Lyckan finns på jobbet

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt on February 27th, 2013 by admin

Stor undersökning: Lyckan finns på jobbet

Svenskarna tycker att det viktigaste för att kunna känna sig lyckliga är jobbet, näst efter hälsan. Det visar en undersökning där 5 000 personer har svarat på frågor om, bland annat, hur de blir lyckliga. Först på tredje plats kommer familjen.

Att lyckliga människor når bättre resultat har varit känt länge. De sprider sin energi bland medarbetarna och kan vara helt avgörande i en förändringsprocess. Men att jobbet var så viktigt för att svenskarna ska känna sig lyckliga var inte helt väntat. Och en arbetsgivare som vill behålla och kunna rekrytera kompetent personal har goda möjligheter att skapa en miljö där medarbetarna upplever att deras lycka kan blomstra. Det visar en undersökning från Wise group som tydligt pekar på att jobbet är det som påverkar vår lycka näst mest, efter hälsa.
— Eftersom hälsan kommer på första plats när det gäller lycka är det väl värt att bjuda på gymkort, tid till träning på arbetstid eller till och med att ha träning på arbetsplatsen, säger Stefan Rossi från Wise Group AB
— Det framställs ofta en bild av jobbet som ett hinder för att bli lycklig. Den här undersökningen visar att jobbet är viktigare än familjen för att nå lycka. Därför bör arbetsgivarna se över de parametrar som påverkar medarbetarnas känsla av lycka, fortsätter Stefan Rossi.

Undersökningen visar att det är just de här sakerna som påverkar vår lycka på jobbet:
1. Att kunna utvecklas i jobbet.
2. Att vara stolt över sitt företag/sin organisation
3. Att vara nöjd med sin egen arbetsinsats
4. Att ha ett meningsfullt jobb
5. Att ha kul på jobbet
6. Att lönen känns rättvis
7. Att få feedback
8. Att känna sig utmanad av sitt jobb
9. Att känna sig respekterad av sina kollegor

Arbetsgivare som vill attrahera och behålla kompetent personal gör nog gott i att titta närmare på hur de kan gynna de här parametrarna, och därmed avlägsna hinder för personalens lycka.

Källa. Talarforum, 27 februari 2013
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72 tidigare, 30 nu …

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt on February 27th, 2013 by admin

Människors möjlighet att uppnå hög ålder har förbättrats så mycket att 72 år i dag motsvarar 30 år för cirka hundra år sedan. Det skriver Financial Times.

Från början 1900-talet fram tills i dag har sannolikheten att en människa dör före ålderdomen minskat snabbare än den gjorde under de föregående 200.000 åren. Det har forskare vid Max Planck-institutet i tyska Rostock kommit fram till.

Enligt forskarna har förändringen gått nästan för fort. Den har bland annat medfört att industriländerna inte är beredda på den ökande försörjningsbörda som en åldrande befolkning innebär.
I studien undersöktes män i Sverige och Japan, två av de länder i världen som har högst förväntad livslängd. Studien visar att 30-åriga män i de båda länderna som levde på 1800-talet hade samma överlevnadschans som män på stenåldern. Oddsen för överlevnad hade alltså inte förbättras nämnvärt trots tusentals år av utveckling.
Sedan dess har det skett enorma förbättringar av välfärd i levnadsstandard i Sverige och Japan. I dag måste en man bli 72 år för att löpa samma risk att dö som en 30-åring gjorde på 1800-talet.

Källa: Di.se, 27 februari 2013
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Här kommer kineserna, igen …

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt on February 26th, 2013 by admin

Kinesiska Huawei tjuvstartade mobilmässan i Barcelona genom att lansera vad företaget kallar världens hittills snabbaste mobiltelefon. Med Ascend P2 hoppas Huawei närma sig de båda jättarna i branschen, Samsung och Apple.
“Den är 50 procent snabbare än Iphone 5 och Samsung Galaxy III LTE”, hävdade Richard Yu, vd för Huaweis konsumentprodukter, i Barcelona på söndagen.

