With summer nearing an end, I wish I'd read more. Of course, I still have a chance to add to my list for sure. And I've read some good stuff so far. But more would have been better. How about you? Did you read enough? Did it inspire? Did it fulfill? Add your favorite book to the comments; I'd love some great suggestions!
I love getting book suggestions from people in the know. So imagine my delight when, just the other day, The Washington Post published a list of books to read at every age. Check it out!
Here we are, entering the summer months, so it seems like a good time to repost this article I wrote for The Booth Company a few years ago:
In summertime especially, it’s easy to let the lure of everything outside the office (blue skies, birdsong, vacation plans) to distract you from being productive in the office. Luckily, summer is also the best time to start taking steps to develop new habits that can last throughout the rest of the year.
To bolster productivity, try these tips:
In all, greater productivity means that you’re achieving more in the hours you’re in the office. And, especially in the summer, being able to leave work on time can mean a better chance to enjoy what the season has to offer.
Another Booth Company article from a few years ago.
The building blocks are visible—what kind of culture will millennials create with them?
We all know that, at its heart, company culture is hard to define—and that it’s different for every company. Yet I’m willing to place a bet that, within the next five years, the up-and-coming millennial generation (which is likely to comprise nearly half of the workforce by 2020) is going to greatly affect corporate culture. And the changes will look similar across the board, no matter the company.
Study upon study has been conducted about the millennial generation, and most of us have seen the results. What we know about gen Y is this: They value feedback, collaboration, meaningful work, fun, corporate transparency, work-life balance, and fairness. Oh, and technology. They sure do love their technology.
So what we can glean from that list is that those values will influence cultural change. Here’s what I see shifting in workplaces over the next several years.
By far one of the most defining characteristics of the younger generation is its attachment to, love of, and understanding of technology. Which encompasses anything from their devices to the apps that are available on them. This generation grew up alongside technology, and it’s as natural to them as breathing.
And so, while it’s almost certainly a given that companies will take on new technology as a matter of course, Gen Y’s affinity for the latest and greatest will push the acceptance that much faster. Many companies will take on gamification because the generation values relaxation and fun. And they’ll change methods of communication—for one, there’s likely to be more video conferencing and less board room meetings. And even though the Gen Y’s like to have constant feedback and multiple touch points with supervisors, coworkers, and C suite, they will look for it in the form of email, texts, or app use versus one-on-one meetings. All of which will actually make it easier for the next shift: better work-life balance.
Gen Y is less about creating a distinction between work and personal life and more about ensuring that there’s a balance, even if it means that work time bleeds into home life. They’re looking for more flexibility—both in schedule and in where they sit. This generation is very willing to put in the hours needed to get the work done, but they want to be able to do it on their pace. So, for example, they might leave work at 3:00 p.m. to take care of a personal chore, but they’ll put in the additional few hours in the evening from the comfort of their own home, and they want to know that their company supports that flexibility. In fact, more and more millennials will want to work from home almost entirely. And the technology mentioned before makes it more convenient and possible.
And really, it’s an idea that supports a trend in business even today—the shift to a “fewer full-time/greater contract” model. Many companies have moved to a more flexible and scalable headcount process, with a small base of constant employees and a moving pool of freelance/contract workers to meet the needs when business booms and to reduce waste when workload is lighter. Many millennials are willing to let go of the steady full-time work in favor of the work-life balance present in freelance work; companies can benefit from that as well.
Gen Y’ers value meaning, both in the work they do and in the causes they support. They want to know that their efforts contribute to the greater good—if they don’t feel that their work is important, they’re likely to leave; similarly, if they feel that their workplace doesn’t value philanthropy, they won’t support the company for very long. So I see in the future greater corporate transparency, with companies ensuring that employees can tell that the company is being authentic and can tell how their efforts contribute to the results. I also see a push to increased corporate citizenship, with employees being more engaged with and loyal to companies that support a cause.
As the number millennials in the workforce increases, their influence will surely be seen. And so, as we look at what might transpire in business over the next five years, I might not have all the answers, but I am pretty confident in these changes moving forward. And the more that companies embrace the shift now, the more able they’ll be to thrive in the years to come.
We're only a couple of months in to the new year, and already there are a great many new books you could dive in to. Check out the ones Real Simple suggests are the best by clicking here: https://www.realsimple.com/work-life/entertainment/best-books-2019
How you set yourself up the day before can make or break your productivity. Check out this blog I wrote for Booth Company a while back, and see if you agree:
Often, the first hour of the workday can set the tone for the rest of the day. Are you starting off discombobulated? Are you already late for a meeting? Did you forget what the deliverables are for your latest project? Are you behind even though you’re just out of the gate? Kicking off your day prepared and ready to go can be as simple as using the last hour of each workday to your advantage. Try these five steps to see if your days start running more smoothly.
