Archive: May, 2019

Post from Transformation Tom- Share Best Practices: Chapter from “The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas”

Posted by tomdowd - May 27, 2019 - News
0

share best practices

I once managed a team of about fifteen people who were situated next
to another team about the same size. We were starting up a new business
on site. It was exciting times and we recruited and hired the best and the
brightest people. My peer on the other team and I made the unspoken
decision to not share our ideas or best practices with each other. We were
both stubborn and competitive, and we were most likely hoarding our
knowledge and team ideas to help ourselves look better in the eyes of our
manager in the hopes of advancing ourselves. I guess this was an effort to
step on each other on the way up the corporate ladder.
We sat in the same staff meetings and were often eager to share our
team successes with our manager, but we never sat down together, just
the two of us, to share ideas that made our new department successful.
We knew one another’s team statistics and rankings as much as our own
team’s results. However, we never did anything together to build cohesion
among the overall group, including mutual meetings or team events
unless specifically directed by our manager.
When the focus group feedback came in, it was miserable for both
of us. We were perceived as non-team players and our rationale was
shrouded in mystery as to why we made such an effort to separate the
teams. The focus group desperately wanted team events, even as simple
as food days. They couldn’t figure out why we seemed to get along with
each other but held back on creating an environment in which everyone
wanted to work together. What was interesting was that we enjoyed each
other’s company, but allowed the passive-aggressive competitiveness to
get the best of us when we were working together.
The employees were confused, the teams suffered, and the new business
suffered from our poor leadership. Neither one of us found the fast
track up that corporate ladder we so desperately fought each other over.
Competition is a great motivator when used correctly, and can be used
to sustain performance. Two managers lacking the ability to build cohesion
who negatively impact motivation do not create the most conducive
environment to share best practices, or inspire people to perform.
The focus group feedback threw the cold water on our faces we both
deserved. The next steps were easy. We invested time together on a routine
basis, and made it obvious to everyone that we were on the same
team. We shared our focus group feedback details and the actions we
were planning to do to fix the issues. The manager was impressed. The
teams came together. We had more ideas generated from the combined
effort. The competition didn’t go away, but it was more targeted and more
fun. We began to set the bar even higher when we competed against other
regions doing the same job function, and set the tone and performance
bar for the company. We both learned a valuable lesson that two (or
more) heads are much better than one. We continued to work together
and saw the value of our efforts once we realized that there was plenty of
room for both of us to advance. If that wasn’t the case, then it would be
because the best person earned it. We knew that each of us were now considered
a great team player and others would see our value soon enough.
Years later, we both continued with our successful careers, both still
learning all the way. We crossed paths often, and when we didn’t, we
called each other periodically to ask questions and share information.
In fact, we met recently and discussed ideas about a new role that he was
interested in. He ended up getting an executive position, and I was very
proud of him. Best practices strengthen the core of the team, ensure the
competency of everyone around you, and assist in building the capabilities
of an ever-changing business model.
This book is my concerted effort to share many best practices I have
picked up over the years. Most are not original or even earth-shattering
creative ideas. I have learned that I do not have to be the creator of the
idea; I just need to be the one to move it forward and pass it on. Even
when giving proper credit to the creator, I am often thanked for taking
the time to share with others. Be a team player and don’t let individual
goals or the wrong motivation drive the wrong behavior. You may find
short-term gains by withholding information, but it will eventually hurt
you individually, and it is not good for the overall business. This doesn’t
mean “nice guys finish last”. It does means that you can get there together.

