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Showing posts from September, 2014

10 Must-Ask Questions For Every Business Leader

Here are  10 important questions  business leaders should ask, according to Ken Blanchard and Garry Ridge, authors of  Helping People Win At Work : Does my business have a clear, meaningful, and easily understood vision/mission? Do I have the right people in the right seats on the bus? Do I have a BHAG (big hairy audacious goal), and have I communicated it to my employees? Are my values driving the behavior I want in my organization? Am I creating a culture that increases employee engagement? Am I cultivating a spirit of internal and external learning? Do my employees know what an A looks like, and am I supporting them to get that A? Are our products/services creating lasting, positive memories for our customers? Do I have the best, most timely data and information to help my business make good decisions? Are our key performance indicators the right ones, and are we measuring what matters? And, one more questions to ask is: Do we celebrate success ?

The Basic Needs We Have In Common

When I think about all my colleagues, co-workers and employees, former co-workers, friends, and teammates, I believe we pretty much all have the following in common.  We want and need to be: Respected Valued Heard Appreciated Accepted Engaged Encouraged Young and not so young; man or woman; new to the workforce or long-time employee, don't we all have these needs in common? I believe we do.  So, as a leader, keep these basic needs in mind when you lead your employees, teams and groups, and you are bound to be a leader for whom employees will want to work.

How To Write A Company Policy

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 .

What A New Leader Should Do In The First 100 Days

There are  seven major onboarding land mines that you are likely to come across as a new leader  and there are specific points in the  first 100 days  where you are most likely to encounter them, explain authors: George Brant Jayme A. Check Jorge Pedraza their new third edition of,  The New Leader's 100-Day Action Plan . Ill-prepared, without a plan, and lacking proper onboarding, the land mines will get you.  And, if you miss one or more of the critical tasks that must be accomplished in your first 100 days, you'll likely fail. The book is packed with: Examples and case studies Action plans Tools, techniques and tricks of the trade The authors also explain why  you need to start even before your official first day on the job . For example: Cultural engagement  is extremely important in a successful transition; and it is essential that you know what your cultural engagement plan will be  before  walking in the door for Day One.

12 Questions To Ask About Your Customers To Help You Find New Customers

As a sales leader, it's important that you analyze your current customers to help you identify the best places to focus your energies for finding new customers.  That's the advice of Brian Tracy in his new book,  Unlimited Sales Success . And, Tracy recommends that the best way to  analyze your current customers  is to ask and answer these twelve questions: Who is using your product or service today? Who will be using it in the future, based on current trends? Why should somebody buy your product at all? If someone should buy your product, why should they buy it from your company rather than from some other company? If customers have decided to buy from your company, shy should they buy the product or service from you  personally , rather than from someone else in your company? Who exactly is your customer?  Who buys from you most readily?  Why does your customer buy your product or service?  What specific benefits does the customer receive from your product or ser

9 Tips For Delivering Excellent Customer Service

Leading a customer service team? Have the team members use these  9 tips for delivering excellent customer service : Rely on winning words and soothing phrases.  A simple but sincere “Thanks for your patience” or “I’m listening” can go a long way toward defusing a holiday shopper’s frustration, anxiety, or panic. Develop a repertoire of short, easy to remember phrases around issues that are important to customers. Practice until the words come naturally. Communicate with silence.  Remaining silent while your customers are talking is a basic courtesy, and nodding tells them you’re listening and understanding what you hear. An occasional “uh huh” or “I see” tells them you’re still listening without interrupting. Make customers feel seen.  Making eye contact acknowledges that you see your customers as individuals. But there’s a balance to be struck here: staring can make your customers uncomfortable, too. Also keep in mind that eye contact is governed by specific cultural rules.

How To Lead With Purpose

“Purpose is the why behind everything within an organization,” says author John Baldoni, of the book,  Lead With  Purpose . Baldoni also believes that  it is up to leaders to make certain that organizational purpose is understood  and acted upon. And, to harness the talents of their employees, leaders must recognize their responsibility to instill purpose in the workplace. Other recommendations include: Make purpose a central focus Instill purpose in others Make employees comfortable with ambiguity Turn good intentions into great results Make it safe to fail (as well as prevail) Develop the next generation According to Baldoni, purpose forms the backbone of what an organization exists to do; upon which you can build vision and mission. To define an organization’s purpose, you must ask three questions: 1.  What is our vision  — that is, what do we want to become? 2.  What is our mission  — that is, what do we do now? 3.  What are our values –that is, what are th

The Three Main Drivers Of Motivation

Julian Birkinshaw  shares the  three drivers of discretionary effort  (motivation) from employees in his new book,  Becoming a Better Boss : Material drivers , including salary, bonuses, promotion, and prizes Social drivers , including recognition for achievement, status, and having good colleagues Personal drivers , including freedom to act, the opportunity to build expertise, and working for a worthwhile cause Take a moment now to reflect on where your business excels and where it falls short.

