03.15
2019

How to Manage Difficult Behavior at Work

Let’s face it. No matter what we all would like to believe about the place we work, there is bound to be conflict in the office. It might be clashing of strong personalities with starkly different viewpoints on how things should be done or (unfortunately) the occasional worker who is consistently at odds with others. When these types of issues rise up among staff, it’s up to you to redirect them to a more amicable path.

We’ve discussed how to approach conflict in the past from a management perspective, but what happens when the issue at hand lies with steadily difficult behavior, rather than one-off instances that can be resolved and moved on from? What do you do when faced with a team member who repeatedly presents off-putting behavior that negatively impacts others?

Now, your inclination may be to resort to swiftly eliminating the problem. While termination can certainly be one solution, it shouldn’t necessarily be the go-to method. For starters, the so-called difficult person may otherwise be a tremendous asset to your company. Additionally, they may not even realize that their behavior is creating discord.

At the same time, it’s still important to be on top of this type of conflict, particularly when it’s consistent, because dissonance among your staff not only produces unpleasant working conditions (even for those not directly involved), but it also is a catalyst for sub-par performance, which affects your bottom line.

Since we’re all about helping you maximize your workforce’s potential in order to make your business as smooth-running and profitable as possible, we thought we’d pass along some advice for how best to approach these types of sensitive situations.

Listen to them.
Let’s say someone is consistently negative; it can put a real damper on the mood. Though we all may want to focus on the positive, it’s important to hear this person out. They could very well have a legitimate complaint and feel that nobody has listened to them. And so, it festers. Listen to them. Ask them questions. Determine if their negativity stems from a work-related issue that you may not have known about, but that needs to be addressed. If not, let them know how their negative attitude is adversely affecting the team and put them on a path toward more positive behavior.

Approach respectfully, not confrontationally.
There are certain behaviors that can truly be disruptive to the workplace. It may be something as simple as listening to music too loud, or it might be a more sensitive subject, like hygiene issues. Or maybe they’re dressing in a way you feel doesn’t best represent the company, though it may technically fall within the dress code. Whatever the issue may be, it’s best to address the person directly, though respectfully, and make sure there’s a clear understanding of adjustments that need to be made.

Put people on a path to success.
Difficult behavior can abruptly end a person’s career path within a certain business. Make sure the employee knows they have the opportunity to get back on track and truly pave a road to future success with the company … if they can successfully modify their day-to-day conduct. Ultimately, most people want to be successful and, more often than not, if they know they’re jeopardizing that, they’ll adjust to accommodate.

Don’t add fuel to the fire.
We know, sometimes it’s easier (and more fun) to be the type of boss that is super chummy with all your staff. While it’s great to have that type of rapport, there needs to be a line of separation at some point. If certain members of your team take to ragging on others for, say, the aforementioned disruptive behavior — particularly if they’re taking things too far — don’t join them. Your job isn’t to be an antagonist. Instead, nip that behavior in the bud before it gets out of hand, and then address the disruption.

At the end of the day, we all want the workplace — whether you’re in an office, constantly offsite, or a combination of the two — to be an enjoyable place to be. After all, it is where you spend a large chunk of your waking hours. We hope this can help.

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03.01
2019

5 Tips for Better Communication at Work

It doesn’t matter if ten percent of your workforce is in the field or if 100 percent of it is. One of the top attributes that contributes to the success or any business is clear and effective communication. Think about it for a minute. How can you expect to successfully deliver a product if the people responsible for its creation can’t even manage to maintain a dialogue that keeps everyone operating on the same page? (Hint: You can’t.)

With that in mind, we thought we’d offer a little advice on how to more effectively communicate with your team

Be crystal clear.
We get it. This seems like obvious non-advice but work with us here. More often than not, miscommunications happen because of gaps, left-out information, or even nonverbal cues that contradict the actual message being delivered. Make sure you are relaying all pertinent information, clearly and concisely. And if speaking in person, versus through an email, mind those facial expressions and gestures that could, say, suggest that you really don’t feel strongly about what you’re saying.

