Brian Tracy

Eat That Frog! (Brian Tracy)

Winning Well Connection

We’ve been fans of Brian Tracy’s ideas on productivity and efficiency for a long time. So we were delighted to find that we were all keynoting at the HR Asia Summit in Singapore. We enjoyed chatting with Brian about his thoughts of getting results that last and building confidence.

Thanks, Brian for your decades of thought leadership and inspiration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eat That Frog

Click on the image for more information about Brian’s book.

Winning Well Reflection

Brian is a master at personal productivity and you can easily see why. His advice on building confidence in your team through task completion is a core part of the Winning Well Confidence Bursts strategy. We particularly appreciated his advice to help you evaluate what is truly the MIT among the competing priorities you face every day.

Frontline Festival: Leaders Share How They and Their Team are Preparing for the New Year

Welcome back to the Let’s Grow Leaders Frontline Festival. This month’s festival is all about preparing for 2017. Thanks to Joy and Tom Guthrie of Vizwerx Group for the great pic and to all our contributors! Next month’s Frontline Festival is all about goal setting.  Please submit your very best links to your goal setting posts. The question for the month is: “What your best practice for helping teams set meaningful goals?” Submit your answers and blog posts related to this question: here!

Jon Mertz of Thin Difference tells us that preparing is more than an act of getting ready or having a fixed plan. Preparing is creating the proper conditions to act more fully in the change we desire. Follow Jon.

Wally Bock of Three Star Leadership suggests that we forget resolutions. Concentrate on what you will DO differently. Follow Wally.

Michelle Cubas, CPCC, ACC, of Positive Potentials, LLC offers a post, “Loose Ends and Promises”, outlining some thoughts about the transition to a new year. Follow Michelle.

The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.
~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

From David Dye: In Winning Well we emphasize the importance of Committing with Clarity: mutually shared, clear commitments are the backbone of breakthrough results and healthy relationships. To that end, one way we’re preparing our team for 2017 is to create a playbook – a one-stop guide to the critical goals, messages, and activities of each strategic theme. It creates alignment, ensures we’re all focused on the same goals, and helps us to move faster. Follow David.

Chris Edmonds of Driving Results through Culture  says:  I’m a solopreneur – but I have some fine players in my “band.” (Bear with me – I’m a working musician on the side.) My publicity pro is amazing. My virtual assistant is brilliant. I’m doing more proactive strategic planning with my publicity pro with monthly calls so we can stay on top of trends and news-jacking opportunities that arise quickly. My goal for 1Q 2017 is to decide what my extremely capable VA can do more of – so I can do less of that and more content creation, writing, and marketing. Only if I trust these players more – and delegate more – can we do more for leaders, companies, and communities in the months to come. Follow Chris.

Eileen McDargh of The Energizer  shares: There are three people on my team: me, myself, and I. If I can get those three people in sync, then I can manage the other people who support me. I take myself away for three days on a silent retreat. I hike, write, and journal ideas. I meditate. I listen deeply. In the stillness that surrounds me, I come away refreshed. I don’t always have great breakthroughs and that’s ok too. The silence centers me because the rest of the year, I will be surrounded by the spoken word. Follow Eileen

Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.
~ Steve Jobs

Michelle Pallas of MichellePallas.com encourages us to understand ourselves, from all perspectives, before taking on something new. Follow Michelle.

Becky Robinson of Weaving Influence is preparing her team for 2017 by reflecting about and sharing wins from 2016 while setting goals and priorities for 2017. We’re all excited to launch a new website in the first quarter of 2017, which will more clearly reflect our company’s unique offer in the market while showcasing our authors/speakers. As we work on the website, we’re setting the stage for our best year ever.  Follow Becky.

William Steiner of Executive Coaching Concepts  says his team is cleaning up all contact files so our communications can be cleaner and more strategically targeted.  They are also going to have a nice party in January to celebrate the publishing of his new book, which was a collaborative, group effort.  Follow William.

Every day brings new choices.
~ Martha Beck

John Thurlbeck of Wear Consulting is reviewing how he did on goals in 2016 and setting goals for 2017 using Michael Hyatt’s Best Year Ever model. Follow John. 

Dr. Artika Tyner of the Planting People. Growing Justice Institute is preparing her team for 2017 by focusing on their brand. She feels this will serve as the foundation for developing new products and services while also holding the team accountable for clearly conveying their brand purpose and consistently delivering their best. Follow Artika.

