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Archive for the ‘Change’ Category

Twitter’s Evan Williams: Knowing Oneself

In ! Jen, Change, News on Tuesday, November 2, 2010 at 11:49 pm

I’ve been absent from this blog since June. But seeing the high view stats, I’m guessing RSS robots must check for updates, so here’s one.

News of interest I’ve come across in the last week have included that of Twitter founder Evan Williams stepping down as CEO. While it seems Williams had his fair share of Emperor’s new clothes moments with people- and general management missteps, it’s notable that he had the judgment and humility to know where his talent better fits. And remarkable that he followed through with action.

It goes without saying the higher up, the harder it is to take such action. But I’m guessing Twitter will be the stronger, in changes yet to be forecast from Williams’ title change alone. Eyes on!

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Spring Pruning: Less May Result In More

In ! Jen, Change on Monday, April 5, 2010 at 12:12 am

I just came across this column with an elegant recommendation to see things differently. Some nice takeaways:

Every enterprise, business or nonbusiness, must constantly abandon the obsolete and the unproductive. Every organization is likely to be loaded down with yesterday’s promises. These include activities and programs that no longer contribute; the ventures that looked so enticing when started, but now, five years later, are still unproductive.

The best therapy for any organization from the point of view of performance is to purge itself of mediocrities. Systematic sloughing off of yesterday frees energies and resources. It makes available the people and funds required for new things.

An organization, whatever its objectives, must therefore be able to get rid of yesterday’s tasks and thus free its energies and resources for new and more productive tasks.

This could apply to so, so many things. Not as easy as it sounds, of course. For those who garden, you know how terrifying it was that first time to prune back say, rosebush branches. Will this really work? I’ve just spent a whole season sprinkling expensive bone meal and rose food and now I’m slicing back on the growth? But sure enough, you’re rewarded with bigger blooms.

Working With A Boss You Don’t Trust

In ! Jen, Careers, Change, Employee Tips, General Work on Tuesday, March 2, 2010 at 3:33 am

A friend recently asked for advice on working with her manager whom she doesn’t trust. I immediately started sharing ways she could try to reestablish trust and she cut me off. Things were too far-gone, she said. She had been there, done that. Now she just needed survival advice: how could she work day-to-day with this manager she didn’t trust—someone who would never, ever, win her trust? Polling a few friends who specialize in this area, we came up with 16 ways:

