If you have (or someone you know has) problems with employee alignment and/or career development (i.e. “getting the right people in the right seats on the right bus”), this brief video from the Monty Python team may well provide some solutions.
To access a wealth of worldly wisdom and practical advice, please click here.
Here is an excerpt from an article written by Jeff Haden for MoneyWatch, The CBS Interactive Business Network. To check out an abundance of valuable resources and obtain a free subscription to one or more of the MoneyWatch newsletters, please click here.
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Pay only goes so far. Higher salaries are like the bigger house syndrome: Move into a bigger house and initially it feels roomier, but after awhile larger becomes the new normal.
Employees don’t automatically perform at higher levels if wages are higher because commitment, dedication, and motivation are not based on pay. No matter how high the salary, if you treat employees poorly they won’t care — about their jobs or your business.
Here are [four of] eight reasons employees don’t care:
1. No freedom. Best practices are definitely important, but not every task deserves a best practice or micro-managed approach. Autonomy breeds engagement and satisfaction. Autonomy also breeds innovation. Even manufacturing and heavily process-oriented positions have room for different approaches or paths. Decide which process battles are worth fighting; otherwise, let employees have some amount of freedom to work they way they work best.
2. No targets. Goals are fun. (I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t at least a little bit competitive.) Targets create a sense of purpose and add meaning to even the most repetitive tasks. Without a goal to shoot for, work is just work.
3. No sense of mission. We all like to feel a part of something bigger. Striving to be worthy of words like “best” or “largest” or “fastest” or “highest quality” provides a sense of purpose. Let employees know what you want the business to achieve; how can they care about your dreams if they don’t know your dreams?
4. No clear expectations. While every job should include decision-making latitude, every job also has basic expectations regarding the way certain situations should be handled. Criticize an employee for providing a refund today even though last week refunds were standard procedure and you’ve lost the employee. (How can I do a good job when I don’t know what doing a good job means?) When standards change, always communicate those changes first — then stick with them. And when you don’t, explain why this particular situation is different.
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To read the complete article, please click here.
Jeff Haden learned much of what he knows about management as he worked his way up the printing business from forklift driver to manager of a 250-employee book plant. Everything else he knows, he has picked up from ghostwriting books for some of the smartest CEOs he knows in business. He has written more than 30 non-fiction books, including four Business and Investing titles that reached #1 on Amazon’s bestseller list. He’d tell you which ones, but then he’d have to kill you.
Visit his website at: www.blackbirdinc.com
To paraphrase Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can earn an MBA from a top business school or you can’t, you’re probably right.”
This review is of the Third Edition of a book first published in 2002.
My comments are based on three assumptions:
o That you are determined to earn an MBA degree
o That you intend to apply to a business school that offers an MBA degree
o You are convinced that what earning that degree requires is worth it
Obviously, the “terms of engagement” for applying to any of the top business schools have changed since2002. Even this revised and updated edition cannot be expected to accommodate all of those changes, nor can the co-authors, Omari Bouknight and Scott Shrum, guarantee success if all of their “proven strategies for getting into top schools” are followed. I highly recommend that the Preface to this latest edition be read and re-read. It is refreshingly candid.
As I began to work my way through the narrative, I was again reminded of the fact that anyone who aspires to earn a graduate degree in any field of study (medicine, dentistry, law, humanities, natural science, mathematics, and engineering as well as business) needs a cohesive and comprehensive game plan. For those who aspire to earn an MBA degree, I know of no other single source that offers more and better information, insights, and advice than does this one.
Bouknight and Shrum carefully organize their material within (you guessed it) a covey of seven chapters that cover a series of subjects that correlate with the sequence of stages that comprise the application process. In Appendix A, they provide additional admissions essays; in Appendix B, additional résumés.
Obviously, it remains for each reader to determine what is most valuable among the material provided. However, all readers will appreciate Bouknight and Shrum’s skillful use of devices that serve two separate but related purposes: they focus attention on what is especially important, and, they facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review of that material. I presume to suggest that each reader highlight that material. The devices include checklists, > points, statistical analyses, graphic illustrations, and FAQ sections in each chapter.
By the time the reader arrives at Chapter 6, she or he is well-prepared to formulate an MBA Game Plan, one that includes 11 components listed on Page 237 and then examined in the material that follows. Then what happens? Bouknight and Shrum respond to that question, then correctly note, “The one person who controls your application’s fate more than anyone is you.” That is a key point. When completing the application process, the assistance that Omari Bouknight and Scott Shrum offer in their book will be of incalculable value, as will this advice from Oscar Wilde: “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.”
