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Principle of organizational memory January 13, 2009

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Decison making, Getting what you want, Grow your skills, Handling hot buttons, Management, Management Principle, Managing up.
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Does it irritate you when senior management reserves the best parking spots for themselves? How about when the executive have their own dining room, or when they travel, they travel first class. The Big Dogz do not like these irritants any more than you do — they ignore them for now. As the Big Dogz build their personal power and acquire more position power, they remember what it was like to be in the trenches. The Big Dogz apply the principle of organizational memory!

 

It is not effective to complain or fret about senior management actions or attitudes. These actions are not within your circle of control — you cannot change them. The Big Dogz capture the irritants in an ongoing file called “Things I will not do when I get to be a senior manager.” It is not the place of the Big Dogz to publicly criticize or critique senior management behavior. If you are asked for feedback or your offer of feedback is accepted, then you may give your observation. Otherwise, make an entry into your file. When you get to that level, review your file and make sure you are not doing those actions.

 

Many times, the average manager will automatically adopt the behaviors of their predecessors. Well, the VP of Development gets to park in this spot, so I may as well do it. I deserve it! I am flying on that business trip with two of my people. They are in coach and I am in first class. I deserve it! What these managers do not recognize is that the things that irritate them also irritate others. Why do something that irritates your followers and reduces your personal power? One of the first tasks you undertake when you are promoted is to evaluate what your predecessor did that irritated you. Then decide if you will continue or eliminate the practice. But first, you need to be promoted. You get promoted by managing power.

 

I have talked about how to get power in previous entries, but here is a quick review. First, you get personal power, and then because you are more effective than your peers are, you are promoted to a job that has position power. You use this position power to access more potential personal power. This new personal power gets you more position power – and it is a growing spiral.

 

Here are some examples of applying the principle of organizational memory:

 

  • Management planning meetings are held offsite at a nice place and include lunch or dinner. Key project planning meetings are held in the big conference room and everybody gets their own lunch. The Big Dogz will make sure that moving management meetings off site are really required. They will select key project planning meetings to be held offsite.

 

  • Senior management waits until the last minute to make change announcements, and then they expect a quick implementation. The Big Dogz know that sometimes this is unavoidable for solid business reasons. Most of the time it is not! When you get to be the senior manager, you will include as many people as early as possible in your decision-making.

 

 A classic example of organizational memory is the response of General Norman Schwarzkopf in the 60 Minutes interview during Desert Shield. He talked about how when he was a battalion commander in Vietnam, the generals were in the rear eating off white tablecloths and being served by soldiers. His response was “That’s not going to happen in my command. It better not happen!”

 

Not all us have the opportunity to have such clear irritants. For sure, you experience actions and attitudes that irritate you. I think this situation is quite widespread in the corporate world, but I need data to support that assumption. I have a request of you.

 

Please send me your observations about something senior management does that is irritating. In this economy, there is an abundance of examples. If you could state what they did and how you would do it differently, it would be useful for everyone.

 

When I get a large enough number of these responses, I will summarize and post them here. I will also send you an email alerting you to the posting so you can see how others are applying this principle along with a file containing the responses. I promise to scrub them so the source is not identified.  Having current real world examples can really reinforce this principle and give the Big Dogz suggestions on what to do in their organizations. Please take the time to be heard.

 

rbonder@gmail.com

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Giving feedback to your manager December 12, 2008

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Feedback, Management, Managing up, Performance issues.
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The Big Dogz always welcome feedback. Even when the Big Dogz are in a management position, they openly request and value feedback. Giving feedback is easy when the manager asks you for it. Not all managers are like the Big Dogz! Sometimes it is difficult to give your manager feedback, especially when they are not open to the notion of getting feedback.

 

The problem may be the way you deliver feedback. Most people are reluctant to receive ineffectively presented feedback. Most people are happy to receive constructive feedback. Effective feedback is about a result or a behavior that affects a result. It is not personal. When you give feedback, be specific and cite examples. Avoid labels — both positive and negative labels. Statements like “You were really professional in that presentation” or “You looked unprepared in that presentation” are not useful and do not tell the recipient exactly what is your feedback.

