May 9 / Helen Bryant

What is your team's digital tool stack?

Clarity on what digital tools your team use will improve collaboration and productivity

Every team needs to know how they work together. Spending a little time discussing and agreeing on what digital tools to use and for which tasks, can help prevent communication overload, and help the team work better together.

Watch this #HybridWorkTip to discover the 5 steps that you need to follow to nail your team's digital tools.
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Read the transcription here
This week’s hybrid work tip is all about the digital tool stack you need in place to improve collaboration within your team. Now digital tools are a massive enabler to all work but particularly when you're working remotely, or in a hybrid manner. To work well, you need to have intentionality about what will you use for what, and everybody needs to follow the same protocol. 
The symptoms of not doing this well people in my workshops talk about all the time. Over 100 emails a day, spending a couple of hours a day permanently trying to empty their inbox. Sending documents instead of links so that there's never a perfect version of the truth, and somebody's updated the document it turns out you were looking at version 58 and apparently, we're now on version 62!! You also see it if you have a WhatsApp to say, 'have you got my email?' 
It's inefficient because there's a lack of clarity about what digital tool we're using when, and what is the agreed protocol within the team on how you all work together.
Think Hub and Spoke
I think the best way to think about it is like a hub and spoke.  Phil Simon talked about this in his book Reimagining Collaboration, and for me, when I read this, it was suddenly apparent. The hub and spoke concept made it so simple to understand.
Hub is your core tools. These are tools for everybody across the business users, and essentially, you need three key things all agreed, and everybody stays on.
First, it is a communication tool beyond email, so this is MS Teams or Slack. This is all about making communication transparent and topic-related communication instead of an email box which is full of every single topic under the sun. It's much more efficient and helps you to keep focused.
The second thing is your video conferencing so that you're really clear which video conference tool you use and then you can spend time really getting the most out of the functionality that is available to you.
The third thing is clarity on your shared drive, so where you store your documents and files and the file naming protocol that exists between you. This makes it really easy to find any given shared documents
 
Spoke = Functional Tools
The spoke is any functional tool that you may be using, functional or role-specific. This could be a project management tool like Trello that helps workflow move through, or you could work in sales, and it's a CRM system, or you might be like my brother in law who works in logistics, and therefore it might be the customs system or the planning system. These would be your spokes and need to integrate as much as possible into the hub, the core tools. The more you can link and create automation between these to keep the things all linked together the better. it will increase transparency, and accountability and save you time.  It takes time to set up the way of working digitally together but is well worth it for the time-saving element alone.

So how do you set this up with your team? There are five steps that I think if you and your team followed would automatically improve the collaboration and the efficiency within the team and it doesn't even take that long to do.

#1 List what you use for what activities

 Together, list all the digital tools you are using and what you use them for. What you'll discover, as typically happens in my workshops, is that you rapidly find there's a level of duplication and a lack of consistency 

#2 Discuss

Step 2 is to discuss between yourselves what are the pros and cons. For example, what works well and what causes problems, what are some of the ways that people are using tools? you will find that some members of the team might not know that specific functionality even exists. Discuss what's working and what's not and what are the pros and cons of the tools you use.

#3 Decide 

Step three is then to decide what you're going to use for what.  Remember it's a choice. It really is a choice but we can be constantly pursuing the next shiny, new thing. You can just achieve much better productivity by making a choice and then working within that framework that you agreed with your teammates.

When you have decided make sure you write it down. Have a shared document that  keeps visible what you have decided to use.

#4 Commit

It doesn't work if everybody is going to keep their favourite tool, 'I still want to do this way'. Everybody has to commit and agree that they're all going to give this a go and try it for the next four or six weeks and see what happens. 

#5 Review

Step five is to review.  So you're testing and trying out until you and your team find the best way of using the digital tools that help you the most.

That's it. Every time I do this with the team, they make improvements in productivity and alignment because they have absolute clarity in what they use for what. No more overwhelm and frustration, improved accountability and transparency, and as result, they work better together.

Try this out and let me know how you get on. Reach out if you have a question.
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Hi There!
I'm Helen Bryant

I'm a corporate trainer and coach. On a mission to share the valuable collaboration and leadership lessons to help you thrive in the new world of work.
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