Best Ways Managers Can Motivate Their Team

It’s hard to keep everything right on schedule when the office morale is low and people are slacking at half of their work capacities. According to Gallup, only 29% of millennials are engaged at work, 55% of them are unengaged and as many as 16% are actively disengaged. So, how do you get the other 71% to wake up? Simple, by following the instructions below:

Make it worth their while

No matter how interesting your employees’ job may be, sooner or later, their initial enthusiasm will fade, and they’ll feel like dogs chasing their tails. As a result, their productivity levels will drop, leaving you with a workforce operating at half-capacity. To avoid this, you need to constantly be raising the bar and setting new challenges for your employees. According to these statistics, 86% of millennials would keep their current positions if their employers provided them with career training and development, while 87% of them stated that professional development and career growth opportunities are very important. This could be anything ranging from specific job-related skills, languages, computer skills, and so on. In essence, by investing in your employees’ development, you’re effectively hitting two birds with one stone, as their newly acquired skills will keep them both motivated and more productive at the same time.

Provide them with regular feedback

Providing your employees with a steady stream of feedback will show them that their efforts aren’t going unnoticed. According to PwC, 69% of employees stated that they would work harder if their efforts were better recognized. Give praise where praise is due and acknowledge all of your employees’ hard work to keep the morale afloat. Also, don’t hesitate to hand out constructive criticism to those employees who might be slightly under-performing, as 92% of people surveyed agreed that, when appropriately delivered, negative feedback is an effective performance booster. So, skip the dry formalities of the annual and quarterly reviews, and call up a meeting face to face. Just be wary, as some employees are more sensitive than others. Always give positive examples of their performance first, before criticizing them, in order to avoid hurting any egos.

Give out incentives

For some of your more competitive employees, a simple pat on the back simply won’t do. Instead, they’ll want a more formal sign of recognition for their troubles that they can share with their friends and families. Show them that you care and give them a master gift card, take them out for a fancy dinner, or offer them some paid time-off to spend with their loved ones. This will give them a sense of accomplishment that will motivate them to work even harder. Also, don’t forget to commemorate important milestones with your employees, both company and individual ones, as they are the ideal time for you to be generous and thoughtful.

‘Laissez-faire’

One of the worst possible things you could do inside the office, is to try and micro-manage each and every one of your employees. This is not only highly demotivational, but counter-productive at the same time, as frankly, no one likes having someone breathe down their neck while they’re working. What’s more, employees will get the opinion that you don’t trust them and as such lose confidence in their own abilities. Rather, what you should be doing is giving them some increased autonomy by letting them do things their way. Be flexible, let them organize their own schedules, don’t choke their creativity with unnecessary rules and regulations, and they’ll respect you more for it. According to this survey, 89% of companies reported better employee retention due to the implementation of flexible work options. So, focus your attention on more important matters, and cut your workers some slack every once in a while.

Create a positive working environment

Nurturing a healthy office atmosphere is vital for the overall productivity of your employees, and their mental well-being as well. Team-building events are an excellent way to break up the monotony of the daily grind and let your employees have a bit of harmless fun. Mind you, it doesn’t have to be something elaborate and expensive, but something as simple as a casual Friday, or a spontaneous night out. The most important thing, however, is that it’s something totally unrelated to work, as the main idea is for people to let off some steam and get their minds off work. All in all, these events present the perfect opportunity for your employees to bond with their co-workers and improve their mutual working relationships.

To sum up, different strategies appeal to different people. What works for one employee may not be the case with the rest of the lot. Therefore, it’s vital to keep experimenting with various combinations of these methods, in order to find just the right concoction for your specific workforce.

Guest author, David Webb, is a Sydney-based business consultant,online marketing analyst and a writer. With six years of experience and a degree in business management, he continuously informs the public about the latest trends in the industry. He is a regular author at BizzmarkBlog. You can reach him on Twitter or Facebook.

4 Ways Businesses Benefit From Outsourcing Services

In the past, small to medium-sized businesses had a much harder time competing with the ‘big boys’ industries  due to a lack of adequate infrastructure within their organizations. However, thanks to the most recent technological breakthroughs, this is no longer the case, as small businesses all around the world are given a more level playing field by outsourcing their non-core processes elsewhere. As such, these non-core processes can include anything ranging from marketing and design to IT support. Moreover, with the use of new cloud and project-management software, outsourcing these processes has never been simpler. Yet, how exactly do small businesses benefit from this lucrative arrangement? Keep on reading to find out.

