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  • Mertxe Pasamontes 10:02 am on October 5, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , psychocoaching business   

    Everything is personal 

    Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

    One of our most widespread desires is to be able to draw the line between the personal and the professional.  It is a term that we take very seriously.  And it is not a bad concept as a way of establishing secure boundaries between work and personal life.  But we should not lose sight of the fact that everything is personal. We are just as much people when we are carrying out our work as we are when we are outside work, when we experience personal conflict with others, when we experience emotions…  It may be that a person prioritizes certain behaviours in a professional environment and tends to avoid certain attitudes that are common in personal life whilst adopting some specific behavioural patterns.  But underneath it all, you are still you.

    It is important to be aware of this for various reasons.  One reason it is important to be aware of, is that the time one spends at work is also part of life, it is not a separate reality.  So what happens within that period of time does not only have an impact on your professional life, but also on your personal life.  We are not machines and life is not made up of compartmental blocks.  It may be useful sometimes to “leave problems at work” but we must be aware that part of that emotional fingerprint is taken away with us and that they are only left behind to be taken care of at a later time.  They are not left behind to be avoided altogether or to put the solution on hold because this would later take its toll.  And this does not mean that people must live everything that happens on a personal level, personalising the issue or identifying oneself totally with it.  It is just a reminder that you as a person, along with your identity and emotions, are always present like it or not.

    This is why it is important to choose a job you like within a human and pleasant environment. I realise we are at a time of crisis and that it is sometimes difficult to choose but this should not be a reason for it not to be a legitimate option.  To have the chance to do something you like and feel that you can grow (both professionally and personally) and feel that you are treated well wherever you are.  An oppressive boss is someone that does not respect you.  A colleague who is a sycophantic climber does not have your best interest in mind, and the list goes on.  And the reason one must reject these situations and get back to being oneself is that everything is personal which is why it affects you personally.

    And lastly, remember that any intervention that takes place within a company should be clear on one thing, that we are dealing with people.  They are not resources.  They are people.  Though I will tackle this topic specifically another day.

    Do you believe that everything is personal?

     

     
  • Mertxe Pasamontes 10:39 am on July 13, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , psychocoaching business   

    Switch off: can you manage it? 

    Estimated reading time 3.5 minutes

    We are entering the vacation period and most of us are looking forward to a well deserved rest following the working period (those of us that are lucky enough to be able to, as unfortunately many cannot). The problem is that on occasions, we cannot or do not know how to avoid taking those work issues or problems on vacation with us.  We find it difficult to “switch off”. Some people find it tougher than others because their type of job requires some level of connection with their usual day to day. But the real question here does not concern something physical, like having to check emails or your cell once a day. You can do that and be completely switched off the rest of the time, or you may not need to make contact even once but still be mentally online.  Because the issue in question as you will have guessed, is to switch off mentally.

    One of the easiest ways to help switch off mentally is to leave things in order before going away. Traditionally, we split the year into two halves. One half coincides with Christmas and Hanukkah and the beginning of the New Year and the other with summer and the vacation period.  It is more common to review the past year at the beginning of the new year and set ourselves New Year “resolutions”.  It is not so common to do this in summer, however, I do think it is a good idea.  A look back as to how the first part of the year has gone can help us review how things are going, which of the set objectives are being met and which ones need amending.  If we do this before we go on vacation, we can have a picture of where we are with regards to our resolutions and establish where we want to be for the duration of the year.  Doing this exercise allows us organize ourselves before we leave.  You can add the most practical aspects you need to carry out here: complete tasks, place orders you will not be able to carry out while you are away, leave details of how you can be contacted if an issue arises that could be necessary or of importance to you etc…  What is most important, is that you leave with your head “in order”.

    Later comes the most complicated issue: letting go.  Letting go means stop clinging on, facing one’s own fear of loss and allowing things to drift away. It is having that capability to accept that you cannot always control everything, and while you are gone, unexpected things may happen and you will not be there to resolve them. It is also being able to accept that, even when you are there, sometimes there are things that cannot be resolved. It is about dancing with life as your partner, dancing alongside what you have, really living life in the here and now. And the here and now of your vacation is the experience you will be living, whether it is on the beach, the mountain, the city, in a village, at home or abroad.  It is as the Zen proverb says: empty your cup.  Accept that things come and go, that everything comes to an end and that everything changes. Emptying our cup allows new things to enter so that we may embark upon new learning.

