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Archive for August, 2013


Supporting More Than One Person

When supporting many people, sometimes you’re going to find yourself swamped with tasks that all need to be done at the same time. It’s critical to know whose tasks get top priority.Woman with post it notes

  • Make sure you know what your job description entails. Remind those making requests of your time and effort that you have multiple tasks, and you need to make a judgment call as to which one is your TOP priority.
  • Ask for specific deadlines to help you prioritize. Be sure to get a specific time, not just “ASAP.” ASAP is not a time. If someone cannot or will not be specific, suggest a reasonable time by which you can get the work done.
  • Speak up about scheduling and deadline conflicts. When several people want their work done at the same time, let each one know that there is a conflict. Find out which task has the highest priority. Try asking people to work out the conflict among themselves or ask for enough authority to set priorities on your own.
  • Rely on your manager. He or she has the authority to ensure you’re not overwhelmed and that you can operate at peak productivity.

If you have many people pulling you in many different directions, your productivity will suffer. Let the people you support know that you can be much more productive if you don’t have to communicate with all of them every time a potential change comes up.



Preparing for Back to School

The end of summer signals the start of the school year. As the mother of a teenager, I know how hard it is to shift from slower summer days to hectic back-to-school days. Here are some tips to make the transition easier, especially if you have children in elementary school or who are starting a new school since they often are more dependent on you for support.Image 2 - Cover

  • Try to open up your schedule for the first few weeks of the school year. If you can postpone business trips and out-of-town meetings, do so. This will free up your time to help your child re-acclimate to school routines.
  • Plan the night before. Get lunches ready, put completed homework in backpacks, sign any permission forms, have children set out their clothing for the next day, make sure sports equipment and uniforms are ready, and so on. This can streamline frantic last minute searches.
  • Set the alarm early so you have enough time to get the day off to a good start. Make sure to allow time for morning exercise, showers, and a nourishing breakfast. Instead of rushing around and gulping food on the fly, try to get children to sit and eat. A calm morning starts the day off right.

Planning can assure a smooth morning so that you and your children start the day off right, and you have a worry-free day at work. Be positively productive at the office and at home!





Don’t Confuse Policies with Procedures

Good policy and procedure documents clearly differentiate between the two; however, when policy statements and procedures are intermingled in the same section, readers become confused. It is difficult to follow a procedure if policy statements are intermingled with the steps that need to be taken.

Policy statements are information documents; they answer what and why.

  • Use clear, concise, simple language.
  • State what the policy is and why your organization has chosen it.
  • Provide context and reasons for the policy.
  • State who owns the policy and where employees can get more information about it.
  • Set and use a consistent template that uses the same format for all policies.

Procedures are strictly instructional documents. Their purpose is to explain how to perform a task. Good procedures:

  • Are understandable and easy to follow.
  • Must be useful and practical.
  • Are developed with the end user in mind.
  • State who owns the procedure and where employees can get questions answered.
  • Clearly identify who should perform the procedure and what approvals or authorizations are needed.
  • Provide links to required forms and additional information.

For example, a policy about a company’s compensation scheme would include information about the salary structure, what role benefits pay in compensation, what types of compensation are provided, why the company has this policy, eligibility requirements, etc. Compensation procedures would be comprised of sets of instructions about how to process different forms of compensation, such as regular pay, vacation pay, contributions to benefit plans, etc.

When you have well-written, organized policies and procedures, employees can be more positively productive and activities can be accomplished more quickly with fewer errors.



Quick Tips to Ensure Project Success

Successfully managing projects to completion takes strong skills in many areas—communication, time management, organization, conflict resolution, negotiation among others. Here are some quick tips to make project management easier.shutterstock_81109741

  • Identify the right business requirements. Take time at the beginning to explore all aspects of the project. Identify what is needed, the required deadlines, budget and resource constraints, any contingencies that might affect deliverables, and so on. Avoid making assumptions; instead, do solid research and perform a risk analysis. Talk to everyone involved in the project.
  • Manage stakeholders. Stakeholders have a vested interest in the project—in either its success or its failure. At the beginning, identify who these key players are. Stakeholders may not have an active role in the project itself, but they may be in positions of authority to influence the outcome. Put a plan in place to keep them in the loop and informed of progress. This may require one-on-one meetings or special status reports.
  • Put project monitoring in place. Project monitoring requires you to keep up to date on what is happening with every part of the project. Hold people accountable for their deliverables and put in place a status reporting process. Even though people dislike meetings, having in-person meetings at critical check points can keep everyone focused on the goal and can reinforce teamwork among staff.

Project management is challenging, but you can minimize these challenges with careful planning and by paying attention to the project as it progresses.

See my blog post Time Management vs. Action Management for more.