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Issues Facing IT Leaders: People, Technology, Innovation, Operations, Industry Trends, Etc.
 
Archive of previous months

Aug 22, 2017

Communicating with staff can help or save your job
A student in a management class I was teaching asked my advice regarding his boss. He said that when he spoke to his manager, the manager would just look at him with a blank stare, obviously thinking about something other than their conversation. He went on to say that it wouldn't be so bad if the discussion was just idle chatter, but it was extremely frustrating when he needed his boss's help to get his job done and was provided no support. We discussed a few potential strategies that he coul (Full Text . . .)
 

Aug 15, 2017

Leadership is a combination of vision and articulation
When some people see or hear a statement that resembles the title of this column, they often say something to the effect of 'Ya, ya , ya, I know, to be good a leader you must have a vision and then communicate with others. Bla bla bla.'

The reason for this, dare I say, uninspired attitude toward defining leadership as a combination of vision and articulation is twofold. First, is because it seems to be stating the obvious. Second, is because vision and articulation is only part of the leadersh
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Aug 8, 2017

Management's shades of grey
Experienced managers know that most business decisions can't be judged as simply right or wrong or as black and white. Most of the decisions made in a management capacity, particularly if the issue deals with employees, risk minimization, future planning, sales forecasting, are more art than science.

There is an old expression that says 'You gain the experience you need to effectively deal with a specific situation about fifteen minutes after the situation happens.' A second old expression de
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Aug 1, 2017

Managing digital natives and digital immigrants
The concept of digital natives and digital immigrants has been around for a number of years. There are various descriptions of what makes someone a digital native. The definition that I like best is a person who had the opportunity to use digital technologies during his/her formative years. These technologies could be video games, cell phones, computers, or any other similar type of technology. Digital immigrants are those who didn't have access to these digital technologies during their yout (Full Text . . .)
 

Jul 25, 2017

5 Ways to not become irrelevant to the team you manage
There is an old expression that says if you are not part of the solution then you are probably part of the problem. Before considering this expression as a manager, let's first consider it from the perspective of an employee. After all, if you are a manager by profession, you are most likely also an employee with a boss of your own.

That said, as the employee, what happens when your manager is not:

Jul 18, 2017

Name your projects based on the result you want
At first glance, which of the following projects do you think have the better chance of achieving their needed business results?
  • 'Sales Process Redesign' OR 'Revenue Growth Enhancement'
  • 'Business Intelligence System Implementation' OR 'Competitive Analysis Information Gathering'
  • 'Employee Inventory Skill List Enhancement' OR 'Talent Management Maximization'

When looking at the three comparisons above, my contention is that the names listed on the right
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Jul 11, 2017

Be skeptical and engaged not cynical: It fosters innovation
As the manager of a busy department with too much to do and not enough people to do it, it's easy to simply say no and walk away when a member of your staff suggests an idea for a new project, process improvement, or potential opportunity. The problem with this approach is that it sends the wrong message to the members of your staff. I'm not saying here that you should do every idea that your staff suggests, that would be impossible and, quite frankly, odds are that not all of the staff sugges (Full Text . . .)
 

Jul 4, 2017

Are you properly communicating to your staff?
As managers, one of our primary responsibilities is properly communicating with our staff. This communication could be task related, relaying announcements made by senior management, performance review oriented, or any one of many other business related topics. My question to you is: Are you properly communicating with your staff? According to extensive research conducted by Dr. Bruce Katcher, the president and founder of Discovery Surveys, Inc, and author of '30 Reasons Employees Hate Their (Full Text . . .)
 

Jun 27, 2017

Don't mix operational and non-operational tasks
Given the technically sounding title of this column, I thought it would be best to begin by explaining my definition of operational and non-operations tasks. Then, once defined, explain why you don't want to mix them.

Operational tasks are the mission critical activities and department processes that, by definition, take precedence over all other department activities. In Information Technology (IT) groups it's running the daily and nightly production. In Finance groups it's opening and clos
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Jun 20, 2017

Have an authentic management style
An enormous amount has been written regarding management styles, best practices, techniques, and theories. I applaud the authors, social scientists, academics, and business leaders whom have put their thoughts into print and have greatly forwarded the occupation of professional management. In fact, I have read many of their books and their collective thought has made me a better manager.

