27/07/2015

By Iain O'Kane, Director at DMC Software


Time is money in business and the driving force behind making sales is down to the entire team- The people that you have hand-picked to support you in your journey to success. Are you successful? Are you allowing your team to be successful? Are you confident in your staff’s ability to go away and complete a task without the need to come to you and pin down the exact specifications of the task that you have set? If the answer is ‘no’, then chances are you need to implement practices that motivate, support and satisfy your staff, to break out of the leader/follower state of mind and cultivate a more ‘self-guided’ ethos. Here we will give you some ways that you can empower your team and increase business productivity.

Honest environment

Workplace concerns that go unaddressed can escalate into an unhealthy atmosphere that eventually becomes permanently damaging to the individuals and ultimately, the workplace environment and entire team. Conflict within the workforce is unfortunately, unavoidable, but by creating an open and honest set of values is it able to be resolved quickly. Encourage ‘instant feedback’ and encourage your team to deliver it to you too, of course- rules need to be set, it needs to be constructive and respectful, but by improving communication and removing managerial boundaries builds rapport within the team.

What does your team want from you and the company policy? People want to be fulfilled and if you haven’t asked them what will motivate them

Make yourself transparent

Have you honestly sat down and introspectively evaluated the image that you present to your employees? So many managers believe that they are due respect purely because of their hierarchal position. This is an outdated and misguided view of the modern workplace- Your staff want to be inspired, and to inspire them you need to give them your time.

If your aim is to build a team that think on an executive level, they need to understand how you work and want you want to achieve. Too many times we hear that those at board level within a business are ‘too busy’ and need to ‘reschedule appointments’ — regardless of whether this involves other employees or customers, it doesn’t set an example of integrity and loyalty.

Communicate your vision and values clearly and consistently and allow your team the opportunity to exercise its purpose, passion and performance.

Freedom

Leading your team is an entirely different concept to managing them, by watching an employees every move, you do nothing but impede their ability to grow — what you end up creating is an uncomfortable and unconfident team who will feel unable to be proactive in their approach and want your confirmation on even the smallest of tasks.

Set your staff free, but don’t give them ‘just enough rope’. Demonstrate staff that you trust them by giving control back to them and allow them to ‘own it’, a staff member in control of their work schedule will be far more content and passionate about their position. This will create confident, creative and decisive staff that have the self determination to meet deadlines.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t offer help and guidance; showing genuine interest and concern for how well someone is coping will be perceived entirely different than asking them to report on how much they have achieved each day.

Some innovate companies stateside have gone so far as to let their employees choose the hours they work and where they work from and have seen their profits sky rocket as a result.

Tools

We are in the middle of a digital revolution! Invest in technology that will enhance your business and enable your staff to work smarter and explore all avenues of communication. Encourage group discussions by using a multi-platform application like Skype or Yammer and use it to share topical news relative to your business, use it to share funny articles or use it to broadcast company information — regardless of where your staff are, they will be included and kept in the loop.

The right CRM systems can be a powerful tools providing staff have adequate training and understand the workflow processes. Customer Relationship Management programs enable staff to take an attentive and proactive approach to customer service and can store vital historical information about each account. This can create an organised and personal attitude within your business. Many are cloud based meaning that they can be accessed on a desk top or mobile application and the information stored can be accessed by each member of your team — again, keeping the lines of communication clear.

Encourage your team to interact with customers and prospects on social media — have someone come and train your staff on social media if you think it would be beneficial. Twitter is a great tool to really show case yourself as an expert in your field — even if you just use it to post industry related news or hints/tips in your field, it can go a long way to getting your brand noticed and makes you’re accessible to your customers.

If you are going to follow in the footsteps from our cousins across the pond, then there are a number of ways you can make remote working a reality. There are software applications that turn smartphones into an extension of your desk phone, allowing you to receive and transfer calls within the business, regardless of where you are working from. Cloud computing has increased the ability to collaborate through offering amplified mobility and level of access; it levels the playing field by making communication channels such as video conferencing a viable option for smaller companies as well as large corporations.

I challenged all of my department managers to implement at least 2 of the topics discussed in this article for 12 months and see what difference it makes to the productivity of the team; it has already highlighted those employees that aren’t suitable to work is this way but 6 months in we have yet to see a negative impact on profits or productivity.