Tuesday, December 16, 2014

When it’s Time for a Change

With 2015 fast approaching most individuals naturally begin to reflect on what has come to pass and start thinking about changes they want to implement in their lives for the coming year.  Change is inevitable whether we want it or not.  The same is true in business.  Technology changes so quickly it is obsolete before it hits the store shelves.  Customers wants and needs change at the drop of a hat.  The economy booms and busts with fluctuating fanfare.

To challenge the status quo businesses need to know when it is time for a change and embrace it.  Why? To stay competitive, explore new opportunities for growth and to meet the needs of their customers and teams.  Whether you resist change or roll with it will determine how many bumps and bruises your company will endure.

According to an article in the Houston Chronicle, “Why is Change Important in an Organization?” organizations who ask “Why?” often discover the answer in new ideas and innovations that can in the long run impact the productivity of employees and the company’s bottom line.
So how do you know when it’s time for a change?

  1. Your business has hit a plateau. Your team has given all they can and used every facet of their skillset.  Much like the New Year’s diet and exercise resolution, it hits us hard.  We are struggling against a current and find the shore no closer.  It’s time for a change.  Maybe you need to add to your team—some new blood to invigorate—or perhaps you need to develop the team you have with training.
  2. Your competitors have shaken things up. Competition is never a bad thing, but it may be time for a change.  When the going gets tough the tough focus on what they do best and evaluate the situation.  What are your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats?  The SWOT analysis can lead to important changes that can keep you competitive.
  3. Your financial projections are amiss. When your financial picture looks askew, it’s time for a change.  Ask yourself these questions: Are your original projections accurate? What forces, both external and internal, are affecting these projections? When you have the answers to these questions you can work to fix what is possible to fix and make plans to work around the unfixable.
  4. Employee morale has plummeted.  It’s time for a change.  Have you ever conducted an exit interview?  Have you ever polled your staff for feedback?  These are good ways to test the waters and see where the spoke in the wheel has become unhitched.  Sometimes employees leave and never tell you the real reason why.  Don’t wait until the wheel is broken and the support is gone.
  5. Loyal customers have jumped ship.  Now, consumers can be fickle and it may not be a thing but when your biggest fans walk away—it’s time for a change.  Number one, ask your customer for feedback.  Research reviews on your business.  Ask your sales team for their insights.  Re-examine your product(s).  We can’t all be WD-40, some of us will need to change.

The best way to embrace change is to educate—yourself and your team.  Knowledge is power.  Knowledgecity.com has some courses for you to consider in the New Year: Managing Change, Building a Successful Team, Marketing Principles, Strategic Brand Management, Managing Assets, Managerial Budgeting, HR Management, Consumer Behavior, and Operating a Business are just a few of the courses that can help your business manage change with ease.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Leadership is A Skill You Can Learn

What is a leader?  A leader is a multifaceted style that encompasses more than managing people.  According to Kevin Kruse in an article for Forbes, “Leadership doesn’t automatically happen when you reach a certain pay grade.” (What is Leadership?)  It is a learning experience all its own.
"Leadership scholars define a leader as a person who sets attractive goals and has the ability to attract followers, or constituents, who share those goals. Above all, a leader must be trusted and respected. Trust between a leader and constituent’s opens up two-way communication, making it possible for them to realize their common goals." (Marvin Bower, The Will to Lead)
One of the most important aspects of leadership is good communication skills.  Whether it is coaching or delivering performance evaluations, leaders need to have the ability to communicate effectively.  Leadership and communication skills can be taught.  The ability to communicate and build teams is important for emerging leaders to be able motivate groups of people toward a common goal—the goal of the business. 

In an article, Businesses Don’t Fail – Leaders Do, Mike Myatt writes: ”Why do businesses fail? If you’re willing to strip away all the excuses, explanations, rationalizations, and justifications for business failures, and be really honest in your analysis, you’ll find only one plausible reason—poor leadership.”

In our new course series, Management to Leadership, instructor Dena Loverde explores the differences between managing people and leading them.  Not everyone is a leader, but with the skills learned in this course anyone can learn to be one.

