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3 Crucial Keys to Creative Project Management
Project Management 5 min read

3 Crucial Keys to Creative Project Management

If you think overseeing creative projects and supervising creative teams is the same as managing a project with software developers or a manufacturing crew, you may want to think again. Every group has its own quirks and unique concerns that must be taken into consideration if you're going to be an effective leader. Below are the three crucial keys to successfully managing a project with creatives.

Everything You Need to Successfully Manage a Virtual Team (Checklist)
Leadership 3 min read

Everything You Need to Successfully Manage a Virtual Team (Checklist)

  If you've ever managed a virtual team member or an entire remote team before, you know how difficult it can be to keep everyone aligned. If you're about to manage a virtual team for the first time, there are a few major challenges you need to carefully consider before work begins: How to get your team organized without seeing them in person. How to encourage the company vision without holding a face-to-face conversation. How to ensure team members work diligently without sitting in the same office. How to keep a good project pace without constant communication. We've created a remote work policy checklist of the processes, tools, and mindsets you'll need to create solutions for those challenges and keep your virtual team on point. Check out the infographic below to get a visual on the checklist, and download and print our handy accompaniment: the Virtual Team Management Guide PDF. Go through it with your boss and colleagues at work. If you'd like to put this infographic on your own site, feel free to use this embed code for easy sharing: Infographic brought to you by Wrike Find this infographic a useful resource for your team? You can also download this easy-to-follow guide to make sure all of your pieces are in place. Download the Virtual Team Management Guide now. Virtual teamwork is hard work! Running a virtual team often takes more work than running a co-located team, but it isn't impossible. If you can check off every item on this list, your virtual team is well on its way to success. Share this infographic and PDF with your peers to turn your entire company into a hive of productive virtual workers.

How to Increase Business Velocity in 3 Easy Steps
Leadership 3 min read

How to Increase Business Velocity in 3 Easy Steps

Business velocity can make or break any business — and it's especially important for startups that are struggling to bring a product to market before anyone else beats them to it. Thus it becomes of paramount importance to clear roadblocks and set the stage for team productivity. Except how is this done exactly? At a 10,000-foot view, there really are only 3 steps.

How to Find Your Power as an Introvert Leader: Top Tips
Leadership 10 min read

How to Find Your Power as an Introvert Leader: Top Tips

Many people falsely believe that extroverted individuals are the most successful leaders. But in fact, both introverts and extroverts have equal opportunity to achieve greatness in the workplace. An introvert leader can guide, mentor, make important decisions, and network just as well as an extrovert leader. Even though their style is different, introverted leaders have valuable gifts they can harness to improve their work and the lives of those they manage.  In this article, we’ll explain exactly why you should nurture introverts into leadership roles and how to make the most of your own introverted personality with a few practical tips. Keep reading to discover the myths, qualities, and fame many introvert leaders experience.  Why introvert leaders are a benefit to businesses The idea that extroverted individuals are better leaders than those with introverted traits is influenced by the number of people in leadership positions who are naturally extroverted. According to a collection of studies analyzed by Positive Psychology, the majority of people around the world identify themselves as either somewhere in the middle of the two extremes or almost evenly split between them.  Despite this, people still largely believe that the majority of people are extroverted, especially if they hold a position of power.  This may be because, as humans, we tend to think that whoever is more outspoken is more confident. Confident people are the most inspiring, therefore we assume whoever talks the loudest is the best possible leader.  But introvert leaders, regardless of their confidence levels, are living proof that the opposite is also true. Even the quietest person in the room has the ability to be a powerful leader, if given the chance.  Although contrary to popular belief, personality tests do not measure the differences between introverted and extroverted individuals. Instead, they look at the continuum of behaviors. Both sets of opposing behaviors, including outspoken vs. soft spoken, can be used to effectively lead people.  It all comes down to what leaders do and how they do it.  As we all know, there’s more than one way to manage a team. And you may find that an extrovert’s approach is less effective than an introvert’s when it comes to a particular group of people or the type of work you’re doing together.  Introverted leadership qualities Here is how introverted leaders work their magic. If you have more than five of the following characteristics, you may display introverted leadership qualities regardless of how you personally identify. Here’s what to look for in yourself or other introverts:  Thoughtfulness in words and actions Thinking deeply about fewer ideas or projects Remaining calm in high-pressure situations Interest in productive processes over quick end results Prefers quality connections over fewer shallow ones Easily maintains focus in the long term Detail-oriented when solving problems Myths we need to dispel about introverted leaders There are many rumors about introverts and their leadership abilities. These may seem harmless at first, but learning about the introverted leadership style will provide guidance for everyone from directors to managers who want to help employees reach their full potential companywide. Here are some biases worth rethinking: Myth #1: Faster is good Extroverts thrive on sharing their thoughts as soon as they have them. This is especially true in group sightings where they can jump from topic to topic.  Introverts, on the other hand, like to take their time. They often speak slowly and think through things before sharing with the group. This adds a level of diplomacy to their actions which is especially beneficial when it comes to dealing with sensitive subject matters.  Myth #2: Louder is better Extroverts are known for being enthusiastic. They're often seen as the life of the party or the conference room.  Introverts, however, often get labeled as sticks in the mud. But don't be fooled by their quiet disposition. A quiet confidence is more valuable in professional settings where strategic action is valued.  When it comes to speaking in a group setting, introverts often demonstrate quality over quantity. Myth #3: Expressive is best Extroverts are confident in themselves and their achievements so you often hear them excitedly sharing them. While there are many benefits to loud and proud leaders, sometimes humility is a more effective strategy (as long as it doesn’t lead to persistent imposter syndrome).  This is especially important to consider when collaborating with clients and partners who have cultural backgrounds that are different from your own. For example, many European countries view stereotypical extroverted Americans as less agreeable than an introvert’s calmer, low profile approach.  Famous introverts that made great leaders People often illustrate introverts as reserved and quiet, socially awkward, solitary and soft-spoken. These qualities may make it seem that introverts lack the confidence and social skills that leaders, pioneers, and change makers possess. But you may be surprised to learn that 40% of leaders and executives identify themselves as introverts: Bill Gates Warren Buffett Marissa Meyer Mark Zuckerberg Guy Kawasaki Barack Obama  These are only a few of the famous leaders and innovators who consider themselves introverts but you’ll find at least one major influencer in every industry, specialty, and leadership role who openly identifies as one.  Their success proves that transformational leadership is not monopolized by those with an outgoing, socially-affable, and highly-confident temperament. In fact, despite an extroverted environment, introverts can successfully take the reins in any organization.  Tips for leadership as an introvert  As Westcliff researcher Ekta Agarwal writes in their study of introvert leaders: “The goal is not to change introverted leaders, instead it is to understand their preferences and use it as a strength.”  And while Psychology Today says it’s “not necessarily fake or inauthentic for introverts to act the part of extroverts”, understanding what makes an introverted leader unique is the first step to helping them achieve truly authentic leadership.  Here are six tips that introverts and people who manage them can leverage to harness their innate management and leadership skills: Listen first, talk later Introverts tend to shy away from small talk because it drains their energy. Typically, they prefer to stay on the sidelines and listen first, and weigh in with their own viewpoint later (or when asked).  A study managed by Francesca Gino, associate professor at Harvard Business School, shows that introverted bosses with active teams can be extremely successful, because they patiently listen to what their team members have to say.  This trait allows introverts to be especially effective leaders, since successful collaboration requires effective communication. Introverts tend to evaluate the full picture of a situation, carefully prepare what they are going to say, and add comments and instructions that are well thought out and clearly communicated.  Step up during times of crisis An introvert is capable of creating fully formed ideas and solutions that are rooted in his or her own inner power as much as, or sometimes more than, an extrovert.  This person may seem unproductive until they come up with a solution that everyone else missed. Then, their contribution is often valued highly since it is typically well thought out and detailed. By listening more than they speak, introverts are able to digest more information before making a proper analysis of the situation.  Combine this with introverts’ ability to listen intently to their colleagues and weigh different perspectives, and they can be a valuable voice of reason in times of crisis.  Get out of your comfort zone Because of their low social energy, networking can be difficult for introverts. But because it is key to opening up important business opportunities, it requires introverts to step outside of their comfort zone a bit.  Introverts actually can use their natural sincerity to lessen their anxiety and better engage others in conversation, making meaningful connections. Use your writing skills Introverts prefer to communicate in writing because it allows them to organize their ideas as they pen their thoughts. Author John Green jokes, “Writing is something you do alone. It’s a profession for introverts who want to tell you a story but don’t want to make eye contact while doing it.” But in all seriousness, introverts make the best writers and can use this skill to their advantage when leading groups.  Take time to recharge Given the limited social energy that introverts have, engaging in too many group activities and events drains them. Once their social energy is used up, introverts tend to withdraw from their surroundings in search of rejuvenation. Taking some time to work individually is essential to keeping efficiency and productivity high. It’s also key to preventing burnout.  As an introvert, set aside time during your day to get back into your contemplative zone and re-energize. You can actually use this time to come up with new strategies and ideas, and surprise your company with the surge in enthusiasm and passion at work. Use collaboration and communication apps Going digital can be especially advantageous for introverts, since they can preserve their social energy for in-person meetings with important clients and business partners, while staying connected with their team. Instant messaging, collaboration, and work management apps like Wrike can bring enhanced communication, transparency, and accountability to the workplace.   Successful managers, executives, and leaders are not defined by their personalities. They are defined more by how they handle critical situations, guide their team to achieve their goals, and inspire those around them, while being true to themselves. 

Strengthen and Optimize Agency Resource Management
Project Management 7 min read

Strengthen and Optimize Agency Resource Management

Improve your agency’s resource management processes and learn how Wrike boosts performance across the board with our robust project management software.

Take This Quiz: Are You A Micromanager? (Infographic)
Leadership 3 min read

Take This Quiz: Are You A Micromanager? (Infographic)

You read all the literature on micromanagement. You avoid forcing your ideas on your colleagues and friends whenever possible. But you still worry about whether or not you are coming across in a helpful, positive light. ...Or maybe this quiz suddenly appeared in your inbox from an anonymous sender? According to a survey from the book My Way or the Highway, 71% of non-managers said micromanagement has interfered with their job performance. Whether you came to this quiz on your own or received it from a concerned friend, it's time to find out once and for all if you're being too overbearing. So, are you a micromanager? After you take the quiz, read our guest post on the top 3 reasons why micromanagement is a MACRO hindrance. (Prefer the interactive version? You can also take this micromanagement quiz on Qzzr!) What were your results? Are you a micromanager, a bit of a pushover, or someone we'd all like to work with? Don't worry — if your management style isn't where you want it to be, you can always improve. If you enjoyed our infographic, share it on your website with this embed code: Brought to you by Wrike Here are some resources you can check out to get you back on the right track: • 3 Reasons Micromanagement is a Macro Hindrance • How Neuroscience Can Make You a Better Project Manager • 4 Problems with Virtual Meetings that You Can Fix • 10 Phrases That Can Ruin Your Project Kickoff Meeting

Top Tips for Accommodating Disabilities in the Workplace
Collaboration 5 min read

Top Tips for Accommodating Disabilities in the Workplace

Workplace diversity and inclusion are key. Check out our tips for accommodating disabilities in the workplace and learn about disability etiquette training.

10 Deadly Signs Your Culture is Toxic
Collaboration 7 min read

10 Deadly Signs Your Culture is Toxic

But just as you can build a healthy company culture by injecting meaning and mission into your daily grind, you could also ignore it totally, decide not to fight for it ... and watch how the bullies and less desirable elements take over and turn the workplace into a toxic arena of one-upmanship and verbal takedowns. Here are 10 warning signs to watch out for. Nip it in the bud — if you care about your company.

Waste Not: Becoming a Lean Team Means Cutting These Wastes (Video)
Productivity 3 min read

Waste Not: Becoming a Lean Team Means Cutting These Wastes (Video)

Lean methodology started out as a way to make manufacturing more efficient by finding and getting rid of waste, reducing costs, and delivering products faster. Its main focus is on value, which is essentially anything the customer would want enough to pay for. Value is always defined by the customer. So that means no guessing what the customer wants or making blind assumptions. Lean projects need open conversations with customers and stakeholders. Begin your lean processes by hitting 'play' on the video below. You'll learn 3 simple tips for eliminating the biggest source of waste: rework. Then keep reading for easy fixes to the 7 other most common forms of waste for knowledge workers: How to Eliminate the Most Common Wastes for Knowledge Workers 1. Failure to share knowledge. Too often knowledge and experience is wasted because it isn't captured or shared. Other people can't learn from what stays trapped in your head. So start a knowledge base that everyone can access and contribute to. Common questions will get answered, and your team will be able to find the answers they need as soon as they need them. 2. Duplicate efforts. Nothing is more frustrating — or more wasteful — than realizing you've spent time and effort doing the same work as a colleague. Make your teamwork transparent with a task board, or a quick weekly standup where everyone shares what they're working on. When everyone knows exactly what they're responsible for — and what their teammates are doing — these types of mistakes don't happen. 3. Unproductive meetings. For most knowledge workers, meetings equal wasted time. You follow an agenda, but don't actually accomplish anything. Skip the status updates, and only hold meetings when there's a specific goal or task your team needs to complete together. 4. Flawed Processes. When was the last time you asked "Why?" Why are we doing this? Why are we going about it this way? Most teams just keep doing the things the way they've been done, simply because they've always been done that way. Hold a retrospective after each project to discuss what went well, what you ultimately achieved, and how the process could be improved. 5. Ineffective communication. Vague expectations, fuzzy deadlines, and unclear responsibilities lead to mistakes, wasted efforts, and missed goals. Improve communications by learning to listen. Pay attention to what the other person means, not just the words they're using, and always confirm you're on the same page. 6. Delays. Knowledge workers are pretty familiar with waiting: waiting for approval, waiting through rounds of revisions, waiting for documents to be shuttled back and forth, or for the information they need to proceed. Standardize processes wherever possible, and trim where you can. Every step in the process should add value. If it doesn't, cut it. 7. Errors. Mistakes happen, it's just a basic fact of life. But mistakes can be costly, and as customers have more options and the field of competition grows, expectations get higher and higher. Eliminate common errors by taking some simple steps. Automate where you can by using spell check or a bug tracker. Make sure everything gets at least two sets of eyes during revisions. Or release to an internal sandbox or staging server to catch errors before you deliver to the customer. Best Tools for Workplace Efficiency Now that you've got the right mindsets and processes in place, discover a few new tools to help your team up their game. Check out this list of 25 online tools to help you run your business.

We Need to Talk: What Managers Need to Know to Deliver Tough Feedback
Leadership 10 min read

We Need to Talk: What Managers Need to Know to Deliver Tough Feedback

Giving tough feedback to your people is never fun. Here's what you need to know.

How to Deal With Difficult Employees
Leadership 10 min read

How to Deal With Difficult Employees

As a career manager or even a first-time manager, the chance of encountering difficult employees is, unfortunately, very high. You need to prepare yourself in advance to handle the situation without causing additional problems. Even if you're one of the lucky managers who doesn't have a chronically cranky member on the team, there will always be That One Person who, while not generally difficult to work with, has their moments of stubbornness and inflexibility. How do you manage difficult team situations without coming off as the bad guy? Read our tips in this infographic for properly identifying and addressing difficult employees, and check out our tips for how to deal with difficult employees.  What is a problem employee? A problem employee is, simply put, someone who is causing problems in the workplace. Some problems are more obvious than others — disrespect, gossiping, and stealing could be some examples. But showing up consistently overwhelmed, upset, or cranky are less obvious. We typically think of these as moods that can’t be helped, not behavior that can negatively impact others. When serious life changes occur, we must show empathy while also addressing the problem so that work doesn’t suffer too.  Little behaviors can add up over time. Running late to every meeting, willfully ignoring task status updates in the project management platform, or simply neglecting to respond to emails in a timely manner are all examples of a problem employee.  And it’s not just affecting them. One employee’s bad attitude or emotional ups and downs may have a ripple effect on your entire workplace culture. Whether it’s missed deadlines or self-sabotage, this employees’ actions will no doubt impact everyone else on the team.  How to deal with difficult employees as a new manager When a business has a hard time working with an employee, it can drain productivity and make the work environment hostile. How to handle a difficult employee can be addressed through a variety of strategies and procedures. In the worst-case scenario, if your company has a consistently hard time motivating and managing one of its employees, then you may need to offboard them. This can improve the performance and morale of the other workers. But as a new manager, firing difficult employees should not be your first port of call. As you get the lay of the land, you may discover that letting people go isn’t a smart move, and there are other ways to address their behavior. If you’re not happy with certain behavior, don’t just go along with it. Instead, set expectations that are consistent with your company’s policies and the standards you have for yourself. This will help employees copy what you do as you lead by example.  If the change doesn’t work, try communicating the next steps. Good managers will set specific consequences if the situation still isn’t improving.  Tell difficult employees that they can still turn it around by identifying the consequences of continuing to behave in a way that negatively impacts the rest of the team. From there, monitor progress and help them achieve their new behavioral goals.  Remember, problem-solving is all about collaboration. Employees resent an “us against them” work culture but will appreciate you partnering with them to solve the issue.  Good managers will ensure that every possible step has been taken to retain an employee before termination is used as a last resort. They make sure they’ve done all they can before taking that final step.  Top tips for managing a difficult employee Insubordinate employees can disrupt a workplace and kill productivity. Getting them to behave properly can help managers improve their performance. Use one or more of these actionable tips to come up with your own game plan for dealing with difficult employees: Be professional It’s important to avoid making the conversation too personal. The goal is to find a way to move forward and not to create more confrontation. Openly communicate Having a two-way conversation with a challenging employee can help you identify the root cause of their behavior and address it. Instead of attacking them, focus on the issues that have been identified. Then, reinforce your message by asking the employee to explain their actions. There may be a reason why this employee has been acting out, and perhaps you can work together to address it and stop the behavior. Ask questions There may be other factors that contribute to their negative behavior. Some might be outside of work. But you may be surprised to find that others are totally within your control and you can easily help the problem employee solve these problems.  Use examples It can be hard to give harsh feedback, but it is important to provide clear and specific examples of the problematic behavior that has occurred. This can help lower the employee's defensiveness and improve their performance. Record everything When you witness poor performance or problematic behavior, record it in writing so you can keep track of it and remember all of its details. This is good practice so that if the situation is escalated, you have all the evidence and information ready to defend your position.. Get help The human resources team can help you identify the issue, discuss the steps you need to take, and provide a course of action. Work together Set a timeline for improvement and clearly state expectations. Having the employee sign the plan will help ensure that the plan is followed and that the evaluation framework is used to measure success. If your plan for improvement doesn’t work, you may end up with a failed strategy. The easiest way to set clear consequences is by sending a warning letter or revoking their employment contract. Extend grace Give your employees time to improve their behavior. During this time, monitor their progress and keep track of any issues that might be affecting their ability to meet the agreed-upon timeline. Isolate them If the situation is not immediately fixable, consider separating a disruptive employee from the other team members to prevent their behavior from spreading. Doing so can help keep the employee from causing problems for the other team members. Take responsibility Whether you intend to or not, there may be something you are doing that has influenced bad behavior among difficult employees. Take responsibility for the situation and try to resolve it in a way that works for both parties. How do you deal with difficult employees in a virtual environment? First, it’s important to realize that it’s harder to humanize employees we only interact with online. Sometimes, when an employee is struggling, we stop paying attention to what's happening around them. Understanding the implicit bias we may have toward remote colleagues is the first step to resolving conflicts with them.  Second, communication that is as specific as possible is critical in a virtual environment. Give employees clear, behavioral feedback. It's not uncommon for most managers to spend months or even years criticizing their poor performers without offering anything concrete for them to work on.   Great managers know how to be concise and constructive. This approach helps lower the other person's defensiveness and gives them the information they need to improve. It does two key things: it lowers the other person's defensiveness and helps them improve at the same time.  Third, managers should document their workflow for dealing with difficult employees. In a physical office, there are always other people around to witness behavior and provide guidance. In a virtual office, unless specific individuals are invited to the call, you’ll mainly interact with this employee one-on-one to resolve this issue.  So when dealing with problematic remote employees, make a list of the key points and actions that you need to take to improve the situation. Record what you do and say to this employee, along with meeting dates, times, and formats.  This will help you identify areas of weakness in your own management style and allow you to make better decisions next time. It will also protect you from any accusations a disgruntled employee may choose to make.  When everything is written down, it’s easier to remember and analyze, especially when the situation is emotionally charged.  How to improve the behavior of a difficult team member If the problem persists, it will cause more damage to your team. This is why it is important to know how to solve it.  Not sure how to put this all into practice? Follow these steps for how to deal with difficult employees in a way that maintains and even strengthens your relationships: Step 1: Label it The key to solving problems before they get out of hand is to label it early on. If you notice a behavior that is negative more than once, be sure to consciously observe that employee moving forward. If the action happens consistently, that's when you know you have a problem to solve. Step 2: Start tracking Using a simple spreadsheet or project and task history in Wrike, make a note of how often the behavior occurs and the severity of it.  For example, if an employee is consistently late on their deadlines, you can track whether or not they are turning in work the next day or the following weeks. You can also use your project management software to add context to the task and how it impacted the rest of the project.  By using your project management software to add context, you can get to the root of the problem faster. Continuing this example, even if an employee is consistently late, there might be a bottleneck from a different employee who's actually causing the holdup.  You can also look to see if the workload is distributed evenly. If not, be sure to redistribute and communicate your observations along with your solutions for moving forward. Chances are, your employees are just overwhelmed and will greatly appreciate the gesture. However, if the difficult employees really are to blame for the behavior and you see it showing up over several weeks or months, you know you have to do something about it. Step 3: Identify patterns We all go through rough patches, but there might be patterns that emerge from your observations. It's good to note them whenever they come up. That way, when you're having a conversation with your employee, you have more insight into what may be exaggerating or promoting that behavior.  For example, if your remote employee is late to meetings every Thursday but on time every other day of the week, it may be a sign that they have a responsibility outside of work that is preventing them from arriving on time on this specific day of the week.  Whether it's picking up a child from school or attending a meeting for a different project that typically runs over time, you'll be able to either move the meeting to accommodate or work with the employee to find an alternative solution. Step 4: Plan solutions Typically the simplest answer is always the best. In the short term, having a discussion and coming up with a plan is a great way to solve small issues.  You can also plan long-term solutions for how to address the behavior. That includes setting up a meeting with an HR rep present, keeping notes on what you want to discuss during the meeting, and offering the employee an opportunity to discuss any personal issues that might be coming up for them in private ahead of time.  You may even find that the behavior is starting to become a pattern but is not quite yet a big enough problem to escalate the situation. If that's the case, then give the person a heads up in a private meeting or via email that you notice something is different.  If you choose to email them, communicate this in a helpful tone. Ask if you can assist in any way. Step 5: Communicate expectations Even if you share your initial plan in your meeting, it's good to reiterate your expectations both in person and in writing. Make sure that the wording is clear and not vague. Have your employee sign off on the expectations with a formal signature or by reiterating their understanding of it.   Keep in mind when working with a large remote team that personalities and cultural differences often come into play when communicating sensitive information like this. Look for ways that your unconscious bias might be affecting the interaction. Remember to lead with kindness and helpfulness while also being firm on what is expected moving forward. Step 6: Monitor progress Dealing with a difficult employee isn't a set-it-and-forget-it type of project. Instead, you'll need to monitor progress over time.  Once you've laid out your plan and the employee has begun to execute it, make sure you check in and ask if they need any additional assistance from you. They might have questions or find that the plan makes sense on paper but not in action. If that's the case, adjust as needed.  Make sure you choose a KPI for this project just like you would any other. That way, you can monitor the ups and downs as you go. Once you see consistent improvement, make a note to check in less often but still keep an eye on it in future months or quarters.  And once your employee has changed their behavior, make sure that you acknowledge and celebrate them. Show them how much you appreciate them working with you on this.  Not only will it improve the work environment for your entire team but it might also improve their quality of life.  Keep in mind that some difficult employees are only difficult because they aren't being managed well. Without clear communication and empathy, it can be challenging to tell the difference.  Conclusion When dealing with a difficult employee, the ideal outcome is for you to work together to develop a solution that both parties agree on. Partner with Wrike to help get all your employees on the same page and monitor their behavior over time. Start your free two-week trial today. 

Improving Productivity on Your Marketing Team (Checklist)
Marketing 5 min read

Improving Productivity on Your Marketing Team (Checklist)

To say life as a marketing manager can be hectic would be putting it mildly. With so much going on and distractions popping up every five minutes, you may feel like you need to go into complete isolation in order to actually get anything done. In fact, that’s exactly what that crazy scuba-like contraption is for in the photo below: Hugo Gernsback’s 1925 invention "The Isolator" makes the wearer deaf to all outside noise, limits vision to a tiny window, and even has an oxygen hose. Before you go out and buy an Isolator for every member of your marketing team, try these simple strategies for promoting productivity, improving meetings, and encouraging creativity. Instant Productivity Boosters Block out creative time on your calendar where you unplug completely. Turn off email notifications, put your phone on Do Not Disturb, etc. Just make sure your team knows when you’re free to be interrupted so they're not stuck waiting for your input. Delegate. Assign tasks based on strengths, or skills you know your team members want to sharpen. It'll keep your top performers from being overloaded and help your whole team improve and stay engaged. Review lessons learned so you can continually improve your process and become more efficient. Save articles and inspiration in a Wrike folder via the Chrome extension instead of emailing them to your team as you find them. It'll cut down on interruptions and distractions while your team’s focused on the task at hand. Review your inspiration folder at the beginning of a new creative project to kickstart a productive brainstorming session. Give your team time to engage in “unnecessary creation” — Todd Henry’s name for exploring possibilities, picking up new skills, and working on side projects or experiments. You never know what cool ideas, skills, or side projects will benefit your daily work. Clarify goals and how each person contributes in your MRM (marketing resource management is the MRM meaning) plan. When every team member knows their importance, they are more likely to get the job done and done well. Streamline communications and simplify processes. Take a good hard look at the way your team functions and reevaluate whether every step and approval is really necessary. Prioritize based on your strategic marketing goals, and set fake deadlines for yourself for extra motivation. Better Creativity Add more color to your office. Yellow is particularly good for stimulating creativity and optimism. Encourage people to listen to music through headphones. It'll help them focus and get in the creative zone. Provide pens and paper so people can doodle, mind map, brainstorm, write by hand, or easily pick up and head outdoors. Embrace work naps. If your location permits, a quick, 15-minute snooze improves creativity, memory, learning ability, and helps prevent burnout. Meetings & Brainstorming Sessions Keep meetings short and only invite the necessary people to attend. Take it outside. Short meetings, brainstorming sessions — head to the park or go for a short walk while discussing new possibilities. Fresh air and light activity will make your brainstorming sessions more productive, and you’ll get better-quality creative ideas. Start meetings and brainstorming sessions with something fun, like a funny YouTube clip. People are more productive and creative when they’re in a good mood. End meetings by stating who will do what by when. Set at least one day a week as a "no meeting" day where nothing is scheduled. Quick Miscellaneous Tips Stock your office kitchen with healthy snacks and drinks instead of junk that will lead to a food coma or sugar crash. Automate tedious tasks, use marketing automation software, or create templates for routine tasks, documents, and email messages. Stop multitasking. Instead batch similar tasks together to quickly knock them out. Schedule a set time to deal with emails and other requests, instead of dealing with interruptions as they appear. Use an RSS reader to quickly catch up on marketing news and blogs you follow. Download our free marketing eBook Need a new tool to boost collaboration and productivity on your marketing team? Download our free eBook for a real-world guide to buying a collaboration tool that suits your exact needs. Get it now: Collaboration Software for Marketing Teams: A Buyer’s Guide What are your best marketing shortcuts and productivity tips? Share what works for your team in the comments below — we're always looking for new tips! "The Isolator" photo credit: A Great Disorder

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