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August 23, 2013 / Envision Progress

10 Easy Steps to Create Team Efficiency

WorkflowHow do you create efficiency in your team? One of many great ways to create team efficiency is to standardize the team’s workflow. You can follow the below ten steps to standardize workflows on your team. The most difficult part is getting the entire team to change and start using the improved process.

Standardize Workflows

A great way to create team efficiency is to standardize your team’s workflow.  The following steps will help guide you through the process.

  1. Identify a process that has a high degree of variance for each team member to complete
  2. Have a group of team members write out each task of the process onto a flow chart
  3. Identify the different steps each team member takes for each process
  4. Add estimated time taken for each task
  5. Classify if there are any unnecessary steps being taken in the process and cut them out
  6. Look for key person dependencies in the process that may slow it down (People bottlenecks)
  7. Find system dependencies in the process that may slow it down (system bottlenecks)
  8. Uncover potential steps in the workflow that could save time (bypass, not always a necessary step, move the step to later or earlier in the process)
  9. Edit the flowchart with only the required steps to start and complete the process
  10. Retrain your team on the new workflow and track your progress through production and efficiency savings (this will be the most difficult step)

From a quality perspective, this is a good starting point to create a baseline to gauge quality and ensure they are following the new process correctly.

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August 21, 2013 / Envision Progress

3 Quick Communication & Training Tips to Improve your Team

Training and developmentAs a team manager or business owner it can be difficult to find time to formally train your team. However, without effective communication and training it can be detrimental to the growth of your team or business. It doesn’t have to be as difficult as it seems. The 3 quick training tips below are a great way to get you started down the right path towards improving team communication and training your team.

Daily 15 minute team updates

Effective communication is essential in developing your team. A simple way to make sure you’re communicating adequately with your team is to schedule daily 15 minute meetings. You can use that time to provide company updates, short training sessions, collect team feedback, etc… All it takes is setting up a daily reminder on your team’s calendar. If your hesitation is providing content for the meeting, you can always delegate that out to your team.

Informative One page documents

Content should be short and sweet… A great way to cover one topic is to write a short one page document.  It should provide enough detail to learn about the topic but not too much or it will lead to boredom. The reader should hopefully gain up to 3 main ideas from the one page document. (Similar to a blog) This is another opportunity for you to delegate this out to your team. Overtime, you will have put together a thorough amount of information that you can utilize for new hire training.

Pop quiz

Pop Quiz! There are not a lot of people that like pop quizzes however, it is an easy way to keep your team on their toes and keep tabs on their knowledge base.  Whether you send out a quiz with detailed questions or a story problem, there are numerous ways to keep your team stimulated. This is a great way to create a continuous learning environment in your team.

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July 22, 2013 / Envision Progress

How often should you do team training?

Staff TrainingHow often should you do training? Whether you manage a team in a large corporation or own a small start-up business, this fundamental question should be on your mind. In my experience the easiest way to think about how often you should train your team is through new hire training and on-going continuing education.  It is critical to the success of your company to invest time and resources to both of these types of training.

New Hire Training

For many companies, the new hire training consists of taking care of the required human resources paperwork such as medical/dental benefits, tax forms, vacation days, 401k etc… However, I feel the real source for new hire training should be through on-the-job training. Ideally on-the-job training should get the new hire started on their team and new role in the company. Depending on how technical the role is, it may take a few days or up to several weeks to get them contributing to the team. This is a critical element to getting your new hires started on the right foot and headed up the learning curve highway. In a great article titled Learning and Training: Statistics and Myths, it points out “organizations that make large investments in people typically have lower employee turnover, which is associated with higher customer satisfaction, which in turn is a driver of profitability.” This starts from day one in their on-the-job new hire training.

On-going Continuing Education (CE)

After your new hire is up and running, you should implement on-going continuous education. In my corporate experience, I have seen a vast majority of this training through online tutorials which are scheduled throughout the year. Although this can be effective, the training is generally broader in nature and doesn’t always apply directly to the employee’s role in the company. Another way to improve CE is by managing it through each team. Team managers can create daily, weekly, or monthly training meetings to discuss new content or existing content. It can be as simple as sending out information via email on a regular basis, getting your team to read a book, article, or watch a TED video. There are so many ways to keep your employees engaged. All it takes is writing out a plan and sticking to it.

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July 16, 2013 / Envision Progress

6 Tips to Create a Strategic Training Plan

Training SessionsWhen is training and communication critical for the success of your team? Whether you’re a small start up or a large corporation, training should hopefully be a part of your long term strategy for success. However, it seems like most managers and leaders are so overwhelmed that they don’t have the time to incorporate a consistent training regimen. To develop a program it will take baby steps, and over time you can create a comprehensive program which includes the following:

Employee on-boarding

Bringing on new hires into your company is critical to your growth and can have a huge impact on your bottom line. How can you make it easier on you and your team?

  1. Create content or have your team bring content together into one place for new hires to read, watch, or listen to
  2. Structure the data in a format which makes it easier for the person to review
  3. Schedule side-by-side trainings with the rest of the team

Continuous education & cross functional training

After your employees have been on the team or in the company for a while, the next big challenge is to keep them learning.

  1. Task them with sending out topics and tips to the entire team with the caveat that they have to answer any and all questions about the information
  2. Have them present in team meetings about topics that are their strengths – this will expand their knowledge and build other skill sets they may not have
  3. Cross train with other teams on new functions – it will create more depth on your team and diversify your company. It also mitigates any key person dependency your team may have.

And to answer the original question; when is training and communication critical for the success of your team? All the time!

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July 12, 2013 / Envision Progress

3 Tips on Hiring the Right Person

HiringOne of the most frightening and rewarding experiences as a manager is hiring. Choosing the right person for your team can seem like a daunting chore, but incorporating these few tips may help you avoid the skin-deep employees (looks great in the interview, but eventually drags your team down) and increase your chances of finding a perfect fit.

Make assumptions for the role you are filling

Every person has a personality that works better in certain roles than in others. Finding the type of person you need, can actually be simple.  For example, in a quota carrying sales role, a competitive person that connects well with people and has thick skin (to handle rejection), usually works out very well.  So dig into the background of your candidate and looks for a history of competition. E.G. athletes, debate team, or anything competition oriented.  You can do this with any position you need to hire for. Take a piece of paper and write out the traits that your previous top performers possess. This will help you create a checklist. Now you can begin to filter your candidates with these new parameters.

Diversify your team’s skill set

When you have similar personalities within your team, you need to balance it out by looking at the strengths and weaknesses your team possesses as a whole. You now can choose a new team member with insight into what gaps they can help fill.

Socially fitting into the team

Okay, okay. You have probably read that you need a diversified team so you don’t create groupthink. I believe hiring similar personalities will promote a tight-knit team that actually enjoys working together while filtering based on strengths and weaknesses that your team needs, will actually bring the conflict needed to battle conformity.

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July 9, 2013 / Envision Progress

How to better use content for training your team

Software for training How to provide content to your team? As a manager of a team, it is always a challenge to find different ways to provide information to your team. Whether it’s for your new hires just joining the team or your seasoned veterans who need continuous education, you should find a few different ways for them to continue to learn and be engaged.  The other challenge is how to actively use and store the data to make it more helpful for your team.

Documents and web-links

If you don’t have a third party company hosting the training on your company’s intranet, then you are probably like other companies who create your own content for training. The most common format is to create documents to share via email to your team or hard copy for team meetings. However, there are other ways to provide data to your team like typing it on a Wiki platform (some people feel this is a little messy and unorganized) or just typing the information in an email which is sure to get lost. I recommend finding an inexpensive platform (shared drive or software) which can help you organize and centralize your training content. This will make it much more useful and available to the team at all times. You should also consider sending your team useful web links to articles and stories about your company, competitors, and the industry.

All types of Videos

There are several different ways to keep your team learning. Using videos should be near the top of the list. Although it can take a lot of time to create videos, they can be used time and time again. Whether you create screen recordings of a specific process or do a webcam of yourself to inspire your team with a personal training video, you should find a way to incorporate these types of visuals. Other easier approaches are to find YouTube or TED videos that will provide great information to your team. The main drawback for using video is storing them.

Assessments and feedback

Another great way to keep your employees on their toes and engaged in the learning process is to have them take assessments and provide feedback. The most common method for this is to use to help create and organize this information. However, there is software available which brings all your content (documents, links, videos, assessments, and feedback) sharing training methods into one place and centralizes your teams learning experience.  For more effective ways to manage your teams development visit

July 2, 2013 / Envision Progress

3 Keys to On-boarding New Employees

onboardingOn-boarding new employees into your team can be one of the most frustrating things for new hires, teams, and managers. It seems like most small and large companies do not have an effective way of doing this. It’s all trial by fire! Diving in headfirst! By not having a training program in place, it can have a lot of negative downstream impact to your new hires and team’s performance. So what can you do? The below are a few easy steps you can take to create structure and improve the new hire experience.

Create a short flip book with tips of the team

It may seem like a lot of work to create a short flip book of tips and secrets of the team. However, if you create a high level outline and assign it out for your team to do, you’d be amazed how quickly the book can come together. It might also be important to have both a soft copy and hard copy, so as the team evolves so does the flip book.

Schedule side by sides with the teammates

Using calendars can be painful, however there are software programs out there which help make scheduling easier. By scheduling out all of the side by sides with the team, it will allow the new hire to get to know everyone and what they do. It also will help with the learning curve and hopefully getting them producing for the team much sooner. From my experience, I recommend the sessions not be much longer than 2 hours per each team mate per day.

Meet new hire regularly to collect feedback 

As a manager of your team, you should probably set aside at least 30 minutes a day for the first week to make sure the training is coming along. If you feel confident that the training is going well after the first week, you can scale your one-on-one meetings back to once a week until you feel the employee is completely integrated onto the team.  During this time it is also helpful to reach out to the teammates to address any training concerns. The sooner you find a training issue the quicker you can react and hopefully resolve it.

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