Getting the air right

Though I have heard of the Mayo Clinic I would not have taken the time to learn management lessons from it’s success without this piece.

There are a number of elements that, on their face, might not work to attract world class talent – the clinic is not located in a major centre and doctors are salaried. That said, the level of the talent attracted to the clinic creates its own momentum and contributes to a successful culture.

Give a group of high performers an amazing atmosphere in which to do their work, and eventually they will simply be attracted by each other. This can go on a long time.

The article is also worth a read to better understand the client-driven benefits of the “one stop shopping” model for health care concerns – the clinic is basically a medical city.


Three Steps To Get Up To Speed On Any Subject Really, Really Fast | Fast Company | Business + Innovation

This is a valuable piece which does a good general job of laying out explicit strategies for something I didn’t think could be explained well – what to do when you have to get command of a new and complex subject really quickly.

This has been a struggle for me as a manager because I haven’t been able to reverse engineer my own ability to (usually) hack together a decent understanding of most subjects through self-learning fairly quickly.  I can read fairly quickly and if I  jump in at the deep end and it eventually starts to make sense.

The advice below is therefore especially helpful because it forms a strategy to respond to the questions and resulting resistance that I hear a lot: I can’t do this because I don’t know the file like the expert and I would have to know the file inside out to be able to give advice.  In fact, most people are capable of getting a working understanding of a file in a limited period.  Yes there will be gaps and you can admit those but this piece should shine the light on the ability to get a credible start.

The whole article is worth a read but the gist:

  • Do an initial google search and then stop researching before you fall down a rabbit hole.  Now is the time to map out the extent of your understanding of the topic through borrowing visuals from others or making your own;
  • Then talk to people close to the topic who may be outside your sphere and (may not your first stop as subject matter experts); and then
  • Write out an description of your topic that would allow you to teach about it to a truly outside audience.


Source: Three Steps To Get Up To Speed On Any Subject Really, Really Fast | Fast Company | Business + Innovation

7 Habits Of Parents Who Leave The Office At 5 P.M. Guilt-Free

I am not a parent but I’ll quibble with the title of this article anyway.  It hits all the right notes for trying to achieve a reasonable balance between work and the rest of your life but having worked in busy environments, when things are on fire, you won’t likely be leaving guilt free no matter what. Ever.  But can you make leaving at a reasonable time a practice?  You bet.  Does it get easier the more you stand your ground?  Yes, (if only slightly) in my experience.  I am not sure that you are ever going to feel less guilty at what isn’t getting done (by you) but with time, you can realize how important it is to attend to life outside of work.

The top regrets of the dying are worth a visit in conjunction with this article.  They include: working too hard, failing to stay in touch with friends and, in top spot, not having the courage to live a life true to oneself, not the life others expected of us.

But on to the strategies to get out of the office in the first place

1) Begin the day with your end in mind (including a firm motivation to get out the door).

2) Be clear on your values and then schedule your time to reflect these values.

3) Tell people when you have to leave

4) Do your most important work first

5) Start meetings before 4pm

6) Give yourself transition time

7) Realize that work will still be there tomorrow. 

Source: 7 Habits Of Parents Who Leave The Office At 5 P.M. Guilt-Free


12 Books That Every Leader Should Read: Updated – Bob Sutton

I enjoy this fellow’s books and many of the books he recommends are ones that I found powerful as well including “The Progress Principle”, “Made to Stick” and “Give and Take”.  Look forward to exploring the remainder of the list.

Source: 12 Books That Every Leader Should Read: Updated – Bob Sutton


Seth’s Blog: It’s not your fault

… but it might be your responsibility. That’s a fork in the road on the way to becoming a professional.

Source: Seth’s Blog: It’s not your fault


The Latest Executive Dustups Prove Relationships, Not Skills, Determine Success – Businessweek

(c) James bond


A good article from a couple of months back discussing the importance of maintaining relationships. As wiser folks than me have pointed out, always best to do this in advance of needing to lean on them.

The article highlights the need for your humility in this process and putting aside personal dislikes.  Though they focus on the relationship with your boss, I think I’d be more keen to engage in a 360 degree strategy.

“…[I]dentify the most critical relationships, those individuals crucial to both your success and the success of the business, and nurture those relationships. This entails asking people’s opinions, even if you don’t think their views are likely to be helpful. It means telling people what you are doing and why—sharing information with them so they never feel left out. Serving relationships means going to visit people in their offices, not yours, and in countless other ways showing others that you value them, their experience, and their expertise.”

via The Latest Executive Dustups Prove Relationships, Not Skills, Determine Success – Businessweek.


Most People Don’t Want to Be Managers

As expected, most don’t want to be managers…some crucially important information for succession planning.


Pinning Waves Upon the Sand

I love following this blog and I am a huge fan of using competencies to help bolster our performance reviews.

Canadian Government Executive Blog

I have written previously about how metrics are crucial in the world of performance management. Used well, they create a yardstick by which all employees are evaluated. The very act of measuring the right things can lead to better results.

Though we are reluctant to admit it, most managers do a poor job of objectively measuring performance. Observing and recording employee behaviour is hard work. We can’t watch every member of our team at all times. Our observations and memories drift toward the big wins and the big screwups. We focus on what’s easily measured rather than what’s most important. Keeping track of performance can feel like a herculean task!

The goal is to help every employee improve and grow. Employees can’t do that without good feedback from their manager. Managers, in turn, can’t provide good feedback without solid, objective metrics. Creating these measures doesn’t need to be complex…

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working with what you have…

I haven’t been posting a lot lately so that I can take the time to embrace the Ottawa summer – short but intensely lovely with lots of festivals.

I spent part of this week at the Jazz Festival and enjoyed the headline show last night with Aretha Franklin. The Queen of Soul is now 72 and brought her lovely voice to adoring Ottawa fans. It was a sold out show on a beautiful night. At one point the headliner left the stage unexpectedly. The band stopped the song mid-way and and quickly and fairly seamlessly switched to an instrumental number. At one point the bandleader said, Aretha had gone back to check the soccer scores. Then we were treated to an impromptu song from Bobby McFerrin’s daughter, Madison.

It was a great reminder that when things go sideways, they need not be catastrophic. In this case, the impromptu break was covered with grace and professionalism and we were thrilled when Aretha returned to the stage to finish the show.

The public service’s core competencies include flexibility and this was a great example of how to pull that off.


On the search for people with issues they’d like to resolve…

As some of you know, I completed an intensive coaching course last year with a well-respected school.

l am on the hunt for coaching clients as I work toward securing more hours to get a designation as a certified coach. For the run up to my certification, I am charging $2 per hour.

There is no ideal candidate beyond someone who has an issue that they are trying to resolve or advance in the short/medium term and someone willing to spend some time in reflection mode to think about an issue and work toward solutions. This won’t be a process of advice giving or mentoring much as I love doing both.

I’d suggest that a commitment of two to three sessions will work better than a one off, but that is not to say, you shouldn’t feel utterly free to move on after an initial session if this process isn’t for you (or the match isn’t good between you and I – I can try and make a referral if so).

Most coaching seems to happy via Skype or Face time or over the phone so geography isn’t so much of an issue.

You can email me via the blog if you are interested or would like more information.