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Archive for the ‘Management’ Category

MANAGING A NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 24, 2017

BRYCE ON NONPROFITS

– It’s not exactly “rocket science” but some people still don’t know how to do it.

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

Recently I was adding up the number of Board of Directors I have served on over the years for nonprofit organizations. This includes computer societies, fraternal organizations, homeowner associations, even Little League. The number was over 50 where I have served in some capacity or other, everything from president, to vice president, secretary, division director, finance chairman, publicity and public relations, newsletter editor, webmaster, even historian. In other words, I think I’ve learned a thing or two about nonprofit organizations over the years. One of the first things I learned early on is that unless you manage the nonprofit group, it will manage you.

Running a nonprofit group is not exactly rocket science and is actually pretty simple, but surprisingly few people grasp the basics and end up bungling the organization thereby creating upheaval for its constituents. If you are truly interested in properly managing a nonprofit group, consider these ten principles that have served me well over the years:

1. Know the rules. Get a copy of the governing docs, read them, and keep them with you. Do not try to hide them. In fact, make them available to your constituents either in paper form or as a download on the computer (such as a PDF file). Got a briefcase dedicated to your group? Keep a copy of the docs in it and, if an electronic version is available, place an icon on your desktop to quickly access it.

2. Get to know your constituents. How can you expect to adequately serve them if you do not know what their interests are or the group’s priorities as they perceive them? They won’t always be correct, but understand their perceptions and deal with them accordingly. You might want to circulate a survey to get their view on certain subjects, and to solicit their support.

3. Communicate – not only with the other members of the board, but with your constituency as well. Failure to do so only raises suspicions about what you are doing. Newsletters, e-mail blasts, and web pages are invaluable in this regard, particularly the latter where you can post news, governing docs, contact information, meeting minutes, audit reports, correspondence, etc. Simple communications will clear up a lot of the problems you will face as an officer on the board.

4. Administer – keep good records, regardless if government regulations require it or not. Whether you are maintaining records with pencil and paper or by computer, it is important that accurate records be maintained, particularly about the group’s membership, logs of activities, attendance, finances, minutes, etc. It is not really that complicated to perform; you just need someone who pays attention to detail. Don’t have the manpower to do it yourself? Then hire someone, such as a management company, who can competently keep track of things.

5. Lead – people like to know where they are headed. If you are in charge of the group, articulate your objectives and prepare a plan to get you there. Also, do not try to micromanage everything. Nonprofit groups are primarily volunteer organizations and the last thing they want is Attila the Hun breathing down their necks. Instead, manage from the bottom-up. Delegate responsibility, empower people, and follow-up. Make sure your people know their responsibilities and are properly trained. Other than that, get out of their way and let them get on with their work.

6. Add value to your service. People like to think they are getting their money’s worth for paying their dues. In planning your organization’s activities, be creative and imaginative, not stale and repetitive. In other words, beware of falling into a rut. Your biggest obstacle will typically be apathy. If your group’s mission is to do nothing more than meet periodically, make it fun and interesting, make it so people want to come and participate. Try new subjects, new venues, new menus, etc. Even if you are on a tight budget, try to make things professional and first class. Change with the times and never be afraid of failure. You won’t always bat 1.000 but you will certainly hit a few out of the park and score a lot of runs.

7. Keep an eye on finances. As officers of the Board, you have a fiduciary responsibility to maintain the group’s finances and report on their status. I cannot stress enough the importance of having a well thought-out and itemized budget. Operating without one is simply irresponsible. And when you have a budget, manage according to it; if you don’t have the money allocated, don’t spend it. Obviously, you should also have routine finance reports produced (at least on a monthly basis) showing an opening balance, income, expenses, and a closing balance. Most PC based financial packages can easily do this for you. At the end of the year, perform a review of your finances by an independent party, either a compilation as performed by a CPA or a review by an internal committee. Post the results so the constituency can be assured their money has been properly handled.

8. Run an effective meeting. Nobody wants to attend an inconsequential meeting. Whether it is a weekly/monthly board meeting or an annual meeting, run it professionally. Print up an agenda in advance and stick to it. Start and end on time and maintain order. Got a gavel? Do not hesitate to use it judiciously. Maintain civility and decorum. Allow people to have their say but know when issues are getting out of hand or sidetracked. And do yourself a favor, get a copy of “Robert’s Rules” and study it (see http://www.robertsrules.com/)

9. Beware of politics. Like it or not, man is a political animal. Politics in a nonprofit group can get uglier than in the corporate world. Some people go on a power trip even in the most trivial of organizations. Try not to lose sight of the fact that this is a volunteer organization and what the mission of the group is. Keep an eye on rumors and confront backstabbers, there is no room for such shenanigans in a nonprofit group. If you are the president, try to maintain an “open door” policy to communicate with your constituents. It is when you close the door that trouble starts to brew. Also, ask yourself the following, “Who serves who?” Does the board serve its constituents, or do the constituents serve the board? If your answer is the latter, than dissent will naturally follow.

