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Via Forbes : Think about how project meetings typically happen: first, you get your people gathered together. This can take place in a physical room, a virtual room, or you can have a bit of both going on. Then everyone spends some time talking about the project, or report, or whatever the stated achievement of the meeting was. In the last portion of the meeting, folks either volunteer to do some part of the work or it gets assigned to them. After that, everyone goes off on their own and completes their piece of the pie. Project completed.

Folks on the team TISI -1.63% may never see the work done by the other people in that meeting and, depending on the project, some folks may never even see the final product. It’s the way we’ve done it for years, and while a lot of Gen Xers and Boomers may not have liked it, they accepted it. Sadly, it resembles high school for many of us: learn some stuff in class, get a homework assignment, go home and do the assignment, turn it in the next day, and then start learning a different set of stuff.

Enter Millennials into the workplace. Their love of community and collaboration is impacting how we work, including how we run our meetings. Their collaborative style has led to a new kind of meeting called a ‘No Homework Meeting.’ They’re a fun and productive way to get discrete projects done while nurturing the attitudes of teamwork and innovation that so many companies want. Here’s how it works.

Instead of coming into the meeting, discussing the work at a high level and then dividing up the work to be done solo, in a No Homework Meeting everyone actually comes into the room with the intention of completing the project, right there, together.

Let’s say you’re working on a big proposal for revamping some of the technology in your company. With the old way, you’d come together, discuss the technology, and then everyone would take a piece of the work and go back to their desk to do their ‘homework.’ But with a No Homework Meeting, you all sit there together and work on the proposal until it’s done. Someone says “OK, here’s line one,” and someone else says, “Great, here’s line two,” and someone else says “I think we should change this paragraph, pricing, deadline date,” whatever it is. Everyone rolls up their sleeves and works together until the project is done. And no one has to go back to their desk and do homework, because there is no homework.

If you have Millennial children, you’ll recognize that this is how they often use technology to collaboratively get their homework done. They’re on their cell or video chatting with a few of their friends, while everyone is looking at the homework assignment online.

But notwithstanding that this is a very Millennial way to work, even Boomers and Xers (like me) have already experienced this style of meeting. Imagine that you’re part of a group that’s going to give a presentation at a conference in an hour. But you’ve just learned that one of the topics you planned to discuss now has to be deleted. What would you do? Of course, you’d gather the team, someone would open their laptop with the presentation and you’d sit together tweaking slides until it was time to go on stage. There wouldn’t be any individual work, you’d all be huddled around a laptop, sleeves rolled-up, fixing the deck. You’d hate the fact that you were being rushed, but otherwise it would be highly productive and collaborative. And that’s basically how a No Homework Meeting operates (minus the panicky rushed feeling).

There are loads of new technologies that can make No Homework Teams even more productive and fun (who said work can’t be fun?). One example is Google GOOGL -1.92% Docs, which allows for real-time simultaneous editing of a document. The team can work on the same document, at the same time, anywhere on the globe, from up to 50 computers. So 10 people can be around the world working on this document and they can watch each other creating new content, deleting, moving content around and formatting. Microsoft MSFT -1.28% also has an alternative that does the same basic thing. There are lots of technologies that allow simultaneously collaboration and a lot of them are free and really easy to use. (Here’s a list of collaboration applications)

But what do employees think of No Homework Meetings? Well, we already know that most Millennials are going to love this. But let’s take a look at some feedback from some Boomers and Gen Xers I recently surveyed who experienced a No Homework Meeting:

From a technology company: “We were huddled in a room with a big whiteboard walking through the project step by step. I went home that day thinking how much fun it was to work with great people in a dynamic, free-flowing, brainstorming way. I recognized how well we worked together and complemented each other with our different styles and approaches. We all applied experience from our past. We all respected the ideas of the others. We knew we had a deadline and we stayed with the task at hand until it was completed. Together, we created a giant success.”

From a manufacturing plant: “We all held each other accountable and no stone was left unturned. It was amazing what we accomplished in such little time and we ran ourselves with hardly any supervision. We all knew our duties and what needed to be done to be successful. We helped each other without even being asked.”

