If You Care About ROI, Follow This Strategy

When you measure progress within your organization, you don’t do it by checking off each individual activity done by your team. You do it by looking at how well you’re accomplishing your overall company goals. So why do we often approach projects from the opposite direction?

A common mistake that leads to loss of ROI and efficiency stems from our human need to get swept up in the details. Now, there’s nothing wrong with getting all the details right, but details shouldn’t be first in the pecking order of priorities.

For progress to happen, you need to measure your activities. But without goals and a strategy, you can’t measure anything accurately. If you don’t have a solid plan of alignment, you won’t prioritize what actions and details need the most attention.

The flaw in quick solutions

As we’ve all learned in the last year, crises happen, and they can happen overnight. Organizational pivots can be spurred by internal and external events within your market, industry, or location. With varying levels of success, businesses responded to shifts caused by the pandemic by implementing new technology, changing processes, and rearranging priorities.

Even outside the pandemic, it’s incredibly easy for organizations to implement “solutions” to their problems, creating more friction. For instance, many organizations struggle with data duplication because they use different systems to track their prospecting and sales, marketing, and client management. The result is a chaotic mass of unusable data that provides extremely limited information to those who need it.

Here’s how to ensure your organization avoids this type of costly mistake by changing your approach to problem-solving.

Stepping back

Before you decide to implement a solution for a problem, start by following these steps.

1. Identify your core goal

Your goal should be in the context of the result you’re looking for, not the solution. For instance, “We need a system to help us manage our prospecting” is an example of a solution statement. A goal statement looks more like, “We want to make more informed decisions around how we manage our prospecting and have a smoother handoff between prospecting/sales and client management.” Starting with the goal statement stops you from identifying possible solutions before you’re ready and keeps the door open to make connections between this goal and other related goals.

2. Review department alignment

If you want to save time and resources, spend time reviewing how this goal might affect other departments; specifically, determine if it aligns with issues cropping up in those departments. In the case of data duplication, if an organization approaches marketing, sales, and client management as separate tasks, they miss what it’s all about: the entire customer experience.

Suppose they approached this issue with a broader lens. In that case, they could implement a tool to combine each of these activities under one system, resulting in no data duplication and a smoother transition between the customer journey stages.

3. Identify your KPIs

If you’re interested in measuring how well a solution is working (which you should be for several reasons, ROI aside), then identify core KPIs you can use to track a tool’s success. Keep them measurable, attainable, and specific.

To continue with the example used above, KPIs for this type of solution might involve:

  • Increased customer retention rates
  • Increased closed deals
  • Decreased time for client onboarding

Refer back to your goal statement to help you identify the results you hope to achieve.

Don’t skip ahead

If you find a new tool that seems excellent, great!

But stop before implementing it.

It’s easy to get excited about a solution without first clarifying your goal. Who doesn’t like to nerd out about new solutions? But if you don’t have processes in place to stop new solutions from being implemented before completing these steps, you’ll end up wasting time, money, and resources.

These steps should be followed for nearly every activity, process, and solution your organization implements. So even though you’re excited, stop, take a step back, and make sure you cover these bases before running ahead with your new solution. The results will be far more impactful, efficient, and sustainable.

 

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Are Exit Interviews Really Worth It?

The value of exit interviews is a long-standing debate in the HR world, with people landing on both sides of the aisle. Some argue if an organization is broken, exit interviews are useless and hurt the interviewee’s reputation. Others say they are an excellent opportunity for an organization to learn from its mistakes.

The reality? The answer lies somewhere in the middle.

Every time a valuable employee leaves an organization, it suffers. Not only because of the cost it takes to hire and train a replacement, but also:

  • For the loss of institutional knowledge
  • For the time it takes for teammates to adjust
  • For the potential dip in productivity and team morale
  • For the loss of value to customers

So, it makes sense that the smartest move for an organization is to try everything to mitigate loss.

The catch

Exit interviews, team check-ins, increased training, and team development are tangible ways to counteract the loss of a valued employee. However, if your organization suffers from a toxic company culture and mindset, or functions under a fear-based leadership style that discourages open and honest conversations about what’s not working, you’ve got a much bigger problem on your hands.