10. Maintain control over your vendors. Try to keep a good relationship with those companies and people who either work for or come in contact with your group, particularly lawyers. Always remember who works for whom. I have seen instances where attorneys have taken over nonprofit groups (at a substantial cost I might add). The role of the lawyer is to only offer advice; he or she doesn’t make the decision, you do (the client). One last note on vendors, make sure you maintain a file of all contracts and correspondence with them. Believe me, you’re going to need it when it comes time to sever relations with them. Keep a paper trail.

Bottom-line: run your nonprofit group like a business. Come to think of it, it is a business, at least in the eyes of the State who recognizes you as a legal entity (one that can be penalized and sued). There are those who will naively resist this notion, but like it or not, a nonprofit group is a business. Consider this, what happens when the money runs out?

I mentioned earlier that you might want to hire a management company to perform the administrative detail of your group. To me, this is an admission that the Board is either too lazy or incompetent to perform their duties (or they have more money than they know what to do with). Just remember, it’s not rocket science.

Also published in The Huffington Post.

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 40 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 © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  UNDERSTANDING MILLENNIALS – What we read in the news cannot all be true; can it?

LAST TIME:  HOW LIBERALS CONTROL THE MEDIA  – Lesson #1: If you don’t play ball, you don’t get the ink.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

Posted in Management | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

PROCRASTINATION

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 17, 2017

BRYCE ON LIFE

– Why we do it and what can be done to overcome it.

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

I think we’re all pretty much guilty of some form of procrastination during our lives. I know I am. The word itself comes from the Latin word “procrastinatus”: pro- (forward) and crastinus (of tomorrow). We try to put something off as long as possible, hoping that it will go away, but it rarely ever does. We avoid it because procrastination means to do something considered painful to us, be it a hard decision or a difficult task. We often use the lame excuse that we don’t have time to do something, but the reality is we plain and simply don’t want to do it. I don’t think anyone actually procrastinates over something they really want to do. So we should look upon procrastination as a sign of how a person really feels about something.

This got me thinking about how many decisions we make during the day. We make all kinds of trivial decisions, such as what clothes we will wear, what to eat, etc., but how many significant decisions do we really make? Probably not as many as we think. Financial decisions are often painfully difficult, such as where we should invest money, the purchase of a new house or automobile, insurance, etc., but we don’t make as many of these decisions as we should. We also infrequently think about career and health related decisions. Probably the two areas we most frequently make decisions about is related to our jobs and maintaining our homes. In terms of our jobs, it seems the bigger the assignment, the harder it is to make decisions regarding it and we often seek advice, particularly if our jobs depend on it. But the same is true at home as well; the bigger the task, the more likely we are to seek advice. For example, there is a big difference between replacing carpeting in a room, and replacing a roof. This implies there is a comfort factor involved with making a decision. In other words, do we know all of the variables and are we convinced this is the proper course of action to take? If we do not, we tend to procrastinate. Replacing a roof is a much more complicated problem than simply replacing a carpet, thereby requiring more studying and advice.

Perhaps the best way to overcome procrastination is to simply prioritize your objectives and assignments, determine not only what you would like to do but what would be most beneficial to you, and get up off your ass and do it. Avoid defeatist attitudes, and try to think positive. You might just find that the problem you have been procrastinating over is not as difficult as you thought it was. But understand this, it will not go away on its own and the old axiom, “Not to decide, is to decide,” will inevitably kick in (and usually not in your favor).

“Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in.”
– Andrew Jackson

Also published in The Huffington Post.

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 40 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 © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  PROCRASTINATION – Why we do it and what can be done to overcome it.

LAST TIME:  PSEUDO-SCIENTIFIC MANAGEMENT  – Where you learn to sing “Kumbaya.”

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

Posted in Life, Management | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

PSEUDO-SCIENTIFIC MANAGEMENT

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 13, 2017

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– Where you learn to sing “Kumbaya.”

