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Archive for the ‘Personal Performance’ Category

Getting Things Done: Personal Productivity and Team Effectiveness – CU Boulder Today

Posted: February 20, 2021 at 7:46 pm

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Getting Things Done (GTD) is often quantitative. However obtaining the skillset to make it a qualitative action can produce deeply impactful results. Our calendars are packed with meetings and our files are brimming with projects but it can be challenging to engage with the work in ways we wish we had the time for. Getting Things Done is for individual team members looking to improve execution, engagement, performance, efficiency and quality. Participants will practice new behaviors to engage more effectively with their to-dos and commitments, so they can focus on things that matter most. GTD is a system that teaches skills to manage the constant flow of requests, tasks, and interruptions. In this course, participants will learn powerful methods to capture, clarify and organize incoming requests to increase their focus on their most meaningful work.

"I liked the opportunities to immediately transfer the concepts we learned (which are already really helpful on a conceptual level) into my own work, tools, etc. Having the timed opportunity to get a 2-min task done or to just do a mindsweep with the template provided was super useful and made implementing GTD all feel real and possible rather than a lofty goal."

"It is really easy to apply it to my work life and personal life."

"The simple approach to making big changes."

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Getting Things Done: Personal Productivity and Team Effectiveness - CU Boulder Today

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February 20th, 2021 at 7:46 pm

Duluth bodybuilder talks heavyweight win, his go-to cheat meal and performance alter-ego | INFORUM – INFORUM

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After weeks of prepping for his 17th natural bodybuilding competition, there was a chance itd be canceled due to the pandemic. You put yourself through that work lifting and training. Im very grateful they were able to do it, he said.

With face masks and social distancing, the Duluth man competed in and won the heavyweight 2020 International Pro Elite World Championships in late October in Kansas City, Missouri.

When gyms were closed due to Minnesota mandate, Sievert exercised daily at home with his set of 20- and 30-pound dumbbells.

As a bodybuilder, you cant control who shows up to the stage. You can control what you can and worry about yourself. The main goal is to look better each year and make your own personal improvement, he said.

Carl Sievert performs preacher curls during a recent workout. (Steve Kuchera /

Sievert, 35, went pro in 2015 and has since placed at many competitions around the country. Bodybuilding is such an illusion, he said in a 2013 interview. "A lot of people don't work on posing enough. You can make yourself look so much bigger if you know how to show your body the right way.

Sievert took time to catch up with Forum News Service on the sport, his go-to cheat meal and his performance alter-ego.

Q: What attracted you to bodybuilding?

A: I wanted to be big and strong like my dad and also wanted to be the best I could be for baseball and hockey. I knew I would have an advantage if I started weight training.

After college baseball at William Penn University in Iowa, I needed something to keep me competitive and a new goal and journey to pursue. Ive always enjoyed training and pushing myself to the limits, so bodybuilding was a perfect fit for me.

I love the sport because its like a never-ending project. Youre never done. You can always get better at something. It keeps me motivated.

Q: What has participating in this taught you about your physical, mental and emotional health?

A: Competing and going through everything that goes along with the sport has a huge impact on every part of your life. You really have to be mentally strong in order to fight off any temptation and stay on track.

If you truly want to be your best, youll do whatever it takes to get there.

Personally, its easy for me to stay on track because of my competitiveness. You couldnt pay me to cheat on my diet or slack off in the gym.

Finding balance is very important because the sport can consume you. Every choice you make throughout your day has an impact. As you get closer to competition, everything becomes tougher. Your energy levels suffer from low body fat levels, and it makes easy tasks seem way more challenging than they really are.

Overall, Ive learned that I can push myself to extreme levels if I want something bad enough. I think everyone is capable of more than they think.

Carl Sievert of Duluth won the heavyweight 2020 International Pro Elite World Championships in late October in Kansas City, Missouri. Sievert is taking 2021 off from competing to focus on making improvements, building muscle and he and his wife are welcoming their first child. He'll be back to compete in 2022, he said. (Photo courtesy of Scott Diestler, LiquidSpectrum)

Q: How do you take care of your body in between workouts/after a competition?

A: I train one muscle group per day. That way they can recover properly, and I avoid overtraining. Rest and nutrition are obviously very important.

After competition, I raise my calories and focus on growing. If youre always dieting or always super lean, its tough to build muscle or make improvements. The off season is when you improve and get better for the next competition season. Its a time for your body and mind to recover from a very demanding competition season.

Hormone levels are all out of whack when youre extremely lean, and it usually takes several months for them to get back to their normal levels.

Duluth bodybuilder Carl Sievert checks his form in a mirror as he performs bicep curls at Anytime Fitness earlier this month. (Steve Kuchera /

Q: Name your go-to cheat meal.

A: Definitely pizza! Thats usually the first thing I get after a competition.

Q: How has participating in bodybuilding affected your life outside of the sport?

A: It has its positives and negatives.

