Part 2: How has Motivii helped me with my manager?

Often relationships between employees and managers can be pretty 2-D. Conversations that ever get past work related things happen in the pub after work.

At times the pub, is not the best place to talk about things when you are struggling with something outside of work or a relationship within work.

When you do have a problem that you can’t ignore, the only avenue of discussion is to book a private meeting with your manager or with HR,  which can feel overtly formal as well as intimidating.

I choose to express any problems or struggles that I am having in and outside of work in my Top3 challenges for the week. These get sent to my line-manager (who happens to also be my boss), Eamon can take note of it and schedule the meeting with me.

This takes the pressure off both him ( because he doesn’t have to use guesswork to know f something is wrong/ going well) and me because I have a clear way of expressing that something isn’t right bypassing coarse formalities.

As an apparent “Millennial”  I feel I can relate to Gallup’s How Millennials Want to Live and Work report which found that performance management and a constant focus on regular feedback is a huge contributor and pays large dividends in engagement and performance.

I think that at times managers don’t know the questions to ask if there aren’t avenues for employees to express what’s going well or what is going wrong as well. Likewise frequent form of feedback not only benefits my company because they know what is going on but also it helps me to feel  engaged with my work and allows me to feedback how I am doing and what I have been up to…

 

How Motivii has helped me as an employee?

At Motivii we are big believers in using our own product to get through things that are affecting us, either personally or as a team. One of the reasons why we do what we do, is because we believe in the utility and necessity of the product.

We say that we like “to drink our own champagne”

We test the new features on ourselves and as a team are constantly coming up with ideas to improve things, that will help us in our meetings or in our relationships with one another.

We are engaged in thinking about how we can make work better for ourselves. We couldn’t build, sell, or market a product about work that we didn’t believe in.

Likewise, things don’t always go smoothly in our office but generally we see conflict and discussion as an innovative driver. Sometimes heated conversations have turned into a completely new navigation system for our website and app or a complete overhaul of the product.

So, as a “millennial” marketing/ client services executive: how has it helped me?

Motivii has helped me structure my weeks, helping me plan in terms of focus but also allowing me to reflect mentally. This means that I don’t stray off course or rush into things.

Sometimes I can be all over the place with what I am doing at work. It can feel like we are moving from one train carriage to the next, sleepwalking through work. As soon as i’ve done one thing and completed it I’m onto the next. I don’t remember to sit down and consider what I have been doing and how well it has gone. This means that I don’t ask myself if things were a success or if things could have gone better.

With Motivii, i have the chance to train my mind to think in a more lateral sense about what I have been up to to train my focus. This allows me to look to the future whilst taking time to categorise and download the past.

Tips for having better one-to-ones

Tips for better 1:1s: How can you better engage with your people?

  • Plan for your catch-ups, and do so before (not in them). Have a think about what you want to say in the meeting look back on what was said and actioned in the ones previous. Clarify what the goal of each 1-2-1 should be. Has your direct report followed upon what they said they would do. Come armed with some key questions, that go beyond the “what have you been up to”, contemplate getting past the simplistic defaults of manager – employee conversation.

 

  • Schedule your 1-2-1s in weekly (or monthly if more appropriate), with each individual. Doesn’t matter how senior or new they are. People need feedback and support, and to understand that they are important. Millennials are often pinpointed with needing more directive guidance. Saying, “my door is always open” is not always enough and can be intimidating for a new recruit. Actively engineering a meeting shows that to your employees that you care about them and that you want their feedback.

 

  • Don’t conform to a particular structure of 10/10/10, because 30 minutes might not be enough and because arbitrary structures like this may trivialise the actual conversation and limit important ideas or information that may come out in the 33rd minute. Have some idea of what you want to discuss: such as what has been successful at the moment, what hasn’t gone so well and what do they want to focus on next week. Catch-ups don’t always have to be about work, you can make them personal. Ask how your employees are feeling: Do they feel like the get enough recognition for good work? Do they feel like they can get constructive feedback?

