Tag Archives: management philosophy

Get in the Mood: Creating a Manager’s Inspiration Board

radiant quote 2

I’ve always loved inspiration boards.  As a teenager, I covered my bedroom walls with layers of Benetton ads and poignant hair-band lyrics.  (Just like every night has its dawn…every rose has its thorn.)

These days, my inspirations have changed but I still like to look up from a tough problem, or lean back after a difficult call, and see the things that inspire me…as a manager, as a writer and as a mom.

Ann Friedman suggests that our teenage bedroom and locker decorating has evolved into the current popularity of Pinterest and Tumblr.  And while I like those mediums, I’m inherently more tactile.  And lazy.  I need my inspirations to be accessible without requiring the foresight to open my web browser.  So I recommend having the things that inspire you as a manager on an actual board (or cube wall or clipboard or whatever you’ve got).

With all that in mind, here are some ideas for creating a Manager’s Inspiration Board.

Inspiring or motivational quotes – The one above from John Butler Yeats is a favorite reminder to myself to keep finding new challenges.

Your dream workspace – Designers use mood boards to capture the atmosphere or feeling they want to create in a new space.  You can do this, too, with clippings, fabrics and color swatches.

Elements of your management philosophy – What management truths do you hold to be self-evident?

Your personal, and/or your company’s, mission statement – Ideally, these two things are in harmonious synergy.

Symbols of why your job matters to you – Maybe this is a picture of the people you serve.   Or your smiling team after a productive retreat.   Or your kids.

Ideas to revisit – Include a place to capture all your brilliant, but not really applicable at the moment, ideas.

 

How about you?  What things are on your inspiration board?

 

Advertisements

A manager’s 5×5 for employee engagement.

FiveToday I’m taking inspiration from a recent post on
The Altucher Confidential“The 5×5 Trick To Make Life Better”.

In this moving post, James Altucher explains how he keeps himself from being overpowered by regret and worry.  He takes off on the idea that we are all the average of the 5 people around us, then adds that he is also the average of the 5 things that inspire him, the 5 things he thinks about most, the 5 things he “eats” (mentally & physically) and the 5 ways he can help people each day.

While Altucher takes a personal spin, I want to explore this from the perspective of a manager.

Here’s a scary reality: unhappy, disengaged workers outnumber happy ones worldwide.  The majority of workers are not engaged; they “sleepwalk through their days, putting little energy into their work”.  And the factors that go into engagement?  Most, if not all, are related to the employee/manager relationship.  Whether you like it or not, as a manager, you control the worker experience.

So, back to Altucher’s 5×5 idea.  How can we use this to keep our teams more engaged?

5 People – 
This is probably the size of most of our workgroups.  Is everyone on your team contributing and adding real value?  Think about the old “one bad apple” adage.  Is there someone dragging the others down?  And look at yourself with a critical eye here as well.  You’re one of your team’s 5, right?

5 Things That Inspire –  Look around your workspace, the place where you spend the bulk of your day.  Are there 5 things in it/about it that inspire you?  If you’re not inspired, can you expect your team to be?  Encourage your employees to find their own inspiration.  Ask them to display and share it.  Remember show-and-tell from grade school?  Bring that idea to a meeting and open with what inspires each team member.

5 Thoughts – Can you articulate your organization’s core values?  They should be top-of-mind and driving your team’s behavior.  Adding value, working smarter, being passionate, having fun, showing gratitude.  These are the type of thoughts that keep your team engaged.  I come back to this quote from Lao Tzu:

“Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habit.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”

5 Things You Eat  Yes, you should encourage healthy habits, like eating right, by insuring your team has the time and freedom to take care of themselves physically.  Too many long hours, too few breaks, eating at their desk – these all take a toll on job satisfaction.  But let’s focus on mental intake.  What data streams are feeding your team?  Think about forms of feedback you give, positive and negative.  Are you providing creative input?  Encourage engagement with other departments, disciplines, and industries.  Allow your team to bring fresh ideas to the table.

5 Ways You Help This is your highest priority as a manager.  Are you available to help your team on a daily basis?  Are you engaged with their careers?  Do you know their long-term goals and their project interests?  Are you a mentor?  None of this is easy, particularly if you’re a working manager with a full task list.  But helping your team members grow can be the most rewarding part of management.

 

What do you think?  Does the 5×5 idea ring true for you as a manager?

 

(Photo credit: Microsoft)

 

Finding meaning…wherever you are.

Seedling by Ray_from_LA

Graduating with a degree in Anthropology, I never pictured myself working in the private sector, and definitely not in manufacturing.

But life happens, and I found myself in the business world.  And for a long time I struggled with finding meaning in my work.

What’s the point, I thought?

Why am I working so hard at something so mundane?  How is this benefiting the world?

What saved me was realizing that my work as a manager made an impact every day.  Maybe I wasn’t going to change the world by making digital projectors or truck parts, but I could change how the people in my charge felt about their work.  I could change how they spent their time, how they engaged with each other, and how successful they were in their careers.

I realized my job was about helping people.

Yes, I had operational goals as well, but the beauty of well-rounded, motivated employees is that they have a practical value: they perform better.  A positive work experience that helps individuals achieve their personal goals benefits the organization as well.

So when you’re looking for meaning, struggling with the “why am I here?” question, try this:

Refocus on your team.

How can you help them grow their skills, or meet their personal or professional goals?  Is there an outside project someone is meaning to pursue?  Perhaps you can help them through networking, planning, or encouragement.

Think about how you can better meet their needs and maybe you’ll meet more of yours in the process.

 

You might also like:

Yes, and…(Opening the door to creative possibilities.)

 

(Photo by Ray_from_LA via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons)

 

Are you meeting your team’s needs?

Sometimes improving team performance requires getting back to basics. Remember Maslow’s hierarchy from psychology class? Maslow proposed that humans have five categories of needs, and the most basic of these (physiology & safety) must be met in order for an individual to achieve their higher level needs (belongingness, esteem, & self-actualization). Basically, if we don’t have food and water, we’re not worrying about fulfilling our creative potential. Reality isn’t that simple, obviously, but the concept provides a good starting point for understanding individual motivation within an organizational context.

Maslow

It’s common for managers to jump to the upper levels of the hierarchy and focus their efforts on things like team building, recognition, and professional development. And these are great strategies. But it’s important to remember that an individual’s lower level needs must be met as well. You may have little control over some base factors, like your company’s wage structure or retirement plan, but you can greatly influence your team’s work environment and their sense of stability.

Like food and water, employees need adequate resources and equipment to do their jobs. Eliminating outdated technology, convoluted processes and unbalanced workload goes a long way toward improving individual motivation. As a leader, you can also create a safe, non-threatening environment by curtailing inappropriate email or other unprofessional team behavior that may leave individuals feeling uncomfortable.

To insure a sense of security, your management policies should be clear, consistent and objective. Arbitrary decisions, conflicting priorities and mixed messages all undermine team stability. Sharing information also helps your team understand the context of their work and what to expect from both you and the organization. Providing details of organizational strategy and impending changes (where appropriate) will help your team feel more secure in their positions.

You might also consider using Maslow’s hierarchy as a starting point when crafting your management philosophy statement.