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Set Your Team Up for Success in 2022

 

Setting team goals helps your employees feel more invested in reaching company objectives. Because your team members play a part in creating the goals, they are able to develop their skills as they work toward common objectives. Collaborating along the way, refining the action plan, attaining the goals, and celebrating successes promote engagement and a sense of accomplishment throughout the process.

Use the following guidelines to help your IT team set goals for 2022.

Tie Team Goals to Company Objectives

Meet with your supervisor to discuss what the business priorities and performance expectations are for your team. Use this information to align your team goals with what leadership wants to see happen over the next 12 months. This will serve as a foundation for the action plan your team creates.

Use the SMART Format

Create team goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-driven (SMART). The more specific your goals, the more focused your team’s efforts will be. This helps measure your progress and create actionable plans to increase the likelihood of success. Be sure you divide the bigger goals into smaller, more manageable milestones that your team can monitor. Also, provide the necessary resources, skill training, and deadlines to reach the milestones. This helps with productivity, efficiency, and time management.

Help Your Team as Needed

Consistently check-in to ensure your team members are fulfilling their responsibilities and meeting their milestones. This may involve scheduling regular one-on-one meetings to discuss the goals and address any questions or concerns. Be sure to find out where your team members are in reaching their milestones. Also, provide feedback, advice, and individual training as needed. Encourage your team members to hold themselves and each other accountable for getting everything done on time. Their actions affect the individual and collective success of the team.

Follow Up

When a deadline passes, talk with your team about whether they achieved their milestone or goal. If they did, point out how their individual efforts contributed to the success of the company. Also, talk about what worked well, what did not, and how it could be improved for next time. Celebrate your team’s successes through recognition during a meeting, a gift from the company, or a team lunch. Or, if your employees still are working to reach a goal, help them update the action plan, milestones, and deadlines. Encourage your team to continue moving forward in the process.

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Effectively Improve Your Team’s Morale

 

Part of your role as a manager involves monitoring employee morale. The attitude, satisfaction, and overall outlook your team members have for your company affect their work performance. The higher their morale remains, the more engaged, productive, and loyal your team members are.

Implement these five tips to maintain high morale among your team.   

1. Prioritize Employee Recognition

Regularly acknowledge your team members’ achievements. For instance, thank them for something specific they did to add value to the organization. This may include their role in finishing a project, reaching a milestone, or attaining a company goal. Point out how their contributions benefitted the organization. Award additional vacation days, remote work days, bonuses raises, or promotions when appropriate.

2. Be Transparent

Openly discuss company news as much as possible. This includes updates, new protocols, company reviews, customer feedback, and challenges. Transparency is especially important when the company is experiencing problems or morale is low. Your employees will respect your honesty and be more inclined to help however they can.

3. Maintain Communication

Regularly check in with your team to see how they are doing. For instance, find out how they feel about you, their job, and their coworkers. Also, ask whether your team members are experiencing any problems and how you can help. Additionally, discuss whether they are happy with their work or how it can improve. Ongoing conversations about the things that matter to your team show you care about their happiness and success.

4. Request Feedback

Ask your employees for feedback on their roles and the company. They may provide suggestions to make their jobs easier or help you more effectively manage them. Or, your team members may have ideas to increase efficiency, save money, or help in another way. Implement the feedback whenever possible. Showing you listen to your team motivates them to stay engaged, productive, and loyal to your organization.

5. Offer Professional Growth Opportunities

Cover the costs for your employees to participate in professional development activities. This may include seminars, conferences, or networking events. Or, your team members may subscribe to industry magazines, purchase books on leadership development, or join an online class for skill development. Encouraging career growth provides your team with a sense of purpose while working to reach their goals.

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The Best Ways to Show Employee Appreciation

 

Expressing gratitude for your team members should be an everyday occurrence. The more valued and respected your employees feel, the greater their engagement and productivity will be. This increases retention and helps make you an employer of choice.

Choose among these five ways to show you appreciate your team members.

Directly Express Your Gratitude

Use verbal and written methods to show specific reasons you are thankful for your staff members. For instance, tell your employees exactly how their contributions to a project benefitted the company. Also, write a thank-you note expressing gratitude for a team member going above and beyond to provide value to the organization. Additionally, include more positive feedback in your employee reviews.

Begin Meetings with Appreciation

Highlight your employees’ recent accomplishments when you start a meeting. This may include career milestones, innovation, an exhibition of company values, or another display of excellence. Point out how your staff members’ hard work and results added value to the company. Thank them for their efforts. Encourage your team to continue their performance.

