When management keeps secrets: a tale of lost value

Dear upper management: don’t keep secrets from the employees on the ground! It’s so hard to do your job and stay productive when management is hiding the fact that hundreds of new employees are being added to the payroll (thus making compliance enforcement harder) and hiding who the real customers for their new products are.

Instead, make sure your managers are kept in the loop with regular emails and meetings. Employees will be more motivated if they know what they’re working on, rather than being told to add features that don’t even make sense for what the project is for. If you don’t want to speak directly to your employees, tell your managers so they can tell the employees themselves.

It may be easier for upper management to be the only ones knowing what’s really going on, but the effects on the rest of your company are not worth it. CEOs: don’t keep secrets.

Employees who won’t comply

Dear employees: when your manager says to comply, listen. It’s much easier when everyone is able to work together as a team instead of working against each other. Employee compliance is a tough job at the best of times, and it’s even harder if the people who are supposed to be assisting you with compliance are the ones that won’t comply with you.

Unless you’re dying, taking a sick day is lazy and should be considered direct sabotage of corporate assets. Food poisoning isn’t contagious, anyway! It’s most important that you be present and ready to assist in the office whenever you are needed. In order to make the workplace run smoothly, all employees need to COMPLY.

How to cope with a career-ending injury

It can happen to the worst of us: you’re running down the field doing the thing you love most, you jump up in the air, you land wrong, and then you find you can hardly walk. It’s especially annoying if it happens right before the big tournament you were going to participate in and your team might have even nominated you for a Callahan afterwards.

An injury like that can make anyone sad. But Alec Roman’s Advanced Recommendations is here to help. Just remember: R.U.G.

  1. Remind yourself that you were VERY good at your sport
  2. Understand that you will never love anything as much again
  3. Get yourself buried in work

Remind yourself that you were VERY good at your sport

It’s simple. If you had a career-ending injury, that means you had a career in the first place. That means you were pretty good at what you were doing. You can pass the time in physical therapy reminiscing on some of your coolest plays, or how it felt to hang out with your teammates. Remind yourself that you were important to your team, and that they may have trouble continuing without you. This is all important to understand the severity of your injury.

Understand that you will never love anything as much again

Don’t delude yourself with wishful thinking. If you had your hobbies figured out and you’re already an adult, it’s very unlikely that you will find anything else that you enjoy as much in the future. If you hold out hope that you will find something else to love, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Brace yourself for a life of boredom and frustration.

Get yourself buried in work

Getting an injury is sad. Losing your only passion is even sadder. You’ll need something to distract yourself from all this sadness. I recommend throwing yourself into work as much as possible. Do all the tasks you’re assigned to, and more; ask for overtime, and ask for a promotion. The more time you spend doing and thinking about work, the less time you will have to be sad. If you find yourself feeling upset on the weekends, get a second job. There’s really no better way to cope.

These tried-and-true steps are guaranteed to help you recover emotionally from a career-ending injury. Please comment if they have helped you.

Why the Nashville Naked Mole Rats didn’t deserve the win

Yes, their defense was really impressive for a team playing savage. But the observer was a total incompetent who didn’t call ANY travels, even when someone had obviously taken a whole step. The Cuttlefish should have called everything they could. With such an incompetent observer, they could have even made calls when no rules were actually broken!

The Cuttlefish defense was far superior to the Naked Mole Rats’. Gwen Short made nearly all of her bids, and could clearly outrun any of her opponents. If a foul hadn’t been called on her point near the end, the Cuttlefish doubtless would have been able to make up all of the points that they were behind. It’s clear to anyone with half a brain that the Cuttlefish were the superior team, and the Naked Mole Rats were beginners who got lucky.

Prioritize customer voices by minimizing influence silos

We all know how it feels to be ensconced in an influence silo: ideation stagnates, synergy is unreachable, and nobody ever circles back around to CX! The solution is simple: stop moving sprint goalposts and get the ball rolling back to moving the needle.

A common misconception is that best practice is to constantly alter your timeline in order to ensure product quality. In actuality, touching base while staying consistent is more important. You may need to bring in an outside influence to take a helicopter view of things and focus on your core competencies. Make sure you have the buy-in of employees both inside and outside your department: this is a good way to empower lower-ranked employees by giving them and important task.

Dogfooding is all well and good, but occasionally, an influence silo can be as large as a whole company. At that point, it’s time to bring in the big guns and acknowledge the elephant in the room: your true priority is customer experience, NOT employee opinions!

Make sure your clients are truly experiencing the bleeding-edge version of your project. The process for getting it to them may have a lot of moving parts, but it’s likely you’ll just need to think outside the box a little. Once customer voices are prioritized, a company can truly live up to its values.

Quality of life: goal or setback?

