Archive for the ‘ Productivity ’ Category
“Proceed with caution in the direction of your hopes, and live safely, the life have.” —Hank Dave Locke
Mediocre is a good. Moderate quality is ok. “Average is the norm,” as Yogi Berra might say.
Today’s world is complicated—every segment of society is continually changing and very little seems to be certain anymore, like it was two hundred years ago. No amount strategy, planning, or consulting can change this reality.
The great challenge for today’s leader at work, in sports, at home, or in academia, is to help everyone just hold on through the chaos and hope that things turn out for the good. We need to lower our expectations on what “greatness” really is. Our primary focus as leaders today is to maintain the status quo and not allow innovation, excellence, or a utopian idea of high-performance disrupt people from allowing people to get their job done the way they always have—for the most part.
The following are a host (who really counts how many points there are in articles like this anymore?) of ideas, or habits, or secrets, that will help leaders around the world avoid the stress caused by the quest for “higher levels” of performance and help maintain the status quo within your spheres of influence—if you have any.
Don’t Have a Vision
Visions are nothing more than “pie in the sky” dreams about the way things should be, not the way things really are. Having a vision for your organization only stresses people out and puts too high of expectations on them—expectations that are impossible to live up to in the end. And besides everybody forgets the vision after the town hall meeting anyway. So leaders need to save everyone the stress—don’t create a vision.
Don’t Set Goals
Like vision, goals are a big stress in any area of life. People don’t need really need goals; it only sets you up for failure and disappointment. People come to work and know what they’re supposed to do and should be left alone to get it done—they don’t need a goal to tell them what they need to do. Without the stress of goals we don’t have to plan our week or take time every day to think about our activities we need to do. Without the burden of goals, people are free to just get straight to working—on something!
Don’t Give Feedback—And Never Ever Ask for Feedback
Feedback is just an illusion. It’s just someone else’s perception. By offering feedback you’re suggesting that something could be actually done a certain way—that’s pretty judgmental if you think about it. The reality is that everybody has their own way about going about doing things. By giving feedback to someone you’re know judging them, you’re insinuating that things could be done even better, and this is very disruptive to an organization—especially when you give feedback to someone that’s been leading people for 20 or more years. By asking for feedback you’re insinuating that someone knows how to do it better than you. That’s a no-no. You’ll look like a fool and people may begin to think that you don’t know how to do your job if you ask for feedback
There’s only so much time in a day that you can sit around and listen to people’s complaints and problems. A leader that wants to maintain the
status quo and promote mediocrity, keep things flowing, should have no part of listening to somebody else’s challenges concerns or feedback. Time is of the
essence so don’t waste time listening to people’s concerns, and they’ll figure it out on their own—probably.
Don’t Solve Problems—Today
Like listening, problem-solving is another big waste of time. Problems exist, they always will, so what’s the point of trying to solve a problem when the reality is there will be 10 more, at least, that will spring up the next day. And if you really must try to solve a problem, sometimes you do, than the best strategy is to put it off until tomorrow. An average leader instinctively knows that today is all we have, and today’s troubles will take care of themselves; tomorrow.
Don’t Measure Performance
Our society is beginning to understand this at a youth sports level—it’s time to understand this at a corporate level. If you hand out trophies and reward people for a “excellent” performance, what does that say to the rest of the organization? Measuring performance is just another way to discourage those who want to show up and work and just collect a paycheck. It’s another way to create distrust of the executives. Remember, your mission is to help your people survive, it’s not up to you to help them thrive—making the “scoreboard” irrelevant.
Feed Them Coffee and Donuts
This is a no brainer. Pavlov proved long ago that food, and now today, coffee, is a real good way to keep people satisfied. As long as people can come to work and know that donuts and coffee will be available, they will keep showing up. Sure it didn’t really work out with the orca whales at that Entertainment Park, but then again people aren’t really whales—food defiantly will satisfy humans. It’s not that complicated.
Which brings us full circle. Today’s leaders need to provide a safe environment with moderate expectations. The primary purpose of leadership is to help people survive and get through life in one piece—and enjoy the weekend. Leaders who follow these simple guiding principles will more than likely produce a culture of mediocrity and maintain a steady balance and certainty in an otherwise uncertain world.
Jason Diamond Arnold is a leadership consultant for The Ken Blanchard Companies. He is Coauthor of Situational Self Leadership in Action a real time, real work, leaning experience that develops effective communication and collaboration skills for individuals in the workplace. He works with Fortune 500 Companies, Small Business, and Start Ups developing Performance Intelligence strategies that are linked to research based, leadership development curriculums and cutting edge application software.