 

  • Plan for the future. Each 1-2-1 is useless if there is no follow up or connecting point. What needs to be achieved in the next week, month, six months. Engage with your direct reports on what their career goals are what they want to achieve for the future. In and outside the company. Make sure you leave the meeting with a clear idea of what you would like to talk about in the next meeting. Similarly helping your employees set objectives can be a great way to guide them with their long-term development and goals.

Did you follow up on what you said you would do?  Holding yourself accountable for your actions, sets a precedent that your direct reports will follow.

Employees value communication from their manager not just about their roles and responsibilities, but also about what happens in their lives outside of work.

  • Face to face. Catch ups are best when they are completed in person. Email and Slack messages don’t quite cut it, people are able to hedge over their emotions and it can be difficult to get to the root of things. While face to face is a luxury afforded to people who work in offices and not at home. Managers can schedule a catch up in person monthly for remote workers and use google hangout in between.
  • Don’t miss your 1-2-1s, it sends out a message to your employees that more there are more important things than their time. Perhaps you block off the same half an hour for a person each week. Or you block of a half day for all of your team, to chat to them. Find what works best for you, but don’t miss them.

Enjoy your next one-to-one!

Found this advice useful? Follow us on Twitter @getmotivii

Why are 1-2-1s  important?

While engagement is the buzzword at the moment. There are few grassroots examples of how managers can directly improve engagement.

But,

Engagement isn’t going anywhere and there is a reason why…

Employees who are less engaged, are less productive. But not only is it bad for relations in the office it’s also bad for business. Disengaged employees may not only sleepwalk through work but they also might cost your company millions in lost revenue and as an organisation you have to absorb the costs of not only their recruitment but also their training and later resignation.

Feedback and recognition for good work is the bread and butter of employee engagement.

69% of employees say they would work harder if they felt their efforts were better recognised

Often managers become managers because they are the top of the table when it comes to skills. But they are not given any advice on how to get feedback and what to do with the feedback when they get it. This can be a struggle for a manager who manages a team from three people to three hundred.

How can managers better connect with the individuals in their team, to keep them engaged with the work that they are doing? And to create a culture in which they feel valued as a member of a team as well as the company.

“For example, employees whose managers hold regular meetings with them are almost three times as likely to be engaged as employees whose managers do not hold regular meetings with them”

1-2-1s can be a great way to create that connection and improve the relationship. It also gives a channel through which positive and negative feedback can be passed from manager to employee end employee to manager.

While setting aside time for each individual, in a no doubt a busy week, seems like an arduous task for a manager, the long term investment in a productive employee not only creates a stronger relationship but also shows them that you value them beyond a resource.

This relationship not only helps to keep them engaged with what they are doing each week, but with their own performance and career development.

With frequent 1:1s we can ask the question are performance reviews necessary?

They are time consuming and subjective, but if you are up to date with each individual, what is the necessity for a performance review every year, where you are forced to remember what you have been doing for the 3 months, 6 months and year previously. Checking frequently removes that pressure on one review and keeps employees connected to what they are doing on a weekly basis. 

Similarly, a mere quarterly check up is not substantial enough to really gage how people are doing.

So if you haven’t already, try a 1-2-1 with your direct reports today.

Want to find out more?

Follow us on @gemotivii

Conflict in the workplace, the elephant in the room?

We’ve all been there in the office when conversations got a bit heated, more often than not you are glad you aren’t involved. But sometimes conflict happens and it happens to you: perhaps someone has shut down the best idea you have ever had for the business, a political remark gets misinterpreted, or something just makes you or your colleague snap.
 
Conflict happens… so here is some advice!
 
When you feel like you might be falling into a disagreement with one of your colleagues, take a second, breathe.
 
Allow yourself to listen to what that person is saying before interjecting with your own counter-argument. Conflicts don’t always have to be about proving that you are right and they are wrong… they can be about listening to another perspective.
 
Often we want to rush conflict because we find it unpleasant or because we don’t think it is worth our time. However, rushing in or speaking over someone not only serves to invalidate their position but also might say to them that you invalidate them as a person and humiliate them. Invalidating them as a person can lead to deeper problems in your working relationship, which could otherwise be avoided.
 
Likewise conflicts can create ill-feeling in companies. Arguments cause schisms in teams, where no one will remember what was argued about, but people are likely to remember who was involved.
 
