How To Get Your Team To Stop Asking You Every Little Question

You’re finally in the flow, typing away and making progress on that strategy document. And then a team member IMs you a question. And then another one pops up. Before you know it, your afternoon is gone and you’ve made no progress. Sound familiar?

In order to make time for reflective thinking, managers need to facilitate their team members’ independence. This is especially important if your team is not physically together, because “quick questions” sent through team chat channels can otherwise be endless.

Start by analyzing the problem. What are the reasons your team members feel they need your input? Is it because they don’t have the confidence to make decisions on their own? Because they fear reprisals if they make the “wrong” decision? Because they are unqualified or inexperienced? Categorizing the types of issues can be helpful to recognizing patterns and taking corrective action.

Once you understand what they’re coming to you about, then you need to determine why, and what role you play in that. Does your behavior enable, or even encourage, your staff to bring you every little “speed bump” in their day? Does it lead them to believe that you are the only one who is authorized to solve problems or make decisions? Does the way you interact with them cause them to lack confidence in their own judgment or make the limits of their authority unclear to them? Do they have good reason to fear making a mistake?

Below are ideas you can implement in four specific categories that will empower your employees while promoting your own productivity.

1. Put an emphasis on attention management.

Start by identifying whether an “open-door policy” is something that is stated or promoted in your organization. If so, make it explicit with a clear definition. Of course it’s important for leaders to be available to their teams. But “being available” shouldn’t come at the cost of everyone’s work being interrupted unpredictably, all throughout the day. An open-door policy was never intended to mean that anyone is available to be interrupted at any time for any reason.

A better implementation is to be clear that everyone in your organization should be considered accessible, but not necessarily constantly available. Individual team members need to provide signals about when they are available to be interrupted, and when they aren’t. And the culture needs to support this undistracted work time.

In a virtual situation, encourage the team to practice attention management by periodically closing their email client, putting their phone on silent and out of sight, and setting their chat tools to “do not disturb.” You should model this behavior, because if you never do it, your team won’t either, no matter what you say.

In the office, indicate your do-not-disturb times with some sort of signal, and empower your team to do the same: You could use a do-not-disturb sign, a cubicle flag, or headphones, for example. Everyone should know what the signals are and what they mean. Then be judicious about putting them up to create undistracted work time, and taking them down when you’re willing to allow interruptions.

These scenarios might seem impossible at your organization. In that case, you need to look at the way communication flows. Put a focus on creating a culture that supports asynchronous communication, where the conversation isn’t always “live” but people can chime in when it’s best for their work flow. My favorite team collaboration tool, Twist, offers a great guide for how to do that.

2. Promote self-confidence in your staff.

Set boundaries for your employees, making sure they understand the responsibilities of their role, the types of decisions they can and should make on their own, and the general limits of their authority. Then, encourage them to find their own solutions to day-to-day problems. Instead of answering questions, try using the phrase, “I trust your judgment.” The more successful your direct reports are in solving their problems on their own, the more their confidence will grow. This is a great way to develop your team members while also increasing your own opportunities for undistracted work time.

One thing that can interfere with your team’s autonomy is if you’re the kind of manager who likes having a lot of control, and being involved in every decision. This kind of micromanaging is a burden on you and stifles your team’s growth. You can’t do everyone’s job for them, nor should you. Empower your team members to make their own decisions. If you are unsure whether you are micromanaging, ask a trusted peer or former employee to give you honest feedback.

3. Embrace the tough decisions.

If there are employees whose judgment you don’t trust, try to understand why, so you can find remedies. Do the employees have a gap in their skill sets? Would additional training help? Is the person new to the organization? Perhaps more time is needed to “learn the ropes.” Maybe finding a mentor or “buddy” on the team would be helpful. But set a time limit on this.

Occasionally, you may find you’ve made a hiring mistake. The hardest questions to face are whether you have the right person in the wrong role, or whether the person isn’t a good fit for the organization. Don’t drag your feet here. Make it a win for you and the employee by helping the person find another role at your organization, or a new job somewhere else. This will enable you to cut your losses, as well as help develop your company’s reputation as a good place to work.

