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Friday, February 15, 2013

We've Moved!

Our blog has moved to our website at: 

We've added a new series of posts related to Career Development that will come on Thursdays as we continue with our Leadership posts on Mondays.   We hope you'll find that this new location and look will provide you with great info that gives you access directly to Horizon Point's website.

Thank you to our subscribers by email!  You can still subscribe by email to the new location simply by typing in your email address on the left side of the new page.  

Monday, February 11, 2013

Flexibility to Reduce Workplace Stressors

I attended a seminar last week discussing ways to improve productivity and communication in the workplace.   One thing that stood out to me in the presentation was the emphasis the presenter placed on eliminating stressors so that people could be innovative and creative.   He placed a value on innovation and creativity as the only differentiating factors in creating a sustainable advantage. 

What if standard or traditional work arrangements are creating workplace stressors and reducing innovation and creativity?

This leads me to consider a tie to a book I mentioned last week,  The Elephant and the Flea  and its emphasis on employing free agents.   Charles Handy writes, 

"Meantime, more and more people are going to become aware that their knowledge which drives innovation and creativity has marketable value. They will be reluctant to sell it for a time-based contract, a wage or a salary.  They will want to charge a fee or a royalty, a percentage of the profits.  The difference is that a salary is paid for time spent, whereas a fee is money paid for work produced, irrespective of the time spent on it."  italics mine.

The beauty of this model is that you not only get results, but you get people who are less stressed because they are in control of their own situation, which allows them to be creative and innovative and produce better results.  It also may cost you less.  Many who charge a fee for work produced don't come with the added cost of a benefit package.

Or consider the FutureWork Institute described in the book Now You See It.  Describing the founder of the institutes philosophy, the author Cathy Davidson writes, 

"The workplace of the future had to start taking into account the life desires, not just the work ambitions, of workers.  She was convinced that the best, most creative workers in the future might not be workaholics with the eighty-hour workweeks, but people who had figured out what way they love to work and how they work best."

My two year old snoring is eliminating my stress and fostering my creativity...

As I sit hear writing this post on a Saturday at home, my two year old is asleep in my lap.  Although it took a little maneuvering to get him situated so that I can type,  I can't help but think that creativity does come when we are in control of when and how work gets done. But maybe thats the point... blurring the lines of work and life so much that you don't realize to consider it work, which fosters creativity and innovation.   What could eliminate stress and make writing more enjoyable than two year old contently asleep in your lap?

What way do you love to work and how do you work best?

Like this post? You may also like this one as well. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

New Addition to Thursday- Career Development Series

I will be starting a weekly blog post on Thursdays (in addition to our leadership focused blog post on Mondays) that focuses on Career Development.  Although this will be useful information for people of all ages, it should particularly be helpful for students.  Hope you enjoy this new series!

Here's what we'll cover:

Part 1: Your Horizon

A.  Know Yourself:  Explore your talents, passions and values to make wise career decisions.
-Talents as employers see them- KSAOs (Knowledge, Skills, Abilities and Other Characteristics)
-Passions through your Holland Code
-Values- know your ideal workstyle and lifestyle

B.     Understand the Market
-Are you useful?
-Explore bright outlook careers
-What do employers want?

C.     Match Yourself:  Explore Your Horizon
-Use what you know about yourself and what you know about the market to learn about careers 
-Conduct informational interviews
-Job shadowing keeps you from hiding in someone else's shadow
-No one gets a good job these days without an internship(s)

Part 2:  Success Tools

A.     Define your mission
B.     Be a 3%er- set goals
C.     Practice Makes Perfect, why you need 10,000 hours and grit to succeed 
E.     Create a network and find a mentor
F.     It isn’t all about the money
G.    Don’t neglect happenstance
H.   Give Back!

Monday, February 4, 2013

2 Tips if you have Bored Employees

Last week,  I talked about how boredom at work is one of the worst employment states and offered suggestions for how employees can improve bored working conditions.  I want to focus now on leaders who have bored workers.

If you have people who are bored on the job, I believe there are two primary reasons and two primary tips for curing the boredom.

1. They are bored because you don't need them, or you don't need them full-time. 

Long gone are the days where every single position on the face of the planet needed to be a 40 hour a week job.  Nothing is a waste of money and talent more than paying people for time in a chair rather than time being productive.  Yet we are so enthralled with the 40 hour work week.

If your people are sitting there with nothing to do 50% of the time, then you need to either delegate (see below) tasks to them, or find a modified way to employ them in the time that it takes them to complete the job, whether this is full-time or not.

Tip 1: Consider Contract

In an interesting article entitled The Forgotten 5th?, by Erik Pages, an emphasis is placed on 1/5th of the workforce that operates on a contract basis.  Maybe contracting is an option for you to maximize your money and maximize others' talent.

