Three ways to manage your team better with Outlook
Over the past few days, I’ve been working with groups to improve their productivity using Microsoft Outlook. In my 14 years of teaching Microsoft Office, Outlook, to me, is the most underused productivity program in the entire Office suite.
Contrary to what many people think, Outlook isn’t just for email and your own time management needs. It can be used greatly when managing a team or leading a project among your colleagues when a larger program such as Project might be overkill. Here are three ways you can use Outlook to make your management tasks easier.
1. Share contacts
Some businesses, especially sales, and those that are very customer orientated, need to share their contacts. Have you ever had the problem where a key contact usually only communicates with one staff member, and when they’re sick or absent, nobody knows their contact details and you’re stuck?
This doesn’t happen if you keep a regularly updated contacts database in Outlook and share it as you would business cards. You can moderate the access if necessary to make sure that the right teams of people have the right contacts, and for the right business reasons. Effective teams using Outlook have one central location where all team contacts are stored and accessed without reliance on any one person.
2. Manage your meetings with the calendar
Leaving a post-it note on someone’s desk as a reminder may work — but only if they see it. One could also take the physical note off their monitor, lose or forget about it. This doesn’t happen with Outlook if reminders are established remotely. Rather than have a post-it or a dependence on one team member to manage meetings, your team will be reminded with a pop-up on their screen. Your members can “snooze” it and it will remind them later, but the software will be persistent! Your meeting appointments themselves can be managed more effectively through Outlook. If you have a group email address for your team, then share each other’s calendars and check when someone is available, rather than sending a redundant invitation to a meeting that won’t get picked up. People can also choose whether to attend, tentatively attend or decline a request to come to a meeting, preventing you from booking rooms that won’t get used, and allowing you to focus on the content of the meeting itself rather than trying to organize the logistics. One of my favorite elements of this feature is “find a meeting”. This allows Outlook to automatically review your entire team’s calendar and select a date and time when everyone is available without the usual back-and-forth when deciding a meeting time.
3. Make quick decisions with voting
The voting feature is not a well-known feature in Outlook but a valuable one. Want to know how many people are free to come to the team’s Christmas party this year? Do a vote. Outlook has the facility and will count the results for you. This, of course, is best used for minor activities rather than full-scale votes such as those that take place when seconding and putting forward minutes at a meeting, but it can still be extremely useful in the day-to-day running of the office. Putting out a vote also makes your staff and colleagues feel more included and like they have a say in the running of the workplace, something that will only ever increase morale and encourage feedback.
Outlook can help you and your team share contacts, speed up communication, plan meetings, as well as monitor the progress of projects. It is worth taking a few minutes to look at how you use Outlook and find out if it can help you to streamline your work, save you time and improve your business outcomes.
If you already use Outlook, why not get the most out of it?
You can benefit from attending the upcoming Outlook Efficiency workshop on Thursday, July 13th. Learn how to efficiently deal with interruptions, keep track of appointments, manage tasks — in other words, make your entire day and team more productive. To learn more contact me at [email protected]
• Listed in The Nassau Guardian’s Top 40 under 40”, Keshelle Davis is a skills development expert and authority on corporate, business and personal success training in the Bahamas. She is the CEO of The Training Authority, an entrepreneur and internationally recognized speaker and author. Formerly she served as executive director of the Chamber Institute – the education arm of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation (BCCEC) and has impacted thousands through her mission is to educate, empower and inspire. Contact Keshelle at [email protected].