Good leaders inspire confidence in themselves and their abilities. Great leaders inspire confidence in the team and their collective contributions. Great leaders also inspire enthusiasm among the team members to exceed their normal performance level in order to reach a common goal.

In order to create an optimal environment for success, leaders must be able to do all of these things and more. This article will discuss the four essential leadership actions necessary to cultivate healthy and productive conditions for teaming. Of course, these actions may be applied to nearly any scenario, however, with respect to the topic at hand, they can provide a solid foundation for learning and execution practices within the workplace.


Frame the situation for learning

Framing is an important leadership action that facilitates a behavior change and promotes teaming through learning. As a leader, it is crucial to understand how this action shapes the team’s views, particularly its purpose and the member’s respective roles in achieving the desired outcome. The relationship between positive framing by the leader and the successful outcome of a goal is directly related. This necessary action provides context and influences how members of the team work together with one another. It can be the difference between success and failure, which is why it is vital that leaders create a clear and compelling purpose that unites and inspires team members.

The successful framing of any situation requires a defined leader, a skilled team and a motivating purpose. Each role plays an important part in reaching the desired outcome and determining which actions is most beneficial for forward movement. Below is a short description of each role and its purpose within framing for learning:

  • The leader is an expert and visible spokesperson responsible for communicating awareness of a crucial performance gap and able to create a compelling vision based on a new direction or initiative. It is crucial that this role convey its interdependence on the team for a successful outcome. The leader must frame the situation in a way that promotes full participation across the team. As the leader, remember to ask for assistance, listen to feedback and learn from your own limitations.
  • The team consists of skilled support staff hand selected by the leader. Each team member must possess the intellectual and emotional commitment to the project. This is accomplished by the leader, as they are responsible for conveying the value and skill set each individual brings to the team. By framing the team’s contributions as integral to success, the leader is able to build motivation and commitment across the team.
  • The Purpose is an aspirational or defensive objective, typically focused on solving a particular problem. As a leader, it is important to provide a compelling reason as to why the team exists. This allows team members to understand the context upon which their expertise and skill set will be utilized. In order to create a truly motivational purpose, the leader must communicate the connection between the teaming effort and the overall objective of the project.

At times, it is necessary to change the framing of a situation or project. Doing so isn’t easy, and it requires a level of self-awareness that not all leaders possess. To change the frame to promote learning and improvement, leaders must recognize their own self-protective behaviors and understand how those actions can inhibit the process. Actively working to transition to a learning frame requires the successful implementation of the following activities:

  • Enrollment: Let employees know that they have been specifically chosen for this project.
  • Preparation: Hold a team-building meeting to discuss the current state and collect ideas.
  • Trial: Envision and enact the process in a way that provides insight for the team.
  • Reflection: Learn from the trial process and make adjustments for the next iteration.

Make it psychologically safe to team

Great leaders do not see employees as a means to an end. Rather, they see financial success as a tool to help grow their employees.

Psychological safety is the solid foundation upon which organizational effectiveness and financial success are built, which is why it is crucial that leaders focus on creating trust and respect within the workplace. A safe environment provides many positives for organizations, such as higher levels of employee engagement and overall better performance outcomes. When employees feel emotionally safe, they often seek out more learning opportunities and are motivated to expand their respective roles on the team. This type of positive environment also mitigates image risks such as being seen as ignorant, incompetent, negative or disruptive.  

The following actions can help promote psychological safety:

  • Put others first: Take care of your team first and put their needs before your own.
  • Create a safe zone: Develop an environment focused on trust and respect.
  • Lead by example: Demonstrate the qualities necessary for the team to excel.
  • Be inclusive: Encourage input and invite team members to participate.
  • Set boundaries: Express clear guidelines about what is acceptable.
  • Promote accountability: Hold team members accountable in a fair and consistent way.
  • Acknowledge shortcomings: Display humility and encourage the team to learn from mistakes.

When team members feel psychologically safe, the collective output of the group is both intrinsically fulfilling and financially profitable. As a leader, this is one of the most crucial steps towards creating an environment where employees can learn from failure without fear of judgment.

Learn to learn from failure

To create an environment of learning, leaders must learn to shift their thinking about failure. The first thing a leader must do is realize that failure is inevitable. They must also understand the two primary reasons failure occurs in a team environment: technological and interpersonal challenges.

