Less Is More Blog Productivity Tips

Join us at the Webinars2017-colored-calendar-with-blue-background-vector.jpg

View our Webinars Schedule.

The Perfect 15-Minute Day Method is here!

Promotiona_Video_Thumbnail_Rev2.jpg

Order the book, eBook, journal, or eCourse to get started right away and inject a healthy dose of accomplishments and happiness in your workday and beyond!

Learn more!

Get Our Free eBook

The Results Curve: How to Manage Focused and Collaborative Time

Less-Is-More Blog by Pierre Khawand

More Rules or More Freedom for Greater Employee Productivity?

Posted by Melissa Sweat on Mon, Apr 04, 2016 @ 09:57 AM

Heard about our summary+commentary (s+c*d) format? Learn more!

Summary

bigstock-Productivity-Doodles-25491734.jpgIn his recent post, “What really hurts productivity?,” on his Recognize This! blog, Derek Irvine makes a compelling case for how too many rules can lead to a decrease in employee productivity. His argument is geared toward employee recognition programs, which he says can have an inadvertently negative effect on productivity and engagement—particularly for programs that focus on creating strict eligibility criteria.

“It is not a stretch to assume that many employees—particularly those already showing up on time—would perceive these criteria as unnecessary rules placed on how and when work is accomplished,” he writes. “These employees most likely value their autonomy at work, and consequently, will be more reactive toward any perceived restriction in freedom.” So these types of program, in Derek’s view, can essentially backfire.

Commentary

While we agree that more freedom can be a positive, in our findings and work with organizations for over a decade, we’ve found that many employees struggle managing day-to-day tasks without stress and lower productivity. Combining structure and freedom for focused work, collaboration, and play can lead to much greater productivity overall. This is particularly so with structuring one’s workday, taking breaks, not requiring instant email responses, and using alternative tools like webinars and cloud-based documents, instead of just email.

Discussion

What do you think about the balance between freedom and structure at work when it comes to employee productivity? Do organizations need a combination of both? Do you yourself find that you’re more productive with either more or less structure? What about your department or team? Please share your thoughts below.

Sign up for our Productivity Webathon on  April 12, 2016! Just $12.95 for a full day of webinar-based training! Find out more.

Topics: human resources, summary-plus-commentary, time management tips, productivity, leadership

Play in the Workplace? Three Radical Reasons For More Play at Work

Posted by Melissa Sweat on Mon, May 25, 2015 @ 01:25 PM

If having lots of levity and play in the workplace points to signs of happiness and longevity and work, look no further than the tenures of the longest running late-night show hosts as a guide.

  • Jon Stewart: 17 total years
  • Jay Leno: 21 total years
  • Conan O’Brien: 21 total years
  • Johnny Carson: 30 total years
  • Dave Letterman: 33 total years!

Source: Vocativ.com

Dave_Letterman_late-night_career_Michelle_Obama

Now, we all know that hosting a late-night comedy and entertainment show is not exactly the nine-to-five—but isn’t that the point? Don’t most of us office and knowledge workers come home feeling burnt out and wanting more from our day? And for managers, aren't your teams and employees lacking a certain cohesion and spark?

The data tells us the average worker is just plain burnt out.

And senior management is not immune. A May 2014 New York Times article, “Why You Hate Work," cited a recent survey of 72 senior leaders by Srinivasan S. Pillay, a Harvard Medical School psychiatrist and professor studying burnout. The survey reports that nearly all of the senior leaders polled are experiencing some form of burnout at work.

It’s a growing problem in the modern workplace spurring studies and headlines everywhere from major international publications to niche industry blogs—like this one from the HR-focused TLNT: “Will 2015 Be the Year of Worrying About Employee Burnout?"

Clearly, we should be worried. The overall wellness and productivity of our employees and organizations are at stake. So, what to do about it?

"Unleashing the Power of Play" with
Emmy award winner Gwen Gordon
June 4, 2015, 12-12:40pm PT
Sign up for the FREE webinar! Fortunately, there are many forward-thinking experts leading the movement for more play and joy in the workplace, helping to illuminate the many benefits of a work-play balance.

