Archive for January, 2011
Human resources have been managed in much the same way for 30 years.
The environment has changed, the media has changed, the tools have changed, and this is producing effects that companies often do not know how to manage.
In the past the control was applied, nowadays you have to manage the privacy of the employee, the flexible working hours and the social benefits. In the past you had to manage the effort, now you have to manage the talent. In the past the industry was managed, and now people in offices are managed. Initiatives such as teleworking and flexible working hours, or pay for targets in these new environments are often very difficult or almost impossible to implement.
A new management 2.0 based on metrics will be required in order to confront this new paradigm. A policy of transparency and awareness regarding the employee’s contribution. An objective basis for management and decision-making that also respects the privacy of individuals.
We need new policies and adequate tools for present and future, to ensure continuous improvement and enabling emerging trends in human resources management.
Companies will have to continue adapting these new methodologies, unless they will be surprised by management problems, productivity, safety … etc.
WorkMeter provides the necessary assistance to start this transition and assist companies in implementing new methodologies and processes with HR. For a cost of less than 1% of an employee’s salary, and exceptional ROI (sometimes only 1 week), this productivity management platform enables metrics to be a transparent and objective concept, allowing many of the initiatives that this new human resources management is demanding, and also significantly improving the time management and productivity of employees.
You wake up with the perfect plan for the perfect day. This is the day you’re going to catch-up & relieve yourself of the terrible stress of coming home each day overwhelmed that you haven’t gotten all of your work done.
Fast-forward to the end of the day; you’re driving home utterly dejected at the thought of yet another day of endless e-mail. Another day in which everything you wanted to get done, everything that was important to YOU, was still left to do as the night sky fell on your day.
Sound familiar? How often do you wish you hadn’t opened up your e-mail? This past Friday, amongst a series of quick tips on productivity, I also wrote about NOT starting your day with e-mail, but rather one significant task that you need to complete.
Let’s face it, after many years of trying, no matter how good you get at providing alternative means for people to communicate, you just can’t seem to get away from the tsunami that e-mail often represents to what should have been a perfectly productive day. What makes it worse, is that you are NOT an innocent bystander. By having consciously chosen to open your e-mail first thing in the morning, you have opened up Pandora’s Box.
And yet again your day will be planned out for you by others, instead of you having minimal control.
The other day I heard a phrase that stated; “you’ll never be promoted for being an excellent e-mail, but you’ll surly be fired for not delivering on required goals”. So why have you become so addicted to e-mail?
Turn push & alerts off – Be purposeful in your activities
If a squeaky wheel is consistently in your ear, you’re going to stop what you’re doing to oil it. Be purposeful & retrieve your e-mails when you’re ready to deal with them, especially until you have built up your new e-mail behavior.
Plan your e-mail breaks
Just like any other part of the day that you want to be in control of, get used to planning your e-mail breaks. That’s right, let’s call them e-mail “breaks”. When you first wake-up, instead of opening your e-mail or checking your Blackberry, kiss the wife, go have a cup of coffee, breakfast, spend time with the kids, & make sure they’re set for their new day.
If you took my previous tip, you reviewed your past day last night & structured the respective new day to be a better one. When you first walk into the office get right down to business & knock-out that first significant task. Today, just for today, schedule yourself no more than 2 x 1 hour breaks to read e-mail.. somewhere around 10am & 4pm.
E-mail as a file folder
And guess what, if in order to access that work-file you need to access your e-mail, then approach your e-mail like a file folder on your hard drive. Go in & extract ONLY what you need, instead of giving-in to the temptation of reading your e-mails.
Filter your e-mail
Apply filters so that e-mail from important people, your boss, clients, etc.. automatically goes into separate folders for you to address when you’re ready. Avoid going into an unstructured general “Inbox”.
Hunt & peck your e-mail
Don’t read your e-mail from top/bottom. Be purposeful & scan the “from” & “subject”. Open ONLY those e-mails that are relevant to the work you’re performing at-the-moment, or things you know you need to address now.
