to-day work life.  But, will anyone remember them a year from now?

On the other hand, I think my grandchildren will remember the day last week that I came home from work and jumped into their kiddie pool with my clothes on (yes, my phones, keys, and billfold were out of my pockets). Your spouse will remember the letter you wrote just for her/him talking about how much she/he means to you.  Your elderly neighbor will remember that you made their day when you shoveled the snow from their driveway.  Your friend will remember that you set aside valuable time just for them – even though it meant extra work and extra hours in the office for them.  Or, he will remember the time you did for him what he couldn’t do for himself.  Your sister will remember how you watched her kids while she had a date night with her husband at a time when they needed a night alone.  Your Dad will remember the time you took him fishing back in the place where he first taught you to fish.  Your son will remember the last time the two of you ever played catch with a baseball.  Your Mom will cherish the night you spent with her in the hospital just holding her hand and feeding her ice chips.  That stranger will remember the time you bought his family lunch… just because you wanted to bless someone else.  Your daughter will remember your last date with her.

What are you going to do with the time you have left? No matter how much time you think you have right now, you will someday say, “It wasn’t enough.  I needed just one more hour.”

Have a wonderful day! I appreciate you!

I’ll go first!

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Children are notorious for wanting to be the first to do things. “My turn first,” they say.  Or, “I want to be first in line.”  Children have that adventurous excitement about them that drives them to be the first to experience something new or to “take the first risk” or to set the standard for all the others.  The innocence of children is wonderful.  So, what happens when children grow up?  How many adults do you see or hear saying, “Me first?”  This is especially noticeable in a work setting or one in which you work with other adults.

What happens to us as we grow older that takes away that adventuresome spirit that we had as children? Do we become tainted by the ridicule of others?  Do we become afraid of being out in front of others?  What creeps into our lives that makes us want to hold back until others go first… until we know it is safe?

Why don’t we begin a new movement today? Why not a campaign which challenges us to say, “I’ll go first?”  Who says we can’t be bold enough to be out front and set the standard for others?  Who wants to go first?

  • Which leader wants to go first and say, “Let’s work side-by-side and get this done together.”
  • Which parent wants to go first and say, “Absolutely not! I don’t care what the others are wearing, you cannot wear that in public!”
  • Which of us will be first to say, “Enough of political correctness! We need to stand up for what is right, not what others want us to think”
  • Which friend will be the first to say, “No matter what, I’ll be with you, for you, and true to you.”
  • Which of us will say to another, “How can I make life better for you today?”
  • Who will be the first to ask a question the next time we meet with our senior managers?
  • Who will step up to volunteer to lead a project no one else wants to do… without being asked to do it?
  • Who will be the first to assist a coworker in need of support?

Going first is noticed by others. Courage is a key attribute of top leaders and high-potential employees.  Taking a personal risk to go first may actually pay dividends in your career, as well.

So, what do you say? Who will be the first to say, “I’ll go first.”

Thanks for everything you do! Have a superb day!

 

Watch those doing it right

Copy them

It is really easy to find ways to criticize what others do. After all, most people just aren’t as smart, talented, efficient, effective, or inspiring as we think they should be.  When we look at those that do things wrong, perhaps, we are look at the wrong people.  Let me summarize this with what I think might be an original quote:

“Don’t look at those doing it wrong to criticize them, but watch those doing it right to copy them.”

Instead of looking at those that do it wrong (with a view to criticize them), it is much better to watch those doing it right (in order to improve ourselves). We need to shift who we watch… away from those that provide a negative example, but to those that provide a positive example.  We need to find someone we believe is doing the right things in the right way.  Then, we need to emulate or copy them.  For example, great leaders provide a model that we should utilize to make our own leadership stronger.

The challenge is this… Focus on those that do things well. Ask yourself what makes that person excel.  Then, copy it.  Why try to re-invent the wheel?  Use those positive role models to provide a pattern that can make you better.  Keep your focus away from those that merely provide fodder for criticism.  Let’s strive to learn from each other.

Have an outstanding day! This could be the day we someday call “our best day yet.”

No, it’s not too late to say what you need to say!

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I ran across an article published just this week that I thought was very interesting. It was written by Nathan Garbig and I thought it is thought-provoking.  (It can be found on Cincinnati.com and was published 8/2/16.)

Garbig describes a job he held in which his only responsibility was to hold up a sign in a crowded public place that said something outrageously positive.  His signs said things like, “You mean more to me than you think.”  Or, “I want to make you proud.”  Or, “I know how bright you shine, even when you don’t know it.”

