Skip to content

Recent Articles

20
Jan

The Pareto Principle Makes You More Positively Productive

Have you heard of the Pareto Principle? Many people have and use it to be more positively productive every day. If you haven’t, here’s a quick explanation of what it is and how you can use it.

In the 1800s, Italian economist Vilferdo Pareto studied the wealth and income distribution in Europe. He discovered that approximately 20 percent of population held 80 percent of the wealth. The ratio held when it was extended to other areas and became known as the “Pareto distribution” or the “80/20 Rule.”

The 80/20 Rule states that roughly 80% of effects come from 20% of causes. For example, 80 percent of your profits will come from 20 percent of your customers, and 80 of complaints you receive also will come from 20 percent of your customers! Sometimes, the distribution skews one way or another—90/10 or 85/15, but generally it holds true.

Applying the Pareto Principle at work means that 20 percent of your activities will produce 80 percent of the results you need. The more you focus on the 20 percent that delivers the 80 percent, the more positively productive you are. The key is identifying the 20 percent that matters!

Look at your job description and performance plan. What results are you being held accountable to achieve? What is in the top tier of importance? Is the client conversion project more important than the monthly sales report? Is the new marketing plan implementation more important than the stack of performance evaluations on your desk?

Each time you decide to focus on a task, ask yourself if you are working on the most important task you can in the moment? Are you working on the critical 20 percent? Stopping to answer these questions will help you focus on the key tasks. See my blog posts Priorities Matter and Juggling Multiple Deadlines Using Paired Comparison for more information you can use.

16
Jan

Does Your Workplace Stress Your Team?

Workplace stress is epidemic, and just about everyone experiences a level of stress every day. According to a survey on workplace stress from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 40 percent of respondents stated that their jobs were very or extremely stressful! The report sites these contributing factors that lead to stress: “Heavy workload, infrequent rest breaks, long work hours and shiftwork; hectic and routine tasks that have little inherent meaning, do not utilize workers’ skills, and provide little sense of control.”

Here are some tools to help you identify and reduce work-related stress in your department.

  • Check ergonomics. Poorly positioned computers, badly designed office chairs, inadequate lighting, and offensive noises and odors are just some environmental factors that create stress. Check with your company’s environmental safety unit for solutions that are easily implemented.
  • Require everyone to take short stretch breaks every 60 to 90 minutes. Sitting for too long is physically debilitating and detrimental to health, and focusing for more than 60 or 90 minutes reduces productivity. A short break is necessary to relive physical and mental stress.
  • Make sure every team member understands your expectations about deliverables, deadlines, and performance measures. Stress can mount when employees are unsure of themselves or their roles in your organization.
  • Provide opportunities for employees to take training and learn new skills. This shows that you appreciate them and are willing to invest in their development. Raising morale and improving motivation are stress-busters.
  • Lighten up! Laughter in the workplace relieves tension and stress. See my blog post Does Positivity at Work Really Make a Difference?

As a manager, you need to evaluate if your work environment is negatively stressing your team and take steps to create a stress-free workplace. See my blog posts Take Action to Manage Stress and Stress Busters for more information.

6
Jan

Delegate To Be More Positively Productive

Delegation is one of the most productive skills you can master. It not only helps you leverage your time, it helps you develop the leadership skills of your team. When you skillfully delegate, you turn over the execution of an assignment or task to someone you trust to deliver the results you need. Here are some tips to make delegation successful.Yes delegation woman binders

  • Generally, any activity that can be done by someone on your team rather than by you is a likely task to be delegated. Don’t spend your time doing things you don’t have to do.
  • Match an employee’s skills with the skills needed to succeed, but provide the employee with an opportunity to grow and develop.
  • Set up the employee for success. Meet and explain the importance of the assignment, your expectations for deliverables, any deadlines, and their level of authority to make decisions.
  • Be available during the assignment to answer questions and give feedback.
  • Avoid micromanaging, but have an open door for questions and guidance. Trust your employees to deliver!

Remember, the more you develop your staff, the more you and your team will be positively productive, and delegation is one of the best ways to do this. See my blog post Avoid These Delegation Pitfalls for more information.

2
Jan

Plug Productivity Drains

Have you left work at the end of the day and wondered where the time went? Do you ever feel exhausted even though you haven’t accomplished anything? If so, your productivity is leaking away. Let’s look at some common areas of productivity drain and what you can do to plug them!exhausted

Email Drains

How many emails do you get daily? If you’re like most people, you’re averaging 121 emails a day, and that number is going up. Most workers spend more than 11 hours a week on email alone. It is not surprising that it’s a huge drain on your productivity. Here are some tips from my Writing and Managing Email class to make the job easier.

