Friday, May 27, 2011

one thing I love...

Last week's rant on one thing I hate was good therapy for me. The incident that led to my blog produced several good results and I have to admit that I probably do my job a little better today than I was doing last week...mostly becasue I have had to think about what it means to manage in my area. So today, I think I will change course and write about one thing I love...

This past week I was able to spend time in Eagle Pass and San Antonio, making visits on friends of the University, renewing relationships and making new relationships. While I consider this an important part of my job (and something I need to be able to "manage"), I also consider it an opportunity and privilege to get to meet and hang out with "really cool people." Whenever I am asked about what I do, I always mention the "really cool people" I get to meet and hang out with. The "really cool people" I got to hang out with this week included a CFO of a Fortune 100 company, a State Farm insurance agent, a University of Texas Business School faculty member, and one of the top commercial real estate developers in Austin. The range of conversation was all over the place - yet they all had several things in common:

  • they each had a great story to tell

  • they each are passionate about what they do

  • they each are some of the best in their fields

  • they each are"people" people

  • they each have a passion for developing leaders

  • they each have a passion for leaders who see the world with a Christian worldview

  • they each believe in the mission of Concordia University Texas

  • they each see the world as a great place to engage (three cheers for rose-colored glasses!)

  • they each love to give back to others

  • they each can add value to me and to my institution

  • they each are people of faith

I love meeting and connecting with people. For some reason, I think I do this pretty well and it is a blessing for me to know that this is a part of my role and job responsibilities - and that I really love to do it. At the end of the day, if I have connected with one or two different people, I feel it has been a good day and I am energized to continue on in my calling and vocation. As I think about what makes me good at connecting with others, several thoughts come to my mind:

  • I'm genuinely interested in other people

  • I like to ask questions

  • I like to ask really rich questions

  • I know that there is much to learn from others

  • I like to hear other's stories, especially where they are inspirational

  • I think I have an empathetic nature

  • I know that I will take something from the conversation to apply to my work and organization

  • I know that people like to talk about themselves, and it gives me joy to see others have fun telling theri own stories

  • I adhere to the 70-30 rule: I listen 70% of the time and talk 30% of the time

  • I work hard to be totally present when i am with someone else

Now here's the rub - how do I balance my love for meeting with "really cool people" and my dispassionate nature around doing "really dull things"? A few thoughts:

  1. delegate, delegate, delegate the "really dull things" (because I know those same items are "really cool things" to others)

  2. set aside hours (days?) on my calendar to do the "really dull things" that only I can do

  3. take the "really dull things" and make them into projects that I consider to be awesome and fun and WOW!

  4. let my boss know of this dilemma and allow him to help me manage these two competing interests

  5. accept the fact that these two will be in competition for my time and learn to live with that tension

  6. decide now that when push comes to shoe, I will ALWAYS choose to meet with "really cool people" over doing "really dull things."

So what is one thing you hate...and one thing you love...and how are you balancing the two in your life?

Friday, May 20, 2011

one thing I hate...

The other day someone referred to me as a manager and reminded me that I needed to do a better job of managing a paticular process within my College. When I heard myself referred to as a manager, I realized that is something I hate. king works better for me. Here are a few reasons why I think I hate being referred to in that manner:

  • Managing is about planning, directing, controlling and organizing - do I REALLY want those words on my tombstone to describe the impact I had on the world?

  • Managing is about getting the job done right and on time - all very important functions, but again, do I really want those words on my tombstone? Don Christian: 1959 - ????: He got all of his paperwork done on time.

  • I have yet to find a book entitled "Managers who Changed the World" or "Great Managers of the Civil War."

  • When people say that they are managing, they are referring to getting by - I want to do more with my vocation (and my life) than just get by.

  • Managing the processs means getting the work done - while I always want to get the work done, what I want more is to get the next work started.

  • Managers who get promoted to leadership positions often fail due to The Peter Principle - the world does not need more people who lead by managing.

  • Managers get promoted because they do things right - I would rather be known for doing the right things.

  • Managers get promoted because they don't make mistakes - I would rather be failing more often because I have gone out on a limb to try something new.

  • Managers take great pride in a well designed process - I get more excited with a well-thought out project.

Perhaps in this discussion of my lack of "good management" my pride was more wounded than I thought it might be. As I reflected on this discussion, I realized that this ability to not manage well had little to do with my ability to manage - and more to do with outside factors that affected my ability to manage. So when managers (and leaders) begin to get frustrated at how others manage, consider the following factors:

  • is the lack of proper management an issue with the person or an issue with the process?

  • is the lack of proper management due to changes in other personnel or processes?

  • is the lack of proper management a time issue or a capacity issue?

  • have I fully explored with this person why they believe they are not managing the processs well?

  • if the lack of proper management is an issue with multiple people (i.e. many people making the same mistakes), look to the process before anything else

  • if the lack of proper management is a new issue in the organization, what has happened to cause this that might not have been happening in the past?

  • is the lack of proper management a training issue?

  • is the lack of proper management an attitude issue?

My advice is go and talk with the person who is not properly managing, explain the situation, explore ideas as to why this might be occuring, offer guidance to help solve the problem, and then give them time to fix it. And if this is a slight blip in their performance, realize that there are other ways to handle management issues. Burdening your best performers with management issues they do poorly and that take away their energy to lead (and manage other areas of their portfolio) wastes their time and yours. Sometimes the best way to manage those who fail to perform strongly in a certain area is to minimize their management of that issue. Not everyone does everything well - just becasue it is in the job description does not mean that a certain manager will be able to perform that particular task at a high level. What do you value - great management or great people? I know where I land on this topic...and I know what I hate about it also.