Friday, January 18, 2008

Great News

Last week I was offered the position of Principle Hardware Engineer. This promotion takes me out of my previous Lead Electrical Engineering role. The position requires me to be a direct report to the VP of Engineering. It is a great move for me and my career and, hopefully, for the the organization as well.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

To Climb, Jump or Take the Stairs

This topic applies to those of you with years in your company. With the many hours, many defeats and many victories under your belt you now wish to ascend in your organization and move up in your career. As you sit and survey the landscape around you, you may be asking yourself the following questions:

  • Should I climb within organization?
  • Should I just jump to another organization?
  • Should I take the stairs (steadfast incrementally moving up the ladder).

If you are in your career or even in your present position less than two years the easiest way to ascend is to jump. Jump to another company through dissemination of your resume, Internet searching, network connections or head hunters. Jumping is a quick way to gain more responsibility, have a change in scenery and to increase your salary quickly and without requiring a quantum leap in your experience or toolset. When you are young, pre-children it is much easier to get ahead by jumping because constantly moving and changing your environment is much easier when you don't have to sell your home, move to another school district or have other weights/ties associated with years of building a life and family.

Climbing is always the outcome of experience, learning, growth, luck and timing. Wrap all of this up in a corporate culture based on meritocracy and recognition and you get a recipe for personal career growth.
  • Ample opportunities for advancement

  • Culture of meritocracy and recognition/reward

  • Company is experiencing growth

  • Company organically grows management

Of course in order to climb the ladder you have to recognize that this can only be done if the rung above you is not occupied. If you want to climb there has to be a compelling business reason for you to occupy a higher level slot within the organization. Many companies require growth to stay alive. This growth is usually in two areas: revenue growth and organization growth. With revenue growth companies may try to achieve their goal by growing the Top Line or in a financially tough environment (like now) shrink their variable costs. If they are shrinking their costs the opportunities may not be there for you to advance because of financial constraints.

Organizational growth usually happens in two ways: organic and acquisition. Organic growth is the best path for you to recognize your opportunities and desires to move up and fill a slot in a company that is growing their talents and bringing new people in. Acquisition growth usually means that when the two companies come together there is some overlap and, once identified, is usually eliminated (can you say RIF?).

In either scenario it is very important for you to recognize both the opportunity and your possible contributions to the company and sell them up the management chain. Not all climbing opportunities come to you just because you are a senior person within the organization. The most aggressive and dogged person usually gets the job, certainly over a passive (even more experienced/qualified) person who is waiting to be offered the opportunity.

When the landscape around you indicates that there is no way to advance because of either no growth, miss-management, no fit or other reason you may find the best thing to do is jump. Some reasons to do this are:
  • Company is not growing

  • Old guard leadership not willing to change

  • Poor industry performance year after year

  • No room for advancement

  • Company does not hire from inside for the level of positions you want

  • Company continues to bring outside consultants to change company direction

  • Company relies on outsourcing your particular area of expertise

In this instance it is always better to have a job lined up before you announce your desire to leave. There are many resources available to you to find a job: Internet, head hunters, hot jobs, Monster, etc... A good piece of advice to give in this situation is no matter how young you are or how much time you have in the organization NEVER, EVER burn a bridge. Always act in an ethical manner and always leave your current position in a positive way. Here the old saying "Small World, Long Life" applies. Take advantage of the jump to obtain a job somewhat out of your comfort zone as this will give you a more diverse experience base to build on in the future.


Taking the stairs just means you are in your position for the long haul and you are slowly, incrementally rising through your organization. Steady performance and a good track record will eventually land you in an elevated band. always recognize and know what your company does, what your boss does, how he is measured. Build on this to become one of his strongest assets and top performers. This will get you there, maybe not on the fast track but you will have opportunities. The key is to recognize and act on them when they appear.

Taking the stairs is beneficial when:

  • Change is coming

  • New management is taking over

  • Happy with current work culture/environment

  • Growth

  • Positive reviews

  • Expanding responsibilities

Spoiler - 10 Strategic Rules

These rules are adapted from the book "10 Rules for Strategic Innovators" by Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble.

