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What Does It Take to Manage with Transparency?

 

As a manager, employee engagement is among your top priorities. When your team members are engaged in their work, they remain productive. This increases the likelihood that your employees will reach their goals.

One of the most effective ways to increase engagement is by managing with transparency. Some of the benefits include clear expectations, better project management, and shared accountability.

When your employees understand each other’s roles in projects, they tend to help more because they understand the shared impact of their actions. Because your team members know what needs to be accomplished, they can provide solutions and take ownership of the process.

The following strategies can help you manage with transparency.


Outline Projects and Goals

Communicate your team projects and their objectives. This helps your employees understand what their role is and what they should accomplish. Based on the situation, you may want to cover the topics by an individual conversation, email, or team meeting.

Share Financial Data

Depending on the circumstances, you may want to share budgetary information about a project your employees are working on. This may include the translation of funds allotted into the project timeframe. Your employees can structure their daily tasks to stay on track and complete the project within or under budget.

Encourage Teamwork

Promote open communication among your employees as they collaborate on projects. This helps them understand the status of the project and the reasons for their next actions. Open communication also helps your employees identify and fix problems before they impact the course or cost of the project. Plus, it helps you and your employees understand the connection between tasks and the direction and progress of your team.

Provide Feedback

Let your employees know on a regular basis how they are performing. Include specific examples of what they are doing well and how they can improve. Provide the resources and support needed to implement the feedback. Your employees are likely to increase their efficiency and effectiveness when they receive honest input on their performance.

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Communication Strategies to Improve Team Collaboration

 

Effective communication and collaboration skills are important for your team. Your team members need to share, develop, and implement their ideas in order to solve problems and complete projects. This is why it is important for you to provide the appropriate tools and support to facilitate communication and collaboration among your team. The following examples can help reach this goal.

These four strategies can promote communication and collaboration among your IT team.


1. Provide an Agile Collaboration Tool

An agile collaboration tool facilitates team communication and incremental steps to finish projects. It lets your team members assign and prioritize tasks. This lets your team know what needs to done right away and what can wait. It also keeps them informed about individual and team objectives, due dates, and milestones. It also keeps your team on track and working toward the same goal.

Your team members can share information, see their progress, and determine whether there are any issues to resolve. They also can provide feedback and measure performance. Because the project is delivered in increments, there should be faster movement and more flexibility for planning and responding to change.

2. Use a Messaging Hub

A messaging hub collects your company’s digital messages and stores them in a cloud database. This includes emails, voice over internet protocol (VoIP) phone calls, Tweets, and more.

Your team can access the information from anywhere without having to streamline their operating systems or devices. They also can more easily navigate their emails to determine which messages to pay attention to and which messages can wait. Plus, your team can search for the information or files they need and determine whether multiple messages are related. This helps reduce information overload, especially when your team is remote or hybrid.

3. Encourage Instant Messaging

Your team can use instant messaging for casual conversations. This helps your team members get to know each other and find common interests. They can stay current on the latest events in others’ lives and share what is going on in their own life. These interactions promote trust, camaraderie, and cohesion. They also make it easier for your team to have serious or difficult conversations centered around work.

4. Set Limits for Your Meetings

Invite to your meetings only the team members who truly need to attend. Keep the number of topics on the agenda to a minimum as well. These actions help keep the conversation focused.

Encourage the attendees to collaborate on the agenda. This helps them understand their part in sharing relevant information or leading discussion topics. Hold the attendees accountable for delivering their materials or insights to keep the agenda moving forward. These actions help improve collaboration.

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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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3 Tips for Performing an Effective Employee Review

As a manager, one of your duties is to conduct monthly, quarterly, or annual employee reviews. These meetings let you talk with each employee about their accomplishments, challenges, and concrete ways to improve performance. Although these discussions can be difficult, they are necessary to ensure your employees align on shared goals and have a plan for future improvements.

Implement these three tips to conduct your next employee review.

1. Prepare Your Feedback in Advance

Gather your thoughts and data about the employee’s performance well before the review. Use the information to fill out the employee evaluation form. This can serve as the framework for your discussion. Make sure your remarks are direct, concise, and transparent. Include specific examples of what the employee has been doing well and how they can improve. This should clarify your goals and expectations and avoid confusion. Have a copy of the evaluation form ready to give the employee to reference and stay on track with the improvements you requested.

2. Maintain a Two-Way Conversation

Encourage an open discussion about the employee’s performance. You want to promote trust, clarity, and alignment with company goals. For instance, find out what they believe to be their greatest strengths, biggest challenges, and areas they can improve in within a month, quarter, or year. You may ask questions such as, “What is the accomplishment from the review period that you are most proud of?” “Which areas do you think you need to improve the most in?” Or, “How can I support you in reaching your goals?” Also, clarify your expectations and evaluation guidelines. In order to stay engaged, the employee should know the level they should be performing at and how their success will be measured. Additionally, actively listen to what the employee says. Repeat what you hear to make sure it is accurate. Ask follow-up questions to gather more information.

3. Focus on the Future

Share your goals and plans for the employee to improve their performance. For instance, involve them in creating an action plan to set milestones and reach objectives in line with company goals. Clarify that you want them to succeed and are available to discuss their concerns and challenges. End the discussion on a positive note with motivation and hope for the future.

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5 Tips for Interviewing a Candidate Older Than You

Sitting down to an interview with someone older than you is not as uncommon as it sounds.

Whether you need to hire for a very senior role or you have an applicant who took a detour on your career path, there are many ways you could find yourself interviewing someone who started their career while you were still in school.

Although the initial realization may feel awkward, interviewing an older candidate than you doesn’t need to be different from any other interview. Here are five things to remember when you find yourself in this scenario.

Don’t Bring Up Your Age or Theirs

Age is just a number. So, please don’t feel the need to make light of your age or ask questions about theirs.

What’s important is their experience and whether they fit the bill for the job. Bringing up the age gap will just increase the awkwardness. Make it a point to leave the conversation at the door and focus only on their qualifications.

Do More Research Beforehand

Research the candidate’s background to better understand what their experience and skills bring to the team. Doing so will give you a chance to ask more in-depth questions, which caters well to candidates who are more experienced than you are.

Rely Heavily on Emotional Intelligence

For some people, returning to an entry-level or mid-career job is part of a big life change, such as returning to the workforce after years or decades of raising a family, overcoming an obstacle like an illness, or finally getting the chance to pursue their dreams.

Empathy and emotional intelligence will help the candidate feel more comfortable. And they will remember how you made them feel above all else.

Go for Common Ground

What experiences do they have that you also have? Finding a point that you can both relate to, whether it’s a course or certification or project, will help the candidate open up and create a more conversational interview style.

Consider Outsourcing the Process

If you want to hire to bring on a more senior position than you currently have at the company, then you might consider outsourcing the recruitment process. Recruiters with expertise in your field will forgo the awkwardness associated with age or experience and have a better eye for the kind of candidate you need.

Are you looking for a new senior role in IT? Get in touch to learn about the RightStone 360 process and how we place the right consultant with the perfect employer. 


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