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Business Tip #9: Be respectful of everyone’s time

Time is a precious commodity. Especially when you spend most of the day in business meetings, it is hard to find the time to get everything you need done. I go through so many meetings during the day where I really don’t have a free spot to focus. It’s always about picking up the phone and listening to a variety of different topics. I am not discrediting the need for online meetings, but more often than not, these meetings go over the allotted amount of time. Instead of a half hour meeting, it extends into a 45 minute meeting. Instead of an hour meeting, it can turn into an hour and a half. Because of this, other meetings might be moved or maybe because you don’t show up to another important meeting, it gets cancelled.

All of this confusion can easily be avoided if we remember to be respectful of everyone’s time. When a meeting is only scheduled for half an hour, timebox the agenda items and at the half hour mark politely interrupt everyone and ask first if it is ok to extend the call. This simple courtesy goes a long way for all members involved because it gives them the option to choose which meeting is the most important to them instead of just keeping everyone on a call and making it a sort of obligation to stay on. The more we can be respectful of everyone’s time, the more productive everyone can be.

Another helpful tip is to make sure that in meetings that you try to invite only those that are absolutely necessary. There is nothing more counter productive than to be on a meeting with 20+ people only to say the occasional “Yes I agree” in the conversation. Keep the individuals to a minimum but do send out meeting notes to anyone that could find use from them. In this way, you can spend less time in the call too since you will have the most important people there to drive the conversation quickly and you will find less people multitasking on the call.

With these tips, you might be able to make your coworkers a bit happier in the day when they can spend less time in a meeting and more time getting work done 🙂

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Business Tip #8: Don’t let fear of failure hold you back

Failure will happen. It happens to the best people. There is a website that shows many famous celebrities who have dropped out of either high school or college and in conventional terms would be considered failures:

http://collegedropoutshalloffame.com/

Yet all of these individuals did not let that failure get to them. They all had dreams and aspirations and reached for them. You can do the same too if you focus clearly on what you want to do.

In business, what I’ve found is that if you don’t speak up for what you believe in, no one will endorse you or give your thoughts a second opinion. You have to be confident in your ideas. You have to be confident that you have the answer or the spark your team needs. By showing that confidence, you show that you get what the business needs.

With that confidence however comes failure ultimately. There will be a time you make an incorrect decision. You might even get fired. However, you have to take those steps in order to learn from them. Each mistake you make is an opportunity to learn. You can learn what to not do the next time you’re in the same situation. You can learn a better way to approach a problem. You can learn a lot of things from making a mistake.

However, if you don’t even take that step and learn to embrace a potential failure, you will not get those lessons. You won’t get wiser. You won’t have that experience.

I can guarantee you that CEO’s of companies were not perfect in figuring out how to mold their companies. They made mistakes in their team structure. They made mistakes trusting in certain people. They probably made mistakes in what they wanted to accomplish and what the vision of their company initially was. From each mistake they made, they grew more experienced and more ready to take on any challenges that came their way.

Just look at that website I had earlier in this post. They all didn’t let failure hold them back. Look at where they are at now. That can be you if you just make sure to not let fear of failure hold you back.

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Business Tip #7: Don’t Underestimate the Power of Relationships

Working on a team is hard. At some point in your career you will run into team members who just don’t see eye to eye with you. They might try to resist your ideas. They might be stubborn and always pushing just their ideas. They may seem like a pain to work with and it’s not worth the effort to get to know them because they are just such negative people.

I think this is the wrong way to approach things. Getting to know people, even the ones that are not cooperative at first is the best way to understand how to frame things in their minds in order for them to understand. Many times in my experiences the right message is not given when writing emails or on phone calls. Unless you have a relationship with the person you are talking to, they are more than likely going to write you off if they don’t understand what you are saying.

To prevent this, everyone should strive to get to know the people around you better. It can be as easy as asking about someone’s day. Maybe you can find common interests. Maybe you can start to go to lunch with the person or grab a coffee at the morning. It doesn’t take much to show people you care. Be genuine about it and really listen to others. You will find that they will return the favor and will be more understanding!

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Business Tip #6: Be comfortable having no direction

One thing I’ve learned in my role as a project manager is that sometimes things just don’t go the way you plan it out. Yes it is very good and recommended to plan as carefully as possible. However, there are just so many different variables that can happen in a project that can derail the team. Whether there are resource problems, motivation problems, scope creep, they’re all there and waiting to doom a potential team. Being a leader of a team means being able to feel comfortable when things get out of control. When there doesn’t seem to be a way to do something or a timeline seems impossible, you have to be able to deal with adversity.

The important thing to do in these situations is to always assess where you are and what you still need to do to get across the finish line. Control what you can and do your best to help the team mitigate risks. Always keep your calm and keep a positive attitude in order to project that across to the team. If you do this, anyone can be more comfortable at having little attention and thus help the team succeed in the face of any adversity.

Business Tip #5: Know at the end of the day, you did your best

I don’t know how many times in my short career I’ve asked myself if I really did the best that I could during the day. However, you should always remind yourself that you have made your best effort each and everyday. I don’t believe that people each day think to themselves I’m going to have a bad day and purposely mess up. Each and everyday is full of challenges and it’s up to us to react to them.

Sometimes it’s hard because you just have a bad day. Things go wrong. You may get yelled at or criticized by coworkers. You might even be questioned in your abilities. However, my advice and tip to everyone that goes through this is to keep working hard. Keep pushing through and keep a positive attitude in saying that you did your best. Even on the worst days if you can manage to complete one or two tasks or help a few others along the way it’s not all bad. You did your best to react and you will learn a lesson from the experience.

That’s my approach to day to day life and it has helped tremendously change my attitude at work and keep me going through some of the toughest days!

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Business Tip #4: Remember to Reward Your Employees

In my limited experience working, I’ve talked with a lot of people and gotten their opinions about rewarding employees. The tip I have today is to always remember to reward your employees. There are a variety of ways to do it but it helps a lot for morale.

I’ve developed into the type of leader that is results driven but caring. Of course you need to make sure you are strict and get to the timelines that you need but once your team gets there, you need to be sure that you reward them appropriately.

There are a few ways you can reward your employees:

  • Send an email communication from one of the top managers on the project. This acknowledges the team from top management and signals that the work is really appreciated and is being tracked.
  • Have a personal conversation with them and congratulate them in person. It’s always good to have acknowledgment of good work and doing it in person gives an even better sense of accomplishment.
  • Take your team out to dinner. This gives you the opportunity to reward the whole team and use it as a socializing opportunity and morale booster for the team
  • Give your team a day off. Your team needs to recharge and what better way than to have the day off. They can spend it with family or just sleeping.
  • Negotiate a bonus for the team. Money isn’t always the best motivator but it is a classic one and does help out.
  • Ask your employees what you can do. This is the best way because everyone has different needs. Whether it’s vacation or money or anything else. Let your employees decide what they need.

With these tips, you can ensure that you keep a happy team. If it’s not in your power, you should try your best to convince your managers to do this for the team. Remember, completing milestones and jobs are things to be rewarded for a job well done!

Business Tips #3: When Someone Makes a Mistake, Don’t Just Ask Why… Help

In the business world, there are a lot of deadlines to hit and many times there just is not enough people to go around to finish things. Sometimes mistakes get made and sometimes team members are reluctant to share that something is going wrong in fear of getting yelled at or feeling singled out. There are some simple ways that you can help out when there’s a mistake to grow from the experience.

Don’t point somebody out. When there’s a mistake made on your team and you’re the manager or the project manager, the responsibility really falls to you to bear the burden. You should not point out that so and so made a mistake and put all the blame on that person. Do your best to explain the situation and instead move to say, we’ll get it fixed by so and so date
Ask why. In mistakes it’s important to figure out the whole situation and why exactly it happened. Ask the person what happened and what can be done in the future to improve the situation. You definitely don’t want to dwell on bad situations but you want to improve and make sure it doesn’t happen in the future.
Simply help out. The best thing to do when someone makes a mistake is help fix it. If you share the burden it shows your willingness to back the team. This will help lessen the blow.

~The Lermz

Business Tips #2: It’s Better to Overestimate Than to Not Deliver On-Time

Among a lot of the things I have learned in my short business career is the importance of deadlines and making sure you hit them. In a world that revolves around dates to hit and multiple work-streams and a lack of resources, it seems daunting to actually be able to estimate when you can get something done. It’s been my experience that you need to give yourself as much buffer time as possible. Here are some thoughts to consider in trying to get a good estimate on your work:

– Talk to someone that has done what you are trying to accomplish. Ask how long it took them, what the risks are and how they would estimate what you need to do. Add a few days or a week to that time.
– Throw some dates out to your team and see if they think they can hit them. Pick dates that you know would be stretching them and get to the root cause of why they can’t hit those deadlines. This can help you identify roadblocks to remove for the team
– Keep your manager informed of all your actions. Don’t CC him/her on every email per se but be sure that he/she knows what you’re doing and is aware of the situation. The worst thing that can happen is surprising your boss
– Be persistent but not overbearing. Once you have the timelines down, be sure to keep track of what’s going on. Even if you have a buffer, you need to keep pushing and figuring out what roadblocks to clear and what to escalate. However, don’t push too hard, you might not get responses after awhile if you continually distract the person.

Hopefully these tips help you out in figuring out how to overestimate and try to work with the buffer you create.

~The Lermz

Business Tip #1: Avoid Miscommunication: Set the Expectations

Almost every failure in a project comes from miscommunication. Sometimes a change isn’t communicated right away and we deliver to a client incorrectly. Sometimes we don’t communicate what we’re working on and it turns out that multiple people are working on the same thing. Sometimes we don’t know what the other teammembers are expecting and it causes conflict. It really all leads down to one thing.. miscommunication leads to failure.

How can we combat this?
So given that everyone has different personalities and different ways of working.. how can we combat miscommunication? It really comes down to setting the expectations within a team. This can be applied to a work team or perhaps a project from school.

Setting expectations can be as simple as going member to member and seeing what they want out of the project and how they think we should get to the path. In this way, you can see what each member of the team is really going for and what the strengths and opportunities are within the team. With each thing that is shared, a potential risk can be uncovered and better planning can take place. This is why setting the expectations is so important, it allows teammembers to work better together and it also aligns every party that is involved on the same page so that there are no surprises.

Great, we set our expectations. Everything should be good to go till the end of the project right?
Don’t you wish things were like that? It’s great that you took the first step and you set the expectations with everyone. However, throughout the process, it’s necessary to revisit those expectations from time to time to make sure external factors haven’t influenced anything. Sometimes as a project goes on, people have a shift on what should be done and what needs to be covered. Having regular cadences and expectation conversations allow the team to course correct and not get caught in the dark when the dynamic changes. This is probably the best thing a team can do to make sure it keeps going at the same pace.

So how often should we set these expectations? Daily? Weekly? Monthly?
This is really up to your team. Every project is going to be different and will require a different cadence schedule. The important thing is that your team develops the foundation and the framework so that you can continue moving forward. Always set the expectations on your team and you won’t ever get lost on a project.

I hope that this can be applied to many different situations. I’ve been exposed to different teams and have seen many projects breakdown because processes are not discussed, plans have not been implemented correctly and people change their minds way too much and don’t inform everyone. As long as the whole team knows what to do and what to expect, they can move together to the same vision and the same set of milestones.

~The Lermz