If you want to make sure you’re providing your employees with an environment in which they can thrive, check your workplace for these motivation killers.
1. Toxic people.
If you’ve ever spent time with truly toxic people, you know how destructive and exhausting they can be. Toxic people spread negativity and suffocate the positive. Let them find a new home–or, if that’s not possible, make sure policies and supervision are in place to minimize their damage.
2. No professional development.
Everyone needs to know that they are learning and growing. Without that, the workplace grows static and dull. Professional development for each of your employees allows them grow in their careers and also to know that both the organization and you have an investment in their success.
3. Lack of vision.
A clearly communicated vision sets direction and lets people know where to focus. Without it, even the best employees are less effective, because it’s hard to excel if you don’t understand the big picture.
4. Wasted time.
If you have the kind of workplace where meetings are called for no real reason and emails are sent to everyone with irrelevant information, it’s likely that your workers are deeply frustrated. Show people you value them by showing them you value their time.
5. Inadequate communication.
When communication is poor, people spend half their time second-guessing what they’re doing, critical tasks are missed, nonessential jobs are duplicated, information is locked into silos, and destructive rumors thrive. A clear flow of communication benefits everyone.
6. Vertical management.
If you can remember being in a situation where your ideas and input weren’t valued or even heard, where it was “keep quiet and do what I say,” you know how hard it is to do anything more than a grudging minimum. The more collaboration, the more investment and the more motivation.
7. Lack of appreciation.
When hard work or extraordinary results go unrecognized, when even everyday thanks are unexpressed, people grow uninspired and apathetic. You can reward your employees without spending a dime; it can be as simple as saying “thank you.”
8. Bad leadership.
Bad leaders harm every member of their team and their entire organization. Even the best employees need effective leadership to excel. Start with developing your own leadership, then hire and grow the best leaders at every level. It’s the best thing you can do to improve your workplace for everyone.
If you recognize any of these deathly killers in your workplace, it’s up to you to do everything in your power to become part of the solution. Remember, great people do not stay long in bad workplaces.
Most people attend networking events to gain something: job leads, referrals, exposure, connections, opportunities to grow their business. Having organized more than 50 networking events over the past 10 years, I’ve seen plenty of these people leave disappointed, dismissing networking as a complete waste of time.
But I’ve also seen the opposite. I’ve seen people walk out with a handful of business cards feeling happy, inspired and excited. The major difference between these two groups of people is this: the people who leave on a high note are those who attend with just one goal in mind — to figure out how they can help others in the room.
True networking occurs when there’s an understanding that everyone in the room has equal value. In its purest form, it’s about people enjoying other people, communicating passions and connecting with others who share those passions. It’s about listening, figuring out what others need and connecting them with people you think can help, without any designs for personal gain. The most successful networkers build genuine relationships and give more than they receive. They go beyond thinking, “What’s in it for me?” to ask “How can I help?”
To follow their approach, here are eight ways to network successfully and have fun doing it.
Start networking before you need it.
Seasoned networkers can smell the stench of desperation from across the room. People can sense when someone is only out to help himself. Tip-offs ranging from a panicked look in the eyes to a portfolio brimming with resumes will send them running in the other direction. On the other hand, by networking when you have no ulterior motive, you can begin to build relationships and a reputation for being generous rather than self-serving.
Have a plan.
Since every person has value, it’s essential that you know what yours is. Before you attend any networking event, get clear on what talents, strengths, skill sets and connections you can bring to the table. Map out what you want to talk about, particularly how you may be able to help other people, either now or in the future.
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Forget your personal agenda.
While you may be tempted to network just to land a job or talk to people you normally wouldn’t have access to, that’s a mistake. Instead, make it your goal to be open, friendly and honest, and to forge connections between people who may be able to help each other. Generosity is an attractive quality and it’s something special that people will remember about you.
Never dismiss anyone as unimportant.
Make it your mission to discover the value in each person you talk to. Ask questions and listen with interest. Don’t make the mistake of discounting people due to their titles. Someone you meet may “just” be a clerk, but they may have valuable connections or knowledge you’d never learn about if you’d dismissed them.
Then, when the conversation ends, remember what that person has to offer as you move to the next.
Connect the dots.
Once you begin to listen to people and learn what they can bring to the table, you’ll start realizing how one person in the room may be able to help another. Make it a point to connect people you feel have something of genuine value to each other. When you go out of your way to make those potentially promising connections, you’re doing your part to make the networking event a success.
Figure out how you can be useful.
