When we begin asking ourselves the why questions behind our work, we begin down the Path to Purpose. However, a sense of purpose and deep significance can also come when we ask ourselves what the work itself really means, in terms of its end result and impact on others; who our work serves; and how the work is done. The core of one’s work itself may be intrinsically meaningful, given the industry; it’s hard to argue the potential for purpose and meaning behind the work a schoolteacher does, for example. Of course, not all work is inherently meaning-rich. However, virtually all work can be imbued with a sense of purpose and meaning. It might just require some reframing, or looking at the work through a different set of lenses (page 59).
My daughter, preparing to interview with a senior manager at a Wall Street financial firm, asked me, “What question could I ask that would help me stand out from the crowd?”
An hour and a half later, she beeped me in the middle of a meeting and excitedly said, “Dad, I asked him the question you suggested, and he reacted exactly like you said he would. He glanced up toward the ceiling for a moment and said, ‘That’s a great question and something I don’t have an answer to, but should.’ He really connected with me after that.”
Here’s what my daughter said to earn this interviewer’s interest. When he asked her if she had a question, she responded with this:
“I’d like you to imagine it’s a year from now, and you and your bosses are reviewing the people you’ve hired this year—and when it comes to this position, they say, ‘Get us 10 more like that one. That person was one of the best hires we’ve had in a long time.’ Can you tell me what that person did for them and you to get such a rave review?”
I knew the question would work. I also told my daughter how she’d know it worked: by watching the interviewers eyes. Because at the moment he glanced up and away, she’d know she’d moved him from transaction to transformation (pages 155-6).
The Stay Interview: A Manager’s Guide to Keeping the Best and Brightest by Richard P. Finnegan
When you travel to work each day, what things do you look forward to? This question brings the employee’s mind into the here-and-now. Research indicates that the primary drivers of engagement and retention are trusting one’s manager, liking one’s colleagues and respecting their work, and enjoying the job’s duties with some degree of challenge. This question starts the meeting positively and directs employees to think about these day-to-day aspects of their jobs.
Note that the three primary engagement and retention drivers mentioned above—trusting the manager, respecting colleagues, and liking one’s duties—are all strongly influenced by the manager (pages 16-7).
This is… An Activity in which participants introduce themselves by presenting their first names as acronyms.
The purpose is… Everyone knows everyone else’s name and some interesting things about each other. That information may prompt some small talk later.
Use this when… One or more of the individuals’ names are not known; individuals do not know each other very well; You don’t have prep time and/or materials for anything more elaborate.
Materials you’ll need… No materials are necessary for this activity.
Here’s how… 1. Give group members 3 to 5 minutes to think of interesting facts about themselves that correspond to the letters of their first name. 2. Have each participant share his or her acronym.
For example… “Hi, I’m Logan. L is for Led Zepplin, one of my favorite rock groups. O is for Ohio, which is where I live. G is for German, the only foreign language I know. A is for Aunt Wendee, my favorite relative. And N is for Nice, because I am a nice guy” (page 62)!
The time required to plan is also not a valid reason to avoid project management processes. Although it is universally true that no project has enough time, the belief that there is no time to plan is difficult to understand. All the work in any project must always be planned. There is a choice as to whether planning will be primarily done in focused early-project or periodic iterative exercises or by identifying the work to be done one activity at a time, day by day, throughout the project. All necessary analysis must be done by someone, eventually. An ad hoc approach requires comparable, if not more, overall effort, and it carries a number of disadvantages. First, there can be few, if any, meaningful metrics, and tracking project progress will at best be guesswork. Second, most project risks, even those easily identified, come as unexpected surprises when they occur. Early, more thorough planning provides other advantages, and it is always preferable to have project information sooner rather than later. Why not invest in planning when the benefits are greatest (page 26)?
Export/Import Procedures and Documentation, Fifth Edition by Donna L. Bade
The United States has multiple rules to determine the country of origin of any finished good. For example, consider steel from China that is manufactured into steel blanks of specific dimensions in Thailand. Those blanks are then shipped to Mexico for further manufacture, including cutting, notching, and bending into specific sizes of steel panels. The manufactured panels are then shipped into the United States, where they are insulated, fitted with electrical components, and assembled into modular steel panels. What is the country of origin? The answer is… it depends, and it depends based on the reason you want to know! Do you want to determine the duty rate? Do you want to determine the origin marking on the item? Is it because you want to sell the item to the government? Is it because you want to sell the item to the government? Is it because you want to claim that the panes are “Made in the USA”? Why is it so important to determine a single country of origin (page 435)?
Want to sample other AMACOM books? Check out our Random Quotes from New Books series.