Delegation, Automation, and DIY: How to Divide Responsibilities Most Efficiently

There are so many moving parts in running a business. From conception to launch to maintaining and scaling your operation, there are many things to oversee to ensure productivity, efficiency, and growth. And one thing successful business owners can agree on is that you can’t do it all on your own. You need a team. 

Additionally, when you create a solid team for your business, you must know how to utilize your team effectively. Each team member has a set of strengths you can leverage to optimize your operation. But there will also be times where automating certain practices or doing specific tasks yourself is a better choice. 

So the question becomes when you’re starting a business or reevaluating your business plans, when is it best to delegate tasks, complete them yourself, or implement automation tools to help? 

Let’s dive into each in detail so you can make an informed decision as to how to complete different business tasks in the most efficient, productive way. 

When You Should Delegate Tasks

Most business owners find out very quickly that they can’t do everything themselves as much as they wish they could. At the same time, they’re terrified of assigning essential tasks to individuals on their team. It could be because the last time they did, the tasks weren’t done to their quality standards or done at all. Whatever the reason, they’re stuck in limbo between burning themselves out and being unable to use their team efficiently. 

But delegation is an absolute must if you want to run a successful business. There are people with better ability and knowledge on specific tasks than you. And that’s okay. In fact, it’s encouraged. These team members can ensure the tasks get done in the most efficient way possible that garners the best results. Delegating tasks shows your team that you trust their abilities to get the job done, which is extremely important to creating a solid company culture. 

So, how do you know which tasks to delegate and who they should be delegated to? By understanding the strengths of each person on your team, considering the time you have to complete these tasks, the complexity of the tasks, and if they can be handed off without issue. 

To determine who the task should be delegated to, start with the people on your team who have always wanted more responsibility and who can handle it. You’ll still want to create an outline on how the task should be completed and monitor progress. But you want to monitor your team in a way that is cost-effective, improves team performance, and recognizes and celebrates team productivity. Don’t create more work for yourself by delegating so many tasks that monitoring becomes a task in itself. 

In addition to delegating tasks, you can automate many so you and your team can focus on projects that really need you. 

When to Implement Automation Tools 

You and your team members each have a set of primary job responsibilities. But because there are so many things that go into running a business, as stated above, those responsibilities can often become secondary to the many repetitive, menial tasks you must complete to keep things running smoothly. 

Fortunately, we now have a wide variety of automation tools to choose from to help complete those repetitive tasks for us. Many business owners find that automating these sorts of tasks frees up their team’s time to focus on their primary responsibilities and tasks that require a human touch. 

For example, collecting data can be overwhelming when done manually. Implementing an automation tool that collects and processes data for you leaves more time to focus on the analysis part and leverage the data insights to better your business. 

But how do you know when to implement automation tools? Automation is excellent for accurately and efficiently completing repetitive tasks like responding to emails or comments and direct messages on social media, data collection, or customer-service inquiries. Additionally, it’s important to note that automating a task doesn’t mean set it and forget it. You must ensure the tool works how it’s supposed to and make adjustments when it’s not.  

Finally, some tasks can be best completed by you, where automation and delegation just won’t cut it. And that brings us to our last section. 

When to Get Things Done Yourself 

As much as delegating and automation can help better business efficiency and productivity, there are just some tasks that only you can complete. In other words, your expertise, skill, experience, and background may make you the best fit for completing a particular task.   

For example, suppose you have a financial background in accounting, and no one else on your team has the level of expertise you do. In that case, it’s probably best to complete the accounting and other financial tasks yourself. Bookkeeping, financial planning, investing, and financial reporting are all things you want to be done by an expert. And if that expert is you, it’s best to take on these tasks yourself to ensure they’re done correctly.  

Also, when it comes to DIY, don’t just look at your ability to do something, but also look at whether or not your current responsibilities will allow you to designate the time and effort needed to complete the task. If you’ve got too many things on your plate to produce high-quality work, it may be best to explore one of the above options to ensure you aren’t on a fast track to burnout. 


Ultimately, there is a time and a task for delegation, automation, and DIY. Delegate tasks when someone else is better equipped to complete them. Automate tasks that are repetitive and can be done with little human intervention. And complete tasks yourself when you have the time and effort to dedicate to them, and your expertise makes you the right fit for the job. 

Getting Your Foot in the Door: Skills You Need to Make an Impact in Business

Becoming an agent of change in the business world requires more than just a cause. You also have to have the skills to rise above the white noise and make a genuine difference.

Here are a few of the biggest hard and soft skills you want to have down pat if you want to make an impact, get noticed, and ultimately shake things up for the better throughout your career.

