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Posts Tagged ‘Management’

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.

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

PROACTIVE VERSUS REACTIVE MANAGEMENT

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 12, 2016

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– We have plenty of time to do things wrong.

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

“Beware of your ‘firefighters,’ they are probably your chief arsonists.”– Bryce’s Law

I have been thinking a lot about micromanagement lately. It seems the corporate world is consumed with mini-dictators who are bent on directing the activities of others. I also see this in nonprofit organizations consisting of volunteers and managed by leaders who can be rather ruthless. Nonetheless, I have also noticed there appears to be an inclination for such managers to be reactive as opposed to proactive in their style of management, and I cannot help but think that micromanagement and reactive management are somehow related.

I have met a lot of reactive managers in my time. All exhibit the following characteristics:

* Seldom has time for interoffice planning/organization meetings.

* Has trouble effectively communicating with the staff, particularly articulating objectives and plans.

* Not interested in or doesn’t heed input from subordinates.

* Spends more time supervising than managing.

* Makes excuses or blames others for problems; never assumes responsibility.

* Changes priorities on the fly.

* Rarely, if ever, produces priority lists (keeps it in his/her head).

* Bipolar – knows great enthusiasms and is easily depressed.

* Thrives on chaos – sees themselves as saviors. Likes to swoop in and solve problems.

As to this last point, we have encountered situations like this on more than one occasion, but in particular we were contracted by a large insurance company in the Midwest to audit the performance of two systems development groups in the company. One group appeared to be well organized and managed; they quietly went about their business and delivered their work products on time and within budget. Another group was just the antithesis of the other; systems were installed prematurely and never to the customer’s satisfaction, and assignments were routinely late and over budget. Nonetheless, the manager of this latter group was well respected for being able to put out fires at a moment’s notice.

When we finally presented our results to the board of directors, we made the observation that their head firefighter was also the cause of all of the problems he was correcting. Yet, whereas the manager of the group who quietly produced superior work products was unrecognized, the head firefighter was being amply rewarded for his efforts. Basically, he was taking advantage of the “squeaky wheel getting the oil” phenomenon. Frankly, the executives were surprised by our comments and that such a situation had arisen in their company.

There are two reasons for reactive management; either for political gain (as in the insurance example above), or because people simply do not know how to be proactive. One excuse commonly heard from reactive managers is, “We never have enough time to do things right.” Translation: “We have plenty of time to do things wrong.” True management is hard work, requiring skills in planning, analysis, organization, leadership, and communications. To some, it is easier to let problems come to them as opposed to trying to anticipate problems and take action before they occur. In other words, they resign themselves to a life of reactive management.

The proactive manager invests his time and money in planning and, consequently, spends less in implementation. In contrast, the reactive manager regards planning as a waste of time and is content spending an inordinate amount of time in implementation, thereby incurring more costs and, because of the ensuing chaos, needs to micromanage people.

Young people coming into the workforce tend to learn from their managers and emulate their style for years to come. If they see proactive management, they will believe this is the proper way of conducting business and perpetuate this style, but if they only see reactive management…

This leads me to believe we will be plagued by reactive management for quite some time to come.

Also published with News Talk Florida.

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 © 2016 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  PROOF OF TECHNOLOGY ADDICTION – Yes, it is a drug.

LAST TIME:  WHAT INFLATION?  – Are prices going up or is it just my imagination?

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: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

WHO ADMINISTERS STATE GOVERNMENTS BETTER, DEMOCRATS OR REPUBLICANS?

Posted by Tim Bryce on July 8, 2016

BRYCE ON GOVERNMENT

– A new report from George Mason University says a lot.

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

Today we hear stories about the economic instability of state governments, rising taxes, potential bankruptcies, etc. Are these flukes of just bad policies and administration? According to a recent report from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, it appears success is not by accident, and Republicans appear to do a better job than their Democratic counterparts.

The Mercatus report, titled “Ranking the States by Fiscal Condition” (June 1, 2016), examined the financial stability of the fifty states, plus Puerto Rico. The report considered debt and financial obligations, as well as state pension programs and health care benefits. Not surprising, Puerto Rico, with its pending bankruptcy, was rated dead last (#51).

