Category Archives: Management

“Am I Management Material?”

Leadership-TraitsYou’ve been in the same position for years… not that it bothers you since you love the organization you work for, but you are beginning to naturally yearn for more challenge and responsibility. As you begin to look up the career ladder to plan out your next vertical promotion, you must first ask yourself: Am I management material?

This should not be an easy question to answer immediately; however Aaron Hurst, CEO of Imperative and author of The Purpose Economy, offers these questions to consider when trying to determine if you’re ready to make the leap into management: How does my boss define management, and how could promoting YOU better serve the organization’s needs?

Some bosses won’t explicitly list the traits he or she is looking for in a future manager, some haven’t even thought about it…so what can you do? First, you should determine your boss’s working definition of “management material” by observing what your organization looks for in a manager based off its hiring history and company climate. Hurst offers these questions to start your search:

·      Who have they promoted in the past and who has been passed over?

·      How do they seem to make decisions about promotions relative to other managers in the organization?

·      Do they promote, as they should, to balance their skills and capacity? What do they perceive as their skills and capacity gaps?

·      What threatens them and their security in their role? What would threaten them and make them biased in a promotion decision?

·      How can your promotion help them get promoted? What do they need to do to get promoted and how could you be part of that solution?

·      What parts of their job do they dislike that you could do? How could your promotion increase their job satisfaction?

·      What are you doing now that your boss values and might be afraid they would lose if you moved into management? How could you backfill your work?

The next step? Be honest with yourself.  Are you the right person for the situation? You could fit the definition of “management material” to a T, but might not ideal for the particular organizational challenges. Also ask yourself: Would I make effective leader in this position?  There’s a big difference between managers and leaders.

By incorporating this logical assessment of yourself and your organization, you can get a better idea if management could be the next step in your career path. Just ask yourself the right questions!

self-assessmentAdapted from “Am I Management Material?”


Conscious Capitalism: Finding Your Higher Purpose

A special thank you to Tim Tucker, co-owner of Express Employment Professionals ( for the great following submission!

For some time now, businesses have been gaining a bad reputation. Ideas like capitalism, profits, wealth, and entrepreneurship once inspired and garnered praise, but now they are increasingly being vilified. There are many reasons for this, some justified and some not, and the reality is that some blame lies on both sides of this argument. But, as business owners, it is within your power to help change this image and show that at least your business has a conscience.

In the recently released book “Conscious Capitalism,” authors John Mackey of Whole Foods Market and professor Raj Sisodia “argue for the inherent good of both business and capitalism.” They propose that “entrepreneurs are the true heroes in a free-enterprise economy, driving progress in companies, society and the world.” To support this, they present four specific principles that companies should follow to not only communicate this reality to the world, but also grow their organization. The first principle to consider is to find your higher purpose.

Make a Difference:
Forbes defined the process of finding your company’s higher purpose as uncovering the difference it is trying to make in the world. This is something the most profitable and highest esteemed companies have in common – they all know their purpose. Disney exists to use our imaginations to bring happiness to millions. 3M is in the business of improving every company, every home, every life. The American Red Cross is daily enabling Americans to perform extraordinary acts in the face of emergencies. Do you know what your business purpose is?

Create Value:
Mackey and Sisodia believe that “business has a much broader positive impact on the world when it is based on a higher purpose that goes beyond generating profits and creating shareholder value.” Psychology has shown that it’s vital for individuals to find purpose and meaning in their lives. And it’s just as important to the business itself. Finding a higher purpose for your organization is all about creating value, an idea that is all too often confined to just marketing or advertising. Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, explains their stores “are our canvas upon which we can paint our deeper purpose of bringing whole foods and greater health to the world.”

Discover Your Business’ Purpose:
Defining the value that your company brings to the world is a step that some owners naturally do during the strategic planning part of the start-up process, but sometimes that purpose can get lost. For other business owners, this is something they never even consider. But it’s not too late. You can uncover your company’s ultimate purpose by asking and honestly answering some questions:

• “Why do we exist?”
• “Why do we need to exist?”
• “Why is the world better because we’re here?”
• “Would we be missed if we ceased to exist?”
• “What core values animate the enterprise and unite all of our stakeholders?”iStock_000011979035XSmall

As you uncover your business’ purpose, it’s important that you don’t negate growing your company or being profitable. Mackey and Sisodia believe that profitability is best achieved by not making it the primary goal of the business. After all, you can’t fulfill your higher purpose of fueling growth and progress within your community if you don’t generate profits. As a business owner, you have the unique opportunity to run an organization that serves a higher purpose and to change peoples’ lives for the better, which will ultimately prove that businesses have a conscience, too.

