Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Thumpability

Thumpability = the degree to which a document (or deck of slides in the olden days) thumps when dropped upon a conference table.

Although a high degree of thumpability does not necessarily equate to high quality, here are two new books that come highly recommended.

I was in a meeting yesterday with consultant Mal Conway where he showed us his new book, The Handbook of High Performance Virtual Teams. Logging in at 800 pages, this one has major thumpability!

Mal is one of over fifty contributing authors, along with Jessica Lipnack and Jeffrey Stamps.

Another new book with substance is Daniel R. Tobin's and Margaret Pettingell's The AMA Guide to Management Development.

I work with Dan and Peg at AMA so I'm favorably biased toward them. Having made that admission, the book is well worth acquiring if you are at all concerned about how to develop your managers and leaders.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, April 29, 2008

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Recognize connections with seemingly unconnected things

Do you think that you are the sort of person who can recognize connections with seemingly unconnected things?

Does that question have a faintly Monty-Pythonesque ring to it?

It actually comes from an Organization Development job ad that I came across the other day.

What do you think this employer is looking for? The rest of the ad gives a few clues; for example, having an understanding of Systems theory.

I've been a big fan of Systems Theory since my undergraduate days at Rutgers, studying Human Communication. My favorite visual image (I forget where I picked it up) of a system is the bathtub full of balloons. Press on one balloon over here, and several pop up over there.

Everything is connected to everything else. Even at a distance.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, April 26, 2008

Friday, April 25, 2008

Who Did You Help Today?

Via Bloglines, I came across an entry by Dave Truss where he suggests a simple question . . . that just might change the world.

Here's an excerpt:

"Every night when I put my kids to bed I ask them a question, What was your favorite part of the day? When I heard Mark Kielburger speak, I decided on a new question: “Who did you help today?” It is simple. It inspires empathy. It shows what we truly value… and I look forward to the day when my daughters' favorite part of the day is also the answer to Who did you help today?"

I wish I had thought of that question when my sons were little. Now they are in college. Maybe I'll try it on them anyway.

By coincidence, I have been stumbling across other blog entries about the questions we ask. For instance, in this one, Bob Sutton muses about something Karl Weick wrote:

"...people who are preoccupied with success ask the wrong question. They ask, “what is the secret of success?” when they should be asking, “what prevents me from learning here and now?” "

In another one, David Zinger muses on Peter Block and writes: "Are you asking the right questions to achieve higher or more significant levels of employee engagement. Too often we focus on the “how to” without fully considering what matters and why it matters."

Seems to me that there are some simply powerful questions that, if we used them, we could change many things for the better.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, April 25, 2008

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Engagement and Police Work

An interesting story about employee engagement and police work has just emerged from New Zealand.

It seems that the police engagement survey is saying that the police officers "feel over-worked, under-resourced, and don't have a great deal of trust in the organisation to treat them fairly."

Not a good situation.

My dad (who passed away in 2003) was a policeman. He was an "old school" cop, a Depression-era guy and a WW II veteran. He would probably have some strong opinions on the state of police work in today's world.

Last night, I attended a local Knights of Columbus awards program, where one of the awards given annually is named after my dad, the George Seamon Law Enforcement Person of the Year Award. The award was presented to veteran Policeman Cornelius "Neil" Maloney III.

Neil is a big guy, well over six feet tall, and probably more than 200 lbs. When he came up to accept the honor, he said a few words to the audience. What most impressed me was the depth of emotion that came out as he thanked his mentors, some of whom were sitting in the audience, "old guys" that my dad had worked with.

It reminded me of the many times I heard my dad talk about the mentors that taught him about police work when he was a rookie and later on as he was groomed for greater responsibility.

Every police officer goes to school, but what you may not realize is how each one you meet, from a traffic cop to a detective, is shaped by the cops that came before.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, April 24, 2008

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day

It's Earth Day today. I only know it because of my Google calendar. There has been zero hoopla in my town about this holiday, as far as I know.

As I walked to the train station this morning, I wondered why we aren't doing more to mark this day? Especially with the gas crisis raging right now as the price skyrockets out of sight. Why didn't we shut down for the day? No driving. No non-essential cars on the road whatsoever. Everyone that can possibly work from home should do so.

Oh well...

Walking past Lincoln School, my wife and I spotted some sidewalk poems, colorfully chalked by the fourth graders. Though the words were starting to disappear, we could make out some phrases about stopping the war, making peace, and saving the planet.

One said: "Take care of Mother Earth. She's all we got."

Posted by Terrence Seamon, April 22, 2008

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Give Your Employees an "A"

Orchestra conductor and leadership speaker Ben Zander asks, What would happen if you started by giving everyone an "A"?

Zander advances this idea in a great talk given at Davos about changing our world through leadership. A kind of leadership that is about possibilities. About abundance. About learning from mistakes. About childlike wonder. About openness.

Thanks to Jo for tipping me off about this video on Youtube. Commenting on one of Scott McArthur's posts, Jo writes: "I think we could rewrite . . . much of HR around the idea of "let's begin by giving everyone an A"."

I'd extend her comment and say, I think we could rewrite much of Management too. What would happen if Managers started by giving their employees an "A"?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, April 13, 2008

Monday, April 07, 2008

Can You Spell "Engage?"

Inspired by David Zinger's ABC's of Engagement Challenge, here is a little reminder for Managers of what it means to engage.

E = Everyone in the organization has value, hopes, and dreams.

N = "No" is a word that inhibits empowerment, creativity, and innovation.

G = Gifts, talents, strengths and ideas abound.

A = Appreciate the riches that you have.

G = Give kudos to your people as often as you can.

E = Express your heartfelt gratitude with a prayer of "thanks."

Posted by Terrence Seamon, April 7, 2008

Sunday, April 06, 2008

How to Engage Employees - Part 6

What does a high engagement workplace do differently from other places?

According to an article in the Kalamazoo Gazette, Gallup has just awarded its second annual Great Workplace Awards to Stryker Corp. and Borgess Health for "making employee engagement a way of life."

Here are some of the practices mentioned:

~ specialized training for managers on how to coach and foster engagement
~ communicating clear expectations to each employee
~ emphasis on seeking employees' ideas for innovation
~ training for employees
~ measuring and tracking engagement scores

No "rocket science" here, folks. Just plain "blocking and tackling" Management 101.

The lesson from this story: to foster a high engagement workplace, get back to the basics. . . and get good at them.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, April 6, 2008