The TOP 10 states demonstrating financial solvency include:

#1 Alaska
#2 Nebraska
#3 Wyoming
#4 North Dakota
#5 South Dakota
#6 Florida
#7 Utah
#8 Oklahoma
#9 Tennessee
#10 Montana

The BOTTOM 10 states not demonstrating financial stability include:

#41 Maryland
#42 New York
#43 Maine
#44 California
#45 Hawaii
#46 Kentucky
#47 Illinois
#48 New Jersey
#49 Massachusetts
#50 Connecticut
#51 Puerto Rico

Perhaps the most noteworthy observation made was that all of the Top 10 states are Republican controlled, meaning both the Governor and the legislatures are in GOP hands. Further, with the exception of Kentucky, all of the bottom 10 states, plus Puerto Rico, are controlled by the Democrats. In New Jersey, the Governor is Republican, but both houses of the legislature are controlled by the Democrats.

Let’s examine the differences between #1 Alaska and #50 Connecticut. According to the Mercatus report:

Alaska: “Given Alaska’s reliance on oil revenues, the state has between 22.46 and 23.44 times the cash needed to cover short-term liabilities. Revenues exceed expenses by 55 percent, producing a surplus of $8,296 per capita. On a long-run basis, net assets represent 85 percent of total assets, and liabilities are 3 percent of total assets.”

Connecticut: “Connecticut’s fiscal position is poor across all categories. With between only 0.46 and 1.19 times the cash needed to cover short-term liabilities, Connecticut’s revenues matched only 94 percent of expenses, producing a deficit of $505 per capita. The state is heavily reliant on debt to finance its spending. With a negative net asset ratio of -0.88 and liabilities exceeding assets by 34 percent, per capita debt is $9,077. Total debt is $20.88 billion. Unfunded pensions are $83.31 billion on a guaranteed-to-be-paid basis, and other postemployment benefits (OPEB) are $19.53 billion. Total liabilities are equal to 53 percent of total state personal income.”

The difference between the two states is rather obvious, one has developed assets and works to live within its means; the other relies on deficit spending thereby adding to the state’s debt.

Beyond assets and liabilities, the programs established for social services and employment varies. For example, with the exception of Alaska, all of the Top 10 are “Right to Work” states, and none of the Bottom 10 have a “Right to Work” program.

From the Mercatus report, you can conclude Republican states take their fiduciary responsibility more seriously. The Democratic states seem to possess a credit card mentality where they spend and spend on social programs and civic projects without considering how to pay for them, causing the states to lean towards a Puerto Rican bankruptcy scenario.

I invite you to examine the report and consider how well your state is managing its financial resources. Click HERE.

Also published with News Talk Florida.

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 © 2016 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  WILL TRUMP SUPPORTERS DEFEND THEMSELVES? – Who will pull the trigger?

LAST TIME:  TRUMP’S GOAL: ENERGY INDEPENDENCE  – The benefits from becoming the world’s energy merchants.

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); and WWBA-AM (News Talk Florida 820). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Government, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

ACQUISITIONS: A BAD SIGN?

Posted by Tim Bryce on February 29, 2016

BRYCE ON BUSINESS

– Another indicator of the fragile state of our economy.

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

Normally, when you want to analyze the state of our economy, you examine such things as Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which is currently at a paltry annual rate of 0.7%. Or you might consider unemployment which, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics is at 5%. This, of course, does not include people who have stopped looking for work over the past four weeks, thereby bringing the real unemployment rate up to 9.9% (according to Gallup).

However, the Gallup organization recently produced a new report about corporate acquisitions corporate acquisitions which reveals some unsettling numbers affecting the economy. In a nutshell, Gallup discovered companies are frustrated by an economy inhibiting them from growing from within, preferring instead to acquire competitive companies.

In studying the Forbes Global 2000 (G2000) companies, Gallup discovered the number of publicly traded companies have been cut in half over the past twenty years, going from approximately 7,300 to 3,700. As the company correctly points out, “In a perfect world, the market would have doubled the number of big public companies instead of halving it.”

However, getting companies to improve internally has become a serious challenge. As Gallup explains it, 71% of workers have become indifferent about their companies and have actively disengaged from them. This means only a handful of employees find meaning in their work and are industrious.

The question is, why have so many people become disengaged at work? In large part, blame can be placed on management’s inclination to micromanage everything in an office, thereby creating a master/slave mentality which is hardly conducive for encouraging workers to assume responsibility, take charge, and become engaged in the business of the company. As I’ve mentioned on many occasions, I am more of a believer in managing from the bottom-up, meaning you should train your people properly, empower them to execute project assignments on their own, and get out of their way. Of course, managers should monitor project status and run interference on problems as required, thereby allowing the workers to focus on their responsibilities. Such an approach encourages workers to take ownership of their projects and create an esprit de corps. In other words, managers should manage more and supervise less.

