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Author Archives: Trevor

man shaking hand

Making Monday Meetings Less Painful

Trevor 3 comments

Monday Meetings are important to align the team members with the weekly objectives and status checks. Although these are important things, as a manager, supervisor or coordinator one has to assess the real cost-benefit of meetings.

When you have a meeting, you might think that the cost is just 1-hour from the work day. The reality of the matter is that the real cost is 1-hour times the number of participants in the meeting. So for a meeting with 8 people total, you are using 8 hours of company time instead of the perceived hour.

How do you make meetings more efficient?

1. Only have meetings with the relevant people. If a person proves to be non-essential for a particular meeting, then there is no reason to include them.

2. A 1-hour meeting is not required. Although all our appointment tools are segmented into 15-30-45-60 minute blocks, it doesn’t necessarily mean that meetings have to fit within that time frame. It’s ok to have a 10 minute if the objective is achieved.

3. Have a clear agenda defined. Don’t call a meeting without knowing what the meeting is going to be about. Have the issues ready to be discussed.

4. Avoid tangents. Although, important matters might arise during the meeting; it might be completely unrelated to the stipulated agenda and the ‘right’ people might not even be in the room. In this case, just acknowledge the issue, define a date and the people that will be in charge of addressing it and move on.

5. Finish off with recapping objectives and responsibilities.

Check out this TedxMidwest where the speaker, Jason Fried, lays down a whole different idea about work. If you want a recap on the video, you might want to go to the “Where does work really happen?” article.

quote Jason Fried

Where Does Work Really Happen?

Trevor 3 comments

Where does work really happen? Jason Fried has asked himself that question and discovered something quite radical. Despite the strong investment in office space and office amenities, work doesn’t happen at work at all.

The myth of multitasking has long been debunked, and the notion of working at one thing at a time is gaining importance. Fried compares working to sleeping; an action that needs to follow a process in order to be deemed satisfactorily completed. In order to achieve a full night’s rest, one has to complete the cycle, and all interruptions cause the cycle to restart itself. Work works the same way, especially for the “thinking jobs”. In order to work, one needs to let the thought processes take over in order to really ‘think’.

“[Facebook and Twitter] aren’t the real problems in the office. The real problems are what I like to call the M&Ms, the Managers and the Meetings.”

According to Fried, the main problems for office distractions are M&M’s (Managers and Meetings). Although it’s the manager’s job to check up on the employee’s performance, doing too much of it renders everyone’s productivity inefficient. Meetings is the other culprit. Meetings usually call for too many people and run for longer than they should.

The solutions Fried offers:

1. Cancel the next meeting, if you are in a position to do so.

2. Have less meetings or quick ones with only the relevant people.

3. Encourage the use of instant messaging and emailing because the person can choose when he is interrupted.

4. Choose one afternoon and make it a ‘no talking block’.

 

[iframe src=”https://embed-ssl.ted.com/talks/jason_fried_why_work_doesn_t_happen_at_work.html” width=”640″ height=”360″]

multitask

The Myth of Multitasking & Why You Need to Stop

Trevor 7 comments

Recent neuroscience research tells us that the brain doesn’t really do tasks simultaneously. The reality of the matter is that we switch tasks quickly. When you read and listen to music or when you text while sitting in a meeting, you’re not really doing 2 simultaneous tasks. There’s a stop and start process that goes on in the brain. This stop and start actually eats up time, is less efficient, has a higher propensity for mistakes and it can be overall exhausting.

 

Still think you are a great Multitasker? Do the following test:

Part A. Instructions: 

1. Draw two horizontal lines on a piece of paper. Now, have someone time you as you carry out the two tasks:

2. On the first line write:

– I am a great multitasker

3. On the second line, write out the numbers 1-20 sequentially:

– 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

 

How much time did it take you? It usually takes about 20 seconds.

 

Now let’s start multitasking.

Part B. Instructions: 

1. Draw two horizontal lines. Have someone time again.

2. Write the first letter on the first line, then write the first number on the second line.

3. Write the second letter on the first line, then write the second number on the second line. For example:

– I am…

– 1 2 3…

4. Continue in this fashion until you’ve completed both the sentence and the number sequence.

multitask-2

How long did it take you? More than likely the time has doubled from the first round. You might have also noticed that you made some mistakes, and probably got frustrated in the process since you had to “rethink” what the next letter would be, and then the next number.

