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The Respect Effect

The Respect Effect: Using the Science of Neuroleadership to Inspire a More Loyal and Productive Workplace

February 1, 2014 No Comments

The Respect Effect
Paul Meshanko, McGraw Hill, 2013

Author Paul Meshanko has written a well researched and practical book on the effectiveness of “respect” as both a value and a behaviour in organisational success. Even without the benefit of the author’s research and experience, one could probably quite accurately guess the four reasons he lists for focussing on the value of respect for one another – the potential cost of disrespect (e.g. discrimination-related violations), the case for social justice, the biological impact on our brains of both respect and disrespect, and the increase in employee engagement through respecting one another in the workplace. However, Meshanko lists a fifth reason that is often overlooked by other authors – the legacy we leave (say five or ten years from now) in the impact that our relationship had on them. In Meshanko’s words “We remember people we met by how we typically felt when we were in their presence”.

For me, this last reason underpins the necessary focus managers need to place on respect.

The book is in three parts. Part One outlines the reasons why respect is so powerful in building successful organisations. Part Two provides tools for building respectful work cultures and Part Three suggests four strategies that all successful organisations have that embrace respectfulness. Throughout there are great examples, case studies and tips that both explain and suggest how respect plays such an important part in building and sustaining successful workplaces.
I was excited by the title and the subject – I’ve long been a believer in the basic principle of giving respect and so was very much looking forward to reading this book. Yet, whilst I found the book easy to read and understand, I also found there was a lot of information to absorb. In fact I read it once, then put it aside for quite some time before returning to read it again. Normally when I read a book such as this, I can immediately see how the ideas can be easily applied in the workplace. This is also true of “The Respect Effect”, yet I still felt there was something missing. On my second read, that “something” (for me at least) appeared to be the lack of a practical “how to guide” to implement all the great ideas Meshanko puts forward. I guess it gets close in Part Three – The Path Forward, and particularly Chapter 11 – A Blueprint for Respectful Organisations which lists four gateways for success.
Having said that, the enterprising manager, trainer or change agent will still find all that is necessary in this book to develop their own blueprint for building and sustaining respectful workplaces.

The Little Black Book of Management

August 15, 2012 No Comments

“The Little Black Book of Management”, is a very much needed resource. Simply put, it précis 94 of the better known management tools, techniques and concepts that have proven effective across many industries, organisations and indeed, cultures.

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A Manager’s Guide to Virtual Teams

December 1, 2011 No Comments

“A Manager’s Guide to Virtual Teams” gives a most comprehensive coverage of the topic. Yael Zofi draws on his experience of consulting with many virtual teams and their managers to provide everything one would need to know to set up and successfully manage a virtual team.

Using the analogy of a car journey down the virtual highway, Zofi takes us through the three stages of virtual team development – set-up, follow-through and refresh – with plenty of “how to’s”, examples and case studies. There are also some good checklists to guide you down the right road and self-assessments to check your road worthiness.

This is a great book for the detail minded. For those seeking the big picture or whose style of learning is more attuned to taking things in small chunks, I would have liked to have seen more “overview” at the start of chapters or topics. The topic of virtual teams, particularly told as it is by way of a road journey, would ideally lend itself to some visuals in the form of road maps. In fact, I would direct this type of reader to the checklist on pages 248 and 249 – Zofi actually labels this a “roadmap”. It’s a pity it doesn’t look like one.

I would also have liked to have seen some of the checklists used as virtual team assessments and team communication tools. For example, the “Eight Characteristics of High-Performing Virtual Teams” mentioned in the appendix would make an ideal assessment to be completed by team members (assessing their team as it is now) and then used as the basis of a team development meeting.

This leads me to my final observation. Good and all as the content is, the book is taken from the virtual team manager’s perspective. That’s as it should be to start with. However, does there come a time when the virtual team members need to also take a leadership role? This perspective is most evident in the chapter on “Cross-Culture Communications and Virtual Teams” where a manager from a different culture might take another perspective. The figure (7-1) on High Context versus Low Context by countries/regions (page 197 and unfortunately not referenced) could have been an ideal vehicle to discuss a virtual team manager (role/style etc.) who is from a different culture to that of the author.