In this kind of culture, exit interviews will likely be ignored and forgotten. Organizations failing to manage these issues will likely experience (at least) one mass exodus of employees. For that reason, it’s worth doing what you can to conduct honest exit interviews.

For example, suppose employee retention is low. In that case, it’s likely at some point, leadership will take a keen interest in figuring out the cause, at which time those exit interviews will come in handy. No matter the case, exit interviews can be instrumental if handled correctly. If you’re interested in doing what you can to improve your organization, inform your leadership, and mitigate loss, then exit interviews are a great place to start.

Follow these steps to make the most out of them.

Don’t wait 

It’s essential to get your interview in before too much time has passed. Everything will still be fresh in the interviewee’s mind, making it easier for them to recall information and offer suggestions. However, be sure to account for heightened emotions as this can be a rather tumultuous time for a departing employee. It may be worth it to schedule another interview a few months down the road when the dust has settled to allow for hindsight and clear thinking. 

Clarify goals

Before you start your interview, work out what it is you’re trying to gain.

Do you want:

  • To uncover processes that need a review?
  • An honest assessment of managers, leadership, or team dynamics?
  • To get a picture of the job they’re leaving for?
  • To find out why their new job is more attractive than their current role?

Knowing the goals and what you want to gain will help you frame intentional questions and prepare for the answers.

Review  

A common misstep is to forget the interviews as soon as they’re done. But there isn’t any point in conducting them unless you’re ready to follow up, analyze the data, and use what you learned.

Respond 

Once you’ve gotten what you can out of an interview, set up action steps for integrating what you’ve learned. If your goal was to see how your company compared to its competitors in talent attraction, your response would look different than if you wanted to uncover issues with leadership styles. Make sure you lay out your goals and how you’ll reach them both before and after an interview; otherwise, all it will do is gather dust and become irrelevant.

Start before it ends

Internal reviews are a critical part of growth and development. While exit interviews are an excellent way to mitigate loss, they aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution to uncovering issues within an organization. If you’re really interested in improving the employee experience, work out leadership problems, evaluate company culture, and generally drive your organization in a good direction, don’t wait until an employee leaves to get their opinion.

Start early and start strong. Set internal reviews throughout the year, with individuals as well as entire teams. Normalize feedback and open, honest communication. Train leaders and managers to respond to and positively integrate constructive feedback. And above all, work to foster a trusting environment where employees feel free to share their experience without fear of retribution.

All of this may be uncomfortable, but the positive impact on your organization makes it well worth the effort.

 

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Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners 

Getting the Competitive Advantage: Optimizing HR

Your HR team worries about a lot of things.

They worry about compensation, compliance, retention, engagement, attraction, productivity, company culture, and more. Over the past few years, HR has gotten more and more attention as leaders recognize its ability to drive results and growth.

If your C-Suite hasn’t yet, it’s well past time to start strengthening the ties between HR and your leadership teams. With the right direction, HR can provide insights into different levels of your organization that direct managers, individuals, and high-level leaders can easily miss.

Uncovering the competition

A large part of attracting and retaining top industry talent is standing out among your competitors. This requires an intimate knowledge of the different factors employees care about right now, not what ten years ago.

HR has a unique window into this subject. They have access to internal team reviews, the benefits you offer, and professional development plans. They’re there for interviews and can track what questions candidates ask about the culture, what you offer, and how your business is run.

All this is a roundabout way of saying HR has the hard data you need.

If you’re wondering why a clutch of employees all left at the same time or why you don’t see a strong ROI on your benefits plan, your HR team has the answers in substantial, verifiable numbers. Their insight can be invaluable when deciding what perks to offer or how to develop company loyalty and engagement.

Setting you up for success

While HR may have a lot of insight into your organization’s critical parts, it’s essential to remember they are busy. Without a concerted effort on behalf of the leadership, their wisdom can go unspoken, unused, and wasted. To make sure you don’t waste your opportunity for development, take these steps.

Start the conversation

At the beginning of every year, sit down with your HR team and start a high-level conversation about your organization’s current state. Ensure you hit the major talking points: benefits, employee engagement, retention, compliance, and culture. Get a gauge on where they think you are on the competitive landscape. Think about and ask such questions as:

  • What are your competitors offering?
  • Who have your employees left your organization to work for?
  • What do employees care about currently?
  • What are the trending challenges employees are struggling with?

