Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Cultivate Characteristics of an Effective Organization

Lesson 7

Creativity: These days, many businesspeople hear the word creativity and automatically think of finances in the same way that stretching used to be something you only did during exercise.  The creativity I'm referring to is originality of thought and execution, which are becoming increasingly necessary in today’s business arena.  Creativity is the steam that powers the locomotive of progress.

When the heat’s on, the same old way of handling situations just won’t cut it any more.  The same old routines are probably what gets you into trouble.  Down pressures are changing in nature and intensity.  Up pressures are coming from the rapidly changing dynamics of a workforce with a new identity.  Lack of originality in thinking and behavior is a sign that you're vise is slowly closing in.

Energy: Any effective organization has an energy you can sense as soon as you enter the office.  Even if only one person is in the office at the time, you will still be able to feel it.  The thought might even pop into your head that this could be a fun place to work.  Andrew Carnegie, the great industrialist, said, "I've found there is little success where there is little laughter."

When you walk into the other kind of office, the one with low or no energy, you feel that too.  It’s like walking into a big refrigeration unit.  The chill makes you shiver.  Even if only one person is sitting there, you still feel the chill.  Some offices might as well have a sign on the wall that says: Fun is forbidden.  Anyone caught enjoying what they’re doing will be punished.

Where there is no fun, there is no energy.  How long does it take to detect energy or lack of it in an office?  Within five seconds, you can tell how much fun it is to work there.  Your customers can tell the same thing within five seconds of being greeted by one of your team members. 

Change: Change is what happens when you mix creativity and energy.  An effective organization is a changing organization.  I don’t say that the other way around because it is possible for management to change the look, the staff, the location, and a thousand other things about an organization in an attempt to artificially produce effectiveness.

Change that does not emerge from a healthy combination of creativity and energy will look, feel, and taste synthetic.  Creativity combined with energy produces change from within.  Changes imposed from outside feel like impositions.  Changes from within are self-regulated and guided by realism.  Here are three methods of building energy, creativity, and change:   

  • Analyze the steps used to solve a very difficult problem that you or a team member experienced in recent months.
  • Learn what "vibes" the average customer picks up when they initially meet any of your team members?
  • Identify a change you can initiate right now to make your organization more effective.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Leadership When the Heat's On: 24 lessons in high-performance management

 Lesson Six

Practice Humanagement

Humanagement is simply the ability to use the job to develop the person while having fun in the process.  My entire emphasis changed as I stopped managing my people like a bunch of livestock and began leading them as people.  It occurred to me I could help each individual unlock the talent he or she had inside, as well as to:

  • Set more meaningful goals (personal and professional)
  • Better understand and plan their time
  • Use more of their creativity
  • Better handle their stress
  • Feel safe pushing their envelope

If I had an office full of happy, growing people, I thought, there’s no telling what we could accomplish.  Sure enough, when they began taking a new and enriched mind home at night, instead of a sore, tired, and aggravated one, our entire universe expanded beyond anything we would have previously thought possible.

Don’t forget the “...while having fun in the process” part.  I don’t mean you open the office with a joke every morning.  My experience has proven time and again that people who grow and develop to the point they can handle problems they would not have been big enough to handle in the past are happier people.  They are happier because they are more fulfilled and actualized.  When an office full of people becomes more fulfilled and actualized, morale goes up.  With higher morale comes higher productivity.  I’ve never seen it fail.
Staff turnover also drops.  With low staff turnover comes more bonding and team spirit.  High turnover results in suspicion and a lack of personal investment in the job.  It’s difficult to feel a part of an organization if the probability of losing your job is high.  There are the managers who swear their organization has a terrific atmosphere, but people leave because the money is not competitive.  There are also bureaucracies where people stay forever, even though they are miserable.  A good logo for them would be: Repeating Yesterday, Inc; Home of the Living Dead.

Nobody is having fun in either case.  People leave the first organization because they’re not happy, not because there's more money elsewhere.  The value of having fun on the job ranks above money.  The ability to enjoy the work and the working environment is a stronger hold on people than higher wages in an unpleasant job and environment.  Ask yourself the following three questions to help get positioned and mentally prepared to practice Humanagement: 

  • What can I do to set a better example for my team of the five bulleted points above?
  • If my team members were asked to rate how much fun they have working for me what would my grade be?
  • What's the gist of the conversations that are being carried on about me at night in the homes of the people that work for me?

“Help a team member grow, and you will receive respect in return.”