Recently, I was flipping through the electronic instruction manual on my iPad for the universal remote control for my television’s digital video recorder. Now, I like to think that most electronics are user-friendly and they should be usable right out of the box. However, that is age dependent – if you have older parents.
However, I digress. The DVR has served me well for the last year and I have been operating it in the most primitive of fashions – pressing buttons until I get what I want. The majority of the time, I can fumble my way through the buttons, as they are intuitive. I am able to search, record and flip through all of the digital channels.
A couple of days ago, the skip feature on the remote did not work, but I managed to liberate another unused remote control from my uncle. In reading through the electronic copy of the instruction manual on my iPad, I had an uh-huh moment.
Let me step back a bit. Before, I would have to turn on and off the television separately from the DVR. There was no quick start instructions so I believed that it was part of having a new DVR. However, in reviewing the electronic instruction manual, there was a feature which allows the user to program one button to turn both the TV and DVR, on and off. No separate buttons, anymore. The moral? Read the damn instruction manual…there is a reason they give you one.
There are many times I believe that I am the only person who can do the job. It is a bit self aggrandizing, but when the rubber hits the road, there are others who are just as capable. Do managers, et al have this impression that they are the end-all be-all at work?
It is presumptuous to think that this is so, but we as managers all have this feeling that the world will stop spinning if we do not have our fingers on the pulse of what is going on. The problem is if you do not let go and delegate, you will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Staff will come to you for every answer. They will not make any decisions. It will be up to you to solve every problem. This will stress you out.
In order to not be the Wikipedia for your department, you as the manager need to recognize that there are also people in your department who can also answer the questions and also do the work. It is nice to think that you can be used as a resource, but not letting your staff make the decisions on behalf of the department takes something away from teamwork.
While the responsibility ultimately rests with the manager, it is nice to know staff have the autonomy to make decisions and be thinkers for the department – providing you as the manager is willing to allow them to do it.
Have you ever dealt with someone and when you were expecting a response, all they did was shrug their shoulders? Nothing drives me crazier than a shoulder shrugger. They may be thinking, “I do not know”; but their body language is saying to me, “I don’t care”. If you are unsure of the answer, there is nothing wrong with saying you do not know the answer.
Shoulder shrugging is a lazy and disrespectful response when dealing with business matters. Socially, it ia acceptable to be a shoulder shrugger, but be wary of your body language when doing it. It can set people off – like blowing cigarette smoke in someone’s face.
Perhaps I am a little touchy about shoulder shruggers but I have dealt with my share of them. Instead of doing it, admit you do not know the answer and discuss how you will find the answer. To me, shoulder shruggers are saying I do not know, I do not care and I am out of here. Do not be a shoulder shrugger.
I love this Dale Carnegie saying. It is concentrating on the small jobs and the big ones will tend to themselves. It is like all of the effort dealing with small jobs will make the big ones almost solve themselves, automatically.
Is it possible that the smaller jobs are easier? Possibly. Is it that you can maximize your effort on the bigger jobs by breaking them down into smaller chunks? Possibly. I believe that even though some jobs are smaller and some jobs are bigger, the effort to accomplish them may not be proportionate. In fact, the effort to accomplish a small job may be more than dealing with a big job. It may only seem smaller.
I recall when I was managing strata condominium complexes. My portfolio would be a mix of large buildings, 100 residential units or more, and smaller buildings less than 30 residential units. Strangely enough, the amount of effort in managing a smaller condominium strata building took more or the same amount of effort to manage a larger complex. You would think the effort would be proportionate, when in some cases it was the opposite.
This same rule applies to small and big jobs. The effort on a smaller one may be more than a big job, however, concentrate on the small jobs because the bigger ones will tend to themselves.
Have you ever had to make a point to someone or a group? Chances are they will be able to relate to the point if you can compare it to a personal story that happened to you. Not a story that happened to someone else; but a story that you experienced.
People like to hear about your stories because they are relatable and they like to hear you suffered a little. No one wants to hear about all of the good news stories from you. They need to hear that you at least suffered a bit. It makes you more human.
Because you are attempting to make a point to the group you are addressing, the story must be relatable to the point. That is why preparing for the discussion is necessary and having an agenda is important. If you do not know what you are going to make a point about, how are you going to tell a personal story that is relatable? So prepare ahead of time.
There were two really good examples of where the lack of communication or poor communication led to some less than expected results. One is about a funded project that did not materialize and the backers who felt robbed. The other is about the severe backlash which spread across the internet like wildfire, due to poor communication.
First, we all communicate on a daily basis. Communication is very important because it informs people about things that they need to know or be made aware of. The lack of communication can lead to a number of negative issues that you may not be prepared for. I communicate to my staff on a daily basis and weekly at my 20 Minute meetings. Do not expect people to initiate the communication with you. Sometimes, you have to drag it out of them.
