Tag Archives: psychology of work

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hours worked

Hours Worked Is Never a Good Metric

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Are you measuring your performance by your hours worked? What about the company or organization you work for, are they doing it? Is it part of the culture?

One of the great things about my business is that I get to see, hear, and feel a lot of pain points from both the organizational viewpoint, and the employee viewpoint.

Has your organization faced tough hiring challenges? Does it struggle with employee turnover?

You can blame it on all of the typical stuff. Too much free money, not a high enough pay rate, location, type of business, and so much more.

Most of those things probably have something to do with it and so does the business culture and reputation.

Hours worked is a lousy professional occupation measurement tool.

It is certainly applicable for hourly staff, paid by the minute, according to the clock. For everyone else, it doesn’t make a lot of sense and it may be just one of many lingering cultural problems your organization and team face.

Hours Worked

A few years back I was on a corporate coaching assignment. Which means, I was hired by a business to coach several employees. After a session or two, I found a common thread.

All of the employees being coached had corporate speak of, “he/she isn’t puttin’ his/her forty.” They weren’t talking about a 40-ounce bottle of beer and a brown paper bag. There was a culture of professional level positions (salaried) having some measurement based on observations or gossip of hours worked.

Something so simple. It told me a lot about the culture.

Certainly, I think that there is some value, in some professional occupations, to being present and not missing in-action during the normal workday. An old-school observable metric that has been tested to the max since the start of the 2020 pandemic.

At the same time, I believe sitting at a desk or being present in a workspace from 9 to 5 doesn’t mean very much about your contributions, value, or efficiency.

Having a talking point about hours worked doesn’t say much either. Often, the root of this is based in management team members who are resentful about the time they spend at work versus doing other things.

The metrics that you measure will have a lot to do with the results. Time is nearly always part of a metric, but hanging around the office for 10 hours a day and being productive for about 4 hours of that time doesn’t really say much.

A measurement based on hours observed at the workplace might tell a story.

A story your business can’t afford.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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workplace multitasking

Workplace Multitasking is a Myth

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Many people believe that they are multitaskers. That they can do two, three, or more things at once. Is workplace multitasking a myth?

You can talk while you walk. You might listen to the radio or a podcast while driving in your car. Some people sing while taking a shower, or brush their teeth while contemplating what they’ll say in their morning meeting.

Yet, largely, you still can’t do two things at once.

You can’t pay attention in the Zoom call while you are processing backed up email in your inbox. Both require the use of two different cognitive actions. You can’t do them at exactly the same time.

You might pay attention to the Zoom for a moment, and then reply to an email for moment, but you can’t do them both at the same time. One gets a momentary pause while the other processes.

Even job advertisements and job descriptions sometimes state the mythical skill of multitasking.

The brutal truth, no one qualifies.

Workplace Multitasking

Having the ability to manage multiple tasks or projects is a good quality and often a well-developed skill. It means that you can have one task, duty, or project happening, in motion, and then engage in another.

It doesn’t mean that cognitively you can do two or more things at exactly the same time.

Have you ever been driving on a busy street, felt lost, and couldn’t find your way? You study the street signs, look for a landmark, and try to calculate your next move?

You might also turn down the radio. It is a distraction, noise in your head hindering your ability to fully process what is going on around you.

When you want to do something correct, when you want the best result and need to apply the use of your best cognitive skills you should fully concentrate.

You can’t listen in on the Zoom session and respond to a customer request at the same time. Your brain might process a nanosecond in the Zoom and a nanosecond responding to the customer, but not both at exactly the same time.

During that very brief interruption trading one for the other, you miss something.

Navigating multiple, in-process tasks during the same timeframe may sometimes be beneficial. It might also be a skill that can be developed.

Solving a math problem while also writing down your grocery list isn’t going to happen. Not at exactly the same time.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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mechanized jobs

Mechanized Jobs, Are They In Your Workplace?

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Have you been striving for mechanized jobs? Is that the game plan for the future of your work?

People often mention the self-checkouts at the grocery or superstore. People might joke about the absence of the grocery bagger, once popular in suburban supermarkets in the 1970s or 1980s.

