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Archive for April, 2013

DEALING WITH OFFICE CLUTTER

Posted by Tim Bryce on April 8, 2013

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– The fundamentals are not as complicated as you might think.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

I cringe when I hear someone say, “A cluttered desk is the sign of a brilliant mind.” I don’t know who invented this little gem, some say Albert Einstein, but I can’t seem to find any record of it. More likely, it was some slob who got called up on the carpet by his boss for running a pigpen.

It has always been tough to run an organized and efficient office, but this seems to have been compounded in recent times when PC’s started to pop-up all over and we allowed employees to eat at their desks. Now it is not uncommon to see a number of wires running everywhere, overloaded electrical sockets, and empty fast food bags and cups laying around. We used to complain about ashtrays, but this appears to be a thing of the past. Instead, we find cigarette butts on the ground just outside of the office or outdoor ashtrays overflowing with them. Very professional.

Since I believe our work is an extension of our personal lives, I tend to think of the office as our home away from home. This makes me wonder what we might find if we visited some employees homes. Are they as big a slobs at home as they are at work? If not, why do they find it necessary to trash their office as opposed to their homes?

Office clutter is indicative of management’s organization and a part of the corporate culture. Some believe the sloppier they look, the more they give the appearance they are hard at work. Not necessarily. More likely, sloppiness is indicative the person is trying to hide something and is actually quite lazy.

The military understands the need for organization and keeps their facilities spotless; you are expected to either work on something, file it, or throw it away. If you need new file cabinets, buy them. Your work is obviously not important if you keep the same clutter on your desk all of the time. In fact, such clutter will grow over time. For example, have you ever seen someone with a plastic tray on their desk? Theoretically, such trays are used for work in progress, but you’ll notice the trays never empty and, if anything, the paperwork grows. Every now and then you have to simply throw the contents in the plastic tray into the garbage can.

Programmers typically like to keep a cluttered desk. To overcome this problem we warned our programmers to clean them up or they might find the debris in the trash. At first, they thought this was a hallow warning. They found we were serious when they came in one day and found their desks spotless (and their paperwork in the garbage). We didn’t have a problem with office clutter after doing this a couple of times. Some programmers are aghast when I tell this story, but following our cleanup of the office we actually experienced an increase in productivity simply by enforcing a little discipline in the workplace. This required the programmers to organize themselves better and they were able to focus on the problem at hand as opposed to wading through the mess on their desks. I guess I see programming as a profession in the same sense as I see engineers, architects, and accountants as professions. They also require discipline in order to productively perform their work.

Office clutter is a reflection of a person’s professionalism and, as mentioned, a part of the corporate culture. It can be remedied if management is so inclined to do so. I admire an office that is well run and organized. It tells me the people are serious about their work and a company I want to do business with. Just remember, a cluttered desk is the sign of a lazy mind, not a brilliant one.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  WHO IS TEACHING MORALITY? – And why it is important to our survival.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, 12:30-3:00pm ET), and KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays. 6:00-10:00am MST). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Also look for Tim’s postings in the Palm Harbor Patch, The Gentlemen’s Association, and throughout the Internet.

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Posted in Business, Management | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

ALL I ASK ABOUT RUNNING A MEETING

Posted by Tim Bryce on April 5, 2013

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– The fundamentals are not as complicated as you might think.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)

To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

I wonder how many meetings I’ve attended in my lifetime. It must be in the thousands. Of course, there have been the multitude of corporate meetings I’ve participated in, either with customers or internally. Then there are the many meetings I’ve attended over the years from the many nonprofit organizations I’ve belonged to, not to mention several meetings for the Board of Directors I have been involved with (more than 50 now). Sometimes I feel like I am more in the business of attending meetings as opposed to doing anything else.

I do not mind attending the nonprofit related meetings as I see it as a way to volunteer my time for some worthwhile causes, which is the least I can do. What I do mind though is to attend a poorly run meeting regardless if it is for a commercial company or for a nonprofit. I find it a bit disconcerting when a meeting is run badly. Then again, many well-meaning people participate in nonprofit organizations, be it a homeowners association, a sports club, a special interest group, or a religious/fraternal organization. They may have plenty of time on their hands to participate, but they haven’t got a clue as to how to run a business and, not surprisingly, run some of the worst meetings imaginable.

