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Showing posts from February, 2011

Leadership by Example - Take your licks

As a supervisor, the relationship that we maintain with our team is based on trust.  Our team needs to trust that we are making fair and objective decisions.  The mere hint in impropriety can disperse a group effort, leaving the results of any action in question, and threaten our ability to achieve our goals. When I was in elementary school, I heard plenty about my "Permanent Record" and how all of my transgressions would be tallied against me in later life.  It is a bit banal how adults can terrorize children into behaving, but it works, so we'll keep it (only joking).  There is a segment of the workforce that I have worked with that seems obsessed with the idea of having the perfect record.  This could be a perfect driving record, a perfect on-time bill payment record, and of course, the perfect work record.  There will be a time when these records get broken.  When that happens, it is important to keep going, and not lose focus.  The importance in anything is to do o

Karaoke Communication - Don't Be a Talking Head

About seven years ago, I went to a club to see a Guns n’ Roses tribute band.   As we walked in through the front door and past the bouncer, we strolled through the Karaoke bar next to the main room.   Low and behold there was some poor sap up on stage singing “Sweet Child of Mine”.   Painful, is putting it lightly.   Karaoke is an example of a fun activity to get friends together or inhumane torture depending upon who is holding the microphone.   As we scurried into the main room, we were able to escape the screeching of a poorly executed falsetto.   The tribute band, on the other hand, was excellent.   The singer did a better job than Axel Rose himself ever could have done. Go figure, presentation is everything.   The difference between torture and pleasure is skill, experience, and training.   This rings even truer when it comes to supervisory communication.   As supervisors, we are required to communicate necessary operational changes to our team.   Through management review meeting

Collision of The Cultures

Earlier in my career, I went to work for a Japanese owned company right out of school.  This was very exciting for two reasons, the first that I was starting off my engineering career, and secondly that I was working for a company that had a cultural duality.  For many of the mid-upper managements positions there was a parent company Japanese manager that worked with the local manager.  The parent company's goal was to integrate Japanese manufacturing and business philosophies into an existing American business unit.  To make movie references (which I often do), I would compare this situation to the movie "Gung Ho" with Michael Keaton and George Wendt, rather than "Rising Sun" with Sean Connery and Wesley Snipes. The former showed a more whimsical view of the culture clash between Japanese and American business culture that was more of a parody, but still showed some basic differences that were exteremely challenging.  Some of these basic differences are liste

What does your name tag say about you?

Isn't it interesting when you attend a training session, and are required to write your name on a placard that sits on the table in front of you?  What does it really say about who you are.  Many times, when I have attended training sessions, whether inside or outside of my employer, I have wondered what that sign says about me to others.  One of the first things that go on in these sessions is for each person to say something about themselves through a scripted format of questions . . . .Who am I?  What department do I work in? Why am I here . . .It is all well and good, and does serve as an excellent ice breaker,  it also lets everyone know what to call you. People always ask me whether they should call me David, or Dave, or even Bussell.  I really don't have a preference.  Co-workers usually call me Dave or Bussell, rarely David.  Because it is such a blur, I don't remember what anyone calls me on a regular basis, except for what my parents and my wife call me (David).

All Change Comes Through People

It does sound catchy doesn't it? Well it's true.  The best ideas can fall flat as a pancake if they aren't channelled through people who can make it happen.  It doesn't matter if you are the committee chair of your department, president of a non-profit organization, or a shift supervisor, if you can't channel your ideas through those you work with, you can't affect change. If you are working with volunteers, then you need their buy-in more than anything.  If you don't have it, nothing happens, if you lean on them, they will just walk-out on you.  The key to making change is translating your concept of the future into a language that others can understand.  Sometimes it is easy enough to explain it to them, but if it is a real change, they will need more definition, they will need to see it.  Put away the overhead projector, I am not talking about a PowerPoint presentation.  For them to see your vision you need to project it with your sincerity.  The words

Management FAIL

Last year, my younger son had an unusual idea for a school costume party.  He wanted a tall box that he could wear over himself, with nothing more than a slit to look through.  Luckily, we had just finished moving, and there was a spare wardrobe box that fit the bill.  After he cut the sight slit in the front, he simply wrote "COSTUME FAIL" on the box with a Sharpie, and that was it.  I didn't get it.  He did, because he won the contest at the school party.  Evidently, this new generation uses the term FAIL to signify a discontinuity, a goof, or an abrupt interruption in the normal scheme of things.  To me, it looked like a silly idea at first, but that was because I simply didn't understand the youth culture growing up around me. When I started working in "Big Steel", I was amazed at the size of everything, and the spectrum of people that worked there.  I quickly realized the tension that existed in a unionized work place.  From the first day as a "Ma

You have found me!

I, am a Middle Manager. If you are reading this, then you must be one too. I live in the middle of my city, in the middle of my state, which just happens to be in the middle of my country (Indianapolis, Indiana USA).  Middle, does not mean average.  Technically, it means center.  Statistically it meas median.  Nothing about being a middle manager is average, mundane, or insignifianct, unless a person has decided so, and I have not! Twenty years ago, when I graduated from engineering school and took a management trainee position in a steel mill, the world was my oyster.  Through all of the ups and downs, that really hasn't changed.  I am older, a little less bright-eyed, less idealistic, perhaps just a touch cynical, but I still view each day as an opportunity to make a difference.  This Earth is going to rotate on its axis no matter what we do.  We change what we can touch with our hands, our words, and our very soul.  I may not be able to change the world for eternity, but I s