    In the end what is most important is that our vacation, and moreover, our lives, do not end up being just 15 days in August (if you are interested, check out the short film in the link).  Enjoy every minute of your time on vacation.  If you do this now, it will be even easier to do this during working periods also.

    I will leave you with a haiku, a sample poem about enjoying the moment:

    The moon descends,

    swift is the tide,

    summer daybreak

    Buson

    What are you going to do in order to switch off?  Are you capable of letting go?

    See you again in September!!!  But if you miss me during the summer, you can read some posts in my blog, this year our summer will be Zen.

     

     
  • Mertxe Pasamontes 12:20 pm on June 22, 2011 Permalink | Reply
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    Innovate or die 

    Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

    One of the most commonly used words over the last few years is innovation.  Innovation has been on the lips of many including politicians, executives, entrepreneurs, researchers etc…  But using it often does not necessarily mean it is applied, especially in the more traditional and conservative business contexts.  Innovation is risky and means exposing oneself to error. The problem is if we do not innovate, we end up having to face the well known phrase: Reinvent yourself, or die.

    Even when things are going well and your company or business is working well, it is still necessary to improve products as well as services. In addition to this, in the context of the economical crisis, innovation is truly essential.  Clinging on to the known when it is not working will only lead to downfall sooner or later.  The problem is that innovation however good it may sound, leads slap, bang into resistance to change. Whether or not we care to admit it, change is challenging for us and forces us to vere off course from our mental maps and behave in a different manner.   And this, is not always to our liking.

    There are companies such as in the technological sector, that carry innovation in their DNA.  It is something that they do not even have to consider as it already forms part of their way or working.  Nonetheless, even these companies risk dying from success if at a given point in time, they become fixated with a formula that works and never gets changed. Others may overtake.  Things get a little more complicated when we are faced with very bureaucratical companies (in which the innovation flow moves with difficulty within overly staid departments) or SMEs torwards mainly the small-medium sized that are barely allowed to have people dedicated to innovation.

    But true innovation from where really amazing ideas come from, is not the type that is produced from a R&D department (that could be very useful and necessary!) if not that is createdand arises from each and every one within the organisation. If you have a department “innovating”, you will be able to have some great ideas but if all of your people have that same attitude, the amount of ideas would be immense.  What is more, only the person in touch with certain issues or problems would be able to see what needs doing.  The recepcionist answering client calls during a campaign for company ‘X’ knows their client’s needs better than anybody and know how to provide them with a better answer, even though nobody may listen to it.  I am speaking about a real case now, not just an example.

    Happy employees of whom we spoke recently, are usually more innovative employees than those have given in to the inner dismissal.  This requires brave leaders with “good self esteem”, who can really empower their workers, who are not afraid of being taken over by them.  Again, I am referring to a real case, people who prefer to ignore good ideas simply because they did not come up with them or they are frightened they will seem “inferior” to their own team members.  And the only thing they achieve is to slow down the process. And I insist that innovating is a big step to take.  Not only does it mean one must not fear makings mistakes, but also to give more freedom to collaborators and allow them to show initiative and listen to their proposals.  It is not about giving orders but about leadership. And leadership in today’s company means  listening, sharing and collaborating in order to be truly 2.0.  In addition, just by being so internally, means you portray this externally.  As some thesis state in the Cluetrain Manifesto:  Nowadays,the organigram is hiperconnected, not hierarchical. An appreciation for practical knowledge is more important than the abstract authority. Administrative “dashboard” styles arise from and support burocracy, power struggles and a general paranoid culture.  Paranoia kills conversation.  This is its strategy.  But the lack of open conversation is what kills businesses.

    Do you know of any innovative conpanies?  Do you work in one of them?


     
  • Mertxe Pasamontes 11:46 am on June 8, 2011 Permalink | Reply
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    Happy employees? 

