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!

Data vs HR… (Traditional HR is dying: Part II)

A few months back our CEO wrote about how HR is dying. The article had an amazing response, so we thought we’d continue the theme around HR and how data and analytics is changing how we listen to employees…

This year, Google beat Apple in the race to become the world’s most valuable brand in Millward Brown’s BrandZ Top 100 Rating.

The main reason stated? Continual innovation…

Whilst Apple seems to have slowed down in their supply of new innovative products, Google flooded the market with new inventions, ranging from Google Glass 2 to Google Cardboard – the down-to-earth VR headset. ‘Google’, however, is merely a brand name and it’s easy to forget the faces behind their consistent success. Continual innovation can only accelerate when there is a significant focus on employees and employee management. From a business angle, the department that is crucial in driving these innovations is the department that looks after employees, or in other words ‘HR’. If we examine the DNA of Google’s HR department we will realise that Google has the world’s only data-driven HR function. Renamed ‘People Operations’, its mantra states “All people decisions at Google are based on data and analytics.”

It makes complete sense; you wouldn’t base any other crucial business decisions on anything but data, so why should HR be the black sheep of the business? In order for businesses to drive innovation they need to take a leaf out of Google’s book and firstly innovate their HR department.

Human Resources, as a term, first transpired in the early 1900’s as a notion that saw workers as some form of capital asset. Just like machines or capital, humans were seen as a resource. For these reasons traditional approaches to HR Management tended to focus heavily on the enforcement of rules and a formalised structure with clearly defined power centres. Since then, HR has evolved in many ways and in most jurisdictions HR professionals recognise that people always come before systems and machines. What has remained stagnant, in a time of all this industry change, is the currency that HR professionals choose to trade. Focus lies too heavily on relationships and intangible things like feelings and opinions. A consequence of this is that too much of HR is poorly measured, or simply not measured at all.

Usain Bolt didn’t win nine gold medals by guessing his personal best and trying to improve on it. Simply put; we can’t improve areas of a business if we don’t measure them.

Data is measurable, but it is also intrinsically linked to time, and as time progresses the importance of data regresses. This is another issue with traditional models of HR; the frequency of its processes are far too episodic. Annual staff surveys are becoming as outdated as the data they provide. Continuous feedback will encourage a continuous learning environment where innovation and development can foster. Google found that managers who show an interest in their employees and commit to frequent and consistent feedback with each employee were the number one key success to retaining great talent.

What’s more, performance management research conducted by Deloitte has shown that companies who revisit employee goals each quarter or more generate 20% higher profits than those who do so annually.

So continuous employee feedback and people management is in your organisation’s best interest, as well as your employees.

Admittedly it would be difficult, and costly, to completely overhaul our HR departments and try to mimic Google’s “ People Operations”. Taking a People Operations approach to HR, we can use online tools like Motivii.

Motivii helps to retain employees by understanding what drives them. Instead of basing people decisions on guesswork and ‘fluff’, Motivii helps you to base them on data – just like Google. The power of benchmarking allows you to compare your organisation against the global average in six key areas, and you’re also able to compare how you are doing against yourself in the previous quarter. A two minute micro weekly-review ensures regular feedback is given, so decisions are based on what is happening real time, rather than seven or eight months ago. As an organisation in today’s over-saturated business landscape our people are our only real source of competitive advantage. We have to listen to what they are saying consistently, and be fluid in how we react to what we hear.

HR traditionalists may resist, because they won’t like the idea of having their long established methods reinvented. The reality is, times have changed and the way we do things needs to change too. Google is a household name and 2016’s most valuable firm, but you don’t need to be a ‘unicorn’ to use data in your people decisions and innovate the way you view HR.

Motivii is a platform which gives managers the tools to save time, improve feedback and boost performance of their team – Try it free for a month!

The Secret to Engaging Millennials – the Most Dominant Generation in the Workforce

In 2015, the ‘Millennials’ (those born between 1980 and the mid 1990’s) over-took the ‘Baby Boomers’ in population, making them the largest generation in Western history. The first generation to grow up alongside the rise of technology meaning they have no experience of a world where mobile phones, internet, cameras, blogs, or email did not exist. Their view of the world is fundamentally different to their predecessors; a smaller, interconnected global community where anyone anywhere is reachable. They also possess a high degree of technical savvy in the modern day’s fast paced, digital-fuelled society, and are accustomed to fast communication.

More and more Millennials enter the workforce each year. In fact Deloitte predicts that in ten years time 70% of the workforce will be Millennials. Business executives, CEO’s, HR professionals, marketers and managers all over the world are therefore keen to learn about Millennials behaviours and beliefs, because the strength of the marketplace depends heavily on what this generation can achieve. If they are not engaged at work then the profitability, productivity and innovation at their company will suffer. What’s concerning is that the Millennials are the least engaged generation to date; Gallup estimates that only 29% are engaged with their jobs. They’ve also grown accustomed to looking for job options elsewhere if their current job isn’t giving them compelling reasons to stay. This is a costly characteristic of the generation; Millennial turnover costs the US economy an estimated $30.5 billion a year (Gallup).

So how do we keep Millennials engaged and loyal to their current employer? Gallup’s How Millennials Want to Live and Work report found that performance management and a constant focus on regular feedback is a huge contributor and pays large dividends in engagement and performance.

Interestingly, 44% of millennial workers who meet regularly with their manager and give and receive frequent feedback are engaged, compared to just 20% that do not. This is a massive disparity, and illustrates how something so simple as regular feedback and meetings can drastically improve engagement amongst the workforce. In turn, higher engagement levels also lead to a host of other benefits including improved customer ratings, higher profitability and productivity, lower turnover, fewer safety incidents and lower absenteeism. Being strict with regular catch-ups with Millennials, or using fast-feedback tools (hint: Motivii) will drive engagement and ultimately allow businesses to reap the benefits amongst other factors company-wide.

In summary, Millennials have grown up with the ability to communicate with anyone instantly, and so they are much more likely to expect it in the workforce. The more conversations Millennials have with their manager, the more engaged they will become; these two components have become intrinsically linked. Businesses need to acknowledge this and those that do not listen, and still rely on annual or infrequent staff surveys and meetings, will fall behind as Millennials increasingly dominate the workforce.

How to create “Zen” in the office

Autumn Season 2/3-Had enough of feeling stuffy and unproductive in the office?

Here are 6 tips to create a zen feeling in the office…

  1. Air quality

Studies have shown that good natural ventilation can do wonders for performance. The World Green Council found that better air quality in the office can improve productivity levels from around 8%, to 11%. Natural air is not only good for health but also can be part of a greener incentive for your office.

2.Good Lighting

Poor lighting has been seen as a detrimental to the health of your employees and their mental health. A report from the university of Groningen found that Workplace lighting can, “in addition to providing sufficient light to conduct work-related visual tasks, affect employees’ alertness, mood, cognition, sleep-wake pattern and health”

3.Foliage

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Of course good design is a must, but in the day and age of startups and being constantly strapped for cash a plant or two can go a long way. Embracing natural surroundings and a “wall of plants” can do wonders for uplifting moods, as well as producing much needed oxygen for the stuffy office. Similarly, and perhaps far more interestingly, plants can absorb noise and refract sound through their stems. Instead of using office partitions consider using screen plants.

4.Declutter

Our offices becomes smaller as our love for kitschy items and technology increases.  However, the issue isn’t the space it is how we intend on using it.

  • Divide the workspace into zones and defined areas. The same with your desk.
  • Try and stop the catch-all cupboard or drawer filled with wires, pens, and old batteries that stopped working three months ago
  • Streamline your desktop so that when you start the new day fresh you are not bombarded with icons and clutter

5.Create a Break out area

Designate an area that is to be unassociated with work; it could be a place to do some reading, to eat lunch or for catching up with colleagues. This encourages employees to eat lunch away from their desk, and to be creative in a less constrained environment.

6.Promote proactivity

Organise half an hour football sessions, or turn your meeting table into a table tennis table. Sushi Friday and Latte Wednesdays may be useful to create connections in the office, but make sure they don’t become repetitive or sidelined for seemingly more important issues. The possibilities for work activities are endless and by communicating with your employees you can find out what they want to do to relax or ways in which you can reignite concentration when there are the inevitable lulls in the working week.

3 ways companies can turn disasters into success

 

When the world gives you oranges make orange juice… 3 ways leaders and companies can turn disasters into success….

