Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Hold a Contest

Problem:

There’s no excitement in your office.  There’s nothing interesting for people to talk about.

Solution:

Hold a contest.  It doesn’t matter what for, how you set it up, or what the prize is, just have one, and make it something people will talk about.

You don’t need to ask permission, just make it sound like some big company contest and no one will ever know.  Or just keep it within your organization, it’s up to you.

Put up flyers, send out mass emails, post it on your blog, in your newsletter, or set up a sign on your desk.  However you want to spread the word, make it sound like a big deal.  And just go buy a nice prize if you want to, a gift card, dinner for two, or free massage.

I’m sure you can think of your own creative ideas for things to do, but here are a few off the top of my head.  The winner is the person who:

  • can solve this puzzle first
  • writes the best quote of the day
  • draws the best cartoon of the CEO
  • comes  up with the best idea for a contest
  • designs the coolest logo
  • has the funniest true company story
  • knows the answer to this trivia question
  • can guess correctly the exact weight of the receptionist this object
  • has the best new product idea
  • has the best idea for saving the company $millions$

Now wouldn’t that be something people would talk about?  It may even produce something valuable to the company.  In fact, I know it will,  because it will be something for people to get excited about, to try their hand at winning, a reason to connect with each other, a reason to pay attention when you announce the winner, it’ll be something different, something remarkable. 

That value is worth more than money because it’s taking a risk, shaking up the status quo, and making a difference.  It’s grootship!

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Take a Power Nap

Post by  Eric, Third Degree Enigma

Problem:

You get a little drowsy in the afternoon and have a hard time being productive.  Your mind gets fuzzy.

Solution:

Research has shown that taking a 20 minute nap in the middle of the day resets the learning centers of the brain and significantly improves learning during afternoon activities.   As a developer, it is not uncommon for me to get very drowsy around 1pm-2pm and be unable to write any decent code for several hours afterward.  Unless, of course, I can get a power nap. 

Napping at work has been problematic for eons.  Your body is screaming at you for a few minutes of brain reorganization and everyone else at work is prone to take a narrow view of your somnolence.   Besides the career-limiting potential that an open nap can have, it is also naturally difficult to get a good nap if you know other people are aware of it.   This is your caveman instinct protecting you from hostile males and predators taking advantage of your lack of consciousness.

Well, I’ve been powernapping successfully as part of my work for many years now.  I find short naps to be an indispensible part of having work-life balance and I’ve figured out a few things to make naps easier and more effective.  Here are some things I have learned: 

  • Take a nap when you are sleepy.  Once your body tells you to nap,  you have 20 minute window to get it.
  • It is critical that you actually go unconscious.  If you stay awake and just rest for a few minutes, you won’t get the benefit. 
  • 20 minutes is plenty.  I set a timer for the 20 minutes, but I almost always wake up before it goes off.  I often find that I have had a little dream, which is my signal that I had a good nap.
  • If you can nap in a semi-private location (such as a closed office), most people, even bosses, don’t particularly care.  They will even be apologetic about  disturbing you.   Napping in the open, however, makes people feel uncomfortable.
  • An office with a door that closes is great, but it is still important to put out a sign to keep people from barging in.   My favorite sign is “email only, please”.
  • If you don’t have a private office for sacking out, try any of the following:  Your car, a nearby park, a forgotten corner of the building, underneath the stairs at the bottom of a deep stairwell, or an unassigned office or cubicle.
  • Put your sleeping supplies (blanket, small pillow, earplugs) in a sports bag so that people don’t question why you are headed out of your office with a blanket and a pillow.   

Sweet dreams!

Eric, Third Degree Enigma

Always Have a Side Project

Problem:

The work you do doesn’t seem interesting or lend itself to “making a difference.”

Solution:

That’s okay.  The trash still needs to be taken out, those TPS reports still need to be checked for accuracy, and someone needs to process those expense reports.  I know, there are whole groups or even large organizations created solely to do routine work that some people might not find too interesting. 

Sure, you should definitely follow your passion, do something you love and all that, but right now, at this moment, if you don’t see yourself jumping ship to start a blogging career as you travel the world, then try starting with something a little bit smaller.  Create a side project.

What this means is that you have a little idea or effort you’d like to move forward.  It could be an idea for a new product, or an improvement to your process, or a meeting of like minded individuals, or even organizing a pot luck or fun event for your group.  It could be anything.  It just needs to be something that gives you a little extra juice, something you look forward to, that would make you happy to see happen.

And you don’t even have to tell anybody about it until it’s ready.  I’m not suggesting you neglect your other work and responsibilities, I’m just saying use those small free times that are available.  Maybe it’s during lunch or a break, or maybe you’ll have to put in a little extra hours.  It’ll be worth it. 

If it’s really relevant to your work you’ll probably be allowed to spend some regular work hours on it.  That’s the goal.  First get it ready to present to your boss or whoever needs to hear about it.  Gather the data, create a compelling case, write the story.  Then toss it out there.  If it gets rejected, so what?  Try again with something else, or a approach it from a different angle.

The bottom line is, those who are able to go beyond the call of duty, to do more than expected, to step out and take a risk, usually create more opportunities for themselves.  So think about what would really get you jazzed, and just go out and do it.  Your boss really does want creative people who make things better.

You can make a difference by doing something small and different.  That’s all there is to it.  So do it.  Get through it.  Just move it.

And don’t use silly rhymes (unless that’s something small and different.  Hey, it is.  See how easy that was?)

