Archive for the ‘Workplace solutions’ Category

How to Come Back to Work After Vacation without being Miserable

July 16, 2014

Folders work pileWork after a long vacation is like Monday on steroids.
Here’s how to tackle the work that’s piled up–even your overflowing inbox.
Vacations are great, but they exact a price. You come back to such a pile of work that you wonder if going away was worthwhile.The answer is probably yes, but even so, there are ways to make re-entry less traumatic.
1. Plan ahead.
Managing the post-vacation plunge starts before your vacation does. You may be tempted to pile on meetings and projects as soon as you get back to make up for lost time, but a better approach is to stagger the catch-up work over a longer period. At least don’t aim to do it all on the first day. Accept your limitations. A lot of stuff can wait.
2. Set boundaries you can live with.
I work for myself, so no one ever “covers” for my vacations. That’s why I don’t see anything wrong with working for a few hours, especially over longer trips. If you really need to get away, or if vacation work upsets the people you’re vacationing with, then disconnect. If that doesn’t describe you, then maybe every other day you get up early, and work for half an hour on only the most urgent matters. Then you disconnect for the next 47.5 hours. That trade off can make the post vacation plunge less plunge-like.
3. Come back before you absolutely have to.
If you’re going away for a week (or two!), there’s a lot to be said for returning Saturday instead of Sunday. Not only do you get a chance to unpack, catch up on the laundry, and sleep off jet-lag, you can do a few hours of work on Sunday night. Getting a grip on the week’s schedule, and triaging your inbox, can help you feel more on top of things.
4. Keep the out-of-office message on.
Speaking of that inbox, if you’ve created an out-of-office message for your vacation, keep it on for an extra workday. Sure, the people sitting next to you know you’re there, but there’s no need for the world to figure that out. An extra day gives you space to get things sorted out without new expectations piling on. Of course, you can also just . . .
5. Delete everything.
This technique is only for the brave, but you could just make a quick skim of the inbox stack-up, flag a handful of messages you do want to read, and delete everything else. Chances are, if it’s still important, someone will follow up with you. And if they don’t, you can just miss an opportunity. Getting to take a real vacation may be worth the trade off.
6. Schedule something fun after work.
The first day back can feel like a slog. Plan something you genuinely enjoy for that first post-work evening–even if it’s just watching a favorite TV show–so you have something to look forward to. It’s not quite as good as a vacation, but it’s not a bad way to end the day, either.
Written by Laura Vanderkam nationally known writer and blogger for Fast Company.

 

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Teamwork that Works

October 23, 2012
 

Helping hands in the kitchen

In my speeches on extraordinary work performance I emphasize the importance of teams to achieve goals and deliver outstanding customer service…… 

 
Serving lunch to 500 of Houston’s homeless was a lesson in what makes up a good team. (It was also a kick-butt reminder to be grateful for all
I have!) 
Downtown Houston

Downtown Houston (Photo credit: telwink)

 
1. Show up
Reliability is severely underrated today.
People say they’ll do something but don’t follow through. It’s not just annoying, it’s weakness of character and ultimate failure for a team/organization. The leader at the homeless shelter said our team was the best of all groups that volunteered there because we had 100% team turnout 100% of the time resulting in 100% productivity.
 
 
2. Attitude
Success starts with having the right attitude.
One of our team members had to leave early. She was in the middle of our kitchen ‘chain gang’ serving bread. The woman next to her serving vegetable side dishes immediately took up the slack by taking on the bread duties. No complaints. Employees need the team attitude of  ‘all for one and one for all’ making the company goals a priority versus individual agendas. Whiners should be weeded out before they destroy team productivity and morale.
 
3. Appreciation
At one point in my presentations I talk about the power of praise.
I tell the story of how a few words of appreciation for a job well done made the world of difference to a disgruntled oil company employee. Business management guru Marcus Buckingham said people join companies but leave bosses and the #1 reason is they feel unappreciated. The team leader at the shelter was generous with his praise of our efforts (despite the sloppy mess I made scooping spaghetti) We worked hard. We left fulfilled.