In a world where the Lehman brothers can go bankrupt overnight, The UK can leave the EU and Trump goes from reality TV star to president, it is easy to fall foul to a cloud of uncertainty and despair.

While these things were seemingly beyond prediction, big economic and political change is a predictable and fixed part of our society and we have to accept this and move forward. But how do companies and leaders deal with the changes that happen suddenly and how can you ride the wave towards opportunity?

  1. Communication.

Change can trigger anxiety, decrease levels of emotional well-being and ultimately plague productivity. From communicating with your employees you can gage how they are feeling and react to big societal or company changes. Moving away from the “Remote” manager to the “Involved” manager you can show them that you care. You can use online feedback tools to get immediate realisations on how your team is feeling and use that feedback to implement certainty, and guide them through the highs and lows.

By watching and listening to your team you can see if behaviour changes or performance dips; with an insight of feedback you can create the mechanisms to dispel anxiety and create cohesion.

2. Preparation.

Sometimes you can’t prepare for big changes but in the aftermath, preparation is key.

You need to tell your employees what change means for them. Jeanie Daniel Duck reasoned in his book The Change Monster: The Human Forces That Fuel or Foil Corporate Transformation and Change, managers need to “interpret what’s going on for people and explain what it means for them in specific, concrete terms”. Providing your employees with information and creates a calming culture of shared knowledge and transparency. Preparation for the future might also mean training your team in some key areas so they are prepared for uncertain economic times and potential re-shuffles within your organisation.

Using the feedback from your team you can cement a roadmap for change and plan for how you will take the future on. Allowing everyone to be part of this new pathway, and creating a forum for suggestions and expression, emphasises a connectedness and creates a joint legacy for each member of the team.  

4. Interpret change as opportunity.

In the face of immense challenge and economic turbulence, all companies have the chance to prosper and expand. It’s about being positive and innovative and seeing the possibilities for continual improvement in each economic climate.

While it may be easy to fixate on the negatives, often the results of world events are out of our immediate control. By engaging your employees and creating a realm of job security, your employees can focus on the work ahead rather than sinking into inefficiency.

In summary, confidence and communicating with your employees will be more likely to breed success than indecision and silence.

What I am really thinking… Enter the Graduate Employee

 

A month in, what has it been like for the new graduate employee?

Here are my five top tips:

  1. Be assertive– If you feel like you have nothing to do, you probably aren’t working hard enough. If you don’t have anything to do, bite the bullet and ask someone. There is no point twiddling your thumbs waiting for someone to give you some work. Everyone may be too busy to remember to give you work, so don’t be shy or afraid to go mining for work.
  1. Communicate – Tell your manager how you are doing or request a one-to-one if you feel like you are losing direction or track. You can always tell your manager if you want more work or if you are struggling. Asking for help, or what may seem like a stupid question, should and will be interpreted as interest and progression. Communicate to yourself what you want to work on each week and take time to reflect on how your week went and what you want to achieve for the week ahead.

 

  • Say yes – To almost everything. By being curious and open to learning new things you can develop your skills in areas that you didn’t expect to. Your job title is fluid and your tasks won’t always fit into what you signed up for. Be excited about learning new things, for example If you start in a marketing job, why not say yes to learning about data and programming. Say yes to social and networking events; it can be a good way to learn about your company, other companies they work with and also how to meet new people.
  • People are just humanIn my first week and by the end of the first month I’ve been in the room, on the phone and working with companies who could be described as “scary” or “very corporate”, yet one has to realise that there are humans behind the corporate masks just like ourselves.
  • Be a rebel (within reason)Break away from conformity and make a pathway for yourself that deviates from the mediocre and unthinkingly acquiescent. Committing to the status quo will only commit yourself to boredom and malaise. By expressing yourself and being who you are you can explore your strengths and weaknesses.

 

 

P.S.A. HALLOWEEN SPECIAL: Do you have looming spectres in your workplace?

Some areas of work might seem a bit too spooky and scary to deal with. We’ve alligned some key areas with our favourite halloween monsters.

