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Synergy 101: How to improve collaboration among your team members

6285993 - group of young business people talking on business meeting at office.According to IGI Global, the definition of collaborative synergy is: “an interactive process that engages two or more participants who work together to achieve outcomes they could not accomplish independently, in an open, integrated process (operational, procedural and cultural) that fosters knowledge collaboration, influenced by a transformational leadership that encourages participants to expand connections beyond typical boundaries and achieve required… outcomes.”

In a nutshell, synergy is the most ideal form of collaboration among members of the same team. To achieve synergy among your employees, it’s important to foster that “open, integrated process” by giving them opportunities to develop their knowledge and skills required to succeed both on their own and on the team. Here are some ways you can create a more synergistic workplace environment:

What Types of Collaborators Are They?

First and foremost, it’s important to determine what type of collaborator each member of your team is, because not all collaborative styles are the same, and you can tailor your management strategies to meet each employee’s unique needs. Central Desktop developed a typology of 9 different collaborative styles, ranging from more introverted Stealth Ninjas, Siloists and Dinosaurs to the more outspoken and extroverted Ringleaders, Socialites, Taskmasters and Skeptics, to name a few.

Central Desktop offers a quiz that you and your employees can take to figure out what each of your collaborative styles are. Once you understand how each person on your team approaches collaborative situations, you’ll be much better equipped to help them succeed in your organization.

Equalize Contribution Opportunities

On a typical workday, you don’t have a lot of free time to sit around and throw out ideas in an endless meeting. The problem with team meetings limited to an hour or so is that not everyone will get the opportunity to contribute ideas, especially those who are more quiet, introverted, or need time to mentally process their ideas before verbally offering them up for the group’s consideration.

In order to level the playing field for team members who might be more hesitant to immediately throw out ideas or offer criticism, you should expand your feedback channels so ideas, criticism and other discussion-related matters aren’t limited to a single meeting every day (or even once per week). To accomplish this, you must reaffirm to your employees that you’re always open to new suggestions and that they should either email you about anything they come up with after the designated meeting time or they should contribute their suggestions to a dedicated comment box (which can be a digital space where you accept feedback or a physical box where they can leave handwritten suggestions – it’s up to you).

Open Yourself to Criticism

One of the primary reasons collaboration suffers in some workplaces is that people are overly sensitive to criticism, which either leads to people silencing their thoughts in fear of backlash or amplifying conflict among coworkers. To overcome this obstacle, it’s your job as a leader to serve as a role model for receiving criticism.

You can start by explaining the difference between constructive and destructive criticism, then directly tell your employees that you’re always willing to listen to criticism (even if it involves you). For best results, follow through on this promise by directly addressing how you’ll resolve your employees’ complaints, or explain why you can’t or won’t do anything about it – clear communication is vital.

Don’t Be “Too Slow” To Hire

Recruiters today are finding themselves in a highly candidate driven market.  In order to hire the people you need, you may be required to adopt different strategies and tactics to effectively attract and hire new talent.

A 2017 recruiting trends report from Top Echelon, based on input from more than 5,000 recruiters, pointed to two key sources of stress for recruiters:

  • Sourcing qualified candidates (35%);
  • Clients who are too slow to make offers (30.8%)

Being too slow to make offers and hire employees is particularly troubling when the most common complaint  is that “there aren’t enough candidates to pick from.”  Clearly, moving quickly to make a hiring decision and extend an offer is critical.

Use Social Media

It’s also critical for employers to have a firm grasp of what appeals to today’s most sought-after candidates. Millennials are projected to make up over half of the workforce by 2020 and they are currently the most sought after employees.  Ashira Prossack, CEO of Millennial Mastermind, a consulting firm that helps bridge the gap between employers and millennials, says that “Companies and recruiters must reevaluate their hiring strategies to attract this younger generation of workers.”  That means moving beyond traditional recruitment methods to connect with candidates on the platforms they use the most.  You need jobs to be posted on multiple social media sites rather than relying exclusively on job boards.  Because this generation lives on their mobile devices, they expect to be able to apply for jobs quickly and easily through their smartphones.  Therefore, creating a mobile-optimized app to maximize recruiting efficiency is a top priority.