The good thing is that it encourages healthy habits, and Im able to inspire others. A big negative can be the way it affects your social life and relationships. It can be a very selfish sport, so having people around you that understand what youre doing helps a ton.

You miss out on good food with friends and family. Your energy levels are low, so sometimes youre just not yourself.

Overall, Ive experienced way more positives than negatives. Its brought me many opportunities that Im very thankful for.

Q: You and your wife are expecting your first babe this summer. (Congratulations!) Will bodybuilding be something youll eventually share with your kiddo?

A: I would love for our child to pick up healthy habits such as eating right and exercising. As far as competing goes, thats up to them. I wouldnt encourage this on anyone unless they had an interest. We just hope he or she finds a passion or something that makes them happy.

Carl Sievert poses as his performance alter-ego Shreddy Krueger at the 2020 International Pro Elite World Championships in October 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. In the bodybuilding world, Im known as Shreddy Krueger, thats my alter-ego. When I do the posing routine, I have a Freddy Krueger hat on and I have the glove," Sievert said. (Photo courtesy of Scott Diestler, LiquidSpectrum)

Q: Tell us about the evolution of your bodybuilding alter ego, Shreddy Krueger.

A: My best friend and I always watched Freddy Krueger movies growing up. It was also my go-to Halloween costume. Years ago while I was getting ready for a competition, a friend of mine said I was looking Shreddy Krueger because of how lean (shredded) I was.

The name and the way it relates to bodybuilding was a perfect match for a posing routine. The individual posing routine is mainly entertainment for the crowd, and youre not really scored or judged on it.

I really enjoy putting a good routine together and choreographing poses to the music of my choice. I usually go with a hard-hitting spooky dubstep song because it fits the theme. I also usually compete in the fall, so its just a perfect time to do a routine like this around Halloween. I love getting the crowd going and giving them something to be excited about.

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Duluth bodybuilder talks heavyweight win, his go-to cheat meal and performance alter-ego | INFORUM - INFORUM

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February 20th, 2021 at 7:46 pm

3 Stocks That Could Double Your Money – Statesville Record & Landmark

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GE chairman and CEO Larry Culp summed up the company's year saying: "As 2020 progressed, we significantly improved GE's profitability and cash performance despite a still-difficult macro environment. The fourth quarter marked a strong free cash flow finish to a challenging year, reflecting the results of better operations as well as strong and improving orders in Power and Renewable Energy."

General Electric had been a longtime payer of meaningful dividends, but it slashed its payout by 90% a few years ago, when it was struggling. It has been slowly growing it again, and its dividend recently yielded 0.34%. If its free cash flow remains solid and keeps growing, it won't be surprising to see significant dividend increases ahead. That, along with stock-price appreciation, should help the stock double investors' money.

Pinterest (NYSE: PINS) shares surged more than 250% in 2020, and recently sported a price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio topping 200. So yes, this stock has priced in some great expectations. Thus, it may not double in the near future -- but its long-term future appears quite promising. The company's platform allows users to share visual inspirations of foods, fashions, styles, crafts, home decor, and more. There are a lot of these users, too -- more than 450 million, in fact, who use the site at least monthly. Altogether, users have saved close to 300 billion "pins."

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February 20th, 2021 at 7:46 pm

Android 12 developer beta is here, with updates to make your phone run smoother – CNET

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Google's Pixel 4A phone.

Google on Thursday unveiled the next version of Android, the search giant's mobile operating system. The software, called Android 12, is a preview version or developer beta meant for app developers to test before it's released more widely.

The new version of Android focuses mostly on under-the-hood fixes, aimed at making people's phones run more smoothly. Some updates try to prevent apps from freezing, while others make it easier for apps to receive photos and videos. Google also redesigned notifications and tried to make them faster and more responsive.

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Google's new Android release comes as Apple has shaken the app developer world with new privacy policies for its iOS software. In December, Apple launched a feature called "nutrition labels" that tells people what personal data their apps are collecting, like financial information, contacts or browsing history. Another change by Apple, rolling out in the coming months, requires developers to ask people for permission to gather data and track them across apps and websites. The changes have irked other tech giants, including Facebook.

Google's user privacy features don't go as far. One update to Android 12 should "give users more transparency and control over how cookies can be used across sites," Dave Burke, vice president of engineering for Android, wrote in a blog post.

Now playing: Watch this: Our first look at Android 12


As the tech world has reacted to Apple's privacy updates, Google had considered a less "stringent" approach to giving users options about app tracking, according to a report earlier this month by Bloomberg.

"We're always looking for ways to work with developers to raise the bar on privacy while enabling a healthy, ad-supported app ecosystem," a Google spokeswoman said in a statement. She didn't answer questions about how Android 12's privacy updates compare with Apple's.

Android is the dominant mobile operating system in the world, powering almost nine out of every 10 smartphones shipped globally. But Google's biggest challenge with new versions of Android is actually getting them onto people's phones, since wireless carriers and handset makers can slow the process.

Google hasn't released user figures for the previous version of the software, Android 11. But the last time Google updated its distribution numbers in May 2019, Android 9 had only been installed on 10.4% of Android phones. The three versions released before that were on 64.4 percent of Android phones.

Apple, by contrast, is quick to tout its adoption numbers. As of December,72% of Apple's iPhones and other iOS devices are on the most recent version of its operating system, iOS 14.

Read more: iOS 14.5 is coming soon. What we know about a release date and new features

One feature of Android 12 tries to ease the update problem by allowing the tech giant to update parts of Android through its Google Play Services system, instead of requiring a full operating system update that has to be approved by wireless or device partners.

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February 20th, 2021 at 7:46 pm

Ford cars will go all electric, all the time in Europe by 2030 – CNET

Posted: February 17, 2021 at 5:50 pm

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Here come the plugs.

This decade could very well be when EVs start to take hold, and news like Ford's latest European announcement make it seem more plausible each day. On Wednesday, the Blue Oval said its entire vehicle lineup in Europe will be completely electric come 2030. Even before then, Ford promised a "zero-emissions-capable" portfolio by 2026, meaning the company will offer electric cars and plug-in hybrids that will make zero-emissions trips possible around town.

Roadshow confirmed with Ford this isn't a wider interpretation of the phrase "all-electric," and a spokesperson underscored, "By 2030, all passenger vehicles will be all electric" in Europe.

Subscribe to Roadshow's newsletter for the latest car news and reviews, delivered to your inbox twice weekly.

The move to EVs won't only affect personal vehicles, but also Ford's commercial vehicle business in Europe, too. We already got a taste of what's to come on that front with the E-Transit, but there's more to come. By 2024, Ford Europe's commercial vehicle lineup will also consist of plug-in hybrids or EV options. That zero-emissions-capable phrase came up again, hinting we'll still see some traditional engines involved, at least on the commercial vehicle side of things.

All of it revolves around a $1 billion investment in Ford's plant in Cologne, Germany, where the current facility will transform into an electric vehicle manufacturing hub. For now, all we know is Ford will build a Europe-specific EV at the plant starting in 2023 and it'll ride on Volkswagen's MEB platform. The two operate a strategic alliance that could open the door to another VW-based Ford EV as well.

The EV era isn't specific to Europe for Ford, though. Earlier this month, CEO Jim Farley said the automaker will double its investment in electric cars to $22 billion. It comes as EVs remain a tiny sliver of all new cars sold, but with coming emissions regulations and increasing calls to confront climate change, automakers are starting to get their portfolios into gear.

Now playing: Watch this: 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E: Not yet a good Mustang, but...


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February 17th, 2021 at 5:50 pm

Teslas next business: Turning your solar roof and EV into Bitcoin mines – ZDNet

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In my previous post about blockchain and cryptocurrency, I discussed why I thought Tesla was making such a substantial investment in Bitcoin and allowing the cryptocurrency to be used for car purchases in the future. The balance of its revenue stream, which comes from selling surplus Renewable Energy Credits (RECs), will dry up in the next several years as competing automakers can produce their own Zero-Emission Vehicles (ZEVs) and build up their own RECs with states that require them.

Allowing its customers to purchase vehicles entirely or partially with Bitcoin is potentially one way of differentiating Tesla from other auto manufacturers. But this in and of itself is not a sustainable business strategy.

Perhaps Elon Musk has another, even wilder business plan for Tesla over the long-term -- a plan just as crazy ambitious as building giant reusable space rockets that can land on their tails.

Besides cars, Tesla's other significant business involvessolar panels, solar roofs, and batteries. The batteries are used in their cars and provide power storage for their residential solar systems, sold as theTesla Powerwall.

In most states where residential solar is installed, surplus energy from the arrays can be fed back into the grid where the local power company will "net meter"or prorate a customer's electric bill based on what they generate into or draw from the system. Based on a customer's consumption and how much a solar system produces, there will be a surplus or a deficit.

Powerwalls can store that surplus energy and power various things in your home, including air conditioners, and charge your Tesla EV.

But suppose Tesla added a capability to its on-premises solar energy/battery energy management computer built into its inverter system or the Powerwall that would give it GPUs for mining cryptocurrencies? These are already connected to home Wi-Fi. They have a management app, so upgrading it with Wi-Fi 6 and attaching it to a cryptocurrency network and an easy-to-use mobile app for cryptocurrency account management would be an achievable systems integration effort for Tesla, given the company's considerable engineering resources.

Also:Going solar in the Sunshine State: Why the investment makes sense now

It would then be possible for your home to become the ultimate idle money-producing game --- you would generate actual Bitcoins with the surplus energy your solar system makes. That might be more lucrative than getting the net metering discount from your power company, which is not incentivized to be price competitive with your solar system's energy output, as most of these companies are paying Time-Of-Use (TOU) pricing for your power generation.