Business Training is a Great Idea

If you want to make a difference no matter where you’re working, it’s a good idea to spend some time studying more than just technical skills related to your particular field. Business training and even a full-blown business degree can open up the doors to leadership and management positions in a plethora of fields, from healthcare to finance, marketing, consulting, and beyond. 

Investing in an MBA or other business training is a great way to develop business skills and stand out against other candidates.

Communication is Key

Communication is much more than the ability to maintain a conversation. In business, communication revolves around things like:

  • Self-awareness
  • Being concise
  • Using active listening
  • Effectively answering questions

Use things like the 3-1-3 method to help hone your business communication skills.

Job Hunting is a Skill Too

You may think everything you’re doing is preparing for working your job. However, you also want to take time honing your job-hunting skills, as well.

Modern job hunting doesn’t consist of filling out applications and calling it a day. It’s a time-intensive activity that requires a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. Job hunting hard and soft skills to work on include:

The majority of your skills will be focused on your career. But don’t forget to keep those job-hunting talents sharpened, too.

Being Flexible is a Requirement

Flexibility isn’t just needed for things like remote work schedules. It’s also one of the top requirements for a leader.

The ability to be flexible is a foundational aspect of effective business activity. This means learning to adjust to others’ expectations, schedules, and timelines. You must be willing to give ground in certain places to get what you need in other areas.

Empathizing the Right Way

Unless you’re going to work under a rock, you need to have a well-defined sense of empathy. This shouldn’t just apply to causes and companies that resonate with your activist spirit, either. It should also extend to your bosses, coworkers, and employees.

The ability to empathize and see things from another person’s perspective can help you connect with others. It can also facilitate things like:

  • Better communication
  • Productive collaboration
  • Effective diplomacy and the ability to find compromises

While empathy is important, empathizing in the right way is also something to consider. Empathy doesn’t equate to becoming a “yes addict.” On the contrary, you should balance your ability to understand others with also knowing your limits and when it’s the right time to say no.

Always Growing and Continually Learning Can Get You Far

Finally, if you want to maintain the ability to truly impact whatever business you operate in, you must maintain a forward-thinking mindset. This is most often described as a growth mindset

This is the opposite of a fixed mindset, where you act as if things like your intelligence, abilities, and understanding are fixed factors in your life. As an activist and an agent of change, this likely rubs you the wrong way — as it should. A fixed mindset is counterproductive and leads to stagnation.

However, be warned that it’s surprisingly easy to slip into a fixed mindset without realizing it. It’s easy to cap your capabilities and assume that you can’t do certain things. It’s also tempting to feel intimidated by change and progress.

This is where a growth mindset makes a big difference. By accepting that your inherent talents and capabilities can grow, you can embrace change with boldness. By continually learning new things and looking for the newest way to do things, you can become an innovator and change creator in your business at all times.

Sharpening Your Skills for the Future

There are plenty of skills that can give you a cutting edge in business. Some of these are more practical than others. The ability to write a good resume and understand business concepts can help you stand out against the competition.

At the same time, soft skills like communication, flexibility, and empathy are all critical factors, as well. They help you connect with others and become a leader that can make a genuine difference.

Finally, it’s that crucial growth mindset that can keep you at the forefront of change and innovation throughout your career. If you can remain willing to embrace change, you will be able to get your foot in the door at any company you want — and then make changes for the better once you’re hired.

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Prioritizing Sustainability as the Core of Your Business

Over the last few years, sustainability has become more than just a catchy buzzword. Improved sustainability may be the key to a more prosperous future, for individuals and businesses alike. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), prioritizing sustainability is a noble endeavor that will allow humans and nature to productively coexist over the long term, to better “support present and future generations.” 

Many businesses feel conflicted about adopting sustainable product design because they don’t want to negatively affect their business model or profit margins. Although some businesses hold back from green decisions, they should be stepping forward with all the benefits that sustainability offers. You may even find that prioritizing sustainability helps bring in new, eco-conscious customers while retaining existing ones and building brand loyalty.

Make no mistake: Sustainability is an increasingly high priority among consumers, many of whom are willing to shell out a few extra dollars for sustainable products. A recent study found that nearly 70% of consumers in the U.S. and Canada actively support sustainable and eco-friendly brands. To stand out from the competition, no matter the products or service you provide, corporate responsibility is thus more important than ever, and sustainability is at the heart of the movement. 

Naturally, corporate sustainability takes on many forms. Anything from marketing and product design to staffing can help build your brand and create a better Earth simultaneously. 

Incorporating Sustainability into Your Business Model

For starters, consider the motivations behind your push towards greater sustainability, and strive for authenticity. Sustainability initiatives within your company shouldn’t feel forced, and eco-savvy consumers will be able to see right through it. As sustainability has become more important, some companies have resorted to the unscrupulous practice known as “greenwashing” — that is, falsely presenting a product or brand as eco-friendly when it isn’t. 