Some jobs may be nearly extinct. Is it because of automation, or is it more about margins and saving establishments?

On one hand every business is striving for exceptional service, on the other, every business is striving to reduce costs. Is there a happy medium, or really no medium at all?

For the manufacturer or the fast-food enterprise, it seems to be about automation. Robotize every job you can. Investments in technology reduces or minimizes headcount which ultimately is more reliable and reduces operational costs.

True, and largely a good thing.

Should you robotize more jobs? Is that better?

Mechanized Jobs

Better for what?

Is it better for the bottom line, or is does it propel you to the top of the curve, creating that moment right before starting a downhill slide?

Unemployment is stranger than ever. On top of that, everyone is operating during a time being label as The Great Resignation.

Are you struggling? Is your business or organization struggling with workforce problems?

In the 1960s and 1970s there was a lot of great work performed to analyze job performance, the psychology of work, and efficiency. Countless efforts were studied, analyzed, and published. Much of this work is still relevant today. It may be tweaked a little, but still relevant.

The quest for businesses to operate more efficiently with less headcount per operational dollar is nothing new.

Are mechanized jobs the answer for you?

Apple Pie Opportunity

Your grandmother may have made a great apple pie.

The apple pie can be mass produced, thousands and thousands of them, with very little human intervention.

I’ll bet there is a difference between those pies, and the one grandma once made.

And there lies the opportunity.

The opportunity to do work that matters. Work that people can get behind because they understand and support the purpose, the product, and service outcomes.

You won’t stop automation. You shouldn’t even try.

There is always an intersection of price, quality, and value.

Mechanized shouldn’t lack purpose.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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nimble workspace

Nimble Workspace, Do You Have It?

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Work from home (WFH) may not drastically change the manufacturing plant floor for some time but has it changed your office environment? Do you have a nimble workspace?

Over a year ago, people were talking about the new normal. What would it be, what will it look like? Then, the phrase new normal started to wear out. No one seemed to know what that meant, and everyone had an opinion.

Working from home may have meant new levels of productivity. It meant measurement by metric of accomplishment, more project oriented and less time clock watching.

Some liked it and embraced, others feared that people were getting paid for doing nothing.

Then there are the organizations that attempted to measure work by log-in time. Log-in by 8:00 AM and don’t log out until 5:00 PM. And, if your device times out or goes to sleep we’ll know you aren’t working.

On top of that there were organizations that instituted endless Zoom meetings. The idea was, schedule a Zoom meeting and then people have to work. Death by Zoom became unnecessarily popular.

What was your experience? Did it improve things or create a useless bunch of clutter in an attempt to prove contribution?

Nimble Workspace

In the winner’s circle were the businesses and organizations that appropriately managed the transition. Likely, many of these winners were already well on their way to management by objective (MBOs) and management by project instead of by time clock.

What the winners discovered was that productivity improved. The drama was less. Wasted energy was less. The best employees had an opportunity to focus and concentrate instead of being distracted by birthday cakes and flip-flop wearers.

On the flip-side, communication faced challenges and the extroverts who gain their energy from social interactions felt like something was missing.

Like many things in life, there is probably an element in the middle. A sweet spot as is often described.

Now management has a need for change. The way people supervise is different. Directing and leading require more skills, less clock watching.

Is there a new normal? What is different for your workspace from 2019?

Nimble workspaces are thriving with effectiveness and efficiency. They also have great managers.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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personal experiences

Personal Experiences Shape Belief More Than Talk

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Have you ever tried to convince someone to see it your way but you just can’t quite pull it off? Personal experiences are more powerful than chit-chat which is precisely why you must create an experiential experience.

Many businesses want change. They want to increase sales, improve efficiencies and build a dynamic culture that will lead them to becoming a best in class.

Yet, their success meets opposition, struggle, and stays stuck.

The workforce often doesn’t believe in change. It may not be because they don’t want change, it may be because they have a hard time believing in change.

Change leaders find it perplexing.

These leaders formulate a plan. Package it all nice and pretty, and roll it out to the masses with a prescribed strategy and metrics to guide the change effort. Yet, the workforce struggles to believe.