If you have a large enough solar array and you live in a state with plenty of sunshine -- and assuming Tesla comes up with an easily expandable, modular design (perhaps even as an add-on product for Powerwall) -- you could add a whole chain of these GPUs to your solar computer and make a decent amount of crypto.

That makes the prospect of installing solar in your home a lot more attractive if you figure the Tesla roof, on average, will cost $50,000 to $75,000, not counting government tax incentives.

All Tesla needs is a simple app interface to point and click which cryptos you want to mine, API integration with a currency exchange for cash conversion, and, presto, everyone with a solar roof is in the crypto business.

To execute this plan, Tesla would need a power-efficient GPU that requires minimal cooling (perhaps fanless, or even water-cooled). If these GPUs are colocated with the Inverter/Powerwall, they would have to operate in environments that could get as hot as inside a garage during summer months or inside a housing mounted on the outside of your home, unless they are physically networked and placed inside the house and tied into the Inverter or Powerwall's power distribution system.

Where would Tesla get such a thing? And why would the company suddenly decide to do this? The idea to use GPUs to mine cryptocurrency when its products are idle during a charge phase or generating surplus energy almost certainly arose during the development of its cars' autonomous driving feature and benchmarking the onboard computing hardware's capabilities.

In 2019, the company held an Autonomy Investor Day and claimed that it had switched from NVIDIA GPUs in its vehicles to chips of its own design in the model S, X, and Model 3 cars. At the time, the company's director of silicon engineering, Peter Bannon, stated:

So here's the design that we finished. You can see that it's dominated by the 32 megabytes of SRAM. There's big banks on the left and right and the center bottom, and then all the computing is done in the upper middle. Every single clock, we read 256 bytes of activation data out of the SRAM array, 128 bytes of weight data out of the SRAM array, and we combine it in a 96 by 96 small add array, which performs 9,000 multiply/adds per clock. At 2 gigahertz, that's a total of 3.6 -- 36.8 TeraOPS.

We had a goal to stay under 100 watts. This is measured data from cars driving around running a full autopilot stack. We're dissipating 72 watts, which is a little bit more power than the previous design, but with the dramatic improvement in performance, it's still a pretty good answer. Of that 72 watts, about 15 watts is being consumed running the neural networks.

In terms of costs, the silicon cost of this solution is about 80% of what we were paying before. So we are saving money by switching to this solution. And in terms of performance, we took the narrow camera neural network, which I've been talking about that has 35 billion operations in it, we ran it on the old hardware in a loop as quick as possible and we delivered 110 frames per second. And we took the same data, the same network, compiled it for hardware for the new FSD computer, and using all 4 accelerators, we can get 2,300 frames per second processed, so a factor of 21.

In 2021, the GPU used in Tesla's latest vehicles is even more ambitious. The newest Model S (and, supposedly, the X) EVs uses a custom AMD RDNA 2 GPU with 10 teraflops of computing power, which puts it on par with some of the most powerful console gaming systems on the market like the Sony PS5. With an onboard system like this, you wouldn't even need a GPU-equipped Powerwall; when the vehicle is being charged, it could be used to generate cryptocurrency as well.

So, Tesla certainly has plenty of experience with GPUs, but can it use them as a key differentiator from other automakers and solar technology companies like Enphase Energy, Samsung, LG, and Panasonic, the current market leaders in the solar space?

While sleeker and more tightly integrated,Tesla's solar roofis more expensive than competing solutions, and that's been hampering adoption. Its solar roof solution is currently only more competitive in scenarios where an entire roof has to be replaced.

Having a roof that generates income for the consumer when using surplus energy could be a significant selling point, mainly if a substantial portion of the cryptocurrency income could be applied to the financed cost of the solar panels or the payments on a Tesla vehicle. If it brings down the equivalent price of a Model S from $75,000 to $65,000 throughout a five-year finance term, or a $50,000 Model 3 to $40,000, that's a good incentive. It also makes a payoff of a $70,000 roof that much quicker of a return on investment, even if the GPU piece adds a few thousand dollars to the purchase price.

Tesla could also pro-rate the expense of the roofs (and the vehicles) by effectively leasing the GPUs' space in each home (or at commercial business where the roofs or solar cells are installed) and keep the balance of the crypto income for themselves.

Also:Scallops, vaccines and Tesla: The wild world of blockchain and cryptocurrency

And if you bought that vehicle or that roof or panels in cash? That vehicle's GPU or the solar roof GPU stack (assuming you can add several just as you can with multiple Powerwalls) should be building assets for you that increase in value. Tesla shouldn't get to keep any of it.

However, instead of using the cryptocurrency generated by the systems to pay off fiat currency-based financing, it is more likely that it could be used to build up "credits" in an escrowed account Tesla would honor toward future purchases. Tesla itself would keep the cryptocurrency income, like Bitcoin, Dogecoin, or whatever instrument the GPUs generate -- but the consumer would have loyalty points accumulated. If a new car costs 100,000 loyalty points, and over five years, your roof and your vehicle generate 30,000, that could be used towards your next vehicle purchase -- locking you into that ecosystem.

