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Archive for September 2010

Act as an actor for your career and for the community.

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Actor of your own career and of the community

Recently, I read an article about the lack of doctors in Belgium. In Belgium there is a numerus closus in the universities for medicine studies. Only a limited number of graduated doctors can exercise the profession. This could explain the lack of doctors Belgium has to face. But Jacques de Toeuf, doctor and former president of ABSym (Association belge des syndicats médicaux) has not the same opinion about the problem. Based on statistics, he mentions that there are enough graduated doctors in Belgium compared to the number of beds in hospitals, but the problem is that some of then does not want to work in hospital, does not want to ensure permanencies during the week end, taking care more about quality of their own life instead of the quality of life of patients. And Jacques de Toeuf is wondering if these people, only visiting three of four patients per day, are still able after a couple of year to diagnose deceases, if they still have the competence to do their job correctly. As he mentions, medicine is not the same as to sale “tupperwares”. You do not do it when you want.

By reading this, there are two questions to be asked. What are the values we dedicate to work? Work is, most of the time, considered as a constraint. Some people are doing a job because “they have to work to earn money”, waiting the week end, the end of the month to receive the cheque, the holidays, the retirement, ..the death? In a previous posting, I already talk about the importance to choose the job you want to do, the job you are convinced by. If you are convinced by what you are doing, life will be much more exciting, and you will be able to give the best of what you can do. The motivation is an essential condition to stay on the top of competences. In a fast moving environment, you have to maintain and improve your skills everyday, it takes time, but this time has to be considered as an investment, a essential condition to ensure you a sustainable career. If you do not improve your skills, your knowledge, you will come shortly to incompetence, and the chance to find another job will be thin.This is why to do the job of your dream is so important, and is probably the only good reason to do it. As said Confusius: “Do the work you like to do and you will never have to work during your life”.

What I mentioned before is related to the private sphere. But there is another important question and value, needed to be considered, it is your function in the community. Each of us, through the job we are doing, we have a mission, we have to contribute to the community. If you are responsible for customer service in a company, you will take care that everybody could benefit of a good service. If you are a doctor, you will do what you can do in order to save your patients. We have to consider we are playing a role for the community, and this implies the notions of responsibility, respect and commitment. A doctor has the obligation to do all what he can do to save a life. If he has a conscience, he is aware about his duties, and will not try to escape to it. I am used to say that there are constraints in each job. You are free to choose the job you want to do, but remember that the only existing freedom is the one to choose your constraints.

Commitment to act for the community is a value having to be part of our professional choice. Commitment means to have respect for the others. This means that we have to play as an actor for the community, but we have to be first the actor of our own life, our own career. It is only if you try to build a project for yourself that you will contribute to build projects for the other, with efficiency and concrete results. By doing the job you like to do, your working hours are an investment and not a loss of time, and as each investment, you will have a return on it. If you are a doctor, and if you take care about your patients, then they will recognize your talents, and will probably recommend you to other people. Be an actor of your career, of your life and for the community.

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Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

September 22, 2010 at 20:26

Technology and organization

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A time for each thing, each thing on his time.

Few months ago, I had a phone conversation with my tax consultant who was in a bad mood. He told me the difficulties he had to do his job, without being disturbed by phone calls every five minutes, by people asking why they have not yet received an answer to the mail they sent …..five minutes ago !

As I am used to say, technology is a revealer of lack of organization or non-organization. Technology is useful to help us to perform tasks or processes, but it does not replace the basics of organization. A tool helps us to perform a task, but do not condition the way we will do it. Let’s take the example of e-mails. E-mail is a revolutionary invention giving us the possibility to transmit information to everybody worldwide in a short time period. This way to send information is much faster than if you have to send it by post. Does it mean that you have to jump to your electronic mailbox each time you receive an e-mail? Are you checking every five minutes at home if the postman put some letters in your mailbox? As manager, I am not sure that your core business is to read and dispatch mails during all the day. A time for each thing, each thing on a time.

Most of the time, technology is seen as the solutions for nearly everything. Such confusion makes that the results level is not the one expected. Technology does not mean methodology. The methodology defines how you will perform a process, the technology is the tool you will use to perform the process by applying the appropriate methodology. If for instance, you have to perform the financial closing of a company, you will process to the closing operations following a determined methodology based on the elements in your books, and you will use an accounting software to proceed to these operations. To use an accounting software does not mean that you have not to learn accounting rules anymore.

Other example: you want to organize a meeting. By organizing this meeting through conference call will probably take less time and save money, than if the attendees of the meeting have to travel to a location, but it does not mean that you have not to prepare an agenda with the different points you want to discuss during the meeting. If you do not communicate any agenda before the meeting, the attendees are unable to prepare it and the time consumed will be a pure loss.

We have to be aware that technology is only a processing unit giving us the possibility to go faster and to achieve targets with higher results and better quality. Technology provides added value if the processes are clearly defined and if methodologies are implemented.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

September 14, 2010 at 19:10

A manager, mentor and creator of inspiring environments.

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A manager, a mentor and a creator of inspiring environment

All of us we probably remember a manager we were pleased to work with, giving us the opportunity to develop talents and to achieve goals. All of us, we can note that when we finished our studies, we only acquired basic knowledge in the discipline we choose. At that stage, things only begin. In an ongoing fast moving environment, we have to learn every day by acquiring useful experience.

What is precisely experience? An efficient experience is not only a range of accumulated performed tasks, but the realisation of projects and assignment with concrete results and the knowledge acquired through the processes. A part of the acquired knowledge is the result of our own question we are putting to ourselves, but also the shared experience and knowledge by our colleagues and managers.

Recently, I put a question about the criteria of a good job. Somebody underlined the fact to work in an inspiring environment as a criteria of motivation, environment where colleagues and managers want to share knowledge with each other, which means a real team spirit, environment where each member want to be part of a collaborative process, and consider only personal success with team success. Everybody can contribute to such environment, but it is the manager responsibility to create it and to make it work. A manager is responsible of a team, with people having several competences and capabilities. The point is to create an environment where the people can demonstrate their talents, and create more added value than the sum of the individual talents. It is important to create a collaborative process, a dynamic where each team member can share knowledge with all the team members, where the seniors can share their own experience and recommendation and teach the juniors. Here I am not only underlying the combination of competences in a team, but also the level of competence and experience of each member. The importance of a balance between seniors and juniors is critical, for the reason that as senior, we do not only acquire knowledge, but we developed also methodology of work through several experiences. Methodology is a key factor in a project, in an assignment. Knowledge answers to what I have to do, but methodology answers to how have I to do it.

The manager has to play a key role in the acquisition of methodology by his team members. It is obvious if he wants to delegate processes and see these processes done on an efficient way. He can reach such results if we share his own experience with his collaborator, giving them the opportunity to work autonomously. Personally, I remember managers advising me and contributing to make me important steps in productivity improvements. They gave me small tips giving influence on my career direction, revealing talents and capabilities.

I think that a manager has to be a mentor, has to inspire and to build inspired and enthusiastic teams. Considering the fact to share knowledge and information, he clearly subscribes to a sustainable and long terms view of the organisation. He clearly understands this quote of Peter Drucker: “We now accept the fact that learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change. And the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn.”

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

September 6, 2010 at 22:07