Braverman's Blog
Terry Braverman and Company

Planning To Be Spontaneous

If you’ve seen a Robin Williams stand-up performance it all appears to be improvised, in-the-moment delivery of comedic material. In reality, his bits are mostly well-rehearsed ahead of time and plugged into thematic flows when it fits. This is what I call “planning to be spontaneous”.

 

As summertime approaches, some people will allow the time to pass them by, thinking that when the moment is right they will spontaneously hop in the car and drive somewhere they’ve never been, or go out dancing for the first time since they wore bellbottom jeans. Sadly, it often results in a rueful September over the missed opportunities of summer. Lack of planning is the reason.

 

There is a reason the calendar was invented – to document appointments, schedule meetings, and take time out from the routines of life to arrange some fun. Putting anything on your calendar is the first step to making it real. Still, you must commit to it and not buy into excuses as to why you can’t plan on being spontaneous. Have at least one fun and adventurous activity a week throughout the summer.

 

Don’t let the recreational side of life pass you by because you run a business, have a family, or can’t bring yourself to change your habits. Plan your time so you can be spontaneous.

 

 

 

 

 

 

       

Reduce Tension, Gain Attention

A little clowning around relaxes me when I’m under stress in business situations. I remember the first meeting I had with a corporate officer to propose a seminar. He was a regional vice-president for one of the nation’s largest banks. When approaching the towering building that was their headquarters, I started to get nervous. I always carry a clown nose in the car, and pondered wearing it into the building.

 

“Too inappropriate,” barked my logical mind. “Ah, but you’re too serious,” implored the clown within. Besides, the red-colored nose coordinated well with the gray suit and subtle red stripes. The clown won.

 

I sauntered into the skyscraper with an air of dignity. The security guard said, “Good morning,” initially looking stunned, then grinning ear to ear. I’m getting loose.

 

At the elevator, I am waiting with three Japanese businessmen, who are gawking at me like I’m an alien species from another galaxy. As we board the elevator, I decided to have fun with them. “I bet you’re wondering why I have this nose on. You see, I have double vision, and I have a tendency to walk into walls and doors. I demonstrated by bumping into the elevator door with my nose as we were ascending. This helps to cushion the blow.” They looked at me and smiled politely, nodding their heads.

 

When I got off the elevator, I chuckled at the thought of their bewilderment, and imagined them conversing about the incident on their flight back to Tokyo. By the time I entered the meeting I was relaxed, and effectively sold the VP on my program.

 

PROFESSIONALS WITH THE LONGEST LIFE SPAN?

Few people ever guess the answer to this one. According to a study done of 35 professions and the longevity of those who work in those occupations, musical conductors and jugglers live the longest. The two share in common similarity of circular arm motions.

 

Practitioners of Chinese medicine and healing will tell you this kind of motion creates “chi” (energy) in the body to promote circulation, flexibility, strength, balance, and overall good health. Chi Gong and T’ai Chi are exercises originating from China that emphasize circular arm movements.

  

RESTAURANT GUIDE LISTING BLOOPER                                                                                                                                                                         

Enya’s Mediterranean Kitchen                                                                                                               Location: Opposite Sheger House                                                                                                                                                                                      Known for: Big Fat Greek Buffet, Roasted Lamp

 

 

 

 

 

 

Work Less, Achieve More?

American workers are laboring longer, while those from other countries receive reductions in working hours and show gains in productivity. Is this a fallacy?

 

The Washington Post recently examined whether working more hours translates into increased productivity and making comparisons between nations. The survey includes some of the world's most advanced nations and some developing nations too. You can view the two-minute video on global workplace productivity here: http://wapo.st/1g33exI

 

If you view the report, I’d be interested to see your feedback and what your conclusions are concerning the “work less, achieve more” concept. I think this study by the Washington Post is ill conceived. It ignores some key factors, e.g., natural resources and technology available in those countries, the labor pool and their level of skill sets, plus the consumer demand for their goods and services, to cite a few. There is no core scientific evidence here to inspire changes to a company's policies regarding daily breaks and/or time off work.

 

Defining and measuring productivity is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. There are cultural distinctions between the U.S., Europe, Latin America, and Asia, so methods and processes vary in terms of both technology and human capital. Is working hard the same and working long hours? I think not. Are regular breaks the answer? Too simplistic. If I’m “in a zone” when working, and ideas are flowing and my energy is high and focused, I stay with it until the task is complete. Burnout happens to me if I’m stuck and languishing. That’s a good time to break. Then again, that’s me. Can this model be applied to everyone? Of course not.