Is Tesla going to differentiate from other solar and auto manufacturers by using automotive and solar energy compute GPUs to generate cryptocurrency? Talk Back and Let Me Know.

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Teslas next business: Turning your solar roof and EV into Bitcoin mines - ZDNet

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February 17th, 2021 at 5:50 pm

$10,000 Invested in This ETF Could Send Your Kids to College – Tulsa World

Posted: December 26, 2020 at 3:58 pm

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This ETF has an annual return of 12.9% since inception, but over the 10 years since Dec. 1, 2010, it has posted an average annual return of 20.5%. If you invested $10,000 10 years ago at this time, you'd now have about $99,000 -- investing $100 per month. Depending on where your kid goes to college, that could pay for all four years of tuition at some state schools, and at least a year or two at most private institutions.

Of course, past performance is no guarantee of future results, as the disclaimer says, and the last 10 years have been historically strong for the IT sector.

The sector has also been among the strongest through the pandemic as technology has been central to adapting to social distancing protocols. While some companies saw their stocks rise too high, too fast and could see a snapback, in the long term, the sector is going to continue to lead the market over the next decade. While the pandemic will hopefully be a thing of the past in 2021, many of the protocols will remain as part of a new normal, driven by technology. That's not to mention all the new emerging technologies we'll see, such as artificial intelligence (AI), further transform the way we communicate.

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December 26th, 2020 at 3:58 pm

It’s Time to Rethink Employee Performance Management –

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An Office of Personnel Management proposal to link layoffs to performance ratings was unexpected. If the ratings were valid, it would make sense but ratings have little credibility. Jacque Simon, speaking for the American Federation of Government Employees, was correct in saying, Theres nothing objective about performance ratings. Simons opposition is understandable; the proposal appears to be intentionally antagonistic. In the absence of badly needed changes in the way performance is managed, the proposal is not tenable.

The proposed rule does serve to highlight what is possibly governments weakest talent management practice. In other sectors, policies focus on the high performers. Thats true as well in sports and entertainment. It's common in other endeavors as well. Individuals aspire to be recognized. In contrast, governments management philosophy makes it more important to admonish poor performers.

The Trump administration is correct in emphasizing policies intended to make agencies more results-oriented and to hold employees accountable. Its hard to argue with the goal. However, the proposed policy would have triggered a different reaction if agencies had invested earlier in best practices and training for managing employee performance.

The proposal has been effectively nullified by the pandemic. The reason is reflected in a 2019 memo from OPMs then Acting Director Margaret Weichert to the heads of executive departments and agencies. The memorandum reads like a how-to booklet: let employees know what they need to accomplish and the standards that will be used to evaluate their performance. The message is clear: goal setting is top-down. In contrast, the lesson from high performance workplaces is that goal setting should be a collaborative process. Then employees see their goals as fair and are invested in them.

The Pandemic Made Change Essential

One of the few positives to come out of the pandemic is that it triggered a need for agencies to rethink the way employee performance is managed. Working miles apart changes supervisor/subordinate working relationships and prompts both to adopt new behaviors. It should be seen as an opportunity for agencies to shift to proven practices. As the pandemic comes to an end, agencies should invest in defining a work management strategy for the new normal.

Throughout history, psychometricians focused on appraisal forms and improving the validity of ratings. They failed. Now remote work arrangements, lack of trust, intermittent communication, and new technology are making everyone unsure and uncomfortable. New answers are available.

The problems are not unique to government. Employers in every sector are searching for better answers. Articles have appeared in surprising publications like Vanity Fair (Microsofts Lost Decade). In management journals, articles discussing new approaches have appeared frequently.

Its Not a Simple Problem

Completing performance appraisals has been time consuming but painless for supervisorsas long as the ratings are consistent with employee expectations. Its the old Lake Wobegon phenomenon where all the children are above average. The annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey confirms employees believe their personal rating is accurateits others that are inflated! Its a problem that can be solved.

A largely unrecognized aspect of the problem in government is that performance has been addressed by two distinct groups of practitioners with minimal overlap. At the highest levels, there are experts who focus on agency mission and vision statements, strategic planning and goals, evidence-based decision making, and reporting systems. There is also a separate group of experts who focus on employee performance. Each group has its own technology concerns, laws and regulations, academic researchers, and consulting firms. The future needs to integrate the best thinking of both groups.

The nations problems and threats are becoming more complex, requiring deeper expertise. The pandemic has given new emphasis to front line knowledge and capabilities. Employees at all levels need to see how their goals are connected to agency goals.

An essential change is redefining how employee performance is evaluated. The most common practice is relying on individual performance goals combined with job-relevant competencies. Each year employees gain from experience and benefit from training and coaching. As they grow, they need to commit to new, higher level goals. Supervisors play a key role. Year-end appraisals need to document each employees strengths and weaknesses. Thats very different than rating everyone on generic performance dimensions.

