Say What? 4 Dos and Don’ts of Business Communication Systems

If you want to run a successful business, you need the best techniques and tools to get the job done. This can empower your team to serve your customers, fulfill orders, and stay productive while on the job. However, when it comes to your business communications, a lot of businesses make mistakes. In general, stick to these do’s and don’ts. 

Do Go with a Brand You Trust 

There are a lot of communications companies out there. However, not all of them are created equal. You need to go with a name that you trust. That does not just mean going with the biggest company in the space. 

In fact, it often means going with a company that you might have just heard about. Then, doing your research on them will pay off. Research before investing is everything! You might find that they support your values more than others do in the marketplace. Check out reviews, history, and reputation of their products as well as their customer service.

Don’t Get the Wrong Kind of System

You need to ensure that you have the right kind of communication systems for your business. A golf course, for instance, would want handheld radios, like Motorola walkie talkies, while an office might rely on a office-wide messaging system

The key is to ask yourself how your team is talking to each other right now. Then find ways to improve on that communication. Great technology is something that should do its job and stay out of the way so your team can do theirs even better. 

Do Find the Right Value 

There are going to be different prices and overall values to each communication solution. The key is to understand that each will bring something different to the table. Be sure to look at the overall value, and not just the price, for what you are getting. If your company won’t use a big portion of what a particular package is offering, you might want to go in a different direction.

Don’t Go without Research 

The worst mistake you could make in business is jumping into a decision before you truly know what you are getting in return. Luckily, you can avoid this. If you stick to your plan and look at your options with a critical eye, you can come out ahead. That way, you get a system that you truly want and need. Take your time and learn everything you can about any viable option for your business. Based on your research, you can make an informed decision that will help your employees with their work.

Having a great business does not stop with your sales and marketing. In reality, it comes down to how well your team can work together. Of course, one of the most important factors in how they work together boils down to their communication systems. So don’t make the mistakes that others make. Use the do’s and don’ts above as your checklist.

Dixie Somers is a freelance writer and blogger for business, home, and family niches. Dixie lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and is the proud mother of three beautiful girls and wife to a wonderful husband.

4 Simple Strategies for Boosting Your Employees’ Morale

Employee morale makes a big difference in workplace productivity. As an employer, you can’t control your staff’s mood, but you can definitely ensure that they have a happy, healthy, and considerate environment to work in. Here are four simple strategies to consider implementing.

Open Up Communication

People like to feel as if their work makes a difference. This can be a difference in the world at large, or simply a difference for the person they are working for. It’s difficult to put in effort all day without understanding the reasons or seeing the results. Keep staff updated on your business’s successes and pitfalls, and make sure you let them know the results of projects they have personally worked on. Good communication builds trust and rapport. If you set a standard of openness, your employees will understand when something simply must be kept under wraps. 

Stock the Break Room 

Snacks in the break room can be a small but effective way to show that you care. A coffee machine is a good place to start; warm drinks offer comfort, and caffeine provides an energy boost to finish out the workday. To avoid the classic problem of burnt break-room coffee, try a Keurig brewing system. Single-serving Starbucks K-Cup pods let your employees brew themselves a cup when they need one, and don’t share the mess or cost of brewing an entire pot. Don’t forget to stock decaf pods too; everyone deserves something hot to drink. 

Fight for Employee Benefits 

To be an employee is to invest a large part of your time and energy into someone else’s business. The deal doesn’t have to be a bad one; as an employer, you have the opportunity to make a large difference in your employees’ lives. Look for ways that your business can provide benefits that staff would not be able to acquire on their own. This might include package insurance plans, vendor discounts, or even chances to travel. Working for your business should feel like an opportunity, not a cost. 

Encourage Career Growth 

If you’re the business owner, you’re likely already living your dream. Your business is a culmination of your career and the effort you have put in. On the other hand, your employees are likely at the start of their careers. As much as you enjoy seeing them every day, it’s important to remember that your staff want to grow and move forward in life. Try to provide opportunities for growth and success within your business. If an employee has a dream that will one day take them outside of your company, don’t be afraid to encourage them. The person you help go to school today could very easily be your industry contact of tomorrow. 