These rules apply to CEOs and General Managers when they are faced with or at least working with a division in the company that decides to go off and try to develop the "Next Big Thing". This thing is usually totally new to the business and the unit responsible for the development should be under totally new accountability rules since development is hard, expensive, fraught with uncertainty and most of all different than it's parents model.

The great idea is only the beginning - In order to make any great idea happen, much more work goes into the strategy, forecast, planning, monitoring, measuring and learning. If you do not plan up front then you really have no method of finding your way as go.

Sources of organizational memory are powerful - In a new model or a new venture it is very hard to separate the ideals, culture and organizational methods that have made the parent company great. This culture and these methods really do not apply to a totally new venture finding its way and developing a new product in a new market. Be aware of the pitfalls of applying one formula that works for an established company to a totally different application.

Large established companies can beat start ups - This is true. Smaller companies are more nimble and less bureaucratic. But large companies have many assets that can be borrowed from and possibly much technology (IP) that can be leveraged that would otherwise be a burden to entry for a start-up. Now the trick is how to leverage or borrow from the parent company without burdening the parent, becoming more like the parent of just remaining separate from the parent.

Strategic experiment face critical unknowns - As with anything new it will be hard to forecast schedule, investment and revenue. Not to mention there are many more things you do not know than you do know. This means that it is critical that you have leadership in place to drive the new development that is very adept at learning from their mistakes and monitoring their progress microscopically rather than quarterly/yearly.

The new company must be built from scratch - A new unproven company in the development stages should be free to operate in a physically different location, should be able to build its own culture, should have some autonomy from the parent. This enables the company to operate and focus on their objective without being compared, measured or judged against an already profitable or structured parent.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Leadership - The First 100 Days

Now that you have taken the plunge and all of your hard work has paid off you find yourself reeling from the outcome of your stellar interview. You have the job, you start next week. Now is the time to start planning your leadership strategy.

One of the first steps in your planning is to understand the outline of the plan, that starts with some education, some history and some advice. I came across this site today and it addresses and educates the importance of the first 100 days in your new role.

I highly recommend reviewing it (link below) but I will share some of the article here.

By Michael Kanazawa

There is no better opportunity to lay the ground work for turning big ideas into big results than in the first 100 days as a new leader. By the end of 100 days everyone will be done sizing you up as a leader, the organization will either be on a new trajectory or settle back down into the current track, and you will have set the stage for your next 2-3 years as a leader. You have a huge opportunity when taking over as a new leader.

First is the chance to change the strategic direction of the organization. People are actually expecting it, so the shift will be much easier than at any other time. Political structures will be in flux, so long-standing tough decisions that have been avoided will be easier to drive through to closure. And, even as tough decisions are made, everyone will be looking at you as the new hope for growth and improvement. People want you to be successful because it means better things for them as well. So, they will be ready to follow your lead. With so much opportunity (and risk of missed opportunities) at hand, it is worth carefully planning your first 100 days to get everything out of it that you possibly can.

Korn Ferry published research on the pitfalls and tips for success in leading through the first 100 days based on views about leaders in the Americas, Europe, and Asia. Below are statics from two questions they asked.

What is the most common mistake that senior executives make during their first 100 days?
  • Failing to establish strategic priorities - 23.5%
  • Committing cultural gaffes and/or political suicide - 16.4%
  • Waiting too long to implement change - 15.8%
  • Not spending enough face time with subordinates - 14.2%
  • Getting sidetracked by “fire drills” — having a short-term focus - 10.9%
  • Hesitating to make tough personnel decisions - 9.8%

What one thing — above all else — must a senior executive do in their first 100 days in order to succeed?

  • Assemble and solidify a team - 25.1%
  • Articulate a statement of vision and goals - 24.6%
  • Identify and address what’s most important to the CEO, board of directors and other key executives - 15.8%
  • Understand and adapt to the new culture - 13.7%
  • Identify the leverage points and the metrics for success - 9.8%
  • Achieve several quick successes - 4.9%
  • Fix obvious, nagging problems quickly - 3.8%

These tips and pitfalls are very useful to understand, but only become practical when you can build them into a First 100 Days action plan for yourself. Time will fly by and without a hard schedule the calendar will run out before you’ve addressed everything. There will be plenty of fire drills and unfortunately purposeful distractions in your path to accomplishing the big shift you need to in this critical time.

