Volkmar Völzke's BLOG


4-day week: An unpleasant truth

productivity Feb 27, 2020

Lately I've been reading more and more about the idea of the 4-day work week and its positive effect on productivity: people manage more in 4 days than they did in 5 days before.

I find the reasoning behind this fascinating: you focus better when you have less time available.

So, I ask myself a very simple question: What does that have to do with 4 or 5 days? Why not switch to the 2-day week for the same reason?

Let's be serious: If we can focus better in 4 days, we can also do it in 5 days.

Our performance has very little to do with external circumstances and a great deal to do with our internal desire for high productivity.

Here are three ideas on how you and your team can become significantly more productive, whether you work 3, 4, 5 or 6 days a week:

  1. Tight deadlines. Set tight time horizons. For example, I write these impulses in the 10 minutes I spend waiting for my next train at the station. Works like a charm! Others read Facebook while I'm producing.
  2. Standards. Most of us...
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Keeping your feet on the ground

leadership mindset Feb 21, 2020

Trump, climate change, the corona virus, refugee crises, etc…these things can make one pretty dizzy. Nowadays, countless messages come pouring in, through all kinds of channels, every day, and 90 percent are negative.

One can easily get the impression that these events are all crucial for our daily well-being. But not at all!

They have an influence, sure, but your personal environment is largely determined by exactly one thing: your small daily decisions.

How you treat the people around you has a greater impact on your happiness and success than the killing of a terrorist in Yemen or even the impact of a new virus.

It is very easy to be distracted by exploited media events and use them as an excuse for doing nothing.

Keep your feet on the ground. Here are three things you should do every day despite or because of all crises:
  1. Decision. Decide every day on your behaviour and your positive influence on others. How do you want to positively influence others? What positive things...
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The very simple things

leadership productivity Feb 13, 2020

I proudly announce that I recently became an author for the renowned Swiss business publication, "HANDELSZEITUNG."

My first article is entitled, "Back to the Basics" (just send me an email if you want a pdf of it, in German).

I chose this title deliberately because most companies focus too much on the big programs, the next big strategy, the introduction of new IT systems, the latest employee development program and so on.

These are not in themselves the wrong topics. But often the focus is lost on the huge effects of often very simple changes - the "basics."

Here are a few examples:

  1. Responsibility. If everyone in the company takes full responsibility for and accepts the consequences of his/her own actions, we no longer have to track various projects and can eliminate numerous checkpoints, which also speeds up the activities.
  2. Vision. If there is a clear, unambiguous and emotionally compelling vision, you can avoid many discussions in leadership. The question is then quite...
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How to win people over

leadership Feb 06, 2020

Here is another lesson straight from practice: When I start my "winning team workshops" with a new customer, what do you think often strikes me? Right…skepticism.

This sometimes goes as far as the refusal of individual people to commit themselves fully to participate in the various exercises.

Here comes the fascinating thing: Even extremely skeptical people succeed over time in getting fully involved and committing tto working on themselves, and it usually only takes a few hours.

How does something like this happen? This question is relevant for every person who wants to positively influence others; in particular, for every leader.

Here are three elements that are decisive in determining whether someone is willing to get fully involved in the team despite initial resistance:

  1. Respect. Everything starts with honest respect for each person. If someone criticizes you openly, you know that it is mainly about the criticizing person. He/she wants to express his/her dissatisfaction....
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The amazing differences

culture leadership Jan 30, 2020

One of the wonderful things for me as a sparring partner, consultant and executive coach is that in recent years, I have had the opportunity to look into well over a hundred companies in all kinds of industries. Many of them became clients.

One thing I always find fascinating: the different ways of thinking, behaving and working that the people in the companies - and above all the managers - use to achieve their successes (and failures).

What is an absolute must for some people may have never been thought of by others. For some, weekly briefings are routine; others even have trouble arranging such an appointment once a year.

Some show fun and humour; others make you feel like you have to go to the cellar to laugh. Some constantly encourage and challenge themselves with coaching and training, while others almost never do anything of the kind.

Here is my point: There is a clear connection between how a team thinks and acts and its ongoing successes.

The problem: Most people never look...

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Learning from Beethoven in 2020

mindset productivity Jan 23, 2020

Welcome to 2020! This year marks the 250th anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven’s birth. You will certainly hear more about this event over the course of the year—at least, you will if you are a little bit interested in music.

Here, right at the beginning of the year, are some interesting lessons we can learn from his life, in case you think you have too many problems in yours:

  1. Beethoven’s father became an alcoholic, and his mother died when he was 17. He had to take care of his two younger brothers from then on.
  2. His hearing loss started at the age of about 30 and progressed to complete deafness later on.
  3. He could not marry his love because of class differences.

These are only three of his problems. What did he do with them? Did he complain and withdraw? Quite the opposite. Despite all adversities, he played at countless performances and “incidentally” composed 722 pieces, including operas, symphonies, and piano sonatas. 

The next time you want to...

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Don’t take yourself so damn seriously.

mindset Jan 17, 2020

The world doesn't stop turning because of your decisions. Simply do the best you can do right now to improve your own life and the lives of others.

More here: https://www.volkmarvoelzke.com/blog/how-2020-will-be-very-different

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An Ingenious Method to Increase Profits

marketing & sales Jan 16, 2020

Here again is a business lesson from real life. If you apply the following, you can double your profits relatively simply (although the implementation is, of course, never quite as easy).

Over Christmas, I was with the family in Baden-Baden, which is famous for its thermal baths. One of these spas has an interesting offer: you go through 17 stations that build on each other to maximize the positive experience. The price of this experience is about twice as much as a comparable offer from another spa. 

Now comes the exciting part. These 17 stations are nothing more than any other thermal bath has to offer: showers, hammam, pool, jacuzzi, etc.

So, what happened? The “17 steps” communicate a value that “two-hour thermal bath” simply does not suggest. 

How can you benefit from this strategy in your business? Here are three ideas:
  1. Packages. Create packages for your services and products that suggest a logical choice for your customers.
  2. Clarity. Be very...
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How to kick-start your year

productivity Jan 14, 2020

How do you make the first quarter of the new year substantially more successful than last year? In the video, I explain a core idea.

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How 2020 Will Be Very Different

leadership mindset Jan 09, 2020

You are likely to hear all kinds of well-intentioned advice on how to be more successful and happier in 2020, and I will not repeat it here. But when I look at past projects and coaching sessions with my clients, there are certainly some places where I would like to see more courage to make significant changes.

Here are five ideas for a completely different (and, therefore, even better) 2020:

  1. Don’t take yourself so damn seriously. We are all fallible individuals who try to make the best out of our lives. The world keeps on turning with or without us.
  2. Your life is finite. Stop putting things off and start moving. At the very least, plan a fixed start date in your calendar. Make use of every day!
  3. You have all the power. You are incredibly powerful when it comes to positively influencing others, but most people suppress this power for fear of attracting too much attention. Make the lives of at least three people a little better every day and do so very purposefully.
  4. You decide...
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