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    Wednesday
    Jun282017

    REPRISE: You probably can only do one important thing each week

    I saw this piece, 'If you must hold a team meeting, schedule it during this one hour' on Inc. this morning and I thought, 'I should blog about that', followed by 'I am pretty sure I have already blogged about that.'

    And it turns out I had, kind of, a little more than a year ago when I deduced from various pieces like the one above from Inc. that attempt to give us advice as to the optimal time to schedule a job interview, important meeting, big contract negotitation, etc. Since in a year's time not much has changed it seems, and we all, still have a tiny window of prime productivity each week, instead of coming up with a new take on the issue, I will just re-run my piece from 2016 - You probably can only do one important thing each week.

    Enjoy.

    I caught this piece the other day on Business Insider - When to Schedule Your Job Interview, that quotes some research from Glassdoor from a few years back which indicates that all things being equal, the optimal time for a candidate to schedule a job interview is 10:30AM on Tuesday.

    Even without data to back up that claim, it at least makes intuitive sense to me. Mondays are terrible for everything. Many folks mentally check out by Fridays. That leaves Tuesday - Thursday as options for any kind of important meeting, like a job interview. Let's automatically remove anything after lunch, as you never know how a heavy meal, quick workout, or a couple of shots and a Schlitz are going to have on the interviewer.

    So that leaves Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings. Let's rule out Thursday since it is close enough to Friday to catch a little of the 'Is it the weekend yet?' shrapnel. Now we are in a tossup between Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. And since even by only Wednesday, lots of folks might already be thinking 'How can it only be Wednesday, this week is taking forever?', Tuesday seems like a safer choice. As for a time - use the Goldilocks approach - not too early, not too late (and too close to lunch), which lands you at 10:30AM

    As I said, it makes perfect sense, but it also sounded terribly familiar when I read the advice.

    I feel like i had heard some variations of the 'Tuesday at 10:30AM' advice before. 

    As it turns out, it is pretty common scheduling advice for other kinds of work/business events as well. This piece recommends scheduling important presentations for Tuesdays.  And this article also strongly suggests a combination of 'Tuesday' and 'late morning', (also known as 'Tuesday at 10:30AM), is an optimal time to conduct any type of negotiations.

    If I had more time, and I wasn't staring down the weekend myself, I would do some more searching and I am pretty sure I'd find a bunch more examples of how Tuesday mornings are the best time to do anything important at work. So Tuesdays at 10:30AM it is.

    Which is good to know and sort of sad at the same time. We work ALL OF THE TIME. We are chained to our email 24/7 with our 'smart' phones. We are (mostly), evaluated and assessed by our success in the workplace.

    And yet there is only one 'good' time each week to do anything important. 

    Tuesday at 10:30AM.

    It's only Wednesday right now, so you have a couple of days to plan your attack for next week's sliver of time where you can actually do something important. 

    Don't blow it. It won't come around again for an entire week if you do.

    Have a great day!

    Monday
    Jun262017

    Get Lucky

    This weekend, a decent, reasonably warm beginning of summer weekend in Western NY, while in the car on my way to either the gym or the gun club or my volunteer work with the homeless, 2013's song of the summer, Daft Punk's 'Get Lucky' came on the radio.

    You have to remember 'Get Lucky'. It was peppy, infectious, ubiquitous on the radio and on play lists just a few year's ago. The perfect summer song, probably. For some reason after hearing the song again, and for the first time in a while, I thought about a profile/interview of the guys in Daft Punk, (hardly anyone knows their real names, so I won't bother with them here), that ran in GQ, right around the time when 'Get Lucky' was on high rotation.

    If you don't know much about Daft Punk, you probably know at least this - 'Get Lucky' was their biggest commercial hit, and that Daft Punk are the guys who wear the robot helmets, and have almost never been photographed without them (see pic on right).

    The reasons for the helmets, disguises if you will, are as inscrutable as the performers themselves, but probably are not too hard to at least guess at.

    By wearing the helmets the Daft Punk guys get to concentrate on the art, not some kind of curated image, (actually it is a curated image, it's just one they define and control 100%), and also get to enjoy life outside of Daft Punk and the helmets as more or less 'normal' people. For international pop stars, the ability to walk down a street in New York or Paris or anywhere else and not be bothered by selfie-seeking fans has to be pretty valuable.

    But back to the reason why I thougth about this and wanted to write about a four year-old song and interview.

    In the GQ piece, the writer tries to learn more about how some of the songs on Daft Punk's new album were put together. Specifically, he asks which of the two Daft Punkians were responsible for a particular robot voice sound effect that is present on much of the material, as the effect stands out quite a bit.

