Category Archives: Management

Enjoying the Process (part 1)

Billy Blanks - Enjoys the ProcessWe’re all driven by the end goal of whatever projects we pour ourselves into. We invest so we have lots of money in 30 or so years. We write so people will read our thoughts and even comment. We play a game or sport so we can win at it. We go above and beyond at work so we gain recognition.

Finding end results that appeal to us is not hard at all. In the above examples, I believe everyone reading would be attracted to more money, more readers, more victories and more recognition. But that doesn’t mean we should all be investors, writers, athletes or blue collar all-stars.

In terms of how you spend most of your time, don’t choose based on the attractive end result; choose because you’ve found an end result in which you actually enjoy the process of getting there.

If you’ve ever met someone who is completely happy with their profession, it’s because they enjoy the process (the work) as much or more as they enjoy the end result. Which makes sense. We spend way too much time preparing and managing our little projects to not enjoy the process.

I would love to finish a triathlon some day. The idea of being the type of person that can complete a feat like that is extremely impressive. However, as of yet, I am not willing to go through the process of getting there. I’ve tried starting on several occasions throughout my life, and the same thing always happens: I don’t enjoy the process enough to keep it going.

At the same time, I love putting together market research reports. I love gathering the info, digging into it, finding little nuggets of info that probably only I will ever find interesting, gathering it all into a presentation that’s easy to read, and then presenting it to a group of ‘big dogs’ and waiting for their reaction. Sure, I love the end result, but I love just about everything that happens before to get to that point.

If you’re struggling with finding ‘that thing you do,’ start asking yourself which processes you enjoy the most. Find ways to spend your time doing what you enjoy. Or, if you already know what those processes are, start doing them more.

Similar Posts on Brett’s Blog:

  1. A Fancy Name for Failures
  2. Making Connections vs. Making Impressions

The Fallacy in Writing Your Own Job Description

There seems to be a disturbing trend in today’s workforce. Too many supervisors are asking their employees to write their own job description.

This is stupid, and speaks volumes about the management (basically, that it sucks).

A job description should be written to fill a need of the business. It’s purpose is not to communicate what an employee can do, wants to do, should do or hopes to do, but rather what the employee filling that position must do to fill the need designated by the business.

Therefore, if a manager asks you to make up your own job description, they’re basically telling you they don’t know what the business needs, and they don’t know what you’re doing there.

Unfortunately, too many managers are asking their employees to fill in the blanks and make up their job description. Often after they’ve been working in a certain position for quite some time (who knows what they’ve been doing up to this point). The manager may see it as an opportunity for feedback, or empowerment, or input, but it’s really just a result of either laziness or cluelessness, both of which are deadly.

If you’re a manager, know what you want. Write the job description, then find someone to fill it. Never ask someone to fill in the blanks when it comes to what you, and the business, expect them to be doing.

We Need More Organizers

Read this post and click the link on the Common Sense PR blog. The link highlights axioms of Fred Ross, Sr., and I haven’t read anything this good in a long, long time.

I appears as though what most of us are most impressed with are organizers, not leaders. Here are my favorite points from his list:

An organizer is not someone who leads but someone who gets behind people and pushes.

90% of organizing is follow-up.

Good organizers never give up – they get the opposition to do that.

To win the hearts and minds of people, forget the dry facts and statistics; tell them the stories that won you to the cause.

The only way to organize is to organize, not to sit around and jaw about it.

I dare you to read through the list and not find at least three points that hit home. Do us a favor and write your favorites in the comments below.

Making Connections vs. Making Impressions

Make a Connection Handshake - 200I lucked out this weekend and was able to meet and receive a presentation from Bruce Painter at a local DSWA event in Dallas. As detailed on his website, Bruce is a coach extrordinaire for both professionals and families, and he’s possibly best known as the author of The Giving Zone, a “roadmap for a contributing, winning, prosperous, and happy life.”

During his presentation, Bruce asked us all to simply greet each other, with the simple purpose of acknowledging the person you’re meeting. Sounds pretty basic, but in doing this with professionals who are clearly much better and more deliberate than I am, I realized something quite profound:

There’s a big difference between making an impression and making a connection.

I’m guilty of trying to make impressions. The signs of doing so go something like this: you often forget someone’s name, mainly because you never really heard it to begin with. You were too busy trying to think about what you were going to say next, how firm your hand shake is, and maybe the tone of your voice. Your primary concern is making a good impression.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to make a good impression, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to communicate effectively. However, it’s focused on you. You’re focused on how the person you’re meeting perceives your words, your posture, your vocal qualities, your hand shake. It’s very different from making a connection.

