Time – how to manage it better

March 30, 2011

Time. There is never enough of it to get to the bottom of our To Do Lists. No matter how many items that we take off the list, the more we seem to add. Peter Bregman writes about how to better manage those inevitable lists. Bregman talks about turning intention into an action what he calls “the power of when and where”.

By deciding the where and when we will do an item, we significantly increase the likelihood of accomplishing it.  “The reason we’re always left with unfinished items on our to-do lists is because those lists are the wrong tool to drive our accomplishments. A list is useful as a collection tool”.

However, a calendar is the ideal tool as it already  is the place where we decide where and when. Bregman believes that as it already guides our accomplishments. And given that we have limited time each day, this will force us to prioritise.  If you haven’t scheduled something, you can begin to question why you have it on your To List to begin with.

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Google’s Rules: How to be a Better Boss

March 15, 2011

The New York Times recently reported on a very interesting project at Google.  Project Oxygen was started internally to identify for Google what it takes to “build a better boss”.  By doing what Google is best at – data-mining – the company looked back over 10,000 employee interactions such as performance reviews and feedback surveys. The outcome was eight characteristics that Google employees admire most in bosses.

While the list may seem to state the obvious – empower your team, have a clear vision, help employee’s career development – what surprised Google most was that having a manager with key technical skills was ranked as the 8th and last leadership trait.  This was, to a certain extent, counter to the prevailing engineering bias in Google; “you need to be as deep or deeper a technical expert than the people who work for you”.

Going further with the data analytics, Google looked at the outcomes of managers and their impact on employees. With a starting point that the best managers have teams that perform better, are retained for longer and are overall happier, Google built these traits into their hiring process for new managers and their development processes for existing managers.  The outcomes were startling.  Google showed a statistically significant improvement in managerial quality for 75 percent of the worst-performing managers.

The trait identified by employees as the most important managerial behaviour: Be a Good Coach.


Empathy – walking in the other person’s shoes

March 10, 2011

Many problems can be solved but, somehow, they are not. Why is that we can look back at a situation and find a solution that we could not at the time?  Seth Godin believes that it is our failure to look through at world through someone else’s eyes – to empathise – that is a large cause of leadership ineffectiveness.

As soon as we begin to look at the problem from the other person’s perspective – and not through the lens of our prejudices, experiences and perceptions – quite often the problem takes on a different dimension.  And therein lies the beginning of a solution.  Seth states that “the reason might have nothing to do with the situation and everything to do with who is making the decision and what they bring to it”.

The next time you are confused by someone’s behaviours or actions (or inactions), consider the situation through their eyes before judging the reason.