Källa: DI.se, 25 februari 2013
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Yngre chefer har fler affärer på jobbet

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt on February 26th, 2013 by admin

Tre av tio chefer har haft ett förhållande med någon på jobbet, fyra av tio har haft en flört. Hälften av cheferna uppger att medarbetare flörtat med dem.
Det framgår av enkäter med 870 personer i chefsställning som Position – fackförbundet Unionens tidning för chefsmedlemmar – låtit Novus göra.

Fler bland de yngre än bland de äldre arbetsledarna medgav kärleksaffärer på jobbet. Stockholmscheferna hade haft dubbelt så många jobbförhållanden som cheferna i norra Sverige.

Källa: SvD.se, 26 februari 2013
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Management is (still) not leadership

Posted in Aktuellt, Leadership / Ledarskap on February 24th, 2013 by admin

As it becomes increasingly important to implement strategies faster than before the never ending discussion about the difference between management and leadership has accelerated.
Here is an article that further seeks to clarify the differences:

A few weeks ago, the BBC asked me to come in for a radio interview. They told me they wanted to talk about effective leadership — China had just elevated Xi Jinping to the role of Communist Party leader; General David Petraeus had stepped down from his post at the CIA a few days earlier; the BBC itself was wading through a leadership scandal of its own — but the conversation quickly veered, as these things often do, into a discussion about how individuals can keep large, complex, unwieldy organizations operating reliably and efficiently.

That’s not leadership, I explained. That’s management — and the two are radically different.

In more than four decades of studying businesses and consulting to organizations on how to implement new strategies, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people use the words “leadership” and “management” synonymously, and it drives me crazy every time.
The interview reminded me once again that the confusion around these two terms is massive, and that misunderstanding gets in the way of any reasonable discussion about how to build a company, position it for success and win in the twenty-first century. The mistakes people make on the issue are threefold:

Mistake #1:
People use the terms “management” and “leadership” interchangeably. This shows that they don’t see the crucial difference between the two and the vital functions that each role plays.

Mistake #2:
People use the term “leadership” to refer to the people at the very top of hierarchies. They then call the people in the layers below them in the organization “management.” And then all the rest are workers, specialists, and individual contributors. This is also a mistake and very misleading.

Mistake #3:
People often think of “leadership” in terms of personality characteristics, usually as something they call charisma. Since few people have great charisma, this leads logically to the conclusion that few people can provide leadership, which gets us into increasing trouble.

In fact, management is a set of well-known processes, like planning, budgeting, structuring jobs, staffing jobs, measuring performance and problem-solving, which help an organization to predictably do what it knows how to do well. Management helps you to produce products and services as you have promised, of consistent quality, on budget, day after day, week after week. In organizations of any size and complexity, this is an enormously difficult task. We constantly underestimate how complex this task really is, especially if we are not in senior management jobs. So, management is crucial — but it’s not leadership.

Leadership is entirely different. It is associated with taking an organization into the future, finding opportunities that are coming at it faster and faster and successfully exploiting those opportunities. Leadership is about vision, about people buying in, about empowerment and, most of all, about producing useful change. Leadership is not about attributes, it’s about behavior. And in an ever-faster-moving world, leadership is increasingly needed from more and more people, no matter where they are in a hierarchy. The notion that a few extraordinary people at the top can provide all the leadership needed today is ridiculous, and it’s a recipe for failure.

Some people still argue that we must replace management with leadership. This is obviously not so: they serve different, yet essential, functions. We need superb management. And we need more superb leadership. We need to be able to make our complex organizations reliable and efficient. We need them to jump into the future — the right future — at an accelerated pace, no matter the size of the changes required to make that happen.

There are very, very few organizations today that have sufficient leadership. Until we face this issue, understanding exactly what the problem is, we’re never going to solve it. Unless we recognize that we’re not talking about management when we speak of leadership, all we will try to do when we do need more leadership is work harder to manage. At a certain point, we end up with over-managed and under-led organizations, which are increasingly vulnerable in a fast-moving world.

Source: Harward Business review, january 2013
Link
Author: John Kotter. Dr. John P. Kotter is the Konosuke Matsushita Professor of Leadership, Emeritus at Harvard Business School and the Chief Innovation Officer at Kotter International, a firm that helps leaders accelerate strategy implementation in their organizations.

Tapping the strategic potential of boards

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt on February 20th, 2013 by admin

Too many boards just review and approve strategy. Three questions can help them—and executives—begin to do better.

It’s late afternoon in the boardroom, and the head of a major global infrastructure company’s construction business is in the hot seat. A director with a background in the industry is questioning an assumption underlying the executive’s return-on-invested-capital (ROIC) forecast: that the industry’s ratio of leased (versus owned) equipment will remain relatively constant. The business leader appears confident about the assumption of stability, which has implications for both the competitive environment and for financial results. But the director isn’t convinced: “In my experience, the ratio changes continuously with the economic cycle,” he says, “and I’d feel a whole lot better about these estimates if you had some facts to prove that this has changed.”

An uneasy silence settles over the room: the board member’s point appears quite relevant but requires a familiarity with the industry’s behavior and economics, and the rest of the board doesn’t have it. Finally, the chairman intervenes: “The question John is raising is critical and not just for our construction business but for our entire strategy. We’re not going to resolve this today, but let’s make sure it’s covered thoroughly during our strategy off-site. And Paul,” says the chairman to the CEO, “let’s have some good staff work in place to inform the discussion.”

If the preceding exchange sounds familiar, it should: in the wake of the financial crisis, we find that uncomfortable conversations such as this one1 are increasingly common in boardrooms around the world as corporate directors and executives come to grips with a changed environment. Ensuring that a company has a great strategy is among a board’s most important functions and the ultimate measure of its stewardship. Yet even as new governance responsibilities and faster competitive shifts require much more—and much better—board engagement on strategy, a great number of boards remain hamstrung by familiar challenges.

The strategy challenge for boards
For starters, there’s the problem of time: most boards have about six to eight meetings a year and are often hard pressed to get beyond compliance-related topics to secure the breathing space needed for developing strategy. When we recently surveyed board members to learn where they’d most like to spend additional time, two out of three picked strategy. A related finding was that 44 percent of directors said their boards simply reviewed and approved management’s proposed strategies.

Why such limited engagement? One likely reason is an expertise gap: only 10 percent of the directors we surveyed felt that they fully understood the industry dynamics in which their companies operated. As a result, only 21 percent of them claimed to have a complete understanding of the current strategy.

What’s more, there’s often a mismatch between the time horizons of board members (longer) and of top executives (shorter), and that lack of alignment can diminish a board’s ability to engage in well-informed give-and-take about strategic trade-offs. “The chairman of my company has effectively been given a decade,” says the CEO of a steelmaker in Asia, “and I have three years—tops—to make my mark. If I come up with a strategy that looks beyond the current cycle, I can never deliver the results expected from me. Yet I am supposed to work with him to create long-term shareholder value. How am I supposed to make this work?” It’s a fair question, particularly since recent McKinsey research shows that major strategic moves involving active capital reallocation deliver higher shareholder returns than more passive approaches over the long haul, but lower returns over time frames of less than three years.2

Compounding these challenges is the increased economic volatility prompting many companies to rethink their strategic rhythm, so that it becomes less calendar driven and formulaic and more a journey involving frequent and regular dialogue among a broader group of executives.3 To remain relevant, boards must join management on this journey, and management in turn must bring the board along—all while ensuring that strategic cocreation doesn’t become confusion or, worse, shadow management.

Three questions to spur high-quality engagement
While no one-size-fits-all solution can guide companies as they set out, we suggest that board members and senior managers ask themselves three simple questions as they approach the development of strategy. Using them should raise the quality of engagement and help determine the practical steps each group must take to get there.

To illustrate what this looks like, we return to the infrastructure company we mentioned at the beginning of this article. The company had three key business units—construction, cement manufacturing, and the ownership and operation of infrastructure projects (primarily power plants)—as well as a fledgling real-estate business. It had expanded aggressively in emerging markets in the mid-to-late 1990s, until the Asian currency crisis forced it to sell off some of its more adventurous purchases and precipitated an equity investment by a large institutional investor with long-term interests in infrastructure. The investor appointed a new chairman, who in turn brought in a new CEO. After a few years of strong success and continued volatility (punctuated by the global financial crisis), the company’s growth hit a plateau, triggering a thorough review of the strategy by the board.

When the chairman discussed the matter with the CEO, they agreed that the company had to take a different approach. Some of the board members were new and grappling with the problems of stewarding a complex multinational and multibusiness corporation. What’s more, several fundamental questions were on the table that could conceivably lead to a full-blown restructuring and transformation involving the spin-off of divisions and the reallocation of capital to new areas.

The usual annual strategic refresh was unlikely to provide the board with an appreciation of the context it would need to address these questions fully, let alone to generate fresh insights in response. Such dissatisfaction with mechanistic annual board-level strategy processes is widespread, in our experience. The answer for this board (and several others we know) was to throw out the annual process and replace it with a much more intense but less frequent form of engagement—roughly every three years in this case—while still devoting some time at every board meeting to pressure-testing the strategy in light of its progress and changes in critical variables.

Pushing to answer the questions below, as the infrastructure company did, can help organizations enhance the quality of board engagement on strategy, both when that engagement must be deep and during the regular course of business.

1. Does the board understand the industry’s dynamics well enough?
Most boards spend most of their strategic time reviewing plans, yet as we’ve noted, relatively few directors feel they have a complete understanding of the dynamics of the industries their companies operate in or even of how those companies create value. To remedy this problem and to avoid the superficiality it can engender, boards need time—some without management present—so they can more fully understand the structure and economics of the business, as well as how it creates value. They should use this time to get ahead of issues rather than always feeling a step behind during conversations on strategy or accepting management biases or ingrained habits of thought.

Board members at the infrastructure company began by studying its performance, focusing solely on ROIC across economic cycles. The board then studied all value drivers that affected ROIC. Revenue growth and earnings before interest and taxes, on which management spent most of its time, were two important but only partial explanations of the company’s overall performance. Through a combination of independent sessions and two formal discussions with the CEO, the board established a much stronger foundation for a subsequent dialogue with management about strategy.

It turned out, for example, that the board member who had expressed concerns about the construction business’s assumptions for leased-versus-owned equipment was right—not just for that unit, but also for most of the company’s operations. One implication was that the forward-looking returns from the construction business were higher and more stable than those from the cement business, which, on the face of it, had higher margins and was better known and larger overall. This observation led the board to a closer look at both of these units and to a fuller appreciation of the construction business’s strong project-management talent bench, which was well positioned to help counteract its “lumpier” risk profile.

2. Has there been enough board–management debate before a specific strategy is discussed?
Armed with a foundational view based on a clearer understanding of industry and company economics, boards are in a better position to have the kinds of informed dialogue with senior managers that ultimately help them prepare smarter and more refined strategic options for consideration. Board members should approach these discussions with an owner’s mind-set and with the goal of helping management to broaden its thinking by considering new, even unexpected, perspectives.

At the infrastructure company, such discussions were triggered by the chairman, who remarked, “I’ve found this process of assessing the industry and company economics very enlightening so far. It makes me wonder: if a private-equity firm were to take over this company right now, what would they do with it?” The question’s disruptive nature changed the frame of the discussion from “What more can we do with this business?” to “Should we be in this business at all?” It led to the recognition that the cement unit required a level of scale and competitiveness the corporation didn’t have and was unlikely to achieve organically. That realization ultimately led the infrastructure company to spin off the business.

During such debates, management’s role is to introduce key pieces of content: a detailed review of competitors, key external trends likely to affect the business, and a view of the specific capabilities the company can use to differentiate itself. The goal of the dialogue is to develop a stronger, shared understanding of the skills and resources the company can use to produce strong returns, as opposed to merely moving with the tide.4

It’s important, however, that this dialogue should stop short of deciding on a strategy, which comes next.

3. Have the board and management discussed all strategic options and wrestled them to the ground?
Very often, the energizing discussions between the board and management about the business, its economics, and the competition represent the end of the debate. Afterward, the CEO and top team go off to develop a plan that is then presented to the board for approval.

Instead, what’s needed at this point is for management to take some time—mostly spent alone—to formulate a robust set of strategic options, each followed through to its logical end state, including the implications for the allocation of people, capital, and other resources. These strategic options can then be brought back to the board for discussion and decision making.

