Blog Objective

This is a blog that attempts to make life easier by noting down the author's accrued knowledge and experiences.
The author has dealt with several IT projects (in Java EE and .NET) and is a specialist in system development.

29 March 2011

HTTP Testing

I've been using Fiddler (http://www.fiddler2.com/) for sometime now. It attaches to the web browser and intercepts browser requests and reponses. Fiddler is very useful for inspecting and debugging HTTP roundtrips. Recently, I found something to supplement Fiddler. Stresstimlus ((http://stresstimulus.stimulustechnology.com/) is useful for HTTP load testing together with Fiddler.

03 March 2011

Management Pointers

 

Skills & Qualities of a Good Manager

  • A role model
  • A manager of oneself & awareness of oneself
  • A learner
  • A change agent
  • A visionary
  • Is aware of current situation/ reality
  • Is ethical & holds values
  • A systemic thinker
  • A good communicator
  • A positive thinker
  • Is enthusiastic
  • Is real

 

Purpose of a Manager

  1. Coach the team to bring them to becoming self-sufficient by supporting & guiding them
  2. Instil pride & passion in their work
  3. Eliminate impediments
  4. Facilitate work progress
  5. Negotiate resources
  6. Enable meeting goals

 

Change

A manager views change as a positive force & makes it work to one’s advantage.

 

Communication

Instead of asking why something happened, ask what happened (to produce the results)

 

Attributes of a Learner

  • Enthusiastic
  • Interested
  • Exploring
  • Experimenting
  • Having fun
  • Wanting to learn more

 

True Attention

  • Listen to words
  • Listen to meaning behind words, hesitations, emphases
  • Watch body language
  • Use intuition to read between the lines
  • Empathises with the heart

 

When asking for Information

Be clear & communicate clearly

  1. the exact information required
  2. what the information is for

 

Questions to Enter Worlds

  • What do you enjoy about ___?
  • What matters to you about ___?
  • How do you approach ___?
  • What makes you feel good?
  • How do you motivate yourself to ___?
  • What made you choose ___?
  • How do you feel about ___?
  • What is important to you in ___?

 

Motivational Factors

  • Respect
  • Recognition
  • Responsibility
  • Recreation

 

Manager as a Lever

Covey: Management is a lever that moves tasks. Delegating moves the fulcrum nearer to the subordinate & away from the manager. This creates extra lift & more tasks are achieved as a result.

 

image

 

Styles of Coaching

Explaining why

more than

Telling what

Listening

more than

Talking

Watching

more than

Doing

Questioning

more than

Answering

Guiding

more than

Controlling

Prompting

more than

Solving

Praising

more than

Criticising

Suggesting

more than

Telling

 

Requirements of Good Delegation

  • Decide what can & cannot be delegated
  • Decide who to delegate to (best for development and efficiency)
  • Agree the task to sufficient detail and to what standard
  • Agree the deadline to remove all misunderstanding
  • Use the definition of task, standard & deadline to measure success
  • Let go of entire task; not just bits of it
  • Agree the limits of further approval
  • Agree the resources of people, money, equipment & time
  • Agree that what other tasks continue in the meanwhile; to be put aside; to be delegated elsewhere
  • Agree the level of authority you are delegating
  • Agree the coaching or training needed & how it will be accomplished
  • Agree the monitoring & feedback required, and when and how it will take place
  • Agree who else needs to be told , who will do the telling and when
  • Agree that the individual carry the responsibility & are accountable to you for their actions
  • Agree that you are responsible to your own boss but ultimately, you carry the can; they get most of the praise
  • Agree that you will support their decisions provided they keep within agreement
  • Show your trust & confidence provided they operate within specific boundaries

 

Signs & Symptoms of Under-Delegation

  • Delegating only menial or trivial tasks
  • Watching every move your subordinate makes
  • Hanging on to the enjoyable tasks, or those you are good at, or those that get noticed by others
  • Not developing your staff
  • Not trusting staff or giving them room to contribute
  • Missing deadlines
  • Uneven workload among staff
  • Being overloaded yourself
  • Enduring more stress than necessary
  • Limiting own development
  • Limiting own promotion prospects by denying more delegation from above
  • Frustrating staff & risking losing them

 

Signs & Symptoms of Dumping Tasks

  • Not agreeing clear goals, targets, feedback & deadlines
  • Abdicating your own responsibility
  • Surrendering your own controlling influence
  • Inadequate or non-existent monitoring
  • Ignoring current workloads & deadlines
  • Not listening to staff
  • Not thinking through to the consequences
  • Courting disaster & getting nasty surprises
  • Frustrating staff & risking losing them
  • Overly authoritative leadership
  • Managing believing things to be fine but they are not
  • Staff moan about being treated like mushrooms (neglected, kept in the dark, heaps of manure thrown onto them – poor communication)

 

Levels of Delegation

3 main considerations

You

Your comfort level

Them

The individual

It

The task

 

Level

Description

Information

Suggestion

Recommendation

Act after Approval

Act w/o Approval

1

Look into it; gather information

 

 

 

 

2

And suggest course of action with pros & cons

 

 

 

3

And make recommendations

 

 

4

And start after my approval; proceed to the next point & seek further approval

 

5

Here is the problem; start when ready & update me when done (need help?)

 

 

Level

Description

1

Approval first; one step at a time; approval needed for each step

2

Act & report; take action but report back constantly (daily, weekly, etc.)

