Archive for January, 2008

When managing by email is just not effective

In today’s modern world where technology has become tightly integrated in business, email has become a very popular tool in business. From sending project proposals to congratulating a colleague, email has become a part of our daily communications. But the ease of use of this technology has become one of the reasons for ineffective management. Instead of holding a meeting with team members, email exchanges fill inboxes with comments about meeting agenda. Instead of walking a few meters, if not feet, away to shake the hand of the top employee, we shoot emails instead. Email has been one of the reasons for diminishing interpersonal relationship, which is a necessary ingredient in any organization. There are even public courses on managing by email. Although, the global economy has introduced such concepts as virtual teams which need to be managed virtually as well, there is still no substitute for plain and simple direct, interpersonal communication. Plus, this introduces a lot of miscommunication and sometimes consumes a couple of megabytes of hard disk space just to get to the point because the message was misunderstood (this hard disk space issue is a big deal to a lot of IT professionals, especially to those who manage mail servers). Managers expect a lot from their subordinates while overlooking one very important facet of life – humanity. People still need to feel that their inner desire to be treated as human beings, and not just means to an end as far as business entities are concerned, is met. People are people with emotional needs and sometimes, those needs, when met, define the difference between empowerment and discouragement.

I like what Fred Thompson, former CEO of Jane Goodall Institute, said about managing by email.

I have a strong aversion to managing by email (also to cleaning out my mailbox!). If it’s really important, I ask my staffers to care enough to phone me, or … walk down the hall and actually see me. That gets my attention. It’s always amazed me how people in offices right next to one another will persist in communicating vital information exclusively by email. I really hate it when someone confuses sending an email with taking ownership or accountability.”

JCPenney, in a ad, has this to say about their store managers.

Our Store Manger’s are not walking around with a PDA checking off to-do’s or sitting in an office managing by email. Our Store Managers want four-wall accountability, to get involved, engage customers and develop their Associates for bigger and better roles. In our promote from within culture we want leaders, not just managers.

One of the best examples of NOT managing by email I have ever heard was a story by Tim Sanders entitled The XBOX Story. Go check it out.

Categories: Uncategorized

So I’m a Millenial – When the world does not adopt

I was reading an article by the Harvard Business School entitled How Will Millenials Manage? and was fascinated how I was branded. The article calls the next generation of managers as such. Here’s a brief description taken from the article.

They are generally bright, cheery, seemingly well-adjusted, and cooperative. They’ll pull an “all-nighter” for a good reason, but they won’t let that kind of thing intrude regularly on their personal lives. Their work styles are sometimes confounding. They need to work in a social environment, often one that would appear to some of us as chaotic. This means, however, that they are very good at working in teams. They are good at multi-tasking, understand how to employ technology productively, and as a result can often produce good work at what appears to be the last minute. They are focused on their own personal development. They want an accelerated path to success, often exaggerate the impact of their own contributions, are not willing “to pay the price,” and have little fear of authority. As a result, they are often not a good bet for long-term employment, because they are quite willing to seek other employment (or no employment) rather than remain in a job in which they are not growing. They want their managers to understand their needs and lay out career options.

This is how we are described, people who were born during the late 70’s to the late 80’s. It’s fascinating how generations and their behavior changes with time. But not too many of us. Sad to say that there are still a lot of organizations and people who do not see how important it is to adopt thru the changes. And this is costly as far as businesses and individuals are concerned. One comment in this article points out, “Business which are not adapting, and remain married to the process of blindly searching for degrees and certifications, and who judge employee reliability based on “time served” at other companies are failing to attract, hire, or retain the high knowledge workers.” I’m a victim to this kind of mindset. The hiring process for most organizations still looks for degrees and certifications instead of looking at the individual. Now, I’m not a big fan of Ivy Leagues and PhDs but one of the reason I am still keen on pursuing an advanced degree is to change this mindset particularly in the Asian region. There are a lot of talented individuals out there, most of them didn’t even have a college degree nor a certification to flaunt but are a lot better at creatively solving problems, getting things done and, not to mention, making and keeping social relationships which is a necessity to being an effective leader. The reality still remains that a new generation is ready to take the leadership mantle from the older generation. But unless we adopt to changing times, we’ll lose out on the next generation of leaders.

