One of the perks of being a businessperson in the 21st century is that amazing new software is released all the time. But those frequent releases can be a double-edged sword. In fact, a survey by Gartner found that 56% of workers “said new software had made them wish management would bring the old system back.”
Sometimes new software just requires a learning curve. Other times, the new software just isn’t worth using. How can you know which tools you should invest in for your team, software or otherwise? I’ve found that when you ask them what they need, use instant messaging best practices, provide professional development and take full advantage of your project management software, your whole business benefits.
Ask them what they need
I would love to think that I’m in tune enough with my team that I always know what they need. But I don’t. What I do know is that asking them what they need or where they’re struggling is better than guessing.
“You may have a qualified team that you’re incredibly proud of, but if they struggle to meet deadlines or goals, the problem may be the result of inadequate tools or applications,” said Steve Todd, founder of Open Sourced Workplace. “Outdated software, unsatisfactory internet service, uncomfortable furniture or improper lighting can slow down your team and discourage them from reaching production goals.”
When your employees are comfortable and their workflow makes sense, they’re a lot more productive. For example, if your client onboarding process is causing problems, a software solution like GuideCX may take the pressure off and allow your employees to relax and focus on the most important parts of their job. It may take time and money up front to give your employees the tools they need, but it’s worth it for how it will help your bottom line in the long run.
Improve (or implement) instant messaging tools
There’s nothing like an in-person conversation, but when that isn’t possible, instant messaging is the next-best thing — and in some cases, it may even be better because you have a written record of the conversation.
“Even in the early 2000s, researchers noted how instant messaging helped to decrease needless, back-and-forth phone calls and alleviate miscommunications,” said Dustin York, director of undergraduate and graduate communications at Maryville University. “And instant messaging trounces email by offering immediate and clearer resolution to business concerns that may have lingered unnoticed in inboxes.”
Chances are your team is already using instant messaging, but it’s worth revisiting to ensure you are doing it right. How can you ensure your instant messaging app actually makes your employees’ lives easier? York gave some tips:
- Adopt the tools your employees are already using. No need to banish Facebook Messenger, for example, if that works well as part of a broader internal communication strategy.
- Embrace all kinds of instant messaging – but set ground rules. Messaging about the latest Marvel movie or weekend plans can build camaraderie, but getting too casual can blur important boundaries.
- Respect work/life balance. “Most messages can easily wait until the next business day,” York said.
- Promote face-to-face communication too. A good video call or in-person conversation can help build relationships and clear up misunderstandings.
Provide professional development
When deadlines are looming and clients have urgent needs, it can feel counterproductive to take the time to work on professional development. But when the professional development program focuses on employee and company growth, it’s worth it.
“Professional development programs improve employees’ knowledge, skill sets and job satisfaction, resulting in higher employee retention,” said Tami Kamin Meyer at http://businessnewsdaily.com.
Find or create a professional development program that offers continual development and allows your team to control the pace of their educational path. LinkedIn Learning is a great option! When your employees are engaged in the process, both they and you benefit.
Take full advantage of your project management software
A project management software that meets your team’s needs can improve communication, productivity and your bottom line. How can you tell if your project management software is working as well as it could be? Here are a couple of things to consider.
First, see how long it takes you to make decisions. According to a study by http://scruminc.com, “If the average decision time is over 5 hours, the [project] success rate falls to 18%.” A great project management software can help you make decisions faster and have more successful projects.
Second, make sure your project management software accounts for four main elements that help you make business decisions: scope, resources, time and money. If the software does account for these elements but you’re not using the corresponding features, start using them!
Third, be aware of the latest available features in the best project management softwares. This article at http://financesonline.com lists several, like a team dashboard, a shared team calendar, automated invoicing and central data storage. Sometimes, you don’t know what you need until you see what’s out there.
So how can you know which tools your team needs to succeed? Ask them what they need, improve your instant messaging process, provide professional development and take full advantage of your project management software. With the right tools and a good balance of autonomy and support, your employees will do incredible things.
Peter Ord is the founder of GuideCX, a client implementation and onboarding project platform based in Draper, Utah.