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Showing posts from September, 2010

Definitions Of Key Business Terms

We talk about, read about and hear about "customers," "mission," and "customer value" all the time and perhaps sometimes we struggle with fully understanding the best definition of those terms. I like Peter F. Drucker's definitions: Customers -- Those who must be satisfied in order for the organization to achieve results.  The primary customer is the person whose life is changed through the organization's work.  Supporting customers are volunteers, members, partners, funders, referral sources, employees, and others who must be satisfied. Customer Value -- That which satisfied customers' needs (physical and psychological well-being), wants (where, when, and how service is provided), and aspirations (desired long-term results). Mission -- Why you do what you do; the organization's reason for being, its purpose.  Says what, in the end, you want to be remembered for.

Be A Manager Who Makes Decisions

A manager who can't make a decision or who can't make a timely decision will frustrate his/her employees. Equally bad, a lack of decision will impede the progress of the manager's team. Some managers make endless requests for data as a way to postpone their having to make a decision. Employees end up spinning in circles, slicing and dicing the information far beyond what is truly needed for the manager to make a decision. Some managers are simply afraid to make a decision in fear of making a "wrong" decision. These managers don't necessarily request needless data, but simply just never decide. Successful managers gather the data from their employees, make any truly necessary follow-up requests (probing beyond what their employee may have researched/gathered on their own), and then make their decision...knowing that in virtually all cases most decisions are not black and white "right or "wrong," but are the best decisions made at that ti

How To Create A "Best Places To Work" Company

Overland Park, Kansas-based author Leigh Branham, along with Mark Hirschfeld, recently completed a survey of 10,000 employees in 43 states to better understand what separates a "best places to work" company from other companies.  What Branham and Hirschfeld discovered is that the best companies use six "universal drivers" that maximize employee engagement: Caring, Competent, and Engaging Senior Leaders Effective Managers Who Keep Employees Aligned and Engaged Effective Teamwork at All Levels Job Enrichment and Professional Growth Valuing Employee Contributions Concern for Employee Well-Being Branham also explains that to get the best from your employees you need to re-engage them. You can learn more about how to do that in his latest book, Re-Engage .

How Sports (Or Band) Can Make You A Better Leader

LinkedIn members continue to offer their insights on my recent discussion question about whether playing high school and/or college sports can help to make you a better business leader.  I particularly found the following insightful from a discussion participant.  She said: " I participated in both athletics and band while in school. I'm not sure if this made me a better leader but it did make me a better team mate. My soccer coach grilled us about communicating on the field and if we didn't we ran laps. This lesson has been invaluable in my adult life. "Band taught me to keep step with my colleagues and pay attention to what's going on around me. "Most importantly I learned what it was like to be a champion and what it was like to be in last place. If you know these feelings you will always work hard to be on the winning side. Being a great leader starts with being a great team mate."

How Do You Answer These Leadership Questions?

Open Leadership author Charlene Li reminds leaders to periodically ask themselves these "open leadership skills assessment" questions: Do I seek out and listen to different points of view? Do I make myself available to people at all levels of the organization? Do I actively manage how I am authentic? Do I encourage people to share information? Do I publicly admit when I am wrong? Do I update people regularly? Do I take the time to explain how decisions are being made? Thanks for these great questions, Charlene!

Good Sample Business Principles

I really like these 10 guiding business principles that San Antonio, TX headquartered insurance company  USAA  lives by: Exceed customer expectations Live the Golden Rule (treat others with courtesy and respect) Be a leader Participate and contribute Pursue excellence Work as a team Share knowledge Keep it simple (make it easy for customers to do business with us and for us to work together) Listen and communicate Have fun Too many companies don't make it simple for their customers to do business with them.  Is it easy for your customers to: Buy from you? Make returns? Get pricing and terms? Receive timely responses to their e-mails? Quickly get answers when phoning your company? You can find more examples of companies with impressive guiding principles in the book, 1001 Ways To Energize Employees .

Do you have a brand strategy?

