Archive | January, 2011

Increasing Productivity & Effectiveness: How Parkinson’s Law can Help Your Company

Using Parkinson’s Law to increase productivity in your company.

parkinson's lawFor the worker bees of the world, productivity is king. They work long hours, hoping to show their boss how dedicated they are to their job with the hopes of promotion. Sadly, those who live by the words “work harder, not smarter” are most likely wasting most of those 40 hours a week, when they actually could be getting more work done and still have a good bit of personal time to spare.

The idea is not new. In 1955, noted British author Cyril Northcote Parkinson opened an essay in the Economist with the following words: “Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.” The essay describes how the British bureaucracy had become bloated because officials favored the appearance that civil servants were working hard over the much more efficient alternative: working smarter, and shorter hours.

When workers in any context are given an ample amount of time to complete a task, Parkinson’s law posits that they will use all of that time to complete the task to look like they are busy. Not only is this a waste of resources, but it also actually creates stress on the worker as the task inevitably becomes more burdensome than necessary because they have drawn it out to fill a large gap of time. Parkinson’s law dispels the notion that just because an employee spends more time working on a task that it must result in a better quality end product.

It is not too difficult to incorporate these principles in your daily life and work routine so you can get more done in less time. It boils down to good time management, and changing the amount of time you think a certain task takes to complete. Start the day with a list of tasks, and for each one write down the amount time you think you need to complete them. Now cut that number in half.

This may cause you some apprehension at first, but give it a try. Most people overestimate the time it takes to complete a task because they are used to stretching the job out to fill an entire workday. Think of it as a game, and the objective is to beat the clock. This will make your work more fun and engaging as well. You may want to get your hands on a digital timer, as it is easier to time your tasks that way versus using a clock.

As you get used to this process, you may need to adjust your times if you find that getting them complete in the allotted time period is just impossible. This is likely if you are already fairly good at estimating the minimum amount of time you need to finish a job. Don’t cut the time down to the point where the quality of your work becomes rushed or shoddy. The idea is to experiment and find the true amount of time it takes to complete a task when you are purely focused on its completion.

The easiest tasks to squash are time-fillers such as checking email or maybe browsing the web for work-related articles. Cut down that 30 minute morning email routine to just five minutes. Then you have time left to get a jump-start on your next task, or perhaps find time to look at a few things that interest you. Everyone needs a little “me” time to get through the day.

As you become adept at reducing the amount of time it takes to get work done, you will find that you have extra time to do with what you want. You could take on more work, squeeze in some personal errands, watch a few videos on-line and still leave early on Friday.

Parkinson’s Law is only part of the battle to Increase Productivity!

parkinson’s law parkinson’s law parkinson’s law parkinson’s law parkinson’s law parkinson’s law parkinson’s law

Google ITO: Can the Innovation Time Off Method Benefit Your Workplace?

Can the Google ITO method work for you?

ITO Explained: How to Increase Your Organizations Creativity

Everyone in today’s work environment is looking to maximize on their organizations time management and creativity skills. One such company that has seemingly cornered the market on a unique concept is Google. It is no secret that Google’s work environment is not the atypical corporate environment of yesteryear. So it is no surprise that Google incorporated a twist of the 80/20 rule also known as “Pareto Rule”.

Google has taken “Pareto Rule” and morphed it into Innovative Time Off or ITO for short. ITO is generally the concept of organizations encouraging that 20% of the work week or day to be focused on innovation, while the remaining 80% focuses on” core” responsibilities

This concept has placed Google as the rule and not the exception. Here we will explore the nuts and bolts of this concept and how you can merge this into your entrepreneurial activities and/or small business and encourage team building.

  • Project Management: It is important to note that while the ITO concept is innovative, the process to implementing this concept between management and employee is one of structure to give continuity and ease of communication. Generally the employee will write a proposal and specify key points and how they plan to measure the progress of the project and what outcomes they expect to meet. This process allows for both management and the general workforce to have interdependence. This goes a long ways towards more efficiency during the 80% of the work week or day that employee is not necessarily working on their project. It is important to also note that this structure also encourages creativity within a structured environment.
  • Fail to Succeed: This is an important key point in team building. When employees become encouraged to fail, the fear of taking risks is all but eliminated from the process. Employees working as team members are more likely to build confidence and pursue creative problem solving to come up with ideas that will help the organization. Meanwhile management gets the opportunity to watch and be that voice of reason if things get a little too harried.
  • Micro Projects: ITO also allows team members to try their ideas on a smaller scale with little to no extra investment on the company’s part. This is a great way of trying out product launches, new techniques without risking large amounts of the capital to bring a service or product to market. Thereby creating relief to key owners and management and protecting the core business while giving employees the opportunity to spread their wings. As a whole, the organization will be stronger and more on trend to protect their place in the market.
  • Bridge the Gap: This point in the process encourages communication between upper, senior management and employees. Owners and CEO of organization get to meet and explore avenues and talents of both middle management and employees in other departments without the added cost of hiring out or outside consulting groups. The process is self inclusive and allows employees to build their resume through projects that they initiated and have had approved for implementation. This type work flow allows the organization to truly promote from within and set up a structured open door policy.
  • Reality Check: While Innovative Time Off is great for encouraging creativity it can also be a source of frustration for employees if they have delusions of grandeur the first time out. It is important that at the beginning of the ITO process those employees are not over reaching their expectation that every idea will be a success. For upper and senior management it becomes important to buffer excitement with a little dose of reality. Overall this concept will allow the organization to stay realistically optimistic.

