Strengths-Based Development Can Take Your Business to New Heights

red dumbbells pattern on teal background

Imagine that you are a kid again, and you get low marks on a test in school. The natural response from your parents and teachers is that you need to double down on studying for that subject, as it is clear that you struggle with it. The same can be said for any professional shortcomings, such as public speaking, interpersonal communication, and other performance-based skills. But what if we flipped this concept on its head and focused not on our deficits but instead where our strengths lie?

This concept is called “strengths-based development,” which has gained a lot of traction in recent years. A study reported by Gallup in 2018 found that businesses involved in the study who embraced this strengths-based approach enjoyed several benefits. This study examined 49,495 businesses, 1.2 million employees, and 22 organizations, all of which fell into seven industries across 45 countries. The participants were split into workgroups, one of which received strengths-based development interventions while the other acted as a control group.

As reported by Gallup, “Ninety percent of the workgroups studied had performance increases at or above the following ranges: 10 percent to 19 percent increased sales, 14 percent to 29 percent increased profit, 3 percent to 7 percent higher customer engagement, 6 percent to 16 percent lower turnover (low-turnover organizations), 26 percent to 72 percent lower turnover (high-turnover organizations), 9 percent to 15 percent increase in engaged employees, 22 percent to 59 percent fewer safety incidents.”

When you think about it, this makes sense. When people do what they are good at, it just feels good, and they are more likely to succeed and stick around to see the benefits of their work. Gallup expands on these numbers a bit by claiming that 67 percent of respondents who felt that managers focused on their strengths were much more engaged with their work. On the flip side of this statement, only two percent of employees who felt their strengths were not utilized were engaged with their work. You can see how strengths-based development can pay off in spades.

But what happens if you need a role fulfilled but do not have any internal talent to tap for it?

More organizations are outsourcing services to external talent than ever before. While it might not immediately feel great to admit that you do not have the talent to handle something, there is absolutely no shame in relying on trusted experts to handle certain aspects of your organization’s operations. One area that is often outsourced due to hiring a dedicated staff is IT management and maintenance. While you theoretically could have your employees manage their own technology, this can be counterproductive and frustrating for those who do not have strengths in this field.

On the other hand, managed IT is a great way to let your employees focus on their own personal strengths. Since they don’t have to worry about their technology solutions, they can instead focus on innovative new initiatives that they wouldn’t otherwise have time for. 4 Corner IT is happy to provide businesses like yours with managed IT services so that you can take a hands-off approach with your organization’s technology.

To learn more, reach out to us at (954) 474-2204.

How to Make the Most of Your Business’ Communications

team at work gathered around a table facing each other talking with papers and laptops on the table

Business communications have seen some significant changes, particularly with recent events being what they have been. Instead of your team members having the opportunity to simply turn to one another in the office, there are now added hoops that they must jump through. Let’s go into how your internal and external communication practices should adjust to meet these changes.

What Challenges Has the Hybridized Workplace Introduced?

Let’s consider the options that your team members had to communicate when they were all in the same centralized location, whether they were conversing with your clientele or within their own ranks. In addition to the digitized methods that first come to mind when discussing business communications, your team members could also take advantage of their proximity to one another to have face-to-face conversations.

Once remote work was so suddenly implemented en masse, this final approach was suddenly removed from the situation. This resulted in many companies struggling to pick up the slack with their other solutions.

Ultimately, communications suffered for many, but as time has passed, the situation has improved again. Let’s share a few best practices that have been successfully implemented by many in the attempt to reinforce their internal and external communications.

Internal Communication Practices

  • Lead by Example: When trying to encourage internal communication practices, a company’s leadership needs to walk the walk in addition to talking the talk. Getting your message across—in terms of the importance of consistent and comprehensive communication—will become much simpler if you set the precedent and encourage managers at all levels to do the same.
  • Personalization: Particularly while you’re communicating with your internal team, feel free to ditch the pomp, circumstance, and business-friendly language. In order for remote communications to have the effect they should between teammates, they need to be concise, to-the-point, and clear while also remaining relatable. Don’t be afraid to share details from your own life. Video conferencing helps to reintroduce the concept of in-person meetings and the casual nature that many meetings can take, and setting aside a channel for off-topic conversations can help too.
  • Switch It Up: Be honest… how many email threads have you subscribed to that you now just skim over, if not ignore entirely? While consistency is good in these kinds of messages, it can potentially also lead to messages being overlooked. Don’t be afraid to make use of all of your different tools and capabilities to keep your team primed and fresh.