For HR professionals, a good starting point for determining the type of adjustments needed is to conduct an internal audit or analysis to determine:

  • Average time-to-hire, by position or job category:
  • Number/percentage of opt-outs or incompletes during online application process;
  • Ratio of accepted-versus-rejected offers and reasons for rejection.

In each of these areas, it can be helpful to analyze results based on various types of jobs, such as by department, by manager, by position, for hard-to-recruit positions, by type of application (email vs. desktop vs. mobile), ect.

Recognizing that time-to-hire is critical in a candidates’ market, anything that HR can do to help streamline the applicant review, interview and offer process can go a long way toward boosting the odds that your most desired candidates are likely to accept your offer.

 

Is innovation important for managers?

Innovation is a hot business buzzword. Companies need to be innovative to stay competitive against other brands, to meet customer needs, to attract and retain the best talent. But is innovation necessary for35671863 - light bulb lamps management, or is it restricted to business owners, C-suite executives, creative marketers and product design teams?

Here are two important reasons to cultivate innovation in your career as a manager.

1. Innovative people are good problem solvers.

Innovation is just a way of doing something differently. The reason some of the most successful businesses – whether from an employee culture perspective or sales and revenue perspective – are described as “innovative” is because they don’t stop to get distracted by what other people are doing. They see a need and they work to fix it. Companies like Apple and Tesla don’t ask “Why won’t this work?” Instead they ask “How can we make this work?” and turn difficulty into opportunity. This same trait is extremely valuable in all levels of leadership and can help you manage everything from deadline challenges to interpersonal team relationships with an open mind and positive attitude.

2. Innovation nurtures creativity.

Creativity and curiosity are valuable in any business or industry. They help keep individuals from getting bored and complacent and businesses from getting stagnant. Creativity, fed by an innovative spirit, can help people bring a new perspective to a project or help transform a business process to help a department run more efficiently and effectively.

Managers have the responsibility to supervise work quality, delegate tasks, track project deadlines and keep teams running smoothly and efficiently on the day-to-day operations that make a business work, so it can seem like innovation has no place in the time-honored techniques that make managers successful at meeting their goals. But innovation is important for personal growth, as well as flexible and authentic leadership. Whether it’s reading a new business book every month, joining an art class to push you outside of your comfort zone or going away on an annual inspiring conference, make cultivating innovation a part of your work life.

How to reduce distraction and get more done every day

Distraction is the enemy of productivity. While technology has greatly increased our ability to connect with customers, as well as people across our business, it has also driven us to distraction in productivity-40805334 - progress bar, funny design with concept of productivity loadingcrushing amounts. While productivity isn’t the only measure of success, it’s a necessary part of the picture, helping us complete tasks and ultimately drive progress forward. Here are some simple tips to help disengage from distraction without having to go into hiding or stay after hours every day.

1. Schedule your time

Our work calendars can be an onslaught of meeting requests, and even getting up to get some coffee can end up eating 20 or more minutes if we meet someone in the hallway with a question. One of the top tips for increasing your daily productivity is to block out time on your calendar that will be dedicated to whatever deadline-driven or task-oriented work you have to do. Those one or two-hour chunks of time can be for reviewing work, writing up feedback, researching or whatever your day demands. Having it blocked not only means no one else can schedule a meeting during that slot but will also serve as a daily reminder for you, helping you get into the rhythm of productivity.

2. Be strategic about where you sit

Not everyone can move from the lunchroom to an empty conference room and then back to their desk, but most people working on laptops have some flexibility to move throughout the day. Being tethered to your desk can be draining and a change of scenery, however small, can be a boost to productivity. Plus, it also means that people are less likely to drop by your desk to ask you questions when you’re in the middle of something.

As a manager, you absolutely have to make yourself available for questions and meetings and reviews, but organizing your time and occasionally breaking up your landscape are small, daily ways you can make productivity a priority.

