Monthly Archives: February 2012
In a previous post, I listed the initiatives that training participants came up with for creating and maintaining more FLOW in the organisation. This post follows-up with 24 more ideas in 5 concrete FLOW areas …
To get more FLOW, be sure everyone has a clear mission
- Take the time to translate core company objectives/mission into each person’s function, especially when dealing with change or restructuring
- As an individual, ask questions regularly to better understand how you align to the company vision/mission/values
…people need quality feedback if they are going to get in FLOW
- Recognise and share success stories within the organisation
- Talk about personal FLOW with own managers in status-updates or other regular meetings
- Ask for regular feedback on your work
Teamwork and communication can help to build “self-worth” and success
- Implement (or at least discuss) a “code of conduct” with colleagues that respects individuals’ FLOW needs
- Ask for help from colleagues when you are out of FLOW
- Inform your colleagues about your “high-energy” moments so that a) they know that that’s a good time for you to be working on most-important tasks; b) they will respect your need for concentration at those times
- Avoid “indirect communications” – phone-calls and instant messaging in faster and more effective than email (but… see the part on “concentration”)
- Learn how to say (and hear!) “NO” to (from) colleagues
- Have time-keepers in meetings in order to help people stick to their personal priorities
Boost concentration at key moments
- Turn-off email pop-ups .. or better still: CHoose when to read them
- Close the door
- Find a “quiet room”
- Use ear plugs
- Designate a room for conf-calls, rather than letting everyone on the floor follow the call !
- Take the time to set priorities well … and stick to them
- Install home-working possibilities for high-importance/high-concentration task moments
- Organise office space by function
Find your balance between challenge and skills
- Use job-rotation schemes to avoid bore-out
- Create a strengths-matrix so that people know where to turn for help on specific topics
- Hire more people (to avoid burn-out)
- Decrease workload – outsource what is possible, even within your own organisation; drop useless activities/chores
- Identify people who are bored and give them more of the work of people who are overloaded
Thanks for reading!
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This blog post has been written as support for homework for participants from my training on “Creating Influence”.
…but the exercise described below is an excellent approach to defining strategic action for any mission you may undertake.
First, let’s describe “strategic action”
How is strategic action different to normal action? It considers one’s current position in close relationship to the mission. In this way, strategic action is focussed on high level priority-driven steps that are more likely to get us to where we want to be.
Example: Suppose I want to complete an IronMan race. I might be inclined to imagine that swim-training is the best action to undertake. But if I first do a good strategic positioning exercise, I might realise that my priority is in fact to first develop my business offer in order to earn more more so that I can liberate more time for training. If I don’t do this, I will have to a) squeeze in training in an already busy schedule and b) end up paying divorce costs due to marital negligence
Ready to think strategic??
STEP 1: Start by defining your mission
There is no sense in doing a positioning exercise if you don’t know what you are trying to achieve.
Example: If I ask you if I am strong, depending on what objective you imagine me working on, you may come up with completely different answers…
When defining your mission, be sure to use quality goals. Read my other blog post on PERSONAL goal-setting for some starter ideas..
STEP 2: …then assess your current position
One of my favourite tools for doing this remains the SWOT analysis. A good SWOT will give you ideas on recurring themes for improvement. Note: I said a GOOD SWOT !
- Read here for some of my favourite SWOT questions
- …and here for some tips on how to be complete in your general approach to SWOT
Another tool I really like regarding personal influence is the network influence-grid proposed by Jo Owen in his book “How to Influence“. He suggests that for all the people in your network, you need to assess them in terms of whether or not you have a good relationship with them and whether or not they have power (to help you in your mission). A network influence-grid therefore has 4 quadrants…
When the people you know are mapped out in their relevant quadrants, you will better focus on people who are realy useful (top-right) or think about how to better leverage the existing relationships you have to get what you need.
STEP 3: Now, look for priority areas for action
I find that if I have done a good job of assessing my strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, when I look at the results there are recurring and linking themes. These are the things to work on. Don’t worry about action yet, just look at which things seem to come back and back.
For example, in my last SWOT exercise I saw that:
- My network was very complete
- …but that I wasn’t using it well enough
- I have great references for training work
- …but never ask for referrals
- There was an opportunity to better develop my own client base
An obvious priority strategic action: Leverage own network.
STEP 4: When your priorities are clear, plan baby steps
I am finally reading “Getting Things Done” by David Allen right now. One of my clients said it was a great book, but I thought: What else could there be to learn about priority management? In the first 10 pages I had my answer:
Turn unmanageable TO-DO lists into “next concrete action” (baby-steps) lists.
In the scope of our exercise, this means asking 2 questions for each of the priority strategic actions noted previously:
- What would be an ACCEPTABLE outcome?
- What is the NEXT CONCRETE ACTION you need to take?
If you’ve followed the 4 steps ahead, you should have some good ideas to get moving with.
Thanks for reading
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Nothing annoys me more as a trainee than sitting in training listening to everyone say what THEY think of something before the trainer gives the “right answer” or whatever answer will be used as a common framework for the next 2 hours…
Why do trainers do that? If there ISN’T a right answer, then I can agree its worth sharing people’s attitudes. But if there IS, please just get to the point!
If you are interested in the Authentic Learning principle that we shouldn’t get things in the classroom that can be found OUT of the classroom, then this simple SoMe proposal might interest you:
- Prior to training, make a survey using a tool like www.surveymonkey.com *
- Ask future participants to share in advance their ideas on a given topic. For example: What do you understand by the word “motivation”? or “What are the key elements of effective teamwork?”
- Prior to training, merge these answers into your training materials (PPT, workbook, whatever you have…)
- In training, show (quickly) the answers you already got and move onto what will be used as your framework in training
* As advice, I would note that if you are doing this a lot, upgrading your surveymonkey account is well worth the investment in saved admin time…
Another better more social option
- Use LinkedIn, Facebook, Yammer or some other platform to ask the same questions.
- Invite future participants to join a group and discuss a point in advance
- That way people will already see the answers from other trainees before getting to the room…
This SoMe solution is good for time-saving in training and to allow you to focus on more ROI-yeilding activities. I don’t say discussion is bad, but sitting listening to others for NO reason IS bad.