By simply “managing from the bottom-up,” companies can engage their workers, thereby providing them with the ability to improve from within, and deter the need to acquire other companies. Besides, how do we know these other companies are any better than our own?

Related article:
“Are You Engaged in Work?” (Nov 11, 2013)

Also published with News Talk Florida.

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 © 2016 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  AT HOME WITH THE MILLENNIALS – Why are so many staying home?

LAST TIME:  GREETINGS FROM PLANET NINE  – The new Hollywood.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); 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); and WWBA-AM (News Talk Florida 820). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

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

HI-HO, HI-HO, IT’S BACK TO WORK WE GO – PART II

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 4, 2016

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– Some New Year resolutions for the office.

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

A couple of years ago I wrote a column titled, “Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It’s Back to Work We Go” (Jan 06, 2014), whereby I gave some advice to managers regarding the implementation of changes in the office to make employees more productive. Basically, I discussed how some simple modifications in the office’s physical appearance can have a positive effect on the corporate culture. Here, I would like to continue by describing some attitudinal changes by office workers, including both management and the work force.

First, middle management should learn to manage more and supervise less (e.g., micromanagement). This means they should treat workers like professionals, empower them to perform projects and tasks on their own, and try to stay out of their way. The only time the manager should become involved is when a problem arises that cannot be solved by the workers, assigning new projects or tasks to be performed, and holding workers accountable for their actions. To make this effective, a routine reporting system must be devised to keep management appraised of the status of projects and activities (e.g., a project management system). This, of course means a Theory Y form of management where employees are managed from the “bottom-up” as opposed to autocratic rule (“top-down”). Such an approach will cause workers to become more resourceful, innovative, and develop a sense of “ownership” over their work products, thereby promoting corporate loyalty.

Management should also endeavor to manage the workplace and corporate culture in such a way as to promote a professional atmosphere, high ethics, promote teamwork and courteous behavior, thereby causing workers to become more disciplined and develop a sense of pride in workmanship.

Two other ideas come to mind; first, making sure the staff understands the history of the business and their chosen craft, and; second, teach employees to “think big” by having them become cognizant of the big picture of the business. For example, if they are charged with a small part of a system, have them learn about the entire system so they come to understand how their role affects others. This will encourage them to think beyond their scope of work and create synergism among the workers. Both middle management and workers should also be aware of the amount of money required to operate their section of the business. This means they should participate in the process of developing a budget. By doing so, it makes them conscious of profit and loss, which helps to focus their priorities and incentives.

Workers also need to adjust their attitude. Instead, of watching the clock, they should dedicate themselves to learning more about the work products they are charged with producing. In other words, they need to be equally cognizant of quality as well as speed in delivery. They should also strive to project a professional image by being courteous, neat in appearance, a team player, and strive to excel the ethical standards of the business. Their motto should be, “What I do not know, I will not fabricate an excuse but endeavor to learn the answer; what I do know, I will share with others.”

Senior workers should mentor young workers in the proper procedures for developing and delivering work products, and be smart enough to listen to the younger workers who may have learned a new trick or two particularly in the area of technology.

Conversely, younger workers should listen to their elders and challenge the status quo to constantly seek new and improved ways for performing tasks. Even if they finished school with honors, they should constantly strive to improve their work related skills, this includes learning the corporate history and their craft. After all, there is no need to reinvent the wheel or commit the mistakes of their predecessors.

A little attitude adjustment and some resolutions for the new year can work wonders. As I mentioned in my other column, January is the time for management to implement such innovations. Such changes should capture the attention of the work force and help reinvigorate them for the year.

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 © 2016 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT MR. TRUMP? – Not as much as you think.

LAST TIME:  2015 YEAR-END WRAP-UP  – My most popular columns this year.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; and 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: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

ARE WE GETTING LAZY?

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 11, 2015

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– some interesting statistics describe a change is underfoot.

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

According to a recent YouGov poll, American workers want a 35 hour work week and at least two weeks vacation (10/19/2015). The concept of a forty hour work week may already be a thing of the past. According to the statistics provided in the report, American workers on the average spent 1,836 hours of work in 2000, that comes to 35.3 hours per week (not including vacations). By 2014, this dropped to 1,789 hours for 34.4 hours per week (again, not including vacations). This is substantially different than the “go-go” years of the 1960’s and 1970’s when it was not unusual to work more than sixty hours a week. As an aside, office workers were normally dressed in suit and tie, drank a lot of black coffee, and smoked their brains out, but not so today.

