Random thoughts on things that are half connected to the way I think about HR, L&D, Management, Leadership, business and the world…. and the world of business and the business of the world – a blog by David D'Souza (@dds180)
If you follow my blog you’ll know that I was attempting to pseudogamify my diet. The original post is here http://wp.me/p3wxuY-4e. I’m sort of attempting to apply techniques from the workplace to my quest to be less podgy.
Shortly after I posted the blog I caught a bug (that I’m squarely blaming Perry Timms for) and my exercise had to stop for a week or so. At that point my progress completely stopped and I patted myself on the back for doing so well… and ate a little more than I should.
More specifically, last Friday I consumed 1.5 bottles of Prosecco and 4 beers – having not had a drink for the previous month. This drinking was accompanied by two starters and a main (I randomly chose catfish, I’m putting that down to the drinking) at a very good Vietnamese restaurant. The bill worked out cheaper than I expected http://wp.me/p3wxuY-7H
I hadn’t put weight on after this, but I lost momentum. I don’t think this was the original gamified system failing, but it does show what can happen when something is unexpectedly derailed.
Being an HR type the natural thing to do when you lose momentum is to start some form of performance management process. I did this with the help of my wife, we sat down together and agreed weight loss targets for the both of us – and then we chose a reward for hitting our own targets – but let the other person choose the penalty for missing them.
I now have a target and a stretch goal for each two week period and a penalty if I miss target and a reward if I exceed the stretch goal.
It looks like this
Weigh in every two weeks (I weigh once a day, but this will be the snapshot)
If I lose 2lb in a fortnight, that’s ok
If I lose more than 3lb in two consecutive fortnights (or a combined 6lb in a month) I get to go to a sporting event of my choice
If I lose less than 2lb in any week I have to drag myself out of bed abnormally early on a Saturday morning and clean the bathrooms in our house – to the exacting standards laid down by my wife
This new approach seems to be working so far. I’ve got as much focus as I had before. I’m now down to 13st 8lb from 14st 13lb and I’ve potentially got an exciting reward lined up.
Parallels to organisations
Performance management isn’t the trendiest of topics, but there are some basic truths that I tried to capture in my approach
Rewards are most relevant where the individual has input into them and gets an element of choice. Choice makes us feel in control and control is important to people
Keep the timescales for measurement clear, transparent and relevant. Don’t wait for 6 months to have a performance conversation if identifiable pieces of work about being completed each month
Any sanctions should be made clear ahead of time and be a reasonable consequence of the lack of change
It helps to write it down – within 48 hours my wife had attempted to sneakily lower her target. I had an email where we had logged it to show what we had agreed. Writing things down is important because people remember things differently – particularly under pressure. It isn’t being bureaucratic – it is actually helpful to all involved
Reaffirm the positive opportunity as well, rather than just setting penalties
Cash rewards have less emotional resonance than an experience (hence the reason I’m not giving myself cash to buy something if I hit target, I’m giving myself an experience I’ll remember)
Socialising targets is a good way of building commitment to them
The last point, about socialising of goals and challenges, is often overlooked. If you want to sustain a change (and get others to recognise you are trying and to support you) the best way to do it is to be vulnerable enough to admit to the need to change.
The next time you have a struggling performer, please don’t take them in a quiet room for a chat and think you’ve done your bit because you asked ‘what help do you need from me?’.
Ask ‘what support can we find you to help you get where you want to be?” or “is there anyone you’d really like to work with – or partner with – to get there faster?”.
The more people supporting them in the change, the more likely they are to succeed.
I’m a big fan of Dan Ariely and, more generally, the often suprising insights into the way people act that can be gained by behavioural economics (this is a great resource http://goo.gl/vZALS9, bookmark it and come back to it).
Dan does a regular Q+A column in the WSJ. One practical suggestion he made that always stuck with me was about the best way to settle a restaurant bill when you are out with friends, but last night, in a Vietnamese restaurant in Shoreditch I think we stumbled onto something better.
