Blog

How to Help Your IT Team to Remain Focused During Long Projects

Any team will look at a deadline that’s six, nine, or 12 months away and see it as a distant problem. These kinds of deadlines always feel like plenty of time to complete a project. 

Yet, those months can disappear quickly. And it’s your job to ensure that your team doesn’t find themselves two weeks away from a six-month deadline with six months of work left to do.

How do you keep your IT on task even on a long project? Use these tips to help stay on track and deliver better results.

Break It Down into Milestones or Sprints

Achieving a goal always sparks motivation. But what do you do if the overall goal is a year or even more away?

While the work completed today will contribute to the end goal, your team need to see results sooner to stay focused. That’s why “chunking” work into milestones (or sprints, if you want to dabble in Agile) wins the day.

When you set milestones, you mark the passing of time in a tangible way. Reaching those milestones equates to an accomplishment and thus boosts morale. Even better, smaller segments of work simplify planning, so you can get the project off the ground faster.

Reiterate the “Why” as You Work

Why are you completing this project? And why does this milestone fit into the end goal?

If you want to keep teams focused and motivated, then you need focus as much on the “why” question as on the task at hand. When team members know why they need to accomplish a task or even why the deadline is what it is, then they will be more likely to see the value, which will stop their attention from drifting to other work.

Give Frequent Feedback

Milestones also make it easier to provide regular feedback to all team members. Feedback offers emotional motivation by boosting our sense of self-esteem. When teams get good feedback regularly, they want to keep repeating the actions that earned those feelings.

Are you looking for the next valuable member of your project team — or even your team lead? Learn more about the RighStone 360 process and find out how we make IT project execution a success.

 


3 Tips to Keep Remote Employees Productive without Micromanaging

Many businesses didn’t choose to go remote in 2020: it became the only suitable option overnight. As a result, there was no time to prepare a remote management plan or brush up on new skills.

If you have micromanaging tendencies, then you may have found them stretched during the past year. But micromanaging is just as counterproductive out of the office as it is when you’re co-located. Micromanaging leads to poor morale, a lack of confidence, and stress, which all contribute to lower productivity and higher turnover.

How do you make sure employees remain productive without getting in your own way? Use these tips for remote management inspiration.

Use Team Management Software

Clear, measurable goals are the ticket to productivity. When you have a good team and a crystal clear deliverable, you can almost count on it getting done.

To help you avoid micromanaging a project — even one with a defined goal — use goal tracking systems, like team management software. The right software enables you to see where your team is at a glance, which cuts down on wondering, emails, and unnecessary Zoom calls. 

Software also makes teamwork more transparent, so members of each team can see where their colleagues are and collaborate easier. There are plenty of options out there, from enterprise systems to freemiums like Asana. Just be sure to choose the right one for your team’s needs and get them onboarded so they can hit the ground running.

Provide a Daily or Weekly Focus

If you find yourself wondering what your team is up to, then your team may not have a focus. Make life simpler for everyone by pulling out a daily or weekly focus for each goal and communicate it with the whole group. Make the focus clear and ensure it ties into the overarching effort.

Using this method not only helps you stay on top of what’s happening in the short-term, but it helps keep employees on track even when other projects may be calling their name.

Tip: Weekly focuses tend to work best for longer projects or sprints. If there’s a pressing project or need, you might use a daily goal.

Build Relationships Based on Trust

No system or method can save you from micromanaging if trust isn’t the foundation of your working relationships. You have to earn trust, and it takes hard work. However, it is the best way to avoid relying on harmful management tools and boost productivity overall.

Remember: you set the standard for behavior. So if you want to earn trust, you need to give it. Check out this research from the Kellog School of Management on what it means to build trust and build a stronger remote organization.

Is the missing piece of your productivity puzzle a new employee?

RightStone can help you build the remote team you need to exceed your goals in 2021. Get in touch to learn more about the RightStone360 process.


Redeeming a Bad Hire – What to Do When You Hire the Wrong Person

As HR professionals, you look for the holy grail in candidates: the candidate with the right background and who will also fit naturally into the company’s culture. 

To get there, you’ll sort through candidates with the experience but who won’t thrive at the company and those candidates who will win over all their colleagues but don’t have the skills needed to fulfill the organizational strategy.

Every hiring manager will hire the wrong person at some point. It’s what you do after you realize your mistake that counts.

Three Tips for Redeeming A Bad Hire

Don’t Fire Them Just Yet

The simplest solution to a poorly-performing new hire is to fire the employee. While simple, it’s rarely the right choice.

