‘Productivity’ Category

“No Cost” Productivity Strategies

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

How often have you looked up and realized that you missed lunch? Maybe even missed dinner? Today’s “work…work…work” mentality has taken a toll on employees performance, job satisfaction and health.

Today’s 24/7/365 world of technology and instant gratification has transformed every aspect of modern life – most dramatically how we work. While technology and automation has made many tasks easier, it has also bred a whole host of issues in the workplace.

We need to dispel the myth that more hours spent at work leads to more productivity. I am going to make a case for taking physical and mental breaks throughout the day, and how these breaks will transform teams from upper management to support staff.

The average American worker spends 9.2 hours per day at work – and approximately 30% are skipping lunch or eating at their desk. The vast majority of workers can access their email and desktops on their smartphones. This has now become “normal”. Furthermore, it has become expected in many companies that key team members make themselves available anytime, anywhere. This change in work structure and expectations are linked to increased stress and employee dissatisfaction. This then snowballs into increased absenteeism, increased health insurance costs, loss of productivity, and staff turnover. Not exactly the direction leading to higher productivity and performance.

There are some simple changes that can be made to reverse what ails the modern workplace. The easiest solution is to take breaks throughout the day. Here is a breakdown on how breaks can increase productivity, performance and decrease healthcare costs:

• 15 seconds – decrease mental fatigue and preserve eyesight by looking away from the computer for 15 seconds every ten minutes.
• 30 seconds to 5 minutes – can increase mental acuity by 13%, increase focus and productivity.
• 2 minutes – stand up and stretch for 2 minutes every hour to increase circulation, decrease muscle tension and overall fatigue.
• 5 minutes – away from typing on a keyboard or clicking a mouse can combat hand, wrist and forearm pain.
• 6 minutes – the optimal amount of time spent every 80 minutes, taking a break from all types of work to increase productivity and mental acuity.
• 20 minutes – while not always an option, a 20 minute walk can help to mentally recharge and decrease physically fatigue.

The average manager spends 2 days per week in meetings, many longer than they need to be. In addition to taking breaks, the structure of meetings can also be changed to increase productivity, participation and efficiency. Conducting standing meetings – physically standing – will increase focus on the agenda, garner full attention of the attendees, and perhaps allow for less time in the boardroom, more time implementing what was discussed.

When weather permits, having outdoor meetings with one or two staff members can increase not only focus, but can have benefits that are realized throughout the day. Fresh air and change of surroundings will increase mental acuity and mood. Employee satisfaction and retention can also be positively impacted by taking business outdoors.

The BIG takeaway: take little breaks throughout the day and changing how you conduct meetings to get a dramatic effect on your, as well as your team’s, mental acuity, efficiency, and thus productivity. Lead by example, take a break from the computer and phone, get up and take a walk around the office. While you are stretching, encourage your staff to do the same.

Combining Vision and Innovation to Create the Future

Begin here to accelerate your success: http://www.ignition-pathway2growth.com/

© Rich Kohler 2015. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at rich@rich-kohler.com.

Top Strategies for Developing Your Team – Part 3

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

Great businesses, great staff and great teams don’t just “happen” any more than an 100-storey sky-scraper just “happens” – there is vision, planning and skill in achieving either.

Last week we covered Points 7-10, so this week we will outline the remaining strategies for developing your staff:

11. Create An Investment Plan With All Staff

If you’re going to set yourself apart from the crowd and establish a truly brilliant business, you are going to need one essential ingredient, and that is a truly brilliant team!

Truly brilliant teams don’t happen by accident, and they don’t come cheap! Not that they have to cost a lot of money, but they will require a significant investment of time and planning – mixed with a passion for excellence – if they are to form in the first place, and grow thereafter!

You’ll need to give some thought as to what you will need to invest in each of your team members to bring them to a level of competence and commitment that will make them your strongest and most valuable asset. The obvious candidates are “training” and “positive work experience”, but the less obvious candidates can be even more important: “inclusion”, “security”, “recognition”, “belonging”, “personal and professional growth” and more.

Then you’ll need to develop a process for delivering both the invitation to growth and personal investment, and then the actual experiences, agreements, understandings, and culture that will make that growth a highly likely outcome.

You could always start this process with a briefing on your desire for and interest in their personal and professional growth. This would be followed by an outline of the knowledge and skill training that you will provide, support or require them to complete, but it won’t stop there. In fact, the picture won’t be finished until you have created a culture where people learn and grow and support each other as a matter of course.

So, how would you do that?

12. Find Out What Makes Them Tick

We’d hope that you had a fair idea of what makes your new (and old) team members tick before you selected them. This point re-iterates the fact that it’s nearly useless trying to motivate people with your “external goals” – i.e., goals or rewards that you provide as opposed to their own internal, private or personal goals.

