Respect

Screenshot 2018-11-09 20.42.23I guess everybody has used the word respect. And to 90% you have used it to demand respect for yourself or your opinion.

A tiny 10% may in the first place actually paid respect without thinking about themselves.

And to be quite honest I haven’t thought about all the different aspects of respect myself. And when I listened recently to a HBR podcast on the topic, I realised how simplistic my view on respect was. I’m using past tense as I hope I have learnt a bit along the way.

Owed versus Earned

The 2 fundamentally different types of respect are based on common courtesy (owed) and actual performance and behaviour (earned).

Common courtesy starts with greeting everybody in the team in the morning and not just best buddies. It continues in discussions with letting people finish speaking as well as contributing to the discussion by acknowledging what has been said before adding ones own opinion. The latter one is even harder than the first when you have got something to say that trumps everything else!

Common courtesy has been lost in many situations. How many of you have a similar challenge to me when at home the family dinner is interrupted by mobile phone use or people not waiting til everybody has finished?

What about the lunch break at work? Lunch meetings? Eating at your desk?

There is another aspect of owed respect, too. This is based on individuality. Not everybody has the same openness, finds the same things funny, or has the same confidence to try something new or different. In extreme situations this can become bullying or even harassment without intent but through carelessness.

“Can you touch my skin here, I think I have lump.” sounds even more wrong without context. Realty was a female colleague asking a male after she bumped her hand. However the male colleague was feeling trapped between helping an honest question and potential wrong doing in touching a females colleagues hand.

Earned respect you might think is much easier to handle. Less problems with cultural and individual differences instead you can rely on analytical measurable results. Hey, I’m more analytical and cultural so I should know better… But it’s not that clear cut either. I have for example a range of engineers in the team, some are at the start of their careers while some have quite some experience behind their belt. My expectations for how they handle a similar task would be quite different. A senior person would receive a genuine thank you for a timely completion. A junior person will likely get a well done in front of the team.

Respect is as well shown at remuneration level. I had 2 team members who for some reason were well under their salary band. However, they performed on the level. Admittedly I was surprised that my argument to lift their salary was not a bureaucratic nightmare nor was it hampered by HR or management resistance. In the contrary HR actively assisted to get this right and my CFO accepted the proposal after a 10 minute discussion.

Consequences

A lot of fluffiness you may think, a lot of intangibles that are not adding up to the bottomline. Research and practice shows that is not the case. To the contrary, staff that is treated well is more loyal to the organisation and treats their direct customers with the same courtesy and respect you treat them. Respect tells a story either positively or it can destroy an image quickly.

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A simple rule

ASimpleRule

I read a few newsletters and articles. Last night Austin Kleon posted his simple rule about:

Don’t think too much about your life after Dinnertime

This made me read his post (linked above) and triggered something for myself. Now Austin is talking about the weird time after work where things can look more gloomy than they actually are. And he’s got plenty of examples. I guess everybody can relate to that when you either reflect on what you’ve done this day or could have done, or should have done differently, or …. Yes, and the more you contemplate about it the more distressed you could get and wake up in the middle of the night thinking about it a bit more.

Stop that. Take a break.

Don’t look at your work email in the evening unless you made a commitment.

Don’t create an expectation that others should watch out for late emails from you either.

Thinking about what you could have done differently is a recipe for despair. Writing down what you need to think about tomorrow is good planning. This was also a topic in my latest Health & safety training at work (ZIP – zero incident process). There we discussed the need for the brain to have a break or it runs ‘hot’ and it is more likely for you to make bad decisions.

This brings me back to what Austin’s simple rule reminded me of.

If you are upset about something, don’t make a rush decision, sleep on it and

Deal with Problems in Daylight.

 

 

Tagging is futile

test-tagsOne of my favourite subjects to talk about is note taking.

Why?

Because by writing things down I remember them much better. Solidifying it into memory. Otherwise lots of stuff is forgotten and simply replaced by the next set of information. “Meeting overload” I hear you saying. Yes, agreed, there is that. If you haven’t got the time to do something about your recent conversation within a certain amount of time, you (or better I) probably don’t do it at all or far to late.

And there begins my filing system.

The reality is I can’t complete all tasks right now and then. Hence the information must be filed in such a manner I can find again. In addition, I like to store related information together with this note.

Since the invention of tagging, I love it! Gone are the times of fixed categories or double entries ūüôā Tagging allows virtual folders and sorting notes, information, and emails becomes a breeze.

GMail got a ++ from me and Outlook is still lightyears behind. I always struggle to remember if I filed the invoice under budget, the vendor, or contracts.