Say Thank You

Problem:

You get the feeling that people don’t have a good opinion of you.  Or, you don’t know what people think of you.  Or, you don’t have really good relationships that you can count on.  Or, you don’t feel that you’re a smooth, dynamic, charming speaker or conversationalist that people are attracted to.

Solution:

I know it sounds simple, but this is really the key to developing good relationships.  It is so easy to do.  The hard part is swallowing your pride.

Say ‘thank you’ often.  And mean it.

When you say ‘thank you’ to another person you are recognizing their contribution, you are saying that they provided something valuable to you and others.  You are humbling yourself because you are saying that you needed whatever they provided.  You might even be saying that they produced something better than what you could have produced.

Think deeply about the reasons why you wouldn’t say ‘thank you’ to someone and you’ll find that it is rooted in selfishness and pride.  Even if you didn’t think whatever they did was very useful, you can always learn something, maybe even how not to do it.  So the person should be thanked for their efforts.

Showing appreciation not only makes the recipient feel good, but it shows that you were paying attention, especially if you’re specific about what you liked.  So be specific.  It will help them do that part more.

And it’s easy.  Especially in online transactions. You can say it in emails, comments, and other various online discussions.  It spreads goodwill and builds your reputation as someone people like, because you’re always making people feel good.

So don’t worry about being a charming, dynamic personality.  Just be thankful and appreciative, and show it, and people will be drawn to you.  You’ll have more friends. 

And real friends are exactly what you need out there in the tough corporate world.

Be Patient

Problem:

Things aren’t changing fast enough for you. Your efforts seem to go unnoticed or without any impact.  The bureaucracy causes everything to take so much longer to get done or implemented.

Solution:

Be patient.  Just because the change is not occuring according to your paradigm doesn’t mean it isn’t occuring.

Have you ever watched a tree grow?  If you sat there and watched it you could get pretty frustrated.  But if you do the things that you know are necessary for it to grow, provide good soil, sunlight, and water, and wait patiently, over time, a nice large tree will appear.  And while one tree is growing, if you do that same work in multiple places, eventually you’ll have a forest.

The problem is that our paradigm or worldview is different than the corporation.  Since it is such a large entity, its perspective of time is much slower.  Just like a fly probably thinks we move really slow.  Its whole life starts and ends in a few days.  You are a fly compared to the corporation.

So don’t get discouraged when things don’t happen at the speed you’d prefer.  If you keep up your effort, keep making a difference, and keep fighting the status quo, eventually you’ll begin to notice the leaves on the tree.  You’ll have developed a reputation of someone to be sought after, a linchpin.  And the corporation will be a little different because of you.  

(pesky little fly)

Grow a Powerful Corporate Network (without leaving the office)

Guest post by Jodi Kaplan. Visit her blog at Fix Your Broken Marketing.

When I was back in the corporate world, my job required me to work with people all across the company. I was in marketing, but had to rely on people from graphics, events, product development, membership (for a non-profit), and IT to get my job done.

In one case, I had a brand-new position, so there was no guide to show me the ropes.  Since I couldn’t ask for help, I came up with an “evil” plan. 

Bribery!

I had a two-part plan.  The first part: bribery.  I put a big bowl of candy on my desk.  After a few days, I had lots of new friends.  People would also stop and chat, so I got all the latest news and project updates.

Let’s Do Lunch

Part two of my plan was sitting down for lunch.  I’d go into the company lunchroom and sit close to people outside my department.  Occasionally, they’d ask me a question or I’d chime in.  I gradually built up a friendly relationship,  and we started eating lunch together and having real conversations.

We were technically all isolated in our own different corporate silos – reporting to different people with different lines of command.  In some cases, we really weren’t intended to have anything to do with each other. 

However, when you have lunch with people over weeks and months, regardless of whether you’re talking about food, TV, or company goings-on, you start to bond.  

You also start to learn things you’d have never known about otherwise  – what bothers them, what problems they’re having doing their jobs, how you can make their jobs easier, and how they can help you. 

For instance, I found out that graphics would rather have plain text files instead of heavily formatted Word files.  Or, that it’s easier if you mark where you want headlines or photos to be inserted. 

These cross-departmental connections also came in very handy during reorganizations, since people from other departments  already knew and liked me.  In fact, some of them are still my friends.

So, next time you don’t have plans, ask someone from IT or accounting to lunch.  Or, go sit at a different table.  You might learn something. You might even make a friend.

Develop Meaningful Relationships (through bribes)

Guest post by Regine Albrecht. Visit her blog at: www.expatlinq.wordpress.com

Problem:

You frequently need help, assistance or just plain favors from people in other departments than yours.

Solution:

The way to a colleague’s heart is through their stomach.

In one of his last blogs Rex talked about “Go on a Field Trip” as a nice way to meet your colleagues from other departments. Back in my “corporate” days I had to work with several other departments and I remembered how I connected with them. Instead of calling my colleague(s) to ask for anything, I went on that field trip mentioned by Rex and introduced myself. It wasn’t really common for women to go to the manufacturing level so it was a little unusual, but I did it anyway.

I didn’t go only once, but almost every time I needed something or had a question, especially if it was something out of the ordinary (which happened quite often). Often times I would take some treats with me such as home baked cookies, chocolate, or some other candy to share with them.

OK you got me, I have a sweet tooth and yes, you may call this “bribing”.  I totally agree, but it worked miracles.  It opened so many doors for me and helped me a lot when I needed their support. Even if I had a request on VERY SHORT NOTICE they would do everything they could to help….which of course lead to another visit with a big thank you of some kind.

Where’s your guest post?