Hot Management Info for 1998

December – Drucker’s New Paradigms
November – Checklist for Turning Mission Statements into Reality
October – Annual Retreats
September – Jack Welch’s Six Rules
August – For Generations Xers, What Counts Isn’t All Work or All Play
July – Cleese Calls
June – Mystery Shoppers Provide Feedback
May – The Mars Pathfinder
April – Tips to Avoid Playing Telephone Tag
March – Can We Talk?

December 1998 – Drucker’s New Paradigms

From Forbes Magazine, Issue: October 5

The October 5 issue of Forbes has an excellent article by Peter Drucker called “Management’s New Paradigms”. This article is worth your finding and reading.  Drucker says, “much of what is now taught and believed about the practice of management is either wrong or seriously out of date”.

He suggests:

  • Knowledge workers cannot be managed as subordinates; they are associates.  They are seniors or juniors but not superiors and subordinates.  This difference is more than cosmetic.  Once beyond the apprentice stage, knowledge workers must know more about their job than their boss does- or what good are they?  The very definition of a knowledge worker is one who knows more about his or her job than anybody else in the organization.
  • An executive, therefore, is not just being polite when he or she refers to an employee as an “associate.” The executive is simply recognizing reality.
  • What this means is that even full-time employees have to be managed as if they were volunteers.
  • Furthermore, we have known for 50 years that money alone does not motivate employees to perform much more than it motivates volunteers.
  • What motivates – especially knowledge workers – is what motivates volunteers. Volunteers,we know, have to get more satisfaction from their work than paid employees precisely because they do not get a paycheck.  They need, above all, challenge.  They need to know the organization’s mission and to believe in it.  They need continuous training. They need to see results.
  • One does not “manage” people, as previously assumed.  One leads them.  The way one maximizes their performance is by capitalizing on their strengths and their knowledge rather than trying to force them into molds.

 -Peter Drucker

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November 1998 – Checklist for Turning Mission Statements into Reality

From Harvard Management Update 

  1. An effective mission statement doesn’t only focus on corporate identity, i.e., who we are or who we wish to be.  Instead, it makes concrete statements about what we will do, and why.  (Compare “We will be the leading provider of software” with Microsoft’s mission statement: “A computer on every desk and in every home, all running Microsoft software in every computer.”) Companies that produce effective mission statements move through five phases:  iteration, awareness, understanding, commitment, and action.
  2. Each stage requires more effort than the previous one.
  3. It’s important to define “what’s to be different” about how work will get done.  Imagine a future reality.  Then figure out what the organization needs to do to arrive there.
  4. Mission statement team members and senior management should explain, clarify, and otherwise communicate with the rest of the organization about putting the statement into operational reality.
  5. The majority of employees and managers should agree with the new mission statement.
  6. If the process seems to drag on at times, do not lose sight of the rewards ahead.  In the final phase of creating and integrating a mission statement into an organization comes action:  the complete knitting together of purpose, direction, and behavior.

 -Tom Brown

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October 1998 – Annual Retreats

Excerpts from an article by Kenneth Lowe, president of Legal Consultants, Inc.

The majority of firms in this country have been using some form of annual retreat meeting for several years as a technique for improving communications within the firm on topics that require thoughtful discussion.  If planned and executed well, that form of retreat can greatly assist the firm in arriving at solutions to priority issues.  It has certainly been proven as a very useful vehicle to bring people together in an atmosphere that is generally conducive to candid discussion away from the pressures of the office and the daily routine.  

With this “rosy” preamble, why then do so many firms say that their retreat was such a waste of time.  There are several common denominators that are vital to the success of every firm retreat.  These include.