Lower operating costs

Hiring new staff to take care of your in-house marketing and IT sectors is a huge investment for small business owners. According to the Training magazine, on average, companies spend around 1,000 US dollars per learner, and this does not account for the time and effort it takes to post job ads, review CVs, and interview potential employees. Also, the more workers you employ, the more money you have to spend on equipment, office space, workers compensation, and taxes. Hence, the most logical solution for small businesses is to go lean, in order to maximize efficiency and lower the cost of operating.

Outsourcing services helps small businesses do just that, as the cost of hiring another company to, for example, manage your company’s marketing efforts is much lower than doing it yourself. With larger corporations, it’s a totally different story, as they can handle their own in-house marketing sectors due to having a lot more resources at their disposal. This is why, by outsourcing, smaller companies can be at an equal footing with the big corporate giants, as it allows them to enlist the help of professional marketers at a much lower cost. 

Access to the latest technology

Another reason why outsourcing is so beneficial for small businesses is the fact that outsourcing companies bring their own equipment and technology into the fold. A good example of this phenomenon can be seen in the legal industry, where Artificial Intelligence is seeing an increase in use. Especially so in the process of legal transcription, where sophisticated AI plays a crucial role in transferring raw video and audio data into a more accurate, readable format. Without this, legal firms would struggle to process vital materials in time for the next proceeding. By using this kind of human-aided AI services and technology, businesses save precious time and increase efficiency.

Increased focus on core business processes

The thing with some small businesses, and startups in general, is that they usually operate on a much tighter deadline and do so with a skeleton crew. By outsourcing all of their repetitive and time-consuming back office tasks, such as sales, marketing, and IT support, small businesses get to focus all of their attention on core-business functions, which greatly improves their overall efficiency and productivity. Thus, the key staff gets to work on improving critical business areas instead of wasting their time dilly-dallying with computer updates and composing new marketing strategies. Furthermore, apart from lowering the cost of re-training the existing employees to accept new roles, focusing on key business elements helps small businesses cultivate talent, which is crucial for staying ahead of the curve and gaining a real advantage over your competitors.

Acquire the assistance of business experts

Training your own staff members to perform non-core functions won’t yield immediate results. In fact, this approach will lead to many trials and errors before they finally get the hang of it. Moreover, some of these tasks take weeks, if not months, to learn, which is time better spent elsewhere.

Hence, it’s a good idea to employ the services of a company which is an expert in that field. This will not only bring in more results, but do so at a much faster pace. Plus, you get some real, concrete, advice from people who know exactly what they’re doing. Also, by outsourcing you’re actually opening the door of your business to global talent and not just settling for second-best in your immediate vicinity. At the end of the day, you get to pay for quality services which would otherwise be too costly on your own.

All in all, outsourcing services is a great way for small businesses to stay ahead of the competition by funneling priceless manpower and resources into development and growth instead of wasting it on irrelevant back office tasks.

Guest author, David Webb, is a Sydney-based business consultant,online marketing analyst and a writer. With six years of experience and a degree in business management, he continuously informs the public about the latest trends in the industry. He is a regular author at BizzmarkBlog. You can reach him on Twitter or Facebook.

7 Things That Can Kill Your Company Culture

Every company develops a unique culture that defines how people feel and behave as they work. For the most part, business owners and managers take the lead in creating a culture that reflects their values.

A study published by the Gallup organization revealed that having highly engaged employees resulted in 10% increase in customer satisfaction. Research also shows that the productivity of workers can jump by 12 percent when they feel satisfied. Such efficiency gains reduce the cost of human resources and directly impact your bottom line.

Build a healthy, satisfying work environment for your business by avoiding the following killers of your company culture.

1. Not Hiring Team Players

Some people just don’t work well with others. You might even use labels, such as “jerks” to describe them. They constantly criticize their boss and try to spread discontent. If you have this type of person on your staff, now is the time to weed them out.

Meanwhile, do everything possible to ensure that you only hire team players. Try to screen your applicants by their demeanor during interviews as well as feedback from their personal references.

2. Bureaucracy

A multitiered hierarchy can kill your company culture. Seemingly endless meetings, PowerPoints, emails, and “edicts” from upper-level management can waste time and leave your team members feeling powerless.