To keep your company’s reputation strong as you build sustainability initiatives, avoid falling into the trap of greenwashing, even inadvertently. Further, keep in mind that sustainable business models can vary significantly from company to company. Don’t fall into the trap of following the latest trends or modeling your company’s sustainability initiative after that of a competitor. Being inauthentic, even in the name of environmental stewardship, is likely to undermine your company’s integrity, rather than boost it. 

One of the first steps in the process is to recognize and address any glaring, company-wide issues related to sustainability. The task may be a lofty one, so consider filling in the gaps by creating job positions related to sustainability within your company, and hiring eco-conscious professionals who understand what’s at stake. Many forward-thinking companies now employ some sort of corporate responsibility officer to build and maintain sustainability initiatives. 

From Packaging to Marketing: A Sustainable Supply Chain

Corporate responsibility goes well beyond a single position or department. Business leaders must consider the environmental impact in every aspect of your company, including your suppliers and partners. Corporate responsibility officers and similar professionals must take a variety of factors into account when developing sustainable initiatives, such as energy needs and sources, waste production, worker rights and wages, and ingredient sources.

Marketing and packaging should also be considered in terms of your company’s carbon footprint. To effectively utilize sustainable marketing to your advantage, it’s important to have a keen awareness of how your products are manufactured and packaged. Work to utilize sustainable suppliers as often as possible, while remaining transparent to your customers and employees alike. 

If you make a mistake, say by unknowingly partnering with an unethical company or supplier, own up to it. Consumers are more likely to respect and continue patronizing a company that fully admits when they’re at fault on an environmental level, rather than simply glossing over or greenwashing the situation. Finally, allow customers to achieve a more personal connection to your company’s sustainability initiatives by encouraging feedback and suggestions.

Building a More Sustainable Business into the Future

Indeed, your customer base may ultimately serve as your greatest ally as you work to bring sustainability to every corner of your business. Today’s eco-conscious consumers are typically excited to spread the word about trusted brands and companies that truly embody sustainable principles, especially via social media. Generally speaking, customers that value eco-friendly products rely on social media along with mouth when making mindful online purchasing decisions.

In many ways, sustainability is the embodiment of true corporate responsibility, and successful change agents should be ready to do their part. Prioritizing sustainability as the core of your business can help you get a leg up over the competition, and elevate your brand’s reputation well into the future. Yet it’s not enough to simply create a sustainable business model and implement it; you must also work to maintain sustainability in everything from your hiring practices to marketing, packaging, and the supply chain as a whole. 

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Getting Your Message to the People Who Need It

Starting a business or organization that has a core set of ethical, social, or environmental principles can be a rewarding prospect. Aside from the potential to create an emotionally and financially successful career, it also means that you have the opportunity to connect with people who align with your mission and you can genuinely have a positive impact on the world around you. However, part of your challenge is to make sure your message reaches the right people.

One of the reasons this can be so tricky is that our digital landscape has served to make the world more open to all of us. Organizations and businesses have access to larger audiences than ever before, and starting a viable company is easier. While this is positive, it also means that your company and, more importantly, your message will be vying for attention amidst a lot of noise in the online environment.

So, what can you do to overcome this communications challenge and reach the people who need to receive your message?

Understand Your Audience

The message that your organization or business wants to communicate to consumers is a core aspect of your operations. However, one of the mistakes that many companies in any industry make is trying to shout that message without understanding who is receiving it. For your idea to resonate, you have to both find your audience and use information about them to help them connect to it. As such, your first port of call is learning some more about who you’re trying to reach.

Undertake some research about your demographic. Even if your company doesn’t specifically sell items or services, it’s a good idea to create buyer personas about your intended audience. These are profiles that you build using insights about your demographic’s preferences — their online browsing behavior, the types of media they like to consume, how they interact with businesses or organizations, what devices they use to connect to the internet. This helps you identify the locations and methods to transmit your message that are most likely to resonate with your audience. It’s also notable that studies show that recipients are more likely to engage with you when your messaging and marketing strategy uses buyer personas.

Part of understanding your audience and how best to reach them is recognizing that they may have challenges in processing your message too. A lot of businesses overlook language accessibility. If you use too much jargon in your marketing materials or fail to present your information in a logical order, this may confuse your readers. Aim for clarity in your message and use vocabulary that will be familiar to your audience. Using plain language not only prevents you from excluding a percentage of your demographic, it also helps your audience connect to the meaning of your message.