  1. Start planning your exit strategy. If you feel the trust damage is irreparable, you cannot continue to work for this manager. You must start planning your graceful exit. This will: a) navigate routes for you to get out of there, and b) increase your confidence and spirits in no insignificant way. This one current job is not the alpha and omega. Most importantly, your confidence will improve when you start envisioning a better situation.
  2. Depersonalize this. To the extent that you have made a good faith effort to make this work, as you bide your time looking for another job, take your boss’s behavior less personally. It’s not you, it’s him. You’re likely not the first, and sadly, you’re likely not the last to have this experience with him.
  3. Don’t gossip. Don’t engage in any gossip about your boss. Don’t engage in any gossip with the boss. If the boss initiates—or if anyone initiates gossip about your boss, change the subject or walk away. Don’t acknowledge, agree, or disagree on whatever the deets are—just get away.
  4. Document expectations. After meetings and after key events, follow up with an email to your boss that recaps your conversation. “As we discussed earlier this afternoon, I’ll be providing you with the following deliverables by the end of the week.” This is a good practice in general, but when you’re concerned about not getting credit, or getting slammed for doing something wrong, you need to protect yourself by ensuring you understand what’s expected of you, and leaving a little paper trail to which you can refer back.
  5. Ask regularly: am I meeting your expectations? Ask this on a specific activity, project, and in general. Doing this has at least two significant advantages. First, it invites feedback that may be valuable—feedback that may or may not have been shared without your first soliciting it. Secondly, it pieces together a fuller picture of your performance. Presumably, you’ll address negative feedback straightaway, so you’ll be on a positive feedback path
  6. Focus on behaviors. Ask for examples. Get as specific as possible. Don’t focus on internal motivations or intentions. What you see and deliver is what counts right now.
  7. Get stakeholder feedback. Collect kudos from people you work with, internal customers and clients, and ensure your manager is aware of your good performance from others’ perspectives. Do this with understated elegance, however. If you slather it on, it’ll have the extreme opposite effect of being attractive information. You want to give your manager a well-informed, multiperspective picture of the value you bring to the organization.
  8. Underpromise, overdeliver. Turn it on to 11 and really shine in your performance. Don’t be a clockroach and don’t have your performance just “get by.”
  9. Don’t act like a victim. This situation is not your identity. God forbid your manager is one of those people who gets a sadistic thrill out of inflicting grief on others. But don’t hand over your power by showing your resentment or fear.
  10. Derive what you’re getting out of this. Get outside your head and try to be clinical about what you’re experiencing. It may not feel like it now, but think of your boss and working with him as being a good story you’ll tell in a future interview. The story of how you remained the consummate professional and did your best work while working with a challenging manager.
  11. Invest in your development. When your boss says “you need to work on XcompetencyX,” don’t argue the point. Find a powerful seminar that addresses that perceived deficiency, one that is known for parallel power networking. In my hometown of Chicago, we have the Executives Club and Economic Club among others, which have a solid reputation—and intimidating power player member and event attendee lists. Get there and…
  12. Network your heart out! It doesn’t matter what level or what position you are. Be prepared with at least five intelligent & relevant things to share and you can make yourself memorable. Always have business cards or personal networking cards on your person.
  13. Remember your priorities. Keep pics of your family and friends in your office/cube to remind you of what’s really important. Start a gratitude journal: simply writing what you are grateful for on a daily basis. Contribute in other ways by volunteering in your community and giving back. This job experience does not define you unless you let it.
  14. Disconnect trust and respect. You don’t have to trust your manager. You don’t have to respect your manager as a person. But you do have to respect his position, level and authority. At least until you’re out from under his management. Compartmentalize these two things and you’ll find it easier to deal with him.
  15. Report legitimate harassment. If your manager’s engaging in legitimate harassment, you must tell someone. Keep in mind, there is no legal protection from asshole behavior. However, if it is conduct of a sexually harassing nature, or legitimately harassing nature, consult with HR or the Policy Hotline, or someone internally in a position of power you trust. Approach your concern in as objective a manner as possible—your credibility is on the line, too. And keep in mind there were scads of people before you who have brought forward concerns of questionable merit. Stick to the observable facts, be prepared, and stay emotionally neutral. Hysterics, histrionic flailing and melodrama will erode your content credibility. (Sorry, just being honest.) Just give your employer a chance to correct the problem. At minimum, ask for suggestions on what you can do to help your situation. Everyone likes someone willing to take action himself.
  16. Don’t perpetuate the madness. Take from Shakespeare’s line in Romeo & Juliet: “he was as civil as an orange.” Strive to be always civil and professional. Take solace in knowing that everyone ultimately gets their comeuppance. In your next job, release the baggage of the former….get your wings stronger and fly!

What Matters Now Riff-Off: Reality

In ! Kristy, Change, Leaders on Tuesday, December 22, 2009 at 9:53 am

REALITY

 …There’s no such thing as “steady state” anymore… change is the new black.

 … If you wait until things calm down to launch your project, charter a team, talk to people about their careers, or otherwise get work done, it’ll never happen.

 …Coming to terms personally with constant change, and then leading your team through constant change, is the most important thing you can do as a leader in the current reality.

 … It’s also the most difficult thing to do as a leader… it’s one of those management “perks” they forget to tell you about in the interview.

 … It can be done… with transparency, authenticity, humility/servant leadership, and a keen sense of:

  • Where you are in the change process and what you are doing to help yourself navigate successfully
  • How each individual team member is reacting to the change at any given moment, and how you need to flex your approach to help each of them succeed

 … It’s tempting to gloss over the difficulty of change and take the easy way out.

 … Signs you’re taking the easy way out include:

  •  “I sent a very thorough email about the change… what’s the problem?”
  • (or worse), “Corporate Communications sent a very thorough email about the change… what’s the problem?”
  • “Our external consultant is handling change management; they’ll figure all that stuff out for us.”
  • “The change is long over; time to suck it up and move on.”

 … Constant change requires that we find our grounding, stability and clarity in a place outside of work. And this is not a bad thing at all.

 … Change is exhilarating, challenging, and it can fuel your fears and your cynicism… or your joy and your passion. The cool part is, you get to choose. Choose wisely, peeps!

(Bring it, JLO.)

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