A PM’s Guide to Managing Your Team’s Project Roles with I Done This

Over half of all managers in the US are concerned about their team’s time management skills, according to an Institute for Corporate Productivity study.

As your employees’ heads are tucked behind computer screens and they’re clacking away on the keyboard, it seems near impossible to know how they’re spending their time. Are they in a private Slack channel chatting away about the new hire, or are they working? Should the project you assigned Linda take as long as it has? And if you don’t know what your local employees are up to, you can forget about getting insight into your remote employees time management habits.

In the internet-driven workplace, transparency feels like a pipe-dream. Not only do you have no way of telling whether your employees are slacking off, but you can’t even tell if hard-working employees are being tripped up by obstacles outside their control. The natural response to this issue is to micromanage and hover over their shoulder, but you want to empower your employees in their project team roles, not control them.

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I Done This gives your whole team transparency without any of the negative side-effects. Here’s how.

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Trust, But Verify: The Key Management Tool To Build Team Satisfaction

Delegation is one of the hardest management tools for leaders to learn.

We all understand that micromanaging your employees isn’t good for anyone, but when you’re used to being involved in everything, it can be hard to let go. It gets easier as you hire great people and implement sound processes—watching your company grow without your fingerprint on everything is a beautiful thing.

Perspective helps too.

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People Management for Rookies

Most people who start their own business do it because they have a great idea. Whether they’re setting out to start a new social media site or an environmentally-friendly sock distribution company, they do it because they’re excited about the business concept. People management is usually far from their minds.

It’s one of the least sexy parts of starting your own business. And it’s also the most important one to master.

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In fact, people management is one of the things entrepreneurs struggle with the most, in part because it requires such a different skill set than other entrepreneurial qualities. But new entrepreneurs often make the mistake of dismissing it as a secondary task, instead focusing their efforts on what they think are more important duties.

Managing teams—especially remote teams—is hard, but really important. Poor prioritization leads to breakdowns in communication, which lead to mistakes in your team’s work, which spell out failure for your company.

The good news is, managing teams is a learnable skill. It boils down to a handful of daily processes that you can accomplish to be a competent and successful manager.

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Progress, Plans, Problems: Sync Your Team with Updates

If the daily challenge of communicating with your co-workers is driving your crazy, you are not alone. Between all of the different tasks and moving pieces on your schedule, keeping your team members informed about your progress can be a frustrating challenge. It’s equally overwhelming trying to stay up-to-date on what your co-workers are doing. There is a huge amount of information to sift through.

Some companies implement strategies like progress reports and extra meetings to facilitate communication. But these are often time-consuming and they only add to the white noise. It’s time to clear your head. The key to successful communication is clarity, not buzz.

If you want to maximize the efficiency of your team’s status reports, think about using PPP.

PPP Streamlines Communication

Progress, plans, problems is an approach to communication that enables you and your team members to share what you are working on in a friendly and efficient way. The three P’s stand for “progress, plans and problems.” This technique is used by companies like Skype, Ebay, Facebook, and Seedcamp to streamline communication channels between managers and co-workers.

Every week, people report their top 3-5 achievements, goals and challenges in an email memo that is easy to read. It saves time and it helps keep everyone on the same page. The template looks like this:

  • Progress: What were your three biggest accomplishments this week?
  • Plans: What are your top three priorities for next week?
  • Problems: What are three problems you are facing? Problems usually require the help of other people to solve.

Rachel Veroff

It’s important to encourage your team members to give each other updates about their progress on assignments because it allows everyone to see the larger picture. These updates can happen daily, weekly or monthly, depending on your company’s needs.

The three P’s outlined above provide a de facto template to start from. Depending on what your company does, you might decide to add extra categories as you go along. The point is to keep everyone on the team informed and in sync, without wasting a lot of time with lengthy progress reports or meetings.

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Anatomy Of A Great Mission Statement

Richard Branson has a thing for mission statements.

He likes them. He just thinks most of them suck.

Most mission statements are full of blah truisms and are anything but inspirational. A company’s employees don’t really need to be told that “The mission of XYZ Widgets is to make the best widgets in the world while providing excellent service.” They must think, “As opposed to what? Making the worst widgets and offering the lousiest service?” Such statements show that management lacks imagination, and perhaps in some cases, direction.

Mission statements — the good and the bad — have a way of bringing out the true core of your company. If that core is boring and jargon-filled, so will be the mission statement. If it’s fun, inspired, unique, caring … you can see where this is going.

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The 5 Daily Habits of a Terrible Boss

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About half of workers at some point have left a job to get away from their manager.

Not the work, not the clients or coworkers. The manager.

We’ve written before about how 95 percent of managers are wrong about what best motivates employees at work. Now we know that many managers are so bad they’re making half their employees leave the job. According to another survey, 19.2 hours are wasted every week — 13 during the workweek and 6.2 over the weekend — worrying about what a boss says or does.

It’s not easy being the boss. But terrible habits make it hard to be a good boss. Don’t be a terrible boss. Avoid these common habits of bad managers and maybe your employees will stick around a while.

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How Travis CI Is Fixing Company Culture By Taking On ‘Culture’

Travis CI

Travis CI

Here’s a loaded phrase in the startup world: culture fit.

It’s a term with humble early intentions that has grown weeds and sprouted out of its container. It started as a simple way of talking about whether a new hire and current team would work well together. It’s grown into a loaded gun of baggage and misappropriation. It’s used to hire unqualified people and fire great ones.

Mathias Meyer, CEO at Travis CI, started to notice a problem with “culture fit” and the way it was implemented at many companies. It seemed to him like “culture fit” was doing the opposite, and holding company cultures back. Companies, if not careful, would create a monoculture, with everyone acting and thinking the same way. This is terrible for creativity and growth.

Or as Meyer put it in an excellent blog post:

“There’s one fundamental mistake in both using and looking for culture fit as a means for hiring: You’re assuming that your current culture is healthy and doesn’t need to be changed.”

I chatted with Meyer about his thoughts on culture fit, growing Travis CI and what they’re doing to create an authentic company culture.

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How Noah Kagan Taught Me The Two Simplest Things About Planning Growth

Every field has “that guy.” Everyone in the industry knows of them and their work. Many secretly try to emulate them — or flat out copy them. They are the person crushing it. They are the person your boss wishes they could have hired instead of you.

If you’re doing marketing for a startup company, that guy is Noah Kagan. Noah was employee #30 at Facebook and helped grow Mint.com into the personal finance juggernaut it is today. He is founder at AppSumo, which offers discounts on tools to grow businesses and websites. He’s built things you use every day.

And he probably has your email address.

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How To Solve The 8 Causes Of Workplace Conflict

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The workplace is for work. You’re are here to get things done, grow the business, improve the world and get better at whatever it is that you do.

It’s not a place for squabbling with coworkers, managers and subordinates. But that’s what seems to happen. Workplace conflict is everywhere, eating up productivity and taking precious time away from the things that really matter.

It doesn’t have to be this way. The causes of workplace conflict are recognizable. In separate articles on workplace conflict, psychologists Art Bell and Brett Hart identified eight common causes of conflict in the workplace. Think about the conflicts you’ve had in the workplace. You’d be hard-pressed to find on you can’t trace back to one of these root causes.

It’s important to see workplace conflict this way, as a symptom of a great structural problem. That argument with the boss over coming in on Saturday isn’t really about coming in on Saturday. It’s about the misaligned expectations and poor communication that led you to have to come in on Saturday. In other words, the problem is bigger than the problem.

Thankfully, smart and innovative companies are changing the way we work — and eradicating the causes of workplace conflict at the source. Here’s a look at the eight causes and what great companies are doing about them.

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How SimpleReach Learned Sales The Hard Way

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The founders at SimpleReach knew they were on to something. Everything seemed to be in place.

Great product, great team, great market.

There was just one problem.

“Like most B2B companies we just took the approach of ‘build it and they will come’. But that’s just not the case,” said Eric Lubow, CTO and Co-Founder at SimpleReach.

Or as their CEO Edward Kim put it on Twitter: “One of the biggest lessons I learned the hard way – great product is cost of entry, but sales determines whether you win or lose.”

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