Friday, April 24, 2015

Lao-tzu, The Way Of The Tao: Manage With Care

"Rule a large country as you would cook a small fish"

- Lao-tzu, The Way of the Tao

  Although very little is known about Lao-tzu, the teachings found in The Way of the Tao have become the foundation of a way of life for twenty million people today.
 The name Lao-tzu itself is more a title that literally means "old master" so it could simply be a name, similar to Homer or Preacher in Ecclesiastes, labeling someone who has written a famous or ancient work.

  There is even doubt that Lao-tzu actually wrote The Way of the Tao, or any other one person for that matter. Despite this mystery, the work and it's famous quote stated above are attributed to Lao-tzu, and the followers of the religion that grew from it don't seem to mind.

 The title statement has been misused a thousand times by speakers who simply wanted to appear worldly and educated to his audience, or maybe even to impress a girl by looking like a deep thinker who is well-read. 
 Many of the lessons in The Way of the Tao are open to personal interpretation, and I will simply offer my own as it appears to pertain to the management of a workforce.
With it's terseness and trace of humor, this famous line looks to advise political moderation and the modesty of wisdom. The wise governor governs least and interferes least.
 As opposed to the dangerously broad strokes common to the risk-takers, a bit more tact and diplomacy is called for in today's work environment. 
  2015  The Leader Coach    -    JB Stran

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Handy Hacks For Your Smarter, Simpler Life

  A Few Simple Life Hack Secrets That Make You Look and Feel Smarter

 We all love learning a new trick, especially when it's something that can save us time or money.
Here's a few of my favorites:

>  Buff a CD/DVD or Clear a Hazy Headlight with Toothpaste:
Apply toothpaste to a cotton ball and wipe the disc. Wash with water afterwards and you’ve got a brand new disc!
  Dab plain white toothpaste on the plastic headlight shell and polish with a lightly dampened cotton rag. Work it around real good. Wipe clean with a wet towel and your headlight is clear again!

 Buff Dings out of Wood Furniture with a Walnut:
Get rid of unsightly scratches and dings on wood furniture by rubbing a walnut on the areas. The blemishes will vanish quickly and your furniture and pocket book will be saved.

 Remove Permanent Marker with Rubbing Alcohol:
Dab the surface that has the permanent marker on it with a cloth or cotton ball covered in rubbing alcohol to make it disappear quickly.

Neat, Huh?

  More to follow...

  § Copyright   J.B. Stran

Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Intentional Stress Secret aka: The WYGDA Factor

The Secret Reason for Fabricated Stress in Your Team: The WYGDA factor

   The Problem Child.   The Instigator.  Nearly every  team has one, and far too many managers have gone head-to-head with at least one at some point in his career.
 This employee seems to create conflict wherever he or she goes. Some actually appear to enjoy the dramas that are left in their wake. Whether your problem child is overtly hostile, attention seeking, or simply basking in the spotlight of infamy, the resulting stresses are all the same for you and your team.

 As a manager in Baltimore many years ago, this type of employee was more than just a minor nuisance, and on some teams they actually outnumbered the more mature workers who showed up every day to give a fair effort without rocking the boat. This type of imbalance can have a devastating effect on overall production, even if only because the fabricated dissention is contagious.
 These boat rockers could easily tie up the majority of your day with headache-inducing conflicts and needless personal dramas, and why not? You are going to pay them either way, and by forcing the WYGDA factor they are in fact being paid to complain, to waste your time, and to hold up production.
 They go home happy every day, while you and your team fall further behind schedule.

So, What You Gonna Do About it?

  This is a game of dares, first and foremost. Falling under the heading of the Get Over Game, the long term goal is to take effective control away from management and put it in the hands of a small group of bullies who will keep you dancing on your strings like a puppet.
 This is not nearly as far-fetched, nor as tough, as you may think. You will automatically deny being that easy to manipulate, and it's just that type of arrogance that the players will expect and use to gain control.

  The short-term goals are almost meaningless when viewed individually: Create a new complaint each day; Recruit more players to each create a new daily complaint; Divide lower management; Feed the local rumor mill negative stories that undermine the managers; Stall production at every opportunity; Bully any member who refuses to play along; and last but surely not least, Push and keep the tension levels to a breaking point.
 To the uninitiated, it is rather illuminating to discover how many vulnerabilities are created by a passively trusting management team.

 That Chain of Command that you have so much respect for doesn't even exist in the Get Over game. Prepare to have your back scarred by a dozen knives. The bully will go straight to the top with petty, and sometimes even fabricated, complaints about you and your performance.
 What You Gonna Do About it? Nothing. There's nothing you can do directly, and she knows it.

 There's nothing easy about being bullied at any point in your life, but it can be particularly frustrating when the bully is your employee. You offer respect on the daily, and in many cases you even care on a personal level, but there's always that one person who looks at you like you just asked for a kidney; or the one who makes you feel like you need a bath after they talk to you.
 So, What You Gonna Do About it?

First: Clear The Air.

The WYGDA bully will vary his tactical approach to suit the environment, so the ammo of choice may differ, but the bully's primary weapon is always the same: Threats. Lots of empty threats.
 She will threaten to call her attorney if you don't comply. He will threaten to call the NAACP if you don't give in. She will threaten to form a union if you refuse to promote her. He will go over your head.

 Call the Bluff. The best way to deal with this smokescreen is to lay all the cards out on the table.
Hand her the phone from your desk, and offer to dial the number. Take back control of your position and at the same time you take the wind out of her sails.

 Bullying a manager works because he/she feels that they hold an ace up the sleeve. They know a trick, or a friend is teaching them about something that worked in the past. There is a bit of truth in every rumor, and these stories are no different.

 The key is to become fiercely proactive at the first signs of a power struggle, and cover your legal bases.
Notify your legal department of the possibility that a standoff may be imminent, and begin the paper trail with your first meeting. Witness accounts are golden, and if your meeting witness is also from HR or legal, you can consider your posterior adequately covered.
 Sadly enough, WYGDA bullying does work to a degree, and I have watched a few Baltimore companies become completely devoured by hired bullies to the point of eventual collapse.

  In the one that haunts me to this day, it was myself who had hired the ringleader. By the time the mistake was realized by the owners, he had already caused enough damage to create the snowball effect that would bring the company down. Twice I tried to fire him, but he cried (and lied) to the owner and was re-hired, effectively placing himself on the "protected list" which meant even the slightest hint of future negativity from me could legally be construed as harassment...and I had to watch with my hands tied as he destroyed everything that we had built.
 We (the owner that I met with weekly and myself) knew that he was a DuKE, but we arrogantly believed that we could manage this small quirk. He wasn't the only one, after all.
 A DuKE is someone experiencing the Dunning-Kruger Effect, and this young man was the living definition of someone living with DKE syndrome.
 I will try to expand on the topic of DuKEs in a future post. It can be quite interesting.

 In any event, you can take my word for this: The guilt that comes from installing a cancer into your work family, one that forces the people you love and respect to suffer, is not something that you can shake off easily. So take the lead right from the start, thus making positive changes in your future.
 Every manager enjoys the belief that he is no pushover, and when an employee begins to push you have the opportunity to prove that to everyone involved.

  2015   The Leader Coach   §   JB Stran