Before any conversation comes to a close, be sure to ask, “How can I help you?” Because it’s done so rarely, you may encounter a surprised look, but it will most likely be accompanied by an appreciative smile. While the person may not have an answer for you that night, they may have an idea later. Always close by saying something like, “If you need anything, please reach out to me or connect via LinkedIn” and present your business card.
Follow up and follow through.
If you told someone you’d get in touch with them, do it and reaffirm your intent to assist in any way you can. If you promised to introduce someone to a person you know, take the time to do it. Everyone is busy these days with jobs, families, events, commitments – even so, it takes no more than a minute to shoot off an email to introduce two people you want to connect. They can take it from there and do the work — just enjoy being the bridge. Little things like that mean a lot to people and just one introduction can end up changing someone’s life for the better. I’ve seen it happen dozens of times and it’s quite gratifying.
Believe in the power of networking.
When you believe that the true value of networking lies in helping others and you do your part, you’ll soon discover magic happening all around you. The beauty of this approach is that you never know when that magic may cast its spell on you.
Know this: Hard work alone won’t get you there.
Success is a subjective notion, if there ever was one. But for simplicity’s sake, let’s assume the higher you are on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the better you’re doing. In case you don’t remember the levels from Psych 101, essentially, people can’t be their best possible selves (self-actualization) until lower-level needs are met first. In other words, you can’t be an ideal version of yourself if you don’t have enough food and money to pay the bills, or enough love and esteem to feel good about your value as a human being. So, what can you do to move yourself up the pyramid?
Check out the findings from several studies, which shine a light on what it takes to achieve more in life.
Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, authors of The Confidence Code, wrote a stellar article for The Atlantic on this subject. Highlighting scads of studies that have found that a wide confidence gap exists between the sexes, they point out that success is just as dependent on confidence as it is on competence. Their conclusion? Low confidence results in inaction. “[T]aking action bolsters one’s belief in one’s ability to succeed,” they write. “So confidence accumulates–through hard work, through success, and even through failure.”
Authenticity is a much sought-after leadership trait, with the prevailing idea being that the best leaders are those who self-disclose, are true to themselves, and who make decisions based on their values. Yet in a recent Harvard Business Review article titled “The Authenticity Paradox,” Insead professor Herminia Ibarra discusses interesting research on the subject and tells the cautionary tale of a newly promoted general manager who admitted to subordinates that she felt scared in her expanded role, asking them to help her succeed. “Her candor backfired,” Ibarra writes. “She lost credibility with people who wanted and needed a confident leader to take charge.” So know this: Play-acting to emulate the qualities of successful leaders doesn’t make you a fake. It merely means you’re a work in progress.
According to research conducted by University of California Santa Barbara economist Catherine Weinberger, the most successful business people excel in both cognitive ability and social skills, something that hasn’t always been true. She crunched data linking adolescent skills in 1972 and 1992 with adult outcomes, and found that in 1980, having both skills didn’t correlate with better success, whereas today the combination does. “The people who are both smart and socially adept earn more in today’s work force than similarly endowed workers in 1980,” she says.
The classic Marshmallow Experiment of 1972 involved placing a marshmallow in front of a young child, with the promise of a second marshmallow if he or she could refrain from eating the squishy blob while a researcher stepped out of the room for 15 minutes. Follow-up studies over the next 40 years found that the children who were able to resist the temptation to eat the marshmallow grew up to be people with better social skills, higher test scores, and lower incidence of substance abuse. They also turned out to be less obese and better able to deal with stress. But how to improve your ability to delay things like eating junk food when healthy alternatives aren’t available, or to remain on the treadmill when you’d rather just stop?
Writer James Clear suggests starting small, choosing one thing to improve incrementally every day, and committing to not pushing off things that take less than two minutes to do, such as washing the dishes after a meal or eating a piece of fruit to work toward the goal of eating healthier. Committing to doing something every single day works too. “Top performers in every field–athletes, musicians, CEOs, artists–they are all more consistent than their peers,” he writes. “They show up and deliver day after day while everyone else gets bogged down with the urgencies of daily life and fights a constant battle between procrastination and motivation.”
Psychologist Angela Duckworth has spent years studying kids and adults, and found that one characteristic is a significant predictor of success: grit. “Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality,” she said in a TED talk on the subject. “Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”
According to research conducted by Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, how people view their personality affects their capacity for happiness and success. Those with a “fixed mindset” believe things like character, intelligence, and creativity are unchangeable, and avoiding failure is a way of proving skill and smarts. People with a “growth mindset,” however, see failure as a way to grow and therefore embrace challenges, persevere against setbacks, learn from criticism, and reach higher levels of achievement. “Do people with this mindset believe that anyone can be anything, that anyone with proper motivation or education can become Einstein or Beethoven? No, but they believe that a person’s true potential is unknown (and unknowable); that it’s impossible to foresee what can be accomplished with years of passion, toil, and training,” she writes.
