Judy Dobles, General Management Consulting

YOUR TOUGHEST BUSINESS CHALLENGES SOLVED.

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  • Before I became a supervisor, I watched and observed what supervisors did. Some things I liked and others not so much.  I vowed that when I became a supervisor, I would model the good actions I had seen in others.  One of the most important I felt was for supervisors to share, with their team, their personal operating principles.  By doing this at the first team meeting staff had the opportunity to learn more about you; it took the guess work out of getting to know you.

    Listed below are my operating principles which I have shared with multiple teams.  Even though I give the team the opportunity to suggest modifications, no team has ever done so.  I believe that is a reflection on the fact that these are universal operating principles.

    1. I will never ask anyone to do anything that I would not ask myself to do.  This means I am only asking for meaningful work to be done.
    2. If something does not make sense, ask a question.  Communication that is only one way is bound to end up causing confusion and wasted effort.
    3. When a piece of work has a due date, I expect it to be delivered.  I am not going to build in extra time into the due date.   I do not like to have to ask where things are.
    4. I like “net” communication.  Whether it is voicemail, e-mail or a face-to-face conversation, keep it short, sweet and to the point.  That means that you need to think a bit before communicating.  A stream of consciousness dialog is inefficient for both of us.
    5. I expect a high skill level in Excel, PowerPoint and Word.  As John Davidson said, “By not keeping PC skills current you are causing me to be more inefficient.”
    6. You need to demonstrate your understanding of and use lean/six sigma tools.  Defect recognition and correction are important.  If a defect happens in your process, I am looking for a corrective action plan.  A mistake is an opportunity to improve a process.  The same mistake happening over and over again is not OK.
    7. No whining: please bring solutions.  The complaint to idea ratio should be 1:10.  Everyone needs to vent now and again, but you earn the right to do so by bringing forward ideas and solutions.

    I am certain that each of you have a similar set of operating principles.  This is your opportunity to write them down and share them with your team if you have not already done so.

    If you would like to discuss them in person, I would be happy to do so.  Please call me:  1.585.329.3754.

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  • During my career I have had the honor to supervise a great number of wonderful individuals.  They have hailed from around the globe: Europe, Oceania, The Americas, Asia and Africa.  They made the job of supervision easy.  Let me share the things I was thankful for as a supervisor.

    I greatly appreciated that the staff were:

    • Dedicated to learning and continuous improvement
    • Put aside differences and focused on the task at hand
    • Rolled up their sleeves and did whatever needed to be done even though it was not in their job description
    • Readily shared what was on their mind even though it might conflict with something I or another team member said
    • Brought solutions forward instead of whining about things they did not like
    • Understood that change is a natural part of the world and workplace and therefore worked to ensure the success of any given change
    • Trusted each other to do what they said they would do
    • Kept current regarding the latest technology changes in their respective fields
    • Had a well-established network with individuals in other functions and external companies
    • Had a good sense of humor and always had fun at work

    The reason I enjoyed my supervisory positions were the wonderful individuals that comprised each team.  I feel extremely lucky and thankful to have had the opportunity to work with a lot of talented and dedicated people.  No doubt during your career you have worked with “dream teams”.   Tell me a little bit about what made the teams great.

     

    *** For readers outside of the USA and Canada: Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday celebrated primarily in the United States and Canada, with several other places around the world observing similar celebrations. Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November in the United Stated and on the second Monday of October in Canada.  Thanksgiving has its historical roots in religious traditions, but today is celebrated in a more secular manner, typically with family.

    In the United States, the modern Thanksgiving holiday tradition is commonly traced to a 1621 celebration at Plymouth in present-day Massachusetts. The 1621 Plymouth feast and thanksgiving was prompted by a good harvest.

    The origin of the first Canadian Thanksgiving is often traced back to 1578 and the explorer Martin Frobisher.  Frobisher, who had been trying to find a northern-passage to the Pacific Ocean, held his Thanksgiving celebration not for harvest but in thanks for surviving the long journey from England through the perils of storms and icebergs. Sometimes, the origins of Canadian Thanksgiving are traced to the French settlers who came to New France with explorer Samuel de Champlain in the early 17th century, who celebrated their successful harvests. (Source:  Wikipedia)

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  • I live in the town of Penfield, New York.  Our local school district sends out a monthly newsletter and the cover story for November was common core standards for English, History, Social Studies, Science/Technology and Mathematics.  Having spent most of my career in finance I was struck with the similarity between the core learning standards for mathematics and expectations/skills needed in the workplace.  In fact, I thought it was fabulous to see such a strong linkage.

    I would like to share them with you verbatim and hope that it may rekindle an interest in the mathematical and analytic skills required for a company to be successful in the marketplace and an individual to be successful in their career.

    [1] Making Sense of Problems and Persevering in Solving Them:  Each of us encounter problems every day.  Some are simple and some extremely complex.  We add value to the companies we work for when we know how to approach and solve problems effectively.