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

Lately I seem to be receiving more than my fair share of e-mails. Among the spam I get daily, I can always count on some flyers on various management related workshops. Lately I have been studying these flyers more closely. It has been my observation the courses being offered seem to lack substance and tend to rely on facade. They seem to dance around the issues and, instead, offer classes aimed at making students feel good about themselves or how to be more politically correct. Even worse, they tend to offer some crackpot theory of management under the guise of being scientific, thereby trying to make them fashionable.

To illustrate, I recently received a training flyer which boldly stated in its headline, “Negativity costs the U.S. economy an estimated 3 billion dollars in lost productivity last year alone. What’s it costing you?” This originated from a vendor who specializes in combating negative attitudes in the workplace. I found the claim rather hollow. There is no doubt negative attitudes have an adverse affect in the workplace, but how can you substantiate such an estimate? I am not aware of any mood detectors that keep track of time. In other words, the claim is frivolous and without merit. Anyone can pick numbers out of thin air, but are they credible? Yet such claims are common in such classes.

This was part of a two day class entitled, “Workplace Conflict Training Camp” featuring a “Stop Your Drama Methodology” which is an “eight part empowerment process to increase clarity and improve productivity and personal effectiveness.” Having coined the term “methodology” in this industry back in 1971, and trained thousands of people around the world in it, I think you can safely assume we know a thing or two about methodologies. This is certainly not a methodology. Rather, it is a spin on the word to give the illusion it is based on some sort of scientific principle. I believe it is nothing more than some organized ideas for overcoming negativity in the workplace. In other words, it is a structured table of contents; but a “methodology?” Tut-tut.

I received another flyer touting a “Productivity Training Camp.” As in the other course, they boldly claim: “Distractions cost American companies time and money — approximately an hour a day and $10,790 a year per worker.” Again, I would challenge the vendor to substantiate the claim. As I read through the flyer, I found it was nothing more than a class on basic leadership and how to maximize your use of time. As a true course on productivity though, Tut-tut.

I have a great respect for the science of management and tend to believe such courses denigrate the science. Yet, they appear to be selling well. Maybe it’s because people are gullible about management or perhaps the subject matter is fashionable. For example, the Information Technology sector is particularly inclined to following any fad that comes along, good or bad, without question.

I tend to think of management as simply, “getting people to do what you want, when you want it, and how you want it.” If we lived in a perfect world, there would not be a need for managers; people would know what to do, and projects would be executed on time and within cost. However, as we all know, we live in an imperfect world. People make mistakes and problems arise, hence, the need for “managers”, people charged with assigning and directing the work of others. Managers are in the business of solving problems; people problems.

So, instead of singing “Kumbaya” together or learning Political Correctness 101, managers need to learn such things as cultivating and controlling the corporate culture, empowering people and managing from the bottom-up, defining true methodologies in the workplace and standards, improving discipline and accountability, communications, coaching and encouraging teamwork, promoting craftsmanship, and much more. To get an idea of what true management is, be sure to download a complimentary copy of my eBook, “THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! Empowering Managers in today’s Corporate Culture.”

I do not mean to dismiss the courses mentioned earlier completely out of hand, but I tend to consider them as doing nothing more than “making mountains out of mole hills.” They may have a couple of good ideas, but certainly nothing worth the amount they charge for such a course. Who knows, maybe they include in the price a signed copy of the lyrics to “Kumbaya” for each attendee.

I think we have enough pseudo-scientific approaches to management. How about we get to work instead?

Also published in The Huffington Post.

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 40 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 © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  POLITICAL BOOK CLUBS – A tremendous way to learn American history.

LAST TIME:  THE IMPORTANCE OF THE FAMILY RESTAURANT  – It is more important than you think.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

Posted in Management | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

HANDLING FAILURE

Posted by Tim Bryce on February 27, 2017

BRYCE ON LIFE

– Failure is something we don’t handle very well as a species.

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

Failure is something we don’t handle very well as a species. You would think we would be better at it since we all experience some form of failure in our lives, from major blunders to minor snafus. We fail due to errors in judgment, unforeseen circumstances outside of our control, or perhaps we underestimated the amount of risk involved, or we were just plain wrong about something. We have all failed at something and I cannot imagine life without failure. Yet, we don’t seem to know how to handle it with tact and dignity. We even go so far as to cover-up our failures or blame others as opposed to acknowledging defeat. Admitting failure is a bitter pill to swallow, yet I have more respect for the person who admits and takes responsibility for his failings than someone on the sideline who does nothing but jeer or condemns the failure. Nobody should be made to suffer embarrassment from failure if they have put their best foot forward. There is no disgrace.