3

Full authority; act on my behalf; tell me when it is done

 

What to Delegate

Delegate tasks that:

  • Are routine & regular
  • Are complete in themselves
  • Are time-consuming but necessary
  • Recurs frequently
  • Subordinates can do better and/ or more economically than you
  • Are favourite (that you tend to keep for yourself)
  • Are pet hates that subordinates may enjoy
  • Start as large projects/ tasks that can be broken down into separate activities (in the face of tight deadlines)
  • Will add variety to someone else’s role
  • Are moving from planning & decision-making to implementation

What not to Delegate

Do not delegate tasks:

  • Company briefings
  • Genuine crises requiring one’s authority
  • Tasks with ill-defined requirements that waste a lot of time
  • Unpleasant tasks (e.g. disciplinary actions)
  • Tasks beyond subordinates’ ability to perform, even after coaching
  • Performance appraisal
  • Confidential/ sensitive matters
  • Praises for a job well done
  • Strategic and policy matters
  • Tasks that subordinate may not do confidently in available time

 

image
 

Process: Before Delegation

Ask the following questions:

  1. What needs to be done?
  2. Why is it needed and why am I delegating?
  3. Who will do it and who has what responsibilities?
  4. When has it to be completed by?
  5. Where will the delegate obtain the necessary resources?
  6. How will the task be monitored?

Define the task in terms of the outcome and the timeline. Be clear on the:

  1. Result – precise results for an agreeable judgment at the end (objective/ outcome)
  2. Deadline – agree a specific date
  3. Resources – as needed by the task
  4. Reason – why the task needs to be done and why the incumbent was chosen

Throughout the task, checkpoints at specific stages are required. Use checkpoints:

  1. Before committing significant expenditure/ resources
  2. Before involving other (outside) people
  3. At regular stages so that mistakes can be rectified early
  4. Before any major change/ decision has to be made

 

Process: During the Delegation

  1. Stand back – don’t dictate how the task should be done
  2. Help avoid re-inventing the wheel – guide and advise
  3. Monitor & review – conduct periodic checks on 2 things: results and standard of the result (effectiveness); and methods (efficiency)
  4. Authorise further progress
  5. Question & coach
  6. Intervene by questions – if a problem is spotted by the delegate is still oblivious to it after some time. Intervene by questions in rising urgency as:
    1. Can we talk about the situation in ___?
    2. What is happening in ___? What will happen if this continues?
    3. Do you think we might have a problem developing in ___?
    4. I think we have a problem developing in ___?
    5. We definitely have a problem in ___?
    6. Stop!

 

Process: After the Delegation

  • Assessment – perform a formal assessment of the result by looking at the effectiveness & efficiency
  • Evaluation – ask what difference it has made to the goals & objectives of the team, department, or the organisation
  • Reward – monetary, appreciation & gratitude, meals-out, praise, token, time-off, etc.
  • Rebuke in private (if required) – criticise the action; not the person. Use facts rather than opinions. Always try to “catch them doing something right” instead of “doing something wrong”
  • Perform a SWOT analysis on the delegation to see what can be improve the next time

 

Kolb Learning Cycle

2 types of learning from experience

  1. Learning so as to cope
  2. Learning so as to improve

The second is invaluable and is useful in continuous improvement. This is described as:

image

 

Learning Styles According to Honey & Mumford

Different people embrace different amounts of each style:

  • Activists – involves in the here and now. Rather than stand back & observe, they dive in and play. May ignore rules and tend to act first and think later. Prefers the limelight
  • Reflectors – prefers to stand back and mull over things. Avoid limelight, are cautious, preferring to listen and learn before contributing. Are meticulous, avoid taking lead and rarely jump to conclusion
  • Theorists – enjoys logical theories. Will produce elegant models, testing assumptions and logic. Dislikes subjectivity or lack of structure but enjoys policies, procedures, and intellectual rigours
  • Pragmatists – wants to learn from the experts, prove it in practice and are down-to-earth. Avoids things with no immediate application or outcome

For example, to teach to use a new piece of machinery, different learning style requires different treatment.

Theorists

Give them the manual

Reflectors

Discuss the manual with them carefully

Pragmatists

Demonstrate how to use it

Theorists/ Reflectors

Ask them questions about it

Activists/ Pragmatists

Let them “play” with it

 

Douglas McGregor’s Theories X and Y

Theory X people:

  • Are lazy, dislike work, will avoid it if possible
  • Have to be coerced, directed, threatened and given incentives
  • Avoid responsibility, have little ambition and desire stability
  • Are indifferent to organisational needs

Theory Y people:

  • Find work natural, are self-motivated and self-controlled
  • Given satisfactory conditions, find satisfaction in work and enjoy achieving results
  • Learn to accept, and even seek, responsibility
  • Can contribute a lot more and have talents that are under-utilised

 

The SMART Way of Writing Objectives

Specific

Specify the task & standard

Measurable

Result should be measurable

Agreed

Not imposed

Realistic

Can be done within available time & resources

Timed

Deadlines for reviews, feedback, and completion specified

 

Twelve Rules of Thumb

  1. Spot opportunities – to coach and delegate
  2. Total understanding of expectations – delegated outcome, imposed limits, delegated authority
  3. Complete tasks – not bits of it
  4. Involve and inform – seeing I-to-I at the distant goal
  5. Let them do it – resist interfering
  6. Use for motivation – delegate task to one who complains most about the problem
  7. Tolerate mistakes, but prevent disasters – “anyone who made no mistakes never did anything
  8. Praise in public; reprimand in private
  9. Display recognition by saying “thank you”
  10. Respect them as people – people have unexpected talents
  11. Complete the Kolb cycle – learn and plan to improve
  12. Learn theory Y – share work and authority with subordinate

Review: PowerSpeak

A mindmap review of this book.
Flash version can be found here