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Whose job is it to tell you that you are wrong?

Posted by Meg Bear on July 8, 2011

I’m not sure if I’ve ever read this advice before, probably did, so please let me know if I need to add attribution.

You should put someone on your team who will watch for (and tell you) when you are wrong.


Make them a direct and make it clear it’s their job.  Teach them how to tell you in a way that you can hear (not in a McLaughlin way)

You need this badly.

As a senior leader, I am often wrong.

The key is to make sure my wrongness doesn’t do serious damage.  This is where having  a safety net, in the form of a person, is so helpful.

As a technical leader I tend to make this role an architect responsibility.  Someone who not only helps watch my back, but can also  answer all my confused questions to work out the right path with confidence.

I have been so lucky to have people willing to take on this role for me.  I would have made so many more mistakes without them.  As luck would have it, those who have played the role somehow work out that it is a good idea to tell me I’m right once in awhile, just to keep me happy.

I am blessed.

Who, do you have watching your back?   Have you given them the charter to tell you when you are wrong?  Hurry and add that to their job description, I promise you will be glad you did!

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments »

Confession of a cascading goal hater

Posted by Meg Bear on July 5, 2011

Ok, of course I’m not really a hater… more of a dis-liker…but there aren’t t-shirts for that.

The truth is I really don’t like cascading goals, which is very odd as, I love goal alignment.

I feel an explanation might be in order.

As you all know I’m all about ownership and personal accountability in the professional world.  We own our careers and we should also own the goals we set for ourselves and our teams.

Too often I see people wringing their hands about how hard it is to align to the goals that are cascaded to them.  They are not sure how their group can impact “shareholder value” and they are pretty sure that a goal about shareholder value might not be anywhere near as important as a goal to get their job done well.

Cognitive dissonance ensues and instead of line of sight, organizations find themselves with lines of confusion.

This is where I think the answer lies not in waiting but in doing.  I do not think it is the job of your boss to work this out for you, especially if you are in any kind of leadership position.  I think it is your job to bridge the divide.   Here is how I think you should address goal setting for yourself and your team.

First, get a plan..

Figure out what is important for you and your team.  Work out what you think the most important things are and jot down the ideas as notes.   Organize them and prioritize them.

Then, look for the alignment opportunities..

Look at how what you want to do might impact your boss.  See if you can identify anything you should be doing that would better support your bosses career.  Take a moment to determine what you think her objectives might be and see how what you want your team to do might support those goals.

Now, here comes the powerful part… have a conversation.

Sit down with your boss with your notes and ideas.  Discuss how you think the goals you want to work on align with what she needs to achieve.   Take a moment to be sure you know her aspirations and her objectives.

The alignment comes, not from the system but from the shared purpose.  Get aligned on purpose and the goal setting gets so much easier.

Quit using goal cascading as a reason to get stuck… use it as a way to stand out.  Jump in with both feet and own the process.

It will be harder.

It will take longer, and you will actually achieve something as a result.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Time for a new approach?

Posted by Meg Bear on May 4, 2011

Ever notice how sometimes things aren’t working out as expected?   For example, maybe you find yourself doing the same repetitive task over and over again or you realize that your just not finding time to do something that is quite critical (both examples completely random, and not at all autobiographical! 😉 ).

It’s at this time you should be taking a step back, to breathe and think.

Maybe it’s time for a new approach?

As Seth said

Our normal approach is useless here

Perhaps this can be our new rallying cry.

If it’s a new problem, perhaps it demands a new approach. If it’s an old problem, it certainly does.

When you find yourself too busy to work out a better way to do something, you should see that as a warning sign that you need a new plan.

I have first hand experience to know, that the sooner you recognize the signs about when to apply more muscle to a problem and when to work out a whole new approach — the better you will scale, in your job and in your life.

Not all problems need a new approach — but the important ones often do.

Keep looking for ways to make it better — that is the secret.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Embrace the feedback

Posted by Meg Bear on April 25, 2011

I’m always fascinated with the way that HR labels things.    Whether it is a chart, a report, a box on the “9box” or a rating model, it doesn’t take long to notice a trend.

There are very few “bad” labels in an HR report.  This is a group that really cares about your self esteem.