Dan’s suggestion is that the most effective way to pay when you are out with friends is for you all to take turns. The ‘pain of paying’ is what we feel when we have to part with money and the suggestion of rotating the payment provides the following benefits
the person paying gets to feel good about treating their friends, this makes paying for them more palatable
the other friends can just enjoy the meal – but don’t have to feel guilty about someone else paying as they will pay later in the rotation
it keep the meal as a social occasion, as soon as you start having to exchange money with each other (you put in 10 so take 5 change and I’ll put the rest on my card) it turns a social occasion into a transaction
I’ve always considered this a very good suggestion — although not without flaws – but the new solution that I was presented with yesterday was sogood that I can remember it even as my hangover recedes from the wine I drank with the meal.
At the end of the meal we held a lottery for payment. There were 6 of us and we decided that was too much for one person to pick up, but we agreed it would be reasonable to split it between three. We handed 6 credit cards to the waiter and asked him to shuffle them and then return 3 cards to the table – those people didn’t have to pay – the remaining 3 cards then split the bill.
This had the following benefits
it put some fun into the event – thereby mitigating some of the pain of paying
as we were playing a game it still felt sociable and fun
there is no sense of loss in the game (everyone is happy to pay for the food) but the people who don’t pay feel like winners
over time we know that we’ll all probably end up paying as often as each other – although none of us would resent the others getting free meals if they did get a ‘lucky streak’ and that would probably be fun too
So, next time you are out with regular friends consider a ‘restaurant bill lottery’ to end the meal. By the way, I won….
The list of authors is growing and is here: http://wp.me/p3wxuY-70 – I’m trying to keep it up to date but there is some lag.
Update on yesterday’s leak
I thought I’d write a brief note explaining what happened yesterday. A chain of events took place (with great intentions sitting behind them) that for a brief time meant that the book was circulating in an unfinished form. There is no harm done and it was completely unplanned. I wasn’t involved and it wasn’t part of a viral campaign. I was out shopping for socks when suddenly lots of people were tweeting about the book and copying me in. Nobody starts a viral campaign whilst shopping for socks. It’s not that the book is secret, it is that it isn’t yet ready. Also the front cover by Simon Heath is so cool that I would have included that.
I’ll be leaving it open on that link (rather than setting it to private) as someone tweeted lots of business/HR publishers with it and I’d rather they didn’t get a dead link.
Due to the leak I did want to set some people’s minds at rest by making some points about what was circulated as I got quite a few tweets/DMs
Have you axed me from the book?
No, you haven’t been axed from the book. The book isn’t finished yet, contributions are still coming in and if you weren’t in the list of authors at the back that is simply because I only put that list in (about a month ago) to remind me to put a list it. It hasn’t been updated since. The policy remains the same as long as what you have written isn’t a plug for your product or offensiveyou will find a home in the blog
I sent you my blog, but it wasn’t in there
Contrary to popular belief I’m not a blogging hermit. I have a family and occasionally go out in the sun! If you sent me your blog to update manually that will happen, but I was hoping to go the whole weekend without doing anything on the book. It hasn’t quite worked that way.
I thought the deadline had passed?
The original deadline was set to indicate pace. I really, really, really appreciate people who got work in on time or early. The nature of Twitter is that some people get to hear things later than others – I’ve chosen to welcome those people to the project. The nature of life is that people get busy and other things get in the way – I’ve chosen to understand that. Every author we gain is someone else to share your work, so please look upon the later additions positively.
When will it be published?
I hope very soon, within a month if I can. For clarity the factors in play with this are
i) I’m hoping the foreword will be produced by someone very senior in HR in the UK. They have generously agreed to this, so it will be well worth our wait to let them produce this
ii) I’m slowly making press contacts (but juggling this with attempting to find gainful employment) so if it makes sense to delay the launch to get ‘megapress’ we will
iii) We are reliant on the Amazon publishing process working as well as Amazon claim it will. I don’t foresee that being a big block, but if we lost all the formatting (for example) that would cost us time. We’ve used software to specifically avoid that so that is a reasonably well mitigated risk
iv) We are still receiving blogs so I won’t start a final edit or clear up until that stops (this week)
Anything I can do to help?
I thought you’d never ask. Anything you can do to promote the book, any contacts you have, any opportunities – bring it on! Also, anyone who would like to help with the proofreading would be much appreciated
One of the lovely aspects of the leak was seeing (on a random Saturday morning) the support and enthusiasm for the book that already exists and also receiving tweets from people I didn’t know looking forward to the release. I received lots of tweets congratulating me – I have mixed feelings about those.
