Monday, August 01, 2011
Standing in a line during an errand over the weekend, I came across a blog post featuring a bullet list titled, "How to Work with Me," that the blog author received in preparation for working with a bigwig who, in the blogger's words, "doesn't have time for bullshit."
I wouldn't exactly call the list items principles, but they are close to being that useful. The items are too tailored to said bigwig's temperament, personal style, and workday milieu to be principles, but I would say that the principles behind the advice are so close to the surface that almost anyone could glean some useful ideas about how to make working on a team a more productive experience.
You will find items that strike a nerve, perhaps because you've always wanted to complain or do something about someone else's miscommunication or poor use of your time; and you will find items that leave you thinking something like, "Huh. I've never considered that before," or, "I think I'll start being clear about that issue myself, from now on."
Here are a few of the items:
10. Be consistent in your communication. Use words consistently. Use email headers consistently. Strive to make your work immediately comprehensible.Whoever this is, I also particularly like his approach to meetings, which I recognize as necessary, but usually hate because so many of them waste so much time.
11. If you disagree with me, voice your differences. I welcome and invite dissent. If this makes you uncomfortable, feel free to prepare your thoughts after the meeting and then later return to make your case.
12. Ego-driven debates annoy me. Check your ego at the door: I'm only interested in reaching the best, most elegant solution -- I don't care if it's your idea or mine.
13. Don't be afraid to ask questions if you're not clear. I have more patience for explaining and clarifying my position before you start than I do patience for fixing a wasteful, incorrect approach after the fact.
The work you trade with others brings you more profit the more effective its product is for your customer and the more efficiently you deliver it. Both sources of profit depend on clear communication and good use of time. This executive clearly understands this and is nipping several common problems related to communication and time in the bud.
I agree that it was time for a coaching change for the U.S. Men's national soccer team, but am not as sanguine as many seem to be about the choice of Juergen Klinsmann for the role. George Vecsey of the New York Times raises two big concerns: How is the man as a tactician, and does he really understand the psyche of the American player?
I can feel the annoyance of the school marm who got kicked out of Starbucks after not using its silly vernacular -- memorably dubbed "Starbucks Esperanto" by Joe Queenan. However, I found her confrontational attitude silly and unproductive. The proper response to being told, "You're not going to get anything unless you say butter or cheese," isn't to call the barista an "asshole" and give him a reason to call the cops. It's to say -- if you really are that annoyed -- "I'll get a plain bagel now, or your complaint department and all my friends are going to hear about how Starbucks made me stand in line for nothing."
I'm not sure I'd agree with the author's "evolutionary explanation" for procrastination. (Sure, one will be reluctant to implement a plan he doesn't trust. One can reach this conclusion through introspection, minus any comprehensive theory of psychology. This conclusion thus neither depends on EP nor lends credence to it.) Nevertheless, I think the following idea of his has merit:
[O]ne of the most effective ways to sidestep procrastination is to find the story of someone who personifies what you want to accomplish, figure out how they accomplished what they did, then base your process on their approach. [my emphasis]One reason for procrastination is that one has no idea how to accomplish a goal -- or, perhaps (as in the case of "have a successful career") hasn't really set a definite goal. Looking at a successful model can at least provide a framework for clarifying one's objectives or finding a path towards achieving them.