"Come together"

Increase Your Team’s Performance By 48% With This One Word

Technology drastically changes the face of both work and play from one decade to the next. Ten years ago the iPhone was still an idea, and Facebook had not yet replaced chat rooms. Ten years ago internet users were still connecting with dial up and internet videos were avoided because of it.


Due to the not-at-all-slow changes to accommodate technological advances, workflow is accomplished in increasingly solitary environments.  More and more people work remotely rather than collectively – at least in a physical sense.  I myself, was recently part of a marketing team hired to promote a yoga site.  Every single one of us worked via instant messenger, email and video conferences every Monday .


But no doubt, there are plenty of companies whose employees work remotely these days.  Woothemes, a WordPress ecommerce and plugins company, is comprised of 30 employees located in seven different countries. Buffer, a social media sharing tool, is also a completely remote and/or distributed team, with team members located throughout several time-zones and countries.  Other examples of businesses who operate either partially or totally remotely include Foursquare and WordPress, as well as many other lesser known companies such as 10up, Treehouse, Basho and Lullabot.


Advantages of  Social Context

Because social context and sharing physical space with members of a team have a natural advantage over remote team work, remote teams may need to be reminded -often in more creative ways – of the same motivational concept that is a naturally present implication in physically shared spaces: that you’re all doing this together.

In a physical office, you can see the faces of your colleagues or co-workers. Engage in chit-chat and small talk. Observe body language and facial expressions at any time. Even learn how many cups of coffee each one drinks per day, or how many bathroom trips they make.  These things –even if sub-consciously – all contribute to a team-like environment. While things like how much sleep your co-worker got the night before or what they’re having for lunch may seem like trivial details, it’s all part of the contextual information you can gather about your team just by being physically present.  And the more information you have about a team member, the more you intrinsically trust them.  This is precisely why most of us initially trust people far less when we meet them online, than when we meet in person for the first time.  We simply have no information about them upon which we can base any amount of trust.


A continually nurtured sense of teamwork and team building is vital in a remote environment. Without a sense of teamwork, which often translates to “purpose” behind the tasks and contributions of any given remote worker, they will likely become disengaged, slower and less productive or efficient, and less motivated about the work in general.  Who are they working for? What are they working toward? Who is supporting them and vice versa?  These are powerful motivators to workers.


As briefly mentioned above, this may require more creative, and sometimes more extravagant strategies.  You might hold bi-annual staff workshops or retreats to encourage team interaction and socialization as well as team cohesiveness.  Or you may implement daily means of team building, such as a virtual water cooler or “always-on” web cam or even circulating playful pranks.  There are productivity tools out there specifically to aid team-building and teamwork, such as IDoneThis and Sqwiggle, which is one of those “always-on” video chat systems I mentioned.


That’s all well and good – but where does this 48%-more-productive figure come from?


Research Results That May Change Your Team Management

Gregory Walton and Priyanka Carr – two Standford researchers and psychologists, studied participants in a case study in an attempt to help indentify what drives intrinsic motivation.


Two groups of participants were all given the same task and instructed to carry out the task in the same work environment – alone in a room.  The first group was told that the research was being conducted to find out how “people work together to solve puzzles,” and that each participant would work on part of the “puzzle called the map puzzle.”


The second group were all given the same instructions, minus any mention of working with other participants or working together to solve the puzzle.


When the results were in? The “psychologically together” group worked 48% longer, solved more of the overall problems correctly, and could recall significantly more information than the “psychologically alone” group.


This research really speaks for itself.  When you emphasize the “together” aspect of a task or project, it will intrinsically motivate your team – regardless whether they’re all sitting in the same room, or looking at each other through a web cam. In the words of Carr and Walton, “a defining aspect of humanity is that people work together toward common ends.”

All jobs are Temporary

Why Your Job Is Temporary and How You Can Own It

The sooner you come to the realization that your job is temporary and there’s no such thing as job security, the sooner you will realize your full potential.

This doesn’t mean you will be fired or replaced tomorrow. But it does mean that your job could become obsolete sooner than you think — especially if you work with the Internet.

The average person remains at a job for 4.6 years. Long gone are the days of lifelong tenures at the same company. But the truth of the matter is that we are still programmed for loyalty, and we elicit an emotional response at the thought of an uncertain employment future.


