Monthly Archive for April, 2006

Do You Want To Lose Your Commute?

It’s the rare bird among us who doesn’t from time to time daydream about working from an office at home. No more time lost to commuting through traffic jams or rushing to claim a seat on the commuter train. The office is just a few steps down the hall from the bedroom. Dress is a sweater or comfortable top with slacks. No more ties or high heels. Better balance between work and family. A power lunch is a sandwich at the kitchen table while catching up on the noontime TV news.

Well, a growing army of men and women are acting on the dream. A recent survey by the Telework American Council showed that 23.5 million of us are currently telework or work outside the office. That number is up by 40 percent from 2001. It is estimated that over one-half of U.S. companies now have some sort of telecommuting arrangement with their employees.
In addition, there are 23.4 million self-employed teleworkers.
Google provides other indicators of the degree of interest. There are 31,100,000 websites on the subject of “work at home.” There are 8,530,000 sites for “telecommuting.”

You Can Do It, Too
You, too, can lose your commute. You can locate a job with a company that will let you work at home at least a few days each week. Or you can start a home business.
Beware! There are a lot of hype artists (“scammers” would be a more accurate description) on the Internet raking in a lot of money by advertising get-rich-quick schemes for working at home. Here’s a fairly typical one:

“Follow 5 Easy Steps To Turn Your Website Into A Money Machine 24/365…No Experience Necessary!”

Another one promises $3,500 to $7,000 per week from a home-based business. No selling! No meetings! No pressure! Start making money around the clock.

Recommendation For A Reliable Source
At the same time, I have found at least one reliable source of information about how to locate and succeed at a telecommuting position. It’s titled: “Lose Your Commute…Find A Flexible Job and Live A More Balanced Life” by Phil Montero.

Actually, it’s a package of spot-on information. There’s a 258 pages E-Book which covers the subject from A to Z. How to locate and land a telecommuting job, how to set up an office at home, how to develop the required skills, what you might earn, the opportunities and the pitfalls. The package includes five bonuses:

1. Audio Seminar–The Work At Home Workshop
2. Networking E-Book
3. Job Search Tracker
4. E-Mail Resume Template
5. The Commuters Calculator

“Lose Your Commute…Find A Flexible Job and Live A More Balanced Life” earns a four start rating. If you want to explore the opportunities in telecommuting you would do well to take a look at this package. For the full story about this vital information click on this link:
http://www.kickstartcart.com/app/aftrack.asp?afid=356743
I’ll cover “starting a home business” in another issue of The Career Accelerator.

Conflicts With The Boss Are Inevitable But Healthy

If you are a pro-active, get-things-done manager, sooner or later you will come in conflict with your boss. The same sort of assertiveness and confidence that leads you to have a mind of your own has helped him to earn his position.

Another reality is that if you do not have some periodic disagreements with your supervisors you are probably not being as assertive as you should be in moving your career ahead.

These conflicts can prove to be hazardous to the health of your career if they are not handled with common sense.

No one enjoys conflict, especially with the boss. But when you have an honest difference of opinion, it is better to pay the price of discomfort and take the risk of some penalty than to bottle up the frustration and nagging conscience that results from not meeting what you see as your responsibilities.

Knowing you will have conflicts, you can be prepared to handle them so there are no individual losers.

TURN CONFLICTS TO ADVANTAGES

There are nine steps you can take to lessen the damage that can result from conflicts with your boss. In fact, you can turn these conflicts to your advantage.

1.The first step is to concisely define the issue– preferably in writing– so that you have a clear understanding as to what the controversy is all about. Determine how important it is to the parties involved and to the organization.

If it is not truly important beyond your personal feelings, forget it. Save your energies for another time when the stakes are significant.

2. Give full consideration to the points of view of all parties concerned, especially the boss. His responsibilities are different than yours. He may have a legitimate reason for his opinion, which you are not aware of at the moment. The conflict you see may disappear with an explanation.