 

What you just did is known as switch-tasking on something very simple, but this is exactly what happens when one tries to do several tasks at one. Keep tabs on yourself to avoid switchtasking, and focus your brain on one task at a time. If you have several tasks at hand, try the Pomodoro Technique, a time management practice.

 

Sources: Psychology Today 

graphic designer head

How to Talk to a Graphic Designer?

Trevor 2 comments

It’s all about communicating effectively. Avoid poor outcomes that arise from poor communication skills. Save time & unnecessary headaches.

When talking about designs, it is particularly hard due to the creative process involved. So to prevent misunderstanding, conflicts and overall frustration realize that as the client, you are just as responsible as the designer for the final product, so stick to useful feedback.

Early and Often Feedback

Nothing is more frustrating for designers (and most people) than asking for a completely different concept when the project is nearing its end. Make sure you make all your corrections frequently and as early as possible, enabling the designer to go back to the drawing table with a clear direction. Also make sure you go over all the corrections in order to eliminate implicit approvals. Although possibly tedious at first, in the end, it will save time.

Avoid Vagueness

Don’t say you don’t like something and leave it at that. Either explain why you don’t like it, or make a suggestion on how you think it would be better. “It looks a little off…” means absolutely nothing because the criticism isn’t clear, and neither is the direction.

Improvements vs. Mistakes

Although designers are expected to have thick skin to withstand criticism, using tact to communicate is still more efficient than being harsh. Instead of saying “This font is ugly”, try “I would like to use a different font here”. A good relationship will always elicit a better result.

Let the Designer be the Designer

It’s only natural to have suggestions; however, there is also a possibility that the designer has already considered it. Ask your designer the reasoning behind their choices and it will allow you to see what your designer is thinking, as well as the limitations of your project. Next time you receive a proposal that is not aligned with your original vision, don’t discard it immediately, take the time to evaluate the designed fully before making corrections.

 

Sources: Entrepreneur.com 

social media icons

Is Social Media Killing Your Job Opportunities?

Trevor 7 comments

By now you should have Googled yourself at least once. If you haven’t done it, you definitely should. A simple search will reveal all the online information you have unknowingly shared throughout the years.  94% of Recruiters use social media to recruit (2013), a substantial increase from 78% in 2008.

Google

– Start by searching for yourself, this will show everything a Recruiter will see. Did something pop-up that you don’t want Recruiters to see? It’s time to look-over your online persona, and make sure it’s up to par with the impression you want to give.

Facebook

– Review your privacy settings, make sure that your updates are not public and are limited to your friends only. On a side note, if your current employer is in your list of friends, it would be wise to change their permissions to “Restricted” so that they can only see things that you share publicly.

– Eliminate past ‘public’ posts by going to your privacy settings and under “Who can see my stuff?” locate the third option “limit the audience for posts you’ve shared with friends of friends or public” and choose “Limit Past Posts”.

LinkedIn

– Update your profile and ensure that it’s completed in its totality.

– Ask for recommendations and endorsements

– Add your LinkedIn Profile to your CV

Twitter

– Remember that Twitter has no privacy setting; everything you share is readily available to the world.

– Connect with peers, industry influences, and experts.

Blog

– Start a blog and create unique content that helps you stand out from the crowd.

 

Things to Avoid: Don’t post about…

Illegal Drug Usage: 83% of recruiters report a negative reaction

Sexual posts: 70% of recruiters report a negative reaction

Profanity: 65% of recruiters report a negative reaction

Gun References: 50% of recruiters report a negative reaction

– However, 65% of the recruiters remain neutral towards overtly political posts.

 

woman touching social media cloud

 

Still don’t think Social Media is important?

– LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter continue to be the most used channels by recruiters. Although there’s an increased adoption of specialized and localized social networks such as GitHub, Yammer, Stackoverflow, Pinterest and Instagram.

