In the midst of a pleasant two-week road trip with my family, I observed something of note. Interrupting my view of the rolling grasslands of central Oregon and the twisting turns of California’s Highway 101, were “Adopt-A-Highway” signs. Standard issue: small, square. Oregon’s were green. You’ve seen them. Some person or group pays the state for the responsibility of keeping this particular mile clean and in return, gets free advertising.
I am a firm believer in the value of professional reading as a critical part of professional and personal development. Early in my career, I began maintaining a list of titles that leaders and peers recommended, a list that expanded considerably during my time in CGSC and SAMS. But I was seldom able to whittle it down, let alone think critically about what I was reading. Professional responsibilities, family obligations, TDY travel, and deployments continued to pile on and, probably just like you, professional reading was the victim.
Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Juliet Moth reads through a safety study guide in the weapons handling area aboard the USS Ronald Reagan, the Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier, in the South China Sea, July 16, 2016. Navy photo
by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ryan McFarlane.
I bet that more than once a day, you let out a sigh of frustration at the absentminded staff activity that surrounds you…Your boss asks why you didn’t respond to his “urgent” email. THE NEW OPERATIONS NCO TYPES IN ALL CAPS (incredibly annoying). Someone prints 30 full-page copies of the 53-slide presentation because, “there are 30 people in the meeting, right?” And in that meeting, your unit’s update doesn’t make it to the slides, even though you sent them yesterday.
And those are just the ones you notice! There are probably dozens more inefficiencies, idiosyncrasies, and ineptitudes you aren’t even aware of that impair you and your staff’s productivity.
Having spent a few years in the Army staff machine, I offer these immediate adjustments to reclaim your sanity and reduce the needless, often well-intentioned but inefficient staff practices that keep you from getting more important work done.
The U.S. Army’s ‘Cyber Center of Excellence’, Fort Gordon in Augusta, Ga., hosted a multi-service ‘NetWar’ to show, and build, cyber Warrior capabilities Tuesday, June 10, 2016. Georgia Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Tracy J. Smith.
Stanley McChrystal (retired General and Managing Partner at McChrystal Group) recently posted a LinkedIn article, How I Keep Up with an Unrelenting Work Pace. The article was published February 1, 2016 and is receiving excessive praise from many. It is also receiving criticism from those who note the inherent risks of applying strategic level leadership experiences without thought or reflection. Here are some things you should pay attention to when reading McChrystal’s article.
Perhaps more than any other professional culture, the military demands that Soldiers perform their duties with a particularly high level of decorum and professionalism. This is manifested in our hierarchical rank structure and our daily interactions with superiors, peers, and subordinates. While the rise of digital technology has the potential to make these relationships stronger and improve the overall performance of individuals and organizations, it also has the potential to significantly damage one’s image.
Credit: Army Sergeant Christopher M. Gaylord, 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
One week spent in a military unit will show you that efficiency isn’t its shining characteristic. Not only does information bombard the unit from multiple levels of the chain of command, but within the organization there are hundreds of conversations taking place to prepare for, synchronize, and execute the myriad of events on the calendar. (And I’m sure the same is true for the business world.)
These conversations happen over thousands of emails, in meetings, face to face, and on the phone. And if your experience is like mine, almost everything goes out over email.
But what if there was a way to customize your conversations based on your team’s requirements instead of relying on the single “channel” that is the email inbox? What if you could have your conversations in the right place, instead of all over the place?
When I took over my duty position, my supervisor told me that in order to succeed, I needed to get more involved in orders and taskings than the officer I replaced. I did the opposite and got better results. Here’s how.
Gen. Raymond Odierno presents a coin to a Soldier wearing a Level A, hazardous materials, suit Jan. 13. Soldiers from the Incident Response Training Department provided Odierno with a demonstration of the different equipment, training and techniques used in case of a chemical incident. Link
Microsoft Excel is one of the most widely used software tools in the military. We use it more than we fire our weapons. Many a staff officer and commander have spent countless hours creating that perfect spreadsheet to accomplish the mission. And if you’ve ever frustratingly uttered, “there has got to be a more efficient way to do this,” check out these Excel tips.
Thanks to Army Captain Dan Hudalla for contributing this post!
If you found it useful, also check out “11 Keyboard Shortcuts You Must Learn