Most managers are rationale, logical, practical problem solvers when they first get promoted. Then, through organizational conditioning, they learn to play silly games. They are like the frog in a pan of boiling water. The change is so gradual, these silly games eventually begin to feel like “real world management.”

How many of these silly management games do you play? More importantly, do you have the courage to speak up and stop the insanity?

We’ll start with some silly budgeting games:

1. “Use it or lose it budgeting.” This is when you are getting close to the end of the year and your budget is running under your forecast. In previous years, when you underspent, your next year’s budget was set based on that year’s actual. So, in order not to have your budget cut again, you go on a shopping spree — buying stuff you really don’t need or stocking up just in case you might need it. (read more…)

After spending umpteen hours and dollars on attractive booths and flashy giveaways, many IT vendors are abandoning trade shows or questioning their value. While these events can do wonders for brand awareness and lead generation, they also can consume large amounts of time and money with little return.

The problem isn’t the events themselves; it’s how some exhibitors approach them.

The “Field of Dreams” approach — “If you build it, they will come” — doesn’t cut it for trade shows. Merely having a display and handouts will bring people, but not necessarily your best prospects, or even attendees with any interest in your products or services. They may only want to pick up your swag and enter a drawing.

A strategic approach with steps before, during and after the event can help you get the most out of your investment. You’ll land more face-to-face meetings with targeted prospects and shorten sales cycles. (read more…)

As the saying goes, “Timing is everything.” Someone at Microsoft should tell the big boss. It seems to me that Satya Nadella, the new CEO at Microsoft as of February, has been let down by his PR people in the communications of the last two weeks. The order of announcements could not have been worse.

In an e-mail to employees (July 10) about an evolving culture at Microsoft, Nadella talked of “Bold Ambition and Our Core“ and outlined what the company has to do to get its mojo back. One week later (July 17), he announced a layoff of 18,000 employees. Talk about a letdown. My take on the two messages: “I have some good news and some bad news. I’ll give the good news first: Microsoft is going to be a lean, mean fighting machine. The bad news: Many of you will not be a part of it.”

There are at least two problems with these announcements, but let me first say I have no problem with the decision to eliminate jobs. (read more…)

A decade ago, the skill set of the HR leader was defined by the classic 80/20 rule: 80% HR administration, 20% business. Today, this rule has been overturned. A company’s HR executive is a critical component of the leadership team. CEOs are increasingly pulling HR professionals to the leadership table, asking them to play a more strategic role and requiring that they have a firm understanding of the business and its long-term goals.

This trend speaks to the changing nature of the HR leadership function across industries. Businesses are becoming more attuned to the importance of internal culture to recruit and retain talent, and, consequently, HR leaders must serve as the CEO’s business partner and align their talent-development strategy with overall business imperatives. As HR professionals participate in organization-wide decisions, they’re required to more fully understand the business and think beyond the bounds of what would traditionally be considered “HR territory.”

If CEOs want to see their businesses thrive, they need to ensure that they have the right partner in the HR leadership role. (read more…)

A nervous group walks into the conference group. They are still trying to shake off the holiday haze, but are totally alert and loaded for bear. It’s our vice president of sales’ first all-hands call of the year and the team has honed in on one agenda item: This year’s quota.

Loni comes on and confidently runs through our end of year results. Then she sheepishly tackles the quota. “We expect that quotas will be handed out at the sales leadership meeting in a few weeks. We hope to see…”

Rizzo thrusts out his arm and stamps down the mute button of the Polycom star phone that sits in the middle of the long oak table. “This is looking at lot like last year, boss.” He stares at me. The rest quickly follow suit.“I suppose we won’t get our objectives until July again,” he finishes.

Loni keeps on talking, but nobody is listening. (read more…)