Quick tip: Delegate Tasks You Struggle With

Write down your top five weaknesses and assess which staff members are stronger than you in each area. Congratulations! You’ve just created a master delegation list. By assigning these tasks to employees who will perform as well or better than you, you’ll free key time for yourself to focus on your strengths.

Caution: Don’t delegate just the unpleasant tasks. Employees will feel “dumped on” if you give them only what’s mundane, insignificant or simply not fun.

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Create a Sense of Urgency

When you can’t afford to miss an opportunity or need to avoid a big mistake, create a sense of urgency to prompt your employees and coworkers to act now. Follow these tips:

  • Explain why the time to act is now. Every decision can’t be urgent or else none will seem so. However, when time is of the essence, offer reasons why. Perhaps you have an opportunity today that you won’t have in a couple of weeks or you have to act immediately to avoid a costly problem.
  • Share the benefits of acting now. What will the organization—and its employees—receive as a result of moving forward with a plan? You have to spell out what’s in it for your team if you expect people to jump on board and execute a plan quickly.
  • Describe what’s at stake if you don’t act now. Telling people how they will be worse off is often more powerful than telling them how their lives will improve. Don’t exaggerate or be overdramatic, but honestly point out what the business—and they—could lose if they fail to act.

— Adapted from “Three Ways to Create a Sense of Urgency When You Communicate,” http://careynieuwhof.com.

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4 Ways To Raise Productivity

Offer new work/life benefits and policies that allow employees to balance both worlds and you will boost innovation, creativity, loyalty, efficiency, culture and morale. Consider these helpful solutions:

  1. Family-care programs. Implement stress-reducing programs and services that help employees handle family obligations. Many employees are responsible for managing households and caring for children, elderly parents or pets, among other personal obligations. Provide services such as on-site daycare, support groups and referrals, and plenty of personal time off to manage those matters to build loyalty.
  2. Forced fun. Boost mental fatigue and team spirit with breaks and celebrations that encourage employees to connect on a social level and blow off some steam. Birthday celebrations, team lunches, games, snack or beverage carts, and field trips are great ways to bring your team together for some downtime.
  3. Flexible work options. According to recent Gallup research, employees who work remotely even part of the time are more engaged and more productive. When possible offer flexible scheduling or telecommuting. Encourage breaks during which employees can handle personal business.
  4. Staff recognition. Show your appreciation by recognizing employees’ hard work. Publicly praise people who exceed expectations, create a reward system to honor achievements and consistently say “Thank you” to your staffers.

— Adapted from “Four Unconventional Ways to Increase Employee Productivity,” Nicole Fallon, http://smallbusiness.foxbusiness.com.

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Six Business Lessons I Learned From My Father

This is a guest post by J.D. “Jamey” Power IV, former senior executive at J.D. Power and Associates.

When my father, Dave Power, founded J.D. Power and Associates in 1968, he was already in his late thirties with enough education and work experience under his belt to provide a solid understanding of business. But he also had a lifelong interest in understanding people’s motivations—what made them tick—that I think allowed him to not only excel in the field of market research but also effectively lead the more than seven hundred people that made up his organization.

Like many in family businesses, my mother, siblings, and I were closely connected to the triumphs and travails of the business, even from a young age. As such, around the kitchen table or when we visited him at the office, Dad imparted valuable lessons about running a business. Just as his parents had instilled core values in him as he was growing up, my father let me and my siblings know that the values he had built and operated his business under—integrity, independence, and impact—were ones that we should carry in whatever we pursued in life.

Later, as I worked at J.D. Power, I had a chance to observe the qualities and characteristics that my father brought to his interactions with employees and clients as well as the way he integrated his values into business strategies. In participating in a book about my father’s career, I was able to clarify some of the most valuable lessons I learned from him—ones that I think others would appreciate also.

1. Create a culture: My dad built a business with a sense of purpose. For him it was genuinely about doing more than making money; it was about doing what was right and making a difference. He calls it having impact. Employees loved the idea and implicitly knew what the mission was. Today he remains most proud of the organization he created and the impact he and his associates had together on business and how businesses respond to customers.

