Trust in Business: If You Can’t Trust Me, Why Did You Hire Me?

March 5, 2014

This question is often asked by employees, mostly because good management practices are not prevalent in American society, and most are not taught in business schools either.  (That’s the reason I write these blog articles – Tim.)  Managers who were not properly trained or who simply haven’t the right personality, principles, and understandings for the job will not understand the importance of trust, or when it is most effective to give an employee the authority and autonomy needed to carry out necessary work.  Micromanagement – overly close supervision of employees – makes them think they are not trusted to do the work they were hired for, and results in diminished respect for the manager and reduced loyalty to the company.  It also wastes both the manager’s and employee’s time in needless communications often including unnecessarily effort-consuming details.  It’s is intuitively clear that lack of trust has a negative impact on company profits, but how does it happen and what can we do about it? Read the rest of this entry »


Smart Project Endings Add Serious Value

December 8, 2013

Failing to effectively end projects can have high but hidden costs.  Some companies are so buried in the latest and hottest project or in “fighting fires” that they fail to close projects constructively.  In doing so they not only miss opportunities to generate extra value for the company and everyone involved, but also to maintain the quality of management information (financial and other types) and prevent or limit cost overruns. When projects aren’t formally ended some workers may go on working on them unaware that it is time to move on to other work.  Other workers may find reason to continue to charge the project for their time, especially if they run into a slack period without enough work to keep them busy (which happens naturally in many product development organizations or in highly seasonal work).  This is especially likely where “charging overhead” has a negative stigma attached to it and project charge codes are not shut off.  There are many ways that project endings provide value, however, if they are timely, well planned, and properly executed .  Here are a bunch of them: Read the rest of this entry »


Which is Better? A Budget with “Challenge” or a Budget with “Reserve”?

November 26, 2013

In the defense contracting world budgeting is typically done under a rigorous “earned value management system” (EVMS) that usually includes keeping aside 10% of the budget for use as a “management reserve”.  This can then be doled out in bits and pieces as needed to fund changes in what needs to be done (“scope” in the project-organized world) and solutions for problems that arise during the course of business.  It also allows people within the organization to cope with unexpected changes without feeling like they are endangering the project or organization when they have to ask for more funding.  They all still have to do what they can to stay within budget, but it gives the appearance that upper management accepts that unexpected changes happen and are going to be reasonable in helping people dealing with them.  That’s not how budgets are typically presented in the rest of the business world, however. Read the rest of this entry »


Hypocrisy by Management Will Undermine an Organization

September 26, 2013

Hypocrisy can be real or apparent. Hypocrisy occurs when a member of management contradicts or ignores management direction without consequence. It can be appearance rather than reality when communications between management and employees are lacking, though this is just as damaging as if it was really occurring. Poor communications leave employees to speculate about what management is thinking, planning, and doing, and why they are being given the directions they’re receiving. If these things (who, what, when, how, and especially why) are not communicated clearly and routinely, workers will start guessing and passing around perceptions and ideas as to what management is planning or doing, and it is easy for the speculations to become pessimistic and negative. The fact that a management team allows an information gap to exist between itself and employees will be the first strike against it, and one or more managers ignoring or flaunting the directions the management team is giving employees will sour the company culture in potentially disastrous ways that can undermine change initiatives as well as ongoing operations. Read the rest of this entry »


Knowledge Injection: Jeff DeGraff on Organizational Culture and Competency

January 17, 2013

A YouTube posting by a group to which I subscribe (BigThink) caught my attention: Jeff DeGraff presenting a talk on what makes organizations high performers, including the nature of personality types and management styles.  Many organizations fail to select the best managers but would do much better if they studied this and similar messages.  I recommend viewing it, and welcome your comments. 

Thanks for reading and commenting.  — Tim


Where Does a Manager’s Value Come From?

December 11, 2012

The value produced by managers is difficult to quantify and varies greatly.  For the most part, the value a manager produces depends a lot on their personality, which is a product of their attitudes about people, the work at hand, and their general background and experience. Since the essence of the job is the coordination of the efforts of others, communicating effectively and maintaining the commitment of others who will get the work done are of critical importance.  In corporations it is rare for a manager to produce much product-related value by themselves.  The real value of management is in uniting people who know what to do in coördinated efforts that multiply the value of individual results.  Other ways a manager can contribute are in development of strategy, bringing in outside knowledge including customer and business environment-related information, removing inhibitors to productivity, and generally enabling people to contribute to the satisfaction of customers and the success of the business, however they might be able to do this.  It is important to recognize that approach is an individual thing, and different managers will have different ways of dealing with people and issues that may be equally effective but strikingly different to the observer.  Read the rest of this entry »


Managers: If the Paycheck is Your Employees’ Main Motivator, You’re Not Doing a Very Good Job

August 20, 2012
English: Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Resized,...

English: Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Resized, renamed, and cropped version of File:Mazlow’s Hierarchy of Needs.svg. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Are your people “keeping their heads down” and working for the next paycheck?  Take a quick peek at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and you’ll see that the paycheck (pursuit of basic necessities) ranks at the bottom, while the things that motivate people to do better get stronger as one moves to the top of the pyramid.  It is when people are motivated by the top two levels of the pyramid that amazing things happen and people perform at very high levels.  It has long been known that the best managers help their people feel like a team, supported fully by management, with everyone focused on common goals and feeling their contribution is important.  Sadly, few people have had the chance to experience that kind of management.  As a manager you can make it happen, though, with noticeable benefits to you, your employees, your company, and your customers. Read the rest of this entry »