  • Unless it’s your job to answer emails when they arrive. Stop. Set specific times during the day to open and respond to them. You’ll save time and get more done than you would by answering emails as they arrive.
  • Use rules to pre-sort emails from key people and on key projects; you save time not having to look for them. See my blog post Use Rules to Manage Email.
  • Set up folders to easily file completed emails and implement a follow-up system to keep track of incomplete ones. See my blog post Don’t Let Someone Hold You Up for information.

Meeting Drains

Approximately 33 percent of your time is spent at meetings. The key to plugging this drain on your productivity is to vet each meeting before agreeing to attend. Find out what decisions need to be made at the meeting and what part you are expected to play. If you can delegate attendance to a member of your team, do so. See my blog post Don’t Let Meetings Run Your Day for more information.

Interruptions

Interruptions are another productivity drain. It can take up to 20 minutes to regain your focus when you are interrupted. The key is to take control of your time! Be assertive about telling people you can’t talk right now, but will call them later. Close your door if you have one; otherwise, remove your guest chair or pile stuff on it so visitors cannot sit. See my blog post Take Charge of Interruptions.

Is your productivity leaking? If so, be more positively productive by implementing these tips and plug those productivity drains.

 

 

January 8

Delegate to Be More Positively Productive

 

Delegation is one of the most productive skills you can master. It not only helps you leverage your time, it helps you develop the leadership skills of your team. When you skillfully delegate, you turn over the execution of an assignment or task to someone you trust to deliver the results you need. Here are some tips to make delegation successful.

  • Generally, any activity that can be done by someone on your team rather than by you is a likely task to be delegated. Don’t spend your time doing things you don’t have to do.
  • Match an employee’s skills with the skills needed to succeed, but provide the employee with an opportunity to grow and develop.
  • Set up the employee for success. Meet and explain the importance of the assignment, your expectations for deliverables, any deadlines, and their level of authority to make decisions.
  • Be available during the assignment to answer questions and give feedback.
  • Avoid micromanaging, but have an open door for questions and guidance. Trust your employees to deliver!

Remember, the more you develop your staff, the more you and your team will be positively productive, and delegation is one of the best ways to do this. See my blog post Avoid These Delegation Pitfalls for more information.

January 15

Does Your Workplace Stress Your Team?

 

Workplace stress is epidemic, and just about everyone experiences a level of stress every day. According to a survey on workplace stress from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 40 percent of respondents stated that their jobs were very or extremely stressful! The report sites these contributing factors that lead to stress: “Heavy workload, infrequent rest breaks, long work hours and shiftwork; hectic and routine tasks that have little inherent meaning, do not utilize workers’ skills, and provide little sense of control.”

Here are some tools to help you identify and reduce work-related stress in your department.

  • Check ergonomics. Poorly positioned computers, badly designed office chairs, inadequate lighting, and offensive noises and odors are just some environmental factors that create stress. Check with your company’s environmental safety unit for solutions that are easily implemented.
  • Require everyone to take short stretch breaks every 60 to 90 minutes. Sitting for too long is physically debilitating and detrimental to health, and focusing for more than 60 or 90 minutes reduces productivity. A short break is necessary to relive physical and mental stress.
  • Make sure every team member understands your expectations about deliverables, deadlines, and performance measures. Stress can mount when employees are unsure of themselves or their roles in your organization.
  • Provide opportunities for employees to take training and learn new skills. This shows that you appreciate them and are willing to invest in their development. Raising morale and improving motivation are stress-busters.
  • Lighten up! Laughter in the workplace relieves tension and stress. See my blog post Does Positivity at Work Really Make a Difference?

As a manager, you need to evaluate if your work environment is negatively stressing your team and take steps to create a stress-free workplace. See my blog posts Take Action to Manage Stress and Stress Busters for more information.

18
Dec

Set Your Intentions for 2018

If you’re like most people, you set resolutions each year, and if you are like most people, you rarely achieve them! Maybe you should consider setting intentions rather than resolutions. What’s the difference?shutterstock_93517747

According to wikidiff.com, “As nouns, the difference between resolution and intention is that resolution is a strong will or determination while intention is a course of action that a person intends to follow.”

Big difference, right? An intention is a course of action!

As the end of 2017 fast approaches, think about what’s ahead for 2018. Pretend it’s one year from today, and you are writing about everything that you accomplished in 2018. Consider both professional and personal accomplishments.

What’s on your list?

Take each item and create a course of action to achieve it. For example, let’s say one of your items is to obtain a professional certification that will enhance your career and promotional opportunities. What actions steps are necessary to achieve this? When will you take them? When will you complete each step? The more detail you include in your course of action, the more real your intention becomes until you can believe that you can do it.

Intentions carry more power and are more motivating than resolutions because they force us to look at how we will achieve them.

