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The Lies We Tell Ourselves

November 30, 2009 Leave a comment

You Don’t Know How to E-Mail

October 27, 2009 2 comments

I’d say my biggest gripe at the office is our persistent and abundant inability to effectively communicate via e-mail.  I say “our” because I’m guilty of this, too. Two things got me thinking about this today:

  1. I received an email with a blank subject line
  2. Then I received an email sharing Erik Goodlad’s “5 min/20 Slides” presentation at Ignite Boise about managing emails

Hear me for a minute: if you’re swamped with emails, so are your co-workers, manager, and most importantly… your clients and subject matter experts.  By following some of the tips from Mike Song’s book, The Hamster Revolution, you’ll communicate better and do a better job managing your emails.

Check out Erik’s presentation, too:

Do You MBWA Effectively?

September 4, 2009 Leave a comment

Learn how to Manage By Wandering Around at the Three Star Leadership Blog: How to wander effectively

Excerpt:

The reason that “Management by Wandering Around” (MBWA) gets such good press is that it works when it’s done right…  The fact is that MBWA is about as easy to mess up as it is to do well.

Your Title is NOT an Exemption

September 1, 2009 3 comments

Nothing frustrates employees more than supervisors, and particularly an org’s top leaders, who feel as though they are above the standards they set for others.  Managers who think this routinely drop the ball on projects, see a high turnover of staff, and often wonder why the team isn’t performing to its potential.

Examples I’ve personally experienced include:

  • asking subordinates to work late on a Friday to meet a deadline… and promptly leaving at 3:15 for “coffee”… and not coming back to the office until Monday at 10am.
  • scheduling “mandatory” meetings to get a project moving forward, only to schedule something else at the same time and attempt to play double-duty in both meetings. (Please don’t ever attempt to “run” meetings you don’t plan to attend!!)
  • making every request seem like a critical fire that needs immediate attention… and you work your butt off only to find out that it was only critical b/c the boss dropped the ball a few weeks ago by not passing the information along to the team at the appropriate time.

Read more from LeadStar:

Lead Star | News and Insights | On Our Minds | Title is Not an Exemption

~Kristin

Does Always Being “In Motion” = Productivity?

Steve Roesler posted an interesting question on the All Things Workplace blog yesterday:

Do we have to be seen as “in motion” at every moment in order to be considered alive, well and productive?

Source: LegalJuice.com

Source: LegalJuice.com

As a typical over-achiever, this is something I’ve always struggled with. I feel the pressure to always be doing something, always look busy, always have an impossible To-Do List, and always get it done looking fresh and unruffled… when really I’m a hot mess underneath the veneer.

Do you feel the pressure to live this way? Why do you think that is? Do we do it to ourselves? Is it your boss, company, significant other, or society in general that forces you to be constantly in motion in order to feel (look!) successful?

Those of you that ooze the “go-with-the-flow” mentality, whom I greatly admire with a twinge of envy, what are your views about the pressure to always look busy or in motion in order to appear successful? Do you feel productive? Do you buy into the “busy employees are hard-working employees” view from many in management? Do you disregard it? How do you avoid it, while still pleasing the boss/sig other?

Share your thoughts!!

~Kristin

KristinMeezHeadshot66x66

Coaching Staff — Part VI

Here’s the 6th Installment of Coaching Staff from the Brilliant Leadership Blog. Let me know what else you’d like to hear about! ~Kristin

Coaching Staff — Part VI
The Brilliant Leadership Blog
Previously in this series we have looked at the five stages of the coaching cycle; instruction, demonstration, practice, observation and feedback. But knowing how to coach is only half of the equation. Perhaps one of the greatest barriers to staff receiving the coaching they need is that the leader struggles to find time to coach – it is one of the most common objections that I encounter.

Most people would agree that coaching and developing staff is an important leadership activity but it is rarely urgent – nobody (apart from the staff member involved) is going to notice if you skip a coaching session today but all hell is going to break loose if you miss that project deadline! As a result, coaching doesn’t happen as often as it should and frequently managers will absolve themselves of coaching responsibility by sending people on training courses. We’ll look at the relationship between coaching and training courses in the next part of this series but for now, let’s just focus on how you can find the time to coach your staff.

