Category Archives: Business

The New Blog

Workplace Efficiency has moved to a new home with a new focus.

The Mid Life Opportunity – http://midlifeop.blogspot.com – offers ‘Stimulation, Advice, Guidance and Support’ to midlifers everywhere.

Many of the blog postings continue to be inspired by the natural world – why not sign up and receive the updates (usually twice a week) in your inbox?

The Mid Life Opportunity

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The Business Face

Camouflage is one of nature’s basic techniques for ensuring the survival of species. Flatfish have the same colouring as the seabed where they dwell. Females of bird species which nest in vulnerable places tend to have less colourful plumage then their male counterparts, to conceal them from predators while they incubate their eggs. The pheasant is a good example of this. Stick insects resemble the foliage of the plants on which they live. There are hundreds, thousands of similar examples. Some animals and birds actually change colour depending on their surroundings. The Artic Fox is brown in summer and white in winter, to match the snow. The Ptarmigan, a type of grouse that inhabits the snowy arctic tundra, does the same. It is not only the famed Chameleon which changes colour to camouflage itself. To stand a chance of seeing a camouflaged creature, you have to look carefully, in the right places.

How is this reflected in the business world? Who uses camouflage techniques to conceal themselves? Many people at work put on their camouflaged ‘business face’. The face that nods agreement sometimes when they should really be shaking their head to disagree. The face that agrees with you when in the same room, but who spreads discontent, rumour and innuendo amongst friends and colleagues behind your back. The face that tells you what they think you want to hear.

This is especially true in times of change within the company. When processes are reviewed, waste of one form or another is almost always uncovered. This ‘waste’ will be all or part of some people’s daily roles within the company and they will become very uncomfortable if they think that their job is in jeopardy. When told of impending changes in their department they may smile and nod agreement with the proposals. Underneath, they may be very worried and can react in a number of ways:

  • They can decide that it is time they found a new job with a new company and so will start job hunting. The organisation may or may not wish to keep the employee and the follow up action will depend on this position. Ultimately, the employee’s actions will have a fairly ‘passive’ effect on the proposed changes.
  • The employee may seek clarification from their line manager –’how will the changes affect me?’; ‘if my job goes, will I find another position within the company?’; ‘How much redundancy pay can I expect to get if my job goes?’, etc. If there is a likely to be a positive outcome and the employee finds a new position, this too will have a ‘passive’ effect on the proposed changes.
  • Alternatively, the employee may be a ‘blocker’, someone who reacts negatively to any change. They may start off with a camouflaged face but quickly come out in to the open. They may still nod in agreement in public, but will spread negative (and usually exaggerated) rumours about the implications of the changes amongst the other members of staff. These people have very ‘active’ (and negative) effect on the proposed changes and they can change the overall opinion of the workforce unless they are managed correctly and speedily.

The important point is to recognise that many people wear a disguise when at work. Understand this and its implications. Key to this is Communication, the topic covered in the next instalment of ‘Natural Processes’.

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Rob Horlock specialises in part time project management and in helping the commercial side of businesses to review processes and implement new IT Applications. If you would like to find out more, see www.ef-ef.co.uk or email: info@ef-ef.co.uk If you’re looking for a new job – advice here: www.mynextrole.co.uk


Planning to win

Stonechat

Stonechat

July in The New Forest and walking in the open forest is what summer evenings were made for. The sun is shining and the forest looks very different than it did six weeks ago, let alone six months ago. It’s a sea of green with bracken growing up to six feet high intermingled with gorse bushes. As Lucy (the dog) and I walk along, a strong twittering and chirping attracts our attention. The source of the agitated chirruping soon becomes apparent. Standing on the highest branch of a nearby gorse bush, a male Stonechat guards his nest. His equally agitated mate sits in a tree nearby, noisily encouraging us to move away. We move on and leave the birds to their solitude.

In the winter, it’s possible to walk anywhere in the open forest, apart from the boggy areas. In the summer, the ponies and visitors follow pre-defined paths through the bracken. You can still walk anywhere but it’s much more difficult to force your way through the bracken. It can be dangerous too as you can’t see where you’re walking – you wouldn’t want to tread on an adder!

We follow the well worn paths through the forest in same way that we follow the well worn plans that help us to manage our projects. How often so we stop and think about other ways of approaching our work? Just because it was done this way last time and the time before doesn’t make it right. Did we involve the right people – the people at the sharp end? Did we check the results of last year’s project? Was an evaluation of last year’s project ever written?

Take time to think about your plans and see if there might be a better way or at least a different way to reach the end goal. There almost certainly will be. Don’t make the mistake that just about every politician makes with depressing regularity – don’t fight the battles in this war with the strategy from the last war. Time moves on and the environment changes – ask the Polish Cavalry!

So think about looking for a new path but watch out for any adders along the way.

