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Increasing Productivity

4 Key Principles For Building A Team You Can Trust

Making the shift from managing your vision to executing it requires handing the operational reigns of your business over to your employees. Here’s how you make the leap.

Brian Eagar

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As an entrepreneur and passionate business owner, I know that entrusting your business to your team feels like putting your heart in their hands. In fact, this is how it should be and it should never change.

You should not lose your passion for your business; you should inspire and empower your team to execute your purpose and vision with as much care and expertise as you would.

I would like to suggest the following four principles as keys to building a strong team you can trust:

1Inspire your team with your purpose and vision

Inspiring your team requires communicating a clear purpose with heart, and sustaining it by your powerful example. This purpose should be freed from your own ego, fluid enough to be embraced by your entire team and lived by you every day. Team members must understand and experience how their efforts contribute to the big picture or you will be bogged down by the operational details.

There is a familiar story about how Walt Disney inspired his team to execute his vision for the first fully animated feature film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: He spent three-and-a-half hours telling them the story and acting out each character with such passion that it inspired them to spend the next four years making his vision a reality.

Related: How to Master the ‘70% Rule’ of Delegation

The wisdom and success of Walt Disney’s example is apparent in this comment from the company CEO Bob Iger, who said, “95% of the decisions made at the company are made by other people.”

Are you communicating your vision effectively and inspiring your team to think for themselves? Or are you communicating instructions?

Communicating your vision has the potential to become self-sustaining; communicating instructions never will. If your team understands and embraces your vision completely, they will find a way to make it happen. Even if it is not your way, it will be your vision, which is all that matters.

2Empower them to make their own decisions

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Performing through others is not a new concept. Arthur Elliott Carlisle published an article in Organisational Dynamics in 1995 about a refinery manager he interviewed and named MacGregor for anonymity. He wrote: MacGregor’s overriding concern was with results: The results his subordinates achieved through methods they developed either by themselves or by working with their peers. He simply refused to do their work for them, even at the risk of incurring short-run costs. By refusing, he enabled them to grow in terms of their ability to make decisions even under conditions of uncertainty.

MacGregor’s plant was the most efficient in the corporation and many of his managers were promoted to manage their own plants. This can be credited to his relentless, active approach to empowering them to make their own decisions. However, in order to achieve results, you must provide your team members with the necessary means and ability. This will take time initially, but it’s well worth the investment.

Firstly, you have to take the time to engage with your team members individually and understand their aspirations, passions and abilities. You cannot effectively lead or empower someone you don’t know. You have to know whether they are appointed in the right position and what they need to achieve success.

Once you understand them, you need to invest more time in empowering them. This can be outsourced to an extent by enrolling them on leadership courses and skills training, but it has to be supported by your example and engagement, continuously inspiring them with the purpose and vision of the company.

Finally, you need to trust your team with the responsibility. You have to trust them to the extent that you are prepared to create a space for them to come up with their own solutions and learn from their mistakes. There can be no mixed messages regarding who is accountable for the outcome. If you don’t give them the platform, they can’t step up to the plate.

3Keep them accountable for the results

Relying on your team to make the decisions does not mean you hand over the reins. Like MacGregor, taking the time to empower your team (lead factor) means you are free to focus on the results (lag factor). I think most leaders are more afraid of holding their teams accountable than they are willing to admit.

They prefer to do or re-do something themselves, rather than addressing it with the person responsible for the outcome. This is one of the worst mistakes you can make as an entrepreneur because it leaves the business utterly dependent on you and your judgement.

Related: 7 Solutions to Effective Delegation

Keeping your team accountable will ensure you take the business forward as a collective. If things are going well, it’s your responsibility to ensure that the team doesn’t get comfortable and still make the most of opportunities. When things are not going so well, it is incumbent on you to drive the necessary conversations and actions to hold team members accountable and to address challenges that inhibit success.

Are you communicating your vision effectively and inspiring your team to think for themselves?  Or are you communicating  instructions?  Communicating your vision has  the potential  to become self-sustaining; communicating  instructions never will.

4Keep empowering yourself

Another vital element of focusing on the results is defining them. It’s critical to realise that determining the direction and growth of the company is your core responsibility. This is where you must focus the bulk of your time.

To do this effectively, you must commit to learning on a continuous basis and be the example for your team. It is critical that you empower yourself to fulfil your true role of being an effective leader and influential strategist. Take the time to familiarise yourself with the factors that could influence your business and acquire the knowledge and connections that will enable you to position your company favourably. When Charles Brindamour became CEO of Intact, he blocked three to four hours every morning to gain a better understanding of areas that could influence his company or the lives of his employees.

