Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple just took a 15% pay cut. Now, before you start thinking, “Aw, poor, poor Tim. His salary went down 15% to only $8.7 million. But at least he still has his stock options worth a few hundred million.” Hold on; don’t be happy about Tim’s haircut. There is a lesson here and all should take heed.
Tim took the hit because the company failed to meet its goals for both sales and profits. In a filing Apple said its annual sales were down nearly 4 percent and its operating income was down 0.5 percent from its target.
See the numbers? See the targets and goals? See the performance? See the pay? The lesson is that they are all connected or should be.
It’s still early in the year and by now your goals and objectives for the year should be set. With luck and a good boss, you should have had lots to say about what the goals should be for the year. Even if the goals are a stretch, you should feel some level of confidence that you can achieve the goals and glean the rewards of your performance. If you already think the goals are a wild ass number pulled out of the air and are unrealistic or unachievable, best raise your hand and say so. If your goals are set and are reasonable, figure out how to meet them fast. Get ahead. Annual goals are often met (or not) based on first quarter performance. It’s no fun to play catch up all year.
If you have no goals or objectives for the year I can promise you one thing: YOU WON’T MEET THEM. If you want to connect goals, performance, and pay, you need to have goals. If you don’t have goals for the year yet, drop everything and make a time with the boss to set up a set of goals. The goals need to be written down and shared. Boil them down to magic numbers that you can remember and track against. Use a thermometer type graphic or something simple.
Do it now and you will thank yourself come next December. You can be sure Tim Cook is thinking about hitting targets at Apple.
We had Management by Objectives (MBO); Management by Walking Around (MBWA); Total Quality Management (TQM); Management by Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) and lots of other trends and tricks. Now we have Management by Tweeting (MBT). But wait, is it a management tool?
Let me proclaim here first that I love Twitter. I understand how powerful it can be. Twitter can foment revolution, it can create a movement. Tweets are part of the core of pop culture. Celebrities let us know what’s for lunch. People we don’t know provide inspirational sayings, advertisements, personal updates and snarky comments. It is the source of news for us and we are addicted. But is it a management tool? Is it something for leaders to use to help drive a strategy and be successful? We are finding out.
Any management textbook will tell you that the role of a manager is to Plan, Lead, Organize and Control. Inherent in all of these skills is the ability to communicate. We can hold Twitter up to each skill and it’s hard to make a case that it helps the cause.
I use Twitter. I see why others use Twitter. And, based on my own books and writing, I am known for brevity and the creative use of “bullets” in presentations. So I understand and believe in really short and directive messages. I am a believer that mission statements should be short and strategies should fit on the back of an envelope.
So what is wrong with Twitter as a management tool? Let me count the ways…
- A tweet is too short to deliver a big message or provide real feedback. “I have a dream…” doesn’t fit in a tweet. And whether the feedback is positive or negative, 140 characters can only say “great job” or “you screwed up”. After that, there is not much room for further explanation about how to improve or why you screwed up. Sample tweet: “Kate, the project is behind schedule and over budget! Very bad!”
- A tweet is one-way unless you engage in a tweet exchange. The back and forth might be amusing but can sometimes make matters worse. Tweets can be cruel if an individual is singled out.
- Tweets can’t be taken back and there will probably be times you wish you hadn’t sent it. Drunk tweets are known to cause people to get fired. Tweets sent in the heat of a moment can do more damage than good.
- Not everyone is on Twitter. Some downright reject it and consider it another annoyance of the digital age. So using Twitter as a management tool means not everyone is being managed.
Using Twitter can be an effective communications method, but for an organization, it doesn’t stand alone. A tweet is OK for: “The IPO is done! Great job everyone”, but that’s where it’s effectiveness diminishes rapidly. Communications requires color and personality that is more multi-dimensional than a tweet can deliver. Real communications requires a voice that sets the tone of an organization. Real communications from a leader requires inspiration and cheerleading. There are situations that might require pointed ways that things need to change and Twitter is good at that. Or, there could be an emergency so please spread the word. Twitter is especially good in that case.
Maybe tweets can augment all the important things that a managerial role requires, but any number of tweets does not a leader make.
The three standard resolutions still apply:
- Lose weight and drink less alcohol. While I am at it, I will get in better shape.
- Read more and renew that zeal for learning.
- Take a serious look at my financial situation and fix it.
But there are three problems with these three resolutions:
- The resolutions are easily discarded. By January 3rd you are putting the resolutions off until next year.
- Work is the place where you spend most of your time and most work activities hurt keeping the three resolutions. (Consider bagels and red licorice in the kitchen; sitting all day and then being too tired to exercise; and, the not opening the shrink wrap on the financial planning software tool.)
- The three resolutions are not related to making work more enjoyable, where you will spend most of your waking hours in the New Year.
Yet, in spite of evidence to the contrary, there are three reasons why one should make resolutions.
- It is the time of year to set goals and objectives. To not do it would be an admission that this year will be just like last year. Ho-Hum.
- What is measured is improved. Even in small doses.
- Many say that success is all about focus. Resolutions create focus.
But resolutions don’t mean anything if they are not implemented. The three keys that will ensure your resolutions might work are:
- Write the resolutions down and put the written resolutions somewhere that will serve as a constant reminder.
- Make the resolutions achievable. Setting goals that you know you can’t achieve is a recipe for failure.
- Set interim goals by the week or by the month. Some things don’t change every hour.
Strategists believe that we can only remember three goals before they get watered down and impossible to implement. With that in mind, here are my three suggestions for resolutions for the New Year:
- Get Up Early. By getting up early you might actually have time for a jog around the block or a healthy breakfast instead of the jelly doughnut. The unintended consequence could be losing weight or being healthier. Or, by getting up early you may just be better prepared for the workday.
- Finish One Thing. At work, no greater joy exists than completing something, anything. Completion doesn’t need to mean the strategic plan or the computer conversion. It could mean finishing the email to the team or sending that long overdue note of thanks to a customer. The key to turning a day that seems like a nebulous defeat into an ambiguous victory is the sense of accomplishment in finishing something.
- Let No Small Things Ruin a Day. It happens every day. It could be a complaint, a spilled coffee, a colleague who shows up late or any number of things that set you off. Stop. Don’t let the small things that run off the rails set the tone for the day. Take a deep breath and look for the dozens of good things that can make for a great day. You deserve it.
And finally in the New Year, consider making lists no longer than three things. In so doing, you will have a year of joy in triplicate at work.