Weekly achievements

I work in the technical department. One of the biggest problems of my department is that people inside the company in general have not a real understanding of what we are doing and on the problems we are facing. The exception is when something is not working or there is a problem that requires a technical solution. In that case everybody is looking at us waiting for the solution. Of course they do not have a clue on what the solution is but they understand clearly what are the implications of not having yet this solution, simply because it’s their problem and someone as to fix it as soon as possible.

The implications of all of this is that the point of contact between technical department and our customer (the rest of the company) is only in moments of crisis, pressure and in bad moments in general. Moreover, the same is happening inside the department. If you do your job and you are doing it well nobody is focusing on you and what you are doing. If you are doing the job in a sufficient way or with outstanding solutions is something that very few colleagues will realize, not even your boss. Of course when later a problem comes out because of a poor performance there is an ex-post evaluation of all your previous works (obviously with a bad attitude).

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So, the problem is – how to have a good perception of what is going on in your department focusing more on the positive results than in the problems?

I have got an idea about this and I ask to everybody reading this post to share it, if you believe it is worth spreading it.

The idea is very simple, I have asked to the people working in my department to send me every Friday afternoon an e-mail with the subject “weekly achievements” (so will be easy to filter on your e-mail client). The content of the e-mail should be just few bullet points focused on the achievements that everybody has done during the week.

The results of this practice have been impressive in the results. The wonderful thing is that now people tells me why they are satisfied and for what reason. Basically I have understood much more about their capabilities, their problems, their concerns with the weekly achievements than asking directly what you are doing and how is going. The principle is very easy, everybody of us have a different perception of what it’s easy and what it’s difficult and according to that the sense of satisfaction is very dependent on the progress made and the results achieved more than on the final outcome itself. These facts have profound implications in terms of managing people. Not only you understand better your peers perspective on the task, but you could easily guess their difficulties, their preferences and their skills. It is true even the opposite. If there are no achievements to underline or they do not propose any convincing task to be satisfied of, probably it means that the job assigned it’s not stimulating at all and that the tasks to be performed are just routine jobs and the sense of initiative and satisfaction is really low (and probably final outcome will be just acceptable in the best case). Knowing exactly all these situations allows you as a manager to leverage on the people’s potential, you can better motivate them and at the same time you could help them to improve and to target new challenges with the right help at the right moment. You could adapt the tasks to the right people, you could assign the jobs stimulating the initiative of your employees and even make them improve the most boring tasks creating the right process of involvement and leveraging on their own creativity.

If you think that this is good idea, spread it, try to apply it and share your findings on this blog and on the web. I’m looking forward to know the potential improvements that a similar approach has on your particular situation.

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How to restore lost trust

To build trust it could take years, to destroy it you need just few seconds.

The trust is like a plant, you need to take care of it, you need to feed it, to give water and minerals and so on. But when a plant is suffering it takes a lot of time to restore it to the original splendor.

The same is valid with our relationships and the trust that we create with them.

Here is an hit parade of how to restore a lost trust (from position 10 to 1):

10. Set an example,every single day

9. Be competent, committed and act with integrity in your business

8. Be aware of stakeholders’ requirements

7. Make your own position clear: “walk the talk”

6. Build and cultivate long-term relations

5. Accept and admit mistakes

4. Have consideration for and respect partners, competitors, stakeholders

3. Accept controlling and feedback as necessary control mechanisms

2. Say what you think and do what you say

1. Treat others as you would like to be treated or better treat others as they would like to be treated

 

 

This post is based on a presentation that I have assisted few weeks ago made by Emilio Galli Zugaro, head of Group Communications in Allianz.

 

The power of individuals

During the financial crisis of 2001 and 2008 we have assisted to a lot of bad guys who focused only on their personal results without caring at all about the possible consequences. The result of all these bad practices is clear nowadays to everybody – society has to pay the bill for that. Some magazines titles like “Can we ever trust wall street again?” are just illustrating the common thinking that all the people is having now in financial institutions and in big companies. Unfortunately there are plenty of examples in that direction.

But nowadays the traditional communication channels are changed. A reputation survey (trust.edelman.com) demonstrated that people believes that to evaluate a reputation of the company is extremely important if the company is “a company I can trust” (65%), just a little less than “high quality products” (69%), but definitely more than “delivers consistent financial returns to investors” (39%) and “widely admired leadership” (39%). So is more important to be trusted than the financial results or managerial leadership.
And the first primary source for evaluating the trust of a company is based on “conversation with company employees” more than “Live communication such as a CEO speech”.
Looking at institutions, people gives more trust to “people you meet for the first time” than in commercial enterprises or major banks.
This means that the trust of people to company and institutions is seriously compromised and to restore it will take a long time.
Then there is the web 2.0. Now there is the power of individuals. Every employee or customer or end user could blame a company for their behaviour. There are some “funny” stories like the United Airlines case that break the guitar of a singer which dedicated them a new song, or the Carrefour opening at Assago where a journalist behaviour against a kid caused big troubles to supermarket managers after the case exploded on internet and the word of mouth on Internet created serious problems of credibility to the company. There is a big series of examples of managers who have been forced to resign after public blame from the network that revealed some bad behaviour inside companies or after episodes of missing respect against some employees at work. Today everything is public.
Everybody in the company nowadays is important and can behave as a communicator or, if not respected, like a bomb who can create troubles to the company reputation. But in order to keep a good reputation for a company, managers have to be competent, concrete and trustable, they have to be aware of the stakeholders requirements, with dedication and motivation, putting the respect for the others at the first position of their priorities.

In the next post we will see how to cultivate trust or at least how to try to restore it.

Are you trustable?

The title of this post is not new, is something that is bouncing in my head from some weeks ago. I remember that I read an article about that (“Do your people trust you?“) and what I clearly remember is the most important question that every manager should ask themselves: “Are you trustable?” The answer could seem easy or maybe silly, but probably could be not so easy if made like this: “Do your employees define you as a trustable person?” The answer probably in this case is not so easy and could sound like “I don’t know” or even worst “I don’t care”.

But let’s start from the beginning. What do I mean when I say trust? Well, trust for me is a very deep and important form of relationship. Trust means that you “believe” in someone else’s words, in its motivations and that despite a possible disagreement his words have a great value and impact on your behavior (in the positive sense). When you trust someone you are going to do things that you normally don’t do by yourself. That you are going to consider way of thinkings, aspect of your life and so on in a different way, only because you trust him! When you trust someone is because you believe that he owns your respect. Been trustable for me it means that I put something of myself, thoughts, expectations, williness, energy, professionalism, in your hands because I think that this is an investment. And this investment is paying back for the “trust” that I have invested on you. So “trust” is kind of investment, probably the most important and risky investment that we have at our disposal.

Coming back to the first question “Do your employees define you as a trustable person?” Because if the answer is not, then how could you pretend they believe in you and that they do what has been told them to do? And if the answer is “I don’t know” then I think you have to hurry up and start to “know”. It is not something that you could analyze later. It is absolutely fundamental for yourself, for your career and for the relationship with the others. Sometimes we are too much focused in our own improvement that we do not realize that the key point of our improvement is the relationships that we have with our colleagues, with our employees, with our customers.

If you want to have the maximum from the people working for you, you have to give them the maximum of yourself. And that maximum is to be trustable! Is something that you have to be, despite the difficulties, despite the changed situations, despite any kind of challenge that you are facing or obstacles to overcome. Been trustable is the most important investment that you could make in your life.