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to employee morale; what helps one person’s mood might make no impact on someone else. The best strategy is to set a standard of respect, communication, and care for your employees’ needs. If you have a good attitude, a good work environment will follow.

Guest author, Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She went to college at The Ohio State University where she studied communications. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and long walks in the park with her 3-year-old husky Snowball.  @LizzieWeakley

Enhancing Communication In Your Modern Business

Year after year, the landscape of business changes. Becoming more modernized to suit the needs of the next generation, businesses must adapt to a new way of operation. One of the biggest trends seen in recent years, is the concept of a flexible work arrangement; more employees are opting to work beyond the traditional hours of 9-5, and often choose to work remotely all together. With change comes the need to adapt. Here are three ways to further incorporate technology into your workforce that facilitate stronger communication.

Go Wireless and Unify

Gone are the days of coming into the office and working from your hardwired desktop computer and phone system. Employees are constantly on the go. Whether they’re collaborating in meeting rooms or working from out-of-office locations, your employees need to be able to access their work and team members at their fingertips. Start by considering replacing your phone systems and opting for Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). Calls through VoIP work by converting voice from analog to a digital signal. Basically, all your employees need is a connection to the internet. If you’re seriously considering VoIP, look into a complete unified communications package. Aside from your phone services, you can include your other tools like web and video conferencing, team messaging, and screen sharing. You can customize your unified suite to include whatever your company needs.

Digitally Manage Projects

Maintain the trend of going digital by looking into online business productivity software. When you’re able to track project status, you are more likely to increase communication amongst team members. Productivity software holds all stakeholders accountable for their contribution to any given initiative. Managers and team members can track goals and deadlines in real time, therefore making it easy to identify when extra assistance and mentorship is necessary. This process translates into larger business productivity; with teams practicing frequent collaboration to achieve goals, and seeking continuous learning opportunities to develop new skills. The ability to track individual processes will further motivate your workforce while making them more alert and hard working.

Create a Digital Workplace

Beyond tracking your employees’ productivity, you should be seeking to incorporate channels that facilitate the type of teamwork you’re looking to encourage. Look into incorporating a digital workplace. Social intranet software is becoming a more widely known concept. Providing employees with digital platforms allows colleagues to work and manage tasks, further streamlining their working relationship. Digital workplaces allow for members to share documents, collaborate on content and provide real time updates for the status of their work. Teams that work closely together can even create sub spaces to further organize projects and communication.

No matter your field of business, the right tools can help employees gain a better understanding for each other and the work they’re doing. This correlates to an increase in productivity by allowing employees to work more efficiently; translating into the achievement of business goals.

Author Bio:

Cameron Parish is a business enthusiast who actively seeks opportunities to share insight on communication.

A Question Of Trust: Putting Our Faith In Remote Workers

When we’re trying to conserve our business’ productivity, its integrity, not to mention its finances, the modern approach that so many companies look to is the remote working setup. Naturally, it’s a big draw, not just because it’s a way to cut those financial corners, but it’s a way we can hire so many people, and actually, make the most of the limited finances we have. But, with remote working comes a lot of questions, not just in terms of the technicalities, but also, when you’re hiring remote workers or freelancers, this question of trust can arise. Are remote workers to be trusted? And how can we get around this issue?

The Handling Of Sensitive Data

The one basic way we can get around this is to have contracts. Even a freelancer contract carries a legal cache, and it’s the best way for us to cover our bases. Unfortunately, the difficulty of ensuring remote workers and freelancers handle data effectively is all about consistent communication. While there are some technological ways for you to keep on top of this, hiring a virtual server hosting company to do the monitoring, or hiring a dedicated team to monitor the computer components will ensure that you are keeping some sort of watchful eye on your remote employees.