    Estimated reading time: 3.5 minutes

    A few years ago, the idea that employee happiness makes them more productive than their unhappiness entered the business world.  A few days ago, an article in the País Magazone, More happiness, more productivity, explained that there are even courses being created such as Designing Happiness at Standford University to teach leaders to “create” companies in which people can really fulfill themselves and feel happy within their jobs.  In this way, the company wins as it can get its employees’ best.  Jobs for “Director of Happiness” can even be found, referring to people who are capable of creating working environments like the ones described above.

    The problem usually arises when there is only a partial vision of the reality, taken to be the whole, which believes that a fuzzball or a videogame zone or chillout area is enough for employees to be happy.  This trivializes something as complex as personal happiness, because only a few levels are looked at (essentially, the environment, which is the simplest) and the rest is not taken into consideration.

    This change in the way of thinking, following Bateson and Dilts models on neurological levels, should work in the following ways. Bear in mind that in this model, the levels operate from top to bottom; this means that whatever changes in the top levels (the last ones in the list) affects the bottom ones but it does not imply that what changes in the bottom affects the top.  So then:

    • Environment: Everything that has to do with the place in which people find themselves, with the scenery.  The chillout areas and those previously mentioned would be the first step necessary in order for people to feel good.  If I am in a dark room with no windows or ventilation, it will be difficult for me to feel at ease.  But the impact will remain within the environment.
    • Behaviors: In order for “happiness” to be possible, employees need to have a wide range of “allowed” activities.  It’s no use having a pingpong table if I can’t even express my opinion or have it taken into consideration.  Or if I am penalized if I take the initiative.
    • Capabilities and abilities: Some may need new personal resources for some of these changes to take place, whether they are technological or emotional (e.g. Emotional Intelligence) and interpersonal.  The company should provide access to these resources (courses, coaching, etc) and management should also learn these new skills.  If not, the system will crack at this point, as it is demanding new skills that you have not yet developed.
    • Beliefs:  There is no point making these changes if we don’t actually believe in them at all levels within the organization.  It is clear to see if management is on board but don’t believe in them. This can be easily detected and transmitted and it will only have half of the impact.  Believing in changes is harder than it seems because it means getting rid of old, maybe somewhat rooted beliefs.  The same occurs in the employees.  If I see work as a place I’m forced to go to in order to make a living but the less I do the better, it will be difficult for the changes to make me feel better about things.
    • Values: Those beliefs should be substantiated by criteria and values in a higher order function, which are what will actually guide our actions.  If I’m a director, I need to consider my employee over and above the short term on my scale of values (for example), otherwise they wouldn’t be more than a dispensable pawn.  Once again, the fuzzball can only serve as a patch.  For employees, I need to feel that the real values of my company (remember the topic on corporate culture) are in line with mine.  Otherwise, I will feel out of place.
    • Identity:  This takes things one step further than the last, so that it makes up the identity of the company.  At Google, it works that it is a “happy company” because if the employees have fun and being creative can become part of their identity, then there is nothing to falsify.  Identity cannot be faked. As with the previous case, the same occurs with the employee.  If the company doesn’t fit in with my identity, it will not work.
    • System: This level joins together the way in which all of this is related to the rest of society, how it is integrated into a greater system.  If I try to build a company full of “happy people” in a country that does not respect even the smallest of employment rights including human rights, I will fail.  Let’s not forget that we are in a network society, a society 2.0.

    The cases I have used at each level are only examples and a deeper analysis would be required and tailored to each case. But I think that they are useful to understand how we function and why some changes do not have any effect, as they are only taking one level into consideration as well as being low down in the hierarchy.  For this reason, the challenge for business in the 21st century is going through a radical change, not aiming to patch up an old structure with a bit of make-up.  Because if all we do is to apply make-up, we could end up like Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard saying: “Im big; its the film that is small.

    Do you belong to a company that concerns itself about keeping its employees happy?

     

     
  • Mertxe Pasamontes 11:44 am on May 25, 2011 Permalink | Reply
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    Corporate culture 2.0 

    Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

    Corporate culture is one of those terms that has been so overused that it has lost some of its meaning.  The traditional definitions of corporate culture were along these lines (to mention a couple of examples):

    • A set of norms, values and way of thinking that characterize the business activity, its focus and way of addressing problem resolution (Pumpi)
    • A set of values that form the core of the corporate identity (Peters, Watermann, Deal and Schein)

    When assessing what the culture of a company was, the following points were considered:

    • The company or corporate identity: ‘who we are’
    • The values, the way of doing things: ‘how we think’
    • The strategic entity: ‘how we do things’.  At this point, the ‘who we are’ and ‘how we think’ must coincide with the ‘how we do things’.

