Tuesday, March 22, 2016

5 Simple Ways to Motivate Your Employees

The most productive workers in today's workplace are the happy ones. Unfortunately for managers though, properly motivating employees to work hard and be more productive can be a difficult task. On the upside, there are several very simple steps that business owners and managers can take to make improve the morale of their team and help to motivate each member of the team to work more effectively.

In this short post, we will cover 5 super simple ways to build better relationships with your employees, manage them better and motivate them more effectively to produce higher quality work.

1: Focus on Communication

Having a more personal relationship with employees can do a lot to motivate them. If you are thought of as little more than a malevolent power hiding behind an office door, your employees will not be terribly motivated to do their jobs well (or do anything for that matter). On the other hand, if you frequently check in with employees and communicate with them effectively they will feel that they are valued and appreciated.

2: Practice What You Preach

The best way to lead a change in your employees' attitude is to make that change yourself. Avoid speaking negatively about your current projects, the company or of others in the office. Instead try to adopt a positive, enthusiastic attitude. Only after you have demonstrated that you are motivated to perform well will they be willing to work harder. As your employees begin to notice your enthusiasm and dedication to your work, they will follow suit.

3: Respect Their Time

Ineffective time management, task assignment and other blunders can cause employees to lose respect for you and your management practices. Use proper time management and project management tools for employee shift scheduling, manage time off requests, and making sure everyone understands their current tasks and shift schedules.

4: Empower Them to Perform Better

There is often a disconnect between how an employee feels a task should be done, and how a manger tells them to do it. You can avoid this situation by giving your employees more say in how their jobs are performed. Ask for their input on how a task might be accomplished more efficiently and what tools could be used that would make the task easier. As your employees notice you empowering them to perform better, they will become better motivated to work harder and become more productive on their own initiative.

5: Consider Using Incentives

Incentives won't solve your motivation problem on it's own, but use of incentives can work extremely well when coupled with some of the ideas mentioned previously.

Incentives do not have to be expensive or fancy, it can be something simple like tickets to a movie, a paid day off or a gift card. The important part is to show your appreciation for an employee's hard work and dedication to their job. Be sure to give them adequate recognition when they reach milestones or play a major role in achieving goals you have set for your team.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

[Infographic] A Visual Guide to Hacking Your Productivity

Managing time effectively and increasing productivity can be a daunting task both on a professional and a personal level.

Managing your time and the time your team spends at work does not have to be overly complicated though. In fact there are just a few key principles that can drastically improve your productivity in the workplace without impacting your overall work flow.

If you would like to become more productive quickly and easily, this infographic is for you.

Hacking productivity infographic

1: Implement reasonable internet and social media policies

Did you know? - 40% of productivity loss in the workplace is due to non-work related internet surfing.

You don't have to rule the office with an iron fist, but implementing reasonable policies regarding internet use and social media use in the office can increase office productivity drastically.

2: Delegate effectively and avoid micromanagement

You can't do everything - learn and teach others to delegate effectively.

Your team is there for a reason - to handle tasks. Make sure that you are not trying to accomplish everything yourself and let employees do their jobs without unnecessary interference from you or your management team.

3: Make good use of team collaboration tools


Letting your employees collaborate and share ideas can drastically help increase productivity and morale. The more you contribute to effective collaboration in the office, the higher the collective intelligence of your team will be.

4: Use employee scheduling software effectively

This doesn't just go for employees - you need to schedule your own time effectively too.

Using online employee scheduling sofware like Your Next Seven can help save you time and gives you a visual representation of when different employees are working. This can help give you a high-level perspective of potential and existing problems in your employee scheduling, making you aware of inefficiencies in your scheduling so that you can correct them.

5: Use mobile tools whenever possible

Particularly when it comes to employee scheduling and communication, make sure to use tools and software that can be accessed from mobile phones.

This helps give employees and managers easier access to the tools and information they need to work effectively.

6: Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize

It's pretty hard to score when you don't have a goal in place.

Make sure that you have effectively outlined your current goals and priorities, and make sure that your team is fully aware of both your long-term and your short-term goals. That way everyone is on the same page and working toward the same goals.

7: Have some fun

If you never let your employees relax a bit and have some fun they will become overloaded and stressed out, thereby reducing their productivity and the overall morale in the office.

Make sure work gets done, but try to keep the collective attitude positive and relaxed. When employees feel happy and relaxed in the office, they are more likely to work hard without additional guidance from you or your managers.

Even if you only implement a one or two of these productivity tips, you will see massive returns in the productivity and happiness of your employees.

On their own, each of these ideas is useful and beneficial to any office. Put together though, they form a powerful plan for rapidly increasing both your own productivity, but the productivity of your entire team.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Digital Mentors: Top 13 Blogs Every Manager Should Read

Woman reading a blog
Blogs are an awesome way to sharpen your professional skills -  follow these 13 awesome blogs and you'll improve faster than ever!

Being an effective manager requires constant attention to improving your skills and learning new ways to become more effective and motivate your team to become more effective as well. 

One of the easiest ways to improve your management skills is to follow blogs and other online publications that show the tactics used by management and leadership experts so that you can apply them in your own life.

In this article we will cover the top 13 essential blogs every manager should follow to continue improving their management skills.

1: Seth’s Blog  

Seth Godin is a highly regarded entrepreneur, bestselling author and marketer who shares invaluable management and leadership tips as well as musings on the philosophy of running a business.

2:  Great Leadership 

Great Leadership is a blog run by Dan McCarthy. His blog shares invaluable leadership and management tips from a leadership veteran and highly regarded business consultant.

3: Coaching Tip: The Leadership Blog 

Coaching Tip is run by John G. Agno, a longtime leadership coach who helps managers become more aware of their actions and how they can adjust their own behavior to better manage their teams.

4: Lead Change Group 

Lead Change Group provides bite-size chunks of wisdom that are easy to apply in your life. Their topics range from leveraging technology in the workplace to time management and scheduling software, to making the workplace more fun and creating a better culture.

5: John Maxwell on Leadership 

This blog provides leadership advice and strategies from an absolute legend in leadership and management. Definitely worth a look if you are looking for ideas and advice that are super easy to understand and implement, but extremely powerful and effective.

6: Chris Brady’s Leadership Blog 

Bestselling author Chris Brady provides easy to understand, actionable and often times humorous advice on leadership and managing your team better.

7: Noop.nl 

Jurgen Appelo is focused on helping creative companies to survive and thrive in the 21st century by using a more relaxed, fun approach to improving your management skills.

8: Terry St. Marie’s Blog 

Terry takes a very human approach to management and focuses heavily on your relationships with your employees, making them want to follow your lead and making it easier for you to manage them by improving yourself first.

9: Ask A Manager 

Ask A Manager takes a unique question and answer approach to management and leadership blogging. The blog takes questions from real world managers in business and writes a post explaining how to solve that specific problem, and why that is the  best action to take.

10: The Chief Happiness Officer 

Chief Happiness Officer offers a positive outlook on how managers can create a happier team environment that is more enjoyable for everyone, including the managers.

11: Sanders Says 

Bestselling author Tim Sanders’ blog is 50% motivational writing, 50% hardcore management and leadership wisdom. When his blog posts aren’t getting you motivated to improve your management, he is providing you with hard facts and statistics that back up his advice on management and leadership.

12: Work Matters 

Bob Sutton’s blog shows you how you can hold your team to a higher standard without becoming and overbearing boss. How you can produce higher quality results while still maintaining a healthy team dynamic.

13: Life Optimizer 

Last but certainly not least, Life Optimizer takes a holistic view of your management practices along with the habits of your everyday life - giving you ways that you can optimize your personal and professional lives at the same time.

Want more ideas on how you can be a better manager, manage your time better and become more effective in your work? We hope you’ll come back here to the Your Next Seven Blog again soon!

While you’re at it, why not check out Your Next Seven’s employee shift scheduling software? It comes with a 30-day risk free trial, and we’re sure you’ll love it!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

5 Ways to Make Your Employees and Managers More Productive

Productive office and employees

If you sometimes feel that your managers and employees are not as productive as they could be, you are not alone.

Many business owners struggle to make the best use of their team - but very few recognize that they can improve their team’s productivity very quickly and easily. In fact, more often than not the business owners themselves are the reason employees are not reaching their full potential!

In this post we will briefly present 5 ways that you can motivate and empower your team to become more productive.

1: Empower employees and managers

Many times business owners accidentally end up micro-managing everyone and requiring that managers and employees alike run every decision by them before taking action.

This creates a severe information and productivity bottleneck where your employees cannot do their jobs effectively because they are not being given one of the most important tools for their job - the ability to take action.

Remove yourself from the work flow as much as possible, and let your team do their job. Some bigger decisions will need to be approved by you, but by removing yourself from the process for minor tasks and decisions your team will be able to act more quickly and effectively in every aspect of their job.

Additionally, this will free up a lot of your own time and remove a great deal of stress from your job.

2: Effectively communicate current priorities

If your team does not clearly understand what your main goals are, they will be unable to effectively prioritize their tasks to contribute to those main goals.

Make sure that you frequently communicate what your goals are in the coming weeks, months or even years and show them how they can contribute to achieving those goals.

3: Respect your employees and managers time

The most obvious way to prevent your employees and managers from doing their jobs effectively is by using their time inefficiently.

Use modern software like Your Next Seven to save your managers time when scheduling employee shifts and notifying employees of their shift schedules. Scheduling software like Your Next Seven also saves your employees time by making it easy for them to get their schedule, request time off or pick up additional shifts.

Using scheduling software also gives you and your managers a better big-picture view of your scheduling and identify ways to improve scheduling and time management across your team as a whole.

4: Reduce the number of team meetings

Although the intent of having a team meeting may be good, more often than not these meetings are totally unproductive.

Instead of having several meetings throughout the week to address many minor issues, schedule one meeting per week at a consistent time and focus on making that meeting really actionable. Focus on the main issues the team is dealing with, and use this time to reiterate current goals.

Reducing the number of pointless meetings held allows employees to use their shift times more efficiently and get more done, and helps employees feel that you are respecting their time. Keeping meetings to a minimum also helps to convey a very clear and concise message of what your current goals are and what action needs to be taken in order to achieve them within a set period of time.

5: Reduce employee stress and anxiety

If your employees and managers are stressed out in the workplace, it won’t matter how well you implement the previous steps. Stress and anxiety are productivity’s worst enemy.

Many things can contribute to stress in the workplace. Things like rampant gossip among employees, loud and obnoxious coworkers, or just lack of information from management can cause employees to feel stressed out and weary at work.

Try to promote a relaxed and friendly, yet professional, culture in your business. Share information with employees and make sure they feel informed about current events and the direction of the company. Take steps to discourage and prevent gossip in the workplace and other harmful habits.

By reducing the stress your employees feel at work, they will enjoy working more and be more motivated to do a good job. Removing workplace stress also allows employees to really focus on their work, rather than on the things that are stressing them out.

Monday, February 8, 2016

The 7 Deadly Sins of Time Management (And How to Avoid Them)

How to manage time more effectively

Time management is an essential skill for any manager or leader in business. Effective time management can mean the difference between a highly successful day and a totally unproductive one.

The best place to start when you are improving your time management skills is to look at common mistakes and consider how you can avoid making them yourself. In this post we will be reviewing the 7 most common time management blunders that managers make, and how you can guard against them.

1: Poor task prioritization

The ability to assess and prioritize tasks is extremely important in management. At any given time you probably have a hundred different tasks and other things to worry about, which makes it easy for the most important things to slip through the cracks.

Learning to analyze a situation and prioritize tasks according to their importance and urgency will allow you to become a much more effective manager, especially in high-stress situations.

2: Using outdated scheduling and time management tools

With the abundance of time management tools and software available, there is really little excuse for using outdated methods like spreadsheets and paper schedules.

Even when it comes to things like scheduling software, there are many outdated and ineffective solutions out there. Make sure that you have a good online scheduling software solution that is easy to use both for yourself and for your employees. Online scheduling software like Your Next Seven makes it easy to manage your time as well as the time of your employees more quickly and efficiently than other methods.

3: Underestimating the time required for tasks

Even if you have the utmost confidence in your employees and your own abilities, you cannot afford to let that confidence distort your judgement of how long tasks should take.

If you underestimate the time required for a given task, other tasks will suffer because the time spent on the first task will crowd out the others. Additionally, you and your employees may end up feeling overworked because of your unreasonable expectations.

Take time to really consider how long a task will reasonably take before you schedule it. It is also good practice to include a bit of buffer time just in case that task takes longer than expected.

4: Allowing distractions

Distractions encourage procrastination and lack of focus.

If you find that certain things, be it email, social media, or just chatting with coworkers tends to drop productivity, do your best to either remove the distractions altogether or allocate time specifically for those activities.

Many people dedicate a specific time to check email during the day, and disable notifications for the rest of the day. Identify which distractions are causing you to waste or mismanage your time, and eliminate them.

5: Allowing physical clutter in your workspace

Having a cluttered and disorganized workspace tends to make it much harder to focus on current tasks.

On the other hand, a clean and well organized desk or office will contribute to a more relaxed, focused mindset at work which will help you organize your tasks better. Keeping office clutter to a minimum makes it easier to find things you need and tends to improve focus, allowing you to accomplish tasks more quickly and efficiently.

6: Being an excessive DIY-er at work

As a manager, your job is to manage employees who are accomplishing the bulk of the tasks - it is not your job to accomplish all of those tasks yourself.

If you tend to be a bit of a control-freak, you are probably wasting vast amounts of time by not delegating properly. You can only accomplish so much, and taking on too many tasks at once will not allow you to give proper attention to any one task.

Rather than attempting to take control of everything that happens around you, delegate tasks to those who are qualified and provide constructive advice or training as needed. This will allow you to focus more on managing your team than on doing their tasks for them.

7: Multitasking

Multitasking may feel productive, but it rarely is.

More often than not, that feeling you get of being productive when you multitask is just the feeling of being busy. You probably are not really getting very much meaningful work done, you are just doing a lot of small things at once.

Instead of just trying to do a lot of things quickly, focus on doing important things at the right time.

Which of these 7 time management since have you committed? How did you fix it? Let us know in the comments below!

Monday, January 25, 2016

11 Soft Skills Every Manager Must Develop [Infographic]

11 ways to become a better manager

Managers have a tough job. They have a lot on their plate when it comes to both their own tasks and managing and helping employees, and their job takes a lot of skill. So how does one become a truly effective manager?

Effectiveness as a manager cannot be achieved through hard skills alone, like learning Excel. Becoming an effective manager requires a lot of soft skills - learning to manage and motivate people as well as yourself, learning to resolve problems with customers and employees in a mutually beneficial way, and more.

Here we will cover the 11 most important soft skills any manager needs to develop. We’ve included a handy infographic with this post that you can save to your computer and review every so often, or share with a friend or colleague who might find it useful.

Let’s dive in!

11 Soft Skills Every Manager Must Develop Infographic

1: Effective communication

Communication is critical to every aspect of a manager’s job. Being able to listen carefully to employee’s and customer’s thoughts, opinions and complaints is important in order to continue improving your business’s service. It is equally important to learn how you can convey your own thoughts in a clear, non-inflammatory and logical way so that your peers can understand your direction and advice.

2: Time management

Time management is another skill that often goes unnoticed. As a manager, you are responsible for keeping the wheels and gears of the business turning. If you cannot manage your own time or your employees time efficiently, productivity (and profits) will drop like a rock. Thankfully there are many tools you can use to manage you and your employee’s time more effectively. Tools like Google Calendar or Your Next Seven make it easy to keep everyone informed of what needs to happen and when.

3: Control of body language

If you are in a bad mood and cannot control your body language, your employees and customers will know it. It will make you unapproachable, cutting off communication with the people around you and preventing you from really understanding current problems. This adds up to you being uninformed and incapable of performing well, thanks to not having all of the necessary information.

4: Effective delegation

You cannot do all of the work yourself. At some point, you have to trust your employees to do their jobs and let them take care of things for you. Learning to delegate effectively can be difficult, especially if you are very particular about how things are done. But learning to delegate often and well will save you a lot of time, stress and money.

5: *Constructive* criticism

Criticism is essential to the success of any business. It is the only way employees will ever really know to improve their performance. The important thing here is to make criticism constructive and beneficial to the employee. Simply berating someone because they did not do their job correctly does not solve the problem and de-motivates them to do better next time. Instead, learn to calmly explain why their performance is an issue, and offer suggestions on how they could improve.

6: A results-oriented attitude

Those in a position of authority often find it difficult to yield to other’s opinions and methods. Remember though that your end goal is to grow the business - not to prove that you were right. Cultivating a results-oriented attitude will allow you to focus on outcomes rather than methods. This prevents you from insisting on doing things your way, when an employee may indeed have a better idea.

7: Willingness to learn

Assuming that you are right 100% of the time is the surest way to prove that you are not, in fact, always right. Recognize that other people may have knowledge that you do not possess, and be eager to learn from those with more experience. A willingness to learn allows you to adapt and refine your management skills and continually become a better leader for your team.

8: Willingness and desire to teach

This goes hand-in-hand with constructive criticism. Being unwilling to teach your employees in a kind way stunts their growth and prevents your team from really achieving success. Being eager and willing to share your knowledge with your employees makes you more approachable, and contributes to the continued success of your employees.

9: Unbiased critical thinking

Being able to step back and view a problem objectively is important in management. If you constantly allow your decisions and logic to be colored by your own emotions, you will never really be sure that you are making choices that will provide the most benefit to the company. You may actually be making choices that just showcase your own personality and skills, or choices that merely cover up a mistake.

10: Proper social etiquette

Proper etiquette and common courtesy go a long way toward a healthy and happy relationship with your customers and employees. Small, polite gestures can make a world of difference in your customer service and management. Being polite and kind to the individuals you come into contact with will make people enjoy being around you more and will make you a more approachable manager.

11: Objective and constructive self-criticism

In order to improve your management skills, you will need to be able to really look at yourself and understand where you need improvement. At that point, you need to look at those issues objectively and say ‘Okay, now what can I do to fix this weakness?’ Learning to critique your own skills and personality in a constructive and objective manner will contribute to your continued success as a manager.

Call to action!

Which of these skills do you appreciate most in a boss or manager? Which one do you think you most need to improve on? Let us know in the comments section below!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Top 7 Must-Have Restaurant WebApps for 2016

Woman in cafe using her mobile phone

Every year a slew of new web applications are released to help business owners and employees alike to become more productive. Thanks to these advances we now have a wide array of tools that help us to work better, work faster, or just work less.

Which ones do you actually need though?

In this article we will be covering the top 15 must-have web apps for your restaurant in 2016. Some of these services are brand new, others have been around for years. Regardless of their age though, they are guaranteed to improve your workflow and save you and your restaurant money.

1: Locu

Locu is an all-in-one solution for getting your restaurant listed in local business directories, review sites, local Facebook groups and more. For a low monthly fee this GoDaddy-owned service will keep your restaurant information, address, menu and more updated across all major directories, groups and review sites.

2: Buffer or Hootsuite

By now everyone knows that pictures of food are pretty popular on social media sites like Instagram and Twitter. Why not take advantage of that and have photos of your restaurant’s best dishes posted to your social media accounts?

Buffer and Hootsuite both provide easy management of multiple social media accounts. Post across several accounts simultaneously, schedule posts and manage mentions and more. These webapps help you increase local awareness for your restaurant and get more customers in the door.

3: An online shift calendar like Your Next Seven

One of the top management time wasters for restaurants and other establishments is having to manually schedule employee shifts either on paper or in an Excel spreadsheet.

An online shift calendar like Your Next Seven helps you recover all of that lost time. Online shift calendar apps like Your Next Seven allow you to create, manage and edit employee shift schedules. Online shift calendars also allow your employees to check their schedules from their phone, request time off, and pick up extra shifts that have been dropped.

All of this adds up to a massive amount of time saved for your managers, and a massive amount of money saved for you. Online shift calendars reduce the amount of time your managers spend on scheduling shifts, contacting employees, answering questions about shift schedules and rearranging shift schedules for time off requests.

4: OpenTable

OpenTable allows it’s users to make reservations with local restaurants online. Getting your restaurant listed on OpenTable helps you to fill all of your tables more consistently and keep customers coming in the door even on slow nights.

5: FoodSpotting

FoodSpotting gives users pictures of each dish on your menu and shows potential diners where to find your restaurant. This gives people in your local area a clear idea of the kind of food you serve and the quality of your restaurant’s food.

By making good use of FoodSpotting you can bring in lots of hungry customers who are excited to try your newest and most renowned foods.

6: AppCoco

Do you wish your restaurant had a mobile app, but don’t have money to pay for one to be developed? AppCoco is the answer to your prayers.

For just $20 per month, AppCoco will allow you to create a fully functional mobile app for your restaurant. The app takes less than an hour to create, is instantly available and gives customers easy access to your menu and online ordering.

7: ChowNow

ChowNow allows you to easily create an online ordering form that you can embed in your existing website, your Facebook page or a mobile app.

ChowNow is a push-button solution to online ordering for your restaurant and handles all payments for you.

If 2016 is your year to grow your local restaurant, you can be sure that using even one of these webapps will catapult your restaurant to success.

Call to action:

Which one of these webapps do you plan on using? Which ones have you used before and why did you like them? Tell us in the comments!