Addicted to speed

first_imgAddicted to speedOn 26 Nov 2002 in Personnel Today In an increasingly fast-paced world, the pressure to deliver has never beengreater. Alison Thomas saves your time by reviewing five books that claim todeliver quick results for your businessMore haste, less speed, or so they used to say. It doesn’t seem to apply anymore. Anticipate, accelerate, move fast to keep ahead of the game – this is thevocabulary of today’s business manager, who is expected to cram more and moreinto the day and deliver ever-better results in an ever-shrinking time-frame. Rapid advances in technology can take much of the credit for this dramaticshift in gear. Projects that once took decades to accomplish can now beachieved in years, or even months. And products become obsolete before theyleave the drawing board, making minimal time to market imperative. Meanwhile, the communications revolution has networked the world,simultaneously opening up opportunities and making companies vulnerable toassault from any quarter. It has also given shareholders and other stakeholdersaccess to up-to-the-minute information, putting executives under huge pressureto deliver immediate results. This pressure is passed down the line to managers– already struggling to empty overflowing in-boxes – who must then implement thelatest directive or draw up new skillsets to address the company’s changingneeds. A fast-moving world is no place to be caught napping, as Marks & Spencerfound to its cost. The dotcom bonanza was another graphic illustration of howquickly markets can change. Upstart businesses operating out of bedrooms andgarages fell from grace as suddenly as they rose, but they gave theheavyweights a fright. External events can also transform the businesslandscape. A US recession was on the horizon before 11 September, but theterrorist attacks gave it a boost no-one could have foreseen. As the pace hots up, HR managers have had to rethink their role. In arapidly-changing global environment, the key to sustaining competitiveadvantage lies in the quality and commitment of the workforce. How do yourecruit the best people, entice them to stay and develop them in a way thatserves the organisation’s objectives, while fulfilling their personalaspirations? Publishers have responded with a battery of enticing titles such as ‘SimpleSolution’, ‘Instant Adviser’ and ’10 Minute Guide’. The sales pitch fore-learning strikes a similar chord with promises of instant access totailor-made training, eliminating the need to spend precious hours away fromyour desk on a traditional course. Titles can be misleading, however. For example, Thirty Minutes to Motivate,by Patrick Forsyth, an inexpensive pocket guide summarising familiar concepts,takes 30 minutes to read and a lot longer to implement. At the other extremethere is The Fast Facilitator, by Anthony Landale and Mica Douglas, asubstantial, £195, manual containing numerous interventions and activitiesbacked up by theoretical explanations. No magic wands here then. The five recently published books assessed below are equally diverse.Focusing on praise, 30 Days to a Happy Employee is reminiscent of KenBlanchard’s One Minute Manager, still selling well 20 years after it waswritten. Others look at strategy, training styles, management techniques orleadership. All tackle big themes like trust, motivation and communication. Youcan say the words without drawing breath, but how quickly can you translatethem into reality? 30 Days to a Happy Employee Author Dottie Bruce Gandy Publisher Simon & Schuster Fireside (paperback or e-book) The promise People leave their jobs not because of salary or perks,but because they don’t feel valued as individuals. Gandy’s solution is a simple30-day programme which will inspire loyalty, create a corporate culture basedon trust and engender a renewed sense of mission that can have a substantialimpact on the bottom line. The doctrine Although as human beings we crave acknowledgement andappreciation, it is something we rarely receive. The traditional appraisalidentifies ‘areas for development’, a euphemism for weaknesses, and createstraining and development plans to address them. Gandy prefers to highlightpeople’s strengths. Her programme involves communicating once a day withanother person to tell them about one of their attributes which you value. Youmight think you would run out of ideas halfway through, but as time goes by,qualities emerge which you had not noticed before. The recipient thrives on therecognition and there is a positive spin-off too for the giver of the compliments.The ultimate goal is to develop a “habit of acknowledgement”, whicheventually permeates the organisation. Although the sole motive should be tobolster the individual’s sense of self worth, the benefits for the businessinclude higher trust, increased productivity, open and honest communication,greater loyalty and an overall sense of wellbeing. Does it deliver results quickly? It sounds feasible. But only if youare committed and refuse to let a busy work schedule crowd it out of its dailyslot. It won’t be to everyone’s taste. As a nation, we are not very good atgiving compliments or receiving them gracefully. Yet it is widely recognisedthat people who feel good about themselves perform better than those who don’t.ExpressExec Author Various Publisher Capstone Publishing & John Wiley The promise Not a single book but a series of 100 titles organisedinto 10 modules, which together make up ExpressExec. From innovation,enterprise and finance to strategy, marketing and leading, this is a comprehensiveresource of current business practice written by leading practitioners in theirfield. It enables you to grasp the key concepts of each specialist area andimplement the theory immediately. Available in paperback or e-format, it can be incorporated into an intranetor internet site to provide a cost-effective platform for developing skills andsharing knowledge within an organisation. In addition, registration gives you access to key management briefings, a monthlynewsletter, interactive management tools and the opportunity to exchange ideas.The doctrine The 10 books in the ‘People’ module represent not somuch a