The Secret to Amping Up Your Productivity

A few years ago, when I was working in an office setting, I wrote a blog post about amping up productivity.  In hindsight, it’s not bad. But, having grown a little and experienced several different types of work environments since then, I’d tweak my suggestions a bit.  Back then, in the corporate workplace, I was noticing that every person I talked with said they were busy.  People were busy on projects, busy on phone calls, busy answering email and busy in meetings.  I gave this advice:

  • Successful leaders delegate.  Early in my career, a boss told me that in order to be promoted AND be successful I would need to delegate to my team.  Delegation is not just a way to pass along those work tasks we do not want to do.  Delegation is a way to  give tasks to the employee most adept at doing them and to whom it makes sense in the grand scheme of their work.  Delegation can be a way to teach staff who are developing their skills.
  • Focus on a message.  I once heard a speaker tell an audience to write the most important, immediate goal on a Post It note and display it on your computer monitor, or somewhere visible on your desk.  I’ve tried this and it really works.  Any time I got sidetracked in “busy work”, I would see that small reminder and it focused my attention.
  • Push back on false deadlines.  Numerous times a day people come at you with requests to do something.  Everyone has a deadline.  Most people say “yes”, then complain to colleagues that they are too buried to do the task.  When someone asks you to do something for them, negotiate your own deadline.  Speak up if you need to tell them how you prioritize the task compared to other things you have on your plate.  You’ll be surprised how many people build in cushion when they ask someone to help them.
  • Know that not all valuable work happens in front of your computer. This sounds crazy in today’s world, but it’s critical in order to have blocks of time where you can focus on a project.  If you are in front of the screen, you are tempted to answer email.  Find a conference room, chair on another floor, or space outside to get away for 30 minutes or an hour each day to focus .  Another option is to turn off the computer and hit “send calls” and remain in your office.

Now, for many people, these four tips are still valid.  Working smarter, and being productive, doesn’t happen by drinking a special potion.  I wish it was that easy!  What I missed in my earlier post is that we CHOOSE to be busy.  We choose to overload on tasks and to accept work that is not value added to the organization.  Today, in 2017, I would change the focus of how to actually be more productive at work.  It’s by actually choosing to do less work, thinking more, and finding creative ways to do it. 

The real action is not in the small tasks that we take to be more productive.  In fact, it’s really a question of whether each of us WANTS to be more productive.  Maybe we don’t.  The action is in the decision of whether we believe in our company enough to want to be engaged in the successful outcomes.  If we do, then taking steps to higher productivity become second nature.  If we don’t, then we’re making that choice of disengagement.

What do you choose?

 

#CarnivalofHR: Scary Tales from HR

It’s that time of year where we typically think of witches, candy and what we’re going to use to spike the Halloween punch.  This year, it seems to be more about the widespread scary clown sightings.  That said, I’m still a fan of watching scary movies- the cheesier, the better.

With that in mind, I decided to have a scary theme for this month’s Carnival of HR.  Anyone who works in Human Resources knows that it can be scary from time to time.  We’ve all had employees that went a little crazy, situations that seemed to fall apart no matter how hard we tried to make them work, and technology that scared us to death.  I think I’ll start by sharing a “scary HCM” blast from the past that is still relevant today, then a few new posts from the industry influencers who will show you how scary it is out there in the trenches.  First up, my favorite video of China Gorman sharing HR Horror Stories with me.  Trust me, it’s good and even my hairstyle is scary!

 

Westworld

Westworld has to be one of my favorite scary movies of all time.  Made in 1973, I can remember my Dad taking me to the movie theater to see this when I was a very little girl.  What was he thinking?!?  If you haven’t seen it, or haven’t watched in awhile, it’s a great story of how AI has gone horribly wrong.  It makes me think about employees being scared the robots will take their jobs.  We have two great posts that tackle this topic.  First up, Steve Boese hits us with We are Pretty Sure Robots Will Take All the Jobs- Just Not OUR Job.  As always, Steve backs this up with data.  Next up is Ben Plant from Navigo News.  He shares Is Your Job in Danger of Being Automated? Click through to see if your job makes the list!

SAW

One of my all time favorite scary movies is SAW and most of the sequels.  I’m a sucker for going to those movies alone to make it even more scary than having someone to grab.  What scares me the most about SAW is that the situations are all caused by things people should already know.  It’s when the person doesn’t pay attention to the information or situation that they end up in the evil, life-threatening devices created by a madman.  Along those lines, but hopefully not as severe in consequences, are people who don’t know how their company operates and makes money.  You’d be surprised how many employees, and leaders, do not fully understand the process.  Ben Eubanks from Lighthouse Research & Advisory gives us some insight to help keep the boogeyman away.  Oops! How Failing an Interview Question Taught Her About HR Strategy.

Sleeping With the Enemy

While not a true horror movie, Sleeping with the Enemy as a suspenseful thriller has always kept me on the edge of my seat.  The idea that someone you think you know or can trust is really a psychopath, or worse, is the stuff real nightmares are made of.  What if Julia Roberts’ character had checked her husband’s background before marrying him?  It may have turned out a whole different way.  How does this play out in the world of work?  Well, there is still a stir about how much we should research our candidates online before we make an offer.  Ben Plant at Navigo News shares 4 Things To Check in a Candidate’s Facebook Profile to provide some insight on just how far we should go to not hire that “enemy” candidate.

