Top Tips and Tools to Improve your Productivity

Top Tips and Tools to Improve your Productivity

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Guest post from Signable.

At Signable HQ, we’re big believers in embracing technology – as you’d come to expect from a software company. But we don’t just rely on our own technology to help things along, we embrace a few other tools, too.

Today it’s easier than it’s ever been to find an app to help with a problem you’re having. Technology is everywhere you look, which has enabled enormous productivity gains for businesses everywhere. 64% of SMB’s are already adopting software solutions, and this is growing to an estimated 88% by 2017. But with such a saturated market, it can be difficult to spot the right solution. Which is why we’ve put together some of the favorites we use, and just how they help us achieve higher, improve productivity and a happy team.

1. Keep it simple – have a to-do list with Remember The Milk

Start with something simple. Remember The Milk is a straightforward app that you add your to-do list to. Easy right? You can organize whether you’re using for work or personal, set reminders for specific tasks, break tasks down into subtasks and of course, share your tasks with others.

By organizing your daily tasks and having the reassurance of set reminders, you can comfortably carry on with tasks, knowing that you’re not forgetting anything and reduce stress around any tasks that could have tight deadlines.

2. Be transparent and encourage communication – use Hipchat

Adopting this approach is a great start. Hipchat is a chat platform which we use every day to talk about all things Signable. And of course, all things not. It’s an incredibly useful tool which we’ve come to rely on as our central hub for communication and information. Having a central point for all your information means that you keep everything searchable, and if a team member is busy, they get to prioritize their work over being interrupted (breaking someone’s concentration is definitely not cool), by checking in with the chat when they’re ready.

By creating a culture where communication is completely open we rely less and less on internal email – this helps save time clearing down emails every morning! It also means cutting team members out of the loop is kept to a minimum, and gives us the option to work in a distributed way if need, or want, be. And giving your team that freedom means you’ll have one happy team, if Team Signable is anything to go by, anyway.

3. Keep it simple & plan your processes – use Trello

We just want to start by saying; Trello is great. Its idea is a simple one, but can be used in a lot of different ways – and Team Signable uses it to help with their day to day work.

Trello is essentially a software tool that helps you make lists. And that’s just how we use it. By creating boards specific to each department or project and within them, sections of lists for work that’s planned. Each list has individual cards with tasks which can be assigned to team members as needed. Within these teams are able to have conversations specific to that task, or add comments & updates, and notifications are sent to all parties involved in each task whenever a change or update happens.

Having work planned out in an interactive and visual way helps organize our workloads as well as encouraging collaboration. This means that as and when new ideas come to someone, it’s easier to contribute and can be done according to their schedule. While reinforcing a view that everyone’s opinion is valued.

4. Simplify sending documents – go paperless with Signable!

We might be a bit biased on this point, but if your business sends documents in any capacity, an e-signature solution is super beneficial. Signable helps to improve productivity by sending documents to its signer instantly and by removing a time consuming paper-based filing system.

Our electronic signatures are also a very effective way of making a recruitment process sleeker. As soon as you have selected your successful candidate you can immediately email their contract through the e-signature platform. They can then review and sign according to their schedule, or even on-the-go, and contracts are returned as soon as they’re completed. Removing the need for in-store visits and cut out printing and postage costs. Meaning that teams get to finish work quicker increasing their productivity and take their focus away from admin to focus on other aspects of their work.

So give them a try! By utilizing tools that up your team’s output, you’ll consequently see a boost in team morale. Cementing a culture where the staff is encouraged in a positive way to always be improving. Win-win!

 

How to motivate millennials at work

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Being a mobile and social employee recognition platform, here at Tap My Back we like to focus our attention on millennials and how to motivate them at the workplace. By next year, millennials will account 36% of the U.S. workforce, and by 2020, millennials will be half of all workers. Studies say most of them are not engaged in the companies, so how can we motivate them? Here some ways to do it.

Give them work-life balance and be flexible

Millennials have different needs when it comes to personal and social life. They are more likely to have low motivation when they are working in a rigid 9 to 5 schedule, every single day. See how they perform better and don’t be afraid to be flexible. Let them do their own schedule or even work at home. You’ll probably be surprised by the increase in productivity you’ll see. See a Millennial watching a YouTube video or browsing Instagram at work? Don’t worry, it’s just how they relax and has nothing to do with being lazy or unprofessional.

Invest in their training

Millennials are eager to learn. They are constantly absorbing huge amounts of information online and via multiple channels. They are great multitaskers and learn fast. Very fast! Invest in their training and let them try new things. They want professional development and that’s a key factor for millennial talent retention.

Give them continuous feedback

Millennials don’t like the formal annual evaluation process. Their world moves fast and is real-time. They like to have continuous feedback on what they are doing. Don’t wait for them to ask about their performance, use regular meetings, coffee breaks or other moments to advise constructive critics and compliments. You can also use some kind of continuous feedback and public recognition software, like Tap My Back 🙂

Give them responsibility

Millennials may seem a generation that doesn’t like responsibility but it’s all looks. If you want to motivate a millennial you have to give them tasks where they feel some kind of ownership. They want to make decisions and they like to take risks.

Give them mentors

Don’t think that by giving them responsibility you should leave them alone to take all decisions and to learn everything by themselves. On the contrary! Millennials have a special need for guidance and for having a mentor that they can look up to. Partner them with top performers and you’ll see a great boost in productivity and morale.

Use their techie DNA

They were born digital, connected and fast-paced. They learn about new technologies every day and they know how to use it to solve problems. Talk to them to know if they can help in any task with their technological skills and know how. They will feel appreciated for their skills and you’ll get problems solved in very creative ways.

COMPENSATION PACKAGE

Millennials expect more than just salary. The value paid lunch, health benefits and tangible rewards for their efforts. Stock options for startups are also a great incentive to engage recent grad employees. When basic compensation expectations are met, then recognition takes charge. If they are satisfied with their salary, you’ll probably get more motivation and productivity by giving them public recognition for their work, then by doing an upgrade in their paycheck.

By now, you are probably thinking «This motivation techniques should be done not only for millennials but for all employees!». You know what? That’s absolutely true. Millennials are regular people and more importantly, each person is unique and has different needs. For a leader to motivate employees, he or she has to know them on a personal level and understand what kind of person is behind the employee tag number. That’s the secret to staff motivation: to forget about the word staff and substitute it by the words human being.

If you do that, maybe you won’t get this kind of numbers between how Millennials see themselves and how HR Professionals see them.

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Want to test our team motivation feature for free? Just click here, create your team and start our employee engagement program.

Create your team and try Tap My Back

3 Leadership Principles Every Leader Needs to Remember

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With so many blogs, approaches and tips on leadership, how to pick the right one for you? As in any other context, there is no simple formula for a good leadership. Circumstances change and people need to adapt accordingly. That is why there are so many approaches to leadership. The variety of perspectives reveal different experiences and give answers to the different challenges leaders need to deal with. This is a good thing!

Despite this diversity, there are some important rules of leadership that need to be considered. Following our analysis of the top ten leadership blogs, we discovered that most of the approaches and tips fitted into three basic principles of leadership.

Networking

Leaders cannot be leaders alone. In order to do it, leaders and followers must be or feel connected with each other. As an intermediary between people, one of the leader’s priorities is to try to generate strong and healthy bonds with and within an organization. When this happens, leadership helps to reinforce a group, making it more solid, more cohesive. Within this context, experts in leadership give some interesting advice. Keep in contact and communicate with your team through one-to-one conversations, regular staff meetings, going around the office (s) saying hello to people, sending email on special occasions, etc. Communication (talking and listening) is a great way of developing a sense of belonging and mutual trust. Bottom line, it’s much easier to lead someone who sees the leader, although with a different mission, as an ally, a member of the team.

Direction

A leader must lead the way. Leadership should work as a gravitational force that not only concentrates dispersed human energy but also orients that energy in the right direction. Providing direction has an internal and an external dimension. At the internal level, when giving guidance, establishing priorities or leading by example, a leader should contribute to bringing out the best of people, so teams become more efficient, more effective and harmonious. At the external level, a leader should select the missions that motivate a team and contribute for the success of an organization.

In sum, direction means focusing the efforts on the right battles. How? For instance, a leader must communicate and be clear about the collective and individual goals. In this way, people understand what is expected of them and the desired results. Frequent communication is imperative to assure everyone is aligned with the global mission. It’s also a way to reinforce the sense of belonging, i.e. each team member knows he is contributing to something bigger. Leading the way also means motivating a team and setting the example. While working hard to achieve a goal, team members may step on some stumbling blocks. In this situation, a leader must show a positive attitude towards problems by never giving up, by reminding everyone all the good things that were already accomplished and the importance of the ultimate outcome, why this goal is worth the effort.

Leadership is not about the leader

Whether in a team, a department, a company or a country, leadership is always about a collective project. Leadership is a noble but difficult mission. With all the stress and responsibility that comes with coordination and decision-making, some leaders may start thinking that it’s all about them. They may even think they deserve more recognition, rewards, power and to be the priority of the organization because nothing would work without them. One way to avoid this tendency is to stay connected with the rest of the team, and especially with close people who care more about the bigger purpose than hierarchy or prestige. As a leader, you need advisors who aren’t afraid to confront you, to be honest with you and to remind you what is your role and your mission.

Tap My Back is a recognition and feedback employee software that allows anyone within a company to share private feedback and praise each-other in a public way. Start now and improve employee engagement!

Create your team and try Tap My Back

10 Ways How Not Motivate Your Staff

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You are so good at your job that I will keep you indefinitely in that position, without new and challenging tasks!

Sometimes is hard for an employer to let their best team members try new things, just because they now at what tasks they can excel and bring value to the company. But even a guru in a specific area needs, from time to time, new and exciting challenges. Things he or she doesn’t know how to do right away. Recognize good work with new responsibilities and confidence they can do an amazing job out of their comfort zone.

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You didn’t know you were making things wrong? I frowned a lot, you should’ve noticed.

Don’t be that kind of boss that doesn’t give continuous feedback to your team. Don’t wait until the (boring) annual performance review to let your employees know what they are doing wrong. Give them hints; guide them through the mistakes they will naturally make. Don’t expect your team to know everything and to acknowledge by magic if you are happy or not with their work. Give them feedback and promote a culture where they are comfortable to ask you about your opinion on their job.

That’s a dumb idea you have there!

There are no dumb ideas… wrong! Of course, they are! We all know that sometimes everyone drops a stupid idea in a brainstorming, in a meeting or at the coffee machine. Keep it calm and don’t destroy the idea right away, try to know the reasons behind it. If you shut down all ideas, your team will be afraid to present you new ones. And you never know, when after a ridiculous idea comes a great one that can change the game. Be subtle when rejecting ideas, especially if more than one in a row coming from the same person.

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Let me review everything you just did… (because I don’t trust you)

Micromanaging is a b**ch. When you want to review everything an employee just did, you are thinking you are passing an image of da edicated boss but in fact ,you are saying you have trust issues. Let the creativity and sense of responsibility flourish inside your team, let them make decisions. Let them make mistakes.

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I’m busting my a** off!

Yeah… nobody cares. Don’t bring your problems to the team. Don’t try to make them feel sorry for you. You are the boss; you have a better paycheck so you should be busting it off. Don’t bring that kind of negative energy to the team, you should be the one they look up as the one that can get stuff done. That can solve their problems and that is able to keep it all together. They are probably working hard, figuring out new things all week, they don’t need to know about your problems. It’s hard, I know, that’s why you are the boss.

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Congratulations! (in private)

Employee recognition and appraisal have a lot more results in terms of motivation if they are done in public. People live for the applause and want their peers to see their achievements.

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You are doing everything wrong! (in public)

Big, big, big mistake. Don’t ever criticize a team member in public (especially if you are the kind of boss that congratulates in private). If an employee needs to be lectured, use that beautiful ssoundproofoffice you just bought. Don’t try to make examples to the whole team by stating what a specific person did wrong, in front of all the staff. It’s hard to receive criticism and to transform it into fuel for motivation and change, but if you do it properly and in private, you have better chances of achieving that.

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Happy birthday! I have this gift for you: spoiler alert, it’s a report to be on my desk by the end of the day.

Little things can boost employee engagement and motivation. Nowadays, people spend their birthday responding to text messages and replying with “Thank you” to Facebook posts from people they don’t even remember. So, why not give the day off to the birthday boy or girl? What harm can it bring to the company to give a vacation on this special day? Try it. They will come the next they with higher motivation and drive to run the extra mile.

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Surprise m*******cker!!!

Don’t change your mind every two seconds. Don’t assign tasks or projects that will be thrown in the garbage right away. One of the main reasons of lack of motivation at work is to feel that your work is not valuable and you are not being recognized for what you do. What can be worse of seeing that perfect presentation you were working all week to go the garbage bin because your boss changed minds and decided to go on another route instead? Yes, of course ,it can happen and your team must be prepared for it, just try it minimize the damage.

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You want a raise? Better start working late.

If you try to squeeze every drop of juice from an orange, you will eventually get some parts of the skin that don’t taste good. With your team, it’s the same way. If you try to take it all, without giving something, you will end up with a tired and demotivated team. Don’t make assumptions that working late every day is an obligation or an expected objective to be fulfilled in order to get a promotion or a raise. If you want a great team, make them fill that you care about their personal and social life and recognize their efforts during the work hours in their contract.

With TapMyBack you can boost your employee recognition and engagement and build stronger teams. This simple app software boosts your staff motivation through the power of peer-to-peer recognition and continuous feedback.

Try it out, it’s free.

 

Create your team and try Tap My Back