Saturday, July 12, 2008

How to be a good manager: Be generous to everybody

One ongoing paradigm shift is looking to use my skills sets in new ways after I finish my current career. The question is not only what to do, but who to do it with. 50-plus entrepreneurs starting lifestyle businesses via RetirementRevised by Mark Miller back in May of this year provides some insights.

Ask someone over 50 what they want to do after retirement, and you may well get this answer: "Keep working!" Surveys suggest that more than 75 percent of the baby boom generation plans to keep working past traditional retirement age. But it's not likely that many will keep laboring away in Corporate America. Most boomers [...]

The "who" applies not only to the type of organization, which defines more than anything the what, the who is also the types of people within the organization as well. It has been discussed before, but Lela Davidson's article, also in May, on 4 Generations of Workers - Can You Relate? via Business Pundit provides another look at working in a multi-generational environment.

Today's workforce is a diverse mix of generations that each come with their collective background and value systems. Understanding their unique perspectives is important in a large organization where they are likely to be working side by side. Professor at the Instituto de Empresa in Madrid, Spain, Cristina Simón's study Generation Y and the Labor Market: Models for HR Management, address differences in generational values. Simón looked at our generations of workers, analyzed their values and suggested ways for businesses to get people working together.
Four Generations and Their ValuesTraditional Workers(born before 1946/over 60)
  • Value loyalty and discipline.
  • Tend to respect authority.
  • Accomplished a lot
  • Contributed to success under hierarchical systems of the past.
Baby Boomers (1946-1960/late 40s and up)
  • Expect success.
  • Created strong social change including
  • The hippie movement,
  • Feminism, and
  • Civil rights.
  • Optimistic and self-motivated.
Generation X (1961-1979/30s and 40s)
  • Best academic training and international experience in history.
  • Breaking with traditional patterns, including
  • Creating informal work environments
  • Transforming corporate structures from hierarchical into horizontal and flexible entities.
  • Personal initiative and a healthy dose of skepticism toward large organizations
  • Produced a lot of entrepreneurs from this generation.
  • Key value achievement of balance between career goals and quality of life.
Generation Y (starting from 1980/under 30)
  • Lived their entire lives with information technology
  • Have a hard time comprehending a world without it.
  • Tend toward individual needs in favor of the community good
  • Often demand a high level of autonomy.
  • Lacks in loyalty, makes up for with the the value they place on relationships with co-workers and supervisors.

So this gives me potentials for what to do and who to do it with, next is how to do it in a ideal environment. One of my favorite sources of insight is Brazen Careerist by Penelope Trunk who wrote on How to be a good manager: Be generous again this past May. I am just summarizing what for me are some of the high points here. For the details, you need to go to the original post.

So the first rule, and probably the only rule of management, is to be respectful. A lot of questions I get from managers can be answered the same way: ask yourself if you are really being respectful.
Most people don't see management as listening and thinking, but that's what it is. Because that's what caring about someone looks like. Once you get to the point where you are connecting with the people you manage, and you are helping them get what they want from their job, you are in a position to change the world. Really.

All this reminds Ms Trunk of Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

She comes up with her own version of Pseudo-Maslow Hierarchy of Job Needs in which you start with get a job, and you figure out, eventually, how to use your job to make the world a better place.

  1. Physiological - Take care of keeping yourself fed and clothed.
  2. Safety - Work on feeling secure that you can keep yourself employed, if something happens.
  3. Love and belonging - Figure out how to get a job that respects your personal life.
  4. Esteem – perform well at your job because you have the resources and the security to do so
  5. Self-actualization – help other people reach their potential through creative and moral problem solving

I am at the point where I am directly quoting the original article more than I prefer for these posts, but Ms. Trunk says it so well that re-writing does not seem to be of any service.

So really, management is an opportunity to self-actualize. Some people will self-actualize by being artists, or writing code. Some people will self-actualize through management. Some, a combination.
But the point here is that being in management is an opportunity to grow spiritually and give back to the world in a way that is enormously fulfilling. If you allow it. You will need to set aside real time to make this happen. And you need to give generously. No big surprise there, though, because why else are we here, on this planet, except to give to each other?

A Groundswell Either Your Marketing Is Riding The Wave or Its Under Water

This weblog allows me to take an armchair quarterback approach to a number of issues. This has both good and bad aspects. As has been said before, I don't own a business, so no risk, but I still find pragmatic truth in business methodology that should be applied in change agent organizations. I am also not working with any of the change agent organizations though I do contribute to such organizations as do many others. Yet, I am still thinking and writing about issues that I see of being important to such efforts. Truth is that I am taking advantage of not being involved with day to day organizational issues to study these issues from a detached perspective allowing me to think about them more broadly and find expanding interrelationships. Hopefully, by the time I am about to retire and try something new I will have learnt and even created something useful.

