How to be a Good Team Leader

How to be a Good Team Leader

Running a large corporation or managing a part of it requires a lot of time, dedication and passion. It is a difficult task to be able to look after and upkeep a number of staff while considering your own needs and desires. This can include everything from staff holidays to encouraging development and growth within your team. Here are some ideas and good practices for successfully managing your team and being a good team leader.

Establish a hierarchy - As much as it is good to get along with everybody in your team and to treat them equally, when push comes to shove, your team need to know that you have the final say. Likewise, while everybody in the team holds an important role that is important to the operation of your business, it might help to establish a hierarchy and to clearly define who reports to who. This can be done through team meetings and discussion or by simply growing up a chart, but do be careful not to make anybody feel under-appreciated in the process.

Scheduling your time well - While part of your role as a team leader may also be to complete the same work as your team, organising and looking after people takes a lot of time and it will help you immensely to put aside some of your hours every day specifically for helping your crew. Make sure there is time for your staff to talk to you, to come to you with their problems and questions and for you to effectively play your role in either solving them or encouraging them to solve them independently. You may have to be the one working the hardest and longest, but by picking up the slack and driving forwards, you will also push your team forwards. Make sure there is time to hold team meetings, to hold individual meetings, and to carefully manage the people who are working for you.

Upkeep morale - Make sure everybody feels appreciated for the tole that they play in your business. Treat everybody with equal respect, even if they are new and still at the bottom of the ladder. Be very open and transparent with your communication and operations. Try your best not to criticise anybody, inside and outside of your team in other departments, as your staff will follow your example and this is likely to create internal problems for the business. Try to delegate some time to do something fun with your team every day. Generally try to be a good friend while maintaining your position at the top.

Be clear - When you designate work, do not be ambiguous with what is required and when it is required by. Be realistic with your expectations, but do enforce them. Be informed as well as decisive, and try to keep a confident exterior so that people trust you as procrastination can be seen as a sign of weakness. Trust your team to be decisive as well, and to follow your clear examples. Talk to your team to help you to make decisions, especially when the decisions impact the team directly, as their opinions and input can help immensely and to help them feel included.

Communicate regularly - As well as teaching and leading, you should be prepared to listen and to consider the views, opinions and input from everybody you are looking over. Being well informed about everything happening in your team will help you to run your business, and the best way to be informed is to talk to the people most involved - your team. Listen to their suggestions, guide them towards solutions but ultimately try to encourage them to reach the final epiphany individually which will help them to grow and develop, and help everybody to work together.

Have the knowledge - You can be an excellent leader, but not know what you are leading. Make sure you are informed about the business that you and everybody in your team is completing. Be prepared to answer questions about processes that you might not even be working yourself. If you don't know the answers, be prepared to admit this and know where you will be able to find the solutions.

Be positive - Your team will follow your example. Positivity is essential to quality and productivity, and upholding a positive exterior will reflect well on everybody in your team.

Planning a team building retreat

Planning a team building retreat

Maybe your staff are getting a little stir-crazy, or maybe your budget is higher than you were expecting for the quarter and you feel like everybody could do with some fresh air, or maybe all of your staff work remotely and need to come together. Perhaps it is time to consider a team-building getaway to strengthen some of the weaknesses amongst your work force and to improve staff morality. Here is a quick guide to setting up a successful retreat for you and your staff.

Think about the objective of the getaway. Perhaps it will revolve around a particular meeting. Perhaps it will be to help your staff relax. Maybe it will be focussed on improving skills and communication amongst your staff. Before anything else, it is a good idea to decide upon a location that satisfies this. Lots of venues specifically cater for work retreats and the staff there will be able to assist you in creating activities and hosting events to take a weight off your shoulders. Often venue locations are remote and somewhere natural which helps your employees to focus and to concentrate on whatever activities you designate. Consider the cost of transporting your team to the location, the facilities on offer and above all, your budget.

Next, begin planning the retreat. It is a good idea to set up a planning committee, preferably containing people who will actually be attending the retreat as if they feel that they have contributed towards decisions, they will be more eager to be involved when completing activities. Try to get some of the staff from higher up in the business to participate as well as this will help everybody to relate to each other and improve morale and communication throughout the different levels of the business.

While the retreat may revolve around a meeting (or not), it is always a good idea to include a number of games and activities that bring the team together. You may want to start with a few ice breakers to break down the barriers between your staff and to make them more comfortable amongst each other. You could put your staff on the spot and make them answer a desert island question, such as what three items would you chose if you were going to be stranded on a desert island to survive? This is good because it makes people think resourcefully, showcases their individual personality and puts a little pressure on people to speak in public. Another, slightly more absurd, but good game guaranteed to break down some barriers is to ask your staff to tell you something that they hate and why they hate it in the form of I hate X because it X and to get everybody in the circle to state this in front of everybody else. Then, get your staff to replace the object of their hatred with the word sex and get them to repeat their statement. This will make everybody laugh a lot and bring them closer together.

After you have broken the ice, you will most likely want to involve some team building games. Quite often, companies look to complete escape room type situations where the team have to work together to find clues to escape an organised situation within a time limit. You can also split your team in half and ask each half of the team to build half of a bridge to meet the other half of the team who will be building the other half of the bridge. This is clever because the two halves of the team cannot communicate with words but still have a common objective, and have to find other ways to work together.

Alongside activities, include time for your team to relax with each other and enjoy eating together. Make sure you find out everybody's dietary needs before you leave and cater for these if necessary. You can even include a cooking challenge or course as part of your retreat, which will encourage people to work together.

Try not to include tight deadlines or stressful situations as, although it might get your team moving and engaged in the situations, it is as important for the team to take some time out and to relax as it is to improve their skill set.

Plants in the Office

Plants in the Office

There have been numerous scientific studies that have detailed the positive effects of having plants inside your office, both in terms of appearance and also psychological. Here are some of the facts and figures that might encourage you to make your workplace a more natural paradise.

Plants have been proven to reduce stress. A 2010 study suggested that depression in the office was reduced by 58% with the presence of plants, anger was diminished by 44% and even tiredness was reduced by 38%. Considering the amount of productivity which is hindered by such moods and even absences created by health issues relating to stress, a plant is a small price to pay for the potential boost in output and overall happiness of the staff. Studies have also suggested that the introduction of plants in a work place can reduce absence by as much as 50%.

As well as making an office more aesthetically pleasing, plants help to make employees feel more comfortable. Being surrounded by natural greenery even lowers blood pressure and help people to perceive their surroundings better. Focus and concentration also improve, which reduces mistakes and increases productivity. Comfortable and healthy employees produce better work. In fact, a number of studies have been conducted and they average at about a 10% - 15% increase in productivity where plants have been present in the building. One possible explanation for this, is that plants reduce excess carbon dioxide in the immediate proximity through the process of photosynthesis, creating a more pleasant atmosphere for people to co-exist in.

Speaking of which, by introducing one plant for every three employees, carbon dioxide can be reduced by 50%, and not only this, but plants will continue to clean up the air in which we exist by reducing the level of dust, bacteria and mould. Plants make our environment more humid, which is particularly effective in an office environment as computer monitors and air conditioning units can really dry out the atmosphere which can lead to sickness and absence of employees which of course results in a drop of productivity.

An office with plants is more welcoming and interesting for both your employees and your clients. We have all been inside multiple offices which all feel the same; with cubicle walls, whirring computer monitors and that humdrum grey and sea of neutral colours that seems to sterilise everything. Plants make your work space more unique and pleasant to look at and to be inside, and considering how much time we often have to spend working in an office, it pays to make it more comfortable for everybody. They also soak up some excess sound, reducing background noise by about 5 decibels, adding to the more pleasant environment.

Last but not least, plants can also boost creativity. While this has been proven, with a margin of 15%, nobody quite knows why, but could be due to the more relaxed and comfortable nature of the employees.

So we know that plants have a very positive effect on both the happiness and productivity of staff, but some plants are better suited than others to the modern work place. Low maintenance plants such as spider plants and cacti are particularly effective in environments without too much light. Spider plants are particularly good at improving air quality by removing pollutants and bacteria from the atmosphere and by boosting humidity.

Another plant which is hard to kill is philodendron, which can thrive in both full sun and full shade circumstances. It is also exceptionally good at cleaning dirty air and improving the environment for office workers and has been proven to increase concentration.

One more plant worth mentioning is the peace lily, which actually prefers darker places to live in, such as an office. They are visually striking plants that brighten up the workplace and they remove more VOCs and toxins from the air than almost any other house plant.

If your work place is looking a little grey and generic, perhaps it is time to brighten up your office with some greenery and to boost the morale and productivity of your staff. For such a small price, the health and psychological benefits are monumental, and you should see a return on your investment very quickly.

Steve Jobs as a source of Inspiration

Steve Jobs as a source of Inspiration

Whether you are reading this from your iPhone, Macbook, iPad, Mac mini, iMac, Watch, Apple TV or non-Apple product, you can't deny that Steve Jobs was a visionary and he changed the way we live.

His revolutionary company Apple was born out of years of hard work, determination and perseverance. Jobs co-founded Apple Computers with Steve Wozniak. Under his guidance, the company pioneered a large range of revolutionary technologies, namely the iPhone, iPod and iPad. These revolutionary products are now seen as dictating the evolution of modern technology.

Steve Jobs and his adopted father, Paul, worked on electronics in the family garage. Paul showed his son how to take apart and reconstruct electronics. This hobby gave Jobs the familiarity he always had with electronics.

While Jobs was enrolled at Homestead High School, he was introduced to his future partner Steve Wozniak, who was studying at the University of California, Berkeley. In a 2007 interview with PC World, Wozniak spoke about why he and jobs clicked so well: We both loved electronics and the way we used to hook up digital chips, Wozniak said. Very few people, especially back then, had any idea what chips were, how they worked and what they could do. I had designed many computers, so I was way ahead of him in electronics and computer design, but we still had common interests. We both had pretty much sort of an independent attitude about things in the world.

Jobs and Wozniak are credited with revolutionizing the computer industry by making machines smaller, cheaper, intuitive and accessible to everyday consumers. This way they democratized technology.

It wasn't a walk in the park for Jobs and he sure had to make sacrifices and take risks. Here are some of his quotes to inspire anyone to follow their dreams:

Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn't matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we've done something wonderful, that's what matters to me.

Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.

Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.

Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren't used to an environment where excellence is expected.

It's really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them.

Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.

I want to put a ding in the universe.

My favorite things in life don't cost any money. It's really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.

Sometimes life is going to hit you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith.

I'm convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.

I'm as proud of many of the things we haven't done as the things we have done. Innovation is saying no to a thousand things.

Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it.

Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow know what you truly want to become.

I think if you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long. Just figure out what's next.

When you're a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you're not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will see it. You'll know it's there, so you're going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.

That's been one of my mantras—focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex; you have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple.

Quality is more important than quantity. One home run is much better than two doubles.