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.
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!
I've attended some Webex Sessions at work on various topics ranging from Safety & Security to How to Apply The Oz Principles of Accountability. I discovered recently that the Webex site has many free training sessions on various topics. If you learn well in this format I suggest you check out what they have to offer and take advantage of some free training opportunities from the comfort of your own living room. The training session I attended was hosted by Phil Reynolds of The Ken Blanchard Companies.
So, a few of the things that were covered which you would do well to keep in mind about offering feedback to employees are:
As with most of us delivering negative or "constructive" feedback can sometimes be an anxious prospect when you anticipate the types of responses you might get when you inform someone that they're not doing a very good job. If you have just arrived at your post, and don't know your staff very well, or for very long, it's awfully difficult to feel and sound credible when dishing out negative feedback, even when your eyes and gut tell you that what you've seen is justifiably bad. If employees haven't received clear instructions, or are otherwise foggy about what the departmental goals are for performance you face a possibly difficult situation, but one better to be regarded as a chance to outline and reinforce what messages that need to be conveyed. In future meetings you can then be certain that proper communication has occurred and your report knows what is expected of them.
Preparation prior to a feedback session would be key to helping you gather yourself and understand what is smart to say and what is wise to omit. For example, running down a list of documented deficiencies or demerits, while merited by the floundering employee, is unlikely to turn things around. Much better to be factual, objective, recent, and focus on future outcomes and results. Preparing for a feedback session inspires me to think about a negotiation where two parties are representing their interests in the hope for mutual gain. The employee hopes for a healthy raise and the manager for a clear understanding of the employee's mental state and commitment as well as hope for greater future performance.
Consider a collaborative effort when planning your feedback session but keep in mind that people must be held accountable for their actions if your culture and performance is to remain healthy.
A few days ago I finished reading The Personal MBA and now my head is spinning. It's a wonderful feeling to have a sudden point of reference to help you identify what you need to know, what you don't know, but also the things you knew all along (but maybe didn't have the confidence in your ability to trust your insight and wisdom). As Josh Kaufman mentions early on in his book, The Personal MBA is as much a reference as anything else. You don't need to read the book through in one sitting but rather use it as a guide to test various areas of knowledge and learn the 200+ skills, traits and priciples included for your personal and proffesional growth.
I borrowed my copy of The Personal MBA from the King County Library system in keeping with the idea that I'm budgeting my personal education, my DIYMBA, as low cost as possible. I will have to purchase a copy to refer back to because Josh's book is going to be a valuable reference for me in the coming months as I begin to explore various topics that I don't have much working knowledge with. Amazon, here I come!
What's so great about Josh Kaufman's Personal MBA? He provides his readers with exactly what he promised. Outlined in related chapters are distilled insights, laws, rules, anecdotes, examples and guides to help you quickly analyze a situation and make decisions. After reading a few pages in Personal MBA about how to analyze production problems, then synthesize what the solutions might be I instantly realized I had just learned something without any effort. I now have a decision tree of sorts, there's no mystery in my mind about what factors I need to consider when looking at a similar real-life issue.
This book would be an excellent option for someone cutting their teeth in their first management gig, or even someone with a few years under their belt who was likely promoted as a star performer but not given much training on what a "manager" really is. It appears to me that this is a common scenario in today's business world and is the likely cause of high turnover in many companies.
I'm also finding that there is so much chit chat about "Leadership" nowadays that I feel a nearly insurmountable burden of learning awaits my every effort to gain proficiency in these modern "must-have" skill sets that have popped up in pop business culture. As an example yesterday on Twitter I spotted a tweet about Cultural Intelligence. Okay, I thought, this must be a variation on the theme of Emotional Intelligence, and of course we see no shortage of EI reading material on the internet. Is this the new buzzword in pop business lingo on the internet and twitter? Not sure about that but I do know that by following the reading list in Personal MBA I got my hands on a copy of First, Break All The Rules by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman. I'm only 75 pages in, and will blog about this great(!) book later, but I already know I need to take this new term, Cultural Intelligence, and distill it down to the essentials, then act from there.
Go get yourself a copy of Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman and watch your confidence, your insight and your ability to act appropriately soar. Thanks Josh!
Steve Gutzler is originally from Issaquah, WA which is where I attended his presentation entitled Emotional Intelligence. Only a week or so before his presentation I found Steve on Twitter and looked at his content to help give myself a warm-up preview of the concept of EI.
I enjoy following Steve on Twitter (@SteveGutzler) because he frequently reminds me to take a deep breath and appreciate who I am and what I already have. Deep breathing, Steve taught me, is one of the best ways to reduce cortisol in the blood stream. Cortisol is not to be taken lightly because it has a very powerful negative effect on your immune system. Another great strategy is simply creating time and space between you and something that is stressing you out. Give yourself a buffer, take a break, gain some perspective, and come back to the issue with renewed optimism and a relaxed and creative demeanor.
Since Steve's presentation I find myself thinking back to his constant message focused on appreciating the good in life in order to truly harness the power you have to make a positive impact on those around you. Thanks Steve!
Goals are Useless if You Don't Know What Motivates You- an interactive presentation by Kathy Clayton
I am very pleased to have attended a presentation by Kathy Clayton last week. Sponsored by the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce, Mrs. Clayton demonstrated that it's not just what you hope to achieve, but why. To take things one step further, her expertise in personal goal setting exposed the necessity of accurately evaluating your current strengths and habits as a means of realistically determining the likelihood that you could achieve your desired goals in the future.
Upon learning about this seminar I remember thinking "Well, it couldn't hurt to revisit goal setting." Setting goals is something I do quite frequently, it helps me keep score with myself, helps give me concrete evidence of my envisioned progress in learning, exercise or however I apply goals to my life. What wasn't expected was the fresh perspective on the psychology behind goal setting on a personal level and gaining a clear understanding of myself, similar in ways to a SWOT Analysis performed on yourself.
Mrs Clayton's presentation was interesting and insightful. Your current goals have beliefs and intentions attached to them, cycles and patterns. Of course motivations also factor in along with emotions that may trigger shutdowns. If you shut down, how do you get started again? With an awareness of yourself honed by observations about your patterns, characteristics and of course willingness to change.
An additional goodie that Kathy Clayton brought to attention is the Enneagram (www.EnneagramInstitute.com). I've taken the abridged version of the test, though my results were inconclusive. For $10 it looks like a great way to gain some insight into yourself.
If you have a chance to interact with Kathy Clayton you'll come out wiser and better prepared to handle your future. She gave me a lot to digest mentally, and my reading and research list just grew a little bit larger. Well worth the time and effort! Thanks Kathy!