However, learning is about more than just acquiring the information. You have to be open to adapt your views, and even your vision, according to the knowledge you gain. In Vince Barabba’s book, The Decision Loom: A Design for Interactive Decision-Making in Organisations, he presents a case study that investigates Kodak’s failure to adapt to a changing landscape. Even though they had very accurate information regarding how digital photography would affect their industry, they failed to shift their focus and consider digital as a replacement for film. They did not take any action to adapt, which proved to be their downfall.

As I mentioned above, your purpose and vision has to be freed from your ego. You have to be humble enough to learn from anyone who might have insight into your business, including your team.

In conclusion, executing through others means putting your heart on the line in more ways than one: This means displaying the passion in your heart, putting your heart in the hands of those you empower, opening your heart to keep them accountable and reinventing your heart to stay relevant.

Always remember: If your heart is not in it, don’t expect your team to have their hearts in it. Take care of their hearts and they will take care of yours.

Brian Eagar is a founder and CEO of the TowerStone Leadership Centre. Fuelled by his passion for empowering and inspiring people, Eagar translated this into a coaching journey that empowers leaders to inspire values-driven behaviour in their people, with the ultimate objective of fostering a sustainable, performance culture. He has over 15 years of personal executive leadership experience, seven years of executive development and facilitation experience, combined with seven years of coaching experience.

Increasing Productivity

Take Responsibility For Your Company’s Culture To Boost Productivity

A healthy culture isn’t a nice-to-have but a must-have.

John Rampton

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Whether you’re running an early-stage startup or a fast-growing company, every organisation has a culture. And it can determine whether your business succeeds or fails.

Your company’s culture comprises the actual work environment for your team and the standards everyone is held to. It also dictates how colleagues interact and communicate and the values and beliefs of your team. In fact, one survey shows that 86 percent of employees believe their company’s culture influences how productive they are.

No wonder Arianna Huffington has described corporate culture as “a company’s immune system.”

“Ultimately,” she says, “your health depends on your immune system.” Here are four ways a healthy company culture boosts morale and productivity.

It makes employees happy

A study conducted by economists at the University of Warwick found that happiness led to a 12 percent spike in productivity, while unhappy workers were 10 percent less productive. As the research team states, “We find that human happiness has large and positive causal effects on productivity. Positive emotions appear to invigorate human beings.”

If you have employees who dread coming into work and are spending more time looking at the clock than working, how productive do you really think they are? What’s more, happier employees tend to work better with others, solve problems instead of complain about them and make fewer mistakes. They also have more energy and motivation, which helps them learn faster and make better decisions.

Related: Wasted Employee Time Adds Up: Here’s How To Fix It

It promotes collaboration and stronger relationships

A healthy and positive company culture encourages your teammates to get to know one another. That friendly chatter eventually leads people to feel comfortable enough to share advice, opinions and ideas.

When there’s a large project looming, your team members will be able to work together faster and more efficiently because they know how to communicate. More importantly, this leads to your team building friendships – which has been found to increase productivity and engagement.

“People are more creative and productive when they experience more positive inner work life, including more positive emotions, stronger motivation toward the work itself and more positive perceptions of the organisation,” says Harvard Business School Professor Teresa Amabile, who co-authored “The Progress Principle.”

It inspires creativity

Let’s say that an employee or colleague comes to you with a suggestion. If you immediately dismiss her idea, do you think she’ll come to you the next time she has an “aha” moment?

Healthy company cultures encourage people to be creative through brainstorming sessions and new responsibilities. This not only gives them a chance to be heard, but it also helps them look for unique ways to solve problems.

It influences individual mindsets

Company culture also affects how each team member views his or her individual performance. It shouldn’t comes as a surprise, then, that healthy cultures foster more high-performing team members. Aaron Schmookler, leadership coach and co-founder of TheYesWorks, a training and team-building organization, calls this positive peer pressure.

“Why do aspiring Olympians train with other aspiring Olympians?” he asks. “In part, they want the high-performance drive to rub off on them if they don’t have as much of it as they wish.”

According to Schmookler, even when someone already has a high-performance mindset, she’ll want to keep it and deepen it so she can keep pushing forward. Being surrounded by others pushing for greatness makes the hard work feel easy.

Schmookler also says the opposite is true.

“We’ve all heard of workplaces where a new person comes into a low-performance culture and people tell them, ‘slow down.’ ‘You’re making us look bad.’ High-performance cultures have people who instead say, ‘Pick it up. You can do it.’”

