Here’s a look at three interesting stories currently in the news with ramifications for your team’s productivity.
1. Why you feel busy all the time even if you’re not – and how it hurts performance
This fascinating piece from the BBC points out that even though we all feel far more harried and busy than we used to, the total amount of time that people spend working (paid or not paid) hasn’t increased in North America or Europe in decades. And not only that but data says that the people who say they’re the busiest actually aren’t. Part of the reason for that is the kind of work we’re more likely to be doing these days: “knowledge work” means that “there are always more incoming emails, more meetings, more things to read, more ideas to follow up – and digital mobile technology means you can easily crank through a few more to-do list items at home, or on holiday, or at the gym. The result, inevitably, is feeling overwhelmed: we’re each finite human beings, with finite energy and abilities, attempting to get through an infinite amount.” And ironically, feeling busy leads to worse performance – when you feel rushed, you’re more likely to prioritize wrong or take on things you can’t handle.
Perhaps the culprit of feeling overwhelmed is inefficient processes? Are manual processes eating away at your time and your company’s bottom line? Check out the Process Improvement Playbook: Overcoming Manual Processes in the Workplace.
2. The more you advance in your career, the harder it is to get real feedback
The more you advance in your career, writes Emily Triplett Lentz for the Daily Muse, the harder it becomes to identify and act on your professional weaknesses. People tend to assume their past success is due to the way they are and how they operate, not in spite of it, and so they can lose sight of their shortcomings. That makes it all the more important to solicit honest feedback as you move up the ladder, asking people to help you see what your “derailers” might be. But of course, as you move up the ladder, people may get more resistant to giving you candid feedback. Triplett Lentz suggests combatting that by asking the right questions (asking “What weaknesses am I oblivious to?” won’t get you as helpful answers as “What’s one thing I could be doing differently on a day-to-day basis that would improve communication?” will); asking for advice rather than feedback; only letting yourself say thank you when you get some (no defending or explaining yourself); and following up with real plans for change.
3. How one company is making remote work, work
Here’s a great piece from Heroku about how their company has made remote working work well for them. Sixty percent of Heroku’s employees are remote, and in some cases, time zone differences mean that staff members only have two hours of overlap. They’ve learned that some keys are avoiding meetings when chat would suffice (“in an office, it’s easier to go ahead and tap someone on the shoulder than tap out a series of messages on Slack but working remotely the opposite is true”); using an internal calendar that lets people define their working hours and “gives a stern notice to anyone trying to invite you to a midnight standup;” using “pairing sessions” to work through problems that are blocking people; and keeping everyone’s work in a central place that everyone can access at any time (the equivalent of glancing over at what your coworkers are working on).