Entries in "professional skills"
July 27, 2007
how to work across time zones
As a followup to my entry from last year about "how to use voicemail productively", I offer this entry about how to work productively and professionally with colleagues in other time zones.
1 - Inform your colleagues of your normal work hours, and if you anticipate the possibility that they may need to reach you outside of your normal hours, leave a clear message on your office voicemail about how to reach you outside of your normal work day.
2 - Be aware and respectful of your colleagues' normal work hours. For instance, do not leave a message after the end of business hours in your colleague's time zone, asking him or her to accomplish something by the start of business the next morning in your time zone. If your need is that urgent, you will already have your colleague's cellphone number. Keep calling till you reach a live person, and then apologize for intruding on their non-work hours.
3 - Be especially careful about calling a colleague's cellular or home phone in the wee hours of the morning. Aim to avoid this except in the most dire emergencies.
4 - Do not send emails about routine issues in the morning in your time zone, and then call three hours later asking why no reply has been sent to your email. It may still be the beginning of the work day for your colleague!
5 - Keep careful track of appointment times when you are tele- or video-conferencing. Make sure that each confirmation email lists the correct appointment time in all relevant time zones.
Without identifying the relocation company that has "helped" us "manage" our cross-country move, let's just say that they need to train their employees to follow these rules. Calling me at 7 pm my time to inform me that movers will be at my house the following morning at 8 am, and will expect payment in the form of a cashier's check -- that's *just* *not* *professional*. Likewise, calling my home number at 6:30 in the morning -- *promotes a *negative* *association* with your corporate brand.
You can read more of my rant about our moving experiences, focusing on the drama of dealing with "professional" unpacking assistance, over at Relocation: The Bane of Balance at Work-Life Chronicles (my new blog).
June 27, 2007
an alternative to the SMART goal framework
I wrote up a post at my new blog, Work-Life Chronicles, about the alternative to the SMART goal framework that I have developed and used in the last year of teaching MGMT 250 and 251. I call it START NOW, which stands for:
To read more about each of the labels in the START NOW framework, and some funny stories about my adventures learning to ride my Vespa, click through to read "a different take on setting and achieving goals".
Please let me know what you think of the new blog, too! I'd welcome you to add it to your blogroll, or subscribe to the RSS feed, if you find the first few posts interesting.
March 23, 2007
WCPN at 9 this morning: workplace distractions
I have been invited to be a guest of Regina Brett this morning to talk about the topic of workplace distractions. Tune in to 90.3 between 9 and 10 to listen, and call in to ask questions if you'd like!
From WCPN's website: "All around us people are filling out brackets in a buzzer-beating frenzy. This is the week offices everywhere turn into casinos. Beware the Ides of March Madness. It can make workers take their eye off the ball. Parts of Cuyahoga County resemble a dry lake bed. People are moving out, often times to neighboring counties. Join Regina Brett and talk about workplace distractions and Cuyahoga County's human ebb tide Friday on The Sound of Ideas."
February 28, 2007
telecommuting and the neverending workday
One of the themes in my course on workplace flexibility is the need to push back against corporate demands for a 24/7/365 workload. Doctors carry pagers, managers carry laptops and cellphones. How do they fight back when their coworkers or bosses seem to expect them to be available constantly?
There's a good blog entry at Web Worker Daily on 5 ways to get work under control. They are the basic tips, of course, and yet not practiced by many.
During my recent medical leave, I was off the computer entirely for about 10 days, and then checking email only intermittently for another few weeks. I was amazed by how much new time opened up in my day! In particular, about 40 percent of my email could be deleted unread if it was more than 48 hours old. So now that I have returned to health, I have resolved not to chase after the ephemeral, the seemingly-urgent, or the request-of-the-moment. I now check email only once I day (or at most, twice) -- and never after dinner.
While it is wonderful to have the flexibility that carrying my new laptop anywhere allows, it is important to use that flexibility to my benefit as well as my employer's.
Anyone who needs me more urgently knows my cellphone number. (And I do turn that one off, sometimes, too!)
So, how do others manage against the neverending workday?
December 11, 2006
working in the 21st century
Another interesting article about Best Buy's results-oriented work environment popped up over the weekend, in Business Week. I wonder which types of employees adapt best to this type of freedom... since I would imagine that boundary-setting skills are required. It offers such tremendous promise for stress relief, though!
I will look forward to hearing what my students think, next semester.
(My earlier entry on ROWE can be found here. )
November 06, 2006
responsible capitalism and ethical behavior in the face of discrimination
One of my posts from last spring which gets a lot of traffic is on responsible capitalism and ESOPs. This morning I decided that I wanted to reinforce the connections between responsible capitalism and individual proactive behavior in organizations.
What is responsible capitalism? William Pfaff wrote about it in 2002 in the International Herald Tribune (and Common Dreams provides the text online). He provides a history lesson, distinguishing responsible capitalism from the popular capitalism that was championed by Henry Ford. Responsible capitalism is about more than simply paying workers well so that they can afford to buy the products they make in their workplaces. It is about decisions for the long-term benefit of all, rather than for the quarterly earnings reports. It probably even involves regulation of businesses, rather than assuming that the invisible hand will always reward the companies which act ethically.
