Friday, March 30, 2007

Bye-Bye, 1q7

So does time go fast, or what?! Before it's too late, then, how did you do with with respect to:
  1. Things you hoped to get started in 1q7?
  2. Things you hoped to get finished in 1q7?

Now, while it's still early,

  1. What do you want to do more of in 2q7?
  2. What do you want to do less of in 2q7?
Put some reminders on your calendar to help keep you on track.

Labels:

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Labor of Obligation

Some of the work we do falls under the category of Labor of Obligation:
  • quote/unquote "important" assignments that we may think are trivial
  • urgent requests for any of a variety of things
  • monthly or quarterly reports that no one really reads, but cause all sorts of consternation if they're not submitted on time

Other things we do fall under the category of Labor of Love:

  • pet projects of ours
  • things we feel truly make a difference in the our world (no matter how big or small we happen to define that world at any point in time)
  • certain types of work that we just happen to particularly enjoy and/or find fulfilling in some way

Too often, though, we spend so much time with our Obligations that we run out of time to work on the important stuff - the things that really matter to us.

There's no easy answer, but more than likely, it has something to do with getting through the stuff you don't like doing more quickly so that there's time left to do what you do like to do.

You might even say that we each have an obligation to create the time needed to work on what we love doing - an obligation to ourselves.

What, then, are three things you can do to: (a) reduce the number or scope of - and amount of time spent on - the obligatory things you do so that you can; (b) increase the number or scope of - and amount of time spent on - things you'd do for the sheer love of being able to do them?

Go there for a while and see what that does for you.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

What Do You Really Care About?

Talk is cheap; actions are what matter. But even actions have gradations.
  • You may care enough about something to be willing to let it happen.
  • You may care enough about something to be willing to help it happen.
  • You may care enough about something to be willing to make it happen.
What, then, do you care enough about to be willing to make happen?

It's an interesting question because not only does it tell you what you really are interested in - it also tells you what you really are NOT interested in.

And that's something that others probably already know about you whether you realize it or not.

Labels:

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Bad News and the Two-Question Set

A system failed. A human error occurred. A competitor won out. An audit failed. A process broke. Or any of a variety of other unfortunate circumstances. Regardless of the cause, it's now your job to tell someone the bad news!

While you can't prevent that someone from ultimately shooting the messenger, you can make things easier on yourself by having clear, crisp, answers to the following Two-Question Set:
  1. How did you solve/meaningfully address this problem?
  2. What have you done to insure it never happens again?

If you cannot answer these two simple questions in a confident and articulate manner, don't kid yourself - you have some important work yet to do.

Now, sometimes, it's more important to be timely than thorough - especially when it's new news, as it were. In those cases, it's perfectly reasonable to say something like this:

"This is a conversation where I tell you something's broken; it's not the conversation where I tell you it's fixed."

Know, though, that this in no way absolves you from answering the Two-Question Set in the very near future. To maintain your credibility and regard, you must be able to say precisely how you solved/meaningfully addressed the problem at hand, and what you put in place to prevent it from ever happening again. And, of course, your solutions must be good ones.

But if they are, you'll likely find your reputation in the organization increases notwithstanding the problems that occurred on your watch.

Labels:

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Framing Success Stories with with P-A-R

I'm often asked, "How can I be sure to put my best foot forward in an interview? What's the best way to share Success Stories?" My answer: Frame them with P-A-R:
  • P - Start by stating a PROBLEM you've dealt with that is relevant to one that your prospective employer might have and/or want you to be able to address.
  • A - Next, explain the APPROACH you took to meaningfully, if not eloquently, resolve the problem.
  • R - Then share how the RESULTS you achieved not only solved the immediate problem, but enabled additional downstream benefits as well.

Information Technology Example:

"Tell me about an experience you had with handling a major system outage."

Sure, I'd be happy to. The problem was this: All calls into our facility were being improperly rerouted by the phone company to a 'this number is no longer in service' recording.