Below is a well tested, streamlined set of actions you can use to build your 100 day plan. It is based on applying the ACT Process, outlined in our soon to be released book Big Ideas to Big Results, to the case of new leaders taking charge. And if you notice, fixing small, incremental quick fixes are listed at less than 5% of mentions. They need to be handled, but aren’t nearly as important to your success as getting the bigger elements of the overall team, strategic direction and alignment of top executives and the board handled first.

First 100 Days Action Plan Checklist1-30 Days
  • Individually meet each direct report team member and call them into a commitment to lay the foundation for the next 2-3 years with you.
  • Architect your 100 day plan steps and share it with everyone.
  • Establish a fact base by engaging the organization in a due diligence process on itself, looking at the business from an internal as well as external perspective. This includes listening to customers and “non-customers”.
  • Set up 2 working sessions with your team (at least 4-8 hours each) to confront reality and question the direction. This work will help you leverage the best thinking of the team and also get a good read on your people.
  • Identify “Quick Start” initiatives that can be treated immediately and will show a bias for speed and action as well as puts change in motion early.
  • Conclude with a working session with you team in the first 30 days with developing a refined direction of vision and goals that is now shared by your direct team as they helped create it.

31-65 Days
  • Develop a new set of priority strategic initiatives with your direct team, including refined goals for the organization (working session).
  • Identify any specific behavior changes needed to successfully drive the new direction and initiatives forward.
  • Engage the next level team in a dialogue about how to operationalize the strategic initiatives and live the required behaviors.

66-100 Days
  • Starting at the top of the organization, reset personal commitments, performance standards, and compensation plans to support the new direction and initiatives.
  • Engage your direct team in resetting their commitments in another working session.
  • Engage leaders at all levels in resetting priorities and commitments in a rapid cascade taking no more than 3-4 weeks to complete.
  • Leverage the natural chain of command one level at a time to drive real change. One big speech from the top and staff-led programs won’t work.
  • Finally, by watching how your direct team has engaged in strategic thinking, how they’ve played with the rest of your team in developing the plans and how they engaged their organizations in driving the changes, you will have all that you need to make any required personnel shifts.

Make all of the major changes in leadership before the 100 days run out. Designing these elements into your 100 day plan will keep your focus on setting strategic priorities, assessing your team, engaging the full organization, and getting started quickly – all keys to success. In the whirlwind of activities in taking over a leadership position in a new organization, it is impossible to keep everything that is important top of mind. Following a proven process, like ACT, and applying it to this critical time can help bring some order and more impact to your next challenge.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Travelling Abroad

This entry isn't so much about leadership as it is about the nature of the job, Travel.

It is so easy to get caught up in domestic travel and the convenience of the US that when it comes time to fly abroad you may not have thought through your trip. Here are some tips and reminders.

  1. Buy a travel alarm. Chances are that when you are tired and worn out, setting a new euro style alarm clock will be a daunting task and there is no snooze on a wake up call.
  2. Watch your bags very carefully at train stations. Many people make their living at snatch and run with your bags. I have seen this more than once. If you have a bag with a strap, place an arm or a leg through it while you sit.
  3. Keep your passport on your person not in a bag (for tip number 2). Getting a new passport will certainly ruin a vacation but totally blow a business trip.
  4. Get your money exchanged at home or just use an ATM machine. While most places will take a Visa/MasterCard/AMEX you will still need cash for things like a taxi or a beer.
  5. Call your bank and let them know you will be charging abroad. Nothing stinks more than getting to Europe and not being able to get money out.
  6. Buy an international calling card. This will help you if you need to make any calls home and you find your cell does not work over there.
  7. Check the expiration date of your passport. Many countries want from 3 to 6 months left on your passport to let you in the country.
  8. Pack an extra set of passport photos along with a photocopy of your passport information page to make replacement of your passport easier in the event it is lost or stolen.
  9. Copy all contents of your wallet and leave one copy at home, take the other with you and store in your suitcase.
  10. Taxis. Only take taxis clearly identified with official markings. Beware of unmarked cabs. Also get a price for the cab ride up front if you can. They can range from what you should pay to more than four times what you should pay. Trains are generally cheaper.
  11. Don't forget your laptop power supply. It is so easy since you probably use your docking station. I have forgotten mine many times basically making my computer useless after 2 hours or so.
  12. Buy an outlet adapter that converts US plugs to European outlets.
  13. Insurance. Make sure you have medical insurance prior to leaving.
  14. Bare essentials. Pack an extra change of clothes for your carry on in the event that your luggage is lost or delayed. The more important the trip, the more likely your luggage will get lost. It's an international law.
  15. Do your homework. Foreign embassies or consulates in the United States can provide up-to-date information on their countries.
  16. Ordering Passport. Inevitably you will need to order a passport with less than a week to go. Here is a site that can help you with that. Be prepared to shell out about $400.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Thinking Strategically

