Tag Archives: People Management

Management Tips From Red Hat’s Crazy Culture Every Company Should Steal

See on Scoop.itGlobal Leaders

Red Hat is a meritocracy and the CEO says all companies should follow its lead.

Top 11 best management and leadership practices from Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst:

1- Replace the word “boss” with the word “cheerleader.” The more senior people don’t necessarily have the best ideas,”

2-Include anyone in the decision process, not everyone. In a meritocracy, the people choose their areas of interests and participate.

3-It’s not democracy. It’s transparency. Employees don’t get to vote decisions but managers have to explain and articulate the reasons for the decisions they are responsible for.

4-Collaboration tools can be a stupid idea Collaboration is a culture, not a set of tools

5-People will call you an idiot. Let them. The real problem is getting people who are genuinely nice to say something that might be harsh

6-Passionate employees will clobber each other. Let them

7-Guide employees to self police. As people grow comfortable expressing opinions, the obnoxious opinions will naturally be shouted down.

8-The boss isn’t your mommy.

9-Employees who deserve free time get it, 100% of the time. At Red Hat, engineers who earn the respect of their peers get to spend “100% of the time to do what they want and everyone else gets zero.

10-Decisions take longer but execution is nearly flawless. Listening to employees means it takes a lot of time for every decision. That can be painful for managers. But it’s worth it.

11-Managers need to personally answer every employee message.

Principles of Open Source Collaboration

(Reference: Dancing, Open Source Collaboration, and Community Building-April 24, 2012 )

1. Users are contributors (leaders lower the barriers for users to contribute)

2. People are free to contribute how they choose (leaders motivate and coordinate volunteers across modular opportunities)

3. Governance is by a do-ocracy, not democracy

4. Community is a vital asset to any open source project.

5. Well-defined communication and systems are vital

6. Contribution process is rigorously defined.

Slideshare Presentation by www.ifpeople.net :An Open Source Approach to Collaboration”

Your Turn : What is your experience of Open Source Collaboration ?

See on www.businessinsider.com

Related article : The Open Source CEO: Jim Whitehurst (techcrunch.com)

7 Secrets Executives Use To Build High Performance Organizations

Because the business and its environment are continually evolving, best practice also has to be adapted to the  times. What matters is the right managerial practice, exploiting the right business drivers to adapt to and shape the conditions facing a business over timeAndré de Waal, 2010

Top 7  Characteristics Shared by High Performance Organizations (HPO)

1. Fast response to new conditions: I am not only talking about financial crisis, politics or shift in consumer taste. I think that the biggest change that is affecting global companies of the twenty-first century is communication. With a 24/7 highly connected world and new mobile technologies, organizations are facing unique new challenges. Global smart companies understand that social media are providing more opportunities than threats. Those who are leading the pack, such as DELL with its blog “Direct2Dell” have already their corporate brand values shared in real-time by empowered employees and customers who have millions of friends around the world  to share opinions about products, services and how organizations treat their employees, the environment or citizens.

2. Risk-taking, experimentation, and innovation: Under strict budgets, companies are forced to innovate or die. The high performance organizations however make innovation a habit. They are not egocentric, they are always watching what is new in their industry but also allow “pet projects” for employees to explore totally new fields. For example companies like Google or 3M give the employees 20% of their time to work on something they are really passionate about.

3. Entrepreneurship, proactive approaches to find solutions are encouraged and rewarded. Building a strong entrepreneurial culture in big multinational companies is not easy as it is highly cultural in my opinion. For example Japanese teams are looking for consensus and the “kaizen” system which means continuing learning and improvement is a group discipline rather than having champions pushing for new ideas. On the contrary leaders in emerging markets are usually selected for their capability to take risks and decide quickly with few rules. The corporate strategy in an entrepreneurial organization is often generated by a bottom  up approach with front-line employees such as  customer services and sales people together with customers sharing feedbacks on blogs or social media like Facebook or Twitter. However entrepreneurship drives value only when corporate strategy  is clearly defined and very well executed at all levels of the organization including performance evaluation, feedback loops and corrective measures.

4. Top managers exhibit genuine concern for customers, employees, shareholders and suppliers. High performance companies are continuously building trust with people they deal with even competitors.  The top management  “walk their talk” to keep the company’s reputation and credibility at its highest level. After the Enron scandal and most recently the banks’ risky behaviors leading to the major financial crisis, the topic of  corporate governance is highly sensitive . When company such as BP lost trust in the recent Gulf disaster,  stocks went down dramatically. It is very difficult for a global company to manage ethical behaviors and accountability as every country has its own definition of corporate governance and social responsibility but top performers know there is a link between trust and profits. Companies who lose trust such as Toyota during its recent recall lose capital and may never be able to regain their brand value again in a global market.

