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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Secret to Improved Productivity: 3 Daily Tasks

The Secret to Improved Productivity: 3 Daily Tasks

“Is your day by default or by design?” J.D. Meier
Imagine if you wrote three things on a post-it note each morning, and allowed these three things to shape the rest of your working day. All emails, calls, meetings now take second place to these three things. Your time, energy and focus are dedicated to achieving these three tasks. Each evening, when you finish up for the day, you happily cross off each of the three tasks, and then write a new list for the next morning.
Not only are there three things to achieve each day, but this expands into a list of three things for each week, each month, each year.
And by approaching our tasks in this way we use our time, energy and focus to consistently work towards achieving our personal and professional goals.

Getting Results the Agile Way

This is the core concept behind the best selling book, Getting Results the Agile Way written by J.D. Meier, Director of Digital Transformation at Microsoft.
In his own words, “Results was the name of the game, and I didn’t have the playbook. When I first joined Microsoft more than 10 years ago, I was overwhelmed… However, I hadn’t moved across the country, leaving everything and everyone I knew behind, to fail right off the bat. One of the first things I did to survive was study the best of the best. I found people in the company that got results, and I learned from them”.
The concept is simple and explained clearly in the Manifesto for Agile Results:
  • Meaningful results over just doing tasks.
  • Fresh starts and clean slates over burdens and baggages.
  • Flexible results in an ever-changing world.
  • A bias for action over heavy planning.
  • Boundaries and balance over burnout.
  • Scenario-driven results over just doing “stuff.”
Not only is there a best selling book, but the ‘Getting Results the Agile Way’ website is an excellent starting point and has a wide range of resources, including the ‘30 Days of Getting Results’ series which has an individual lesson for each day of your first 30 days. It’s well worth checking out.
At this stage you might ask, “What’s the difference between this approach and all the other methods?” and this is answered in the introduction from Michael Kropp, GM Microsoft Dynamics.
The answer is that this approach is agile and has “adaptability built into the entire framework, so you’ll be able to factor in and manage changes when they happen instead of them managing you”.
You don’t need to be working in software development to reap the rewards of using agile concepts to pursue your personal and professional goals.

Two More Steps

After the 3 Daily Tasks, you can do two more weekly steps called (1) Monday Vision, Daily Outcomes, Friday reflection pattern and (2) Life Hot Spots.

Monday Vision

Identify the three most important things that you have to get done before Friday evening. This will be difficult at first as right now you probably feel that everything is urgent. There could be a trial and error phase.  As Meier says, “test everything”.
If you are consistently failing to tick these three things off each Friday, it’s time to reassess. Try choosing smaller tasks to achieve by Friday, or pick different tasks. Keep testing until you find out what works. If you achieve all of your three tasks before Friday, well that’s great! And then you have room on your plate to take on something else.
Daily Outcomes
Each morning take a little time to reflect and consider this question: “What will be my three best results for today?”
Friday Reflections
Each Friday morning, start by asking yourself, “What are three things going well?” and “What are three things to improve?”.  Each week you can learn more about your capacity and bottlenecks, and bring that information with you to the following week.

Life Hot Spots

‘Hot Spots’ reflect what is going on in your life besides work. Some examples are relationships, mind, body, emotions, financial, fun etc. The approach here is to carve out time to spend on some of these elements each week.
To do this, pick a selection of hotspots, it doesn’t have to be every single one. You’ll probably take on more than you can handle. Next, set a maximum time limit for those things that have a tendency to take up all of your time e.g. your career. This ensures that you have a cut-off point. And then set a minimum time limit for other areas that you tend to neglect e.g. fun. By setting a minimum time limit this ensures that you dedicate at least a certain amount of time to these hot spots

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Perks Please! 12 Freebies to Motivate Your Team

Perks Please! 12 Freebies to Motivate Your Team

It’s a competitive world out there when it comes to recruiting the right employee, which is why so many tech companies offer enticing benefits or perks to sweeten the deal, and motivate and retain skilled people.
Of course these benefits also contribute to employees’ feelgood factor, and helps motivate them.
A recent survey by Glassdoor showed 80% of employees want extra benefits or perks more than a salary increase, and top of the wish list is health insurance cover. Glassdoor has also listed the 20 best perks by companies from Google to Airbnb. To give you a flavor here are the main ones listed under three main categories:
Time off:
  • Salesforce: six days of paid volunteer time off a year. Use all six and they’ll give a $1,000 grant to  a charity of your choice
  • Epic Systems: a four-week sabbatical to pursue your creative side after five years service
  • REI: two paid days off a year for employees to enjoy their favorite outside activity
Maternity/paternity benefits
  • Netflix: one paid year of maternity and paternity leave to new parents
  • Spotify: six months of paid parental leave, and one month of flexible work options for parents returning to the office. It also pays for egg freezing and fertility assistance
  • Pinterest: four months paid leave, plus a month of part-time hours, and two counselling sessions to help plan re-entry to work
  • Facebook:  $4,000 in ‘baby cash’ to employees with newborns.
  • Airbnb: $2,000 allowance to travel and stay in Airbnb listing anywhere in the world
  • Burton: offers season ski passes and ‘snow days’ off when there’s a big snowfall
  • Disney: Free admission to parks for employees, their friends and family. Discounts on hotels and merchandise
Google has one standout benefit, but you won’t be around to enjoy it – they provide half salary for 10 years to the partner of deceased employees. They also offer $1,000 for each dependent child up to age 19, or 23 if in college.
12 practical and unusual perks
Not bad, I hear you say. Well, here are 12 other freebies to whet your appetite, and perhaps make you consider applying for a new job.
  1. At Red Frog Event Company anyone working for five years is given a four-week paid trip to Africa, Asia, Europe or South America for themselves and a friend.
  1. InDemand Interpreting offers a ‘Box Lunch’ to employees who achieve an extraordinary performance. It means they get the keys to the CEO’s Porsche Boxster, and can drive themselves to a company paid lunch.
  1. 2HB provides a $50 grooming allowance each month 
  1.  Timberland and Bank of America offer $3,000 towards a hybrid, natural gas or electric car.
  1. SC Johnson & Son and a few others offer a free concierge service, so you don’t have to take your dirty clothes to the laundry or waste time shopping.
  1.  Scripps Health is one of several companies to offer free pet insurance.
  1. Starbucks offers free college tuition reimbursement, although there are some conditions.
  1. California-based Patagonia invites employees to take midday surf breaks, and being an outdoor clothing and equipment firm, has its own volleyball courts, and on-site yoga.
  1. Cisco has on-site health centres where you can see a doctor, optician or physical therapist free.
  1. Campbell Soup’s HQ in New Jersey has an onsite family center, complete with kindergarten and day care center.
  1. Huddle offers a $6,500 ‘Huddle Cuddle’ bonus for new employees, and $650 yearly afterwards.
  1. Health insurer Aetna has a rather unusual perk: they pay you to sleep. Yep, take a minimum seven hours nightly for 20 consecutive nights while wearing a fitness tracker, and they’ll give you $20 nightly thereafter, up to a maximum of $500 annually.
Here at we have a multititude of perks, from subsidised gym membership, to conference allowances for all employees, profit sharing, free snacks and drinks, six weeks vacation after a year’s service and a games room.
I did a quick survey of staff across all departments here and the overall best perk was not any of the above, but our flexible working hours, proving yet again that money isn’t everything. Just for the record, it’s my favorite too.
A good salary is great, but everyone wants a little something extra. The more you offer the better, but financial bonuses aren’t everything. Most people want either more time for themselves and their families, or practical things like free weekends or vacations.

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