Here are three reasons why we need more play at work—now, more than ever:

Reason #1:  Happiness inspires productivity.

Shawn Achor, CEO of GoodThink Inc. and bestselling author of Before Happiness and The Happiness Advantage, doesn’t want you to be average. In his research in the field of positive psychology, Achor focuses on the outliers: those who exhibit exemplary levels of happiness, productivity, and success, and what we can learn from them.

We need to raise this average up in our workplaces and escape “the cult of the average,” Achors states in his 2011 TEDxBloomington talk, “The Happy Secret to Better Work." We can do this by reversing the formula for happiness and success from, If I work hard and gain success, I’ll be happy to the much-more sustaining, If I’m happy, I’ll be more productive and successful.

Reason #2:  Play is essential to our well-being.

Gwen Gordon knows a lot about play. The Emmy-winning writer and creative director began her career in a world of play on none other than Sesame Street, building muppets for the landmark show. She then went on to bring her insights to the business world at an Apple research group at MIT Media Lab, and later at Xerox PARC, IDEO, and PepsiCo.

In a 2013 Huffington Post article, Gordon writes about the need for “restoring the playground,” our well-being, and bringing us adults back to our naturally playful natures.

“The playground is our true habitat,” she writes. “Within it we become truly human, without it we perish... Perhaps the most important project of our time is to restore our own habitat, to wake up to our deep need for the unbridled joy, freedom, and fullness of play... and take it seriously.”

Gordon is currently producing a PBS special about the need for play in our modern lives and workplaces called Now Playing. Watch the trailer below.



Join Gwen Gordon as she presents at our
free webinar, "Unleasing the Power of Play"
June 4, 2015, 12-12:40pm PT

Click now to register!

Reason #3:  Play makes us more creative.

In his talk at the 2008 Serious Play Conference, CEO of powerhouse design firm IDEO, Tim Brown, shared some revealing truths about adults and play. We’re embarrassed about sharing our ideas to our peers as adults, he says—we’re reluctant, in a sense, to go out on a creative or playful limb.

But exploring in this way actually leads to greater quantities of idea generation and much better ideas. Openness leads to play, and play leads to creativity and innovation.

“Playful exploration, playful building, and role play. Those are some of the ways that designers use play in their work,” says Brown.

But play is not anarchy, he cautions. Play has rules that help lead to productive and constructive play. In the adult work, he asserts, we need to learn that we can do and be both. We can transition from play to work, divergence to convergence, and achieve markedly successful outcomes.

Play in the workplace clearly has some huge potential to achieve practical, real-world results—and dramatically transform the success of our organizations at large. Are you game?

What are your thoughts about bringing more play into the workplace? Do you think play will help improve your work performance, teams, or employee engagement? Share your comments below.

Learn more about the free webinar, "Unleasing the Power of Play," taking place June 4, 2015, 12pm PT.

Topics: wellness, human resources, business results, productivity, collaboration, managing stress

5 Ways to Manage Conflict at Work You Can Use Right Now

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Tue, May 20, 2014 @ 03:22 PM

Lorraine Segalby Lorraine Segal

Many of us shudder with fear or dread when we hear the word “conflict.” We would do anything to avoid it, sidestep it, ignore it, or somehow fix disagreements without actually dealing with them.

Unfortunately, conflict is an inevitable part of human interactions, at home or at work and it won’t go away just because we, understandably, would prefer not to deal with it.

Sign up for our free webinar with Lorraine Segal, June 5, 2014 at noon PT, "Effective Strategies to Manage Conflict at Work."

Tips for managing conflict at work

The good news

When we accept the reality of conflict, it is absolutely possible to learn techniques and ways of thinking that help us manage and even resolve conflict with co-workers, bosses, or employees. It can take practice, support, repetition and willingness to integrate and use these approaches well, but my clients, and I vouch for their effectiveness.

