Monday, 30 January 2012

Want to be a Great Manager? What do the Staff Want?


As part of a training exercise I conduct in many countries I ask the participants to tell a two-minute story about their best boss or their worst boss. The stories (some horrifying and some inspiring) show that to be a respected manager and leader we need to develop a particular set of attributes. 

Now you have read lots of stuff about management and leadership in your your textbooks however it could be argued they are just theories. For those theories and their conclusions it is essential for us to listen to what staff, (those we get things done through), say is important to them. 

So to be a respected manager we need to develop and exhibit the following ATTRIBUTES:

Normal - being culturally compatible with the staff under our supervision by understanding and respecting the cultural norms of the group that we are both responsible for... and responsible to.

Organised - being well managed in our own personal work and being able to meet our own deadlines, being on time for meetings and calls and allocating our own time effectively.

Trainer - facilitating the constant growth of expertise and personal development of the staff and by showing them what a 'good' job looks like and helping them to achieve success.

Transparent - letting staff know what is going on with us, why we are acting in a certain way and what is influencing the decisions we are taking.

Reliable - constantly living by the adage of, 'saying what we will do and then doing what we say'... without exception.

Impressive - presenting ourselves as a professional in the way we speak, dress and our general demeanour in public and particularly in the presence of customers and competitors.

Consistent - being reasonably predictable in our habits and work methods and by not changing the 'rules' without consultation and agreement.

Knowledgeable - possessed of some area of technical expertise that the staff can relate to as relevant to the position we are holding, without necessarily being the top expert.

Fair - being equitable in our dealings with those we are managing by avoiding favourites and demonstrating willingness to discipline in private and praise in public.

Accessible - making ourself available to help solve problems, give ideas, act as a coach or mentor, settle disputes and provide support for staff needing resources.

Competent - knowing what needs to be done, by whom, by when and how to bring to bear the necessary resources.

Ethical - placing the interest of the group, the company, the customers and the community ahead of any personal desires and by not operating a personal agenda.

Disciplined - being calm in times of crisis and by remaining focussed on what needs to be done and by constantly working towards the group and organisation goals.

Now I guess to be all these things is a big ask however miss one and your not going to make the grade from the staff's point of view.

Want to see how you do? Why not distribute a questionnaire getting you staff to rank you from one to ten for each? Not game?

Saturday, 28 January 2012

The Inner Conflict Between Management and Leadership


As I said in my last post Henry Mintzberg offers managers three areas of competence or roles central to our responsibilities as a manager that we should also consider. These he calls: “interpersonal”, “informational” and “decisional”. Our “interpersonal” responsibilities include being the figurehead, providing the central liaison point and acting as the leader. “Informational” responsibilities include monitoring activity, disseminating information and acting as spokesperson for the group. Finally “decisional” activities are, being entrepreneurial, handling disruptions, allocating resources and negotiating on behalf of the organisation. These issues will also be expanded in the various other management lessons.

Management is about all the issues that Mintzberg defines and hence the polarities or two head problem, as managers today need to be leaders so perhaps the following will explain the dilemma further…


Traditional management (in the bad/good old days) used to concern itself with; supervision, checking, delegating, controlling, inputs and how to make sure the staff did what they where told. Managers where seen as fitting along a style line somewhere between laissez faire (lax) and autocratic (despotic), with us all being encouraged to be somewhere in the middle as democrats. 

Today the issue is more complex with the newly ‘empowered’ better educated workforce that most of us today manage, our personal style preference is perhaps less relevant and we as managers need to become ‘more things’ to a more demanding workforce. The concept of a manager also fulfilling a leader role is prevalent in most companies. Some even argue managers are no longer required at all and it is only leaders that will drive the companies of the future. This is fine in theory however corporate culture can take a long time to change and for the majority of us the expectation is that we will be required to fulfil the duel roles. This creates inner conflict as the ideals of the two disciplines are at opposite ends of the spectrum. 

The following list gathered from a wide range of sources gives some insights into the problem facing most managers:  

MANAGEMENT is about: CONTROLLING... Don’t leave our department, check what they’re up to, define competence requirements and ‘our title and position give us the authority’ to act within the company procedures and policies. 
LEADERSHIP, which is about: FREEDOM... Finding ways to encourage liberalization, creativity and initiative by letting our ‘followers’ participate in a flexible situation where we share authority and perhaps break the rules

MANAGEMENT is about: SURVIVING... Dealing with short-term operational needs and processes whilst strictly controlling costs and watching the budget, and sweating on the monthly targets. 
LEADERSHIP, which is about: GROWTH... Identifying new and possibly risky ventures that could be the basis for future income (and perhaps losses) and allowing unplanned changes of direction in and attempt to capitalize on fleeting market opportunities

MANAGEMENT is about: MANAGING... Instructing, allocating, delegating, following up, disciplining, organizing and directing. 
LEADERSHIP, which is about: LEADING...Inspiring, helping, encouraging teamwork, coaching, supporting, constant feedback, continuous personal development and goal alignment

