Category Archives: Management and Education

The Web of Perfectionism: How Not to Get Stuck

Do you find yourself agonizing over every little detail? Does it take you 3 times as long to finish a task because you are trying to get it “just right?” If so, you might be a perfectionist? It’s not an uncommon personality trait to see in the business world and it can be an aid to push people to attempt to do their best. In extreme cases, though, it leads to wasted time and resources.  The outcome usually doesn’t justify the immense effort that went into it. If you find yourself in the web of extreme perfectionism, here are a few tips that can lead you out.

Make a Decision and Stick to it
When you choose on a direction to take and announce it to your employees, stick to it. One of the pitfalls of perfectionism is wasted time second-guessing yourself. If you are constantly changing gears after your team has started the project, then you have wasted those recourses. You might never know if your third, fourth, or fifth decision would be any better.  As the saying goes, go with your gut!

Trus t your Employees
When you tell your staff your plan and what resources you’ll need from them, listen to their input. They will let you know if it’s possible and if they think it’s a good idea. Paying attention to their insight will help keep you from sliding into another guessing game. Another piece to this is, trusting your employees to do their part well. You hired them because they are skilled, right? Lastly, before you start implementing your plan, just in case…

Have a Plan B
You never know what’s going to happen! An obstacle may arise that can’t be overcome, so make sure you have a plan B. A backup plan can help you from getting entrenched to deeply in your first plan and devastated if things go wrong. The more flexible and ready for change you are, the easier it is to adapt to things life throws at you.

Perfectionism could have a beneficial effect as it can make you endeavor to be your best, but that pressure can lead to stress and wasted time. Try to stay flexible and strive for your personal best. If you find yourself caught up in perfectionism, the steps I’ve outlined above should help. You can also read this article to learn how to avoid perfectionism pitfalls all together.

Why Workplace Education is Right for Your Business

Creating workplace education programs (WEP) within your company can be a successful way to improve morale. Whether it is done in a small or elaborate way, education keeps employees sharp, challenged, and inspired. Workplace education also can support employee’s individual goals of furthering their careers and that investment can cause stronger devotion from your employees.

A word of warning: if classes aren’t challenging or interesting, workplace education can be boring and feel like a waste of time to your employees. This will negate the positive effects you were looking to achieve.

Here are some ideas to keep education programs interesting and fun.

Create Teams – Dividing employees into groups will lead to collaboration and healthy competition. This may also build a more supportive workforce overall, as individuals will get to know each other better and develop stronger working relationships.

Use IncentivesIncentives can be a great motivator. They can be used for groups or individuals.

Make Learning Playful – Working games into your workplace education programs helps make learning fun and with help content retention. Games can also develop team-building skills.

Developing workplace education programs for your company can keep the work environment fresh and fun. Sometimes providing full or half-day classes isn’t feasible. Providing something as small as holding an educational meeting can also be effective. You can then implement incentives or games for your employees. The benefits of WEP, when done right, can be great and have a strong positive effect on morale in the office.

Manners and Connectivity

In the age of connectivity, the rules of etiquette have either gotten more complicated or have been thrown out all together. In social situations these days, you are often deluged with phone calls, texts, emails, updates from Twitter, Facebook, or other various other social media feeds. It may seem like common sense to turn off your cell phone or perhaps silence it in social settings, but some people don’t realize that they aren’t giving you their full attention when they say the alert from their phone will “only take a second.” Below are a few examples of connectivity faux pas and tips to avoid making them.

Phones at the Dinner Table – You would not talk over someone midsentence in a conversation. The same manners apply for texting or answering your phone at the dinner table. It interrupts the flow of dialogue and can make your company feel like you aren’t listening to them.

Tips to Avoid this:

  • Excuse yourself from the table if you need to take an urgent call.
  • If you know you will be distracted and curious if your phone alerts you of a text, take a preventive step and turn it off.
  • For dinners lasting longer than an hour, you could suggest the table take a “cell phone break” for those who need or want to check their emails or messages.

Loud Phone Calls in Public Places – Talking on the phone in public forces those around to become a part your conversation. We have all been the victim of this and many of us have committed this faux pas.

