Five Quick Ways Busy managers Can Develop Their Staff

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In their book, Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go, Bev and Julie compare developing employees to eating properly and exercising. Managers know it’s good. They know they should. Yet, for a variety of reasons -- mostly TIME -- they just don’t do it as well or as frequently as they (and their organizations) would like.

Here they lay out five strategies for making development more doable in today’s workplace where time constraints are always a factor.

1. Transfer ownership - Managers don’t own their employees’ careers, their employees do. All that managers can (and should) feel accountable for is guiding, encouraging, collaborating on, and supporting the effort. When employees have some skin in the game, engagement, interest, commitment, and results grow.

2. Cultivate curiosity - When ownership for development is transferred to the employee, career conversations suddenly become a lot easier and less stressful for managers. Managers don’t need to have all the answers - only the right questions and a genuine interest in learning from others.

3. Iterate the IDP - Re-think the formal, lengthy individual development planning processes. For the manager, it’s a huge time-sink, and for the employee it’s frequently like drinking from a fire hose. So break it up. Do a little bit each month - or better yet, each week. These smaller, iterative chunks better accommodate the cadence of business. Equally importantly, they better accommodate how development really occurs: little by little, over time.

4. Engineer experiences - Contrary to conventional wisdom, development isn’t dependent upon promotions or new roles. It can be as simple as jointly identifying activities, tasks, or responsibilities that leverage talents and build the skills that employees need... right where they are. 

5. Carpe coachable moments - Career development opportunities occur countless times each day and when managers are sensitive to the cues around them, they can seize these coachable moments. An authentic and intentional two-minute touch-base can drive greater development than many well-staged formal career meetings.

Managers who consistently find the time to engage in career development that employees appreciate don’t have more time than others, they just have a mindset that allows them to use the little time they do have for maximum impact.

And maybe they eat more vegetables than the rest of us.


Five Things You Didn't Know About Solar Energy

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Forget the hippy-dippy hype about solar energy being environmentally beneficial and all that. As Danny Kennedy says in his new book, solar energy is also a huge growth market that promises profits, jobs, and other benefits that would make the staunchest conservative think twice.

Here are just five interesting facts about solar energy you didn't know:

1. Solar energy has been around for a long time and it has been one of the most dependable sources of energy. NASA launched Vanguard 1, the first artificial satellite powered by solar cells in the 1960s. It's still going strong and remains the oldest manmade satellite in orbit -- over 6 billion miles traveled on sun power.

2. You can sell your solar power. Depending on where you live, you can sell excess power back to the electricity grid and make a profit.  For example, Ontario, Canada’s feed-in-tariff (FIT) program allows residential and commercial solar power producers to feed surplus electricity back into the grid at guaranteed prices.

3. Solar panels work perfectly fine in cold and snowy temperatures.  Though they are most effective in the sunny equatorial regions of the Earth, solar panels are equally at home in snow-bound countries, where they are unaffected by cold but benefit from more reflected photons from a snowy landscape.

4. Scientist Albert Einstein (1879-1955) wrote a Nobel Prize-winning paper in 1905 which explained how the photoelectric effect worked. Einstein’s theories formed the cornerstone of further development of the technology – even though effective generation from solar panels would not come about for another 50 years.

5.  Moths helped design the latest solar panels.  Biologists have noted that the eyes of moths do not reflect light but help them to navigate according to the position of the moon. This has now been copied to help improve the absorbency of solar panel surfaces, as photons bounce off a reflective surface rather than being absorbed, and the solar panel will lose efficiency.

And most importantly, it's cheaper.


What Managers Hate About Managing

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Devora Zack's latest book focuses on the difficult task of managing and how managers who don't particularly relish their roles as leaders and managers can be more effective and even grow to like what they do. But what do managers hate most? Devora polled a large cross-section of them, and here are the five things managers hate most about managing:

# 1.  So Long, Passion for My Real Job.You pursue a career of interest. You turn out to be halfway decent at it, earning a promotion. Suddenly, you find yourself in the alarming, distressing quandary of Managing People. You have less time to do what stimulates you and more responsibility for motivating, leading, and prodding others to be stimulated.  It is an alarming side effect of achieving success at your initial job to then be put in a position to tell others how to be successful at theirs.
#2.  “Hell is Other People.”
 Let’s not mince words (just as Sartre didn’t in coming up with that great phrase). Managing others can be a royal pain. You gotta deal with all their . . . stuff. When did you wake up and suddenly become a therapist, mediator, and cruise director? 
And when did all those great people you work with devolve into kids with junior-high grade personal issues and vendettas? 

#3. It’s Cold and Lonely Up There.
 It turns out that simple workplace friendships aren’t so simple after all. You’re still the same friendly, supportive person, just no longer one of the gang.  Things are different when you’re the boss and all the chatter dies down when you walk by. Plus, just wait until you get to the emotional carnival that is giving performance feedback to your own friends. 

