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Your Fast-Paced Workforce

How mobile does your workforce really need to be?

Garth Hayward

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Mobile-Employees

The value proposition of a more mobile workforce is an enticing one: improved workforce efficiency, greater productivity, enhanced collaboration, and a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) of devices are just some of the touted benefits for SMEs

However, concerns remain for many SME owners. Security, compliance, the challenges of managing a highly mobile workforce, the complexity of rolling-out mobile solutions, integrating and managing devices on the company network, the cost implications of writing off investments in legacy systems, and the hardware costs are all pertinent concerns.

Stuck in the dark ages

The truth is, in such a challenging economic climate SMEs should be focusing on the fundamentals of business, not wasting time and money implementing and managing new forms of technology. Sadly, business prosperity and technology are no longer mutually exclusive. The two now go hand-in-hand and SMEs that refuse to embrace new technologies like workforce mobility will lose competitive advantage and, subsequently, sustainability.

The ability to communicate effectively and efficiently with customers, suppliers and employees is an integral part of every SME’s success, which is precisely what mobility enables. A more mobile workforce means that staff can be on site with clients while remaining connected, in real-time, to the office.

This allows them to place orders, access vital customer information, check emails, schedule meetings, communicate with office-bound team members for rapid issue resolution, or even action items themselves while on the go. This speeds up the business process, reducing lead times and increasing responsiveness to enhance customer service and delivery.

Mission critical

Enabling mobility within SMEs has become mission-critical. Stifling mobility is akin to stifling business growth. Thankfully the concerns that the small business owner has, while justified, are easily addressed.

For instance, with the increased speed and capacity of mobile and fixed-line broadband in South Africa, with an accompanying reduction in cost, workers now have access to high speed Internet access from the office or while on the move.

This makes the adoption of key technologies like cloud computing, possible. Cloud computing gives SMEs access to enterprise-grade applications and systems that are hosted in a centralised data centre. These services are available on a pay-per-use, scalable model and the entire environment is managed and maintained by managed service providers.

This has significantly lowered the TCO of technology for SMEs as there is no longer a need for large capital outlays to implement new technology and the burden of IT management is now outsourced to industry experts.

As software, data and information is hosted in a data centre it can also be accessed from any Internet-enabled device, as long as there is suitable connectivity. This is the key enabler of mobility within the SME as there is no complicated integration or new hardware required.

Accessing other new technologies that can further enhance business performance and efficiency, like unified communications and collaboration tools for instance, are also more accessible when SMEs move their network into the cloud.

Advancements in consumer electronics have also played an important role in making mobility a viable option for SMEs. The mobile devices consumers buy and use daily for personal use are becoming increasingly more sophisticated.

Employees are also bringing these smartphones, tablets and phablets (phone-tablets) into the business environment and using them to access the company network.

Mobility on demand

This trend, termed Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), gives employees access to technologies like voice calling, Internet access, e-mail, instant messaging, video conferencing and access to hosted applications and databases, all from a single device.

This means that SMEs can often enable mobility without the need to invest in new hardware and the cloud computing model negates any concerns around integration as everything is now web-based and accessible through a portal.

The headache normally associated with the management of the rapidly growing number of mobile devices entering the network is also less of a concern thanks to automation and mobile device management (MDM) solutions.

These solutions manage mobile devices from the same platform as desktops, laptops and servers, ensuring business continuity, and provide secure access to the network without exponentially increasing the demands and workload placed on internal IT staff.

Automation can also provide a variety of other benefits, including savings on bandwidth as it manages software updates, automates security updates and automatically applies configurations and settings to new devices.

With all of these services and capabilities now available to SMEs as part of cost efficient, fully managed offerings there should be no hesitation from SMEs to embrace mobility and benefit from the strategic and competitive advantages it offers.

Garth Hayward, Kaseya’s regional manager for Africa, entered the IT world in 1985. He’s spent close to 30 years focusing predominantly on IT services and service optimisation from a business perspective. In 2008, Hayward established an African presence for Kaseya, a leading global provider of automated IT systems management software, which provides enterprise-level software to organisations of all sizes.

Managing Staff

The Value Of Employee Growth

When you’re running a fresh and shiny new business, how do you ensure your employees feel like they have a place to go?

Chris Ogden

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Investing into the future of an employee is a complex task at the best of times. Well-established organisations battle to manage employee expectations and growth trajectories so what options does a startup have when it is still finding its feet? While having an agile and energetic young company is often enough of a drawcard for talent, you still need to create pathways that are unique to your business and that allow for employees to grow, both personally and professionally.

Step 01: Embrace difference

Recognise that your business is made up of a variety of different roles and that each one offers different employee pathways. You need to find the pathways and roles that suit an employee’s personality and their idea of where they want to grow.

It’s in seeing these differences and embracing them that you are already providing your employees with a voice and showing them that they are heard.

Related: 5 Benefits Of Turning Your Employee Into An Intrapreneur

Step 02: Be inventive

Find a way of creating growth opportunities even with the few roles you have in your business. For example, you could create a methodology that has tiered levels within a specific role. Then a person has opportunity to expand their skills and responsibilities in that role. This would work for roles that are fixed, like an office admin, or for roles that are flexible.

Step 03: Finance and responsibility

Outline how a person can grow financially and show them the additional objectives and responsibilities their role offers. Some people aren’t just about the money, they want more to do and they don’t want to be bored.

Step 04: Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

It is essential that you measure people so that you can create opportunity for them. Tell them their KPIs so that they have benchmarks and everyone has expectations. This allows you to let people know when they are or are not doing well.

They can assess their performance properly and there is no risk of people having differing expectations that impact on ability or role. You must openly and honestly review employees and yourself.

Related: 6 Ways To Build Your Business With Employee-Entrepreneurs

Step 05: Encourage mentorship

It’s really worth encouraging people to guide or mentor one another. Some people may stay in your business for years, some only for a few months, but you want to see them all grow. By creating an environment that inspires people to mentor and guide one another, you’re ensuring that every person in your business is given a chance to teach and to learn.

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Managing Staff

Peak Performance: How To Get The Best Out Of Your Business Team

Understand and more importantly apply the following to your business and you too can dramatically improve the experience of your employees and ironically, with that people over profit approach attain profits never seen before.

Dirk Coetsee

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“Sell your cleverness and purchase awe”

Rumi

Under the periphery of Leadership and humanitarian philosophies lies the reality of people not always being understood nor treated well in their workplaces. Albeit that lip service is often paid to a people over profit Leadership style few entrepreneurs or companies bring it to life to its fullest potential.

Those select few leaders whom have had the awesome experience of leading business teams that are inspired, constantly learn new skills and sharpen existing ones, are change adept, with behaviours aligned to the business vision, and solving problems within a ‘family environment’ of mutual trust and respect have indeed ‘sold their cleverness and have purchased awe’.

Understand and more importantly apply the following to your business and you too can dramatically improve the experience of your employees and ironically, with that people over profit approach attain profits never seen before.

Related: Peak Performance: Multiply Personal And Team Business Performance

If it is to be it is up to me

tony-robbins

The author totally agrees with Tony Robbins who states that “Business is 20% technical and 80% psychology”. The state of your business and the performance of your business team is so much dependent upon your state as an entrepreneur, business owner, or investor. Your psychological  state as a tapestry weaved together by your thinking, beliefs and behaviours influences all aspects of the business.

If you demand states of positivity, peak performance, massive and confident actions from your team you yourself better embody those states day in, day out.

Luminaries and leaders such as Jim Kwik (Brain and learning expert) , Tony Robbins (World leading Life coach and Billionaire entrepreneur) , Ed Mylet (Entrepreneur and passionate advocate for peak performance) take control of their lives, days, and states by consciously doing a variety of practises each morning to ensure that they are at optimal levels of performance and state as they approach a new day.

Conscious , focussed, and mindful efforts such as ‘NLP Peak state exercises’, Meditation, Prayer, reading, visualisations, breathing exercises,  and physical exercise can be very impactful with regards to your daily engagements as a leader or entrepreneur.

I love what Ed Mylet has to say about self-confidence and influence:

Self-confidence comes from keeping promises to yourself which equals self-trust’. We all lose self-confidence and self-trust when we keep on promising to ourselves that we will start exercising or stop smoking and we never do. Start keeping promises to yourself as a matter of honour.

‘Influencing is not making others believe but its’ about showing them that you truly believe in what you are saying’.

Inspire instead of motivate

Be future orientated in deed and speech as an Entrepreneur. Hold and treasure an inspiring future Vision in front of your team and ‘sweat and bleed’ alongside them to actualise that vision. ‘First seek to understand and then to be understood’, as the late Leadership expert Stephen Covey said, in relation to your communication style. Most of all love your team and foster a culture of self-improvement, growth and learning.

Tell inspiring and true stories in relation to the vision and team members’ behaviours that are in alignment with your companies’ vision. Motivation is fickle and tied to your will-power which is finite.

Sincerely hold on to an inspiring future vision and defining Purpose which can provide infinite inspiration.