A few months back, I asked a group of leaders for a show of hands on who had experienced either oversupervision or undersupervision. Almost every hand went up. But then I asked how many had themselves oversupervised or undersupervised their direct reports. Only one or two hands shyly peeked out from the crowd.
So what’s going on? Well, leaders can sometimes be unaware of what they should and should not be doing. And this lack of awareness separates good leaders from great leaders. Great leaders know that leading is a never-ending journey that can be filled with treacherous obstacles.
So what do you need to know to become a great leader?
I have spent the last two years of my life completing my Masters in Business with an Emphasis in Strategic Human Resource Management. I spent on average around 15 hours a week studying, writing essays and completing exams. If anyone has completed an MBA part time whilst working full time you will appreciate how tough it is.
As my MBA is coming to a close, my question is, was it worth it?
I suppose I need to ask myself, what did I want to achieve from an MBA?
Did I learn a lot? – Yes
Will it help my career? – I’m not so sure.
People keep asking me, so what are you going to do with your MBA when you finish. Will you get a promotion? Will you get another job? Will it earn you more money? I honestly hadn’t thought about it. So I thought my trusty friend the internet would help me out.
Ronald Yeaple’s study found post MBA pay was 50% higher than pre MBA pay. After 5 years of completing an MBA pay increased by 80% compared to post MBA Starting pay. This data is from a well ranked university in the Forbes top 50. However looking on the internet a lot of high paying jobs do state on the applications that an MBA is desirable.
In 2013/2014 539,440 were enrolled in postgraduate degrees in the UK. Although that is less than a third of undergraduates, it shows there is still fierce competition. In the US 100,000 MBA’s are awarded annually. Jobs remain relatively constant, so if you are doing an MBA to stand out, there are a lot of other people doing it too.
Do you think MBA’s are worth it? Please share your experiences on how your MBA has helped you or hasn’t.
The way we manage our business has changed; we must be leaner, cut back on our spending and demand more for less! It’s a rally cry from many companies in this new era of saving money whilst still having high expectations of ourselves, our direct reports and our peers.
Shouldn’t we be able to cut spending whilst increasing output? What effect does this have on the quality of our work and our motivation?
The Law of Diminishing Returns Disclaimer: this blog post does contain economic principles! But please don’t glaze over, it’s really very fascinating. Diminishing returns is the point at which adding more gives us less. In economic terms it usually refers to the point where adding more resources (workers, raw materials etc.) no longer produces the same output.
The output begins to decrease per additional ‘unit’ produced. For example, a business produces pencils – at the pencil factory we would expect that the more pencils produced the more money we make. Right? Wrong…we actually make less money per pencil until we finally make a loss.
To make more pencils we need to employ more people and more people = more costs. This is in terms of productivity (recruiting lower skillsets, tardiness) and the addition of extra costs (benefits, wages) This can be illustrated by a U-curve.
So why is this important?
The U-curve I believe also applies to our workload and our goals and has a direct effect on an employee’s engagement and motivation in the workplace. As a leader the more you demand (or the greater your expectations) will provide a better ‘return’ over the short-term.
For example, if you increase your goals from 1 to 3 you will be stretched, your output is greater and your motivation increases. Your workload is likely to be manageable.
When an optimum level (the top of the U) is reached, say at 5 goals, adding any more will start to give you less in return over the long-term and could lead to a poorer quality of output, goals not being met and sub-optimal levels of motivation. You are overcommitted and your workload becomes unmanageable.
Why Small Class Sizes Don’t Improve Education – Evidence for the U-Curve
I have been reading Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book ‘David and Goliath’ where he uses an inverted U-curve to describe the point at which what we do is no longer positive.
One of the examples used is around the debate of large class sizes and the quality of education. We assume large class sizes are bad for our children’s education. However, do we also consider how very small class sizes can also have a negative effect on learning? We would assume the children get more attention…
In reality the teachers rarely change their teaching style to one that is appropriate for a smaller class and there are fewer children to contribute their opinion and to add creativity and energy to the group. There’s an optimum group size (the bottom of the U, or in Gladwell’s example the top of the inverted-U).
The clear point is that there’s a tipping point between to much of something or too little that no longer yields a positive return.
In this era of ‘doing more with less’, are we ‘demanding more and getting less’? Whether this is in terms of diminishing returns, higher turnover (due to the pressure placed on colleagues) or sub-optimal motivation potentially leading to a ‘quit and stayed’ attitude.
I am by no means a perfect example of someone who has the balance correct, but my aim for the next 6 months is to review my priorities every month and ask myself questions honest questions linking to these thoughts:
So the question is: where are you on the U-curve?
Lisa is the EMEA Client Services Manager at the Ken Blanchard Companies. The Client Services Team specialise in delivery; Project Management, Learning Services (virtual learning and online assessments) and Staffing (trainer allocation).