No matter how pretty the message, how well laid out the plan, it just doesn’t seem to happen.

Personal experiences might be to blame.

Personal Experiences

Great speakers and story tellers capture audience attention by connecting them emotionally to what they are describing.

It often develops from childhood. A parent reads a book out loud to they young child while the young child forms an image in their mind of what is being read.

The bonus of course is a picture book. It helps form a more complete image.

All grown up in the workplace a similar thing happens. One big difference is that the working adult usually has their own life experiences that are shaping their story. Not necessarily the story that is being told, but the story that they, as an individual, hear and imagine.

This is often why change efforts struggle, or worse, fail.

It may not be because the plan is bad, it may be because not enough people believe.

Beyond having a great plan, change leaders need to build trust and they need to help everyone involved see the vision and then actualize it.

If you’ve been burned a couple of times, someone telling you it won’t happen again is hard to believe.

Develop the story, but be prepared to shape belief through experiences.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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good processes

Good Processes May Lack Humanity

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Is your business or organization fixed on making the process better and better? How is performance measured? Good processes may overlook the human side of work.

Manufacturing and production always want to put everything into a system. We can go way back to the industrial revolution to find the evidence.

Today, we may hear things like Lean, 5s, Six Sigma, Kanban, and others.

Most of them are based on ways to structure workflow, ensure quality, and most of all, improve efficiencies. It is the output of the process measured against the cost to produce that output. An hour of work for an hour of pay.

In 2020, everything turned upside down for work in most US businesses and organizations. Those labeled or granted essential status continued on. An hour of work for an hour of pay.

Many others moved to a work from home (WFH) model and suddenly, the process changed.

The model of observed work shifted. It shifted from, “I can see you working” to “Let me know when you’ve finished the task.”

Which is better? Which method is more reliable, dependable, and, well, considerate of humanity?

Good Processes

Chances are good that in 2020 some businesses actually saw productivity increase.

Persons working from home realized that performance measurement was becoming more consistent with output instead of observation.

If a person could compile a report in 90 minutes which normally would take them a half-day, they would do it and then do some laundry, play with the kiddos, or walk the dog. Same pay, same output, but more options for the employee.

In many ways the business wins too. Happier employees, fewer infrastructure costs (when there is a long-term plan), and a favorite, less drama.

Across time, output and time measurements may catch up, but should that happen?

Have the measurements of productivity and efficiency changed?

Stopwatch Costs

Working from a stopwatch always validates a parameter or metric against time. It also often helps establish cost. Yet, that only happens for some work.

Creative work and services may include some measurement of time but often the output is measured subjectively.

That is a beautiful painting.

Your landscaping is fantastic.

The meal was delicious.

Do you want to pay a surgeon by the hour? Should it be based more on the deliverable?

Has the concept of good processes shifted? Should the human side of work only be measured with labor across time?

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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Stronger points

Stronger Points May Be Exactly What You Need

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Have you made your point? Does anyone buy it? Making stronger points may be the difference between having a vision and creating reality.

In polite debates making your point might make a difference. Stronger points might make a difference in the meeting being held in the conference room, the chance encounter with your boss or the CEO at the coffee pot, or in the presentation that you worked on for weeks.

When we see something that is hard to believe, we often call it magic.

Magic has a special way of illustrating something that we probably can’t believe until we see it with our own eyes.

If you can see it for yourself, it is true.

Are you needing stronger points?

Stronger Points

This is exactly why the best workplace leaders are able to illustrate a clear vision. It is why strategy matters and why proper execution should be celebrated, put on a pedestal, and broadcast to everyone.

Belief is one of the most powerful psychological connections to work that you can have.

An Olympic athlete has a vision, and a work ethic to obtain the goal based on step-by-step plans carefully placed on a timeline. The timeline illustrates the intersection of preparedness with peak performance. The pursuit is about belief. Belief that it is real and that it can be achieved.

Workplace success shouldn’t be much different. The path, the vision, the roadmap, it is all part of the plan. A plan that once it is made believable, can come true.

Richard Branson proved it with Virgin Galactic.

