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From Loren Nelson, NelsonEcom
Internet Solutions | Visual Design
Web Sites & Multimedia & Usability Engineering
We May Dose, but We Never Close

August 17, 2007 – Vol. XI, No. 21

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NetBits is the weekly newsletter keeping your informed of various chatter and other tidbits of potential relevance.

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In This Issue:

Item One: Rental car strategy
Item Two: Six Steps to Effective Delegation
Item Three: Exercise and Physical Fitness
Item Four: Word of the Week
Item Five: Ice Off The Lake
Do you know…

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1. Rental car strategy
 

Reserve the least expensive model

Once you select a model, no rental-car company will ever let you leave with a cheaper one. When the car you reserved isn’t available, they’d rather give you a better car for the same price than a lesser car for a lower price. If you’re inclined, you can negotiate an upgrade at the car-rental counter.

Prepaid gas is for people traveling on expense accounts
You know who you are.

Do ask, do tell
Laws vary by state and rules vary by company, but unmarried couples can often skip the extra-driver fee (and the paperwork) simply by telling the clerk that they’re domestic partners. Don’t wait for the clerk to ask what your relationship is. Other ways to try to get around the extra-driver fee: joining the loyalty club (what on earth are you waiting for?), saying that you’re coworkers or that you’re members of AAA, AARP, or Costco. The point is to ask.

Grab the keys and go
Join the free loyalty club and you won’t have to wait in what can be a cruelly long line, or tell the agent your address, or listen to the upsell on a bigger model or on insurance. You can get off the lot and into your vacation in a matter of minutes.

Think globally, browse locally
It’s a little-known fact that some car-rental companies have different websites for different countries, and the rates for the same rental can vary. The prices quoted at Budget.com, for instance, won’t necessarily be equal to the rates at the sites for the United Kingdom (budget.co.uk), Germany (budget.de), Ireland (budget.ie), and South Africa (budget.co.za). It’s worth poking around.

Don’t pay double for insurance
Insurance is a big profit generator for car-rental agencies, and they don’t mind that it’s confusing. If you own a car, however, your owner’s policy will cover you no matter what car you’re driving, including a rental. Also, most credit cards cover the Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) automatically, so there’s no need to give the rental agency that extra $10 to $20 per day.

 
2. Six Steps to Effective Delegation
 

Delegation is more than just a way of getting people to do things for you. It is also a powerful leadership and coaching tool.

When used properly, delegation enables you to increase productivity and profitability, improve morale and increase retention. Perhaps most important for overworked and overstressed CEOs and executives, it allows you to enjoy professional success and still have a personal life.

Achieving these results requires effective delegation, which involves six basic steps:

1. Prepare in advance.

When it comes to delegation, the Nike approach (just do it) does not work. The more you prepare, the better your results.

Before delegating, take the time to think through the task and identify whom you will delegate to and the outcome you want. In addition, identify a goal and purpose for the delegation. For example, using delegation as a coaching tool is very different from trying to get a pile of work off your desk. Your goal will determine the approach you take.

2. Discuss the task to be delegated.

Engage the employee in a specific conversation about the task you want to delegate, then have them repeat back to you (in their own words) what they heard. Make sure both of you are in agreement regarding the task being delegated and the outcome you desire.

When preparing for this step, ask yourself questions like:

* What needs to be done in a particular way?
* Where does the person have some creative freedom?
* What specific outcomes am I looking for?
* How likely is it that the person will succeed?

3. Identify the deadline for completion.

This seems obvious, but managers often fail to clearly think through this step. Make sure your deadline is realistic and achievable, particularly when delegating a stretch goal or something the person hasn’t done before. If you think the employee might need some revision time, build it in up front so you don’t end up at the deadline with a different outcome than the one you wanted.

When setting the deadline, take into account where the delegated task fits in with the person’s existing job responsibilities. Ask yourself, what level of priority does this task have with other tasks that have already been delegated to the person? This is particularly important when cross-delegating between departments, where it is essential to establish priorities and make sure all managers are in alignment with those priorities.

Also, think about the person’s chances of success. Is the employee likely to get the task done in the time frame you have set? If not, what modifications to the deadline are you prepared to make? If the deadline is inflexible, you may need to choose someone who has a lighter workload or someone you know will get the job done. Or, you may choose to split the task between two people. The key is to delegate according to the flexibility of your deadline.

