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The Importance of Creativity in the Workplace

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Creative Mural on Building

The cornerstones of productivity are staying organized, mission-driven, and efficient. But, staying creative shouldn’t come at the expense of those pillars. On the contrary, creativity is becoming an increasingly valuable asset in the workplace for both individuals and teams.

Furthermore, the World Economic Forum states that creativity is or is related to nine of the ten skills that will define the world in 2020 and beyond. In addition to increasing confidence and collaboration, being creative increases problem-solving skills.

But that’s not all. In business, creativity has the following benefits.

Goes hand-in-hand with innovation.

Innovation requires two ingredients: novelty and utility. Unfortunately, despite the importance of creativity in generating unique and original ideas, they’re not always practical. Creative solutions, however, are essential for innovative solutions.

Leads to productivity.

Creativity fosters productivity as long as the work environment allows them to coexist. As a result, creativity can lead to productivity in the following ways:

  • Prevents getting stuck in a rut.
    • There’s nothing wrong with routines. However, sometimes you need to shake things up and push yourself out of your comfort zone. Doing so will expose you to fresh ideas and perspectives.
  • Solves bigger problems.
    • You and employees will be able to see the bigger picture and focus their energy on issues that significantly impact the company when creative thinking is encouraged. When employees can apply these efforts to bigger-picture problems rather than simply churning out work, they are more productive — and the business thrives.
  • When employees are encouraged to be creative, their workplaces will be changed for the better.
    • Motivation comes from allowing people to make a tangible, visible difference in their workplace. You don’t want to feel like a drone, mindlessly completing tasks without any apparent impact on your life.
  • People get emotionally involved in it.
    • Quite simply, work without passion is tedious — especially for entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs. Some people, however, require a little more motivation to spark that passion at work. Participating in the creative process empowers workers, regardless of their department or role.
  • By promoting creativity, failure becomes less likely.
    • People need the freedom to fail if they are going to foster a creative environment. Creative environments that fear failure are crippled and hamstring the flow of ideas. As a result of fear, we tend to color outside the lines, preventing us from identifying new and more effective ways of working, improving processes, streamlining operations, and creating new products.

Provides adaptability.

It may not always be necessary to adjust your business model when creatively addressing challenges. For example, to improve the efficiency of your operations, you might develop new products or services. However, don’t reject an idea because it doesn’t match the scale of a problem.

Business is a world of constant change, and adapting to it requires creative solutions.

Growth depends on it.

The idea that there is only one way to approach or interpret a situation or challenge is one of the main hindrances to a business’s growth.

It’s easy to fall into cognitive fixedness because it can be tempting to approach every situation the same way you have in the past. There are, however, differences between each situation.

A company’s leaders can stagnate if they do not take the time to understand the circumstances they face, foster creative thinking, and act on findings.

The skill is in demand.

Top industries like health care and manufacturing value creativity and innovation. It is mainly due to the complexity of challenges faced by every industry.

How to Encourage Creativity in the Workplace

So, we know that creativity is essential. But, how exactly can you encourage creativity in the workplace?

1. Schedule opportunities for creative thinking.

“Creative thinking can often be overlooked if it doesn’t get time on our calendars,” writes Nathan Rawlins in CIO. “There will always be more meetings and tasks to check off our lists, so it’s important to actually book time for creative activities.”

For example, hackathons have resulted in significant updates for our product offerings. In two to three days, teams spend a lot of time thinking creatively, collaborating, and testing out ideas outside the box. “The results are fantastic features that bring value to both the product and the company,” adds Rawlins. “Additionally, these events boost morale and demonstrate our commitment to creativity and innovation.”

2. Instill autonomy.

Increased responsibility and autonomy will likely lead to the generation of more ideas, as well as a greater sense of pride and confidence in your team’s skills.

Broadly, this could allow your team to work however they want, instead of micromanaging. More specifically, you let your team choose the agenda when meeting one-on-one.

3. Implement flexible work hours.

Consider offering flexible or work-from-home hours for specific roles requiring only an internet connection. When employees work from home, they can think more clearly, come up with more innovative ideas, and reduce their stress levels.

Establish clear expectations and guidelines to ensure steady productivity at home. And plan a flexible schedule that suits managers and their teams and the company’s requirements.

4. Don’t worry about “how.”

“Leaders unknowingly weaken their team’s creativity by focusing too early on implementation,” says Lisa Guice, Lisa Guice Global-Vision, LLC. “The fastest way to kill the creative process is by requiring your team to produce tactical solutions in tandem with creative ideas.”

This not only stifles the creative flow but also shifts the work environment into a “produce while editing” mindset, which results in a diminished individual contribution.”

5. De-silo your organization.

For innovative teamwork to take place, it is essential that a collaborative and social environment is created. Managers will notice a significant difference when they take steps to “de-silo” their organizations.

In addition to working on their own projects, employees can interact with colleagues in other departments and learn more about the company. As a result, ideas and inspiration will flow freely throughout departments, sparking workplace creativity.

Furthermore, humor is great for team building, inclusivity, and creativity.

What if you have a primarily remote or hybrid team? You might want to set up a Slack or similar chat channel called “water cooler.” By doing so, your employees can engage in some friendly office banter. Or, at the end of your team meetings, schedule time for everyone to discuss their plans for the weekend.

Playfulness creates a sense of belonging and safety, inspiring creativity.