Improving Your Communication With Them

As we can struggle with the idea of control when we have remote workers or freelancers, it’s important to differentiate between the two terms. Remote workers can be hired on a permanent contract, but freelancers are not. So, if you are concerned that the two aren’t mutually exclusive, you have to think about what you want from your employees. In addition to this, if you want freelancers to feel part of the team, you have to make them feel just that. The big anxiety that we can have when it comes to trusting remote workers is that they can leave us in the lurch when there is a deadline looming, and while we don’t want to be let down, if we don’t give them any sort of incentive to keep working for us, such as by minimal communication, then part of us shouldn’t be surprised when they do inevitably jump ship. Improving your communication isn’t about messaging them every 20 minutes or so, it’s giving them that room to breathe but showing them that you have faith in their abilities to complete the task. This is a hard thing for us to come to terms with, especially when we’re trying to keep numerous plates spinning, as well as get to know the new members of the team.

Don’t forget, it’s important that remote workers feel part of the team, even though they are working from home. Remote workers, from a stereotypical perspective, can take liberties, and not do what is asked of them, but if we are to trust remote workers, then we have to have some semblance of honesty in how we communicate. We can trust remote workers, and we should, but maybe it’s more about the fact that we have to come to terms with changing our own managerial styles.

Why You Should Invest in Business Technology

With technological innovations influencing every single part of our lives, there is little doubt left whether it should take its rightful place in the business sphere. Yet, some businesses are still reluctant to invest a considerable portion of their income in technology, and might need a bit of a push. So in order to help you understand why this is not a choice but rather a necessity, here are some essential reasons why you should invest in business technology.

Improved productivity

There is no argument that all businesses are striving towards an improved productivity. And in today’s business world most of it comes from technology. It is no wonder that 81% of business executives in Europe believe AI will impact the overall business functioning in the next four years. And this involves all aspects of business, from manufacturing and distribution to customer support and data entry. According to Forbes, manufacturers will invest $267 billion in IoT by 2020 to improve their product development and manufacturing efforts. This types of automation enabled by the technology will allow for employees to be less burdened by the everyday routine tasks, thus freeing their time and allowing them to focus on resolving more complex issues.

Higher levels of communication quality

The days of fax machines are long gone. Now you can send data and establish communication with just a click of a button on your smartphone. Of course, having a well connected office space is essential for maintaining a higher level of intra-company communication. This is why a lot of businesses turn to trusted providers like Orange for getting company phone networks along with the actual phones.This is just one of the ways to increase and speed up the communication within the company. It is also imperative to acknowledge the value of smartphones, and the effect they have on the speed and quality of communication when it comes to businesses. So it is important to consider investing in both if you want to have clear, undisturbed lines of communication not just with the respected customers but also with your employees.

Better sources of information

Investing in technology can lead to better sources of information when it comes to your customers. This in return leads to improved services and products and increased customer satisfaction which is clearly translated into a higher ROI. For example, big data analytics and real-time data tracking are helping management make informed business decisions. This means that you will be able to provide your customers with products and services tailored to their individual needs, and technology is there to tell you what those needs are. And not only that, it is also important to consider that technology allows companies an unhindered means of communicating with their customers, thus enabling real-time reaction monitoring, which in return can speed up the process of adjusting a certain product or service to the needs of the customers, resulting in a far better response and customer satisfaction.

Better security options

Some might say that the use of technology such as cloud computing and IoT exposes your business to additional treats. But at the same time with the right security plan it can be argued that theses things actually keep your business safe. With cybersecurity being the number one priority, investing in technology related to this aspect of doing business is of absolute priority. This is one aspect that you can’t overlook or put on the back burner, recent statistics have suggested that the average cost of a data breach at a larger firm is £20,000, but  the damage is actually much bigger if you take into consideration the effect a breach can have on customer trust. Now with hackers getting more and more sophisticated, it is important that a company keeps investing in this type of security so as to be able to guarantee the safety of both its data and the data of their customers.

