I am always amazed at the quality of computer skills those that are looking for work have, or don’t have. We use Excel a lot and test for it when hiring. Most applicants say their skills are rusty, but in reality can’t even create a simple 9-cell spreadsheet. What amazes me even more is that there are some owners that lack computer skills. Granted many are older and have never learned the skills but unfortunately they aren’t interested in learning them either. I believe solid computer skills are absolutely required of anyone who wants to have a career in business or management. I recently was assigned a new loan officer at my bank. That loan officer didn’t do email. How is that even possible today?
No matter your age, you simply must have solid computer skills and keep them current to be effective.
There are training courses and you should go. Bring along as many employees as is feasible. Not only will they learn, but sending them for training makes them feel better about themselves and about you as a boss for investing in them.
These are common computer-skill gaps:
- Apple vs PC. The reality is that the world still talks PC. I personally think the Apple tools are much more intuitive and powerful, especially for audio, video and graphic/photo works. The business world talks Excel and Word and you need to be able to talk that talk as well. Yes, Apple can use these, but I routinely get files created on an Apple and they aren’t compatible. Keep your Apple for creative tasks, but make a PC your workhorse. Also, you cannot do the required tasks on your cell phone!
- Email client. You can’t manage email on a web based platform effectively and efficiently. Outlook is a great option for your PC.
- Inability to use the internet effectively. You must know how to successfully search the internet.
- Poor file/folder structures for documents. Some create a folder for every topic with no rhyme or reason or they save every folder and document onto their desktop. Some are just more organized about the logic of such a system, but some can’t work through it. After 20 years using a computer, I have over 100,000 documents saved, and can find almost anything instantly, using the file structure, not the search function. Email folders should resemble document folders.
- Poor work habits concerning email. Having thousands of emails in your inbox that makes you scroll up and down looking for the email you want. You have no perception of what remains to be done. The inbox should be for items that aren’t handled. After it’s handled, it should be moved to a folder or deleted. 10-20 emails in your inbox is a good goal.
- Saving everything in a printed file. Inability to scan and save a document.
- Failure to save documents into folders. Just leaving them attached to emails.
- Bad digital image and photo skills. No understanding of taking digital photos, saving them, reducing them in size for email, using a thumb drive, or uploading up or down from a cloud
- Failure to have a system for the way they name and save files. They lose or overwrite files. My staff saves every document with a date in the name.
- Inability to use track changes in Word. This is a big danger sign, as it takes 2 minutes to learn this.
Whose fault is it if you have an employee with bad computer skills? Look in the mirror. You hired them in all likelihood. Did you test? But after that, why haven’t they been sent for training? Depending on what they need, send them for training weekly until they are up to speed. In my experience, you can train too fast. Excel is complex. Don’t send them to basic class one day and an advanced course next week; the training has to soak in.
As an owner, you should lead by example and know how to do what you expect them to know how to do.
Remember only you can make business great!
Ron Sturgeon, Mr. Mission Possible, has been a successful business owner for more than 35 years. As a small business consultant, he can deliver wisdom and advice gleaned from an enviable business career that started when he opened a VW repair business as a homeless 17-year-old and culminated in the sale of several businesses he built to Fortune 500 companies.
Ron has helped bankers, lawyers, insurance agents, restaurant owners, and body shop owners, as well as countless salvage yard owners to become more successful business people. He is an expert in helping small business owners set the right business strategies, implement pay-for- performance, and find new customers on the web.
As a consultant, Ron shares his expertise in strategic planning, capitalization, compensation, growing market share, and more in his signature plainspoken style, providing field-proven, and high-profit best practices well ahead of the business news curve. Ron is the author of nine books, including How to Salvage More Millions from Your Small Business.
To inquire about consulting or keynote speaking, contact Ron at 817-834-3625, ext. 232, rons@MrMissionPossible.com, 5940 Eden, Haltom City, TX 76117.