aNewDomain.net – Technology can be used for many things, but it can’t be used for hands-off management of your staff. However, it can be used to make communication and management easier or more comprehensive.
Shared Online Storage
There are literally dozens of products that let you synchronize, backup and share your information. Dropbox is the leader in this space, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t top-shelf alternatives. The ability to designate a folder for your team to work in – be it reading manuals or centralizing a place for sharing files– is invaluable. We use Dropbox at aNewDomain.net all the time.
Shared Online Documents
Whether you use Google Drive or something else, having your team’s documents available online, anytime, is very beneficial. I find that I use a lot of shared spreadsheets – giving full access to those that need to change the data and read-only permission to others. This allows everyone to know what’s going on without the need to send out even more email. I’m also a fan of shared task lists. If your organization doesn’t use Microsoft Exchange, a shared spreadsheet can be a great alternative for tracking an individual’s projects.
Internal Web Site
You could use Microsoft SharePoint or a plain HTML web page, but however you do it, having a place to list information is vital. Again, you could email all of this to your team, but that requires them to manage the information themselves – something that some people struggle with. You might benefit from a team calendar or links to new policies or procedures, or even just link the information in your shared online documents and online storage.
We live in an era of rapid, often overly-efficient, communication. Email, texts and tweets are great, but they may leave the need for interpretation. Communication is a two-way street, and it’s up to you to be sure that your audience receives your communications as you intend them. That’s why voice calls, or better yet video calls, should be used for important subjects. It is far less likely that a staff member will misunderstand, forget or ignore your requests when you deliver them over a Skype video call. Emails are too easy to miss, sometimes intentionally. Don’t forget all the nuances you can pick up from someone’s voice or facial expressions – cues which may help you anticipate a problem.
The key to effective management is communicating your expectations to your staff, making sure they understand those expectations (and buy in to the goal) and holding them accountable. Technical solutions, like those above, can be effective at each stage, but they’re not the only way. There are many situations where a phone call or face-to-face are better or necessary. Don’t allow yourself to hide behind technology, as that’s only going to cause unrest in your department.
Based in Vermont, Jeremy Lesniak is managing editor at aNewDomain.net and founder of Vermont Computing, Inc. and whistlekick.com Follow him @jlesniak or email him email@example.com