10 Rules to Look Like you are Working Hard

Sometimes I want a lazy day.

Sometimes I don’t feel like producing good work.

I often blog about productivity, about removing purposeless-busy-ness from our lives; but sometimes I don’t car and I want to give the impression that I am really working hard.

Here are 10 golden rules for looking like you are working hard:

George Costanza’s 10 Commandments For ‘Working Hard’

  1. Never walk without a document in your hands. People with documents in their hands look like hardworking employees heading for important meetings. People with nothing in their hands look like they’re heading for the cafeteria. People with a newspaper in their hand look like they’re heading for the toilet. Above all, make sure you carry loads of stuff home with you at night, thus generating the false impression that you work longer hours than you do.
  2. Use computers to look busy.  Any time you use a computer, it looks like “work” to the casual observer. You can send and receive personal e-mail, chat, and generally have a blast without doing anything remotely related to work. These aren’t exactly the societal benefits that the proponents of the computer revolution would like to talk about but they’re not bad either. When you get caught by your boss — and you will get caught — your best defence is to claim you’re teaching yourself to use new software, thus saving valuable training dollars.

    George Costanza, from Seinfeld

  3. Keep a messy desk.  Top management can get away with a clean desk. For the rest of us, it looks like we’re not working hard enough. Build huge piles of documents around your workspace. To the observer, last year’s work looks the same as today’s work; it’s volume that counts. Pile them high and wide. If you know somebody is coming to your cubicle, bury the document you’ll need halfway down in an existing stack and rummage for it when he/she arrives.
  4. Use voice mail.  Never answer your phone if you have voice mail. People don’t call you just because they want to give you something for nothing — they call because they want you to do work for them. That’s no way to live. Screen all your calls through voice mail. If somebody leaves a voice-mail message for you and it sounds like impending work, respond during lunch hour when you know they’re not there — it looks like you’re hardworking and conscientious even though you’re being a devious weasel.
  5. Look impatient & annoyed.  One should also always try to look impatient and annoyed to give your bosses the impression that you are always busy.
  6. Leave the office late.  Always leave the office late, especially when the boss is still around. You could read magazines and storybooks that you always wanted to read but have no time until late before leaving. Make sure you walk past the boss’ room on your way out. Send important e-mail at unearthly hours (e.g. 9:35 p.m., 7:05 a.m., etc.) and during public holidays.
  7. Use sighing for effect.  Sigh loudly when there are many people around, giving the impression that you are under extreme pressure.
  8. Opt for the stacking strategy.  It is not enough to pile lots of documents on the table. Put lots of books on the floor etc. (thick computer manuals are the best).
  9. Build your vocabulary.  Read up on some computer magazines and pick out all the jargon and new products. Use the phrases freely when in conversation with bosses. Remember; they don’t have to understand what you say, but you sure sound impressive.
  10. Don’t get caught.  MOST IMPORTANT: Don’t forward this page’s URL to your boss by mistake!

Source: http://www.jumbojoke.com/george_costanzas_10_commandments_for_working_hard.html

PS This might be a joke, but it is also a good checklist for identifying people around you who may be putting more effort into appearances of productivity than into real productivity (or yourself…)

 

10 Things we Hate about Bosses

Great Place to Work Organisation

10 things that employees surveyed last year by the Great Place to Work organisation said contributed to poor management:

  1. Lack of Recognition and Appreciation – employees who believe that managers do not really appreciate the work, energy and effort put in during their days and sometimes evenings
  2. Poor Communication – employees want to find out about their company performance and direction from their boss, not the rumour mill, nor the newspapers
  3. Thoughtless Interaction – passing by without a smile or any acknowledgement
  4. Inconsistent Behaviour – broken promises, it is often the smaller broken promises that really grate upon the employees; say one thing, act differently
  5. Favouritism – we all have favourites, good managers learn to appreciate diversity
  6. Exclusion from Decision Making – the less control employees feel, the greater they suffer from stress
  7. Lack of Clarity and Vision – unclear expectations, unclear connection between the work employees are doing and the overall mission of the company
  8. Egotistical Managers – taking credit and passing blame
  9. Treating Employees like Numbers – a transactional relationship, where emotion and fun has been lost in translation
  10. Ignoring Performance Issues – it frustrates good performers when poor performers are not being challenged

