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Showing posts from April, 2013

Finding The Ideal Tone For Your Emails

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Can't quite master the ideal tone for the emails you send employees and customers?  Or, do you have employees whole struggle with the tone of their emails?  You might want to check out ToneCheck.

ToneCheck, a software program that works with Microsoft Outlook 2003, 2007 and 2010, helps to ensure your tone is clearly communicated and understood. It acts somewhat similar to an email spell checker, and you can select the suggested alternatives or ignore the advice.

The program evaluates words and phrases for the intensity of eight primary emotions, allowing you to adjust the overall tone before you send your message. ToneCheck scans your messages for terms that may be inadvertently conveying:

• Affection
• Friendliness
• Amusement
• Excitement
• Sadness
• Grief
• Fear
• Uneasiness
• Anger
• Shame

Over 165 billion email messages are sent worldwide each day. The average worker will spend 10 years of their work life dealing with email. And, sometimes, perhaps all too often, email messa…

How To Maximize Employee Involvement

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Here are 10 tips for how to maximize employee involvement:
Have active ways to listen to your employees.Check often with employees to see if the information you are sharing with them is what they need and what they want.Share information about customer satisfaction with employees.Discuss financial performance with your employees and be sure everyone understands the importance of profitability and how they can contribute to profitability.Allow ad hoc teams among employees to form to address organizational problems and work with those teams to tackle the identified issues.Encourage employees to make suggestions for improvement whether those ideas are large or small.Take an idea from one employee and share it with other employees and teams and let everyone make a contribution to build upon that idea.Train!For long-term employees, find ways to keep their jobs interesting through new assignments and challenges.Conduct meetings around specific issues and brainstorm solutions. "Involvin…

Make A Decision

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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 …

What You're Likely To Be Asked At Your Next Interview

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Many Human Resource (HR) managers have moved away from questions like "What's your weakness?" and prefer behavior-based questions, which ask you to:
describe how you handled specific situations at your former jobs If you about to interview for your next leadership position, be prepared for questions like these (from an article in Reader's Digest):
Tell me about a time when your integrity was challenged. What was the situation, and what did you do?Tell me about a time you had to work with someone you did not personally like.If you could come to work with only three tools to get your job done, what would they be?What personal and professional development have you been engaged in outside the workplace over the past year?Describe your Outlook calendar on a typical day

Genunine Leaders Mold Consensus

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"A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus." -- Martin Luther King Jr.

Add You Can't Not Communicate To Your Reading List

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Can't decide what business book to take on your summer vacation this year to accompany your "fun-reading" books?  I recommend David Grossman's, You Can't Not Communicate, 2." 
Why, because this updated installment of his previous best-seller with virtually the same title is an easy read and one you can finish in an afternoon.
More important, David gives you lots of practical, real-world, wise, straight-forward advice on how to communicate more effectively as a leader -- all tips and techniques you can start to do when you return from vacation.  So, taking an afternoon to read this book even while you are on vacation will be well worth it!
Particularly helpful are the: Top 10 must-do strategies for persuasive presentationsFive easy strategies for managing the company rumor mill Twelve must-have skills for effective two-way communication David also explains: the importance of having a "messagemap" ways leaders at all levels can build trust by alignin…

Encourage Your Employees To Volunteer

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National Volunteer Week is April 21-27.  The week when nonprofit organizations throughout the U.S. will celebrate and honor their volunteers.

If you are not already volunteering, what a great time to start. 

And, if you are a workplace leader who supports a volunteer program at your business, you already know that by encouraging employees to give back to your community you are:
building teamworkmotivating employeesattracting new hires In fact, job seekers much prefer companies that have a strong volunteer program. And, a growing number of businesses are rewarding employees who volunteer by giving them extra vacation time and other incentives.

Fortunately, throughout the U.S. there are hundreds of volunteer opportunities where employees can contribute individually, or where leaders can organize teams of employees to volunteer together on a routine and scheduled basis.



To find organizations in need of volunteers, go to Volunteer Match and type in your zip code. You'll be presented …

You Can Make A Difference

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"Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in a world they've been given than to explore the power they have to change it." -- David Beckham

Today's Learn & Lead Quotes

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"Leadership is the art of accomplishing more than the science of management says is possible." -- Colin Powell, quoted in the Nashville Tennessean.

"If you really want to understand something, the best way is to try and explain it to someone else." -- Author Douglas Adams, quoted in The Boston Globe.

"When you re-read a classic you do not see more in the book than you did before; you see more in you than there was before." -- Clifton Fadiman

5 Must-Read Books For Business Leaders For Summer 2013

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Stumped for what business books to add to your summer reading list?  Here are five must-read books for leaders well worth adding to your list:

Lead With A Story -- A Guide To Crafting Business Narratives That Captivate, Convince, and Inspire.  Author Paul Smith explains why storytelling has emerged as a vital skill for every leader and manager.  In the book, you'll find over 100 ready-made stories you can use as templates to tell your stories.  Stories are so powerful because they are simple, timeless, demographic-proof, contagious, easy to remember and inspiring.  Most important, they put the listener in a mental learning mode.What's The Future Of Business? (WTF?) -- Changing The Way Businesses Create Experiences.  This book, by Brain Solis, details the incredible transformation happening in business today, driven by new social and mobile technologies.  And, he explains how experience design helps your business and how you can harness its power for business growth.  This book…

Email Do's And Don'ts

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Are you leading an organization where e-mail communication is ineffective?

