Work Yourself Out of A Job

images (51)What’s Your True Motivation for Being in Business?

We’re often inundated with endless media charter about becoming the ‘next Google’ or ‘next ‘Amazon’ business success. The perception that these reports paint can often cause aspiring and current business owners to lose their way and in some instances their personal financial viability by chasing fantasies. There are a lot of perceived reasons and technical explanations as to why this happens, but fundamentally it’s due to lack of purpose and vision for the business. Yes… it’s quite this simple. In working with and among startups and existing business owners, I’ve experienced more than enough businesses that exist for the purposes of just existing. A simple fix for vision / mission waywardness is to take time in the planning stages of the business and THINK!!! The following 2 questions will work wonders and get your creative juices flowing: What do I (we, if you have a team… which you should) want to accomplish with this business besides making a lot of money? AND Where do we want to be in 1 year? 3 years? 5 years?


Becoming an Effective Manager

images (49)Many successful people get promoted into management and quickly find the pressure to be higher than anything they felt in the past. As an individual contributor, it is much easier to control the outcomes of your work. It may not seem like that at times, but you have a lot more control than when you are a manager of people. I am not referring to people that receive a management title and have nobody to manage. A real manager has the authority and responsibility to manage: financial performance (includes holding others accountable), people activities (hire, keep and grow people), and positioning/strategizing the firm or department in a way that provides a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

One key issue a manager faces is that there are always detractors within the larger organization and the smaller team. These people may have been detractors all along, felt they should have gotten your position, or do not know you well enough to realize you are qualified for your position. In his book, “Managing Right for the First Time,” David C. Baker recommends that managers not overreact and

3 Reasons Great Collaboration Won’t Happen

images (48)In most companies, collaboration is a valuable part of corporate culture. In fact, it’s expected that teams, departments and divisions work and share information together. In some of the best companies, collaboration is well executed with outside vendors, suppliers and consultants. Yet, for some reason, collaboration does not always happen. Many businesses tend to be divided by silos – groups of people who function like clicks.

Collaboration like corporate culture is the elusive quality that is characterized as a soft skill. While considered soft, it’s a skill that appears to be very hard to acquire.

Collaboration is the act of working together with one or more people in order to achieve a common goal. Sounds simple. Right? When you factor human nature, you start to see where complications begin.

What could possibly get in the way of such a desirable element for successful business? For one, people like to take credit for achievement. When two or more people work together, they combine their brains. By doing so, one thought can feed off of the others’. That makes it difficult to say who the originator of the

What To Do When Your Boss Is Younger Than You Are

images (50)What have you always pictured your boss looking like? If you are anything like me, you’ve always pictured them as a grumpy old man. Or a grumpy old woman if you want to get all modern. However, there is one thing that I’ve never really pictured my boss as being – younger than I am! However, this is starting to happen. Firms are starting to put Gen-X folks into senior management positions. What should you do if this happens to when you are in the CIO position?

What’s Going On?

So just exactly how did you end up having the CIO job, but working for someone who is younger than you are? It turns out that one of those natural generational shifts is currently underway. The baby boomers who have been running things are now starting to reach retirement age. What this means for firms is that they are starting to replace their leaving senior management with members of the next generation: Gen-X. The Gen-X’ers were born between 1965 and 1980. This switch is happening at a lot of firms that you may recognize: McDonalds,

5 Ways to Make Transparency Work With KPIs

images (47)There’s a glass wall between the waiting room and the workshop at the windscreen shop where I took my new car to have its – you guessed it – windscreen replaced last week. I could watch the whole process, if I wanted, while sipping as many espressos as I fancied.

Clearly, they aren’t afraid of their customers seeing how things happen “backstage”. They have nothing to hide. I wonder if that’s because:

    1. They clearly care about their customers. They gave plenty of time to help me understand what would happen to my precious new car, and to explain exactly what I should expect with an aftermarket windscreen compared to the factory one. No question was too silly for them to answer with care.


    1. They have defined processes. Staff moved through each step, from when I entered the reception to when I drove off, with proficiency and ease. It meant they had the bandwidth to be friendly and courteous in each interaction.