After following the lives of 268 Harvard undergraduate males from the classes of 1938 to 1940 for decades, psychiatrist George Vaillant concluded something you probably already know: Love is the key to happiness. Even if a man succeeded in work, amassed piles of money, and experienced good health, without loving relationships he wouldn’t be happy, Vaillant found. The longitudinal study showed happiness depends on two things: “One is love,” he wrote. “The other is finding a way of coping with life that does not push love away.”
How you deal with the initial 10 minutes of the workday largely can determine how effective and productive you will be the remainder of the day.
How you deal with the initial 10 minutes of the workday largely can determine how effective and productive you will be the remainder of the day.
Below is a list of 10 things the most successful individuals do within the initial 10 minutes of the workday:
Accomplishing your top goals will require you to reflect upon where you have been, where you are, as well as where you are going. Successful individuals build quiet time in and use solitude to do this first thing in the morning. They’ll ask themselves: What did I achieve toward my goals thus far this week–or the past week?What’s the status of my present projects? What will I have to achieve today in light of this?
Successful individuals take time at the start of the workday to be certain their chair is properly adjusted and the objects they access frequently–phone, keyboard, computer mouse–are all within comfortable reach. Make sure you have the right lighting. Your day is going to go well if you create an ergonomic environment that is functional.
This assists them in remembering the necessity of sticking with the plan and concentrating on the tasks that are truly important, not just urgent. Taking a mental note of the day also assists successful people in visualizing success, tremendously boosting confidence levels. Also, it can help you see where potential challenges might lie with how you have scheduled the day, in order for you to make the needed changes.
A positive result of some big-picture reflection includes the capability of better prioritizing your to-do tasks. Go above and beyond merely creating a list and challenge yourself to develop a realistic hierarchy for your tasks.
This is especially crucial if you’re a leader. However, no matter what role you are in, it is critical. Checking in and visiting with your team and boss will assist you and other people in kickstarting their day. In order to advance your career, you cannot skimp on people skills. You may be the most technically savvy individual inside the room, yet your attitude might amplify or chip away at your technical skills value. Being friendly the first thing in your morning will make the work environment more pleasant for everybody–and that humanistic approach is going to be contagious.
A strong manager takes a minute in the morning to briefly talk to his or her staff to make sure they seem motivated and engaged. At one glance, these savvy experts often can get a cursory reading of the job satisfaction and energy level of their team. If things seem awry, they’re better dealt with later in the day.
Not having the ability to locate things is a big office time waster. Therefore, while you might pride yourself on hopping into the fray without any down time, clutter is going to catch up to you. Facing a clean slate on your desktop is going to better clear your mind for that day’s projects.
The emphasis is on “strategically,” because email can quickly become a time-wasting distraction. Checking your email may become one of those activities which makes it feel like you’re achieving things, but it creates the risk that you aren’t attending to priority items and are allowing other people to set your schedule.
All of us face some of the exact same distractions at the beginning of the day. Successful business people know how they can mitigate these distractions to maximize their initial minutes at their office. The distractions might involve unneeded meetings, low-priority calls, chatty co-workers, social media, incoming texts or emails, or other unimportant alerts–all of which will challenge you to concentrate on your day’s strategy.
One excellent way that successful individuals begin their day includes identifying something they are grateful for, and it might be business-related or personal. It is motivational and will remind them to put small tasks in perspective.
Truth is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great attention if you want to improve your life instantaneously.
Everyone wants to make an impact and live a life they can be proud of. But anyone who has ever known success or even been around the block a time or two knows that life comes with some hard realities.
Success takes hard work and commitment, but what happens when luck and success evade us?
Maybe we have to start looking at the hard truths that show us whether we’re standing in the way of our own success.
Maybe what’s needed is to spend some time rethinking, revamping, and restructuring our approach to give us the best chance at moving forward successfully.
Here are 10 harsh truths–they may not be fun to hear or think about, but they can help you improve your life immediately.
1. You can’t control a lot of things–but you can control how you respond.
In life and in business, most things are outside your control. But there is one thing you can always control–and that is yourself, your reactions and ideas.
2. Life isn’t always happy–but there’s value in both the bad and the good.
There is tremendous pressure on all of us to be happy. But life is sometimes difficult and painful. When you let go of the idea that only happiness has value, you can accept life in all its glorious complexity.
