As a leader of a small business, you are responsible for everything your company does or fails to do. Whether you are making key decisions, managing resources, or motivating subordinates, being a better manager is tough work.
Fortunately, the advent of the 21st Century, and the amazing technologies that have changed the way we live our daily lives now, are often applicable to business leadership as well. Here are some great ways you can use new and emerging technology to be a more effective manager, and help make your company a profitable one.
Communicate More Effectively
Recent technological innovations make it relatively simple for managers to stay connected to their communities of interest. 25 years ago, if you wanted to communicate effectively with your employees or customers, your opportunities were limited to in-person conversations, landline, print, or maybe radio or television advertisements. These days, there are numerous ways for you, as a manager, to stay connected to everyone.
Managers can use emails, texts, or tools like Skype, FaceTime or videoconferences to communicate with your employees, regardless of where they are. Your website and social media presence can keep you connected to customers and the public as well. An effective social media presence especially let’s you receive critical feedback with the customers; it even allows customers to communicate effectively with each other.
Make Better Decisions
Technology can help remove some of the uncertainty managers often face, and enable them to make more informed decisions. Your company can leverage some of the “big data” analytics of companies like Google to gain a better understanding of your customers, sales trends, and other critical activities, which will make it easier to make critical decisions about resources management and business strategies; big data will literally help you see the future.
Additionally, accounting software can help managers review past financial performance information to make more effective decisions today.
Finally, collecting data on your own companies’ performance – from its employees, to its machinery and processes – will enable a manager to review the company’s overall performance, and make decisions to improve upon it.
Manage Your Workforce
There are a plethora of software tools that can ease managers’ burdens when it comes to human resource management. There are many programs that make it scheduling work times and hours for subordinates a snap; the same software make computing hours and payroll much easier as well.
Finally, there are several human resource programs that make it easier for you to rate your employees’ performance and potential, and even allow their peers to provide performance evaluation feedback as well. Tools like this can help managers improve their employees’ performance, and help them realize their potential.
Managers can also use these tools to help guide their tough decisions about promotions and pay raises, and can even save mangers a considerable amount of time that would otherwise have been spent documenting employee behavior on analog forms as well.
Collaborate With Your Team
Thanks to modern technology, some of the best collaborative efforts may come from team members in completely different time zones. There are a myriad of tools available that make it easier than ever for virtual teams to work together, share information, and develop effective plans and ideas, regardless of where they are.
Cloud computing, for example, makes t easier than ever for employees and managers to store and access key data regardless of where they are. Software like Dropbox allows you to share key files with your team, work in real time with teammates who are geographically separated, and provide guidance and intent to teammates so they get the job done correctly.
Automate Your Workflow
Modern technology can enable you to automate many of the more mundane tasks your business has to perform. This helps save you and your employees time.
In some cases, automating workflows may enable you to reduce the total number of workers you need, saving you time and money. For example, your company may be able to automate purchase orders for raw materials or supplies based on warehouse monitoring programs, saving you time previously spent doing this task. Another workflow automation tool, customer relationship management (CRM) software, can also simplify many of the basic tasks for dealing with clients that previously required much more of your time and attention.
The less time managers have to spend on routine tasks, the more time they have available to focus. Now they can focus on what is important right now in their company.
Stay on Schedule
One of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs and small business owners have is managing their timeeffectively. Fortunately, today’s technology can provide welcome relief on this front. Simple calendars, like those found in Microsoft Outlook, make it simple to schedule key events and keep track of them; managers can also share their calendars, and help subordinates organize their own schedules more effectively as well.
Cloud connectivity and mobile computing also helps synchronize your calendar across all of your devices, so that you always know what the next scheduled event is, too. New programs also make it much easier for companies to more effectively – and efficiently – track billable time when performing a service for their clients, taking yet another burden off of managers.
Monitor the Situation
Technology has also enhanced managers’ capacity to maintain situational awareness of their companies’ status, regardless of where they are.
Software makes it easier than ever to track total sales, spot trends, and view up-to-date financial information. Automated systems also make it simple for managers to receive rapid feedback from clients on their products as well.
Global positioning technology makes real-time management of your company’s vehicles, employees, or shipments easier than ever, too.
Finally, Internet accessible cameras, sensors, and controls can even allow managers to observe their business. Wherever they are at to stay aware of environmental conditions on-site. It can also help them make adjustments to things like thermostats from remote locations.
Never Stop Learning
As a manager, business owner or entrepreneur, it can be difficult to find time to improve yourself. If you’re a sole proprietor, it’s hard to take time off to attend a business class.
Fortunately, it is easier than ever to leverage technology to educate yourself and gain new skills. Internet-enabled devices make it simple to connect to thousands of online classes. Now you can bring the class to wherever you’re at. You can often take online courses to get critical certifications you need to operate your business as well.
Finally, access to information, both free and through subscription services like Lexus-Nexus, can allow you to increase your knowledge on whatever subject you think is important as well.
Leadership is arguably the most critical component of any business, big or small. Technology offers today’s managers a myriad of tools that, if used correctly, can help them be more effective.
Technology can help managers communicate and collaborate with their teams. I’ve also found it increases their situational awareness, oversee their employees, and manage time more effectively. It can even help them learn new skills. Managers who leverage technology effectively can gain competitive advantages over rivals, and increase their companies’ success and profitability.
So take the time to research and understand existing and emergent technologies, and put them to work for you today.