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 A-B-C’s (and D-E-F’s) of Motivating Your Workplace Team

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New Employee Incentive Plan: Work or get fired.” — Hand-lettered sign behind the counter of a country store.

According to a recent story in Inc. magazine, Brian Halligan, CEO of software marketing firm Hubspot, has a singular way of handling go-getter employees who present him with great ideas with the potential to improve the company’s bottom line.

He fires them.

The punchline? He fires them from their “day jobs.” He then appoints them as the CEOs of their own change initiatives, something like little start-up companies within the company. Read more…

HR Management

A Good Reminder of Why You Always Need to Have a Backup Plan

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It seems to me that everything that happens to us is a disconcerting mix of choice and contingency.” — Dame Penelope Lively, British author.

On the morning of Feb. 15, 2013, a fireball ripped through the sky above the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, exploding 18 miles up after leaving a streak of fire tens of miles long.

The minor asteroid, which was about the size of an apartment building, was actually the second to have visited the Siberian region in a little over a century: 1908′s Tunguska meteor, which was about the same size, fortunately fell to Earth in an uninhabited wilderness, blowing down and charring 800 square miles of timber. Read more…

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…