I may be dating myself here, but if you're old enough to remember the days of ICQ and MSN Messenger, then you'll appreciate this one. Imagine for a minute if one day, you heard of this cool thing called Myspace. You could upload photos, videos, connect with other people, and become "friends". The more you used the app, the more you realized how amazing it was. By this point, you had used it so much that you had effectively left a bit of yourself on the internet forever — I digress.
But What If...
What if at every chance you had, you told your family, told your friends, co-workers, the cashier at the grocery store? What if you asked them to connect with you and become not only friends, IRL, but Myspace friends. And what if at the end of all of that, they all declined and never actually joined the platform? They didn't want to be your friend on the internet and see the custom homepage you coded for yourself by using your new-found knowledge of HTML code? You're all alone, let to travel the barren lands of the interweb all by yourself.
Work management tools are a lot like that today. There is typically one (sole) early adopter of a work management tool. They may be even got lucky and got one other co-worker to join the platform, but the rest of the office, including their boss, was reluctant to give it a chance.
Work management (or project management) tools like Asana, Teamwork, and Monday.com, were created to help teams get more done in a day while staying efficient and improving productivity across workspaces.
The issue of having your colleagues see the power of having (and using) a work management tool is that it's an uphill battle. You've seen opportunities to improve your team or department's speed, and efficiency and you want to shout it from the rooftops.
What is a work management tool?
A work management tool is a software platform where work and teams come together. With the workforce more displaced now than ever, teams need a way to connect and stay on the same page. Work management platforms like Asana help colleagues on remote and office-based teams remain aligned in their work.
For project managers, this helps them both see what's happening at a 30k foot view while having the ability to zoom in to see the work and the people connected to it.
Based on a recent study by Michael Mankins at Bain & Company (2017), some 60% of employees spend their day doing "work about work". 27% is spent doing "actually" skilled work, while the other 13% of our time is spent on strategy and planning. Not only that, but we spend approx. 162 hours in meetings, 352 hours talking about work, 209 hours on duplicate, and another 103 hours in unnecessary work meetings.
When we get started talking about "work about work", the biggest obstacles holding teams back from being more productive are spending too much time in emails, having too much on their plate, and trying to track down team members for their feedback on a project.
Work about work [wurk ah-bout wurk]
Noun — The activities that take away from meaningful, skilled work including communicating about work, searching for information, switching between apps, managing shifting priorities, and chasing the status of work. (Asana)
Work management tools help us better align our work with the projects and goals we're all trying to achieve.
Why do we need work management tools?
Business owners are savvier than ever. They have so many different tools and places that work happens. The problem becomes more about tech overload, duplicating work, talking about work, and underutilizing the very software they continue to pay for each year.
Some tools are used for storage. Some are used for communication — others for collaboration. Some are even used when we need to bring out our creative side. But one aspect that businesses often overlook is how to create coordination within the organization. They have no way to effectively manage the work that is being done within the company.
This "work about work" can have huge impacts on your teams, your organization, and your customers.
Remember, you need to crawl (and then walk) before you can run. If you think that you're going to win over your entire department and executives upstairs by ramming it down their throats, you're wrong.
Adopting a work management tools can sometimes have a steep learning curve. Along with the work you and your team need to deliver, you're also asking many people to change how they work and have worked for a long time to learn something new. You're asking them to adopt a different way of doing the things that detracts from their usual way of getting work done. Depending on your organization's size, you'll want to start slow by trying it with a colleague (preferably a member of your team) to give the new platform a try.
Get used to collaborating on work, communicating about the work, and returning to the tool every day.
Repeat Yourself...A lot
You're going to need to get comfortable talking about the tool and your use of it as often as possible (Even if you end up sounding like a broken record). Hearing the name of the tool, how it works, and how it helps you work smarter need to be heard repeatedly. At Ditto, we say, "if it's not in Asana, it didn't happen." We talk about it as much as possible. When we're in a meeting, the typical request when asked to do something is "assign it to me, and I'll get it done."
Reminding your team not only that the tool is there, but why it's there is one surefire way to start building the popularity of the tool. Speaking about the tool and showing your team members how you're using it to get through your day is a great way to help them to understand why the tool needs to be adopted.
As we know, everyone is busy and often may not remember or think to look back at that email you sent about "this new PM tool called Trello." Give them subtle (or direct) reminders of the tool and its power for good (and not evil.)
Instill Best Practices
Sign in every morning. When you get to your workstation, wherever that is, be sure to sign in to the tool. If you're leading the charge, then you've probably already got the app on your mobile device as well. Let your co-workers know you're signing in and reminding them to do the same (even if you have to use email or SMS messaging.) Ensuring everyone at least has the app open in a tab in their browser is the first step towards full adoption.
Another way to help your team get used to seeing the tool is by asking them to turn on their browser and mobile device notifications and update their email notification preferences in the app. As work happens within the tool, your co-workers (after choosing to be notified) and the up-to-the-minute status of their work also connect. Seeing the notification pop up, or as they're scrolling through email, see notes and messages about the work will eventually have them curious as to what they might be missing "on the outside."
One final (and most important) step to having your team buy-in to your new work management tool is to stick with one (for a while) and really put it through its paces. You'll need to be open to remaining flexible and changing the tool if your work management tool of choice isn't the best solution for your team. Jira may not be the right work management tool for your team. Basecamp may be the better option.
The important thing to remember is that the goal was and is always to align teams and create clarity around the work done inside of the organization. If you were on the side that led the charge towards productivity and breaking down work silos, then you should pat yourself on the back.
All great teams have one thing in common: individuals coming together to solve a specific problem. Think back to a time when you and your team were in the zone—time flew by, shared efficiency inspired the team, and made workflow almost effortless. From now on, the critical point is making sure that all of that amazing work is happening in the same place.
What's the ROI of a Work Management Platform?
Asana, A global study.