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7 symptoms of a workplace with a dysfunctional technology strategy

It can be difficult to spot company technology issues from the CEO’s desk before they become a crisis. Here’s how to spot and address potential symptoms of dysfunctional workplace technology before they reach that point.

It can be difficult to spot workplace technology issues from the CEO’s desk. Because no one wants to admit there is a problem, you are often the last to hear of issues, potentially remaining unaware until they become a crisis.

According to CMSWire, “While 92% of C-suite execs say they are satisfied with the technology experience their company provides for making progress on important work, only 68% of staff agree.”

So how do you spot and address potential symptoms of dysfunctional workplace technology?

  1. Presenteeism

    Do your systems force everyone to be in the office all the time? Is being in the office synonymous with being a hard worker? Millennials aren’t buying this any more and neither should you. More gets done when people are out making connections, being visible to clients and staying on top of industry developments. Make sure they can work effectively from their mobiles.

  2. Lack of progress on priorities

    If people are overloaded with tasks, they tend to prioritise inefficiently or not at all. Small, low-priority tasks that are easier to tick off the to-do list are done to achieve some sense of progress.

    Larger, messier jobs with greater value but less obvious outcomes – like coming up with ideas to improve CX or looking into a recent drop in email response rates – are pushed to the bottom of the pile.

    If people’s time is taken up trying to find documents, updating project status briefs, managing an overloaded inbox and doing battle with recalcitrant software, they are not operating efficiently, and pressure will build.

  3. Shadow IT

    Shadow IT – the use of non-organisational software and hardware for corporate purposes – can be insidious. From surface observation, things are getting done.

    But if people are circumventing your IT systems to share documents and instant message, you are one poorly considered email away from an embarrassing data leak. It may be time for some user consultation on technology gaps to ensure there are safer, more controlled environments to communicate and share resources.

  4. Your clients are… satisfied

    Satisfied customers are a flight risk; delighted customers are loyal ambassadors. The key to meaningful customer engagement is relevance and if your staff don’t have access to the right data at the right time, it makes it very difficult to surprise and delight customers particularly in higher-volume B2C situations.

    The absence of positive outcomes like innovation and delighted clients is less apparent than negative symptoms like staff turnover and customer complaints but just as damaging in the long run. Look at your CRM and how it might better surface customer information to turn those “meh” clients into “wow”.

  5. Unanimous positivity

    Have you ever worked in an organisation where everyone was apparently happy to work there? It is possible that people simply did not have a channel to provide honest feedback.

    An enterprise social network is not the answer to morale issues but can positively impact culture by providing transparency. Junior staff can develop a connection with the C-suite and feel more informed, and the removal of bureaucratic communication layers allows two-way conversation to provide a much more accurate pulse of the company.

  6. Cynicism

    Conversely, in an organisation with dysfunctional technology, there may be a pervading atmosphere of pessimism. If the business can’t be bothered providing the right systems and processes to help people get their work done, why should the staff go the extra mile?

    People may have been burned by unsuccessful IT projects, or they may simply feel ignored when they ask for change. This type of negativity can spread quickly and must be addressed immediately.

  7. Meeting rooms are unavailable

    A recent study estimated US$37 billion per year is spent on unproductive meetings.

    While client meetings and pitches are a positive sign, if your meeting rooms are constantly full of internal staff having work-in-progress updates and project meetings, it might be worth looking at how work is being managed.

    Introduction and adoption of task management systems like Microsoft Planner can help focus to-do lists and allow delegation and collaboration without unnecessary meetings and spreadsheet updates.

Is your technology strategy dysfunctional? There are other, more obvious symptoms such as staff turnover, security breaches and overt client problems but paying attention to the smaller signs can help address technology problems before a real crisis occurs.

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