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Mr. CEO on Staff Productivity (Part I): How Productive is Your Staff?

 

staff productivityHowdy, folks! Mr. CEO here. Nice to meet you! I'm going to be offering my expertise in…well, all the things I'm an expert at. Um…inOn? (Okay, fine! Grammar isn't one of them! Give me a second to Google…)

Okay. Let's try this again. I'm going to be offering my expertise in all of the areas in which I'm an expert! Ha! Take that, grammerians!

What? Really? Gramarians? (One second, please…)

Grammarians!

Ahem.

Today's topic is the first in a series on productivity. How productive is your staff? What's keeping them from being as productive as possible? How can you enable them to be more productive? Hopefully, we'll answer some of your questions with this series of posts. Today we're going to focus on one of the obstacles to productivity and what you can do to overcome it.

Social Media

Did I just hear some chairs creaking due to some uncomfortable seat-shifting? After all, who hasn't been guilty of spending too much time on social media at some point?

This one can be tricky. There was a time when you could just block employee access to these sites on your company's network. I'm not saying that's what you should have been doing; I'm just pointing out that it was an option.

Though you can still choose to go this route, it's effectively useless, thanks to the explosion of social media's popularity on mobile devices. Do you want to be the employer who outlaws cell phone usage at his business? Or sneaks up on people to see if they're using their phone or tablet to log in to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram? I didn't think so.

So what's the answer? Here's my suggestion: Rather than issue forth unenforceable policies regarding social media, focus on specific productivity goals and deadlines. If your employees know that there's a hard deadline for a specific task -- and there are consequences for missing said deadline -- they're more likely to self-regulate their time on social media. If they're not, then -- to put it bluntly -- you've probably hired the wrong person. Daniel Newman says it best in his post, Quit Blaming Social Media for Lost Workplace Productivity:

"Employees that want to waste time and have access to social media will use it. Take it away and they will waste their time somewhere else."

Have you had staff productivity issues due to the overuse and/or abuse of social media? Please share in the comments of your favorite Atlanta IT services blog! (That's us!)

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Image credit: Pearson K-12 Technology

3 Leadership Strategies That Can Transform Your Company

 

leadership strategiesAt some point in your life, you've probably had a supervisor who was -- to put it kindly -- less than effective. Their failure to lead could have been due to any number of things: indecisiveness, incompetence, inexperience, foul temperament, poor work ethic...the list goes on and on. Whatever the specifics on their leadership shortcomings, being in their employ probably left a strong impression, and not of the favorable kind.

It's easy to see the flaws in the leadership of others, particularly when it impacts us directly. When we find ourselves in a position of leadership, it's important to recognize those flaws so that we don't emulate them. However, in our quest to become better leaders, the
avoidance of poor leadership traits isn't enough; we must passionately and relentlessly pursue the traits we want to define us as leaders. In other words, it's not enough to say, "I don't want to be this kind of leader." It's imperative that we decide what kind of leaders we do want to be, so that we have goals for which to strive.

With that in mind, your Atlanta IT services company is here to talk about three leadership strategies you can apply to become the kind of leader you -- and, ultimately, your employees -- can be proud of.

1. Inspire by Example

When it comes to how you want your employees to conduct themselves, no handbook, video, or presentation can speak to your employees as effectively as your own behavior. You are the walking, talking, breathing embodiment of your leadership style. You can drone on all day long about how much you value a strong work ethic, but if you spend half your working hours at the golf course, do you really expect anyone to take you seriously? Be a positive case study for the application of your own advice.

2. Encourage Contrary Opinions

The best leaders don't surround themselves with "yes" men. They value different -- and even opposing -- points of view. Abraham Lincoln is one famous example of someone who took this to heart. In the book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, author Doris Kearns Goodwin chronicles Lincoln's efforts to recruit political rivals for his Cabinet. The 16th President of the United States was onto something. He knew that the input of those who thought differently than himself could prove invaluable. Opposing viewpoints provide a clearer, more complete picture of the problems we face and can offer additional insight into how to solve them. Great leaders are able to put their pride on the back burner in the service of the people they're leading.