“Quality of life” has been a corporate buzzword recently, next to other useless neologisms like “work-life balance” and “employee morale.” Many managers have even been convinced that “quality of life” for employees is something admirable to aim for. But with even an elementary analysis of corporate productivity principles, it becomes obvious that these managers are only deluding themselves.

It’s simple to see why. The first word in the phrase is the culprit: “quality.” Of course, prioritizing quality in the workplace is important! However, as all good managers know, product quality comes first. Next is quality of customer experience. Since quality is a limited resource, allotting any amount of “quality” to employee lives means that less quality remains to allocate to product and customer experience.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should spend your time deliberately trying to reduce the quality of employees’ lives, unless said reductions in quality directly impact the quality of your product. Anything else, like placing thumbtacks all over the floor so your employees will step on them, has proven to be a waste of valuable time and resources.

Everyone should play Ultimate

You may have heard of Ultimate before. (Perhaps you’ve heard of “Ultimate Frisbee,” an inaccurate and copyright-protected name that only total newbies ever use.) It’s a wonderful sport, simple yet deeply engaging, which totally lives up to its name. Whether you’re looking to pick up a new hobby, you’re into serious exercise, you have a strategic mind, or you just love watching exciting matches, Ultimate could be the sport for you.

Why Ultimate instead of another sport?

The rules of Ultimate are extremely simple and easy to learn: it takes about five minutes to learn to play. However, the more experienced the players are, the deeper the strategy gets. Even a beginner can follow a game, but a true Ultimate player never stops learning more about the game.

Ultimate has another advantage over other sports: how easy it is to start playing. All you need is some players, a disc, and a field. Rule calls are made by the players themselves (although higher levels of play will typically have an observer or two to help with rule calls). Unlike football or soccer where you might need specialized markings, equipment, or a referee, Ultimate works anywhere.

What can Ultimate do for me?

I’m glad you asked. Ultimate can improve your sense of ethics, help your goal-setting, and be a great way to exercise and make new friends. Someone who has never played Ultimate may have difficulty understanding exactly how much is riding on a match, and how much being a player changes you. The facts are simple: Ultimate is hands-down the best method for personal, social, and athletic growth.

If you haven’t already signed up for a team (and you don’t have an injury or disability keeping you from playing), why not? Go ahead and do it! I promise you won’t regret it.

Methods for increasing employee productivity

Here are several of my top methods for increasing employee productivity when your department is having any kind of issues.

Make sure they know who’s boss

If your employees aren’t working hard enough, it may just be because you haven’t trained them well enough to know you’re in charge. I recommend making their responsibilities and requirements very clear, as loudly as you can. If they are underperforming, let them know that as well. There’s nothing like a commanding voice and firm body language to let them know that THEY work for YOU.

Keep their eyes on the prize

Remind employees what they’re really working on. It’s so easy to get lost in the small stuff when you have a lot to do, but if you keep posters on the wall to remind them of their values and of the company’s motivation, employees will be willing to work much harder for much longer.

Enforce consequences for mistakes

Employees clocking out too early? Showing up to work late? Making simple errors? These issues are easy to solve, with one simple word: consequences. For any instance of noncompliance, assign mandatory overtime, take away lunchroom permissions, or shorten breaks. At worst, threaten immediate termination. Your employees will shape up in no time.

Setting S.M.U.R.T. goals in the workplace

Do you have trouble setting goals in the workplace? Is your boss always on your back about your inability to clearly articulate what you’re doing in a sprint? Try setting S.M.U.R.T. goals!

S: Specific

Be specific about what you’re going to do. Don’t just say “work on security tech;” say “add wireless support to the border alteration menu.” The more specific, the better. One of my favorite employees once presented me with a twenty-page packet explaining one of her goals after a disagreement we’d had. I congratulated her on finally understanding exactly what I’d wanted.

M: Model

Your goals should be perfect, a model for all other goals that come after them. It’s a waste of management’s time to have to workshop them with you. Make sure all of the wrinkles are ironed out before you show your goal to anyone. Even better, write a goal so good that there are never any wrinkles to iron out.

U: Ultra-good

Remember, quality comes above all. Think of something you could definitely achieve, and then go above and beyond that. Don’t just do your best, do better. Making your goals Ultra-good will make your employer more successful.

R: Relevant

Make sure your goal is relevant to what your employer is actually trying to achieve, and not something irrelevant like “improve work-life balance” or “recover from burnout.” A better goal than these would be one that focuses on the best interests of management, not yourself.

T: Timely

Never turn in work after a deadline. Never submit a goal late. Above all, it is important to make sure that you achieve your goals on time. As I always like to say: overtime is paid for a reason, and work-life balance is just a buzzword.

Thank you for reading this post, and I’ll see you next time with more of Alec Roman’s Advanced Recommendations.