New Year’s resolutions?

Do you have any New Year’s resolutions made? Lose weight, be more active, balance work/life? Things like that? Great, good for you and we hope you’ll accomplish them all.

Any point where you stop and review what you are doing and re-check your priorities is good. At your office, you should do the same. Take stock of what is on your plate, what is not moving forward and why not. I keep this easy spreadsheet that lists the topics/projects that need to be done. I have a column for what the result needs to be, a column for the status, a column for the obvious next step I should take and most importantly a column for why I am not taking that step,

That last column is crucial. You need to be aware of why it is that you don’t move the project forward. Often it has to do with fears for reactions from others, or resistance that you anticipate. Well here is the thing, unless you move, nothing moves and the project will continue to be stalled and you will continue to have to think about it and have it contribute to your workload and worries.

My recommendation is to make that list, review the columns and develop at least three strategies to take that next step. You’ll be glad you did!

Debate in the workplace; is it healthy?

With the elections for the US president in November 2016 fresh in our memory let’s look at how to deal with debate in the workplace.

Several topics can spark debate, from politics to religion to parenting and sports. What most of the topics that are debated vigorously have in common is that they are usually not work-related. Work related debate can be and often will be healthy. The dynamic tension between various professionals will encourage all to put on their best performance to ensure their part of the issue will be known and be kept in mind when decisions are taken.

angry debate in the workplace

The enthusiastic Monday morning quarterbacking that happens in so many companies can also be healthy as it creates an atmosphere of common interest.

Most other debates have a tendency to turn into an exchange of thoughts that may offend some or all of the participants and seldom lead to a successful change in mind of anyone. Over the course of my career I have not seen anyone after a hot debate about religion changing their mind and their religion, nor have I seen a positive impact from the shouting matches about politics in the workplace.

So is there no place for debate in the workplace? Managing a prohibition on debate in the workplace is hard to imagine, but when tempers get hot it is useful to remind people that no matter what religion, political view, sports team or parenting philosophy you support, you are all here to work on the goals of the company. Anything you do or say that is not helpful to accomplish that goal will limit your usefulness and potentially shorten your career. It is good to know where people come from, it is useful to know each other’s religion so you can avoid potential conflicts. A frank exchange of views and explanation of topics can be useful to understand better why people react the way they do, but that is where the debates and exchanges of views should stop.

The Harvard Business Review has published a great article about it recently, read it HERE

Starting as a manager

manager at workWhen you are first appointed as a manager many things will come your way. New impressions, new relations, new responsibilities and new issues that you need to ponder and find solutions for. It makes a huge difference if you were already in the company and got promoted or that you were hired from outside. Both have their pros and cons. When you were internal you’ll have an easier time negotiating the company politics, when you come from outside it will be easier to be seen as a manager and not as “Joe who got a new position”. Much more can be said about this but my main point, as usual, is that you need goal clarity. The assignment needs to be crystal clear for you as manager, in order to be able to effectively lead your group.

The other important immediate issue is to find out what the social composition of the department or group is. Who hangs out with who, who has been here forever, who is the smartest person in the group, who has most experience. You need to know your resources.

Next you’ll have to find an effective way to communicate with the people; do they need meetings, are memos a thing, will emails be effective, is there a reporting system that helps the flow of work.

All great things to think about. The Fast company has a nice article about someone starting as a manager and the lessons learned in their first 30 days.

For me the goal clarity, getting to know the resources and finding an effective way to communicate would be the first focal points. You can read more about this in my book where I highlight the importance of many other points also.

Let me know what you struggled with in your first days as a manager. We’ll follow up over time with a summary.