Leave casual reading & other distractions that will take you off in a tangent for the coffee, lunch or evening break.
Action your e-mail
Even if that means re-marking it as “unread” and assigning a task for yourself to complete something more significant. If you can address an e-mail within 1-2 minutes, do it immediately, otherwise trash-it, schedule it for later casual reading or action.
Just try it
I can hear all of the reasons why none of this will work.. I’ve heard them all before.
Can I just ask you to try it for one day? If it seems to work, try it a 2nd day? And if someone gets upset that you took too long to answer their urgent e-mail, was really that urgent? Was it really urgent to YOUR job & deliverables that you had to complete? If so, teach your colleagues to come see you, or ring you when they’ve got something REALLY urgent.
Guest Blog by JC Duarte; The Strategy Guy
We all know that holidays are a great period, when families gather to spend more time together, people buy gifts for their loved ones, everyone is celebrating and the work productivity….decreases.
As an employee it;s normal for you to feel more tired at the end of the year and tend to daydream of holidays, Christmas parties or rest.
It is not a surprise that you are less productive around holidays, the true problem is that your productivity tends to decrease two weeks before Christmas and it continues the next two weeks in January, according to various researches made by deeply PRODUCTIVITY professionals.
Distractions met during the month of December as parties and celebrations, legal holidays, extra vacation, bowl games, shopping and presents, and most of all, the pressure you feel to meet the holiday expectations of those around you can cause serious stress times and you can easily loose the focus and concentration you need at your work, resulting in a decresed productivity and poor results.
So, what can you do in order to spend some great holidays with your family and also mantain an adequate level of your work productivity?
First of all, you should make a list with the most important tasks you must finish and the period of time you assign to each task.
Having your time management well balanced, will give yourself the right amount of time to complete your projects and make extra time for your family and friends.
One of the greatest tools that I have personally tried and that will help you get organized and avoid things getting out of control is WorkMeter, a software that will help you make objective decisions based on real facts, bringing performance and high results in you work. If you want to find out about the benefits WorkMeter brings and how it works please read carefully the information presented in its official site: www.workmeter.com
Secondly you should let your collegues and clients know what;s going to be your scheduele at least with two weeks before Christmas, so they will not come with demands in the last minute. Before you leave let your clients know who is the person that;s going to replace you during your absence, otherwise you risk being called during the holidays and you will have to do all your Christmas shopping in the last minute and in a non-traditional manner, similar to the people in the video below:
In order to avoid such situations, you can 1) update your calendar and note any important event or meeting that you do not want to miss and have to postpone it for later.
2) Secondly, if your inbox sometimes grabs you by the neck and suffocates you, don;t you think that during Christmas things will change or improve, actually it;s going to be worse. Advertisments, Christmas greetings, special offers, these are just some of the “buddies” that will keep company to your daily work mails.
It is a good idea cleaning your Inbox before and especially after Christmas, so you will start the new year with a fresh inbox and a fresh mind.
3)Traveling during holidays is not one of the best options, because the airports are stuffier, there isn’t a seat to be had, constant announcements, gate changes and delays, just the kind of things you really want to avoid during holidays. If yet is extremely necessarily for you to travel during holidays, prepare yourself for worst case scenarios: keep the airline’s reservations office number with you in case your flight is going to be
canceled and call the airline, or download from the airline’s site, to find out their policy in case of delays, before you buy your plane ticket.
4) And last, but not least, don;t forget that Christmas is a time to be happy and leave behind all the problems and worries you dealed with during the year, so simply enjoy these holidays with the people you most love.
Whilst reading “How the Internet Affects Productivity” by Mika Hannula & Antti Lönnqvist, I was compelled to share my outrage at the irresponsible “blame-game” ineffective typical management insists on playing to cover-up their own inefficiency & mismanagement.
For the record; “the execution of an idea is always more brilliant than the thought“, and the Productivity Paradox that so many books & papers have been written on has more to do with the false measurement methods and conceptual misunderstandings applied, than it does looking for someone other then ourselves to blame!
