Hot Management Info for 2005

December – When Not To Write A Report

November – Sweat The Small Stuff

October – Hiring The Wrong Person

September – Disaster Thoughts

August – Getting More With Less

July – Incivility

June – Manager Or Leader?

May – Before I Was The Director And After I Am The Director

April – How To Connect With Customers And Colleagues

March – Burn Out

February – Making Decisions

January – Make Recognizing Employees Part Of Your Daily Routine


 

December 2005 – When Not To Write A Report

Taken from The Member Newsletter of the American Management Association, October 2005.

To reduce your workload, review the reports you issue and determine those you don’t need to write or those you can change. For example:

  • Consolidation. Some reports can be combined, saving both writing and reading time. (The report to the City Council can be virtually the same as the Planning Commission reports, but adding perhaps only a short paragraph.)
  • Simplification. The current level of detail may be too much. (Does the Planning Commission really want all what you give them?)
  • Elimination. Some reports can be done away with altogether. Too often, reports that are originally requested as one-time projects, end up as recurring documents. (For staff hearing officers just fill out a form.)
  • Reduced frequency. It may be enough to issue the report quarterly or semi-annually.
  • Replacement. You may be putting out a report with lots of facts about which no one cares.
  • Hold a meeting. Often, a report is issued to solve a problem, but that problem could be more effectively handled in a face-to-face meeting.

I’m reminded of a federal grant program that I once ran that required a monthly report. I didn’t discover I was to write a monthly report until nine months into the program. The first one I completed came back with detailed instructions about how I didn’t properly complete the report, yet no one ever noticed when there were no reports submitted.

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November 2005 – Sweat The Small Stuff

Partially taken from Harvard Business Review, April 2005

“In 1982, James Q. Wilson introduced his “broken windows” theory
of neighborhood decline in the pages of The Atlantic.
The criminologist famously argued that by leaving litter, graffiti,
and other urban detritus unattended, authorities signal a lack
of concern that tempts miscreants to commit more serious violations.”

Similar issues apply to the office place. In some of my recent
studies I found planning offices with:

  • Stained carpets
  • Dirty elevators
  • Torn and worn out signs
  • Torn magazines in the lobby
  • Dirty coffee cups
  • Outdated material on bulletin boards
  • Junk in the hallways
  • Broken chairs

“But, when management ignores such trivial irritations, it
is effectively telling employees or customers that they don’t
matter.”

This theory reinforces the “Moments of Truth” theory. This
theory says that anytime a customer comes into contact with
the organization it is a moment of truth that sets the reputation
for the organization. All of the items above set moments of
truth.

I am also reminded of a recent business magazine article where
executives of Starbucks were being interviewed. The writer
asked what was most important for Starbucks’ success. The answer – Everything.


 

Reader Response

Thank goodness! I totally agree. Sure, some may argue that it’s superficial, but they’re just flat wrong.

Patricia Brown
Washington State Department of Social and Health Services

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October 2005 – Hiring The Wrong Person

The industry rule of thumb is that hiring the wrong person costs
you three times his or her annual salary. A $50,000 per-year employee
costs you $150,000. In addition to this, your program may be set back,
you lose momentum and you are back to square one looking for a replacement.

It is suggested that most companies have difficulty in finding top
people because of three common mistakes:

 

  1. They hire individuals for what they know, and then fire them
    for who they are.
  2. They hire quickly and fire slowly which is backwards.
  3. They base their hiring decision on previous experience. Previous
    experience may be a poor indicator of future performance. The
    best way is to look at their behavioral traits — who they
    are as a person, what drives them, how they make decisions, how
    they work and interact with others.

I see many planning departments, as well as governments, violating
these three all the time.

Traits fall into four categories:

  1. MOTIVATION: what drives a person. Some jobs
    require people who are motivated by ego; others by ideals or
    by what’s best for the group.
  2. THINK: how a person gathers information and
    reaches a decision. One job requires people who are slow and
    thorough; another needs those who prefer to make split-second
    decisions based on minimal information.
  3. ACT: how a person does his or her job. One
    job requires people who work best alone, while other jobs need
    those who work best in a group. Some jobs attract people who
    love variety; other jobs need those who prefer routine.
  4. INTERACT: how a person interacts with others.
    Some jobs need people who are confrontational; another jobs need
    someone who is accommodating.

*Abstracted from Executive Focus, November 2004.


