Your Work Is More Than Your Title

You Are More Than Your Title
You are far more than your title.


Does your role limit what you can do?

The responsibilities you were hired for probably determine the primary goals of your day-to-day work. But I’m a firm believer that they aren’t all that you can, or even should, do.
Imagine, for a moment, that you are a crane operator.

In this high-pressure role you are responsible for raising and lowering incredibly heavy loads based on instructions from a foreman.

One day, the foreman instructs you to lower the load to the ground. As you get ready to perform the task, you spy an abandoned vehicle precisely where the load will land. The foreman hasn’t seen the car. What do you do?

Think about it…then read onward.


Obviously, (hopefully?!), you don’t crush the car. But what else?

Would you try to figure out the root cause of the problem? Why the car is even there?

Is there an opportunity to improve the situation for next time? Maybe the signage directing work vehicles is misleading, or maybe there is a lack of security at the work site.

You could do only your assigned job, and in this case opt not to lower the cargo.

Or, you could make sure that vehicles are kept out of that area in the future and avoid another situation with a car where it doesn’t belong.

Which choice would you make?

Think about the role that you are in now.

Do you complete your work based on a precedent, or as you have been instructed? Is your current process based on the training you received from the person vacating the role, and was that person trained by the person before them?

A critical concept of Continuous Improvement is that the individual doing a task is most often the best person to figure out better ways of doing that task. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

So how often do you suggest changes to the way the work is done based on your own experience?

You can make a bigger contribution.

The job you do isn’t the only contribution you can make.

Look for opportunities outside of the scope of your role. Choose to realize improvements.

I think you’ll experience not only the success of making positive change, but also a level of job satisfaction and peer recognition that will prove that your work is more than your title.

Are You A Slave to Email? (aka Master Your Email Inbox. Today!)

How many emails do you get a day? What happens when you go on vacation? Are you a slave to your Outlook task-master?

These are a few of the questions I like to ask when the opportunity presents itself. I love helping people battle email overload. It’s the Lean Accountant in me.

Email Overload = Email Slavery

Take, for example, my recent conversation with a Program Manager here at Creation. We were chatting as we waited for the coffee machine and the subject of vacation came up (among other lofty topics).

I asked if he was able to truly unplug during his vacation. “Sure,” he said, “except for checking my email.” My ears perked up.

Turns out he gets so many emails that he checks them on vacation to avoid a landslide when he comes back.

He went on to say that many of these emails are exchanged between the people on his Customer-Focused Team. One of the reasons our CFTs are co-located is to avoid this traffic. So why was it still occurring?

When I dug further, his estimate was around 1,000 total emails during one week of vacation.


Now this isn’t the case for everyone, but others have shared similar stories. This begs the question, “Is email really our job?”

I recently surveyed my business unit to see how people are managing email. A shocking 20% of us have 50 or more unread emails in our Inbox.

So how do we keep up with the tide? And how many emails are awaiting your attention right now…?

Take control and master your email Inbox! Start now!


5 Tips to Master Email Overload

Here are 5 of my favourite tools to help you manage your email. Some are simple to implement while others require more work. I use all of them.


Tip #1: Set expectations with the people who send you email about what you like or don’t like.

This is key. Though there are some common practices in ‘netiquette’, each person’s preferences for email use is different.

For example, I ask that people only send me emails that they believe I need to read. Period.

And please don’t send me ‘Thank you!’ emails! Thank me in person the next time we meet or speak.


Tip #2: Delete unnecessary messages.

This is a hard one for hoarders, but I really believe that much of the day-to-day email traffic can be safely deleted. Eliminate the muda!

(Many Lean principles are predicated on the elimination of muda, a Japanese word for waste, to focus on opportunity).


Tip #3: Use Rules to manage incoming messages.

At Creation we use Microsoft Outlook, but one of the great things about today’s email clients in general is that they allow you to set up Rules to manage email messages, automate tasks and increase the flow of information.

Take advantage of email Rules to manage the many notifications and group emails common these days. Use a Rule to move them to a folder for later review. (And then delete them. Remember Step 2?)


Tip #4: Add Categories or Follow-Up Flags to help you prioritize and organize.

If Rules can’t quite deal with an incoming message, try classifying it using the email client’s default Categories (and you can even customize the names to suit your own needs).

I apply the same Category schemes to my calendar. This visual management tool can help you quickly navigate your inbox.

Another way to keep on track is to add Follow-Up Flags and reminders. Sometimes an email requires a future response and Flags are a great way to jog your memory.


Tip #5: Set AutoArchive to clean up your folders automatically.

I have an annual archive file that receives my old emails (only the ones I want to keep) after about 3 weeks. This archive file is a searchable location but keeps the file size down on the server. Our IT team appreciates this one. Here’s a good article about managing AutoArchive features in Outlook 2010.

I’d love to read your thoughts. Are you in control of your inbox? Or are you a slave to email? Please share your own system and tips for managing it!



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