In this blog post you’ll find examples of, and learn how / about;
- The Internet is NOT to blame for productivity loss
- The do-or-die relevance of having a strategic plan
- The mistake of ignoring critical measurements
- Productivity is NOT about speed
Reality Check #1 – The Internet is here to stay!
The use of the Internet is NO longer an option! If you haven’t figured this out yet, then you might as well find the rock you just crawled out from beneath and quickly get back under it. Better yet, just bury your head in the sand like an ostrich and wait until the next ice-age hits.
Think about your last purchase for a minute, what’s more productive? Placing an add in a magazine, billboard or an intrusive pop-up in a web browser.. or a recommendation from a trusted source? Imagine an online marketplace, such as Linqia, where companies identify, connect and engage with masses of highly targeted consumers participating in online communities and groups. A +30% engagement rate would be proof enough for me to realize that the Internet is The Place to promote my offering instead of old-school printed media.
When you’re looking to wine & dine your sweetheart, or evaluating your next holiday option, do you search on-line before going to the travel agent? That’s if you even bother to leave your house & go to the agent in the first place. Who do you trust more? The experiences of your peers as recounted through pictures & stories, or those looking to profit from you booking a picture postcard illusion?
The issue with the Internet these days is that corporations don’t take the time to establish an effective strategy, including the necessary education for you to be effective. You can either spend the rest of the day doing Google searches and be overwhelmed by information overload, or you can be educated & given the narrow focus that will lead you to the promise-land of scalable / highly valuable on-line content.
Reality Check #2 – You HAVE to have a plan!
Jim Rohn is noted for stating; “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.” As in life.. in business! Is there really any difference? If you don’t have a plan, better yet.. an effective plan, than I can guarantee you’ll soon find yourself on someone else’s journey!
1st, don’t blame your employees if they’re surfing the internet instead of doing “productive” work unless you’ve thought about the expected outcome (effective = outcome focus) of the tasks they’re performing as it relates to your over-all success strategy.
2nd, guarantee your staff understands (have them repeat it back to you) your strategy, how it relates to their tasks, and how their individual contributions will contribute toward your success. That’s called the buy-in process, and it’s the primary difference between successfully executing on an idea vs. just having a brilliant thought!
Oh, and if your plan is to block “non-productive” internet sites, such as YouTube, Facebook, etc.. think again.. you better confiscate their smartphones when they walk through the doors in the morning as well. Unless your people are part of your success plan, then it’s not a success plan to begin with.
Reality Check #3 – If you can’t measure it, you can’t achieve it!
“In life, as in football, you won’t go far unless you know where the goalposts are.” – Arnold H. Glasgow
Have you ever driven around in circles because you didn’t have a GPS System? Well that’s about as effective as you’ll be if you don’t have appropriate measurements of where you are.. where you want to be.. by when.. and in what condition when you get there. There’s far too much focus on throwing tools at problems instead of first understanding them. A faster car will only increase the speed at which you drive around in circles!
The majority of productivity issues I’ve seen in organizations have absolutely EVERYTHING to do with lack of planning & strategy, and less to do with lacking technology. Technology is a facilitator, and it’s also been known to facilitate / speed your rapid decline when you aren’t conscious how quickly that hole you’ve dug yourself into is getting deeper by the second.
Of the most effective measurement tools I’ve found to-date to improve productivity has been a little app called WorkMeter. WorkMeter WORKS because it’s much more than just about comparing input vs. output. Thinking that productivity is that simple a consequence is just as fool hearted (as Peter Drucker would say) as the single greatest error and deception of our modern accounting system. Which is that PEOPLE are listed in the “liability” column as compared to the “asset” column of corporate balance-sheets.
Reality Check #4 – Productivity is NOT about speed!
Have you ever heard the phrase beauty is in the eyes of the beholder? Well, unless you realize that value is to beauty as beholder is to customer, then you’ll NEVER be productive. Worse yet, you’ll never be effective! Productivity is LESS about how fast you achieve something, and more about how EFFECTIVELY you achieve it.
