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5 Strategies for Keeping Your Team on the Same Page

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5 Strategies for Keeping Your Team on the Same Page

Every manager wants their team to run like a well-oiled machine. Unfortunately, good intentions often fall short. In an effort to keep teams informed and connected, calendars can get overloaded with meetings, and employees can get more confused than when they started.

To get and keep your team on the same page, you need a better approach. This guide will outline five different strategies that you can use in any combination to take your leadership to the next level. A coordinated team, after all, is much easier and enjoyable to manage.

1. Up Your Meeting Game

A survey of employees in the UK showed that respondents considered 37% of meetings to be pointless and unnecessary. That’s over a third of meeting time that’s going to waste! Changing your approach to meetings will make better use of your time in the conference room while making sure your team is always in sync.

Start by outlining your meetings thoroughly before even adding them to your team calendar. Each meeting should have a specific purpose or goal in mind. Holding a meeting just to have a meeting is a pointless endeavor.

Next, make sure you show up to the meeting prepared with everything you could possibly need. With an adequate game plan, you can ensure that meetings don’t run too long or go off topic. You can get straight to the point and focus on getting your team on the same page before dispersing once again. 

2. Keep the Conversation Going

Even while you’re tuning up your meetings, you shouldn’t rely on them exclusively. The best way to keep your team connected and informed is to keep the conversation going long after a formal meeting has concluded. Discussion should be happening every day, whether it’s a clarifying question or checking in on the progress of a weekly assignment.

Numerous companies faced communication crises during the Covid-19 pandemic. Trying to keep remote teams pulling in the same direction was more difficult than it was in an office setting. This led to a large increase in the use of communications software such as Zoom and Slack.

One tool that you should look into for your team, regardless of its composition, is project management software. With a tool like this, project-related communications are visible to everyone on the team, and automatic task notifications keep interested parties in the know. This works great for remote teams, office-centric companies, and every organization in between. 

3. List Out Project Details

Another great use of project management software is the ability to break out key project details. Outlining your projects in such a way helps inform teams of all the important steps of a project, even if they’re only responsible for a few of them. 

There are different ways to list out project details, usually depending on the type of software you use. Let’s use ClickUp as an example. Within this program, you can create an assignment complete with a description, due date, and assignees. In addition, you can add a checklist of items that must be completed in order for the assignment to be finished. Last but not least, you can view a complete history of all the changes that have been made to the project and who initiated them. 

4. Share Schedules

An essential aspect of staying on the same page is coordinating time and individual schedules. What happens when a project is in crisis and team members cannot contact the team leader? Such situations can be avoided or at least mitigated by sharing schedules with one another. 

Now, let it be said that there’s such a thing as sharing too much information. Unless you have a great relationship with your team, they don’t need to know about your date night or your plans to go disc golfing over lunch. What’s more important is establishing the times where you’re available and unavailable and letting teammates know when and how you can be reached.

Online calendars are nifty tools for ironing out those details. You can create a custom scheduling link that can be embedded into a website or posted in your company database. With a simple click, team members and even clients can see whether you have any openings for a meeting or phone call without disturbing you. 

5. Embrace Transparency

Transparency does a lot of good for your company. Not only will it keep employees happy and boost their morale, but it will also develop a culture and atmosphere where collaboration can thrive. It’s so much easier to keep your team in the loop when transparency is a high priority.

Think of transparency as the willingness to freely share information from the top to the bottom of your organization. As the leader, it’s up to you to set the example that others will follow.

You can do this by clearly setting expectations, checking in with individual team members, and being honest about how you’re spending your time. Secrets that don’t pertain to birthday parties or Christmas bonuses tend to tear a company down rather than build it up. 

No business can thrive when its right hand doesn’t know what its left hand is doing. But with the right combination of communication, tech-enabled organization, and transparency, your team members will be able to pull together and achieve your organization’s goals.

6 Strategies for Encouraging Online Appointment-Making

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6 Strategies for Encouraging Online Appointment-Making

As hard as it might be to believe, not everyone has a smartphone — or wants one. You’ll even have some customers without reliable internet service. These customers will be the most difficult ones to transition to online appointment software when it’s implemented by your business.

Customers without good home internet are unlikely to hike to the local library to make their appointments. Customers without a smartphone aren’t going to buy one just because you have fancy new software. So how can businesses upgrade their systems and retain these customers instead of cutting them off?

All these people need is a little persuasion and some tender care from your business to move them online. Try out one of these six strategies to get all of your customers hooked into online appointment software:

1. Show and Tell

Customers who stay away from technology likely do so because they don’t understand it. Since they’re so comfortable booking appointments over the phone, why would they want to change a perfectly good system? If it’s not broken, they say, don’t fix it.

What these customers need is for someone to walk them through the steps of online appointment setting. Once they see how easy and convenient it is to book online, they won’t be as hesitant to make the switch. 

Before a customer leaves, have an employee set up their next appointment with them. Show them how to log in to your company website or customer portal. Take each step methodically so customers have a chance to ask any questions they have about the process. 

2. Reach Them Where You Can

While the customers you are trying to reach might not be online, there are other ways you can reach them to get them there. Your usual strategies for getting customers to book online appointments via social media and email will need to be replaced with something more old school.

Start by addressing customers face-to-face. Talk to them on-site about switching to online booking and address their problems then and there. For some customers, this might not just be your best opportunity, but your only one. 

For your more immovable customers, you can use snail mail with printed links to your booking website to pique their curiosity. Also change up your voicemail message to include information about online booking. That way, customers who always call in might get the hint that online booking is the better choice. 

3. Favor the Techy

Now, this tip in no way suggests that you discriminate against your tech-averse clientele. However, offering small rewards to those who book online will incentivize the rest of your customers to follow suit. 

For starters, make it known that the first appointment customers book online comes with a special discount, perhaps even as much as 50%. The first online booking is the hardest one to get, so it’s worth the significant price slash in order to transition more customers in the long run.

Online bookings can also have more lenient cancellation policies, better rewards programs, or more options when selecting time slots. Choose one or multiple benefits like these, and you’ll have no problem getting customers to move to your online platform. 

4. Develop a Relationship

From personal experience, you’ll probably agree that it’s much easier to convince someone to try something new if you have a long-standing relationship with them. Wouldn’t you rather try a new electronic device recommended to you by a friend instead of being told why you should buy it by a salesman?

If you have a strong relationship with your regular customers, you’ll be able to more easily sway them to try online appointment booking. Since they trust you and your service, they’ll be more likely to oblige in order to continue doing business with you. New customers or those you can’t differentiate from the rest may well head over to a different business instead.

5. Partner With Other Businesses

You wouldn’t be a business owner if you didn’t do whatever it takes to attract and retain customers. Sometimes that means partnering with other businesses to leverage each other’s strengths. In this case, consider running a promotion with businesses that can get your customers plugged in.

Got customers who haven’t jumped on the smartphone train yet? Hook them up with a special deal with the cell phone store down the street. Use the promotion as a way to talk about how one of the many things customers can use a smartphone for is to book their appointments online.

You can also do this with internet service or any other customer need another business can fulfill. You’ll benefit by getting more customers looped into your online appointment system, and other companies will appreciate the business you send their way. 

6. Continue to Improve the Process

Customers need to be assured that your transition to online appointment software is a long-term commitment that’s worth buying into. To make certain that online booking is more than just a fad, look for ways to make continual improvements to the process.

Stay on top of your website’s loading speed so visitors don’t get discouraged. Review your site’s layout to make sure resources and booking pages are easy to find. Also ensure that your online system is compatible with every device your customers might use. You don’t want to deter Apple users because you’re only optimized for Android.

In all honesty, individuals who don’t adapt to the times are the ones who are really missing out. Make sure your customers aren’t among them by using online appointment software to create a better user experience for them inside and outside of your business. 

7 Leadership Strategies that Build Trust with Your Remote Team

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7 Leadership Strategies that Build Trust with Your Remote Team

The infrastructure of any solid relationship is trust. While certainly true in every sphere of your life, it’s essential in the workplace. After all, it’s been found that employees working in high-trust environments have reported:

  • 76% more engagement
  • 74% less stress
  • 70% more alignment with their companies’ purpose compared to employees in low-trust environments
  • 50% higher productivity

Moreover, numerous studies have found that trust is critical to team success. And, this is most true as remote managers are struggling with trust issues during COVID-10. Thankfully, you can use the following 7 strategies to turn this around.

1. Mitigate your team’s stress.

According to author and leading trust expert Paul Zak, stress is one of the most forceful oxytocin inhibitors. Why’s that important? Well, oxytocin is the hormone that’s responsible for social and romantic bonding.

As such, this chemical is kind of important when building trust with your team. Specifically, it helps teams work and grow together. And that can completely transform the workplace for the better.

“In my research, I’ve found that building a culture of trust is what makes a meaningful difference,” wrote Zak. “Employees in high-trust organizations are more productive, have more energy at work, collaborate better with their colleagues, and stay with their employers longer than people working at low-trust companies.”

“They also suffer less chronic stress and are happier with their lives, and these factors fuel stronger performance,” he added. So, yeah. This just makes sense.

But how exactly can you reduce workplace stress?

For starters, stop micromanaging your team. Instead, grant autonomy by letting them work however and whenever they want. Since they’re currency WFH, this is key since it can make work-life integration easier — like juggling work and homeschooling their kids.

Additionally, make it a point to communicate with them regularly. Regardless if it’s a quick phone call, weekly Zoom check-in, or through Slack, this gives you a chance to acknowledge them or address any concerns.

What’s more, you should make yourself available so that you can provide guidance. For example, if they’re struggling with time managementwhich is a stressor that 46% of employees, then offer advice on how they can fix this problem.

You should also encourage them to take time off and be respectful of their boundaries. That means not bombarding them with messages when they’re off-the-clock. And give them access to mindfulness apps like Calm.

2. Serve up the feedback sandwich.

Giving credit where it’s due is a proven way to build trust in the workplace. In fact, a Globoforce study found that those who received recognition from their leaders recently were significantly more likely to trust them (82% vs. 48%).

Here’s the thing, though. Eventually, singing your team members praises loses meaning. Studies actually show that “negative” feedback (if delivered appropriately) is more helpful than positive reinforcement.

The reason? People want to learn and grow. And, they want to be challenged, not cuddled.

A simple way to achieve both types of feedback is using the sandwich method. Here you would deliver feedback as follows; positive, constructive, positive.

Why does this work? Because you’re kicking and ending things on a positive note. At the same time, you’re also delivering honest and constructive feedback.

3. Get to (virtually) know your team members.

The cornerstone of fortifying any relationship is getting to know the other person. And, by that, I mean getting to know them outside of the workplace. Even if that’s regularly meeting with them in person, it’s having frequent and informal chats with them via text, email, or scheduled “coffee” meetings through Zoom.

While you don’t want to cross any lines here, ask them how they’re doing. Inquire about their hobbies, passions, or how their family has been. It sounds simple. But, spending a couple of minutes each week getting to know each team member helps you bond over similar interests while showing that you genuinely care about them as a person.

4. Make sure that your goals, objectives, and intentions are crystal clear.

Not to be too crass here. But, this is leadership 101. Always make sure that you always do this from jump street.

For instance, let’s say that when a team member has completed their portion of a project, they must notify the project manager. That may not sound like a biggie, but what is the preferred channel here? If it’s through Slack, but they sent an email, that could cause bottlenecks and lots of ibuprofen for the headaches this caused.

In short, make sure that you share your goals, objectives, and intentions with your team. More importantly, double-check that they understand them so that you’re all on the same page.

5. Be competent but also vulnerable.

“Trust in leadership is also based on a leader’s demonstration of on-the-job expertise and ability,” writes executive coach Dina Denham Smith. “In virtual teams where people can feel disconnected, strong communication is an especially critical leadership skill, one on which your competence will be judged and trust built or diminished.”

While you certainly do not want to cause information overload, “there’s no such thing as over-communicating,” adds Denham Smith. After all, “if you don’t communicate frequently and clearly, your people will fill in the blanks with their own, usually worst-case, assumptions.” Additionally, you need to be open about your expectations and transparent “on company direction, policies, and procedures, including the decision-making process.”

At the same time, admit that you don’t have all the answers. You should even own-up to your mistakes. And, if you need help, ask for it.

“While it may seem counterintuitive, leaders who ask for help draw others to them through this display of humanness, inspire others by making them feel needed and garner trust and followers,” adds Denham Hill.

6. Freshen up your virtual events and meetings.

Even though virtual meetings have been around for years, they’ve become the status quo thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. While an adequate way to keep-in-touch and build rapport, they’re also exhausting. However, you can spruce them up to establish trust while also bolstering morale.

If you need some ideas, Calendar Co-Founder John Hall has the following suggestions:

  • Get underway by acknowledging your team’s achievements or sharing a joke.
  • Host theme events, like a holiday party or virtual lunches where participants share their favorite recipes.
  • Conduct weekly check-ins to provide updates or ask how everyone is holding up.
  • Always follow virtual meeting etiquette, like muting your mic when not speaking.
  • Encourage silent brainstorming sessions.
  • Organize virtual team-building activities such as fitness challenges or “happy hour.”
  • Keep them engaged by challenging them. For example, you could ask how they’ve overcome a problem in the past.
  • Shake things up occasionally, like surprising them by taking a virtual field trip or inviting a guest speaker.
  • Schedule events when it’s best for your team. While you’ll never find the perfect time and date, you could poll them to see what works best for the majority.
  • Wrap each function up on a high note. For instance, you could ask positive-direction questions like, “What did you find most valuable?”

7. Be consistent.

According to Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman, there are three elements of trust; positive relationships, good judgment/expertise, and consistency. I think that you should have an idea about the first two. So, let’s go over what consistency means.

Consistency “is the extent to which leaders walk their talk and do what they say they will do,” they explain for HBR. “People rate a leader high in trust if they:

  • Are a role model and set a good example.
  • Walk the talk.
  • Honor commitments and keep promises.
  • Follow through on commitments.
  • Are willing to go above and beyond what needs to be done.

While this may not be the most important element, it’s still essential. For example, let’s say that you penciled in a one-on-one for Thursday at 3 pm. You had a family emergency and didn’t let the team member know you had to reschedule.

Your team member arrives on time and patiently waits. After some time has passed, they email you, and you reply that you had to cancel. That’s not only disrespectful of their time; it also shows them that you can’t be trusted to hold-up your end of the bargain.

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