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Vol. II: Navigating Your Office and Leadership Challenges
By John Canavan
Balboa PressCopyright © 2014 John Canavan
All rights reserved.
Speaking at your Meetings
When attending meetings have you noticed that they all have a specific tone? The leader of the meeting or the Inviter sets the tone and creates the justification for content and length.
Before entering a meeting know what you're going to say, but be ready to change it in case the agenda shifts. This entails preparation. When you are not prepared, it is uncomfortable and shows.
If a meetings tone is dull and redundant to previous meetings, look to bring new content that may drive and open up discussion. At a minimum you break up the dead air and you look progressive.
Make sure you have your key points laid out in a way that you can flow from one-to-another. There is nothing more confusing than bouncing from topicto-topic. Also you will look like you're unable to hold a thought.
It's also a good habit to arrive early to meetings. It gives you an opportunity to speak with others before the meeting begins and can give you some insight as to what other topics will be brought up. The points you bring up in meetings should be concise and substantive. Speak with confidence and authority on the points you bring.CHAPTER 2
When you Fail
The reaction is different for everyone when they fail. Some shut down, others blame others, and some accept defeat and move on. When you manage a team/department your reaction is important to the morale and disposition of the people you manage as they learn from you. A few things to consider.
Regardless of fault do not blame others. The temptation is there especially when it's blatantly obvious. You can show your annoyance, but move on quickly. Looking at variables and assessing why and how is helpful and will give you insight as to cause.
Think. Avoid reacting impulsively. In more cases than not you will more than likely exasperate the issue. Talk to other involved (not allowing them to blame) and work through the issue. Make sure your intentions and directions are clear so you don't fail twice on a similar issue.
Avoid thinking that you are the smartest in the room. Don't make assumptions about others on your team/ department. They may have made decisions based on poor information they received or direction.
The bottom line is that people's intentions (mostly) are good and when there is a failure they are feeling just as bad as you are. The way you deal with it is the way they will deal with it. Shut down and sulk and your next project will not go so well. Blame others and you have justification and an outlet to fail again. Accept blame and move quickly to adjust and deal with the issue head-on.CHAPTER 3
Regardless of how high or low you are on the totem-pole it's good to hear, "Nice job." We all have our good days and bad days. It's not easy to be on-point all the time. As a manager your job is to support the performance and growth of your subordinates. It does not take a lot to explain and jolt someone into a certain direction.
Being critical of your subordinates less than stellar performance and/or constantly pointing out errors does not do anyone any good. It shows your lack of leadership, reduces the morale of your subordinate and they will work just that much less, and it is bad for productivity.
Letting subordinates know that their work is pertinent and worthy goes a long way in upping their morale and performance. When they feel a part of something they contribute with self-worth.
As a leader it is your responsibility to increase your subordinate's performance. Moving beyond your critical thoughts of someone its good habit to show them you're not petty and concentrated on their missteps.
Your subordinates know when you're unhappy about something and it sets the tone for their day. This is not to say that will not have any performance HR issues with subordinates, but it is your job to build on the strengths, not weaknesses. Finding those strengths is leadership. Telling someone, "Nice job" does not put you in a box when praising a specific job.CHAPTER 4
Being able to prioritize is essential for accuracy, productivity, performance, results and ROI. When you are chasing too many priorities it is detrimental to an overall plan (if there is one) and the most significant problem is distraction and chaos. Not only are you all over the place, but your subordinates and colleagues are as well.
Wherever the directives are coming from you need to be able to articulate your concern about the conflicting prospects of prioritizing too much. As a leader it is your responsibility to shape direction.
Don't be afraid to have a routine. Routines allow you to prioritize efficiently. Without that predictability your outcomes are unpredictable, hence constant adjusting.
Focus and delegate. When you stay focused on pertinent priorities the process of working through those priorities is less confused and more accurate. Being able to delegate the peripheral priorities allows for the same.
Everything is a priority today and your initiative in managing those priorities is imperative to the efficiency of the process. You must know what priorities will have the return the organization is looking for within the context of its mission and goals.CHAPTER 5
What is Coming
Your boss and your company rely on you more than you know to let them know what is coming ... what technologies are next, what will give your company a competitive advantage, etc. It is very frustrating being a leadership and watching your competitors go by and not receiving innovational or creative ideas from your staff. You need to be aware of what is coming by putting yourself out there.
Although consulting firms have value, the consulting should be just part of what you accept as a source of information. Listen, but seek out yourself.