4. Create a safe environment to make mistakes.

If there are serious, unpleasant consequences to honest mistakes, your organization has a “CYA culture,” where people aren’t coming to you because they want your input, they’re just looking for a way to shift any future blame. This will stifle growth and prevent your organization from being adaptable. Remember the old adage, “Praise in public, correct in private.” Speak to team members privately when one of their solutions does not provide the best outcome. Emphasize the idea that mistakes are opportunities to learn.

Hold team members accountable to their decisions by using mistakes as teaching opportunities. Call attention to the lesson learned, and make sure it sticks, but if the decision was ethical and made in good faith, be supportive and empathetic.

By implementing these four strategies, you’ll be able to minimize interruptions from your direct reports, and you’ll create more opportunities to focus on the thoughtful work your leadership position demands. In the process, you’ll inspire confidence, innovation, and creativity in your team members. When you empower your team to work more independently, you improve as a leader and ultimately, you contribute more to the success of the organization.

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Critics:
Team management is the ability of an individual or an organization to administer and coordinate a group of individuals to perform a task. Team management involves teamwork, communication, objective setting and performance appraisals. Moreover, team management is the capability to identify problems and resolve conflicts within a team. There are various methods and leadership styles a team manager can take to increase personnel productivity and build an effective team. In the workplace teams can come in many shapes and sizes who all work together and depend on one another.
They communicate and all strive to accomplish a specific goal. Management teams are a type of team that performs duties such as managing and advising other employees and teams that work with them. Whereas work, parallel, and project teams hold the responsibility of direct accomplishment of a goal, management teams are responsible for providing general direction and assistance to those teams.

Team building activities

Team-building activities are a series of simple exercises involving teamwork and communication. The main objectives of team building activities are to increase trust amongst team members and allow team members to better understand one another. When choosing or designing team-building activities it is best to determine if your team needs an event or an experience. Generally an event is fun, quick and easily done by non-professionals. Team building experiences provide richer, more meaningful results. Experiences should be facilitated by a professional on an annual basis for teams that are growing, or changing.

What makes teams effective

Team effectiveness occurs when the team has appropriate goals to complete and the confidence to accomplish those goals. Communication is also a large part of effectiveness in a team because in order to accomplish tasks, the members must negotiate ideas and information. Another aspect of effectiveness is reliability and trust. When overcoming the “storming” phase of Bruce Tuckman’s stages of group development, trust is established, and it leads to higher levels of team cohesion and effectiveness.

If there is a conflict, effectiveness allows cohesion and the ability to overcome conflict. Specifically in management teams, more weight falls on their shoulders because they have to direct and lead other teams. Being effective is a main priority for the team or teams involved. Unlike non-managerial teams, in which the focus is on a set of team tasks, management teams are effective only insofar as they are accomplishing a high level of performance by a significant business unit or an entire firm.Having support from higher-up position leaders can give teams insight on how to act and make decisions, which improves their effectiveness as well.

See also

 

How To Successfully Navigate The Technical & Management Challenges Of A Remote Workforce

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, working remotely has become the new normal for many professionals. The workplace has shifted from open floor plans to kitchen tables; video calls have replaced meetings in conference rooms, and dressing in sweats has become our business casual uniform of choice.

TechRepublic Premium recently surveyed 847 professionals and asked them questions pertaining to working remotely to see where businesses got it right–and wrong.

The survey asked the following questions:

  • How many days do you currently work remotely (at home or at a non-company- owned location) during a normal five-day workweek?
  • How would you describe your company’s execution of its current remote work approach?
  • What safety protocols has your company implemented for the office?
  • What has your company done well as part of its remote work approach?
  • What has your company done poorly as part of its remote work approach?
  • What types of platforms have you depended on the most for remote work?
  • How have you changed your connectivity to make working from home possible?

As a result of COVID-19, a majority (61%) of businesses have gone out of their way to make remote work possible for most employees. According to respondents, 78% indicated that they are working from home five days a week. Five percent work remotely for either four or three days a week, 4% work remotely two days a week, and 2% of respondents work remotely one day a week. Only 6% said they do not work remotely; of those respondents, 61% would work remotely, if given the opportunity.

The majority (96%) of respondents said their company either very successfully or successfully executed its remote work approach. Some of the top ways employers are making it easier for employees to work remotely is by providing conferencing tools (81%), computer hardware (74%), and connectivity tools such as VPN or cellular devices (73%).

This is a good thing since 80% of respondents reported depending on video conferencing platforms (such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams) for remote work. Cloud-based office suites for collaboration (such as Google Workspace or Office 365) are necessary for 63% of respondents to work remotely, and for 57%, VPN is essential.

Cloud storage followed as a necessity for 46% of respondents, and then respondents listed team tools (such as Slack) at 33%. Fewer respondents require project management tools (13%), private cloud solutions (7%), and team management tools (5%).

Where employers fall short, according to respondents, is supplying hardware (56%) and providing equipment to help employees create an effective remote workspace (52%). In addition, 37% of respondents reported that their company is doing a poor job with their remote work approach with video conferencing tools, virtual collaboration tools, manager training, and HR resources.

Interestingly, 75% of respondents reported not needing to change their connectivity to make working from home possible. However, 7% of respondents have added a mesh network or purchased a Wi-FI hotspot to use as a backup, and 5% either switched providers or replaced consumer-grade network hardware with something more secure.

Source: Research: How to successfully navigate the technical and management challenges of a remote workforce – TechRepublic

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14 Best Online Team Management Tools For Productive Teams

Boosting team morale and productivity could be considered as the number 1 goal for every project manager. The term team management isn’t just about allocating tasks to be checked off by your team before the end of the day. Key factors that contribute to the concept of effective team management are teamwork, collaboration, and recognition.

Without them, a company’s overall performance is at risk. This is where team management tools come into play. Unfortunately, no matter how hard a project manager tries or how many expensive tools she/he invests in, something or someone is often left behind. And here in-lies our problem…and where there is a business-related problem, there is a Process Street solution.

You see, not all team management tools are meant for you. Without the right approach and the right tool, your chances of keeping each team member productive and satisfied, are next to impossible.

You need to find a tool that works best for you and your team and you need to find it soon. In this article, we will explain the importance of effective team management. We will then present you with our 14 top team management tools so that you can find the right one for you.

Click on the relevant subheader below to jump to that section. Alternatively, scroll down to find the information you need to evaluate the best team management tool for you.

We’ll start with the basics of team management. What it is and why it is important? Team management is the coordination of a group of individuals to perform a specific task. Team management is a subset of the broader discipline: project management.

Project management versus team management

Project management explains how the resources of a project are organized and implemented for successful project completion. With successful project management comes the delivery of expectations: what can be delivered, when this can be delivered, and the cost of delivery. Resources are maximized, the project cost is controlled, change is managed, and teamwork and collaboration are enforced.

Drawing on the latter point – teamwork and collaboration are enforced – it is clear that team management is a management skill vital for project success.

Team Management: An essential management skill

Management skills are certain attributes or abilities a manager should possess to be effectual in their duties and to deliver the needed project results. A team that goes through the motions, will not care for the success of your project or even your company. Effective team management is essential in maintaining a positive company culture, an environment that promotes project completion and to retain employee engagement.

What is a team management tool?

A team management tool is an application that assists the user in managing their team and project. There are hundreds of handy team management tools in the market boasting their effectiveness by:

  1. Boosting collaboration
  2. Promoting recognition
  3. Ensuring employee satisfaction

With this in mind, it can be difficult to select the right tool for you. However, with our list of 14 top team management tools, choosing just got a lot easier.Team management tools: Our top 14 picks.In this article, we present our top 14 team management software picks. We summarize the pros and cons of each tool so that choosing the right tool is easier for you.

Best team management tool for process management: Process Street

Process Street is a robust and straightforward business process management solution. It’s designed to help you manage repeating business procedures, minimize mistakes, save money, and collaborate easily within your team. With Process Street, you can create recurring checklists, collaborate around them, track their progress, and complete projects as planned.

What the users like:
With Process Street, project and team management become a breeze. Simply:

  • Document every step of your project.
  • Transfer your documented project into a Process Street template.
  • Add features such as task due dates, stop tasks and role assignments to adapt and refine the management of your project and team.
  • Activate the template once the project commences. Once activated the template is termed as a checklist. You can have more than one checklist running from the same template at a time.
  • Track the progress of your team members in terms of their assigned tasks.
  • Receive regular email updates for each project, keeping you in the loop.
  • Collaborate with project members in one space.