  1. Define the purpose of the meeting, establish a written agenda and determine who will attend;
  2. Communicate the information from 1 above to all participants at least 69-90 days in advance so that 100 percent attendance will be assured;
  3. Evaluate the possibility of using an outside facilitator to keep the discussion on track and to serve as a moderator for potentially sensitive discussion;
  4. Assign responsibility for recording the decisions made to ensure implementation assignments with target dates after the retreat is over;
  5. Follow-up by the manager on all decisions is vitally important plus continuing communication to all participants regarding the actions that have been successfully implemented since the retreat;

Legal Consultants, Inc., a San Diego based law office management consulting firm

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September 1998 – Jack Welch’s Six Rules
  • Control your destiny or someone else will
  • Face reality as it is, not as it was or you wish it were
  • Be candid with everyone
  • Change before you have to
  • If you don’t have advantage, don’t compete
  • Don’t manage, lead

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August 1998 – For Generations Xers, What Counts Isn’t All Work or All Play

From Management Review / December 1996

Members of the so-called Generation X-those currently 18 to 33 years old-are gaining the attention of researchers. That Gen Xers are a mystery to their elders comes as no surprise to Kichiro Iwamoto, psychology professor at Santa Clara University, Calif. He asserts that younger workers “don’t have a self-concept that’s tied to their work,” so “their self-fulfillment comes only partly from the workplace.”

Iwamoto suggests that employers offer incentives other than pay and position, noting that extra time off and flextime are the two best means of encouraging improved performance. He counters assertions that Gen Xers aren’t motivated to work hard. 

“The different between them and the older generation is that the value system is uniquely different,” he says. “Unfortunately, most of us consider values very ethnocentrically: If their values aren’t the same as mine, then they don’t exist or are inferior.” Younger workers are motivated, Iwamoto contends, despite the fact that many Gen Xers don’t believe in the traditional American work ethic.

Iwamoto’s findings are echoed by Bruce Tulgan, founder of Rainmaker, a consulting firm that studies Gen Xers. In an interview on CNN-FN, Tulgan observed that the traditional “climb-the-ladder” career path has become an archaeological artifact. “Twenty years down the road maybe you would have a corner office. Of course now there is no such things even as a corner office,” he said.

With these boundaries gone, Tulgan noted that “young people of today see their work in terms of one project after another.” Some provide several services to the same employer; others work for a client while simultaneously developing a business of their own. It is also common for Gen Xers to return to school.

“You can drop out of the rat race for a while and come back, as long as you can prove your ability to create tangible results.” In fact, Tulgan asserted, “the old-fashioned career path wouldn’t be there even if we wanted to go down it. And most young people don’t want to go down it.”

– David Stauffer

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July 1998 – Cleese Calls

Found in a monthly publishing of Training Trends, Issue #7 

Here are 10 tips from John Cleese’s newest training video on taking charge of business telephone calls.

  1. Answer the phone within four rings, and put on a smile.
  2. Introduce yourself by name, department and organization.
  3. Establish immediately whether it’s convenient for both persons to talk.
  4. Ask open questions (who, what, where, when, why and how) to keep the caller on track.
  5. Use the caller’s name during the conversation. Also, use verbal cues such as, “Yes, go on” to keep the conversation flowing. 
  6. Record and repeat-write down what the caller says, then repeat it to confirm the information.
  7. End the call by establishing and agreeing on what happens next.
  8. Tell the caller about special steps you’ll take to solve the problem.
  9. Take ownership for the call, keep tabs on all follow-up and report back to the caller personally.
  10. Never make a promise you can’t keep.

(Source: Video Arts, Chicago, Illinois, videoart@interaccess.com

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June 1998 – Mystery Shoppers Provide Feedback 

Report from Western City MagazineFebruary 1995

So that direct participant feedback is not scarce in parks and community services programs, the San Ramon Parks and Community Services Department has mystery shoppers to call on to evaluate programs and services. The Mystery Shoppers register for classes and programs offered by the Department and then provide critical and subjective feedback on their experiences. Since no one except the Department Manager knows who they are, the Mystery Shoppers can get an accurate picture of the quality of service. Mystery Shoppers use a form to give points to the Department on customer service, appearance of facilities, program content, written materials, consumer confidence and bonus points for extra service delivered by program staff. The feedback then goes directly to program supervisors to improve programs and services. Mystery Shoppers participate in recreation programs and classes free of charge, learn more about a variety of recreation programs and perform a valuable service to the community. 

Contact: Karen McNamara, Community Services Manager, (510) 275-2279. 

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May 1998 – The Mars Pathfinder 

The following is a part of Chapter 2 from a neat little handbook on innovation! The book, The Mars Pathfinder Aproach to “Faster-Better-Cheaper” is available for $9.95 at 1-800-992-5922 

Let limitations guide you to breakthroughs.