The other view

For some reason I stumbled today across an old blogpost that condemns tagging. It not only talks about the disadvantages of tagging such as the proliferation of tags, the ease of creating variants that actually should be the same, and the lack of control which without doubt is counterproductive to its original purpose. No, in contrast it makes a case for structure and stigmergy.

If you haven’t heard about this before, neither had I. The principle is that we (as in humans) remember things better in context. Hence, consistency or strong association help. Multiple tags are therefore not necessarily helpful. In my invoice example I will very likely find an invoice in either the tags “contract”, “budget”, or “vendor”. Although, I’m very sure I will not find all invoices that way because for some I might have missed the tag “budget”.

What is the solution?

Personally, I still believe tags are fantastic. They do have their disadvantages and the biggest one is how are tags created and maintained. Categories like in WordPress are one method. Artificial intelligence (“did you mean “xyz”?”) like Google searches when you make a spelling mistakes might also help creating the right or better associations. And when tagging is used across an organisation the services of a librarian – virtual or as a gatekeeper – can also be of great help.

The core requirement is consistency. If half of the company is using a folder structure (e.g. SharePoint’s team sites) and the other half wiki pages (e.g. Confluence) the search for information will never be easy. The same is true for a personal knowledge system. And I’m falling in my own trap from time to time taking notes in my trusty paper notebook one day and using OneNote the next.

My work in progress continues…

We will

WeWillDriving to work I listen to the radio. When it comes to ads I usually switch the channel. However, sometimes you can’t escape them and some you seem to catch every time. One of these was for me the Crusaders ad “We will”. I found the original ones not to my liking. It didn’t make me want to go and see the game.

Until this week. The tone changed and finally the “We will” hit a nerve.

We will for the jersey. 
We will for each other.
We will for the fans.
WE WILL

The Crusaders are a very successful sports team. And you can read this up on Wikipedia or the Rugby sites on web. Many teams have their ebbs and highs, some are one time wonders, and some never make it.

Germany, for example, is a very successful football nation. However at this years worldcup in Russia they did not perform to their aspired and expected level. A whole nation asked why? The South Korean coach (South Korea beat Germany 2-0 and kicked them effectively out) hit the nail on the head “The Germans weren’t hungry anymore.”

This is where “We will” is so important,

  • it talks about pride (we will for the jersey),
  • it talks about trust (we will for each other), and
  • it talks about customers (we will for the fans).

The psychology of having a significant intrinsic motivation is the keystone of a successful culture. “We will” does that. Germany’s motivation of defending the worldcup and having a pot of gold at the end wasn’t good enough for already successful individuals. The additional controversy with a split loyalty¬†drove a dagger into the team spirit. “Die Mannschaft” wasn’t a team, it was just a collection of exceptional footballers.

For me it is a lesson in leadership. It is not important to have the best engineer, project manager, or business analyst in the team. It is much more important that the people you have

  • know what they need to do and
  • are willing to put the hard work in to make it happen.

That includes everybody and includes trusting each other and helping each other out. I’m thinking the doing, the learning, the planning, the supporting, and good measure of pragmatism.

Acknowledgement:
header image copyright Crusaders.co.nz

The hard work begins

John Wooden Pyramid Of SuccessClose to 2 weeks into the new role things begin to take shape. There is certainly a lot of “stuff” to do ranging from re-forming the team, providing direction, to setting a few guidelines in place. While I was going through the environmental parameters, the change patterns, and the strategic objectives I came across John Wooden’s pyramid of success.¬†I found it fascinating and so applicable to my thinking and the process I’m working through that I decided to share it.

Please note the image has been published by Theresa Kimm in 2014.

John’s Pyramid of success was based on the following creed he received from his father at his graduation:

  1. Be true to yourself.
  2. Make each day your masterpiece.
  3. Help others.
  4. Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible.
  5. Make friendship a fine art.
  6. Build a shelter against a rainy day.
  7. Pray for guidance and give thanks for your blessings every day.

which he translated to a 12 point list of leadership lessons

  1. Good values attract good people
  2. Love is the most powerful four-letter word
  3. Call yourself a teacher
  4. Emotion is your enemy
  5. It takes 10 hands to make a basket
  6. Little things make big things happen
  7. Make each day your masterpiece
  8. The carrot is mightier than the stick
  9. Make greatness attainable by all
  10. Seek significant change
  11. Don’t look at the scoreboard
  12. Adversity is your asset

A damn powerful list! Most I agree without thinking about, some I would have worded probably different, a few I might not have thought of straight away and one (highlighted) I wouldn’t have included.

Don’t look at the scoreboard.

Our culture is build around “what is measured gets done / is managed / ..”. Quality control and lean management can’t exist without metrics and measures. So, how can a very successful NBA coach have a principle of ignoring the scoreboard? Doesn’t he need to re-act when his team isn’t performing at their best?