Help people do their job by only involving them in meetings that directly impact their work. Also, ensure that each worker directly reports to only one supervisor or manager. Empower your employees to innovate to improve quality and efficiency.

3. Stress

Deadlines are only one of the many sources of stress that can kill your company culture. You need to counter the pressure to promptly complete projects with sensible work-related practices. For instance, encourage your staff to take breaks, drink water and eat healthy food.

Fantastic managers periodically check on their direct reports to answer questions and ensure that work proceeds smoothly. If you leave your employees without the answers they need, they will feel stressed, especially as due dates approach.

4. The Boss’s Way or the Highway

As a leader, you should welcome diverse perspectives and opinions, even when they contradict your own. Furthermore, by emphasizing results rather than tasks, you can help your team develop independence and confidence.

When you let everyone participate in decision-making, you help them have a sense of value and belonging. Your employees will begin to identify themselves with the firm and always look for ways to improve the way they work.

5. Lack of “Beyond the Paycheck” Motivation

Some employees only show up to work because they want a paycheck. These workers show little intrinsic motivation and will rarely do anything outside of their job description. Such workers can kill your culture and negatively impact everything your firm does.

Engage your workforce by providing perks and incentives that transcend payday. Motivate your employees by providing each of them with a clear path to advancement. Also, consider offering non-traditional work arrangements such as remote work and flexible scheduling.

6. “Keep Your Head Down and Get it Done” Attitude

Employees who focus on doing their work without providing feedback can cripple your business. You need people on your team who will share their ideas and ask questions in ways that stimulate innovation.

To create engaged employees, never ridicule a suggestion and insist on practicing an open communications policy. By creating a safe, trusting business culture, you harness the thoughts, experiences and ingenuity of your employees for the common good.

7. Micromanagement and Lack of Trust

Healthy relationships among your team members require you to trust them. However, in many companies, business owners and managers communicate distrust by micromanaging everything their workers do.

Avoid closed-door meetings and suspicious whispers in hallways that make employees feel as though you are deciding their futures without them. Instead, treat everyone with respect and assume the role of a mentor or coach rather than an overlord.

In the end, pay attention to all the feedback you receive, including from employees who leave your business. Take your employees seriously and treat them right. By building a healthy company culture, you build a strong reputation for your firm and a solid foundation for success.

Jen McKenzie is a freelance writer from New York, NY. She is fascinated by all things having to do with words,business, education and cutting-edge. When Jennifer is not busy writing, she enjoys taking long walks and spending time with her two pets Brando & Marlon. You can reach Jennifer @jenmcknzie

Keeping Remote Employees Happy And Productive

Keeping your online team happy, engaged, and productive doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, two-thirds of managers say their employees actually become more productive once they go remote, SurePayroll reveals. Being in control of their own schedule — and eliminating the daily commute — gives remote employees more time and flexibility, which increases motivation and productivity. However, remote teams still require conscientious management. You want them to feel valued and part of the team even though they’re not on-site. With the following tips, you can cultivate a happy, engaged, and successful online team.

Communicate effectively

Communication is key in every aspect of business — and online teams are no exception. In fact, poor communication is one of the prime reasons employees get frustrated in their jobs. It also leads to feelings of isolation which means employees are less likely to contribute to the team. The solution? Effective communication channels. Let your team know which situations require video chats or phone calls and which situations can be dealt with via online chat. Email is still useful, but not always ideal as messages can be missed. With online chat, team members can instantly ask questions and get answers if they need guidance. This is great for productivity since they’re able to continue with their work right away rather than having to hang around for an email response.  

Define expectations and goals

Although they’re not in the same building as you, remote employees need the same amount of guidance and direction as you give you regular ones. In order to encourage your online team to work efficiently and independently, you need to be clear on the specifics of their working arrangement. Defining the expectations you have for your remote team — preferably with them being mutually agreed upon — will help your employees stay on track with their work. This also includes explaining your mission and goals for the company. Your remote team will therefore feel included in the company culture, but be comfortable and efficient working elsewhere.

Recognize great work

If your remote team does great work, make sure it doesn’t go unnoticed! Failing to give positive feedback where due can leave employees feeling undervalued and even increase your turnover risk. Appreciating exceptional work can motivate your team to maintain that standard. You can also use bonuses or raises as an incentive. It can help to make the recognition public on company-wide channels, so your other employees are informed about the valuable work the remote team does each day. Your online team will then continue confident their hard work is going noticed and appreciated.

A productive online team can be a huge asset to your business, so make sure you take the steps to make yours the best it can be. While creating an engaged and motivated group of remote employees can be a challenge, once you put the above appropriate systems into place, it’s more than possible to achieve. Once you get into the swing of things, you’ll soon have a motivated, engaged, and high-functioning remote team.

Guest Author, Jenny Holt, is a former HR executive turned freelance writer, who now spends more time with her young family and ageing, but ever eager Labrador, Rover.

4 Ways Business Managers Can Better Connect with Their Employees

The most effective managers are those that make it look effortless. Connecting with your employees is the best way to become more effective at your job. Here are some techniques that you can use to help you better connect with your employees.

Practice Open Door Relationships

Almost every manager will say that they have an open door policy. Employees know that some managers are just saying this instead of practicing it. You have to practice what you preach. Take the time to listen to what your employees have to say. Be sympathetic and try to help them brainstorm solutions to their problems. You may find that they’re more willing to be open with you in return. This could help you to be aware of ongoing issues within your employee group.

Provide an Outlet

There will be times in which your employees need to vent. Let them know that this is okay as long as they’re respectful of their coworkers. Another venue to provide them with an outlet is to host an event or company party. This will allow everyone to get out of their element and socialize. Look into using a rental company like Party People Rentals & Sales to help you with your party needs. It will give you more time to focus on planning activities instead of the logistics.

Be a Mentor

Give your employees an opportunity to grow into a new position if they’re interested. You can help them achieve their goals by providing mentoring and helping to set goals. This will give you a chance to have a meaningful conversation with them about their motivations and desires. You may find that you have more in common with your employees than you had previously thought. This can garner you more respect with other employees.

Get down with It

Some of the most effective managers are those that understand all aspects of the job. Lead by example and pitch in if someone is out sick or there is a large project looming. If employees see that you’re willing to help out when needed, they view you as more approachable. This may be all that you need in order to start connecting with them. A manager that’s willing to get into the trenches tends to be more respected and trustworthy.

The first place to start when connecting with your employees is to make it personal. Having a vested interest in their success will show them that you care about their well-being and livelihood.

Guest author Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She enjoys kayaking and reading books by the lake.

 

Let’s Play Ball: Gamification For Businesses

Gamification – have you heard the term? The odds are high that if you haven’t, then you will soon. Recently, this method of increasing customer participation has taken off within the industry. It’s the process of using video game-style features to boost the customer experience. For the most part, it tends to make marketing more fun and enjoyable. The same also goes for the products and services themselves.

People who have never heard the term before won’t have a clue regarding implementing it into their business plan. That’s why this post is here – to give you a helping hand. The following are the things to take into consideration.

Valued Learning

Duolingo is a language app which helps its users to learn words and phrases. The way it does this is simple: it starts off small and works higher and higher. Anyone who needs to get to the next level has to unlock the one they are on first. Otherwise, they plateau until they get it right. Adobe Photoshop has a similar strategy with its LevelUp campaign. The competition is the part which engages customers and makes them come back for more as humans hate being beaten. Plus, it helps users take a complicated goal and break it down into bite-size chunks.

Distractions

There are bound to be times when customers lose interest in, well, anything. Whether it’s a marketing ploy or a product itself, people will get bored. Distractions exist and it is your job to find the major ones and deal with them as soon as possible. The reason this is essential is that gamification can lend a hand and make it less monotonous. Then, the level of focus should bounce back and no one will disengage. Use analytics to figure out where people are running out of patience and then gamify the area. Alternatively, you can use your gut.

Tracking And Reporting

Putting a gamified version of the brand out into the world is only a baby step. Those who want to go to the next level need to track results and report on the data. Again, analytic software is available so there is no excuse. And, IT support is accessible across the world regardless of location. Anyone who wonders why this is important should remember two things. The first one is that you can analyze whether the feature is achieving the goals you set out in the beginning. Secondly, it allows the customers to improve, which is added value.

Offline Synchronization

Never forget about mixing virtual and real elements. For example, Foursquare is a program that rewards its users for checking-in to places and events. It also offers incentives for frequently using the app. Anyone who owns a “retro” high street store can use this to merge their strategies. Get your customers to check-in to Foursquare when they are in the store to receive their rewards. Once they start to link the two, they will shop with you more often.