At Process Street, we have a wealth of free template resources stored in our template library.

You can access our template library here

To help you get started with your projects, check out Process Street’s Project Management Process Template.

This template is free and ready for you to use right away. In this template, you will find features such as:

  • Stop tasks to ensure task order.
  • Dynamic due dates, so no deadline is missed.
  • Conditional logic, creating a dynamic template that caters to your needs.
  • Role assignments, to ease task delegation within your team.
  • Approvals, to sign tasks off within your team. Tasks can be assessed by the relevant team member/s. The assigned approver can easily open the checklist. Information from the tasks is then used to either approve or reject, or reject with a comment.

It is with these features that Process Street checklists are deemed to be superpowered, and can superpower the management of your team.

What the users dislike:
Process Street is a great tool, but there’s no mobile app yet.

Pricing:

  • Process Street Business – $12 .50 per user per month
  • Process Street Business Pro – $25 per user per month
  • Process Street Enterprise – Available by quote

Sign up to Process Street here. All plans start with a 14-day FREE trial..

Best team management tool for scalable remote collaboration: Proofhub

ProofHub is an online project management and team management software that helps businesses organize projects, people and get work done. The software delivers basic and advanced features for refined project or team management under one roof. This includes:

  • Task management software
  • One-on-one group chats
  • Discussion topics
  • Gantt chart tool
  • Kanban boards
  • File management systems
  • Online proofing tool
  • Time tracking tool

Read more…

 

By: Jane Courtnell

 

Source: 14 Best Online Team Management Tools for Productive Teams | Process Street | Checklist, Workflow and SOP Software

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HOT JOBS & COOL JOBS: SR. SOFTWARE ENGINEERING MANAGER NEW YORK NY USA
If you want to grow your business you will need to start bringing on staff to help you get there. But how do you manage them? In this video, I will go over 6 apps that I have found to manage teams and projects. Here is the list: Trello https://trello.com GitScrum https://site.gitscrum.com/ Plutio https://plutio.com Clubhouse https://clubhouse.io Notion https://www.wpcrafter.com/notion ClickUp https://clickup.com

How To Make Your Stand Up Meetings More Effective

Popularized for its utility in software development, the stand-up meeting is an effective tool for keeping teams on track and removing blockers.

And though they’re popular among engineering teams practicing the Agile methodology, stand-ups can benefit any project team.

But as useful as they can be, without the right approach, stand-up meetings quickly devolve into time-wasters.

So in this post, I’m going to start with some much-needed context for this often-misunderstood meeting. Then, I’ll detail the rules, tools, and leadership approach you need to plan, prepare for, and run consistently effective stand-ups.

What is a Stand-up Meeting?

The purpose of a stand-up meeting is for team members to share progress, remove roadblocks, and stay aligned. 

Meeting attendees traditionally stay standing for the duration of the meeting—hence the name. Standing up serves as a reminder to keep the meeting short; the ideal time range is between 5 and twenty minutes. 

A key distinction between a status update and a stand-up meeting is that the latter is designed for team discussion, not an update for managers or stakeholders.

Of course, stand-up meetings may differ slightly. But, in a scrum-style stand-up meeting, team members answer three questions:

  1. What did you do yesterday that helped the team meet its goal?
  2. What will you do today to help the team meet its goal?
  3. Do you see any blockers that will prevent you or the team from meeting its goal?

As Kimberly Gajda, Software Engineer for IBM, explains, “[In a stand-up meeting] Answers are given in the past or future tense. For example, “I completed this” or “I will complete this.” 

Stand-Up Meetings and the Agile Methodology

As mentioned, the stand-up is a popular meeting for development teams practicing the Agile methodology.

But, whether or not that describes your team, understanding this methodology—and how the stand-up fits into it—will help make your meetings more effective. 

Put simply, the Agile methodology is an iterative approach to delivering a project throughout its lifecycle.

Agile stresses the establishment of a broad vision and continuous learning and adaptation. This is distinct from traditional project management which begins with and adheres to a precise project plan. 