Body Language

Understanding body language and the signals you send off can help you quite a bit. If you learn from your natural tendencies you can avert any possible wrong impressions you send off subconsciously or unintentionally. Unintentional signals that give someone the wrong impression are the worst as they can derail you without you even knowing why or that it even happened.
The best source for this is an illustrative book (in my reading list), but I can give a few general tips that should help you right off the bat.
Now, once you understand body language and the physical cues that it gives, learn to use it to read people. Some are more readable than others but what you can observe may help you to see what is thought or felt but not spoken. Want to know what the other person is thinking about your ideas or simply what they think of you, just watch them. Develop this skill and you will be amazed at how well you can read someone in almost any situation.

  1. The Hand Shake - Arm extended, palm up and a firm but not an Olympian grip. Look the person in the eye and smile. Shake, don't just hold. That's just creepy. A handshake conveys confidence in dealing with people. It can also convey the amount of importance that the other person ranks you as, it makes the statement: If you are not important enough to impress why should you be important enough to listen to.
  2. Smile. Smiling is always good. When you greet someone or pass them in the hall if you are always preoccupied with your next move and not focused on the person passing you the absence of an enlightening smile may send the message that you are unhappy or frustrated. Smiling is your most powerful body language signal and it comes for free. Though it is not recommended to smile constantly (people will be under the impression you are searching for approval or just plain weird), you should still make an effort to appear happy and optimistic.
  3. Be very conscious of your facial expressions. When a bit of bad news comes, try not to react through facial expression, rocking your head side to side, outwardly sighing or the "rubbing your face stance". In fact, leave your face alone, don't touch it. People see these and learn to read you or take the que that something is very wrong. You also come off as frustrated. Unless this is the message you want to send, avoid it.
  4. Mouth movements can give away all sorts of clues. We purse our lips and sometimes twist them to the side when we're thinking. Another occasion we might use this movement to hold back an angry comment we don't wish to reveal. Nevertheless, it will probably be spotted by other people and although they may not know the comment, they will get a feeling you are not to pleased. Again, a good move if you want to convey it, a bad move if you are playing poker.
  5. When making statements or giving commands don't look (dart your eyes) to your superior or others in the room for support. This makes you seem unsure and that you are looking for approval.
  6. Don't cross your arms when talking. This is an aggressive stance and sends the message that you are uncomfortable. The same applies to your legs.
  7. When you want to convey the impression that you are interested in a conversation or discussion, lean into or toward the person you are conversing with. Angle of the body in relation to others gives an indication of our attitudes and feelings towards them and also indicates that you feel safe and not threatened. We angle toward people we find attractive, friendly and interesting and angle ourselves away from those we don't, it's that simple!
  8. Don't fidget.
  9. No clock watching unless you wish to convey that your time is more valuable than your audience or you wish to send the message "Hurry up".
  10. Don't stare. At anyone (creepy) or anything (is he lost?).
  11. When someone comes into your office to talk to you, stop typing at your computer and look at the person. There is nothing more irritating than having a conversation with a person who's typing on their computer at the same time. This body language tells your visitor they really aren't important enough to focus on.

Leading Change Within Your Organization

Leading Change. Every organization will institute a change, some companies change all of the time in order to attempt to improve. Not all of these changes work. Some fail because they are not well thought out, others fail because they are not well executed.
The need for change can come about for a number of reasons. Two basic originations are: the business recognizes the need for change in order to improve or be competitive, an employee recognizes that a change is needed in order to make his/her department better or more productive. In either case, if you are ever tasked to make change happen in your organization you should be aware of the many intricacies involved and learn to address them in order for the change to happen and for your own success.

