How To Be An Effective Team Leader

How To Be An Effective Team Leader

Leading a team is not always easy, but here are a few tips to make it a little better:

Make Time For The Team

Make time to be there for your team, to lead them properly, not from afar. Also, get to know your team, getting to know each member on a more personal level will help you lead them better as a whole.

Communicate

You can’t lead if you aren't willing to communicate. If you don't communicate, employees won’t know what you need them to do and they will have to lead themselves. Communicating with your team and allowing them to openly communicate with you is crucial to leading an effective, productive team.

Lead By Example

If employees see you sitting around on your phone not doing anything, then they won’t want to do anything either. Taking an active role will encourage employees to do the same.

Be Willing To Learn

Rewarding employees for doing well is great, but encouraging employees to learn from failures is even better. You need to be willing to learn from missteps so that you and your employees can grow and improve.

Be Decisive

Knowing how to make a decision is one of the hardest, most important things you can do as a leader. Making decisions and following through with them is crucial to the team running smoothly. It is also incredibly important to delegate tasks, so that you have more time to focus on other tasks and all employees get the opportunity to help.

Tags: 

The Importance of Conferences

The Importance of Conferences

Conferences. For some, that word brings out a sigh as they picture boring speakers that go on for days. A new age of conferences has arisen and become a very important tool in networking, learning about the field, and keeping up to date on the latest developments. Essentially, conferences are about throwing some of the most important people in a particular industry or career field and forcing them to teach and interact with each other. These meetings are designed for those already working at the companies, but those are not the people who are going to get the most benefit from the speakers, panels, and dinners that comprise a conference.

The people that have the most to gain from attending conferences are undergraduate students, recent graduates, and those looking to switch career fields. They are the ones who can benefit from listening to speakers who talk about current research in the field, meeting managers and heads of divisions of the big companies in the field, and talking to people already employed to see what it is truly like to work in that career. These are the people that conferences need to be marketing to because they have the most to gain. How else is an undergraduate going to know if they are better off working in engineering or computer systems? Conferences allow an unparalleled chance for learning and reaching out to others that students may never meet otherwise. They can network and find jobs while also showing companies the kind of talent that is soon to be entering the workforce.

Conferences can be utilized by both employers and future employees to start a process of learning about new advances, making friends, and connecting as a community that serves the same career field.

Take Your Child to Work Day: The Importance of Children Being Exposed to Their Parents’ Careers

Take Your Child to Work Day: The Importance of Children Being Exposed to Their Parents’ Careers

Do you remember the days where companies would host “Daddy-daughter work day” or “bring your child to work day”? These are events of a past time when businesses incorporated family values into their goals and allowed time to be spent not only on the company growth, but on the personal growth of each employee. Unfortunately, this idea is a distant memory from a bygone era, and I am starting to wonder why. Why do we no longer want to expose our children to the workforce from a young age? Why would we want them to be less educated about their parents’ work or left unexposed to a normal office environment?

Children need to know what different career fields look like, what kind of work their parents are expected to do, and how interactions occur in an office environment. They are eventually going to grow up and enter that workforce, so why should they not be educated about it as they learn the lessons that will allow them to have careers? Bring your daughter to see what an IT technician does, show your son how to manage a group of marketing executives, or take your kid and teach them about running a store and working with employees. The younger we show kids about adult life, the better prepared and excited they will be about the choices they get to make when they become adults. How can we expect them to know what they want out of a company if they have never seen someone work at one? We push teenagers to take jobs and find they have no clue how to interact in the environment because they have never seen the other side of the cash register.

Parents are supposed to guide their children and teach them how to grow up into fully functioning members of society, and part of that society is their careers. Companies need to reinstate the “bring your child to work day” not only for the benefit of their employees and their families, but to their own advantage as these children will grow up to become a more competent workforce.

Short-term vs long-term goals: when to use each

short-term vs long-term goals

In the current whipsaw environment of stock market measurements, evaluations, and executive compensation programs, it can be easy to forget that no product will last forever. No market share will remain unchallenged. Everyone will refine the process as time goes on. These are simple facts. We often lose ourselves in the effort to perfect the current situation which leads to the detriment of preparing for the next situation.

Executives need to remember their job is to think for the future, not about the present; even the board of directors needs to be reminded to extend their focus on to a longer time frame. There are plenty of managers to hold kaizen events; executives need to be thinking about the next product, market, and focus should be. There is one question you need to ask which will help determine whether you are focusing on a short or long-term goal: Can you measure its effect quickly?

