Categories
EME Ling- English Manage your team Management PBM Work and the workplace

The strength of weak ties

Perhaps you do this already with your team: you take the first few minutes of a meeting to check in, sometimes as a group and sometimes in random pairs or trios in breakout rooms. Just a few minutes to chitchat – about anything but work, like what would happen randomly at the office.

Well, Zapier, a company that helps its clients create automation workflows, is doing something similar but company-wide. They

try to make serendipitous, face-to-face interaction happen on a routine basis. We use a Slack app called Donut, which pairs everyone who signs up with a random coworker and helps schedule a video call. There are no rules to these conversations—people talk about where they live, their hobbies, or (if they want) work. These interactions don’t replace the serendipity of an office, but they can go a long way.

The topic of work is going to come up when you’re talking with random coworkers, because it’s the one thing you for sure have in common.

And there are benefits: these random conversations can lead to solutions, they connect people who might otherwise never talk, and it allows for what Mark Granovetter calls “the strength of weak ties”.

 


The content of this post was originally posted in the September 2020 issue of my newsletter. “On management and strategy” is a free, monthly newsletter in which I share my own writing as well as links to articles and research on management, leadership, and strategy. It’s easy to subscribe… and unsubscribe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories
EME Ling- English Manage down Management PBM Work and the workplace

How should I react when an employee is not performing well or makes a mistake?

Frustration is of course the natural response — and one we all can identify with. Especially if the mistake hurts an important project or reflects badly upon us.

The traditional approach is to reprimand the employee in some way. The hope is that some form of punishment will be beneficial: it will teach the employee a lesson. However, some managers choose a different response when confronted by an underperforming employee: compassion and curiosity. Not that a part of them isn’t frustrated or exasperated but they are able to suspend judgment and may even be able to use the moment to do a bit of coaching.

What does research say is best? The more compassionate response will get you more powerful results. The more employees look up to their leaders and are moved by their compassion or kindness, the more loyal they become to them. Conversely, responding with anger or frustration erodes loyalty. (Harvard Business Review)

There is probably something in your personal experience that confirms this. I know there were plenty of instances in mine.

 


From the September 2020 issue of my newsletter. “On management and strategy” is a free, monthly newsletter in which I share my own writing as well as links to articles and research on management, leadership, and strategy. It’s easy to subscribe… and unsubscribe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories
EME Ling- English Manage your team Management PBM Work and the workplace

Creativity: it’s about exploration v. exploitation

Meta-analysis of the research on creativity by Francesca Gino in the Harvard Business Review. The whole three-article series is good. Here’s a sample: Five ways in which managers can bolster creativity:

  1.  Hire for curiosity;
  2. Model inquisitiveness;
  3. Emphasize learning goals;
  4. Let employees explore and broaden their interests; and
  5. Have “Why?” “What if…?” and “How might we…?” days.

Not convinced?

She identifies two tendencies that restrain managers from encouraging curiosity:

  1. They have the wrong mindset about exploration, often thinking that letting employees follow their curiosity will lead to a costly mess; and
  2. They seek efficiency to the detriment of exploration.

It’s the old exploitation-exploration dilemma. James March’s paper is a classic on this. Knut Haanaes provides great examples in this TEDtalk.

 


From the September 2020 issue of my newsletter. “On management and strategy” is a free, monthly newsletter in which I share my own writing as well as links to articles and research on management, leadership, and strategy. It’s easy to subscribe… and unsubscribe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories
EME Leadership Ling- English Manage yourself PBM

Keep track of what really matters

I am a fan of keeping a journal. I keep one myself and I encourage the leaders I work with to do the same.

The format does not really matter (what you thought, what you did, what you said, how you felt, etc.) as long as you record it. By recording it you’re acknowledging that it mattered at the time and you’re making it matter now.

You don’t keep a journal to revisit it. You keep a journal to make a record, to state that your day mattered.

I’m reminded of this by a recent post I read on keeping a Good Times list:

to notice and record the moments and experiences in life that bring you joy, or that energise and fulfil you. This one thing will help you appreciate what really matters, and to do more of them. It’s simple to do, and you need nothing more than a pen and paper.

It’s another form of “counting your blessings”. And it will help you keep track of what really matters.

[photo by Dina Spencer]

 

 

Categories
Ling- English Manage your team Manage yourself Management and Organizations PBM Strategy

It’s too early to call it “the new normal”

We’re at the end of Week 3. We made it through another week!