Engage in Collaborations

It’s probably the case that you feel you have a unique perspective in your area of expertise. However, it is important to recognize that other organizations share your goals and have similar missions. This means that you don’t always have to approach the burden of getting your message out alone. By engaging in collaborations — in content, on social media, for events — there are opportunities to mutually benefit from one another’s resources and audience reach.

Your first step is to do some research to identify who the most suitable and effective collaborators will be. You certainly don’t want them to be your direct competition (if you have any), as this rather negates the point of banding together. Rather, look for companies with similar social interests and goals in adjacent industries. If you’re a non-profit app development company, for instance, partner with the types of businesses that use your apps. Influencers can be a useful collaboration resource here too.

However, in both cases you need to do a deep dive into your potential partners — not just into their marketing reach, either. You need to make certain that they have an authentic connection to the message you need to send. If their behavior is contrary to the values you purport to share, this can be damaging to your reputation and the credibility of the message.

Go Multimedia

Content marketing has become one of the most valuable ways in which companies and organizations can deliver their message to consumers. This involves producing marketing materials that don’t simply seek to advertise to the audience but provide value to them and encourage their engagement. This could be through entertaining videos, content that is educational in some way, or providing deep insights into interesting subjects. However, as different audiences have varied preferences for content, you can make a better impact by going multimedia.

This could include:

  • Podcasts

Making a podcast for your organization can be a great way to delve further into your message and the topics that surround it. They’re also an increasingly popular media across all generations of consumers. It doesn’t need to be an expensive endeavor; you can create a show with a computer, a microphone and pop filter, and audio editing software. However, you do need to take care in planning your podcast. Be clear about what format you want it to take — interviews with industry figures, narrative storytelling — and prepare scripts to keep your podcast clear and structured.

  • Blog Posts

There is often a misconception that blog posts aren’t as relevant as they once were. They are still a relevant and effective tool in your marketing strategy. They allow you to explore your message in-depth with your audience, and when combined with well-researched keywords they can help your search engine ranking. However, the key is always quality, relevance, and consistency. Make sure that the content of your blog is accurate and well-written to keep your visitors engaged. Make sure that there is a regular schedule for your posts, and make sure your audience knows when they can expect a new one.


The message that underpins your organization must be received and understood to make an impact. As such, you must place time and focus on gaining a deeper understanding of how your audience prefers to be communicated with and why. Occasionally partnering with other organizations can expand your reach, and creating multimedia content can ensure that your message is not just received, but engaging.

How Helping Your Community Helps Grow Your Business

A business is only as successful as the community it’s in. This may be a bit of an exaggeration, but generally speaking, it is beneficial to your business to support and contribute to its community. Whether you’re interested in volunteering, donating your time and money, or creating sponsorships, there are several ways to solidify your role as a positive figure within the neighborhood. And that’s good news if you hope to keep growing as a business. 

Social Responsibility is Great for Business

Community involvement can highlight your socially-responsible efforts and increase brand visibility. With the rise in more sustainable and ethical consumerism, particularly among Gen Z, customers will be looking for companies that reflect these goals. 

There is such a thing as corporate social responsibility (CSR). CSR, as explained by Northeastern University, is a business model that encourages social accountability and efforts that positively contribute to society and the environment. CSR essentially raises the standard for businesses looking to commit to more social and economic issues — especially large corporations. However, CSR initiatives can be utilized by any business, big or small, as long as you’re fairly well-established within the market. 

As those at Northeastern University go on to further explain, “Companies can engage in CSR activities, including making donations to social causes, attending charitable events, or sending executives and employees to volunteering events in the community. They can also implement long-lasting CSR efforts, such as reducing their carbon footprints with better manufacturing procedures and following ethical labor practices.” The idea behind CSR is not to completely dismantle traditional business models, but to enhance them to be better for society and the planet at large. 

While outfitting your business with a new CSR plan might not be possible right now, it is a goal worth working towards. It can improve your company’s public image, boost employee morale, and increase community engagement. Furthermore, if more businesses were to participate in CSR efforts, the easier it would be for others to follow suit. And the more CSR-focused businesses there are, the more chances we have to reduce our impact on the planet and our future. 

Building Trust Helps in Unsure Times

With the loss many businesses all over the country have taken due to the COVID-19 pandemic, having a sense of camaraderie throughout the community can provide some much-needed support. This support is especially helpful when having to make drastic changes to your business model in response to the pandemic. 

For example, some restaurants have had to switch exclusively to curbside or to-go services and attempt to increase gift card sales to make up for the loss of revenue from dine-in customers. With fewer people leaving their houses to go explore and a general decrease in tourism, chances to attract new would-be customers are now few and far between. It’s become the case where restaurants and other businesses have had to really lean on the local community to stay afloat.  