Who is your customer? If you’re in business, regardless of leadership role, you have both internal & external customers. Internal customers are the colleagues that are co-dependent on you in some form to get their own job done. Whether a colleague awaiting your revision of their concept, a component in a larger over-all process, or the guy in the next cubicle who’s mood you influence with your own. External customers are those who see the beauty, and therefore value, in your products.. leading them to purchase more.
Take the example of a Hollywood screenwriter whose productivity is measured in words typed per minute instead of the quality of the output. What’s the goal? To get a script written quickly, or to have an interesting script that an audience is willing to fill a movie house to watch? In the first case, the pace at which it’s written counts, not the quality of the screenplay itself. How likely are you to shell out your hard earned cash to go watch this movie? This is a typical example of poor productivity measurement. The effectiveness of the output of a writer contributes to the productivity of the writing process, since the customer finally defines the writer’s unit output. The effectiveness of the text written by the writer is without any doubt noticed by the customer, and the over-ruling measurement of productivity!
In summary, if you want to have effective productivity.. true productivity, you need
- An Effective Plan
- Employee Buy-in (Momentum, Enthusiasm & Alignment)
- Understand Your Internal & External Customer’s True Needs & Perceptions
- Measure, Act / Adjust & Measure Again (Incremental Progress Toward a Predefined Outcome)
- Educate, Acknowledge & Celebrate Success
- Forget Your preconceived Notion of Productivity / True Productivity = Customer Value Perception
How many of these can you CONFIDENTLY “tick-off” as complete or under-control?
Guest Blog by JC Duarte; The Strategy Guy
Whilst reading a McKinsey Quarterly document recently, I decided to add some more practical thoughts to the four barriers workers face in their daily interactions.
Their analysis focuses specifically on Knowledge Workers, which make up more than 40% of the US work force. I was quite surprised to find that they didn’t list as a key barrier “distraction”, which is the #1 enemy of productivity in any workplace.
In addressing these 4 barriers, you will bring about greater alignment & cohesion amongst your employees, increasing retention & strengthening company culture.
Step 1; Physical and technical barriers
In addition to social media tools, company intranets, yammer, etc., create Communities of Practice made up of people who could benefit from one another’s advice. Encourage your staff, and allocate time, to communicate their experiences and benefits gained through such practice communities. Encourage you team to have virtual & non-virtual lunch breaks with colleagues across disciplines with your organization by getting them outside of the comfort zones.
Bridge any physical distances through the usage of electronic tools with viedo-conferencing and occasional in-person meetings.
Step 2; Social or cultural barriers
Engagement is key to success, so start with your new hire orientation, and then rehire your existing employees all over again. Create a series of case studies by having your team share practical examples that shine on your company Values, Mission, Vision, and how your processes & norms contribute to their integrity. Encourage a culture of knowledge sharing and collaborative problem solving, including these items within your periodic performance reviews and ensure team leaders clearly communicate what’s expected, whilst setting an example. Foster & leverage communities of practice which will help your staff be more engaging.
Communicate & keep all of these successes highly visible! In addition to technology tools like an intranet, hang signs, post bulletin boards, white boards, flip charts, etc. Make it visual!
Step 3; Contextual barriers
Rotate employees across teams and or divisions so that they get a wider understanding for what’s going on outside of their own silos, and a better comprehension as to what activities they can influence with this added clarity. Create company forums, online through your intranet, or off-line where your staff can share knowledge & experiences across disciplines. Encourage your team to have lunch with a colleague from a new area of your organization on a bi-weekly basis & watch the contextual barriers come down like a house of bricks.
Step 4; The barrier of time
Perform an analysis of where people are spending their time. Ensure that job roles & responsibilities are updated, understood & appropriate for the results you expect from your staff (teams & individuals). Then quantify the gap between expected activity / results vs. actual activity / results. Take the respective learnings & transition them into new habits.
How are these barriers impacting your current environment? What steps can you take to start addressing them immediately? Remember, the longest journey starts with a first single step.
Guest Blog by JC Duarte; The Strategy Guy