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5 Workplace Strategies to Supercharge Team Productivity

5 Workplace Strategies to Supercharge Team Productivity

Extraordinary management requires extraordinary thinking, and these creative workplace strategies are proven to supercharge team productivity over a sustained period. The following are innovative ideas used in companies all over the world to help high-performance teams crank efficiency up a few notches.

1. Schedule a FedEx Day

Australian software company Atlassian holds what it calls FedEx Days once per quarter to drive employee motivation and productivity. During these intense 24-hour periods, employees can work on whatever project they want so long as it doesn’t fall under their normal job responsibilities. The only other stipulation is that they must present their completed project to their colleagues the next day.

Atlassian cranks things up even further by enabling employees to vote on each other’s projects, giving an award to the winner and, in some cases, green-lighting top ideas for full production. The influence of FedEx Days on employee motivation and overall productivity is so strong that author Daniel Pink recommended it in his book “Drive.”

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2. Install a Love Machine

Second Life founder Philip Rosedale improved company culture by incentivizing employee recognition with the Love Machine. This series of video monitors lets workers leave short messages for specific individuals to recognize work well done, help given and other timely accolades. This system, as Rosedale explained, enables teammates to “tip each other for good work, and also to keep a very high degree of awareness about what everyone was doing, even as the company grew.”

3. Transition to a ROWE

Not all employees can function at their peak during the 9-to-5 workday; similarly, not all employees can focus in an office environment. A ROWE, or a results-only work environment, enables workers to essentially set their own hours and work wherever they feel most comfortable. Employees are measured solely on results, and preset quotas of vacation days, sick days or core hours are all thrown out the window.

The ROWE concept was devised by Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson of CultureRx for Best Buy; CultureRx has since helped 40 more U.S. companies transition to this innovative workplace strategy. Michael Reynolds, the president and CEO of SpinWeb, saw productivity double after his company enacted a ROWE.

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4. Let Employees Drive Bonuses

Another Second Life workplace strategy Rosedale revealed is that of employee-driven bonuses. Each teammate gets $1,000 per year to allocate to coworkers as he or she pleases. This peer performance review takes the onus of dividing bonuses away from managers, who may not be as closely connected with office leaders and peak performers.

5. Adopt “Thinking Days”

Barry Glassman of Glassman Wealth Services doesn’t send his employees to pricey conferences; instead, he sends them home for a day once per quarter, with pay, to watch presentations on Ted.com and brainstorm ideas for the business. Glassman also dedicates a half-day each quarter to an all-staff meeting in which each employee presents his or her favorite Ted.com presentation.

Glassman reports that Thinking Days have supercharged team productivity and new ideas. They’ve also raised employee morale, kept teams connected and exposed workers to a bevy of keynotes from the world’s top thinkers.

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The GWS Thinking Days also play on a phenomenon studied by Simone Ritter and his fellow researchers at the Radboud University Behavioral Science Institute: the role of the unconscious mind in creative output. Ritter asked two groups of university students to devise solutions to an everyday problem. One group spent 2 minutes on a distracting task before compiling their answers, while the other group got to work immediately.

Both groups came up with about the same number of creative ideas, but the first group was far better at picking its most creative idea than the second group. This pattern held up in subsequent experiments, leading the researchers to believe that the unconscious mind helps us determine which of our ideas are worth pursuing.

Conclusion

One of the toughest tasks managers have is fostering employee productivity and efficiency over an extended period. These strategies promote a productive office culture that organically motivates workers.

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(Photo credit: Closeup portrait of group of business people with hands together via Shutterstock)

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5 Workplace Strategies to Supercharge Team Productivity 5 Productivity Lessons From the Millennial Work Style 5 Management Practices That Kill Employee Productivity 5 Ways a ROWE Can Supercharge Office Productivity 10 Weekly Ten Minute Practices to Boost Work Productivity

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Last Updated on June 18, 2019

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

It takes great leadership skills to build great teams.

The best leaders have distinctive leadership styles and are not afraid to make the difficult decisions. They course-correct when mistakes happen, manage the egos of team members and set performance standards that are constantly being met and improved upon.

With a population of more than 327 million, there are literally scores of leadership styles in the world today. In this article, I will talk about the most common leadership styles and how you can determine which works best for you.

5 Types of Leadership Styles

I will focus on 5 common styles that I’ve encountered in my career: democratic, autocratic, transformational, transactional and laissez-faire leadership.

The Democratic Style

The democratic style seeks collaboration and consensus. Team members are a part of decision-making processes and communication flows up, down and across the organizational chart.

The democratic style is collaborative. Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek is an example of a leader who appears to have a democratic leadership style.

    The Autocratic Style

    The autocratic style, on the other hand, centers the preferences, comfort and direction of the organization’s leader. In many instances, the leader makes decisions without soliciting agreement or input from their team.

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    The autocratic style is not appropriate in all situations at all times, but it can be especially useful in certain careers, such as military service, and in certain instances, such as times of crisis. Steve Jobs was said to have had an autocratic leadership style.

    While the democratic style seeks consensus, the autocratic style is less interested in consensus and more interested in adherence to orders. The latter advises what needs to be done and expects close adherence to orders.