Thomas B. Dowd III’s books available in softcover, eBook, and audiobook (From Fear to Success only):

  • Now What? The Ultimate Graduation Gift for Professional Success
  • Time Management Manifesto: Expert Strategies to Create an Effective Work/Life Balance
  • Displacement Day: When My Job was Looking for a Job…A Reference Guide to Finding Work
  • The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World
  • From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide received the Gold Medal at the 2013 Axiom Business Book Awards in Business Reference
  • The Unofficial Guide to Fatherhood

See “Products” for details on www.transformationtom.com.  Book and eBook purchase options are also available on Amazon- Please click the link to be re-directed: Amazon.com

MP3 Downloads of “From Fear to Success:  A Practical Public-speaking Guide” are available at Apple iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Emusic, Nokia, Xbox Music, Spotify, Omnifone, Google Music Store, Rdio, Muve Music, Bloom.fm, Slacker Radio, MediaNet, 7digital, 24-7, Rumblefish, and Shazam “From Fear to Success” MP3 on CD Baby

Post from Transformation Tom- Do Stuff You Love: Chapter from “The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas”

Posted by tomdowd - May 20, 2019 - News
0

do-what-you-love1

There are two thought processes when it comes to career movement
and development within a corporation. First, you should become an
expert in your field and hone your trade so you are the go-to person.
Businesses are in need of in-depth expertise—specialists. If a business is
in constant flux with transitioning people from place to place, there will
be instability and constant learning curves that may be steep. The second
opinion is one in which you are in a constant learning mode and moving
from one place or another. If your company is large enough, you have the
opportunity to move throughout the organization to broaden your depth
of knowledge—generalists. This thought process is about bringing your
expertise with you from the past areas to come up with creative and fresh
ideas for your new area. I averaged about eighteen months per position
prior to eventually moving on. There have been very few times when I
said I had learned everything I ever needed to know where I was, and
there are fewer times when I could say that there was nothing to learn or
share in the new position.
Businesses need both types of leaders—specialists and generalists—
in their organization. Companies need people who know the business
intimately and people who have a broad base across multiple aspects of
the business to give it perspective. The decision within a corporate culture
about moving or staying is up to company expectations, and as importantly,
it is up to what the individual wants. Personally, I seem to thrive
as a generalist, but that has been a choice. I have rarely been bored in
any of my roles, but I find I also get an itch to continue to learn different
pieces of the business. Even when I went back to previous departments,
I was typically in a new role and the business had changed significantly. I
moved with my family multiple times as a child to many states because of
my dad’s job. I guess moving around so many times growing up made it
seem natural to be in a constant state of change with new positions. I was
flexible and eager for all new challenges.
What is important is that you love what you do and do stuff you love.
Whether you are doing many different things or the same thing each day,
you should love it. There will be bad days, frustrating days, and days you
may think will never end. However, regardless of what your motivation
is to go to work every day, can you find something about your job you
like? Whether you like the challenge of finding solutions to problems or
enjoy the people you work with, there needs to be some piece of what
you do that you love. I love the different learning experiences. I love the
challenge of fixing problems. I enjoy the people I work with (most of the
time). I love that I was never pigeon-holed into one spot.
I wouldn’t want anyone to regret never trying something different
career-wise after doing the same thing and going to the same desk for
twenty-plus years. I have talked to too many people who want to try new
and different things—they need variety. As someone who studied people
retention, and just being an observer of those around me, there are some
employees who are miserable where they are and need a change. With
the understanding that some people are just hanging onto their jobs for
a paycheck, and the economy may dictate openings in a field, if you have
the chance to choose, take advantage of it. Let me make it clear that people
always have a choice to leave. There may be some timing constraints,
or other mitigating factors that hold you back, but there shouldn’t be
twenty years when you didn’t have some type of opportunity to grow or
make a decision to move on. You have choices to make the job something
you love or to move into something else that you will love.
As an employee you should be proactive in finding out about the
overall business and understand what gets your interests and juices flowing.
If you look around and find that what you are doing is still great,
guess what—you found something you love. If you find other places
where you feel you can make a difference or want to learn about that
aspect of the business, approach someone. Let people know what your
interests are. I never went to school to be a banker. In fact, I did what I
could to avoid numbers. I’ve had positions where I was a business analyst,
where I managed reporting and incentives, oversaw certain aspects
of the budget, and used all of my skills. I am a banker now and have no
plans to leave banking. I am fascinated every day about how much there
is to banking, whether it is credit cards, ATM and debit cards, mortgage,
financing, savings, checking, and investments. I love what I do. When I
didn’t love what I was doing at any given time, after I gave it ample time to
fully grasp my satisfaction level, I pursued other things. I often joke with
my managers that I can’t keep a job. I’m not sure if people are kicking me
out or if I am a wanted person. In either case, I have typically landed on
my feet in a place where I made a difference; in a place, I loved to work.

