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Taming the Time Tempest: Procrastination

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Managing time is a constant challenge for my coaching clients, and yes for me too! We all know better. We all know that if we manage our time well, we’ll accomplish more, reduce stress, and still have time for things we enjoy the most. Procrastination is one of the biggest concerns and often seems the most difficult to conquer. Yes, I know, we want to put that off until later as well.

A tool to help us conquer this defeating habit is understanding what causes us to procrastinate. First we’ll look at the causes of procrastination and then ways to tame this shrew.

The Cause

  •  Failure to set priorities – If you don’t know where to begin – you won’t. Further, not setting priorities leaves the door open to making everything a priority. This confuses the brain and leads to procrastination.

The Cure

  •  Each day put together a to-do list. The night before is even better as you can hit the ground running the next morning. Be sure to prioritize the items on your list. When your boss or client piles more items on your already stretched out list, consult with them and let them help you establish what is really important. Everything is not a four alarm fire. In addition, you can break projects into smaller pieces and that helps keep you both focused and motivated.

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Got Post Change Chaos?

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There have been countless articles written on the importance of preparing for a merger or acquisition. There are models that can be utilized as guidelines for the integration of organizational cultures. How often is the information and even warnings heeded? Unfortunately more not than often. So what can be done after the merger for which there was insufficient or no preparation?

  1. First realize that it will not be easy and it will take time. Most humans do not embrace change. In fact, some behavioral styles will resent it, avoid it and even fight it making the job even more challenging. Having inadequate warning and time to adjust only makes matters worse. So bring your patience. Also, prepare to have your understanding stretched to the max. Think about it…how would you feel or handle it if your spouse said their mother is coming to live at your house next week giving you no time to prepare? I dare say, there would be some ensuing chaos.
  2. Help your managers handle employee bickering. Managers must avoid “getting hooked” into employee frays. Make sure that every leader conveys the proper chain-of-command for complaints. This is especially important for smaller organizations where employees have typically “gone to the top” person to vent. Now that the organization is larger, this is no longer feasible or practical with more people to manage.
  3. Offer training programs on respect, professional decorum, communication, and leadership. A merger requires both soft and technical skills for success.
  4. Provide managers with coaching tools. Understanding the right questions to ask an upset employee helps the employee to take ownership of his or her complaint. More often than not, the employee just wants someone to know he or she is upset. Helping employees to be more empowered in handling their own grievances saves time, reduces stress, and helps the employee develop both personally and professionally. Some workers carry their feelings on their sleeves or they may carry a chip on their shoulder. Providing training and coaching around this element of self-management can go a long way in reducing tension, disagreements, and stress.
  5. Personal Accountability. This self-management technique fits into the information above, but takes the idea to some specific actions. Several years ago, John Miller developed a program entitled “Personal Accountability and the QBQ.” The acronym “QBQ” stands for the Question Behind the Question. In other words, the idea is to help employees stop asking self-defeating or victim type questions and ask more powerful questions. Here are a few examples from John’s program:

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Managing the Older Marthas and Melvins

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Older workers are a large and fast-growing part of the working population. Contrary to popular belief in America, and some other countries, at the age of 50 one’s brains do not fall out of your head, you do not automatically begin to drool, and you are still able to remember the way home after work. Unfortunately, some ageing Marthas and Melvins out there have given these workers a bad rap.

Some workers nearing retirement decide they will just coast their last two years or so at a company. The truth of the matter is probably that these folks were lousy employees all along and you didn’t have the nerve to fire them and now, as they near the grazing field of retirement, they have become sacred cows. Another case is that they feel useless and unappreciated and are just keeping a low profile. The scenario looks like this:

  • They do the minimal amount of work to get by
  • These scared cows are often popular with their co-workers
  • Firing them could result in a grand mess of legal problems
  • You may be years younger and fear challenging them
  • They are not motivated by promotion or money
  • They are not afraid of being fired

This may sound like a hopeless situation and you may feel that you are at the end of your rope when attempting to motivate your older charges who have fallen into this end of career abyss. Here are some ideas to consider to help get older workers involved and back in the game.

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Complexity – The Productivity Boogie Man

Baton Race 2 WEBComplexity and how it affects productivity seems to be the new boogie man haunting organiztions. The reality is that research by Margaret Wheatly in 1994 and Olson and Eoyang in 2001 brought this Ghoul out of its closet. Needless to say, different factors from different business issues such as technology and the world economic and political stages have added their own unique twists to the complexity of doing business. One factor that has remained constant is people. Zimmerman (1998), as quoted in a study by Peter M. Dickens states, “In every interaction, people mutually adjust their behaviors in ways needed to cope with changing internal and external environmental demands.”