Much smarter to align the rewards you place on the behavior you want, to a team member’s achieving their own, personal goals. For example, rather than talking about their hitting a sales or other performance target to qualify for a bonus, you might ask them what they feel they need to be doing to hit the performance goal that is going to put the deposit on their new car/house/boat/toy.

Ask yourself, which one of these approaches is likely to gain the most buy-in from John:
• “Come on John, how can I help you hit your sales goal for the month, and qualify for your bonus?”; or
• “Come on John, how can I help you get that deposit for your new sport car?”

The second point in this step is to be aware that “people’s motives change over time.” You need a process for staying in touch with those changes as they occur in each member of your team. That process could be as simple as a weekly lunch or game of pool, with plenty of opportunity for relaxed chatter about life and goals outside of work; or it could be a formal and dedicated day during which each team member gets to share their personal and professional goals with their team.

Whatever your process, just ask yourself whether by knowing what really matters to each member of your staff, you would be in a better position to help them to achieve their goals, and to grow them personally and professionally.

13. Rate Your Performance as Their Mentor, Coach & Guide

It has been said that “feedback is the breakfast of champions” so does it make sense, if you are really aspiring to have and to lead an excellent team of people, that you seek and welcome feedback on a regular basis?

Give some thought as to how you would measure your own success in your chosen role. A rather scary suggestion: Your score will be equal to the average of the performance of each of your team members!

You could also seek feedback through a “mutual performance review” during which you provide each team member with an assessment of their performance, after which they provide you with their assessment of yours. That is even more scary.

And so we come to the $64,000 question: What would your business look like, function like, perform like, the year after you implemented your own version of these 13 steps? And how big would the suitcase need to be to carry all those extra profits to the bank?

If you know what to do, but are short on how to do it; or, if you know what and how, but also know that you will have a challenge committing to apply your knowledge, it’s probably time to talk to me about how I can get you to where you want to be, more quickly, more surely and more safely than you can get there on your own.

Combining Vision and Innovation to Create the Future

Begin here to accelerate your success: http://www.ignition-pathway2growth.com/

© Rich Kohler 2015. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at rich@rich-kohler.com.

Top Strategies for Developing Your Team – Part 2

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

Last week we covered Points 1 – 6, so this week we will outline a few more strategies for developing your staff:

7. Assess Their Commitment To Your Business’ Goals

This is an “imprecise measure,” but what you are looking for at this stage in the assessment process is an indication as to whether this person is a “committed” or a “renegade”.

The committed are “joiners”; they like other people; they like working with others, collaborating and teaming to build projects larger than they can handle alone. They look for causes to join, visions to buy into, and goals to meet.

Renegades are “users”; they intend to use the business, its resources and the position almost solely for their own ends. Sure, they will “do the work” – they may even be highly productive – but they tend to view their work as the product of their efforts alone (or at least see themselves alone as deserving of credit for any results to which they contribute). The often have a poor opinion of the others in their crew, and seldom step out to lift, grow or assist others – unless there is a clear pay-off involved.

A simple test for this factor is to ask questions that explore about how they feel or felt about their last or previous positions. renegades tend to give the game away with comments that display arrogance, ego, negativity and lack of respect for others. Committed generally convey a positive account of their experience.

8. Clearly Convey Your Core Concepts

If you want someone to give more than their physical presence and base labor to your business, you are going to have to sell them your Vision for the business (the “picture of perfection” towards which you are striving; your Mission (the path you are following to achieve that Vision); your Values (the boundaries of behavior along that path); your Goals (the milestones on the path; dated measures of performance); and your Code of Conduct (the way we treat each other, our Customers, and the assets of the business).

When it comes to your Core Concepts, don’t make the mistake that many larger corporations make in spending huge resources on having a expert in semantics design great sounding concepts; having an artist render them under glass and hang them in the boardroom and reception area; and then never looking at or talking about them again – except to quote them in their Annual Report.

Your Vision, Mission, Values, Goals and Code of Conduct should be wound into the daily fabric of your business and the lives of those who make it work.

When you go out into the labor market seeking new team members, you need to carry these Core Concepts with you both as a beacon (to attract those who resonate to them) and as a touchstone (against which to test each candidate’s personal core concepts for alignment with your own).

It’s going to be a lot easier and less costly to incorporate someone into the team whose core concepts already resonate with your own.

9. Craft A Powerful Investment Process

When you bring any new team member on board, you are faced with an inevitable investment of time and resources so as to enable them to come up to speed and meet your performance requirements as quickly as possible. So why not convey this process – explicitly – as the beginnings of your on-going “Investment in Them”?

