Caboh Best Practices

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Your first experience with any new software can be intimidating. Then, add an entire team to that experience and it can suddenly become quite daunting.

We understand the challenges of getting everyone onboard with something new. So, here are some tips to help you get the most out of your team’s new collaboration space.

 

  1. During implementation, leverage how your team already works together.

Don’t get overwhelmed. Caboh offers a variety of features to support the way your team naturally works together. You can slowly integrate your team’s work habits into Caboh by focusing on one feature at a time. It helps to start with a feature that is familiar and directly impacts daily workflow.

For example, if your team relies heavily on chat for daily communication, implement just this feature until everyone is onboard.

 

  1. Encourage your team to take advantage of integrations.

For example, everyone can easily connect Drop Box to their Caboh file system in order to quickly gain access to all their important documents.

 

  1. Create and join groups to make sharing with others easier.

Groups are important and versatile because they can represent departments, projects, teams, or clubs. Caboh uses custom sharing to personalize each user experience, and as a shortcut, you can select a group name to quickly share with all the members of that group.

 

  1. Replace internal email communication with Caboh’s threaded discussions.

Discussions are a great way to collaborate! Upload, share, and discuss anything (like a file, video, picture, or link) with groups or individuals.

Help your team avoid time-consuming email reply threads, which make it impossible to keep up with ongoing conversations.

Hint: Anyone on your team who still relies on email to communicate won’t be left out. Email notifications and digests help you stay on top of any Caboh activity (like a new discussion).

 

  1. Upload the company website or blog RSS to your Caboh Dashboard.

This customization displays company news and updates for everyone with little effort. Once your blog or website is integrated with Caboh, it will update automatically and no one will have to leave Caboh to find the information they need.

 

New Product Video

We are so excited to share our new product video! It’s a quicky. Only 45 seconds long and very high level (the way it should be).

We have been experimenting with online video tools for a while, and found PowToon to be a very straight-forward and fun tool for crafting our first explainer video.  Thanks Guys!

Caboh plans to add many more videos to our content collection. Because let’s face it, videos are way more fun, interesting, and exciting than most other forms of content.

So, here it is. Enjoy!

 

Learning Experiences from SXSW

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The Caboh team was so excited to get out of the office for SXSW this year to mingle with awesome people, learn a lot, share ideas, and heckle all the out-of-towners. And now, we can proudly say we accomplished all of those things, and survived the whirlwind of an experience that is SX.

So, since the crowds have died down and the hype is over, it is time to revitalize our hazy memories and reflect upon the moments that resonated with us the most.

On the first day of Interactive we encountered a minor setback/crisis involving a delayed side effect of food poisoning. Apparently bad oysters can not only ruin your stomach; they can cause you to break out in hives several days later. Go figure. We tried not to let this moment resonate in our SX memories, but (since we were previously unaware of this phenomenon) it will now be considered a learning experience worth sharing. So, you’re welcome.

After the skin scare, we made our way to the convention center to listen in on a featured session. The topic piqued our interest with it’s enticing name “Jedi Mind Tricks for Entrepreneurs”, and we were pleasantly surprised by the speaker, Nicole Glaros from TechStars, who was very engaging and energetic.

This session provided some helpful advice, which aimed to encourage leaders or really anyone wanting to better themselves and their team.

Here are some top points:

  • Mentally picture yourself achieving your goal over and over again
  • You can be direct and honest while being nice about it!
  • Scrum boards create team transparency and help slackers self-correct
  • Be comfortable admitting failure, and pick up your team when they fall
  • Company expense reports should be public – “Guess who’s not flying first class anymore!”, she says.

The next day, we attended another featured session, which proved to be well worth our time. The title was “Creating a Digital Engagement Strategy for Leaders” and Charlene Li, an author and highly sought after speaker, lead the presentation, which nicely summarized her new book “The Engaged Leader”.

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Here are some of the highlights:

  • Leaders can and should scale their online listening habits to engage in meaningful interactions
  • There is value in interactions, especially digital interactions,  even if you can’t measure them
  • Sharing shapes relationships, you have to inspire people to follow you!
  • Apply the right tools for your digital engagement goals and strategy

Finally, on the last day of  SX Interactive, we attended a presentation based upon the book “The Innovator’s DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators” and featuring speaker, Hal Gregersen, a co-author and leadership member of MIT.

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This session was, in my opinion, the most inspiring of them all. Maybe it was the speaker’s obvious passion and excitement for the topic, but when it was over, I felt like I could accomplish anything. Hal not only shared personal experiences along with helpful real world examples, he engaged with his audience through active participation that never felt awkward or forced.

