Does Executive Work Prevent Executives From Experiencing FLOW?

Flow, the psychological state of high-performance where one loses one’s self in the work one is doing, is something that we think people crave. Bioss International posits that when we have a job that challenges us just enough but not overwhelms — a job that “fits” — we experience flow.

But do we? Or more specifically, do the activities required of Executive Management prevent t…

#1 Book That New Executives Must Read

KODIAK, Alaska (Sept. 27, 2011) The Naval Research Laboratory tactical satellite IV (TacSat-4) lifts-off from the Alaskan Aerospace Corporation's Kodiak Launch Complex aboard a Minotaur IV+ launch vehicle. TacSat-4 will have a unique highly elliptical orbit which augments current geosynchronous satellite communications and will support to tactical handhelds. (U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams/Released)

You just got promoted into the Executive suites. You’ve been a manager for awhile now, with ever-increasing managerial responsibilities. You know how to manage that smaller group. But now you’re going to be running a full line of business, your own PL. You know how to manage 100. How do you manage 2,000?

Most business books have little to give the new executive other than platitudes that sound…

#1 Reason Why 360º Reviews are a Menace to Managers

Network hierarchy diagram.

360º review systems are often dissed by everyone except the people administering them. They’re so-called because they allow everyone in the organization around you — manager, boss’s boss, peers, subordinates and maybe even subordinates’ subordinates — to rate your performance.

And that’s the problem:

360º reviews get people to think of things you don’t do well, often for the first…

Innovative Companies have Core Groups Who Can Talk to Creatives

Employees at Mid-Continent Refinery [ca. 1943 Tulsa, OK (LOC). By John Vachon]

What makes a company creative and innovative? Art Kleiner, an editor and oft writer for Booz & Company’s strategy+business magazine, makes a pretty bold assertion about this in his book on Core Group Theory, the idea that organizations exist really to serve a small set of folks who are the real “stakeholders” in every conversation. For Kleiner, if these people can’t hold real conversations wit…

Here’s what a great workplace looks like – high performance teams

Members of Sokol club in sport costumes, approx. 1900. author: Šechtl a Vose?ek Uploaded with approval of inheritors of the copyright

What does a great workplace look like? Walter Ulmer took a stab at defining it over 25 years ago. He saw that there was a big difference between regular teams and high performance teams, one where everyone took it to the next level.

And what is the essence of a “supportive” climate that promotes esprit and gives birth to “high performing units”? It may be easier to feel or sense than to…

Love in the Workplace Includes Demanding Performance

Marine Sgt. at New Orleans, La. By Howard R.Hollem. Library of Congress collection via Flickr.

Can you love your direct reports? The guys of Manager Tools say “yes” and add that it has to include demands for performance. Here’s why.

If you want to be a great manager and get high performance consistently out of your team, you must learn to balance to two sides of management: caring and demanding. It’s a tough one to get right as most of us err naturally to one side or the other. Canadian…

What Is Real Executive Work? (That Executives Aren’t Doing)

Cup of Tea. By Mary Cassatt,1879-1880

I got some strong comments regarding my post that executives are boobs. I probably should have said “worthless drags on shareholder value who ought to be golden parachuted into a live volcano that resembles the eternal hell they deserve for being lazy good-for-nothings.” But let’s not quibble.

Let’s instead deal with what real executive work looks like. And, yes, I’ve seen it. I even consult…

Engineer-speak vs. Marketing-speak: Talking to engineers successfully

Young worker at the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad 40th street shops, 1942.

I’ve been reading the fascinating You’re In Charge — Now What?: The 8 point plan by Thomas J. Neff and James M. Citrin. It’s mostly about how incoming CEOs can handle the first 100 days. What got me hooked is that the process they describe in their first chapter is pretty much the one that I’m writing up about Jos Wintermans at Canadian Tire and Acceptance, Ltd. If you are starting a new managerial job, above Level 3 especially, I’d recommend taking a look at their points. They fluff some elements that require more rigorous thinking, but it is correct in its essentials.

The passage that struck me today is a short one about how a marketing guy, Jeff Killeen, handled the culture shock of starting as CEO at GlobalSpec. GlobalSpec is an engineering-focused company, and here he talks about the struggles he had both in developing a relationship with technical genius & founder, John Schneiter, and the engineers of the company. If you work with engineers or developers, this is relevant.

Why You Can Tell Your Big Secret To Success (they won’t do it)

Unclassified top secret document

A few years back, I took on my first ISO 9001 project. An IT outsourcing company, then still in North America, wanted to certify the Desktop Support groups at each outsource contract in the world. You can apparently just do one site and certify the operations everywhere. Upper management gave them 90 days to complete the project. Just one quarter.

The site I was working with got chosen and…

Why Managers Should Not Write Technical Job Postings

Yardmaster in railroad yards working, Amarillo, TX, 1943. By Jack Delano via Library of Congress Collection (LOC)

A friend of mine encouraged me to tell this story which I watched unfold first hand while a software development manager for a mid-sized consulting firm. One of my best developers — a software architect, really — started laughing in the middle of the day. We all needed something to release the strain of our bi-weekly drop work, so all us meerkats gathered around his desk.

“Look at…

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