consistency

Building Trust in Business with a Consistent Approach

For a worker, one of the most maddening things that can happen at work is when there is a lack of consistency with the leadership. It can throw a figurative wrench into everything that you are trying to accomplish. Some examples of people not being consistent include:

 

  • Not doing something when they say they will.
  • Not showing up to meetings on time or at all.
  • Creating business processes without announcing changes and then expecting people to know what to do without being briefed.
  • Promising new services without checking if the company can deliver.
  • Guaranteeing success without a plan to do so.

 

Inconsistency can cause turnover, inefficiency, poor customer service and support, and many other poor results. It affects workers, customers, and even potential customers. Today, we thought we’d take a look at how consistency is important.

Consistency Shows Respect

We might as well start at the most troubling part of being inconsistent when you run a business: it shows a complete lack of responsibility. As a business owner, your staff has to take your lead and your customers make commitments based on your word. If you are just flying by the seat of your pants in every situation, the lack of consistency will be apparent.

 

Many people take an inconsistent approach, especially one that shows a lack of interest in the issue at hand, to be a giant slap in the face. The best leaders are the ones that lead by example. Doing the right things for your staff and for your customers will be reciprocated at a very high percentage. Building trust has to be on the short list of any organizational leader’s to-do list, so setting the tone and being consistent can really help establish trust.

Consistency Creates a Culture of Accountability

When you work with other people, there has to be some accountability taken by each member of the team, especially in a management capacity. If you are managing people and they have inconsistent results, you wouldn’t say they were doing a good job, would you? The same goes for when you are managing people. If you bring inconsistent leadership, you will get mixed results, inflated costs, and a general lack of productivity.

Consistency Allows for Useful Analysis

One often overlooked reason to prioritize a consistent approach is that if things are done consistently then you can get reliable metrics for any analysis you are going to do. It may take some time to build consistency with new platforms, but after some time (at least three months), if the issue you are trying to measure has been carried out consistently, after a pretty short period of time it will give you the notion if it is working or if it isn’t.

Consistency Defines Your Business

Nowadays businesses do more to manage their reputation than at any other period in business history. They have to, they are exposed in ways older businesses weren’t. If customers and workers get a fair shake and find that your business’ processes are carried out consistently, the negativity will be muted. Consider a Major League Baseball Umpire. His job is to call balls and strikes, and he may have a wider or taller strike zone, but if he constantly calls the same pitches a strike, hitters won’t complain too much.  Your business can still be innovative and do things outside the box, but if you change things repeatedly with no warning, people are going to get frustrated.

 

How consistent is your business? What do you think the most important part about being consistent is? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below and return to our blog for more great business and technology advice.

keep security in mind

Companies Need to Keep Their Vendors’ Security In Mind

Data breaches have a tendency to destabilize relationships. With so many data-related problems befalling businesses nowadays, it is important that each side of every data-driven relationship understands their role in the protection of other organizations’ data. Today, we’ll take a look at the issue and how to determine if your partners are putting in the effort required to keep your data secure.

Are Your Vendors Properly Protecting Your Information?

We’ve seen businesses have a litany of challenges protecting their sensitive data over the past several years, and as threats get more sophisticated it poses more problems. Additionally, many businesses outsource a fair amount of their operational and support efforts and that can have a negative effect on their security.

 

So, how do you know that your vendors are protecting your information?

 

You ask them, of course.

 

Before you onboard any new vendor, you should come up with a questionnaire that asks the right questions about how they handle their own cybersecurity, and more specifically (and importantly) how they go about handling your information.

 

At Point North Networks, we do this for all of our clients to ensure that they are partnering with reliable companies that, at the very least, are attempting to do the right things to protect sensitive information.

Questions You Should Ask Your Vendors

The first thing you should consider when making up some questions to ask your vendors about security is: do you understand the answers? If you don’t know what you are doing, you could just assume any thoughtfully answered response would be sufficient. This is far from true and is a liability, especially in trying to ascertain what risk your business is facing by doing business with a company. We can’t stress enough that if you don’t have someone that knows what they are doing, you need to find someone, as this will serve you much better in times like this.