Listen to your team.
This is probably the most important tip of all. While it may not seem like a tip that necessarily involves you actually communicating with anyone, taking the time to listen to your staff — actually hearing what they have to say — sends an extremely powerful message. It’s one thing for an employer to speak about having an open-door policy and an entirely different matter to see it in action. Whether it’s office grievances or ideas for process improvement, let them not only be heard but show that you are listening. You can achieve this by repeating certain talking points back and asking questions.

Ask questions.
Like we mentioned above, asking questions helps to really demonstrate to your staff that you’re actually listening to them when they talk. But it also helps to clarify any confusion there may be, assuring that you are all on the same page. However, when asking questions, make sure not to veer off to another topic altogether. Stay focused on the subject at hand.

Approach conflict from all angles.
It’s almost impossible to avoid some sort of conflict amongst colleagues. No two minds work the same and, at one time or another, different viewpoints are going to clash. What matters is how conflicts are resolved. As a leader, be sure to hear both sides of the equation, keep an open mind, and don’t play favorites. It’s important to maintain a high level of diplomacy and help all parties involved come to some sort of resolution so everyone can move forward.

Avoid discussing divisive topics.
We’ve told you about the negative side of discussing politics in the workplace, but politics isn’t the only taboo topic of conversation at work. Bold statements about personal beliefs, such as religion, or even thoughts on hot-button topics in the news, like a highly controversial criminal trial, for example, can lead to heated debates that are best left outside of the office. The last thing you want is for unrelated personal viewpoints to get in the middle of people’s abilities to effectively do their jobs.

With a little finessing, anyone can mold themselves into a model communicator. It all comes down to being willing to put in the effort and make some changes that ultimately help the business as a whole move forward.

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02.15
2019

6 Ways to Be More Professional at Work

If we were to ask your colleagues how professional you are, what do you think they would say? Would they sing you praises? Or would they suggest that you’re a little too rough around the edges? If you’re leaning more toward the latter of the two, it may be that you need to step up your game a bit. It really doesn’t take much to reshape your look around the office so that you exude a level of professionalism that commands respect … and gets you noticed by the people that matter most.

Look the part.
Whether or not you like it, appearance plays a big part in how others perceive you. Of course, you have to take into consideration your industry. If you’re working at a construction site, it’s probably not a great idea to show up in a three-piece suit. But are you always dressed in worksite–appropriate attire, including all necessary safety gear? Whatever the setting, dress accordingly so you’re always sending the right visual message.

Be reliable.
This can cover a lot of areas. Unexpected circumstances notwithstanding, are you always on time? When you tell someone that you’re going to get something done, are you sure to follow through by the deadline promised? When your team is down a member, are you the go-to person who helps pick up the slack and make sure it’s business as usual? Your goal is to be the person everyone knows they can count on.

Clean up.
We’re not talking about your appearance here. We covered that already. This time, we’re talking about your personal space. Whether you have an office, a cubicle, or spend most of your time behind the wheel, keep your workspace as clean and organized as possible. You may regard your clutter as your own form of organized chaos, but others will only focus on (and remember) the chaos.

Communicate well.
You don’t have to be the most eloquent speaker to convey professionalism. But you do need to make sure that what you say — whether it’s in person or through a written message — makes sense. It’s never a good look if others have to seek clarification (especially if it’s through someone else) every time you say something. Don’t feel the need to ramble endlessly, but do provide enough information for folks to fully understand.

Respect others.
This goes along with the previous tip. You don’t have to necessarily like everybody you work with — though it does make the work day a heck of a lot more enjoyable — but you should treat everyone with the same level of respect. Know people’s limits when it comes to joking around and don’t try to push the envelope. If there is an issue that needs to be addressed, pull the person aside rather than making a spectacle.

Listen, Linda.
When someone wants to speak to you, are you quick to blurt out your opinion? Or do you listen quietly until they’re done speaking? Hopefully, you said the latter. People want to know they’re being heard completely. So, if you want to send the message that you truly care about what someone has to say, make sure you give them the opportunity to not only speak up but to say finish their thought. Talking over them or cutting them off to give feedback sends the message that their voice isn’t important and that you don’t have time for them. If it’s truly a matter of not having the time at the moment, go out of your way to plan a time you can speak uninterrupted.