I say “made it through” because there is nothing usual about these times.

Almost 10 million people filed unemployment clams in the last two weeks. 24% of SMEs have shut down temporarily in response to COVID-19. Among those who haven’t temporarily shut down, 40% are likely to do so within the next two weeks. I think folks are too quick to call the current circumstances “the new normal”.

And for those of us who are still employed, we’re not really “working from home”. It’s more like we’re at home, with our spouse/partner, with our children, with our pets, all day, every day, trying to get work done.

We’re coordinating events, chores, and meals with our spouse/partner, arranging lessons and homework with the children, walking the dog, etc., all day, every day, trying to get work done.

This is not the common variety of remote work, distributed work, or WFH. This is survival in new challenging circumstances that will last for a while.

So, let’s not expect productivity to be the same as before – our productivity, that of the people we work with, and that of the people who work for us.

And let’s not judge. Depending on whether you have worked from home before this, whether you have children at home, and depending on the health of your financial situation, everyone is tackling different sets of challenges which might cause them to be nervous, anxious, and scared.

If anything, these new circumstances should make us more understanding, kinder, and more forgiving of ourselves and others.

Stay healthy. Stay home. Stay connected.

 

Categories
EME Ling- English Manage yourself PBM

Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity

The quote in the title is from Simone Weil.

When I pay attention I am giving my time. It prompts the question: Who, or what, receives my attention?

Therein lies my treasure.

 

Categories
Ling- English Management and Organizations PBM Work and the workplace

A subtler, more intangible, but vital kind of moral consensus: Comity

[It] exists in a society to the degree that those enlisted in its contending interests have a basic minimal regard for each other: one party or interest seeks the defeat of an opposing interest on matters of policy, but at the same time seeks to avoid crushing the opposition, denying the legitimacy of its existence or its values, or inflicting upon it extreme and gratuitous humiliations beyond the substance of the gains that are being sought.

The basic humanity of the opposition is not forgotten; civility is not abandoned; the sense that a community life must be carried on after the acerbic issues of the moment have been fought over and won is seldom very far out of mind; an awareness that the opposition will someday be the government is always present

(source)

Categories
Business Basics EME Ling- English PBM Words & Language

Discovered in translation

A translator, being obliged by the nature of his task to attend to every single successive phrase of his author, however plain the meaning may seem, and to consider the intelligibility of what he renders to the uninitiated, sometimes discovers points of real difficulty which have escaped even the most thorough commentators, or arrives at fresh solutions of old problems. (source)

Not only in formal translation but also when living in multiple languages. It sometimes helps to think of a situation in a different language.

 

See also: Discovery is not finding new lands, it’s something else

 

Categories
EME Ling- English Manage yourself Management and Organizations PBM Work and the workplace

Here’s a 10-point audit to help you assess your stress level

Manfred Kets de Vries at KnowledgeINSEAD:

Consider your life today and answer the following questions:

  1. Do you feel that your life is out of control and that you have too many things on your plate?
  2. Do you often feel confused, anxious, irritable, fatigued or physically debilitated?
  3. Are you having increased interpersonal conflicts (e.g. with your spouse, children, other family members, friends or colleagues)?
  4. Do you feel that negative thoughts and feelings are affecting how you function at home or at work?
  5. Is your work or home life no longer giving you any pleasure?
  6. Do you feel overwhelmed by the demands of emails, messaging tools and social media?
  7. Do you feel that your life has become a never-ending treadmill?
  8. Are you prone to serious pangs of guilt every time you try to relax?
  9. Have you recently experienced a life-altering event such as a change of marital status, new work responsibilities, job loss, retirement, financial difficulties, injury, illness or death in the family?
  10. When you are stressed out, do you feel that you have nobody to talk to?

If you have answered “yes” to most of these questions, stress might have started to build up. If you feel close to your breaking point, it’s high time to take action.

 

 

Categories
EME Ling- English Manage yourself Management Management and Organizations PBM Words & Language Work and the workplace

We are verbs, not nouns

In conversations with managers, I often hear people say something like “Well, I can’t help myself, that’s who I am, I’m an engineer / a finance person / a lawyer,” etc.

I share Stephen Fry’s consideration in The Guardian:

“We are not nouns, we are verbs.

I am not a thing – an actor, a writer – I am a person who does things – I write, I act – and I never know what I am going to do next.

I think you can be imprisoned if you think of yourself as a noun.”