Related: 7 Ways To Get Better At Working With Others

How to avoid toxicity

There’s a strong correlation between morale and productivity. If you want your team to be more productive, you’re going to have to foster a healthy and positive work culture. Emma Seppala, Ph.D., and Kim Cameron, Ph.D., suggest in Harvard Business Review that you can achieve this by fostering social connections.

Encourage your teammates to get to know each other by hosting social events or having them eat lunch together. You must also get away from your desk and have face-to-face interactions with your team. Go out of your way to help as well.

Leaders who are fair and self-sacrificing inspire employees to become more loyal and committed. If your team is swamped, step in to help. Encourage people to talk to you – don’t brush someone off when he has a problem. It gets the problem off his mind, which means he can focus on work.

A healthy culture isn’t a nice-to-have but a must-have. Culture exists, whether we actively cultivate it or let it develop on its own. To get the most productivity you can, make sure to build an environment where people feel respected and inspired. It will not only make your employees happier, but it will also fuel high-quality work.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Increasing Productivity

Why You Should Gamify Your Business

Businesses do not succeed unless we understand why they operate and what their founder’s intentions are for creating the business.

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Sweat pouring down his forehead, staring intently at the chessboard, an anxious Bobby Fischer faces imminent defeat. A few uncharacteristic blunders at the beginning of the game has the audience on pins and needles. It’s the height of the cold war and a stalemate between Boris Spassky has an unnatural weight for a chess match. The cameras cramp the space, distracting Fischer and causing him to throw the game. Then another.

Anxiety is higher than ever. Finally, Fischer demands that cameras stop piercing the so-called “Match of the Century.” Then, suddenly, he began to win. He won again and again until finally, he was unstoppable. Final score: Fischer, 12 and one half, Spassky, 8 and one half. Fischer was now the undisputed world champion and the world couldn’t stop talking about it.

Why games motivate us so deeply

How could a game, a game that later wasn’t even televised, capture the world’s attention? How could a simple chess match capture the imagination of an entire generation?

Games are powerful things. Unlike real life, games have clear goals, constant coaching, and immediate feedback. There are points, winners, losers, upsets, dark horses, and reigning champions. Everything is organised in a refreshingly understandable, trackable way. Experiences are tallied into points, matches are organised into tournaments with the promise of prizes, advancement, and adulation.

Gamification, in this sense, is actually quite old. It has been practiced for generations. For time immemorial, games have taught us important skills, both technical and social. Now, however, a few game changers are using gamification to create outstanding products and drive business goals.

Related: 3 Ways Workplace Gamification Can Backfire – And How To Avoid Them

 How gamifying a business task works

In business practices, you can use gamification to help motivate employees and to understand the motivations of your customers, clients, and business partners. When put into practice, this can mean major surges in productivity and profitability. Think about it: We often have friendly competitions among team members to help motivate them to perform to the best of their ability. This is a simple gamification strategy that can be implemented in any business to a wonderful result.

Gamification, according to Yu-kai Chou, author of Actionable Gamification and pioneer within the gamification industry, is a mixture of game design, gaming dynamics, motivational psychology, user experience design, neurobiology, technology platforms, and behavioural economics. This may sound like a loose classification of complex and disparate fields, but it’s actually an adept definition of an all-encompassing philosophy on life and what motivates us to do what we do in our daily lives.

The drives that motivate us

What about gamification makes the philosophy so effective? There are eight core principles that are considered what is called the “octalysis,” a conceptualisation created by Yu-kai Chou. Basically, Chou posits that eight core drives motivate us in every facet of our lives. Not only can we use these drives in our personal lives, we can also use them in our work and business lives.

A mixture of drives can give us varying degrees of interest, dedication, and motivation. These core drives are as follows according to the octalysis: meaning, accomplishment, empowerment, ownership, social influence, unpredictability, scarcity, and avoidance.

The last three mentioned on the list can be used in negative ways to achieve participation. For example, using avoidance, or the feeling that you must act in order not to lose something can cause people to feel manipulated in the long-term. However, avoidance can be built into your motivation matrix if used properly and sparingly.

Truly, each drive has to be used with context, in the same way employing avoidance has to be monitored and managed. All these motivations can be employed to help better your organisation by finding those key intrinsic and extrinsic motivators that help you accomplish your business goals.

Gamification is the simple practice of identifying motivating factors and qualifying them through a myriad of ways.

In some cases, gamification boils down to simply analysing our motivations accurately so that we can either change them or manipulate them to better serve us. There is no better arena for this time of analysis and planning than business.

Businesses do not succeed unless we understand why they operate and what their founder’s intentions are for creating the business.

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Increasing Productivity

Wise Words From wiGroup On Building A “Wow” Company Culture

wiGroup has three underlying visions that form the basis of the business’s culture. Bevan Ducasse calls them the 3Ps.

