Archive for December, 2010

So ready for Christmas

Whewwph! My last day of work was just over a few hrs ago. I am so toasted. With cookies, chocolate, foods and parties lately I am so fed up. No office work for at least 2 weeks. I am so ready for vacation, time for counting down to greeting new year – 2011, also for some low time for myself and of course family, relatives. I will definitely visit the little second cousins for sure; and finish up my to-do list. It was quite a busy year; a productive year went by career-wise. With other aspects, I am just so so, or should say “laissez faire”. what I realized is that I never set being-in-relationship as a personal goal or resolution, per se. Or should I say, that aspect seems to come when I least expect. It was like that 5-6 years ago. With work, it is so well-planned out, individual goals and team goals, and overall organization goals. I think I should make this a practice throughout. Have to be ready, more consistent for personal goals. I am not alone, i believe. It’s just the mentality I see in a lot of people, men and women, in this age.

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Talk about Retreat

Tomorrow is the company’s retreat day for our office’s management team. Before the real retreat part, we each have a duty to present our perspective on leadership/management. I picked the article on “Undercover Boss” – the recently famous TV show on CBS. What should I prepare? A slide show of some highlighting video clips of the show, or/and my perspectives? I guess that’s all I can think of. It is an entertaining topic so I will rather go light on it. It’s holiday season. Let’s just lighten it up.
Althoug Pat Lencioni gave a low rating on the show, he made a good point that all leaders “should spend time on the front lines of their companies, on a regular basis and without TV cameras and background music, reminding themselves what the world looks like from the vantage point of employees and customers.” I agreed the show “it is a wonderful way to keep executives humble and remind them about the ultimate purpose of leadership, which is service.” I wonder if and how many bosses (higher and upper managers) would watch this show.
I am not into the show as much as many other viewers do now, but the show originally was a documentary film, really speaks for the workers at all levels and all facets of any company. When I first saw this season’s premiere of the show, i thought it’s so rare to see any boss go undercover and get trained to do the real work as a front-end, hands-on worker, and get cussed on. Some real; some unreal.
What’s real? For some industries, it’s possible. This would work for manufacturing, assembly line companies, the automobile industry for example, where the CEO’s or CFO’s come in with a paper degree and no hands-on skills. I can see a restaurant manager who has been a waitress or dishwasher before. I don’t know if the original owner of McDonald’s ever flipped burgers. But I’d like to see the current CEO of McDonald’s to flip the burgers…
What’s unreal? For many other industries and business types, it may not be possible. Should public sector try it?
For a non-profit organization, I am sure this is not really appealing. Should we expose to the world how we manage fed fund. We operate under the umbrella of H-GAC, TWC, and eventually it would all go by back DC. And all the politics will go on – how do we deal with that? Internally, any employees would wish to have boss standing in their own shoes. Can Angela B., the CEO of our company be a customer service rep one day, or become a career office manager? Maybe possible. Serving community in multiple ways is one of the org ‘s missions; so I think she can do and has done some work on behalf of NCI for seniors, local communities,… On the workforce side, and other departments, I am afraid it will be too much, but it would be great if I see her more involved in what’s going on as far as TWC and H-GAC.
For some professional services, it is not an easy-to-plan task. Why not have Bill Gates to be undercover? He was a nerd himself, actually, and he still is. The same with McCaffee, Mark Zuckenberg.
From my personal point of view, it all boils down to being able to stand in other people’s shoes and show more appreciation to your employees or workers, appreciate their contribution to the company or organization. While the show has opened up many controversies, discussions, and even oped up many other multidimensional perspectives, from salary-wise to knowledge-wise to experience/maturity-wise not to mention the age/generation gap, older manage younger and vice versa, it helps these bosses realize what the big gap it is between the upper managers and their workers, and how hard it is to perform a worker’s job duty that many bosses would never imagine they would do or put their hands on.
Why such a big gap?
While at some small businesses (self-employment) the bosses have to do all work from A to Z, and therefore get to know all points of the entire business; at other medium-to-large businesses the job functions are defined to each person and the upper managers are busy with stamping executive decisions and meetings, would never grasp all of practical knowledge that the workers have on daily basis, unless they have had hands-on experience before, would hardly or never learn or understand the real concerns these workers have, even have trouble receiving feedback directly from workers. No they don’t. Upper management don’t deal with these types of feedback. They let the middle managers deal with them directly.
With personal exposure to different types of bosses and different professional experiences, I realize that while some bosses have knowledge of the business but nothing of their own functional duty (doctors, nurses, ship-owners, …) other bosses have a solid preparation for their job functions but no- hands-on knowledge of the industry; and there are a group of bosses who started out from the bottom of the industry and grow out of experience.
All in all, what’s lacking in many small businesses is the knowledge of what a “business process” is. Knowledge is power. Here we are brought back to the upside-down pyramid model of business management. The upper managers have very little knowledge compared to the front-end /front-office workers.
I am impressed by the bosses who are willing to learn, to say “show me”, who do not have that “I am the boss. I know all” or “you know who I am” attitude. To be able to say “I don’t know”, to laugh at own problem or own ignorance is human. As we are all humans and we should learn from each other.
We also are reminded that we co-exist, but not just exist.
From my own experience, I have been blessed to have worked with direct bosses/supervisors who have climbed up the ladder from the ground and therefore learned valuable disciplinary lessons from them.
I learn and we all learn that communication is the key factor in business or any relationship. We have to learn and keep learning how to communicate and communicate more effectively. That is one of my practical practices on daily basis.

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