How To Listen And Learn

In John Baldoni's  new book ,  The Leader's Guide to Speaking with Presence , he provides these tips for listening as a leader and learning as a leader: When  Listening  As A   Leader : Look at people when they are speaking to you. Make eye contact. Ask open-ended questions, such as "Tell me about..." or "Could you explain this?" Consider the "what if" question:  "What if we looked at the situation like this?" Leverage the "why" question:  "Why do we do it this way?" Employ the "how" question:  "How can you do this?" When  Learning  As A Leader : Reflect on what people have told you. Think about what you have not observed.  Are people holding back?  If so, why? Consider how you can implement what you have observed. Get back to people who have suggested ideas to you and thank them. Look for opportunities to collaborate with others. For nearly 20 years, Baldoni has coached

What To Do After Reprimanding An Employee

"A reprimand should end with a reaffirmation of the person's past performance," explains authors Ken Blanchard and Garry Ridge in their book,  Helping People Win At Work . They provide this example: "The reason I'm upset is because this is so unlike you.  You're one of my best employees, and you usually get your reports in on time." "The reason this step is important is that when you finish giving someone a reprimand,  you want him thinking about what he did wrong, not how you treated him ." Thanks for this good advice Ken and Garry.

How Sponsors Are Not Mentors, And Why You Need A Sponsor

"Sponsors are not mentors.  Sponsors are powerful leaders who see potential in you and, provided you give them 110 percent, will go out on a limb to make things happen for you," explains author Sylvia Ann Hewlett in her new book, Executive Presence . She adds that because sponsors have a vested interest in how you turn out (your reputation now being linked with their own), they will give you the kind of feedback that mentors can't or won't.

How To Expose The Real Issues That Underlie Paradoxes In Modern Organizations

With the demands of technology, transparency, and constant connectedness, and calls for higher performance,  leaders  from the front line to the C-suite face complex dilemmas that cannot be easily denied or postponed. These perplexing, recurring issues are familiar to anyone in a leadership role today, including:  How do I balance my functional or business unit goals with the needs of my peers and the whole company?   How do I support and promote others while still advancing my own career? How do I emphasize teamwork and still reward the “stars”?  Can I really devote enough time and energy to both family and work?     These are not “problems” but paradoxes—situations in which there will never be a single correct solution—and while they make many leaders feel overwhelmed and challenged,  a new book  provides help. The Unfinished Leader  is a modern  handbook for recognizing, facing, and inspiring others to expose the real issues that underlie paradoxes in modern organization

David Grossman Releases New eBook On How To Get Employees On Your Side During Cost Cuts

"Talking to employees about cost cuts is a difficult job for leaders and communicators, yet it is vitally important to get it right, especially now that it is such a big part of the way businesses function," explains communications expert, David Grossman. He adds that, "Scores of the Fortune 500 clients we’ve worked with at The Grossman Group are cutting costs, and often that’s not because of financial issues. Instead, cutting costs is seen as a smart business practice, designed to help a company prioritize so it can innovate, invest smartly and grow." "At the same time, poorly communicated cuts can severely damage employee morale, as well as a company’s ultimate results. In our experience, leaders who know how to communicate company changes ultimately succeed because high engagement levels are leading indicators of financial performance and other positive business results." Drawing from case studies of leading businesses, Grossman's latest

6 Questions To Ask At The End Of A Project

Just a little more advice from the authors of,  Helping People Win At Work .  Those authors, Ken Blanchard and Garry Ridge, recommend you ask the following  six essential questions  whenever you do a  project review : What did we set out to do? What actually happened? Why did this happen? What will we do next time? What should we continue to do? What should we do differently? Seems simple enough, but how often do we really take the time to step back and ask  ALL  six of these questions? And, these questions are important to ask even if there was no mistakes made during the project. Continually planning and executing without the value of a review can blindside you . Get more great advice from their  book .

8-Point Plan For A Powerful Team

Take some quality time to read the book by  C. Elliott Haverlack ,  Unbunde It , because it explores the issues you face as a leader with a twist that is different from many other leadership books.  Throughout, the book offers suggestions on how to  overcome the burden that complexity creates in our lives and businesses . Most intriguing for me is Haverlack's straight-forward, unbundled insights on  teams .  "The healthiest teams trust each other," explains the author.  "When we trust, we tend to be more transparent and are more likely to share the hurdles we need to leap.  And, once trust becomes a competency, accountability comes much more easily."  And, accountability is the key to delivering results. Haverlack's eight-point plan for a powerful team is : Engage a group that shares your core values. Set aspirational yet achievable goals for the company and every individual. Create an environment that encourages and rewards trust. Empower every

How To Be A Customer-Facing Employee

According to author  Micah Solomon , to ensure you have  customer-facing employees , help them to: Display simple human kindness  Sense what another person is feeling  Have an inclination toward teamwork  Be detail oriented, including having the ability and willingness to follow through to completion  Bounce back and do not internalize challenges

