I never thought about it like that…

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Feedback is free education.

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Regardless of whether you like what you hear, how it was said, why it was said or what the motives of the feedback are, it is a free education for you.

How should you take it.

Getting hard feedback can be difficult to take. Sometimes you may assume a negative purpose from the person giving you feedback. You may not agree with what you hear or like it and may feel the need to be defensive. This is all natural.

However if you assume that regardless of your viewpoint of the person, their feedback on you is how they feel or see you, then you have an opportunity to learn more about yourself. This is after all how someone perceives you.

Do you need to adapt to all feedback? No, it depends, if someone is reacting angerly to you , you may need to approach them again on the feedback when they calm down and you should not add heat to the argument, but in general outside of anger, most feedback is something you can listen to, digest and learn from.

Try not to react negatively, try to be open minded, ask for clarification, hopefully the person giving the feedback is being constructive and not personal. Ask for specifics.

Then take the feedback and think about it, reflect on how you could have behaved differently or how you could adjust to improve yourself. Work with the person to give you feedback in a more positive way if necessary. Follow up with them to see if it is ongoing. During reflection think, have I heard this from others in different forms. What do I need to do to correct this assuming you value the relationship and want to improve.

If you learn nothing else about yourself and what you can do to improve, you will learn something about giving feedback.

What did you like about how they gave you feedback, what could they have done better, this is not for feedback to them, but for you to learn how to give good feedback.

Here are some things to think about when giving feedback

  • Make the feedback about the behaviors and not the person. Depersonalize the criticism
  • Make it constructive, rather than what you did wrong, talk about how they could have approached or said it differently.
  • Do not resort to personal attacks or insults as this will get no one anywhere
  • Try to be specific on the issue.
  • Give feedback with good intentions, make those intentions clear, do not sound patronizing.
  • Listen to the person and understand where they are coming from, as you give feedback you should be open to understanding your role in their behavior .

If you learn to give and take feedback properly, this will encourage others to trust you and will improve your team. Remember if you work on a diverse team you will have many differing viewpoints and people will accept feedback differently.

Try to make it all a learning exercise for you, how you adjust to differing views.

Question:

What is the best benefit you have had from feedback given correctly

What is the best feedback you received?

Don’t forget to comment and give me Feedback, I appreciate your thoughts.

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SURPRISE!!!!

Management do not like surprises. No one likes surprising management so what is going on?

The-Element-of-Surprise

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It is said that the best way to succeed is not to surprise your boss. Flag problems early so they are not surprised by events or caught off guard in other meetings about a problem they were unaware of and do not have a response to.

What leads to us surprising our managers?

Sometimes this comes out of someone wanting to be the superhero, they feel if they can fix it, then why tell management. They want to be able to say they resolved it without help. This is dangerous, as sometimes the issue can become too big for you to handle and now it is worse when management get called then if you warned them early. You do not need to have all the answers, you may not need them to get involved yet, but you should let them know.

“We have an issue, I am working on it, I do not need you help at this time, but I will keep you informed and will reach out when I need your help.”

Remember you may not know the full extent of the problem, there may be other players involved or decisions made you are unaware of. Early warning allows your manager to be prepared and to work with you. It allows them at meetings to not be caught off guard on an issue someone on their team is working on.  I have experienced this and it is no fun when another team ask you a question on some issue you were unaware of and your team is working on.

Sometimes people feel that they do not want to bother their management or escalate items on their colleagues as this may cause breakdown in trust. Let your colleagues know you are bringing this to management and copy them on it. If you are clear on why you are escalating or informing, you will work better with your colleagues, as they will see transparency, build trust and will know when you are asking for management involvement or not, so they are not be surprised if something comes down their management chain. There should be no surprises to your colleagues on messages going to management.

It is possible you underestimated the effort or were over optimistic on your deliverable, even so, it is better to explain this to your manager who can help, then to let if become a larger problem. Admit mistakes, this is much better for management to see that you made a mistake and are self-aware and correcting it, than being surprised by the outcome. Most good managers will reach out to help you learn and move forward.

This no surprise management should work both ways. Your manager should not surprise you and should keep you informed of decisions that affect your work. As a manager, you should also inform your reports of changes in direction, changing priorities and avoid surprises for them. They may not know that something else was happening that has made their work on this more critical to a bigger picture.

Important things to remember as a manager, if you want trust and people to be open about issues, accept the bad news and thank them as this is something you wish to encourage in your teams. If you shoot the messenger, then they will not come back again. Instead, thank them and use it as a learning or coaching experience. This will create an environment that will encourage constructive updates on potential problems before they become surprises. This action should not be seen as escalation, but as a natural part of the business, keeping all informed of what is happening on projects and eliminating surprises.

Question:

When were you surprised as a manager or a team member and how did it make you feel?

What could have happened to prevent this?

 

 

 

Moving chairs on the Titanic

How many times have you had a Reorg.

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People joke if there is more than 6 months gone and you haven’t moved desk expect a Reorg.

Why do we need so many Reorgs. Well some make sense focus limited resources on new areas of the business. But many feel like they are put together because the last one didn’t give the results expected.

