Management Success Tip #178: Turn Your Boring Meeting Notes into a Powerful Action Plan

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If there’s anything you find more annoying than meetings, it’s having to take meeting notes. Why have to repeat everything that was said? It seems a monumental waste of time.

Indeed, if that’s how you look at it, meeting notes are a waste of time.

But, if instead, you think of meeting notes as a powerful way to get things done . . . well, that changes everything!

Think of meeting notes not as an historical rendering of what happened, but rather as a succinct series of bullet points which captures the key points, lays out the specific commitments for each topic discussed, and reminds all concerned of who’s responsible for what and by when.

In other words, an action plan! Where is it writ that meeting notes should be useless? On the contrary, make your meeting notes strong, solid and purposeful. Make sure your notes define in clear, actionable terms, who is to do what, where, how, when and with whom.

Which is how you can insure that the critical follow-up occurs. Because, as you well know, nothing happens without follow-up. If your meeting notes form the action plan, follow-up becomes a piece of cake.


Management Success Tip #174: If Engaged Employees Are Great, Inspired Employees Are Even Better!

Recent research shows that although engaged employees are by far better for your company’s productivity than dissatisfied or even satisfied employees, inspired employees outpace even engaged employees by over 150%!

The table below tells the tale:

Inspired Employees are Most Productive Employees







So how do you get your employees up past the satisfied level into engaged, busting into inspired?

Garton and Mankins suggest that you start by looking at foundational elements: “If people are constantly struggling with unnecessary meetings, cumbersome approval processes, and routine obstacles, they are unlikely to be satisfied, let alone engaged or inspired.”

Ask yourself, for example: how many meetings can you slash from your employees’ calendar? Including virtual ones? How can you better streamline the meetings that are actually necessary? Can you tighten up the agenda?

What is your approval process? Is there duplication of steps? As simplistic as it may sound, people prefer a one click-through process to a three or four clicks-through to get something done. How close is your approval process to a “one-click” style?

And so on. Review your basics, and you have much better chances of cultivating an environment where employees are inspired, not just doing what it takes to get by.

Management Success Tip #155: Don’t Rush To The Fix: Seek First To Understand!

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You’re a busy manager – too much on your plate all the time, and too little time. The curse of modern day business.

It’s perfectly understandable that in dealing with your employees, you want to go straight to the fix. Which you figure you know. After all, you’re the manager.

But here’s the thing: sometimes you don’t. You don’t know if the reason an employee is clock watching is because he/she is lazy and unengaged, or because there’s a sick child or elderly parent at home that requires care. You don’t know if it’s because the employee is rushing to get to a seminar, a team-sport activity, or a bar! You don’t know.

Instead of rushing to the fix, seek first to understand what’s going on with your employee. It’s what Steven Berglas, Ph.D., business consultant, calls “showing empathy.” He states, for example: “If you tell someone, ‘You know, you got an issue that calls for an attitude adjustment,’ youʼll never connect with them. Even if you are correct, the other person will dislike you for being insensitive. Say, ‘I sense you have been out of sorts for some time,’ and that person will embrace you.”

By not starting out with “the fix” and judging your employee on the basis of very little information, you’ve made it possible for your employee to share what’s really going on with them. Whatever it is, your fix will be far more appropriate and targeted, because now you actually know what the problem is.

Understanding is a far better road to effective management than guessing is. It also makes for a happier, more engaged workforce.

Management Success Tip #127: Flow Isn’t Just for Athletes: Your Employees Benefit Too!

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In his book Drive, Daniel Pink talks about how intrinsically motivating it is for people to reach the “flow” state—when they’re “in the zone” and completely absorbed by a task.

When you’re completely absorbed, you bring the very best of yourself to the task: you don’t doubt, you don’t question, you don’t get distracted. You’re present, in every sense of the term, and you are exponentially more efficient at whatever you’re doing. In a word, you excel.

Kevin Eikenberry, in a recent “Remarkable Learning, Leadership Tip” states:  “Flow is its own reward; it just feels good. As a supervisor, you can’t put your employees in the flow state, but you can take them out of it. If you’re constantly distracting your team members by checking in on them, forcing them to go to worthless meetings or—worst of all— micromanaging their every assignment, you’re keeping them from reaching flow and decreasing their motivation.”

