Saturday, August 29, 2009

Managing Communication

The NZ Herald published this story about a lady got the sack for sending emails that others thought were confrontational and caused ructions in the workplace.

A few points of interest to ponder come out of this story -
  • Were the emails the real issue?
  • Was her communication style behavior the real issue?
  • How do you approach your work colleagues when you have issues?
  • How do you communicate in your emails?

I have recently changed the layouts of my email's so that I have specific questions and actions bullet pointed so the receiver knows exactly what I am after. For example if I am asking a co-worker about the progress of a project I will format the email like this -

"Hi Josh,

Can you please update me on where the marketing project is at the moment. I am particularly interested in knowing -

  • Who and when will the marquee bookings be confirmed?
  • Who is co-ordinating the printing of the brochures?
  • When will the brochures be printed?
  • When can we distribute the brochures?

I look forward to your prompt reply,

Regards, Jonathon."

The plan is to get the most information out of the email recipient in one go that way you don't have to repeat yourself.

I can't help but think the sacked woman's email style was also indicative of her person-to-person style...

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Do you know where you are going? How do you know if you are going to get there?

Psychologist. Dr Alice Boyes has written some excellent posts on goals and what they mean to us.

I will share a few of my thoughts and will let you seek out Dr Boyes blog for more info.

My thoughts on goals -

  1. Write down your dreams - where do you want to finish?
  2. Work backwards - if you can see the finished product - what got you there?
  3. Separate the end point - into the different paths.
  4. Work out which path will get you where you want to be the soonest and easiest.
  5. Complete the simple path - get some wins and then start on the harder bits.

Start with the end in mind, figure out what got you there - and go at it!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Time Tracking - Lego Style

Check out this cool way of following what you do all day!

This is a very colourful way of seeing how you spend your time!

Time to move on?

It is important to know when your time is up. Time to move on and seek out new ventures.

It is also important to know when to wait for further opportunities.

How do you know when your time is up? Try these pointers -
  • Boredom. Your job holds little or no interest.

  • Lack of appreciation. You aren't being rewarded for your efforts.

  • No drive. You just can't be bothered going to work and start to take more and more sick days off.

  • Lack of career movement. Been stuck in your role for too long? A sure sign.

  • Not getting any more authority. Think you deserve it but aren't getting it?

I consider all of these as signals that your time may be up. Exiting correctly is another blog post subject that I will follow up on at a later time.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Management Glossary

Do you ever get stumped by words that others use?

How about management terminology's?

Fortunately (for the uninitiated) Business have come up with a Business Dictionary.

Here a few examples -
  • Bean Counter - An informal derogatory term for an accountant, especially one who is perceived or suggested to be overly concerned about expenditure detail;
  • Just-In-Time - JIT. A manufacturing system in which materials and components are delivered immediately before they are required, in order to increase efficiency, reduce waste and minimise storage costs;
  • Vicarious Liability - Having legal responsibility for the actions of another, e.g. the liability of an organisation for the actions of its employees.

As expected some are amusing, while others may just come in handy for the uninitiated!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

People Don't Change

Michael Kanazawa wrote this brilliant article called -

It's all about why people refuse to change.
Interestingly - people are happy to change!

They leave because they get bored or stagnant...
How's your organiztion?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Change Management

McKinsey have republished one of their great articles on Change Management and people.

Here's a brief overview -

  1. Provide purpose. People want to know what's in it for them.
  2. Reinforce the message. Emphasise the message repeatedly.
  3. Skill employees for change. Train them and prepare them before and during the change process.
  4. Consistent role models. Choose some key people to model and example the types of change that the organisation wants to achieve.

These messages are as true today as they were back in 2003 when the article was first published.

(Original article: The psychology of change management, Emily Lawson and Colin Price)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Smart Recruitment

Want people to sell your product for you? Why not use people's networks to your advantage?

The good people at Vodafone New Zealand's HR department have come up with this great angle for their recruitment drive.

"Have you been made redundant? If you are a natural sales person, or a well connected business person, we can offer you a silver lining in your redundancy cloud! This exciting challenge will appeal to a wide variety of people, and could suit those from the finance/insurance, car sales and real estate industries (husband/wife teams are very welcome too!), along with well connected sales people and business managers from any industry."

How does it work? Find people who -
  • Have been made redundant

  • Are good at selling things

  • Know people in a wide range of industry's

  • Are willing to take a risk and set themselves up as roving sales people.

It might just work...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Job Life

In the same way that careers have determined lengths of time on them so too do jobs.

The question is - how long will the job you are in last? What will you do when your current job disappears?

Change is the only constant. Jobs change, technology changes - do we change with it?

Do a stock take on your current job asking these questions -

  • If I wasn't here would anyone notice?

  • Could anyone do my job?

  • What parts of my job are specialised?

  • Which parts of my job are generic?

  • What parts of my current job will help me to gain employment in the future?

Interesting huh. By knowing what the length of life our current roles have, this can help us to focus on what to do next.

The Right Product

The secret to marketing (and business in general) is to sell the right product at the right price.

Example - last night I went to McDonald's with the family - 2 adults and 2 kids. I looked at the menu board but couldn't see any deals that were value for money that could allow everyone to eat well. So what did we do?

We went down the road to Burger King instead. Why? They have bundled dinners available after 5.30pm that gave all of us a good meal at a good price. There was - ease of choice, the price was right, everyone was happy. Plus there were plenty of customers!