Beth Beutler of H.O.P.E. Unlimited has a unique arrangement — she has a small team  of colleagues that help her provide virtual assistance, and she is ON more than team, providing virtual assistance. One of her hopes for the new year is that she cultivate herself and her own colleagues in such a way that the clients HOPE serves feel like the only team HOPE is on–is theirs. Follow Beth.

Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.
~ Oprah Winfrey

August Frontline Festival: Leaders Share Tips about Productive Work Spaces

Welcome back to the Let’s Grow Leaders Frontline Festival. This month’s festival gives tips about setting up a productive work space. Thanks to Joy and Tom Guthrie of Vizwerx Group for the great pic and to all our contributors!

Next month’s Frontline Festival is all about communication tips.  There are two ways to participate…either submit a blog post on the topic, or your 1-2 sentence answer to the question. Click here to participate! Now on to our topic for August:

Chip Bell of the Chip Bell Group says that everything he needs is within arms length of the desk (printer, work table, copier, scanner, large computer monitor, supplies (like scissors, stabler, rubber stamps, paper clips), speakers for music, etc. His office looks out over a gorgeous lake and his floor to ceiling book cases sit six feet from the desk. Follow Chip.

Beth Beutler of H.O.P.E. Unlimited has the following elements in her home office, the main “headquarters” for her VA and business soft skill business: stand up desk with monitor exactly mirroring the one at the sit down desk, screen behind her chair at sit down desk for a backdrop for video calls and recordings, chair for relaxed reading, and a number of items with the word HOPE on them as decor. She also has a small fountain, candle, succulents and other items throughout to create a pleasant atmosphere in the office. Follow Beth.

Michelle Cubas, CPCC, ACC, of Positive Potentials, LLC  shares that productivity is the result of an open mind and energy working together. Where we work has enormous influence over our attitude toward what we’re doing. Consider how you can change your energy by being inspired in your surroundings by taking a look at this post.  Follow Michelle.

Eric Dingler of EricDingler.com  keeps his physical and virtual space free of all clutter.  He has an inbox that everything goes in.  Once a day, he clears it following the GTD system.  He also uses the free version of Nozbe to keep himself on track and clutter free.  When he leaves his office, he has zero emails in his inbox and nothing in his physical inbox, so he leaves work free and walks in prepared and ahead. Follow Eric.

David Dye of Trailblaze finds natural light to be a key to productivity. He will turn off florescents and use desk lamps if sunlight isn’t available. Being surrounded by an aquarium, plants and living things also humanizes and relaxes him, helping him maintain perspective. Follow David.

Chris Edmonds of Driving Results through Culture finds that having a clear surface area (no matter where he’s working—his office desk or at a desk on the road somewhere) is most helpful in keeping him focused on the task at hand. Papers on his desk for needed tasks “talk to him.” Those stacks yell “Do me first!” Remove those piles and he can work his plan without distractions. Follow Chris.

Technology can be our best friend, and technology can also be the biggest party pooper of our lives. It interrupts our own story, interrupts our ability to have a thought or a daydream, to imagine something wonderful, because we’re too busy bridging the walk from the cafeteria back to the office on the cell phone.

~ Steven Spielberg

Mike Henry of MikeHenrySr.com says that his work space must be distraction free. When he is doing work he enjoys, distractions are less of a problem. But when he is doing something that isn’t very interesting, he needs to focus and can be easily distracted.  Follow Mike.

John Hunter of Curious Cat Management Improvement  really enjoys living as a digital nomad and having workspaces like the one here. He admits that the setup isn’t one that optimizes productivity though it can be energizing, inspiring and motivating, and that the “digital nomad” lifestyle isn’t for everyone.  His setup is just a Macbook Pro  (he also had an iPad mini to tether if he needed to use a cell phone signal to access the Internet) all of which allows him to work from just about anywhere. Follow John.

Paula Kiger of Perspicacity  finds that despite having a lot of technology in her work space, it’s her paper notebook with information like passwords written in it that often saves the day! Follow Paula.

Lisa Kohn from Thoughtful Leaders Blog  has found that one of the most important factors to consider when setting up her work space is what inspires her and makes her smile. She is most productive when surrounded by beauty and most creative when in a spot that pulls her out of her usual space and therefore out of her usual mindset.  For example, when she writes, she never sits at her desk. A coffee shop or her couch at home works better. When not on the phone, she works outdoors as much as possible, such as on a side porch at home.  Follow Lisa.