For example, in traditional project management, the team tries to anticipate and plan for all obstacles upfront. But with Agile, project managers expect and react to unforeseen obstacles as they come.

Stand-up meetings originated in Scrum, which is one of many frameworks related to Agile. But they’re often used by teams using other Agile frameworks, such as Kanban.

The reason stand-up meetings are so critical to the Agile methodology is that they create an opportunity for continuous communication. In the same way, stand-ups can be key to improving communication at your organization.

Planning Your Stand-Up Meetings 

Think of stand-up meetings as a solution to the problems that occur when any group of people attempts to work together as a team. 

Therefore, at a high-level, stand-ups are useful anytime you need to do one or more of the following:

  1. Share understanding of goals
  2. Coordinate efforts between team members 
  3. Share problems and improvements
  4. Develop and strengthen the team dynamic

If you plan to implement stand-up meetings, make sure you’re doing so to accomplish one or more of these four goals.

When and How Often to Hold Stand-Up Meetings

It’s important to adapt your stand-up meeting plan to your team’s needs, particularly when it comes to cadence. 

In the context of Agile software development, stand-ups are held daily because work is typically done in relatively short sprints. So it may not make sense to copy this cadence for your team.

In fact, one of the most common complaints about meetings, in general, is that they’re held too often. So if it takes some time to find the stand-up meeting cadence that works for your team, that’s okay. 

Just make sure you’re not holding a stand-up for the sake of doing it. If you don’t need to reestablish a shared understanding of goals, coordinate efforts, share problems, or strengthen working relationships, you don’t need a stand-up meeting. 

As a rule of thumb, start with a less frequent cadence and increase it as needed.

What you Need for a Stand-up Meeting

Once you’ve established your initial cadence and the purpose of your stand-ups, you’re almost ready to run your first meeting.

What’s left is to ensure a shared understanding of and strict adherence to the meeting’s rules. 

It’ll also help to have some sort of work-item tracking system. A kanban board is a popular option among Agile engineers but a simple whiteboard with sticky notes can work too.

By visually displaying all work items, a work-item tracking system helps you avoid wasting time while familiarizing everyone with the work items in process.

In the next few sections, we’ll review the protocol of a great stand-up, define the roles of this meeting’s participants, and provide an agenda template.

The Stand-Up Meeting Rules

An effective stand-up typically lasts no longer than 20 minutes. But keeping a meeting to 20 minutes or less requires a laser-like focus. That’s why the rules of your stand-up are so important.

Kimberly Gajda, Software Engineer for IBM, lists the following rules for stand-ups:

  1. Each team member’s answers must align with the tasks assigned to them.
  2. Stand-up meetings must be concise; no longer than 15 – 20 minutes.
  3. Answers must be given in the past or future tense.

    Gajda says, “Using the present progressive tense, such as “I am working with XYZ,” is considered poor form.” This information should be contained in the work-item tracking system.
  4. Answers must cover the time that has passed since the last stand-up.

    Gajda explains that if the task is too big to be contained in the time period since the last stand-up, report “what part of [the task] will be or was completed.” 
  5. Discussion about blockers and questions about what is being done must happen outside of the meeting.

Rule #5 is paramount because the point of a stand-up is to surface issues that need to be discussed while allowing those not involved to return to their work. 

If an issue is complicated, the parties involved should schedule additional time after the meeting.

The Stand-Up Meeting Invitee List

Stand-ups are designed to inform and facilitate collaboration between people from various departments. But this can lead to a long invitee list. 

And, as Jason Yip, Senior Agile Coach at Spotify, explains, people that aren’t directly involved in work items discussed can disrupt the stand-up. 

An easy way to cull your invite list is to focus on who’s needed to speak for the work items. In other words, if the potential invitee isn’t responsible for progressing a work item, they don’t need to be in the stand-up. 

Of course, sometimes it isn’t possible to keep your invitee list that concise. And it may be perfectly necessary for someone to attend just so they’re informed. In that case, ensure that spectators understand the rules of the stand-up to mitigate disruption. 

As Yip says, not everyone needs to talk, particularly if what they’re saying isn’t relevant to progress the work.

Finally, you’ll also want to keep remote meeting attendees in mind. As part of the team and the meeting, they should have a high-quality audio and visual set up. Ideally, they’ll also be able to manipulate the work-item system in real-time.

The Stand-Up Meeting Agenda

The agenda for a stand-up meeting is as simple as they get… as it should be for this short, high-powered meeting.

See a simple text version of our stand-up meeting agenda template with stand-up meeting questions listed out for each participant. Simply copy and paste as many sets of bullets as you need for your meeting participants.

You can also use this agenda in Hugo or download it for Google Docs or Microsoft Word.

Leadership’s Role in Stand-up Meetings

The stand-up is a team-focused meeting. To that end, leadership’s role is not to take over but to enable effective communication.

That could mean stepping in to enforce the meeting’s rules.

Or it could mean exemplifying the meeting’s rules with their behavior. For example, it can be empowering for team members to see their leader stand back when they have nothing to say that’s relevant to any work items.

Ultimately, when things go right in stand-up meetings, leadership’s role should be minimal.

Building Stand-Ups into Your Meeting Culture

Too often, teams abandon stand-ups because they’re implemented haphazardly. So if you want to run effective stand-up meetings, nothing’s more important than taking a thoughtful approach.

More often than not, an ineffective stand-up is a product of a lack of participation, preparation, or an unclear purpose. And it’s up to leadership to identify the correct time, place, and purpose for a daily, weekly, or bi-weekly stand-up meeting.

Just don’t expect to get it right on your first try. Keep improving, keep learning, and stay on your feet.

By: Rob Lennon / Customer Education Lead at Hugo

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Online PM Courses – Mike Clayton

The Daily Stand-up Meeting is a part of many Agile Project Management approaches. But in my experience, the idea pre-dates Agile. I bet the pyramid builder gathered around the wineskin at the start of every day! But, the two specific ways of conducting a morning stand up, which I talk about in this video, are from approached used by many modern Agile practitioners. Keep them short. For a small team, 15 minutes is plenty for a daily stand up. Stand (of course). It helps with: – Energy – Pace Two Styles of Morning Stand-up… Round-robin (3 Questions) method – Yesterday – Today – Blockers / Impediments – Maybe with a token to show who’s on Walking the board method Where there’s a Kanban Board or similar – Move from Right to Left – Who owns it – Blockers – Support to shift them Detailed issues and side conversations parked and addressed afterward Flag if off-topic discussions – take them offline Adapt your process to refine it constantly Recommended Videos. Carefully curated video recommendations for you: – How to Run a Great Project Team Meeting … https://youtu.be/dZeSiir1kWo – The Rule of Silence: The Free Source of Power in a Meeting … https://youtu.be/kXmAC_Iu8dw – Meeting Actions: How to get People to do Them … https://youtu.be/Bv67Tf9nh2I – Lessons Learned Meeting: How to Make it Excellent … https://youtu.be/cemERTeeQ7M – The Five Stages of a Meeting … https://youtu.be/3l8Of-SPcjI – What is Kanban? … https://youtu.be/W8dKoRjFvTY – What is Agile Project Management? … https://youtu.be/D5FoRXGa8ic For more great Project Management videos, please subscribe to this channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMZf… For all our great Project Management articles and resources, please check out the OnlinePMCourses website: https://onlinepmcourses.com/ For basic Management Courses – free training hosted on YouTube, with 2 new management lessons a week, check out our sister channel, Management Courses: http://youtube.com/c/managementcourses For more of our Project Management videos in themed collections, join our Free Academy of Project Management: https://onlinepmcourses.com/free-acad…#Project#ProjectManagement#DailyStand-up

What Microsoft Japan’s Successful 4-Day Week Suggests About Work-Life Balance

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Topline: Microsoft’s Japan office experimented with a four day workweek in August, resulting in a 40% productivity boost, with over 90% of employees reporting they preferred the shorter week⁠—which aligns with previous studies that show greater work-life balance makes for more productive employees.

  • In addition to a burst of productivity, Microsoft Japan reported it used about 23% less electricity and printed around 59% fewer pages during the experiment.
  • Microsoft Japan will conduct a second experiment over the winter and will encourage more flexible working, but it won’t include the shorter work week.
  • But previous studies show that giving employees more flexibility increases productivity; a New Zealand company permanently adopted the four day workweek in 2018, after a trial resulted in a 24% productivity increase.
  • The Harvard Business Review reported that a Chinese travel agency experienced a 13% productivity boost when it allowed call center employees to work from home.
  • In the U.S., a 2017 Stanford University study found the average worker is willing to give up 20% of their pay to avoid their schedule being set with short notice, and 8% of their pay in exchange for the option to work from home.
  • A work-from-anywhere program for patent examiners at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office showed productivity gains of 4.4%, according to a 2019 working paper by the Harvard Business School.

Big number: 80 hours.That was the length of a required workweek for 25% of Japanese companies in 2016, according to CNBC.

Key background: Japan’s culture of overwork first made headlines in 2015, when a Dentsu employee died by suicide on Christmas Day after working excessive overtime, and again in 2017, when a Japanese reporter died after clocking 159 hours of overtime the month before her death. Since then, prime minister Shinzo Abe has introduced “workstyle reform” to Japan, including an annual cap of 720 overtime hours per person. Although workstyle reform’s intent is to get big companies to improve their productivity internally, the Japanese government acknowledged the burden of overwork might be passed onto small and medium businesses as a result.

Today In: Business

Surprising fact: As a result of their brutal working culture, the Japanese coined the term “karoshi,” meaning “death by overwork.”

Tangent: Despite studies that show benefits to the four day workweek, it’s not universally favored by executives. Some owners have employees work on Friday when there’s a holiday the following Monday. Others have reduced vacation time to make up for the extra weekly day off. And one Portland, Oregon tech firm experimented with a four day workweek before returning to a five day schedule, because the owner realized a shorter week meant its competitors had a leg up.

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I’m a New York-based journalist covering breaking news at Forbes. I hold a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Previous bylines: Gotham Gazette, Bklyner, Thrillist, Task & Purpose, and xoJane.

Source: What Microsoft Japan’s Successful 4-Day Week Suggests About Work-Life Balance

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After spending August experimenting with a four-day work week in a country notorious for overwork, Microsoft Japan said sales per employee rose 40% compared with the same month last year. The “Work-Life Choice Challenge Summer 2019” saw full-time employees take off five consecutive Fridays in August with pay, as well as shortening meetings to a maximum of 30 minutes and encouraging online chats over face-to-face ones. Among workers responding to a survey about the program, 92% said they were pleased with the four-day week, the software maker’s Japan affiliate said in a report on its website on Oct. 31. Japan has been struggling to bring down some of the world’s longest working hours as it confronts a labor shortage and rapidly aging population. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push to make workplaces more flexible and reduce overtime has drawn mixed reviews. The summer trial also cut costs at Microsoft Japan, with 23% less electricity consumed and 59% fewer pages printed compared with August 2018, according to the report. Some Microsoft Japan managers still didn’t understand the changes in working styles and some employees expressed concern that shorter workweeks would bother clients. Microsoft Japan plans to hold another work-life challenge in winter. Employees won’t get special paid days off, but will be encouraged to take time off on their own initiative “in a more flexible and smarter way.” Subscribe to our YouTube channel: https://bit.ly/2TwO8Gm TICTOC ON SOCIAL: Follow TicToc on Twitter: https://twitter.com/tictoc Like TicToc on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tictoc Follow TicToc on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tictoc Subscribe to our newsletter: https://bit.ly/2FJ0oQZ TicToc by Bloomberg is global news for the life you lead. We are a 24/7 news network that covers breaking news, politics, technology, business and entertainment stories from around the globe, supported by a network of Bloomberg’s 2,700 journalists across 120 countries.

The True Value of an 80-Hour Work Week

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I recently shared with you the concept of the “time and effort chains,” which are the factors that trap us within a business and force us to work longer and harder, with little to no additional value or payoff.

Today I wanted to share with you the final chains that hold us back and keep us from reaching our goals. These, coupled with an understanding of the time-value matrix and a new way to look at control within your business, will play a huge part in your success or failure as a business leader.

A lack of clear priorities and objectives.

If every member on your staff doesn’t understand your priorities and objectives, efforts get scattered and poor decisions get made. This leads to underperformance, which pushes you to chase after more control to set things back on the right path. This further robs the business of depth because you’re not prioritizing time to develop your team so that they can take on more responsibilities. It’s a negative reinforcement loop.

This also impacts your team as a whole. The lack of strategic structure for how priorities get established, goals set, and plans made causes your team to flounder and struggle. Of course, you’re always there to pick up the pieces and take back more control, but by this point you understand where that leads.

A lack of strategic depth.

When you have a team that lacks the experience or talent to accomplish the goals you’ve set, you often find yourself pulled back into more closely managing the functions of your department, division, or business.

It becomes a chicken and egg scenario: if you had the right people on the team, you could let go of more.

But because you have to handle so much of the work, you don’t have time to hire or develop the people who could take on much of the load currently on your shoulders.

Round and round you go.

Outdated time habits.

The world today is fundamentally different than the world we evolved in. Our time sense was developed in a business world where time and effort were what we were paid for.

But that has shifted. In fact, with the transformation of modern communication and technology, work no longer has to take place in an office or factory; you literally can work from anywhere.

Yet the geographical freedom we now experience, which our ancestors couldn’t have imagined, has a dark side.

More and more of us feel compelled to always be on, checking our devices, responding to messages. The changing, 24/7, interconnected world has completely altered the way we live and work, and many of us simply haven’t updated our time habits to design the structures and systems we need to effectively and sustainably produce.

If you see yourself in any of what I’ve shared, it’s time to take action and start moving toward a reality in which your time and value chains no longer hold you back from moving yourself forward as a leader.

By: David Finkel

Source: https://www.inc.com/

Dr. Kelso discusses what many people feel is the most frightening part about pursuing a career in the medical field…the crazy work hours. He dispels the myth that it is impossible to enjoy yourself and work the hours of a physician!

Automated Workflows & Best Practices For Customer Success Teams

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Health scoring.

Create a flexible scoring system that takes a wide variety of customer health factors into account. Set up custom behavioral events using our powerful Event Tracking. Log ins, engagement with your app, and using specific features can all be used to create a dynamic health score. Set points to expire so you always have an up-to-date view of your customer base.

Never miss a beat.

The ActiveCampaign CRM is a streamlined, visual tool for moving customers through the stages of your onboarding and success processes. Easily customize the CRM for your company’s success & retention strategy and stay organized as you transform customers into outspoken advocates.

Leverage automation.

Run the most efficient processes possible. Rely on automation to handle routine tasks like managing your CRM or updating contacts, so you can stay focused on conversations with customers. Have tasks automatically created and assigned in response to key events so your team never drops the ball.

Track & measure customer progress.

ActiveCampaign allows you to see what your customers are doing on your website and in your app. You’ll know whether they are engaging with your product and messages. You’ll be able to see specific actions they have or have not taken and even what help docs they’ve been reading.

Automatically identify potential churn.

Monitor for warning signs that a customer is about to churn and proactively react. Automatically notify their customer success manager for one-to-one outreach or begin an automated re-engagement sequence. Use automated workflows to mitigate risk at key stages.

Work seamlessly with sales and marketing.

When sales, marketing, and success processes are driven by the same platform, all three will benefit from data gained by each team. What marketing & sales learn about a customer can inform and drive the success process so that you hit the ground running with each new customer.

Connect across channels.

Reach your customers with emails, texts, and site messages. Personalize these messages with content and calls to action appropriate for where they are in the onboarding process and customer lifecycle.

The tools customer success managers need to succeed.

Site & Event Tracking

See exactly what your customers are doing on your website and in your app.

Flexible Pipeline

Customize for your processes and adapt it as needed.

Pipeline Automation

Have your customers move through the stages of your processes automatically.

Deep Data Integrations

Bring data in from other apps to inform your customer success processes.

Chrome Extension

Manage your contacts, tasks, and automations from anywhere online — no need to even log in.

Team Collaboration

Tag a teammate to bring them into a conversation. Discuss customer activity inline.

Automated Tasks

Create tasks in response to key events and assign them to a team member.

Automated Workflows

Use triggers, actions, and logic to create sophisticated automated processes.

Consolidated Records

Track everything about a customer on their Contact Record and see their activity.

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