6 Ways to Increase Your Team’s Productivity

StrategyDriven Managing Your People Article | 6 Ways to Increase Your Team’s ProductivityLeading a team isn’t simple, no matter the size. Whether you’re in charge of a team of five or a team of 500, there are obstacles you must overcome. Your goal is efficient, hard-working staff that boost the business’ quality and increase profits. To do this, you must be a leader who promotes productivity, and here are six ways you can do that.

1. Communicate Effectively 

A crucial part of leadership is having excellent communication skills. Without them, you run the risk of miscommunication that will lead to errors, frustration, and loss of morale. Provide your staff with constructive feedback, a clearly defined task list, and have an open-door policy. This way, your team will know they can rely on you to be honest and give help where it is needed, which will boost productivity.

2. A Comfortable Environment

Assuming that you and your team work the standard 40-hour week, you are spending a third of your time in the workplace. By creating a bright, comfortable environment, you will cultivate a productive team that enjoys being at work. Add plants, install wide windows, and have an area where your team can hang out and discuss. You could even provide auto sliding doors that use sensors to open, providing your workplace with a brightened, automatic entrance.

3. Give Praise 

Acknowledging a job well done will boost a worker’s productivity. If your team is constantly hearing about where they’ve made errors, they will begin doubting themselves and it will show up in their work. By providing positive feedback, they will feel valued and have pride in their work, and they will carry on doing a great job.

4. Use Incentives 

People work best when they have a goal and a reward. Provide that reward by bringing incentives into the workplace, and you will see a definite uptick in hard work. In study findings written by Harold Stolovich, they found that incentive programs engaged participants, attracted quality employees, and that the employees valued the incentive programs. Some rewards you could employ include lunches out, coupons, and bonuses.

5. Understand Their Strengths

Each team member is an individual with their own strengths and weaknesses. You cannot expect one employee to work in the exact same way as another, so get to know your team and their strengths so that you can take advantage of them. It will benefit both you and the employees, as you get their best work while they are able to enjoy hitting their goals easily.

6. Leave Them to Their Work

Micro-managing results in a quick descent into unhappy employees. You hired them for a reason, so you should trust that they have the business’ best interest at heart and will do a fantastic job each day. Have confidence in your team by showing them freedom in their work and they will show you their appreciation through productivity. Their sense of responsibility will let them shine while allowing you to focus on other areas of the business.

How Managers Fail to Motivate Salespeople – and What They Should Do Instead

StrategyDriven Marketing and Sales Article | How Managers Fail to Motivate Salespeople - and What They Should Do InsteadHistorically, salespeople have been “given” their goals. Whether we call these goals, targets or quotas, it’s all the same. Sometimes the goal is arbitrary, as in, “I know you can do better, so next year I’m raising your target by 25%.” Other times it’s prescribed. For example: “Whatever you did last year, this year’s target is 10% higher. And, by the way, your bonus will be based on a percentage of quota attained.” Neither of these approaches deliver great results. Here’s why.

We assume that the fact that their bonus, or in some cases their very employment, is contingent upon making quota. We assume that this is motivating. In fact, the very opposite may be the case.

Two immediate (and all-too-common) situations come to mind. Consider the highly likely scenario that they may not buy into the target you’ve come up with. If they’re thinking, “There’s no way I’m going to hit that!” that’s not motivation!

Here’s the second situation: Assume they fall way behind after the first quarter. What will happen? Very often, they simply give up, knowing that the bonus (or whatever incentive you come up with) is lost.

The problem is that these are management’s goals, not the salesperson’s. There are two improvements we may want to consider.

The first is to include them in the process, and negotiate their targets, getting their input. Start by asking them what they think they can do next year or next quarter. Ready for a surprise? They will often give you a higher number than the one you were thinking of. In this case, when you suggest something lower, they love you and will work harder for you. If you need to negotiate the number up, that’s OK too. Just the fact that they were included in the process gets them on board. There’s an old saying: People never argue with their own data.

The second, and best, option is to have a private conversation with each person individually about what’s going on in their world. Forget about your revenue targets for a moment. Ask them about their personal life and their personal goals. What do they want their lives to look like a year from now, five years from now, and in retirement? Here’s the amazing thing: Just by asking, you are implying that you want to help them get there! That’s the magic, although of course it is most powerful when you really mean it. When they believe that you are willing to help them achieve their goals, they will, perhaps for the first time, be truly motivated to help you achieve yours – i.e. quotas and targets.