    To all of this, we can add a series of indicators for measurement purposes and a few guidelines to follow for its communication.  By definition and recommendation, we could say that the classic model is still valid, though its transmission, which has varied in some places, has become obsolete.  The problems come fundamentally from the following:

    • Many companies took the approach of keeping up appearances (creating a mission, vision and values) but then behaved in a completely different manner.  This can occur inwardly behind closed doors (problems with the work atmosphere) as well as outwardly (reputation crisis).
    • There is still a very low market penetration and lack of knowledge of the use of 2.0 tools.  The problem is that the employees are in the 2.0 world while there are many companies that are still not (or they are not being genuine about it).  There are even companies that ban the use of social networks during working hours.
    • Communicating the corporate culture was usually the responsibility of the “Human Resources” department, which would draw up a plan, select a few actors and the channels and transmit this to everybody else (again, this would take place internally and externally).  Yet another method that is falling into disuse.

    Again we find that the network society, the online society moves a lot quicker than a corporate culture plan. By the time HR has had a chance to meet, employees in contact with one another via social networks have already been able to create a viral, for example.  Some companies specifically prohibit some of those practices but cannot avoid them completely.  In the same way, the external client can also provoke a reputation crisis in just three “tweets”.  If you recall, this is what happened with the case of Dave Carrol and United Airlines over a broken guitar.

    Organisations cannot resist change forever.  There is an increasing demand for transparency and if you are not willingly transparent, you will be by force. This is why it is so important to be coherent in the first place.  Sooner or later, you will be caught if you are seen not to be making any sense.  Once this is clear, the correct use of social tools must be made in the public ones (FacebookTwitter…) as well as the internal ones (YammerGoogle docs, Intranets,  Zyncro…).  You may find for some reason that your company cannot find a motive for justifying presence in an external social network, but it cannot have any reason for not having an internal one.  It is almost the same as saying that you have no interest in your employees communicating with each other, being able to share and create together, to come together as teams, to be able to even work from home on occasion. What you are saying in some way or another is that you are not interested in listening to their opinions…  And when people are not listened to, they often end up making themselves heard.  In the end, the real corporate culture is not that portrayed on the website or in pamphlets or adverts or posters…  Your real corporate culture is the one that each and every one of your employees demonstrates by their actions.

    Do you think that a corporate culture can be imposed?  Do you make tools available or are there tools available for you to be able to connect with everyone else?

     

     
  • Mertxe Pasamontes 11:30 am on May 11, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , psychocoaching business   

    What do we do about interpersonal conflict? 

    Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

    We could define conflict as interaction between two or more people, in which each one of them perceives the other as a threat to their achieving their objectives or need satisfaction.  It is therefore an inefficient manner of regulating discrepancies between people, despite it being an inherent phenomenon, very common within human relationships.  We must also consider that the word conflict itself usually produces negative connotations and on many occasions this provokes people to conceal it in some way or even deny it.  There are also people who avoid it due to their great difficulties managing situations of conflict.  But avoiding it will not make it disappear, it will only perpetuate the disagreement generating a negative charge within the people involved.

    What we must be clear on in any case is that conflicts occur because each person has their own map of the world and therefore sees things in their own way.  In that personal map of the world we contain our values, criteria, beliefs, our own identity, our attitudes, etc.  All of this gives us a particular way of experiencing the outside world (and the internal of course) and what goes on within it.  When we find ourselves with another person, they too will have their own map by which they will view the situation in their own perspective.  So that this point is understood although it is exaggerating somewhat, when faced with conflict, it is as though each person is seeing and experiencing a different situation.