I’m certainly not suggesting we encourage failure, but we should at least understand it. For example, I’ve noticed people today tend to be sore losers. This may be because of our competitive nature and our inclination to try and win at all costs. Consequently, we do not tend to be gracious in defeat. In contrast, Abraham Lincoln shocked everyone after losing his first Senate race by appearing at the victory party of his opponent and offered a genuine hand of friendship and support. This did not go unnoticed and was well remembered by his opponent who fought for his candidacy years later. From this perspective, Lincoln teaches us that you are not going to lose all of the time, and it might not be wise to burn bridges to those who might assist us later on.

I’ve also noticed some people become so obsessed with the possibility of failure they go into a state of paralysis whereby they prefer doing nothing as opposed to risking the sting of defeat. This is a tragedy as it represents the arrest of progress.

I think the biggest problem with failure is that we do not recognize it as a natural part of life. For every success, there is usually one or more failures not far behind. To illustrate, I believe bankruptcies have quadrupled since the 1980’s, probably due to some rather liberal bankruptcy laws. If you have declared bankruptcy, you may have saved yourself, but I can guarantee you someone else is suffering a loss, such as the creditors you owe money to. If we establish a system where it is beneficial to fail, people inevitably will (see Murphy’s Law).

I tend to believe in the old axiom, “If you make 51% of your decisions correctly, you will be a success.” In other words, you don’t have to bat 1.000 to be considered a success, just stay ahead of your mistakes. Frankly, it’s a matter of carefully picking your fights and contests.

Perhaps Rudyard Kipling put the best spin on failure in his famous poem, “If”; to paraphrase:

“If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!”

Perhaps the only thing we do worse than failure is success.

Also published with The Huffington Post.

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 40 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 © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  MANUFACTURED HATE – A destructive strategy the left is employing.

LAST TIME:  POLITICIZING SPORTS  – The media will not leave us alone.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

Posted in Life, Management | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

ESTIMATING – GETTING IT RIGHT

Posted by Tim Bryce on February 20, 2017

BRYCE ON PROJECT MANAGEMENT

– No Virginia, there is no magic in producing a project estimate.

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

It seems every now and then someone comes along with a new spin on how to estimate a project, either in its entirety or a portion of it. I have heard a lot of theories over the years, particularly in the Information Technology (I.T.) field where there is a tendency to pull numbers out of a hat, but I’ve long given up looking for panaceas. Actually, I have always regarded estimating as a relatively simple task and have taken my queue from the construction industry who has had to frequently produce reliable estimates over the years. As such, there are basically three variables involved:

* Methodology – defines the stages of work by which projects are completed, from beginning to end. Some portions of the project will be executed serially, others in parallel, either way, each stage should define precisely what work has to be accomplished to the types of components involved. Typically, components are identified, designed, tested, and installed in moderation which is commonly referred to as “stepwise refinement” (going from the general to the specific) as prescribed by the methodology.

* The components involved – in the construction field, it is the wood, stone, glass, nails, rivets, steel beams, etc. to be used to construct a building. In the I.T. field it is the data elements, records, files, input, outputs, programs, business processes, etc. The methodology dictates the sequence by which the components are implemented. A component assembled at the wrong time and place will likely prove disastrous, which is why the methodology is so important. To make this work, it is necessary to produce a rough design of the object in question. For construction, it would mean a complete rough design of a building, aka, “artist rendering.” In I.T., it would mean a complete rough design of a system or program. Only after the rough design has been completed can a listing of the components be identified.

Another consideration is the state of the components, how many are new versus how many can be reused from other projects. To illustrate, if there are already preexisting nuts and bolts to satisfy the product, they certainly can be reused; if not, new nuts and bolts have to be designed. Within a systems development project, if a data element such as “Customer Number” has already been invented and implemented, there is no point in introducing a redundant component; developers should simply reuse the existing data element. Such reusability of components not only expedites development time, but promotes integration of different products.

“Bill of Material Processors” (BOMP) are commonly used to keep track of components, be it in the construction field or I.T.

* The skill of the people charged with executing the project. A novice worker will obviously take longer to perform a given task than an experienced expert. This is also why it is preferable to have the people charged with the work participate in the estimating process as it becomes a reflection of their commitment. In a situation where project personnel are unknown, the Project Manager can still render an estimate based on “averages” defining the amount of time necessary to build a component for a given task. As projects are executed, the actual time expended to complete a component for a specific task should be captured so such averages can be refined based on historical data.

