Friday, 8 December 2006

Newsletter Issue 123, December 2006

Sam Young Newsletter

Issue 123, December 2006
Hi guys,
To help your people grow and deal with change, read on about Building Employee Confidence.
How real are those 'rules' like The Butter-side Down Rule below? 
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.

Building Employee Confidence

To get the low-down on building employee confidence, we have another kindly loaned article from Dr Carol Goman, executive coach and strategist from the US. Carol states:
"What is the number one personality trait of individuals who deal effectively with change? It’s confidence. Confident people are self-motivated, have high self-esteem and are willing to take risks. But even the most confident employee may suffer a crisis of self-doubt in times of radical change. That’s when leadership becomes a critical factor.
"Here are seven ways that managers/leaders can help build employee confidence:
  1. Acknowledge weaknesses, but play to people's strengths. Todd Mansfield, the executive vice president of Disney Development Company, found that his company had been spending too much time dwelling on employee weaknesses. He said, "When we'd sit down to evaluate associates, we'd spend 20% of our time talking about the things they did well and 80% on what needed to be improved. That is just not effective. We ought to spend and energy helping people determine what they are gifted at doing and then align their responsibilities with those capabilities."
  2. Don't assume people know how good they are. I gave a speech for the top management team of a software company in Northern California that was relocating out of state. A few days later the president of the company telephoned me to say, "I have an administrative assistant who is probably the brightest, most creative person I've worked with. The problem is, she's married and can't move her family out of the Bay Area. I was wondering if you would see her for a private counselling session, so that when she applies for a new job, she will come across just as terrific as she really is. I'll even pay for the session." Of course, I agreed, and looked forward to meeting this talented woman. When she came into my office I said, "This is a real pleasure. I've heard so many nice things about you. Tell me about yourself. What is it that you do exceptionally well? What would you most want a prospective employer to know about you?" The woman was silent for several seconds. Finally she sighed and said, "I really don't know. I do a lot of things well, but when I do them, I don't notice."
  3. When people do something very well, acknowledge it immediately. Timing is everything when it comes to building confidence. Get in the habit of commenting on outstanding employee behaviour as soon as you notice it. When managers at El Torito Restaurants in Irvine, California, catch a worker doing something exceptional, they immediately give the employee a "Star Buck." Each restaurant has a monthly drawing from the pool of "stars" for prizes (cash, TVs, etc.) and each region then has a drawing for $1,000 cash.
  4. Encourage people to “go public” about their achievements. One manager I know came up with a creative solution to her employees' lament that, although she did a pretty good job overall, there were many times when she was too preoccupied to notice her people’s accomplishments. She put a hand-painted sign in her office and jokingly encouraged employees to display it whenever they had a significant achievement. What started out as an office gag is now a favourite employee ritual. The sign reads, "I just did something wonderful. Ask me about it!"
  5. Help people identify their strengths and then find ways to capitalize on them. Everyone has unique talents and abilities that are not always used in their present jobs. Paula Banks, a former Human Resources director at Sears, once had a secretary who was doing an adequate but mediocre job. Paula talked to the woman and found out that, in her spare time, she was a top salesperson for Mary Kay Cosmetics. In Paula's words: "I found out she had great sales skills, so I changed her duties to include more of what she was really good at—organizing, follow-through and closing deals. She had this tremendous ability. My job was to figure out how to use it."
  6. Create small victories. Managers need to design "small wins" to encourage people along the way to achieving goals of exceptional performance. One manager put it this way: "A stretch goal can scare people to death. I always begin with a mini-goal that I know my staff can achieve, and then I use that victory as a confidence-builder for reaching the larger objective."
  7. Plan for the future. An oil company was at the beginning of a reengineering effort, and during a meeting I was facilitating, members of the change task force began to discuss the drop in confidence the work force was experiencing. One of the managers shook her head. "Not my staff," she said. "Everyone in my department is doing just fine." When we asked her why they were doing so well, the manager said that every week she brought her team together and spent an hour or more going over strategy for various organizational contingencies. "We look at the current changes going on in the business and the changes we anticipate in the future, and then we plan how best to position ourselves for all outcomes," she said. "We plan our personal financial and career strategies, we share information and leads about open positions throughout the company, we've even planned a response if our entire function is eliminated. My staff feels that there isn't anything that we can't handle." Now that's confidence!"
Author Bio: Carol Kinsey Goman, coaches executives, helps teams develop strategies and delivers keynote speeches and seminars to business audiences around the world. She is the author of nine books, including Ghost Story: A Modern Business Fable. Contact her at or through her Website at