2. Manage by walking around: His was not just an open door policy but one in which he made a point to walk the hallways to be accessible. He would use this time to check on things, to make people feel important, to get into impromptu discussions, to provide feedback, to encourage, and to seek out information. He also found it to be an effective way to communicate directly with employees, giving them feedback on the business and insights into what clients were experiencing.

3. Set expectations and challenge people: Often for my father the goals he set out were not target numbers but rather visions and concepts that he wanted to see realized. He’d put an idea out there and ask people to develop it and execute against his estimation of how far that idea could go. One example was the Power Information Network, a subscription database auto dealers could use to access real-time sales information. It took years to develop but because he continued to challenge employees to pursue it, it eventually met with success. Years after my father first initiated the idea, we happened to be sitting next to some mid-level auto executives at an industry event. Without knowing who we were, they started telling us how excited they were about the PIN information. They were showing us how they had access to the data on their iPads and described how they would use it to monitor the sales and incentive situation daily. It has been gratifying for him to see that part of his vision played out—finally.

4. Maintain integrity with clients: My father had the fortitude to tell clients when their customers were not happy, or when they were missing quality. The fact that he was known as a respectful straight shooter brought the business success and modeled an important value to employees. Today, in retirement, he looks back on his career without regret and enjoys a reputation of integrity and respect—even among the people who didn’t particularly like to hear what he had to say at the time.

5. Share the limelight with associates: Dad consistently made sure that associates who contributed were given exposure—both internally and externally. Many times he would ask junior staffers to go to client meetings, or even make them part of the presentations. He took the same gracious approach to responding to media requests. A lot of the employees loved the chance to see their names in the newspaper commenting on a situation. Generally he correctly judged when they were ready for this exposure, but only because he was always on the lookout for opportunities to share the stage.

6. Seek different perspectives and counter-intuitive solutions: My dad has a knack for discussing and examining an issue from different viewpoints. He would often ask people to provide differing opinions. He really shined when he himself would sometimes take an opposing view just to vet the issue further, or to try and find a solution that was not apparent or on the table. Probably part of this stems from his Jesuit college education—though we joke about it being his right-brain orientation. (He is extremely left-handed.)

Jamey Power is the former Executive Vice President of International Operations at J.D. Power and Associates. He is also the son of founder Dave Power, the subject of POWER: How J.D. Power III Became the Auto Industry’s Adviser, Confessor, and Eyewitness to History (2013: Fenwick Publishing Group), in bookstores now. Jamey co-authored Satisfaction: How Every Great Company Listens to the Voice of the Customer (2006: Portfolio). For more information, visit http://www.davepowerbook.com.

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Train Your Mind to Stay on Task

Improve your ability to focus on tasks and reduce stress, by practicing mediation. A study of human resource managers found those who had been trained to meditate:

  • Spent more time on tasks.
  • Switched tasks less often.
  • Completed their tasks as fast as multitaskers.
  • Reported less stress.

Another group that learned body relaxation techniques did not have any of those benefits. Researcher David Levy at the University of Washington said that meditation is like going to a gym and “strengthens your attention muscle.”

— Adapted from “Meditation Can Keep You More Focused at Work, Study Says,” Anita Bruzzese, USA Today, http://www.usatoday.com.

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Where’s Your Sanity? Five Simple Ways to Deal with Feeling Crazed

A guest post By Dr. Claudia Luiz.

Everybody is overwhelmed and nobody is afraid to talk about it. Historically speaking, we are more sophisticated than ever emotionally; we are highly aware of what we feel, and we can talk about it. If we don’t feel better, it’s only because our methods for dealing with what we feel are still so antiquated. It’s just the same-old, same-old: try to be better, get inspired to change. But it doesn’t’ work.

It is deeply American to work more and try harder. Unfortunately, strong and deep emotions do not respond to common sense. No matter how much we want to be calmer, more organized, get a grip, be patient, loving, healthy, happier, and at peace, these good intentions can fly right out the window in the face of emotions. Our favorite ideas for leading our best life disappoint us because they don’t penetrate our hearts. They simply don’t impact our emotions.