Let’s go through a couple of important questions you should ask if you do have the competence available to sufficiently measure risk from the answers:

 

  1. Do you collect, store, or transmit personally identifiable information (PII)?
  2. If so, do you store your PII onsite or in the cloud?
  3. How do you provide users access to the PII you store?
  4. Can PII be accessed remotely?
  5. Do you constantly monitor all services, systems, and networks?
  6. What regulatory bodies does your business operate under? Do you have proof of compliance?
  7. What kind of encryption do you use for data-at-rest? Data-in-transit?
  8. Do you consistently patch your software?
  9. Do you have mobile device management and IoT management systems?
  10. Do you utilize legacy systems that aren’t supported by manufacturers?
  11. What cybersecurity tools do you use?
  12. Do you have language in your agreements about vendor cybersecurity?
  13. How are your continuity systems?
  14. How would you go about the situation in the event of a data breach?
  15. What authentication procedures do you use?
  16. Do you train your employees on the best practices of cybersecurity?

 

There are many more questions you can ask, and you should ask them if you find them necessary. Vetting your vendors is a great way to know if they have your best interests in mind.

 

If you would like to partner with a company that not only has your best interests in mind, but also can help you ascertain if your other partners do as well, give Point North Networks, Inc., a call at 651-234-0895 today.

remote work

Remote Work is Not Without Its Issues… How Can They Be Addressed?

The COVID-19 pandemic brought with it no small amount of uncertainty, including amongst business owners who were looking at a very up-in-the-air future. With so many lacking the technology needed to support remote operations—never mind the fact that remote work was a new concept for so many—the learning curve was a considerable hurdle. However, with vaccines being administered and restrictions lifted, it now becomes critical to find a balance.

How Work Needs to Shift

Despite many business owners resisting remote work on principle, it quickly became the only viable option for some organizations to remain open. Most of these businesses and their owners will want to return to the way things were before—but this may not be practical for some time, if ever. A study has revealed that more than 70 percent of employees who needed to suddenly shift to remote operations are hoping to see some of this flexibility carry over—even though half of these employees are also waiting to return to the office with anticipation.

While this may seem strangely counterintuitive, that much is to be expected.

The ongoing global health crisis turned most of the world on its head, including many impressions about remote work. While the escape of sorts from the office may have initially been a welcome change, the reality of the home environment and its additional responsibilities soon set in. While these employees don’t necessarily want to rush back into the office completely, remote work hasn’t agreed with them as well as may have been expected.

This experience has not been consistent for everyone, either.

Many business leaders are having a far easier time than their subordinates are, simply because of the disconnect that often occurs in remote work setups. In an office, it is much easier to pick up on the trend when someone is having a hard time. When a team is working remotely, these kinds of issues become more difficult to detect.

So, to compare…

Decision makers are earning more, enjoying their time more, and are more flexible in their work as they operate remotely, while the people they’ve hired are often overworked, unappreciated, and simultaneously abandoned while being told that a “familial work atmosphere” is important.

Poorly Managed Remote Operations Also Breed Stagnation

Your employees aren’t the only ones who will have a tough time with poorly-planned remote operations—your entire business could potentially see some drawbacks. Operating out of a centralized, shared location just makes it more convenient for team members to collaborate, which increases the quality of their communications and decision making.

Meanwhile, a year’s worth of remote conferencing has many people sick of it, just doing as much work as they need to so it can be considered “done.” In other words, without the face-to-face interaction of the office, many employees might become complacent.

In turn, the business could become complacent as well.

Making the Hybrid Office Work

Let’s look to the (hopefully) near future, when the restrictions that many businesses are subject to can be relaxed somewhat. Naturally, businesses are going to want their team members to come back at optimum productivity, operating from the place of business once again. Some people look forward to this, others, not quite so much.

As a result, many businesses will likely adopt a more hybrid approach to work, allowing greater access to remote work. Sounds pretty good, but it isn’t that simple.

There are a lot of questions that you’ll have to answer to do this. For instance, how many days will each team member be required to come into the office? One study polled executives to reveal that 68 percent of them would like to see their teams in-house at least three days out of each workweek. Workers conversely placed the maximum requirement at three days per week, with each employee’s responsibilities factoring into their requirement.

Globally, there is also a vast difference in how urgent in-office operations seem to different countries. In the U.S., 22 percent of executives see a return to the office as a priority. Similar companies in Canada, Germany, Japan, and China disagree, with fewer than five percent agreeing.

Unfortunately, the only thing that’s certain about this kind of hybrid work model is how uncertain we are about any of it. How will it impact the many metrics that a business is concerned about—from its culture to its productivity to its employee retention? What is the best option?

Frankly, there isn’t any single correct answer, simply because each business has its own unique situation.

Point North Networks, Inc., is here to help you balance out your business’ situation with IT tools and solutions so that your team members can perform the way you need them to. Give us a call at 651-234-0895 to find out what we can do for you.