New technologies and change processes often require a new skill set, and groups assembled from different backgrounds and disciplines can create interpersonal challenges. Understanding the primary reasons failure occurs while teaming, helps leaders develop the appropriate learning opportunities to combat such failures.

Because learning from failure is an iterative process, leaders should treat each failure as an opportunity. To do so, it is important to create a culture of learning by employing these three core organizational activities:  

  • Identifying (detecting) failure: Proactively identify failures through feedback.
  • Analyzing failure: Review and discuss all possible causes and effects while distinguishing between fault and failure.
  • Deliberate experimentation: Strategically create failure for the purpose of learning and innovation.

There are strategies for learning that leaders must combine with each core organizational activity in order to motivate employees to embrace the difficult and emotionally challenging lessons revealed by failures. These strategies require openness, patience, a tolerance for ambiguity and a spirit of curiosity — by both the leader and the individual.

Employ these strategies to identify failure:

  • Create a support system for identifying failure. Make it safe for employees to go to leaders and peers when unsure.
  • Don’t shoot the messenger. Maintain psychological safety.
  • Encourage access to data by soliciting feedback.
  • Reward failure and potential failure detection.

Employ these strategies to analyze failure:

  • Analyze process improvement techniques.
  • Create teams with diverse skills and expertise to identify potential failures.
  • Statistically analyze complex data to figure out all contributors to the failures.

Employ these strategies to encourage deliberate experimentation failure:

  • Make it safe to experiment often.
  • Reward experimentation and failures.
  • Use terminology that breaks down the interpersonal challenges of learning to learn from failure.
  • Create more smart or intelligent failures.

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Cannon, M.D. & Edmondson, A.C. (2005). Failing to learn and learning to fail (intelligently): How great organizations put failure to work to innovate and improve. Long Range Planning, 38, 299-319.

Edmondson, A. C. (2012). Teaming: How organizations learn, innovate, and compete in the knowledge economy. John Wiley & Sons.

Prabhakar, G. P. (2005). Switch leadership in projects: an empirical study reflecting the importance of transformational leadership on project success across twenty-eight nations. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.

Sinek, S. (2014). Leaders eat last: why some teams pull together and others don’t. Kbh.: Nota.


What do you admire in a leader?

That was the question tens of thousands of working people were asked in a study conducted by the Harvard Business Review. Behind honesty, the second most important attribute of a leader was that they be forward-looking. 72% of respondents said this was an important characteristic, and among more-senior roles, the percentage rose to an astounding 88%. With numbers like these, the importance of a shared vision in any organization cannot be understated. The benefits of creating an environment where this message is clearly defined and reiteratively communicated are integral to the success of any organization; they include increased employee engagement, clarity of direction, an emotional commitment to growth, and alignment of individuals with effective actions. In this article, we will explore how effective leaders create and communicate a shared vision for the future.

Start with a Dream

Van Gogh once said, “I dream my painting and I paint my dream.” In many ways, this is how every vision starts — with a dream put into action. Successful envisioning requires boldness. Leaders must question, anticipate, imagine, take risks, and ultimately, change; they must dream big where others see obstacles. In order to effectively create a vision for the future, a leader must adopt this mindset and be willing to consider all options. Below are a few questions to consider when developing that idea:

  • Does my vision contain an entrepreneurial idea?
  • Will it create strategies in terms of an actionable business idea?
  • Is it possible to create a strong organizational culture based on my vision? (In other words, will people actually care about contributing to the success of the organization?)

Reflect on Values

The next step in building a shared vision is to examine the current state as it relates to your overall goals. Identify what’s working and what’s not; look at the present business situation and determine the following:  

  • What is our purpose as an organization?
  • What is our driving force?
  • What are our core values?
  • What do we want to accomplish in the future?
  • What do we want to change moving forward?

The collective answers to each of these will help you identify the core ideology for an effective shared vision.

Note: It is critical that you be brutally honest with these answers. People can easily see through a false vision if your actions as an organization do not represent your vision. For example, if you define innovation as a core value, but you haven’t developed a unique product in a decade, people will spot the disparity and believe your values to be inauthentic. A better alternative to falsifying your image as an organization would be to clearly state your intentions (i.e. grow revenue, reduce overhead costs, etc.). Even if they are boring or uninspiring, being honest with current and potential future employees, as well as your customers, will establish trust — a foundational component of any successful organization.

