you played the "telephone game" when
you were a child, you probably recall the hilarity
when one friend repeated another friend's story
incorrectly until you got to the
end of the line and the story was completely jumbled.
While children may be playing the telephone game
in 2003, they're more than likely online playing
with instant messaging a similar experience,
but one that is much, much more sophisticated
and falls into the electronic communications arena.
Worldwide, it is estimated that there are more
than 605 million online users as of fall 2002,
with 182 million in the United States and Canada.
With these numbers continuing to grow each year,
who would have predicted the revolution that took
place over the last several years with respect
to the way we can instantly communicate across
Performance is measured in a number of ways within
today's business environment. Certainly, specific
tools like employee reviews are one way to relate
performance to productivity, while tracking bottom-line
revenue producers is another way. Going on the
theory that communications is king and email is
standard in today's business marketplace, companies
that adopt and use a standardized approach to
enhancing performance through electronic communications
are the ones who will excel.
Why? Although email is a tool, it often is not
thought of as a productivity enhancer, but rather,
a means to ask a question and receive an answer
or at the very basic, a way to communicate.
Two, statistics prove that any time a business
standardizes its processes, it undoubtedly becomes
more efficient because the business now has a
way to measure its processes and evaluate effectiveness.
Just take a look at how productivity increases
once a company ensures all of its computers are
running on the same operating systems and same
Here are a few ways you can use electronic communications
to achieve a spike in productivity.
It's easy to set your browser or contact management
program to receive email every 10 minutes, but
is that really efficient? You can liken an email
message to a ringing phone or even a knock on
the door … this is an interruption that can be
annoying and frustrating at the same time.
A better idea would be to put some controls on
how often you will read your email. As humans,
we are programmed to respond when someone calls
our name, so when you receive an email, the first
task you think you want to do is answer the message.
Instead, arrange your day so you only read email
two or perhaps three times daily. Although this
might seem preposterous at first, actually carving
out that time will make you more productive to
get the rest of your work done. Providing email
time limitations or parameters also sends a message
to your team - that they should focus on something
else besides email (hopefully, making the company
If you find it unrealistic to set what you might
think are rigid controls, then do what's best
for you and your own productivity. In addition,
you might be waiting for an all-important email
with a signed contract or something else that
is time sensitive. In these cases, by all means,
check your email more often.
Your Software - Submit Comments
Although we all use standard software suites to
do work, how much do you know about your word
processing, contact management and other programs?
Would it help to know just a bit more to become
Of course, something like this can't be learned
overnight; you could read books, manuals, take
online courses or even attend public seminars.
But who has the time?
One solution is to pool your company resources
by asking your staff to submit one to two time-saving
comments a week, then compile those comments into
a weekly email to the entire staff. Sure, you're
going to get some repetitious advice, but you're
also likely to get handy tips on how to handle
seemingly routine tasks all for a few minutes
of each person's time.
In compiling comments, be sure to include everyone's
advice, even if something might seem too basic
or even too complicated. Be sure you don't want
to leave anyone out that wants to contribute because
you never know how many people may be struggling
with the same challenges.
The person responsible for compiling these gems
of wisdom also might think about using a spreadsheet
approach or some other way to segment ideas into
topics by function or action. For example, all
word processing tasks can be housed on its own
spreadsheet or file, while tasks on how to mail
merge might be found in another file. Ask the
staff for ideas on how to categorize comments
again, you'll get their buy-in and probably
get a volunteer to raise his or her hand to do
Email While Absent
Nothing's worse than being on vacation or out
of the office traveling (without access to email)
only to come back with hundreds of email messages
many more than anyone could possibly handle
in one work day. Instead of coming back to this
debacle, assign someone in your office to check
your email while you're out. Although some might
look at this as an invasion of privacy, think
about how much more productive you will be knowing
you won't come back to an email message that should
be been handled three days ago. Ever notice how
when you take off for two weeks of vacation, you
have much less work to do than if you took a long
weekend with just two days of vacation? The same
These are just three ways to increase productivity
through electronic communications. Think about
other ways you can help the cause and begin managing
communications before it manages you. Contact
us for other ways we can enhance your company's
performance. Our goal is to make your company