Leading Change:
  1. Recognize and understand the need for change.
  2. Understand the ramifications of the change throughout the business.
  3. Understand the people affected by the change (some people will have more work, some people may lose internal power, some people will perceive the move as detrimental to their personal interests, etc...).
  4. Obtain buy-in from the business with defined milestones and dates.
  5. Gather a straw man for the change to understand how it will affect the business, how it will be implimented and who the players will be in the execution of the change.
  6. Prepare an "elevator speech" in order to quickly convey what the change is, why the change is, who will be affected and how you will measure it.
  7. Communicate the change across the company.
  8. Allow an avenue for employees to provide feedback about the change and give them an opportunity to improve the process or complain about it.
  9. Set up metrics to measure the effectiveness of BOTH the change and it's implementation.
  10. Follow through on the change providing progress on the change throughout the business.

Your Accessibility

Being available for your team is of paramount importance and in this age of technology there is no reason for you to be too far from a team member needing your input or you needing theirs. If you are never in your office you make it quite difficult for people to approach you other than e-mail. This means you will miss opportunities to solve one of their issues or at the very least lose an opportunity to solve one of yours. You also distance yourself from your team.

Try to lay out ground rules for your availability like being there from 7:00 to 8:00AM on Tuesdays just for walk-ins. Another good thing to do is to provide a communications preference list.

Here are my preferences (in order):
  1. E-mail (routine communication)
  2. Office Visit (always welcome, will announce my best times)
  3. Sametime
  4. Office Phone
  5. Cell Phone
  6. Home Phone

Monday, August 27, 2007

Managing Up

Three basic rules for managing up.
The ‘three things’ in the business of managing your boss are:

  1. Understanding Yourself
  2. Understanding The Boss
  3. Understanding The Relationship.

Understand Yourself:

  1. Delegate: Know what you are good at and what you are bad at. If you can, identify someone who compliments your talents and use them to do the work you are not good at to accomplish your goal.
  2. Follow Up: Always check on your delegatees being careful not to micro-manage but make sure your know and they know what and when the information will come.
  3. Follow Through: Always understand what your boss wants and give it to him in the form he prefers. When given an urgent directive, follow up with an e-mail re-stating what you understand they want and the time frame that you will provide it.
  4. Control your emotions: This goes for understanding your temper, your despair, your anxiety, your shortcomings and your pride.
  5. Don't Over commit: Your boss counts on you because you can get things done. Don't break that trust by agreeing to building Rome by lunch. Be honest in your and his/her expectations.
  6. No Brown Nosing: A good boss will smell that from a mile away, your peers will see you and your sucess as the result of sucking up. Grow a backbone not a soiled schnoz.

Understand the Boss:

  1. Act Like Your Boss: Well, not really, but understand what he/she wants. If he is a numbers person, give him numbers. A details person, give her details. If you communicate with her on the level that she communicates then your job will be much easier.
  2. Decisions: If you do not want a 'no' or procrastination, give him/her a hand and recommend what course of action to take. If that direction is wrong then your boss should give you immediate feedback on what to do. Two things served here: you get the correct action and you start to understand how your boss thinks.
  3. Manage her time: You may represent only 1% of her problems, don't make it as if it is 100%. Present the issues, problems and solutions clearly and concisely while conveying the time frame and priority of the task.
  4. An opinion: If you ask for her opinion, he/she will always have one. Another method for learning and understanding your boss.
  5. Information: It is not data. Provide the information as an abstract in little bullet form, no decimal places and provide a summary sheet at the beginning.
  6. Problems: Don't just come with problems, come also with solutions.
  7. Assumptions: Do not assume she knows as much as you do, but assume she can understand; so educate her.
  8. Delegations: Delegate what you can, offer alternative personnel to accomplish tasks when appropriate.
  9. Promises: Do not promise what you cannot deliver, and avoid surprises, trust is at stake. Never sign-up to an unrealistic schedule. It is bad for everyone.
  10. Differences: Manage differences in culture and position. A VP of Manufacturing gets measured differently than a VP of Engineering. Constantly recognize the point of view of the target.
  11. Trust: Don't Lie, don't blame and if you are running the ship take responsibility for your failures.
  12. Think Two Levels Up: Understand your boss's boss and what kind of things his boss will want and need.
  13. Learn How To Sell Your Ideas: Change is constant and you should be able to adapt your model to your needs. This sometimes requires your boss's support and buy-in.
  14. Under-promise, Over Deliver. Be careful not to take the under promise thing too far. Don't double or triple your estimate.
  15. Don't Expect Your Boss To Change
  16. Include Your Managers Goals and Mandates When Presenting Your Ideas
  17. Be Aware of Your Managers Hot Spots - What they are passionate about and what they dispise.
  18. Increase Your Visibility Within The Organization
  19. Leverage The Plusses

