Unexpectedly Losing a Key Team Member- How to Keep Things Moving Along

It happens to the best of us. Things go wrong in business, sometime the best employees quit, and it can be hard for any team to move on.

Preparing for the loss of a leader is good practice to ensure that things get back up and running as smoothly as as possible, as soon as possible, should such a situation befall your company. Here’s how to handle the unexpected exit of a key employee, and minimize any disruption to the day to day operations.

1. Decide privately who is going to fill what role before breaking the news to the rest of the team.

Take the time to fully evaluate the company’s needs and explore all the options available. Whether you decide to promote internally or take the time to find an externally qualified candidate, having a clear direction and temporary solution in place will help prevent a drop in morale and overall productivity.

2. Tell everyone at the same time so they all receive the same information.

Clear communication is necessary in order to avoid inaccuracies and gossip from spreading around the office and instill a sense of leadership.

3. Remain positive and grateful for the lost team member’s contribution.

While everyone is essentially replaceable, you want your remaining team members to feel valued and supported professionally as well as personally. Exhibiting excitement for the lost employee’s success, even if it’s not with you, not only prevents future turnover, it leaves the door open for opportunities yet to come.

4. Conduct an exit interview.

Even though they are leaving, it’s important to find out why. This is a great moment for constructive criticism. Ask them how they would describe the culture as an employee, and what changes they would make if they could, etc. Gaining such insight allows for your team and company to improve and continue to keep employees that are integral assets.

Lastly, be prepared to offer support to your team as roles change, or take on more yourself to make up for the gap during this transition. Doing so will be key in succeeding with as well as finishing current projects.

At Number8, we help project managers connect with highly trained and efficient IT support to help reach company goals. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 and what we do, give us a call at (502) 890-7665, or check out our information page!

5 Benefits of Stakeholder Interviews

There’s no denying it, for developers and project managers alike, stakeholders can have a somewhat looming presence throughout the duration of a project. It’s only natural considering they are often deeply invested in the project’s outcome and can even greatly influence the development of it. However, simply taking the time early on to interview those who have a stake in the outcome of the project can have numerous benefits. Here are 5 reasons why you should carve out some time in the planning stages of your next project and chat with your stakeholders.

1. Craft a Cohesive Vision

Often there are a lot of key players involved in any given project. What better opportunity than the early stages to come to a common consensus on execution? Chances are there may be more than one stakeholder, so sitting down with each one and shedding light on their own unique perspective can help your team anticipate how they will each influence the process and enable you to drive alignment right from the start. 

2. Set the Right Goals & Priorities

Consider this part of the research stage. Stakeholders can provide much needed context for what the success of a project will look like as they are part of the user audience. Therefore, inquiring about each stakeholder’s goals, agenda, and purpose will provide immeasurable insight in terms of delivering a satisfactory end product.

3. It Saves Time & Money

When you don’t have to rely on assumptions, you save your team from having to do time-consuming and costly rework. Having a conversation with stakeholders at the beginning, is proactive and will help to establish a realistic project plan and scope. 

4. Collaboration

Collaboration and communication is just good business. Having a rapport with your project’s stakeholders builds trust and credibility. The relationship with stakeholders should be viewed as more of a partnership in which each side feels validated and helps drive the project forward.

5. Proactive Problem Solving

Stakeholders are a valuable asset to any project not only through their monetary support, but their ability to voice concerns and identify challenges. Interviewing them from the start is a great way to see the constraints your team may be facing and bring things to the surface now rather than later. Structure the development process like a walk through, and allow them to aid in the decision making process. 

At Number8, our philosophy is to empower our clients to produce better software, faster. We are experts in augmenting scrum teams with senior consultants that can help increase team velocity immediately. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 and what we do, give us a call at (502) 890-7665, or check out our information page.

5 Email Habits to Stay More Organized at Work

Believe it or not, there is a right way and a wrong way to use your email. Managed poorly, your email can vastly reduce your productivity at work, causing mounds of undue stress and anxiety. If you constantly find yourself coming up for air after dealing with a flood of emails, here are a few habits to cultivate so you can efficiently reign in your inbox.

1. Time Management

It can be easy to lose track of time when working from your email. Instead of popping in and out of your inbox throughout the day, consider removing email notifications to help you focus on the task at hand. Rather, set aside blocks of time during your day to deal with emails.

2. Take Action

When you do set aside time to work on emails, don’t merely read them and then let them pile up. Take action on every message by utilizing the 4 “D’s” of email. Either Delete it, Deal with it, Defer it, or Delegate it.

Delete it: You don’t actually have to save everything…Not every email needs a response or pertains to you, so save yourself the time and your inbox the emails. Don’t be afraid to delete things within reason and try to only keep emails that are informative resources or ongoing projects.  

Defer it: Even if you can’t respond to a certain email right away, don’t be afraid to acknowledge that you received the email but will respond within another time frame. Flag it as either unread or with a special tag so it doesn’t slip through the cracks. Marking it appropriately will ensure you come back to it later. It may even prove useful to create a folder for these messages you’ve put off so that they don’t get pushed to the bottom of your que, and you can deal with them all in one place.

Delegate it: CC yourself on things you need further information on in order to take action. This way you remain in the loop and focused on your responsibilities.

3. Set up Folders

Two words: Inbox Folders. Create folders in your inbox either by subject, client, project or priority depending on what best suits your business. Your inbox should just be a holding place. Once you have “dealt” with an email, either delete it or keep it in one of these folders as an archive that you routinely manage. 

4. Filter, Filter, Filter

Unfortunately, most emails we receive don’t even have important or relative information. Often, it’s worth the time and initial investment to utilize email filters that block out spam or marketing emails. At worst, they’ll at least limit the amount you receive as going through and deleting them is a major time waster. 

5. Write Better Emails

Think about the kind of emails you want to receive and incorporate this into your own emails. Short and to the point, with a clear subject line is always best. If you find yourself rewriting what is essentially the same message over and over again, save and reuse boilerplate emails. Of course you can also always send fewer emails by calling, popping in, or texting for something urgent. 

Developing these 5 habits should help you feel a sense of control over your inbox and allow you to stay on top of your to do list!

At Number8, we help project managers connect with highly trained and efficient IT support to help reach company goals. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 and what we do, give us a call at (502) 890-7665, or check out our information page!

Stressful Work Environment? 10 Fast & Easy Ways To Relieve Stress

Regardless of how much you love your job, it can be stressful at times. According to a survey from Everest College, 83% of workers in the US are stressed at work. There are many reasons that an employee can be stressed. For some, it is an unhealthy work environment. For others, stress at work can be a result of a lack of job security, a poor work/life balance, or feeling underpaid.

In the IT sector, quickly approaching deadlines or a high influx of clientele contribute to a stressful work environment. Data malfunctions, system crashes and miscommunication between team members are additional factors that can contribute to feeling stressed on the job. Since working in a stressful environment is unavoidable at times, it is important to know quick ways to relieve stress in the workplace. Below, we’ve outlined 10 fast and easy ways to relieve stress when you find yourself stressing out at work.

10 Ways to Relieve Stress at Work

  1. Build Positive Relationships with Co-Worker

    Co-workers who can commiserate with you on common stressors are blessings in disguise. Having friends in the office who you can vent to in confidence is a huge stress reliever. When you talk about stressors, you contextualize them and can often resolve the issues altogether. If you’re feeling stressed at work, find a friend and confidante then sit down and talk about what’s bothering you.

  2. Exercise

    Exercise has been proven time and time again to relieve stress. You don’t have to do a full-blown workout to incorporate exercise into your workday. Taking a short walk during lunch or a quick walk around the building when you’ve got 10 minutes can make all the difference. The point is that getting outside and getting your heart rate up hugely benefit stress relief. If you don’t have time to get away from your desk consider requesting a standing desk. An act as simple as standing when you’re used to sitting all day can hugely benefit the receptors in your brain that manage stress.

  3. Improve Your Diet

    Stress eating is real. While it may feel good to binge eat greasy pizza when you’re feeling down, it’s not helping you manage your stress. In fact, a healthy diet is going to benefit your stress levels much more than an unhealthy diet will. By eating foods high in carbohydrates, fat, and sugar, you’re more likely to feel lethargic and less likely to tackle difficult tasks. When you choose to eat complex carbs, high fiber fruits, and superfoods like kale and dark chocolate, you’re helping your body and powering your brain. A healthy diet will keep you from worrying about your weight on top of your job and will help keep you focused on the tasks ahead. In the end, you’ll be benefiting your body and your workload.

  4. Start Your Day Off in a Positive Way

    We’ve all heard the saying, “someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed” and while it’s an expression, it rings true. A huge factor that determines your stress levels is how you start your day. When you start your day late and find yourself rushing, you’re more likely to be stressed. Some ways to ensure you start your day off right include preparing your breakfast and lunch the night before, picking out your work attire in the evening, and getting at least 8 hours of sleep without that time cutting into your morning.

  5. Breathe, Breathe, Breathe

    Breathing is a great way to relieve stress and calm yourself down. By practicing deep breathing, you’re sending your brain a message that says, “calm down and relax”. Not only does deep breathing reduce stress, but it also relieves tension. There are a few different deep breathing techniques that can help with stress reductions. A study recently came out of the University of Michigan explains the different techniques, how to do them, and their benefits.

  6. Cut Down on Interruptions

    Interruptions surround us within the work environment. From meetings and email threads to extended lunch breaks and social media, there are distractions everywhere. While some interruptions are necessary, most of them are not and are contributing to your stress. Try cutting down on interruptions by setting aside specific times for meetings, addressing your inbox at a certain time, and limiting your social media usage.

  7. Tackle One Thing at a Time

    Prioritizing your day is another great way to eliminate stress. Making a to-do list of tasks to work through can help to put your day in a manageable perspective. By completing one task at a time, you will be able to focus entirely on said task. This will keep you from having to revisit it throughout the day. A helpful tip is to make an outline of how your ideal workday would pan out and then try to stick to that outline.

  8. Quit Self-Imposing Stress

    A lot of work-related stress is self-imposed. By setting unreasonable deadlines for yourself or avoiding certain items on your to-do list because they are hard to tackle, you’re creating stress that can easily be avoided. An easy way to avoid self-imposed stress is to apply other methods of stress management on this list to your work life.

  9. Be Comfortable

    Being uncomfortable can also contribute to stress in the workplace. Wearing clothes you feel uncomfortable in to uphold an image can contribute to your stress. Sitting in an uncomfortable chair can also cause stress in the workplace. Even something as minor as dealing with distracting office noise can make it hard to focus. Speaking up about office discomforts can benefit your day-to-day work life tremendously and cut down on stress.

  10. Kick Bad Habits

    Kicking bad habits that cause you to stress is a great way to reduce your stress at work and at home, too! Whether your bad habit is checking social media too often or finding yourself overwhelmed with topics unrelated to work while at the office, eliminating those causes can have great effects. BlockSite is a great Chrome extension that can help you cut back on visiting websites not related to your job and can help eliminate your stress in the workplace.

While stress in the workplace can’t be completely avoided, it can be managed. The number one step to managing your work-related stress is to identify the causes. Once you’ve discovered what is causing your stress, start taking steps to eliminate those causes. Eventually, your work-related stress will disappear and your life at work will improve drastically. If you feel that these tips will not help you with your stress, you may consider a new career path. Not all people are cut out for certain jobs and that is completely fine. In the end, personal wellbeing and mental health should be your highest priorities.

At Number 8, we promote a healthy and stress-free work environment. If you are an IT professional who is in search of a job, contact us today. You can give us a call at 502-890-7665 or check out our contact page!

Why Mistakes are an Important Part of the Creative Process Even in Tech

Those in the Information Technology field know that software development doesn’t occur in a vacuum. It’s collaborative and often times risks need to be taken in order to achieve any level of innovation. With risks come mistakes and projects that don’t always pan out as planned.

However, IT teams that follow the agile methodology tend to be familiar with the ideology that mistakes are an important part of the creative process. The agile way of developing tech is adaptive in that it is designed around embracing feedback and learning opportunities.

As Albert Einstein once said, “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.”

Here’s why you shouldn’t let the fear of making a mistake keep you or your team in your comfort zone:

Mistakes let us know what doesn’t work and paves the path for what could.  

When it comes to developing something new or going into uncharted territory, mistakes are bound to happen. But with experimentation comes discovering a new way of doing something and that is almost always value added. By pivoting and testing new ideas, one is better able to evaluate and refine a product or idea and then learn from it. 

It’s not the mistake that defines an employee, but how they rebound from it.

If mistakes are inevitable, a team should know how to handle them. Take the stigma out of it, and you’ll find that enabling a team to make mistakes means also giving them the opportunity to problem solve effectively. Employees who take accountability for their mistakes and are able to learn from them are a valuable asset to any company. Instead of creating a culture of fear where one tends to get defensive if a mistake is made, establish one where everyone feels empowered enough to innovate and safeguard for the future.

At Number8, we help project managers connect with highly trained and efficient IT support to help reach company goals. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 and what we do, give us a call at (502) 890-7665, or check out our information page!