“Our intention creates our reality.” Wayne Dyer, author

10
Dec

Have a Stress-free Holiday

Holiday time is fun and simultaneously stressful. Juggling your work and private life is challenging most days, but during the holidays, the pace speeds up. You have more to do than one human being can handle, and there’s less time to get it all done! It’s a perfect storm for short tempers and thin patience. Here are some tips to keep things from stealing your holiday joy.shutterstock_99376793

  • Make clear decisions about how you want to spend your time and money. Focus on what’s most important and don’t let little things ruin your peace of mind.
  • Just say no. Be assertive about declining activities you don’t have the bandwidth—or desire—to take on.
  • Ask for help. You don’t have to do everything by yourself. Ask your manager if your schedule can be more flexible during this time. Have family and friends pitch in at home and involve your family in planning and execution.
  • Make shopping easy! Use online retailers and have gifts wrapped and sent. If you’re braving brick-and-mortar stores, plan. Decide what you want, what stores you want to visit, and focus on getting in and out. If you like holiday hustle and bustle, be prepared for noise, jostling, and long lines.

Most importantly, take time for yourself to relax and decompress from stress. Make this holiday season fun and peaceful for you and those around you.

2
Dec

Don’t Let Holiday Parties Derail Your Career

You probably will be attending many holiday parties hosted by clients and colleagues. These events are wonderful opportunities to get to know people outside of business, but even though the focus may not be on business, your professionalism is on display. Don’t let the temptation to relax and have fun lead to missteps that can reflect badly on you. The event is business related, so stay on your best behavior. Here are some tips to help you.shutterstock_230996554

  • Review your company’s policies and adhere to them.
  • Before taking photos, make sure you have people’s permission. It can be annoying to have someone whip out a phone and start shooting.
  • Be careful what you post on social media since you might embarrass someone—or yourself!—or violate your company’s policies or that of your customers.
  • If alcohol is served, limit your intake and make sure you eat while you drink. At customer events, you might want to avoid alcohol and stick to soda or sparkling water.
  • Make a point to get to know someone new or someone you only know by phone. The holiday party is a good time to reconnect with those you haven’t seen or spoken with in a while.
  • Avoid talking shop and focus on getting to know people better as individuals.

Holiday parties can be valuable opportunities to deepen relationships with clients and colleagues. While it’s fine to be relaxed and have fun, keep things in moderation and always act with courtesy and professionalism.

26
Nov

Customer Service Matters

How skillful are your employees when it comes to delivering customer service? Here are some skills that all employees need to develop if you want to consistently deliver quality care.shutterstock_147498467

  • Empathy is the ability to step into the customer’s experience and accept what they are feeling without judgement. This helps you understand the customer’s point of view, so you can better help them.
  • The highest compliment you can pay someone is to listen to them without distractions. This can be challenging since we often spring ahead to what we think the solution might be rather than staying focused on the speaker. See my blog post Key Listening Skills for more information.
  • Product knowledge. Customers expect you to know everything about the products and services offered by your organization. Stay up to date on innovations, marketing and sales materials, and overall product knowledge.
  • Customers want decisions and resolutions NOW! Understand how much authority you have and be willing to make decisions independently to the extent of that authority. If you need to refer the customer to someone else, make the transaction as smooth and easy as possible.

The more you improve the customer service skills of your staff, the more your customers know you care about them. Check out my program Creating a Positive Customer Service Experience.

 

19
Nov

Happy Thanksgiving!

I want to thank all of you who read my blog and take the time to comment. It is important for me to give you practical information you can use on the job to improve your skills and those of your team. I would love to hear from you about topics you would like to see covered in future posts.Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to you, your team, and

your families!

 

12
Nov

Thank Your Employees

Thanksgiving is one week away. Now is the time to thank your team. Here are some tips to make this easier and more effective.Great job

  • Host a get-together for the entire team. If your team is small, you could cater in lunch, hold a pizza or dessert party, or even take them out to lunch. If you have a large team, consider a potluck, but provide dessert or the entrée.
  • Give each person extra time off. Close the office early to thank your staff and give them time to prepare for the holiday. If you can’t completely shut down operations, stagger time off so everyone benefits.
  • Take time to meet with every team member in person, if possible. Just a quick greeting and thank you will boost morale! If you can’t meet in person, consider sending personalized, handwritten notes to everyone with a message of your appreciation for their efforts in the past year. As a last resort, use a general thank-you email, but know that it doesn’t have the same impact as a personalized message would.
  • Present team members with certificates of appreciation, especially those who have delivered extraordinary results during the year.

It doesn’t take a lot of effort to show your team they matter to you as individuals. The stronger your personal relationship with your team, the stronger your leadership ability!