Regardless of the organizations I’m involved with, all I ask is that the meeting…

1. Start and end on time. Not a minute before or after. This includes not waiting for someone who is running late thereby creating a problem for others. This is simply discourteous.

2. Follow an agenda. Print it up and distribute it accordingly, preferably prior to the meeting so others can prepare themselves accordingly.

3. Maintain order to eliminate distractions and focus on business. Got a gavel? Use one. Haven’t got one? Get one. No, you do not have to be Genghis Khan to run a meeting, just someone with a little common sense, patience, discipline, and a sence of fairness. If this sounds like a baseball umpire, it is.

4. Be meaningful and interesting. Avoid boring subjects and speakers. Make the meeting something people “want” to attend as opposed to feeling compelled to do so.

Nobody wants to attend an inconsequential meeting. If treated frivolously, people will become apathetic and attendance will drop. I can remember my homeowner association board of directors meeting would literally go on for hours with nothing of any substance resulting from it. When I finally assumed the presidency, I set new records for conducting such meetings. Instead of hours wasted, I completed the business of the association in less than an hour. The first time I did this, one member of the board asked, “You mean, we’re done?” After I confirmed his suspicions, I invited him to have a libation at a nearby watering hole.

Unfortunately, after my term of office was completed, the group returned to its long-winded ways. I was asked by others to stay on as President, but I feel it is important to rotate such officers. Besides, I do not want to turn the presidency of a homeowner association into my life’s work. I have other fish to fry.

One last point, I have little use for people who come to meetings unprepared. If you serve on a Board of Directors, regardless of how frivolous it may seem, you are doing a disservice to it by coming to a meeting unprepared. And for God’s sake, bring a pen or pencil and something to take notes on. Only an idiot comes to a meeting without anything to write with.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  DEALING WITH OFFICE CLUTTER – Regardless of your profession, is it really necessary to work in a pigpen?

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, 12:30-3:00pm ET), and KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays. 6:00-10:00am MST). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Also look for Tim’s postings in the Palm Harbor Patch, The Gentlemen’s Association, and throughout the Internet.

Posted in Business, Management | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

QUICK, WHAT IS THE NAME OF YOUR CONGRESSMAN?

Posted by Tim Bryce on April 3, 2013

BRYCE ON GOVERNMENT

– And how about your other government officials?

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)

To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

Let’s take a little quiz. See if you can name the following government officials (answer only those positions applicable to your area):

MUNICIPAL LEVEL
– Your Mayor
– Your City Manager
– Your Chief of Police
– Your City Clerk

COUNTY LEVEL
– Your Commissioners
– Your Superintendent of Schools
– Your Sheriff
– Your Tax Collector
– Your Property Appraiser

STATE LEVEL
– Your Governor
– Your Lieutenant Governor
– Your Attorney General
– Your State Senator
– Your House Representative

FEDERAL LEVEL
– Your President
– Your Vice President
– Your Secretary of State
– Your Chief of the Supreme Court
– Your Speaker of the House
– Your President of the Senate
– The Senators from your state
– Your House Representative

Okay, maybe you got a handful right, and maybe you cheated by looking them up on the Internet, but surprisingly many people do not know who their duly elected officials are, be it at the federal, state, county, or municipal level. Then again, maybe it’s not surprising as most people are rather apathetic about their officials thereby allowing them to have their way with the public. If you have a question or want to voice a criticism, it would make sense to at least know who your officials are. Whether you voted for the person or not, or of your party or not, your officials have a responsibility to represent you. After all, they were elected to work for you, not the other way around (which is why I listed the officials as “Your”).

Fortunately, there are some good Internet addresses available to you to track down your officials:

U.S. House of Representatives – you must supply your zip code, assuming you know it.

U.S. Senators – again you have to know that pesky zip code.

My favorite site though is “Contacting the Congress” which is a comprehensive listing of all of your representatives in one place.

You might also want to have your children take the same quiz and test their knowledge about their government officials. Better yet, check your basic knowledge of the world around you is the Pew Research Center – The News IQ Quiz.