Use this conversation as an opportunity to brainstorm ideas, solutions, and possible challenges. Identify three high-level, long-term goals you have.  Break those goals down into actionable, measurable, short-term goals to focus on throughout the year.

Revisit, review, repeat

Set quarterly meetings to review progress on each of these goals. Make sure to set the tone for open, honest communication. Your HR team needs to know it’s okay to talk about these issues because without that confidence, these meetings will be useless. It can help to focus on hard data to de-personalize successes and failures.

Make these reviews about progress and engage and encourage your team’s creativity to solve problems and develop new ideas to help you keep your competitive advantage. Set measurable, SMART goals to create a clear path forward.

Unlock your potential

Since the HR department touches different parts of your organization, its ability to affect change and assess your company’s health can be meaningful. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to gain real insight, gauge where you are in your competitive landscape, and set yourself up for success. Strong leaders understand the need for transparent internal processes for growth, and HR has the insights to get you on the right path.

Together, your potential is more significant than you may think.

 

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Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners 

Driving Growth with Purpose

Keeping employees engaged is a constant worry for leaders. There are many ways to address engagement in the workplace. Benefits, company culture, and professional development are some aspects of the employee experience that drive engagement. But if you look at engagement from a personal—even emotional—level, there’s something deeper at play.

Think about the last time you became disengaged with a project. What was the deriving factor behind your disengagement? More often than not, we become disengaged with our work because we feel it doesn’t matter. We become disengaged with our roles when we lose our sense of purpose.

That deep human need to feel valuable, of use, and appreciated—to feel like we matter­—plays a central role in whether or not we give our 100% at work or if we slowly decline and become less and less interested in our contributions.

While creating a supportive company culture, good managers and fair compensation can make a huge difference in employee engagement. It’s important not to leave out this simple yet critical part. You need your employees to feel like they matter to you, your organization, and your customers. 

So how do you do that? Try these steps.

Ask them about their career goals

Whether an employee is just starting or has been with your company for years, engaging them in a discussion around their future and interests can make a serious impact. By doing so, you can:

  • Align their aspirations with your goals for the future of your business. Maybe their interests lie in learning a new set of skills your organization could use!
  • Show them you acknowledge their individuality, path, and personal trajectory outside of your organization.
  • Get them thinking about how they can grow within your company—creating a path to a good future for both them and your organization.
  • Help them realize the work they’re doing will play a part in their future opportunities.

Recognize, recognize, recognize

And the more often you do it, the better.

Did an employee write a great email? Tell them. Did a team complete a project without any hiccups? Celebrate it. Tell your managers to watch the individuals on their teams and identify and celebrate their particular strengths. When people feel seen, they put more intention in their actions. Appreciation goes both ways, so make sure you’re not stingy with yours.

Make your organizational goals personal

A great way to foster purpose is to help your employees see their role from a broader perspective. Engage them in conversations about the future of the company. Ask for their advice and input on how things could be better, and center all of this around your organizational goals. Help your employees see how their role is essential to your organization’s success.

Consider having interdepartmental check-ins where each department talks about how they rely on one another. When your company meets a goal, celebrate your employees for making it happen.  

Be flexible when you can, where you can

Employees have lives outside of your organization. They have families, personal goals, friends, doctors’ appointments, and mental and physical health to manage. So, when an employee approaches you for help, be it flex time, extra time off, or medical leave—supporting them to the best of your ability can make a lasting impact on their loyalty and engagement. They’ll feel valued and taken care of as individuals, and that will translate to how they see themselves as employees.

Some employees expect to be resented for taking time off—and in many cases, it’s true. They fear losing their jobs, their position, and their standing. Show them it’s safe to be human and that you have their back.

It can be challenging to find effective ways to make employees feel seen and valued, but the effort is worth it. It will foster strong, loyal relationships and a sense of value and purpose for everyone. This value will translate into high-quality work, dedicated employees, and a culture and brand that will attract, retain, and drive talent.