    1. They promised what they know they can deliver. The promise to me was completion in 2 hours, but the delivery was only 90 minutes. My expectations

How Effective Will a Business Coaching Company Be?

images (45)In a previous post regarding business coaching companies, we discussed what such companies can do to help your business. They will work with your business to establish a partnership that will help you reach your goals.

We have established that working with a coach truly does produce results. The next question is: just how effective will it be? Will the results in the future truly offset the current investment?

We understand that only a marginal impact may not be enough to justify hiring a business coach but the International Coaching Federation has research that shows that there are clear benefits that arise for the individual and the company as a whole.

Each individual is unique in terms of skills s/he possesses and how s/he naturally is. Some people are very confident, others great public speakers. Here enters a business coach to present new perspectives and develop these skills.

Individuals that have gone through different programs have commented saying that it presented them with a better understanding of who they are as a person- where they feel confident and what they need to work on. Just to

The Selflessness of Business

images (46)“Chief Bottle Washer” as I’ve often heard it or my personal favorite “This is Where the Buck Stop” denotes the role of servant leadership that most if not all small to mid-sized business owners play. Continuing with the thought that one of the primary objectives of creating, sustaining, and growing a business is to work oneself out of a job, business owners and their staff can either strengthen or weaken the vision and operations of the business by their application of the principles of this style of leadership.

What is Servant Leadership in the Context of Business?

I’m not going to give you some technical, dictionary definition, but rather a description from experience. The model of servant leadership needed to strengthen the vision and operations of a business derives from someone (and their team) that embodies the passion for why the business exists. In other words, the purpose of the business’s existence has to incorporate a balance between the dollar (delivering of value and return of capital) and the people (staff, customers, investors). Servant leaders have an ethereal ability to transfer their passion for

What Can a Business Coaching Company Do for You?

images (44)Should you consider hiring a business coach to help you further your business, career or even personal life?

People sometimes are weary before hiring a coaching company because they do not know if it is worth the investment. Now this can stem from the uncertainty of future results or the initial investment of crucial time and money. When you are running a company, you do not want to waste your resources. And no business coaching company wants you to. Rather, they want to help you develop skills that are essential to your progression and future business success. Read the information below to better gauge if this seems like the right fit for you.

What exactly can working with a business coaching company do for you?

They can help change the effectiveness and overall work ethic of your employees and teams. The most important part of coaching is that it is about cultivating a true relationship between the individuals, NOT a simple transaction. Interesting data shows how, although coaches are not specifically hired to help with people’s private life, often times, the line between personal and

Is An Innovation Contest What Your IT Team Needs Now?

images (43)How’s everything going for your team right now? I suspect that like most IT managers you’d say that everything is going “OK”. Yeah, yeah, things could be better, but they are not too bad. You and I both know that that’s an acceptable state to be in; however, you could be doing better. What you really want is for your team to be working together with a great deal of both energy and enthusiasm. What you need is a contest!

Why Contests Matter To Your Team

Contests are not easy. When you are able to use your IT manager skills to find a contest that you think that your team could compete in, you are going to have to have a discussion with your team. The heart of this discussion should be the difficulty level of the contest. Does the team think that they might have a shot at winning the contest? Expect the range of opinions on your team to vary from member to member.

One of the most powerful parts of participating in a contest is that they generally have very tight deadlines. Things

I Gotta Know

images (42)I love to learn. I read voraciously, always have since I was a little girl. I pay attention to people, to things in the world, to what is happening. I was raised by parents who valued learning, and I adopted their philosophy. You might be thinking- that is great, so what? Here is the thing, the drive to know can also be limiting.

I am so driven to know that when I make a mistake, I get upset with myself. I am much better about it after years of practice but it is still an unconscious automatic reaction to my mistakes (I am OK with other’s mistakes, as long as they fess up and fix them!). I am limited because I don’t like open-ended questions, and I stop discovering as soon as I have ‘the’ answer.

I am really committed to empowering people and especially women. I have this notion that we, together, can end the gender gap both in pay and influence, in my lifetime. Everything seems aligned for this- it is a hot topic. And I am still committed to that.

However, when I

Why Aren’t Our Networks Staying Up?

images (41)Does anyone besides me remember the phone system? You could be just about anywhere in the world at any time and you could pick up a phone, call someone, and your call would go right through. The Plain Old Telephone System (POTS) just worked. Now nothing is ever perfect and the POTS wasn’t perfect either, but it was 99.999% perfect which meant that it only didn’t work for about 5 minutes per year. Clearly, despite the importance of information technology, the networks that we’re designing and building today don’t work anywhere this reliably. Why not?

