Some of you may remember that 6 mos's ago I was promoted to run my services department but am still reporting to my old boss. Many of you gave me the advice to take it slow, not make any major changes for the first 90 days and observe. I am done observing and am now ready to set a course.

Things I have learned:

The department has been adrift for many years without any cohesive strategy. Our customers are constantly confused by what we offer them and are frustrated by varying degrees of quality from different people.

1. We need a Mission and Vision Statement - I drafted a set and want my team to buy in by helping me set the final versions.
2. We need a way to measure our performance - A single metric that I have already come up with and am setting up the reporting framework so that it is automated. The metric measures the amount of hours we restore to our customers and is the primary purpose that we exist.
3. We need to consolidate our services to those that fill our mission/vision statement. - We need to re-balance our portfolio of services so that they agree with our mission/vision. That metric that I discussed has a way to report against each of our services and will tell us quickly which ones are valuable and which ones delver less value to our customers.

I have prepared a lengthy written plan to do just this but have been hesitant to discuss it with my current boss because he never wanted to run things this way. I think that he is a little threatened by me and anything that might make his way of doing things look bad.

I have to present this to my boss and his prior to deploying this massive culture change. This is where I need your advice. How can I present such concepts to people who haven't utilized these tools in their 20+ years in my position (and never needed too...they would say) and may even be a bit threatened by them? I think that I am looking for help selling the ideas to my skeptical managers.

Mark's picture
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At the risk of writing something to justify my $7,500 daily consulting fee, I will be brief.

1. Well done. Glad you waited, and now you're clear. Don't forget to ask yourself - "what might I have done in the beginning that now is clearly misguided, or that could have jeopardized the energy I will need from everyone NOW that I know what is truly needed?"

2. You don't need a mission and a vision statement. You need a mission and a vision (maybe). Chasing down a statement is an exercise in vocabulary, and everyone's vocabulary these days is atrocious. Less than 20 word mission, no commas. Collaborate when you develop it, but only to get input, not to actually write/craft it. THAT is what creates vocabulary wars.

3. [b]Read and implement The Heart of Change[/b]. It's what we use as a guideline. That first part, about a COMPELLING EMOTIONAL/VISUAL IMAGE, is worth its weight in gold. Do that, and everything else gets easier. Not easy, but easier.

4. Never show discouragement when you have a bad week. If you believe, and make many small decisions in the right direction, you'll be okay. Illegitimi non carborundum.

5. I am not sure that you need to brief your boss, but I'll trust your judgment. Selling less than what you're planning, or talking about certain tasks without revealing the entire strategy, is absolutley reasonable, and a time-tested approach. If you present an entire plan, he can kill it all all at once. Don't be afraid to consider stealth as a tactic on some things, in light of your concerns.


7. Welcome to leadership. Now manage your way through it.

8. Keep us posted.


AManagerTool's picture
Mark's picture
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Ahhh... but at least you did. Asking would've gotten you a "you could look it up."

:wink: :D :o

Good one, huh?


marc owieczka's picture


AManagerTool has written a post that I can relate to except that I've been at my manager position for 2 months. I was brought in to manage a team, value map and identify opportunities for improvements and refine processes in a purchasing department. In the first 30 days I interviewed and value mapped most of today's processes and I've created a 5 step, 1 year plan to achieve certain benchmarks. I've shown this to my peers and my boss but cannot get any feedback. They don't seem to want to buy in. I am not invited to meetings with major vendors as they say I am not ready. They want me to get my department in order. But I've shown them my plan. They have not manadated any objectives to me. i have no deliverables. So i created my own for my deparmtnet, myself and my staff. My boss is more interested in me forcing my team to write emails on time ???????? I'm so confused. They lack focus and vision and I see opportunity to bring them to the next level they talk about so much (but have yet to define to me)......What am i doing wrong? did i move too fast? am i being too agressive? how to i respond to no feedback?


ps love your show and your site. you guys rock my world.

bflynn's picture

Marc, just a couple of observations;

1) Better performance isn't strategy, its just taking what you're already doing and being better. Its great to have the performance benchmarks, but don't look at that as strategy. Sometimes better performance can be a part of a strategic plan, but only from the standpoint that it changes the bigger picture.
2) Having a plan and executing a plan are two different things. I think your stance is aggressive and I think your boss might not be able to believe in your ability to deliver results because you're already looking past your one year plan (your eye is off the ball). Get a couple of those steps under your belt and delivered on time and it will help.
3) Communciations, communciations, communciations. Its tired and boring, but more communciations will rarely hurt. Your lack of understanding should not be construed to mean that your boss doesn't understand. Talk and seek understanding.

Just a feeling - this might not be accurate. It would be counter-productive to crack a whip down until you understand what is important looking up. Your people understand this job better than you do. Talk to them - you've started O3s, feedback and coaching, right?

Strategy - you have to understand the business situation before you can understand your role in it. Sometimes, especially in isolated or highly complex businesses, it can take years to really understand the ebb and flow of an industry.


AManagerTool's picture

Just a quick follow up because I got PM'ed on this:

1. My manager was an obstructionist until his manager endorsed the plan. It seems that his manager obtained the plan documents by my "clumsy" use of our document management system. It seems that he does indeed read our meeting minutes. :wink:
2. While the strategy includes metrics, it is not the whole strategy. We needed a strategy of process improvement and reporting results that would help prove and improve the value of our services as compared to outside resources. We have competition now. This was something my team didn't seem to realise. Part of the strategy also included establishing a "Culture of Urgency"....THANKS MANAGER TOOLS!
3. My team bought into the plan WAY before management did. I got their buy in through regular O3 discussions and staff meetings. They were in implementation phase before anyone said go! I think that lighting the fire in my team was the most important step.

Our mission is now clear and decisions are starting to be made by staff without a whole bunch of oversight because of their clear buy in and alignment with that mission. Our work order system has been revised, by my staff, so that our metric is tracked for each service type and the results from last month are encouraging. People are already recommending and arguing out process change suggestions to help us save cycles.

I hope that gives a better idea of where I am in a little over a month.

Mark's picture
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I'm sorry this has taken me so long. I regret my absence.

Stick with it, and keep your head down. Don't forget the first three rules of every new job:



thebog's picture

Hire for skills, fire for fit - or lack of it....


kklogic's picture

I would respectfully disagree. You can teach skills, you can't teach fit. We hire based on fit and have almost non-existent turnover.

Mark's picture
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Hire for attitude, train for skills.