Tony Schwartz on the productivity paradox: How to get more out of people by demanding less

Posted on: October 29th, 2012 by bobmorris

In an article written for the June 2010 issue of Harvard Business Review, Tony Schwartz explains how those in senior management have myriad opportunities to set the right context for their employees to replenish their energy. “It’s all about providing examples for others and creating a safe environment.”

Here is an excerpt in which Schwartz suggests several dos and don’ts. To read the complete article, purchase a copy of this issue or take advantage of a significantly reduced subscription rate. Once subscribed, you can access all HBR articles and a wealth of other resources. To obtain complete information, please visit https://hbdm.hbsp.harvard.edu/hbr/sub/subscribe4.html.

Here are four DOs

• Take back your lunch. Get away from your desk, and preferably out of the office altogether, so that you come back to work more focused and fueled to face the rest of the day.”

• Communicate your values. “Feeling valued is our core emotional need. Once a week, write a note of appreciation to someone who works for you. Be very specific about what it is you value.”

o Cultivate creativity. “Set aside an informal, relaxing space at work that is devoted to creative thinking and brainstorming…Schedule a regular time – at least once every two weeks – to gather with colleagues to brainstorm new ideas, discuss new initiatives under way, discuss longer-term projects, or set strategy.”

o Share your passion. “Communicate to all associates what you stand for and what your larger mission is, beyond profit. If that isn’t clear to you now, set aside time to reflect on it.”

Here are three DON’Ts

o Avoid conflict. “Ignoring a difficult situation typically does more harm than communicating directly and honestly about it. The key to a successful conversation is not to assume you’re right but to enter into it in a spirit of openness and curiosity.”

o Try to do multiple things at the same time. “Make an effort to give people your full focus and try to listen without interrupting. You’ll know you’ve succeeded if you’re capable of repeating back what you just heard.”

o Be self-absorbed. “It’s easy to make it all about you. Try to step beyond your own immediate needs to better serve the needs of those you lead.”

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To read the complete article, purchase a copy of this issue or take advantage of a significantly reduced subscription rate, please click here. Once subscribed, you can access all HBR articles and a wealth of other resources.

Tony Schwartz is president and CEO of The Energy Project. He is the co-author, with Catherine McCarthy, of the 2007 HBR article, “Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time.” He is also the author of the book The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working: The Four Forgotten Needs That Energize Great Performance, written with Jean Gomes and Catherine McCarthy (Free Press, 2010). This book was later re-named Be Excellent at Anything: The Four Keys to Transforming the Way We Work and Live.

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