So, let me tell you about my day Dad…

daddy and daughterWeek 3: Rachel’s summer job in Manhattan where she’s interning in a Human Resources Department.  She’s been coming home and thematically asking this line of questions:

How’d your day go Dad?”  (For 19 years, I’d come dragging through the front door at the end of a long day. She’d be lying on the couch watching continuous loops of reality TV.  Not a peep from her on how my day went.  Now she’s asking.  Hmmmm. Until you walked a mile in a man’s shoes…) 

Let me tell you about my day Dad.”  (She proceeds to jabber on and on and on about her day…giddy almost…youthful exuberance.  Anxious. Yet excited.  Learning.  Being stretched into new territory.  Unsure footing.  No worries Honey.  It will come.  It will surely come…) 

Dad, did you read about the Greek vote in the Wall Street Journal?”  (Read what, where? Rachel reading a newspaper?  The WSJ?  I’m getting woozy.)

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Go deep, not wide…

The highly regarded GE management philosophy is on the move and this is worth noting for employers and employees alike…

Wall Street Journal:

The New GE Way: Go Deep, Not Wide

…GE is opening a new chapter in management philosophy…the conglomerate that once groomed jack-of-all-trades generalists is now betting on deep industry experts instead

…In break with old paradigm, GE’s top managers relocate less and concentrate expertise in their field…rather than purposely relocate it’s senior leaders every few years to expose them to more of the company, GE now is leaving them in their business units longer than it used to, in hopes of their deeper understanding of products and customers will help them win sales

…competition is fiercer

…the world is so complex…we need people who are pretty deep…

…we were moving people every two years so it was musical chairs and the joke was you could parachute into a business that was on an upswing and get all the credit…the new philosophy strives to promote accountability so executives can see a business cycle through

…strategy is to recruit talent with deep customer relationships and expertise in the field.  Employees need depth to be able to listen effectively and translate the needs to new technology…

…customers won’t tell us exactly what they want…if you are very generic, if you don’t have that domain understanding, you will develop products that will be average and not very successful…

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Why you will fail to have a great career…

Larry Smith is a professor of economics at University of Waterloo. He coaches his students to find the careers that they will truly love. The most notable start-up he advised in its infancy is Research in Motion (RIM), maker of the BlackBerry. (No commentary please from the audience on how his advise is working for RIM now…Smile)

While I didn’t find any earthshattering revelations here, I did find Smith to be an engaging and inspirational storyteller in his presentation of the excuses we invent in failing to pursue our passions – – excuses including:

  • “There are no more great jobs, all the good jobs are disappearing”
  • “Great careers are a matter of luck”
  • “People who have great careers are geniuses, special one-of-kind”
  • “In 1950’s, competency would land you a good job. Today, not so much given how competitive it is…”
  • “I would do this (pursue my passion) but I’m not weird or obsessive…there is a fine line between great, weird and madness…and this is why normal people don’t have great careers”
  • “If you work hard, you can have a good career. But you need to work really really hard to have a great career and you are not prepared to sacrifice _____ (family, children, friends, etc.)
  • “I value my relationships more than my accomplishments. I will not sacrifice them in pursuit of my passion or a great career.”

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Strive For Results, Not The Accolades…

Source: NY Times – An Interview with John Donovan, Chief Technology Officer of AT&T

Great interview.  John Donovan certainly exemplifies the 7 mindsets of the most trusted professionals in this interview (See prior post: “Are You A Professional?”).  The article also did grab my attention early when he mentioned he was a former hockey player.  🙂  A few of my favorite excerpts below.

Q. What were some early leadership lessons for you?
A. “…if there’s a situation where someone else needs to lead, and it’s working, that is A-O.K. I don’t feel a burning need to be in charge, and I don’t feel that it’s a bad thing to follow when the right things are getting done. So in some respects, I don’t have the innate drive that certain people have about control and ownership and leadership.”

“…The first thing I noticed very quickly early on was that hard work is central to what you do, and that’s not any magic or science. I said, “Well, if I start today, and I outwork everybody, then the only question is the starting point.” So I figured that if I work really hard I can be in the top 5 percent in any field. It just gave me some comfort to say, O.K., I’m going to do fine financially, so I shouldn’t make decisions based on money. My objective should be to gain the broadest set of experiences I can, and just try to drill deep everywhere I can. And so I played the game for breadth. Early in my career, I bought businesses, fixed them and sold them. Some went well; some didn’t. I did some home development. I was in sales. I went back to business school. A lot of people work hard to get ahead, and I recognized early on that it’s a differentiator. I just figured that there was a certain amount of this that’s just raw tonnage.” [Read more…]

Here we go again…

We’re on the march again…the annual Rite to trash and/or discontinue performance reviews.  Check out the blaring headlines and the time line.  I’m confident if we go back pre-2006, we’d see similar sentiment.

After all of this haranguing, a mere 1% of all major companies have elected to scrap the process.  Employees need to get feedback.  And, I’m confident that nothing will get done in the absence of a formal process.  And this is before we introduce “litigation protection” into the discussion.

In his post this week, David Witt referenced a recent webinar survey where seminar participants where asked “Do you believe that you, as an employee benefited from your last review with your supervisor?”  Over 58% said “no”.  Three key components were then identified as making up a successful performance management system:

  1. Clear, agreed-upon goals.
  2. Consistent day-to-day coaching designed to help people succeed.
  3. No surprises at performance review.

“The core of their message was that it’s all about trust and respect.  Organizations that treat people as valued team members by taking the time to structure jobs their properly, provide direction and support as needed, and focus more on helping people succeed instead of evaluating them, are the ones that create engaging work cultures that bring out the best in people.”

I would also suggest that the tone of the review process needs to shift – – shift from the traditional “how can I fix your developmental areas” (code for weaknesses)  to a focus on “how your strengths have added value to the organization” and how these strengths can be further leveraged.  (Think Tanveer Naseer & Marcus Buckingham here.)

As to the drum beat of eliminating the performance review process, my view aligns with an HBR Blog post titled:  “Ditching Performance Reviews?  How About We Learn To Do Them Well?

Here’s my Do’s and Don’ts list:

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Career Planning in 60 Seconds


Source: Simon Kemp: Career planning in 60 seconds – a recreation of +Bud Caddell’s “How to be happy in business” diagram

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