It’s usually a lot easier to integrate changes and adapt to times of crisis if you have an established place within your community. With acts of service, charity participation, and other positive initiatives, you build trust and loyalty and can have a direct impact on customers. These factors are essential for business growth post-COVID-19 and beyond.

Community Involvement Brings Employees Together 

Helping your community is also a great way to increase employee engagement, productivity, and job satisfaction. With as much teamwork volunteering and helping the community takes, it’s hardly surprising that employees tend to naturally form stronger bonds while giving back together. When it comes to daily interactions, tasks, and projects, oftentimes, employees are limited to just their department. Community and social efforts help lower those barriers though and can foster a different kind of working environment that extends beyond individual departments. This kind of teamwork is essential in hitting productivity and revenue goals. 

It’s also important to note that recent studies show that, regardless of income level, employees want more from their employers than just a paycheck. The values of a company and its culture are some of the main contributors to overall job satisfaction. By helping the community, you show your employees that you are invested in the issues that matter to them. This leads to fewer turnover rates, which can be costly for businesses. Community involvement is also an indication of quality leadership, another factor in employee happiness and retention. 

Showing your community that they can count on you isn’t just an objectively good thing to do, but it could one day mean the difference between success and failure. If you have been considering finding more ways to positively impact your community and have a more social responsibility, take this as your sign to get out there and start making changes.

Ensuring Your Green Initiatives Make a Difference

As consumers have become more aware of renewable resources, and of the impact that businesses have on the environment, the trend of companies touting the fact that they are “going green” or investing in renewable energy has grown. While sustainable businesses practices and the increased use of clean energy are admirable goals for any business to have, understanding what “green” truly means, and knowing the ways you are poised to make the best and longest-lasting impact will help you ensure that your company is truly choosing the most environmentally conscious initiatives to invest in. To build your business using an environmentally conscious model, there are several approaches to consider before jumping in, and the benefits of doing so can expand beyond your environmental impact, to the employees you attract, and supporting your local community.

In an economy that has companies vying for qualified employees, job hunters are looking for companies that align with and actively support their values, in addition to their career goals. Corporate social responsibility practices have become important focal points for companies, and many big-name corporations have established themselves as leaders in this regard, including Google and Microsoft. Ensuring that your green initiative is well-researched, impactful, and a part of your company’s story will help you reach an even larger pool of potential employees that align with, and reflect your goals.

The first step in becoming environmentally conscious is to understand what your options are for active changes you can make. You can invest in renewable energy, focus on reducing waste, and even align yourself with foundations to create a more far-reaching effect. Utilizing sustainable, renewable energy sources is a major first step for many companies in going green.

Invest in Sustainable Energy

Investing in basic sustainability measures and seeking out opportunities to utilize renewable energy can be extremely impactful to the environment and can save your company money. A great place to start is an energy audit. This will often come back with immediate ways to reduce energy waste like energy-efficient lighting and day-to-day electrical supply. This can be especially useful for companies that have multiple locations or warehouse storage.

Next, you will want to look into how your energy is sourced. Many companies are buying into solar and wind power, with wind power having created a 20% reduction in energy production costs between 2011 and 2012. Some power companies will let you buy wind credits, allowing you to actively support green energy, and ensuring that your energy is sourced from a sustainable resource.

Company-wide standards such as efficient lighting and utilizing the option to buy clean power are excellent places to build on. However, going green doesn’t just mean looking into how you keep the lights on. You can create a significant impact by making simple changes in office supplies, sourcing, and packaging.

Reduce Day-to-Day Waste

The average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of paper per year, and 45% of which end up in the garbage by the end of the day. One way to make an impact is to investigate both where your products are sourced, and how they are treated once they have served their purpose. Make sure to order goods made from recycled materials, including office paper, breakroom plates, and single-use plasticware, and search out solutions to general office needs that are created from recycled materials. If you sell physical products, consider their packaging and if you can create environmentally sustainable designs or bagging and purchasing options.

Another step in making the day-to-day requirements of business more environmentally friendly is to find solutions that address convenience-centered waste. A major source of landfill material is single cup coffee machines that use individually packaged, plastic cups of preground coffee. Even if you continue using the same machine, reusable filters and a can of coffee can make close to a thousand cups, both of which are often recyclable. This reduces not only the per-person waste produced but the overall investment in these damaging materials.

Recycling common office supplies goes far beyond paper and plastic. By recycling electronics that are no longer useable, a massive amount of energy can be saved. Recycling one million laptops saves enough energy to provide 3,500 households with electricity for a year, and reduces air and water pollution associated with their processing and breakdown. You can also invest in fixing faulty equipment rather than simply replacing it, donating out of date electronics to charities, and utilizing manufacturer recycling and replacement programs.