From a medical group: “Our No Homework Team worked on a media communications project. We had web editors, folks from marketing and people from the innovations team present both in person and online. It was energizing and fun. The collaborative atmosphere was helpful in understanding the organization’s point of view and marketing goals. The sharing of ideas and the final execution done in meeting made for a much better product than any one person could have developed. It was a great experience to be part of.”

Now, I’m not suggesting you make every meeting a No Homework Meeting. But once a month, give it a try. Observe the ways it changes how your employees connect with the organization and the innovative ways they interact with their peers.

Via Time : Not all tasks are equally important

They say that you have the same number of hours in the day as Beyonce — so why does it feel like you’re never able to get caught up on your business to-do list?

Apart from not having your own team of personal assistants, stylists and other hangers-on, it could be your habits that are keeping you from achieving your business goals. Fortunately, habits can be broken.

Here are 10 habits you should ditch right away to improve your productivity:

1. Checking email constantly

Let’s face it: We’re all guilty of wasting precious time and mental focus by over-checking email. The impact of this habit is serious, though, as checking email too frequently has been linked to lower memory function, anxiety, depression and lower performance.

The best way to overcome this bad habit is to only check email at certain times. If necessary, you can create an auto-reply email saying “I check my emails at 10 a.m., 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. I’ll respond to you as soon as possible.”

2. Scheduling weekly status meetings

Most of us have the sneaking suspicion that meetings are a huge time-waster, yet we keep scheduling them anyway. One of the biggest culprits is the weekly status meeting. Even if nothing has changed, everyone has to stop what they’re doing and attend a face-to-face meeting. Instead, try using a shared project management system,internal chat tool or Google Docs to track milestones and note what has been accomplished so far.

3. Working long hours

Studies have shown that those who work more than eight hours a day have lower productivity and higher burnout rates than those who don’t. Clocking these hours might look good, but you aren’t getting anything extra accomplished. Instead, work on being more focused during your work hours by using techniques such as time blocking. Your results will speak for themselves.

4. Waiting on the big project

When you look at your to-do list in the morning, what do you tackle first? If you tend to do the easier things first and wait on the big projects, you’ve got a bad habit. By the time you get to the important work — if you ever do — you’ll be tired, cranky and far less productive. By starting on the big project right away, you give it your best energy while saving the easy work for later in the day when you naturally have less focus and motivation.

5. Having coffee for breakfast

Almost everyone uses caffeine to wake up, but is that all you’re using? If you’re not eating breakfast, you’re missing out on important fuel for your day. After sleeping, your body is dehydrated and hungry. If you have coffee for breakfast, you’re not giving yourself the nutrients and liquids you need, which will undoubtedly have a big impact on your productivity and mood throughout the day.

6. Not getting eight hours of sleep

Speaking of sleep, do you get your full eight hours? Most American business owners don’t, and it’s killing their productivity. Research has shown that getting five hours or less of sleep several nights in a row affects you in the same way that having a 0.10 blood alcohol level does. In addition, you’ll be more prone to mistakes, have more headaches and be more easily distracted if you don’t get enough sleep.

7. Eating lunch at your desk

You may think that you’re being more productive by skipping your lunch hour, but what happens if you spill food or a drink on a key report — or your keyboard? You could ruin your productivity for the afternoon with a simple slip-up. In addition, you’re more likely to make poor food choices and overeat if you’re eating at your desk. Do your productivity a favor and get lunch away from your desk.

8. Not taking breaks

You may think you’re more productive if you keep plugging away, but studies show that people need breaks to maintain maximum productivity. Think of a break as a way to rest, allow your brain to make new creative connections, and refocus on what’s most important. Breaks also help prevent mistakes and keep us engaged with our work.

9. Giving every task equal importance

According to the 80/20 rule, 20 percent of our tasks will produce 80 percent of our results. So why are you treating all tasks as if they’re equally important? By focusing on the most important 20 percent — which may not be your most urgent work — you’ll be significantly more productive. There’s nothing more frustrating than spending a day “fighting fires” only to realize that you didn’t accomplish your most important work.