The Witch

Now, bear with me on this next comparison.  The Witch is one of the best made modern horror stories.  Set in the 1700’s in New England, it’s a story of a family that strikes out on their own to create a life and settlement.  At that time, witchcraft was one of the scariest things to those settlers and the movie captures how a very raw, basic way of life can be turned upside down by something very scary.  This brings us to Robin Schooling and her post HR and the Digital Bubble.  Robin shares stories of HR teams who are still forced to operate using archaic tools and how technology can be wanted, but feared.

The Temp and Pacific Heights

It almost goes without saying that any kind of movie that has a stalking dimension is scary.  Whether it was watching The Temp or Pacific Heights, the stories are similar in that people are not always as nice as they present themselves.  They do scary, creepy things.  Check out this post if you’ve ever considered the question, “Do You Know Who You Work With?

Halloween

We’re almost to the end of the carnival and I may have saved the best for last.  What is a good scarefest without mention of Mike Myers and Halloween?  Maybe it was his scary white, expressionless face.  Maybe it was the way he moved slowly after his prey.  Either way, he epitomizes all the key elements of a good scary character.  And like many good scary stories, there are SO many chapters so you can get your fix.  Similarly, I decided there has to be some industry leader out there with enough scary content to make a series.  I found it!  Mike Haberman.

Now, if you know or follow Mike, he is one of the nicest men you’ll ever meet.  He’s also incredibly smart and intuitive and his writing is always the type that teaches lessons.  Check out these three we’ll call:

Halloween: A Story of Sexual Harassment and Bad HR

Halloween 2: Onionhead in the Workplace

Halloween 3: Bit By Generosity in Pay

So, there you have it! I hope you have as much fun reading these as I did.  Stay safe this Halloween!

 

Oracle “Human Talks” Episode 3: Guest, Matthew Jurosek

H3 HR Advisors is excited to share a new video series we have in partnership with Oracle.  Human Talks is a show where we talk to HCM practitioners, analysts, and Oracle partners.  Each episode is approximately 5 minutes, so well worth your time in hearing what is happening in the world of HCM.  These episodes were recorded at HCM World 2016.

Please check out our third episode with Matthew Jurosek.  Matt is a Sales Engineer for Workforce Software.  Workforce Software  provides tailored solutions to empower enterprise and mid‐sized organizations to fully automate time, labor, and workforce scheduling processes, simplify absence management, and enable strategic business insight.

We talked to Matt about working with technology in union environments.  Being able to track absence compliance and all of the types of leaves are examples of the complexity that they help organizations deal with.  Check it out! Also, be sure to connect with Oracle and Workforce Software.

Thank you for watching.  Be sure to visit the Oracle site for more information about Oracle and HCM World 2017.

Trish McFarlane on the Future of Work: Live from Inforum

I had the privilege of being a keynote speaker at Infor‘s Inforum 2016 a few weeks ago. If you’re not familiar with Infor, they provide comprehensive suites that have industry-specific functionality.  Their solutions consist of ERP, HCM, supply chain management, CRM, asset management, financials, and HCM.  Infor may have embraced HCM through a variety of acquisitions, but they have reinvented these into a powerful set of cloud-based human capital management solutions built to adapt to the organization’s evolving business strategy.

I was fortunate to be asked to share my thoughts on the future of work with the Inforum 2016 attendees.  With so many trends being discussed in the industry, I keyed in on a few I think are most important to HR leaders, practitioners and other business leaders.  Thanks in advance for watching and feel free to share any comments or your ideas about the future of work with me in the comments section.

In the growing field of HCM suite providers, Infor remains one to watch!

You Are Beautiful

You are beautiful

Someone said this to me today.  It came at me during a moment when I least expected it, but when I clearly must have needed this karma, this love, from the universe.

you-are-beautifulI cried.  Not a lot, because I am the razor-sharp person who keeps tears bottled up inside.  But, a few spontaneous tears that seemed to take the weight of the world right off my shoulders.

You are beautiful

How could another person, several time zones away, with her own life and needs, make me feel like the most loved person with just three words?  I have no explanation.  But I do know that by sending me that message, she opened up my eyes and reminded me that our words matter.

ALL of our words matter.  When we compliment someone, we lift their spirit.  When we coach them, we prepare them for challenges and successes to come.  When we discourage them, we hurt them for a thousand future moments, not just that moment in time.  It’s simple really.

You are beautiful

It means something.  It feels like something.  It means that I’m valued, needed, wanted.  Reading those words, caused me to take a deep breath.  Breath to give me courage for things to come.  And it’s those breaths that we all need to get through the good times, the bad times.  The times.

You are beautiful

So, thank you Rachelle Roberts.  Your words made a difference today, and I’m grateful.

