Easy Integration: Getting New Team Members Up and Running Quickly

  "Trust is knowing that when a team member does push you, they're doing it because they care about the team."–Patrick Lencioni, American business author. Whether functioning as a team leader or a member, at some point in your career, you'll help integrate new people into your work group. (← click to tweet) Boom cycles, personnel turnover and team expansion are common times. Team members get promoted, start their own new teams, or move on to other jobs, while newbies come aboard. While this process can be disruptive to everyone on the team, it's also unavoidable. As with every business challenge, you can find ways handle this issue with a minimum of fuss, and even re-frame it as an opportunity. If nothing else, integrating new people into your team shows upper management your … [Read more...]

Four Paths to Lean Office Productivity: Can the Just-In-Time Concept Work for You?

"The most dangerous kind of waste is the waste we do not recognize." — Shigeo Shingo, Japanese industrial engineer. Ever since Toyota invented lean manufacturing, much has been made of its application to all professions, including “desk” jobs. The lean philosophy boils down to this: cut anything in the work process that fails to add value to the end-user. The end-user may be a consumer, one's supervisor, or the group in the organizational structure to which you deliver your final product. Side note: Speaking of things that don't add value to the end user, check out this short clip of how I learned the hard way that my newsletters weren't hitting home, and what I did to fix it: Video - Eliminating Low Value Business Activities A central tenet of lean is "Just In Time" or "JIT" … [Read more...]

Four Tips to Encourage You to Grab for the Gold Ring: Incentivizing Yourself to Higher Productivity

"I always felt that I hadn't achieved what I wanted to achieve. I always felt I could get better. That's the whole incentive."— Dame Virginia Wade, OBE, British former professional tennis player Incentivization may be a buzzword in business circles, but it's a buzzword for good reasons. Researchers have known for years that most employees aren't fully engaged with their work; some never engage at all. Even the best of us sometimes see our jobs as little more than guaranteed paychecks—a means to the end of a comfortable lifestyle or, in more troubled times, fiscal survival. Hence the need for motivators not to just do better work, but to bother to work hard at all. Motivation has always been a prime worry of management, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. (← click to … [Read more...]

Four Ways to Get Better at Your Job Right Away: Stepping Up to Boost Your Productivity

"Have patience. All things are difficult before they become easy."–Saadi, ancient Persian poet. It should go without saying that one of your primary goals as an employee is to improve at your job, and most of us set out to build toward peak performance using time-tested, long-term methods that produce over time. We've all heard about the 10,000-hour rule, and how it gradually lifts us toward expert status; and you've probably seen it at work in your own career. I certainly have. Most improvements are gradual like this. That said, there are things you can do today that will noticeably improve your productivity within 24 hours, if not right away (← click to tweet). They're not magic---just common-sense ideas you may have lost track of as you hustled to get your job done. And while these … [Read more...]

Six Ways to Prepare to Excel: the Connection Between Groundwork and Productivity

 "Be prepared."—Boy Scout Motto. According to legend, Albert Einstein shared this characteristic with the late Steve Jobs, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, and U.S. President Barack Obama: he pared his wardrobe down to a few simple outfits, so he didn't have to worry about what to wear every morning. Whether it's true or apocryphal for the great physicist remains uncertain, but it's an established fact for the three aforementioned leaders. Simple routines represent a great way to triage your schedule and save time for what really matters. If you think about it, that's one way that advance preparation can improve your life. What other routines can you establish to prepare in advance and heighten productivity? 1. Marshal your resources the evening before. If you know you'll need certain … [Read more...]

What You Stand For: Building a Team Philosophy and Code of Conduct

"Success or failure depends more upon attitude than upon capacity. Successful [people] act as though they have accomplished or are enjoying something. Soon it becomes a reality. Act, look, and feel successful, conduct yourself accordingly, and you will be amazed at the positive results." – William James, American philosopher. What makes a team successful? In many ways, building a team is like constructing a building. While most of us aren’t engineers, we understand the basics of their work. We know, for example, that constructing a building requires basic resources, fasteners to hold the pieces together, protective elements, and more—but it’s all built on a foundation, proceeding from the bottom up. A Solid Substrate In my Christian Bible, Jesus Christ once declared to the Apostle … [Read more...]

Productive Technology: Five Must-Have Mobile Apps

Productive Technology: Five Must-Have Mobile Apps by Laura Stack #productivity

"What new technology does is create new opportunities to do a job that customers want done." -- Tim O'Reilly, founder of O'Reilly Media. It's curious how user-friendly and simple the apps have become, especially in the hands of Android and Apple, the providers of the two most popular smartphone platforms. All the new apps require is a basic understanding of electronics—the stuff they teach in grade school these days—and a willingness to jump right in and experiment. This technology has literally revolutionized modern business, and new apps are piling on the bandwagon every day. So in this article, I’d like to share five must-face productivity apps that are shaping the user experience and face of business today. 1. Xerox Mobile Link. Xerox has a habit of making the inevitable … [Read more...]

Guest Post: Setting Parameters

Activate your brain by Scott Halfort

Excerpted from Scott Halford’s new groundbreaking book on success and the brain, Activate Your Brain http://amzn.to/1GVlTbr The happiest people with the healthiest brains are leaving space in their lives to say yes to themselves. We should be saying yes to ourselves every day. In order to do this, we need to set parameters. I often ask participants in my workshops, “how many of you do email or some form of work past eight o’ clock in the evening on a regular basis?” At least half of the class raises their hand every time. It is startling, because these are often the same people who grumble about having no time to spend with their partners and children, no time to do the hobbies they like. And yet, they choose to say yes to work and no to themselves, their family, their friends, and … [Read more...]

Timesaving Technology Tools

Timesaving Technology Tools by Laura Stack #productivity

With so many gadgets, applications, software, and devices available to us today, it’s hard to know which ones are truly timesavers, and which ones are a waste of time (technology toys versus tools). Since I’m frequently asked what the Productivity Pro recommends to save time, I wanted to share a few timesaving technology tools for you to explore: 1. Decrease keystrokes with shortkeys. ShortKeys is a Windows text replacement utility designed to help you type faster and more accurately. You basically create abbreviations for words, phrases, and paragraphs you use frequently, and the software types them out automatically. I’d estimate it saves me 15 minutes a day! To use it, you define a “shortkey” in place of a longer text string, such as TVM for Thank you very much. Now instead of typing … [Read more...]

Handle With Care: Avoiding the Dangers of Social Media

Handle With Care: Avoiding the Dangers of Social Media by Laura Stack

Every hiring manager has a story about someone who has botched a job interview or torpedoed a career due to thoughtless comments on social media sites. I know someone whose close friend, a technical writer, lost his job after making negative comments about his company's investment prospects on MySpace (remember them?). Few people think twice about posting embarrassing party pictures on their Facebook pages or casual trash-talk on Twitter. However, your prospective employer or current company also has an online presence, so you are the face of the company. Accordingly, they may keep an eye on you, which is not tough when you voluntarily post content for the world to see. As your mother always taught you: don’t bite the hand that feeds you. Moreover, if you can’t say something nice, … [Read more...]