Now the two stories are important in that the lack of communication or poor communication can have lasting negative impressions about you, your company and your brand. Once they are tarnished, it is very difficult to polish them back up to their original luster.
The first story involved a Kickstarter project to develop a game which allowed the user to learn programming. A very novel idea and highly funded. However, the initiator’s lack of management did not prepare him for the harsh reality of, “people who give you money for a project expect results – positive or negative”. He ran into trouble, put all of the funding into the project but had nothing to share with his funders. The funders assumed he ran off with their money because: He did not communicate with them on the progress of the project – good or bad.
The second story about communication or the poorly executed communication involved, Instagram. When I was surfing the net, I did not realize the backlash that was the result of Instagram’s poorly orchestrated roll-out of their new Terms of Service. There was miscommunication, a lack of communication and the overall “let’s not tell them , but lets simply roll it out” strategy. Needless to say there was negative press all over the internet and in printed media. Not the kind of PR you look for.
These two examples are of poor communication or lack thereof which can lead to immeasurable problems which can only be solved with – communication. So the lesson is communicate it now or communicate it a lot later to fix the problem.
It seems kind of obvious to bring this up again and again, but do you eat breakfast? We all know how important it was when we were in school and our parents telling us to eat breakfast, because it is the most important meal of the day. If we did not have breakfast, we felt lethargic. It did not help if we had exams during the day. Not having breakfast did not give us the mental boost needed to do well on the exam.
Well, if you thought it was important when you were in school – and much younger – think about how important it is now. I would hazard to guess that having breakfast now is even more important. If I do not have breakfast, I do not feel energetic. Much like exercise, these are the basic components to help me perform my best during the day. Call them building blocks.
Now, there are some pundits who say that cereal is better, or that fruit is better. Whatever that makes you feel better is the best breakfast for you. Not bacon and eggs everyday, mind you. The best example of the importance of having breakfast is that it is the king of meals, and should be treated as such. Without that initial energy boost, attempting to make up for it with snacks, lunch or dinner will not help you if you miss that important meal of the day.
The Harvard Business Review had an article on the need to say, thank you in emails. Just the general response to that email is important. It is the lack of the humanization that we are slowly moving away from when we have to deal with so many emails in our daily workdays.
In previous blogposts I was on the other side of the argument; in favour of not responding to emails with a simple, thank you. I was under the impression that we have too many emails to deal with already, and saying, thank you was a superfluous email that we should not have to deal with. We are all busy and do we need to deal with these types of emails?
Apparently, it is important to send these emails in that it connects us to our human side and it is more personal using an impersonal forum such as email. We sometimes feel like we are losing our humanity by being so impersonal in responding to emails and not taking the time to acknowledge people.
By not saying, thank you we do not acknowledge the other person and they may feel slighted by the lack of acknowledgement. The other person may not wish to see a, thank you email; but at least we have taken the time to acknowledge them with a sincere, thank you.
A good example is when we deal with people one-on-one. If they do something kind for us, do we simply walk away without saying, thank you? Of course not. That really made me think hard about not sending a, thank you – but not any, thank you – a sincere one. That example is very important in that we should acknowledge people and say, thank you. We should not expect that they should know we appreciate what they do for us, simply because we are too lazy to acknowledge them.
No two people are the same. Now, that is a tough thing to say given the number of people you meet on a daily basis. You may think, no, I met this guy who is just as big a jerk as this other person I know. Well, much like how people are different, we all have differing points in time that we are the most creative. No two people are the same, think the same thoughts or think on the same wave length. It may only seem that way when you look at it from a distance.
My most optimal creative time happens to be when I am in a relaxed state and I am daydreaming. Nothing provides more creative thinking than when I am relaxed and daydreaming. This can be throughout the day, but it is most optimal during lunch when I am thinking about something completely off topic aside from work.
Creative time is great because you can think of the most mundane things but expand those into a new hobby, new idea, or develop with further research into a financial back-up plan. Whatever you decide to do with the creative juices flowing, it is never a good thing to stop midstream and trash ideas. Write them down and continue to evolve them; because you never know what may come out of these ideas.
While the caption is merely a comedic jab at an otherwise normal course of day to day emails, it is a problem we all face on a daily basis. Do we need to answer all of the emails we get?
Not all of the emails need to be answered. Many are FYI’s and only need to be placed in a folder, after you read them of course. By the same token, many emails do not need to be answered, which will save you plenty of time in your otherwise busy day.
We often get into the habit of believing we need to answer every email we get, but be wary. Many emails need a quick reply, some require delegating to someone else, others need to be read and filed, and a small number are there to draw you into an argument which has no end.
There is no way to simply come up with a process or procedure and expect every person’s emails to be the same. Every person’s email inbox has different types of emails. There is no general procedure to vet emails. What works for one person may not work for another. So what do you do?
You need to know what types of emails you get and how to process them properly. Once you understand the types of emails you get, you can vet them properly and make your email review process more streamlined and efficient. Do not answer them all. Know when to answer, and when to file.