MANAGEMENT is about: ADMINISTRATING... Overseeing activities, processes & individual tasks, control, supervision and testing against norms and agreed procedures 
LEADERSHIP, which is about: STRATEGISING... Seeking process improvement, implementing change, agreeing goals and empowering followers whilst constantly questioning the value of the plans in light of unfolding events

MANAGEMENT is about: ORDER & CONSISTENCY... Protecting the existing structure, systems, traditions and ‘the status quo’, belief that past successes give insights into the way forward and relying on accumulated ‘facts’ or ‘truths’ 
LEADERSHIP, which is about: CREATING CHANGE... Vision, direction, values and destruction of ‘the way we’ve always done it’, or as Jack Welsh (ex GE) and others put it engaging in ‘continuos creative destruction’

MANAGEMENT is about: COMPETING... Seeking the winning edge, overcoming those in the way & moving up the ‘ladder’, being your own ‘spin-doctor’ and being heavily involved in corporate politics. 
LEADERSHIP, which is about: COLLABORATING... Showing love and respect for individuals and seeking win-win solutions and actively promoting the success of our team members and presenting them in a good light

MANAGEMENT is about: DOING THINGS RIGHT... Organising, setting the rules and seeing rules are followed (compliance), being the inspector, keeping up with the latest technical advances and controlling information. 
LEADERSHIP, which is about: DOING THE RIGHT THINGS... Developing trust and taking risks (commitment) to ensure all ‘followers’ meet their full potential and know what is the most desirable way forward through full disclosure of operational needs and wants.

MANAGEMENT is about: INPUTS... Amount, type and quality of resources, understanding of cash flow and cash burn rates, effective plant utilisation, staff allocation and efficient use of raw materials.
LEADERSHIP, which is about: OUTPUTS... The level and volume of satisfied customers we can create, the market and how it perceives our organisation and how we can become the best in our field and how to provide more value to our customer.

MANAGEMENT is about: MANAGING THINGS. Being operations focused, having high levels of technical expertise (or at least understanding) and using people as production inputs or resources. 
LEADERSHIP, which is about: LEADING PEOPLE... Our charisma, socialised power, expertise in human relations, superior communication skills, inspiration & motivation and seeing human beings as potentials.

Not sure where the original material above came from as it was part of a training course I inherited, however I found some excellent additional reading with references listed here:

With the conflicting nature of these requirements we really need to be a bit of a two-headed monster if we are to be successful as a manager and the dilemma will continue throughout our working life.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

So What Do Mangers Actually Do?

Now you may think that it is a pretty basic question however with the recent spate surveys showing that management skills around the world are pretty poor, perhaps it's time to get back to some basics. This is the first part of a series which I will post over the next week or two.


The definition of management that stands out and is perhaps the most widely recognised is: "management is about getting things done through other people". According to the text books the primary functions of management are, planning, organising, controlling and leading. All these issues will be covered in this series of posts however alone they are inadequate in describing what management is really all about. Lets start by defining the core issues with which management is concerned.

Renowned management writer Peter Drucker introduced the concepts of efficiency and effectiveness. Drucker sees efficiency as "doing things right" and effectiveness as "doing the right things". The problem with being efficient alone is that you can efficiently produce a bunch of less than desirable goods or services, or even efficiently run and ineffective operation that creates no customer value at all. If 'companies only exist to serve customers' (which they do) and if the organisation is not effectively customer focussed as first priority... all the efficiency that we can muster will be of no use at all. You might think that this is common sense however many new ventures, including a large number of dot-coms in the late nineties where extremely efficient technically, however in market terms were totally ineffective, hence the crashes.

Henry Mintzberg offers managers three areas of competence or roles central to our responsibilities as a manager that we should also consider. These he calls: "interpersonal", "informational" and "decisional". Our "interpersonal" responsibilities include being the figurehead, providing the central liaison point and acting as the leader. "Informational" responsibilities include monitoring activity, disseminating information and acting as spokesperson for the group. Finally "decisional" activities are, being entrepreneurial, handling disruptions, allocating resources and negotiating on behalf of the organisation. These issues will also be expanded in the various sections that follow.

Management from my experience is about all the above however today it is so interwoven with leadership and that fact is perhaps is the wrinkle that has created so many problems particularly with those promoted from within or for those with no actual management training. Most mangers (in the companies I have looked at) unfortunately are selected in their technical proficiency rather than their proven leadership or management competence.

So traditional management (in the bad/good old days) used to concern itself with; supervision, checking, delegating, controlling, inputs and how to make sure the staff did what they where told. Managers where seen as fitting along a style line somewhere between laissez faire (lax) and autocratic (despotic), with us all being encouraged to be somewhere in the middle as democrats.


