Ground shipments undergo limited security checks

By David Koenig

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Packages intended to be placed on a truck, like the bomb that exploded Tuesday at a FedEx facility in Texas, are not screened as carefully as items carried by passenger planes.

Largely that is because of the high cost of screening every parcel intended for domestic delivery.

Delivery companies such as FedEx and UPS rely on a risk-based strategy. They hope to detect illegal or dangerous shipments by spotting something unusual about the package or the shipper. Some security experts give the companies good marks while pointing out the limitations of their approach.

FedEx and UPS say only that they have security measures in place and co-operate with law enforcement. They declined to discuss specifics, saying that would compromise security.

Here are some questions and answers about security of parcels:

ARE ALL PACKAGES SCREENED?

Cargo on passenger planes must be screened, usually by computed-tomography scanners although explosive-trace detection and dogs are also used, said Jeffrey Price, an aviation-security expert at Metropolitan State University in Denver.

If a package is going to be placed on a truck for delivery within the United States, as with the device that exploded on a conveyer belt at a FedEx facility in Schertz, Texas, “there is much less likelihood that it’s going to be physically screened with X-ray or even a person examining the package,” said John Cohen, a former counterterrorism co-ordinator at the Department of Homeland Security.

HOW ARE SHIPMENTS CHECKED?

For truck shipments, cargo carriers train employees to look for suspicious behaviour, including anything that looks odd about the package, or a shipper who buys too much insurance for what he says is in the box, Cohen said. Those procedures developed in the 1980s to detect shipments of drugs or guns and evolved to be used to find explosives.

An employee at a FedEx centre in Austin, Bryan Jaimes, 19, told reporters he never received new guidance from managers about handling packages as Austin authorities look for what they’ve called a “serial bomber.” He said his job is to load the trucks and that he assumes other workers earlier in the shipping chain give packages a once-over before they get to him.

FedEx and UPS officials declined to say whether they screen ground-shipping packages at drop-off points or distribution centres. On Tuesday, investigators closed off an Austin-area FedEx store where they suspect that the bomb was dropped off.

The most stringent screening rules apply to packages that will be carried on passenger airplanes.

FedEx and UPS each have their own fleet of planes, and the rules are not as strict. Price said the companies aren’t required to use X-ray, explosive-trace detection or canine screening but can at their option. He said they are required to physically inspect all packages.

HAVE TERRORISTS TRIED TO HIDE BOMBS IN CARGO?

Yes. The threat posed by bombs given to delivery companies was highlighted in a 2010 plot aimed at blowing up planes flying to the United States.

Bombs hidden in printer cartridges were shipped from Yemen but intercepted in Dubai and the United Kingdom and were defused. The bombs were pulled off U.S.-bound planes after officials got a tip from authorities in Saudi Arabia. The U.S. then banned large toner and ink cartridges from passenger planes and ordered new inspections of high-risk shipments on cargo planes coming into the country.

Why the 8-Hour Workday Doesn’t Work

Why the 8-Hour Workday Doesn’t Work

By Dr. Travis Bradberry

The Best Way to Structure Your Day

A study recently conducted by the Draugiem Group used a computer application to track employees’ work habits. Specifically, the application measured how much time people spent on various tasks and compared this to their productivity levels.

In the process of measuring people’s activity, they stumbled upon a fascinating finding: the length of the workday didn’t matter much; what mattered was how people structured their day. In particular, people who were religious about taking short breaks were far more productive than those who worked longer hours.

The ideal work-to-break ratio was 52 minutes of work, followed by 17 minutes of rest. People who maintained this schedule had a unique level of focus in their work. For roughly an hour at a time, they were 100% dedicated to the task they needed to accomplish. They didn’t check Facebook “real quick” or get distracted by e-mails. When they felt fatigue (again, after about an hour), they took short breaks, during which they completely separated themselves from their work. This helped them to dive back in refreshed for another productive hour of work.

Your Brain Wants an Hour On, 15 Minutes Off

People who have discovered this magic productivity ratio crush their competition because they tap into a fundamental need of the human mind: the brain naturally functions in spurts of high energy (roughly an hour) followed by spurts of low energy (15-20 minutes).

For most of us, this natural ebb and flow of energy leaves us wavering between focused periods of high energy followed by far less productive periods, when we tire and succumb to distractions.

The best way to beat exhaustion and frustrating distractions is to get intentional about your workday. Instead of working for an hour or more and then trying to battle through distractions and fatigue, when your productivity begins to dip, take this as a sign that it’s time for a break.

Real breaks are easier to take when you know they’re going to make your day more productive. We often let fatigue win because we continue working through it (long after we’ve lost energy and focus), and the breaks we take aren’t real breaks (checking your e-mail and watching YouTube doesn’t recharge you the same way as taking a walk does).

