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Are You Becoming a “Productive” Moron?

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Are You Becoming a “Productive” Moron?

Imagine, 1-2 years from now, that a new kind of employee has emerged in your place of work.

He’s seen as effective by executives and managers alike, and is famous for the speed at which he returns email.

In fact, the new email tracking software that the company has in place then, shows that he has the best average email response rate — he replies to email, on average, a mere “5.73 minutes after receipt.”

The numbers also show that he’s able to respond at all hours of the night, on weekends, when he’s on vacation or on holidays, and while he’s supposed to be sleeping.

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    He’s the kind of guy who regularly drops everything to help out an executive with any request they might have. He’s learned that success breeds success. As his reputation grows as the go-to guy, more executives call him out of the blue to get his help.

    He’s known to carry his smartphone to the unlikeliest of places, some of which are “un-hygienic,” but hey… he works hard for his number one ranking.

    He’s regularly held up as a model for others, and employees whose email response rate is much worse are often sent to him for coaching.

    They all have the same complaint, however.

    When they try to talk with him it’s hard to get his undivided attention.

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    He interrupts their coaching sessions by checking his email. As text messages come into his smartphone he responds to them immediately, and there’s not a phone call that can ever roll over to his voicemail. He answers lots of messages in the moment, or close to it, and that by itself generates lots of new messages from the recipients.

    They are never able to get any good advice from the guy in the two minutes they have with him between interruptions. In fact, it seems as if he’s always looking for something more exciting than the conversation or meeting he’s in, making people wonder if he’d not alternately suffering and benefiting from ADD.

    He’s actually a moron. But he’s a quite a productive one.

    It all started when his boss gave him his first Blackberry, after observing that he was piss poor at managing his own time. He would sit down for hours waiting for something to do, but he didn’t have the ability to actually start anything useful on his own. Nor could he take on projects that were too long, or complex.

    What he could do quite well, however, was to respond to email, so giving him a smartphone seemed to be a good decision, especially when he replied to his first midnight email within minutes one Sunday morning, quite unnecessarily… This only confirmed to some that he wasn’t that smart.

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    What his boss didn’t anticipate was that the no-too-smart employee would be held up as a role model, while demonstrating behaviours that used to be seen by most as counter-productive. In the rush for quick results, the company became one that punished its good workers and rewarded the morons.

    If this isn’t happening in your company, be warned, because the most recent research indicates that it’s coming faster than the speed of a hot email.

    A recent article in the New York Times on recent research by Intercall, noted that 30% of workers in the U.S. who use technology to do their jobs feel the need to stay connected to work 24/7, even during weekends, breaks and holidays. One in two workers also say that taking time off is becoming increasingly challenging.

    Today, 25% of workers think that their supervisors expect them to be online and connected to work after hours and that their job security depends on this. Almost 15% of respondents say that they plan to attend at least one work-related call or web meeting during their next vacation and 17% say that it is frowned upon if they don’t connect to work during their vacations.

    I’d like to make a bet.

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    Without the active intervention of management in your company, these numbers are only going to get worse. They are fuelled by fears and anxieties that have increased during this recession, and technology has allowed bad habits to spread across companies like wildfire.

    Turning the ship around is no easy task.

    After all, where does the accountability for “worker productivity” lie in most companies? Is it with line managers? The CEO? The CFO? Someone in Human Resources?

    It’s one of those issues that’s likely to continue to fall through the cracks, and anyone who does try to change it is faced with the fact that they’ll need the consensus of a number of executives and managers in order to turn things around. In other words, there will have to be public, broad agreement to not send or reply to emails, IM’s and text messages after 12am and before 6am.

    Until that happens, more workers will feel like they need to connect to work 24/7, and more managers will make employees feel as if they need to be online and connected after hours, and even more will believe that their job security relies on adopting behaviors modeled by the productive moron.

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    In the meantime, corporate productivity will continue to suffer as more employees are given smartphones, and bad habits become defacto operating standards.

    Who in your company will stand up and say “we’ve ALL had enough, and we’re not going to take this anymore?”

    More by this author

    Francis Wade

    Author, Management Consultant

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    Last Updated on November 25, 2021

    Protecting Your Online Life With Secure Passwords

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    Protecting Your Online Life With Secure Passwords

    With all of the recent online services and companies falling under attack to hackers in the past few months, it seems only fitting to talk about password creation and management. There are a lot of resources out there discussing this, but it never hurts to revisit this topic time and again because of its importance.

