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Behind Closed Doors by Johanna Rothman
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Week 1
-Initiate weekly one-on-ones with each person in your group.
-Notice someone doing something well and comment on it.
-Leave your office! The key to MBWAL (managing by walking around and listening) is to notice changes. Become familiar with the normal noise level, decor, and mood. Don't limit yourself to the office area. Stop for coffee in the kitchen area. Eat lunch in the lunchroom.
-Make a list of all the work your group performs, including your own. Use the list to start a project portfolio for the group.

Week 2
-Clarify the goals for your group. See whether you can clearly state the goal of your department. Once you can, see if your boss agrees. Once you and your boss are in agreement about key goals, ask the people in your group how they see the group's goals. Use this to start a discussion about how your group adds value in the organization and what they think the most important deliverables are. Make sure everyone has a clear understanding of the goal you are mutually accountable for.
-Create a first draft of the project portfolio. Clear a wall in a conference room, and using the list of work you created last week, block out the work, week by week.
-In your next series of one-on-ones, ask what people find satisfying about their work. Ask what skills they'd like to work on and whether they want to continue developing their skills in the same job. Be open to people who want to perform different work. Look for ways to support the shift within your group. If someone does want to transfer from your group, analyze the job so you can hire the appropriate replacement.

Week 3
-Assess your group meetings. Are your meetings providing a relevant exchange of information between all the participants? Do your meetings have action-oriented outcomes?
-Provide feedback to each person during one-on-one meetings. Give feedback on something that's going well. If you see a problem, use the one-on-one to provide information on what needs to change.
-Ask yourself whether you've been deliberately avoiding any feedback issues. If so, what's preventing you from providing feedback?

Week 4
-Look for opportunities in your one-on-ones to work with each person to improve their capabilities. Define career goals once a quarter or so; discuss progress toward career goals every week.
-List the people you work with. Now make a separate list of the people on whom your success depends. Wherever the list does not overlap is an opportunity to build a relationship, before you desperately need it.
-Check your blind spots. Are you using gestures or language that reduce your effectiveness? You may want to ask a trusted colleague for help. Eliminate any demeaning or degrading language. Try stating how you feel, rather than acting it out.

Week 5
-Make a list of your group's problems. Identify any that can be solved within your group, and choose one of them as the topic for your next group meeting. The problems you can't solve alone are candidates to work on with your management peers.
-Stretch your group problem-solving skills.
-If you haven't updated the project portfolio in a couple weeks, do it now. An out-of-date project portfolio is a useless project portfolio.

Week 6
-Pry your fingers loose from some task you know you need to give up - and delegate it.
-Persist with your one-on-ones. Find something to notice and appreciate about each person each week.
-Especially if you haven't started, try coaching one member of your team.
-If you haven't yet, ask two or three trusted people for feedback about how you manage your emotions.

Week 7
-Review the practices you've adopted. See whether you can detect any changes in your work and your group's work.
-Review the practices you have not yet adopted. Consider how these practices might change the work you and your group achieve. What's preventing you from adopting these practices?
-Review your management journal. Look for trends or evidence that you are accomplishing more of the important work and reducing the amount of effort expended on low-priority work in your group. Check to see whether you're surprised by work. If you're still surprised by work or still performing work that should be on your not-to-do list, influence your peers to arrive at common goals.
-As you review your management journal, look for times you are effectively managing yourself and times when you are not. What's different in each situation?

Guidelines for Effective Coaching
Unless you can answer "yes" to all these questions, refrain from inflicting help:
1) Could this person be more effective if he or she made some changes?
2) Is the coaching about the technical work or the behaviors related to the job?
3) Does this person want to work on this area?
4) Is this person willing to accept your help?