Create Future Strategies

Moving forward, it is important to identify the greatest opportunities to close the gap between your vision and your current reality. Developing a successful shared vision requires that it meet the needs of the organization’s stakeholders and is adaptive enough to create competitive strategies within the industry. Look for ways to achieve a few quick wins; this will create instant buy-in from stakeholders, demonstrate progress, and maintain motivation across the organization.

Develop a Communication Plan

For a vision to become reality, it is important to evaluate not only what it says, but how it’s created, how it’s communicated, and how it’s lived. Communication of the vision is integral; this step can make or break the entire process. In order to ensure success, develop a plan for ongoing communications to stakeholders. A shared vision must be communicated in everyday actions and behaviors to make a difference in organizational performance. (I’ll repeat that: A shared vision must be communicated in everyday actions and behaviors to make a difference in organizational performance.) Ask yourself the following questions as you determine the best option for continual communication:

  • What will be the evaluation and feedback process moving forward?
  • What, if any, are the potential roadblocks?
  • How will leadership communicate the shared vision?


As a leader, a key step in creating any organizational message is to model the values being set forth. You must believe it, live it, and behave consistently with it. Ask yourself and the leadership team to identify specific goals and actions they will personally take to demonstrate this commitment. In doing so, individuals become personally vested in the success of the message. This is one of the most powerful steps in the process and will allow the shared vision to live through each stakeholder’s thoughts, communications, and actions.

Does your organization have a vision statement? If so, is it frequently communicated to all levels of stakeholders? What actions can you personally commit to in order to better represent the shared vision of the organization?


Gill, R. (2011). Theory and practice of leadership (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Pink, D. H. (2009). Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us. New York, NY: Riverhead Books.

Schein, E. H. (1985). Organizational culture and leadership: A dynamic view. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


We would like to thank Whitney Lane for this post, Click Here to check out her website!


Physicist, cosmologist, and black hole enthusiast, Stephen Hawking possessed the kind of brilliance and determination that most of us can only stand in awe of. Despite a diagnosis of Lou Gehrig’s disease that doctors said would kill him in his twenties, the British scientist went on to live an extraordinary life filled with discovery, passion, and strength of character. Here are four important lessons Hawking taught us during his 76 years on earth:

Never lose your voice.

In 1985, Hawking lost his ability to speak after complications from a motor neuron disease necessitated he undergo a tracheotomy. Yet, this did not deter him. He adopted a unique way of speaking through a voice synthesizer, which registered the twitching movements in his right cheek. Just three years later in 1988, he published A Brief History of Time, which sold more than 10 million copies and remained on the Sunday Times bestsellers list for an unprecedented 237 weeks. Hawking refused to be silenced, and his resiliency and tenacity should serve as a reminder to us that setbacks are merely opportunities to strengthen our message.

Share your passion.

Prof Hawking was the first to suggest a theory of cosmology focused on the unification of relativity and quantum mechanics. He also discovered that black holes emanate energy, which eventually causes them to implode and fade to nothing. Hawking was obsessed with a highly complicated subject matter, yet his theories and publications were studied and read by legions of people. The reason for this is simple: he made his work accessible to everyone. Hawking understood the importance of effective communication — knowing his discoveries would be useless if he wasn’t able to share them.

Stay curious.

Hawking is quoted as saying, “be curious, and however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.” Those that knew him well often described him as fervently inquisitive and absolutely determined. His goal was simple: “a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.” He was fueled by a pure interest in the unknown and an insatiable thirst for knowledge. Choosing to stay curious means choosing to continually learn and evolve, and doing so allows us to work towards self efficacy and personal achievement.

Practice empathy.

The theoretical physicist suggested that aggression is the greatest human failure. Useful in the caveman days, he believed it to be a significant threat to humanity today. Hawking also believed empathy to be the most effective counter to aggression — suggesting that empathy, rather than some complex calculation, would save mankind. Though seemingly simple, he suggested that the ability to understand and relate to another person’s emotions takes practice. However, exhibiting this altruistic and selfless behavior can lead to positive outcomes in our lives. Choosing to understand the circumstances and feelings of one another is a uniquely human gift, and it should be treated as such.

Stephen Hawking possessed the mindset and the courage of a true visionary. His contributions to science and life, in general, were expansive and insightful. And I think his presence on this earth helped us all learn a little bit more about the mysteries of the universe — and the mysteries within ourselves.


We would like to thank Whitney Lane for this post, Click Here to check out her website!


