Posts Tagged ‘productivity’

10 HR Practices that Destroy Small Business Productivity – Letting Poor Performance Slide

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

In today’s video blog, CAI’s VP of Membership, Doug Blizzard, continues his series on the ten HR practices that destroy productivity. This month Doug focuses on poor performers and how letting them slide drains company productivity, profit and growth.

Doug asks employers to think about poor performers in their lives and how the consequences of their actions can cause frustration for others. He then shares how poor performers can negatively impact top performers.

Offering insights from management thought-leader Bruce Tulgan, Doug says that “undermanagement” is one of the most detrimental phenomenon affecting businesses today.  Doug shares that poor performers come in three categories:

  • They don’t know what do
  • They can’t do what you’re asking
  • They won’t do what you’re asking

He continues the conversation with a mention of hiring practices. Many performance problems are really hiring problems in disguise.  To prevent problems, Doug advises employers to take more time assessing candidates.

If you’d like help managing your poor performers, please call CAI’s Advice and Resolution Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.


7 Time Hacks for Productivity

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

work performanceYou’re busy, I mean, “there’s just not enough time in my day to get anywhere near what I wanted to accomplished,” and now you have to run errands, make dinner, take the dog out and finish the laundry all before falling asleep with your laptop in bed (again). In a world so preoccupied with time, here are 7 productivity tips to save you as much of it as possible…and they can all be implemented in under one minute!


  • Flip your phone over. Glancing at notifications as they arrive on your phone doesn’t take much time, but it drains a ton of attention. Every time you notice a new alert you glance at it (which only takes a few seconds), but then you either waste time checking it or waste time re-focusing on what you were previously doing. Either way, this is a huge unproductive time-suck.


  • The two-minute rule. The moment an email comes in think, “can I respond to this in two minutes or less?” If responding to the email requires a simple yes or no and would need less time to respond than it would to remind yourself to do it later, then do it now. By doing this you’re effectively prioritizing your day and promoting efficiency for yourself and the sender.


  • The Rule Of Three. In almost all areas of life, the “rule of 3” applies, and productivity is no exception. Ask yourself at the beginning of the day, “what three things do I want to accomplish today?” Then work toward those goals. When making your list, try not to focus necessarily on tasks so much as outcomes or results.


  • Keep a list of everything you’re waiting on and everything you need to do. Keeping a list is the best way to keep up with everything you have to do/everything you’re waiting on other people to do. This may seem a bit obvious, but trying to keep up with everything you’re responsible for can be taxing to say the least and in a world filled with technology, it’s unnecessary to try. I suggest writing everything on a Post-It, putting it in an app on your phone/tablet or both.


  • Take more breaks. While we’re on the topic, take more breaks! It may sound counterproductive, but taking more breaks throughout the day actually increases productivity because it prevents fatigue and facilitates creativity. Even if you’re short on time, try simply standing up and looking away from the computer for a minute or two to give your brain a chance to refresh.


  • Get Physical. I know it’s early, but getting 30 minutes of physical activity in every morning before you start your day will give you the lasting energy you need to power through your day! No more “2:30 feeling” for you!


  • Delegate. Learning to delegate the tasks that can be delegated can be the single most valuable productivity measure you ever take. Just remember that you are ultimately responsible for the work that they do, so make sure they understand the task the first time around or you’ll be doing double the work in the end.


Have anything that you need to delegate? CAI’s HR On Demand team is designed to do just that! We’re here to provide exactly “what you need, when you need it” and can handle as much or as little of a project as you’d like. Have something we can help you with? Contact us today at (919) 713-5263 or


4 Ways to Keep Company Productivity High in the Summer Months

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

work summerSummer can be full of distractions. The hot weather of the season encourages employees to dedicate fewer hours to the office or take vacations with their friends or families. Your clients may also be making vacation plans, so their requests may decrease temporarily. For these reasons, productivity during the summer months can slow down. However, with proper planning and participation from managers and direct reports, you can keep business moving as usual. Try the four ideas below to keep your company productive:

Devise a plan

Because it’s vacation season, fewer people will be in the office. Missing a few employees doesn’t mean you can’t continue company projects in an efficient and effective way. Schedule a few minutes with your employees before they take time off to discuss the tasks and assignments that need to be completed while they are away. Teamwork will be instrumental in meeting or exceeding deadlines.