If your hire fits into the company culture and is a competent worker, then it’s a much better use of your resources to figure out how to support that employee. You might invest in upskilling, further education, or even transitioning them to a different role or team. But it’s rarely prudent to sever the relationship. With a little thought, they can repay the investment and be a real benefit to the company.

In the event the employee is tough to redeem both culturally and professionally, then it may be smart to part ways.

Trust your gut and once you make a decision, act on it.

Work with the New Hire to Play to Their Strengths

When you decide to transition the new employee, it’s important to work with them. If they aren’t a fit for their current role, then they probably know it.

Now is the time to decide whether to invest in their current role or transition them to a role where they will add more value. You can’t do this without working directly with the hire.

Talk to the new employee about what they think their strengths and weaknesses are. They may be able for their role with some skill development. Or you may find their woes are the result of a missed step in onboarding.

Use this knowledge to help the employee embrace their strengths.

Rethink Your Recruitment Process

Everyone makes a bad hire at least once, but if you find yourself in the position repeatedly, then there’s likely something awry in your hiring process.

Reassess everything from the job description to the onboarding process to look for weaknesses. Ask company leadership and direct managers for their input in the process. If you still face a loss, get outside help.

Looking for Help Finding the Right Candidate? Contact Us!

Are you struggling to place the right candidate? Let RightStone help. Our RightStone 360 process uses quality control checks at every part of the engagement to place qualified consultants with the right role every time.


How to Streamline Your Onboarding Process

As hiring managers, you know your onboarding process is instrumental in every new worker’s success. Finding ways to improve it not only lowers the cost but improves the value of every new hire.

At the same time, streamlining your onboarding process isn’t solely reliant on technology – though, technology does play a role.

Instead, you can make your onboarding program more effective by addressing the most common problems with the process and measuring your results.

Make the Process Digestible

Too often, onboarding is a combination of orientation, on-the-job training, and diving right into work. New employees and existing teams benefit most when you define the process and its parts and break each piece down into manageable portions. This becomes increasingly important as you recruit new Gen Z talent, who have short attention spans but great recall.

Breaking the onboarding process down into something easier to digest doesn’t streamline the process in the sense that it makes it immediately faster. Rather, it shortens the time it takes to produce effective, confident employees, and that’s the goal of onboarding.

First, pull out the parts that are company orientation, onboarding, and practical experience. Define them, separate them, and organize them in a way that tells a story without becoming long-winded.

Second, break down each process into bitesize pieces. No one benefits from spending all day in a conference room. Use categories to help the pieces fit together like a puzzle. Technology does a great job of helping you deliver paperwork and core, standardized training.

Finally, use a realistic timeline. It takes six months for new workers to feel they have enough information to feel useful in their organization. So don’t feel the need to have new hires onboarded in two weeks or less.

Use Mentorship

Your new team members won’t transition from onboarding to an employee ready-to-charge, no matter how comprehensive your program is. One way to help that transition along is to build mentoring into your onboarding program.

Mentorship creates a positive experience for new hires, which helps engage them sooner. Their mentor also lives the company values and expectations, so new candidates have a better idea of what to expect when their training period ends.

Finally, mentors serve as an easy, comfortable reference point for new candidates. New employees will always have questions: they won’t always know who to ask or feel it’s appropriate to reach out. Mentors give them a specific point of reference and a bridge to other employees or departments who can also provide answers.

Measure Your Success

What’s working in your onboarding program? What isn’t working? If you don’t measure your new hire experience, then you have no idea how it works. And having no idea means your onboarding program will never be as streamlined.

You measure your onboarding success throughout the first year of the candidate’s work. Some of the key metrics include:

  • Employee happiness
  • Turnover
  • Job satisfaction

Make the Onboarding Experience Human

While technology can help you streamline the onboarding process, your first goal is to make it more human. By adapting onboarding to employees’ modes of learning, acknowledging that learning continues over months, and measuring your success across the first year, you’ll find it easier to refine your process and impress new hires.

Are you looking to hire in 2021? RightStone’s 360 quality process can help you land qualified candidates who are ready to dive in. Get in touch to learn more.


Setting 2021 Goals for Your Team

The year 2020 is almost over and few people aren’t glad to see the back of it. Next year could be equally challenging, but here are lessons you can carry from this year into 2021.

One of those lessons is the importance of setting goals for your team. Goals help focus and maintain momentum, even in the midst of chaos. However, you need to choose these goals carefully.