You can’t judge yourself to be sustainable or responsible. You can only be judged by others”. Jeffrey Hollender

5. Clear, deeply rooted, widely understood philosophy and  values. Corporate vision and mission statements determine what is the purpose of an organization, where is it going and what are the values shared by the employees,  the stakeholders, shareholders, suppliers and the community at large. Values and principles define actions and help create a strategy and defining goals and action plans. Starbucks is a good example of a company who has global values  and mission statements clearly defined and shared by  local cultures.

6. Careful selection of new employees to be sure they will “fit in. Referrals are the best method to identify high quality hires and help  find passive candidates with the specific experience hiring companies need.  If you like it or not, again social media are making a big difference and more than 70% of companies find new hires that way.  Online social networking is not new, same rules apply as in person networking  but  powered by platforms like Linkedin or Twitter,  it  increases the efficiency, retention rates and fit of referral hires and  help reducing hiring costs.

7. Family friendly culture and employees at the center of the corporate core values:

We also know that talented, engaged employees drive customer value and business performanceMike Davis, senior vice president of Global Human Resources for General Mills.


Top 7  key attitudes of strategic global leaders and managers:

1.Create a compelling vision shared by all stakeholders

2.Create farsighted strategies to achieve the vision

3.Tolerate mavericks with creative ideas and be willing to accept failures

4.Focus on  inspiring and empowering people while providing  honest feedback with cultural sensitivity

5.Make work stimulating, challenging and rewarding. Say “thank you” often.

6.Create sense of teamwork across cultures and business units to avoid the silo effect

7.Embrace diversity and leverage cultural differences for excellence

Related Articles

Developing Global Executives: Failure Is Not An Option

[tweetmeme source=”AnneEgros”]

How do you define expatriate failure ? What are the main causes ? How do you select your candidates for expatriation ? Do your expatriate  talent going over to the competition? What types of  training and support are the most useful ?


With globalization, companies are required to manage an increasingly diverse workforce with expatriation being just a subset of this challenge. With increasing GDP-figures, a growing number of expatriates are sought to fill managerial positions in developing economies. Within BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China), China has become the world’s second biggest economy before Japan with a growth rate of 9.8%.

“There is just not enough talent to go around for the foreseeable future, so emerging markets will take talent from developed economies”said Peter Felix, president of the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC)-Stephenie Overman (SHRM  2010)

Compared to USA and Europe, the BRICs  are recovering much quicker but despite a younger and bigger populations, they face great shortage of talent especially at executive and senior management levels. Despite the increased demand for executive expatiates employment, still many companies do not know how to define and prevent expatriate failure. The direct financial costs of failed expatriates are associated with relocation, compensation, executive search and retraining of the replacement. The indirect costs are the most damaging and include loss of  market share and business opportunities, bad corporate image, high employee turnover and reduced productivity.

What are the major reasons for expatriate failure ?

1- Wrong candidate selection process

2-Poor job satisfaction including relationships with coworkers and disconnection from the company’s head offices.

3- Ethnocentric Global HR  Management: The organization thinks that the way of doing things in the home country is the best way, no matter where business is done.

4-Family issues including health care, children education and work-life balance, failure to recognize specific support to enhance local  job and family satisfaction

5-Spouse isolation,  career loss

Preparing the employees and their families for a foreign assignment is mutually beneficial to the organization and the employee. Many corporations still focus on the technical competencies required in the international assignment and overlook the significance of cross-cultural knowledge and the important function that the expatriate’s family plays.

What are the  top traits shared by  successful expatriates

 1-Happy, supportive  trailing spouse and family

2-Flexibility and adaptability

3-Creativity, open mind and complex problem solving skills

4-Great interpersonal and intercultural communication skills

5-Constantly developing a strong professional and social network with colleagues,  external peers and partners (in person, on the phone, online)

Financial incentives are not considered as a key success factor by most executives but generally “happiness” and a rewarding personal and  fruitful professional experiences with other cultures are intrinsically rewarding.

What types of  training and support are the most useful ?

 1-Cross-Cultural Trainings

Before expatriation, cultural preparation should include an explanation of what  is” culture shock”, learning about the host country’ history, main cultural traits, customs, and etiquette. In many cases learning the local languages help the family both at work and in life. The pre-assignment package should also include job search support for the trailing spouse if this is an issue, including help to get a working visa.  It is important that the executives and their families focus on discovering the positive aspects of their host country and learn to avoid comparing  things that are better in their home country. 

The executive and family need to assimilate  the local culture as much as possible to be happy and successful but the family should also be connected with other expatriates. Expatriate families need to network with other expat communities because in most cases “locals” have great difficulties to understand the challenges faced by international assignees, especially the trailing spouses.