Thomas B. Dowd III’s books available in softcover, eBook, and audiobook (From Fear to Success only):

  • Now What? The Ultimate Graduation Gift for Professional Success
  • Time Management Manifesto: Expert Strategies to Create an Effective Work/Life Balance
  • Displacement Day: When My Job was Looking for a Job…A Reference Guide to Finding Work
  • The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World
  • From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide received the Gold Medal at the 2013 Axiom Business Book Awards in Business Reference
  • The Unofficial Guide to Fatherhood

See “Products” for details on www.transformationtom.com.  Book and eBook purchase options are also available on Amazon- Please click the link to be re-directed: Amazon.com

MP3 Downloads of “From Fear to Success:  A Practical Public-speaking Guide” are available at Apple iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Emusic, Nokia, Xbox Music, Spotify, Omnifone, Google Music Store, Rdio, Muve Music, Bloom.fm, Slacker Radio, MediaNet, 7digital, 24-7, Rumblefish, and Shazam “From Fear to Success” MP3 on CD Baby

Give People Second Chances

Posted by tomdowd - May 13, 2019 - Leadership, News
1

second chance

I always seemed to wind up working for people who looked out for me
and were willing to give me second chances. Even as I griped about my
managers and blamed them for many of my downfalls, I was still asked to
go with them as they changed jobs within my company. In a corporation employing thousands of people, I had many years in which I seemed to work for people willing to give me second chances at a time in my career when I thought I was making too many mistakes. I thought, at times, that they were protecting me. What I found was that these special managers were not protecting me—they were willing to give me a second chance because they knew my strengths better than I did. Over the years, as I gained confidence and learned more about the business on my own, they saw my maturity even before I did. The people who gave me a second chance knew I would give everything I had for the business, and knew I was learning from my mistakes. Additionally, I was learning to own up to my mistakes and was making it an active practice to teach others by sharing what I had learned from my lessons.

In one of my first positions managing managers, I was new and naïve
to the role. I was previously a micromanager and I had stayed steadfast to
personnel policies. When I should have been a level higher than where
I was in order to manage managers, I was really a glorified version of a
manager because I knew the technicalities of the business but did not
understand how to manage it.

My manager invested his time with me, as I was new to the role. He
had a certain tone he used when I made mistakes, but sought to make
them teaching opportunities. I still couldn’t break out of the glorified
manager mentality, even though I was supposed to be a level higher. Mistakes
were made, and we both felt I was not coming up the learning curve
quickly enough. However, he made the effort to make me better and gave
me opportunities even though I was convinced I had not reached his
expectations. When he left the department, I appreciated his time and
dedication, and told him I would continue to make the effort to improve.
I was a little surprised when I got a call to join him in his new department.
I had previously worked in that department and could bring my
job knowledge. But why would he want me when he knew exactly what I
was—and was not— capable of? I’m now convinced that that was why he
made the call to me. He knew exactly what I could and could not do, and
he still saw the potential.

I thought then that I was still too naïve to truly lead the department,
since I needed to develop my own confidence level. I began to think that
I was being harder on myself about being perfect than I needed to be, but
I still lacked confidence. I was surrounded by tenured peers who I let take
control of meetings and drive the conversations. My confidence was not
growing, but my frustration was.

We used to have an annual event that was supposed to be fun, I did not engage in the event as much
as I should have. My avoidance of the event, which was supposed to
include tasteful practical jokes, only caused more unwanted attention
directed my way. As a result, I became an unwilling target. I felt an obligation
to defend myself and my team and went on the offensive halfway
through the month, after giving in to the pressure to participate. My
team and I devised some creative practical jokes that walked a fine line
of professionalism and ultimately landed me in hot water with Human
Resources. I pushed the limits out of frustration rather than simply playing
along from the beginning.

