RSS Feed

Category Archives: Management Tips

APE: Stop Double Spacing Confirmed, How to Self Publish Without Looking It & Other Reasons Why You Must Read the Latest Book From Guy Kawasaki

APE (Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur) How to Publish a Book, by Guy Kawasaki & Shawn Welch  and I had to read it!

I enjoy writing and helping to get people get out of their own way; I have given some thought to writing a book on how I help people accomplish this, but that always sounded way too daunting. Then I read Kawasaki and Welch’s book, which reads like an instruction manual on how to navigate the world of self-publishing.

Make no mistake, they do not romanticize the effort that it takes and it is a bit overwhelming at first read, but VALUABLE? ABSOLUTELY!

Why?

  • Step by step from soup to nuts on what to do, where to look, what to look out for and why.
  • Great overview of the publishing world, how it works and why it works or worked the way it did (past and present)
    • this really helped give some perspective on the process and the market in general and how it has changed
    • it validated why eBooks are the here and now, especially if they are relevant
  • The book provides so much insight and clear direction, with lots of examples and pictures, you feel like you should have paid by the hour to a consultant.
  • Even with this book in your back pocket, you still have to be a writer, and a decent one at that. good news there is a great deal of focus on writing and grammar which I was pleased with (along with additional resources beyond this book).
  • Tons of recommended resources beyond this book from publishing to marketing/broadcasting, cover art to set up. These recommendations would take you hours on google to find and research, only to wonder who was paid for what or $$$ in trial and error or consultancy fees.
  • It is humorous, direct and shoots straight therefore although sometimes you feel overwhelmed up pops a comment that makes you smile even for a moment!
  • It is $9.99 on Amazon for Kindle hardly a major investment

Overall, great book I recommend reading 1st as an overview and then in concert with your efforts in writing your book!
APE: How to Publish a Book

Guy Kawasaki is the author of APE, What the Plus!, Enchantment, and nine other books. He is also the co-founder of Alltop.com, an “online magazine rack” of popular topics on the web. Previously, he was the chief evangelist of Apple. Kawasaki has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA as well as an honorary doctorate from Babson College.

Shawn Welch is the author of From Idea to App, iOS 5 Core Frameworks, and iOS 6 for Developers as well as the developer of several iOS apps. Previously he worked as a senior media-editor for Pearson Education. He also helped pioneer many of Pearson’s earliest efforts in iPad solutions. Welch has a BS from Kansas State University.

Some Managers Don’t Like Questions a Story in Miscommunication!

Some Managers Don’t Like Questions a Story in Miscommunication!

It has been sometime since I have written and I realized I never actually published this post from before the new year. It is interesting to let things sit for a spell. The one example I used in this post actually resolved itself extremely well, but I will save that for the end.

I have been talking a great deal to people in various stages of their career, one in interview stage, another just starting their job and a 3rd well established, yet the theme is the same don’t ask. Maybe I have been spoiled in my career in that I have always asked questions of my employer or potential employer, sometimes maybe even too many questions, but they are what I felt were good questions at the time. I would even go so far to say that it is my style that has allowed me to grow and help my company and those around me grow, change, be nimble, creative, etc… The list goes on. I would also be courageous enough to say that I have been supportive to my employees questions. That I created a safe environment for them to ask questions and make mistakes, I truly hope that I did this. More about that in a bit, back to the examples.

Someone I know has been interviewing for a high level almost director level position with a very well established and large organization for quite some time. There have been several phone interviews, and face to face interviews and the potential new hire had questions in regards to the structure of the organization to better understand where they would fit and how they would make the most impact. What did the hiring committee hear these questions as, uncertainty about the quick-moving pace of the environment, needing more clear direction and that the person would need a more structured, concrete role. Interestingly enough the potential employee had said, prior to getting this feedback, when discussing how they felt it went, “I am just not sure that they are clear and can all agree on what they want.” The irony in this situation blows me away! Not only did this candidate have the hiring committee pegged, they were probably the best for the environment, if they wanted someone who could understand and read them and the way they make decisions. On the other hand, they may have either just wanted a “Yes” person or someone who would never question the group.

I will save the middle story for another day and skip to the 3rd. Long term manager level employee who tries to work with their very intense power lusting boss. This is the type of boss that just shouldn’t exist anymore, I thought this type went out in the 60’s but they still exist and they are still breeding… ughh. The dictator is completely freaked out by anyone who threatens them, they don’t know how to actually communicate what they need from you and because you are not a mind reader you are an insubordinate and incompetent employee. So after a number of reviews by this new boss that all are leading to the unemployment line the employee finally decides they have tried reasoning, pleasing, pleading, anything they could think of and it is now time to go over their head. Unfortunately 8 out of 10 times this never ends well for the employee.

