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Showing posts from December, 2004
After Christmas

As I sit underneath the big inflatable moosehead that my son received for Christmas yesterday, I wonder if the spirit of Christmas will come this year?

A friend sent me the following meditation. It feels right for the day after Christmas:

When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and the princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost
To heal the broken
To feed the hungry
To release the prisoner
To rebuild nations
To bring peace among all
To make music in the heart

-- Howard Thurman


Crystal Clear

My grandfather, George T. Seamon, had a lot of flavorful expressions including "Clear as mud" to describe something that made no sense to him whatsoever.

I participate in several on-line discussion groups related to my field, workplace learning and organization development. Sometimes the discussions at these boards get quite heated. Recently there was a most interesting exchange about being clear in one's communication. One writer wrote: "Being absolutely crystal clear about the meaning of what we are saying, so that each person on the list attaches exactly the same meaning to what each of us is saying would lead to more powerful, intentional, authentic conversations."

Ah, if only we could be crystal clear in our communication with others. More often, our communication with others is "clear as mud."

Trouble is, meanings are not in words. Meanings are in people. This concept was developed by David Berlo.

If meanings were in words, a…
Group Interview

I had heard of group interviewing but had never experienced it personally . . . until the other night.

Without getting into specifics, the final fifteen candidates (who had all passed the phone screens) were all invited to a hotel in central New Jersey. When I arrived, I felt like I was at a conference as I signed in at a table in the hallway, wrote out my "Hello My Name Is..." sticker, and shook hands with the greeters. As all the other finalists arrived, there was a friendly hubbub as we socialized with one another.

At the appointed time, the facilitators invited us to take a seat and the program began. First, there was information about the Company and about the opening. Then each of us was invited to give a two minute talk about some accomplishment from our careers. After that, we had the opportunity to ask questions. Finally, the facilitators asked for feedback, thanked us for coming, told us what the next steps would be, and closed the session.

As…
most God-awfullest mismanagement ever

In the Star-Ledger newspaper, an economist for the New Jersey BPU said, "This was the most God-awfullest mismanagement of a company that I think we've ever seen in this state."

He was talking about my company, which was sold last week to another company.

The old regime is no more, gone with the winds of change. Like a bad memory, though, it lingers on.

The new owners rode into town last week. They came in hard, terminating most of the remaining managers, and putting their own people into leadership positions.

From a change management standpoint, it was probably an effective strategy. Take out all vestiges of the old. Destabilize the folks who remained. Start fresh.

Many years ago, the great Kurt Lewin developed a model of change that said you must first "unfreeze" the status quo. A sure method of unfreezing is the application of heat.

Spiritual Change Management

This is Advent, the time of year when Christians get ready for the great feast of Christmas. The time to prepare the way of the Lord.

John the Baptist was the first to proclaim Advent, to proclaim "prepare ye the way of the Lord." It is the time, he said, to repent.

Repent. A word that is seldom used in the 21st century. What does it mean to repent?

Literally, to repent is to turn away from, to change one's self (the Greek term metanoeo means "to change your mind").

To convert.

Spiritually speaking, whether Christian or not, the Advent season is sorely needed in this violence-filled world of ours. Every day, in many parts of th world, people turn to bombs, guns, landmines, and other weapons of death to influence, to attack, to retaliate, to redress.

If we continue in this way, we are headed for destruction.

The world (all of us) needs to repent, to convert, to turn away from violence.

Repentance means changing the mind, waking up, se…
Upward Feedback

In today's era of Sarbanes Oxley and corporate scandals, the performance of management in organizations is under the scrutiny of stakeholders like never before. And rightfully so. Management can really screw things up royally if we are not vigilant.

In that "we," there is a crucial but often unsung group: the workers in an organization. Seldom do the workers have a way to give voice to how management is doing. But in some progressive organizations, there is a mechanism called "upward feedback." Here's an experience of mine with the process.

By way of a brief background to set the context, I had joined a young telecommunications company, founded in 1984 when "Uncle Sam" broke up the phone company. This decision established the so-called "Baby Bells" which were regional local operating phone companies. In this new telecommunications landscape, new forms of local competition became possible. It was out of this opport…
Burning Down Libraries

A co-worker of mine calls it "burning down libraries" when highly knowledgeable and experienced workers are terminated.

The fires are burning at my company as we are being taken over by another company . . . and the terminations are underway.

Wednesday was Day One, a hard day for many. Seeing the firing of co-workers ---trusted colleagues, admired experts, and, in some cases, old friends--- is shocking, confusing, stressful, and depressing.

Hopefully, those who were terminated will use the outplacement service to develop plans, move ahead, identify opportunities, and land on their feet.

But what about those who are left to pick up the pieces and carry on? As a veteran of many organizational upheavals, I can say with confidence that there is Life after terminations. While it's hard to see the positive side, given the many emotions that swamp you at a time like this, it's there.

The main thing, as always, is Attitude.

On Management

In management, the ultimate measure of management's performance is the metric of management effectiveness, which includes:

Execution: how well management's plans were carried out by members of the organization

Leadership: how effectively management communicated and translated the vision and strategy of the organization to the members

Delegation: how well management gave assignments and communicated instructions to members of the organization

Return on investment: how well management utilized the resources (financial, physical, and human) of the organization to bring an acceptable return to shareholders

Given the importance of management roles within an organization, when the incumbents in such roles lack certain key competencies, havoc can be the result. Here are some common and potentially damaging shortfalls:

Poor communicator - The manager that has difficulty expressing himself can leave his subordinates confused.

Aloof - The manager that keeps to hers…