July 2, 2018

Buying Office Supplies in Bulk: Which Items are Yes or No?

You may not think buying office supplies is a big deal, after all how much does a pen or pad cost compared to office equipment? However, over time, the expense related to common office supplies can add up to big dollars because the organization constantly needs to buy more to keep up with employee demand and job needs.   

To the left is a new infographic designed to help office administrators and purchasing agents understand what makes sense to buy in bulk for cost effectiveness and what not to get in large quantities at one time.  I agree with most of it what Quill includes in the YES grouping, except for furniture.  Unless you are furnishing a new office or doing a remodel/redecorate it does not make sense to have extra furniture around taking up valuable space and getting in the way of easy movement.  So I think furniture should have went in the PROBABLY NOT group.

If you want to see a full-size infographic and/or read the blog post from Quill.com, an on-line office supplies store, read their blog post Your Go-to Guide to Buying in Bulk for the Office.

June 12, 2018

Five (+5+5)= 15 Time Management Tips for Business

Time Management
I am sure I have given these time management tips before in my books, on this blog, or in other articles.  However, I thought a refresher would be a good idea.
  1. Keep a log of what you are doing to make sure you are always doing the most important tasks.  You do not want to fill your days with minor efforts or unnecessary jobs. So plan your workday by setting high, medium, and low priorities on tasks. 
  2. Keep interruptions short by not letting the other person sit down.  Once they sit down, it will be harder to get them out of your office or workspace.  So stand up when they come in and they will typically stay standing too. 
  3. Arrange your work area where you do not see people traffic flow, if possible.  If you are in line of the traffic flow, you will get distracted.  Being close to the people moving about also makes it easier for them to drop-in, which disrupts your workflow (see #2). 
  4. Ask the members of your team about time wasters.  Find out what you do that they feel wastes their time.  This may be a little hard for them to say so let them know it is for mutual benefit in managing time.  Knowing everyone’s time-wasters could save you and others time in the future. 
  5. Make your meetings more effective and efficient!  I had said this before - plan your time together so none of you wastes each other’s time.  That means having an agenda (3 T's) for efficiency (getting the right things done) during the meeting and recording actions (3 W’s) for effectiveness afterwards.
The Plus 5’s in my post title refers to articles I have recently published with either five additional time management tips/tricks or that provide a little more detail for the above tips.  If you review those articles too you will have a total of fifteen tips.  To review the additional time management tips, visit these links.

May 22, 2018

Color-Coding To Improve Work-Life Balance

Outlook Color Categories

As a business, technical, or hospitality professional, you may be wondering at the end of each day why you are so tired.  Or perhaps you wonder why you are not achieving everything in your career that you desire.  Have you ever considered that maybe you need to plan your time in a way that not only allows you to grow in your career area but allows for personal life balance as well?  Taking time for yourself and your career growth not only makes you feel better it assures you are better able to help your associates, team members, or family when the need arises.  Besides setting priorities on a to do list, consider the concept of color coding your weekly time management plan to assure you have a good balance of activities.

  • Green –key activities with customers and co-workers that lead to profits for your business in the near term.
  • Red – maintenance activities such as updating charts, reviewing and recording data, administrative tasks that keep your records up-to-date.
  • Blue – time away from the office for vacation, personal hobbies, or family activities to keep you balanced and reduce stress related to a high-performance work schedule.
  • Orange - long-term result activities that further your career including goal setting, attending conferences or training, reading articles or books, and other types of continued education.

Now that you know the color coding idea, take a look at your time management plan for next week and add the colors into your planning system, Do you have a good balance of activities?  If not, see where you can move things around to be sure you are taking time for yourself , your work team, and family, as well as plans for your personal career growth.  Find what motivates you, plan time for it, and you will find yourself not only better balanced but rejuvenated and more motivated.  As a refreshed individual you can become an even greater asset to your chosen profession.

May 8, 2018

Three Bucket Analogies for Business Productivity

I find it interesting that a bucket is used by some management experts to explain their concepts of motivation, time management, or leadership.  Below are links to good articles or posts on two of the productivity concepts. For motivation, I found multiple ideas on the internet and in books that had some elements in common.  So I just summarized the common concepts in what seemed a logical way to me. 

Motivation analogy of filling the bucket:
  • Individual’s Drive: Employee feedback needs to be specific, timely, and aligned with their personal value system.
  • Team’s Performance: The team needs to know how well it is doing as a team.
  • Manager’s actions: To keep buckets filled, managers need to provide the team and members with feedback on how they are doing and let team know the work they do is cared about.
  • The Work: The team needs to know what are the main things are that they need to be do, why it is important, and what is key to accomplishing a good job.

Plug the holes before filling the bucket.” - Frank Sonnenberg

Time Management analogy of filling a bucket (your day) with rocks (high priority), pebbles (medium), and sand (low priority).  Others add a water element, which is crisis management or fire-fighting that quickly fills up the bucket and can push out the other priorities if you are not careful. 

Leadership bucket analogy based on Transactional to Transformational using military example of idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration

April 10, 2018

Three Virtues of Ideal Team Players: Humble, Hungry, and Smart

The Ideal
Team Player book

I liked the fable in The Ideal Team Player by Patrick Lencioni.  Having been in a corporation that fostered team-building and coming from family with construction (from ditch-digging to carpentry and many things in between), I understood the analogy.  The primary point of the book is hiring the right people for your company culture can increase team-building as well as result in efficiency.  It takes the concept of cohesive teams from building teams within an organization to filling them with the right membership. If you work in Human Resources or are a manager/leader with hiring responsibilities, you should want to read this book.