So why does this not end well for the employee? Well, the manager hired that person in question, or at least manages them and they wouldn’t make a poor decision. Another reason why this typically does not end well for the employee? The employee is nervous and intimidated to dredge all of the issues up to the manager and the bosses boss, they are uncertain, they may sound accusatory, lack confidence, etc… This means that when they are communicating, they are most likely not doing it to the best of their ability.

What to learn from all of this? Awareness. I am not saying that we shouldn’t ask questions or that we can’t. Here is what I would like you to take from this, you can use it in a number of aspects in your life:

What do I want the outcome to be?

That’s right, start with where you would like to see this end up, whatever the situation. Then work backwards. I may have to create an entire post on this… but it should get you started.

So the ending: that power lusting boss I had mentioned – they were actually fired recently after several other employees complained and when the habits of under performing employees began to show a pattern that this may have been more closely tied to the boss than the employees!

Image Credit

“You Get One Strike With Your Employees” Lying is Lying

“You Get One Strike With Your Employees” Lying is Lying

PAETEC, a Rochester based company recently was sold to Windstream and on the day of the shareholder’s vote, the CEO Arunas Chesonis was set to be the guest speaker at a leadership breakfast entitled “My Top 5 Biggest Blunders and Top 5 Genius Moves in Building a Fortune 1000 Company.” My very dear friend and reporter, Leah George, was there and captured this very intense and real quote:

You get one strike with your employees and once you break that trust, you never get it back,” said Chesonis.

How true this statement really is, yet I am curious as to how many managers, owners and executives really understand this to be fact? I am typically writing from the point of view of a manager/decision maker acting as their advocate, but with this, I have to fall to the other side (at least partially). Too many times in business I have witnessed business owners and executives who work so very hard to be transparent, yet when pushed into a corner, like many of us in our daily lives, falter. So when we falter as executives and managers how do we remain true and honest with our employees?

Here are three things I know to be true:

  1. Telling a half truth is just like telling a lie
  2. Keeping your mouth shut is just like telling a lie
  3. Lying is Lying
Ok, so we got that covered.  How do we protect the companies future, trade secrets, current happenings etc… while keeping the trust with the team?
  1. Rumors happen no matter what
  2. There is no reason to tell all of what is going on
  3. Share what you can and explain in plain English that changes are happening and you are working with your advisors to make the best possible decision for the entire team
  4. Remind them that the entire team includes you, your family and those who have been with you since the beginning
  5. Be comfortable with, “I know there is a feeling of uncertainty, know that I am making every effort … weigh all options… make this decision, etc…. but that is all I can say on the issue right now” when asked a direct question
Address the feelings both in private but then in public, especially if you or your office has received the same or similar question more than once. Ignore something does not make it go away. You are continuing to maintain the office or work place as a “safe” place and there aren’t many safe places left. See things from their side, so many companies are downsizing, off shoring, or closing that every closed door meeting means that someone is getting fired in the eyes of your employees.
There is no doubt that employees feel that they have more of a right to know about what is occurring behind closed doors than they may have 20 years ago, blame Enron (or try). The issue is so much of the personal and professional culture of a business is transparent at some level and finding that balance is extremely important. If there is something big brewing, people can tell so address what you can immediately. Once you break an employees trust, even through the treatment of a fellow employee, you have lost respect from that person and they will begin to second guess your decision making capabilities as an owner or executive.
Any award winning or successful owner/manager will tell you that the key to their success is their people. Even if you don’t see complete value in each of your employees every single day, that is ok. It is kind of like being in a marriage, as my soon to be mother in law says, one of you is always going to love the other more!
In the next few weeks I am really looking forward to writing about another great quote Chesonis had: He told group he has learned you can never fire people too fast and that decisions shouldn’t be dictated by arrogance or greed.
Image credit to Time Magazine 1994

What if Recruiters Stopped Using Social Media?

What if Recruiters Stopped Using Social Media?

So I was just reading an article by Erica Swallow  about how recruiters use social media to screen candidates. The article is more of an infograph than an article and it is packed with incredible detail. One of the strongest findings, recruiters who participated in this confidential survey shared that 69% of recruiters had ruled out candidates based on what they viewed on their social media sites. Conversely 68% of recruiters hired a candidate based on the profile or pages of a candidates social media presence.

Obviously this type of information is going to send lawyers and candidates everywhere in to an uproar, but wait a minute I am confused! I personally don’t search out candidates to see their activity on Facebook however I have searched for candidates on Facebook and LinkedIn and I post jobs on both. I also use LinkedIn to review a candidate.

