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Showing posts from January, 2012

4 Steps For How To Give Constructive Feedback

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Eric Harvey and Al Lucia wrote a booklet called, 144 Ways To Walk The Talk. They provide the following great advice about giving feedback:

1. Make it timely -- give your feedback as soon as possible to the performance.

2. Make it individualized -- tailor your feedback to the feedback receiver.

3. Make it productive -- focus your feedback on the performance and not the performer.

4. Make is specific -- pinpoint for the receiver observable actions and behaviors.

How To Give Praise

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Entrepreneur magazine's February 2012 issue offers these great tips on how to give praise:
Praise followed by criticism is not praise.Praise followed by praise is probably a little too much praise.Ending an expression of praise with "...and stuff" nullifies the praise. And,
Make it timely.  The closer the recognition is to the behavior, the more likely the behavior will be repeated.Be sincere.  Be impromptu. Remember, a handwritten note is worth more than a gift card. Having trouble writing your handwritten note of praise?  Try this template to get you started:
_______, I couldn't be more impressed with how you______.  Not only did you____, but you_______.  Beautiful.  Thanks, ________

Be A Manager Who Makes Decisions

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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 time for …

4 Words You Should Never Say To A Customer

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Author Harvey MacKay wrote the following spot-on advice awhile back in his column in the Kansas City Business Journal. He wisely points out that all employees at every level should never use these four words in front of a client/customer for both obvious and perhaps not so obvious reasons:
Can't -- As in, "We can't do that." "We can't meet that deadline." Unless you honestly cannot produce and then be honest and help them find another vendor.Busy -- As in, "I'll call you when I'm not so busy." "I'm really busy right now." The word "busy" gives your customer the impression they are a low priority.Safe -- As in, "Let's play it safe." Customers typically want to engage in calculated risks versus playing it safe.Fear -- As in, "I fear that we may be moving too fast." That tells your customer you haven't done your homework. MacKay writes, "Common sense, thorough research and sou…

10 Tips For How To Be A Healthier Leader

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If you're like many leaders, you're "too busy" to exercise on a regular basis. And, you don't give yourself time to renew and refresh. Truth is, there are ways to fit exercise and healthful habits into your busy day that will pay off in dividends.

From Experience Life magazine, here are 10 tips for how to fit even just moments into your day (at work, on the road and at home) to help you become more healthful:
Make a plan to exercise. Include exercise times, even if they are just in 10-minute increments, on your calendar.Find time to exercise and build on that time. Start off by walking for five minutes at lunch and add to that every few days until you've worked up to 30 minutes every few lunch hours.Limit screen time. Set a timer for how long you'll watch TV or surf the Net. Then, use the time you aren't in front of a screen to exercise.When you are watching TV, do squats, pushups, lunges, yoga poses and crunches.Think positive. Psychologists …

REI Sets The Example For Creating And Living Core Values

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Are you a leader who is struggling with how to write your company's core values?

You can learn from Recreational Equipment Incorporated, better known as REI -- an outdoor gear and apparel co-op.  As described in Amy Lyman's new book, The Trustworthy Leader, REI concisely articulates its core values in this series of statements:
Authenticity -- We are true to the outdoors.Quality -- We provide trustworthy products and servicesService -- We serve others with expertise and enthusiasm.Respect -- We listen and learn form each other.Integrity -- We live by a code of rock-solid ethics, honesty, and decency.Balance -- We encourage each other to enjoy all aspects of life."The words contained in the values are not much different from those found in the value statements of any organization. So what makes it different at REI?  The people at REI actively seek to live out their values," explains Lyman.

Good To Great -- Still A Must-Read For Leaders

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Near the top of virtually every list you'll see of the best leadership books, you'll find Good To Great, by Jim Collins.

The book, five years in the making, and published in 2001, addresses the all-important question of: Can a good company become a great company, and if so, how?
Some of the lessons from the book are:
"Leadership is equally about creating a climate where the truth is heard and the brutal facts confronted.""Leading from good to great does not mean coming up with the answers and then motivating everyone to follow your messianic vision. It means having the humility to grasp the fact that you do not yet understand enough to have the answers and then to ask the questions that will lead to the best possible insights.""Good-to-great companies use technology as an accelerator of momentum, not a creator of it.""Engage in dialogue and debate."Good-to-great companies are those who have the ability to get and keep enough of the right…

How To Know When You Need An Executive Coach

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More business leaders today are turning to executive coaches to help them become:
more personally fulfilled with their contributionsmore effective with direct reports, peers and other executivesbetter able to coach their team membersmore flexible in challenging situationsSusan C. Gatton, a Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX-based executive coach, has worked with a many leaders and she says that if you answer "yes" to any of the following ten situations, you are a likely candidate for executive coaching:
I need an objective sounding board.I know some things are not working as well as they should. I don't know what to do to change the situation.I want to go to the next level. I'm ready. Why am I not being promoted?Work has taken over my life. How do I make my family a priority?I may be over my head with these new responsibilities.My 360 degree feedback had several surprises.I've never interacted with the Board of Directors before. I don't know what to expect.I need more vi…

7 Ways To Be A Collaborative Workplace Leader

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Edward M. Marshall's book, Transforming The Way We Work -- The Power Of The Collaborative Workplace, remains relevant today, more than a decade after Marshall wrote it.