Garbig talks about the impact these simple signs made to people.  He had individuals stop in traffic that said his sign changed the entire conversation (e.g., argument) she was having with her daughter.  Another said it made him this about whether he was making his family proud.  Another said it made him realize how rarely he told his loved ones how much they mean to him.

Over the course of this “Things you shouldn’t wait to say” campaign, many individuals were clearly impacted.  To some, they related that it changed their lives.  A simple message encouraging positive thoughts and hope had changed the lives of people he didn’t even know!

Is today the day you need to tell someone how much they mean to you?  Is it time to go outside your comfort zone to express something to someone else before it is too late?

Have I told you, those important individuals in my life, lately, “You mean more to me than you could ever know!”? Well, you do!  Think about the message here… you might change someone’s world by simply expressing a positive comment or by sharing a genuine feeling.  Why not give it a try?

Have a fabulous day! I am thankful to be on this journey of life with you!

What makes others trust you?

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Everyone thinks they work well with others.   But, there are some individuals that we simply would rather not have on our teams or that we dread having to deal with on projects.  Some individuals we simply don’t trust.  We have talked many times about trust and the important place is holds.  Teams perform much better when individuals treat each other.  Collaboration is better when trust is high.  Our relationships with our boss and our colleagues are better when trust is foundational.  Our neighborhoods are happier when neighbors trust neighbors.  So, if trust is so important, what are those key things you can do to enhance trust?  What makes others trust you?

I have assembled my “Top 10” list for enhancing trust. You may have other elements you can add, but if we all did these things well, I think our level of trust would certainly increase.

Ten things that make others trust you

  1. You do what you say you’ll do – Bottom line… unless you do what you say you’ll do, you cannot expect to be trusted.
  2. You honestly care about others – Someone has said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Trust almost always includes a level of personal care or interest.
  3. You treat others with respect – When others see you disrespect others (even when they are away), they will simply not trust you.
  4. You demonstrate integrity – When you always do the right things in the right way, you earn credibility that converts to trust.
  5. You remain calm in the face of stressful situations – It is difficult to trust someone that panics in the face of stress.
  6. You have been reliable in the past – When you have a track record of trustworthiness, individuals typically give you some “trust room” in the future.
  7. You listen more than you talk – In general, trust fades the more you talk.
  8. You put others first – Trust grows when you are seen serving others rather than expecting others to serve you.
  9. You are an optimist – We love to follow and trust someone that remains optimistic even when faced with challenges.
  10. You relate with others – Individuals often place more trust in individuals that have gone through or that can relate with their station in life.

What do you think? How are you doing with these?  Would you trust yourself?  Should others trust you?

Thanks for what you do. Today could be one of our best yet… there is still a chance!

 

 

A time to weep and a time to laugh

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Today, we look at the next in our series based on the 1965 song by The Byrds called Turn! Turn! Turn! .  You will recall that we looked at “a time to dance” the last time.  Today, we look at the theme:

  “A time to weep and a time to laugh”

Ella Wheeler Wilcox once said, “Laugh, and the world laughs with you; weep, and you weep alone.” Everyone is attracted to fun, laughter, and excitement.  Likewise, when someone is going through a difficult spell or a time of weeping, many people tend to shy away.  Yet, both emotions are important and, in fact, are critical to a well-balance individual.  Too far on one side or the other can be a concern, however.

My wife’s grandmother was a strong farm woman. She was loving and compassionate and made the very best cookies of anyone I have ever known!  However, she also tended to say after the loss of a loved one, “We should all mourn for three days, but after that, we have a job to do and people that depend upon us, so pick yourself up and get to the new normal.”  She was right.  There is a time to weep and mourn.  And, there is a time to laugh.  We all just need to find that balance that works.

I found a few words of wisdom from others on this subject and felt you might benefit from one or more of these. Hopefully, if you are out-of-balance, this will help restore it:

“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” ― Mae West

“A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.” ― Steve Martin

“Never put off till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well.” ― Mark Twain

“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.” ― Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” ― Charles M. Schulz

“If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.” ― E.B. White

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!” ― Dr. Seuss

I hope today that none of you is in a time of weeping. If you need a hand to help pick you up, lean on a friend or coworker or family member or give me a call.  We need to be there when one goes through a tough spot.  These times pass, but they can wound our very soul, if we allow it.

Thanks for all you do and do something to make this a “best day yet” for someone else! Have a fantastic day!