Organizations need to cultivate a strong team culture.

Managers need to nurture team members.

Team members need to be willing to pull together for the sake of the company ‘coz without the company they don’t have jobs.

  

WHY FRANK SINATRA SHOULD BE PART OF YOUR HEALTH CARE PLAN

October 17, 2012


sinatra 

As a professional speaker that has played piano since the earth was cooling, I’m constantly amazed at the power of music and how it transforms people and events.

I was speaking to a group of healthcare professionals at their annual conference and told the story of when I was hired to perform a 60 minute musical program for Alzheimers patientsand their care givers. The audience age ranged from 40 to 75 years old.          

Hamburg Steinway D-274

Hamburg Steinway D-274 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some patients were in the advanced stages of the disease and couldn’t remember their own name. Caregivers were stressed out and close to compassionate fatigue. The energy in the room was heavy and somewhat sad. Within seconds of playing ‘New York, New York‘ it happened…

Blank stares became bright eyes. Droopy heads lifted up. Toes tapped and hands clapped in tempo. Patients with no memory sang along perfectly to the music. Worn out care givers became energized and animated. Suddenly the atmosphere was alive and vibrant.

And the best part? No pills needed.

As the kickoff speaker for that healthcare conference, and since I’m kinda funny and play piano during my presentations on workplace performance, the precedent was set for the whole event. Attendees left feeling happy.

Can you put a price on happy? Do you have a prescription for happy? If you’re a healthcare professional how do you define happy?

I’d be happy to hear your thoughts.

Doo-bee-doo-bee-doo…

Five Top Tips For Starting A Successful Business

October 9, 2012
As a professional speaker on workplace performance, I’m always looking for helpful hints to share. These tips by Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Airlines fame, apply to anyone working as a manager today.
  

richard
LinkedIn is a business that started in a living room, much like Virgin began in a basement, I thought my first blog on the site should be about how to simply start a successful business. Here are five top tips I’ve picked up over the years.

 1. Listen more than you talk

 We have two ears and one mouth, using them in proportion is not a bad idea! To be a good leader you have to be a great listener. Brilliant ideas can spring from the most unlikely places, so you should always keep your ears open for some shrewd advice. This can mean following online comments as closely as board meeting notes, or asking the frontline staff for their opinions as often as the CEOs. Get out there, listen to people, draw people out and learn from them.

 2. Keep it simple

 You have to do something radically different to stand out in business. But nobody ever said different has to be complex. There are thousands of simple business solutions to problems out there, just waiting to be solved by the next big thing in business. Maintain a focus upon innovation, but don’t try to reinvent the wheel. A simple change for the better is far more effective than five complicated changes for the worse.

3. Take pride in your work

Last week I enjoyed my favorite night of the year, the Virgin Stars of the Year Awards, where we celebrated some of those people who have gone the extra mile for us around the Virgin world. With so many different companies, nationalities and personalities represented under one roof, it was interesting to see what qualities they all have in common. One was pride in their work, and in the company they represent. Remember your staff are your biggest brand advocates, and focusing on helping them take pride will shine through in how they treat your customers.

4. Have fun, success will follow

If you aren’t having fun, you are doing it wrong. If you feel like getting up in the morning to work on your business is a chore, then it’s time to try something else. If you are having a good time, there is a far greater chance a positive, innovative atmosphere will be nurtured and your business will flourish. A smile and a joke can go a long way, so be quick to see the lighter side of life.

5. Rip it up and start again

If you are an entrepreneur and your first venture isn’t a success, welcome to the club! Every successful business person has experienced a few failures along the way – the important thing is how you learn from them. Don’t allow yourself to get disheartened by a setback or two, instead dust yourself off and work out what went wrong. Then you can find the positives, analyze where you can improve, rip it up and start again.

How To Make Your Employees Feel Like Superheroes

September 25, 2012
As a professional speaker on workplace performance I found this blog to be spot on. Managers take note!  
 