In addition, Charles Handy, a great British thinker who was way ahead of his time, talks about the usefulness of the nimble "flea"  in his book  The Elephant and the Flea instead of the cumbersome "elephant" as an organization and a workplace.  Maybe you need to employ more "fleas" or "free agents" and think creatively about how to design jobs and working hours to get work done as efficiently and effectively as possible.

2.  They are bored because you have the I can do it better than everyone else syndrome. In other words, you have trouble delegating. 

I recently had someone tell me, "Well, I don't just hand it over because it takes more time to hand it over than it takes for me to do it myself."   I'll admit, I've had these feelings before myself, but in actuality, if this thought is occurring to you more often than not, and you're also overwhelmed with your workload (the person I am referencing definitely is overwhelmed with his workload), then why aren't you handing things off to people you are paying to get work done for you?

Tip 2: Delegate

Map out what you have to do every day or every week.   Pinpoint is what is critical for you do to, then delegate the rest.  Oftentimes we have an emotional attachment to certain task(s) or clients.  Instead of considering who we employ that could learn and thrive on these tasks or client interactions, we take them for ourselves because we are emotionally attached. That emotional attachment is often, to be quite honest, tied to wanting to get the credit for the work.  But leaders make more leaders, and credit does not matter so much to leaders as developing people does.  Delegate to develop.

Why are your employees bored on the job? 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Bored as a Gourd? Not an ideal employment state

I've been struck the last couple of weeks with the reiteration of one of the things that is extremely detrimental to both employers and employees: boredom at work.  

I've recently been working with an adult client wanting to make a career change.  She is an extremely talented individual, and In talking with her about her current employment  she says she is just a "warm body".  One of the main reasons she wants a change is because she's bored as a gourd at work!   She works for a government contractor (the waste of taxpayer money as she sits there bored is a topic for another day) and none of her talents and skills are being utilized in her role. 

Also consider a quote from a book I just finished reading, Tribes by Seth Godin: 

"Consider the receptionist at a publishing company I visited a week later. There she was, doing nothing. Sitting at a desk, minding her own business, bored out of her skull. She acknowledged that the front office is very slow and that she just sits there, reading romance novels and waiting. And she's been doing it for two years." 

Two thoughts come to mind on boredom at work: 
1. What a waste of money! As a leader, why would you pay people to be bored?
2. What a waste of talent!  This may even be more of a shame.  Leaders should be making more leaders, and leadership isn't cultivated through boredom.

What if you are an employee and bored?

Two courses of action exist: 

1.  Change your work environment. You may want to check out these two posts to discover if there is a better fit for you in the workplace: 

2.  Proactively ask for challenging or varied tasks.  Does your boss seem overloaded and stressed, but your reading your romance novel?  Simply ask him/her if there is something you can help with.   If they don't volunteer anything (why they aren't volunteering, is again, a topic for another day) pay attention to what they are spending time on and see if you can help them without being asked.  Prove your worth and your talents by proactively getting things done without being asked to do so.

What if you are a leader and your people are bored? Stay tuned for next week...

Monday, January 21, 2013

Leadership How-To: Combine Communication with Teamwork

To continue our periodic posts on Leadership How-Tos as a suggestion from participants in my last Leadership I class, I'd like to suggest an activity that combines two of the class topics:

1. Teamwork
2.  Communication

In the class, everyone takes a Communication Style Assessment .  You can click the link and order a paper copy like the one taken in the class for $14.00 each or click here to see all the other products that go along with the assessment.  You can order the online version for $16.00 or even order $2.00 blinking pins for each of the four different styles.

To better understand communication in the workplace and build camaraderie amongst your team (and have a little fun while you are at it!)  get this style assessment or another you find that you like and have your team members take it.  Then plan a 30 minute team building session to discuss everyone's results.

Facilitate a discussion that includes:
1.  What each person's style means to them.  Get people to describe a scenario at work that shows their style.
2.  Have a good discussion about the strengths and weaknesses of each style.
3.  Ask members of the team to pair up with someone who has a different style than they do and discuss ways to improve communication between those two types of styles.  Have them share with the group.
4.  Focus on the fact that no one style is right or wrong, but knowing ourselves and knowing others on our team helps us communicate more effectively.

To reiterate the points of effective communication between different styles, if your workplace culture supports it, order some of these goofy blinking pins 
(no, I am not getting a kickback for promoting any of these products :)  and facilitate some fun team building around giving them away when people either demonstrate their style or recognize the style of others in a behavior based example.

Want other example of a teambuilding activity?  Check out upStartHR's post here.