I absolutely LOVED the book “Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to be the Best… and Learn from the Worst” by Robert Sutton. You may recall that he also wrote the book “The No Asshole Rule” which is also terrific.
Key takeaways for me:
- No matter what your intentions, if you are “the boss” people will read something into whatever you do or say. As a good friend of mine once said – “sometimes my words took on lives of their own”. You need to be very careful – your people are watching you all the time trying to figure you out.
- KISS. We all know this one, but in business we forget it. KEEP IT SIMPLE. Figure out what is really important to your company, your department or your product. Bring it up frequently. If you are measuring 25 important things, none of them will get done. Find a handful – manage to those.
- Power can go to your head easily. Don’t be a bosshole ( I love this word!).
- If dirty work needs to be done, do it. Layoffs, firings, and other uncomfortable conversations are dirty work. Don’t drag them out. Do what needs to be done, people will respect you for it.
I highly recommend this book for anyone who is a boss or aspires to be one.
I recently came across this article on the Harvard Business Journal site. Boy did this resonate with me.
This topic is one of my pet peeves. Over the years I have heard so many people complain that they aren’t getting to important tasks in their home or work lives. Quite frankly they aren’t setting their priorities correctly. Usually it goes something like this: “Right now I don’t have time to eat right and exercise – but once things settle down at work I’ll get to it.” or “I should get some training or learn more about that, but I barely can get through all of the tasks in my day job right now.” or “In order for me to be more effective I need to start doing ‘x’ but I am too busy trying to get ‘y’ done.” That last one is my personal favorite. It has bitten me more than a few times now and I vow that it isn’t going to happen to me again. Typically the thing that I should be doing is something that I’m not comfortable with. It is a new skill or it is hard for me based on my personality type. Sometimes it is a lack of confidence that holds me back. I think that the best advice I ever got in those instances is to “fake it”. Yes, seriously, pretend that you are competent and capable in that area and do what you think someone who is would do.
Something else that I thought was valuable in this article is that you need to make a conscious decision about which items to pursue and which to just let go. There’s no point in beating yourself up about not getting to something that you know is highly unlikely. It is a fantasy if you think you’ll get to it. Who needs to drag along that baggage for years? The amount of stress that adds over time is just not worth it. I worked with a career coach who had a favorite saying – the best way to let something go is to visualize it. Put the thought in a bubble and visually pop that bubble. How do you feel once it is gone? Relieved? Happy? Sad? That first feeling you have is key to the issue.
So – two things.
1. GET TO IT! This is for those items you really just need to incorporate in your life. Stop procrastinating.
2. LET IT GO! Stop carrying around unwanted items in your head that you know you’ll never prioritize to the top of the queue.
Do both and you’ll feel much better.
Lately I’ve had a harder time coming up with new topics for this blog. I haven’t really read anything all that interesting online that I want to share. I also haven’t had anything terribly interesting happen to me that I wanted to talk about either. Quite frankly I have been feeling like I might be running out of ideas. That isn’t a great place to be when I committed to myself that I would write a certain number of posts per month. My goal is to create and share coherent thoughts and opinions that hopefully aren’t just what everyone else is thinking. I want to apply what I read in unique ways to what I do every day.
This past weekend I planned on sitting down and coming up with 2 or 3 posts that I could squirrel away for when I am too busy to write. Nope, that didn’t happen. Then I thought to myself, well, Monday night would be a good opportunity to write. Nope, I wasn’t up to it. I started to feel the tug of procrastination and it was telling me to watch another show captured on the DVR last week when my TV went dead. Just one more show, and have a cookie and a glass of wine while you’re at it. That sounds good doesn’t it?
Today I decided that I was going to impose a deadline. Tonight. Period. There would be SOMETHING posted to my blog. I thought I would call the challenge “Creativity on a Deadline.”
I think that we’ve all been in this situation before – and some of us fair much better than others. I am usually not a procrastinator, but I do recognize that having a deadline – a hard deadline for a deliverable will bring my performance up and it will help my creativity. Sometimes I will create artificial deadlines (like this one). Sometimes I will commit to a date in order to force a deadline. Sometimes I will intentionally procrastinate for a few days before a deadline to help get my creative juices flowing. Yes, intentionally. I’m not an all-nighter type of person, but sometimes I like to cut things a little close, especially if it is something that I can knock out of the park. I don’t know about you, but for me it really helps me focus very very laser like at the task at hand. It also keeps me from over analyzing and over reviewing what I am working on.
Thinking this through, I don’t believe that creativity is best spawned by open-ended experimentation. If I can do whatever I want for days, weeks, or months at a time I find that I will still create deadlines for myself. If I don’t, I end up in the weeds without anything useful to show for it. How many hours can you spend playing games? Watching TV? or ahem, surfing the internet? (and I’m happy that you’re surfing here btw)
Planned creativity. Who would have thought that it works? IT DOES! Have you ever blocked off a few hours on your calendar to work creatively without interruptions? Then you have done this. Think about Google and their 20% initiative. That’s one day a week that their employees can just work on a pet project. that’s planning for creativity too.
When you’re stuck and you need to get something creative done – just make an appointment to do it – and set a deadline.
Well, it is always entertaining when snow is forecast in the South. It is even stranger when this happens in March – it’s supposed to be warm in March, this is when Spring starts.
How many accidents will there be on our highways before 7am? Will there be any bread, milk or eggs left at the grocery store? Doubt it! I grew up in the Northeast. I am used to making it to work no matter what. I also have fond memories of taking “snow” days and driving 4 hours in the worst possible conditions to Vermont to go skiing for the day. I was like the postman…. neither rain nor snow nor dark of night (or something like that). Boy times have changed. Now I won’t venture out if we get 2″ of snow. It’s not me – I still can drive in the stuff, I just don’t trust that anyone else around me has a clue. Here in Raleigh we had an event a few years back where over 3,000 school children ended up sleeping at their schools because the snow started during the day. People spent 8 hours on the roads trying to get home. It was insanity. I do my best to avoid it if at all possible now.
That said – a snow day isn’t all fun and games. I find that there is nothing better than a good snow day to catch up on work that I have been putting off. A lot of times these items need a long block of uninterrupted concentration that is hard to get at work. Some of those items are the ones that I’ve been dreading. I know they’re important, I know that I’ll be better off once they’re done, but they are difficult to start. Recently I spent a day creating custom reports that gave me the information that I needed to better assess product quality. My team already had a lot of reports, but none of them were giving me the high level dashboard that I wanted to be able to glance at and get a good feeling of the health of our software at any given moment. It was well worth the effort. I use those reports every day now.
Snow days are also really great for taking a break from the day to day work and looking at the bigger picture. I love being able to spend a day planning for the future and assessing risks. It’s great preparation that helps keep product on track longterm. Having the ability to disassociate myself from my regular work environment makes this type of thinking easier to do.