Tag Archives: management

Ignore Gen Y at your peril

four teen girls looking at cell phone

95% of generation Y have joined a social network

So what?

Well these youngsters of today are tomorrows executives.  They are currently at college and university.  They are on fast track roles to management, middle management and exec level.  You have hired them.  You are training them to be your replacement.  For when you’re taking your foot off the pedal, and want to take things easy.

But you can’t

Because you or your company haven’t embraced social media in a structured way.  You have blocked use at the firewall.  You have restricted use to lunchtimes only or out of office hours. 

You don’t understand how Generation Y work

You are irritated that your kids study plugged into their iPods.  They have Facebook on their laptop, they talk in unintelligible jargon, they send text messages without looking at the keyboard, often when their mobile phone is in their pocket.  They carry out multiple strands of activities at once.  They can multi task better than anyone you know.

These kids are the next generation of leaders. And they use social media as their PRIMARY way of communicating.  If you don’t have a good policy and process in place at your workplace, these graduates will not work for you.  They might come for 6 months and move on to a more forward thinking, flexible company that can accommodate the new way of working.

I’m afraid you have no choice if you want to stay ahead of the field.  Adopt this safely, with some great corporate guidelines, procedures and policies in place and you’ll attract talent from universities and more.  You’ll also attract talent from your less forward thinking competitors who haven’t realised the risks of losing their workforce of the future.

… Unless of course you’re happy with your crowd of Generation Z’s Zzzzzzz……

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Your boss: Is it personal?

For all of those Microsoftees working hard on their commitments for FY11, there are some interesting insights and arguments for introducing social behavioural analysis into the enterprise.  I often hear people wondering whether the end of year rating system is totally fair and if managers personal opinions haven’t had something to do with the score.  This statement might ring true for a few people working in large companies or who have little or no interaction with their manager.  Sameer notes:

If you’ve moved up the ladder at work, you’re aware of 2 things:

1) Manager/Skip Level/ Peer Performance reviews drive progression BUT

2) Soft Metrics (i.e. how your boss and peers generally feel about you) often trump hard documented goals.

Sameers blog post goes on to discuss how the adoption of behavioural targeting can change the way that employees behave.  Often employees who are on difficult to achieve targets will be reluctant to work on anything that doesn’t directly influence their objectives and are focused entirely on themselves or their immediate team.  They are reluctant to collaborate with others as it will impact their performance and ultimately their end of year result.  Unfortunately this isn’t a good idea if you want to have an agile company with everyone in tune about what’s going on and how they can help the company perform better.

When an email is distributed from the execs, the likelihood is that over 90% of the readers of the mail do not do anything about it.  The same is true for social conversations.  Look at your Twitter followers for example and see how many of them actually interact with you.  But this exec memo was written for a reason, and it probably needs an action. 

How valuable to the company are the employees that ignore the email?  And how valuable are those that actively contributes.  Sameer says:

Employees now can become crucial information brokers for these communications and social analytics gives exec comms a good idea of which pockets of influence to tap into to spread specific messages.



If organisations had social analysis tools, like this one by SocialCast, then the valuable interaction and collaboration between your colleagues and peers can be evaluated and their importance to the company as a whole.  Active participants can be rewarded, whilst the lurkers in the organisation can be coached in the best ways to collaborate.

And at the end of the year, if you’ve been collaborating and contributing to your internal network, sharing knowledge inside the company, then there will be statistics to demonstrate your worth to the organisation and the personal opinion of your manager will hardly matter at all.

The new way of working?  I think so. :)

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Keep thinking about the trivial things

I’m still impressed by Rory Sutherland who talked at TED London earlier this year and why you should really think about the little things which are often overlooked in large projects. Unfortunately the general theory is that big important problems require big important solutions and not simple things like using a piece of material to filter parasitic larvae from your drinking water.



Where would we be without Cats Eyes in the road, the hairgrip or the humble safety pin?  They are not very grand items in the scheme of things, but they are actually vital components when doing a job.

The same can be said of other projects involving how to influence humans to do the right thing and to remember that the best ideas often don’t come from the board – but from the workforce itself who are contributing to make the company great.  Small changes are often just what you might need to make a really big difference.

Kudos to the bnet blog for the link.


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Going it alone…

I found a really interesting post on the best article blog today.  6 reasons why people are afraid to start a business.


I identified with a couple of the points.

  • Uncertainty.  When you’ve been used to having a regular business it can be really terrifying not to get paid each month – but when the cheque comes in – it’s large enough to get you through the next few months.  you need to plan your finances properly
  • Indecisions: Do you have a strong proposition?  Are you prepared to change it?  My proposition has changed several times over the year as I refine the service that I deliver.  Be prepared to be flexible

Others I think should be added:

  • Security:  working for a company – even one with threats of redundancy hanging over it might be better than being out on your own.  You might not want to leave the security of the ship that you’re on.  Think about it.  Do you have the courage?
  • Type:  Are you the entrepreneur type?  Do you need to feel part of an organisation or are you proud to be master of your own world?
  • Time:  How long can you see yourself doing this?  A year? 5  years? For ever?  Take a look at your timeline and try to work out if this is REALLY what you want to do.

