Business Tips

Communicate Better with Your Coworkers at the Office.

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You’d think we’d all be master communicators. All we do all day long is communicate. Talking, chatting, texting, emailing. Yet despite how often we do it, there’s always room for improvement.

Effectively communicating with coworkers is something you cannot afford to overlook. There are many things which can make or break the success of a company, and communication is certainly one of them. Despite the important role clear communication plays in the workplace, there are many employees that have not been trained in effectively communicating with coworkers.

7 Ways to Communicate Better with Your Coworkers:

1. Don’t bury the lede

Whatever your main point is, start there. If you need something, ask for it clearly. Be direct. Be concise.

2. Be a better listener

Effective communication, by definition, is a two-way street. Start out by making sure you’re hearing the message others are trying to deliver to you.

Don’t try to multi-task while someone’s trying to get information into your brain. Stop thinking about how you’re going to respond. Just listen, or slow down and really read the entire email, don’t skim it.

You can only respond effectively if you understand clearly what they’re trying to say. If they’re not being clear, ask them.

3. Understand your personal communication style

We all have our own communication preferences regarding the words and media we use. We’re also communicating nonverbal information through our tone and body language. Are you an eye-roller? Do you insist on including emojis in every thread? Do you speak in acronyms or corporate jargon? Do you ramble on about your pet peeves or memories of past times before getting to the point?

Take a good look at your own communication style preferences, strengths, and weaknesses. Don’t just listen to others. Listen to yourself. We all have pet phrases we get into the habit of using. Do those phrases help or hurt our message? Do they help people listen to us more attentively or tune us out?

Does your language build bridges? Encourage conversations? Inspire ideas? Or do people shut down? Ignore you? Talk over / past / around you? These are all clues as to whether or not your coworkers value you and what you have to say.

When you see that your message isn’t getting across, don’t automatically assume the recipient is the communication obstacle. It might be you. If it keeps happening, figure out how you can connect better with this person or in the specific setting. And that’s the key: create a connection, find a common thread you can both relate to authentically.

4. Respect people’s preferred communication methods/tools

We have so many communication options now. Almost too many. Everyone has their preferred medium. Respect that. If someone is notorious for not digging through long email threads, don’t expect them to find the question you asked of them if it’s buried inside your latest tome.

Do you have a coworker who never answers their phone? Stop calling. She’s probably communicating to you through some other tool. Use it.

5. Pick your moments

This one is so important. Sometimes it’s not how you’re saying it – the problem is when it’s being said.

If you’re concerned someone isn’t pulling their weight or making some mistake, raise it directly with them, not in public at the team meeting. Don’t assume the urgent issue you need to resolve right now is someone else’s priority. They have their own urgent issues, so don’t charge at them or send all-CAPS messages demanding a response right now.

Other bad moments? How about the all-hours emails and calls? An “always open” work environment wears people down.

Last, have some empathy for someone who’s stressed out. We all go there. Make some allowances when someone is obviously having a bad day. Even for those who are master communicators – stress can make idiots of us all. So learn when to give someone a break. Give it a rest. Your urgency doesn’t make it their urgency. Let the stressful time pass, and then make your request. You may discover it will happen all that much faster, and with less drama.

6. Build relationships, but stay professional

Of course there’s room to talk about non-work stuff with coworkers. We want to. We want to get along with and find common ground with the people we work with Everyone wants to feel connected to their coworkers to some degree. Getting personal at the right times helps us see coworkers as individuals, as real people with feelings.

But there’s personal and there’s personal. Don’t cross professional lines. A team chat channel isn’t Sunday brunch. No one wants to hear about your love life. TMI. It’s easy to cross this line with our business digital tools, since they feel and act like our social digital spaces. We need to remember they’re not appropriate for personal communication.

7. Stay constructive

When you do have to deliver a difficult message, stay constructive. The goal in communicating this message is to get a better result. Embarrassing someone or getting aggressive with them isn’t going to lead to a better result. No one shows up wanting to do a bad job.

