Joy at Work(er) Blog

Do You Need a Leader or a Manager?

leadership management Sep 07, 2020

Written by Ed Cook

The words leader and manager often are used interchangeably,  and with that slipshod usage, their individual meanings can be lost.   Peter Drucker and Warren Bennis are often quoted as saying:

“Management is doing the things right and Leadership is doing the right thing”   

This points to deeper insights.  Management is about making things happen. It is literally about manipulation.  The words management and manipulation both come from the Latin word manus, meaning hand.  If done well, there are efficiencies gained and improvements made in every aspect of what the manager’s organization is doing,  but that success is circumscribed.  Great managers are still working under constraints that have been given to them.  They can be awesome but only with what is given to them.  Leadership is about seeing beyond the confines and setting a vision for something better.  The origin of...

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Virtual Meeting Joy

management virtual teams Jul 10, 2020

Written by Roxanne Brown

Have meetings become friendlier? When a colleague’s child bursts on your screen to show you their toy, does that make people laugh? When a cat jumps up on the back of a colleague’s chair, does that bring smiles? Working from home is a lot of things. “Weird” certainly describes it. Sometimes, it can be unexpectedly joyous too. 

Of course, work is a serious thing that needs focus. collaboration and determination. Work also needs spontaneous, joyful moments. That momentary relief does a lot for mood, bonding, and energy.

Work-life balance seems like a passé phrase today. It’s more like work-life integration. That’s what we’re doing when we work from home all of the time. People used to have to hide those less-professional “life” parts of their lives before we quarantined. Now, not only do we seem to have the patience for it, many of us are enjoying getting to know work colleagues in these new...
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The 3 (and a half?) Types of Virtual Meetings

management virtual teams Apr 06, 2020

Written by Ed Cook

As we all scramble because of the COVID-19 outbreak of the coronavirus to move to virtual work that means virtual meetings.  Anything that has not gone well with our in-person meetings is going to go even more horribly with your virtual meetings.  Every distraction, every unfocused agenda item, every meandering conversation without conclusion or action, will be all the more so in a virtual environment.  So let’s use this time of COVID-19 driven separation to make our virtual meetings fantastic.  They can be a source of trust-building as discussed here.  They can even be a way to bring Joy at Work, even more so because so many are anxious about the future.  Now is the time for leaders to step up and be the voice that provides calm and guidance.  Meetings are the place we can do it!

Meetings are a symptom of bad organization. The fewer meetings, the better. 
-Peter Drucker

There is significant risk in contradicting a...

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The People Part of M&A

management Dec 27, 2019

Written by Ed Cook

The amount of research on why Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A) succeed or fail is voluminous but not particularly clear. M&A is often not successful. Early research focused on strategy and structural factors, but the results were mixed.  More recently cultural factors are the focus, but this opens up significant complexity onto the study of M&A.  Still, the work is revealing.  

Intriguingly, some scholars have found a positive effect between cultural differences and the success level of M&A.  

This finding seems to be explained by the core strategic idea that merging two different sets of capabilities can produce a better performing combined company.  With more skills and a broader knowledge base, the new combined company can more readily succeed. The key activity is capability transfer so that the abilities of the two organizations are combined into the new one.  To get fantastic success means that the...

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Competency Fallacy

management Oct 18, 2019

Written by Ed Cook

In corporations around the globe, managers are engaging in a process to develop their associates. At least they are trying to do it. These well-meaning attempts typically include some sort of a model of competencies. The manager is supposed to “ground” an assessment of the employee’s competencies with behavioral examples when they exhibited higher or lower levels of these competencies, then finally give the employee a score against each competency. There are a few core questions to examine in this system of thought. 

First, what is a competency? So many companies talk about these. Rate their people on these. Determine promotions, bonuses, and raises on these. Companies define competencies like “strategic thinking” and “builds relationships.” These certainly seem useful. Who wouldn’t want an employee to be great at these two competencies and others? Typically, competencies are the more intangible traits that a...

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Balance, not just Prioritization

management Aug 26, 2018
Written by Ed Cook
There are a slew of books, blogs, and podcasts circulating that tout the value of prioritization. Essentialism by Greg McKeown, The One Thing podcast, even The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey all talk about prioritizing as the path to success. Yet, so many fail to achieve their desired success, why? 
 
Prioritization may be necessary to make progress by placing your limited resources against what you most desire to get done in the short-term, but prioritization is not sufficient to achieve your goals over the long-term. For the long-term balance is a necessary component. Here’s why. Prioritization is a powerful tool against the distractions of the day. It helps direct energy to where it can lead to the success of what is most needed now, and away from activities that may be highly demanded or even enticing in the immediate but do not help achieve your goals of the day. Prioritization...
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How to Build and Sustain Trust on a Virtual Team

Written by Ed Cook

What is Trust? And, why do we want to build it? These may not have the easy answers the simplicity of the question suggests. Let’s start with the concept of Trust. We place our trust “in” things and people, like, “I’ll put my trust in this old car,” or “I’ll put my trust in Angela,” or even “I’ll put my trust in God.” We talk about “my trusty pen,” or “umbrella,” or “screwdriver.” But how do we even know we have Trust? The one key characteristic of Trust is that it is something given, as in, “I give my trust to you.” It cannot be taken or really even earned. The origin of the word itself is from Old Norse and means strength. In giving Trust, you are giving your strength to another. A powerful gift.

As to why would we want to build trust, especially in a team situation, the value is clear. The team is stronger. This makes sense if the team is...
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