How to Boost Team Productivity | BridgeBetween.com

Productivity is Catching: How to Boost Team Productivity

How modeling effective productivity skills can have a positive impact on your team members.

You know the old saying that kids do what you do, not what you say? Employees are by no means children, but there is a grain of truth to the concept, even for adults!

The single biggest barrier to productivity in the workplace is… drum roll, please: managers. Team members saddled with an ineffective, discouraging, uninspiring and unmotivating leadership will not be as productive. Of course, there are other factors in how productivity is missed, but poor leadership is top of the list.

When it comes to productivity, leaders who model the desired behavior, as well as encourage, inspire and motivate, will find the productivity of their team members goes through the roof.

First and foremost: Walk the walk

Engage in and model the behavior you expect your team to display. There is nothing a leader can do that is more compelling and motivating than applying the rules to themselves.

If you expect your team to be respectful of one another, be respectful to each of them. You expect them to communicate with one another? Do the same. You expect them to provide peer feedback that is constructive? You need to model that.

A leader who walks the walk, instead of just talking and then going in another direction, will be respected; this is of major importance to the high productivity of a team.

Understanding the difference between working long and real productivity

Productivity is not about the hours spent sitting in a chair, in a cubicle or at a workstation. An employee who arrives at 8 and leaves at 7 is not necessarily being productive with their time. Unfortunately, many lesser managers engage in and reward that behavior instead of praising the employee who gets their work done and done well.

Why? When asked, some managers feel that the one employee’s behavior sets an example to others about tenacity and working hard.

Note to this manager: it doesn’t.

What does set an example are leaders understanding what their team is accomplishing and what individual members are contributing. Rewarding effort, not time in the chair, makes all the difference.

Recognizing the value of training

Anyone who says they know it all is lying. Every level of an organization can benefit from training at some point or other, which enhances productivity. Being open to learning and change, at the highest levels, models behavior that a team will more readily adopt.

Supporting the value of training, as well as other needs the team might have, shows an openness and adaptability that can only enhance productivity across the board.

Feedback and recognition

As noted in the beginning of this post, productivity is affected most by ineffective, discouraging, uninspiring and unmotivating leadership.

Modelling the right behavior is an indirect way of encouraging team members. If paired with more direct methods, such as constructive positive feedback and recognition of effort, a leader is providing inspiration to each and every team member — motivation that can be returned to them in productivity and loyalty.

Whatever you are looking to achieve with your team, modeling the right behavior is the surest way to get what you want from them. Respect is a two-way street and employees who receive it will return it.

If you want to make changes to how you lead and work, take it 5 degrees at a time for substantive, long-term results. The 5 Degree Principle will help you to attain your goals, in work and in life, one step at a time.

The Spirit of Generosity in Leadership | BridgeBetween.com

The Spirit of Generosity in Leadership Is a Year Round Quality

‘Tis the season to be merry and with that comes a wave of generosity and kindness. Leaders need to take note, however, that generosity is a quality that they should share year round.

When we talk about generosity in leadership, we’re not referring to money. This isn’t about bonuses or increases. It’s about an enduring generosity of spirit, which infuses how a leader will affect their team members.

How can a leader display generosity? So many ways!

Being generous with time

A leader who will not share their time, a notably precious commodity, cannot possibly be effective. If every point of access is blocked and no one can score an ‘audience’, there’s no effective leadership going on. Yes, a leader will be busy but making time available for those that need it is a cornerstone of good leadership.

Being generous with knowledge and information

Many companies, through their leaders, breed a culture of competition. While knowledge IS power, knowledge shared can be even better. People will not improve their skills by competition and fear. They will get there through collaboration.

It’s vital for leaders to encourage information sharing among their staff. Success comes from the growing of one idea with the contributions of others, not by working in a silo. Sharing, teaching and supporting your team is how you can be generous with your knowledge.

Being generous with encouragement and empowerment

Encouraging team members to work together, empowering them to make decisions, creating a safe environment for collaboration and teamwork. These are all vital aspects of being an effective leader. It’s not about micromanaging tasks: it’s about getting team members to take initiative and contribute.

Communication suffers if team members are working to get attention instead of working for the good of the team. If co-workers are prone to blame one another, this can be traced back to generosity, or a lack of it.

Being generous also shows confidence

Being confident is another notable leadership quality and being generous is the natural result. If you’re confident in your abilities and leadership, you will be naturally generous. If you’re not, you’ll tend towards being competitive and disruptive. The two qualities go hand in hand. Generous actions show your team that you are confident in your skills.

Generosity is catching too. If others see you behaving in a generous way, they will model your attitude. As with all aspects of leadership, modeling the behavior you want to see from your team is ideal.

Generosity is essential to strong, effective leadership. Cultivate it in yourself, in your team and you’ll see your bottom line improving, however you measure it.