Synergy 101: How to improve collaboration among your team members

6285993 - group of young business people talking on business meeting at office.According to IGI Global, the definition of collaborative synergy is: “an interactive process that engages two or more participants who work together to achieve outcomes they could not accomplish independently, in an open, integrated process (operational, procedural and cultural) that fosters knowledge collaboration, influenced by a transformational leadership that encourages participants to expand connections beyond typical boundaries and achieve required… outcomes.”

In a nutshell, synergy is the most ideal form of collaboration among members of the same team. To achieve synergy among your employees, it’s important to foster that “open, integrated process” by giving them opportunities to develop their knowledge and skills required to succeed both on their own and on the team. Here are some ways you can create a more synergistic workplace environment:

What Types of Collaborators Are They?

First and foremost, it’s important to determine what type of collaborator each member of your team is, because not all collaborative styles are the same, and you can tailor your management strategies to meet each employee’s unique needs. Central Desktop developed a typology of 9 different collaborative styles, ranging from more introverted Stealth Ninjas, Siloists and Dinosaurs to the more outspoken and extroverted Ringleaders, Socialites, Taskmasters and Skeptics, to name a few.

Central Desktop offers a quiz that you and your employees can take to figure out what each of your collaborative styles are. Once you understand how each person on your team approaches collaborative situations, you’ll be much better equipped to help them succeed in your organization.

CTA button

Equalize Contribution Opportunities

On a typical workday, you don’t have a lot of free time to sit around and throw out ideas in an endless meeting. The problem with team meetings limited to an hour or so is that not everyone will get the opportunity to contribute ideas, especially those who are more quiet, introverted, or need time to mentally process their ideas before verbally offering them up for the group’s consideration.

In order to level the playing field for team members who might be more hesitant to immediately throw out ideas or offer criticism, you should expand your feedback channels so ideas, criticism and other discussion-related matters aren’t limited to a single meeting every day (or even once per week). To accomplish this, you must reaffirm to your employees that you’re always open to new suggestions and that they should either email you about anything they come up with after the designated meeting time or they should contribute their suggestions to a dedicated comment box (which can be a digital space where you accept feedback or a physical box where they can leave handwritten suggestions – it’s up to you).

Open Yourself to Criticism

One of the primary reasons collaboration suffers in some workplaces is that people are overly sensitive to criticism, which either leads to people silencing their thoughts in fear of backlash or amplifying conflict among coworkers. To overcome this obstacle, it’s your job as a leader to serve as a role model for receiving criticism.

You can start by explaining the difference between constructive and destructive criticism, then directly tell your employees that you’re always willing to listen to criticism (even if it involves you). For best results, follow through on this promise by directly addressing how you’ll resolve your employees’ complaints, or explain why you can’t or won’t do anything about it – clear communication is vital.

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5 ways to encourage your employees to be healthier

34573010 - a businesswoman solves lightly every weight workGood health is associated with a variety of positive outcomes for employees, such as: higher levels of job satisfaction, better mental health, lower rates of absenteeism, and greater productivity in the workplace. If you want a healthier, more productive team, then here are 5 fun ways to incentivize your employees to get healthier, both in the workplace and in their own personal lives:

Get Active in the Office

There are many documented health risks of sitting too long, including: neck and spine problems, higher risk for certain types of cancers, greater likelihood of developing cardiovascular problems, muscle degeneration, and poor circulation in the legs, to name a few. If you’re in the typical office with an 8-hour workday, then it’s extremely important to foster an environment of movement and physical activity throughout the day.

Some simple changes you can try (while accounting for employees with disabilities’ unique needs): standing desks, desk treadmills, swapping out desk chairs for balance balls, encouraging others to take the stairs instead of the elevator, offering discounted gym memberships, and so much more.

Take Your Meetings On-the-Go

As a manager, it’s your job to lead by example. And what better way to do this than by conducting meetings on-the-go? Unless you absolutely need to be sitting to take notes, you could walk around your building or on the sidewalks outside of your building while discussing projects and deadlines with your employees. If you’re relatively fit and won’t sound too winded over the phone, you could even conduct meetings with clients from a Bluetooth headset while walking.