Obviously, this was unacceptable. So, I took the following approach: Through a series of conversations, I was able to quickly learn the name and number of the specific person responsible for assigning technicians to fix such problems. Unfortunately, she was less than cooperative, at first, to put it mildly! But we didn't have time to go in circles, so I said, "Look, this is a real mess so I need to know: Is it that you don't want to help me, or you don't know how to help me. Now, which is it?"

That turned the tide and in a very short period of time she had her top technicians working to restore our service - which they did in record time. So that was good, but the added bonus was that I now had some new key inside contacts who could be excellent resources for helping us address future outages. And you can be sure that those results have paid multiple dividends since.

Human Resources Example:

"Tell me about your experience with implementing changes to the benefits administration process for a unionized workforce."

Sure, I'd be happy to. The problem we faced was that the benefits staff was spending a whole lot of time checking on the status of pending insurance claims for employees and not getting to other important matters.

So, I took the following approach: I researched, proposed, and got approval to install a web-based claims management system where employees could check on their claims themselves - without HR's assistance. Of course, the biggest key to making something like that work effectively was getting union buy-in, which I was able to do by demonstrating how employees could check status from their home computers anytime, day or night. (Too, I agreed to install several shop-floor terminals for employees who didn't have home computers.)

The results were pretty good: Not only did we save the company tens of thousand of dollars each year in the benefits management area, but we were also able to improve efficiencies in other benefits-related work - and improve union relations, as well. We hit the trifecta on this one!

Everyone has Success Stories to share. But try taking a few of yours and frame them with the P-A-R model. See if it doesn't make them that much more compelling and engaging stories to tell.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Is Employee Retention Overrated?

There's so much written about employee retention problems - how to stop employees from leaving for better opportunities, how to deal with head-hunters poaching the best-of-your-best, how to best allocate your training dollars to keep them from leaving, etc. And while it often is a shame when organizations lose good people, I guess I'm a contrarian about this because I think the bigger problem is that too many employees stay too long with an employer:

  • Marginal employees whose performance is sub-standard, but not quite poor enough to justify termination.
  • Chronic 'problem children' who've been shuffled around from one department to another so many times that they now feel justified in not doing their jobs well
  • Slippery bosses who regularly mess things up but still get tapped to head yet another plum assignment because they know how to play the political game
  • Long-term employees (including bosses) who stopped learning anything new years ago, but still insist they're experts on the 'right' way to fix new, and significantly more complex, problems.
My recommendation is this: Don't encourage these people to stay; encourage them to leave.

And why not? There's hardly a better time.

  • Bonus monies have been paid out.
  • New vacation/personal/sick time allocations have been accrued.
  • The motivational aspects from the year-end salary treatments, for better or worse, have worn off.
  • Their lackluster performance has already undermined your efforts for a bigger and better first quarter.
  • And those fabulous employees who couldn't be retained have created numerous openings in other companies for the very same marginal employees that you'd like to see go.

So who are the people you know you really ought to have some heart-to-heart conversations with about helping them move on? How can you help them be 'discovered' - and poached - by other companies?

Give it some thought. The upside could be considerable to them ... and you.

Labels:

Friday, March 09, 2007

Mentor Coach Interview: Barry Zweibel

Thanks to Linda Boos and The New Coach Connection's blog; "Making Coach Connections" for their interview of me in their February 28, 2007 post, titled: Mentor Coach Interview: Barry Zweibel. Here are some excerpts:

Hello all and welcome to the Wednesday Interview! The final coach I have chosen to interview is our own Barry K. Zweibel, MCC, ICF-Certified Master Coach. Barry is newly certified MCC and I gained much from his answers, I hope you will too.

Read on.

How do you define coaching?
Iteratively! Really, it all depends on where people start talking to me about it. “Is it like therapy?” Well, yes, sort of, but it’s more about moving forward from where you’re at than looking backwards … “Is it like consulting?” Why yes, but it’s not about me giving you my answers, it’s about helping you determine your own answers …

When did you decide to become a coach? What was your aha moment? My undergraduate degree is in psychology (MBA in marketing) so the people-side-of-life has always been an interest to me. But I didn’t like how therapy was pathologically-based. Sure everyone can probably benefit from therapy, but not everyone is broken, so what about all the “normal” people who are just feeling stuck or uncomfortable or aren’t sure what to do next, etc.? But coaching wasn’t around back then.

