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Showing posts from July, 2013

Awkward Conversations

Many managers, including me, procrastinate when faced with a difficult conversation. The end result is that it becomes even more awkward, the longer it is left.
I have found that long delays have all sorts of potential results, eg:
the situation improves on the surface, so the impact of the conversation is lost, and the learning opportunity is gone orthe frustration builds and the problem grows and the situation spirals out of control and causes real problemsWhile allowing a problem to resolve naturally is sometimes a good thing, if it hides an underlying weakness or prejudice or poor process, it will just re-occur and might be seriously damaging.

So how do you manage those difficult conversations?

Appoint a facilitator (line manager or HR official)Create a safe, quiet space for the meeting.Agree whether it is going to be formally documented or notAgree on a preferred outcome before you start the conversation, even if it is just to have another meetingSet firm ground rules that everybody …

Its a bird, its a plane, no, its Big Data...

And, like Superman,  its all in the Cloud!

One of my favourite quotations is by the extraordinary poet, TS Eliot

"Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?"

The sheer size and volume of the data we are dealing with every day, is forcing us to find new ways to make sense of it all.   So Business Intelligence (BI) and Analytics joined Cloud and Big Data as key to understanding business in the 21st Century.

As an avid reader, my experience in dealing with Amazon and choosing a book, compared to going to my local book store, throws me right into the 21st Century and new sales technologies.  Not only do Amazon have my buying patterns from the books they have sold me, they bought Goodreads, my on-line book club, so they now have access to books I have read, and personal preferences.   Every time, I go onto Amazon a list of recommended books is waiting for me.   And I very rarely exit w…

Mobiles & Meetings

I grew up in the beautiful seaside village of Muizenberg.   Our amazing old house nestled on the mountainside overlooking the river and the sea.   My parents were not big socialisers, but when they went out, they told us where they were going.   On one memorable night, a veld fire started on the mountain side and quickly reached the empty stand next to us.   They were at the movies, and I called and the projectionist flashed an "Urgent, fire on the mountain, call home" with my parents names on the movie screen.   Needless to say, the cinema was cleared out in moments!

What has this got to do with mobiles and meetings?   Well, back in the day, we told our nearest and dearest where we were, where we were going, and what time we would get there.  Now, we don't have to commit to our whereabouts, as we are constantly "on.'   Of course, this means that if we switch our phones off, we are not contactable in case of a home or business emergency.   And the result is, man…

Closing the Productivity Gap - First Day to Effectiveness

When people used to stay in jobs for 10 plus years, there was time for companies to invest both time and money in training and upskilling employees.

In the US, the average tenure is less than 6 years, but it is the under 30's who are moving after short periods.  According to Stats SA, the median employment for the 25 to 34 year old South African worker is 31 months.

Their lack of experience means they need more training before they are productive, and they frequently leave before the company recovers its investment.   While companies can make a real effort to improve their retention, the reality is that younger employees are moving more, so a strategy around closing the productivity gap is crucial, and it starts on day one of employment.

A structured induction process is critical, no matter what the job level.   The day before an employee joins a full plan should be in place, from setting up email addresses to arranging who is going to greet the new person in reception, each deta…

Personal Assistant - the 21st Century Way

As my first job was as a PA at NCR to two sales managers who didn't speak to each other, I learnt early how difficult the life of a PA can be.  I enjoyed getting everything organised, though, and loved working with all the sales guys and getting to understand the sales processes.   And so my very first job exposed me to two things which enabled me to grow in business, sales and IT.
Today being a PA is a well paid career choice, and the incredible abundance of information available online, from weather patterns abroad to the rules of etiquette in different locations globally, has helped to establish a new generation of personal assistants – people who create the kind of structure that can help make their bosses look good.
We are starting to notice that executive level leadership within companies are looking to hire personal assistants who not only have ICT skill sets, but can utilise these skills to source relevant and accurate information to help manage the office.
These are the …

The difference 67 minutes can make

I do love statistics and numbers.   When Sam Parker and Mac Anderson wrote 212°: the Extra Degree. They said,

Raising the temperature of water by one extra degree means the difference between something that is simply very hot and something that generates enough force to power a machine—a beautiful, uncomplicated metaphor that ideally should feed every endeavor—consistently pushing us to make the extra effort in every task we undertake…. It reminds us that seemingly small things can make tremendous differences. In fact, it is the difference between hot and boiling!

So when a large group decides to change their attitude to life for 67 minutes, the difference is amazing.  And I have seen this at +Accsys (PTY) Ltd today.   The amount of stuff that everybody brought in to distribute to people in need was amazing, and the faces of those who were lucky enough to deliver the blankets and toys told a story of inspiration and meaning.   What a great day when everybody looks outside of themselves…

First Impressions - Day One at your new job

If you are anything like me, you are often surprised to hear how people react to you on first meeting.   And to overcome this, many of us tend to overdo the warmth, humour and trying to fit in, or go the other way, and try to be as unobtrusive as possible.  Neither of them feel natural and neither are sustainable so it is worth spending some time preparing for the first impressions you create on the first day of your new job.

www.accsys.co.zaThe employer also has worries around this; is the induction process effective, will the employee feel they have made the right decision, and will my management believe that I make good decisions around hiring.  So that first day has a lot riding on it.   Too much, in fact!

The first day should be like a second date, confirming understandings and expectations, asking questions that seemed a little too probing at the first meeting, and generally both employer and employee starting to feel comfortable that they have made the right decision.   Of cours…

First Impressions - Interview Techniques

Today I am putting out my first ever blog, and so first impressions are top of mind.   How do we create the right first impression when job hunting?   Interviewers are just like the rest of us and their initial impression of the applicant can change the whole flavour of the interview.

So how do you create that great first impression?  Research?   These days, it is the expectation that the applicant will know what the company does, understand the basics of the job requirement and have a few well chosen questions to add to the discussion.  It adds real value to know who their customers are, and to be able to relate personally to the business.   The high rate of unemployment means that for every good job, there are multiple applicants, and you need to stand out from the crowd.

And research the dress code, too.   We live in a world where we are constantly evaluated on our external presentation, so make that first 60 seconds of interaction positive.  Plan to arrive a few minutes early, treat…