Note: No, this isn’t an article about Smokey Robinson (hope I didn’t just lose any potential readers there).  

Consider the following scenarios:

The CIO tells a female colleague she needs to sit in the back of the room — as a joke. The VP of Procurement tells a subordinate he wouldn’t need a new office chair every two years if he’d lose 75 pounds. The CEO demands that a department do his bidding if they want to receive a sustainable budgetary allocation for the year. The VP of Sales regularly yells and cusses at his team for missing performance goals. The CMO is infamous for gossiping about subordinates and feigning ignorance when confronted.

Aside from being unprofessional, ill-behaved, and quite shady, what do all of these individuals have in common? The answer is that they are all severely lacking in emotional intelligence. They are creating distress and discord within the organization, and from a psychological standpoint, letting their ego drive their behavior.

So what exactly is emotional intelligence? According to Mayer, Salovey, and Caruso (2008), “Emotional Intelligence (EQ) includes the ability to engage in sophisticated information processing about one’s own and others’ emotions and the ability to use this information as a guide to thinking and behavior. That is, individuals high in emotional intelligence pay attention to, use, understand, and manage emotions, and these skills serve adaptive functions that potentially benefit themselves and others.”

In simpler terms, emotional intelligence is the ability to identify, assess, and manage the emotions of oneself and others. It affects how we navigate social situations and make decisions concerning others. EQ is formed by four core competencies: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. Depending on proficiency, each of these skills either aids or hinders a person’s ability to interact with others. When positively applied, EQ facilitates thought through the integration of emotions to foster beneficial work qualities such as creative problem-solving, initiative, empowerment, and autonomy — just to name a few.

And why exactly is it important? According to multiple studies, emotional intelligence is the single biggest predictor of performance in the workplace and is the strongest indicator of leadership and personal excellence. As a result, people with a higher degree of emotional intelligence make more money — an average of $29,000 more per year.

The good news is that EQ can be developed. The pathway for emotional intelligence begins at the spinal cord, travels through the limbic system — the place where emotions are generated, and then finally to the rational center of the brain. So, improving EQ requires effective communication between the rational and emotional systems. Here are four ways to become more emotionally intelligent:

Tune into your emotions.

Becoming more self-aware is the first critical step toward developing emotional intelligence. Practicing metacognition — the act of thinking about your thinking — allows you to be aware of your emotions as they happen. By expanding your mental awareness and understanding how your emotions develop based on preconceptions, thoughts, beliefs, values, and other intrinsic reflections, you are better prepared to react in a way that promotes positivity and empowerment.

Get out of fight, flight, or freeze mode.

When we are unaware of our emotions, we typically revert to our caveman instincts — stay and fight, run away, or become paralyzed with fear — none of which are helpful or productive in the modern workplace. Once you’ve developed a level of self-awareness, it becomes easier to manage your emotions. This entails acknowledging what you’re feeling and understanding how you would typically react in a particular situation. This process, often referred to as self-management, focuses on using self-awareness to remain flexible and supportive to those around you.

Consider your intended audience.

Once you’ve mastered the skills necessary for self-competence, it’s time to consider the recipient of your communication. This is called social awareness, which is essentially your ability to accurately identify emotions in others and understand how you may be perceived under certain circumstances. Because we each have our own unique history, we often have a tendency to interpret communication based on past experiences. This can include education, religion, adult and childhood experiences, ethnicity, socio-economic background, and relationships. Being mindful of these differences ensures a level of consideration and sensitivity that conveys respect for your recipient.   

Zero in on the end goal.

Shifting the focus away from our emotions and toward the desired outcome is essential to developing emotional intelligence. Referred to as relationship management, this skill involves maintaining a level of awareness of your emotions (as well as the emotions of others) to successfully manage interactions in a way that ensure positivity, growth, and productivity. Instead of reacting in an emotionally-charged way, try to determine the appropriate type of communication based on the end goal. Depending on what you would like to achieve, you may want to evoke feelings of empowerment, competency, and initiative, as well as other constructive, positive emotions.

Here’s the bad news: being a mature, emotionally aware individual isn’t necessarily a prerequisite for leadership. And unfortunately, we can’t always have the luxury of choosing our boss, but we can choose how we react to and communicate with those individuals. The ability to express, control, interpret, and understand our emotions is essential to the development of a healthy workplace, and while we may not be able to affect the EQ of others, we can certainly develop our own.