Go to tech shows, (even on your own dime) as the people you meet there and the demonstrations will give you more insight as to what is hot and what may-be not.
Speak to grade school students, high school students, college students, your kids, their kids, etc. Understanding their interests will put you in a unique position ... they usually know what is coming before most.
Technological trends are tricky because you cannot know what is a fad or what will stick and grow. But, at a minimum, exposing yourself to areas where new technologies begin ... puts you ahead of most and will give you that much more advantage when asked for new ideas.CHAPTER 6
A Good Manager
... Leads by knowing what their subordinate's needs are. Telling them what they need instead of asking them what they need is a sure way of sending a project or their career off the rails.
Sometimes you will ask your managers or staff what they need ... and they honestly may not know, or they are afraid to ask. It's your responsibility to put them at ease and figure out what will help.
Be prepared for complaints about their colleagues, about your performance, and perhaps some things that you do not want to hear about. But, that comes with it. You need to navigate this and place them back on track in a way that makes them feel supported, or at least listened to.
Looking at things from the outside does not always give you the best perspective. Listen for what they are not saying and do what you can to create a productive environment.
There are all kinds of people, and being able to lead all kinds of people is a talent. This talent can be learned and is a powerful tool in your success. Knowing what the needs are of people that answer to you is critical to your success and their success. Why put anyone at a disadvantage if you don't have to, especially when all you have to do is ask a question.CHAPTER 7
We have all heard the expression, don't over analyze. Well, that may true as it can waste time and bring up issues that are more confusing than not, but analyzing in an effort to help your company stand out from the pack is more than required. Analyzing takes time, effort, intelligence, patience and evaluating. It's not easy when done properly and thoroughly. But, without it you are simply flying by the seat of your pants or following a competitor.
By setting up an analytical process you slowly bring an understanding and strategy for advantage. Knowing who your customers are and what they want/need is critical to separating yourself out from the pack.
Analyzing properly, (and this means investing in software and people) allows you to disseminate information to the point of details that make a difference to customers, employees and the market in general.
When everyone on your team understands and supports what value analyzing brings, it will create an innovative process that impacts costs, behavior, interest, creativity and attention to trends taking place – which quite frankly are always.
Analyzing data can seem a real chore, especially if you don't see the results of the implemented process based on what has been analyzed. But, again, done properly, deliberately with purpose it will be obvious when competitors look to emulate.CHAPTER 8
Using the Word "Team"
The definition of team is; a group that comes together to achieve a common goal. It sounds nice and the word is used a lot, but its meaning in many aspects has lost its true value within organizations.
A team shares a common goal and strategy. A team holds criticisms back of other members as the words team and criticism contradict each other.
The team leader includes all on the team of strategy and keeps inclusive communication streaming in order to avoid miscommunication and devaluing.
Identifying the strengths of each team player so their talents can be honed and coordinated with others on the team is beyond required for you and your team to be successful.
If you are responsible for a group of people (including the full organization) and things are in disarray and/or in unfocused tension, then you are applying the word and actions of the meaning wrong. Everyone needs to be comfortable on the team so they can contribute to its goal and purpose comfortably and confidently. Otherwise it is not a team, it's just a bunch of people going to work.CHAPTER 9
If Your Team is Not Working
Then you have some adjusting to do. Sometimes the team you have in place just does not mesh right. It can be a combination of things ... personality conflicts, poor leadership, talent gap, or maybe the strategy is off. Whatever it may be adjustments need to be done.
Putting people together that are mature enough to argue a point and not offend or be offended by a push back is important because it lessens the chance of hurt feelings and less openness.
Too many people on a team confuses issues. People forget what was said and who said what and challenges keep recycling bringing you no closer to the objective.
A strong and fair leader is pertinent to the success of a team's performance. Someone unbiased and balanced in their views.
The problem with teams (or having so many competing views in one room) is that everyone is vying for position and notoriety. That is why it is so important to manage a team in a way that promotes cohesion and attention to each member. When people on the team are not afraid of losing their job or being chastised for an unusable idea they will flourish in a cooperative and valued way. However, sometimes a member or two just are not conducive to the team and may be a weak link ... switching them out may be necessary. It happens.CHAPTER 10
You have a plan ... everything is going according to plan, then all of a sudden your plan is off the rails. Well, first of all you should have known something like this could happen. Second of all, what will you do now?
Think. You need to calm yourself down, avoid panicking or being impulsive and think through the challenge.