Reader Response

Do you have any information on calculating cost per hire?

Tracy Lawson, PHR
Wilmington, NC

The Management Doctor’s Response

The HR professionals suggest that there are many ways to answer your
question. One suggests that your question is “the last great
black hole of HR.”

I put your words “cost to hire” on Google and found several
great articles. I particularly liked:

http://hr.monster.com/articles/cost/

http://www.findarticles.com/
p/articles/mi_m0FXS/is_1_80/ai_69294704

The bottom line is that it costs a lot more than you
think it does.

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September 2005 – Disaster Thoughts

What do we planners do when we feel removed from a disaster
and somewhat helpless? Keep your ideas coming. Send them to me to share
or, better yet, to APA who is trying some coordinated efforts. I suggest:

  1. Get out your checkbook. Send one today and another
    when it becomes clear where the money is most needed. My favorites:
    Salvation Army, www.salvationarmyusa.org
    Red Cross, www.redcross.org
  2. Check on your family and friends. I found the telephone
    wasn’t useful but did make connections by email. Fortunately
    my associate, his family and friends are all fine.
  3. Share your good ideas. Here is one that I think
    is fantastic:September 2, 2005
    Dear fellow planners,
    For the Hurricane evacuees —I know there are cities and towns in this country that must have
    extra available housing stock. In Florida we are now receiving 3,000
    new arrivals a day (up from our historical 900 a day) and these
    people were living somewhere before.

    My question is, can APA as an organization, and we as planners
    located all over the country, quickly develop a list of locations
    with existing housing stock where people can move permanently and
    be absorbed into existing communities? I believe such a list would
    be very worthwhile and that way we would be able to help guide people
    to permanent new homes, not just cots in sports arenas.

    I know there is a Hurricane help website at www.Katrina.com.
    We could provide the information to APA and then have a link from
    www.Katrina.com directly to the APA site. Should not be difficult.

    So this message is a request to our excellent leader, Paul Farmer,
    FAICP, to consider helping us make it happen. Please?

    Thanks.
    Mary Anne Bowie, AICP

  4. Think again about our code of ethics. Are we, as
    planners, adequately engaged? While the following will offend some,
    the author does make some useful points.AUSTIN, Texas — Like many of you who love New Orleans, I
    find myself taking short mental walks there today, turning a familiar
    corner, glimpsing a favorite scene, square or vista. And worrying
    about the beloved friends and the city, and how they are now.
    To use a fine Southern word, it’s tacky to start playing the blame
    game before the dead are even counted. It is not too soon, however,
    to make a point that needs to be hammered home again and again,
    and that is that government policies have real consequences in people’s
    lives.This is not “just politics” or blaming for political
    advantage. This is about the real consequences of what governments
    do and do not do about their responsibilities. And about who winds
    up paying the price for those policies.

    This is a column for everyone in the path of Hurricane Katrina
    who ever said, “I’m sorry, I’m just not interested in politics,”
    or, “There’s nothing I can do about it,” or, “Eh,
    they’re all crooks anyway.”

    Nothing to do with me, nothing to do with my life, nothing I can
    do about any of it. Look around you this morning. I suppose the
    National Rifle Association would argue, “Government policies
    don’t kill people, hurricanes kill people.” Actually, hurricanes
    plus government policies kill people.

    One of the main reasons New Orleans is so vulnerable to hurricanes
    is the gradual disappearance of the wetlands on the Gulf Coast that
    once stood as a natural buffer between the city and storms coming
    in from the water. The disappearance of those wetlands does not
    have the name of a political party or a particular administration
    attached to it. No one wants to play, “The Democrats did it,”
    or, “It’s all Reagan’s fault.”

    Many environmentalists will tell you more than a century’s interference
    with the natural flow of the Mississippi is the root cause of the
    problem, cutting off the movement of alluvial soil to the river’s
    delta.

    But in addition to long-range consequences of long-term policies
    like letting the Corps of Engineers try to build a better river
    than God, there are real short- term consequences, as well. It is
    a fact that the Clinton administration set some tough policies on
    wetlands, and it is a fact that the Bush administration repealed
    those policies—ordering federal agencies to stop protecting
    as many as 20 million acres of wetlands.

    Last year, four environmental groups cooperated on a joint report
    showing the Bush administration’s policies had allowed developers
    to drain thousands of acres of wetlands.