-Make sure you've provided timely and effective feedback.
-Ask whether the person wants coaching or offer to provide helpful information.
-Engage in conversation to articulate how new skills or behaviors would increase effectiveness.
-Discuss additional options, alternatives, or strategies. People usually choose the best alternative they know - but may have a limited repertoire. Coaching helps increase the range of effective options from which to choose. We have found questions like these help people generate options:
1) What problem are you trying to solve?
2) What are the benefits of taking that option?
3) What could go wrong if you take that option?
4) Who else is affected by that option?
5) What alternatives did you consider?
6) What are two other ways to accomplish this goal?
7) How could we make the situation worse?
8) If we could do only one small thing, what would it be?
9) How would an engineer, marketing person, salesman, or tester (choose a role different from your role) look at this?
10) Where do we get the greatest leverage?
-Discuss the implications of each option. Don't lead to a particular outcome; instead, encourage exploration of each option from the perspective of the person you are coaching. Share your perspective but allow the person you are coaching to select the option that best suits his or her needs.
-Develop an action plan.
-Follow up each week in your one-on-one meeting. Recognize successes. Analyze less successful attempts at trying new skills and behaviors. Look for ways to refine and enhance what did work and correct what didn't.

Setup for Successful Delegation

-Choose your delegatee wisely. Select someone who wants to take on more responsibility and who has identified areas of career development where this work would fit. Don't select someone who is not interested in the work you want to delegate.
-Articulate your expectations about the work: what's acceptable and when you need it.
-Clarify any unacceptable solutions.
-Define interim milestones. If you've delegated a decision, recognize that a decision has at least two parts: generating alternatives and choosing an alternative. Clarify which part(s) you are delegating, and be explicit if you really want a checkpoint between the two parts.

Questions to Ask Yourself
-Is it a discrete chunk of work?
-Does the person have the skills to do the work?
-Does the person have the authority to be successful?
-Does the person have the tools necessary to be successful?
-Does the person know what the result should look like?
-Does the person know when the work is due?
-Do you know how often you want this person to report on progress?
-Does this person know what progress looks like?
-Is this work too risky to delegate?
-Have you set the boundary conditions, e.g., budget, time, and other resources or constraints, for the work?
-Do you have a format for the work product that you want this person to use?

Facilitation Essentials for Managers
-Make sure the meeting has a goal.
-Generate and integrate ideas.
1) Traditional Brainstorming
-Everyone participates
-Write down all ideas for the entire group to see
-No discussing the ideas - compliments or criticism - during the brainstorming
-It's okay to build on others' ideas
-No idea is too wild or too silly
2) Silent Brainstorming
-State the topic focus, review the process, and set a time limit.
-Allow five to ten minutes for each person to jot down at least ten ideas related to the topic. Ask for at least ten ideas.
-Form pairs to discuss the ideas. Have each pair identify their best ideas and transfer them to large index cards. Do the math so that you end up with about thirty-five ideas; e.g., for a group of fourteen, have each pair select five ideas.
-Post the cards on a wall for all to see. There will be duplicates and that's okay.
3) Affinity Grouping (use this after traditional or silent brainstorming)
-Ask the group which ideas seem related, and move those cards close together. Continue asking the question and moving the cards until all the cards are in clusters.
-Name the clusters. The names of the clusters represent the consensus of the group around a particular idea.
4) Evaluate Options
-Evaluate each option on its own before comparing options to each other.
-Draw two lines on a piece of paper (creating three columns).
-List the pros and cons and what's interesting about the option in the three columns.
5) Testing Agreement
-Ask each person to vote on each option using the thumb method (thumbs up = "I support this proposal"; thumbs sideways = "I'll abide by the will of the group"; thumbs down = "I do not support this proposal and wish to speak").
-Allow time for those with reservations to speak.
6) How to Handle the Lone Holdout
-Set a time limit and a fallback decision rule.
a) Turn the decision over to some outside person or group
b) Take a vote
c) Make the decision yourself on the basis of the group input
7) Help Everyone Participate
-Ask for a progress check (e.g., "I notice that we only have twenty minutes left. Can we concentrate on prioritizing the remaining items since we can probably only finish two?")
-Make room for others to speak (e.g., "It looks like Jody has something to say." or "I think we may have interrupted Joe before he was finished. Joe?")
-Restate using different words (e.g., "I hear you saying XYZ. Do I have it about right?")
-Comment on what you see (e.g., "I notice that we're talking about Topic X again. Do we need to reopen that, or can we move back to Topic Y?")
-Summarize (e.g., "Here's what I've heard us agree to. Is that correct?")