At the infrastructure company, the actual off-site strategy meeting, held during two days to ensure adequate time, focused entirely on debating and deciding between strategic options and then working through the resource-allocation implications of the decisions. Among the various debates, two stood out. One was whether to double down on the company’s highest-potential business—construction services—by allocating additional talent and capital for an M&A-led consolidation initiative in two high-potential markets. The other was whether to exit the company’s real-estate business. Forcing an explicit conversation about it proved to be a relief for both the board and the management team, who agreed that these issues had been an unstated source of unease for quite some time.

An important caveat: forcing meaningful, high-quality conversations like these is challenging, particularly when boards aren’t used to having them, and places a premium on the board chair’s ability to facilitate discussion. Creating a participative, collaborative dynamic while maintaining a healthy tension is critical. Also, the chair must neither monopolize the discussion nor fail to intervene strongly to shut down unproductive tangents.

In this case, the infrastructure company used some time on the last day of its off-site meeting to discuss how the board and management would monitor execution. This led to a healthy negotiation between the two on “what would get done by when.” The company also created time for a final debate, on the allocation of resources, ensuring that no one was left behind in the decision making. The director with a background in the industry spent some time with the CEO providing input on path dependencies, allocations of capital and people, and high-level time lines.

Extending the discussion of strategic options all the way to monitoring execution was a powerful—and unusual—step. Normally, this isn’t necessary. But boards sometimes overlook how difficult it is for executives to reconcile the sweeping changes they and the board have committed themselves to with day-to-day operational realities that consume the executives’ time. Sometimes, this is an unintended consequence of the timing of off-site strategy meetings. When they are held near the end of the financial year, there isn’t enough time to flesh out plans and create linkages to key performance indicators before the budget must be approved.

Developing strategy has always been complex—and becomes more so with a board’s increased involvement, which introduces new voices and expertise to the debate and puts pressure on management teams and board members alike to find the best answers. Yet this form of strategy development, when done well, is invaluable. It not only leads to clearer strategies but also creates the alignment necessary to make bolder moves with more confidence and to follow through by committing resources to key decisions.

Source: McKinsey Quaterly, February 2013
Authors: Chinta Bhagat is a principal in McKinsey’s Singapore office, Martin Hirt is a director in the Taipei office, and Conor Kehoe is a director in the London office. More information about the authors here.
Link

Apple utvecklar smart armbandsur

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt, Digitalisering / Internet on February 17th, 2013 by admin

Dick Tracy hade en, liksom Kommissarie Gadget och James Bond. En fiffig manick som var både dator, kommunikationsradio, navigationssystem och tv. Grunkan som haft en självklar plats i science fiction och agentfilmer kan snart sitta på en handled nära dig.

I forskningslaboratorierna i högkvarteret i Kalifornien experimenterar Apple med armbandsursliknande produkter gjorda av böjt glas, skriver New York Times. Runt 100 medarbetare arbetar med produkten som ska innehålla samma funktioner som finns i Iphone och Ipad, skriver Bloomberg.

Källa: DN.se, 17 februari 2013
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Goal setting needs to be a partnership

Posted in Aktuellt, Leadership / Ledarskap on February 14th, 2013 by admin

Managers and their direct reports are equally responsible for goal setting. Yet many organizations make it a one-person project. That leads to problems according to John Hester, a senior consulting partner with The Ken Blanchard Companies®. In organizations where managers set goals without employee involvement, employees feel left out of the process. As a result, managers don’t get the buy-in they need. The employee has no fire or passion to achieve the goals. In some cases, resentment sets in.

In other companies, managers leave goal setting to their employees. While this may be comfortable to employees, it can lead to misalignment with overall organization goals, or can create targets that are focused more on existing skills that don’t create any growth or stretch.

For goal setting to work best, managers and employees need to work together to set goals that are aligned with organizational objectives, offer the right amount of challenge, and create buy-in from both parties.

Taking Individual Responsibility
An organization’s culture and norms play an important role in how individual managers and direct reports approach goal setting, but this doesn’t mean that managers and individual employees should settle for the status quo if it is not meeting their needs. In all cases, managers and direct reports have the ability to go above and beyond and ensure that in any work relationship, clear goals are established up front.

