Laura Stack

Laura Stack is one of America's premier experts on productivity, and her company, The Productivity Pro, Inc., provides workshops around the globe on productivity, potential, and performance. She’s the author of six books, most recently, “Execution IS the Strategy: How Leaders Achieve Maximum Results in Minimum Time.” Contact her at laura@theproductivitypro.com, or you can connect with her on LinkedIn.

Articles by Laura Stack

Leadership, Talent Management

The Real Test of a Manager? It’s Successfully Fighting for Your Team

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The healthiest competition occurs when average people win by putting in above average effort.” — Gen. Colin Powell, former U.S. Secretary of State

As Tarzan liked to remind Jane after a hard day’s work, it’s a jungle out there.

The business world has become more competitive than ever given the global market and the exploding Chinese and Indian economies. While that also provides more opportunity, because the pie has grown bigger, we still have to scramble for our slices. We all require agility, efficiency, and speed if we’re to get what we need. Read more…

HR Insights, Talent Management

The Top 5 Workplace Time Traps

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Remember cartoon character George Jetson’s grueling two-hour workday, which earned him a deluxe apartment in the sky? Whatever happened to that future?

Instead of enjoying a shrinking work week due to better technology, as we’ve expected for decades, the average American work week has actually grown to nearly 60 hours!

How is it that we have less discretionary time and work harder than ever, even though technological breakthroughs have made us all incredibly productive? Read more…

HR Management, Training & Development

Managing vs. Coaching? In Today’s Workplace, You Really Need Both

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Seek opportunities to show you care. The smallest gestures often make the biggest difference.” — John Wooden, longtime UCLA men’s basketball coach

Despite what some people may think, being a manager is no walk in the park.

In fact, the combination of mental work, social interaction, project juggling, time management challenges, high pressure, responsibility, and variability makes it among the more demanding types of work any person can take on. The hours are terrible and the stress is inevitable. Read more…

Leadership

4 Ways to Help Take Your Team From Good to Great

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No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking.”Voltaire, French writer and philosopher

While perfection may not be possible, there’s no reason not to strive for it — as long as you don’t focus so tightly on that goal you can’t actually accomplish anything.

Instead, by continually improving your systems, processes, and productivity over time, you’ll go from mediocre to superior.

I realize some readers might look askance at this idea, since just about every CEO in America has read Jim Collins’ 2001 book Good to Great. If upgrading from good to great were easy, then why do every day companies still outnumber the great by a factor of hundreds to one? Read more…

Training & Development

The Big Benefits That Come From Consistent Training

Employee training

Success in business requires training and discipline and hard work. But if you’re not frightened by these things, the opportunities are just as great today as they ever were.” — David Rockefeller, American banker

Great managers understand that in order for your team members to be productive and do a great job, they need to have the right tools.

Some need blazing-fast computing power; others require smartphones and tablets that let them do their work on the go; still others might require specialized instruments to maximize their performance. Read more…

HR Management, Leadership

Management 101: Making the Wrong Decision vs. Making No Decision

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“It doesn’t matter which side of the fence you get off on sometimes. What matters most is getting off. You cannot make progress without making decisions.” –- Jim Rohn, American motivational speaker.

By the time you reach management, you certainly know the consequences of paralysis analysis.

This “vapor lock” of the brain can kill a project through indecision and perfectionism as surely as pulling its funding. In fact, pulling a project’s funding represents a cleaner fate, because the project dies suddenly, rather than flopping around like a fish out of water, pretending to be viable for months or years, causing damage to the entire organization. Read more…

Leadership

Getting Outside the Box: The 5 Behaviors of Successful Leaders

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“I think frugality drives innovation, just like other constraints do. One of the only ways to get out of a tight box is to invent your way out.”Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com.

If I had to pick just one piece of business advice that’s become pure cliché over the past few decades, I’d select “think outside the box.”

I’ve heard this so many times in business circles, I have to resist rolling my eyes when I hear it. However, the intent has merit. Read more…

Training & Development

The 7 Keys to Great Coaching – and Boosting Employee Productivity

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“In both children and adults, there can be a hard-to-deny link between a robust sense of hope and either work productivity or academic achievement.”Jeffrey Kluger, senior writer for TIME Magazine.

Today’s leaders communicate a vision for the team and blaze the trail for everyone to follow. They figuratively fire up a bulldozer, clear out the brush, and smooth the way from here to there.

Leaders make it easy for people to get where they need to go — and give them hope that they can. Coaching has always been one of the primary ways to achieve this, by offering workers the opportunity to improve. To paraphrase an old Meineke Muffler commercial, coaching can “make them fit.” Read more…

Rewards & Recognition, Talent Management

Giving Thanks: Yes, It REALLY Can Contribute to the Bottom Line

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Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.”A.A. Milne, British author of Winnie the Pooh

Shortly after Robert Eckert joined the ailing Mattel toy company as CEO back in Y2K, he convened a large meeting of all its employees to thank them all for their fine work — and for the even finer work they were about to do.

Eckert firmly believed that most people go to work willing to over-deliver. From that foundational belief, a culture of gratitude sprung forth, allowing Mattel to become the envy of the manufacturing industry.

While it took several years to turn the company around, Mattel made Fortune‘s list of the Best Companies to Work For from 2008 through 2013. Read more…

HR Insights, Talent Management

The Art of Communicating Employee Expectations

Photo illustration by Dreamstime.

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” — George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright.

In general, people like to talk more than they like to listen. This causes enough problems in the normal course of human affairs, but in the workplace, poor communication can result in a loss of time and money.

Consider this minor example: A technical writer explains to his editor that the client wants to use an archaic spelling for a specific word on a report’s cover. Nevertheless, she changes it to the accepted modern spelling. Read more…