My first suggestion to you is to become a voracious reader and learn as much as you can from these thought
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Jun 13, 2017

Multi-tasking can be your friend
As a manager, it often seems that you are required do many things at once just to survive, let alone to succeed. If this is you, there are a number of easy multi-tasking techniques you can use to help you maximize your productivity.

  1. Delegate parts of tasks: One of the great things about being a manager is that you have the authority to delegate tasks to those who work for you. If used correctly, delegation can be used to let your staff help you multitask. For example, if your a (Full Text . . .)
     

Jun 6, 2017

4 ways to make work feel more like play
Who said that work can't be a little bit of fun? After all, we spend forty or more hours a week earning our weekly wage. I'm not suggesting that we don't work hard or that no matter how hard we try it will all be fun. I'm just saying that, if we have to be there anyway, we might as well try to enjoy ourselves. Additionally, as managers, we should try to make work fun, or at least as pleasant as possible, for those who work for us.

The previous paragraph may be a bit of a tongue twister and a
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May 30, 2017

The importance of process measurement
There is an old IBM advertisement. I don't remember the exact year, but I believe it was about fifteen years ago. The premise of the advertisement was that a person runs into his boss's office all excited that he saved the company a nickel (it may have been a dime, I don't exactly remember). His boss then says 'Big deal, so what if you saved the company five cents.' The employee then answers back by saying 'You don't understand, I just saved a nickel a transaction on five thousand transactio (Full Text . . .)
 

May 23, 2017

Get a quick win and then move forward
Consider the following questions.
  1. Have you ever taken on a big new project and not known exactly where to begin?
  2. Have you ever been asked by your boss the equivalent of what have you done for me lately?
  3. Have you ever taken a new job and wanted to start off on the right foot?
  4. Have you ever been negotiating a contract with a new vendor, potential employee, or client and can't seem to make any progress?

If so, the solution to all of these questions may be the same answer.
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May 16, 2017

Exercise can help improve your team's productivity
Did you know that certain types of exercise counteract the effects of poor posture endemic to people who work at desk jobs? Did you know that there are stretches you can do at your desk that can help improve your health? Did you know that exercise helps delay cognitive decline and hence, can help maximize the productivity of middle age and older workers? Well, I didn't either until I spoke with Ellen Cohen-Kaplan, an occupational therapist and personal trainer.

It's been well documented that
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May 9, 2017

Use social media as a management tool
As mangers, we are always looking for low cost ways to hire new employees, find quality consultants, and other standard management related tasks. Social media tools are the gentle giant that can help you achieve these tasks on a shoestring budget.

The first step toward being able to benefit by social media in this way is to begin using it. By using social media, I don't mean connecting to your family and friends on Facebook, even though that may, in fact, have some business value. I'm refe
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May 2, 2017

6 Ways to use job shadowing as a training technique
By its name, job shadowing may, at first glance, sound mysterious or secretive. Well, sorry, it's not. Job shadowing is the process of observing someone in the workplace with the specific goal of trying to understand what they do. Classically, job shadowing is used by students as a way of learning about a profession they are considering studying in school and potentially pursuing as their future livelihood. Take note, that this technique also can be used extremely effectively within the work (Full Text . . .)
 

Apr 25, 2017

Be the Manager and Chief Problem Solver
If companies had no business problems and every employee knew exactly what to do without instruction, then companies wouldn't need managers. Yes, that's right, they wouldn't need us. That said, next time your department has a problem that you must address or an employee needs your assistance, smile inside, from ear to ear, and know that your company needs you.

We all know that managers perform other department functions, such as defining department vision, defining and overseeing department p
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Apr 18, 2017

Beware of too many moving parts
In this week's blog I would like to tell you two stories dealing with managers who, as you may expect from the title, had too many things moving at once.

Story #1:
I was working with a small organization that was trying to replace its VP of Finance and its Head Bookkeeper at the same time. This may have sounded like a good thing at the time, but it caused the organization major problems. The reason was that the CEO underestimated the complexity of the accounting processes that were be
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Apr 11, 2017

Managing multi-taskers and single-taskers
Both types of people are enormously important and productive and I have no preference or bias toward either work type. In fact, I find myself to be continually vacillating from one to the other. I have days when I find myself jumping from task to task, seemingly working on many things at once. There are also times when I get in the zone working on a single task and can't seem to stop until that task is complete. Because I personally seem to vacillate between multi-tasking and single-tasking; (Full Text . . .)
 

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