Leaders are meant to lead change, and yet getting people to change their behaviour seems near impossible. How many times have you felt “If only *they* did what they were supposed to.” when faced with a peer or subordinate that wasn’t doing what you expected (or a child, or a spouse)?
Maybe it’s not them, maybe it’s you. Even if it isn’t you, if their behaviour or performance isn’t changing the way it needs to, maybe you need to change yours. After all, isn’t a definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results?
I’m afraid I have to agree with the Washington Post. Not because I have anything against them, nor Google, but having worked in both open, semi-private, and private offices I have to agree: open floor plan offices are counter-productive. What you gain in reduced operations costs and floor space efficiency, you lose in individual productivity.
This is not new. It goes back to a book I read in university, a very long time ago now: The Mythical Man Month. One of the insights I took away was the demonstrable pattern of the best programmers at the best companies are 100x more productive than the worst programmer at the worst companies. The difference between companies: can you close your door and silence your phone?
That simple. A 10-second interruption costs you 20 minutes (give or take) of think time. In cognitively challenging work (programming, engineering, creative endeavours, writing, and other brain jobs) every interruption means starting over again.
So if you ever wonder why you can spend the entire day at work, and come home feeling tired and wondering what you actually got done, maybe you should work from somewhere else once in a while. I used to book a small meeting room on the other side of the building so nobody would want to come find me unless they absolutely had to. Not to hide, but to get work done. Try it some time. Let me know how it works for you.
“Personal productivity presents itself as an antidote to busyness when it might better be understood as yet another form of busyness. And as such, it serves the same psychological role that busyness has always served: to keep us sufficiently distracted that we don’t have to ask ourselves potentially terrifying questions about how we are spending our days.”
John’s a cool cat with his ears open. His biggest business trends from 2016 is right. I will say I don’t think anything on this list is new except the technology sea change that’s going on around us. Leadership, talent, sales, communication challenges have always and will always be with us. But if you think the last 20 years of having an internet and email around has made your head spin then you might want to sit down. That was just the warm-up and it’s happening now.
When Stevie Inglis’s husband, Max, first bought a motorcycle six years ago, she was a passenger just once on it and she didn’t enjoy it.
“I’m never riding on the back of yours again”, she said to Max.
Stevie knew she wanted her own bike. “I’m a control freak”, she says. So she went out and took a motorcycle training course and when she was finished, her husband gave her his Spark, a Honda VFR 800.
Her history with motorcycles didn’t start there though. Growing up, she rode dirt bikes with her father who is a mechanic himself, as is her brother. When Patti Derbyshire told her about her plans for Torch Motorcycles, to build motorcycles specifically for women Stevie thought, “Wow, that’s something amazing”. The idea of building “something for real women” greatly appeals to her.
It’s not just the bikes either. It’s the apparel. At 5’10” Stevie has a larger frame and when she went shopping for a motorcycle jacket, “It was humiliating”. She ended up in the “dudes section” and as she points out, the men’s jackets just don’t fit women the same. Neither does the hardware. After all, we are built quite differently. From the shoulders to the hips, to the legs, to the reach of the handlebars, women have a physiology that requires its own unique designs, specifics that make the difference for comfort and safety.
When I asked why the motorcycle industry hasn’t geared itself to its women riders, Stevie speculated that maybe they don’t see it as a big enough market share, that it’s still old school, men-derived, that business owners don’t see the profit.
Stevie is excited about the idea of working with her hands and she is looking forward to learning the skills, to being able to fix her own bike. A devoted mom of three (twins: a 16 year old boy and girl and a 10 year old girl), Stevie is also inspiring her own kids just like her dad did for her. Her 16-year-old daughter is planning to be part of the build project, to tag along and watch how it all comes together. She’s hoping to get her mom’s Spark bike but Stevie says not for starting out. “She’s a speed demon” so she says her daughter will get something a little less powerful, a 250 cc. Her son, the other half of the twins, is also mechanically inclined although lately she says he’s more interested in architecture and constructing the greenest building, something she is incredibly proud of, as well.
Stevie says her motto is “have fun with it!” and she doesn’t take anything too seriously except her family.
When asked about advice for other women interested in taking up riding, Stevie recommends they take a course where they supply the bikes to try it and see if it’s something they enjoy. For her, the enjoyment comes from the freedom. “The wind in your face. Being able to stop on the road when you want. All of it feels liberating.”
What are the biggest mistakes good managers make? That’s the question I asked 130 of our Blanchard executive coaches for an article I was working on.
Because many of the coaches at first didn’t notice the distinction of good managers, I got a lot of responses about managers who put themselves first, who are inconsistent, or who simply don’t take the time necessary to be clear about expectations. The narcissists, the bullies, the lazy, the petty, the dictators, the volatile, the jerks—we’ve all had at least one boss that fits the bill there. These are the people who become horror stories at the dinner table and who cause stress-related illness in others.
But these were not the people I wanted to write about. There is already a great deal of literature about terrible bosses.
I was focused on the mistakes good managers make. The person who works as hard…
It’s inevitable: we all make mistakes, hard as it is to admit it. And it’s agonizing when we realize our actions may have had a negative impact on our boss, clients, colleagues, friends, or family.
In the world of coaching, we know that how one responds to a mistake is as important as what one learns from it. Here are three guidelines along with coaching questions that may help you manage your response or coach someone in your organization through a mistake.
Own up. What have you done to be accountable? What apologies have you made? The key is to avoid defending the mistake. An explanation can be useful, but it must come with total ownership—throwing someone else under the bus is not advised. Avoid the “whyne” and stick with the facts. Yes, it’s hard, but it’s a values-led decision to take responsibility.