Showing posts from December, 2018

What To Do In The Down Time

This is my favorite week of work for the year, between Christmas and New Years. I'm not a huge fan of the holidays with all of the traveling and family dynamics, things can get pretty crazy. But at work it is just the opposite, so many people take the week off that I'm free to set my own agenda. Very few meetings are scheduled, if any. Fewer people around mean fewer problems to find and solve. It means four days of getting caught up because not as much new stuff coming in. It means getting to organize and clean up task lists, hopefully crossing a few nagging ones off.

It also is a time where I do more reflecting on strategy. What are the things I'm going to focus on in the new year? What areas do I need to work with in my team this year? What didn't we accomplish that we still need to? What needs to happen to set things up for the greatest chance of success?

Taking time off to refresh and recharge is a good thing, but I want to take time off when I am actually in need o…

As Iron Sharpens Iron

There are many styles of management and leadership, just as no two people are alike, no two leaders do things the same. I've had managers that you would consider a micro-manager. They have to know every little detail of everything, basically making you feel like you are incompetent even though they say they value you. Worse than that are the managers that like to exert their power, frequently remind people that they are in charge and will lash out at anyone that challenges them even if it is a better idea.

On the other side you have the managers that trust you completely, who are so hands off they have no real idea what you do every day, they just know and trust that it is getting done. On the surface this seems like a great thing, but eventually you run into challenges that you need help navigating and someone you can go to for advice. When there isn't anyone else that understands things it can leave you feeling isolated.

What we really need is both. We need to have people tha…

Changes And Newness - An Opportunity For Better

It has been an interesting and crazy last couple of weeks for me at work, but it is probably the most energized I've been in at least a year. Aside from the normal every day craziness, we are in the process of rolling out some new tools and procedures on how to organize our work and requests. I didn't realize how much energy starting something new gives me. To start with a blank canvas, learning from the last paintings you did and seeing all of the possibilities it can become, there is no greater feeling in the world to me.

I've written about starting new things before (here and here). I've never been a person that minded going through change, which is unlike many people. But the thing that I realized is that it isn't about change, or the shiny new toy to play with that will be less interesting in a few days. It is about the opportunity to create something better.

Usually you are going through a change, trying something new, because things aren't going as well a…

Where To Start When Changes Need To Be Made

It is easy to find things that need to change. People that need to do things better at work. People that need to drive better on the road. People that need to learn to count their items before they get in the express checkout lane. So many people need to change things that would definitely make our lives easier.

If we do any self correction, we make ourselves out to be a minor part in the play. Necessary but not the most important part.I realized that I was doing some of that myself but then I realized that maybe my part was bigger than I was making it out to be. As I was thinking about this the Michael Jackson song Man In The Mirror came to mind and I looked up the lyrics.

One of my core philosophies in my life is, "The only person I can control is myself."

Sometimes we need to realize that when things aren't working we need to start with the man in the mirror. We can't control everything but we can control ourselves. What I can control is my attitude, my words, my …

What Engineers Can Teach Us About Communication

We've been doing some research lately looking at Agile Software Development to improve how we manage our workload. I've written before about communication and its importance so in reading through some things words like individuals, interactions, communication, collaboration and teamwork really stuck out to me. Agile emphasizes the importance of face-to-face interaction. Even in this day with distributed work forces across the world they suggest web-cams, it isn't as great as actually face-to-face, but it is better than an email.

We are so reliant on technology today, not that technology is a bad thing, we just need to understand its role. Studies are starting to show that the open office concept is actually shutting down face-to-face conversations. (Article) I would be willing to bet the amount of innovation and strategy is higher when you are gathered around a white board rather than reading through a never ending email chain. Someone should do a study on that. I look at t…

Answer The Question Why

Do you remember that game you played as a kid, where you tried to be annoying to your friends or parents by continuing to ask the question why?

Parent - We're going to see your grandparents.
Child - Why?
P - We haven't seen them in a while.
C - Why?
P - Because we've had something every weekend the last month.
C - Why?
P - Because that is when things are scheduled.
C - Why?
P - Just go get your shoes on and get in the car.

I'm not advocating being annoying, but we don't ask and answer the why question enough. Who, what, where, when and how are also important but there is something interesting about the question why.

Go through your day, do you actually know why you do some of the things you do? You have your job to make money, pay the bills. But why do you work where you do and do what you do for a living? Do you know why some tasks are done, or do you just do them because you've always done them?

As leaders, we need to not be afraid to ask why. We also need to …

The Power In Our Words

Last week was a bad week for me. Nothing really major, just little problems at work and feeling like I'm not getting the job done. You know that feeling when you start debating in your head about what you believe people think about you. That maybe you aren't good at your job or whatever area of your life is weighing you down. That was me, trying to justify to myself why things were the way they were and knowing they are moving forward in the right direction, just never near as fast as I would like them to be.

But an encouraging word came, when it didn't need to be sent it arrived right when I needed to hear it. It allowed me to refocus and stop stressing about the things I couldn't control.

Our words have such power and too often we only use them to tear each other down. We withhold saying what we're thinking for the fear of sounding cheesy or insincere. Each of us contain so much ability to lift up, strengthen and motivate each other. We have the ability to restor…