Melissa Lamson of Lamson Consulting suggests making your workspace your own. Decorate it. Create a safe, comfortable, calm space. Follow Melissa

I’m quite an untidy person in a lot of ways. But order makes me happy. I have to have a clear desk and a tidy desktop, with as few visual distractions as possible. I don’t mind sound distractions, but visual ones freak me out.
~ Joanne Harris

According to Don Maruska of DonMaruska.com, it’s important to create opportunities for a worker to have only their most important task in front of them while working on it. Multi-tasking is inefficient and stressful. Follow Don.

Eileen McDargh of The Energizer shares her philosophy:  A place for everything and everything in its place. With light bright surroundingss, flowers, pictures of friends, and equipment hidden from view, I feel productive and free. Follow Eileen

Andy Oziemblo of Cubicle Concepts suggests that  some of the biggest gains in productivity and individual motivation can be achieved through the use of modern office designs. The use of ergonomically optimum seating, height adjustable tables, and movement inducing treadmill workstations can help one attain many health benefits along with increased oxygen in your blood. Increased oxygen in your blood allows for better focus and mental production output. To spur motivation, choose work space artwork and colors that give inspiration as well as drive you towards set goals. Follow Andy.

Shelley Row of Shelley Row Associates shares tips for minimizing workspace and personal distractions in her post, Stop Draining Your AttentionFollow Shelley

Dr. Artika Tyner of the Planting People. Growing Justice Institute advises to create a vision board which visually reflects your goals and desired business outcomes. Post your vision board in your office as a daily reminder of your goals and progress in reaching your dreams. Follow Artika.

On my desk I have three screens, synchronized to form a single desktop. I can drag items from one screen to the next. Once you have that large display area, you’ll never go back, because it has a direct impact on productivity.
~ Bill Gates

Quote source: Brainyquote.com

Frontline Festival: Leaders share about favorite apps, technology, and productivity hacks

Welcome back to the Let’s Grow Leaders Frontline Festival. This month’s festival gives tips about favorite tools and technology. Thanks to Joy and Tom Guthrie of Vizwerx Group for the great pic and to all our contributors!

Next month’s Frontline Festival is all about how to take a complete break from work (i.e. for vacation.) There are two ways to participate…either submit a blog post on the topic, or your 1-2 sentence answer to the question. Click here to participate! Now on to our topic for June:

What tools do you use to stay productive?

Beth Beutler of H.O.P.E. Unlimited has used the task/recurring task functionality in Microsoft Outlook for many years. She loves how she can set up task reminders to pop up on the appropriate days, can easily change dates to defer tasks, can batch tasks into categories, and can drag an email into task format (this helps keep her in-box clean too.) She also uses Google reminders for the occasional on-the-fly “thing to remember” to pop up at a designated time. Follow Beth

Wally Bock of Three Star Leadership  has been tracking his productivity for around fifty years now. Here’s what has worked for him consistently over that half century. Follow Wally.

Michelle Cubas, CPCC, ACC, of Positive Potentials, LLC shares that one of her stress saving tools is Evernote. “This application has a free component and I use it daily. How does it serve me? It puts all my information in one place, easily labeled and organized so I can find it! Follow Michelle.

Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.
~ Paul J. Meyer

For David Dye of Trailblaze  Evernote is the first app he installs on a new phone, tablet, or computer. It is an extension of his brain! The other “tool” that helps stay productive: exercise–preferably a good hike in nature. He’s always more productive afterwards. Follow David.

Chris Edmonds of Driving Results through Culture shares: The apps I use daily are proven tools that maintain my sanity and enable promotion of my concepts. They include Nozbe (a cloud-based brilliant task manager), Evernote (a cloud-based “memory enhancer” – for notes, photos, and more), Tweet Jukebox (a terrific quote scheduler that will soon add Facebook and LinkedIn to Twitter posting), Sucuri (website firewall and anti-malware), WPTwin (backs up and restores my various WordPress sites), and SurfEasy (a private VPN that enables safe WiFi use, even in countries where social media is “blocked”!) Here’s a link to learn more about these and other tools I depend on.  Follow Chris

Ariana Friedlander of Rosabella Consulting recommends starting your day by identifying your Big 5 tasks for the day and keep them front and center.  These are the things you need to check off the proverbial list in order to fall asleep knowing you got the important stuff done. Follow Ariana.

