Archive for June, 2011

How Facebook(ing) Can Improve Work Productivity

In a study dating back almost 2 years ago, Melbourne University’s department of Marketing & Management demonstrated how a workforce that takes planned work breaks with Facebook is actually 9% more productive.

The fundamentals behind why this works can be found in guaranteeing the appropriate strategy, effective communication & engagement principles so that a workforce can plan for success. It’s about finding the right rhythm & planning your 60-90 minute work sprints.

Social networks are NOT the problem

The problem most companies are facing today isn’t the Internet or Social Media, it’s the lack of effective Leadership. 86% o senior executive agree that the biggest challenge is to mobilize their workforce, yet 53% of staff are unable to explain their companies strategy. What’s wrong with this picture? Leadership is about setting direction & delegating, it’s about using a “story-telling cascade” to build a shared and compelling narrative about the need for change.. or the results you expect to achieve. The competitive advantage of the twenty-first century is increasingly derived from hard-to-copy intangible assets such as company culture and leadership effectiveness.

People Strategies First

Leveraging insight from Beyond Performance: How Great Organizations Build Ultimate Competitive Advantage; Charles Darwin’s observation that “the fittest win out at the expense of their rivals because they succeed in adapting themselves best to their environment” may have become something of a cliché in the literature on change management, but it has never rung more true in the business world. The ability to manage an organization dynamically so that it can both shape its environment and rapidly adapt to it is becoming the most important source of competitive advantage in the twenty-first century. Success is about winning not just in the marketplace for customers, but also in the marketplace for talented employees.

The role of business in society is changing. As we work more and socialize less, the time we have left for traditional activities involving our family, our local community, and our religious institutions is declining. As a result, our sense of meaning and identity is increasingly derived from the workplace (our jobs) and the marketplace (the products and service we buy). The message is that talented employees are not content to be cogs in a machine geared to hitting quarterly performance numbers. They want to work in dynamic workplaces where they feel empowered to make meaningful, positive change happen.

You Can’t Manage What You Can Measure

Once you’ve got your people strategy effectively in place, what mechanisms will you use to measure active contribution toward company results? How will you address the 7 simple questions that drive your strategic plans; Who, What, When, Where, How, Why? And most importantly, how will you answer the always difficult “but Should we or Shouldn’t we?” questions?

By empowering your team with a solid Vision and aligning them around agreed strategies, you’ll also need to ensure a fine balance of productive work sprints coupled with recovery breaks.

Why not let them Facebook when you know you’re already getting he very best out of your people? What measurements do you have in place that give you confidence of how your team is engaging their available productive capacity?

June 27, 2011 at 12:39 pm

How-To Fix the Open Space Syndrome

Let’s be honest.. the advent of Open Space Offices had more to do with economics than productivity. That said, other than death & taxes, every challenge has a (or various) solution(s).

The current work environment provided by most employers who support an Open Space layout is highly unproductive for getting work done at work. Interruptions & easy distractions are only a few inconvenient truths of why an open space working environment can become highly unproductive. That’s what I call “Open Space Syndrome”.

Open spaces are economical solutions for housing employees, and in the right configuration can still gain effective transversal (cross functional area) awareness without compromising the concentration required to deliver effective results.

Here are some solutions I’ve found to help open spaces become more productive.

Focus Time

If you have to do work that requires focus & concentration, find a quite & unused space in or around your office building. The secluded corner table of the coffee shop downstairs, the park bench across the street, the conference room that’s not in use, the library down the street or even the office cafeteria during off-peak hours. These are all spaces that you can move to in order to get important work done.

The pre-requisit is that your management team has realized the benefit of fitting out the office with laptop computers connected to docking stations or keyboard, mouse & screens. Given the increased computing power of portable computers and the flexibility of cloud computing based storage solutions, Desktop computers are dinosaurs / anchors that just don’t cut it anymore.

Visual Hints

Have you ever seen an “on-air” sign in a radio or television station? Do you remember the last time you walked into a bank, took a number & headed to the information desk? Those are only a few practical reminders of things you can do in your open space office environment in order to get more work done. If you’re part of a work team, agree amongst yourselves a rotating “customer service” schedule to take questions and issues from other departments & functional areas. Make it visibly clear who’s “on-call” by placing a bright tennis ball on the screen of the person providing Customer Service.. or get even more creative and make-up a sign to hang somewhere visible.

Another effective tip is to put headphones on, even if you don’t want to listen to music, so that people will assume that you’re taking an online course, speaking on Skype or indeed focused on a task whilst listening to music.

Semi-Open Spaces

Glass partitioning works best to provide an open-plan feel and still be conducive to “noise” cancelation. Glass partitioning also provides the added benefit have creating more “white-board” space to draw up brilliant half-baked ideas & capture spur of the moment brainstorms.

In an earlier article this year, I highlighted how the MCI Group has developed a really inspiring open-plan workspace in their Zurich offices.

The above are only a few effective solutions & I’d like to hear yours. If you’re working in an open space & have found handy tricks to maximize your productive moments in-spite of the challenges, I’d love to hear / read your experiences.

June 20, 2011 at 11:21 am

How your business is slowly dying

Every business expert will agree that “you can’t manage what you cant’s measure”, yet most of you reading this post are slowly killing your companies prospects to profitably grow because you don’t have the appropriate measurements in place.

In your case, “the gap” is the space between your perception and reality. According to a recent survey conducted by 3S in 305 Iberian based mid-size companies, only 37% of senior executives categorized their companies as very good or excellent at executing strategy. When we scratched deeper below the surface, we found that more than 50% of employees were disengaged with their company’s strategy, and that 31% recognized they didn’t have the necessary measures in place to ensure effective execution of their strategies to reach required business results for success.

Flying Blind

76.8% of the companies admitted to flying blind (perception based), without the necessary performance measurements to determine if their strategies were successful or not. The same figure of 23% blamed the current economy as the cause that limits their capacity to grow.

With numbers that evident, you can only cringe at the wasted productive capacity, and it’s no wonder that companies are in the troubles they are in today. Imagine +76% of the planes in the sky flying around with no radar for day.. would you get on a plane that day? This is shear madness, yet having worked across 5 continents over the past 26 years, I can confirm this isn’t unique to Iberia, it’s just more severe here.

Flying with Radar

What are you currently doing to measure the performance & productivity of your team?

You don’t have to go immediately overboard and jump straight into a full fledged Human Performance Technology Program. You should start out slow.. take baby steps with a Productivity Management tool like WorkMeter. Easy to implement & even easier to use, it engages your employees in discovering how to transform learning into more productive habits. Unlike other “performance monitoring” tools, WorkMeter is an educative “performance analysis” tool, and the best one I’ve used to date that helps me quickly experience increased results. It’s employee friendly nature fosters internal healthy competitive growth & development without management having to step in. Once you set the strategy, your team does the work & the learning themselves.

Eliminate the Gap

Don’t hold your finger to the wind to figure out if a storm is coming! Plan purposefully with concrete data & facts that will have you better predict the future of your organization based on historical trends. Join the new era of empowered organizations that confidently determine their own future success based on solid metrics. The execution of an idea is always more important than the brilliance of the thought, so stop dreaming about being more productive and get down to measuring it so you can manage it.

The growth of an organization is simply the accumulated growth of the individual relationships that constitute it, and it now rests on your shoulders to eliminate the gap created by perception by empowering your employees with metrics (measurements) they can learn, develop & grow from.

June 6, 2011 at 4:43 pm


Productivity tips

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