I found this article on Yahoo this evening when I arrived home from work. Atos, a French technology firm is doing away with internal e-mail communications for it's employees citing spam, "polluting material" and poor productivity as a result of e-mail's inherent lack of efficiency within an organization of that size. Atos claims middle managers spend 25% of their time trying to access information.
As alternatives Atos will use file sharing through in house applications, instant messaging and an internal Wiki. They've already been able to reduce internal e-mail volume by 20% with the goal of eliminating e-mail within 18 months for it's 74,000 employees.
I'm currently reading Tim Ferris' The Four Hour Workweek which includes some gripes about the inefficiency of e-mail as a cause for long but unproductive workdays. Ferris argues that you can reduce your use of e-mail to a once weekly chore, and not suffer any consequences. In reorganizing your thinking about the handling of messages, e-mail, voicemail, and where your "bottlenecks" are within your business The Four Hour Workweek outlines how you can become more productive by dedicating less time to an inefficient system.
Last month I read an article on the internet which I want to attribute to HR Bartender (but can't because I was remiss in bookmarking said article, not sure who wrote it or how to find it now!) which demonstrated new HR software that looked and operated similarly to Facebook and kept track of employees' development goals, educational efforts and collaborations. Wow! HR finally moves out from under the Byzantine boulder it wedged itself beneath for decades and becomes an instant aid to operations, employee development and performance? I'm impressed. I would assume that this type of technology will become common in the years to come. What a fantastic aid to employee development. I love this idea!
I'd love to share information about what I find, what you have found, and what's happening in the great wide world. Contact me right here to begin collaborating and learning peer to peer.
Just before my first management assignment, in between the time when I was offered the job and I needed to report, I was all smiles. I had happened upon the opportunity most accidentally. I wasn't even looking for a management job but simply looking to survive the summer in the sometimes roller coaster world of seasonal employment. Upon learning there was an open position at a local restaurant I remember thinking "I can surely do that!" I had been lucky enough to experience the leadership of several enlightened bosses among the many dreadful managers since I had started delivering The Buffalo News at age 12 on a local paper route. I was eager to model the effectiveness of those enlightened role models and to prove to myself that I would be better than the majority of moody, confused and short-tempered souls elevated to management I had observed for far too long in my working life.
Reality sometimes hit hard, even though I was protected by a hearty shied of youthful exuberance, optimism, and of course, ignorance. Within hours of being charged with opening a restaurant that had been shuttered for eight months I realized I had waded farther from the shore than I was accustomed and suddenly had to contend with currents and winds and (gulp), a lack of orientation in a leadership role I had assumed would come rather naturally to me. Everyone needed something from me right away, and moment after moment after moment in an endless stream of questions, I suddenly realized I might not have all the answers.
I survived the opening, and training new and inexperienced employees, and massive crowds of customers desperate for a meal after enduring shuttle rides and bus transfers to see Alaska's famed interior backcountry. What I learned in those first few weeks has stuck with me years later as I reflect on my current goals to become a more effective manager and leader. Technique, used in conjunction with your natural talent, allows you to tackle problems quickly, elevate employees to great performances and allows that monkey on your back to give the occasional massage.
One of the best features of Erika Andersen's book- Growing Great Employees is that worksheets are included as part of each chapter so you can practice mapping out your questions, techniques and knowledge. The best feature of course is the sage advice and easily written action plans for all your management woes. Listening skills, selecting for core competencies while hiring, the Social Style Model, and a coaching toolkit are all laid out in this book, allowing you to pick and choose topics depending on where you need immediate help.
Becoming aware of the techniques needed to fulfill your responsibilities as a manager allows you to perform better, and therefor to lead your employees more effectively. Knowing that I can now analyze a situation and respond appropriately, with great effectiveness...wow, I love it!
If you're like me you may not want to dive into a situation that requires "haggling". I can't say that the idea of dancing about with someone to verbally negotiate the price of product has ever sat comfortably with me. I never experienced haggling as a child to the degree I assumed it was anything more than a cultural convention in Hollywood movies used to crudely describe foreign cultures. While I've grown more comfortable with the idea of negotiating as an adult due to my desire to get a good deal it would not be fair to say I'm a Haggler.