If you’re concerned about keeping track of information, you could simply record meetings with your phone to review when you return to your desk later on. Don’t let the comfort of an office prevent you and your employees from seeking out new opportunities to get active — especially when access to a computer isn’t a necessity.

Hikes Over Happy Hour

Many colleagues go out for drinks after a long day at work, but sharing a round isn’t the only way to socialize outside of the office. Instead, you could lead willing participants on a local hike after work or on weekends. If hiking isn’t an easy option, you could opt for post-workday bike rides as a group, weekly in-house yoga sessions, or simply go for a long walk after everyone clocks out. You’ll all save money and feel better by choosing activities over alcohol!

Host a Fitness Contest

If your company doesn’t already offer fitness and/or weight loss contests, then talk to your HR department or boss about creating a company-wide competition. Since employee health costs are skyrocketing and sicker employees are less productive and absent more frequently, you have a strong incentive to foster healthier habits among your team. However, it’s important to give your employees autonomy over their health decisions, which is why optional fitness contests are increasingly popular.

You may have just one overall winner or multiple winners and runners-up in different categories (e.g., BMI reduction, best calorie-tracking and exercise records, overall health improvement from their initial baseline assessments, etc.). Prizes can include anything from gift certificates for healthy restaurants, free gym memberships, meal kit subscriptions, and company-branded swag.

Create Company Racing Teams

Why not kill two birds with one stone and combine team bonding with health-oriented activities? Creating a racing team for a charity run or group biking event is a great way to encourage team members to socialize with each other and get healthier as they train for upcoming events. It’s also great for community PR if you sponsor an event and/or create team t-shirts for everyone who participates!

Are you showing enough appreciation for your employees?

50851190_MFeedback is commonplace in most offices, but all too often, we focus so much on what others can improve on rather than taking time to praise them for what they’re already doing well. If there’s a chance you might be guilty of not showing enough appreciation toward your employees and over-emphasizing their “needs improvement” traits in performance reviews, then you might want to consider the research-proven benefits of openly appreciating the people who work for you on a regular basis:

Motivational foundation for success

Several research studies cited in a Forbes article found that appreciation from one’s boss can make a world of difference when it comes to on-the-job productivity and job satisfaction. In fact, a study from TimeJobs.com found that a “lack of recognition” most negatively impacts employees’ productivity. Another study reported by Harvard Medical School found that employees demonstrated a greater willingness to work harder when their employers expressed appreciation for them, compared to employees who received little to no positive feedback.

The lesson here is simple: if you want your employees to give their best efforts and avoid looking for other job opportunities, show them how much you appreciate them!

Brighten your workplace culture

As a workplace leader, one of your most important roles is creating an environment of innovation, collaboration and trust among members of your team. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by serving as a role model for the rest of your employees and making regular gestures of gratitude. If you lead by example, then your employees will likely follow suit and routinely share their positive thoughts about others’ work, which will create a more inclusive and fulfilling workplace for everyone to be in.

How to show genuine appreciation towards employees

It all starts with a simple “thank you.” This sounds obvious, but it’s easy to get so caught up in our to-do lists that we forget to make regular efforts to thank others for their help. You may consider including thank yous in your emails, dedicating a few minutes at the end of team meetings to thank your colleagues individually for the work they’re doing, or start up a weekly/monthly spotlight in which you show off an employee’s accomplishments and publicly encourage others to praise and thank them for their hard work.

Every little act of appreciation can make a huge difference in how an employee feels about their job and the company, so take this as an opportunity to foster a more positive, growth-oriented environment in your office.

3 successful strategies for mitigating workplace conflicts among your employees

11506902_SConflicts in the workplace happen on a near-daily basis for many companies, but many offices lack a clear protocol for managing and resolving these conflicts beyond “deal with it and get back to work.” Workplace conflicts can lead to far-reaching negative consequences, such as decreased employee productivity and morale, as well as higher rates of turnover in particularly conflict-ridden office spaces.

Rather than taking on the mentality that “they’re adults, they can deal with it on their own,” here are 3 of the best strategies for workplace leaders to implement in their offices:

Resolve Conflicts Privately

First and foremost, you want to avoid letting the quarreling parties make a scene as much as possible. When shouting matches, passive aggressive comments, and even physical reactions occur in a relatively public setting, this escalates the conflict into an office-wide ordeal that can distract many uninvolved employees from performing their jobs effectively.

As an alternative, you can either ask the upset employees to take some time to cool off by themselves (as far away from each other as possible, hopefully) or you can ask them to handle their disagreement in a more private setting. This may make you feel like a schoolteacher managing outbursts and fights among students, but even adults are all-too-susceptible to unprofessional behavior when emotions are running high, so separating them is an unfortunate necessity.

Assume a Mediator Role

As a workplace leader, it’s not your job to take one side over another when two or more employees are fighting amongst themselves. Even if it’s an argument between one of your best employees and one of the newer members of the team, you can’t afford to show even the slightest sign of favoritism if you want to resolve the conflict as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Instead, embrace your role as a mediator and actively listen to what both sides have to say (and don’t let them interrupt each other, either). If emotions are still controlling the conversation, then it’s your job to either postpone the discussion or divert their attention to a less emotionally-charged topic until they’re able to calm down enough to approach the conflict in a rational, professional manner. By remaining neutral, you’ll be more likely to resolve the conflict for both sides, rather than creating a win-lose scenario that damages employee morale and could lead the “losing” party to quit their job in the future if you always side against them.

Train Employees to Check Their Perceptions

Finally, you might be wondering how you can avoid conflicts altogether in the future. There are many possible strategies for accomplishing this, but perception-checking is one of the most effective ways to reduce arguments in the office. There are 3 main steps to perception-checking: first, description of an action/behavior from your own perspective; second, interpretation (asking about possible reasons for the action/behavior instead of making assumptions); and third, clarification (asking the other person why they did X thing).

Training your employees to check their perceptions is an incredibly useful way to avoid workplace conflicts because they’ll be better-equipped to approach unfavorable situations with caution instead of immediately assuming the worst intentions of their colleagues.

3 common management mistakes that destroy employee morale

60029252_MEmployee morale can have a huge impact on the success of a company. However, many workplace leaders assume they’re doing an excellent job as long as nobody complains. The absence of articulated concerns does not mean your team doesn’t have any issues with your management style, and as their boss, it’s your job to ensure you maintain an open channel for honest and constructive communication all the time.

If you’re wondering what negative impacts you might be having on your employees’ morale, consider these 3 common management mistakes and develop strategies for overcoming them:

Discouraging Constructive Criticism

A lot of workplace leaders struggle with accepting unfavorable – but constructive – feedback from their subordinates. After all, you’ve likely been in this industry longer and/or worked for this company much longer than they have – why should you listen to someone with less experience and workplace wisdom compared to you?

Answer: because they may have valuable insight that you’d miss out on if they don’t speak up. If you want to truly develop an innovative workplace culture, then you need to follow through when you promise your employees that they can offer input when they have ideas or suggestions. All too often, bosses verbally encourage this, while their reactions to criticism suggest they’re not so open to feedback like they say they are. Make sure your words align with your actions and be willing to accept constructive criticism from those working closely with you.

Micromanaging Every Move They Make

It’s hard to feel motivated to perform your job when you know more than half of your tasks will be intensely scrutinized and criticized by your boss later on. Micromanaging bosses tend to correlate with higher employee turnover rates because most people don’t want someone constantly checking up on them and making sure they’re doing their jobs correctly.

Micromanaging your employees can make them feel like you think they’re incompetent (even if this isn’t what you truly think), and most adults don’t want to feel like they’re children with overbearing parents watching their every move in the workplace. Many employees value at least an average level of independence to complete their assignments (within reason, of course), so do yourself and your employees a favor by learning to let go and trust them until/unless they prove themselves incapable of completing assignments on time and/or correctly.

