Archive for March, 2013

Secrets to Success in a Big Change: “Tweak It” on the TODAY Show

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By harnessing the power of the small stuff, we can make it through the big stuff.  When facing a big change, the simple weekly TWEAK IT practice restores a sense of control in what can feel like overwhelming chaos.

That was the advice I shared when I recently appeared on the TODAY Show with career coach, Maggie Mistal.  Two years ago, I helped Maggie deal with the early, unexpected arrival of her son, Mercer, when she was only 27 weeks pregnant and on vacation in Miami.

Suddenly, Maggie and her husband, Craig, found themselves in an unfamiliar city, trying to take care of their fragile new son, work, find a place to live and take care of themselves.

They had to become their own advocates, and focus on the small, everyday victories–or “tweaks” that created the foundation of everyday well-being and order they needed.  And, thankfully, today Mercer is a happy, healthy, thriving two-year old.

Watch the segment to hear Maggie’s inspiring story and to learn the four tips for “tweaking” your way through a big change and beyond.

(Fun bonus: Around 1:46 minutes you can see my husband outside the TODAY show window in the bushes!)

For more, I invite you to connect with my on Twitter @caliyost and “Like” our Facebook page.

What’s the Future of Workplace Flexibility? (Minnesota Public Radio)

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I recently appeared on Minnesota Public Radio’s “The Daily Circuit” to discuss the current state of flexibility in the workplace following the announcements that Yahoo had discontinued formal telework, and Best Buy no longer supported its Results Only Work Environment.

I talked about how my new book, TWEAK IT: Make What Matters to You Happen Every Day, is the modern skill set that everyone needs, but few people have, to meet their employer halfway for flexible work success.

It was a very interesting conversation.  Listen and tell me what you think.

For more, I invite you to connect with me on Twitter @caliyost and “Like” our Facebook page

How to Communicate, Collaborate and Coordinate for Flexible Work Success

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(This post originally appeared in FastCompany.com)

Life was simpler when we worked 9-to-5, in the same office, on the same days, and we had the evenings and weekends to take care of the other parts of life. Today, more of us work from different locations and across time zones, and, if we aren’t careful, our other priorities get lost in the shuffle.

We can telework from home two days a week to avoid sitting in traffic, or shift our hours to meet the plumber before going to the office. But to do this successfully, we have to coordinate, collaborate, and communicate with others in a way that wasn’t necessary back in those simpler days.

My experience is that many people still don’t understand what this extra level of effort looks like in action. Here’s how three people recently figured it out and found satisfaction on and off the job.

“I’ve Accepted That I’m a Coordinator”

Rich is the owner of a small accounting firm, and divorced father of two who shares custody with his ex-wife. He has office space, but for the most part he and his staff work remotely from their respective homes.

He’s a believer in work flexibility. But he had to read my new book, TWEAK IT, before he understood that the coordination he did on a regular basis was a necessity, and not an annoying burden:

“One thing I’ve accepted about my work+life fit is that I’m basically a ‘coordinator.’ I feel like I spend a decent part of my day organizing things. In the beginning, it made me mad. But now I realize that part of my life really is about arranging my work, my kids, friends, girlfriend, my own stuff, etc. It’s very key to getting everything done. And if I don’t take the time to get it right, then many things can suffer.”

“It Never Crossed My Mind to Collaborate with My Colleagues”

This past week I got a call from a senior level administrator at a nonprofit. He didn’t want to retire completely for a while, but he was interested in proposing a plan that would allow him to work remotely for a period of time each year in order to be closer to his grandchildren.

We talked about his job responsibilities, and whether or not they could be done well if he weren’t in the office regularly. For the most part, the answer was “yes,” except for the rare instances when a particular issue flared up. His physical presence would be required; however, another senior person could step in initially until he got there. Although these events were infrequent, they were important. And if he couldn’t figure out how to address them, his superiors would have trouble supporting his proposal.

I suggested that he reach out to a few of his peers at similar levels and ask if they would be willing to play the “on call role” for him. And then, to make it fair, offer to cover for them on vacation, or in a way that would be most helpful to their work+life fit.

He paused and responded, “It never crossed my mind to collaborate with colleagues, but that makes complete sense for all of us.”

“I Could Ask My Team to Call Me If They Really Need Me”

The truth is that we don’t talk to each other when we want to work flexibly throughout the day.

In our national 2011 Work+Life Fit Reality Check survey, we asked, “When you make those occasional changes in how, when and where you work, who do you discuss those changes with?”:
• 79% said “your supervisor”
• 63% said “your spouse, family or partner”
• 52% said “your colleagues”
• 45% said “those you supervise”

Imagine how much easier it would be to come in a few minutes later in the morning so that you can meet the plumber, or leave a few minutes earlier to attend your son’s soccer game, if we communicated with and supported each other more openly.

For one woman who recently attended a speech I gave, the challenge was to stop always eating lunch at her desk. She genuinely felt that if she walked away for 30 minutes, something would happen and, therefore, she could never leave.

I challenged her. “Is there another way you could be available but not necessarily at your desk eating?” She responded, “Well, I guess I could bring my phone with me, and I ask my team to call me if they really needed me.” She hadn’t thought to ask.

If we want to take back our life, we have to coordinate, collaborate, and communicate with each other in a way that wasn’t required in the past. And many of us still don’t understand what that means or looks like. As the stories above illustrate, the potential personal and professional payoffs make the effort worth it.

How do you coordinate, collaborate, and communicate with others so that what matters to you–on and off the job–actually happens?

For more, I invite you to: Connect with my on Twitter @caliyost and “Like” our Work+Life Fit Facebook page.

Why the Real Yahoo Story is How to Make Flexibility Work for Business AND People (My Fox & Friends Segment)

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On Saturday, I appeared on Fox & Friends to discuss Yahoo’s decision to no longer allow employees to telework and to explain why I wasn’t surprised by the announcement.

The complete segment is below; however, here are the main points I emphasized:

  • The issue is not Yahoo specifically. The real story is “how to make flexible work succeed for both business AND people?”  It’s not necessary to throw the “flexibility baby out with the bath water” when it’s not working.
  • There are many steps an organization can take to fix and reposition work flexibility when it’s failing. You don’t have to make it all-or-nothing: work from home all the time, or come into the office ever day.
  • Flexible work was broken at Yahoo.  They most likely (as evidenced by they fact telework was referred to as a “benefit”) didn’t implement telework correctly to begin with.

Here are the three things every organization needs to do to avoid becoming Yahoo, and now Best Buy:

  • Train your people–Most “abuse” of work flexibility is cluelessness:  We all need to learn how to use flexibility to manage our everyday work+life fit in a way that works for us and our jobs.  It is a modern skill set that most of us don’t have and we all need.  My new book TWEAK IT: Make What Matters to You Happen Every Day (Center Street/Hachette) shows everyone “how to.”
  • Put the technology in place to encourage sharing, collaboration and communication and then expect people to use it.  Many organizations do not invest enough in this extra layer of systems and support.
  • Have clarity and accountability about expectations not only about results but how the job will get done effectively and efficiently for everyone.  Review and revise often.  And if someone isn’t using work flexibility as expected, they don’t get to continue.

This is not about Yahoo and Marissa Mayer. The real story is how do we make work flexibility a powerful strategy that helps both business and people succeed? If we can stay focused on that, then we can use this moment to make it better for everyone. What do you think?