Their first month or so on the job will set a tone that is likely to persist, so invest the time and thought required to design an excellent process – a system – that provides each new team member with:
• A clear understanding of our “Investing in You” philosophy.
• A detailed Job Description and/or Contract that is framed around results and outcomes, rather than activities and tasks, detailing all performance requirements, assessment processes, and any rewards associated with those.
• A clear statement of your termination process.
• An Organization Chart that clearly depicts the formal lines of communication, support and command and their position, responsibilities and authority within that structure.
• An introduction to and (actual, verbal) discussion about your Vision, Mission, Values, Goals and Code of Conduct – and a written copy to which to refer thereafter.
• A Team Member Guide introducing each member with a self-written thumbnail sketch, to speed the development of relationships and integration into the team.
• Statutory materials – OH&S guidelines, employment matters, etc.
• Position-related information (i.e., for a salesperson, this would include background on key account clients)
• A duplicated sign-off receipt that verifies that all of this material has been received by, and explained to, your new recruit.
Consider your responsibility for, and the benefits of, creating and managing a social process that quickly folds new recruits into the team and promotes the relationship building essential to high productivity and staff longevity.

10. Design A Performance Assessment & Recognition Process

When staff are asked, “Is your boss happy with your performance?”, too often the reply is, “He must be; he hasn’t fired me yet!”

Is this level of feedback likely to promote top performance among team members? Or could it be done better?

There are two key points to any assessment and recognition process: The period of assessment should be agreed and honored (how many bosses do you know who keep putting off periodic performance reviews?); and the assessment criteria must be transparent, mutually-agreed between the parties (at the outset! – no point trying to change the rules mid-game) and as objective as possible.

The best way to achieve transparency is to agree on one or more objective measures of performance; for a sales person, that may be sales revenue or gross profit per period; for administration staff it may be a maximum turn around time for quotations, or the timely filing of tax or other regulatory returns. Whatever the measure, it should be directly related to the results required of the position, and progress towards it should be regularly discernible by all parties (that is, the assessed person should not find out the result during the assessment, but should have been progressively aware of their performance throughout the period of assessment).

One important factor in creating an effective review process is the frame of mind in which it is administered! If, in the understanding of the parties, the assessment is to determine “whether they have failed or not”, the process will be cast in a negative light – and will probably be avoided by all parties as well!

If, on the other hand, the assessment process is seen as part of the team member’s personal and professional development (a sort of periodic look from which their next course of support and development will be planned) it will more likely be viewed in a much more positive light – and be carried out!

So how are you doing so far? Hopefully, you see the merit of the approach. More next time.

Combining Vision and Innovation to Create the Future

Begin here to accelerate your success: http://www.ignition-pathway2growth.com/

© Rich Kohler 2015. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at rich@rich-kohler.com.

Top Strategies for Developing Your Team – Part 1

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

Great businesses and great teams don’t just “happen” any more than a 110-story sky-scraper just “happens” – there is vision, planning and skill in achieving either.

Here’s a little help on the planning side:
1. Build Better Specs
Always start with the end in mind! List the outcomes, the results that you want from anyone filling a position in your team.

Be specific; use numbers and dates where applicable. Specify the periods over which performance will be measured. Wherever possible, work out the value of this level of performance to the business so that you can apply some perspective to the salary package you may have to craft to acquire a person capable of delivering those results.

Use the 3:1 Rule as a test of your final cost/benefit assessment: The new team member should generate around three times their grossed up cost to the business, in gross profits. Their grossed up cost will be something like their pre-tax salary, plus 30% (to cover overhead, holidays, sick leave, etc).

2. Align Personality, Skill and Character with the Role
There is plenty of evidence to suggest that certain personality types are better suited to certain tasks than others. For example, if we simply divide people into “big-picture” and “detail oriented”, which of those two types might be better suited to sales, strategy and marketing? And which would you like doing your bookkeeping or accounting?

There are a number of tried and tested profiling tools that may help you to identify characteristics that will align with the results that you are looking for from your new team member. With a DiSC Analysis, you can save yourself a huge amount of time, money and angst that picking the wrong person can cost you.

3. Write Your Advertisement to Your Ideal Candidate
If you write an average ad, you’ll get an average unemployed (or about-to-be-unemployed) person replying to it. Is that what you want?

Given that, if you attract the wrong people to your position and make a poor selection, you could be weeks or months of salary and hair-pulling down the track before you terminate them and start again. So is it worth spending time (maybe hours) and resources (maybe hundreds of dollars for a skilled copywriter) to end up with an ad powerful enough to pull the perfect candidate for your position, away from their current employment and straight to your door? It would appear so.

Tips for an excellent advertisement for a position:
• Start by writing a rambling letter to the ideal candidate about what you want and what you are offering them. Start with money if you must, but then go all the way through “security”, “belonging”, “recognition and rewards”, and into “autonomy, responsibility, and opportunity for personal growth and expression” territory. The right person is going to join the dream that you so persuasively sell them, rather than selling their soul for the money you offer.
• Boil your rambling personal letter down to an elegant letter and put it on a page of your website, and link to it from your ad.
• Boil your elegant letter down into an ad that describes the ideal person in such a way as they would recognize themselves; and describes the job in terms of what they will gain from owning it.
• Rack your brains, take advice – do whatever it takes – to come up with a headline that will call out to your ideal candidate (and which will probably frighten, or put off any less-than-ideal candidates) by being a challenge to growth and adventure.
• Do your research and find out where your ideal candidate is likely to read this.
• Think about leaving the ad running even after you find your ideal candidate. After all, what’s harder to find: An ideal team member, or work for them to perform?

4. Sell Your Vision For Your Business
Do you want people who work (just) for money? Or do you want people who want to contribute to something fabulous, that’s bigger than themselves, into which they can put a piece of themselves and of which they can feel proud?

If you’re after the second lot, then you had better be very good at selling a crystal-clear vision of your dream for your business to them – otherwise you’re likely to attract drones!

What is your Vision? How will you share this in a way that will cause the right candidate to go, “Wow!”, and walk out of their current job to join you?

Yes, you can save yourself the brain drain and skip this step, but what type of candidate are you then likely to end up with?

5. Tailor A Quick Assessment Process
Sometimes it’s just smart to sit down with a professional recruiter at this point (and not before this point!) and have them take charge of the pre-selection process for you.

It can be a time-consuming task sifting through a number of candidates, and it is likely that a good professional will be able to grade a field of candidates against a clear selection criteria quicker and more efficiently than you can. Besides, it puts someone between you and the candidates until you are ready for that one-on-one meeting.

If you are one of those “hands-on” people who wants to run the selection process from end to end, it may still be a smart move to consult a recruitment specialist to develop a set of questions specific to your needs, that will sort the candidates into “As” (appear to have everything we want, right now); “Bs” (could qualify with a bit of development work on our part); and “Cs” – not for this position.

To these “standard” questions, you’ll then add others to determine any objective or professional qualifications, background, experience, etc, that you require or desire in a candidate, by which time you will then have the basis for a quick, preliminary grading system that should avoid you wasting time on the “Cs”.

6. Discover Their Goals And Aspirations First
Give someone enough rope and they are likely to hang themselves – so turn the traditional job interview process around by letting the candidate do the talking.

Use purposeful, open questions (ie, questions that can’t be answered with a single word); ask follow on questions based on their answers to explore some depth to better understand your candidate; occasionally use extending questions (“Tell me a bit more”) or friendly silence to encourage them to go on.

Ask questions to find out what they know about you and your business. If they are worth their salt they will have researched you before their interview (whether on the web, by walk in, or by talking to people who already work for you, know your business, etc).

Set out to discover what makes them tick, and why they would want to work for and with you. Discover what talents, experience, knowledge and ideas they bring to the table, and explore those a little. It is entirely possible that you could start out interviewing a candidate for one job, but end up targeting them for another particularly suited to their talents or background.

Then invite them to ask questions of you. Form your opinions based on the quality of those questions, and the background knowledge from which they are asked.

Listen for the assumptions in their speech to gain a feel for how well their values and expectations align with your own, even at this very early point in your relationship.

Bottom line: You’ll learn much more by listening to them talk and having them ask questions about the job, than you ever will by telling them about the position.

Will cover more in the next blog – so stay tuned.

Combining Vision and Innovation to Create the Future

Begin here to accelerate your success: http://www.ignition-pathway2growth.com/

© Rich Kohler 2015. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at rich@rich-kohler.com.

Stress and Communication – Part 2

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015


In small doses, stress can help you perform under pressure. However, when stress becomes constant and overwhelming, it can hamper effective communication. It disrupts your capacity to think clearly and creatively, act appropriately. When stressed, you’re more likely to misread other people, send confusing nonverbal signals, and lapse into unhealthy knee-jerk patterns of behavior.

Quick stress relief for effective communication

When stress strikes, you can’t always temper it by taking time out to meditate or go for a run, especially if you’re in the middle of a meeting with your boss or an argument with your spouse. By learning to quickly reduce stress in the moment, you can safely face any strong emotions you’re experiencing, regulate your feelings, and behave appropriately.

First, recognize when you’re becoming stressed. Your body will let you know so learn to recognize the cues.