All in all this is a good book on virtual teams. For some readers, perhaps a little too wordy, however for those readers it is worth persevering.

Surviving and Thriving in the HR World

February 19, 2010 No Comments

Jim Suthers in Surviving & Thriving in the HR World sets out his ideas on how to get the HR job you want and in the process, make life easier. As I read the book I had some difficulty deciding whether the author was talking to someone wishing to get into HR, or wanting to be promoted within HR.

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The Boss

August 13, 2009 No Comments

The Boss is a novel – and is also a novel way of learning about management and leadership. Author Andrew O’Keeffe has used his years of experience working with bosses and the stories he has been told about bosses, to pen this enlightening read. O’Keeffe has also used his vast knowledge of what makes people tick to ensure that there is a message in every chapter for anybody who wants to be a better boss or for someone who might need to manage their current boss better.

Told through the eyes of Lauren Johnson, the talented but perennial adherent to her bosses whims, it will keep you interested and involved to the final chapter. Early in the book we find Lauren finally deciding to move from her current job to get away from “Deadly Di”, the boss from hell, only to end up in a worse situation. In her new organisation, not only is her new boss somewhat inept, but many of the other senior managers have failings, quirks and even personality disorders which I am sure readers will recognise in bosses they have known.

When will Lauren wake up and do something about her situation? This is a clever concept O’Keeffe has used. By keeping us in tune with Lauren, but also keeping us frustrated that she is not taking it upon herself to get out from under, it enables O’Keeffe to achieve two aims. Firstly it is an excellent way of getting the reader to think of ways that he or she might act in Lauren’s situation, thus ensuring we learn about ourselves. Secondly, it enables the author to introduce all the various difficult boss types that need to be managed.

It might sound as if this book has quite a negative flavour. This is not so. There are enough examples of good bosses sprinkled throughout to provide the example of “what to do” in addition to “what to avoid doing”. Coupled with this is O’Keeffe’s quiet sense of humour and the quirky situations in which Lauren finds herself.

You could read this book as a novel and I’m sure get great satisfaction. However for me, The Boss is an excellent learning tool for managers. There’s a “Workplace Guide” at the end of the book with discussion questions for developing leadership. You’ll also see here chapter headings with the key management process covered, such as interviewing, appraisals, first impressions, salary reviews etc. However, my advice is to keep a pen and paper close by as you read in case you miss some of the gems such as “How to set a shared objective for an interview or discussion”.

Highly recommended for anyone who wants to be a better boss, or who wants to manage their current boss better, or just as a good read. Because of the way it is written, it would also make an excellent gift for someone who may be a manager, but does not like to read heavy technical or theoretical type books.

Think Again: Why Good Leaders Make Bad Decisions and How to Keep It From Happening to You

May 9, 2009 No Comments

“Most leaders make bad decisions. Even great leaders can make bad decisions.” The introduction to “Think Again” leads with this statement. The authors Fnklestein, Whitehead and Campbell then proceed to show why. Most importantly, they provide a framework for recognising when such bad decisions may occur and how to safeguard against such decisions.

The book is in three parts – How your brain makes decisions; Why decisions go wrong; and Red flags and safeguards (for recognising and preventing bad decisions).

Part 1, reviews much of the research and current thinking on how the brain works. One particular point of interest that the authors note, is our propensity to tag all our major decisions with emotional tags – tags which can and often do, override rational thinking.

Part 2 chronicles many of the wider known decisions that have proven to be wrong, such as Kennedy’s Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, Wang Computers’ disastrous (the company now no longer exists) decision to opt for their own proprietary operating system rather than adopt the industry IBM PC standard, and Margaret Thatcher’s Poll Tax debacle. But the authors also provide many case studies of practising managers who have made mistakes in areas such as change management, taking on new roles, and new product or production processes etc. These should prove most insightful to managers at all levels.

