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How to Lead Cross-Functional Teams

How to Lead Cross-Functional Teams

Companies have long been siloed off into distinct functions: marketing, sales, IT, operations, and so on. Each department is focused on its own tasks and responsibilities, seldom interacting with other people outside of the team. But as business culture and technology continue to evolve in the 21st century, the definition of a modern team has come to take on a new meaning.

Today, the world’s most successful companies no longer rely on outdated hierarchies or structures: they are diverse in background, skill, specialization, and experience. In this post, we’ll describe the main elements of a cross-functional team and the best practices for leading these teams.


What is a cross-functional team?

Cross-functional teams are groups of people from different levels or departments of the organization, united by a clear message or shared goals.

For example, instead of having a dedicated sales team, a company may instead create a specialized, self-managing team consisting of salespeople as well as programmers, service representatives, content creators, account executives, and others all working to generate more leads for a business.

Since cross-functional teams have members of various backgrounds, they can better communicate about particular bottlenecks in the process while collaborating on smarter or more efficient solutions.


Benefits of cross-functional teams


Employee engagement

Working within a single department or division can stifle creativity and productivity. When teams are able to work with people across departments, there is more opportunity to learn new skills, to build a better understanding of the business as a whole, and to grow as an individual. Diverse teams lead to diverse ideas.



When different-minded people come together, true innovation is possible. In the mid-2000s, Cisco developed a cross-functional team to help develop more secure router lines. The team comprised of marketers, engineers, manufacturers, QA testers, and customer service representatives. While there were about 100 people attending meetings, there was also a “core group” of 20 people, as well as a leadership team. Cisco today is the number one router security vendor, thanks to successfully implementing a cross-functional system.


Greater leadership

Heading a cross-functional team is a tremendous opportunity for any individual to improve their management skills and develop stronger leadership skills. This is because cross-functional leaders don’t just look at one aspect or area of a business (such as sales), but how every department is crucial to overall success. There are many moving parts, from suppliers and manufacturers to marketers and distributors, and being able to lead a team through such a large operation can be inspiring and deeply fulfilling.


Cross-functional team challenges

As one can imagine, cross-functional teams are not without their fair share of challenges. In his renowned leadership book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni identifies the top most common challenges of a team: Absence of Trust, Fear of Conflict, Lack of Commitment, Avoidance of Accountability, and Inattention to Results.


Absence of Trust

Trust is the foundation of any successful relationship. The same can be said for cross-functional teams— trust is what leads to better communication, stronger teamwork, and more successful results. But for people to trust each other, they must be willing to show vulnerability, something that people tend to equate with weakness instead of authenticity.


Fear of Conflict

Nobody likes getting into arguments with other people, it can be tiring and a major waste of time. But the greatest leaders understand that disagreement can be productive, even necessary. Because individual team members are so concerned over preserving the peace (Lencioni refers to as “artificial harmony”), the team as a whole may overlook important considerations or opportunities.


Lack of Commitment

Anyone can come up with ideas, but seeing them become reality requires commitment. Unfortunately, team members can be easily dismissive of new ideas, not fully understanding their potential, or simply not convinced they are worth the time. Lack of buy-in or commitment from the team can lead to members delivering half-baked results.


Avoidance of Accountability

At some point, team members must take full ownership of failure or shortcoming. It’s easy to blame others on the team, but to be accountable is a mark of true leadership. The same can be said for holding others accountable— it may seem ideal to keep positive friendships, accountability must come first in a team.


Inattention to Results

The ultimate dysfunction of a team is when the members care only about their own goals and outcomes, rather than that of the collective. For a team to truly operate as a team, they must set aside personal desires to focus on the group’s shared mission.


Cross-functional team building

With the benefits and challenges of a cross-functional organization in mind, one may wonder— how can I build my team to become cross-functional?

It starts with a kick-off meeting to create the team’s identity. What are the team’s goals? Which project should be prioritized above everything else? What values and principles would make for a clear decision-making process? These are just a few of the questions that leaders should be ready to ask. Clear goals are crucial to a team’s identity.

The other important consideration is communication. With so many people from different departments on one team, clarity and synchronicity are key. Develop processes that ensure each individual is heard, no matter how small the complaint. If the members are working remotely, then the team will need to rely more heavily on tools and technology to stay on the same page.


Beyond the initial meeting and the assurance of clear communication, leading a cross-functional team is like a giant experiment: you must learn by testing and trialing as you go along. Over time, you will come to understand each person’s strengths and weaknesses, and how the individual fits into the collective. You can then use this knowledge to improve your organizational process, your services, or products as a whole.




Tips for Providing Feedback to Remote Workers

Tips for Providing Feedback to Remote Workers

Remote work is forming the backbone of American business, and leaders must adapt their communication skills accordingly. While it may have been acceptable to do monthly reviews or in-person interviews before, new ways must be learned to properly keep up with our advancing technology. Novel Coworking covers tips, tools, and strategies for providing constructive feedback to your team.


Giving Positive Feedback

Research has shown that positive feedback can motivate employees to perform better. In a study by Harvard Business Review, high performing teams shared nearly six times more positive feedback than average teams, while low performing teams share nearly twice as much negative feedback. As the saying goes, “you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”.

When sharing feedback, be mindful of the communication channel. Understand that praising someone over a call is inherently different from saying the same thing over an instant message. Consider tone and voice, for example. Text-based feedback relies heavily on context, punctuation, and vocabulary. Whereas voice or video-based feedback relies more on the way the message is spoken or delivered (eye contact, body language, facial expressions, etc.)

Create Slack channels (or similar communication channels) for praising team members. Too often on our messaging apps, team leaders focus on assigning tasks or following up on a project, yet forget to give praise where it’s due. Developing dedicated spaces for positive feedback can be highly motivating and rewarding.


Tactics for Corrective Feedback

Interns and veteran employees all make mistakes— it’s only human. But how leaders react and respond accordingly determines the future success of a company. Corrective feedback is crucial to overall improvement, but it can also be easier said than done.

Instead of reacting emotionally when someone messes up, analyze the problem as if you were a neutral third-party. Ask yourself if the issue may be environmental— such as a process error or unclear instructions. Ask your team what they think may have gone wrong, so you may have varying perspectives. Finally, ask the team what could be done differently to prevent the mistake in the future.

For example, a customer may leave as a result of a bad interaction with a remote representative. The knee jerk reaction would be to blame the representative for handling the situation poorly. But after taking a second to understand the situation, other contributing factors may arise, such as a faulty system, or lack of training.

It’s also important to find out the employee’s preference for receiving feedback. Some may prefer more direct communication, such as a video call, while others may prefer a phone call. The best way to find out is to ask.

Depending on the situation, you may also want to consider 1:1 sessions or team meetings. The former may be more appropriate for serious problems or direct, task-based feedback, whereas team meetings may be better for large, operational efficiencies under a project.

Finally, correct timing means everything. Giving corrective feedback also involves sharing the feedback at the ideal time. This varies from person to person, project to project. At times it may be a one-off discussion after the task or project, and other times it may require monthly meetings to check in on the progress. Time your feedback in a manner consistent with the nature of the feedback.


Feedback Strategies

Here are a few different yet effective models for sharing your feedback with your team:

SBI Feedback Model

This model is a simple and direct way to act on the information that you have. SBI stands for Situation, Behavior, and Impact. Feedback is broken down as follows:

  • Situation – What happened? Explain the problem clearly, noting the time, place, and other important contextual factors (“Yesterday morning during the client meeting…”)
  • Behavior – How did people behave? Explain what you can observe from how people discuss or act regarding the situation. (“…You made an insensitive remark…”)
  • Impact – What happened afterward? Explain the aftermath, reactions, and consequences of the situation. (“…It was frustrating because it was unkind and unprofessional.”)

SBI Feedback is useful because it breaks down the problem and effect in a clear and understandable way, and it focuses on what people can observe, rather than assumptions about the person’s character.

360-Degree Feedback

We’ve discussed the value of 360-degree feedback in the past because we genuinely believe it to be a useful way to collect feedback from all levels in a company. Unlike a single evaluation, which is subject to bias and myopia, 360-degree feedback takes into account various perspectives and relationships, providing a more comprehensive evaluation in the end.

How does it work? It starts with a survey that asks a person to evaluate the subject on a variety of metrics— performance, behavior, strengths and weaknesses, skills, and goals.

Then, a leader must observe the various interactions the subject has— from leaders and supervisors to colleagues and customers. Once there is a full list, the survey can be sent to each individual.

Learn more about 360-Degree Feedback in our guide here.


Personal Coaching

More often than not, human error can be attributed to poor communication and training. Instead of being reactive, giving feedback after something happens, coaches can be proactive, and seek out problems before they arise. They can often spot patterns and red flags before anyone else because they’ve been there before.

Another benefit of coaching is the additional attention given to each individual. Coaches are in a better position to ask questions about why someone did something, rather than what they did wrong. That’s because coaches are able to develop closer relationships with a subject than someone conducting an evaluation.

If remote work is here to stay, then we must also develop new practices and techniques for communicating more effectively. In the past, leaders were limited to phone calls and emails, but today video conferencing has made conversations more interactive than ever before. New models are being developed on how individuals share and receive feedback, providing more context and nuance to human interactions.

Remote work doesn’t have to feel remote at all. All the team needs are systems to share constructive feedback clearly, quickly, and consistently. You would be amazed at how much it can affect a business.

The Importance of Community Involvement

The Importance of Community Involvement

In a way, businesses are like small communities. They rely on the contributions of individuals to build and improve a collective, creating better goods and services for everyone involved. But companies are also part of greater communities as well— both locally and globally. Since businesses draw on those communities to grow, it only makes sense that they have a responsibility to give back in return.

So how exactly can a company contribute to its community? Before we answer that, we have to understand why community involvement is important.


Personal Satisfaction

Let’s be honest: community service can feel good! Even though it’s an act done for someone else, it can boost our mood tremendously.

One Gallup study found that people who volunteer to serve communities are significantly happier than those who do not. In the survey, those that volunteered reported an average Well-Being Index score of 70 (out of 100) while those that did not volunteer reported an average score of 58.5.

There could be several reasons for this: from impacting one’s personal growth to developing new perspectives. It can make someone see their own privilege, or understand their connection to the greater good. It simply feels good to help others.


Employee Engagement

Culture makes the personality of a company, and community involvement makes culture. Although perks like gaming rooms and happy hours make a company look more attractive, community involvement is what brings out an employee’s passion at work, provides tension relief, and even improves leadership skills. In short, volunteerism can genuinely engage an employee.

The science backs it up too. Deloitte published a study in 2017 that found that employees who volunteer their time tend to be “proud, loyal and satisfied employees” compared to those that never volunteer. Community work can make the difference between a business focused on money, and a business with greater intentions.


Business Benefits

It’s not just the employees who benefit, the whole company does as well. Just as community involvement leads to increased employee participation and retention, it can also boost customer loyalty and attract talent.

Millennials, a generation with over 92 million individuals, are leading the trend. More so than previous generations, millennials embrace authenticity, transparency, and meaning from a company. In fact, one Nielsen report shows that 73% of millennials would spend more on socially conscious and sustainable brands— roughly 10% higher than the average respondent.


How to Start Community Involvement At Work

Interested in getting your company to start giving back to the community? Great! Here’s how you can get started.

First ask yourself a few questions: what passions match your values? What problems do you notice in your own community, both locally and globally? Understand what drives meaningful change within your community.

If it helps, you may want to create a sub-committee within your company to brainstorm different community involvement ideas. Ask for ideas, speak with equally passionate volunteers, and find common ground about how your company can leverage its skills and capabilities to help out.

Here are a few community involvement ideas:

– Donating to a local charity
– Volunteering at a soup kitchen or food pantry
– Cleaning up a park district
– Fundraising for a cause
– Mentoring at-risk youth
– Organize a clothes drive for donation
– Plant flowers or trees in public areas
– Participate in a community event


These are just ideas— feel free to add or change them depending on what your company wishes to do! The important part is getting out there and using your time to help someone else.

Community involvement often seems like a daunting task, especially with so many other projects to finish at work. But when you realize the good it spreads, the positivity it generates within the company, and the impact you can create in the community, then volunteering becomes a collective responsibility.


Essential Self-Evaluation Tips

Essential Self-Evaluation Tips

Importance of Self Evaluations

Self-assessment is a crucial part of career growth, not only for an employee but also for the company as a whole. It is a chance for both the employer and employee to gauge their efforts, determine their respective goals, and make the necessary changes for the future. Both employer and employee should think of self-evaluations as a tool to align the values and goals of a company with its day-to-day work and improve as a whole.

Self-evaluation is often framed as a way to determine shortcomings. But great self-evaluations should also include and highlight achievements and successes. By acknowledging both, an individual is able to create and build confidence in what they are doing. For an employee working with a company, or an entrepreneur building a business, or a freelancer making a name for himself, acknowledging that you’ve met your goals and enjoying the rewards of your hard work is a good way to tell yourself that you’re on the right path in your professional career.

The importance of self-evaluations ultimately comes down to how it can benefit the individual by acknowledging both success and failure and setting new goals to move forward.


What to Include in a Self Evaluation

Evaluations differ from company to company, but there is one concept that may help you produce more consistent self-evaluations. The most important thing to keep in mind is to determine and set goals for each individual and for the company as a whole. These goals should follow the SMART acronym – which stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely.

Specific goals must be set in order to avoid confusion and to keep things on track. These goals can be things like “Build a marketing plan to increase sales by 50% from the last year” or “Create a 7 day training curriculum to onboard new hires”. A goal is specific if there is a clear result of what must be done or be produced.

Goals should have a set of intended results or outcomes. The criteria for measurement can be different depending on the type of goal. An easy example would be for sales, how many products are we able to sell in 6 months. It may also involve less obvious metrics, like the number of inquiries in a given period. You can provide a scorecard and assign values to determine if the result was below or beyond expectations.

Goals must be achievable. You can’t set and expect difficult goals and punish an individual for not achieving something that historical data would suggest as impossible. This would create animosity between employees and companies, as employees would feel that management would love to see them fail (and possibly be ineligible for monetary bonuses, a common cost-saving tactic). As such, creating challenges and achievable goals is a good way to motivate individuals and give them a clear metric to surpass and go beyond expectations. Impossible and unfair goals only create problems down the line.

Keep goals relevant to the current situation. This goes hand in hand with the previous point in that goals should be achievable at the time whilst remaining relevant. Relevancy could also point towards just how the company or business will benefit from meeting these goals. To check if a goal is relevant is to ask yourself “How does this fit with the direction of the business” and “How will this goal evolve in the future”. Make sure to keep them relevant so as to not lose focus, and in order keep yourself on track.

The final aspect of SMART goals is timely. This means that your goals have a clear start and end. This final point is essentially a checklist of the 4 previous aspects. Timely goals are specific and relevant while being achievable for the individual with a way to measure progress and success.

Here’s a relevant video on self-evaluations from CIO:



Do’s and Don’ts of a Self Evaluation



Be proud of yourself. This is the time to acknowledge the great things you have done and achieved. Don’t be afraid to say that you were able to deliver when it comes to the challenges you’ve faced.

To help with the first point of being proud of yourself, it’s important to be specific. This helps in staying humble by sticking to the results and avoiding unnecessary anecdotes that will make you sound like you’re bragging. If goals should be specific, then results should be as well.

Another point to compliment the previous one is to be professional. If you did a good job, your work will speak for itself. You might be the top performer at your firm but nobody likes someone who undermines others. Keep personal problems out of the workplace (unless it involves issues with another coworker and negatively impacts your work performance).

An important thing to remember is to remain critical. Remember that there is always room to improve. You might have met expectations but it’s always good to acknowledge that you can go beyond them. Ask yourself some basic questions, like:

– What is it I am trying to achieve?

– Are my methods effective enough for achieving that result?

– What went well last month? What could have been better?

Some of the best questions are tough to answer. But a self-evaluation is all about facing the side of yourself that you’re not always proud of.



Don’t be shy. Think of it as a job interview and in a way, it kind of is. For some people, it’s definitely difficult to talk about good things about yourself and the things that you’ve done. While it is important to be humble, try not to undervalue yourself. This is definitely something that you’ll regret later on.

Don’t be vague. Again, be as specific as possible when outlining your achievements. You’ll know you’re being vague when your evaluator is asking a lot of follow up questions. Try to stick to a script and don’t leave out the important parts. You should know what metrics the evaluator would need to hear.

Don’t be negative. To complement the previous points, there is a fine line with being humble and unfairly criticizing yourself. You’ll say you’ve met a certain goal but finish it up with a negative thought. Instead, you should state the problem and end it with a solution. Coming up with ways to improve is not negative because you should also present and suggest solutions to overcome them. This shows you are determined to improve.

Tip: Obviously most self-evaluation interviews are not spontaneous. Usually, you’ll receive a form and after filling it out, you’ll be interviewed by your manager. It’s always good to self-evaluate yourself from time to time, so you’ll know what to say.


Next Steps After a Self Evaluation

Once you’ve completed your self-evaluation, it’s always best to gather feedback. In corporate settings, you’ll usually receive a follow-up interview a week or two after the evaluation. For most, this is when you’ll get your results and feedback from management. It’s always best to keep an open mind about whatever feedback you receive and to not beat yourself up over a less than satisfactory result.

The next thing you can do for yourself is to ask for training or find a mentor. You can approach your supervisor regarding this. Undergoing training allows you to refresh yourself with the basics or learn new skills. However, it’s always best to find a mentor and learn from them. The greatest thing in the world is experience. With a mentor, you’ll be able to learn from their experience while going through your own challenges. You’ll learn from a veteran who has been there and done that, whose methods you know actually work.

Finally, take this time to commit to being a life-long learner. By continuing to educate yourself, you’ll have a productive mindset not only with work but with your personal life as well. Someone who always strives to learn will always be ready to deal with any challenges they are faced with.


Self-evaluations are just one step in overall employee engagement. Learn about how to improve work-life balance as well.


Your Guide to 360 Reviews

Your Guide to 360 Reviews

Employee evaluations are essential to the health and direction of a company. Without knowing how well each person is performing, teams are doomed to fail. The worst part is that many of the existing evaluation systems used by companies today fail to deliver useful, actionable insights on performance.

One technique that has seen more success is the 360 review. It involves a multi-perspective appraisal of someone’s work performance, as opposed to the singular review used by other systems. But before you rush off to start using it in your own company, it’s first important to understand how it works, and the pitfalls to avoid.


What are 360 Reviews?

360 reviews, also known as 360-degree feedback or rating, is an alternative feedback approach that seeks to include multiple perspectives in evaluating a worker’s performance. Instead of solely relying on a manager for feedback, 360 reviews take into account the experiences and interactions with customers, coworkers, leaders, and other individuals associated with the company.

The goal is to paint a less biased and more comprehensive view of each individual, hence the “360” name. But the method is not without its pros and cons.


Pros of 360 Reviews

– Variety of reviewers – A single review by a manager or supervisor is subject to bias claims. It doesn’t take into account the other tasks that a person may work on or the other people they may interact with. 360 reviews prevent this by involving other individuals within the subject’s sphere, creating a deeper, more nuanced image.

– Develops teamwork – Since employees no longer have to focus their effort on impressing a single person, teams can actually focus on their work and on helping each other. The point is to make a positive impression on the whole team, not just one person.

– Career development – Since 360 reviews affect so many people at once, teams can better advise how a person can advance their career. It may involve networking, receiving the right work opportunities, or simply being in a conversation where they ordinarily wouldn’t be.

Gather in-depth insights – 360 reviews can uncover deeper truths that would have been missed if conducted by a single person. For example, a female worker in a predominantly male environment may not feel as comfortable talking about her concerns with a male supervisor as she might with a female colleague. 


Cons of 360 Reviews

– Large amounts of data – 360-degree reviews will involve 5 – 10 times the amount of responses as a traditional report. This means more time and money that must be invested.

– Focuses on weaknesses – As with many review systems, both reviewers and administrators can get too caught up on weaknesses or downsides instead of the strengths and positives of a person. With so much feedback from so many different people, reviewers may feel pressured to provide some critical feedback.

– Inexperienced raters – Not everyone is trained to give detailed reviews, so one person may provide a comprehensive write up while someone else may offer the bare minimum.


Tools for 360 Reviews


Zoho People

Looking for a full comprehensive HR suite? Zoho People is for you. This online app takes care of everything from company policies to training, to time tracking and appraisals. The best part is it’s super sleek and sports an easy-to-understand interface, which complements any of the other apps from Zoho’s suite. If you’re looking for a one-stop-shop for HR needs, take a look into Zoho People.



If you’re interested specifically in creating and running 360-degree feedback assessments, then Spidergap has you covered. Spidergap makes it incredibly easy and intuitive to put reports together, customize the questionnaires, and analyze the overall feedback. While your first assessment is free, Spidergap’s pricing may differ depending on the number of employees you plan on assessing. Either way, the investment is worth it — big names like the European Commission, The Children’s Trust,, Cisco, NHS, and Sony Computer Entertainment have all used it before.


Vision Metrics

Vision Metrics is another provider of 360 Degree Feedback software, as well as 180 Degree Feedback. The company offers unlimited tech support, fully customizable feedback forms, and a platform that has been honed over 10 years. The best aspect of Vision Metrics are the beautiful reports, which help breakdown each person’s responses in quantitative, actionable ways. If you’re not ready to pay the full price, Vision Metrics offers a free 30-day trial for you to try it out.



Out of all the options, QualtricsXM is the most future-proof option. It has all the other 360 assessment features you’d come to expect, but it goes the extra mile and provides a few high-tech upgrades: voice analytics, AI and machine learning analysis, even recommended actions based on the results. QualtricsXM’s futuristic platform has even serviced over 11,000 major brands, from Adidas to Zillow. If your business is more of an enterprise or on an international scale, Qualtrics XM will be the ideal choice for you.


Who participates in 360 Reviews?

If 360 reviews involve more individuals in a company, who exactly do they involve? Before starting a 360 review, it’s important for everyone to know their exact role.

The main roles involve:

  1. The administrator
  2. The subject
  3. The manager
  4. The reviewers


The administrator

The administrator conducts the 360 reviews, from briefing each person, to collecting the results, to creating direct reports and action plans after the review. Without the administrator, there would be no one to facilitate the 360 review process.

It’s important to note that the administrator is not the manager. For a 360 assessment to be successful, the administrator should ideally be from a third-party, someone outside the company.


The subject

The subject refers to the person being reviewed. It can refer to the person at the bottom or at the top of the pecking order, but they must be from within the company. Before conducting an assessment, it is important for the administrator to properly brief the subject, so they know that they are about to be reviewed by various members of the company.

Critical feedback may arise, but it’s crucial that the subject hears it all. After the assessment it is up to the subject to decide whether he wants to make a difference to better himself or not.


The manager

Since managers tend to lead and direct the ones being assessed, they play an equally important role, although with a different perspective. Their job is not to comment on the subject’s performance, but rather the subject’s skills, interpersonal relationships, and communication.

The manager should work closely with the administrator to ensure that the subject receives proper training and guidance after the assessment.


The reviewers

What would a 360 review be without reviewers? These are the coworkers and cross-functional peers, the ones the subject interacts with on a frequent basis. They may even be clients and customers willing to provide feedback.

360 reviews typically need around 4-10 reviewers. Honest, constructive feedback is imperative to the success of the assessment as a whole.


What do you measure in 360 reviews?

360 reviews are all about evaluating a worker’s performance, but exactly what aspects are administrators evaluating? The answer depends, and varies depending on the industry and nature of business. But there are a few common threads in all 360 surveys.

The most commonly discussed skill is leadership. How well does a person direct the resources and team members towards a specific goal? How responsible or accountable are they in their duties? Above all, how willing are they to listen to others? These questions will help guide your evaluation of the subject’s leadership skills.

Another big consideration is the subject’s communication skills and interactions. This covers everything from speaking, clarity, non-verbal communication, negotiation, and overall being able to convey an idea or concept to someone else.

Reliability measures the ability of someone to follow through on a project or task. The higher up the leadership ladder, the more reliable a person must be.

How well of a job does the subject do on a recurring basis? How do they conduct themselves in front of the highest leaders and the low-level workers? Consistency is key, not just for a job well done, but for stronger business relationships.

Leaders also want to know about the subject’s ability to achieve goals. Whether those are lofty visions or projects for the company, or personal goals unrelated to work, a person’s determination can be a major factor in how one progresses in their career.

At the end of it all, reviewers must assess a subject on their overall performance. Not in terms of efficiency or productivity, but the effectiveness of their actions as a whole.


How to conduct 360 reviews

Train team around 360 reviews – Your team’s initial reaction will be one of confusion. Provide all the necessary information and resources to help them better understand the process and communicate the importance of these surveys. Before any assessment is conducted, it’s important to align the entire company on the purpose of the 360 review: to encourage engagement and advance people’s careers through feedback.

Select your subjects and reviewers – Who will be assessed? Who will do the assessment? The next step is to consider the vast network of interactions going on daily within your company. Reviewers can be further divided into subcategories, such as subordinates, peers, managers, or customers.

Create a competency framework – Which skills or competencies will you assess each person on? This varies depending on the organization. Some companies may want to focus on the leadership aspect of their team members, others will want to see which ones play best in a team.

Prepare the assessment – The administrator of the review should begin preparing a questionnaire based on the competencies outlined above. Include the necessary information on the assessment, such as how to fill it out properly. Administrators should assist in the development of these questions— the better a question is framed, the more insightful the results can be. Above all, keep it short. When assessments drag on, people won’t give it the same level of attention or thought.

Create actionable reports – Once the assessment is over, the administrator should be in charge of creating reports that suggest what to do next. That might mean giving an employee more exposure to a particular department, following up with a team member for abusive behavior, or finding new ways to improve the production process. When all is said and done, the report outlines what the company should learn from the assessment.

What to do with 360 reviews

You’ve finished off reviewing your subjects, now it’s time to analyze the results. Before anything else, make sure to anonymize the responses, so as not to reveal any sensitive information. Respect people’s privacy, and they’ll provide honest and candid feedback.

Speaking of feedback, it goes both ways. After you receive feedback from people, it’s important to provide feedback to the subject as well. Otherwise, they’ll never know how to improve their behavior or work ethic.

Managers and leaders would do well to provide coaching opportunities for those that seek or need them. The best employees or team members are hungry to improve and rise above their rank. Give them the tools to do so.

Find trends among workers. Are people generally dissatisfied with a certain employee? Is there a bottleneck in the process that management should be aware of? 360 assessments are great because they take into account so many different points of view— but many of them say the same thing.

Finally, create reports that can help the business in the long run. A few months after the assessment, people can forget the results rather quickly, so these reports will help remind workers how the company can always improve. Reports should be clearly designed, while condensing the mass of data into action items, and focusing on the big takeaways.

360 assessments remain an indispensable way to learn more about your team, discover ways to improve the company and drive employee engagement. When done correctly, the lessons learned could be pivotal to the future of a company. 360 assessments are still only tools, however, and it’s what the company does with them that will change their course of action forever.

Looking for more ways to keep your team engaged? Visit our page on various talent management strategies here.

10 Tips for Working from Home

10 Tips for Working from Home

There are many benefits to instigating remote working within your organization, however, remote working requires certain other considerations. A great leader can adapt and change their style in order to maximize the benefits of remote working for the company. In this article, we will examine some of the different strategies and methods you can use to inspire, engage, and empower remote workers to make them feel like a valuable part of the team.


1. Develop a morning routine

Early morning risers tend to have a more proactive mindset. That’s because they have more space and time to observe the day before them and make adjustments as necessary. And for early birds, the morning routine is everything.

Instead of searching for a single morning routine that everyone should follow, strive to develop your own. Take inspiration from great entrepreneurs and their own morning routines. Mark Cuban and Warren Buffet read for hours a day. Author and Navy SEAL Jocko Willink lifts weights before running in the morning. Arianna Huffington and Oprah both meditate and practice mindfulness. Even if you don’t do these exact routines, it’s never too late to improve on your own morning routine.


2. Provide remote employees with everything they need to improve communication

Remote working saves your company a lot of money, but in order for this not to be a false economy, it is essential that you don’t skimp on the tools and resources you supply to your staff. Your aim is to make communication as quick and easy as it would be if all parties were in the same office. Email is a poor form of communication, particularly internal email, so invest in tools such as Asana, Wrike, or Slack, so that communication becomes seamless and second nature to all employees. Excellent communication improves teamwork, sparks ideas, and motivates everyone to become more productive. As a leader, ensure you are actively using all of these tools and setting an example. The key is not only supplying the correct tools but ensuring everyone is using them to their full potential.


3. Be more than a voice on the end of a conference call

If you actually want team leaders to feel valued and included, then it is essential that every remote worker gets to visit the head office at least once a year. This will allow everyone to put names to faces, to interact closely, and to feel properly included and ultimately more valued and committed to the company. Plan the visit carefully, and build in a social aspect to the visit in order to build that team spirit.

It is also just as important for leaders to make trips, the other way, to demonstrate that they are willing to travel to meet their employees and to experience remote working properly. When you engage in remote visits, consider adding fun and rewarding things to the visit, such as an employee of the month, or maybe even just birthday wishes. The key point here is not to make your remote workers feel that the only time they see you is for an inspection, or for other negative reasons.


4. Demonstrate an inclusive policy from the head of the company down

It is very easy for a remote worker to feel less important than an office-based employee. A good leader will establish an inclusive policy that values everyone equally. As a leader, this might mean regularly connecting with your remote workers on an individual basis or even just remembering and celebrating birthdays with them, in the same way, you would in the office. Other staff members will be watching to see how you conduct yourself, so by setting a good example, others will follow.

One great idea, if your remote workers work exclusively from home, could be to send them a gift voucher for their local coffee shop. This demonstrates that not only do you value them as an employee but also that you have been thinking of them. Sometimes it is the little gestures that have the biggest impact.


5. Be mindful of time zones and working hours

It’s easy to forget that remote workers may not just be a few miles, but whole continents away. Just as one developer in Chicago might be getting up for work, a designer the Philippines might be getting ready for bed.

Take advantage of a collaborative calendar to sync your team members’ schedules across the board. This will be helpful even for the domestic/local team, as not all team members work the standard 9-5 routine. Establishing time zones and work hours is crucial when moving as a single unit.


6. Leverage software and project management platforms

From Asana to Zoho Projects, there’s no shortage of project management platforms in the age of the Internet. Each one offers a unique take on organization and collaboration, so it’s important to take the time to research and find the best one for your business.

Looking for a Kanban-board style system suited for agile workflow? Trello is the right one for you. Want something clean and similar to a to-do list? Check out Asana. Or maybe you want something you can use on your smartphone. In that case, Basecamp 2 might be what you’re looking for. No matter which platform you end up choosing, just make sure it’s one that is suited to your workflow and empowers your team.


7. Stay active and exercise

If you want to workout, the best time to do so is in the morning. Not only will you have fewer distractions, but getting your heart pumping and your blood flowing can increase your overall energy and alertness before you get to the meat of your day.

We understand that working out in the morning can also seem like a daunting transition, particularly if you have other obligations like dropping off children to school or having a long commute ahead. But you can still find time for a few minutes each day to focus on your fitness health. Check out Pamela Reif’s 10 minute morning work out, which doesn’t need any equipment. Alternatively, the TappBrothers has a 5 Minute Mobility & Stretch Routine with just 5 exercises. Over time, you’ll notice a difference in your focus and energy levels.


8. Set a dedicated time to work on certain projects

Do you ever feel as if there’s never time to tackle the important tasks? Does work continually pile up, before you can even finish the last thing you were working on? Then it may be time for a more effective approach to prioritization: calendar blocking.

The way it works is simple: take your calendar app or just a regular planner, and carve out time in your schedule for each task. Usually, this works best in 30-minute to hour-long intervals. Since your calendar is “blocked” out, that means you’re less likely to take on other tasks or calls during that time, leaving you more space to focus on the task at hand.


9. Find the right physical space for total concentration

Working from home means being surrounded by distractions of comfort. While working in your pajamas or being close to the bed sounds like heaven at first, you quickly find that these luxuries only make working from home that much harder.

Find an isolated room, nook, or space where you can do your best, undistracted work. Over time, you will begin to associate that space with productivity, and merely stepping in that area will prime you into a mindset of work.


10. Manage expectations with clients and team members

Inevitably, there will be obligations from home that keep you from work, like making lunch for the children asking for a snack, or walking your dog. In a physical workplace, there’s more pressure to submit deliverables by a certain time, but at home, it becomes more important to manage expectations carefully.

Give yourself a few extra hours, maybe even an additional day, when promising a deadline to a client or a team member. It always looks better when you can deliver a little early.


At Novel Coworking, we fully embrace the benefits of remote workers and are at the forefront of developing ideas and strategies to maximize the benefits. Visit our website regularly for concepts and ideas on how to benefit from working remotely.