Learn to Accept Uncertainty

Do you consider uncertainty to be positive? If not, you should. Instead of getting comfortable with what you’re currently doing, get comfortable with the fact that change is an inevitable part of success. Skillsets and jobs are becoming obsolete faster than ever, so your job might not be around in a few years. As robots plot to take over more and more jobs every year, it’s wise to recognize your impermanence.


Recognize That Your Full Potential Lies in Adaptability

The most valuable skill you can have is the ability to constantly learn new skills. The adaptability to change and the capacity to learn new things will earn you a job tomorrow, not complacency with the job you have today. Those who embrace inevitable change will thrive.


It is true, however, that the world isn’t built for change – just ask anyone in education or politics. Yesterday’s business model has created a paradox for today’s businesses.


On one side of the scale, we have traditional companies that operate on efficiency and execution. On the other side, we have innovation and ingenuity. Although the latter has gained some credence over the last few years, the scale is still tipping in favor of the old school.


Why?  It’s pretty simple: Shareholders and stock markets reward businesses that stack cash, which pushes the birth of new business models and innovative ideas to the wayside. The well-oiled machine that is the old-school business model earned its success through traditional policies and procedures, not innovation.


Although innovation has positive connotations, dissecting the semantics of the word shows something raw and unguarded. There is a process that comes with innovation – and it isn’t always pretty. In fact, it can be complicated, messy, and downright painful at times.


Realize Innovation Comes With Risks

Trial and error and non-traditional, forward thinking are synonymous with innovation. It’s that process, which can be chaotic, that leads to the worthwhile outcome of success. Whatever you want to call it – a breakthrough, a profitable new method, or a revolution – it was likely created as a result of progressive thinking. The people who aren’t afraid to ditch the conventional often attain the most success.


Embrace the Crazy

Aren’t quite ready to accept the idea that your job is temporary and tomorrow’s success lies in against-the-grain business models? Let’s take a look at a few pioneers who embraced the crazy and reaped many benefits:


  • Google — This list wouldn’t sustain much credibility without mentioning the Internet’s most lucrative company. Always inventing and ever-creative, Google doesn’t stop at search, or at wearables with Glass. It also happens to be planning a way to cheat death.
  • Bloomberg Philanthropies —  Seeking to target the most people, Bloomberg Philanthropies uses data to make momentous impact for the greater good. This new way of attacking global problems has positioned the foundation to dedicate $530 million towards overfishing 3 countries.
  • Xiaomi — The Chinese smartphone manufacturer increased its profit by 150% since 2012, offering quality smartphones at record-low prices while being criticized for its flash sales marketing. This exponential growth is, according to Vice President Hugo Barra, only poised for further increase as the company plans to “show the world its teeth in a major way over the coming decade.”


How to Work Towards the Unknown

If you’re ready to leave the conventional, embrace the unknown, and leap headfirst into innovation, consider the following 6 business tips:


  • Take a lesson from the startups — Innovation must occur at every level of an organization, and it comes with risks. Just like startups, larger entities must realize that innovation can be a messy process. Failure is sometimes part of the process, but it shouldn’t be punished.


  • Forget your comfort zone —  Exciting new ideas are born when comfort zones are forgotten. When people take risks or consider things from a different angle, the outcome is often prolific.


  • Listen better — The world today is full of distractions, making it hard to focus both in and outside of work. With so much temptation lurking in every nook of your office, focus on active listening. A colleague, friend, or family member could quite possibly hold the inspiration you need to launch your next big idea.


  • Question rationalizations — There’s nothing more detrimental than using the excuse “because that’s how we’ve always done it” when responding to a question about your processes. Poke holes in your standard processes, consider new options, and think about the long-term.


  • Take baby steps — It’s easy to only see the end result when you come up with an amazing new idea to enhance your business model. But it’s not feasible to recklessly risk everything. Smaller improvements will often lead to the large result you’re seeking with a little patience.


  • Implement constraint, not starvation — There’s a new tendency to take resources away from a project in order to inspire creativity. While this can work at times, people tend to work better under constraint rather than in a void of resources.


Own Your Role in Business Innovation

Each one of us will play a role in the future of business innovation. Embrace the rewarding aftereffects of something a little crazy – it will surely earn you a competitive advantage over your competition and position you for future success.