Take a sneak peek at the lesson: Leader as Goal Setter, from the course Defining Leadership which will be posted live on our website: www.knowledgecity.com in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Increasing Productivity in the Workplace

Highly engaged employees were found to be 26 percent more productive than their disengaged peers.  How does this affect the bottom line for companies? One study found an increase in total returns of 13 percent.  Increasingly employees are looking for value and meaningful recognition that has no price tag.
So what exactly is motivating employee productivity?  Recognition, Opportunity and Relationships.

Recognition: Positive feedback is instant recognition you can give to an employee that will give them a sense of pride.  How does this help productivity? Your employee knows that you appreciate their efforts.  According to the USNews.com article, How to Give Positive Feedback at Work, identify how your employee’s efforts made a positive impact on the team and the organization.  One study suggests that recognizing employee’s strengths encourages their team to thrive.

Opportunity: Giving employees the opportunity to use the skills they have helps them develop and take their skills to the next level.  Encouraging a lifelong learning culture can take your company a long way.  According to the smallbusiness.chron.com article, Effects of Training on Employee Performance, training enhances morale on the job and can even increase employee loyalty—two important motivators of productivity.

Relationships: Leadership is not always easy.  Engaging employees can be a challenge.  The key is finding ways to inspire your employees.  Communication has been and always will be a major component of all relationships from top level management to individual team members.  Open, honest communication must be a priority in business.  Once you have your communication down, how do you get your team to adopt your goals?  According to the study, Management Leadership and Productivity Improvement Programs, management needs to focus on goals that matter.  Management support for Education and Training, Empowerment, and Reward Systems can be used to motivate employees and employees who feel that their leadership cares are more productive.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Employee Engagement & Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Employee engagement is a workplace mantra.  Managers around the globe are starting to think about how to create a culture where employees thrive and become committed members of the team.  When a company is able to inspire its employees to adopt its goals through engagement, the company will see the benefits in productivity.  One way of doing this is to start with understanding how we as humans are inspired in the first place.  What do we need to become committed and how do employers meet that need?  If you could ask noted psychologist, Abraham Maslow, he might tell you meet their hierarchy of needs.

Who is Maslow and what is his Hierarchy of Needs?
Abraham Maslow proposed in a paper he wrote, “A Theory of Human Motivation” published in Psychological Review in 1943, that people’s motivations are unrelated to rewards or unconscious desires.  He theorized that people are motivated by what has become known as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  The hierarchy is depicted in a pyramid that contains five levels.  These levels include: Physiological Needs, Safety Needs, Social Needs, Esteem Needs, and Self-Actualization.

According to SimplyPsychology.com, people are motivated to achieve each of the needs in the pyramid.  After people fulfill the needs at one level they move on to the next.  To progress up the pyramid each lower need must be met.  Any time there is a failure to meet the needs at a lower level it disrupts the person’s ability to progress.  Life is unpredictable.  As situations arise these experiences can cause an individual to move back and forth between levels.

According to Maslow, only one in one hundred people ever become fully self-actualized. This is mainly due to our society which primarily rewards motivation based on esteem, love and other social needs.

How Does Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Help Us Understand Employee Engagement?
To understand how Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs relates, we need to see the bigger picture.  Let’s start with Gallup’s “State of the American Workplace”. According to the report published last year, only 30 percent of employees are engaged.  Another 52 percent are disengaged and 18 percent are actively disengaged. What exactly does that mean?  It means that 70 percent of the American workforce is not committed to their organization’s goals and values.  They are not motivated to contribute to the organization’s success.  These workers are emotionally disconnected and less productive.

According to an article in Forbes, “Surprising, Disturbing Facts from the Mother of All Employee Engagement Surveys”, the leading factor that influences employee engagement is the relationship the employee has with their managers.  Choosing the right leaders significantly impacts the workforce.

“Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.” —Sam Walton
According to a study by Delloitte.com, “Global Human Capital Trends 2014—engaging the 21st Century Workforce”, 65 percent of executives rated “overwhelmed employees” as an urgent need that must be addressed.  The “always on” employee was built by mobile technology.  We are always connected 24/7.  The new “workaholic” lifestyle just increases with seniority and income.

In addition to employees being overwhelmed, some other reasons for disengaged employees are: workload is too high, companies that do not invest in talent development, no advancement opportunities for high performers, non-inclusive culture, transitions in leadership.