 

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Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners 

Five Steps to Developing an Innovative Organization

More than ever, we know how valuable a genuinely innovative team can be. Organizations that weren’t flexible enough to find solutions to 2020’s problems have suffered and closed their doors. On the other hand, agile, innovative, and quick-thinking organizations have had a much easier time navigating this year’s challenges.

Changes are happening fast—not only in our economy but also:

  • In how customers communicate and set their expectations,
  • In businesses adopting new processes and technology platforms,
  • In the ways people communicate with one another, and
  • In the types of resources people need and use.

Because of this, flexibility and innovative growth are the keys to developing thriving businesses in the years to come.

If you’re looking around at your team thinking, “Well, this isn’t us,” don’t worry! Innovation and flexibility aren’t innate traits that we either have or don’t have. They are teachable, learnable skills.

To help put your organization on the right track in 2021 and beyond, try these five tips.

1. Encourage honest, open feedback

Growth can’t happen without collaboration, and true collaboration results in the best your organization and team have to offer. But that can’t happen without a system designed to encourage and nurture open and constructive feedback. This atmosphere often comes from the top down.

Consider how you, as a leader, ask for and receive feedback:

  • Do you ever ask your team’s advice?
  • Do you ask for their input when developing new processes or reviewing old ones?
  • Do you encourage their feedback on projects?
  • Do you celebrate their input?

Take note of how you demonstrate the value of open, constructive feedback. Then work to encourage it in areas where it’s lacking. Remember to train new employees to expect feedback and to feel confident enough to give their own. Make time in meetings to discuss ideas as a group and ask each person’s opinion. Single out people who seem shy and help bring them out of their shells (and the same goes for those who are incredibly confident—single them out!).

The goal is to work open feedback into everyone’s expectations about how things are developed and created within your company. When people expect it, it’s much easier to receive it, and it feels a lot less scary to give it.

2. Professional development

One way to nurture innovation is to make an effort to stop employees from stagnating in their career development. Offer opportunities for them to learn new skills, to expose themselves to new ways of thinking, and to move forward.

Yes, it will help deepen the resources they can offer your organization, but it will also foster employee loyalty, engagement, and satisfaction. Professional development adds value for everyone involved, and your team’s productivity and strength will demonstrate that.

3. Psychological safety

For innovation to thrive, there needs to be a level of psychological safety within your organization. Employees need to feel free to try new things, to fail, and to try again. Fear of failure is one of the main reasons things fail in the first place—because people were never able to try.

Train your employees to try new things. Develop their confidence and encourage their ideas. This atmosphere will foster excitement and work against the age-old resistance to change.

4. Employee empowerment

One way to encourage growth and innovation is to provide employees with a strong sense of ownership over their contributions. Train your managers to empower their team to take the initiative. Does someone have a new technology they think would be an asset to the company? Encourage them to prove to you why their idea is a good one.

When employees feel like their work is guided by their inspiration, knowledge, and expertise, they’ll be more likely to put more energy into what they’re doing. Ownership leads to excellence.

5. A values system

Review your values. Far too often, organizations’ values look something like this: integrity, dedication, and excellence. If that sounds familiar, then you’ve got some work to do.

Develop a values system that genuinely reflects your goal of driving growth, encouraging development, being challenged, taking individual ownership, and pushing the goal post farther each year.

Your values are the road map to your company’s future. They inform how you approach challenges and navigate difficult situations. Give them the thought they deserve and encourage your employees to take them to heart. As your team develops around these concepts and begins to identify with the values you create, you’ll see the magic that happens when a team is empowered, driving growth, and taking ownership of your company’s future. It can be a beautiful thing.

Keep working at it. Keep coming back to it. And watch your organization thrive.

 

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Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners 

Tips for Virtual Onboarding

Hiring is a tricky process. You’ve got a lot at stake, and you want to make sure you start strong. But what does hiring look like with remote employees?

You can’t have them shadow someone all day, and you can’t walk them around the office to get acquainted with the team. And onboarding goes beyond the first day–it can easily reach into the first few months after someone assumes their position.

Today, managers hiring remote employees grapple with many questions:

  • How do company values integrate into the onboarding experience?
  • How can new hires feel more connected to the team?
  • How can new hires feel welcomed?
  • What is the best way to mentor and coach new hires?
  • How do you ensure the psychological safety and well-being of new hires?