How To Access A Job Candidate's Leadership Skills

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 Transform Yourself Into An Optimist

Every leader experiences periods of ups and downs. Hopefully, more up periods. If you struggle with too many down periods, it might be because you have perfectionist tendencies. Transform yourself into an optimist by: Viewing failure as an opportunity to learn  and understand that failure is part of a fulfilling life. Making room for pain . Don't deny yourself permission to feel painful emotions. Setting standards that are attainable because they are grounded in reality . Don't set goals and standards that are essentially impossible to meet. You can learn more about being an optimist by reading the book, The Pursuit Of The Perfect: How To Stop Chasing Perfection And Start Living A Richer, Happier Lif e,  by Tal Ben-Shahar

7 Tips For Setting Goals

Some of the best advice I've ever found about goal-setting is from two-time U.S. Olympian  Alan  Culpepper , as published the November 2013 issue of  Competitor  magazine. Here are his seven tips for setting goals , whether are your workplace or away-from-work goals: Be clear and specific about what it is you are trying to accomplish. Set intermediate goals that complement a long-term goal. Shoot high, but recognize the importance of a natural progression. Write your goals down. Review your goals periodically. Remind yourself often why you are working on your goal. And, remember even if you don't hit your goal, there is satisfaction the process.

How To Help An Employee Learn From His Mistakes

Mistakes happen. The best thing you can do as a leader is to  help your employee learn from his (or her) mistake . If your employee is afraid of ever making a mistake, he will be paralyzed from taking action or taking even calculated risks. If he knows that mistakes happen in the course of doing business and that one learns from making mistakes, you will have a more productive employee. Most important, be sure your employee knows that if he makes a mistake, he should let you know as soon as possible. As soon as he does, quickly rectify the situation. Then, discuss with him how the mistake happened. Find out what he did or didn't do. Ask him what he thinks he can do in the future to avoid the mistake from happening again. Chances are he has already figured this out. If not, teach him what he needs to do differently to avoid the mistake from  reoccurring . Finally, you may discover that the mistake happened because policies, procedures or your assignment instructions wer

How To Project A Professional Image

From Jay Miletsky's book,  101 Ways to Successfully Market Yourself , here  10 tips for projecting an effective professional image : Discipline yourself to be positive and enthusiastic. In tense situations choose positive responses by maintaining perspective and getting along well with others. Acknowledge mistakes and shortcomings and learn how to correct them. Develop a reputation for being a resourceful problems solver. Leverage your strengths and expertise to have maximum impact on the decisions you make. Be organized, efficient, flexible, and self-motivated. Master your tasks and fully expand your area of expertise so that you can boost your output. Keep up with the latest developments in your company and in your field. Cultivate unique talents that give you a definite edge. Gain visibility by taking the kind of action that will propel you into the right sights of management personnel.

Philanthropy Is About Involvement

Here's one more piece of great advice from Eli Broad's book,  The Art of Being Unreasonable : "Philanthropy isn't just a pursuit for the wealthy.   Philanthropy is about involvement .  Pick your issue, work at it, and do your best to make things happen.  Even if you're not wealthy, you have time, expertise, skills and other resources you may not even have realized that can be used to serve others."

4 Ways To Create Customer Satisfacation

Here are four great customer service tips from author Micah Solomon's book,  High-tech, High-touch Customer Service : You provide value when you deliver the  four components  that reliably create customer satisfaction : A perfect product or service Delivered in a caring, friendly manner On time (as defined by the customer) With the backing of an effective problem-resolution process

The Classiest "I Lost My Job" Email

A former co-worker learned last week that his job will be eliminated next month.  The email he sent to his customers, former customers, colleagues, former colleagues and friends is by far the classiest, most authentic, heartfelt I've ever seen. Below are excerpts from his email.  Talk about class! "If you are receiving this  " special email   " you have made an impact on my career.  For that, a very heartfelt “thank you." I was informed this week that my position...will be eliminated. First, to all of the customers I worked with over the years it was a pleasure to serve you.  I  tried  to autograph all of my work with excellence....For current customers, please let me know if there is anything I can do before my departure.  To all my current and former co-workers, it was a real pleasure working side-by-side with each and every one of you.  Keep up the good work.  Many of you have taught me important life lessons (you know who you are).

How To Help Your Employees "Click" To Drive Their Career Success

Research from universities around the country show that employees who "click" with each other at work have more career success.  And, those who "click" well get to the core of the office network within 18 months, while it can take years for those who don't "click" well. As a leader, there are things you can do and things you can encourage your employees to do to promote better clicking . Consider these findings from the research: How much you reveal about yourself to a co-worker helps you click. The more you open up and share your feelings, the more trust you build and the more likely you'll build a connection with a co-worker. Having an office or cubicle in the central area of your workplace increases your ability for clicking opportunities. Sitting near the middle of a conference table brings you more clicking opportunities , as well. Keeping your office door open, communicating in person versus e-mail or via the phone, allows you to