Nadine Todd

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1. Passionate people

I loved the idea of starting a business and coming to work each day with passionate people who love what they do. Working in corporate there were too many people who just wanted to get to the weekend, and I found that really sad. You go through your whole life not enjoying what you do. One of the main books I read that got me there was Richard Branson’s Screw it, Let’s do it. His whole philosophy is about fun and loving what you do.

We even have a full-time coach that everyone can access. It’s up to you to book time with him, but everyone does, thanks to a culture of self-growth and personal development. His time is fully booked. I had to build a business case to justify the hire, but I worked out that If I increased the productivity of 100 people by 10%,  you effectively have ten more people working in the business. It’s hard to put a tangible number on it, but what we’ve seen is that the productivity, attitude, leadership and personal growth equates to roughly 20% across the organisation of 150 people.

I believe that great organisations find people and make them come alive in what they’re brilliant at. There are things I don’t like or am not good at that other people love. If you’re not good at something, get the right person in. Focus on what you’re brilliant at to move the needle. But do the same for your employees. We all have aspects of the job we need to do that we don’t love, but the core of what we do should align with our passions.

2. Remarkable product

We’re passionate about building solutions that add value to people’s lives. How do we add value? We never build products for the sake of it — everything we do fulfils a purpose.

Related: Strong Company Culture Fattens The Bottom Line

3. Profit

This speaks to the sustainability of the business, which ultimately comes down to balancing people, product and profit. Just chasing profit without a focus on product isn’t sustainable, and nor is looking after people and not profit. But you can never lose sight of your people either. If you’re running a company and focusing on your product IP, you’re missing the mark — this speaks to how fast things are changing. Your IP is your human capital. That is the one thing that will give you a competitive edge over five, ten or even fifteen years. The product you have now won’t give you the competitive advantage in ten years.

This vision is completely ingrained across our team: That’s what we’re about, seeing people come alive, building amazing products, and being sustainable in terms of the profits we generate.

Lessons Learnt

1. There’s no such thing as an ‘aha’ moment

It’s not about one good decision I’ve made; it’s about the thousands of little decisions we make every single day as a team that make a business. For me it’s about the fundamentals that you buy into, and that’s people, products and profit. We’ve launched products that fail and others that are a huge success. To get through the failures it’s important to focus on a philosophy of how and what we want to be as a company.

2. Add value first

Our mindset is to add value. It’s the grit that pushes us through failure and keeps 150 people focused and doing great things. I am one of many people. I have a strong role, but I’m still one of many. When you’re looking outward at what you do for others, you stay motivated. A lot of what we do is helping a retailer understand how to unlock third party value. We will connect two brands who we believe could work well together, like a Discovery and a Kauai. Did you know that you could drive value to this retailer, and that retailer could add value to you? We all live in our own worlds and verticals, but knowledge is power. The greater your understanding of the landscape and synergies around you, the more value you can add.

Related: Starbucks Coffee Is All About Culture… For A Reason

3. Business is creativity

You need to be open and teachable and have a mindset that says ‘you’re never there, there’s always something more to learn.’ That’s how you foster creativity and innovation, by always asking what’s next, and how to make something better.

4. Never stop learning

You don’t have to read 50 books a year — two great books a year can give you incredible insights if you implement what you’ve learnt. There’s so much you can learn from the people around you too — ask questions, join networks and find a mentor.

5. Raise leaders, not followers

This is crucial. You need to find the right people, and then empower them to lead. I realised this a few years ago — if I really wanted to scale the business I needed to raise people who were leaders and wouldn’t just follow me. The top level of leadership is the ability to raise other leaders up, and that’s where we should all aspire to be. 

Related: 5 Inexpensive Ways to Create a Company Culture Like Google’s

6. Focus

This is a big one for me, and we learnt it the hard way. We were doing too much, we lacked focus and clarity. These are such powerful tools. If you can bring clarity to teams, you create a clear picture that everyone can follow. Delve into the details — what are you doing, why are you doing it, what does good and great look like, what are your timelines?

The clearer the picture, the exponentially higher the chances are of a team being successful. This includes targets. These shouldn’t be a shot in the dark — they should be unpacked, examined and clarified.

7. The best defense is a strong offence

Worrying about competitors serves no-one — it just keeps you up at night. Instead, you should be pushing yourself — how can we do this better? Keep looking for the next thing to do and improve, and then execute it properly. If someone disrupts us and I know we did the best we could and gave everything — I’ll sleep well at night. But if it’s because we became complacent and rested on our laurels? Well then, we deserved it.

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