Nonsense At Work

#83: May 2014 MindShift

Nonsense just is,
but sense must be uncovered, grasped and held tight.The NonsenseAtWork Monthly MindShift

May 2014

Six Slack Opportunities Killing Me

Six servings of impact

Serving-of-impactHere’s a simple way to check whether you are near the top or the bottom of the hierarchy. Ask six honest serving-men. That’s right, the ones Rudyard Kipling called What, Why, When, How, Where and Who.

If you tend to think in terms of What and When, then you are near the bottom of the hierarchy, because you are focusing on tasks and actions. If you are more inclined to think in terms of Why and Who, then you are nearer the top, because you are focusing on purpose and people.

What about How? At lower levels How helps you ensure that tasks are performed well. At higher levels, How helps you ensure that people are performing well.

And what about honest serving-man Mr Where? Well, if you serve honestly, then where you are on the organization’s ladder will not determine your impact on people or tasks.

Slack off to work longer

safety goalIrrespective of the impact you have, does your boss want you to work more? Then tell her you must first work less. Research findings now show that if you need to work longer, then you must first take more time off.

You and I have always known that shorter work hours will boost our productivity. Now we have the data to show that working fewer hours is healthier. Wait, we also knew that already.

The relationship between working hours and a measure called “potential years of life lost” shows that longer working hours lead to early death.

This simply means that shorter work hours might actually increase the total number of hours you can work in your lifetime. How so? Because you will be happier, healthier and available here on this planet to work for longer. So come on, Boss, slacking off is a win for both of us.

In the long run, that is.

Rewarded for solving opportunities

Photo Source: US NavyDo you want to know if your business, or the one you work for, will be successful (in the long run)? Here’s how: watch where managers and executives spend their time and energy.

Decades ago Peter Drucker reminded managers that their role is to direct the resources of the business toward opportunities. Not just any opportunities, but specifically those which can lead to significant economic results.

Mr Drucker had noticed that too often time and energy was spent on problems, not opportunities. On top of that, the focus was on where even fantastic performance had little impact on results.

No doubt, problems do need to be solved. However, your future is at risk when problems are solved at the expense of opportunities being exploited. (This is often a simple mindset issue. When the mind-set of your managers is on problems, they will not see opportunities.)

It feels good to solve problems, but the real rewards are in exploiting opportunities.

Killing safety recalls

safety-recallNow that I’ve used the word ‘exploiting’, let’s talk product safety recalls. I recently asked a friend whether she had acted on her car’s safety recall. I consider my friend to be rather intelligent and practical. So it shocked me when she said that she never bothers with that sort of stuff.

And then this week I listened while a judge lectured my son and a tribe of teenagers on the dangers of driving and how easily a car can become a killing machine. As proof, we watched three horrifically graphic videos of car accidents.

I sat there thinking of my friend blissfully ignoring the safety recall on her killing machine. The problem is that she is not alone – according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration around 30% of motorists don’t bother to act on recalls.

No doubt, many people react faster when their precious smart phone needs a fix. How else will they text while driving?

Don’t look at me speaking

look-away-speakingMy work often requires that I think carefully before I speak. Yes, yes, I know, we should all do that, but as we also know, some talk has more consequences than other talk.

And I do so like to think that my talk with clients is consequential. This is why I look away before I answer their questions. I learned long ago that looking away keeps stray thoughts at bay.

Yes, yes, I also know it is rude not to look at you when I speak to you, but I’m thinking, not speaking. And now research validates my perceived rudeness. Psychologists at Stirling University found that children who look away while pondering a question are more likely to supply the correct answer.

Apparently, looking at the human face is mentally demanding. So, if you want a thoughtful response from me, expect me to first look away from your demanding face.

Want to know whether I find your face (mentally) demanding?

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