leadership Archives - TAB Corporate

Use Technology to Enhance Your Employee Communications Efforts

Technology and communication

If improving communications with your employees was on your 2018 list of resolutions, there are many ways to leverage digital technology to achieve this goal. Businesses that still rely on a “suggestion box” in the break room or some similarly out-of-date mechanism should consider adopting current technology to make employees feel more involved and part of the team.

Array of Digital Resources

The good news is, your employees are already using the types of digital resources you can employ in your efforts to improve communications. These resources include:

  • Texting
  • Chat rooms
  • Video
  • Social media

Instant messaging is so prevalently used by people (from front-line employees to senior executives) that it should be considered a “go-to” method for communicating important and timely information to your team. It’s also a useful tool for staying in touch with your remote workers.

Cloud-based mobile technology facilitates a deeper sense of engagement among employees. Using communications tools in this area usually includes the benefits of enhanced data security. Also, cloud-based technology can be easily upgraded as new digital improvements become available.

Video platforms represent a particularly appealing way of improving communications. When you, as CEO or business owner, want to relay a message for the entire company, what better way than through video, where people can see and hear you simultaneously? No other mode offers the same kind of “face-to-face” authenticity – especially beneficial if you’re comfortable in front of a camera and know how to express yourself in terms your employees will best understand.

Getting Employees on Board

To make this approach work, it’s critically important to design a comprehensive plan that introduces and familiarizes employees with the communications technology you deem best suited for your culture. According to ITProPortal, such a plan should include “training programs, leadership workshops, counseling, best practices resources, templates, and customized advice and guidance.”

This may sound burdensome at first, but when employees “get” that you want to implement a streamlined system of communications – and that you genuinely care about interacting with them – you’re likely to see a marked improvement in morale and, possibly, long-term employee retention.

Employee Solutions to Business Problems

Equally valuable are opportunities for team members to communicate with each other. For example, those involved in a new initiative – or tasked with finding solutions to a pressing business problem – will greatly benefit from being able to bounce ideas off each other in real-time.

Remember, your employees are the ones most intimately involved in the sales and distribution of your products or services. Frequently, they’re also the ones who regularly interact with customers, so they have a deeper understanding of the strengths and shortcomings of your offerings. If they’re asked to devise a solution, the chance to collaborate quickly and clearly through internal communications tools may result in just the solution your business needs to move forward.

At the same time, this communications platform should involve supervisors or managers as well. Great employee ideas can wither and die without managerial input and/or advocacy.

As Fast Company notes, “It’s important that new concepts are not just discussed among peers.” Managers should “be involved and feel connected to those suggestions from the very beginning,” because their advocacy can help ensure that those at the top will “implement the best ideas.”

Businesses armed with effective internal communications are often more successful at attracting and recruiting the quality talent your company seeks as well. That’s another reason to examine your various communications options and put the best system in place, in order to keep your employees productive and able to share key ideas with one another.

Want to learn more about the technology and communications? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you!

 

What It Means to Be a Leader in the 21st Century

business leaders

In February 2017, The Alternative Board surveyed hundreds of business owners to find out what it means to be a leader in the 21st century. According to the results, the large majority is very positive about the state of small business ownership. In fact, 95% of those surveyed have a positive outlook moving into 2017, with 62% expecting to increase their staff in the upcoming year.

So what exactly do these highly positive entrepreneurs have in common? According to the stats, more than you’d think! We’ve broken down some of the statistics to find out how leaders are operating in today’s fast-paced, web-driven environment, and what every entrepreneur (and wantrepreneur) can learn from them.

  1. Today’s leaders are driven by positivity. It seems the old adage about faking it until you make it is a real driver for business owners. The number one trait the surveyed business owners reported having was positivity (47%) closely followed by confidence (30%) – both of which outranked passion (27%), personability (26%), decisiveness (23%) and focus (16%).“The most positive entrepreneurs are often the most successful,” says Serial entrepreneur Jen Groover. “There often are just too many obstacles facing business owners to let negativity get in the way.” To harness the power of positivity, Groover recommends business owners recognize failures as learning lessons and surround themselves with positive people.
  2. Business owners in the 21st Century could be delegating more. The majority of the business owners surveyed (67%) agree the area they most need to improve in as a leader is “holding others accountable.” This is likely why 86% of them are working over 40+ hours a week, with the average business owner working nearly 50.According to Bob Dodge, Senior Vice President of TAB Denver West, a reluctance to delegate often comes down to entrepreneurs’ “own personal wiring.” David Levesque, President of TAB Rochester suggests it’s a lack of process. “The key to profitably growing a business is delegation. The key to effective delegation is good” TAB Hawaii Business Coach & Facilitator Valerie Koenig agrees. “Having a process in place allows companies to scale from one to five to twenty employees, but it is a boring and thought consuming task, so many owners never take the time.”
  3. Business owners still value face-to-face communications over telecommunications. Yes, the 21st century is best known for its technological growth and instant communication channels, but entrepreneurs still rely on face-to-face meetings. According to the survey results, the majority of their communications (39.9%) are handled face-to-face, more than online (33.8%) or over the phone (26.3%).“[The] prioritization of speed over face-time grossly underestimates the power of human interaction and the importance of face-to-face communication,” writes Mina Chang in Forbes. “If the point of business was simply to accomplish as many tasks as possible, then yes, an email would probably do. But that’s not what real leadership is about.”When taking over the CEO position of Linking The World, instead of sending out forms and questionnaires to the company’s branches across the world, Chang spent an entire year traveling from office to office. “I met with our teams on the ground, asked questions, and listened to their concerns. These face-to-face interactions built trust, understanding, and a real sense of a shared mission, and this has made all the difference in the world.”
  4. Experience trumps education on the path to success. Only 2% of the business owners surveyed believe an MBA is the most important business training to become an effective leader. Instead, the majority selected “management experience” (40%), closely followed by business coaching (36%).“Generally speaking, an MBA is not necessary for success,” says Blair Koch, CEO of TAB Denver West. “What you learn from your real-time experiences in business typically cannot be replicated in an academic environment. You learn more from your failures than your successes.”
  5. Entrepreneurs could do a better job of planning. Entrepreneurs with detailed plans are in the minority. Only 43% of entrepreneurs believe they have an effective strategic plan, and only 44% are satisfied with their succession plan. Considering the majority of business owners believe their top responsibility as a leader is to “fulfill their vision, mission and goals,” it’s surprising they don’t have a plan in place to reach those milestones.TAB UK’s Operations Director Jo Clarkson recommends entrepreneurs kick off their planning by defining its purpose. “Create a working document that you monitor, measure and hold people (yourself included) accountable to.”

Based on these survey results, today’s leaders can best be described as experienced professionals with a lot of confidence and a knack for communication. What they might lack in delegation and planning skills, they make up for with positivity.

While it may seem that today’s leader must be tech-driven above all else, it seems a dose of optimism is exactly what they need to keep jumping hurdles. If you’d like to improve your leadership skills, The Alternative Board offers a unique peer advisory model that can help you overcome your toughest business challenges. If you’d like to learn more, get in touch with a local board.