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Rob Horlock specialises in part time project management and in helping the commercial side of businesses to manage projects ands improve individual and team working efficiencies. If you would like to find out more, see www.ef-ef.co.uk or email: info@ef-ef.co.uk If you’re looking for a new job – advice here: www.mynextrole.co.uk

Change in the Workplace

Camouflage is one of nature’s basic techniques for ensuring the survival of species. Flatfish have the same colouring as the seabed where they dwell. Females of bird species which nest in vulnerable places tend to have less colourful plumage then their male counterparts, to conceal them from predators while they incubate their eggs. The pheasant is a good example of this. Stick insects resemble the foliage of the plants on which they live. There are hundreds, thousands of similar examples. Some animals and birds actually change colour depending on their surroundings. The Artic Fox is brown in summer and white in winter, to match the snow. The Ptarmigan, a type of grouse that inhabits the snowy arctic tundra, does the same. It is not only the famed Chameleon which changes colour to camouflage itself. To stand a chance of seeing a camouflaged creature, you have to look carefully, in the right places.

How is this reflected in the business world? Who uses camouflage techniques to conceal themselves? Many people at work put on their camouflaged ‘business face’. The face that nods agreement sometimes when they should really be shaking their head to disagree. The face that agrees with you when in the same room, but who spreads discontent, rumour and innuendo amongst friends and colleagues behind your back. The face that tells you what they think you want to hear.

This is especially true in times of change within the company. When processes are reviewed, waste of one form or another is almost always uncovered. This ‘waste’ will be all or part of some people’s daily roles within the company and they will become very uncomfortable if they think that their job is in jeopardy. When told of impending changes in their department they may smile and nod agreement with the proposals. Underneath, they may be very worried and can react in a number of ways:

  • They can decide that it is time they found a new job with a new company and so will start job hunting. The organisation may or may not wish to keep the employee and the follow up action will depend on this position. Ultimately, the employee’s actions will have a fairly ‘passive’ effect on the proposed changes.
  • The employee may seek clarification from their line manager –‘how will the changes affect me?’; ‘if my job goes, will I find another position within the company?’; ‘How much redundancy pay can I expect to get if my job goes?’, etc. If there is a likely to be a positive outcome and the employee finds a new position, this too will have a ‘passive’ effect on the proposed changes.
  • Alternatively, the employee may be a ‘blocker’, someone who reacts negatively to any change. They may start off with a camouflaged face but quickly come out in to the open. They may still nod in agreement in public, but will spread negative (and usually exaggerated) rumours about the implications of the changes amongst the other members of staff. These people have very ‘active’ (and negative) effect on the proposed changes and they can change the overall opinion of the workforce unless they are managed correctly and speedily.

The important point is to recognise that some people wear a disguise when at work. Understand this and its implications. Key to this is Communication, the topic covered in the next instalment of ‘Natural Processes’.

=========================================================================================================

Rob Horlock specialises in helping the commercial side of businesses to manage projects ands improve individual and team working efficiencies. If you would like to find out more, see http://www.ef-ef.co.uk or email: info@ef-ef.co.uk

Time is Gold

Guest blog by Nishada Silva

We all have heard the saying “Time is Gold”, which emphasizes the value of time. The problem with that quote is that
if you lose gold you have a chance of recovering it, while if you waste time it’s gone forever! In this fast moving world where we seem to have thousands of things to do and so little time to do them, learning to manage your time is essential. Managing a blog while working as a software engineer and doing a course in Internet Marketing is not easy but, if you do some self analysis, you are likely to find some time wasters.
Below are a few things that I did to save more time to do things that are really important to me.

Reduce time spent on Social Media / Social Networking sites

Without a doubt social media can play a big role in branding your business, but if you are not careful it can be very addictive and a huge time waster. Facebook is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to wasting office hours which is the reason more and more companies are blocking access to Facebook. With tiny applications and lots of neat little questionnaires it is very easy to be drawn to social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. As a blogger, I can’t neglect social networking sites but I can’t afford to waste time on them either. So now, what I do is spend about 15-20 minutes in the morning on social media sites answering mails, etc and in the evening spend around 1 hour checking out the relevant groups and joining in the discussions. You have to find your own way to handle social networking sites but make sure to cut down on the unnecessary time spent on them.

Don’t mix business with pleasure

Having a separate e-mail account for your personal e-mails and work related e-mails is a must. Some people completely shut down their e-mail when working, to reduce the disturbance. If you can’t afford to do that, in case you get important business mail, it is always a good idea to have a separate e-mail for work only purposes. If you are heavily into social media then it is a good idea to have a separate mail for social media sites as well 🙂

Remove all unnecessary games

The concept is simple, if you don’t have it you can’t play it! This applies to Facebook games like Mafia, Warbook, etc. The problem with these games is that, to be successful, they require you to be constantly online. And the competitive nature in us kicks in and we strive to be the best of the lot. You will keep saying “I will quit when I reach this level and that”, but very few get around doing it. Do yourself a favor and uninstall them as soon as you finish reading this post….

