Archive for the HR Tag

How to Advance and Keep the Right People

Just asking the right questions and thinking the right set of qualifications is not going to get you anywhere if they are just words for you. The rub as to advancing (and holding) right people is that you are talking platitudes and only platitudes, unless you are willing to devote whatever time and travel are necessary to know which men measure up and which do not. Talking in your office about qualifications does not accomplish very much by itself. You must be willing to prove the degree of your interest, see what should be seen, and learn what needs to be learned at considerable sacrifice of comfort and leisure. If you’re not willing to do these things, it would be better not to mention at all your interest in advancing the right people.

And you have got to be willing to let your people show that they can do, too. If you are high enough in management so that your subordinates are themselves executives, you must be sure you give them chances to carry the ball and in effect be “the company” or “the department” on the projects they work on. Pace the way for them, back them up when they ask for cooperation and have trouble getting it, let them have the help of a research man, sales analyst, or production specialist, if that is important at all.

In your everyday observation of supervisors, the important benchmarks are leadership, courage, judgment of people, imagination, depth of interest, ability to get a job done, specialized knowledge and capabilities, general knowledge, integrity, general spirit and enthusiasm, and ability to decide.

The more you talk and travel and observe men at work, the more you may be impressed with a point that has greatly influenced many. The products your company makes, and its services, may change. Your markets may change. Management may change. Fads in management thinking, like “scientific management” and “statistical decision greatly”; some jobs may disappear completely.

But this is not true of everything in the promotion picture in deed; it is not true of one of the most important things. For as someone once said: “ Some things stay in style-kindness, acceptance of self and others, compassion ship, tolerance, sense of humor, the world at large-all by-products of the Christian community.” We all realize this. Why do we so often miss the boat?

Make Decisions that are Right, Not Popular

The Laboratory of Psychological Studies of the Stevens Institute of Technology has made a study of unsuccessful executives in over 200 companies. Inability to make decisions, the study showed, was a leading reason for the failure of the executives. Certainly this finding is borne out by the experience of practicing executives.

How can you improve your ability to make good decisions? It is not an easy job as we shall see. It is a more complex job than making decision in a laboratory or a classroom. It is far more than an intellectual exercise. It is complicated by subtle currents and cross-currents of human behavior and by many conflicts of feeling, both in the executive and his relations with associates. Mental ability, therefore, is only part of the boss’s needs. He must have a high amount of courage if he is to become a good decision-maker. Also he must learn how to make full use of hunches and intuition.

Beyond these basic requirements there are a number of specific, everyday steps and precautions that will help an executive improve the record of his decisions:

  • At the beginning of a new job, hold back a little before deciding to change things around. And even after you are sure that the old policy, method, or system is wrong, give yourself time before changing it. Failure to do so is one of the most common sources of trouble.
  • Watch the little decisions. They have a habit of turning into big decisions.
  • In analyzing problems, try to find the answer that will help sell the organization and its products and services-not the answer that will help sell you personally.
  • If possible, talk over your feelings and judgments with trusted friends from time to time.
  • Test different alternatives (including ones you do not like) against the facts and figures opn hand before reaching a final conclusion. Don’t settle too quickly on the apparent answer.
  • Where the stakes involved are sizable, try to allow a little extra time for making up your mind. It is surprising how often unexpected difficulties arise and complicate the time schedule.
  • To develop a better “feel” for management problems pick two or three questions and study them in depth. Thoroughly mastering a few problems will sharpen your sixth sense for many other situations.

Learn How to Deal with Resistance to Change

There is much talk and writing these days about resistance to change. This is an important topic in an age of fast0moving markets and technologies. However, the problem has not been analyzed correctly in many discussions.

The real pitfalls lie not in inability to master the technical aspects of new processes, nor in some inherent unwillingness to change one’s ways of doing things. Rather the pitfall lies in the field of human relations, especially in the manager’s relationships with the subordinates, his colleagues, and his boss. The more skillfully and sensitively he can handle these relationships, the more successfully he can manage change in his organization.

Some of the most effective ways of coping with apparent resistance to change are:

  • Accepting the men’s feelings as natural and human (this is helpful when for instance the resistance is to you as a new boss with a new pattern, and comes from people who are loyal to the old boss and his ways).
  • Looking to see if worker relationships on the job are being disturbed (helpful when a technical change upsets the way the operators on the job have been working with each other).
  • Being realistic about the time needed to make a change-over. (Helpful when new skills and work patterns must be learned).
  • Maintaining wide open lines of communication (especially important in keeping individuals and groups from getting too specialized and out of phase with he rest of the department).
  • Practicing a give and take attitude (helpful when the operator whose job is being changed has strong feelings of his own about what needs to be done).
  • Keeping the staff experts flexible in their views (helpful when the operators are irritated over too much interference by the specialists).
  • Developing increased self awareness (helpful when the man asked to change see the inconsistency between his actual behavior and the behavior he wants to achieve).

