Onboarding new team members is typically a very personalised, face-to-face experience. The current shift to remote working, introduced by the pandemic, has however introduced challenges one would not previously have considered. Painting the scene In an ideal world there would be someone to welcome a new team member in person, show them around and explain practicalities like where they’ll be sitting and how the coffee machine works. In the same vein there would be someone to facilitate introductions, indicate where key company and/or project artefacts are stored and maybe even arrange a team lunch to make them feel welcome. These intentional interactions aim to familiarise the new team member with their working environment and lay the foundation for them to carve their own path and build their own personal relationships. Onboarding a team member remotely is very different. The meet and greet is now an introductory email and the welcome lunch becomes virtual greetings that may span across multiple meetings over several days. As these ways of working are still new to most, for new team members who need to be onboarded virtually, it can feel a bit unsettling. The following 3 tips will help to reduce new starter anxiety and ensure a smoother transition into reaching their full productive capacity: Facilitate virtual introductions to connect team members Introducing new team members to the team is an important part of creating an environment where new starters feel comfortable and motivated to contribute. It is difficult to create that “water cooler experience” virtually and having a thoughtful approach to facilitating virtual team introductions will go a long way toward improved team morale. To immerse new team members into their new working environment, consider setting up various channels to connect the team. Introductions can be done formally or informally, facilitated in groups, one-on-one or a combination of these formats. Also consider scheduling weekly virtual team check-ins with a slot dedicated to introducing new team members. Virtual social events such as lunch and learn sessions or team quizzes also give new starters the opportunity to get to know their colleagues in an unpressured, informal setting. Ensure project artefacts and information are readily available To ensure that the new starter can easily find their way around your virtual landscape to track down key documents and information, be sure to have a virtual onboarding info pack or “cheat sheet” available. The pack should include information about where all project and other documentation is stored, who to contact if they have any specific questions, a team organogram with each person’s role and contact details and some ways of working ground rules, like what tools the team uses to collaborate. Tools such as SharePoint and MS Teams are great for storing, organising and sharing project files. When compiling your list of key artefacts, also include details regarding the document owner and purpose. A project wiki which outlines a project’s history, milestones and timelines is also helpful to get new team members up to speed quickly and easily. The general rule here is: the more information you can provide, the better but keep it simple, clear, and focused on the reader. Empower new team members with the right tools for the job Each team has a specific set of software tools that are used to support communication and collaboration. It is therefore important to equip your new starter with “how to” guides to these tools as well as a virtual buddy system to help them get comfortable with the team’s work dynamics. MS Teams, Slack, Jira and Trello are all examples of common software tools used by teams to stay on top of their work items and share progress with their team members, but the way in which these tools are used typically differs from company to company. So even if your new starter has experience with using your selected tools, bear in mind that they will still need guidance around how it is used within your organisation’s specific context. A final thought Onboarding new team members virtually takes intentional consideration and careful planning. Applying the tips above will go a long way in ensuring that your new team members feel adequately equipped to not only tackle the job at hand, but to thrive in their new role. If you have any ideas on topics you’d like us to cover on this blog, please leave a comment below. We’d love to hear your thoughts on what information would add the most value to your business during this challenging time.
The arrival of COVID-19 has introduced social distancing and remote working as the new normal. Business as usual approaches are being disrupted, re-evaluated, and modified. Companies that have been resistant to a work from home policy have been forced to move to a virtual environment. Organisations that were once slow to market have mobilised themselves to expand their digital offerings and strategies. Amidst the disruption it is critical for organisations to question the status quo and establish improved and sustainable ways of working. As we navigate this fast-paced transition period, organisations need to interrogate their existing decision-making structures, knowledge sharing capabilities and communication channels in order to identify potential inefficiencies and areas of improvements. Re-evaluating decision-making structures Organisations should question whether their current decision-making structures support informed and swift decision making. The pandemic has forced many companies to make difficult decisions relating to employee safety, business strategy and customer engagement, with the number and gravity of decisions increasing exponentially. It is important, therefore, to take a critical look at all current decision-making structures in order to identify those that need to be streamlined or changed. Companies should identify which decisions are most critical and then categorise them in order to understand where in the organisation those decisions should be made. Previous approaches which limited decision-making authority only to the very top level of management no longer enable leaders at various levels to respond urgently to pressing issues during the crisis. Now is the time to empower more stakeholders in the decision-making process. To encourage new ways of problem solving, some companies have created a forum for rapid debate. It is an opportunity for individuals from across the business to participate and share their perspectives. In this way, more viewpoints can be considered before any decision is taken. Coordinate knowledge sharing While organisations respond and adapt to the challenges of the pandemic, consideration for how knowledge is coordinated within the business becomes pivotal. As companies that used to be co-located move towards virtual environments and teams, clarity on how knowledge is stored, shared, and leveraged must be established. Internal processes and procedures need to be documented, digitised and accessible to all employees. What information should be digitised is an important question to ask. If the decision is made without careful consideration, the information may be incomplete, incorrect, or irrelevant. Companies should identify critical operational, product and customer service knowledge to be documented and digitised in order to support business continuity. Technology also becomes an important factor to consider. Organisations have started to leverage document sharing software like MS Teams, Google Docs and DropBox to share knowledge. Finding the right tool will depend on your specific needs, but the important thing to remember is that it should promote fast and easy knowledge sharing to support the ever-changing environment that the pandemic has created. Effective and frequent communication As the workforce has become distributed and remotely connected with little human interaction, effective and frequent communication is more important than ever before. Organisations have the responsibility to put their employees’ minds at ease, provide hope for the future and to bring clarity to the crisis. The level of information that is communicated during this crisis is therefore very important. The change that the pandemic has brought has likely unsettled your employees and therefore these changes should be communicated with a level of empathy to minimise anxiety. Scheduling team huddles via videoconferencing tools such as Zoom, Google Meet and Skype enables management to deliver difficult messages with empathy and compassion. We’ve also seen how companies have shared important COVID-19 messages through FAQ guides, newsletters and internal systems such as the company intranet. Delivering the right information to the right people in a timely manner is key. Therefore, consider ramping up your business communications by providing weekly or even daily updates where possible. The impact of COVID-19 across the world is unprecedented and may be felt for years to come. Tried and tested business approaches may be too slow to keep up with the current pace of change. There is no better time for organisations to reassess their current approaches to ensure maximum business value. If you have any ideas on topics you’d like us to cover on this blog, please leave a comment below. We’d love to hear your thoughts on what information would add the most value to your business during this challenging time.
As Covid-19 continues to spread across the globe we’ve seen how many companies have had to act quickly by launching crisis management plans and transitioning to a virtual workplace almost overnight. But in times of crisis, like the one we find ourselves in today, what is it that gives some companies the ability to adapt quickly to ensure their survival? The answer: Business Agility Defined as the ability to rapidly respond to change, be it adapting products and services to changing customer needs or adjusting to changes within the business operating environment, it’s the “X factor” that sets a company apart from their competitors. And while some companies are generally more agile than others, we’ve seen how the covid-19 pandemic has required even greater agility than ever before. Research has shown that companies who are typically more agile place a high importance on: Customer-centricity – i.e. Having an in-depth understanding of your customers’ needs & ensuring that these are top of mind in everything you do.Cross-functional team dynamics – i.e. Building strong interrelationships between various teams across various functions to promote collective problem solving and task execution. But further to this, other considerations that promote business agility are: Understanding your employee needsThe health & safety of your employees go hand in hand with your ability to continue any form of business operations. We’ve already seen how companies have relooked at their office policies to support social distancing to minimise the risk of covid-19 infection, and how work-from-home policies and employee support are now receiving a lot of attention. Now more than ever, employee flexibility is key, both flexibility in how people can get the job done as well as flexibility around company expectations, rules and regulations. Focusing on emotional agilityDifferent people process stressful scenarios in different ways. Some will easily be able to keep a positive outlook, while others will be overcome with fear and uncertainty. As an organisation, your role is to provide as much emotional stability at possible. This is achieved by focusing your energy on drafting action plans, stimulating idea generation, and providing communication channels to not only share updates and information with your customers and employees but also to give them the opportunity to engage, share their fears and gain access to advice and emotional support. Promoting a culture of innovation & failing fastCompanies are facing some really tough questions right now: How can we reorganise ourselves to continue day-to-day operations? How do we keep doing what we’re doing in a world that’s likely never going to be the same again? What other opportunities are there to keep meeting our customers’ needs? Companies who promote innovation and are quick to try new things already have a leg up. This is because they’re used to having to think outside of the box. They also understand that ideas don’t always work and that this is OK. Crisis situations require lots of new ideas and tons of bravery. It’s the only way to establish your company’s “new normal”, whatever that may look like. If you have any ideas on topics you’d like us to cover on this blog, please leave a comment below. We may not be able to control what’s happening in the world right now, but we can continue to share knowledge and ideas to help each other through this challenging time.
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In recent years blockchain technology has been emerging as one of the most disruptive technologies that add value to business. In simple terms, Don and Alex Tapscott, authors of Blockchain Revolution (2016) describe blockchain technology as “an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value”.
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In today’s project world, you’re either waterfall or agile. Never both. Never something in between. But why has it become such a big waterfall vs agile debate? And do we fully understand the two extremes these two methodologies present?Over the past few years, waterfall as a project methodology has definitely taken a back seat in favour of the new, cool kid on the block – agile. Throwing around…