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3 Ted Talks That Will Change the Way You Think About Work

Sometimes we all need a little pick me up during the work week. What better way to reboot the mind and motivate ourselves to keep carrying on than a really good Ted Talk? Here are our favorite talks that will help change the way you think about stress and work.

Kelly McGonigal- How to Make Stress Your Friend

In her 2013 Ted Talk, Psychologist Kelly McGonigal challenges the idea that stress is the cause of all our problems by siting a study that illustrates stress is actually only harmful if you believe it is. In this study, participants who experienced stress, but didn’t believe it was harmful, had a lower risk of death than those with less stress.  According to McGonigal, “How you think and act can transform your experience of stress.” Instead of viewing signs of anxiety and stress as the body failing to cope, think of it as the body getting energized and rising to a challenge. Re-framing the way we perceive stress often results in a healthier stress response, or what McGonigal calls a “biology of courage.”

Stressed at work? Watch it here: 

Shawn Achor- The Happy Secret to Better Work

Psychologist Shawn Achor’s 2011 Ted Talk aims to reverse the status quo when it comes to our formula for happiness and success. According to Achor, “Success is predicted by optimism levels, social support and your ability to see stress as a challenge instead of a threat.” Though we tend to think that working harder will give us more success and more success will make us happier, we are always changing the definition of success. “If happiness is on the opposite side of success,” says Achor, “your brain never gets there.” Instead, we should make use of what he calls the “happiness advantage.” When we’re happy, our brain performs better. This is because in addition to making us positive, dopamine also turns on all the learning centers in our brain. As a result, we’re often more productive when we’re happy and every single business outcome improves.

Interested in the happiness advantage? Watch here:

Theresa Glomb- Let’s Make Work Better

Organizational Psychologist Theresa Glomb’s Ted Talk addresses the negative conversation we so often have around work and offers advice on how we can take more power over our work lives. According to Glomb, the bad things that happen at work can have as much as 5 to 10 times the impact on our mood than the good things. To remedy this “asymmetry affect,” Glomb offers a few tricks to make us happier at work. Namely, work hard, have fun, choose kind and be present.

Looking for a fresh perspective at work? Watch here:

At Number8, we connect companies with IT talent and software developers that are fully trained in product development. By encouraging talent to come up with creative solutions, they remain motivated and positively contribute to a healthy company culture. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 give us a call at (502) 890-7665. 

How to Approach Project Management the Agile Way

An agile approach to project management has become prolific within many industries ranging from software development, construction and even marketing. Approaching a project the agile way ensures the product meets the client’s needs in a timely manner. The agile method also specifically makes room for improvements along the way rather than at the end when a lot of effort has already gone into the finished product. The result is often a shorter development cycle and quicker product release.  

However, an agile project manager’s duties differ from that of a traditional one’s. While the typical project manager is tasked with communication and quality control and manages the scope, cost, risk and personnel, many of these responsibilities are spread throughout the team in an agile workforce. 

Agile encourages team members to determine how to best achieve their tasks, report on their progress and determine their own schedule. Instead of a project manager, teams evaluate their own time and cost as they move through their work. Project goals are set by what is called a “product owner” and an agile project manager is referred to as a “scrum master.” 

The scrum master (or agile project manager) deals with problems as they arise and handles interruptions so his or her team can focus on the work at hand. This often comes in the form of facilitating meetings and discussions, removing progress blockers and setting priorities.

While traditional project management dictates a detailed master plan that must be followed, the agile way aims to determine the requirements as the project progresses. For this reason, an agile project manager tends to only be utilized in particularly larger complex projects. 

When approaching project management through the agile mindset, one must:

Be Flexible

Agile is built to incorporate regular feedback, updates and changes in requirements. While it’s important to understand the end goal and overall scope of a project from the start, an agile project has many cycles to it’s completion. Therefore, an agile project manager must be flexible enough to work with what is thrown their way rather than adhere to an unchangeable itinerary. 

Prioritize Client Satisfaction

At the end of the day, project management has always been done in the name of customer service. This is perhaps exemplified in the agile model as a project manager is in constant flux when it comes to meeting a client’s ever changing needs. It’s important therefore to remember that the end goal is to ultimately satisfy the client even if it’s at cost to the original plan.

Embrace Meetings

Coordinating with team members, stakeholders and clients still remains a large part of an agile project manager’s role. The agile methodology embraces daily meetings often called “scrums” where everyone participates in team transparency. During these scrums, everyone shares what they accomplished the day before as well as what they are working on that day. These are brief workflow updates and can even be done standing up. If not done in person, video conferences are another way of establishing accountability. 

Be Prepared to Problem Solve

Central to an agile project manager’s responsibilities is the ability to quickly adapt and correct course when need be. Continuous improvement ultimately saves valuable resources by reducing the risk of a larger scale failure in the end.

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!

6 Tips for Keeping & Motivating Your Employees

Building a good team is hard, keeping it intact and running full speed ahead can be even harder. As employee retention rates drop across all industries, getting the most out of one’s team, while ensuring they’re all satisfied with their jobs and invested in the outcome of the business is becoming quite the balancing act.  

Because every person is unique in what drives them, taking advantage of multiple strategies is key. Here are 6 techniques to keeping a team focused, happy and inspired.

1. Make time for everyone.

While team meetings are worthwhile in their own right, nothing is as effective as individual attention and feedback. Routinely speaking with each and every team member helps to build a sense of accountability and allows for mentor ship when needed. Everyone wants to feel as if they are contributing something worthwhile. It can help immensely to recognize a team member’s work and show them how their efforts are being utilized. 

2. Provide opportunities for growth.

One of the biggest reasons employees leave is a lack of advancement. Even employees who come in feeling ambitious and excited may start to look elsewhere if their role has no evolution, the company doesn’t promote from within or they’re not being challenged enough. Growth can come in many forms. Sometimes it’s as simple as bestowing a team member with more autonomy, new responsibilities, or additional training. Allowing staff to innovate and take ownership of their tasks often means they are inspired to go the extra step. 

3. Cultivate an open office environment. 

When it comes to making people happy and getting the job done, communication is king. Creating a culture of openness means employees are more likely to speak up and be proactive about potential problems because they feel comfortable doing so. In an office where everyone feels that their perspective is valued, it’s easier as a leader to meet the needs of a team and fulfill project requirements. 

4. Lead by example.

Employees, good and bad, tend to look to their superiors when it comes to work ethic and office habits. In order to instill job satisfaction and motivate one’s team to achieve great results, those in leadership positions need to exemplify the kind of behavior they believe it takes to get there. This starts with striking a good balance between one’s work life and personal life. Instead of expecting the whole team to work long hours, look for them to come in on time and limit personal activities while in the office. These ideals begin and start at the top. Even taking some much deserved time off is a great way to show one’s team that diligent work is rewarded and that self care is valued as well as understood.  

5. Design the office for productivity. 

Everything from lighting, to furniture, noise control and decor can impact a team’s productivity. Take a look at how your office is designed. Does it enable collaboration or distraction? 

6. Create a team atmosphere.

Even if everyone works well on their own, it can boost moral and productivity to act as a cohesive unit. A simple routine lunch or team outing where everyone get’s to socialize and interact on a more personal level can improve how they communicate and work together. 

At Number8, we connect companies with IT talent and software developers that are fully trained in agile product development. By encouraging talent to come up with creative solutions, they remain motivated and positively contribute to a healthy company culture. 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!

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.