The Teamwork Quandary: Deciding When It’s Necessary and When it’s Not

The Teamwork Quandary: Deciding When It's Necessary and When it's Not by Laura Stack

By the time we're in grade school, our teachers heavily emphasize the value of teamwork: "there's no ‘I’ in team," "play well with others," "class participation is part of your grade." And there's nothing wrong with any of that—childhood is rehearsal for life. Play and education are a kid's jobs, because these activities socialize us into our culture, help us learn how to handle other people, and teach us what adults expect of us as we mature. They also prepare us for the reality of working for a living, where few of us accomplish anything entirely alone. On the other hand, some cultures also urge us to be self-reliant, to pick up the slack where no one else will, to be our own people, to work hard for our own goals. The U.S., Britain, Australia, Denmark, and Holland are a few examples … [Read more...]

Too Gung Ho: When Does Initiative Cross the Line?

Generalist or Specialist: How Can You Best Serve Your Team? by Laura Stack #productivity

"Employers and business leaders need people who can think for themselves -- who can take initiative and be the solution to problems." -- Steven Covey, American business writer. While I’ve always stressed the importance of taking initiative and owning your job, I'll bet there have been times when you've faced trouble for trying to do just that. Most managers and authority figures say they want initiative, and the majority really do. But the fact remains: some aren't as keen about it as they claim—especially when you color outside the lines. If you take too much initiative, you can become a bother, break their process, or run afoul of micromanagers. Ultimately, how much initiative you should take at work depends on a number of factors. So before you weigh in on something or just jump … [Read more...]

Ten Ways to Help Your Teammates Be More Productive

Make It Matter

"It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed." -- Napoleon Hill, motivational writer. Who owns team productivity? If you're not the boss, how could you boost your teammates' productivity? This assumes you have the right to assess the quality of their work in the first place, and to interfere with their jobs. After all, it's one thing to ask for help, and something else altogether to have it thrust upon you. But team productivity truly belongs to everyone on the team, at every level. You don't need to force your help on your teammates—just make their jobs easier for them, and act as a role model for those willing to pay attention. Try these ways of helping your teammates: Adopt a pleasant attitude. I'm sick of hearing "nice … [Read more...]

Does Your Team Get Along Too Well? Don’t Hesitate to Disagree!

Does Your Team Get Along Too Well by Laura Stack #productivity

You’ve probably been a member of a team before where everyone automatically agrees about everything. Typically, one person forcefully dominates such teams, to the point where it's easiest to go along with what that person decides just to avoid conflict. But anyone who rubberstamps team decisions is guilty of bad team membership, because this kind of groupthink kills initiative, hurts engagement, and damages productivity. Live Wire or Dead Battery?  I'd never recommend that team members go at each other hammer-and-tongs, but a certain level of conflict is healthy. Saying, "I don't think that's our best course of action, and here’s why” is desirable. Even geniuses like Einstein aren't always right. Einstein fought quantum theory at first, but 100 years later it's the best-tested … [Read more...]

Ensuring Remote Productivity: How to Work Effectively With People Who Aren’t Sitting Right Next to You

Ensuring Remote Productivity: How to Work Effectively With People Who Aren't Sitting Right Next to You

"Quality means doing it right even when no one is looking." -- Henry Ford, American automaker. A lot of what we used to know about working with others changes when our coworkers sit 10,000 miles away, instead of 10 feet away. Today we have to add “working with remote colleagues” to our basic skill set, whether that involves an outsourced contractor, a headquarters or field office in another country, those working in home offices, or a colleague temporarily transferred. And here's the kicker: ensuring remote productivity isn't just the responsibility of the team leader. Everyone owns responsibility for it. So what can you do to ensure you and your remote coworkers stay jointly productive? Aside from the things you'd do with any other coworker, you can try these measures: 1. … [Read more...]

Too Much of a Good Thing: Can Teamwork Damage Productivity?

Too Much of a Good Thing: Can Teamwork Damage Productivity? by Laura Stack

Back in the 1890s, French researcher Max Ringelmann discovered what others later called the Ringelmann effect[1]: The larger a workgroup, the more likely workers will waste time rather than get their work done. Not only do they socialize more, they also expect others to pick up the slack. This remains true today: small workgroups tend to produce more per person than larger ones. Many entrepreneurs have taken this to heart, including Jeff Bezos of According to his "Two-Pizza Rule", a team or meeting should contain no more people than it would take to feed with two large pizzas. Bezos sets the number at 5-8. Why so few? Partially because the more channels of communication involved, the greater the likelihood for confusion. To answer the title question, clearly there are … [Read more...]

Letting Go: The Benefits of Sharing Responsibility

Letting Go: The Benefits of Sharing Responsibility by Laura Stack #productivity

We've all encountered people who wield their power like a club, whether they work in corporate or government jobs. Until relatively recently, most organizations were hierarchical, and most lower-level workers had little power or autonomy. As new technology has loosened managerial control, this has eased somewhat. While workers exhibit a greater willingness and ability to execute strategy, managers nonetheless often remain reluctant to share responsibility and authority. It may be that in our secret hearts, we all believe the right thing to do is to hold onto all the power we can, especially as we rise into the executive ranks. When you were a kid, your parents probably made you share your toys. You may have done the same with your own kids. However, most people don’t want to share … [Read more...]

BIG News for authors, speakers, bloggers, coaches

Tribal 2015

I'm extremely excited to share some important news with you today. It's about an event that can be HUGE for you. It's a powerful three-day conference for tribe builders --- people who are agents of change and want to lead. If that's you, you're going to go CRAZY over this event. It's called TRIBAL. TRIBAL is the first-ever event of its kind, created exclusively for thought leaders, artists, speakers, authors, consultants, information entrepreneurs, political leaders, YouTubers, coaches, or any kind of agent of change who wants to lead a tribe and make a difference. The public announcement will happen in ten days. But I wanted my readers to have a shot at a special early-bird discount. Make the most of it, and bring the best members of your creative team (marketing director, … [Read more...]

The Link Between Persuasion and Productivity

WHAT MORE CAN I SAY? Why Communication Fails and What to Do About It! by Dianna Booher #communication #productivity

The ability to persuade is essential in virtually all fields. My mentor, Dianna Booher, has just published a new book called What MORE Can I Say? Why Communication Fails and What to Do About It, which presents nine principles of persuasive communication essential for anyone hoping to change someone’s mind or actions. I’m pleased to provide the following exclusive guest post on how you can make your communication more productive. The Link Between Persuasion and Productivity By Dianna Booher Change usually involves a period of chaos until people struggle through it to success. Solutions are seldom pain free. Even the world’s most powerful software requires a learning curve. Influencing people to take action—whether to buy your product, accept your recommendation, or change their … [Read more...]

Sidestepping Micromanagement: How to Follow Up Without Being a Pest

Sidestepping Micromanagement: How to Follow Up Without Being a Pest by Laura Stack #productivity

"Management is about arranging and telling. Leadership is about nurturing and enhancing." --Tom Peters, American business writer. If you've attained a management position, then you've certainly learned that you must delegate some or most of your work, to avoid being overwhelmed by your responsibilities. No single manager can do everything he or she is ultimately responsible for. Having responsibility for something doesn’t mean it’s your job per se—you just need to make sure it’s done. Take Merck's Roger Perlmutter. He’s in charge of the R&D Division that manufactures new drugs. He doesn’t invent the drugs. But he makes sure they are invented by people who focus on nothing else. His job is to cut out the fat that slows their production. When he took his position in 2012, he … [Read more...]