 

 

Stop Aligning Yourself With the Wrong People

bad-friends*From the dusty archives…

Growing up, my parents steered me away from friends who had undesirable behavior.  Now that I’m a mom, I find myself doing the same thing with my children. Why?  Today’s lesson is a simple one…  you are the company you keep.

  • If you surround yourself with people of good reputation, you will be viewed positively.
  • If you associate with accomplished professionals, you will pick up on what makes them successful.
  • If you affiliate with people who have good values, you will be perceived in the same light.

It frustrates me to see people who surround themselves with people of questionable character.  If you align yourself with people who are arrogant, rude, negative, unmotivated, or who lack a moral compass, you will be perceived similarly.  That is a FACT. 

So, take a good look in the mirror today.  Then, take a look at your contacts online and in your day-to-day life.  If there are people of questionable character, now is your chance to unfollow, unfriend, or dis-associate from them.   You don’t have to associate with negativity.  After all, you ARE the company you keep.  What do you think?

Gen X Used to Feel Entitled Too- Did You?

generation-xSo, you think the Millennials invented the idea of feeling entitled?  Well, it’s not true.  No, other generations of young people have felt entitled.  I felt that way too.  Yes, Gen X has our share of dreamers and employees that were so eager to take on new challenges.  The difference I’m seeing is that when I was early in my career, I had older and wiser bosses who knew just when and how to put me in my place.  There wasn’t concern about hurting feelings with direct feedback.  They just did it.  They lived it.  I never once felt coddled.

I remember being twenty-seven years old and feeling like I knew it all.  I thought I knew better than my boss and I really believed I could “see the big picture”.  I just knew he was holding me back.  After all, I had a M.A. in HR Management and a few years of experience.  Why couldn’t he SEE how ready I was for a promotion?

Well, for starters, I didn’t put in enough time.  In my exempt role, I thought work could be left at the door when I headed for home.  Second, I didn’t do anything proactive to continue my learning in the human resources field.  No webinars.  No articles.  Nothing.  Third, I focused on administrative tasks.  I wasn’t stretching myself to think of the impact of my tasks.  Fourth, I had no idea what my boss really did.  To me, it looked like he was on the phone and in meetings.  How hard was that?

I remember the day I told my dad this boss was holding me back.  He gave me some great advice that I still embrace today:

  • Shadow your boss.  Find out what he really does and how he reached that position.  Watch for skills he uses to connect with people in the company and if he is successful, model those.
  • Come to work early and work late.  Learning how to do more than administrative tasks takes time and practice.  Back then, this meant many hours in the office.  Today, using technology, it’s easy to work early in the morning or late at night from the comfort of your home.
  • Keep educating yourself.  Always.  It’s not your company’s responsibility to do it all for you.
  • Volunteer to take on more challenging work without expecting money or title. Those will come in time.

Somehow, I made it to a more mature state of mind.  I like to think I grew up.  Not sure that it had anything at all to do with my generation, it was just more of a life lesson.

How did you progress through your career?  Did you experience any similar feelings?  What generation are you part of?

I’d love to hear all these answers (and more), so please jump over to my short, pulse survey on Generations and Leadership.  It takes 1- 3 minutes to complete and I really appreciate the feedback!

 

Over 40? Don’t Work More Than 25 Hours a Week

clockHave you heard about the recent study released by the University of Melbourne’s Neuroscience Institute?  In their Applied Economic and Social Research study, they looked at the optimal number of hours a week an employee should work.  Their findings were surprising, to say the least.  Research showed that for every hour you work up to 25 hours a week, your cognitive function steadily increases.  Any hours worked above that threshold sees a decline in cognitive function.  They also say that workers over 40 who work more than 25 hours a week have a harder time recovering from any loss in cognitive function.

If this is true, you can only start imagining the implications.  When you think about the employees that are the decision makers in an organization, it is typically people over 40 years old who work more than 40 hours per week.  In fact, many work 50- 60+ hours a week.  What does it mean when you have your leaders losing cognitive function, yet making major strategic decisions?  Is this something we should worry about?  Additionally, when you think of the traditional 8 hour workday, there are many employees that waste several hours a day at work, so are they already working 25 hours per week?

In the grand scheme of things, I don’t think this study will make anything change overnight.  However, it does give food for thought as we look to ways of working smarter and more collaboratively.  Some questions that come to mind:

  • Would providing a more collaborative workplace be able to support employees working fewer hours?
  • Are there certain times of day where decision-making is optimal?  If so, could concentrating work hours around those times lead to being able to work fewer hours?
  • Are there process changes that can be made to better support employees working PT hours?
  • If workplace changes were made, would employees even agree to work fewer hours?  Would this mean less pay, or more productivity in fewer hours?
  • What are the cost savings associated with more PT workers?
  • Do these findings better support the claim that by 2020, as many as 40%- 50% of jobs will be held by contingent workers?

Like many research studies, there are more questions than answers.  The next thing we know, researchers will be telling us to drink at work.  Oh wait, they already have.  At any rate, it’s fun to think about all the implications.  What do you think?  Would working fewer hours be good for you?  For your organization?  I welcome you to tell me what you think in the comments.