Try these tips for improving the virtual onboarding experience.

Help them connect

One way to help new employees feel connected with their team and your company values is to boost both individual and group face time. Instead of merely introducing the new hire at the next team meeting, consider breaking up onboarding tasks and assigning them out to different team members to complete. For instance, if you need new employees to get a handle on your file-sharing system, your various communication channels, and your project management processes, assign each team member one task to teach them.

Don’t worry if you have overlapping subjects shared between team members. It never hurts to learn something twice, and it helps reinforce the way your company approaches communication. These one-on-one meetings give new team members a chance to question their peers about what it’s like to work for you. This opens up opportunities for your team to instill company values from the get-go. 

Keep your new hires safe

Psychological safety is a crucial component of a strong company culture. Particularly in virtual environments, it’s critical to over-communicate—especially in the beginning. Creating a transparent feedback process that’s open, encouraging, and constructive will help prepare new hires to interact with your team and accomplish projects.

To counteract possible anxiety stemming from a lack of social and interpersonal cues, make an effort to expressly tell employees when their work meets or exceeds expectations—even for something small. A well-written email to a client, a clearly organized document—whatever it is, make sure you tell them. A simple “well done!” can go a long way in helping them get a feel for how well they’re performing in their new role.

Additionally, make sure you have a transparent system to catch and deal with bad behavior. Workplace bullies don’t go away just because your team is virtual. Develop a company culture that discourages any toxic behavior and a system to manage it if it occurs. 

Clarify the unspoken rules

With many people suffering from increased anxiety and depression due to the pandemic, developing ways to make your work environment less stressful goes a long way in helping people acclimate to their role and to your company culture.

Every workplace has a list of unspoken rules people slowly pick up on as they acclimate to the work environment. But these rules may be harder to pick up on in a virtual work environment, leaving employees to guess what’s acceptable and what’s not. For instance:

  • Is it okay to turn off cameras for a short time during long meetings?
  • Is it acceptable to take a break and go for a walk in the middle of the day?
  • Are you expected to respond immediately to messages on Slack?
  • How are you expected to dress for internal and external meetings?

Make a list of unspoken company rules available to your team members. This will relieve stress and help your new employees settle in quicker and easier.

It’s a team effort

When approached with a collective mindset, onboarding becomes easier than leaving it to one person to guide a new employee through the first few months in their role. A team approach encourages new workplace friendships, better communication, and clearer company culture. Consider doing a post onboarding survey to gauge what you did well and what needs improvement. Keep looking for new ways to engage your team members, both new and old. Virtual work environments don’t have to be lonely and isolating.

Give your team a structure for clear communication, community, and connection, and watch them thrive.

 

 

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Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners 

Soft Skills to Cultivate for 2021 and Beyond

This year has put organizations, communities, governments, and individuals to the test. We’ve been pushed out of our comfort zones and forced to adapt to uncomfortable changes. Most of us have learned a lot, and many have begun to find their footing in the new normal. As we look ahead to next year and prepare to deal with similar challenges, it’s necessary to take stock of what we’re doing well and what we need to improve.

While many of us needed to cultivate new hard skills this year (like learning how to use Zoom to meet the immediate survival needs of the moment), there are other, softer skills that may help us thrive in the long-term.

Developing a systematic approach

If you’re a fast-paced individual who skims through emails and replies on the go, now would be a good time to check yourself. With emailing and messaging being a primary form of communication, your coworkers need you to slow down long enough to read the whole email and respond to each question. If you find yourself rushing through written documents, emails, and comments, it’s time to change up that behavior.

On that same note, make sure you’re intentional about how you reach out to your colleagues:

  • Are you the type to swing by someone’s desk and ask people small questions more than once a day? Stop and think before you send an email or a message.
  • Do you need to ask them right now? Do you think you might have follow-up questions? Consolidate your communication and be as thorough as you can the first time around.

That way, you’re not interrupting your coworkers more often than needed, and you’re allowing them to be as efficient as possible in their response.