Hester reminds managers and direct reports alike that ultimately, you are responsible for your own career and for getting your needs met. In Hester’s opinion, you don’t want to make your career success completely dependent on the goal-setting skills of your manager. That’s too reactive—and too dependent of an approach.

Instead, Hester recommends that managers and employees take individual responsibility for setting clear goals each year. As he explains, “If I am an employee and I am not having the performance planning discussion that I should be having at the beginning of the year than I am going to initiate it. This will probably mean sitting down with my manager and saying, ‘I want talk with you about the key goals you want me to achieve this year. Here are some of my ideas, what do you think?’ As a direct report you have a responsibility to make sure that you are successful, effective, developing, and that you are doing what you can to be fully engaged.”

Special Advice for Managers
For managers looking to make the process easier for the people on their team, Hester recommends focusing on three key areas.

Approach goal-setting as a partnership. Recognize that performance planning is not something that you should do alone. This is something to be done in partnership with your team member. It’s a collaborative process. So the manager needs to know what the employee’s key areas of responsibility are, what is expected in the role, and what they want to see in terms of performance. The key is to have that discussion with the employee.

Make sure the goal is SMART (or SMMART). Anytime you set a goal, objective, or an assignment, you need to make sure that it meets the simple SMART criteria (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound). As Hester explains, “So many times when I asked employees how they receive their assignments they usually tell me it’s a casual hallway conversation or a quick email. And that’s it. There’s no discussion about specific targets, timelines, or measurement.”

Hester also believe that there should be a second “M” in the SMART acronym to account for employee Motivation. “This means the manager needs to additionally ask, ‘What is it about this goal that is motivating? What difference does it make in the organization, or to the team, or to the individual employee?’ So managers need to make sure that motivation is a part of the discussion and that they consider and inquire about an employee’s attitude toward the assignment.”

Diagnose competence and commitment levels. Finally, managers need to consider an employee’s individual competence and commitment level for a task. As Hester explains, “This is one of the basics of the Situational Leadership® II Model. For example, it’s a common mistake to assume that because a person is a veteran employee, they are experienced at any new task that might be set before them. This is often incorrect. It’s important that a manager find out about experience with a specific task and then partner with the employee to determine what they need in terms of direction and support to be successful with this particular assignment.”

Common Mistakes in Goal Setting

While good goal setting leads to increased performance, Hester also cautions against some common pitfalls to avoid.
1.Goals are not realistic. Stretch goals are great, but if they are out of reach they become demotivating and can even cause some employees to engage in unethical behavior to achieve them. In addition to making sure the goal is Attainable, goals should be monitored and adjusted as needed during the year.
2.Setting too many goals. When employees have too many goals they can easily lose track of what is important and spend time on the ones they “want” to do or that are easier to accomplish whether or not they are the highest priority.
3.Setting goals and then walking away. Goal setting is the beginning of the process, not an end in itself. Once goals are set, managers need to meet regularly to provide support and direction to help employees achieve their goals.
4.Setting a “how” goal instead of a “what” goal. Goals should indicate “what” is to be accomplished—the end in mind—not “how” it should be accomplished.

Benefits of Goal Setting if Managers Are Successful
Managers who take the time to spend the extra effort up front will recognize significant benefits down the road. Clear goals lead to clearer expectations, better performance-focused conversations, and ultimately, higher levels of performance across the organization.

Accountability is also easier with well-defined tasks. This is because follow-up conversations can focus on specific tasks instead of the person. As Hester explains, “This is very helpful and it keeps the manager out of conversations where they are saying something general like, ‘You’re not performing well.’ Instead, managers can point to the fact that an employee is not performing on this one goal, and can talk about what they can both do to make better progress.”

An extra side benefit is that working together on goals improves the relationship between managers and their direct reports. “That always pays dividends,” says Hester. “When people feel that their manager is truly invested in their success and they see their manager as a coach and partner helping them to succeed, their level of engagement and passion increases. It’s a clear, focused path that helps people perform at their best.”

Source. Ken Blanchard Companies, Ignite! Newsletter, January 2013
Link
More about the Ken Blanchard Companies here

Två nya Iphones!

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt on February 11th, 2013 by admin

It-företaget Apple kan komma att lansera Iphone 5s samt Iphone 6 under 2013. Det skriver den kinesiska informationssajten Laoyaoba.com, rapporterar Brightwire.