Take Charge of Your Workday

The 8-hour workday can work for you if you break your time into strategic intervals. Once you align your natural energy with your effort, things begin to run much more smoothly. Here are four tips that will get you into that perfect rhythm.

Break your day into hourly intervals. We naturally plan what we need to accomplish by the end of the day, the week, or the month, but we’re far more effective when we focus on what we can accomplish right now. Beyond getting you into the right rhythm, planning your day around hour-long intervals simplifies daunting tasks by breaking them into manageable pieces. If you want to be a literalist, you can plan your day around 52-minute intervals if you like, but an hour works just as well.

Respect your hour. The interval strategy only works because we use our peak energy levels to reach an extremely high level of focus for a relatively short amount of time. When you disrespect your hour by texting, checking e-mails, or doing a quick Facebook check, you defeat the entire purpose of the approach.

Take real rest. In the study at Draugiem, they found that employees who took more frequent rests than the hourly optimum were more productive than those who didn’t rest at all. Likewise, those who took deliberately relaxing breaks were better off than those who, when “resting,” had trouble separating themselves from their work. Getting away from your computer, your phone, and your to-do list is essential to boosting your productivity. Breaks such as walking, reading, and chatting are the most effective forms of recharging because they take you away from your work. On a busy day, it might be tempting to think of dealing with e-mails or making phone calls as breaks, but they aren’t, so don’t give in to this line of thought.

Don’t wait until your body tells you to take a break. If you wait until you feel tired to take a break, it’s too late—you’ve already missed the window of peak productivity. Keeping to your schedule ensures that you work when you’re the most productive and that you rest during times that would otherwise be unproductive. Remember, it’s far more productive to rest for short periods than it is to keep on working when you’re tired and distracted.

Bringing It All Together

Breaking your day down into chunks of work and rest that match your natural energy levels feels good, makes your workday go faster, and boosts your productivity.

Source: Talentsmart.com

Rerun

March 8th marks International Women’s Day, a worldwide celebration of the incredible achievements of women around the world.

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How to motivate your team

How to motivate your team

Mind Tools

What do you think motivates your people to come to work each morning?

These assumptions about your team members can have a significant influence on how you manage them.

In the 1960s, social psychologist Douglas McGregor developed two contrasting theories that explained how managers’ beliefs about what motivates their people can affect their management style. He labelled these Theory X and Theory Y. These theories continue to be important even today.

This article will explore McGregor’s theory further, and we’ll look at how it applies in the workplace.

Understanding Theory X and Theory Y

Theory X and Theory Y were first explained by McGregor in his book, ‘The Human Side of Enterprise,’ and they refer to two styles of management – authoritarian (Theory X) and participative (Theory Y).

If you believe that your team members dislike their work and have little motivation, then, according to McGregor, you’ll likely use an authoritarian style of management. This approach is very “hands-on” and usually involves micromanaging people’s work to ensure that it gets done properly. McGregor called this Theory X.

On the other hand, if you believe that your people take pride in their work and see it as a challenge , then you’ll more likely adopt a participative management style. Managers who use this approach trust their people to take ownership of their work and do it effectively by themselves. McGregor called this Theory Y.

The approach that you take will have a significant impact on your ability to motivate your team members. So, it’s important to understand how your perceptions of what motivates them can shape your management style.

We’ll now take a more in-depth look at the two different theories, and discover how and when they can be useful in the workplace.

Theory X

Theory X managers tend to take a pessimistic view of their people, and assume that they are naturally unmotivated and dislike work. As a result, they think that team members need to be prompted, rewarded or punished constantly to make sure that they complete their tasks.

Work in organizations that are managed like this can be repetitive, and people are often motivated with a “carrot and stick” approach. Performance appraisals and remuneration are usually based on tangible results, such as sales figures or product output, and are used to control staff and “keep tabs” on them.

This style of management assumes that workers:

  • Dislike their work.
  • Avoid responsibility and need constant direction.
  • Have to be controlled, forced and threatened to deliver work.
  • Need to be supervised at every step.
  • Have no incentive to work or ambition, and therefore need to be enticed by rewards to achieve goals.

According to McGregor, organizations with a Theory X approach tend to have several tiers of managers and supervisors to oversee and direct workers. Authority is rarely delegated, and control remains firmly centralized. Managers are more authoritarian and actively intervene to get things done.

Although Theory X management has largely fallen out of fashion in recent times, big organizations may find that adopting it is unavoidable due to the sheer number of people that they employ and the tight deadlines that they have to meet.

