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Category Archives: personal effectiveness

BY FC Expert Blogger Shawn Graham
Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 10:48 AM

This blog is written by a member of our expert blogging community and expresses that expert’s views alone.

As a manager, there’s an invisible and unspoken wall between you and your staff. It would be great if it didn’t exist, but it does. And even though there are times when you feel like part of the gang, at the end of the day, you’ll still be the boss…and that creates a barrier.

You have a sense that group cohesion isn’t where it needs to be and that a few people are frustrated with your management style but you feel the “boss barrier” is keeping them from sharing their feedback. So you decide to create a brief anonymous survey. And that’s no small task because the questions you ask (or don’t ask) will obviously send signals to your team.

In hopes of opening the lines of communication, you come up with three to four questions designed to get at what you believe are the underlying issues and you elicit their response. But that was the easy part. Once you get their feedback, you have to decide what to do with it. And that is particularly difficult because the feedback you receive wasn’t constructive, but more of a personal attack.

Do you confront the group? Meet with each member of your team individually? Do nothing? Do you respond to their feedback in general without mentioning specifics? That would keep you from repeating some of the negative comments from some that might not be shared by all. Or, do you read each response to the group and talk through what you’re going to do to address their concerns while making sure not to come off as defensive or angry?

How you handle their feedback, from the moment you receive their responses, is more important than the questions you asked or the feedback itself. You can’t sit on it, waiting for the right time. The more time that passes, the less likely it will be that you can get to the underlying frustrations that led to their negative comments. Plus, waiting gives the impression that responding to their feedback isn’t a priority.

Whether to respond to their comments in general (without mentioning specific comments), or to go over each comment is a judgment call. If you’re worried that voicing some of the negative comments could poison those on your team who might not feel that way, keep in mind there’s a good chance that they’ve already heard the comments from their peers because there’s a good chance they’re talking to each other about it. If anything, it could provide an opportunity for those on your team who are in your corner to stand up and speak out about some of the negative comments they might not agree with.

Regardless of your approach, you’ll want to drive the discussion, keeping comments from others to a minimum. The last thing you want is for the meeting to turn into a heated discussion or argument. No matter how calm you are (or think you are), it’s likely that others will be pretty tense. It’s okay to have a little group discussion, but for the most part, you’re the one steering the ship.

And don’t forget about tone. If you don’t think you can talk about their feedback without appearing defensive or angry, don’t do it. If you do, you could accidentally make things worse than they already are—especially if some of the feedback you received was that you get defensive when you get negative feedback.

As a manager, it’s hard to open yourself up to potential criticism by asking for feedback on your performance. But it’s even harder to put it all out there and process the feedback with your team. Even though it’s uncomfortable, asking for and addressing feedback from your team will make you a better manager.

Shawn Graham is Director of MBA Career Services at the University of Pittsburgh and author of Courting Your Career: Match Yourself with the Perfect Job (

It’ll make you a better employee, according to an Australian study that shows surfing the Internet for fun during office hours increases productivity.

The University of Melbourne study showed that people who use the Internet for personal reasons at work are about 9 percent more productive that those who do not.

Study author Brent Coker, from the department of management and marketing, said “workplace Internet leisure browsing,” or WILB, helped to sharpened workers’ concentration.

“People need to zone out for a bit to get back their concentration,” Coker said on the university’s website (

“Short and unobtrusive breaks, such as a quick surf of the Internet, enables the mind to rest itself, leading to a higher total net concentration for a days’ work, and as a result, increased productivity,” he said.

According to the study of 300 workers, 70 percent of people who use the Internet at work engage in WILB.

Among the most popular WILB activities are searching for information about products, reading online news sites, playing online games and watching videos on YouTube.

“Firms spend millions on software to block their employees from watching videos, using social networking sites or shopping online under the pretence that it costs millions in lost productivity,” said Coker. “That’s not always the case.”

However, Coker said the study looked at people who browsed in moderation, or were on the Internet for less than 20 percent of their total time in the office.

“Those who behave with Internet addiction tendencies will have a lower productivity than those without,” he said.

(Writing by Miral Fahmy; Editing by Valerie Lee);_ylt=Ajv93cQKOzgitgxsVSCbHBsDW7oF

New article…in press but cuurrently only in corrected proof…

Time banditry: Examining the purloining of time in organizations

Human Resource Management Review, In Press, Corrected Proof, Available online 1 May 2009
Laura E. Martin, Meagan E. Brock, M. Ronald Buckley, David J. Ketchen Jr.


Time banditry, a variant of counterproductive work behavior, is defined as the propensity of employees to engage in non-work related activities during work time. We extend past research on time banditry in two ways. First, we develop a model of time banditry. It is posited that a significant number of employees engage in time banditry despite their level of engagement with their job and even when productivity levels remain at an acceptable level. Implications of the model are described and testable propositions are developed. Second, we suggest that time bandits as a group are not monolithic, but instead there are at least four types of bandits.
Supervisors need to manage each type with different human resource management practices.

The 2008 Graduate Pathways Survey
You are here: HigherEducation > Publications > The 2008 Graduate Pathways Survey
“The 2008 Graduate Pathways Survey: Graduates’ education and employment outcomes five years after completion of a bachelor degree at an Australian university“ reports the findings of the 2008 Graduate Pathways Survey. It contains information on the outcomes and pathways of bachelor graduates five years after graduation.

The 2008 Graduate Pathways Survey was designed to gain information on employment outcomes five years after completing a bachelor degree, how these changed from graduates’ initial outcomes, the pathways taken and the factors that influence outcomes. 9,238 graduates from all Table A higher education providers (with one exception) as well as Bond University and the University of Notre Dame participated in the survey. The 2008 Graduate Pathways Survey was the first national study of its kind in Australia.

The Key findings were that:

Graduates can take a few years to establish their careers: the rate of participation in paid work among graduates rose from 84% to 91% between the first and fifth year following graduation;
At the national level, the median graduate salary rose from $38,000 to $60,000 in the first five years post-graduation – a 58% increase;
Graduate outcomes and pathways varied for different fields of education, with some graduates taking longer to settle into their careers; and
Graduates from disadvantaged backgrounds achieved outcomes on par with the general graduate population.


Three-quarters of Australian workers believe their current skills will be out of date within five years, according to a recent survey.

The survey of almost 100,000 people in 34 countries, including more than 13,000 in Australia, shows that even in an economic recession, training and skills development are still important.

The Kelly Global Workforce Index finds that almost one-half of the respondents believe the training currently provided by their employers will not meet their future career needs.

Competitive advantage

Kelly Services managing director James Bowmer said that in an increasingly competitive global economy, investing in training for vital employees can become a key competitive advantage for firms.

‘Training may not seem a priority in the present economic climate, but organisations which devote the resources will be more likely to see higher productivity and profitability in the future,’ Bowmer said.

Changing labour market

The survey highlights the significance that employees across the generational age groups place on training and skills development to sustain them in a rapidly changing labour market.

Among the key findings of the survey:
Baby boomers (aged 48–65) are most worried about the level of training, with 59% saying it is not sufficient to upgrade skills and advance their career.
83% of Gen X (aged 30–47) say that within the next five years, their skills will need to be upgraded to keep pace with changes in the workplace.
73% of Gen Y (aged 18–29) see the provision of training as a joint responsibility between the employer and employee.

On-the-job training is the preferred form of training nominated by employees.

Human resource professionals come under scrutiny, with almost one-half of all respondents saying their HR department has not helped them to achieve their employment goals.

Across generations, women generally are more concerned than men about their skill set and have a higher expectation of their employers’ HR departments in managing their careers.

Among respondents, almost three-quarters (74%) say that training should be a joint responsibility between an employer and employee.

On-the-job training preferred

The preference among those surveyed is for on-the-job training (48%), followed by professional development courses (31%), self-initiated learning (11%) and formal university or college qualifications (10%).

Bowmer said the findings reveal the depth of concern across the population at the capacity of the current skills base to meet new workforce challenges.