I think I have over 60 apps on my iPhone. I use six.
~ Gordon Smith

As an entrepreneur with many projects on the go, Patrick Hankinson of Hello Focus grew frustrated with current tools on the market, finding that none of them really kept his team focused, becoming harder to manage as the team grew. He followed the adage, “Scratch your own itch” and created Hello Focus.  Follow Patrick.

John Hunter of Curious Cat Management   Improvement  has found that taking advantage of all the great ideas among leadership and management bloggers is very important to his continued productivity and success. He feels would be greatly disadvantaged in doing so without an RSS feed reader. Follow John.

Lisa Kohn from Thoughtful Leaders Blog says, “I’m sure that everyone has wonderful tools, apps, and technology to offer that they use to be more productive, but I’ve got something else entirely that is probably my biggest secret and tool. Quietness and meditation. If I forget to find quiet time, if I forget to slow my mind and breathe, if I forget to spend time in peace and meditation, I am simply not as productive. Or as happy. Follow Lisa.

Boundary setting is really a huge part of time management.
~ Jim Loehr

Jennifer Miller of The People Equation  takes the productivity concept of “batching” to the next level with “Theme Days” and explains they can help provide focus and a sense of accomplishment. Follow Jennifer.

Alli Polin of Break the Frame  shares: “Two of my favorite apps that help to manage my productivity are 1) Evernote: I keep everything in there and it’s at my fingertips; and 2) I’m also a huge fan of Rescue Time. You can’t change where you spend your time until you know where it goes. It’s an eye opener!  Follow Alli.

Becky Robinson of Weaving Influence shares “My team uses Basecamp for every project, and using Basecamp helps us stay focused to deliver what we’ve promised. We can easily track progress, find files, and share helpful information with others. We also use Slack for in-the-moment communication and team building. These two apps are critical to our work success.”  Follow Becky.

Each minute is a little thing, and yet, with respect to our personal productivity, to manage the minute is the secret of success.
~ Joseph B. Wirthlin

Shelley Row of Shelley Row Associates recommends an environment that enhances productivity, with visual and auditory stimulus that aligns with getting things done (it may require headphones.)  Follow Shelley

Dr. Artika Tyner of the Planting People. Growing Justice Institute  finds Hootsuite to be her favorite application, using it to organize her social media life. Follow Artika.

Unless otherwise stated, quotations are sourced from Brainyquote.com.

 

 

 

 

 

6 Ways to Stay Productive When You're Completely Overwhelmed

Have you ever looked at your to do list and just laughed? You think, “Oh right, that’s not happening,” and then moments later, you realize that none of the tasks on your list are really an option. Perhaps that’s the point that your nervous laughter turns to tears.

That’s the wall I hit this week. I’ve had a number of serious personal challenges that require an intense investment of emotion and time, some stuff I wouldn’t have chosen, and certainly not at a time like this, and other remarkable surprises filled with joy and hope.

And, I’m neck-deep in the throes of the most intense and exciting time of my entire career.  We’re starting our tour for Winning Well, and response has been tremendous. There’s a constant flurry of speeches and media interviews to prepare for, and we head to Oregon next week to film for our forthcoming Winning Well online course.

Sure I took out Eisenhower’s good old urgent and important matrix and mapped my priorities. The truth is, the urgent AND important box would make your hair curl. My closest friends and family are all saying “You have every right to feel this way… even half of the list would feel impossible.” Although that may feel strangely comforting, it doesn’t actually make the list smaller.

So if you’re reading this because you’re feeling overwhelmed, know that I’m right there with you.

Here’s what I’ve been doing to cope. And it’s helping. I hope it can help you too.

