Resource Library: The Strategies To Improve Productivity





In this section we give you plenty of tips, tricks and secrets on how to avoid this oft quoted statistic:

As much as 60% of the work done at the average business is spent doing
- the right thing wrong
- the wrong thing right
- correcting the wrong thing to make it right
- supervising people so that they are doing the right thing, the right way, at the right time and
   using the right quantity of resources


I don't have the time

Steps To Effective Delegation

Making Your Workplace A Fun Place

Making Changes To Work Processes

Connecting Over The Phone

The Immutable Law Of Change

Improving Short-Term Performance

Are You The Source Of Conflict In Your Business?

Strategies For Handling Tardy People

Find Out What Staff Members Want

Road Testing New Staff Before They Start

Start Preparing to Employ More Older People

Planning Workplace Flexibility For The Sandwich Generation

Do You Know What Your Staff’s Motivational “Hot Buttons” Are?

Making The Most Of Incentive Programs

Getting The Most Out Of Meetings

A Smart Question To Ask Job Applicants

Review Training Material Immediately




I don't have the time


“I don't have time” has got to be one of the most over-used excuses in history, particularly in the last decade or so.

In the last issue of the Positive Business newsletter we posed to you, tongue-in-cheek, this simple conundrum:

Why is it the busy people always have time to tell you how busy they are!
Well, you wouldn't believe it; I had a phone call from a person who really wanted to let me know just how busy he was. And he was proud of his solution, which was to use every available moment in time to do something constructive, and this included listening to audios whilst shaving and reading whilst spending the obligatory time in the bathroom…my newsletter, no doubt!

As I said to the caller, what you do with time is a matter of choice and how badly you want a positive outcome to the goal or dream you are striving towards.

I'm sure many subscribers saw the movie Presumed Innocent, starring Harrison Ford. It was written by Scott Turow, and he wrote the novel on a legal pad, using only the time he had available whilst commuting by train to New York City every morning to go to work.

He desperately wanted to be a writer and not an attorney. It comes down to how badly you want it.

Source: Positive Business Newsletter



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Steps To Effective Delegation


Delegation has a number of advantages. It can free up your work schedule and it can provide an opportunity for your staff to learn and grow.

But to be successful at delegating you need to follow these four steps.

1. Clearly define the task.
To ensure the staff member understands what you’ve asked of them, ask them to explain it back to you.

2. Specify a deadline for the completion of the task.

3. Define the person’s authority in relation to the task.

4. Establish intermediate goals so that you can monitor progress and offer input.

- Adapted from “If You Want It Done Right, You Don’t Have To Do It Yourself! The Power of Effective Delegation” by Donna Genett as reported in Positive Business Newsletter


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Making Your Workplace A Fun Place


Laughter is the best medicine - and it also applies to the workplace. A survey of 1,000 Australian workers found that 80% of them regularly used laughter in their daily work to combat work-related stress. Eighty-one per cent of workers also said laughter on the job made them more productive.

Comical work colleagues, unusual customer requests and their bosses’ habits were the main causes of mirth. Many companies apparently understand the benefits of laughter in the workplace, with three-quarters of those surveyed saying the culture supported their sense of humour.

More humour and less stress have been shown to reduce staff turnover, boost staff morale and cuts absenteeism. Remember this too: The best face-lift is a smile.

What can you do to inject a bit of silliness and make your business a fun place to work?

You might be able to get some ideas from the very successful series of Fish books. These short, punchy, management books are in the style of the earlier bestseller Who Moved My Cheese?

The Fish philosophy is centred round the four basic principles of “Play”, “Make Their Day” and “Be There”, which encourages fun and interaction with other staff members - and the final principle of “Choose Your Attitude”.

This principle requires the individual to take responsibility for their attitude and get the best out of themselves. The manager’s role is simply to explain to staff that they have a choice in the attitude they adopt and perhaps to give them some ideas about how to have some fun.

The Fish books provide a number of examples of how to have fun at work, such as games, competitions and role-playing. It’s up to your staff to come up with ideas for encouraging fun in the workplace – ideas that you can then put into practice.