    Does this mean we should blame President Bush for the fact that
    New Orleans is underwater? No, but it means we can blame Bush when
    a Category 3 or Category 2 hurricane puts New Orleans under. At
    this point, it is a matter of making a bad situation worse, of failing
    to observe the First Rule of Holes (when you’re in one, stop digging).

    Had a storm the size of Katrina just had the grace to hold off
    for a while, it’s quite likely no one would even remember what the
    Bush administration did two months ago. The national press corps
    has the attention span of a gnat, and trying to get anyone in Washington
    to remember longer than a year ago is like asking them what happened
    in Iznik, Turkey, in A.D. 325.

    Just plain political bad luck that, in June, Bush took his little
    ax and chopped $71.2 million from the budget of the New Orleans
    Corps of Engineers, a 44% reduction. As was reported in New Orleans
    CityBusiness at the time, that meant “major hurricane and flood
    projects will not be awarded to local engineering firms. Also, a
    study to determine ways to protect the region from a Category 5
    hurricane has been shelved for now.”

    The commander of the corps’ New Orleans district also immediately
    instituted a hiring freeze and canceled the annual corps picnic.

    Our friends at the Center for American Progress note the Office
    of Technology Assessment used to produce forward-thinking plans
    such as “Floods: A National Policy Concern” and “A
    Framework for Flood Hazards Management.” Unfortunately, the
    office was targeted by Newt Gingrich and the Republican right, and
    gutted years ago.

    In fact, there is now a governmentwide movement away from basing
    policy on science, expertise and professionalism, and in favor of
    choices based on ideology. If you’re wondering what the ideological
    position on flood management might be, look at the pictures of New
    Orleans—it seems to consist of gutting the programs that do
    anything.

    Unfortunately, the war in Iraq is directly related to the devastation
    left by the hurricane. About 35% of Louisiana’s National Guard is
    now serving in Iraq, where four out of every 10 soldiers are guardsmen.

    Recruiting for the Guard is also down significantly because people
    are afraid of being sent to Iraq if they join, leaving the Guard
    even more short-handed.

    The Louisiana National Guard also notes that dozens of its high-water
    vehicles, Humvees, refuelers and generators have also been sent
    abroad. (I hate to be picky, but why do they need high-water vehicles
    in Iraq?)

    This, in turn, goes back to the original policy decision to go
    into Iraq without enough soldiers and the subsequent failure to
    admit that mistake and to rectify it by instituting a draft.

    The levees of New Orleans, two of which are now broken and flooding
    the city, were also victims of Iraq war spending. Walter Maestri,
    emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, said on June 8,
    2004, “It appears that the money has been moved in the president’s
    budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq.”

    This, friends, is why we need to pay attention to government policies,
    not political personalities, and to know whereon we vote. It is
    about our lives.

    Molly Ivins is a syndicated columnist based in Washington. E-mail:
    info@creators.com.


Reader Responses

Unless we get hit with some serious winter disasters (always a possibility here in New England) the “lessons” of Katrina are likely to fade fast in the public memory. The stark images of destruction and suffering will linger, but the lessons might not have been learned.

Ms. Ivins’ article has drawn some complaints, and I suggest that’s because it has the annoying quality of being true. It’s not complete, because our current sad state of affairs certainly is not the fault of the current administration exclusively. But what our current leadership can and should be faulted for is the speed and vigor with which they are dismantling whatever environmental protections they can. One can only admire their dedication and success rate, but it is frightening to ponder the effects on our grandchildren. Knowing that those leaders, too, are parents and grandparents causes me to question their morality, as well.

Some of the housing crises we face today are rooted in the 1980’s decisions to reduce the federal government’s focus on and dedication to affordable housing. That’s not why prices are skyrocketing today, but it may be part of the reason why the lower end of the housing spectrum is both sparse and vulnerable at a time when vitality and resilience are sorely needed. The United States just doesn’t think in the long term, but some of the dismantlers of our protections do.

The storms that ravaged the gulf coast and wrecked New Orleans were predicted and modeled with astonishing accuracy, and it may well be that nothing could have been done in the very recent past that would have prevented the result; it’s a longer story. But while we have the ability to look back and review ten, twenty, even a hundred years of bad or uninformed environmental policy decisions that helped bring us to this point, I fear we lack the resolve to seriously attempt looking ahead to consider policies that are just as clearly known to be necessary. Our leaders are not leading, but unfortunately, neither are the people.