 

Examples of effective feedback are:

  • Our objective was to address the objections of the customer. In the presentation you made to the customer, I saw you use sarcasm in response to a question the customer had. You said …
  • I know you are working to be an effective coach. In our last session, you identified three specific actions I could take to improve my performance. I appreciate your focus on helping me.
  • Our relationship is important to me. I get frustrated when you raise your voice when correcting me. Yesterday when I showed my progress report, you shouted at me.

 

Here are three ways to approach your manager if you have effective feedback for them:

 

Ask them directly if they want feedback.

Before you approach the manager, make sure you have at least one positive piece of feedback to deliver. The first step is to get the manager alone and ask, “Would you like some feedback?”  Pay special attention to how the manager answers your question. If you get an uninterested or frustrated “Yeah, what?” kind of response, deliver your positive feedback and move on. Obviously, this manager is not really interested in getting feedback from you. If you are fortunate and work for one of the Big Dogz, they will respond in a positive and eager way, encouraging you to provide the feedback. When you get this response, give the positive feedback then any corrective feedback you may have.

 

Ask them for feedback on how you are contributing to the manager employee relationship.

If you are not comfortable asking your manager if they want feedback, then ask them to give you feedback about your relationship. An example of this question is “I value our relationship as manager and employee and I want to make sure I am contributing to that relationship. Could you please give me some specific feedback on how I am doing?”

 

The manger will undoubtedly have some feedback for you. Some of it will be positive, some of it corrective. Whenever the manager gives you the feedback, listen to what they say and respond with “Thank you”.

 

Once the manager is complete, thank them for taking the time to help you. If your manager is paying attention, they will ask you for feedback on how they are doing. Now you can deliver your feedback.

 

Ask them to coach you on a behavior you think they need to improve.

This is an effective technique to use with a manager not open to feedback. You identify a specific behavior you want the manager to change, and then you ask them to help you avoid the behavior. Your manager may be constantly interrupting you in meetings. Using this approach, you would ask the manager to help you reduce interrupting others in meetings. Ask the manager to give you specific tips or techniques that will help you to reduce this behavior. If the manager keeps interrupting you, go back and ask for more coaching — ask them how they would stop interrupting. It may take awhile, but this technique will work with your dedication.

 

Giving feedback to someone who does not request it is difficult. The Big Dogz know if they are flexible in process, they will eventually succeed in getting that feedback to the manager. Try these approaches and let me know how it works for you. Email me rbronder@gmail.com

 

 

Handling feedback from your manager December 5, 2008

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Coaching, Feedback, Managing up, Performance issues.
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Ouch! Getting corrective feedback is not always pleasant. The Big Dogz know that corrective feedback is the most powerful feedback — it helps you grow! So how do we handle feedback from our manager? Here is the Big Dogz view on feedback.

 

First, we must understand there are two types of feedback — performance feedback and behavior feedback.  The former is most easy to deal with. When your manager gives you a performance objective, ask your manager to provide a SMART objective.

Specific

Measureable

Actionable and aligned

Realistic

Time phased

In addition, make sure you can check on your progress without having to interact with your manager. With these conditions, you can assess your progress on the task and seek help or coaching when needed. These feedback sessions will not be a surprise to you. The Big Dogz take responsibility for their performance on an objective and keeps everyone informed of the progress.

 

It is the behavioral feedback that catches us by surprise. Of course, there are two types of behavioral feedback — positive and corrective. We sometimes associate the words compliment and criticism with these types of behavior. The first thing the Big Dogz do when getting behavior feedback is to look at the feedback as a positive event. Whenever your manager gives you behavior feedback of either type, try to associate the feedback to some objective or goal you are trying to achieve. Do not take it personally!

 

For example, if your manager told you that you were effective in answering question at your steering committee presentation, relate that feedback to your desire to gain positive visibility in the organization. If the feedback was corrective, for example, your responses to questions were ineffective; this feedback affects the same goal.

 

Not everyone is competent at giving behavior feedback. Be tolerant of managers who blurt out stinging remarks. They just do not know how to deliver feedback. Do not let their lack of competency impact the value you can get from feedback. In any feedback event, ask your manager to provide specific examples.

