Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Manager's Duty

A manager's primary duty is to help his/her employees succeed. Positioning them for success. Providing them with appropriate resources to complete assignments and tasks. Prioritizing work to promote quality completion and to help avoid burn-out. Asking questions to ensure clarity. Pushing them to build skills and expand their thinking. And, sometimes, counseling them out of their position to something that is a better fit.

Some managers become focused on their ascention and they lose sight of the need to help their people succeed as part of that process. Some forget what it takes to actually do the tasks involved and forget that their role is to prioritize not add-on. Some just keep doing what they were doing before they became a manager and are unable to realize the human relationships for which they are now responsible.

And, some excel. Find those people in your organization and appreciate them. Find them in others and learn from them. All in all, observe and learn ... they may be doing the same of you.
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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Strategic Planning or Plain Planning?

Strategic planning is something special. It engages people. It introduces different ways of thinking. It relies upon the exchange of ideas and information. Planning, on the other hand, is routine. It works within confines and focuses on the process. It is just plain planning.

For your next planning pursuit, be clear on whether the intention is for it to be strategic and introduce new thinking or plainly practical to move something forward. Both deliver value, they are just designed for different purposes. So know your purpose and label accordingly.

Generally speaking, consider the following distinctions ...

If it's strategic, the expectation is for new information, the space allows for creative thinking and the method fosters dialogue and communication among people.

If it's plain, the expectation is for sequencing, the space shapes defined progress from here to there and the method drives to charts and timelines.
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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Executive Priority is Priorities

Executives in an organization have a responsibility to set and maintain priorities. They determine direction based on their position and ability to see across functional silos. They collect inputs, knowledge and feedback to discern strategies and establish goals for tangible progress. And, to advance those basic responsibilities they must determine priorities for the people who will implement and execute.

And, by setting and maintaining priorities they don't keep piling one thing upon the other. Once you've piled two things atop each other, let alone five to ten, you diminish productivity. Those of you who follow me know that against what I might at time profess, I believe people are fundamentally good. That means I believe that fundamentally people want to do a good job -- perhaps not the same good job as you want them to do, but that's the subject for another post.

I've seen it inside and I've seen it from the outside consulting in, when people feel overwhelmed or overloaded, you lose them (and not because they want to get lost). You reduce their abilities to stay focused and to find their way to fulfilling the corporate need. So, here's something to consider. The higher up the organizational chart you are, the more restraint you have to show in creating "fast track projects" or proclaiming that you need the analysis and recommendation on a major organizational undertaking "by the end of the month." Do it and remove something. Consider that your people are doing the day-to-day work that has to get done, and if you have those urgent needs then someone else needs to take on doing the routine assignments.

Executives must prioritize people, which means prioritizing priorities.
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