All of the cases in Part 2 are used to illustrate the four reasons for bad decision making – misleading experiences, misleading pre-judgments, inappropriate self-interest and inappropriate attachments. The authors describe these as potential “red flags”. In addition to cases, the authors describe a number of studies to demonstrate their point. One that stood out was on “inappropriate self-interest” where 139 experienced auditors (not students) were asked to evaluate a case study to ensure the firm met certain standards. Half the group were told they had been hired by the firm to do this analysis and the other half told they had been hired by another firm wishing to trade with this firm. Those who had been told they were hired by the firm were 30% more likely to find the firm met the standards than those hired by the potential customer!

Part 3 then describes the four “safeguard” strategies for preventing bad decisions – experience, data and analysis; group debate and challenge; governance; and monitoring. None of these will be new to the reader. However, it is the practical and structured way the authors show how these safeguards can be used, that make this book really worthwhile.

There’s also a Database of Cases and a Database of Safeguards with examples that summarise how the red flags have been identified and the safeguards can be used in practice. These make an excellent “how to” and easy reference source for practising managers.

This is a good book. It’s a dense book – and it needs to be, for the subject is complex. The authors have done a great job simplifying the subject and at the same time providing us with a practical way of identifying (red flags) when we might be likely to make a bad decision and how to help avoid (safeguards) making one. It would be a very useful text for any serious management student and will also be highly useful to any manager serious about minimising the chance of making poor decisions.

The Art of Managing People

January 22, 2009 No Comments

In their introduction, authors Hunsaker and Alessandra, set out to help readers (managers) “build the trust bond”. That resonates with me. Unfortunately, I doubt that the book will achieve its purpose.

The opening paragraph should have given me the clue when it asked “Have you ever wished that you could magically know what other people are really thinking about you when you are interacting with them?” and then went on to suggest eight possible things, all of which were negative. And that set the tone for the book.

Most topics such as transactional analysis and decision making are covered adequately. However, there are some that are out of touch with modern management principles such as the dichotomy – technical vs interactive management.

I struggled with this book. In fact it has sat around for some months as I keep coming back to try and complete my reading. Admittedly, it was first published in 1986 and so, I might be a bit harsh with my criticism. However, it is still regularly listed as a “resource for new managers” and as such deserves a critique.

If you are a student looking for some background reading on management, then perhaps this book may have some use. If you are a manager looking for “how to” manage, then there are much better books that will serve your purpose.

What To Do When You become The Boss

What To Do When You Become The Boss

January 12, 2009 No Comments
What To Do When You become The Boss

What To Do When You become The Boss

Most new managers get very little initial training about how to manage. Generally new managers are promoted or selected for the role because of their excellent technical or professional expertise. It is assumed therefore that they will also be expert at people management.

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People Skills

People Skills

January 12, 2009 1 Comment

Although “People Skills” was first published in 1986, I feel obliged to review it as the principles and lessons espoused by Robert Bolton are timeless. In fact it is probably one of the most used books in my collection (I even have the paperback version covered in plastic and it’s never far from my desk).

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Getting Things Done – The Art Of Stress Free Productivity

November 24, 2008 No Comments

David Allen’s premise (which is a good one) in “Getting Things Done – The Art Of Stress Free Productivity”, is that the skills needed to become more productive are not new to us. We know how to do the things we need to do. It’s more a matter of making a commitment, jumping in, and then having a system to ensure we keep it up. Allen helps us on all three challenges.

On making a commitment Allen provides ample and simple concepts, case scenarios and a good dose of common sense. The introduction and chapter one should provide enough push to get anyone started. For example, he suggests that for everything we think we need to do (or get done) we should:

• Clarify the intended outcome – “What do we really want to achieve?”
• What’s the next physical action needed to move us toward the outcome?
• Then, to maintain our commitment, put both the outcome and actions into a system – one that works for us (not a “one size fits all” approach).

I liked this book. It is well written and easy to follow. Everything he says makes sense. I particularly liked the core concept diagram which was repeated at the appropriate places throughout the book. What’s most important in a book like this, is that Allen provides enough tools, concepts and techniques for anyone to become more productive.

As a reviewer of a self-help book, it’s a good sign that I have implemented some of Allen’s suggestions.

Highly recommended.