In the survey, respondents claimed their European counterparts were already working much less than we are in America. This mindset always puzzled me. Why should we care what other countries do? Do we really want to keep “down” with the Jones’? Historically, American workers were considered the valued resources which propelled our economy, but I guess this doesn’t matter anymore.

With workers less inclined to work additional hours, management is more inclined to seek new ways to speed up processes to maximize their efficiency. Normally, the need to improve speed in manufacturing has been met by improvements in technology on assembly lines, such as the use of robotics to expedite such tasks as welding. However, in the early part of this century, the “Agile” movement came to prominence in terms of how to quickly develop computer software. This movement was a departure from normal manufacturing methods and embraced an iterative process to develop software, e.g., write some code, than continue to modify it until the end-user accepts it. Some call this progress, I call it “quick and dirty” and certainly does not promote craftsmanship or quality work products. For example, documentation of the program is considered optional, thereby complicating the implementation of future changes (e.g., how can you change an office building without a set of blueprints; the same is true in programming).

In other words, the Agile people want to expedite the process by skipping steps, thereby adding risk in the form of defects. By doing so, I contend this approach drives the maintenance backlog to grow in size, not to reduce it.

The concept of “Agile” development has grown beyond programming and can now be found in project management, systems design, data base design, and influencing other processes beyond the Information Technology field. Regardless of its weaknesses, this is how youth today perceives how business should be conducted and why managers are worried about defects in workmanship. It also adds to the perception by management that workers are lazy; hence a Theory X form of management ensues (autocratic rule; aka, “micromanagement”).

Nonetheless, it is this mindset that is causing people to re-think the work week. Today, workers primarily worry about the amount of time they put in at work, not the work products they are charged to produce. In other words, a blue collar mentality is flourishing throughout business.

Under a Theory X form of management, the manager spends more time supervising than managing. This greatly inhibits worker ambition and innovation, hence the interest in doing less. This is why I am a proponent of Theory Y where you manage from the bottom-up, meaning you delegate responsibility and get out of the way of the workers. The only time the manager should talk to the worker is to provide assignments, receive status reports, and help them overcome any problems they may face. In other words, managers should manage more and supervise less. By treating workers like professionals, they will respond accordingly, and you will have fewer clock watchers.

As an aside, Theory Y was the management philosophy of choice during the “go-go” years of the 1960’s and 1970’s.

“It’s not the time you put in, it’s the work product you put out.” – Bryce’s Law

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 © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  THE DICHOTOMY OF OUR DRUG CULTURE – Why are we sending mixed signals to the American public?

LAST TIME:  THE GROWING POLITICAL POLARITY  – File this under, “More Trouble Brewing.”

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; and 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 Management | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

A TALE OF TWO PROJECTS

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 12, 2015

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– “Beware of your firefighters; they are probably your chief arsonists.” – Bryce’s Law

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

The following is a true story; a vintage “Dilbertism.” Because of this, the names have been changed to protect the innocent (as well as the guilty). Interestingly, I do not believe this story to be unique and similar stories can be found in countless IT shops around the world.

Our story begins just a couple of years ago in a large manufacturing company in the American Midwest. At the time, the company was interested in replacing two aging, yet important, systems; an Accounts Payable System (“AP”) and an Accounts Receivable System (“AR”). The IT Director selected two of his most seasoned veterans to manage the projects, we’ll call them “Steve” and “Bob.” Both project managers were charged with their responsibilities on the same day: Steve to build the AP system, and Bob to build the AR system. Both were given approximately the same amount of human and machine resources to accomplish the work.

Steve was a very organized and disciplined manager. He found it essential to organize and train his staff upfront so everyone understood the development process, the deliverables to be produced, and their assigned responsibilities. Recognizing the large scope of his project, Steve felt it important to methodically attack his system and meticulously worked out a plan and schedule to implement it. In Phase 1 he spent what appeared to be an inordinate amount of time studying the business problem, specifying information requirements, and developing a rough design of the system solution. Steve’s people actively participated in this early phase and thought the problem through carefully before proceeding with the project. Following the Phase 1, Steve’s team finalized details of the overall AP system architecture, and divided his group into teams to tackle the various sub-systems in parallel. To complement this effort, his data base people oversaw the logical data base design to accommodate the needs of the whole system, not just any one portion of it.

Steve also recruited the support of the AP Department and had key personnel from this area participate in the development of the system. The input from these users was vital not only in Phase 1, but also in succeeding phases where the business processes were designed.

