Encouraging Productivity in the Workplace

Entrepreneur Magazine recently published an article discussing the ways in which company owners can hamper the productivity of their employees. The author of the article, Jason W. Womak, found that employers play a massive role in how effectively their workforce functions.  He lists micro-management, lack of acknowledgement and interruptions amongst the worst productivity downers. 

While this is an aspect of the work environment to which employers need to pay careful attention – the success of the business is reliant on the output of the people who work there – this can be a tricky issue to navigate. One only needs to take a look at Womak’s suggestions below to see that a great boss who strives to encourage productivity amongst their workforce needs to know where the fine line is between being involved and being too involved. 

For example, Womak comments that employers need to promote better communication with their employees, leaving room for them to ask all the right questions before embarking on any given task. On the other hand, he also notes that a good boss should not interrupt their staff members every time they need something, but rather forewarn them of conversations which need to take place via e-mail.

How a little kindness could boost your business results

Could a greater element of empathy improve your business performance? This was the question raised by an article entitled “Empathy: The last big business taboo?” recently published by The Guardian. The article questions why so many women find it difficult to thrive in corporate environments, revealing that 41 percent of women leave the corporate environment in less than ten years.

It further discusses the possibility that this is due to women being “empathisers” while men tend to be “systemisers”, and corporates often favour systemisers whilst place comparatively little value on empathisers. This trend is concerning when one considers the findings of the Harvard Business Review which showed that companies which boasted strong emotional intelligence outperformed their systematic rivals by 20 percent. It was discovered that businesses across a wide range of industries were able to improve their business results with increased empathy.

The article’s findings are not that surprising, when one considers that companies are comprised of individuals, whether men or women, who respond well to genuine human interaction. The same can be said of a business’s client base. Surely companies which are adept at facilitating both the functional and emotional aspects of their business will hold a competitive edge? In light of this, companies led by wise management teams should prioritise the practise of empathy as much as they would focus on the development of any other business skill.

What sport can teach you about running a successful business

It takes significant mental strength to run a marathon, so too, to run a business. In his article titled Five Business Lessons from Marathon Training, recently published by Forbes, David Schnurman argues that there are valuable business lessons to be learnt from marathon training. Schnurman confesses to having made every excuse in the book when it comes to exercise, but over the past three years has run over 1000 miles and three marathons. His secret? Accepting 100% responsibility for his life and honouring his commitment to run.

Here are a few insights from his journey which he feels can also be useful in business:

1. Follow through with your commitment. Difficult challenges are bound to arise but never allow these to cause you to waver in your commitment. Schnurman details a number of complications such as knee injuries, work commitments and hours spent awake at night with newborn babies which surfaced during his training, but unwilling to break his commitment, he persevered.

2. Develop a clear goal with a definite plan. There are considerable benefits to having a training schedule – the stability of having a concrete plan to work against makes it easy to focus on developing your mental toughness. Schnurman believes that this is applicable to business as well, saying that if you don't have to expend any more energy developing a goal or plan, you'll have the mental toughness to hang on during difficult times.

Balancing work with pleasure

In an article entitled, 4 Pieces of Career Advice You Should Never Listen to, recently published by Policymic, Karen Mishra discusses some of the most common pieces of career advice which also tend to be extremely unhelpful. Perhaps the most important point she raises is around choosing a career which speaks to your passion, as opposed to one which pays the bills. It’s fairly common for comments such as, “If you follow your true passion you’ll never work a day in your life,” to be thrown around, but this offers a completely unbalanced view of working life. 

It’s true that in order to feel fulfilled, we need to pursue careers which allow us to feel competent and to feel as though we are making a valuable contribution. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that we need to pursue our greatest passions in order to achieve this. For instance, while your passion might be art, you may find yourself perfectly happy in a career in law.  It’s necessary to consider that it would be difficult to lead a peaceful and happy life when you are constantly plagued by financial concerns and eventually you might even start to resent that passion which once made you feel alive. 

As Mishra points out, it’s wisest to try and balance commitments with hobbies. By all means, carry on taking that art class, but make sure that you have a reliable source of income which gives you peace of mind where finances are concerned.

One Skill to Master Them All

Could there really be one integrally important skill that eclipses all others? A discipline which, if mastered, will enable all the other skills you possess to flourish? Maryling Yu believes there is. In her article, The Most Important Skill in Life (It’s Not What You Think), Yu argues that the ability to become happy and stay happy is the number one key to personal development.

Yu’s logic is simple. While many others, when questioned about the most valuable skills in the workplace, will likely respond with focus, communication or leadership skills, Yu believes that none of these capabilities are truly effective unless you have learnt to master your emotions. Those  who have  learnt to master their feelings are able to pick and choose their emotions according to what will suit them best at that particular point in time. Then, once they are in control of how they feel, they can begin to implement focus, effective communication and great leadership.   

Yu suggests that it all comes down to ownership of your emotions.  Most of the time we allow others and their actions to dictate  our feelings, rather than taking ownership of them ourselves. For example,  when we get angry – “John has made me really angry”, or when we find ourselves feeling down – “That meeting has left me feeling upset”. We’re allowing the actions of other to determine how we feel and in turn how we behave.