Fast forward, and a guy named Chip Bell (Managers as Mentors) turned me on to a coach-like perspective and Thomas Leonard sealed the deal. They both helped me realize I already was coaching; it was now a matter of doing it full-time rather than just as an adjunct of my other professional responsibilities.

Once you started your business, how long did it take you to go from zero to a sustainable business? What did that involve?
Year One was good enough in that it was only a half-year, really (I started GottaGettaCoach! on July 4, 2000 – Independence Day!) and Year Two was pretty good, too – but I think that was because most of my work came from people I already knew. Year Three was awful – I ran out of contacts ~ and hadn’t yet figured out how to get people I didn’t know to find and hire me. Apparently something clicked, because Years Four, Five, and Six have each been great and progressively better than the one prior. (Year Seven, 2007) is starting off quite nicely, too.

What did that involve? Patience, and persistence, of course. But I think the thing that made the most difference was creating specific business development (biz-d) and client acquisition strategies that were customized enough to me so that I truly enjoyed working them. I learned that there is no one right way to make a small business successful – there are zillions of ways. So I choose a few that worked (and that were within my comfort zone) and worked them as passionately as I could.

Where do you see coaching going in the future and what do you think the next big trends will be?
I’m very optimistic. More and more people are being coached by their friends, relatives, and co-workers and are really liking the ‘it’s-all-about-me’ thing. But they increasingly don’t like how their informal coach’s vested interests keep getting in the way. As such, they’ll increasingly look to professional, objective, coaches (read: you and me) to hire.

Next big trends? Here are three: (1) The increased importance of certification (and ultimately licensure) of coaches will cause scads of casual and part-time coaches to back away from the field creating more opportunity for those remaining; (2) more coaches will opt for group-work creating even more opportunity for those continuing to focus on 1-on-1 work; (3) trends won’t matter because how many clients do you really need to have a successful practice, anyway?!

What do you love about being a coach and coaching?
No need to preach to the choir on this one – I love that I get to be a coach and that I get to coach. Is there anyone out there who doesn’t get that?!

What are the top three pieces of advice you’d leave for new coaches?
(1) focus more on your biz-d than you probably are; (2) do it in ways that truly work for you – regardless of what anyone else has to say about what you should or should not be doing; (3) adopt a puppy!

So okay, I only had two pieces of advice, but there is something to be said for being as good a businessperson/coach as your dog already thinks you are!

Labels:

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Definitive 200 - Rock n Roll's Best

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in conjunction with the National Association of Recording Merchandisers (NARM) have released the Definitive 200, that is what they consider the top "200 ranked albums of that every music lover should own."

Don't let it bother you that NARM, the self-proclaimed "voice of music retailing", has everything to gain by us buying more music. Vested interests aside, the list is really too good to pass up:

  1. BEATLES SGT. PEPPER'S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND - 1967 *
  2. PINK FLOYD DARK SIDE OF THE MOON - 1973 *
  3. MICHAEL JACKSON THRILLER - 1982 *
  4. LED ZEPPELIN LED ZEPPELIN IV - 1971 *
  5. U2JOSHUA TREE - 1987 *
  6. ROLLING STONES EXILE ON MAIN STREET - 1972
  7. CAROLE KING TAPESTRY - 1971 *
  8. BOB DYLAN HIGHWAY '61 REVISITED - 1965 *x
  9. BEACH BOYS PET SOUNDS - 1966
  10. NIRVANA NEVERMIND - 1991 *
  11. PEARL JAM TEN - 1991
  12. BEATLES ABBEY ROAD - 1969 *@
  13. SANTANA SUPERNATURAL - 1999 *
  14. METALLICA METALLICA - 1991
  15. BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN BORN TO RUN - 1975 *
  16. PRINCE PURPLE RAIN - 1984 *
  17. AC/DC BACK IN BLACK - 1980
  18. ROLLING STONES LET IT BLEED - 1969
  19. DOORS DOORS - 1967 *
  20. GRATEFUL DEAD AMERICAN BEAUTY - 1970 *#
  21. SHANIA TWAIN COME ON OVER - 1997
  22. WHO WHO'S NEXT - 1971 *
  23. STEVIE WONDER SONGS IN THE KEY OF LIFE - 1976 *
  24. FLEETWOOD MAC RUMOURS - 1977 *
  25. PINK FLOYD WALL - 1979 *
  26. ALANIS MORISSETTE JAGGED LITTLE PILL - 1995 *
  27. NORAH JONES COME AWAY WITH ME - 2002
  28. EMINEM MARSHALL MATHERS LP - 2000 *
  29. OUTKAST SPEAKERBOXX-LOVE BELOW - 2003
  30. DR. DRE CHRONIC - 1992
  31. BEASTIE BOYS LICENSED TO ILL - 1986
  32. GUNS 'N ROSES APPETITE FOR DESTRUCTION - 1987
  33. DIXIE CHICKS WIDE OPEN SPACES - 1998
  34. MILES DAVIS KIND OF BLUE - 1959 *x
  35. EAGLES HOTEL CALIFORNIA - 1976 *
  36. DEF LEPPARD HYSTERIA - 1987
  37. SOUNDTRACK GREASE - 1980 *
  38. MARVIN GAYE WHAT'S GOING ON - 1978 *
  39. BEATLES WHITE ALBUM - 1968 *
  40. SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER - 1977
  41. JIMI HENDRIX ARE YOU EXPERIENCED? - 1967 *
  42. BEATLES REVOLVER - 1966 *
  43. BOSTON BOSTON - 1976 *#
  44. BON JOVI SLIPPERY WHEN WET - 1986
  45. U2 ACHTUNG BABY - 1991
  46. WHITNEY HOUSTON WHITNEY HOUSTON - 1985
  47. LED ZEPPELIN LED ZEPPELIN II - 1969 *
  48. DAVE MATTHEWS BAND CRASH - 1996 *x
  49. ROLLING STONES STICKY FINGERS - 1971
  50. GREEN DAY DOOKIE - 1994 *
  51. LED ZEPPELIN HOUSES OF THE HOLY - 1973
  52. JONI MITCHELL BLUE - 1971*
  53. ELVIS PRESLEY ELVIS AT SUN - 2004
  54. AEROSMITH TOYS IN THE ATTIC - 1975 *
  55. LAURYN HILL MISEDUCATION OF LAURYN HILL - 1998
  56. BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN BORN IN THE U.S.A. - 1984 *
  57. 50 CENT GET RICH OR DIE TRYIN' - 2003
  58. AC/DC HIGHWAY TO HELL - 1979
  59. NOTORIOUS B.I.G. LIFE AFTER DEATH - 1997
  60. VAN HALEN VAN HALEN - 1978
  61. GREEN DAY AMERICAN IDIOT - 2004 *
  62. BLACK SABBATH PARANOID - 1971
  63. EMINEM EMINEM SHOW - 2000
  64. JEWEL PIECES OF YOU - 1995
  65. COLDPLAY RUSH OF BLOOD TO THE HEAD - 2002 *x
  66. MEATLOAF BAT OUT OF HELL - 1977
  67. USHER CONFESSIONS - 2004