 

Stay calm and do not get defensive. Make sure you understand the examples. You do not need to agree that the examples are either positive or corrective! This is the best part of getting behavior feedback. Whatever the feedback, you now know how to respond to questions when your manager is present!

 

After you get this type of feedback, thank your manager for taking the time to help you grow. Go back to your cubicle or quiet place and reflect on the feedback you received. In most cases, the feedback has a great deal of truth associated with it. Try to find this truth and identify how you will be more effective in the future.

 

If you have an opportunity to be in a similar situation with your manager again, ask them to provide you with feedback after the event. With the right preparation, you can turn a corrective feedback into a positive feedback.

 

Although it is sometimes painful to hear behavior feedback, the Big Dogz always ask for it. In my own situation, I have learned to value corrective feedback more highly that positive feedback! It seems that I intuitively know when I engage in successful behavior. When I engage in ineffective behavior, I tend to shift responsibility (blame) to other factors like the timing, the environment or the other person. When I learn that I contributed to the ineffective result, helps me avoid those situations in the future.

 

Be one of the Big Dogz! Start asking for behavior feedback today.

Manage your manager for more effectiveness November 28, 2008

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Getting what you want, Management, Managing up, Relationship, Uncategorized.
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p5130012.jpg After you, the most important person to your success is your manager. The Big Dogz know that having a good relationship with your manager is a key to harmonious, stress free and highly productive days. Let’s look at one of the elements essential to your relationship with your manager.

 

Know them as a person.

  1. What are their professional goals? Your manager is managing other managers or people. What are they doing? How can you help? Be on the lookout for opportunities that can help your manager in areas other than your assigned responsibilities.
  2. What are your manager’s strengths and areas for improvement? Give your manager an opportunity to help you by utilizing a strength they have. Look for opportunities to provide services in areas where your manager needs improvement. A personal example of this was my own weakness in doing budgets. I really appreciated when one of my direct reports would volunteer to do this odious task for me.
  3. How does your manager like to communicate? Are they a visual person, do they like lists, charts, graphs or text? Are they email oriented or do they appreciate face-to-face interactions? Do they like lots of detail or prefer summary information? Find out how they like to communicate, and then communicate that way. Just being aware of your manager’s communication will make your relationship stronger.
  4. What questions does your manager ask? We have discussed the customized “need to know” profile for your people. This concept also applies to your manager. Whenever your manager asks you a question, write it down. When you do this over a short period of time, you will see a pattern with the topic your manager is interested in. now use that topic as the lead in to your communication with your manager.
  5. When does your manager perform most effectively? Some people are morning people; others are afternoon or evening people. Watch your manager for signs that give away when they are most effective. Optimize your engagements around these times. It is an excellent time to ask for coaching — they will be at peak performance. This knowledge also lets you avoid times when your manager is not as receptive.
  6. What irritates your manager? We all give off signals when we are irritated. Observe your managers reactions when you or others deliver news. When you have news that may irritate your manager, frame it around some particular goal they may have. Wait until they are at peak performance to deliver the news. Be on the look out for ways to circumvent these types of events.
  7. What pleases your manager? This is the opposite of above. Being the bearer of good news has its value.
  8. What kind of solutions do they like? Whenever you need to approach your manager with a problem, always provide a suggested solution. I always tried to come up with three possible alternatives and a recommendation. Coming to your manager with no solutions is worse than coming with wrong solutions. Your manager may prefer solving problems with money, or people, or reduction in scope or whatever. Pay attention to the solutions your manager proposes or accepts. Recommend these types of solutions to problems.
  9. What are your manager’s personal interests? People like to talk about what interests them. Your manager is no exception. Find out in daily conversations what their hobbies are, what sports teams they like, what shows they watch on TV, and any other personal information you can. The best way to get this kind of information about people is to tell them something about yourself first, and they will generally tell you something about themselves.

 

The Big Dogz know that paying attention to your manager as a person yields high dividends. Make a plan on how you will get to know more about your manager, and how you will use that information to be more effective.