The Evenhanded Manager at Work: Four Characteristics of Fairness

"Fairness is not an attitude. It's a professional skill that must be developed and exercised." – Brit Hume, American journalist. Too often, those who rise to positions of power in the white-collar workplace are more concerned with holding tightly to their limited power, rather than liberally sharing trust, responsibility, and empowerment in order to boost that power. They fail to understand a basic reality: that while some people will take advantage of you if you're a laissez-faire manager, most will try harder than ever to prove they've earned what you've willingly offered. Wherever you fall on the managerial scale, realize that fairness and the perception of it are a very big deal to your employees (←click to tweet), determining in large part how willing they are to engage with their … [Read more...]

When Good is Good Enough: Five Situations When Perfection Is Counterproductive

Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.— Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Author of The Little Prince Ever heard the term "Good enough for government work?" I heard that a lot growing up in a military family. Despite how it may sound, it's neither a low-bidder type of comment, nor an excuse for poor work: It just means you've done the work to the required specifications and can move on. This is crucial when you've got a lot of non-critical tasks on your plate. There really are times when good enough is good enough—when perfection just gets in your way. You don’t always have to do a job perfectly! In this blog, we'll consider a few common cases where perfection is a waste of time and becomes the enemy of good. You don't want to … [Read more...]

Four Long Term Productivity Strategies: The Positive Side of Performance Improvement

"Don't lower your expectations to meet your performance. Raise your level of performance to meet your expectations."—Ralph Marston, American writer and motivational speaker. Mention the term "performance improvement" to another office worker, especially if you're in management or human resources, and they're likely to fall silent or turn pale. No matter how it's presented, most workers associate performance improvement with the "performance improvement plan," a common method of putting workers on probation and collecting evidence against them before they're terminated. Fair or not, the concept of performance improvement has become connected with that sort of sting. But let’s think about it another way! Ambitious, progressive workers who are truly engaged with their work are always eag … [Read more...]

Five Hints You Could Be an Underperformer… Even When No One Says Anything

“Is it not strange that desire should so many years outlive performance?”—William Shakespeare, British playwright After years of loyalty to an employer, you may assume you’re doing good work even when no one takes the time to say it. Possibly you’ve hit a level of stability after struggling for a while, and conclude you must be doing fine, since no one has claimed otherwise. Or you may just feel complacent after achieving laurels and back-pats for doing good work in the past, to the point where you shift into automatic and count on routines to keep you on the right path. Just because no one brings it up, however, doesn’t mean you’re not under-performing. Some managers just assume you know what you’re doing and say nothing. Others may not want to say anything for fear of embarrassing you … [Read more...]

Tapping Into Your SUPERPRODUCTIVITY! Five Rocket Boosters for Success

"Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible."—Francis of Assisi, Catholic saint Have you ever been faced with a large task, whereupon you dismissed everything else from your mind, put your head down, and got to work? How often have you "come to" later, only to find your task is done or near-done—and hours have passed almost without you noticing? I suspect it's happened to you more than once. It tends to happen fairly regularly to those of us engaged with our jobs and genuinely interested in doing well. It's kind of like highway hypnosis, except that instead of just going on autopilot, your mind and body have melded in such a way that you tap into what I call "super-productivity." Here are five ways to enter…The Super-Productivity … [Read more...]

Subconscious Productivity: Four Ways Your Brain Can Make You More Productive

"Whatever we plant in our subconscious mind and nourish with repetition and emotion will someday become a reality." – Earl Nightingale, American motivational writer, speaker, and author. It's well established that, like an iceberg, only a small percentage of a person's mind is "above the water," active and aware, at any particular time. I'm not going to spout the over-used claim that you use only 10% of your brain on average; the majority of your brain is, in fact, used to control automatic and autonomous functions like breathing and heartbeat, as well as to process the flood of incoming sensory information you deal with constantly. Besides, this is the mind I'm talking about here, as apart from the brain: the consciousness that the electrochemical reactions inside in your head somehow g … [Read more...]

Managing UP: Four Things Never to Do

"One who controls others is masterful, but one who has mastered himself is mightier still." – Lao-Tzu, Ancient Chinese philosopher. I'm a firm believer in managing up, the process of striving to learn and meet your manager's needs without he or she even having to ask. Despite what it may sound like, managing up isn't about control; it's about anticipation and deliberate action designed to benefit both parties in the relationship. Your leaders need to know that you are always on top of the key items and that you properly communicate your progress without overwhelming them. A wise leader doesn't resent direct reports managing up, because he or she knows that it helps everyone. Remember the TV show M.A.S.H.? Company Clerk Radar O'Reilly not only knew when the choppers were coming, he a … [Read more...]

Four Paths to Lean Office Productivity: Can the Just-In-Time Concept Work for You?

"The most dangerous kind of waste is the waste we do not recognize." — Shigeo Shingo, Japanese industrial engineer. Ever since Toyota invented lean manufacturing, much has been made of its application to all professions, including “desk” jobs. The lean philosophy boils down to this: cut anything in the work process that fails to add value to the end-user. The end-user may be a consumer, one's supervisor, or the group in the organizational structure to which you deliver your final product. Side note: Speaking of things that don't add value to the end user, check out this short clip of how I learned the hard way that my newsletters weren't hitting home, and what I did to fix it: Video - Eliminating Low Value Business Activities A central tenet of lean is "Just In Time" or "JIT" produ … [Read more...]

Four Ways to Avoid Complacency: NEVER Hit Pause on Your Career

"Success breeds complacency. Complacency breeds failure. Only the paranoid survive."—Andrew Grove, Hungarian-American businessman and engineer. After finally accomplishing a tough task or achieving a long-term goal, it's human nature to want to sit back and take a breather. “I deserve a little down time,” you might think. The Romans called it "resting on your laurels," because back then a laurel-leaf crown was a common reward for winning an athletic or political contest. The problem? You might feel satisfied because you’ve gotten where you want to be or hit your numbers and rest on your laurels too long. When you’ve achieved a massive goal, I think it’s indeed cause for a celebration. However, getting through a long day of meetings isn’t cause for a mindless day the following. When rest … [Read more...]

Six Ways to Ensure a Restorative Workspace: Translating Comfort to Productivity

"A change is as good as a rest." – Old English language saying, attributed to British poet Andrew Leach. Most of us realize the value of taking care of ourselves. Taking care of, cherishing, and loving ourselves translates into greater productivity. But often, we think of this as something we do only in our down time or during our breaks. Taking breaks is certainly a good start, but you can also boost your productivity by making your workspace a more pleasant place to spend time. I'm not talking about ergonomics here; I’m talking about mental and emotional comfort. In many cases, comfort has more than a physical element; it's psychological as well. (← click to tweet) When you're mentally and emotionally calm and fulfilled, even at a subconscious level, you'll feel better physically, and … [Read more...]