Are you putting together a vision for 2021? Use these tips to set goals that will inspire your team in 2021.

Prioritize Your Team’s Vision

You have an idea of goals to choose from, but do your team members agree?

It’s difficult to motivate teams to do something they have no interest in or don’t see its value. So your first task is to figure out what your group wants to achieve. Once you understand that, you may find it helpful to develop a vision statement that reflects your team’s position. You can use this to reflect on when you set goals and when you reevaluate throughout the year.

Defining goals based on the team’s vision is key. Once everyone is on the same page, it’s much easier to pull in the same direction as one team.

Connect Team Goals to the Organizational Strategy

More and more, employees derive satisfaction and motivation from knowing they’re contributing to something bigger than themselves. Most employees work at your company because they believe in what they do. It’s not the day-to-day operations that drive them but the bigger picture.

Lean into this motivating factor when developing your goals. Identify those instances that connect with the organizational strategy. In other words, ask, “What is everyone here to do, and how does our team take the organization one step closer to achieving it?”

Choose Measurable Goals

A goal you can’t measure isn’t a goal at all. Measurable goals are specific and include precise details: usually, you’ll focus on numbers. For example, “improve customer retention” is a good goal, but it’s hardly measurable unless you choose to “improve customer retention by 10% in one year.”

Keep in mind that your goals should be achievable with the resources available. They can require extra effort, but your projections should always be realistic.

Goal Setting Requires More Than Numbers

Setting and achieving goals in 2021 demands more than picking a KPI and throwing it against the wall. To motivate teams and keep them working together, you need goals that inspire teams to do their best work, even when they’re apart. These are aligned with your vision, connected to strategy, and inherently measurable.

Are you looking to add new team members in 2021? RightStone can help you find someone who fits into your team’s strategy. Get in touch to learn more about the RightStone 360 process.


Political Divisiveness in the Workplace – How to Set the Right Tone for Your Team

Politics is everywhere right now. It’s on yard signs, billboards, and it dominates every form of media. There’s no doubt that tensions are high and likely will remain so even after the election ends. Denying it is impossible. So, what do you do at work?

Talking politics at work is a bad idea. HR says, “Don’t do it.” Leadership says, “Steer clear.” But do the old rules still apply?

It’s impossible to avoid politics altogether. Rather than stamping it out, you need to learn how to manage it.

First, Set Ground Rules for Everyone

If you aren’t aware of your company’s rules around political statements, refer to the HR handbook. If you don’t have any rules, now is an excellent time to set them. The key is to make sure the restrictions apply to everyone equally.

An essential ground rule is to ban political paraphernalia in the workplace. That means no candidate or political party t-shirts or hats or even laptop stickers — not even the ‘funny’ or ‘jokey’ ones. Everyone can have their political views, but they can save their physical expression for nights and weekends.

Keeping these out of the workplace will help prevent colleagues from sitting across the office and seething, which will prevent feelings from bubbling over at the water cooler.

A second rule required for these divided times is the rules governing when to walk away. If a discussion or question becomes a debate or confrontation, then all employees must walk away — no exceptions.

Keep Protections for Labor Speech

Remember that while you can end political debates during work hours, there is legally protected speech as defined by the National Labor Relations Act.

Employees can discuss wages, working conditions, and unions. You can get in trouble for putting the kibosh on these discussions, so make sure everyone knows what’s appropriate and what isn’t.

Remind Everyone of the Policies on Harassment

You can create a culture that avoids confrontation and encourages respect. However, you should also make sure you share resources if some employees can’t meet those standards.

Remind everyone of the rules on harassment, intimidation, and bullying — both online and offline. Create an open-door policy for anyone experiencing any of the above and make it clear to the entire team. 

No one has the right to harass or bully anyone else due to their political beliefs, so it’s vital that everyone knows what your behavioral expectations are and that they have support if it does happen.

Political Speech Happens, But You Can Still Control It

The year 2020 is not a time when employers can ban political speech and call it a job well done. People will talk about politics at work. Your role is to ensure that you create an environment that avoids confrontations, sets behavioral expectations, and upholds the right to protected speech.

These may be unprecedented times, but life and business go on. If you’re looking to add quality IT professionals to your team, RightStone can help. Get in touch to learn about the RightStone 360 process.

 


Delivering a Negative Performance Review – 4 Ways to Turn It Around

No one wants to critique an employee’s negative performance. And no one wants to get a negative performance review. But if an employee is slipping and hasn’t self-corrected, there is no way around it. 

