Archive | November, 2010

On Firing Others

24 Nov

If you are very lucky manager, you may never have to separate someone from their job.  Although the chance of such luck seems to be declining as time passes.

There is no way to fire someone that will not do damage to some part or all of the person’s life.  A job gives us an income, a social network and an identity.  All of these will take a serous hit.  How people take the hit depends on each person’s situation.

The major mistake people make in firings is they take too long, and thus make them even more painful than they need to be.  I know of a man who was told he was going to be fired and the actual event did not happen for more than a month.  Imagine what that time must have been like for him.  That’s an extreme example. Consider the more typical example of making the meeting go on for more than 10 – 15 minutes. Please remember, once you have spoken the bad news, anything you say after that will probably not be heard. When you plan such an event, try to balance being sensitive with getting it done as expeditiously as possible.

Three articles in Beyond Luck explore in-depth what losing a job is like and how to manage a recovery. “So, You Just Lost Your Job! Now What?”  4.10, How To Find a Job After Being Fired; 4.11 and Finding a New Job is a Team Effort, 4.12.

For 700 more words on
“Is the Internet Making Poor Leaders?” go to:

On Being Fired

17 Nov

Last week I had a long lunch with a friend who had just been fired. He shared a copy of his farewell note to his staff.  I can only describe it as gracious.  This is an excellent example of the best type of respect: Self-respect. When you lose your job, later what people seem to remember is only how you left.  He departed with grace and style. “Courage is grace under pressure” – Hemingway

For most of us being involuntarily unemployed is an emotionally catastrophic experience. Evidence shows it is one of the top five most stressful events.  Most people walk away stunned, even when the event was handled in a sensitive manner (more about this next week).  If you ask, did you see it coming? Most people answer NO.

Living in an uncertain time one should have some possible mental strategies in place for such disasters.  If this happens, try to remember the only thing you can influence is “how you leave.”

Leave with courage.  Enough said.

Next week, what this looks like from the other side of the desk.

For a comprehensive review of why and how it affects you and what to do, check out Units 4.10 (So, You Just Lost Your Job! Now What?), 4.11 and 4.12 in Beyond Luck.

Is Google making Poor Leaders?

9 Nov

A colleague sent me an article in Atlantic magazine entitled Is Google Making Us Stupid? Nicholas Carr argues that web-skimming is changing how we think and making it difficult for people to attain deep reading and thus deep thinking.  He notes that he can no longer read more than three pages without losing his attention, making long, complex material  inaccessible to him.  Citing anecdotal information from colleagues and early studies that show this to be the case, he wonders what will be the benefits and costs of this mental change. This is a long, intriguing article that requires both deep reading and thinking, so if you can get through it you are probably still OK.

Deep thinking is closely related to reflection and reflection is widely held to be an essential ingredient in leadership.  So, how much time do you spend each week in your head, deeply thinking about something for more than a few minutes?  If the answer is not much, then you may have developed an interesting barrier to leadership in your head.

Technology also encourages multi-tasking. Psychologists have clearly shown that people do one thing at a time and that multi-tasking is really just fast switching.  How many of you have experienced “flow,” that very high level of mental productivity when you mind seems to be operating at warp-speed?  Interesting observation, if you are always multi-tasking, then you can never get flow.

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Starting a New Job = Big Opportunity

3 Nov

The opportunity in a new job is that you can set aside baggage and make a fresh start. How you make this start is fairly important to your success.

Understanding and appreciating the key relationships in your workspace is one key approach. Your relationship with your immediate manager is critical to your success. This is the person who can help you succeed or, if she chooses, make you fail. The key here is to understand that your manager is very busy and it is up to you to take responsibility for this relationship. For a more in-depth review, the Harvard Business Review has an outstanding article entitled “Managing Your Boss.”

To tweak your interest, here are some of the things they recommend:

Make sure you understand your boss and her context.  Develop and maintain a relationship that fits the needs and styles of both parties, is defined by mutual expectations, keeps the boss informed, is based on dependability and honesty, and selectively uses your boss’s time and resources.

Every job where I have been successful, this was the core element of that success.  For more go toTake steps to start a new job the right way

This blog is dedicated to Rong Wang, have a great life in America Grace