It can be a scary place to be, but it could be very worth while.  Well it’s changed my life for the better in less than a year…

Go for it! :-)

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Redundancy at Microsoft? Time to move on

I’ve been really upset about the news of the latest round of layoffs at Microsoft and the devastating effects it has had on a couple of close friends of mine. 


They are reeling with shock, they’ve both been at Microsoft a long time and are really convinced that Mary Jo hit the nail on the head with her comments about the long termers being sidelined for new staff.  It’s so sad to read the comments on Mini MSFT’s blog and to have so much empathy from my 8 years in the company.  Having personally gone through the shock and disbelief last year, and having also experienced the wave of support that comes with the shock announcement – well – I thought I’d share a few of my tips to get you through the hard times that might be ahead.

  1. Tell people.  Don’t feel ashamed.  This is NOT a reflection on your ability – it’s just a numbers game.
  2. Start to network online and offline.   Now you are free to spread your wings
  3. Don’t look too long at the closed door.  You might miss the open door opportunity right next to you
  4. This is NOT your fault.  Don’t blame yourself.  It’s not personal.  Well at least I hope to hell that it’s not personal and your line manager / Director / VP didn’t take their personal opinions into account at all.  That would demonstrate just how bad they were at leadership and it should reflect on their OHI / WHI scores if that were true.
  5. Don’t give up.  This is not about you at all.  Consider other roles at the company.  Your dream job may be on the job boards at the moment
  6. Is it time to take a fresh look at your career?  Are you truly happy in your role?  Is this the gentle push to get you to move to another role more suited to your new skills?
  7. Has the role changed so much that you no longer love your job?   Perhaps now is the time to ask those hard career questions about yourself, your manager, your team…
  8. Is your career at a standstill with no promotion prospects?  is this the nudge you need?
  9. Are you brave enough to go it alone?  Are your skills in demand in the industry?  What’s stopping you?
  10. Are you truly upset about the redundancy?  or are you secretly relieved?

Most of all, get some support from your friends.  They will help you get through the next few months whatever happens – and will always be there with a smile, and a shoulder to lean on – and a glass of wine in case you stumble…

and if you ever want to chat… you know where I am…


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Time – where has it gone?

I’ve got a lot more time now that I’ve finished my book and I’ve got a lot more free time than I used to have.  I also have loads of empathy for Ann, who is still writing her book, and as a novel needs to be much more structured than the higgledy piggledy collection of facts and information that I wrote about in my book.

I’m amazed now as to where all of my free time goes. My days whizz by and I seem to have achieve nothing, now that there are no word deadlines to do – just strategy documents to write, and influencers to identify.  What is happening to all my free time?

Well the RSA seem to have the answer with this video – the secret powers of time.


It seems to explain how much busier we all are than we used to be – even with all of our productivity tools.  I also love the graphics that accompany the commentary.  Reminds me very much of Andrew’s drawings at Microsoft…

image Notice the similarity?

Andrew – I think you’re moonlighting and if so, you obviously have too much time :-)

unlike me… 

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Becoming a success

Success Key



This blog post jumped out at me.  All the times when I’ve managed teams, in small companies and major organisations, I’ve had one major goal.  I’ve always tried to make the others in my team successful and I’ve found that it’s the key to success.  So how do you do that in your own environments?




1: By helping them out.

Being the person that they come to with problems, whether IT, skills, career growth or personal, always take time to give them the benefit of your knowledge.  In time you will come to be recognised, as Steven says, the “go to” person.  Your reputation for helping out will grow and you will become the recognised expert and trusted advisor.   You don’t even need to call yourself an expert, over time, others will recognise you as the expert to go to for advice, and in time you’ll hear about your reputation and it will surprise you.

2: By being kind

If someone comes to you for advice, even if its a trivial piece of configuration for their PC, have time for them.  Never criticize, tease, or humiliate them, always have time for them.  I remember someone interrupting me as I was working towards a deadline that I was going to miss.  I don’t even remember what the task was, but I remember I was panic stricken and absorbed in my work.  one of my team came to ask for 10 minutes of my time.  “Sure” I  said.  “Lets go and have a coffee”  He told me that his father had just died and he needed to talk about it.  I wonder how he would have felt if I’d have brushed him away to make my deadline.  He still comments on my kindness, that day years later. 