Taking the time to get prepared for tomorrow can set you up for better success. Give it a try to see what happens!
I just discovered that the New York Times just released a list of the 100 Notable Books of 2018. Best part is, it includes numerous genres and various writers. Skim to your heart's content, and then let me know which is your favorite. Enjoy!
When I was writing papers in high school and college, I never gave the serial comma a thought. And I'm sure I both abused it and was inconsistent in its use. But that all changed when I started my first job as a copyeditor, and I discovered that the Oxford comma is one of the best tools to help ensure that each element in a series has equal weight.
In fact, because it can help make meaning more clear, the serial comma has had a history in legal disputes. This past January, Oakhurst Dairy in Maine shelled out $5 million to settle a dispute with its drivers, just because the Oxford comma was missing. Of course, the legal resolution to the language in the matter is more cumbersome than it would have been to have had the comma in the first place; however, I'm cheering for the punctuation's victory. Read all about it in this NYT article, and comment below if you've had similar triumphs (or even failures) with the Oxford comma.
Another Booth Co. blog I wrote a while ago. Still rings pretty true.
Especially in this age of fast pace and high demand, everyone wants to get the most out of their employees. So these days, among the corporate buzz terms is “employee engagement,” and with good reason—interested, present, committed (engaged!) workers are efficient, profitable components to the company. But one thing that many managers overlook when they try to engage their employees is how to appropriately set (and follow through on) expectations.
From day one, employees like to know what they can expect from their new employer. Among the most important pieces of information are those about performance reviews—how and when reviews are scheduled, who is involved, what the format is, and what the measurements are. New hires also like to understand any system for salary increases and the requirements for promotion. They’re also keen to know the process behind paid time off—whether and at what stage the company offers sick time, personal time, vacation time, or even flex time—and how they can accrue and spend those hours. All of this information should be communicated to new hires from the get-go, and managers need to stick with what’s outlined. For example, if an employee is told official performance reviews occur every June, the manager must be sure to follow through on that plan—holding off on the review until August or not scheduling one at all will diminish the company’s credibility, which can lead to disinterest and disengagement.
Similarly, new (as well as seasoned!) employees are eager to learn what their managers expect of them. When managers start a new project or welcome a new member to an existing project team, it’s important that they let all members know and understand the deliverables. Managers should be clear on roles and responsibilities for the team or just the project, timelines and deadlines, how they intend to communicate with the team, the way and how frequently they would like the team to communicate with them, and how they would like to see issues addressed. The more advance work managers do to let employees know what they expect, the more likely it is that they’ll get what they need—and more!—in the results.
Which means that, at the core, one of the most important factors to setting employee expectations is solid communication. Clearly outlining what an employee can expect is important, keeping in mind that people learn and absorb differently and at different rates and in different ways. Clear communication takes more than just one mention in one meeting. It takes spoken word, written word, and follow-up. Obviously, plans and projects can change frequently—that’s the speed of doing business. But that doesn’t mean that expectations should be dashed to the ground. Instead, it should mean that communication is heightened. Frequent, measured, clear, and open communication helps create an environment of trust and understanding, reduces unwanted surprises, and increases engagement. Through all of that, as more managers focus on properly setting and following through on employee expectations, the returns are likely to be high.
Looks like last month's post didn't actually post. So I'll try it again. Fingers crossed!
Keeping It “Business as Usual” Will Kill Your Business
In today’s fast-paced, technologically driven society, the marketplace can change on a dime. Businesses that not only succeed but thrive are the ones that can adapt to—or, even better, anticipate—change with as little effort as possible. Which means that, keeping your business running at “business as usual” status won’t allow you to grow.
The price of being stagnant is remarkably high. If your company is sluggish to adopt new ideas or new thinking, be aware that your competitors aren’t. They are out there working on not just the ideas for a better tomorrow, but the ones for a better next week, and with that thinking, they’re winning more of your customers. And making your business obsolete.
Furthermore, not only are you losing ground in the marketplace; you’re losing ground with your employees. If your company culture is listless and driven by “because we’ve always done it that way,” employees will be prone to boredom. You risk even your best employees migrating elsewhere (likely to a competitor that champions innovation). Or worse, you risk keeping the same comfort-zone-loving, narrow-minded worker drones who will cultivate and recycle the culture of stasis.
Which is why it’s best to challenge the status quo. It won’t be easy to make a cultural mindset shift, but it will be worth it. Here are some thoughts on how to go about it:
These days, in our “next generation” culture, innovation is the speed of doing business. Your company will do best to get on board and move beyond “business as usual” by becoming creative, embracing change, and being ready to adapt to a shifting marketplace.
I’ve been inspired by many people and events. I hope to share at least a little of that inspiration.