If that seems a little daunting to set up, Customer Care Solutions have a program called fun@work that uses fun problems as part of its team-building exercises. Further information can be found on their web site at www.customer-care.com.au

Do you consider your business a fun place to work?
Yes | No | Sometimes

How often do you hear laughter from your staff?
Often | Rarely

Will you be introducing a “fun” program in your business?
Yes | No | Maybe

Source: Positive Business Newsletter



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Making Changes To Work Processes


To successfully make changes in your workplace you need to have everyone onboard. But don’t try to get them all to accept change at once. Some staff members will not react well to it initially.

Identify which of these three groups each of your staff members belong.

1. Innovators and early adopters
Some people love the challenge of change for its excitement and the opportunity to be a leader. Offer these staff members the chance to research the topic, developing prototypes, and motivate the entire team.

2. Careful majority
Most people support change once they’re reasonably sure it will succeed. Explain to these workers in detail what the change will mean and how it will benefit them and the company. Eventually they’ll follow the lead of their more adventurous co-workers.

3. Holdouts
A few staff members may resist - and even sabotage - change because they feel uncomfortable about it, don’t believe in it or can’t see any benefits in it for themselves. Provide them with reasons and opportunities to get onboard - but let them know what the price will be if they don’t accept change.

- Adapted from “Change is like a Slinky” by Hans Finzel as reported in Positive Business Newsletter


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Connecting Over The Phone


Because you cannot interpret body language when you are communicating over the phone it is imperative that you ask frequent feedback questions.

Questions like:

Does it make sense to you?
Is this the type of thing you’re looking for?
Am I on the right track?
Is this adding up?
Do you follow my logic so far?
Yes, they are closed questions, but they do give you the opportunity to assess the voice tone and from there you can ask questions so as to open up conversation.

Questions like: Please explain what you mean by that? Can you expand on that?

Source: The Competitive Advantage, USA as reported in Positive Business Newsletter



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The Immutable Law Of Change


To persuade a group to accept change, consider the “2-6-2” principle. This proposes that two out of 10 people will oppose it, six out of 10 will wait and see, and two out of ten will embrace it.

Here’s how you use the principle to your advantage:

Don’t try to sway the opinion of the 20% who oppose it.
Give the 20% who are on side all they need to make change work.

When the 60% who are sitting on the fence see that the pro-change group is producing results, they’ll join that team.

Source: Communications Briefings, USA as reported in Positive Business Newsletter



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Improving Short-Term Performance


According to the International Society for Performance Improvement, people will increase their performance by as much as 27% when motivated by short-term incentive programs. The key is to dangle an exciting reward that doesn’t take long for staff to achieve, or not achieve.

Source: Potentials Magazine, USA as reported in Positive Business Newsletter



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Are You The Source Of Conflict In Your Business?


I suspect that more than a few business owners/managers are unknowingly the source of conflict within the business and certainly, this is having an adverse effect on the other staff members.

If this is you, ask yourself this question: “Do I want to be right, or do I want to resolve situations?”

Some other thoughts:

Watch your body language and particularly your tone of voice.
Think positive and get into the habit of avoiding negative talk.

Final comment: It’s all up to you. You alone can make the change and begin to reap the benefits of a more positive workplace or you can continue to stir and churn the negativity that already exists.

Source: Communication Briefings, USA as reported in Positive Business Newsletter


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Strategies For Handling Tardy People


They’re awfully frustrating, aren’t they? Tardy people who operate to their own clock and on one else’s are just plain rude. Sometimes, they’ll offer an apology but often it’s not sincere. Here’s what to do:

(1) Let people know in advance that punctuality is important.
(2) Set time limits. Instead of saying “I’ll see you at 2pm” say “I have set aside 3pm to 3.30pm for our meeting.” In this way, if they are late – arriving at say 3.20pm – you can say “I only have 10 minutes left for you, let’s get down to business.”
(3) Give reasons. When making appointments explain why it is important that time commitments are respected.
(4) Encourage promptness by rewarding it.
Source: Positive Business Newsletter



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Find Out What Staff Members Want


If members of your team show signs of boredom or frustration, you’ll need to make some adjustments before morale is damaged and productivity declines. To help improve their attitudes, you must first find out what kind of change your staff members want.