Here the past truly is prologue. The highest hurdle will be changing learned behaviors and habits. Training is essential but building commitment to a new way of managing will require leadership and the help of change management facilitators.

Gallups research shows the daily interactions between managers and staff are key to employee engagement and to high performance. The companys Q12 survey results confirm the importance of managers. However, in government, the role of managers has been virtually ignored. Redefining and emphasizing supervisory practices proven to be effective in remote work settings is now essential.

Governments Purpose Should Be an Advantage

A thread prominent in discussions of high performance is the importance of creating a purpose-driven organization. Organizations that emphasize service, address difficult societal problems and/or build productive relationships with other organizationsin other words, governmentshould be exemplars. Purpose is the reason many employees opted for government careers. Emphasizing an agencys purpose gives employees a sense of meaning and value; it's motivational.

Purpose-driven organizations benefit when the societal value of agency accomplishments is emphasized in recruiting, onboarding, training and in organization/team meetings. Accomplishments should be featured in internal and external communications. It has to be convincing but that should not be a problem in government organizations.

This new focus on purpose reflects what is important to Millennials and Gen Z workers entering the workforce. They look for something more than the pay and benefits. Looking back, it's consistent with statements like the Jack Kennedy inaugural line: ask what you can do for your country.

A practical example is the importance of serving customers. Too often government agencies are close to the bottom of lists comparing customer satisfaction measures with industry. That should be an easy problem to address. It would be straightforward to highlight stories of how federal agencies like Veterans Affairs benefited their customers. Hospitals, for example, communicate emotionally charged patient stories. A simple but powerful practice would be to videotape people discussing how a federal agency helped them.

Recognizing accomplishments would help to overcome that compliance culture. Internal communications highlighting how an employee or team solved difficult problems would influence others to do the same. Employees naturally want to be valued and recognized. It would benefit everyone.

Current Best Practice Thinking

If there is one overriding answer in the understanding of high performance, its the importance of gaining employee commitment to what needs to be accomplished. In the right work environment, employees will work hard, go home exhausted but look forward to returning the next day. They enjoy the challenge and the chance to contribute to their organizations success. They may complain to co-workers but their job satisfaction is high. There are many situations where thats proven to be true across government.

The goal in managing and evaluating performance should be to support and encourage a performance culture. A fundamental change gaining broad acceptance is emphasizing ongoing feedback and coaching by managers. Coaching skills are now essential for effective supervision. Its a radical change from the old, do-as-your-told approach to supervision.

A related argument gaining acceptance is that in this era of change it's natural for performance plans and goals to need adjustment as the year unfolds. It's consistent with the argument for making organizations more agile and responsive. Adjustments and accomplishments need real time documentation.

A third trend is to solicit feedback on performance from customers, co-workers and subordinates. The buzzword is crowdsourcing. In a collaborative environment, relevant others are in the best position to observe an individuals strengths and weaknesses.

Metrics of course play a central role but the data need to be available locally to guide front line decision making. Thats ongoing throughout the year. Simply reporting performance data to senior management adds little value.

In combination, best practice thinking shifts the focus from the appraisal forms to helping managers become comfortable and proficient in their new role. They need the training and organizational support to transition to a new way of managing. Tennessee made a commitment to reform and invested three years in training and coaching to prepare managers.

The final trend is eliminating those five and seven level rating scales, along with pass/fail ratings. Organizations need to identify and recognize their best performers as well as the few unsatisfactory performers. The majority of employees70% to 80% or moreare performing as expected. The new rating scales have only three levels. That simplifies the supervisors role and enhances rating validity.

A simple reward strategy is supplementing step increases with cash awards for employees rated at the highest level. That proved to be successful in the Government Accountability Offices strategy to reward the best performers.

As an added step to confirm the ratings, managers can be required to explain and justify the high and low ratings to a committee of peers. It assures the ratings are warranted and reinforces the recognition.

Will OPM be Ready to Help?

The answer, unfortunately, is no. Early statements suggest the Biden administration will be supportive of rebuilding the workforce. That's badly needed. The last four years have taken a toll on federal employees. However, OPMs role as the civil service police has not won friends. HR executives in the Great Places to Work play an integral role in sustaining high performance. Hopefully, Biden will select an OPM director with experience reinvigorating organizations. Government needs to redefine how it utilizes its greatest asset.

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December 26th, 2020 at 3:58 pm

New Years Eve Will Still Rock In Times Square, Even Without A Live Audience – Deadline

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There will be no massive crowds, but plenty of music will still be on tap for New Years Eve in Times Square. Using a combination of television and streaming, the show will go on despite the pandemic restrictions against huge gatherings.

Times Square Alliance andCountdown Entertainment, the co-organizers of Times Square New Years Eve, today announced that singer-songwriterAndraDay willheadline the live, commercial-free webcast and TV pool feed.

