Log entry no. 141 “A food-related note from Urge”

My buddy Urge had his 18 something granddaughters visit recently.  Just prior to that 10 of us returned from an eat-a-thon and drink-a-thon at an all-inclusive in Jamaica.  Since the return, we were all trying to dump the poundage we packed on in the tropics.

So Urge sends me this email:

“Jennifer and Samantha leave today which is good since all they wanted to do is eat fried shrimp, oysters or anything coated with crumbs and boiled in grease. I’ve gained what I thought I had lost from the Jamaican trip. Oh yeah, lunch today at MJs restaurant and guess what they wanted, yep fried oysters”.

Knowing Urge needed some advice for the future I suggested to him that those kids are just trying to get him to eat himself to death so eventually they don’t have to change his diapers, wipe up the drool, and pay to board him in an a “home” that smells like skin dust from old people (I’m old, I can say that).   

I further suggested that the next time they come to visit that Urge feed ’em health food and the stay will be shorter and likely they won’t want to come back often!

***** S&E ****

You Just Gotta Love Dr. Seuss

Who the heck looks to Dr Seuss for career advice? Motivation?

I had this boss who was so dynamic, he was a great leader with a nasty temper, accompanied by a short fuse as they say. But you try and take people for their strong points, and you can learn from everyone.

He gave his staff a Dr Seuss book entitled “Oh, The Places You’ll Go” at one of his staff meetings, and we all took our turns reading a page from the book. One of my favorite pages… was about “waiting”:

Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head.  You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

It’s opener there in the wide open air. Out there things can happen and frequently do 
to people as brainy and footsy as you. 
And when things start to happen, don’t worry. Don’t stew. 
Just go right along. You’ll start happening too.

You can get so confused that you’ll start in to race
down long, wiggled roads at a break-neck pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come,
or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or a No
or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil,
or a Better Break or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig with curls,
or Another Chance. Everyone is just waiting.
NO! That’s not for you!

So…be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
you’re off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So…get on your way!

***** S&E *****

Trump and leadership, an oxymoron?

Headline: “Nominees Who Got Nowhere”, “Dozens of people Trump chose to lead have either quit or gotten cut”. USA TODAY, 06.2019

The number is around 60, either self-withdrew, or Trump canceled the nomination, which was his nomination in the first place.

I’m sure by now most people despite their party affiliation have some doubt in their mind about our leader’s leadership capability.

Great leaders either chose great talent or have people who can. And great leaders know how to retain assess and retain talent. After all, talent is the key to successfully driving the enterprise!

Such a sad situation. We have this big, powerful, capable country and look at our “leaders”.

You just gotta wonder what the rest of the world thinks.

*****S&E*****

Control / Micro Managers

These guys do a lot of damage. They stifle future leaders, can undermine confidence, create poor work culture, foster non-learning, and can delay personal and professional development. They are killers of creativity, drain productivity, choke self-expression, stifle new opportunities and the advantages that come from innovation… huge negative affects on the business, its people, its customers!

It is just plain bad leadership and management. And it is not unusual for that “style” to be recognized in the broader organization. That style can be characterized by talent loss and employee turnover.

If you have a manager/supervisor working for you who is controlling, make a change. If you work for one… look for a way out, don’t stay too long… controlling managers won’t help you much in the short or long term and can be very poor career developers.

If you have no choice, if you like the company, the best thing you can do is build your reputation in the organization which just might open new opportunities, despite your current situation.

  • Look for teamwork projects.
  • Everyone’s work impacts other departments… get out there and do some customer service work; make yourself and your capabilities known!
  • Possibly sponsor some community project work.
  • Make sure you do a good job of managing and documenting your objectives and performance. If your boss does not, here is some related information: https://successnexcess.com/2018/04/09/talent-management-pay-for-performance-p4p-performance-management-process/
  • Find a manager or leader you respect and cultivate a coach and mentor relationship. This is best done outside your department.
  • Above all, act.

In the end it is all learning and time eventually changes everything, and, good boss/bad boss, you can learn from both.

If you one of “those” managers, here is some advice: https://www.mindful.org/micromanager-mindful-counterproductive/

“Join a company, quit a boss!”

***** S&E *****

Log Entry No. 8: “Zone 3”

Tom is visiting his son, sitting on the back porch deck, under roof, doing some beers. It is 90+ degrees.

wifi irrigationHis son has an irrigation system in his yard.  It is an older house and so is the system, so he is in the process of replacing some sprinkler heads in the front and back yard.  He also replaced the control box in the garage which controls each zone and the sprinkler heads.  The system has 6 zones.

The new control box installation is of course high-tech.  Both of Tom’s sons are good with tech since they are 40 years younger than Tom.  In this case the new control box is Wi-Fi driven.  Very cool, you can be anywhere in the yard, open the sprinkler system’s app on your smart phone, choose the zone you want to enable and that zone comes on.  The system is great for testing individual sprinkler heads in zones and / or scheduling certain zones or all zones to operate on a weekly schedule. If you enable a certain option in the system it will interact with the local weather station and control the sprinkler system so the yard and planting areas only receive the correct amount of water.  (I would not take that to the bank!)

There is also another application!

