Category Archives: Development
If you look at the page links above you will see that a new page that has been added labeled Downloads.
Currently there is only one file there with plans to add more. The first file is a skills matrix template. My intent is not for it to be a template to fill in skills for people learn. I want it to be a tool that can be helpful to understanding lean and facilitated conversations.
Here is the template. There are five worksheets in the template.
- SWI – Intent of Use – This is meant to explain the best way I have learned to use the skill matrix. It tries to answer the questions of what is the purpose of the skill matrix and how to use it. It also, gives a standard operating procedure to go about using it.
- Profile – Skills – This sheet is a place to list the different roles in an organization across the top and set the goal for the ideal rating for that role against the skills listed down the side. This will help to describe the gap to be closed during the learning process.
- Assessment – Skills – This sheet is where the names of the individuals are listed and rated for each skill. Just shade in the appropriate boxes to rate an individual.
- Ratings – Skills – This sheet has a definition of what the ratings are.
- Development Plan – This sheet is where you can list the skill to improve, the target rating to achieve, and a plan to achieve it. Under the Name column, either a specific person’s name can go there or you can enter ‘Group’ that shows this is something the entire group is working on improving.
Please feel free to download and use it. Any feedback on the ease and clarity of use would be appreciated.
Sometimes we get stuck in a rut. Always doing the same type of things. Getting bored with what we are doing and wanting something different. Too often we wait for someone to give us a new challenge or a new project or a new job assignment. This usually becomes very frustrating because no one else notices or can’t help right away with providing a new opportunity for us.
It’s not easy making your own path. It means extra work or venturing into a space we haven’t been before. This can make us feel uneasy and can stop us from taking the initiative. The only way to grow and take on new challenges is to overcome that fear and start making your own path.
Below I have listed a few things that have worked for me over the years.
- Create a Proposal – Determine what you want to do. What is the next challenge you want to take on? What experience do you want to gain? Then create a proposal to gain the experience or take on a new challenge and present it to your manager. Sell them on what your group would get out of it as well as what you gain. The risk is your manager saying no.
- Just Do It – Go out and take on a new challenge without asking your manager. Volunteer to be on a work team or to do a project. Don’t discuss it with your boss. Just take it on. The risk is managing your time for that work in with your other duties. You still have to meet all your normal obligations. I have done this several times and so far it has worked out very well for me. In the end, my manager is appreciative that I did the work and I gain the experience.
- Start Something New – Pick something new to start that would give you the challenge you are looking for or gain the experience you want. Two personal examples are starting a lean consortium in Texas and this blog. It has helped me achieve many objectives I have had.
With all three ways, you have to do some self reflection and understand what it is you want to do. What is it that you want to accomplish or develop? This self reflection is what can make it so hard to make our own path. Sometimes that answers aren’t easy, but if we are true to ourselves we will definitely benefit by making our own path to something better.
I have decided to try something different for 2012. I am not going to read a single lean or leadership book for the entire year. I read my first book on lean and/or leadership about 5 years ago. The Hitchhker’s Guide to Lean by Jamie Flinchbaugh and Andy Carlino was a gift to me as I left one job for another. Being the avid learner, I was hooked. I kept reading more and more books on lean. As I’m sure many of yours are, my completed reading list on lean and leadership is a mile long.
So why stop reading books on the subject this year?
Not because of burn out or because I want to stop learning. On the contrary, I want to learn but by putting more of what I have read into practice.
I have used some of what I have read over the years when the time was right, but recently I seem to have read so much especially about leadership and lean that I am jumping from on thing to another without giving anything a serious try. This year is going to be dedicated to trying to put some of what I have learned about into practice without diluting it with more information.
I plan on continuing to read blogs and non-fictional and a few fictional books this year, but my lean book reading will be on hold.
My learning is going to come from doing. I will have to dig back through some of my books to refresh myself and I am looking forward to that. I am looking forward to the challenge and seeing the results.
Is there anything from your past reading that you want to learn more about?
It is a brand new year. I hope everyone enjoyed themselves over the weekend with plenty of football and food.
This is the first post of a new year. I thought I would start with reflection of how I did with my goals from 2011. Here is a recap of my three goals for the 2011:
- Continue to blog for a full calendar and make it meaningful and thought provoking to my readers – I did it! I made it a full calendar year and celebrated the 1 year anniversary of the blog. I can’t believe I made it. It was definitely a lot more work than I could have ever anticipated but it was worth it.