Provide Financial Rewards 

Your employees appreciate being given monetary rewards for their contributions. For instance, give bonuses when your team members have significant accomplishments. Also, provide additional vacation days after a busy period. Additionally, give out gift cards for birthdays or work anniversaries, during the holidays, or when your staff finish a big project.

Organize a Team Activity

Set up something fun for your team to do after a busy period or during a slow time. For instance, give your employees humorous coffee mugs to use at the office. Take your staff to a restaurant they enjoy. Or, arrange an in-office party to share food, beverages, and games on a Friday afternoon.

Include Advancement in Your Team Culture  

Offer opportunities for your employees to move up in the organization. For instance, provide regular training to gain the education and skills needed for higher positions. Also, offer a mentorship program for seasoned staff to provide career advice and guidance. Additionally, cover the costs for seminars, conferences, and other networking opportunities.

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6 Steps to Resolve Workplace Conflicts

As a manager, part of your job is to resolve team conflicts. Using honest dialog and modeling what it means to be a team player are key parts of the process. Involving your employees in finding a resolution encourages them to work together to find common ground and move forward.

Use these six steps as guidelines to resolve workplace conflicts.

1. Identify the Conflict

Find out what the problem is and when it began. Include which employees are involved, their beliefs about the issue, and which needs are not being met. The more details you uncover, the more you can help solve the problem.

2. Actively Listen to the Employees

Find a safe space for your staff members to talk about the conflict. Uncover why they are upset and what they would like done. Clarify what needs to be discussed and how everyone must be treated with respect. Emphasize the importance of honesty and finding a shared solution. Get to the root of the issue to avoid repeating it later.

3. Reflect on What You Heard

Think about what you learned regarding the issue. If you have questions or need additional clarification, have follow-up conversations with your staff members. Encourage them to talk with you if they think of anything else.

4. Create Common Goals

Encourage your employees to work together to find solutions to the problem. Have everyone share their ideas to move beyond the issue and not have it resurface.

5. Resolve the Problem

Find out which solution your staff members feel is best. It should include enough common ground to satisfy everyone. Include each staff member’s responsibility in carrying out the resolution. Have your team implement the answer to begin moving forward.

6. Follow Up

Set a time to get together to determine the effectiveness of the solution. Talk about whether the problem has been fully resolved or there are remaining issues to discuss. Take steps to find permanent answers and preventative strategies for the future.

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Improve Employee Engagement with Feedback

Feedback plays an important role in employee engagement. Your team members need to know what they are doing well, what needs improvement, and specific ways to do better. Having clear guidance that is broken down into simple steps makes it easier to take action. This encourages improved work performance.

Follow these guidelines to provide feedback that enhances engagement among your IT team.

Provide Feedback Channels

Different methods should be available to deliver feedback. The method chosen should be based on what the employee feels comfortable with or what the situation calls for. Examples include attributed or anonymous feedback, 1-on-1 or 360-degree feedback, individual or group feedback, and face-to-face or written feedback.

Clarify Expectations

Set standards for what feedback should look like and achieve. Consistently convey this message throughout the organization. Include who should give and receive feedback, how often it should occur, how feedback should be delivered, and what the goal should be. In addition, focus on giving both positive and corrective feedback in equal amounts to each employee.

Train on Feedback

Provide training and resources for appropriate ways to give and receive feedback. This may include watching videos with examples of effective and ineffective feedback interactions. In addition, you could involve your team in role-playing best practices for sharing and implementing feedback. Plus, consider training your staff to ask questions, request examples, and clarify meanings when being given feedback.

Lead by Example

Consistently demonstrate appropriate ways to provide and accept feedback. Because your team members typically behave in line with your actions, they are likely to handle feedback similar to how you do. Be sure you reinforce the actions you want to see from them.

Show the Results

When feedback is used to make a management decision, share the information with your team. Focus on what was brought up, why it was important, and how the information benefitted the company. Show that what your employees have to say makes a difference. This encourages them to continue to provide and implement feedback.

Include Feedback in Culture

Make feedback part of your company culture. This encourages employees to provide and accept feedback on a regular basis. Typical results include enhanced honesty, transparency, and work performance.

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Manager Focus: How to Improve Your Management Skills

Whether you are a new or seasoned IT manager, there are always ways to improve your skills. The more effective you are in your role, the higher your job satisfaction. And, the more impact you have on your team, the greater your chances of being promoted.

Implement these 7 tips to improve your skills as an IT manager.

1. Get to Know Your Team

Learn all you can about your team members both personally and professionally. This includes their personal interests, strengths, skills, work styles, and motivations. Use this information to talk about common interests, assign tasks, and encourage productivity. This promotes engagement and trust, resulting in a positive work environment.