Today the issue is more complex with the trend in ever more countries towards the newly 'empowered' better educated workforce that most of us manage. Our personal style preference is perhaps less relevant and we as managers need to become 'more things' to a more demanding workforce. The concept of a manager also fulfilling a leader role is prevalent in most companies. Some even argue managers are no longer required at all and it is only leaders that will drive the companies of the future. This is fine in theory however corporate culture can take a long time to change and for the majority of us the expectation is that we will be required to fulfil the duel roles. This creates inner conflict as the ideals of the two disciplines are at opposite ends of the spectrum. The next post will define this problem further with lists gathered from a wide range of sources gives some insights into the dilemma facing most managers. 

Next issue we take a look at...


Sunday, 15 January 2012

Power: Grab It or Live in Mediocrity

I know it can for some be a difficult topic however, without power you really will live a small life.

The best place to start with thinking about power is to at least understand where your power can come from. A number of well-known management “gurus” have written about power and I can remember many years ago having to do a paper on it for a management course I was on. Well the world may have changed, however the basic rules of being powerful have not. It is generally agreed there are five sources of personal power and they, under various guises are listed below. with a brief explanation of what they entail.

One: Formal, legitimate, delegated, authority or position power

This form of power comes from an individual’s designated role and the role's relative status within the organization. Commonly this power entails the right to organise people and resources. As this form power is conferred by the organization if the position or role is lost so is the power. At its worst this can manifest itself as negative power as the holder has the capacity to stop, delay or disrupt the actions of others.  This negative power usually used by those that feel they have no other source of control and is an often expression of anger, frustration, low morale or poor self esteem. A similar form or formal power is sometimes known a sanction power or reward - coercion power. This covers an individual's capability to use incentives or issue threats to control people’s behaviour. Rewards are offered to those who comply and punishment or deprivation threatened for non-compliance. This power can be demonstrated as naked aggression or more indirectly as pressure exerted through the threat of or actual removal of status, privileges or even financial rewards.

Two: Expert power:

Expert power is based on the specialised knowledge or skills that an individual has which can be contributed or withheld. Generally, individuals are positive about being lead, or at least influenced, by those whom they regard as ‘an expert’. This form of power is "comparative" and the holder of this type of power is always under threat from other "experts". Expert power is often based around a very narrow bank of knowledge, skills or competence and can be short lived as time passes and technology or techniques evolve. It is a reality that someone will always come along who knows more than you do in a particular area.

Three: Information or communication power

This power is derived from being able to control the flow of information, or to be able to edit and be selective about what is passed on, e.g. from senior management to team members, or even a secretary to a boss or other managers/staff. "The information may be horizontal, to be shared with colleagues, or vertical, to be passed up or down through a formal organisational structure". This type of power is often linked with position power, however those with little formal authority, clerks, secretaries and receptionists, can exert information power. I have seen customer and supplier files withheld or even destroyed by individuals that were under operational pressure in an attempt to stave off the control of a situation which was threatening to staff that were acting in an unethical manner.

Four: Connection or as I was taught it "referent" power:

Referent power comes about as a result of an individual’s ability to control or use access to influential people through formal networks or associations. Additionally as people/employees increasingly extend their circle of influence or information sources through involvement in informal networks their power can increase. Networks and hierarchies that operate independently of more formal organisational structures can often compete with, or even be more influential than the official company structure.

Five: Personal power or personal attractiveness

This type of power results from an individual’s own personal qualities or ‘charisma’.  People will often undertake a particular action or behave in particulars ways because they admire and like the individual holding the power. Some believe that this type o power is built up through "being reliable, trustworthy, honest and likeable". This view is obviously limited in its explanation as charisma and what it is is not something that automatically comes with behavior alone. The personal attractiveness part of this equation can also obviously be lost as we age or as our ability to attract others through 'positive' personality may be diminished. Suffice to say if you want to develop this type of power in yourself you will need to do the best you can with how you look, present yourself, personal confidence levels, how well you communicate and your natural personal traits.

What is power about and what are the benefits and pitfalls

According to Richard Petty, professor of psychology at Ohio State University and co-author of a study on power:  “Powerful people have confidence in what they are thinking. Whether their thoughts are positive or negative toward an idea, that position is going to be hard to change,” This of course can be both a benefit and a shortcoming and you, if you hold power, can risk missing opportunities to grow and develop through the arrogance of total self-belief.

Abraham Lincoln said, "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power." So if you seek power, beware of the almost inevitable personal consequences to your thought processes and even your very existence.

Amy Tan "You see what power is - holding someone else's fear in your hand and showing it to them!" Reality succinctly put perhaps!

I was once told that: 'for power to exist you must have control over something that is limited in supply and that considered valuable by those over whom you want hold power'. This as we have seen above can be technical skills, information or even a willingness to have an ongoing relationship.

So if you are seeking power be advised you must develop all five areas otherwise your time in control will be but a fleeting moment and the process of losing power can be a terminal event.

All too hard you think, so much time, so much to learn, so much politics. Can I suggest if your ignore the five points of power you can have, or even rely on just one or two your life will not be your own and you will end up as puppet of those around you.