3. Reward Innovative Thinking

In some office environments, employees are reluctant to bring ideas to management for fear they won't be well-received. In other words, they work in a culture that discourages innovation. This approach couldn't be more wrong-headed. Employees should be encouraged to brainstorm ideas and to present them to management, and they should be rewarded for doing so. Whether it's an idea for a new process or program or a tweak to an existing one, it could be the very idea that completely transforms your company.

Of course, not every idea is going to be a game-changer. Some may be slightly helpful; others may be outright stinkers and never make it past the first pitch. But you'll never know if it's not submitted in the first place, will you? Offer incentives to employees for innovative ideas. Once it's been established that innovation is both valued and rewarded, the creativity and ingenuity of your workforce can truly begin to flourish.

What are ways that you've utilized these leadership strategies in your office? Please share them in the comments!

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Image credit: Ken Teegardin 

Managed IT Services vs. DIY: Lies People Tell Themselves About IT

 

managed it servicesThe scenario can differ slightly from office to office. Sometimes, the powers that be decide that somebody in the office who’s “good with computers” can provide your company's IT:

“Nah, we don’t need to pay anybody who can take care of our IT. Erica can take care of it for us.”

Sometimes it’s a well-meaning employee who bites off more than he can chew:

“If I run into something that’s beyond my admittedly limited skill set, I’ll just Google it!”

Are either of these scenarios familiar to you? Perhaps they’ve occurred in your office. Perhaps you’ve even been one of these people. For whatever reason, expert IT is something that sometimes gets tossed by the wayside. With that in mind, your favorite Atlanta IT services provider is here with a few lies that people tell themselves about IT.

“I’ll save money by doing it myself.”

Your heart is in the right place. You’re trying to save your business money, which means you're a conscientious steward of resources. However, you’ve made that most common of mistakes: You’ve mistaken “cost” for “value.” Something can seem to be low-cost, but actually have very little value.

What good is paying $0/month for managed IT services if at some point you have to pay somebody on a contract basis to come in and fix a mess? An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure… or in IT terms, paying a little per month for managed services beats the heck out of paying a whole lot later on to troubleshoot something. This is even more true if you’ve lost valuable data because you decided not to pay an expert. Reliable IT is an investment, not a luxury.

“I’ll save time if we keep our IT in-house.”

This is really just a variation of the “saving money” argument. Why take the time to compare IT providers, question them about their services, and get the best managed services pricing for your company when you can just “wing it” on your own? After all, Erica is one floor up, so there's no wait on a response!

Exactly whose time are you saving? Not your own. When you run into the inevitable issue that’s beyond the expertise of your office’s “computer person” researching the problem is going to take valuable time away from the other projects he/she is working on. You’re no longer paying your employee to do what you hired her to do; you’re paying her (presumably a decent wage) to perform a task for which she’s quite likely underqualified.

You're not saving your customer’s time, either. Their project is now on hold and at the mercy of whatever IT issue you're facing.

“It can’t be that complicated.”

Once upon a time, back in the days when “java” was just another word for coffee and “network” referred to what TV station your favorite show was on, being a technological jack-of-all-trades was more doable. In today’s world, it’s just not feasible to be an expert at everything you need to be to handle any and every tech issue that can arise. IT issues can be pretty darn complicated, so it makes a lot of sense for your company to entrust its IT to a company that knows its stuff.

Think about it. Plumbing issue? You call a plumber. Electrical issue? You call an electrician. If you rely on professionals for these tasks, why wouldn't you do the same for something that can make or break your business?

Do you have any amusing – or horrific – stories about things that have happened when you decided to DIY it instead of going the managed IT services route? Please share them with us in the comments!

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Image credit: Quinn Dombrowski

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