Do You Want Your Team to Love or Fear You? | BridgeBetween.com

Do You Want Your Team to Love or Fear You?

It’s possible to maintain control and be friendly with your team!

Do you want your team to love or fear you? There’s a school of thought that says that you can’t lead a team and be friendly with its members.

It’s the same thought that states that you can’t be friends with your kids. The power position makes it impossible, as one will always have power over the other, so true friendship is not in the cards.

There is SOME truth to the notion that you probably can’t be best friends with the members of your team. Still, there is no reason why you can’t be friendly. Being nice doesn’t undermine your effectiveness as a leader; if anything, it improves it!

So how can you do your job as a leader and still have your team members like you?

Watch your reactions

When something goes right, or when your team experiences success, everyone expects a positive reaction. When something goes wrong, it’s normal to not throw a party BUT how you react to a negative is vital.

If your team is cowering, afraid of your reaction to a failure, that’s a bad situation. You position yourself as being inflexible and unable to roll with the punches, which isn’t a trait most people look for in a leader. Realizing that most leaders have a lot of pressure on them to perform, negativity can take over without your even realizing it.

If instead, you maintain an ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ attitude that reflects the desire to find the good in a bad situation — or to, at the very least, take a positive step forward from a failure — your team will love you more than ever before. Embracing failure as a teachable moment and moving on, rather than laying blame and being negative, will put you on a high road.

Moreover, your team is likely to follow your lead: if you’re positive, they’ll be able to find the good in a situation too. If you’re chronically negative, you will see that reflected in their behavior too.

The rules apply to you, too

Deadlines, documentation standards, processes… there are a lot of rules that need to be observed in the course of the workday, in getting things done. The leader who is beloved is one who does not think him or herself above the rules.

If you expect your team to behave a certain way, follow certain processes and adhere to specific standards, you need to behave that way, follow that process and adhere to those standards too. While you’re their leader, you are ALL a team and the whole works better if you set the example and behave that way.

Give people time and attention

Yes, your schedule is probably booked up. But, if you want to build and maintain strong relationships, you need to make time for your team. One-on-one and as a group, team building is an ongoing process. It’s not something that happens on a one-off trip to a mountain resort for a weekend of trust building exercises.

Trust comes over time. Your team will appreciate that you are interested in each of them as individuals —  not as ‘performers’; not as a number; not as a cog who will get the job done. Caring about your team members, both in terms of their personal and professional well being, will get you the team that cares about you and the projects you are entrusted with.

Share helpful feedback

Feedback also is an important part of sharing your time. You need to provide useful and constructive feedback on performance in a timely manner.

Waiting for annual reviews to pile on the information is neither useful nor helpful. Feedback, even when it is something to work on rather than straight up praise is important because team members will see that you appreciate the effort, that you’ve noticed their work.

It’s an important way of giving them your time and attention that will pay back in dividends over time!

Be kind

If nothing else, being kind is valuable. That means no gossiping. No sniping mean things about other teams or leaders. No rolling your eyes when one of your team members is late because their child is sick. The list of examples is endless, but the bottom line is the same. Kindness pays.

“Whatever possession we gain by our sword cannot be sure or lasting, but the love gained by kindness and moderation is certain and durable.” ~ Alexander the Great

Working with your team with generosity and kindness comes from a place of gratitude. You can foster that within yourself and your leadership style by paying attention to being grateful. For that, our Grounded in Gratitude Journal can help you on your way with 384 pages of inspiration to remind you daily about what’s important.

4 Steps to Improve Your Speech | BridgeBetween.com

4 Steps to Improve Your Speech to Make an Impact Through Speaking

Do you need to improve your speech? As a thought leader, or a team leader, the technical aspects of your speech make a big difference in terms of the impact your speaking has on your team, the C-Suite or an auditorium full of people.

Even when you’re not giving a speech to hundreds of people, the way you speak every day thoroughly impacts how much people hear.

4 Steps to Improve Your Speech

Step 1 – Hear yourself

You will never know what you sound like to other people until you record yourself and listen. Record yourself speaking in different contexts. At a meeting, at a presentation, on a conference call, in chatting with others.

Then listen to the recordings carefully. You’ll hear all the things that make your speaking pattern less impactful.

Here are some issues that tend to crop up for many people:

  • The speed of your speech – too fast and no one follows; too slow and they’re asleep.
  • The enunciation of your words – do you tend to mumble or are you clear?
  • The tone of your speech – are you monotone or do you squeak like a mouse? Neither is desirable!
  • The verbal tics of filler words – using ‘um’ or ‘ah’ with astonishing regularity.
  • The tendency to avoid punctuation – when you’re speaking, it’s best to pause as you would if you were punctuating your speech. It makes it clearer and easier to hear.
  • The tendency to finish sentences in an upward tone, as if you are always asking a question – this tends to make it sound as if you aren’t confident in what you are saying, that you are seeking the approval of the listener.