  68. KID ROCK DEVIL WITHOUT A CAUSE - 1998
  69. GEORGE HARRISON ALL THINGS MUST PASS - 1970 *
  70. BILLY JOEL STRANGER - 1977 *
  71. EAGLES HELL FREEZES OVER - 1994
  72. VAN MORRISON MOONDANCE - 1970 *
  73. REM AUTOMATIC FOR THE PEOPLE - 1992 *x
  74. PHIL COLLINS NO JACKET REQUIRED - 1985
  75. METALLICA MASTER OF PUPPETS - 1986
  76. FAITH HILL BREATHE - 1999
  77. JOHNNY CASH AT FOLSOM PRISON - 1968 *
  78. JOHN COLTRANE LOVE SUPREME - 1964
  79. PINK FLOYD WISH YOU WERE HERE - 1975 *x
  80. MICHAEL JACKSON OFF THE WALL - 1979
  81. MARVIN GAYE LET'S GET IT ON - 1973
  82. BOB SEGER NIGHT MOVES - 1976 *
  83. PAUL SIMON GRACELAND - 1986 *
  84. LINKIN PARK HYBRID THEORY - 2000
  85. PRINCE 1999 - 1983
  86. DEF LEPPARD PYROMANIA - 1983
  87. JANET JACKSON CONTROL - 1986
  88. RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS BLOOD SUGAR SEX MAGIK - 1991
  89. DIRE STRAITS BROTHERS IN ARMS - 1985 *
  90. TUPAC ALL EYEZ ON ME - 1996
  91. MATCHBOX TWENTY YOURSELF OR SOMEONE LIKE YOU - 1996 *#
  92. RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS CALIFORNICATION - 1999
  93. LED ZEPPELIN PHYSICAL GRAFFITI - 1975
  94. NELLY COUNTRY GRAMMAR - 2000
  95. CREED HUMAN CLAY - 1999
  96. CLASH LONDON CALLING - 1979
  97. CELINE DION FALLING INTO YOU - 1996
  98. NEIL YOUNG HARVEST - 1972 *
  99. SOUNDTRACK DIRTY DANCING - 1987
  100. DIXIE CHICKS HOME - 2002
  101. TOM PETTY FULL MOON FEVER - 1989 *
  102. VAN HALEN 1984 - 1984
  103. SOUNDTRACK TITANIC - 1997
  104. CROSBY STILLS & NASH DEJA VU - 1970 *
  105. TLC CRAZYSEXYCOOL - 1999
  106. BECK ODELAY - 1994 *x
  107. KENNY G BREATHLESS - 1992
  108. NWA. STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON - 1989
  109. SEX PISTOLS NEVER MIND THE BOLLOCKS - 1977 *
  110. BEATLES RUBBER SOUL - 1965 *
  111. RADIOHEAD O.K. COMPUTER - 1997 *x
  112. SIMON & GARFUNKEL BRIDGE OVER TROUBLE WATER - 1970 *
  113. DIXIE CHICKS FLY - 1999
  114. METALLICA AND JUSTICE FOR ALL - 1988
  115. MICHAEL JACKSON DANGEROUS - 1991
  116. MARIAH CAREY DAYDREAM - 1995
  117. SOUNDTRACK TOP GUN - 1999
  118. ELTON JOHN GOODBYE YELLOW BRICK ROAD - 1973 *
  119. POLICE SYNCHRONICITY - 1983 *#
  120. NO DOUBT TRAGIC KINGDOM - 1995
  121. ROLLING STONES BEGGAR'S BANQUET - 1968
  122. R KELLY R - 1998
  123. TOOL LATERALUS - 2001
  124. OASIS WHAT'S THE STORY MORNING GLORY - 1995 *
  125. BOB MARLEY EXODUS - 1977 *
  126. JOURNEY ESCAPE - 1981 *
  127. CHRISTINA AGUILERA CHRISTINA AGUILERA - 1999
  128. JAY-Z BLUEPRINT - 2001
  129. ALICIA KEYS DIARY OF ALICIA KEYS - 2003
  130. SOUNDTRACK O BROTHER WHERE ART THOU? - 2000
  131. CARS CARS - 1978 *
  132. ENYA DAY WITHOUT RAIN - 2000
  133. NATALIE COLE UNFORGETTABLE WITH LOVE NATALIE COLE - 1991
  134. SOUNDTRACK FOOTLOOSE - 1984
  135. LIONEL RICHIE CAN'T SLOW DOWN - 1983