There’s one other side benefit to using this method. Every once in a while you will come across someone whose personal goal is to be you in a few years. A person who wants to grow in the company. Someone who is looking for a mentor and didn’t know how to ask. Now, how great is that?

About the Author

StrategyDriven Expert Contributor | Kevin ShulmanAs a certified Sandler trainer, Kevin Shulman has helped individuals, companies, and professional organizations set and attain important goals for almost 30 years. He specializes in helping business owners, sales leaders, and salespeople grow their base of business and reach their full potential.

For more information, please visit

Steps to Effective Business Leadership

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article | Steps to Effective Business LeadershipIt’s important for business owners to have strong leadership skills first and foremost to ensure that the business succeeds, thrives and is able to remain in business.  Leadership skills help provide a vision for business projects/products/services and are necessary to help motivate employees to be their best.

Leaders often set the tone for morale, motivation and commitment, all of which affect the stakeholders/customers and again in large part determine whether the business will succeed.

Business owners also have to be able to establish an effective organizational structure, while influencing employees and very often the business owner/leader will have the strongest influence on employees and a good leader will be able to inspire and effectively communicate the mission and the vision to the employees so they feel empowered to do their best and be their best.

The business owner/leader has to be strong enough to balance the needs of the company with the needs of the employees; balance the need to get things done with the need to teach and mentor; along with balancing good professional boundaries with the ability to be empathic and accessible all the while balancing the demands of the job with the needs of the people who work for you.

Identify what the priorities are for the leader; you must also include short- and long-term goals, balancing the daily demands with the longer-term vision and mission.  The goals must be objective and clearly defined (SMART Goals are best-Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time Bound) and should include goals related to mentoring and fostering leadership in others, stronger relationships through advocating and support when needed; they should include goals related to active listening; developing increased confidence; time management; accountability and responsibility; cognitive flexibility )able to adapt/pivot when needed); should be able to make smarter and more strategic decisions while still managing, time, tasks and people and these goals should be focused on the development of the individual.

The best leadership goals every leader should have should include, but are not limited to, developing strategic thinking; active listening; coaching and fostering growth in others/employees; delegating… they should focus on self-discipline and personal responsibility; building resilience in self and others; developing multiple areas of expertise/competence over time (as indicated in #2); learning and understanding how to effectively influence and persuade others to follow while also focusing on the big picture while minding the bottom line.

Other important things a business leader should know about leadership development goals include keeping a long term focus; development goals should be few and simple so as not to confuse, overwhelm or detract from the priorities (goals should fit the SMART format/criteria) and it’s important that the achievement of goals be recognized and rewarded relative to the impact the completion of that goals had on the individual or business/organization.  Also, measure/monitor progress toward goals and provide regular feedback and coaching as needed.  Remember, the success of any business or team is dependent on the leader. A good business owner and leader knows how to inspire and motivate, adapt and problem solve and demonstrate personal ownership and accountability and leads by example.

About the Author

StrategyDriven Expert Contributor | Dr. Aimee Harris-NewonDr. Aimee Harris-Newon Psy.D., DABPS, C.HT. is a double board certified integrative and interventional psychologist, entrepreneur, author, speaker, and master success coach. She’s considered an expert in integrative health and believes in a holistic approach-treating the body and the mind.

She leads a very successful integrative and functional health and wellness practice, serving clients locally and internationally. She and her multidisciplinary team focus on wellness, preventive care and coaching to help people live healthier, happier and more satisfying lives. What makes her truly unique and exceptional is her broad and deep skill set and her approach to health and wellness.

As the founder and director of Dr. Aimee and Associates, and now The Center for Integrative and Functional Health and Wellness, Dr. Aimee Harris-Newon and her team of experts don’t just treat symptoms, they solve health problems, create better outcomes and change lives.

As a coach, Dr. Aimee Harris-Newon has worked with individuals and corporations including FedEx, UPS, McDonald’s, Red Bull and the U.S. Army. She is a frequent speaker at Harvard and regularly appears on television news shows such as ABC, NBC, and FOX. Dr. Aimee Harris-Newon also hosts the popular radio show, Mind Over Matters on AM 820, which airs every Sunday morning at 10 a.m. CST.

Improve Workplace Safety With Cooperative Efforts

StrategyDriven Corporate Cultures Article | Improve Workplace Safety With Cooperative EffortsEvery day, people head to work believing they will complete their allotted hours and duties and then go home safely. It’s true that everyone deserves to have a safe working environment, and many businesses take steps to make sure employees are safe. However, many workplace accidents still happen.