Network Outages Seem To Be A Part Of Life

Back in the day, when the phone network was “the network”, an outage was a big deal. It got stories written about it in papers and people talked about it on TV. The reason that it was such a big deal was because it didn’t happen very often. Things have certainly changed. In the first half of 2015 alone the NYSE halted trading because of a technical glitch and United Airlines had to ground all of their airlines because of problems

5 Steps To Better Relationships With Your Subordinates

images (40)How can you make your business team more productive? Today’s employees aren’t drones stuck in cubicles like a Dilbert cartoon. Your subordinates live in a social media world and expect personal engagement. Here are 5 ways to better relationships with your subordinates:

Know Yourself

The first step is to connect more deeply with your inner self and to use that self-realization as the basis for your leadership. Connecting to your callings, and learning to love and trust your intuition gives you confidence. When you act from fear and doubt, you won’t motivate anyone else to support organizational change; however, when you are sure of yourself, you inspire your subordinates to trust you.

Know Your Subordinates

Research shows that the most effective leaders have a high emotional intelligence, meaning they understand people and can read their thoughts and feelings. One way to become better at emotional intuition is to get to know your subordinates. Spend time with them and find out about their families, their interests outside of work, and their particular fears, strengths, and dreams. As you build personal relationships with subordinates they will develop trust in

Aligning KPIs With the Program Logic Model

images (38)Some governments and other organisations not driven by profit use versions of program logic or outcomes models. But just because they use a logic or outcome model, does not mean they automatically get great KPIs.

Program logic models visually map the cause-effect relationships that exist between the inputs, activities, outputs, and outcomes produced by their programs or projects, for specific stakeholders.

Program Logic models also provide a framework for assessing the impact achieved by the organisation’s application of resources to its programs. These models are intended for organisations whose impact is social change, such as reducing health problems from smoking, reducing water consumption in times of drought, increasing use of sunscreen to minimise the incidence of skin cancer, or reducing homelessness.

The input-activity-output-outcome thinking that program logic frameworks encourage is very helpful in keeping performance measures focused on what matters, and I would suggest this thinking is useful beyond just social change organisations.

But most of the program logic literature focuses on how to build a Program Logic model, not on the nitty-gritty steps to find and implement appropriate performance measures to evidence the progress and impact

3 Steps to Create Employee Accountability

images (39)Wouldn’t it be great if all of your employees do what they are supposed to do, and more? Employees have different levels of ‘accountability’ skills and in managing employees; you need to help them maximize this strength. Some people have it and with minimum direction seem to execute all that is required of them. Others get distracted, and at the end of the day, they were busy, but not necessarily productive.

Accountability is about taking responsibility and following through to completion on your commitments. In order to effectively manage employees, you need to know how to keep them accountable.

As a manager, you are responsible for keeping employees accountable and the employees are responsible for getting the work done.

How can you help build your employee’s “accountability muscles?”

Clear Around Priorities

I’ve heard from many employees how management keeps changing directions. They complain that there are too many projects going on at the same time. Where are you with department or company objectives? Are you clear on the company goals and have you communicated those goals to your employees?

In managing employees, this is your first priority? You

Emerging Trends in Project Management

images (36)We have seen 2015 to be a year of rise of the Agile and Scrum. We saw increase in maturity of Project Management among the IT Companies. PMI started to focus on Benefits Realization and Leadership skills for Project Managers.

We have also seen that there are no pure Agile projects in a organization and neither do we see organizations following agile in total. People have mixed projects in the organization and need for governance did not go away and more and more organizations following agile is also feeling the need for project management.

Based on my understanding and experience the following are the trends in Project Management that I foresee:

More use of Agile Delivery with governance through traditional project management:
We need to deliver faster using Agile Delivery capability. At the same time we need to have proper governance in Portfolio, Program and Project Management. Agile delivery will be for Project, Program and Portfolio Management. This gives the best of both worlds and can handle the practical need of speedy delivery and strong governance.