Practice flexibility where you can

Many employees prefer to spend their summer evenings and free time with their friends and loved ones. Being more flexible in the summer months to allow your employees to get home and spend quality time with people outside of work will be appreciated. Several companies are partaking in the trend of letting staff members leave early on Fridays. Similar to the effects of a nice summer break, leaving early on Fridays will have your employees returning invigorated and ready to perform on Monday morning. Another option to encourage flexibility is to have your employees come in earlier or work through their lunch breaks to leave the office sooner.

Work ahead of schedule

The demands of your top clients might slow down as people begin to make plans for summer trips. Instead of waiting for a request, work on a project that has been on the bottom of your to-do list for the past several months. Be productive and efficient with the tasks you decide to tackle during the summer months. If you know of a project that you’ll be working on in the future, go ahead and start working on it. The more you get done during the slower months, the less stressed or pressed for time you’ll be in the busier months.

Have some summer fun

Maintaining stellar productivity over the summer is a goal of most companies. Although everyone is in agreement that keeping up productivity is important, summer is all about having fun. Don’t lose opportunities to engage your employees and show them that they are valued. Plan a fun activity, like a pizza party or a trip to a local baseball game, to show them that you appreciate their contributions throughout the year.

For additional tips for keeping business productivity high, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Resolution team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.



5 Tips to Keep Productivity High During the Holidays

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

holiday breakMany people use their vacation days to take extra time off from work in December in order to spend quality time celebrating the season with their family and friends. Because of the excitement that is generated during the holidays, employee productivity can temporarily decrease. However, putting off work before your vacation means you’ll have more work to complete when you make your way back to the office.

Incorporate these five tips in your work routine for the next several days so you can enjoy your time away, instead of worrying about all the assignments you need to do when you return:

Prioritize Your To-Do List

Create a list of all of the tasks and projects you’d like to complete before you leave for your holiday vacation. Work hard to complete as many items on your list as you can. The more items you cross off, the less work you’ll have waiting for you when your vacation is over.

Review Calendars

Ensure that your coworkers are aware of your holiday schedule, and also make sure that you are aware of their schedules. This is especially helpful if you’re working on projects with other people. Eliminate confusion or the potential to drop the ball by tying up loose ends and coordinating due dates before you leave.

Focus on Work at Work

When getting bombarded with the exciting sights, sounds and festivities related to this time of the year, it is easy to get distracted from your work. So you don’t have to spend time on the weekend or the evening catching up on your work because you were making gift lists or looking up a holiday recipe online, focus on your work obligations when you are in the office.

Help Your Body Help You

December isn’t always the greatest month for your health. Coworkers bring goodies into the break room, people spend several hours in a day shopping, and holiday parties make nights longer than usual. To make up for all of these things, exercise and sleep more to help your brain and body stay alert and function properly.

Leave Work at Work

If you follow all of the tips above, you will likely not have to work on any of your company projects during your holiday break. Your time away from the office should really be spent focusing on your loved ones, friends and yourself. Use this time away to relax and recharge your brain so you’ll be ready to work when your break is over.

For additional ideas on how to keep productivity high at your workplace, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Resolution Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: Reno Tahoe Window Cleaning & Christmas Lights

7 Helpful Tips for Conducting Difficult Conversations with Employees

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

difficult conversationHaving a difficult conversation with employees, either as a group or one-on-one, is never an easy thing to do. A negative performance review or a poor corporate earnings report can adversely affect employee morale and future productivity.

There are ways, however, to deliver bad news that can mitigate the impact it has on the employee and on the existing relationship with the messenger. The key is in leading the conversation with respect and sensitivity to how the news is likely to be received by the employee.

Here are seven tips that can help to guide the conversation effectively and promote a positive experience the next time difficult news needs to be delivered:

What Do You Want To Accomplish?

Decide on your objectives before you engage with the employee. List the points you wish to address and the outcome you are anticipating. If the discussion begins to drift from this path, return to your list of points and stay on track.

