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Category Archives: X Marks the Spot

Micro-Management: An Organizational Dilemma

The hands of the men chained in handcuffs, on a background of thAny organization, department, division or office that experiences a high turnover of employees in a short period of time definitely has issues that go deeper than just the employee that went through the revolving door.  Unfortunately, numerous offices experience this – yet never look at the root cause of why it’s happening.  Whether you know it or not, the ‘revolving door syndrome’ has a detrimental impact on others nearby, costs the organization money, and might just be the ‘beginning of the end’ for many organizations.  Too often, managers link high turnover to people who are not dedicated, lack talent, or are just incompetent to do the job.  However, I’ve learned through my experiences…and it’s also proven through academic research…that a significant part of the problem is not with the people, it’s with the system that’s been created in which they work.  So, what could be wrong with the system or the process?  Well – many things.  My next few blog posts will highlight some of those areas.

One such issue that could be throwing the system in a tilt is the management style – specifically micromanagement.  There seems to be a very fine line between macro-managing and micro-managing.  Most of us would say we are macro-managers and we allow our employees some space in order to carry out the responsibilities of their job. But sadly, there are too many managers who think they are doing a bang-up job and supporting their employees, when actually…they are doing just the opposite and hand-cuffing the very people who are there to help.  So,are you a micro-manager?  Let’s look at some of the signs:

  • Do you resist delegating work to others?
  • Do you focus on ‘overseeing’ the projects of others?
  • If you find mistakes, do you tend to take the project back in order to complete it yourself?
  • Do you focus on the small details and tasks instead of the big picture?
  • Do you ask others to ‘consult’ you before they make a decision?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above questions, then you may be headed into the vast land of micro-management.  But, you may be asking, “What’s wrong with micro-managing if it delivers the results I want?”  Good question.  My view on it is this…micro-managers tend to take certain attributes to the extreme. When this occurs, then there develops an obsession to control everything – even to the point of rendering their colleagues powerless.  Then you run the risk of ruining their self-confidence, causing them to quit, and/or damaging their performance itself.  You may achieve the original goal you intended, but at what cost?  So take a strong inventory of your management style and find a healthy balance that helps to empower others around you to develop, grow, and make the necessary decisions to move the organization forward.

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How To Make a Repeated First Impression

confidence-dictionaryEveryone knows how important a first impression is during a job interview.  But after the job is secured and you’ve settled in, does it really matter what type of impression you make on others?  Well, if you want to be effective in your career, then I say the answer to that question should be yes.  Regardless at what level your position is on the organizational chart, you should always be repeating that ‘first impression’ vibe because that’s how you can best display confidence at work.

So, whether you are an entry-level employee, a volunteer, or a CEO…take a look at these suggestions that you can practice every day in order to display the best ‘first impression’ again and again:

  • Clothes – It’s important to convey a polished, professional appearance in the workplace.  Looking the part exudes confidence to others around you.  Regardless of what you are wearing, be certain it is high quality, neat and proportionate to your body.  The old adage is “dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”  Also – avoid a lot of accessories and busy patterns that will distract others.  So, basically…be sure to look your best every time you step into the workplace.
  • Eye Contact – Establishing and maintaining eye contact with others is your best way to communicate confidence and interest.  When speaking or listening to someone, always look directly into their eyes for 3-5 seconds before looking away or moving to someone else.  This will show them you are interested and involved in the communication process.  If you constantly avoid eye contact, then you are viewed as insecure, anxious and somewhat evasive – which will erode any confidence.
  • Facial Expressions – There are seven basic human emotions (anger, sadness, contempt, disgust, fear, happiness, surprise) with scientifically proven facial expressions associated with each.  These expressions are often involuntary and unconscious.  Be aware of what your face is revealing to others and be sure to choose the right expression that matches the message you want to send.
  • Interactions – Initiate conversations with others.  Taking the initiative to interact with others displays confidence in yourself enough to walk up to a complete strange and begin a conversation.  Learning this process will boost your self-confidence and the confidence levels of others around you.

Gaining and maintaining the confidence of your workforce will go a long way when it comes to making tough decisions because many other attributes are associated with confidence – such as respect, loyalty and commitment.  I’m sure there are many other ways to make a repeated first impression, but the ones noted above will get your started on the right track.  Implement these suggestions today and watch how your confidence level increases dramatically.