This approach to estimating is universally applicable to any product development based project. It is based on the recognition that most estimating errors are errors of omission, not commission. It is the forgotten or overlooked components that lead to most estimating errors. Again, this is why the rough design is so vital as it will overcome the problem of omissions. As in any construction project, a rough architectural design is required to effectively estimate the project to build it. The same is true in I.T. projects where the objective is to build a new system. To do so, a complete rough design of the system must first be prepared to effectively estimate the remainder of the project.

This approach also distinguishes the use of time as either “direct” or “indirect.” Whereas direct time represents whole work, indirect time represents interferences detracting from project execution. Estimates should be expressed in direct time, not indirect time, as we want to know the amount of pure effort needed to complete a component and task. This approach to time also implies estimating and scheduling are separate activities. Whereas, direct time is used to express estimates, indirect time is used to calculate schedules. For example, if an estimate for a project task is ten direct hours, and a worker is only able to spend four direct hours of work each day (with another four indirect hours spent elsewhere during the day), the task should be completed in 2.5 working days. Separating time into “direct” and “indirect” greatly improves precision in both estimates and schedules.

Here is a typical scenario for estimating a product related project, be it construction, I.T., manufacturing related, or whatever:

1. Specify and analyze requirements.

2. Prepare a rough design of a product to satisfy the requirements.

3. Prepare an itemized listing of components to be used in the product, aka, “Bill of Materials,” identifying which are new and which can be reused.

4. Based on the materials, define the remaining stages of work to develop the product (the methodology).

5. Estimate the amount of time necessary to complete the various stages. If project personnel are known, have them participate in the estimating process.

6. After the estimate has been defined, calculate the project schedule based on the methodology and use of time (direct vs. indirect).

7. Review with the client for approval.

This approach is certainly not new and has been used for many years in a variety of industries. Ultimately it represents a complete mental execution of the project in order to determine costs. This is essentially no different than what a professional golfer does before swinging his club on a drive; he visualizes everything from how he is to swing the club, the follow through, to where he wants the ball to land, and the ensuing strokes necessary to complete the hole. Preparing a rough design is no different. It is thinking the project through to completion by considering all of the components needed to satisfy the product. Will it be perfect? No, but it will be more accurate than making wild guesses based on some wild pseudoscientific calculation. The only drawback to it though is it requires some hard work in upfront planning and design; it is certainly not a panacea, but then again, there never has been any magic in estimating that I know of.

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 40 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 © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  IT IS TIME FOR THE REPUBLICANS TO FLEX THEIR MUSCLES – No more excuses; let’s roll!

LAST TIME:  MY TRIP TO THE GYM  – Things have changed over the years.

Listen to Tim on News Talk Florida (WWBA 820 AM), WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

Posted in Business, Management, Project Management | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

IN PRAISE OF MENTORING PROGRAMS

Posted by Tim Bryce on February 13, 2017

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– Once almost extinct, mentoring programs are making a comeback.

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

Mentoring has been a part of the corporate world for many years. When a young person came on board, someone would be assigned to him/her to offer advice. Not just anyone could be a mentor either, they had to demonstrate knowledge and skills for a specific line of work. Most enjoyed being a mentor as they saw it as a sort of “Big Brother/Sister.” From a corporate perspective, it was hoped the senior person would also pass on such things as ethics and decorum, basically a lot of “do’s” and “don’ts” thereby expediting the young person’s maturation and acclimation into the corporate culture and groom the next generation of employees in a smooth and consistent manner. Unfortunately, things started to go awry by the 1990’s whereby mentoring not only disappeared from the corporate landscape, but generational warfare erupted pitting the older workers against their younger counterparts. You could blame this on a variety of things, such as the bean counters who eliminated mentoring and training programs in order to save a buck or two, or on radical changes in Information Technology whereby older workers understood mainframes and legacy systems, while the younger workers rebelled with PC’s and networking. Regardless, an adversarial relationship emerged by the latter part of the 20th century.

Interestingly, mentoring is making a comeback in the corporate world, but it’s not quite the same as before. True, the older employees are taking the younger people under their wings, but there isn’t the same trust between mentor and protégé as there was years ago. Due to changing socioeconomic conditions in our country, both sides are suspicious of the other. Older workers are concerned that the young “upstarts” are going to force them out to pasture. Younger workers are also cognizant the older workers can no longer afford to retire and, as such, are working longer thereby complicating an already overcrowded job market. In other words, the young apprentice of today may become tomorrow’s adversary which, in turn, puts into question the advice being given by the mentor and the young person’s reception to it.

