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 … [Read more...]

Balancing Short-Term Tactics and Long-Term Strategy

How do you make sure today's actions are supporting the long-term goals? … [Read more...]

The Perfect World: Helping Your Team Understand and Commit to Team Goals

The Perfect World: Helping Your Team Understand and Commit to Team Goals by Laura Stackn #productivity

"Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment." ― Jim Rohn, American business and motivational speaker. In a near-perfect world—the type most people would love when they join a new company—a department, division, or team's leader would act purely as a facilitator, establishing the group's goals, communicating them plainly to everyone on the team, and clearing the way from the team's current location to their future destination. He or she would promote the team goals in a way that made it clear what each team member should expect, precisely what they needed to do, and how the tasks the team member accomplished moved the entire organization toward its ultimate goals. These near-perfect conditions do exist in some organizations I’ve worked. They aren't common, and they don't … [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 … [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 … [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, … [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 … [Read more...]

Pairing Up: The Advantages of a Team of Two at Work

Pairing Up: The Advantages of a Team of Two at Work by Laura Stack

"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." – Helen Keller, American deaf-mute activist. Though we rarely think of them as such, a duo is still a team, and it can have many advantages. When your team is only two people, it’s much easier to communicate and agree on everything, from project requirements to what to have for lunch. Small(er) teams also tend to produce more per capita (per the two-pizza rule). However, two-person teams must be more careful about avoiding groupthink and poor decision-making. Some business duos have become household names: just a few examples include Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in computing, Sheryl Sandberg and Mark Zuckerberg in social media, Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger (the silent partner) in investing, and Sergey Brin and Larry Page in … [Read more...]

The 15 Characteristics of a Productive Team: What Matters Most

The 15 Characteristics of a Productive Team: What Matters Most by Laura Stack #productivity

“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.” –  Paul J. Meyer, American motivational speaker In the 25 years since I started my company The Productivity Pro, Inc., I’ve worked with literally hundreds of teams on improving their performance and collective productivity. Here are the 15 characteristics I’ve seen in those that are the most successful:   Productive teams celebrate social events like holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries in order to increase cohesion. They also celebrate their wins, especially when they complete a tough project.  Committed to results vs. activity. It's easy to confuse busyness with productivity. Only outcomes and results matter. Running around being … [Read more...]

Respectful Creativity: Encouraging Different Viewpoints on Your Team

Respectful Creativity: Encouraging Different Viewpoints on Your Team

“One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say." – Bryant H. McGill, American self-improvement writer and speaker  Effective teams are most often led by leaders who expect innovation and therefore encourage diverse viewpoints. (click to tweet) This is no secret, despite the fact that—as cynics will surely point out—we rarely practice the concept adequately, and I would agree. However, we also let pettiness, bureaucracy, groupthink, disengagement, laziness, and other failings hinder our creativity and slow us down. Business as usual runs down and crushes flexible creativity. When I think of respectful creativity, I think of Steve Jobs and Apple. Steve Jobs was no saint; he had his flaws, but that just makes his story all the more amazing. The … [Read more...]