Find a Charity and Get Your Employees Involved

An excellent way to make a direct impact is to align yourself with a charitable cause that you trust and that is making an impact you believe in. You can do this through donation collection, donated services, or even diverting a portion of your sales every year directly to the organization of your choosing. All of these choices will give you the chance to rally your employees around your investment in environmental and local support efforts.

By making environmental and charitable awareness consistent parts of your business model, you can engage with your employees, and utilize their passions to make an even bigger impact. Sourcing recommendations for local organizations to partner with, fundraisers to run, or efforts to sponsor will make your employees feel valued, their passions recognized, and help you make a direct local impact. Finding a cause to support not only gives your entire company a communal charitable focus, but it makes a clear statement to the public about where your values lie.

With many people looking for impact careers, the charitable, environmentally aware changes that you are making to your company are going to affect more than just your light sources and your coffee machines. The investments that you choose to make become a part of your brand’s story, something that will influence investment decisions, partnership plans, and even hiring practices. By making these changes, you make a tangible, visible statement about what your company stands for, the values it upholds, and the impact that it wants to make on the world.

Further read:

Establishing a Culture of Collaboration and Growth in Your Business

The 21st-century has been an era of business transformation. Newfangled strategies, such as digital marketing, e-commerce, and growth hacking, have been all the rage. Companies have obsessed over how they can rocket to prominence and then sustain their success in order to become the new Google or Amazon of their particular industry.

And then, barely two decades into the century, the COVID-19 virus arrived on the scene and completely upset the apple cart.

How a 2020 Pandemic Completely Rewrote the Script

It’s not that technologically-driven progress stopped when the coronavirus broke out — on the contrary, the rush for businesses to shift their operations to online-only served to spur things along. However, it quickly became apparent that the rapidly deteriorating brick-and-mortar economy was creating nothing short of a new normal for business operations.

Perhaps the most jarring of these changes was the sudden rush to create fully remote offices. These had to function effectively and be productive without ever bringing employees into close proximity to one another.

While certain activities can be fairly easily shifted to an online format — such as sharing digital documents or using e-signatures — other traditional aspects of a physical office have been nearly lost in the transition. Of particular concern is the ability for coworkers to properly communicate, collaborate, and grow together over both the short- and the long-term.

If your company has found itself amongst the ranks of those trying to adapt to the remote-driven “new normal,” take heart! You’re not alone. Nor are you out of options. In fact, remote work teams have incredible potential. More than three out of four remote employees report that they are more productive when working from home and a robust 76% of them actually prefer to avoid the office when they need to concentrate on their work.

While the potential is clear, though, leaders and entrepreneurs must make an effort to properly tap into these benefits. Here are a few ways that you can ease the transition and ultimately take full advantage of your team’s new remote work setup.

Establishing Communication

The first and most important aspect of setting up a well-oiled remote system for your business is establishing healthy communication. The problem here doesn’t revolve around a lack of communication so much as an overabundance of it. There is an endless supply of channels, brands, and tools that your team can use.

With that said, one of the first steps that management should take is to establish clear communication guidelines for their team. You may have already done this to a degree, but codifying your decisions into formal guidelines is a wise option as well. A few things to include in your “remote work communication handbook” include:

  • What video, voice, and text platforms everyone should use: It doesn’t matter if you use Zoom, Skype, Trello, Asana, or anything else, however, you must choose your company’s communication tools and then stick to them.
  • Your preferred method of communication for various scenarios: Make sure that employees understand that they should use email for proposals, Zoom for larger meetings, Google Docs for marketing content, and so on.
  • What tools are required: Each employee should be aware of what hardware — i.e. a computer, camera, microphone — is required for your remote workspace and whether or not they can expect you to provide them.

Setting up clear guidelines is an excellent way to pave the path towards a functioning, healthy remote workforce.

Encouraging Collaboration

Once you have your channels of communication established, it’s important to take further steps to actively promote collaboration. Just because John can email a question to Sally doesn’t mean the two are going to spend time chatting, exchanging information, or brainstorming ideas together.

Watercooler talk and break-room chatter are both lost in a remote setting. Fortunately, there are a few ways that you can proactively reignite that collaborative spirit in order to keep your team working together and on the same page, including:

  • Setting up non-project-oriented opportunities: Assembling for a video chat to “shoot the breeze” or setting up a Slack channel for funny jokes and memes is a great way to help your employees maintain their relationships — and by extension their comfort levels and willingness to collaborate — with one another.
  • Providing virtual collaborative spaces: Consider setting up project management software, shared documents, and even a virtual idea board where employees can be encouraged to deposit thoughts and ideas.
  • Scheduling regular collaborative opportunities: Expect your teams to regularly gather remotely and discuss where they all stand on a particular project. This helps with accountability, thought-sharing, and collaboration, in general.

