Managing the Water Cooler

The HR news we’re ordering ourselves to share for the week ending January 11, 2013:

Being a leader when everything’s gravy is one thing, but it’s quite another when crisis strikes. Which begs the question—if you can’t lead when times become tough, are you really a good leader? If your answer is “I don’t know,” never fear. This week, the Wall Street Journal offers up seven tips for how to be a leader during a crisis from Bill George, author of “True North” and former CEO of Medtronic. Among his recommendations is to face the music. Leaders can’t solve problems if they don’t acknowledge their existence. If there are sacrifices to be made, leaders should step up and make the greatest sacrifices themselves. Finally, leaders must have the help of all their people to devise solutions and to implement them.

HR news water cooler

The HR news water cooler manager wants you!

There’s no question that leading in a crisis can be a challenge, but being a good manager even in simpler times has its hurdles. One such challenge was addressed in a Forbes article this week called “8 Tips For Leading Those Who Don’t Want to Follow.” Poor leaders find themselves mired down in organizations and suffering from corporate politics, whereas effective leaders avoid these problems by aligning opposing views and diverse interests. The key is to view unique perspectives, philosophical differences, and dissenting opinions as opportunities rather than set-backs.

Forbes also has some advice for those trying to make good impressions with the boss (and not just your mother or your spouse). By doing a little digging to get some background information, employees will be better able to determine their boss’ values, management style, background and interests, making them more likely to succeed. Some questions you should think about asking: What did your boss do before she was your boss? This will help employees discern how capable she is of handling all the responsibilities on her plate. How did your boss come to her current job? Was it was a promotion on merit, or stepping in by default after someone got fired? Even if you don’t ask your boss directly, it can be helpful to learn what other people know and think about her.

Upset about your boss’s pay? You’re not alone. CEO pay is something that frequently gets people hot and bothered. A blogger on TLNT considers why highly paid CEOs are met with resentment while the immense paydays received by other groups of people, like big-league professional athletes, for example, are met with relative indifference. Indeed, the disparity between the truly successful members of the entertainment industry—the Tom Cruises and Lady Gagas of the world—and the unknown, struggling actors and musicians barely making ends meet, is typically more drastic than the difference in pay between a CEO and his or her staff. Perhaps, the author suggests, most people have a clear sense of the limits of their own athletic or artistic abilities, whereas the “gifts and talents” necessary to be a top executive are less easy to discern and appreciate.

Want to impress your boss with the latest HR news? Register for free email updates or take a look at last week’s Water Cooler post.  


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