Are You Worrying? Stress Management on the Job

scared-cat-free-clips

Worrying is a most unfortunate state, generally unproductive, tiring, and otherwise annoying. The human mind seems to have a special gift for generating worries. Thus, the whole field of stress management. A recent conversation with a client about new procedures in his business generated the following comment: “Now that I have these new processes in place I feel more relaxed.”
 
This made me sit right up. How had this happened? What stress management technique had he applied?((1)) Continue reading
Footnotes:
  1. Keep in mind that he did not start out to manage stress, rather improve customer service. The stress management came as a side effect. []

Perfection through Subtraction – The Little Prince

“Perfection is attained not when there is nothing more to add, rather when there is nothing more to subtract.”

Le Petit Prince book cover

Le Petit Prince book cover borrowed from GoodReads.com

Listening to an interview with an author about his writing process brought this wonderful quote from Saint-Exupery.((1))

Simple, clear, direct, user-friendly, straightforward, honest, classic, understated. These are some of the attributes that flow from thinking about your business with Saint-Euxupery’s aphorism in mind. In philosophy, science, and engineering Saint-Exupery’s aphorism is best expressed by Occam’s Razor where the razor shaves away the unnecessary assumptions.

Then, of course in the day-to-day world we have KISS – keep it simple stupid – that stands in for these more elegant formulations. The general lesson here is to beware of complex explanations, strategies, and plans.

Footnotes:
  1. He is the author of The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince if you got to third year French in high school), though the quote come from Terre des hommes []

Build on Strength – Drucker’s The Effective Executive – 5

In earlier posts in this series on Peter Drucker’s book The Effective Executive: the definitive guide to getting the right things done, we reviewed his list of basic practices:

Effective managers:

  • “….know where their time goes.” 
  • “….focus on outward contribution”
  • “….build on strengths….” 
  • “….concentrate on the few major areas where superior performance will produce outstanding results.”
  • “…. make effective decisions.”

Peter Drucker's The Effective ExecutiveThis posting is devoted to the third practice, build on strengths.((1))

The effective executive makes strength productive. He knows that one cannot build on weakness. To achieve results, one has to use all of the available strengths – the strengths of associates, the strengths of the superior, and one’s own strengths. These strengths are the true opportunities. To make strength productive is the unique purpose of organization. It cannot, of course, overcome the weaknesses with which each of us is abundantly endowed. But it can make them irrelevant. Its task is to use the strength of each man as a building block for joint performance.((2))

Enable Strengths and Make Weaknesses Inconsequential Continue reading

Footnotes:
  1. All quotes in this posting come from pages 71-99 in Peter Drucker The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done. Revised. Collins Business, 2006. []
  2. Note again the dated language from 45 years ago []

Performance, Contribution, Results, Commitment – Drucker’s The Effective Executive – 4

“To Focus on Contribution is to Focus on Effectiveness”

Peter Drucker's The Effective ExecutiveThis is the fourth in a series discussing the 1968 book by Peter Drucker, The Effective Executive: the definitive guide to getting the right things done. In this part we will focus on the third chapter, “What Can I Contribute?”

“The effective executive focuses on contribution. He looks up from his work and outward towards goals. He asks, “What can I contribute that will significantly affect the performance and results of the institution I serve?” His stress is on responsibility.”((1)) …..

“The man who focuses on efforts and who stresses his downward authority is a subordinate no matter how exalted his title and rank. But the man who focuses on contribution and who takes responsibility for results, no matter how junior, in in the most literal sense of the phrase, “top management”. He holds himself accountable for the performance of the whole.”

What Is Contribution?

Contribution refers to three areas critical to organizational success: Continue reading

Footnotes:
  1. all quotes in this posting come from pages 52 – 70 in Peter Drucker The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done. Revised. Collins Business, 2006. []

To-Do List – what makes some successful task managers

to-do-listEveryone has a to-do list. Even if you keep it in your head, everyone has one. I use a simple app on my iPhone that syncs with the same app on my iPad and on my desktop to manage my to-do list. This is a recent replacement for a technology I used for 30 years, 3×5 note cards (preferably un-ruled) that stuck out of my shirt pocket.

Regardless of the to-do list technology employed, I am sure that your to-do list is almost always longer than can be fulfilled and increasingly filled with “overdue” tasks. Mine is chronically creeping in that direction.

A recent article on Brain Pickings (BrainPickins.org) “A Brief History of the To-Do List and the Psychology of Its Success” by Maria Popova reviewed some recent research ((1)) ) that touches on two useful points. Continue reading

Footnotes:
  1. mostly focused on a chapter about to-do lists, the third chapter, titled “A Brief History of the To-Do List, From God to Drew Carey,” in Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength by John Tierney and Roy F. Baumeister []

Management Skills for the Effective Manager – Drucker’s The Effective Executive – 2

Peter Drucker's The Effective ExecutiveIn Peter Drucker’s The Effective Executive, he outlines eight management practices in the introduction that are the core skills of the effective manager:

  • They asked, “What needs to be done?”
  • They asked, “What is right for the enterprise?”
  • They developed action plans.
  • They took responsibility for decisions
  • They took responsibility for communicating
  • They focused on opportunities rather than problems.
  • They ran productive meetings.
  • They thought and said “we” rather than “I”.

But, before really getting to work on these he takes on some very interesting foundational issues. First, “… the executive is, first of all, expected to get the right things done. And this is simply that he is expected to be effective.”((1))  

What is effectiveness? Continue reading

Footnotes:
  1. All quotations in this posting are from pp. 1-24. Here is an early example of how the style, and many of the examples, in The Effective Executive are quite dated. The pronoun “she” never appears in the book. When he wrote the book in 1967, women in management were extraordinarily rare and their was only a nascent awareness that women could and should play a full role in our economic and social institutions []