TGIF – Turkey At Home – Good!; Turkeys At The Office – Bad!!

November 23, 2012 by Bill Bradley

As the week winds down, we wind down with some tidbits for your information, education, health, and enjoyment.

Quote of the Week: “Dear God, I am writing you about some concerns I have about being a turkey.  It seems in your infinite wisdom you decided to make us fat, flightless and evidently delicious.  Did we do something to make you mad?  Sincerely yours,”  Mr. Turkey

Humor Break:

Bev: Al, today is Thanksgiving.  I think it is a good time to express what we are thankful for.

Al: For starters, I am thankful I am not a turkey.

Early American Thanksgiving Humor:

“Before that first Thanksgiving dinner there was one wise, old Native American woman who was quoted as saying, ‘Don’t feed them. If you feed them, they’ll never leave.’”  Dylan Brody

“Thanksgiving, when the Indians said, ‘Well, this has been fun, but we know you have a long voyage back to England’.”  Jay Leno

Stat of the Week: 17% of managers’ time goes to the care and feeding of Turkeys at work.  Today is “Black Friday” in the United States.  It is an odd semi-holiday oddly construed to celebrate the end of yesterday’s celebration (in the United States it is known as Thanksgiving).  Today it is the day merchants will be giving Thanks as many shopping festivals occur in commercial areas in memory of the Bird-of-Choice, the Thanksgiving Turkey who gave his or her life so we may all party hardy.  But I digress.  Today’s topic is about another type of Turkey.  The office turkey.  The poor performer.  A report from Robert Half International was recently quoted in the Los Angeles Times, stating that the office turkeys (my choice of words) consume about 17% of management’s time … or almost one day a week.  The office turkeys are below average in productivity, managers aren’t at their most productive and office morale sags.  In other words, these are birds that can’t fly, consume profits, and leave little “nasties” all around the office.

Action Tip: If you supervise an office turkey, point the bird to exit sign.  Manage them out of your organization.  It’s good for them and it’s good for your reputation.  If you don’t take appropriate action, you could be one of the 17%.

The Self-Development Corner: I am continuing my crusade to urge you to go back to college the free and easy way: Online! I am writing of course about courses on Coursera, the free worldwide university system.  I love Coursera and I urge you to try it out.  But today I would like prove it is not blind love.  I have found a serious flaw in their system and I would like to share it with you.

I am taking a history class.  I have 83,000 classmates in my class.  Don’t worry, the World is our classroom.  Size isn’t a problem.  We all watch the same video lectures each week (the videos are made just for this course).  We all take the same short quizzes (and we only see our own results, so no worries there!).  We have a second option to read the recommended readings.  Sometimes the readings are books, sometimes the readings are online articles (books might have a cost).  The readings are good – just like university literature should be.  No complaints.

There is a third level and here is where Coursera has problems.  Students are invited to complete short essays every two weeks.  When the essay is submitted it is reviewed by a random sampling of 5 other students participating in the essay portion of the class (in the first round of essays, 1,800 submitted essays).  I am sure when this form of review was set up there was great optimism about peer review.  I have been through two rounds of essays and have not received a single comment of value (something that would improve my essay).  Some folks have liked my essays; some have not.  Some seem to not understand what an essay is.  My favorite piece of feedback came from a person who told me in one sentence that I was a poor writer.  His/her single sentence contained one grammatical error and three misspelled words.

I have written a rather lengthy email to Coursera outlining my issues (okay, complaints) and making some suggestions on how they can improve this portion of the course and similar courses.  In the meantime I will not be investing my time in writing the essays.  I still enjoy the remainder of the course and remain a great overall supporter.

I have not taken any of the science, math or computer courses, but my understanding is that the third level of participation will be problem-solving with “correct” answers, so for those classes peer review will not be a problem.

Bill Bradley (mostly) retired after 35 years in organizational consulting, training and management development. During those years he worked internally with seven organizations and trained and consulted externally with more than 90 large and small businesses, government agencies, hospitals and schools.

Posted in Engagement

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