Here are the five skills he shared from his book, which help drive innovation:

  • Questioning
  • Observing
  • Networking
  • Experimenting
  • Associating

In conclusion, the Caboh team claims this year’s SXSW Interactive to be a success, for it helped us discover a lot of unknowns. Some were useful, some interesting, and some just downright bazaar (just Google “Bina48″ and you’ll understand). But, in the end, we are so thankful to get to share some of the learning experiences we picked up during our journey.

Until next year SX! (without the oysters)

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5 Resources for a More Transparent Company Culture

 

Are you meeting the needs of your knowledge workers? With a growing economy of knowledge workers, it is crucial for companies to start operating with more transparency.

A transparent company culture means that honest and open communication is continually appreciated, valued, and encouraged.

It can be a very challenging initiative because it requires everyone’s participation, but results like faster problem solving and decision making will create a lasting competitive advantage. And what company doesn’t want that?

 

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1. Forbes – How Transparent Is Too Transparent In Business

Some companies are going above and beyond to maintain operational transparency.

The mobile payment company Square will email meeting notes and 200+ page reports from executive board meetings to the entire company.

And, Buffer goes even further than Square to maintain transparency, by tracking their employees’ physical activity and sleep patterns.

Newer companies especially, are implementing more than just open office floor plans to reach superior workplace transparency.

 

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2. The Globe and Mail – The Holy Grail of Workplace Motivation: Autonomy and Transparency

This article explains how a combination of autonomy and transparency can effectively drive employee motivation.

People want the freedom to get their job done however they chose without micromanagement or strict rules. And, people want to feel trusted by leadership so they can clearly understand how their job affects the company’s bottom line.

The overall point is that employees are the most motivated when they are treated like adults. When they are given control over their professional life and they feel empowered by leadership.

 

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3. Talent Culture – How Transparency Positively Impacts Your Workplace

Talent Culture shares some ideas for how to create more transparency.

They suggest sharing more information. “[G]reater information about the way the company is running and what its goals are can empower employees to do their jobs better, and this capability leads to better products, higher-quality service and engaged workers.”

Welcome employee ideas and feedback by collecting surveys and share the results with everyone. This will make people feel more included in the entire feedback gathering process.

 

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4. Fast Company – Why Your Office Needs More Transparency 

This Fast Company article contains a fun and detailed infographic, which is designed as a roadmap to help you reach greater company transparency.

It is loaded with interesting statistics, like: “14% of companies have workers who understand company strategy, goals, and direction” and “60% of employees say they don’t get enough feedback from upper management on their work”.

 

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5. Software Advice – Job Seekers Want an Honest Company Culture

According to a study by Software Advice, a resource for HR technology, most job seekers prefer a company culture which is described as honest and transparent. One-third of the candidates from their study chose transparency over cultural attributes like casual, friendly, family-oriented, and even fun.

How to Connect Strategy and Execution

 

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It is a necessary practice to set an intention for what you do.

At the beginning of a yoga class most instructors will tell you to set an intention for your practice so you can get the best outcome for your time. This is actually a simple, yet powerful technique. If you focus on the outcome you wish to achieve before you begin your practice, you are more likely to be satisfied with the end result.

Another example is the game of chess. You can outperform your opponent, if you plan out a strategy and set a specific intention for every move you make. There must be a reason for every decision, otherwise your strategy is weakened.

This concept holds true for decision making and strategy planning in business, as well.

With regards to business decision making, most companies focus all their energy on setting goals because the outcome of a goal is measurable and it can prove ROI. But, this approach lacks inspiration and it is less meaningful to workers who are further removed from the goal’s outcome. Companies need to realize that their intent, which is the deeper meaning behind their goals, is also important. It is the core reason why they set out to do what they do.

“By starting with your intentions, you get right to the source of what you truly want. Intentions are the core and the magic of all of your goals and desires.” – Author Mike Robbins

A well written vision statement can represent company intentions. It can even inspire and empower people by giving them a clear “mental picture – of what an organization wants to achieve”. When effectively communicated and reinforced by leadership, it serves as a very powerful tool to maintain strategy and boost employee engagement. The challenge is that a vision could be so large or abstract that leaders struggle to communicate it and employees struggle to connect with it.

“The essence of communication is intention.” – Werner Erhard

In order to effectively communicate the vision, leaders must break it down into smaller, more digestible pieces, which justify the intent of every goal and every decision. Then, they must communicate how each decision will ultimately satisfy the vision, which requires them to “zoom out” to look at the big picture. These micro and macro explanations give context for why each goal is relevant and important, allowing employees to see the value for themselves.

Although attentive communication can be very challenging to maintain, it is a necessary practice to keep everyone connected and focused on the same outcome.

Employees, especially millennials, need to see and understand the intent behind the strategy in order to effectively execute it. They need a window to their company’s soul.

