Go Beyond the Checklist

Checklist IILet it be known that I’m a fan of checklists. There’s a certain excitement felt by checking off items as they’re completed.

Recently I met with several managers in the company regarding a specific project. Each of them, myself included, owned a portion of the project. One by one they told me they had completed their portion. Each person truly had checked off their assigned task.

However, the overall project wasn’t progressing.

Too much focus had been placed on the tasks – and not the overall goal of the project. Each step was being done but without a visual of what needed to be achieved.

Communication, coordination and a drive for project success (not just completion) were lacking.

Look at your to-do list this week – which tasks are achieving higher, overarching company goals?

I’m reviewing my checklist, updating my priorities, and emphasizing success that exceeds my individual tasks. We’ll see what improvements this makes over the next few weeks.


5 Productive Tips

5_small__7310883864Today’s business environment is a continuous flow of high stress and high demands. Working professionals are constantly bombarded with new tasks, assignments, projects, and deadlines.

Staying busy is easy, staying productive is a challenge.

Here are 5 Tips to help you be more Productive Right Now!

  1. Stop reading articles about productivity and start doing something. Anything! Seriously, stop reading this article and go get something accomplished. Pick one thing you need to get done today and do it. Don’t stop to check email, don’t pay attention to app notifications, LinkedIn request, or Facebook messages, focus on the task at hand and give it 100% of your time and attention for at least 90 minutes. Ready… Go!
  2. Reread Tip #1 because obviously it didn’t sink in.
  3. Really, you’re still reading this!?
  4. I’m completely baffled that you’ve arrived at Tip #4. This shows a total disregard for Tip #1. Yes, this article could have just said “1 Tip to Productivity” but nobody reads an article with just a single tip. Nonetheless, the list really only has 1 tip, 2-5 are meaningless.
  5. And yet, you read on. My only conclusion is that your productivity is at such a high level that you’ve accomplished all you wanted to today and now are merely reading articles in search of a tidbit of wisdom or perhaps and splash of humor to brighten your day. In that case, hopefully these tips provided a dash of both.

That’s it. There is no more value in continuing to read this article. In fact, I’ve got a massive list of things to accomplish today as I’ve exhausted my knowledge of productivity. Therefore I will stop writing about working and actually get back to work. Oh, that would have been a good Tip #2 “Stop writing about Productivity and Start Doing”. Wish I’d have thought of that ten minutes ago.


photo via

Work Hard, Play Hard

Today’s business environment is challenging. It requires hard work and determination to be successful. The argument of whether it’s better to work smart or work hard has raged on for years. Hard work will always be required to be successful, but what if the new “work smart” is actually “play”?

Over the past few years a major change has occurred as Generation “Y” (or the Millennial Generation) become more prevalent in the workforce. The sales and operation team I work with today is far different from the teams I worked with just 5 years ago. Employees still work hard, but motivators and drivers are vastly different. Many articles indicate this is a generational thing. I believe it is social thing.

Society rewards activities as much as it rewards actual results. If you play a half game of baseball as a kid, you still get a whole snow cone (as comedian Brian Regan so humorously explains). Trophies and awards are given for participating and not just for winning. It goes beyond kids though. Trophies, awards, stickers and badges are earned by adults through a variety of apps, websites and games. People like to be recognized and rewarded – it’s fun.

Smart phones, mobile apps and social media are increasing the ways people get rewarded or recognized and allowing us to communicate recognitions on a wider scale. These mediums also allow others to interact with us through dialog or “likes” about the award or activity that sparked it. On the app GetGlue you can get stickers for “check-ins” when watching movies or TV shows. The sticker in itself isn’t anything special, but sharing it with friends on Facebook has value.

The same concepts that motivate people in their personal or social lives can be transferred to their work lives. This is where play comes in. Taking game elements and building them into a business, concept or system is becoming known as gamification. This doesn’t mean employees are playing games all day, but certain aspects of gaming can be built into daily work activities. Gamification recognizes employees for completing daily, weekly or monthly assignments. Game elements include leader boards (to see who is wining and by how much), awards (in the form of virtual stickers, badgers, or trophies) and achievement levels (helping people feel they are advancing and accomplishing something).

This is about more than just games though. This is about tapping into a core psychological and sociological need. The awards and recognitions are nice, but the need to share and be heard is crucial. Creating gaming elements within your business can be powerful.

The term gamification may be new, but this has been going on in business for a long time. Sales managers, HR Directors, Directors of Organizations Development and others who are in charge of sales results, employee engagement and employee retention work on this every day. Contests, team activities, goal charts, leader boards and scoreboards all have game elements in them. Sales Managers spend countless hours each month creating contests to drive sales and encourage the right business results.

It might appear to be a lot of work. Several companies sell programs to create gamification elements for you. However, any business owner or manager can create ways to:

  • Award activities
  • Recognize results
  • Taught accomplishments
  • Reward behavior

The key to success is creating opportunities that allow employees to share their accomplishments. The more they are able to share with coworkers, friends and family, the more valuable the recognition becomes.

Embrace the idea of play; use it as a positive motivator. By including gaming elements at work and making it fun, employees will feel more valued. When people enjoy their job it translates into increased productivity and more importantly better customer interactions. We’re in a tough economy, but if we work hard and play hard, it won’t be so hard.