The Butter-side Down Rule

We have all heard the butter-side down rule, I am sure; that if you drop toast on the floor, it invariably lands butter-side down. Some call it a variation of Sods Law - "Anything that can go wrong, will" - some call it a corollary of Murphy's Law - "Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong" (for more, go to or
Well, recently scientists have discovered why toast falls butter side down. And interestingly, by 'scientists', I mean researchers from TV show Mythbusters, which is a bit of a laugh. However, what is more interesting, Mythbusters have apparently discovered how to STOP your toast landing butter-side down.
The BBC interviewed Mythbusters presenters Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, who say we can prevent our toast doing the butter-down dive by spreading it correctly - if you press firmly and quickly with the knife as you spread, the surface of the bread changes. A dip is created on the toast which then affects the way it falls. In tests, the Mythbusters buttering method meant the toast landed butter-side up 29 times out of 50.
Savage and Hyneman concluded "Just like when a leaf falls from a tree, it will always have a tendency to land with the curved sides up."
We learn something new every day :-)

Spam, spam, spam, spam...

Woody's Watch, the creators of the excellent Office Watch recently posted this article online (at
The producer of the canned pork product Spam has lost a bid to stop companies using the word ‘Spam’ as a nickname for unwanted email.
The name ‘Spam’ originally meant ‘Spiced Ham’ back in 1937 when Hormel Foods Corp. started the product. In the 70’s Spam became part of pop culture with the help of the Monty Python comedy team and their famous ‘Spam’ routine, complete with Vikings singing ‘Spam, Spam, Spam’ throughout.
Hormel, makers of Spam (the food) have embraced the Monty Python connection in recent times. If you see the musical ‘Spamalot’ (in New York or London) among the extras on sale are specially labelled cans of Spam.
When unwanted email started arriving it was nicknamed ‘Spam’ by the then small Internet community, who were mostly also Monty Python fans.
Hormel’s problem is when email related companies use their trademark which is why they ended up in front of the European Union trademark tribunal. Sadly the officials decided that ‘spam’ is now used more to mean unwanted email and not the food product. We loved the quote from a company official who said "Ultimately, we are trying to avoid the day when the consuming public asks, 'Why would Hormel Foods name its product after junk e-mail?”
With Spam-a-lot (the musical version of Holy Grail by Eric Idle) just being released in London for its first season, yet another complicating matter is that a number of firms have used 'Spam' in their product names or in their company name: take Spamhaus, for example. A UK-based company with a team of 25 investigators who block between eight billion and ten billion email messages per day, with its database being used by several major security vendors, including Microsoft.
Once a word moves into common usage, the Trademark right disappears. I suspect that Spam is no longer Hormel's intellectual property. I hope it is not still listed on their balance sheet!

TLAs for SMEs

Here are this newsletter's TLAs for you:
  • HIPS, Host-based Intrusion Prevention System. Anything that contributes to preventing intrusion (ie antivirus, antispyware, file-integrity checkers, and firewalls), though usually products which deploy (1) protocol validation, (2) virtualization or sandboxing, and (3) code execution prevention.
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 & the next, we are going to look at some web browser shortcuts:
  • (Firefox) Re-opening the tab you just closed - Ctrl+Shift+T
  • (Firefox) Going to the Search bar - Ctrl+K
  • (IE and Firefox) Opening a new tab, and moving the cursor up into the address bar, ready for you to type a URL - Ctrl+T
  • (IE and Firefox) Closing the current tab - Ctrl+W
  • (IE and Firefox) opening a hyperlink destination in a new tab - click on the link while holding down the Ctrl key OR clicking the "middle" mouse button (that's the scroll wheel)
  • (IE and Firefox) closing an open tab - click the "middle" mouse button on the tab title closes the tab
  • (IE and Firefox) opening a hyperlink destination in a new browser window - click on the link while holding down the Shift key
  • (IE and Firefox) Opening a web page in a new tab after keying in the URL in the address bar - Alt+Enter
  • (IE and Firefox) Opening a search in a new tab after typing in the Search bar - Alt+Enter
  • (IE and Firefox) Zoom in & out of the page - hold down the Ctrl key and scroll the mouse wheel up or down.
  • (IE and Firefox) Finding menu - Ctrl+F
  • (IE and Firefox) Viewing history - Ctrl+H

Hot Linx
For those of you using the most secure web browser (Mozilla Firefox), there are a vast range of things you can customise. Go to to get the full list. And to download the latest version of Firefox, go to
If you don't like Zone Alarm, try eEye's 'Blink' - a HIPS software beta, free for personal use. Download from 
And for those of you who can remember lots of album covers from the last third of last century, go & take a look at this bad taste animation at
And check out this online video jigsaw puzzle where you drag & drop the pieces with your mouse to assemble it at

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

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