By concentrating on the overall system architecture and then by gradually refining the design over succeeding phases, the Software Engineers were given detailed specifications which were easy to follow and implement. Consequently, the programming phases went smoothly, including testing.

The core sub-systems satisfying the operational needs of AP were on schedule and being installed with great support from the user community.

While Steve’s project was coming along smoothly, Bob was facing chaos with the AR system. Instead of studying the problem upfront, Bob’s group began by building a core data base. Shortly thereafter he set his programmers to work building some basic input screens and rather simple outputs. In no time, Bob had something to demonstrate to the user community (and his boss) to prove progress was indeed being made.

Bob’s group though had not done their homework. The AR community was not consulted and requirements were not defined. As a result, programmers were left second-guessing what the users really needed which started a long round of “cut-and-fitting” the code. Further, the integrity of the data base came into question. False assumptions were made about calculated data elements which cascaded throughout the program code. In addition, data validation rules were not established. This forced the programmers to invent their own rules and calculation formulas in each of their programs which led to data redundancy issues and even bigger headaches for the development staff. As users were given glimpses of the programs by Bob, data integrity issues became an issue and the users didn’t trust the information being produced by the system (e.g., calculations were computed differently by the various programs). Bob’s group touted the AR system as “state-of-the-art,” but the users were not convinced it was reliable or intuitive to use.

All of this lead to a redesign of the data base and programs, not just once but several times. Consequently, the project schedule started to slip and costs exceeded budget. To overcome this problem, Bob and his staff worked overtime to play catch-up with the schedule (which he never realized). Regardless, the IT Director began to take notice of the long hours Bob and his team were putting into the project and complimented them on their dedication.

Bob finally delivered a portion of the project to the AR department, but in testing it the users found it fraught with errors. To overcome this problem, Bob’s group was ever ready to jump in and modify the code as required. Even though the users found the programs buggy, they commended Bob for how quickly his group would be able to fix them.

The difference between Steve and Bob’s groups were like night and day. While Bob operated under a “helter-skelter” mode of operation, Steve’s group operated quietly and began to deliver the system on time and within budget, much to the user department’s satisfaction.

Steve understood the enormity of the system and its importance to the company, and, as such, took the time to organize and train his group accordingly. Bob also understood the importance of his application but took the tact of producing something management and the user community could “touch and feel” thereby demonstrating something was happening in his department, right or wrong. Further, his SWAT team approach to putting out fires made him a favorite with corporate management. As a result, Bob enjoyed a high profile in the company while Steve was a relative unknown.

Unfortunately, Bob’s project ran amok, unbearably so. Recognizing he had to do something radical in order to get Bob’s project back on track, the IT Director made an unusual move; he swapped Steve and Bob as project managers. Steve was charged with cleaning up Bob’s mess, and Bob was charged with finishing Steve’s project. Offhand it sounded like a shrewd move. Steve had proven to the IT Director he could get things done, regardless of the application size. And the IT Director figured Bob could simply close-out the AP project. The IT Director figured wrong. While Steve started the arduous task of bringing organization and discipline to the AR system, Bob quickly dismantled Steve’s organization and brought chaos to the AP system. This did not sit well with a lot of people, particularly Steve’s former project team who felt they had grasped defeat from the jaws of victory. Steve was also growing disenchanted as he had almost completed one system and was now charged with cleaning up his predecessor’s mess. To add insult to injury, because of Bob’s high profile status, he was given an increase in pay and job promotion, but Steve didn’t receive likewise.

Steve got the AR system back on track and finally implemented it much to the satisfaction of all concerned. Bob lost control of the AP system almost immediately and it spun out of control until Steve was finally called back in to finish it. Not knowing what to do with high-profile Bob, the IT Director made the classic move of promoting Bob and transferring him to another area where he could do less harm.

LESSONS LEARNED

Is there a happy ending to this true story? Not for Steve. Although he cleaned up the mess and ultimately managed both projects to a successful conclusion, he became disenchanted with how he had been treated by the company. Subsequently, he left and started his own consulting firm who was ultimately hired by his old company to develop new systems (at substantially higher rates). As for Bob, he enjoyed the perks and pay resulting from his new position for quite some time. Eventually, he got the hint and moved on to another company where he made a similar name for himself.

Although Bob was a fine example of the “Peter Principle” (rising above your level of competence) he recognized results were not necessary on the road to success, but rather, image was everything. He learned early on that “the squeaky wheel gets the oil.”

