Thursday, September 17, 2015

Why You SHOULD Sweat the Small Stuff

Author Richard Carlson has written a number of small books, the first of which was "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff." The others are more specific eg, "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff for Women."

While Carlson is focussing on emotional and more personal matters, in business, there are sound reasons why we should sweat the small stuff.

The Japanese discovered this in the Seventies and early Eighties. They realised in their motor vehicle manufacturing plants that if you left quality control until the end of the process, it was much more difficult and subsequently, more expensive to rectify any failures.

They implemented a system of kaizen - the practice of continuous improvement. The logic of kaizen is based on the sensible assumption that if every small step in a process is done correctly, the end product will be correct.

Kaizen was the key to Japan's competitive success in the Eighties and it continues today throughout Japanese industries.

Murphy's Law, generally incorrectly stated as, "If something can go wrong, it will", is an example of where attention to detail would have prevented a near disaster.

Edward Murphy was involved in a g-force testing program in the late Forties when a set of measuring guages was wired incorrectly. What Murphy really referred to was the fact that if there are more than one ways to do something, someone will chose the wrong way.

That's why today, most things that attach to something else are designed to be "goof proof."

Try fitting your USB plug in the wrong way and you'll understand the concept.

So, while the small stuff may at first seem unimportant, not paying attention to detail, may have serious consequences.

What do you think?


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Learning to Deal with Disappointment

Everyone faces a disappointment at some time in their lives. If you get to 10 years of age and haven't been disappointed by something, then you are living in dream world.

At one time in my career with the Australian Public Service (APS), I was responsible for managing recruitment for three of our regional offices. I enjoyed the job very much, but it had one unpopular feature.

APS policy was to advertise all vacancies. Applicants would submit an application addressing selection criteria which would be assessed by a selection panel. The panel would determine who was interviewed and recommend an appointee after taking the applicant's application, referees and interview responses into account.

Sometimes, candidates were found "not suitable." Other times they were found "suitable, but not the best applicant."

I didn't mind telling people the outcome of their application but, when they began to whine because they didn't get a job, it annoyed me.

Quite a few applicants had spent three or four months in their job and expected a promotion to the next level. I used to tell them they needed to serve an "apprenticeship" in that job before applying for a promotion.

If you want a promotion, you have to show that you are ready for it. You do that by doing good work in your current job. Perhaps you spend some time acting at the higher level when someone goes on leave. Your supervisor and others get to see how well you work.

When you have shown you are ready - then apply for a promotion and perhaps you'll stand a chance.

It seems that the younger generations haven't been taught to handle disappointment as well as we of the Baby Boomer generation were.

Everyone knows that when you are in a competition - of any sort - there is always a chance that someone else will win. This is very true of the jobs market and people who miss out on a job have to learn to accept it.

If we enter enough competitions, eventually we are all winners.


Sunday, September 6, 2015

What You Love Doing is Who You Are

It hadn’t occurred to me until recently. What you love doing is who you are.

Perhaps it sounds a bit silly, but bear with me as I explain. You see, I’ve had a variety of careers, but all had one common thread that I enjoyed most.

My first job after I left school at 14 was as a boilermaker/welding apprentice. It was here that I learnt about spatial aspects of the many things boilermakers manufacture. One of my jobs was rebuilding underground haulage carts which were rectangular with two railway wheels on the bottom and a swing door at one end that was held at the top.

I’d get to work with an oxy-acetylene cutting torch and cut off the four sides leaving just the bottom with the wheels. Next, I would cut some sides from new sheets of mild steel plate and rebuild the cart, welding it at the seams.

I’d stand back and look at what a great job I had done. Corners were perfectly aligned, the top was straight and the welding looked superb. I’d feel a little surge of pride that I had done something so well - the symmetry appealed to me. I’d move on to the next cart.

In the police force, I was known for the quality of my written media; traffic accident reports, court briefs, administrative instructions, and Commissioner’s instructions to police.

When I began teaching, the first subjects I taught were typing and word processing. Both had to be taught to strict guidelines regarding spacing, layout, and typographical standards. They were very exacting and students were expected to produce work that was 100 percent correct - no typos, sound grammar, sound layout.

My typewritten work and desktop publishing had to be exemplars of what I taught. I couldn’t hold the students to one standard and have another for myself.

Thus, my penchant and perhaps obsession with producing excellent documentation.

Although I had been a boilermaker, police officer, adult educator, training manager, and head lecturer, what I loved most about all those jobs had to do with symmetry, style, grammar, design, and layout of documentation. While all the content within those occupations appealed to me, the documentation involved appealed most.

Now, after 51 years of full-time employment and never having been unemployed, I am retired but still do some of the things I love doing: documentation.

What I love doing - being a documentalist, is who I am.

What do you think is the real you?


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Article Writing to Improve Sales

Ezinearticles Performance Report

Do you write articles to promote your business?

If not, then you may be missing a golden opportunity.

Many organisations now have blogs for their businesses. They write helpful articles relating to their products and services. By helpful, I mean they aren't simply sales blurbs that tell you how wonderful something is with a "buy this" invitation every 10 lines. That style doesn't work.

What does work, according to Sitesell guru Dr Ken Evoy is pre-selling. By that he means discussing something related to a product that doesn't directly push the product but which has links to it.


For example, if you sell airconditioners, you might write a short article about cleaning the air filter and why it is important and in that article link to your airconditioning products.

You may do these articles by blogging or alternatively submit them to an article repository site like Ezinearticles.

Ezinearticles allows readers to download your article and post it in their blogs, sites or otherwise use them provided they give you full acknowledgement. They must also include a link to your site.

If you look at the Performance Overview graphic above you will see that I have published 94 articles at Ezinearticles and 6,599 readers have clicked on my link taking them to my site.

Not all my articles are about topics that involve products and services I have sold. Many are about general topics. But still, people have visited my site as a result.

If you don't have an article writing campaign as part of your promotional efforts, perhaps it's time to think about one.

If you can't do it yourself, you can hire other people to do it for you.

Does this sound like a great idea? What will you write about?



Saturday, August 29, 2015

How to Assess Employee Morale

After reading guest author Ankita's item about keeping employees happy, it reminded me of the necessity for larger firms to periodically run staff climate surveys.

In my human resources roles, I was involved on several occasions running focus groups and writing questionnaires to gauge staff morale.

Focus groups are useful for providing an insight into the issues that are top of mind with employees and thus, what to write in the questionnaire.

I found that when I held focus groups, I'd hold different meetings for management and line staff. This allows both groups to provide open and honest feedback without the fear that the other group will resent it, or in the case of the line staff, not willing to raise difficult issues in front of senior staff.

Holding separate meetings also allowed me to gauge the relationship between senior and junior staff - how big or small the gap between "them" and "us" was.

The questionnaire needs to be well written and have maybe several parts, but not be too lengthy. It must also be anonymous.

The first part should ask several questions about the level of the respondent, the years they have been with the employer, and the type of work they do.

Next, some issues about the general management of the organisation, whether it is considered sound or unsound. How people manage, how much support, resources etc are provided and if they are sufficient.

Last, feedback about what needs improving and how it could be achieved are useful. Also, some questions about whether the respondent is happy in the job and what their future intentions are.

Staff should be told that they will be given a copy of the questionnaire summary and that should be done as soon as practicable while the experience is still in their minds.

Staff feedback with other data eg, turnover statistics, can help keep a business functioning well and achieving it's corporate objectives.


PS: Have you ever answered a staff climate questionnaire? What do you think of the process?

Image from