      The Transformational Style

      Transformational leaders drive change. They are either brought into organizations to turn things around, restore profitability or improve the culture.

      Alternatively, transformational leaders may have a vision for what customers, stakeholders or constituents may need in the future and work to achieve those goals. They are change agents who are focused on the future.

      Examples of transformational leader are Oprah and Robert C. Smith, the billionaire hedge fund manager who has offered to pay off the student loan debt of the entire 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College.

        The Transactional Style

        Transactional leaders further the immediate agenda. They are concerned about accomplishing a task and doing what they’ve said they’d do. They are less interested in changing the status quo and more focused on ensuring that people do the specific task they have been hired to do.

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        The transactional leadership style is centered on short-term planning. This style can stifle creativity and keep employees stuck in their present roles.

        The Laissez-Faire Style

        The fifth common leadership style is laissez-faire, where team members are invited to help lead the organization.

        In companies with a laissez-faire leadership style, the management structure tends to be flat, meaning it lacks hierarchy. With laissez-faire leadership, team members might wonder who the final decision maker is or can complain about a lack of leadership, which can translate to lack of direction.

        Which Leadership Style do You Practice?

        You can learn a lot about your leadership style by observing your family of origin and your formative working experiences.

        Whether you realize it, from the time you were born up until the time you went to school, you were receiving information on how to lead yourself and others. From the way your parents and siblings interacted with one another, to unspoken and spoken communication norms, you were a sponge for learning what constitutes leadership.

        The same is true of our formative work experiences. When I started my communications career, I worked for a faith-based organization and then a labor union. The style of communication varied from one organization to the other. The leadership required to be successful in each organization was also miles apart. At Lutheran social services, we used language such as “supporting people in need.” At the labor union, we used language such as “supporting the leadership of workers” as they fought for what they needed.

        Many in the media were more than happy to accept my pitch calls when I worked for the faith-based organization, but the same was not true when I worked for a labor union. The quest for media attention that was fair and balanced became more difficult and my approach and style changed from being light-hearted to being more direct with the labor union.

        I didn’t realize the impact those experiences had on how I thought about my leadership until much later in my career.

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        In my early experience, it was not uncommon for team members to have direct, brash and tough conversations with one another as a matter of course. It was the norm, not the exception. I learned to challenge people, boldly state my desires and preferences, and give tough feedback, but I didn’t account for the actions of others fit for me, as a black woman. I didn’t account for gender biases and racial biases.

        What worked well for my white male bosses, did not work well for me as an African American woman. People experienced my directness as being rude and insensitive. While I needed to be more forceful in advancing the organization’s agenda when I worked for labor, that style did not bode well for faith-based social justice organizations who wanted to use the love of Christ to challenge injustice.

        Whereas I received feedback that I needed to develop more gravitas in the workplace when I worked for labor, when I worked for other organizations after the labor union, I was often told to dial it back. This taught me two important lessons about leadership:

        1. Context Matters

        Your leadership style must adjust to each workplace you are employed. The challenges and norms of an organization will shape your leadership style significantly.

        2. Not All Leadership Styles Are Appropriate for the Teams You’re Leading

        When I worked on political campaigns, we worked nonstop. We started at dawn and worked late into the evening. I couldn’t expect that level of round-the-clock work for people at the average nonprofit. Not only couldn’t I expect it, it was actually unhealthy. My habit of consistently waking up at 4 am to work was profoundly unhealthy for me and harmful for the teams I was leading.

        As life coach and spiritual healer Iyanla Vanzant has said,

        “We learn a lot from what is seen, sensed and shared.”

        The message I was sending to my team was ‘I will value you if you work the way that I work, and if you respond to my 4 am, 5 am and 6 am emails.’ I was essentially telling my employees that I expect you to follow my process and practice.

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        As I advanced in my career and began managing more people, I questioned everything I thought I knew about leadership. It was tough. What worked for me in one professional setting did not work in other settings. What worked at one phase of my life didn’t necessarily serve me at later stages.

        When I began managing millennials, I learned that while committed to the work, they had active interests and passions outside of the office. They were not willing to abandon their lives and happiness for the work, regardless of how fulfilling it might have been.

        The Way Forward

        To be an effective leader, you must know yourself incredibly well. You must be self-reflective and also receptive to feedback.

        As fellow Lifehack contributor Mike Bundrant wrote in the article 10 Essential Leadership Qualities That Make a Great Leader:

        “Those who lead must understand human nature, and they start by fully understanding themselves…They know their strengths, and are equally aware of their weaknesses and thus understand the need for team work and the sharing of responsibility.”

        The way to determine your leadership style is to get to know yourself and to be mindful of the feedback you receive from others. Think about the leadership lessons that were seen, sensed and shared in your family of origin. Then think about what feels right for you. Where do you gravitate and what do you tend to avoid in the context of leadership styles?

        If you are really stuck, think about using a personality assessment to shed light on your work patterns and preferences.

        Finally, the path for determining your leadership style is to think about not only what you need, or what your company values, but also what your team needs. They will give you cues on what works for them and you need to respond accordingly.

        Leadership requires flexibility and attentiveness. Contrary to unrealistic notions of leadership, being a leader is less about being served and more about being of service.

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        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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