10. Multi-tasking

You may think you’re being more productive when you try to do two things at once, but you’re fooling yourself. Your brain may be good at switching quickly between tasks, but it still causes a loss of focus, creativity and productivity. By focusing on one task at a time, you’ll get more done overall.

Having bad habits is common, but they can be overcome. By focusing on breaking these 10 productivity-killing habits, you’ll dramatically improve your effectiveness, making it possible to accomplish whatever business goals you’ve set for yourself.

Via Inc. : Some days, nothing seems to go right, no matter how hard you try. Read these inspiring words to get you through a particularly difficult day.

If you’re having one of those days, here are 41 quotes that will inspire you to pick yourself up and keep going.

1. “The best way to cheer yourself is to try to cheer someone else up.” –Mark Twain

2. “It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.” –Babe Ruth

3. “Problems are not stop signs; they are guidelines.” –Robert Schuller

4. “Remember that guy that gave up? Neither does anyone else.” –Unknown

5. “When you come to the edge of all that you know, you must believe one of two things: There will be ground to stand. Or you will grow wings to fly.” –O.R. Melling

6. “It’s better to be in the arena, getting stomped by a bull, than to be up in the stands or out in the parking lot.” –Steven Pressfield

7. “Success isn’t permanent and failure isn’t fatal; it’s the courage to continue that counts.” –Mike Ditka

8. “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.” –Mary Anne Radmacher

9. “You shouldn’t focus on why you can’t do something, which is what most people do. You should focus on why perhaps you can, and be one of the exceptions.” –Steve Case

10. “Watch the sunrise at least once a year, put a lot of marshmallows in your hot chocolate, lie on your back and look at the stars, never buy a coffee table you can’t put your feet on, never pass up a chance to jump on a trampoline, don’t overlook life’s small joys while searching for the big ones.” –H. Jackson Brown Jr.

11. “When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hold on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” –Harriet Beecher Stowe

12. “There’s nothing wrong or evil about having a bad day. There’s everything wrong with making others have to have it with you.” –Neil Cavuto

13. “Someday everything will make perfect sense. So, for now, laugh at the confusion, smile through the tears, and keep reminding yourself that everything happens for a reason.” –Unknown

14. “Some days you tame the tiger. And some days the tiger has you for lunch.” –Tug McGraw

15. “The one law that does not change is that everything changes, and the hardship I was bearing today was only a breath away from the pleasures I would have tomorrow, and those pleasures would be all the richer because of the memories of this I was enduring.” –Louis L’Amour

16. “You make mistakes. Mistakes don’t make you.” –Maxwell Maltz

17. “Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.” –Dale Carnegie

18. “There is neither happiness nor unhappiness in this world; there is merely the comparison of one state to the other. Only a man who has felt ultimate despair is capable of feeling ultimate bliss.” –Alexandre Dumas

19. “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” –Thomas Edison

20. “It’s just a bad day. Not a bad life.” –Unknown

21. “You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” –Maya Angelou

22. “Life is short. Smile while you still have teeth.” –Unknown

23. “Don’t be discouraged. It’s often the last key in the bunch that opens the lock.” — Unknown

24. “No one is going to hand me success. I must go out and get it myself. That’s why I’m here. To dominate. To conquer. Both the world and myself.” –Unknown

25. “Things don’t go wrong and break your heart so you can become bitter and give up. They happen to break you down and build you up so you can be all that you were intended to be.” –Samuel Johnson

26. “Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.” –Babe Ruth

27. “The happiest people don’t necessarily have the best of everything, they just make the best out of everything that comes their way.” –Unknown

28. “When things are bad, we take comfort in the thought that they could always get worse. And when they are, we find hope in the thought that things are so bad they have to get better.” –Malcolm S. Forbes

29. “What lies behind you and what lies in front of you pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson

30. “Pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever.” –Lance Armstrong

31. “You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” –Gautama Buddha

32. “The only time you fail is when you fall down and stay down.” –Stephen Richards

33. “Count your age by friends, not years. Count your life by smiles, not tears.” –John Lennon

34. “Tough times never last, but tough people do.” –Robert H. Schuller

35. “If you’re reading this … Congratulations, you’re alive. If that’s not something to smile about, then I don’t know what is.” –Chad Sugg