 

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What You See Isn’t Always What You Get

Half-full or half-emptyAll of us would like to think that we are fairly aware of what goes on around us each and every day.  But how many times have we lost our car keys and then we find them in a spot that we looked a hundred times?  Or when you open the pantry to retrieve a product and fail to see it – even though it’s setting right in front of you at eye level?  It’s because our awareness is limited to some extent.  We have consciously trained ourselves to only see what we want to see, and in a manner we want to see it…and anything that doesn’t fit into our frame of thinking is basically invisible to our thought process.  The same holds true in our daily decision making.

Making routine decisions involves the collection of information, the review of that information and then determining how best to use that information.  But due to our bounded awareness, most of us fail to see certain information or recognize the relevance of information that we do see.  Simply by understanding that it’s natural to have bounded awareness that limits our view on certain issues, you can train yourself to look beyond the narrow scope of issues and to broaden your view in order to make the best possible decision.  To understand where we are failing in this process will help us to be more successful in the long run.  So, how can you increase your awareness?  Here are four suggestions:

  • See Information – Train yourself to see what you’re really looking for…AND what you’re not looking for.  Always ask yourself questions that will force you to pay attention to those areas you’re typically unaware of.
  • Seek Out Information – Intentionally look for information that is missing.  The lack of contradictory data implies that you or your team is falling prey to bounded awareness.  Make sure you have someone nearby that will continually ask inquisitive questions.  Assume that all of the information you need to make an informed decision is within your own organization – because often times, it is.
  • Use All Information – Make sure you’re not focusing on one piece of information too much, but that you are consciously looking at the full context of all the information you have collected.  You’ll be less likely to disregard important data if you look at the ‘big picture’ instead of honing in on one piece of data.
  • Share Information – Everyone has information.  Therefore, it’s critical to create structures that make information sharing the norm.  For example, gathering updates from others will increase the likelihood that individual information is shared with the whole group – which may lead to ‘seeing something you never saw before’.

 

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Posted by on April 8, 2014 in X Marks the Spot

 

Honor: Applicable in the Workplace?

honor1Most every school has something they call the ‘honor roll’ and it’s always a distinguished recognition of those students who are doing things right and are successful in the classroom.  But when we move from the halls of academia and into the world of business, it becomes more and more challenging to know when you are ‘doing things right.’  It’s my opinion that even in the business environment, one’s honor can still be utilized as a measurement tool of a managers effectiveness and overall success within the workplace.

In today’s organizations, it’s easy for managers to feel compelled to ‘adapt’ or be everything to everyone.  But being a person of excellence – one of respect, means you must strike a careful balance in all your actions and decisions in order to maintain your honor in the eyes of others.  We’ve all heard the horror stories of those bad bosses that basically take advantage of every opportunity – both ethical and unethical ones – just to get ahead and benefit only themselves.  It’s those scenarios that play out in the minds of workers that create a tension sometimes between various levels in the workplace, i.e. upper management and other workers.  Therefore, to correct or improve upon that stereotypical mindset…it’s vital that today’s managers display honor in the workplace.  How can one maintain his or her honor and still be an effective manager?  Here are five suggestions to consider:

  • Be honest – It’s critical to be honest with your employees whenever they ask direct questions…or even indirect questions.  If you try to lie or exaggerate truths, then you will be found out and your image of honor will be damaged beyond repair.  Always be tactful, but truthful.
  • Trust others – Give others a chance to develop that trusting relationship.  The more you trust others, then the more others will view you as being trustworthy.  Be sure to develop a strong bond with your workforce and always-always-always keep your word.
  • Protect your space – Don’t feel like you have to be a ‘part of the crowd’ just to be liked or honored by the workforce.  It’s easy to be lured into doing things that everyone else is doing.  So be mindful of what is ‘appropriate’ behavior, then guard your personal space to maintain and display that behavior.
  • Operate on facts – Identify and call out others (if you have to) that are spreading rumors, gossip or any information that can’t be proven or substantiated.  Sending a strong message that you’re only interested in facts will show others that you don’t want to participate in the ‘water cooler conversations’.
  • Know the difference – Be able to distinguish between an honorable act and a dishonorable act.  If it doesn’t sound right, feel right or look right…then more than likely it’s a dishonorable action.  So, be cautious and think before you act or before you speak.  Not knowing the difference is probably the quickest way to be out of a job.

These are just a few suggestions to help you in establishing and/or maintaining your honor in the workplace.  Take time this week to practice these and other ideas and see what type of response you get from others.  Have a great day!!