Tips to Avoid this:

  • Silence your phone and do not answer it
  • If you need to answer the call, step away to a secluded area to take it and tell the caller that their call is important and you will call them back in x amount of minutes.
  • If you must take the phone call and you are waiting in line, ask the person behind you to hold your spot and quickly go take your call.

Becoming Overly Dependent on Digital Communication – By making email the easiest way to reach you, you run the risk of disconnecting from the world around you. In face-to-face social situations, your email may become a distraction, as you will feel the need to check it regularly.

Tips to Avoid this:

  • Make the most of face-to-face communications.
  • Make your phone to be the best way to get a hold of you over email or texting.
  • Resist the urge to respond to email immediately, wait to check it after you leave your social engagement.

It’s up to us to be aware and realize when we are invading other‘s space or ignoring our companions because we are too connected. Hopefully following some of these etiquette rules will help us take advantage of face-to-face communications that are happening less often in this age of connectivity. Can you think of other social faux pas that occur due to digital communication? If so, let us know!

How to network

Networking is simply having a professional conversation. Even though we live in an age where the majority of our social interactions can be automated, the number one way professionals connect is through old school networking. If you’re involved in business at any level, it’s important to have effective networking skills. Here are some tips to help improve your networking skills, and remember these skills can be applied to any conversation, no matter the level of professionalism.

 

You’re There to Give, not Get

 

It’s easy to ramble on to whomever it is you are speaking with and deny them the opportunity to speak. Make sure and give your conversation partner an ample amount of opportunities to speak their mind and contribute to the conversation. Remember, you’re there to give constructive comments, not get a stage upon which to perform a monologue. Letting the other person have plenty of time to speak makes them feel like a part of a conversation and therefore important.

 

Don’t Appear Desperate

 

Appearing needy in business, much like in dating, is usually a turn off. Acting desperate is a sign of low self-assurance, which does not communicate ability. When networking, remind yourself of the positive things you are bringing to the table. Be confident in yourself and in your abilities and it will show in your conversation. Don’t forget, if you aren’t confident in what you’re talking about, it may best to change the subject.

 

Ask Open-Ended Questions

 

Make sure and give the conversation a place to grow. Don’t smother it by only asking “yes” or “no” questions. Give the person with whom you are speaking room to elaborate on their ideas. Most “yes” or “no” questions can be reworded to make them more open-ended and allow for greater elaboration. For example, instead of asking “Do you like movies?” ask, “What are your favorite movies?” On the off chance that whomever you are speaking with doesn’t like movies, that information will most likely be included in their response as well as the opportunity for elaboration.

 

Networking is all about staying comfortable and maintaining sincere conversations. For more tips, check out this article.

Changes in Services: How to avoid a Backlash

When large companies change their service plan it usually comes as a surprise to the consumer. They may change pricing, put new limitations, or get rid of certain services altogether. While these transitions go smoothly for some companies others make changes so abruptly and drastically that it can cause quite a stir.

The recent change Netflix has made is a great example of transition not going well. Netflix’s decision to separate their DVD and streaming services and raise the cost of both has affected most of us. The change happened so abruptly and with such little explanation that a great many people canceled their subscriptions, more than Netflix had anticipated, nearly half a million to be exact. To try to smooth this debacle over, on the 18th of this month, Reed Hastings, Netflix CEO, wrote an apology and posted it to the Netflix blog. In his statement, he acknowledged that he “… messed up. [And he owes] everyone an explanation.” While his intensions were good the result was not what he expected. There was again a considerable backlash to something he said within the apology. He announced that the DVD-by-mail services and the streaming would be split into completely separate services. The DVD-by-mail service will now be called Qwikster while the streaming services will remain Netflix. Unfortunately, Netflix may be learning that sometimes an apology is not enough.

In late June, AT&T changed their service plan to a tiered pricing plan and eliminated their unlimited data plan. While this upset many people, AT&T chose to honor those who already had the unlimited data as part of their plan.  This allowance for a grandfathered plan may have saved the company from  losing a great deal of customers to other carriers.

Regardless of why companies change the service they offer, the transition time is turbulent. When executing a massive change, companies should develop a strategy for notifying the public to reduce any backlash. Here are a couple strategies that companies should consider when employing major change.

  • Notice, and Lots of It:  Give the public plenty of notice and utilize a forum where customers, particularly those directly affected, can express questions and concerns.
  • Grandfathered Services:  Honor services and prices current clients have prior to the change.
  • Details:  Explain the change in detail! The more transparent you are with your announcement, the more your clients will trust your decision.
  • Discounts: Offer a free month of service or some other type of coupon if clients take advantage of multiple services

If you have any more ideas of ways companies could make the news of service plan changes easier, we’d love to hear from you!

Steer clear of these time wasters

Last week we talked about bad habits to avoid at work, including wasting time on the Internet. Though the Web is one of the most useful advances in technology in the past 30 years, it’s also one of the largest sources of distraction. However, workplace distraction was a problem even before the Internet. Here are three of the most common ways workers can get distracted from their work without using the Internet.

 

The Water Cooler

 

Creating a vibrant work culture is crucial for most businesses for many reasons. Workers who get along well with each other often perform at higher standards. However, there should always be a balance between work and socializing when at the office. It’s easy to fall into the habit of spending extended breaks conversing with a coworker about your personal life. To help combat this, try planning a weekly night out with your friends at work. This will keep you up to date on each other’s lives while decreasing the need to socialize during working hours.

 

Minesweeper

 

Check your computer. No mater what model or make, you’ll most likely be able to find some kind of pre installed game. Even without the Internet, it’s easy to be distracted by computer games like Minesweeper, Solitaire or even Chess. We’ve all tried to slip in a few minutes of gameplay into our work day, but more often than not, those few minutes can add up to a few hours. The best thing to do? Delete these games from your computer outright. Be honest with yourself, you probably don’t even love playing them that much.

 

Daydream

 

It’s easy to get lost in your own thoughts, worried about bills or troubles at home. Being distracted by a daydream is difficult because we rarely daydream on purpose. If you find yourself daydreaming often, try a few things to help increase your focus like getting more sleep or eating a healthy snack while working on a given project. Make sure that you’re getting adequate vitamin B and avoid foods that are high in processed sugars.

 

Staying focused at work can be a challenge, and as we all know, we don’t need the Internet to get distracted. Don’t forget these tips throughout your workweek to help keep you on track. Don’t forget, 90% of productivity is focus!

What not to do at the office

Paying close attention to detail and keeping your workspace tidy are both examples of good habits to form in the office, proof that habits can be a very helpful working tool. Although, there are some habits that should be avoided, even if they seem helpful. Research shows that it takes a minimum of 21 days to break out of a bad habit. Wouldn’t it be easier to avoid forming those habits all together? Here are a few bad habits that are easy to fall into, as well as a few suggestions on how to proactively avoid them.

 

Working Through Lunch

 

Let’s face it, sometimes work can get hectic. We’ve all wished for more hours in the day and sometimes use our lunch hour to gain that much needed extra hour. That mid-day break provides the down time you need during the day that can help you be more productive in the afternoon. Sometimes working through lunch is unavoidable, so make sure to avoid forming the habit. Try giving yourself strict boundaries the help protect your lunchtime.

 

Idealizing

 

We all know how easy it is to idealize a dream job we don’t yet have. Even if that job is something likely unattainable, like working as an actor or being a professional ice cream taster, we all like to think about how it would make life better. This is a very bad habit to fall into, because it makes enjoying your current position very difficult. Instead, try thinking of all the good things your job provides for you, such as money to pay your bills or even free coffee. Taking pleasure in simple and small joys will help you find happiness all of the time.

 

Work Time Distractions

 

Most of us spend our workdays in front of a computer. With all of the wonderful distractions on the Internet, it’s easy to waste an entire morning with YouTube videos and flash-based games. To avoid forming this bad habit, try scheduling “mini-breaks” to enjoy a small distraction, perhaps after completing a large project or working for a large chunk of time.

 

Bad habits can be tricky to break; it is much easier to avoid them all together. The next time you find yourself tempted to form any of these bad habits, take a moment to consider what positive habit you could form instead.