Empower the Employee

Give the employee an opportunity to present their side or to address the points you are making from their point of view. Show the employee your willingness to listen to what they have to say and they will be less likely to feel threatened or defensive.

Be Specific, Avoid Generalities

Make certain you cite specific events or behaviors without making general statements. Negative generalities can be interpreted as a personal attack. Specific incidents, on the other hand, can be improved upon and that improvement can be measured.

Observations, Not Absolutes

Sensitive issues should be presented as observations made from your perspective, not as absolutes. Observations can leave less room for argument in the discussion. However, be certain to only leave room for negotiation if you are willing to consider it. In cases of a termination, maintain a firm and direct stance without room for argument.

Accountability without Blame

Provide context when framing an issue that needs to be addressed. If a specific goal has been missed, suggest circumstances that may have contributed to the situation. The employee is still responsible for overcoming those obstacles, where possible, to meet the goal. Knowing management understands the situation beneath the surface will motivate the employee to improve going forward.

Turn the Conversation Into a Learning Experience

After the difficult news has been delivered, do not end the conversation on that note. Discuss with the employee how improvements can be made and help to create a plan of action going forward. Interject advice based on your own experiences in a similar situation. This will help the employee feel supported and will also demonstrate your willingness to assist them.

Dignity and Respect

Keep all conversations on a professional level, maintaining dignity and respect on both sides of the table. Even terminations, which are non-negotiable, can be presented in such a way to allow the employee to maintain their self-esteem and exit the meeting gracefully and without feeling defeated.

If you’d like additional help conducting difficult conversations, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746. You can also sign up for our e-Learning course, Difficult Conversations. Please visit our website at and look under the training tab.

Photo Source: Victor1558

4 Tips to Increase Workplace Productivity Over the Summer

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

summer productivityProductivity at your organization has the potential to lower during the summer months. Many factors are responsible for this decrease in efficiency. Some common culprits include employees taking time off, clients venturing on long vacations, and hot temperatures occurring. Although these factors will always be present during this time of year, there are some solutions you can incorporate to reduce a loss in productivity. Try the four tips below at your organization today:

1)      Encourage employees to take vacation

Summertime is the ideal opportunity for your team members to use their vacation days. Remind them to take some time off to spend with their family or friends away from the office. Your employees will be away for a short period of time. When they return, they’ll be rested, recharged and ready to be productive at work.

2)      Prepare backup plans

Vacation season tends to mean that there are fewer people in the office. Having fewer people around doesn’t mean that you can’t continue projects in an efficient way. Meet with employees before they take time off to discuss any assignments that need to be completed while others are away. Using teamwork will help your organization meet deadlines.

3)      Treat your employees to fun

Yes, achieving high productivity over this summer is important, but so is having fun! Plan something fun for your employees to show them that you appreciate the efforts they have made during the first half of the year.  Treating them to lunch or taking them out to a baseball game are great ways to keep them content and engaged with their employer.

4)      Be flexible when possible

Use flexibility during the summer months to keep workplace productivity high. Compressed work weeks and adjustments to start and end times are two ways to offer your employees more flexible schedules. Many companies allow their staffers to leave early on Fridays to take advantage of the summer weather and spend time with their loved ones and friends.

Summer is a fun season and may cause employees to become preoccupied with other items, like vacations or summer childcare. Keeping morale high and delegating where needed helps organizations run efficiently in the summer months. For more tips to increase your company’s productivity, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-669-7746.

Photo Source: Nazareth College

5 Strategies for Impacting Employee Performance and Productivity

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

The following is a guest post from Carol Hacker. Carol is the President and CEO of Hacker & Associates. She specializes in helping HR professionals and teaching managers, supervisors, team leaders, executives and business owners how to meet the leadership challenge. She’s the author the bestseller, Hiring Top Performers-350 Great Interview Questions for People Who Need People.

Carol Hacker portraitCommitment and pride are characteristics that are difficult to measure when interviewing prospective employees.  However, once you’ve found people who have great attitudes and hire them, it’s up to you to take it one-step further and build commitment.   If you’re limited in what you can pay, or opportunities for advancement are scarce, how do you get employees to focus on performance and productivity?