Making a connection focuses on the other guy. You try to relate to their name, their story, their words. You make genuine eye contact and you say things that are genuine responses, not canned. You value relationships enough to make hearing and understanding what they are saying is the priority right now.

Ironically, the best impressions are almost always made because a connection has been made. Yet, the mindset required for them both could not be more different.

Outside Looking In

The closer you get to something, the harder it is to clearly see it. Likewise, the further you get from something, the harder it is to clearly see it.

Try it with your computer screen to make this simple point come to life. Put your face about an inch from the screen. Is it as easy to read as it is when you’re sitting back at the chair at your desk? Of course not. You lose focus, and the white light actually hurts your eyes. If you do it for too long, you’ll get a headache.

Now, get up, and walk to the opposite side of the room from the screen. Can you read it? Of course not, and the further away you get, the more the page and words mush together into a sea of gray.

When you’re really into a project, be it work, family or whatever, you’re going to get so close to it, so hands-on, that your clarity on the situation is going to be obstructed. Stay there too long and it really affects your performance.

The analogy sparks two reactions for gaining perspective when you’re knee deep into a project:

  1. Take a step back. It’s rare in today’s business world for the strategically gifted to spend most of their time on producing strategies. Most of us, even at the senior level, are expected to produce the strategies AND oversee the execution. This is how you get too close to a situation, and why you must force yourself to take a step back.

    Plan for regular check-ups on your projects that answer these questions: a) What can be done to improve the execution of this project? b) Is the work I’m doing producing the results needed as defined by the original strategy? c) Is the original strategy still relevant, or has something happened that calls for a new strategy? d) If I keep doing what I’m doing, am I going to be pleased with the results?Keep these moments pretty regular and disciplined. Schedule them in Outlook. Write the questions out and fill in the answers. Most importantly, do something with your answers.

  2. Get someone else to step in. Ultimately, being as close as you are to a situation will form certain biases and opinions that you can’t shake regardless of what steps you take. That’s why you need someone to step in and help clarify things with a fresh perspective. These are the consultants and counselors that have expertise in what you’re doing and can give qualified feedback in a relatively short amount of time. These are also mentors and colleagues that you can depend on to shoot straight with you. This is not always friends and family, as they might hold much needed info back because they don’t want to hurt your feelings.

    These folks are the ones at the opposite end of the room who only see gray when they look at your screen. They need you to invite them to come sit down at your desk, take a look, get a little history from you and then be left alone for a little while so they can muster up their take on things. Their fresh take on things.

    The key here is not so much what they give you, but how you receive what they give. You must be convinced that you need a fresh perspective and that it’s very possible, even probable, that you could be doing some things better.

Forrester Identifies 6 Characteristics of Marketing Leaders

Chris shares the scoop on what Forrester identifies as the six factors that make a marketing leader successful.

They are all good and insightful. However, notice how the last two deal more with overall management and corporate leadership. As we realize that marketing  should always be the strategic driver of every company, the importance of management for the marketer will only increase.

Playing Dumb

Playing dumb is better than playing smart.

When someone asks a questions that you think you should know, think of the possible reactions and outcomes of these two replies:

  1. You play smart, acting as if you know exactly what’s being asked of you. You hem and haw, throwing around office speak that will hopefully get you by, end the conversation, and give you time to google whatever the topic is hopefully before you have to talk about it again. It makes you nervous, makes for a horrible interaction and the guy you’re talking to knows that you’re full of it.
  2. You play dumb, asking more questions to clarify, even questions you might already know the answer to. The conversation starts rolling, your counterpart feels like an appreciated expert because you’re asking him questions and you appear to be the type of person who really wants to dig into things and get to the bottom of it, in a genuine way.

At a former job, I worked with a CFO who was a master at playing dumb. He had no reservations in asking questions most execs would think they should know instinctively and therefore never ask. More importantly, though, is that he clearly asked such open, obvious questions not so much to learn the answers, but rather to hear your thoughts on the topic. In a way, it was an excellent form of management – it made me feel like I most know something, since the CFO is asking; it helped me relax around one of the head execs; and it allowed him to get a good understanding of my capabilities and planning. Most importantly, it culminated into an outstanding professional (and personal) relationship.

So, can you be smart enough to play dumb?

(For the record, being dumb is most often NOT better than being smart, ok?)