    Password management isn’t necessarily a difficult thing to do, yet it does seem like a bit of an annoyance to most people. When it comes to password management, you will hear the famous line, “I don’t really care about changing my passwords regularly. I have nothing important online anyways.” Let’s see if you have nothing important online when your PayPal account gets taken over because you thought the password “password” was good enough.

    In my opinion, it is an “internet user’s” responsibility to make sure that they keep secure passwords and update them on a regular basis. In this article we will discuss how to make your online presence more secure and keep it secure.

    The easy fundamentals

    First thing is first; creating a strong password.

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    A strong password is a mixture of alpha-numeric characters and symbols, has a good length (hopefully 15 characters or longer), and doesn’t necessarily represent some word or phrase. If the service you are signing up for doesn’t allow passwords over a certain length, like 8 characters, always use the maximum length.

    Here are some examples of strong passwords:
    * i1?,2,2\1′(:-%Y
    * ZQ5t0466VC44PmJ
    * mp]K{ dCFKVplGe]PBm1mKdinLSOoa (30 characters)

    And not so good examples
    * sammy1234
    * password123
    * christopher

    You can check out PC Tools Password Generator here. This is a great way to make up some very strong passwords. Of course the more random passwords are harder to remember, but that is where password management comes into play.

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    Managing your passwords

    I know some people that keep their passwords in an unencrypted text file. That’s not a good idea. I suppose that if you aren’t doing much online and are decent at avoiding viruses and such, it could be OK, but I would never recommend it.

    So, where do you keep your strong passwords for all the services that you visit on a daily basis?

    There are a ton of password safes out there including KeePass, RoboForm, Passpack, Password Safe, LastPass, and 1Password. If and when I recommend any of these I always count on LastPass and 1Password.

    Both LastPass and 1Password offer different entry types for online services logins (PayPal, Twitter, Facebook, Gmail, etc.), credit cards and bank accounts, online identities, and other types of sensitive information. Both have excellent reviews and only differ in a few subtle ways. One of the ways that is more notable is that LastPass keeps your encrypted password Vault online where 1Password allows you to keep it locally or shared through Dropbox. Either way, you are the holder of the encryption keys and both ways are very secure.

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    LastPass and 1Password both offer cross-platform support as well as support for Android and iOS (LastPass even has BlackBerry support). 1Password is a little pricey ($39.99 for either Windows or Mac) where LastPass has free options as well as premium upgrades that allow for mobile syncing.

    Upkeep

    You should probably change your passwords for your “important” accounts at least every 6 weeks. When I say “important” accounts I am referring to ones that you just couldn’t imagine losing access to. For me that would be Gmail, PayPal, eBay, Amazon, all my FTP accounts and hosting accounts, Namecheap, etc. Basically these include any account where financial information could be lost or accessed as well as accounts that could be totally screwed up (like my webserver).

    There is no hard and fast rule to how often you should change your passwords, but 6 to 8 weeks should be pretty good.

    Alternatives

    You may think that all of this is just too much to manage on a daily basis. I will admit it is kind of annoying to have to change your passwords and use a password manager on a daily basis. For those people out there that don’t want to go through all of the hub-bub of super-secure, encrypted, password management, here are a few tips to keep you safe:

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    1. Create a unique and hard to guess “base password” and then a pattern to use for each site you logon onto. For instance a base password could be “Ih2BaSwAa” (this stands for “I have two brothers and sisters who are annoying”). Then you would add something “site specific” to the end of it. For Twitter Ih2BaSwAaTWTTR, Facebook Ih2BaSwAaFCBK, etc. This is sort of unsecure, but probably more secure than 99% of the passwords out there.
    2. Don’t write your passwords down in public places. If you want to keep track of passwords on something written, keep it on you at least. The problem is that if you get your wallet stolen you are still out of luck.
    3. Don’t use the same passwords for every service. I’m not even going to explain this; just don’t do it.

    These are just a few things that can be done rather than keeping your passwords in a management system. Personally, with over 100 entries in my password management system, I couldn’t even dream of doing any other way. But those out there with only a few passwords, having a simpler system may be beneficial.

    So, if you want to be a “responsible internet citizen” or you just don’t want to lose your precious account data, then creating and maintaining strong passwords for your online accounts is a must.

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