3 Sure Signs of Effective Leadership

Everyone has their own opinions of what characteristics make up a good leader.

From well-spoken and patient to charismatic and forceful, the list of qualities

can run the gamut. But, sure-tell signs of effective leaders aren’t in their traits,

but in their results. As you look within your own company and try to gauge the

effectiveness of your own leadership, or the leadership of others, look for these

three indicators.

Consistent Growth

True leaders know they are neither perfect nor omniscient. They are always looking

for ways to be better and never veer from the path of self-improvement. One of

the best signs of a good leader is a slight spirit of discontent. You have to be able

to recognize that you are better today than you were a year ago, but still focus on

becoming even better a year from now. And, growth can never take a backseat to

your busyness. In the book Great Leaders Grow, by Mark Miller and Ken Blanchard,

they point out that, “If you get too busy with your job to grow, your influence and

your leadership will stagnate and ultimately evaporate.”

Continual Success

If the proof is in the pudding, then a good leader’s team will achieve success again

and again. This is true in the business world and on the football field. Take Terry

Bradshaw, former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback who led his team to multiple

Super Bowl victories, for example. You could not be an ineffective leader and

still lead your team to win four Super Bowl titles. A poor leader might have a few

victories, but continual success is the result of good leadership. A recent Forbes

article echoes this assertion with its statement, “The result of good leadership is

high morale, good employee retention, and sustainable long-term success.”

Contagious Spirit

Another quick way to determine the quality of someone’s leadership is to look

at their teammates, co-workers, or employees. Are they excited about what they

do? Are they stepping up and taking on leadership roles of their own? A leader’s

power doesn’t just rest in his or her ability to do a task well, whether it’s throwing

a football or running a business. The real power lies in their ability to inspire

greatness in their team. You are not a true leader if you simply inspire fear or

mediocrity. Good leadership begets good leadership.

Many people proclaim themselves to be good leaders. After all, no one wants to

be told that they’re a bad or ineffective leader. But, good leadership is proven

through results, not words. If you really want to gauge the effectiveness of your

own leadership, consider your growth, your team’s success, and your teammate’s

attitudes. Those three elements will tell you what you need to know.

Proactive Crisis Management

You find out that a video has been uploaded to YouTube that refutes your product. What do you do next? Where do you start?

No matter how much effort you put into increasing your brand perception, incidents may occur that challenge your business’s product or service.

An example of such a media crisis occurred in 2004, when a BIC Pen brought the company, Kryptonite Locks, to its knees. A video of a BIC Pen breaking a Kryptonite lock went viral after its update to the site YouTube.  Kryptonite Locks didn’t respond publicly on social media networks until a week after the original YouTube post was published. A week equals eternity on social media. Thus, it isn’t surprising that critcis bombarded the company. Kryptonite Locks could’ve lessened the blow of the incident if it had a social media disaster plan in place, and acknowledged the situation sooner.

Nowadays, social media allows issues to become viral. So why wait until after a crisis occurs to take action?

Think proactively and plan for a crisis before the incident occurs.

The first step of instituting a disaster plan is ongoing monitoring and tracking of the sentiments of customers and stakeholders. Listening long before a situation escalates may help avert the crisis from even staring or spiraling out of control. If Kryptonite Locks monitored its social media network, the company could’ve acknowledged the negative sentiment and decreased the media attention.

Possible software and tools a business may want to utilize to monitore its social media platforms are: Klout, Peer Index, Alltop, Ad Age Power150, and Twitalyzer

Additionally, institute strategies for different channels that may cause the crisis. Anticipate situations that may occur, and know where the occurrence is covered in the company policy. Actions cause reactions, which in turn cause another action. Therefore, you must have a system in place to keep actions and reactions positive and moving toward a resolution.

When making a social media crisis plan:

  1. List all of the brand’s communication channels
  2. Pre-craft unique messages for each channel
  3. Then decide what messages are appropriate for certain situations and what channels would be better to use

Although planning for all possibilities may be taxing, it will prove worthwhile in the end. 

Adapted from “Social media and public relations: Eight new practices for the professional” by D Breakenridge


Manage your multiple roles

With the holiday season among us, I believe it’s beneficial to highlight the importance of balancing family and work.  No single formula exists for gaining balance. It is a personal decision how one will integrate family, friends and work into a whole. The holiday season makes this balance even more of a challenge.  Equilibrium will help reduce stress, and allow you to lead a fulfilling life both professionally and personally.  This holiday season make a goal to develop a solution to manage the responsibilities and joys of your multiple roles.

