We’ve all been in this situation.  The project is going well, you’re meeting the deadlines, and everything is in place. The waters are calm – so calm that it seems unreal – until the client calls and wants to change the specifics of the project and, of course, keep the original delivery date. What can you do when clients attack, and how should you deal with a client’s project changes?

1. Work on Avoiding Surprises

Do everything possible in your power from day 1 to avoid surprises.

  • Plan ahead: At the beginning of the project, define the different stages of the project, the timelines, delivery dates, and methodologies. Do not leave anything up in the air.
  • Think of different scenarios: Think about some of the things that, according to your experience, could go wrong and work on preventing them from happening. Adjust the delivery dates consequently.
  • Set clear expectations: The minute you detect that the client is expecting something you cannot or are not willing to offer, you need to raise your hand and clarify that point.
  • Share everything you understand: Do it in writing to make sure both of you are on the same page and that expectations are clear on both ends.

The more you work on these points, the less chance you will have of sudden changes in the project. Clients will take you more seriously and will have a harder time coming to you with big variations.

2. Stuff Happens

A project doesn’t takes place in a vacuum, and priorities and requirements are going to shift even if you have set very clear expectations and documented exactly how the project should go.

3. Ask “Why?”

Asking your client the reasons behind their changing priorities will help you understand your client and bring you closer to him/her, and your contact person. Depending on the reasons, you will be able to better react to the following demands:

  • “My competitor started doing it like this”: It is extremely common for clients to see that their competition has come up with a new strategy, and the client immediately wants to do the same thing. In this case, help you client evaluate if it is a good idea to follow the competition and help him/her prioritize that decision. It is your duty as a professional to help your clients understand their priorities, especially if you are a freelancer or a contractor.
  • “Because we think it’s a good idea”: Sorry, that is not really a reason. Sometimes, clients have a hard time sticking to the agreed scope and need to be brought back in line by an external professional so that the project can be finished and afterwards analyzed. Help you clients find their path.
  • “It’s worth trying!”: Raise your eyebrows! This is suspicious! If the client seems to be making changes for no reason, maybe your services are too cheap and he/she thinks that it is worth trying different things because the price is so low. Raise your prices, and you will see how your clients request fewer changes! Knowing the reasons for the changes will give you information about your prices and the value that you are offering.
  • “Orders from above”: There is not much you can do in this case. When project specifics suddenly change, something has probably shifted in the priorities of the organization, and your client is only reacting to a situation he/she has no control upon. In this case, if you still want to be part of the project, you will need to adapt to the new priorities.

4. Adjust

When circumstances change, you need to be flexible enough to adjust without the project derailing.

Help your client, but remember that you don’t have to be punished for these changes; for example, too many extra hours or too much stressing without proper pay. At the same time, don’t punish your client either; it doesn’t mean that he/she is not considerate or doesn’t appreciate you, it is just that things have changed. It is not personal, so treat your client with care and professionalism even if he/she made you really upset. Understand and accept the new situation.

5. Explain the Consequences

When a client comes with changes, remind that person that if he/she wants more or different features or functionalities, the budget and timeline will need to change. Most clients are not fully aware of the impact of their changes because they are not familiar with your field of work, so explain the consequences and present a new budget and deadlines.

No matter what happens and how hard clients attack, always present yourself like an ally, as somebody that helps them find solutions.

 

 

managing virtual teamsAnna Danés worked in the web sector before founding Ricaris in 2009, a successful services company providing distributed solutions for companies in the web sector. Managing Virtual Teams is a new consulting product bringing together all of the experience across the distributed teams of Ricaris, and putting it into bite-sized courses, virtual team activities, and consulting packages. Follow Anna @virtualteams


When managing an online or virtual team, any excuse is a good excuse to get together and counteract the remoteness of your team’s reality. It is a time for celebrating, getting to know your team better, and forming bonds with your fellow workers. I have prepared some ideas for you that can be applied not only to distributed teams, but also for teams that see each other every day! I hope you enjoy them!

Pre-season Activity

Create a card together with your team members

  • How? Call each other and use an online whiteboard or other online collaboration tools to create the perfect card. Print it out and send it to the rest of the team by mail.
  • Benefits:
    • Each member will feel represented and involved.
    • You will have built something tangible together that will impact the rest of the organization.
    • Activity provides personal recognition.
  • This idea is especially good for groups with wide cultural diversity.

Holiday Season Celebration: Have a party

Secret friend

  • How? The manager can send each team member a message with the name of another employee. Each person will prepare something for their chosen colleague; something that is personalized or unique. Budget: $0
  • Benefits:
    • Deeper knowledge of the team members.
    • Team bonding experience.
    • Opportunity to show creativity.
  • Ideas for preparing a present: create a video about that person, sing a song, make a cool online video, give book recommendations, make up a short story portraying the team members, etc.…

Multicultural meal in a video conference

  • How? Each person will cook something that they traditionally eat during the holiday season and that is important in their culture. While everyone is eating, each person will explain:
    • What did they cook? How did they prepare it?
    • What are they celebrating?
    • What do people do when they eat that particular meal? Examples: sing, recite old poems, pray, etc.…
    • Additional questions (just for small groups): What were the best holiday memories that you remember?
  • After the meal: Share the recipes and photos in a blog made just for this occasion or in the private social media platform your company uses. You can also share that information with the rest of the teams in the company newsletter.
  • If you think a meal is too much, you can do the same activity with special celebration decorations instead.
  • If the team doesn’t know each other well enough, make sure to include an ice-breaker activity before the meal.
  • Benefits:
    • Increases knowledge and trust between team members.
    • Allows creativity to flow within the team.
    • Provides an opportunity of cultural exchange.
    • Gives individual recognition.

Desk decoration contest

  • How? Each team member will decorate their desk in a way that they prefer; remember that the decorations don’t necessarily need to be about Christmas. If you want to embrace cultural diversity, let each person choose what their topic will be.
    • During the party, have each person show and explain their desk decorations.
    • Have as many awards as there are people participating. Create them beforehand with captions like, “The Most Creative,” “The Most Elaborate,” “The Cutest,” “The Most Unexpected,” “The Funniest,” etc.…
  • Benefits:
    • Helps team building and increases knowledge between team members.
    • Allows individual creativity.
    • Shows team members’ skills.
    • Provides an opportunity of cultural exchange.

After the Party (optional):

Play an online multi-player game:

  • Choose a game where members must solve a mystery together or build something as a team.
  • Join an online karaoke and party on!

The holiday season is a great time to do these activities; it is proven that teams are more productive when team members feel appreciated, are enthusiastic, and feel like part of the team;  improve everybody’s morale by organizing a holiday celebration! Don’t forget to tell us if you have more ideas!

 

Featured image via Pixabay under Creative Commons CC0

 


There is a new kind of business person: the digital nomad entrepreneur. In 2012, Anna Danes decided to take advantage of the fact that her team was 100% distributed and that she had not met most of her clients in person and started a life as a nomad business woman. Since then, she has managed her team from 3 European countries and 6 Asian countries, becoming what it is known as a digital nomad. What is the life of a nomad entrepreneur like?

  1. What time do you wake up?

I normally wake up between 8 and 9am; starting the day late gives me a chance to communicate with different time zones, especially with the team in Latin America. I don’t need an alarm clock, and I wake up when I feel rested and ready to start the day. My schedule is totally flexible and changes every day. I end up working between 8 and 10 hours daily, but I do it at my own pace, and I’ve learned how to avoid burn out.

  1. What is the first thing you do when you wake up?

When you are a nomad, you don’t have routines like turning on the coffee machine before going to shower because, more than likely, you don’t have a coffee machine, so the routines that I have established have more to do with myself. The first thing I do when I wake up is say to myself, “Good morning” and visualize a pleasant day. Each night, I make a basic schedule of the tasks and activities that I will do the following day. When I wake up, I think about those activities for a few minutes while still in bed; it is like reconnecting with the tasks.

  1. Breakfast?

Breakfast is the most important meal and the one that I enjoy the most. Breakfast is the moment when my partner and I take the time to talk, so it is also the meal that takes the most time; we sit down for breakfast for about 1 hour every day. Since I lived in South East Asia before, soup is the most comforting breakfast I can have, but it depends on where I am. Currently, I am in Croatia and it is summer here, so a big plate of fruits and berries makes a great breakfast.

  1. How do you get to work, and how long does it take?

Since I am a digital nomad, I don’t have to travel to work; I just need to turn on my computer, so I save a lot of time. No commuting for me!

  1. Lunch?

Coming from the Mediterranean, lunch is the perfect excuse to take a break and breathe during the middle of the day. Lunch is fast, but it always includes walking a minimum of 30 minutes to rejuvenate myself and have a productive afternoon.

  1. What are the typical things you do every day?

I go for a walk every day. Since I change cities every so many months, I don’t have a gym membership or a tennis buddy. Instead, I go for walks in different directions every day; 30 minutes is my minimum requirement, reaching up to 2 hours if I have the time. Walking a different route every day gives me a good idea of the country where I am, what people’s lives are like there, and it also gives me the chance to meet a lot of new and interesting people.

  1. What do you love most about your job?

To be in contact with my team. I am very fortunate to have a team of excellent professionals that are caring and extremely competent. Being around them (digitally, of course) is a real pleasure.

I also love the feeling that I am helping my clients with their goals.

  1. How do you manage all the tasks you need to do?

I go through phases where I try out different time management techniques. Lately, I’ve gone back to the Pomodoro Technique because I wasn’t feeling very energized and Pomodoro helps me find a rhythm while working. I also use the “2-minute rule”: if it takes less than 2 minutes, do it right away. That helps me to get moving with tasks I would normally procrastinate on. I alternate different techniques depending on my current state.
Something that I always do, no matter what, is at the end of the day, I make a list of all the things I want to do the next day, starting with those that are more urgent and important.

  1. When is your downtime?

The weekends. I respect the weekends as much as I can and avoid checking my messages then. I used to reply to messages on weekends just to get things moving a little faster so people could have my answers on time when they started their week, but then I created a dynamic where people felt like they had to reply to me right away, so I had my entire team working on weekends too! As soon as I realized, I apologized to my team and stopped working on weekends. Especially when I do physically exhausting activities, like a long hike, I get a lot of energy from them. Weekends give me an opportunity to connect with the people of the country that I am visiting. I also try to do what the locals are doing; sometimes it involves going to a waterfall, attending a school concert, or shopping at a local market.

  1. How do you relax when you do get home?

I have no home. Home is the room, hut, house or flat that I am renting at that moment. However, I have created a ritual that makes me feel at home: I carry with me a bag of different teas, and when I open the bag and make myself tea, it means it is time to relax. Rainy days are always a great time to stay indoors and avoid the urge to constantly explore the amazing country I am in at that moment; that is when I pull out my personal projects or read classic books.

  1. How do you manage the balance between work and personal life?

When you are a company owner and you don’t have an office, it is really hard to find that balance. If you have ever worked from home, even if it is only once a week, you will know how hard it is not to check you email while cooking or reply to a message at 9pm when you are already wearing your pajamas.
For me, the balance comes from my schedule. I start the day late and end it late. For a while, I would start working early in the day and ended up working 12-hour days because I like my job and because my work desk is really near my personal life space. What I do now is during the early morning, I spend time with my partner, go shopping, meditate, and then begin work later.

  1. How has the business changed from when you first began?

There are more and more people with distributed teams now and a ton of collaboration tools. When I first began, the amount of tools we had were limited; now there are millions of people working in remote teams and hundreds of great tools that we can use. Also, Internet speed has improved a lot and most countries have great Internet connection available.

  1. Who and/or what inspires you?

All of the people that are passionate about something and the ones that listen to themselves and follow their dreams. And I don’t mean only the ones that do drastic things, like leaving an office job and becoming a scuba instructor in Bali. One of my biggest heroes is a friend who is a public servant, which might sound really boring, but his passion is to make better and more efficient processes in the public institutions that are beneficial for all of the citizens. His passion moves me because he follows his call and thrives from it. He is also aware of the high impact this work has and tries his best despite social prejudices that portray government employees in a negative light. That search for excellence and his self-confidence inspire me.

  1. Why do you do what you do?

The goal of my company is to help people have a better day. I can’t think of a better purpose in life than that. We help our clients externalize the tasks that are non-core for them so they don’t have to worry about them. At the same time, we create a positive and empowering environment for our team members so they can also grow and fulfill their dreams within our company.

  1. Tips for other business owners?

Don’t forget your purpose and your values. If you ever get disconnected from the reasons that brought you to start that company, you will lose yourself. Always keep in mind what the purpose of your business is and what values direct it. This seems pretty obvious, but as soon as different stakeholders start pulling towards their interests, remembering the real purpose becomes less easy.

  1. How do you define success?

When you go to bed pleased with how you spent the day.

  1. What challenges have you faced as a business owner and how have you overcome them?

During the first year, we went from a team of 3 to a team of 73 people, and that was very hard on me. I was working 60-70 hours a week, gained a lot of weight, and did not have time to exercise. I learned the hard way that I needed to delegate more, stop micromanaging, and exercise every day with no excuses. It took my business partners repeating this for 2 years before I took their advice. So another thing I learned was to listen to the people that care about you.

Disagreements with business partners and seeing the company’s future from different points of view was not something I was prepared for. Speaking from the heart and being assertive during negotiations are the lessons I took from that period. Learning how to negotiate and finding common grounds is an art form!

Are you a digital nomad (or perhaps wish you were) ? Tell us your story in the comments below!

IMG_1528-smallAnna Danés worked in the web sector before founding Ricaris in 2009, a successful services company providing distributed solutions for companies in the web sector. Managing Virtual Teams is a new consulting product bringing together all of the experience across the distributed teams of Ricaris, and putting it into bite-sized courses, virtual team activities, and consulting packages. Follow Anna @virtualteams

Images supplied.


We know you are a leader a leader in heels  but besides your footwear, what kind of leader are you? In this article, you will gain a better understanding of leader types and how to become a stronger one.

Resonant and Dissonant Leaders

We are past the idea that leaders are simply born as leaders; the proof is in the pudding. Check out the interviews that appear in this online magazine and you will see how we all learn from our mistakes: from closely watching the actions of leaders we admire, taking courses, and constantly trying to improve ourselves every time we have a chance. Sometimes it is good to stop and ask, “What kind of leader am I?”

Best-selling author David Coleman talks about two kinds of leaders:

Resonant leaders: Those who are in tune with their team. They are the ones that are able to motivate their team by reminding team members about the purpose of their work. These leaders achieve this resonance with team members by providing hope, compassion (understood as true empathy and care), and mindfulness. Resonant leaders have long-lasting teams, less burnout, and are more productive.

Dissonant Leaders: Their style of leadership is more authoritative. These leaders are more distant with their team members. They tend to create stress, burnout, and disengagement among employees. If you think you might be a pacesetting and commanding leader, read carefully about the kinds of resonant leaders below and try to learn from them.

5-Minute Exercise:

  1. Think of a boss you had that was in sync with the team. This is a person that you probably felt very close to, somebody you could trust, and that was able to bring out the best in each person in the team. Now, write down some of the attributes that person had.
  2. Do the same for the worst boss you ever had; somebody that might have achieved results in the short run but wasn’t getting anywhere after a while. Write down his/her attributes.
  3. Now, try to define your style of leadership; are you leaning towards the resonant leader or the dissonant leader? What defines you as a leader?

Types of Resonant Leaders

Most of us fit into only one of the categories below, which means there is a lot of room for improvement. When reading the categories, you will soon identify with one. Read the others as well and learn how you could use abilities that you don’t yet have to improve your leadership style:

Visionaries

Visionary leaders see the big picture. This is why they are the ones that discover business trends and foresee opportunities. They tend to connect their emotions with their personal and organizational values. They are the most charismatic and innovative of the leaders.

  • Use this style when changes in the organization require a new vision or radical changes.

Coaches

This is the type of leader that focuses on the development of the team and is not shy about investing time to make others better. They bring enthusiasm to the team, sing constructive feedback, and give support. Teams with coaches will have high performance.

  • This style is appropriate in empowering competent employees to improve and build long-term capabilities.

Affiliators

They are concerned with the harmony of the team above all other things. They invest in personal relationships and emotional goals. Affiliators are great at developing a team environment but have a hard time bringing constructive criticism, so team members can sometimes feel lost.

  • Use this style of leadership during stressful times and when connections between team members need to be strengthened.

Democratic

They encourage participative leadership and look for employee input and feedback. This is how they demonstrate confidence in their team members; as a result, they have empowered teams. They are great at teamwork, all forms of collaboration, and conflict management.

  • Use the democratic style to achieve team consensus and get valuable input from team members.

What kind of leader are you? What can you learn from the others? Tell us in the comments below!


The above classification is taken from the book Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence., by David Coleman, Richard Boyatzis, and Annie McKee.

Anna Danés worked in the web sector before founding Ricaris in 2009, a successful services company providing distributed solutions for companies in the web sector. Managing Virtual Teams is a new consulting product bringing together all of the experience across the distributed teams of Ricaris, and putting it into bite-sized courses, virtual team activities, and consulting packages. Follow Anna @virtualteams


Some call them Generation Y, Echo Boomers or the Net Generation; they are the latest generation to join the workforce and have been raised and educated in a world filled with technology. Rosalind Cardinal educated us in her article, Attracting and keeping Generation Y in your business, on how to attract and keep these millennials in your business.

Here are several informative tips on how to work with these individuals in a distributed team; these tips are highly effective in bringing out the best qualities in millennial individuals:

1. Use the technology

For millennials, having an online meeting or chatting is very common and an easy way for them to communicate with others. They are early adopters of technology, so explore the possibilities that technology can provide for the workplace and let them guide you through new and uncertain opportunities; they probably know more than you do.

2. Offer leadership

Like all who join the workforce, they require guidance, especially if we are talking about virtual work relations. Provide these millennials with daily feedback; they are used to constant updates and news. Provide them with the guidance they need and you will have them more motivated and involved.

3. Work in teams

Millennials are accustomed to working on school projects in teams from a very young age; take advantage of that and show them work opportunities from a perspective of teamwork; they will find more meaning in their work this way. Also, offer millennials the possibility to work with teams; they will be able to effectively divide up the tasks themselves. Remember that these millennials have more practice in this area than earlier generations and they truly believe in teamwork.

There are plenty of team management software options that will allow you to create projects where your team can login and see how their goals are being achieved. These programs are a great way for you and your team to monitor progress as well as keep millennials challenged.

4. Take advantage of their electronic literacy

Maybe it is more difficult for you to think outside the box; if this is the case give them the freedom to communicate using the channels and methods they believe are the best and follow up on them. Encouraging a positive and trustful attitude in the workplace will bring success for you and your company, so empower them.

5. Create clear procedures

Try to imagine what millennials’ former school days looked like; most likely strict schedules organised by their parents. They are used to having their days seamlessly programmed and they feel comfortable with that; create weekly/monthly reports, due dates, meetings on certain dates, gatherings with agendas, and minutes. However, don’t limit all of their independence; make sure you take the time to listen to them and hear their opinions before making a schedule.

6. Provide a fun workplace

For millennials, work is not merely a task that must be completed; it is also something that they can find enjoyment from and they expect to form friendships at the workplace. Make your virtual team an employee-centered place with regular yet fun-filled meetings where they have the opportunity to inform others about their interests, have online tournaments, online parties, seasonal celebrations, etc.

Whatever you decide, keep in mind that millennials have used technology from a very young age so they feel quite comfortable holding online meetings, texting, and marking their progress on computers. My advice to you is: listen to them, learn from them and their ways of working, and give them plenty of room to grow and make changes as they adjust to a new workplace, especially if it is online.

Do you have more advice? What have your experiences been so far? Share them in the comments below.

Photo credit: Merlijn Hoek/Flickr


From social media platforms to news channels, you use apps all day, but have you thought about having your own? Announcing a new app is trendy and it is a good way to appear in the media, but let me tell you six great reasons why every small or medium size business should consider developing a mobile app:

1 – Create Awareness

There are several ways to spread the news about your business practices to the digital world and one of them is creating a business app that brings something unique to the table. Take Starbucks for example, the coffee app provides early-risers with directions to the nearest store, coffee mixing recipes and coupons as reward for being an early-riser. You can also create an app that provides a service to your business which would definitely create some buzz as people talk about it.

2- Predictive Analysis

The use of apps as a data collection tool cannot be over-emphasized. Having a mobile app or forum for the goods or services you offer provides a medium for knowing the likes and dislikes of your customers. You can then use this information to track the progress of certain products and services with the aim of either manufacturing more products—for popular items—or increasing the awareness campaigns for slow-selling items.

3- Interact With Your Customers

The push notification feature that can be integrated in your business app can serve as a medium of communicating new releases or products to your customer base. The use of notifications gives you ample room to open discussion with your customers, carry out market surveys and provide solutions to their grievances when it arises.

4- Reputation Management

A business app serves as a communication forum between customers and also between the business owner and the customers. And it is in our human nature to first seek redress from the person that hurts us, before broadcasting our hurt to the entire world. A mobile app allows you to read reviews of your products and services, be aware of customer issues and address them amicably before the disappointed customer runs over to Yelp to post a horrifying review.

5- Target Better

You will be able to track metrics such as ‘number of views’ which provides an insight for you and grabs readers’ attention. This insight then allows you to breakdown what users look at and you can feed different content or projects to different demographic groups.

6- Attract a Younger Generation of Consumers

Don’t forget that today kids are learning App Development in school!

The art of customer relationship management which has been perfected by almost every Fortune 500 company, plays a huge role in the success of these large corporations and most of them— such as IKEA or Starbucks—integrate the use of mobile apps to drive customer satisfaction.

If these successful business organisations need the extra support of a mobile app to engage their customers, then why shouldn’t your growing business have one too?

Anna Danés
Anna worked in the web sector before founding Ricaris have a nice day (www.ricaris.com) in 2009, a successful services company providing distributed solutions for companies in the web sector. Managing Virtual Teams (www.managing-virtual-teams.com) is a new consulting product bringing together all of the experience across the distributed teams of Ricaris, and putting it into bite-sized courses, virtual team activities, and consulting packages. Follow Anna @virtualteams