When you have taken a second…
 
Model your answers on openness and curiosity, showing that you value and consider their position. This does not have to mean you agree with them. By taking time to listen rather than waiting to talk you may even learn about a unique point of view. Also by allowing our own views and ideas to be challenged we may even modify our own point of view or think in a new way.
 
Language and body language can also be important in dealing with conflict.
 
Aggressive language might ‘silence’ your opponent, but may harbour a less quiet form of resentment in them. When arguing a point try and stick to professional and formal language. While you may be extremely passionate about the issue, you need to make sure it doesn’t turn into a personal “attack”. Frame your language around what they are saying, not on who you think they are at that moment in time.
 
The best bit… Resolving a conflict.
 
There are many ways to try and sort out a conflict at work, often people try and let it blow over, or in really bad cases they quit.
 
All of these are ‘okay’ responses and there is no silver bullet. But sometimes, confrontation while it is often the most difficult response can also be the most constructive and positive.
 
Using online platforms can often allow for language and apologies to be misinterpreted. Try and sort out conflict face to face.While it may seem easier to apologise online and to avoid even more conflict…We have all sent a Slack/ Whats App/ Text message that sounded a lot harsher than it was supposed too. Once you’ve written something down and sent it, it’s very hard to delete. Similarly, we can hide behind written words and write things that you would never say to their face.
 
Timing is also everything, when is the right time to say sorry? To “agree to disagree”? Or to tell someone that they hurt your feelings?
 
Sometimes it is best to sleep on a conflict or argument rather than sending that email at 3 am. Resolving a conflict when tempers are still high may encourage arguments to escalate.Choosing the right time and location is key to maturely resolving a problem. The pub on a Friday afternoon in front of your co-workers might seem like a great idea at the time, but is not always the most constructive option.
 
Finding a calm and secluded place can be a useful way to discuss things. It can make the conversation about you, rather than about other people.
 
In summary, conflict at work doesn’t have to be that bad. There are many useful ways to deal with it when it is happening and in the aftermath. You never know, conflict may encourage breakthroughs in your relationships with your colleagues. 

Can you measure the impact of employee benefits?

In a sea of Employee Benefits providers at recent conference in London (EB Connect) you would think that a smart engagement platform such as Motivii would be somewhat out of place? Motivii does not provide employees with reasonably priced cars, health care insurance, a gym pass or other “employee benefits”.

So why did we attend? What connects Motivii with Employee Benefits providers such as Tusker, GymPass and Vitality?

Ultimately benefits are given to employees to make them feel more valued, add additional perks to the role, motivate people to work harder, stay with the company longer and improve productivity. However, with all the benefits that a modern employee get, measuring the impact these benefits is a nightmare; especially when different benefits motivate different employees in different ways.  One size does not fit all, and so far there has been no way to measure what “fits” different types of employees. Stereotypically, Millennials may be more interested in a gym pass and a TasteCard, whereas baby boomers might be more geared towards smart eye care and private health care. How can employers know what suits their employees without measuring this?

This is where a bit like Google Analytics measuring digital marketing, Motivii could help measure the impact that these benefits have on employees.

Our solution is simple: to understand the effect of benefits you have to ask your employees about them: frequently and in a democratic way.

This can’t be done through a show of hands or a flimsy survey question but rather there needs to be a smart automated ‘continuous listening process’ that can track impact engagement and motivation over time.

At Motivii, we can map and monitor the impact of employee benefits through encouraging employees to complete a weekly review, where they log in their motivation and focus levels for the week. They are asked what their top 3 highlights and challenges were and what they want to focus on the next week. Similarly they answer 2-3 pulse questions each week that are inspired by Gallup and Great Place to Work questions.

Organisations can add custom questions, such as “what do you think of benefit X?” or “what benefits would you like to see?” But, importantly, Motivii provides you with a platform where you can understand the impact that the benefit has on employees by looking at sentiment, engagement, word cloud analysis around the time of implementing the benefit.

Importantly this integrated smart engagement platform allows companies to monitor over time how their teams are doing before and after employee benefits have been implemented with very little admin or having to “send out a survey”.

We are excited to be working with a few of these benefits providers and their clients to better quantify what benefits have the maximum impact on your employees. Our suggestion is that organisations need to not just look at the benefit but also how they measure the impact of that benefit. Similarly we see a future where benefits providers can show future prospects the measurable impact of their particular service.

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Getting better sleep in 2017

So, what is so important about sleep anyway?

A good sleep is one of the most sought after resources in the world. It seems the more we yearn for it the less we get it. According to a study by the University of Hertfordshire 60% of Britons do not get enough sleep and sleep deprivation costs the American economy $411 billion in productivity. Loss of productivity relates to absenteeism, when people fail to turn up to work, but also presenteeism where people turn up to work and do not engage.

Not only is not getting enough sleep bad for productivity it also comes with some health concern. People who are sleep deprived are more likely to suffer from depression, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Similarly tiredness can impact decision making and may lead to impulsiveness which may affect people’s relationships, career, or even accidents on the road.

Create a sleep sanctuary.

The bed, a place dedicated to sleep, has been corroded in the modern era. How do we help it to return to the sanctuary that it is?

Unplugging your life-line: Removing your phone, tablet or laptop from your bedroom can help you disassociate work and worry from your sleeping ritual. Not only are phones and other electronic devices a part of your busy active life, they also use a blue light which disrupts your sleep hormones.

Keeping them out of the bed or bedroom allows you to leave the business of work behind, and helps you to focus on relaxing and psychologically transitioning into sleeping mode.

Lighting in your bedroom is also important, as light activates the brain and wakes you up. Scientists suggest making the most out of natural light in the morning and making sure that bedrooms are dark with thick curtains and dimmed lighting. You should consider using a light bulb that isn’t so harsh for your lampshade. Similarly, using a night mask might also help with blocking out any light that you can’t control.

Invest in a good mattress and pillows. Mattresses often have a lifeline of around 9-10 years, so investing in a new comfortable one might be worth it if it is going to help you sleep better. Most recent tech is an anti-snoring mattress which might help you and/or your partner get some quality uninterrupted shut eye.

Try and disassociate sleeplessness with your bedroom..

So if you are struggling to get to sleep in your bed, try and move to another room to do something that is not stimulating and will make you tired. If you associate your bed with sleeplessness it may be difficult to break the pattern.  

Lifestyle choices

We have all heard enough about what we should and shouldn’t eat this january. As dry January or Veganuary has taken its hold it is difficult to remember that eating healthily and not drinking alcohol is not just for show is not only good for our waist-line but also our sleeping patterns.

Scientists suggest that we should limit heavy food around 2 hours before we go to bed and should stay away from spicy food that might mess with our indigestion. Similarly, while alcohol might be useful to help us get to sleep but it will not keep us asleep nor will it be a quality sleep.

Caffeine is well known to keep us awake. It might be our lifeline through the day but when it gets to the afternoon it may also be our nemesis. The caffeine in our system can build up throughout the day and come to affect us later in the evening. Studies suggest that caffeine intake ( including tea, coffee and energy drinks) should be limited after 2pm.

Want better sleep? Activity is encouraged… Whether this is 30 mins a day in the gym or a 10 minute walk around the park at lunch. Activity and exercise is a necessary element to encouraging your body to feel tired.

However, it does matter when you do your exercise. It is suggested that you do it in the middle of the day rather than in the evening as exercise. Like coffee, exercise is a stimulant which can keep you alert for hours after you’ve finished. While libidos may decrease with sleep deprivation, sex is one of the only forms of exercise that can help you get to sleep.

 

Prepare yourself for sleep

The way that we prepare children for sleep, we must also prepare ourselves for sleep. Whether that be a hot bath, a few sprays of lavender on your pillow or setting up a dimmed lamp to read a novel. Slowing down activity up to two hours before sleep can help aid your brain into a relaxed state.

Relaxation, not sleep should be the goal.

While relaxation does not replace sleep it can also be a useful way for you to enter the realm of slumber.

In the period before sleep you can plan for the next day, write a to do list for what you want to achieve the next day, set out your clothes or even go through a mental list of what you have done that day and what you want to focus on the next day. Reflecting can be a great way to relax and close off.

