Email Writing Tip: Say What You Want First!

December 17, 2010 Leave a comment

I wanted to share a tip I received a number of years ago, which has greatly improved my business writing style and effectiveness. The simple tip is …. use the first sentence to clearly and concisely tell your reader what you want them to do with the email you are sending. That’s it – pure and simple!

Let’s take a look at two examples of an email I put together. Both emails are asking for the same thing. The first is what I would call an average email, while the second I would consider vastly improved by making one small change.

Read more…

Categories: Communication, Quick Tips Tags:

Kill Three Snakes, Find Three More – Repeat

December 15, 2010 Leave a comment

snake I was sitting in a meeting, when I heard my manager say, “Everyone should identify and kill three snakes.”  Like Indiana Jones, I rolled my eyes and thought, “I hate snakes! Why does it have to be snakes!”

Seriously – What he was really saying was we needed to identify and deal with our three largest organizational weaknesses.  He wanted some brain-power and people-power behind solving these areas, then repeat the cycle.

The key belief here is by identifying your organizational weaknesses, resolving them, then going back and finding your next batch of snakes – you build a methodical approach to improving your organization.  And by identifying three snakes at a time, you can deal with a manageable number of opportunity areas without diluting your focus from growing your business.  Let’s face it, you cannot build a ultra-successful organization by only focusing on eliminating weaknesses.  At some point, you need to focus on growing your business and/or using your strengths to hit the accelerator.

Hopefully after a few rounds of “snake killing”, you’ve addressed your biggest issues and can focus on business expansion and exploiting your strengths.

One key assumption is by applying focus to a weakness, you can actually kill (or at least tame) them.  When identifying which snakes to kill, you should keep that little nugget of information in mind.

Questions to identify your snakes and which ones you should be working on:

  1. What are my organizational weaknesses or gaps (aka – my snakes)?
  2. Which snakes have the greatest exposure to my company and/or organization?
  3. Which snakes can I have the greatest and fastest impact on?
  4. Do I know how to eliminate or minimize the exposure?



Top Management Blogs Rich in “Management Learning Calories”

December 13, 2010 Leave a comment

blog2I was recently checking out the Top 150 Management & Leadership Blogs posted by NOOP.NL only to be very disappointed in the depth of “How To” content in many of the blogs included in the list.  I’m not saying the sites included in the list were of poor quality or lacked value (ok – maybe some did).  However, as a person who is interested in the craft improving management and leadership, I felt a lot of the top sites didn’t give me much to fill-up my cup (i.e. low in management learning calories).

I did check out a number of these sites and stumbled on a couple of others where I was happy to see some well-done blogs serving-up content rich in management learning calories

Here are some of my favorites:

  1. Michael Hyatt – Intentional Leadership
  2. Management IQ (This one is a little dated in content – but archives seem rich)
  3. GTD Times
  4. Great Leadership
  5. Ramblings From a Glass Half Full
  6. Ask a Manager
  7. John Maxwell on Leadership (definitely more focus on leadership vs. management)
  8. All Things Workplace
  9. Management Craft
  10.  Management Excellence

I hope that you enjoy these sites – They’re good sites and good for you too!

Categories: Blogging Tags:

The Why’s and How’s of Mentorship

December 10, 2010 Leave a comment

I was asked the other day if I had some thoughts behind setting up a mentor/mentee relationship.  What a great question!!!  While I don’t have the “Manifesto” for Mentorship I do have a few thoughts around the topic that I thought would be worth putting in this blog.

I’ve always loved the idea of having (and being a mentor).  When done right, both experiences can be rewarding.

What’s The Value of Having a Mentor?

Having a teacher (aka – mentor) to help guide and push you is a remarkable way to increase the speed and quality of your learning journey.    You typically look for mentors because they know something that you don’t, or you can gain wisdom that you don’t get in any course or book.  Mentors can be great sounding boards and motivators.  And depending on mentor/mentee relationship, they can (and should) hold you accountable for reaching your goals and objectives. Read more…

Skills Matrix Scoring – A Simple Management Tool To Move Your Organization in the Right Direction

December 1, 2010 Leave a comment

As a manager, I have often found a need for an effective tool to help me identify:matrix

  • organizational strength and weakness areas
  • organizational training needs
  • individual development areas
  • organizational and individual flight risk patterns

Over time, I developed a simple excel Skills Matrix Scoring Spreadsheet that provides valuable “at a glance” information to help me ensure I’m managing my team to success.

Read more…

My Blogging Toolbox

November 20, 2010 Leave a comment

I’ve had a few people ask me about how I setup my blog. I thought I would use the question as an opportunity to write an entry to share some technologies and tools I have tripped upon during my blogging adventure.

Read on.. Read more…

Categories: Blogging Tags: ,

5 Ways to Get the Most From Your Workday

May 5, 2010 Leave a comment

Have you ever had a day you felt just got away from you? Here are some tips to help you get the most from your workday. They may not all work for you, but I’ve always found when I keep these principles in mind, I seem to get more done. clock

  1. Attack your day with purpose – When you first sit down and look at your To Do List, mark three things you must accomplish for the day, then tackle those first.
  2. Start your morning on the right foot – STOP! Don’t check your email first. Get something done! Make it a habit to knocks-off at least one or two To Do items before you check your email. When you check email, it can be easy to get your day derailed by someone else’s urgent items.
  3. Minimize impromptu interruptions – With instant messaging, cell phones, email pop-ups and friendly office neighbors, it’s easy to get interrupted from your work. When you need to focus on a project or a chunk of work, schedule a meeting with yourself. And when colleague interrupts you, say, “I’m in the middle of something, but I can spare a couple of minutes. What can I do for you?” This will more than likely keep the interruption to a minimum, and they may even think twice to interrupt again if it’s not important.
  4. Don’t “over-check” your email – How many times do you stop what you are doing to check or respond to email? Checking email constantly can derail your work rhythm and make you less efficient. Find two to three times a day to check and respond to email. Then when checking email, focus on what action item(s) you need to take. If it is a quick response, then respond. If it requires you to take action or a longer response, then put that on your To Do List to tackle when you have more time.
  5. Finish Strong – At then end of each day, assess whether you met your goals for the day and completed the necessary tasks, then update your To Do List and plan for your tomorrow. Not only will you feel like you accomplished more for the day, but you will feel like you are ready for the next day as you are leaving your office.

There is no greater satisfaction than leaving the office knowing you got your most important tasks completed (or at least moved forward) and feeling prepared for the next day.

QUESTION: What do you do to make sure you get the most from your work day?