Oftentimes, managers don't closely monitor the outcomes their staff are required to deliver. It happens easily enough: a full workload, lots of conflicting demands, running around like a headless chook – all things that may divert a manager's attention from ensuring the deliverables are delivered on time, every time. The problem with assuming that work is being done or ignoring the work that's due but very late, is that it signals to staff that deadlines don't mean much or the deliverables aren't that important either. It leads to lowered workplace standards and, dare I say it, people being busy but not necessarily productive. So, if you haven't checked your standards recently, do so – are they low, medium or high? How consistent are you, in your expectations of your staff? How do you really rate, as a role model to others? How well do you walk your talk?
Keith Tyler-Smith, Project Manager (eLearning) for TANZ, speaks about online courses and the opportunities they present adult learners. 'Listen to Keith', 31.05 mins.
I work with self employed business owners and have discovered that all, at one stage or another, find the business of being in business, too much on occasions. This is because small business owners with no staff or one staff, find themselves being the Jill and Jacks of all trades – the cleaning, the administration, the strategic thinking and planning, the marketing person, the accounts person, the IT person, the you name it, they're it. It does get tough at times. It is often hard to see the wood for the trees. It is often difficult to keep going if the light at the end of a particular tunnel is nowhere to be seen. What often helps is talking to other people who know the realities of being in business; getting a coach or mentor; outsourcing as much as possible; taking mini breaks and looking at the goals and expectations of oneself and the business – to see if they are reasonable, realistic and achievable, given the available resources.
An area small, medium and large organisations often overlook when things are getting busy or difficult, is their infrastructure – their policies, procedures and systems; their company culture and climate; the way they talk to one another; view clients or colleagues. So often an organisation's infrastructure suits how things were when there was less staff, fewer clients or less operating complexity. Unless any organisational growth is recognised as a time to also check the infrastructure, to see if it can cope with the change, the business and staff will struggle. A stitch in time approach works well here.
I've just read a thought provoking editorial from the editor of NZBusiness, Glenn Baker. In it, he talks of a concept from Jonar Nader, on how organisations can invigorate their business. One idea for continual business improvement was OPEX – standing for One Percent Excellence. The aim is to be one percent better than yesterday in all that you do, and eventually you'll have a healthy business. It's a simple concept and sounds eminently doable. Worth giving it a go to see what happens?
A website is now available that focuses on positive psychology – the science of looking at what makes people happy. Apparently there are three sources of long lasting happiness – mental resilience, healthy relationships and finding meaning in life and there are downloadable audio files that give specific techniques to help the listener with this. The site is now publicly available at http://www.calm.auckland.ac.nz/
Im always a bit surprised when I see some managers who work at a middle management level, struggle with the concept of operating at a higher level. By that I mean, removing themselves from lots of unnecessary operational stuff i.e. inappropriate involvement in their staffs' work, to working at a strategic level i.e. taking a bigger view of their patch, planning and thinking about known and unknown eventualities, ensuring the operating infrastructure is sound and can support all the activities. Some middle managers, despite attending endless management courses, reading management articles, participating in strategic planning sessions and using the right management language that suggests they can operate at a higher level, never make the transition. Their good intentions and talk is never converted into higher order thinking and action. What's the core problem here – they're not in the right role? They aren't the best person for the job? They don't want to add to their workload? They're simply not interested? I wish there was an easy answer… as organisations need managers who can operate at a higher level competently and consistently and be really productive with their time.
I've come to the conclusion that within most workplaces, within the workforce, lurk organisational saboteurs. These are a group of people from all levels of an organisation who intentionally or unintentionally may: block organisational change; stifle initiative in others; do just what's needed in the job and no more; withhold information; refuse to learn to use new technology; mock others or constantly whine and whinge about how dreadful colleagues, managers, clients, suppliers or others are. They do considerable damage to an organisation. Their many actions, collectively, act like a sea anchor – slow workplace processes and progress and irritate the life out of their colleagues. Some solutions? Saboteurs need to be clearly identified and their actions named for what they are. The powers that be need a zero tolerance approach to damaging actions and disgruntled employees and help them move on. They aren't needed in organisations that are trying to survive and thrive in these taxing economic times.
In reading about professional development the other day, I discovered there are four learning stages a person must go through before a behaviour change can occur: the first requires us to be aware of something i.e. an idea, a requirement; the second requires us to have an understanding of what the idea or requirement may mean or require of people; the third requires accepting that what needs to change must be changed and then changing one's own ideas, beliefs, attitudes or values to accept the change; and the fourth requires us to apply the new learning or knowledge that's needed, to create the necessary change. It certainly got me thinking – how often do we do PD activities and know at a head level we must accept some change yet fail to apply the new learning or do what's needed? How easy is it to understand what may be required yet fail to truly accept what must be changed? The steps show that true learning and change can only occur if all four steps are successfully integrated and completed.
There's something about the New Year hype that may create pressure on people to set goals for the year ahead by January 1st at the earliest, possibly January 2nd by the latest and start working on them by January 3rd, at the very least. It's unrealistic and unnecessary and is to be avoided. A less pressured approach to determining what you may want to achieve in the year ahead is to spend time resting and relaxing to give your brain and body a necessary break from thinking and doing. Then, spend as much time as needed to reflect on the year past and see what worked well or less well for you during that time; then, and only then, begin to think about what you may want for the year ahead; and then, jot down your findings. The process, to work well, needs quality time and a clear headspace. It does not need to be rushed and forced.