Prioritizing Efficiency Above All Else

If your only value is efficiency, then hopefully your employees are all machines and robots because human beings aren’t built for maximum efficiency, all the time. Sometimes, life just gets in the way, whether that’s a mental illness, physical sickness, issues with family at home, death of a loved one, financial struggles, or all of the above.

To avoid damaging your employees’ morale, it’s important to remember: they’re only human! As obvious as this might sound, managers oftentimes forget that every person has their limits, and working long hours every workday can seriously take a toll on employees’ productivity and well-being. Rather than striving for efficiency above all else, take time and effort to display more compassion and understanding towards your employees. Just like you, they’re not perfect – but they’ll be much more willing to give you their best efforts if they feel like you genuinely care about how they’re doing.

5 common issues with leading a remote team and how to overcome them

32259023 - stressed businessman talking on many phones at onceIf you manage telecommuting employees, your role as a team leader is vastly different from a manager working with others in a physical workspace. The usual goals of meeting deadlines, exceeding clients’ expectations, and maintaining cohesiveness among the team are still the same but how you manage these tasks is incredibly different.

To avoid some of the most common problems experienced by leaders who manage remote teams, it’s important to be aware of these issues and prepare to confront them before they arise or at least before they pass the point of no return:

Unclear and Infrequent Communication

Are some of your employees or freelancers working in different timezones? Different countries? If so, clear communication is paramount to avoiding missed deadlines and confusion for team members just starting their workday while their colleagues are off to bed.

To prevent communication issues from cropping up, establish a clear protocol for phone, video conference, email and chat communications. Open yourself up to feedback from your employees in case something just isn’t working and consider setting up an easily modifiable meetings calendar, if you haven’t already.

Disorganized Operations

Beyond communication problems, issues related to disorganization seem particularly common among remotely managed teams because you can’t always ask someone a question right away. Sometimes, you’ll have to wait several hours for a response or deal with other concerns like poor online connectivity from a crucial member of the team.

To avoid going off the rails when it comes to productive organizational strategies, it’s important to schedule regular check-ins with your team (perhaps 1-2 times per week or monthly). This will ensure the team is never forgetting a task, rushing through assignments, or slipping up on important QA procedures.

Demanding 24/7 Connectivity

To prevent communication problems and stay as organized as possible, some managers go to the other extreme of the spectrum by demanding their teams stay connected to their phones and/or emails on a near-24/7 basis. This simply isn’t feasible or fair, even if this strategy could resolve problems related to delayed responses from team members working from different time zones.

Alternatively, you should create deadlines based on days instead of specific times and ask your teams to check their email inboxes when they start their workday and just before they finish up at the end of the day to make sure there aren’t any fires to extinguish before they go offline for the evening.

Micromanaging Everyone and Refusing to Delegate

Perhaps you don’t demand constant connectivity from your remote employees, but you still struggle with micromanaging everything they do because you’re not physically there to make sure they’re doing their jobs 100% to your standards. Micromanaging may seem like a great way to hustle employees to boost their productivity rates, but this usually backfires by driving down their satisfaction with their jobs, which leads to higher turnover rates.

Avoid micromanaging your remote team members by increasing the number of tasks you’re willing to delegate to them and waiting for results to come in before checking in on them. If the end results are inadequate, then have a discussion with that employee to figure out ways they can improve their performance instead of preemptively assuming they’ll fail to meet your standards and criticizing them every step of the way.

Employee Disengagement and Dissatisfaction

It’s hard to feel close and connected to your colleagues when you don’t see their faces or hear their voices on a regular basis. To overcome issues related to interpersonal ambivalence among your remote team, create opportunities for them to bond from afar. This might include fun end-of-week emails with inspirational quotes, recaps of notable achievements from the past week, and words of encouragement. You could also start recognizing your most outstanding employees/freelancers on a weekly/monthly basis and include a personal bio in your email so others can get to know more about their coworkers.