Archive | April, 2012

“Do You Still work for…..

25 Apr

Money?” was the content of an email I recently received.  I chuckled for about two minutes before trying to return an equally humorous quip.  This email was wry because I knew the person, a former client who I respected and admired.  Such an email could easily give rise to a negative emotional reaction.

The very best form of communication between two people is a face-to-face conversation where both parties are fully engaged.  If it is a serious interaction, follow-up with a written communication focuses and clarifies the content of the communication.

Much is being written about how using mobile technology to exchange information is not communication, only a connection.  To mistake an e-exchange for a relationship is a serious matter.  My relationship with her was developed long before, face-to-face.

I have been collecting impressions from people in organizations for a long time.  When email became dominant, the level of complaints skyrocketed.  Now comments are about people who seem to be on-line all the time.

Sherry Turkle, in an provocative article in the NY Times says “Always-on/always-on-you devices provide three powerful fantasies: that we will always be heard; that we can put our attention wherever we want it to be; and that we never have to be alone.”

This is deeply troubling since evidence about creativity, personal productivity, effective management and leadership show personal reflection, spending time in your head, is an essential ingredient in all these endeavors.  Food for thought.

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Smart vs Bright

18 Apr

When it comes to relationships have you noticed how some managers seem able to make anything work whereas others manage to botch everything they try?  Look at the “Manager From Hell” blogs for examples.  I invite you to contribute one of you own stories if you have a particularly insensitive manager.  In Beyond Luck I note that a poor manger can use almost any well-designed and well-intentioned tool to do harm.

There is a compelling explanation of why this happens and it is related to the nature of knowledge.  Knowledge comes in three flavors, explicit, tacit and scientific.  Explicit knowledge is “book learning.”  Tacit knowledge is “experiential learning.  Tacit or intuitive knowledge has a high sensitivity to emotion.

Great managers know how their actions will make people feel and in most human interactions “emotion trumps reason.”  Learning to read, predict and manage the emotional environment is EQ, “emotional intelligence.”

Have you also noticed how some people can be very intelligent but also very dumb?  Examples abound of people who are high performers yet their insensitivity to others wreaks havoc in organizations.

If you are about to become a manager or are a new manager, I suggest you read “Becoming the Boss.”  It will help you realign your expectations.

There are a couple of ways that people can subscribe to this blog. Click the “+ Follow” link on the bottom right section of the site and enter your email address. This is a very easy way to receive the newest post as an email. The other way is via RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed. The RSS Feed link is located on the right sidebar of the site, directly above the Categories section. Click on “RSS – Posts” to receive your posts in their favorite RSS reader. The RSS reader that many prefer is Google Reader (http://reader.google.com). It is free, well organized, and easy to use

Introversion #5: Spend a Little Time Inside Your Head

11 Apr

A study of 95-year olds asked them “what would you do differently?”  The most frequent response was “spend more time reflecting.”

The most marvelous construct in the universe is the human mind.  In fact physicists’ anthropic principle could be inferred to state that “the universe was created to produce the human mind.”

Make some time in your life, every day if possible, to spend in deep reflection.  I hope you will be in conversation with the most interesting person you know, your greatest supporter and your harshest critic.  Doing this will certainly have a powerful positive impact on the quality of your life.

Susan Cain has recently writer a book on introversion, although I don’t recommend it to you because some of the Amazon reviews note that her presentation of the science is not very good.  I do recommend you spend a few minutes watching her.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0KYU2j0TM4

There are a couple of ways that people can subscribe to this blog. Click the “+ Follow” link on the bottom right section of the site and enter your email address. This is a very easy way to receive the newest post as an email. The other way is via RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed. The RSS Feed link is located on the right sidebar of the site, directly above the Categories section. Click on “RSS – Posts” to receive your posts in their favorite RSS reader. The RSS reader that many prefer is Google Reader (http://reader.google.com). It is free, well organized, and easy to use

Introversion #4: The Power of Solitude

4 Apr

Isaac Newton:  “A mind for ever/ Voyaging through strange seas of Thought, alone.”

–  William Wordsworth

Visiting with managers, I often hear them complain about being interrupted during the day by people bringing issues to them.  It may well be they are micro-managers who demand final decision on everything. But more likely they are suffering from the bane of an “open door” policy. This is one reason I am not much of a fan of such practices.  Open doors draw a non-random group of your employees and often exclude the people you want to hear from.  Managing is a proactive endeavor and you get the very best from people when you take the time to ask.

Being constantly interrupted also precludes the possibility of experiencing “flow.”  This happens when you are working on a solitary task and your mind and body coordinate to produce extraordinary results.

Research shows that multi-tasking is simply fast switching.  Many people are proud of their ability to multi-task.  Sadly, these people will never experience flow.

I once worked with a CEO who closed his door and turned off his phone for 90 minutes every day after lunch.  He noted that people quickly adjusted to his inaccessibility and he had his best insights about the business during these moments of solitude.

For me the environments producing my best insights and solutions to problems are swimming and showering.  The absence of interruption, inward focus and warm water create what seems to be the opportunity for productive thought.

Most of us, particularly introverts, function better when we have some daily time to ourselves.  Even extreme extraverts can benefit from such “downtime.”  Do you have enough downtime and where are times and places where you have the opportunity to reflect?

There are a couple of ways that people can subscribe to this blog. Click the “+ Follow” link on the bottom right section of the site and enter your email address. This is a very easy way to receive the newest post as an email. The other way is via RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed. The RSS Feed link is located on the right sidebar of the site, directly above the Categories section. Click on “RSS – Posts” to receive your posts in their favorite RSS reader. The RSS reader that many prefer is Google Reader (http://reader.google.com). It is free, well organized, and easy to use