3. Weigh your reasons and objectives against the good of the organization. Before you ³go to the mat² on an issue, be sure you are motivated by what you believe to be the larger interest and not just your own narrowly defined agenda.

4. Ask for a face-to-face discussion with your boss if, after due consideration, you still feel the difference is worth pursuing. If the matter is not resolved with a meeting, ask permission to leave a written explanation with your boss for his further consideration.

5. Never push your boss into a corner where he has no room for compromise. Do not air the conflict with your boss in the presence of others.

6. Avoid letting the matter be positioned on a personal basis. Emotions and personalities have no place in a confrontation with the boss.

7. Be tactful. Show respect for the boss¹s position and responsibilities. Whatever the outcome of your differences with him, he is still your boss.

8. Keep the matter in perspective. It is good to remember that win, lose or draw, it is a rare situation when the resolution of an issue results in a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow or the world coming to an end.

9. Don¹t pin a medal on your chest if you prevail or wear the black of mourning if the decision goes the other way. Get on with the job. If you have been heard and the boss still doesn¹t agree, be a good trooper, support his decision, openly and aggressively. If the outlook is contrary to your basic values look for another job.

If you can¹t discuss the inevitable conflicts with your boss in a free and open manner so as to arrive at acceptable resolutions, or if such disagreements are so frequent and painful that your life and career are being disrupted, recognize you have a problem larger than any single issue.
It may be that you are at odds with the standards and objectives of the boss or the organization. Or the personal chemistry between you and your boss may be out of balance.

If you can¹t resolve the conflicts or live with them, locate another opportunity. Life is too short to exist in a world of turmoil and confrontations.

* * * * * * *
YOU HAVE TO MANAGE YOUR YOUR BOSS TO SUCCEED

This blog posting is an excerpt from an E-Book I am writing on this vital subject. The truth is everybody has a boss, like it or not. That person may be an enabler for your career success. Or he or she may be a roadblock–difficult, insecure, even half crazy. In any case, he or she is still boss, the gatekeeper of your progress. So you have know how to manage the boss-relationship if you are going to make progress.

My new E-Book will provide the guide you need to manage the boss relationship to your advantage. I guarantee that my book will help you. It will be available in late May of this year.

Warning! Meeting In Progress

There ought to be a sign posted on every closed office and conference room door that reads: Warning! Meeting In Progress! May Be Hazardous To Your Career.

Because most meetings burn up a lot of resources that could be spent on useful purposes. These sessions are either not necessary, or they are so poorly organized and conducted that they achieve only a fraction of their purpose.

You¹d think any thing that dangerous would be drastically reduced if not eradicated. Not so, the number of meetings appears to be proliferating.

How Much Are Meetings Costing Your Company?

How much of a problem are meetings for you and your employer?

Is the time spent in meetings causing you to be late in turning out your work? Are you going in at night and on weekends to make up for time spent at meetings?

Are meetings worth what they are costing your company?

One company mounted a large digital meter in its conference room. The total cost per hour for each person (salary and benefits) attending a meeting was fed into a computer, which in turn, divided the sum into cost per minute. The device was activated when more than one person arrived for the meeting and was shut off when the last person left the room. The total dollar cost of the meeting was added up, minute by minute, on a screen for all to see. The number and length of meetings were soon sharply reduced.

You can make the same calculation for your firm with a scratch pad and pencil. I guarantee you will be surprised at the cost.

The Reasons Meetings Fall Short

Meetings fail or fall short of their objective for a variety of reasons.

The most frequent cause is that no one­ not even the chairman ­ is in charge. This usually means a clear purpose for the meeting has not been established. An agenda has not been drawn. participants can’t prepare in advance. So there is a lot of wandering around.

The door is left wide open for discussion of any and everything, other than the matter at hand. This condition also allows the showboats to get their time on stage.

Some people may even prolong a meeting because they have nothing better to do. Meetings are often called to achieve something a meeting cannot accomplish, such as drafting a statement. Meeting may flop because participants have not done their homework.

