Tag: Talent Triangle

5 Tips to Employee Engagement for Remote Teams

After hiring candidates, companies often ignore the importance of their employees’ well-being. If you’re wondering why some companies can have a high turnover rate, regardless of how popular they are among giant names, the percentage of employee engagement is one of those contributing factors to this situation.

While managers can set up a fun activity to keep their employees engaged at the office, they can’t really do the same now due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This dreadful situation has forced many to put employees’ safety first. Hence, working from home isn’t that odd anymore.

That doesn’t mean managers can’t initiate an employee engagement program on remote terms. This article will dive into how businesses can thrive by improving employee engagement even though they are working away from the office.

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The Importance of Employee Engagement

Employees are companies’ biggest assets. Keeping them happy at your workplace will greatly benefit your business. After all, happy employees will do their best at work, resulting in better outcomes.

Here are a few benefits of getting your employees engaged.

Reduce turnover rates

Turnover is often one of the manager’s biggest enemies when it comes to ensuring a running project. Sometimes employees can quit at a time when companies need them the most, and that’s something managers can’t avoid or hold them to stay longer. This is where employee engagement plays a big part in avoiding this situation.

When companies pay attention to employees’ difficulties at work and provide them with a solution that helps overcome the situation, employees can put more trust in the organization. More trust means higher loyalty, which decreases their consideration to move out.

This can be done if the company provides a number of onboarding processes via training videos to help employees get the experience of what they can expect from the company. The onboarding also improves the communication between the company and employees so that they get engaged from the get-go.

Improve productivity

Productivity has been linked to employees’ ability to finish a task and handle a situation in a timely manner. But when said employees are unable to concentrate at work, whether it’s from internal or external problems, they may lose their performance. If companies have engaged with employees well, things that may potentially reduce productivity can be identified and avoided quickly.

Better customer service

Enthusiastic employees at work bring such a positive vibe around them. This can often be seen in the way employees treat and communicate with customers. Highly engaged employees don’t see work as an inevitable responsibility as an adult. They consider getting up every day to work to ensure they provide solutions to customers they are communicating with while also benefiting from working.

5 Tips to Improve Employee Engagement for Remote Team

1. Encourage two-way communications

Communication is key in every part of life, including the workplace. Make sure to always have clear communication with employees, so you can get rid of misunderstandings at work.

After all, the workplace is one of the common areas where people get misunderstood easily. If you can’t initiate direct, two-way communication with people working in your organization, they may feel left out and consider you don’t provide the solution they are facing at the moment.

2. Listen to them

Make sure your employees don’t get left out even though they are working on a remote term. While they don’t often show any difficulties because of the distance, managers should ensure if they are doing okay in the first place.

Many won’t initiate a conversation due to location and time differences. That’s why employees keep almost everything about work themselves—asking if they face a certain problem while remote working can improve their connection with you and possibly open up for more conversation in the future.

3. Recognize their efforts

Companies often don’t see what their employees have done in maintaining their performance at work. Managers only see the result without considering how much effort one has put into gaining such an outcome.

Make sure to recognize your employees’ efforts and appreciate them for what they do. After all, everyone’s hard work has made it possible for the company to thrive in this difficult time. So, show them that you acknowledge their work.

4. Reward your employees

The act of acknowledging someone’s work may come in many forms, including giving a simple ‘thanks’ and round applause. While these are common and relatively inexpensive, you can go as far as giving points or a bonus as a reward for their hard work.

Your employees will surely appreciate it if their boss shares gifts or free coupons to the nearest villa when they achieve a goal. It shows that companies take care of their employees by giving them a reward after working hard.

Knowing how companies take little things, such as small wins matter, will improve how employees see their workplace. This convinces them more that they are working in the right place.

5. Create fun activities together

Sometimes working from the home policy can greatly impact employees in terms of getting burnout quickly. Compared when working in the office, employees could say hi to each other and wind down a little bit when the tension was too serious or when the workload was so heavy.

Remote working means the ability to communicate with other teammates is limited, which often causes more stress to employees. In order to avoid a quick burnout, managers can provide fun activities or games virtually. Getting into games can reduce stress and boost the employee’s motivation to work after it’s done.

Takeaway

Remote teams are prone to having burnout because they are limited to doing certain activities like they used to. When employees are easily stressed out without a quick handle from the company, they will feel excluded from the entire organization.

In the long term, such condition may reduce their performance and ownership as they don’t feel connected at all. Managers can handle this situation by taking into consideration what makes these employees engaged again.

It’s crucial to introduce exciting activities to boost up their mood. Make sure to listen to their voices and create a safe space for a private conversation. These will help remote employees engage in the company they are working.

The Project Manager is not a Scrum Master

A common question that arises is whether the Project Manager should be a Scrum Master.

Project Managers are sometimes expected to simply take up the role of Scrum Master when their organisation moves to taking an agile approach. This may well occur without the Project Manager being provided any training to take on this new, and quite distinct role. However, a recent survey by Scrum.org found that fewer than one third of organisations (31%) assign the role of Scrum Master to a Project Manager, and there are very good reasons for this. There are a wide variety of different people that could potentially take the role of Scrum Master, depending on the organisation, and it does not have to sit with the Project Manager role. Rather, the Scrum Master title should sit with the person who can do the best job of it. The following explains why the Project Manager is typically not a Scrum Master.

Different Skillsets and Activities

By the nature of the work that Project Managers and Scrum Masters do, the two are not particularly closely aligned, even if it seems at first glance that they are. Managing a project is not the same as being a Scrum Master. Scrum Masters have the role of mentoring, teaching, coaching and facilitating, while the role of the Project Manager is to ensure that the project runs to time and budget. This means that the Scrum Master relies on more of the so-called “soft skills” involved with helping people to move forward, while the Project Manager takes a more methodical, and arguably more of a “hard skills” approach. While both roles have an interest in ensuring a high level of team performance and driving efficiency within the team, the ways in which they go about this are very different. The Scrum Master facilitates and coaches, while the Project Manager assesses risk and manages issues and conflicts. 
Looking closer at what Project Managers and Scrum Masters do in terms of activities, differences can be seen here too. Project Managers manage projects, while the role of the Scrum Master is to is to make sure the rules of the Scrum are followed and that the Scrum Framework is adhered to. Project Managers work across all areas of the project spectrum, while Scrum Masters will largely only focus on the three areas of scope management, quality management and resource management. The Project Manager can commonly be responsible for a very large team, while Scrum Masters work within scrum teams which can be quite a lot smaller. Project Managers also plan regular project meetings as needed, but the Scrum Master will hold a meeting every day for the scrum. Even the emphasis of the work is different, since Project Managers schedule and plan, and narrow in on costs, while Scrum Masters are concerned with the value of the product. Importantly, Project Managers can serve in any industry, delivering projects. However, Scrum Masters only work in the IT industry, or similar related field. As can be seen therefore, there are both subtle and not-so-subtle differences between the skills and activities of Project Managers and Scrum Masters. 

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The Issue of Control

Ultimately, the Project Manager has a role that is focused on control. Project Managers are responsible for project costs, time spent, scope, quality of the end result, stakeholder management, risk and more. If the Project Manager is unsuccessful, they are accountable for this, and they will usually be blamed for issues. This means that the role of the Project Manager has to be based on control. This is achieved through each of the different stages of the project, such as its initiation, planning, design, running, monitoring, change control and even the final evaluation. On the other hand, the Scrum Master does not have an emphasis on control at all. Their role is ensuring everyone understands what their role is in the Scrum, getting rid of impediments, coaching people and ensuring that Scrum events occur. Importantly, they encourage the team to self-organise. This is not the same at all as the level of control that is involved with ensuring that project is managed effectively. 
As a Project Manager, being controlling is a good thing. It means that projects get delivered to time and to budget. But being controlling by nature is hard to change, and Scrum Masters are not controlling. It is very difficult for a person that is used to leading in a command and control style to adopt the very different, softer leadership style of the Scrum Master. 

What I still want my Project Manager to be the Scrum Master?

If, having considered the evidence above, you still believe that your Project Manager is the right person to be the Scrum Master, then there are some important steps you should take. You should review the experience they have working in the Scrum, and additionally provide some Scrum training. Perhaps most critical of all, you should determine if your Project Manager has energy, enthusiasm and interest for putting the Scrum in place. If they do not, then the initiative will be likely to fail, because any effective Scrum needs a great Scrum Master who is interested in and committed to making it work. The good news is, it is possible to learn how to be a great Scrum Master, but you must ensure that the passion to do so is there in the first place for this to succeed.

Summary

As has been seen, despite common misconceptions, the Project Manager is not the Scrum Master. The roles are different and require skillsets and activities that might be considered conflicting in nature. This is perhaps why less than a third of organisations assign the Project Manager to be Scrum Master. This is not to say that your Project Manager cannot be Scrum Master under any circumstances – they can – but the circumstances and level of interest have to be just right to get it to work. 

Five Smart Interview Questions When Hiring A Project Manager

With so many expectations, a project manager is such a prominent position.

The never-ending demands and grind make it a critical designation that not everyone is cut out for. It requires preparedness, execution, accountability, and leadership ability.
That’s why choosing the right candidate for the job is an inherently complex task with no easy solutions. Even an hour-long screening interview can prove redundant if there is no surprise factor and candidates feed canned answers to your repetitive questions. They need to be challenged. In an ideal world, you would love to observe how each of these candidates perform in the workplace in the face of a tough situation. Regretfully we don’t have that option, but you can resort to something that seems to work well in most situations.

You need to ask hard interview questions to identify the right professional for your next project. Questions that help you draw their personalities out – while you carefully listen to what they have to say, and how they say it. Questions they can’t rehearse for – thereby making the entire process challenging, rather than just another box-ticking exercise. With that in mind, here is a list of five smart interview questions that will help you select the best candidate for the position of a project manager. Some of these questions are sure to trip people up.

Question #1: If we provide you with a new project, what will be your approach to manage it, and how would you present results?

On the surface, it seems like a simple question. However, what works here is this – It’s a process-based question. So as an interviewer, you get to venture inside their brain, giving you a quick peek into the kind of work culture they’ve experienced in the past. This is probably the best way to understand the blueprint of their ideal approach, which can help you assess whether they would blend with your organization.
The second part of the question referring to the “presentation of results,” helps you understand how they would handle a standard project delivery. You also get to know about their presentation style and the perceived involvement of different team members in the process. In a nutshell, this is the perfect open-ended question to understand a candidate’s personality, work style, team management attributes, and their most typical approach to fresh challenges.

Question #2 – What if we assign you a complex project that is already running behind schedule? How would you manage it and bring it back on track?

This question tests their creativity and how well they can formulate a hypothesis. Just try and understand how they plan to maintain the level of quality without creating any undue pressure on other team members. Notice whether the candidate is willing to negotiate for more time or resources with the upper management.
Not all PMs are created equal. So, if you don’t like one specific approach or the way someone handled this imaginary problem, you are welcome to move on.


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Question #3 – What’s the nature of the communication style with your team members?

Here’s a cold hard fact. PM’s that communicate well with their team members achieve far more than the rest. The nature of this question would help you understand whether they are aware of the importance of communication mechanisms and how that affects their team members. This is a prime indicator of how they would be able to manage the difficult conversations as and when the situation arises. If you don’t get a satisfying response, it’s quite likely that candidate would fail to deliver in the real world as well.

Question #4 – Share your experience of when you were responsible for training others on any one aspect of project management.

They say great leaders and great trainers have a lot in common with each other. That’s not entirely difficult to understand since good project managers are also known to be the big picture thinkers that influence major decisions in an organization. Holding such an influential position, most PMs become great communicators. That’s why the art of training, coaching, or mentoring should come naturally to them. If the candidates share an experience where they were in the position to coach one of their team members, take it as a positive signal. This means they’re good at guiding other team members to success (as compared to a one-dimensional PM, known for giving orders.)

Question #5 – If you’re allowed to design a dream job, what would you choose as general metrics to determine if a project is on track?

We know that managing a project involves far too many moving parts and variables. This question allows you to listen to how they would design the ideal metrics and judge their ability to delegate, organize, and manage assets in a hypothetical situation. This is an excellent way to judge one’s domain knowledge and skills, as well. Don’t forget to analyse whether their answer is based on the in-depth understanding of the domain and what metrics they choose to ignore because that will reveal their experience and knowledge of the industry.

Summary

Given that hiring, training, and coaching employees are such a time-consuming process, asking these carefully devised questions can help you decide the best fit for your organization. Obviously, there is no right, wrong, or inappropriate answer to these questions. However, it gives you a fair idea of what a candidate wants from the position.

Here’s a bonus tip. Don’t forget to reverse the table and allow time in the end for candidates to ask you questions. This is a great way to understand what matters to them. Their own words will also help you decipher whether they have the correct mindset to succeed as a project manager in your organization. The basic idea is to create a challenging interview environment where candidates can showcase their business acumen along with the soft skills needed for the job.

Unleashing one’s true potential – Lessons from the world of sports

Organizations often struggle to engage, energize and enable its employees – for them to deliver excellence in line with his/ her true potential.

This translates into untapped productivity reserves at an individual level. On Programs and Projects, this collectively has an adverse impact on all the three aspects of cost, schedule and quality. When aggregated at an organization level, this translates into loss of revenues and/ or increased costs. In a study of 41 global companies by Management Consultancy firm, Towers Watson, it was revealed that companies scoring high on sustainable employee engagement outperformed their sectors in terms of earnings growth by an average of 18%.

Notwithstanding the measures that an organization takes in this regard, what are the proactive steps that an individual can take to perform at his/ her true potential? This article attempts to answer this question, by compiling learnings from the lives of three sports personalities who constantly pushed boundaries to redefine their own benchmarks. At the core is an amalgamation of insights from books authored by these champions: a) ‘Age is just a number: Achieve your dreams at any stage in your life’ by Dara Torres (co-authored by Elizabeth Weil), b) ‘Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All Night Runner’ by Dean Karnazes, and c) ‘Play to Win: My life on and off court’ by Saina Nehwal.

Though the champions belonged to different sports (swimming, endurance running and badminton respectively), in the books that they authored, there are multiple common threads linking the success factors that made them excel in what they did. These common success factors, arrived at from a detailed study of the above-mentioned books and making extensive notes, are what led to a list of 12 rules an individual can follow in order to perform at his/ her true potential.

  1. Seek to work on what you feel most passionate about. It must lead to your intrinsic sense of achievement and fulfilment
  2. Dream BIG. Be obsessed about reaching your goals
  3. Take required action at the speed of light
  4. Make no compromises in choosing the best team and support system
  5. Believe in your ability to achieve the goals. Compensate gaps in ability with intense focused hard work, and even otherwise. Ice it with dollops of determination and commitment. Leave no stone unturned in being prepared
  6. Keep your emotional house in order. Let it not come in the way of your performance
  7. Have an open mind & flexibility to accommodate learnings/ improvisations/ changes along the way
  8. Make sacrifices where required, in a positive manner
  9. Surround yourself with positive thoughts and energy, always
  10. Never, ever, give up. Dogged persistence should be your motto
  11. Have a burning will to win. Visualize yourself winning. A loss should give you sleepless nights till there is redemption of sorts
  12. Take personal accountability to deliver results

In order to affirm its usability in the corporate world, the 12 rules were mapped with the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven R. Covey. The 7 Habits Framework was chosen based on its relevance, applicability and effectiveness vouched by senior leaders in the corporate world. 


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While a majority of the rules can be adhered to by the individual on his/her own accord, a few of the rules require enablement by the organization. In the case of Programs/ Projects, onus lies with the Program/ Project Manager to ensure this enablement – by aligning the resources in line with his/ her aspirations and interest areas. This will go a long way to ensure optimum productivity levels, in line with the team’s true potential.

As regards the individual, once the 12 rules/ 7 habits are ingrained in one’s character (a composite of habits), doing one’s best to achieve excellence becomes second nature. This is when the boundaries between domains of applicability (be it sports or business) begin to blur. However, what will continue to differentiate Olympic medal winning champions’ vis-à-vis others is the intensity and completeness with which these rules are followed. The pitfall of this intensity could possibly be a premature burnout; hence one must be cautious to balance it out with periodic short breaks and/or healthy work-life balance in the corporate world.

5 Team-Building Activities to Enhance Employee Performance

In searching for effective measures to boost employee and team performance, team-building activities have proven to be divisive.

 

Some see the inherent value in such exercises, but others see them as expensive folly, resulting in a jolly social outing but little more. Like anything else, value lies in the team-building activity being suitable and well-organized. With that in mind, here are five team-building themes that should really help to advance staff output.

Get out and get active

The value of getting active far exceeds the limits of improved work productivity. No matter what your line of work, getting up and getting out will take your employees out of their familiar everyday surroundings, and also take many out of their regular work comfort zones. Popular activities here include nature walks, orienteering sessions, or a regular sporting event such as softball or bowling. Whatever the activity, make any objective inclusive and team-oriented instead of competitive, which can have detrimental results. If you see that the activity is proving a particular struggle for one or more of your staff, then mix it up or build in elements which enhance the group dynamic.

“The key here is to really identify the challenges your employees face on a daily basis, and select an activity that mirrors those challenges and seeks effective means to overcome them. The more the employees can connect the exercise to their daily task, the more value will be added,” states Bianca Larsen, a team leader at Last Minute Writing and Writinity.

Cultural appreciation

First, a warning. Anything that actively involves breaking down social and cultural barriers contains an element of inherent danger, so think carefully before you proceed. Yet on the other hand, the rewards here are tangible. The idea is to create situations which actively encourage staff to highlight their differences, be that culturally, or even regarding their likes and dislikes. An example here would be a food party where all employees bring a typical dish from their family, or a dress down day where employees are encouraged to wear something traditional from their culture.

“The secret here is to unlock the invisible barriers that exist in all situations where there are groups of people from different backgrounds. Build trust and understanding, actively promote cultural appreciation, and the group dynamic will instantly respond, sending performance into a different stratosphere in most cases,” adds Harry Hughes, a business writer at Draft Beyond and Researchpapersuk.


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Get talking

Communication is a key element to any successful team, be that on the sports field or in the office. A team that has failed to unlock its potential is a team that doesn’t communicate effectively. So, what can be done to rectify this wrong? Get your staff talking, but not as they normally would. Take them out of their normal environment and out of their comfort zones by debating a number of diverse and eclectic subjects. Ideas here could include a debate-team scenario, or even a discussion where individuals must support standpoints they normally wouldn’t. It would perhaps be mindful to avoid the normal conflict areas of religion and politics, but even these subjects are not off limits if you trust your staff to be constructive in voicing their opinions. Just ensure everyone gets their say, and that opinions are always sought, not just delivered.

Have some fun

A vitally important element to team-building activities is having some fun. If the activity proves to be otherwise, you will quickly lose the buy-in from the key stakeholders – in this case your employees. There are countless fun activities that can be initiated for the purpose, from fancy dress parties to ‘escape’ scenarios where the team must work together to escape a locked room, for example. Activities which involve constructing something or creating something tangible are always worthwhile and enjoyable, while cooking something together which can then be shared is always a winner. The reality is that if your staff are not enjoying the experience, they won’t want to be there, and if they don’t want to be there, they won’t engage. Engagement in what they are doing is crucial to any activity: something that should always be applied in the office as well as out.

Get quizzing

This is a firm favorite going back many years. People, on average, just love pointless trivia, so setting up a regular staff quiz night in a relaxed environment can be a sure winner when looking to enhance staff morale and productivity. Just be sure to mix up the questions and the teams, and in general steer clear of talking shop, although a cheeky work-based round can have its merits too. Be careful not to overly stoke the competition, but keep the eye firmly on the aspect of fun, and this can be an enjoyable and rewarding exercise.

About the Author

Content Editor Harry Conley is a man of many talents. As well as his work for LuckyAssignments and GumEssays, he is involved in the development of training and workflow activities to enhance the ability of writers, always seeking to unlock potential along the way. Another string to his bow is his interest in the provision of supplementary materials and instructional support for contributors.