6 Ways to Stay Productive When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed

  1. Identify Your Most Important Thing (MIT)
    In Winning Well, we write about the importance of identifying your MIT each day, “At the start of each day look over your projects, tasks, and to-dos and identify the one item that is the MIT for that day.”
  2. Follow the “Rule of One”
    The Rule of One means that you give one thing at a time your full attention. When you need to change focus do so fully and intentionally. If you spend much time with C-level executives, you’ll see that they do not multi-task. They focus. They’re all in. Concentrating. They’re confident their focus will make an impact. There’s a reason they focus on one important task at a time. Give it a shot.
  3. Breathe
    Yes, that sounds cliché, and it is…if you keep breathing as a metaphor. But if you find yourself holding your breath as you’re working your way down the list, I encourage you to stop, close your eyes and take five slow breaths in and out.
  4. Take a Walk
    Before you scream at your computer, “Yeah, lady, I told you I don’t have time already and now you want me to go for a walk?” stay with me. This week I was feeling really blocked on the structure for an important speech I’m doing. I’m committed to adding real value for the audience, and we’re filming it, so I need to nail it to preserve the value for others as well. I was making myself insane staring at my computer writing and rewriting, and I just couldn’t get the stories to flow to align with my message. I got in the car and drove to a trailhead with a blank piece of paper and a pencil. I walked without consciously thinking, and whenever I got a surge of inspiration, I wrote it down. At one point, I just stopped and sat on a rock and sketched out a brand new model that’s perfect for this speech and others. Plus, I got to check off exercise from the list.  BAM!
  5. Ask For and Receive Help
    Look around, my guess is there are people offering to help. If not think about who you can ask. This can be tough for so many reasons… perhaps you think you can do it better, perhaps you want to be doing your fair share, or maybe you just don’t want to feel out of control. I get it. I also know when you receive help, tasks go away. Our Winning Well toolkit is done and the Frontline Festival will run as scheduled, all without much intervention from me because I said “yes” to help from my co-author, David and my assistant, Beth, when they said “Just let me do this.”
  6. Decide What Must Go
    After three years, of religiously writing a blog post three times a week, the last few weeks, I’ve gone down to one. Yes, I felt guilty. Sure I worried about letting folks down. But the truth is, bringing you strong, fresh content three times a week just isn’t feasible right now. Better to take a step back and decide how to keep the blog adding value AND focusing on the rest of the list.

    People who are making an impact all feel overwhelmed from time to time. If you’re in that season, don’t spend time feeling frustrated and guilty. Take a deep breath, break it down, ask for help and work on what you know will make the biggest difference for your work and the people you care about.

You're Busy, But Are You Productive?

I see them in every organization I work with–the super-busy, really stressed manager who gets in early, stays late, eats lunch at their desk, and still can’t get it all done. Sadly they’re also often resentful that their performance doesn’t warrant an “exceptional” rating or a promotion. They lament: “Can’t they see how hard I’m working? I’m sacrificing everything for this job.” The problem is not lack of effort, it’s effectiveness. Often this stems from letting other people set your agenda and spending too much time on tasks that add little value.

This week, I was interviewed for the terrific post by Kelsey Manning in the Levo League:  11 Differences Between Busy People and Productive People. It’s so timely for our LGL Accelerator week, that I’ve shared an exerpt here. I loved all 11 tips.

The Difference Between Busy and Productive

1. Productive people view productivity differently.

Get rid of that checklist mentality, stat. “Busy people concentrate on the task completion aspect of duties and responsibilities—maintaining a ‘checklist’ focus—while others embrace a broader perspective of contributions that measurably contribute to the higher strategic objectives of the organization, says Donn LeVie, Jr., a career strategist and former Fortune 500 hiring manager. “Workaholics ask: ‘What’s next on the list?’ while high performers ask: ‘What’s going to provide the biggest bang for the buck for the organization?’”

2. Productive people understand which tasks actually matter.

The tasks that feel urgent are not always the most important. Productive people understand that the point of any job is to deliver value. “It’s vital to understand which behaviors and actions are getting results and which are not,” says Karin Hurt, CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders. “And then, you need to have the courage to stop wasting time on the behaviors that get no ROI [return on investment]. The biggest time-suckers are conference calls and unproductive meetings. Truly productive people don’t sit on conference calls that don’t add value. If you find you can multi-task through an entire call, that’s not an indicator that you’re productive, it’s a sign that you shouldn’t be on that call. Speak up and change the approach.”

Continue Reading…

5 secrets to effective conference calls

5 Big Rules For Productive Conference Calls

It’s easy to fool ourselves into the illusion that “just having a conference call,” instead of a face-to-face meeting or one-on-one, will save time. In fact, it’s that kind of thinking that leaves many managers moving from call to call with little time to connect with their team.

In an attempt to salvage some productivity in their day, they put the phone on mute and try to get real work done at the same time—and don’t pay close attention to much as a result.

A Quick Rant Against Conference Calls

Perhaps you’ve been on one of these soul sucking calls. A direct report stops by, and, grateful for a distraction, you mouth “Oh it’s just our regular update call,” put the phone on mute and attempt to a have a meaningful conversation.

