Back To Basics – Part 2

I feel a little vindicated.  An article in Forbes recently appeared that dealt with the overabundance of email and its impact on the development of quality professional relationships.  The author offered a solution you may have already read on this site – the idea of having a ‘no email’ day – invoking a day where people have the choice of getting up and talking with each other or at the least getting on the phone.  Please don’t burst my happy little bubble by delicately suggesting that this is hardly a new idea.  I know – but it sure felt good to see it in a more legitimate, well read format.  As my babelicious nephew would say – “True dat, Mimi”.

So I’m intrepidly going out on a limb, despite my fear of heights, and offering some other basic principles which I think could bring your employees greater professional satisfaction, enhance the quality of your leadership and perhaps, just perhaps improve your results.  At the least it may give you something to think about.  And as always, if it can provoke a smile, all the better.

1 – You can never learn anything while you’re talking.

2 –  You can have a happily-ever-after work experience – especially if you look at is day by day.

3 – Presenting yourself as one who knows it all, doesn’t inspire confidence or make you a great boss.  It makes you insufferable and impossible to work for (or live with for that matter).

4 – Try congratulating the person who owns up to making a mistake.  I’m serious – I used to do it all the time.  To me it was reflective of the individual’s willingness to take responsibility for the work under his/her jurisdiction and greatly increased the likelihood that such an error wouldn’t occur again.  What I never did was let them take the fall in public – I took the hit.  When all was said and done, I’d ask the employee what the ‘takeaway’ was and was never disappointed by the thoughtfulness of the response.

5 – If you’re going to take professional risks – and we all should – put your faith in those with whom you work.  Let them know that you’re willing to back them and show your trust in them in deed.

6 – I used to have regular meetings with my team.  Twice a year though we engaged in an exercise called “Building BHAGs (big, hairy, ambitious goals).  The rules were few – the goals had to be a little scary, strategically important for the firm, and require that they be achieved collaboratively.  Timelines were established with the knowledge that they could be somewhat fluid and each person tracked their contributions on a SharePoint site.  Eventually they asked me not to come to the first meetings because they wanted to do it themselves, showing me their final recommendations.  They were amazing.  In other words – you don’t have to put your mark on every piece of paper, idea and/or project.  If you’ve developed your people well, give them every chance to shine.

7 – “I’m sorry” are two of the most under-utilized words in the workplace.

8 – “Any new venture goes through the following stages:  enthusiasm, complication, disillusionment, search for the guilty, punishment of the innocent and decoration of those who did nothing – Anon”.  If you are in a position of responsibility, you can change this outcome with a modicum of effort and close attention to the rhythm of the work that is being done, the tenor of the conversations that are taking place and the quality of the activities that will drive the result.  Oh yeah – that’s your job too.

9 – Always, always hire people who are smarter than you and then give them the substantive work that will make them thrive.  It may seem counter-intuitive, but I promise you will not be hiring yourself out of a job – rather making room for you to take on more signficant projects of your own.

10 – Mike Ditka was right – failure isn’t fatal.  The corollary of course is that success doesn’t last forever either.  Learn to accept the ebb and flow of the realities of work.

Finally, think about your professional legacy.  Do you want to be known for something other than showing up?  I’m convinced most of you do. Identify the values and leadership style for which you will want to be associated even when you have moved on to new adventures.  Try one thing differently every week – big or small – and see if there is more you can do to ensure you will be remembered in a way that will satisfy and please you.  And Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone – may each day hold at least one four leaf clover for you.

11 thoughts on “Back To Basics – Part 2

  1. There is a deeper story behind point #3, I am quite confident. The trick on #9 is to let them do their job. If you hire the brightest people but micromanage them, then you are overpaying for unused talent. Be smart enough to get out of their way. A good post for life, not only business.

    • You bet there is – but I would suspect we all have a story (or four) behind number 3. 🙂 I’m right there with you about including that micromanaging of talented people is verboten – get out of their way and let them do their thing. Thanks for your comments – they’re always spot on!

  2. Great advice. I love the thought of a no e-mail day. Scary though, we would actually have to have face to face conversations.

    I also like your last piece of wisdom about shaping your professional legacy and trying something new every week. I’ve got all weekend to figure out what new adventure I will undertake on Monday!

    Have a great weekend.

    • Thank you as always Frank – why don’t you just stay off email on a weekend day to get you started (don’t want to begin with an anxiety attack!)..:-) Enjoy the weekend..m

  3. Mimi,

    I’ve read your insightful comments on the Manage Better Now blog, so I thought I’d come check out your blog.

    There are lots of great tips in this post. Thanks for sharing!

    I really like #9. I’ve heard it said that “A” managers surround themselves with “A” employees while “B” managers surround themselves with “C” employees.

    And I totally agree with #4. Mistakes are going to happen even with high-quality employees. As long as the person was doing their best, it’s usually most effective to focus on what can be learned from the mistake (the “takeaway”, as you mentioned) and then move forward. Also, I think allowing employees to admit they made a mistake keeps them from blaming somebody else or denying that a mistake was made.

    • Hi Greg, Thanks so much for checking out the site. I really enjoy the ‘dialogues’ that begin as a result of the various bloggers out there who share a commitment to better leadership, management – and life in general! I look forward to reading your blogs as well. I like that comment about ‘A’ managers and ‘B’ managers, and think it’s probably pretty accurate. And, I’m a big believer in people owning their errors, though I feel it is up to us to ensure that they feel that they can take responsibility for their results. Thanks again – it’s nice to ‘meet’ you!

  4. Mimi,

    You’re very welcome. And it’s great to ‘meet’ you, too!

    I’ve really enjoyed connecting with some great management/leadership bloggers over the past two months. And it will be a lot of fun to be part of the conversation here.

  5. I’ve only been doing this since mid-January, so I’m a newcomer as well. It’s energizing to hear from so many talented people (and a little intimidating too :-))

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