    The answer from Daft Punk?

    "It doesn't matter.

    Love that answer. The two guys in Daft Punk have their partnership and process down so much, and are so comfortable with each other's position that they don't need to claim ownership of any particular aspect of the creation. 

    Can you imagine McCartney or Lennon answering a similar question about 'Hey Jude' the same way?

    If you are really, truly, going to have a successful partnership or a team, one that can withstand all the ups and downs that naturally are going to test you, I think the Daft Punk position of 'It doesn't matter who did what, just listen to the result" might be the most important and telling condition for that kind of success.

    If the robot on the left was interested in tying to make sure he got the credit and the acclaim for every element that he specifically contributed to the results, then you don't really have Daft Punk any longer. 

    You have two guys dressed in robot costumes.

    What's the song of summer 2017? 

    Have a great week!

    Friday
    Jun232017

    UPDATE: Ways to describe a basketball player's talent, ranked

    NOTE: Ran a version of this post 2 years ago the day after the 2015 NBA Draft, the draft were my New York Knicks did indeed select the 'Unicorn' Kristaps Porzingis in the first round. Fast forward two years later and these same Knicks apparently are flirting with the idea of trading the Unicorn, who is quite literally the only player worth watching on what has become a terrible team. If they do indeed decide to trade Porzingis, I want to make it publicly known that I am no longer a Knicks fan, and will be in search of a new team to support.

    Having said all that, let's take another look at the many ways that the NBA analysts and pundits have come up with to describe a basketball player's skills and talents. Did you think 'fast', 'tall', or 'can jump high?' were good enough? Oh no, my naive friend.

    After watching about 5 hours of draft coverage, (and pre-draft and post-draft shows), I offer up ways to describe basketball talent, ranked, and as always, these are unscientific, unresearched, and 100% correct.

    Here goes...

    15. Floor spacer

    14. Efficient

    13. Switch-capable

    12. Rim-runner

    11. Twitchy

    10. Bouncy

    9. Wingspan

    8. Fluid

    7. Motor

    6. Elite-level athleticism

    5. Second jumpability

    4. High ceiling

    3. Grit

    2. High basketball IQ

    1. Tremendous upside

    As always, you can disagree with these rankings, but of course you would be wrong.

    Have a great weekend!

    Thursday
    Jun222017

    HRE Column: An HR Technology Conference Preview #HRTechConf

    Once again, I offer my semi-frequent reminder and pointer for blog readers that I also write a monthly column at Human Resource Executive Online called Inside HR Tech that can be found here.

    This month, as I have been wrapping up the program development for the upcoming HR Technology Conference that will be held at in October, I take a look at some of the more interesting trends and themes in HR tech that have emerged from reviewing about 450 proposals and talking with dozens of HR leaders and technology service providers. These issues demand continuing focus for HR leaders and the spotlight will be placed on them at the Conference this fall.

    So in this month's HR Executive column I examine a a few of these technologies and trends that are continuing to be top of mind for HR leaders and HRIT leaders and that will be on display at the Conference in October. There are of course a few other themes and trends that are important, but I could not fit them all into the HRE piece. I will probably touch upon some of them in next month's column.

    I am super excited of what is in store at the event and plan to share as many of the big ideas that will be showcased there in the next few months both at HRE and here on the blog as well as the HR Happy Hour Show.

    Here's a taste of the HRE piece:

    As I write this article, I'm in the process of putting the finishing touches on the program for the 20th Annual HR Technology Conference & Exposition®, which will be held from Oct. 10 through Oct. 13, 2017 at the Venetian Las Vegas. Creating the program for the HR Tech Conference is always a challenging but rewarding process, as working through literally hundreds of speaking proposals, participating in dozens of phone calls, and attending numerous events and conferences provides me with a valuable, interesting and, I think, unique perspective on the most pressing HR, HR technology and workforce challenges facing organizations today.

    Looking back on my five years working on the conference, and a little bit further back to the conference's founding 20 years ago, I can't help but notice the incredible change and innovation that's taken place. The power and promise of HR technology have never been greater.

    I've written before that we have entered the "Golden Age" of HR technology, with the capability, availability and affordability of HR technology solutions advancing in unison. Innovative start-ups, large enterprise providers continuing to improve their technologies, and the pressures of increased competition have all combined to create new and better tools for HR and organizational leaders. Nowhere is this "Golden Age" more completely on display than at the HR Tech Conference.

    Specifically, I'd like to focus here on three important HR technology areas and how they will be addressed at this year's event.

