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Word of Advice

  • Be specific
    A business leader told his people they should not worry about details too much and think about and focus on strategic things. They all nodded. I asked them what he meant and they all looked down, they did not know. The word “strategic” for him may mean something very concrete but others do not know that since they are not him. So be as specific as you can about what you mean and then other people will understand you better.
  • Specific feedback
    To be effective, positive feedback to colleagues has to be quite specific. So, in addition to saying "thank you for a great job yesterday", specify what you mean with, like "thank you for writing the report so well yesterday and delivering it on time".
  • Natural feedback
    When a child shows you a drawing, it is natural and intuitive to give feedback. "Wow" we say, "what a nice landscape you have drawn. I can see the sun, trees and mountains there, it is really nice". And we do it right there and then, we do not wait for a week. But how well are we doing this in the office? Usually we are not giving feedback as naturally there since we think we do not have time or we think it is not needed. But adults are just like big children - we all need feedback so we should give more of it!
  • Business culture
    In a company a characteristic sign of a business culture for top performance is that its brand is built through the company people more than through PR and marketing. When you meet people outside working hours like at a party, social function or sports club and they ask you where you work and you tell them and they ask how is it, what do you say? Your answer is how you contribute to the buildup of your company’s brand and culture.
  • Avoiding disappointment
    Disappointment is usually a function of your expectations that fail to materialize. If you go to a dentist expecting him to find no cavities and he finds one or more you are disappointed. If you expect him to find two and he finds one you are happy. One way to avoid disappointment is therefore to adjust expectations. This does not mean that you should always expect a bad result. It means you have to have a more open mind and allow more flexibility in your expectations so whatever the outcome is you are prepared to accept and deal with it without much disappointment.
  • Meeting lengths
    Have you ever been to a business meeting where you ended up having way too much time? It rarely happens, if at all, and it shows that we tend to use up whatever meeting time we have available even if this is not very efficient. This means we tend to have much longer meetings than necessary and we just do not notice. With that in mind, try cutting down on meeting length, say from 60 minutes to 50 minutes, from 30 minute to 20 minutes and so on and see what happens.
  • Shorter meetings
    If you cut back on meeting time, you may find out that people tend to come to these meetings better prepared. The shorter the time the more to the point one must be. Therefore try cutting down on meeting time and see how much more your people and yourself can accomplish in less time.
  • Reached your potential?
    Have you reached your professional potential? Few people I asked this question answered yes, but not too many either had a clear idea about how they will continue to improve. Even fewer had a specific plan. What about you? What more will you learn, when will you learn it and how will you learn it? And how will you know that you will have learned it? Build a small plan for your learning – it will be a good investment of your time.
  • Keep it simple
    We hear it quite often people saying: “keep it simple”. Sounds very smart, doesn’t it, to keep things as simple as possible. But how simple is it to keep things simple and how good are you at doing that? Take the coming working day: what are the tasks ahead of you, and what specifically and how can you make them simpler?
  • Chinese whispers
    Did you play “Chinese whispers” in school? One person is told something, usually a small story, and is asked to whisper what he was told to the next person, the next person whisper it to the next person and so on. After the whisper has been passed through 10 people, the last person tells the story how he heard it and then the story is compared to the original one. Usually the story has changed – a lot. This is a fun game and one business people should play also. When you do you will learn that there is only one way to make sure you really get what people tell you: to take notes when you listen to someone and write the story down exactly the way it is told, not the way you think it is told.
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