“People leave managers, not organizations.” —Anonymous
The key to engaging employees, motivating your team, and increasing productivity in the long run is to invest in your workers.  Re-design the position, add benefits that matter, change the work environment and develop your team and leadership.  It is not always easy to re-engage a disengaged employee, but people aren’t motivated by the bottom line.  They are motivated by the things that meet their hierarchy of needs.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Business & the Future of Social Technology

There are 1.5 billion social network users world-wide.  According to a global survey conducted by McKinsey&Company, businesses can, not only benefit from social media, but actually become more productive in the process.  

By utilizing web 2.0, as social media is often referred, businesses can virtually eliminate the wait time created when using traditional methods of business communications such as e-mail and instant messaging.  In fact according to the survey, 72 percent of the companies reported that they used some form of social technology in their day to day business.  90 percent of these businesses reported a benefit from the use of social networking technologies.

Who is using social networking? Not as many people as there should be.  The highest percentage of social technology users were middle managers at 65 percent.  Frontline users were not far behind at 60 percent. As businesses begin to utilize social networking technologies as a way to connect with their customers, it is fast becoming the trend in marketing and customer service. According to the survey, 35 percent of businesses are using social networking for customer service.

Depending how much Web 2.0 technologies are integrated into the infrastructure of the business, the benefits can range.  What can be said about using social network technologies in business is that the more “networked” a business is, the more benefits they will see—internally as well as in their customer base.  Customers are way ahead of businesses on the social networking front and businesses have a lot of catching up to do.

Using social networking both internally and externally in business can increase the speed at which information is obtained—as much as a 30% improvement according to the survey.  It can also reduce communication costs, decrease travel costs, reduce operating costs, and increase the effectiveness of marketing.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Sneak Peek! Adobe Creative Cloud Photoshop: Introduction

Creative opportunities abound with Adobe’s Creative Cloud.  Last year, Adobe announced that it would no longer release new versions of its Creative Suite.  The plans for a cloud based software service that was first suggested in 2011, became a reality.

The Creative Cloud has many of the same features as the suite version, but there are new features as well.  There are also new mobile apps that give the end user more power and mobility in their creative expression.

Adding to our extensive library, we have recently completed recording on courses for Adobe Creative Cloud Photoshop: Introduction and Adobe Creative Cloud Photoshop: Advanced.  These courses will be available in the coming weeks on our website: www.knowledgecity.com

Enjoy this sneak peek:

Want more sneak peeks of our courses? You can view the first three lessons of any course for free at our website.  Want to be the first to know when we post a sneak peek or post a course live? Follow our: New Course Showcase Page

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Multitasking: You’re not as Productive as You Think

Mobile technology enables us to be hyper-connected to the ever expanding network of social and business worldwide.  It enables us to multitask like never before.  According to a study on technology and human potential, the negative effects of this “always on” mentality is an increased loss of patience and the need for instant gratification.

As technology advances it creates avenues for getting things done.  Working on multiple projects, doing multiple tasks all at the same time—but what are the results?  In our new inpatient world, we may be watching television, while checking emails; and at the same time: surfing the net, texting with friends, scheduling appointments, and even throwing in a game of Candy Crush—after all there may be a few seconds of lag time between texts, commercials, and webpage loading.  

The question is: How much attention are we giving to each of the projects or tasks we are doing? Are we really being that productive?
“When we talk about multitasking, we are really talking about attention.” --Christine Rosen, The Myth of Multitasking
One study estimates that multitasking costs global businesses 450 Billion each year.  The research shows that people who engage in multitasking actually end up wasting 40 percent of their productive time switching between tasks.  They also have a higher susceptibility to distractions.  Why is this? 

According to a study on distracted drivers, multitasking is a myth.  In this study it was revealed that the brain does not perform two or more tasks at once—what we like to believe it can do when we multitask.  Instead the brain actually performs these multiple tasks very quickly in a sequential order.  This “attention switching” gives us the false feeling of doing more in less time.  

While the brain attempts to juggle the tasks it is given, it must also juggle the focus and attention to each task, this results in a reaction time or delay.  These delays may be a few tenths of a second or more.  That may not seem like a lot, but they do add up. 

When we multitask we are also prone to making mistakes, which then we need time to fix.  Multitasking ends up making us ineffectual.