Use of multiple tools as best suited for the situation:

How To Address Poor Workload Management

images (35)You have noticed that your employee motivation is low- particularly because of stress due to an unmanageable workload. What can you do?

The fastest conclusion to reach is that there is an issue with time management- employees do not understand how to manage their time well. Signing them up for a time management class seems simple enough and you may think it will yield effective results. However, what if time management is not the underlying issue?

The problem may be simple: too much work. An overburdened employee is one who does not slack off, is focused on work with minimal breaks but yet cannot manage to complete all the tasks at hand. If an employee is consistently overworked, s/he may slowly become disengaged or disheartened.

As a manager, it is you job to be aware of the symptoms of poor workload management, as discussed in a previous post.

Now that you have recognized the issue, analyze the situation.

  • Is this workload issue contained to one employee or is it seen throughout the entire department?
  • Does this problem occur periodically or all the time?

Sit down and take the time to

The Importance Of Correctly Managing Working Capital And Cash Flow

download (9)As your business grows, the more necessary your working capital becomes. Working capital is the money your business requires to function. If you don’t have enough, then your business is bound to fail. It’s a fact that many businesses that seem to be thriving are forced to shut down because they don’t have the ability to pay off their short term debts when they are due.

For this reason, it’s really important to employ effective working capital management strategies. It’s common for businesses to have the need to loan the money used to finance their growth. Based on the credit worthiness of your business, financial institutions will decide whether to grant you a loan or not. Credit worthiness is determined by two main factors: the existence and extent of your collateral and the liquidity of your business. These are reflected on your balance sheet. You can determine this by getting the difference between your assets and your liabilities.

This difference and your working capital ratios give creditors an idea of just how capable you are of paying your bills. Technically, it is your investment in

How to Become a Project Manager – Selecting Your First Project

images (34)Having completed your project management studies you may feel well equipped to take on anything, no matter how challenging. However, as I am sure you have observed, some projects are more difficult than others. It would not be a good idea to take on something that will have you quickly stressed and wondering if you’re ever going to be successful.

Project complexity is always important to understand and it is something to pay special attention to when you are starting out. When I look at complexity, I look at two major aspects of a project i.e. technical complexity and stakeholder complexity.

Technical complexity refers to the difficulty associated with delivering what you are intended to deliver. Clearly building a garden shed is a lot less complex than designing and developing a rocket. What is important for you, is to ensure that you take on something that you are confident you can progress from the technical standpoint. In this regard it would be good for you to project manage something that you personally know how to deliver. If you have been a developer of sales and

A Shift in Focus

download (8)Did you wake up happy today? Did you jump out of bed excited to get to work because your work makes you feel valued, listened to and moving forward in your career and your life? Do you feel unwavering loyalty for your employer? Is your work ethic rock solid? Is this not the type of employees that businesses dream of; employees that are happy, loyal, and have great work ethics? The question is,

“How do employees and employers get to this ideal working environment?” Maybe, a shift in focus is needed.

Have you ever heard of appreciative inquiry? No? Then, today is your lucky day!

Here is the definition of what appreciative inquiry means, taken from the book-Appreciative Inquiry-A Positive Revolution in Change by David L. Cooperrider & Diana Whitney. (1)

“Appreciative Inquiry is the cooperative, coevolutionary, search for the best in people, their organization, and the world around them. It involves systematic discovery of what gives life to an organization or a community when it is most effective and most capable in economic, ecological, and human terms.” (1)

Imagine taking the focus off of what is wrong

Leadership – An Introduction

download (7)The objective of this article is to look at leadership in more general terms. Another article looks at leadership as it relates to innovation in more depth.

What is Leadership?

I believe that this is a difficult question to answer, as there are probably as many different opinions as there are economists! A summarised view is:

· Leadership is setting strategies;

· Leadership is thinking;

· Leadership is being visionary;

· Leadership is getting things done;

· Leadership is being trustworthy and inspirational.

All of us probably think that we are great leaders when we review this list and compare it to how we conduct business and ourselves. If that is the case, then we would not have any bad leaders, and this is clearly not the case.

The question, therefore, has to be this. What makes a leader a good leader?

My simple answer is this. To be a great leader, it is necessary to demonstrate your commitment and understanding of the above points.


Leaders need to spend time setting strategies. In order to set strategies, they need to spend time thinking. They need to think of