Collaboration is an essential aspect of prolonged remote success. As such, it falls to leaders and managers to ensure that it is always properly addressed.

Enabling Continual Learning

Finally, it’s crucial that you find ways to maintain a growth mindset throughout your remote-work journey. The concept revolves around a willingness to always be learning, adapting, and maintaining flexibility in an ever-changing work world.

There are many ways to enable your employees to grow, such as:

  • Actively seeking constructive, two-way feedback.
  • Setting up a remote class that you can all take together.
  • Providing resources for employees to seek further education in their field.
  • Creating group goals like learning how to use new software.
  • Communicating the importance of continual learning on a regular basis.

A growth mindset is absolutely required if you want your remote team to remain relevant and effective over time.

Maintaining a Healthy Remote Team

If you can create clear lines of communication, establish collaboration channels, and encourage a mindset of continual learning, you can set your remote team up for success. Not only does this enable you to survive the ups and downs in the short-term, but you will be able to realize prolonged success far into the future, regardless of your physical working situation.

The critical first step that must be taken, though, is for leadership within a company to recognize the importance of collaboration and growth in their company’s future. If you can assign a proper value to these easy-to-overlook concepts, you’ll be able to benefit from them for years to come.

Further read:

Storytelling in Anti-Human Trafficking Enterprises

It’s not just a job, it’s a calling and a project wrought with passion. A way to leave the world better than you found it, because right now, at this very moment, people are suffering. And the suffering is not in some far-flung corner of the globe. It’s here in our towns, on our streets, and in our very own backyards.

Human trafficking isn’t a myth or an anomaly. It’s not some cautionary tale from humanity’s more barbaric past. It is happening today, at this very moment. Studies show, in fact, that human trafficking is a thriving industry, with an estimated 46 million people currently enslaved at a value of more than $150 billion to the traffickers.

When you commit to fight to end this scourge, you may feel overwhelmed and paralyzed, not sure where to start. It begins with shining a bright spotlight on this monster who flourishes in the darkness. But how do you tell the stories of human trafficking without sensationalizing or exploiting survivors’ stories? How do you tell the truth in a way that will make a real, tangible difference in the lives of those who have survived and to those who are still struggling to survive?

This article provides specific strategies for telling the stories of human trafficking in a way that is both respectful and effective. It is important to get these stories out because survivors and those still enslaved don’t need your readers’ sympathy. They need their action.

Be Specific and Real

Readers are not going to respond to vague abstractions, platitudes, or sermons. You don’t need try to whip readers up into some emotional frenzy, histrionically trying to show them how wrong human trafficking is. They already know this.

What they don’t know are the specific stories of individual sufferers, and that is what they need to read. They need someone to humanize the problem for them, so that it is no longer just a faceless problem. The numbers can be overwhelming, after all, but being able to apply just one person’s story to those breathtaking statistics can make human trafficking “real” for your reader. If you feel like you’re not yet fully prepared to tackle these kinds of stories, consider taking classes or training yourself otherwise in the basics of being a better writer. After all, the way in which you present these important stories is going to have an effect on how they’re perceived — you’ll want to be performing at your very best.

Educate But Don’t Preach

Telling the stories of human trafficking is not just about inspiring action. It’s also about raising awareness. Make people note the simple fact is that human trafficking is going on all around us, all the time. We simply don’t see it because we don’t understand the signs.

Human trafficking rarely happens in the forms we imagine. Yes, the trafficking of girls and women for sexual purposes is a significant portion of the industry, and those are the stories that tend to be the ones that receive the vast majority of media attention, but boys and men are also routinely trafficked, and enslavement takes many forms. People may be trafficked, for instance, to be domestic servants or agricultural workers. They may be immigrants or refugees, but they may also be natural-born citizens. They may be children and teens, but there are also millions of adults and even elderly persons.

When you are telling the stories of human trafficking, be real but also be unexpected. Show the sides of human trafficking that people simply don’t know about. Every true story is a mini-lesson and every narrative is an education in the mechanisms of the industry that the traffickers don’t want us to know about.

With every story you tell, you are opening the reader’s eyes a little wider, making it that much harder for the traffickers to do their work in the darkness. If you can teach your readers to spot just one sign they may have otherwise missed, you could well save a life or many lives.

The Takeaway

Telling the stories of human trafficking is both a privilege and a responsibility. When survivors entrust you with their testimony, they do so because they trust that you will use it for a purpose and turn pain into power. When done well, it is no small task, but it can save lives. It can put the monsters, the perpetrators of such heinous acts, in cages where they belong. When you take on such a responsibility, however, it is important to be strategic.