Now, these are just some of the reasons investing in technology is essential for any modern businesses. Apart from increased productivity and communication, the information gathering and data safety present an imperative for any business owner who strives to succeed in this technologically driven business landscape.

Guest Author, Raul Harman, s a B.Sc. in Innovative entrepreneurship and has a lot to say about innovations in all aspects of digital technology and online marketing.  While he’s not enjoying travel, football and great food, you can find him on Technivorz.com.

How Agile Changed Project Management for Good

Depending on who you ask and how liberal with your definition of Agile you are willing to be, agile project management has been around for centuries, perhaps even millennia. Simply put, the common sense tenets behind agile project management are just too common sense to be limited to just one industry, country or era.

However, when we talk about agile project management today, we mostly see it in terms of agile software development with a bit of lean manufacturing that directly preceded and influenced agile.

In that sense, we really can talk about a more direct and obvious way that agile changed project management in the last 20-odd years, with far-fetching consequences, both good and bad.

Agile branching out

Agile project management, as discussed today,was born in the software development industry as a way to address certain inherent problems observed when trying to deliver better, more valuable software. A number of methodologies, frameworks and approaches developed over the years, with many of them already having large numbers of proponents when the term Agile was actually chosen to denote this new approach to handling software projects.

Due to the positive effects of agile project management on the quality of software being delivered by the teams and companies that adopted it, agile slowly but steadily started to creep into other industries and it is currently present in industries and fields such as healthcare, manufacturing (where its roots lie), marketing, HR and even sales.

But, what is it exactly that makes agile project management so interesting and beneficial when done the right way?

Improved adaptability

One of the biggest benefits of agile project management over more traditional PM approaches is the improved adaptability, a true cornerstone of agile. Namely, agile accepts uncertainty and change as an inseparable part of any project and actually welcomes it. Planning done in agile is kept to a realistic minimum and the project is allowed to inform itself, so to say. The team estimates, inspects and re-estimates every aspect of the project as it is going on, making them more adaptable and reducing waste.

Emphasis on communication

The value of constant communication is one of the main themes in agile, extending beyond just communication within the team.Communication in agile entails communication with customers, other organizational groups and individuals, partners, suppliers, end-users and anyone else that could be considered a stakeholder. While all agile approaches preach this, some of them, such as Scrum (the most widely adopted agile framework)even prescribes events that are aimed at boosting communication.

Empowered teams

Another way in which agile changed project management is that it re-introduced the world to a very common sense concept – grown-up people do not require round the clock babysitting to do their work. In fact, they will be much more efficient and innovative if they are treated like adults and given autonomy. Agile project management therefore promotes self-organized teams that make decisions on their own, pull in work as they feel comfortable, but also adopt a shared and more pronounced feeling of responsibility for their work.

Better customer outcomes

At the very core of agile is delivering a superior product (originally a piece of software). In other words, we are talking about a product of high quality and high business value to the customer. The points we covered above all lead to this – adaptability which ensures the end product/service makes sense in the marketplace; communication with the customer and other stakeholders which also informs a valuable product and empowered teams that see this product as their own and do not just ‘put in 8 hours at the office’.

A few considerations

Agile project management has become an ecosystem of its own, with its own theory and the inevitable debates, its various approaches, certifications, roles and specifically developed Agile tools.If you are interested in adopting agile for your company, you would do well to learn more.

Also, you should remember that it takes some time and a lot of effort and dedication for agile to work. Just saying you are agile does not mean that you are – it is a huge shift in the way your business does things.

Finally, sometimes agile simply isn’t the best approach due to the nature of the work your company may be doing, your customers or the makeup of your organization. However, even in those cases, agile principles can be a welcome addition, if only in the company culture sense of the word.

AUTHOR: Jug Babic is a marketer at VivifyScrum, a company behind the eponymous agile project management software. You can find him on Twitter – @BabicJug.