Just when you’re fist-bumping yourself for being a high-energy multi-tasker, you hear your name mentioned…twice. Oh crap. You quickly take the phone off mute, apologize and say, “I was speaking to the mute button,” which of course is technically true. The opinion you offer next is nowhere near as salient as it would have been if you had been paying attention. Your peer IMs you, “What are you doing, aren’t you going to bring up the idea we agreed to last week?” Oh boy, now you’ve ticked her off, and stumble awkwardly into, “Oh, I forgot I do have one more thing to add. You see Janet and I were thinking…” Awkward.

Think Like an Entrepreneur

One thing has been conspicuously missing this past year as I started my own business–no wasteful conference calls. Why? Well first, the last thing I want to charge my clients for is any time that will not add absolute value to them and their bottom line. Second, I don’t want to pay my contractors for a minute of wasted effort that could be working productively to advance our mission of growing leaders around the world. The next time you have a conference call, try thinking like an entrepreneur. Estimate the hourly rate of those attending the call, and see if there’s a more efficient use of their time to get to the result you need.

Big Rules

Look them in the eye

Honestly, one of the biggest reasons my “conference calls” have become so productive is that they’re almost always done over video–for free. Zoom (my favorite), Skype, Go to Meeting, or Google Hangouts all work. You can see facial expressions and get a better read on emotions AND it takes multi-tasking off the table.

Articulate outcomes

Meetings are meant for two things, to move results forward or to build relationships. Be clear on your objectives. Are you there to make a specific decision? Are you working to gain buy-in to a change? Knowing why you have each item on the agenda will go a long way to keeping the call on track.

Invite only necessary players

When you’re considering flying people in for a meeting,  you take a lot of thought to the time out of the field and the expense involved. Don’t let “It’s just a conference call” suck you into a trap of over-inclusion. That kind of thinking compounds quickly.

Segmentize discussion

Use a narrowing agenda. Arrange the more general topics up front and then let people drop off as the topics become more specific. Explain what you’re doing and why in advance, so you don’t get people riled up about secret meetings. Be sure that it’s not always the same people invited to drop first.

End standing calls early and often

I get nervous about weekly check-in calls, mostly because discussion expands to fill the time, when a briefer discussion could do. If a regularly scheduled call is important for your team or project, craft the agenda and estimate the time you think you will need. State that intention up front. “If we keep to our agenda, I think today’s call should only last about 37 minutes. Let’s be as productive as possible so we can all have some time back.”

Done well, conference calls can be an effective and efficient way to get the results you need. A little extra planning can save hours of lost time and productivity.

Are you looking to help your team streamline efforts and produce better results, please call me at 443-750-1249 for a free consultation.

5 Ways To Make Your Meetings More Productive

I texted my colleague: “do you think we both need to attend the 3pm meeting?” He quickly shot back: “Karin, I don’t think anyone needs to go to that meeting. Don’t worry, I’ll represent both of us.”

And there we were two executives, not speaking up in the spirit of being politically correct, and covering for one another to minimize the pain. After all, we had real work to do.

Sometimes, apparently, I’m also the instigator of such meetings. I attended a meeting the other day and every person in the room was on their iPad working except the speaker and I. I stopped the meeting and questioned what appeared to be very rude behavior.

As I soon uncovered, the rest of the participants had held a dry run of the meeting the day before I arrived in town. Since I was the boss they wanted to practice. This entire meeting had turned into a read-out for me. Those meetings should have been consolidated, or the second meeting should have been cancelled: “Karin, we’ve got this.” Or at least become a one-on-one.

They did have this and didn’t need me. Pre-meetings are often a sign of wasted time. Invest in knowing how much your team is preparing to meet with you. Even if you think you’re low maintenance.

Despite my best efforts to change-up the meetings under my influence, I sometimes succumb, keep my mouth shut, and attend my fair share of time-wasters. That’s why when I received this note from a subscriber, I promised to write a blog response and schedule it up next.

I’ll offer my best thinking and hand it over to the LGL village for additional suggestions:

“I just read your recent post, 5 Ways You’re Sabotaging Teamwork, and was personally touched when you started talking about misuse of staff meetings. It seems all I do is have read-out staff meetings and my staff hates them. But, I like it because the team is together as a whole and they learn what each other is working on and it does stimulate great conversation. However, they still hate them and, honestly, I hate them too. I would love to hear your perspective on how to have high-energy staff meetings. What are my alternatives? What can I do to achieve my goal of getting my 12 member team together weekly but not be a boring mess?