The chemistry between the mentor and protégé is important. Minor incompatibilities are to be expected, particularly between generations, but major differences will cause the mentoring program to become counter productive. One party has to be willing to teach, and the other has to be willing to learn; one has to be credible and authoritative, and the other must possess an inquisitive mind. If there is a clash of personalities or the parties involved put forth minimal effort, the program will self-destruct. This of course means there should be some administrative control over the mentoring program, particularly in the assignment of people and monitoring progress.

I do not know which duty is more difficult, the mentor or the mentee (the protégé). Both carry different responsibilities:

As to the mentee, when you consider the level of competition in the world today, it is your duty as the apprentice or student to challenge your mentor or coach and exceed their expectations, to go beyond them and move to the next level of your personal development. Simply satisfying the status quo is not sufficient, you must strive to rise above it, otherwise your development will stagnate and you will disappoint your mentor.

The person selected to become mentor should be mature and understand the responsibility he/she is being asked to perform. If they cannot devote the necessary time to it or makes light of the responsibility, there is little hope for success. The mentor must grasp the significance of the job and push the protégé to grow beyond their current capabilities. As such, be careful not to give misleading advice. Know your limitations and encourage the protégé to find their next stage of development. If not with you, then another.

The mentor program has a lot of benefits, but like anything, it depends on how much effort is exerted to make it successful. A mentor in name only is not a reliable program. It must be carefully thought out and administered to assure it is working. Key to this is the match up of mentor and mentee. Again, not everybody possess the skills for being a mentor, and not every young person can accept advice and constructive criticism. Then again, the person’s ability to adapt to the company should have been a consideration as part of their hire.

Mentoring is more than just passing on important knowledge, it’s passing on the culture of the company, the history of the industry, and survival tips for life in general. If the mentor has done a good job, he should be thanked with some small token of appreciation, by both the mentee and the company. As a young person, you would be wise to remember all of the people who helped you on your journey through life. After all, you carry with you a little bit of each person who has guided you.

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 40 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 © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  WHERE ARE THE ADULTS? – While liberals run amok, the Republicans are firmly in control.

LAST TIME:  CLEANING MY SOCK DRAWER  – What I found 25 years later or “How to upset the sock gods.”

Listen to Tim on News Talk Florida (WWBA 820 AM), WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

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WHAT HAPPENED TO THE TRAVEL EXPENSE REPORT?

Posted by Tim Bryce on February 1, 2017

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– Are your employees abusing travel expenses?

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

Recently, I have been hearing stories regarding the abuse of corporate travel expenses, not just in small businesses but in large Fortune 500 companies as well. For example, lavish dinners and libations are being charged during the course of non-sales related events; unauthorized gifts are being purchased for family members; employees being sent to seminars and meetings, only to blow-off the meeting to return home early; and several other indiscretions.

It used to be, managers would scrutinize travel expense reports carefully before approving them for payment, but this doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. The abuse of travel expenses is a serious matter as it can be costly to companies, yet some are treating it like a fringe benefit. If left unchecked, travel expenses can drive any company into the poor house.

Policies regarding travel expenses should be spelled out in a company manual of some kind, be it a policy manual, employee handbook, or something from Human Resources. Such a manual should clearly define what expenses the company will assume, and what they will not. This includes limits of daily costs for lodging, transportation, and meals. If the employee went over the prescribed limit, they were responsible for assuming the expense.

What worries me though, is that some managers are no longer checking the expense reports for excesses, and just rubber stamp them off their desk. To make matters worse, employees can become offended if you question them about an expense, particularly Millennials. It is like they are entitled to the expense for traveling on the company’s behalf.

One way of verifying expenses is to simply attach paperwork to the expense report, particularly receipts. To substantiate an employee’s participation at an event, it is wise to ask for a “trip report” detailing what the employee did at the event and what was learned. If the employee attended a workshop or class, proof of participation should be included, such as a certificate or letter of accomplishment. The point is, no paperwork, no reimbursement.

The one problem here is in the area of smart phones where purchases can be recorded on the fly without any printed receipts, including travel tickets, and hotel expenses. This may be convenient for purchasing such items, but the employee should still be held accountable for producing the necessary paperwork. Digital expense reports may be convenient for the employee to use, but they may not be adequate for recording all of the related documentation.

