Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Communication and Empowerment

When you speak with someone, can you look them in the eye? Are you a "crackberry" head? Are you addicted to power? Can you leave your job for more than two seconds, without being connected?

I love technology and guilty of being a geek (but a creative one) myself, so don't get me wrong about communication tools. The point is iPhones, and the like, are just that, tools.

While eating at a Waffle House, I noticed a nearby young couple sitting across from each other. For those not familiar with this restaurant chain, the place and tables are small. Each person, at this table, was on their respective devices. No verbal or visual communication. You see this scenario at the theater, in church, meetings, in the grocery store, everywhere. What was the point of being together?

Next, can work survive without you for an hour? A day? God forbid, a week? Think about this, a week's vacation. If the answer is no, you haven't done a good job of preparing and empowering your people or you're a candidate for a heart attack, because you're addicted to the power. Or both.

My management philosophy has proved to be valid and I share it with you.

    I do not get upset if a manager makes the wrong decision, as much as if they don't make a decision at all.

Mr. Whitacre, the General Motors' CEO, became upset when highly compensated executives came to him for a decision. I read, he sent them out of his office and told them they were paid to make those decisions. I applaud him. If managers can't make appropriate decisions, in their area of expertise or responsibility,  the wrong people are in these positions.

When I'm not connected via technology, I find myself creatively thinking. When your mind is at rest, great things come to the surface. This is a psychological truth, too deep to cover in a blog. Here's a simple example. When you lay down to sleep (assuming you do sleep), have you noticed your mind remembers things or new ideas pop into your head? If you haven't experienced this feeling, seek help.

Morals to this blog:
  • Talk with people. Practice with someone nearby, right now. Look them in the eye. This is called respect.
  • Review your management team, empower them as a subject matter expert. This is called respect. If you're a manager, seek empowerment.
  • Finally, turn off your device. First for 5 minutes, then 10; work up to a whole day and beyond.
Then, enjoy a nice conversation with someone at the Waffle House.

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