The Subordinate Relationship

As you move up within an organization you will inevitably be responsible for giving direction to others. Be it a team of one or a cast of 20 or more you will be the face they see as the "Boss" and you will need to steer your own ship with them as your crew (Think America's Cup here). Treat them well and they will surprise you and make you look good. Treat them poorly and you will be spending a good part of your day bailing water out of the ship.

Here are a few of my rules when dealing with your workforce.

  1. Immediately set your expectations up front. Detail responsibility, preferred communication methods, reward system and hierarchy. Use technology to do this for you, author a blog on the topic....
  2. Understand what they are good at and bad at. Use the good and try to develop the bad.
  3. Always take time to walk the floor and talk to your people.
  4. Know what motivates them. Awards, recognition, money, free time, etc...
  5. Don't wait until appraisal time to give negative feedback.
  6. Always immediately reply to their e-mails, even if it is just a "Thanks, I will look this over later"
  7. Set yourself as the example, they will automatically gravitate to your actions.
  8. Never, ever lie to your employees. One lie can destroy years of trust.
  9. Never command respect. If you deserve it, it will come. With that being said always give respect first, monitor the actions of the person to determine if they deserve your gift.
  10. Take top performers out to lunch, talk about what they want, what they don't want and things that they see could be improved.
  11. Never be afraid of saying "I don't know", "I was wrong", "No!", etc...
  12. Always give credit for work well done. Always. Either in a public way (at meetings) or, if the person does not wish to be singled out, in a private way (gift certificate for dinner for two, a monetary gift or just a day off).
  13. If you ask for a team to work over the weekend to pull in a deadline, make sure you at least show up at work to express your appreciation. They are giving up their time for you.
  14. Don't just lead - Coach. Your employees have careers too, some may wish to climb and could benefit greatly from your mentoring and you could benefit from another ally.
  15. Be inclusive - Share the goals for which your team will be measured, the reasoning behind those goals and what it means to the business. If one can understand the game then they can better make their own correct decisions in the long run.
  16. Empower your employees- Give your employees the power to make decisions and support those actions. Don't crush them if they made the wrong decision, even if it hurts. Remove obstacles and let the ones that can, shine.
  17. Be positive. Never complain downstream, only upstream.
  18. Face your shortcomings.
  19. Run your meetings with an agenda and stick to it and keep the end time.
  20. Know yourself, understand how you react to issues/problems and use that to stay on track.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


Good Communications is one of the most important traits you can have. Be it from:

  1. conversations
  2. e-mail
  3. telephone
  4. letters,
  5. power-point presentations
  6. meetings
  7. Status Reports

Communication is how you verbalize what you want, when you want it and how you want it done. It also serves to give visual cues about your mood, your passion, your responses. These body language cues are not only seen but also felt and heard.

On a recent trip to France during my International Residency I learned a valuable lesson, leave it to the French people to help! In typical American style I was rushing to get from the airport to the train station so that I could arrive in Rouen on time. I rushed up to the train attendant and immediately asked him "Which train goes to Rouen?". He scowled at me and shrugged his shoulders mumbling what was later determined to be the reply "I don't speak English".

Later that week I was attending classes in Rouen about the French culture and learned that the correct way to approach the French for help is to approach them like this (in French helps). "Excuse me, I have a petite problem that you may be able to help me with, could you tell me where the train to Rouen is?". You see, this statement places you in a position where you need them, not a position where you are barking at them. It is also a pleasant way to start the conversation. I tried it that very day at the train station and it worked beautifully. The attended even hailed his subordinate to take me to the train.

