There is no end of business gurus who’ll tell you all about the management styles and attitudes needed to drive your company towards growth. People telling you to work 18- hour days and get up at 4:30 am are almost as common as unrealistic schedules that involve 3 hours of meditation and push-ups in your office.
Of course, there’s a lot to be said for having the right approach from yourself and your staff – but you don’t have to rely on adjusting people’s mindset and cultivating a miniature team of Elon Musks to take your business forward.
In actual fact, there are plenty of IT solutions that’ll help to drive your business on – but since they’re very few of them make for compelling click-bait style headlines, many of them fly under the radar – even though they have the potential to revolutionize the way you and your teamwork.
So, where should you turn if you want to harness the full potential of your team and maximize the effort they put into your company?
There’s no secret to putting a bunch of people in a room and getting them to effectively work together – there are just too many factors at play. Do they communicate in the same way? Do they get along as people? Have they all got the necessary amount of information to understand the decisions one-another make?
Short of hoping for a miracle, the best thing you can do for a team of people working together is put a collaborative way of working into place – ideally backed up by a project management tool.
Well, by doing so, you remove to take a lot of real-life communication and hand it over to a system. If you’re a manager standing over someone’s desk telling them what’s expected of them every morning, you might come over as a touch over-baring – but a daily briefing email from a project management tool is usually welcomed (and it certainly takes up less of your time).
When you level the playing field with communications and expectations, you find that people follow on. In fact, studies show that you can expect teams to be 10% more productive when they’re using online collaboration tools and project management tools – rather than more traditional methods.
10% might not sound like much – but if you’ve got a team of 3 people working 40 hours a week, you’re upping your effective output by around 600 hours over the course of a year – the equivalent of one employee working an extra 15 working weeks.
Look into project management tools like Trello, Basecamp, Monday.com, and Wrike – and make sure your teams are maximizing the use of collaborative features with their daily Google or Microsoft applications.
Finetune your workflows
Performance needs to be assessed if you’re going to improve it. It’s why sports teams will watch their performances back again and again – and why many people don’t lose weight until they’re tracking the food they’re eating.
Until you have a very clear picture of what you’re doing, there’s no way of understanding if there are parts of your work processes that are causing you to lose potential business – and this is why a CRM is absolutely vital.
A CRM (customer relationship management) system is set up to help you map out your processes and track customers through each step. A good CRM will allow you to automate some parts of the process – and will almost ways give you a trickle-down view of how many customers convert through different parts of the process.
By mapping the numbers with a system like this, you’re able to get a real view of where customers drop out of the process. This is going to be different for every company – but lets for one second consider that you’re having 200 customer conversations each month – resulting in 50 sent quotes. In turn, those quotes turn into 10 orders. 10 orders might seem like a fantastic result – but is there anything at either of those conversion points that could change 50 quotes into 60? Or 10 orders into 12?
Find a good CRM and break down your workflows. Look at the numbers and consider ways you can improve those conversions. There’s no need to work harder – just work smarter with the effort you’re currently expending.
Let your teams work from home
People are complex – and it’s extremely rare to find a full workforce that’ll perfectly fit into the ideal working hours for your business.
So, what do you do? Force them to work the hours that suit your business with no regard for the kids, parents, other work, family, pet, illness and travel arrangements they need to workaround? Or do you offer some flexibility – exchanging sheer numbers of hours worked for fewer hours that are more productive?
Almost certainly, the latter is the better option. Better yet is the prospect of letting people work from home – allowing your work to fit around their other life commitments. Sure, it doesn’t work for every role, but if it’s something you can offer your employees, you’re almost certainly going to see increased productivity as a result.
You might need to invest in the right kind of home-working infrastructure to get the most out of your teams. Being able to remotely access your network is likely to be essential – and having a dedicated work-only internet connection through a 4G router that’s suitable for the job is also a good idea – but if you can put this in place, you’re likely to unlock a lot of untapped talent and goodwill from people you employ.
You need to be certain that you’re not leveling expectations that cause problems with someone’s work/life balance – but as long as you can be confident this is the case, then you’re likely to find that you’ll get another 10% increase in productivity – which, when added to your collaboration benefits, means you’re getting a lot more out of your current workforce – and they’re probably going to be happier doing it too.