After a while organizations become protective of themselves as the constant change happens around them and this leads to people focusing on their narrow scope and success is then not found for the organization so management resolve this problem again with… Yes you guessed it another Reorg.

Folks it doesn’t have to be this way. Almost anything can be achieved in an organization with any organizational structure. Try to figure out why your organization is not functioning and don’t just reorg.

If you get your teams to work across boundaries you break down the walls of the mini organizations and you save yourself from constant Reorgs. Sure there will be reasons for Reorgs and they should happen occasionally. I have seen managers who have declared their Vision and Goals have not changed over X years but, they have reorg’s every year. Guess what you will never achieve them, your organization is living in a state of fear and what happens in a state of fear. Walls go up and people stop working together.

Please work to put in place projects and work plans that break the borders of organization and allow people to see themselves as part of the whole and not of just the part. Hold your managers truly accountable for working across the boundaries and removing them, if they don’t. Remove your managers, don’t reorg them.

I have seen so many great people leave because they couldn’t take the constant reorgs. The constant change disrupts good performers and hides bad performers who get to blame the reorg or constant change in managers.

Next time you think about a reorg, think why am I doing this. What is not working in the current organization and what is the real way to fix this. It is often harder to do this than to reorg, but you solve nothing in 90% of the cases I have seen with a Reorg.

Don’t be a lazy manager.

Question: what is your experience of reorgs

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Here is an article I found interesting

Difference between Leaders and Managers

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In a recent post I talked about honesty being a constant in good managers I have had.

When I wrote this I was talking about adversity and what I wanted or didn’t want in a manager. This brings me to the subject of Manager V Leader.

The main difference I see is a manager uses authority and a leader used Influence. A good manager can also be a great leader, and your organization has many great leaders that are not managers.

Hierarchal structure leads to managers but not to leaders. As a parent I have often dropped my argument in frustration with my kids to the old adage “Because I say so..”. This never inspires people to do amazing things or to go beyond what is asked.

A real leader sets out Big goals and inspires people to achieve them. They have the ability to influence others without having authority over them. A Manager makes you feel they are important, a Leader makes you feel you are important. Great leaders are humble as they know it is not them, but the people, who are delivering on the vision.

Leaders focus on doing the right thing instead of just doing things right, often this involves risk, but they inspire people to take that risk alongside them and the rewards are better for the company as a whole. They focus on what is the right thing for the business instead of what is right for their team, group or career and in doing so they do what is truly right for their team and career.

Great leaders tend to be optimists not pessimist and with any vision many walls will stand in the way of achieving the goal. Great leaders tend to find solutions to these obstacles and always believe there is a way forward, even if they have not yet found it.

They have integrity and are not willing to get there by any means. Through this integrity they build trust in their followers as it is hard to follow someone you do not trust.

I do think a good leader is honest and gives ongoing feedback to the team, but coaches them around their blockers v fixing them, they remove barriers and politics that get in the way of success.

Leaders embrace diversity in every sense, as this brings differing views and better solutions. They avoid group think, a manger may want people to just do what they are told and diversity often gets in the way of this.

Dilbert manager

Courtesy of Dilbert

You know when you have a great leader as they show you a vision of the future and inspire you to want it and you being inspired go beyond what you even expected of yourself to deliver this as you believe in the vision. The inspired individual will work harder and will have more fun along the way as they believe in the vision, they will be more resilient.

This is why when we think of great leaders we are inspired by people like Martin Luther King JR. Nelson Mandela, Gandhi and many people who create the vision that you believe in and are willing to follow them through good and bad times in the name of a cause.

However it is not always a grand world changing goal that is required for great leaders, throughout my career I have seen many great leaders in low level positions that have delivered amazing results through their vision and drive. Many great leaders I have met are not in high positions in the company but often individuals that have no authority over anyone.

Question:

What are aspects of great leadership you have seen?

Do you have any examples of great leadership from non-managers that inspired you in your career?

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Some other blogs on leadership that inspired me:

http://stevekeating.me/2018/02/12/the-vast-difference-between-managing-and-leading/

https://bethebestmanager.wordpress.com/2018/11/12/be-kind/

http://theultimatepsyche.com/2018/10/03/8-people-that-inspire-the-shit-out-of-me-and-that-you-should-know-about-too/

Thoughts to my younger self

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I was asked recently to speak on what advice I would share from my career about dealing with adversity. I spent some time thinking about this and focused on what I know now and wish I knew back then. Here is what I shared as my top 10 items, over the next few posts I will dive into each one and give more of my insights and what I spoke about. Let me know your what your top advice to your younger self would be and any feedback on mine.

1) Put family first, all else is secondary. That is adversity you want to avoid at all cost

2) Assume People come to work every day – to do their best

3) Honesty is best policy

4) Surround yourself with smart people and people who think differently and embrace the diversity

5) Don’t fear Process

6) Set BIG goals

7) Remember you work for your company – Not your department/ group/ team

8) Plan for Success, Mitigate Failure.

9) Tell me why, I don’t like Mondays.

10) Have Fun

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