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Posts Tagged ‘Management’

It seems that in a corporate environment, there are three outcomes to the many different management styles that result in training employees behavior.

Chaos ensues with a very loose management and lack of accountability. Employees march to their own drummer. All of them may mean well, but like a in a rowboat, rowing in different directions gets you nowhere. Standards are non-existent the problems run rampant. These employees need direction.

Fear is an obvious one to spot. These emloyees have been trained through painful experience that sticking your neck out gets it chopped off. Usually as a result of an authoritarian manager, these employees do not innovate or think outside the box because mistakes are not tolerated and you can’t be creative with new solutions without making a few mistakes. So things don’t improve and everyone spends most of their time making defensive or protective moves.

The middle ground here is where you want your employees to be, empowered. These employees have a clear direction and standards to follow, but aren’t afraid to question current practices. The mind set should be Continuous Improvement. No matter how things are done today, there is always a better way. These changes to process and standards have to be implemented using a very deliberate and documented approach, but pointing out issues should be rewarded. You can’t improve if you don’t identify the problems.

No company is just one of these, but a mixture. You can spot these traits in individual departments and the managers method of management is probably the root cause. Unfortunately, the higher you go up the management chain, the more political things become. Jockeying for advantage becomes the focus and the employees that do all the work, don’t get the support they need. These traits get embeded in the culture and are difficult to change because trust is earned over time and people don’t change behavior unless they can trust the response.

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IBM recently announced the creation of a consulting services group that focuses on helping customers make better and faster business decisions, presumably using data to make decisions instead of instinct or “gut feel”.  This is not a new concept, although I do agree with the concept for the most part.  There are many business changes that can be made to save the company money and good metrics help you to realize those savings.  Things like reduced calls to a call center, call time reduction, and reduced truck rolls can easily be measured and improvements result in cost savings.  Using metrics to make decisions is just smart management and today’s data warehousing and CRM systems give us more and more data to analyze.  But let’s not forget the variable that never changes, the human factor.  Our employees, our customers, and our vendors are all human and because of that, there is an additional variable that is difficult to measure.  Things like customer satisfaction can be measured in surveys or sales volumes, but it is difficult to really know how loyal your customers are to your company.  Just because they are happy with their service, does not mean that they won’t jump to a competitor for the right promotion.  Can you really measure the overall satisfaction of employees?  Some employees are hesitant to be blunt  and you usually hear complaints from a few vocal employees, not the general population.  How about applying metrics to Project Management.  Sure, you can measure whether or not you met a deliverable date, but if the dates are renegotiated with a customer and the customer is happy with the change, how do you categorize that data point?  You missed the date, which is bad, but the customer is not upset about it, which is good.  My point is that some things in business can be easily measured and we should take advantage of that data.  Others are more difficult to measure and trying to shoe-horn a one-size-fits-all solution to all problems can be problem in itself.  Some things are best measured with experience.

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Do you ever come to the conclusion that Project Management is not taken serious in the corporate IT world? I see many IT projects that have PM’s assigned, but they are not trained as Project Managers, nor do they have a background in project management. In these cases, they are usually Development Managers or Business Analysts who are given the responsibility of managing a project. It’s almost treated like project management and staff management are the same skillset. I don’t blame these managers. They usually have full time jobs andpmjuggle1 are expected to manage the project (or projects) off the side of their desks. It’s somewhat demeaning to the profession. It’s like an unwritten fact that Project Management is not difficult. From what I have seen, they do not aspire to be PM’s, or even want to learn how. I suppose someone has to do it and there are no PM’s on staff in the group, so the Dev Manager is elected. I think it comes down to the culture of most companies not truly understanding the value of a good Project Manager. PM’s are not just note takers, paper pushers, or administrators. In fact, a good PM can make the difference in a project being successful or not. As an industry, IT is still pretty new and could take some lessons from the construction industry. I have heard the argument about whether project management is a skillset or a profession. I think it is both. The professionals who take it seriously and truly learn the craft often become invaluable. The ones who just do it because they are told to, will get by I suppose.

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