THE LESSON : You cannot always get what you want because of who you are. It is better to undertsand your audience, think about the situation and use the appropriate communications style to achieve your desired result. Be it a Frenchman, a worker on the factory floor or your boss.

E-Mail Rules
Be wary of overusing the blink copy feature (BCC) and always be wary of "Reply All" for same reason.

I am a big fan of writing scathing, bashing, hurtful e-mails. I am not a big fan of sending them. Never send off an e-mail when you are angry or one that has angry words. If you need to vent then write it, save it and later the next day read it again. Then trash it and send a more graceful e-mail to address the issue.

Always treat an e-mail like it will be read on the front page of the New York Times. Never put anything in one that can hurt you, your company or others, no telling where it may end up.

Always confirm receipt of an e-mail, even if you have no time to read it now. A quick "Thanks Bud, I got it" goes along way with the person who sent the e-mail. They took the time to give you the information they felt you needed, you should at least reward them with a Thank You.

E-mails have their place and should not be the only form of communication. Be very careful with wording as e-mail is famous for losing the meaning in translation and can often convey the wrong or unintended message.

If a walk to the office next door will work then skip the e-mail and go into verbal mode. If the e-mail is going to serve as a filed item (a record of something) then follow up with an e-mail outlining the agreed decision.

If you have multiple teams, make a group in outlook and use that group as the distribution list. Encourage others to add that group to their address book. It is a great way to quickly coordinate and disseminate information.

Phone Rules

Meeting Rules

Customer Service

Think customer service is all about what your bank teller gives you or how well your cell phone representative resolved your issue? Well, it is. It is also how well you deliver to your peers, your boss, your employees, your customers and even to your family. Poor customer service is recognized by Wal-Mart as lost revenue (they esitamte 1 lost customer is worth $250K in revenue lost).
Poor customer service affects you, your relationships (professional and personal) your reputation and your company.

Customer Service includes how your department delivers to another (Engineering delivering a quality, buildable product to manufacturing), how you interface with your customer, your boss, your boss's boss and even your peers. Great customer service means all of these people will come back to you time and time again becuase they get what they need, when they need it and in a way they feel comfortable with.

What Makes a Good Manager

While some still debate over the difference between a Leader and Manager I will add that in my view a Manager is a Leader if he or she directs people in the execution of functions related to the business and whom is directly involved in the policy and decision making of that business. I recommend a DisC assessment to better understand your personality and how to leverage your natural traits in your business relationships. It also helps you to understand your people and their traits.
  1. Have a Vision for your group and communicate it well.
  2. Have a Strategy for everything you do, communicate that well.
  3. Have at least monthly meetings to discuss where the group was, is and where you want it to be.
  4. YOU take the blame for mishaps of your subordinates with respect to bad decisions, lack of follow through or misunderstood direction (barring drinking on the job, sexual harassment or other personality/personal decisions out of your control). You can reprimand and correct later but ultimately you are the captain of the ship. Other Admirals were most likely captain once and can appreciate that stance more than accept you blaming a subordinate outright. Cowardly move to do otherwise.
  5. Learn from all of your mistakes, personal and professional.
  6. Understand your audience’s capabilities and motivations.
  7. Understand your employees strengths and weaknesses.
  8. Understand the business and the rules that drive the business you are in.
  9. Be approachable and encourage personal interaction.
  10. Have a vision for your department and can convey that vision both up and down the chain.
  11. Become very involved in the issues but give the necessary room for others to make decisions (empowerment) while enforcing accountability, not ruling by intimidation.
  12. Don’t fear not being the smartest guy in the room but at the same time know when to and when not to be.
  13. Be competent in what you do.
  14. Be ethical, honest, empathetic and have clarity in all communication.
  15. Develop an authentic uniqueness of character and an infectious inspiring air.
  16. Do not be a risk averse person, take calculated risks in order to be innovative.
  17. Help your employees find plausable solutions. Lead them to find the solution, don't tell them how to do it.
  18. Listen First, Speak Last.