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Team Management

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Foolproof Ways To Improve Team Performance
Collaboration 7 min read

Foolproof Ways To Improve Team Performance

Whether you’re managing a team in the office, or remotely, improving team performance is never easy. Discover ways to improve team performance with Wrike.

What Is Holacracy and Will it Work in My Company?
Leadership 10 min read

What Is Holacracy and Will it Work in My Company?

Discover the rules and processes of holacracy and how a holacratic organizational structure can be used to help businesses become self-organized.

Using Wrike for High Performance Marketing Teams
Marketing 7 min read

Using Wrike for High Performance Marketing Teams

Wrike's flexible folder structure allows any team to quickly set up a workflow to operate more efficiently. We've seen marketing teams become particularly successful by setting up their Wrike folders to mirror the structure of their department. Our customer success team speaks with dozens of companies per week, sharing best practices and setting up workflows.  New marketing teams set up shop in our enterprise project management solution every week in an effort to drive efficiency and stay organized. After chatting with so many of these customers, we know that marketing teams are notoriously understaffed and overworked. Additionally, they're inherently cross-functional, working with departments from sales and engineering to manufacturing and operations. A central work hub to manage all of the moving parts is essential to hitting deadlines. We've compiled some of the best practices and quick wins that marketing teams of all shapes and sizes have leveraged to boost productivity. Additionally, we've created a template folder structure for high-performing marketing teams that you can download and import into Wrike in order to get started ASAP. Edit our template freely to make it match your team! Here are the best practices of how to measure marketing performance from teams we've talked to: 1. Match your folder structure to the organization of your marketing team Most teams have various marketing team "buckets" which often include Lead Gen, Content Marketing, Product Marketing, and Email Marketing, just to name a few. Create a folder to capture all of these categories and create subfolders to match the various teams in your marketing org.     If one of your 'buckets' has a multitude of responsibilities, add a layer of subfolders to capture these. Content teams are a perfect example. At Wrike, our content marketing team is working on blog posts, webinar scripts, infographics, and case studies, so they create subfolders to house the tasks related to each of these responsibilities. 2. Organize by week to keep the team on track Marketing teams generate a never ending stream of deliverables. Using multiple tags per task, top performing teams also organize their work by week in order to stay focused and ensure deliverables are generated by the time they're needed. If you haven't explored task tagging yet, pause your reading and take a look at this Help Center article. Wrike gives you the ability to put a task in multiple locations. This is essential for organizing your tasks by team bucket and by week. After creating the perfect folder system, all you need to do is drag the folder name and drop it on the task to add the additional tag. A quick overview can be found in this video about task and folder tagging. 3. Run weekly meetings out of Wrike (Click the header to read my blog post dedicated solely to this topic.) With the weekly folders you created to organize deliverables and tasks, you are now equipped to run weekly meetings straight out of Wrike. Instead of harassing everyone to submit slides for the weekly meeting, simply have teams go on Wrike and show the list of tasks they completed last week, then look at what will be done this week. For tracking purposes, you can either push tasks from week to week as they're rescheduled and pushed out, or leave the original week tags in order to see the history of where a task has been. This is a great way to identify bottlenecks and better understand which work is being prioritized. For better organization, consider including a Meeting Agenda and Action Items task in each week's folder. This will be the task where people can jot down notes, high level thoughts, action items, and other initiatives to ensure there is a place to capture feedback and follow up. During the meeting, make sure you designate a recorder to keep track of actions items on this task and ensure they are converted into tasks with assignees. Weekly folders can also help you understand bandwidth constraints on your team. When used in conjunction with Wrike's Workload view, weekly folders are the perfect place to jump to when a last minute request comes to the marketing team and you need to find someone to get it done.     4. Create MGMT team folder to tag top priorities Most marketing teams have a director who needs updates from her managers. In an effort to ensure managers are only relaying top priority and relevant information, build a "MGMT" team folder with a subfolder for each of the managers.  Managers then tag their high priority tasks and projects in order to give their director and peers easy visibility into their most important work. 5. Add annual and quarterly goals in Wrike As you get set up in Wrike, make sure your team has clear goals and direction. Google has a great approach to planning quarterly and annual goals which centers on Objectives and Key Results (OKRs). In Wrike, create high level goals (Objectives) and then specific big picture actions you want to take to achieve them (Key Results). Turn these Objectives and Key Results into folders and encourage team members to tag relevant tasks that will achieve these results into the corresponding folder. It gives clear visibility into how every task is helping complete a goal. This can be particularly powerful early in the quarter when you're planning all of the work that needs to get done.   6. Ensure commitment and ownership The key to making this work is to ensure that whole team has buy-in and is committed to the process. Compliance is not enough; 100% commitment is necessary. One way to ease the transition into Wrike and maintain your status as a high performance marketing team is to appointment a high-ranking team member as owner of the team's Wrike experience. The owner maintains folder structure, establishes team norms, and facilitates new processes introduced to Wrike. Your 3 Actions for Today Now, are you finished reading my tips, but don't know where to start? Here are the top 3 actions you should take today to get your marketing team performing at a higher level in Wrike: 1. Create weekly and categorical folders and tag all tasks by week and bucket. 2. Run your weekly meetings out of the weekly tracking folders. 3. Identify a team owner to manage the folder structure and hold the team accountable. Good luck, and let us know how your team improves with Wrike! If you want to see these 6 tips in action, check out our video on creating high-performance marketing teams with Wrike. Author Bio:  Author Bio:Tim Chingos is a Customer Success Manager at Wrike. He likes to bring his dog to work and claims that she increases everyone's productivity. LinkedIn  

How to Break Down Work Silos Between Departments
Collaboration 5 min read

How to Break Down Work Silos Between Departments

why aren't more people collaborating? One major reason: corporate silos and the silo mentality. This is where groups or departments within an organization refuse to share information with others, which results in turf wars and inefficiency. If you're going to break down silos, you will need a mandate from management. But then you will also need the right culture and the corresponding tools that can help lay your cards on the table.

How Successful Teams Use Project Management Software (Infographic)
Project Management 3 min read

How Successful Teams Use Project Management Software (Infographic)

According to Information Week, 87% of high-performing companies use a project management tool to complete daily work and and meet their business goals. But why? What are the benefits? What kinds of teams need project management software? And how do they go about choosing the right tool? Learn all the “how”s and “why”s in this infographic: Share this infographic on your own site with this embed code:

3 Lessons on High-Performing Teams from TED Talks
Collaboration 3 min read

3 Lessons on High-Performing Teams from TED Talks

If you were handed 20 sticks of uncooked spaghetti, 1 yard of masking tape, 1 yard of string, and 1 marshmallow and then told to build a tower with the marshmallow at the top, what would you do? Believe it or not, this exercise gives us a lot of insight into building high-performance teams. During his TED talk, Tom Wujec reveals three major lessons you can learn from playing with your food. After the timer began, the average team spent their time doing the following: 1. Orienting — Talking about the task and subtly (or not so subtly) determining leaders 2. Planning — Deciding the best way to tackle the task 3. Building — The majority of their time was spent here, just getting the task done 4. Crossing their fingers — Tower built, marshmallow in hand, they placed the sugar bomb on top and hoped the spaghetti didn't break Some towers broke. Some towers stayed up. Some towers stayed up and surpassed new height records. So what was the difference between a wildly successful team, a mildly successful team, and a failing team? Three major factors were common among the wildly successful teams: 1. They took an iterative approach. The did not pick one plan and stick it out to the end, hoping their spaghetti would hold. They modified their build as they went along by periodically testing out the weight of the marshmallow against whatever structure they currently had. 2. They had diverse skill sets in the group. Surprisingly, CEOs + Executive Admins worked better together than groups made up solely of CEOs. Some team members were good at managing (we'll let you guess who) and others were good at executing next steps. A good mix of skills and personalities make a stronger, more effective team.   3. They had prior experience with the task. Four months after the first exercise, the worst performers were given the marshmallow construction problem again. They were all successful, blowing previous height records out of the water. Being able to learn from their past failure, these teams enjoyed success the second time around. Here's an idea: Since you're already building your own high-performance team in your organization, why not run the marshmallow experiment with your colleagues? It should prove to be an enjoyable exercise in team dynamics. Or you could simply learn from the short TED Talk on high-performing teams below. It's less than seven minutes long, but loaded with lessons on creating your own top-notch team! Think there are other important factors that go into building a high-performance team? Share them with us in the comments below! Image credit: Photo by Creative Sustainability. Some rights reserved.

The Secret Ingredients of a Successful Distributed Team
Leadership 5 min read

The Secret Ingredients of a Successful Distributed Team

Today, more and more companies manage their projects across multiple locations, taking advantage of new technologies and global talent to take their projects to the next level. But while remote teams enjoy many advantages, one of the central challenges they face is that of communication. Co-located team members have many opportunities to interact, whether it's through structured meetings or informal conversations that lead to new ideas. But members of a distributed team have to be much more intentional about communicating and keeping everyone in the loop. For project manager wondering how to manage remote workers, keeping everyone on the same page is essential to ensuring the team can quickly respond to any changes that may occur. Obviously, any project team has its own working style and unique challenges. For instance, an established marketing department will have a different process than an ad hoc creative team that's been created to work with remote consultants on a specific campaign. However, according to my experience managing distributed teams, there are four key factors that are important for any kind of remote collaboration.Source: Daxx.com, Chanty Inc. Set Ground Rules Establishing a set of ground rules for work processes, communication, and team organization will save you a ton of time when it comes to keeping your team up to date and on the same page. For example, ground rules stipulate when and how joint meetings are held, how the team logs their working hours, and how colleagues report on their everyday work and any roadblocks that are delaying progress. By setting and sticking to the same rules, you minimize the risk of something important slipping through the cracks. Closely Manage Workloads It’s fair to say that maintaining control is more challenging with a distributed team than a co-located one. To optimize your team's productivity and avoid any duplicate efforts, keep a close watch on your team's workload and be very clear about assignments and responsibilities.   If the task is a new and non-typical one, make sure the assignee has a clear understanding of the goals and what output is expected upon completion. Also, check whether you share the same vision of project priorities and where the new task stands among them. Maintain Constant Communication Remote team members must have a convenient way to communicate with their manager and with each other. It’s vital to keep ideas flowing, deadlines and responsibilities clear, and handoffs and workflows transparent. Keeping open lines of communication also ensures that plans and updates aren’t spread across everyone's email or personal storage, but get shared with everyone involved. Good communication helps establish a positive team atmosphere and culture of collaboration. Apart from discussing work-related questions, encourage your team to share personal news, funny articles, vacation photos, etc. I also believe that relationships between remote colleagues greatly benefit from the occasional face-to-face meeting, so try to bring everyone together in-person, even if it's just once or twice a year. Source: Daxx.com, Chanty Inc. Leverage the Right Technologies Following these tips will be much easier if your team takes advantage of technology that supports remote collaboration. Cloud-based collaboration apps can turn colleagues who are spread across the globe into a powerful team that benefits from collective intelligence. They help make up-to-date information visible to colleagues at any time, even if several projects are running simultaneously. They help users break down silos, keep work data and updates easily accessible, and make it easy for adjust their work. For the project manager, this is the foundation of good decision-making. Leading a Successful Distributed Team Have you had experience leading a distributed team? What do you think is the secret ingredient of successful remote collaboration? Read more tips on keeping your remote workers engaged, productive, and happy.

10 Ways to Make Your Team More Productive (Infographic)
Productivity 3 min read

10 Ways to Make Your Team More Productive (Infographic)

Some days are just harder than others. It's the end of a week, or the day after a holiday, or there was yet another office birthday. (Cake-coma, anyone?) When your team is having a hard time focusing on their work, don't just sigh and hope things will change soon. You can actively help them jump back on the productivity boat with top-down productivity management. Check out the tips in this infographic and get your team moving today. And if you're always looking for more tips to help boost team performance, check out 11 additional ways you can increase team productivity. Share this infographic with your team, or embed it on your blog with this code: Infographic brought to you by Wrike

The Right Way to Empower Your Team with Flexible Hours and Remote Work
Leadership 10 min read

The Right Way to Empower Your Team with Flexible Hours and Remote Work

Traditional 9-to-5, desk-bound jobs are dying, and companies must adapt to retain their best talent and empower high-performing teams

7 Easy Steps to Encourage Self-Organization in Your Team
Collaboration 7 min read

7 Easy Steps to Encourage Self-Organization in Your Team

Self-organization is a hot trend in many creative industries nowadays, and it can help your team greatly increase efficiency and motivation. The main aim of self-organization is to encourage self-actualization of the team members. When the team members can influence the decision-making process and are allowed to adjust their workload at least at some level, they feel more responsibility for the decisions made and, thus, are more motivated to execute them. So if you decided to move to this concept within your company, what is with the best way to start? Here are 7 easy steps to begin the process. So if you decided to move to this concept within your company, what is with the best way to start? Here are 7 easy steps to begin the process. 1. Arrange a short intro meeting A short introductory meeting is the best way to get the process started. Introduce the concept of self-organizing teams to people, as it may be new for some team members. Let them know about the benefits of it, such as improved efficiency, agile reaction to changes and self-actualization of the team members (you can find more of them in one of the previous posts). If the team isn't new, ask if there’s anything they’d like to improve in the way the team works right now. If it's a new team, find out what will make the team work well for them. While you are not obliged to implement each suggestion, they can be a great source of understanding of how the work process is really organized within the team and what can be optimized. Finally, let the team know how you are going to implement this concept, using the suggestions below as a starting point. 2. Set sensible milestones and checkpoints The point of this kind of team is that it only has to regularly check in, but there are things both managers and team members can do to make the self-organizing team work well. First of all, you need to do the planning at the beginning of each iteration. This means setting realistic milestones and checkpoints to enable the team to work efficiently to deliver results, and being sure that your team understands what is strategic capacity planning. Regularly working under the pressure of checkpoints is bad for the team’s morale. At the same time, the feedback cycle should be short enough so that you can quickly adjust things if you don’t get what you expected.  That’s why you need good capacity planning strategies — split the workload into small, actionable items you can regularly overview upon completion. Team members also may set their own internal deadlines on the team meetings to enable them to meet the overall project goals. Your role here is to make sure that the team members' way of working is in harmony with the overall project schedule and recommend adjustments if necessary. 3. Let people leverage their talents Once milestones are set, allow the team to decide on the tasks to do for the next iteration cycle and then let team members choose the ones they want to accomplish. This way, they can pick what they like most or what they are best at. Of course, if some tasks turn out to be unpopular, someone will still have to do them. In this case, you can be guided by the team members’ experience in this area and their current workload. If the team has embraced the self-organization concept, everything will get done, as it greatly increases personal motivation and awareness. 4. Don’t interrupt people once they start It might be difficult, but you have to let the team get on with the project once they have started work. Give people their workload and set the checkpoints to see results. Don’t get into the minute details of how they do their jobs, and try not to switch priorities during the process. Of course, emergencies happen, but remember that each intervention lowers the efficiency of your team, and it should be done only if you find it indispensable for the project. Monitor progress according to the checkpoints you have set, and don’t forget:  In self-organizing teams, the role of management is to check in, not check up. 5. Facilitate the information exchange Good communication is the key to making self-organizing teams work well. Set up a transparent communication structure for the team to keep each other up-to-date, as well as to provide feedback at set checkpoints and to talk to you if issues arise that need external help (such as altering team selection). All team members should participate in regular team meetings (ideally weekly) and have a chance to speak out. You and upper managers need to be open to dialog with the team and must be ready to compromise when needed. Also, make sure the team runs regular internal meetings where they can keep each other in the loop of what each member is currently doing and ask for assistance, if needed. 6. Avoid a culture of blame When things go wrong, it’s very human to start finger pointing and to try to find someone to blame. However, no one can avoid failure, and there are better ways to tackle it. For instance, the quite known conception of “little bets” suggests considering failure as an important feedback from the reality that can help to adjust your project and get closer to success. With a self-organizing team, managers must accept that this is part of the process of creation and innovation. Instead of assigning blame for failure, focus on the steps needed to achieve success. 7. Regularly review and readjust the team’s work process Use team meetings and check points as a great opportunity to review how the self-organization concept is working for your team and make readjustments, if necessary. Self-organization is sensitive to the team members’ personalities and circumstances. That’s why it requires constant balancing and individual adjustments to be made. For instance, if you see that some team members don’t get along with each other, you may make sure they don’t work together on one task or even move one of them to another project. Of course, fully adopting self-organization is quite a complex process, and you need to be sure that it is the right approach for your company. This type of team may not work well for banks and government organizations, which have a strict hierarchical structure. However, more creative organizations can benefit from this type of team structure. Self-organization also works well for distributed teams, which require a more flexible team structure, and good project management software can facilitate the decision-making process. Finally, don't forget to measure results as it is the only way to see if a self-organizing team is right for your organization. The real test of this type of team is productivity, efficiency, improved product quality and revenue growth. If your self-organizing team achieves all this, then it is a success.

What Is a Self-Organizing Team?
Collaboration 10 min read

What Is a Self-Organizing Team?

Self-organizing teams are a key part of Agile project management. Read on to discover how to make your team more productive through self-organization.

Why Your Teamwork Sucks... and How To Improve It
Collaboration 7 min read

Why Your Teamwork Sucks... and How To Improve It

Turns out we're not naturally wired to play nicely together. Anyone who's ever watched children playing team-based games will understand. Teamwork is just that — it's WORK. In case you think that's blindingly obvious, it's not. One UC Berkeley study says that high-performing (AKA powerful) individuals who are forced to work with other powerful individuals in a group actually end up with below average results. Partly because they end up bickering about who gets to be "the top dog" instead of working towards a consensus. And partly because high performers are less focused on the task, and do not share information as effectively. They are too distracted about their status as leaders to work harder as team players! The findings from that study are neatly summarized in the 50-second video below: [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hJuBlJiVfw[/embed] If top performers get better results as lone superstars, what hope is there for the rest of us? Why We're So Terrible at Teamwork In an eye-opening interview with the Harvard Business Review, leading organizational psychologist J. Richard Hackman shares why teams don't just naturally work: I have no question that when you have a team, the possibility exists that it will generate magic... But don’t count on it. Research consistently shows that teams underperform, despite all the extra resources they have. He goes on to state that there are multiple problems that erode whatever benefits there are in collaboration, sometimes negating all the positives. On one hand, teams have many advantages: They share more (and have a greater diversity of) resources than they would have had individually They have more flexibility in deploying their resources (i.e. If someone gets sick, a team can organize to fill in the gap.) They have many opportunities for collective learning (i.e. More often than not we learn via social interactions. And collaborating on every shared task presents an opportunity to learn.) They have the potential for synergy — that moment when things just work, and teamwork produces magic. And yet, in study after study, the actual performance of teams is often worse than if individuals worked alone. Why? In a talk that Hackman gave to the MIT Media Lab in 2005, he suggests that there are really only two major reasons for the failure of teams: 1. Teams are often used for work that is better done by individuals When you get a group to do the kind of creative task better suited to an individual, you're basically setting them up to fail via decision-by-committee. Think about creative output such as plays, operas, novels. While it's certainly possible to build them via a group, they are more commonly (and efficiently) created solo. 2. Teams are often structured and led in ways that stifle their potential This, by and large, is the difficulty of corporate life — that instead of enabling the conditions for a team to thrive, structures are in place that stifle team productivity and collaborative effort. Be it red tape, weak leadership, unnecessary competition, discouragement, or interpersonal conflicts, these things all decrease the likelihood that a team can perform in a productive way. So how do we get rid of those stifling structures and free our teams to work better together? Hackman suggests you create the proper conditions so that your team can function optimally and those conditions are in his Five Factor Model. Hackman's Model: 5 Conditions for Teamwork to Thrive In 2002, J. Richard Hackman published a book entitled Leading Teams: Setting the Stage for Great Performances. Hackman and his colleagues studied analytic teams in US intelligence agencies, symphony and chamber orchestras, hospital patient care teams, management groups, flight deck crews, and various other groups in order to identify three main attributes that all successful groups possess, namely: They satisfy internal and external clients They develop capabilities to perform in the future The members find meaning and satisfaction within the group His research then led him to identify five necessary conditions — the ingredients, if you will —that result in these three attributes appearing in a team. He called this his Five Factor Model. These five factors increase the probability of team effectiveness, eventually growing the team's capabilities as the conditions continue. The five factors are: 1. Being a real team -- not just a team in name Effective teams clearly delineate who is part of the team. Their membership is at least moderately stable. Plus, they have shared tasks. 2. Having a compelling direction that everyone strives toward Objectives are clarified, challenging, and consequential enough to get team members motivated to work together. Time for some SMART goals! 3. Having an enabling structure that optimizes teamwork The team's structure — the internal way it organizes and works — has to enable teamwork and not impede it. If, for example, only one person approves the work of 20 people, then that bottleneck won't enable the team to be effective. 4. Having a supportive context within the organization In order for the team to do their work effectively, they must receive these things from the parent organization: Material resources are sufficient and available Rewards based on team performance Easy access to information necessary for their work Training and technical consults are available to the team 5. Having expert coaching and guidance Effective teams have access to a mentor or a coach who can help them with questions and challenges pertaining to their work or individual skills. In a study by Ruth Wageman, the research showed that those teams set up correctly can benefit more from good coaching. The chart below shows how little benefit coaching gives a team who is poorly set up for success. Ready to Equip Your Team? The long and short of it is this: if you can fulfill these five basic conditions then your organization can create and maintain effective teams and you give them a more complete chance to develop into a productive unit. Teamwork is something we grow up trying to perfect. Whether it's out on the soccer field, within a household, or in a corporate conference room, it's important to acknowledge that teamwork doesn't naturally occur unless you've got the above conditions. A good team paves the way for success, enables collaboration, receives outside support, and appoints the proper leadership. With these five conditions for success: Together, Everyone Achieves More. And Speaking of More... Hackman isn't the only one to theorize on what makes teams effective. Read about 5 more models of team effectiveness in this blog post and discover collaboration tools for remote teams: 6 Different Team Effectiveness Models to Understand Your Team Better

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