Understand That Safety Impacts Everyone

Employee safety is important for everyone at the worksite whether it is a low-risk office environment or a high-risk off-shore mining site. When employees get injured at work, this affects their ability to take home a paycheck and it negatively impacts the employers’ bottom line. Additionally, this leads to added responsibilities for other employees. It’s very important that employers, supervisors, and everyone else at the worksite cooperate to prevent injuries and accidents.

Identify Common Causes of Accidents and Injuries

One of the first steps to reducing the occurrence of workplace accidents is identifying the most common causes of accidents. According to Travelers Insurance, the situations most likely to cause injuries are:

  • Material handling, with 32 percent of claims
  • Falls, slips, and trips, 16 percent
  • Colliding with or being struck by an object, 10 percent
  • Use of tools, 7 percent
  • Overuse, strain, and other traumas that occur over time, 4 percent

In addition to understanding how most accidents happen, it’s also valuable to understand which injuries are most likely to happen. The following numbers also come from Travelers Insurance:

  • Strains and sprains
  • Cuts and punctures
  • Contusions (bruises, for example)
  • Inflammation
  • Fractures (such as broken bones)

These numbers can help you understand where to start reducing your risks; for the best results, contact your workplace insurance provider for a more specific risk rundown.

Build a Culture of Safety

Remember that no matter how well you complete the following suggestions, if everyone in your workplace isn’t involved in improving safety, then everyone will be at risk for accidents and injuries. Improve results by showing your employees that you place a high priority on safety. Implement procedures that encourage safety, even when this means slowing down work processes, and then find a way to reward workers who support those safety measures.

Increase Workplace Safety

There are many things you can do to increase safety, reduce employee injuries, and protect yourself from workers compensation claims:

  • Keep common areas clean and uncluttered, provide good lighting, and use slip-resistant flooring materials.
  • Train employees to use equipment appropriately, including ladders, heavy machinery, and even staplers. Provide ongoing training to make sure all employees are up to date.
  • Education employees about physical safety and ergonomics. Heavy lifting is a task that employees complete in offices, warehouses, factories, and many other worksites. When you teach your employees to lift and handle materials safely, you could reduce some of the 36 percent of injuries that fall into this category. Physical safety in offices can be increased through a better understanding of ergonomics.
  • Post and send safety reminders. A well-placed Accident Prevention Safety Poster can help employees remember to wear their hard hats. Office-wide memos can remind staff to participate in first aid courses. Regular reminders to put phones down while walking through the worksite may reduce slip and fall injuries.
  • Create an incentive program that rewards individuals and teams for improving workplace safety. Remind employees to be alert at all times, slow down enough to complete tasks safely, wear required safety gear, and follow instructions fully.

It takes time to change behavior in the workplace, but it is possible to see improvement with consistency.

Create a Cycle of Safety Improvement

Even minor accidents or injuries can cause missed days of work, loss of income, decreased workplace efficiency, and workers’ compensation claims. When safety issues are addressed quickly and business leaders emphasize workplace safety, employees will participate in a culture of safety. This creates a cycle of improvement that is beneficial to everyone in the workplace.

The Demotivated Employee: What Causes Employees to Lose Their Motivation?

StrategyDriven Managing Your People Article | The Demotivated Employee: What Causes Employees to Lose Their Motivation?Think of the last time you started something new… you were so excited that you couldn’t sleep the night before… you woke up without the alarm… etc.  That is what motivation looks like. It may have lasted a long time, or perhaps it dropped off like a waterfall once you got to work. Has this ever happened to you?

It’s likely that you can relate because most of us, at some point in our careers, have had this happen to us. In fact, my colleague, Dr. Cathy Bush and I, have heard lots of stories from MBA students describing similar situations in their professional lives. Because we’ve heard these stories so much, we decided to do some digging to figure out what was causing employees, who were once highly driven and committed to the work, to lose their motivation. And what we discovered were five sources of demotivation or factors that contributed to employees losing their motivation. However, not only did we identify the sources, but we also pinpointed behaviors that leaders can execute to prevent demotivation from occurring in the first place. Or, if it does happen, to help repair the damage that’s been done and to help employees regain their “motivation mojo.”

So, here are the five sources of demotivation and what leaders can do.