For me becoming pregnant in Japan and giving birth in the USA was the most stressful events  in my expat life together with staying four weeks  in a Japanese hospital for surgery. In both cases I received most support from my French expat  friends.

2-Expatriate Career Management

Most expatriate executives come from the company’s home country. Before accepting a foreign assignment, an executive should ask questions regarding future career plans with the company. Although expatriation can increase the executive value in global organizations, it can also lead to a dead-end career.  Going abroad requires that people strategically manage their career by making sure to be visible from the head office. Assigning a mentor in the head office might be a good idea as well as executive coaching before the repatriation.  Career and personal coaching  can also be offered to the following spouses to support them in the repatriation process that can sometimes be harder than the expatriation phase See previous post : Expat Life: Returning Home and the Grief Cycle “


 It is critical that there is clear agreement and understanding between the assignee and management as to why the assignee is going, what the definition of a successful assignment is, and how this will be measured,” says Scott Sullivan, senior vice-president at GMAC Global Relocation Services, Inc.

3-Networking skills and social media training

It can be useful to offer trainings on networking skills with cultural sensitivity both off-line and online. The company should have a  social media policy and code of conduct on the internet  for employees and their families worldwide. Imagine the damages that can cause an angry and  frustrated trailing spouses venting on Facebook or Twitter? Trainings on how to use main platforms such as Linkedin, Facebook or Twitter to increase the chance of meeting in person both  locals and other expatriates  are not expensive and most great advises are available for free on forums or online seminars, what company have to do is hiring a social media coach like George KAO


A happy family  contributes a lot in the success of an expatriation.

Avoid one size fits all training programs

It might be useful to conduct an assessment for selecting an ideal profile for the job abroad and check the candidates natural behavior, strengths and weaknesses to see if there is a match and which skills need to be  developed. Check that the family and the spouse are also aware of the pros and cons of the expatriation. If possible allow the following spouse to make a trip in the host country before the decision is made.

Expat Life: Returning Home and the Grief Cycle

[tweetmeme source=”AnneEgros”]

For every change, positive or negative, people go through various emotional stages. Dr Kubler-Ross described those stages as the “Grief Cycle (On grief and grieving By Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, David Kessler). Those stages are the following:Shock stage: Initial paralysis at hearing the bad news.
Denial stage: Trying to avoid the inevitable.
Anger stage: Frustrated outpouring of bottled-up emotion.
Bargaining stage: Seeking in vain for a way out.
Depression stage: Final realization of the inevitable.
Testing stage: Seeking realistic solutions.
Acceptance stage: Finally finding the way forward.

Most people resist changes, it is part of our primitive brain which triggers the release of all the stress hormones to prepare the body for the unknown and the fight or fly mode.

For example, repatriation can be very brutal and stressful, much more difficult than expected. In my experience, very few repatriation cases are success stories. Usually, returning “home” equal loss of status and independence, lower salary and benefits. Beside the materialistic losses, it is really hard for the repatriate to “fit in” again in an organization that does not care about your experience abroad despite all the positive changes you made for your company and yourself. It is not rare that the repatriate quits his job or get fired within the first year of repatriation.

The emotional roller-coaster described in the Grief Cycle can be very similar if you loose a loved one or your job. It is important to recognize and acknowledge where you are in the process and seek specific help.

Planning ahead is not always possible however if you are aware of the risks before embarking in your expatriation journey, I suggest you start the first days of expatriation identifying and cultivating your existing connections, build new networks, seek for friendship and professional support, look at added-value trainings and keep good relationships with colleagues left “home”. When expatriation is over, maybe take this as an opportunity for a career change or consolidate your value proposition among recruiters and people in your networks. With unemployment rates skyrocketing, lay-off can happen to anybody, expatriate or not and knowing the Grief Cycle may help you getting the right support.

How To Become A Successful Innovator Part II: Set The Stage

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In my previous post I talked about why you need to break the rules and un-learn things to be a creative person.  Here, I will share some ideas for discussion on how to foster innovation in organizations.

Let me first share a lesson I learned today about problem solving : I started noticing a  water leakage  in the  basement of my house. I thought it came from two very old faucets in my bathroom so I started  looking in the bathroom but found nothing. Then my housekeeper pointed at me that we could hear the evacuation of the water in the pipes on the right side of the wall. Because of the bias about the faucets, I saw what I wanted to see with the illusion that the water came out from the left side of the wall,  just under my bathroom. Later she discovered the leak by drying everything and then just following  the water path. So lesson learned: Good problem solvers have a  systemic approach and do not jump into conclusions without checking first all objective facts.

I mentioned in previous postThree Ways To Stimulate or Kill Creativity In the Office“, now  lets summarize the most important factors to create an environment that foster innovation.