Make it a point, first, to understand the man’s concept or image of himself. If he’s a good manager in spirit, then you can help him by tactfully indicating that by doing this or that he’s not really meeting the standards of the new system. Don’t expect to accomplish much in one conversation, of course; you will probably have to work on him for some time.

But when you succeed you cannot only show better departmental results top your boss, but also you will have a happier, better adjusted supervisor working under you. One of the principle conditions of emotional health, psychiatrists report, is the feeling that we are developing in the general ways that are important to us.

Know the Secrets of Delegating Authority

Delegating authority is a tough job. And it gets tougher all the time as one’s responsibilities are increased and the stakes get larger. But it is also a rewarding job. It is rewarding not alone in financial returns but also in the feeling that one has contributed to releasing the creative potential in an associate.

In one situation, it became more and more evident that the manufacturing head of a division in a company was making all the decisions for each superintendent. This man had wide knowledge and many other qualifications for his positions, yet the plant management was not clicking. For endless months, it seemed, people tried to make clear to him that he would have no security with them until the men under him were given authority. But he was not able to change his habits. What accounted for his failure? It was not conceit; he did not have the illusion that “only I know what’s best”. His trouble was that he underestimated the ability of others. In this respect he was typical of so many other men who cannot delegate effectively.

This important principle should be borne in mind through the remainder of this article. No matter how many books you have read and courses you have taken, you don’t really know much about delegation unless you know how much other people can do given the right opportunities.

You Must Retain Accountability

Delegation means that you give another person authority to do certain job; but you stay accountable for what happens. You “stay with it”, so to speak. You keep on top of it, even though the other man is carrying out the work. Some good ways of doing this, singly or in combination, are the following:

  • Talk the job over with your subordinate before you ask him to go ahead.
  • Haven an understanding with him about the problems he reports back to you.
  • Develop with him a plan of work, a schedule of the main activities and tasks to be done.
  • Be on the scene enough to have a first-hand “feel” of what is going on and how things are moving.
  • Require progress reports from the men with assigned tasks.
  • Schedule conferences every so often to discuss work in progress and problems that have arisen.
  • Where the subordinates must work with people in other departments, arrange for the handling of disputes and other interdepartmental problems that may arise.
  • Finally, when things go wrong, do not delegate the unpleasant tasks of explaining to employees why they must be dismissed, retired, or passed over for promotion.

Fight for Your People and Your Ideas

Why is it important to fight for the men and women under your supervision, and how should you do it? How should you try and sell your ideas of management? In answering these questions we can draw on a wealth of practical experience, for a great many successful executives have won their promotions because they succeeded in both these aspects.

Develop Top-Down Loyalty

If you are going to take time in a busy day to fight for an assistance or subordinate, you need a sense of conviction that this is important. Here are some points to consider.

When you become a manager, you become responsible for the people who work for you. There is no higher responsibility than this in your business career. An employee who does a good job should feel that you will go to bat for him, if necessary, to get him a fair deal. He should feel that you are a good man to go to in any kind of trouble.

This responsibility is not so easy to assume as it may sound in writing because most of us get into the habit early in life of feeling responsible mainly to our parents, teachers and bosses. But when we become bosses we have to look both ways-towards higher-ups we are responsible to and also to employees we are responsible for.

All members of the organization must be convinced that he has his heart set on building the department or company through their personal development and, in that way, building their futures as well. If he finds personal satisfaction in creating a stronger, more successful organization and in helping as many as possible progress in their work lives, he must show it in his decisions, in plain conversation, and in the way he allocates his time.

The Right Actions At The Right Time

First when one of your subordinates gets in trouble with people in another work group or department as a result of trying to do a better job, you want to back him up. This is an especially important action if your management believes, as ours do, that employees should be encouraged to break out of narrow routines and, wherever possible, think of problems as company problems, not just problems of this particular function or that.

Lastly, fighting for your people sometimes means attacking in their behalf, not just defending them from attack. When you actively back a person, don’t be afraid to tell him of suspected faults in the opposition or of conversations that might be helpful to him. Remember that there will be others who, not so inclined to help him, will handicap his adjustment and shrink his confidence.

