5 Phases of Crew Growth: What You Have to Know

5 Phases of Crew Growth: What You Have to Know

“Nice issues in enterprise are by no means executed by one individual. They’re executed by a workforce of individuals.” – Steve Jobs

It doesn’t matter what your group does or sells. At its core is human expertise.

And for your small business to succeed, it’s essential to foster the best workforce dynamics.

As nice enterprise leaders know, you possibly can’t assume that people will type a cohesive workforce that works collectively to attain enterprise targets. No matter how proficient every one is.

It’s subsequently crucial for enterprise homeowners to grasp that their success is dependent upon understanding the varied personalities, communication types, and instruments every individual has, eliminating distractions and empowering them to contribute in direction of a typical aim.

This text will discover the 5 levels of workforce improvement together with some sensible suggestions from leaders who’ve been there.

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Let’s leap in.

Constructing efficient groups and the significance of workforce improvement

In a Deloitte survey, 94% of senior executives and 88% of workers acknowledged that office dynamics is necessary for reaching enterprise targets.

In consequence, fashionable organizations have tried to create and nurture a tradition that motivates and engages their staff.

Over time, Human Useful resource improvement has transitioned from a comparatively new educational self-discipline to an integral and important a part of each group. Researchers, consultants, and practitioners are frequently showcasing new practices based mostly on psychological knowledge to assist firms construct the appropriate groups to succeed.

“Crew Constructing” grew to become the buzzword years in the past however do we actually know the way an environment friendly workforce is created?

Tuckman’s mannequin of the 5 levels of workforce improvement stays one of the vital influential fashions on this regard.

What are the 5 levels of workforce improvement?

Briefly: forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning.

In 1965, outstanding psychologist, Bruce W. Tuckman launched the phrase “forming, storming, norming, and performing,” as Four distinct levels of workforce formation, in an article titled Growth Sequence in Small Teams.

The importance of this mannequin mirrored the rising significance of workforce constructing within the office, in addition to the shortage of analysis within the area up to now.

In 1977, Tuckman added an extra fifth stage, adjourning, additionally known as “mourning” in some texts, to finish the mannequin we all know right now.

5 Phases of Crew Growth

Crew improvement stage #1: Forming

That is the section the place workforce members are first launched to one another.

Crew members are motivated in regards to the begin of a brand new mission, however nonetheless uninformed in regards to the targets and total tradition of the group.

The extra mature members within the group will try and get into discussions in regards to the scope of the duty and methods to method it. As members develop into accustomed to their roles and obligations, workforce leaders want to deal with this stage fastidiously, laying a strong basis for the subsequent levels. However how?

  • Orientation periods are widespread throughout all places of work so whilst you’re internet hosting yours, concentrate on the individuals and workforce construction greater than the work to be executed at this stage. Let the brand new workforce member know who they will contact for several types of questions.
  • Based on a report on the Harvard Enterprise Evaluate, one of the vital highly effective instruments to determine an setting that bolsters teamwork is creating a way of similarity. Members ought to be allowed to work together with one another in addition to with your complete workforce, speaking about their expertise, backgrounds, and pursuits.

Different steps you need to take at this section:

  • Introduce the mission, its scope, and timeline.
  • Set up clear, identifiable roles for every workforce member.
  • Handle new workforce members in individual, conveying the model tradition and firm imaginative and prescient to them. This creates a way of belonging and clears up excellent considerations.

Mellstock operations director and high HR skilled Emily Trescothick is somebody who has seen the nice, the unhealthy, and the ugly in terms of workforce improvement.

Enterprise

Right here’s what Emily mentioned about this section:

“Ah the forming stage! That is the place so many organizations get it mistaken from the outset.

Most organizations are in such a rush to get the work began, that new workforce members don’t even get a correct orientation. I’ve seen new workforce members sitting alone at an empty desk with none tools, not even figuring out the names of their workforce members.

It goes with out saying that it is a recipe for catastrophe.

Take day out to make sure that new workforce members are comfy, assured, and joyful of their new work house. Fashionable firms will usually present a welcome pack containing firm t-shirts, pens, and devices to accompany their welcome session.”

To have the ability to go on to the subsequent stage, it’s necessary that workforce members know who they need to attain out to for assist and what they will begin engaged on instantly.

TIP: Totally make the most of digital onboarding in case you can. Trello has even created a specialised new worker onboarding template. That is what it appears to be like like:

5 Phases of Crew Growth

Talmundo is one other onboarding software program that digitalizes all of your onboarding associated paperwork, gives consumer roadmaps, enjoyable quizzes, FAQ assist boards and straightforward communication instruments to your new rent.

Crew improvement stage #2: Storming

After every workforce member has been assigned a selected function, energy equations come into play.

Hierarchies are arrange.

That is the stage the place each workforce member has fashioned an opinion in regards to the character, expertise, and integrity of fellow co-workers. They’ll establish their strengths and flaws, and both study to embrace them or keep away from them altogether.

The fact and weight of the mission timeline begins to sink in. Work begins and discussions that transfer the mission ahead happen. Character clashes are anticipated at this stage, which is why conflicts come up. Companies shouldn’t attempt to forestall or hush these conflicts as they’re the supply of progressive concepts and options. As an alternative, this stage requires the utmost consideration of workforce leaders to resolve inner conflicts.