    Let us take an example.  In the last few days there have been various encounters between two big rivals in the Spanish football league.  Barça and Real Madrid.  These have been encounters that have let loose a lot of controversy of course they were “playing dirty”.  The most interesting point about this case is that both teams accuse the other of playing dirty.  The same thing occurs amoungst the supporters.  Honourable exceptions to one side, nobody seems to see their own team’s faults (and if they do, the faults are minor compared to those made by the opposing team).  It would make more sense to think that something that has been recorded could be reviewed and that review “the truth” (or the nearest thing to the truth) would prevail.  Well no, the exact opposite occurs.  Each repetition of each game seems to confirm each side’s position.  It seems as though the sense of identity of your team and the belief that your team is the best blindfolds you making it impossible for you to see the errors of your ways and the validity of the other’s.  So as not be controversial I won’t go into the fact that some people see much less than others but on average amoungst supporters, almost everyone is biased.  They take interpretations as affirmations.

    So then, what can we do when faced with an interpersonal conflict?

    1. First admit that it exists.  We cannot fix something if we do not accept that it is “broken”.
    2. Secondly, be honestly aware, that every one of the conflict members will have their own map of the world.  One must try to avoid the thinking “that the other person has no clue” but understand that we have different points of view.
    3. Realise that a large part of the conflict as we have mentioned before, is the consideration of interpretations of the many variables as affirmations (or truth).  This is as much in the case of the others as well as our own.  If that seems like the whole truth to you, in reality it could well be a mere interpretation.
    4. Put yourself in others’ shoes.  The ideal would be to be capable of seeing the situation from your own point of view, from the conflictive point of view and the viewpoint of a neutral observer.  It is possible that we may need an external person in order to have this triple vision to help us with the process.
    5. Once all these steps are complete, it is time to negotiate a solution in which everybody wins.  It is possible that each side may have to give something up but that is much better than having a winner and a loser.

    It may be difficult to do it alone in some situations but that is why we psychologists and coaches are here for ;)

    How do you resolve interpersonal conflicts?

     

     
  • Mertxe Pasamontes 11:00 am on April 27, 2011 Permalink | Reply
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    Work-life balance? Or just work? 

    Estimated reading time: 2.5 minutes

    Now that we are back from our mini-holiday, it is a good time (as good a time as any but we have it fresh in our minds after the break), to ask ourselves if we are really reconciling our work and family life or if we are living in order to work. It is true that in most cases the working hours are imposed by the company you work for rather than being of your own choice.  Nonetheless, all of that extra time you work (and as a consequence deduct from your personal life) will not be given back to you by any means.

    In theory many large companies have work-life balance policies (there is allsorts in the smaller ones but less personnel sometimes prevents it from being possible), but we all know that some of these are not complied with.  Those policies are there and nobody is going to ask you specifically to stay behind past your working hours but you know that because of the company culture and due to the general daily atmosphere that you simply have to.

    Fortunately in some places there is a start towards combining attendance with telework taking some of the pressure off the employee.  Tools such as Zyncro, or other similar ones provide a way in which to work from a distance as well as allowing you to keep up to date with what is going on.  There are however many jobs in which this is not possible as they require attendance, overall this is found in the services sector.

    The main problem is that longer hours do not result in an increased or better productivity. Giving your team unattainable objectives does not mean it will be more motivated.  People have a limit as to their productivity and when this boundary is crossed, the only thing that is achieved is a lesser result than could have been attained without that pressure.  In fact, Spain is known for being one of the least productive countries in the EU.  The real culprit of this is not the work-life balance, it is the lack of it.  If you consider your “employee” as a “human resource”, you may think it does not matter if they are worn down, they can always be replaced, but this is not as true as may seem.  Settling in to a new company, understanding how it works and developing your potential within it require a certain amount of time.  Replacing somebody has a higher cost than just the economical.  But in order for this new mentality to take off, many organisations must be changed, those that are more fossilized and stuck in their 20th century (or 21st) models than they would like to admit.  In this way, many start-up type companies are at an advantage as they have been born with this new philosophy.

    So if you your company does not allow you to balance your work and family life, you can always look for another.   Or begin your path towards entrepreneurship or become a freelancer.  After all, it is not work we are talking about if not your life.

    Are you able to achieve a work-life balance at your company?  What options will you think about if it is not a possibility?

     
  • Mertxe Pasamontes 11:00 am on April 13, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , psychocoaching business   

    Who gets more involved? 

    Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

    More often than not, companies worry about their employees’ level of involvement.  They look for ways of determining the extent to which they are involved in a company project and its systems in order to motivate them to work more and as well as better—though I’m not entirely sure that the parameters they use to determine the level of involvement are always accurate.  I would like to share a story I once read with you, from the magnificent book by Santiago Alvarez de Mon, La lógica del corazón , that I think will be very illustrative.

     

     

     

    Alvarez de Mon had been invited by the Dean of an American school to an interview with two of the school teachers there.  One of them quite happily divulged into sharp criticism about the organizational structure of the school, the regulations and working methods, the retribution system etc… The other said nothing.  As the teachers left, Alvarez de Mon and the Dean had the following conversation:

    -What do you think?

    -You have a problem, said A. de Mon

    -Who with?

    -With the fed-up teacher who opposes so many things about the school.

    The Dean who was smarter and more astute than A. de Mon (his own words) said to him, “I don’t like what I hear at all, but if I must be honest, he is partly right.  Anyway, he says it to my face. He gets genuinely angry, which cannot be mistaken for the fact that the school still matters to him a lot. It pains his soul.  Whom I am really worried about is the second teacher.  He has opted for the worst possible thing: a silent disdain, indifference, an irreversible scepticism.  The school is no longer of interest to him, perhaps because for a while now, he has been using it to his own advantage.

    This makes me think about El despido interior, the book by Lotfi EL-Ghandouri in which he explains the process where some people suffer having started a job with excitement and motivation only to see all of their expectations shattered. With about zero maneuvering power, they decide to give up on their professional aspirations and resign themselves.  They stay on while “keeping the seat warm”.

    This self-resignation (probably what has happened to the second teacher) usually takes place due to a series of events in which the person, for differing reasons, begins to feel less and less involved in the organization, their expectations unmet and cannot see the possibility to change anything about it.  Finally, they choose indifference.

    It is this process that we must avoid within organizations and stop worrying about “measuring motivation”.  If you do things the right way, there will be no need for measuring motivation.  If you do have to measure it, it may be that you have not done what you should have done…  Systems that allow you to connect like Zyncro, creating internal networks, bypassing hierarchy and listening to everybody, can be a great way to really know what is troubling your “collaborators”.  The only way you are able to grow as a company is by really believing that the “employees” are people that collaborate with you and really listening to them, not just as an “act”.  You might just discover something you did not expect.

    How is motivation encouraged in your company?  Do you feel listened to?

     
  • Lluis Font 11:00 am on April 11, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , psychocoaching business   

    Manager 2.0 Part II: “Skills” 

    Estimated reading time: likely to be more than 5 minutes

    This is the second part of the trilogy Management 2.0 in which we will address skills.  Skills that frankly, I believe can be learned around the world though the excellence in execution as with everything in life, will tie in more with our innate qualities and the extent to which we use them.

    Be Organized

    There is nothing more harmful than working with a disorganised person, especially if he or she is your boss.  At the beginning of my career I experienced a number of them but I suppose in time, I developed some sort of intuition to avoid them.  The ability to carry out many different tasks to high standard in a short space of time depends completely upon how we organize ourselves.

    1. Think about what we are going to do before doing it.  Evaluate time, tasks and the necessary resources.
    2. Try to develop just one task each time, jumping from task to task is a recipe for disaster, bad quality and wasted time for example; writing a document whilst having your email open and mobile on.  Thus, we go back to Neutron Jack’s (Jack Welch) favourite concept;   working in compartmental blocks. .
    3. Your being well organised will have a positive impact on the work of your team and colleagues.

    All of us can be organised if we have the discipline of making a note of things, clichés are of no use – creative people can also be organised, maybe not the best Project managers in the world but without a doubt, they can be organised.

    Delegate wisely and with care

    Realistically evaluate how long a task will take to complete when you delegate it to somebody, it looks simple it is a lot more important than it seems.

    Allow me to explain something pretty awful happening in companies all the time and that illustrates the importance of delegating properly: “Driving a person crazy or to the point of depression at work is the easiest thing in the world to do if you are their boss. Simply assign a task when they have not yet finished (because it is impossible to have done so in that time), complain about how useless they are for not having finished the previous task, complain about them not having finished the second task and then assign a third… and continue the pattern.  That person will end up depressed, crazy and burnt out in a short space of time. Well, this happens every day, sometimes out of malice (pure mobbing) and also due to the inability of evaluating the task properly by the superior.