Theory Y

Theory Y managers have an optimistic, positive opinion of their people, and they use a decentralized, participative management style. This encourages a more collaborative , trust-based relationship between managers and their team members.

People have greater responsibility, and managers encourage them to develop their skills and suggest improvements. Appraisals are regular but, unlike in Theory X organizations, they are used to encourage open communication rather than control staff.

Theory Y organizations also give employees frequent opportunities for promotion.

This style of management assumes that workers are:

  • Happy to work on their own initiative.
  • More involved in decision making.
  • Self-motivated to complete their tasks.
  • Enjoy taking ownership of their work.
  • Seek and accept responsibility, and need little direction.
  • View work as fulfilling and challenging.
  • Solve problems creatively and imaginatively.

Theory Y has become more popular among organizations. This reflects workers’ increasing desire for more meaningful careers that provide them with more than just money.

It’s also viewed by McGregor as superior to Theory X, which, he says, reduces workers to “cogs in a machine,” and likely demotivates people in the long term.

Theory X and Theory Y in the Workplace

Most managers will likely use a mixture of Theory X and Theory Y. You may, however, find that you naturally favor one over the other. You might, for instance, have a tendency to micromanage or, conversely, you may prefer to take a more hands-off approach.

Although both styles of management can motivate people, the success of each will largely depend on your team’s needs and wants and your organizational objectives.

You may use a Theory X style of management for new starters who will likely need a lot of guidance, or in a situation that requires you to take control such as a crisis.

But you wouldn’t use it when managing a team of experts, who are used to working under their own initiative, and need little direction. If you did, it would likely have a demotivating effect and may even damage your relationship with them.

However, both theories have their challenges. The restrictive nature of Theory X, for instance, could cause people to become demotivated and non-cooperative if your approach is too strict. This may lead to high staff turnover and could damage your reputation in the long term.

Conversely, if you adopt a Theory Y approach that gives people too much freedom, it may allow them to stray from their key objectives or lose focus. Less-motivated individuals may also take advantage of this more relaxed working environment by shirking their work.

If this happens, you may need to take back some control to ensure that everyone meets their team and organizational goals.

Circumstance can also affect your management style. Theory X, for instance, is generally more prevalent in larger organizations, or in teams where work can be repetitive and target-driven.

In these cases, people are unlikely to find reward or fulfillment in their work, so a “carrot and stick” approach will tend to be more successful in motivating them than a Theory Y approach.

In contrast, Theory Y tends to be favored by organizations that have a flatter structure, and where people at the lower levels are involved in decision making and have some responsibility.

6 Steps to Accomplishing Your Life Goals and Resolutions

6 Steps to Accomplishing Your Life Goals and Resolutions

Excerpted article was written by By Susan M. Heathfield

Chances are that to achieve your dreams and live a life you love, those goals and resolutions are crucial. Goal setting and goal achievement are easier if you follow these six steps for effective and successful goal settingand resolution accomplishment.

  • You need to deeply desire the goal or resolution. Napoleon Hill, in his landmark book, Think and Grow Richhad it right. “The starting point of all achievement is desire. Keep this constantly in mind. Weak desires bring weak results, just as a small amount of fire makes a small amount of heat.” So, your first step in goal setting and achieving your dreams is that you’ve got to really, really want to achieve the goal.
  • Visualize yourself achieving the goal. Lee Iacocca said, “The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.” What will your achievement feel like? How will your life unfold differently as a result? If the goal is a thing, some gurus of goal setting recommend that you keep a picture of the item where you see and are reminded of it every day. If you can’t picture yourself achieving the goal, chances are – you won’t.
  • Make a plan for the path you need to follow to accomplish the goal. Create action steps to follow. Identify a critical path. The critical path defines the key accomplishments along the way, the most important steps that must happen for the goal to become a reality.Stephen Covey said, “All things are created twice. There’s a mental or first creation and a physical or second creation of all things. You have to make sure that the blueprint, the first creation, is really what you want, that you’ve thought everything through. Then you put it into bricks and mortar. Each day you go to the construction shed and pull out the blueprint to get marching orders for the day. You begin with the end in mind.” He’s right.
  • Commit to achieving the goal by writing down the goal. Lee Iacocca said, “The discipline of writing something down is the first step toward making it happen.” I agree completely. Write down the plan, the action steps and the critical path. Somehow, writing down the goal, the plan, and a timeline sets events in motion that may not have happened otherwise.In my own life, it is as if I am making a deeper commitment to goal accomplishment. I can’t fool myself later. The written objective really was the goal.
  • Establish times for checking your progress in your calendar system, whatever it is: a day planner, a PDA, a PDA phone or a hand written list. If you’re not making progress or feel stymied, don’t let your optimism keep you from accomplishing your goals.No matter how positively you are thinking, you need to assess your lack of progress. Adopt a pessimist’s viewpoint; something will and probably is, going to go wrong. Take a look at all of the factors that are keeping you from accomplishing your goal and develop a plan to overcome them. Add these plan steps to your calendar system as part of your goal achievement plan.
  • Review your overall progress regularly. Make sure you are making progress. If you are not making progress, hire a coach, tap into the support of loved ones, analyze why the goal is not being met. Don’t allow the goal to just fade away. Figure out what you need to do to accomplish it. Check the prior five steps starting with an assessment of how deeply you actually want to achieve the goal.

