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Getting Ahead of Yourself: Pre-crastination Pitfalls

What is pre-crastination? As defined by the Penn State University researchers in their study (which you’ll see below):

 

“We define pre-crastination as the tendency to complete, or at least begin, tasks as soon as possible, even at the expense of extra physical effort”

 

Now to the actual study. A recent Harvard Business Review article covered this subject and the Penn State University study where researchers had 9 different buckets of varying weight and told their students to carry them down an alley to a marker. The catch? The heaviest buckets were closest to the start line. Surprisingly, as students ran through the test, researchers saw the heavy buckets picked more and more. After the tests were completed, the researchers asked each student why they chose the heavier bucket and they answered, “[I] wanted to get the task done sooner.” That’s when researchers suggested that “we desire the mental relief of getting a task done so much that we expend extra effort to get it done.”

 

So, how many of you pre-crastinate to get tasks done more quickly? Have you looked at relatively normal administrative duties and tried to rush them? And if so, what do you think the long-term payoff is?

 

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Here’s one of many pre-crastination examples and the long-term problems with doing it.

 

Omitting Standard Email Salutations/Phrases

 

This isn’t about shortening the amount of content in your work emails; it’s about scrapping email salutations and key phrases. Going from this:

 

Hi Sally,

 

When you get a chance, I need a copy of last week’s sales data for this presentation.

 

Thanks,

Bob

 

To this:

 

I need a copy of last week’s sales data for this presentation.

 

Which one of those emails might mistakenly strike the wrong note with someone in the office? It’s not apparent at first, but if the latter, more abbreviated email becomes the norm to Sally, that email tone can come off negatively, causing unneeded time focused on whether that email was lifeless in its delivery, whether they did something wrong to offend the sender, etc. And research already proves we read emails differently to begin with, so by omitting key (emotionally, anyway) structures of an email to save time, it will have an adverse effect soon enough.

 

There are plenty of cases where pre-crastination at work is great, like tightening up meetings, for example; however, don’t get ahead of yourself on other things, like the email omissions above. You will open yourself up to negative ripple effects and errors. Besides, would you leave out greetings/salutations and other warm, inviting phrases on an email you’re sending to a client or prospect?

 

Create time-efficient routines that are productive, but most of all, make sure they are done right.

3 Key Elements of Effective Leadership

Ask any employee what the benchmarks of a good leader are and you’ll probably wind up with a handful of clichés, some standard characteristics and a few “outside the box” traits. Everything from exceptional communication skills to being brutally honest for the sake of the employee’s progress fall in line with being a followable leader.

 

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Here are three more great qualities of a leader.

 

Great Character

 

Leaders with great character earn the respect of their peers. Maybe that’s a cliché to some, but the hidden advantages of great character for leaders is the ability to be trusted through thick and thin. Employees respond better to praise, pressure and criticism from their superiors when they have the utmost respect for them to begin with. More importantly, employees are more engaged and respond to requests more quickly when they trust they’re being led in the right direction. 

 

Committed, Swift Decision Making

 

The longer leaders ponder a decision, the more it hurts productivity. Employees sit and wait, unsure of when a revision will come, and if it does, there’s a good chance it will disrupt their flow of working on another project. Great leaders are able to stick with their choices, and make those easy and tough decisions quickly. But getting to that comfort level can be hard at first. If you’re stuck, why not try transparent decision making before coming to the final decision? You don’t have to involve too many people, but at least when you run it up and down the ladder, you gauge their interests to help formulate your last and final decision.

 

Available When You Need Them

 

Quality leaders make quality time for their employees a priority. Their schedule may be busier than normal, or they might be fielding calls or flying on planes for most of the week, but they at least extend themselves enough to show the employees that work under them are on the radar.

 

Final Take

 

Great leaders are not born; everyone needs a push to be a sound delegator and will succeed (and fail) through trial and error until they’re seasoned, motivational and respected authorities in their field. But truly great qualities like the ones above can have a positive ripple effect to others which can lead to higher employee morale and better productivity for your company down the line.

 

For more tips on building a great foundation as a leader, be sure to ask about our latest updates to some of our most popular leadership courses on everything from motivational techniques to building an effective leadership team and more.

ej4′s Course of the Month for August is…

Last month’s free course was about literally keeping your cool at work (“Working in Hot Weather”); this month’s course is about figuratively keeping your cool with the first episode of our 6-part series, “Keeping Your Cool: Truths.”