Get out of your employees’ way. When you see they are working with purpose and intent, unless an employee is going about a task all wrong, step aside. Allow them to excel.

Management Success Tip #125: ROWE and the Small Business: Amazing Real-World Results!

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Nothing speaks louder than real-world results.

Study after study has shown that a results-only work environment (ROWE) works amazingly well, both in terms of employee satisfaction and company success.

But many smaller businesses shy away from implementing ROWE, thinking that allowing employees to work when and where they please will just lead to lazy, sloppy work, diminished performance and rotten productivity. Or, if convinced of the worthiness of ROWE, will decide that the inevitable variety in hours and locations will take too much technology to integrate all of it and be financially sound.

Neither is true.

JA Counter & Associates, an investment and insurance agency base in Richmond, WI has 14 employees who have been in a ROWE since 2008. Since then, their expenses are down 23%, and net income has increased 94%! Not only that, before implementing ROWE, the agency was 15% behind the industry average. Since adopting ROWE, they are 4% and more ahead of the industry average.

Employees have control over their time, which facilitates a healthy work-life balance. Meetings are purposeful and planned, with those who prefer to attend remotely calling in. Even the agency’s receptionist has control over her hours, working them out with back-up personnel. No new technology was required.

ROWE and other such flexible employee arrangements are not just for major corporations. As JA Counter demonstrates, any size business can benefit from a results-oriented flexible approach.

Management Success Tip #123: Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway!

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“Feel the fear and do it anyway” is a powerful phrase, generally attributed to author Susan Jeffers. Make no mistake about it: fear is powerful.

Fear is what prevents your employees from suggesting new projects or processes. Fear is what stands between your employees and their willingness to point out what isn’t working in the resources they’ve been allocated. Fear is what keeps your employees performing at levels below their best.

You, their manager, are not their therapist. It’s not up to you to go rooting around in your employees’ past or present lives for how various fears arose. Fortunately, you don’t need to.

What you do need, is to provide your employees with the antidote to fear: courage.

Courage is the ability to face the world, a situation, or a person, with confidence.  Courage is what enables your employees to speak up, speak out, and do what it takes to up the level of their contribution.

You instill courage in your employees by encouraging them. To encourage is literally, according to, “to inspire with courage, spirit, or confidence.”

Simply put, you applaud your employees’ efforts, you notice the work done right, you never dismiss an idea as ridiculous or irrelevant, you make it not only safe, but desirable for your employees to come to you with new ideas, helpful criticism, in a word – their truth.

Then indeed, despite the fact that there maybe always be that slight tremor of fear in the face of the new, your employees will be able to “Feel the fear and do it anyway” to the increasing success of your business.

Management Success Tip #120: Work Space Matters: Make it Matter to Your Benefit!

Work Space Matters: Make it Matter to Your Benefit!

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You wouldn’t think that where your employee’s desk/cubicle/workspace/meeting area is, or how it is configured, matters to his/her performance – beyond the basics of clean and functional, but it actually matters quite a bit.

And it isn’t so much a question of fancy interior design and ergonomic everything (as nice as that might be), but more a question of how much leeway do your employees have in designing their own work space?

The more autonomy employees are given in terms of time and space management has been shown to lead to greater organizational productivity, and positive impact on their motivation and performance.

Diane Hoskins, co-CEO of the design and architectural firm Gensler, who has spent her career designing workplaces and studying the link between design and business performance, points to Facebook as a prime example:

“At their headquarters, employees have the ability to tailor the layout, height, and configuration of their own desks based on personal preference. Teams can also create whatever workspace layout best supports their project, moving desks into a circular break-out space or a long row of desks, for example.”

Admittedly, most companies don’t have Facebook’s means or resources to provide their employees with such possibilities, however, most companies can find a way to allow employees some autonomy in designing their work-space.

For example, ask your team members: which project layout would work better for them? Or which room/space would make for more productive meetings? How can cubicles/workspaces be set up to support most effective and satisfying performance?

Your employees are best placed to know what physical conditions would facilitate their best work.

Ask, and you will receive!