When it comes to being professional in the workplace, a little does go a long way. Simply follow these tips and you’ll really start to get noticed. You’ll earn the respect from your peers and start to open doors that lead to more opportunities.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

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02.08
2019

5 Tips for Staying Focused at Work

Do you find yourself at a loss when it comes to staying focused at work? Whether you’re in the field or back at the office, distractions abound. No matter where you set up shop, these distractions inhibit productivity and negatively affect your company’s bottom line. So what can be done to keep yourself and your team constantly moving along as efficiently as possible? We have a few tips that help keep us on track and (virtually) distraction-free.

Break down your goals.
Sometimes the lack of focus can stem from a feeling of being overwhelmed. Instead of focusing on the potentially daunting overall task at hand, break things down into smaller, easy-to-digest goals. Have a project to finish by end of the week? Set up a realistic plan for what you aim to accomplish each day in order to reach that final goal, and focus on the day’s agenda instead.

Break down your day.
In the same vein as the previous step, dividing your day into segments helps prevent the risk of the brain fatigue that can come with working on something nonstop. Even the most dedicated workers need to take periodic breaks. Without them, you’ll start to notice your focus dwindling … fast. Make a point to get up every 60–90 minutes to stretch your legs, go for a quick walk, or just get out for some fresh air.

Block out distractions.
Whether or not you realize it, little things — even as simple as the light sound of casual chatter in the background — can cause you to lose focus on the task at hand. If you find yourself constantly veering off track, figure out a way to counter this. It could be as simple as putting on a pair of headphones to maintain focus, or perhaps you’re better suited to finding a quiet corner to work in for certain parts of the day. Whatever the method, put up a buffer between yourself and the distraction.

Block out your schedule.
Are you frequently inundated with meeting requests that throw your plans for a loop? Even though meetings are a necessary part of work life, they can sometimes get in the way of productivity, especially if they’re so abundant you have little time to dedicate to important projects. Set up a specific block of time every day that makes you completely unavailable to calendar requests and use this time to plug away at whatever is top on your list.

Put away your phone.
Our smartphones have become as much of a burden as they have a godsend, particularly in the office. On the one hand, they make sure we’re always connected. But on the other hand, they … well, they make sure we’re always connected. So while you can access your important emails from anywhere, you can also pull up your favorite social network, text messages, or latest gaming addiction. When staying focused is imperative, try closing your phone in a drawer (with the ringer silenced), so you’re not even tempted by the tantalizing lure of a push notification. In the least, practice this method when the threat of an ever-approaching deadline is looming over you.

With just a few slight modifications to your behavior, you’ll start to notice huge changes in your overall focus and productivity, which can quickly translate into increased profits for your business.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

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02.01
2019

How to Prevent the Flu at Work

As you probably know, we’re right in the heart of flu season. Though it may seem like we’re a little late to the game here, with sub-Arctic temperatures making their way into the country and a polar vortex to reckon with, we thought it a good opportunity to review some of the best practices for fending off illnesses in the workplace.

When your workforce is largely mobile, there can be even more to worry about, as far as tracking germs and bacteria into the office. They may be interacting more with the general public, increasing their exposure to bugs that spread like wildfire, particularly when brought back to the confines of an office.

That being said, even though there’s a good chance you’re already doing these, if any aren’t already a part of your regimen — you know who you are — let this serve as a strongly encouraged reminder to do your part, since illnesses can bring productivity to a screeching halt.

Wash your hands.
You know the drill. If you use the bathroom, please wash your hands. (While you’re at it, it’s really a good idea to just go ahead and make this one a priority year round.) It doesn’t take long and every doorknob, conference room table, company vehicle, punch clock, and colleague/customer hand will be better off as a result.

Watch what you touch.
It’s basically second nature, and you’re probably doing it without realizing, but this time of year, do your best to avoid touching your face, particularly your nose, mouth, and eyes. Consider these ports of entry into your body. Excessive touching essentially lays out a red carpet for germs and welcomes them in with fanfare.

