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Working Smart

You encourage teamwork among your staff, but no amount of preaching will help if certain workers relish their independence, bear grudges against co-workers or fear being left out when it’s time to roll the credits. To win them over, meet with them privately and ask four questions.

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The other day, I overheard employees chatting in the hall. One said, “At least it’s Wednesday. Only two days till the weekend.” Another added, “Yeah, I can’t wait to say TGIF.”

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A senior executive unfairly chastises your favorite colleague and concludes, “He’s no good.”

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What are the four most dangerous letters in the English alphabet? ASAP. When delegating a task, many managers say they want something done “ASAP” instead of giving a specific deadline. While requesting results “as soon as possible” can underscore the urgency of the job at hand, it can also breed resentment if workers tire of always having to rush in a panic to give you what you want.

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If you procrastinate, you’re stealing time that could help you ace your work. This quiz will help you tell if procrastination is hampering your effectiveness:

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When you manage a staff, it’s only natural to want them to like you. But at the same time, it’s a mistake to get so chummy with employees that you lose your ability to lead them effectively. The best managers walk a fine line by earning the respect of their team without going overboard and befriending everyone. Here’s how you can strike the proper balance:

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Everything you know about office bullies is wrong—well, most of it. Recent research shows the assumptions we make about bullies can lead us astray. For example, there’s a common belief that bullies are insecure and lack self-esteem. In fact, they’re often popular and have an inflated sense of self. Here are other myths about bullies:

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In this troubled economy, it’s especially important to ensure your team remains competitive. An audit can help you determine if you are operating at peak productivity. Begin by asking your employees two questions:

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“Hot teams” improvise, do more work with less supervision and make the extra effort to follow through. Management consultant Laurence Haughton offers this advice for turning ordinary groups into hot teams.

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It’s not the end of the world, but to your employees, it feels like it could be. How you handle times of trouble for your company will decide whether or not your people come out unscathed.

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Q. My boss lied to me. I wanted to be named team leader, but he said, “Oh, too bad, I already chose someone else.” I later learned he hadn’t selected that person until the last minute, after I spoke with him. Should I confront him?

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Procrastinators often convince themselves they’re prone to wait to the last minute. Eventually they view their bad habit as a permanent character trait. That’s hogwash.

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Your boss says we should close America’s borders to all Muslims.

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It pays—literally—to keep tabs on what the competition is up to. By analyzing your competitors, you can anticipate new opportunities and developments in the market, make better operations decisions and more effectively evaluate your strengths and weaknesses.

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If your small business operates more than one vehicle, chances are that you now (or will eventually) spend too much time managing the related maintenance and paperwork. An increasingly smart solution: Look into fleet-management services, which are no longer just for big businesses thanks to technology advances.

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What do you do with company vehicles coming off their leases? Many employers now sell them to employees, a move that’s trending upward thanks to some attractive financial benefits and a new breed of technology to help manage the process.

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In the face of rising travel costs, look into swapping a pricey off-site meeting for a low-cost conference call.

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Ending an informal partnership is simple because there is no official entity to dissolve.

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What’s your opinion about joining a personal wellness program, say Weight Watchers, at work with your boss and colleagues?

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I’ve been asked by my manager
to spend a few weeks training a new hire to do my job. I’m worried this
person might be in line to replace me someday, possibly soon.

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