“The result of bad communication is a disconnection between strategy and execution” – Chuck Martin, former VP at IBM

Intend to connect strategy and execution. Intend to fulfill the vision. Intend to inspire your team by including them in the strategy.   

 

What Really Drives Employee Engagement?

 

An employee’s level of engagement will determine the amount of time and effort they exert at work, and it also influences how long they will stay with a company. According to Harvard Business Review, “research has clearly and consistently proved the direct link between employee engagement, customer satisfaction and revenue growth”. So, there is definitely a reason for companies to address this issue, because it directly correlates with overall performance.

The problem with solving the engagement issue is leaders struggle to read through all the noise to come up with a solution because there are too many conflicting explanations for what causes it.  There are a lot of opinions out there, but what about the data?

What does research tell us drives employee engagement?

A Gallup survey called Q12 was formulated to measure actionable workplace elements affecting employee engagement and performance. After several years of interviewing organizations around the world and gathering research, the survey was finalized in the late 1990’s and was comprised of twelve questions. It is no coincidence that out of these twelve carefully selected questions to determine which factors influence employee engagement, at least four of them address whether or not employees feel appreciated, recognized, or at least acknowledged by others at work. That’s one-third of the overall survey!

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Whether or not an employee feels recognized will determine their confidence level in a company. Employees need human interaction to feel included, respected, and secure. In order to establish an authentic sense of belonging with their team, they need confirmation from others . Confirmation that their job matters. Confirmation that someone will notice their performance or care about their opinions.

Confirmative communication from a team leader can be the most impactful. As influencers, leaders directly connect employees with company goals, so their reassurance is especially meaningful and powerful. Receiving feedback from a team leader gives employees instant reassurance that their work is creating a noticeable impact on the company. Leaders need to realize that addressing an individual’s work gives them direct proof that their job really matters, and this sense of purpose drives engagement.

Even though leaders can provide meaningful feedback to influence engagement, top down communication should not dominate how an employee interacts with their company.

It is very important to also encourage and facilitate multi-directional communication between coworkers. This is because coworkers have a more personal knowledge of what their team members work on and accomplish day-to-day, so their feedback happens in real time and is more specific. Peer recognition is very useful because it will confirm and clarify each member’s role and responsibility.

Leaders can enable teams to communicate more effectively by providing them with the tools and resources they need to quickly share information, ideas, news, and feedback. Every team needs an outlet for members to express their opinions and give feedback to others without hesitation or delay. Creating an environment which promotes peer-to-peer interaction and captures positive recognition, will help make a lasting impact on employee engagement.

Authentic and consistent communication, from both leadership and peers, will drive employee engagement because it gives people the affirmations they need to feel confident, acknowledged, and valued at work.

 

Successful Communication is Engaging Communication

 

Employees are frustrated. Everyday, they are overwhelmed and inundated with a surplus of email correspondence. According to a McKinsey report on “The Social Economy”, employees have to spend one-fourth of their work day reading, answering, and sending email communication.These time-consuming tasks have become such a large portion of their job responsibility that they struggle to get actual work done.

It can take employees “around 16 minutes to refocus on their tasks” after each time they manage emails, making it nearly impossible to stay focused at work.

Email Do Not Disturb

Although email is a great for external point-to-point business communication, it is being overused internally. Coworkers are using email to share documents, invite people to events, share meeting notes, and to discuss important topics. It has become overwhelming to manage team communication and all other business correspondence in the same inbox.

There are more effective ways to communicate and collaborate within a team!

Incorporating the use of more social communication technologies can significantly reduce time spent handling email communication. IBM was able to reduce email traffic by 98 percent after utilizing a social site to post email responses. They claimed the social site helped with information redundancy, “thereby eliminating all the follow-up questions, copying, and forwarding that multiplies e-mail traffic.” Reducing email traffic and incorporating a social and collaborative, communication platform is critical to not only to improve productivity, but also to increase employee engagement.

Social sites automatically create user engagement because they directly ask for our input. When you login to Facebook the first thing you see is a status box where you are asked: “What’s on your mind?”.  Suddenly, we are prompted to voice our thoughts and we are given the expectation that what we say really matters. People can use technology to announce their ideas, opinions, and life updates so they will be heard by others, and this expectation is being brought into the workplace.

If people can quickly reference social technologies to get up to speed and communicate with friends and family, why does communicating at work have to be so frustrating and time consuming?

Facebook and Twitter are engaging communication tools because they give people a voice and create an equal opportunity environment for people to receive social recognition. So, it is only fair to assume that the most effective way to engage an employee is to continually ask them a simple question: “What do you think?”

By providing an online environment where anyone’s ideas are welcomed and recognized, people participate because they are encouraged to and they have something valuable to contribute. This naturally makes the information that is shared more meaningful and engaging for people to discuss.

The communication methods employees use internally should align with their workflow and enable teams to collaborate around valuable information. Unfortunately, email creates disjointed conversations, which make it difficult to maintain transparency and keep everyone informed.

It is time to reconsider how we use email, so we can find a better way to work together virtually!

 

 

5 Easy Ways to Kickstart Productivity

 

It can be very difficult to stay productive at work with all the office noise and distractions. Even if you work remotely, planning out your day can be challenging because of poor communication.

When there are too many things battling for our attention, we can feel overwhelmed and our productivity is stifled. And, if you allow it, you will be pulled in a million different directions and constantly struggle to stay grounded and focused.

We must realize that we have the power to decide how our attention is divided throughout the day.

According to the book “Essentialism” by Greg McKeown, in order to simplify our life, including our work life, we should pursuit “the right thing, in the right way, at the right time”.  So, by asking yourself questions like, “Is this the most important thing I should be doing with my time and resources right now?”, you can begin to focus on what is more meaningful to you and valuable to your team.

You can use these 5 simple steps to regain your focus, simplify how you work, and help your team become more motivated and effective.

1. Take 15 minutes to plan out your day. Make a to-do list habitual.

When you plan out your day, make sure you are very specific with your intentions, so you know exactly what you want to achieve. There are many arguments on whether you should make your daily to-do list the night before or that morning, but in reality, it doesn’t matter, as long as you do it!

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2. Set a timeline for your goals. But be flexible!

To stay focused and keep yourself accountable, it helps to schedule each task with its intended completion date. Be realistic with yourself by setting attainable goals. This will help you stay on top of your to-do list without getting overwhelmed. Make sure you are flexible but persistent!

3.  Group related-tasks together and then prioritize them.

Start organizing your to-do list from most urgent, most important to non-urgent and less important tasks. Then, try to condense this list into fewer tasks by grouping them together, so you don’t feel stressed by a longer list. Remember to be selective and don’t over-commit yourself!

4. Share your to-do list with your team.

You can greatly improve your team’s productivity by communicating what you are working toward on a daily basis.  When you are more transparent with your team, you become  more accountable to them. Transparency also makes each team member feel more connected to the mission and helps them focus on tasks that will bring the most value.

5. Celebrate and reflect upon each accomplishment.

Success is a great motivator. Celebrating  progress (including small accomplishments) and reflecting upon what worked or didn’t work can be an easy way to help reinforce productive behavior. By using positive feedback, your team can learn from each other and discover how to effectively focus everyone’s time and energy.

 

The Power of a Positive Workplace

 

The morale of your team is a powerful determinant, which can make or break your chances of success. When workplace morale is low people feel disconnected from their work and their team. The result is a domino effect of negativity, because once people feel disconnected, they can become  insecure, unproductive, and even frustrated and resentful. Negativity is so powerful. It can paralyze a business and stifle growth.

How can we expect people to work hard and be committed to a business or a team who makes them doubt success or feel insecure about the future? 

It is already difficult for people to come together, work hard, and be successful, so why make it more challenging by removing optimism, hope, or confidence? It is time for teams to realize that there is something very profound about a positive work environment.

Once surrounded by positive energy, people feel more comfortable to openly communicate with one another and a team’s ability to persevere becomes natural, instead of forced. Positive energy is liberating. It always makes people happier.

According to “The Happiness Advantage” by Shawn Achor, happiness actually fuels success not the other way around. And, when we become more positive, our brain becomes more engaged, creative, motivated, energetic, healthier, resilient and productive.

So, how do you initiate and maintain a positive moral in the workplace?

An easy way to maintain positivity in the workplace is to announce successes and small wins as soon as they happen. Share the success of someone else. Share a team success. Share a company success. Share your own success. Be genuine and do this often.

Sharing and celebrating successes with your team puts more value and focus on positive events rather than negative ones. Without this critical shift of focus, team members are more likely to dwell on the challenges they face instead of the outcomes of their efforts. People are conditioned to spend most of their time searching for issues and problems to correct, so it is vitally important to praise and recognize them for their progress. This will help ease frustration and burnout.

Positive recognition is proven to spark enthusiasm and motivation. According to Entrepreneur, 67 percent of respondents in a McKinsey Quarterly survey ranked “praise and commendation from manager” as an effective motivator. But, teams often get so busy that they forget to regularly address the impacts of their work or acknowledge each other for their contributions. So, even though most people are motivated by appreciation from others, positive reinforcers are usually underutilized in business.

This is understandable, especially with all the demands of the constantly changing business environment, but just imagine a sports team that never celebrates a score or a big win. What if their coach never encourages them or gives them praise? These players wouldn’t feel supported individually or collectively as a team. And, with no motivation to rally them together or inspiration to keep them pushing forward, this team would surely fail.

Why should business teams be any different?