Bargaining for Advantage by G. Richard Shell is a study of negotiation which should demistify the process of negotiations for everyone. You're not guaranteed to be an expert negotiator after reading this book, but you certainly will have a framework to deconstruct what you see in everyday transactions as well as an idea of some simple tactics you can use to prepare yourself for those moments of negotiation that permeate our lives.
So, what can be learned from Shell's book? Well, like most things in life preparation is a key contributor to success in negotiations. Even veteran negotiators and individuals regarded as highly successful professional negotiators are diligent in preparing for their work by studying the situation they are charged with resolving. Successful negotiators focus on areas of common ground between parties and settlement options. They anticipate the arguments of their counterparts so they can frame their arguments in a manner that the other party perceives as appealing and consistent with their own logic for resolution.
Shell breaks down the negotiation process into phases allowing the novice to gain a clear picture of what is going on but more importantly what could happen if you are prepared, focused and educated prior to the start of negotiations. He offers some bullet points on various components of the stages of negotiation which the reader can easily translate into their everyday life.
Tips for a Potential Negotiation
- Identify the Decision-maker
- Look for Common Ground
- Identify Interfering Interests
- Search for Low-Cost Options (that satisfy the other party and advance your own goals)
The points above seem both obvious and simple, but the devil is in the details, and those details require negotiation. When you determine your comfort level, style and goals prior to a negotiation you have a great opportunity to advance your goals by preparing your arguments, understanding your opponent and maintaining an atmosphere of integrity with all parties involved. Be wary of possible cultural differences in negotiation style, as well as the pitfalls of viewing negotiations solely as competitive contests. Use subtle psychological framing such as the Similarity Principle, and Tolerant Amnesia to your advantage.
Lastly, remember to probe first, disclose later!
I admit that this video exceeds an hour but it's worth a watch.
If you ever find yourself stressed-out about deadlines, projects and details then you should take the time to get to know David Allen. Even if your able to plow through more than most people by brute force and mindfulness you'll find his "Getting Things Done" inspirational and instructive. David Allen allows you to apply a philosophy of organization and productivity to your work as well as providing some simple tips and tricks to get things done more easily, more confidently, with less effort. David Allen is a productivity expert with over 1.3 million followers on Twitter. He's got a great website with free downloads, newsletters and podcasts. It seems he's making it as easy as possible for you to get things done!
I listened to the audiobook version of Getting Things Done which is a new mode of learning for me. It was great to be able to listen to each individual chapter whenever I wanted, repeat, and fast forward depending on my whims. Something to be careful of when listening to audiobooks is the idea that you can learn by listening to material in the background while doing something else. This strategy isn't going to work if your anything like me. Concentration on the audio material was key to my absorbtion of Allen's principles and examples, and I suggest you follow suit.
What did I take away from this audio-book experience? Namely that you do have to apply some effort to your work life organization and flow much the same way you would attack a hobby you truly enjoyed. Instead of being stressed about all the things you think you might need to conclude a project successfully take a moment to ask yourself "What do I need to do to get this accomplished?". This process starts by outlining any action item requiring more than one step, or two minutes worth of effort. By clearly knowing what you need to do, you can go ahead and get it done properly and without questioning whether you've done all you needed to do. Next you provide the physical infrastructure to allow the efficient transition of project materials from undone, to a state of doing (or incubation), and then finally to your final, finished product. Simply having an "in" "incubation/reference" and "out" box helps to create a trusted system that reduces your stress levels and increases the quality of your work time. Finally, having the confidence and mindset that your trusted system will empower you to better performance gives you a calmness and sense of direction that minimizes stress ans increases productivity.
Certainly there is much more to David Allen's sytem than what I have mentioned above. By simply using just a few of the key elements he discusses and applying them toward your work you'll find you have a new, happy sense of organization that instantly lifts your spirits and dimishes your doubts. This all leads to a more productive you!