James P. Matteau

Brattleboro, VT


Left dribble/right dribble — it’s all corrosive. Planners are not left/right necessarily. What we should be opposed to is inflammatory dribble of all kinds. Our profession is in many ways responsible for seeing that public decisions get made well. Our job is to facilitate adult discussions based on fact. Our ability to do our job well is often the ability to raise the level of dialogue on difficult issues. I’m always looking for ways tools or advice I can share with my planners on how to turn up the light and turn down the heat on the issues we face.These are frustrating days to be in the adult conversation business, but here is one we site I have found interesting. Its about how to engage people on the government/antigovernment issue.www.demos-usa.org/page283.cfm

David Andersen, AICP

Washington State Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development


This text is from a county emergency manager out in the western part of North Dakota after a recent November snowstorm.Amusing, if it were not so true…WEATHER BULLETIN — Up here in the Northern Plains we just recovered from a Historic event — may I even say a “Weather Event” of “Biblical Proportions” — with a historic blizzard of up to 24 inches of snow and winds to 50 MPH that broke trees in half, stranded hundreds of motorists in lethal snow banks, closed all roads, isolated scores of communities and cut power to 10’s of thousands.

FYI:

George Bush did not come… FEMA staged nothing… No one howled for the government… No one even uttered an expletive on TV… Nobody demanded $2,000 debit cards… No one asked for a FEMA Trailer House… No one looted… Phil Cantori of the Weather Channel did not come… And Geraldo Rivera did not move in.

Nope, we just melted snow for water, sent out caravans to pluck people out of snow-engulfed cars, fired up woodstoves, broke out coal oil lanterns or Aladdin lamps, and put on an extra layer of clothes because up here it is work or die. We did not wait for some affirmative action government to get us out of a mess created by being immobilized by a welfare program that trades votes for “sittin’ at home” checks.

Even though a Category 5 blizzard of this scale has never fallen this early, we know it can happen and how to deal with it ourselves.

“In my many travels, I have noticed that once one gets north of about 48 degrees North Latitude, 90% of the world’s social problems evaporate.”

Donna West

Canyon County, ND


Thankfully, the community planning community has room in it for the expression of the full spectrum of political/social opinion. It’s too bad the writer can’t keep his negative, off-topic opinion to himself. Keep up the good work!

George A. Berger, AICP
City of Newport Beach, CA


In regards to the comment below, Ms. Ivins seems to be more interested in “tearing down” rather than “building up.”

Jeffrey R. Anderson, AICP
Moline City, IL


I may be making a poor choice in responding to Mr. Saulnier’s comment, but these issues require enlightened, analytical response from our professions. I encourage Mr. Saulnier to participate in one of many forums where extensive, substantial dialog is taking place, such as at www.planning.org. Many of us are attempting to rise to the occasion in both our personal and professional actions, large and small. While many urge immediate action and change, part of these actions of response and recovery includes assessment, planning and negotiating changes in policy and practice that should be beyond politics and that will take years to implement. Sadly, by resorting to labels (as did Ms. Ivins), Mr. Saulnier only proved Ms. Ivins’ point. And I believe the word he was looking for is “drivel.”

Bob Kull, PP, AICP

Planygy, LLC


Gee, I liked the dribble – some of the few honest assessments of an administration out of control.  Since its your website, Paul, you keep forwarding whatever you feel is relevant. Mark Saulnier can disgard it if he doesn’t find the material relevant.

Mike Harper
Washoe County, NV


Well, I’d like to thank you for publishing Molly Ivins. I still must admit I find it hard to understand how one can be a professional planner and a political conservative since so much of conservative political dicta dismisses sound planning practices and the facts of how the world works as “liberal dribble.” But best of all is how today’s conservatives just can’t debate issues, but prefer to throw around labels. What a shame that political discourse has disintegrated to to this level.

Daniel Lauber, AICP
River Forest, IL


I think you made a poor choice sending commentary by Molly Ivins
through your newsletter. I get enough of her liberal dribble from my
local version of the NY Times.Mark SaulnierMark Andrew Saulnier Architect, PLLC


Molly Ivins has been a favorite of mine since I lived in Austin many
years ago. Way out here in Reno, Nevada, several of my staff members
and I just spent three days at our Emergency Operations Center assembling
a plan to receive up to 300 evacuees in Reno. Although FEMA decided
over the weekend to halt evacuation flights, the experience reminded
me that our Community Development Department was given this important
task because planners are uniquely qualified to do emergency planning…
and yes, planners do make a difference in people’s lives!