Proactive learning

On that same note, being helpless when it comes to answering your own questions isn’t a good strategy. We need to become more self-sufficient and teach ourselves how to do things effectively. If you’re an “I don’t learn that way” type of person, you’re not doing yourself any favors. Just because you’ve done something one way for years doesn’t mean you can’t learn a new approach. And that is what this changing world demands of us.

Don’t know how to use that program? Look up classes online. Ask Google. Watch how-to YouTube videos.

There is a world of information at your fingertips; “not knowing how to do something” isn’t a viable excuse anymore. To stay ahead of the game and function effectively in your role, it’s time to stop being stubborn and get yourself in a learner’s mindset. New solutions, new programs, new approaches all take effort to learn.

So be prepared to make an effort and choose to do it before you absolutely must.

Time management

Working from home can soften your routines and blur the lines between work life and home life. This can make it difficult to set boundaries around your time, take breaks, or even stay on task. Most people haven’t had practice working from home since they were in school and had homework.

Even if you’re not struggling to get work done, your coworkers might be juggling children at home or other challenges that make it difficult for them to manage their time. Make extra sure you’re getting things to people when they need them. Also, know how and where they rely on you. Be conscious and intentional about your approach to your time. Make adjustments and advocate for your (or your team’s) needs when necessary.

Strong written communication

With more communication taking place over email and channels like Slack, it’s incredibly important to write in an exact, concise, and grammatically correct way. Don’t make it difficult for people to understand your emails. Don’t leave them guessing what you mean.

Make an effort to learn etiquette for email, Slack, and other communication channels. It can be difficult to convey tone through writing, so be intentional.

Don’t send an email with a question in the subject line and six question marks in the body. At the very least, say hello and wish them a good day. Without some personal engagement, you risk upsetting someone, coming off as rude, or looking unprofessional. Everyone deserves this: your coworkers, your boss, your clients, your employees—everyone.

You wouldn’t scream at your coworkers, so leave out all caps words unless that’s what you want them to think. Writing is your new voice. Treat it with respect and consideration, or you’ll end up with bad results.

It’s on you 

In the end, it’s on us to figure out what works best. It’s on us to adapt and learn new tools. It’s on us to show up every day and give 100%. Sitting around in frustration about all the things you have to learn isn’t going to help you. Take responsibility for your success. Ask for help when you need it, and rely on yourself when you can. In times of change comes growth, it’s up to us to decide whether we grow or get left behind.

 

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Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners 

Four Traits of Powerful Remote Teams

Learning new things is always a challenge. And they’re even more of a challenge when everyone has to learn them all at once. Imagine working for a company where everyone was hired within a week. No one would have any support or experience. It would be chaos!  

That’s the way many companies felt when they had to make the switch to remote work at the beginning of the pandemic. Everyone was scrambling, very few were prepared, and there were many mistakes, followed by halted projects, increased frustration, and uncertainty.  

 As with many things, it helps to model yourself after those who have been successful in doing what you’re attempting to do. And while you may have worked out the major kinks in the first few months of working remotely, it pays off to delve deeper and take a look at the foundation of how you’re running your remote team.   

Here are four traits that successful remote teams have in common. 

1. Individual empowerment 

For remote employees to be their most effective, they need to have a fair amount of freedom to take the lead on their work. Managers and team leaders aren’t as available to hop on issues and get questions answered as they would be in an office. Allowing your team members the leeway they need to find the answers to their own questions, create direction for themselves, and take the initiative whenever they can will help them in more ways than one. Having the ability to take the initiative will: 

  • encourage employees to take more ownership over their tasks 
  • motivate employees to become self-sufficient, creating room for professional development 
  • urge team members to reach out to one another (instead of the boss) for direction and help, increasing collaboration and team involvement  
  • create a more efficient team that only brings challenges to the boss once they’ve run out of ideas and solutions, freeing up time for the team leader to focus on their own work

2. Time for fun  

Like any on-site team, your remote workers need time to relax in a social environment with each other. Creating a virtual happy hour, end of week check-in meeting, or virtual games can help your team feel more connected and engaged with one another.  

People working remotely who say they struggle with it often point to feeling isolated and disconnected. Successful remote teams take this seriously and make efforts to create time for employees to connect. Even if you don’t have a weekly happy hour on your calendar, consider encouraging your team to take a minute or two to chat about non-work related things before a meeting begins, just like you would do in person. This practice creates a critical moment of social connection and mental break from an otherwise quiet and focused day. 

