Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Small-Unit Leadership, 101

Another article from the Marines. I think I am starting to obsess. This one comes from the Help Desk Institute. This article compiles sage Marine Corp advice from First Sgt. Paul Berry. I'll highlight a couple of them here and apply them to the cubicle wars:

  • Its OK to allow Marines to take their blouse off if it is hot. Berry goes on to say "Don't worry SgtMajor, they won't do it in the rear." I hate dress codes. I hate having to talk to people about dress codes. I AM torn between dressing professionally and business casual. But, business casual it is. And you know what, I know I won't have to get in front of a client today, so I am wearing flip flops. Anarchy is not prevailing. Obviously, you don't want people running around topless in your particular cube farm. But if nothing crucial is happening and the troops want to wear shorts why is it such a big deal?
  • Promote your Marines on time if you can. I've worked for a number of places that consistently drag their feet on promotions. Part of the problem is that they did not have a structured plan for graduating people from level to level. Or even had levels. But most of the problem is that upper management just didn't graps how much a simple grade change could mean to someone.
  • Dig holes; dig many of them. Build your defenses. Protect yourselves. Grow slowly and consistently. Set your foundations.
  • No one has too much rank to dig. This is my favorite piece of advice. I worked for a small company (12 full time people). I had a guy working for me as a team leader. He was young and inexperienced. That should not matter. One day the toilet in the men's room was in need of plunging. He came into my office in a huff telling me the situation. Shocked that I had hired such a person I nevertheless pointed him to the maintenance closet containing the plunger. He refused. He was walked out the door. I plunged the toilet. No one has too much rank to plunge a toilet.

Remember: decentralizing your management structure is one of the key principles of the Marines. Managers must always remain responsible but smart managers delegate, pushing authority down to the lowest practical levels.

Berry also mentions that you should use your snipers. But I can't really find any practical application of that in the business world. Well...none that I can print.