Tag Archives: management

Look Down! You are Standing on Someone’s Shoulders


I’m in heavy training mode these last two weeks thanks to my full time faculty position with University of Phoenix. I get the pleasure of working with first year students to support their career and academic success. What I am learning is too large to put into a list…but I have dozens of PowerPoints and Word documents at my disposal!

What is clear, from all of these resources and the excellent Wiki page the faculty and staff have put together, is a structure that has been built over decades – and I get to stand on it and say – LOOK WHAT I CAN DO!  Hopefully I will do more than that. My hope is that I will be able to add a wall, or a floor, or even a curtain to a window of this amazing and ever changing structure.

What I see all to often in my professional career are folks who just never look down. Perhaps it is fear, perhaps it is hubris, perhaps just bad training or not enough hugs as a kid, these people forget their history and think they need to destroy or radically alter the city-scape they inherit in order to “leave their mark”.

In short, those people are wrong. We all know these people. We also know that they typically do not last. Their lack of vision and limited growth potential make them poorly equipped to do much useful for an organization. The employees we need to hire, train, value and care about are the ones that know they stand in greatness only because of the greatness of those who came before them. And they understand the obligation to continue that good work.

It is better to be part of something larger that will last for decades. Anyone can bring down those around them to stand tall for a minute, but the quicksand they spread all too far and wide will eventually bring them down as well. In parables from business, religion, history, or politics, our systems work best when built by caring hands who intend to grow what is in front of them and conserve it for the ones who will do the work when they are gone.

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Say Thank You

I work in a bureaucracy. That’s a loaded word – myriad pictures cross your mind when you read that word, many < positive. I’m not here to argue the merits. I’m here to share good news – if you work in a big machine like this, the way you get things done is with teamwork – an overused word, true. So is “thank you” but you can’t reach your goals without liberal use of the phrase.

Over the summer I did one of those typical introspections we all subject ourselves to. The take-away – my department had vastly increased our services. What supported that achievement more than anything else? Other people’s efforts. Their support – by giving advice, referrals and stepping in to help where needed – made the difference. So, taking a page from Strengthsfinder®, I looked to our strengths to reach the next level.

At the end of our weekly “Move It Monday” meetings, I ask the team to give me some names. Some weeks, lots of names; other weeks, we might struggle for one. But every week, I write a thank you note to those people. Short and to the point, it thanks them for a specific thing they did. I know I like being thanked; I really liked being thanked for something specific. And that’s what I base my actions on – how would I like to be treated? What do I wish someone would say to me? Then I act and talk accordingly.

It does not matter where you work…if there is more than one employee, odds are you need others to help you succeed. Say Thank You, before and after you reach your goals.

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