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3 Ways to Build a Happy and Productive Team

3 Ways to Build a Happy and Productive Team
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Being happy at work? That’s for when you’re off the clock, right? You’ve heard the expression, “That’s why they call it work.” Isn’t that the way work has always been?

Not anymore.

A recent study, “Happiness and Productivity,” conducted by a pair of economist academics, has proven that happiness makes people more productive on the job.

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According to one of the authors of the research, Professor Andrew Oswald, there’s data to back up the claim: “Companies like Google have invested more in employee support and employee satisfaction has risen as a result. For Google it rose by 37%. They know what they are talking about. Under scientifically controlled conditions, making workers happier really pays off.”

What this research shows is that happiness isn’t a luxury only afforded high-value Silicon Valley firms. Team happiness is not something that organizations can ignore, but rather a crucial investment in staff morale, retention, and productivity.

Whether you’re leading a small team or a large enterprise, there are practical methods for keeping your team happy while still meeting management’s targets. Here are three tips to building happy and productive teams.

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Be a Better Communicator.

If you’re not able to articulate what it is that you want people to do, they’re not going to be able to do it. That’s obvious. What may not be so clear is that by being a poor communicator you’re corrupting the bonds of trust between you and your workers, which over time will create a toxic work environment.

How do you communicate more effectively and, in so doing, help make a happier team?

  1. Listen- a lot. Communication is a two-way street. Put aside your own thoughts and ideas to really listen to people on your team and demonstrate that you’re willing to seriously engage their ideas. You can show that you’re listening (and remember what your team has said) by repeating back what you’ve heard them say.
  2. Stay on topic. When you’re doing the talking, don’t confuse the issue by going off on tangents. Have one conversation at a time, and keep your point short and easily digestible.
  3. Look people in the eye. This may seem like an outmoded idea since we all stare at our phones and multitask these days. Eye contact helps you and the listener focus on the topic at hand, and it also shows you’re focusing on listening to feedback and ideas.
  4. Ask Questions. Before you’re done with a meeting or a conference, ask if there are any questions. This helps make sure the information you wanted to get across was conveyed accurately and helps with overall team engagement, too.
  5. Build team involvement. Making your team accountable is a good start, but make them part of the process to define the goals, too. This helps them buy-in to the work, gives them ownership, and makes them fully aware of what they’re accountable for.

Respect Workers’ Autonomy.

If you micromanage every nanosecond of your team members’ day, you’re really not helping their productivity. You’re certainly not creating a happy workplace. That doesn’t mean you give workers free reign; you are their manager, after all. However, you do want to instill mutual respect, and that involves giving your team autonomy to manage their time their way.

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One of the biggest culprits of time wasting is the internet. With the web just waiting behind that spreadsheet, it’s a big temptation to check Facebook or your favorite blog, and as I said, a prohibitive climate is not a productive one. In fact, micromanagement may be more detrimental to productivity than a few idle moments online.

What do you do to encourage productivity without laying down Draconian laws?

  1. Set success metrics. If you have clear milestones that each member of your team is responsible for achieving within a specific scheduled time, then you’re saying you trust them to achieve this task on deadline the way they know best. If they need to take a break and watch a cat video then that’s okay.
  2. Offer incentives. Everyone likes to have their good work recognized, so provide the team members who go above and beyond to complete their work on time with some kind of gift. It can be as simple as buying them lunch or giving out monthly gift certificates to top performers. When you make the incentives fun, it helps build a happy team culture, too. Be sure to be fair and include everyone- not just the favored few.
  3. Offer flexible working hours. Though there may be certain periods of the day that you need your team together, the time of day is less important than meeting the deadline. Also, some people work best first thing in the morning whereas others are more suited for later hours. If you can afford the flexibility, then allow your teams to work when they work best.
  4. Offer training opportunities. Complacency is dangerous for both you and your team. You want to always encourage and enable them to be updated on new tools and techniques. Again, that investment will be rewarded by loyalty, trust, and improved productivity.

It’s not just today’s project and productivity goals that you should be focusing on. There’s always another project down the line, even though it can be difficult to see the forest when you’re in the weeds of a particular job. Future projects need to be kept in the back of the minds of everyone in the company.

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If you burn out your workforce, you’re going to have to go through arduous team building all over again. It is not only hard work to find and train a new worker but expensive as well. The Corporate Executive Board has researched the cost of replacing a departing employee and found it can be as much as 150% of their salary to replace them if you take into account lost productivity, recruitment fees, and training. Therefore, it’s crucial not only to get the job done today, but to cultivate a workplace that retains its workers.

There are many ways that companies and managers have made their organizations more attractive to their teams. Some of them are:

  1. Offer wellness benefits. If you’re able to provide employees with perks such as gym membership, a massage therapist who visits the office, healthy meals and snacks, even mindfulness meditation breaks, you reduce work stress and create a happy work culture.
  2. Offer financial incentives. Money is the universal language. While team members may never be fully loyal to a company, they will respond positively to having their hard work rewarded with cash incentives. Whether it’s a bonus or some other financial benefit, it’s a worthwhile perk to put into the budget.
  3. Extend paid leave options. It may seem counterintuitive to retain employees by allowing them to take an extended absence from the office, but it will pay off in the long run. Whether it’s personal days to attend family events, a paid vacation or sabbatical, these breaks from the daily grind allow people to regenerate and return to the job refreshed and ready to hit the ground running.
  4. Be a happy role model. As a manager you cannot be always burning the midnight oil and then telling your workers to go home and take it easy. This doesn’t mean slacking, but you want to exhibit the balanced behaviors you expect to see in your team and also work on your own happiness to be an effective model.
  5. Set boundaries. With smartphones, emails, texts, and all the other new technologies and apps to keep people connected, it can feel as if work never ends. While it’s great that you and your workers have a modern means of communication, you need to respect their privacy and have specific times when they’re working and when they’re not.

In Conclusion

That’s it. Easy, right? No. Of course it’s difficult to be happy and harder still to promote a happy team culture especially within a large organization. Think of happiness as another line item on your budget. You have to make the investment in order to get the return. Give it the due diligence that the current research (and Google) has proven, try out these tips, and see what results you get.

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Bet you’ll be happily surprised.

Featured photo credit: Girl Using Laptop in Hotel Room by Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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http://stokpic.com/project/girl-using-laptop-in-hotel-room/ by Ed Gregory 3 Ways to Build a Happy and Productive Team

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
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You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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