Archive for the ‘project teams’ Category:

Ten ways to motivate your project team

Having worked in a diverse range of businesses from a large blue chip automotive organisation, mid size telematics company to an incredibly small recruitment business I have come across a number of management styles and found some really work and others which truly do need locking away. Most of my motivational work has come through managing globally dispersed teams which is a little harder to execute the below suggestions however I have been fortunate enough to be involved in some fantastic projects in the UK and these tips really do work.

1. Inclusion – this seems more than obvious but how often have you overlooked a team member as “this part isn’t relevant to them”? I agree that it is both wasteful and unproductive to invite members of the team to meetings which aren’t deemed relevant, however an invite should be extended none the less but more importantly ALL team members should be put on copy of the meetings outcome minutes.

2. Meetings with a twist – try to think of ways which will jazz up meetings, keeping them fresh and productive. Set your goals to be met at the start and try taking turns each meeting with different members of the team facilitating – ask each facilitator to use a different method of presentation, keeping the format fresh.

3. Offer up tasks for grabs – there is always a huge list of tasks requiring attention in projects; why not offer some out for other members of the team to take a fresh approach on. The more junior members of the team will appreciate the opportunity to gain insight into different areas and taking this collaborative approach works to pull teams together; ideally the team members picking up the tasks will be choosing them rather than being lumbered with them.

4. Socialise – we may not choose to spend our weekends with our work colleagues, but an evening set aside once a month to go for a bar snack and drink on a Thursday afternoon is a good idea to get the team together in a more relaxed environment. Don’t talk shop – just let people talk and get to know each other outside the pressures of the office. Don’t force the gatherings but ensure all are very welcome to come along.

5. Rewards – some may argue that the reward is your salary, this is the kind of attitude managers with no responsiveness to people management come up with. Rewards can be little things such as food treats and a “thank you” every now and then. But if you have a team working through lunch times over a week to ensure a project is brought to close on time – you could buy the team lunch – either something delivered in or when the project is delivered, take them all out for lunch.

6. Team building events – steer clear of fusty outsourced “motivation” workshops and think about what will really engage the team, an activity which involves some stellar team work such as orienteering for an afternoon.

Leading on to….

7. Team lead activities – ask the team to get involved with designing activities rather than imposing what you think is needed on them.

8. Action based learning – give the team a challenge where they request support but have to define what they need. This type of activity is very beneficial as it promotes reflection on your own actions and doing the activities rather than being instructed.

9. Charity work – give something back to the local community such as getting the team to build a playground, decorate a deserving persons house or clear a wasteland into a nature reserve. Not only will you draw the team together, you will be helping others and what a fantastic piece of PR for the business.

10. Value your team – quite possibly one of the biggest ways to generate team spirit is for management to value the team. Rather than talking about “how much this is costing” but focussing on the benefits to be generated. Be patient, not all results are yielded immediately so accept that real change takes time.

The Best Business Apps To Show Your Boss

As businesses become more and more tech-savvy, many are choosing to distribute iPhones as their default company phone. The iPhone’s wide variety of business apps can help streamline your company while increase productivity at the same time. If you want your company to use technology to gain an edge, here are 5 apps to show your boss that will make his (and your) job easier.

Dropbox

Sharing files among your colleagues can be quite the pain. Many businesses don’t have a standard system in place for transferring files, and many rely on email attachments which can get clunky. Dropbox allows you to created shared folders on your work iPhone and computer, and sync them with each other seamlessly. To share a file, simply place it in the share folder, and it will appear on your coworker’s devices instantly.

Evernote

Evernote is the premier note taking app for iOS, thanks to its simple design and numerous features. Rich text notes can be created, edited, and shared all from your iPhone, and can be accessed from any device with a web browser. Evernote’s notes also support photos, which sync just as quick as text notes.

Scanner Pro

Scanners are the butt of many jokes in an office, thanks to their propensity to malfunction exactly when you need them the most. Ditch the bulky scanner and grab Scanner Pro to streamline the entire process. The app uses your phones camera to scan documents, which can they be emailed with the touch of a button.

stack-of-iphones

Basecamp

Basecamp is the the most comprehensive project management tool for businesses of any size. The program allows your to share files, conversations, projects, and more through a simple user interface. Best of all, it can be entirely operated from the mobile application, allowing users to be productive on the move.

DoubleDutch

Planning large-scale corporate events can often be rather frustrating thanks to the hundreds of factors that go into planning a large conference. Between the attendees, presenters, and planners, numerous people need to stay informed of the event’s schedule. Enter DoubleDutch, an application that gathers all the information you need and allows attendees access everything from their smartphones. The application displays a mobile agenda that can be updated in real time, so guests always know exactly where they need to be. They can even create custom agendas in a few simple steps, or connect with other guests based on their interests/career. DoubleDutch also allows you to create custom polls and survey to collect information from your guests, so you can know exactly what they thought of this year’s speaker.

Tripit

Business traveling always seems to be more hassle than it should be. Between planning the flight, renting a car, and reserving a hotel, the process can get quite complicated. Enter Tripit, which simplifies the entire process. Simply forwarding your travel confirmation emails to a Tripit email account automatically creates your itinerary for you. It can then be shared among users, so all your coworkers know when and where you are heading.

As time passes, more and more business rely on strictly digital methods for managing their information, and the above apps build a solid foundation for running a well oiled and tech savvy company. Remember to try out any apps that seem interesting, and find what works best for you and your business.

Adrian King is a business consultant with a passion for technology. When he is not found working or spending time with his children, Adrian spends much of his spare time reading http://www.marketingtechblog.com/.

When relationships fail – project management woes

Interesting topic, as relationships are the basis of life – whether it is partners, children, pets, colleagues, or suppliers to name a few. So how do we keep a relationship healthy and happy? A starting point has to be managing expectations, you commit to a certain level of engagement and this must be clear from the outset. Most of the time, with personal relationships this tends to be easier as you agree to call or do something and as long as you keep on top of your commitments then you have a healthy relationship. In work it can be difficult to juggle relationships especially when you are very busy and are constantly asking for parties to do something for you (usually because it is in the plan). So when things occasionally go sour or you inherit a bad relationship with a client or supplier, what should you do?

Come back

  • What went wrong – talk to all involved to get a greater understanding of when the relationship started to struggle.
  • Discuss feelings – all sounds very touchy feely I know but just listening to others and letting them vent their frustrations can relieve tension greatly.
  • Listen to all points of view – don’t just listen to those who shout loudest, take time to speak with those who seem to be happy (it is often these who are just “getting on with it” grumbling under their breath).
  • How can we put things right? Having taken in all views and opinions it is time to sit down and work out a strategy to improve the working environment moving forward. Take an inclusive approach, call a meeting with all involved and talk through your ideas and reassure everyone that you are acutely aware that things need to change and will.

I remember back when I first started managing my own projects, my programme director told me to refer to the plan with workstream leads who were not prioritising my projects. I did as I was told for a while but found that this corporate threat was damaging my relationships, I decided to take a different approach, bearing in mind I was working within a matrix environment so often had to go to their managers with the threats. I decided to spend some time with each workstream lead, visiting them in their work environments, having a coffee and chat about their workloads. I found that explaining the benefits to them completing their commitments to my projects and sympathising with their woes really started to build relationships to the point that they were very honest about statuses and pressures from others within the business. From this I met with other managers to discuss how we could all get what we needed. It wasn’t completely fool proof but certainly made for a more productive and happier work environment. Just remember that yes there is a plan but just because it is there doesn’t mean it will be followed without some intervention and management of expectations.

Let’s do coffee – How to Tackle Informal Interviews

We’ve practised questions and answers, researched the business and got our suits dry cleaned only to receive a call from HR / recruitment services asking us to attend an informal meeting with the hiring manager. Suddenly, we feel unprepared and unsure about how to handle a meeting in Costa or Starbucks tomorrow at 8:30am – what to do!?

Don’t panic for a start – an informal interview is certainly nothing to worry about but equally it is not something which should be treated as informal either. I have often pushed back on hiring managers asking why choose an informal meeting over the traditional approach. I have heard a few replies from: issues over time (heavy diaries mean meeting outside the office and office hours), interviewers wishing to escape the office for a change to testing candidates in a less formal environment. As the format of such interviews is perceived as “let the conversation flow” – it could be a test to see how you lead a conversation which isn’t so daunting but keep in mind that you also need to ensure you are entering core skills and experience into the dialogue too. Culture fit is generally a key driver to informal interviews – by taking you out of the formal environment the hiring manager may be trying to understand who you are, what your personality and sense of humour is like. Will you get on well with the team or stick out like a sore thumb?

Always treat these types of interviews like a test – if you prepare for the worst you can cover all bases and ensure you gain the greatest success:

  • Do not assume the interview will actually be informal just because the surroundings are; prepare your questions and answers as you would for competency based interviews.
  • Careful what you order!! Coffee houses are great but I have known candidates order strong coffee and be bouncing off the walls in the interview. Be sensible or avoid caffeine altogether and order decaf.
  • Be prepared to be distracted, the downside to coffee houses and hotel lobbies has to be the noise and the hustle of people coming and going. For this, you must keep focussed on the interviewer – remember this may be a test!
  • Make sure you have the mobile number of the interviewer in case you cannot see him/her when you arrive – especially first/last thing in the day as there will be a great deal of smartly dressed people at peak periods.

Don’t let the informal setting get in the way of asking some good strong questions – make sure you leave the meeting knowing if this is the job for you or not. It is not unreasonable for you to ask to see the offices at some point in the process too – it is important that you get to see where you could potentially be spending 8 hours a day, so if an offer is extended post interview – ask.