Friday, 7 July 2006

Newsletter Issue 116, July 2006

Sam Young Newsletter

Issue 116, July 2006
Hi guys,
For good Succession Planning, there are some issues that may need to be worked around. Read on.
Don't forget, if you want to be taken off my mailing list, click here to send me a reply e-mail and I will remove your name.

The Teleworking Debate Part 2

In the last newsletter we looked at some general background to teleworking. This time we are going to take a look at some specifics.
What are the advantages of teleworking?
  • Staff retention. To keep skilled staff, organisations are making the workplace more flexible. A 2006 survey in US's San Diego County, 56% of 900 phone survey respondents, whose number one gripe was traffic congestion and number two was ever-increasing housing prices, said they have considered packing up and moving away; up from 39% from 2002.
  • Communications. We have cellphones and are in touch pretty much 24/7 in our roles these days. Having your office phone forwarding straight to your cellphone is easily achieved with current technology, should you need to, or want to. If you can be contacted through the receptionist or on direct dial, from the client's point of view it doesn't matter where you are physically.
  • Flexibility. Staff can chose to work uninterrupted when they have their best concentration time. Some staff may telework in the mornings to gain that uninterrupted time. Staff who are dealing with international companies could chose to work afternoons in the office and evenings with the internationals having mornings off; or very early mornings with their internationals & late mornings in the office with afternoons off.
  • Increased office space. Commercial space is at a premium. Staff who chose to telework two or three days a week can then share office space without problems. Laptops and cellphones accessed through the receptionist or on direct dial mean that staff aren't defined by their desks.
  • Direct cost savings. American studies estimate a saving of US$7,500 per employee, per year (AT&T realizes approximately $150 million in annual savings by teleworking; $100 million through direct employee productivity, $35 million through reduced real estate costs and $15 million through enhanced employee retention).
  • Increased productivity. Staff tend to work harder and longer hours when at home as compared to the office to ensure they are delivering value for money. Evidence that productivity does increase is shown by stats compiled from a March 2004 survey by US think-tank The Employment Policy Foundation; telecommuters handling 26% more calls and bringing in 43% more business than at-office workers.
There are some issues which need to be worked around. These are:
  • Planning. Organisations need to have publicly posted schedules to show when people are in their offices and have a sound policy on setting meeting times. You don't want your teleworkers being dragged in for a half hour meeting unnecessarily, so may want to invest in video-conferencing technology. And if you don't already have it, you will need to plan new technology rollouts of laptops, docking stations, cellphones and remote network access
  • Set-up costs. During the change-over and during commissioning of teleworking, there will be technology costs (laptops, docking stations, cellphones) and systems costs (policy development, teleworking agreements, monitoring, training) as you de-bug your systems.
  • Monitoring. There needs to be systems and agreements in place to ensure that teleworking staff have realistic targets set and then achieve them. However, statistics tend to show that teleworking staff are more conscientious about giving good value for the organisation's money.
  • Education. Other staff who chose to work 8 to 5 need to know how the system works so as not to frown on those who chose to telework (often seen as 'swanning around')
  • Socialising. The organisation can set up weekly team meetings to ensure socialisation needs are still met - lunchtime meetings are likely to ensure up all teleworkers can attend.
For more information on teleworking, there is a great page full of links at the Canadian Teleworking Association at

