Blog list ...

Workspace and productivity

How does the physical work environment affect employees?

The environment around us has a major impact on our happiness and is an important factor as we consider how to motivate staff to increase productivity. For example, a fascinating study recorded by Science Direct revealed how children perform around 16% better when the environment suits learning. The three key components appear to be:

  1. Naturalness: light, sound, temperature, air quality and links to nature. 
  2. Individualisation: ownership, flexibility and connection.
  3. Stimulation (appropriate level of): complexity and colour.
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Why is stage presence important?

  ‘The only limit to your impact is your imagination and your commitment.' 

Tony Robbins

It is pretty simple to understand, but challenging to apply: to maximise your personal impact at work, you need to devise ways to maximise your stage presence.

In the business world, of course we do not think about 'stage presence' very much. There is too much to be getting on with, meetings, presentations, projects, client visits, reports, work winning, staff management, budgeting, the list is endless. Why on earth should we think in terms of the actor's world of stage presence?

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How to delegate as a leader...

"Don't be a bottleneck. If a matter is not a decision for the President or you, delegate it."  -Donald Rumsfeld, former Secretary of Defense

How can we safely delegate decisions? Surely there is a massive risk if we ‘let go’ close our eyes and just see what happens? Isn’t it safe to stick to task delegation?

 It is easy to delegate tasks. All you need is an instruction sheet. The more complex the task, the longer the sheet.

 It is much tougher to delegate decisions.

 A great manager gets their people making decisions. Not only that but making great decisions. When we can do that, we have made the holy grail of management. We can duplicate our own skills in others leaving us free to move onto greater things. The main reason for lack of promotion is commonly described as “can’t do without”. It’s no good being needed, if we are needed, we can’t move on. Delegating tasks keeps us needed. Delegating decisions gives us freedom.

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Getting the best from millennials

Successful organisations win and retain key talent. Age is not a barrier to success; however, it may be a barrier to gaining and retaining the key talent from the next generation of movers and shakers.

Many organisations have already developed their culture and employment practices to gain and retain the best on offer. For example, many working parents now gain value from employer led initiatives in ways which go far beyond the statutory minimum requirements of the law. The benefits of this accrue to both employer and employee. In the same way, organisations should look at their culture and employment practices to ensure they gain & retain millennials. Organisations need people who are ambitious, educated and technologically “savvy”. So what are some of the challenges we face in getting the best from millennials?

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Fun at work matters!

Psychology Today records laughter as the most contagious of human emotions . If you really want to influence others, bring laughter, that will do the trick.

I have a personal dream that a manager’s objectives appraised in the PDR include how much laughter he or she was able to generate. I can think of a few managers I have worked for (and no doubt you have worked for too) who would quickly be out of a job.

We have a major challenge with humour at work in that a lot of workplace humour is based on what we might call ‘banter’. This is the language of the race, the traditional jokes and teases that go with the territory of the job. The problem we have is that the territory has rapidly changed, and traditional banter can be seen as divisive whereas before it was seen as the glue that held the team together. Banter traditionally gave a sense of identity, of ‘us and them’. In today’s open and more tolerant society, that approach doesn’t work. Banter needs to be inclusive without being offensive.

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Effective meeting strategies

Plato had a point when he said “Wise men speak because they have something to say. Fools speak because they have to say something”. He must have been to some of the meetings I have attended!

I once conducted some research which showed that managers spent on average 2 days a week in meetings. That in itself is alarming, but the more alarming point is that most managers felt that the majority of these meetings significantly wasted their time.

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Stress management in the workplace

 The BMJ (British Medical Journal) document  ‘Occupational and Environmental Medicine”  indicates that stress arises from situations “that are unpredictable or uncontrollable, uncertain, ambiguous or unfamiliar, or involving conflict, loss or performance expectation”.  

We have certainly all had that feeling at one time or another, the sense of loss of control, things running away from us. What can we do about it?

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How to establish good team climate...

We know we can’t control the emotional state of others but we can definitely influence them by creating the right thinking environment and developing our own leadership behaviours in support.  We have already looked at how, as leaders, we can create generative thinking by designing the best climate for thinking in the team. But leading a great team event is a particularly strong challenge. Leaders also need to look at themselves and consider whether they behave in the best possible way to create a positive climate in the team. 

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Key elements to successful team events

A friend of mine once told me that “people only change behaviour when they win” and I do believe there is truth in that.  It is so easy to give up trying something new if at first you don’t succeed.  Neuroscience tells us that it take 10,000 practices to form a new habit, allowing the old habit to slowly die.  So how can positive change work in groups where each person has to believe they can win before committing to change? Each person will have their own fears and insecurities and will potentially avoid changing the way they do things, so galvanising a group becomes more difficult. The leader’s role and their role modelling are pivotal to changing a group’s thinking and attitude.

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