6. Get walking.

Regarding fresh thinking, walking is one of the oldest and most effective sources. “Walking meetings” were a popular method used by Steve Jobs to foster connection and creativity with coworkers and collaborators.

In addition, Harvard Medical School researchers found that walking meetings enhanced creativity by 5.25% and engagement by 8.5%. Stanford University researchers also discovered that walking increased creative thinking by 60%. The movement itself energizes the brain, regardless of how long or where it takes place.

7. Don’t let good ideas go to waste.

Incentives should be provided to encourage employees to share their ideas. One suggestion is to implement the best ideas and to acknowledge other people’s efforts. To let the employee know you plan to implement their ideas, I suggest you personalize your message. Finally, if the change is successful, notify the team of the inspiration behind it.

To foster innovation, it is important to address and publicly commend good ideas. As a result, team members feel more inspired to share their ideas and opinions.

8. Encourage self-reflection.

You’ll find that your employees become absorbed in their work and forget the importance of what they’re doing when the workload picks up. To combat this, make check-ins for self-reflection a habit for employees. By doing this exercise, they are inspired to see things from a different perspective, both in terms of what they have achieved and what lies ahead.

Your team can also see the concrete results of their hard work and innovative solutions by sharing monthly or quarterly achievements.

9. Allow for failure.

When you ask your employees for their creative input, ensure they know you don’t expect perfection or thoroughly polished work. To be able to take risks without negative consequences, staff members need to be allowed to develop plans that go awry. The ability to fail wisely is a valuable skill for managers and companies.

“Once [employees] see, firsthand, the value of putting out what we call a ‘low-resolution prototype’ and getting feedback from a key constituent, and seeing how that direct[s] the next step, people start to become believers in that process,” explains Graham Henshaw, executive director of the Alan B. Miller Entrepreneurship Center at William & Mary’s Raymond A. Mason School of Business, on the W&M Leadership and Business podcast. “[Innovators must have] an openness to risk… You’re willing to take risks where you might fail, but you learn something from that failure and move forward,” he continued, emphasizing, “[You need] a tolerance for ambiguity…you’re withholding that need for immediate closure.”

10. Set a tone of risk-taking.

Most professionals feel that their firms and departments are not taking enough risks. However, the risk is essential to enhance your business’s competitive advantage and encourage workplace creativity.

When appropriate, empower employees to make bold decisions and push them to take calculated risks instead of micromanaging them.

The Importance of Creativity in the Workplace was originally published on by Deanna Ritchie. Featured Image Credit: NextVoyage; Pexels. Thank you!

How to Run an Efficient Team With Fewer People

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How to Run an Efficient Team With Fewer People

A quick glance at the Fortune 500 will show you some well-oiled corporate machines that dominate their respective industries. Small companies and startups will try to emulate those same business models with varying degrees of success. Is it possible for a small organization to run a team as efficiently as a business behemoth?

The answer is yes, but you might have to customize your approach to fit your specific team. Running a small-scale team is a much more intimate and detail-oriented matter, but when done correctly, it can be just as efficient as any company you compare yourself to.

This article will help you and your team increase your efficiency and help your small business find great success even with fewer people on deck.

Lean on Automation

When operating with a small team, look for ways to automate basic tasks that take up a lot of time when performed manually. This frees up your team members and allows them to focus their attention elsewhere, getting much more done in a regular day. 

Take online appointment software, for example. With this solution in place, customers can book their own appointments, check future availability, and even make payments without the help of a customer representative. You’ll no longer need to have a team member on the phones all day helping customers do those things.

You can automate a whole bunch of tasks — outreach emails, invoice reminders, social media posts — if you have the right tools for it. Look for solutions that will take control of basic tasks so that your team can focus on more complex assignments. 

Focus on Team Communication

You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it once again. Communication is absolutely vital for teams of all shapes and sizes. Even one miscommunication can be quite disruptive.

Improving team communication doesn’t have to be complicated. Try using project management software or an instant messaging platform to keep everyone on the same page. Hold consistent meetings and touch base with your employees on a regular basis. Ultimately, successful communication comes down to the effort you put into it, so don’t let a day go by where you’re not communicating with your team in some way. 

Another important aspect of communication is gathering feedback. Ask your team about what’s working and what’s not working, then use that information to change your workflows. Few things will improve your team’s efficiency more than listening to their process improvement ideas and putting them into practice. 

Manage Workloads

Some miscommunications are worse than others. One side effect of bad communication is poor workload management. With a small team, especially in a startup, there’s a chance that some members are taking on far more tasks than their peers, which creates a distinct disparity between co-workers. If the imbalance persists, it can begin to breed resentment.

You might appreciate that your hardest-working employee is taking on as many assignments as possible, but the truth is that they’re likely experiencing some diminishing returns on their productivity. If they’re biting off more than they can chew, it won’t be long before errors occur or something has to be pushed aside.

By managing the workload over your entire team, projects can be distributed more evenly. This will likely result in tasks being completed much faster than if a single person was trying to do everything on their own. 

Build a Positive Team Culture

Company culture might seem superficial, but employees are valuing culture more now than ever. A positive company culture will draw in better employee prospects, which will naturally increase your efficiency by introducing more good workers into the mix.

In addition, your culture will directly affect team morale on a daily basis. If your team enjoys coming to work every day and mingling with their co-workers, they’ll work harder and more efficiently together. A poor culture will cause team members to drag their feet and potentially even look for a different employer.

