All posts by Abby Miller

How to Empower Your Team Through Data

By | Business Tips | No Comments

Empowerment defined is the “authority or power given to someone to do something.” The explanation may not sound all that important. But, for your team, empowerment is vital. Here is how to empower your team through data.

As noted by The Wharton School, empowering your team creates a toxic-free environment where micromanagement is discouraged. It also encourages ownership, keeps everyone satisfied, boosts engagement, and frees-up your valuable time.

While you can do this by not always looking over your team’s shoulders, you can also use data to empower your team. But, first, let’s go over the benefits that your organization will experience after they have data at their fingertips.

Provides access to information promptly.

The main benefit is that your team will have fast and easy access to information that can help them become more effective and efficient. For example, if your team uses a tool like Calendar. Each person can track their time to see the time they’re spending in specific meetings, or at certain places. Knowing the specifics of their behavior, they can alter their schedules so that they’re devoting the right amount of time to the right things.

What’s more, this data can be used to pin-down performance metrics. In turn, this can boost productivity, agility, morale, and it keeps everyone on the same page. And, as an additional bonus, timely access to information can speed up workflows and the decision-making process. That may not sound overly important. But, as found in a report from Boston University, 47% of professionals stated that slow access to information impedes their ability to make decisions.

Improves your team’s performance, engagement, and motivation.

Every leader should make this a priority. After all, when you’re able to improve your team’s performance, engagement, and motivation, your team will be more productive and satisfied. And, thanks to data, this has never been easier.

In case you didn’t get the memo, money isn’t an effective way to motivate your team. They want to know that their work has purpose and meaning. And, yes, data can help you achieve this. For instance, you could display KPIs and employee goals so that your team can see the purpose and progress of their work. As a result, you’ll be less likely to micromanage them. And, this will grant them ownership, which will keep them happy and productive.

Helps you identify your top and bottom performers.

With data easily at your disposal, you can track each of your team members’ progress. That means you can quickly identify who your top performers are and then reward them accordingly. For example, let’s say a team member had completed a project ahead of schedule or made progress towards a goal. You could acknowledge their hard work and offer an incentive that they care about.

Additionally, you can also use this information to discover who your weakest links are. That doesn’t mean you have to let them go. But, this may allow you to meet with them and attempt to get to the root problem. Maybe they haven’t been able to make progress on a goal because they don’t possess time management skills, or they have too much on their plate. As such, you could redistribute tasks or help them solve their time management problems so that they can become a top performer.

Still not convinced? Well, other benefits include operational optimization and forecasting, streamlined procurement processing, customer analysis, and behavioral prediction, and cost optimization.

Using Data to Empower Your Team

Hopefully, you’re sold on the benefits of embracing business. Now, it’s time to learn how actually to empower your team using data.

Provide the right training and tools.

Training is essential when you’re introducing new technology, strategies, or concepts. Even if your team members are familiar with data, you still want to share with them the latest developments. Most importantly, you need to align business intel with their work.

In conjunction with training, you also need to arm them with the right tools. An example of this would be giving your sales the latest AI-powered sales app so that they have real-time insights about leads and customers on their phones.

Encourage communication and collaboration.

How can you empower your team if you’re keeping the data to yourself? That’s just counterproductive and poor use of data. Instead, share this information with everyone within your organization so that they’re up-to-date and on the same page.

Moreover, provide opportunities for your team to discuss and dig into the data. It’s a simple way to see how it’s impacting their performance. But, it also is a great way to get them more involved. As noted in a Forbes article, managers can “increase task identity by involving employees in more aspects of work by having them participate in the planning, reporting, and evaluation of projects rather than just the doing.”

Make the data more engaging.

Don’t bore your team with figures and numbers. Have a little fun with the data by making it more exciting and engaging by utilizing dashboards.

Dashboards, explains the folks over at Phocas “allow you to set the business indicators that are important to your business.” But, what makes for an excellent dashboard? At the minimum, it should “provide a visual, fact-driven overview of the indicators most important to your team, enabling them to see at a glance how the team is performing.”

Your dashboard will allow your team “to dive into the underlying data in the lightning-fast grid that sits behind the dashboard.” What about you, non-technical people? Well, they can “quickly build an interactive, customized dashboard, so your team can collaborate, revise, and print on the spot without help from IT.”

Use visuals and gamification as well.

Another way to accomplish this is by providing visuals. As Calendar founder John Rampton explained in a previous article, data visualization is the key to team productivity since visual learning is more efficient. It also helps you focus on what’s most important, advances AI and machine learning, and enhances communication and collaboration.

Just remember that to get the most out of data visualization, you should:

  • Understand the data you’re trying to visualize, such as the size and uniqueness.
  • Determine the data you want to visualize and what needs to be communicated.
  • Know your audience and their learning preferences.
  • Use visuals that present the information as briefly and simply as possible.
  • Use the right visual for the right situation. For instance, Gantt charts are ideal for updating the status of a project. On the flipside, Fishbone diagrams are better suited for finding defects in a process.

And, the Phocas team also suggests that you gamify your data. “By providing your team with an immersive and gamified experience, using data becomes engaging. If your team can manipulate data quickly and easily, they are driven to improve their performance through feedback.”

“By introducing gamification, you can present a fun and competitive way for your team to detect every opportunity to increase revenue and overall productivity.” And, ultimately, this can cultivate collaboration and motivate individual team members.

Integrate analytics into every aspect of your business.

At first, this may be intimidating. But. as Roman Stanek, the Founder and CEO of GoodData writes in Forbes, “companies who have recognized value from analytics have gone beyond their competitors to become empowered analytical organizations.” What that means is that they have “successfully integrated analytics into every part of their business to drive everyday business decisions and deliver substantial returns.”

The four attributes needed to assimilate data into your business.

  • Solve for business problems. “The first step to using data to drive decisions is to look at a business process that requires more clarity or one that has an easy-to-define workflow or apparent objectives for improvement,” writes Stanek. “Preferably, it’s an area that can easily measure improvements in tangible, metric-driven ways.”
  • Recognize that it’s an ongoing process. To deliver tangible results, you need to make a serious time and financial commitment “on the strategy, talent, and business plan.”
  • Embed analytics into all areas of the business. “Analytics has value for every layer of the organization, not just the c-suite or data scientists,” adds Stanek. Because of this, “the only way to get closer to the return on investment you’re looking for is to deploy analytics to as many people as possible to improve everyone’s decision making” and showing your team how data can help them solve problems.
  • Make sure executives do their part. “For a company to successfully transition to an empowered analytical organization, leadership will need consensus around the analytics project, and to truly understand why the IT budget will need to shift to support the kind of transformation expected,” explains Stanek. “They’ll also need to routinely participate in identifying key business processes that are ripe for improvement and encourage continuous learning and additional investment.”

10 Things Gen Z Should put in Their Calendar for Productivity

By | Scheduling | No Comments
calendar productivity

Adding anything to your Calendar may sound like a strange way to increase productivity. However, productivity is not all about cranking out task after task without interruption. A productive life is typically based on a balanced lifestyle. Extra random tasks on your Calendar will not increase your productivity, but making time for specific tasks can improve your overall productivity. Here are ten things Gen Z should put on their Calendar for productivity.

What tasks will increase your productivity?

Before making time for anything on your Calendar, you should carefully assess the possible benefits. If you aren’t entirely sure about trying something on your Calendar — then consider testing it out for a couple of weeks. Some things may not help you, but other listed items could have a life-changing impact. Everyone is different, so make time for the things that are most useful for you.

Our Gen Z — the true digital natives — have always had business savvy.

Gen Z was practically born with business-savvy. Now, take a look at a Gen Z Calendar. The Gen Zers seem to put everything in their Calendar, and this may be why they are finding a better work-life balance than the rest of us. I asked about a few of the items listed on the Calendar of our Gen Zers on the team. Below are the answers:

1. Sleep.

Although sleeping seems like the exact opposite of productivity, a healthy sleep pattern can significantly increase your productivity. Instead of getting the bare minimum amount of sleep that you need to function, consider making time to get enough sleep to feel well-rested.

Sleeping replenishes your energy reserves and allows you to function at a much higher level. We all know that sleep makes us feel good, but it can lead to an increase in productivity. If you get a healthy amount of sleep, your body will reward you with enough energy to be more productive.

Make time for a regular sleep schedule that maximizes your energy levels for higher productivity throughout the day.

2. Eat health foods — and health food.  

Eating healthy can seem like a chore to many of us. It can take time and energy to prepare a healthy meal that you will enjoy. It seems more natural to grab a quick bite from a fast food place or heat yet another unhealthy frozen meal. It takes time to make a healthy choice meal, and it takes time even to eat it. Gen Z puts in the blocks of time to do each action. Fueling your body with healthy food can make a difference in your productivity.

A few ways to make healthy eating less painful includes choosing healthy restaurants to order from — meal prep in advance and stocking your pantry with healthy options.

3. Downtime.

Making time to unwind is an effective way to increase your productivity. Without scheduled downtime, it can be tempting to keep plugging away at your ever-present to-do list. Not only is this an exhausting way to live, but it’s also unproductive.

When you choose to never really stop working, it will drain your productivity because you are never able just to start fresh. Downtime could be a short break in the afternoon, a weeklong vacation, or just enough time to enjoy the evening before bed.

4. Exercise.

Building a healthy body will also help to create a healthy mind. When you make a healthy mind and body, you’ll be more resilient to changes in your workload and prepared to tackle the inevitable challenges.

Exercise leads to the release of endorphins in your body, which are linked to a happier state of mind. Getting through your daily responsibilities while working towards your long-term goals is usually not easy. There will be good days, bad days, and “bad-bads.” Our Gen Z plan for the bad-bads better than the rest of us. A healthy boost from exercise can help make the bad-bads more bearable.

5. Learn something new.

It can seem impossible to dedicate time to anything new in the middle of your busy Calendar. However, learning new things can help you reach your overall goals. It also stimulates your brain and can help you accomplish more with the new information. I’ve put more learning into my Calendar than ever before.

Reading a book, taking a course, or flipping through an article may seem like a luxury you don’t have time for. It can be challenging but make time to learn something new. Even dedicating just a few minutes a day can really help to boost your long-term productivity.

6. Set clear goals.

Instead of vaguely setting goals and throwing tasks on your Calendar, make time to set clear and attainable goals for your future. Think about both your long-term and short-term goals. Decide on the steps that will help you achieve these goals. Finally, schedule the tasks necessary in a reasonable way.

If you don’t set clear goals, then some of your time will be wasted on tasks that do not help you achieve your goals. A clear vision will allow you to plan out your Calendar for maximum productivity.

7. Get outside.

Nature has a fantastic way of making us feel more at ease. When you are tied to your desk for days in a row, sometimes you need a little bit of inspiration to get yourself motivated. Without the right motivation, it can be hard to achieve a high productivity level.

Whether you can take a walk, plan a beach day, or escape to a National Park, a little bit of time outside can help to give perspective to your daily workload.

8. Track wasted time.

Many of us waste time in small amounts throughout the day. Scrolling through your phone or mindlessly checking emails can seriously affect our productivity levels. The worst part is that most of us don’t even realize that we are wasting this much time!

Install an app that tracks your phone usage and let it track you for a few days. It will take a few minutes to set up, but it will be worth it. You may be shocked at how much time you waste on your phone. Try to cut back this time and use it for something more productive.

9. Declutter.

Cleaning out your workspace can seem like a daunting task. You may have months (or years) of clutter piled around you. Clutter can quickly decrease your productivity in a variety of ways.

  • First, you may waste time sifting through the clutter to find important things.
  • Second, you may feel slightly claustrophobic in your workspace, which can kill your creativity.
  • Finally, thoughts that you really should tidy up invade your thoughts daily and distract you from your work.

Make the time to clean up your space. You might be surprised how much your productivity will increase. While you’re here — stick in a plant.

10. Meet with an accountability buddy.

Find someone that you can hold yourself accountable to and make the time to chat regularly. Your buddy should help to keep you on track as you work towards your goals.

An accountable relationship takes time and effort, but it can help you meet your goals efficiently.

The Bottom Line

Your Calendar is already full, but finding the time for some activities could help to increase your overall productivity. It will take some trial and error to find the right balance for your Calendar — but it will be worth the effort.

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