Top 7 "Justinisms" - Business and Professional Pointers
By Justin Gates, MBA
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The corporate world can be a tough place and it doesn't hurt to have a little advice along the way!
The following is a brief list of corporate “dos” and “don’ts” that I have found to be most useful to me and I put my own twist on such axioms in order to provide personal insight and as such, I call these insights “Justinisms”.
- "Never Be Afraid to Dig a Ditch" - This is a lesson I have learned throuhgout my career. I have noticed, through observation, that many of the most effective Chief Executives are those who are not afraid to "get their hands dirty" and work to make things happen. These effective Chief Executives do believe that there is some sort of "Transparent Barrier" separating them from the rest of the firm.
I took the phrasing for this point from the notion that, many times in the case of Labor-Intensive industries, the firms are often a combination of Labor (Blue Collar) and Management (White Collar) personnel. The effective Chief Executive is the one that is not afraid to transition him/herself from that of a White Collar Manager, to that of a Blue Collar Laborer.
- "A Secretary Is Not a Toy" - Many times, in a professional work environment, there is both Formal and Informal authority. Formal Authority, often rests in professional titles or job descriptions and is often dictated by what someone "says he/she does" for a living. However, many times, professionals overlook the importance of Informal Authority which is dictated by what an individual actually "does" for a living. Secretaries and Administrative Assistants are key examples of personnel weilding a great deal of Informal Authority. These personnel members have a great deal of access and control over the flow of operations within the professional environment, evnen if it is not apparent at times.
- "Be A Champion" - As with anything in life, there are "Winners" and "Losers". In the case of Business, one should always conduct him/herself as a "Champion" and strive to do the best he/she can at their respective tasks. Whether it be acting as a "Change Champion" or as a contributor to the development of Best Practices or other Quality Control improvements. One should strive to be a Champion.
- "Practice Submarine Management" - The term “Submarine Management” is one that I have spent time developing over the past 2 or so years. I developed the concept through observation of naval crews on United States combat submarines. It is often practice to have a single crew member trained in several different and distinct skill areas. In the possibility that the submarine is attacked and there is loss of life of certain key crew members (Sonar Officer, Navigation, Chief of the Boat, etc.), other officers and crew members would take over the duties of those who had been wounded or killed in combat.
The practice of management is not so hostile and barbaric as may be the case in warfare, however, it is my strong recommendation that a firm be staffed with personnel members who are cross trained, multifunctional, and a management structure should be implemented in which personnel members may assume the duties of other members at any given time.
- “Approach Business as a Mix of War and Peace” – Although business is often approached many times as a constant State of War between enemies (in the form of industry participants), one should be aware that the bridges built during times of peace can possibly deter additional or later conflict. In short, ultimately the customer (either individual or industrial/commercial client) is the market to serve and with less conflict, an industry or market may experience less volatility and as such, an environment in which the customer experiences more choices and a greater freedom to participate in commerce emerges.
Although conflict may sometimes be necessary (as in war), the customer should always be considered and industry participants should use agreements such as Technology Sharing, Resource Cooperation, and Joint Venture Contracts in a similar fashion to the use of Trade Agreements, Armistices, and Treaties between nations.
- “Flatter Is Better!” – An issue I have noticed recently when it comes to organizations is with regard to the management structure. Many firms tend to have a “vertical” structure when it comes to Management, much like a hierarchy. Although such a structure is common, it may be detrimental to progress.
When a firm practices a “horizontal” management structure, there tends to be a greater sense of equality and often, there is a greater degree of interaction between associates. Furthermore, when a firm utilizes a horizontal management structure, tasks may be completed more quickly and deliverables may be met quicker and be of higher quality due to the increased interaction and cohesion between the members of the horizontal management structure. (Return to Top)
- “Don't Be afraid of Heights!” – Often, when one is promoted or is given the charge of more responsibility at a firm, one many times becomes overwhelmed. Sometimes moving up an organization may seem terrific until the realization sets in that with promotion comes a greater workload and more tasks.
The best tip that I can give is to not be afraid and to cope and define the best that you can. Remember, people are counting on you and the firm’s performance is at stake as well. Don’t be intimidated! Fill the role the best you can and remember to do the best you can to inspire and motivate along the way.
Justin Gates, MBA
Special Projects Manager
United Information Technologies (UIT)
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Article Submitted On: June 26, 2006