3. Strong core values 

One of the most effective ways to help your team stay aligned and engaged with your company is to develop them around a set of core values that your company holds. Integrating your company values into your onboarding process, your communication, your goals, and your employee (and customer) experience is a wonderful way of creating a mental foundation for your employees to work off of.   

When your employees are familiar with your company’s core values, they can make informed decisions around how they should approach challenges and problems, meet their own goals, and set expectations around how they should be working on their team. Strong core values create a roadmap for employees to follow that provides clarity and a sense of understanding around their function within your organization. This is particularly important with remote employees who need a strong connection with your company to feel connected in their roles while working from home.  

4. Work-life balance 

While working from home can lead to increased productivity and engagement, it can also mean that employees struggle with creating boundaries between work and their personal lives. Without the physical distance between home and office, there is a literal lack of separation between work and life that remote workers experience daily. Employees who can’t step away from their work while at home may start to burn out.  

Set very clear boundaries around when employees should be available. Encourage your team leaders not to answer or send emails after 5:00 pm and to discourage their team members from doing so. Work a healthy work-life balance into your core values and set the expectation that your employees don’t work on their days off or in their free time. Boundaries will help employees feel more comfortable stepping away from their work and allow them to take the time they need to lead a healthy life.  

Keep on keeping on 

As you continue down the road of remote work, check in frequently with your team to find out what is and isn’t working. Keep a running list of the challenges your employees come across and check back with them about their progress. Keep tabs on what other companies are doing and look for new solutions and ideas to keep your team fresh, engaged, and happy. Like anything, it takes practice, patience, and perseverance. Keep working at it, keep talking to your team, and keep trying new things. Eventually, you’ll find your swing. 

 

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Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners 

How to Effectively Manage a Team of Quick-Starts

In the world of company culture, what makes an individual employee effective doesn’t necessarily translate to what makes a team effective. If you have a group of people who all share the same strengths, your organization will suffer because successful teams need different experiences and strengths to balance the dynamic.

If your team consistently has issues with project completion, work overload, and loss of ROI on projects, then you might be dealing with a team of quick-starts. Or, in laymen’s terms, people who thrive on quick, future-oriented thinking, innovation, urgency, and generating a lot of ideas.

Quick thinkers, with high energy and enthusiasm, they don’t shy away from a challenge. But they may end up with too many projects and ideas to complete in an orderly way and may allow essential things to get lost in the chaos.

If this sounds familiar to you, there are few things you can do to help create that essential balance your quick-footed team needs to work efficiently and effectively. 

Consistency is key

 

If your team is made of fast-paced, quick thinkers and even faster do-ers, you may find they resist what feels too slow for them. The problem is that many activities that are essential to growing a healthy company need consistency and deliberate, steady action.

 

Marketing, for instance, requires planning, persistence, and patience. While your team may get through the planning part, they may begin to itch for something new before they’ve given the activity enough time to be effective. You can address this kind of urgency and impatience in a few ways:

  • Create a system of accountability and team engagement where team members have time to check in on one another’s projects, uncovering areas of collaboration and gaps to be filled. This will bring new energy into a project and help team members keep themselves on track.
  • Have your team members outline personal goals and goals for their role within your organization. Set up quarterly reviews to evaluate their role and the projects they worked on in the context of the bigger picture of the organization. It will help them maintain a consistent vision for their role within your company and stay on track and aligned with company goals.

Creating much-needed consistency will help keep your team’s feet on the ground and moving at a steady, sustainable pace.

 

Ideas, ideas, ideas

 

People with a high capacity for creativity and idea generation tend to be excellent assets to any company. They push innovation and help organizations stay competitive. But new ideas are only great if they aren’t eating up the time you need to accomplish your previous ideas.

 

If someone comes up with a new idea, before any work is done on it, take these three steps:

  1. Evaluate current projects to identify if they still need work, and if so, how much needs to be done before the lead is ready to move on to something new.
  2. Define exactly how this idea/project connects to your company vision, brand, and goals. If it doesn’t hit every mark, put it aside until it does.
  3. Reference similar ongoing projects and evaluate whether this idea adds value by itself or is redundant and unnecessary.