Sincerely,
Adrian P. Freund, AICP
Washoe County, NV

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August 2005 – Getting More With Less

How often do you hear your elected officials suggest that
government needs to provide better and more services at less cost?
A current example is the City of San Diego that the national media is
calling Enron by the Sea because of our severe financial crisis and
even the threat of bankruptcy. We are also in an election cycle for
the Mayor who resigned and two city councilmen who were just convicted
of bribes and extortion. The candidates all have a simple fix, just
get the bureaucracy to be more efficient!

I have long ago given up the notion that simply asking people to work
harder and be more productive has any positive effect. Likewise, you
can only squeeze the efficiency sponge so many times before it stops
giving up liquid.

So, what is the answer? I recently had the opportunity to look at a
large city department of development that seems to do it well, in which
a new director took over ten years ago. Over that ten-year period, workload
(applications) increased 84% while staffing decreased 1.4%. Even so,
the timelines are short, customers are happy, and elected officials
are supportive. I asked the director how he did it. His response:

  • 20% of the improvement came from asking people to work that were
    not working. There is a recent book out titled, Its OK to Ask People
    to Work. It used to be that you could roll a bowling ball through
    the office at 3:00 on a Friday afternoon and not hit anyone.
  • 20% came from carving out work to eliminate. These employees were
    working hard but on work that was not producing a useful product that
    helped the bottom line. These employees were transferred to more meaningful
    work.
  • 40% came from reengineering and systems improvement.
  • 20% came from managers actually managing. I would include in this
    category making the first three items above happen. Also important
    would be learning how to empower employees and stop micro-managing.

You too can do more with less. Give it a try!

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July 2005 – Incivility

Gardiner Morse, the
senior editor at Harvard Business Review recently wrote an
article suggesting that incivility in the office place is like hidden
harassment. I have extracted the following points from her writing.

  • Sexual harassment is so destructive that most companies have zero-tolerance
    policies. Yet other types of antisocial behavior go largely unchecked,
    even though they can be equally harmful.
  • Incivility can be costly in terms of lost productivity and turnover.
    It corrodes people’s productivity, performance, motivation, creativity,
    and helpfulness.
  • Incivility is any disrespectful behavior such as:
    • A boss chewing out a subordinate in front of colleagues.
    • An assistant refusing to lend a hand in a crisis.
    • An employee spreading rumors about a coworker.
  • With fully loaded costs of turnover estimated to average $50,000
    per employee across all U.S. jobs and industries, the dollar impact
    of incivility is clear.

So, what to do?

  • Have zero tolerance.
  • Take an honest look in the mirror (executives should use peer feedback
    and other methods to gauge their own civility).
  • Weed out trouble before it enters the organization (ask how job
    candidates behaved in previous jobs).
  • Keep your ear to the ground.
  • Interview former employees to find out why they quit.
  • Heed warning signals.
  • Don’t make excuses for high-ranking instigators.
  • Teach civility.
  • Crush incivility when it occurs.

All of this reinforces another concept I have been teaching in my management
classes. Organizations can not afford to have a___ h__es on
their staff.


 

Reader Response

Is there any case law to support this? I currently have a number of
unhappy unionized employees who have been quite uncivil towards me recently.
I have verbally reprimanded them for their behavior, but have not yet
taken it to the next level.

Anonymous

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The Doctor’s Response

The only case law likely relates
to standard employee-employee relations and issue of insubordination.
I suggest you discuss specific issues with your organization’s Human
Resource experts and attorneys.

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June 2005 – Manager Or Leader?

This topic
or conflict seems to plague many planning directors as well as leaders
and mangers in general. The following abstracts are some thoughts by
Pattie Vargas in SD Training Trends, May 2005.

Leaders lead and managers do. While it is true that both
roles require very different skills, the line between the two is becoming
more and more blurred. The traditional view of the manager, who simply
told people what to do, is passé. Managers are being compelled
to the front lines where they belong, giving instruction, providing
guidance and — dare we say it — leading the charge.