36. “Every single day is a good day no matter how bright or dark it is, because it always brings an opportunity to start a positive beginning in your life.” –Edmond Mbiaka

37. “For every minute you are angry you lose 60 seconds of happiness.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson

38. “Being happy doesn’t mean you’re perfect. It just means you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections.” –K.B. Indiana

39. “Every day may not be good, but there’s something good in every day.” –Unknown

40. “You don’t develop courage by being happy in your relationships everyday. You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.” –Epicurus

41. “If you are feeling low or trampled, unappreciated or forgotten and you are reading this, realize it is an illusion. The hope is real, you are valued, and what lies ahead is brilliance.” –Tom Althouse

Via The Office Blend : If you’ve ever been micro-managed, you fully understand the aggravating confidence-busting results that can occur. Fear of impending failure, decreased motivation and complete disengagement from your work. When your supervisor doesn’t seem to understand the levity of the potential consequences — work life can become quite miserable.

However, if you are that individual doing the managing — and worry that you tend toward micromanaging — there is little advice to actually help “save you” from yourself. In many cases, it may feel that the root of micromanaging begins with the behavior of a struggling employee. However, there is another perspective to consider.

Setting personality characteristics aside — your need to micro-manage could be the result of neglecting a few, very necessary best practices.

So, let’s explore a few ideas to help curb a tendency to micromanage:

  • Become mindful of the potential consequences. Pause and consider that you need to support an employee, not badger them. Ultimately, you cannot control every individual action — and if you try do so you — you squelch autonomy, independent thought and growth. However, the worst outcomes are yet to come: the damage you will wreak upon trust and self-confidence.
  • Evaluate employee strengths in relation to assignments. If performance seems under par, have a conversation with the employee about the scope of his work in relation to his or her skill set. Sometimes an employee is simply not a fit for the work at hand, and this must be addressed in short shrift. If it becomes evident that this was a selection mistake — take actions to re-assign them.
  • Commit to communicating fully. Many performance issues have much to do with unclear performance expectations about the role or how the work should be completed (Organizational style and mores come into play). So, don’t skimp on communicating job-related information during on-boarding and the initial months of employment. Furthermore, review best practices at the start of key assignments. If you invest more time in your employee, there will be far fewer issues to potentially micromanage down the line.
  • Discuss feedback mechanisms. Individual differences reign here. What is completely overbearing to one employee “check-in wise”, may be perfectly acceptable to another. Be sure to agree upon the level of day to day supervision, that works for both you and your employee. If possible, consider utilizing technology (Trello and Basecamp, for example) to dampen your desire to look in too frequently.
  • Emphasize on-going learning & development. It seems that our work lives become more challenging by the day. As a result, your staff may require on-going training to stay prepared. If someone’s skills begin to lag behind, it is up to you ensure they have the opportunity to seek the training that they require.

Are you a recovering micro-manager? How did you stop the cycle?

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist, consultant and coach. She holds the role of Senior Consultant at Allied Talent and also serves as the Director of Thought Leadership at Kilberry Leadership Advisors.

Via Careerealism : The dictionary definition of the word “conflict” is as follows: “Serious disagreement, typically a protracted one.” “Workplace conflict” is a special kind of conflict as opposed to the kind of conflict we experience in our personal lives with family members, significant others, friends, and even neighbors. We are all guilty of indulging in hurt feelings over something or other because we didn’t get our way, or we couldn’t get someone to see things the way we do. It is part of being human.

Because we are all different, and therefore we experience the world differently, conflict is an inevitable fact of life. Whether you argue over where to go to dinner or what movie to see with your spouse, or you disagree with your boss about the newest business-related directive, you experience conflict on a regular basis. Hopefully, it is mostly conflict that is relatively easily resolved; but sometimes, the conflict you experience may be of a major kind. Marriages end because of ongoing conflicts that are never resolved. And if we are totally honest, we recognize that in some instances, even after the divorce papers are signed, individuals hold on to resentments and anger long after the ink has dried.

Workplace conflict can be a minor distraction or it can become so toxic that you dread going to work each day. You should pay attention if you are constantly at odds with co-workers, or you have to restrain yourself from yelling at your boss or walking out in a huff.