They don’t want to label you as an underachiever or bad at your job,– nope — you are misaligned talent.

I’m all about job fit, but part of job fit is getting real with yourself about where you are good and where you are not.

What about those parts of the job that are less about skill and more about hard work?

Where is the affordance for feedback about the fact that you might be skilled, but you might also be lazy or having an attitude problem that is bringing down the whole group?

In the end, I think the hesitation to say anything specific and constructive impacts the reputation of the whole function.  I would like to encourage HR leaders to jump into the feedback topic with a more honest approach.  Spare me the euphemisms and help my leaders have those tough conversations.

Give them words.

I’m fine that you make sure that they are not hurtful, but don’t wash out the meaning in that process.  Feedback is tough and it is tricky but to get results, it must be understood.

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

Bring your whole self to work

Posted by Meg Bear on April 25, 2011


I’m about to jump into the whole social, privacy, generational divide topic with both feet (occasionally they come out of my mouth, but I digress).

I’m happily noticing that I am not alone in my belief that to be a fantastic employee you have to be a whole person.

I see this idea of “whole self” as the cultural shift that companies need to be addressing.  I think this is the real issue behind many of the “work/life balance” discussions.

Encouraging employees to be full and complete people — with a wealth of experiences, ideas, commitments, values and thoughts to offer your company, is a linchpin for most engagement strategies.

So why don’t more companies focus on making this part of their culture?

Treating employees as people vs. resources is administratively complex.  It requires a re-think of job codes, working hours and work environments.  It changes the very nature of the worker-employer contract.  It is individual vs. general.  It is rooted in personal accountability and responsibility.  It is not easily managed by rules and policy.  It is often tough to measure.  I can feel the discomfort of the readers in the HR function already ;-).

So why do it?

It creates  employees that give more than just the bare minimum required to earn their pay.

For many of us, being treated like an adult, unlocks passion and removes stress.  The effort that was spent on keeping up two different selves, can be channeled to productivity (both personally and professionally).

I feel inspired and blessed to work for a company like Oracle that really “gets it”.    They understand that I’m as equally likely to be moving forward a product escalation at midnight, as I am to be attending the Site Council at my kids school at 3:30 in the afternoon on a weekday.    Being able to both, is what keeps my head in the game and helps remove a lot of the strain that comes from being a working mom.

This is a big shift to the HR and managerial functions, but the opportunity cost and opportunity rewards are equally big.  The proliferation of technology/connectivity and the increase of globalization, are accelerating this trend.

The ideas of privacy and work vs. life are changing, how do you plan to make this work for you and for your company?

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments »

Guest blogging

Posted by Meg Bear on March 28, 2011

In the past year I’ve been encouraged to start guest blogging.  I’m told it is great for your brand and your visibility.  I’ve also been told it’s good for your complexion, but maybe I just made that part up.

oh the pressure.

As I’m sure you might have guessed, it’s hard to follow up with the idea of guest blogging when you have a very hectic schedule and just blogging seems a huge time commitment.

but then, along comes a close friend that knows how to get you to act.  The key to get me to do something is to keep asking.  I think this is because I admire persistence vs. that I’m just susceptible to peer pressure, but I could be wrong.

So I’m now guest blogging over at Tahlent.

Of course, I started before I read these great tips Sharlyn shared with her network.  My lack of research on the topic might have been a good thing, since top of the list was make sure your content is good.  At least I am sure I nailed the final suggestion.. keep it short.

Check it out and let me know how much you love it ;-).

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

No soup for you

Posted by Meg Bear on March 24, 2011

About once a quarter my husband makes the suggestion I should go into sales.

This is mostly based on his interest that I make more money, but it’s also tied to the fact that translating technology offerings into business value is something I do instinctively, and so it’s not a bad idea to want to monetize that better.

The problem with putting me in  a sales role, is that I am a bit of a Talent Soup Nazi.

I have a strong need to see customers provide tools to make the lives of employees and managers better.  Too often, I find customers planning to implement a painful or cumbersome process, without understanding what managers need.

Having dedicated myself to building great tools , I can’t help but have a “No soup for you” reaction, when people want to use my tools and don’t plan to actually make things better.

