The Importance of the 5 Whys

The Importance of the 5 Whys

If you have ever had something go wrong, then you have to fix it. What happens if something similar goes wrong? This means you never got to the root of your original problem. This can waste time and resources because to make a mistake once is a lesson if you make the same mistake twice that is a choice. Choose to learn your lesson the first time and dig deep to reach the true root of your problem; it is as easy as asking “why?” five times.

The 5 why method is a tried and true way of digging past the obvious answers to see what is actually causing your problem. The reason this method works so well is that it requires some deep thought and advanced problem-solving skills which will test your employees on their ability to think both logically and creatively about an issue. The first why is going to scratch the surface of an issue.

Let’s look at it through a hypothetical situation: a grocery store gets their delivery of produce for the week and the majority of the product is rotten.

  1. Why? Well, the fruit must have rotted in the transport stage.
  2. Why? It was not properly stored or preserved for transportation.
  3. Why? The fruit arrived at the distributor already ripe and they could not prevent it from rotting even with refrigeration.
  4. Why? The growers harvested the fruit late in the season.
  5. Why? The farm or company does not have enough workers to harvest the fruit in a timely manner.

We have taken an issue and boiled it down past the grocery store, past the delivery, past the distributor, to the source of the product which is the farmers that grew the produce. This is just an example, but it demonstrates the importance of asking “why?” enough times to find a real solution for the problem. This will prevent your employees from repeating the same mistake and that will save you time and money. 

Resolving Communication Problems Within The Office

Resolving Communication Problems Within The Office

Communication, or the lack thereof, within a company can lead to many issues. Lack of communication causes frustration with the team and causes the company to be less effective as a whole. Here are a few ways to better manage communication in the workplace:

Have Regular Meetings to Discuss Happenings

Meeting with staff regularly to discuss problems and other happenings in the workplace will help keep everyone involved. Meeting not just one on one, but with everyone at once allows everyone to be involved in the conversation, keeping everyone equally informed. However, not all issues can be solved publicly.

Have An Open Door Policy

It’s one thing to tell employees that your door is always open, but actually following through with an open door policy is crucial in maintaining healthy communication in the workplace. Having an open door policy allows employees to come to you when something is bothering them, without having to air their grievances in front of other coworkers. This will overall make employees feel much more comfortable, making them more likely to communicate openly with you in the future.

Follow Through

When an employee communicates with you to let you know that something is wrong, is important that you take that communication seriously and follow through on coming up with a solution. The quickest way to lose the trust of employees and stifle future communication is by not taking their complaints seriously and putting off handling things that are bothering them in the workplace. Even if you think a complaint may not be valid, you at least owe it to the employee to investigate their claim, so they know that you take what they have to say seriously.

Top Tips for managers to engage employees

Top Tips for managers to engage employees

To keep employees productive and committed to the job, is vital to keep them engaged. Here are some ways to help keep employees more engaged in the workplace:

Support Your Employees

Getting to know your employees lets them know that they are not just another employee, but an actual person that you have taken a personal interest in. This will make them feel more comfortable coming to you when they may be having issues, allowing them to feel overall more comfortable in the workplace. Also, no matter how qualified or experienced the employee, everyone needs a little help sometimes. It is important to let employees know that they will not be punished for asking for help, but instead will be helped to the fullest extent of your abilities. It is also vital that when an employee comes to you with an issue, be it personal or workplace related, you support them and try to resolve any workplace conflicts they may be having.

Leave Room For Them To Grow

Employees will not be dedicated to a job if they know that no matter what they do or how hard they work that they will never be able to grow within the company. Giving employees equal opportunities for promotion and growth will keep them overall more committed to the job and the company. Also, it is important to let all employees lead at some point in their career, even if they may not be the best one for the task. Trusting employees to lead a task will let them know that not only do you trust and support them, but you are also willing to take a chance on them to push them farther in their career.

Reward Hard Work

Recognizing your employees’ hard work helps them feel more like they are a valuable member of the team, making them more committed to the team as a whole. Rewarding employees doesn't even have to be monetarily, a simple thank you can go a long way to make a hard-working employee feel appreciated.

Employee Motivation ideas that won’t break the bank

Employee Motivation ideas that won’t break the bank

Monetary rewards are not as motivational in the long run as letting someone know they're doing a great job. Here are a few simple, free ways to motivate your employees:

Allow Them More Autonomy

Allowing employees to make more decisions on their own motivates them to be more responsible. Also, when employees are working towards a goal they set themselves, they are more motivated because they want to prove that they can do what they set out to accomplish.

Celebrate Their Successes

When you celebrate your employees’ successes, it makes them feel good about the work that they have done and they will be more motivated to continue. Celebrating successes doesn't have to extravagant either, simply calling someone out in a team meeting for doing something well can be more than enough motivation for your employees.

Get to Know Your Employees

You want to keep the workplace professional, however, treating employees like they're simply placeholders in your team won’t encourage them to do more for the team. Getting to know just enough about all of your employees to be able to connect with them on a more personal level will humanize you and allow them to feel more like they belong in the team.

Encourage Friendly Competition

Allowing your employees to have a little friendly competition here and there will motivate them to do better, as they are no longer just competing against themselves, but someone else. However, it is important to not let things get too out of hand, as competition can easily go from friendly to negative very fast. Make sure to always keep competition professional, and it will be a great motivator for employees.

Why happy employees are more engaged and productive

Why happy employees are more engaged and productive

Happiness is essential to workplace productivity. Being happy in your everyday life makes it more easy to engage at work because you do not have other troubling things on your mind. However, being happy at work can make employees more productive overall.

Employees are more engaged when they're happy in their personal life, and while as an employee you can't do anything to determine their personal happiness, you can do things to make employees more engaged while they're at work. Finding ways to make tasks more enjoyable and interesting can help keep employees engaged. Also, allowing employees to take breaks to do something relaxing or fun when tasks get frustrating can help keep employees engaged with their tasks.

Also, if employees actually enjoy what they do then they will be more likely to do it well. Making sure your employees are happy in their job will increase their overall productivity because if they enjoy working for a company they will be more likely to work harder to see that company succeed. However, simply enjoying their job is not always enough; positive reinforcement is necessary to keep employees engaged. When employees continually go above and beyond with no positive reinforcement it can be discouraging, so telling employees when they are doing well and letting them know you appreciate all of the wire they're doing can be incredibly beneficial in keep employees engaged and productive.

Best tips for training new employees

Best tips for training new employees

New employees can be a great asset to any team, their fresh mind can offer the team a new perspective that no one may have considered before. However, new employees are only as great as their training, so below are three of the best tips for training new employees:

Introduce The Team

Introducing new employees into a team can be difficult at first, so it is important to let staff know beforehand when a new employee is expected to start. Once the new employee starts, it is important to introduce them to the team. Formally introducing new employees to the team as a whole helps the new employee fit in faster and it helps them to get to know the team, so if they need help in the future they know that the team is there to help and they know exactly who they need to go to.

Give Constructive Feedback

New employees may not be used to doing things the way that your company does them, so it is important to give new employees a variety of tasks to practice with. However, the whole point of practice is to learn from your mistakes, so it is important to remember to give new employees constructive feedback at the end of each task so that they are able to learn from their mistakes to help them going forward in the new job.

Don’t Stop Training After A Few Days

Training a new employee should not stop after the first couple of days or tasks, it is important to follow through and continue training employees until you know they're ready for more independence. However, even after you give new employees the freedom they earn, it is still good to continue checking in from time to time for a little longer. There may be something you didn't cover in the initial training that they're struggling with months into the job, so it is important to check in to make sure that they have everything handled.


Tips to Become a Better Leader

Tips to Become a Better Leader

Leadership, despite what everyone thinks, is situational. Often people assume that only certain people have the necessary skills to be leaders, but that is a myth. A leader is someone who has a vision of the opportunity or challenge and the courage to take action based on that. Someone who is a leader in one situation may be a follower in another because the most important tip to become a better leader is to recognize your own skills and understand when you should take charge and when you should be a follower. Here are a few tips to help prepare you to be a better leader:

  1. Know your skills- In order to be a good leader, take stock of your strengths and continue to learn everything you can. Know your leadership style, improve on your weaknesses, and periodically update your knowledge to make sure that you are up to date on new technology, processes, etc.
  2. Be willing to let someone else lead- Every person has individual talents and skills that they bring to a team, and the leader should be the best suited for the challenge or task that needs to be completed. The leader should always be changing to the person who can best lead the group during that time.
  3. Pay attention to opportunities to take action- Always be aware of obstacles, tasks, or challenges that may arise during a project and be willing to step up and take charge. A good leader does not wait to be appointed; a good leader finds an opportunity and takes action.
  4. It is not about directing others, but about getting something of value done- A good leader does not order people around for the sake of doing it. The purpose of a leader is that they have skills and a deep understanding of the task that allows them to direct others to accomplish the task. A leader should always be thinking about how can the team move forward and use their skills to successfully complete their work. 

Five Ways to Build Great Work Teams

Five Ways to Build Great Work Teams

Building a great work team can seem daunting. How do you take a diverse group of employees and turn them into an efficient, innovative, and effective team? The ultimate goal is to create a group that follows the agile system development technique, which can be applied to many different industries. The colloquial term for the process is stormin’, formin’, norman’, and performin’. A more technical explanation of the system is that it is created by small group dynamics which allow a self-regulating team to define, motivate, and manage themselves. Here are five steps to help build a team that can achieve that goal:

  1. Mix personalities and skills- Do not assign five identical people to the same team. The more you can mix it up the better. Try to create diversity in age, experience, background, and education to have a well-rounded team. Each worker will be able to provide a new perspective and set of skills that the rest of the team may not possess.
  2. Give them a clear goal- It is a group of people; which means if they do not have a clear goal, they will pontificate ad nauseum. Assign a task, give them some set parameters, and make sure that they have a clear understanding of what the end goal is.
  3. Let them figure out how to get there- This is known as the stormin’ part of the process. There may be some arguments and this step can take longer than some of the others, but the team will come out on the other side of the discussion with a creative way to achieve the goal that utilizes their individual strengths.
  4. Time block their work- Make it a realistic period, but a little challenging. This is another part of the Agile technique: break into short components to allow short bursts of energy that will lead to more progress than one long stretch of time. The idea is to have the team break the work down into sections, so their energy can be focused on one part at a time. This will mean every step of the process is given equal attention and that the team can reevaluate what they need to do each step of the way.
  5. Unless there is a strong personality conflict try to keep the team together through multiple projects- With every project they work on together, they will continue to improve as a team. They will become in tune with how their coworkers go about their task and will set up stronger lines of communication.

With these few steps, a company can take a group of employees and turn them into a strong and united work team that can produce great work. 

How to Engage a Multigenerational Work Force

How to Engage a Multigenerational Work Force

The workforce is one of the first places that different generations interact in a team environment without as much emphasis placed on age. It is important to understand since the workers will come from different backgrounds, education levels, and generations that the manager or employer must know how to engage and interact with every age level. Remember that everyone in every generation wants to feel relevant, needed, and appreciated.           

Motivation for each generation comes from a different place; identify where it comes from and use this to your advantage. The oldest generation of workers, and these are going to be the baby boomers, want to be recognized for their lifetime of experience. Their years need to have value to their employers even if their years in the workforce may be limited. The next generation of workers are your in-betweeners and they have different needs. To engage the in-betweeners, they need to feel like they are rising and in control. They are going to be feeling a loss of power when their skills are replaced by someone in another generation even if they have more knowledge or better ideas. Give this generation of workers power within the project and the ability to prove themselves because these are the employees are the pool to be promoted to high-level management positions. Finally, your young generation, the famed millennials, are going to be excited about introducing new ideas. Show appreciation for their ideas, energy, and enthusiasm because they place value in their fresh perspective.

Now that the values of each generation of worker have been identified it is important to assign them roles based on how they will best be engaged. The older generation should be assigned a task that allows them to be the subject-matter expert and show off their years of experience. The younger generation should be placed in the role of the innovator; let them utilize their spirit and imagination to push the project in new directions. The in-betweener should be the manager or guide for the whole process. Let them demonstrate and test their leadership skills by leading the team to complete the assigned task.

By keeping in mind the needs and values of each generation, you can successfully engage a team that is comprised of workers from different age groups.