 

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Fear: Change Your Thinking

FearAll of us have at least one thing we fear.  Some fear death and some fear spiders, while others may have the fear of heights or the fear of failing.  In a managerial position, the same concept is true.  Managers have fears about competition, meeting deadlines, quarterly earnings, etc.  So, how can we best overcome our fears?  Well, one of my good friends had a fear of riding roller coasters; however, one day he calls me up and says, ‘hey, let’s go to Six Flags.’  Of course, I reminded him that he didn’t like roller coasters, but he was adamant to go and conquer his fear.  He had looked up information online about roller coasters and he had watched simulation videos of roller coaster rides.  So, he was equipped and prepared to meet his fear head-on.

Therefore, the best way for managers to conquer their fears in the workplace is to change the way they think about fear.  This can be done by simply equipping and preparing themselves for a direct encounter with each fear.  This basically means doing just two things:

  • Turn Your Fears into Fascination Drivers – In other words, research and learn as much as you can about each fear.  What can you learn from it and how can you turn it into a source of positive energy?  If you have a fear about your competition, then learn everything you can about them.  What makes them tick?  What are their goals?  In what areas are they strong and weak?   Then, take this information and determine how you can re-frame it into a positive aspect that will be beneficial for you and your team.
  • View Your Fears as Opportunities – Start looking at fear as an indicator of something that needs attention…and not as something to avoid.  It’s a way to identify problems and issues and then to develop strategies to overcome those problems and issues.  Have a fear about an upcoming deadline, then take charge and develop a plan in advance with specific timelines for each step that’s needed in meeting your deadline.  Don’t procrastinate just because you have a fear because when you do that, then you’re allowing the fear to take control of your management process.

By becoming fascinated with your managerial fears and learning how to turn them into opportunities, you can become more effective in your day to day responsibilities and push forward into new, innovative areas that will advance the overall mission of your organization.  So this week, take time to list a few of your immediate fears and start changing how you think about each particular one.

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Making Your Word Count

Word

(Repost of ‘Your Word, Your Brand’ of April 5, 2013)

Most of us have certain defining moments in our lives that make us stop to ponder that age-old question, “Why do I do what I do?”  Whether you’re at the helm of a large corporation with thousands of employees or you sack groceries at the local neighborhood supermarket…we all have various reasons for the paths we take in life and at times it is important to reflect on the choices we make.  One of those defining moments for me was standing in my office on the morning of September 11, 2001 and watching the events unfold on television regarding the terrorist attacks in New York City and the countless lives that were lost that day.  On that day, it was no longer about meeting a print deadline or making sure enough ink pens were ordered or even making sure I got my car payment in the mail on time…it was all about ‘what am I doing to make a difference in the lives of others?’  That internal question defined a whole new way of thinking for me and changed the course of how I managed others.

For me, I quickly realized that there were no policies and procedures, no personnel manuals, no workplace training and no professional management courses that can replace your spoken “word”.  I would even go as far to say that the days of cutting a business deal with a simple smile and a handshake were back – for me, at least.  And looking back at that internal question of how am I making a difference, I knew that when I take away all of the glitz and glamor…my “word” was the most valuable tool I had to make a true difference.

As managers, it is so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day routine of business operations that we tend to forget that what we say and do affect many others around us – individual workers, multiple families, whole communities.  It’s easy to get riled up and ticked off at upper management or your colleagues or your customers (yes, even your customers can tick you off); but if you want to make a true difference – don’t let those things steal your joy or your passion for doing what you do because your word IS your brand.  When it comes right down to it…your ‘word’ – who you say you are – is all you have when you really want to impact and encourage your employees or when you are negotiating a business deal to bring jobs and revenue to your local community or when you’re trying to motivate others toward a common goal.

I experienced another one of those defining moments just a few months ago with the tragic loss of my 22 year old nephew.  Realizing how we all have such a brief window of opportunity to mark our spot in this world and to make a difference in the lives of others is an energizing and rejuvenating jolt that should bring us all back to the core of why we do, what we do.  There’s a quote by an anonymous writer that says, “You’re only as good as your word.  Use them wisely, and stick by them.  That’s capital worth investing in.”  We all need to heed this saying and integrate its meaning into our lives.

So, I guess this blog post is geared toward encouraging you to do your very best in keeping your integrity in check and being true to who you say you are – so you can truly make a difference in the lives of those who cross your path – whether it be your employees, co-workers, friends or even family members.  How you brand yourself speaks volumes to others.  I challenge you to take some time this week and reflect on how you can make a difference and what you can be doing right now – today – to make that happen.  Then, go mark your spot in this world!

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Need Managerial Inspiration? Consider Music

Need Managerial Inspiration?  Consider Music

 

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