Wishing and hoping are just that, wishing and hoping. That won't get you back on track. You need to assess your situation, contemplate the effects of slowing, going forward or changing direction completely. But, in a calm manner. When your adrenaline is pumping you need to dilute it so you don't go 90 miles an hour in a bad direction/decision.
Once you have decided a course of action, deal with it. Just because the plan went off the rails does not mean the goal or objective is unobtainable. Adjust your course and move on.
Being cognoscente/aware of your situation and monitoring your actions going forward will help in alleviating the stress that comes with an unexpected (that you should have expected something) change of plans. It gives you a sense of being back in control ... albeit, only a sense.CHAPTER 11
Retaining talent is a major responsibility of management and it should be listed as one of the top priorities in any organization. Providing employees with growth potential, inclusive challenges and a positive environment to pursue the goals of the organization is a sure way of retaining the right people and keeping morale high. Engaging your employees to consider what is in front of them engages their interest, hence morale. Allowing your staff to demonstrate their potential in turn allows them to prove their worth and gain experience. Your team, your staff, your employees, whatever ... needs to be encouraged by you as a leader and the environment free of fear because fear immobilizes and suppresses talent. Retain by:
Challenging your talent demonstrating to them that you care. That their interests are your interests, that their success is your success. Challenge their skills so they sharpen them.
Treat your employees like you know what they are capable of. This needs to trickle down from the top ... your management team must be able to identify talent and direct that talent where and when needed. Knowing their strengths (and weaknesses) allows you to properly manage their talent and provides for positive deliberate productivity. Less down time. It is the engagement of their capabilities which is key.
Scare them and watch their flight. Organizations with a culture of fear are organizations that lose talent. Putting fear into employees, either managers or line employees, will only motivate so much. Organizations that do not take the time to prioritize talent risk losing the key drivers of an organizations success. A command and control, divide and conquer, aloof or disengagement of one or another manger/employee will simply instill a, "is it 5pm yet?" mentality.
Talent has to be one of the most wasted resources. When you are able to communicate with the people that work for you in a way that encourages their growth and sends them home feeling as if they've accomplished something ... fulfilled and not afraid that they made a mistake or that their jobs are always on the line, then you will see what they aspire to, how productivity increases, how the bottom-line increases, how they give back what they receive and appreciate.CHAPTER 12
Politics is Everywhere
Very few of us can avoid office politics. Anytime a group of people are involved in something, law-and-behold someone is looking for an advantage. What do you do about it?
First thing is try to stay clear. If this is not possible then manage it to your best advantage by understanding the players and what their interest or motivation are.
As you watch the politics develop navigate your way in a way that makes it possible to get your work done without falling into a trap.
Avoid allowing yourself to be duped or encouraged to make a statement detrimental to the organization or another (especially about your boss).
Office politics comes from people vying for position, power struggles, being disgruntled, jealous, fear, anger, you name it ... wherever it is coming from and why you should at least be aware of so you can manage your way through or around it.CHAPTER 13
Focus on your Strengths
Usually when you are good at something you enjoy doing it. When you enjoy doing it chances are you are good at it. If you are not good at something what's the necessity in trying to get good at it? If you don't like crunching numbers, why would you expend energy and misplace your talent trying to get better at it? Look, it is good to learn new things and continuously learn, but the track to success is faster when you are good at something and you build on it.
It's a pain to work on weaknesses: Who wants to spend energy trying to move from slightly below average to slightly above? Try focusing on your strengths instead. Make what you're already good at an even greater asset. After all, if you really want to make a difference at your company, it's your strengths that will lead the way. Of course, it's more challenging to move from well above average to even more above average, but you'll enjoy it more since your strengths are things you likely already take pleasure in doing. And don't worry about having too much of a good thing. Have you ever worked with a leader who possessed too much character or was too strategic? Probably not.CHAPTER 14
Staying Late at Work
Sometimes it is necessary, most of the time not. A company's culture may imply that you need to work harder and stay late. That's a tough culture to be a part of, but there are alternatives, things you should consider.
First, why? When during the day do you decide that you will stay late, or is it decided the day before or the day before that? What are you doing or not doing that is dictating these extra hours to you? Is it you, are you moving to slow or maybe you are inefficient? Perhaps your time management skills are off? Think about it.