- I want to meet more people from the blogshpere – Check. Tim McMahon, Karen Wilhelm, James Lawther, and Christian Paulson just to name a few great people that I met during 2011 through the blog. I look forward to meeting more people in 2012.
- Make my first reaction to a problem to go and see – Pretty close to a full check. Most of the time my first reaction is to go and see the problem, but it wasn’t 100% of the time. I did do a lot better at this in 2011 though.
Now to my goals for 2012:
- Expand the blog and bring new bloggers to Beyond Lean
- Learn 3 new things from fellow bloggers that help me improve my work
What are some of your goals for 2012? I would love to hear them.
Good luck in 2012!
One of the reason Ron Ashkenas sites for micromanaging is the manager worries about being disconnected from what is going on. I have seen this be true in a lot of cases. The manager has a hard time trusting what is going on with the work and needs the comfort of being involved in order to be relaxed about the situtation.
One thing I have found to help with micro-managers is the pre-emptive strike. Try getting out in front of the work and give regular updates without being asked to do so. Once a week or after a meeting, send the manager an email with what work has been completed to date and what work is next to be completed as well as how you feel the work is going.
In most cases, this can start to build trust with the manager. The manager can start to do less micromanaging. The key is to take on doing the updates without being asked to do so. If the manager asks, then it will seems as task the manager wants to keep an eye on you. If you take the initiative to update the manager, the manager respects it can starts to build some trust which can allow the micromanaging to start to subside. When that does yo feel better about the work and working for the manager.
This may not work all the time, but it is a place to start.
In the spirit of other blog sites, especially the Management Carnival, I thought I would share some links to a few blogs that found very interesting over the last month or so. I hope you enjoy them.
A Tough Obituary to Write by Bill Waddell – This is a different perspective on the passing of Steve Jobs. This is a point of view I had thought about writing but Bill beat me to the punch and I didn’t want to redo something he had written so well.
Building Your Personal Value Proposition by Bill Barnett – A great post about understanding yourself and what you are interested in. Use that knowledge to know where you fit in a company and build your personal value.
Encourage Talent If You Want It To Grow by Steve Roesler – Steve hits on some great points to help grow talent through encouragement. Even when you feel an employee is doing what they should be doing it is good to encourage them.
Building Manager Standard Work by Jamie Flinchbaugh – This blog will link to his full article at Industry Week. Don’t but a process in place for something that already has a process like check email every day at lunch.
Planning On Not Knowing by David Kasprzak – We won’t always know what do to next but that shouldn’t stop us from planning. Plan in spots to review and determine what to do next.
Manufacturing Skills Gap or Management Skills Gap by John Hunter – If the people don’t have the manufacturing skills they need is that their fault? Or do we have a gap in our management skills?
Assembly Mag Thinks Whirlpool is Lean. Really. by Kevin Meyer – This is about Whirlpool and the fake lean. It hit home because I grew up in Evansville and watch the decline of Whirpool.
My daughter has been a member of the Girl Scouts for 4 years now (2 as a Daisy and 2 as a Brownie). Being November it is that time of year. We are out in the neighborhood selling Girl Scout Cookies. While as a father, I can’t say I’m always excited to go door-to-door selling things but the Girl Scout troupe my daughter is a part of does some great things for the girls.
This year I have noticed a big change in my daughter. Normally she is a very quite and shy person. Last year when we sold cookies I would have to practically pull her out from behind me to talk to the people and I ended up doing most of the speaking. This year is a huge change. She does almost all the talking and I stand at the bottom of the steps while she is at the door. She has come out of her shell and is more forward.
It has been a long journey to help her come out of shell. Giving her a huge safe learning zone has been part of the key. The Girl Scouts do that for her. Also, when we are at Fast Food restaurants we have her go up and ask for refills or condiments without us being there. When she does we make a big deal out of it. Over time this has given her confidence and it is starting to really show during the door-to-door sales this year.
As managers and leaders, we have to help our employees come out of their shell or safe zone and into the learning zone. When we do that our employees will gain more and more confidence. The more confidence they gain the better results and more creative problem solving will occur.
Giving adults as well as children a safe and big learning zone helps them to gain confidence in what they are doing. It is our job to help give them a safe learning zone.
As for my daughter, I can’t wait to see how this translates to the basketball court this winter!
As I look for ways to improve, I am inspired by other lean thinkers and bloggers. I see what they are trying and look to how that might work for me. I try and experiment with things in order to make my job easier and to feel more in control and organized.