So, the question is: are you game for gamification?

Why Live Events Are So Good For Your Business

A smart business owner looks for every opportunity to help grow, legitimize, and lionize their brand. But the truth is that many small business owners overlook one of the biggest stages they could hope to stand on. We’re talking about live events like conferences, trade shows, and speaking opportunities. They should start becoming a key feature of your annual marketing plans and here is why.

Get the team spirit on the rise

If you have a team alongside you, then getting them out there representing their brand has all kinds of benefits. For one, you are having it represented by the people who it best and choosing the right charismatic characters can help you make even more of an impact on event attendees, with a little training. What’s more, it can actually improve the team’s motivation and engagement with their work. Having the opportunity to meet others and to prove that they are on the side of the brand can make them actually feel like members of a team, rather than just employees.

Find new ways to convert new people

When you’re looking for new people to convert, the quality of your leads matters as much, if not more, than the quantity of your leads. You could be wasting huge amounts of time and resources trying to convert people who simply aren’t interested. At trade shows and other live events relevant to your business, you are getting in touch directly with those most likely to be interested. It’s a whole new way to begin the conversion process. Just make sure that you establish a way to keep in touch with those you meet so that you can continue the process further down the line, whether by arranging a meeting, getting new signups to your email newsletter, or simply by sending a follow-up email.

Expose the brand in a new dimension

Besides getting the opportunity to connect personally with members of your target market, you can do a lot more the broader strategy of your brand. Showcasing your brand at an event, whether it’s a launch or a booth at a trade show is a way of saying “we have arrived.” It gives a level of exposure that can make the brand much more recognizable. Just ensure that you’re taking steps to actually expose it. You need the right items for your conference, including booth design materials that make your corner fit your aesthetic and custom lanyards or wristbands that help individual members of the team wear and show off their affiliation. Don’t be afraid of saturating your people and your space with brand imagery. You may need it to stand out amongst your competitors.

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Stand amongst your peers

Exposure isn’t the only thing that a conference or trade show can offer your brand. It can also lend it a sense of trustworthiness. Consumers are becoming a lot savvier and less willing to part with their money to do business with companies that they don’t know. By establishing a physical presence and showing that you don’t only exist in the online world, you can help establish and legitimize your place within the industry. Keep building trust by ensuring that you’re talking one-on-one to potential clients in plenty of detail. Be honest, don’t be afraid to let them down by giving a sub-optimal answer if it’s the truthful one. This might be a marketing opportunity, but it’s also a conversation and if you want to be effective, you have to be able to sustain that sense of trust all the way through it.

Use it as a focus group study

Don’t be afraid to have some questions of your own for the event attendees, either. As mentioned, trade shows and conferences attract only those members of the market most interested in what you have to offer. This includes not just consumers and businesses, but also journalists and bloggers. Take the opportunity to get the scoop and gain some insight that can help you craft future strategies for the business. The event survey is far from uncommon, however. If you don’t make yours a little more creative, it might be hard to collect as much data as you would like.

Find partnerships

Besides standing out from your competitors, you can also use this opportunity to stand alongside them. You can start building bridges with others in the industry or in related fields of work. Business partnerships can have all kinds of benefits. You can score referrals from one another. You can use each other’s platforms to help give a boost to any marketing or branding efforts. You may even have a joint project down the line. Use trade shows and conferences as an opportunity to network and build the foundation of friends that can help your business reach new goals in the future.

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Bring the online and offline worlds together

As mentioned, live events help give an online business a sense of trustworthiness by showing the market that you do, indeed, exist and a real-world presence. However, they can also serve as great material for you to build your online marketing on, too. For instance, you can livestream your conference content or tweet out photos and stories from the event as it’s happening. You can also take some of the conversations you have had and turn them into a case study or a point of future discussion. Above all else, it shows that your business is willing to learn and stay on the top of its game by incorporating recent events and information into its branding and marketing materials which only improves your image.

Even if you don’t believe your business is yet big enough to stand on that tallest of platforms, there is too much to gain to not make use of them. They can help you both share and gain insights. They can help you reach customers, clients, and partners you might never have met otherwise. They cement your brand’s place in the industry. Start attending events and you will see the benefits immediately.