By the way, power is rarely given… you must stand up and take it.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

How Do I Motivate My Staff? You Can't, So Don't Try


Motivation: The video pretty much says it all.

A few motivation facts:

All human motivation is basically selfish, i.e. people do things for their reasons not ours.

All people are motivated and they will continually move either towards or away from all propositions.

You cannot motivate other people because all motivation comes from within.

People’s motivation is constantly changing in response to their ever-changing personal priorities.

To utilize others motivation, find out what they want and why they want it and then convince them that you are their best chance of getting it.



Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Human Behaviour, the Basics



Firstly, culture can be defined as; a perceived truth (rather than reality) about a group and its members regarding their beliefs, values, attitudes and norms of behaviour, which have evolved from a common history, collective knowledge and similar conditioning. Culture is strongly influenced by race, religion, political and social structures and the geographical and physical environment. Culture manifests as etiquette, communication style, the arts, groupthink, symbols, traditions, behaviour patterns, shared ideas, common ideals and a way of life.

A few definitions to make sure you and I are thinking similarly;

Reality: What is! …or as the dictionary puts it “real things or the real nature of things rather than imagined, invented or theoretical ideas”.

Truth: A narrow perspective on reality developed as a result of the accident of the place and time of our birth, reinforced by those who seek an ally to support and perpetuate their own version of the ‘truth’. The dictionary defines truth as ‘all the facts… rather than that, which is imagined or invented’.

Beliefs: Faith in a set of learnt ‘truths’ formed as a result of our indoctrination by the influential when we are to young to resist, or if you prefer the dictionary definition, ‘a feeling of certainty that something exists, is true or is good (or bad)’.

Values: A subjective point of view regarding the worth of our beliefs and the worth of the assumed or perceived beliefs, values and attitudes of those we view or interact with, based on our own narrow perspective. Once again the dictionary, “the values of a person or group are the moral principles and beliefs that they think are important”.

Attitudes: Personal opinion governing rules of behaviour we think we can get away with when dealing with others from whom we are taking, or to whom we are giving, in the interests of our personal wellbeing. The dictionary ‘the way that you (or others) think and feel about something, especially when it shows in the way you (or others) behave’.

Perhaps you could see these definitions as a little cynical however when we get into the motivational theories and ‘motivational rules’ you may change your mind and agree with the thinking.

To understand what is happening with cultural influences perhaps the following ‘cultural iceberg’ will shed some further light. The iceberg is made up of the above factors and is shown below.
Behaviours: the way we do or say things and the things we are prepared to do or say. The bit we see above the waterline!

Attitudes: a stance we take and how a we feel and what we think (based on our values) regarding situations and individuals and our interactions between the environment and other people

Values: a set of moral standards or rules (based on our beliefs) that govern they way we make judgements regarding the goodness or badness of factors in our environment and that influence what we set as the norms of a correct existence.

Beliefs: an unquestioning view on how things should be and what is important based on our cultural assumptions and the ‘truth’ of our existence as a social being that we consciously or subconsciously buy in to.

Cultural assumptions: ‘the truth’ regarding our existence and our place in the world inherited and reinforced through indoctrination (usually at an early age) and based on the history and traditions of our predecessors.

Remember as a manger (or for that matter as a human being) that you can only see what is above the waterline and that your actions and influence will only at best encourage or discourage behaviours. Perhaps if you are extremely effective you may (and should) change attitudes, however it is almost impossible and would be foolhardy to attempt to change another’s Cultural Assumptions, Beliefs or Values. You just don’t have the time to invest.
In the 1980’s Geert Hofstede came up with four contrasting dimensions that influenced how people from different nationalities behaved at work. Based on studies of over 116,000 workers in 50 countries he found that people where inclined towards four fundamental dimensions, SMALL v’s LARGE POWER DISTANCE (minimal status differences v’s wide gap between those in power and the ‘followers’), INDIVIDUALISM v’s COLLECTIVISM, (my interests take priority v’s the groups wellbeing takes priority), MASCULINITY v’s FEMININITY (no sexism intended), (assertive, quantity v’s caring quality of life) and LOW v’s HIGH UNCERTAINTY AVOIDANCE (risk is OK v’s safety first tendencies). He later added the fifth dimension of SHORT TERM versus LONG TERM orientation.

Hofstede’s dimensions and a few of the consequences;

Power distance, that is the extent to which the less powerful members of organizations and institutions (like the family) accept and expect that power be distributed unequally. This represents inequality (more versus less), but defined from below, not from above. It suggests that the followers endorse a society’s level of inequality as much as the leaders’ back it’.

Small Power Distance Large Power Distance
Inequality is ‘bad’ and best avoided and everyone has equal rights and interdependence exists between less and more powerful people.

Parents and children treat each other as ‘equals’ and teachers develop students’ initiative and are experts who transfer impersonal truths.

Hierarchy in organizations means an inequality of roles established for convenience and decentralization is popular.

Subordinates expect to be consulted and the ideal boss is a competent democrat.