On a last note it is also important that any implementation of this team building process and project management becomes not just a strategy but a sort of corporate culture within the organization. It becomes imperative that before making this transition to an ITO work program that senior and upper management do their homework of other companies that have successfully implemented this strategy. This extra bit of foot work will go a long way to keep up the moral of employees and the organization.

As you can see, this is a process that can help grow a company but yet keep the best of the best with little to no extra investment. Do your due diligence and see how this idea can keep your company on track from the very start.

Even if the ITO method doesn’t work for you, there are other Leadership Styles that might!

Building Effective Teams: How to Create a Successful Work Environment

The Twelve C’s to Building Effective Teams

building effective teamsWhen building effective teams to create a successful working environment, managers need to understand that being a part of a team is a different experience all by itself. Members of a team are part of a larger whole with an espoused mission or objective and contribute to the overall success of an organization. A team is responsible for producing results that achieve those successful objectives. Team members usually represent different departments in an organization or are comprised of one department. Members are tasked with specific functions that drive the bigger picture.

It is extremely important to examine the objectives of a team. Is it merely to be effective in the workplace or focused on accomplishing a specific goal? Team building seminars, retreats and other activities are useless when the objective is not clearly defined early on in the process. If managed properly, a team is a useful tool for involving employees in the success of a business. They help to increase profits by improving a customers’ experience through improved products, services, and connections.

When a business has been unsuccessful in team improvement efforts, it should evaluate its methods through a list of team building techniques known as the Twelve Cs. This self-diagnosing list focuses on twelve areas that will not only improve the communication and functionality of a group but provide a clear understanding of the group’s purpose for the future.

1. The first concept that a team must understand is Context. The team should be able to answer specific questions, such as what is its purpose? Where does this team fit in to the scheme of things? Are the values, mission and objectives in alignment with the organization as a whole? Why have particular people been chosen to be a part of the team?

2. The second concept is Clear Expectations. Has the management communicated to the group its expectations? Do team members know why the team was formed? Do members understand what will happen if the expected outcomes are not achieved? Does the team clearly understand the resources that the organization will provide?

3. Keep in mind when building effective teams, it needs to have Competence. Are the right people on the team? Are they the best representative from their department? Do the members have the necessary skills and knowledge needed to handle any issues that might arise? Are they capable of dealing with problems and if not, do they have access to someone who can provide them with resources? Do members of the team have confidence in each other?

4. The team members need to have buy-in. They need to be Committed to the team mission. Do they feel that they bring a valuable resource to the group? Do they expect this opportunity to provide them with professional development that will help them advance in their careers? What kinds of incentives encourage the team to do well?

5. The team needs to feel that is has Control. Does it have the freedom to feel ownership of its goals? On the other hand, does it understand the boundaries that it must stay within? What are the limitations that the team identified when it looked at its context in the organization as a whole? Is there a process that allows it to review its current practices and implement a checks and balances system? If members do not perform their functions in a timely manner or follow the assigned timetable, are they held accountable? If so, what does that process look like?

6. Although the group is part of a larger whole with intended outcomes, has it designed its own strategies for goal setting? What is the team’s Charter? What is the design of the team? Has it defined how it will measure the outcomes and does the main leadership support its goals?

7. One of the most important and yet misunderstood concepts in team building is Communication. Members need to be clear about the priority of tasks and have a method of providing feedback in an honest yet respectful manner.

8. Without Collaboration, a team will ultimately fail. There are several stages of group development that are important in creating teamwork results that are productive. Groups go through several stages of development. Tuckman’s model maintains that four stages known as forming, storming, norming and performing are essential and inevitable in order for a team to grown, tackle challenges, find solutions and deliver results. Do the team members understand their role in the team and the group process? Do they know the established norms and conflict resolution and decision-making strategies?

9. The Culture of a group also effects their communication and collaboration. Although a team is a smaller part of a larger group, this does not mean that the culture of the group will be the same. Members of the group need to recognize this possibility and adapt to possible changes. The team may be responsible for implementing cultural changes into the larger organization if it finds that those strategies work well within its group.

10. Teams need to recognize the possible Consequences. Is there an established system based on rewards and recognition? What is the expectation when negative results are achieved? What about positive results? Will the success of the group be shared individually with members or only with the organization as a whole? Will the group members be able to see how their accomplishments impact the organization?

11. How is the group Coordinated? Is there a central leadership team that assists the group? Does the group have an established leader that reports to central management? Who do they go to if they need assistance? Is a hierarchy in place or does it need to be developed?

12. Without Creative Innovation a team will not be able to act as a change agent. The group must value creative thinking, new ideas and unique solutions to problems. Members need to be rewarded when they think outside of the box even if the idea does not always come to fruition. Members should be stimulated with training and have access to resources that encourage new and creative ideas.

By evaluating a team using these twelve criteria, business leaders will ensure that their teams contribute effectively to the success of their organization. Team members will feel valued and their success will fuel the company in a positive manner. Empowering employees to feel ownership in the company and its successes only increases those successes in the future.

Building Effective Teams is only part of an efficient workplace!

   Beat diabetes   Diabetes diet