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Productivity

Retrospective Meeting Formula For Remote Teams

By | Education, HR, Productivity, Remote Working, Team Culture | No Comments

Short for retrospective, a “retro” is an opportunity to reflect on the recent past and optimise for the future. Commonly used by Fortune 500 companies and Silicon Valley tech startups, retrospectives are a powerful way to optimise a remote team’s effectiveness.

Without the casual water cooler chats or gripe sessions that happen organically in an office environment, issues affecting a team’s performance and morale might go unnoticed until it’s too late. The best way to prevent that kind of pain is by making an effort to uncover problem areas while they’re still easy to address. 

It’s important to note that a retro should be a constructive session and a positive learning experience. To avoid retros becoming blaming sessions or monotonous, this retro meeting formula can help your team express their views with more safety and engagement. Promoting psychological safety in your remote team will help to ensure people feel comfortable to share their honest thoughts and opinions; leading to a higher functioning and more effective team. 

What is the goal of this meeting?

Evaluate the past working cycle – with the entire team – with the aim of generating insights to help optimise how the team works together.

What tools will I need for this meeting?

Web conferencing tool and a collaboration platform that supports stickies.

How much time should I set aside?

You will need about 1–1.5 hours to complete this session. Note that the length of your retro meetings will be determined by the number of team members and how new the team is.

When should I host a retro?

Retros are a great way for a project lead to assess the effectiveness of their teams. Retros can happen at the end of a work sprint, the end of a product iteration or at regular intervals throughout a project. If your team is losing momentum and not meeting deadlines, if sub-tasks did not go as planned, or if there is misalignment between project leads, a retro can help get you back on track. 

MEETING AGENDA

  • 5 min | Check-in – The meeting facilitator sets the scene for what will be done in the session. 
  • 5 min | GLAD – Reflecting back on the project so far, the team writes down what made them feel Glad. 
  • 10 min | Discuss – The team elaborates on their contributions in a discussion. 
  • 10 min | SAD + MAD – The team writes down their frustrations of the project so far.
  • 10 min | Discuss – Ask the team if they see a pattern emerging and if there anything they wish to discuss in greater detail. 
  • 5 min | KUDOS – The team reflects on moments, teammates or skills which contributed to the project’s success. 
  • 5 min | Discuss – This is discussed in greater detail and champion team members are celebrated. 
  • 15 min | Actions – Key take-outs are discussed, process and Culture Canvas is adjusted, and steps going forward are agreed. 
  • 5 min | Closing 

It’s a good idea to prepare your retro document ahead of time and then share the document link in the meeting agenda. For this example, we have used Google Slides as our collaboration tool.

SET THE SCENE | 5 minutes

As the meeting facilitator, remind participants of the meeting purpose and then explain the process of filling in the GLAD, SAD, MAD, KUDOS stickies. Explain that participants can copy and paste their sticky notes into the relevant sections or slides.

Some people are very outspoken, while others are quiet and observe more. Keep mental notes as to who hasn’t contributed much and make a point to draw them into the conversation to the extent they’re comfortable.

GLAD | 5 minutes (silence)

You could start with any of the Glad, Sad or Mad slides but in our experience, it can be helpful to start off with some positive thoughts about the project. Allow participants 5 minutes of silence to reflect back on the project and type a word/phrase or sentence to describe something positive or something that made them glad.

DISCUSS GLAD | 10 minutes

Once your team has filled in a satisfactory number of GLAD stickies in the allotted time, it’s important to discuss and unpack what the team has put down. If anything written down is unclear, this gives your teammates a chance to elaborate and clarify on what they have to say. 

SAD + MAD | 10 minutes (silence)

Now your team has an idea of what to do, it can save some time to do both SAD and MAD sections at once. Allow your team 10 minutes of silence to reflect back and fill in their frustrations and project pain points.

DISCUSS SAD + MAD | 10 minutes

At this point, it would be a good idea to ask them if they notice any pattern emerging from the stickies. Often, a pain-point experienced by one team member is also experienced by another; so it is likely that your teammate’s stickies will be repetitive. These patterns or repetitions can help you identify next-actions or ways to optimise your process. Starting with SAD, identify as a team where the patterns are and then get one or two team members to sort the stickies into groups.

KUDOS | 5 minutes (silence)

To ensure the session doesn’t end on a sour note, it’s important to give time for kudos. This is where your team will call out a champion team member and celebrate a particular effort on the project.

DISCUSS KUDOS | 5 minutes

Allow your teammates 5 minutes to share their celebrations and props with each other and to elaborate on the ways this contributed positively to their project experience. A little peer-to-peer recognition is a great way to end your retro on a positive note.

ACTIONS | 15 minutes

This is an opportunity for the team to discuss solutions and to make necessary adjustments to project processes and your Culture Canvas (an essential tool for remote teams). As the team solves a challenge or agrees on a way forward, this is recorded as an action. These actions should ensure elimination of the frustration and pain-points experienced in the project so far.


CLOSING | 5 minutes

Spend the final 5 minutes of the meeting ensuring that everyone has had their say, that everyone is aligned with the next steps, and that any changes to processes or ways of working have been clearly communicated. Ask if anyone has final questions or comments. And finally, acknowledge your team’s participation and express gratitude for special contributions.

Templar Wales SA Today

Watch: 100 Days In Lockdown and Remote Working. Templar Wales on SA Today, SABC

By | #COVID19, Digital Transformation, Future of Work, HR, In the news, Productivity, Remote Working, Research, Team Culture | No Comments

It’s been 100 days since lockdown began in South Africa and remote working has become a part of everyday life for businesses and employees. This presents a unique opportunity for many companies to adopt new ways of working that will stand them in good stead for the future.

What does the new world of work look like and how are organisations adapting? dY/dX partner, Templar Wales, addresses this question and more in a recent interview with Florence ‘Flo‘ Ledwaba, on SA Today, SABC.

 

Transcript

 

Flo:
The 100 days since lockdown have seen remote working become an integral part of the business life. During this time businesses and employees have adapted to a new way of life and operating. Here to chat about working remotely under the lockdown, I’m joined by Templar Wales, partner and co-founder of digital transformation company dY/dX, for more on this. Just as a start, your company, dY/dX, has recently conducted a study on remote working over this period; what have been your key findings, especially in terms of businesses having to adapt to new operating models in the past 100 days?

Templar Wales:
Many businesses are moving away from everybody working from home to a hybrid model – where some people go into the office and other people work from home. Some of the key issues that people are struggling with are HR and IT policies. Many policies only for when people are in the office and not for when people are working from home. The other is management style – so the role and style of management in terms of building trust and managing output rather than hours. People have been talking about managing output rather than hours for years but now they are having to trust that people are doing their jobs. A very important part of that is also finding a balance between checking in that people are okay and giving them support, making sure they’re clear on what they need to do, but leaving them enough time to do deep work – to deliver on what they need to.

Flo:
HR is central to most businesses. What advice would you give to companies who are grappling with how things are having to move forward?

Templar Wales:
The people that are able to do their job from home – if they work on a laptop or phone – are probably the least affected. The people that are the most affected are those who are leading teams and HR; they’re asking questions like, “How do I lead and manage my teams in this way?” So the one challenge is managing your team so that you can work effectively with them and have clarity around your structures, your meetings, how many meetings you have and how often. The other is around upskilling – making sure that both your teams and your management are upskilled in terms of how to work better together, how to build teamwork and culture together, as well as the tools that you need to execute on that.

Flo:
Let’s talk about the many positives of working from home – for one, we don’t have to sit in traffic. Also psychologically, it must be quite a lot easier to not have to worry about getting up in the morning, preparing yourself to go to work and sitting in traffic. Surely there must be a number of positives to take out from this, not only for employees but for employers as well?

Templar Wales:
Absolutely, the positives are many. There’s the upside on a personal level where you don’t have to sit in traffic for 1 or 2 hours of the day, many people report eating better, exercising and being more mindful. I think the benefits to businesses are that they can start to do a lot of cost-cutting – like downsizing office space and the resources that they use to perform certain duties at work. We need to make sure that we don’t go back to the old ways of working and take full advantage of the benefits that this hybrid model offers – where you can keep people working at home and either have certain people doing certain roles or at certain times; so you do 90% of your work from home and then come into the office as and when you need to. So from a cost-cutting and operational perspective, there are a lot of opportunities for businesses to actually benefit. From an employment point of view – if you are now employing people to work remotely, you can recruit people from around the world. You can find the best people who not only live in your city but anywhere.

Flo:
Let’s say, in a year from now, we find ourselves in a situation where we’re all clear, we’re not dealing with this pandemic anymore and it’s a thing of the past… Do you see companies deciding that this has worked and that this is the way to move forward?

Templar Wales:
Absolutely. A lot of us hope that that’s the case. A lot of the conversation is around how COVID has forced people into a digital transformation that should have happened anyway. We see this as an opportunity to leap forward and not just with a temporary change of behaviour, but a more permanent one. We need to take the best of both – how do we benefit from what we use our office for and how do we benefit from working from home? Already you have businesses like Google who are employing thousands of South Africans to work remotely in their help centre.

 

Meeting formulae Marketing Optimisation

Meeting Formula | Marketing Campaign Optimisation

By | Agile Marketing, Future of Work, HR, Productivity, Remote Working, Talent, Team Culture | No Comments

To improve their effectiveness and profitability, all marketing campaigns should be continuously optimised; taking into account new changes to your business environment and target audience behaviour. Using the power of collaboration, this meeting formula is designed to help your team supercharge your marketing campaigns.

What is the goal of this meeting?

Develop clear and prioritised actions – agreed upon by our remote team – to drive marketing campaign optimisation.

What tools will I need for this meeting?

Web conferencing tool and a collaboration platform that supports stickies and voting.

How much time should I set aside?

You will need about 1–1.5 hours to complete this session.

MEETING AGENDA

  • 5 min | Check-in – The meeting facilitator sets the scene for what will be done in the session. This includes:
    • Define the problem – where do we want to be?
    • Define the constraints – what do we have to work within?
  • 10 min | Current stats and Performance – using a dashboard snapshot, team members share ideas on stickies to define areas of improvement.
  • 10 min | Brainstorm – team brainstorms optimisation ideas on the collaborative platform, adding multiple ideas to stickies silently.
  • 15 min | Affinity Sorting – cluster ideas into prefered strategies and discuss as a group.
  • 10 min | Best Actions – prioritise within resources, budget, timeline and other defined constraints. Scoring will take place within the collaboration tool silently.
  • 15 min | Delegation – using a tasking platform or a table, define who does what and by when.
  • 5 min | Closing

It’s a good idea to share information ahead of time; such as the meeting agenda, any pre-reading material, and the link to the collaboration tools you will be using in your session. For this example, we have used Google Slides as our collaboration tool.

PROBLEM + CONSTRAINTS | 5 minutes

As the meeting facilitator, welcome everyone, thank them for participating and then briefly discuss the intended outcomes for this meeting. At the start of your meeting, provide a brief overview of the campaign’s ‘problem’ as well as the constraints you have to work within. In this example, the challenge to be solved is how to increase email conversion rates. The constraints are limited budget and design resources. This should be covered in the check-in phase and should not take longer than 5minutes cover.

Formula Campaign Optimisation

CURRENT STATS & PERFORMANCE | 10 minutes 

Once your team understands your campaign optimisation goal, the next step is to look at current campaign performance. No matter your campaign type, it is likely you will have a digital dashboard displaying your campaign’s performance statistics. 

Include a screenshot of your campaign dashboard in your meeting presentation; however, if you do not have a dashboard, you can simply list your current campaign metrics in a table, or share your analytics dashboard.

This information should ideally be shared with your team ahead of time so they are familiar with the data and can spend this time in the meeting asking questions and adding insights to the raw data.

CURRENT STATS & PERFORMANCE

BRAINSTORM IDEAS | 10 minutes (silence) 

Now the team is familiar with the campaign challenge and the team’s constraints, you can brainstorm together to find new ways for improving or optimising your campaign. Prepare a slide with blank “stickies” or text-box shapes people can type in. Your team will use these stickies to input their ideas.

BRAINSTORM IDEAS

At this point, it’s a good idea to ask your team to go on mute and allow 10minutes of silence while they populate the slide’s stickies with their ideas. The first time your team brainstorm their ideas like this, it is natural for them to be hesitant. Even if the first few minutes are an awkward silence, keep it going while your team warms up to the concept.

how to improve

AFFINITY SORTING | 15 minutes 

The next step is to cluster your team’s ideas into prefered strategies. It’s likely your team will have ideas which overlap. It is also likely some ideas need a bit more explaining. Commit 15 minutes for a discussion aimed at sorting all the ideas into clusters of similar concepts or similar actions. It’s also helpful to provide a brief concept description once your team has grouped their ideas together.

BEST ACTIONS | 10 minutes (silence)
The idea clusters now need to be evaluated for 1) their strength and 2) against your constraints. A simple voting mechanism in Google Sheets works well for this. Set up the voting sheet ahead of the meeting so all you need to do is input the names of the ideas. Share the link to the sheet in your meeting chat so everyone can score the ideas at once. The process should be silent and not take longer than 10minutes to score.

BEST ACTIONS

First, the team first votes on their preferred idea based on the strength of the idea and how well it meets the challenge. Next, the team scores the ideas based on the constraints discussed at the start of the meeting.

Best Actions

 

The highest scoring idea takes priority, and the others follow. It is also likely some ideas will not make it past this slide phase as very low scoring ideas should possibly not be acted on. 

Once your whole team has voted, you can easily work out which idea scored the highest and then sort the ideas by their priority.

DELEGATE | 15 minutes 

Your team should have a clear idea of where to start so it’s time to assign actions to your team members. This should be done directly into your task management system. If your team is not using one, you can use a simple table to assign the actions to your team. Be sure to include who does what and by when.

CLOSING | 5 minutes
Confirm team commitments by making sure each next step is clear, assigned to a

committed owner, and has a reasonable due date. Ask if anyone has final questions or comments. And finally, acknowledge your team’s participation and express gratitude for special contributions.

Remote-Ready or At Risk?

By | Future of Work, HR, Productivity, Remote Working, Talent, Team Culture | No Comments

When done right, remote working boosts overall effectiveness and provides businesses with tangible cost-saving advantages. If teams fail to adapt, companies run the risk of losing productivity and revenue, and the collapse of company culture and employee engagement. It is ever more important to understand where your team is in their remote working journey and to take the necessary steps to support a remote workforce.

If It Can Be Measured, It Can Be Managed

Change can be overwhelming, but adapting your company policies to reflect the demands of the modern workforce is necessary to keep up with the future world of work. Through our experience in Culture and the Future of Work, we have learned that it’s not as simple as being remote-ready or not; and there’s a chance your team is not as effective remotely as it needs to be. 

Experience has shown us that companies go through various stages on route to remote working effectiveness. If you are able to identify and measure what stage your team is at, you can take the necessary course-corrective actions to shift your team toward remote working maturity.

Remote Working Maturity Stages

Remote Working Maturity Stages

 

TAKE THE ASSESSMENT

Read more about the assessment

Remote Team Maturity Assessment

Working remotely can hold greater value and business benefits than a typical office environment. We’re driven to be a change agent in the workplace and an ally in amplifying remote team strengths. 

That’s why we created the Remote Team Maturity assessment. Built on years of experience and research in the future world of work, it evaluates your team around 6 areas of work and against traits and actions found among the most effective remote teams. The assessment takes no longer than 10 minutes and is a simple, yet powerful way to benchmark your team’s remote maturity and effectiveness. Discover how your team measures up and gain the insight you need to take immediate action to help your remote team thrive.

We have also developed “The Culture Canvas”—an open-source framework that makes work culture actionable for businesses to shape their team’s behaviours—as well as our latest ebook “me.we.us – Remote Team Management”, which is available for free download. 

DYDX Partner, Nevo Hadas Discusses The Future of Productivity on 702

By | Automation, Future of Work, In the news, Productivity | No Comments

Nevo Hadas, a partner at DYDX, chatted with 702’s Nickolaus Bauer about how companies can rethink the fundamentals of productivity in the workplace for effective results from their employees. What are the implications of the automation and the future of work for South Africa?

Listen to the discussion here:

Key Takeouts:

  • The traditional understanding of being productive is sitting on a chair in an office for 8 hours. 
  • Our ideas of what is considered as ‘productivity’ fundamentally stem from Adam Smith’s economic theories; which are hundreds of years old. 
  • At the time of constructing his theories, (including that of the circular economy) Adam Smith lived with his mother, did not contribute to running a household and had little other responsibility than his work. 
  • What creates value in an economy – things like looking after kids and ageing parents, in fact, anything that we actually spend money on or invest our time in or that we find valuable as human beings – did not make it into Adam Smith’s idea of productivity. 
  • Unfortunately, a lot of theories like Adam Smith’s have taken hold and a lot of what we perceive as valuable in the workplace is based on these theories, versus a more holistic view of what a person does which creates value for the company and society as a whole. 
  • If you have a broader idea of what productivity is, you realise that a) no one has to be glued to a seat in order to be productive, and b) it does not have to be 8 hours. In fact, globally there’s a big shift toward flex time and flexible working. 
  • This also shifts how you can be productive. As technology takes hold, a lot of tasks we do will not be necessary in future – things like forwarding emails or sifting through basic data can be done by bots meaning people will have more time for making decisions or for high-level functions versus these basic tasks. 
  • A big risk we face in South Africa is that the types of jobs we are currently creating are not in line with the types of jobs we will need in future. The big challenge for us is international technology impacting South Africans with more entry-level white-collar and administrative jobs as a lot of tasks within these roles can be automated. It’s not that the jobs will be unnecessary, it’s simply that many tasks can be automated so the nature of these jobs will change. 
  • Most jobs don’t require eight hours a day so you can be more effective with your time if some of your tasks are automated. The same technology that is terrifying for an employee can be enabling for an entrepreneur because you can perform at higher productivity and functionality without a huge team’s support. 
  • Freedom and flexibility will increase, spilling into family lives giving us more time for a better work/life balance. 
  • In terms of digital transformation, it’s hard to know exactly where South Africa is compared to the rest of the world because there are different types of economies in the country. Through experience working with many global organisations around the world, on a global trend perspective, we are about at least 8 years behind.
  • A lot of this has to do with a lacking investment into infrastructure required to support a remote workforce. Data is expensive and businesses don’t provide data subsidies. There are still a lot of PCs instead of laptops for staff to work with. Networks are not easy or not possible to be accessed remotely. These and many factors are holding back companies in South Africa. 

 

Nevo is the founding partner of DYDX and has led the development of “The Culture Canvas”—an open-source framework that makes work culture actionable for businesses to shape their team’s behaviours—as well as the latest ebook “Me.We.Us – Remote Team Management”, which is available for free download, and the 10-minute “Remote Team Maturity” assessment tool designed to help companies measure the effectiveness of their remote teams.