Develop Individual Abilities

The value of encouraging people to use other’s help increases as their individual abilities increase. That is, the more each person can contribute, and the more he can profit from using others’ contributions, the more the organization stands to gain from their making use of one another’s skills and experiences. This brings us to the question of whether the manager should make a personal effort to develop others’ talents and know-how.

There is a good deal of resistance in many companies to the idea that an executive should go out his way to develop the talents and abilities of people under him. Despite numerous urgings in books, magazines, and schools, an attitude of indifference persists in everyday practice. One man will justify his position by saying, “if a person isn’t doing a good job, why not just fire him and get another person who will produce?” Another man will say, “Why should I spend a lot of time on development? We have training for that purpose.”

This type of attitude is absolutely unaccepted and unethical too. There is variety of reasons why you should consider that it is your job-and one of your prime job-to develop the abilities of workers and supervisors reporting to you. One reason is that most people seem to be performing far below their potential .psychological research does indicate that the majority of industrial employees, including managers, could operate from 25-50% more effectively than they do. If your company has to worry at all about profits or competitions, this situation need not concern you so much. But if your organization could use extra power and effectiveness, then this is a strong argument for developing ability.

In the second place, most good people want to improve. If they are doing well, they are likely to want to do better. They are not content to remain at the same level indefinitely. Not every man will progress beyond his present assignment, but he can be helped to work more responsibly where he is; and in many cases he is actually qualified for, and would seriously like to be considered for, promotion. Given these attitudes, you do not do your people or your company a favor by showing little interest in their development. Your apathy and disinterest can. In fact, lead to considerable bitterness and resentment.

The third and last reason applies to special force to the development of supervisors in your department. The best way to get ahead is to develop and promote the able supervisors, or would-be supervisors, who work under you. No boss can use time more productively than in helping somebody under him to become more effective.

How to Personalize Competition

How should you deal with friction and rivalry? Here are some suggestions:

1.    Try to channel the drives that produce rivalry into constructive effort. Much of the time the motives, desires, and drives that get us into personnel troubles with associates have a strong “asset value” to the company. That is. We want to do better. We want to excel. We want to go up in the world. If with the help of our bosses and associates we can channel these drives in the right direction, the organization as a whole will benefit.

2.    Watch for the points where conflict may become destructive. There is no formula you can follow that will tell you when rivalry and controversy have gone too far and when they haven’t. You have to play this question by ear, so to speak, and make individual judgments in each case. There have been times when good managers have let disputes flare up to quite a high level without intervening; there have been other times when rivalry has been choked off early. What you must do is watch how easily the people involved get hurt, a question which in turn depends on their innate sensitivity and nature of problem. Also you must take into account the kinds of gains (new information, new understanding, mutual education, etc.) that are coming out of the rivalry, and weigh these against the cost in terms of hurt feelings and sleepless nights that the conflict produces.

3.    Remember that sometimes a man who is rough on people has so much ability or fits a job so well that the gain from using him outweighs the costs. Keep focusing on the benefits of having men with ability, whatever the personal weaknesses.

4.    See it to that an exceedingly ambitious subordinate works first for you and the company, not for himself. In the case of the subordinate who seems to be gunning aggressively for your job, remember that you have the prerogative of making work assignments.

5.    Try to so direct people’s efforts that their frictions come from bona fide attempts to move the organization ahead, not maneuver for selfish or short-term advantage.

6.    Put a value on sensitivity to human-relations problems, but put a higher value still on doing what needs to be done, whether  it pleases people or not.

Know Where You are Going

Almost everyone accepts the principle that a manager, like his company, should know what he wants to do, what he wants to accomplish, where he is going. Planning has become a byword in literature of management. There are books, chapters, articles and speeches on it; there are courses on it in schools; it is in some executives’ titles, as in “Vice-President in Charge of Planning” or “Manager-Planning and Procedures”.

But what is happening in words is not happening in action. Time and again managers think they have planning when they don’t. They take a day’s problems in stride but neglect to relate their decisions to long-range aims or objectives. There is no clear understanding in their offices and departments as to actions that tare needed to implement plans and programs. Of all the criticisms that are aimed at businessmen, perhaps the most justified is that they fail to clarify their long range objectives for their people.

When you don’t have well thought out goals, you can’t, of course, give your best to the company. But the company is not the only loser. You personally lose, too. Objectives are wonderful motivators that you can scarcely do without. When you have them, you commit yourself to getting certain things done by a certain time. You put the pressure on yourself to produce, to keep things moving. You find it easier and more natural to ask the right questions, to get the right information, to make the right comparisons. People sense more direction, more confidence in your actions. Your career is the gainer when have a plan of actions.

