As one of my many loyal readers, you will by now be well-acquainted with my love of peace and tranquillity. My professional services as an internationally-renowned Business guru and IT Consultant are, of course, legendary and in constant demand, but at the end of a hard week slaving away at the cutting edge of online Project Management, Document Management and Cloud Computing, even I need to relax. My high-tech Home Office here in the Cow Byre at Little Billing Grange is also my personal sanctuary, a place where I can get away from the hurly-burly of office politics, turn my back on the cut-throat world of international business and commerce, and just unwind.
Nevertheless, in a generous spirit of sharing, I occasionally like to reach out to the local business community and give them the much-needed benefit of my wealth of wisdom and expertise. In a selfless gesture to those less gifted and fortunate than myself, round about this time every year I fling open the door to my inner sanctum and welcome the general public in to the Cow Byre. Or rather, I welcome in those who have forked out forty quid for a half-day's expert consultation with tea and sandwiches thrown in.
And today is one of those red-letter days. The Cow Byre has been thoroughly aired and tidied up, chairs have been set out in rows for the expected throng, and every portable item of value securely locked away. All is orderly and polished; after all that cleaning and scrubbing the lingering tang of manure is now barely discernible. Seamus and Sebastian are on hand to help with the refreshments; Farmer Skinner has kindly fenced off a corner of Twittering Meadow to accommodate the overflow car park; I have carefully prepared my PowerPoint presentation and managed to set up the projector. All is prepared; I am ready to face my public.
The topic I will be addressing today is the eternal problem of Resource Management and employee time tracking. People are always asking me 'How do you organise and motivate your staff?' God knows I have had ample experience of dealing with difficult people. Recalcitrant Business Analysts and reluctant IT developers hold no fears for me: over the last thirty years I have seen them all. Lazy Project Managers and idle Web Developers, shiftless technical support staff: you'd better gird up your loins and look to your laurels because, make no mistake, I know who you are and I AM ON YOUR CASE!
So, how do I do it? What is it, the elusive secret of staff motivation? How can you make your sluggard resources wake up, buck up and bend to your will? Forget your online file management systems, forget your state-of-the-art electronic time management software. Forget expensive team-bonding exercises in over-priced hotel conference suites. I'll let you into a secret. What lies at the beating heart and the very hub of my global business empire? A decent cup of Lapsang Souchong and a good ginger biscuit, that's what! Start mucking about with filthy foreign, new-fangled coffee contraptions and snack vending machines and God knows where it will all end.
If you take home just one nugget of wisdom from my lecture today, I beseech you to remember this: make sure you have a good supply of proper tea , made in a tea-pot from tea-leaves, not from those wretched, miserable, tea-bags, and not, God forbid, from an automatic vending-machine. I wouldn't even pay that muck the compliment of calling it by the blessed name of tea: it is merely an artificial concoction compounded from a hellish tincture of chemicals and e-numbers. A hot beverage, possibly, but certainly not tea.
To quote that well-known adage from the world of Information Technology: 'GIGO', or 'GARBAGE IN, GARBAGE OUT'. To put it in the vernacular, feed your staff rubbish and rubbish is what they will churn out. In all my many long years of working in business and technology I have yet to encounter any worthwhile piece of work that was ever produced by a Project Worker who did not drink a proper cup of tea at regular and frequent intervals. If you are ever unfortunate enough to be saddled with this type of person as part of your team, however, I can only sympathise with you, and advise you to try and wean them off their disgusting habits as soon as possible. In these God-forsaken days of political-correctness-gone-mad and equal opportunity manifestoes, you are, unfortunately, no longer legally entitled to chastise them physically or give them the sack.
So, to summarise: once you have got your resources all drinking from the same tea-pot, as it were, you will soon find that they are pulling together as a tightly-knit, highly-disciplined professional unit. Throw into the mix a regular supply of home-made biscuits (I find that the ones sold by the Much Twittering WI in the Victoria Hall at their monthly Bring & Buy are suitable), and you will find yourself onto a winner. Tedious activities such as regular Team Meetings and Progress Reports will become unnecessary: you will meet quite frequently and naturally as a matter of course, as you make your way to the tea kettle in the staff kitchen. I call this the organic approach to Resource Management, and in my opinion, it is the only approach that actually works. But wait, I think I hear the screech of brakes, it must be Daphne Winteringham rolling up in her Jag. Hope she doesn't get stuck in the mud and has come in her wellies, or there will be Hell to pay. Toodle-oo.
Charlotte Mooney is an IT professional with many years experience, currently working for International IT Software Consultancy Proswift, specialising in the Webforum online Document Management and online Project Planning Service. If this story strikes a chord with you, click one of the links above and check out what Webforum could do for you and your business.