As Labor Day dawns, empower your team to achieve more

Labor Day
The first Monday in September marks Labor Day – an annual tribute to the success and contributions of American workers. For businesses large and small, the coming of Labor Day represents a clear opportunity to celebrate achievements, re-energize teams and reinforce the promise of an even greater future.

Why not show your appreciation for your team this Labor Day by empowering them to be and achieve more? Spread a mood of optimism and provide ample opportunities for teammates to grow so that everyone can find satisfaction in their work, while at the same time helping to meet the organization’s goals. Here are 3 clever ways to empower your team for success.

1. Help people build their strengths

Assigned Tasks

Aim to designate and delegate tasks with the strengths of your team in mind. Research by Gallup indicates that workers who have the chance to use their strengths every day (rather than focusing on their weaknesses) are 6 times more likely to be engaged in their jobs and 8% more productive. When you design your teammates’ work around their strengths, you enrich their jobs in ways that help them feel good and want to perform better. Try and ‘work in’ people’s strengths by involving them in interdepartmental teams or giving them extra assignments they’ll enjoy. Be careful not to just dump any old chore on a colleague or bury them in meaningless errands because you know they can handle it. Delegate important responsibilities and visible projects, ones where team members can get recognition and satisfaction as well as build their skill sets.  When handing over duties, ask yourself, “Is this task an opportunity for someone to develop their strengths in…?” DropTask supports strengths-based work allocation among team members, helping you clearly define responsibilities for the workers most suited to a task. Be explicit about timings and expectations, and supply any other useful information or resources using notes or attachments. Then simply drag and drop a co-worker’s profile onto a task and let them drive it forward. For added guidance and motivation, you can set the Importance (with a red flag) and Effort (small, medium or large) of tasks too.

2. Reveal the bigger picture

Task Dependencies

Engaging your teammates to work on their strengths is one part of the equation, but if you want to inspire people to even greater heights, then you need to unveil the big picture. Show your colleagues how they contribute to the bigger purpose in the work they do and they’ll open up to more opportunities and challenges. As positive psychologist Robert Emmons says, “Seemingly small tasks can have tremendous meaning if they are framed as connecting to something larger.” In DropTask, projects can be shared with an unlimited number of people, so everyone is working from the same page and toward the same major goals. Invite team members to collaborate on your most high-level projects, and let them combine their individual strengths and expertise for an optimized outcome. DropTask’s captivating visual canvas allows everyone to ‘see’ the status of a project clearly and presents a uniquely beautiful way to communicate with others and grab their attention. Kate Harthan, Operations Director at a leading promotional products company, highlights how valuable it is to have all information available at a glance in DropTask: “It is refreshing to have a visual representation of what is going on in the office that all employees are able to edit. It has helped reduce my boss’s time spent managing employee projects, and it has increased our response times and overall success of follow-up with customers.” As an added bonus, the daily summary email sent out automatically by DropTask each morning gives increased visibility on progress and kick-starts motivation, so day by day, your teammates are fired up to raise their game.

3. Share decision making and goal setting

Permissions and visibility

Foster an alliance with your team members by letting them have input into the decisions and goals that affect them. While it’s not practical in all circumstances, you’ll be surprised at how much turning over some of your power will engage the troop. Involve your people in looking at new ways of understanding their tasks and possibilities for moving forward, without poking your nose into every aspect of their decision making. Encourage them to set their own goals and challenges for their work, even if it isn’t required. On the other hand, if a goal is fixed and non-negotiable, allow team members to determine how they’ll get there. Holding people accountable for results creates a deep sense of responsibility and ownership, as well as focus and determination – with minimal pushing from you. Worried about losing control and things getting out of hand? Member permissions can be set in DropTask, giving you full control over what others can see and edit. This ensures the right people always remain accountable and responsibilities aren’t muddied. For instance, you may decide to give someone the ability to only see and edit the tasks that they’ve been assigned to, or merely grant them read-only access. Advanced settings also allow you to prevent members from deleting tasks and groups that they didn’t create, as well as restrict their ability to invite others to your project without your consent. Combined with DropTask’s other project management capabilities, you can empower your team in all the right ways so they fully understand their goals, the tasks they’re assigned to and can make sound decisions on their given responsibilities.