Firstly, let’s be perfectly clear about one thing. If you are responsible for managing and developing staff, coaching is a core part of your job. No ifs. No ands. No buts. It is part of what you are being paid to do and the main way you can get your staff to perform at a higher level is to help them to become more capable. So, the bottom line is this – you simply have to find time to coach your staff. And here are some suggestions that I hope will help you find that time.

1. Schedule – Build it into your schedule (diarise it if you have to) in order to make a clear commitment to coaching your staff.

2. Delegate – Are you doing things right now that your staff could be doing just as effectively? Is it quicker to do it yourself? Are you hanging on to jobs you like doing? The more you coach, the more you can delegate – trust your staff and learn to let go.

3. Good Enough – Are you a bit of a perfectionist? Do you spend more time than you should on tasks to make them perfect? Can you do them quicker and to a standard that is still good enough? Well here’s the thing – good enough IS perfect!

4. Enjoyability – Are you spending more time than you should on some tasks because you enjoy doing them? Are prioritising these tasks ahead of coaching for the same reason? You don’t need me to tell you that more personal discipline might be required then.

5. Automate – Are there some tasks and functions that could be automated? What are you waiting for?

6. Negotiate – When you ask others to do things for you, do you build in some flexibility to the deadline ‘just in case’? Most of us do. So what does that tell you about some of the deadlines you are working to? Yep, there is often scope to negotiate the deadline and/or the work content in order to buy yourself some more time.

7. Innovate – Use your resources wisely. What tools have you got to help you coach? Are there are other people who could help out with some of the coaching activities. You don’t have to do all the coaching yourself but you do have to make sure it gets done.

There are few things in the leadership role that are more important than coaching and developing staff – yes there are some, but not many. You need to find the time to coach, see it as a core part of your job and prioritise accordingly.

In the next and final part of this series we’ll be looking at how you can combine coaching with training courses in order to make developing staff more effective and more efficient.

Simon Cooper is chief executive of the Experiential Learning Centre, author of the exciting new book, Brilliant Leader and architect of the Brilliant Leadership workshops.

If Only There Were More Hours in the Day

When you have a project, does it tend to grow or shrink to fit into the window of time you actually have available to do it? Project Managers: have you ever seen a project finish under the projected time allotted for the work? Rarely. Software engineers: What happens when there is not a definitive due date? The project expands infinitely, right?

Is it procrastination? Maybe a lack of planning? Demanding timelines? Unrealistic expectations? What about limited resources?

Nope. It’s a phenomenon called Parkinson’s Law. No, not the degenerative disorder of the nervous system. The Parkinson’s that I’m talking about was defined way back in the 1950s by an Englishman named C. Northcote Parkinson.

A true cynicist, Parkinson said, “work will fill the time available for its completion.” More generally, Parkinson’s Law says: “The demand upon a resource always expands to match the supply of the resource.”

Side Note: Have you noticed the reverse is not true?

There are several corollaries to Parkinson’s Law:

  • Data expands to fill the space available for storage.
  • Buying more memory encourages the use of more memory-intensive processes.

I’m going to venture to say that Parkinson’s Law impacts every single one of us.

  • Do you have a problem with space? Did you get a larger desk or office because you “needed more room”, only to find that you’ve now managed to fill up the new, larger space?
  • Do the items on your To-Do list get crossed off? No matter how much your list grows, responsibility and diligence help you get it all done… eventually.
  • Does your bank account balance get really frustrated with you sometimes? As an individual’s income rises, their costs of living and lifestyle increases to meet their income level.

So, victims of Parkinson’s Law, how do we get around it? Feel free to share your suggestions using the comments funciton. Here are a couple of mine:

  • Manage your time: try working with a kitchen timer. Studies show that 48 minutes is a good increment of time for completing a wide variety of tasks. Set your timer, get to work, and don’t stop until it dings. You’ll love the results.
  • Manage your space: try thinking smaller. If you’re going to fill it to the gills regardless of size, maybe a smaller desk or bookshelf will cut down on the number of things gathering dust. At home, replace your sports equipment closet with a Wii.
  • Manage your money: pay yourself first. Set up automatic transfers to your savings account on payday. If you can’t see the money, you can’t spend it, right?
Categories: time management