Some steps to take at this stage are:

  • Addressing conflicts and resolving them early on.
  • Encouraging communication and compromises amongst workforce members, significantly between those that have expressed considerations relating to particular individuals.
  • Staying dedicated to the targets and main by instance. Nobody ought to be given an excuse to not respect the workforce chief.
  • Organizing suggestions periods to map whether or not motivation ranges are low or whether or not somebody is uncomfortable with the method the workforce chief is taking.

Storming – A essential section in your workforce improvement technique

On the finish of those suggestions periods, many leaders discover workforce members doubting their very own capabilities and pissed off with the workload. It’s necessary to contemplate right here that these people come from various backgrounds and may not pay attention to firm tradition and even workplace processes.

Mentoring or teaching is an idea that comes into play right here.

Sadly, this doesn’t all the time happen within the 2019 office.

New leaders could also be so enamored with cutting-edge expertise, that they have an inclination to overlook the significance of mentoring in response to an Inc. article.

Key steps at this stage embrace:

  • Clearing any doubts relating to worker roles.
  • Speaking the significance of every member’s function in workforce efficiency.
  • Speaking how job efficiency is related to promotions and alternatives, in addition to the success of the corporate.
  • Being extra accessible to your direct experiences.

Crew improvement stage #3: Norming

The storm has now handed.

Individuals who can transfer previous conflicts and disagreements will now type intimate friendships with colleagues.

They may have the ability to compensate for areas wherein fellow workforce members lack experience and work collectively in direction of a typical aim.

People can even begin respecting the authority of the workforce chief. The primary workforce outcomes will seem, which workforce members will rejoice whereas being motivated to work more durable to beat any failures. It’s necessary for a workforce chief to make sure that members don’t share controversial concepts or get into any conflicts at this stage.

To realize this:

  • Encourage common workforce discussions. Some groups discover success with common stand-up conferences or weekly check-ins. Others desire to “meet as wanted,” guaranteeing extra flexibility for his or her groups.
  • Have a good time successes with workforce members and put aside time for dealing with grievances or miscommunication challenges.
  • Don’t resort to emotional outbursts in case of setbacks, keep calm and contemplate learn how to enhance outcomes sooner or later.
  • Take away hurdles to mission completion, akin to technological or ability gaps with coaching or software program/hardware upgrades.
  • Take note of creativity and be aware if somebody who’s often very eager to take part is all of the sudden quiet.

As artistic director, I work with firms to enhance their advertising communications and content material. One space that may actually undergo in the course of the norming section is creativity. To maintain collaboration and creativity a central focus, try these profitable workforce communication methods.

Crew improvement stage #4: Performing

That is the stage the place members are assured sufficient to meet their obligations with out supervision.

Everyone seems to be on the identical web page and dealing in unison to method the tip of the mission timeline.

That is the stage of most productiveness and effectivity the place roles develop into extra useful and versatile. On the similar time, that is additionally a interval when workforce leaders can anticipate dissent and frustration from members. Even probably the most high-performing groups can revert to the storming section beneath growing workloads and deadline pressures.

To take care of these conditions:

  • Delegate obligations and take part within the workforce, fairly than simply supervising it.
  • Watch out about introducing a change in management at this stage, because it may herald conflicts and take the group again to the preliminary levels of workforce improvement. In case you do, keep in mind what you carried out within the first stage and reinforce roles and obligations right here.
  • Permit for flexibility in roles, duties, and even working hours if it is smart to your workforce.
  • Towards the tip of the mission, workforce members can develop into demotivated or just exhausted. It’s the job of the workforce chief to maintain morale excessive.

workforce

commerce.io chief advertising officer Helen Astaniou heads up a big and dynamic workforce within the fast-paced world of monetary and crypto buying and selling. Right here’s what Helen advises:

“It’s truly such a easy equation.

Completely happy individuals are extra productive, extra artistic, and extra constructive in reaching a model’s total targets.

So, they want optimistic, proactive leaders to information them via robust deadlines and worrying conditions. In case you’re watching your workforce wrestle from the security of your glass workplace, you then’re not going to see nice outcomes.

Get entangled. Stay calm and provide to help with mission duties, even when it’s one thing so simple as making everybody espresso. We’re all on this collectively, a shared workload resulting in a shared success.”

Crew improvement stage #5: Adjourning

Tuckman and Mary Ann Conover Jensen introduced on this fifth stage of workforce improvement after reviewing literature in 1977. They recognized that the concept of “separation” stays an necessary situation amongst workforce members all through the cycle.

At this stage, the workforce disbands after having accomplished the mission deliverables and remaining formalities. Many members may have grown shut and can cherish the expertise. Conflicting feelings may come up right here, with these afraid of change changing into flustered about future uncertainties. As one mission ends, one other may be beginning up, both with the identical workforce or new gamers added.

What may assist at this stage is:

  • Congratulating members on profitable completion of the mission.
  • Giving rewards to those that have carried out exceptionally effectively.
  • Reflecting on achievements and scope for enchancment.
  • Planning a leisure outing with members to rejoice mission completion.
  • Entering into reassuring discussions about future tasks.

Emily mirrored on this section, providing the next recommendation:

“All too usually when a mission is accomplished, the workforce leaders will simply stroll away. Or worse nonetheless, privately rejoice their very own success.

If you would like your workforce to carry out effectively on the subsequent mission, then you must take note of your dealing with of their success.

I like to recommend an offsite morning or workforce day to rejoice success and replicate on areas that might be improved subsequent time. This is a chance to attract a line beneath the mission, reward your workforce and take a breath earlier than the subsequent project.”

In case your workforce isn’t multi functional place, make celebrating wins a key a part of your tradition. Providing extrinsic rewards on the completion of a job or just recognizing workforce members can contribute to elevated worker happiness — a key measure of engagement.”

Out of sight, out of thoughts? Relevance within the age of digital high-performance groups

The forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning mannequin gives a definitive information to team-building and engagement in organizations. It has helped fashionable HR groups perceive the necessity to transition from particular person productiveness to group cohesiveness in supporting enterprise targets.

However, how effectively does the mannequin serve on this age of digital or distant groups? Properly, 65% of distant workers recommend that they’ve by no means been a part of workforce improvement actions.

Over 16.5 million individuals within the U.S. alone, together with freelancers and distant staff, type what is called the “gig financial system.” The nice factor is that Tuckman’s mannequin is accessible, straightforward to grasp, and versatile sufficient to be utilized to completely different settings.

New applied sciences, akin to Basecamp, Designzoneguru Duties, Trello, and plenty of different such cloud-based mission and job administration software program, are enabling groups to doc conversations, preserve up to date data and facilitate communication between workers and digital groups. Methodologies like agile mission administration may help hold groups in sync and rising with ease.

So, in 2019 the 5 workforce improvement levels mannequin continues to be related, it simply must make the most of fashionable expertise to be sensible.

What do you concentrate on the 5 levels of workforce improvement? Has your organization adopted this course of? Remark under and tell us your ideas.

The Top Growth Strategies From Your Favorite Startups

The Top Growth Strategies From Your Favorite Startups

If you’re leading or part of a startup, you likely look up to companies like Slack, Netflix, and Airbnb.

It seems like they came from nowhere and were instantly propelled to the dizzying heights of success.

Right?

Actually, no.

Our favorite startups had winning growth strategies from the outset. Their success was well crafted and supremely executed.

This article will explore the winning growth strategies from your favorite startups, with some takeaway lessons we can all use.

It all starts with a discipline called growth hacking.

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What is growth hacking?

Growth hacking is the process of experimenting with and implementing marketing strategies that are solely focused on efficient and rapid business growth.

The emphasis being on “rapid.” The term was coined by GrowthHackers CEO and Founder Sean Ellis back in 2010, nearly a decade ago.

Is growth hacking just another marketing buzzword? (Yes, we hate those, too).

Fortunately, it’s not.

It’s not only startups using growth hacking techniques. Any business of any age can implement growth hacking techniques without the need for huge marketing budgets.

“The real question is not what growth rate makes a company a startup, but what growth rate successful startups tend to have. For founders, that’s more than a theoretical question because it’s equivalent to asking if they’re on the right path.”

Read Startup Growth by Paul Graham for some valuable insights.

Growth hacking – The basics

Leading business consultant and owner of Fail4Wrd John Lewis is an expert on growing successful businesses fast. Here’s what he says about getting the basics right:

john lewis headshot growth hacking

“The first thing for any startup is to understand their target audience and customer profile.

Not just by the usual demographics of age, gender, income, education, and occupation, but by what search queries they would be using when looking for your product and what websites they browse.

The better you know your customer, the better you can prepare the necessary marketing communications and channels to locate and convert them. Once you know your customer and where they hang out, you will need to build marketing communication that really connects and inspires your audience to engage with your brand.”

Pirate metrics

Want an easy way to remember the basics of growth hacking? Many growth hackers focus on “pirate metrics” or AARRR!

Acquisition — Where are your users coming from?
Activation — How good is the user’s / customer’s first experience?
Retention — How many of your customers are you retaining and losing?
Referral — How can you turn customers into advocates?
Revenue — How can you increase revenue?

Now that you know the basics, explore these growth hacking examples from some of the most well-known and respected startups. Hopefully, they will give you ideas or at least inspiration for your own growth hacking.

Example 1 – Slack

slack logo

Slack growth hacking stats

Launched in 2013, Slack is a cloud-based collaboration hub founded by Stewart Butterfield.

  • 1.25+ million paid users
  • Trial to paid conversion rate of 30%
  • The fastest growing SaaS company — of all time
  • $0 to $4 BILLION in just 4 years
  • 77% of the Fortune 100 using their software
  • 4 million active daily users

Stats source

Slack strategy

Slack did not use cold-calling and lead generation and nurturing campaigns for their growth hacking strategy.

So how did they do it? Let’s begin by mentioning that Slack has an experienced founding team.

Butterfield co-founded Slack with Eric Costello, Cal Henderson, and Serguei Mourachov, all of whom helped build photo-sharing site Flickr.

Today, Slack is worth more than 100 times the selling figure of Flickr.

Timing was everything for Slack.

Launching in 2013 when headlines like “Stop Email Overload” (Harvard Business Review) and “Be A Bitch On Email, Or Be Email’s Bitch” (TechCrunch) were rife.

But their main growth hacking strategy was to optimize for PQLs (product-qualified leads) instead of optimizing for MQLs (marketing-qualified leads) or SQLs (sales-qualified leads).

That meant they focused on driving signups instead of growing a massive database of dead users.

One of the growth strategies they employed was the free product version.

Pricing only kicks in when you unlock more features like storage or app integrations. This is a tactic used by many SaaS companies.

And they created an easy, playful brand that sets out to simplify your day.

Instead of blasting users with jargon, they provided simple slogans, ads, and landing pages. This is something the brand did well and maintains today.

slack imagery growth hacking examples

Instead of getting people to understand their product’s value through pushy sales techniques, Slack showed its value through simple copy, easy signup forms, friendly adverts, and consistent branding.

Butterfield was also keen to scale up safely, opting for paid ads instead of in-house staff.

“In a sales driven organization, it’s hard to rev up the speed because you have to hire more salespeople. And if you ever want to stop, you have to lay all those people off, which is a horrible situation to be in.”

Lessons Learned

Word-of-mouth: Create a great product that people love and make it easy for them to share it with colleagues, friends, and peers.

Utilize paid advertising: Paid advertising, especially as part of your social media plan, is a cost-effective way to circulate your product without the need for expensive in-house sales staff.

Continue to monopolize: That sounds like wickedness, doesn’t it? Actually, it makes sense. By integrating a host of apps and features and continually growing, Slack makes itself more powerful and indispensable.

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Example 2 – Netflix

netflix logo

Netflix growth hacking stats

Netflix was launched in April 1998 as the world’s first online DVD rental store, with 30 employees and 925 titles available.

Today, it is the largest streaming service in the world. From zero to hero, here are Netflix growth hacking stats:

  • Netflix has 148 million users worldwide
  • In one quarter, Netflix added half as many new subscribers as Hulu has total subscribers
  • Netflix is the fastest-growing brand of 2019; its value grew 105% over the past year to $21.2 billion
  • Over 50% of Americans have Netflix
  • Netflix initially only received $2 million in venture capital funding
  • Just three years later, it raised $50 million with 3 backers

Netflix strategy

Netflix is now a household name.

It’s also an excellent example of growth hacking over a longer period. In this case, 21 years!

It serves as an inspiration to existing business owners who want to scale up, increase their offering, and become globally renowned.

Netflix’s rise coincided with the fall of Blockbuster in 2010 as the latter neglected preparing for the future. But what growth strategies did Netflix employ?

First, Netflix is skilled at utilizing data and analytics tools to recommend videos to users. This is something the company began doing in 2000. They do this via users in the platform itself as shown below:

netflix customer growth hacking example

And via email: 

netflix growth hacking examples email

This does two things:

  1. Keeps us coming back for more.
  2. Makes us feel understood and valued.

In the last 20 years Netflix has adapted to ever-changing customer demands and behaviors, keeping it at the top of our favorites list.

Netflix is also a master of experimentation, and growth hacking is all about figuring out the fastest ways for growth through rapid experimentation across marketing channels.

While his company enjoys unparalleled subscriber success, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings is worried that his widely loved streaming service is having too many hit shows.

“It’s a sign we’re not trying enough crazy things. We should take more risks,” Hastings said.

Netflix making more obscure shows to see how their subscribers react to it is the best example of beautiful and confident growth hacker marketing.

Especially because they are evolving and learning from the results.

Netflix was one of the first to introduce Facebook connect in the year 2011 when a lot of brands were not even confident of having a social media presence. Again, Netflix demonstrated an aptitude for risk.

Lastly, let’s not overlook the company’s competitive price point. In comparison with other streaming and viewing options, Netflix is highly competitive at $7.99-$10.99 per month. Netflix has maintained users amid price increases and therefore been able to grow revenue at a faster pace than its subscriber base is growing.

Hulu (includes streaming library) $39.99
Philo $16–$20
Sling Television $25–$40+
YouTube TV $40+

Lessons learned

  • Create breakout channels: Netflix Originals have ruled the space with shows like Stranger Things and Black Mirror. To promote Black Mirror, Netflix launched an app called Rateme, which was a complete downfall of the show’s first season. They also made a web tool for the promotion of Stranger Things. This in addition to numerous cast interviews, behind the scenes and promos, really helped to turn the show viral. It helps that both shows are amazing.
  • Track everything: Netflix tracks what you’re browsing, the time you’re browsing it at, what type of shows you watch at what time of the week when you rewind, how often you pause and a ton more. Today, businesses need to allow user data to guide them in making recommendations, creating content, and communicating with users. Google Analytics can help you track visitor actions and behaviors so you can produce better targeted messaging.
  • Always be innovating: One thing that Netflix has consistently excelled at is content innovation and apparent immunity to fear. Growth hackers know that they must continually innovate, especially with content, to hit the Netflix sweet spot.

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Example #3 – Airbnb

airbnb logo

Airbnb growth hacking stats

Airbnb was founded in 2008 by Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia, and Nate Blecharczyk.

Since then it has growth hacked its way to 150 million users covering more than 65,000 cities. It started small but it has grown significantly since then.

  • Airbnb has 31 offices across the world
  • Airbnb has hosted 400 million guests since its launch
  • Latest predictions indicate that by 2020, Airbnb’s profit could be around 8.5 billion
  • In 2016, they increased their number of guest arrivals to 80,000,000 (up from 21,000 in 2009)
  • Airbnb has 150 million active users

Airbnb strategy

We can’t talk about Airbnb’s growth hacking without mentioning the Airbnb Craigslist hack.

When Airbnb first started out, nobody had heard of them, but everyone was using Craigslist to find accommodation.

Airbnb implemented a bit of growth hacking magic. The company gave accommodation providers a way to copy their listings to Craigslist with a single click, verify their listing, and post an accommodation ad. That put Airbnb right in front of their target for free, which resulted in amazing growth.

airbnb craigslist ad examples

However, Airbnb’s growth hacking is largely focused around its users.

And considering 92% of people say that they find recommendations from a peer more compelling than advertising, they are quite right to take this approach. For the services Airbnb offers, the power of recommendations was critical for accelerating their growth.

Customers became trusted brand advocates new customers really want and need to hear from.

As Jason Bosinoff, Airbnb engineering manager, said, “Airbnb experiences are so personal. People use Airbnb to unlock incredible experiences — anything from weekend getaways with friends, cultural exchanges, and once-in-a-lifetime events like honeymoons.”

And the referral approach is highly personal, which is why Airbnb’s referral program is so successful.

To start, Airbnb offered travel credit incentives for referral only to their existing 2,161 existing members. Airbnb offered $25 when a referred friend rents from Airbnb and $75 when a referred friend lists his or her property for rent on the site.

And what happened? 2,107 new members joined!

This 1:1 growth ratio was a clear indication that this program would likely be a success.

Cleverly, this eliminates those looking for free dollars and increases referrals of people who would travel.

Lessons learned

airbnb instagram post for growth hacking

  • Create a referral program: Think about creating your own referral program. Here’s how Airbnb did it.
  • Utilize social sharing: Airbnb is an expert when it comes to Instagram and Facebook. They again encourage user-curated content to promote their business on social networks.
  • Know your audience: Airbnb knows that their target audience won’t appreciate heavy-handed, boring content or pushy sales techniques. Their content is playful, exciting, and enticing for those considering their next vacation.
  • Utilize video to build trust: YouTube is a proven trust builder and 80% of customers prefer watching a video to reading about a product. Encourage user videos, behind the scenes and review videos to help sell your product or service.

Your turn for growth hacking

The key growth hacking techniques employed by Slack, Netflix and Airbnb are not expensive, but they do require effort and expertise.

By implementing data analysis, social media recommendations, partner programs, and constant innovation, your company can also growth hack its way to success.

For further guidance, check out this checklist.

Which is your favorite growth hacking example? Comment below or tweet us @Hubstaff.

Business Goals for Startups: What You Need to Know [With Examples]

Business Goals for Startups: What You Need to Know [With Examples]

In a startup like Hubstaff, there are thousands of things that need to be done, and thousands more after that.

Part of the battle of running a successful business is spending your valuable time on things that matter.

That starts by determining your goals.

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What are business goals?

The easiest definition of a business goal is the main reason why your business exists. What made you start the company?

Answering this is one of the first and most important steps to business growth.

Of course, there are different types of business goals, and understanding them will make it easier for you to identify your true priorities and accomplish them.

Types of business goals

A good understanding of the different kinds of business goals will help you set objectives and create accurate plans.

Goals can be split into two main categories: short-term and long-term business goals.

Long-term goals are what you aim for your business to achieve typically in one year or more. Short-term goals are the ones that help you get there.

Financial goals

For entrepreneurs, establishing financial goals is often the first course of action when creating plans.

This is especially true for small businesses and startups, as cash flow can fluctuate in the first few months or years.

Finances are one of the most reliable metrics that can help you identify how much your business has grown over a specific period of time. Read our guide on business balance sheet.

Human resource goals

Human resource (HR) goals concern everything about your team.

These include how large you need your team to be, the particular specializations your future employees should have, and the training programs you will provide to them.

Brand goals

The first years of a startup are crucial in establishing a unique brand identity.

The products or services that you offer aren’t the only ways to attract clients and potential customers.

Hubstaff, for example, is a time tracker software but is known to be a company that greatly values freedom as a core value at work.

Considering brand goals is one way to further connect with customers through shared values, and grow your business.

Product goals

Product goals aim to help in the development of your products and services, which serve as your primary business driver.

If you are a SaaS company, a good example of a product goal would be having a list of features your software should have after a year or two.

The different type of business goals mentioned above can help you determine which priorities you want to go after. You can use them as a reference for adjustments and future decisions, and they can aid in creating the right strategies for accomplishing your company goals and objectives.

A proven method of prioritizing goals

At Hubstaff, we use the Theory of Constraints for priority management to be able to reach our goals.

The Theory of Constraints is a business priority matrix that seeks to align all tasks towards goals, eventually compounding to successfully achieve a major goal. This can only be achieved with an understanding of current problems and how to resolve them.

Once you have identified your business goals, you can begin to develop the tasks you need to accomplish them. As shown in the graphic below, each of your tasks must be directly correlated to your goals.

Use the Theory of Constraints to Align Business Goals and Daily Tasks
The key to mastering this process is to identify and complete the tasks that align with your major goal. Below is a quick guide on how to identify the correct tasks to focus on, which will help you accomplish your end goal.

How to identify and achieve business goals and objectives with the Theory of Constraints [Examples]

The traditional application of the Theory of Constraints is for factories and businesses that have complex dependencies. However, a simplified version can easily be applied to startups and small businesses.

This business priority matrix can have large benefits for your business when executed correctly.

The key to utilizing the Theory of Constraints is to identify “blockers” in your business and kill them.

If you can do this, then you can increase the output of your business and eliminate factors that aren’t contributing to reaching your goal.

Free bonus: Download Hubstaff’s actual strategy document.

Eliminate Blockers
Correctly identifying blockers is challenging.

To make things easier, we’re going to share with you a quick exercise you can use to identify blockers and build plans of action to kill them. By the end of this article, you should have much more clarity about what steps you should take to identify and accomplish your business goals.

Step 1 – Define your 12-month goal

There’s a lot of advice out there for goal setting, so this article is just going to touch on a few points.

  1. This goal can apply to anything. Your goal can be to hire a team of 7 superstars, get more leads, bring in more revenue, get more customers, lower stress in the workplace, or anything else that will result in business success.
  2. You need to live, breathe and believe your goals. Manifestation is a good practice. This refers to seeing something as true, so your subconscious drives you to do what you need to in order to make it true. For example, if you believe you’re an entrepreneur, you will act like one, and eventually become one. But don’t forget: you must be able to accurately visualize the goal.
  3. Your organization needs to revisit the goal regularly, whether it’s monthly, daily or hourly. You need to be tied to it, and put everything behind it. Drop the tasks that aren’t directly tied to achieving a goal.
  4. Goals must be:
    1. Achievable = Ambition is a powerful driving force, but it works best when combined with being realistic.
    2. Desirable = You need to be sincere about wanting your goals, and willing to dedicate your time and effort to them.
    3. Believable = You must have the confidence that you can and will get there.

Keep these in mind at all times, and you will be able to focus on your goals much easier.

Step 2 – List your blockers

List out all the obstacles that are currently preventing you from reaching your goal. Think of it as a brainstorming session. Although it’s easy to get caught up and carried away in this step, focus on listing things out.

For this post, let’s use Hubstaff as an example. Our goal was to earn $70,000 in monthly recurring revenue in 12 months.

list your blockers

These are the things that are top-of-mind and blocking you from reaching your goal.

The obstacles above are broad strokes that were blocking Hubstaff from hitting our goal of $70,000 MRR.

Let’s look closer at one of the blockers listed above: we are not converting enough trials into paying subscribers. At this point, we were converting approximately 20 percent, which is acceptable, but we can do a lot better.

Step 3 – Convert blockers into their opposites (90-day goals)

The next step is to take each of your obstacles and reverse them into their ideal counterparts.

So, from the example above:

  • Our obstacle – We were not converting enough trials into paying subscribers
  • Its positive version – We have a trial to paid conversion rate of 35 percent (what we’re aiming for)

These positive statements then become your intermediate objectives. You can consider them as 90-day goals. It takes a little longer to reach these, so give yourself some time.

Here’s what our map for Hubstaff looked like at this point (created using Xmind):

Hubstaff Mindmap

Now we’re getting somewhere.

The map will begin to clarify which areas you need to work on. Read these positive statements out loud, and you can see what needs attention in your business.

But we’re not done yet. Let’s dig deeper.

Step 4 – Uncover the 30-day projects

This is where the majority of the work will take place. It will also be where discoveries will be made and benefits will be identified. In this step, we start to hammer out all the possibilities to solve the problem.

In this example, the positive statement was, “We have a trial to paid conversion rate of 35 percent.”

The next step is to brainstorm the various scenarios that need to happen for the positive statements to become true.

Ask yourself, “How can I make this happen?”

In our case, how do we get a 35 percent conversion rate vs. the 20 percent we are currently at? We could do a few things:

  • Call or Skype each trial user
  • Reach out personally via email
  • Confirm that the correct people are signing up for trials in the first place
  • Help their employees get onboarded

Did you notice how this process naturally drags out the answers?

These become your 30-day projects.

Step 5 – Build the task list

In this step, write down all the things that need to happen to accomplish each project. Consider these the action items that you’ll be working on day-to-day.

There’s a chance that you’ll end up with too many tasks in this step, and that’s okay.

It’s valuable to have these steps documented so you can revisit them later. Prioritize your list and make sure the most important tasks get finished.

How the Theory of Constraints paid off for us

When we revisited this article, as expected, we had a completely new set of goals and constraints based on a higher objective.

Here’s what our goals and constraints looked like for 2016.

Goal = 140k MRR by Dec 31, 2016 across all products:

  • Projects (Now called Hubstaff Tasks)
  • Hubstaff

Constraints

  • No one is using Tasks
  • Price per client is low
    • We are only selling 22% of people on the premium features
    • Pricing is only $5
  • Don’t have a scalable system for generating leads
  • Not truly doubling down on what’s working
  • Don’t have A+ blog
  • Only 18% of trials are converting to paid users
    • Not converting enough trials because there are too many steps, it’s a confusing UI, no simple web-based timer, bad funnel emails, getting employees to agree to use it, etc.
  • The product is too “niched”
    • Lacking features like per-project budgets, invoices, attendance, daily email summary, faster integration sync, etc.
  • Top of the funnel isn’t large enough. Need to improve SEO, content marketing, advertising, sales outreach tactics, loyal audiences, etc.

Then, we took those constraints and create a larger system that looks like this:

2016 theory of constraints business goals map hubstaff

As we approached this new set of goals and tasks, we also looked at our process for areas to improve.

In the past, we used to start with the channel, such as “Social Media”, and create projects for each channel. We would have projects for SEO, social, email and so on, but we realized that we ended up creating projects simply because we had the people to do them, not because they would grow the company.

In other words, we created a lot of busy work.

Now, we don’t think about the people or channels up front. Instead, we examine what projects would have the highest impact on the company, then we assign people to the projects.

We use our own agile project management software, Hubstaff Tasks, to prioritize quarterly projects and then assign weekly sprint tasks.

This process ensures that everything rolls up to the highest priority goals and that we’re all doing our part to reach them.

Looking ahead using goals and constraints

While updating this post in 2019, we decided to add some of our most recent milestones so you can see how this approach continue to pay off.

Here are some statistics that showcase the growth we experienced in 2018 — thanks to continuing to look at goals on a quarterly basis.

  • Our MRR grew by 60.4% from 2017 to 2018.
  • It continues to grow steadily and is currently sitting at $440K.
  • Net revenue is at $4.14M, 77.2% higher than the previous year.
  • The average revenue per user is $45.22, which is a 7.7% increase from 2017.
  • 8,672 users are tracking their time with Hubstaff.

Our goals for 2019 and beyond

One of our main focuses for 2019 will be helping our customers work more efficiently by adding new useful features to Hubstaff.

Here’s what we plan to deliver to customers in terms of product goals:

  • Added functionalities to the mobile app such as timesheets, schedules, and reports.
  • Geofencing will be a mobile feature as well, which is useful for field teams that work at different sites.
  • More Hubstaff integrations to streamline your work even further.
  • The full release of Hubstaff Tasks, an agile project management tool that lets you organize tasks and projects. You can seamlessly track the time you spend on each task with Hubstaff.

With all the upcoming functionalities for Hubstaff and Hubstaff Tasks, teams can look forward to a more effective way of getting things done and staying productive.

Free bonus: Download Hubstaff’s actual strategy document.

Useful tools

We use task boards and mind maps to help us organize content and documentation to teams.

  • Hubstaff Tasks – We use this software to keep our tasks organized and track who is doing what. Tasks is a kanban board workflow that integrates with Hubstaff so you can streamline your work further. Its built for agile teams who want to prioritize work in sprints, and accomplish goals faster. Best of all, it’s completely free for teams of up to five people.
  • Xmind – The maps in this post were designed using Xmind. This software is free and has most of the mind mapping tools we need.
  • Mindjet – Mindjet is one of the most useful mind mapping software available, with a well-rounded set of features. However, it’s quite expensive.
  • Google Draw – This is a free web-based flowcharting program. It has less support than Google Docs and Sheets, but should accomplish your flowcharting needs.
  • SmartDraw – This is a desktop-based program, and a good tool for more complex flowcharts.

Tying it all together

The Theory of Constraints is an effective priority management system that can help you accomplish your business goals.

It certainly helped us at Hubstaff.

When priorities change, we can also revisit our mind maps to determine how it should affect our tasks.

This process helps confirm that our daily tasks are perfectly aligned with our business goals, and that alignment is key for our sanity when things are moving a million miles an hour.

We have more peace of mind because we are confident that we have the “what” figured out, which is more than half the battle. Execution is sometimes the easy part. This process has also helped us communicate our goals to the whole company. Everyone knows exactly what the end goal is.

Do you have your own approaches to setting company objectives and goals?

Are there any tools that you use to manage your tasks effectively, or is there anything we missed? We’d like to know in the comments.

This post was originally published February 17, 2015, and updated April 2019. 


Employee Retention Strategies: How to Keep Top Performers

Employee Retention Strategies: How to Keep Top Performers

You’ve hired an amazing team. Now, the goal is to implement employee retention strategies so you can keep your team in the long term.

Retaining good employees is incredibly difficult as these top performers have many choices and options.

Here is our best advice on how to retain talent in any organization.

9 strategies for keeping the key players in your team Click To Tweet

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Employee retention best practices

With new startups popping up daily and a talent shortage, it’s more important than ever to retain the employees that your company hires. Here are our top nine tips on ways to retain employees.

1. Conduct stay interviews

Companies often perform exit interviews to learn why employees are leaving.

While this may work to prevent future employees from leaving, it’s too late for that employee. Why not catch the problem before the employee wants to leave?

The Wall Street Journal suggests conducting stay interviews to make sure employees are happy and don’t want to leave. Ask questions like:

  • Why did you want to work here?
  • What makes you stay?
  • What would make you leave the company?
  • What would you change or improve in the company?

Use the answers you receive to improve your employee retention strategies.

2. Make employee development a priority

Employee development goes hand-in-hand with employee retention because all employees have their own goals and aspirations.

They may want to learn a new skill, get better at what they’re doing, or develop their careers. Ask about what they aspire to do, and dig deep to find out how you can help. Ask questions like:

  • What are your goals?
  • What do you want to achieve?
  • What skills do you want to develop?
  • How can I help you get there?

You can help by providing some form of tuition reimbursement, a free book program, or mentorship.

Manage and retain top talent

Easy time tracking, reporting, and payments

3. Create a culture of open communication

Be open about your goals and issues when speaking to employees.

This shows that you trust them and creates a collaborative environment, giving them the opportunity to offer ideas and ask questions.

An “open-door policy” doesn’t work when there’s no door to speak of, so encourage employees to speak candidly with you.

If you’re part of a remote team, you should learn to communicate ridiculously well. Click To Tweet

If you happen to run a remote team, while it’s important to create a culture of open communication, you and your employees should also learn to communicate ridiculously well through email, chat, and webcam.

Having good communication structures in place helps remote employee retention because it gives them an avenue to connect with whoever they need to in order to be successful at their jobs.

4. Set clear expectations

Continuing with clear and open communication, make sure employees know exactly what you expect of them. If they don’t know what their job entails and what you want to see from them, they can’t perform up to your standards, and morale may decrease.

A survey done by BambooHR revealed that 23 percent of respondents said that managers clearly setting expectations about responsibilities would have helped them stay at the company.

23% of respondents said that receiving clear guidelines about responsibilities would have helped them stay at the company Click To Tweet

The best time to set clear expectations is during your onboarding process.

How to Keep Your A-Team Intact: 9 Remote Employee Retention Strategies

5. Have a strong onboarding process in place

Edmond Lau, ex-Quora engineer, previously explained that a bad onboarding process could cost you a potentially great employee.

A strong onboarding process is key to keeping your top employees. The most important aspects are:

  • Create a 30-, 60-, and 90-day plan. This makes your expectations clear on goals for the next three months so you’re both on the same page from the start.
  • Create a new hire checklist. This includes accounts they should make, documents to read, and people to meet. The checklist accomplishes two things: 1) It gives them things to do right away and 2) helps them integrate and learn the company information and processes.
  • Have at least three projects ready for them to take on. This will keep your new hires busy and give them an idea of what type of projects they’ll be executing.

Have at least three projects ready for new hires to take on to keep them busy and engaged Click To Tweet

6. Offer rewards and incentives

Rewards and incentives are one way to demonstrate appreciation for employees who meet or exceed expectations.

Depending on the size of your company, you may offer stock options or bonuses, or something more simple like a nice dinner on the company.

However, don’t restrict yourself to monetary incentives.

Rewards should also speak to employees’ emotional needs. Examples include recognition in front of the company (or via a company-wide email), clothing with the company logo, handwritten notes, thoughtful gifts, and so on.

These all contribute to the positive culture of the company, increase remote employee retention, and build morale much more than a simple, short-term monetary bonus.

How to Keep Your A-Team Intact: 9 Remote Employee Retention Strategies

Recognize your top performers

With Hubstaff’s team dashboard with activity rates

7. Be flexible with work hours

A series of interviews conducted by Helene Jones, director of human resources at a medical communications company, exposed the importance of a flexible schedule and personal time off.

The reasoning for this is simple: sometimes employees need to change up their schedule or take an impromptu day off to tend to things like doctor’s appointments or family matters. The autonomy of letting an employee determine their schedule is a crucial item to retaining your A-players.

Allowing employees to determine their schedule is crucial for retaining your A-players. Click To Tweet

While you may have high expectations for employee productivity, it’s unreasonable to expect your team members to work during specific times (set by you) at 100 percent efficiency.

A-players know when they’re most productive and can admit when they aren’t being productive.

By allowing employees to relax when they need to and create their own schedule, they can increase productivity and happiness.

8. Make time for small talk

While it may seem counterintuitive to waste time on small talk, these conversations allow you to get to know employees as complete people rather than just someone who works for you.

This humanization of the employer-employee relationship allows a unique form of loyalty to develop. It’s better to work with someone who treats you like a friend than someone who treats you as their workhorse.

9. Provide regular feedback

Phil Haack, engineering manager at GitHub, recalls a conversation with an employee who said, “I spent a lot of the six months hoping I didn’t get fired.”

That’s not something you want to hear from an employee.

It’s tough for remote employees to get the constant feedback that comes with day-to-day in-person interactions in an office. This makes it even more important to provide regular informal feedback in addition to formal evaluations so your remote employees don’t feel disconnected.

Regular feedback outside of formal evaluations lets employees know where they stand, gets everyone on the same page, and removes the chances of a surprise during formal reviews.

The phrase that sums this all up is: make employee happiness a big deal.

Want to keep your A-player employees? Make employee happiness a big deal. Click To Tweet

If you think about your employees as humans with needs and treat them as such, you’ll be able to create a better working environment for your best employees and keep them on your team.

These employee retention strategies will help you demonstrate that you trust and care about your employees, empowering them to continue doing their best work.

Related employee retention posts

If you enjoy this post, you may want to check out this e-book on how to manage your remote workforce.

This post was originally published December 7, 2015, and updated May 2019. 


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