Top 10 Productivity Killers

Fast Company has run the results of something or other that got them a top ten list of the things that get in your way at work, as chosen by annoyed people at work. None of the ten are going to startle you but as you recognise many of them, see what you think of the suggested solutions.

Here’s one of the ten:

Cure: Surround yourself with productive people

Much like laughter, productivity can be infectious, says [Rosemary] Haefner [chief human resources officer for CareerBuilder]. Stay away from people who like to waste time; they will drain your energy. Instead, align yourself with the company go-getters.

“Watching how others make themselves productive can inspire us to act similarly,” she writes.

Your Top 10 Productivity Killers and How to Fix Them – Stephanie Vozza, Fast Company (30 June 2015)

Read the full piece.

Fight! Fight! Fight! – The Make-Up Sequel

Just yesterday I found a Fast Company article recommending that we stop being peacemakers and sometimes just land a good punch in first. Naturally, as a civilised man, this didn’t appeal at all. Naturally, as a writer, the dramatic implication appealed a lot. And very naturally as someone who writes for a living, the notion recalled Very Many Incidents where it would’ve been a Very Bad But Oh So Right idea.

Now Fast Company is saying well, hang on a minute there, let’s think about this.

You’ve had an interaction with a coworker during which you felt hurt, angry, misunderstood, and wronged–clearly it was an upsetting and difficult situation.

You’ve Just Had a Fight with a Coworker – Now What? – Robert V Keteyian, Fast Company (13 August 2014)

Translation: you lost.

Keteyian’s full article accepts that sometimes the only way to deal with it is to say you should see the other fella: there are people you will never convince or be convinced by, there are people who fight for fighting sake and there are times their fight is not with you. They say it’s about some particular project you’re both working on but actually they’re seriously narked that they are on this job instead of having got the promotion they so rightly deserve. In all these cases and more, let it be and maybe practice a bit more in a boxing ring.

But when both sides are actually reasonable and both sides want the right thing, talk about it. This means asking them for a chat – good luck with that – but it also means digging in deep about yourself:

Now, here’s the really hard part. Change the story you developed–in which you got hurt–to include what you learned from the other person.

The reason this is so hard is that the emotional impact is embedded in your experience. What happened to you is what happened to you. However, the beliefs you connect to that experience need to include your new understanding, what you just learned from your coworker.

Getting to that understanding with someone can be tricky. When difficult interactions are revisited, one person may say, “I may have said that, but it’s not truly what I meant,” and the other may respond, “Yes, but if you said it, then you must have meant it.” This, of course, leads nowhere.

When talking, be sure to give each other enough time to fully express thoughts and feelings; talk about what’s really important to you; explain how you were affected by what the other person said and did; and apologize for anything you said or did that hurt the other person.

Be sincere about it, though, would you? None of this “I apologise if I caused you any offence you namby-pamby weakling” stuff.

Read the full piece for more about how to start this dialogue and handle it too.

No. Please, no: an app for rating your colleagues

It’s called Knozen and thank goodness I can’t test it for you: you have to have a company of at least seven people who have all signed up. It’s just you and me here and I think you’re great.

But if you were to have seven people and you were to use this service, this is the type of thing Knozen would pop up with on your iPhone:


Those shots are from Business Insider which was able to test it out and so also got screens like this:


That’s the data for Business Insider journalist Alyson Shontell who wrote the article about Knozen that gave me a double take. From her piece:

Knozen is a new iPhone app that lets coworkers rate each other’s personalities anonymously. It’s like Lulu is for men, or Yelp is for restaurants.

Founded by former Ladders CEO Marc Cenedella, Knozen pits two coworkers against each other and asks the user a series of questions such as, “Which person is friendlier?” or, “Who is more likely to buy cookies from a girl scout?”

The user then selects which coworker best fits the description and is told how many other colleagues voted the same way. At least seven people from an organization need to sign up for Knozen before they’re allowed to start rating each other to protect everyone’s identity.

Knozen might sound like a recipe for disaster, but Cenedella argues that it’s merely a way to “bring personality to the internet” and that the content is always “positive and upbeat.” You won’t find questions about a co-worker’s appearance, for example

New App That Raised $2.25 Million Lets You Anonymously Rate Coworkers – Alyson Shontell, Business Insider (30 June 2014)

I’d not heard of Lulu – other than the apparently completely separate printing and publishing company – and I also can’t seem to get you a link. But it’s reportedly a women-only app that takes your Facebook friends list and lets you rate the men you and mutual friends know.

But I’m minded more of the Bang with Friends app which became famous for upsetting the delicate sensibilities of Apple for the word Bang and reportedly for having problems with games manufacturer Zynga whose apps include “Words with Friends”. It renamed itself Down and says it’s “the anonymous, simple, fun way to find friends who are down for the night” and you’re saying yeah, sure, and why exactly is it anonymous?

Like Knozen and Lulu, it presents you with a list of people you know – this time solely through Facebook – and you can say whether you would like to get down with them. Look, we’re talking sex. It’s a who-do-you-fancy app. The thing of it is that if they also have this Down app and they have also said they fancy you, sparks are automatically messaged back and forth and either very good or very bad times happen.

I know this because I was hugely amused by the naming problems: with Apple disliking the ‘Bang’ and Zynga objecting to the ‘With Friends’ bit, there wasn’t a lot of the name left. Obviously I don’t know this because I use the app myself and nobody fancies me.


Phone a friend. Randomly.

I have not one single idea whether this is productive but it is fun.

You know that after you’ve produced something, you go back to all those people you needed beforehand and you thank them. Of course you do: without them, it wouldn’t have happened.

But I was scrolling down my iPhone’s Contacts list to one of them and right underneath her was an old friend and colleague I haven’t spoken to in a year or more.

So I rang her. Nothing to say, nothing to ask, just a call in the dark.

I hope she enjoyed it as much as I did because I had a blast. So much so that I have actually considered doing this more deliberately, phoning more people randomly. Except if you do it deliberately, it isn’t so random, is it?

Not sure about that now. But I had a lot of calls to make that day, plenty of them fun like the post-event ones, enough of them tedious like chasing this or that, and this random one-off in the middle. I tell you, it made my day.