The Ideal Team Player model contains three virtues that the ideal team player must have:  humility, hunger, and people-smarts.  Lencioni says "What makes humble, hungry, and smart powerful is not the individual attributes, but rather the required combination of all three.  If even one is missing in a team member, teamwork becomes significantly more difficult, and sometime not possible."  

More detail on the virtues follows the fable in the 57 pages on why the model is important for teamwork and how-to use the model in a company.  To see a short description of each trait and a drawing of the model, read Hiring the Best Playersfor Your Team.  In the model section, Lencioni warns about hiring people who only possess one of the three traits:  Humble/Pawn, Hungry/Bulldozer, and Smart/Charmer.  He also helps us understand that here are different levels of people within companies that only have two of the three virtues that may require performance development towards getting the third trait. Each of these has a difficulty level: Low/Accidental Mess-maker can be trained to change, Medium/Lovable Slacker will require a lot of time to change, and High/Skillful Politician most likely will not change. For suggestions on how to spot these six people, read the book or visit Three Essential Virtues.

Lencioni suggests four ways to apply the three virtues in an organization.
1. Hiring, includes both interviewing and checking references.
2. Assessing current employees against the model.
3. Developing employees who are lacking in one of more virtues.
4. Embedding the model in company's culture.

For #2, using pages 192-193 of the book, Lencioni suggests team members self-evaluate themselves against the three virtues:  humble, hungry, and smart.  Lencioni offers that same Ideal Team Player Self Evaluation free as a printable 1-page PDF on his company website.  He also offers a free Manager’s Assessment for Direct Reports on his site for #2.  For #3 he suggests coaching and  DISC.  For #4, he talks mostly about performance management - first I suggest change management. For #1, many of the sample interview questions from the book are also available in an Interview Guide on the website, which I think is very generous of the author.

March 13, 2018

Five Do’s and Don’ts for Business, Team, or Government Meetings

R.A!R.A! A Meeting Wizard’s Approach book

Below are five quick Do’s and Don’ts for Meetings.  I know all of these and more details on how they work are in my book R.A!R.A! A Meeting Wizard’s Approach and associated podcasts.

  1. Do make your meetings short and productive.  This will be appreciated by everyone in the meeting.  Short, focused meetings are more likely to accomplish the goal of the meeting than longer ones that drag on with too much discussion and revisiting of issues.  
  2. Do not fall into the scheduled meeting trap.  In other words, just because you have a weekly meeting on the calendar, you should not hold it if no participation is required or if there is nothing new to share at this time. 
  3. Do start your meeting with an agenda, allow a few minutes to review and agree to it before going forward.  This can stop people from adding in new items that may eat up your time.  Make sure the most important items are at the beginning of the agenda so they get covered even if you run out of time. 
  4. Do not recap what has already been covered, even if people show up late to the meeting. Instead have your agenda visible, the late person can use it to catch up to where you are in the meeting.  If they have questions about something they missed, they can ask the meeting leader during a break or after the meeting ends.
  5. Do start and end your meetings on-time regardless of who is there.  Everyone has other priorities and their time should not be taken for granted.  Meetings that often start late or always overrun the allotted time, make the meeting leader look disorganized as well.
For a baker’s dozen Do’s and Don’ts, read my Meeting Manners article.

February 20, 2018

Millennials in the Workplace: Social Awareness for Business Leaders

In the 15 minute video below, Simon Sinek explains some of the issues business leaders face with millennials n the workplace.  A lot of it is funny, bur the message is really serious.  Managers need to be aware of the social issues this generation faces due to the "everyone is a winner" attitudes they were raised in.  The instant gratification of social media has caused some problems with their perceptions and self-esteem than management and human resources has to work to overcome.  An unexpected key message - no cell phones in conference rooms!  Cell phones are a distraction that well working teams can not afford.  Want more on dealing with millennials in the workforce, visit Millennials in the Workforce: Learn To Use It or Expect To Lose It.

February 6, 2018

Monday Morning Leadership on Employee Performance and Meetings

I recently re-read an oldie-but-goody management book Monday Morning Leadership by David Cottrell.  I suggest if you want to read a good leadership book with quick and easy-to-apply tips, you get this one.  Keep it in your briefcase or backpack to read a chapter a day whenever you are waiting around for others.  In the meantime, below are a few highlights to consider.

Surprising issues from chapter #3, Escape from Management Land which many managers probably do not realize they have (and a few tips on how to improve) are:
  • 30% of employees are super-stars (recognize, engage, reward, and motivate them to keep them)
  • 50% of employees are in the middle (encourage super-stars to volunteer to mentor these people, and send them to training to get better or become more flexible)
  • 20% are falling stars or failing stars (these are the people that should be de-hired)

In chapter #6 on time management, Do Less or Work Faster, Cottrell shares a similar chart to below on meetings as time wasters.  I found this chapter interesting as most of his tips were the same as (but worded slightly different) what I suggest in my books RARA,A Meeting Wizard’s Approach and TAPP Steps in Time Management.  Hyperlinks in the adapted chart goes to a few tip articles from my meeting management book.  If you really want to know how to run an effective meeting, you need to get my book!

How we do our things
The things we do
Right Things Right
Run a productive and necessary meeting.
Right Things Wrong
Time-wasting in an important meeting.
Wrong Things Right
Facilitate a great meeting that was not necessary.
Wrong Things Wrong
Waste everyone’s time at an unnecessary meeting.


For more quick tips from the book, visit the blog posts of my colleague with book excerpts: