Strategy: The New Way of Thinking About Time…Don’t Worry That You Can’t do it All. New Research Says it’s Better that Way.

In late 2010, Contently co-founder Shane Snow worked every day from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. on proving the viability of the company's nascent online publishing platform. But, as Snow found out, cramming more than a week's worth of work and meetings into an already jam-packed seven-day schedule is next to impossible, and exhaustion quickly set in. So, in 2011, "we made a 'no cowboys' rule and started forcing people to go home at 6 or 7 to get some sleep and live a little," he recalls. "It helped both morale and energy."

There's a whole library of books on productivity, like 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think and The Time Trap, that proselytize the notion that you can and should get everything done. An admirable ambition--but one that exacts a toll.

A study released in November by the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, "Please Respond ASAP: Workplace Telepressure and Employee Recovery," laid out a definition for tele­pressure, or tele­stress: an urge to respond to work-related emails no matter when they're sent. An always-on work connection has very real health effects. The study found that employees citing telepressure suffered worse sleep, increased absences from work, and, as Snow discovered, higher levels of burnout.

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All of this has given rise to a new school of time management, one concerned with zeroing in on your most important priorities, doing them well, and eliminating everything else--including keeping crazy hours. "The wrongheaded notion that you can manage time and that by managing it you'll get a ton of stuff done, cross everything off your to-do list, and live this super ­human life really just sets people up for disappointment and failure," says Brigid Schulte, the author of Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time. "What you can manage are your priorities and your expectations of what you do in time."

Entrepreneurs/managers have started taking cues from this new thinking, spurred by both hard-won experience and a slew of groundbreaking studies that identify how we work best. Recent research conducted by University of California- Irvine professor Gloria Mark found that it takes more than 23 minutes to get back on track after an interruption such as a meeting--and this has led LearnVest CEO and founder Alexa von Tobel to tweak her schedule. Today, her company's meetings rarely top 15 minutes. "I think of my calendar in 15-minute blocks, which helps keep meetings focused and on point," she says. She also never holds them on a Monday, because she feels that she's most productive on that day.

Azita Ardakani, CEO and co-founder of New York City-based communications agencyLovesocial, lets staffers tailor schedules to when they work best, noting that "the creative team usually gets juices flowing late at night and shouldn't be in at 9 a.m." Her employees are encouraged to not email colleagues and clients on nights and weekends. Such changes leave employees freer to let great ideas bake. "When you promote a space where employees can reflect on the unique nature of how they work best, and then put in general parameters and, most important, permission to foster that air to breathe and create, amazing things happen," she says.

Likewise, Vynamic, a health care management consultancy in Philadelphia, urges employees not to send emails on the weekends or between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., a policy it calls zzzMail (as in: Catch some z's). Vynamic founder and CEO Dan Calista created zzzMail in 2012 after employees complained about stress in an annual engagement survey.

Such schedule-driven stress "is why meditation is suddenly in vogue in the work world," says Snow, who picked up the practice from his assistant while juggling deadlines for his book, Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success, and working on Contently. "It helps you be more calm and have a clearer mind to focus on the tasks that are more important." Which, by the way, are often far fewer than you think.

 

Inc.com |  March 2015  |  

BY JILL KRASNY

Staff writer, Inc.

 

Your Career:How To Job-Hunt After Getting Fired…Getting Fired is Not Bad for You. It Might Be the Best Thing That has Ever Happened for Your Career.

The big thing about getting fired is not the process of getting fired itself, but the job-hunt afterwards. The good news is that the working world is changing fast. One of the ways that the traditional Godzilla structure keeps working people in line is that it tells them “If you get fired, good luck getting hired anywhere else!”

The Office Management

It used to be a huge thing if you got fired and then had to say “I got fired from my last job” when you started your job search. You don’t have to do that now. Getting fired is not even a real thing. It just means that an employer said “Hit the road” before you said “I’m out of here.” It’s not a legal designation.

It’s just a conversation. We have to shake the toxic lemonade out of our veins and stop thinking that a job application is a legal document or more fundamentally, that organizations have more power than individual people do. That is nonsense!

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If you are about to get fired, you can quit. Your boss or someone in HR can begin to say “Look, we can see that it’s not working out and so —”and you can interrupt them and say “Let me make this easy – I quit!” However, if you don’t have another job lined up, don’t quit, because if you quit you won’t be eligible for unemployment compensation. Let them fire you. It doesn’t matter.

Most employers these days will never give a bad reference, because they don’t want to be sued. They won’t tell another employer that they fired you. All they are likely to do is to confirm the dates that you worked for them and your job titles. Here in the U.S. they can’t confirm your salary without your permission. For the same reason, many employers will not make you ineligible for rehire just because one manager terminated you.
If you sign an application or a background-checking form that gives your possible new employer the right to check your references and if your former employer tells the new employer that you are ineligible for rehire, the new employer will ask you what’s up. You’ll say “It was a difficult situation leading up to my departure.

“We had differences of opinion that were significant enough that it was obvious the fit was not good. I am surprised that I am ineligible for rehire there but of course, I don’t intend to work in that organization again in any case.”

Your relationship with your new hiring manager is the key. If he or she doesn’t trust your judgment, why would you want to work on his or her team?

You never have to say “I was fired” during your job search. We still have the outdated idea that being fired puts a mark on shame on you. It’s not true. Most of the people who get fired from their jobs in my experience are not bad people or bad employees.

We do not know how to be adults at work. We do not know how to talk about energy. When two people don’t resonate together, that is an energetic mismatch. It doesn’t make one person wrong. An immature or flustered boss may not know how to put words around the mismatch, so he or she will say “You aren’t meeting my requirement.”

You may think “The feeling is mutual, sweetheart” and be happy to be out of the bad work environment. When you apply for a new job, you can simply say that you left. I don’t want you lobbing resumes or applications into faceless Black Hole portals, anyway.

When you send a Pain Letter directly to your hiring manager, there is no mention of course of how or why you left your last employer.

The question “Why did you leave Acme Explosives?” may come up at a job interview. It probably will, and that’s good, because that’s just the kind of question employers should be asking. After all, your story is your brand.

“I had a great time learning for the first three years,” you will say, “and then it was time to go. I needed a bigger challenge.”

If you were in your job for a short time you can say “I misjudged that situation, honestly. I thought it was going to be a channel development job, but it was really straight selling and that’s not my strong suit. I’m more of a program manager and a long-term relationship builder, versus the kind of order-taker they needed at Acme.”

You are going to find in your job search that there is a huge difference between the organizations and people you feel comfortable with and the ones you don’t. As you trust your body more to send you signals it will oblige. You will leave some workplaces and think “That place is fun. I could learn something there.” You will leave other places and think “There isn’t enough  money in the world to get me to work there. Those people look like they’re in misery.”

Trust your body and trust the universe to get you into the right spot. For all intents and purposes in the 21st-century workplace, you get to decide whether you were fired or not. Maybe one day you will wear that distinction as a badge of honor, like I do. I’ve been fired two and a half times and those experiences helped to make me who am I today — whoever that is!

Getting fired is not bad for you. It might be the best thing that has ever happened for your career. When you get fired, you get shaken out of the stupor that most of us fall into all too easily. Whenever you grow new muscles, the universe and I will be here on the sidelines, cheering you on!

Forbes.com |  February 28, 2015  |  Liz Ryan

http://www.forbes.com/sites/lizryan/2015/02/28/how-to-job-hunt-after-getting-fired

Strategy: How To Go Over Your Boss’s Head…What Would Happen If I Went Over my Boss’s Head to See my Boss’s Boss?” In Some Organizations, No One Would Notice

If you want evidence that the standard corporate or institutional hierarchy is a broken system, ask yourself “What would happen if I went over my boss’s head to see my boss’s boss?” In some organizations, no one would notice. In those organizations, people talk to their boss’s managers all the time.

Sticky Human Topics badge

In other organizations, you might as well clear out your desk the minute you decide to step outside the chain of command and talk to your boss’s boss about something on your mind. You know that when you make that visit, you’re not going to come out in one piece.

Either your boss will get wind of your treachery and fire you, or your boss’s boss will pretend to take your issues very seriously and then completely by coincidence, your job will be eliminated.

A lot of senior managers, sad to say, don’t know how to make themselves more available to their ‘skip-level’ reports, as one-down employees are known.

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Do you know how I know that? I know it because I sit in depositions and answer questions about good leadership practices. Companies pay enormous sums to employees who were abused or harassed by their bosses. It is a sad thing to witness, much less to be part of.

My part of it is to state for the record how eyes-open employers avoid problems by opening up communication up, down and across their organizations. Sometimes when my deposition is finished, the employer settles the case the same day. They can see that they’re not going to win at trial, so they pack it in.

The higher-level boss never knew about the bad behavior his or her subordinate manager was engaging in. There was no practical way for an employee to skip over their own boss and go see the higher boss to report the problem. They would have been fired if they’d tried.

How can an employee prove that belief? It’s easy to prove if it has already happened to someone else. They went over their boss’s head and voila! their job disappeared – completely by coincidence.
You have to know the organizational culture where you work if you’re thinking about paying a visit to your boss’s boss to talk about something that isn’t working.

Here are some clues:

  • Does your boss’s manager know you well already? Does he or she talk to you when your boss is not around? If so, you might have a chance to start a productive conversation with him or her.
  • If your boss is difficult, unqualified, dealing with a personal problem that gets in the way of work (like a substance abuse problem or a mental health issue) does your boss’s boss seem to notice? If not, do you think he or she is really going to take your input seriously? Everyone is busy at work, but when you’re so busy that you’re completely unaware of an elephant in the room that is trumpeting at a hundred decibels, I’m not sure it’s worth your trouble to talk to your boss’s boss. You might be better off just getting out of Dodge alive.
  • Is your company’s HR team very involved with employees, and easy to talk to? If so, you might skip the boss’s boss approach and talk to HR instead. If your HR team is distant, hard to talk to or disinterested, you might be wasting your breath and worse, you might be hurting your own future job reference (even if the information you have to share is offered with the best intentions).

We had a client who was in a tough situation. Her boss had an out-of-control alcohol problem. Our client, Rita, had no relationship at all with her boss’s boss, the company CFO. Rita was terrified of her direct manager, the woman who was struggling with alcoholism.

The CFO didn’t seem to notice anything wrong, although everybody in Rita’s department knew about the alcohol on the boss’s breath in the afternoons and had seen her slumped over her desk snoring many times.

Rita called us one day. “Listen to this,” she said. “The CFO called me and said he wants to meet with me tomorrow morning. I can guess what he wants to talk about. What should I say? I’m very nervous. I’m caught between a rock and a hard place.”

“You are not in a safe space to say what you know,” we said. “Why should you share your perspective on your boss’s substance abuse issues without any protection for yourself? Your boss is out of control. In our experience, the CFO will ask you a lot of questions about your boss.

“He will listen to whatever you tell him and he’ll take a few notes. Then you’ll go back to work and worry your head off. Your CFO is very unlikely to act immediately.  You’ll be wondering who knows what and what’s going to happen and you won’t be able to sleep.”

“So what should I tell my CFO?” asked Rita.

“Sadly for your company and for your manager, who needs help, I wouldn’t say anything,” I told her. “Say that you’re saddened to hear about your CFO’s concerns, if he even shares them with you. He may not say a word. He may just be digging right now. That’s too bad for him.

“You are paid to be an accountant, not a private investigator. Let the guy get out of his office once in a while and wander around. He should have been doing that all along. He would see the problem with your boss in two seconds if he used his own powers of observation rather than relying on yours.”

We would love to coach people to go see their boss’s manager if something were amiss, but in way too many organizations it isn’t safe to do that. That is why plaintiff’s-side employment attorneys keep their jobs. People like Rita quit and then file a lawsuit over bad behavior, because all roads to do something about the problem while they still worked for the company were effectively blocked.
It might be worth making that trip if you think there’s a chance your boss’s boss will take your concerns seriously and act on them.

That could happen in a case where the company is put at risk by the problem you’re planning to report. A supervisor with an alcohol issue is probably not one of the risk factors that keep CEOs up at night, but there are plenty of other risky situations that do.

If your boss were your company CFO and he or she were siphoning money away, that would get the CEO’s attention. If your boss were systematically sexually harassing people and building up a stockpile of aggrieved employees who might one day band together for a class action lawsuit, that would do the same thing.

If you’re an executive wondering whether the employees who work for your subordinate managers would feel comfortable talking with you directly, the answer is probably no. Unless you are actively cultivating relationships with those people, they wouldn’t have any reason to think you would listen to them.

If you feel awkward about establishing relationship glue between you and the people who work for managers on your team, let that concern go! If your managers are freaked out about you being friendly with their employees, you can coach them out of that fearful state.

Don’t, of course, bypass the managers who work for you and give instructions to their team members directly. That will confuse everybody and beg the question “Why do you have managers working for you, if you intend to manage everybody directly by yourself?” In my experience, this is a much less common situation than the opposite one — the scary one where employees have no access to their boss’s boss at all, even in emergencies.

That’s what you have to watch out for. Our client Rita buttoned her lip and didn’t say anything to her boss’s boss about her manager and her alcohol problems. It was not her fault — her boss’s boss asked her oblique cat-and-mouse questions to see how much Rita would spill. No dice! Rita had us in her corner.

It took months, but finally Rita’s manager passed out at a staff meeting and was sent to rehab. Rita never talked to her boss’s boss again. She got another job while the company was busy cleaning up the mess that had accumulated while its incapacitated accounting manager was on her downward slide.

You can begin to create a relationship with your boss’s boss if he or she doesn’t reach out to you.

It’s good to get to know your boss’s boss if you can. Establish a relationship if the opportunity presents itself. Let your boss’s boss know your name, and don’t be shy about chatting in the hallway and sharing your opinions. You never know when that relationship might become a lot more central to your working  life than it is right now.

Forbes.com | February 27, 2015  | Liz Ryan 

http://www.forbes.com/sites/lizryan/2015/02/27/how-to-go-over-your-bosss-head/

Strategy: How Multitasking can Kill your Productivity…Because of Email Alone we Typically Waste 1 Out of Every 6 Minutes

The word priority didn't always mean what it does today.  In his best-selling book, "Essentialism," Greg McKeown explains the surprising history of the word and how its meaning has shifted over time.

Multitasking with phone

 

The word priority came into the English language in the 1400s. It was singular. It meant the very first or prior thing. It stayed singular for the next five hundred years.

Only in the 1900s did we pluralize the term and start talking about priorities. Illogically, we reasoned that by changing the word we could bend reality. Somehow we would now be able to have multiple "first" things.

People and companies routinely try to do just that. One leader told me of this experience in a company that talked of "Pri-1, Pri-2, Pri-3, Pri-4, and Pri-5." This gave the impression of many things being the priority but actually meant nothing was.

–Greg McKeown, "Essentialism"

The Myth of Multitasking

Yes, we are capable of doing two things at the same time. It is possible, for example, to watch TV while cooking dinner or to answer an email while talking on the phone.

What is impossible, however, is concentrating on two tasks at once. Multitasking forces your brain to switch back and forth very quickly from one task to another.

This wouldn't be a big deal if the human brain could transition seamlessly from one job to the next, but it can't. Multitasking forces you to pay a mental price each time you interrupt one task and jump to another. In psychology terms, this mental price is called the switching cost.

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Switching cost is the disruption in performance that we experience when we switch our attention from one task to another. A 2003 study published in the International Journal of Information Management found that the typical person checks email once every five minutes and that, on average, it takes 64 seconds to resume the previous task after checking your email.

In other words, because of email alone we typically waste one out of every six minutes.

multitaskingJamesclear.com

While we're on the subject, the word multitasking first appeared in 1965 IBM report talking about the capabilities of its latest computer. [1]

That's right, it wasn't until the 1960s that anyone could even claim to be good at multitasking. Today, people wear the word like a badge of honor as if it is better to be busy with all the things than to be great at one thing.

Finding Your Anchor Task

Doing more things does not drive faster or better results. Doing better things drives better results. Even more accurately, doing one thing as best you can drives better results.

Mastery requires focus and consistency.

I haven't mastered the art of focus and concentration yet, but I'm working on it. One of the major improvements I've made recently is to assign one (and only one) priority to each work day. Although I plan to complete other tasks during the day, my priority task is the one non-negotiable thing that must get done.

Here's what my current weekly schedule looks like…

  • Monday – Write article.
  • Tuesday – Send two emails (one for networking, one for partnerships.)
  • Wednesday – Write article.
  • Thursday – Write article.
  • Friday – Complete weekly review.
  • Saturday – OFF
  • Sunday – OFF

The power of choosing one priority is that it naturally guides your behavior by forcing you to organize your life around that responsibility. Your priority becomes an anchor task, a the mainstay that holds the rest of your day in place. If things get crazy, there is no debate about what to do or not to do. You have already decided what is urgent and what is important.

Saying No to Being Busy

As a society, we've fallen into a trap of busyness and overwork. In many ways, we have mistaken all this activity to be something meaningful. The underlying thought seems to be, "Look how busy I am? If I'm doing all this work, I must be doing something important." And, by extension, "I must be important because I'm so busy."

While I firmly believe everyone has worth and value, I think we're kidding ourselves if we believe being busy is what drives meaning in our lives.

In my experience, meaning is derived from contributing something of value to your corner of the universe. And the more I study people who are able to do that, people who are masters of their craft, the more I notice that they have one thing in common. The people who do the most valuable work have a remarkable willingness to say no to distractions and focus on their one thing.

I think we need to say no to being busy and say yes to being committed to our craft. What do you want to master? What is the one priority that anchors your life or work each day?

If you commit to nothing you'll be distracted by everything.

Sources

  1. IBM Operating System/360 Concepts and Facilities by Witt and Ward. IBM Systems Reference Library. File Number: S360-36

Thanks to Charlie Hoehn for originally pointing me toward "Essentialism" and, more specifically, the quote on priority. Also, thanks to Tim Kreider for his article "The Busy Trap", which I read years ago, but probably influenced my thinking in some way.

 

Businessinsider.com | February 27, 2015  |  

http://jamesclear.com/multitasking-myth#ixzz3T2l4KWJ6

Your Career: 3 Steps to Applying for a Job When you Don’t Meet the Requirements…So What’s a Job Seeker who Doesn’t Quite Meet All the Requirements in a Position Description to Do?

Are you ready for one of the best-kept secrets of the job search process?  Unless the person doing the hiring has previously worked in the exact role he's trying to fill, a fair amount of the job description is guesswork.

Man Looking at Computer Screen Frustrated

First, ask yourself if you're capable of doing the job.

Think about it: Hiring managers have to write a description that will simultaneously entice people to apply and ward off those who wouldn't qualify for an interview.

Also, haven't you heard stories of a person who "met all of the qualifications" being passed over in the final stages for someone who "seemed like a better fit?" Probably so — because a company would much rather hire the candidate with two years of experience who seems like she could hit the ground running than someone with the requisite five years who failed to demonstrate strong communication skills.

So what's a job seeker who doesn't quite meet all the requirements in a position description to do? How can you tell the non-negotiable requirements from the ones you could compensate for with your other awesome skills? And — more importantly — how do you broach the subject in your cover letter?

Read on for your three-step plan.

Step 1: Ask Yourself if You Could Do the Job

Notice that I didn't suggest asking, "Do you want the job?" or even, "How much do you want the job?" Honestly, those questions are irrelevant.

It doesn't matter how passionate you are about working in a foreign language — if the job requires translating documents, and you're only conversational, you're not qualified. Similarly, it doesn't matter how fascinating you find a company: You shouldn't apply for a job running its website if you don't have any of the technical skills required.

Instead, read through the job description and try to get a sense of what someone in the role would do each day. In your mind, break out "public relations experience" into writing press releases, pitching media, and representing a brand. Think of "writing experience" as the ability to write concisely, persuasively, and with proper grammar.

After you've worked through the job description in this way, you'll have a more accurate sense of what you have to offer versus what skills you may be lacking.

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Step 2: Ignore "Bonus" Requirements

Some requirements are listed because they "sound good." For example, I once edited a job description to remove the words "from a prestigious university" from after "bachelors degree." (Yes, sadly, this a true story — someone on the team had thought those words would make the job seem impressive. Moreover, what was the person in charge of hiring going to do — purchase the latest copy of U.S. News & World Report?)

Occasionally, ridiculous phrasing happens to good descriptions because someone on the team thinks it "sounds good," but that's no reason not to apply.

Another way companies flub the job description (read: scare off qualified candidates) is by listing requirements for a "dream applicant" — e.g., a laundry list of advanced computer skills for a job that primarily requires hands-on interaction with kids.

But truthfully, companies aren't going to stall the hiring process until the dream applicant saunters in — solid, qualified applicants (like you!) get interviews, too. So, if there is a dumping ground of desired skills at the end of the description, see them as bonus skills, and focus your application on all of the core skills you do have.

Still feeling nervous about ignoring the dream requirements? Think of the job description like a dating profile. Yes, I do have one friend whose husband speaks French, runs his own company, flies planes, and volunteers with orphans oversees through a religious charity. But the rest of the group is more than happy with good partners who treat them right.

Step 3: Use the Magic Words

Sometimes the required skills you are missing don't fit into either of the above categories: While not a deal-breaker, they will factor into the job, and they're more than icing on the cake. First things first, remember this sage advice from Lily Zhang, and do not write the "I know I don't have the right experience, but…" cover letter.

Zhang uses one of my favorite terms in her article: transferable skills. Yes, I think the term "transferable skills" has magical job-search powers that shouldn't be underestimated. Why? Because a critical piece of the application process is connecting the dots between the experience you already posses and that which the position calls for.

Just make sure you don't over-reach for relevant experience. For example, do not try to explain how babysitting prepared you to be an executive assistant because you've previously been in charge of scheduling someone else's afternoon.

Do focus on how lessons learned from prior experience would apply to a future role. (Think: Sales experience would prepare you for fundraising, because in each role you're asking someone to write a check, or your obsessive desire to organize and schedule would be relevant to a job in operations.)

Then, try this cover letter template, which focuses more on the skills you do have than the specific experiences you don't.

If you're interested in a role and could see yourself doing a great job, don't let a few missing qualifications stop you from applying. Follow the steps above, and then, wait and see. You may not be selected for an interview; but you could also be the best person for the job, and applying is the only way you'll know.

More From The Daily Muse:

This article originally appeared at The Daily Muse. Copyright 2015. Follow The Daily Muse on Twitter.

 

Businessinsider.com |  February 27, 2015  |  

https://www.themuse.com/advice/3-steps-to-applying-for-a-job-when-you-dont-meet-the-requirements#ixzz3Syq4TMRg

Strategy: 7 Tips for Leading Meetings More Effectively…”Yay, Another Meeting!” said No One Ever. Here’s How to Keep your Meetings Pain-Free

Why do meetings have such a bad rap? Because too many of them are poorly organized, overly long, and rudderless--drifting this way and that according to the moods of the dominant personalities in the room.

Meeting Boring

Even managerial and executive meetings, which should be more effective based on the amount of experience the attendees have collectively logged, are often more painful than productive. And these are meeting professionals. They (we) should know better.

Having both facilitated and participated in thousands of meetings in my career, with countless more looming in my future, I'd like to share my seven best tips for leading your meetings out of meeting hell and into--well, nirvana may be aiming too high. Let's just start with keeping your weekly budget huddle out of the everlasting abyss and then go from there.

1. State the Objective Clearly

Are you generating ideas? Trying to reach a decision? Making plans? Reporting status updates? A bit of each? No matter what the underlying goal of your meeting is, make sure it's clearly stated up front to all participants.

It's not easy to facilitate a productive conversation when half the room thinks they're brainstorming and the other half is trying to make decisions. The brainstormers will feel frustrated and shut down by the judgmental comments, and the decision makers will become impatient with the seemingly irrelevant ideas that are distracting from forward progress.

Brainstorming versus decision-making conflicts are a fairly common meeting hazard, even if you previously announced the meeting's objective. Keep an eye out for this kind of exchange, and steer the conversation as needed. Try, "Those are great ideas, but the brainstorming phase has passed. We're here to make decisions now." Or, "When we're brainstorming, all ideas are good enough to make it onto the whiteboard. For the next 30-minutes, this is a no-judgment zone. Decision making comes later."

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2. Respect the Ritual of Recurring Meetings

I'm a big believer that there's a certain amount of ritual to meetings, and that the routine itself serves an important purpose. As much as people complain about being overly scheduled, with too little time for their "real jobs," they do appreciate the chance to sync up on the same issues in the same way on a predictable basis.

Once you've established the protocols of a particular meeting type, you can quickly dive in to the real issues, rather than wasting time orienting everyone to a new agenda. Following a routine does not mean that equal time must be allotted for all topics every week, or that everyone present needs to report progress or provide updates. I advise following a repeatable structure for recurring meetings, while also allowing for slight variations--like skipping stagnant topics and rotating who goes first--in order to prioritize the most relevant and important issues.

3. Ask for Input a Day Ahead

Ask meeting attendees what's top of mind for them at least a day ahead, before you complete the agenda. This not only encourages team members to start mentally preparing, it also gives you advance notice of what issues might be percolating inside the different individuals, departments, or teams.

Just remember that everyone has different and often competing priorities. As the meeting leader or facilitator, you get to rank those priorities for the team at large. Distinguish between the issues that can be handled by a smaller group offline and those that need the full attention of everyone present.

4. Plan for Structure and Flexibility

I always plan for a structured portion of the meeting and a more flexible portion toward the end. Depending on the meeting type, I'm willing for half or more of the allotted time to be open-ended. Personally, I'd rather follow the energy of the people in the room than rigidly adhere to an agenda just because it's been typed and distributed. A sheet of universal, white, 20-lb. paper does not equal a stone tablet.

I don't have any problem vamping on an idea or shifting gears if that's where the enthusiasm is heading. I realize that this mindset can be frustrating to people who are more rigid in their style (see item No. 6), and I also realize that it's impossible to please everyone (see No. 7). However, the willingness to shut down rat-hole discussions that stray too far from the central purpose of the meeting--no matter how much energy they inspire--is also essential.

5. You're the Leader, So Try Leading

You know how frustrating it is to sit through a meeting without a proactive, engaged leader. When you're in charge, think of yourself as the meeting's cruise director. It's your job to keep everyone apprised of where you're going and when. If there's a printed agenda, you need to both steer everyone toward the docket and clearly announce any departures from it. "Oh, it looks like we'll be skipping right past X and moving on to Y. Jennifer, you're up."

If the conversation is flowing in a different--and more productive--direction than your agenda allows for, don't be afraid to toss it overboard (see No. 4). Just tell everyone that's what's happening. Otherwise, you'll lose people in the incongruity between the expectations you've set for them and the reality around them.

6. Don't End Prematurely

No one likes a meeting that drags on and on, far beyond the point of productivity and team engagement. But I believe it can be equally frustrating to end prematurely just because time is up. "Yeah, we almost solved world hunger, but Bill has an 11:00, so let's pack it up."

If there's great momentum in the room, I'm OK with letting a meeting go over by 10 minutes or so, as long as it doesn't happen every week. If Bill really can't miss that 11:00, I'll do a time-check at 10:55 and excuse those who have to jet, keeping the relevant parties until they either wrap up the discussion or schedule a follow-up while everyone is still present and able to compare their calendars.

7. Don't Try to Please Everyone

Your attendees often have competing priorities and points of view, and there's no way to please everyone, all the time. You can't ensure that all parties get equal time, equal treatment, and equal accolades, so don't even try. You have your own leadership style and meeting preferences. Own them. If Bill doesn't like it, he can do things differently when he is in charge.

Leading productive meetings is an overlooked skill, but it doesn't have to be a thankless job. These seven tips may not result in gushing compliments over how pleasurable your latest executive meeting was. But if you can use them to steer your team out of meeting purgatory for an hour every other Wednesday, that's still something to be proud of.

Inc.com | February 26, 2015 | 

BY ERIC MORGAN
 
 
CEO, Workfront

Leadership:10 Fundamental Success Truths We Forget Too Easily…You will Never Experience True Success Until you Embrace Failure

It’s surprising how easy it is to lose sight of the important things in life. Busy schedules and weekly routines have a tendency to put the brain on autopilot.

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Some of life’s essential truths need repeating. Keep this list handy and give it a read any time you need a boost.

1. Life is short

None of us are guaranteed a tomorrow. Yet, when someone dies unexpectedly it causes us to take stock of our own life: what’s really important, how we spend our time, and how we treat other people.

Loss is a raw, visceral reminder of the frailty of life. It shouldn’t be.

A great day begins with a great mindset. Remind yourself every morning when you wake up that each day is a gift and you’re bound to make the most of the blessing you’ve been given. The moment you start acting like life is a blessing is the moment it will start acting like one.

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2. Being busy does not equal being productive

Look at everyone around you. They all seem so busy—running from meeting to meeting and firing off emails. Yet how many of them are really producing, really succeeding at a high level? Success doesn’t come from movement and activity. It comes from focus—from ensuring that your time is used efficiently and productively. You get the same number of hours in the day as everyone else. Use yours wisely. After all, you’re the product of your output, not your effort. Make certain your efforts are dedicated to tasks that get results.

 

“Worrying is like paying a debt you don’t owe.” - Mark Twain

 

3. You’re living the life you have created

You are not a victim of circumstance. No one can force you to make decisions and take actions that run contrary to your values and aspirations. The circumstances you’re living in today are your own—you created them. Likewise, your future is entirely up to you. If you’re feeling stuck, it’s probably because you’re afraid to take the risks necessary to achieve your goals and live your dreams. When it’s time to take action, remember that it’s always better to be at the bottom of the ladder you want to climb than at the top of one you don’t.

4. Great success is often preceded by failure

You will never experience true success until you embrace failure. Your mistakes pave the way for you to succeed by revealing when you’re on the wrong path. The biggest breakthroughs typically come when you’re feeling the most frustrated and the most stuck. It’s this frustration that forces you to think differently, to look outside the box and see the solution that you’ve been missing. Success takes patience and the ability to maintain a good attitude even while suffering for what you believe in.

5. Fear is the No. 1 source of regret

When it’s all said and done, you will lament the chances you didn’t take far more than you will your failures. Don’t be afraid to take risks. I often hear people say, “What’s the worst thing that can happen to you? Will it kill you?” Yet, death isn’t the worst thing that can happen to you. The worst thing that can happen to you is allowing yourself to die inside while you’re still alive.

6. Your self-worth must come from within

When your sense of pleasure and satisfaction are derived from comparing yourself to others, you are no longer the master of your own destiny. When you feel good about something that you’ve done, don’t allow anyone’s opinions or accomplishments to take that away from you. While it’s impossible to turn off your reactions to what others think of you, you don’t have to compare yourself to others, and you can always take people’s opinions with a grain of salt. That way, no matter what other people are thinking or doing, your self-worth comes from within. Regardless of what people think of you at any particular moment, one thing is certain—you’re never as good or bad as they say you are.

7. Your’re only as good as the people you associate with

You should strive to surround yourself with people who inspire you, people who make you want to be better. And you probably do. But what about the people who drag you down? Why do you allow them to be a part of your life? Anyone who makes you feel worthless, anxious, or uninspired is wasting your time and, quite possibly, making you more like them. Life is too short to associate with people like this. Cut them loose.

8. You don’t have to wait for an apology to forgive

Life goes a lot smoother once you let go of grudges and forgive even those who never said they were sorry. Grudges let negative events from your past ruin today’s happiness. Hate and anger are emotional parasites that destroy your joy in life.

The negative emotions that come with holding on to a grudge create a stress response in your body, and holding on to stress can have devastating health consequences. Researchers at Emory University have shown that holding on to stress contributes to high blood pressure and heart disease.

When you forgive someone, it doesn’t condone their actions; it simply frees you from being their eternal victim.

9. Live in the moment

You can’t reach your full potential until you learn to live your life in the present. No amount of guilt can change the past, and no amount of anxiety can change the future. It’s impossible to be happy if you’re constantly somewhere else, unable to fully embrace the reality (good or bad) of this very moment.

To help yourself live in the moment, you must do two things:

1) Accept your past. If you don’t make peace with your past, it will never leave you and, in doing so, it will create your future.

2) Accept the uncertainty of the future. Worry has no place in the here and now. As Mark Twain once said, “Worrying is like paying a debt you don’t owe.”

 10. Change is inevitable and must be embraced

Only when you embrace change can you find the good in it. You need to have an open mind and open arms if you’re going to recognize, and capitalize on, the opportunities that change creates.

You’re bound to fail when you keep doing the same things you always have in the hope that ignoring change will make it go away. After all, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

Life doesn’t stop for anyone. When things are going well, appreciate them and enjoy them, as they are bound to change. If you are always searching for something more, something better, that you think is going to make you happy, you’ll never be present enough to enjoy the great moments before they’re gone.

Bringing it all together

Are there important truths that I’ve forgotten? Please share them in the comments section.

Travis co-wrote the bestselling book Emotional Intelligence 2.0 and co-founded TalentSmart, the world’s #1 provider of emotional intelligence tests and training, serving 75% of Fortune 500 Companies.

 

Forbes.com | February 25, 2015  |  Travis Bradberry

Leadership: 11 Inspiring People Who Lost it All & Came Back Stronger…When Things go Really Badly, it’s Good to Have a Few Examples of People Who Turned it All Around

I was talking with an old friend recently. She's been going through some rough times: just got laid off, broke up with her boyfriend, had a few other things fall through.

I was sympathetic. We've all been there. Still, I gave her my usual, Pollyanna-ish spiel:Bad endings portend good beginnings; failure is fun when it's done right; it's always darkest before the dawn. I'm sure I annoyed the heck out of her. Nobody who's down really wants to hear that stuff--and yet, it's true.

There's a long list of people who have lost everything and come back far stronger. So in honor of my friend (and everyone else who's facing tough times), here are a few amazing and inspiring examples:

1. Steve Jobs

I think most people know this story, but it's important to have on the list. Jobs co-founded Apple at age 21, and was worth millions by age 23. He recruited an experienced Fortune 500 CEO, John Sculley--and three years later, Sculley fired him.

"I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me," Jobs said in 2005. He started his second company, NeXT, which was ultimately acquired by Apple--and Jobs became CEO again. Fast-forward: You're probably reading this on an iPhone or a MacBook.

 

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2. Ulysses S. Grant

Grant was the 18th president of the United States. He saved the Union during the Civil War. Yet, he led a life full of highs and lows. A West Point graduate, he left the Army after being accused of drinking on duty. Then he struggled for seven years, barely able to support his family.

When war broke out, Grant went back into the army, first as a volunteer, then as a colonel, and eventually as the top U.S. general. Wait, there's more--Grant was elected president, but he later burned through his money. He was flat-out broke, and ultimately had to write his memoirs on his deathbed in order to provide for his family. The publisher? Mark Twain. Speaking of whom...

3. Mark Twain

Recalled now as one of the greatest American writers, Twain made some bad, bad business decisions and had some unlucky investments. He was broke and bankrupt by 1894--20 years after he became super-famous as the author of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

He moved his family to Europe, went on a grueling speaking tour, and wrote prolifically. Ultimately, he made enough money to restore his fortune and repay all of his creditors, even though his debts had legally been discharged in the bankruptcy. (Sadly, Twain later suffered more tragedy and fell into a deep depression, after the death of his wife and two of his daughters.)

4. Martha Stewart

Back in this century, Stewart, the founder of the company that bears her name, was America's first self-made female billionaire. Five years after her company went public, however, Stewart went to prison for conspiracy as part of the ImClone stock case.

And then she went gently into that good night.... Heck no, she didn't! Stewart launched her comeback campaign immediately after her release. Her company was profitable again within a year, and she rejoined its board of directors in 2011. She currently serves as chairman.

5. Dorothy Hamill

Hamill won gold in figure skating at the 1976 Winter Olympics, and parlayed her performance into a $1 million-a-year income as a professional performer. However,"after years of excessive spending, which included a weakness for expensive jewelry, and a series of bad investments, including the purchase of the fledgling Ice Capades franchise," according to Kiplinger, she filed for bankruptcy in 1996.

Did she work hard and come back? You bet your double-axel, she did. She kept skating, went on television, and sold a memoir. A few years later, she appeared in the 2007 movie Blades of Glory with Will Farrell.

6. James Altucher

Altucher founded a Web design company called Reset Inc. in 1996, and sold it two years later for $10 million. Then, he lost everything in a series of bad investments that were exacerbated by the first tech bubble in 2000.

After nearly committing suicide, Altucher said in an interview with Glenn Beck that he eventually realized he couldn't judge his "self-worth by his net worth." He made back his fortune as a hedge fund manager, and is now a super-popular blogger and podcaster.

7. Stanley Kirk Burrell

You probably remember Burrell, right? If not, no problem. He's a little bit better known as MC Hammer, the early-1990s artist behind megahits like "U Can't Touch This" and "Too Legit to Quit." More than 50 million of us bought his records back then--but Burrell still managed to fall into debt. By the time he filed for bankruptcy in 1996, he owed $13 million.

I know, right?

Still, he rebounded, and since you're reading this I'm going to guess you'll love what he did--he became an entrepreneur. He launched record labels, invested in tech startups, and gave lectures and did TV appearances. He's also been a Christian speaker and has slowly rebuilt his music career.

8. Walt Disney

Wait, Walt Disney is on this list? Sure enough. His first company was an animation and film studio in Kansas City that went belly up in 1922.

Disney rushed out of the city for California, where his next venture, Disney Bros. Studio, did a little bit better--including creating a cartoon character you might have heard of: Mickey Mouse, in 1928.

9. George Foreman

Foreman, one of the greatest boxers in history, was an Olympic gold medalist and twice won the title of World Heavyweight Champion--including as a 45-year-old, coming out of retirement in 1994. (Thus, making him a perpetual hero to every guy between the ages of 35 and 44.)

In the years that followed, Foreman didn't quite go bankrupt, but he had a "close call" according to The New York Times after "squandering $5 million." He recovered in part by lending his name to the George Foreman Grill, which earned him an estimated $200 million.

10. Willie Nelson

One of the most popular artists in the history of American country music, Nelson recorded 68 studio albums, 30 of which achieved gold or platinum status. However, he ran into tax problems, and at the nadir of his troubles, he owed $32 million to the IRS after it emerged that his accountants hadn't properly paid his taxes for years.

He worked hard, recorded an album, did commercials--including one for H&R Block that made fun of his problems--and ultimately paid off his debts. He's been recording and touring ever since. Honestly, he's probably more popular now than he would have been if not for his troubles.

11. Cyndi Lauper

If you grew up in the 1980s, it's a known fact that you loved Cyndi Lauper. Between "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" and "Time After Time," even "She Bop"and "True Colors," she wrote many of the anthems of the era. But, you might not know that before all that, she was part of a band called Blue Angel that had so little financial success that Lauper had to file for bankruptcy.

She recovered, recorded her songs, topped the charts, and became something of an icon. Most recently, in 2013, she won a Tony Award for the score she wrote for the Broadway musical Kinky Boots. Recently, she was inaugurated into the Songwriters Hall of Fame alongside Toby Keith and the late Jerry Garcia.

 

Inc.com |  February 25, 2015  |  Bill Murphy, Jr

Leadership:5 Leadership Lessons From the Football Field…There’s a Clear Connection Between Coaching Professional Athletes & Managing Employees. See What Some of the Best NFL Coaches Say about Leadership

Whether you're a sports fan who tunes into WFAN every morning or staunchly refuse to watch the Super Bowl and World Series, you'll agree that the best professional sports coaches know a thing or two about managing talent, motivating lower-rung employees, and leading through crisis.

The Patriots beat the Seahawks this year during the Super Bowl, but what leadership lessons can be learned from the big game?
IMAGE: Getty Images

In this country, sports is a business and business is a sport. "Great coaching is just as important to success in the office as on the field," Sarah Green, senior associate editor of Harvard Business Review writes in an article on some of the wisdom coaches have shared with the publication over the years. Below, read five leadership lessons from a pair of legendary NFL coaches.

1. Tell it like it is.

Bill Parcells, who coached the NFL's New York Giants, New England Patriots, New York Jets, and Dallas Cowboys, made his name as a leader by turning around losing teams. His strategy, which he wrote about in an HBR piece in 2000, started and ended with the truth.

"You have to be honest with people--brutally honest," he writes. "You have to tell them the truth about their performance, you have to tell it to them face-to-face, and you have to tell it to them over and over again. Sometimes the truth will be painful, and sometimes saying it will lead to an uncomfortable confrontation. So be it. The only way to change people is to tell them in the clearest possible terms what they're doing wrong. And if they don't want to listen, they don't belong on the team."

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2. Apply pressure as needed. 

Parcells believes in pushing people hard to reach their potential. "If you want to get the most out of people, you have to apply pressure-- that's the only thing that any of us really responds to," he says.

When former players reminisce about his style, he says, they usually bring up a phrase his father used when coaching him: "I think you're better than you think you are." "There's a lot of truth to it--people can do more than they think they can," he writes.

 

"The difference between winning and losing is the bottom 25 percent of your people," - Bill Walsh

 

3. Set small goals when people are underperforming.

Parcells is known for having turned around the Giants', Jets', Patriots', and Cowboys' losing ways. He says incremental progress is the key. Audacious goals are great to dream about when you're a scrub, but that won't get you anywhere. "When you set small, visible goals, and people achieve them, they start to get it into their heads that they can succeed," he writes. "They break the habit of losing and begin to get into the habit of winning. It's extremely satisfying to see that kind of shift take place."

4. A balancing act.

The late Bill Walsh, who coached the San Francisco 49ers to three Super Bowl wins, brought a more sophisticated strategy to the league than his counterparts. In 1993,he explained to HBR his style:

"You are actually striving for two things at the same time: an organization where people understand the importance of their jobs and are committed to living within the confines of those jobs and to taking direction," he told HBR. "And an organization where people feel creative and adaptive and are willing to change their minds without feeling threatened. It is a tough combination to achieve. But it's also the ultimate in management."

5. Manage individuals like individuals.

Walsh applied the school of thought that a team was made up of individuals with very specific needs. Having coached two of the NFL's all-time greatest quarterbacks, Joe Montana and Steve Young, he explained how his coaching style changed when dealing with each player.

"Early on, we had to encourage Joe to trust his spontaneous instincts. We were careful not to criticize him when he used his creative abilities and things did not work out. Instead, we nurtured him to use his instincts. We had to allow him to be wrong on occasion and to live with it," he said. "In the case of quarterback Steve Young, it was almost the opposite. We had to work with him to be disciplined enough to live within the strict framework of what we were doing. Steve is a great spontaneous athlete and a terrific runner. But we found that we had to reduce the number of times he would use his instincts and increase his willingness to stay within the confines of the team concept."

Walsh also stressed that you have to pay more attention to the lower-tier players than the stars. Walsh said the stars can almost take care of themselves, but the others ultimately provide the edge your team needs. "The difference between winning and losing is the bottom 25 percent of your people," he told HBR.

 

Inc.com |  February 25, 2015  |  

BY WILL YAKOWICZ

Will Yakowicz is a staff writer for Inc. magazine. He has reported from the West Bank and Moscow for Tablet Magazine; covered business, crime, and local politics for The Brooklyn Paper; and was the editor of Park… Full bio
Staff writer, Inc.

Leadership: How America’s Top CEOs Motivate Employees & Get Results…What are the best ways to motivate your employees? We asked America’s Leading CEOs What it Takes.

What are the best ways to motivate your employees?

What are the best ways to motivate your employees?

We asked America's leading CEOs what it takes:

Don Bailey, CEO, Questcor

Don Bailey, CEO, Questcor

FORBES: What are the best ways to motivate your people?
BAILEY: Listen to them, have sincere respect for what they do and understand that they have families as well. Communicate with them as often as possible

 

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Brian Mueller, CEO, Grand Canyon Education

Brian Mueller, CEO, Grand Canyon Education

FORBES: What are the best ways to motivate your people?
MUELLER: You have to do two things. First, you have to understand that everyone needs a path to significance that comes as a result of the work they do. GCU has 3,000 people, and I can’t meet with everyone individually. But what we try to do as a large management leadership group is make sure we’re looking at every job classification in the university and figuring out a way for that job to have significance, monetarily and otherwise, for the people who are doing them. People work, first and foremost, for themselves and their families. There has to be a path that leads to significance for them individually. That’s highly motivating.

 

Brad Cleveland, CEO, Proto Labs

Brad Cleveland, CEO, Proto Labs

FORBES: What are the best ways to motivate your people?
CLEVELAND: I’ve been fortunate to attract and retain some of the brightest people in our industry at each of our lead management positions. We have exceptional talent in our international leadership positions, research & development, program management, software development, finance, human resources, sales and marketing. To retain these types of high-level people, in my experience it works best to help identify the goals, set priorities, ask the experts what they need to get the job done and then get out of their way. This approach continues to work very well at Proto Labs and I do not anticipate it changing.

 

Behrooz Abdi, CEO, InvenSense

Behrooz Abdi, CEO, InvenSense

FORBES: What are the best ways to motivate your people?
ABDI: Communicating the vision, empowering the team to execute to the vision, celebrating their wins, and communicating more.

 

Mike Fifer, CEO, Sturm, Ruger & Company

Mike Fifer, CEO, Sturm, Ruger & Company

FORBES: What are the best ways to motivate your team?
FIFER: Communication is key and it must be frequent and honest (whether the news is good or bad).  Backing that up, however, is the concept of “it’s all about the incentives.”  We have very simple, clear and concise incentives.The most important incentive is profit sharing for all of our employees and contractors, including employees provided by temporary services agencies.

We allocate 15% of the pretax profits every quarter to profit sharing.  The first year it averaged less than 5% of pay so it was important, but not yet a game changer.  Now it is more than 30% of pay and everyone is paying attention and pulling together in the same direction.  Typically this sort of incentive takes a couple of years to take root in an organization; junior participants have to trust that it is real, non-arbitrary, and here for the long term.

As a manager, you know it is starting to work when a junior employee takes independent initiative to save expenses or to push for higher efficiency.  Once the employees of an organization believe in the profit sharing, it becomes an incredibly important driver of day-to-day performance.  The keys to success with profit sharing are that everyone participates, pro-rata with their earned base wages for the period, and that it be based on a pre-determined formula that does not change.  It will fail if the employees believe it to be discretionary.

 

Arkadiy Dobkin, CEO, EPAM Systems

Arkadiy Dobkin, CEO, EPAM Systems

FORBES: What are the best ways to motivate your people?
DOBKIN: I do believe it is rather simple… While there are many different ways to motivate people and many of them are very critical to be present in the company…I think that our best people are motivated the most by tangible results they contributed to…And specifically, results recognized by clients themselves.In our business the real clients’ success, the significance and importance of  the solutions, their complexity and technical and business challenges solved on the way to deliver those solutions is the best motivation in my opinion. When client directly attributed the success to our people, our teams, and our experience and skills – it is BIG.

 

Bryan Shinn, CEO, U.S. Silica

Bryan Shinn, CEO, U.S. Silica

FORBES: What are the best ways to motivate your people?
SHINN: I try to treat folks as I want to be treated and I think that’s one of the most motivating things to an organization, no matter where you are in the leadership hierarchy if you’re engaged and empathetic and just real with people I think it goes a long way, I also put a lot of effort into recognizing the small things, you don’t have to wait until someone has a major accomplishment. One of the things I’ve learned is don’t be afraid to challenge the rules or do something unconventional around reward and recognition, just calling somebody up to say thank you or finding a way to find out what they like to do in their spare time and reward them with it – it really goes a long way and can be tremendously motivational for a team.

 

Jason Rhode, CEO, Cirrus

Jason Rhode, CEO, Cirrus

FORBES: What are the best ways to motivate your people?
RHODE: Cirrus' founding CEO Mike Hackworth often said that morale and motivation in the workplace comes from having a meaningful and worthwhile goal, a reasonable plan to achieve the goal, and being able to measure yourself making progress on the plan.  In my view, ensuring that we have such a vision, plan, and visibility at a corporate and individual level is a tremendously very powerful motivator.

 

Harry Herington, CEO, NIC

Harry Herington, CEO, NIC

FORBES: What are the best ways to motivate your people?
HERINGTON: It all comes down to culture and trust. There is no better way to motivate employees than to establish a culture of trust. Employees must trust the person who is leading the company. Most employees are not involved in setting the strategic direction of the company --- in many ways, my decisions dictate their future. That’s why I believe trust is so important, and I created a special program called, “Ask the CEO” to help establish trust.

 

John Foraker, CEO, Annie's

John Foraker, CEO, Annie's

FORBES: What are the best ways to motivate your people?
FORAKER: Annie’s is a mission driven business, and our employees are highly engaged in delivering on that mission.  They really care about it, and also about how we achieve success.  We operate the business according to a set of well-defined values around quality, sustainability, honesty, and doing the right thing even and especially when no one is looking.  Because of our mission driven approach we attract really smart, highly engaged, and highly capable people who care and want to make a difference in the world.  This set of common values and mission is highly motivating to people, as they see their work furthering the success of the business beyond just simple financial metrics.  Pay, benefits, and a comfortable work environment are all important, but being bound by a common higher purpose is motivating to our employees.

 

Jim Koch, Founder and Brewer, Boston Beer Company

Jim Koch, Founder and Brewer, Boston Beer Company

FORBES: What are the best ways to motivate your team?
KOCH: The best way to motivate is to lead by example and encourage creativity. One way I’ve done this is something I call the “string theory.” In the middle of graduate school, I decided to take a break and became an instructor with Outward Bound. At the beginning of each four-week course I gave everyone a supply of Alpine cord (a kind of string for lashing gear, pitching tarps, etc.) Consistently, if I gave my group plenty of string, they would run out and need more. But, if I gave them less and told them they had only two-thirds of what they really needed, they would get incredibly creative and make that cord last. They’d splice, they’d share, they’d save; they’d forage for bits of rope left behind by others. Through this exercise, I learned that culture and values can substitute for money and resources. Since we were on a tight budget in the early days, we used every piece of “string” we had, and that created a corporate culture of innovation and creativity. I’ve found that this motivates people to do the best and achieve terrific results with what they are given.

 

Steve Fredrickson, CEO, Portfolio Recovery Associates

Steve Fredrickson, CEO, Portfolio Recovery Associates

FORBES: What are the best ways to motivate your team?
FREDRICKSON: If you have the right team, the best way to motivate them is to hand them a challenge, provide appropriate resources, and then get out of their way, while monitoring progress and results. Then, once final results are delivered, insure that fair rewards are provided.

 

Kevin Thompson, CEO, Solarwinds

Kevin Thompson, CEO, Solarwinds

FORBES: What are the best ways to motivate your team?
THOMPSON: At my company, SolarWinds, we focus on creating an environment where employees have the opportunity to create a unique place within the company – their “sweet spot.”  Like the manager of a playoff-bound baseball team, we fill out our line-up so that everyone has their own role to play and brings their unique skillsets to the game.  That line-up is calibrated to combine skill and passion, and we work hard to make sure that each employee plays a position that complements the rest of the organization.  It’s how we win.

 

Wallace E. Boston, CEO, Amerian Public University System

Wallace E. Boston, CEO, Amerian Public University System

FORBES: What are the best ways to motivate your people?
BOSTON: Establish a mission that everyone can relate to and rally around.  Reinforce that mission with actions from the top down.  Be consistent, through good times and bad.

 

Cheri Beranek, CEO, Clearfield

Cheri Beranek, CEO, Clearfield

FORBES: What are the best ways to motivate your people?
BERANEK: When we started Clearfield, my COO and I wrote the core values of the company on an airplane. We didn’t need a focus group or multiple committee meetings, because we were living the values every day – They start with LISTENING and conclude with CELEBRATING our every success – in the early days we didn’t have many successes, so we hung a ship’s bell that we ran with a $10,000 order. Later, as we grew, we hung a $100,000 bell. When we got our first million dollar order, we didn’t yet have the $1,000,000 bell – but today, all three hang on our sales floor to remind us where we’ve been – and where we need to go. The culture of celebration, builds upon our philosophy that while we may feel like a family, we choose to operate our business as a small town – with each individual motivated to make active choices to continue to belong to the group – not feeling any level of entitlement.

 

Mike MacDonald, CEO Medifast

Mike MacDonald, CEO Medifast

FORBES: What are the best ways to motivate your people?
MACDONALD: The best way to motivate a team is to create a very open work environment where people have the ability to make suggestions and comments.  At Medifast, we encourage a leadership style that is highly participative and allows for open communication between all levels of the organization to accomplish business objectives.We’ve found that when you empower people to do their jobs within their style, they enjoy their work and can achieve their goals.

 

Rick Bergman, CEO, Synaptics

Rick Bergman, CEO, Synaptics

FORBES: What are the best ways to motivate your people?
BERGMAN: At Synaptics, we have a great culture where everyone works as a team.  We try  to remove any bureaucracy and hierarchy within the organization.  Despite our growth over the past couple of years, any employee can still have major impact on the outcome of the company as long as they are innovative and driven.  So openness to new ideas at any level and working together as a team keeps Synaptics employees highly motivated.

Forbes.com | February 25, 2015  |  Vanessa Loder