Wednesday, December 31, 2003

What ELSE TV marathons have to offer.

A growing trend these days seems to be cable TV stations running marathons of their favorite television programs. My favorite one of these has been "American Chopper", although the upcoming New Year's Day "Monk" marathon seems pretty intriguing. My daughter's looking forward to "Law & Order: SVU" and who didn't enjoy 11 straight hours of "West Wing" or Nickelodeon's "Lizzie McGuire Day" or more (and more and more) "Trading Spaces"?! (Hey, I'm just reporting what's out there!)

It takes vegging to a whole new level!

But what if this trend toward "marathon days" entered the workplace, too? What might our weekdays look like under those circumstances ...

Monday could be "Email Day" where all we did was respond to what was in our in-boxes. Now many of you get zillions of emails, but I gotta believe that if you had an entire day to focus just on that, why you might even be able to come in a little bit late on Mondays. And wouldn't that be a nice way to start the week?

Having eased into the week like that, Tuesday would then be "Commitment Day". This would be when you'd be responsible for doing all the things you said you'd do. Just imagine: "Sorry, boss, I can't help you out right now, I'm too busy honoring the commitments I've already made to other people."

Wednesday would just have to be "Commitment Overflow Day" (COD for short). Why? Well for two possible reasons. Reason One: We're not all that good as saying "no" to people, so chances are good that we'll have more work to do than can be done in one single day. Reason Two: I suspect that just as we changed the rules in Monopoly to add a kitty to Free Parking, Tuesday might very well morph into something called "Procrastination Day"." Imagine, a whole day where NOT getting anything done is the order of the day. Knowing America's workforce for what it is, I suspect that in a passive-aggressive way, Tuesdays just might turn out to be the most productive time in our country's entire history! But in the event it's not, that's where "Commitment Overflow Day" comes into play.

Thursday, then, would be "Customer Complaint Day" where your best move would be to tell them to send you an email which you'll look at on Monday.

And finally, Friday could be designated as "Personal/Professional Development Day". That's when you'd focus on that performance improvement plan of yours, practicing your leadership, communications, and delegation skills, talking with your coach, and generally showing the world what a wonderful, caring, and helpful person you are. Wouldn't that be a nice way to head into the weekend? (My guess is that Fridays like that, absenteeism would go markedly down, as well.)

With the New Year at hand, you might just want to think about using this marathon technique (or some variation thereof) to sharpen your skills. Here's the template we just covered:

→ Work to improve the clarity and succinctness of your written (verbal, and non-verbal) communications.

→ Learn how to say "no" or how to make a counter-offer so you don't over-commit (as you typically do).

→ Practice honoring your commitments more consistently, more thoroughly.

→ Interact more regularly with your customers, stakeholders, vendor personnel, and internal staff - the people who rely on you and who you rely on.

→ Do what you need to do to be that much better at what you do (and who you are.)

How's that for a recipe for success? And with that, my work for 2003 is officially done.

Speaking of recipes, I just found out that there's an "Iron Chef" marathon getting ready to start later today~. Gotta go! Happy New Years!

-----Category: _fun


Tuesday, December 30, 2003

It's not too late.

So if there was anything else you wanted to accomplish in 2003, you've still got time.

But you better hurry!


Sunday, December 21, 2003

Are 'soft skills' really important?

On one of the message boards I frequent, someone asked for a good definition for the term 'soft skills'. Here's how I replied:

"When I think of 'soft skills' I think of how airline pilots can smoothly land a plane. Sure, a crash would address the need - to get us out of the sky - but we passengers wouldn't be so quick to line up for the next flight now would we?! In a business context, soft skills are what enable safe landings, too - they encourage and motivate people to literally and figuratively stay on board, regardless of how bumpy the flight has been.

"Now isn't that a refreshing way to look at it?"


Monday, December 15, 2003

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Friday, December 12, 2003

Coupons Gone Wild and their Unintended Consequences!

So a not-so-new thing that's becoming more and more popular in the retail world is coupons. Lord & Taylor really started the trend a few years ago. I remember it because I thought it was peculiar that a high-end store like that would use the things. (I also remember feeling I was getting away with something pretty good when I used one to buy a new raincoat.)

But they must work pretty well because this year, I'm noticing more and more retailers using coupons more and more. A quick leafing through of the daily paper netted the following coupons:

> $10 off on $50 (Gaylan's sporting goods)
> 15% off (Border's)
> 10% off (American Mattress)
> 25% off (Cassim Rug Imports)
> 25% off any one item (Sportmart)
> 25% off any one item (Sports Authority)

And coupons arrive almost daily in the mail for cleaning services, closet organizers, oil changes, pizzas, etc. I haven't bought a pizza without a coupon in years!

So once you realize something it's hard to forget it. And there's this one store - Best Buy - that sends me discount coupons on a fairly regular basis. Except here's the thing: I'm finding that if I don't have the coupon with me, I don't buy anything. I mean why pay more?

Same thing with the pizza guy. If I don't have a coupon for one place, I buy from a different place. It's crazy, but this coupon frenzy is actually changing my buying patterns in the exact opposite way that the retailers are hoping for. Instead of buying more, I'm buying less.

The coaching spin on this is this: What might you be doing that results in others reacting in ways exactly opposite from how you want them to?

> If you're a manager and you want people to give you honest, accurate feedback, what might you be doing to discourage them from that?
> If you want your customers to treat you better, how might you actually be encouraging them to turn their requests into crises?
> if your boss is not sharing enough important information with you, how might you be misusing (or not using at all) important information s/he DOES give you?

It's worth thinking about. So my advice is to grab a few coupons, go get a pizza, maybe buy a nice new music CD and look at your Unintended Consequences.

-----Category: _fun

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Monday, December 01, 2003

When are YOU Not Open for Business?

All those cellphone-using store clerks (see Friday, November 21, 2003 entry) got me to thinking ... When are you NOT open for business, either? Maybe it's when you're overstressed, or really tired, bored, or after a long weekend, or just not in the mood, etc.

So as the holiday season starts picking up, and you find yourself wanting to be someplace other than where you are, notice how you react when the phone rings or someone visits. Notice if you're giving signals that say even though you're there, you're really NOT all that interested in being a help; you're really not open for business, either.

It may not be what you're intending to do, but you may be doing it just the same.