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5 Ways to Help Keep Communication Channels Open

 

Maintaining open communication with your employees encourages them to share their ideas to improve the organization. Open communication also notifies you of problems, conflicts, questions, and concerns that must be resolved.

Encouraging open communication with your team promotes engagement, productivity, and collaboration. It also elevates job satisfaction, employee morale, and retention.

Implement these five tips to maintain open communication with your team.


1. Focus on the End Goal

Maintaining open communication with your team lets you know about problems as they arise. This helps you resolve the issues and minimize their impact.

Open communication makes you aware of ideas to improve your team. This may include increasing efficiency in workflows.

Openly communicating with your team helps improve your leadership skills. You can learn your employees’ strengths, talents, motivations, and goals. Then, you can use this information to increase your team’s engagement, productivity, and collaboration. This elevates job satisfaction, team morale, and employee retention.

2. Be Present

Stay in the moment when communicating with your team. Actively listening to your employees encourages them to talk about their ideas, issues, questions, and concerns.

Look at the employee who is speaking with you. Show they have your complete attention.

Nod, gesture, and use facial expressions throughout the conversation. Include responses such as “yes” and “uh huh” to show you are listening. Ask follow-up questions to gather more information.

Paraphrase what you are hearing to ensure you understand it correctly. You may want to say, “What I am hearing is…” or “Am I correct in thinking…”.

Wait until your employee is done speaking. Then, respond appropriately.

3. Encourage Team and Individual Communication

Although communicating with your entire team is important, there may be times when your employees prefer to talk with you one-on-one. They may feel more comfortable privately discussing a personal matter than sharing the details with the team.

Encourage your team to request individual discussions when needed. They may want to share an opinion that differs from the team’s opinions on how to proceed with a project. Or, there may be a family issue that could affect your employee’s work performance.

Show empathy and support during these private discussions. Work with your employee to resolve the issue however you can.

4. Acknowledge Employee Accomplishments

Give your team credit for their work. This includes when an employee’s idea is successfully implemented or a finished project attains the desired results.

Openly acknowledging your employees’ contributions and impact on the organization shows they are valuable members of your team. This promotes feelings of trust and respect. It also increases team collaboration and cohesion.

5. Request Constructive Feedback

Ask your team for input on your performance. Include what you are doing well and specific ways you can improve.

Talk more in-depth about the answers you need clarification on. The greater your understanding of an issue, the more effectively you can resolve it.

Implement the feedback you feel would be most beneficial. Regularly follow up with your team to discuss your progress.

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Work-Related Team-Building Activities That Enhance Morale

 

Employee morale consists of the attitudes, satisfaction levels, and overall outlooks that employees have while working for a company.  Employees who are satisfied and motivated at work tend to have high morale. They typically stay engaged and productive throughout the day.

Employee morale is an important part of company culture. A positive collective attitude creates a positive work environment. This helps increase employee retention.

As an IT manager, employee morale impacts your bottom line. This is why you need to do what you can to keep morale as high as possible.

One way to accomplish this is by organizing work-related team-building activities. Employees who participate in shared experiences tend to increase their engagement and connection in the workplace. This typically elevates collaboration. The more effectively your employees work together, the more they contribute to your organization’s success.

Choose among these remote and in-person team-building activities to improve morale.


Remote Team-Building Activities

Eat Around the World

Learn something new as you explore different cuisines. Cooking shares part of a culture, enhances taste buds, and teaches new culinary skills.

You may want to create a bowl of the Korean rice dish bibimbap. You might make the Senegal rice dish jollof. Or, you could bake the Breton cake kouign-amann. This activity is best for up to 10 people.

Themed Trivia Night

Improve collaboration by dividing everyone into teams with people they normally don’t work with. You may choose ‘90s music or classic movies for the trivia theme. Or, you could educate everyone with a theme like Black history or financial wellness. This activity is best for up to 40 people.

Guided Mindfulness Session

Help everyone relax and unwind through meditation. Organizing a group session is an effective way to introduce everyone to this calming practice.

This activity is best for any number of people.

In-Person Team-Building Activities

Improv Workshop

Help everyone improve the way they work together. Teach them how more effectively communicate and read social cues.

This activity is best for up to 25 people.

Guided Hike

Learn something new while relaxing in nature. Organize a guided hike at a state park. Discover more about the area you live in while spending time together.

This activity is best for up to 15 people.

Wellness Day

Provide the time and space to completely unplug from work. You may want to begin with a group yoga session and end with a gong bath. These peaceful activities can spark meaningful conversations and organic connections with others.

This activity is best for up to 40 people.

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How to Combat Work Stress

 

Stress at work can have a number of sources. Some of the most common include increased workloads, the pressure to perform well, longer work hours, downsizing, and issues with coworkers. Increased stress levels can lead to disengagement, reduced productivity, and greater absences. Bigger issues include sickness, depression, and problems at home. As a result, you want to monitor your stress level each day and take steps to combat potential issues before they get out of hand.

Use any of the following methods to decrease your stress level at work.


Time Management

Make a list of the personal and professional tasks you want to accomplish for the day or week. Your goal is to create a balance between work and family time and social and solo activities each day. Then, distinguish between the activities you need to do and the activities you should do. Place your required activities at the start of each day and the activities you should do later in the day. Allow enough time to finish one activity before beginning another. Also, schedule 10- to 15-minute breaks throughout each day and an hour for lunch. You need time to get up from your desk, take a walk, eat healthy foods, and clear your head.

Daily Exercise

Engage in aerobic activity every day. Increasing your heart rate for at least 30 minutes helps elevate your mood, energy level, and focus. Your body and mind are better able to relax then. Breaking up your exercise into three 10-minute intervals can be just as effective as exercising for a half hour all at once.

Healthy Eating

Consume just enough food and beverages to provide the energy needed to stay productive. If you eat too little and experience low blood sugar, you may become anxious and irritable. Or, if you eat too much, you may feel lethargic. Instead, try consuming small meals throughout the day. This can even out your blood sugar level, maintain energy, and keep you focused.

Adequate Sleep

Get at least 7 hours of sleep each night. This reduces your vulnerability to anxiety and insomnia. You are better able to maintain emotional balance when you are well-rested. Going to bed and getting up at the same time each day can promote rest at night. Disengaging from mobile devices an hour before bedtime can help as well.

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4 Work Goals You Can Accomplish This Year

 

Like many employees, you may be used to going to work, finishing your tasks, going home, and repeating the process the next day. Of course, putting in your best effort and fulfilling your responsibilities is important. However, you also should be focused on moving forward in your career. Taking steps each day to reach your professional goals helps you accomplish more of what you set out to do. The greater your achievements, the higher you can set your future goals.

The following are four professional goals you may want to achieve in 2022.


1. Improve Your Time Management

The better you manage your time, the more you can accomplish each day. As you begin to be more productive each week, you can take on more responsibilities that can result in a leadership position.

You may want to try time blocking. Make a list of each task you want to accomplish throughout the day or week. Then, schedule a time to complete each activity. You should plan your most complex tasks during the times when you are most productive, such as early in the morning or right after lunch. Be sure to allow flexibility for unexpected events that may alter your plans. If you do not accomplish a task, add it to the next day’s schedule.

2. Participate in a Course

Take part in an online course to promote your career advancement. This may include developing your coding skills through an online coding boot camp. Or, you might want to learn a new programming language through Codecademy. Make sure the course is the right fit for you and that the instructor/organizer has valuable information to share. Also, celebrate as you successfully complete each assignment and when you finish the course.

3. Increase Your Network

Make it a point to meet more professionals in your company and industry. This may occur in the breakroom, at a conference, or through a professional organization. The more connections you add to your network, the more opportunities you have to advance in your career path. The members of your network can alert you to job openings, introduce you to hiring managers and other IT professionals in their company, or serve as referrals or references during your job search. Be sure you offer to help your connections as well.

4. Find a New Job

Secure a better IT role with a different employer. You can meet more professionals and develop new skills that keep you engaged in your work. You also can gain more experience and increase your qualifications to take on higher leadership positions within the organization. This increases your career options both now and in the future.

Partner with a Staffing Firm

Work with a recruiter from RightStone to find your next IT role. Visit our job board today.


Easy Ways to Boost Motivation in the Workplace

 

Like anyone else, your employees will have days where they lack the motivation to complete their tasks. Although this is completely normal, it can become a problem if they consistently become disengaged. You need your team to remain as productive as possible to continue to reach company goals. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to encourage your team members to remain engaged and continue to perform their best.

Implement these simple tips to maintain motivation and productivity among your team.


Maintain a Positive Work Environment

It is easier for your team members to stay productive when they feel happy. Maintaining a positive work environment promotes a better work experience and stronger relationships. These are significant factors in employee motivation, engagement, productivity, and success.

Create Employee Goals

Work with your team members to establish short-term goals. Include attainable objectives and clear measurements for success. This helps your employees stay on track, see the progress they make, and understand how their efforts impact the company. Be sure to celebrate each team member’s achievements along the way.

Recognize Employee Contributions

Your team members need to know their efforts and results are being noticed. This encourages them to continue to perform their best. Recognition also improves employee engagement, job satisfaction, and retention. Be sure you publicly and privately point out specific actions each employee took, what they accomplished, and how it benefitted the organization. Also, provide bonuses, raises, or promotions when appropriate.

Encourage Regular Breaks

Your team members need time to rest throughout the workday. Remind them to step away from their desks to stretch, meditate, or talk with coworkers who are on break. Also, emphasize the importance of taking a full hour for lunch. Promote healthy eating, walking, reading, and other relaxing habits. Taking time to disengage increases focus, concentration, and engagement in tasks. This helps your employees come back refreshed and ready to produce.

Promote Paid Time Off

Remind your team members how important it is to use all of their vacation days every year. Spending time away from the office promotes physical and mental wellness. Your employees need to create memories by engaging in enjoyable activities with their families and friends. The more time your employees take for rest and relaxation, the less likely they are to experience burnout.

Enforce Staying Home When Ill

Encourage your team members to stay home when they are sick. Your employees cannot perform their best when they do not feel well. Also, coming to the office and spreading germs is not beneficial for anyone. Ask that your team members finish the tasks they can from home while getting plenty of rest. The sooner they fully recover, the sooner they can return to the office and resume their duties.

In Need of IT Talent?

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Bad Work Habits to Stop This Year

 

Like most employees, you likely have developed bad work habits over the years. Although you may have tried making big plans to change your habits, you might continue to slip into old patterns of behavior. Fortunately, you can take smaller steps to effectively change your actions and get more desirable results.

Discover some ways to break six of the top bad work habits this year.


1. Staying Disorganized

Organization helps reduce your stress levels and allows you to accomplish more each day. Make sure you create a to-do list for the next day at the end of each workday. Knowing exactly what you want to accomplish and when saves you time throughout the day. Be sure to stick with your plan as much as possible. Allow flexibility for unexpected tasks as well.

2. Being Unproductive

Trying to force yourself to work when you do not feel like it typically is ineffective. To help yourself get motivated, work on a small task that requires little effort. Then, move to another simple task. Use your forward movement to work up to bigger tasks. Or, get up from your desk to take a quick walk or run an errand. Changing your focus can help you come back focused and ready to work.

3. Procrastinating

The longer you put off the tasks you do not want to handle, the more your stress level will increase. Instead, tackle your most challenging activities when you begin work in the morning. You should have enough energy and focus to finish at least some of your tasks. You can work on the activities you want to after that. This sense of accomplishment can provide motivation to finish more of your tasks the next day. You should feel much better when everything is done.

4. Skipping Breaks

Regularly taking breaks is important for your physical and mental health. You need time to rest so you come back refreshed and productive. You also need to step away from your desk for a healthy lunch, snacks, and exercise. Taking walks, meditating, or reading a book give your brain time to disengage and unwind. This increases your energy level, focus, and problem-solving ability when you return to your work.

5. Working While Sick

You should be resting rather than working when you are sick. You also should not be exposing your coworkers to germs by going to the office when ill. Instead, either call in sick or finish what you can from home. Your top priority should be getting better so you can resume your regular work duties.

6. Staying in an Unfulfilling Job

Since you spend more time at work than anywhere else, you need to enjoy your job. If you are dissatisfied with your current role, then it is time to find a new one. You need to stay engaged, productive, and learning in order to attain your career goals.

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Successful Professionals: How to Improve Your Organizational Skills

 

Whether you work onsite or remotely, your organizational skills are important. Your ability to focus on tasks, remain productive, and meet deadlines plays a role in your career progression. As a result, you need to complete as much work as possible to the best of your ability each day.

Use these tips to improve your organizational skills at work.


Create a Routine

Establish habits that give structure to your day. This helps things go more smoothly so you can accomplish more. The longer you spend streamlining your habits, the more efficiently you can reach your goals.

Schedule Time for Email

Determine the times of day to check your email. This prevents you from reading new messages as they enter your inbox. When the time comes, respond to your priority email first. Star any messages you need to get to later. Organize your read email into folders. This helps you stay focused on your tasks while minimizing disruptions.

Time Block Your Days

Plan blocks of time to finish specific tasks. Include your most though-intensive activities during the times you are most productive. This helps you maintain focus and minimize disruptions. Be sure to allow for flexibility when things that need your attention come up. Remember to adjust your schedule accordingly.

Complete One Task at a Time

Focus on finishing one activity at a time. This helps prevent mistakes, lowers stress, and helps meet deadlines. You should get more done in less time with fewer distractions. You also can use your momentum to start the next activity on your list.

Take Regular Breaks

Walk away from your desk at regular intervals. Take a quick walk, talk with a coworker on break, or listen to music. Or, read a book, meditate, or listen to a podcast. You should come back focused and ready to accomplish more.

Establish Checklists

Develop checklists for recurring tasks and projects to standardize your work processes. Streamlining the steps ensures you fulfill all of the requirements. This reduces the number of errors and time spent redoing tasks.

Develop a Filing System

Establish a digital or physical system to file documents. You may want folders for invoices, contracts, or other important papers. Or, you could set up email folders by project, sender, or other categories. This ensures you save important correspondence without keeping unnecessary messages or documents.

Clean Up Your Workspace

Put away everything you do not need at the end of each day. Having a clean workspace when you start work the next day helps you stay motivated, focused, and productive. It also lets you find the documents you need when you need them.

Looking for a New IT Position?

Stay organized during your next IT job search by working with a recruiter from RightStone. Here is a link to our job board.


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.

Plan Your IT Staffing Needs for 2022

Meet with a recruiter from RightStone to begin planning your IT staffing needs for the new year. Talk with us today.


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.

Need to Hire IT Professionals?

When the time comes to hire IT professionals, reach out to RightStone.  We have the vetted candidates with the skills and qualifications you need to reach business goals.


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