Constraints and limitations can be more of a blessing than a curse.  They force you out of standard operating procedure.  They call forth cleverness, push you toward simplicity, and give rise to elegant solutions.  Demanding conditions also influence you to focus your efforts on what’s most important.

The Pathfinder team didn’t resist, give up, or argue for an easier set of conditions.  They accepted the challenge.  They were willing to go with the constraints.

So what’s the lesson here?  When you’re feeling cornered by tough, seemingly unrealistic circumstances, maybe the situation is pressuring you toward a breakthrough solution. See where the limitations take you.  Look for the trap door of innovation, the escape route of creativity that can solve your dilemma. Yield to the demands.  Let them push you toward a unique answer that solves your problem. 

Don’t waste your time and energy struggling to change the conditions.  Accept them.  And apply your imagination toward finding a new and better way within these constraints. 

Approach the situation as if it were a riddle… a routine way of looking at it won’t work.  You’ve got to give it a twist.  Go at it from a new angle, and find the secret passageway that can serve as the solution.  More often than not, you’ll end up using the simplified approach.  And despite the demands you’re working under that you thought would make things harder, you’ll end up with a solution that turns out to be easier.

As Plato said, “Necessity is the mother of invention.”

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April 1998 – Tips To Avoid Playing Telephone Tag

Reprinted from Customer Service & Retention, April 20, 1998

Reaching a customer can be a frustrating task. It’s especially irritating when you have an important message and you know that your party wants to receive it.  Here are a few ways to get your information through.

    1. Improve your Timing.
      Schedule calls when you know the customer will be in.  Early mornings are good.
    2. Have an alternative contact.
      Establish it at the start by asking who you can leave a message with if your party isn’t there.
    3. Send an e-mail or a fax.  It’s not as good as personal contact, but may be better at getting a detailed message through than talking to a subordinate.
    4. Leave clever messages on answering machines.
      Get the target’s interest.
    5. If you really have to reach the customer
      and discuss a matter in person, get specific information on when he or she will return, whether he or she will be going into a meeting and what time would be best to call.
    6. Decide how long you will hold.
      Even if your information is important, your time is valuable too.

If all efforts fail, wait for the customer’s call.

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March 1998 – Can We Talk?

One-size-fits-all doesn’t work when it comes to communications and learning styles.

From Management Review / February 1995 

Does your boss prefer to receive information orally or in written form?  Chances are that not only can you answer that question immediately, but you may have quickly changed your personal communication style to match your manager’s soon after you started to work together.

Work styles run the gamut.  We’ve always known that some people need a great deal of immediate feedback while others prefer to work independently.  Now we’re learning that some people are monochronic; that is, they can only work on one task at a time, while their polychronic peers prefer to pile on the projects and are at their most creative when they are pursuing several different tasks simultaneously.  Meanwhile, some people do their best work at the crack of dawn, while others barely function until after their third cup of coffee.

Correctly sizing up your boss’s communication preferences may mean the difference between getting your project off the ground or watching it fall moribund before it gets a fair chance of survival.  But there’s more at stake here than workplace achievement: Communication styles can also mean the difference between success or failure in life. studies of New York City students suggest that math underachievers are frequently afternoon learners who have been scheduled into morning math classes.  In fact, responding to time preferences has proved valuable in turning around high school truancy problems.  So much for the classic educational theory of introducing “hard” subjects to students early in the morning when the kids are fresh.

Workplace diversity has resulted in a plethora of stereotypes about communication styles.  African-Americans are supposed to be more orally oriented that whites, Asians less likely to make eye contract than Europeans, and Hispanics more “family-” and cooperation-oriented.

Are these generalizations useful?  Perhaps. At least they serve as a starting point to recognize that different communication styles exist and to help determine the most appropriate style between two people.  But, in the end, they are no more reflective of the specific individuals that make up large ethnic, social and racial groups than any stereotype can ever be.

The bottom line is that there is no such thing as a right or wrong communication style, only more effective and less effective ones.  The most effective style is not one that follows some preferred textbook approach, but rather, one that the listener is most attuned to. 