Truths

 

Head on over to our eLearning videos page now to learn some simple truths about why we get frustrated, and how it affects us at work and away from it.

Why Consistent Messages Matter During a Promotional Disaster

From simple typos to ill-timed strategies, there are many ways a company promotion has gone wrong. A misprint on discounted items without having “Limit 1 per customer” printed below. Forgetting to copy edit the rules and stipulations. False advertisements. There are plenty of ways to go south.

 

Below is a fictional representation of a company promotion gone horribly wrong for them, and spectacularly right for the customer.

 

There’s a scene in this movie called, Punch-Drunk Love. In the beginning, the main character’s obsessed with buying up chocolate pudding cups from a well-known company that offers a certain amount of frequent flyer miles with every pudding cup purchase.

 

As it turns out, they forgot to limit the range.

 

On 4-packs, 12-packs or higher, there wasn’t a “Limit 1 per bundle” or “No cross-promotional deals” label anywhere. So when a store ran specials on “Buy 2 pudding packs for the price of 1,” the main character grabs a shopping cart and goes around and empties every display of pudding. The store is essentially chocolate pudding-less, but more importantly, the company who ran the promotion faces the hard truth of handing over 1,000,000 frequent flyer points for $500 worth of pudding.

 

Now back to reality: Imagine sending out a promotion before clearly examining every last loophole, and then come to find there’s an error somewhere. A big one. Since it’s already been sent, you must now go into damage control. Meanwhile customers are calling asking all kinds of questions, and the company doesn’t have enough time to adjust and train support to properly deal with the issue. Now maybe you sent out a quick memo summarizing what to say, but how do you know every employee in every office received it and is saying exactly that to confused customers?

 

Because the last thing you need is to break the trust between you and the customer. That’s why consistent messages – no matter whether they’re 100% helpful to customers or just 50% – are important to help quell the fires of a company blunder.

 

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And a simple custom message using Thinkzoom solves that crisis. It’s communicating what to say to your support team to relay to customers while you try to figure out where to go next. Within our platform, you can build custom groups for just the Support Team, then create that course, upload it and set the course as a requirement. From there, it’s a matter of tracking who has and who hasn’t seen it. It’s accountability in a short window, but more importantly, it’s peace of mind in the fact your staff is gaining the knowledge to be consistent in how they troubleshoot customers.

 

See how easy it is to make your own message for your team with a free trial of Thinkzoom today.

Why The “Do-Everything” Approach to Work Isn’t Sustainable

If you say “No” at work do you immediately think you’ll be viewed as a slacker?  That you aren’t a team player if you say “No”? That you’ll be labeled as “difficult to work with”? Or worst of all, that you’ve disappointed your boss!  So instead, you say “Yes” to everything, because you fear that tidal wave of criticism.

 

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The “do-everything-that’s-asked” approach  isn’t realistic and over time, it will get to you. You’ll feel overwhelmed, stressed out and you might even see a dip in your productivity, morale and overall performance.   So how do you spot the “do-everything” symptoms? Here are two types that come to mind:

 

The Newbie: This employee wants to make a great impression straight out of the gate!  They have an enthusiasm for the job but they don’t even really know what the job is.  This is the person that comes in early and stays late, volunteers for projects and is always offering to help out where they can.  They’re enthusiastic, but in some instances incompetent because they just don’t know anything yet. Did we have that attitude when we were the new hire? Sure. But most of us didn’t stretch ourselves thin by continuing to up the ante. We took some time to acclimate to our surroundings and learn from our peers and co-workers.  Helping new employees establish a routine to become familiar with their team and their day to day tasks is critical to keeping burnout levels low.

 

The Frantic: This employee is constantly on the edge. Their motor is always running, but it’s a nervous energy. Tasks – whether weeks out or last minute – are accepted with both a “Yay!” and a “Agghhhhh!” and the more it goes on, the two emotions soon intersect and that employee is frantically working to finish everything and will make mistakes along the way – rather than pump the brakes, adjust their workflow and find a happy medium that’s beneficial to the end product.

 

In the end, hard work is having the energy to be great at your job, and you’ll expend vital mental energy (and feel physically exhausted) saying yes to everything like you’re a parrot. Being productive isn’t about accepting every request; it’s about dissecting your To-Do list, putting off requests that aren’t critical, and doing quality work.