The Zen of Teamwork: 4 Steps to High Efficiency

The Zen of Teamwork: 4 Steps to High Efficiency by Laura Stack #productivity

The greatest advantage of teamwork is that it achieves what individuals can't, through the medium of simple cooperation. Making personal goals secondary to group goals may seem difficult, but it pays off for everyone in the end. Instilling effective teamwork as one of your team's core val¬ues will make the team: 1. More Efficient. Typically, more efficient also means faster, since many hands make light work. Teamwork is much more effective when team members work together closely throughout the process. Many tasks have no clear-cut edges, so when people work separately, performing separate parts of a project in isolation and then piecing them together later, overlap and duplication may occur. On a team where the members inform each other of their progress, that's easier to avoid. Ongoing … [Read more...]

Taking Your Team from Good to Superior

Taking Your Team from Good to Superior by Laura Stack #productivity

Why do merely good companies still outnumber the superior ones by a factor of hundreds to one? The problem isn't the concept of moving from good to great to superior; it's the implementation. Leadership frequently fails because we can't see our greatest flaws. It's not just a matter of not seeing the forest for the trees; too often, we can't see our flaws because we aren't humble enough to accept a forest exists at all. So I recommend the following four practices: 1. Set Aside Your Ego. You are not your company, your division, or your team. You lead and represent them, and therefore have an obligation to provide vision and guidance in all things. So when you make a decision, don't assume that because it works for you, it works for everyone. Step up to the plate, lead by example, and … [Read more...]

Missing in Action: Coordinating with a Boss Always Out of the Office

Missing in Action: Coordinating with a Boss Always Out of the Office by Laura Stack

"A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way." – John C. Maxwell, American author and speaker. Most managers do a decent job of wrangling their teams, maintaining training schedules, keeping track of projects, and providing the overall guidance their teammates require in order to complete their assigned projects—and typically, they do it in person, from the same location as their team. But in any large organization, you'll find the occasional leader who, through no fault of their own, isn't often around. (<--Click to Tweet.) Sometimes they just don't work in the same office as the rest of the team, or can't come in often for various reasons. This may include leaders who work from home, who have to travel constantly for work, who prefer a hands-off attitude, or who … [Read more...]

Team vs. Work Group: How Do You and Your Coworkers Stack Up?

Team vs. Work Group: How Do You and Your Coworkers Stack Up?

"Individual commitment to a group effort - that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work." – Vince Lombardi, American college football coach. Most of us who work with multiple coworkers consider ourselves part of a team, and in fact, our leaders may refer to us as such. But are you really part of a team? Strictly defined, a team consists of a cohesive group of individuals, all of whom work within the same workflow process, contributing to the completion of one or more cooperative projects. Some researchers further define teams as consisting of 3-25 people, leaving out duos or "dyads" because their interactions are too simple, and larger groups because of their complexity. In general, teams tend to be tight-knit, with common goals and joint ac … [Read more...]

The Workplace Makeover: Revitalizing Your Team From Within

The Workplace Makeover: Revitalizing Your Team From Within

"My sun sets to rise again." – Robert Browning, 19th century English poet.  Who bears the responsibility for team productivity? (<-- Click to Tweet) Those with an employee's mindset—for whom work is just a way of getting a paycheck and paying the bills—might point the finger at their leadership. True, the managers and supervisors who direct our work do have a large stake in team productivity. But they don’t bear the responsibility alone. Admittedly, at some level, all of us do work so we can live in the manner to which we've become accustomed; but the happiest of us tend to be more fully engaged than our cynical co-workers. We're more likely to invest discretionary time into our jobs, because we apply an employer's mindset to our work, treating it as if we're stakeholders in the comp … [Read more...]

From Halloween to Black Friday and Beyond: Beating the Holiday Slump

From Halloween to Black Friday and Beyond: Beating the Holiday Slump by Laura Stack #productivity

"After all, the best part of a holiday is perhaps not so much to be resting yourself, as to see all the other fellows busy working."– Kenneth Grahame, British author of The Wind in the Willows.   Beware, it's almost here: the dreaded holiday slump, when all of us are so ready for a much-needed break that productivity threatens to slip. Many of your team members will disappear for weeks at a time to visit relatives located clear across the country, and those who don't will be so distracted by holiday planning that they might as well stay home. The result? Lagging productivity… unless of course you take up the slack. Every silver cloud has its lining, and this one is the post-holiday productivity that tends to rise significantly as everyone starts a new year rested and ready, full of happ … [Read more...]

Where You Fit: Understanding Your Role on the Team

Where You Fit: Understanding Your Role on the Team by Laura Stack #productivity

"Individual commitment to a group effort -- that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work." – Vince Lombardi, American football coach. Here is the weekly roundup of activity from Laura Stack’s blog, columns, podcast, and other featured articles. Scroll down to read the complete roundup of productivity resources to help you create Maximum Results in Minimum Time. This week on the Blog Where You Fit: Understanding Your Role on the Team In some ways, the modern workplace represents an odd bundle of contradictions. At one level, each of us focuses on our own careers, the goal being to work our way up the ladder until we reach a comfortable spot—or even the top. We expect others to see to their own well-being and careers. But on another level, because w … [Read more...]

Leadership by Consensus: The Self-Sustaining Team

Leadership by Consensus: The Self-Sustaining Team by Laura Stack #productivity

"Manage by exception. Only require reporting when there is a deviation from the plan." – Brian Tracy, American motivational and business author and speaker. There's an approach to business leadership call "Management by Exception," where the team leader allows their team or work group to go about its merry way without much in the way of guidance, intervening only when something goes seriously wrong. In most particulars, it's the exact opposite of micromanaging; and while it's a valid approach, I believe a manager should have an active role as a teammate as well as a leader, especially in these days of smaller, more flexible teams and lightning-fast execution. Indeed, in the modern business arena, the leader has a special role as a facilitator. He or she scouts ahead and clears a trail f … [Read more...]

Clear Expectations: Enhancing Your Team’s Sense of Satisfaction

Clear Expectations: Enhancing Your Team's Sense of Satisfaction by Laura Stack #productivity

"When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute." – Simon Sinek, British-American inspirational author and speaker. As I explain in my upcoming book Doing the Right Things Right: How the Effective Executive Spends Time, executives are no longer limited to the C-Suite of a company. Strictly defined, an executive is anyone who executes business strategy to benefit their organization. In our Brave New Business World (to paraphrase Aldous Huxley), the gap between leadership and workers has decreased significantly in recent years. But whatever the business conditions, it's always helpful to put your heart into achieving your team's goals. In part, this means helping make sure the whole team is willing, not just able, to … [Read more...]

A Bit of This, a Bit of That: The Method of Multiple Working Perspectives

A Bit of This, a Bit of That: The Method of Multiple Working Perspectives by Laura Stack #productivity

"Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth." – Marcus Aurelius, ancient Roman philosopher. In many sciences, including fields as varied as archaeology, psychology, and geology, scientists conducting research use a perspective called "the method of multiple working hypotheses." In other words, they don't test just one idea at a time; they test several. They begin with multiple hypotheses that may explain the results they experience or have experienced in the past. Then they narrow down the field as they proceed. Sometimes they narrow it down so well they eliminate all their original hypotheses and have to generate more. As you tackle new tasks for your team, you can use a similar approach that I think of as "the method of multiple w … [Read more...]