Rethink your next hire

While you may not be hiring now, it’s essential to evaluate where your current talent is lacking in strength and plan for your next hire. Hiring for diversity in thought, experience, and talent is the surest way to build a capable team. If your team seems to be struggling with the same types of issues, it’s worth rethinking your hiring process and identifying where you might be going wrong.

We all have biases and tend to want to surround ourselves with people like us. This can be a detriment to your company culture and effectively stifle your team’s potential to grow and evolve into a more efficient, powerful group.

To identify gaps in talent, consider having your current employees take assessments such as Predictive Index or Kolbe A Index to determine what types of strengths you should look for in a new hire that compliment what you already have on your team.

It’s in the people

Whatever strengths or weaknesses your team possesses, do your best to be as objective and aware as possible. The best leadership comes from an honest place that can accurately identify and maximize strengths each person brings to the table. Remember, your team members are human and need your support and guidance. With the right nurturing, leadership, and culture, you can turn your team into the powerhouse you know it can be.

 

Photo by Lukas Gojda

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

 

3 Things to Stop Doing on Video Calls Right Now

As organizations settle into the new world of virtual meetings, some have taken to the latest technology quickly, while some have struggled. And while most companies have figured out the basics by now, there are little things (that have a big impact), which individuals need to look out for to keep meetings professional and effective.

If you, or your team, are suffering from any of these video call etiquette mistakes, fix them now.

1. Bad camera angles

A common issue is retrofitting older technology. Some cameras are separate from the computer, resting on the desk or a shelf. If your camera isn’t at eye level, you’re setting yourself up for, at the very least, an awkward meeting.

Imagine looking into a screen of faces, trying to feel connected to each one. And then one of those images that should be showing a face is actually showing a view of a neck and chin or is peering down on its subject from above. While you can’t exactly make pure eye contact on a video meeting, you can place your camera at eye level, so when you look at and talk to the faces on your screen, those listening are looking directly into your face.

Eye contact, facial expressions, and body language are all critical parts of catching and holding the attention of others. Imagine trying to sell someone a product, or give critical feedback to an employee while they stare at the folds of your neck. Not a pretty sight. And not a way to make people feel connected to you.

Get that camera at eye level, and make sure you’re looking into it, for the good of everyone in your meeting. Your neck will thank you.

2. Browsing your computer

Even though you think you’re being stealthy, everyone can tell when you start browsing the web, checking your email, or working on a different project. Your face changes, your eyes stop focusing, and your body language starts to say, “I’m not listening.” Whether or not you think you can multitask, you’re eventually going to end up missing something or saying something that doesn’t make sense.

It’s not only disrespectful to everyone else on the call, but it turns efficient meetings into ineffective time wasters. You wouldn’t pull your phone out during a face-to-face meeting, so don’t do the equivalent just because you’re sitting in your living room.

3. Getting off-topic

One of the great things about video calls is the easy access to all your work, which you can bring up to show/share at your beck and call. There is something wonderfully efficient about pulling up related project documents for everyone to view simultaneously during a meeting. Screen sharing is great. And so is having all your material with you all the time.

But while it can be useful, it also opens the door for meetings to get off track. It’s easy to say, “Well, while we’re looking at this, I might as well show you this other thing that is sort of relevant but not directly on topic.”

Just because you have everything with you doesn’t mean it’s most efficient to talk about it all right now. One of the first rules of calling a meeting – whether in person or over video – is setting an agenda. If you keep finding yourself getting sidetracked by items that aren’t on the agenda, you’ve got a distraction problem that needs your focused attention to get back on track.

Don’t procrastinate

 While you may have put off making some of the fine-tuning adjustments to your video calling because of how quickly you had to adapt, it’s time to start thinking long term. Virtual meetings and working from home are here to stay, so you better get comfortable with meetings in front of a camera.

You don’t want to look around in six months and realize all your competitors or co-workers have their virtual meeting skills down to a T while you are still struggling. And luckily, it doesn’t take much to make the adjustments. And when you do, it makes all the difference.

 

Photo by Luis Molinero Martínez

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners