Tag Archives: Management

How to make a simple positive “Waterfall chart”

If you ever need to produce “blue sky” ideas or have to explain causality then a waterfall chart can be a great way to show that graphically. Especially in the less slides in a deck is good world.

I had to do one of these the other day. I was given a cryptic old workbook from finance, which would take longer to cut & paste/decipher than to actually teach myself how to do it. Plus, it was too complicated for what I needed anyway.

I had to make a simple, “if I had to reach a target” visual representation. So, I searched around on the inter-web and came across some mathematician level answers for complicated graphs or utter rubbish. Based on this and the bits I could understand I found my own way.

I am sure there are other ways from people smarter than me. But, I thought I would share my simple waterfall how to guide.

Step by step to make your simple positive “Waterfall chart”

  • Have your starting point, e.g. current run-rate in row 2, column 3 (see figure 1)
  • List out all your activities you intend to do, to move towards the target with incremental value. So activities in column 1 and values e.g. incremental orders in column 3
  • Put your target Row 8, column 3
  • In row7, column 3 work out the difference/gap if applicable to your story
  • Column 2 is now for the “height buffer”, which will be formatted out later on. This should just be the cumulative total to effectively suspend your real data (column 3). Will make sense in a minute
  • Plot your stacked bar graph. (See figure 2)

Waterfall data sample data

Figure 1. Sample data


Waterfall chart - almost there

Figure 2. Half way there

Now you need to remove the column 2 buffer data from VIEW

  • Highlight and delete the legend
  • Right click and format the target column to make a different colour
  • Right click on the ‘buffer’ series and “format data series” to “No Fill” and “No line colour”
  • Optional extras may include the colour of any difference (if any), data labels or lines to aid digesting

Your graph should now look a bit like this. (See figure 3)

Sample waterfall chart

Figure 3. Ta-dah - Waterfall chart ready for your formatting

From now on you can customise it any way you want. Add any kind of title etc and generally put it into your house style.

But I think you will agree, it is a very simple way to represent data in a single chart. And it will make you look like a pro. That is how I make a simple, positive waterfall style graph. Hope it works for you too.

What makes a good people manager?

I am a people manager, and I have a manager.  I am sure most people who stumble across these ramblings are one or the other or both.  In a recent conversations about this topic with a number of colleagues past and present I compiled these lists

Having worked for some excellent managers, some OK, and unluckily historically some bad managers this intrigued me into thinking about Me, how I act and am perceived by immediate reports, peers and virtual teams.

So, I thought I would share somes notes.  I am sure I am opening myself up for ton of abuse from people who know me, but would be fascinated in hearing what you think I should add to these categories.

Good traits in a people manager/team leader

  • Accessible & Personable
  • Knowledgeable and can communicate it
  • Respected and shows respects to other
  • Open & Honest
  • Fair & Consistent
  • 1-2-1’s are on time and add value
  • Timely feedback
  • Awards credit when it is due
  • Receives feedback
  • Cares about Me

What traits makes a bad people manager?

  • Vague (in all forms)
  • Personality misfit, lacks social skills
  • Unrealistic targets or expectations
  • Picks on employees
  • Pits 1 employee against another
  • Changes their mind all of the time
  • Micromanages
  • Lies (especially when they say publicly different things to what they advise you)

And then, being the thinking type I am and trying to be fair.

There are on occasions when circumstances or the environment can make this hard or fall straight to the bad category.  It is possible to have a circumstance that your manager  is under orders, or a company culture actually puts up barriers you and them being a  good manager.  These could be:

Excuses for being a bad people manager!

  • Development opportunities as reward/goals are limited by the company
  • Office politics
  • Changing orgs and re-orgs
  • Communications styles are dictated by a higher power
  • Fear and Fears
  • Lack of knowledge
  • Lack of experience in being a people manager
  • Time/Prioritisation imposed upon them
  • And I am sure the list goes on

What do you think?

Opinions welcome.  Unless you are in one of my teams! Then “SHUT UP and DO SOME WORK!”