doctrine as a distillation of the entire gamut of HR management, rangingfrom motivation and globalisation through to ‘e-people’, which deals with theimpact of web technology on HR and how online people strategies will help HRbecome more strategic and build a more effective and motivated workforce.People Express serves as an introduction to the other nine titles of the‘People’ module. It explores the ideas of influential thinkers and examinesdifferent models of people management that have developed both at home andabroad. Each title includes case studies from prestigious corporations whichillustrate how theory translates into practice, and there is a glossary of keyconcepts and an extensive resources guide. Does it deliver results quickly? Without a doubt. Comprehensive yetcompact, it is amazing what these pocket-sized guides cram into a refreshinglywaffle-free zone of about 100 pages. Complicated concepts you may have oncegrappled with in vain suddenly make sense, the case studies are illuminatingand bullet-pointed summaries at the end of each chapter provide a usefulaide-memoire. Managing for the Short Term Author Chuck Martin Publisher Currency Doubleday The promise Companies that successfully address short-term planningare more likely to achieve their long-term goals. The doctrine Once upon a time, thinking ‘long term’ meant operatingwithin a time frame of 10 years or more. Adopt that approach today, and by thetime your plans come to fruition, the world will have changed several timesover. Martin’s response is to focus on short-term, achievable performance goalswhile never losing sight of long-term strategy. Major projects are broken downinto a succession of small steps that allow plenty of scope for quick reactionto change. It states: “Managing for the short term is like performing a seriesof short tacks on a sailboat. By learning to tack…in response to changingexternal conditions, the ‘crew’ of a company can move the organisation forward.This also forces people to work together as a team.” Does it deliver results quickly? Quite the reverse. The author makesa clear distinction between ad hoc measures hastily cobbled together andmanaging for the short term, which requires everyone to be so in tune withmission and vision, they know which short-term decisions are appropriate to propelthe organisation forward. A lengthy introduction reiterates what readers experience every day – namelytoo much work, and not enough time to do it. Once you get into it, however, itcontains practical solutions based on extensive research, case studies andinterviews with managers at all levels. Crash Course in Managing People Authors Brian Clegg & Paul Birch Publisher Kogan Page The promise The essential management toolkit. Based on material fromfour of the ‘Instant’ series – leadership, motivation, coaching andinterviewing – it is packed with tried and tested ideas that will “enableyou to develop your management skills without taking up too much of yourvaluable time”. The doctrine The introduction defines the essential elements of thefour strands, the course itself comprises a programme of exercises andtechniques covering everything from improving communication and embracingchange, to training and learning, the art of delegation and dealing withtroublemakers. It is divided into 30 units, while a complementary CD-Romprovides further activities and web links. Does it deliver results quickly? It is certainly not time consuming,the units are easy to digest and the exercises are straightforward. But itcovers a vast amount of ground and there is a limit to how successfully you canboil down complex issues into bite-sized chunks. Whether it delivers results is another matter. Want to become charismatic? Make eye contact, greet strangers confidently,remember people’s names and model the way that you sit, walk and talk onsomeone you admire. End of story. To be fair, not every page is as facile andthe book does contain a lot of pragmatic advice based on sound common sense. Itwon’t revolutionise your style, but it could serve as a useful refresher courseto jolt you out of bad habits and encourage you to focus time and energy on theimportant issues. Accelerating Performance Author Sunny Stout Rostron Publisher Kogan Page The promise “A participative, fun, fast-track journey”which will transform your style, performance and delivery as a trainer, coachor facilitator. Offering a dazzling kaleidoscope of exciting new ideas andinspiring case studies, it will enable you to accelerate the performance ofpeople and hence of the organisation. The doctrine Combining the principles of brain-based learning andemotional intelligences, the author draws on a wide range of strategies such asstorytelling, drama, music, accelerated learning and neuro-linguisticprogramming techniques. The emphasis throughout is on flexibility, creativityand enjoyment. There is much soul searching and many of the exercises aredesigned to identify what makes people tick, what is currently holding themback and how to help them set ambitious goals which will inspire them to raisetheir game. Another key theme is creativity, and the author offers a variety ofstrategies to encourage people to break free from ingrained habits andconventional ways of thinking. The chapter on facilitating explores resolvingconflict through “deep democracy”, which gives those who holdminority views a voice and hence a reason for becoming engaged. Icebreakers toengender trust, multiple intelligences and preferred learning styles,communication and stress also come under the spotlight, and there is anextensive further reading list. Does it deliver results quickly? No. Written in a lively style, thebook is very accessible but it is designed to be dipped into rather than readall in one go. The effective implementation of the recommended techniques willrequire reflection and careful preparation, peppered with liberal doses ofimagination. The ‘accelerate’ of the title means lifting performance to newlevels by breaking through self-imposed limitations. This is a gradual andcontinuous process, not a quick fix. Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

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