The answer to that conundrum is hidden in the pyramid of success and a strong belief that when you do the right things and do them well success is the natural outcome.

The cornerstones of the pyramid are hard work (industriousness) and a strong belief in what you are trying to achieve (enthusiasm). The foundation is nothing else then respect of your teams strengths and abilities coupled with enduring willingness to work together (friendship, loyalty, cooperation).

The second layer is aimed at the individual concerning their sincerity and ambition. Determination, Decision making, and Active Listening are 3 of these 4 elements. The 4th one “self control” or “emotion is your enemy” reminds me of my time in the German Army. The sergeant who was leading parts of training said to us, “When something goes wrong and it goes to your head, don’t act straight away. There is usually time to sleep it over. Review the situation with fresh eyes and make a much more rational decision about it.” I feel good to recall that advise and find it on the pyramid of success.

The middle layer centres around skill. Although it makes clear that your attitude and the team spirit are essential to make success enduring. That level is key to next: Poise and Integrity. I think, I rambled about posture in an earlier post citing Isabel Allende. That is exactly the essence of this layer.

Which leave the capstone “competitive greatness”:

Be at your best when your best is needed. Your best is needed every day.

And if you do all that and your team is doing that, too there is no need to look at the scoreboard because success will come. Quality assurance is not neglected, on the contrary, it is built into each step on the way.

A new Beginning

Change AheadMy adventures at a local government agency are coming to an end this Friday. Since my last post I carved a position of trust, knowledge and influencing leadership.

  • in the shared fleet a car got named after me
  • people in my team ask me for advise on how to deal with complex situations, act on it, and get the job done and out of an uncomfortable position
  • people not in my team use me for mentoring
  • senior managers across the agency appreciate how I resolve challenges in various projects
  • when I manage the team while the usual manager is on secondment the service levels and team sentiment stay on the already top level
  • my architecture change leadership is recognised as thoughtful and practical
  • a sincere trust relationship exists between my manager and myself

So, why the change?

An opportunity arose which a friend advised me off. Joining an organisation where I could bring in my previous skills in managing technology operations and also be part in leading a change process looked to me as a challenge that I love to take on. Early days it is, although I already met with the people I’m working with a few times and the feeling is we are on the same wave length.

  • a re-active environment needs to be boosted to be a leading one
  • service delivery methods and practices need to be transformed away from high demand for low value tasks to requests for business value services
  • changing the team spirit to being proud of Technology Operations

That’s not happening over night and is still first impressions. Expect from now on regular posts again!

Work – Life – Balance

Hi there,

thank you for staying with me for a while.

Some 3 years ago my previous employer restructured and I moved to work for a local government agency. After more than 20 years in a commercial environment this hit me like a smash in the tummy!

Many things changed and not in a way you might expect Рme included. People and Technology stayed fairly much the same. Good people, who work to make a difference, and some, who simply do their job. Technology, some leading edge and some that survived long after the vendor ceased support. Teams that push boundaries and teams that are grounded in the way things are done around here.

But the latter is a synonym of the real difference: processes and politics. I don’t mean the processes like how you apply for¬†leave, how a customer requests something, or how a supplier is paid. No, these processes are fairly universal and some a well defined and technology supported while others are much more adhoc or manual. The processes, I found inherently different, are related to and about change.

These processes make the difference in culture between the organisations I’ve worked with. To start with¬†there is an inherent organisational resistance to change. The way things are done here are proven over decades. Is there a legislation or regulation that requires a change? There is for sure one that is supporting what and how we do it.

Then we have frameworks on how we change things, why we would, could, or should not change. There are business unit interests, information technology aspects, strategic and annual plans, project and change management, and surely an overall business calendar of events to consider.

Clearly I had to learn navigating this new jungle that has nothing to do with what I still believe is a good thing:

 Trust people to do the right thing.

Because there surely is a regulation or framework, that I¬†haven’t considered and don’t yet know about. And that’s not all, managing upwards and sidewards and downwards is an even more essential part of this new brave world. I¬†needed friends and people who believe in what I¬†wanted to propose. Now I’m spending more time in talking with people about that¬†than actually doing it.

As a result I’m changing. My approach is changing. To achieve something needs time here. Like a seed that may become a tree.

And funnily enough the most positive aspect about the whole thing is I have a better work life balance. I’m much less worrying about tomorrow and things that need doing. Work needs a rest and ideas need to settle. Tomorrow is another day of sunshine or rain.

Today is a day for living. Be in the presence.

Enjoy your weekend, your evening, or whatever rocks your boat. Simply enjoy today. I¬†won’t get it back.

cheers

Frank