In a study done by Oklahoma State University, the number one strategy to balancing work and family is to identify and build a support group. Allow yourself to ask others for help. Be realistic, you can’t take on all of the chores at home and assignments at work. Recruit friends, family and work colleagues to lessen your load.

Balancing work and family requires flexibility. With kids things can change at a moment notice. Therefore, forgive yourself when things don’t get done on schedule. Learn how to negotiate. For example, if you have to give up an original goal, substitute with an equal but new challenge.  A part of being flexible is organization. If you’re organized, then substituting a new goal for another will be simple with lists of priorities to lead you to your next task.  Setting priorities will allow you to work smarter, not harder.

Being a good parent, partner and professional means setting time aside for yourself. Taking some time to relax will relieve tension and stress, which will allow you to be more diligent at work and home. Working and keeping a home running smoothly takes persistence and effort. Take a few moments to make some affirmations for yourself.

The holiday season is a time to enjoy your multiple roles as a parent, partner and even as a professional. Come up with creative solutions which work best for you and enjoy the holidays!

Adapted from, “The Top 10 Tips for Balancing Work and Family Life”

Killer Meetings

Have you ever calculated how much money is being wasted by the dozenth pointless meeting this month? Or do you get the impression that the moment you turn on the projector the entire room tunes out?

Meetings dominate the business life in America today. The National Statistic Council states that 37 percent of employee time is spent in meetings. According to other data there are 11 million business meetings every day. Bad meetings are not just dreadful, but a waste of valuable time.

Making meetings better is not just solved by ordering lunch and coffee.  Productive meetings require a plan of action, employee engagement, and on target communication.

First off, if the transfer of info is one way then don’t meet.  Status reports and business updates can be sent over email easier than setting up a meeting for the entire staff. Before the meeting, send an email out with details of the meeting’s objectives and the agenda.  Additionally, paste the agenda on the email otherwise no one will open the attachment and they’ll all come unprepared. Sending out an email beforehand also allows the naysayers to make objectives in advance, so the meeting will take less time.  Distribute the agenda at the meeting, as well as email, so everyone can keep on target.

Increase the involvement of the meeting by assigning everyone a role or assignment. Roles such as timekeeper, note taker, and whiteboard handler will help engage coworkers that might otherwise be daydreaming or surfing the Internet. Also, assigning roles can take some pressure off of you and allow the meeting to run smoother.  Another method to involve coworkers is to assign groups to explore an issue in their area and prepare ideas and solutions for discussion. This will allow the group to engage by solving problems together.

Show your colleagues that you respect their time by always starting and ending on time. The agenda can assist with ending on time by keeping you on track. In addition, make all members of the meeting feel heard. This can be accomplished by making eye contact with everyone and keeping track of every idea.  Finally, end with a plan. Everyone should know what is expected of them and when. End the meeting by receiving input and asking members if they thought the meeting was beneficial, and what can be done better next time.

Adapted from, CBS Money Watch, How to Run an Effective Meeting,


Ethical Conduct in the Workplace

I begin my third year at Indiana University, I’ve become accustomed to my professors stating guidelines for ethical conduct in the syllabi they issue the first class. Such guidelines include class conduct, professionalism, and forms of plagiarism. Although most students already have some awareness of what common class conduct entails and to avoid all forms of plagiarism infraction, I for one welcome the refresher. This refresher on ethical conduct led me to question how ethical conduct is established in the workplace.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines ethics as: a set of moral principles: a theory or system of moral values.

I highly doubt, every few months, a firm issues its staff a guideline pertaining to business ethics. So how does a business institute ethical conduct and continue to maintain and build from the guidelines? To figure out how to enact ethical practices in a business, I looked over a presentation Kirk O. Hanson, executive director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, recently gave.

Hanson built his ethical business presentation on a model he devised in 1984 and has continually revised this model over the years. Although there are many elements to this model I’ve picked out a few key practices which I believe best address the important dimensions of managing ethics.

Those essentials include:

Value Statement – A firm’s value statement must be related to the firm’s decisions and actions. The statement cannot illuminate upon practices and values which the firm does not uphold, it must mirror current practices. The statement must not just be “fluff” but share the company’s aspirations with their public. Additionally, a value statement should not just be a declaration of a company’s goal to their audiences but also to the staff. The statement must connect with the staff and act as a “guiding principle.”