*Based on Great Place to Work employee surveys worldwide

Twelve True Traits of Transformational Leadership

Photo Credit: blurredfoto
  1. Let Go of Things Others Can Do – Avoid busy-ness as a sign of productivity
  2. Encourage Initiative – Allow falling-forward-failure, Destroy comfort-zone; The Institutional Yes
  3. Direction and Discipline – Ensure people have goals and know how they are doing
  4. Excruciating Accountability – hold themselves and others to clear process goals (under own control)
  5. Focus – Don’t dilute energy; Never, ever, ever more than 5 Priorities, and 1 Un-Missable Priority.
  6. Delegate – to challenge, develop and empower people
  7. Coach – to ensure success
  8. Reinforce Good Attempts – Reward thoughtful action, not “correctness”
  9. Share Everything – resources, information, knowledge and skills
  10. Value Each Individual – with Trust and Respect
  11. Give Questions, not Answers – Provide support without taking over
  12. Practice what they Preach“One should preach every day; if necessary, use words” St Francis of Assisi

Reading on Leadership

The 4 Paths of our Working Life

My last post was on Meaningful Contribution.  I talked about three questions about the work you are doing: does it serve others? do you do it well? and do you love doing it?

The 4 Paths in our Working Life

Taking two of those questions: does it serve others? and do you love doing it?  I put together today’s 2×2 graphic.

The man in the middle is like a new employee starting first day at a new company.  Which path will he take?

The 4 Paths are:

  1. Quit and Stayed – he will keep showing up for the job, but do the minimum possible effort in order to not lose his job.  He is not satisfied.  He is not contributing.  He is worried about showing up on time, looking busy when the boss is watching, sending emails at 9pm to let everyone see that he is busy – but he is not contributing.  He is a cancer to those around him.  He will suck their satisfaction.  He will work to ensure that others are being regularly interrupted and unproductive so that he can feel comfortable in the company of slackers.
  2. Coasting – he enjoys his job, but has been focussing on the aspects that benefit him.  He is not there to serve the team nor the customer. He doesn’t do a bad job, but is not going to spend more than the minimum to hit minimum quality.
  3. Burn Out – he is good at his job, but has not taken his own growth as a person seriously.  He is running like a sprinter, not a marathon runner.  It is his responsibility to work at a rhythm that allows him to contribute more each day.  If he has too much work he needs to improve his work tools, his work methods.
  4. Engaged – he has found a good balance between enjoying the work, doing it well and improving his work.  His energy serves as a boost to those who are around him.  His contribution is sustainable and growing.  He is on the path to being an “A” Player – Self-Motivated and Experienced.

Bosses, Environment and Culture

The man in the central box could go any way.

Lou Holtz once replied to an Accenture partner’s question: “What do you do with unmotivated players?” with a snort of derision.  “Un-motivated players!?!  This is their dream.”

He returned to the question later and said “I guarantee that day 1, every new employee that walks through the door arrives motivated, with a desire to contribute.  If a year later he is no longer motivated, it is something you guys have done that has removed that motivation.”

Our parents, our school teachers, our past bosses, our current friends all contribute to our current state of contribution and satisfaction.  We can push our kids, our friends, our employees out of the middle circle into any of the 4 paths.

What do you do to make the top right path the most likely?

Amazon Staff Meetings: “No Powerpoint”

“We have study hall at the beginning of our meetings.” says Jeff Bezos.

Staff meetings at Amazon begin with 30 minutes of silent reading.

Powerpoint is easy for presenter, hard for audience

Jeff Bezos of Amazon

“The traditional kind of corporate meeting starts with a presentation. Somebody gets up in front of the room and presents with a powerpoint presentation, some type of slide show.  In our view you get very little information, you get bullet points.  This is easy for the presenter, but difficult for the audience.  And so instead, all of our meetings are structured around a 6 page narrative memo.”

All meetings are structured around a 6 page memo

“When you have to write your ideas out in complete sentences, complete paragraphs it forces a deeper clarity.”

Why don’t you read the memos in advance?

“Time doesnt come from nowhere. This way you know everyone has the time. The author gets the nice warm feeling of seeing their hard work being read.”

“If you have a traditional ppt presentation, executives interrupt.  If you read the whole 6 page memo, on page 2 you have a question but on on page 4 that question is answered.”

And so that is what we do, we just sit and read.

