anigo: (Kayak)
I was trying to think what I could ramble on about for this particular Dealer's Choice topic. I was feeling rather uninspired until I saw an email from a colleague. This week there was a termination in my Department.

I didn't have to do it for a change, which was nice.

My role was to keep the rest of the team entertained so that the person who did have to do it had an opportunity to do it quickly and with dignity for the employee involved.

It was, interestingly, one of the nicer terminations I've been involved in.

Call me crazy (It's been done before) but I love performance management. L.O.V.E. If I was told I had a million dollars and needed to open my own company I would consult on how to effectively manage people's performance. It's so amazingly easy! It's like a math equation. Like a piece of music. Follow the notes until you get to the part where you get to stand up and take a bow.

The first part of the concert has nothing to do with the music. It sets up the orchestra, putting the basses and the bassoons in the right place. Making sure the audience will be able to see and hear everything.

Policy. Process. Training. Expectations. Do the people who work with you know what they're supposed to be doing? Do they know how to do it? Have you told them what's expected?

Then the instruments tune up. Are the violins and the violas all playing in the right key? Does somebody need to take a second to listen to their own instrument to make adjustments? Sometimes it takes somebody else to hear the discord over the rest of the music and to point it out so it can be easily and quickly adjusted.

Sometimes people don't even recognize they're doing something wrong. I use an example of a receptionist that we'd hired ages ago. The people in my office have some very flexible work arrangements. Where and when are often irrelevant, as long as the work gets done. Customer meetings can run late, so 8:30 am start times aren't strictly enforced, and working from home is at the direction of each employee. Except the receptionist. The receptionist needs to be at his or her post from 8:30 until 5:00 to field calls, receive deliveries, etc. We hired what seemed to be a FABULOUS receptionist about 5 years ago. And she was fabulous for the first couple of weeks. Until she started coming in late. A lot. We were all boggled by what appeared to be a lack of enthusiasm for her role. She seemed so keen! How could we be so mistaken? And the lack of enthusiasm influenced how we interacted with her. And our new ways of interacting influenced her behaviours further until we got to the point we had to have a pretty serious conversation about her future.

Can you guess where this is going? In that conversation we unearthed the fact that NOBODY TOLD HER WHAT HER HOURS WERE! And she was following the lead of the rest of us and coming and going like everybody else.

We established her working hours, got a few other things out in the open and she's been a fabulous addition to the team ever since.

There's a bit of a lather, rinse, repeat when it comes to performance management. Oh, let me change that a bit. Lather, rinse, repeat, document. Documentation throughout every step in the process is a must. Identify the issue, identify expectations, both the employer and employee look for ways to support achieving those expectations (it's a team game - not just on the employer or employee alone!) and follow up to identify if goals have been met. If they have, reward the behaviour. If they haven't, lather, rinse, repeat until either the behaviour has been improved or you get to a point where it's been decided there's nothing more to be done other than terminate the relationship.

Which is where we were when I started this story.

If you follow this recipe the end will not come as a surprise and will go as smoothly as any termination can, like this one did.

I love this stuff. Don't get me wrong, I don't like conflict, I don't like firing people. I don't like seeing people unhappy, but I really really really love helping people figure out how to be successful, and if they can't be successful, let's figure out how to make them successful somewhere else with minimal negative impact on all involved, including the person who's being terminated.

And that's all I got to say about that.
anigo: (Motorcycle)
Tonight's blog is related to Steve Job's Standford address

I can't say I like or dislike Steve Jobs. He's one of those "cool things" that everybody loves, which automatically makes me not like him so much. Still, he's an engaging speaker and he has a great message. Sort of.

The Kid, as some people know, will be graduating this spring and going to University in the fall. I've been having this debate with myself quite a bit over the past three years or so. The debate goes something like this. (Feel free to read it with a "get off my lawn" tone of voice. Sometimes I feel that way myself.) I'm 46 years old. And I feel like I am the last of the breed that says "Work Hard, Get a Job, Get Married, Get a House, Have a Family, Retire, Die" In theory, somewhere in there you try to eek out a life. Not eek out a living, but try to enjoy life while you're following the prescription of life. The generation that is smashed up against mine looks for the living part of life. I know so many people who range in age from only slightly younger than I am to recent graduates who have decided that life is short - live while you can. Careers aren't that important. My nephew finished high school about 5 years ago and is now a landscaper (read: mows lawns and plants flowers) in BC. When he's not working he's snowboarding. Wow. My brother is 28, has a masters degree and is working contract work in Belgium. He doesn't own a car. He doesn't own a house. But on weekends he goes to Germany or Austria, just for the fun of it. And Steve Jobs is suggesting that dropping out of college was the best thing that happened to him. He's suggesting hat you should take risks! Live life until you die! And I'm scared to death that The Kid is going to get this notion into her head. That she'll decide that investing in her future isn't that important, as any one of us could be hit by a bus tomorrow. Then what??

And it's true. Any one of us COULD be hit by a bus tomorrow. Look at Steve Jobs. He shuffled off this mortal coil. But to be crystal clear. He did so after he worked his backside off (he doesn't speak to that much, just focuses on staying hungry and foolish) made a boat load of cash, and when he left, his family was well taken care of. It's pretty easy to talk about staying foolish when you have money oozing out of the cracks in your mattress. Where would he be if he hadn't had the luck and the smarts to get him where he was? Still, I'll give him credit - the risks he took put him in the position to get where he was. But dropping out of university does not automatically make you Steve Jobs!