I’m proud of having the idea to bring people together but without 50+ other people I would currently have just written a foreword. This is a book that people shouldn’t be thanking me for but every other contributor – it took discretionary effort from a group of people to reach a viable length for a book. Thank everyone, not just me. I’m just the ideas guy.
We are nearing the end of the ‘contributing phase’ and I’m amazed at what we have achieved in a month.
The list below is of the contributing authors and (where they have submitted early) the name of their chapter. I’l be working on confirming a release date over the next couple of weeks. We are hoping to get a ‘guest’ author to write the foreword and to tie up some PR, both these factors might impact the release date. We should be looking at within the next 4-5 weeks for a release (fingers crossed!). Thanks to everyone who has made a contribution or been a supporter. Start thinking about how you are going to publicise the book in your network on release day!
Neil Usher, Stephen Tovey – for the title
the incomparable Simon Heath – for the cover
Steve Browne – for championing the book in the US
Ian Davidson – for so many suggestions on the PR side
Have a great weekend.
@simonheath1 – Simon Heath – submitted: A Sense of Proportion (as well as contributing an entry Simon has created the cover)
@Projectlibero – Jon Bartlett
@TimScottHR – Tim Scott submitted: There’s no such thing as ‘best practice’
@HR_Gem – Gemma Reucroft submitted: A little more conversation
@OD_optimist – Meg Peppin submitted:Trust me, I’m in HR
@dougshaw1 – Doug Shaw submitted: In Fear of Fear
@LadyLoki – Niki Rosenbaum
@ruchikaabrol – Ruchika submitted: An insight into UK Culture
1. Any outstanding contributions to the book of blogs need to be in by the 16th. If, for whatever reason, you no longer wish to be included you need to let me know by the 16th too.
If you aren’t going to get it done by then, but would still like to contribute, please send me a grovelling appeal for time and a £10 note and I’ll consider each case on its merits.
2. You can find an up to date list of contributors here – if you didn’t read update last time them please do now as the book is no longer ‘free’: http://wp.me/p3wxuY-4a . You can also suggest charities for any profits and vote on titles. If it’s a draw I’ll just choose a title – so please use your vote wisely.
3. If anyone would like a sneak preview in exchange for feeding back on any errors (traditionally this is called proofreading but I’m keeping it informal) then let me know
4. If anyone has any PR/marketing ideas or contacts then please let me know – or better yet just contact them yourself and wax lyrical about the project. This has grown from a side project to an incredible collective effort – so to do justice to everyone’s work collaborating on making the book a success would be wonderful. We’ve already had some interest from People Management and Ask Grapevine – some US (or NZ?) interest would be brilliant.
5. I’m registered as a publisher with Amazon now. Hopefully I can confirm my tax status with them next week and then we are good to go!
I’m having a year that is so bad it is reaching near epic proportions. At various points I’ve told myself things can’t get any worse – they invariably have. This is the house that I grew up in, it blew up yesterday.
For a bit of context into how bad things are: the fact that I’m currently without an income ranks about number 5 in my list of concerns. Not that I’m not worried about it – it is quite a pressing concern – but I have 4 things significantly worse to worry about at any one time.
The other day, in the early hours of the morning I was staring at the ceiling wondering what exactly I’d done to deserve all this. Which black cat I had kicked under a ladder straight into a mirror. Then I started wondering who in the world would want to change places with me at the moment? Who in the world would want to deal with all of the rubbish that has drifted my way in the past year?
The answer is probably millions (if not billions) of people.
I live in an affluent country, in a nice town, I can afford to eat and I’ve got a wife and daughter so lovely that it is only ever my faults and foibles stopping us from a perfect family.
In the near future I’ll have a job again – either based on my smarts, my awesome CV (goo.gl/fySbh) or my incredible good looks. If I’m honest, it’s probably going to be the looks.
Some of the other problems will have resolved themselves, some of them won’t – but I’ll have a roof over my head, food and a loving family. That is more than many people will have, possibly more than most.
Next time you have a bad day (the train is running late, you stepped in chewing gum on the way home, it wasn’t a very productive meeting) try and work out just where your day would fit – compared the rest of the world’s population – on a scale of good to bad days. I’ll bet you are in the 95th percentile.
It could be worse couldn’t it? Go home, chat to your friends and family, open a bottle of wine. Enjoy the summer. And sleep well.