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It is not a secret that job satisfaction in this country is not where it should be. A 2014 Conference Board report says that the majority of Americans (52.3%) are unhappy at work. What makes our workers happiest? The CB report says that “interest in work” provides satisfaction to 59% of the workplace. Even more fulfilling was “people at work,” which 60.6% said they liked. Similarly, an expansive study by Boston Consulting Group found that the No. 1 factor for employee happiness on the job is getting appreciated for work. The question for me is this: If interpersonal relationships and the expression of appreciation are so important to employees, why aren’t leaders spending more time doing it?

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How to get back into a routine

Mondays can be challenging. As the first day back to work, it requires us to leave behind our relaxing weekends and jump back into the grind. Making matters worse, we have to reestablish routines that got interrupted by the relative serenity of Saturday and Sunday. No wonder some studies find Monday to be the second least productive day of the work week, after Friday.

Legal holidays present similar challenges. With a few right around the corner, it would be wise for us to review some ways to jump back into work feet first and get more done.

Since R+R is often associated with a weekend’s gift of “rest and relaxation”, let’s use R+S to connote Monday’s “return and success”.

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What to do When Your Clients Disappear

Recently, I have encountered an unexpected spate of established, solid client relationships that simply vanished in thin air. Retirements, changes in title or budget, or shifting priorities have led to a number of longstanding, strong client relationships to go up in smoke. Rather than basing my work schedule on a predictable stream that I built over time with these clients, I have been forced to act quickly to develop new relationships and rebuild my base.

Unfortunately, no one is immune to sudden, impactful changes to their clients or their clients’ needs. Despite many years of exemplary service, market, company or personal factors can force service providers and sellers to have to start again.

Here are some strategies that can help preempt such change and minimize its impact.

  1. Always be in client creation mode – Regardless of how many clients you have in the bag, it’s imperative to continually create new ones. This is true even if you’re at capacity and can’t seem to find time to make new connections, let alone serve them. Make the time to regularly connect with new people, at conferences, online, or one on one, even if it means hiring someone to do some of your own work. Then, find ways to keep them in the window of engagement, such as adding them to a waiting list and an email list. Regularly check in on them and add value to the relationship.

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Confront With Care

Few leaders can avoid confrontation. There are simply too many items and employees that require oversight and guidance. The likelihood is very high that every leader will need to address numerous areas of concern within her organization at various points.

Whether the matter is personal (a coworker's attitude or manners, for example) or performance related, confronting someone about an issue can be one of the hardest things for a leader to do. It is generally unpleasant for someone to have to bring this concern forward and demand change and improvement. In fact, many leaders will go to extreme lengths to avoid it. Some reasons for this include:

  • Fear of how your relationship will be affected moving forward;

  • Concern over being seen as overly demanding or callous;

  • Bad feelings from past confrontations that went awry;

  • Second-guessing and questioning ourselves regarding our grounds and motives for the confrontation;

  • Negative memories from times that we were confronted by others.

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13 "S" Hacks to Increase Productivity

A recent report from the US Department of Labor confirms what many of us already suspect. Employee productivity is on the decline, with increases in email to respond to, web surfing, daily meetings, and poor management partly to blame (though meetings and idea sharing, while not productive per se, can and often do yield positive benefits.) Many leaders and managers similarly are also not as productive as they once were.

Let’s be honest. Staying productive can be tough, especially for folks who need to use their minds (to manage others, plan and be strategic, produce content, develop code, solve problems, coach, etc.) and / or pound the pavement to generate sales or other deliverables.

To help us become more productive, and to make the list more memorable, I compiled a list of “s” productivity pointers. They are in no particular order.

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When NOT to Delegate

As valuable as delegation can be, there are times where it’s simply not advisable. The following list presents when it’s better to not delegate but rather keep the project for yourself:

  1. The task has not been fully thought through – If you aren’t able to explain the task and its goals in concrete terms, then you have more work to do before handing it off to someone else to accomplish.

  2. The project must be done in a specific way – In some situations, such as an intricate project that you developed and possess intimate knowledge of, delegation may create more problems than benefits.

  3. It takes more time for explain what to do than to just do it yourself – This assumes that this is a one-off project that just needs to be done and taken off the list. A recurring project or one that will provide opportunity for meaningful subordinate development should not be included in this list.

  4. When you really enjoy doing it – There’s nothing wrong with doing some things that can be taken over by others but still provide you with a positive burst of motivation or excitement, such as greeting students and parents in carpool. But learn to limit these so that you can ensure that you’re still doing the work that you really need to be doing.

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Adding a Sense of Urgency to Your Work

Research is clear that people respond better – both qualitatively and in terms of completion time – when there is a sense of urgency to their work. While it’s important that leaders not overplay the urgency card (that can dull people’s responsiveness and induce unneeded stress) with their teams, there are many benefits to strategically adding an element of healthy pressure to the workplace.

Here are some “E.A.R.N.E.S.T.” ways to increase a sense of urgency at work:

  • Expectations – The first thing that people need to know is where things stand and what needs to change. Once you get your team clear on where they are and what needs to happen, you can reasonably expect that they will focus their efforts and energy to move things forward.   

  • Awareness – They also should be made aware of why this task is of increased importance, as in what’s going to happen if nothing changes. In my example, it would be that we need to prioritize dismantling the sukkah to ensure that it gets into the shed before the sky opens up and everything gets soaked. Your consequence may relate to losing customers, taking a loss on a faulty product or service, or an opportunity to gain market share.

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How to Decide What to Delegate

In our last post on delegation, we focused on situational leadership and how it impacts the role a leader plays in transferring work and responsibility to others. In this post the focus will shift to when one should delegate, and when one shouldn’t.

Choosing tasks to delegate can be trickier than it seems. There are some tasks, such as high-risk or crisis-related activities, that leaders should never delegate. Other responsibilities, including those that will be performed once or rarely and require much guidance and direction, should also not be included.

To determine when delegation is most appropriate, consider these key questions:

  1. Is this a task that someone else can do, or is it critical that you do it yourself?

  2. Is there someone else who has (or can be given) the necessary information or expertise to complete the task?

  3. Does the task provide an opportunity to grow and develop another person's skills?

  4. Is this a task that will recur with some frequency, in a similar form, in the future?

  5. Do you have enough time to delegate the job effectively and stay on top of things? Time must be available for adequate training, for questions and answers, to check in on progress, and to re-imagine/rework when necessary.

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Learn to Let it Go

When I say that haven’t recited this prayer properly I refer mainly to the above paragraph. After all, there have been people who have hurt me, sometimes in serious ways. They seemed very content with their behavior and most did not seek forgiveness. Even though I recognize that if we all – myself included – willingly forgave one another then we would all be able to approach God for the atonement that we desperately seek. But still, it was so hard to forgive sometimes, especially is their behavior hurt my career and/or affected my family. I suspect that most of us have struggled with this point. We simply have a hard time letting go and are prepared to hold grudges indefinitely when we feel that we were right, even to our own detriment.

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