Make Your Meetings More Productive

  1. Cancel The Meeting & Create White Space – Pick one afternoon a week or a month that no one can talk to each other. Or take a regularly scheduled meeting, and just cancel it. See what happens over time. See how work gets done. See Jason Fried’s TED Talk: Why Work Doesn’t Happen at Work.
  2. Make Each Meeting Unique – Even if you hold a regular weekly meeting, have a clearly defined purpose for each meeting that you articulate in advance. For example, by the end of this meeting we will:
    • identify the most important pages for our website
    • review our declining customer service trends and brainstorm 3 key actions to take this month
    • identify the theme and breakouts for our next symposium

    If your answer is read-out on results and progress on action plans cancel the meeting, and find another way.

  3. Ins-and-outs – Decide who needs to be there for which part of the meeting and then design the agenda accordingly. My weekly staff meetings always have a narrowing effect. We started with the larger group and narrowed as the topics move along. I make it clear that this is not to exclude, but a time-saving exercise.
  4. Stand-up Or Walk Among Yourselves – I’ll admit, when results go down, I intervene more. I’m a big believer in the stand-up huddle. Almost like a time-out check in for the day (or week). I think a big problem with meetings as we see them as sit on your butt occasions. Some of the best meetings start with “got a sec?” Try to emulate that feeling as much as possible. As Nilofer Merchant shares in her TED Talk: Fresh Air Drives Fresh Thinking.
  5. Make them think – I love the idea of Idea Tickets from Michael Michalko: “In advance of a meeting, frame a problem or issue to address. Ask each person to bring, at least, one new idea or suggestion about the problem as their ticket of admission to the meeting. Have the people write their ideas on index cards and collect them at the door. No one gets in without a ticket. Start the meeting by reading everyone’s contribution.”

PS: Tune in on Monday and we’ll talk about the most challenging kind of meetings: skip level meetings.

How to Break the 80 20 Rule

According to the 80 20 Rule, 20% of your team is carrying 80% of the load. If that’s the case, 80% could do substantially more. Have you come to accept the Pareto Principle as a given?

Of course, your performance management structure counts these slackers to make for a nice bell curve. So maybe it’s easier to just let it go. If the 80 20 rule is true, you could be leading better. You should be leading better.
 Buck Pareto.
Break the 80 20 Rule.
Engage the rest of the team.
Smoke your results.

Debate with HR on performance distribution on the back-end.

5 Ways to Beat the 80 20 Odds

1. Dig deep into the top 20%

  • Understand the source of their commitment
  • Recruit your rock stars to inspire the rest of the team

2. Create a Passionate Rally Cry

  • Connect everyone to the vision
  • Put everyone in the game
  • Do the math, determine what you need EVERY person to do.
  • Communicate what you need from every member of the team.

3. Understand What Works

  •  Observe best practices
  •  Look for specific nuances
  •  Share stories
  • Model and Celebrate behaviors

4. Spend Time With the Outliers

  • Identify the skeptics
  • Understand their fears
  • Observe their behaviors
  • Celebrate turnarounds
  • Turn skeptics into teachers

5. Develop Skills and Confidence

Stop Waiting Time

What are you waiting for? Is your waiting a waste? 

When Waiting is a Waste

As a road warrior, I spend lots of time sitting in airports, my 2 computers plugged into the wall, on the phone, with 3 leadership books at the ready. As I look around there are always people taking a different approach half asleep, watching movies on their phones, playing computer games, or just staring ahead with a glazed look. I always wonder about what else they could be doing to advance their cause.

The Waiting Place for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or a No or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.
~Dr. Seuss, Oh The Places You’ll Go

Waisted waiting doesn’t just happen in airports.

Sure life gives us waiting. We have the little “waits” and the big ones. Sometimes we get stuck and have to pause, or postpone our goals to support others in our life. Life works that way.

You may be waiting for…

  • your husband to come home
  • kids to start school
  • kids to finish school
  • lab results
  • a move
  • your wife’s job change
  • the debt to be paid down
  • ?

 Is your waiting an excuse to stop or not start?

Can You Wait Better?

How can you be more productive in the downtime? What can you do while your real (or figurative) baby takes a nap?

  • Get clear on what you really want.
  • Use your down-time to clarify your goals
  • Make a list of task to do during little “wait?”
  • Read a book
  • Hone your skills
  • Stop wasting time
  • Learn something new
  • Volunteer
  • Practice reflection

The Secret To Increased Productivity: 3 Steps to Improved Performance

Do you hope for increased productivity? The solution may be closer than you think.