Here are a few tricks and treats to help solve the situation

(bit like magic really)

  1. Organisation- Dementer  triwizardmaze_pm_b4c31m1_dementorintriwizardmaze_moment  

Often in some companies turnover can be very high or fear their security in their own job. This can lead to people losing sight of the product or services they are providing. Organisation issues have to be remedied to help retain key talent.

Tips

  • Understand: what is your company’s mission, what is it trying to do, how do you feel about this? Value: what are the values of your company and do you agree and relate to these values. Customer: do you know what your customers think about you. Impact: What impact are you having on the above? How can you help improve things at work?
  • Identify and solve an organisational problem; a great way to advance your career is to identify a problem within your organisation and propose a solution for it. By offering to put your solution into effect you will increase your visibility as problem-solver within the organisation, whilst expanding your skills along the way.

2. Team- Wolves

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Sometimes in companies there can be lone wolves in the wolfpack, often leaving many employees to feel alone and like their work isn’t worth being valued by their colleagues. Similarly in the work environment it can be hard to create strong friendships outside the workplace. Team collaboration can be one of the most important areas in businesses succeeding.

Tips

  • Organise team building sessions: People work better together if they get along. It’s just part of our natural human instinct. As a manager it is up to you to organise events that will help foster relationships between your team. Big or small, formal or informal, everything counts.
  • Encourage and welcome advice: If relationships are suffering or you’re finding it difficult to work well with your team, ask your manager for advice. Rather than complaining about your colleagues, which likely won’t go down well with your manager, ask them for advice on how they think you could improve certain relationships.
  1. Communication- Zombies

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At time we can be left in the dark about where our company is going. Similarly without frequent two-way communication between employees and managers it is difficult to know when things are going well in terms of performance and also motivation levels at work. Often managers forget that employees, like their customers and clients, need support and attention to be the most productive and motivated to do the best job possible.

Tips

  • Don’t shy away from problems; If problems arise within work, don’t shy away from them; face them head on. Tell your boss when things aren’t going right, and communicate to them your prepared solutions. This will generate a faster, problem-solving conversation between you both and will nip the issue in the bud before it spirals into something bigger.
  • Make internal knowledge and documents easily accessible: especially important for newer employees, making internal documentation easily accessible is a great way of boosting communication and can even act as a training programme for new staff. Sharing files via Google drive or making them accessible on your company intranet is a good start.
  1. Wellbeing- Edward Scissorhands

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Long hours and lack of sunlight are no longer vogue in the modern workplace. Commonly in the workplace we are pressed for hard work rather than clever work, which can be detrimental to employees well being. Hard work often doesn’t allow employees to do what they are best at. For engaged employees, wellbeing and mindfulness should be respected and encouraged in the workplace.

Tips

  • Promote a healthy lifestyle: adopting a healthy lifestyle is a key element in improving your workplace wellbeing. For example if you’ve got a busy afternoon, a heavy lunch probably isn’t the best option. Nor is skipping it completely.
  • Drink lots of water: water is the key to a healthy mind and body. Make sure you drink enough and you have access to it at work. Get into the habit of having a glass or bottle at your desk
  1. Manager – Voldemort

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Managing can be hard, while we all know we need to better managing ourselves it can be difficult to manage other people at the same time. Some managers may find themselves too busy to give feedback to their direct reports. But they do not see the importance of giving praise to their employees. Similarly employees can often feel that ghost-like managers do not respect or value the work that they do, therefore they become disenchanted and disengaged with the tasks at hand.

Tips

  • Schedule catch-ups into your monthly routine: Town Halls, or simple monthly meetings, are a great way for everyone to share what’s happening and ask questions. This helps keep everyone in the loop. Motivii has recently launched a ‘Meeting Mode’ which would be really useful for these meetings; it summarises everyone’s weekly reviews into one page which you can all discuss together.
  1. Development- Chucky

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Sometimes the path of work can get a bit spooky and unknown. Without good managing employees can lack direction and development can be stunted. Without opportunities to learn and grow within a company a general malaise can settle and morph into prolonged discontent and stagnation.

Tips

  • Engage your manager in a career discussion; Talk to your manager about your thoughts for the future, and come together to create a clearly defined career
  • Attend courses to broaden your skills; once you have investigated what is necessary to achieve your career goal, start broadening your knowledge immediately. Attend courses and workshops that help deepen your knowledge and naturally accelerate the process to achieving your goals.