Creativity and innovation are vital for keeping a company’s competitive edge but also for individual well-being.

1-Stakeholders should first decide if the organization wants to be a  leading innovative company and commit to provide the environment, support and resources needed.  With the financial crisis, many companies cut on their R&D costs or transfer some design work abroad. Is that good or bad ? unfortunately I think we will only see the results of such strategy in 5 or 10 years from now.

2-The Managers’ people skills are  crucial for enabling creativity.  Knowing team members, their strengths, typical learning styles and natural behaviors help create teams that challenge the status quo. Leaders and managers need to  inspire trust, be open, be challenging but not overwhelming. empowering, giving freedom and give clear directions without micromanaging.

3-Managing talents is not about putting a bunch of all-stars together, it is about creating a team of people who share the same excitement for the project, are intrinsically motivated, have different expertise with diverse cultural backgrounds. In an article ‘Why dream teams fail”, the author took a very good example: The movie “Ocean’s Twelve” starring Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Julia Roberts  received flames from the critics and generated less revenues than the star-free “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”.

4-Using proven creativity tools  and  innovation processes: you need systematic approaches to optimize creativity, I have been using Debono’s Six Thinking Hats method with good results for problem solving or for generating new ideas, especially in multicultural teams to avoid prejudices and groupthink.  Many other creativity tools are used for developing innovative services and products such as brainstorming.

If you want to share the creativity tools you are using,  please post a comment-Thank you.

In conclusion: Most Innovative organizations have a formal process to spark innovation. They use employee’s intrinsic motivation and thinking power. They make them happy and have fun. They give a clear focus on market needs. They adjust rapidly budget allocation to stop following ideas that don’t work and allocate resources to most promising projects. With the current economic turmoil a lot of companies decided to cut costs on R&D and to outsource some design work. But nobody really knows if  this will have an impact on their global competitiveness.

More Resources

When to Coach Employees and When Not

Providing training to employees to develop skills and knowledge they need to perform their job is not employee coaching. Coaching is not about giving advices, consulting or giving solutions. Telling employees what to do is not coaching and that is why managers usually cannot coach their employees themselves.

Coaching provides support for the employees to help them identify areas for growth, what is holding them back and discover how to improve their performance and excel in their work. Coaches also help employees to become aware of their behaviors, attitude and generate their own solutions by identifying internal and external resources. Most business and executive coaches integrate what is happening in the life of the employees that can impact their work.

When to consider coaching for your employees ?

o They have all skills and knowledge to perform their job but get stuck on what they really want to do next and how to reach their next career goals.

o They are excelling technically in their current job but their managers think they should be aware of and improve their communication style.

o When someone has behavior problems that impact the rest of the team: negative attitude, not following the rules.

o They have just been promoted to a new job and need to gain confidence.

o When the company decide to promote a good manager into a leadership function

To obtain significant changes and lasting results, coaching is an on going process that can last typically from 6 to 12 months. It is important for the employees to understand that they are investing in themselves and for the managers to understand that each employee has its own learning pace and need time to identify and reach their goals .

At Zappos (Zappos.com ), they even take a step further by having an in house Life Coach: Check out this video interview of the Life Coach: http://www.zapposinsights.com/public/103.cfm

Leadership Transition: The First 90 days

Whether a manager is hired by a new company or promoted from within, organizations have high expectations for the first 3 months of the new appointee according to Michael Watkins, author of The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels.

Cross-cultural communication skills are expected to be known by the new leader to deal effectively with multicultural teams and a global network of clients and stakeholders .

In fact some researchers found that the very first days are critical to build credibility (see : Harvard Management Update: New Leaders: Stop Downward Performance Spirals Before They Start January 16, 2009 by Jean-Francois Manzoni and Jean-Louis Barsoux )

Here are some tips for making the most of those early 90 days:


1-Meet your team and listen to each direct report individually, ask their opinion on why they think things work or do not work. Ask what are their career plans for the next 3 years.

2-Ask for suggestions and identify people who can partner with you

3-Listen and understand others before being understood

4-Learn the company values, vision, mission, strategies and rules as they might be very different from “home”.

5-Meet with your boss often and ask for a weekly feedback session

6-Prioritize actions you can do in 90 days that will have an impact on your long-term success

7-Volunteer for an internal new project, do as much team building exercises as possible

8- Do effective networking inside and outside the company. Contact your local chambers of commerce, look for cultural events, be part of local social networks.

9-Think positive and enjoy your knew situation

10-Hire an executive coach

11-Look for a mentor


1-Do not rely on your past experiences and behaviors that were successful as they might not apply to your knew situation

2-Do not tell people all about your past experiences but share future vision

3-Do not make negative comments about your former boss or company or your current host country

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