    To delegate properly means:

    1. Evaluate how long you would take with your knowledge and resources and add extra time if the person does not have the same knowledge and resources or if they have never done it before.
    2. Show them to how to complete the task, monitor progress using guidance, this is called delegating with care, the opposite of throwing out tasks.

    Have a sense of urgency

    It is nothing more than to respond as quickly as possible to those tasks or problems that really need it. It is one of the least common skills and does not depend on age nor education, it is an attitude acquired very easily when a person has a positive predisposition.  The sense of urgency is learned and is passed on to others. I love organizations that have this incorporated into the DNA of their corporate culture.  Despite this, it is still complicated.  There may be resistance from leaders set in their ways and with poor communicative skills and on the whole, a lack of this skill is found in the more technical areas with little client contact…

    A real case: (sadly one of many):  How can a manager responsible for a critical bug go home so peacefully dead on-time leaving a client with their production line at a halt?

    What is most valued by a company is not the absence of problems, but the speed and dedication with which they are resolved. One of the best people I have seen deal with clients, Michael Kessler said: “I prefer to have some technical problems with a client than none at all, that way the client can evaluate how we good we are when there are problems to resolve and we can gain their trust”.  To have a sense of urgency means:

    To be willing to prioritize tasks to the maximum when they require immediate resolution, even if it means working all night.

    1. It is very important properly to identify what is urgent and what is not, there are managers who generate false crisis for whom everything is urgent while there are others for whom only the building being on fire would be an urgent matter.
    2. If common sense is applied it is easy.  Generally, urgent matters are: problems with clients, tasks related to the closing of client deals, critical deadlines and delays and clearly, the resolution of any conflicts.

    For this point, I recommend the book: “A Sense of Urgency”.

    Possess mental fortitude

    The Manager 2.0 is an entrepreneur (internally or externally) and to be so, needs to respond positively to pressure. When I say entrepreneur I make reference to the wider meaning of the term, a departmental leader that has the courage to launch a new product into the market, a public sector employee who backs a new management system that presents advantages to citizens, a doctor investigating a new treatment that could save lives, a manager that offers to take on a complicated projectall of these are entrepreneurs and are who truly make the world go round.  Managers 2.0 should have the capacity to take on risks and challenges and they should be able to do so in a positive and peaceful manner.  I can guarantee you that this can be learned, if someone had said to me 20 years ago, that I would be an entrepreneur taking on all the risks and pressure I do now, I would have said “No way!”

    How can we gain mental fortitude?

    1. Positive thinking is the best kept secret of leaders around the world.  I define myself as a pathological optimist:  “Not only do I see the glass half full; at the same time I’m thinking about how to fill the other half”.
    2. Realism, self confidence, persistence. It is very important to evaluate the milestones one wants to achieve and to have the faith in oneself to get there.  Goals should be realistic, it is impossible to run 40 miles without beginning training for running 10 miles.  If you are exhausted after running 3 miles the first day (as in my case), do not throw in the towel, continue with your plan temporarily adjusting the milestones, the will run the marathon in 18 months instead of 12.
    3. Stress control: Key for an entrepreneur, tension must be released and you must sleep well at night without the need for sleeping pills or herbs.  Everyone should find their own method: sports, yoga, reading or a combination of these is usually a good method as they all release endorphins.  Look for yours without resorting to chemicals.

    To summarize

    In the article today the key points to summarize are:

    1. Be organised, plan, estimate, control progress.
    2. Delegate knowledgably and with care, evaluating what you have delegated and guiding your delegates.
    3. Employ a sense of urgency; do not leave things for tomorrow if it is important they are done today.
    4. Have mental fortitude.  Find your way of facing challenges positively and peacefully.

    If you do not have them all, do not worry, you can achieve them; draw up your plan to becoming a Manager 2.0.