John Kotter in What Leaders Really Do writes:

  • Managing is working within boundaries, while leading is expanding
    boundaries.
  • Managing is controlling resources, while leading is influencing
    others.
  • Managing is contracting how and when work will be done, while leading
    is committing to get the work done no matter what.
  • Managing is waiting for all relevant data before deciding, while
    leading is pursuing enough data to decide now.

However, the merging of management and leadership skills requires
a change in mindset from focusing on management as a process of control
to one of having the ability to develop and articulate a vision, plan
the appropriate strategy and inspire others to follow.
Organizations need both management and leadership and it is becoming
increasingly important that they inhabit the same bodies. Managing is
a subset of leadership — the good leader must both lead and manage
equally well.

I believe we are in a new age of planning. Communities are desperate
for the kind of leadership planning can provide. But we also need to
deliver the goods. Planning departments in 2005 need directors who can
both lead and manage.

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May 2005 – Before I Was The Director And After I Am The Director

In my management classes, I am continually asked the difference
between being the Director and one of the staff. What does being a manager
and a leader really mean?

Some of the best answers come out of Jack Welch’s new book Winning.
Welch
was the 40-year chairman and chief executive officer of General
Electric, who was described by Fortune as the “Manager of the Century.”
I know that most of you are not doing enough reading, particularly about
management and particularly about management in the private sector.
But trust me — read it. I’m only a third of the way through and am already
excited. Here are a few tidbits from the book so far:

  • One day, you become a leader. On Monday, you’re doing what comes
    naturally, enjoying your job, running a project, talking and laughing
    with colleagues about life and work, and gossiping about how stupid
    management can be. Then on Tuesday, you are management, you’re a boss.
    Suddenly, everything feels different — because it is different. Leadership
    requires distinct behaviors and attitudes, and for many people, they
    debut with the job.”
  • Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself.
    When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.
  • When you are an individual contributor, you try to have all the
    answers. That’s your job to be an expert, the best at what you do,
    maybe even the smartest person in the room. When you are a leader,
    your job is to have all the questions.

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April 2005 – How To Connect With Customers And Colleagues

Good management is all about relationships. Some useful tips on this
come from a book by Jerry Acuff, The Relationship Edge in Business.

The first step is to believe that relationships are important. Once
you do this, learning what interests other people is another key to
success. To do this, Acuff shows a three step process.

  1. Have the right mind-set. You have to think that relationships
    are valuable and believe that you are someone with whom other people
    would want to have a relationship. You must also think well of others
    and learn to think as much as you can from the other person’s point
    of view.
  2. Ask the right questions. The goal of asking questions is
    to discover common ground. This could be mutual friends, interests
    or concerns. If there is no obvious common ground and the other person
    is passionate about something that you know nothing about, your goal
    should be to learn from him or her.
  3. Demonstrate your professionalism, integrity, caring and knowledge,
    and, when appropriate, do unexpected, inexpensive thoughtful acts
    based on what you’ve learned about the other person.
    This process
    can take weeks or even months of thought and care to apply.

Think well of others, even the JERKS. Imagine that every person
has the words “Make Me Feel Important” tattooed on his or her
forehead.

Abstracted from summary books.

Reader Response

Great, simple, straightforward and practical advice.

My new boss doesn’t do any of this. His approach is:

  1. Have the Right Mind-Set:
    Tell staff their work is laughable, garbage, incompetent and unacceptable.
    Get up and leave one-on-one check in meetings when you are through.
    Leave your subordinate sitting there knowing every move they make
    is a lose-lose situation.
  2. Ask the Right Question:
    When asked a question to establish your preferred direction, policy
    choice, etc., refuse to answer or, when pressed, reply that the subordinate
    is a “professional” and should know the answer. That I, the boss,
    will recognize good work when I see it and return garbage when it
    shows up.
  3. Demonstrate Your Professionalism:
    Bump up assignments by 45 days so that the original agreed-upon deadline
    is now two weeks overdue! That will really show the staff who is boss.
    And, Caring. Sit on vacation requests for 4+ weeks, even when the
    4-day vacation request is submitted 8 weeks before the event. You
    have been told the event is a major family wedding across the country
    and requires detailed coordination with extended family members. No
    work-related events are scheduled remotely close to this activity.
    When you grant the request, comment “Go ahead and try to get cheap
    seats now.”