Guide to Giving Effective Feedback
-Be specific. Telling a person "This report is exceptional" doesn't help the person understand what was exceptional. "The table of contents made it very easy for me to find what I was looking for in this report" is better.
-Provide feedback as close to the event as possible. Waiting until a year-end review is not helpful. Even waiting until a quarter-end is not helpful.
-Don't label the person; describe the behavior or the result. So instead of saying "Your work is sloppy," say "I noticed the last set of release notes contained typing and spelling errors."
-Don't blame the person; describe specifics. Instead of "You never test your code," say "When you checked these last three changes in, you didn't test the changes."
-Check to make sure the feedback recipient agrees that your description (observable behavior or results) is correct. When the feedback recipient doesn't agree with your data, he or she will check out of the conversation and certainly won't change behavior.

Six-Step Process for Feedback
1) Check whether this is a necessary item for feedback: Does it affect the work? Does it affect working relationships? If not, don't bother with feedback.
2) Prepare to give the feedback. Gather specific examples of recent instances of the problem. Focus on behavior or results.
3) Determine the outcome you desire. Be ready to give corrective feedback or coaching.
4) Deliver feedback privately. Deliver "normal" feedback (appreciations, corrective or coaching feedback) in one-on-ones. When someone is close to losing his or her job, call a separate meeting so the person understands the gravity of the situation.
5) If you have some specific action or result you want, say it. If you're open to a range of possible solutions, engage in joint problem solving.
6) Agree how you'll follow up.

Setting SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound) Goals
For setting group goals, consider using a technique called affinity grouping:
1) Frame the question. Here are possibilities:
-What problems did we encounter in the last project?
-What problems have we encountered over the last few months?
-Where do we want to be in six months?
-How do we accomplish this goal of increasing revenue in the next six months?
2) Write down one answer or idea per sticky.
3) Post the stickies on the wall, and group them by common theme.
4) Label each grouping.
5) As a group, develop actions that will help you achieve the goals stated in each theme
Set individual goals in a one-on-one. Individual goals are complementary to the group goals and are tied to the group's mission. In addition, individual goals address each person's specific issues and may include career development goals.

Manage By Walking Around and Listening
-Tell people you're going to leave your office and circulate. Let them know that you'll be asking them questions.
-Leave your office and walk around. Aim for once or twice a week. Daily is great, but we've never met a manager who had the time every day to wander. How long you spend mingling depends. Five minutes is probably not enough. An hour is probably too much.
-Listen to the current conversations.
-Don't interrupt people who are on the phone or who seem to be working intently. One thing we've done is use do-not-disturb signs or red/green flags for people who don't want to be disturbed. This works for other people as well as for you.
-Take your notebook to record action items. As you circulate, people will ask you questions. Record action items, and let people know when you'll have an update. Be careful about walking around silently taking notes. That looks like spying.
-Notice what people ask you. Their questions are a clue about their concerns. It shows you areas where people don't know how to obtain information for themselves or where your communication may be weak.

