Email offers a lot of benefits. It's quick, accessible, and can save a lot of time that would be spent on back-and-forth phone calls or in-person meetings. The problem is that email is overused and misused; the resulting email overload can quickly eliminate all the time saved and cause productivity to plummet.
To benefit from email and keep it from becoming a burden, follow these six principles.
Always Filter Not all email needs a response, or even a glance; if it's all flooding into your inbox, however, you have to view, decide, and act on every single email, even if that action is just to delete or archive the message. Use filters to set concrete limits on what even makes it into your inbox. For reference-only emails, such as bank statements, set up filters to send the emails to an appropriate folder. For those emails you don't want but can't avoid, like Aunt Judy's weekly update and your boss's endless CCs, se t up a filter and a folder.
Reduce the Inflow Unsubscribing takes a moment or two and can clear a lot of unnecessary clutter from your email life. Use a tool such as unroll.me to make it even simpler. There's no need for you to keep sorting through the digital equivalent of junk mail. Say no to email notifications from apps and social media; you're going to check in on your social accounts anyway. There's no point in receiving an email about it, too.
Once your inspiration system is up and running, having plenty of ideas will not be a problem. Now you simply need to have the right processes in place to handle the ideas.
Screening To decide if an idea is right for development, you need a screening process. Base it on specific criteria, not a subjective feel. Having a "gut instinct" about an idea isn't good enough unless you're Warren Buffet.
When you've pulled a list of potential ideas from your inspiration system, or your last team meeting, or your employee suggestion box, put them next to the criteria you have in place. Some will fit. Some won't.
Decision The options for a decisions are few: for each idea, you can hold it, get rid of it, or move forward with it.
Ideas that don't pass the initial screening are automatically eliminated. The others? Well, you only have so much time, attention, and resources to put into idea development.
Which of the screened ideas fit best with the current priorities, interests, and capabilities your business has? Choose the best fits for moving forward. Mark the rest for holding and toss them into storage.
Lori Kleiman is a Chicago based business expert and author with more than 25 years of experience advising companies on HR issues. Lori has a master’s degree in human resources, has been certified as Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) by the HR Certification Institute and is a member of the National Speakers Association.
Telecommuting and remote work remains a hotly debated topic with high profile supported and defectors alike. How do you personally see this trend develop? Have we hit peak ‘telecommuting’ or will the remote workforce keep growing significantly for the foreseeable future?
LK: I believe that flexible work schedules are essential, but full scale telecommuting can be difficult to maintain. There is no doubt that there is a loss of camaraderie and teamwork with workforces that do not interact on a regular basis. I recommend organizations use telecommuting for those that have earned the trust on an occasional basis as employee needs warrant.
Coming up with great ideas seems like an easy task, until you sit down and stare at the blank screen. Set up your own inspiration system so you have a deep pool of ideas to draw from, anytime you need them.
Identify Your Inspiration Sources They might not be what you think they are.
Spend a week or two noticing when you get ideas. When does inspiration strike? Backtrack from that moment until you find the ignition for the spark.
You can put unproductive people into great systems, but you can't make them work the systems.
Organizational productivity and personal time management really can't be separated. Efficient, well-designed systems still fail due to user error. Lack of user motivation is a common error.
To get better organizational productivity, think smaller. Think one at a time. Think about the individual. Encourage better time management skills on a personal level. Then you can spend money on improving systems and it will actually be money well-spent.
Provide One-on-One Encouragement As the team lead, you probably already know who's got this time management thing down and who struggles to stay focused. Everyone struggles with distraction and focus. Give verbal encouragement to your team members for the small wins and the big wins. Help your team members feel motivated to put forth their best effort. Do your best to notice, and praise, their attempts and successes at better time use and greater productivity.
Most likely you already know about built-in telephony that Bitrix24 comes with. Many of our clients use Bitrix24 as their virtual call center but even more couldn’t, because we did not support local telephony in their countries.
That changed yesterday. We’ve just expanded the list of countries where you can rent a local phone number and call at local rates from 4 to 43. We’ve also dropped the price for renting a phone number from $25 to $6 a month ($11 in some locations).
What is the number one problem for communications inside companies in your experience?
MA: The number one communication problem within companies is the sheer volume of it. There are so many channels of communication (phone, text, email, conference calls, chats, etc) that people are inundated with messages. Prioritizing and acting on this communication is hectic, sporadic, and at the worst, chaotic.
Many customers, rooted in their own favorite methods or solutions, struggle to be open to new or different ideas. Take heart; fear isn't the end of the story. Use these techniques to overcome that initial resistance so your customers see the potential in those new ideas.
General or Specific Resistance Your first challenge is to discover - without being pushy or condescending - if the resistance is general or specific. A generic resistance of the unfamiliar needs a gentle approach. You don't dismantle generalized fear by criticizing it, but by making the unknown more familiar. However, if there are specific questions creating resistance, you need to take a more direct approach. Dig those questions out and address them directly, though not aggressively, to remove the reasons for fear.
As you know, Bitrix24 is the cheapest telemarketing and unified communications software in the world (it’s hard to beat free software that charges you only for outgoing calls, phone number rental or connector to your own PBX). When we added ability to make phone calls from browsers over a year ago, one of the reasons was to give you a way to forego a necessity of buying VoIP phone sets, which tend to be quite pricey, typically $100-$300 per set.
But old habits die hard, and many of you seasonal sales professionals seem to attached to those physical phone sets sitting on your desks. Due to popular requests we’ve added SIP phone support and you can now use them when making and receiving calls to/from Bitrix24.
To make it clear, you will still have access to all Bitrix24 telephony and CRM features when you use SIP phones. You’ll see your client or prospect information on your computer screen when talking to them, all calls will be logged, recorded (if you’ve enabled the option) and attached to CRM records, you’ll be able to transfer phone calls and use internal extensions.
Today we are happy to announce that the much-requested option to share your screen during video calls is now out of beta. In order to enable screen sharing, you need to make sure that you have the latest version of the desktop app installed. Please note that currently you can show your desktop only during 1-on-1 video calls, but we do plan to add this option to video conferences with more than two participants later.
What is the number one problem for communications inside companies in your experience?
EB: Absence of constructive criticism. People who manage by fear are often abusive in their application of criticism. In adversarial management, criticism is a tool for bullying. The cooperative manager uses constructive criticism: criticism that encourages you to correct the mistake without insulting or offending. Sometimes criticism is called for, but if it is delivered in an objective, affirming, and kind way, it will make the employee want to do better in the future, not feel shame about his mistakes.
We've added an ability to upload documents to Bitrix24 from external drives, such as OneDrive, Dropbox, Box and Google Drive (more on the way). To do that, simply choose “Download from external drive”:
To build a strong team, there are three key ingredients that can inspire unity and increase creativity and productivity.
Recognition is one of the simplest, easiest ways to encourage your employees. And employee encouragement is essential. People want to know that they are appreciated and that their work matters. You can give them that encouragement with a few well-chosen words or a sincere compliment.
You can also build more formal ways to recognize employees. Upon project completion, recognize individual and team contributions. Or set up regular (monthly or quarterly) achievement awards, work rewards, and levels for employees to reach individually or as a team. It's the daily gamification of your workplace, and it increases individual engagement as well as team motivation .
If you don't have regular recognition built into your leadership style, you're getting much less from your team than you could be. Start with simply speaking - out loud - the times when you notice effort, creativity, a good idea, initiative, or any other behavior you want to encourage. Then begin building recognition systematically with scheduled one-on-one meetings, team achievement awards, and gamification programs that make recognizing good work a regular part of the way you do business.