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Daily Nation : January 31st 2014
DAILY NATION Friday January 31, 2014 Jobs 2 Smartphone after 9pm bad for work CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 smartphones – direct ones for the employees, and less direct but still troubling ones for workplaces. Smart managers will look for creative ways to minimise smartphone problems without giving up their mutual benefits. One solution suggested by the Harvard professor Leslie Perlow, based on her research on high-end consultants, is to have predictable time off. And the best way to start is by agreeing that evenings and normal sleeping hours are the most important times for people to be predictably “off.” This will allow employees to psychologically disengage from work and minimise exposure to the blue light produced by electronic display screens. Another potential solution calls for creating new norms as to when employees are expected to respond to work email and when they are not. Leaders should be sensitive to how their personal behaviours shape norms. Employees will not feel pressure to check their mail late in the evening if their bosses aren’t using that time to send messages. A handy tool is to set a delivery delay on email so that it arrives the next morning. With this approach, managers who are travelling or working odd hours can still communicate at their convenience, but minimise the negative effects on others. Christopher Barnes is an assistant professor of management at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business. Klodiana Lanaj is an assistant professor of management at the University of Florida’s Warrington College of Business Administration. Russell Johnson is an assistant professor of management at Michigan State University’s Eli Broad College of Business. (NYT) CHANGE TALKS | Watch so you don’t fall into trap called ‘false peak’ What’s the next big thing you can do? BY WALE AKINYEMI @waleakinyemi firstname.lastname@example.org We run a weeklong leadership mentoring programme called “Inspired to Inspire”, and we had our first class for the year this week. Day one focused on transformative thinking, and today, I want to share some of the thoughts with you. Have you ever been in a situation in which things look so good and it’s hard to believe that there could be something better, and then only a short while later, you look at what you considered to be great and it comes across as child’s play? What happened is that you, like many other people, had arrived at what I call a false peak. A false peak is one of the most containing places that a person or organisation can ever be. Let me paint a picture to show you how bad it is. Imagine a person who in school scored very high grades and was always at the top of the class. Now fast forward a few years and the same person is working. Imagine how ludicrous it would be if the person bragged about the fact that he used to score high grades in question to my team all the time is: “What’s the next big thing that we can do?” Stagnation can only happen in the life of a person whose mind has been deceived to think that they have arrived. In reality, therefore, we must never arrive. The transformative mind is that which is always pondering over the next form. What is the next form of your life? What is the next form of your company? Like I have often said, hardly do A false peak is one of the most containing places that a person or organisation can ever be in school and therefore expected to get promoted on that basis. You get the picture, don’t you? Wherever you are today can either be a destination or a transit point. If you are so impressed with yourself and what you have accomplished today, you will be more inclined to pitch a tent there for a while. You must always have a vision that makes your present success almost irrelevant. My favourite MANAGEMENT 101 | Autonomy allows employees to take greater responsibility When staff want to do it their way, let them BY FLORENCE KITHINJI @kithinji_f email@example.com How many times have you heard people saying that something cannot be done? There is a story of a young man by the name George Bernard Dantzig, who joined the University of California, Berkeley, in 1939, as a doctoral student. One time, he arrived late for his statistics class and found two problems on the blackboard. He jotted them down, thinking they were the day’s assignment. It was only after submitting the correct solutions that his professor told him that he had solved problems that had baffled everyone for a long time. Most people in management as well as the employees under them have their own ‘blackboards’ where they write their ‘impossibles’. Some have to do with career development, employee discipline, promotions, innovation and so on. Regardless of the challenges any organisation may be facing, it is wise to remember that everything is impossible until someone else does it. There are many things today that would have been deemed impossible by generations before us. A few years ago, computers were monstrous things that filled up entire rooms. Today, we have palmtop computers. A few years ago, mobile money was not even thinkable. The fact that a Kenyan came up with the concept of Mpesa (mobile money transfer) shows that anyone can come up with a novel idea. The setback arises from a set of beliefs that individuals or organisations develop over time. Since we are creatures of habit, we adopt the habits and daily patterns of those we consider more informed or wiser. Managers, like everyone else, in decision making and planning for their work is the creation of a deep sense of ownership in the work they do. Managers need to allow their employees some control over the activities that go on in the organisation. Autonomy is about allowing employees to figure out how best to go about their assignments. The opposite of autonomy is micromanagement, which is literally, breathing down an employee’s neck to see if they are performing as you wanted them to. Autonomy allows employees ILLUSTRATION | JOSEPH NGARI | DAILY NATION fall into patterns of behaviour that have been laid down by those they admire or consider to be their mentors. Although most managers are defined by their ability to keep things under control, they need to allow their employees some autonomy. All over the world, employees long for employers who will give them the opportunity to be themselves. One of the benefits of allowing employees to participate to take greater responsibility for their outcomes and motivates them to perform well. Managers who are allowed autonomy also tend to feel more inspired to supervise their staff. But there is a danger in giving too much autonomy to managers with poor decision making skills. They end up making their employees suffer the consequences of bad judgement or poor planning. Team autonomy works if the entire team is in synch with the objectives of the organisation and if they have open communication. While teams may function independently, they need occasional supervision to ensure that they are on track. Allow people to do it their way and they will surprise you. Dr Kithinji is a trainer and consultant at the Kenya School of Government, Nairobi people remember number two in a contest. You know Usain Bolt, don’t you? But who came second at the last Olympics? I bet you are scratching your head. In my books, the number two is simply the winner among the losers. One way to therefore ensure that you never get to a false peak is to ask yourself constantly: “Am I number one in the country?” Even if the answer is yes, ask: “Am I number one in the continent?” If the answer is yes, go on and ask further: “Am I number one in the world?” If the answer is yes then ask: “Am I number one in the history of humankind?” Mediocrity is a cancer that deceives you into believing that anything other than the best is acceptable. It is the cancer that makes you think that you cannot do better than you have done. It is the cancer that makes you think that you can slow down. It is the cancer that makes people encourage themselves with low standards instead of inspiring themselves with the best that the world has to offer. It is the cancer that is satisfied with being present instead of making their presence felt. Africa is a great land that is being ruined by mediocrity. We have a knack for producing two standards – a poor one for Africans and a better one for export. I flew on one airline recently from Nairobi to another African destination, and the only difference between the business class and economy was the size of the seats. Everything else was crammed up, even though we had paid about double for the business class seats. The same airline on the London, Dubai or New York route has a totally different feel. We will not be delivered from ourselves until our thoughts towards ourselves are no more mediocre. We must tap the potential of Africa for Africans. As long as we are content with relegating ourselves behind others, the journey has truly not yet started. Tech gurus to gain from CEOs’ plans CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 PwC says that 32 per cent of CEOs have plans to outsource such business processes to other organisations this year, with the view that the move will raise their standards in service delivery and up their revenue. “Organisations that can deliver reliable, scalable outsourced services will be well placed to respond to increasing demand for both technology and business process outsourcing as a service in Africa,” states the report. The survey shows that CEOs find outsourcing as the most attractive to companies for immense growth. They believe that hosting software and infrastructure outside the organisation improves productivity and reduces capital expenses. However, majority of the CEOs interviewed were wary about data privacy, as much as they were interested in outsourcing services like cloud computing, from independent experts. “CEOs want to be mobile and connected to their organisations without fearing about data security. They want the same for their sales forces, to build customer relationships using applications from any device anywhere they go,” says Microsoft Nigeria’s managing director Emmanuel Onyeje, in the PwC report. According to PwC regional director Mr Steve Okello, most CEOs are focused on reaching new clients and securing relationships, and they see technology as the key link to these aspirations. They are also concerned about the effects new market entrants may have on their businesses. The PwC report, titled “Africa Business Agenda” and covering 22 countries in the continent, was released this month.
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