Sunday, November 27, 2011

I love bad news

Probably not true. A mentee asked me once, “Why do managers not like bad news?” While the answer seemed obvious, I took a moment to understand the question.

It was clear from the question that this person (and probably many people) had not been rewarded for telling their boss something bad that they needed to hear. Often the bearer of bad news becomes associated with the news itself. Shooting the messenger is a common trait of leaders with limited emotional intelligence. I once lead a quality organization and it became clear to me that I was the grim reaper of constant bad news. I had to purposefully starting inserting good news stories to avoid that “dark shadow in the doorway” image. Mature leaders of high emotional intelligence are able to encourage their teams to bring them news of all types without over reacting.

Do you act or react when people give you bad news. Do you reward people for keeping you informed or punish for being the messenger? How have you been able to overcome the desire to shoot the messenger?


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Can government work be cool?

Why is it we love our mailman and hate the DMV? Could it be your mailman’s autonomy makes them more customer-oriented or flexible?

What would you do if you were responsible for the work policies of the federal government and President Obama gave you the goal “to make government cool again by developing flexible, results-oriented Human Resource policies and working to change how Americans view their public servants“? That was exactly the assignment John Berry, United States Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) got in early 2010. His first strategy, was to make The Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 (Public Law 111–292) a reality because it provided the authority to develop flexible policies, tools and training.

I heard about this charge and the progress being made by the Mr. Berry and explored their website ( The US government has collected many best practices used throughout industry for virtual work programs. It subscribes to the belief that successful virtual work is a “90% people challenge and 10% technology.” Written agreements, goal setting, frequent communication and strong performance management are cornerstones of the program.

How formal have you implemented your virtual work programs? Did you fundamentally change your leadership style to lead a virtual team?


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