By focusing on relaxation as a goal, rather than sleep, you can take the attention and worry away from it so it comes more naturally. Similarly, we should move away from the aim that we must get 8 hours to function. While, eight hours may be a recommended guideline: sleep is different for everyone and the quantity and quality differs from person to person meaning that focussing on the golden eight hours might actually be shooting yourself in the foot rather than putting yourself on the road to a good sleep.

So, while sleep is different for everyone, the benefits of it are indisputable.

Try and find what best works for you. Reflection can be a useful tool to understand how and why you want to get better sleep and can put you one step closer towards actually achieving what you want.

Setting objectives- a phenomena not just for January

So, we have left 2016- a year harangued by celebrity deaths and seismic political shifts, but have you taken the time to reflect on how it went for you? Did you achieve what you set out to, did you set any goals at all?

It might be almost half way through January,  but there is no time like the present to address your goals and objectives for now and the rest of 2017.

How do you want to succeed and progress as a person and in your career?

Start by pinpointing exactly what you want from work and how you can get there efficiently. Understanding what you want from your actions, and what you will gain, may be the first steps to actually getting there.

Make goals Specific

We set hard aspirational goals for ourselves that are often too broad to be attainable . But as David Kadevy reasoned “the bigger the goal the easier it is to give up on it.”

In light of this it may be useful to break our big goal down into smaller more specific objectives. Starting with specific and easy to achieve goals we can form goal completing habits that can be transferred into bigger objectives at a later date. Kadevy wanted to write a novel and was so overwhelmed by the prospect of it that he broke it down into writing a 100 words every day. The easier the goal, the more ridiculous it is to make excuses not to do it.

Big things happen because of small things, which means that if all you do is “go big,” you’ll never actually get to your goal.- Jeff Rodman, Polycom

For instance my larger goal may be to improve digital marketing at Motivii, but by breaking it down into smaller objectives over the course of the next three months I am more likely to reach my goal. For example, ‘Get clicks to the website up by 50% in three months time’, or ‘get 1,000 more followers on twitter by next March,’ or ‘get an article about Motivii on a well read online magazine’. The possibilities of these larger goals are endless but when broken down into bite-size steps that I can review and reflect on each week I am more likely to achieve them.

Set a time frame

Objectives may be long term goals or short term goals, but without setting a specific time period we often don’t follow through with our objectives. This might be signing up to do a half marathon in six months or completing a work-related project. Setting a time frame means that we HAVE to complete our objectives by a certain date – keeping us both motivated and accountable for our objectives. 

Share it with your manager

Studies show that when you share your objectives and goals with colleagues or managers you are more accountable for the outcome of them. Not only do you make promises to yourself, psychologically in your mind you’ve made promises to them too! Managers and mentors can be great supporters, especially if they have experience in your field and what you are working towards. Often when sharing your goals with your managers they become your biggest cheerleaders.

Making personal objectives that aren’t directly to do with work can help influence your work life and vice versa. Whether it’s going to the gym three times a week or getting clarinet lessons; setting up personal habits can help form good habits in the workplace.

Don’t forget to track the progress of your objectives and mark them off as done when you have completed them!

Ps. With Motivii you can now set objectives!

How to get that Christmas feeling all year round

Teams work well together around Christmas time, with busy social events and work to push for by the end of the year. The tight lipped conformity gets replaced with brandy and christmas sweetness. Yet why should the festive cheer and togetherness end after Christmas?

There may well be twelve days of Christmas, but there are also 12 months in the year…

Here are 3 tips to create that momentum all year round.

  1. Encourage rebellion and curiosity among your team

Conformity and monotony can kill the cat at work. Moving away from clear career trajectories for your employees can create impetus for change and innovation. Inspire new employees not to concentrate on just performance and career-led goals, but also to focus their attention on learning new knowledge and skills. A more well rounded employee who can code, and also help with marketing, will be more beneficial in the long run.

As Francesca Gino writes in HBR: “Of course, not all conformity is bad. But to be successful and evolve, organizations need to strike a balance between adherence to the formal and informal rules that provide necessary structure and the freedom that helps employees do their best work.”

