I Resolve… to Increase Performance at Work

Dear, Readers,

Let me ask YOU a question for a change. We’re a few weeks into the new year. This is the time when all those good intentions about going to the gym, eating healthier, and reducing debt/spending less seem to go by the wayside. If one of your New Year’s Resolutions was to increase productivity on the job, how are you doing?

Athlete Running Through Finish LineIncreasing performance at work is a common goal for professionals and organizations. It may come in the form of raised sales quotas, heightened customer satisfaction, or expanding your company’s reach digitally or through traditional brick and mortar.  But how can you take concrete steps to make these pie-in-the-sky targets a reality? Question everything.

Get Organized. January is a great time to take a look at your operational and project systems already in place, right down to the in-boxes on your team’s desks. Keep in mind that your organizational style may differ from your employees or co-workers. A pristine desk may help you concentrate, but Barry over in accounting can miraculously find any piece of information requested in all those piles on his desk! If you spend way too much time and aggravation trying to find past correspondence in Outlook, spend an hour or two now to organize for the coming year. I like this article, 10 Tips for Organizing Your E-mail, because it doesn’t give a one-size-fits-all answer.  You decide if you’re a searcher, a filer, or a tagger, and it suggests solutions for you.

Work Efficiently. Analyze your workday for inefficiencies. Return phone calls when people are more likely to be in their offices (8:30-9:30 a.m.), rather than in meetings or at lunch (10-2). Set aside blocks of time to check e-mail, deal with paperwork, or your odious task of choice. You’ll get more accomplished if you don’t interrupt yourself by feeling the need to read every e-mail the instant it dings. In fact, turn that alert off! Figure out your most productive times, and schedule your most difficult tasks according to your own circadian rhythms. You may need to let staff and co-workers know when you are not to be interrupted; a closed door is usually a pretty good hint.

Minimize Distractions. A recent survey from Ask.com found that noisy colleagues are the biggest distraction for workers, not Facebook or texting (though they are up there in the top 10)! It may be difficult to get complete peace and quiet in an open office environments. Wearing earbuds or noise cancelling headphones can help. Did you know that room temperature can also affect productivity at work? As one who is perpetually cold, I completely concur! Office environments that are either too chilly or too warm can lead to a loss in performance, so set that thermostat at a nice Goldilocks “just right” temperature.

Productivity keyMaximize Meetings. Industry Week once called meetings “the Great White Collar Crime” and estimated they waste $37 billion a year. While it would be silly to imagine a business environment without meetings, always have an agenda and always start on time (those tardy Teddies will soon get the message). No one likes to spend more time in meetings discussing the work than actually doing the job. If team members have trouble keeping it brief, suggest standing meetings to keep powwows on point!

Fine Tune Communication. Communicate yearly goals clearly to staff and colleagues through verbal as well as written instructions. If there has been a communication problem with a certain coworker, try to figure out how to better reach that person. He or she may have a different learning style (i.e., visual vs. aural), so see if you can tailor your interaction to accommodate.  Set up check-ins with all vested parties to make sure the train is still on the right track and project tasks are being completed on schedule. You don’t want to micromanage, but still want to keep tabs on projects in which you are involved.

By taking a fresh look at the status quo now, you’ll reap the benefits by meeting those end-of-year goals in December.

Readers: How do you plan to be more productive at work this year?

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

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TextSpeak Tip-Off

Hi Anita!!!!

I wanna ask u for advice cuz i’m not getting any job intvws after 4 mo. of sending my resume to lots of biz and I don’t know Y. Lemme know what 2 do. Ur the best!!!

Dear, Texter Extraordinaire,

texting

Your cover letter could be the difference between getting a phone call for the interview and your résumé going in the “no” pile. While abbreviated answers work well on your cell phone, as a job seeker, you’ll want to be sure to use proper sentences in business correspondence. Below are a few important items to include in your cover letter, whether you attach it as a Word document or include it in the body of an email.

  • Include the job title you are applying for and where you saw the position advertised.
  • Outline how your qualifications make you a good fit for the job, briefly but not in shorthand.
  • Reiterate your contact information, even though it appears on your résumé or job application.

Re-read all correspondence before sending. Incorrect spelling, faulty grammar, and improper punctuation may raise a red flag with your potential new boss. Don’t trust your Smartphone’s auto-correct or the telltale red lines under misspelled words in Microsoft Word. Your computer’s grammar check can help with homophones such as “their,” “there,” or “they’re,” but there is no substitute for proofreading your work.

txting_cartoon

I’d like to offer one final admonition about overusing exclamation points. Here’s my rule of thumb: use one exclamation mark per sentence and one exclamatory sentence per paragraph. There are better ways to add excitement to your writing than exclamation point overindulgence. As we told my grandson when he was younger, “Use your words.”

Bottom line – you may not be getting any interviews because you’re not making a great first impression with your communications skills. Clean up your presentation of your résumé and cover letter, and I bet you’ll “clean up” on the number of interviews you get invited to as well.

Best of luck!

Anita

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Disclaimer

Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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