“Emotional Intelligence: New Ability or Eclectic Traits?” John D. Mayer, Peter Salovey and David R. Caruso. American Psychologist, September 2008, Vol. 63, No. 6, pages 503 – 517.

Puccio, G.J., Mance, M., & Murdock, M.  (2011). Creative Leadership-Skills that drive change.  Buffalo State:State of New York.  SAGE Publications Inc. Thousand Oaks, CA.


We would like to thank Whitney Lane for this post, Click Here to check out her website!

What’s the one factor that affects how engaged and committed you are to your work? According to a whole bunch (very scientific term) of research, it’s your direct supervisor. Simply put, the better the leader, the happier and more engaged the workforce. From an organizational standpoint, effective leaders positively impact productivity, reduce turnover, and improve morale. Yet, despite the obvious benefits, many companies are riddled with bad bosses.

Here are 5 red flags that point to bad leadership:

Narcissistic behaviors

Leaders with narcissistic tendencies often exhibit destructive behaviors, such as arrogance, animosity, and domineering mannerisms. Driven by a need for power, they

yearn for admiration and approval from others. They find it difficult to tolerate criticism or dissenting opinions and often become abrasive with those who dare voice a differing point of view. Narcissists are not known for their listening skills — believing the opinions of subordinates to be irrelevant. Believing they are above the rules, they are often ruthlessly competitive and will likely do whatever it takes to stay on top.

“One of the most important leadership lessons is realizing you’re not the most important or the most intelligent person in the room at all times.” — Mario Batali

Binary view of people

Top-down power structures often promote the idea that everyone is replaceable. Employees are viewed as expenses rather than assets, and there is little consideration for their happiness or well-being. Leaders within this type of environment often show very little compassion or empathy to subordinates. Working for a leader with this mentality can elevate stress, turnover, absenteeism, and burnout. So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed and finding it difficult to get out of bed in the morning, it might have something to do with who’s leading you.

“Profits are the applause you get for taking care of your people.” — Ken Blanchard

Information hoarding

A lack of transparency can turn even the best employee sour. When information is repeatedly withheld, it’s a sign of a leader with an ego problem. This type of behavior can create mistrust and frustration on the part of the employee, and often, can become a leading cause of turnover within the organization. It’s common sense that trust is a foundational component of any good relationship, and this includes those within the professional world. Without it, engagement and commitment cannot form. It’s easy to see the pattern. Transparency builds trust. Trust builds engagement. Engagement builds commitment, and committed employees are happy employees.

“Trust happens when leaders are transparent. — Jack Welch


Autocracy can breed one of the worst environments within which to work. Leaders who exhibit overbearing behaviors stifle creativity and productivity due to their need to maintain control over all decisions. Often, employees working in this type of environment report feeling unmotivated to learn new skills or information, and as a result, the department or organization stops developing. Not only does this hinder individual progress, it also limits efficiency and impedes growth for the company. Therefore, it’s in the best interest of both the workforce and the organization to identify micromanaging leadership and remove it from power.

“A good leader takes care of those in their charge. A bad leader takes charge of those in their care.” — Simon Sinek


Another sure-fire way to discourage efficiency and performance is to use fear as a means of motivation. Poor leaders often use scare tactics to try to get employees to toe the line. Again, backed by ample research (and common sense), it is well understood that fear causes stress, and stress stifles productivity. Creating a cultural norm of fear can cause employees to go into self-protective mode. Sometimes, organizations promote this type of leadership because employees learn to keep their heads down — creating the appearance of a hardworking or diligent workforce. In reality, they are simply attempting to survive.

“He makes a great mistake … who supposes that authority is firmer or better established when it is founded by force than that which is welded by affection.” — Terence

How can you make the best of a bad situation?

Working under a leader with even one of these characteristics can be harmful to your well-being. If you find yourself struggling to thrive under a boss who could use a lot of help, here are a few tips to make the job more bearable.

Know what you can control

When we’re stressed, it’s really easy to point out all of the things we find challenging about the boss, the job, or the company. However, doing so will likely only cause you to focus on the negative aspects of your current situation. Instead, try to focus on the things you can do to make your work better. Are there steps you can take to create efficiency in your work? Are there aspects of your job you enjoy, and if so, how can you emphasize those? Is there an opportunity to improve or bring joy to someone else’s work? Looking for ways to positively influence a less-than-ideal environment may not result in significant organizational epiphanies, but it will allow you (and hopefully others) to thrive and grow in the midst of a negative situation.

