Marla Lepore

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Innovative Productivity Hacks from the World’s Top-Performing Teams

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More and more organizations are recognizing that a team approach can be a key driver of business performance. But just having teams isn’t the answer, of course. Those teams have to be productive and able to work together to deliver more value as a whole than they would as individuals.

The stakes are high: If the team breaks down or can’t get it together, the business suffers. So we decided to take a look at what some of the world’s best-performing teams are doing to see what we can learn from their productivity and performance secrets.

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6 Must-Have Tips for Using Thinking Styles in Job Design

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Would it surprise you to learn that the more independence and self-determination someone has over their work, the more satisfied they are with their job?

Probably not. After all, it seems pretty obvious that the more say you have in terms of how you get your job done, the happier you’ll be in it. And the happier and more engaged you are in the work, the more productive you’re likely to be.

A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Birmingham Business School confirms the connection between work autonomy and job satisfaction. As one of the researchers, Dr. Daniel Wheatley, puts it, "Greater levels of control over work tasks and schedule have the potential to generate significant benefits for the employee, which was found to be evident in the levels of reported well-being."

But most roles aren’t designed to give people that kind of autonomy. In general, jobs are structured around specific tasks, and accountability is assigned so that the person’s performance can be measured and evaluated. This makes sense as far as it goes, particularly in jobs where collaborative, creative effort isn’t a priority (increasingly rare as that is), but even in narrow functional roles, one size doesn’t fit all. Sure, you can go with a “force fit” approach that says, “it’s this way or no way.” But you might just lose some talented, hard-working people in the process.

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Teach Your Employees How to Deal With Fear So They Can Get Ahead

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If you’re a leader or an HR professional, one of your jobs is to help others grow, whether through developing new skills or encouraging them to take the leap to new responsibilities. But just because you’re confident the person’s ready for the next step, it doesn’t mean the employee is. Even an employee who’s been asking for the promotion or appealing to get involved with high-profile projects can suddenly get cold feet when that dream turns into a reality.

It’s not all that surprising when you think about it, though. Change, even welcome change, can be scary. You’re entering the unknown, the expectations are high and you have a lot to learn. And we know that learning is uncomfortable. So, when you’re working with someone who seems reluctant to take a big step, or maybe they’re struggling in a new role, the culprit might be something very simple and primal: fear.

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Brain Trust Blueprint: The #1 Trait of Unbeatable Teams [INFOGRAPHIC]

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Teams have never been more important in business. But with the demands and complexities of today’s work environment—not to mention the challenges of working with global, remote or regularly changing team members—working in a team isn’t always easy.

A great team is a “brain trust” of diverse thinkers, one that’s greater than the sum of its parts. They’re collaborators you can count on to bring new perspectives to the table, listen to and value your ideas, and stay accountable to common goals, especially when the pressure heats up.

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How to Use a Team Dashboard to Improve Collaboration

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Is your team’s specialty putting out fires?

Being able to deal with a big crisis is a good skill for any team to have. But why wait until the sirens are blasting to think about your team’s performance?

Not every crisis can be prevented, but many teams keep getting caught off guard by problems that could have been identified and addressed long before they turned into an emergency. Without regular maintenance checks to provide line of sight to performance and progress, though, it can be difficult to detect the little sparks that, over time, can do a whole lot of damage.

A team dashboard is a great way to get everyone on the same page and make sure the team isn’t missing any important checks or clues to potential problems down the road. It can help your team sidestep the preventable problems and be better prepared when the unavoidable happens.

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How to Create Mentoring Relationships That Really Work

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What’s the number one thing your company can do to attract the best and brightest up-and-coming talent? Provide them with opportunities to learn and grow.

But what about keeping them once they join your organization?

More and more, companies are discovering that an effective mentoring program is one of the most powerful ways to build loyalty. According to Deloitte’s 2016 Millennial Survey, millennial employees who intend to stay with their organization for more than five years are twice as likely to have a mentor (68%) than not (32%).

But it’s not as simple as setting up a mentoring program. Whether or not a mentor pair is successful is highly dependent on the effectiveness of the mentor-mentee match.

So, how do you make a good match?

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4 Team Meeting Ideas to Refresh Your Routine

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Month after month (or maybe it’s week after week), your team gets together for its regularly scheduled meeting. It’s an important chance to connect, check progress, work through current issues and come up with new ideas and strategies for the future.

But is it all starting to feel a bit stale?

As John Medina, author of the book Brain Rules, has noted, “People don't pay attention to boring things. So if you really want to have a lousy meeting, make sure it's boring.” In other words, if it’s not somewhat interesting and fun, the brain checks out. And that means boring meetings are more than just potential morale killers and insomnia cures; they can also be a colossal waste of time.

So, back to that regularly scheduled meeting: When was the last time you looked over your team meeting routine? Now might be a good time for a refresh.

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No More Snoozers: How to Lead an Effective Meeting

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In Verizon Conferencing’s “Meetings in America” study, 91% of meeting attendees admitted to daydreaming during meetings. Nearly 40% of the respondents said they’ve taken a nap during a meeting. Are people sleeping through your meetings?

With attention at a premium in today’s world, keeping people engaged, even when they’re sitting right in front of you, is one of the biggest challenges you face when leading a meeting. If they’re not literally asleep, your participants might be texting, checking their emails or just generally tuned out. Telling people to put away their phones isn’t the answer. Making your meetings more effective is.

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The Verdict Is In: Performance Reviews Are Out

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Is it time to hop off the performance review train?

More and more companies are moving away from the traditional approach to performance management to one of continuous feedback. It’s partly a response to a growing desire among employees, particularly Millennials, for regular feedback and check-ins about performance. But it’s also due to the general consensus of managers and employees alike that the tried-and-true performance review process hasn’t really done the job it was intended to do.

Along with this shift, a whole host of new tools and systems for managing the feedback process has been introduced. In fact, we’ve been working with North Highland on integrating the HBDI® into a feedback app called Culr, which brings feedback and thinking styles together for an all-in-one approach to real-time development and performance management. 

As helpful as these new tools are, though, technology can’t do all the work for you. Effective feedback and performance review discussions still require the human-to-human connection of manager and employee. Regardless of what else changes, you can’t take the people out of the process.

So what has changed? In many ways, this is a move from performance management as an event and a “verdict” to continuous coaching, which is less about the past and more focused on the future and the necessary adjustments that need to be made along the way.

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The Future of Employee Assessments: Integrating Diagnostics, Insights and Application

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The world of learning and development is changing at an unbelievably rapid pace. From artificial intelligence to augmented reality, some of the concepts and mechanisms that, on the surface, might seem “out there” are actually already gaining traction in today’s learning environments. And like that rearview mirror warning, innovations of the future are closer than they appear.

It’s an exciting time to be working on innovations around learning, to say the least. One area that we’ve been focused on in particular is the future of thinking-based employee assessments and how they fit into the process of building insights that can be applied to everyday business issues. Our London-based innovation lab is looking at everything from the way people communicate to how they use social media to the way they play games and use technology.

We connected up recently with Ann Herrmann-Nehdi (CEO of Herrmann International / Herrmann Global), Karim Nehdi (Global Head of Innovation), and Danny Stanhope (Applied Data Scientist and Psychometrician) for a wide-ranging discussion about the evolution and future of assessments in light of new directions in learning, new technological advances and new learner expectations. Here are some highlights from that conversation.

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