Next, the best way to rapidly and reliably relieve stress is through the senses: sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. Find things that are soothing to you. A TIP for instant stress release:

Pick one thing that inspires a sense of calm, balance and peace within you. One example would be a calm ocean on a clear day. If you live near enough to the beach to be able to physically go there then that’s helpful, but if not, you can use a photo, image in your mind or video. Once you find yourself in a relaxed state – preferably whilst strolling along the sand taking in the smell of the salt on the cool breeze as it gently brushes over you, or otherwise just while meditating or relaxing at home, gaze in a relaxed way at the ocean or image and allow a sense of peace and calm to pervade you. Feel yourself expand with joy, then say over and over to yourself a mantra or verbal cue that you are associating with that image and that feeling for example “calm blue ocean, calm blue ocean”. Breathe slowly and deeply.

Repeat this process as often as possible to really cement it into your mind and body. These are your cues, so the next time you find yourself in a stressful situation that you can’t escape from, take a few slow deep breaths and repeat your mantra to yourself “calm blue ocean, calm blue ocean.” Allow it to infuse a sense of calm as it soothes your adrenals and nerves. You can do this with whatever imagery appeals to you. Some other examples are a green lush forest, a butterfly, a yacht sailing off into the distance, a gentle stream, or fish swimming in a tank.

Stressful conversations

Some practical ways of diffusing a stressful conversation include:
Acknowledge the other persons point of view, “I can see that this is something that you are very passionate about” or “I can feel how frustrating this has been for you”, or “I recognize that you have put a lot of time and effort into this.” Sometimes the acknowledgment and validation can be enough to start to shift a person from stubborn argumentativeness into a softer place of negotiation. We all want to be seen and heard and validated.

Put it on hold. Take a quick break and move away from the situation. Go for a stroll outside if possible, or spend a few minutes focusing on your breathing. Sounds obvious, but try it and see what happens. Breathe in for a slow count of 5, hold for 5 then breathe out for 5. Allow a slight pause between the out breath and the next in breath. You should only need to do this for 1 minute to feel a result.

Physical movement can quickly reduce stress as well. Try going into your office, if it’s private, or into a toilet cubicle. Now this may sound weird, but shake your hands around in front of you, move your arms back and forth like a birds wings, jump up and down and stamp your feet. Shake your head and stretch your jaw like you are doing the worlds biggest yawn, literally shake that stress off of you. Make sure you do this in private lest people think you have lost it.

To make sure communication is one of your strengths, why not try a couple of these tips.

Combining Vision and Innovation to Create the Future

Begin here to accelerate your success: http://www.ignition-pathway2growth.com/

© Rich Kohler 2015. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at rich@rich-kohler.com.

Stress and Communication – Part 1

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

We all come across stress and we all need to communicate. Let’s face it there is no avoiding either of these in our hyper-connected world. Here are some tips and insights that may help to improve both your stress levels and communication.

Communication Tips

  1. Behave. According to Susan Tardanico, CEO of The Authentic Leadership Alliance, “your behavior is your single greatest mode of communication, and it must be congruent with what you say. If your actions don’t align with your words, there’s trouble. And it can turn into big trouble if not corrected swiftly and genuinely. Since it’s often difficult to see the say-do gap in yourself, rely on a few trusted colleagues to tell it to you straight and flag discrepancies.”
    Pick your feedback team and give them explicit permission to be brutally honest with you, you are looking for people who will call you on your BS and call a spade a spade.
  2. Clarity is king. People these days are bombarded by information. Simplicity has never been more powerful or necessary. Effective communications distil complex thoughts and strategies into simple, memorable terms that people can grasp and act upon. If you’re having trouble distilling something to its essence, it may be that you don’t understand it. So get clear and look out for technical jargon and business speak, which add complexity. Say what you mean in as few words as possible.
    One way of testing this is by asking yourself, could this be understood if I had to explain it to a 12 year old.
  3. Listen. A very gifted and highly intelligent scientist once told a story about one of his university professors telling him “you have 2 ears and 1 mouth for a very good reason – listen twice as much as you speak especially if you know you’re not the smartest person in the room. By the way, if you can’t figure out who the smartest person in the room is – then it’s not you”.
  4. Body Language. Listen with your eyes as well as your ears. Remember that effective communication is two-way. It’s easy to be so focused on getting your message out – or persuading others – that you don’t tune in to what you see and hear. You need to read between the lines. Look for the nonverbal cues. Sometimes a person’s body language will tell you everything you need to know. Look at nonverbal communication signals as a group. Don’t read too much into a single gesture or nonverbal cue. Consider all of the nonverbal signals you receive, from eye contact to tone of voice to body language. Anyone can slip up occasionally and let eye contact slip, for example, or briefly cross their arms without meaning to. Consider the signals as a whole to get a better “read” on a person.

Experts recommend using body language to convey positive feelings even when you’re not actually experiencing them. If you’re nervous about a situation-a job interview, important presentation, or first date, for example-you can use positive body language to signal confidence, even though you’re not feeling it. Instead of tentatively entering a room with your head down, eyes averted, and sliding into a chair, try standing tall with your shoulders back, smiling and maintaining eye contact, and delivering a firm handshake. It will make you feel more self-confident and help to put the other person at ease.

Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk – Your Body language Shapes Who You Are, demonstrates the power of this.

Make communication one of your strengths.

Combining Vision and Innovation to Create the Future

Begin here to accelerate your success: http://www.ignition-pathway2growth.com/

© Rich Kohler 2015. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at rich@rich-kohler.com.

Productivity Psychology – Part 2

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

How Food And Diet Affect Productivity
Diet and nutrition are large components of an individual’s lifestyle. The types of food you eat, the portion size, and what time of day you eat it all factor in – directly or indirectly – to productivity.

For example, there’s the argument for breakfast, commonly referred to as the “most important meal of the day.”

Experts say that eating breakfast provides the blood with glucose, which is needed for energy. Since people do not eat during the night, the body’s glucose levels drop during that time period and an early morning breakfast allows the body to break down food into simple sugars that are absorbed into the bloodstream where they travel to the body’s cells to produce energy.

So avoid skipping breakfast or you could be losing out on several hours of productivity until you take your first bite of food for the day.

But which foods encourage productivity? There has been much talk of brain foods – foods that have been said to improve brain function. Here are some foods that have been identified to bolster productivity:

• Berries: The antioxidants found in various berries are supposed to help counteract stress and researchers have found women who ate more blueberries and strawberries were more likely to display less rapid cognitive deterioration as they aged.
• Eggs: Eggs, the yolks specifically, are full of choline, a nutrient often classified with B-complex vitamins. Choline helps maintain the structure of brain cell membranes, which aids brain function.
• Salmon: This fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory agents. These help build up the central nervous system in the brain and helps cognitive function overall.
• Dark Chocolate: Who said chocolate is bad for you? Studies have found that consuming dark chocolate can not only lower blood pressure and increase blood flow to the brain, but it also contains caffeine which is a mild stimulant. In moderation please.


It’s widely known that regular exercise can improve a person’s health, but it’s also known to boost productivity. “Exercising releases endorphins in the brain,” said clinical psychologist Ingeborg Hrabowy.

Endorphins are chemicals that are produced in response to certain stimuli and can originate in various parts of the body, including the pituitary gland, spinal cord and other parts of the brain and nervous system.

“Exercising four times a week for approximately 20 to 30 minutes is the equivalent of 20 milligrams of Prozac. What a boost!” Hrabowy said. “Exercising also de-stresses you, clears the mind, and gives a great break to work and play – all known to increase and boost productivity.”

Recovering from Illness and/or Injury

How productive an individual is often depends on his or her circumstance and certain factors such as illness and disability can hinder productivity.

For example, people who suffer from severe anxiety or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) would have a tendency to recheck their work, which may drag on their productivity, Hrabowy said. Their tendency to become stressed and overwhelmed can also be a barrier to productivity, even if the work is more accurate because the performance would be slower.

Psychological factors influencing productivity:

According to David M. Reiss

  1. Level of maturity and resolution of dependency issues: “Those who are more childlike, immature, or those who are openly or covertly needy and dependent are going to tend to unconsciously nurse an injury longer, and remain disabled longer than a person who has no conflicts regarding being autonomous and productive, or who highly values or even over-values independence and autonomy.”
  2. Family dynamics: Two different types of families: those that will overcompensate and overreact to a person with an injury, providing more attention and caring than would otherwise be available, thus increasing unconscious motivation to maintain the injured role; and dysfunctional families who may react in a negative or hostile way to an injured person, seeing them as useless or worthless. “While at times this will motivate the person to ‘get better’ more often, it will engender anger and a defensive rebellion which will lead to the person unconsciously wanting to prove that they are indeed injured/disabled.”
  3. Peer relationships/enjoyment of work: “People who enjoy their work and have good relationships with peers at work will obviously be better motivated to return to normal functioning; whereas those who are resentful at work, uncomfortable with peers, feeling put-upon or taken advantage of, etc. (even if not intentionally or consciously), will perceive an injury as a ‘ticket out’ and tend to ‘make the most of it.’
  4. Sincerity: “A certain percentage of overtly manipulative people or people with antisocial tendencies will see an injury as an opportunity to intentionally manipulate and misuse the disability system. As opposed to what is commonly assumed, in my experience, among people with who do not respond well to injuries, this group of outright ‘malingerers’ is far, far smaller than those who have difficulties in one of the other three areas.”

A person’s productivity level can be influenced by numerous psychological factors. With the U.S. being a society that is inherently focused on productivity, knowing ways in which to improve productivity can be beneficial in the workplace as well as to a person’s overall health and well-being.

One’s psychology does effect one’s productivity.