7 Tactics to Improve Office Morale

One of the most important aspects of any company is employee morale. If you get unhappy workers, you will get a depressing, inefficient company. That’s why you, as a manager or boss, need to give your all if you want things to improve. Below you will see a couple of tips to do just that.

Avoid and shut down workplace drama

The first thing you should do is avoid, and put an end, to any office drama. Any infighting, arguments, or bad blood should be resolved as soon as possible. If you don’t, it can get much worse, and really heat up. Either talk to the people directly, or direct them to HR.

A big part of is avoiding any office gossip. It should be discouraged as often as possible, and really makes the entire company seem unprofessional.

Learn how to communicate more effectively

It’s not just enough that you have good intentions. You need to know how to get your point across in a way that people will actually listen and care. We suggest you learn how to communicate more effectively. Focus fully on the person that’s talking to you. Never interrupt and try not to judge.

Understanding how to present yourself is important. Focusing on reading body language is a big part of this, as is practicing it yourself. Watch your tone. Even if you mean well, some people just react differently. Some like loud people, others are intimidated. Humor is also important. Sarcasm and irony can be light-hearted and completely innocent, but some simply won’t get the joke and may end up insulted.

It’s all about understanding yourself, how you present yourself, and other people and how they react.

Show that you care

Now, we don’t mean bribing them with donuts and Starbucks every day (though that would be appreciated). We mean actually not letting them stress about their bills, medical coverage, and other bureaucratic nonsense. Keep all that nonsense in check. Have a cleaning lady over regularly. Keep the fridge and toilet supplies stocked. If the AC breaks down, get a repairman there the very next day.

Also, have a lawyer or even doctor on hand (depending on your line of work). Get the best work injury lawyer you can find on retainer if your people deal with dangerous equipment. If you have some specialized equipment, have a repairman on hand as well. Little things like this are a very clear and direct sign of respect. Actions do, in fact, speak louder than words.

Feedback is everything

Actually, listen and focus on what people say. Let them know that if they have any problems or issue, they can always come to you. Create an atmosphere of trust, of allowing people to be relaxed. The worst thing for employee morale is being afraid of being ridiculed by their superior.

People like and respect when somebody respects them. Having their thoughts and opinions heard out can really make a difference. Furthermore, you accepting feedback from them goes a long way. Even if you disagree, the very act of accepting it means a lot.

Be empathetic

Empathy goes a long way. Just because you’re at the workplace doesn’t mean it’s all cutthroat, mechanical, turn of the century rat race. No, you should be understanding. It’s one thing if you have a lazy employee. But if somebody’s parent died, or they were sick, or they have any other tragedy in their life, try to cut them some slack.

Try not to judge, you don’t know what a person is going through. Think of your job as you and your employees against a problem, rather than some class warfare at the office.

Find some time for your people

Find some time for your people. Set up schedules, or just have an hour every week where they can come to you and voice your concerns. Advertise this fact, let them know. Have an hour where there will be no interruptions, where the phone is off, and everybody is relaxed.

Be positive

Finally, be positive. A boss or manager who is always on the edge, who is stressed and depressed, is not a good sight. If they see you like this, they will think the company is in trouble, and so, their jobs too. They may even (understandably) think about seeking a new job. Even if things aren’t going perfectly, try to to at least keep appearances until things calm down.

If needed, learn how to regulate your stress better. Know that investing in some time off, or some more leisure activities, will actually end up making you more efficient. You will be a better boss or manager, and a better person in general.

Conclusion

And there you have, an end to office drama and depression. Just because its work, doesn’t mean it has to be this depressing and difficult affair. Just keep all these tips in mind, and we are certain things will improve.

 

btyAlexander Hunkin is an Australian based startup advisor with in-depth experience in growing business. His meaningful and strategic advice have helped in setting and growing many startup companies in Brisbane and Perth. Alexander is also a content creator for different niches including business, career, finance, and marketing. When he isn’t busy working, you can find him cooking exotic meals, scuba diving, and cycling.