7 Questions To Ask When Dealing With Workplace Conflict

Given that workplace stress is a fact of life for most of us, what should you do about it? What is the “best way” to address it? IS there a “best way?” Consider the following questions when pondering your best course of action when trying to decide how to approach a workplace conflict.

1. What is your part in creating the conflict or in keeping the conflict going?

You may be an innocent bystander, but chances are you have played a part in creating the conflict, or perhaps you have kept the conflict going by dragging other unwitting co-workers into the conflict. Be aware of your own behavior. Dr. Phil is famous for saying, “You can be part of the problem or part of the solution.” You decide. If you find yourself embroiled in office drama on a regular basis, the first place to start looking is the mirror.

2. Do you need to be prepared to change your perspective?

Sometimes we just need to change our perception or our perspective on a problem in order to change the approach we take to solving it. Is the problem really as big an issue as you thought at first? Are there alternative ways of looking at the problem? Do you need to get more information before deciding that it is a problem in the first place? You may just need more information in order for you to feel better about whatever is going on.

3. Is the conflict related to work roles or is a personal element involved?

This question requires you to be perfectly—and perhaps brutally—honest with yourself. Are you dragging personal animosity into what should be a strictly business situation? Are you using personality differences to confuse workplace issues? Is your disagreement with your co-worker the result of philosophical or practical differences about the work, or is it because you don’t care for him or her on a personal level? You need to make sure that the conflict is what you think it is about before doing anything about it.

4. Have you tried looking at the situation from another point of view?

I know it is hard, but sometimes it really does help if you hop down off your own “high horse” and try to look at things through the eyes of the person with whom you are at odds. Is it possible that they have information that you don’t have? Is it possible that you jumped to conclusions or made assumptions (and you know what they say about people who make assumptions, don’t you?) that were wrong or made with incomplete information. Try to look at the situation from the point of view of the other person. It may help to change yours.

5. Are you wise about the battles you choose to fight?

I once had a mentor who wisely cautioned me to “pick your battles.” She would sometimes say with a sigh, “This is not a hill I want to die on.” When you are in a leadership role, this is particularly good advice I have found. You would do well to choose your battles wisely. Sometimes you just have to be willing to take a deep breath and let it go. That is the best course of action for you and your business.

6. Is the conflict deflecting your colleagues from focusing on the work to be done?

If the conflict is of the type that it will keep your colleagues from getting their work done, then it must be addressed. You need to call in the various players in the situation and address it head on. If the problem is keeping you and the other people with whom you work from getting the work done, you cannot let that continue. Toxic work environments evolve out of situations that are allowed to fester without intervention. I would offer the caution, however, that the situation needs to be handled in a face-to-face meeting. Issuing a written memo or a letter to everyone without offering them an opportunity to clear the air will only make matters worse.

7. Do you need a trusted mentor or coach with whom to discuss options?

Sometimes you just need someone with whom to talk. If you don’t have a mentor or a coach or a trusted advisor, I recommend you find one. You need someone who can look at the situation through objective eyes. Everyone needs someone with whom they can confide and with whom they have implicit trust. Your spouse may not be the best person, however. He or she is likely to take your side and help you stoke the fire of resentment and anger instead of helping you look at the situation from a different perspective. If you don’t have a trusted mentor or advisor within the company in whom you can confide, hire a coach or some other professional who will be able to give you advice based on the facts presented without all of the accompanying emotion.

Once you have considered these questions, you may be in a better position to address the workplace conflict that is currently bothering you. Take some comfort in knowing that conflict is a natural part of life. All of us experience conflict with the various people in our lives—both in our personal spheres and at work. It is part of being human. Consider how dull things might be if everyone saw things the same way and there was never any disagreement. Also consider that through conflict and honest and sincere conflict resolution, new ways of looking at your situation may even help your business grow and expand in new and unexpected ways.

Don’t shy away from conflict. At the same time, don’t become the cause of conflict yourself if you can help it. Being the office drama maker can be a killer on your professional brand. Instead, before letting yourself become embroiled in office conflict, consider the seven questions offered here, and see if you can’t become part of the solution instead of contributing further to the problem.

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