   

Whether extra hours worked stokes or saps productivity is also relative to the industry, even the department within a company, the company culture, goods and/or services produced, who they are marketing to, and especially having the right people in the best job positions for them to stay passionate and succeed. How to inspire the best out of each worker takes managerial flexibility, encouragement, and proper learning tools. And then, tailoring clear policies to optimally achieve objectives and maximize productivity.

 

STRANGE PRODUCTIVITY CLAIMS

 

Coffitivity claims that ambient noise (like the kind from a local coffee shop) can increase creativity with "enough noise to work." Rooms that are too quiet can be distracting, and obviously, rooms that are too loud can impair mental focus and concentration -- and there's some research to back it up.

 

Pixar's headquarters is designed with all the bathrooms in the atrium -- so that employees from different departments might have more opportunities to mingle. Are people discussing their work projects while taking care of other business?

 

The Hawthorne Effect was named after a set of studies at the Hawthorne plant in the 1920s -- where increased productivity was observed when the factory lights were brightened OR darkened. Basically, the workers were more productive, not because of the lighting changes, but because they realized their bosses were checking on them. (The dramatic effect of changing the lighting was apparently fictional, but the Hawthorne Effect is still a phenomenon that researchers try to account for when designing psychological studies.)

Reprinted from techdirt.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting Testy Over Psychometric Testing

There are many HR professionals who put much credence into psychometric tests, believing it helps to get a fuller picture in making an informed hiring decision. Research groups with vested interest in marketing these assessment tools trumpet their data like the gospel truth.

 

I remain skeptical of such value, and any honest researcher will acknowledge that results from a “laboratory” test can vary widely from the same test outside the laboratory. This is especially true with human behavior. Per a recent discussion about this matter, one comment echoes my sentiments:

 

“We have many who use these tools and they want to believe they are making choices based on scientific data. There are the metrics makers and their marketers as well. And there are the consultants who also use these tools. Though these tools are widely debunked, they use them because we all want to see through lead walls; we want to know the future.

 

If we have significantly increased retention with new employees hired after psychometric testing, is it the result of prescient selection? Or have we primed the manager to expect great things? How about a double blind test? Has anyone tried testing psychometric tests this way? One group would submit to psychometric testing and another to a combination of competence testing and fake psychometric testing. If HR doesn't even know there's a double-blind test underway, would the results differ between groups? I doubt we'll ever know (you can bet no psychometrics provider performed this test).

 

Employee engagement? I'm convinced the primary causal factor to engagement is employment environment. The environment for your star employee is bound to be better. We are all more engaged in an environment where we are held in high esteem. The more committed an employer is to the employee, the better the performance evaluations will be. You won't believe this, but the evidence is right there in your company. Compare the incidence of flat rejection of temporary workers versus rejection of "full-time" workers.” – TG

I have your back, TG.

 

 

 

 

 

Customer Service: A Cure-All for Healthcare Reform?

A growing drumbeat for emphasis on patient engagement in healthcare services is cause for encouragement. However, it's difficult to determine how much of improving services and outcomes can be effected by improving customer service; for better or worse, we are a consumer-driven culture, and it's seems reasonable that some of healthcare can be improved by ensuring that patients get what they want, when they want it.

 

What is largely absent from the reform conversation, at least among the medical establishment and politicians, is the preventive aspect of healthcare. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is a cliché, but when practiced with appropriate research and discretion will often render visits to the doctor unnecessary. Given the wealth of information on the Web for healthy living tips, nutritional data, supplement benefits, and simple home remedies when symptoms arise gives each individual the power to manage their own health to a large degree.

       

Healthcare reform is certainly going to involve many moving parts, but should start with emphasizing prevention, and advocating the least invasive interventions, if needed.

 

Healthcare Reform Humor                                                                                                 

"President Obama's approval rating is down to 39 percent. And Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who admitted to smoking crack cocaine, went up to 49 percent. How does this make Obama feel? He'd be better off smoking crack than promoting Obamacare." –Jay Leno

 

"Obamacare needs the premiums of healthier people to cover the costs of sicker people. It's a devious con that can only be described as insurance." –Stephen Colbert

 

"Today there were more problems with the Obamacare website. It seems when you type in your age, it's confusing because it's not clear if they want the age you are right now, or the age you'll be when you finally log in." –Jay Leno

 

"Now that healthcare is guaranteed, I'm frying everything I eat. Fried food and cigarettes." – Craig Ferguson

 

 

 

 


15 Tips to Lighten Up at Work

Receive 15 Tips to Lighten Up at Work from
Terry's best-selling book...

AND get a FREE subscription to The Weekly Manager.

The Replenisher