First, are you willing to work at bringing out the best in your employees?  It’s a full time job.  Most employees want to be successful, but they sometimes lack the skills and know-how.  Without structure, systems, and attitudes, employers will never be able to develop and retain every manager’s dream—motivated employees.

Second, the reality is, once fair wages are set, more money or better fringe benefits have a negligible impact on employee loyalty on performance and productivity.  There are a number of ways to build employee loyalty, but none of them come without effort.

Your goal is to get your employees to emotionally commit to you and the goals of your organization—admittedly, no easy task—but proven to be doable if you’re willing to work at it.  The ideas contained herein are not meant to be all-inclusive.  However, they represent a cross-section of ideas that I hope you find helpful.

Behind the success of any thriving business are a number of key principles related to employee performance and productivity.  The late Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, said it well:  “There are two things people want more than sex and money–recognition and praise.”  With that light-hearted, but powerful thought, I’d like to share some ideas that HR professionals can use and share to keep top-notch employees committed and loyal to the task and the organization:

1.   Let them know they count.  Don’t fail to overlook the use of low-cost or no-cost incentives as a way to show appreciation.  Why?  Because everyone needs to feel valued from your managers to your office personnel, and beyond.  A simple “thank you” can go a long way to get commitment from the people that you depend upon day in and day out.

 2.   Include “fun” in your organization’s core values that should already include respect, trust, excellence, balance, ethics, adaptability, empowerment and calculated risk-taking.  Don’t give it “lip service.”  Live each and every one of your core values to the fullest!

3.   When someone leaves your company don’t ignore the fact that the loss of an employee puts a burden on your other employees.  Anticipate the fact that your existing employees will be willing and able to pick up the slack for only so long before they become frustrated.  You then run the risk of losing them too.  Show your appreciation for the fact that they are holding things together until you can hire someone to replace the person(s) who left.

4.   Promote new responsibilities when there’s no place to be “promoted to.”  Many organizations have limited room for advancement.  However, it doesn’t have to mean the end of the challenges.  Get input from your employees and together decide what new responsibilities they might be interested in pursuing.

5.  Promote from within whenever practical.  Most people would like the opportunity to be considered for other jobs within the organization.  Overlooking your current employees and going outside your company for new hires is a real morale buster.

People naturally want to grow in their work and in their lives.  Give your employees the opportunity to do both while having fun.  For more tips on increasing employee performance and productivity, please join me at CAI’s 2013 Compensation and Benefits Conference on September 19th and 20th at Raleigh’s McKimmon Center. I’ll be presenting two breakout sessions during the conference, 10 Strategies for Impacting Performance and Productivity, and How to Make Performance Evaluations Stress Free and a Win-Win. Visit to see additional conference topics and to register for the event.

4 Workplace Habits to Break By the End of the Year

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

break habitsIn less than two weeks, 2013 will be here. A new year can conjure up an array of emotions: scared, excited, hopeful, exhausted, doubtful—the list can go on. Choose to focus on the positive emotions, and do something beneficial for your work life. Paying more attention to your responsibilities at the office will push you to perform better, benefiting other parts of your life like your health, sleep and relationships.

Creating an efficient work routine will help you achieve your work/life balance goals and improve your workplace attitude. Before you develop your routine, take time to acknowledge inefficient habits that you’ve gotten used to relying on at your organization. Break these habits to plan a successful 2013.

Below are a few examples of habits that will harm your performance. Review the items below, and work hard to break or avoid these office blunders:

Frequent Chitchats

Conversing with your coworkers is not a bad habit. Chatting actually helps build trust and create workplace friendships. However, excessively talking with your workplace colleagues is a bad habit that you should attempt to break. Getting along with your coworkers is ideal, but if you’re missing deadlines or not paying attention to your manager’s requests, you might need to realign your priorities. You don’t have to cut out chitchat all together, but save it for less busy times of the day, such as lunch time or the late afternoon.

Email Obsession

Numerous surveys show that employees receive and respond to a large number of emails each workday. Responding to the different email requests you receive throughout the day can kill your productivity. Email is incredibly important, but understanding the difference between urgent and not urgent will help you complete other tasks that you have on your plate. If a response is not needed immediately, reply back after you finish more pressing tasks.