And managers who boast that they “treat all their people the same” may be confusing democratic principles with the capabilities needed to work most effectively in a pluralistic society.

cal government planning office; most of my employees spend a lot of time commuting so I am trying to introduce some flexibility into the work week. Do you know of any good sources of information regarding
this topic? I need logistical information (how to juggle my staff’s hours in and out of the office) and HR-related information (OSHA requirements for working out of the home, worker’s comp, etc.)

Thank you,

Gretchen

Dear Gretchen:

I keep seeing articles on this in my reading but have not been saving them. I will send the next one I see to you. In the meantime, let’s see what my email friends can offer.

I am a big fan of alternative workweeks as they fit into today’s varied lifestyles. The one caution is finding ways to do it so the customers don’t suffer. Call forwarding, email, and the Internet can all help.

Good luck!

The Management Doctor


Reader Responses

Unless it involves ordinance writing or other planning-related research, I have found it difficult to manage. Our professional positions (here in Bryan, Texas) necessitate a significant amount of customer contact. But we do continue to look for ways to accommodate alternative schedules with laptops, etc. However, laptops tend to be used to meet deadlines for work that could not be done while in the office environment.

For what it’s worth,
Joey Dunn
City of Bryan, Texas
jdunn@ci.bryan.tx.us


Alternative work schedules are, from my point of view and experience, an excellent idea. There are many benefits, morale and staff productivity are among the greatest. The problems that arise include customer contact hours and complaints from some elected officials, who can never seem to call important meetings when you are actually there. If these bugs can be addressed, and you have a bright, trusting, forward thinking planning director (don’t we all?), the system will work well. Try it for “summer hours” as a test run.Hiram Peck

Hiram.Peck@ci.new-canaan.ct.us


We have had telecommuting and flex schedules in Walnut Creek for many years now. I have several planners with young families that count on it. We have a telecommuting policy that outlines certain procedures
and expectations – I believe it can be obtained through our HR department. I also, as a manager, prefer phones to be pounded over to the employee’s home so it is transparent to the calling public that the employee is working at home. It also allows me instant verbal access in case The City Manager or Council need info in a hurry (don’t they always). You are also correct that email is a great tool. I find also that work production goes up. Initially, it’s a burden getting used to, but once an employee gets used to lugging files home, they typically get uninterrupted time to prepare staff reports and environmental documentation.Paul Richardson

Planning Manager
Community Development Department
City of Walnut Creek
Richardson@ci.walnut-creek.ca.us


The City of Henderson is on a four-day workweek. All administrative offices are closed on Fridays. All departments that have development related functions have an employee presence on Fridays. For example,
Community Development has a front counter planner and receptionist on Friday duty. Building inspectors work either a M-Th or T-F schedule. It works very well for us. I would be glad to talk to or exchange emails with the person who made the inquiry. My phone number is 702-565-2474.Mary Kay Peck

MKP@gty.ci.henderson.nv.us


Moreover, I’ve found offering an alternative schedule (“flexing”) is a big motivator and recruitment tool. This seems to have bearing on your earlier postings!Steven Finn

Planning Director
Ontario County, NY
finns@nysnet.net


Flexible schedules and compressed workweeks can be of great benefit
to individual workers and to offices, as they can:

  • allow offices to be open longer hours
  • enable staff members time to take care of errands that might otherwise require annual or sick leave
  • reduce some commuting time and costs
  • contribute to the health and well being of individuals and their families.

Unfortunately, there are some pitfalls. Here are some questions to ask when considering a flexible schedule or compressed workweek:

Can productive work be accomplished on a flexible schedule? An additional hour a day may be very feasible, allowing a staff member to accumulate enough time in a week to have an afternoon off. However, if an individual tries to work long beyond his or her physical or mental capacity to concentrate, the additional time at a desk may be spent at a very low level of productivity. Supervision and coordination issues must
also be addressed. Some workers need little or no supervision, but those who do may accomplish very little. If someone must work with another staff member on the project, the staff members’ schedules
may need to coincide or significantly overlap.

1. Can the office be covered adequately?

Flexible schedules can stretch the capacity of those whom remain on the job while others are flexing to keep the office going. If services are being provided to the general public, adequate coverage can be
a serious issue. Some offices have core times or days when all staff are expected to work, and designated flexible days and hours.

