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Managing


Keeping Temps On Tap

Looking for part-timers in a pinch? If you're an employer in Japan, you can now use the global positioning system in cell phones to find them. Tokyo's LocationValue runs an online marketplace that lets stores desperate for cashiers or delivery companies in need of drivers search for qualified candidates in their vicinity.

LocationValue's Otetsudai Networks relies on Japan's fast wireless networks and near-ubiquitous GPS-enabled phones. At Otetsudai ("help" in Japanese), job seekers click the "I'm free now" box from their mobile browsers, and servers note the GPS location of the phone. Anyone searching the site gets a list of candidates who are nearby and willing to work, even if only for an hour. Later, both sides rate each other, which naturally weeds out workers who don't show or employers who mistreat employees. LocationValue has registered 54,000 job hunters and has a customer base of 3,000 businesses, which pay fees for the service.

A Way to Tell If They're Slaving Away or Surfing

Managers who suspect their employees spend more time working on their fantasy football teams than their next deadline can now verify their suspicions. In November, eTelemetry, which provides tech departments with network monitoring services, came out with a new version of hardware that some might consider creepy. It gives managers desktop access to details about the online activities of the people they supervise—data previously reserved for IT.

The hardware lets managers set up e-mails to alert them when a worker has been surfing excessively, view which sites employees have visited that day, and compare individuals' bandwidth use. So far, only one customer—a county government in Maryland—has deployed the updated device, although five more are in the process of adding it.

While it may help catch abusers, what if curiosity gets the better of a snoopy supervisor, causing even more time to be frittered away? Says Rob Adler, a spokesperson for eTelemetry: "If you're dealing with a bad manager, this would be the least of your problems."

My Mentor, Flicka

Paintball. Firewalking. Rope courses. Just when corporate off-site activities seemed like they couldn't get any zanier, they have. In a fad that could inspire an episode of The Office, companies such as Cisco Systems (CSCO) and SAP (SAP) have been sending their British staff to zoos and stables for "animal encounters" and "equine-guided leadership" sessions.

The claim: Helping zoo critters helps teams to bond. And working with horses, it's argued, hones nonverbal communication skills. The ZSL London Zoo, for instance, now teaches managers to brush pygmy hippo teeth and groom camels.

Drawing business insights from beasts is not just a British trend. At least 12 stables worldwide, inspired by the film and novel The Horse Whisperer, now teach managers to lead horses through jumps. Such exercises may be fun, but even enthusiasts admit leading animals is not like leading people. Says Cisco program manager David Loewy: "Horses are not sycophantic or political."


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