Seven thoughts for September


I’ve just been reading a list of “10 things you should keep to yourself at work” – rather than give you a link (because you’d have to register to get to the page) I’ll just list them here:

The 10 things you shouldn’t do at work are: cause a drama, spread rumours, get jealous, have sex, let your personal life intrude, misuse confidential information, mention that you are thinking of leaving, talk about politics or religion, discuss your or anyone else’s salary and share your facebook, twitter or tumblr postings with your colleagues.

Which left me wondering a) what people are meant to do most of the time and b) what experience the author had to compile such a comprehensive list. It reads like a very concise story of working life. Not mine, I hasten to add.

This has prompted me to write a list of 7 things that you should do at work.

In no particular order, here they are:

  • Listen carefully and stretch the pauses in discussions. Most people are quite bad at saying what they mean so it makes sense to pay attention to what they don’t say as well as what they do say. Use silence as the shovel to let other people dig their own holes.
  • Ask a few very good questions. No one likes someone who interrupts and asks questions all the time, but you can gain respect by keeping fairly quiet and asking one or two thought-provoking questions when there is a pause in the flow (but they have to be good questions, not ones that have already been answered when you weren’t listening – see point above).
  • Keep your passwords secure and your files backed up. One day you will be glad you bothered.
  • Make the most of your time… and anyone else’s. If you are in a meeting it’s time to finish when things start being repeated. If you are working on your own it’s time to stop when you aren’t concentrating.
  • Be curious and find out why things happen. If something doesn’t seem to make sense, it probably doesn’t make sense. It’s often easier to do what other people do, but they might all be wrong.
  • Avoid unnecessary travel. It is easy to confuse the effort of going somewhere with actually doing something useful…
  • …but don’t miss necessary travel. Sometimes twenty-five minutes face to face is worth a lot. Especially if you spend twenty-three minutes listening.

What other tips have you got?

6 Responses to “Seven thoughts for September”

  1. Good list, especially numbers 1 and 5. I suppose I’d add
    – remember the “5 Whys” technique; sometimes you need to push all the way through.
    – remember the 4 Questions for introducing change to an organisation: Is it going to be better for the staff? Is it going to be better for the customers? Is it going to be better for the distributors / partners? Is it going to be better for the shareholders? The earlier you can say “yes” in this chain then the better it will be received.

    • Drew – Just tried the 4 questions with my latest business change proposal (as a self-employed sole trader)… Should I buy a new MacBook Air as reward for my strong performance? Staff view: yes! Customer view: flash git! Distributor / Partner view: mixed, but I decided on “yes” because I regard Apple as a sort of partner! Shareholder view: NO!

      …So I guess that’s a “Yes” then.

  2. Drew – that is so spooky. Myself and a colleague this morning have been talking about the 4 questions. I’m about to give a presentation to my HOF/DOF & my colleague said make sure you’ve thought about the 4 questions!

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