Code of Conduct- An ideal code of conduct applies to all employees and doesn’t capture last year’s incidents Hanson detailed.  All employees should be able to interpret the code and explicate any questions regarding certain elements. A code of conduct may go wrong if it details specific incidents which the business didn’t have authorization to handle, such as dealing with specific reimbursements and use of computers.

Training and Communication- Best ethical practice are continually reinforced not only to new hires, but also on a regular basis to all employees. Trainers and executives must not just lip service the values or training may come up short. Constant communication of values is a fragment of good ethical practices.

Renewal Process- Top companies such as Johnson & Johnson continually re-evaluate their value statements and codes of conduct on a regular basis. Revising values and conducts periodically maintains freshness of the message and employees engaged in the new message. Hansen explained every three years evaluating and producing new conducts and standards is ideal for a company. This renewal step is a basic component for the model because it allows a company to re-educate its employees consistently on guidelines and build upon their past practices.

For Hanson’s entire ethics model go to:

Adapted from “Toward an Ethical Culture: Characteristics of an Ethical Organization”, by Anne Federwisch

Are Millennials a Drawback or an Advantage?

Businesses are continually adapting to new technology. So, why not adapt to new generations of workers?

However, before I go into further deliberation on this question, I’ll provide brief descriptions on the generational workers one may find in the workplace today.

Millennials: Adults under 30 in the year 2011. Notable characteristics include goal oriented and proficient at multi-tasking.

Generation X: Age 30 to 50. They’re distinguished by their self-reliance and their concern for workplace rights and work skills.

Baby Boomers:  Age 51to 68. This age group is predominantly characterized in the workplace as workaholics and they view that employment is for life.

As I continue with my college education, my professors frequently express that finding a job following graduation will be challenging.  My job search will not only be difficult because of the current state of the economy, but also because I am of the generation of workers referred to as Millennials.  Millennials present new challenges to companies because of their key differences that differentiate them from senior employees classified as Generation X and Baby Boomers.  While I tried to deny that the studies my professors referred to only stereotype my generation, I admit my inclination was I encompass many of the characteristics detailed in the studies.

Soon, Millennials will comprise the majority of in the workforce and therefore businesses will have to accept the inevitable differences between generations, understand why they arise, and how to use them to their advantage.

Therefore, it only seems fitting, to detail the key characteristics of the immerging Millenials workforce and how businesses can adapt to these new generational workers.

Set up benchmarks. Millennials are inherent planners and therefore want an employer to take an interest in their future. Millennials have had much more time to practice time management and adhering to a schedule compared to Baby Boomers and Generation X.  Setting up benchmarks will allow you to gauge your employees’ accomplishments and progress while simultaneously helping them plan their future.

Provide guidance. Millenials want direction and like feedback. When assigning Millennials tasks, they prefer short-term, specific activities which provide them with direction so they can gage when they’re off track. Employers can use this to their advantage in prioritizing objectives to accomplish.

Offer hands-on-guidance. Millennials, unlike Boomers, trust authority figures and look towards them for guidance in the workplace. Although, employers may see this as a misuse of valuable time, smart employers will realize Millennials need for direction helps minimize errors.

Encourage informal socializing.  Millennails love to stay connected with a large group of people. They want constant interaction and collaboration with their bosses and co-workers. This may seem as a dilemma to employers who associate socializing with unproductivity. However, top-rated employers such a Google encourage informal socializing amongst the staff.

Emphasize positive impact. Millennials want to contribute to causes they see as ethically and socially important.  They want to feel connection with the community and want that connection to be reflected of their place of work. Employers can encourage Millennials to arrange innovative philanthropic events that can help broaden the face of the business within the community.

Incorporate advanced technology.  Young adults are always ‘wired’. Therefore; it’s not hard to guess that Millennials like to work for a business which uses cutting-edge technology. They value technology because it allows them to stay connected with their colleagues.  Employers need to integrate technology into their daily business operations not just to stay ahead of competitors but to gain bright new workers.

Adapted from “Why Generations Matter,” by LifeCourse Associates,


Why Criticism is Always Constructive

Criticism is a necessary evil—hard to accept, but ultimately beneficial. The true problem with critical comments stems from the motivation that lies behind them, and this issue often manifests in the delivery of the remarks. Competition in the workplace can significantly contribute to negative feelings between co-workers and give rise to critical attacks. The most successful leaders are those who can hear the unkind words, determine what can be learned from them, and continue to move forward without letting emotions cloud their judgment or affect their performance. A positive spin can be put on even some of the most hurtful statements. These instances should always be treated as learning experiences. You’re learning something, no matter if it’s merely to guard yourself from the verbal attacks of particular peers or if it’s to better proofread the emails you send out.

