Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Professional Development: What Works

Professional Development: What Works
New Book Alert: Professional Development: What Works, by Sally J. Zepeda, professor at the University of Georgia in the Department of Lifelong Education, Administration and Policy.

Published less than a month ago by a joint between Eye On Education and the National Staff Development Council, Dr. Zepeda has created "a robust balance of research, theory, and practice" in this, her 17th book.

Per Dr. Zepeda: "I am indebted to the teachers, professional development consultants, principals, and higher education faculty who allowed their practices to be included in this book. These practices are exemplary."

Indeed, one such "outside resource" whose work was discussed (pages 191-193) was yours truly, Barry Zweibel.

Thank you, Sally. I admire your ongoing passion for, commitment to, and leadership in, furthering the ongoing professional development of others.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Motivation 301: Get Them to Desire the Right Things

"If you want to build a ship, don't drum up the men to go to the forest to gather wood, saw it, and nail the planks together. Instead, teach them the desire for the sea." - Antoine de Saint Exupéry

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

More Needed than Good Work

On Friday, May 14th, the University of Chicago hosted its 52nd annual management conference. A major theme: It's not enough to do good work.

"Reputations flourish not simply because you do good work but because people tell stories about your good work," reported Ronald Burt, professor of sociology and strategy." Simply put, the more people talk about your good work, the better your performance reviews (and raises and bonuses) will be. This is especially true when others talk about your good work to people in different parts of the company. It seems that when this type of information crosses department boundaries, it's seen as significantly more credible and newsworthy and naturally boosts your reputation.

But how can you get someone else to talk about your achievements like that? Well according to Burt, it also seems that 'network entrepreneurs' - those who talk to people in many different areas of the company - are part of many different interpersonal networks and as a result, are thought to be smarter and more creative than most. That also tends to translate into better performance reviews (and raises and bonuses).

So if you're looking to improve your reputation, it seems that there are three important steps to take:

Step One - Do good work.

Step Two - Start talking about your good work to those 'network entrepreneurs' so they can start talking about it too.

Step Three - Become a network entrepreneur yourself and start talking to people outside of your direct area of responsibility. You can easily start by asking others who they see as particularly smart and creative in the company and then go from there.

Mid-year reviews are coming. So don't delay.

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Friday, May 9, 2008

Life on Track: In a Minute You Could ...

(a) Be grateful - Write a thank-you card.

(b) Relax - Close your eyes, breathe deeply and slowly three times.

(c) Connect - Pick up the phone to call someone you haven't seen in a while.

(d) Gain Perspective - Look out the window toward the horizon.

(e) Think about you - List three things you like the most.

Hey, it's your life, do something wonderful with it ... as in the next 60 seconds!

----
from the April/May 2008 edition of Success magazine
Stopwatch picture courtesy of Wikipedia

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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

How Are You Holding Your Staff Accountable?

  • Do you assign tasks to your direct reports that never get done?
  • Do you find that if you don't follow-up on open items you never hear about them again?
  • Do you have to repeatedly remind people to do what they said they would?
  • Do you believe that the quality of the work coming back to you is sub-standard?
  • Do you not delegate as much as you might because it's just easier to do it yourself?

Worry not - or at least don't worry a lot about it. The bad news is that you're likely not holding your staff sufficiently accountable for the 'extra' work you give them. The good news, though, is that it's not all that difficult to change that. You simply need to get a little clearer with them about your assignments and their implications:

  • The Who - "Here's why I'm choosing you do work on this assignment..." - Maybe it's because it's in the person's area of responsibility, maybe it's because you see this as an important developmental stretch for the person, maybe it's because of some particular competency the individual possesses. Regardless, be clear to whoever is the "Who" that s/he is the "Who."
  • The What - "Here's what I specifically want you to accomplish..." - Try being more specific about what you want than you usually are. So if you want pie charts instead of bar graphs for some reason, say so on the front end, before the work is completed. If you want a year-over-year analysis when it's more typical to just give YTD figures, specifically say so. If you want a detailed plan, explain what you mean by "detailed." Since you're the one giving the assignment, you get to be the one who asks for what you really want, not just for something in the neighborhood. And that includes what types of interim updates you want from the person, along the way, as well.
  • The Why - "Here's the reason why I want you to do this..." - Don't underestimate the value of explaining your Why to people. It really helps. Two caveats, though: (1) if you're in a real crisis situation (not just feeling under pressure) you may not have time to explain the Why, so quickly state that fact and offer to provide the additional background information about your request once the crisis subsides, if the person is still interested; (2) if it's clear that your delegatee truly understands the Why already, it may not be necessary to provide line-and-verse about it. It's best to be sure, though, which you can do by simply asking them to explain to you the Why. Don't forget to explain the Why behind your those interim updates you want, either.
  • The When -"I'd like to get the finished product back from you by..." - Back in my days in the telecommunications world I worked with a purchasing agent (I'll call her Phyllis) who taught me a very important lesson about the When. I needed some telecom gear in a hurry, so I filled out the necessary paperwork and in the box that asked "When Needed" I put the letters ASAP, meaning As Soon As Possible. When the gear didn't come, I went to visit Phyllis personally to find out what was (not) going on. "Didn't you see my ASAP?" I asked her. "Yes, I did," she replied, "But Barry, you have to understand, I'm a very busy person. And there are only so many hours in a day. It was just not possible for me to get to your request yet." And she was dead-serious. "So what am I supposed to do if I really need something right away, Phyllis?" I asked while teetering on the edge of insanity. "Oh, that's easy, just put today's date in the When Needed box on the form," she said with a smile that curiously made it seem like she was really trying to be helpful. "Really?!" "Yes, really!" So a few days later I tried Phyllis' suggestion ... and you know what? It worked perfectly! The moral of this story: Make sure you're asking for the right When in the right way. And that includes the When you want those interim updates, too.

There's the Where and the How, too, but I'll leave them to you to figure out.

I'll also leave to you an obvious implication of all of this: You'll likely need to think through the Who, What, Why, When, Where, and How a bit more before you start to delegate. If you do, though, I guarantee it will be time well spent.

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