Local management theories focus on role of employees.

Managers’ privileges and status symbols are frowned upon.

Skills, wealth, power, and status need not go together and power is based on formal position, expertise and the ability to give rewards and the use of power should be legitimate and is subject to criteria of good and evil.
Inequality is natural and desired and the powerful have privileges and less powerful people should be dependent on the more powerful.

Parents teach obedience and children show respect and teachers are expected to take initiative and are gurus who transfer personal wisdom.

Hierarchy in organizations reflects a natural state of human inequality and centralization is popular.

Subordinates expect to be told what to do; the ideal boss is a benevolent autocrat, good father.

Local management theories focus on role of managers.

Managers’ privileges and status symbols are expected/popular.

Skills, wealth, power, and status should go to together and power is based on association with powerful individuals, charisma and the ability to use force; might prevails over right; whoever holds the power is right and good.  

Individualism on the one side versus its opposite, collectivism, that is the degree to which individuals are integrated into groups. On the individualist side we find societies in which the ties between individuals are loose: everyone is expected to look after him/herself and his/her immediate family. On the collectivist side, we find societies in which people from birth onwards are integrated into strong, cohesive in-groups, often extended families (with uncles, aunts and grandparents) that continue protecting them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty.



Everyone grows up to look after him/herself and his/her immediate (nuclear) family only, with identity is based in the individual who in turn thinks 'I'

Speaking one's mind is a characteristic of an honest person regardless of the situation or circumstances.

The purpose of education is learning how to learn and academic qualifications increase economic worth and self-respect.

Relationship employer/employee is a contract supposed to be based on mutual advantage.

Hiring and promotion decisions are supposed to be based on competence and rules only.

Management is of individuals, task prevails over relationship and individual interests prevail over collective interests.

Everyone has a right to privacy and is expected to have a private

Ideologies of individual freedom prevail over those of equality and an individual’s self-actualisation (fulfilment) is an ultimate goal.

People are born into extended families that protect them in exchange for loyalty; identity is based in ones social network and individuals think ‘we’.

Harmony should be maintained and direct confrontations are avoided, there are times when nothing should be said.

Purpose of education is learning how to do and qualifications are seen as important to provide entry to higher status groups.

Relationship employer/employee is perceived in moral terms, like a family link.

Hiring, and promotion decisions take employees' in-group into account

Management is management of groups, relationship prevails over task and collective interests prevail over individual interests.

Private life is invaded by group and opinions predetermined by group membership.

Ideologies of equality prevail over those of individual freedom and harmony and consensus in society are ultimate goals.

Uncertainty avoidance deals with a society's tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity. It ultimately refers to a persons search for truth and indicates to what extent members feel either comfortable or uncomfortable in unstructured, novel, unknown, surprising or different from usual situations. Individuals from uncertainty accepting cultures are more tolerant of differing opinions; they try to have as few rules as possible. People within these cultures are more matter-of-fact, thoughtful and reflective and not expected by others in their environment to express emotions’. The opposite type uncertainty avoiding cultures try to minimize the possibility of such situations by strict laws and rules, safety and security measures and tend to believe in one absolute truth’; 'there can only be one truth and we have it'. ‘People in uncertainty avoiding cultures are also more emotional and motivated by inner nervous energy’.

Low Uncertainty Avoidance

High Uncertainty Avoidance
Socialized, calm acceptance of the unknown, risk taking is accepted and often seen as desirable.

Tolerance is shown toward those with differing opinions and standards of behaviour and individual or group differences or beliefs are not seen as a threat.

Individuals feel relatively safe and secure and time focus is now and the future.

Relationship with the environment is domination or harmony and individual activity is about doing or controlling.

People are seen as either good or a mixture of good and bad and individuals or groups see themselves as responsible for their own wellbeing.

Space is seen as private or a mixture of public and private.

Empowerment is accepted and initiative is shown and mistakes are seen as learning.

Individual/group stress and aggressiveness induced by anxiety about an uncertain future.

Low tolerance for deviant ideas/ behaviour, formal rules and mechanisms to reduce risk and members strive to believe in a common set of absolute truths.

Individuals feel relatively threatened and time focus is the past and now.

Relationship with the environment is subjugation or at best harmony and individual activity is about being.

People are seen as evil or at best a mixture of good and bad and the group or the hierarchy determines wellbeing.
Space is public.

 Instructions are sought, responsibility avoided and mistakes are seen as ‘sins’ that will exact punishment.
Masculinity versus its opposite, femininity, refers to the distribution of roles between the genders. The studies revealed that (a) women's values differ less among societies than men's values; (b) men's values from one country to another contain a dimension from very assertive and competitive and maximally different from women's values on the one side, to modest and caring and similar to women's values on the other. The women in feminine countries have the same modest, caring values as the men; in the masculine countries they are somewhat assertive and competitive, but not as much as the men, so that these countries show a gap between men's values and women's values.

Masculine Societies

Feminine Societies
Assertiveness is valued.