– Recruiters use Linked in 93% of the time to search, contact and keep tabs on candidates in the hiring process.

– Recruiters continue to use social media even after sourcing and contacting candidates ( 18% use Twitter and 25% use Facebook to vet candidates after the interview process).

– 43 % of employees from referrals and company pages stay longer than 3 years, while only 14% of job board hires stay longer than three years.

 

Sources: Jobvite, Tweak Your Biz

Motivate Smart person holding business globe

Are You Motivating Smart?

Trevor No Comments

We are a long way from a Fordism form of management, and we’ve surpassed Taylorism Principles of scientific management. Times have definitely changed and Employee Management Practices have become increasingly important, especially when you consider the following data:

 

95% correlation between balance sheet and business value (1978)

vs.

28% correlation between balance sheet and business value (2005)

 

There’s a significance difference so, what has changed? Business Value is no longer driven solely from financial indicators or what your current assets are. Business value is now driven by Intangible Assets such as:

– Intellectual property

– Strategy

– Brand

– Systems

– Processes

– Access to capital

– Off balance sheet items

– Customer reputation

– Executive Team

 

Are you Motivating Smart?

In order to determine whether or not your Intangible Assets are where they should be, take this survey by assigning a 1-5 value to each statement; 5 being the highest.

 

Take the Survey

1. Employees’ values, motivations, and talents are understood and measured.

2. Employees consider their jobs rewarding and interesting.

3. Employees are committed to jointly owned, shared goals, values, and beliefs.

4. Employees hold each other accountable against agreed upon plans and standards.

5. We have open and honest communication that empowers employees.

 

Survey Results

Now add up the scores and divide by 5 your score.

– 4-5: means that you are motivating smart.

– 3-3.8 : means that you are in the caution zone and need improvements to your motivating program. You can benefit from better alignment, making you much more productive and profitable.

– Below 3: you are in the danger zone and are probably out of alignment, may have poor motivational programs, and are much less productive and less profitable than you could be.

 

motivate smart 2

 

Why Motivating Smart is Important?

(from David Norton, Balanced Scorecard Report Vol. 3, No.5 Oct 2011).

– Only 5% of workforce understand their company’s strategy

– Only 15% of senior management spends more than 1 hour a month defining strategy and aligning operations to it

– Only 25% have their operations aligned to the strategy

– Only 40% align company from budget to strategy

How can companies motivate smarter?

1. Develop a long term strategy. Having a clear direction makes it easier for all areas of a business; much like being at sea, a long-term strategy is the final destination, and every company ship will align their compass to reach the same goal.

2. Develop a comprehensive orientation program for all new employees. Having employees that understand the culture and environment they work in facilitates cooperation and motivation.

3. Hold company-wide meetings in order to share information about the company on a regular basis (quarterly) and openly share information with them so that you can establish a regular and recurring dialogue with your employees.

4. Sponsor company social events outside of a work setting to cement relationships that are developed inside the organization.

5. Create a culture of caring and motivating.

6. Offer profit or gainsharing pay.

 

Doing the Right Things Right

Every company is different, so every motivational strategy will be different. Here are three different strategies to consider:

1. Family –like community: employees are motivated primarily out of sense of responsibility to one another and the company

2. Interesting and Rewarding Jobs – employees are provided with challenging work opportunities and chances to learn and grow

3. Fair compensation – companies use compensation to motivate people and pay higher wages than their competitors. They also use incentives to attract, reward and retain their people.

 

Sources: The Executive SuiteTweak Your Biz

Business Women image by ambro

What & Why’s of Cover Letters

Trevor 7 comments

What is a Cover Letter & Why you should be including them in your resume submissions.

A cover letter is a single page introductory letter for your potential employer that supplements your resume. This should always be included in every job application because it introduces yourself by highlighting important skills and capabilities, and how they are applicable to the position you are seeking to fill. Above all else, a cover letter is relevant because it requests an opportunity to meet with the employer personally.

Types of cover Letters

An Application letter is written to apply for a specific job opening. Since you know what job you are applying for and the qualification the employer is looking for, use the cover letter to expand on why you are the best suited candidate. Include examples of past experiences that are relevant to the job, your skills and abilities, and how you would become an asset to the company.