Here are a few effective strategies and mindsets to get you started:

    1. Accept that conflict happens.

    Conflicts will arise. You don’t need to blame yourself or another for a disagreement. This helps you keep an open mind to focus on solutions.

        2. Manage your own emotions and responses.

          Are they saying or doing something that sends you through the roof? Chances are the intensity of your reaction has to do with past experiences, not just the current problem. Becoming aware of what is getting triggered, and then separating the past from the present situation, will help you stay calm and present.

            3. Make the first move.                                                              

            Be willing to make the first move toward resolution, even if you think it is their fault and they should be the first to act. Do it anyway, and you will get the benefit.

                4.   Be willing to listen.                                         

                  Each of us has our own way of framing and describing our experience. When we recognize that they have a different story about what happened, and become willing to listen to and understand their perspective, we can see more clearly how we got embroiled and how we might resolve the conflict.

                    5.   Take responsibility for your part.

                    Did you make a mistake that affected someone else, lose your temper, or hurt someone’s feelings? This is human and inevitable, as well. If you can acknowledge your part, instead of reacting defensively, it can defuse conflict. This does not mean taking all the responsibility, but sincerely recognizing what you did wrong.

                      The rewards of mastering conflict skills

                      It takes a lot of practice and willingness to become aware of your assumptions about the other person, and to change your behaviors and ways of thinking about conflict. But making these changes will reap rich rewards—including peace of mind, more energy for your work and your life, and better interactions with those around you.

                      Get good enough at it, and you may be seen as the “go-to” person for helping others with their disagreements, which is an excellent leadership ability. Individual communication/conflict management coaching or classes can offer support, rehearsal, and guidance for strengthening these crucial skills.

                      Click now to sign up for our complimentary webinar on 6/5/14 with Lorraine Segal, "Effective Strategies to Manage Conflict at Work."

                      Lorraine Segal (M.A. TESOL) was a tenured community college professor for many years before she found her true passion for helping people communicate better, resolve conflicts, let go of resentments, and forgive themselves and others.

                      Now, she is a communication and forgiveness specialist, a certified conflict management coach, a mediator, and a teacher. She has her own Sonoma County-based business, Conflict Remedy, offering individual and group coaching. She also teaches communication and forgiveness skills at Sonoma State University and St. Joseph’s Health Life Learning Center. For more information about Lorraine and her work, visit her website: www.ConflictRemedy.com.

                      Topics: human resources, Lunch & Learn Webinars, management, collaboration, team work, leadership

                      What Matters Most to Employees: 6 Authors Explore Employee Engagement

                      Posted by Pierre Khawand on Thu, Feb 27, 2014 @ 06:17 PM

                      describe the imageEmployee engagement worldwide is at a low, as so reported a widely publicized Gallup study last fall indicating that only 13 percent of employees are engaged at work. 

                      Part of the dilemma in understanding the complex, human capital issue of employee engagement is really starting with a definition. What does it mean for employees to be engaged?

                      Christine Mellon, VP of Human Capital Management Transformation at Oracle will present on this topic at People-OnTheGo’s free webinar, March 6, 2014: “The Employee Engagement Trap: How HR should approach the ‘Employee Experience.’”

                      Click to register for the free webinar.

                      In this 40-minute presentation, Mellon will discuss the difference between employee engagement and the “employee experience,” and will offer valuable insight into strengthening the employee-employer relationship.

                      Indeed, finding out what matters most to employees means going beyond the standard understanding of employee engagement. Here are six authors below who are also challenging what it means for employees to be engaged, and their thoughts on the issue:

                      Going beyond satisfaction.

                      “Engaged doesn’t mean satisfied… You can be satisfied at work, but that might mean you are satisfied only enough to do the bare minimum to get by. You might be satisfied but still taking calls from recruiters offering a 5% bump in pay. Satisfied isn’t enough.”

                      - Kevin Kruse, Employee Engagement for Everyone: 4 Keys to Happiness and Fulfillment at Work

                      Contributing to something bigger.

                      “All employees have an innate desire to contribute to something bigger than themselves.”