Make some magic. Make stronger points.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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catchy projects

Catchy Projects, Do They Really Work?

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Do you have catchy projects? Do they attract interest, bring in new customers, keep existing customers, or engage your workforce?

People often discuss the law of attraction. One version of the law of attraction tends to suggest that what you think, is what will become true by your own creation. Think positive and you’ll see positive, think negative and you’ll find negative. Sort of a self-fulfilled prophecy kind of thing.

Having catchy projects is, well, attractive.

It is attractive for those who engage with it, and ideally it is attractive for the support of your cause or purpose.

In marketing circles people sometimes talk about things being sticky.

Good ideas are sticky. They aren’t easily shaken off.

The best products are sticky. Once you touch them, use them, or share them people don’t want to let them go.

Even the culture of your organization may be sticky. When you onboard new people they want to stick around.

Are catchy projects the root of success?

Catchy Projects

What makes a project catchy is not easily defined. It is more about the attraction to the project. What makes it clingy, magnetic, or sticky?

Generosity may be a starting point. Most people are receptive to something that feels generous.

Something that is easily shared, literally or metaphorically, might become catchy.

Most business cultures and business endeavors are in favor of catchy.

It is why branding is so important.

The next time you launch something new, whether it is a project, a product, or a service consider the attributes that might make it catchy.

Most things aren’t that catchy, yet the expectations usually are.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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cultural leadership

Cultural Leadership Demonstrates Upstanding Qualities

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Do you have cultural leadership in your workplace? Every workplace has a culture, but is it one of leadership or is it proclaimed leadership?

There is a difference.

Proclaimed leadership is self-described. It is the authoritarian approach. Leadership dictates and people listen.

The concept is that people listen because they are less powerful. They have to listen because they are not in the position of authority. Respect is expected because you have to give it or else.

Some people call this, “Kiss the ring.”

Are people expected to kiss the ring or are they engaged because of a cultural attraction that keeps them culturally committed?

Cultural leadership is different.

Cultural Leadership

Business leaders, at least those people who are identified as leaders on the organizational chart, have often been known to throw up their arms in disgust about employee teams.

They’ll claim that they have tried everything for engagement. They’ve tried pizza parties; they’ve tried brightening up the workspace with bright colored paint and bigger windows. They even have a special parking spot for employee of the month.

Yet, their frustration is often expressed as, “nothing works.”

It may be because people confuse the concept of environment with culture.

Painting the rooms in bright colors and adding windows feels fresh. It is a fresh environment. However, this doesn’t really indicate whether a change in culture has occurred.

Most likely, the culture is the same, it only looks different.

The rising star organizations have this figured out, at least in part. They are doing things that engage people in the purpose of their work. They constantly connect with a culture of service and they do good, high-integrity work.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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workplace tenacity

Workplace Tenacity, Turtle Race and Bunny Hops!

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How do you approach work? Are you in the groove of getting by, or are you charging ahead by giving the best example of workplace tenacity?

Having the commitment and approaching your work with rigor are characteristics that should not be forgotten. Work is called work for a reason.

One of the best examples of leadership comes to you through role models. Role models often pursue their work unknowingly. They are unknowingly are serving others through their own example.

Are you an example of tenacity?

Workplace Tenacity

Change is a constant. So is the reality of shifting duties, responsibilities, and careful navigation.

Many hard-charging employees believe that the way to succeed is through merit. Merit matters, it matters a lot, but for the fast-trackers it seems that one of the most important attributes is navigation.

Knowing when, how, or having luck on your side and managing it well is just as important as having a technical skill.

Are you flexible? Can you pivot without wavering? Do you compromise, can you balance actions and behaviors while not going too far outside of the lines?

Work is often about mastering your craft. That means not only technically, but by careful navigation.

It might be more about a race of turtles, not the zig-zag fast hops of rabbits. Observation suggests the rabbits are winning, but one or two hops in the wrong direction can mean devastating consequences.

Consider building skills centered around your expertise and supplementing your efforts by careful navigation.

Technical skills are abundant, the greater challenge is navigation.

Tenacity means you’re in it for the long haul.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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