8. Address mistakes

Whenever there’s a miscommunication that’s in the way of progress, address it quickly. Letting it fester doesn’t make future communications any easier.

Always be the first to admit whenever you’ve made a mistake. Apologize sincerely. Fix the mistake as best you can. By the same token, if someone else makes a mistake, don’t rub it in. Be gracious. Learn to forgive. Because holding on to anger only hurts you — not them.

As you work to improve your own communication skills, keep one guiding principle in mind: treat others with respect and consideration (aka “don’t be a jerk”). If you can master that, people will definitely be more open to what you’re saying.

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Business Tips, Delivery Service

Performance Review Time!

performance-reviewIt may be performance review time at your company and as a manager you will be asked to review your employees.  We are all busy with a workloads but it is imperative that you properly prepare for these reviews by doing some homework and giving some thought to the reviews. Are you interested in tips about how to make performance reviews successful in your organization? While performance review methods and approaches differ from organization to organization, universal principles about how to talk with an employee about his or her performance exist.

Performance Review Tips

1. The employee should never hear about positive performance or performance in need of improvement for the first time at your formal performance discussion meeting unless it is new information or insight. Effective managers discuss both positive performance and areas for improvement regularly, even daily or weekly. Aim to make the contents of the performance review discussion a re-emphasis of critical points.

2. No matter the components of your performance review process, the first step is goal setting. It is imperative that the employee knows exactly what is expected of his or her performance. Your periodic discussions about performance need to focus on these significant portions of the employee’s job.

You need to document this job plan: goals and expectations in a job plan or job expectations format, or in your employer’s format. Without a written agreement and a shared picture of the employee’s goals, success for the employee is unlikely.

3. During preparation and goal setting, it should be made clear as to how this will be evaluated.  Describe exactly what you’re looking for from the employee and exactly how you will assess the performance. Discuss with the employee her role in the evaluation process. If your organization’s performance review process includes an employee self-evaluation, share the form and talk about what self-evaluation entails.

4. Solicit feedback from colleagues who have worked closely with the employee. Sometimes called 360-degree feedback because you are obtaining feedback for the employee from his boss, coworkers, and any reporting staff, you use the feedback to broaden the performance information that you provide for the employee. Start with informal discussions to obtain feedback information. Consider developing a format so that the feedback is easy to digest and share with the manager.
If your company uses a form that you fill out in advance of the meeting, give the performance review to the employee in advance of the meeting. This allows the employee to digest the contents before her discussion of the details with you. This simple gesture can remove a lot of the emotion and drama from the performance review meeting.

5. Prepare for the discussion with the employee. Never go into a performance review without preparation. If you wing it, performance reviews fail. You will miss key opportunities for feedback and improvement, and the employee will not feel encouraged about his successes. The documentation that you maintained during the performance review period serves you well as you prepare for an employee’s performance review.

If needed, practice approaches with your Human Resources staff, a colleague, or your manager. Jot notes with the main points of feedback. Include bullet points that clearly illustrate the point you plan to make to the employee. The more you can identify patterns and give examples, the better the employee will understand and be able to act upon the feedback.

6. When you meet with the employee, spend time on the positive aspects of his or her performance. In most cases, the discussion of the positive components of the employee’s performance should take up more time than that of the negative components. For your above average performing employees and your performing employees, positive feedback and discussion about how the employee can continue to grow her performance should comprise the majority of the discussion. The employee will find this rewarding and motivating.

7. The spirit in which you approach this conversation will make a difference in whether it is effective. If your intention is genuine to help the employee improve, and you have a positive relationship with the employee, the conversation is easier and more effective. The employee has to trust that you want to help him improve his performance. He needs to hear you say that you have confidence in his ability to improve. This helps him believe that he has the ability and the support necessary to improve.