                      - Jag Randhawa, The Bright Idea Box: A Proven System to Drive Employee Engagement and Innovation  

                      Respect and engagement go hand in hand.

                      “I realized that the concept of respect perfectly explained how in the span of two months I had gone from an enthusiastic new hire to handing in my resignation… It was clear to me that respect was the lynchpin of employee engagement.”

                      - Paul L. Marciano, Carrots and Sticks Don't Work: Build a Culture of Employee Engagement with the Principles of RESPECT

                      More than just perks.

                      “The organization may lavish you with perks, but those perks don’t hold the key to engagement. Feeding the pleasure center of the brain through extrinsic rewards doesn’t engage a person and build real, lasting fulfillment.”

                      - Timothy R. Clark, The Employee Engagement Mindset: The Six Drivers for Tapping into the Hidden Potential of Everyone in Your Company

                      A feeling of commitment.

                      “Employee engagement is characterized as a feeling of commitment, passion, and energy that translates into high levels of persistence with even the most difficult tasks, exceeding expectations and taking the initiative.”

                      - Linda Holbeche & Geoffrey Matthews, Engaged: Unleashing Your Organization's Potential Through Employee Engagement Hardcover

                      A company culture based on authentic values.

                      “There was a time when every employee from the top to the bottom of an organization needed to be able to deliver the company’s “elevator blurb”… Today, your employees should also be able to enthusiastically describe your company’s values and culture during that same elevator ride.”

                      - Bob Kelleher, Louder Than Words: Ten Practical Employee Engagement Steps That Drive Results Hardcover

                      Additional Resources & Webinars

                      Topics: human resources, management, team work, leadership

                      Workplace Personality Traits (and Challenges) of a "Champ," and Why You Need One On Your Team

                      Posted by Pierre Khawand on Tue, Oct 22, 2013 @ 11:57 AM

                      TrophySoftware Advice recently published their research on four successful personalities in the workplace, “Psychological Profiles of the Dream Team.”

                      The profile of The Champ (and the Chip) provides an analysis of a Champ’s characteristics, motivations, strengths, and challenges.

                      The Champ

                      The Champ is the ideal, high-performing salesperson. Champs are full of energy, positivity, and confidence. These attributes, along with a gift for conversation and a healthy ego, help make them good at what they do. Their confidence makes them good salespeople and, sometimes, good leaders.

                      The Chip

                      What some refer to as a “chip on the shoulder” is a defining characteristic of the Champ. Whether the Chip comes from a lack of education, scarce economic resources or the Champ’s physical appearance, it often serves as a motivating factor, driving them towards success.

                      Strengths of the Champ

                      Some of the distinguishing traits that make Champs great include:

                      • Optimism. Champs have an innate belief that they will succeed. This helps them push on positively with their sales calls, even in the face of rejection.

                      • People skills. Champs have a natural ability to read people. They are great conversationalists and love human interaction.

                      • Confidence. Champs are confident (but not cocky). They believe in themselves and their team.

                      Challenges

                      Some of the unique challenges for Champs include:

                      • Arrogance. That confidence that serves the Champ so well in sales and leadership can manifest as arrogance in an immature Champ who has let his ego grow unchecked.

                      • Conflict. If that little Chip on the Champ’s shoulder becomes really big, it can turn to cockiness, resulting in conflicts with authority and management.

                      • Turnover. Champs have a higher turnover rate than some other personality types, because they absolutely must be on a winning team. They will look elsewhere if their current team isn’t successful enough.

                      The Champ is a valuable team member who makes an excellent candidate for a career in sales, c-level executive roles or politics.

                      To learn about famous Champs and how to identify, hire and manage a Champ, read the in-depth profile on The New Talent Times.

                      Additional Resources & Webinars

                      Topics: human resources, management, team work, leadership

                      Subscribe by Email

                      Need an employee training solution that's flexible and affordable?  Find out about our webinars & onsite training programs.

                      Write Your Comments

                      We want to hear from you! Please write your comments in the blog and let us know what you think.

                      Connect with us!