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.

 

 

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 – me 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

Projects, Processes, and People

Photo by Marcelo Braga, licensed under Creative Commons 2.0.

Today, I experienced an interesting discussion and later this evening I read three related articles. That all came together more or less incidentally.

At work we are going through a restructure phase and one team had a coffee to discuss what it meant for them. In general, the people were concerned about the lack of detail, what the change meant for them personally and how “it” was going to work.

I don’t actually need to go into the details who the team was and what they currently do, it is immaterial. Not one team member was or is a change agent, not one was able to translate the strategic vision into something tangible.

Later I came across these 2 articles:

First, a blog post from 99U published in April 2014:

he Difference Between Projects and Processes:

Projects create change. Processes resist change.

Wow, so obvious and still – I forgot about it at the discussion. The people are used to work in a particular way, they are used that someone is responsible for this, then another person does that, and finally a third one completes the task. Quite obviously the new structure is meant to break that. Its objective is to create, to force change. That’s not going to happen if processes stay the same. Hence implementing the new structure must be treated as a project.

And that’s where the second article comes in. This one published by the Smashing Magazine in July 2013:

People > Projects > Processes:

Having a process is good, but be careful that it does not overshadow the project itself or the people involved.

Processes are good to get the same quality every time. The ISO 9000 family is designed to do just that.

Projects are meant to create new processes or make existing ones better. And often they rely on processes themselves (PMI or Prince2 anyone?).

And what is the most important asset any organisation has? Its people. What is in the top 5 most important things organisations try to improve on? Employee Engagement. Why do projects fail? In 72% of all cases it is a communication breakdown.

Summary

Coming back to our discussion. Yes, I failed to appreciate the disruptive value of the restructure. But also, uncertainty about mapping the vision to the structure on middle management level means learning by making mistakes in creating new processes for the same business objectives must be acceptable. Disruption to existing support processes and delays in delivering functional projects may also occur. All under the vision of creating a better service in the near future.

You gotta break some eggs to make an omelette.

Good Judgement

Last month I reviewed a few presentation on Slideshare and made a note about Hubspot‘s policy approach. I remembered that during a walk at the beach while thinking about management principles. This is the note:

We don’t have pages of policies, instead we have a 3 word policy on just everything:

judgement

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Business growth = Fire your Managers!

Essence of SuccessThe idea stems from an article on Linkedin, written by Ilya Pozin. Essentially he says,

eliminating established hierarchy (that is multiple levels of top-down management) frees people from working for their boss to working for the company goals.

Ilya goes on and describes a set very practical approaches and steps. His achievement is a company

  • people loved working for
  • enjoyed reduced costs
  • increased customer satisfaction and
  • improved quality of work

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Clusters – a maverick research

One of my favourite sessions at Gartner ITxpo was Dave Aron’s thought provoking presentation on

“Don’t hire people, hire clusters!”

I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was intrigued. The basic premise wasn’t new: the world of heros is coming to an end, agile teams are the high performers of the 21 century. So far, so good. Then Dave challenged the audience, asking who had experienced working in a high performance team and how long that team stayed together. Many were on board with the first part, but hardly any had a long lasting experience.

The argument for the cause of such teams breaking up was presented of our inability to manage talent effectively. We look at individuals, we appraise individuals, we hire individuals and then we expect them to fit into an existing team where the team members have minimal input in the hiring process.

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