5 Essentials for Choosing Online Tools
Have you heard the saying, ‘A boat doesn’t go forward if each one is rowing their own way’ (Swahili Proverb)? This is very true. In business we must remember that not only are our customers important but so are the relationships within a workplace. If you want to stay happy and ahead of the competition, you need a team of workers who can perform at an optimum level… together! In the day to day running of a practice, it can be hard to keep up with everything, particularly keeping employees motivated and engaged in their work. Online tools can be a great way to manage a busy practice. The tricky part is choosing which ones are right for you and your team.
We all know that poor engagement from employees can result in decreased productivity, missed deadlines, low morale and miscommunication. Don’t despair though! There are simple online tools available that can help manage employee relationships and tasks. Which one is right for your team? There are many out there, so you need to be careful in what you select. Think about the area of your practice that you might want to improve on, and use this as a starting point to research an online tool that might be of assistance. The following are just some of the possibilities for bringing online tools to your workplace:
- This might include using electronic timesheet entries or using an interactive online practice manual to keep your policies and procedures up to date.
- Having an online business plan accessible to your staff is a great way to tick things off your lists, or using a task management app such as Trello.
To do lists
- I love to do lists! I use them all the time. Having an online to do list that you can invite individual team members to share will allow you to assign tasks to people and track their completion. Wunderlist is a good one to get started.
- This can be achieved simply through Survey Monkey questionnaire.
Employee learning and working relationships
- Working your team through a learning style inventory can help to have all team members engaged next time they are in a learning situation. Other inventories, such as the online Belbin Team Role Assessment is a great way to work out the strengths and weaknesses of your team.
Connection with remote staff who are away from the office
- Skype is a great way to connect with out of office workers who are remote.
Outsourcing to free up staff time
Once you have chosen an area, have a look at the tools that are around. Chat with other practice owners about which ones they might be using. At the end of the day it must have the following characteristics:
- Time efficient – there is no point in having an online tool that takes you longer to navigate than the good old pen and paper
- Manages things when you are out of the office – we all can’t be on deck all the time, so having a tool that you can use remotely, or that can run itself while you are away is ideal.
- Ensures people are accountable to pull their weight – an online tool that allows you to track the progress of tasks and know who is assigned to different aspects of a task is extremely beneficial. It can help to highlight who is struggling and who might be doing all the work.
- Keeps employees engaged even if you are not there – so important to have an online tool that works in your absence. Making sure your team can use it correctly will help them engage with it on a regular basis.
- Allows idea sharing, and achievement as a team – what better way than this to lift your morale and team spirit. Allowing staff to share ideas is a fantastic way to share the load and allow them to feel part of the practice. Staff have great ideas, so let them flow. Having something online that everyone can see is a great way to highlight team achievements. This also helps people stay focused on the goals.
Online tools when chosen correctly, can bring a team closer together and promote achievement of the business objectives. Having a team work efficiently online promotes a cohesive approach to tasks, and will free up your time spent managing these. Yes, there is a little set-up period and adjustment to any new innovation you want to integrate into your workplace, but the benefits of the right online tools will quickly become apparent and you will wonder how you survived without them!