Posts Tagged ‘productivity’
Meetings can be a complete waste of time. But even when meetings are useful and necessary, spending hours in the same conference room week after week can make you and your staff a little stir-crazy. Consider these alternatives to shake things up:
- Chat with employees. You can discover a lot by simply talking with your team members in casual settings. Stop by their workstations for status updates. The conversations will be more efficient and genuine, since they won’t be swayed by their co-workers’ opinions.
- Go to the source of the problem. If you’re meeting to address a particular issue or mistake, meet where it happened. If customers are complaining about the state of your fitting rooms, meet there. If the kitchen is confusing orders, meet there. Your employees will be more focused on the issue at hand, and being on location often illuminates the cause of the problem.
- Hold a walking meeting. If you’re meeting only with one or two people, walk while you talk. The exercise will stimulate your brain, and you won’t be tempted to let the meeting go longer than it needs to.
- Go outside. As the weather gets nicer, schedule an outdoor meeting. The sunshine and fresh air will invigorate your team. Note: Choose an outdoor location that offers plenty of shade. Sunburns shouldn’t be a side effect of a meeting!
What tips do you have for breaking out of a conference room rut?
[Photo credit: www.flickr.com/photos/rkobes.]
- Save less. Be honest: How many files do you have that you never refer to? The surest way to avoid clutter is to never allow it to collect. Make your first instinct to delete an email or recycle a paper instead of storing it.
- Delegate more. Before you add an item to your to-do list, consider whether someone else should do it. Does a team member possess stronger skills or a better understanding of the issue? Could the task be a learning opportunity for a staffer?
- Message efficiently. With so many tools available, don’t default to email for communication. Set up a project blog or wiki, use instant messaging for quick exchanges, and think about when it will be more effective to talk in person or by phone.
- Do it once. Streamline recurring tasks to save time. Learn computer shortcuts for common operations. Set up AutoText entries to insert boilerplate text with a few keystrokes. As soon as you answer a common question, add it to a “Frequently Asked Questions” list that the entire staff can access.
- Clear the decks. Instead of entering the new year burdened by tradition and your previous work habits, start fresh. Remove everything from your desk and replace only the items you use daily. Move old electronic documents to an archive folder and create a customized set of files to start the new year. When you retrieve a paper file, remove all the documents and replace only those you continue to need. Bit by bit, you will streamline your workplace.
- Ensure understanding. When you talk with team members, avoid misunderstandings. Ask questions to check their grasp of what you want them to do. Example: Have them describe the first steps they will take.
- Promote action. Relinquish your role as the go-to person. Give your team members authority to act on all but the highest-stakes activities.
- Review and plan. Instead of letting your days just happen, put time on your calendar each week for planning. Review what you have accomplished, and then set your top priorities for the coming week.
- Connect. Expand your abilities with a strong network of contacts. Don’t wait for formal networking events. Devote one lunch or coffee break each week to strengthening an existing relationship or meeting with someone new.
- Relax. Make recharging a routine. To start small, take a 10-minute walk daily. Each time you do it, mark your calendar. After several days you will have a string of accomplishments you won’t want to break. Work up from there as your energy increases.
What is your best time-management tip? Answer in the comments section.
photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/oatsy40/8083161451/">oatsy40</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">cc</a>
Diversity. Mobility. Productivity. What are they good for, besides ending with '-ity'?
Not so very long ago, most people came to the office at the same time every day, dressed the same, acted the same, left at the same time and kind of meandered through the day at a steady pace.
You knew where you stood. You knew where everyone else stood, too.
Not that there wasn’t any diversity, no sir. You had women in a low-paid clerical roles, the proverbial ‘new kid’, a couple of older folks who'd been around forever and maybe even one or two people of a different race or ethnicity.
There was mobility back then, too. I mean, you could totally work from home, just not during office hours. And productivity basically meant meeting your deadlines with a couple of minutes to spare.
Back then, becoming a manager was either a matter of past achievement or favoritism and being a good manager mostly meant looking the part and telling people what to do.
Oh, wait, that part about managers is still mostly true, even though pretty much everything else has completely changed. And it worked OK back then because things were slower and the workforce was more homogenous so you didn’t need as much… finesse to lead people. But today?
Today it’s a different world. And when the world changes, the things you need to do to be successful also change. Let’s take a closer look at these same ‘ity’s’ that - if we really think about them - make it clear that the old ways of selecting and evaluating managers won't cut it any more:
People eating spicy food and going to church on different days is the least of it. You’ve got up to 4 generations on your team, 20% contingent workers (on average), different races, ethnicities and attitudes, team members all around the world and all of a sudden everyone’s an ‘individual’ and wants special attention, fabulous development opportunities and flexible working hours. Not to mention half of them aren’t even THERE on any given day.
But there it is. We can either see all this diversity as a management headache or as an opportunity to foster new ideas and ways of working. Here are some ideas about good diversity management as well as a short post about what makes diversity pay. And don't miss Tim Sackett's foundational guide to white people.
The good news is that good diversity management looks a lot like good management so we can think of good diversity management as a twofer.*
*Please note this is the ONLY time we will ever use the word ‘twofer’ in conjunction with diversity. Seriously.
WFH. OOO. AOAC. If you don’t know what at least one of these acronyms stand for you might want check your pager in case 1990’s trying to reach you. Given new innovations in mobile technology as well as recent studies correlating autonomy and engagement, isn’t it time to let people work when they want, how they want and where they want? Just a thought.
If you're just getting started with the whole 'mobile' thing, here are some tips formanaging remote workers. I also recommend Patty Azzarello’s various blog posts about how to be effective working remotely.
In an uncertain economy where doing more with less has become the new corporate black, productivity is clearly a business imperative. So why is American productivity at an all-time low? There are several culprits, although this list is not exhaustive:
- Meetings - A poorly run or unnecessary meeting costs more than you may realize in terms of productivity and opportunity. Check out this post about the hidden costs of meetings and next time you call a meeting think 'brevity,' another 'ity' word.
- Tools - As soon as you reach a critical mass of people and/or locations, the cost of not having proper collaboration tools - such as a corporate wiki where information can be shared, web and video conferencing, Internet and device access - will start to add up.
- Committees - Nothing is quite as big a time sink as not having a clear topic owner. Assign one and let them do their job. Enough said.
- Admin - A certain amount of paperwork is everyone’s lot in corporate life. However, once dealing with admin exceeds 10% of the standard work week, there’s a problem, Houston.
And guess what? If you're the manager, it's your job to help very different people - including 'locationally challenged' people - work well together and do their jobs quickly and effectively.
Diversity. Mobility. Productivity. Like I said, you need an '-ity' strategy.
It isn't always easy. But hey, that’s why managers get the big bucks and absolute power, right?
Today's featured blogger is Laura Schroeder who writes Working Girl. She is a talent management evangelist, compensation specialist and proud mother of three. You can connect with her on Twitter @WorkGal or connect on LinkedIn.