Keep your eye on the ball

My deepest apologies for the sports analogy, but we all know working under poor leadership can be demotivating, depressing, and frustrating. Lessen the effects of a bad work environment by choosing to focus on the things that foster intrinsic fulfillment, such as delivering results or producing work you can be proud of. Find ways to use your talents and resources to promote creativity and positivity in your work and in the work of others. Not only will this allow you to feel good about the results, it will help you add value and stand out — which is always beneficial if you choose to search for a position better aligned with your values and cultural preferences.

Reach out

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, staying positive can feel impossible. We’re all human, after all, and we occasionally need to let go of our frustrations. Just make sure you do so in a healthy way. Reaching out to your mentor or close friend to talk through the situation can be therapeutic. If that isn’t an option, try seeking professional help in the form of a licensed counselor or therapist. Often, simply vocalizing your discontentment can help you decide how to proceed. No matter the path you choose, it’s important to remember that your happiness can only be determined by your attitude and resiliency during difficult times.


We would like to thank Whitney Lane for this post, Click Here to check out her website!


The benefits of positive reinforcement in the workplace are innumerable. Reward systems can incentivize and encourage higher levels of productivity, attendance, morale, and retention. They can signal to a team that the work they are doing is important and valuable. Moreover, when positive recognition is aligned with organizational objectives, it can increase profits and reinforce the motivational benefits of challenging direction and well-designed teamwork.

It is well understood that positive recognition is an integral component of supportive team performance; rewards shape behaviors more easily than punishment, and by reinforcing good behavior, leaders can increase the likelihood that those actions will be repeated.

In an idyllic world, a pat on the back would be fulfilling and satisfy our need to be acknowledged for our efforts. But while it is gratifying to be appreciated by your boss, verbal praise is often not enough. Leaders must focus on structuring the work so that it creates intrinsic motivation, and then support positive behaviors with extrinsic rewards. A well-supported work team has a reward system that provides positive consequences for good team performance, an information system that provides the data and projections that members need to plan their performance strategy, and an educational system that provides any training and technical assistance the team may need.

Workplace reward systems are defined as motivational programs that encourage efficiency, productivity, and engagement through both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. The application of reinforcement theory within an organization can produce desirable, goal-oriented behaviors among individuals and teams. A reward system encourages the team to think of the group, rather than their individual needs while creating an environment of sustainable collective motivation.

An important component of any reward system is perceived value. When a team perceives value in an outcome, they are more likely to repeat the behavior. The opposite is true for punishment, as it directs team members’ attention toward self-preservation. This type of environment is not conducive to teaming and sets the group up for failure. For this reason, it is important for leaders to focus on positive reinforcement.

Below is a general process for establishing a reward system:

  • Establish the foundation – Determine the focus of the reward system and identify how the system will be measured.
  • Select a recognition champion – Find a person who is capable and willing to manage the system.
  • Develop parameters – Determine the important components of the reward system and ensure that they are consistent with employee needs and expectations.
  • Design the system – Decide what the system should look like and what resources will be provided.
  • Pilot and introduce the process – Allow time for people to understand, test, and evaluate the reward system.
  • Prepare to roll out or cycle out – Ensure that all stakeholders receive the same messaging about the reward system and orient leadership in the primary objectives of the program.
  • Plan for infrastructure support – Establish team responsibilities and set deadlines.
  • Evaluate and improve the process – Develop an extensive evaluation system to measure the effectiveness of the program.
  • Provide ongoing support for the process – Create a system for reminding stakeholders about the program to prevent backsliding.


Designing Effective Reward and Recognition Programs (2017)


We would like to thank Whitney Lane for this post, Click Here to check out her website!

common problem that we have to address as business owners and/or business managers is whether our time will go toward running our business or growing our business.  We only have so much time to put into our business while maintaining a sustainable quality of life.  In early-stage businesses, growth is our only focus. As we move throughout the lifecycle of the business, we complicate growth with things like customers, accounting and taxes, logistics and inventory, and even employees – all of which take-up our valuable managerial cycles.  So how do we decide where to focus?