  136. SARAH MCLACHLAN SURFACING - 1997 *
  137. BONNIE RAITT NICK OF TIME - 1989 *
  138. METALLICA RIDE THE LIGHTNING - 1984
  139. SHERYL CROW TUESDAY NIGHT MUSIC CLUB - 1993 *
  140. FRANK SINATRA IN THE WEE SMALL HOURS - 1954
  141. EARTH WIND FIRE GRATITUDE - 1975
  142. ZZ TOP ELIMINATOR - 1983
  143. WILLIE NELSON RED HEADED STRANGER - 1975
  144. JOHN LENNON IMAGINE - 1971 *
  145. TONI BRAXTON TONI BRAXTON - 1993
  146. ETTA JAMES AT LAST - 1961
  147. ELVIS PRESLEY ELVIS PRESLEY - 1956
  148. CAT STEVENS TEA FOR THE TILLERMAN - 1970 *
  149. SMASHING PUMPKINS MELLON COLLIE & THE INFINITE SADNESS - 1995 *
  150. DAVE BRUBECK TIME OUT - 1959
  151. JANET JACKSON JANET - 1993
  152. QUEEN A NIGHT AT THE OPERA - 1975 *
  153. OZZY OSBOURNE BLIZZARD OF OZZ - 1980
  154. WILL SMITH BIG WILLIE STYLE - 1997
  155. PRINCE SIGN OF THE TIMES - 1987
  156. PUBLIC ENEMY IT TAKES A NATION OF MILLIONS TO HOLD US BACK - 1988
  157. BOB DYLAN BLOOD ON THE TRACKS - 1975
  158. GEORGE MICHAEL FAITH - 1987
  159. BOYZ II MEN COOLEYHIGHHARMONY - 1993
  160. DESTINY'S CHILD WRITING'S ON THE WALL - 1999
  161. JAY-Z BLACK ALBUM - 2003
  162. AVRIL LAVIGNE LET GO - 2002 *
  163. FUGEES SCORE - 1996
  164. MADONNA LIKE A VIRGIN - 1984
  165. LED ZEPPELIN LED ZEPPELIN - 1969 *
  166. STEVIE RAY VAUGHN TEXAS FLOOD - 1983
  167. STONE TEMPLE PILOTS CORE - 1992
  168. ORIGINAL CAST PHANTOM OF THE OPERA HIGHLIGHTS - 1988 *
  169. JETHRO TULL AQUALUNG - 1971 *
  170. TUPAC ME AGAINST THE WORLD - 1995
  171. DAVID BOWIE RISE AND FALL OF ZIGGY STARDUST - 1972 *
  172. SHAKIRA LAUNDRY SERVICE - 2002
  173. SOUNDTRACK FORREST GUMP - 2001
  174. AL GREEN CALL ME - 1973
  175. CURTIS MAYFIELD SUPERFLY - 1997
  176. LIVE THROWING COPPER - 1994
  177. GEORGE BENSON BREEZIN' - 1976 *
  178. WHITE STRIPES WHITE BLOOD CELLS - 2001
  179. LYNYRD SKYNYRD PRONOUNCED LEH-NERD SKIN-ERD - 1973 *
  180. SADE DIAMOND LIFE - 1984 *
  181. FLEETWOOD MAC FLEETWOOD MAC - 1975 *
  182. PAUL MCCARTNEY & WINGS BAND ON THE RUN - 1973 *
  183. BEYONCE DANGEROUSLY IN LOVE - 2003
  184. ANITA BAKER RAPTURE - 1986
  185. NAS IIIMATIC - 1994
  186. BARBRA STREISAND A STAR IS BORN - 1976
  187. EARTH WIND FIRE THAT'S THE WAY OF THE WORLD - 1975
  188. ANITA BAKER RHYTHM OF LOVE - 1994
  189. JAY-Z IN MY LIFETIME VOL 1 - 1997
  190. LL COOL J MAMA SAID KNOCK YOU OUT - 1990
  191. STEELY DAN AJA - 1977 *x
  192. WILLIE NELSON STARDUST - 1978
  193. ARETHA FRANKLIN SPARKLE - 1976
  194. ANDREA BOCELLI ANDREA - 2004 *
  195. BOB DYLAN BRINGING IT ALL BACK HOME - 1965
  196. LUTHER VANDROSS NEVER TOO MUCH - 1981
  197. U2 ALL THAT YOU CAN'T LEAVE BEHIND - 2000
  198. RUSH 2112 - 1976
  199. OUTKAST AQUEMINI - 1998
  200. GRAND FUNK RAILROAD WE'RE AN AMERICAN BAND - 1973 *
Fun list, yes?!

