10 Essential Elements of Human Performance and Productivity

High performance and productivity have more elements and characteristics than you can shake a stick at.  The literature in the field is full of tips for improving your performance and productivity.

But you don’t want to spend months or years trying to figure out what works best for you.  So, from time to time those of us who spend a great deal of attention on these issues come up with handy little lists of essentials to help you focus on the more meaningful and helpful areas to work on.

Here’s one of my latest ones.  I’ll be taking each of the elements and expanding them in later posts.

But, don’t just wait for me! You can use the list to go out and research what others have already said.  And if you do wait for me, I’ll be including my favorite links in those future posts on the elements.


The List: 10 Essential Elements of Performance and Productivity


1. Energy — You have to have the physical and psychological stamina and drive to start, follow through and finish up.  We all have be taught to think about time management for getting things done, but the real work is in energy management.  You can plan and strategize and schedule all you want,  but if you don’t have the energy at the time you schedule the action or the stamina to go through all the steps to finish, the time doesn’t matter at all.

Continue Reading This Post! There’s Lots More…10 Essential Elements of Human Performance and Productivity

Fun With PowToon

Summary: The following article tells of a great (but time-limited) deal for making animated videos.  At the bottom, there is a video demo of the results I got with my first try.


I got a great deal from AppSumo yesterday on the Pro version of PowToon. PowToon.com is an online service that lets you make very quick animated videos. You can use it for explainer-videos, marketing and just plain entertainment. You can publish what you do as a movie or a slide show. PowToon will even put it directly into YouTube, Facebook and/or other media.

And, if you take the PowToon upgrade offer in the already fabulously discounted Pro deal from AppSumo, you’ll be able to use your creations commercially. It usually costs $228 for a year’s subscription to PowToon, but AppSumo is offering it for $49.  And the upgrade offered after you register at PowToon is another $49 for the commercial license.  Apparently the usual cost for the commercial upgrade is over $600.

In addition to the ways you can use it on your website, you could also make entertaining slides for some serious presentations.  After all, one of the most-given pieces of advice to educators and speakers is to add humor or something that is entertaining and engaging to presentations.

These days, it isn’t just content that is king, it’s video content that is king.  And video (or slideshow) content is king for speaking, training and educational professionals as well.

I have no relationship to either AppSumo.com or PowToon.com other than being a customer.  If you want to try PowToon.com before committing any money, they have a free version.  But don’t wait too long.  This is only good for a few days.

As a brand-new user of PowToon, I took the opportunity to try it out by making a demo of what can be done in a matter of minutes with their system.  It ain’t polished, but it is my first attempt.  Have a look.

Tools For Motivating Employees. The Power of Handwritten Notes and Cards.

employee recognition header

Summary: This post contains not only an article about the engagement value of handwritten notes in employee recognition, but also a video interview with Chester Elton, author of “The Carrot Principle,” expanding on the subject.  In addition, there are links to sources of message samples and there are two pdf sets of printable note templates you can use to make your own clip-on notes or sticky notes.

Time after time, research shows employees value recognition above money.

There is only so much reward value to money.  Sure, people want to be fairly compensated.  But they’d rather have less money and an appreciative boss.

In fact, many people take jobs or stay with jobs with companies that don’t pay as well as the average, if the bosses and co-workers are friendly, caring, understanding and appreciative.

There are two kinds of employees you need to recognize.

As you might expect, people want recognition for various levels of above-average work — from “this is a particularly good job” through “this is outstanding” to “Wow! I think you just saved the company!”  You can easily see and desire to reward particularly good performance.

But there are plenty of good, steady workers who deliver the work you hired them for.  Their work is consistent and reliable.  It is of the good quality you expect of workers at their levels. It is the work that you need to make the organization operate smoothly.  And they show up on time, work the full day and do what is expected of them.

Usually, you can’t think of any one action or project that is deserving of particular praise.  They don’t do anything especially outstanding.  It’s just that having employees like these is outstanding in and of itself.

Those employees want and deserve recognition as much as the so-called “star performers.”  They are “stars” in their own way.

You need both types of performers.  The first type help your business grow.  The second type make it run.  In fact, most of your best employees have both types of characteristics — they are steady and reliable, yet they also are able to go above and beyond.

So, how do you recognize both kinds of good employee performance and productivity.  And how do you do it so that it is genuine and reflects the value of the performance?

A great way is to send handwritten notes.  Notes that  tell the employee specifically what contribution he or she made.

Most verbal praise lasts as long as the paper it’s not printed on.  Not to mention that few people know how to express themselves fully but succinctly when they are face to face.

A handwritten note may be the highest form of personal recognition.  It implies that you took the time to think about the employee and write it yourself.  You didn’t have your secretary or assistant type and email a standard “good work” message.  It is an original, one-off, completely individual acknowledgement.

Because it is unique to that employee, the employee usually keeps it.  Values it.  Because the employee feels valued.  Noticed.  Appreciated.

You can’t buy the goodwill that comes with that kind of feeling.  It feeds the employee’s self-esteem.  Money and gifts can’t do that.  Personal attention can.

It doesn’t take a long letter.  Something the size of a sticky note can work very well for the more frequent and casual messages.  Sticky notes actually are perfect for sending a quick “thank you” or “good job” right on the documents or objects that you are praising.  Or, if you primarily exchange documents by email, you can print out a document you want to comment on and stick a note to it.  It’s easy to do this so you can do it fairly frequently.

For both kinds of performance I mentioned earlier, you can merely write a few words that say specifically what you appreciated about the employee’s work and sign it.  As a base for your handwritten note, you can use pre-printed note paper, cards and sticky notes that call special attention to your message. (People love them.)

You can also download sample messages to help you compose your own.  Just be sure to point out something in particular about the work of the employee you’re writing to.  Keep in mind that it is a personal message.

Here are some sites where you can copy or download sample messages.

  1. http://www.baudville.com/Baudville-Sample-Employee-Recognition-Messages/pdfs (this site also has printed note paper and cards you can use to write your message on.)
  2. http://brandongaille.com/31-employee-appreciation-messages/
  3. http://s1.card-images.com/images/sayitwrite/pdf/ThankYouEmployeeAppreciation.pdf
  4. http://www.globoforce.com/gfblog/2013/101-effective-words-to-use-in-recognition/
  5. http://examples.yourdictionary.com/examples-of-words-of-appreciation.html

In addition, I’ve made some sticky note style print-ables you can use to write your notes on.  You can download them here: http://superperformance.com/downloads/employeepraiseprintable.pdf.  It is a tw0-page pdf.  You can use one set of four notes for praising special achievements and the other for messages that recognize the value of continuous, everyday good work.


In this video, Chester Elton, author of The Carrot Principle talks about the power of specific recognition and the handwritten note