Thursday, November 29, 2018

People - Part II

People - Part II

As my head spins about all the productivity and measurement programs available to all organizations, listed below, there is one element required in all of them - People.
  • Lean
  • Kaizen
  • Six Sigma
  • ISO
  • Scrum
  • Agile
  • Waterfall
  • KPI
  • Plethora of smaller metric tools
I have worked with startups, small and medium size businesses (SME), and large corporate internal departments and not one of them can exist, improve, or grow without people. Yes, you can use software to measure productivity, output, KPIs, etc., but a person needs to interpret and make business decisions based on the data.

True confession; I love the show The Profit. Marcus Lemonis displays personal strengths and weakness in helping businesses survive, aka humanity. Spoiler Alert: here is the theme prevalent in most episodes - weak and/or change resistant leadership, lack of basic business financial acumen, and most importantly, people skills.

The purpose of this blog post is to repeat my personal business axiom, "If the people grow, the company will grow." Invest in your people, which can be as simple as listening to them. You may not need any of the programs listed above.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

It's All About People

The title of my website displays the convergence of People, Process and Technology, but nothing can occur without people.

Process and technology cannot function separate from people. People write and follow the process. People write and execute code. People communicate with people to achieve a goal. Teams cannot exist without people. Customers are comprised of people, whether internal or external of the organization. People are the key to any successful project. 

People skills should be the highest valued acumen, in any successful organization.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Leadership’s Role in Lateral Conflict

There is always a vertical manager hierarchy in every organization. Some companies this hierarchy is short, others can be quite layered. When it comes to problem solving protocol, there are typically rules to follow. One well known rule is you never leap frog your direct reporting manager. This is proven political and career ending suicide. I want to address a lessor known, or possibly not practiced, management protocol regarding lateral conflict resolution.

When conflict arises between intradepartmental team members, it’s leaderships’ role to resolve it, while retaining the team member’s relationship.

Here are the steps that have worked in my experiences:
  1. One or both of the conflicting team members contacts their direct manager and explains the situation
  2. The direct manager contacts the non-direct member’s manager
  3. The two, or more, managers involved in the situation discuss resolution, independent of the team members (this does not exclude input from the team member)
  4. These managers explain the resolution to their direct reports

The benefit from this conflict resolution approach preserves the day-to-day working relationship of the team members.

This protocol can be effective at any level of management. I would hope the higher up the leadership chain the conflict rises, the quicker the solution, based on all the factors contributing to this level’s position. Too often, conflict resolution is restricted to the team member and reporting manager. This eliminates the other parties involved in the conflict and reduces resolution success, at least in the long term.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Is it real or is it Rhetoric?

Companies love buzzwords. Every industry has them and many are common between them. What is their etymology? Is it generational? What is the purpose?

I’ve been involved with companies where buzzwords we literally comical. In a roundtable meeting with "C" level executives, the CEO would laugh at you, if you used a buzzword in your update. He even created on-the-rock glasses with the current buzzwords printed on them. Other companies have distributed posters to incentivize associates to be "team players" or "innovative."

The real question is "Why do buzzword exist?" In the case of motivation, are the effective? I have an answer, "It depends." I purport the axiom, "Put your money where your mouth is." Take the word "game-changer" or "disruptor" if the company takes an associate’s suggestion and implements it, then it’s real. Take the word "empower". This buzzword has been around for decades. If an associate takes an initiative and gets reprimanded, then it’s rhetoric.

Personally, I prefer quotations over buzzwords. The quote doesn’t need to be from a famous person, and least of all, from an actor. As long as it is positive, truthful, and/or inspires action, I like it. I’ll share two I came across in preparing for this blog.

There are only three measurements that tell you nearly everything you need to know about your organization’s overall performance: employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and cash flow.
Jack Welch

Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.
Stephen R. Covey

How many companies adhere to these words of wisdom? Only the successful ones!

If you’re up for some more buzzword fun, here are two links I enjoyed researching this subject.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The Perfect Team

There are many articles on Millennials in the workforce, with some comparing them to Baby Boomers.  To be fair, I read these articles as generalization. People must be viewed for their individual merits, experience, education, most of all, skill sets and company/position fit.

So, what does this have to do with teams? It might be obvious - diversity. Currently, I’m using my decades of project management experience, including managing project managers, from multiple industries, to online banking software. I am teamed with a Millennial. When our team was first formed we were literally inverse ages. Our diversity does not stop with age, we are different ethnicities and gender.

The Perfect Team - Millennial and Baby Boomer. We work extremely well together, which like any team, is based on respect. One of the main differences is our problem solving approach. Having different approaches, which at times is exhausting, augments a collaborative environment providing a sound solution. Our collaboration does not stop with problem solving, but extends to process, customer focus, all facets related to our responsibilities.

This blog post is specific to our skill sets, but I hope to illustrate how diversity can benefit any company, by blending Millennials with Baby Boomers.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Long Distance Presentations

In today's world, people travel less and present more using Skype or similar tools to conduct presentations over the internet. I recently did a Presentation on Presenting to a group of new staff members. Here is the outline of that presentation.

Skype Presentation Training
PowerPoint Suggestions
  • All type the same font – no more than two; can include italic and bold
  • Headlines and subheads – consistent location, size and color
  • All type off black – projected on a large screen, the contrast is too stark if full black
  • Standardize the format and color scheme – see previous bullets
  • Animate by presentation points – if you don’t your audience will always read ahead of you
  • Avoid transitions – if used, use only one style
  • Use your “arrow” keys, not your mouse. It’s quieter
  • Include an opening and closing slide
    • First Slide – Company Name you are presenting and date
    • Last side – “Thank You” 
  • Customize to your audience

Presenting Guidelines
  • First Rule – Be yourself
  • Be prepared – practice speaking aloud – go in an empty room
    • Record and listen to yourself
    • Mock presentation with feedback from coworkers
  • Be set up early
  • Show confidence – even if you’re not
  • Don’t be afraid to laugh or goof up – correct yourself and move on
  • Have a glass of water available
  • Have Pencil and Paper for questions available
  • Be conscious of repetitive speech - aaa, you know, um, and the word “like” (if you’re from the 1990’s)
  • If you smile while giving the presentation, it will show in your voice
  • Know you represent your company and the product
  • Pace yourself, i.e. not too fast or too slow – Stay in allocated time
  • Explain you will allow interruptions or pause for questions at given time or the end
  • Don’t read the bullets verbatim, unless it’s succinct
    • By using click animations, the audience will read it
  • Avoid long paragraphs, unless you explain why or break it down into multiple slides
  • Use a script – but don’t sound like your reading

How to Handle Dead Air – The audience may be gathering and the phone is live
  • Telling jokes is very risky – avoid
  • Know a little about the audience – location, recent news, traffic
  • Weather always works