Staying productive while juggling multiple offers

Filed under: Opinion |

A couple of interesting news releases came across my desk recently.

Neither was earth-shattering-breaking news, but both seemed to be just interesting enough to throw into the “possible column ideas” basket.

The first (of course there really is no particular order of importance here) concerns a survey that Accountemps commissioned to determine the time of day that is least productive for employees.

According to the national poll, 33 percent of the 150 senior executives said that 4 to 6 p.m. was the time frame during which employee production was at its lowest. (Of course, one has to wonder how many senior executives are actually in the office after 4 p.m. to make such an observation. But maybe I’m being a bit too cynical here, so back to the survey results.)

Noon to 2 p.m. was cited by 29 percent of the execs as the least productive time period. Now I’m not a rocket scientist, but I would think that a lull in output at or around lunchtime would be somewhat expected.

The first two hours of the average workday, 8 to 10 a.m., were cited by 17 percent of respondents as the least productive. I would have thought that the number would be higher, but I suppose that Starbucks’ caffination of the American work force is well under control.

The time frame of 2 to 4 p.m. polled 15 percent, which indicates to me that most folks have given up on even thinking that they are going to get an after-lunch nap.

That leaves 10 a.m. to noon as the most productive time of day. Only 2 percent of the execs said it was the least productive.

What I really like about the poll was that 4 percent of the folks surveyed answered “don’t know.”

Now if I ever get to be a senior executive, you can bet your Sunday britches that even if I “don’t know” I’m never going to admit that to a survey taker. That’s just downright embarrassing.

Since afternoon is clearly the least productive time of the business day, Max Messmer, chairman of Accountemps, offered the following advice for avoiding the lull:

&#149 Planning makes perfect. Don’t’ delay difficult activities until the end of the day, when your energy and enthusiasm may wane. Use this time to catch up on basic tasks such as filing, responding to routine e-mails, updating contact lists and organizing files.

&#149 Get a breath of fresh air. Periodically stretch or take a short walk to refuel your energy. Enjoy your lunch outside. Even a few minutes away from your desk can help you recharge and be ore productive.

&#149 Food for thought. Missing meals is a recipe for malaise. No matter how busy you are, remember to make time for a complete meal midway through the day and nutritious snacks in between.

&#149 Take a mental break. Putting work issues out of your mind for even a few minutes can provide the boost you need to finish the day on a strong note.

Some of this advice worries me.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that Messmer falls into the senior executive category. And I’m thinking that if the top brass thinks the rest of us can clear our afternoon calendars to “catch up on basic tasks,” they’re smoking something besides Marlboro Lights in the executive washroom.

I’m also thinking that a lot of those senior executives would be none to happy to see staff simply leave the office for a “short walk to refuel.”

The advice to “make time for a complete meal midway through the day” also obviously comes from someone who hasn’t had to clock out or back in from a lunch break in a very long time.

And nutritious snacks at the office? Only if donuts, jelly beans and Dove chocolates count.

Messmer’s advice to take a mental break does make since. But I’m not going to try that either.

It’s been my experience that once I get my mind off work, getting it back on again is more labor intensive than I care to deal with.

The second interesting item (remember, there’s no real particular order here) was titled “How to keep cool when you’re the hot ticket in town.”

The information came from Lee Hecht Harrison and was intended to help folks who find themselves in the amiable position of having multiple job offers from multiple employers (does this really happen in the post dotcom era? I guess it does or they wouldn’t have sent out the information.)

Bill Wells, senior vice president and managing director Lee Hecht Harrison’s Denver office offered the following advice. (Do you see a pattern developing here?)

Ask for more time. Wells said that once a company has decided that you’re the right candidate, asking for more time shouldn’t change their opinion. Of course it might make you look indecisive or greedy or lackadaisical, but hey, that’s just my opinion.

Revisit the organization that you are still waiting to hear from. Wells said that once the competition knows that you are looking somewhere else or have another offer, you’re often more appealing. Of course, I’m thinking that they also might consider you to be pushy, greedy and inconsiderate.

Stay in your comfort zone. Here’s a direct quote: “While it’s great to be honest, only disclose as much information as you feel comfortable sharing. You may just want to tell the company you’re also considering on of their competitors and avoid questions about salary or title.” Yeah, and if you give the impression that your playing both sides or holding back, the company might decide that their competition is better off hiring you.

Know what you want. I’m not even going to relate the sentences that followed. Heck, if you don’t know what you want, what the heck are you doing sending out resumes in the first place.

I think I’m just going to kick back between 10 and noon for the next couple of weeks and see if I can’t field a bunch of sweet offers (preferably for senior executive positions) during my most productive hours of the workday.

Of course I won’t be doing that on “company” time (since that of course would be fodder for an entirely different column).

Mike Boyd is editor of the Colorado Springs Business Journal. He can be reached at mike.boyd@csbj.com or 329-5206.