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Take a combination approach to become a “Best boss”

Posted in Aktuellt, Leadership / Ledarskap on February 10th, 2013 by admin

“You can learn a lot about your own development as a leader by looking into some of the common characteristics people identify with a ‘best boss’ from their past,” says David Witt, Program Director with The Ken Blanchard Companies®. In listening to the responses of hundreds of people to the question, “Who was your best boss, and what was it about him or her that made them so special?” Witt has learned that the answers, though wide-ranging, consistently fall into two main categories.

The first common characteristic is the relationship aspect. “People say that their best boss cared about them, gave them opportunities, created a great working environment, made work fun, and was flexible and supportive.”
Second, there is the performance aspect. “People will share that their work was important, their boss expected a lot from them, and that their best boss saw qualities in them that they didn’t necessarily see in themselves.”

It’s the combination approach that makes everything work, explains Witt. One without the other doesn’t get nearly the results that a dual focus does.
“The Gallup organization discovered this initially as a part of a second round of their engagement research. In comparing engagement levels with bottom-line impact, Gallup found that engagement didn’t always translate into financial results. It was only when another component was added that the impact was evident.
“That other component was clear performance expectations. When clear expectations were combined with high levels of support organizations achieved the consistently high levels of financial performance that the researchers were looking for. This is the place where today’s top companies operate. The dual focus of high support combined with high expectations is what drives results.”

Some well-known examples
As Witt explains, “I had a chance to meet Colleen Barrett, president emeritus of Southwest Airlines, when she teamed up with Ken Blanchard to write the book, Lead with LUV: A Different Way to Create Real Success (Southwest’s stock symbol is LUV). While I knew that Southwest had a reputation for hiring fun-loving people and had a famous fun-loving culture, what I didn’t realize until I met Colleen face-to-face was that the company also had a very deeply ingrained high-expectations work ethic. As Colleen revealed, ‘We are very clear in telling our people what our expectations are. We hold them and ourselves accountable for meeting those expectations every day. Sometimes this means having a real heart-to-heart with people and reminding them what our values are. If we have been intentional and firm in explaining what our expectations are, it gives us the opportunity to point to specific examples where they haven’t exhibited the required behaviors.’”

Garry Ridge, President and CEO of household goods manufacturer WD-40 Company, also subscribes to this combination approach. Ridge calls it “caring candor” and it is a part of the “Helping People Win At Work” philosophy that Ridge developed together with Ken Blanchard and later detailed in their book of the same name.

For Ridge and Blanchard, the focus is on setting clear goals, checking in on a regular basis to monitor progress against those goals, and then ensuring that managers are doing their part in providing frontline employees with the support and direction they need to succeed.
“At WD-40, the results have been phenomenal,” elaborates Witt. “They have some of the highest engagement scores I’ve ever seen and they have been setting sales records the past few years in the midst of a very soft economy. It obviously works!”

Three strategies for leaders
Interested in learning more about what managers in your organization—or you, yourself—can do to take some first steps in becoming a best boss? Here are Witt’s suggestions.
1.Set challenging goals.
Expect the best from people by setting goals that stretch their abilities. Look beyond what people can currently do and set a stake in the ground at the next level of achievement. Hard goals encourage growth, demonstrate trust, and develop competence. Be sure to set these goals as a partnership—it conveys respect and garners buy-in.
2.Meet regularly.
Conduct brief, focused meetings on a weekly basis to discuss progress against goals, identify roadblocks, and brainstorm solutions. Demonstrate your commitment to an employee’s success by sharing one of your most precious resources—your time and attention.
3.Provide feedback.
Celebrate and recognize achievements. Provide redirection when necessary. Feedback shows that you are paying attention as a leader, consider the work important, and are invested in the employee’s development.

Witt reminds aspiring managers that leaders become “best bosses” by demonstrating skills and behaviors which can be learned. “Look back at your own experience and you’ll probably discover that your best boss brought out the best in you because he or she expected a lot and also supported your growth and development. That’s the one-two punch that creates high levels of engagement and performance!”

Source: Ken Blanchard Companies, Ignite! Newsletter, January 2013
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