Particularly useful is the book's section that teaches readers how to be a collaborative leader.

Marshall says that there are seven different, important roles and responsibilities of collaborative leaders when leading teams, and those leaders should select the appropriate style to meet the team's needs.

The seven roles are:
The leader as sponsor -- You provide strategic direction, boundaries and coaching for the team. You also monitor progress and ensure integrity in the team's operating processes.The leader as facilitator -- You ensure that meetings, team dynamics, and interpersonal relationships function effectively. You also ensure internal coordination of activities among team members.The leader as coach -- You provide support and guidance and you serve as a sounding board.The leader as change agen…

What 3,129 Hiring Managers Like To See In A Resume

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If you are a leader looking for a new job, pick up a copy of Tony Beshara's new book, The Job Search Solution, and pay particular attention to what Beshara discovered when 3,129 hiring managers and interviewing authorities answered his survey about resumes (pages 67 and 68 of the book).

What these hiring authorities who ranged from first-line hiring managers to CEO's told him was this:

What they like in a resume:
Reverse chronological order.Names of companies that the person has worked for and a clear indication of what the companies do.Clear, concise articulation of skills and experience.Direct evidence of success.Written by the candidate (not professionally written)Easy-to-read formatPertinent information that relates to the job being filled.Clearly stated experience that relates to the opening.Stability.No more than two pages.And what they don't like in a resume are the following:
Functional resumes.Objectives and Summaries at the beginning of a resume.Longer than a page…

What Does A Business Owner Need To Know When Hiring A Marketing Leader?

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Welcome Debbie Laskey to my blog!
With 15 years of marketing experience and an MBA Degree, Debbie developed her marketing expertise while working in the high-tech industry, the Consumer Marketing Department at Disneyland Paris in France, the non-profit arena, and the insurance industry.
Currently, Debbie is a brand marketing and social media consultant to small businesses and nonprofits in California.
I met Debbie a few years ago while we worked together on a training committee for MicroMentor, a nonprofit that connects small business owners with business mentors.
Debbie and I recently discussed what business owners should look for when hiring marketing leaders, and highlights are provided below.
Eric:  What personality traits are ideal for a marketing leader?
Debbie Laskey: First, marketing is not sales. I say this because, while the two areas must work in tandem if both departments exist in a company, sales people have very different personalities than those in marketing.
People who se…

Today's Leadership Lesson: Information Sharing

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Information sharing practices that rest on a leader's sense of honor, practice of inclusion, and respect for followership distinguish the greater success of Trustworthy Leaders from those leaders who simply stop at doing what is practical, like sending out lots of email or posting and abundance of company notices.
From Amy Lyman's new book, The Trustworthy Leader Leveraging the Power of Trust to Transform Your Organization

Honor MLK By Volunteering Or Leading A Team To Volunteer

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As the nation honors Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Monday, January 16, volunteer or make the decision to volunteer in your community. King routinely asked “What are you doing for others,” and January 16th is the ideal day to ask yourself that question.

The federal holiday was first observed 25 years ago and in 1994 Congress designated it as a National Day of Service, inspired by King’s words, “everybody can be great because anybody can serve.”

You can turn to Volunteer Match to find volunteer opportunities right in your neighborhood or nearby surrounding area. Visit the web site, type in your zip code, and you will be presented with a variety of organizations seeking volunteers.

And, if you are a leader in the workplace, encourage your team members to volunteer in the community as individuals. Or, organize team volunteer afternoons or evenings for your employees.

Leaders: Tips For How To Reach Your Goals

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Social psychologist, Heidi Grant Halvorson, wrote Succeed to help you understand how goals work, what tends to go wrong, and what you can do to reach your goals or to help others reach theirs.

Because many of us may soon start struggling to fulfill our New Year's Resolutions (goals), Halvorson's book, packed with the findings from her own research, along with the most useful tips from academic journals and handbooks, is a timely read.

In her 260-page book, Halvorson covers:

• How to set a goal that you will pursue even in the face of adversity.
• How to avoid the kind of positive thinking that makes people fail.
• How to create an environment that will help you win.

"Setting goals is important," said Halvorson, "But that's not the whole story. Because how you set your goals--the way you think about whatever it is you want to do, and how you will get there--is every bit as important."

Halvorson recommends:
• Making your goal as specific as possible.
•…

Are You Really Connecting With Your Customers?