One of the challenges change-agent organizations involved in social-entrepreneurship and philanthropy face is getting their message out in an effective manner to everyone involved in the mission, financial supporters, volunteers, employees, partners, or clientèle. There are obviously numerous organizations that do an excellent job, but there is still a need to consider how this will evolve in the future. The tools of Web 2.0 offer both news means of leveraging marketing and conversely new forms of complexity. As has happened in the past, this weblog has looked to the world of business for some helpful insights.

This weblog has touched upon the concepts in Groundswell before with Withstanding A Groundswell Of Complexity. This is the book that is being cited numerous times throughout the blogosphere and seems to be the focal of a debate.

"Right now, your customers are writing about your products on blogs and recutting your commercials on YouTube. They're defining you on Wikipedia and ganging up on you in social networking sites like Facebook. These are all elements of a social phenomenon — the groundswell — that has created a permanent, long-lasting shift in the way the world works."

Further insight comes via Brand Autopsy by johnmoore back in April of this year The Internet is your Marketing Department.

GROUNDSWELL (Charlene Li & Josh Bernoff)

If you are reading this blog then you have a clue about the Groundswell that Charlene & Josh detail in GROUNDSWELL. Others you know in the office are probably clueless about this Groundswell. They have no clue about the power to be unleashed from embracing the Groundswell. They do not realize the Internet is your marketing department.

Another perspective comes from the Financial Times of London. Dangerous e-liaisons Review by Jonathan Birchall Published: June 4 2008 Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies.

The book, which naturally has its own online community, is built on the argument that not everyone uses the internet in the same way. There are
  1. “creators”, who blog on their own web pages,
  2. “critics” who post comments,
  3. “joiners” who sign up for online communities,
  4. “spectators” who read and watch, and finally
  5. the unengaged “inactives”

Getting Into Social Media While Having Been There All The While.

This weblog started off as an experiment to teach myself more about web 2.0 technology and as a means of educating myself in other areas of interest. Its impact on me has grown over time having opened up arenas of inquiry that I would not have considered in the beginning.

There has not been a predetermined pathway nor has there been any effort to keep to any pathway in particular. Different aspects of Web 2.0 have been tried, with some being let go and some retained.

One new pathway that this weblog has been pursuing implicitly up until now is social media. Implicitly, because it was not the original intent of this weblog to focus on connecting socially to other users. My admitted bias has been toward ideas. Ideas, however, only have life if they are communicated, and the source of new ideas are other people, so slowly I was drawn into social media. It has been to my benefit, but that would be getting ahead of myself. At first it was with a great deal of skepticism, but over time the potential of web 2.0 tools as a means of bringing about beneficial paradigm shifts has become more real for me. Implicitly, as well, because I have only recently created a social-media tag for this blog or my tagging systems. I have dealt with the subject, but only recognized it as having an ancillary and secondary role. Now it seems a great deal is being written lately about it in the blogosphere on Social Media and its supposed promises, limitations, and in some cases, its dark side.

The dark side come to those who put too much of their personal lives into their blogs find themselves virtually viscerated by the unfeeling masses. I have a greater appreciation for authenticity because of what I have learned through this weblog, but authenticity is different from personal confession. I choose to keep my day job/so called "real" life separate from this effort for a number of reasons. I have provided a photo of myself because hiding behind an avatar seems inauthentic, but that does not mean I have to share personal details or need to know that of others. I can be judged by my ideas and writings. Next comes its promise, mostly made by those in marketing and its limitations made by those who though they are riding the train and in many cases fueling the train ask themselves if by chance someone should warn others as to the possible consequences of the train going faster than we might be able to handle. A number of posts sit in Blogger limbo waiting to be completed on various aspects of this subject.

The ability of this weblog to provide pathways to new learning experiences has grown over time. A greater appreciation of various arenas of study, such as various perspectives on economics, design and marketing has occurred. This weblog makes making connections and seeing interrelationships ever more apparent. These interrelationships are now becoming more complex. Encapsulating a myriad number of ideas, organizing those ideas and now communicating those ideas to others, while others are doing the same with you, is all placed under the label Social Media.

What this all reflects is some concerns raised by some with more experience and creditability in the world of Web 2.0 that has to be contrasted with the growth that this weblog has seen regarding the expanse of connections spanning the globe and the depth of intellectual connections based on the insightfulness and breadth of ideas.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Finding Strength In Vulnerability

Our Vulnerability Is Our Strength via NPR Series: This I Believe on 6/8/08

It isn't enough to be what our society has dubbed as successful. What we really need are others around us engaging, nurturing, listening and willing to sacrifice their time and agendas. I don't care if you're the CEO of a multibillion-dollar company or a single mother with five kids. Nobody is completely self-sufficient and so, in that way, we are all helpless. We're helpless unto each other.