Stepping Up

Do you feel like you’ve missed an opportunity for a raise or promotion? Instead of lamenting over the fact they you aren’t where you want to be, do something about it. Ask your manager for more responsibilities or find new ways to challenge yourself and make your job more exciting. Only you can really change your circumstances. Work harder and be more helpful. Remember, if your company doesn’t acknowledge or appreciate that you’ve stepped up your game, you might not be at the right place.

Working Too Hard

Eight hours for five days a week are dedicated to your organization. You work hard to create innovative projects, make deadlines and recruit talent to keep your business running successfully. Sometimes you spend too much time making sure the company is running smoothly. Make sure to strive for work/life balance in the new year. Enjoy the other important aspects of your life.

For additional information on strategies to improve your work performance, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: Victor1558

4 Tips to Enjoy the Holidays and Stay Productive at Work

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

The holidays are great for celebrating and spending quality time with your friends and family. Many people take extra time off from work during December. People often get so excited about their time off around the holiday season that they take an “early vacation” at work. Don’t slack off during this time of year. Staying alert while you’re still at the office will help you complete tasks so that you don’t return to a mountain of work.

Do these four things to make sure you can enjoy your holidays and not worry about the to-do list you must revisit when you go back to work:

Check Calendars

Don’t let the excitement of the holidays make you forget your work responsibilities. Know your schedule for the next two weeks. Do you have important meetings that you need to prepare for or a project with a looming deadline? Be up to date with your work plans so you don’t miss a beat when you’re away for the holidays.

Check Out Meeting

Be sure that you’ve completed all the projects and activities for which you are responsible. Have a check out meeting with your manager so you both are on the same page about the work items that need to be completed before the end of the year.  Doing this will prevent little fires or less than positive surprises when you return to the office.

Create a New List

Write down all the items you’d like to take care of before you leave for your winter vacation. Be productive during the days leading up to your vacation so that you’re able to complete a large portion of your list. For everything that you don’t finish, create an additional list that you’ll complete once your back at the office. You’ll return to the office with a great start if you prepare before you leave.

Clean Up

Tidy up your workspace before you leave the office to celebrate the season with your loved ones. File away loose paper and put away items that you don’t frequently use. Take out your recycling and empty storage areas. You’ll come back to work with a fresh space that encourages productivity.

For more tips to stay productive and organized at work, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: davedehetre


Keep Workforce Productivity High with 5 Simple Practices

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

People complain that there are not enough hours in their day to complete a laundry list of tasks. Instead of complaining, however, people can make small changes in their workday to have a more productive day, month, year, etc.  Try the five tips below to improve on the job performance:

Don’t Focus on Emails

Answering emails can be a big productivity drainer. Not all of your emails need to be answered immediately. Rather than replying to emails throughout the day, set a specific time during your work hours to answer your mail. Of course you can take time throughout the day to answer emails on time-sensitive matters or from important people, such as your CEO or best client.

The Most Important Is First

If you slept well and had something to eat for breakfast, your productivity level at the beginning of your day should be high. Take on your most time-consuming or labor-intensive project while your energy and concentration are through the roof. Save small tasks for the end of the day when your performance starts to wane.

Use Breaks Effectively

All employees should utilize breaks throughout the day to avoid burn out. Because peak work performance generally takes place at the start of the day, try to save chats with coworkers or updates on your social media sites for late afternoon. Go on a short walk or read a news article mid-morning for a less distracting break near the beginning of your day.

Prioritize the List

To-do lists are great tools to help keep your day organized. But piling too many tasks on your list can affect your productivity negatively. Prevent daunting to-do lists by only selecting items you plan to get done that day. Number each item on the list to prioritize items you’ll do first. Go a step further by allotting a specific amount of time for each task. Complete this process for each day of your week.

Make Good Health Choices

Your energy level each day contributes to how productive you are during your work week. Several factors affect your energy level and good health is the best way to positively shape it. Make sure to get an adequate amount of sleep each night to restore your body for its next day of work. Avoid constantly eating fast food or drinking sugary drinks that deprive you of the energy you need. Exercise multiple times per week to help keep your physical and mental health strong.

For more helpful tips on improving the productivity and overall work performance of your staff, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: Victor1558