– Fast Company blogger September 18th, 2012 

I once got this in a message from a former employee:

“When I worked for you, I thought I was Superman. I have occasionally reflected on why that was. Not sure I know all the answers, but the things I do know are that the environment was real, the energy was high, and the crap was low..”

It was wonderful to get that message. Those first 10 words sum up for me, in a pretty profound way, what I believe being a good leader is about.

I used to wonder why I was so lucky to have such remarkable, talented, experienced people want to work for me. I realized that a big part of it boiled down to what was in that note:

1. I got the right people in the right roles. 

2. I let them be amazing.

3. I got the crap out of the way (people really liked this!).

Here’s how you can tackle each step to foster employee satisfaction and a memorable culture:

1. Get the right people in the right roles. 

Are you leading the team you need? Or are you leading the team you have?

There is nothing more important as a leader than to build a team underneath you that is so capable that you can free yourself up to solve higher-order problems. Too many managers think the job is to make the best of the team they have. That is not the job.

The job is to develop, and if necessary change, the people–so you get individuals who are well suited for their roles, and a highly capable team that can do what the business needs now and in the future.

 If you find yourself needing over and over again to personally step in to make key decisions or do strategic work that you hoped one of your staff would handle, you have someone in the wrong role. You need to make a change.

 I realize this sounds harsh. But you have choices and you don’t need to be a bad person to build a great team. The good news is that getting the right people in the right roles is great for them, it’s great for you, and it’s great for the business. There is no downside except that it’s hard to do. So…

GUT CHECK: Is your desired outcome to grow the business or to keep people in their jobs?

Here are your choices:

Grow the business: If your desired outcome is to grow the business, then you need to get the right people in the right jobs and eliminate the people who are not capable enough.

Keep jobs: If your desired outcome is to have people keep their jobs you have two choices: 

  • Move them to different, lower, or sideways jobs, and free up the key jobs to be filled by stronger people.
  • If you can’t or won’t do this, then don’t waste time and energy signing your business up for strategic growth. If you are not going to change the people, find a less ambitious business model you can execute with the team you have.
2. Let people be amazing. 

Okay. Now that you have the right team of highly capable people, give them important work, support them, step back, and let them be amazing.

Don’t just delegate work. Delegate power.

Let people make big decisions and solve big problems. Let them do great work they can be proud of.

Give them recognition. Be an active spokesperson for their efforts. Show them trust and respect, and make sure they get the credit for their accomplishments–they will move mountains for you. Get out of their way!

3. Get the crap out of the way. 

As a leader a key part of your job is to create a work environment that is good to work in.

Uncertainty, worry, and unnecessary complexity all drain energy and trust out of the organization. If you want to create an environment where your people can thrive, you need to actively and continually remove the sand that creeps into gears.

Here are some ideas to get rid of the de-motivating crap:

Remove uncertainty:

* Make, clarify, and communicate decisions.
* Don’t let questions and rumors fester.

* Don’t leave people to wonder what is important, or which direction to go.

Remove negativity:
* Discourage unproductive, negative talk. No one can complain without offering a proposal.
* Eliminate people who drain energy out of the organization.

* Remove any managers who are bullies, or who block communication.

Be accountable:
* Have clear plans with measures and accountability.
* Address missed deadlines with consequences and action plans. (You’d be surprised how much positive energy this creates.)

* Face up to, and fix broken strategies.

Find the magic 

When you get someone in the right role right that aligns with their natural strengths, abilities, and ambitions, magic happens.They thrive. They grow. They do amazing things. They feel proud of what they do. They are motivated and energized.

When you get a whole team of people who are in the right roles, the team becomes unstoppable. And then you are free to look forward and lead (and keep vigilant at removing the crap, which takes actual time).

Your job as a leader is to create that team–a team that can amplify what you can do. Otherwise you are at the helm of a team that is constrained by you, not led by you.

– Patty Azzarello, Author of Rise: 3 Practical Steps for Advancing Your Career, Standing Out as a Leader and Liking Your Life

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