How to motivate your team to produce good work, even during a global pandemic

We all know what it’s like to dig deep on a Monday morning, trying to find the smallest bit of motivation to get out of bed and dress for work. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, it sort of threw the world into a permanent “Monday morning” situation. Along with the increased levels of stress and anxiety it brought to agencies and businesses all over the globe, came an adjustment to remote working and a struggle amongst employees to find motivation to be innovative and creative. 

Research conducted in partnership with Microsoft and the Boston Consulting Group, involving 9,000 managers and employees from firms across 15 European countries, revealed that, “It’s a challenge to feel connected, confident and communicate effectively with the team, and we know from a lot of research that creativity and innovation largely happen through collaboration.” A healthy team culture is achieved when employees feel motivated to be creative and productive. 

But, how do you implement this type of work environment when employees are unable to get together in the office for a good, old-fashioned creative brainstorming session?

Fortunately there are a number of effective strategies you can implement within your teams now to ensure you can harness that collaborative mentality, and motivate your team to produce creative work, at a distance. 

Ensure an effective briefing process

According to Denise Blasevick, CEO of The S3 Agency, providing a clear creative brief, a day or two before an online brainstorming sessions, is key because it “allows people to digest the information, do research, and come armed with questions along with any potential thought starters that can start the brainstorm out with a burst of energy.”

Download a helpful Creative Brief Checklist

Use virtual whiteboards for collaboration

Traditional brainstorming whiteboards are found to actually limit creativity because often one individual is responsible for recording all thoughts, whereas virtual whiteboards allow everyone to contribute, show and record their ideas. Visual collaboration in a virtual space also means you can loop in other team members who may work in different country offices. You could even use this process to encourage healthy competition, circling the “winning ideas” on the virtual whiteboard and challenging your team to suggest better ideas.

Here are a few virtual whiteboards we recommend checking out: 

Source: https://www.innovationtraining.org/what-is-mural-and-how-to-use-mural-for-design-thinking/

Encourage individual work 

Grace Judson, a leadership consultant, advises that you provide your team with limited solo brainstorming time, using a ripple effect: The first team member starts and is given 5 minutes to write out their ideas. Once they are done, the second team member goes, either coming up with new ideas, or using the ideas of the previous team member as inspiration, still on the 5-minute clock. This continues until all team members have contributed and then the results are up for discussion. 

Equip your team with a helpful brainstorming activity sheet

For many, the best way to tackle those Monday morning blues is to grab hold of a big cup of coffee. And for us, giving our team tools to help get their creative juices flowing while working from home, is the equivalent to a shot of espresso. 

Which is why we’ve developed a free, downloadable, Idea Generation Workbook that you can share with your team today – either for them to complete alone or for you to work through it with them. 

This sheet offers a few out-of-the-box ideas for brainstorming effectively, as well as formal processes they can follow to keep them focused and motivated. Before long, your team will be producing such good work, and solving every problem thrown at them, you will have forgotten remote working was ever a struggle in the first place. 

Ready to see your team’s innovative thinking thrive? Get your free Idea Generation Workbook by completing the below form.

 

Why spend most of your budget on recruitment systems and processes when you can get an effective and streamline recruitment system to do the work for you for only R65k per year*

 Online Recruitment helps your company to

  • Source Qualified Talent
  • Streamline the Overall Recruiting Process
  • Increase Recruiter Productivity
  • Track Hiring Milestones
  • Enhance Onboarding

Go beyond traditional recruiting tools and widgets

  • Seamlessly share requisitions through social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn
  • Provide the option of Mobile Apply to job seekers
  • Utilize dashboard widgets to streamline your
    processes
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    Branded Career Portals
  •  Utilize single sign-on with our comprehensive API

Request info below

 

Project Information Management. Access critical firm-wide and document information in one central location

It’s a competitive world out there and whether you’re a lawyer, architect, engineer or contractor, the need to organize your emails and documents is critical. Organized information saves you time, and saving time saves money.

 

1. Are your emails overflowing?

People spend nearly 2-3 hours a day on email-related activities, consuming 20-30% of their business day. Firms with document information management systems spend minutes, not hours, with email.

2. Can you find your firms critical documents?

6 in 10 firms rely on network folders to manage projects, but face inconsistent file structures, accidental deletion, drag-and-drop displacement hindering productivity and negatively impacting utilization. Firms can proactively manage documents through the entire legal lifecycle instead of waiting until the matter is complete to start organizing files.

 3. How quickly can you find critical documents?

Firms can spend hours, if not days, tracking down critical project information, wasting valuable resources and critical project time. With project information management, firms can find drawings or documents completed yesterday, last week or last year in a matter of minutes.

 

4. Do your teams struggle to share & manage files internally & externally?

Only 9% of firms have a single enterprise-wide collaboration system. Yet, 75% believe sharing documents is the most important way to improve collaboration. 

 

 5. Is your firm’s information a liability or an asset?

The average cost of a single misplaced file is more than R1000. Think of that times the number of files in just a single project. An effective document management strategy could reduce cost by 30% and lower risk by 23%.

 

Register below to Enquire more information

By Jerry Lee

To adapt or to customize your ERP? This decision requires prudence when implementing an ERP system.

Often, business problems are tackled with a customization rather than evaluating if the business process can be adjusted to work within the base system design of the ERP. Businesses also often start applying customizations without fully understand any implications that may have an impact in the long run. There are times where custom functionality is needed and customization is great to get “what you want”, but what’s the catch? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons:

PROs:

  • It resolves specific required functionality not native to the ERP system. Even so, there’s more than one way to skin a cat, why customization?
  • We are living in a customizable world, in the era of new technologies allowing users to customize and personalize their own applications. Been accustomed to this flexibility, it becomes difficult for people to adjust.
  • Protect competitive advantages that have made organizations successful. This is what makes the organization unique from its competitors. Because it is unique, no ERP software is able to provide as an out-of-the-box functionality.

 

CONS:

  • Upgrades becomes more complex, costly, and risky because a special upgrade path will be necessary.
  • Help desks typically does not support customizations, this is because they do not have the knowledge of the customization.
  • Potential interference or incompatibility with future implemented modules if the customization is poorly designed.
  • Outdated (or zero) documentation is very common for customizations often due to delivery pressures.
  • Having to do your own testing extensively for every affected module in the ERP system, because you are the only one with this unique requirement.
  • The risk of customizing for the wrong reason. For every customization that has been identified, we need to ask if the customization is really necessary. It can be a possibility that the customization is required because the people does not want to adopt new business processes and software functionality. This could suggest that the organization should invest in change management to help people adapt to new ways of doing things rather than investing in customizations.

 

Customizations can be inevitable in organizations, the key is to understand the implications and find the right balance. And most importantly keep it simple because “Simplicity is a competitive advantage”!

 

Take Away: Applying Industry Best Practise

As feasibility allows, make efforts to implement the customization outside the ERP system. The customization can be either an interactive interface or a batch process as a standalone. This approach can be to your advantage over customizing your ERP in the long term. Having a standalone may mean not having a seamless interface but you need to consider the key advantages for adapting to your ERP:

 

  • Easier upgrade path allowing you to take advantage of the standard software upgrade releases with minimal upgrade effort.
  • Less time and costly to upgrade by eliminating custom functionality troubleshooting and debugging efforts.
  • Access to support documentation and knowledge-base because you are not the only one with the knowledge of the system’s functionality, information will be widely available.

Want to know more on ERP implementation? Download our ERP for dummies eBook below:

 

Discover how transparency provided by ERP software can increase resource utilisation and profitability.

 

Focusing on your project lifecycle as a whole is one of the best ways for Professional Services companies to optimise efficiency and hence profit margin. Resource utilisation, time from proposal to completion and time from completion to payment are three key aspects of a project lifecycle which can maximise profitability if carefully managed.

Our slideshow explores how, by concentrating on these three aspects of your service delivery, you can ensure that you have the right people working on the right projects and, most importantly, the cash keeps on flowing. Read on to discover how ERP software can give you the right information, in real time, to ensure better project management and margin control.

 

 

 

 

Recruiting and retaining talented staff is key to business success, but can be seen as a short-term distraction rather than long-term necessity.

The oil industry knows better than most the importance of operational efficiency as it struggles to manage the impact of a ten-year low in crude oil prices. It is a sector with executive boards that know the importance of investing in new blood to help grow the talent pools required to plug skills gaps being created by increasing numbers of employees approaching retirement. But not all sectors face such desperate measures.

In fact, the drive for operational efficiency, or future survival as in the case of many oil companies, need not be at the price of talent. However, many executive directors fail to engage in the talent management debate, let alone agree with this conjecture. Christopher Johnson, European and Pacific region business leader for talent at Mercer, believes that part of the cause of many executive directors’ disengagement in the talent debate is because of a failure by their management to explain the skills required to help grow the business.

This, he suggests, is due to the difficulty involved in presenting a clear story about the underlying employee issues at play around, for example, career development, gender and age diversity, and succession planning. “Where boards are failing is in recognising in the broader workforce those huge talent issues they should be facing up to,” he says. “For example, the ageing workforce is a big issue, and some organisations aren’t thinking beyond this to the fact that they’re getting a more complex workforce with a broader age range and employees staying on in work.” But how does management present to a board member a simple dashboard of data?

Human resource functions can prove instrumental in engaging executive board members in the talent management debate, persuading them of the importance of prioritising talent and, crucially, helping them to view it as a long-term investment rather than a short-term cost.

But this requires good-quality analysis of workforce demographics by human resource staff equipped with the appropriate analytical skill sets. “It’s about them providing good-quality and clean data, presented quickly in a way that allows boards to have confidence that things in the business are fine or to recognise that things need to change,” says Mr Johnson.

‘The credibility of the human resource function is the first major barrier businesses must overcome to enable talent management to become a future boardroom agenda item of importance.’

Uninterested and unengaged executives can equate to uninterested and unengaged employees. Employers may suffer employee presenteeism, whereby staff attend work but are unproductive while there. Worse still, errors may be made, which could result in dissatisfied customers and even workplace accidents, with unfortunate injuries to employees, creating unnecessary costs for employers through lost business, sickness absence, medical bills and, potentially, litigation. Peter Reilly, principal associate at the Institute for Employment Studies, says: “Errors will vary from industry to industry, but truly disengaged and disaffected staff can do enormous damage to organisations.”

This is particularly the case when talented employees leave their organisation to join a competitor. Professor Maury Peiperl, director of Cranfield School of Management, believes the latter could prove a key catalyst for change in executives’ interest and engagement in the talent management debate. “The biggest catalyst for change would be organisations’ competition coming from small startups, from outside their usual frame of competitors, and executives starting to recognise there is no permanence in size,” he says. But Professor Peiperl also acknowledges the challenges present for executive boards across all industry sectors. “We’re increasingly looking at a workforce where people expect to be paid attention, rewarded and developed or they just aren’t interested,” he says. “At the same time, organisations have to stay in business and spend what little money they have staying afloat, so there’s a perennial tug of war between short-term and longterm issues.

This is why many human resource teams face an uphill battle in getting talent management on to their board agenda, particularly when it appears they deem the issue more important than most. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s latest HR Outlook Report, which polls organisations about their current and future business priorities, reveals that human resource staff are more concerned with talent management than non-human resource leaders, who are more preoccupied with increasing customer focus. The report also reveals that 76 per cent of human resource leaders agree that their current people strategy will help their organisation achieve its future priorities, compared with just 26 per cent of other business leaders.

So, perhaps the credibility of the human resource function is the first major barrier businesses must overcome to enable talent management to become a future boardroom agenda item of importance. This is likely to happen with the ever-changing nature of the human resource function, which is slowly evolving to become more commercial and strategic in its outlook. But executives also need to wake up to the fact that growth in market share will remain out of reach as long as they fail to implement and invest in a robust talent management programme, which engages and develops staff, enabling them to move the organisation forward.

Download below the Deltek Human Resources Clarity Report to know more

When you hear the words “people are our greatest assets” it’s because nowadays they really are. Thankfully, in today’s competitive landscape, business leaders increasingly understand that organisational success has less to do with the things they make and much more to do with the people they have, and the strength of the relationships they are able to develop with clients. In no industry is this more pronounced than professional services where people and expertise are the values on offer.

But talent management – the process for making sure these well meant words are actually day-today reality – is so much more than simply recruiting the right people, retaining them, and giving them the skills and experience to succeed. These elements are critical, but we believe it’s how this is ingrained within all corners of the business that really matters.

Talent management can’t just live as a concept within the human resources department; it needs to be fully aligned to the operations and day-to-day service delivery in order for a firm and its people to prosper. For talent to truly feel engaged and listened to, there needs to be two-way conversations about what they want, where they’re deployed and how they can go to the next level. Not only must these conversations happen, they must be founded on data and so ingrained into a company’s culture it should no longer be something only HR does. So why doesn’t this always happen?

Talent management programmes can sometimes be knee-jerk. Programmes can be introduced because firms identify, say, a retention problem and think that a talent initiative will remedy it without fully appreciating how to unite it within their culture and operations. But a notional idea that talent must be the focus is only half the answer. Think about this: has the business really looked at why staff might be leaving? Maybe they’re simply not recruiting the right people. Maybe line managers are not diverting the right people into the right roles.

Maybe there are too few or too many badly timed conversations about upcoming opportunities within the project pipeline. Maybe highly skilled people are being assigned to low skilled projects. Maybe people don’t know where and what they will be working on one day to the next. It’s only when all parts of the organisation start asking these sorts of questions that silo mentalities are finally broken down. The antidote to this is talent management that takes the holistic view; talent management that is data-led and where the activities of people can be linked so they are bound up with the operational strategy of the business.

To apply a sporting analogy, think of this approach of using data to align operational and people goals as applying Opta Stats to your firm. But it is not about the metres run, number of assists or goals scored; it’s about projects completed, margins achieved, utilisation and client retention rates. Think
about what this intelligence can mean to the individual, team and organisation in terms of performance and development.

‘Talent management can’t just live as a concept within the human resources department; it needs to be fully aligned to the operations and day-today service delivery in order for a firm and its people to prosper’.

With margins under pressure, clients demanding more and competitors ready to pounce, the professional services industry needs to stay at the forefront of this transformation. Research from IDC shows that firms without a human capital management or talent programme see a dramatic decline in staff utilisation, project winrates and revenues. This reinforces that operational goals can’t be achieved without investment in your people and their development. To achieve this, talent needs to be championed right from the very top.

Evidence shows most employees want a say in how they can satisfy themselves as individuals, as well as the needs of the organisation. It’s
often assumed talent is peripatetic, always ready to up sticks and leave,
but actually employees mainly want to feel engaged. Staff today expect more dialogue about how their careers are going; they need to be given this reassurance. The once-a-year appraisal will soon be a thing of the past and already firms like Deloitte, and indeed Deltek, are dropping it in favour of more regular feedback discussions.

There’s no reason staff have to leave if organisations can align the wants and needs of both staff and the business. Employees and line managers simply need to be open with each other. When they are, we find both parties tend to
feel part of, and take ownership of, their own trajectories.

So what are the remaining barriers? It’s often said the way businesses have to organise themselves means true collaboration is difficult. But we disagree. Business structure is not a constraint in itself. Managers simply need to be able to uncover the right insights. When stakeholders receive the insight they need, they can act and make critical decisions.

‘Talent management is much less about organisational complexity, and much more about measuring key performance indicators, and then putting these into the context of your recruitment, retention and career development strategies’.

It’s clear talent is very much the issue of our time. While finding talent may not be any more important than it ever was, what is different is there is a shortage of good talent. What firms need to realise is that this good talent is often already within their ranks; it just needs to be developed to align to the future of the business and client needs.

People want purpose from their work; they want to know that what they are doing is adding value to their organisation. And they also want to know that in
doing so they are meeting their own personal needs for advancement and skills development. When organisations have strong alignment between their talent plans and their business operations, then they really do have the foundation to be best in class. A recent IDC survey found hiring and retaining talent was firms’ second-biggest priority at the moment. Yet, at the same time, IDC also found 60 per cent of organisations didn’t yet have a talent management system.

Organisations cannot have a coherent talent strategy without the systems and culture to facilitate it. And remember, systems aren’t just about IT. They help bring fact to the sometimes awkward conversations that managers need to have about talent. When people are mentally on board, you’ll soon see they’re physically on board too.

To know more, download the HR Clarity Report

During the last year, Swedish companies have been introducing the six hour working day and one company in the UK has decided to take the same approach – spurred on by a challenge from BBC’s The One Show.

The six hour working day concept is designed to increase productivity and give employees a better work life balance. There has been a lot of noise around how this will work (if indeed it will!) which has had many in the UK questioning whether the country will follow in Sweden’s footsteps and if in fact, it is possible to get more done in a shorter period of time.

Read the whole article here

To Download the Retaining your Top Talent Ebook, complete the form below

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) will vary from business to business and industry to industry. The metrics that matter to a Manufacturing business will not necessarily matter to an Accounting practice. When determining KPIs for your business, it’s important to assess your core activity and understand what you need to measure in order to measure your business value over time.

For project-based, Professional Services firms there are certain KPI’s which are essential to measure. These KPIs will likely be the same across Architecture, Consulting, Engineering and Legal Firms.

In a study by IDC – Managing your firm for growth – Professional Services firms were asked to identify the KPIs that matter most to their business and the results clearly show the top 10 KPIs which all Professional Services firms should measure. In this blog, Deltek specifically looks at the four metrics that every CFO or Finance Director needs to know and how to measure them. Namely Revenue Growth, Days Sales Outstanding (DSO), Customer Lifetime Value and Market Share.

Read the rest of this article HERE.

If you want to find out more about KPIs for Professional Services Firms you can download our Ultimate Guide to KPIs for a Project Based Business Below.

According to a survey by CIPD, a third of businesses don’t measure their productivity. Many of those that do measure it appear in practice to be thinking about business performance more generally.

What is productivity?

Productivity is the work generated by companies and their employees with the resources they have.

It is thought that, in the UK, productivity has been at a standstill for seven years due to companies not investing in their employees and required resources.

Improve your productivity

To learn more about the 5 tips to improve your productivity and become more efficient at work, click here.