In business schools, there is a trend to return to the teaching of ethics. We now realize, after Enron and Worldcom and other scandals, that we have not done enough. It is not enough to assume that all our students have already learned the Golden Rule. It is not enough to mention ethics at the beginning of the semester. It's not even enough to address it through one required course in the MBA curriculum dedicated to ethics in business.
I have always discussed ethical issues in my teaching of organizational behavior, and I'm sure that I will continue to improve the effectiveness of those discussions. Last week, in MGMT 250, both class sessions were focused on ethics.
Click through to read more about students' responses to Thursday's class session.
November 03, 2006
the journey toward perfection: a status report
On Sept. 1, I posted a blog entry about the speaker at Fall Commencement, entitled food for thought. In it, I discussed speaker Michael Ruhlman's words, both during his speech and in his book, which was assigned as a common reading for all entering first-year undergraduates in August of 2007. The book is entitled The Soul of a Chef: The Journey Toward Perfection. One week later, an article about Fall Commencement was published in the Case campus newspaper, the Observer -- Soul of a Chef Author Addresses Case.
One week before, Mano Singham had also written about his reactions to the book, as a professor who teaches first seminars here at Case. He tells a bit of the story of how Ruhlman's book was selected as a common reading for Case first-year students, and outlines how he dealt with his initial lack of enthusiasm for reading the book. Professor Singham makes two important points which may be helpful reminders for students in MGMT 250: (click through to read more)
October 20, 2006
Mena Trott evangelizes personal blogs
This is a quick, reflective post in the role of the web in general, and blogs in particular, in how adults learn, make and keep connections to friends and family, and get things done (both for heir hobbies and avocations and in their paid work).
Yesterday, I taught a MGMT 250 class session on the training design process. Twelve different student teams prepared and delivered 3-minute impromptu speeches on different training methods. The list of 12 different methods included: distance learning, learning portals, and at least one other method that involved the use of technology in some way. I was really struck by how differently this semester's group of 40 students respond to the different training options, in terms of their perceived advantages and disadvantages, than the group of students I taught back in 1998 or 1999 when I first came to Case Western Reserve.
I think I first started using blogs as one way of getting students to capture and share their reflections with me and with their classmates sometime around 2002 or 2003. Lots more students, this fall, have some previous experience with blogging. But there are still some who don't blog, and may not read any blogs on a regular basis. At the other end of the spectrum, there have been a few students in my class who were very internet-savvy in high school, learned to do web design for fun, and then converted their new skills into a way to make money. Things are clearly changing.
And yet, our local paper of record still seems to portray the dominant culture image of blogs -- they're just personal diaries on the web, they're not worth reading, they aren't going to change the entire media industry.... all while developing their own site for the newspaper, which now includes blogs by a few reporters.
I just came across Mena Trott's blog recently (click through to read more)
And will someone please post a comment on this entry, so I can be reassured that the Blog@Case spamfilter isn't overfunctioning again?
September 01, 2006
food for thought
NB: This blog entry was redistributed with permission in the CoolCleveland eNewsletter, also available online.
Yesterday I attended Convocation, drawn by the promise of ritual and the prospect of hearing Michael Ruhlman, author of Case's Common Reading for this year, speak. He wrote The Soul of a Chef: The Journey Toward Perfection more than 5 years ago, and so I hoped that his speech would go beyond the book into more elaborated thinking about what it takes to become an expert in one's chosen field. He did not disappoint.
He addressed head-on a criticism he has probably heard many times about his writing on cooking: Isn't it frivolous to write about fancy food in a time when there is so much serious stuff happening in world politics? His answer started with this assertion:
"Great cooking, in the end, has such power because it allows us to connect with our past, our future, and all of humanity, if we let it. I believe that America's insatiable appetite for food and cooking know-how is really the beginning of a spiritual quest for the bigger things: a search for meaning, order and beauty in an apparently chaotic and alienating universe."
President Eastwood looked quite comfortable listening to Ruhlman's speech up until that point, but when Ruhlman made his next main point, suggesting that sharing what he learned about master chefs brought into relief how all of America has become a culture of mediocrity, the President started to look a little nervous...
August 23, 2006
how to use voicemail productively
There's a lot I don't agree with in Guy Kawasaki's recent post, Twelve Things to Learn This School Year (yep, there are 12, even though the title is 10 things, and I'm just the kid of prof to niggle you about stuff like that). Like his point #4, suggesting that students should never make time to go to office hours or work in study groups --I disagree, quite vehemently. I also have some serious quibbles with his assumptions in #10, though I agree with his main point that learning to be a team player is important. I have NO idea who he is talking about in #11; none of MY colleagues have ever pasted textbook passages into THEIR Powerpoints...
However I definitely agree with his point #12, learn how to leave a good voicemail:
"First, slowly say your telephone number once at the beginning of your message and again at the end. You don’t want to make people playback your message to get your phone number, and if either of you are using Cingular, you may not hear all the digits. Second (and this applies to email too), always make progress. Never leave a voicemail or send an email that says, “Call me back, and I’ll tell you what time we can meet.” Just say, “Tuesday, 10:00 am, at your office.”
Finally, I absolutely agree with his concluding comment. Go, read it. Then come back here and tell me which of his points you find compelling.