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A simple change can yield impressive results

An article in our local paper identified this particular type of moth as a polyphemus. Even looking at this guy upside down (right bottom) offers a change of perspective. What can you turn upside down at your office for new insights?

Grace and I changed the time of our daily walk and yesterday morning, we had an unexpected treat. It made me think of how just a simple change in a routine can yield significant — and in our case, beautiful — results!

In our workplaces, routines are commonplace. Our teams and departments start to run on autopilot, executing tasks and projects without much thought about why or how we’re doing it. That means that we tend to have the same kind of outcomes, without bringing innovation or new ideas to the forefront. Our staff can start to get bored and we don’t even know why!

So this innocent change in walk time created an eye-opening reminder to the value of changing things up occasionally, even when things are going well with your existing processes. Prior to the summer’s heat wave, our walk time had been mid-day or sometime in the afternoon, when one or the other of us needed a break to stretch our legs. The sun was strong and there were certain rhythms to what we saw, such as insects and birds. But things are different at dawn. Yesterday, we headed out before 7:00 a.m. and very quickly, we noticed something quite unusual ahead of us on the road. We stumbled upon an enormous moth, measuring nearly 6″ in width, laying still as if he was trying to make himself invisible. He (she?) fluttered a bit when Grace almost stepped on him! Moths are nighttime creatures and we apparently caught him at the end of his active cycle and the beginning of ours.

A simple change of time to avoid the heat provided the opportunity to experience something totally unexpected, a treasure that we would have missed otherwise. 

What routines have become stagnant at your workplace? Mixing things up, even just a tad, can offer fresh ideas and new ways of seeing things. Here are a few examples, all easy with no cost attached!

  • Change where your staff meeting is held or adjust the day/time of week
  • Offer to meet in your employee’s space/cubicle instead of your own for your next one-on-one meeting, or even go on a walk instead!
  • Bring in a guest speaker to your next meeting, perhaps an expert in their field, or a client impacted by your work
  • Alter the frequency of an activity, either to more or less often, depending on the event.
  • Add a new topic to a meeting, or drop one.
  • Ask your team how to mix things up, they will have good ideas! Just keep it simple and easy. That will get the creative juices flowing without adding stress to people’s plates.

What other ideas to you have for generating a buzz in your office? Remember, the smallest of efforts can yield amazing results.

 

Easy ‘on-the-job’ training for new managers

Have you recently promoted a high-performing employee into a new supervisory role? Or perhaps you have been the one tapped for expanded responsibilities? Congratulations! It’s an exciting time that can bring great accomplishments. But it can also be disastrous if there’s little or no preparation. Of course, everyone wants and expects the best, but far too often, new managers are left to fend for themselves. That’s not a smart way to go, especially given how accessible and affordable supports for new managers can be.

According to an article they authored for Training Industry Magazine, leadership development experts, Scott and Ken Blanchard, said the average tenure of people enrolling in their new first-time manager training program was two years. They also reported that research by Jack Zenger indicates most managers do not receive training until they have been in a leadership role for almost 10 years!

Imagine the lost opportunity for these individuals! Not only have they been left without adequate skills to accomplish their work, but they are also impacting their direct reports. Nothing ruins productivity faster than sour manager/employee relationships.

Training does take time and commitment, and everyone has workloads that are already heavy. However, there are many efficient and effective ways to ensure that managers get the advice and support they need. Here are three essential tips that will save you – and your organization – from failure:

1.      Set an expectation for some amount of training each week. It could be as little as 30 minutes to an hour; the important part is that it is scheduled. Putting it on the calendar signals it as a priority and makes sure that it doesn’t get lost in a busy day.

2.      Ensure that the material is relevant to the individual and the job. For example, if the team is growing, make sure new managers get training about hiring staff.

3.      Identify microlearning resources. These effective online learning options focus on delivering content in short bursts. The aim is for learners to learn, apply, reflect on, and revise strategies in rapid cycles by approaching learning in bite-sized chunks. When offering employees a consistent and accessible means to receive material, the training experience yields a bigger impact.

Giving your new manager the tools he needs when faced with a perplexing question will yield benefits for the entire team. The process and time required don’t have to be overwhelming— in fact, the simpler the better.

When you incorporate online solutions into the mix, you’re offering the opportunity to develop new skills and expand knowledge when it’s convenient and when it’s most needed. It’s as easy as grabbing your phone and a cup of coffee. You’ll be amazed at what can be achieved in just a few minutes!

That’s precisely why I designed a resource to help managers get what they need fast. My online Learning Resource Center offers on-demand access to more than 100 relevant video titles on management and leadership. Members also receive access to a monthly Round Robin Live Q&A during which we have the opportunity to address their toughest workplace challenges. I’d love to have you join in the community here!