The above three tips helped me a lot in saving time for the things that are really important to me. I hope the tips will be helpful to you as well. Now that I have stuck to a regular posting pattern I’m finding it easier to get more and more work done. Now, I have time to work on my affiliate marketing and the earnings are improving. Once you start to see the benefits, it becomes really easy to get rid of those bad habits. So give yourself a week and see the difference 🙂

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Nishada Silva has being making money online for close to two years. He uses Forex trading , affiliate marketing and blogging to make money. You can visit his blog to learn more about Making money online from blogging.

Looking for a new job? Lots of help and advice here

Zen and the Art of Business Start Up – Watering

How the hell, one might say, Zen relates to a business start-up?

To start with, Zen gives a way, which focuses upon direct experience rather than theoretical knowledge. So, out goes the argument that prescribes an MBA to start your business. We have a level playing field- as long as you are willing to learn.

In this article series I would present small practical ‘taken for granted’ ideas to supercharge your business start-up process. Wait till the end to grab the ’sutra’.

I was once given responsibility to water plants in my dad’s garden. It had to be daily, twice a day. Most plants were nearly dead. Two of them caught my attention. One was a three feet stump rooted in dry mud. Another was an empty pot, half-filled with damp soil. I saw no reason to water them. But orders were orders. Every day I indulged in this seemingly pointless exercise. ‘All they need is daily water’, my dad stressed repeatedly.

It’s a pain to do something you believe is useless and yields no obvious results. Somehow I started to think that my dad wanted me to do this just to keep me busy. I carried on, howsoever reluctantly. Every morning as a religion just before my breakfast, and, every night before my dinner I watered the dead plants. A few weeks passed.

Then something amazing happened. I started to enjoy the activity slightly. By now, I had stopped worrying whether watering would actually help the plants. I was just performing something without expectations. Because the task started to become a chore, I somehow had to learn to enjoy it. And lo! It was like meditation. Twice a day I was enjoying something with no worries about results. Think about it, how many such activities we do normally? I thought hard, but found none. Everything we do has an attached expectation.

Brand New Life

Brand New Life

Then, one fine morning the empty pot had a sapling. A brand new life was sprouting out of, what I considered to be, a bottomless pit that had been soaking all the water. The dry stump too showed signs of green growth. Suddenly, the whole garden looked alive in that moment of astonishment. Hard work paid off. Did I worry about this all that while?

Your small business also needs constant watering. Every day. Find out what constitutes ‘watering’ for your business. Is it daily networking? Or, honing your core skills? Or, seeking and learning ways of marketing? Although watering is directly related to growth, you would find myriads of activities in your business, which are not directly related to results. For example, learning some html if you have a web-based business. The knowledge of HTML wouldn’t come handy straightaway, or, may be never as you can’t be proficient enough. That doesn’t mean you don’t sharpen this skill. Remember, I had dead plants to water. Find out activities that you believe are essential to your start-up. They might not come into play right now, but remember that you need them in the long run. Do them as a religion. Enjoy them. You would soon find growth popping out of a seemingly dead well.

This article was kindly donated by Hersh Bhardwaj. You can find out more about Hersh’s work here.

Nipping it in the bud

Today I have been spraying weeds with weedkiller. Nettles, Docks, Buttercups, Thistles and Ragwort grow rapidly at this time of the year and if they aren’t kept under control, they will be covering the fields and there’ll soon be no grass left for the horses to eat. We have a backpack which holds 20 litres of diluted weedkiller – 20 litres of liquid is quite heavy when you have to lift it up behind you and strap it to your back! It’s a horrible job and one that I’ve been putting off for several weeks. The result of this prevarication is that some of the weeds are huge and they will require more than one dose of weedkiller to finish them off. So I’ve made the job harder and longer than it should have been.

The parallels in the workplace are obvious. When issues and problems arise, how often do we wait and see if they will resolve themselves? How often do we leave them and hope that they will be insignificant in the overall scheme of things? Do we avoid confrontation, which would resolve the matter, in favour of short term harmony?

In almost every instance that you can think of, it is better to deal with the problem early before it develops into something much worse. This is particularly true when managing projects and underlines the importance of both having an Issue Log, of some description and of aggressively managing the issues raised on it. Don’t assume that everyone is a diligent as you, so proactively ask your people to tell you their top three issues at any point in time. This should ensure that you are continually on top of the current issues within your project and you can head off any potential crises before they escalate.

Don’t leave it until you need to apply the weedkiller for the second time!

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Rob Horlock specialises in part time project management and in helping the commercial side of businesses to manage projects ands improve individual and team working efficiencies. If you would like to find out more, see www.ef-ef.co.uk or email: info@ef-ef.co.uk If you’re looking for a new job – advice here: www.mynextrole.co.uk