Money and material gain is desirable.
Sensitivity is valued.  

Relationships and group members’ welfare is paramount.

Long-term versus short-term orientation: this fifth dimension was found in a study among students in 23 countries around the world, using a questionnaire designed by Chinese scholars. It can be said to deal with virtue regardless of truth. Values associated with long-term orientation are thrift and perseverance; values associated with short-term orientation are respect for tradition, fulfilling social obligations, and protecting one's 'face'. Both the positively and the negatively rated values of this dimension are found in the teachings of Confucius, the most influential Chinese philosopher who lived around 500 B.C.; however, the dimension also applies to countries without a Confucian heritage. The following is my interpretation of the consequences.

Short Term Orientation Long Term Orientation

Only ‘now’ exists and we should live for now and ourselves.

Consumption and spending is acceptable.

Success is a result of applied intelligence and competence.  face.

The demands of the user or customer are the most important.

Tradition is of little interest.

We should work for the future and for the next generation.

Thrift and saving for the future is a virtue.

Perseverance will ultimately lead to success; failure leads to shame and loss of face.

Following the demands of the hierarchy is desirable.

Tradition is important.

Obviously if you manage/lead, a group of people with a collective attitude, that see you the boss as all-powerful, who value relationships over material gain and that ‘suffer’ from high uncertainty avoidance, they are going to become quite unsettled if you casually announce say, a company, division or department restructure.

Often the culture issue is subtler than obvious ‘national differences’. Perhaps more importantly for those in management are the problems and misunderstandings occur between those that are often seen as integrated groups of one nationality or of one company. For managers, cultural differences between, a sales team, financial control, administration, human resource, production, service, and research & development can cause difficulty and hamper the performance of both the individual and the organization. Cultural diversity and the difficulties associated with this diversity is the subject of much intense debate in many companies. One company for whom I conduct training surveyed their managers to find the areas of their function that created the most operational stress and the results showed interdepartmental cultural differences as a major cause of problems.

Example; you can see why difficulties may occur between members of the research & development department who are interested in ‘long term visions, superior features, safety, the best product for the customer and who talk a lot of technical jargon’, when they are meeting with the finance division who are interested in ‘cost minimization, immediate cash flow, long term profitability and the shareholders who talk using a lot of financial jargon’. Add a representative from sales, ‘market share, need it now, the price has to be more competitive, using sell, sell, sell talk’ and perhaps a HR director, ‘they’re not trained, it’s too much of a strain on the staff and they’ll all leave, who is using long words from the last book he/she read on the psychology of the workplace’ and cultural issues can explode.

As leader/managers with an ever increasing mix of people from different backgrounds combined with ever increasing rates of change and the need for greater levels of specialisation, we all need to spend more time in understanding and managing the cultural differences in our organizations. To help us there are some guides that we should personally adopt and encourage others to embrace.

·         Stereotyping is an intellectually unsound practice
·         No one is an expert in your, culture not even you
·         No one can be an expert on someone else’s culture
·         Don’t make assumptions about people, ask questions
·         Never try to tell someone about their culture… ask
·         Moral judgements on a persons value based on culture are best left to the stupid
·         Another culture may not be better or worse, just different  

A major point for you to consider…

Generalising about people based on preconceived ideas, cultural background, gender, race, technical or professional disciplines and career choices or on any other basis you can think of has no place in a manager’s mind or heart. Although this chapter offers for your consideration a number of ideas based on research and to some extent categorizes or groups people by such things as cultural predispositions, personality type, or ego states this is done purely to demonstrate the complexity of individuals. As an astute manager you will always need to see people as infinitely complex individuals that have their own hopes, desires and motivations that will be constantly changing as an almost unlimited variety of personal and business situations evolve.  

Culture's Consequences – Geert H. Hofstede, Publisher: Sage Publications, Incorporated Pub. Date: April  2001 2nd Edition
“A summary of my ideas about national culture differences” - Geert H. Hofstede,, (permissions Geert Hofstede BV at fax +31-26-361-1021 or
Narcissistic Leaders’ (Article) - Michael Maccoby (anthropologist and psychotherapist), Harvard business Review/OnPoint, January-February 2000.
Transactional Analysis in Psychotherapy - Berne, Eric (1961), Grove Press, New York.
 Games people play - Berne, Eric (1964), Grove Press, New York.
The ITAA Development Committee Task Force on Transactional Analysis Core Concepts, -, Claude Steiner, Chair, August 2000 

I’m OK Your OK – Thomas A. Harris – Harper and Row (Avon books Inc). - 1973 
The Power To Succeed: More Principles For Powerful Living, Book II - Dr. Joe Rubino - Vision Works Publishing 47A Sheffield Rd. Boxford, MA 01921 Phone: 978/887-3125, Fax: 630/982-2134, Email: Web:,
A Theory of Human Motivation - A. H. Maslow (1943) - Originally Published in Psychological Review, 50, 370-396.
The Motivation to Work - Frederick Herzberg, Mausner, B, & Snyderman, B.B. (2nd ed.). New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1959
One More Time: How Do You Motivate Employees? – Frederick Herzberg Harvard Business Review: (Sept./Oct. 1987)   