‘The current economic environment has made people very aware of their skills and whether they will be sufficient to survive the recession and beyond, into a period of economic recovery,’ Bowmer said.

‘It is only very recently that we faced skills shortages across many industries, and unless skills and training are enhanced, that situation may occur in the future.’

‘Increased competition for jobs combined with technological change makes it vital that employees are assisted to become even more productive, through the best training possible.’

Boost your confidence and results by power dressing

28 April 2009 6:14am

The way you package yourself won’t by itself get you more business, but clients will pick up on your improved confidence, says image consultant Elena Reed.

Right now it’s all about “dressing like you mean business”, she says. “To succeed in recruitment, like in any other industry, you’ve got to keep current, positive and stay on top of your game. You can choose to dismiss the wardrobe trends as shallow and unimportant, but it might be worthwhile to take note and just make a few little adjustments. After all, you don’t want to undermine your professional expertise by opting for a dated and unprofessional visual image.”

Reed, of Evolutzia, points out: “Whether you like it or not people do judge a book by its cover and we will be judged even when the stock market is falling and business is slow.”

Besides, she says. “there’s enough stress, anxiety and tension around, why wear ‘sombre’ clothes?”

The fashion world’s response to the economic doom and gloom has been to introduce more colour – vibrant and bold hues – and a return to “power dressing”, she says. This has taken the form of fitted jackets in bold fuschia and hot pink (on women) and fiery red ties on men.

Reed says you can embrace some of the newer trends with minimum effort and very little cost. She advises:

Don’t shy away from colour. “Black flatters very few people.”

Strong hues will make you appear more confident than pastels.

The five top colours of the season are “tomato red, berry orchid, rich purple, teal blue and midnight ink.”

If colour is a stretch for you, update your neutral outfits with a little ‘splash’ like a tie or a piece of tasteful jewellery.

The “sloppy” look is dated. Power-dressing is about attention to detail, and first-class grooming is very “in”.

Opt for quality over quantity. “One good shirt is better than five mediocre ones.”

Invest in a perfect fit or make alterations to existing pieces in your wardrobe.

Ladies: “If you’ve got a waist, define it with a belt. If you’ve got hips, balance them with shoulder pads. If you are top heavy, avoid necklines that come close to the base of your neck.”

Gentlemen: “Shapeless jackets and baggy pants will ruin your credibility before you even have a chance you open your mouth.”
“When the economy is tough, people want to see optimism,” Reed says. “Make an effort to be a source of inspiration for your clients, candidates, fellow team members, family and self. Dare to be different!”

6:13 PM Wednesday February 4, 2009

Tags:Communication, Getting buy-in, Personal effectiveness

Managers of the last century, gave speeches, then had their assistants send snail mail letters with the text, and maybe followed up by a phone call to see if it was received.

Managers of the 21st century send an email and think they’ve taken care of everything. Message received. Action underway. Done deal.


In my experience, people don’t “get” the important messages leaders try to send the first time around. This isn’t intentional, but there’s too much noise and too many distractions. And leaders with a lot of ideas find that people wait to see which ones take priority, which ones will be acted on, and which ones the leader really cares about.

I also find that people don’t automatically read all of their emails or download attachments. They read the subject line to see if they should. If the subject line is blank, there’s a risk that the message will be missed. (I now try to stuff the gist of the message in the subject line.)

Furthermore, even if people hear something once, they don’t necessarily remember that they did. Busy people with multiple projects might forget that something has already been discussed and raise it again at a meeting. Leaders cannot assume that just because it has been said, it has been heard.

So use the principle of redundancy. If the message is very important, send it through multiple media, in various forms, and do it a few times. It seems annoying, I know, but the delete key is so easy to use. I never mind a polite follow up (after a little time has passed), especially if it is easy to respond.

As for speeches, make those headlines dramatic, repeat them several times, and keep the theme going in the next few speeches.

I don’t think redundancy is waste; I think it provides focus. If you want everyone to be on the same page, put the page in front of them conveniently and often.