2. Align Roles with Business Goals

Point out how each team member’s contributions impact company goals. Create a sense of shared responsibility in the team by explaining how and why their work is making a difference. This improves engagement and productivity.

3. Share Key Performance Indicators

Let your team know exactly how success will be measured when taking on a new project or initiative. Use key performance indicators (KPIs) to show what each team member should accomplish when the work should be done by, and what the results should look like. Use this information to determine whether your team is staying on track or needs to be guided back to reach the next milestone.

4. Adhere to Processes

Make sure your team members follow the processes in place to complete their tasks. Explain each step of the process and why it should be followed. Using the same method each time creates positive outcomes in an efficient and effective manner.

5. Increase Efficiencies

Involve your team in continuously finding ways to improve processes and workflows. Because things change over time, the way tasks are completed should evolve as well. Updating processes and workflows can increase their efficiency. This helps your team get more done in less time.

6. Encourage Innovation

Emphasize the importance of developing and enhancing your company’s products and services. For instance, regularly set aside time for your team to come up with ideas, discuss the most viable ones, and choose one to develop and implement. This increases engagement, job satisfaction, and retention.

7. Communicate with Your Superiors

Maintain regular contact with the leaders above you. This helps you better align with their goals. For instance, discuss whether their expectations for a project or initiative are feasible. If not, share your insight into what is possible given the current circumstances and the desired outcome. The leaders can either adjust their expectations or provide additional resources to reach their intended goals. Also, if unexpected events cause productivity to slow down, explain how the circumstances impacted the timeline and when the final result should be created.

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Finding the Real Reason for Employee Turnover

If your IT team is experiencing high turnover, simply replacing your staff will not resolve the problem. You need to get to the root of the problem in order to create lasting change. This will reduce the amount of time and money needed to find and retain top talent.

Here are three ways to uncover why your IT staff are leaving so you can improve retention.

1. Ask Questions

Find out the specific reasons why your IT team members are leaving. For instance, ask what they like and dislike about their job, what your team and company are doing well, and concrete ways you can improve. Encourage your employees to be as honest and candid as possible. Also, go through your current and former employee files to determine whether there are known issues within the organization. Problems such as ineffective onboarding, policies inconsistently enforced, or tensions with coworkers may have been discussed during exit interviews. Talk with leadership about this information and take action to improve.

2. Conduct a Survey

Hire a third party to survey your current and former IT staff about their true impressions of your team and the company. Clarify that all answers will remain anonymous. Look for themes in engagement surveys, stay interviews, and exit surveys to uncover reasons why your employees remain or leave. Perhaps the staff who left after a short time felt that additional training was necessary to do their jobs. Or, they did not receive enough recognition or see enough career development opportunities. Talk with leadership about implementing specific improvements to increase employee satisfaction. Share a follow-up survey to see how the changes impacted your team. Continue the process on a regular basis.

3. Evaluate Company Culture  

Determine whether there are issues with carrying out your company mission, vision, and values. Perhaps your IT staff feel they do not have a say in leadership decisions. Or, they may not believe that equity is evident in the organization. Compare the demographic data of your departing team members to the data from your assessment. Then, talk with leadership about how to resolve the problems. This may include the formation of employee focus groups to focus on specific areas for improvement first, then move to other areas later.

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Considering Workplace Flexibility? What Employers Need to Know

The ongoing need for stronger work-life integration is one reason why flexibility in the workplace is so important. For instance, allowing your employees to work during the hours they are most productive helps them remain engaged and accomplish more. Also, encouraging independent work as much as possible shows you expect personal accountability for finishing tasks on time. Plus, letting your team fit in personal responsibilities around their work tasks reduces burnout.

Discover some ways to provide flexibility for your IT team and how your company can benefit.

Personalized Workspaces

Suggest that your IT staff decorate their work areas to make them feel more personal. This may include displaying pictures of loved ones, using adjustable furniture, or adding plants to a workspace. Creating a unique work area increases engagement and employee morale.

Flexible Schedule

Allow your IT team to set their own work hours. Although they may need to start or end by a certain time while collaborating on a project, provide as much flexibility as possible. Your employees may be able to avoid commuting during rush hour, which reduces stress. Being able to control their schedule also increases daily attendance and efficiency.

Autonomy

Encouraging your IT staff to work independently increases productivity. As long as the work is finished on time and according to expectations, let your staff decide how and when they handle their projects. Having the freedom to complete their tasks with little supervision promotes confidence and trust.