External Communication Practices

  • Keep Your Contacts Updated: It’s one thing to have the capability to communicate with the members of your business’ audience and customer base. It’s quite another to utilize this capability. By prioritizing proactive communication with these tools, you can benefit from the improved awareness of your services that your customers will have after receiving your communications.
  • Emphasize With Current Issues: Regardless of your industry, your clientele are not a monolith—an issue that impacts one could very well have no influence on another. A key aspect of your interactions with them is to listen to these concerns and express that you hear them and are there to help.
  • Speak Directly Whenever Possible: If you’re trying to build up the trust that your clients and prospects have in you, it helps to communicate with them as directly as possible, so that they can hear your voice. With automation being implemented more and more, this kind of direct relationship makes an impact and helps to encourage greater communications.

4Corner IT is here to help you collaborate with your teammates and communicate with your business contacts through the IT solutions and services we provide. Find out more about what we have to offer by calling (954) 474-2204 today.

How to Implement a Successful IT Risk Assessment

successful it

More and more companies are relying on the web, not only to be their premier source of customer interaction but also to carry out cloud-related tasks and functions associated with running their business. When a company is able to securely run their business, both management and production employees can focus on doing what they do best — ensuring the success of business operations. In this article, we will outline 8 steps businesses can follow to assess the level of risk associated with their current IT operations.

Thoroughly Define Vulnerabilities

Gone are the days when installing a good antivirus program on their computers meant that a company was protected from all threats. While companies should still require this, of course, there are many more areas of vulnerability. Assessing risk means defining all potential vulnerabilities such as fire, a natural disaster, theft, ransomware, phishing attempts, and more, in some instances. Anything that can compromise employee productivity, or negatively affect a company’s ability to adhere to compliance rules has the potential to be disruptive.

Communication is Key

As with any other successful project, communication is a key component to ensuring a successful risk assessment outcome.  When key players understand why they are being called to evaluate risk in their areas of function, they will be more successful in identifying areas that could pose a problem. When those players do report their findings, it’s just as important for those in charge of the risk assessment project to clarify any unclear points, so they have a clear understanding of the potential issues.

Data Collection

Both hardware and software must be evaluated to look for weaknesses. Operational data such as accounts receivable and payable, HR data, business forecasting, company salaries, etc. is also an asset. Any risks along the pipeline of handling this type of data should be evaluated as well.

Analyzing Risk

Once all potential points of risk are gathered and thoroughly understood, the next step is to analyze each potential risk.  The areas most vulnerable, the likelihood of some type of attack or interruption in operations, and the ramifications of such an event occur, should all be evaluated and categorized.

Make Recommendations, Then Review 

Those in charge of the risk assessment will also likely be the ones to make recommendations to address each security concern. As part of the process, department heads should have an opportunity to review the recommendations made by the risk assessment team and provide feedback. Once plans are solidified, each department can develop a strategy to address each of the security issues related to their specific function.

Implementation

Once everyone is on board with the solutions that address each point in the risk assessment project, it’s time to implement the solutions. Some departments may institute their solutions fairly quickly. Others may require more time to fully address complex functions. If roadblocks occur, feedback should be given to the risk assessment team so they can research and provide alternative solutions.

Mitigating Risk 

It’s not always possible to completely eliminate all risks when dealing with IT infrastructure, software, or data. Still, companies can achieve the goal of risk mitigation when they know they’ve done everything possible to reduce the potential of an adverse event. To help accomplish this goal, department heads should set specific benchmarks along the way, making sure they are meeting their own expectations of progress, as well as the expectations of upper management. 

Maintenance 

The only constant regarding information technology is that it is always changing. The same needs to be said about risk assessment. While putting solutions in place to deter security threats is the goal of risk assessment, the process must be regularly evaluated. New hardware or software can require changes in the way employees perform their functions, and the hardware or software itself can open up a security risk that did not exist previously. Early on, simple modifications may be sufficient to address changes. However, a full risk re-assessment is ideally performed on average, about every two years.

If you would like to know more about how to develop and implement an IT risk assessment plan, please contact us!

Late With a Coronavirus Readiness Plan? Here’s What You Can Do

late with a coronavirus readiness plan here what you can do

As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads to more cities across the country, you may begin to worry that you have not done enough to prepare for an outbreak in your community. If you have found yourself wondering how you can protect your staff, or what you would do if social distancing measures forced you to work remotely, you are not alone. However, it is never too late to create a coronavirus readiness plan for your business.

To make sure that your company is not caught by surprise, here are just a few of the steps that you can take to prepare for the spread of coronavirus. 

Stay Informed

In order to make sure that your business is prepared for, and your employees are protected against, the potential spread of coronavirus, it is important that you stay informed about the latest news and guidelines relating to the virus and social distancing protocols. The CDC has a lot of resources available on their website that can help you to learn more about how the coronavirus spreads, and what you should do to keep your staff safe in the coming weeks.

The CDC also has special resources available for businesses that can help you to learn more about ways to keep your office clean and your employees healthy as the coronavirus spreads. It is also important that you listen to local, state, and federal recommendations on how businesses should respond to the coronavirus, which may include limiting company functions and implementing social distancing.  