Managers need their talent tools that:

  • better align the talents of their teams to the needs of the business.
  • provide frameworks for critical conversations that bring out the best of their staff.
  • show them how to get their team in the right roles based upon their strengths and passions.

I’ve said it before — software is only a tool — you must first have a strategy or you will not accomplish great things.

Get a great plan, get a great tool..

don’t make me take back your soup!

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

Where you been?

Posted by Meg Bear on March 17, 2011

No I have not left the building… oh wait I have.

I have been a bit hard to reach these days.  There are a lot of reasons, but none are a reflection of my reduced interest in blogging.

Here’s what I’ve been up to

  • Day job is heating up.  Turns out you can’t just write code all the time (as if I do that myself), at some point you have to deliver it to customers.  That tends to be when things get complex for development.  Consider my day job complex right now.
  • Moving back into my house.  As most of you know, we’ve been remodeling our house for the past year-ish.  We had to move out as the project was huge (2nd story, new basement, garage, etc.).  While we are not done, we are now moved back in.  I’m happy to report I have found my toothbrush and my checkbook.

  • Lost my iphone – nothing good to report here — sucked all around.  I understand that buying a new iphone is not that hard… unless you have complex internal processes that make it so.  Over two weeks later I’m receiving text messages again and somehow things feel more in control.

  • TED – Took a week out to go to TEDActive.  Lots of blog posts to write from that, but again I return a firm member of the cult-of-TED.

And so I am back.  I have less time than I had before (if that could be possible) but I expect I’ll soon be writing down the blogs that have been swirling in my head.

Thanks for waiting, and thanks to Ken, for keeping the dream alive on TalentedApps, while I’ve been absent.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Ready now! Does Succession Planning backfire?

Posted by Meg Bear on February 2, 2011

I get variations of this question a lot — if you focus on leadership and career development for your team, doesn’t this backfire for you as a leader?

Wont that just cause people to leave for better opportunities?

well yes – indeed it might.

When you have the opportunity to work with excellent people they do great things, and they get great opportunities.

Sometimes these opportunities are about starting new ventures, or joining new groups.

Sometimes they are about a chance to give back to the community, and sometimes they are opportunities to advance their career.

I would be misleading you if I were to say this is easy — it’s not — it’s very hard.  But, in life, the hard right things are often the ones that pay off in the end.

You see, for each person in your team that leaves for a great opportunity, there is an even larger group watching.    They are watching to see how those opportunities might apply to them.

We all know that developing great teams is not a once in a career opportunity.  It is an opportunity available to each of us every day.

There is greatness all around us — waiting to be discovered and waiting to be given the opportunity to flourish.  So while change is hard for everyone and opportunity can be bittersweet, rest assured that succession planning only backfires if you define your career in the very short term.

When you set the leadership development process in motion, you create the opportunity for talent to impact you in bigger ways .

So keep building your leadership pipeline and a rich professional network, and open yourself up to making  talent mobility part of your brand. 

It’s worth it, I promise.

Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments »

Your job is to make your boss look good

Posted by Meg Bear on January 29, 2011

I’ve always believed that my job was to make my boss look good (but not to make his/her life easy 😉 ).

h/t to Patty for making it top of mind this week.

My team must believe this as well, as they are always all over this.  In my job there are an enormous amount of metrics to hit.  You can imagine, doing a large and ambitious project makes scorecards important.

Being a data company of tech geeks, makes metrics a bit promiscuous.

My team is so outstanding that I must confess, I rarely check my metrics.  I know they are great because my team is great and they will tell me if there is an issue I should know about.

Making my boss look good is a bit more complex than meeting metrics.  For him, that’s table stakes.  What makes my boss look good is delivering a set of products that make people take notice.  Products that deliver measurable business value. Products that inspire, amaze and highlight the unique value of his organization.

and so, this is what my peers and I do — we focus on getting it right and making it happen.

Some days this lofty goal seems completely out of reach — some days we surprise ourselves with our own success.

and then there are days when you achieve a grand slam —  an opportunity to make not just your boss but his boss and his boss look good.  Those days are great days. Those are the days you are reminded that it was worth the fight.

Those are the days that will pay off in much bigger ways than looking good yourself.

I wish you all the joy that comes from making someone important to you look good.

It rocks!

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