How many times have you or your team been involved in a project, no matter what the size, and had someone come out of the blue or get some unexpected bad news at the last minute which puts your project, all your hard work, and careful planning in jeopardy?
Chances are you forgot to put a key person in the information loop. This person could be as big as the CEO of the company or as seemingly insignificant as the kid in the mail room.
Unwittingly leaving a key person in the dark is a classic and chronic problem faced by all managers and project teams. One way to overcome this problem is to leave nothing to chance and develop a communications plan……and put it in writing! But don't just do this in a vacuum because one person is never able to think of all the people that might need to be put in the loop.
A good communications plan is a team effort. Different people know different parts of a project or problem. It never fails that each person on the team will come up with different contacts that they know who have critical information that you will need. Sometimes these people can help you or can come out of left field and kill your efforts for one reason or another. It is important to keep these contacts in the communications loop and use their collective knowledge for your project's success.
Putting together the master list and prioritizing the people on it is the next step. We'll talk about that in our next blog post.
We've come a long way from smoke signals and drums, the earliest forms of telecommunication. Today's telecommunication industry uses electromagnetic waves and electronic transmitters to connect people. Connections are still made by sight or hearing, but telephone, television, radio, computers and satellites now allow the message to travel around the world, even out into space, and to be received almost instantly.
Did the men who invented modern telecommunications -- Alexander Graham Bell (telephone), Guglielmo Marconi (radio), John Logie Baird (television) – realize how profoundly they would change the world? Today, the telecommunication industry is a significant factor in world economy, generating 3% of the gross world product. Figures for 2006 place industry revenue at $1.2 trillion and rising.
Highlights, interesting facts and a few near misses in telecommunications history:
- 1837 Samuel Morse develops the electrical telegraph and signaling system. Embarrassingly, he couldn't get it to work during the unveiling demonstration!
- 1849 Antonio Meucci invents the first device to electronically transmit the human voice (i.e., phone). It flopped because to hear, users had to put the receiver in their mouth.
- 1866 First transatlantic telecommunication is made.
- 1876 Alexander Bell and Elisha Gray independently invent the telephone. Although Gray filed his patent application first, bad legal advice and a clerical error led him to withdraw his application and the patent was awarded to Bell.
- 1878 First commercial telephone service set up in New Haven, Connecticut (home of Yale University) and the following year in London.
- 1901 Guglielmo Marconi positions himself to win the 1909 Nobel Prize in physics by inventing a working wireless radio that functions between Canada and England.
- 1925 John Baird demonstrates the transmission of moving pictures at Selfridges, a London department store which conveniently sells couches.
- 1929 The BBC makes the first experimental TV broadcast.
- 1940 George Stibitz makes the first computer transmission using a mainframe system and remote terminals. Mammoth mainframes dominate the emerging industry through the next two decades.
- 1960 Computer geeks start experimenting with packet switching, bypassing the mainframe to send large packets of data directly to different computers.
- 1969 The first network – just 4 modes – is in operation.
- 1970 Scientists at Corning Glass Works produce the first viable optical fiber, ushering in a new era in telecommunications and enabling the internet.
- 1978 The first international packet switched network connects the U.S. and Europe.
- 1989 While working for CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau invent the web.
- 1990 Fledgling micro-networks slowly merge to become the behemoth that today we call the “net.”
No longer an infant, telecommunications has hit its teen years and like a teenager is growing by leaps and bounds. A chronology of the discoveries and achievements of the past 15 years would fill pages. Today the path from discovery to implementation and production moves literally at the speed of light.
Telecommunications have enabled companies to build global empires, just look at Amazon and Wal-Mart, two outstanding examples. It is now possible to do face-to-face business with customers all over the world while sitting at your office desk. When you must travel, telecommunications allows you to stay connected to your home office and instantly resolve customer issues. With telecommunications, employees can remain an integral part of your business team while working from home when personal or family matters demand their attention.
It's been less than 100 years since Samuel Morse first pressed down on a telegraph key. It's only taken 15 years for the internet to change life as we know it. Can you imagine where we'll be 15 years from now? Buckle up! We're in for an amazing ride!
You're climbing the corporate ladder. You've just landed your dream job or maybe you've been tagged for that management position you've been angling for. You're anxious to impress your boss with your leadership capabilities and earn your colleagues' respect. This is the opportunity that could send your career skyrocketing!
So what's the catch? Many new managers make the mistake of assuming that their previous work habits will continue to gain them success in their new position. It's a common mistake says Michael Watkins, a former Harvard Business School professor and author of The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders At All Levels. In fact, though managers come from different backgrounds and possess different characteristics, they often make the same common mistakes.
