Are You Trying to Make a Silk Purse Out of a Sow’s Ear? 2

Do automotive technicians make the best service managers? Do great athletes have what it takes to be a successful coach? Just because someone is good at what they do – it doesn’t mean they will be good at doing something else. Not everyone has what it takes to manage others. I think managers need to be teachers first – and technically competent second.

Making the transition from worker to manager is very difficult and it can be made even more difficult if you are being promoted from within the same department or peer group. One week you’re a co-worker and the next week you’re their manager. The things that got you noticed on the shop floor are important and there’s no question you’ll have to bring that knowledge and experience with you in your new position. But you’ll most likely have to add some new skills to your manager’s tool kit if you wanted to be noticed in the corner office.

What makes a worker promotable? What qualities does a worker have that makes them management material? Are you basing that decision of their technical ability or their ability to get along with – and teach others what they know? (Hard skills vs. soft skills) If you had to sit down and write-up a job description for a manager – what kinds of things would you include on that list? What jobs do managers do? And more importantly – what skills or key characteristics will a manager need to be able to accomplish those jobs?

Managing is about people. If you don’t like being around people – and helping people to be successful – then you are going to be a lousy manager. Managing is about giving your people the tools they’ll need to be able to do the job you’ve hired them to do. Managing is about knowing what your people do well and then putting them in positions where they will be able to play to their strengths. Managing is about making tough decisions that may impact some of your people in a negative way – but you do it anyways because you know it’s the right decision to make.

Successful managers of the 21st Century will be:

Those managers who understand they can’t do it alone. That they need to build collaborative teams and surround themselves with people who are capable of doing some other things better than they do. And then staying out of their way and letting them do it. The day of the micro-manager is over.

Those managers who understand that they need to create an environment that is conducive to learning. They understand that adults can learn new things – given the right set of circumstance and delivered in the right way. That not everyone learns the same way. The trick is to teach them in a style that they like.

Those managers who understand that they don’t need to know everything. That it’s OK to ask others for help or advice. That the more they include their people in the decision-making the process – the more likely their people will want to come along.

Those managers who can look at the mistakes their people will make as “teachable moments” – to coach them and to train them on what they’ll need to know – so those kinds of mistakes won’t happen again. If you aren’t delegating and teaching others what you know then you are robbing them of their opportunity to grow.

Those managers who understand that not everyone is motivated the same way – but everyone can be motivated. They understand that they need to know what their people’s aspirations are so that they can help them achieve them. They understand that if their people win – they will win and most importantly their clients will win.

I believe we’re not born knowing how to manage or lead others effectively. It’s a learned behavior. We all start out making certain assumptions based on our past experiences and perceptions as to the kind of role we think managers and leaders should play. But we also have come to know from experience that our perceptions may not always be correct, and that sometimes, we have to change our way of thinking if we are to become better at what we do. Today’s managers need to change the way they manage to stay in step with a changing workforce.

Think about that the next time you are looking to promote someone – does this candidate have the skills needed to teach others what he/she knows – and or the willingness to learn how? Same old same old – maintaining the status-quo won’t cut it anymore. – 🙂 Cheers,

Do You Want to Become a Better Manager? Try Managing a Cat 2

I was never a big fan of cats when I was growing up. It wasn’t because I didn’t like them – I just never had much use for them. I mean, what’s the point? They don’t fetch things; they don’t sit on command, roll over or play dead. And most of the time cats don’t come to you when you call them. They want everything on their terms.

The other knock I had on cats was the smell. (It’s like fish – I just couldn’t get past the smell). I knew if someone had a cat the moment I walked into their place. I now realize it had more to do with the cat owner’s hygiene practices and less to do with the cat. My older brother has a cat, but unless you saw the cat running around – you’d never know it. My brother is fanatical about cleanliness. (Some people – me included – might suggest that he is downright anal about it). He cleans his cat’s litter tray at least 3 times a day and sprinkles the kitty litter with deodorizer to ward off any offensive odors.

Have you ever met someone for the very first time and didn’t like them? For whatever reason, you just didn’t like them? You couldn’t put your finger on exactly why – you just didn’t like them. But after spending some time with them – and getting to know them better – did you change your mind? That’s like me and cats. My first impression about cats changed after baby sitting my ex-wife’s cat – Cali (As in calico – the coat of many colours) I now think Cats are kinda cool. I discovered that cats can be managed – you just need to manage them differently. If you think about it, the same can be said about managing people. One management style does not fit all. Managers will be far more successful managing others if they modify their management style to be more in-tune with the person (or in my case – the cat) they are working with. They will be far more receptive if you manage them in a style that they like.

Here are my top five tips for managing cats. Feel free to substitute cats for people when and where you see fit.

Be Patient: Cat’s perform better at their own pace. They will eventually do what you want them to do – it just may take longer than you’d like. Unless it’s something critical or urgent,try backing off – take a deep breath, and chill out. Be patient; learn to pick your battles. Sometimes you have to give up control to get control.