4. Outline the level of authority.

Clearly outline the level of the authority you want the person to have. Then stand back and let them act. Different levels of authority include:

* Recommend. Ask the person for a recommendation on a course of action, but you make the final decision. Use this level when:

o The risk associated with the task or project is high
o The person has little experience in the area
o You need options researched and a best course of action chosen
o You want to provide the person with a learning experience
o You want to gain buy-in

* Inform and initiate. The person will inform you before they take action. Use this level when:

o The risk associated with the task or project is moderate enough to allow some freedom and flexibility but you have some concerns about giving full authority
o The person has some experience in the area but you want to provide some coaching.
o The person has succeeded at the "recommend" level and proven they are ready for the next level.

The "inform and initiate" level is also good for projects that need to be completed over time so you can check in on different phases, or when you want to broaden someone’s level of responsibility.
* Act. The person has full authority to act on their own. Use this level when:

o The risk associated with the task or project is very low
o The employee has plenty of experience in the area
o The person has succeeded at the "inform and initiate" level and proven they are ready for the next level

If your primary goal is to get the job done, choose someone who already fits into the "act" level. To engage in coaching and development, select people in the first two levels.

5. Build in checkpoints or progress reports.

At the beginning of the task or project, schedule a series of checkpoint meetings. Build them in early and close together at first, then taper off as the person begins to master the task. During the checkpoint meetings:

* Review the work that has been accomplished to date and give feedback on how well it is meeting the criteria established in step two.

* Identify anything you would like the person to do differently. Ask them to repeat back your requested modifications to ensure they understand.

* Ask the employee questions like: Are you encountering any problems? If so, what are you doing about them? Are you staying within your limits of authority? Are you on track to complete the task or project on time?

* Provide encouragement, coaching and feedback.

* Set the next checkpoint meeting (if you don’t already have a preset schedule).

6. Conduct a final debriefing.

The final debriefing consists of a two-way discussion about how the delegated task went. It allows you to:

* Reinforce growth that has occurred
* Outline areas for additional growth
* Applaud success
* Document performance problems
* Provide real coaching

Debriefing involves a neutral inquiry. Ask the employee how they think they did on the task or project, provide feedback on how you think they did, and discuss any differences in your assessments. Next, have the person provide feedback on your performance as a delegator, give your own assessment, and discuss any differences. Offer the person suggestions for improvement and listen to any they might have for you.

 
3. Exercise and Physical Fitness
 

There are 1,440 minutes in every day. Schedule 30 of them for physical activity!

Regular exercise is a critical part of staying healthy. People who are active live longer and feel better. Exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight. It can delay or prevent diabetes, some cancers and heart problems.

Most adults need at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at least five days per week. Examples include walking briskly, mowing the lawn, dancing, swimming for recreation or bicycling. Stretching and weight training can also strengthen your body and improve your fitness level.

The key is to find the right exercise for you. If it is fun, you are more likely to stay motivated. You may want to walk with a friend, join a class or plan a group bike ride. If you’ve been inactive for awhile, use a sensible approach and start out slowly.

 
4. Word of the Week
 

benison • \BEN-uh-sun\ • noun

: blessing, benediction

Example Sentence:
The travelers stopped at the tiny country church and sought the benison of the priest before continuing their arduous journey.

Did you know?
"Benison" and its synonym "benediction" share more than a common meaning; the two words come from the same root, the Latin "benedicere," meaning "to bless." ("Benedicere" comes from the Latin "bene dicere" — "to speak well of" — a combination of the Latin "bene," meaning "well," and "dicere," to say.) Of the two words, "benediction" is more common today, but "benison" has a longer history in English. Records show that "benison" has been used in our language since the 14th century. "Benediction" didn’t appear in print until nearly a century later.

 
5. Ice Storm
 

Yicks! This is what water spray, wind and freezing weather can leave behind…

 
6. Do You Know…
 
On this day:

  • Lolita Published in US (1958)
    Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita is the story of a middle-aged European intellectual’s infatuation with a 12-year-old American "nymphet," a term Nabokov himself coined in this novel. Due to the novel’s highly controversial subject matter, Nabokov initially had trouble finding a publisher for the work. Today, it is considered one of the finest novels written in the 20th century.
 
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Mahalo,
Loren
NelsonEcom
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