You need to harness the techniques of good storytelling to ensure that your readers don’t just respond to your pieces with quickly passing emotion. You want them to be moved, to learn, and to act, so focus on specificity and concreteness. Put faces to the statistics. Give the names behind the numbers. Take care, also, to educate as well as incite. Try to figure out what your readers don’t know or understand about human trafficking, and use real stories to fill in those blanks. Above all, don’t fall into the temptation to sermonize. Don’t preach. If you tell the survivors’ stories well enough, your reader will get the lesson. They will make their own moral judgments and decide how to act. Trust the story to speak for itself, and trust your readers to listen.

How Companies Can Accommodate Three Different Generations of Workers

The concept of there being multiple generations working side by side in the workplace isn’t anything new. It’s always been that way ever since the ancient farmer brought his son out to the fields to teach him how to harvest their food. However, a good case can be made for the fact that we’ve never had a more diverse group of generations working in the same space together than we do right now. 

If you’re a business owner or a manager who is trying to accommodate and communicate with two, three, or even four generations at the same time, here are some suggestions for how to give everyone a fair shake as you go about coordinating activities and working together on a daily basis.

The Generational Differences of the Modern Workplace

Much of the diversity that can be seen in the modern workplace can be directly attributed to the technological age that we live in. While ancient farmer Joe and his son may have had identical career arcs a thousand years ago, the four generations currently occupying the workforce each have dramatically different stories.

Baby Boomers grew up in an industrial, post-World War II world where microwaves were incredible earth-shaking tools and businesses still stuck to long-held rules and guidelines.

Generation X followed in their wake as ground-breaking technology like computers and the fledgling internet began to have an early effect on how businesses worked.

Millennials came next, threading their way through a corporate landscape that was reacting to things like the smartphone, social media, and a Great Recession, to boot.

Finally, there’s Generation Z, a group of digital natives that are just starting to come into their own. They know no life outside of the internet, and they are already championing causes like corporate social responsibility and remote work.

This multi-generational workplace amalgamation has run circles around many managers who have struggled to accommodate such a historically unique mixture of beliefs and experiences. If you can relate to this struggle, here are some suggestions for ways to accommodate all four of these generations and still manage to meet those quotas, make your deadlines, and generally get your work done on a daily basis.

Study Everyone’s Values

It all starts with understanding. More often than not, discomfort and hostility arise from the fact that the parties in conflict simply misunderstand one another. As a manager, it’s important that you take the time to actually, genuinely understand what it’s like to walk in the shoes of a Baby Bommer, a Millennial, and so on. 

What makes each group tick? What do they prioritize? What do they value? For instance, Generation Z may be technically savvy, but did you know that over half of Gen Zers prefer to have face-to-face communication

If you take the time to understand the motivations, beliefs, and experiences of your workforce, you’ll be able to serve as a communicator and mediator as you oversee your staff’s daily interactions.

Listen Actively 

Active listening is a critical leadership skill, regardless of the situation. When it comes to the multi-generational question, though, it’s absolutely imperative. 

If your employees feel genuinely heard by you and you are able to reflect empathetic understanding back at them, it will open up communication channels. Particularly when you’re mediating disagreements or trying to communicate inter-organizational changes, take the time to hear your employees, listen to their feedback, and strive to understand what each person is going through. 

Is a Baby Boomer uncomfortable with a shift to remote work? Is a Millennial feeling upset that they have to report to work even though their job can be done remotely? Take the time to hear each person from their own generation’s perspective.

Look for Connection Points

As a boss, it’s always helpful to know where your staff intersects. Where do their beliefs line up? Where do their experiences relate? For instance, while Generation Z was already highlighted for their devotion to creating social purpose companies, it’s a cause that many Millennials also care about and genuinely embrace.

What about the fact that Millennials crave feedback and mentorship opportunities and Baby Boomers prefer less feedback? While these may sound diametrically opposed, the two generations can be teamed up, the one as a mentor and the other as a disciple, in order to accommodate the preferences of both groups.

Remember to Look to the Future

Finally, always remember that no matter who you’re talking to, everyone is going to be here when tomorrow rolls around. Whether you’re talking about a Baby Boomer preparing for retirement, a Gen Xer trying to step into a leadership capacity, a Millennial striving to buy their first house, or a Gen Zer getting comfortable at their next job, every generation is interested in helping to create a brighter future for both themselves and those around them.

This is reinforced by the fact that, regardless of the manmade generational grouping assigned to a particular individual, everyone is connected simply through the fact that we are all human. As a manager, you can take advantage of this connection by focusing your team’s efforts on building towards a happy, healthy world to bestow on the fifth-generation that will follow — and the sixth and seventh generations after that and so on. 

After all, building a better world is a rallying cry that everyone can get behind together.