Guard those sneezes.
If you feel a sneeze (or a cough, for that matter) coming on, turn your head away from anyone nearby and unleash into the relative safety of your elbow pit. If one sneaks up on you and your hands become a human sneeze guard, you know the drill: Wash your hands.

Clean up after yourself.
Have you been making a habit of cleaning up your desk on a regular basis? We’re not talking decluttering here. (Though that’s another excellent habit to increase productivity.) At least once a week, it’s a good idea to pick up some antibacterial cleaner and give your desk, keyboard, lamp, etc., a good wipe down.

Go home.
Coming down with an illness? Talk to your team leader (from a safe distance), pack up, and go home to get some rest. If you wake up sick, call to let your superior know, and then stay home. Keep your germs and/or viruses out of the office, away from customers, and just focus on feeling better.

Reach out to your doctor.
If your symptoms are beyond that of a common cold, persistent with no sign of slowing down, or you just need reassurance, it’s time to make a call to your doctor. That’s what they’re there for. Better to have official word from an expert so you can get yourself back on track as soon as possible.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

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01.02
2019

An Inside Job: The #1 Way to Curb Employee Theft

Billions of dollars are lost every year because of employee theft — and many times that theft goes unreported by business owners. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce reported that 75 percent of employees will steal from their company at some point, and many do it repeatedly, costing U.S. businesses about $50 billion annually.

Most companies, at some point, will lose at least 5 percent of their revenue to internal theft. The big question is: How do you prevent it from happening in the first place?

Since most employers have trouble reporting internal theft — many citing loyalty to their employees despite their crimes — the most effective way to make sure your workforce is not taking from the company till is to put barriers in place to dissuade employees.

According to Entrepreneur Magazine, keeping a “virtual eye” on employees could be one of the most effective and least intrusive measures. If your team knows your assets are inventoried, protected, and tracked by an external system, the incidents of theft decrease dramatically. By nipping theft in the bud, you’re avoiding hefty expenses associated with recovering your assets, prosecuting employees, and/or replacing assets that can’t be recovered.

What is the #1 way to prevent theft?
A popular choice for companies who have expensive equipment, such as heavy machinery, is to implement a system such as Actsoft’s Asset Tracking tool. This tool basically locates and manages assets around the clock, providing up-to-the-minute alerts you create. This GPS- and motion-based tracking system gives you the power to oversee deliveries, construction, and other out-of-office jobs efficiently and easily. Important features like alerts and reports eliminate the worry of not knowing where your high-value assets are. Trackers attached to your shipping cases and equipment immediately pinpoint their location — so you will receive real-time updates letting you know when assets are moved, doors are open, and other instances dictated by the custom parameters you set.

What customers are saying:
“The tracking unit told us immediately that the truck was stolen. Within hours it was found with minimal damage. All of our trucks have expensive tools locked on board. Thanks to the device, we recovered the vehicle before further damage was done.”
—Andy O’Kelley, vice president of operations, Brooks-Berry-Haynie & Associates

Don’t be a victim of theft. Call Actsoft today to find out how you can save money, time, and resources the budget-friendly and reliable way.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

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12.26
2018

How Treating Your Employees Well Can Make You Money

You know the saying “happy wife, happy life”? It’s an adage that certainly holds weight when it comes to running a business. Employees are in a partnership with their bosses and keeping the workforce happy can go a long way in strengthening the company.

We all know it’s important to manage vehicles and other assets. The equipment used in the field on a daily basis is extremely valuable to a company. That’s understood. However, we should never forget a company’s most valuable asset: the worker.

Each employee is a treasured part of the company and the staff drives the business. Field employees serve as the backbone and face of the company. Your employees are the people who current and potential customers think of when they think of your business. It goes a long way if the face of the company is a happy one and willing to go the extra mile.

According to Forbes.com Google leads the way in companies doing the most to make their employees happier. According to 24/7 Wall St., many of the most successful companies all take care of their employees.

Many of these businesses have incredibly high pay, outstanding amenities, and unmatched benefits that are hard for any company to compete with. However, the spirit of what they do can be matched by any business. They create incentives for employees that keep them happy, fresh, and ready to work twice as hard for their company.

Taking care of your employees is a smart investment in running a business. Create incentives for employees and it will be the difference between an employee viewing their relationship with the company as “just a job” or a healthy part of their life.

It’s not just Google. Many successful companies have incentive programs, benefits, career advancement programs, and create a positive work-life balance for employees. At Actsoft we’ve been recognized for creating a healthy work environment in part due to our Dream Manager program which helps our staff achieve life goals.

What steps does your company take to keep employees invigorated to go to work every day?

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

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12.11
2018

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas From Actsoft

Perhaps one of the best things about working for Actsoft is the positive work environment that’s been established here. We take pride in helping to ensure that all of our employees get the most out of their jobs, and strive to create a family-oriented culture at our office that empowers everyone. With that being said, there’s no better time of year for us to build and grow as a team than around the holiday season.

Whether it’s due to the crisp winter air, the sparkling radiance of Christmas lights, or the fresh scents of pine wafting through the city streets, it’s safe to say that the holidays are one of our favorite times on the entire calendar. This past week was our organization’s sales week, company meeting, and Christmas party, three events that always hold great significance for our team. With our remote employees being flown in from all over the United States for these annual events, everyone at our organization is always given the chance to reconnect, celebrate accomplishments, and set goals for the future at them. After last week concluded, our company came back to the office this week with a stronger, more unified vision of how to better serve you.

As we move into 2019, we plan to continue improving our solutions and customer experiences in new ways, so that your company can benefit even more. Actsoft remains committed to helping your business find true efficiency, optimization, and all the tools it needs to stay an industry leader throughout the holidays and beyond. So here’s to the success of your company, as 2018 comes to an end and the new year begins to roll in.

Happy holidays and merry Christmas from us at Actsoft, and may your organization’s season be filled with success.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

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12.07
2018

Office Holiday Party Etiquette 101

The year’s end is nigh, and you know what that means, right? Of course, there are last-minute year-end goals, checking the numbers, meeting quotas, and all the stuff that matters the most when it comes to running a successful business. But there’s one particular event that everyone, no matter what position you’re in, looks forward to the most.

The company holiday party!

But when it comes to whooping it up at the year-end shindig, there is — or rather, there should be — a limitation to the amount of said whooping. You may be celebrating off hours, but at the end of the day, you are still at a work function. That being said, we wanted to present a few simple rules that everyone should keep in mind during the holiday season.

What (Not) to Wear
The office holiday party is the perfect excuse for you to get all gussied up in your Sunday best. Even if you work in the most casual office in the country, leave the t-shirt and jeans at home and pull out all the stops. You’ll make a memorable statement and a lasting impression … plus it’s just fun to dress to the nines every now and then.

Be a Social Butterfly
Do you find yourself working with the same small group of people and therefore always socializing with them? Try to branch out and mingle with colleagues from other departments. You’re all integral parts of a well-oiled machine, helping to keep the company running. Get to know each other a little better. This type of interpersonal communication can really help develop better interactions in a professional setting down the road.

Eat, Drink, and Be … Wary
More often than not, libations will be flowing at your company party. Whether there are simply glasses of wine circulating or a full bar scenario, be sure to know your limit. The idea is to have a good time, and that likely doesn’t include saying (or doing) something you’ll later regret. You may not remember it, but everyone else will.

Mind Your Conversations
In the same vein as the previous, don’t forget that, while everyone here may be cutting loose, it’s still a work event. Avoid uncomfortable/wholly unprofessional topics of conversation and think twice about overly negative comments. When in doubt, rely on the same style banter you would while on the clock.

Choose Guests Wisely
You know your friends better than anyone else at the party. If you’re lucky enough to be able to bring a plus-one, make sure you know them well enough to know how they’ll behave. Whether or not you think it’s fair, their actions at the party directly reflect on you. Bring someone you’d feel comfortable leaving on their own for a few minutes if you have to excuse yourself at any point.

Salutations
You wouldn’t go to a party at a friend’s house without talking to your friend at some point, right? Just the same, take a few minutes to say hello to, and thank, the host of your holiday party: most likely the company’s owner. It’s another way to make a good impression and to just really show some genuine appreciation for them being gracious enough to put together a fun end-of-year gathering.

These aren’t tough — or even stringent — rules to follow, but they help to make sure everyone enjoys their holiday celebration, while still being able to look forward to a pleasant Monday morning at the office.

Happy holidays from Actsoft!

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12.05
2018

Martial Arts and Management

The martial arts of East Asia have long fascinated people in the West. The proliferation of martial arts through the film industry only served to boost the aforementioned fascination: Images of ninjas; Shaolin monks; and the late, great Bruce Lee performing gravity-defying kicks have captured the hearts of audiences for decades. These techniques, however, were not acquired overnight and only through the basic foundations of control, training, self-discipline, and continuous learning were they mastered. These fundamentals not only lend themselves to mastering forms of combat, but also to mastering management processes and dominating your market.

Control
Martial arts differentiates itself from the casual street fighting with its emphasis on control. This is what defines it as an art form; reckless punches and kicks are replaced with precise forms. Three core aspects compose the foundation of a martial art’s control:

  • Concerted actions
  • Think before acting
  • Environmental awareness

Applying these core aspects to your business can generate positive results. Making controlled decisions in the business world is the only method by which you can effectively allocate resources and personnel. A wild decision is a gamble and, while gambling is both exhilarating and can carry the potential for a high reward, the result of a bad gamble could be fatal to your business. Taking time to contemplate your decisions before acting on them reinforces the aspect of making controlled movements. Patience can go a long way in the business world, especially when you have yet to become aware of your environment. Understanding how your environment is set up and how it changes is a crucial key to victory. The market your business occupies is your environment and, in order to dominate, you must know how it moves in the present and how it could potentially move in the future.

Training and Self-Discipline
Like any other art form, martial arts require practice and conditioning. The mastery of the various katas, or forms, necessitates repetition until the movements are intuitive. Forms are learned slowly and in small segments, which are then strung together until the practitioner appears to be performing a long dance.

  • Smaller goals lead to bigger targets
  • Repetition leads to perfection

Your business must function in the same way in order to establish and maintain a presence in your market. Whatever your product may be, you must set small benchmarks for your team to reach. For instance, the first benchmark could be closing five sales. Once those sales are closed, you can add on five more for the second benchmark or even increase it to ten more. If you only close two of those sales, you must analyze what differed between the two sales and the three that did not close. Repeat the process until you reach your benchmark and then press forward. Domination of your market is not an overnight process. Like learning and mastering the steps of a kata, it requires time and dedication to perfect your form until that which was once difficult becomes easy.

Continuous Learning
When studying martial arts, practitioners operate under the guidance of senior students or a master. Under their tutelage, the practitioner learns their forms, step-by-step, until they reach the level of mastery. While they may have “mastered” their specific form of combat, there still exists myriad other forms they can explore in order to become a “complete fighter.”

  • Utilize your resources
  • Remain open to learning

When managing your business, you may believe you do not have anyone to offer guidance through the process. Sitting at the head of a company can feel like being lost in the wilderness without any direction. However, there exists guidance from other entrepreneurs within your field in the form of books, seminars, and more. Utilizing these resources provides a compass to help circumvent the common obstacles of management.

Upon reaching success, you may feel that you mastered your craft; you are the quintessential businessperson, a sage of the sales world who can learn nothing else. It is when that thought occurs that your business begins its demise. There is always room for improvement within some aspect of your company. There are always new processes and new technologies that you can implement into your operating processes. Lastly, there is always a bigger market to expand into with new challenges and new benchmarks to reach.

Seemingly unrelated, the world of business management and the realm of martial arts have greater similarities when given a deeper examination. The application of controlled, precise actions at the most opportune time is the vehicle to success in both fields. Trial-and-error and the constant tweaking of processes run through the veins of both disciplines, while the ability to constantly learn and improve create the room for expansion in both fields. Never be rigid to the point that you cannot adapt. In the words of the late Bruce Lee: “… be formless … shapeless … like water …now, water can flow or creep or drip or crash! Be water, my friend.”

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