Whatever frustrations I had with the event remained bottled up
until my manager had to sit me down and explain his concerns about my
actions. I let it all out, including my disdain for the event, my growing
disrespect for my peers, and the fact that I felt forced into doing things
I was not comfortable with. I came to the realization that I was the only
one accountable to make the decision to do what I had done. I didn’t
think through the unintended consequences and the impact I would have
on my team and my peers. I vented and he listened, then we had a phenomenal
conversation. The conversation was straightforward and should
have occurred prior to allowing the frustration to build up.

As much as I was embarrassed that we had to have the HR discussion,
I needed it. I maintained my job with a solid slap on the wrist, and
learned some lessons. However, I was not convinced that I would ever
work for this person again, since it was a pretty big mistake in my eyes
relating to people management.As is the nature of our business, he moved on to another department.

I received another call six months later. He wanted me to work for him
again in a department that was full of newer managers. I jumped at the
chance because I wanted to prove myself to him, and I saw an opportunity
to teach all of my new peers to avoid my past mistakes relating to
people management. I saw my chance to give back and be the leader I
wanted to be. For three months, I was able to accomplish this and a lot
more. I felt like I had made a name for myself in this new department and
that I was there making a difference. I was asking questions and driving
the business. My questions landed me in a three-month task force that
lasted for over two years. Guess who joined me after I left his department,
two days later? You guessed it—he moved to my new department as my
manager, again. He apparently had had some inkling as to his next move
and wanted me to be there with him. He knew exactly what he was getting,
and he seemed pretty happy to know who had his back.

Through my career, I’ve sometimes perceived that I’ve been in the
wrong place at the wrong time, and sometimes I’ve felt that I’ve been in
the right place at the right time. I was learning to go with the flow and
learn from my mistakes. I also learned to give second chances. As a perfectionist,
I know that no one, including myself, is perfect. We can all
strive to do our best. I have always been appreciative of people willing
to give me tough feedback, even when I didn’t think I wanted to hear
it. I became a manager known for openly sharing my mistakes to help
others. In fact, a few times when I thought my people were holding back
out of fear of making mistakes, I started a regular event in our weekly
staff meetings to share our “MOW: Mistake of the Week.” We shared what
we had learned through the week and found that we all made mistakes.
We were willing to take calculated risks, work together as a team, and be
more creative. I now actively recruit people I know have made mistakes,
who are willing to own them and learn from them. I have found that giving
people second chances only strengthens the team and the individual’s
efforts.

Thomas B. Dowd III’s books available in softcover, eBook, and audiobook (From Fear to Success only):

  • Now What? The Ultimate Graduation Gift for Professional Success
  • Time Management Manifesto: Expert Strategies to Create an Effective Work/Life Balance
  • Displacement Day: When My Job was Looking for a Job…A Reference Guide to Finding Work
  • The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World
  • From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide received the Gold Medal at the 2013 Axiom Business Book Awards in Business Reference
  • The Unofficial Guide to Fatherhood

See “Products” for details on www.transformationtom.com.  Book and eBook purchase options are also available on Amazon- Please click the link to be re-directed: Amazon.com

MP3 Downloads of “From Fear to Success:  A Practical Public-speaking Guide” are available at Apple iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Emusic, Nokia, Xbox Music, Spotify, Omnifone, Google Music Store, Rdio, Muve Music, Bloom.fm, Slacker Radio, MediaNet, 7digital, 24-7, Rumblefish, and Shazam “From Fear to Success” MP3 on CD Baby

Post from Transformation Tom- Balance Being a Leader and a Doer— You Can’t Do Both at the Same Time: Chapter from “The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas”

Posted by tomdowd - May 5, 2019 - Leadership, News
0

leader doerOn my mentor and networking monthly rotation, there was a question I asked of two leaders who had some familiarity of my background and reputation. I asked, “What would it take to get to the next level?” since I felt all of my recent moves were lateral. I was surprised to hear similar answers from these two respected leaders. I was told that I had a reputation of being the “clean up guy.” I was the one willing to get in the trenches and find the issues that needed to be fixed. I was independent in my thinking and did not need a whole lot of direction. I could execute whatever task needed to be done. I took these comments as a compliment.

