Feedback is a gift

Every year I am doing a simple feedback collection exercise. I am sending an email to people, with whom I interacted during the year, and ask to tell story or two of our interactions. I also ask a couple of simple questions questions about these stories–“What Mihail could do different to make results of this story better?” and “How would you describe the role Mihail played? Expert, Artist, Leader?”. I find this feedback extremely valuable, helping to get external view. Three takeaways from this year exercise:

  • Slow down for better results. Recurrent topic in what I could do better next time is spending more time on explaining and showcasing the things. It seems I have a tendency to jump forward too fast. I decided to adopt for 2024 the mantra “Slow is Smooth, Smooth is Fast”, borrowed from the Navy SEALs
  • Working prototype is better than an idea. I felt it and feedback confirmed it–on many occasions, sharing an idea of a product is a tough sell, while showing a working prototype–crude as it is, but showing all important functions–seals the deal. I decided to shift my working practices towards prototypes and cycles of revision
  • External perception of my roles (Expert + Artist + Leader) very differently from my view. This is an a very thought provoking observation, requiring more attention. I decided to track my roles during the year to get more insights.
360 Evaluation 2023

Feedback is a gift. It could be different, reflecting diversity of people and their relationships with you; it’s up to you how to use it; and it is precious, because people thought about you and took the time and effort to present it to you. So, accept it, thank for it, and make the best use of it.

Five Best Practices for a Hybrid Workplace

Hybrid work is here and will stay, it is the new normal. Still, people feel isolated in front of their screens and suffer from Zoom fatigue. What could be done?

🌟 Help employees stay connected to the mission—this keeps the company culture alive, even virtually.

🤗 Practice Empathetic Leadership—build relationship, pay attention, and make a space for small talk.

🔄 Communicate synchronously when possible to keeping people connected.

Healthy work-life balance. Setting work boundaries will help make everyone feel important and empowered. NB: I add to all emails a line “🤖 You could receive this email outside of your regular working hours. Please respond it when appropriate. Bip!”

💤 Don’t fall into the “curse of knowledge”—other people might not understand what you are talking about. Less is more…

Read full article 👉

Un_ and Under_ employment

The unemployment rate is a headline indicator, widely reported and used in policy debates. However, low
unemployment rates could mask reality and underestimate under_employment. 

The unemployment rate shows the percentage of people in the labour force who (i) do not have a job, (ii)
are looking for one; and (iii) available to start a job. This is a set of questions, asked in a questionnaire of Labour Force Survey, the primary source of labour data nationally and globally. People, who have a job, are employed, so the unemployment rate doesn’t care about them. In a similar vein, people, who are outside of labour forces, assumed to lost connection with labour market, quit the job search and not ready to take a job. However, these assumptions could be wrong. People could work less hours than desired, be discouraged to continue job search.

Since 2013 ILO has been collecting and publishing data on underemployment, which includes three measures. One is the combined rate of time-related underemployment—persons in employment whose working time is insufficient in relation to alternative employment situations in which they are willing and available to engage—and unemployment (LU2). Another is the combined rate of unemployment and the potential labour force—persons who are not in employment, while express an interest in it, for whom existing conditions limit their active job search and/or their availability (LU3). The broadest composite rate of labour underutilization (LU4) includes all three categories, time-related underemployment, unemployment and the potential labour force.

Chart below shows these rates for countries in Europe and Central Asia. The picture varies by countries, however there are three common points here:

Underemployment rates are much higher than traditional unemployment rates. For instance, in cases of Kosovo*, Georgia, Armenia there is huge number of people out of labour force, who would like to work, but limited by circumstances. Contrary, in Montenegro, Azerbaijan, Albania, there is significant time-related underemployment.

These differences call for a systemic approach in tackling un_ and under_employment, taking into account local conditions. Lack of affordable transportation could be an obstacle in some urban areas, while lack of housing could be a limiting factor in other urban areas.

One form of labour underutilization is a skill-related inadequate employment, resulting from imbalances between skills offered by workers and those needed for jobs. We need a flexible and forward-looking approach to skills formation, which should combine traditional learning approaches with practical application during apprenticeship or internship.

LU2 is the combined rate of time-related underemployment and unemployment. LU3 is the combined rate of unemployment and the potential labour force. LU4 is the composite rate of labour underutilization. Reference year for the unemployment rate and may differ for LU2-LU4.
Data from ILOSTAT

Reps Reps Reps!

This is a draft of Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s speech at UN. Each tick mark at the top mean one rehearsal–I counted 55. How many time you rehearse your speech?

Reps Reps Reps by Schwarzenegger

Reps Reps Reps by Schwarzenegger

No matter what you do in life, it’s either reps or milage. […] [The practice of putting doiwn check-mark for each rep] had a huge impact on my motivation. I always had the visual feedback of “Wow, an accomplishment. I did what I said I had to do. Now I will go for the next set, and then the next set.” Writing out my goals became second nature, and so did conviction that there are no shortcuts. It took hundreds and even thousands of repetitions for me to learn to hit a great three-quarter back pose, deliver a punch line, dance the tango in True Lies, paint beautiful birthday card, and say “I’ll be back” just the right way.