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Management Efficiency Through Your Computer

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Nothing is enhancing the efficiency of businesses
today more than the fast-paced technology present in workplaces
everywhere. Your challenge as a modern leader is to creatively
use this technology to guide, coordinate, inspire, coach and monitor
the work of your employees.

Depending on the size of your company and the
number and responsibilities of your employees, you may be able
to take advantage of some of the following "on-line"
possibilities.

  • Communicate:
    E-mail is a fast, efficient and inexpensive communications tool.
    Use it to ask questions, make suggestions and comment on performance.
    If you have a laptop computer, you can send and receive e-mail
    from any location – a great tool if you or your employees travel
    a lot.
  • Make announcements:
    Why send paper or fax memoranda to long lists of people when you
    can produce electronic distribution lists and create memos on-line?
    Electronic lists are cheaper and allow you to get information
    into the hands of other people faster.
  • Supervise:
    During face-to-face supervisory discussions, you can pose questions
    about an employee’s performance, problems for discussion and hypothetical
    dilemmas. Using your electronic tools, pose probing questions
    on-line and elicit the perceptions and ideas of your employees.
  • Monitor:
    Use your network or file transfer facility to review the written
    work and communications of employees. Insert your own comments
    where appropriate.
  • Gather and distribute reports:
    When you must disseminate documents, it can be done on-line. When
    you want your employees to provide weekly, monthly or other periodic
    reports, it can also be done this way.
  • Plan and schedule:
    Place appointment calendars, daily task lists and travel plans
    on-line. You and your employees can then review what everyone
    else is doing and where they’re going. You can easily use this
    information to pinpoint meeting dates and times.
  • Store policies and procedures:
    Why not place your entire manual (if you have one) and other reference
    materials on-line and allow your employees to consult it whenever
    questions arise? Even if everyone of your employees does not use
    a computer at work, many of them have personal computers at home
    and could access this information through the Internet. You’ll
    save paper and time.
  • Gather opinion and views:
    Can’t have a staff meeting? No problem. Ask for advice in the
    form of a simple on-line survey or questionnaire. Or post a series
    of discussion topics and ask for the insights of your employees.
  • Disseminate financial data:
    Today you have the capability to store budgets, fiscal performance
    reports, spreadsheets and other fiscal material on-line and allow
    your employees to retrieve them as needed. No more telephone calls,
    file searches and wasted time. If you have a network or intranet,
    all the better. You can store almost any kind of business document
    or database here, and allow for instant retrieval.
  • Follow-up:
    Using your electronic tickler system, enter all major deadlines
    and employee benchmarks. Generate follow-up queries whenever significant
    dates come up. This is a great way to monitor progress toward
    objectives.
  • Process routine forms:
    If you solicit forms from your employees, e.g., lead projections,
    fiscal goals, purchase requests, etc., create electronic versions
    of those forms and ask that they be completed on-line.
  • Post messages:
    Use your electronic bulletin board just as you’d use a traditional
    bulletin board and post and review messages for, and from, your
    staff. Better yet, using this electronic board, post interesting
    facts or synopses of articles you’ve read.
  • Stage conferences:
    Schedule a period of time when your employees can log onto their
    computers for an electronic discussion. No, you can’t see their
    faces (technology doesn’t give most on-line business leaders this
    capability yet) but you can have a dynamic discussion on almost
    any issue in real time, even if your people are miles apart.
  • Brainstorm:
    You can run on-line brainstorming sessions in real time or in
    time-delay mode. Encourage participants to post their ideas on
    a theme or reactions to an issue (say, to an electronic "white
    paper") and then seek reactions and clarification.
  • Publish articles:
    One of the roles of an effective leader is to comment on company
    or business trends. Consider publishing "letters to the editor"
    or formal articles for your favorite professional journal. But
    do so in their on-line editions – or at the very least, make the
    material available to the people around you on-line.
  • Discuss issues:
    Start and moderate a discussion group, which might consist of
    your own employees or colleagues from your industry or trade association.
    Use the group to share your expertise and channel ideas and suggestions
    on topics of mutual interest.
  • Train:
    Yes, you can even run your own training programs on-line. Some
    examples include offering curriculum outlines, electronic exhibits
    and electronic reprints of educational material. If you can’t
    develop your own on-line training material, you can use technology
    to establish electronic links to training materials offered by
    other companies, educational institutions or journals.
  • Inspire:
    Start by posting your own personal home page. Explain your business
    philosophy, goals, standards and other information that your employees
    might be curious about. Establish electronic links between this
    page and other sites important to you, and let your employees
    follow them.

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Using your own creativity, you can magnify
the impact of technology on your leadership abilities, and ultimately
use technology to move your company toward progressively higher
levels of success. Even if you don’t have a well-developed computer
network or intranet, you can still exchange information and data
using electronic file transfer technology or diskettes.

Technology impacts leaders of almost every
business today, large and small. The question is not whether you’ll
exercise on-line leadership, but how you’ll exercise this important
function. Answer that question today and you’ll prepare yourself
for the emerging leadership challenges of tomorrow.

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