Start by asking people these questions:

1. What do you like best and least about your job?
2. What skills do you use and what skills aren’t you using?
3. What new skills would you like to learn?
4. Where in the business would you really like to work?
5. Would you like more or less responsibility?
6. Do you prefer working in a team or alone?
7. What makes you proud about your work?
8. What can the company do to enrich your job?

And here’s a question that IS important.

If you could change anything you want in this business to make your job more exciting, rewarding and productive, what would it be?

Source: Adapted from “Challenge Your Employees,” and as reported in Positive Business Newsletter


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Road Testing New Staff Before They Start


A recent Australian survey of a thousand job applicants found that 20% of respondents put false information in their resume.

Really? Wow, what a surprise?

All of this demonstrates, yet again, a point I have been hammering for years. That is, always (did you note that the word “always” was underlined?) check an applicant's employment history and always (again, this word is underlined for a reason) check that they can do what they say they can do.

If they are applying for a job as a mechanic, get them to strip down a motor and put it back together again. If they are applying for a job as a typist or data operator, get them to perform a specific test on the computer and see how they go.

If you don't make job applicant testing a part of your normal business systems, you'll be sorry… and your bank balance will be lighter!

Oh yes, back to that survey. Does it surprise you to know that just about all applicants who had criminal offences for theft etc failed to reveal this in their resume?

No? I thought not.

More reasons why employers should check applicants' employment history, references and credit or criminal records.

Source: Positive Business Newsletter


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Start Preparing to Employ More Older People


The government has long been telling us that we have massive changes occurring in the workforce. Specifically, the need for business to employ more mature people as a way of plugging the skills shortage which exists presently. This scenario certainly backs up recent surveys as done by Drake International.

Drake believes that by 2012, about 85% of the labour market growth will be in the 45 plus age group, compared with just 32% in 1992.

If this is the likely trend over the next 7 to 10 years, what impact will this have on your business? What changes will you have to make to the way you do business?

Source: Positive Business Newsletter


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Planning Workplace Flexibility For The Sandwich Generation


A report, Surviving and Thriving in the Future World of Work, predicts that by 2020 eldercare will have replaced childcare as a major work/life issue for workers. An ageing population means that workers are increasingly likely to want more time away from work to care for ageing parents than for their own children.

This will have a BIG impact on all businesses – large and small.

In the United States, productivity losses as a result of care-giving responsibilities are already costing business up to $29 billion a year. By 2010 it’s expected to cost a company up to $2,500 per year in lost productivity, lost work time and stress-related illness for every employee with care-giving responsibilities.

One in four workers already provide on average more than 11 hours of informal, unpaid care per week for an older parent or relative.

The point for you to take from this is that you need to start thinking how to integrate work/life strategies in your business for those caring for aged relatives - or risk the cost of lost productivity and stress.

As more people choose to have children later, the so-called “sandwich generation” – those who have the dual responsibility of looking after young children and elderly parents – is already a reality.

This may be an opportunity for your business to employ older people who have skills, but no longer wish to work full-time. Many “golden oldies” would welcome this option as a means of being able to top up their retirement funds.

There is one other consideration: How can your business take advantage of this demographic trend? Are there business opportunities in eldercare for you?

Source: Positive Business Newsletter


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Do You Know What Your Staff’s Motivational “Hot Buttons” Are?


To provide your customers with the best customer service possible - and sell more, your salespeople have to be motivated. It’s often easy to motivate staff in the short-term (an inspiring pep talk or a sales contest), but it’s far more difficult to sustain that motivation over the long-term.

One of the keys to sustaining motivation is to tailor incentives to the situation and the individual. To be motivated, your staff need to feel as though they are valued, empowered and respected.

Here are some to points to consider when inspiring your staff to even greater effort:

Be Timely
Acknowledge the staff member’s positive behaviour immediately with a short-term reward. (Note: rewards don’t necessarily need to be monetary in nature). A word of praise may be sufficient.