Circumstances do come up that require you to stay late sometimes, but it should not be a common thing. If the culture of the organization you are working for fears this into you or has created an environment where it is expected ... then you need to assess who you work for. Putting in 10, 12, 14 hours a day at work is nothing to brag about – especially if you are not reaping the benefits of high compensation, appreciation, or promotions (plural).
Delegating work is important ... it makes you more efficient and allows you to concentrate and move forward in the areas of work that require your attention more deeply. However, it is not just delegating ... it is prioritizing, time management, dismissing nonsense, controlling your environment and schedule, etc.
Excerpted from FocuStrategy by John Canavan. Copyright © 2014 John Canavan. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1. Speaking at your Meetings, 1,
2. When you Fail, 3,
3. Nice Job, 5,
4. Prioritize, 7,
5. What is Coming, 9,
6. A Good Manager, 11,
7. Analyzing, 13,
8. Using the Word "Team", 15,
9. If Your Team is Not Working, 17,
10. Stuff Happens, 19,
11. Talent, 21,
12. Politics is Everywhere, 23,
13. Focus on your Strengths, 24,
14. Staying Late at Work, 26,
15. How the Boss Views Your Performance, 28,
16. Job Anxiety, 30,
17. Cohesion, 32,
18. External Influences, 36,
19. Managers, Keep it to Yourself, 38,
20. Working with an Enemy, 40,
21. Drop it, 42,
22. Take Advice, 44,
23. Reviews and Training, 46,
24. Being Assertive, 48,
25. The Credible Boss, 50,
26. Accepting a Bad Job, 52,
27. A Colleague, a Subordinate - Complaining or Venting, 54,
28. Managing Multi-Layers of Managers, 56,
29. Don't Wait. Be a Decision Maker Now, 58,
30. Consistency with Subordinates, 60,
31. Driving your Point, 62,
32. Your Presence, 64,
33. Think Different, 66,
34. Being too Optimistic, 68,
35. Dealing with a Collapsed Norm, 70,
36. Overdoing it in your Role, 72,
37. Your Unfocused Strategy, 74,
38. Setting an Example of Work and Personal Life, 76,
39. Others Perceptions, 78,
40. Understanding your Position/Placement, 80,
41. To Do or Not To Do, 82,
42. What to get out of a Meeting, 84,
43. Creativity's Tone, 86,
44. Distrusting the Process, 88,
45. Creating Intrigue, 90,
46. Hesitation, 92,
47. Have an Idea Where You Are Headed, 94,
48. The Hiring Balance, 96,
49. Line Employee Syndrome, 99,
50. Cost Containment, 101,
51. Organizational Change and People, 103,
52. Your Social Connection, 106,
53. Opinionated Slight, 108,
54. You are Perishable, 110,
55. What is the Solution?, 112,
56. Idea Fluidity, 114,
57. You are not Appreciated, 116,
58. Others, 118,
59. That Gut Feeling, 120,
60. When to Just Do It, 122,
61. Strategic Meetings, 124,
62. Understanding the Vision, 126,
63. Transition and Change, 128,
64. AWES, 130,
65. Expected Course/Direction, 132,
66. Identifying the Driven, Contentious, Conscientious, 134,
67. A Conscience in Conflict, 136,
68. Sunday Anxiety Syndrome, 138,
69. Your Lack of Confidence, 140,
70. Unqualified Boss, 142,
71. You have a Doubt, 144,
72. Understanding your Equilibrium, 145,
73. Understanding the Company, 147,
74. Paralysis, 149,
75. Lags and Gaps, 151,
76. When Times Get Tough, 152,
77. Predictability in Management, 154,
78. Bad Ideas and Peripheries, 156,
79. Your Motives, 158,
80. The Perils of Talking too Much, 159,
81. Dismissing Others, 161,
82. Your Assumptions Lead to Your Conclusions, 162,
83. Push you Off, 163,
84. Being Distracted, 164,
85. The Numbers, 166,
86. Keeping Them Down, 168,
87. Hypothesis, 170,
Daily Business Thoughts by John Canavan, 171,
About the Author, 195,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Outstanding and exceptionally useful! I've been following the advice and applying it to day-to-day office operations and here I am... after 4 promotions from 3 different bosses! Couldn't have made it without guidance and suggestions in these books as beforehand I was simply a lost child in a fog. It's a must-read, a prescription for success!! Thank you Mr. Canavan
The book gives real world guidance into the politics of today's office. No leaving out the drama and how to deal with it. Business is political, people are political, and the writer makes it clear how to deal with the mine fields to grow professionally.