The comments were really intended to inform me that I was good at what I was doing as a “doer,” but the question remained: What was I doing to prove that I was a leader? There is nothing wrong with being a doer; there is always significant need in every business for someone to come in and diagnose and improve. However, there is a distinction between a “doer” and a “leader” and I wanted to explore how to be the latter.

There were a couple of points being made. First, I continued to accept
new positions at a lateral level, so the consensus was that I enjoyed project
management and that I could execute on the deliverables. Second, I
had not adequately built up the reputation that I could lead when given
more complex job responsibilities. The job always got done when I was
there, but that was because I had a tendency to step in and start doing it
myself. I was not leading a team or project; I continued to be in the way
as the doer, or in team situations the micro-manager and meddler. It is all
right to want control of every detail, but this can cause frustration within
a team. In addition, it had the potential of sending a message that I did
not trust my people. It always crushed the creative juices of the collective
group if I simply pushed my own agenda onto them or moved them out
of the way. Both mentors told me to set clear expectations, and then get
out of the way of the team. I had the skills and potential to be a leader,
but first I had to stop being the doer, especially when I was the supposed
leader.

I was involved in a leadership program that diagnosed and identified
my certain tendencies as a leader. To no one’s surprise, I found that I liked
to roll up my sleeves and get dirty. We were asked to lead an initiative and
play toward our weaknesses. I had identified a project that needed to be
implemented. I assembled an extremely strong team, identified a competent
project manager, and watched from the sidelines. I made myself
available for periodic updates and attempted to eliminate road blocks.

With clenched fists and a constantly bitten lip, I watched everything
unfold in front of me. I allowed the process to run its due course. The
leader did a phenomenal job. The project was completed on time and had
greater business impacts than originally projected. I was able to allow
the team to present their findings and recommendations to the senior
leaders. All the while, I was there for support, suggestions, and debate.
Although I had the most experience and job knowledge, I remained silent
for the most part and allowed the team to shine. My name was listed as
the project leader, and that’s who I wanted and needed to be. I successfully
lead the project team members and was finally not a doer.

The first thing that was said to me after the presentation was how
smoothly this had run and how much we accomplished as a team. The
senior leaders praised me for being such an active leader in driving the
process. It had always seemed counterintuitive to let others do the work
because it may not turn out exactly as I had envisioned, but it made more
sense now that I’d experienced it in action. I could be detailed-oriented,
I could be intelligent about my business, and I could be there to lead the
business. I did not have to be a micro-manager and watch every detail
if I built the right team and set the right expectations. I needed to take
accountability for the final project, but if I did my job right, the success
for the project would take care of itself with a more satisfied team and a
better end result. I learned that I can’t be the leader and the doer at the
same time.

Thomas B. Dowd III’s books available in softcover, eBook, and audiobook (From Fear to Success only):

  • Now What? The Ultimate Graduation Gift for Professional Success
  • Time Management Manifesto: Expert Strategies to Create an Effective Work/Life Balance
  • Displacement Day: When My Job was Looking for a Job…A Reference Guide to Finding Work
  • The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World
  • From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide received the Gold Medal at the 2013 Axiom Business Book Awards in Business Reference
  • The Unofficial Guide to Fatherhood

See “Products” for details on www.transformationtom.com.  Book and eBook purchase options are also available on Amazon- Please click the link to be re-directed: Amazon.com

MP3 Downloads of “From Fear to Success:  A Practical Public-speaking Guide” are available at Apple iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Emusic, Nokia, Xbox Music, Spotify, Omnifone, Google Music Store, Rdio, Muve Music, Bloom.fm, Slacker Radio, MediaNet, 7digital, 24-7, Rumblefish, and Shazam “From Fear to Success” MP3 on CD Baby