Email Free Friday Update

It’s been about 3 months since we went email free on Fridays in my department. I promised I’d let you know how it goes…and it goes great! What we’re finding is that being email free on just this one day a week is helping most of us be more conscious of how many emails we send during the rest of the week. It also makes me aware of how much information is really necessary and how much is just noise.

Here are 3 quick ways you can turn down the volume on your inbox:

1. Don’t hit the “reply all” button to any email, especially ones that list more than 2 people in the “To” field.

2. Unless your question needs some sort of “documentation,” pick up the phone and call the person.

3. Turn your computer speakers off and minimize your email window so you’re not tempted by the new messages popping up.

Below are some comments from staff in my department on how they feel about Email Free Fridays:

  • …it opens up a dialogue we might never have had.
  • I really like the e-mail free Fridays. It allows me to catch up and clean up my messages and be prepared for the influx of messages for the upcoming week.
  • I think having a day without the constant demand of e-mails that have to be dealt with free us so we can catch up with paperwork, put together reports and… have extra precious time for planning, which is the heart of what we do in our department.
  • Please–YES–email free Fridays

Take the plunge–go email free on Fridays! It may sound scary, but you’ll love yourself (and others) for it!


Malnourished Employees

Sometimes a comment is just too good to keep in the “comments zone.” A comment that was posted today in regards to my post about the “care and feeding of talent” made me laugh and cringe at the same time…sad to say it is so true, so true…

6 suggestions for supervisors from a malnourished employee:
1. Don’t get in the habit of hiding! When you do we get anxious about sporadic outbursts.
2. Communicate openly. We all need feedback. It validates our work. But it shouldn’t come solely from behind a closed door.
3. Check your personal problems at the door. Please. We’ll do the same.
4. Actively engage your staff in new challenges. This energizes us!
5. Don’t treat your staff members like your children. It feels nice at first but eventually blurs boundaries and leads to frustration. We value a professional working environment more than you might realize.
6. Accept our accomplishments as an invitation to help us grow.
Sooooooooooo, if you’re one of these “malnurioushed employees” how are you going to get fed (before you dry up and wither away…or polish up your resume)? If you’re one of these managers/supervisors who are so caught up in your hide-away worlds of email communications and spreadsheets, when are you going to get activated to initiate your withering staff…Before you lose those talented starving staff members?

Care and Feeding of Talent–It’ll Blossom if you Water It

I’ve been thinking a whole bunch about Talent Management lately (and more than that, I’ve been acting on these thougths…more on that in posts to come…) But for now, I just had to revisit this post from Library Bytes back in Feb….In this post Helene shares info about how a company handles its Talent–in a serious, meaningful and direct manner. Their practices are full of good old-fashioned shock waves…that really shouldn’t need to shock us at all–they make good common sense! Why wouldn’t we want staff working in the jobs they WANT to be in–using their BEST talents and skills–instead of trying to push them into molds of accountabilities and “core competencies” that are strictly about tasks and deliverables? We have to be mining talent and keeping an eye open to it…giving talent an opportunity to unleash itself…and unleash itself in ways that we can’t prescribe in workplans or check lists. Just like the grande general subject of “Life,” Talent is organic, expressive and begging to be set free… It’s out there folks, waiting to blossom, even in the driest of work settings. If you see it, commit to nurture it with freedom, a little elbow room, a few budget dollars, a note of encouragement–you’ve got to water that Talent in order for it to grow! (Especially in an enviroment or work culture that is used to being insular, non-connected, and outputs driven).

Back to the featured company in the article: I even like the sound of their 18 month “engagement survey” they send to all staff. Sounds a lot better than the “employee climate survey,” huh? We want ENGAGED employees, not “CLIMATIZED” ones! Right?! Right? Let me here about it. How is YOUR talent being set free OR not?

Unleash The Talent

How well do you know the staff members that work right beside you…the ones that you interact with periodically but sometimes forget their names…or even the ones you supervise on a daily basis? A better question than this–as far as a productive work environment goes–how well do you know the staff member’s skills and talents? Or just plain old interests. Simple as that. What we are finding more and more is that if you aren’t tapping into the best talents and skills of a staff member (regardless of whether these talents and skills fit directly into their prescribed job description) then the best work and optimal job satisfaction is not being touched on. It’s not just about getting the job done, folks. We’re talking impact on on many levels. It’s all holographic…many levels, many activities, all moving parts contributing to a whole.
So, let me get grounded here…. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal suggests that we’re often overlooking the talent that surrounds us each day as we look for something more elusive, some talent that rests in another organization or another business.When–surprise–some of our best talent is right outside our door, left to plug away at tasks or duties, often uninspired and stale. The article points out: “Companies are filled with alienated employees who feel underutilized and ignored, and are either coasting or searching for new jobs elsewhere. A whopping 70% of U.S. employees say they feel either ‘not engaged’ or “actively disengaged” at work, according to a recent survey by the Gallup Organization. “
There are pockets of skill, talent–shall we say even passion? Why not? These pockets are often only as deep as we delve. The article goes on to say that “coaching” is the key to tapping into and opening up this talent. True in most cases. Personally, I am a bit over the word “coaching” as it is so used and misused and often a cop-out practice by organizations when some staff simply need to be managed out of a system and encouraged to move on. I don’t know if it’s so much about “coaching” a staff member to help them flourish as it is about just starting to recognize them as having something beneficial that can feed into an existing program or service and amp it up. It doesn’t have to be a planned process so much as a nod to “go ahead, run with that idea.” Who couldn’t name at least one person who could bring a new voice, a new perspective, a new spin or sparkle to an existing service just by being invited into the loop? Why don’t we invite them in? Take the leash off their necks (and desks). Free them up for a day, a week, a month to run wild with a idea. Great things could happen. The process alone is freeing, and in that it is great. If you recongizea skill or talent or simply a good idea on the job–recognize it, name it immediately…you will likely unleash a tethered talent. And follow-up…young talent, especially, can be strong–but shy.

Break The Rules, Create Anew

Since Helene posted Joyce Valenza’s New 2.0 Rules, I have found myself either referring to them, reflecting on them, or going back and reading them again and again. Just today I was in a (loooong) meeting (now that’s the way to start a Monday off right, kiddos!), when a meeting participant made the comment that it was really “management’s” job to make sure that staff are on target with needed training. First of all, for once and for all, can we please stop referring to the nebulous “management.” I think the “they” in statements like “They won’t let us” is the same group as “management” as in “management is holding us back, man!” So, with this thought on the tip of my brain and a magic marker in my hand, I ran to the first flip chart available and wrote boldly one of Joyce’s new 2.0 rules on the paper: Train Thyself! And so it is. Handholding is allowed in the 2.0 world, but just for kicks. You’ve got to have both hands on the keyboard and striking out on your own course of learning, training , and discovery. If you’re waiting for a manager or supervisor to come to you and suggest you take this or that session, you may as well have him or her pack your lunch and cut the edges off your p&j. Take the reigns, pros of the future. There is so much available to us, so much learning and unlearning we can do right from the comfort of our own laptops or even on a lunchbreak. The classroom is wherever you happened to be connected or intrigued or wanting more. Dig deeper…on your own terms and with your own motivation (there is no other kind…but that’s a rant for another day). Now go read Joyce’s New Rules…and get to learning, shaking, rethinking, moving, acting, changing your world!