As I mentioned at the outset, this is not a random incident, but one that could probably be told by a multitude of corporations who have “promoted the guilty, and prosecuted the innocent.”

Have you got a similar story? Please do not hesitate to send them to me.

Originally published: May 23, 2005

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 © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  INDIVIDUALISM VERSUS TEAMWORK – “There is more to building a team than buying new uniforms.” – Bryce’s Law

LAST TIME:  OUR ATTACHMENT TO AUTOMOBILES  – How we embrace cars into our lives.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; and 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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THE FACTS OF LIFE REGARDING MANAGEMENT

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 1, 2014

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– One of four new books from Tim; this book provides lessons well suited for those aspiring to become effective managers.

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

The following are excerpts from the Introduction of my new book, “THE FACTS OF LIFE REGARDING MANAGEMENT,” one of four new books I recently introduced, available in paper and Kindle eBook formats from Amazon.

When I graduated from college I became immersed in computers, specifically how they were applied to expedite corporate information systems. This led me down a path of management consulting where I was fortunate to have toured quite a bit of the world, visiting companies of all sizes and shapes, and people from the trenches to the boardroom. It was a very enlightening journey. I learned a lot about technology, but more importantly I learned a lot about people. For example, I discovered systems fail more for the lack of people procedures as opposed to computer procedures. To illustrate, my firm had a large manufacturing customer who designed a new “state-of-the-art” shop-floor control system whereby they wanted to spot errors along the assembly line and then quickly react and correct the hiccup. From a software perspective, it was a well thought-out and elegant solution coupled with an integrated data base. There was just one problem; it didn’t work. Consequently, we were called in on a consulting basis to try and determine what was wrong. We carefully examined the architecture of the system overall, not just the software, and quickly found the problem; Whenever an error occurred on the shop-floor, an error message was displayed on a computer screen for the shop-floor supervisor to act upon. Unfortunately, nobody told the supervisor about the computer screen, the messages, or procedurally how to respond to it. We wrote a simple procedure for the supervisor who then read and responded to the errors properly and the system ran perfectly thereafter. Our client thought we were geniuses; we thought it was nothing more than common sense.

Unlike the computer which will do anything you instruct it to, right or wrong, writing for the human being is actually more difficult. People are more emotional and can be lazy and uncooperative at times. Writing for people, therefore, can be an arduous task. Such scenarios led me to the conclusion we often take people for granted in companies today. They are certainly not machines, but flesh and blood with all of the foibles of being human.

Here in the 21st century, the corporate world seems to have embraced “micromanagement,” a top-down, dictatorial form of management. Although I will discuss this in more detail within the pages of this book, I consider micromanagement a Master/Slave relationship which has little regard for the human spirit. I believe in the dignity of all forms of work and that the human being must lead a worthy life. As such, I fervently believe in “Managing from the Bottom-Up” whereby people are trusted and empowered to perform their work, and supervise themselves.

Within this book, I am less interested in promoting a cockamamie theory of management, such as “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin,” and more concerned with practical advice on managing people. What is discussed herein is based on actual observations and proven techniques found to be sound and practical for business management.

There are eight sections in the book:

1. THE NATURE OF WORK – describing the dignity and morality of work.

2. PERCEPTIONS – what we act upon, and the basic theories of management.

3. MANAGEMENT – the skills required to be an effective manager.

4. SPECIAL SUBJECTS – topics related to management; e.g., Customer Service, Work Measurement, etc.

5. SOCIALIZATION SKILLS – techniques for improving your people skills.

6. EPILOGUE – concluding comments.

7. QUOTATIONS – related to management.

8. BRYCE’S LAWS – those related to management.

I always viewed “management” as a people oriented function, not a mechanical function (which is why “man” is used as part of the word). I define it as, “getting people to do what you want, when you want it, and how you want it.” The corporate landscape has changed considerably since I first entered the work force in the 1970’s. Thanks to changes in government regulations and socioeconomic conditions, we have witnessed substantial changes to corporate cultures in terms of communications, fashion, socialization, morality, and how we conduct business. Despite all this, one thing has remained constant: the need to get a job done, and this is the domain of the manager.

Quite often management is taken for granted, that it comes naturally to people. It doesn’t. I see companies spending millions of dollars on technology but little on improving the skills of its managers. To me, this is putting the cart before the horse. Some people are afraid to manage; probably because they do not know how to or because they live in fear of a lawsuit. Others devise harebrained schemes to manage their area (usually involving the manipulation of numbers). There is actually nothing magical to management; all it requires is a little common sense. However, as I have learned over the last 30 years in business, if there is anything uncommon today, it is common sense. I wrote this book because management is not naturally intuitive to people, nor is it painless.