Related: Business Leadership – Learn How To Embrace Change

Entrepreneurs and leaders create environments for team members to thrive in

The ultimate ‘hack’ in relation to performance for entrepreneurs and leaders is to create an environment for their co-team members within which they can thrive, creatively contribute, and feel as part of a family that is actualising an inspiring future vision.

When team members do not feel safe or trusted they spend a lot of time creating safety nets (even sometimes false ones) for themselves as opposed to actually doing their work. Lead by inspiring example and actually do what you say you will do all in alignment with the companies’ vision and values and your team members will trust and follow you.

Personalise their rewards and constantly demonstrate that you care about them as people and value them as highly important contributors to the attainment of the companies cause.

Go forth and lead your team to the peak of your collective performance!

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Managing Staff

5 Things To Do When An Employee’s Performance Deteriorates

It can be confusing and frustrating when a successful employee’s performance takes a nosedive. Intervene effectively using these five steps.

Liz Kislik

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For all kinds of reasons, even longstanding, highly productive employees can experience a performance slump at some point. The Towers Watson Global Workforce study showed that up to 26 percent of workers surveyed said they felt disengaged, and another 17 percent felt detached.

As a founder, you may not always find an obvious way to get someone back on track, but the investment of energy you would need to turn this situation around is still so much less than what would be needed replace and train a new employee.

So, the upshot is that it only makes sense to figure out what’s going on and take action. Ready? These five approaches may help.

1. Ask explicitly if the employee is okay

And find out if there’s anything that you should know about instead of assuming you understand this individual’s current circumstances and reactions. Of course, it will help if you’re already aware of his or her personal situation.

Perhaps the employee is dealing with a new and challenging circumstance that’s distracting. In that case, it can help to share your evidence: “James, I was wondering if everything’s okay. I noticed that you stopped/started doing X, and I figured I’d better check in with you about it.”

At one of my clients’ companies, when a leader touched base with a staffer who had fallen below expectations, the woman explained that her dog had died, and she was grieving. Knowing her boss cared about her helped her refocus on her work.

2. Look for signs of stress and burnout

stress-and-burnout

Burnout costs U.S. businesses as much as $300 billion each year, whether the reason is employees having had to absorb too many changes or the fact that they’ve just been plain old working too hard for too long.

A longtime administrator I knew was being criticised for her negativity, her self-pacing and  her avoidance of anything new. After some analysis, however, it became clear that there was more work than her team could handle. Once her team was staffed up and the new team members were reasonably up to speed, she started to recover her resilience and became more even-keeled.

Related: Why I Stopped Doing Annual Employee Reviews

3. Probe for changes in the employee’s job

Perhaps there are new problems with equipment, resources or information flows; maybe a major customer is giving the employee a hard time, or a manager is behaving differently in some way.

A CEO I work with was concerned about a downturn in an executive’s previously outstanding performance. We discussed how the employee had recently been assigned to lead a new initiative for which he did not have previous experience, although he was the best internal candidate. The CEO agreed that as soon as the new initiative could afford to pay for an experienced executive, the reassigned employee should return to the assignment where his performance had been consistently superior.

4. Describe your expectations for the employee’s performance

employee-performance

And talk about how the business, team or customers are affected when it’s lacking. Although up to 87 percent of employees in one survey reported by Strategy + Business said they wanted opportunities for development, only one-third reported actually receiving feedback to help them improve.

So, make sure you’re concrete and specific about both expectations and impacts. Ask what employees need from you or from others in the organisation to help them get back on track.

I had to give one senior leader excruciatingly detailed feedback, in areas from interpersonal dynamics to personal hygiene. It wasn’t pleasant for either of us, but until he was made aware of exactly what was disturbing to customers, there was no hope for improvement.

Related: How Diversity Drives Board Performance

5. Provide meaningful recognition

Employees in  a survey by the Cicero Group were three times more likely to choose recognition as the single factor most likely to motivate superior performance– over inspiration, autonomy and even pay.

Recognition doesn’t have to be expensive or even time-consuming. One leader I knew started using the daily standup meeting not just to review the progress of the work, but also to mention superior contributions and excellent performances. Not only did preparation for the daily meetings improve, but team members were eager to make contributions that could be noted.

In sum, even excellent performers can lose momentum or be stalled by circumstances from time to time. How to respond as the employer? Intervening early will help you feel optimistic about a positive outcome and give the employee involved the benefit of the doubt so you can demonstrate to staff the confidence you have in them and your willingness to provide support during a tough time.

Just don’t wait to do this: If you wait till you’re fed up with either the person or whatever’s going wrong, you’ll find it much harder to turn the situation around.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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