Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Linked To LinkedIn

In case you haven’t gotten out much lately, LinkedIn, the social network for professionals, has been taking on greater importance on how people conduct business, learn, and network.

Information you include, or exclude, in your profile could affect your overall identity on the Internet as well as future job opportunities. The downfall of a poorly constructed LinkedIn profile, or utilizing bad etiquette, can alienate your connections or even turn away potential employers or customers interested in hiring you. You can’t afford that these days, so listen up.

A couple of important pieces of information to look closely at are your LinkedIn Summary and Biography.

Many magazine and website articles don't get read without a good headline. This is where a good Summary comes in. You need to be very concise and engaging in your Summary. If the Summary doesn't draw people in, all the great accomplishments you've had over the years may be looked right over. Then you’re just wasting your time.

The Summary is where you want to express your personal brand. Show us who you are, what you do, and why you’re unique.

A problem a lot of people have is not being quite so honest on their resume - tsk, tsk, tsk. I mean, who do you know that’s going to see it, right? LinkedIn encourages honesty in your resume since your profile may be viewed by any of your colleagues and customers – and bosses. So keep your experiences on the up and up.

While you want to include your past accomplishments, emphasize your strengths and highlights while providing background on your job responsibilities. You’ll need to shorten it up in order to be suitable for a few different areas of your industry. This isn’t the place for full on resume. Keep that for the recruiters.

In addition to a good Summary and Bio, here a couple of other quick tips to help you stand out.
- Most LinkedIn profiles URLs (web address, for you non-techs) will have a slash and then your name (/andyuskavitch). Some names (other than mine) can be common. You can change your URL to whatever you want – just make sure it’s professional and recognizable – no /studmuffin.
- Remember that you don't matter on the Web if Google can’t see you. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is public and includes keywords that people might search for.

Don’t just set up a profile and let it go. Use LinkedIn. Search to see who else you know. Post something AT LEAST a few times a week and get involved with some groups. You’ll be surprised how much you can learn and who you can meet.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

"Damn It Jim, I'm a Doctor, Not a Mechanic"

People are not machines! We’ve read it many times in leadership books. But just for shites and giggles, lets think like that for a moment. With a machine, you use it as it was designed to be used in accordance with its operating manual. But to effectively use it for a long period you would also have to include maintaining it in good condition (well lubricated, fueled or powered, overhauled, parts replaced when worn, etc).

You know that if we continued to use the machine and never properly cared for it, the machine would degrade steadily over time and eventually suffer some misfortune which would render it useless. Right? So you have to include routine preventive and corrective maintenance in order to "maintain" the machine in the best operating condition. The better we maintain it, the better its output. No rocket science here.

So really, are people any different than machines?

To be successful at maintaining machinery or a function like operations, you must thoroughly understand that machine or function, how it works and what it needs. Is it any different for managing people? Nah, not really.

You need to “maintain” your employees by keeping up high morale. You need to provide them a strong sense of ownership for their work and create an environment where they can use their full potential and creativity. Your employees need to be kept productive, motivated and committed in their work?

There’s one pretty significant difference between machines and people. People have a brain! They have the capability of deciding what, when, and how they should do something before actually doing it. Thinking this way would suggest that managing people is more about maintaining their natural abilities rather than just “using” them.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bombs Awaaaay

I was Googling around the Internet the other day and came across a leadership style that I’d never heard of – but it’s catchy. Being from Florida, it’s quite appropriate - “Seagull Management”. This is an expression used to describe a style of management where the person “flies in, poops on you, and then flies away again”. Gotta love it. It was actually referred to in Ken Blanchard's 1999 book 'Leadership and the One Minute Manager'.

When these folks are around, they typically give criticism and direction, often with no real understanding of what the job actually requires. Then, before you can object or try to clarify what they’re really looking for, they have an “important meeting” to get to – swoop, there they go. “Wow. Yuk. What just hit me?”

This type of management is by no means a positive one. When they’re around, these people talk continuously and actively discourage anyone else from saying anything. That includes avoiding eye contact and incessantly talking over people. Staff may typically feel under-valued and quite generally abused.

The Seagull Manager likes to think of themselves as important but they know they don’t know that much and fear being exposed by staff asking questions. So they immediately grab the reigns and don’t stop until they can duck out.

Seagull Management is something you need to AVOID . It may seem like an easy way to do things – swoop and leave - but it’ll alienate and demotivate your staff very quickly. The people above you will eventually find out what’s going on and your advancement will come to quick and painful death. So keep up good, meaningful relationships with your staff. Give them the time they deserve, respect, and communicate regularly AND with INTEGRITY.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

What Have I Gotten Myself Into?

You can look forward to many new duties as a new supervisor. So what can you expect? First off, supervisor duties WILL include employee interaction, and you will have the most direct contact with the employees. Interaction helps to assure that the work is meeting organizational goals. Part of this will be making sure that people receive the training they need to do their jobs capably. Otherwise you’re fighting a losing battle.

The smart supervisor delegates some of thier work, and training could be part of this. In many different environments, the supervisor may not have the technical know how of line staff, and the training assignment may very well be delegated to other staff or technical groups, like engineers, instead. For supervisors that have risen from the ranks, they might choose to do as much of the training as possible. Training should include basic things such as work ethics and work responsibility . . . don’t just rely on the dreeded Orientation Week (or two) training. Ideally, training should never stop, and though less intensive, providing a continuing work/learning environment will be most valuable.

Supervising also includes MOTIVATION. Yes you! Some supervisor duties could include offering incentives or assigning special projects. Motivation should be reflected in the way staff get treated by their supervisors. They look up to you. Typically motivation is highest when staff feel valued and appreciated and when they see that you work as hard as they do - this is key – money doesn’t always talk. Walk the Talk.

One of the supervisor duties that you also may have is scheduling. Many supervisors will have the responsibility of determining when and how much each staff will work each week. This could be flexible, or it might stay relatively fixed.

In working with management, duties can be much more extensive. You could also be responsible for disciplining employees that break the rules, implementing new rules, or in stricter organizations (yuk) occasionally acting as a liaison if an employee wants to approach management (don’t work there). Some supervisors will also handle HR functions to hire and fire employees, or handle payroll.

Those that are interested in a career in supervision will find MANY possible paths. A lot of people get hired from line staff positions. Others are hired directly into supervisory roles. Having strong people skills, being precise in your work, and demonstrating responsibility are all valuable attributes to have.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Hey, Look at Me!!

LOOK and LISTEN. When you become a new supervisor your fellow supervisors immediately become your best resource. Don’t overlook them!! You can definitely tell the good ones from the not so good ones. Learn from them all.

I got my Bachelors Degree through Southern Illinois University – in Florida. It was a full program except the instructors weren’t professors that have been in a classroom for 15 years. They were actual working medical directors, finance officers, and administrators. I didn’t get taught with a 10 year old text book. I got the most up-to-date and firsthand information possible. The information that I learned made much more sense to me that way. This is the same thing you’re going to be doing. Take advantage of it.

Look and listen to how your fellow supervisors handle different situations. Note the impact their decisions have on staff, other supervisors, and customers. Compare the “tough guys” and “nice guys”. Do staff want to work for them? Do they want to come to work? Are they productive? How are their attitudes towards staff? Are they working together, or as individuals?

Once you begin to gain knowledge, you have to put it into practice. Keep these four things in mind:
- Take time to assess problems. What works and what doesn’t? Why or why not? Remember that "Rome wasn’t built in a day". Concentrate on the most important issues first.
- Take a close look at yourself. What do you do that helps or hinders staff in doing their jobs? Do you support them and the organizations rules and goals?
- Try out the things you’ve learned from observing other supervisors.
- Step back and watch what happens --- You’ll see the difference you’re making.