Friday, April 28, 2006

Caught Between a Rock and Our Parents' Place

Many of us have reached an interesting phase in life: the Sandwich Generation. We're young enough to have children who need our help and old enough to have parents who are starting to have trouble managing at home alone. We find ourselves tip-toeing around issues with our parents, often to their detriment, and working longer, less productive hours because we're losing focus at work.

The condition of their home will be your best guide for whether your parents are having trouble managing alone. Look for spoiled food, dishes piled up, unwashed laundry, disheveled clothing or lightbulbs that need to be replaced -- anything that just isn't consistent with who you know your parents to be.

One sales executive I spoke with recounted his concerns for his newly-widowed mother in another state "I just can't seem to concentrate on work when I'm at work and I'm not really with her when I go visit -- I'm just the handyman." Through our work together, I helped him land an elder-care concierge, someone who run errands, arranges rides and help around the house. His productivity at work increased dramatically and his visits home were much more enjoyable (for him and for his mother).

Talk with your parents. Be straight about your concerns for their welfare, remembering that they have been in it -- living with their home conditions -- and may be unaware that conditions on the homefront have gotten out of hand. One conversation with my Father, explaining that, unless the house got back under his control I'd move back in for a few weeks and snap things back in shape was all he needed. He knows how pushy this daughter is -- he raised her.

Visit to learn how this service can add peace of mind for you and those who raised you.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

LNB #008: Customer Rage on the Rise!

Customers. They're the source of life for companies and fuel our economic engines. But, they're also getting increasingly, um, grumpy. Given the fact that everyone with a business card says they differentiate themselves with excellent customer service, what's behind the dramatic increase in customer rage?

Listen Now: 11:45

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Business Travel

Business travel, particularly lengthy junkets, can be made so much easier by contacting the hotel manager a week in advance and asking for upgrades, particularly when you've stayed at that hotel before. For more tips, check out The Unofficial Business Traveler's Pocket Guide: 165 Tips Even the Best Business Travelers May Not Know, written by Chris McGinnis, CNN travel correspondent.

LNB #007: Email Hell (Are you a Crackberry addict?)

You thought you were just being productive...when you checked your your pajamas...before you brushed your teeth. Is this productivity tool causing just the opposite effect?

Listen Now: 6:14

Dialing for Dollars: The Best Time to Strike

Jay Levinson, author of Guerrilla Marketing for the New Millennium, noting that micro-enterprise business owners have little time to play telephone tag, offers this brief list of the some of the best times to reach your prospects (organized by business/speciality).

Be sure to ask "Is this a good time for an xx minute conversation?" If they say "No," ask when a better time will be and commit to talk then. Show sincere respect for their time and they'll be more likely to listen to you.

Guerrillas know the best time to reach their prospects by telephone:

  • Accountants -- Standard business hours except between January 15th and April 15th.
  • Bankers -- Before 10:00 am and after 3:00 pm, Monday through Friday
  • Clergy -- Between Tuesday and Friday
  • Dentists -- Between 9:00 am and 11:00 am, Monday through Friday
  • Doctors -- Before 9:30 am or after 1:30 pm, Monday through Friday
  • Engineers -- Between 1:00 pm and 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday
  • Executives -- Before 9:00 am, during the lunch hour, and after 1:30 pm, Monday through Friday
  • Farmers -- Between 12 noon and 1:00 pm
  • General contractors -- Before 9:00 am, during the lunch hour, and after 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday
  • Grocers -- Between 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm
  • Heads of businesses -- Before 9:00 am, during the lunch hour, and after 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday
  • Homemakers -- Between 10:00 am and 11:30 am and between 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm. Notice -- never during dinner.
  • Lawyers -- Between 11:00 am and 2:00 pm and between 4:00 pm and 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday
  • Nurses -- During the half-hour before or after scheduled duty hours. Call the hospital to get details about shift schedules.
  • Pharmacists -- Between 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm
  • Teachers -- Between 2:00 pm and 6:00 pm, Monday through Friday

Monday, April 24, 2006

LNB #006: The Small Business Owner's "Secret" Manual

What are the new rules for owning a business? Business and Executive Coach, Lalita Amos, discusses what it takes to have a business that you enjoy --rather than one you
just survive.

Listen Now: 6:57

Monday, April 17, 2006

Mean Girls: We don't like 'em. So why do we follow them?

Is there a place for cruelty in your organization? I'd like to think there isn't, however I think I may be wrong.

Sitting in a Purdue University classroom listening to a distinguished graduating senior talk about relational aggression -- a type of interpersonal behavior that can be insidious and very sophisticated and has been studied mostly in girls -- I found myself surprised.

Aimee discussed the results of her experiment. Her subjects reported that, although they liked the women they identified as "nice," they still picked the aggressive, unlikable women to work on projects with when given the choice.

Thinking ahead to the kinds of woman-to-woman situations I dealt with in my old HR days, I found that most could be said to have been "relational aggresion:" hurtful rumors; withdrawal of attention, support and help; exclusion. The aggressor, in each situation, was someone who people didn't much like or trust, but they followed her fairly relentlessly.

Organizational power, in relational aggression, may not directly parse to the job descriptions of the people involved. I've been called in when a group secretaries decides a woman manager must go or when the nurses on a shift have squared off against a woman doc. The nurses and the secretaries don't have title power, but are, arguably, some of the most powerful muscle-flexors in an organization's social fabric.

Why? Are we geared to consort with the aggressive? Is there a difference between what we say we admire and what we follow? I wondered: are our efforts to blunt the aggressive tendencies of our employees (like sales reps, for example) hurting their effectiveness?

While we don't like the mean, we still pick them when we want to win.

Read the Fast Company magazine article about aggressive execs.