----
* currently in my collection - or was, at one point
@ the first vinyl album, cassette, and CD I purchased
# currently in my car!
x currently on my nightstand

Labels: ,

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Value of DE-celerating

Much is written about the importance of being able to accelerate into new opportunities as they arise. The purpose of this post, though, is to invite you to consider the importance of DEcelerating, when possible - which is likely to be more doable than you realize.

Four reasons why becoming a skilled decelerator makes sense:
  1. It gives you permission to be merely excellent, rather than 'perfect' when working on specific tasks and assignments. (The value-added of non-specific perfection is terribly over-rated, and ridiculously time-consuming.)

  2. It's easier to see the subtleties of the political landscape and/or project complexities when you're not always pedal-to-the-metal.

  3. It wastes less energy - Think how cars get better mileage when you ease off the throttle a bit - as with automobiles, as with people.

  4. It shows you're more than a 'one-trick' pony - you definitely don't want to be seen as someone who views all situations as nails needing to be hammered. Different speeds enable a much wider range of responses.

The 5th, and perhaps most important reason to become more skilled at decelerating, though, is this:

Decelerating allows you to subsequently accelerate when the situation warrants it.

Whether it's recovering from a problem, cleaning up a mess, planning for your future, figuring out how to work better with your boss, or just because a way-cool new opportunity has come your way, being able to step up your game is a great something to have in your back pocket.

But you just can't do it if you're always running at full speed.

Labels:

Monday, March 05, 2007

Quality versus Timeliness and their Downstream Implications

Back in 2005, I did a post called, "Capable of Doing versus Paid to Do" where I made the point that I did not believe that success at work is about doing what you're capable of doing - it's about doing what only YOU can do. I was reminded of this post several times last week when talking with several clients, actually, about better managing the Quality versus Timeliness dynamic:
Many people, given a job to to, will choose to do the best they possibly can. I do not believe that success at work is simply about the Quality of your work. I believe it's more a function of the Timeliness of your work.
Not that Quality isn't important. It just that in most cases it isn't the most important thing. In most cases, the most important thing is Timeliness - perfectionism notwithstanding.

Given that - and feel free to argue the point - the question is not just, "What's the best I can do?" It's this:

"Given the time available to do this, what IS the best I can do?"

It's obvious that the amount of time you have to do something affects what you can do, right? The example I gave was from my own experience: Several years ago I was asked by the CFO of the company I was working for to provide him with a 3-year budget estimate for my department ... by noon! How absurd, I thought. (How impossible!) So I pushed back. To his credit, the CFO said, "Look, I know it's an unrealistic request. But I need some estimates by noon just the same. So SWAG* it the best you can - and don't be late."

I knew I'd have to let my perfectionism go because it was truly impossible to provide him with the detail (and justification) that I would have liked to provide. There really was only one way to look at it: Given the time available to do this, what WAS the best I could do?

Clearly, the CFO had downstream plans for my information and if I didn't provide him with at least some sort of estimate it would create downstream problems - for him and for me! So I took a SWAG and you know what? He said, "Thanks. This is exactly what I needed."

So the next time you're faced with an unreasonable deadline - one that you can't change - accept that there are probably some pretty important downstream implications of you getting your work in on time. And ask yourself,
"Given the time available to do this, what IS the best I can do?"
And if they don't like the output you provide? Just tell them that's why you pushed on the deadline in the first place. But since they said no, you provided them with the best you could provide within the time available to do it ... and offer to improve it, if time permits. (This is a great way, by the way, to train a boss to not set unnecessarily tight time frames on future assignments, too!)

----

*SWAG - The next level of a WAG - wild-ass guess - is a scientific wild-ass guess, or SWAG!

Labels: