Every Monday, we share with you information about managing non-profit associations. This week, for "Association Management Monday," impact Virtual Services has a proposal for you... a cheer if you will. Give us an 'R' and we'll give you one too!
"THINK FAST!" It's what they would say in the 50s when someone was about to throw something your way. So.... THINK FAST! impact Virtual Services is HIRING! We are looking for the very best of the best to bring on as Virtual Executive Administrators with expertise in non-profit management, association management, support for small and medium-sized businesses, support for entrepreneurs and social media mavens! Oh-Daddy-Oh, if you think you've got what it takes... CLICK HERE!
Do any of us remember what it was like before this crazy technology world we live in? Life before we were connected to everyone and anything at all times of the day. Life before we had all of the information and resources we could ever need at our fingertips. Some often complain about the overload of technology but it is also something that has made our lives significantly more efficient. As a business, technology is incorporated into our day to day functions in so many ways. It has allowed for quicker communication, immense amounts of resources, and tools that assist in providing the best possible results.
Whether it is shooting a quick email, sharing a Facebook post, or distributing a newsletter, technology allows for immediate communication. This makes businesses run more competently and prevents the delay of work that can often happen when you are spending time waiting to hear back from someone. The ability to share company information and marketing through social media provides a chance to show your brand personality and reach customers where they are spending their time. The ability to share a piece of information to a mass amount of people is a concept that would not exist without technology. Along with reaching a mass amount of people, technology also allows for immediate feedback. Technology lets you know how many people are seeing the information, what their thoughts are, and who you are reaching. This recent shift in technology is something that should be utilized to grow communication and your business.
Technology also provides businesses with a plethora of information and resources. You can become educated on a variety of topics on the internet or find programs for anything you could possibly need. This allows you to be knowledgeable in the quickest way possible. It eliminates the process of searching through a book or old files. The tools available keep the business running smoothly.
As an association management company, our team would not be able to provide the work we do with out technology. Technology provides the opportunity for us to work with associations around the country and provide them with the services they need. If you are ever frustrated by seeing everyone with their head in their phone, just keep in mind all the things that technology can offer outside of that.
Having faith in someone or something is defined as having confidence and trust without proof. But how does this translate to an employee/employer relationship? With many organizations and businesses taking advantage of Independent Contractors and Virtual Assistants, it is worth considering how you will measure the success of someone working for you…when they aren’t in front of you. Gone are the days of the mighty boss hovering over their employees as they work. Frankly, that’s just a waste of time!
Set up a system to track progress, but don’t rely on it completely. Your Assistant shouldn’t spend too much time documenting activities, but they should keep records. There are numerous reasons why this information can come in handy. Not only is it a way for you to track projects without speaking with your Assistant on a daily basis, but it is also a great way for them to keep themselves accountable. That is something everyone needs, not just a Virtual Assistant. Our team uses MyHours. It’s an online program that easily tracks time, projects and clients, PLUS the information can easily be exported for regular evaluation.
Having a comprehensive plan for how to communicate can also help things run smoothly. Many people need a steady stream of communication in order to build trust, and there is nothing wrong with that. Clients vary from requesting monthly meetings with their VA, to weekly, to a quick overview email at the end of the day. If a VA is required to reply within 24 hours, this needs to be a clear expectation.
Like any employee, there will likely be a transition when starting to work with a VA or offsite Assistant. Systems will be put into place, adjusted, and evaluated. But in no time, your VA will be getting more done for you than you ever imagined! You’ll wonder how you survived without them, and what took you so long to hire your VA! Just remember, you hired them so you could get more work done. Don’t waste your time checking in constantly, unless you have concerns that need to be addressed. You have just given yourself the gift of time, now what are you going to go do with it?
Have you ever worked with someone that always seemed irritated or agitated? You never know at what point they are just going to snap at you? Eventually, we find that it doesn’t take too long for that attitude to rub off on everyone else’s attitudes as well.
What is anger? It tends to be an emotion that ranges from mild irritation to intense fury and rage. It’s a natural response when we feel threatened, but can also be from frustration when our needs, desires, and personal goals aren’t being met. It’s important to realize that anger is a normal emotion, but when it leads to actions that are impulsive or aggressive, or even violent, this presents a concern.
In my role as an Owner of a Virtual Assistant business, it would be harder for me to see such actions, as I do not necessarily see my team members on a day to day basis, but these actions, when extreme, still can present some red flags.
- Snappy emails. Do employees seem pleasant in their correspondence? Is email communication friendly and inviting, or short and snappy? If short and snappy, maybe try to promote a little more communication from your co-workers or employees. Ask how they are doing or what they did over the weekend. Maybe this will spark the issue and help them move forward.
- Negativity. Do you find the attitude of your employees to be positive consistently, or are you sensing that something is triggering negativity in their work? Maybe they are dissatisfied in what they do and they need more challenges? Are they looking for positive reinforcement? Sometimes it’s easy to fall into the same patterns day in and day out. Break it up. Throw in a company lunch. Encourage employees to be a part of the team and acknowledge their skills and capabilities. Rewards, even in the smallest of circumstances, can go a long way!
- Depression. If every thought is borderline sad or depressing, there may be a very serious, more involved issue. If your company allows, refer them to an Employee Assistance Program, common among benefit plans. This is obviously one of the most extremes of anger in the workplace, but if recognized early, it may avoid accidents or injuries or even disciplinary action such as job loss, arrest, and even imprisonment.
The main point that I want to stress is when employees are happy, the workplace atmosphere is a more serene place. Anger pushes people away and causes negativity to brew amongst employees. Recognize the signs and challenge them. Offer solutions such as an Employee Assistance Program, company lunches, or small talk conversations. Engage yourself with your employees to keep up with what is occurring in their personal lives. Even if they are very private with their own lives, it never hurts to ask questions and show some interest. This may be the subtle differences in keeping a positive work environment amongst all employees, whether they are in your immediate office, or on a virtual team, such as is the case for my team members.
If you find yourself wondering if it’s impossible to make everyone happy, you may be surprised! Experts actually say that the answer is yes, you can make all of your employees happy! Really???? As I had even questioned this, it sparked my curiosity on how a business owner could better the attitude of not only their employees, but ultimately, the end-all success or improvement of their business. Sure, easy solutions may be bonuses, gift cards, raises, etc., but in a very difficult economy, these things are not always the easiest to do.
We all have our favorite employees that we depend on. It seems these members are loyal, dedicated, and no matter what, always step up to the plate. On the other hand, there seem to be those employees that no matter what, they’re just dissatisfied. When you think about why this might be, you may realize that there are some outside factors which cause this poor attitude. Is it possible if you start treating disgruntled employees like everyone else (fairly!), their attitude could change? If so, how can this be accomplished?
Six of the best ways to uplift workplace attitude:
- Encourage employees! When doesn’t someone want to be told they are doing good work and can do even better? We all want praise. It’s what keeps us positive and upbeat and working towards goals. Managers should expect the best, not the worst, and with this they need to inspire their employees and set the best examples.
- Trust seems to be the key to any successful relationship! Why wouldn’t it be the same for a boss/employee relationship? Managers should seek out the problems of their employees. If you recognize what is bothering someone, you may better understand how to work with them. It might be as simple as a schedule adjustment that makes all of the difference. As Managers become more uniform in how they are treating their employees, a trusting relationship has the potential to grow into consistent work behavior.
- Development of your employees is a key factor in positive employee attitude. We all want to be challenged, learn new skills, and grow as individuals. As a Manager, if you take an interest in your employee’s interests, they may have the inspiration to not just learn a new skill, but to develop a life-long career.
- Communication is the key to success. Great communicators share ideas, they don’t leave individuals out of the loop. They are also great listeners and can provide articulate questions. When employees feel they know what is going on, whether it be a new benefit coming their way, an invite to a holiday party, or just a change in the upcoming work schedule, this can build confidence in their attitude and make them feel comforted in knowing they are not just the work force, but a part of a team.
- Honesty is also so very important. If someone is not up to speed with a task, be upfront with them. More importantly, Managers should be tactful in how they address these issues. Maybe confront the employee with “you’re doing great, but I did notice you are missing this step.” It is quite possible that they don’t even realize they are doing something wrong and will be appreciative you told them the correct way to finish a process. As well, send praise their way if they do something that is considered an over-achievement. It never hurts to get a “that-a-boy or girl.”
- Lastly, connect with your employees, ALL of your employees. As we all have our favorites that we take to lunch, or talk with socially, spread the love. Talk with all of your employees and try not to show favoritism. Set goals to find out little things about each and every one on your staff. Not only will the employee appreciate you taking the time to get to know them, but you will see a difference in the success of their role.
When you start to think about these things, a third of our lifetime is spent in the workplace. We can either make it a positive adventure or we can focus on the negative. My advice to you is to start looking at how you treat your employees. Do you have a favorite? Is there someone you could talk with a little more? Is there something going on outside of work that is affecting someone? By focusing on these small steps, it just may be the huge turn around to making a difference in the attitude of your workplace.