8. Conversation is the key word that should define a performance review meeting. If you are doing all of the talking or the meeting becomes a lecture, the performance review is less effective. The employee will feel as if he was yelled at and treated unjustly. This is not how you want employees feeling as they leave their performance reviews.

You want an employee who is motivated and excited about his ability to continue to grow, develop, and contribute. Aim for performance review meetings in which the employee talks more than half of the time. You can encourage this conversation by asking questions such as these.

–What do you expect to be the most challenging about your goals for this quarter?
–What support can the department and I provide for you that will help you reach these goals?
–What are your hopes for your achievements at our company this year?
–How can I be a better manager for you?
–How often would you like to receive feedback?
–What kind of schedule can we set up so that you don’t feel micromanaged, but I receive the feedback that I need about your progress?
–What would be a helpful agenda for our weekly one-on-one meetings?

If you take these performance review tips to heart and practice these recommendations in your performance review meetings, you will develop a significant tool for your management tool bag.

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Business Tips

Building a Better Relationship in Business!

Business relationships can take many forms. As an entrepreneur or small business owner, you obviouslSetWidth700-Sales-Team-Hands-Iny want to create good relationships with your customers or clients. You may also want to connect with other business owners for possible partnerships. If you are seeking funding, you will need to develop relationships with potential investors.

Young (or even older) entrepreneurs can benefit by finding an experienced mentor, another relationship that is necessary to cultivate. The type of people on this list will depend on your current situation and goals. There are, however, certain guidelines that hold true for just about all business relationships.

That’s why people who build extraordinary business relationships:

1. Take the hit.

A customer gets mad. A vendor complains about poor service. A mutual friend feels slighted.

Sometimes, whatever the issue and regardless of who is actually at fault, some people step in and take the hit. They’re willing to accept the criticism or abuse because they know they can handle it–and they know that maybe, just maybe, the other person can’t.

Few acts are more selfless than taking the undeserved hit. And few acts better cement a relationship.

2. Step in without being asked.

It’s easy to help when you’re asked. Most people will.

Very few people offer help before they have been asked, even though most of the time that is when a little help will make the greatest impact.

People who build extraordinary relationships pay close attention so they can tell when others are struggling. Then they offer to help, but not in a general, “Is there something I can do to help you?” way.

Instead they come up with specific ways they can help. That way they can push past the reflexive, “No, I’m okay…” objections. And they can roll up their sleeves and make a difference in another person’s life.

Not because they want to build a better relationship, although that is certainly the result, but simply because they care.

 

3. Answer the question that is not asked.

Where relationships are concerned, face value is usually without value. Often people will ask a different question than the one they really want answered.

A colleague might ask you whether he should teach a class at a local college; what he really wants to talk about is how to take his life in a different direction.

A partner might ask how you felt about the idea he presented during the last board meeting; what he really wants to talk about is his diminished role in the running of the company.

An employee might ask how you built a successful business; instead of kissing up he might be looking for some advice–and encouragement–to help him follow his own dreams.

Behind many simple questions is often a larger question that goes unasked. People who build great relationships think about what lies underneath so they can answer that question, too.

4. Know when to dial it back.

Outgoing and charismatic people are usually a lot of fun… until they aren’t. When a major challenge pops up or a situation gets stressful, still, some people can’t stop “expressing their individuality.” (Admit it: You know at least one person so in love with his personality he can never dial it back.)

People who build great relationships know when to have fun and when to be serious, when to be over the top and when to be invisible, and when to take charge and when to follow.

Great relationships are multifaceted and therefore require multifaceted people willing to adapt to the situation–and to the people in that situation.

5. Prove they think of others.

People who build great relationships don’t just think about other people. They act on those thoughts.

One easy way is to give unexpected praise. Everyone loves unexpected praise–it’s like getting flowers not because it’s Valentine’s Day, but “just because.” Praise helps others feel better about themselves and lets them know you’re thinking about them (which, if you think about it, is flattering in itself.)