I have put together a hypothetical thought. Here are some potential ramifications if recruiters are not supposed to use social media to make hiring decisions and stop:

  1. No more posting jobs on twitter, google+, LinkedIn, LI Groups, Facebook, etc…
  2. No more asking for recommendations from colleagues, former bosses, customers, etc… on LinkedIn because we won’t be looking at those
  3. re: #2 it will be back to company policy of dates of employment and title only
  4. Passive job seekers will have to go back to putting their resumes on CareerBuilder and Monster for their current employers to see
  5. Most people learn about openings from referrals and people in their “network” that they trust without social media our networks shrink considerably and so do the candidates
Maybe I am in the minority, I believe that what people are doing is working if just as many recruiters have hired candidates based on their online presence as not, they are better odds than the traditional job boards. Honestly, we are looking for strong positive connections to make a good hire that we know will last and by seeing deeper connections through your online profile we feel that much more confident in the decisions we are making.
It is fairly simple what we are looking for:
  • We want to see that you have recommendations from former employers, colleagues, customers, etc…
  • We want to make sure your resume and profile match
  • We want to see that you have connections with a variety of professionals in your industry
  • We want to see that you have joined groups in your field
Does this mean that a recruiter should only be using social media to find the positives about a candidate?  Define what is positive? This DOES vary from employer to employer and job to job. It isn’t feasible.
RE: YOUR FACEBOOK ACCOUNT (this is the one people seem to really struggle with) Here is the biggest thing to understand, as a job seeker or potential candidate, even a current employee “we” see what you let “us” see! WOW, crazy isn’t it! I don’t want to see any interrogating or compromising pics or posts from any of my friends let alone someone I don’t know; it honestly makes me uncomfortable. If you have an issue with an employer, your grandmother or anyone else seeing you sloppy drunk then use your security settings to block us, we aren’t friends, so that should be easy, as far as grandma you will have a few extra steps to take.
Recruiters and Business owners please note that there are unwritten guidelines and ethics we use as guiding principles in all of our recruiting and sourcing efforts, this is no exception. The laws are detailed and vary based on the use of social media in recruiting be sure that you are staying on top of them or reaching out to a professional when you are unsure of proper protocol.
thank you Social Media Sean for the image

Leaves Change and So Can You

I am not an expert on change management but I do happen to believe people, teams and organizations can and do change (sometimes in directions we are not interested in). It could be the change of seasons, it could be the people who have been entering my life or where I am in my current state, I am sure it is a culmination of all 3, I have been writing of growth, change and expansion quite a bit lately.

There is a process to change and when you are in an organization where you are looking to create and motivate change that process should be more structured. Some initiatives you may be looking to change:

  • Mission changes
  • Strategic changes
  • Operational/Structural changes
  • Technological changes
  • Changing the attitudes and behaviors of personnel
Businesses, their plans and the people who support them and make them work are all living, breathing, moving parts therefore it could be assumed that as all living things change occurs. There are also times when we want to initiate change in order to move ourselves, our department, our business forward.
  • We first must review what is our current status and how has it changed and adapted to this point?
  • Why did “it” change in that particular way and what were the driving forces?
  • If we put a plan of action together to implement and manage change what are 1-2 core areas of focus?
  • Who are the leaders to promote this change?
  • What are the top 2-3 results we are looking for?
  • Create benchmarks to judge successes and stress points and be able to continue to ADAPT your plan to move towards desired results
Change is exciting and invigorating to some while for others it can literally freeze them or make them panic. Recognize that not all people react well to change if the plan is uncertain for them. You cannot always share the long term plan and each and every detail with your entire team or group but you can share the vision and direction and what or why you need this to be successful.

I relate it to when you go on a diet but you don’t tell anyone because you are the type of person who needs to  have success on your own and privately first. So you may share with your friends and your family over time that you are really just looking to create a healthier lifestyle for yourself rather than your goal of loosing 25 pounds.

Getting people on board and having support is important but who and how you incorporate different individuals will depend on what you are looking to change, your timeline and what the plan looks like. Like anything, it can be done, but the more invested you are in a plan or outline and setting goals and checking in with various benchmarks the more likely you will see your desired results and with less bumps in the road.

It Takes a Village: Employee Engagement; Is it Important?

It Takes a Village: Employee Engagement; Is it Important?

Poor HR, employee engagement is their responsibility, yet it is definitely one of those things that cannot be done alone. Employee Engagement is one of those things that companies really struggle with when it comes to prioritizing, surveying, implementing and monitoring effectiveness; why? Well it is overwhelming. When we think about engaging our employees and our teams we want to be sure that we have all of the pieces together, we want it to be successful and repeatable and there are a lot of employees.