     
  • Lluis Font 11:00 am on April 6, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , psychocoaching business   

    Manager 2.0 Part I: “People 2.0″ 

    Estimated reading time: 5 minutes (maybe 6 this time)

    I have been in the management world for over 20 years, have been a student and a professor at business schools. I have literally swallowed hundreds of management, company management and self help books (if you come to visit Zyncro you will see the immense library). In the end I have come to the conclusion that somebody mentioned to me years ago; that with some luck, from each book, lesson or conference you will take away an idea that you can put into practice. The objective of the next three posts entitled ‘Manager 2.0′ is to transmit those practical ideas, many of them 2.0 and others a lot older but absolutely valid and applicable in the current digital environment.

    We will structure the articles in three main groups: people, skills and tools. The three are linked and are inseparable but will be easier to understand if we separate them.

    People 2.0

    We work with people, NOT with Human resources. This is without a doubt the worst definition ever invented in the management world. Apart form the fact that it was created in the 50′s it also seems like it came from the worst and most slave-driving moments of the 18th century Industrial Revolution. Anyway, if you are lucky enough to be the Managing Director of a company 2.0, I suggest you change that department name at once! I was very pleasantly surprised when I met Didac Lee. He had named the department director the Talent Manager and I thought, “Greatl!”. Other excellent options for the department name People Management and Human Capital Management.

    Try applying the previous paragraph to the day to day. People do not switch off their personal lives when they arrive at work, they continue to have personal problems, children who are ill, elderly parents, arguments with their partners… Do you know anything about the family lives of the people you work with? If you do not know much, I would start to from today onwards. They are not resources, they are people that work alongside you. Understanding their environment as well as how they feel will ensure that you all work in a much more pleasant and familiar environment. They will arrive at work knowing that it is also somewhere that welcomes them in and listens to them beyond just work. An example of this; modern organisations plan their weekly meetings from 9:30am onwards and always before 4:00pm, this way parents can drop their children off at school as well as collect them afterwards.

    Integral training, a company’s training is one of the least 2.0-like disciplines that we can come across today and is key to improved performance. Coaching is now in fashion and I am not saying it is not a great help but we are still forgetting about the most basic and human issues. How many companies offer their employees free stress management courses or even yoga classes? Stress is the main cause of productivity problems in the current workplace, companies continue to believe that it is a medical issue for all employees but it is not. Let us think about training in a wider sense of the term, knowledge, skills and emotions… this last one is always left out.

    Yes to coaching, no to it’s-all-good. One of the most harmful managers I have known is probably one of the nicest and charming people we could meet, I will call him John. Helping people progress means giving positive feedback and advise on ways to go about the improvements of weaknesses. Martin never gave any negative feedback to anybody, the bonuses he gave out were always 100% and his team was always the best. The world was such a marvellous place within his department that Martin even began to receive phone calls from fairyland! But the impact was devastating and cruel, the good employees became complacent with Martin and stopped being themselves whilst turning to mediocracy and becoming below average and the lazy cheaters that never used to work (all companies have at least one) literally did nothing at all, they would spend the whole day surfing the web or watching videos on Youtube. I do not believe in the it’s-all-good approach, we are not all born ‘good’ there will aways be people thinking up way in which to work less or find ways to slack off from their jobs. If you really want to be a manager 2.0 and help your team, congratulate them for the good work they do and let them know about the bad areas in a constructive manner helping them to improve whilst giving them ideas ans suggestions.

    And last but not of least importance, share, share, share. managers 2.0 share information at all levels of the organisation. If everyone is informed, emergency situations can be identified and resolved earlier, clients receive a better and faster customer service, and time is not wasted by duplicating efforts and searching for information hidden somewhere within the company. All of this equals improved productivity. If information is power, imagine what a company would be like if all the employees were powerful!

    To summarise…

    In summary, remember this:

    • We work with people, with feelings and families. The better you know a person on the whole, the more you will achieve from them.
    • Training goes way beyond knowledge and skills. Does your team need stress relief? Is it too noisy in your office for them to be able to concentrate?
    • Feedback must be balanced, real and positive, oriented towards improvement and not criticism but without avoiding the weak points.
    • Sharing is the most powerful productivity tool in the world today. Do you share with your team? Does your team share?

    The next part of Manager 2.0 will be “Skills 2.0″.

     
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