2. Is a flexible schedule or compressed workweek fair to everyone?
Who gets to have a flexible schedule? Who gets what days off?

One workable solution is to allow the employees alternate Fridays (or Mondays, or whatever) to flex. A flexible time schedule or compressed workweek sometimes requires a significant amount of extra work for
the manager, as he or she tries to juggle schedules and coverage. To avoid having the manager become involved in day-to-day negotiations on these schedules, it is useful to pair staff. If one staff member is out, there are others who can cover for the absent staff person who must be on duty.

3. Will flexible schedule be a right or a privilege for staff
members?

Except in the case when such a schedule is part of an employment agreement, it is critically important that employees know that it may be necessary to give up their preferred schedule to meet the needs of the office. “It’s not my day to work,” is not a good answer to hear from a staff member when the office needs to be covered. Managers who allow flexible work schedules should, however, not make constant demands for staff to cover the office that essentially make a flexible schedule a joke.

4. Is there a written policy and does it conflict with any other
written policies?

A written policy on flexible scheduling or compressed workweeks is critical. All of the issues that need to be addressed, such as coverage and core hours, should be addressed in a written policy.

Nancy Benziger Brown, Ph.D., FAICP
Interim Director
Center for Workforce Development
Walters State Community College
Nancy.Brown@wscc.cc.tn.us


Below you’ll find what we do as a special summer program here in James City County for our planners. It allows them to work extra hours on given days so they can work four day weeks if they choose. This isn’t exactly what the woman was talking about, but it might provide him some ideas.

Planning Division “Flex Time” Guidelines

Revised May 2001

General

· Flex time will be offered for two-months in the summer months (to be determined by the Principal Planners).

· Participation of staff is voluntary.

· Participation is open to the following positions: Planner, Senior Planner, Landscape Planner, part-time Planner/Senior Planner.

Requirements

· All participants must agree upon the full two-month schedule in advance, and only minor changes/deviations can be made from the agreed-upon schedule.

· Principal Planners must approve the schedule, and can make changes to the schedule at any time.

Setting the Schedule

· Three planners will be in the office at all times, and at least two of those planners must be in the current planning rotation.

· Flex time is available on a week-by-week basis, M-F only.

· Participants may take off a maximum of one workday by working 40 hours in 4 workdays. Part-time participant must work 2 ten-hour days to receive one four-hour/half-day off.

· A flex day must be scheduled around the normal 8 am – 5 pm working hours (no non-traditional working hours permitted, such as 4 pm – 1 am).

· Participants may use a combination of flex time and vacation time within the same week, upon approval of your supervisor.

· “Stockpiling” of hours to take off more than one workday in one week through flex time is not allowed. Weekend hours and regularly scheduled after-hours meetings cannot be counted toward flex time. However, a ten-hour flex day may include the two-hour period between 5 pm – 7 pm on days for regularly scheduled after-hours meetings.

· If there are any staffing conflicts on a specific requested day off, employees with approved vacation days will be given priority over employees who wish to flex.

· Participants are encouraged to cooperate while coordinating their flex schedules (remember, flex ? flexible). If any participant expresses displeasure with the flex schedule during the two months, everyone’s opportunity to flex will be taken away permanently!

Contributed by Don Davis
James City County, Virginia
dedavis@james-city.va.us


Since your original quest for info, Planning has finally been able to implement Flex Time…however, we can’t call it that, because other Departments heads don’t want their employees asking for it … our system
(approved by HR) is “Within Pay Period Time Off”. I have given staff a blanket authorization to work an extra hour a day during a two week pay period, as long as they take the time off during that period. The
rule of thumb is that (1) they have to coordinate with peers to ensure coverage; (2) they have to share 4-day weekends, one person cannot hog that schedule;…and (3) the day off cannot always be a Monday or Friday. For the project planners, the latter has a codicil that they cannot take a PC Meeting Friday off and they have to complete projects for packet day one day earlier to take PC shipping Friday off. HR’s only
comment was that if it became an issue with other departments (meaning, Union involvement), we would have to stop the program.The system has functioned flawlessly and no other Department has
noticed we’re doing it.

Anonymous

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