Day will perform her Grammy Award-nominated single Rise Up, as well as her song Forever Mine. Day will also continue the New Years Eve tradition of singing John Lennons Imagine just before the Ball Drop Celebration to count down the final seconds to the new year.

The co-organizers of the event said the official Times Square New Years Eve event lineup will feature live performances by Gloria Gaynor, Pitbull, Anitta, Jennifer Lopez, Billy Porter, Cyndi Lauper, Jimmie Allen, Machine Gun Kelly, The Waffle Crew,andUSOShow Troupe,as well as an array of special activities and appearances that will happen throughout the evening.

The six-hour, live commercial-free webcast will begin at 6:00 PM ET with the lighting and raising of the New Years Eve Ball atop One Times Square. The webcast will include musical performances by AndraDay, Gloria Gaynor, Anitta, Pitbull, the USO Show Troupe,andThe Waffle Crew.

Jamestown, owner of One Times Square, home of the iconic Ball Drop Celebration, has created a virtual New Years Eve experience.Everyone can start the festivities today and enter a virtual world of Time Square filled with games, music, and art.

Then, on December 31st, viewers can tune in for a live broadcast where they can choose from multiple camera feeds to direct their own New Years Eve show. Plus, viewers will also get a chance to see other celebrations from around the globe, and hear messages from local leaders and people from dozens of cities from around the world.

Visitwww.VNYE.comfor more information and download theNYE appto join thelivecelebration on New Years Eve.

Times Square 2021 LIVE performances on the Planet Fitness and Countdown Stages:

For 116 years, Times Square has been the center of worldwide attention on New Years Eve, ever since the owners of One Times Square began in 1904 to conduct rooftop celebrations to greet the New Year. The first Ball Lowering celebration occurred in 1907, and this tradition is now a universal symbol of welcoming the New Year.

Actor and TV personality Jonathan Bennett, star of the Hallmark Holiday film The Christmas Houseand Mean Girls,and host of the Food Networks Halloween Wars and Holiday Wars,will return to the celebration as Times Square New Years Eve Host.

The 12th annual webcast will cover the action and festivities in Times Square, beginning with the Ball Raising at 6 p.m. ET, plus live musical performances, hourly countdowns, behind-the-scenes stories, and star-studded interviews as anticipation builds towards the midnight countdown and the famous Ball Drop. The custom-designed embeddable video provides viewers with a full Times Square New Years Eve experience.

All participants will remain masked at all times except when performing and will adhere to distancing regulations throughout the production site. Additionally, all Special Guest families, who are included in the capacity limits for the production, will be staged within their personal household safety areas to ensure proper distance from other participants.

How to Watch

The Times Square 2021 Webcast will begin at 6 PM ET on December 31, 2020 and end at 12:15 a.m. ET on January 1, 2021. The show will be streamed live on multiple websites, including,,,

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New Years Eve Will Still Rock In Times Square, Even Without A Live Audience - Deadline

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December 26th, 2020 at 3:58 pm

With his sudden U-turn over Christmas, Boris Johnson caps a year of debacles – The Guardian

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At Christmas time last year, the only cloud on Boris Johnsons horizon was how he was going to pay for a winter break with Carrie on Mustique. The answer, rather typically, was that someone else would pick up the tab. The opposition later raised a complaint, but few Tories begrudged their leader his getaway in the Caribbean. He had just delivered a stonking election victory, their best since Margaret Thatcher was at her zenith. He was, in the words of one senior Tory, lord of all he surveys. Celebratory Christmas receptions at Number 10 were pungent with the scent of hubris.

Being a student of the classics, the prime minister should have known that the gods will punish arrogance. Nemesis came in the shape of an invisible microbe. The pandemic has tested the mettle of leaders around the planet, but among the mature democracies few were as singularly ill-equipped to handle a crisis of this nature and magnitude as Britains prime minister. He has looked good only when benchmarked against Donald Trump.

The coronavirus crisis could not have been more cunningly engineered to expose Mr Johnsons flaws. He was made prime minister not because anyone thought that he was a cool and decisive head with the leadership skills and moral seriousness required to handle the gravest public health emergency in a century. He was put there because he was a successful representative of the entertainer branch of populist leadership that prospered in the pre-virus era. We elected him to be a good times prime minister, comments one senior Tory. His curse is to be prime minister in bad times.

Few of his strengths as a politician have been of much utility in this emergency. All of his weaknesses have been searingly exposed. A man who spent his career ducking responsibility was suddenly confronted with a challenge that could not be run from, though that didnt stop him vanishing at the outset when he went missing from critical meetings. In the coronavirus, he met an opponent impervious to glib slogans and empty promises. Here was a disease posing hideous and inescapable dilemmas that confounded the have your cake and eat it philosophy by which he had lived his life.