Combining Vision and Innovation to Create the Future

Begin here to accelerate your success: http://www.ignition-pathway2growth.com/

© Rich Kohler 2015. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at rich@rich-kohler.com.

Productivity Psychology – Part 1

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

Productivity                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Defined as a measure of the efficiency of a person, machine, factory, or system in converting inputs into useful outputs, and by that definition, productivity among workers has increased in recent years. However, wages seem to have remained stagnant.

Experts and studies have found that human productivity is affected greatly by different psychological factors. And the answer is more than just looking at cute pictures of cuddly animals.

Functions of the brain play a large role in how and why people are productive at work or not so productive. A series of experiments conducted at a factory outside of Chicago from 1924-1932, later dubbed the Hawthorne Effect, revealed that worker productivity increased due to the psychological stimulus of being singled out and made to feel important.

“This intervention makes sense for the average person since on average people (consciously or unconsciously) feel a bit insecure and have vulnerabilities of self-esteem, and therefore, any intervention which reduces that insecurity and improves self-esteem (especially if not implemented in a childish manner) is going to improve mood, reduce anxiety, improve motivation and improve productivity,” said David M. Reiss, MD, a psychiatrist with more than 25 years of experience. “If the ‘singling out’ is done in a way that feels parental, people who are basically more dependent are generally more likely to respond positively, whereas people who are more narcissistic will feel demeaned and it will be counterproductive.”

He added that people with extremely low self-esteem may feel that they don’t deserve the attention, triggering conscious or unconscious guilt or anxiety that may be counterproductive. People who have mild narcissistic tendencies, which includes the average person, will thrive on the attention; people who are severely narcissistic or antisocial may smugly feel that it’s about time they are recognized which could result in resentment, a subtle counterproductive rebellion or a reaction to ‘rest on their laurels’ after the attention and ‘ease up’ rather than becoming motivated to be more productive.

Keeping Busy vs. Being Productive
Workers dread hearing the term “busy work.” The accepted meaning of busy work among Americans are assignments or projects designed to take up time, but that aren’t necessarily constructive or productive.

The problem with busy work, other than frustrating employees and possibly lowering company morale, is that people often mistake being busy with being productive. Even if some work evokes a sense of urgency, it doesn’t mean it’s productive. This blog identifies some common nonproductive tasks such as checking emails, holding meetings, and reading/updating social media. These tasks are important, but can be endless and time-consuming and the problem doesn’t lie so much in the task itself, but in the amount of time dedicated to doing it.

Using the scenario of a person being able to sort through more than 200 emails in less than 15 minutes if needed, he questions why it takes hours every day to check half as many emails if there’s no need to do so.

He deduces: “I believe it’s because you’re accepting email as an interruption and stopping something productive to respond. You’re focused on accomplishing something, just about to have a breakthrough, and [you receive an email]. It’s from your boss, colleague, or grandma. You stop what you’re doing and respond.”

These slight interruptions break concentration and focus, and if they happen several times a day, can significantly impact one’s level of productivity. In order to be productive, why not:
• Only check emails a few times per day.
• Minimize time spent on the phone.
• Keep meetings brief or stay out of them completely.
• Stop “keeping yourself updated” with news and blogs.
• Stay off social media.

However, there are numerous jobs where constant use of social media and perusing of blogs for different trends is the norm, even expected.

Individuals that work extensively with computers, may be part of a growing number of digital-era workers who use two or more computer screens. Whether working at the office or at home, multiple monitors allows users to look at multiple data streams with simply a shifting of the eyes.

There have been studies that find multiple monitors can increase productivity. But experts maintain it really depends on the type of work a person does and the characteristics of the person.

“Multiple screens may actually be less distracting in that [the average person] who is going to wonder what is happening in another area (i.e. on a different screen) will have a tendency to switch back and forth more frequently out of curiosity, which may decrease productivity or even be tiring – probably most of the time checking the other screen will not provide anything useful,” he said. “If all the information is immediately available, a simple glance over may provide reassurance that nothing important is being missed rather than having to actually stop what they are working on and change screens which may allow for better focus and productivity and may reduce a subtle anxiety regarding possibly missing something.”

The psychological effect of multiple monitors on an average person, Reiss said, is that they’re likely to make a person feel more important, thereby improving self-esteem, creating a feeling of respect from employers, and increasing motivation and productivity.

One’s psychology does effect one’s productivity.

Combining Vision and Innovation to Create the Future

Begin here to accelerate your success: http://www.ignition-pathway2growth.com/

© Rich Kohler 2015. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at rich@rich-kohler.com.

I’ll See You at the Top!

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

The last level of Maslow’s Hierarchies is Self-Actualization – a need to express our talents, capabilities and potentialities.