Quality of Life

Your IT professionals experience greater life satisfaction when they can fit in personal responsibilities with professional ones. This may include participation in a morning fitness class to reach a health and wellness goal, attending their child’s ballet recital in the afternoon, or leaving work early one evening per week for a professional development class. Being able to fulfill personal interests during typical work hours increases job satisfaction.

Employee Retention

The more flexibility your IT team has, the longer they remain with your organization. Because employees want more control over fitting both their personal and professional responsibilities each week, they look for companies that provide perks in this area. Longevity among your team members results in lower costs to replace them.

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4 Tips for Difficult Employee Conversations

 

As an IT manager, there will be times when you need to address employees regarding performance issues, conflicts, or other difficult topics. Although this can be challenging, it needs to be done sooner rather than later. You need every employee functioning as a cohesive unit to keep the company moving forward.

Implement these four tips to effectively handle challenging employee discussions:

 

1. Include a Witness  

Ask a manager or HR professional to be present during your conversation. This is especially important when discussing policy violations, behavioral issues, or anything that involves disciplinary coaching. Brief your third party on the situation to make sure you understand each other’s roles and responsibilities before the talk.

2. Remain Positive

Maintain an open line of communication with a coaching style of dialogue. This helps the employee avoid becoming defensive and argumentative. Begin by asking simple questions such as “How’s everything going?” or “Can I have a few moments of your time to talk about some feedback about your behavior?” Clarify exactly what the issue is and specific examples of how the employee can improve. Include facts and data to support your statements. For instance, “I have some suggestions for what we can do. Can you share some ideas so we can reach this goal?” Provide the necessary tools, resources, and support to reach milestones for improvement and measure success. Finish the conversation on a positive note.

3. Tie the Issue to the Business

Point out how the issue creates a concern for the team or company. For instance, consistent absenteeism may mean that teammates have to add to their already full workload to ensure tasks get done on time. Or, a conflict with a coworker can make it more difficult for employees to collaborate on projects. This shows your main focus is on the company, not the employees’ personal lives. Work with the employee to create a plan to improve and a job-related consequence if they do not. Making the employee feel heard is empowering and encourages them to do better.

4. Maintain Confidentiality

When addressing a conflict between employees, keep the conversation limited to those involved. Make sure they understand that what they disclose may need to be shared with others. Meet individually with the employee you received feedback about and others who witnessed the incident to discuss their behavior. Use the information you gather to determine what happened. Work with the employees to find a fair resolution. Hold everyone accountable for keeping with the final agreement.

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How to Create a Positive Team Culture

 

As an IT manager, you understand the importance of teamwork. When your team members communicate and collaborate well, they are better able to do their work. However, blending employees with different talents and personalities can result in challenges. This is one reason why having a strong team culture is necessary.

Follow these 6 guidelines to build a desirable team culture.

1. Define Your Team Culture

Talk with your team about what your culture should look like. This is important because your employees’ actions, interactions, and attitudes impact the effectiveness of your success. For instance, your team culture may be defined by having a positive mindset both inside and outside the office. This creates a strong team synergy that minimizes conflict and increases success. Everyone performs better when they work as a cohesive group. Different ideas lead to solutions for problems. Shared visions let your team see the future.

2. Learn from Other Successful Teams

Explore how teams with proven track records communicate, collaborate, and solve problems. For instance, incorporate ideas from companies like Google, Southwest Airlines, and Zappos to develop your teambuilding procedures. These companies are among the most successful in engagement, productivity, and goal attainment.

3. Encourage Collaboration

Instill in your team culture the importance of collaboration. Use your enthusiasm, self-discipline, and strengths to serve as a guide for teamwork. For instance, trust your team members to make hard decisions when you are away. Encourage them to discuss how you would handle a situation and carry out an appropriate plan of action.

4. Emphasize Your Company Mission and Core Values

Work with your team to create a list of team values based on your company’s mission and core values. Include in the discussion what everyone’s most important personal values are. Find out whether the same values impact their professional success and whether they would look for these values when hiring employees. Also, talk about what your team would not tolerate in the workplace. Use their answers to set team standards for job performance, customer service, and related issues.

5. Clarify Your Expectations

Explain to your team what you expect from them all of the time. Examples include honesty, accountability, commitment, conflict resolution, and pride in top performance. If your expectations are not being met, privately talk with the employee about the issue. Find out what it causing the problem and how you can help. If the employee does not want to set goals for improvement, assume responsibility, or respond to feedback, they may need to find another source of employment.

6. Continue to Build Your Team Culture

Use positive reinforcement to maintain your team culture. For instance, provide real-time feedback and coaching to help your employees maintain professional growth. Also, encourage your team to get involved in local charity events. Plus, organize employee family activities one weekend per month.

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