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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Notes from "It's Your Ship" (long)

It's Your Ship: Management Techniques from the best damn ship in the Navy:

Three Questions Of Management when something goes wrong:
1) Did I clearly articulate the goals?
2) Did I give people enough time and resources to accomplish the task?
3) Did I give them enough training?

Superior leaders always take the time to meet their staff.

Note…. Minimize interaction when you’re disgruntled.

Always raise objection to command if it is un-agreeable, but then be prepared to carry out the final order 100% if your objection is over-ruled.

The main job of being an effective manager is to listen aggressively to your staff in order to pick up every good idea that is needed for better operations. Learn by listening for what you can do to improve things for the company.

Match people up with the tasks that need to be done whenever it is in their goals or interests to learn or perform such a task.

Always reward performance over seniority.

Always have the best damn organization in any organization by having your team believe that it can be the best or can continue to be the best in what it is doing. Lead by example in these regards by consistently letting them know that they can be the best in all departments and by challenging them to improve their performance and methods until they become the very best.

Always communicate the purpose and meaning of their work and their efforts to them, and give people praise for doing a good job whenever they come through exceptionally on their tasks or assignments.

Whenever possible, always read the instruction manual so that you know the things that may have been missed by the person who has trained you. If you see something in the manual that would solve a particular problem or that may need to be addressed, which is most likely to happen, then you can get credit for your attention to the details.

Have mastery of all available forms of communication. Make sure that all communications are streamlined so that orders are received in a timely and efficient manner.

Allow open criticism from your subordinates and encourage it among your team. This freedom of communication can break down problematic barriers and can help the organization by preventing the same mistakes from happening twice.

Create a climate of trust and teamwork. The goal is to be the best damn organization, not to best your team members. Similarly, treat all your crew members as partners instead of peons because they deserve the same respect you do.

Instill self-confidence in people by not over-criticizing them when they mess up. Give them a second chance if they make a beginner’s mistake on tasks that are new to them or if there is some valid circumstance that caused them to learn something that is inefficient or unnecessary. Keep in mind that people learn by imitation, and they can pick up bad habits or unnecessary quirks from their trainers. It is important to intervene in order to help people do their jobs better if when you see them doing something that is unnecessary, but don’t come off as being too stern with them.
-> People who feel more secure in their job environment are more willing to take risks and will also have a more positive attitude about their organization.
-> Ultimately, you are the one who benefits the most from this

Never bring petty problems up with your boss if you can solve them yourself, but in critical situations it is important to let them know ASAP.

Being the best carries more responsibilities with it, and it is important to hang in there and continue to persevere even when times are getting tough or the working is getting tiring. Taking pride in your work is an extremely important motivation in order to be consistent and reliable in times even when the most stress is being put on you as well as when there is no stress being put on you too.

Always prefer doing business with a trustworthy handshake rather than with a contract. In any case, however, always promise to do only what you feasibly can do and then always do what you have promised to do. Don’t ever make any promises that you may not be able to keep unless under unforeseen pretenses you are able to live with the consequences of the contract if you can’t carry out the promise. Certainly, though, never make a promise that you intend to break.

Innovation knows no rank, and so don’t think any lesser of a good idea from a person at the bottom of the pay scale as you would an idea from the very top. Listen to the idea and then evaluate it and, at the very least, you can educate that person on why you think it won’t work or at the very most you will have come upon a good idea that is worth implementing.

“I can afford to be serene, even smug!” Captain Michael Abrashoff …. (As if pride is a deserved jewel for work well done, and smugness is a reward for the depositing as many of these proud accomplishments into that account as possible)

Challenge your crew beyond its reach! The job of training never ends, and it is never quite perfect either, so there is always room for getting better:
A) make training extremely rigorous and complete
B) allow for targeted or remedial training for the laggards
-> doing this immediately saves time and strengthens their confidence and skills
C) Keep accurate records on a computer database
-> paperwork is much slower & paper filing/storage tends to waste time and space
->looking through files requires a lot of time when things are misfiled or misplaced.
D) computer training allows for customizability and easier tailoring of specific tasks
E) computers can be used to simulate tough conditions as well as normal conditions
->this is important for being prepared for the best and the worst
F) computers can make training happen much more quickly and accurately, thus leaving more time available for other important things
->sometimes this time could be used as free time if permissible
->Note: be sure to cross train in every critical area so things run more smoothly

Take calculated risks and always play the odds correctly:
->Bet on the people who think for themselves.
->Train your team in groups whenever possible so that people are more cross-trained
->Let your subordinates use their own judgment in routine tasks.
->Pay attention when you are partially participating in tasks so you can step up and take full responsibility the next time that task needs to be performed.

Break rules when they are irrational!? (see Breaking the Rules of Project Management for more detail …. “I before E doesn’t always come after C and real life doesn’t exactly fit into the predefined templates of management. There is a gray area where rules, in reality, should be broken or changed sometimes. This is something that requires critical thinking and common sense. Sometimes the rules just need to be challenged.”

Go above and beyond Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and push the envelope!

If you prepare for the most challenging scenarios during training, then the chances are good that you will be prepared for the unforeseen whenever that may occur.

Stay ahead of the competition by being prepared before any event comes up so that you are entirely ready for anything that is going to happen, because, however well your team performs is a direct reflection on you as a leader.

Don’t work harder, work smarter. Automate processes by making databases of what needs to be done and then design a machine to perform the necessary tasks. By automating the process, you can do things quicker and save money.
->Goal: Always aim to finish flawlessly, under-budget, and ahead of schedule by using brain and brawn together to achieve a task!

If liberties are to be gained through beaurocratic means of training, then so be it. If the purpose of a rule is to keep a good worker from gaining more authority by being an excessive or time consuming hassle, then make some effort to allow that worker to receive the training anyway.
->Other workers will follow the example of that one worker’s achievement.
->Note: Unearned pins are a form of patronizing your workforce and treating them as peons.
->Philosophy of a good leader: There is no downside to having employees who know how every division of an organization functions. The real challenge is in finding motivating incentives for making them want to do so.

People need to be built up into the organization properly. This can be done by paying attention to their successes and then congratulating them whenever they do an outstanding job. There is nothing better for moral than when people’s works are being recognized and congratulated by their superiors.

Treat your new hires in a friendly and welcoming manner. Extend a welcoming handshake to them, and show some genuine appreciation for them coming to work for you. ~ Note: Make sure that there is some form of a preset welcoming process that works which you practice each time you hire a new person onto your crew.
->The new workers will certainly appreciate this, and it will help them feel more confidence and enthusiasm about their new working endeavor.

Bosses need to be built up too, however, this is done in a different with your actions. Bosses need someone who is going to be the ultimate team player, somebody who anticipates whatever the boss needs to be done and completes tasks before the boss even thinks of them, someone who provides an excellent service for the boss so that the boss doesn’t even need to mention a performance issue ever.
->The boss wants a self-reliant worker that doesn’t need to be micro-managed.
->Be the best at your job, and help others do their best as well. Make it a personal goal to have the team that scores the highest in every possible area and subject matter! Have your team best the competition in budgeting and all other efficiencies of concerning time and money.

Establish individual relationships with each boss:
1) Make it your business to learn what the needs of the boss are going to be.
2) Let the boss know that you are at his service and suggest issues that he might need to think about. Keep the correspondence private so the boss doesn’t feel at all threatened.
->By nurturing this relationship with your boss, it will make him want to trust you more and that will make him more interested in your opinion on important matters.
->This established trust with your boss will make it more likely for him to take your advice, and this will enormously increase the effectiveness of daily operations.
->Finally, when you make your boss look good in this way, the boss will be very generous in sharing the credit with you. You will get to make decisions more often when you turn out to be very helpful in this way as well.

Continuously and honestly counsel the people whom you will need to be evaluating. Set up clear and concise guidelines as to what you expect of those individuals. Let them know that you expect them to become experts in their own fields, and be sure to check as to whether or not they are performing to your expectations. Also, let them know that you expect of them to participate in at least one big project or assignment.
->When people see their contemporaries undertaking a big project, they too will understand that it will get them a top evaluation as well.
-> Make it part of your daily routine to give positive or negative feedback to people.
-> If they do something really well, then let them know that you acknowledge and appreciate their good work.
-> If they come up short, then get it out in the open with them immediately:
-> Maybe you just need to provide some form of instructional training for them
-> If they already have had the training, then perhaps you need to give them a deadline by which time they need to improve their technique or else there will be some form of consequences.
-> When you warn them about the consequences of not improving by the given deadlines, be sure that you are clear and specific with what they are going to be, and be sure to carry them out if there hasn’t been the level of improvement that you were expecting of them.

Generate unity… assemble the best team possible, train it, and then figure out the best way to get the members to work together for the good of the organization, because that is the task of a good leader.
-> This goal can be achieved by making people learn to want to belong to the organization.
->Make an effort to get your team concentrating on their likenesses and common goals.
->When there is differences between people, try to maximize their uniqueness and then channel this toward the common goals of the group.
->Note: There really is no place for racial or sexual discrimination in any organization.

The most effective managers are the ones who work hard to show people how to find their own solutions, and then get out of their way.

The bottom line: “Optimism rules! Opportunities never cease! Victory goes to whichever organization has the greatest horizontal leadership!” Captain Michael Abrashoff