Performance reviews boost productivity and drive engagement. A negative performance review can do that, too, if you frame it correctly.

Here are four ways to deal with an employee who is missing the mark without sending them into a downward spiral.

Start with a Self-Assessment

The worst part of a negative performance review tends to be the surprise with which it is met. If the employee thinks things are still going okay or if they’re trying so hard to tread water that they don’t see their performance, then hitting them with criticism can do lasting damage.

One way to ease into the process is to give your employee a chance to take a lead. A self-assessment gives you both a clear, honest idea of where they think they are and how they perceive their work.

Then, you can find places to naturally start a conversation. Plus, it allows you to see if their performance has less to do with failure and more to do with a difference in expectations.

Identify and Develop Strengths

No one is good at everything. Everyone learns and grows differently. These two principles are important to keep in mind during your performance review.

So rather than focusing solely on what’s going wrong, look for the reasons why, and start asking whether it’s an issue of you prioritizing your employee’s strengths.

Remember: you can’t ask a marathoner to sprint or vice versa without seeing a drop in performance. It doesn’t mean their not a good employee. It just requires realigning roles and expectations.

Use Your Emotional Intelligence

Your ability to deliver bad news has less to do with the message and more to do with your delivery. You’ll rely heavily on your emotional intelligence as you navigate the review.

One of the most difficult things you’ll learn to do is manage your own expectations when your employee doesn’t just have bad habits — they’re also a problem employee.

It’s important to stay calm and collected regardless of what way the talk goes. You don’t want to inflame the situation because no one wins.

Frame It as a Chance to Succeed

The only thing worse than getting a poor performance review is knowing that you’ve been doing something wrong for weeks — or even months — and no one told you.

So rather than framing a negative performance review as something ‘bad,’ reframe the whole experience as a chance to succeed. If you can reframe it in your mind, you will not only be able to better deliver the news, but you’ll dread it less and won’t feel as drained afterward.

Negative Performance Reviews Can Be Positive Opportunites

No one becomes a leader so they can dole out criticism all day. Unfortunately, it’s part of the territory. However, you can deliver these reviews in a way that creates an opportunity for growth for both the employee and the whole team.

Are you looking for IT professionals to join your team and execution your vision? RightStone is placing quality IT consultants right now. Get in touch to learn more about the RightStone 360 process.


Managing a Remote Workforce- Leading at a Distance

In 2019 and early 2020, articles about remote work were still in the ‘what if’ phase. Back then, 55% of businesses worldwide allowed for remote work in some shape or form — and only 4.7 million people were already working at home. 

If you find yourself leading from a distance, or are looking for a new leadership role in this climate, use these tips to help settle in and support your team as you all adjust to this new style of work.

Express Yourself Visually

What says “good job” more effectively? A short email that simply says, “good work” or a funny GIF or emoji? Very often, animations communicate feedback better than text because they pick up on the non-verbal communication you miss out on when you work remotely.

So, use emoji replies on Slack, send GIFs in an email, and do it consistently.

And don’t forget to reiterate your praise on video calls. It means more than you think.

Build in Time for Conversation

When you’re all at home, it seems prudent to hop on a call, talk about what needs to happen, and then get back to what you were doing. Running a meeting or call this way makes it very transactional, and that’s not good for your team.

You need to build relationships with your team members as people, so build time for chatting into your meetings. It will help you get to know your team, build rapport, and indicate what issues your team are having before they become problems.

Trust Your Team

If you don’t trust a member of your team, then you shouldn’t have hired them. But since they’re here, you should know you can rely on them.

You don’t need to rely on blind trust. Instead, set your expectations early and make them clear. Then, everyone is on the same page, and no one is left waiting for a deliverable.

Focus on Goals Rather Than Activity

A big problem managers face when leading remote teams is their emphasis on activity. They think: what if they aren’t working for eight hours? How can I tell?

The truth is that your on-site employees aren’t engaging in work activity for every minute they’re at the office either. The only difference is that you can drop in on them.

Rather than getting hung up on minutes worked, focus on goals. Is the work getting done? Is it on time? Is it of the quality you outlined in your expectations? If the answer to those questions is yes, then you have a productive team.

Get Ready to Lead Remotely

Today, everyone who can is by-and-large working from home, and leaders are leading from home. Learning to manage a remote workforce is very different from getting to grips with telecommuting tools. You need a whole new style that accounts for the lack of literal facetime.

Are you looking for your next leader, or needing to hire for a remote team? Get in touch to learn about our fine-tuned process for placing skilled IT professionals.


You Can’t Find the Right Candidate, Now What?

You’ve been on the hunt for the right person to fill a desperately needed role for months or even a year. Is the right person out there? If they are, why haven’t you found them yet? 

When you can’t find your next hire, you may wonder what to do next. Should you settle for someone competent but not quite right? Review all the candidates you passed on already? 

As HR experts, we know how difficult finding the perfect candidate can be. So, we’re here with some expert hiring advice. 

Take a Second Look at Your Job Posting 

You have been through all your applicants twice and still no luck. There’s a chance that the right candidate is out there, but they aren’t applying because your job description doesn’t speak to them. Or maybe, your list of requirements scares them off. 

If you can’t find anyone after a few months, it’s time to reevaluate your job posting. Do you have a certification that’s hard to find and nice to have but not required to do the job? Is there something in there you could provide to the right candidate once they come on board? 

What about the job description itself? Is it long, difficult to read, and full of unnecessary details? Again, you could be scaring them away. 

Talk to your leadership, HR, and your recruiters to figure out what can change to help you attract the right candidate. 

Evaluate the Competition 

The IT skills shortage is now almost a way of life, but there are some companies that seem to win the right candidates every time. If you’re not one of them, it’s time to ask why because the answer isn’t always about money. 

If you have an in-demand position, figure out what your competition offers. You don’t always need to match it or beat it, but it will show you how to make your post stand out to the candidate’s recruiters are fighting over. 

Tip: Millennial and Gen Z candidates are more concerned about culture than salary. Many employers make their companies look like great places to work in their job listings. Does your post make your company an attractive place to work?  

Consider Upskilling Your Current Staff 

Why go through the hiring process every time you need a new skill when you could develop value within your existing team? If you need hard skills but can’t seem to find a cultural fit, then this is a great time to pick out and develop a qualified internal candidate. 

Finding the right candidate is never easy, but the IT skills shortage and the deep pockets of the competition can make it that much harder. That’s why it’s important to have great allies. Get in touch to learn how RightStone can help you find your next best employee. 


Upskill Your Workforce and Bridge the Skills Gap

Finding new candidates who have highly sought after skills is challenging. Competing for them is even tougher. But you don’t need to join the pile and wrestle your competition for every single new candidate. Instead, you can bridge the skills gap by upskilling your employees. 

 Upskilling allows you to train your current team in these in-demand skills while keeping them in the same role. 

You Can’t Hire Your Way Out of the Skills Gap 

One reason upskilling (and reskilling) is so important is because it’s physically impossible to hire your way out of the skills shortage. The problem is too vast, and in-demand skills change too rapidly to ever keep up. One statistic says only 20% of today’s workforce has the skills needed for 60% of the jobs that will arrive over the next five to ten years. 

What’s more, hiring for technical skills won’t necessarily work. You can teach or pay for upskilling in cybersecurity or engineering.  But finding those candidates doesn’t mean that they’ll also offer essential soft skills, like communication and creative thinking. And those things can be much harder to teach. 

Upskilling Contributes to Professional Development 

Surveys suggest that employees are already upskilling, but they’re doing it on their own time and without support from their employer. You might think that’s good news, but it’s not. 

Employers who don’t offer the kind of professional development that keeps teams learning, growing, and preparing for the future find themselves with unengaged employees.  

Employee engagement is critical for your business’ success, but as many as 70% of employees aren’t engaged at work. Disengaged employees are less likely to be invested in their work, and when they do upskill, they’re more likely to take all their handy new skills to your competitor. 

By actively pursuing upskilling programs, you’re making your current employees more valuable to your company and you’re making them feel more valuable. You’ll see that value quickly: companies with engaged employees have revenues that are 2.5x those companies with low engagement levels. 

The Best Time to Upskill is Now 

Upskilling your employees will help you bridge the technology skill shortage and make you more competitive. Not only does the practice address the root of the problem, but it’s also a valuable investment in your company’s biggest assets: your workers. 

So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to start thinking about your plan for upskilling to complement your hiring practices. 

Are you looking for the right expertise for your team? Ready to add new skills? Want to know how we find and place skilled candidates with the clients who need them? Get in touch to learn how our RightStone 360 program can help you do all of the above. 

 


  • 4975 Preston Park Blvd #550, Plano, TX 75093
  • 972-895-2555
Military Spouse Employment Partnership Forbes America's Best Temporary Staffing Firms 2020