    Employee Engagement

    Consistently, or perhaps persistently, aggregate employee-engagement levels or scores have hovered at around "30 percent engaged" for years. The stubbornness of the engagement problem is surprising, given the time spent and investments made (largely in the form of annual employee surveys and subsequent analysis of survey results) to better understand and successfully address the employee-engagement problem. Despite these investments, it seems as if HR often falls short of the mark. Something has to give.

    Fortunately, in the past several years, two things have happened in concert that offer renewed promise that the employee-engagement conundrum can actually be cracked. The first is that progressive HR leaders have begun to think about the engagement challenge more broadly, moving past singular scores or levels on an engagement survey and framing the conversation around the overall employee experience.

    The employee experience encompasses all the interactions between the employee and the organization. By assessing and evaluating the touchpoints of the employee experience (including those occurring in recruiting, onboarding, training, benefits and compensation), HR leaders can identify targeted opportunities for improvement, and make sure that HR interventions and investments can actually positively impact the employee experience -- eventually driving greater engagement.

    Naturally, when HR and organizational leaders identify a new area of focus, such as the employee experience, new and innovative technologies are developed to help. Many of these, of course, will be showcased at this year's HR Tech Conference.

    The employee experience will be explored at the conference in several ways. First, there will be a panel, moderated by employee-engagement expert Jason Lauritsen, featuring executives from some of the leading solution providers in diverse areas such as wellness/well-being, performance and talent management, total compensation and rewards, and employee feedback and recognition. They will address the fundamental question, "Can HR technology drive improved employee engagement?" This conversation will be an important one, as it will set the stage for additional content and discussions about how specific technologies and strategies are impacting engagement in today's organization. 

    Read the rest at HRE Online...

    If you liked the piece you can sign up over at HRE to get the Inside HR Tech Column emailed to you each month. There is no cost to subscribe, in fact, I may even come over and re-surface your driveway, take your dog for a walk, or help you weed the garden.

    Finally, I hope to see many readers out at HR Tech this October. You can save $200 off the current registration rates when you sign up HERE use offer code STEVE200. See, I am looking out for you!

    Tuesday
    Jun202017

    Life at 2.0x Speed

    I was talking to some folks I met recently at an event about the HR Happy Hour Show, and the cool things that are happening there with the other HR Happy Hour Network Shows, (I admit to talking about this a lot. I'm sorry). During the conversation, one of the persons at the table indicated that she would love to listen to more podcasts, but she (like many of us, I suppose), felt like she just didn't have enough time in her day/week to fit them in. With work, family, friends, community involvement, etc, spending a couple of hours a week listening to all the great podcasts that people tell her about just seems not doable for her right now.

    At that point another person who was sort of half-participating in the conversation chimed in that he had the same challenge finding time for podcasts too, but he's 'solved' it by now listening to his favorite podcasts at 1.5x or sometimes even 2.0x speed. For those who don't listen to podcasts regularly, or who just may not be familiar with the speed adjustment feature of podcast apps, all of them allow you to increase the speed of the podcast stream to 1.5x or even 2.0x the normal speaking rate. So at 1.5x speed, a 30 minute podcast could be listened to in 20 minutes. At 2.0x you could cover it in 15. It just speeds up everything you hear. It is kind of like the old speed reading craze, except with audio.

    But, and this could be just a personal issue for me, listening at 1.5x or 2.0x speed is really unsettling. The podcast hosts and guests all seem really amped up on six cups of coffee, everything about the conversation feels nervous, and listening to people talk that fast for that long, never taking what would seem to be natural pauses or breaths is just really off-putting. But technically you can listen that fast if you, as our friend above, are so pressed for time that turning 30 minutes into 20 is important in your day/life. But I still think you shouldn't do it. It's too weird.

    Why do I care about this enough to blog about it?

    I probably shouldn't care, but I have thought about that conversation and mister 'I listen at 2.0x' guy a few times since it happened a couple of weeks ago. And I kind of felt bad, (and a little guilty too).

    Bad for a guy who is just a representative of our hyper-focused, productivity over all, 24/7, 'more-more-more', professional climate that seems to value doing as much productive work as possible at all times. And in this instance, turning the concept of time itself into something that can be bent to the gods of productivity.

    And guilty for the fact that I don't speed up the listen rate when I play back podcasts, I do, often, find myself trying to make people get to the point faster, cut to the chase in emails, and text me instead of calling me - lest an interaction that can be reduced to 16 seconds actually take 3 minutes.

    I don't speed up my podcasts, but too often I (try) and speed up lots of other things. And that is probably as unsettling as listening to sportswriters talk about the NBA draft at double speed.

    NOTE: I spent 28 minutes writing this post. With any luck, next time I can get it down to 21.