Take a little time every day to do something nice for someone you know, not because you’re expected to but simply because you can. When you do, your relationships improve dramatically.

6. Realize when they have acted poorly.

Most people apologize when their actions or words are called into question.

Very few people apologize before they are asked to–or even before anyone notices they should.

Responsibility is a key building block of a great relationship. People who take the blame, who say they are sorry and explain why they are sorry, who don’t try to push any of the blame back on the other person–those are people everyone wants in their lives, because they instantly turn a mistake into a bump in the road rather than a permanent roadblock.

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Business Tips

Connecting with Customers in a Digital World

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Connectivity is transforming the buying experience. Called a mega trend by McKinsey & Company, hyper connectivity is “the increasing digital interconnection between people – and things – anytime and anywhere.” With 50 billion connected devices projected by 2020, this digital interconnectivity has become ubiquitous and is reshaping our world.

Consider B2C. As modern consumers, when we engage with companies selling to us, we have higher expectations. In an “Amazonized” society, we expect them to:

  •      Know who we are
  •      Have information about our interactions
  •      Understand our problem

With unprecedented convenience, on the spot order fulfillment, and highly personalized experiences, today’s online consumers call the shots.

And these experiences are impacting B2B sales. Just like in B2C, B2B buyers have come to expect the best possible experience. More than product or price point, the customer experience has become essential to attracting, selling to, and retaining today’s hyper connected customers.

Here are three of the main requirements to build a winning customer experience for the modern B2B buyer:

#1. Customer service that is hyper personalized

#2. Real-time insight to address customer needs and problems

#3. Continuous customer nurturing

 “The Usual Please!”

With hyper connectivity, we expect highly personalized recommendations delivered when we want them based on our particular interests and behaviors. To do this requires deeper insight into customer preferences and interests.

Selling is about serving customers. With more knowledge, businesses can serve customers better by engaging in a way that’s meaningful to them. Ultimately, this also produces more sales.

In B2B sales, your customers don’t want the email equivalent of a form letter – and good salespeople know that. All engagement – whether on the phone or via email – must be personalized according to previous interactions and tailored to that customer’s particular needs..

“I’ve Been Looking For Something Like This!”

Timing is everything when it comes to sales opportunities. If you’re in sales, you already know that up to 50% of sales go to the first responder. But to be that first responder in a hyper connected world requires a digital approach – or blind cold calling luck – and everyone knows how well that goes.

Companies all over are trying to figure out how to take advantage of digital to optimize their sales operations. According to Accenture partner Yusuf Tayob speaking at Dreamforce, sales operations need to think about data in three ways:

1)   internally available information

2)   publicly available information

3)   inferred data

Things start to get interesting when you realize how much inferred data can be captured through digital insights combined with internally and publicly available information. 

“I Can Take My Business Elsewhere.”

In our always-connected society, when you wake up and can’t get access to your Internet, it’s an issue.

Imagine if you couldn’t immediately connect with your provider about the situation. Imagine if your provider didn’t know the history of your account – or that this problem had occurred just the day before. Imagine if your provider didn’t make resolving the problem a top priority – or was unable to resolve it in a timely way.

Today’s sales reps must continuously be tending to customers, making sure their needs are being met. In a hyper connected world where everything is digital, it’s easy for customers to switch, and they have lots of choices.

Hyper connected customers have embraced a digitally optimized buying experience. They hop in at different stages of the buying process, and when they want to talk with sales, their expectations are higher.

To meet these higher expectations and gain competitive advantage, today’s sales people need to become digital “fishermen” rather than “hunters” or “farmers.”  By hearing what customers tell them through behavioral analytics, inferred data, and self-disclosed data on LinkedIn and Twitter, a digital fisherman can respond at just the right moment – with the right bait – to hook prospects and reel in the sale.

-Information cited in an article by Sales Hacker

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