So, anybody looking for new recruits? You may have missed that one going out of the door after that very recent interview.

Categories: Uncategorized

Seizing Opportunities

I’m back to blogging after a 17-day vacation in the Philippines. My pastor friend, Fred Abad from Cornerstone Christian Church in Quezon City, Philippines asked me to preach at their last service on the first Sunday of the year. What a way to start 2008! Let me highlight that I am not a pastor nor a preacher, didn’t even go to Bible school or whatever. I am an IT professional focusing on Microsoft technologies (isn’t that what my profile says after all?), a part of the professional workforce. What am I going to share to the congregation? During the last Sunday service of 2007, Fred happened to be talking about “Taking Risks” which, apparently, was taken from the series by Mark Batterson of National Community Church in Washington, DC from his book In a Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day (well, I did give him the resources). Now, I didn’t know he was going to share that until I heard him speak. I guess God wanted me to share something from this book after all. I have been reading this series for more than a month now and I felt God telling me to share anything from this book with a touch of relevance. Like I said, I ain’t no pastor. This is what I did.

Seizing Opportunities

Let me first highlight that I am not a pastor nor a preacher, not an evangelist, apostle nor a prophet. I didn’t go to Bible school though I taught kids’ Sunday School and vacation Bible School way back. I am an IT Professional, working for a global company. I’m like most of you – working thru a 9-5 job (although in our case, it is often more than that) expecting a paycheck at the end of the month. That’s why when Fred asked me to share something, I just didn’t feel comfortable. But I believe God is doing something in everybody worthwhile to tell. I’m going to share about seizing opportunites this 2008. This was taken from the book In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day by Mark Batterson. This book talks about Benaiah in 2 Samuel 23:20 and how he ended up to be in the Scriptures. Let me start off by telling you a story of two very popular icons. First, Starbucks. Everybody knows what this is. You’ve probably had a cup or two this week. But what’s fascinating about Starbucks is it’s success history. Let me quote Howard Schultz from his autobiography Pour Your Heart Into It

This is my moment, I thought. If I don’t seize the opportunity, if I don’t step out of my comfort zone and risk it all, if I let too much time tick on, my moment will pass. I knew that if I didn’t take advantage of this opportunity, I would replay it in my mind for my whole life, wondering: What if?

He had an opportunity and he seized it. The next icon is very popular to all burger lovers. You wouldn’t believe that this giant burger chain was started by a multi-mixer milkshake machine salesman, Ray Croc. He mortgaged his home and invested his entire life savings to become the exclusive distributor of a five-spindled milk shake maker called the Multimixer. This became his gateway to McDonald’s. Imagine investing your entire life savings and venturing on a business journey. Now, let me frame the concept of seizing opportunities from a Biblical perspective. Enter Colossians 4:5b wher it tells us to “make the most of every opportunity.” I’ve taken these qoutes and lived by them ever since I’ve read about them. The first one is from
Whitney M. Young, Jr. (American social reformer, 1921-1971) who said, “It is better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one than to have an opportunity and not be prepared. ” Over the years, I’ve come up with my own quote which says, “If you don’t have an opportunity, create one.” I like what Mark Batterson said about seizing opportunities, “Seeing and seizing opportunities is an underappreciated dimension of spiritual maturity.” And I thought spiritual maturity has something to do with simply praying and reading your Bible and going to spiritual meetings. I was wrong. God intend for us to experience
life to its fullest. That’s what Jesus came here for. And seeing and seizing opportunities should be a part of our spritual life. But how do we seize the opporunities that come? How do we know they’re the right ones? I think the answer lies in Collosians 4:2 PRAY. This gives us the sensitivity to see and seize opportunities, even if they mask themselves as problems or adversities. I pray that this 2008, may we see and seize opportunities as God wants us to. May we have the courage to step up and seize those opporunities that God has lined our way knowing that Christ intended for us to live life to it’s fullest.

Categories: Leadership Lessons