A fellow Blogger, Debbie Laskey, shared these keen insights with me: “A brand strategy is the ultimate business strategy and often the least understood."  And, her favorite quotes about brand equity are: • “Products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the mind.” – Walter Landor • “A brand is a living entity –and it is enriched or undermined cumulatively over time, the product of a thousand small gestures.” – Michael Eisner, former CEO of Disney • “If this business were split up, I would give you the land and bricks and mortar, and I would take the brands and trademarks, and I would fare better than you.” – John Stuart, former CEO of Quaker Oats Here's more about brand strategy and brand equity that I've learned from Debbie .

How To Improve Your Internal Communication Skills

Here is this week's book recommendation.  It's a quick read, yet power-packed with useful tips for communicating effectively -- tips you can start to use tomorrow.  And, the eBook is free! As author David Grossman says, "good internal communication gets the message out, but great internal communication helps employees connect the dots between overarching business strategy and their role. When it’s good, it informs; when it’s great, it engages employees and moves them to action. Quite simply, it helps people and organizations be even better." I really found this book useful.

This Week's Book Recommendation

Here is a book by David Grossman  that I learned a lot from and recommend to leaders and managers:

3 Things Your Mission Statement Must Have

A lot of companies struggle when creating their mission statement. Author Peter F. Drucker provides the following good advice in one of my favorite book's of his, The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization :" Every mission statement has to reflect three things : Opportunities Competence Commitment In other words, he explains: What is our purpose? Why do we do what we do? What, in the end, do we want to be remembered for? How well does your mission statement meet Drucker's recommended three requirements?

Is Your Crisis Management Program In Place?

As we near the last quarter of 2010, it's wise to think about how we can make our businesses stronger in 2011.  One way will be to ensure our crisis management plans are in place.  Toyota's and BP's woes this year have certainly put crisis management plans on the radar screen. Unfortunately, most businesses don't have a plan. Or, don't have a plan that is up-to-date, comprehensive and/or flexible. With a crisis management program, you : •Forecast potential and most likely/probable crises •Plan in advance for how to deal with them •Document your sequential, step-by-step action plan, including having a timeline •Share your written plan with all the appropriate players on your team A crisis can be any event or series of events that threatens your financial results, brand and reputation, and your relations with employees, customers and vendors. Most important, be sure you have a plan in place for a crisis that negatively impacts the general public. The firs

How To Uncover The Real Reasons Your Employees Leave

As a leader, it's imperative you understand the real reasons employees leave your company.  To do that, you need to ask specific questions that may not be ones you currently include in your exit interviews. Fortunately, Richard Finnegan, shares in his new book, Rethinking Retention in Good Times and Bad , four key questions you should include in your exit interviews: Why did you decide to leave us? Of all the things you've told me, what is the top thing that caused you to resign? It's great that you've found such a good opportunity, but why did you look? What one thing could we have done that would have caused you to stay? Your goal is to know the most important leave reason rather than learn which three or five things contributed to your employee's decision to leave.  The four questions above will help you learn the most important reason.

Keys To Telling A Good Story In Your Presentations

Joey Asher's new 100-page book, 15 Minutes Including Q&A provides a "plan to save the world from lousy presentations," proclaims Asher.  In chapter 8, Asher explains that the best presentations have stories and if you want to be a good speaker, you need to know how to tell an effective story. Asher's formula is: Start with the point.  You don't want people wondering why you're telling them a story. Tell the story chronologically. Keep your story tight and on point, but give some details. Make your story personal to you. Remind your audience of the point at the end. Keep your story to between 30 and 60 seconds. Thanks to Asher for sending me a copy of his latest book, which is also filled with helpful tips about how to engage your audience in Q&A, and how to overcome nerves -- which hit even the most seasoned leaders.

5 Questions To Ask At Your Next Employee Performance Review

Here are five important questions you, as a manager and leader, should ask during employee performance reviews: What have I done to help - or hinder - your job performance? What can I do in the next review period to help you achieve/improve? What conditions here enable you - or make it hard - to do your best work? What do you want most from your job? How can I help you reach your career goals? I bet most employees have never heard most of these questions from their supervisors on a consistent basis. Thanks to Sharon Armstrong and Barbara Mitchell for these questions -- just some of their great advice from their book, The Essential HR Handbook .