Run Effective Meetings
Meetings create value when people do the following:
-Plan work
-Solve problems
-Reach decisions
-Share pertinent information
-Provide answers to questions
Meeting organization template:
-Meeting Purpose (the reason you've asked people to spend their valuable time with you)
-Expected Attendees (the people who will make the decision(s) or solve the problem(s))
-Goal (what you expect to accomplish by the end of the meeting)
-Agenda (the steps you will use to reach the goal)
-Roles (any special roles, e.g., facilitator, scribe)

-Use meetings for multidirectional exchange of information
-Create a formal Observer role (attend to listen and learn, not participate)
-Create an agenda
-Keep meetings short
-Distribute the purpose, agenda, and expected outcomes prior to the meeting
-Use a flip-chart page or an agenda on a whiteboard to create the focus for the meeting
-Capture key information during the meeting
-Review outcomes
-Distribute notes after the meeting
-Plan to improve (At the end of every meeting, gather data about how valuable the meeting was for its participants. Use a subjective measure such as Return on Time Invested (ROTI). Using a five-point scale, ask people to report how much value they received for the time they invested in the meeting. Post the ratings on a flip chart, and poll the group. Create a histogram that shows the results. Then ask for information about what made the meeting worthwhile or not. Ask the people who rated the meeting a 2 or above what specifically they received for investing their time in the meeting. Ask people who voted 1 or 0 what they wanted but didn't receive for their investment. Ask what to keep, what to drop, and what to add for the next similar meeting.)

Run Effective Team Meetings
1) Gossip, rumors, news
2) Problem-of-the-week (the problem that you will work on as a team this week)
3) Review action items
-An hour is usually sufficient for this sort of meeting, but you may need more time if you're working on a significant problem.
-Avoid times when people are likely to be sleepy, tired, or ready to leave for the weekend.
-Here are the reasons we ask for rumors, gossip, and good news:
a) Asking for rumors and gossip reduces the power to distract people by making them explicit. Once you are aware of the rumors and gossip, you can fill in the blanks with real information.
b) Rumors and gossip are an excellent indicator of the mood of the organization, particularly when the organization is under stress.
c) Sharing good news helps improve morale.
-Never ask for individual status in this meeting. Individual status is for one-on-ones. Asking for individual status in a group meeting wastes everyone's time. This is different from asking about status on action items that affect the group.
-Focus on solving problems the group needs to solve together. If you're not sure what your group problems are, you can do the following:
a) Ask the group to brainstorm their current list of problems.
b) Review your mission and goals (or define them).
c) Brainstorm ways your team can be more effective in their work.
-We recommend team meetings be at the same time and location each week. This will help your team form a rhythm of working together.
-Track group-required action items, and work with people individually to monitor their progress and help them if required.

For an interdependent team, using a fifteen-minute daily standup meeting can be very effective. In a daily stand-up, each team member answers three questions:
-What did you do since our last meeting?
-What will you work on today?
-What is getting in your way?

Making One-On-Ones Work
-Greeting. Say "hello." Ask how things are going. This may seem like small talk. It is, and it helps you built rapport.
-Discuss status and progress. This is where you find out what people accomplished over the last week, what they didn't accomplish (that they'd planned to), and what their plans are for the next week. Looking at one week in isolation doesn't give you the information you need to know whether the person is getting work done or struggling. When you track status and progress for several weeks in one-on-ones, you can begin to see whether people are having trouble planning, estimating, or accomplishing work.
-Obstacles. We ask for obstacles in one-on-ones. We find that if we don't, people suck it up, assume they must soldier on alone, and don't tell us. Removing obstacles is part of a manager's job. So you need to know what the obstacles are.
-Help. Always make a conscious decision about helping. Inflicting help where it isn't needed feels like micromanagement to the victim. Start by asking whether the person needs help. Help can come in the form of solving problems jointly, generating options, talking through alternatives, pointing to specific information, or simply listening. Help directly when asked or when department deliverables and goals are in jeopardy.
-Career development. Paying attention to your team member's career is another way to build relationships and trust. It shows you are not just there to wring as much work out of him or her as possible - you care about his or her career and interests too. Paying attention to career development will help you keep the best employees.
-Anything else to discuss. Leave room for topics your team members want to address.
-Review actions (yours and theirs)
-Take notes
-Troubleshooting one-on-ones (plan in "inch-pebbles" - tasks that deliver something in a day or two
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October 18, 2012 – Shelved

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