Archive for August, 2007
Link: carpe factum: accomplishment integration management.
Cool guy, cool blog. If you don’t already know this one, check it out. Timothy Johnson is one of my fellow advisory panel members on office-politics.com, and so I’ve just discovered his blog.
I very much like his writing style and his take on things. He asks excellent, thought-provoking questions, and he’ll also send you down the blog-trail to lots of other bloggers who have interesting things to say about management, work, leadership, etc. And here’s why he named his blog carpe factum.
It feels like I’ve been surrounded by people, lately, who are thinking deeply about what they’re doing and what they want to do. People on a variety of employment levels and at a variety of points in their lives, all the way from my 19-year-old son who’s wondering if he should stick with his entry-level make-some-money-during-college job, or look for something better, to a very senior executive who’s wondering if she should leave her extremely well-paid and high-profile job to run a non-profit about which she feels real passion.
I’m listening a lot, and doing my best to help each of these people sort through their decisions. And what I find myself asking them about their present jobs, over and over, is some version of “Do you love it?”
People often tell me that’s not a realistic question, that we can’t all have jobs we love, etc. etc. I suppose that’s true; I know there are truly unlovable jobs out there, and someone needs to do them…and yet, why shouldn’t we aspire to loving what we do?
I’d really like to hear from my readers about this. Do you love your work? If not, why not? Are you planning on doing something about that?
Let me know what you think….
Link: The Personal MBA Recommended Reading List: Management (Business Books).
There’s an extremely smart and energetic guy named Josh Kaufman who’s providing a wonderful service for aspiring businesspeople everywhere. It’s called the Personal MBA, and here’s Josh’s description of it:
“Business schools don’t have a monopoly on worldly wisdom. If you’re serious about learning advanced business principles, the Personal MBA can help. The Personal MBA recommended reading list is the tangible result of hundreds of hours of reading and research, and features only the very best books the business press has to offer. So skip the fancy diploma and $150,000 loan – you can get a world-class business education simply by reading these books.”
Josh has just updated his reading list for 2007, and he’s included Growing Great employees as one of his 6 books on management! My book is in very distinguished company; I’m pleased and honored, and hope his PMBAers find the book a valuable addition to their business education…and fun to read besides!
Link: Review: Growing Great Employees.
There are few experiences quite as marvelous as feeling completely understood. This review of Growing Great Employees appeared earlier this week in Perdido Magazine, a management magazine that “strives to deliver cutting-edge management theory and practice in a reader-friendly package.” The reviewer was extremely kind and positive, for which I felt very grateful. The truly unusual and wonderful thing, though, was that she so fully understood my intention in writing the book — to offer a deeply useful, comprehensive, clear and engaging handbook for the craft of people management — and that she felt I delivered on that intention.
Thank you Perdido, and thank you, Beverly Feldt.
You’ve got a group of senior people sitting around a table. Almost all of them are really committed to the task at hand – let’s say they’re trying to figure out the future of their organization. But there’s just one person who, for whatever reason, is not buying it. Maybe this person is afraid of change, or angry because he isn’t in control of the outcome, or pissed off at her boss. it doesn’t matter: that negative energy can completely derail the meeting…and the overall effort.
I had this experience recently, and it was exhausting: it was like walking through quicksand. Every 45 minutes or so, the person would say something that somehow denigrated the group’s work, or questioned the whole purpose of the session, or surfaced difficulties without being willing to suggest solutions. As a result, I had to do twice as much work as usual to keep the group focused, hopeful, moving forward.
And when it was all over (the session was successful, thank goodness), I asked the CEO whether this was normal behavior for this person. She sighed and said yes. I asked why this person was still at the company. I got the stock answer, which is generally: they’re-really-good-at-what-they-do.
I shared my opinion, which was this: no matter how technically skilled this person is, and no matter how effective at getting things done…this person’s behavior, and the impact of that behavior on the team, will make it much harder for the organization to achieve their hoped-for future.
It amazes me that senior executives keep such employees on board for months, sometimes years. Do they not see the enormous negative impact these folks are having? Do they not understand that this kind of destructive, anti-team behavior can literally keep their companies from succeeding?
Oh for the day when more managers adopt the no-asshole rule. It will really help make work work better.
It’s been a week since I last posted here; as those of you who read my blog regularly know, this is – for me – a long hiatus. Well, friends, it has been a very full week. I worked with three different groups in three different cities, and each session was focused on important strategic work for that group.
So, what did I learn as I was wandering around? Here are the top five things:
1) When people are focused on envisioning the future they want to create for themselves, their energy generally goes way up, and their petty irritations with each other go way down.
2) Most people can think strategically — if they take the time, they’re given some direction, and the issue at hand is important to them.
3) Even when I’m tired, I love helping people clarify and move toward their hoped-for future.
4) I feel grateful and honored to have such smart, funny, passionate and honorable clients. (This week’s were Rainbow Media, Optimum, and Union Square Hospitality Group.)
5) Not having time to go to the gym sucks.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
This is a link to a great website, Office Politics. The idea behind it is very simple and powerful: the founder, Franke James, invites people to write letters to the site about political issues they’re dealing with at work. She has collected a wonderful and diverse group of authors and thinkers to respond to the letter-writers. I’m very honored to have been asked to join this advisory panel; Franke has also been so kind as to feature my book on the site this week.
It’s amazing to see the universality of these issues: I’ve yet to read a letter on office-politics where I thought, “Really? I’ve never heard of such a thing!” When human beings aren’t operating at their best, there are definite themes. I suggest you wander around on the site — I suspect you’ll find some advice that applies to your situation…
Link: FX Networks.
I spent the day today with nearly the entire staff of FX. We conducted a process called “building the oral history”; where I helped them talk through their whole evolution as a network.
I’ve done this process for a number of companies over the years, and it’s almost invariably fun, engaging, and valuable…especially for the newer members of the group. I’ll talk more about it next time I post, because there’s a lot in it about the power of storytelling and tribe that I want to share. But what I wanted to say today is simply how great this group of people is.
As I said to them — it was so refreshing to see the power of passion and optimism, unconstrained by cynicism. As a group, they seem to genuinely enjoy their work and feel strongly about creating high-quality television: and it’s working. They keep turning out these great shows: The Shield, Nip Tuck, Rescue Me, The Riches, Damages.
Wonderful to see the power of focus and clear intention. They were a joy to work with and to support.