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...]

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...]

Employee Loyalty: How to Create and Maintain a Loyal Team

Employee Loyalty: How to Create and Maintain a Loyal Team by Laura Stack #productivity

"I'll take fifty percent efficiency to get one hundred percent loyalty." —Samuel Goldwyn, American movie mogul. To paraphrase Forrest Gump, loyalty is as loyalty does. In recent years, some business leaders have bemoaned the death of old-fashioned employee loyalty, as workers realize that technology has freed them from some workplace restraints. Many have also decided they can get farther faster by jumping from one company to another, rather than by working their way through the hierarchy of one organization. This is unfortunate, but it represents a natural evolution of the workplace. Conditions have changed drastically in the past several decades. Given global competition, the lingering Great Recession, and shareholder demands for greater value, most companies can no longer guarantee … [Read more...]

The Good Manager: Building Your ROI by Building Your Team’s

The Good Manager: Building Your ROI by Building Your Team's by Laura Stack #productivity

"Vision changes a 'transactional manager' into a 'transformational leader.' While a manager gets the job done, great leaders tap into the emotions of their employees." -- Brian Tracy, American motivational guru. "Employees are the most valuable asset that any organization has. In the past managers said 'jump" and the employees said, 'How high?' Now, the managers are jumping with employees." -- Jacob Morgan, American business writer. During the past generation or so, something unusual has happened in business: managers have evolved from the boss to a team player. Figuratively, they are still in charge, of course, but leaders realized they got farther by being in partnership with their employees. They act more like a visionary facilitator, rather than a strategy imposer. Why? By … [Read more...]

The Evils of Micromanaging, and How to Overcome Them

The Evils of Micromanaging, and How to Overcome Them by Laura Stack #productivity

For those of you who manage others, let’s begin with a quiz to do a quick check of your micromanagement tendencies. Please read through these questions carefully and answer them honestly, yes or no. What’s true of you most of the time? Do you often find yourself standing over subordinates’ shoulders, directing their work? Do you regularly redo your employees' work, even as a form of instruction? Do you second-guess employees on a daily basis? Do you require sign-off on every task, no matter how minor? Are you convinced of the truth of the old saying, "If you want something done right, you've got to do it yourself"? Do you work 12+ a day, trying to put out brushfires and rechecking everything you're responsible for? Do you have a hard time focusing on the big picture? If … [Read more...]

Active Alignment: Strengthening Your Team Via Goal-Setting

Active Alignment: Strengthening Your Team Via Goal-Setting by Laura Stack #productivity

“A goal is a dream with a deadline.” -- Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich As a leader, you bear most of the responsibility for whatever your team, division, department, or organization becomes while under your supervision. Yes, the performance of individual team members can determine your crew's success or failure; and yes, organizational rules may constrain you somewhat. But nonetheless, the onus is on you to make sure your people produce. If your team fails, you've failed. Of course, if your team fails, you can try to simply duck any accountability, as many business leaders have done in recent years—or you can face the music, as Lee Iacocca did in the 1970s and 1980s. More than once, Iacocca cut his own annual salary to $1 a year while cleaning up Chrysler. It was his … [Read more...]

Open Door Or Closed? Balancing Approachability Against Authority

"Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence." -- Leonardo da Vinci. "Nothing traps you in the urgency of the moment like availability." -- Sam Raimer, Baptist pastor and blogger. Anyone in a leadership position, from an office manager to a church pastor, has to carefully balance authority with approachability. Which should take precedence, if either? At one time, the answer was simple: authority was always preferable. But the workplace has changed radically in the last half century, and management experts have been debating the concept of the "open door policy" for decades. Some advocate its adoption on a wide scale, while others insist it can utterly destroy a leader's productivity. Given the wide latitude here, where should you strike the balance? In general, here are some … [Read more...]

“That’s Not My Job”: The Lamest Excuse in Business Today

"If you ever answer someone important with "That's Not My Job," you will be RIGHT! It won't be your job when you're terminated for being unimportant or useless." -- Judd Weiss, American business blogger. The most profoundly unhelpful phrase in modern business consists of just four syllables: "That's not my job." While uttering this phrase is rarely grounds for dismissal, perhaps it should be—especially in these days of uncertain economic conditions and an ever-changing marketplace—when teamwork matters more than it ever has before. To paraphrase Ben Franklin, the members of a workplace team must hang together, or they'll surely hang separately. Just one person refusing to do you what need to have done can damage team productivity. But human beings can be remarkably selfish, so you'll … [Read more...]

Managing UP: Maximizing Efficiency for Your Boss’s Sake

"Hire people who are better than you are, then leave them to get on with it . . . Look for people who will aim for the remarkable, who will not settle for the routine." -- David Ogilvy, British advertizing executive; often called The Father of Advertising. Most people regard management as overseeing and directing the work of subordinates: giving orders, delegating tasks, providing guidance, and making sure everyone consistently produces quality output. Of course, that is a fair textbook definition. But management doesn't always flow downhill—great employees manage UP as well. In recent years, the theme has become an increasingly popular one in management circles. Basically, managing up hinges on actions that make life easier for both the boss and the employee, offsetting the boss's bad … [Read more...]

Nailing It: Helping Others Implement Your Strategy

"The best CEOs I know are teachers, and at the core of what they teach is strategy." -- Michael Porter Your value as a leader stems largely from your role as team visionary, the person who defines the priorities for your group. In the modern workplace, you do this best not by executing decisions, but by engaging your team members’ energies. Your ultimate goal should be to channel their efforts, abilities, and dedication in such a way that they align as closely as possible with the strategic priorities of your organization. So easy to say—but so hard to do. Once you've formulated your strategy, be prepared to focus like a laser and direct every bit of energy you can spare toward implementation. That doesn't mean you have to run yourself into the ground to accomplish this, but you do have … [Read more...]