While they are sitting on the porch the dog (100 lb Golden-doodle) heads out into the yard, as it happens the mutt is standing in zone 3 of the WiFi controlled sprinkler system.  And Tom’s son demonstrates a feature of the system that is not illustrated in the manual, he calls it – “cooling off the dog”.  So it is, “the dog is in zone 3”, open up the app, enable zone three, and the mutt gets cooled off.  Hugely funny.  If the dog moves from one zone to another, well…

Occasionally is OK, but overdone the mutt probably would not go in the yard.

Before anyone calls the ASPCA – this is not done frequently, and, it’s only water, and on hot days it appears as if the mutt loves it.

As soon as Tom returned home from his son’s, he installed a WiFi control box for his irrigation system.

Tom has a dog!

*****S&E*****

Building a Benchmark Quality HR organization

It was a corporate wide process.  Operating units had to participate by submitting an application.  The content of an application was based on an internationally recognized process for becoming a benchmark quality organization.  That is, other businesses and industries would seek out your organization and use it as a model for continuous improvement.

benchmark 1Assessment teams of managers were trained in key assessment factors and traveled to assess applying operating units in the corporation.  There was an annual schedule which plotted the application process and assessment team scheduling.  Applications were limited to 75 pages.  The assessment team was given the application in advance of their assessment visit to the operating unit.  A visit was three days in length with 5 assessment team members.

Key assessment factors: systemic approach, deployment, process, continuous improvement, and results (metrics).

Benchmark 2The process looked at seven categories by which to assess the business … one being results. And, within each category, the key assessment factors were used to evaluate the operating units performance.  The visiting assessment team gave the operating unit management team a face to face report on their findings which included successes and opportunities for improvement.

In most cases there was a direct correlation between an operating units score and its actual business performance.

Benchmark 3Operating units that scored well were likely to be on the path to being benchmark organizations in their industry.

So, bringing this back to HR, like all functions, HR had its specifics to document in the application with related metrics.  And it all had to be real, in practice, in the unit’s multiple plants and countries.  Assessment teams visited multiple locations in the units.  HR assessment specifics included:

  • Planning – work design, flexibility, innovation, response.  Development & Training.  Compensation, Recognition and Benefits.  Recruiting and Demographic Sensitivity.
  • High Performance Work Systems — connection to customers and managing and moving talent.
  • Education Training and Development — specific plans & programs.
  • Employee Well-Being and Satisfaction — focused programs on safety, health and related environmental monitoring/testing.
  • Metrics included markers for all the above; some over multiple years as indications of improvement.

Benchmark 4Some operations groused about the process being arduous, painful, (and it was) and a significant distraction from running the business. However it is hard to argue with the value of having your business assessed against a standard that can result in a plan for continuous improvement, benchmark status in an industry, and business excellence.

One of the years our unit scored first place.  We split the corporate monetary award with all our locations.  Our location rented a stern-wheeler river boat, hired a band and had a dinner-dance celebration.  It was epic !

And we had a master road-map for improvement!

***** S&E *****

Killing Performance Reviews ???

I love these articles on scraping performance reviews… this one printed in Fast Company Magazine (link below).  I like the magazine for many reasons so my comments should not be construed as negatives against the magazine.

So I know I’m running the gauntlet of an old school leader, yet supporting performancemanager-leader reviews.  I can attest to the fact that I used reviews successfully over the course of nine different positions, in two corporations, and 13 countries. And all ages of participants liked the process.  My opinion is it is not the performance review process, or its relevance, that is at issue.  I believe it is the manager or leader who badly screws up the process that is the issue.  How? … not taking the time, bad time management skills, poor communications, not caring, unorganized, not focused on a team approach to getting the job done, and, the always classical, micro-manager.

In summary the Fast Company article notes that it is time to give up the annual performance review due to the needs of multi-generational organizations and replace the review process with the following.

  1. Give explicit instructions
  2. Conduct one-on-on check ins
  3. Have conversations about the employees future
  4. Use technology when it makes sense
  5. Practice the MBWA technique

https://www.fastcompany.com/90344795/5-alternatives-to-performance-reviews?utm_campaign=Compass&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Revue%20newsletter

I would suggest that the above list is part of traditional performance management, Career 1reviews, and sound leadership.  If managers can’t handle the traditional review process they will certainly screw up the above.  Again, to emphasize, it is not the process, it is the manager!

Here is my experience of what works:

Crystal clear communications are key:

  • Publish a schedule of for initial,  individual one-on-one’s with participants – ask them to submit a draft of their objectives for the year in advance — starts the process as a shared, two way partnership.
  • At the one-on-one, discuss and fine-tune the objectives for the year… follow the SMARTcareer 2 guidelines for meaningful objectives.  Stress that, the participant owns the objectives, your door is always open, and help is always available.  As well, help is available with dealing with barriers to getting it done.
  • Check in one-on-one’s — quick discussions unless the participant needs detailed help.
  • Encourage the participant to keep a running summary of related accomplishments so the year end review is easy.
  • Schedule, conduct the year end review with the participant submitting, in advance, objectives and accomplishments.
  • They’ll own it, like it, and the quality of the experience is solidly shouldered by the manager.
  • Hold career discussions separately… career path stuff is important to participants and it deserves focused attention.  It IS the managers/leaders job! About the greatest contribution you can make to those who work for you is to contribute to advancing their career!

When it goes bad, it is always the manager!  “Join a company, quit a boss”!

***** S&E *****