Be Forgiving: Cat’s don’t hold a grudge and you shouldn’t either. People make mistakes. And when they do, you need to get over it and move forward. Have your “Teachable Moment” and don’t keep punishing them for past transgressions. There is no future in the past; if you get my drift. They are ok – it’s what they did that wasn’t. Don’t try to change them – change what they did.

Be Consistent: Cat’s can be trained if you apply the “Rule” fairly and consistently. Being consistent is the key. Maintain your standards; don’t settle for less than what you want. Never, ever lower your standards. Standards should never be open for debate. How you get there – can be. If they know that you are going to call them on it – each and every time they allow the standard to slip – they will toe the line. Remember you teach people how to treat you. If they figure you’ll let them get away with a less than stellar performance – they will continue to give you a less than stellar performance.

Follow-Up: Cat’s do what you inspect not what you expect. Check in on them once in a while to see what they are up to. You need to monitor their performance. If left alone for too long you may discover that they have wandered off course. Managing is about finding a balance between over and under managing. Everyone likes to be managed a certain way. Find that way and manage them accordingly. Some need more direction and guidance than others.

Allow Playtime: Cat’s need their playtime. It can’t be all work all of the time. We all need some time to put our feet up on our desk and do absolutely nothing. We all need time to de-stress and recharge our batteries. Energized people are more productive and easier to be around.

So the next time you have an opportunity to baby sit a cat – try these five tips and see if it goes a little easier and less frustrating for you. 🙂 Cheers, (Oh – by the way. I now own two cats – Minnie and my ex-wife’s cat Cali)

Why Women Will Rule the Economy of the Future – Jordan Weissmann 1

“It may be the Cock that crows, but make no mistake that it’s the Hen who decides when and where to lay the egg” – Margaret Thatcher.  The numbers continue to tell the story. According to research conducted by The Centre for Women’s Business – more than 10.1 Million firms are owned by women – employing more than 13 Million people. Women are starting more small businesses than men and those businesses are more likely to still be in business five years after start-up. (These are American stats but the numbers indicate that women are outpacing men in Canada as well)

Gentlemen if that doesn’t get your attention than this article written by Jordan Weissmann  and published in The Atlantic should. If the past is an indicator of the future than women will eventually outpace men in earning potential. It has long been argued that those who stay in school and graduate eventually earn more.  Men are still being paid more than their female counter parts for doing the same job – but the number of female graduates vs. male graduates suggests that will soon change.

Women are staying in school longer and are producing more graduates than men.   Low paying – manual labour type jobs are disappearing for a number of reasons. Education is now king. Those that have it – will be in a better position to fill the higher paying jobs.   Mary Matalin, former counselor to President George W. Bush and Vice President Cheney was quoted  as saying – “Women around the World are rewriting history at a ferocious pace with or without mans permission”.  Yes Bob – “The times they are a changing”. Enjoy the read – Cheers, 🙂

Why Women Will Rule the Economy of the Future—in 1 Graph – The Atlantic.

Managers vs. Leaders – The Debate Continues 1

Do we manage more than we lead or lead more than we manage? Is there really that much a of a difference between the two to even bother trying to justify one over the other? A half-century ago Peter F. Drucker – who is considered to be the most influential management thinkers of all time – brought the practice of management to the forefront; and other notables have been trying to “one-up” him ever since. The debate will continue long after you’ve read this posting.

I’ve spent 40+ years managing and leading people, and based on my experiences I believe the two: managers and leaders, have more in common with one another – than not. They are  mutually inclusive of one another – not mutually exclusive of one another. The lines between the two are definitely blurred – if not disappearing all together.

“Leadership cannot simply delegate management; instead of distinguishing managers from leaders, we should be seeing managers as leaders, and leadership as management practiced well.” – Henry Mintzberg

The role of Manager and Leader is situationally based. You must insure that the day-to-day tasks that need to get done to make the organization work are being done (that’s managing). But you also need to spend some of your time thinking about where the organization needs to go to stay competitive and to maintain or grow your market share (that’s leading). To be successful, Managers and Leaders need to be able to communicate, educate and delegate effectively if they are going to manage the day-to-day operations of the organization, and / or implement the changes necessary to take the organization to where it needs to go. And … in order to do either of those jobs well, they need a variety of skills.

Both Managers and Leaders need to be able to:

  • Problem solve and resolve conflict
  • Build collaborative teams
  • Teach and mentor
  • Communicate and listen
  • Plan and forward think
  • Be patient, empathetic, flexible and open-minded.

Henry Mintzberg is right. Forget about being a leader – practice managing well and people will want to follow you. You may have been given the title of manager, or people may refer to you as their leader, but if no one is buying into what you are saying or choosing to follow you – then it really doesn’t matter what title you have. – Cheers, 🙂