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Jan Copley
Certified Practice Advisor
Atticus, Inc.

530 South Lake Avenue, Suite 250
Pasadena, CA 91101
(626) 696-3145
(626) 421-6747 (fax)

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Another Technique for Managing Email

December 23, 2011

Filed under: Focus/Time Management — @ 2:45 pm

I’ve previously written about effective techniques for managing your email. However, courtesy of Software Analysis Corporation, I’ve just learned about another way to do it:

I think this will be especially useful for my readers who have home offices — don’t you?

Happy Holidays!

Some Thoughts About Leading
Your Team – Part Four

December 21, 2011

Filed under: Leadership — @ 9:04 pm

In my last couple of blog postings, I’ve written about what not to do as a leader of your team. So, what do you do?

Set expectations. Well, one of the most important things to do with your team is to set expectations. Apparently employers aren’t very good at this: according to Charles A. Coonradt in The Game of Work (Game of Work, Inc. 2007), most employees are not sure what is expected of them, so they keep themselves busy with activity.

What is an expectation? How do you set expectations for your team? You do that by defining the outcome or result you want. The outcome needs to be specific (for an example of an assignment that doesn’t work because it doesn’t define an outcome, see the The Dis-Associate’s comments on the December 19 Attorney at Work blog).

Outcomes vs. processes. An outcome is not the same thing as a process. An outcome is an end result; a process relates to the steps to get there. Very often, employers get outcomes and processes confused and insist that things be done a certain way. But, according to Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman in First, Break All the Rules (Simon & Schuster 1999), that’s not the point. The point is the result.

How do you define an outcome? Sometimes it’s hard to define an outcome, but that’s no excuse for not doing it and making that outcome an express expectation of your team’s performance. Your desired outcome may be happy clients. You and your team can work together to define exactly what that means and how to measure it. Once you have that definition and that expectation, you and your team will have a common goals — and you’re much more likely to get the results you want.

Please let me know how this helps you!

Some Thoughts About Leading
Your Team – Part Three

December 16, 2011

Filed under: Leadership — @ 2:31 pm

In my previous two blog postings, I’ve spoken about ways not to lead your team: don’t be a dictator, but don’t rely upon collaboration, either.

So what should you do?

Okay, you say, so what should I do to lead my team? Well, according to Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman in First, Break All the Rules (Simon & Schuster 1999), employees look for six things from their jobs:

    1. Do I know what’s expected of me at work?
    2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?
    3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
    4. In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?
    5. Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?
    6. Is there someone at work who encourages my development?

Notice that lots of money and job status are not mentioned!

I think these six attributes of a good job can be summarized to mean that employees want to work in a place where they feel they contribute and are appreciated.

So, how do you do this?

I think the first step is to provide a supportive environment for your team. It doesn’t mean you have to act like a den mother or Cub Scout leader, but it does mean that you provide encouragement and honest feedback. It means that if a team member comes to you, he or she will feel that you’ve listened to them and their concerns.

It’s not that hard to do. Considering structuring your schedule so that you provide regular feedback to team members, not just at the dreaded annual review. Talk to them about what they want to do and ask them what they think they do best; then, structure a team member’s job to play to his or her strengths. Be nice; it’s not that hard to praise someone for doing something well, and the payoff is tremendous.

In my next posting, we’ll talk about a key to getting top performance from your team: setting expectations.

Please let me know how this helps you!

Some Thoughts About Leading
Your Team – Part Two

December 9, 2011

Filed under: Leadership — @ 1:59 pm

In my last blog article, I wrote about the pitfalls of being a dictatorial boss. You, taking what I say seriously, have decided to abandon your Moammar Gaddafi style of management in lieu of something more collaborative. If you do that, all will be copasetic, right?

Well, maybe yes, maybe no.

Collaboration is not all it is cracked up to be. In a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, “Collaboration is Misunderstood and Overused,” Andrew Campbell talks about why collaboration can fail. According to Campbell, collaboration and teamwork are two different things.

Teams vs. collaborators. A team will work toward a single result. There is usually someone with authority to resolve disputes. On the other hand, collaborators may have competing goals and not have the same commitment to working together. They may not have a final decision-maker working with them.

You gotta have a leader. I think a major problem with an emphasis on collaboration is that it allows a leader to avoid his or her responsibilities as a leader. At some point, a leader has to step up to the plate and give direction to people. If there is a dispute, the leader has to make the final decision.

If you, as the leader of your business, spend all your time cultivating collaboration and agreement, you won’t have a team focused on one goal. Rather, people will be spending their time jockeying to get their positions validated. If you won’t make a decision, your business will founder on the shoals of hesitation.

Please let me know how this helps you!

Some Thoughts About Leading
Your Team – Part One

December 7, 2011

Filed under: Leadership — @ 2:00 pm

Are you a leader? If you have an employee, you are a leader, whether or not you want to be. So, let’s spend some time talking about what your role as leader of your team involves.

What is your leadership style?
How do you lead? Unfortunately, they don’t teach team leadership skills in law school. As a result, based upon our own experiences with bosses we have had in the past, many of us may default to a dictatorship style: you tell people what to do and expect them to do it.

Dictatorship is not the answer. What happens with dictators is that people rebel against them — just witness this year’s Arab Spring.

Similarly, if your employees decide you are a dictatorial boss, they will respond accordingly. Good employees quit because they know they can do better elsewhere. The people who stay resort to behaviors to protect themselves. The dictator winds up with a dysfunctional team: people don’t trust each other, they don’t engage in debates about how to improve the business and their jobs, and, because their focus is on surviving the workday, they don’t pay attention to results.

What this means, of course, is that your business is not what it could be, your clients aren’t treated as well as they should be, and you’re not making as much money as you could. In other words, although it’s easy to revert to dictatorship, it’s not the most effective management style!

In my next posting, I’ll talk about how another leadership style — collaboration — can also lead to failure. Then, in future postings, I’ll talk about ways to lead your team to avoid these leadership pitfalls.

Please let me know how this helps you!