Staleness in a company can not only encourage malaise among your workforce but also kill the company itself. In order for companies to survive they need to embrace uniqueness and adaptability. We only have to compare the likes of Apple and Google with the failures of Polaroid and Blackberry to see that moving away from the status quo into unchartered territory can help drive creativity among your team, and prevent the business from stagnating and revenue plateauing.

Celebrate unstructured work and rebellion amongst your workforce. For example, some CEOs allow developers to have a “create” week, where they go to work and they are allowed to use their skills to develop new things, not necessarily towards the product, but in the hope that it will ignite new curiosities and things they can add to the future.

By developing rebellion and curiosity in your team you can allow your employees to define their own mission, which in turn can help towards your mission as a team and as a company.

  1. Promote proactivity

Team building and away days can be seen as a routine Christmas present, but sport and physical activity amongst your team is important in and out of the office.

No one needs to be reminded of the benefits it does for health and productivity, but what really matters is how it can help your team increase general engagement and develop together.  

One of our plans for Motivii in the New Year is to take meetings outside the office, such as a walk around the park or the Thames river. One way you can do it is to convert your (rectangle) meeting table into a pop up table tennis table and play a quick game or tournament when concentration inevitably lulls on a Thursday afternoon.

3. Social events

Everyone looks forward to the Christmas party because it is a time for employees and managers to let down their hair down and gorge on mince pies and cheap red wine. But why should communication and engagement begin and end with the christmas party?

Organising breakfast and lunchtime catch ups can create an environment in which conversation is allowed and encouraged. Similarly if you promote flexible or remote working, social events can replace the much famed water cooler moments.

Moreover, it can be a good way to bind a team and know what they are up to outside of work. This doesn’t just mean relying on pub drinks every Friday, which can get repetitive.

By engaging your staff in finding out what they want to do, whether it be through an online poll or feedback session,  you might find that as a group you all like Indian food and/or have a shared love for Star Wars. The possibilities are endless, but inevitably if you never ask you will never know.  

Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017

We are almost at the end of 2016… some may be happy to see it go. A year harangued by celebrity deaths and seismic political shifts, but have you taken the time to reflect on how it went for you? Did you achieve what you set out to, did you set any goals at all? Now it is time to look to the future of 2017…How do you want to succeed and progress as a person and in your career?

Start by pinpointing exactly what you want from work and how you can get there efficiently. Understanding what you want from your actions, and what you will gain, may be the first steps to actually getting there.

Make goals Specific

We set hard aspirational goals for ourselves that are often too broad to be attainable . But as David Kadevy reasoned “the bigger the goal the easier it is to give up on it.”

In light of this it may be useful to break our big goal down into smaller more specific objectives. Starting with specific and easy to achieve goals we can form goal completing habits that can be transferred into bigger objectives at a later date.

For instance my larger goal may be to improve digital marketing at Motivii, but by breaking it down into smaller objectives over the course of the next three months I am more likely to reach my goal. For example, ‘Get clicks to the website up by 50% in three months time’, or ‘get 1,000 more followers on twitter by next March,’ or ‘get an article about Motivii on a well read online magazine’.

The possibilities of these larger goals are endless but when broken down, although they are not “easy,” they are measurable and achievable.

Big things happen because of small things, which means that if all you do is “go big,” you’ll never actually get to your goal.- Jeff Rodman, Polycom

Select a time frame

Similarly objectives may be long term goals or short term goals, but without setting a specific time period we often don’t follow through with our objectives. Setting a time frame means that we HAVE to complete our objectives by a certain date – keeping us both motivated and accountable for our objectives.

Share it with your manager

Studies show that when you share your objectives and goals with colleagues or managers you are more accountable for the outcome of them. Not only do you make promises to yourself, psychologically in your mind you’ve made promises to them too! Managers and mentors can be great supporters, especially if they have experience in your field and what you are working towards. Often when sharing your goals with your managers they become your biggest cheerleaders.

Making personal objectives that aren’t directly to do with work can help influence your work life and vice versa. Whether it’s going to the gym three times a week or getting clarinet lessons; setting up personal habits can help form good habits in the workplace.

Don’t forget to track the progress of your objectives and mark them off as done when you have completed them!