Here are four steps that business owners and managers can take to achieve better balance in their management focus and to achieve better overall business results:

#1 – Establish a balanced schedule and stick to it.  Having a balanced schedule means that you are making time to both run AND grow the business.  If you have 8 hours in your day, then make sure at least 1 hour each day goes toward focusing on growth(the optimum level would be 2 or more hours, but 1 hour works for starters) while the rest of your day goes toward running the business. Your business will be open for most of the day, so business hours, in general, will comprise most of your time in operations (running the business).

Focusing on growth means everything from increasing brand awareness via social media and email or phone campaigns, to researching your next product line that will sustain growth into the upcoming seasons for your business.  In general, it is best to do this outside the hours of operation (at least the ones for which you are responsible), so lean toward getting quiet time early in the morning, or late in the evening after the kids are asleep (where applicable) in order for your time to be the most effective.  If this isn’t possible, then know when your slow periods are during the day – close the office door and get to work growing your business!  If you take a lunch – use it!  Grab a sandwich, turn on some music that gets the creative juices flowing and have at it.

If you are already doing this and still struggling, or you are trying to do this and can’t seem to get over the hump – See point # 2.  

#2 – Have your numbers on-hand and know them by heart.  Your financials (“numbers”) are your business playbook and the numbers can tell you what area(s) need(s) the most focus. They can also unlock secrets to faster ROI and to lowering expenses, but there is a large learning curve involved in cutting through the fog to see these answers on a P&L or Balance Sheet.

Many educational resources exist and there are tons of useful articles/infographics out there like this one, but most of these resources assume that you have well prepared financial statements at your disposal. If you have them, USE THEM!!  If you can’t see what all the fuss is about, don’t stop looking at the financials. Do your homework and find out which metrics make your business tick.

If you don’t have financials that are easily accessed, then what?  It’s time for a change! Automating financials these days is as inexpensive and easy as ever.  Programs such as Quickbooks go for between $10 and $100 per month.  They give your financials a professional look and feel and, most importantly, they automate the all-important reporting that you need to stay on-top of business performance.  Additionally, there are loads of free online resources that can teach you how to use them successfully.

If you are already doing this and still struggling, or you are trying to do this and can’t seem to get over the hump – See point # 3.

#3 – Delegate and automate the routine.  Most businesses have routines. Whether its cleaning, bookkeeping, making schedules, answering email, taking phone calls or running reports, each and every business has tasks that are frequently performed that can and should be automated in favor of spending time on growth. In other words, rather than spending time on routine tasks, automate the tasks or delegate them to someone else to do so that you may focus on how you can run and grow your business.

There are may ways to do this and, as we just discussed in point #2, software can help to do many of these things.  For physical tasks, it can be a bit more challenging depending on the number of employees available to your business.  In the end, if there are no others to do the tasks, this is where the business owner must be willing to double-down and elongate their day to fit the needs of the business. Over the long-haul, however, all business owners and managers must be aware of their work/life balance, as too-much-too-often can be stifling to the spirit of the business.

If you are already doing this and still struggling, or you are trying to do this and can’t seem to get over the hump – See point #4 below.

#4 – Know when to ask for assistance.  This definitely does not mean giving up! This only means that you need a couple of extra hands to get you over the hump. This can mean hiring part-time work to help out a couple of hours per day, seeking educational opportunities that help you to better understand your business (financials, technology, marketing or business operations), or even having someone come in on a consultative basis to help grade your business and infuse it with helpful ideas for achieving growth and/or better efficiency (more profit) on your current operations.

If you are already doing this and still struggling, or you are trying to do this and can’t seem to get over the hump – See the shameless plug for our company below.  You were warned…

If you are struggling to run and/or grow, or you just want to learn about how to run your business more effectively – we are here to help.

Magnetic Innovations was founded on the belief that simplicity is the core element in providing sustainable value to customers.  We understand that most businesses already have all the tools that they need to be successful and we can help them to bring that vision into a clearer focus by providing a unique analysis of their current business and then making recommendations for how to increase efficiency and achieve growth successfully.  Our expertise covers a broad base of finance, marketing and business development with businesses ranging in size from Fortune 100 to locally owned startups. We have also participated in numerous business mergers and acquisitions and can show you the most effective ways to drive value whether you are running, buying or selling your business.

Visit us online at or send us an email at contact@mic-llc.comto see if we are a good fit for your business.  Don’t worry – there is no obligation unless we both agree that we are a good fit for one another.  We would love to hear from you!


We would like to thank Doug Maglothin for this post, Click Here to check out Magnetic Innovation’s website!