  1. Individual differences. Your personality, attitude and competence play a role in keeping you motivated. For instance, when we work in positions that are suited to our personality preferences, we’re more likely to keep the motivation that we brought to the work and to contribute in meaningful ways. Or when we’re feeling good about our ability to complete tasks or to perform well in our job, we’re more likely to be motivated. While this source is primarily attributable to the individual, it doesn’t mean the manager doesn’t have a role to play too. Because of the pandemic, employees may have new responsibilities and find themselves in situations where they may not be prepared or have the necessary skills. It’s important for managers to pay attention and help their employees to “get up to speed.” The sooner you do this, the sooner your employees can gain the necessary competence and confidence to perform their new tasks successfully and fulfill their job responsibilities.
  2. Stress. It will come as no surprise that stressful work conditions can cause employees to burn out and dread going to work. While stress can give us short-term boosts to meet deadlines, it can become debilitating, adversely affecting our health and well-being, when it returns frequently or lasts for long periods of time. How leaders respond during times of stress is critical. Given the sudden changes and uncertainty that have occurred as a result of the pandemic, employees are stressed. So, as a manager, take the time to have a one-on-one conversation with your employees to talk about how their adjusting to the new changes and to see what’s working and what’s not. This will give you the opportunity not only to listen and to empathize, but to work with the employee to address stressors the individual is dealing with.
  3. Organizational culture. Culture is a big deal. The significance of culture is rooted in the fact that it consists of core values that permeate every part of the organization from norms to decision making. People often choose to work for an organization because the culture “fits” their preferences for how they want to work. Kim Cameron and Robert Quinn (2011) have identified four cultures that are indicative of most organizations: clan, adhocracy, hierarchy and market. Each of these cultures has a unique set of values that influence multiple facets of the organization from the flow of information to how firms integrate standardized processes and procedures. If there’s a “mismatch” between the organizational culture and how an employee prefers to work, there’s a chance the employee will no longer be motivated. So, leaders should pay attention to how social distancing and remote work are affecting their culture. For example, adhocracy cultures are characterized by lots of collaboration and teamwork in order to drive innovation in the marketplace. Replicating those values in your new “virtual” culture will be important, so employees continue to work in ways that are congruent with the values that caused them to choose your company.
  4. Conflict with co-workers.Conflict is going to happen. It’s inevitable. When you bring together people from diverse backgrounds, with different ideas, agendas and experiences, you’re going to have conflict. So, don’t be afraid of it. Conflict, if it’s managed well, can be healthy for the organization. How so? Well, when conflict surfaces because employees have different ideas about how to roll out a new product, as an example, this can be a good thing for the organization. Why? Because the manager can use this opportunity to create a hearty debate that allows employees to really “drill down” on which idea makes the most sense based upon data. This can result in the company achieving a better outcome than if everyone simply agreed upon everything from the outset. Being able to do this in a way that doesn’t result in hurt feelings and winners and losers, will require leaders to create the cultural conditions that allow employees to see conflict as something to be embraced, rather than something to be avoided.
  5. Leadership Styles. We’ve heard the saying, “people quit their bosses, not their jobs.” How leaders behave when managing their folks has a profound impact on employees. When managers show that they trust employees and allow them to give input to decisions, they create an environment where employees feel valued and are more likely to be committed. However, when leaders fail to keep employees informed with timely and relevant information, or don’t ask for their input on decisions or ignore obstacles that are getting in the way, employees will lose their motivation over time. Because these “failures” adversely affect employee engagement and motivation, leaders should pay special attention to them during this time of crisis. Given all of the uncertainty and angst about how the virus may affect the business and jobs, managers must ensure that communication is honest and ongoing. Employees can handle the truth. It’s important that you tell them. Keeping employees informed about what’s going on, removing obstacles that are getting in the way of their remote work and soliciting their input, where appropriate, can go a long way towards helping employees to maintain their motivation, in spite of the difficult circumstances.

Imagine if we lived in a “work world” where employees woke up every day excited to go to the office? It may sound like “pie in the sky,” but actually it’s not. If it were, then we wouldn’t have the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For™ list. By attending to the five sources of demotivation, leaders can create workplaces where employees are highly motivated and engaged. So, in the words of the great philosopher, Yoda, “Do. Or do not. There is no try.” Let’s stop causing employees to be demotivated, and instead, behave in ways that cause them to keep their “motivation mojo.”

About the Author

StrategyDriven Expert Contributor | Tara PetersTara Peters, Ph.D., is a gifted educator, TED Talk speaker, bestselling author, and international consultant with a client list that includes Coca-Cola, Allstate, Walmart, and Ocwen. A professional educator for more than 26 years, she currently serves as a professor at Northwood University’s Richard DeVos Graduate School of Management and as academic dean for its Texas campus. She is the co-author of the new book The Demotivated Employee: Helping Leaders Solve the Motivation Crisis That is Plaguing Business.