I don’t know so much about the “mutually” part, but yes, as humans we either adapt or die. That’s what we do. Unfortunately, not all of us have the capability of adapting to certain situations, or we don’t adapt as rapidly as some of our teammates, or we fail to see the reason to adapt. Others fail to anticipate a change is in the works and get broadsided by the change. Then there are those who simply don’t want to adapt. Ahhhh, I can see you are already reading between the lines…human behavior can add to the complexity of business.

Behavior at the individual level plays a major role in business complexity. The factor that adds to the complexity at the individual level is that many CEOs fail to see this blind spot, fail to understand it, and therefore, fail to manage it. Where does complexity on an individual level manifest? A case study by McKinsey and a “heat map” generated from their research, indicates both the intensity of complexity as well as ferreting out individual causes. Some of these are

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Go to the Dark Side for Innovative Customer Service

Bit Coin on Compute WEBDisclaimer. In no way is this article meant to condone the use of drugs, illegal or otherwise. Nor is this a campaign to state an opinion as to whether drugs that are currently illegal be made legal.

Businesses compete in a number of ways and one of the most important is customer service. Because today there is so much competition, your customer service has to be beyond excellent. Needless to say, some businesses are better at this than others. One example of this is the dark side. No I’m not talking about Darth Vader, but rather the dark net.

According to a Ted Talk eloquently delivered by Jamie Bartlett, Director of the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media at Demos, a leading UK think tank, the dark net is going mainstream with its own brand of customer service. For those unfamiliar with the dark net, visitors to this realm may surf through sites for pirated books, activists and their causes, whistle blowers, illegal porn, and drugs. The business of illegal drugs is the focus of Mr. Bartlett’s Ted Talk.

Mr. Bartlett tells us that when one searches for illegal drugs on the dark net, one finds web pages of high quality with well-done images of products with detailed descriptions. The descriptions appear to include even how the product is made, thus alluding to its quality and purity – a major concern of drug users.

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Tapping Team Talent

Chess Board w People WEBEvery team member brings value to the table. Some team members are more tech savvy than others. Some are better at handling conflict than others. Some are better at problem solving. Some have a wide range of experiences, and on and on. Different talents cut across the generational spectrum. For example, while I’m no “whiz kid” when it comes to technology, I’ve met many far younger who are not as tech savvy as I am. Some younger people may have more experience at customer service than someone older. So let’s clear the table about what generation is better at one thing or the other.

What team members should have are shared values and commitment to the goal and to one another. What this article addresses are the specific, useable talents that can be put to use to enhance the bottom line, increase employee engagement, and help your employees have meaningful work. Let’s look at a few examples.

Let’s say you want to build a team or special task force to seek out future trends. You want them to do research, collect the data, and present it to the executive team or even the Board. What talents and attributes will these team members require for this type of task? Here are a few ideas of the type of people to select…

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CEOs: Layoff the Layoffs

Talent-Moving-WEBAccording to the CEO Economic Outlook Survey Q2 2015, CEOs will begin cutting back on spending and start working on layoffs. Here we go again. The people who need the money will no longer be making any, families will suffer, and the economy will be taking another nose dive. An important question to ask is what will these layoffs, lack of people power, and lost revenues do to your organization? What if there were a more creative way CEOs could keep their employees working, save families, save their communities, save the economy, and boost their organization all at the same time?

When conducting Tandem Team X-Ray Programs, it becomes clear that teams can be created that would allow employees to use their skills and attributes for real purpose. This helps satisfy the need employees have of wanting purpose in the workplaces. When employees work with purpose, they are more engaged and more productive. Leaders today have many opportunities to create meaning and purpose.

Results of assessments can identify employees with the following skills and attributes. In addition, ideas are presented on ways to help employees put these skills and attributes to good use, help the economy, and provide CEOs with a way to boost the organization.

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How to Bring Stability to a CEO Transition

Mgt Trans WEBChange is rarely easy. Transitions in leadership fall into the change arena and not only is it rarely easy, a CEO transition, whether planned or unexpected, can lead to chaos if not handled with care. If there are extenuating circumstances around the transition, life can become an out of control roller coaster with a broken stop button. As with any other change, there are ways to prepare for eventualities and prevent catastrophes.

Succession Planning: Succession planning plays a large role and this responsibility falls squarely on the shoulder’s of the Board and the current CEO – unless, of course, the current CEO is going to be asked to leave prematurely. The problem is that Boards meet, at the most, monthly. Some organizational Boards meet even more infrequently. Therefore, succession planning should be on the agenda at every Board meeting. Some organizations select a hiring committee to aid in the search as well. An outside adviser or consultant can aid in the process as well. Spending a lot of time on the selection of the next CEO does not guarantee success. There are a lot of companies that make the transition successful spending little time in the effort. However, there are certain elements and processes that help every executive transition flow better.

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