Communicate With Staff  

Of course, your primary defense against the spread of illness in the office is your staff, which is why it is important that you keep your staff informed on the latest information regarding coronavirus developments and protection. You should also consider messaging staff to remind them to do their part to maintain a healthy work environment by washing their hands frequently, getting enough sleep, and keeping their distance from others when possible. It is also more critical than ever that you encourage sick employees to stay home and that you consider allowing sick employees to work from home for a while once they have recovered.  

Create a Remote Work Plan

If more strict social distancing protocols are implemented in your community, you may find that you and your staff are required to shelter-in-place. In order to ensure that you are able to maintain productivity should this happen, it is important that you develop an effective remote work plan that will make it as simple as possible for your staff to work from home. It is important that you think about whether your employees have the necessary tools to work from home, and whether your employees have the ability to easily access business solutions and systems remotely if need be.

You do not want to find out that your staff cannot, or do not know how to, access and complete their work should they be forced to work from home. Consider surveying employees to find out if they have the adequate tools and equipment to work from home, and make plans to help those who do not feel ready to prepare for the possibility of telecommuting. It is also important to assess what jobs can easily be done from home, what positions may need tweaking to accommodate remote work, and if there are any essential jobs that cannot be done remotely.   

Invest in Telecommuting Technology

In addition to making sure that your staff is ready to work from home, you will also want to make sure that your company has the right technology and business solutions to support remote work. You will need to make sure that you set up the right collaboration tools such as internal communications programs or secure Wi-Fi networks and access points to allow for remote work. Make sure that your staff has access to, and knows how to use, collaborative software such as Office 365 or Google’s G Suite, as this can be essential in allowing for successful remote collaboration. 

Once you know what needs to be done to prepare your company for a coronavirus outbreak, you can create an action plan specific to your business that will ensure that you are ready for anything that may happen in the coming weeks.

Contact us to learn more about solutions that can help your business to prepare for potential social distancing measures and remote work. 

Microsoft Teams Adds New Functionality in 2019

microsoft teams adds new functionality in 2019
Microsoft Teams

As we settle into the new year, many companies are beginning to roll out updates and upgrades to their tools and systems. Microsoft is no exception. Microsoft continues to add value to the Microsoft Teams tool with new functions and capabilities. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

Communication

Effective communication within a business requires tools and products that can work together seamlessly. Teams is adding the new functionality of Teams Rooms and Teams-Only mode to further streamline Teams communication elements. Teams Rooms is basically a re-brand of the Skype rooms system with the added functionality of proximity detection so that nearby rooms can be added if needed. Teams-Only mode allows companies to make a seamless switch from Skype for Business to Teams by enabling Teams as the primary communication tool for their organization. IT Administrators will have the capability to upgrade only select people to Teams Only or enable an entire organization or group.

IT Administration

Teams is rolling out some new tools for IT administration of Teams. In order to help an organization run smoothly, the IT administration needs to have a good idea of how their tools are being used and be able to tailor tools to their users specific needs. With the addition of usage reports, IT Administrators can view Teams usage, user activity, and device usage to determine how well their organization is adopting Teams and if they are using it to its full capabilities.

Teams Templates

When you find something that works for you, you want to be able to replicate it, right? The Teams Templates function allows IT Administrators to pre-define channels, apps, and tabs that their organization can use as a template when building a new project in teams. This allows the organization to focus more on their collaboration and spend less front-end time setting up the system. Teams is also introducing a set of industry-specific templates for education, retail, and healthcare focused on the organizational areas where they are most likely to use Teams. IT Administrators will be able to customize and expand these template to better fit their organization by leveraging new APIs.

Employee Empowerment

Microsoft understands that everyone works a little differently and work styles change across role, function, and industry. Microsoft is committed to enabling Teams as a tool that everyone can use to meet their needs and work to the best of their abilities. The new Shifts functionality in Teams simplifies the process of planning and creating schedules by offering key capabilities to both managers and workers. You will also be able to integrate your workforce management system with Teams by leveraging a Graph API. Additionally, key mobile features such as location sharing, record and share audio messages, and smart camera are being enabled. The mobile experience is customizable to provide workers and IT teams the ability to choose the capabilities most useful for their organization.

Customization

Build and enable your bots to become more powerful and impactful by engaging new capabilities like retrieving a list of channels in a team, creating a 1:1 chat with a specific user, or accepting messages only from specific users.

Microsoft is constantly adding new and improved apps to Teams. Karmabot, MindMeisterThe Connector for Jira server, and Atlassian’s Confluence Cloud are a few recent additions that have a made a big impact in furthering Teams’ collaboration capabilities.

Teams continues to grow and evolve as a communication and collaboration tool for businesses with new updates rolling our regularly. Reach out to 4CornerIT for your Teams enablement and IT needs.