Pretty sure my snowboarding nephew would agree with me there. Or maybe not. He's probably too busy to think about it.

PS. I have a house. And a career. And a husband. I also have RRSPs. I dare any one of you to tell me I'm boring though. Two years ago I raced a sailboat to France. See my user pic up there? Thats me - 4 years ago with my first motorcycle. Last year I went to Guatemala for a long weekend. Why? Because I could. Sure, somebody on this earth is going to get hit by a bus tomorrow, but there's also a better chance you're going to outlive most buses. If you play your cards right you can have a pretty darn decent, and yes, exciting, life, and some RRSPs too. Right up until about 24 hours before they throw dirt on your coffin.

I just hope The Kid is able to do what she needs to do to put herself in a position to live her life the way she wants to live it for a long, long time.
anigo: (job)
The blog topic for tonight's class can be found here.

Funny. The first time I watched the video I though... "Boring."

Then I watched it again.

The video itself is about two gentlemen, a 32 year old and a 44 year old, who have completely different idea when it comes to marketing themselves and their organizations. The 32 year old believes that the "interwebs" is the way to go. Chatting on line. Social Media. The cutting edge of the cutting edge. The 44 year old believes, of course, that humanity is starting to lose its humanity and that by including the personal touch from a communications point of view he's able to gain a personal edge over the hype of the e-noise.

At first blush it's the age old argument - the horse vs. the steam engine; hand knitting vs. store bought. But let's consider that a moment. To be clear, I'm older than the "old guy" in this video. I still use Facebook. (My daughter tells me Facebook isn't cool anymore.) Am I a horse person or a steam engine person? Think of where you'd be right this second if the world decided that the steam engine wasn't an advancement at all, but was really truly evil. Bringing corruption into cities across the world. Poof! No steam engines. Just a lot of horses. Would you live where you do? Would you work where you do? Would you do what you do? Would you enjoy what you're enjoying right now? There's no way you're going to get whatever it was you just had for supper sent to you in the middle of winter with a horse.

But I digress. A lot actually. Let me get back on track.

Today's technology is the steam engine. Sure, you may have to give up your door to door mail because your email has made your postman all but redundant, but did you know we've just discovered the first new antibiotic since 1987? That's pretty cool. And no, Twitter didn't bring it to us, but I'm pretty sure somebody tweeted about it. That's technology, baby.

(Darn, there I go digressing again. But I'm getting somewhere, I promise.)

As far as connectivity for business is concerned, I know for a fact that there are still a lot of people out there who prefer a good handshake and lunch to seal the deal, but I also know that a lot of the "top 30 under 30" don't have time for lunch or a handshake. It's BBM, man. (Actually, it's not BBM. That's so 2010.)

I have no doubt whatsoever that the human touch is the most effective means of communication emotionally, but if the business world today (and more importantly, tomorrow) is focused on the fast, unemotional, will the hand written thank you letter soon go the way of the dinosaur - more of an oddity than a differentiator?

Sadly, while I'm older than the "Luddite", I'm more on the side of technology here. I can't help it. Happiness to me is swapping out memory on my computer. (Yes, I need to get out more.) Handshakes scare me. Text me your A/S/L and we'll be best of friends. And the sad truth is a lot of successful business people just don't have time for the cultural rituals of the last millennium, however, as they say in blogspeak, ymmv.

On that note, I'll bid you bonsoir. If anybody's looking for me I'll be over in an IRC Chatroom looking for a friend.

Cheers!
(or as they say in binary: 01100011 01101000 01100101 01100101 01110010 01110011!)
anigo: (wonder woman)
Well hello there. And welcome to my first blog post for school. The post for this class is to review the Ted Talk by Amy Cuddy Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are.

Holy cow. I started watching this with the intention of writing a book report. I'd typed things like: "It's incredibly interesting how much body language impacts our opinion of people"

And: "The big thing I took away from it was how our body language affects our own self assurance." Wow, that's impactful and engaging, isn't it.

Ms. Cuddy goes on to talk about how the "fake it 'till you make it" philosophy has a lot of impact on our own psyche. She talks about how smiling actually makes you feel happier. God knows I've actually done this a lot over the past year through this incredibly interesting job transition. Walking around with a grin plastered on my face, even though I wanted to injure somebody. Surprisingly though, it actually works!!

However, by about minute 18, as she fights back tears, I realized I had stopped typing my "book report" and was mesmerized by her message. And she’s so RIGHT. I’m currently sitting in Toronto, a Senior Director in a new role, with all of these people looking to me to “fix” things, feeling completely clueless, and she’s right. Five years ago if I was put into this role I would have sat in a corner in a tiny posture waiting for somebody to tell me what to do, and I would have failed miserably. Now I’m the person with the big body language. I have faked it and I have become it.

Wow. That’s amazingly powerful.

I'm not going to detail all of the neat facts about body language and power posing. I am, however, going to encourage you to take a look at the video. I'm rather glad my professor started off with it. It feels rather karmic.

I have to go to a meeting now. But first, I’m going to power pose in the elevator for a bit.

Cheers!

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