Posted on May 20, 2013 by Keith
What’s the best work situation you’ve ever had and why was it so? Was it working for yourself, a start-up, or a big corporation? I got a chance to ask myself that question again Saturday night when a number of us who worked together 20+ years ago at ABC Sports got together. Most of us hadn’t seen one another in at least a decade but like most reunions of closely knit groups, it felt as if we’d just spoken last week.
Let me explain why this was the best work situation I’ve ever been in and offer some suggestions how you might try to replicate it wherever you are. What’s interesting to me is that what I’m going to say was echoed by every single one of us in the room in terms of what we experienced and how we felt. None of us are kids any more and yet we all agreed this was the best period of time we ever spent over our professional lives.
- The boss was very much in charge. That seems like a prescription for heavy-handed disaster, but in this case it means he gave us all clear, firm direction.
- The boss allowed us to figure out how to accomplish the goals. He was smart enough to recognize that many roads travel to the same place and we needed to take those which we could navigate effectively.
- There were no staff meetings or other “process” items wasting our time. Oh sure, once a quarter or so we’d get together to go over stuff but the emphasis was on results, not process.
- There was the equivalent of a very productive staff meeting every morning. Because of the next point, the senior staff would end up in someone’s office every morning an hour before work officially began going over what we were doing, opportunities for action, rumors, and anything else. It was the equivalent of a 5 hour weekly meeting and many times more productive.
- The executive team liked one another as people and respected one another as professionals. We socialized outside of work and some of the team I still count among my closest friends.
- Finally, the boss cleared away all the corporate stuff to allow us to do our collective thing. He fought for budgets, he made sure we were paid well, he took the heat when something didn’t go as planned. Like a good parent, he wasn’t afraid to let us know when we’d screwed up (BOY did he let us know) but we never doubted that he supported us and we never felt like we’d get fired at any minute.
That’s the prescription if you’re the one building the work environment. Assemble a great team, give them clear direction, provide resources, and get out of the way while staying connected. It’s 20 years later now and I think most of this team would go back to work together in a minute if the opportunity arose. Many of us agreed we didn’t realize at the time how special an environment we had but we sure do now.
What do you think? Ever been in this sort of work environment? Is this about what you had?
Filed under: Growing up, Reality checks | Tagged: business, business thinking, Employment, managment, Senior management, teamwork, Work | 2 Comments »
Posted on March 7, 2013 by Keith
One of my favorite Shakespeare quotes is from Julius Caesar and is spoken by Cassius. He’s trying to get Brutus to stop Caesar and reminds him that “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings”. In other words, we control our own destinies, not fate.
(Photo credit: Modern_Language_Center)
I thought of that this morning as I saw some research on recruiting from the folks at Bullhorn. It’s an annual survey of recruiting professionals and in it they asked about what those folks perceived to be the biggest challenge they would face this year. As MediaPost reported:
Recruiting professionals listed their biggest challenge for 2013 as a lack of skilled candidates (33%). Additionally, in a separate question, 76.1% of respondents claimed to have a shortage of skilled candidates in their respective recruiting sectors.
What does this have to do with the Shakespeare quote? We’re in the midst of a nasty employment cycle. You’ll notice I said “employment” cycle, not economic. The stock market is back to where it was in 2000 and corporate earnings have doubled since then. Even so, employment is soft. Part of that has to do with how technology has made many processes way more efficient. I think it’s had another effect which has to do with why qualified job candidates are so hard to find.
Many managers have come to think of employees as disposable. They’re lucky to have jobs and if they’re not happy there are lots of people available. Due to this, there’s less of an emphasis on training and development The tech factor is at work here as well – think about how many people can’t write properly because the machine checks spelling and grammar (but not meaning or homophones or homonyms). We don’t train so people are less skilled. Because they’re less skilled, the recruiters have a small pool from which to draw. The fault, dear hiring employer, is in ourselves. You agree?
Filed under: Helpful Hints, Reality checks | Tagged: business thinking, Employment, management, managing, Reality checks, Recruitment, Senior management | Leave a Comment »
Posted on January 2, 2013 by Keith
I hope all of you had a good holiday and managed to recharge a bit.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
One of the things I did was to see the movie “Lincoln“. I’d encourage you to see it for a number of reasons. The acting is amazing but so too are the leadership lessons the film conveys. With apologies to my friend Geoff who wrote the very fine “Lead Like Ike” book, I think the leadership Lincoln shows beats Ike by half a century and is a great place to start this year’s business discussion.
I’ll state in advance that I recognize that the film grossly oversimplifies a very complicated time in our country’s history – the passage of the 13th Amendment which ends slavery although most of what you see is pretty accurate. I’d also encourage you to read the Doris Kearns Goodwin book “Team of Rivals” on which the movie is based. That said, what’s very clear is that Lincoln possessed some incredible leadership abilities.
First, he set clear goals – get the bill passed by a certain date. Second, while he left it to his team to figure out the particulars of how the team would get the necessary votes , he was very clear about one thing – there were to be no cash bribes paid in return for votes. Setting boundaries to go along with charging people with tasks is an often overlooked element of good leadership. Third – he was supportive and understanding until several members of the team became discouraged enough to argue against the attempt. At that point he became firm and inflexible, recognizing that while there are many roads to get to Rome the choice of destination was not a part of the discussion. Lastly, he stayed out of his team’s way for the most part right up until his personal influence was needed to sway some votes. He recognizes out loud that it is the power of the office that moves people, along with the strength of the cause and never confuses the power in those things with himself.
There’s a reason Honest Abe is so revered and this film help us to understand that. Along with the obvious reasons, his brilliance as a leader is also on my list. How about yours?
Filed under: Helpful Hints, Reality checks | Tagged: business thinking, leadership, Lincoln, Senior management, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln | Leave a Comment »