This book is well suited for those aspiring to become effective managers, as well as for those who require a refresher or change of focus. It should also be read by workers to better understand what is required of a manager, thereby lending him the support he desperately needs to fulfill his duty. Some of you may not like what I have to say, and I warn you that I am not always politically correct. Regardless, my observations are based on years of experience traveling around the world and visiting with hundreds of different types of corporations where I have seen a lot of successes, as well as a lot of snafus.

Throughout this book you will hear about such things as corporate culture, empowering the workers (managing from the bottom-up), and the need for developing the socialization skills of the next generation of our workers; in other words, the human elements of management. This is one reason why our corporate slogan is “Software for the finest computer – the Mind,” for in the end, it is the human-being that matters most, not our technology.

Tim’s “Uncommon Sense Series” is available in paperbook and eBook format. For information, click HERE

NOTE: Tim is available for radio interviews and lectures. Click to REQUEST SPEAKER.

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 © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  THE FACTS OF LIFE REGARDING MANAGEMENT – One of four new books from Tim; this book provides lessons well suited for those aspiring to become effective managers.

LAST TIME:  WHAT ARE WE GIVING THANKS TO?  – What kind of grace do you give at turkey time?

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; The Glenn Pav Show on WTAN-AM (1340) in Clearwater, FL, Mon-Fri (9-10am); and 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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THEORIES X, Y, AND Z

Posted by Tim Bryce on November 3, 2014

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– The three basic theories of management.

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

Whenever I bring up the subject of micromanagement, it inevitably leads to a discussion regarding the three basic theories of management (X, Y, and Z). Most young people are unfamiliar with these theories and, as such, I want to provide a brief description of each so they can distinguish between them.

First, a particular management style is ultimately based on how a manager perceives an employee. For example, if a manager thinks a worker is lazy, the manager will spend more time supervising the individual. In contrast, if a manager has faith in the worker’s judgement, the manager will allow the employee to supervise himself. Perceptions, therefore, plays a significant role in formulating a management style.

There are basically three perceptions management considers:

The worker’s intelligence level – Whether the individual is considered capable of rising above their current position, or has exceeded their level of competency (the “in over their head” phenomenon). This is often gauged by the number of mistakes the worker makes and their ability to grasp new ideas.

The worker’s motivation – Whether the worker is perceived as a self-starter and aggressively tackles assignments, or is lazy and needs to be coerced. This is primarily measured by the amount of time needed to supervise the individual.

The worker’s attitude – Whether the worker is viewed as stimulated by their job and enjoys their work, or is adverse to work and apathetic to accomplishing anything. This can be analyzed by the amount of time spent conquering job assignments (obsessed with meeting a deadline versus a “clock watcher” mentality), and the employee’s deportment as a professional (sharp and articulate versus slovenly).

Whether these perceptions are real or not, management will base their style of management on these variables. Many people understand the power of image, and often try to mislead others, particularly their superiors. Knowing these variables, many a worker has tried to convey a false image to their employer. For example, an impeccable taste in dress may be a charade for incompetence. Someone who spends an inordinate amount of time at the office, yet produces nothing, is not an effective measure of an individual’s productivity. In other words, just because an employee is strong in one area, they may be weak in another. Management will ultimately base their opinions based on all three variables, not just one.

Over the last 100 years, three distinctly different theories of management have emerged: Theories “X”, “Y,” and “Z”. All three are based on how management perceives the work force in terms of their intelligence level, motivation and attitude towards their job. Consequently, this perception becomes the basis for formulating formal policies and standard practices towards managing employees. Although the delineation of “X”, “Y,” and “Z” represent totally different management philosophies, few companies will formulate a style of management based on a single theory. In reality, companies use various elements from all three theories based on different situations, everything from autocratic control to casual democracy.

THEORY X
Developed from time-and-motion studies by Frederick W. Taylor (19th century Industrial Engineer)

* Autocratic rule.
* People have a natural aversion to work.
* People need to be coerced to achieve goals.
* Average person prefers to be directed, wishes to avoid responsibility, has little ambition, and wants security most.

THEORY Y
Developed from experiments at the Western Electric Hawthorne Works in Chicago (1930’s). Management giving special attention to people resulted in improved performance.