Here are some wise guidelines that Verizon Wireless has used to promote effective, efficient and responsible e-mail use within its company.  You can find these guidelines in the new book, Managers, Can You Hear Me Now?, written by Denny F. Strigl, former CEO and President of Verizon Wireless.
E-mail should bring closure to work, not create more work.Before you write an e-mail, ask yourself if calling or visiting the recipient will bring better communication.Keep e-mails short.  Make your point in just the subject line or the space in the preview pane.Don't assume other people are staring at their screens, waiting for your e-mail.If just one person needs information or clarification, don't send your e-mail to a group.Never send e-mail when you're angry.Assume anything you put in writing will be leaked to the press or to your competitors.Stay accountable.  Sending an e-mail doesn't transfer respon…

11 Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Start A Business

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Are you a leader contemplating starting a new business?  Or, has a budding entrepreneur turned to you because of your leadership skills to ask for your help? 

Here are 11 questions you or that entrepreneur should ask before starting a business.
Is there a true need for my product/service? What is the competitive environment and how will my product/service be unique, different or better?Will my location (or accessibility online) be convenient and easy to get to for my customers? Do I have adequate funding to support my business, particularly during the ramp-up period that could be a year or more?Do I have the stamina to start a new business and work hard even if it means months of extended work hours and perhaps even seven days a week?Will my family and social life withstand my commitment to my new business?Will the name of my business be easy to spell, suitable for print on online, and memorable?Am I a risk taker?Am I humble enough to ask for help, especially if I am not an expert in…

Tips For Writing A Company Policy

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Keep these five tips in mind when you craft your next company policy:
Keep the policy short and simple.Get rid of two old policies for every new policy you implement.Make sure that your organization's policy and procedures are written to serve your employees and customers--not just your organization.Don't write a policy in reaction to a single incident.  The problem may never arise again.Don't write a policy longer than one-page, no matter how large your organization may be. Thanks to author Bob Nelson for these great tips from his book, 1001 Ways To Energize Employees.

6 Interview Questions To Ask To Identify A Leader

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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!

How To Be A Better Listener On Twitter

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Thanks to Allison Stadd for adapting my March 26, 2013 blog posting on How To Be A Better Listener.

She's given it a new twist to share her techniques for how to be a better listener on Twitter.  Well done, Allison!

Take a moment now to learn her recommendations.



How To Create An Effective Corporate Culture

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Fortunately, most of my career I’ve worked in effective corporate cultures. If I put together the best of each, here is what made those environments effective:

Leaders led by example on a consistent basis and were willing to roll up their sleeves, particularly during tight deadlines or challenging times.

Employees clearly understood how what they did made a difference and how their contributions made the organization either more profitable or more effective.

The workforce included a blend of long-term employees with a rich company, product/service and customer history, employees who had been at the company for five to seven years, and then new hires with a fresh perspective and keen sense of new technologies and techniques. That blend worked best when the mix included virtually all A-players.

Top managers had a clear, realistic and strategic vision for how the company would grow and compete in the marketplace.

Employees were challenged and rewarded through growth oppor…

The 11 Reasons For Doing Employee Exit Interviews

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Don't be the guy in the picture when an employee leaves your company.  Instead, conduct exit interviews and surveys.

Leigh Branham explains in his book, The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave, what the most favorable conditions are for conducting exit interviews and surveys.

And, here are the 11 best reasons for leaders to listen and gather the data when an employee leaves:
Bringing any "push-factor" root-cause reasons for leaving to the surface.Alerting the organization to specific issues to be addressed.Giving the employee a chance to vent and gain a sense of closure.Giving the employee the opportunity to provide information that may help colleagues left behind.Providing information about competitors and their practices.Comparing information given with the results of past surveys and employee data.Detecting patterns and changes by year or by quarter.Obtaining information to help improve recruiting.Possibly heading off a lawsuit.Planting the seed of possible rehiring.In s…

Are You Thanking Your Customers Enough? Here Are The Nine Times When You Should.

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In your leadership role, it's vital that your team members know how to deliver excellent customer service. "Knock Your Socks Off" type service as book editor Ann Thomas and Jill Applegate would say.

Part of delivering excellent customer service is saying "Thank You" to your customers and knowing when to say "Thank You".

Thomas and Applegate recommend telling your customers "Thank You" during at least these nine situations:
When they do business with you...every time.When they compliment you (or your company)When they offer you comments or suggestionsWhen they try one of your new products or servicesWhen they recommend you to a friendWhen they are patient...and even when they are not so patientWhen they help you to serve them betterWhen they complain to youWhen they make you smileYou and your team members can say "Thank You":
VerballyIn writing (and don't underestimate the power of personal notes via snail mail)With a small, tas…

Have You Already Abandoned Your New Year's Resolution To Be A Better Leader?

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Which one of the 70 tips for how to become a more effective leader did you select as a 2013 New Year's Resolution?  This list was published last December in my blog, about the time many leaders were identifying their professional and personal goals for 2013.

Hopefully, you're still making good progress with your resolution. 
Unfortunately, according to research conducted by the University of Scranton, nearly 50% of those who make New Year's Resolutions will have abandoned them within six months.  And, only 8% will achieve their goals. Perhaps you've already achieve your goal!  Congratulations.  So, how about selecting another one from the list.

70 Ways To Be A Better Leader

1. Don't micromanage
2. Don't be a bottleneck
3. Focus on outcomes, not minutiae
4. Build trust with your colleagues before a crisis comes
5. Assess your company's strengths and weaknesses at all times
6. Conduct annual risk reviews
7. Be courageous, quick and fair
8. Talk more a…