Step 2 – Watch your speed

Speed of speech is one of the most difficult issues to get a handle on. We each tend to have a rhythm of speech that doesn’t necessarily change, depending on circumstances. But it should!

What’s an appropriate speed? For a conversational level of speech, it should take you about a minute to read 160 words. Write something out that is that long and then read it out loud, while you record and time yourself.

If you’re in the zone of about 150-170 words a minute, you’re okay for conversational speaking. If you’re speaking on a technical subject, however, you might want to slow it down a little.

Step 3 – Banish filler words

“Like”, “Um”, “Ahhh”… We all use them but they have the tendency, when you used a lot, to make the speaker sound unsure of themselves at best. When leaders pepper their speeches with these filler words, the reaction of listeners tends to be that they find that leader to be less effective, or are concerned about their level of knowledge and ability.

Of course, these words are no reflection on knowledge and ability but perception is reality, so if you know you tend towards a verbal filler like ‘Um’, you have to get out of the habit.

Listen to yourself speaking and figure out why it is you are using that filler word. Is it to give yourself time to pull together your thoughts or turn a page on your notes and refocus?

You can give yourself that pause without using a verbal filler but instead employing something more elegant like: “Another important point is…” or some other transition from one thought to the next.

Another reason for excessive fillers is if you haven’t prepared what you want to say. For general conversation, this is, of course, unnecessary! But when you’re speaking to an audience, even if it’s a team in a conference room, knowing what you want to say in roughly the order you want to say it will make your speech more effective and you will find less need for transitional fillers.

Step 4 – Enunciate

There is no less effective to communicate than mumbling. In fact, mumblers are not only impossible to hear and understand, but there is a tendency to view mumbling as laziness or lack of interest in the subject matter. Nothing will lose you an audience faster than your seeming to be totally uninterested in the topic at hand.

Practice enunciating all your syllables, even if it is exaggerated at first, to get to a point where you eliminate any mumbling. Even non-mumblers can get caught doing it at the end of a sentence, their voices trailing off. Instead, stay strong and enunciate right up to the end!

If you’re not sure of your speech patterns, watch and listen to others — TEDx speakers are usually great examples of people who speak well and captivate listeners. Your speaking must radiate confidence in order to be perceived as knowledgeable.

And smile when you speak. There is a lot of truth to the fact that you can hear a smile in someone’s speech. Try it. Say something with a smile and then say the same thing without a smile, and record both. You’ll hear the difference immediately!

It takes practice and a little perseverance but you can alter your speech patterns and, in so doing, improve the impact you make when you speak.

 

What’s In a Strong Leader? | BridgeBetween

What’s In a Strong Leader?

There are many ways that a strong leader distinguishes themselves from a weak one, or worse, a truly negative one. Often, when you look at leaders around you, their flaws seem obvious but their positive traits are harder to discern. All you really know when you see a leader who is truly strong is that you are willing to hear them and follow them.

There are a couple of ways that a strong leader differentiates themselves from weak ones that are easily identifiable however; it’s these traits that are in stark contrast when compared to a leader who does not have them.

Strong leaders don’t need to weaken others

A little gossip around the water cooler can be a very bad thing for leaders. A frank and honest discussion about issues and how to move forward is a good thing for leaders. Do these two types of chatter seem like one and the same? They’re not.

A good leader won’t disparage others publicly or otherwise, whether peers or those who work for them. A weak leader lacks confidence and thinks they are gaining some by denigrating those around them or ignoring bad behavior rather than dealing with it.

A strong leader would not only not belittle others but would not stand for others being belittled. They would have the confidence to deal with a conflict situation directly, calling out any elephants in the room. It’s not always a comfortable position but it’s vital to their leadership status.

 

Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish. —Sam Walton (Source)

 

Strong leaders trust

A good leader will always deal with their team from a position of trust. A weak leader will come from a place of fear, which often results in bullying. You’ve all heard of leaders who yell and scream, all in the name of intimidation, to get what they want done but in the end, they aren’t effective, the team has no morale and it’s easy to see why they don’t last for the long term.

Along with that trust comes teamwork. A strong leader will influence others to act appropriately, support one another, and work together, to find the common path. A weak one will create division and competition within the team, believing that this is the best way of maintaining their own power.

Strong leaders live their power

Power doesn’t come from dividing people and it certainly doesn’t come from a title. Anyone can call themselves the CEO of XYZ or have that title given to them, but if they don’t truly and totally embody the role, it will only ever be a title.

A leader that inspires is one that believes in him or herself and, by extension, those around them. It’s a very motivating thing to be close to power and even more so when it is wielded by someone who knows how.

A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way. —John Maxwell (Source)