“Think Complex, Speak Simple”

I love this idea.  In our communications courses we talk about “think complex, speak simple”.  It is hard work to prepare well enough to be able to speak simple.  Most presenters are figuring out what they really want to say as they are presenting.  This is a terrible waste of an audience.

This video is “The Single Most Important Ingredient in Becoming Influential”:

These quotes come from the Charlie Rose interview with Jeff Bezos.  It is available here: http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/12656

NEW August 2015: View the Original email memo sent by Jeff Bezos (thanks to Pete Abilla)

P.S. If you liked this post you might also like 16 Lessons from the European HR Directors Summit and Zero Executive Presence: When I speak, People don’t listen. Why is that?

Discussion of this Post

Twitter:

Lots of Debate on Reddit:

Main Discussion Page http://www.reddit.com/r/technology/comments/1ebavs/amazon_staff_meetings_no_powerpoint/

  • [friedice5005] Powerpoint isn’t the problem. It’s a very useful tool to augment information you are trying to get across. The problem is people people who are bad at it using it as a crutch. Powerpoint should basically be an outline of what you’re talking about with MAJOR discussion points and any images or graphs you need to show. It should not be blocks of text that you read verbatim.
  • [via Yajirobi ] if you dont integrate people into it, they just sleep. Forcing them with made up questions is a bad idea too. Getting random questions from the audience is the best way to do it. Its a GIFT. They make the presentation good for you, without any effort from your part.
  • [via EngineerVsMBA]I experienced this system, and I loved it. I will use it in every job from here on out. Let me explain why:1.) It requires meaningful preparation by the presenter. They cannot hide behind pretty slides, and you can’t use the usual confusion tactics. If you can’t fit it in six pages, you didn’t prepare enough.2.) You know everyone is going to read it.3.) These meetings are intense! The participants can’t just sit back and relax. They are digging into it. If you are the presenter, you can use that time to send some emails, or do some other work.4.) People with poor communication skills can’t suck the life out of a meeting. It allows good ideas to come out. There is always that guy that talks too much, and this meeting shuts him up.5.) This isn’t for the every-day meeting. This is for the multi-million-dollar business deal. Anything you would typically reserve for an hour-long power-point presentation.Power-point is for selling a concept or an idea. The written word is for discussion. Anyways, a good exec will print out the power points and make notes on those anyways. Might as well tell him exactly what you think instead of letting him interpret your spoken word.

Related Posts on Meetings:

The Single Most Important aspect of High Performing Teams

“How do you create a happy environment?”
“Simple. I removed all the unhappy people.”

I can’t remember who said this, but it rings true to me.

To get the hot air balloon higher, it is simpler to remove the lead weights than to pump more hot air into the balloon canopy.

Single most important aspect: Remove those that suck


* This post was originally my response to this question on quora.


There is a lot of buzz around Pinterest these days, but the social network that most keeps me entertained while learning is Quora.  It connects people around interests.  I have got some great answers to questions regarding research, articles I am writing, places to visit…

Some of my answers on quora:

3 types of Dangerous People

The 3 types of Dangerous People

Get rid of them, photo: Avital Pinnick

Micheal Maddock writes about 3 types of people to fire immediately.  This applies beyond the world of entrepreneurs and work teams.  It applies in all of life.

  1. Victims – they want the problems.
  2. Critics – they won’t and they don’t want you to either.
  3. Know-it-Alls – they refuse to learn.

If you want to improve quality of life, stay away from people that reduce your joy.

Question:  In the case that it is impossible to get away from someone of type 1, 2 or 3 do you have any ideas for antidotes?

6 Competencies for the Future of Labor

According to the report “Are They Really Ready to Work? Employers’ Perspectives on the Basic Knowledge and Applied Skills of New Entrants to the 21st Century U.S. Workforce“, the top 6 competencies for success in the labor market today are:

  1. Networking – connecting to people and sharing your and their goals (Networking in 7 simple steps)
  2. Enthusiasm – showing interest and energy
  3. Professionalism – show up on time, respect others
  4. Communication Skills – listening, context and timing, message (Improve your Speaking, Listen better)
  5. Teamwork – acting as part of a team, sometimes leading, sometimes following
  6. Problem Solving and Critical Thinking – solution orientation, data driven analysis, structured thinking (6 steps for business problem solving)