Top 10 Management Mistakes
- Rigid policies. While policies need to be followed, some flexibility must be afforded employees and customers, particularly in small companies. Before you act, weigh the importance of the policy against the good will of a loyal customer or employee.
- Lack of communication. Communication is the key to being a good manager. Employees need to know what is expected of them and when projects or tasks are due.
- Failing to listen. A good manager listens to what his employees have to say and hears the needs and concerns behind the words.
- My way or the highway. A good manager doesn't try to solve every problem or pretend he has every answer. He knows when to seek help and realizes that there's more than one way to accomplish a task.
- The half empty glass. Don't always focus on what went wrong. Recognizing achievements and employee accomplishments builds morale and creates a positive work environment.
- The buck stops here. As a manager, you can't delegate blame. If you're in charge, you're responsible for the actions of the employees you manage.
- Favoritism. Showing favoritism is a fast track to poor morale. You lose credibility and the respect of your team when you play favorites.
- Just do it. You can't expect your team to blindly plow ahead if they don't understand the project. Take time to explain the project and how it fits into the larger plan. A team that is invested in a project will work harder and produce better results.
- Too much technology. Don't hide behind emails. You must embrace and practice your people skills too.
- Never change. In the rapidly changing business environment, you must be open to change. There is a place for tried-and-true methods, but there must also be room for new ideas and practices. Be flexible.
We're big on saving you money with superb video, telephone, event and web conferencing services, but did you know we can also help you and your company to make a difference for the environment and to move in the GREEN direction too?
Accu-Rate Communications Inc., parent company of AccuConference, strives to be as paperless as possible. We're working hard to do our part to save a few trees by going digital with nearly all of our office documents. We can help you move in the GREEN direction too. With our services, we help you to cut travel costs that you would incur for sales calls across the country, training seminars for employees spread across multiple branches, and international brainstorming sessions. Using our online conferencing services for audio and video, you may never have to leave the office again. Just think of the travel budget savings as well as the smaller environmental impact your business will make.
If you're worried that being there versus being on a screen might not work for you, you may want to check with your clients after a test of our services. We make it very easy to try out our services for your next meeting. We've found that with video conferencing, clients get that "personal connection" in the same way as if you were in the room "face to face". Video conferencing is a great way to connect anywhere, anytime, with anyone.
So next time you think that you've got to fly off to London for a sales call, think GREEN and get AccuConference instead!
You're about to start a conference call and "Forgetful Frank" still hasn't arrive. Usually you call to remind him but this time it's different.
You look at the live call screen and notice an inconspicuous box located on the left hand side. It's the web out-dial box and you intuitively know what it's for. You type in Frank's phone number and click "GO" to see what happens.
You continue talking as if nothing has happened. Seconds later, Frank's bellowing voice greets everyone on the call. Amazingly your meeting starts on time.
Allow me to explain this time-saving feature.
The AccuConference Web Out-Dial is an automated calling application that is controlled by your computer that invites participants to join a conference call. The system can dial your entire contact list separately or all at once.
When your participants pick up their phone they receive three options:
Press 1 > to join the conference
Press 2 > to be called back in 5 minutes
Press 3 > to decline this invitation
The Web Out-Dial is like conference call cruise control… simply hit the button and then sit back to relax. No longer will your participants need to remember the exact time or codes for your call.
ost your conference call attendance and save time. Visit our conference call features page to find out more about Web Out-Dial.
1. Sell your consulting services – meet with multiple people at the same time to maximize your time. Provide exclusive access by creating customized passcodes that expire after every use.
2. Host a special event – find a guest speaker that your customers would pay to hear. It could be a sales guro or motivational speaker, an author, politician, or industry spokesperson. Use online registration pages to track attendance and to distribute codes.
3. Record your calls – download your high-profile conference call recordings and make them available on CD for a price. The CD could contain sales and marketing strategies, industry-specific consulting, or be a recording of a popular guest speaker.
4. Blast-dial an important announcement –coming soon, this feature will automatically dial a list of phone numbers. This will let you pre-record important announcement and mass distribute them to current or prospective clients. This in turn will boost your inbound call volume and generate traffic to your website.
5. "Cold-Conference" prospective clients – Invite a list of prospective clients to an exclusive conference call. Provide them valuable information and then top it off with a lucrative sales pitch.
6. Reduce unnecessary business travel – Avoid paying for accommodations, transportation and eating out.
7. Use 800 forwarding – toll free forwarding ensures you never miss an important sales call. Having a toll free number will also increase your call volume and give your company a larger geographic reach.