#4. You’ve Got to Behave Like a Leader!
 Legions of managers suffer from the misperception that to be a strong manager they must somehow assume a plethora of traits that don’t come close to seeming natural.  These include not showing emotion, making strong decisions without a hint of doubt, and having a hairline and chin that would make Mitt Romney jealous (actually, surgery could help you with that last one, but not the others).
#5. And Just in Case You Were Missing Your Old Job Duties Too Much...  
The kindness of those above you is so amazing. Not only will you have all these new managerial duties, but they’ve also decided to let you hang on to many of your old duties as well. And because you’re so brilliant, there’s no doubt that you can now do both in the same amount of time! Fantastic! Like two jobs in one! Not so fantastic, in reality because you have no time.
Have no fear – all of these five nightmares have an antidote in Managing for People Who Hate Managing. One size has never fit all in the management arena.  People come equipped with a pesky item called a personality – including you.  Finally you can learn a customized system that takes into account your natural style – and the styles of those around you. Your sanity will thank me.


Five Tips for Getting Involved in Corporate Responsibility

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Author and self-professed treehugger Tim Mohin has been promoting sustainable practices in large corporations for most of his career. He knows that many others are interested in doing the same sort of work but have no idea how to start. To help them, he has the following five lessons:

1.     Acquire the Essential Skills: Leaders in this field must influence other business managers to be successful. You must be the conscience for your company while, at the same time, be practical, patient and learn the practice of “corporate jujutsu.” Ju Jutsu is an apt metaphor for skills needed in this career path - it is the Japanese martial art defined as “gentle, supple, flexible, pliable, or yielding” () and “manipulating the opponent’s force against himself rather than confronting it with one’s own force (Jutsu).”

2.     Learn to Run a Disciplined Program: Corporate responsibility is so broad that it’s confusing to know where to start. Identifying the important issues, as opposed to the merely interesting, is the essential starting point for an effective program. Building management systems around these issues – with clear goals, defined owners, and key performance indicators – is the foundation of a successful corporate responsibility program, or any corporate program for that matter.

3.     Master a Wide Range of Programs: “Jack of all trades and master of none” accurately describes a career in this field. Corporate responsibility leaders need to understand issues ranging from environment, ethics, diversity, human rights, governance, compensation, supply chain and more.

4.     Know Your Stakeholders: In corporate responsibility, identifying “customers” - or “stakeholders” - can be tricky. Outside the company, socially responsible investors, non-profit groups and activists, the local community, customers, competitors and the media are key stakeholders. Equally important are the stakeholders inside the company who include the Board of Directors, the CEO and his/her executive team, the leaders of key business groups and the employee population as a whole.

5.     Align Your Profession to Your Passion: While getting a job in corporate responsibility can be tough, the good news is that you can work on responsibility issues from any job. Regardless of whether you work in the corporate responsibility department or work for good from another role, the secret to career satisfaction is to match your profession to your passion. When you work for your cause, it’s not really work. In the words of Gary Hirshberg, the former CEO of Stonyfield Farms: “If a company makes you check your values at the door, find somewhere else to work.”


Five People Who Reimagined Their Lives After 50

There's a myth that suggests that we need to make changes, try new things, and embark on new adventures in our younger years because it's just not possible to do it when you're older and still be successful.

Which is absolute nonsense.

Here are just five examples out of hundreds of thousands of people who reimagined their life and in doing so, created an entirely new one for themselves:

1. Harland Sanders didn't become "Colonel Sanders," the fried chicken king until he was 65. Harlan operated a successful motel on Highway 25 in Corbin, KY, but when Interstate 75 opened seven miles from Sanders’ restaurant, business went downhill. So, in 1952, he began to work on perfecting his spice blend and quick-cooking technique for making fried chicken in 1952 and then toured the country selling franchises. The rest is history.

2. Takichiro Mori was an economics professor until he left academia in 1959 (at age 55) to try his hand at real estate.  Mori reimagined his life and launched his second career by investing in the Minato ward where he spent his childhood, and within a matter of years he was presiding over Japan’s real estate boom. When Mori died in 1993, he was Forbes’ two-time reigning world’s richest man with a net worth of around $13 billion.

3. Tim and Nina Zagat.  The husband-and-wife team behind the popular dining surveys of the same name were corporate lawyers when they first started printing their restaurant guides. Eventually the guides became so popular that Tim left his job as corporate counsel for Gulf+Western to manage the business in 1986 -- when he was 51 years old. Nina eventually left the corporate law world to work on the dining surveys as well. 

4. Anna Marie Robertson Moses, one of the biggest names in American folk art, didn’t even pick up a brush until she was well into her eighth decade. "Grandma" Moses was originally a big fan of embroidery, but in the 1930s when her arthritis grew too painful for her to hold a needle, she decided to try painting. She was 76 when she cranked out her first canvas, and she lived another 25 years as a painter—long enough to see the canvases she had sold for $3 fetch prices north of $10,000. 

5. Ronald Reagan was probably the biggest reimaginer of all. He'd been acting all his life and wasn’t elected to his first public office until he was 55 years old. In 1966 Reagan won California’s gubernatorial race by over a million votes. Prior to his election, Reagan had done some politicking as the president of the Screen Actors Guild and as spokesman for General Electric, but nothing on his resume made him look like a sure-fire two-term president.