What can you do to control the meeting beasts and make them yield better results for your organization?

First, don’t hold a meeting unless it is absolutely necessary. It has been estimated that as much as one-third of the subject matter taken up at meetings is not appropriate for that venue and could have been handled by other means ­ the telephone, e-mail or a stand-up discussion in the hallway.

Second, if a meeting is necessary, the chances for success are enhanced greatly by a good chairman, one who will be fair, yet relentlessly firm and fully in control of the proceedings. Contrary to popular belief, good meetings are not freewheeling exercises in utopian democracy. The best ones are run by benevolent dictators.

Five Steps To Successful Meetings

The truly effective chairman will take five steps to expedite the conference. He or she will:

1. Clearly state the purpose of the meeting and set a time limit; provide an agenda and clearly state the issue(s) to be discussed. This will be done in writing. In advance.

2. Be sure all points of view are given a respectful hearing, but firmly cut off discussions that stray from the purpose of the meeting or are out of sequence.

3. Ensure there is only one discussion going on at a time.

4. Make certain the meeting comes to some recognized conclusion, with “next steps” understood and agreed upon.

5. Send out minutes of the meeting within 24 hours. These minutes will record decisions made and assign follow-up duties.

It is a tall order to bring the meeting beast under control. It has been around and growing forever. But it is worth the effort in terms of cutting back on frayed nerves and energy taken away from more productive pursuits.

A Camel Looks Like A Horse Designed By A Committee

Committees are one of the favored whipping boys of management gurus and comedians alike.

The late comic Milton Berle said, “A committee is a group of men who keep minutes and waste hours.”

One bon mot holds that “A committee is a group of the unfit, appointed by the unwilling, to do the unnecessary.”

It has been suggested, only partly in jest, that to be effective, a committee should never consist of more than three persons with two of them absent for every meeting.

And then there is perhaps the most famous and unkindest cut of all: “A camel looks like a horse that was planned by a committee.”

What could be so wrong with anything with such a good goal as to bring together diverse talents and points of view to serve a cause, solve a problem or make the most of an opportunity?

Could it be that committees continue to get a bad rap because they produce meetings? If there is one thing more vilified than a committee, it is a meeting.

It is more likely, however, that committees have gotten a bad name because they are made up of and chaired by people with all of our human faults.

Committees Can Be Useful

Despite all that, committees can still be useful tools. At least we ought to consider making committees all they can be before sacking them.

Committees should never be created without a clearly stated purpose, put in writing and restated on a regular basis. It helps to have the objectives posted in the meeting room for all to see. Each meeting should operate off an agenda that reflects the committee’s purpose.

Committees could be improved greatly if we would remember that the really effective ones do not do their business as purely democratic institutions.

The best committees are those where the chairmen operate as enlightened and benevolent autocrats. Effective committees have chairmen who lead participants to conclusions from which some results can be obtained. They create an environment in which all relevant points of view are heard, while they cause the committee to remain focused on its business. They are intolerant of those who waste time. They avoid two of the prime culprits behind the bad reputation of committees: too many meetings and those that start late and run over time.

It would be a good idea to put a “sunset” rule in place when a committee is created. Review its purpose on a set date. Abolish if it has no current or foreseeable purpose justifying it renewable.

In order to be effective, committees should be made up of as few people as possible, all with knowledge and experience relative to the stated purpose. Members of a committee should be held accountable for doing their homework. Those who consistently fail to do so or don’t contribute to the proceedings should be dismissed.

(Incidentally, did you ever notice that the people with the least knowledge of the subject at hand are likely to take up the most time of the committee?)

Never, never depend on a committee to write a report or even revise one. A committee can suggest amendments; it can approve a report, but it can’t compose one with any sort of effectiveness. Too many spoil the soup.

Are you serving on a committee that wastes time, or one that has drifted far afield from its beginning purpose? In other words, does it meet because it has “always” met?

If you answer yes to any of these questions set out now to get off the committee or get it abolished. Your work will be more productive and enjoyable.