This applies to any project. If you can see a change in pieces per hour coming off an assembly line, it is a short-term goal. If you will not know for another year or two if the market will accept it, then it is a long-term goal. The time frame to measure success is what defines whether it is a short-term goal, as a real long-term goal cannot be determined as right or wrong for a longer period of time which involves greater risk. This is why executives need to be focused on the long-term and big-picture roles because they have the scope and power to take risks with a business. Leave short-term goals for lower levels of management as they have the focus and ability to accomplish those easily and efficiently.

Everything goes back to that one question: can you measure its effect quickly? So, now use your discretion and answer this question to the best of your ability in order to maximize productivity on every level of your company.

Tags: 

Transitioning from Summer to Fall

Transitioning from Summer to Fall

Every worker knows that things change during the Summer when kids are out of school. The roads are less busy during commute, the heat keeps people indoors in their cubicles, and at any given time someone is on vacation. Once August hits, and the children start back for the new school year things start to speed up again. Budgeting season hits, planning begins for next year’s projects, and there is the final push to finish up this year’s projects. Do not get left behind in the excitement of the Fall season!

The first thing to do is take a deep breath; recognize that this is happening and just give yourself a moment to shift your mindset. Also, be aware that many of your employees and customers who have children may be overloaded for a few weeks until they settle into a routine. The best way to help your employees get back on track with the business pace is to set a few goals and deadlines to create clear objectives that they can meet and readjust to timewise. Create these goals as a way to prepare your employees to dive into the third quarter and finish out the fiscal year strong. This is especially important because as customers work on their own budgets and plans for next year, you may see in influx in requests for your information and proposals. These are going to set up next year’s work and many businesses have a cycle of what is planned in the Fall is done in the New Year. Do not lose out on these opportunities because your company is stuck in the Summer slump.

            Another great way to kick off the new season is to host a back-to-school team building event to get everyone excited for finishing their current projects and starting new ones. Note, this is not the time to have a go away retreat; try bringing in bagels or donuts one morning and have everyone gather for a stand-up meeting. These “coffee and catch-up” sessions go a long way in building internal relationships and increasing employee motivation.

            Do not get caught up in the slow Summer pace and give your company a boost by using a few simple tricks to get your employees ready to transition into Fall.

 

Are you being too smart for your own good?

are you being too smart for your own good

Gaming the system has always been a temptation for businesses, but customers have learned to adapt to whatever you are doing far more quickly than you would think. Here is a classic example: the infamous sale. A sale has become so ubiquitous that people will not buy a product until it is on sale. In a sense, businesses have taught customers to distrust pricing. Is that a good thing?

No! This is not a good thing! There are many other situations where the fine print is used to disappoint people. This may save the numbers for your company for the current reporting period, but once again you have taught someone to distrust you and have lost their future business. There is a similar idea of accounting games to make a month or even a quarter look good, but almost all of the tricks will be caught quickly and then the real problems begin. Now you are under increased scrutiny, which even if there is nothing to hide, takes extra time and effort.

A good way to think about all of your future moves is the almost cliché “win-win situation”. Are you creating a scenario that is good for your bottom line but does not mislead your customer base? If you do not play smart and anyone loses, the business will eventually be the one to lose in the long-run. Do not allow cleverness or the allure of short cuts to lead you to break the trust created in a buyer-seller relationship because the buyer will hold on to that grudge longer than the business has to fix it.

The Science of Negotiation

The Science of Negotitaion

Do you remember learning the “Scientific Method” back in High School? The process is easy: make an observation, take a guess, test that guess, analyze what happened, and then repeat until the analysis shows the guess was correct. The more background data you have, the better the guesses, but you can learn this as you repeat. The process of negotiation is very similar; you start with the knowledge of what you want but can only guess at exactly what the other party(s) in the deal may want. Therefore, there is a, potentially long, series of probes and questions to determine the background data and come to an agreement on the things you will get and what they will get.

A negotiation is testing and reevaluating the value of a relationship. As an example, let’s look at negotiating a salary for a job. First, is the knowledge that you need a job and have done the investigation to determine that the position is one that would benefit you. On the other side of the negotiation table is a person who knows they need someone to do the job and they have done the investigation to determine that you could fill that need. Now comes the part where the two of you have to agree on the value of the relationship: you want the job to pay as much as you can possibly get, and they want to fill the job at the lowest cost. There may be background of the bare minimum you can survive with, the market for similar jobs, and the estimated value you can bring to the position. You may have other reasons to bargain into the value as well: title, office arrangements, vacation, benefits, etc. These may be items which both sides can use to change the perceived value of the position. These are all background data which enables a better guess as to the terms of the relationship, and will aid you in any negotiation.

Tags: 

Marketing Yourself

Marketing Yourself

 

The time when both employee and employer looked at their relationship as being a long-term commitment is past. Employers are constantly looking for new employees, new ideas, and new ways to make money. They carefully market themselves to potential talent to draw the interest of those who may be of value to the company. Branding, selective advertising, and careful management of social media messages are all part of corporate marketing. So as a potential employee, you need to be doing the same. Even if you already have a job, especially is you already have a job, you need to be preparing for your future opportunities. Here are some tips:

1. Use social media to create your brand. LinkedIn especially seems to be a place to carefully describe what makes you of value to an employer. Link to coworkers and interest groups of career-related topics. Do not use this for cat videos, political rants, or inspirational posts. In fact, do not use ANY social media for cat videos, political rants, or inspiration posts. Potential employers can and will find them. Cleanse your Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/Snapchat/Tumblr/Etc. postings of pictures from the pub crawl and delete the argument you had on Twitter about whatever was in the news. Unfriend those who blanket your feed with garbage; you need to be professional everywhere!

2. Join and attend some professional groups near you. Meetup.com is one place to find them. Establish relationships, do some educational work (give or take), take on a leadership position if you want. What counts is that others see you as a great worker with a passion for whatever field you are in.

3. A personal/blog is another way to establish yourself as a passionate participant in your field. A word of warning, you have to keep it updated because nothing is more irritating than a stale message of your supposed competence.

4. Carry a business card with you at all times. The card can be simple: name, phone number, email, your title, and any necessary degrees or certifications you may have. Any time you leave your house, you have a chance of making a connection and you do not want to be empty-handed.

Do not wait until you need a new job to prepare for the new job. It may not even require you to change employers, but you always need to be up to date and ready to market yourself to anyone you may meet.

Happy to be at Work

Happy to be at Work

We all want to be happy at work, but what does this really mean? The official definition of happiness is the quality or state of being delighted, pleased, or glad as over a particular thing. According to many researchers, happiness is a synonym for contentment. At work, to be content sometimes means your career is not moving forward at all. Still, many people get to a place in life where that is okay; they will get their self-worth from some other avenue.

Savvy management can encourage some of those other avenues to keep employees’ content in an otherwise boring, mind-numbing role with little advancement opportunity. For other people, the opportunity to grow, to gain influence and respect are needed to allow them at least the perception of being significant. Humans want to be significant; we want to have a reason for our existence. It has been said that a person with a ‘why’ to live, can put up with almost any ‘how’ they live, and this seems to bear out. Humans will subject themselves to extreme discomfort to the point of death if they have a cause to die for, yet they will whine about the trivial things in a life of luxury if being comfortable is all they have as a goal in life.

Knowing of both these two paths to happiness: contentment and significance, allows management to structure the workplace culture based on the requirements of the role. If a routine job is important, develop those alternative mechanisms for personal value to be obtained by the workers. If the job demands innovation and drive, sharing the visions and glory of the goal will be needed to inspire the team to their maximum effectiveness. Do not confuse or mix the two paths as worker confusion and even bitterness may result.

Are You Ambitious Enough?

Are You Ambitious Enough?

In the second century, the philosopher and Roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius, engaged in a discourse with the future tyrant, Commodus, as to what constituted virtues and vices for a ruler. The one topic they could not agree in which category fell ‘ambition’. It seems to be both. A great ruler needed to have the drive to achieve his vision in order to overcome the inevitable setbacks and challenges of any great goal. On the other side, a drive to try too much leads to frustration and often collapse of the empire in the process.

While our own career challenges are not quite to the extreme of leading an actual empire, the question of how much ambition is appropriate is the same. If we do not have the internal drive, then our dreams remain exactly that, dreams. If we push beyond our actual talents and skills, we will frustrate ourselves. Therefore, many people stop short of being all they can be, settling for something they can do well. The potential for personal significance is usually stopped by contentment. Entrepreneurs know well that failure is just an opportunity to try something different, but did you notice that they have failed? We all hate failure; it is embarrassing, and sometimes involves hardship for yourself and your family/employees. Not fun at all.

If we are not bumping into a failure periodically, we are obviously not trying. That may be the secret answer to the question of “are you ambitious enough”. Have you failed recently? If not, you need to try something. Are you frustrated with multiple failures? Then maybe you need to just try something different!

Pages