3. Nothing lasts forever–and that’s a good thing.
Whatever the situation or emotion, there’s great freedom when you can learn to let go, make the experience a part of who you are becoming, and move on.
4. We can do our best and still fail–and it’s not our fault.
As leaders we have a tendency to be hard on ourselves. But when you let go of perfectionism you can accept that you did your best, whatever the outcome. Hope for the best and expect great things–and if that doesn’t happen, let it go.
5. You’re not everyone’s cup of tea–and that’s OK.
It’s been acknowledged again and again that you can’t please everyone. But if you focus on staying in favor with yourself, you can fly above the approval of others.
6. The past is gone–but you can build a great future on its foundation.
We’re all inclined to spend time analyzing the past. It’s valuable up to a point, but beyond that it’s just a recipe for paralysis. Hold onto what you have learned, let go of any pain, and move forward into the present–and from there, the future.
7. The beliefs of others are not your concern–acceptance is.
Each one of us is unique in our own way, and that is what makes this world so fantastic. What is right for me may be wrong for you–all we can do is to let go of judgment and accept one another for we are.
8. Some people and situations are harmful–and there’s strength in walking away.
Once in a while, you encounter a person or situation that’s just wasting your time, sucking precious resources and energy from your life. It may not be your place to judge, but that doesn’t mean you have to allow toxicity to hold you back. Just leave it behind you.
9. Deceit and games don’t fuel careers–trust is the key.
Business is built on relationships, and like partnerships, marriages, or friendships, trust and authenticity are the key components.
10. Many things you can’t choose, but you have a choice in everything you do.
You can make excuses, blame others, embrace the toxic and wrong–or you can follow a brighter path. It’s up to you.
When you let go of the bad ideas in your life, it’s not about weakness–it’s about realizing that you are important enough to choose well and strong enough to let go of the things that may be holding you back.
App stores are crammed with all manner of time-management options. These four take interesting tacks toward maximizing your time–and productivity.
Take a moral–and financial–stand against sleeping in. Create and edit alarms using the dead-simple design. If you ignore them, iCukoo sends a set amount of money to a charity of your choice. In this way, the app brings new meaning to “you snooze, you lose.”
Want to, say, make GIFs on your phone? There’s an app for that–once Workflow makes it for you. Workflow programs certain tasks and turns them into buttons for your phone’s homescreen, thus transforming many potentially tedious activities into simple, one-touch operations.
Short for “if this, then that,” IFTTT automates smartphone apps using what it calls recipes. For instance, if you want Dropbox to upload Instagram photos, program “If I take an Instagram photo, then Dropbox will add the file.” Or use the service to program your phone to text you when it starts raining.
Feeling a little short on downtime? Timeful will send, well, timely notifications reminding the desk-bound to do things like stretch. Its algorithm learns your preferences: Ignore a suggestion to hit the gym at 10 p.m., and next time it will recommend you go earlier.
Working from home isn’t for everyone. To be successful, you must be disciplined, motivated, and — above all else — a self-starter.
It’s been relatively easy for me, because I’m motivated by the reality that my success or failure rests directly on my shoulders.
If you think working from home means having the freedom to forgo shaving and wake up without setting an alarm, think again! However, I won’t deny that working from home has its perks — like never having to commute. I set my own hours. Best of all, I get to be my own boss.
Here’s how to get the most out of working from home:
1. Start each day like you’re going to work. That means taking a shower, getting dressed and having breakfast. Setting professional standards will put you in a productive mindset.
2. Set up your office. It is crucial that you create a dedicated space to work in that is comfortable, private and exposed to as few distractions as possible. This space is yours, so make it personal! You’re going to be spending a lot of time there.
You should have all your tools, like your computer, phone and printer, in one place. Setting up your office also means setting up boundaries with the people (and even pets) you share your home with. Set up rules so that everyone understands when you are available and when you are not.
3. Begin your day 30 minutes earlier than you plan to start working. This time should be used in two ways: To create a plan for the day and to peruse social media. Every morning, I make a list of the things I need to achieve that day. Scratching off items will motivate you and keep you on task.
I also read the news and check social media. It’s fun, and it prevents me from wasting too much time during the day. I also check those sites during my lunch break and at the end of the day. After all, there’s no boss looking over your shoulder — so you must police yourself.
4. Think about when you do your best work, and plan accordingly. I’m a morning person, so I start working on the most difficult and unpleasant tasks of the day first. We all have tasks we’re not wild about, whether we’re working for ourselves or someone else. In the afternoon, I do things I enjoy, such as creative tasks.
