Thinking of Working From Home? Mon 14 May 07

Working_virtually_can_be_a_rough_liI ran across a post "My flexible friend the office" by Tomas Mcinernery over at IT@Intel Blog.  Mcinernery does a good job of talking about some of the issues dealing with telecommuting.  He talks about the need to have a policy and working with Human Resources and the Legal departments to determine to what extent can people work from home with out breaching regulations or local work rules and laws.  He also mentions looking at the technical issues to make sure your employees come in via a secure connection.

While Mcinernery does discuss the issues such as employees feeling isolated, the complications of mentoring and developing junior staff I think a lot more needs to be said about the human factor in telecommuting.

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Lead Well and Prosper Fri 11 May 07

I just completed reading Lead Well and Prosper (93 pages Be Good Publishing) by Nick McCormick.  This is a fast read book that outlines 15 strategies for becoming a good manager.  McCormick lays this out in a very simple straightforward manner.  He illustrates each strategy with a real world example and then follows this up with a brief discussion.  You can quickly read the whole book or just a chapter here or there as an occasional refresher or reminder.

As an IT guy it was encouraging to learn that in his other life Nick is an IT manager for an information services company.

I especially like that at the end of each chapter he list a couple of quick bullet points on  "Do's", "Don'ts" and "Actions".  One that caught my attention was at the end of the Chapter 1, "Adopt a Serving Attitude".  One of the Don't items was "Constantly refer to the team as 'my team' or 'my group'.  Rather, use the team name (e.g. the accounts payable team) or simply 'our group'."  Some very practical and actionable advise that says a lot about how you think of the team you are managing.

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Put me in, coach - I'm ready to play today Fri 04 May 07

Andrew_and_coach_edstuartmoulder This past week my friend and career coach Kent Blumberg was in town and we had the opportunity for a quick ad hoc coaching session.  As luck would have it on the drive home that night I heard John Fogerty's classic song, Centerfield, with the refrain:

Oh, put me in, coach - I'm ready to play today
Put me in, coach - I'm ready to play today
Look at me, I can be center field

This got me thinking.  I'm fortunate to have a coach from outside the company that can provide some independent, objective suggestions.  Our employees usually are not as lucky.  They typically have to dependent on their managers and supervisors (gasp, gulp) -- us!

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Revisiting the CIO Reporting to the CFO Fri 27 Apr 07

Accountant Back in October I talked about the CIO reporting to the CFO.  A few days later I reported on a "State of the CIO" survey that Chris Koch discussed in his blog.  I suggested that the CIO really needed to report to the CEO rather than the CFO to be strategic.  Back then I said,

The difficulty is in the chicken or egg argument.  Does IT report to the CFO because it is tactical or is it tactical because it reports to the CFO?  But as Koch correctly reports, ". . . something is sure to crop up around the corner that could present an opportunity for a company that uses IT tactically to start using it strategically. Bury your CIO inside finance and you'll be sure to miss that opportunity."

Last week Brian Gillooly in his CIO Nation blog gives us a Sneak Peek at "Defining the CIO" Research.

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Remember What Your Mother Taught You - Always Say Thank You. Wed 18 Apr 07

Annie_4 Anne Fisher, a senior writer for Fortune magazine had interesting article in her recent "Ask Annie" column.  Her column Why saying "Thank you" is more than just good manners highlights how important it is to sincerely recognize people for their contributions.  In this post she quotes some research that indicates that companies that have a culture of recognizing contribution and excellence show better performance than those that don't.  This is all based on the book "The Carrot Principle" by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton.  More information is available at www.carrots.com.

While I believe it is a good idea to recognize people I'm always skeptical when people try to link one management trait to superior company performance.    Superior company performance result from many things not just one type of action.  In this case I think you should recognize people simply because it is the right thing to do and the right way to treat people.  You shouldn't need a monetary incentive to do this.

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You Can Learn A Lot From A Used Car Salesman: That's The Way We Dooz It Mon 09 Apr 07

King_generic_promo_still_320x240One of my favorite TV shows is King of Cars on A&E.  And it is not just because they have the greatest theme song since the Miami Vice TV show's theme song.  The show is about Towbin Dodge in Las Vegas that is the #1 used car dealer in the country.  It follows the daily activities of Josh "Chop" Towbin  a.k.a "The King of Cars" and his sales team.  Chop became famous for the unusual bi-weekly infomercial featuring his sales team as some rather strange characters to say the least.  Chop and his show have a very interesting story and although not everyone is a fan of his techniques you do have to say the show is entertaining.

However, this article isn't about selling used cars or about being entertaining.  It is about managing, developing, and motivating your employees.  Chop shows a rather unique management style and ability to develop and get the most from his employees.

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Director of First Impressions Wed 21 Mar 07

HandshakeRecently I had occasion to visit the headquarters of the large company here in Houston.  Stepping off of the elevator I came to the reception desk on which there were 2 signs.  One sign listed the name of the receptionist.  The second sign listed her "title", Director of First Impressions.  What a refreshing display of the realization that the impression people form of your organization starts with there very first contact regardless of who it is.  It was obvious that the receptionist understood that.  She was very professional and efficient in answering incoming calls while greeting visitors.  At the same time through her demeanor you felt like you had her attention and that she (and by extension her company) was happy to see you there.  She (and thereby her company) made a great first impression.

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Another Day In Paradise? Mon 19 Mar 07

ParadiseI recently ran across 2 articles that have a major theme in common.  The first was an eWeek.com article by Deborah Perelman entitled How to Stop the Dilbertization of IT.  She is of course referring to life in IT as a cubicle gnome beset by meaningless tasks, vague strategies and clueless leadership as personified by the comic strip Dilbert.  The bottom line in this environment is that IT isn't fun any more.  This naturally generates the question, "If I'm not enjoying working here why should I stay?".

Mary Ann Maxwell recently published an opinion piece (Hidden Talent) in MIS magazine on the need to keep people happy as a way of retaining them.  In line with Perelman's article Maxwell asks the critical question:

Why would a talented person want to work here?

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Empowering Employees In Their Professional Development Wed 07 Mar 07

Power One of the great thing about writing a blog is the comments you receive.  Sometimes within those comments you find some insight that turns out to be of greater significance and import than the original posting.  Such is the case of with one of the comments I recently received on my posting What Color Are Your Employees?.  That posting was about being attuned to employee attitudes and morale and acting to prevent excessive employee turnover.    In that post I made a comment in passing about being open to such things as giving sabbaticals, providing training etc. as a way to develop employees and keep them within your company.  A friend of mine, Ernie Perez left a comment and a followup talking about his experiences with employee professional development.  Ernie is the Executive Director of the Greater Houston Career Alliance a non-profit organization that provides an informal network of Houston area community and faith based job transition support ministries.  Ernie is the unofficial coordinator of over 30 non-profit job support groups in the greater Houston area.  He tirelessly works toward finding people work and has a wealth of knowledge about career development.

Ernie commented on a way to provide employee professional development that also empowered the employees and improved morale.  What he said in his comments was:

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Leadership Conversations Mon 05 Mar 07

LeadershipI recently had a unique opportunity to briefly talk with two business leaders about CIO leadership and making IT strategic.  Although I won't try to relate the entire conversations I thought I'd share a portion of their comments as they touch on some of the topics that we've discussed.  As you can see below they both lead large organizations that obviously have a high dependence on IT and therefore and a strong interest in having an IT department that supports both the day-to-day business operations along with the company's strategic initiatives.

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