For a great article on this topic, look at: http://blogs.harvardbusiness.org/cs/2009/11/is_your_boss_a_bully_stop_bein.html?cm_mmc=npv-_-WEEKLY_HOTLIST-_-NOV_2009-_-HOTLIST1123
When you think of the amount of people we each may know or know of in our personal and private worlds, the numbers would be considerable. Our level of connectedness with others can be easily increased by joining informal or formal networks or groups and spending time with them. How connected are you in your professional world? How connected to you want to be? And if there isn't an established group in your areas of interest, could you consider starting your own?
Harvard Medical School has discovered happiness is a collective thing and rubs off on others…for an uplifting article on their findings, check out http://web.med.harvard.edu/sites/RELEASES/html/christakis_happiness.html
Until yesterday, I'd not given much thought to small planes and balancing the weight of fuel, passengers and freight. Yesterday I was asked to shift from the middle of the plane to the rear back row and two other passengers, also in the middle of the plane, were reallocated in the same area. When I enquired why we needed to shift the flight attendant said it was to help trim the plane – they needed more people at the end of the plane to balance things up. For some strange reason it made me think about organisations and being in them. How often do we stop and consider: are we pulling our weight? are we being carried by others? are we punching above or below our weight?
We've just had Labour Day in New Zealand, a day that was first celebrated in 1900 (the legislation went through in about 1935 or 1936) and represented a victory (after a long and difficult struggle over many decades) for an 8 hour working day. Samuel Parnell, in 1840, was the instigator, as he was asked to build a store and he said he would, only on the condition he worked an 8 hour day. Good for him and lucky for us all that he had the foresight to put a limit on a working day. Have we learned anything over the subsequent years, I wonder, about working excessively long hours for far too long?
It's started already. I heard it this week. "Well, it's nearly the end of the year, no point thinking about that until the New Year" and "things are winding down now for the end of the year, so we can't guarantee when decisions will be made on that". It's only October, and there are weeks until the end of the year and Christmas day, so why do people begin slowing down now in their thinking and actions, in anticipation of the end of year? It's not the best habit to get into as time costs money and often times, the people slowing down aren't the ones paying the wages!
I received a tender document through the week that required a course on coaching to include thought leadership, amongst other things. A quick search revealed thought leadership emerged as an idea in the early 1990s and stated it was a buzz word or jargon for someone who had innovative ideas and had the ability to translate them into bite size pieces called thinklets to spread them around for general consumption. I felt decidedly under whelmed as I read the information. It is to be hoped that all managers and leaders are thinkers and have some innovative and creative bones in their bodies, but the labels of thought leadership and thinklets are just the same old stuff with a different label – are people barking mad?
I don't know about you, but sometimes I find thinking difficult. This is particularly so when I'm searching for solutions to issues I'm mulling over or when writing documents and trying to find some lead-ins to topics or present information in an interesting way. I find the more I sit and focus on something that eludes me, the worse I get. What I now do when I can't think clearly is to: take a short break and read the newspaper or make a cup of tea; ring a colleague and bounce ideas off them; do a different piece of work for a while; jot down the ideas I do have and leave them for a day or two; go off site to a different physical environment, like a coffee bar, and work there for a bit. A combination of these works for me – but what would work for you?
I've often heard managers say that in difficult financial times the first item on the organisational budget to get the chop is training and development. Strangely enough, the same stop and drop approach is often taken by busy managers when they're faced with piles of paperwork. They see it as the one area in their role that can be dropped for an indefinite period of time, until things get quieter. They can justify their decision by saying another area in their role has a priority. On occasions, some issues will take priority however paperwork isn't an optional extra. Administrative tasks and paperwork will always be part of roles and always need to be done and not doing it for periods of time typically creates other problems down the line. So, the best approach is to consider all role tasks and responsibilities as needing 'this and that', not 'this or that'.
Typically sabbaticals are the domain of academic institutions and are a time for professional development and research. Yet why should they be confined to academia? Truth is many managers and business owners across every sector could benefit from a decent time away from their role and workplaces to refresh and regenerate; to upskill; to do research; to reflect on the workplace and things within it. Some large organisations have schemes that enable staff to take a reduced salary over a set number of years to have a chunk of paid future leave as a sabbatical. It is dependent upon a number of factors such as cover for someone when they're away etc but it can be worked out with advanced planning. However, it's not very common. It's unfortunate; it truly is, as people are living longer today than at any other time in the past and many people intend working well beyond traditional retirement or next life stage years, so the number of years people will be working for a living will increase also. The challenge for employers is to consider employee refreshment and rejuvenation opportunities as they may be needed throughout an employee’s working life.