This Labor Day we’re giving you 1 year free when you upgrade to any 2 year plan from as little as just $1.42/month*. Save big and go long with our limited time offer.

Redeem Offer*Price based on 36 months, when paid upfront. Offer ends Sept 23rd.

Individual Work Vs Teamwork

Individual Work Vs Team Work

Knowing when to go it alone, and when to pull together

As Rio plays host to the 2016 Olympic Games, we find sports fever taking hold across the planet. No matter what your favorite sport is – rowing, gymnastics, triathlon, volleyball – you can only marvel at the incredible performances put in by so many talented athletes and teams. At DropTask, this got us thinking about the many parallels between this glorious sporting event and the workplace. Just as in the Olympic Games, today’s businesses have individual and team sports, and it’s always best to play by the rules of each game so you can emerge triumphant as opposed to wallowing in defeat.

So, individual work vs teamwork. The question isn’t “which is better?” as they’re both needed for a well-rounded enterprise, but “which is better for what?” Let’s take a look at the kinds of tasks that call for you to work independently and those that benefit from more of a group effort.

Individual work: when flying solo works best

1. Tasks that need high concentration and focus

1. Tasks that need high concentration and focus

Group work can be a bad move in some contexts because it interrupts focused thought. All the chatter might be fun and liaising with others creates strong bonds, but less work gets done. An intriguing study known as the Coding War Games found that programmers tend to work faster when coding as individuals without distractions. And as a general rule, designers, engineers, writers, and artists do their best work alone. For tasks that require pinpoint accuracy and mental clarity, it’s better to find your own private space to be productive. Author of Brain Rules John Medina reports that people whose work is interrupted take 50% longer to finish a task and make up to 50% more errors. If you need to focus on an intricate job, block out time in your DropTask calendar to tackle it single-handedly. You’ll get it done quicker without outside disruptions messing up your groove or pointless meetings eating up your time and energy. Use DropTask to brief your team so they know when you’re going to be in a focused work session and don’t want to be disturbed – then get cracking with those tasks!

2. Learning new skills

2. Learning new skills

Everyone has their own individual learning styles and preferences, and there’s mounting evidence to show that solitude can help us learn. Psychologist Anders Ericsson famously said that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert at something. According to his research on peak performance, the best way to master a skill is to go directly to the part that’s most challenging for you personally. This usually means going it alone as you isolate the tasks that are just out of your reach and strive to upgrade your performance bit by bit. In his words, “If you want to improve, you have to be the one who generates the move. Imagine a group class – you’re the one generating the move only a small percentage of the time.”

Visuals – such as icons, images, logos, symbols, colors or shapes – play a massive role in our learning. Educational studies have found that up to 75% of the population prefers visual/spatial thinking, and meaningful visuals can ease ‘cognitive load’, improving the overall learning process. DropTask is all about visual task management to support the natural processes of the brain. If you’re on a training course and want to get some serious study done, or looking to lock down a new skill, then take advantage of DropTask to manage your learning from start to finish. Create a project for your skills development and schedule all your study actions by Start Date and Due Date. You’ll have a complete visual presentation of your course which is much easier to comprehend than pages and pages of notes, and reaches more of your senses all at once. With DropTask’s inclusive features, not only can you visually track each learning milestone, you can also store all your study materials in one neat space, making for a clutter-free mind.

Teamwork: when it pays to be part of a group

Brainstorming – generate more, better ideas

1. Brainstorming – generate more, better ideas

Teamwork is a fun, stimulating and useful way to produce tons of ideas, fast. Team discussions offer more scope for creativity in comparison to working solo, especially if they bring together people with diverse backgrounds and experiences. If your group brainstorming sessions always fall a bit flat, then perhaps you haven’t been playing by the rules. For collective idea generation that works, you need to foster a playful environment where people can share their ideas without judgment. Use Alex Osborn’s (the ‘father of brainstorming’) principles as a guideline:

  • Go for quantity: Don’t stop at the first, most obvious idea. Creativity is a numbers game. Aim to extract as many ideas as possible and you might just hit upon a real breakthrough.
  • Seek out crazy ideas: Avoid groupthink by encouraging teams to shoot for insane and exaggerated ideas. The wilder the better. Ideas that seem completely ridiculous or far-fetched on first sight can always be toned down to something more practical later on.
  • Suspend judgment: Postpone any criticism or analysis of ideas until you’ve generated a sufficient number to work with. Snap judgments, whether positive or negative, will destroy the seeds of potential ideas as people fear to speak up in case their suggestions are rejected.
  • Combine and build on ideas: Two bad ideas can combine into a great one. Try snowballing on other people’s ideas to create more robust solutions or merge two radical ideas and see what happens!

Provide team members with a visual platform on which to capture and connect all their ideas, like iMindMap’s brainstorming view. Once you’ve got a pile of options ready, don’t forget the most crucial step – taking action on the best ones. Nothing kills group motivation and creativity faster than new proposals that come to nothing. Use DropTask to get moving on your ideas and secure total buy-in from your colleagues. Invite team members to collaborate on joint projects, and define specific actions and timelines to make things happen. That way, the whole team can share in the moment of victory.

two heads are better than one

2. Problem solving – “two heads are better than one”

Two or more people are always better than one for solving problems. In a team, everyone is unique and can apply different skills and viewpoints to explore a problem from multiple angles. Leave it to one individual, and they’re at risk of becoming overwhelmed and reaching illogical conclusions. Open communication is key for effective team problem solving, but the use of numerous messaging channels such as email, phone and text can be more of a hindrance than a help. Important messages can easily get lost in a wave of back-and-forth emails. Agree upon just one medium to make your team play more manageable. DropTask provides a shared space that makes it easier for each individual to think like a united team when tackling complex problems, rather than acting the lone ranger. People can ask questions, share files and update progress, all in real time. This open environment acts as a great support mechanism for team members during challenging times, as people can look to one another for help and guidance, leading to better decisions. With everyone (including remote colleagues) working from the same page, you can be sure that no one will be left in the dark and that the best solutions will always come to light. After all, a collaborative team is a winning team!

As you can see, a blend of both independence and interdependence is a must for optimal productivity in the workplace, and DropTask supports both. When do you prefer to work alone or in a team? Hit the comments and let us know.

 

Bust The Summer Slump

Summer working

5 Ways to be red-hot productive this summer

It’s August and summer is in full swing, bringing with it warm weather, vacations, BBQs and smiles. But while the temperature and people’s spirits may be rising, chances are your workplace productivity is cooling down.

Like many other businesses, you might be feeling the summer slowdown right now. With hazy days come lazy ways in the office. It’s hot, clients and customers are away, and colleagues are zoning out, dreaming of lying on a beach or sitting in a beer garden somewhere. Add to that the irresistible lure of distractions like Pokémon GO and it’s no wonder projects are coming to a standstill as summer heats up.

According to CNBC, organizations across all industries often report a loss of productivity and ROI during the summer, including household names like Yahoo, Google and Oracle. Other surveys have found that 25% of workers feel less productive during June, July and August than in the rest of the year. And a 2012 Harvard study reports that people make more errors and take longer to complete assigned tasks during sunny days than on rainy days.

That’s not to say that you and your team should write off the summer season because of the productivity slump. Take advantage of the lull to embrace a flexible summer schedule, rejig your priorities, power through the stuff you’ve been putting off, try something new, and set the stage for an active September. Here at DropTask, we’ve put together a few tips to help you bust the slump and stay on track during the summer months, while still enjoying time to kick back (or chase Pokémon!).

Flexible timing

1. Embrace a flexible summer schedule

So, you’re one of the unfortunate few left holding up the fort while your teammates are away. Don’t be glum about it, there are ways that you and your fellow workers can enjoy some of the fun summer has to offer and still get things done at the same time.

The key is to be flexible. Studies demonstrate that teams with modified work schedules (such as half-day Fridays) show increased productivity, growth and engagement in the summer. Ensure expectations are set and be clear on which deadlines won’t budge, but give yourself and your team more options on how work is carried out. Empower colleagues with the ability to adjust their work hours around their most demanding tasks or to work remotely if possible. DropTask is the ultimate teleworking tool, enabling you to share work and collaborate with anyone, no matter where they are. Real-time technology allows for instantaneous updates on tasks, so team members are always on the same page.  Mark Pohlmann, project manager at Hewlett-Packard Enterprise describes how he uses DropTask to manage teams working remotely across various sites around the world.

Manage your time better and keep track of your availability using DropTask’s new built-in Calendar. In a forthcoming update, you’ll soon be able to view each other’s calendars and leave status or progress updates on tasks. Don’t forget to schedule frequent ‘sunshine breaks’ to eat lunch outside, grab an ice cream or take an afternoon walk. The brief mental break and hit of Vitamin D will reduce the pressure and refresh your productivity when you get back to work. A good way to boost morale is to institute Summer Fridays—where people take the afternoon off or leave early on Fridays rather than work a full day. This gives them the chance to beat traffic and get a head start on their weekend, but encourages them to be that extra bit more focused and productive when in the workplace.

DropTask on laptop

2. Rejig your priorities

Summertime presents the perfect opportunity to fine-tune your priorities and stay busy in the right ways. With many workers off on vacation, make use of this quiet time to step back, reflect on work completed, revive your aspirations and set new goals so you can hit the ground running come September. If you’ve constantly got your nose to the grindstone, even at this time of the year, you can easily lose sight of your main ambitions and waste energy on tasks that don’t align with the bigger picture. Instead of getting bogged down in the minor details of your work, do some deep thinking on a grander scale and plan your strategies for moving forward. For instance, aim to take on weightier, more complex projects in the winter months and schedule new products, campaigns or other deliverables for late spring, before winding down for the summer.

DropTask offers flexible planning features so you can figure out both your long-term goals and more immediate, upcoming tasks. On a day-to-day basis, it can help you stay on top of your to-do list and avoid pointless summery distractions. Take a few minutes at the beginning or end of every day to outline and prioritise your tasks according to your biggest goals. We recommend that you tackle your most difficult or high-grade tasks early in the morning, and leave the easier low-grade ones for later in the day. This is doubly important in the summer as productivity can dip dramatically after lunch, so your mornings need to be super productive! Come the afternoon, you can go out and enjoy a bit of sunshine without feeling guilty about what you’ve left behind.

Team working

3. Power through the stuff you’ve been putting off

If you find that the summer season provides a little breathing space, take advantage of an empty office to finish any projects or bitty tasks that you haven’t been able to give your full attention to. Complete any reports, reviews, budgets or updates that have languished behind in favour of more pressing matters. Catch up with your admin, tie up loose ends, organise your desk and zero out your inbox. Focus on accomplishing all your unfinished tasks, rather than simply filling the hours from 9 to 5. You’ll feel great satisfaction every time you ‘pop’ a task bubble on your DropTask dashboard. . When the workplace gets busy and crowded again, you’ll be thankful you made the effort.

Working at a screen

4. Try new things

Summer is ideal for experimenting and switching things up. Now is the time to test new tools or trial new systems you’ve been thinking about implementing, especially if work is starting to feel a little stale lately. For instance, if you’ve been wanting to try out a new productivity app such as DropTask or creative problem solving approach, go ahead and give it a go while the office is relatively peaceful. Play with new features and options so you can figure out what works and what doesn’t for you and your team.

Summer brings an expansive feel to life, so it’s a good time to build new skills and fill out your shoes. If there’s a new subject you want to learn or habit you want to develop, go for it, even if it’s just starting a new fitness regime. The same goes for your team. Give your workers, particularly the young ones, a chance to take on new developmental challenges or wear new hats. Deloitte research shows that millennials don’t just want to spend their time earning a paycheck; they want to invest time acquiring skills and knowledge to grow personally and professionally. What better time of year than the summer to let them do it? Once the autumn leaves start to fall and deadlines loom close, you’ll have a more powerful and skilled team at your disposal.

September preparation

5. Set the stage for September

As well as taking stock of your situation, rearranging your priorities and putting to bed your unfinished tasks, look to ready yourself for the colder seasons with something brand spanking new. Redesign your website or logo, create a backlog of content, or put together a presentation or white paper to establish yourself as an industry leader. While you’re at it, clean up your LinkedIn profile, Facebook page and any other online bios floating around. As the summer draws to a productive close, a fresh new you will be ready to take center stage.

Staying productive in the summer doesn’t have to be a challenge. Use DropTask to help you beat the office doldrums and make summer your season to shine. How do you and your team like to be productive during the summer? Share your thoughts, tips and experiences in the comments below.

 

Coming soon, in DropTask 2

DropTask Collaboration

Over the past year we’ve been working behind the scenes to bring you a brand new version of DropTask – and we’re so excited to share what’s on the horizon.

Complete with a beautiful redesign and a whole host of powerful new features and abilities, DropTask 2 takes things to the next level so you and your team can come together and achieve anything. The visual nature of our brand new Workflow Boards are perfect for agile working methods such as Kanban, and the vertical swimlanes make transitioning through stages within a project a total breeze.

DropTask on iPad

If you’re already a user of DropTask, you’ll know that we love the simplicity that visuals can offer, over a long (and often uninspiring) list of to-dos. So, in DropTask 2 we’ve made way for a cleaner (and clearer) way of working with all-new eye catching icons and a palette bursting with color. In fact, we’ve applied the same concept to our UI, our new Notification Centre, and even the workspace Canvas – so you only see the things that you want and need to see. And as if that wasn’t enough, we’re also excited to introduce the brand new DropTask Calendar.

DropTask Scheduling

Strengthening your ability to plan and organize – which is key for producing those all-important deliverables on time, the new built-in calendar let’s you focus on what you should be working on today, and what’s due in the future. We know the nature of unexpected interruptions and the impact they can have on your day too, so we’re making sure that you can easily reschedule if your priorities need to change.

DropTask 2 is shaping up to be really special and this is just a teaser of what’s to come. To learn more, we’d like to invite you to participate in our beta program where you can contribute towards development testing and get early access before the official release. To take part, simply drop us an email at support@droptask.com and we’ll see what we can do.

New to DropTask? Learn more about the benefits by signing up for a free account today.

Improving business processes & increasing effectiveness by 80% with DropTask

The Vestack Group of companies deliver a broad range of services and each company has their own goals, hierarchies and communication channels. With Group wide goals and provisions also in place, CEO Shaun Kennard, was in need of a solution to coordinate the multitude of activities.

Shaun Kennard - CEO, Vestack Group“As CEO, I faced the problem of keeping tabs on all of the key activities that were being undertaken within each company and the progress that was being made. Trying to communicate with others, as well as set, delegate, and action different tasks based on various topics and companies, became very challenging. Many tasks were emailed to others, but once sent, they were assumed to be delegated or done, and were not followed up with – which became a nightmare in itself.

“I was primarily looking for a balance between price, functionality and simplicity.”

Through some research, I came across DropTask. I did investigate a few other software options but I was primarily looking for a balance between price, functionality and simplicity. In the end I decided on DropTask. I received very good support from the team at DropTask, which I must admit made the decision even easier.

As with any new business tool or process, it did take a bit of time to change people’s attitudes and to get our staff using the software. The primary factor in getting our staff on board was buy-in from management; once they bought into the app we gradually moved more and more support functions into DropTask. We also offered basic training and support to all of our users, but with DropTask’s biggest advantage being that it is so visual and takes a simple approach, it is very easy to use.

HOW WE USE THE APP

Using DropTask within the team

Our method for using DropTask is easy; each company creates their own projects with the name of the company and the specified topic as the project title. Within the project, secondary topics are defined using groups; each group contains our tasks and everything that needs to be done.

Whether its meetings, financial feedback or risk management progress, many of our projects are continually updated and will never be completed. As they don’t have logical start or finish dates, DropTask is used as an ongoing tool for our tasks.

DropTask has been effective in seeing some projects through from inception to completion, such as event days. All stages of the project are managed in DropTask; from the initial planning and task allocation, to preparation and evaluation after the event has been held. We would also envisage using DropTask to manage the launch of a new product – from the inception stage right through until the final launch.

“Many of our projects are continually updated…DropTask is used as an ongoing tool for our tasks.”

DropTask is also used as a short and long term planner by each user. Consequently, their time management can be made much more effective by planning their day, listing the key tasks (as Subtasks) to their daily planner and then ensuring they focus on it. All team members are encouraged to use the app to its full potential. Not so much in terms of the different features, but thinking about our business processes and limiting the management thereof on DropTask only; thus not duplicating systems.Scheduling and managing meetings in DropTask

For example, in addition to meetings being scheduled through DropTask, we also have the app open during meetings, so interactions can be immediately recorded and actions created. As a result, we have moved away from diaries, agendas and minutes.

“I would argue that in respect of the matters we use DropTask for, we have increased our effectiveness by 80%.”

We have found that the functionality of DropTask is spot on; we’re not overloaded with unused icons and features and the visual simplicity reduces the busyness of projects and prevents data overload. Since using DropTask I would say there has been a 20% increase in each person’s productivity, and an even bigger influence on business effectiveness. By this, I mean the way that we deal with issues, delegate tasks, remind each other and ensure focus. Effectiveness will of course impact productivity, and I would argue that in respect of the matters we use DropTask for, we have increased our effectiveness by 80%.

We have been offered various alternative task management tool options, but with DropTask working the way it has, and with it also continually improving key functionality within the Group, I cannot see us moving to another solution.”

Improve your productivity and effectiveness by signing up for free today at www.droptask.com/signup

Already a DropTask user? Share your story with us at contact@droptask.com for your chance to be featured in a future post!

Productivity vs. Creativity

Productivity and creativity are often said to be opposed and at battle with one another; in order to be productive you have to sacrifice creativity, and if you wish to be creative, you must forgo being productive.

Creativity focuses on the quality of work and the development of new ideas – giving little thought to time. Productivity on the other hand, is about putting the wheels in motion – it focuses on getting things done and reaching goals in the most effective way, in the least amount of time.

But does a trade-off between the two have to exist, or can productivity and creativity be balanced so they’re not fundamentally at odds with one another? After all, if we’re to be successful we need to be both productive and creative.

You may be creative and have amazing new ideas, but without productivity, those ideas are simply that – ideas. Similarly, if you’re productive in your work but don’t have any creativity in your process, you become stuck in a routine and are likely to miss out on new opportunities.

As you can see, both productivity and creativity are important, and although the possibility of combining them is questionable, we’ve got 3 steps which will allow you to synchronise them; so each can do what it does best when appropriate.

1. Separate your tasks

Identify whether tasks are productive or creativeIn any project you’re likely to have a mixture of both creative and productive tasks. The key is to break down your project and identify whether productivity or creativity is best suited for each one. It’s important to do this because even though a project might be creative – for example, designing a new website – it doesn’t necessarily mean that every task within that project will be creative too. Tasks such as brainstorming ideas and designing the layout are creative, but actions such as proofing and publishing web pages are more about being productive.

2. Schedule creative time

Schedule time for creative thinking and activitiesOnce you’ve identified the tasks that primarily require creativity, allocate yourself time and space to undertake some creative thinking. Whether it’s 20 minutes or several hours, it’s important to schedule time in your day which can be spent away from your usual activities, so you can brainstorm new ideas and gain fresh perspectives.

3. Establish a workflow

Set up workflows to enhance productivity and efficiency

For the productive tasks, a workflow of activity should be set up to optimize efficiency and to limit work in progress. By mapping out each stage of your project cycle, you can easily monitor work as it passes through the cycle, and quickly address any bottlenecks; ensuring tasks flow through each step of the process smoothly – which is essential for a fast and consistent delivery of work.

How do you balance creativity and productivity while you work? Share your top tips with us in the comments below.

Learn more about the benefits of DropTask and sign up for a free account today. 

To build the team, build the trust

Team Trust

At the foundation of any strong team, is trust.  Building trust between individuals can take time, but once gained, can result in a truly productive team that will harness individual strengths to form a strong, cohesive unit. See below for our top tips on how you can build trust in your team.

Get personalGet personal

It’s easy to fall into a routine where you’re so focused on the things that you need to do, that you forget to engage in everyday conversations that don’t involve deadlines or progress updates. Remember, each person in the team has their own story, values and hobbies and getting to know them on a personal level can create a powerful sense of trust as well as comradery.

Have integrity

Have integrity

In order for trust to be built, an open and honest communication policy should be followed. Honest mistakes happen and promises are sometimes broken, but it’s important to come forward and accept accountability while putting personal consequences to one side. This courage will give confidence to your fellow team members who are relying on you to do the right thing.

Consider everyone equalConsider everyone equal

Whether there’s a new member in the team or a long-standing colleague, be sure to give fair weight to feedback and new ideas – as well as the credit that’s due for them. Acknowledging someone’s contribution regardless of their position will help to convey how much value they bring to the team, and this show of respect will help to build the foundation; resulting in a happier and more productive workforce.

New to DropTask? Learn more about the benefits by signing up for a free account today.

3 Steps to giving productive feedback

Here at DropTask, we understand the importance of communication in the workplace – particularly when working with others and progressing towards your goals. From sharing ideas to delegating work, communication can take many forms. But one type of communication that is often avoided, is feedback.

The process of giving and receiving feedback can be a delicate one – managers can find it hard to deliver feedback, and employees fear the worst. According to the Harvard Business Review, most people assume the worst when review meetings come up, but as feedback plays a key role in the development and success of employees and the organization, it shouldn’t be avoided.

Feedback allows for problems to be identified and solved, helping to improve both the quality of work and success of the business. Below, are 3 tips to help you give constructive – not destructive feedback, so both your employees and your company can flourish.

1. Make it immediate
Schedule a meeting When it comes to giving feedback, don’t beat around the bush. Schedule a quick meeting to share your feedback and address any problems. The sooner you nip an issue in the bud, the sooner you can move forward in the right direction. In addition to addressing specific matters immediately, frequent performance reviews should be conducted – on a monthly or quarterly basis, to air any concerns and to ensure everyone is on the same page.

2. Offer solutions

Sit down and offer solutionsIt’s all very well being critical about how someone has performed, but without a clear plan or suggestions for progression, behavior is unlikely to change. It’s important to offer positive suggestions on how they could do things differently or give guidance on how improvements can be made. Ensure that individual responsibilities are clearly understood and provide supporting documents, so all necessary information is available to do the job well. Leading in the right direction will improve team productivity and help the business to be successful.

3. Be positive
Praising a team memberNot all feedback needs to be negative – it’s important to give credit where credit’s due. So, don’t forget to praise your team when a goal is reached or when they’ve done a good job. Taking the time to let them know you’re grateful of their contributions will improve motivation and the attitude towards their job – plus, when negative feedback needs to be given, they’re more likely to take it on board rather than taking it personally.

New to DropTask? Learn more about the benefits by signing up for a free account today.

3 Qualities to turn a good team player great

2 months free for teams

This week, we’re celebrating teams and putting special focus on how you can promote better collaboration in the workplace.

Effective teamwork is essential to any business or organization looking to achieve high performance rates, and by combining individual strengths and pointing them towards one shared (and clearly established) vision, you can maximise your efforts and make sure that you work to the best of your ability as a team.

To achieve this, having the right skills for the job is undeniably essential, but what qualities define a truly effective team player?  See below for our rundown of 3 qualities that can turn a good team player great, plus, details on how you can get 2 months free when you upgrade to any annual DropTask PRO team plan before Monday*.

1. A willingness to help

Teamwork

A truly great team member will always be glad to share advice, offer support and extend a helping hand if any troubles arise. With this, comes the importance of commitment and dependability, demonstrated through the ability to complete a task within the expected time frame and to the same standard as if it were their own. As Henry Ford once said, “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself”.

2. Compromise

Work together

Though it might be a hard pill to swallow, we can’t be right all of the time. Being stubborn with your views can alienate team members and create a negative environment for ideas to flourish. Instead, a great team player will remain open to the opinion of others and will follow a flexible approach to any situation, especially when it comes to solving a problem.  As part of having this quality comes the need to be fearless, and placing trust in the judgement of your fellow team members.

3. Constructive communication

Team communication

Even with all good intentions, it’s easy to fall into the trap of giving unsolicited advice and feedback that gets taken the wrong way. For healthy, open communication, a great team member should initiate conversations with respect; listening, using specifics, and offering solutions or improvements if a problem has been identified.  Communication in teamwork is key, so remember, be constructive, not destructive.


SPECIAL OFFER:
For this week only, get 2 months free when you upgrade
your team to DropTask PRO*.

Claim Offer

*Offer valid on annual DropTask PRO team plans only and expires midnight 16th May 2016. Cannot be used on subscription downgrades or in conjunction with any other offer.

New to DropTask? Learn more about the benefits by signing up for a free account today.

How to Manage Interruptions at Work

It’s the start of a new day; you’re raring to go and feeling inspired to tackle those all-important and must-do tasks. But suddenly, you get interrupted and thrown off track.

Whether it’s by a phone call, email, over-heard conversation or colleague stopping by your desk, these unplanned activities might steal your attention – distracting you from the task at-hand.

Researchers at the University of California, Irvine, found that the typical worker is interrupted or switches tasks, on average, every three minutes and five seconds. What’s more, once focus has been lost, depending upon the complexity of the task, it can take over 23 minutes to regain focus and return to the original task. Not only is valuable time lost and wasted through interruptions at work, but the number of errors and mistakes can also increase, affecting the overall quality of your work.

Time is one of the most cherished resources, and although some interruptions are inevitable and beyond your control, many can be controlled or prevented. Below, we’ve got some top tips that will help promote discipline and aid forward planning so you can protect your time and invest it in the projects and tasks that are most important to you, and achieving both your personal and business goals:

Break down your day

Sending emails and checking mobile for updatesIt’s all too easy to get distracted by the email announcing cakes in the staff room, or the latest trends on Twitter. But these distractions disturb your trail of thought and productivity, and with no set time frame, it’s hard to manage how long is spent on trivial tasks.

So, instead of dipping in and out of your inbox or continuously refreshing social media sites, set aside blocks of time dedicated to regular activities such as responding to emails, making calls and updating social media. Having specific time slots for different activities throughout the day will reduce unnecessary amounts of time being spent on low importance tasks, and higher priority tasks will have your full attention for more sustained periods – without interruption.

Listen to music

listen to music while you workIt’s been found that listening to music at work can increase accuracy and speed, with 9 out of 10 workers performing better when music is playing. Music allows you to block out other sounds and surrounding noise from the environment or other colleagues – making it easier to concentrate on getting things done. Putting in your headphones will also act as a visual ‘do not disturb’ signal to team members – meaning they’ll be less likely to interrupt you while you work. So the next time you need to work without disruption, plug in, tune in and zone out.

Asses the situation

Time pressures at work

When interrupted and asked to take on a task by someone else, it’s only natural to drop what you’re doing and rush to get the job done straight away. While your willingness to help and eagerness to complete the task will do wonders for your credibility, it will increase the pressure to meet your own deadlines, as the time you have to complete your work will be reduced.

So, when you take on any extra tasks you should always assess how long it will take you to do, what will be required to get started and when it needs to be done by. If you’re not able to fit the requested task into your own schedule, delegate it to a team member or ask a colleague for a helping hand to get it finished. But remember, if it’s not feasible for you to take on the new task, you can of course say no, followed by a short explanation of why you’re not available to help this time around.

Relocate

Quiet work space at DropTask HQ

Open space for distraction-free work at DropTask HQ, Tec Marina.

When you really need to get something done but find yourself surrounded by interruptions, temporarily move to a different location. Whether it’s a conference room, an empty desk, the cafeteria or even the outside seating area (weather dependent of course), escape to a place where you’ll be able to focus and get on with your work with fewer distractions. Remember, this should only be a temporary measure, and if you do choose to move, it’s important to communicate with your team so they know your whereabouts.

Plan ahead 

Use DropTask to plan aheadSome things just don’t go the way you expect them to, but by planning ahead and using a tool like DropTask, you can limit the amount of disruption to your work before it occurs.

When organizing tasks, prioritize where your time should fore-mostly be spent, and define the order for completing them. Then, if you are faced with interruptions or delays, disruption will be minimal as higher priority tasks will have been completed first and any lost time will instead affect tasks with lower importance and less urgency.

If you do get held up or a colleague, manager or client is waiting on you for information, then be proactive in communicating with them. Leave them a comment or update a task’s status to keep them informed of how you’re doing. If others are aware of your progress, they’re less likely to interrupt you for an update.

Finally, when setting deadlines for your work, allow yourself some extra time to complete them. A little leeway here and there means if any unforeseen delays, problems or distractions do arise, you can be flexible in responding – without falling behind on deadlines.

How do you cope with or limit interruptions while you work? Share your top tips with us in the comments below.

Learn more about the benefits of DropTask and sign up for a free account today.