In the previous post, I touched upon useful skills a CEO may want to adopt from a project manager. So here are 3 more to bring you a fresh look at the CEO’s routine: Quite often, there’s a need for the CEO to quickly adjust strategic priorities, reacting to competitors moves or changing market conditions, not to mention the daily adjustments of the personal meeting schedule. So here’s another opportunity to turn to the project manager who has perfected flexibility at the daily and hourly scales. The ability to quickly re-prioritize things and revise the decisions made not only within separate projects, but also at the strategic level, is challenging enough, but it will make your company more agile and thus more successful. #6 - Accountability up and down As a CEO, you are accountable only to your company board that is mainly interested in the share price, not in your daily behavior. On one hand, no accountability in your business routine gives you more freedom; on the other hand, quite often you may lack feedback on your actions. And without honest feedback, it’s hard to evaluate your performance and prevent mistakes. By contrast, the project manager is normally accountable to the CEO and other senior managers, the customer, his own project team, and perhaps the end users of the solution to be implemented. Accountability makes jobs hard, but it makes projects, decisions and actions better. The best way to measure your efficiency as a CEO is to ask your employees how they see their work in the organization. Simple questionnaires will help you see if your team shares the company vision and if they try their best to fulfill it. #7 – Develop team member relationships Your team’s results depend deeply on the relationships between its members. A good working environment makes people eager to work and unwilling to leave the company. It’s definitely one of the CEO’s major roles to establish the right relationships. And yet, it’s not an easy thing to do, due to your position of authority in the company. A good project manager is an expert at developing relationships. She or he does it on a regular basis with each of his or her project team members in order to get the most out of collaboration and gain their following and trust. A good project manager also will tell you that when it comes to relationships, every single detail matters. How often you talk to your employees and the way you do it, your reaction to their mistakes and rewards for the extra time spent in the office – all these are the bricks in your corporate culture. Putting more regular efforts into building good and sincere relationships in your team will be rewarded greatly with your people’s enthusiasm. What are your thoughts here? What areas do you think CEOs need additional skills in – where could they learn more from skilled project managers who survive in the trenches every day? Please feel free to join the discussion.
and important problems your team is facing. Of course, no CEO can possibly be aware of all the operational details at the same level as her employees. Nevertheless, it is important to stay connected with the workers and to stay up-to-date on the real state of things. I’d take a liberty and outline that here a CEO may turn to the experience of a project manager who is always right in the middle of the project whirl. If you are one of those successful CEOs for whom it’s 101, I honestly applaud you and hope you don’t mind if I share this advice with the rest. Hopefully, it will make some companies become more efficient for the greater good of CEO, employees, customers and shareholders. In my opinion, seven key things that CEOs can learn from project managers - in no particular order - are: #1 – Strong Customer focus CEOs’ schedule is normally overfilled with meetings. But most likely, you aren’t usually in a position to deal with the day-to-day customer – the end user in the trenches. You may think that’s the project manager’s role, but that’s also where the real customer satisfaction is developed. If you were able to take the time and interact with your daily customers, you would be surprised at the number of useful insights they can provide you about your service (especially if they are angry or upset with it!). The practice of CEO regularly talking to customers provides you with versatile and objective picture of their needs and also helps establish a very positive image of the company. The customers’ confidence and satisfaction won’t take long to appear. #2 – Delegate to survive Generally, CEO is responsible for everything. In other words, for company’s success or failure. No wonder that it is vital to pick up the high-priority goals and handle them by yourself. However, learn to delegate the rest to other chief officers (be it CIOs, CTOs, CMOs or COOs) and your administrative assistants. That’s exactly the killer skill of any project manager who delegates to survive. She must know the skills of their project staff (which differs from project to project) and must know what to pass of to whom and when to do it. So does an efficient CEO at the senior team members’ level. #3 2-way Communication as a tool The ability to communicate your vision to the employees in a clear and persuasive way is critical for any CEO. At the same time listening to your team’s feedback is no less important, as it can be a source of useful insights based on their day-to-day problems that you are not always aware of. Here, once again, you may take a look at project managers who find themselves between their team and the top management and develop both skills perfectly. They ceaselessly communicate important management’s decision to the team and at the same time pay great attention to team’s feedback to change their roadmap accordingly. Adopting the same efficient two-way communication, you will be impressed to see how eager your team members are to make your vision come true. #4 - Digging to understanding the real need As a CEO, you are guided by the vision that makes the product unique. But probably you’ll agree that amending this vision according to customers’ needs, will bring the success much closer. What is more, this should be real customers’ needs. The good project manager knows best that it’s highly likely that what customer considers being his own need is only a symptom of it. CEOs can learn lessons here from project managers to ask questions and dig deeper into the real needs of their own organization rather than take information at face value. This will help avoid piles of corporate money spent on the wrong projects and processes due to lack of detailed evaluation of the real issues. Don’t miss three more must-have skills for CEOs in our next post! Brad Egeland has 25 years of high-level, professional IT and Business Management experience, including 19+ years of enterprise Project Management experience. He has developed and implemented systems for start-ups and their customers as well as $100 million long-term contracts. His experience is in the industries of Manufacturing, Aviation/Airlines, Gaming, Government Contracting, Retail Operations, Pharmaceutical, Start-ups, Healthcare, Higher Education, Non-profit, High-Tech, Engineering and general IT. Brad is a father of nine and lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. You can visit Brad's professional website at www.bradegeland.com.
Want to build a great place to work? Instill autonomy, mastery, & purpose in your team. A lengthy, science-backed discussion on why these 3 factors increase job satisfaction for your workers, making your firm a magnet for top talent, and ultimately boosting your bottom line.
You hear it from every startup founder: the secret to success is in hiring the right people. People who can be creative with day-to-day challenges. People who work well with others. People who aren’t afraid to roll their sleeves up and get things done, no matter what that may entail. Just this Saturday, The New York Times' Adam Bryant ran an in-depth interview with our CEO, Andrew Filev regarding his background, his motivations, how he manages his teams, and especially how he hires. A few notable excerpts: On hiring and recruiters: "Hiring is one of the biggest parts of a CEO’s job — and it’s true for every executive. I tell my team: 'Your job is to build the best team. The recruiter is there to help and support you, but it’s your responsibility, and you own it.’" On how he evaluates job candidates: "I’ve learned to test people in action. So you give them some sort of task to see how they think about things." On his management style: “We check our egos at the door. It’s about, 'This is the best decision for the company, and here’s why.' I need to always have that explanation in my head, and I require that from everybody in the company, no matter how young or experienced they are." Read the complete interview over at The New York Times.
Your organization does good work. But, as a leader or a project manager, you feel like a lot of it rests on your shoulders. Up to this point, it’s been your responsibility to review everything carefully and make sure your company’s outputs meet your quality standards. It’s working, but you know there has to be a better way. What if you could set up a system and a culture where everybody is invested in quality? What if you could refine processes that lead your team to consistently and reliably deliver top-notch work? It’s possible, and it’s a concept called total quality management. What is total quality management (TQM)? To put it simply, total quality management (TQM) is a set of principles that helps organizations do their best work. It focuses on helping companies evaluate and refine their processes, with the ultimate goal of improving their outputs and delivering a high-quality customer experience. In many companies, managers and leaders accountable for the quality of work and the success of the organization. However, total quality management spreads the load more evenly. Since every employee is involved in delivering the work, they are also held accountable for its quality. What is the history of total quality management? Think total quality management is something new? Think again. This concept has some pretty strong historical roots. Quality control has been around for ages. However, a mathematician and statistician named W. Edwards Deming is seen as the pioneer of the concept of total quality management. He saw flaws in U.S. production, especially when it came to quality control. Deming thought it was odd that management controlled the production process, despite the fact the line workers were the ones who had boots on the ground — and, as a result, had far more insight into how an effective process should run. He lectured on this topic in Japan in the 1950s. Japan was receptive to the concept of total quality management and quickly began implementing it. Upon seeing the success of those efforts in Japan, total quality management spread across the rest of the world — eventually becoming commonplace in the U.S. in the 1970s and 1980s. Why is total quality management important? Total quality management can feel like a difficult concept to wrap your arms around, and it’s tempting to write it off as another complex, academic subject that doesn’t have applications in the real world. But that’s not the case. Many successful companies — like Toyota, Xerox, and Motorola — implement total quality management. Why? Well, because it can lead to a number of undeniable benefits, including: Higher-quality products and services: This is the obvious one. When you intentionally and mindfully manage a process with quality in mind, you improve your outputs. That’s the biggest benefit of total quality management — your team delivers top-notch work. Improved customer experience: A focus on the customer is a core principle of total quality management (which we’ll dig into in detail later). Keeping an eye on the needs of the end customer means you offer a better experience, leading to more loyalty, a better reputation, and even increased sales. Greater efficiency: Total quality management also hinges on processes, and even more specifically, continuous process improvement. Regularly evaluating your organization’s workflows and identifying ways to refine and streamline them leads to greater efficiency and productivity. Boosted team morale: Employee involvement is another core piece of total quality management. Every single team member rallies around a shared goal and commits to achieving it. That level of togetherness can lead to positive team culture and better morale. See? Total quality management isn’t just a stuffy theory or a buzzword — it can have real, measurable, and important effects within your team and organization. Using collaborative work management software (like Wrike) can make the process easier and enable even greater productivity. More on that a little later! What are the total quality management principles? Total quality management is about improving quality across the organization. But, it’s not quite as simple as saying, “Alright, we’re going to do a better job.” Total quality management has a formal set of eight different principles it’s based on. Here’s a straightforward explanation of each of those concepts: 1. Customer-centered You can think your processes, products, and services are top-notch. But, your opinion means nothing if your customers aren’t satisfied and impressed with your offerings. Organizations that implement total quality management always have the end customer in mind. They know their customers are the ultimate judges of whether or not their organization is of superior quality, and they refine their processes and offerings in the interest of the customer. 2. Total employee involvement Remember when we mentioned that total quality management isn’t something handed down from on high? Rather, it involves every single member of the organization in achieving a goal and improving quality. This can mean several different things. First and foremost, companies need to provide clarity around their objectives. Secondly, they need to provide the training and resources employees need to do their work efficiently and effectively. Finally, a high degree of psychological safety means employees have the freedom to push themselves — without the fear of repercussions for failure. 3. Process-centered Companies that implement total quality management don’t take a willy nilly approach to their work. Instead, there are prescriptive sets of steps and workflows for getting work across the finish line. These processes not only help them deliver more consistent work, but they also make production far easier to plan and monitor. That’s not to say these processes are set in stone. They’re constantly evaluated and improved upon. 4. Integrated system Every company has various teams and departments responsible for different tasks. However, with a total quality management approach, these different groups can’t operate in their own universes. Total quality management emphasizes the importance of the links that connect these different departments and functions. To preserve and improve quality, an organization needs to work as a cohesive, integrated system — rather than a collection of various teams. This requires a high degree of transparency and an understanding of the processes and work of other departments. 5. Strategic and systematic approach Imagine that you wanted to drive to Niagara Falls. Would you set out without any directions? Probably not, because you have no idea how to get where you want to go. The same is true for an organization. Total quality management requires that a company creates a strategic plan. Even more than that, the strategic plan needs to emphasize the importance of quality and quality management. 6. Continual improvement Companies that are invested in total quality management aren’t content to stick with the status quo. They’re constantly looking at ways to be better. This means evaluating processes, products, services, customer experience, employee feedback, and more to identify areas where you could improve. When you spot them, you need to address them and monitor them to ensure those changes actually benefited your work. 7. Fact-based decision making There aren’t many gut decisions made by organizations that implement total quality management. That’s because this approach prioritizes making decisions based on facts and data. Companies need to gather, organize, and analyze data about their performance measurements and use that to make their decisions. Total quality management doesn’t rely on intuition or best guesses. 8. Communications It’s hard to overstate the importance of effective communication on a high-performing team — and that’s why it’s a core principle of total quality management too. There needs to be clear and frequent communication across the entire organization to keep every employee in the loop on changes, operations, strategies, processes, and more. There’s no such thing as over-communicating. How does Wrike help with total quality management? Think total quality management sounds like a lot? It can be. But, rest assured, it’s not something that will be implemented overnight. Even taking small steps in the right direction can help you and your team improve your processes and work quality. Need some help? Wrike can help you satisfy many of the core principles of total quality management for project management, including: Total employee involvement: With clear and automated task assignments, every employee knows what they’re responsible for. Process-centered: Templated workflows allow you to create a process and easily repeat it for similar projects. Integrated system: Wrike provides visibility into what every team is working on (and working toward). Continual improvement: Wrike’s project status report will show you how projects are progressing and make it easy to spot sticking points in your processes. Fact-based decision making: Wrike offers a number of other reports to give you data about how your team is performing so you can make strategic decisions. Communications: With the ability to leave comments, tag team members, attach files, and more, Wrike keeps all of your communication centralized in one place. With a total quality management system like Wrike in your corner, you can help your team deliver top-notch work — without any added stress or hassles. Ready to jump in? Start your free trial of Wrike now.
Threats to your business don't just come from external factors like competitors or changing markets; internal problems like flawed leadership can be just as fatal. Stay away from these 7 deadly traits that keep struggling startup leaders from succeeding. 1. Arrogance Great leaders are humble. It’s easy to hand off less desirable tasks to employees that are “in the trenches," and focus on high-level strategy instead. But by staying humble, rolling up your sleeves, and working alongside your team, you'll stay connected to both your colleagues and your customers. Making genuine relationships with your team makes them more likely to stick with you, something you’ll be especially grateful for when you hit rough patches (and you will). Staying humble means you’ll have help through the down times, and it also means you won't get so cocky during the good times, leaving room for an underdog competitor to surprise you. 2. Stubbornness Don't refuse to pivot in the name of perseverance. If you're captaining a sinking ship, it won't do any good to insist your team keep rowing instead of scanning the horizon for a new port. Keep an open mind, and a strategic move could turn a bleak prognosis into a million-dollar opportunity. After all, YouTube was originally a floundering dating site. 3. Vanity It’s easy to start measuring your success by the wrong metrics: the number of press mentions and interview requests, the size of your new office, or the number of products your logo is printed on. But don't let surface-level shine distract you from digging deeper to focus on what matters, and insist on the same from your team. Lead by example by prioritizing foundational targets like the number of active users, churn rates, revenue growth, etc. 4. Wrath It’s not that great leaders don’t have high expectations or demand a lot from their employees. But you can’t expect your team to do every task exactly as you want it, every single time. Even if they did, mistakes and miscalculations are an inevitable part of human nature. And when those situations pop up, you can’t fly off the handle. So keep your team happy. Yes, your office should be professional, and so should your relationship with your team. But that doesn't mean your workplace should be cold, or that you should act like a drill sergeant. People are more productive when they're in a good mood. Happy people have more energy, creativity and motivation, make fewer mistakes, and work better with others. They fix problems instead of whining about them. A positive work culture built around your team’s happiness is just as essential to profitability as your product. 5. Selfishness Good leaders need a confident sense of self. Independence and self-reliance are admirable traits, so be driven. Pursue your goals without distraction. But listen as often as you speak. Build relationships that will last — with your team, with investors, with customers. Selfish leaders ignore customer needs in pursuit of their own vision and run with their favorite idea without evaluating or asking for feedback. They refuse to accept ideas that aren't their own, reject constructive criticism, and see themselves as lone geniuses. Just remember: you can't do it all by yourself. Even Tony Stark had Pepper Potts and The Avengers. 6. Laziness Planning, launching, and running your own business takes a lot of hard work, and few people would accuse any entrepreneur of being lazy in the traditional sense. Pushing yourself and your team and taking calculated risks is at the heart of the entrepreneurial spirit. But once you've found success, don't get complacent. Even if your product has millions of happy, devoted users and your brand is a household name, you need to keep moving forward or you'll fade into obscurity. (Just ask Blockbuster, Pan Am, or Tower Records.) Always ask yourself, your team, and your customers: "What's next? What can we do better?" 7. Greed Your vision should go beyond making piles of money so big you can swim around in them like Scrooge McDuck. People want their work to mean something. In a study by The Intelligence Group, 64% of respondents said they would rather get paid $40,000 for a job they found meaningful than $100,000 for a job they didn't. So create a tangible vision for the kind of impact you want your company to have, rooted in something meaningful, and keep it at the forefront of everything you do. You'll not only attract top talent that's dedicated to their work, you'll keep them around. What companies are successfully avoiding these deadly sins? Head to the comments and tell us which startup leaders you most admire! And if you're looking for a good read, pick up some more leadership tips in these 15 Books Every Manager Should Read.
The end of the year is just days away, and our belief is that every year should be better than the last. To help you think about what you can focus on improving for your business in 2016, we asked business leaders to share their thoughts on the most important resolutions companies should be making for the coming year. And remember — in business as in life — every day is a chance to do better. Even if you don't focus on these business resolutions until June, that is still a great time to improve your company. Now see what these business leaders suggest you focus on in 2016: Build a road map “Businesses should identify specific opportunities for growth (rolling out a new product, exploring new markets, or making acquisitions) and [inlinetweet prefix="" tweeter="" suffix="—via @Wrike"]build a road map to make it happen.[/inlinetweet]” —Aleks Peterson, Technology Analyst, TechnologyAdvice Mobile accessibility “Mobile vs. Desktop disparity and smartphone penetration has deepened in 2015 at a pace that is showing overnight impact in a lot of industries. Companies need to speed up work to accommodate shifting dynamics in consumer trends, and accordingly bring about change in their business processes & people training.” —Annkur P Agarwal, CEO, Pricebaba “Make sure mobile is a big focus. We see a large share of our visits coming from mobile devices. On top of that, Google's search ranking algorithm now penalizes sites for not being mobile optimized. For us, this largely means optimizing our website. For others, it may mean the same, or could mean developing an app, advertising on mobile devices, or even offering mobile specific services. It's hard to say exactly how the shift to mobile devices will affect your business, but know that it definitely will. I suggest analyzing how mobile is currently impacting your business, what mobile trends you’re seeing, and developing a strategy to capitalize on it.” —Will von Bernuth, Co-Founder, Block Island Organics Know why you do what you do “Companies need to set clear priorities and make them accessible and understandable, so they can maximize the return on each hour they invest into their business. Focusing on what truly matters to fuel the growth and sustainability of your company is vital for success in 2016.” —Anthony Pezzotti, Co-Founder, Knowzo.com “Be strategic and take time to consider why you're doing the things you are and try to make contemplative pause a habit. Making lists and checking off 'to-dos' might make you feel productive, but you should be wary if it starts to feel rote. Deeper and more meaningful course correction might be needed to ensure you're maximizing the return on your invested effort.” —Chris Ricci, Indigenous Software Communicate with customers “Pick a platform and use it to address your consumer's most burning questions. Any platform such as a blog, YouTube channel, advertorials, communities, podcasts, or social media sites will work. If you can educate your customers on your industry, you will earn their trust and their business. This will not only help build brand awareness, but directly impact your bottom line in a positive way." —Mack Dudayev, CEO, InsureChance, Inc. “I have found it difficult to stay as close to our end users as I once could. To combat this, I man our customer support chat for 1 hour every day, 7 days a week. This daily first-hand interaction with our users allows me to stay grounded in our customer's logic; it has been instrumental in guiding our product development strategy. I can confidently explain to our engineers why a feature is important, as well as provide data to back it up. I have a mantra: [inlinetweet prefix="" tweeter="" suffix="—via @Wrike"]Listen to your customers, or you will have none.[/inlinetweet]” —Bryan Clayton, CEO, Greenpal Work smarter “Businesses should focus on improving team collaboration — get everyone plugged into the same assets, working toward a shared set of goals with clear visibility.” —Aleks Peterson, Technology Analyst, TechnologyAdvice “80% of your business profits come from a mere 20% of your activity. In other words, most of your regular business activities don’t benefit your bottom line. Here are a few specific tips for working smarter, not harder: 1. Learn to delegate. Focus on the areas of your business you’re the strongest in, and delegate the rest. 2. Remember that time is money. Actually, time is more important than money. You can make more money, but not more time. Stop wasting time on business activities that don’t make you money. 3. Build a tribe. By building a loyal base of customers and raving fans, you can spend less time on shameless self promotion because they’ll do a lot of the work for you.” —Blair Nastasi, Founder, Media Moguls PR “Focus on sound growth & autonomy. It's an election year, and the economy and jobs outlook appears solid, and I believe 2016 will be looked back upon as an inflection point. Those that focus on the fundamentals and establishing a strong base to weather future macroeconomic headwinds will be well positioned.” —Mike Trevino, CEO, Indigenous Software For customer retention “Ask the questions around how well your company keeps customers. New sales are great (“Get the check”), but repeat sales (“Keep the check”) are where you make your money. Don’t believe me? Look at your average cost of acquisition and your average profit and see how long it takes to make your money back on a new sale. Profit is not made on the new sale. It happens by keeping customers on the books, paying you. Focus on retention and watch your profits accelerate.” —Lou Altman, CEO & Lead Trainer, Next Level “Prioritize how to increase the long-term value of customers. It’s very expensive to acquire a customer, and a lot less expensive to retain them. The success of businesses comes from a combination of great customer service and a focus on how to generate additional revenue from current customers. If companies learn how to do this well, they will create lifetime customers, a good source of referrals, and independent advocates on behalf of the company. If your business is already doing this, focus on ways to improve this process.” —Deborah Sweeney, CEO, My Corporation In marketing “Exercise creativity when it comes to your marketing efforts. As paid search and organic search channels become increasingly competitive and expensive, it’s important that organizations think outside of the box to get in front of quality prospects. Whether it’s understanding how to leverage Reddit to promote content, or understanding how you can use Pinterest to increase lead flow, 2016 is the year companies should focus on taking advantage of the marketing opportunities that their competition haven’t yet quite figured out.” —Clayton Dean, Co-Founder, Circa Interactive “In your outreach and marketing for 2016, make a point to [inlinetweet prefix="" tweeter="" suffix="—via @Wrike"]connect with your customers and potential customers on a personal level.[/inlinetweet] Look for messaging and share motivations that make your story resonate with fanatics, then turn those fanatics into your own personal sales force.” —Chris Ricci, Indigenous Software “Prioritize video content in 2016. It is a great way to give your brand more of a personality. There are also a lot of great ways to promote your content through Google and Facebook that can help bring your business to new heights.” —Jason Parks, Owner, The Media Captain In data, tracking and analytics “Whether it's tracking customer behavior in a store or implementing goal funnels in Google analytics, [inlinetweet prefix="" tweeter="" suffix="—via @Wrike"]obtaining and making decisions on clean data has never been more important.[/inlinetweet] Many businesses believe their dataset is clean, but in reality the data needs to be filtered and organized to be a true vehicle for decision making.” —Orun Bhuiyan, Marketing Technologist, SEOcial “1. Evaluate how data is used to improve decision making and processes. 2. If data collection is a problem, resolution to put good collection and outreach mechanisms into place. 3. If data processing is a problem, resolution to get the right minds and systems into place. There is no organization on the face of the planet that could not better harness past experience to produce better future outcomes. Let's make that the goal for 2016.” —Trevor Ewen, Pear of the Week In talent acquisition “Improve your ability to identify and develop highly talented leaders for the future.” —Larry Sternberg, President, Talent Plus, Inc. In information security “In an age when hacking is becoming too commonplace, businesses should invest resources into safeguarding themselves and mitigating the risk of a future disaster. This may range from teaching staff about basic security practices to ensuring a website isn't vulnerable to conventional attacks.” —Orun Bhuiyan, Marketing Technologist, SEOcial What will you be focusing on in 2016? Are you taking up any of these suggested business resolutions for 2016, or has your company already set different priorities for the new year? Share your thoughts on 2016 business resolutions in the comments below!