Sunday, September 21, 2014

Good questions

After a wonderful summer off from blogging, here I am. I had wonderful down time. Went to a LEAN conference. Read some great books. Sat on the beach.

Now I am back at it.

One of my favorite podcasts is the Andy Stanley Leadership podcast.  It's fabulous.

In one of his previous podcasts, he discussed permission-giving questions.  These are the questions he  asks his employees:

1. What are you most excited about right now?
2. What do you wish you could spend more time on?
3. What's most challenging? Generally a systems problem.
4. Anything bugging you? Home, person, etc
5. What can I do to help you?

Simple yet great questions.

I get a few inquiries from readers and just people in general asking what questions are good questions to ask a supervisor. Especially a supervisor that doesn't give much feedback.  These are my favorites:

What do you want me to keep doing?
What do you want me to start doing?
What do you want me to stop doing?

Simple yet great questions.

Give 'em a try!

Friday, May 23, 2014


What do you make?  It's such a personal question and when I see the question on job postings and application requirements, it makes me seethe.  A little. Or more than a little.

I say one human resources position that required a complete salary history for every position listed on the resume.  Those not including salary histories would not be considered.

What the?

  < rant >

Here is the thing.  What I make is absolutely none of your business.  You aren't entitled to know my salary history nor do you have any right to ask me what I make now.

If you, human resources people, make it a requirement to provide, you are saying a lot.  About you. The word that comes to mind is lazy.

What I expect of good employers is to conduct compensation studies, evaluate market conditions, and  offer fair salaries.  It's not that hard.  Lots and lots of professional organizations can help with salary surveys.

Quit expecting job applicants to do your work for you.

< /rant >

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Something to consider

Ever heard these comments? Or thought them?

Her skirt was too short.  She was asking for it. What was she doing walking there at that hour?

This should help.

The next time you read about a victim of sexual assault, please remember this video.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Taking time to read

While I have been woefully negligent in writing, I am can say with great enthusiasm, it's because I have been reading.

Reading some really good stuff.

One of my favorite topics right now is mediation. Not meditation, mediation.  A fabulous book on the subject if The Mediation Process by Christopher Moore.  All 600 pages of it.

Speaking of mediation, if you are in the Grand Rapids area, the Dispute Resolution Center of West Michigan is holding its General Civil Mediation training. To say that it's life changing doesn't do the training or the trainers justice; if you are interested, sign up.  It's fantastic.

I have also discovered Net Galley.  I have a number of fabulous books in the pipeline as well.  Currently, I am reviewing a book for first time job hunters.  Best thing?  All the books are free!

Happy reading.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

the tyranny of the urgent and not so urgent

In the past several weeks, life has been rather hectic.  We have been enthralled in the most polar-vortexed, snowmaggedon, bitter-cold-whipping-winds-pelting-snow winter in my memory. We are beyond tired of winter; it's March and yet again this week, regular temps will fall below zero. This kind of weather takes a toll even on those of us who love winter.

And I had the cone debacle that as of yesterday seems to be a groundhog day experience of last year.  Like some kind of cruel joke.

Work is busy.  So busy that I started wondering about efficiencies.  As someone who enjoys the LEAN process, there are so many areas that I can work to clean up my work.  But email is a tough one.  As I worked on thoughts for streamlining email, it occurred to me that where it will be the most challenging is in helping redefine the protocols for email.  In my job, we have this notion of "15 minutes or less"  (thanks Geico) - as in if I don't hear from you in 15 minutes or less, I will follow up.  By phone. In person.  And now (gasp!) by text.

I am guilty of this too.

I spent some time researching email overload.  There are some great articles from HBR, Lifehacker, and a host to tech sites.

One of the funniest recommendations (from my spouse) who just decided on day to delete everything and start over.  If it's important, people will follow up.  Totally cleaned out his email box.  Brilliant.  

One of the most astute perspectives came in the Amy Gallo's article in HBR.  She writes about the larger issues around communication;  quoting David Allen,  she wrote, "email overload is only a symptom of a larger issue: a lack of clear and effective protocols. If your organization has ambiguous decision-making processes and people don’t get what they need from their colleagues, they’ll flood the system with email and meeting requests."

I need to pay attention to this.  Often it's the question behind the question. Looking for more than just the words.

Several writers commented limiting email checking during the day.  Many of my colleagues do this; they check their email at specific times during the day.  My schedule can be so fluid that I don't know if this is the answer for me but it's one several of my colleagues could consider.  If we can shift the expectations of 15 minutes or less.   That will take some time.

I need to transition from using email as a task list to reading, responding, deleting or archiving.  I love a zero inbox and this will be a big step for me.

The largest hurdle I perceive is culture change.  When I send (or receive) an email, I have no sense of just how much work the recipient has at the current moment.  It's easy for me to mentally prioritize the importance of my request but really, I have no business prioritizing my colleague's work.  I need to trust that she can prioritize her workload far better than can I.   I need to let her.

If it's urgent, I need to communicate it.  And it has to be more than I just sat on this and now my poor planning is your crisis.   That won't fly.

So here is to March and perhaps someday, some sun, as well as a more efficient communication strategy!