Keep these tactics in mind when scathing remarks are thrown your way:

1.    Don’t overreact. Try to remain calm, and remember to control your anger. Fighting back will only worsen the already unfortunate situation. Any unprofessional responses should be saved for an appropriate time or place, behind closed doors. Don’t forget that there is no room for a personal problem in a professional environment.

2.    Seek an impartial opinion. Confide in a close friend or loved one who is far removed from the situation. You may find difficulty in determining what you can learn from a particular encounter because of your emotional investment. An unbiased confidant will be willing and able to pick out the potential positive aspects and offer advice on how to proceed.

3.    Remain focused on your ultimate goal. Remember that you and your peers are working for the same company. Your short-term initiatives should be complementary, and your long-term objectives should be highly similar, if not exactly the same. Personal conflicts must always be put aside, not only for the betterment of the company, but also for the advancement of your career.

4.    Keep a positive attitude. You’re learning. You’re moving forward. You’re succeeding. These are all good things. Don’t let a string of negative remarks distract you from your work. If your critics see that their words can’t affect you, the verbal attacks will lose their appeal.

5.    Evaluate yourself. Be aware of your strengths and your weaknesses. Capitalize on the assets, and work diligently to minimize the shortcomings. If you’re already conscious of your faults, statements of criticism will have a much lesser impact.

While it’s important to shield yourself from the negative effects of criticism, you must remain open to the learning experiences such an opportunity may present. Even though the disapproval may prove difficult to accept, the benefits that can ultimately be gained will be long-lasting and significant.

Adapted from “How to Deal With Really Tough Criticism: Five Steps,” Christine M. Riordan,

Busy Work: The Ultimate Illusion

At some point or another, whether during our education or career, we’ve all undoubtedly come across someone in a position of leadership who is insistent upon the merits of busy work. Professors who dole out countless assignments and superiors who readily make long strings of demands both fall into this unfortunate category. What many fail to accept is that this busy work does not amount to much progress.

A mentor once told me to “work smart, not hard,” and I initially pushed the thought aside in order to do just what he was cautioning me to avoid. It seemed like such an obvious and simple concept that I automatically assumed I was already applying it to my work. It wasn’t until that night as I was mulling over the happenings of my day before bed that I finally came to a realization:  I wasn’t as “smart” as I had previously thought. I had spent my day working through tasks that could have been more easily completed by someone else. It will forever be a struggle of mine to delegate tasks to others and to further prioritize those that I am best suited to complete.

Taking on too much at once creates a sense of what John Kotter, chief innovation officer of Kotter International, calls “false urgency” in a contribution to Forbes’ website. This illusion of a critical situation is essentially a response to the stress created by an overwhelming amount of work looming in the future. We must learn to recognize legitimate urgency for what it truly is and to adjust accordingly. Too much activity is a breeding ground for anxiety, which can only lead to more substantial problems.

Some keys to working smart include:

1. Prioritize – Keep a complete list of tasks that you must complete. Even keeping track of the smallest duties can help you effectively plan your day. Try using word processing software or to-do list applications so you can easily delete and reorder items, and arrange these items in reverse order of due date. Especially crucial tasks should be highlighted and possibly moved to the top of the list.

2. Delegate – It is often horribly difficult to pass work onto others. We can only completely trust ourselves to get the job done correctly, right? While this may be true, certain tasks must be prioritized and entrusted to the care of others for the sake of time. It’s okay to keep a watchful eye out at first, but try to build trust with peers. Learn their specific strengths and make assignments accordingly.

3. Organize – An effective presentation is one that is structured and streamlined. Basically, get to the main point quickly. The minds of busy colleagues are likely to wander should you include heaps of meaningless “fluff” in your argument. Time wasted on an unorganized mess with an unclear objective can be better spent on issues that truly matter.

4. Evaluate – Take the time to step back from your projects, and ask yourself, “Is this really necessary?” Are you making progress? Is your work truly accomplishing something beneficial? By eliminating things that are irrelevant or insignificant, you can find more time in your hectic schedule to devote to what really matters. Remember, it’s okay to take shortcuts as long as you don’t let the quality of your work suffer.

In summary, keep things simple. Work smart, not hard, and never lose focus on the ultimate goal.

Adapted from, “Why Busy Work Doesn’t Work,” John Kotter,