Archive | November, 2009

The action – reflection cycle

29 Nov

“Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action” – Peter Drucker

Talking to yourself and answering is called thinking. Talking to yourself and thinking aliens are answering is  called schizophrenia.  The former is terrific, the latter is very bad news.

You cannot not manage others if you cannot manage yourself.  You cannot manage yourself if you do not understand yourself.  You cannot understand yourself, if you do not critically assess your performance.  Everything in your life starts with you.  Never stop working on who you are and you will have a great life and so will others around you.  Consider Mary Poppins magic:  Treat others with respect – everyone – always.

Over the years of working in organizations, I have compiled a list of managerial practices that employees find disrespectful and incompetent.  Consider using this list as a private self-test.  Answering yes to any one of these suggests that you need to do some thoughtful reflection about your management style.

–       sarcasm (Latin root – “tearing flesh”)

–       not listening, ignoring, breaking into conversations

–       sniping (talking about someone when you should be talking to them)

–       punishing or writing policies for “all” for one person’s misbehavior.

–       breaking confidence

–       asking for input when the decision has been made or on trivial decisions

–       not explaining why

–       writing a policy to solve a problem

–       coming to meetings late

–       multi-tasking or side-talking during a meeting

–       email offenses too many to enumerate

Evidence shows that the immediate manager has the greatest impact on employee attitudes and performance. Consistently showing respect for your people is a sure winner for managers. Always remember as manager it is far more important that your people respect you than like you.  For more on this go to  Then click on “click on” and go to page.11.

Mary poppins #2

22 Nov

The Poppins clip is popping with incisive information about good management practice.

1. Mary arrives on site with a clear Purpose.  She has received a letter from the children asking for a nanny but she knows what they are asking is to fix a broken system – their parents. This could be a new project, a promotion, the development of a new process etc. etc. etc.  For Mary it is a turn-around.

2. With her carpetbag she quickly redefines the environment and takes control, in a soft way, of the situation.  She is proactive and the children are no longer running the show.

3. “Never judge things by their appearance” lets the children know that first impressions are important but should be treated as estimates, not facts.  She has not judged, they can influence her opinion through their behavior.  First impressions are hypotheses, if wrong they may drive negative expectations.

4. “A thing of beauty” communicates a useful aphorism and lets the children know something about Mary.  She intrigues them – she doesn’t frighten them.  Managers take note – fear is a usually poor place to start with people.

5. She then measures the situation thereby identifying the issues and establishing a baseline to measure progress.

6.  Measuring herself makes an explicit promise about how she will behave and engages the children in the process of change.  She is going to do it with them, not to them.  The children know, as do employees, what “practically perfect” means.

7. Mary uses magic to focus and maintain their attention.  Managers also have a form of magic – it’s called respect. Unfortunately it doesn’t work as fast as Mary’s magic but it is just as effective.

The explicit and implicit lessons are powerful. Mary knows why she is there, what needs to be done and shows how she will do it.  Through her behavior she drives the emotional context.  The children are inspired. Sounds like leadership to me.

“Well begun is half-done” indeed.  Spit-spot.

Mary poppins #1

17 Nov

Mary Poppins is a great consultant.  She floats out of the sky and changes complex organizations – families.  One of her excellent pieces of advice is “well begun is half done.” Think about all the situations you have been in (meetings, projects, new product or service launches, new initiatives, new hires etc. etc. etc.) that got off to a bad start because no one  prepared properly. And how difficult, if ever, it was to overcome the bad start.  5P = proper planning produces premier performance.

I thought I might catch your attention using the brief clip of Mary below, but when I saw it I was impressed at the density of useful management ideas. Take a look, can you identify what these are?

There are so many it’s easy to miss some.