3: By giving praise freely

People need support, even a small compliment from your manager can make your whole day.  Try to make someone’s day with a little bit of praise.  Don’t attack their weaknesses, but instead find their strengths.  It costs you nothing and will lift their mood.  Even sharing a joke with the security guard on the door at work can lift both of your moods.  It costs nothing to you and the benefits are amazing


Anything I’ve forgotten?…

Good people managers should…


Care about the career progress and growth of their team and those they coach.  So Kevins blog entry on the tech leaders blog made me stop and think.

So many leaders and managers are so focused on short time business results and task based projects that they fail to listen to or empower their teams, which leads to disenchantment and demotivation, which leads to poor business results and project failures.  It’s a vicious circle for both sides.

Mike gets it right when he talks about leadership being “with people” and the 5 skills it needs.  and I’ve called out a few of his examples that particularly resonate with me.

  • Integrity – hold your values strong and don’t sell out for anything
  • Always give your followers the credit for your successes
  • Take the responsibility and blame for your follower’s mistakes
  • Do not self-promote, learn to be a humble leader
  • Regularly ask for others’ views and never judge them
  • Share your vulnerabilities
  • Help your followers anytime they need it
  • Show compassion for others and what they share with youand if you, as a manager or leader can get these skills, then the business results and projects will follow…
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    Tips on how to be a good Manager

    We talk about great managers we’ve known, and great leaders too.  People that are amazing role models to us and people we aspire to emulate.

    Carriere - Groeipaden.jpg

    I do a lot of work with the Management Excellence Community (MEC)) and the Management Excellence Leadership Team (MELT) – remember I did some video clips for the MELT last time I was in Seattle. We’ve been talking about some of the things that we think makes a good, and a great manager so I thought I’d share some tips about what I think makes a good manager and the sort of manager I’d like to have:

    1: Transparency.  Why cover things up and not tell your team the truth.  Wherever possible, tell them everything you can and don’t leave them in the dark.  They’ll work things out – they’re not daft and they will become concerned about what you’re hiding.

    2: Communication.  Talk to your team. properly.  Have good quality of communication and talk to them often.  It stops misunderstandings.  If you have a long distance relationship with one of your team, make sure you communicate with them often to make them feel part of the team.

    3: Productivity.  Don’t push your team too hard.  My team often do number 4 from this list of tips for relaxation and have “cake o’clock” At about 3pm the whole team (and anyone else who wants to come along) will go down to one of the cafes and have coffee and cake.  All welcome.  They get lots of cross team information this way and always come back renewed and energetic (and loud!)

    JG3-3-onderzocht-statsimg3.jpg4: Problems.  This is what my manager says “Bring me bad news early.  It rarely improves with age”.  Talk problems through with the team – they may have the solution.  As you may have the solution for their problem.

    5: Empathy.  You don’t know where you are when your manager doesn’t have empathy – (is he REALLY genuinely interested in your career) which leads to lack of trust.  A great manager can always empathise with your situation – and therefore can truly help you.

    6: Stress.  Try not to show your stress as you will transmit it to the team and pass it on.  Try some tips on finding nature to try to reduce your stress whilst in the office.  I try to walk round the lake on my own whilst my stress levels subside.  Or I go to the gym and punish the cross trainer.

    7: Happiness.  it’s infectious.  I’d hate to work for a miserable manager, and I’d like to think I’m cheerful too.  I follow 3,5,10,14,40, 45 and 49 of these tips to help the team feel happy, appreciated and cheerful.

    So I’m at only 7 tips again.  What do you think makes a good manager, and what would you want from a great manager?

    De fogging our Message

    We’ve been talking about clarity in our Management Excellence meeting over the last couple of days so I was amused to see this post about how baffling we can be at Microsoft. I read the original announcement that triggered this particular post.  Wow, we can really get lost in words sometimes.

    But so can other large organisations.  See this for an example.  What the heck is this phrase (taken from this web site) talking about?:

    “I cannot state too emphatically that figures quoted must be reliable, mean what they are intended to mean, must be self-consistent and conclusions must not be drawn more than the figures warrant. I object to expressions being employed which are useful slang inside the department but almost meaningless outside.”

    Sounds like the guy is asking for the correct and clear figures with no acronyms or buzz words.  There’s a way to work out the fog factor of that phrase.  You need to take all of the words of 3 syllables or more and divide them by the number of sentences to get the average number of long words in each sentence.

    So taking this phrase again:

    “I cannot state too emphatically that figures quoted must be reliable, mean what they are intended to mean, must be self-consistent and conclusions must not be drawn more than the figures warrant. I object to expressions being employed which are useful slang inside the department but almost meaningless outside.” 

    So that’s 9 long words in 2 sentences.  Fog factor 4.5.  Anything over 3 is considered “fog”

    Hmm.  No wonder people sometimes miss the point of what we’re trying to say…

    PS: I just checked my own text to make sure I didn’t “fog” my own message before I hit post.  Something I’ll have to look out for in the future… :-)