Check it out. If you didn’t score well, perhaps it’s time for you to either brush up on your general knowledge of “Your” Government or burn your voter registration card.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  ALL I ASK ABOUT RUNNING A MEETING – The fundamentals are not as complicated as you might think.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, 12:30-3:00pm ET), and KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays. 6:00-10:00am MST). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Also look for Tim’s postings in the Palm Harbor Patch, The Gentlemen’s Association, and throughout the Internet.

Posted in Government, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | 5 Comments »

HOW INFORMATION AFFECTS MICROMANAGEMENT

Posted by Tim Bryce on April 1, 2013

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– Information requirements gives us insight as to why people micromanage.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)

To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

A friend recently confided in me he had a new Regional Manager to report to. His company is a national distributor of industrial supplies sold primarily to manufacturing companies. He didn’t know too much about his new boss other than he suddenly wanted to monitor all of the sales activity in all of the offices in the Southeast, of which there are several. To do so, he asked the sales force to e-mail him directly all of their daily customer contact lists and sales transactions for the day. In other words, the Regional Manager was interceding and performing the analysis typically performed by the local Sales Managers. The Regional Manager took it a step further and began contacting the sales force directly as opposed to going through the Sales Managers. Translation: the Regional Manager had embarked on a program of micromanagement as opposed to letting the local Sales Managers do their jobs.

This got me thinking about how the Regional Manager was going about his job and the systems supporting him. In specifying information requirements for a company, you have to consider the types of actions and decisions to be supported which can be classified by P-C-O, meaning Policy-Control-Operational. Within any enterprise, there are three fundamental levels of business functions to be supported:

* Policy information – used by executive management to steer the business and includes such things as operating summaries, forecasts, and trend analysis.

* Control information – used by middle management to control operations and report to executives; this typically includes status reports, departmental summaries, quota analysis and schedules.

* Operational information – used to support the daily activities of the business, such as placing and processing orders, checking on order status and a myriad of other activities to support customers.

Information also has the nuance of being time dependent in order to perform the various business functions in a timely manner. Not surprising, a business requires a more rapid response at the Operational level than at the higher levels. To illustrate:

* Operational information is typically required “On Demand” (aka, “Upon request”) or daily. This ultimately represents the basic transactions of the business to collect data. Daily information is also useful for such things as end-of-day summaries, and for formulating daily schedules.

* Control information typically consists of daily, weekly, and monthly summaries so middle management can monitor operations. Random “On Demand” queries may be made periodically, but are not typically a part of middle management’s normal routine.

* Policy information normally includes weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual summaries and projections needed for long-range planning. Again, random “On Demand” queries may be made periodically, but are not typically a part of executive management’s normal routine.

If a manager is spending an inordinate amount of time conducting “on demand” processing, as my friend’s new boss appears to be doing, it means a couple of things: First, in all likelihood, the manager is not delegating responsibility properly and has set his area of the company on a path of micromanagement. Second, it either means the company’s information systems do not adequately serve the business, or the new Regional Manager simply doesn’t know how to use it and, instead, is attempting to reinvent the wheel by devising his own system for obtaining the information. If the latter, he may be working at odds with the company’s systems department, thereby introducing redundant processes and data which may lead to conflicting results (aka, “dirty data”). In my friend’s case, I suspect the Regional Manager is guilty of all of the above.

There is certainly nothing wrong with wanting to obtain the proper information to support the business functions you are charged with, but if it results in creating problems of employee morale or invalid information, you have to wonder if the wrong person is running the show.

Managers should do some soul-searching; do they really need that information or are they interfering with the responsibilities of others? My advice to managers is simple: Delegate responsibility, hold people accountable, and get out of their way. “Manage more, supervise less” – Bryce’s Law

Keep the Faith!

P.S. – “April Fool” everyone! – Today is our company’s 42nd anniversary.

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  QUICK, WHAT IS THE NAME OF YOUR CONGRESSMAN? – And how about your other government officials?

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, 12:30-3:00pm ET), and KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays. 6:00-10:00am MST). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Also look for Tim’s postings in the Palm Harbor Patch, The Gentlemen’s Association, and throughout the Internet.

Posted in Business, Management, Systems | Tagged: , , , , | 7 Comments »

 
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