Be Specific
A vague compliment such as “great work” doesn’t have the same impact as, for example, applauding of the extra hours the staff member has put in or recognising difficulty they have had in achieving the result.

Praise staff members in front of their work colleagues – BUT be careful about doing this with a staff member who is likely to feel embarrassed about the attention. They may not be willing to put in the extra effort again if it means being singled out for public praise.

Be clear about what you are rewarding – and try to tailor the reward to suit the individual staff member’s needs. You might consider offering a choice of several rewards so that they can choose their own motivator - whether it’s money, time off from work or something else of value to them.

Empower Your Staff
People like praise and rewards, but these things not sufficient by themselves to maintain motivation over the long-term. Look to motivating staff in other ways, such as by providing them with challenging work, a good workplace atmosphere, an opportunity to learn more, a chance to be creative.

Get your staff involved in planning; encourage their input into decisions; give them the authority to make daily decisions about their jobs. This will change their motivation from being a temporary condition inspired by external rewards to a lasting, self-sustaining mind-set.

To get the most out of your staff and the maximum bang for your buck, get to know what makes your staff tick, both individually and collectively. Find out what their “hot buttons” are.

This means talking to your staff – I mean, REALLY talking! – to find out what inspires them. Ask them probing questions. Once you know what each of them values, it will be easier to create incentives that are appropriate for that person.

Source: Positive Business Newsletter


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Making The Most Of Incentive Programs


If you’re providing (or you’re thinking about providing) incentives to your staff to encourage them to meet certain goals, the program and the rewards need to be carefully thought through.

For any incentive program to work effectively, there are a number of factors you should be aware of:

1) The prize is something the recipient really wants.
It’s often difficult to select a gift that matches the desires of incentive scheme participants. This is where gift certificates and store cards come into their own … by offering flexibility. Winners are given some choice in selecting their rewards - but not unlimited choices.

Restricting choice assures the trophy value of the reward by not allowing the certificates or cards being used to purchase necessities.

2) You need to be sincere and believe in the importance of what is being rewarded.
Don’t casually give out unwanted gifts.

3) The prize has some sort of trophy value.
The reward has to be memorable! Unless the recipient remembers what they got - and why they got it - they’re unlikely to appreciate it. And if they don’t appreciate it, they won’t be motivated to put in the extra effort in the future.

Something else to remember: The higher the income of your winners, the more important the trophy value of the reward needs to be. The way you communicate thanks or praise to winners can be just as important as the gift itself.

4) The incentive program should be evaluated against business goals you hope to achieve by it.


Does your incentive program meet all these criteria? If not, don’t you think you should do something about it? Yes  No

If you don’t have an incentive program in place to encourage superior performance, should you? Yes  No

Final comment: What gets rewarded gets repeated. If you know this and agree with it, but and are not applying the message, why not?

Source: Positive Business Newsletter


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Getting The Most Out Of Meetings


Here are some strategies to avoid time wasting meetings and training sessions:

1. Spend less than a minute updating each major issue that affects everybody in the room.
2. Have a written agenda to stay focused on actions, such as choose, create and answer – rather than getting bogged down in discussions.
3. Invite everybody to mention emerging trends, patterns or snippets of industry information they’ve observed or heard. Don’t get blindsided by discussion of a new issue or procedure.
4. Prioritise what is urgent and important to be accomplished before the next meeting.

- Adapted from “Making Meetings Productive” by Bob Rosner as reported in Positive Business Newsletter


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A Smart Question To Ask Job Applicants


You don’t have to ask job applicants tons of questions, sometimes asking them fewer questions with more answers can be just as revealing. Example: “Give me 20 adjectives that would accurately describe your personality.”

This is a tactic used by a hard-nosed American human resource manager and he has found the responses to be very accurate.

Source: “Hiring Your First Employee” by Elizabeth Millard as reported in Positive Business Newsletter


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Review Training Material Immediately


Make it a rule at your business that all staff who attend a training course they must review the training session material within 72 hours. Studies show that in doing so increases retention rates by 50%






Business Revamp  l  Phone: + 61 (0)3 9551 7742  l  E-mail: info@businessrevamp.com.au










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