general

Competition

in

Apparently, the Singapore girls aren't the attraction they used to be. I grew up around the airline industry - my dad worked for British Airways his entire working life - and I remember 'knowing' that there was no way that any of the european airlines were going to reach the service excellence that the Singapore or Cathay did. There was some thing special that they had, that we just did not.

No longer, according to an article in Bloomberg Businessweek. The world's best airline is Qatar, and Singapore hasn't won that award since 2008. The article quotes Skytrax spokesman Peter Miller: "We are seeing a more level playing field in product standards as many carriers seek to match Singapore'. It turns out it wasn't something special. It was something replicable.

The number one in your industry does not have something special. The number one in your team even, doesn't really have something special. Talent is not everything. Hard work and a desire to reach that standard counts for a lot. The airlines have proved it by obtaining the je ne sais quoi that only Singapore had. If you want to be that good, you can be.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-04-26/singapore-girl-s-charms-fade-as...

Time to Quit?

in

There's an article in May 21st's Bloomberg Businessweek about a denim mill which is having a resurgence after years of sales going abroad. There's a fashion for 'non-perfect' denim which can only be made on the looms which had been retired in the 1980's, which the mill is capitalising on. (Jeans made that way go for $350, which is amazing when you consider the looms were mothballed).

The article describes a 77 year old lady who has worked at the mill for 50 years and her skills are back in demand. At the end of the article she's quoted as saying 'I'm proud. I put food on the table and raised three young 'uns. I quit 500 times but I didn't have time to go tell them'. I don't think that's unusual feeling. There's been times when I've quit every day for a month - I just didn't tell anyone.

Everyone has days when this job is too hard, the co-workers too stupid, the conditions too unbearable. Quitting is a knee-jerk response to that moment. Often, if you don't tell anyone and hold out for another couple of hours, or days, or months, things change, and get better, almost miraculously. So quit if you have to. Just don't tell anyone quite yet.

http://mobile.businessweek.com/articles/2012-05-17/cone-denims-old-facto...

Unintended Consequences

in

An article in Bloomberg Businessweek describes the makeup of French companies. "The country", it says "has 3.4 times as many companies with 49 employees as with 50". Why? Because the French labor code demands that companies with over 50 employees have "three worker councils, introduce profile sharing and submit restructuring plans to the councils if the company decides to fire workers for economic reasons".

Clearly, these rules were enacted to balance the need for small companies to have a relatively low legislative burden and the protection of workers. French entrepreneurs avoid the jump in legislative burden by starting new companies rather than expanding existing ones. Whether you're on the side of the legislators or the entrepreneurs, you can see that this wasn't what was intended.

That's why we encourage you not to have policies (see http://www.manager-tools.com/2010/01/how-stop-gossip). Policies cause people to work around them, or work up to the line, or to withhold goodwill because you are. They have unintended consequences. Whereas feedback about behavior which isn't productive moves you and your direct towards a more effective future.

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-05-03/why-france-has-so-many-4...
http://www.manager-tools.com/2010/01/how-stop-gossip

Video Resumes

in

In an article about 'social media brilliance', Entrepreneur magazine categorically states 'Your next job search will take the form of a video resume'. I can categorically state, it won't. Video is hard for companies to process. You can read a resume in a couple of minutes and know whether the person has roughly the right experience for the job you're looking at. A video has to be watched for much longer in order to get the same information (if it's even in there).

Then there's all the discrimination issues which companies are keen to avoid. I've never met a hiring manager who was genuinely discriminating against candidates in certain categories, but the number of cases brought each year implies that in some places, discrimination happens. Video makes it easier for candidates to assert that they were discriminated against and harder for companies to prove they were not.

Finally (at least for here), the work that goes into creating great video is too much for most candidates. Many of the resumes we see appear to have been slapped together in less than an hour, not spell-checked, not punctuation-checked, not checked for sense or meaning let alone persuasiveness. If opening a Word document and working on it for hours over a week or two is too much, then video is a step too far, for sure.

Do They Know You Exist?

in

In June's Inc magazine, Norm Brodsky answers a question from someone wanting to expand their business through acquisition. The questioner had done the work to identify potential companies, but after one approach he'd been turned down by all of them and was wondering what to do next.