8. Increase sales – connect with your sales force, regardless of location. Use conference calling to follow-up on prospective leads. Record your sales pitches for training and customer quality.
Never underestimate the impact of back operations, especially as it pertains to your bottom-line. The decisions you make with your back operations will slim down your overhead expenses and streamline your business. Your front-line customer service is important, but they rely on your back operations to look good.
There is increased pressure for companies to go green. It can be a challenge to stream-line operations and save your company money while maintaining high environmental standards. A little does a lot, so here are a couple suggestions that we have worked for us. These are similar to the tips featured in our newsletter, but we wanted to elaborate more here:
Have your front and back operations use less paper. At our office we have a recycling container within ten paces of every desk. They are bright blue so you can’t miss them. The proximity of the cans makes it tempting to “shoot hoops” with paper-basket-balls and -airplanes. But if your employees are having fun recycling then that’s not a bad thing. In order for a system to work, everyone needs to be on board. We’ve also implemented paperless invoicing for our clients. We now send secure email attachments as PDF’s with all applicable billing information. No more stamps, envelopes, or paper. That being said, we still send the occasional letter in the mail, but we prefer to do everything online. We also send electronic emails too (because a mailing list to over 20,000 people can use a lot of paper). There is no reason why companies shouldn’t push hard to have their customers switch to online services. Not only will you save paper costs (and the environment) but your man power will significantly drop because everything will be done automatically and your back operations will feel better.
If you need a few more ideas, then here are some suggestions. First, implement a two-sided print policy for all inter-office documents. In addition, eliminate unnecessary pages such as cover sheets and tracking pages. Beside your photocopier store a box for recycling. When possible, reuse this bin of paper by cutting the sheets into smaller notepads and using them at your desk. You can also reuse this paper when you do “test prints.” Find a supplier of low-cost paper that you can integrate into other parts of your back operations… whether it is letterhead, napkins, or recycled boxes. Lastly, encourage a “sober-second-thought” rule, where you ask your employees to think twice before printing anything to make sure it’s absolutely necessary.
It won’t be long before you start seeing an ROI in your back operations. Paper costs a lot less to dispose than it does to purchase.
Every office has a sound. It may be the pitter patter of keyboards or the humming of a photocopier or the ringing of phones or the beeping of computers. These are rather innocuous… other sounds may include obnoxious thought-stopping laughter or distracting gossip in the cubicle next-door or incessant mooooing from cows.
What… you don't have cows mooing at your office?
At our office someone discovered an Outlook feature that lets them customize the sound their computer makes when it receives email. Popular sounds include a cow mooing and a high pitched cartoon that says "Oh, No!"
You'd think this would be problematic since we're on the phone a lot, but it's not. Thanks to noise cancellation our customers only hear what they're supposed to hear. Since our conference call system removes distracting background noises we can continue on with our office antics.
I recall my fifth grade teacher would have us journal every morning and we had to keep writing without a stopping. She told us to streamline our thoughts and that it didn’t matter if we made spelling mistakes or if our sentences didn’t make sense - so long as we kept writing.
I recently had a chance to re-read one of these journals. I wrote stuff like “My brother annoys me and cows don’t jump over the moon.” It doesn’t get more random then that. Anyway, that’s what I’m doing right now. Already I’ve hit the backspace button ten times but I keep plowing forward the best I can.
Too many times we don’t push forward on a task and we’re afraid to throw it on paper. I’m amazed at how unproductive I can be and how much time I waste staring at the wall. I think about work-related stuff but I don’t write it down.
I’ll be honest, I cheated with this blog entry. I decided in advance what I wanted to write about which makes this though-streaming-process much easier. I’ll have to try this again and truly start from scratch. I suggest you do the same. On your next big project or task, try putting your thoughts on paper, regardless of what they are. Whether it’s an email, newsletter, blog or memo – don’t go back or make any edits until you’re done.
I’m convinced that this will make you more productive and will also help you stay focused. I already feel better having done this. It also takes a lot of concentration. I’ve had to keep typing even as my outlook emails pop up in the corner of my screen. But I press on!
I’m happy to report that this blog took about five minutes to write (which is a record for me).
Let’s see how long it takes to edit it!
[Updated: It took about twice as long to edit… I’ll have to work on shaving that down next time]
Have you considered how traffic affects your personal productivity and our nation's economy?
Here is a segment from Wikipedias page on traffic congestion:
"The Texas Transportation Institute estimates that in 2000 the 75 largest metropolitan areas experienced 3.6 billion vehicle-hours of delay, resulting in 5.7 billion US gallons (21.6 billion liters) in wasted fuel and $67.5 billion in lost productivity, or about 0.7% of the nation's GDP."