Succession Planning

In the last newsletter (#115) I wrote a piece about succession planning. There are however some issues which need to be addressed for a succession plan to work. They are:
  • Who do I choose? Think about (a) who wants to move up, (b) who would you send to a management meeting on your behalf now, or (c) who would you choose to help you train a new person. These factors will help you decide who in your team you consider the most senior, responsible and trustworthy.
  • Do I have to choose one person or can I share the role amongst several people? If you share the role, watch the group dynamics. Usually, even within a team where each member has an equal level of responsibility, one or two leaders will emerge. This could help make your decision for you.
  • How do I train them? Performance review time is a great time to build a plan for the next year and identify weaknesses. Build in the training requirements to fill those weaknesses over the coming year, showing clearly the path to be taken towards higher level positions. This includes both training times for learning internal procedures and for external course work
  • What if I train them up to do my job, I move on, and they do it better than I did? We all need to face facts. If we make ourselves irreplaceable, then there is nowhere for us to move to. A junior's expertise is also a great example of your excellent coaching, training and mentoring skills. There is always going to be someone who is better than you at your job, but that creates the opportunity for you to move on.
  • How do I coach my chosen person without the rest of the team thinking I am playing favourites? Either (a) let the rest of the team know, so they get used to the idea of that person being senior. or (b) delegate more responsibility to other team members at the same time so they don't feel over-looked.
  • How do I get my choice to buy into the idea? Hopefully, if you've chosen well, they will be keen, but initially concerned about the added responsibility, office jealousy or about their ability to step up. Coach them through these issues with appropriate training and regular mentoring. However, if they really don't want the added responsibility, then they are probably not be the right choice.
  • How do I spend time training my successor and still find the time to do my own job? Sorry, this is down to good, old-fashioned time management! Be realistic about what parts of your job must be done by you personally, then delegate the rest. Diary times for mentoring and training sessions with your chosen person, and don't skip the appointments. To avoid office jealousy, have regular one-on-one sessions with the rest of your team as well, particularly if you are delegating some of your role to the team to create coaching time.
Delegation is a key issue for all managers. If you get that right, your succession planning will be easy!

Templates on the Start Menu

Woody Leonhard of Woody's Office Watch fame wrote about a neat little trick in Windows Secrets Newsletter recently.
He said "You can pin templates on the Start menu."
"Say you have a status report that you need to create every day, or you find yourself banging out an invoice every few minutes (would that we were all so lucky).
"If you have a template that generates a new status report or invoice — or anything else you can think of — you can put the template on the Start menu. Then whenever you need to start a new status report or create a new invoice, you click Start, then click the template, and Word (or Excel or PowerPoint or ....) kicks in with the new document loaded, ready for bear.
"To pin a template on the Start menu, first find the template. Office stores its templates, by default, in C:\Documents and Settings\yourname\Application Data\Microsoft\Templates."
To 'pin' a template - ie, have it show on the Start Menu, do the following:
  1. Locate the template
  2. Select it
  3. Hold down the Ctrl key (this copies the template, leaving the original in its original location)
  4. Keep the Ctrl key down & drag the template over top of the Start button
  5. Keep the Ctrl key down & hover over the Start button for a couple of seconds. The Start menu will open up
  6. Keep dragging the template up above the faint horizontal line, then release it wherever you want the template to appear on the Start menu list, then release both the mouse & the Ctrl key.
Windows Secrets Newsletter can be found at

TLAs for SMEs

Here are this newsletter's TLAs for you:
  • E & OE, Errors and Omissions Excepted. A phrase commonly used on invoices.
  • BSOD, Blue Screen of Death. The blue screen with the unreadable "stop" error codes that appears when you have had a fatal exception error in Windows (much rarer with XP Professional though, I must say)

Please feel free to email me with any TLAs that you want to get the bottom (meaning!) of.

Tips, Short+Hot Keys
In this newsletter, we look at all you can do with Shift, Ctrl and comma:
  • PowerPoint "Display a white screen, or return to the slide show from a white screen" , (Comma)
  • Outlook "Previous item (with item open)" Ctrl & , (Comma)
  • Word "Shrink Font" Ctrl & Shift & , (comma)

Hot Linx
If you are wanting to know what's happening on the internet, then check out Hitwise's blog site at
For some statistics on commuting and teleworking, go to the RAC Foundation's UK site at
If you want to get the low-down on global use abbreviations including websites, check out
And if you really want to know what the IT Department think of you, take a drive by the Tech Support Comedy site at and <wince>

                                Catch you again soon!! E-mail your suggestions to me here

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