Whip Your Meetings Into Shape: 4 Tips for Maximizing Leadership Productivity

Whip Your Meetings Into Shape: 4 Tips for Maximizing Leadership Productivity

As you can likely attest, most business meetings waste pro­ductive time and last far longer than they should. But until we learn to communicate telepathically, meetings will remain a necessary evil—not only as a means of exchanging ideas and information, but also as a way of building relation­ships with others. That doesn't mean you have to like them, but you can cer­tainly make them more tolerable by applying these tips: Decide If the Meeting Is Even Necessary. Can you handle the issue with a few emails or a conference call? If so, do it. Why call a full meeting if you don't need one? Start On Time. If people don't arrive on time, tough. Start when you agreed to, and don't start over just because individuals arrive late. Latecomers can check the minutes later to find out what … [Read more...]

The Carrot and the Stick: Choosing the Right Motivators

The Right Motivation by Laura Stack

Forget offering bored employees the same old brass rings to grab for. Make them want to go for the gold. I don't necessarily mean financial motivation, though that may help. What they really need is purpose: a chance to excel at something that matters. Here's how to help them avoid boredom: Keep the Communication Lines Open. Touch base regularly with your top employees, allowing them open access to you. Stay alert for signs of boredom. Ask them what they're working on that excites them—or what would excite them if nothing currently does. Offer Them Tasks With a Real Chance of Failure. You likely have blue-sky projects that could be extremely profitable if done well. They're challenging enough that most people can't achieve success, so hand these to your bright but bored. The … [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...]

Promises for the Future: 5 Ways to Set Goals as a Team

Promises for the Future: 5 Ways to Set Goals as a Team by Laura Stack #productivity

Teamwide goal setting is crucial if you expect to maximize and maintain your productivity. Your team members must always be clear about what your goals are, and how you'll get there; that should be a given. But realize that some of your team members will have a better understanding of goal-setting than others, so it's up to you to make sure they all stay on the same wavelength. Start With Individual Team Members. You'll find it easier to establish team goals if individual members also have personal goals to reach for. Chris might want to make $150,000 annually by the time he's thirty-five, while Jane may prefer to move up the management ladder toward CFO. As you learn your team members' personal and professional development goals, help them find ways to weave those goals into the … [Read more...]

The Battle Trance Concept: Enforcing Collective Identity in Your Workplace Team

The Battle Trance Concept: Enforcing Collective Identity in Your Workplace Team by Laura Stack #productivity

"Within this moment I am for you, though better men have failed/I will give my life for love, for I am winterborn./And in my dying, I'm more alive than I have ever been/I will make this sacrifice, for I am winterborn." – Winterborn, by American rock band The Crüxshadows Here is the 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 The Battle Trance Concept: Enforcing Collective Identity in Your Workplace Team Recently, I ran across the battle trance concept: an idea well known in the military environment where I grew up, but only recently defined in psychology. Essentially, it involves the subsuming … [Read more...]

The Shadow Knows: Tapping Job Shadowing to Cover Critical Tasks

The Shadow Knows: Tapping Job Shadowing to Cover Critical Tasks by Laura Stack #productivity

"When job shadowing, the individual sees the actual performance of the job in action … the participant also sees and experiences the nuances of how the service is provided, or the job performed." – Susan M. Heathfield, American Human Resources expert. These days, roles in most white-collar teams have become so specialized, no single person can learn everything needed to keep the team's work processes running smoothly. Usually, the team lead has a good idea of the overall structure, but leaders have their own roles to play. A good leader hires for at least a slight overlap of skill sets, so the team can survive if a crucial team member falls ill, goes on vacation, or abruptly quits. Of course, team leads don't always have full say on whom HR hires, or may inherit a team lacking … [Read more...]

Laura Stack’s newest book, Doing the Right Things Right: How the Effective Executive Spends Time, Hits Bookstores January 18!

Doing The right Things Right by Laura Stack #productivity

As an MBA student, Laura Stack was inspired by Peter Drucker’s classic 1969 book The Effective Executive. But a lot has changed since it was written. And while Drucker’s advice on what to do remains brilliant, he didn’t give much detail on the how. After 25 years of working with leaders, Stack’s new book is written for the 21st century executive, detailing precisely how today’s leaders and managers can obtain profitable, productive results by managing the intersection of two critical values: effectiveness and efficiency. Effectiveness, Stack says, is identifying and achieving the best objectives for your organization—doing the right things. Efficiency is accomplishing them with the least amount of time, effort, and cost—doing things right. If you’re not clear on both, you’re wasting your … [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 … [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 … [Read more...]

Methods of Motivation: Adding Team Incentives to the Mix

Methods of Motivation: Adding Team Incentives to the Mix by Laura Stack

"When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you'll be successful." – Eric Thomas, American motivational speaker.  One of the eternal quests of the modern business leader is the search for the Holy Grail of worker motivation—as if there's just one secret, one formula or recipe, that will instantly and permanently push a team's productivity through the roof. It's a nice fantasy, but you quickly learn that nothing works for everyone. Fortunately, most people respond well to intrinsic rewards, like pats on the back and public recognition, as well as the king of extrinsic motivation, More Money. But there's no panacea that invariably turns disengaged grumps into optimistic top performers, while still urging existing performers ever upward. As it turns out, our basic … [Read more...]