Eric P. Bloom GHNS
Eric P. Bloom GHNS

When during the workday are you most energetic, wide awake, and ready to take on the world? On the other side of that coin, when during the workday would you prefer to be taking a nap to recharge your internal batteries? Enough about you, when during the workday do you think your boss, staff, clients, customers and peers are most awake or half asleep?   

The answers to the previous questions can be of great value to you in regard to your staff’s productivity, when negotiating with your peers and customers, and when trying to get your boss to agree to a proposal that’s near and dear to your heart.

The rationale behind how this works can best be described by explaining an old business trick. The trick is to negotiate a deal with someone when you are totally mentally awake and the person you are negotiating with is at slightly less than full capacity. No, I don’t mean alcohol or other mental recreational substances; I mean a delicious bowl of pasta and meatballs (actually one of my favorites).

Imagine this scenario; you bring your future client out to lunch at your favorite restaurant. Your future client, by your recommendation, orders a big bowl of pasta with turkey meatballs. Meanwhile you decide to get a big salad with light dressing with the excuse that you’re watching your weight. Then, right after the meal you start negotiating the contract. Guess who’s wide awake and who’s a little bit sleepy? Now guess who will probably fare better in the contract negotiation?

This story illustrates the advantage of knowing your daily mental cycles and the mental cycles of those around you. Listed below are a few practical applications of this technique:

  • If you would like to have a very fruitful brainstorming session with your boss on an important business issue, schedule the meeting at a time of day when both you and your boss are as mentally alert as possible.

  • If you want to reduce your department’s productivity loss associated with weekly staff meetings, have it at a time of day when your staff, on average, is less mentally alert, leaving their most productive time of day for work on important tasks.

  • If you are negotiating with a business peer about who gets the office overlooking the ocean and who gets the office overlooking the parking lot and the dumpsters, schedule the meeting when you are most mentally alert and he/she is less focused. Alternatively, invite him/her out for a nice pasta lunch, your treat :)

  • If you are interviewing for a new job over lunch with a potential new employer, be very careful what you eat to assure you are on the top of your game. Maybe even have a cup of coffee before you go.

  • If you are obliged to attend committee meetings where you have no vested interest other than to make an appearance, try to schedule the meetings when you are at your lowest mental strength during the workday.

  • If you are giving an important presentation to upper management or a prospective client and want them fully engaged in the conversation, try to schedule it at a time when you, the presenter, and they, the audience, are as sharp and cognitively alert as possible.

This concept/technique is by no mean foolproof, but it does have merit. My goal in teaching you this technique is not so you can take advantage of others. As seen in the above examples, (except of course for the office facing the ocean) are ways that you can increase your team’s work efficiency, maximize your personal productivity, and enhance your communication with others.

The primary advice and takeaways from today’s column is to know that:

  • Managing knowledge workers can be both extremely rewarding and extremely frustrating based on your personal management style and/or the temperament of your knowledge workers.  

  • You must understand your personal strengths, weaknesses, management style and personal insecurities.

  • You must also understand the specific strengths, weaknesses, needs and wants of the people working for you.

  • You must understand your company’s corporate culture as to relative organizational power/relationship between managers and the knowledge workers they employ.

Until next time, work hard, work smart, manage well and continue to build your professional brand.

Eric P. Bloom is the president and founder of Manager Mechanics LLC, a management training company specializing in information technology leadership, and is the governing organization of the ITMLP and ITMLE certifications. He is also a keynote speaker, nationally syndicated columnist and author of the books “The CIO’s Guide to Staff Needs, Growth, and Productivity,” “Your IT Career: Get Noticed, Get Promoted, and Build Your Professional Brand” and “52 Great Management Tips.” Contact him at eric@ManagerMechanics.com, follow him on Twitter at @EricPBloom or visit www.ManagerMechanics.com.