Sunday, March 15, 2015

How to Run Business From Home Without Losing Your Sanity

The main problem of conducting business from home is isolation, broken daily routine and lack of motivation. Here are some tips you can use to conduct your business efficiently.

1. Choose tools for work. It’s the first and foremost thing you have to do. Everything will do – from Excel sheets to complex CRM systems – just make sure you have all the information at hand and don’t forget to update it.

The latest trend is all-in-one collaboration workspaces - Bitrix24 is free and particular popular. Besides Bitrix24, there are, for example, MangoApps, Freedcamp and some other. They substitute multiple tools like Trello or Asana for project management, Slack or Yammer for inner social communication, Dropbox for sharing files, Skype for making calls and provide CRM for maintaining client database.

2. Choose a special workplace at home. You should draw clear line between work and home so that to be able to focus on business. It’ll be good also to change into work clothes.

3. Make more calls. Seriously, you won’t even notice how you become less and less social, especially if you live alone. If you have an alternative: to call or to write a letter, it’s better to make a call (with a written follow-up, of course).

4. Write a plan and always stick to it. Better print it out and have before your eyes. You can use the method of Mark Foster from his book “Do It Tomorrow”: plan all your doings and the approximate required time for them the previous day. If something unplanned turns up, put it off till the next day. Thus, by the end of the day you’ll already have a plan for tomorrow. This will help you to keep yourself together.

5. Track the time you devote to work. You can use Pomodoro timer technique (there are plenty of apps for each smartphone platform) when work process is split into short 25-minute pieces. Or just use your kitchen timer. Always start working the same time and stop working by the end of the day.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

How to Pull Your Team Together After a Crisis

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It might be a merger, a buy-out, company-wide restructuring, a round of layoffs, or an industry-wide economic plummet that’s left your team reeling. Or perhaps it’s something on a smaller scale: an unexpected firing or resignation, the loss of a key client, or a project that exploded in everyone’s faces.

Whatever the crisis, you’ve survived it, but now you’ve got a team of war-weary, discouraged team members looking to you.

Here’s how you can help your team pull together again.

Don’t Ignore the Crisis

One of the worst things you could do as team leader is simply act as if nothing has happened.

Unfortunately, team leaders who are uncomfortable with conflict or unsure of how to talk about a crisis may take this route. What happens, however, is that your team members feel betrayed and abandoned. By ignoring the effects of the crisis or acting as if nothing has happened, you’re sending a clear message: Deal with this yourself. You’re on your own.

That’s not the message you want to send, of course.

Instead, talk through what happened. You do need to exercise leadership: don’t allow a negativity fest, a big round of poor-me stories, a finger-pointing session, or any sort of personal attack.

Honestly recap what happened. Acknowledge the crisis and how it has affected the team: “We’ve just endured a round of layoffs that were extremely stressful for everyone, and we’ve lost three team members. We’re feeling skittish and sad, we miss our team members, we don’t know how we’re going to do our job without them, and we’re wary of how things will work going forward.”

Get Input from Your Team

Give your team time to offer their own insights and opinions.

Perhaps you’re most worried about how your smaller team will handle a workload, while your team members are paralyzed with fear over losing their own positions. Talking about the crisis will help you to deal with unnecessary fears or anxieties and note which major issues need fresh solutions.

Ask for insight, if appropriate, into why the crisis occurred in the first place. If your team missed an important deadline that jeopardized the entire company’s operations, now is the time to talk about why it happened and how you, as a team, can prevent it from happening in the future.

As the team leader, don’t shy away from responsibility, even if much of the situation was out of your control. Own the responsibility, and don’t tolerate blaming and attacking from team members.

Develop a Plan of Action

Move your team’s attention to how you will move forward from this point.

Start with encouragement. You don’t have to have the answers, but you can assure your team that you’ll work together to figure things out.

Avoid the temptation to hand the responsibility off to the team and expect them to come up with all the ideas. Have some practical ideas of your own to offer. Share a few legitimate steps forward.

Let them give input as well. From the combined ideas, work with your team to form a plan of action that make the most sense for everyone involved.

Keep Your Team Informed

People feel insecure after a crisis, so keep communication flowing even more than usual. Knowledge will help your team members to feel informed and aware, which contributes to feeling secure.

Send regular team emails apprising team members of changes, updates, and new information. Be available for phone conversations and casual chats in the hallway or on social media. Be present, visible, and available. Offer open times for one-on-one meetings to help individuals tackle new roles and responsibilities.

Revisit the Core of the Team

To reestablish unity and team identity, revisit the heart of your team. What is the team vision? What is the purpose of the team? What are the values that the team shares and uses to help guide decisions and projects?

A crisis, no matter how small, shakes everyone up; your job is to help them find their foundation again. Remind your team of their purpose, their ideals, and the core methodology will help your team to function together even in new or changed situations.

Bitrix24 is a free sales automation and sales team management software. Use promocode TIP10 when registering your free Bitrix24 account to get extra 10GB. 

Source - How to Pull Your Team Together After a Crisis

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