Won’t You Be My Neighbor? When Email is Not Enough

Posted by Richard Moran & filed under Uncategorized.

shutterstock_163770707

How often do we hear people describing and complaining about the volume of emails in the inbox? A number I hear often is 200 per day. Ouch. That is not a contest I want to win.

Anyone who is dealing with that many emails is: 1. Probably sending out too many messages and that’s why so many are coming back, and 2. Spending all day draining email instead of working on more productive activiites. Not good. Sure, email is an incredible communications tool and can increase productivity 24/7. We are addicted and I admit, I am an email junkie. We are so accustomed to it that we look for nuances and are prone to adding complexity to it. A simple addition of a punctuation mark, or clicking on BOLD or italic or a carefully placed CC can strike fear or joy.

But there is another element to email that is pervasive and hurting organizations – email is too easy. It is so much easier to send an email than to engage with someone in a real up close and personal interaction. Part of the joy of work, we are taught, is the sense of colleagueship and the relationships we build.

Can we get to know colleagues through email alone? Probably not.

A meaningful career is not derived from the number of emails we send or receive.

Instead of sending an email to the guy in the office next to you, say hello. When people talk to each other and know each other and innovation is more likely to happen. Imagine if the Beatles had sent emails to each other.

The alternatives are not altogether appealing. No one I know wants to attend more meetings, and conference calls are in that same category. At least with conference calls we hear voices and can detect accents or emotions that help us understand others a little more.

Email allows us to multitask in complicated ways. Email allows us to work at home. Email allows us to communicate with many all at once. (One organization I know sent layoff notices through email. It was a long email and probably could have been one word: UNFORTUNATELY.) Email is the enabler of today’s work world.

We are learning to be even more efficient by sending ever-shorter messages. Email has become like Twitter – the shorter the better. One colleague of mine would respond to emails with cryptic responses like TL;NR (Too Long; Not Read) or WTF (What the Heck)

Once a relationship is firmly established, email can work in more effective ways. I can send an email to my children and although it may be short, they know I love them.

I am not suggesting at all that any one abandon email. I am saying that email alone is not enough to build an organization. Emails don’t get invited to birthday parties or show up at the Friday afternoon beer bust. Go make some friends at the coffee machine.

Photo credit: Shitterstock/Winnondshutterstock_163770707

Is Your Career Clock Ticking?

Posted by Richard Moran & filed under Uncategorized.

shutterstock_159660959

 

First, there is the notion of, “If I don’t do it now, I will never be able to do it…” Think of the traditional entry-level jobs post-college or a career that requires you to be a certain age, like a military pilot. You are only able to do those jobs at a certain young age. If you know what you want to do, don’t let calendar avoidance eliminate pursuit of a dream.

But I am thinking of the other parts of the career timeline spectrum. Recently, while chatting with a woman about her future she said impatiently, “My career clock is ticking.” She went on to explain, “I only have one or two jobs left in me, I better get out there if I am going to accomplish what I want.” She was working backward from retirement, not looking forward from college.

Most of us are somewhere between right out of college and working backwards from retirement but the career timeline principle still applies. Who does a career timeline apply to and when? Answer is everyone and all the time. Here’s why:

  • Entry-level jobs can stay entry level for a long, long time if you are not careful. Sometimes a move is necessary to get past the new kid on the block. Break out of those “entry-level” jobs as soon as you can and accelerate your timeline.
  • Mid-level career jobs can be a waste of talent if you are not careful. It’s easy to get stuck. And, when you are “stuck” it is easy to be eliminated when there is a downsizing. If you have ever uttered the phrase, “By this point in my career I thought I would be further along” you need to ask yourself very tough questions. Are you doing what you want to do? Are you making a difference? Most importantly, how long have you been at this and how long do you want to do this? It may be time to see if your career timeline will allow you to do other things.
  • Everyone reaches a point where you are no longer preparing for the next thing. At some point you are not preparing for graduate school. You are not preparing for a “real” job. You are not preparing for what you really want to do. As one friend put it, “I am no longer rehearsing for the next thing.” If that’s the case and the preparation is over, is this where you want to be?
  • Self assessment is always useful. Gauge where you are relative to where you want to be for your age. If you are on target or way ahead, no changes may be needed. If you are way behind it might be time to plot out the career timeline and make changes.

When it comes to your career, are you working from a timeline? If not, put a little thought into where you are, where you want to be and what is left. The timeline can guide you more than you think.

Photo credit: Shutterstock/RTimages

Best Advice: Never Ever Say “Whatever”

Posted by Richard Moran & filed under Uncategorized.

W

“The word ‘whatever’ should never, ever be used. It is a throwaway word. Anyone who hears you say it thinks you don’t give a hoot about any decision that needs to be made.” So said an early mentor, Wilford Butler, who made me get a proper haircut and learn how to order wine. He was right. Taylor Swift could write a song about it.

The problem is not the word itself. The problem is that any time the word is used it means you are not making a choice — and life is all about small choices. Seemingly small decisions are a part of each and every workday, and it is easy to ignore them. When the word “whatever” is used as a reply, you are simply not making a decision. Try these situation tidbits on for size…

  • Where do you want to go for lunch? Whatever!
  • Which project team do you want to be on? Whatever!
  • Do you want to meet with customers this week? Whatever!
  • Are you interested in a promotion? Whatever!
  • Your dog may be dying. Whatever!

It took me a while to realize that, however important to a life, the really big decisions are few. Where one lives, one’s faith, one’s spouse, all about children, where one goes to college are just some of the big ones. Try to make all the right big choices. But when it comes to all the smaller ones, don’t defer, don’t say whatever. Never ever.

Careful analysis reveals the following possible definitions of the whatever word:

  • I don’t care.
  • You make the decision for me; I will blame you later.
  • If I knew the answer, I would tell you. So leave me alone.
  • I am not listening.
  • Of all the options presented, none are good, but I will make you suffer with my ambivalence.
  • I am really pissed off and will hold you responsible for the decision you make for me.
  • I don’t have an opinion so I will fill the air with this useless word.
  • I am resigned to being a victim.

The word should only be used in sentences like, “I love you and will win your affections whatever it takes.”

Using the word “whatever” is a bad habit like showing PowerPoint slides with print too small to read. Break the habit, before all those small decisions slip away. It’s not all the word, it’s about being ambivalent, wishy-washy or being labeled as someone who’s “not all in.”

Be all in. It makes a difference in your career and your life.