This six step goal setting and achieving system seems simple, but it is the most powerful system you will ever find for achieving your goals and living your resolutions. You just need to do it.

Best wishes and good luck.

The Most Successful Salespeople All Have This One Thing in Common

Women@Forbes | Heather R. Morgan

Here are three areas where you need to get more selfish with your time:

1. Create rules for your calendar and follow them religiously.

Your calendar isn’t just a tool for booking meetings with potential clients—it should be how you structure your overall day. And it should include anything that will help you feel physically and mentally better, which in turn improves who you are as a salesperson.

Set out rules for things you must do, whether they happen every day, three times a week or once every few hours. Popular rules are things like going to the gym, waking up by 6 a.m., and planning lunches with friends and coworkers. I also recommend taking 30 minutes each morning to plan out your day before you start any actual work. Include lunches, coffee breaks or any “sanity breaks” you anticipate needing as you build out your daily schedule.

It’s also a good idea to take time each evening to analyze the day. What went well? What did you not accomplish? Did you have any unrealistic expectations? These questions can help you in planning out subsequent days. I also like to spend some time on Fridays to review the week as a whole, and use Mondays as a day to plan my week, since those days tend to be slower from a sales perspective.

 

2. Disqualify irrelevant leads as early as possible.

As technology lets sales organizations scale faster, it gets easier and easier to book time with tons of leads.

Don’t be deceived. Trying to accommodate every lead you have is one of the easiest ways to waste your valuable time. You will inevitably get leads that aren’t a good fit. Maybe they don’t need your product or service, or they’re just unpleasant people. Either way, you won’t form a meaningful bond with them (or close a deal), so move on.

Or, you can avoid useless leads altogether by knowing your ideal client criteria up front. Your initial research gives you information on the would-be customer’s industry, their day-to-day duties and concerns, issues currently surrounding their industry or company and tons of other facts. (You might even know their favorite football team.)

Use this information to determine their relevance to your business. Say your company typically sells health insurance to large enterprises, but you spend most of your time chasing down small companies on shoestring budgets. At some point, both you and the prospective customer will be forced to recognize there’s little gain in the relationship. So learn how to recognize it earlier. Get honest with yourself first. Then, get honest with the other person and don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t think our company can help you right now.”

That said, don’t burn a bridge just because someone isn’t a good fit right now. They might be down the line. Or your contact might move to a company that is a good fit. Make it clear you’re open to working together in the future.

3. Measure and optimize your sales cycle.

Taking time to examine your past record on the job can tell you a lot about your sales habits—the good ones and the bad. The more data-driven you can make this process, the better.

Review your old deals. One thing I noticed while doing this is that the most lucrative deals tend to close faster, or at least more easily, than the ones you lose or waste time on.

Note the various milestones in your average sales cycle. These may be sales calls or meetings, sending a proposal or a contract, contract negotiations, or any other meaningful moment that signals a new stage in your sales process. These events, along with how fast they do or do not progress, help indicate which deals are not likely to close, allowing you to weed out dead-end leads early. Remember, your ultimate goal here is to dedicate most of your time to the most-promising prospective customers.

Measuring your sales cycle can also free up time to experiment. Are there ways to make the sales cycle faster? Can you close more deals or save time by automating processes or standardizing templates for proposals and follow-up emails? Standardize as much as possible while keeping your sales conversations thoughtful and meaningful. Process is great, but sometimes you have to evolve or think critically and make exceptions to close a big deal. Don’t be afraid to adapt your sales process if you encounter new situations that don’t 100% fit your process. You never know when a new trend in the market is unfolding before your eyes. Or you may have also discovered a lucrative new niche to sell to.

A word of caution: once you start setting various rules and practices for your life in minute detail, it’s easy to fall into a trap of thinking those things are set in stone for life. They’re not. So build in time to improve the way you approach your routine. If a task or process is a hassle, skip the next cocktail reception you’re invited to and use that time to figure out how to fix what’s broken or lagging. Your colleagues, managers, clients and, most importantly, yourself, will reap tons of benefits ultimately from that one little moment of selfishness.

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