* Work is as natural as play or rest.
* People will achieve goals they deem important.
* Commitment/reward relationship.
* People accept and seek responsibility.
* People can use imagination and creativity.
* More brain power is used.

THEORY Z
Developed by William Ouchi (UCLA) based on study of Japanese businesses during the 1970’s. Observed higher productivity because Japanese society encourages mutual trust and cooperation.

* Long term employment.
* Employees need freedom to grow.
* Group decision making.
* Subordinates are whole people.
* Management is concerned with welfare of subordinates.
* Open communications.
* Complete trust.
* Cooperation vs. competition.

Today, America lives in a Theory X world of micromanagement, where the boss makes all of the decisions for the workers and closely supervises their actions. Here, workers feel encumbered by management and yearn for more freedom. As I came into the workforce in the 1970’s it was more of a Theory Y type of world, where employees were empowered and expected to supervise themselves. I have also witnessed Theory Z firsthand in Japan. Here, there is a deep respect for the human spirit. Consequently, trust between management and workers is cultivated.

Why the shift from Theory Y to Theory X in this country? My guess is that management has become overzealous in taking credit for success. Should a project fail, the workers are blamed. If it is a success, management expects to be rewarded. I also believe workers tend to shun responsibility. If something goes awry, they can blame management’s supervision. This is why I am a believer of Theory Y where people are asked to be professional and supervise themselves. By empowering people in this manner, you can manage from the bottom-up, not just top-down.

Just remember, it is all about perceptions; how managers perceive the workers, how the workers perceive themselves, and how we perceive our values.

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 © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  SAYING GOODBYE TO A HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER – Thanks for the memories (and giving us some direction).

LAST TIME:  LAWN MOWING  – the joys of mowing your lawn yourself.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins
(Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL;
The Glenn Pav Show on WTAN-AM (1340) in Clearwater, FL, Mon-Fri (9-10am);
and 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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HI HO, HI HO, IT’S BACK TO WORK WE GO

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 6, 2014

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– Now is the time for management to stimulate the work force.

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

Okay, the holidays are over, our friends and relatives should have returned home, the retailers had their way with us, we’re back in debt, the holiday decorations should have been stored away for another year, and a sense of normalcy should be returning. It’s a new year, and time to go back to work. January is when we reset the statistics, brace for a new year, and try to prove ourselves once again.

Some people have trouble getting back into the swing of work after the holidays; they’ve probably slept too much, partied too much, and ate way too much, which explains the five-to-eight pounds they’ve put on. This is why dieting and temperance are among the top New Year’s resolutions. Regardless, they are having trouble focusing on their work.

People tend to believe December is the worst month for productivity. Hardly. In addition to general retail, December is when companies try to finish spending the money in their corporate budgets thereby initiating a flurry of activity. Companies would much rather spend money on technology, office furniture, construction, or their employees as opposed to giving it to the government. Instead, January is more difficult as managers have to encourage lethargic employees back to work. The cold weather doesn’t help either.

Now is the time for some imaginative management techniques to motivate the work force. Basically, I’m suggesting some changes to the corporate culture. Physically, you might want to consider a new coat of paint, changes in lighting, some aromatic plants or flowers, new uniforms, new screen savers, a cleanup of office files and furniture, some changes in music, or perhaps something different to eat in the corporate cafeteria. In other words, consider changes affecting the five senses of the workers. It doesn’t have to be lavish either, just something subtle the employees will notice and appreciate.

You may also want to rethink meetings, including when they are conducted, location, and format. For example, instead of a boardroom setup, how about a u-shaped set of tables allowing the manager to easily move about? A change of dress code may also be wise; if you’ve been too lax and sloppy, perhaps it is time to become a little more formal. If you’ve been too formal, perhaps it is time to loosen things up. Believe me, employees notice and respond.

It shouldn’t be the manager’s objective to make radical changes in work habits. Such changes will be resisted regardless of the time of year. Instead, small changes will be noticed by employees who will see them in a positive light, that management appreciates them and is willing to invest in them. “Hmm…, a New Year, some new changes… I like it.”

Your objective is to demonstrate you are investing in your people, and not taking them for granted. Whatever the twist may be, January is the time for management to try it. In all likelihood, it will capture the attention of the work force and help reinvigorate them for the new year.

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 © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  WHAT’S IN A JOB TITLE? – Evidently a lot.

LAST TIME:  2013 YEAR-END WRAP-UP – My most popular columns this year.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays, 6:00-10:00am Mountain), and 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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