You have to sell to people based on their needs, drivers and motivations - not yours.

Interestingly have an article about why McDonald's are doing well through the recession (compared to restaurants and cafes).

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


It is important to understand who you are. One part of knowing who you are is to understand what drives you. Where do you draw your motivation from? Knowing this will help you determine your actions and reactions to different situations. If you are lacking drive, energy or motivation, you may have forgotten -

"why do you do - what you do"

There are motivations such as fear or loss, but these motivations create more anxiety.

For example - "The squeaky wheel gets the sack" - is a tool of fear designed to motivate. But does it? It is more likely to make people anxious, nervous and unwilling to discuss possibilities both positive and negative.
This motivation phrase is much better - "The three great essentials to achieving anything worthwhile are; first, hard work, second, stick-to-it-iveness, and third, common sense." (Thomas Edison).

When you are able to see possibilities and purpose then your motivations change. You are able to be more positive and better able to react to different situations.

Self affirmation is another vital tool. Click here for more on positive affirmations (The Leading Edge

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Meeting Management

Microsoft surveyed it's employees and found that most employees felt they wasted a lot of time in meetings that were unproductive. Now there's a surprise!

The further away employees get from the front lines of business the more time is spent in meetings (some useful, some not). The problem is probably a mix of - the quantity of meetings and the quality of meetings. By increasing quality the quantity can reduce.

Here are some basic tips to ensure your next meeting does not waste your time -
  1. Have an agenda - if you fail to plan, you plan to fail..
  2. Be flexible - if sticking to the agenda means you end up wasting time - throw out the agenda.
  3. Have less meetings - multiply the number of hours spent in meetings by the cost of your hourly rate and them multiply that be the number of people in the meeting. Was the meeting worth that much?
  4. Leave - if a meeting is going nowhere - excuse yourself.

Simple rules can allow others to be more effective in their use of their time.

Dress For Success

Simple rules still exist for dressing for business.

  • First impressions count - sometimes you only get one shot at impressing a person;

  • Dress like you mean business - dress the way you would if you already had the job you really want;

  • Make sure the clothes fit properly - baggy just doesn't cut it in the office;

  • Spend money - last years shirts are just that (last years!)

  • Take pride in your appearance - even if you're not confident on the inside, let the outside tell a different story.

Click on this link that will take you to the GQ site for a video of do's and dont's for business clothes for men.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Some people are big achievers - some aren't.

Some people can give 120% - 120% of the time. Some people can't.

Some people squeeze as much work as they can in before 4pm Friday. Some don't.

Which am I? - Aren't, Can't and Don't.

That's the way I am wired. My work life is a series of sprints, jogs, walks and meanders.

Is there anything wrong with that? No.

When I am running - I can only deal with what is directly in front of me.

When I walk and meander I do all my best strategic thinking and planning.

Fridays can be the day I get the most done as I wander through the day, reflecting on the different situations during the week. All the while I plan towards what to begin with on Monday.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Career Longevity - The Wrestler

A professional wrsteler shares his thoughts on a 30 year career!

This is a great little video from a guy who was able to make a living doing something he enjoyed.
Note - keep an ear out for the little bit of wisdom right at the end!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Focus On You

"When written in Chinese, the word 'crisis' is composed of two characters - one represents danger and the other represents opportunity". JFK.

Just 24 hours after I wrote about crises I received an email from a friend at Waikato University about a workshop for people in just that situation. (At only $50 to attend they are giving it away.)

Interestingly enough the workshop is advertising that it will deal with crises both -
  • internal (people who are not happy with where they are at) and

  • external (people who have been made redundant).

I would attend myself, except that I will be attending adult teaching classes on Thursdays and one of the days I will be in Rarotonga. Lame excuses I know.

Why teaching classes? A change of direction for my career. New horizons and challenges.

Why Rarotonga? After ten years of being married (to the same person) it is time to head away, for some quality time - just for us.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Career Crisis?

A crisis can be caused by factors that are either internal (such as personal) or external (redundancy or environmental changes).

In order to respond to crises you need to determine what the major causes are and where they originate from.

Internal crisis may need you to - speak to a life coach, take annual leave, reflect and review where you are at - then decide on your next course of action.

External crisis - generally you do not have any control over external factors. However you do have control over your actions and reactions to different situations.

Crises are not always negatives and can force us into having to confront ideas, behaviors and patterns that we did not know existed before the crisis. It is how we act and react that will determine the outcomes from a crisis.

In this presentation from TED, Alain De Botton asks us to restructure our view of events that are happening to us -

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Time - Keeping Track Of It

What do you do with your time? Do you keep track of what you do and when?

"Track The Time" is a blog dedicated to helping people to place more value on and understand where their time goes. I have linked to them on the sidebar on my homepage if you are interested in looking them up for some ideas.

The NY Times has posted a graphic after surveying a wide number of persons in the US. This is a great graphic and reveals some interesting bits and pieces about human behavior.

For example - 8.50pm is the time when most people are watching TV; People are feeling most religious about 11am; 33% of people are working at 10.50am.

By knowing what we do and when we do it - we can alter our patterns and plan to achieve more with the time that we have available to us.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Free Money for Entrepreneurs

Here is a one line story published by the NZ Herald -

"An opportunity for companies seeking funding for growth or expansion to get a loan of up to $1 million on 'favorable terms"

Click out the University of Auckland Entrepreneurs Challenge website for more details.
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