Tough times and tech solutions

When the going gets tough, business leaders need to motivate and lead their teams to success. We cannot offer huge financial rewards when sales are slower, so we need to focus on other forms of motivation.

There are lots of ways to motivate people other than direct financial rewards. As a reformed nerd, I lean towards IT and the digital age for tools that can be used for team motivation.

In tough times communities pull together, and these days communities are forming in the cloud with web 2.0 technologies. This is offering us tools that can, if used intelligently in business, aid the development of internal and external communities in teams as small as two or three people. I use the term “team” loosely here, as it may be that people are part of multiple teams in small companies, but the concept is the same.

Communities can extend to clients or test groups or others – I will leave this to your imagination. The important concept here is strong communication using community based tools that build stronger relationships that transcend depressing external influences.

Think about using intranets, wikis, online learning, telecommuting and other digitally enabled products to enhance the employee experience and improve and enhance the work environment. Get people tuned in to Facebook or LinkedIn groups, send broadcasts via Twitter to get more buy-in from your communities. You will find me on Twitter as you will find SmartCompany working on expanded and improved communities.

Staff who are engaged in communities are less likely to feel isolated and thus derive more satisfaction from their work. This can include new methods of encouraging innovation or sharing of knowledge to improve speed of resolution.

We have wikis for our marketing department and their projects as well as for our technical solutions team for their projects and solutions. These tools are improving our communities but they are also improving our efficiency and productivity.

If these tools are too new for you as the company leader, it may be time to lean on your Gen-Y team members for ideas on how to improve the digital communities within your business. There is clearly a trend towards these technologies in the downturn we are experiencing. One of the biggest motivators for the adoption of many of these technologies is the very low cost of entry.

Finally, we should all spare a thought for the businesses affected by the bushfires. I have been delighted by the action of the Australian Information Industry Association which has set up a web page to allow businesses to provide their part of an IT solution.

At times like this, there are community organisations that require systems as well as businesses that have had their entire IT infrastructure destroyed in their burned out offices. Literally hundreds of computers are needed and the expertise to connect them up and make them useful.

AIIA has taken the initiative to create a web site that lets companies register to provide any part of the equipment or services required. This is a great example of how modern technology can reduce the amount of administrative effort required to provide fast services in times of great need.



David Markus is the founder of Melbourne’s IT services company Combo. His focus is on big picture thinking to create value in IT systems for the SME sector.

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