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Category Archives: Team Building

7 Tips to Work Successfully in a Virtual Environment

Best Practices, Employee Engagement, General Life/Work, Managing/Leadership, Team Building

By Angela Darchuk

We live in a world where most of us use technology to do our job, and often that can include being able to do our job from anywhere. With businesses offering work from home or flexible schedule options, many employees now have the opportunity to work in a virtual environment.

Since starting to work in a virtual environment four years ago, I have found ways to make sure working virtually is a success for me and the virtual team I manage. Working in a virtual environment has its challenges and it may not be for everyone, but with some self-motivation and these tips, hopefully you can make your virtual work successful:

  1. Be Open: If you are joining an already established virtual team, and especially if you have never worked on a virtual team before, be open to the process. Virtual teams require a lot of positivity—there is little worse than a team member joining a team and being negative to the process.
  2. Ask Questions: Ask questions about the process, what is expected of you on a daily/weekly/ monthly basis, and seek clarification if you don’t understand what is being asked. It’s a waste of time for an employee or a supervisor to do or receive unnecessary work, so make sure you understand the expectations from the start.
  3. Get to Know Your Team: Getting to know your team can be hard when working in a virtual environment. Talking about your life, your likes and dislikes, and your personality can help open up a dialog and make the team comfortable together.(Working in a virtual environment may mean working solo, but it isn’t just about you doing your job—it’s also about collaboration with others in different locations (and maybe even different time zones!) More tips for virtual team success can be found in our blog post, How to Create a Successful Virtual Team Dynamic.)
  4. Know the Roles Your Teammates Play: Knowing the role of each of your teammates is important. When you know what others’ jobs are, you can leverage their expertise when needed. Additionally, if you are familiar with everyone’s roles, you can start to anticipate what may be needed from/by other members of the team.
  5. Be Involved: Be involved by offering information, providing solutions to issues, and volunteering for action items. A weekly meeting—usually via conference call or video conference—is a must to make sure the team is involved, but if you need more frequent meetings, just ask.
  6. Show Initiative: Showing initiative can be difficult in a virtual world, but if you see something that needs to be done, talk to your supervisor about what you can offer. Your skills and abilities were some of the reasons you were hired, so offer up new ideas to help!
  7. Ask for the Proper Equipment to do Your Job: As a virtual employee, it’s important you have the tools to do your job. This can include software and hardware; in addition, you should have access to tools for conference calling, sharing screens, direct messaging, and project management. However, be mindful of what is a ‘need’ and what is ‘want’—equipment needs to be budgeted and you should be able to justify the request.

As a virtual employee, it is your responsibility to show your value so that you thrive—hopefully these tips help your venture into virtual work a success!

About the Author: Angela has a background in book-keeping and office management. She worked for several small businesses in the Sacramento area before taking a job with the State of California. She worked for Dept. of Child Support, EDD and the State Treasurer’s office before making the jump back to private sector where she feels more at home to voice her opinion and help grow a company. Angela is currently the Administrative Services Manager for KAI Partners. In her spare time Angela loves to read, dance, and go to Disneyland. When she goes to Disneyland, her favorite ride is It’s a Small World. She is a graduate of Penn State University, has been married for 18 years, and has two boys, ages 19 and 13 (who hate It’s a Small World).

From “Yes, but” to “Yes, and”

Communications, Employee Engagement, Team Building

By David Dickstein

It’s just a one-word change, but getting into the habit of saying “Yes, and” instead of its nasty evil twin can result in huge payoffs in and out of the workplace. Experts from the business community to the medical profession agree that applying “Yes, and” to life does wonders in making people feel respected and supported. As one workplace coach puts it, this practice creates collaboration in times of conflict and engagement in times of trouble.

So that you can bring this positivity to your neck of the work-related woods, consider putting “Yes, But” jars in and around the office.  These visual reminders are intended to help discourage personnel from using “Yes, but” phrases that often rear their ugly head in meetings, hallway chats, email responses and other ways the workforce collaborates. The rules are simple: Every time someone says you-know-what, others who witness it can collect a “fine” by insisting that the offender puts some money into the jar. A buck is recommended. Proceeds can be earmarked for charity or an office party.

With the help of “Yes, But” jars, one day you could work in an environment where responses like, “I appreciate your idea, but based on history it will never work,” become more along the lines of “Your idea has merit and I can give you some insight to make it work.”

Yes, we know old habits are hard to break, but …. Oops, guess someone’s putting a George in the “Yes, But” jar! Hoping this tip is worth implementing, and if so, good luck helping make your workplace more positive and respectful.

About the Author: David Dickstein is a senior communications manager with KAI Partners, currently assigned to a division of the California Department of Health Care Services. Previously, he was with the Global Communications Group of Intel Corporation, serving the media relations, employee communications and executive communications departments for over 17 years. A former staff writer on several daily newspapers and president of the Orange County Press Club, Dickstein currently is a travel and entertainment freelancer for four publishing chains in California.

Why—and How—You Should Implement a Training Workgroup

Best Practices, Corporate Training, KAIP Academy, Learning, Organizational Change Management (OCM), Project Management, Prosci, Team Building, Train the Trainer, Training

By Elizabeth Long

Oftentimes, change management consultants enter a project and provide training resources and knowledge for their client. When the project is over, the consultants take these resources and knowledge with them and the client is left without the tools needed to replicate the work in the future.

Something I strive for as a change management leader on my projects is making sure the knowledge stays internal. I want to make sure the client knows what the consultants know, so that client has the information when the consultants leave.

After over 20 years of providing change management and training for clients across all kinds of industries, something I have found that works wonders is a Train the Trainer approach. With a Train the Trainer approach, a training workgroup is developed. This is a training implementation approach that directly engages the client. The training workgroup is important for knowledge transfer and for client ownership of the product.

Here are my recommended steps for creating the framework for a training workgroup in your organization:

  1. Assess the organizational structure and current training environment. Assess who in the organization is qualified to represent their location or department in the training workgroup. If the organization already has training staff in place, great—these folks are likely a natural fit for the training workgroup.
  2. Ask for volunteers to apply for the training workgroup. It’s important that the people identified in step 1 are interested in and want to be involved in the workgroup. After assessing the organizational structure and coming up with a list of possible participants, I recommend asking those who are qualified to officially submit their interest. You’ll be surprised how many people will want to be involved.
  3. Train the trainers. Once the training workgroup is created, members are trained to be able to deliver trainings to their peers. Here they will learn training best practices, presentation skills, and more.
  4. Deliver and check in. When the materials and trainers are ready, it’s time to deliver! Make sure the workgroup checks in regularly to assess how the training plans and resources are working, if there are areas for improvement, etc.

It can take some time, effort, and planning to get the training workgroup set up, but its benefits are numerous. Here are a few:

  1. Aligns employees across different locations. If you have an audience that’s widespread—perhaps there are satellite or virtual offices across cities or states—the representative from each office becomes that location’s training representative. This person brings back knowledge to the staff at their location. This helps create consistency by making sure employees across the organization are relayed the same information.
  2. Reduces travel/cost savings. A natural benefit of the training workgroup is that it cuts down on travel. Instead of sending an entire training team over to a satellite office—or sending the entire satellite office to headquarters for training—the location’s representative manages the training of the staff at his or her location.
  3. Empowers employees and provides them a new skill-set. We recently talked about career development and how important it is for employees to continuously learn and grow in their jobs. Allowing employees to be involved through the training workgroup can increase their skill-set and open them up to future opportunities within the organization.
  4. Knowledge stays in-house. Most importantly, the knowledge, resources, and plans stay with the organization. Once the internal training workgroup creates training plans and resources, there are now materials on-hand to use for new-hires, transfers, those promoting to new roles, etc. People are trained appropriately and are fully prepared with the knowledge and tools they need to succeed.

I have found that implementing a training workgroup can help break down the silos and bring people together. Members of training workgroups often reach out to one another directly to help problem-solve, which adds a layer of collaboration and cohesion within the organization.

Interested in creating a training workgroup or have additional questions? Email us at info@kaipartners.com or ask your question in the comments! Happy training to you!

About the Author: Elizabeth Long is a professional Organization Development Consultant and Curriculum Developer/Trainer. She received her Certification in Organizational Change Management from Prosci and is certified in e-learning development from Langevine Learning Center. Elizabeth has worked in many industries: High tech, healthcare, and state and local government. Currently, Elizabeth works as an Executive Consultant with KAI Partners, Inc. as a contractor working in a variety of California State Departments. Elizabeth has lived in Sacramento for the past 17 years and appreciates the history of Sacramento as well as its convenience to many well-known destinations like San Francisco, Tahoe, and Reno.

3 Things You Need to Know About Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

Communications, Diversity & Inclusion, Employee Engagement, Human Resources, KAIP Academy, Learning, Onboarding, Team Building, Training

By Danielle Cortijo

Much like the snowflake, we are all unique. There is no one else in this world who is exactly like you. Awesome, right? Yes ma’am and sir!

In the workplace, you may find the same is true. Any number of differences are present and create the diverse environment you call your day-to-day professional experience.

There are so many ways we differ from one another—cultural/ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations, religious beliefs, sense of identities, lived experiences, and much more. Navigating these many varied differences is not always easy. Many of us have been known to slip up or trip over ourselves a time or two—or even downright get things all wrong.

But, fear no more! Today I share three things to remember when maneuvering through the workplace to help you do your best to recognize, embrace, and celebrate the diverse and inclusive environment we should all strive to be a part of!

  1. You get a bias… You get a bias… YOU GET A BIAS! (insert talk show host voice here)

I know it isn’t easy walking into a new and unfamiliar space. We’ve all experienced the subtle tensing of the stomach on our first day at a new office or work setting. Among the desk supplies, skillsets, and expectations we bring along with us, we also show up with an invisible bag of bias that we do our best to keep tucked away.

Bias is that thought in your mind, good or bad, that creeps into your head space and allows you to immediately form opinions about the people you meet at work—often at first glance.

While bias can sometimes feel like an ugly word, the truth is, it’s simply something we either knowingly or unknowingly bring to the table every day.

From infancy into adulthood, we venture through life encountering and experiencing so many different things; it can be understandable that we create beliefs about the things and people we have met. It is the onset of these moments that shape how we view the world and those within it—hence, biases.

In our professional lives, we encounter different walks of life and sometimes the biases we have can manifest snap judgments in our minds of who those people are, without even officially meeting them. It’s important that each person we work with or meet in our business environments are met without prejudice or bias. It can be counterproductive to make any sort of assumptions in a first introduction or otherwise.

We all have different life experiences that have helped to shape who we are today. It is critical to “meet people where they are.” Allow them to present their truth to you. There is no need to assume on your own who or what they are. Just as you would hope to be received without assumptions and respected for who are, so does everyone else—try to remain as assumption-free as possible. Which brings me to…

  1. Be Open!

I know all too well how difficult it can be to meet new people sometimes, especially at work. Each and every person has something a little different to offer and it is important to remain open so you do not miss the opportunity to find out what those things might be.

If you are too caught up in the fact that someone may have a culture or religion you are not accustomed to or comfortable with, you could miss out entirely due to your own hang-ups. What if you decide not to engage the new Business Analyst who is a guru at their line of work because you know they are a part of or identify with the LGBT community? The chance to network with this individual would be lost because of the inability to remain open to people who are different from you. Missed chances to engage with incredible people, regardless of their differences from you, is truly the biggest loss.

  1. Inclusion matters!

I cannot think of a time when someone did not want to be genuinely considered and included when it mattered. Including others in work settings assists staff members in feeling valued and a part of the organization as a whole. We all want to contribute or make our mark, right? When we fail to involve others, the ripples of exclusion can be a morale-crusher or could even result in turnover.

At some point in our careers, we all want to be included when it counts. Allow diversity to be a growing and supportive tool, not a hindrance, in your professional environment. There is so much we can learn from each other, largely due to the beneficial professional experiences we can share with others.

Let’s do our best not to alienate one another. Communicate thoroughly and share as often as possible. Be a proponent of inclusion and watch the beautiful diverse nature of your team and organization carry you all to new heights!

About the Author: With a Bachelor’s in Communications and actively pursuing her Master’s in Complementary Alternative Medicine, Dani has an extensive professional background in the public and private sectors focused in Contracts, Human Resources, QA, and Process. Currently the Procurement Specialist on the amazing Administrative team for KAI Partners, she is working diligently to assist in the successful acquisition of procurements for the company. When her world slows down a bit, she loves scouring for an incredible deal on retro sneakers with her partner in crime, listening to music 24/7, and laughing as much as humanly possible.

How to Engage and Motivate Employees [+INFOGRAPHIC]

Best Practices, Communications, Employee Engagement, General Life/Work, Human Resources, Infographic, KAI Partners, Managing/Leadership, Onboarding, Organizational Change Management (OCM), Small Business, Startup Company, Team Building

Our partners at BambooHR created an infographic outlining what employees really want. According to Bamboo HR, “Employees must be valued and respected at work while maintaining a healthy work-life balance or they won’t stay at a job. As long as employees’ pressing needs—empowerment, flexibility in the workplace and fair wages—are met, they’re more willing to tolerate lesser annoyances.”

So, how do you make sure your workforce is engaged and satisfied? Let’s revisit some tips and tricks for keeping your employees happy, whether during times of organizational change or just in their day-to-day work.

Via: BambooHR

So now we want to know: As an employer, how do you keep your employees happy? And as a employee, what do you want from your employer? Tell us in the comments!

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