Not that he didnt try to do that anyway. At the time of the first national lockdown, when one of many lives versus livelihoods arguments was boiling within government, I attempted to discover which side the prime minister was taking. One witness to these internal debates told me: Boris being Boris, he wants to end all the restrictions and get the economy fired up again without a single life lost. He cant have that, of course.

The wrong criticism of his performance is to say that he has made mistakes. Confronted with a novel disease for which the country was unprepared, any prime minister would have made errors. The correct criticism is that he has failed to learn from his mistakes and egregiously repeated them. There is a pattern from the prevarication over ordering the first lockdown, to the bout of indecision over the second, to last nights sudden cancellation of Christmas relaxations and imposition of a Yuletide lockdown on London and the southeast.

The pattern is one of resisting taking the necessary steps at the time when they would have been most effective and then being compelled to implement them late and with more damaging effect. Even Tories concede that their governments record is at the bottom end of the international league table. Britain has suffered the double-whammy of having one of the highest death levels per million of population while enduring the most severe hit to the economy among the G7 club of prosperous states. One former Tory cabinet minister remarks: Theres bound to be a public inquiry. We will be held to account for the fact that our deaths are higher and our recession is deeper. This senior Conservative adds the coda: Boris will tell the inquiry that he was chairman of the board and it was his people who failed him.

That sounds right. From supply failures of essential equipment to the summer exams debacle to the care homes scandal, another pattern of the crisis has been attempts to swerve culpability for all the things that have gone wrong by blaming anyone else but ministers. Power without responsibility has been their credo. Six senior civil servants, among them the cabinet secretary, have been sacked or pushed out this year. Not a single minister has resigned. Yet few dispute that Mr Johnson appointed one of the weakest cabinets in modern history. Given his lack of dedication to detail and the hard grind of delivering competent government, he needed a capable cabinet. Feebly fearful of having any substantial figures around the top table who might challenge him, he instead surrounded himself with a cabinet characterised by Tory MPs as lightweight, talentless, loyalist duds and nodding dogs.

The only explanation for the extraordinary survival of the serially blundering Gavin Williamson as education secretary is that he exists so that the rest of them can say: Well, at least no one can call me the most useless member of the cabinet. Another persistent pattern during this plague year has been to over-promise and under-deliver. We were going to have a fantastic this and a world-beating that and a moon-shot the other. We would have settled for a test, trace and isolate programme that worked. This was accompanied by a compulsion to claim the virus was about to be beaten. Way back in mid-March, he breezily proclaimed that we can send coronavirus packing before suggesting we can turn the tide within the next 12 weeks.

Optimism can be a positive trait in a politician, but wishful thinking is a fatal characteristic in an epidemic. So is deceptive messaging to the public. In the summer, Mr Johnson foolishly tied himself to a guarantee that Britain would enjoy a significant return to normality by Christmas, a promise that his scientific advisers conspicuously declined to endorse at the time and which was dramatically proved completely false last night. That misjudgment, like all the other ones, flows from his personality. Just below the surface of his performative face lurks an insecure character who trusts no one and yearns to be loved by everyone. He hates being the bearer of bad news and tough choices. One of the many women in his life, Petronella Wyatt, once excused his mendacity on the grounds that he will do anything to avoid an argument, which leads to a degree of duplicity.

Yet the successful handling of this crisis demanded a capacity to confront people with things they wouldnt want to hear and sufficient reserves of trust to persuade them to act in ways theyd rather not. His most effective personal performance was in the video he released after his own self-described mugging by the virus when he paid tribute to the NHS as the beating heart of the nation. Even then he failed to start a proper conversation with either his party or the country about the tradeoffs involved in getting through this kind of emergency. Though he became prime minister because his party rated him as their best communicator, he has persistently struggled to find the right tone when addressing the nation.

Anyone familiar with his biography knows he is a libertarian Tory who used to earn a living as a columnist by fulminating against the nanny state. In some ways, this has served him well. It has been obvious that he has imposed curbs on behaviour with extreme reluctance. This has not stopped rightwing Tories from railing against restrictions, but it probably meant that he got less pushback from the public than a Labour prime minister might have done. Yet there has been a profound problem with a prime minister who never gives the impression that he fully believes in his guidance to the nation. Even when he has life-preserving advice to dispense, he hasnt been able to shake the habit of trying to disguise grave tidings in comedic gift wrap. Remember squashing the sombrero or Operation Last Gasp? Now, it is the invocation to have yourself a merry little Christmas.

With his party disenchanted and voters disapproving, this Yuletide wont be accompanied by hubristic partying at Number 10. The prime ministers hopes of a revival of his reputation in 2021 now rest on a successful vaccination programme. In the new year, says one senior Tory, we will need bouncy old Boris back to cheer us up that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

The light will have to be exceedingly bright to wipe away all the memories of how long and dark, stumbling and flailing has been the nations journey through the tunnel.

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With his sudden U-turn over Christmas, Boris Johnson caps a year of debacles - The Guardian

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December 26th, 2020 at 3:58 pm

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