How do you build a positive culture? There are a number of different approaches, and the ones you choose will depend on your team’s values. Casual wear, a revamped break room, team lunches, and after-work activities are all possibilities to consider. 

Promote Autonomy with Your Team

As a leader, it’s important to be hands-on with your team. However, you need to avoid becoming a micromanager. Going too far in the “helping” direction can actually hurt productivity and efficiency. 

While remaining involved, promote autonomy throughout your team. Make yourself available for questions and guidance, but don’t stick your nose in when you’re not needed. This might be difficult to achieve if you’re an entrepreneur working on your startup, but it’ll pay off in the long run.

If you want to measure how these tips are working for your team, start tracking some key metrics (hours worked per process, cost of goods/services sold, etc.) that you can compare over time. As you see those numbers improve, you’ll know you’re turning your small team into an efficiency powerhouse. 

5 Best Team Management Apps

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5 Best Team Management Apps

In today’s fast-paced workplace, communication is essential. Helpful collaboration software — like team management apps — makes it simple. Since workflows with multiple steps and components are passed around to various departments and team members, most of whom might not even be in the same building on a day-to-day basis.

Using effective team management apps can be vital in keeping everyone on the same page and streamlining tasks. Options are available for scheduling, task tracking, integration with complementary programs, document storage, and a host of other functions that can be ignored or executed, depending on your team’s specific needs.

Here are the five best team management apps to keep your members on track:


Teamwork allows multiple people working on a single project to collaborate efficiently. Designed primarily for teams, the free version, built for individuals and small groups, offers basic task management, the setting of milestones, and messaging. Teamwork is a good choice for the individual or office that values ease of use. The setup process is minimal and not nearly as complex to use as some other options. It is also compatible with integration on other major apps such as Slack and QuickBooks.

The teamwork app really excels at bringing its users along as they move from working through a simple to-do list to more elaborate projects with multiple moving parts. It also allows everyone connected to any project to see, at a glance, which tasks have been completed and to whom they were assigned. That feature keeps others motivated as no one wants to be the one person preventing others from moving forward.

As an added benefit, Teamwork offers multiple packages and pricing points to provide great flexibility. Employers can choose which functions would be most beneficial for their purposes and choose the corresponding package accordingly.

2.’s strength lies in its ability to visualize tasks in a way that makes them instantly comprehensible to end-users. The interface is deceptively simple to use at first glance but hides a ton of features. As a result, the features are harder to use and have a steep learning curve.

Updates to team members occur in real-time. So, everyone attached to a project is aware of every development on their to-do list. easily accommodates cross-departmental project management. Tutorials are helpful and clear. Spreadsheet enthusiasts might wish allowed workflow integrations to be easier. Integration aside, its ease of use and organizational capacity make it an excellent choice for organizations of all sizes.

3. ClickUp

ClickUp requires a little bit more time for initial deployment, but many organizations find the extra effort is well worth the payoff. Additionally, ClickUp can organize surface tasks by the due date, responsible party, or just about any other criteria you care to program. Users work from a single dashboard that toggles back and forth easily.

The ClickUp interface facilitates internal, task-specific communication and a to-do list that bolsters accountability and provides a running account for future reference. If ClickUp suffers from anything, it’s the sheer depth of its features that can sometimes confuse end-users. Set aside some time upfront to teach your people which features you’ll use — and those you’re planning to ignore — and your team should be good to go.

4. Asana

Asana does a great job of allowing your business to manage day-to-day tasks and engage in high-level planning all in one place. Users of Asana like its ability to put all of their sticky notes, files, and data in one place. Asana is not specifically geared to the needs of an individual user quite as well as it is for teams, though it can certainly be used for teams. Strengths in the team settings include task allocation and tracking, collaboration, and virtual meeting management.

Asana sets up in minutes and features an interface that allows Type A personalities to enjoy their work as they check off completed tasks one after the other. A great user experience includes not overwhelming a user but serving up to-do list tasks in manageable chunks.

Another perk is the program’s regular upgrades and additions of features. On an annual basis, Asana has been adding functions such as video voicemails, voice to text, and personalization of the user’s task interface. They also continuously update available app integrations. Having a program that continuously adapts to user preferences rather than remaining stagnant is helpful in any team product. As a result, the office communication feature is constantly evolving.

5. Google Tasks

As you might expect, the Google entry into creating a to-do list was designed primarily to connect large teams. However, Google also designed it to connect teams across boundaries of time and geography. The Google Task interface will be immediately intuitive to anyone who is already familiar with the use of Google products such as Gmail.

Unsurprisingly, Google Tasks integrates perfectly with other Google products, making ramp-up time minimal. While getting customer service for Google Tasks can be difficult — most users shouldn’t need it. While Google Tasks can hardly be classified as rich in features, it includes all of the basics of team-oriented task management. Those looking for highly personalized options for complex projects in large teams may want to look elsewhere. However, for pre-existing Google users looking to dive in quickly, this app might be the path of least resistance. The transition is effortless from a viewer interface standpoint. The ease is because the design mimics other Google products the user recognizes and can easily navigate.


The workforce is no longer in the days when, with few exceptions, employees exclusively came into a brick-and-mortar building every day. Being in the same physical space every day meant team members could collaborate face to face with their coworkers. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case with the rise of remote or hybrid work options and innovative technology.

So, have a system in place, whether your team is large, small, in-office, or remote. Having your app choice in place will help keep your team functioning as a cohesive unit is vital in workflow efficiency. There are numerous options available for team management apps and software. So, it’s essential to choose the system that is most valuable for your business and your team.

Image credit: MOHI SYED; Pexels; thank you!

5 Best Team Management Apps was originally published on Calendar by John Hall.

How a ‘Back to School’ Mindset Can Boost Your Team’s Motivation

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How a ‘Back to School’ Mindset Can Boost Your Team’s Motivation

Fall means going back to school, as you’re sure to have noticed with all the August and September sales that took place at retail stores across the country. Those first couple of months back can be exciting for kids as they move up a grade or even change schools entirely. 

Now that we’re further into the academic year, some of that excitement may have faded, but that doesn’t make school any less important. Maintaining that excitement throughout the school year often leads to better grades, a fuller social life, and less stress. 

There are a lot of parallels between the classroom and the workplace. We can get excited when starting a new job or getting a promotion, but that enthusiasm can quickly fade into a case of the Mondays. These feelings can really bog a team down, so here’s why and how a “back to school” mindset can kickstart your team’s motivation.

Starting Fresh

Entering a new school year is all about starting fresh. Unless you’re beginning a new job, getting that feeling at work is a little more challenging. However, there are still ways you can bring that fresh-start vibe to your workplace and reenergize even your longest-tenured employees. 

Getting a renewed start might be as simple as rearranging seating in the office, adding some different amenities, or giving everyone a potted plant for their desk. Small changes like these can make a considerable impact on productivity just by injecting novel elements into the regular routine.

Try not to get too carried away and change everything up, though. A complete revamp of your office space or work approach introduces a lot of variables that can be unpredictable. It’s often better to begin with one thing at a time to see how your team responds to each change. 

Looking to Learn

Some people outgrow the learning mindset they developed during their school years. Even though there are no homework assignments or lectures to stay on top of, learning should remain an integral part of your life. It will help you become better at your job or even open up new career opportunities. 

Encourage your employees to keep learning and enable them to do so. Some companies offer tuition reimbursements to their workers who want to take college or grad school courses. While you don’t have to go as far as paying off student loans, you should at least look for ways to help your team continue to learn and grow.

For example, you can pay your team members’ way to a conference in your industry. They’ll get some great new ideas from industry experts, network with other professionals, and bond together as a squad. Assisting team members in obtaining new certifications is another way to help them and your business grow simultaneously. 

Making New Friends

A new school year means new friends to meet in classes, at lunch, and on sports teams. Camaraderie with teammates sure makes school more enjoyable, and the same can be said for the office. After all, you spend a significant percentage of your time among co-workers, so it makes sense that being friends with them would make the workplace a more pleasant place to be. 

Team-building activities will help even longtime co-workers share a laugh and learn something new about each other. Take your team out for dinner, host a poker tournament in the break room, or make time for some speed meeting (i.e., workplace speed dating) during lunchtime. Teams that play hard together work even harder together.

These activities are just as important for remote teams. Employees who work from home often feel detached from their team, which can cause motivation and company identity to deteriorate. Start planning biweekly Zoom happy hours to bring your virtual team together and give remote workers something to look forward to. 

Pay Attention to Deadlines

School is all about juggling different class schedules and making sure you don’t miss a single due date. At work, deadlines are still an important factor in maintaining productivity and motivation. When deadlines loom, people naturally tend to work harder to get things done.

Talk with your team about how to implement more effective deadlines and use them to boost motivation. They might be feeling overwhelmed by the number of deadlines you set and need you to cut back a little. Other individuals might ask for more granular deadlines to help them focus their attention on intermediate checkpoints.

A rewards system is also worth considering. Schools have used incentives for many years, be they end-of-year pizza parties or upcoming field trips for students who turn in all their assignments on time. You can use a similar approach to give your team members the motivation they need even on the most difficult of days. 

Just as a teacher is responsible for making learning effective and enjoyable, as a leader, you are expected to keep team motivation high all year round. So follow these tips to rekindle the back-to-school flame in your team. The results will speak for themselves as your newly motivated team moves your business further forward. 

7 Football Funding Ideas for Your Kid’s Team

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7 Football Funding Ideas for Your Kid’s Team

Football season is in full swing, and many teams need funding. Jerseys and equipment aren’t cheap, and numerous youth coaches are volunteers. So, to finance an entire season for your kids team, parents and kids band together to do some fundraising.

Fundraising requires equal parts hard work, creativity, and generosity. Some people will donate no matter what, but putting together a good fundraising campaign can help you get enough for not one but two end-of-season pizza parties for your kids team. Here are seven ideas you can try out this season:

1. Car Wash

There’s no fundraising method more classic than a car wash. A car wash provides a nice service to the community while also doubling as a fun team bonding activity for the team. Likewise, a Calendar event will make it easy to coordinate with other team parents and share the event with family and friends hoping to attend and lend support.

You don’t always have to run a car wash to run a successful fundraiser, especially if other teams do the same thing. The team can mow lawns together, hold a bake sale, or even paint fences. Use your imagination to develop the best fundraising event for your team and community, and use your Calendar to make it happen.

2. Sponsor Banners

There are plenty of local entrepreneurs who would love to support a team and advertise their business simultaneously. These banners can be placed around the field at games or will sometimes even be printed on the back of the players’ jerseys. Spectators will see these logos and be prompted to support the businesses that support their team.

Sponsor banners typically follow a tier-based system. The more money a business donates, the larger its logo will appear on the banner. This incentives more significant donations but also allows anyone to pitch in, even grandparents who want to put their name on the banner along with $10 in support. This is a great way to raise money for your kids team.

3. Discount Cards

Another common youth football tradition is the discount card. These cards contain coupons and deals for dozens of local businesses. A single card can be purchased for a reasonable price, with hundreds of dollars in potential savings waiting to be grabbed.

For example, a discount card might have a deal that can be used for one dollar off of every movie ticket you purchase. A one-dollar discount isn’t a big deal, but with unlimited use, the savings can really add up for the summer. Of course, movie discounts can be stacked on top of buy-one-get-one deals for restaurants and any other discount the card offers.

4. 50/50 Raffle

A 50/50 raffle is simple. Spectators can buy any number of raffle tickets for a chance at 50 percent of the pot. The remaining half is used to fund the team.

You can hold a 50/50 raffle at every single game. Many teams require funding before the season starts, but by running 50/50 raffles throughout the season, you can stockpile funds for the following year. Some generous parents will even donate their winnings from the raffle to the team for twice the fundraising.

5. Halftime Games

Looking for a way to entertain the crowd during halftime? Run a couple of fun games. Parents and siblings can enjoy participating in some carnival-type games while they wait for the action to resume on the field.

An example of a game you can put together is a baseball toss. A radar gun and a backdrop are all you need. Charge five dollars for five baseball throws and track the speeds. You can keep a daily leaderboard and give a prize to the hardest thrower of the night.

After selecting a game or two, you can rotate the responsibility, so one family doesn’t carry the burden all season. Use your Calendar to keep track of each week and which families volunteer to run the halftime booth. If you have extra volunteers, you can even run some activities during the game for those kids who are tired of watching football.

6. Fun Run

Put the fun in fundraiser by putting on a fun run. A fun run will bring the whole community together, and the team can even participate in the event. Fun runs are widespread, so it shouldn’t be challenging to get sign-ups. This is a great way to raise money for your kids team.

The challenge will be putting together a solid racecourse, but a local park with a walking path should do the trick. Put together some music, mile markers, race packets, and some prizes for the winners, and you’re good to go. The first time you put on an event of this magnitude, you’ll feel understandably nervous, but every following event will be a piece of cake.

7. Merchandise

Who doesn’t love to feel like a superstar? Your kids certainly will love it when parents and friends can buy jerseys and t-shirts to support the team at games. In addition, customization options such as last names and numbers will be a huge hit for families looking to get gear for the whole crew.

If you don’t have a t-shirt press handy, there are dozens of websites and even local businesses that can help out. You can even invite a local company out to games to make the merchandise on-site and give them a percentage of the earnings. As a result, they’ll be able to boost their revenue and increase their brand recognition while helping your team raise funds for the season.

If you like more than one fundraising idea, use one now and keep the rest for the years to come. You can use these ideas for other sports as well, providing support to every child in their sport of choice.

Image Credit: sides imagery; pexels; thank you!

7 Football Funding Ideas for Your Kid’s Team was originally published on Calendar by Hunter Meine.

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 Team 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 with your Team

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.

4 Tips for Revamping Team Synergy Now

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Revamp Your Team Synergy

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Two heads are better than one. Many hands make light work. There are so many ways we talk about working together, but one word seems to pop up a lot: synergy. However you choose to characterize work, team synergy is the way companies get things done. Synergy leads to higher productivity, fewer duplicative efforts, and optimal use of talent. But these days, it’s not always an easy dynamic to achieve.

Remote and hybrid working arrangements can make achieving synergy among teams and across departments challenging. You might once have thought these measures were temporary and things would return to a pre-pandemic normal. But the workplace has changed forever, and your team’s expectations have changed right along with it. Here are four tips for revamping your team’s synergy now.

1. Give the Gift of Time

The pandemic has changed the way we think about time when it comes to work. Normal routines have been altered by closures, safety concerns, and the voluntary cessation of unnecessary activities. The distortion is particularly acute to those working remotely.

Nonetheless, work life goes on. There is still a need to schedule appointments, meetings, and interviews, even if they’re going to be virtual. These interactions still need to occur with customers, with clients, within teams, and across departments.

You can increase synergy by using scheduling software that uncomplicates the entire process. Give everyone 24/7 access to everyone else’s calendar, and anyone can put a meeting in an open slot. It’s also a hassle-free way to accommodate the work schedule for remote workers who may not be clocking in for a traditional 9-to-5 work day.

You can’t cultivate synergy without encouraging people to spend quality time together. If you give your team an easy way to make that happen, they’ll have more opportunities to collaborate. And that is the timeless way to make them measurably productive no matter where they are.

2. Blow Lines of Communication Wide Open

Clear, open, and honest communication is a cornerstone of team synergy. Without that type of communication occurring at all levels, teams become breeding grounds for misinformation. That, in turn, feeds distrust and anxiety, which are completely antithetical to creating positive synergy.

Synergy also relies on the exchange of information and ideas, so communication must be a two-way channel. You may be the person charged with setting goals for your team, but you shouldn’t do so in a vacuum. Remember, you’ve hired some talented people, so give them a shot at weighing in on the discussion.

Many team members may work remotely all or part of the time, so make sure your team has the tech tools they need to keep ideas flowing freely. Messaging, meeting, and collaboration software are essential to synergy.

One-on-one, team, and departmental communication isn’t as easy as walking down the hall anymore. Providing a safe space for frank discussion and expression of ideas, and the tools required to facilitate them, keeps everyone part of the conversation. Remember that many voices make for good synergy.

3. Switch Up the Players on the Field

You can have all the very best talent on your team, but it won’t be a winner without the right chemistry. Given the changes to the work environment, the formula might have changed. If so, you might need to switch it up to get your synergy back on.

Of course, the differences between individual team members are critical. A football team needs slow, fast, beefy, svelte, feet-on-the-ground, and fly-through-the-air players to win. A field full of quarterbacks only will fail miserably.

To foster your team’s success, you need to have the right combination of players in the right positions, using their individual strengths to play as a unit. A pre-pandemic team leader might need to take a supporting role due to work-from-home realities. Another might be stepping up in unexpected ways. Aim to synthesize everyone’s strengths while honoring the new realities of how they work. 

You are the coach in this analogy, which means it’s your job to shake up the lineup if the team’s synergy is waning. It’s OK if you don’t get the combination right the first time. But once you do, make no substitutions as long as your team is on a winning streak.

4. Empower Your People

There’s always the temptation for leaders to micromanage team members, but never more so than when they can’t keep an eye on them. Don’t merely resist the temptation. Do the opposite.

Lead with generosity by giving your team more control and being less of an overlord. You might be disappointed with some results but ridiculously delighted with others. You will be providing your team with some valuable lessons that will encourage them to be better employees.

Among the benefits of empowering team members are increases in creativity, collaboration, and corporate loyalty. This doesn’t mean you hand over total control, since, after all, the proverbial buck will continue to stop with you. Your empowered team will still count on you for input and guidance.

Team members are not unlike students who want to impress the teacher. But what they’ll realize is they can’t complete an assignment without the talent and insight of the other members of the team. For that, they need synergy.

There Is No “I” in Synergy

Synergistic results are unpredictable because you never know for sure what solutions will emerge from the intersection of diverse talents and skills. Not to worry — innovation is unpredictable.

What is predictable is that teams without synergy are lackluster and unproductive. Time, communication, and empowerment were easier deliverables back in the day. Although more challenging, they aren’t impossible to deliver now.

All it takes are the right tools, agile leadership, and a commitment to getting all those moving parts working together. The team may look a little different now, but there’s still no “I” in team — or in synergy.

5 Tech Solutions to Help Your Hybrid Team Work Together More Smoothly

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Tech Solutions to Help Your Hybrid Team Work Together More Smoothly

Working from home has kept individuals and families safe from the spread of the COVID-19 virus and has opened a door to hybrid teams. At the same time, it allowed employees to make an income and contribute to the companies they work for. Home offices were set up in record time, and we discovered a whole new meaning to the term “business casual.” 

Since then, numerous workers have decided to continue working remotely at least some of the time. Shelter-at-home orders caused many to come to an important realization. Being closer to family, having more flexibility, and leaving their morning commute behind made them happier and more productive. According to McKinsey, more than 50% of employees would prefer to work from home three or more days per week. 

Demand for solutions that allow teams to collaborate across long distances in real time was high, and tech companies were happy to provide them. Now there are hundreds of team collaboration tools that span multiple uses and purposes. For those in leadership positions, learning how to leverage productivity software can make every workday more efficient than the last. 

In this article, we’ll talk about managing hybrid teams and what tech solutions are available to make every project run more smoothly. 

Managing Hybrid Teams in 2021

The pandemic undoubtedly forced companies to experiment with new ways of operating. Bosses got used to not seeing their subordinates at their desks, and employees became increasingly accustomed to working from home. 

When pandemic restrictions began to lift, it brought further change. The transition back to the workplace from all-remote work gave birth to an in-office and remote work experience. Leaders were faced with organizing hybrid teams with no definitive guidance to direct them. 

Feeling their way toward the optimal hybrid workplace, managers have had to balance the requirements of two groups of employees. Fortunately, there are many tech solutions that make collaboration across hybrid teams both effective and efficient. 

Hybrid Team Tech Solutions

Hybrid teams need specialized tools that cater to both in-office and remote team members’ needs without compromising productivity. Here are some of the ways that technology can help leaders manage their hybrid teams:

1. Hybrid Team Communication

Effective communication is key to a successful hybrid working environment. Instant messaging platforms allow teams to communicate in real time. Answering questions instantly prevents project bottlenecks from arising. When team brainstorming is required, video conferencing tools enable both remote and in-office workers to participate equally. 

Popular apps like Slack and Zoom also offer integrations, making them easy to use in conjunction with your other collaboration tools. Other examples of team communication tools include Flowdock for messaging and file sharing and GoToMeeting for video conferencing.

2. Scheduling

Working remotely has some perks, but it’s easy to lose track of time and blur the lines between work and home. Keeping everyone organized and in step although working in separate spaces can be quite tricky. 

That’s where appointment scheduling software can come in handy, while also helping remote workers instill more structure in their workdays. Scheduling tools like Google Calendar,, and all provide digital calendars that sync across several devices, allowing teams to plan together. 

3. Project Management

Managing projects and tasks when your team members are separated by distance is difficult. Project management tools help leaders coordinate, monitor progress, and keep track of objectives no matter where team members are located. Managers can clearly communicate action items by incorporating tools such as Asana,, ProofHub, and Trello into their hybrid workflows. 

4. Task Collaboration

Employees are often required to work together to complete certain tasks and create the best outcomes. Collaboration tools allow multiple people to create together. Tools like CodingTeam that encourage visibility are perfect for collective code building. 

Services such as Google Docs and Quip enable both in-office and remote employees to edit spreadsheets and documents in real time. They also allow you to transfer and share files with vendors or clients outside the hybrid office.

5. Team Learning

Collaborative learning solutions help teams overcome obstacles by ensuring that everyone is up-to-date on the latest policies, practices, and procedures. Additionally, platforms like Gong allow teams to leverage best practices from high-achieving performers so that everyone can increase their productivity and overall success. 

Transparency and teamwork are imperative in a hybrid workspace. Collaborative learning platforms help managers consistently enforce new policies and employees learn new processes, keeping everyone on the same page.


The pandemic caused a dramatic shift in how we do almost everything, including the way that we work. We learned that productivity is possible outside of the office. We also learned how much we crave human connection. Lucky for us, the increase in collaboration tools means it has never been easier for employees to work together, separately. 

In these unprecedented times, it is likely that hybrid offices are here to stay. Some employees prefer to work from home, while others thrive in the office. Still others enjoy the flexibility of being able to do both. Fortunately, these tech tools can help you work out the kinks as you navigate the new normal in the workplace. 

5 Practical Tips for Keeping Your Team Organized

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5 Practical Tips for Keeping Your Team Organized

Your business might be made up of an organized, established, everyday team, or you might be assembling a project-oriented team to address a specific issue. Whatever the case, we all know that throwing people together on a team can produce mixed results. Productivity and effectiveness can vary widely based on skills, experience, personality, or simply placing the wrong person in the driver’s seat.

Whether your team is permanent or temporary, there are some basic, commonsense principles to apply. The way you handle team expectations can make or break any initiative.

Here are five tips you can use or modify to suit specific team needs.

1. Pick your communication tools carefully and use them effectively.

Nowadays, there are a number of communication tools designed to help teams share issues and progress. Effective and timely communication often makes the difference between project completion and seemingly endless delays. If you’re not currently using something to facilitate communication within teams, you might consider looking for a solution that works well in your particular context. Here are some options:

  • Trello allows users to create “cards” that help organize a list of tasks to be completed. Each card may include a checklist to indicate progress. All of your team members have the ability to edit a card, which makes for easier collaboration.
  • Asana limits the number of team members to 15. It features user-friendly “like” and “thumbs up” functions. The ability to view the popularity of an entry at a glance can bring enhanced clarity for decision-making. It can also cut down dramatically on the need for meetings.
  • Slack functions as a chat room for teams. Team members can get quick responses from colleagues even when they are scattered across the globe. Businesses that implement Slack tend to notice a sharp drop-off in the need to send and receive emails.
  • Basecamp syncs to Google Drive and Google Calendar and offers a cloud-based solution that tracks both productivity and time spent on specific projects. Companies that bill based on staff time tend to use Basecamp to evaluate ROI by project, customer, and assigned staff.
  • Teamwork Projects works best by breaking down large tasks into bite-size chunks and assigning them out to individuals. Each subtask can be given specific milestones and deadlines.

2. Use a team calendar for organized project reporting.

Your team members are routinely walking around with more computing horsepower in their pocket than was necessary to put Apollo 11 on the moon. You should only leverage smartphone apps to keep team members on task without being intrusive. While these devices make it possible for your team members to work constantly, you also want to avoid burning them out.

Step one is to create a project calendar on a platform that provides easy access to all staff. Many apps offer a granular approach to permission setting such that various team members can merely comment while others can make deadline edits. When setting up your team calendar, make sure you select a resource that allows you to evaluate progress regularly.

3. Assign specific tasks to specific individuals.

The importance of giving team members both responsibility and ownership can hardly be overstated. When these are lacking, confusion reigns and employees are encouraged to play a perpetual game of Pass the Buck.

Making sure an individual knows and accepts responsibility for the completion of a specific task is an art. If you are too “soft” or otherwise unclear, this can serve as an invitation to not take deadlines and milestones seriously. Should you veer into the opposite ditch and become overly authoritarian, you stifle employees’ willingness to be creative.

If you notice specific tasks that are falling behind schedule, reach out to the responsible team member privately. It may be necessary to reassign that individual, but they will appreciate your not shaming them in a team meeting. Another benefit is that you will learn things in a one-on-one conversation that you will never hear in a group setting.

4. Make team responsibilities organized and abundantly clear.

Be clear on roles and responsibilities. If team members must come to you or another manager to address every problem that arises, you can expect the team to get bogged down in frequent delays. Head off this common issue by designating a team leader to handle team problems. Each task should have one identified person responsible for reporting back.

Resist micromanagement. Give team members the authority to create subchannels using your communications tool. Encourage efficiency by allowing people to communicate only with the people affected by a specific issue. Allowing subchannel chatter encourages people to take greater ownership and frees you from managing the minutiae of every task.

Establishing responsibilities in this manner will make your team more efficient, as people can keep working without stopping to ask permission for every move they make. Clarify which types of issues require your approval. The rest of the time, your team can take primary responsibility for the details.

5. Hold only necessary meetings and require actionable agendas.

Keep organized team meetings few and short. Experiment with allowing meetings to last no longer than 15 minutes. After all, the purpose of meetings is to decide upon a course of action. Far too many discussions end up devolving into purposeless chatter. Make it clear that each team member should leave every meeting with action items.

As many meetings now occur remotely, inform team members that being on time and well prepared are still requirements. Urge your meeting moderator to avoid statements such as, “We still have 10 minutes left. Is there anything else?” Such questions imply that the purpose of the meeting is to use up the time rather than create a to-do list.

Once you draw up the action items, dismiss everyone. Results-oriented discussions help make meetings painless.

Keep in mind that “Your mileage may vary.”

Every business is unique. Even upper-level franchise managers will tell you that “identical” locations can vary greatly from another simply due to issues of geography, culture, population, and climate. The organizational principles listed above may or may not work flawlessly in your setting, so feel free to experiment with the practices that draw the best response from your team.

6 Ways to Keep Your Team on Task Without Micromanaging

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6 Ways to Keep Your Team on Task Without Micromanaging

According to a study of U.S. workers, over 80% of employees admit to keeping their phones close by while working. While technology offers several benefits, it can be incredibly distracting. If you’re managing a team, you’ve probably seen firsthand just how often employees grab their phones while in the office. 

Whether they’re scrolling through social media or texting friends, smartphones are just one distraction that keeps team members from effectively performing tasks. How can you fight tech and other distractions and help your team stay productive in today’s often virtual environment? Read on for tips on how to keep your team on task without becoming Big Brother: 

1. Hire the Conscientious

You’ll have fewer problems keeping your team on track if you hire the right kind of people in the first place. During the interview process, focus on candidates’ traits as much as their skills and credentials. Look to hire individuals who are self-starters and able to focus their attention on the objectives at hand.   

Ask candidates to describe a time they had to take the initiative to see that a project or task was completed. Seek out those who have operated successfully in unsupervised work environments. When you hire people who have demonstrated the ability to work productively when no one’s watching, you’ll create a company culture of accountability.

2. Make Sure You’re Communicating Effectively 

If your team is struggling to stay on task, consider how well you’re communicating information. Ask yourself, “Am I making my priorities clear?” In today’s hybrid environment, it’s easier than ever for wires to get crossed and information to get lost. Even if you think you’re communicating effectively, your objectives might not be reaching everyone.  

Instead of sticking to what you’ve always done, experiment with other forms of communication. For example, integrate more video calls, schedule one-on-ones, and hold brief team standups. You might also want to consider reaching out to your employees and asking what forms of communication they prefer so you can make sure you’re getting your points across through the best means possible.  

3. Provide Regular Feedback 

Believe it or not, employees like feedback. In fact, according to a study by Officevibe, 82% of employees value both positive and negative feedback. On some level, they know that hearing both the good and the bad about their performance will help them improve it. 

If you’re not already providing your team with regular feedback, there’s no better time to start. One way to do so is with the aforementioned one-on-ones. In these meetings, you can bring up specific issues that are causing your employees to get off task. 

If, for example, you notice an employee spends a lot of time posting funny memes on the team Slack channel, point it out. You could ask them to confine the just-for-fun posts to Fridays, thus encouraging more on-task behavior during the week while not squelching team camaraderie altogether. 

4. Praise Good Work

According to HubSpot data, almost 70% of employees say they’d work harder if they felt more appreciated. In addition to providing feedback on performance, make sure you’re also recognizing good work.

When an employee completes a task successfully and in a timely manner, thank them. You don’t have to do anything huge, but acknowledge the hard work and dedication they’re putting in. For your employees to succeed — and want to keep succeeding — they need to feel appreciated. Whether that means sending a short email, featuring them in a social media post, or giving them a public shout-out at a team meeting, a little gesture of recognition goes a long way.

5. Integrate Remote Work Tools

Keeping your team on task may seem particularly challenging in a remote work environment. Fortunately, there are several project management tools that are ideal for remote workers. No longer do you need to rely on emails and phone calls to manage project tasks. Instead, you can integrate a project management system to help your virtual employees collaborate. 

Tools like Asana, Monday, and Basecamp let teams create projects, assign tasks, and track deadlines. If a task is overdue, the system will let the assignee — and the whole team — know it. There will be no need for you to ride herd on your team when the software does the task monitoring for you. 

6. Prioritize Work/Life Balance 

It’s all well and good to want your team to stay on task. To keep employees motivated, though, make sure you’re not requiring too much. While you want employees who are willing to work hard, you don’t want to overwork them. If you do, employees are likely to burn out, and then you’ll really be kissing effective task completion goodbye! 

To avoid this, make sure you’re prioritizing a good work/life balance for your team. Be flexible when it comes to when and where employees work. They’ll be better able to focus on the task at hand if they’re not worrying whether someone’s going to be home when the kids return from school. In addition, encourage your employees to take breaks during the day and offer paid time off. Employees will return from their time off energized and eager to get back down to work. 

As an employer, it’s important to make sure your employees are staying on task. With more people working from home, it can be a challenge to effectively manage what your employees are doing. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. From using the right tools to maintaining team motivation, the tips above will help you keep your employees on task without becoming overbearing. 

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