I decided to start a series that will be based on what I have tried in order to make my work better. It may be small or large things and most likely it was an inspiration I got from someone else. I hope that by passing along what I have learned that it may inspire others the way others have inspired me.
Awhile back I wrote about the career map I had developed to help me understand my career opportunities with my current company. That has been a great exercise and it has gone through a few revisions since then. Here is a link to my latest revision of my career map. Career Map – Revision 3
Over the last several months I have been meeting with some leaders at my company to show them my career map. This is has not been easy for me. I am not a person who seeks others to talk about myself. In fact, I hate it. But if I am going to have a successful career I have to build good relationships with leaders.
This may be a big uncomfortable zone for me but I have found it to be very beneficial. Every leader I have met with respects me for reaching out and talking with them. They like that I am trying to manage my career and not let my career manage me. Because of this positive feedback, I keep on setting meetings and get to know more about our leaders.
I have learned some things to help me with these meetings. One of the biggest is a bio sheet. This was recommended by a Vice President who is also introverted and it helped him break the ice with people he met for career discussions or when a new boss came in. The bio sheet tells a little bit about your family, interests outside of work, interests at work, and a short description of something you are currently working on. Send the sheet ahead of time to the person you are meeting with. This helps break the ice and start a conversation much more casually.
Also, when you meet make it about the business. This is my career and my interests and this is how I see it intersecting with the business and the direction it is going. It shows you are thinking about the company and not just career climbing. I always explain that while job titles are listed on the career map, it isn’t about the title. The titles are ones that seem to line up with my interests and skills as a reference point.
While this is way outside my comfort zone, I have found it to be very beneficial to have these discussions. I have learned a lot about myself and have grown as a leader because of it.
What has worked for you in managing your career?
Why were you hired? Chances are it was for a set of technical skills you had at a time the company needed them. You interviewed and were hired based on those set of skills you brought to the table, whether it be lean, six sigma, engineering, accounting, etc..
Now, think about the exceptional leaders you have had in the past. What made them exceptional in your opinion? Some of the responses I have gotten from groups in the past are:
- Cared for people
- Understood the business needs and could relate it to my work
- Kept us focused on the top priorities
- Worked with integrity
- Knew what each individual needed to get the job done
- Helped me grow and understand the business better
- Removed roadblocks for my work
This is just a few, but I think it drives home the point. The leaders that stand out in people’s minds as exceptional knew how to connect with people and worked to develop them or support the individual. It centered around relationships.
While we are hired in for a set of technical skills, the leaders that do well and are looked at for promotion do well with relationships. Not sucking up and creating a good old boy/girl network. Not that type of relationship. People can see through that. But the type of relationships that helped people get their jobs done.
As leaders, the relationship skills are even more important than the technical skills. Yet, people spend more time developing technical skills and not the relationship skills. Why is that? Is it because the technical skills are more tangible?
Relationship skills are hard. In order to become better with relationships a person has to learn more about themselves and how they act in certain situations. What can cause them to overreact or become uninterested? Self reflection is hard for a lot of people to do. The people that can self reflect and work on relationships have a very good chance of improving their relationships. This is a big step in becoming a person considered by others as an exceptional leader.
What do you work on improving most? Technical skills? Or relationship skills?
Which do you think is more important?
A common phrase that is used is, “Cooler heads will prevail.”
Why do people use this phrase? Why does it seem to be true?
The truth is there is some biology behind this. The amygdala is a gland in the brain that controls the fight or flight emotion in us. It can trigger the fight sense that causes us to get very defensive and not listen to people. Several things can cause the amygdala to react in a social setting. Some triggers include being:
It is important to understand these triggers in yourself so you can see them coming and head off the amygdala hijacking before it starts. Once it starts studies have shown it takes about 18 minutes for the average person to cool back down ain order to have a reasonable discussion.
Why is this important? Because keeping a cool head and not getting hijacked allows us as leaders to have better open and honest discussions with others in the organization or at home.
Lets face it. The hard conversations on performance and behaviors are the ones that are easy to get hijacked on. Nobody wants to talk or hear about something they aren’t doing well. These are times we have to prepare ourselves to not get hijacked. Some ways to prevent a hijacking is to:
- Know what your triggers are
- Watch you motives, assume positive intent
- Breathe – There are biological reason this actually works to calm a person down
- Ask for a break if necessary and explain why
None of this is easy, but becoming good at preventing hijacks can make us better leaders and open our ears to more ways to improve.