Business Security

Investing in your IT team can increase your bottom line in 2020

Avast Business Team, 14 January 2020

Learn how to keep a security team motivated and engaged in today’s challenging industry

It’s a pressure cooker for the IT and security channel today — a threat landscape that serves up constant surprises, tighter customer budgets, solution complexity requiring even more time, and then that thing called the “margin.”  

Up against these hurdles, if you’re running a managed services or managed security services business, the last thing you need is a drop in your team’s morale, motivation, and performance — or even worse, a sudden exit from your company. 

The cybersecurity industry, digitization, and the evolving workplace can often serve as a motivator for some employees , while being too overwhelming for others. The reality is that engaged employees produce results. 

Are you making the time to invest in your team and drive engagement?  Do you know where to start? It could be easier than you think. 

Building your brand depends on investing in your people 

Your teams are a powerful resource for your business. These individuals are your company’s ambassadors, ready to believe in your vision, build the brand, and contribute to growing a successful company.

And this is more critical than ever before. Staying relevant in the fast-paced digital era not only requires the technology skills and the right product portfolio, but a laser focus on customer service. Who better to deliver that than the people on your front lines?

It’s not hard to see the correlation between investing and results. In fact, as Fortune’s annual list of the best companies to work for shows, companies like Hilton, Salesforce, and Workday are just a few of the global brands that have made investments in their employees to build happy, productive workforces and increase recurring revenue.  

It’s time this same focus is applied to managed IT and security services.

Leadership is key

Leadership often inspires engagement. For example, factors like how you choose to manage and reward your team and the culture that you create for your workplace are instrumental in laying a smart foundation that demonstrates your commitment to your team.  And research supports this — in fact, a recent human resources survey revealed that 74% of employees believe leadership style is the greatest influencer of employee engagement.  

Truly investing in your team — that is, taking an interest in your people, beyond sales results and bottom line numbers — is worth the effort.  Yet, only 28% of respondents in the HR survey viewed their leaders as highly skilled at fostering engagement. For an IT service provider or reseller, positive engagement can be the difference in driving a new customer win and continuously producing recurring revenue.

But how do I get started? 

If you’re running a small business, you may already have a good level of engagement — 78% of employees at companies with less than 250 team members are highly engaged — but the key is demonstrating a consistent and genuine investment in your team.  

So the question becomes, how will you engage your employees, invest in their skills and unique talents, and build a powerful brand in the managed services and security space?

Methods differ depending on management style, team skills and characteristics, and business goals.  But there are a few realistic steps you can take to kickstart the journey.

Four ways to invest in your team

Establish trust and communication 

Establishing trust shows your team you are confident in their skills and potential — and that motivates and inspires people.  Demonstrating trust doesn’t come overnight — it’s hard work made even more challenging by the fast pace of daily business. 

Building trust begins with being honest and supportive. Create a safe and supportive environment by communicating with team members.  Make time for each team member, no matter how brief. Connect and communicate, even if it’s a quick coffee or lunch, or a 10-minute walk outside.  

Be consistent and schedule time to connect on a regular basis, and use that time in smart ways.  Ask about their week and current challenges. How are they feeling about where the business is going? How can you improve in terms of being a manager? How can you better support them?  Share insights about the business.

The time and conversations you have will help you understand your team. In return they will be able to see your interest in their role and contributions.

Empower and delegate

Your team members are your ambassadors. How are you helping them get to the next level? How are you inspiring them to be better?

Delegating new projects with greater responsibilities is a great place to start.  Assign a project with a goal and timeline, something key to the business goals. Assigning new tasks and projects  motivates team members to excel and contribute. It also starts taking things from your plate so you can make progress as well.

Empowering teams is a win-win for everyone — Google listed it among the top 10 characteristics of best managers.

Be strategic in terms of what you ask them to take on. Understand not only their current tasks and responsibilities, but also the challenges they face and how they view success. Where do they feel they shine? Are there areas where you can better support them? 

Take a real interest, and be realistic and genuine about the path for them. 

Coach and train

Fostering an environment where learning, improvement, and career advancement can happen is a smart investment and will lead to a stronger, more competitive business. 

How is your team staying updated on industry best practices, sales techniques, and technologies? What training  and continuing education courses do you have in place today? Are you investing in internal training programs? What things are you putting in place to challenge, motivate, and ensure continuous improvement?

If you currently have training programs in place, are they effective for every team member? Do they align with your business goals? 

Investing in your people not only requires building trust and empowerment, but also making the right investments in sales and technical training. Get started by reflecting on the strengths of your business, where your service model really shines, the challenges, and the direction you’re taking for this year, next year, and beyond. Then review the skill sets and responsibilities of team members. What does your team need and want to improve?  

Is there training you would recommend? LinkedIn’s 2019 Workplace Learning Report shows 75% of employees would take a course suggested by their manager.  The same study revealed that 94% of employees say they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their learning.

Discuss training with team members and gather their feedback so your learning investment will be strategic and rewarding for everyone.

Reward good performance

Feedback, recognition, and praise are powerful motivators that drive engagement. Continually showing your support through positive, constructive feedback and rewards may even boost productivity. One study showed that 40% of employees would put more energy into their work if they were recognized more often.

Acknowledging  your team’s contributions, big and small, on a regular basis can be as simple as a callout during a meeting, stopping by a team member’s desk, or scheduling a coffee or lunch. Rewards can take any shape — whether it’s extra time off, catered lunches, occasional remote work, a bonus, even covering costs for training — but ensure it’s thoughtful and relevant for your team.  

You may soon see that investing in a consistent rewards effort can make a tremendous difference in morale, motivation, and engagement.

Start investing in your people today

If you want to take your company to the next level and boost those security service revenue numbers, start investing in your people.  Making time to invest in your team is a smart strategy for building an engaged, motivated skilled workforce that will take your brand and business to new heights.

The key is taking time each day to connect and communicate with team members. Build trust by showing your support and sharing your insights. Look for ways to delegate projects that will challenge and empower employees — empowerment that builds strong employees and delivers business benefits.  Ensure there is coaching and training in place to improve sales skills, learn new technologies, and stay current with best practices. And finally, recognize contributions on a regular basis.

Ready to start investing? For a limited time, Avast Business is offering FREE training modules (a regular cost of  $700 per user) for current and new partners. Use this training and develop new sales skills, increase close rates, drive growth — and demonstrate your continual investment in your team. Specifically designed for MSPs and IT solution providers, your team will benefit from the actionable insights, specific sales examples, and smart ways to build a higher-revenue business.

Learn more