5. Make a strict schedule, and stick to it. The knowledge that you can work whenever will tempt you, but in the long run, you will be much more productive if you follow the schedule you set for yourself. In my experience, this means keeping the same hours every day. This is work, after all. Your hours should correspond with others in your industry. Don’t vary them.
6. Stay connected. Working from home can be lonely, but it doesn’t have to be. Turn on Skype and get in the habit of using it. Each morning, my employees and I use Skype for our staff meeting. I always make sure to ask, “How is everyone doing?” We talk about non-business issues first.
It doesn’t take much effort to check in with the people you work with, and your relationships will benefit from it. Being on camera is an added incentive to look your best! When you’re able to see people, they don’t seem so far away.
7. Check in with your team throughout the day. I have Skype turned on all the time, and I ask my employees to do the same. I hand out assignments at the beginning of the week, but I check in much more often than that. My employees do better when I actively manage them.
Mind you, I don’t mean micromanage. But keeping people accountable — especially those that work from home — is important. There are a lot of potential distractions, after all. Set an example by being available to them as well.
8. Make sure to “close the door” at the end of the day. This can be very hard to do. It’s easy to keep working long after the hours you’ve set for yourself have passed. After all, your office is as easily accessible on the weekend as it is during the week. Have other hobbies.
Your business will suffer, actually, if all you do is focus obsessively on it. You will work more than 40 hours — I’m sure of it, so give yourself a break. Make a point of getting out of the house on the weekends. This is the only way you will maintain your sanity. In the same vein, taking short breaks throughout the day can be very helpful.
Working from home can be extremely rewarding. No sitting in traffic. No more office politics. The freedom to live wherever. But there are distractions, and it can be lonely. If you focus on creating structure, you’ll be amazed how much you can accomplish.
It’s funny, really. Most of us who get into entrepreneurship start with the intention of working LESS than we did at our regular jobs. The startling reality is that we often end up doing way more because we love the projects we’re involved with. And because oftentimes, that’s what it takes to make things happen.
Still, the long hours can take their toll — and even the Elon Musks of the world are no exception.
To keep yourself productive, it’s essential that you build build habits to help you organize your day and get the most out of your time.
Here are three of the most powerful.
There was probably a period of time in your life where it was easy stay up late into the night (or early into the next morning) trying to get things done.
For me, however, that period was over a long time ago. Recently, I’ve come to realize that all eight-hour periods just aren’t created equally.
Going to bed at 10 pm and waking up around 6 am is EXPONENTIALLY better than going to bed at 3 am and waking up around 11 am, even though number of hours you sleep is the same. I’ve tested this over and over again, and the evidence is pretty clear: I don’t perform well if I stay up past 11 pm-ish.
Early risers really do have a distinct advantage when it comes to mental clarity, acuity and energy.
Simply put: waking up early works better than any other strategy for becoming more productive. But you have to make sure you get enough sleep to back it up. So get to bed!
I’ve had to give myself a bedtime and be my own parent by ruthlessly enforcing it. It was harder than it sounds, because I’ve been programmed to stay up late for so many years.
Starting your day with a clear idea of what you want to do changes EVERYTHING.
Have you ever had a day where as soon as you woke up, there were already missed calls, text messages and emails screaming for your attention? You felt like you were struggling to stay afloat before breakfast. Oh, that sounds like every day, you say? That needs so stop.
If you like, you can meditate. You know, cross-legged, a candle, with some nice music playing in your ridiculously expensive Beats headphones. But if that’s too much, you can just “take 10.”
Take 10 slow breaths, think about your main objectives for the day, then get moving. This seems too simple to have an effect, but it’s not. If you’re used to getting up already in battle mode, then you’ve probably forgotten how it feels to have a moment to yourself.
Take a few of those minutes back to refocus yourself. It really helps. You can also use that time to create a better to-do list.
Working out is probably the highest-leverage tool in your arsenal. It predictably and reliable makes you feel better and keeps you both physically and emotionally healthy, year round.
To have the mental energy to take on the full calendar of to-do’s that people want from you, you have to be in the gym.
Training yourself physically not only gives you benchmarks to hit on a regular basis, but it also creates a predictable backbone in your daily life that you can count on, even if everything goes wrong. Mentally, that’s very comforting.
Trust me, I know that integrating these habits into your life won’t be easy at first. But if you’re not healthy, your business can’t thrive anyway. Consider them a long-term investment in your business.