5 Tips for Improving Employee Engagement and Productivity

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Whether you’re an entrepreneur or a manager at a large corporation — managing your team is the foundation of your success. Keeping your team productive, engaged, and happy is vital.  Here are five tips to help you in this process:

1) Provide Praise & Recognition

Everyone appreciates praise for a job well done. If an employee performed well on a project, be sure to acknowledge their accomplishments, especially in front of others. People want to feel like they and the work they do is valued and recognized. Otherwise, it may seem like they are doing work for nothing or that someone else is receiving credit for their work. However, giving too much praise can be a negative as well. It’s key to strike a balance.

2) Give Constructive Criticism

It’s important to give feedback to employees. However, make sure that it’s constructive. Believe or not, people actually value feedback – just not when it is insignificant, disrespectful, or unnecessary. Constructive criticism should focus on what the employee can do better, not necessarily what he/she is doing wrong. Of course, feedback can be negative but it should be delivered in a way that encourages your employee to want to perform better.

3) Touch Base Regularly

While your schedule can be crazy, it’s important to not forget to touch base with those on your team. This makes sure that you are all aligned on the priorities for the short term. If people have a clear understanding of what needs to get done, they will be more efficient. Regular meetings also allow you to connect with those you manage and understand their needs.

4) Have an Open Door Policy

Communication is the key to teamwork. Keep your door open and encourage open communication. If your employees feel like they can’t come to you with questions or concerns, the more time they will waste trying to figure it out themselves. Employees are the most productive when they feel like they have the support they need to do their job.

5) Don’t Micromanage

While you may want to be in control on everything that is going on, it’s important for you to let your employees do their job — on their own. Micromanaging can actually lead to less productivity. Employees may feel like they are not in control of what they are doing. They will do as they are told, rather than coming up with big ideas.

It’s ‘Mo Time: Why I’m Growing a Mustache in November

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The picture to the right is of me — five days into Movember, a global effort to raise awareness and money for men’s health issues.

Movember was started several years ago in Australia as a fundraising effort among 30 people. Now, it involves more than one million people worldwide.  (See the video at the end of this post for the full history).

Why am I participating in Movember?  Simple: Prostate cancer was one of the diseases that hit my father in his final years, and one of the causes of his eventual passing in December 2012.

He had beat the prostate cancer, but then got bladder cancer.  The combination of the radiation from both cancer fights fried his kidneys, and kidney failure is what ended up taking his life.

Prostate cancer also has impacted other close members of my family.

As you can imagine, I hate cancer.

But I also love mustaches.

As such, Movember was a perfect fit for me.

I’ll continue to post pictures as my ‘stache fills out.

I’d love if it you could help the cause by clicking here to make a contribution to the effort.

Thanks so much — and I hope you enjoy the mustache pics.

It’s ‘Mo time!

5 Easy Tips to Create an Effective To-Do List

Creating and effective to-do list

Creating an effective to-do list is the foundation of any productivity plan. Many entrepreneurs, however, struggle with this seemingly basic exercise. While you may think you have all your tasks sorted out in your head, even the people with the best memories will have a hard time keeping track of everything they have to do without writing it down.

I’m a huge fan to making to-do lists. It’s just a simple way to get your brain organized. The less you have to remember, the better. You’ll also be able to focus on bigger-picture items, rather than that email you have to respond to.

Here are a few easy steps to making an effective to-do list:

1) Write It All Down

Whether you actually write it down on a piece of paper or type it up in a spreadsheet is up to you. However, get your to-do list started. Write down everything you have to do. To be even more organized, you can also have multiple lists- one for work and one for personal. Keep in mind that items on your to-do list should focus on the short term and be realistic and attainable. For instance, mowing the lawn belongs on your to-do list. Paying off your mortgage does not.

2) Prioritize

Once you have everything written down, prioritize them. Think about when your deadlines are for each one and get started on those that are most important.

3) Set Goals

After you’ve prioritized your list, make a plan. Set some goals – how many tasks do are you aiming to accomplish today? How much time will you set aside for each task? Setting a goal will also help you evaluate how successful you are and whether or not you’re using your time effectively.

4) Re-Evaluate

At the end of each day, go back to your to-do list and re-evaluate it. As our lives are constantly changing every day, something that wasn’t so important yesterday may be more urgent today. Tasks on your to-do list need to be re-prioritized constantly. Also, take a look at your list as a whole after each day – are you making any progress? If not, your goals may not be realistic. Try breaking them down into smaller tasks.

5) Stick To It

Your to-do list should be a living, breathing document. In order for it to function and be effective, you need to update it constantly. It’s easy to start a to-do list but the hard part is sticking to it. Check things off as you finish them. Add new tasks consistently. If you put a conscious effort into maintaining your list, you’ll find that it’ll become second nature to use it.

While to-do lists may be seem like a nuisance, it is actually a very effective tool. Keeping at least one to-list will keep your more organized and your day that much easier. It’s also a great feeling once you can cross off something on your list.