Schlagwort-Archive: people management

Collaboration: a blessing or a curse?

According to research done by a University of Virginia professor, employees today spend 50% more time communicating than they did 20 years ago. 85% of daily work time are spent with e-mail, meetings and phone calls, and for some managers, the percentage is even higher.

Time to do meaningful work, to write a concept, to do something without being disturbed, seems to get rare. Some management researchers even start talking about the “collaboration curse”.

When you’re interrupted while working at something, your brain needs 25 minutes until it is able to fully concentrate on the old task again, so it seems quite a challenge to work in a dynamic environment. Finding the time and space to do some “deep work”, to think, to write, is often only possibly when you close the office door – provided you actually have a door.

It is unrealistic that we suddenly stop using open space offices or tell people not to come in, but it’s worth thinking about how we can use collaboration in a more intelligent way.

Meetings can be very productive, but some definitely aren’t. Everyone knows these regular meetings that don’t seem to be necessary, so why not skip these and just set up a meeting when there’s something that needs to be discussed? What about the participants? Does everyone have to be in the meeting from start to end? Or could some people join later, or leave early? Each agenda item should have a time slot and the leader of the meeting needs to remind people of the allocated time. Don’t just invite people to meetings because you think they “should be there”.

It could make sense to introduce “quiet time” when people are allowed to not take part in any kind of communication (e-mail, chat, meetings) and can work on a task without being interrupted. For some people, “quiet time” might even be shorter than one hour, for others, it might be longer. Some people organise their own “quiet time” by coming early or staying late, so there shouldn’t be fixed time slots for everyone.

Despite all this, there are researchers who say that it’s simply a nice idea that you can be creative in an organization. To work on a new idea or develop a concept, you need to be somewhere all alone. Well, then, have you booked your weekend retreat yet? 😉


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Friday thought: digital leadership

Recently, I’ve noticed that several HR magazines seem to have (re-)discovered leadership questions. Articles on team management and „leading in the digital age“ are plenty.
I welcome these articles on the one hand, because I think that sharing knowledge and best practice in this field should never stop and that both new and experienced leaders and managers can benefit from reading and thinking about leadership questions.
On the other hand, I wonder whether „digital leadership“ is and should be a thing or if we should start looking at „human leadership“ (again), or whether what’s currently called „digital leadership“ might actually be „human leadership“.

I feel that some of the „new“ concepts are more or less based on treating people well and focusing on human aspects rather than numbers or objectives. But I’m well aware of the fact that many people who are leaders or managers still need to grow into that role and that HR could in some cases do more to help people become better at what they’re doing.

When reading about the digital leader being open, flexible, transparent and composed, I generally agree. And I look at the overall picture and find that a leader who is or wants to be open, flexible, transparent and composed needs an organisation or system that allows him/her to be and do just that. If your work environment doesn’t support flexibilty or transparancy, you can still try and be and do those things, but it will be a lot harder.

If we want change at the work place, we have to start somewhere. Looking at leadership and helping leaders to grow is important. We just shouldn’t stop there.

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Friday thought: bridges or walls

There are numerous inspirational quotes on stones that people throw in your path and how you should use these stones to build something nice.
It is a noble goal to put up a bridge instead of a wall when someone has put obstacles in front of you, or even worse, has hit you with one of these stones (figuratively speaking!).

But most of us know that being so noble and constructive is not easy. When you find these stones, it seems easier to do the „tit for tat“ thing and either throw them back or build a wall and hide, or think in lines of „us versus them“ instead of reaching out. And indeed some people need time to adjust to the new situation and to figure out what to do next.
That’s perfectly fine. People react differently, and as managers/leaders, we need to take this into account. Some team members might need support to get rid of bad feelings, others might just need additional time, others might need us to show them how we do it. Which, in my point of view, is very important. How I as manager/leader react to a situation will give information and guidance to my team. If I want people to be constructive, I should act accordingly.

Sometimes, a bridge is not the first thing you might want to build. Sometimes you might need to build a wall first. But eventually turning walls into bridges will help you move forward. Especially when we look at the challenges the modern work environment brings: there’s not much room for „us versus them“ or silos or hiding your knowledge. We need to network, collaborate, be creative, use technology and tools intelligently, and to do this, we can’t be surrounded by too many walls.

Of course, we will not get rid of closed doors completely, and I don’t think that this is necessary.

There’s a time and place for both, walls and bridges, and I would like to encourage you to keep that balance and to stop and think and take a closer look whenever you think a wall or a bridge would be the right thing.

Let me know what you think! I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

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