Adam Bryant conducts interviews of senior-level executives that appear in his “Corner Office” column each week in the SundayBusiness section of The New York Times. Here are a few insights provided during an interview of Katherine Hays is the chief executive of GenArts, a visual effects technology company based in Cambridge, Mass. She says she has learned to step back more and to have her employees become the “owners” of their work.
To read the complete interview as well as Bryant’s interviews of other executives, please click here.
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Ensuring That Ideas Are Employee-Owned
Bryant: When was the first time you were somebody’s boss?
Hays: The first time I had a real leadership position was at Massive, a video-game advertising company that I co-founded. We started that from an idea, and built it into a company with international offices before selling it to Microsoft. You wear every hat at the beginning, and then you gradually hire a team and you begin handing off some of those specific hats.
Bryant: Was that a natural transition for you into a leadership position?
Hays: I would say some things were natural, and others were not. One of the core things that is important to leadership is passion for the vision. I’m not sure I could sell anything I didn’t believe in. And honesty and fairness are also key. Someone was doing a reference check on me at some point a few years back, and people said that I’m extremely honest and fair, and that was one of the greatest compliments somebody could give me, because those are really core to being a great leader.
Bryant: What else have you learned about leadership?
Hays: It’s important to keep things in context, whether it’s good news or bad news. Either can be very distracting to the team. I’m pretty good at keeping those in context and focusing on the task at hand. Some of the boards I’ve worked with are really good at that as well. They just don’t overreact, no matter what the news is.
Those things came naturally to me. That being said, I think being a great leader is like being a great athlete. You can start with some natural abilities, but what a shame if you’re not continuing to build on them very deliberately, and continuing to kind of push yourself out of your comfort zone, trying to understand what you’re missing, and what you can learn from other people.
Bryant: Any other lessons?
Hays: Being very good at hiring people is key. And I would say I made two mistakes in hiring. Both times they had all the right answers to the questions, amazing backgrounds, really strong résumés, but my gut just said, hmm, this doesn’t feel right. And I didn’t listen to myself, and I hired them, and it was a mistake. I couldn’t articulate what it was that didn’t feel right, which is why I think I convinced myself to hire them. But something felt less than genuine about them.
So the lesson there was, at the end of the day, even if everything seems to check out, you listen to your gut. And I’ve given that guidance to a lot of my team. If they come in and they say, “You know, something doesn’t feel right,” I say, “Don’t hire them.” Far better to pass on someone than to bring the wrong person into the team.
Bryant: What about lessons when you were younger?
Hays: I learned as an athlete — I rowed for four years in college — that you have to be present in the moment, and you can’t be distracted by something you just did that was really good, or by the fact that you’re a little bit behind in a race. You can’t focus on what’s just happened because you can’t change it. That’s not to say we shouldn’t pause and congratulate ourselves, but you have to balance that with maintaining focus on what the next steps are. You learn as an athlete to say: “Great, we won that race, but what are the things we could have done better? Because we have a race next week.”
Bryant: What about your parents? What kind of influence did they have?
Hays: Both my parents started their own businesses and built them from scratch. My father runs a pest control company, and my mom bought apartments, restored them and sold them. So a lot of our discussions around the dinner table were about solving business problems. It was just something that seemed very natural to me. It wasn’t just a job for them — they were building something that they were excited about.
Bryant: What are some specific business lessons you learned from your parents?
Hays: Probably the biggest thing I learned from my father was to focus on the customer. Talk to the customer, and if you ask them in the right way and you really listen, you will find out what you need to be successful in your business. They can give you a huge amount of guidance in pointing you to the right answer, and helping you realize something that you might have been missing. In his business, he realized that it wasn’t just about controlling the bugs. It was really about happy residents. You’re going into their apartment or home, and they wanted a technician who had a tucked-in monogrammed shirt, and a reminder the day before that they were going to be there. All of those elements were actually more important, or certainly as important, as the pest control itself. And that allowed him to build a business that has sent all of his kids to Ivy League colleges.
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Adam Bryant, deputy national editor of The New York Times, oversees coverage of education issues, military affairs, law, and works with reporters in many of the Times‘ domestic bureaus. He also conducts interviews with CEOs and other leaders for Corner Office, a weekly feature in the SundayBusiness section and on nytimes.com that he started in March 2009. In his new book, The Corner Office: Indispensable and Unexpected Lessons from CEOs on How to Lead and Succeed, (Times Books), he analyzes the broader lessons that emerge from his interviews with more than 70 leaders. To read an excerpt, please click here. To contact him, please click here.