5 quick wins to increase productivity

Want to increase productivity for you and your team?

If you could achieve the following*, would you be interested?

  • 3 times more creativity
  • 31% higher productivity
  • 23% fewer fatigue symptoms
  • 37% greater sales
  • 40% more likely to get a promotion
  • 10 times more engaged

In today’s rapidly changing environment the holy grail for leaders is to find ways to increase productivity in order to achieve targets and goals. It sounds counter intuitive to say that when I was managing a sales team my main focus was not on the achievement of sales targets.

Instead I focussed on ensuring that my people enjoyed their roles, as my firm belief was that if they enjoyed their work they would produce better results. I saw the purpose of my role as being to help them develop the skills, knowledge and attitude to enable them to give of their best. If they were confident they would enjoy what they were doing and as a result the targets would be achieved. The results my teams achieved was testimony to the fact that this approach worked.

Research by a variety of individuals and organisations, such as Martin Seligman, Shaun Achor and Wharton University of Pennsylvania, has also confirmed my belief that happiness can lead to success. Creating a positive work environment leads to people experiencing the positive emotions that has a direct impact onto the bottom line of results. For example I recently worked with a rapidly growing IT organisation who work out of bright new airy offices replete with chill out zones, its own bar, pool table, showers and seventies style snack bar. One of the graphic designers greeted me on arrival dressed in “green monster feet” slippers. As you can imagine the atmosphere was calm and friendly, but also successful.

Short of re-designing your offices what can you do to create positive energy for yourself and those around you?

Here are 5 tips to help you become more creative, increase productivity, reduce fatigue and drive greater engagement;

  1. 1st item on the agenda. When meeting with others, on a 1-2-1 basis or as a team, start the agenda with a review of what is going well for them. What are they happy with, proud of? It can be something personal or work related. Feedback from people I have coached who have used this indicates that this creates a positive frame of mind with a shift to solution based thinking throughout the rest of the meeting.
  2. Go for a walk. We all know that exercise is good for us, but research also shows that exercise can encourage more creative thinking. When wrestling with a challenge I find that going for a walk can help me identify potential solutions and groups have reported similar results when sent for a walk during the workshops that I facilitate. Fresh air and movement changes our perspectives and I often find that going for a walk with a coaching client produces a different outlook on the situations we discuss.
  3. Use your strengths. Identify opportunities for you and your team to play to your/their strengths. When we do something well we feel good about ourselves and this is particularly the case if we use our character strengths. Martin Seligman has devised a free survey (http://bit.ly/Strengthssurvey ) which will help you identify your character strengths, which are the positive personality traits which dictate how you think, feel and behave. Consciously using your strengths will lead to greater engagement. For example if a member of your team is particularly strong at analysing information, delegating such a task to them will enhance their self esteem.
  4. What are your 3 Gratitudes? We spend time writing out things to do lists and identifying what we still need to complete to achieve our goals. How often do we spend time reflecting on what is going well? A simple way to do this is to take 5 minutes every Friday, either before we leave work or before going to bed that night and write down 3 things that have gone well for you that week. Doing this on a consistent basis helps to re-programme our minds to look for the positives and raise our sense of well being. A Senior Leader I have been coaching has been doing this for the last 6 months, and he reports that although he felt a little silly when he first started writing out his 3 “gratitudes” he is now feeling happier in himself, less stressed and far more confident about the challenges he faces.
  5. Commit a conscious act of kindness. There is a long line of research which shows that we feel good about ourselves when we have the opportunity to help others. Take time each day to send someone an email, or phone them or speak to them face to face, to thank them for something they have done that you are grateful for. I saw a message on twitter a few days ago that someone had left on a vending machine at Christie Hospital in Manchester (http://bit.ly/vendingmachinemessage ), where they had purchased a variety of snacks and left them in the vending machine for others to help themselves to. The aim? To bring a smile to someone else’s face through a very simple act. The benefit? It makes at least 2 people feel good about the world in which we live.

What else have you tried that you can share with our readers that has improved engagement and happiness in your life?

*The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor

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