Let’s start with the survey, you must have a benchmark to judge from right? There are incredible companies out there that manage this process so if you have a serious problem in service, attendance, sales, operations, etc… you may want to engage someone. If you are going to attempt to build this on your own reach out to your networks, don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Your survey should ask questions like:

  • People in my work group/team work resolve conflict as soon as it arises
  • I feel that I am recognized for the work that I do
  • I feel personal satisfaction from the work that I do
  • Team meetings are informative and efficient
So you have this series of questions (and please ensure that your process allows for complete confidentiality) but what are you measuring for? Well before you implement anything let’s look at what you are trying to impact:
  • What is your current turnover rate? Can you break this out by sector?
  • What is your absenteeism? By sector?
  • What are your sales numbers? What is the % to sales goal?
  • What do your customer satisfaction surveys look like?
  • What is your quality error number?
Alright, we are starting to get some where. We need to really move towards what to do with the survey. Employee engagement is when an employee feels that they are valued and appreciated, believe in what they do/who they do it for, is intellectually committed to their work and has a sense of satisfaction from their work.
Do you, as an employer care if your employees are engaged (satisfied, feel valued, appreciated, etc…) Don’t answer that, let’s ask it another way:
Do you as an employer care if your employees close more deals, increase your customer satisfaction, grow the business, show up so you can run a line, decrease rework and quality errors?
Then the answer is plain and simple: YES, you as an employer feel that employee engagement is powerful, important and a priority in your organization. Why? Not just because it is the right thing to do, but because it impacts your bottom line.
There are studies out there, DDI did a great one, that show that the difference in an employee engaged workforce vs unengaged had the following stats:
  • 14.5% vs 4.1% turnover (Fortune 100 manufacturing company)
  • 8% vs 4.8% absenteeism
  • 91% vs 99% of their sales goals
  • 5,678 vs 52 quality errors (Fortune 100 manufacturing company)

Employee engagement starts with hiring the right people

  • managers who are innovative, empowering and motivating
  • employees who have the innate characteristics you are looking for to be engaged in the work you do and the culture you offer
  • putting the right people in the right jobs
  • getting rid of dead weight
  • removing an unsuccessful manager to another position for the betterment of the entire team
Employee engagement is one of those banks that you have to make deposits in to in order to see the rewards being withdrawn. When you provide and create a high performing organization with supportive leadership that motivates you will reap the rewards of increased customer satisfaction, profitability and a decrease in turnover. It may sound like a great deal of work, but the more people that are on board and assisting with the process the more seamless the process will be and your return on investment will be that much greater.

365 Days Until I am Wed – Complacency is Not an Option (at home or at work)

365 Days Until I am Wed – Complacency is Not an Option (at home or at work)

That’s right, in 365 I will be married and I am so excited! I am the type of person who although I say what is on my mind and move quickly in most aspects of my life by following my intuition and gut, takes time and tries to learn from others when making decisions.

When you start in a new job it is like you have a clean slate, a fresh start, everything is shiny and new. As with all relationships the bumps and bruises of life begin to show, the “true colors” of your manager, the customers you service, even your quirks begin to see the light of day. Over time you start to get comfortable; Facebook and personal email start to be a part of your work day and you are being looked over for a promotion or a job well done you may have been recognized for in the past. The honeymoon is over. Resentment sets in, an inner loathing and even some passive aggression towards successful co-workers makes its way to your work day.

WOW, yes it all happens, to so many people and to so many marriages. This is why I am and we are taking our time and really enjoying each and ever step of our relationship, even the parts when we stumble, fall flat on our face, break our noses and want to quit. If your partner is standing next to you with an extended hand looking to help your miserable self up, even after you have mud on your face, that is when you know you have a partner for life. When you wake up and say that you aren’t going to take your frustrations out on the person closest to you, when you are going to be considerate, loving and open that is when you know you can move forward to the next step in your relationship.

Maybe it is because I wasn’t the girl who has been dreaming about my wedding since I was 6. I don’t even really like cake.  The party thing? Well, to get over being the center of attention I throw myself a giant birthday party with lots of food and live music to celebrate and be with my family and friends. Maybe it is because I always had a tough time sitting by while others around me gained increased responsiblity or participated in new challenges.

Listen, I am not saying that marriage isn’t difficult or that I am an expert. I am no expert; I’m not even married yet. I just have watched, listened and learned from the successful marriages and careers for that matter and tried to absorb as much as possible, sometimes the best learning comes from those that are unsuccessful (I dislike the word failure).

G and I have decided that after living together and moving and career changes and all the other stuff that happens in life, that for us the honeymoon is over. I will tell you that this is a relief because as all you married people know, it happens. The best part about the honeymoon being over? I am more in love today than ever!

%d bloggers like this: