8 Inexpensive ways to Reward Your Employees



As leaders of teams and companies, we are missing the mark in a critical area, employee recognition. According to U.S. Department of Labor and Statistics, individuals that voluntarily leave work cite lack of appreciation as one of the major reasons for leaving. In addition:

  • 69% of American workers say they would work harder if they felt their efforts were better recognized.
  • 78% said being recognized motivates them in their job.
  • When managers recognize their employees’ performance, they increase employee engagement by nearly 60%.

Effective employee recognition can drive performance, increase retention, and impact your bottom line. Luckily, it doesn’t take a lot of money or planning to create a recognition program. Check out these 8 simple, thoughtful, and low or no-cost ideas that leaders can use to give employees the recognition they deserve.

  1. A handwritten thank you note. Keep blank note cards in your desk and drop a quick note to your team with your sincere thanks. Be timely in delivering the note after the great work.
  2. A simple and sincere "Thank you!" or "Great job!" If you work in the same building as your employee, call them into your office and deliver the message in person. If you work in a remote environment, a simple phone call works well. Since many employees don’t always assume the best when they are called by their manager, they will be especially pleased to receive your recognition and appreciation for a job well done.
  3. An e-mail to your employee that copies your boss. E-mail is the most used method of communication at work so it can be a quick and informal way to send recognition and appreciation. If you choose to send a thank you via e-mail add your management and other stakeholders for wider visibility and recognition.
  4. Food or Beverage. Think of a fun way to celebrate your employees and keep them well fed. One idea is donuts when working on public holidays or lunch delivery when you are working on a deadline. Some management teams have cooked pancake breakfasts for their staff to appreciate good effort or a job well done. Be creative and have fun!
  5. Get to know each other. Add an employee highlight part to your team meetings, or create a wall of fame. Celebrate all accomplishments or milestones, not just work related achievements. For example if a team member is running a ½ marathon, learning a new language or doing some volunteer work share that with the entire team.
  6. Free Friday. Give your team a few hours off on a Friday to do whatever they want. If you have morale budget give them make it available and send them off into their weekend early.
  7. Coffee with the boss. For some this may seem like a punishment rather than a reward, but 1:1 time with a key leader in the business is a great reward for work well done.
  8. Create a monthly or quarterly award program. Create several award categories that align with the key goals and objectives of your team, or create a single superstar or MVP award. Create or buy something that can be displayed such as a certificate, an inexpensive trophy or a simple rock painted gold. Give the award a title such as the "You Rocked it” or "Made it Happen” award.

Don't delay appreciation. Recognizing and rewarding your employees for their contributions will help you create an engaged and productive team.


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Office Timeline integrates with Wrike

Stunning PowerPoint project visuals in 3 quick steps.


Your clients and leadership demand a lot from you as a project manager. In addition to driving project plans ahead, they also expect you to be excellent at communicating. Project managers are required to provide status communications across the organization at all levels and to all resources engaged on a project or on a portfolio of projects. Whether presenting plans or building executive support for your project, communications to stakeholders need to be done at a high-level in a clear and concise manner.


Executive communications

Presenting a conventional project schedule or Gantt chart may not be an effective way of communicating with executive audiences. Detailed charts showing all of a project’s tasks and dependencies may cause information overload for execs who typically want to see a summary. Regardless of whether you are presenting in person or communicating via email or as part of a project report being able to provide clear, concise, and easy-to understand information in a short amount of time is an important communication skill.


Different Project Visuals for different purposes

Wrike’s Gantt chart is an important way for you and your team to visualize your plans in real time. You can track tasks and their dependencies and see the critical path. The typical Wrike project may have a list of project tasks, their due dates and dependencies. This may not be appropriate for executive who need a simple snap-shot view that is easy for them to follow. Clients and Executives are familiar with PowerPoint so turning your project into a PowerPoint slide may be better suited for these audiences.


Office Timeline transforms your Wrike projects into impressive visuals

Office Timeline is a timeline maker add in built for Microsoft PowerPoint. With the Wrike and Office Timeline integration you can import your Gantt chart into PowerPoint. Office Timeline is built natively into PowerPoint so you can do this import from inside of PowerPoint. Part of that import process allows you to select which items you want displayed on your slide and which will stay hidden, helping you quickly get to a summary version that is more appropriate for exec presentations.


3 Simple steps for making a PowerPoint visual

1. Download and install Office Timeline Free edition from Office Timeline.

• Click on the New Timeline button on the Office Timeline tab inside of PowerPoint.

• From the New Timeline wizard click the IMPORT tab and select the Wrike button.

• In the log-in window enter your credentials and allow Office Timeline to access Wrike.



2. Import data from Wrike.

• Browse to the Wrike project you want or use the search field to find it.

• Select your project and click on the next arrow to import your data into a list view.



3. Choose which items you want add to your PowerPoint slide.

• From the list, select which tasks are to be included on your slide and which ones will be left off the slide. Pay attention to the number of tasks you are importing since you are trying to fit them all one slide.

• Click the Green check button once you are done.

• Office Timeline will instantly convert your data into a PowerPoint visual.


Customizing your visual

Office Timeline has Powerful features for customizing the style of your visual. Once it has been built you can use Office Timeline’s controls and PowerPoint’s controls make style customizations. For example you can change the shapes, positions and colors of any object or text. You can also project specific details such as duration and percent complete for your tasks. You can share your slide with anyone else who has PowerPoint and the can edit it too.




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7 Quick Tips for Leading Dynamic Project Teams



Perhaps you have heard the phrase “It’s a double edged sword”? It refers to something that has the power to bring on both negative implications and positive benefits simultaneously. This is particularly true for project managers who are working with stakeholders, team members and other resources.


Cross collaboration can be powerful and positive when well-managed, but it can also be destructive if is not nurtured. Skilled project managers effectively harness the collective power of their extended team to maximize productivity. Here are 7 techniques that may help you do this:

  1. The KISS Principle “Keep it Simple Stupid.” This philosophy suggests most systems work best if they are kept simple rather than made complicated. Consider that that others may not need, may not want or may not understand the level of detail that you may possess. It is a best practice to minimize complexity and simplify communication whenever possible.
  2. Define specific metrics. Having a measuring stick is essential for monitoring progress. Defining and getting consensus around a set of metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs) is critical. These KPI's can be presented on a dashboard slide to track the overall success the project. When creating your KPI’s be specific and make sure to consider the needs of all stakeholders.
  3. Creating clear roles and responsibilities. Clearly defining the roles for each team member will help build structure needed for success. When managing tasks that may involve multiple contributors having a single point of responsibility is important. Only one person should be assigned accountability for each managing delivery of each task/role. Cleary establish this accountability with that person and set expectations early.
  4. Create a high-level timeline for reference. Publishing a summary timeline and keeping it highly visible to all project participants at all times will help maintain focus on the key milestones and important deliverables. Consistent visibility is a simple management technique – the more team members and stakeholders set it the more attention they will give it.
  5. Know your team and leverage their strengths. Harnessing the collective intelligence and experience of a team can create strong momentum. The true power of team projects is the unique ideas, insight, and experiences each person brings. Leveraging this power requires you inventorying the skill sets available to you. This means taking time to know each person’s strengths, then working to align those strength with the project’s needs.
  6. Consistently seek feedback. It is a good practice to ask team members and stakeholders for critical feedback. This creates an environment of trust and provides useful insights that may not have otherwise surfaced. It does not need to be done formally or as part of a process but be done simply with open ended questions and focused listing.
  7. Assess and adjust. Even the best project managers cannot predict all of the changes and unplanned surprises that will come up. Although unpredictable, changes should be anticipated and a process for making adjustments should be built in advance and ready to be used if necessary. Everyone on the team should be aware of this process, so adjustment can be made with agility.

Using some or all of these techniques will lead to more powerful project collaboration and they will help you avoid the dysfunction of poorly lead project teams.


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6 tips for effectively managing stress at the workplace



Stress. We all experience it at the work place, particularly when managing projects. Many people say that stress is to be avoided at all costs, but I’ve found that it’s actually an asset when well managed. The secret is to manage stress and not let stress manage you. Here are 6 tips to better manage it:

  1. Get to know stress - What does it feel like? Do you feel it physically, mentally or emotionally? Is it a pain in your neck or shoulder, a clenched jaw or a feeling of irritability? Become familiar with how stress affects you.
  2. Become a stress detective - Once you are familiar of how stress affects you, begin to notice when and where it happens. For example, what time of day it is, where you are when it surfaces or who you are with. Try to recognize these as stress zones. A useful tool is to record your stress levels for an entire week. Record where and when you are experiencing stress and try to look for the triggers that are bringing it on.
  3. Label it - A technique that works well is to simply state “this is stress” when you recognize you are in a stressful moment. When you label a feeling as stress you create a boundary around it. Doing this helps you realize that the stress is actually not something happening to you, but rather a way you are responding to a trigger. Ultimately you will get to the point where you are personifying your stress. For example, internally, you may say “I recognize this as stress. I know how to handle it!”
  4. Understand the role of stress - Stress is actually a reaction intended to protect us. It is the body’s warning system designed to alert us that things are not in balance. A good analogy is a warning light on your car dashboard. Stress is your body’s way of alerting you that you might need to pay attention to a particular issue.
  5. Create tactics for handling - There are two tactics to master for stress management. One is learning to avoid it but an even more practical technique is learning how to manage it. The easiest place to start is with some basic physical best practices such as focusing on your diet, exercise, and sleep.
  6. Managing your body's response - Studies have proven that meditation techniques can significantly reduce stress. An easy way to start is by taking with a few deep breaths in moments of stress. Inhaling deeply thorough your nostrils and out through your mouth works to send calming messages to your brain, slowing and soothing you. Try a series of three deep breaths before you enter a stress zone.

You can't always control what happens to you but you can control how you respond. These 6 tips should help you detect stress zones and recognize the stress. Once you have it recognized you are in a better position to manage it.

What are your tips for better managing stress? Please share them in the comments section below.



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Communication tips for excellent client engagement



Effectively communicating with clients can power the success of a project. Each communication is not just about exchanging project information, but also an interaction that will create trust and confidence in the partnership. Experienced project managers recognize the need to proactively engage with clients. They may be engaging them directly or indirectly via an Engagement Manager. Regardless of how, they understand every client communication is an opportunity to secure the kind of client engagement they will need throughout the life of a project. Project Managers who can develop a strong client relationship will build capital which will be important for managing things that go wrong and, ultimately, for delivering the project successfully.

Here are four unheralded practices that project managers can use for perfecting customer engagement:

Your Opinion Counts

Every project manager understands that is critical to thoroughly and completely understand their client’s business problems. Some have probably even read about or been trained in the art of deep listening and structured questioning to help clients properly articulate their ambitions. All of that is good, however, it is also important to recognize that you are on the project because of your expertise. Clients want objective guidance and advice from you…in fact, they are paying you for it. When you communicate your point of view and support it with your thinking and rationale, you become a more valuable and strategic partner to them.

Don’t Be Afraid To Talk Budget

Budgets are an uncomfortable topic that many project managers want to avoid discussing with clients. The truth is clients are reasonable when it comes to budget. They greatly value transparency and desperately want to avoid surprises, particularly surprises on short notice. For these reasons it will be important to have regular communications about budget. Being proactive and consistent rather than shying away from the subject will build their confidence in your fiscal responsibility. It will also give them advance notice and time to prepare if things are looking like they may come in over budget.

Guide on What to Expect

Each client has a unique set of business challenges and most will not have the breadth of experience or insight into project management that you have. Counseling them up-front about the project management process and what they will see along the way is an important expectation setting exercise. It will help them understand what your team does and what to expect along the way. More importantly, it will set up a communication dialogue around expectations that you will be able to leverage throughout the project. Ultimately, they will determine if the project successfully met their expectations, so communication around expectations early will be a best practice for project managers.

Get Personal

People want to work with people they like. This is as true for clients as it is in your workgroup. If the chemistry is not apparent right up front, set the intent to get to know your customers better and in person. For project managers, making this investment is not merely about building new relationships, it is also about building an environment for success. Communicating authentically and at a personal level will help build relationships with clients where they want you to succeed and they will help you do it.

Successful projects are dependent on the supportive partnership with clients and stakeholders. Communicating openly, transparently and often can be a great springboard for building the types of partnerships that stay solid when things get tough.



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