Thanks to the Internet and smart phones, employees are spending more time making their own travel plans. This does two things: it distracts them from their normal job, and; they do not necessarily find the best travel deals, thereby wasting more money. This is why a corporate travel planner is important, to get the best deals while saving time for the employee.

I guess what I do not understand is all of the hubbub regarding travel expense reports, which is actually quite simple to do. Managers have a fiduciary responsibility to manage such expenses, and implementing them should be a no-brainer. As much as you may want to empower employees, they should obviously not be given carte blanche to do whatever they want. This would be a recipe for disaster.

One last note, should an employee ask indignantly, “Why do you want this documentation, don’t you trust me?” I would make it clear to the person, “If you insist on wasting the company’s money, NO, I do not trust you.”

Also published with The Huffington Post.

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 40 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 © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  BASEBALL CARDS – Are they a commodity or a memento of our youth?

LAST TIME:  TECHNOLOGY CLAIMS ANOTHER VICTIM  – Farewell to the “Greatest Show on Earth.”

Listen to Tim on News Talk Florida (WWBA 820 AM), WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

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FACING REALITY

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 27, 2017

BRYCE ON BUSINESS

– People plain and simply don’t want to know it.

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

Telling the truth has gotten me into a lot of trouble on more than one occasion over the years, both personally and professionally. So much so that I have come to the conclusion that people plain and simply don’t want to know it. For starters, it’s hard to know when someone is telling the truth. A lot depends on the integrity of the person telling us something, coupled with our ability to apply logic. Erroneous results occur when we are being misled and don’t use our heads which is why people act more on perceptions as opposed to reality (which is what politicians running for office count on).

Facing reality can be a daunting task as it can be rather unpleasant. As a result, people retreat into a make-believe world or yearn for a bygone era. Let me give you an example, not long ago I took some time off to do some fly fishing in the mountains of North Carolina. The area I visited seemed to be somewhat depressed and I discussed it with a friend who had moved to the area. At one time, the area was well known as a prominent furniture maker and tobacco grower. But as foreign competition proliferated in the 1980’s and 1990’s, at a fraction of the cost of what the North Carolinians offered, companies closed their doors. Since the passage of the Federal Tobacco Quota Buyout in October 2004, North Carolina’s tobacco industry has been in a “transition” period, meaning tobacco production has sharply diminished in the area, if not disappeared altogether. All of this has given rise to unemployment, government subsidies, and a general bewilderment by the populace as to what to do next.

There are those still yearning for furniture work, but cannot seem to come to grips with the fact that the ship has sailed. Because of the natural beauty of the area, including mountains, streams, hunting and fishing, and gemstones, some would like to develop the area for tourism. Alas, this is pooh-poohed by the locals who are easily alarmed by outsiders and their perceived sinful ways. Instead, the residents have elected to simply do nothing and allow themselves to stagnate in a state of analysis paralysis. You can readily see the effect it is having on the natives as there is no hustle, no service, no nothing, just a defeatist attitude, all because they refuse to face reality.

I’m sure we have all seen instances of this throughout the country, if not in our very neighborhoods; people who are simply unwilling to recognize the truth and deal with reality; people who are unwilling to upset the status quo even at the expense of its demise. There is a scene in the movie “Men in Black” which sums it up for me; in it, Will Smith’s character (“Jay”) questions why the world doesn’t know about aliens living on Earth, “People are smart, they can handle it.”

To which, Tommy Lee Jones (“Kay”) replies, “A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it. Fifteen hundred years ago everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet. Imagine what you’ll know tomorrow.”

Imagine where we’ll be if we don’t face reality; maybe somewhere in North Carolina.

Also published with The Huffington Post.

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 40 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 © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  TECHNOLOGY CLAIMS ANOTHER VICTIM – Farewell to the “Greatest Show on Earth.”

LAST TIME:  A SENSE OF BUSINESS OPTIMISM  – Is a go-go era in the offing?

Listen to Tim on News Talk Florida (WWBA 820 AM), WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

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THINKING IN 360 DEGREES

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 23, 2017

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

–  Getting the big picture.

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

My company has been doing business in Japan since the mid-1970’s. We have enjoyed the experience and have marveled at how Japanese businessmen act and think. For example, it is very important for the Japanese to reach a group consensus on major decisions (an inherent part of the concept of Theory Z). By doing so, they solicit the input from all of the workers before making a decision (a bottom-up type of approach). As an American, I found this to be radically different than the western world’s top-down micromanagement approach. The Japanese approach may make for a longer sales cycle, but it simplifies implementation (after all, everyone has agreed to the decision).