Signed,
Looking for the Exit

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March 2005 – Burn Out

A reprint from Career Builder.com
by Henry Neils with commentary by the Management Doctor

In some ways it was a typical breakfast meeting. The waitress was
pleasant, the eggs were average, and the restaurant was full of busy
people. We shared a cup of black, coffee-like substance, and the first
few times my client took a sip he managed to spill quite a bit of it.
His trembling hand was just one of the symptoms of his burnout. That’s
why we were meeting. He wanted to know if I could help him. I picked
up a fork and explained that as long as I used it for eating, the fork
would last indefinitely. However, if I began to use it to drive nails
or dig trenches, it would soon break. The key was to use it for what
it was designed to do. The look in his eyes told me he got it, but I
still went on to say that people are like the fork. When they do what
they are not designed to do, they eventually break. Sure enough, I had
him take his MAPP Assessment and it showed that he was designed to work
on projects where there was a definite goal. He derived immense satisfaction
from reaching goals. He also needed to work by himself about half the
time. He was a scientist and enjoyed lab time, doing calculations, and
interpreting test results.

What his job required on a day-to-day basis was another story. His
primary task was to supervise a dozen people and maintain operations.
No goals. No projects. No time alone. Consequently, his job was sucking
the life out of him. Much credit for his recovery goes to his boss who
was willing to change the job content to fit the design of a valuable
employee.

So how do you know if you, a loved one, or someone who reports to you
is suffering from burnout? Here are the early-warning signs.

  1. Chronic fatigue – exhaustion, tiredness, a sense of being physically
    run down
  2. Anger at those making demands
  3. Self-criticism for putting up with the demands
  4. Cynicism, negativity, and irritability
  5. A sense of being besieged
  6. Exploding easily at seemingly inconsequential things
  7. Frequent headaches and gastrointestinal disturbances
  8. Weight loss or gain
  9. Sleeplessness and depression
  10. Shortness of breath
  11. Suspiciousness
  12. A feeling of helplessness
  13. Increased degree of risk taking

Comment by the Management Doctor
I see this same problem over and over again in my consulting practice
with planners. Too many move into management because they get higher
pay and they are conditioned to assume moving into management is moving
ahead. Then these people find themselves in a job that is not satisfying
which leads to burnout. As managers, we need to find out what our people
are good at and what they like to do. Then, we find the right job for
them including the right pay. In this way, we focus on people’s strengths
rather than their weaknesses. This is a win-win situation for everyone.

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February 2005 – Making Decisions

I
just discovered a neat little book on decision making, To Do or Not
To Do, A Wisdom Heart Press Book, 2004 by Gary Winters and Eric Klein.

The authors start with this good advice:

  • Hands on as much as needed.
  • Hands off as much as possible.

Written as a parable, the book suggests five alternative ways to make
decisions depending on:

  1. To what degree do you want your staff committed to the decision?
  2. How much time is available to make the decision?
  3. How accustomed is your team to making decisions together?

They also suggest that when people do things because they want to,
they usually give their best effort. When they do things because they
have to, they often do the minimum to satisfy the requirement.

The five ways are:

  1. Now Hear This (the boss makes the decision and announces it)
  2. Trial Balloon (suggest a decision and get some feedback)
  3. Buck Stop (gather others ideas before making a decision)
  4. Life Raft (all in this together, consensus decision making)
  5. You Tell Me (they make the decision)

Reader Response

I’ve always thought it wise to require staff to have a list of alternatives
before asking my opinion. That way, they have buy-in regarding the decision-making
process and often have alternatives that are acceptable.

Pat Cecil
City of Grand Junction, CO

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January 2005 – Make Recognizing Employees Part Of Your Daily Routine

Good managers remember to recognize and motivate employees.
Great managers do it every day. Here are some proven methods for making
sure that praising employees becomes part of your daily routine:

  • Make employees a part of your weekly “to do” list. Add the
    names of the people who report to you to your list of goals to accomplish.
    Then cross off names as you praise them.
  • Use voice mail. Rather than using it only to assign tasks,
    leave employees voice mail messages praising them for a job well done.
    Do it from your cellular phone on the way home.
  • Write notes at the end of the day. Keep a stack of note cards
    on your desk, where you can’t ignore them. At the end of the day,
    take a minute to write thank-you notes to any employee who made a
    difference that day.
  • At the beginning of the day, put five coins in your pocket.
    Then, during the day, each time you praise an employee, transfer a
    coin to your other pocket. It may sound corny, but once you get in
    the habit, you’ll start relying on tricks like this one.

—Adapted from Inc. magazine