Accept Project Management and Team Collaboration In Your Corporate Culture

Please read the original post on PMTips.net, published June 9th, 2010

Personal story alert: I used to work in a company that vehemently objected to implementing an online project management and collaboration system in their business. Their excuses were the same that we hear from many other businesses: It takes too long to implement. We would waste time. We don’t know how to research a solution. We don’t think anyone would use the solution we choose.

And eventually, the decision was made to overcome all those objections and just move forward with a project management solution, come hell or high water. And the results are were the same that we hear from many other businesses: Projects were managed better. Team members communicated more. Collaboration took place around business plans and documents. Supervisors were able to oversee all projects easily.

By now, we all know the benefits that effective project management and team collaboration can offer the modern business. But there are still the objections, the wariness, the suspicions of moving forward with accepting project management and collaboration practices into the business. And perhaps it’s because business owners just don’t know how to takes those first few steps toward improved business organization and communication.

So, here are tips for accepting project management and team collaboration into your corporate culture.

Test Solutions Together

Your team may resent a mandated change in which they have no say. Allow them the opportunity to test out project management and collaboration solutions before you select the final product for your business. They will be the ones using it most often, and their opinions will shape the way the projects are managed in the future.

Start With One Project At A Time

Don’t dive in head first with this new process. Pick and choose one or a couple projects to start out with to get everyone used to the new system. This way, your team will learn the new processes, iron out the wrinkles in the system and discover more efficient ways of managing their work before all the projects are there.

Create A Timeline

Even though you are starting out slow, you need to have an end in sight. Set a timeline indicating when all projects, work and communications will need to be 100% inside your new system. This will give everyone a goal to shoot for, and will ensure you don’t fall back into your old habits.

Offer Encouragement

Everyone likes a little encouragement, right? When you see a teammate fully accepting and adapting to the new project management and collaboration system, let them know they are doing a good job! Encourage them to continue with their new productivity skills, and to help others if needed as well.

Make It Fun!

When first encouraging your team to get involved in their new project management system, make sure they have fun when they are there. Don’t just work on and collaborate around business stuff – play games and hold exciting discussions to keep people coming back. Offer a prize for the most creative project title. Collaborate together on editing photos of your teammates. Discuss what the mother-to-be should name her new baby. All of these fun little games can encourage people to enjoy using the new project management and team collaboration solution while also learning more about it in the process.

Once you’ve taken the first big step to deciding to move forward with a project management and team collaboration solution, you need to encourage the rest of the team to step along with you. By following the steps above, you’ll be working more efficiently and effectively in no time, and collaborating on improved outcomes together.

Yeah I’m Young – And Awesome

View the original post published on Minnesota Headhunter on May 12th, 2010.

Guest post from Dana Larson (Minneapolis, MN). Catch her on Twitter @DanaNotman and LinkedIn

Looking to hire a new marketing professional in your business? Don’t just look at their age – look at their qualifications.

I’m 25 years old. And I know that, to the rest of the world, that means I’m young. I don’t necessarily agree with this, as I just started wearing night cream for the wrinkles, but it is true that 25 is young.

I also have a great deal of experience in the marketing world. Graduating from a top journalism school in Minnesota with a degree in public relations and marketing, I joined a well-known and progressive online marketing agency. After three years of learning as much information about SEO, social media marketing, PPC, website analytics and online research as my brain could absorb, I joined a start-up software company as their marketing manager. Now in charge of all outbound communications and marketing efforts, I’ve helped increase rankings, awareness and conversations about our business, and signups for our product have increased by 500% in three months.

This is not meant to be a post discussing how fantastic I am, but rather as a post letting employers know that the fact that a job candidate is young has little-to-no impact on their ability to do the job for you. You just need to take a closer look at that candidate and make sure their experience, their ability and their attitude fit your needs.

Colleagues of mine have mentioned how frustrated they get when they hear comments from employers and coworkers about how young they are. “You’ll understand when you’re older,” is true for some things, but when it comes to the professional setting, only alienates team members and can discourage the sharing of new ideas and opinions.

So what are the most important traits and qualifications to look for in a job candidate?

Experience – What has the candidate done in their previous position? What results have they generated? How long were they in that position and what did they accomplish there? Did they receive any recognition or a promotion at their previous companies? Finding out this information shows their past professional experience, as well as gives a strong indication of what they can and will accomplish at your company.

Energy - What do you feel when sitting across from the candidate in the interview room? Are they giving off a strong energy, and speaking effectively and with enthusiasm when talking about their experience? Are they getting excited with the possibility of working at your company? Learning how to read this energy from your job candidates and choosing a candidate with high energy can mean they will excel in their new position by bringing that energy to the team and the company.

Attitude – What’s the connotation of their resume? Do they use more positive than negative words when speaking about their past experiences? Are they smiling a genuine smile? Do they seem happy to be in the interview? Negativity breeds negativity, so make sure you hire a candidate that has a fun, positive attitude to help encourage positivity in your office setting.

Age – I know I said to not use age as a discriminator, but sometimes a younger person can bring great benefits to the table. They will have younger, fresher ideas as to what is hip and trendy, and can bring a new way of thinking to bring in a younger customer base. Younger people also tend to be more in tune with new and emerging technologies, which can greatly impact the efficiency, reach and organization of your people and your business.

What you need to understand most of all is that a younger person can potentially accomplish the job at hand just as well as – if not better than – an older person. Try not to disregard a candidate based on their age, but on how well you feel they can succeed in the position they are applying for. When you make the right hire, no matter their age, you will be significantly impacting the future success of your business.

Dana Larson, OnePlace Marketing Manager, represents the best of a new generation of communicators adept at engaging across all media, from traditional to social. A sweet but somewhat snarky gal whose career in marketing has easily transcended from big agency to agile small business, Dana blogs regularly about business, collaboration and productivity solutions.

3 Keys to Startup Success

View the original post on SmallBizBee, published May 5th, 2010.

Once the lightbulb turns on, there is no stopping a determined entrepreneur. He works diligently, night and day, to outline the business plan, the product plan and brainstorms how to find funding. He bursts with excitement when telling others about his great idea, and quickly gets his business off the ground and headed toward startup business success.

What’s missing from the scenario above? If you answered “everything in the middle” you’d be right. Within any startup business, there are many factors that go into ensuring business success. Each of these ingredients can be brought together to build one, solid business foundation to grow the success of the business as a whole.

Assuming you already have a strong product or service offering and you have the resources to start the business, there are 3 key ingredients that can mean the success or failure of the business recipe: The Right People, The Right Tools and The Right Energy.

The Right People

Having the right people in your business is huge! When hiring a team to help bring your business increased success, make sure they have the following:

  • A can-do attitude
  • A roll-up-your-sleeves mentality
  • The brains to improve the business and processes
  • The guts to take chances
  • The desire to succeed

This might seem like a lot to ask, but if you don’t see these traits in the people you are interviewing, do not hire them. It will cost you time, money and energy just to find out that the decision to bring them on board was a bad one.

However, if you hire people who exemplify the traits above, you have just scored yourself a big win. These team members will work hard for you, will be dedicated to the business and the product and will bring your team forward toward greater business success.

You can’t take chances here. Make sure you hire the right people right off the bat and watch how they help shape your business for the better.

The Right Tools

It’s no longer enough to give your employees a computer, a phone, an email address, a desk and chair and expect them to work efficiently. You now need to give them access to the right tools with which to communicate, stay organized and keep on task.

How do you prefer to communicate with others in your business? Is email working as well as you’d like? My guess is probably not. Outline communication processes and look for online solutions that facilitate greater communication and collaboration. Social media-like services mixed with instant messaging and communication storage can greatly increase the outcome of each online conversation, and bring team members together.

Find easy online solutions to store business documents, customer files and training information as well. And try to keep all this organized in the same system in which you manage work. Scheduling tasks, managing projects and organizing work with documents and communications only increases the efficiency of the work tools you use, and you will love the way it easily brings people and work together.

Giving your team access to these types of solutions will start them off on the right foot and increase their ability to stay organized, on task and increase successful business communications.

The Right Energy

Startups thrive off of the energy and entrepreneurial spirit of their people. It takes a lot of nights and weekends to make a startup business successful, and without the right energy in your team and your business, that work either won’t get done or won’t be of high quality.

So how do you keep the people in your business energized and excited to tackle the work at hand? Here are a few tips to do just that:

  • Work together
  • Stay organized
  • Celebrate success
  • Have fun

Building up the positive energy in your team and showing them the fruits of their labor can dramatically increase their desire to continue working and to put forth the effort it takes to increase your startup success.
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By ensuring you are including the right people, tools and energy in your startup, you are virtually guaranteeing yourself great business success. So roll up your sleeves, get to work and watch your business turn into something great!