As the Japanese work through a problem they tend to look at it from every angle or as they refer to it as thinking in “360 degrees.” This is a much wider perspective than what you typically find in western companies. Whereas the Japanese tend to think in terms of 360 Degrees, Americans tend to suffer from tunnel-vision, meaning they become overly concerned with a single piece of the puzzle. Maybe this is because the western world is somewhat territorial in nature. We become so obsessed with our piece of the pie we tend to overlook the entire dish.

I think a lot of this has to do with our conditioning. Whereas the Japanese are taught at an early age the importance of teamwork and cooperation, Americans are taught to be individualistic and competitive. No wonder Japanese think of the bigger picture while Americans tend to build and fight over their little fiefdoms.

Over the years I have learned that larger and more complex projects require teamwork, communications and cooperation. Maybe it is because of our natural aversion to cooperate, and not to think in terms of 360 degrees, that we have difficulty conquering anything of substance in this country anymore. This may be a major factor why we no longer think big and are content doing small things.

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 40 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 © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  A SENSE OF BUSINESS OPTIMISM – Is a go-go era in the offing?

LAST TIME:  WHAT I LEARNED ABOUT THE PRESS  – Dealing with an irresponsible press.

Listen to Tim on News Talk Florida (WWBA 820 AM), WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

 

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PERFECTION REQUIRES PATIENCE

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 16, 2017

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– Sometimes it is simply not possible to achieve.

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

If you ever happen to see a craftsman at work, regardless of their field of endeavor, they are mindful of Michelangelo’s axiom, “Trifles make perfection, and perfection is no trifle.” This of course means perfection rarely occurs in quick and dirty situations. Instead, a methodical approach is preferred over trial and error, whereby careful consideration is given to all of the elements of planning, design, testing, and installation, where the development of each component in the product is carefully scrutinized for quality. In other words, perfection requires patience to achieve. We should, therefore, be mindful of the speed versus defect phenomenon, whereby the faster we go the more likely we are to experience defects in workmanship; the slower we go, the less likely.

Regardless of our best intentions, it is still possible to overlook a minuscule detail thereby hindering perfection. Sometimes perfection is simply impossible to achieve, which is when we have to become practical and change tactics.

To illustrate, years ago we were hired by a Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan to look over a new Claims Processing system they were building. The focal point of their problem centered on adjudicating claims whereby they wanted to devise an automated way to analyze a claim and determine the amount of money to be paid out. They had spent considerable time and money analyzing adjudication and were frustrated they couldn’t come up with a standard algorithm for computing all claims. We studied the problem and found that 90% of their claims were easy to analyze and calculate adjudication. For example, simple doctor visits, a broken bone, normal childbirths, etc. were easy to analyze and compute. However, unusual medical claims such as complications at childbirth, and accidents from a massive car accident, involved many more variables and, consequently, were difficult to compute based on standard algorithms. After studying the problem carefully, we reached the conclusion that trying to accurately calculate 100% of all claims was an impossibility. It was simply not practical to try to achieve this lofty goal and, as such, was a waste of time pursuing it. Instead, it was our advice they simply automate the 90% claims they could easily perform and segregate the remaining 10% for handling by a human adjuster. To their surprise, this worked remarkably well and saved them considerable money.

Too often in systems and software development people try to do the impossible and often run into a stumbling block when trying to achieve their goal. Do we continue to waste time and money on a problem that cannot be conquered or do we stop, lick our wounds, and move around? The problem is knowing when to stop.

This is ultimately based on the concept of the “80/20 Rule” (aka, “”Pareto’s Principle”). Vilfredo Pareto was an Italian economist who observed in 1897 that 80 percent of the land in England was owned by 20 percent of the population. Pareto’s theory thereby relates to the ratio of input to output; e.g. twenty percent of your effort produces 80 percent of your results. From a time management perspective, it means 20 percent of the people are normally responsible for producing 80 percent of the work.

The concept of 80/20 can also be applied in other situations, as demonstrated by the above Claims Processing System. The point is, instead of continuing to beat your head against a wall, maybe it will be more practical to simply walk around it.

Also published with The Huffington Post.

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 40 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 © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  TRUMP’S INAUGURAL ADDRESS: WHAT WE NEED TO HEAR – What should his speech include?

LAST TIME:  TAKING THE SPORT OUT OF ATHLETICS  – Is the scientific approach dehumanizing sports?

Listen to Tim on News Talk Florida (WWBA 820 AM), WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

 

Posted in Business, Management | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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