The Human Side of the Enterprise – Douglas McGregor, McGraw Hill New York 1960
Existence, Relatedness, and Growth; Human Needs in Organizational Settings
-,%20Clayton%20P./104-3787426-8056713 - Clayton P. Alderfer, Publisher: New York Free Press; March 1972
Human Motivation – by David C. McClelland, Publisher, Scott Foresman & Co; (August 1983) 
Achievement Motivation - David C. McClelland, Publisher: Irvington Publishers, Dec. 1992 -" - Accel-Team.Com
Power Is Still the Great Motivator, With a Difference! - David H. Burnham,, © 2002 Burnham Rosen Group
 Cross-Task Generalization of Intrinsic Motivation Effects - MICHAEL E. ENZLE, University of Alberta, EDWARD F. WRIGHT, St. Francis Xavier University, ISABEL M. REDONDO, Dalhousie University, -
Goal Setting for Individuals, Groups, and Organizations - Edwin A. Locke, Publisher: Merrill Pub Co April 1984
 Goal Setting: A Motivational Technique That Works! – Edwin A. Locke and Gary P. Latham: Prentice Hall Trade; January 1984
 Motivation MGMT 352 – Organization & Human Resource Management, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh,
 Organizational Behaviour, Chapter 6, pages 226 – 231 - Stephen P. Robbins, Prentice Hall International Editions 7th Edition 1996 <
Expectancy theory of Motivation - OBNotes.htm by WILF H. RATZBURG

Richard Townsend
Corporate Learning Consultant

Social Media and Web Consuultant

Copyright orglearn - Richard Townsend 2008-12

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Managers as Entrepreneurs

Some time ago I was listening to the chief executive of a very large international telco talk about the chances of ongoing succes of the organisation and what he saw as the principal drivers that were needed. A major point that stuck with me was his belief that the organisation would need what he called more "entrepreneurial managers".  I discussed this with some of my management trainees over the next couple of courses I conducted to see what they thought or even new about what it meant to "entrepreneurial". The lack of understanding was I guess predictable (they were all telco engineers) however it was also somewhat troubling given the chief executive's statement.

I think the development of the entrepreneurial spirit in the management team is an excellent idea however what do we know about being entrepreneurial.

Definition of an Entrepreneur

Someone with the ability and willingness to introduce new products or services, that sell, to a market where those products or services where previously either unavailable or not desired.

Characteristics of an Entrepreneur

Risk taker that can live with uncertainty

Adaptable to change and able to improvise

Can see how new innovations satisfy a market

Interested in effectiveness rather than efficiency

Either creative him/herself or able to utilise those who are

Has a desire to lead in his/her area of operation or market

A continuos learner willing to make and or tolerate mistakes

Flexible, willing to change direction as the circumstances dictate

Self possessed of a sense of urgency and stimulates that sense in others

Recognises his/her shortcomings and empowers others who compensate

Managing entrepreneurial teams

Train members on how to disagree constructively

Seek methods of getting honest points of view (perhaps anonymously)

Encourage all to contribute and reward dissension and diversity

Abandon the concept of a good team player

De-politicise meeting roles and ensure roles are not aligned to hierarchical status

Counteract any ‘herd instinct’ of ‘we’re all in this together’

Encourage leadership changes to the current ‘expert’ as the needed arises

Now this is a pretty tall ask for mangers to become more entrepreneurial however if it can be achieved a more fluid and responsive organisation can be achieved. Lets face the experts in their job are those doing them so if properly managed much can be learned about where opportunities exist from our own staff.

 Of course those suffering from group think and a reliance on the way things were just won't be able to undertake such an ambitious approach however for many companies that don't they will just go the way of Kodak.... and nobody should want that. You will need to have a risk taking culture in your organisation and for many this will also present a major problem.

More management tips from Ric can be found on orglearn just follow the management tips link.

Richard Flanagan The Decline of Love and the Rise of Non Freedom

A great example of the development of a destructive culture, in this case a national culture.

The lessons are important for managers as the ills of Australia can also be found in many companies.

For us all, "non freedom"... is a dangerous trend in many so called 21st century societies and its accompanying abuse of power is growing stronger and becoming more troubling.

The lesson for business: *See minute 41:30 of the video and look around at your employers, employees and perhaps we all need to take a good look at ourselves!

As with national cultures a business with a culture devoid of "love" is at best doomed to a mediocre future and at worst to no worthwhile future at all.

Ric career success

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Communication Principles: Often Talked About However Rarely Well Practiced

Communication Quick Start

A basic question: What is communication? Many will give you an answer however the definition below I believe is the best.

The shared understanding of... what has been transmitted... about what has been meant... successfully received... as confirmed by appropriate feedback. The key word is "understanding".

