Dead-line

I once heard an amusing story about a company won the bid to create a new IT system for a Government Department. When the Company finished the job, they ran into an unexpected problem. The Government Department, having gotten used to Companies asking for extensions to project deadlines, had assumed this one wouldn’t be any different. As such, a team hadn’t been put together for the Company to hand over the project to.

When did you get started?
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Control your anger

When did you last feel angry at work? Perhaps it was at a colleague who wasn’t doing their share of the team project. Or your boss for being unfair to you? Did you miss out on an expected emotion? Or a vendor who wouldn’t accept responsibility for a poorly delivered service riled you up? It might have been a subordinate who should know better but never does?

Anger is a necessary human emotion. One that should not be repressed. Yet, you can’t allow your anger to define how you react to situations. If you throw a mug of hot tea at a co-worker or throw the vendor out the window, you could get in plenty of trouble that could damage your career. It’s even more important to control how you direct anger towards subordinates. No one likes to work for a boss who publicly humiliates them and disrespects them at the slightest opportunity.

Don’t turn into this
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Communicate communicate communicate

One of the most important skills we need in a world of information overload is good communication. The average person is bombarded with so much information that crucial bits can go ignored. How often have you sent an email with important information only for it to go unhindered because it was hidden beneath so many paragraphs of noise.

Are you speaking or are you making noise?
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How to stop working outside office hours

In one of the Sam Sheepdog and Ralph Wolf cartoons, the two main characters come in to work in the morning, punch in their time cards and begin cartoon antics. At the end of the day, they punch out their cards (and are humorously replaced by an identical looking Night shift pair).

In those days, it was easy. Everyone knew how many hours they were paid to work. They came to work and left by the clock. At the end of the day, work could be left in the office and picked up the next day. There was no need to discuss work-life balance because work and life were two different spheres that almost never intersected.

Work-life balance
Is not just a concept
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A guide to productive meetings

Productive meeting

A phrase I hear a lot lately is “Zoom meetings.” A few weeks ago, a colleague mentioned they had back to back online meetings all day and as such couldn’t do anything else. What annoyed him was not having to attend so many meetings but the fact that most of those meetings were in his words “useless.”

COVID-19 forced people to adapt to new ways of working. Teams could no longer meet in person. This led to a spike in online meetings. However, if you are in back to back meetings 3 days a week, your productivity is going to suffer. When will you have time to work on those action items (action items are being assigned at the end of those meetings, I hope?)

Are your meetings ending on a happy note?
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What is the one thing you learnt today?

Chalk board

Every day presents a new learning opportunity. The day you stop learning is the day you stop growing. In a world where new information keeps being generated at an astounding rate, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. You need only log in to a social media account to be bombarded by so many details. IBM once estimated that in 2020, human knowledge will be doubling every 12 hours. That’s an exciting thought but it can also be scary. How do you continue to gain new skills to ensure you remain relevant in your chosen field?

New skill icon
Skill up or become obsolete
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Learn to say “No” (ii)

No

Last week’s article was about the power of “No.” A simple word but with great power to help you take control of your schedule. Hopefully by now, you have had some practice with saying “No.” The goal is to eventually reach a level where you learn to say “yes” to opportunities and “no” to distractions.

With practice, it’s easy to know when to politely redirect your colleague’s offer for last minute help on a project they had two months to work on. Outside the workplace, however, it can become more difficult to decide which tasks to give up. Let’s examine the following list:

  • Take minutes of the meeting of market women’s association.
  • Service the generator at the orphanage
  • Do the book keeping for the Youth association
  • Read to five year olds at the library
  • Deliver the opening speech at your nephew’s speech and prize giving day

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Learn to say “No” (i)

No

“Poor planning on your part does not necessitate an emergency on mine.”

-Bob Carter

What do you do when someone asks you to do a task you would rather not? Picture this scenario. You are working on a project early in the morning, trying to build momentum. Someone approaches. They ask if you have five minutes. They need your help to go over a report that they have to submit later today. What do you tell them?

You have three options. The first is to say “No. Go away.” That would do the trick and you might be able to get back to work after that but it won’t win you any allies that way. The second is to say “Yes” and allow the person take control of your schedule for the rest of the morning. You know the report was supposed to have been their responsibility and you feel they shouldn’t bother you. It’s not your job to look over their report. Yet you also feel you could do a better job of it than your colleague. Maybe they need a little help after all and you know you could write a better report than them. So you check the report and it’s a mess and you end up having to rewrite parts of it. By the time you are done, you have “helped” your colleague write a report and they can turn it in just in time. Then you go back to your original task and curse the fact that since you have wasted so much time you now have to work after office hours to finish your work.

No
No words necessary

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Learn your craft

A graduation cap and tools

The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic revealed a lot about what counts as an essential skill. So many workers, including people pretty high up, previously secure in their roles suddenly found themselves without jobs as more companies looked for ways to cut costs in an attempt to survive lockdown. If you are one of those who still has a job, congratulations. Others have not been as lucky.

In a world where knowledge is being generated at an outstanding rate, having the skills necessary to keep up with it is no longer the responsibility of HR departments. More and more organisations are assuming employees come equipped with certain skills and don’t bother organising training sessions on those skills. Yet how true is their assumption?

LEARN
It’s spelt out

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Nobody works well under pressure

Working under pressure is last minute time management

We have all met someone who proudly declared they work well under pressure. The sort of people who boldly put it on their CV and expect to be rewarded for it. They are most likely the sort of people who annoy colleagues to no end by submitting work five minutes to the deadline and expect to be given a round of applause for it. You may have convinced yourself being able to work under pressure is a skill. Perhaps you also believe you possess that skill. Let me burst your bubble. It is not.

A man in a suit struggling to meet a deadline
You under pressure keeping people waiting

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