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Here are some key questions to ask yourself about how to connect with your customers in today's digital age:
Are we making it easy for customers to find us in their digital lives?Do we offer services and content to customers on their schedule, not ours?Do our Web services run well on any browser, smartphone, or digital interface?Can our customers use their phones and mobile devices to find us, learn about us and pay us?Are we responding to customers online in a timely manner?Are we giving our biggest supporters the opportunity to connect with us and champion our business online?Has the conversation among our customers become a vital part of our business?Depending on how you answer these questions, you may need to also ask yourself these questions as well:
What assumptions about our business do we need to reconsider?How does our culture need to change?What new skills and capacities do we need to foster?According to author David L. Rogers, "to thrive in our digital age, businesse…

5 Reasons To Do An Employee Survey

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Business leaders who wonder whether they should conduct an employee survey should think about these five good reasons for conducting surveys, as recommended by John Kador and Katherine J. Armstrong in their book, Perfect Phrases for Writing Employee Surveys:

1. To discover what employees are thinking and doing – in a nonthreatening survey environment. You will learn what motivates employees and what is important to them.
2. To prioritize the organization’s actions based on objective results – rather than relying on subjective information or your best guesses.
3. To provide a benchmark – or a snapshot of your employees and their attitudes at a certain point of time that you can then compare to future surveys to spot trends.
4. To communicate the importance of key topics to employees – by communicating with employees the survey results that shows your organization is listening to employees.
5. To collect the combined brainpower and ideas of the workforce – that sometimes cannot b…

Do You Practice Open Leadership?

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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!

David Grossman's Five Steps To Thrive eBook -- Communication Primer For Leaders

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The former director of communications for McDonald's, David Grossman, now a leading consultant, speaker and author offers a free eBook about how to communicate effectively.

Titled, The Leader Differential: Five Steps To Thrive (Not Just Survive), it's ideal for any leader or manager who wants to brush up on his/her communication skills.

I particularly like the parts about:
How much information is enough information to communicateHow to choose the best communication channelHow to manage your company's rumor millDavid explained to me that his eBook is for any leader. He said, "I've seen the traps discussed and the strategies to overcome them work irrespective of the economy, industry, leader's tenure or personality/style."

David has worked with Microsoft, Cisco Systems and Virgin Atlantic, and is the president and founder of The Grossman Group in Chicago, IL.

Poor communication within a company leads to more workplace theft, more injuries, more turnover …

How To Identify A Leader During Interviews

The next time you are interviewing a candidate and you want to access their leadership skills, consider asking the candidate these questions:
What personal qualities define you as a leader?  Describe a situation when these qualities helped you lead others.Give an example of when you demonstrated good leadership.What is the toughest group from which you've had to get cooperation?Have you ever had difficulty getting others to accept your ideas?  What was your approach?  Did it work?Describe a situation in which you had to change your leadership style to achieve the goal?One leadership skill is the ability to accommodate different views in the workplace, regardless of what they are.  What have you done to foster a wide number of views in your work environment? Thanks to Sharon Armstrong, author of The Essential HR Handbook, for these helpful questions!

Never Say These 4 Words To A Customer

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Author Harvey MacKay wrote the following spot-on advice in a column in the Kansas City Business Journal. He wisely points out that all employees at every level should never use these four words in front of a client/customer for both obvious and perhaps not so obvious reasons:

Can't -- As in, "We can't do that." "We can't meet that deadline." Unless you honestly cannot produce and then be honest and help them find another vendor. Busy -- As in, "I'll call you when I'm not so busy." "I'm really busy right now." The word "busy" gives your customer the impression they are a low priority. Safe -- As in, "Let's play it safe." Customers typically want to engage in calculated risks versus playing it safe. Fear -- As in, "I fear that we may be moving too fast." That tells your customer you haven't done your homework. MacKay writes, "Common sense, thorough research and …

Leaders: 6 Ways To Jump Start Your Business

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As a leader in your business, try these six ideas to give your business a jump-start:
Ask for ideas from employees in all parts of your business. Don't ask for ideas only from your product development or marketing departments. Be sure all employees clearly understand your vision and the mission of your business. Brainstorm ways to take advantage of your strengths. Determine how to overcome your business' weaknesses. Choose which opportunities you will prioritize to help keep everyone focused on a common goal. Celebrate your successes regularly and encourage learning from your mistakes.

Top 5 Factors That Drive Employee Loyalty

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A survey by the Society for Human Resource Management shows that job security is what matters most to employees. And, having that job security helps to keep employees loyal. Okay, that's really not too surprising during these times of high unemployment.

Next on the list is benefits. The unstable economy, coupled with rising health care costs, make employer offered benefits more important than ever.

Third on the top five list is an employee's opportunity to use his/her skills. When employees feel good about their jobs and their abilities, and clearly know they are contributing to their organization they remain engaged and loyal.

In fourth place is an organization's financial stability.

Compensation came in fifth on the top five list. Employee pay often is not the most important driver for employee retention. Despite study after study that shows pay is not the top reason employees stay with a company, research results like these often surprise workplace leaders.
In summ…

5 Questions To Ask Your Employees During Performance Reviews

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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.

How To Start Your 2012 As A Leader

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I heard this advice quoted awhile back and wanted to share it. It's from William Arthur Ward, one of America's most quoted writers of inspirational maxims:
Do more than belong: participate. Do more than care: help. Do more than believe: practice. Do more than be fair: be kind. Do more than forgive: forget. Do more than dream: work. All great advice for leaders and managers as we start 2012.