Forums

Hi everyone.

My name is Steve. I was born and raised in Toronto, where I currently live with my wife, son and daughter.

I have worked as Communications Manager with a manufacturing company since November 2001. I manage a team of six people responsible for Corporate Events, Advertising, Public Relations, Promotions, Trade Shows, Web Development, Literature Creation, Literature Distribution, and Promotional Items.

When I’m not working, I enjoy spending time with my son reading or playing. I also enjoy reading, and practicing Tai-chi. After a two-year break from hockey, I have recently started playing in a recreational league.

I’ve been listening to the Manager Tools podcasts since January 2006, and have benefited tremendously from the knowledge that Michael and Mark are making available. I also enjoy reading the blog and the discussion forums to gain different perspectives on business issues. My favourite quote from a Manager-Tools podcast is: “Replace the irritation with data gathering”

[b]Notes on Sharing Goals and Tracking Progress [/b]
In their first podcast, Michael and Mark briefly discussed an application to allow users to share goals and report on progress. After some deliberation, I shared my goals with the Manager Tools community. The exercise had two purposes:
1. Writing my goals for others to read would force me to define them more clearly.
2. Sharing them with others would make it harder for me to back away from completing them.

Both of the above turned out to be true. I wrote and re-wrote the text of my goals several times to make them clear. With the goals written and posted, I felt even more motivated to complete tasks. I don’t have a history of successfully writing and achieving goals (quite the opposite), so the exercise was powerful for me, and it has been informative to observe my own decision-making around task prioritization.

In some instances, I found myself choosing to work on items related to my goals instead of completing important tasks directly related to the day to day business of the department. In other words, my personal vanity won out over the business requirements of the department. So, although it was an interesting exercise, there were instances in which I was less effective because I chose to pursue my written goals.

My goals (related to the Manager Tools material) for Oct to Dec of 2006 were as follows:

[b]1. Regular One-On-One Meetings[/b]
Continue One-on-One meetings with local direct reports. Expand this to include off-site directs. Complete ten meetings with each person through October, November and December.

Summary of Progress:
Held 8 of the targeted 10 sets of One-on-One Meetings. Though it was actually 7 for some individuals due to sickness & vacation days.

[b]2. Improve Relationship with Supervisor[/b]
Continue with "update" meetings. Complete 6 meetings through October, November and December. Sit together at two meals during upcoming trip. Send 2 “articles of interest” (with appropriate sections highlighted) by end of November.

Summary of progress:
Although we scheduled all six meetings, in the end I met with my supervisor only twice. However, I think he appreciated my efforts to strengthen the working relationship. We are on better terms than we were in mid October, so the effort was very worthwhile.

[b]3. Build External "Industry" Network[/b]
Add 12 new contacts (approx one per week) through October, November and December, setting up recurring appointments in Microsoft Outlook, and initiating the first instance of contacting each person. Continue to reach out to existing industry network, by following through on previously set appointments.

Summary of Progress:
I added 12 new contacts to my Outlook list, and contacted them all at least once. Set a recurring appointment (with no end date) to contact each of them once every 3 months.

Mark is 100% correct with the point made in the Rutgers Bus. School PPT. “Your First Efforts Are So Obviously Lame”. My first attempts were lame AND, I now feel more confident about reaching out to new people and will continue to build an industry network.

My next step is to make a plan for building an internal network. To repeat Michael’s point from a podcast: An external network is for risk and opportunity management. An internal network is for effectiveness.

[b]4. Coach Direct Reports[/b]
Start coaching all six direct reports using the MT model (Establish Goals, Collect Performance Data, Analyze Performance data, Review and Modify Goals). Hold these discussions within the framework of One-on-one meetings, and use the MT feedback model appropriately.

Summary of Progress:
I did not cover the ground I was hoping for. I’ve heard it said that, “A Structural Manager has GOT to have his or her homework done”, and it’s true. I was not sufficiently prepared for some of the coaching discussions, so I didn’t feel I could push for or expect progress.

I also did not delegate authority and responsibility for the performance development process. So, although I made varying amounts of progress with each of 6 people, I didn’t get to where I wanted. In a way, this revealed a poor choice of terms in writing the goal. I didn’t actually write what I wanted to achieve. I just wrote ‘Start’. I should have articulated the desired progress more clearly.

[b]5. Maintain Project Log[/b]
Use MS Excel. Update twice weekly during scheduled sessions. Distribute tasks as agreed, using Microsoft Outlook.

Summary of Progress:
This activity and goal came from listening to the Time Management cast. I decided the single most important thing I could do for the effectiveness of the team was ensure that everyone knew about on-going projects and their responsibilities within them (“Who does what by when”) , AND were also aware of the priorities and time restrictions around different projects. So, we dreamed up a basic project tracking tool and task distribution method. Not a success.

I see the need. I understand the benefits of getting this right, but I did not do it well enough, or with enough regularity, to make it work. I need to have up-to-date project and task progress reports available for One-on-One meetings, and for the twice weekly ‘coordination’ meetings.

[b]6. Departmental Coordination Meetings[/b]
Hold twice-weekly departmental “project coordination” meetings to review tasks and priorities. Use an online meeting tool to facilitate information exchange and record input. Use the meeting to explain projects listed in the project log.

Summary of Progress:
I started poorly in this item, but the meetings improved as we went along. Each meeting we cover 4 major sections:

1. Key Tasks (for each person)
2. Issues (items to be aware of, where we could improve)
3. Key Dates
4. Top Priorities (for the team)

The missing piece that would make this more successful is an up-to-date project log. Pulling an idea from the Project Management cast, I will try to build in the element of passive reporting.

Mark's picture

Steven-

Welcome! Glad you're aboard, and thanks for the kind words. It's a privilege to serve you.

LOVE the way you shared your goals. Well done, sir. Keep us posted.

And, I hope you like Chasing Daylight. I liked it, despite its sadness. It proved to me for the thousandth time that it's all about people, and more communication is better.

Mark

MattJBeckwith's picture

Steven, welcome to the M-T forum! Your intro was great! Such a great check list for new members. Your post also reminded about the greatest part of the M-T 'casts... it's about the actions we can take to be better managers, focusing on the "DO" rather than the "BE".

PierG's picture

Steven
welcome and congrats: I whish I were able to set and DO goals like you are doing!
PierG

tstone9999's picture

Wow.

That is an impressive demonstration of goal setting and follow through...inspiring.

Keep posting your progress! It's fun to read your updates along the way.

cincibuckeyenut's picture

Wonderful progress. Thank you for sharing.

davemz's picture

Step by step description is simply great!

Thanks for sharing.

- Dave

sholden's picture

Great post. Very comprehensive. Kudos.

Thanks for sharing.

Steve