Being Effective – Not Busy!

Over worked!

Here are some interesting pieces from The Standard, a Hong Kong newspaper, reporting on a seminar for corporate executives held there last week.

“We believe long working hours are a sign of loss of productivity and efficiency,” said Ambrose Linn, Hong Kong manager at Dutch mail company TNT, which enforces a maximum 48-hour week on its employees with no more than 12 hours’ overtime.

. . . a survey by local non-profit organization Community Business found that employees work an average 51 hours a week – 25 percent higher than the maximum working hours set by the International Labour Organization. A third of respondents said their productivity was being affected by long hours while 31 percent said long hours were causing health problems.

“Senior management has to change its mind-set, especially with the new graduates coming out of university. They don’t want to work 60 hours a week, and companies won’t attract the talent,” Shalini Thakur, associate director of diversity at investment bank UBS, told the seminar.

BP says it has stopped making it mandatory for senior management to be supplied with smart phones and e-mail devices because constantly checking and responding to messages goes against the company’s philosophy of promoting work-life balance.


Does this sound familiar?

What about reflecting on these obvious – but frequently overlooked questions:

  • Do we have enough people to do the work required?
  • Do they all know, clearly, what they are expected to do?
  • Do they have the time, the tools, and the skills to do it?
  • Are they rewarded enough to make what they do seem attractive?
  • Do they enjoy what they do and give it their best efforts?
  • Are the working conditions suitable to a civilized community?

 High performing organisations focus on maximizing effectiveness in a pretty fixed working week.  They know that regular long hours, fire-fighting, lack of focus and attention are all symptoms of bad management.  And the only thing that you can manage is you!

By improving the way you delegate and prioritise it is always possible to start getting back to something more like a 40 hour productive and efficient week.

Pepper’s 5 Leadership Lessons

I was reading a great post on the Leading Blog about 5 lessons that the outgoing CEO of Proctor and Gamble, John Pepper had distilled from his career.  I won’t recount the details in full, but in essence they are:

  1. accountability for creating leadership results – attracting winners to the business who then feed of each other
  2. seeking input from others without losing direction
  3. leadership is personal and intimate.  It is about being true to your own passions.  It is about influence through trust not control through power.
  4. positive authentic feedback and honest communication builds respect and trust.  Respect and trust provide the foundation for outstanding leadership and team performance
  5. convey trust and high expectations regularly

Weekly 121s are the best tool that I have found to help managers and leaders to develop and apply these lessons.

121s and Reducing Interruptions

 If you have recently been to one of the PMN training sessions on introducing 121s you will know that I reckon by committing to weekly 121s with all direct reports you will actually save time.  I amsure this is the case from my own observations and reports from people that have tried them.  But if you are the kind of person that needs more data to be sure then have a look at these two blog posts here and here from the wonderful Slow Leadership blog

Building An Outstanding Organisation

This post was inspired by something Tom Peters’ wrote in his blog.

“In business, you reward people for taking risks. When it doesn’t work out, you promote them because they were willing to try new things. If people come back and tell me they skied all day and never fell down, I tell them to try a different mountain.”

Mike Bloomberg – Mayor of New York City

Steps to being outstanding?

  1. find something useful that turns people on – a cause that is worth working on
  2. give people a lot of room to try their own ideas and plans in pursuit of the cause
  3. offer them the respect they deserve for participating in the cause with commitment and determination
  4. provide the most powerful relationship that you can to support their development (121s, feedback and coaching…)

By nurturing passion for the cause, and enabling people to try things, the journey to high performance can begin.

It takes courage and excellent management skills – but it works – in for profits, non profit distributing and third sector organisations.

Not sure the recipe can get any simpler?

Reasons and Excuses; Organisations and Individuals

Seth Godin writes:

Most organizations need a good reason to do something new.


All they need is a flimsy excuse to not do something for the first time.


And they often need a lawsuit to stop doing something they’re used to.

How does this translate to individual managers? My guess would be pretty much the same. Perhaps:

Most managers need a good reason to do something new.


All they need is a flimsy excuse to not do something for the first time.


And they often need an appraisal or a disciplinary to stop doing something they’re used to.

What could you change about the way you manage that might have the largest impact on performance?

What stops you?

What would it take for you to make the change?

REMEMBER: No-one rises to meet low expectations

This is great reminder for Progressive Managers. Set expectations high and there is a good chance that with some support your team will rise to meet them. Provide feedback, coaching and a strong management relationship using 121s and you will be amazed at what people can grow into.

You can read more here.

What do Virgin Vie, CAB, The Insurance Partnership and Goodwin DT Have in Common?

Well on the basis of the first PMN event in Hull – much more than you might expect. Managers fighting against time pressures, resource constraints and the challenges of developing and inspiring staff were certainly common themes across all 25 people who attended the first PMN events in Hull – the vast majority of whom have decided that they are now going to incorporate the practice of 121s into their management routines.

The first piece of feedback in my inbox from one of the managers reads:

‘I found the session very useful. I often run around in circles and work ever increasing hours (hence I’m replying to your mail at 07.30! lol) I really believe these 1-2-1s will help me as I know my weakness is not delegating through getting stuck in the vicious circle of ‘its quicker to do it myself’. Looking forward to the other sessions.’

There are still some free places available for workshops on June 26th in Leeds. Please reserve your place here.

check out our new 2 minute promo video…

our freind David Israel

all you need to know about PMN in 2 minutes flat from David our host here in Leeds 🙂

The Essence of Competitiveness?

“The essence of competitiveness is liberated when we make people believe that what they think and do is important – and then get out of their way while they do it.”

Jack Welch – Retired CEO of General Electric


“The power of passion is liberated, and results achieved, when we help people to know that what they think and do is important – and then get out of their way while they do it.”

Mike Chitty

People know ‘what they think and do is important’ when it contributes to their success – however they may define it.

How much time do you spend as a manager working with people in your team understanding what matters to them and helping them to connect it with what ‘they think and do at work’?

Great managers help their people to continually develop and refine this narrative – keeping the passion alive – and delivering great results.


To laugh often and much;

To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;

To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;

To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;

To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition;

To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Britain Has Got Talent…and the Professional Development of the Progressive Manager

Well the Apprentice is over for another year.

What TV does the Progressive Manager watch now in the name of professional development?

Try Britain Has Got Talent. Not usually my cup of tea – but watch Paul Potts singing Nessun Dorma.

Notice the body language of the judges as they:

  1. Find out that a car phone salesman is going to sing them opera (This is going to be bad…)
  2. Hear the opening bars of a recording of Nessun Dorma (How bad is this going to be…)
  3. Hear the beauty that comes out in this man’s voice.

If you have ever had any doubts about the importance of reading facial expressions and body language and how it speaks volumes just take 4 minutes to watch this video.

There are so many lessons in this clip alone around passion, talent, self confidence, opportunity and risk taking. Watch it – on the company’s time – and learn.

Are you doing ‘what you were born to do’?