A Referral letter mentions the name of a person who referred you to a job. Recruiters are more likely to hire someone based on a referral from someone they know, so don’t miss the opportunity to get an interview by not mentioning who spoke to you about the job opening.

A Letter of interest, also known as prospecting letter, inquires about possible job openings at the company. These are letters sent to companies that have not announced job openings; but you can still send them your resume preemptively for when they are hiring. These letters should include why the company interests you, and how your skills and capabilities can turn into assets for the company. It’s important that your contact information is absolutely clear in the event that they wish to follow up with you. It’s also important to note that most companies archive these resumes into their database for future references.

A Networking letter requests job search advice and assistance. These letters simply state how you acquired the recipient’s contact or who referred you to them, and describes your objective or purpose for reaching out. It should then make a request for information or advice, followed by a ‘thank you in advance’.

A Value proposition letter is a brief statement explaining what makes the candidate unique. This is a 100-150 word statement that concisely explains why you are the ideal candidate. Within the statement, include information such as your skills, strengths and experiences.

 

sources: Writing Center University of Wisconsin & About Careers 

bcard 7

25+ Awesome Business Card Trends for 2014

Trevor No Comments

A business card is the opportunity to say so much more about yourself and your business.

Get inspired with different business cards designs. Get your potential clients’ attention with these awesome business card designs and trends for 2014.

 

The ‘Obviously for Lego’

BC

The Google Inspired

Bc1

The Website Inspired

 

bcard 8

The Zoo-ist

bcard 11

The Streamline

bcard 10

The Accent

bcard 9

The Newer Google Inspired

bcard 7

The Mysterious

bcard 6

The Stamp

bcard 5

The Colorfully Embossed

bcard 4

The Stylist

bcard 3

The Designer

bcard 2

The Illustrator

bcard 1

The Spartan

bc14

The Futuristic

bc13

The Crafter

bc12

The Consultant

bc11

The Elaborate

bc10

The Artist

bc9

The Retro

bc8

The Hipster

 bc7

The ‘So, What is your ideal weight?’

bc6

The Witty Sticker

bc5

The Tech Savvy

bc4

The Growable

bc3

The Strategically Placed

 bc2

gmail logo

3 Gmail Tools That Will Boost Your Productivity for Free

Trevor 5 comments

Canned Responses 

Do you get similar emails that require similar answers quite frequently? Well, instead of typing the reply emails over and over again, Gmail offers a Lab feature that will allow you to save ‘pre-written responses’ to make your life easier.

How to turn on Canned Responses

– In your gmail, go to the settings page by selecting the gear on the top right corner

– Go to the ‘Labs’ Tab

– Search for Canned Responses

– Enable the Lab feature and Save your Changes.

Canned-Responses

To create a Canned Response

This feature will save your email as is; so, it would be best to start with a new email. Simply write your ‘pre-written reply’ and select the drop down arrow in the bottom-right corner of your compose window.

From there, select ‘canned responses’ followed by ‘new canned response’. Create a name for the type of response you’ve just created, and that’s it! This will be the last time you’ll have to write the same email over and over again.

Canned-Responses2

To use canned responses

I labeled my canned response as ‘Feedback’. When I receive an email that warrants it, I’d go to the drop down arrow in the bottom right corner and select the appropriate canned response.

Canned-Responses3

Boomerang

Stop sending emails past midnight. This Gmail add-on can schedule your emails to be sent at a later time.

The coolest thing though, is the ‘Boomerang’ feature. Don’t want to deal with a certain email at the moment but don’t want to forget about it completely? Enable the boomerang feature, and have the email return to your  inbox in your stipulated time frame. But that’s not all, you can turn on the boomerang for emails that have not received any reply in, say, 2 days; basically, any unanswered email will return to the top of your inbox if no one replies to it.

boomerang

 

Rapportive

Are you in HR? Rapportive will show you the sender’s linkedin profile within your Gmail. Instead of seeing gmail ads, you will get the linkedin profile from the sender. Quick, easy references that will make your life so much easier.

rapportive

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