Communication is also:

A series of 'symbols' translated into language and gestures by the sender, which is then deciphered as a new series of 'symbols' by the receiver!... HUH! Example - It's 3pm on your first day at work whilst hammering a nail into a piece wood your boss says to you, "you work like lightening", aha you think the boss is happy I'm quick at this job, "thank you boss for the compliment" (you say), "compliment" says the boss "I'm telling you you're hopeless, like lightening you never strike in the same place twice"

Problem one - The most commonly used 2000 words in the English language can produce 14,000 possible interpretations.

Problem two - most of us have not seriously studied how we or our colleagues cope with, or understand, the factors effecting communication.

Basic factors effecting communication:

Individual differences, Cultural differences, Attitudes about the message or the other person, Stereotyping, Generalizing, Beliefs, Values, Assumptions about what the other person knows, thinks, feels or has heard, Age, Sex, Perceptions, Expectations, Emotional state of the communicators, Jargon, Differing verbal and non verbal signals, Pre-empting, Thinking about your perspective or answer or something you don't understand, Lack of feedback, Bad questioning technique or not questioning at all, Inability to summarize, Environmental noise or visual distractions, Way in which the message is sent and of course the big one, our own LISTENING abilities.

A quick guide to sending messages more effectively:

Think about what you want to communicate... organize your thoughts. Make a mental outline... (do you know any people that never get to the point?) Pick the best time to send your message: Is this the right time? What frame of mind is receiver in?... (Hey you I want to see you Monday morning.) A great way to add stress to someone's weekend. Think about where you ate going to deliver your massage: Is this the right place or is there a lot of distractions? Is more privacy required? (Your standing with colleagues and the boss says... This proposal has some serious flaws, in Para, 4.3.a. the etc., how much do you hear);What is the level of understanding tof the receiver likely to be? Consider their frame of reference, experience and needs... (Hi so you've just joined, I'm Fred from HRD, I look after MDP and HRM planning for Mobile, Fixed and MD338 production and this is Harry from finance he is our expert on DCF analysis controlling project analysis for our AXE customers)... HUH! How or by what method will you send the message? In person, by phone, letter or memo. A combination of methods... (Ever received a long set of instructions on your voice mail?)

Communicating well is central to our success both at work, with the community at large and individuals we deal with on a daily basis. Have you ever taken a communication course? Might be worth thinking about! Richard Townsend, Corporate Learning Consultant

Monday, 2 January 2012

Ten Tips to be an Effective Manager

Tip one:

Delegate don't abdicate... when giving tasks to subordinate staff we need to maintain responsibility for the result (the thing many of us want the least), whilst giving away our authority (the thing many of us want the most). In other words, effective managers do not forget about the task, they follow up to see the desired result is achieved.

Tip two:

When giving instructions confirm understanding by soliciting feedback... the worst three words ever spoken at work are, 'do you understand', 99% of the time to save face the person being instructed will answer yes. We should ask the person being instructed to repeat the instructions in their own words to ensure our message has been understood.

Tip three:

The 80/20 principle, 80% of your business will come from 20% of your customers... be wise with your time and focus 80% of your attention on the top 20% of your customers.

Tip four:

The 20/80 principle, 20% of our staff will produce 80% of our results... we should therefore avoid the natural tendency to spend the bulk of our time ‘fixing’ our poor producers. We are better off if we support the top producers, who, because of their competence, are often left to their own devices (and can then feel unnoticed and unappreciated).

Tip five:

Traditional company procedures are viewed as ‘a guide for the wise and the rules of fools’! Being flexible and adaptable in business situations, rather than always following 'the system' in the current complex and fluid climate means we may well benefit if we are prepared to modify our attitudes and take a different course of action to the norm, (easily said however hard to do).

Tip six:

Before answering staff questions, ask them to suggest a solution to the problem... if staff are encouraged to offer their suggestions true mentoring/coaching can begin, plus it's a good way to find new approaches to solving old problems.

Tip seven:

Allow staff to make and learn from mistakes, (within reason)... by allowing mistakes and then coaching to improve performance, 'subordinates' will be more willing to take responsibility. A common tendency to ridicule or 'hit' those who make mistakes is a major reason for the failure of many empowerment programs.

Tip eight:

Manage the in-tray using the "ABC method", split the in tray into 3 piles (A, B & C) then assume there is no B... take B pile items and place them in A or C, then bin the C pile, (or have it filed, if you must). Immediately take at least one positive step on each task in the "A" pile, respond, instruct, seek clarification, or delegate.

Tip nine:

When delegating agree (rather than set) deadlines, if you don't agree a deadline you run the risk of getting a, "I haven't had time yet". By agreeing a deadline the other party has to be up front about their current workload and will have little or no excuse for not performing the task allotted.

Tip ten:

Check progress... confirm progress on tasks delegated to staff or assigned to colleagues. A good formula is to seek a report at "half time" and in the "final quarter".

Note: Better habits makes for better management and it supposedly takes twenty one days to a month to form a habit... best start now!