4 Tech Solutions That Are Also Problems When Managing Employees Technology allows us to work all the time from everywhere and that creates leadership challenges often solved with more technology.
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Jane has always tried to be a manager who embraces the new ideas instead of relying on the "way it's always been done." She typically feels technology is her saving grace when it comes to balancing her day-to-day tasks with staying informed about what her employees are completing.
Although technology makes managers more accessible to their employees and team members, a November 2014 study by Accenture found that among leaders surveyed, 55 percent battle information overload, while 52 percent said that keeping up with technology is a top challenge.
Here are four common technology problems that managers need to solve to effectively manage their employees:
Problem: Reluctance to disconnect from work at the end of the day.
The convenience of advancing technology is making it harder to completely cut off from work at the end of the day. Jane often finds it difficult to stop looking at her emails because of how easy it is to check them on her phone.
In September 2014, Cornerstone OnDemand found that 68 percent of U.S. employees surveyed are suffering from work overload. Sixteen percent of those employees feel the work overload is directly related to technology. While technology does add a level of convenience, learning to disconnect from work is a necessity.
Solution: Encourage employees to set a specific time that phones will automatically stop sending push notifications for work emails. Long work hours may help an employee get their work done, but a strong work-life balance will allow them to perform their job to the best of their ability.
In December 2014, Germany even considered making it illegal for employers to send employees emails outside of regular work hours to help maintain a healthy work-life balance. While the movement doesn't seem to be gaining force, there is value in businesses regulating how long their employees should be working.
For employees who are self-proclaimed workaholics, apps like Enforced Vacation allow employers to stop employees from receiving work email outside of work hours.
Related: Know Your Limits, Your Brain Can Only Take So Much
Problem: Building a cohesive team with remote employees.
Jane has several staff members who work completely from home that also need to work with people who are in her office. One problem she faces is the employees who work in the office would prefer to have most work conversations done in person.
They are not the only ones who feel this way. Cornerstone OnDemand's study found 63 percent of employees surveyed prefer in-person collaboration.
Jane has come to rely on project management software to delegate responsibilities to members of her remote staff. However, even with excellent project management software, sometimes there is still no replacement for quality face-to-face collaboration.
Solution: Use software like Google Hangouts to video chat with employees, no matter where they are located. This will allow the employees in the office to communicate clearly "face-to-face" with the remote members of the company's staff.
Problem: Technology is rapidly changing.
Cornerstone OnDemand also discovered 66 percent of employees surveyed are willing to wear wearable tech if it helps them perform their job better. As the release of the Apple Watch approaches, it can be expected more people will be sporting the latest wearable technology in the office.
Not every employee is going to consider purchasing wearable technology or want to upgrade their cell phone when the newest model hits the market. For the interested employees, working at a company that embraces technology enabling employees to perform their job better is going to promote a fully engaged work environment.
Solution: Consider what new technology will actually help employees succeed rather than impede them. However, do not require the entire office to update with technology the second it comes out.
Provide opportunities for employees to openly discuss the advantages of their newest tech purchases to evaluate the value to the company. Managers will not only learn about the latest technology, but also create a dialogue with employees about bettering the business.
Problem: Employees are less engaged than managers want.
Jane has noticed that while her employees show up to work consistently and are adequately performing their job requirements, she doesn't feel they are truly invested in the success of the company. In September 2013, Harvard Business Review surveyed 568 senior-level executives and found 70 percent of employees said having a clear understanding of how their job contributes to the overall company strategy impacts their engagement.
Solution: Use software like SpeakUp as a proactive approach to seek employee suggestions and help increase morale around the office.
The app allows employees to quickly collaborate and suggest ideas with co-workers while working on projects independently. Additionally, it provides a way for employees to cut down the time it takes to pitch new ideas to their employers.