A guest post from Karin Rigas, Greve, Denmark

Karin Moeller Rigas has worked as a Sales Manager, Executive Coach, and Management Consultant within Retail Banking for more than 25 years. Founder of www.emodigy.com, an e-learning site for managers, she is the author of the book, You are special – Strong foundations make great employees.

Looking for increased productivity? Don’t look for yet another tool to implement in the organization. Instead, look seriously within yourself as a manager and leader.

Scientific studies indicate…

  • Most frustrations during the day are caused by managers
  • Frustration leads to lower productivity
  • Recognition from the manager is by far the largest trigger for increased performance
  • People want to be successful and know when they are successful
  • Highly skilled leaders create high performing teams

Why not use yourself as the tool to increase performance and productivity?

There are 3 important elements to increasing productivity: establishing key values, structuring your interaction with employees, and continuously improving your own performance.

Establish Your Key Values

It starts by leaning on simple values.

Below are the values that guide my leadership, what would you add?

  • People want to do their best.
  • People want to be involved in designing their own future.
  • People’s strengths compensate for their focus areas (when they are in the right job)
  • Great storytelling is key to emotional engagement
  • Balancing “setting direction” and “developing people” in a clever way leads to success in leadership
  • A person’s best performance is built upon solutions they chose
  • People want to learn more– everyone learns differently.
  • Leaders must be multi-dimensional to be able to support the employees’ development.
  • Receiving and giving feedback with an open mind, creates trust in the relationship and is a pre-requisite for a great learning curve.
  • Leaders must be close to their people in everyday leadership.
  • Recognition and appreciation in everyday working life is the largest driver for great performances and good health.
  • ???

Structure your interactions

Be close to people in everyday management and leadership through regular and scheduled meetings like monthly meetings. Vary meeting style to include co-hosted meetings, success-sharing meetings and performance management meetings. The core tool for these conversations is coaching and feedback. These interactions are a great way to role-model and reinforce your key values.

Improve your own performance and productivity

Get coaching and feedback yourself. Let other people see you in action and let them help you with feedback and coaching. There is nothing more effective than on-the-job training– go ”all in.” The more you are willing to get feedback (from all directions), listen to it, and change, the larger a step you will take in your own personal development. The more you improve, the larger impact you will make on people activities and results.

Get More Done in Less Time: Learning From Crises

When are you most productive? If you are like most people I know the answer is easy, when you really need to be. Most of us have great examples of crises and other urgent situations, where folks pull together and get more done.

And yet, at other times, lots of stuff seems to get in the way. And we look at each other with the common question, “how can I get more done?”

We Use The Time We Have

 

It’s human nature. When we have time,, we use it.

Most projects take at least the time allotted. Most conference calls finish just-in-time. When is the last time you saw a BAU project expedited–because it was possible?

We know this as Parkinson’s law, work expands to fill the time allotted. Nothing is expedited when things are moving along as planned, because it doesn’t need to be.

What Can We Learn from a Crises?

One the other hand, in a time of crises, the time allotted is zero, so everything is expedited. There is something urgent that must be fixed. Suddenly, the normal protocols disappear and work happens fast.

There’s a lot to be learned about execution from a crises. At times of natural disasters, blackouts, and other unthinkable crises, teams pull together and execute in ways they never thought possible. Creative solutions emerge from seemingly nowhere, “impossible” deadlines are exceeded, and competitors collaborate for the greater good, Organizations and teams execute with an efficiency they never thought possible.

Why? What good can we learn from these undesired times?

Here’s a list of what I’ve seen first hand over the years, and observed and followed in other people’s fantastic stories of execution in a time of crises.

How They Get More Done

  • Everyone becomes energized around a common mission
  • Decisions normally made by committee, are made on the fly
  • People work extraordinary hours, and feel enlivened by their contribution
  • IT and other complex projects that normally require substantial planning are expedited and done in Herculean time frames
  • Communication becomes paramount: people talk frequently
  • Decision makers roll-up their sleeves to help, and the experts rise to positions of power
  • Standard protocols soften, and people support one another
  • Companies collaborate for the greater good
  • No one touches Powerpoint until the post-mortem
  • …???

Of course, we can’t live on an adrenaline rush all the time. And, fast decisions can also have downsides. On the other hand