What Not to Say to a Stressed-Out Colleague

stressed-out-collegueNo clichés, and no platitudes. We want to help when we see someone stressed out. When someone is wound up, they don’t want to hear about how you felt or triumphed in a tough situation because they are in the middle of it now.

Be helpful by saying “You can handle this,” and offer an example of when a time when they did bounce back. Ask them, “What would help?” If they say “nothing” or “I don’t know”, sit quietly for 15 seconds (the length of time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” in your head.) The goal isn’t to cure someone’s stress, but to decrease it in the moment.

Adapted from the Harvard Business Review “Management Tip of the Day“ newsletter
Source: “What Not to Say to a Stressed-Out Colleague”, by Holly Weeks

Explain Your Work Capacity To Your Boss

future-proofing-your-design-team-Calculate-your-capacity-by-David-Lesue_791x437We are all expected to do more. Do you struggle to explain to your boss what you are doing and how much capacity you have for those last minute, must do tasks?

Here is a simple model to explain your capacity to your those assigning you work. It is from a video presentation called “Future-Proofing Your Design Team: Three Lessons from an Overnight Rebrand (S5285)” by David Lesue at the Adobe Max conference in October 2015.

How Much Work Can You Do?

Do the math to calculate your capacity.  The formula is,

  1. number of team members
    x
  2. the number of hours planned worked per work per team member
    x
  3. focus percentage

The first part is easy and is the size of your team.  In our example, we assume 3 people.

The second part represents the number of hour per week you can realistically work on planned stuff.  Over time you get better at estimating how much extra work you have to do each week that is unplanned.  You want this as low as possible but be realistic for your situation. In our example, we assume 30 hours of planned work and 10 hours of work that is dropped on us that we must get done this week.

The third part represent the focus or quality percentage.  This means what else is going on that week – is there a holiday or event, or something else (Blue Jays’ playoff run) that could impact the team?  In our example, we assume a 90% focus.

The capacity of the team is 3 people x 30 hours planned x 90% focus = 81 hours planned work.

Overtime we get better a estimating the time it takes to do our work. Now you can use your estimates to layout what you are working on, across all assignments.  As your estimates of planned work improves, you can have more confidence showing how the next big, must do, unexpected task requires something else to slip.  Something has to give.

You will likely experience push back on your estimates and approach but persevere – it will be well worth it.

The entire video can be see on the Adobe Max site in the Sessions on Demand section.

10 Things Really Amazing Bosses Do

Flickr Adam Jones PhD - going to lunch, happy people

Being a good boss is hard. Being an amazing boss is even harder.  Kevin Daum’s lists of 10 things amazing bosses do in his article in Inc magazine.   He invites you to see how you measure up.

1. Good Bosses maintain control and get things done.

Amazing Bosses know efficiency can be the enemy of efficacy in the long run and so they work to create an atmosphere of expansive thinking. They empower their team with time, resources and techniques, to solve big issues with big ideas instead of Band-Aids and checklists.

2. Good Bosses foster a sense of community, making room for everyone.

Amazing Bosses form an internal culture by design rather than default, making sure they attract the right people to get on the bus and then get them in the right seats. They also make sure that the wrong people never get on the bus, or if they do, they get off quickly.

3. Good Bosses invite creative thinking.

Amazing Bosses know how to integrate creativity into daily conversation and procedures so that every employee feels natural about being creative and facilitating productive creativity when interacting with others in the company.

4. Good Bosses create an open environment for voicing concern and frustration.

Amazing Bosses create an environment where people are empowered to make change on their own to improve product, process, and procedures. They integrate open communication to the point where the expression of honest concerns is expected, required, and desired by everyone involved to achieve the highest levels of team performance.

5. Good Bosses encourage career development for their employees.

Amazing Bosses integrate individual learning and development into every job description so that personal growth is required and rewarded. They know companies that do this thrive thanks to new leaders rising from the inside. They make sure the company apportions time and dollars toward personal growth so that everyone shares reasonable expectations of commitment and success.

6. Good Bosses run effective and efficient meetings.

Amazing Bosses make sure that everyone on the team understands the difference between a valuable meeting and a waste of time and resources. They educate the team on facilitation techniques and give each person consistent practice at structuring and leading effective meetings with postmortem feedback.

7. Good Bosses build trust so people feel safe.

Amazing Bosses encourage constant interaction and high performance within the team so they succeed or fail together, creating tight bonds of loyalty to the company and each other. Successes are met with equal high praise and rewards, while failures are met with encouraging acceptance and postmortem learning discussions yielding next-step improvements. (Of course amazing bosses know how to make sure people and teams fail safely in the first place.)

8. Good Bosses generate happiness in the workplace.

Amazing Bosses constantly seek and execute ways to help employees gain deep personal satisfaction from their responsibilities so they are inspired and excited to come to work and perform well every day.

9. Good Bosses make sure people are responsible for their roles and actions.

Amazing Bosses promote personal accountability by providing clear communication and buy-in as to the culture, vision, and goals for the company. They know how to effectively and efficiently align the team, communicate in rhythm, and measure progress so they can adjust quickly with minimal risk.

10. Good Bosses know how to praise and show gratitude.

Amazing Bosses know how to instill a deep sense of personal satisfaction and accomplishment in individual team members. They help employees develop a strong sense of self-confidence and self-praise that outweighs any pat-on-the-back or award provided.

Read the entire article at 10 Things Really Amazing Bosses Do | Inc.com.

[Image via Flickr: Adam Jones PhD]

Six Rules of Etiquette For The Open Office

More companies are taking the open office concept further with first-come, first-served work areas.

This trend was discussed in the Wall Street Journal Online article “Warming Up to the Officeless Office”. A “survey of 950 companies, the International Facility Management Association, a trade group for office-facility managers, found 60% had some unassigned workspaces in their offices,” the article said.
Open office
The article goes on to suggest six rules for office etiquette.  They are:

  1. No sneaking up
  2. No loitering
  3. Use your ‘indoor voice’
  4. Never eavesdrop
  5. Limit chit-chat
  6. Use headphones

Anne Kreamer in her article “Workers, Take Off Your Headphones” suggests caution working with headphones on.  She says it isolates you from the informal office life and informal conversations going on around you.  Use headphones during times requiring intense focus but don’t have them on all the time.

ChangeThis.com – A Website For Ideas

This site has the download of Seth Godin’s book “The Bootstrapper’s Bible” which I saw a story about on “Your Business” on MSNBC. This site, ChangeThis.com has some thought provoking e-books and some are free.  It is

Another free book is called “The Secret to Self-Discipline” by Rory Vaden.  See what he says about the difference between cows and buffalos.  The book is short, direct, and actionable.  Take a look and tell me what you think.

Cure THe (Self-Inflicted) Chaos First by Karen MartinIn Karen Martin’s book,”Cure the (Self-Inflicted) Chaos First“, she does a great job explaining the “fundamental behaviours that are vital for outstanding performance in any endeavour – clarity, focus, discipline, and engagement.”  This is a warm-up for her book “The Outstanding Organization.”  Really easy to read, it makes sense, and is actionable.

Here are the recent popular, what they call “manifestos”, on the site:

5   Rework

ChangeThis.com – We’re on a mission to spread important ideas and change minds.