Once we have addressed all of our “lower” needs we come to the one need that Maslow hypothesized we were always seeking to satisfy – the need to give full expression to our “talents, capacities, potentialities”, to pour ourselves into a task so purely that it becomes a reflection of our true self.

We have a drive to “actualize ourselves” in some manner so that our energy, intelligence and talents are fully engaged. He said, “I think of the self-actualizing man not as an ordinary man with something added, but rather as the ordinary man with nothing taken away” by the distractions of having to address other, lower needs.

Most interestingly in our question of solving the people puzzle, and with the Matrix of Competence, Commitment and Engagement in mind, Maslow observed that self-actualizing people seek to commit to something greater than themselves – to a Mission in our terms – and see this as facilitating their own growth and providing an opportunity to succeed at a high level in their chosen activities.

So, it would appear that a leader’s opportunity in addressing the needs of their people, is to create a circumstance in which their people can take ownership of their roles, invest their energy, intelligence and talent in them, and make them their own.

From that point of view it appears that the leaders role is to ensure that there is nothing in the order of lower needs holding their people back, and to then get out of their way!

As a somewhat sad statistic, it is estimated that just 4% of people attain a sense of self-actualization in their work.

Aligning Personal and Organizational Motives

Up until this point, our discussion of primary motivational drivers has sounded very much as though the average person sits back and waits for their leader to take sole responsibility for meeting their hierarchy of needs. However, at least in the case of the more intelligent and responsible of our people, it is highly likely that these folk are used to taking a measure of responsibility for meeting their own needs.

In many cases they are likely to seek to satisfy their needs by committing to and engaging with an organization which they judge to be aligned with their own personal vision, mission and values (whether those are expressly articulated or simply exist as a general feeling of what works for them).

And those of this class who don’t choose to join the organization? Well, they start their own businesses!

Maslow’s Hierarchy

You don’t need to be a psychologist or psychoanalyst to understand and apply what we have covered in this series. All it takes is a basic understanding and respect for the individual.

Combining Vision and Innovation to Create the Future

Start here to gain that competitive edge: http://www.ignition-pathway2growth.com/

© Rich Kohler 2015. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at rich@rich-kohler.com.

How to Give Praise

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

This is a follow-on to the Recognition piece we discussed last time.

We’ve probably all cringed at one time or another as a well-meaning person mangled their attempt to publicly praise someone, usually by directing their praise at the person and their qualities, and thus causing huge embarrassment on the part of their subject and on their audience alike. The intended purpose – to celebrate the result and to have the individual feel elevated and valued – is usually swamped by the huge cringe-factor and is lost entirely.

If the intention of the person issuing the praise was to reinforce the behavior by attaching a pleasant experience to it, they may well have had the exactly opposite effect by motivating their hapless subject to never again perform at a level that will bring them public notice and humiliation.

It pays to be aware of the huge, positive, free energy boost delivered to all parties when recognition is effectively delivered and to invest the small amount of forethought required to ensure that you do an expert job of it each time the occasion arises.

Here is a simple, four-step process that works every time:

Clearly state the precise result for which the person or team are being recognized and put it into the context of the organization’s goals (“Thanks to your work, we’ve just won first place out of more than 250 competitors in this month’s Service Awards Ratings.”).

Give some details of the key behaviors that brought about the result. (“The judges said that our team was the friendliest and most helpful by a significant margin. We go the extra mile for our customers without any hint of frustration or impatience and make everyone feel welcome when they contact us. As a result our customer satisfaction score was one of the highest they have ever seen.”)

Praise the behavior with reference to your values. (“It fills me with enormous pride when I hear of our people breathing life into our Mission ‘To create extraordinary shopping moments with quality products and sincere service.’ Your performance was as ‘extraordinary’ as the experience you created for your customers; and the sincerity of your service was certainly borne out by their feedback. Well done everyone. You deserve the prize this month, and you deserve the respect of every one of us on your team.”)

Ask a relevant question. (“So, is there any one thing that you chose to really focus on that you think played a key part in your results?”)
The last step in the process is intended to short-circuit any embarrassment that may be rising in those being recognized. It does so by deflecting their (and their audience’s) attention away from themselves and towards your question and to reflection on their actions.

If you omit this step, there is the risk that a shy person may be deterred from future excellence, or that a person of low self-esteem may, in the instant of receiving the praise, question their right to be recognized and may subconsciously reject the praise. Thus, they would have negated its effectiveness in endorsing their worth to the team and to themselves, and its effectiveness in motivating them towards further excellence.

Hopefully, you now have a tool to help you next time you give praise.

Combining Vision and Innovation to Create the Future

Start here to gain that competitive edge: http://www.ignition-pathway2growth.com/

© Rich Kohler 2015. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at rich@rich-kohler.com.