So much of our planning-in business as in life in general-is dreamlike. Most dreams seem completely real as we float through dreamland, and so do many of our plans. In the happy moments when they appear, they seem wise, realistic, and sometimes inspiring. But they are not effective- no more than dreams are effective. Now, we all know that plans must be elastic, subject to all sorts of changes. We know that the plan must control us in the future-that it should be a guide, not a dictator.

But this is not an excuse for lack of planning. In fact, just the opposite is true; the more clearly we understand the plans are not rigid, the freer we can be in making them specific. Plans need not be detailed blueprints of action, but they should be workable outlines. And they should be detailed enough so that it is clear when you plan to start this and when you plan to finish that.

Set High Standards for Your Subordinates

In this article, we shall discuss standards of work, and in particular, standards of achievement. First we shall see how standards affect performance in a business organization. The standards set by management have a deep and far-fetching influence on the way people in an organization think and perform.

There is a direct relationship between high standards and high profits. High standards by themselves do not guarantee high profits (for managers must sell the standards and help employees to work for them), but they are one of the essential links between management and profits.

One reason is that high standards satisfy an important need of key people in an organization-the people with drive and a desire to accomplish. Every good organization has a few such men and women; there are never enough. To challenge them personally, and also to help them assume leadership positions, the company somehow must convey that it wants the best its employees can give. If there is a general feeling that it is good enough to do a fair job, the top performers will quickly realize that they are just wasting their time.

It should also be remembered that in a technologically advanced companies today, and in the companies that move fast with new products and promotions to keep up with fast-changing markets, there are countless decisions being made all the time by people under the managerial levels. The manager cannot hope to keep up with everything that is going on; no matter how much he would like to control, he can in fact control only a portion of activities under his supervision.

One of the best ways he can influence these activities is by setting standards that will guide employees in their day-to-day work. If these bench marks are properly set, the bulk of the thousands of small decisions will complement the relatively few major ones made by the top executives. This has much to do with whether or not the company is successful.

High standards are instrumental in preventing what News Front Magazine once called “tired management”. Tired management occurs when executives lose the drive and inspiration of their predecessors in the corporation, or when company people show more interest in sharing the spoils of previous accomplishments than in “minding the store”.

This kind of deterioration is indeed likely to set in if management has not set high work standards and high criteria for accomplishment. Good communication between employees cannot be expected unless employees need to communicate in order to jet a job done.

Cooperation between sections cannot be expected unless the sections need to work together in order to accomplish mutually important goals. Managers cannot be expected to develop top performers among assistants and subordinates unless they need to do this in order to qualify for promotion.

Work with People as Personalities, Not Members of Groups

IF you want to do a good job of managing people, you must be able to help them grow in competence and understanding. You must be able to teach them. Two promising young supervisors start out with equal desire and equal opportunities for advancement. But do well for a time, earning promotion, regular pay raises, and the respect of their superiors. But then one seems to level off-“hit his ceiling”-while the other keeps going up.

The difference, as it often turns out, is that one has learned how to help and teach the people under him, while the other has not.

Focusing on Individuals

The first principle for working effectively with people is recognize the tremendous impact of modern business conditions on the variety of men and women in an organization. There are staff specialists in training, communications, operating research, quality control, production, scheduling, advertising, and any number of other areas.

These special areas mean not only that the people you deal with talk differently, but also those they think differently. A man who works over a long period with carefully picked samples, precise formulas and exact numbers is likely to develop a quite different frame of mind from that of the man who deals with subtleties of public opinion, general trends, and highly subjective judgments.

Help Technical People Develop

In more and more companies today the need is growing to help engineers, research men, and other specialists develop broader viewpoints of their work and qualify for promotion into management. Naturally, not all of these people are interested in supervisory positions. But some of them are, and can be found by helping them develop leadership skills.

Many managements prefer to have engineers and scientists supervised by men who themselves have had training in the field, and there are good reasons for this policy in numerous technical projects and departments. It should not be surprising therefore, that the manager who is good at helping technical people usually earns a very large credit for himself in the eyes of superiors.

Encourage Exposures to New Experience

A common mistake in teaching is to try to do it all by “dropping pearls of wisdom” pr using the blackboard. These have their places, but in this day and age it is important to see that employees get new exposures and “see for themselves”. When a man is given new exposures, you can’t be sure he’ll learn what you want him to learn, but it is a good bet that he’ll learn something and in any event, there are many times when there’re is no other good way to help him learn except this method.

In seeking to understand the people you work with, try to take extra moments for discussion, look at your end of the bargain as well as the other man’s, listen well, and set an example of frankness.