Mr Brodsky's answer is: "You need to send another letter and then stop by each prospect for a visit. I'm not talking about pressuring anybody ... Build relationships ... Sooner or later, everybody sells. When the time comes, most owners have no idea whom to call. You want to make sure they call you".

That applies in far more circumstances than just when purchasing a business. Why do you build your network when you're not even looking for a new job? Because sooner or later, someone wants you to fill their perfect opening. Are they going to call you, or do they not even know you exist?

This Is Not Communication

in

An article in Inc (not available online) extols the virtues of new app which helps directs and managers create weekly reports about their work. So far, so good. A founder and CEO of a web-design company is a user of the app and he says, "I have my first-level employees send the reports to their managers on Friday, and the managers send me the reports on Monday". He continues, "My favorite thing .. is that it lets managers easily escalate an idea or concern from an employees report and include it on their own... then we can have a conversation right on the report, and the manager or employee gets an email every time I comment".

When I got to this part, I was practically screaming - this is not communication. This is not the way to deal with employee's concerns, or even their ideas. Would you learn to trust someone who only deals with your work via an automated system? Would you feel valued if your ideas were praised that way? To be fair, the article doesn't say that this is the only way with which this CEO communicates with his employees, but it is implied.

There's a reason that One on Ones happen weekly between two people speaking to one another. Because that's the way human beings develop relationships. Even though we have all this technology, we still want to 'put faces to names' before relationships become really real. Automated systems which capture our thoughts via our words just aren't the same. Yes, I realise the irony as I write - but my point is almost made here. I write often, and yet we don't have a real relationship. Automated systems are a convenience, a time-saver, but they're no substitute. No one gave their all for a man they only knew by email.

Google, Relationships and Your Job Search

in

Last week's Career Tools cast gave you one hint on what to google to meet people in your area who could help you with your job search. It's pretty simple, you just google for the name of your town and the word business, and see what comes up which might be useful. In the cast, we gave three examples - Charlotte, North Carolina, Pueblo, Colorado and Bremen, Germany, and we tried to help you understand how the results could be helpful.

Having started you off, we'd like to crowd-source a resource which helps everyone, no matter where they live. We've started a forum thread here: http://www.manager-tools.com/forums-6881. What we'd like you to do is to google your town and business, just like it says in the cast, and tell us what you find that you think will be helpful to job seekers. We're looking forward to seeing your results.

Shanghai, Sydney, and 2 US locations in August

in

If you've been waiting for us to come to Asia, your wait is over! We're thrilled to bring our Effective Manager Conference to Shanghai this August. We can't wait to meet our many listeners in Asia in person.

In addition, we'll be back in Sydney. We had such a great time last year with our Australian members, and we're looking forward to joining you again.

Closer to home, we've just opened two US conferences for August - Chicago and Washington DC. Those two locations fill up fast, so if you're thinking about it, get registered soon.

You can register for all these conferences on this page: http://www.manager-tools.com/effective-manager-conference

We look forward to meeting you soon.

Get A Job At Google

in

In a brief strip in April's Fast Company, there a list of things and the chances of them happening. Getting a job at Google comes in at 0.005%, with getting a product accepted by Walmart (2%), getting a start up accepted at Y Combinator (3%) and getting in to Stanford Graduate School of Business (7%) all coming in higher.

Does that mean that if you dream of working at Google, you should give up on the dream? Of course not. But it's a lot harder than you think - and if it's your only dream you could be disappointed.

As we've said so many times before, there are hundreds of thousands of great companies you could be happy at. Don't get fixated on the consumer brands you know.

Lateness

in

The Manager Tools rule on lateness is you can start work whatever time you like, but you better not be late for meetings. So being late for work here isn't an issue. When I worked in a more conventional office though, punctuality was required. I was surprised therefore by some statistics in May's Inc magazine: 27% of workers surveyed are late once a month, and 16% at least once a week. I want to know what kind of excuses you can make if you're late once a week. It can't always be traffic right?!

At conferences we often use lateness as an example for negative feedback. It's a black and white issue (either you were late or you were not) and therefore easy to understand so it makes a good teaching tool. Sometimes we get asked though - isn't it a bit trivial?

The thing about lateness is that it's often a symbol of lack of attention in other areas. Work being done poorly, or lack of enthusiasm for building relationships. Lateness is the slippery slope - often an indication that you've already checked out. So if you or your directs are being late once a week, start looking for other indications.