When it comes to dealing with deep inner emotions, there is a method you can use to change. It starts with five simple steps:

  1.  Look inward. You don’t have to get stranded in a no-man’s land of navel-gazing, replete with endless complaining that alienates everyone around you, if you look inward. Nor do you have to get trapped ruminating, over and over, on how bad you feel or how hard and tough life is. That only leads you down a dismal, depressing dead-end road. Looking inward means trusting that there’s something about yourself that you don’t know yet. You may believe that the reason you don’t exercise is because you’re too tired or lazy, or that you can’t make headway writing that book you’ve always wanted to write because you’re too extended and overworked. But chances are, there’s some other reason why you do not have the energy for change. So keep asking yourself “why?”
  2. Stick with it. Don’t just take a quick peek inside yourself, freak out, and leave. You have to hang out with your own thoughts for a while, in search of something you don’t yet know about yourself. And there’s a lot you don’t yet know about yourself, by the way. Harvard researchers are calling the unknown parts of your brain the “adaptive unconscious.” Simply put, there is just no way that you can know everything that’s going on in your own mind at any one time. If you’ve ever scratched your head and wondered why you can’t change, that’s why: you don’t know your whole story yet.
  3. Find someone to listen. A good sounding board keeps you moving forward, looking for the thoughts, ideas and feelings inside yourself that you don’t know yet. Some people find that they can use a yoga mat, open valley or solitary journey to open up to themselves in a new way. But better yet, find a real live person to talk to; someone who isn’t going to give you more advice and try to move you to a better place. Someone who won’t judge you, who can tolerate everything you feel, and who can ask you questions. Someone to hear you.
  4. Find strength in being heard. Thoughts and feelings that are hidden from our conscious day-to-day life are generally strange. One woman discovered, on her inward journey, the hidden idea that becoming an adequate person might lead to losing her family. Another man realized that his desire to become a more effective leader came from a desire to hurt people. (He had been hurt as a child.) Our hidden stories keep us from moving forward, and they stay hidden because they are so quirky, irrational, negative and strange. It takes strength to know things about ourselves that are so strange. The good news is that being heard (see #3 above) is very strengthening. So keep working on being heard, and deeply understood, and the rest should follow.
  5. Don’t bring your family into this. As much as your partner, you parents, and your best friend (who is like family) love you and want the best for you, they are probably the worst people to listen to your emotions. Because your pain is their pain. It’s much easier for someone to hear you who can be a little impartial. A clergyperson, a new best friend, or a therapist who knows how to ask really good questions. For this type of work, don’t rely on life coaches, behavioral therapists or insight-oriented therapists who will try to move you to a new place and/or otherwise try to create change in you. Remember: you want to get to know yourself, not force more change. This is not about more solving. It’s about evolving.

Inward journeys, where we connect to unseen parts of ourselves and seek to be heard rather than improved, are deeply rich and unforgettable. Those emotional “aha” moments, when we finally land on what has been holding us back from changing a small habit or realizing a large dream, change us naturally and eternally.

And here’s the best part: now you have a way to finally use all the most negative, painful ideas and emotions you’ve been having – even the ones you think have been holding you back the most; even the ones you like the least. Instead of pushing them away, start talking — they are your starting point. The point where you can finally take all that sophisticated awareness of what you feel, and all that ability to talk about it, and now push yourself to ask one little question: “Why?”

Dr. Claudia Sheftel-Luiz, Ed.M., Harvard University, Cert. Psya., PsyaD, BGSP, is the author of Where’s My Sanity? Stories that Help. Dr. Luiz has been in clinical practice and serving as a consultant to profit and non-profits for over 25 years. She is the former Director of Extension at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis and former Co-President of Professionals for Parents and Families. For more information, please visit, http://www.wheresmysanity.com and connect with Dr. Luiz on twitter, @cluiz.

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Great Online Resource for Remote Workers

According to the Office of National Statistics & Forbes – 2.8 million of the UK population now work from home regularly, alongside 1 in 5 Americans. This makes it’s one of the fastest growing workplace trends.

The team at London & Zurich have published an interactive guide on how office-workers can work productivity from home. It features 26 articles, videos & apps on how to make sure you still get things done.

Check it out! http://www.landz.co.uk/flexible-working/

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