    [2] Reasoning Abstractly and Quantitatively:  This is all about getting to know the data and metrics for your work and organization.  After working in an area for a while you get a feel for the numbers.  Even before you put pencil to paper [or now fingers to the keyboard] you know the numbers are wrong.  As a result you can fix a mistake and ensure sound output.

    [3] Constructing Viable Arguments and Critiquing the Reasoning of Others:  In my experience, the problems that most need solving are complex.  It requires hard work to determine the potential (viable) causes.  You also need a team of knowledgeable individuals to have discussions.  In these sessions you will challenge and critique all the ideas to ensure they are valid.  In these lively discussions it is not about right and wrong; it is about exploring all possible options so that you get the best possible solution.

    [4] Modeling with Mathematics:  The bigger the impact of a decision the more important modeling becomes.  Modeling allows you to see the impact of all the variables for a given decision.  This critical information helps you know where to focus your efforts.  For example, if the value of a variable can triple without impacting the outcome and it is highly unlikely that the change will happen then that variable can be ignored.  On the other hand, if the normal variation of a variable is plus or minus 5% and 1% change significantly changes the decision, then this variable is critical to understand and model.

    [5] Using Appropriate Tools Strategically:  The example that comes to mind immediately for me is Lean/Six Sigma.  There are many tools available to assist in eliminating process defects.  An individual needs to learn the tools and then know when to use them.  Using the wrong tool for a given situation will not solve the problem.

    [6]Attending to Precision:  Attention to detail applies to both communication with others and the actual work you do.  When communicating ideas with others you need to be crisp and concise.  Have you ever received a “stream of consciousness” e-mail?   Another word for it is “rambling prose”.  You read it several times and the point still is not clear.  That is certainly a waste of your time.  It also applies to the actual work.  In the world of accounting for example, if you are doing an account reconciliation, you cannot say, “It sort of balances.”  Either it does or it doesn’t.  And if it does not, you need to figure out why and take the appropriate action.

    [7] Looking for and Making Use of Structure:  When you have worked in a field long enough patterns start to emerge.  One that is interesting to me is how at the end of the year, departments increase their capital spending because they have underspent their budgets.   They say, “I do not want to lose my money.”  However, spending money with no purpose but to use up a budget most likely means the money is being wasted.  Your ability to see patterns helps to anticipate problems so that you can take corrective action earlier.

    [8] Looking for and Expressing Regularity in Repeated Reasoning:    When you are familiar enough with your work you should expect certain results. If you do not get them, you should then figure out what went wrong.  There is also an expectation of consistency.  The terminology in lean/six sigma is standard work.  Common and repeatable approaches allow the work to get done effectively and efficiently.  If the work methods change day to day you are injecting variability into a process.  A great example of this is as follows:  an individual in the accounting department had finished their monthly closing activities for that particular day early.  They decided to get a head start of the work for the next day.  Unfortunately, that work had to be done after the SAP system closed for the month which was going to happen at midnight.  Although the individual had good intentions, they did not follow the published closing schedule and as a result caused a lot of extra work for many people, including the IT department.

    I hope that in reading these 8 core standards for mathematics you have seen a similarity with the analytical expectations you have set for your organization.  For me, reading something new refreshes my thoughts on any given subject.   I hope this post has sparked some ideas to help you more clearly articulate the need for strong mathematical and analytical skills in the workplace.

    Please call me for a complimentary discussion of how to improve the written expectations for your organization.  585-329-3754.

    Note:   to read the actual wording for the standards go to the link below (page 6).

    http://www.corestandards.org/assets/CCSSI_Math%20Standards.pdf

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  • A couple of weeks ago, I assisted a local university with a leadership workshop they were holding.  While visiting the school, I came across a commemorative plaque that, to me, had a profound message regarding humility and giving life and your work the best you have to give.  I liked it enough to want to share it with you.  I was not able to ascertain the author, but it was a memorial to William D. Glasser, Professor of Accounting, by the class of 1977 – 1978.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

    “Sometime when you’re feeling important,

    Sometime when your ego’s in bloom,

    Sometime when you take it for granted,

    You’re the best qualified in the room,

    Sometime when you feel that your going

    Would leave an unfillable hole,

    Just follow this simple instruction

    and see how it humbles your soul.

    Take a bucket of water,

    Put your hand in it, up to the wrist,

    Pull it out and the hole that’s remaining,

    Is a measure of how you’ll be missed.

    You may splash all you please when you enter,

    You may stir up the water galore,

    But stop and you find in a minute

    That it looks quite the same as before,

    The moral in this quaint example

    Is do just the best you can,

    Be proud of yourself, but remember,

    There is no indispensable man . . . .

    including me.”

     

    In memory of

    William D. Gasser

    Professor of Accounting

    1913 – 1977

     

    It was through his dedication and loyalty to the education of others, that we were inspired to travel the road of success.

    The Class of 1977- 1978

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