- Create an outline before writing the content. Lay out how you want to present your message.
- Spend 80-90% of your time on creating a powerful headline and sub-headline. (Prior to writing the body content)
- Create a first draft without worrying about spelling, grammar, and format.
- First and last paragraphs are the most important. Rewrite these as many times as it takes to be very powerful. A good technique for the last paragraph is to create a brief summary.
- Use only a single idea for each sentence. Most writers have multiple ideas in a sentence. Keep it simple. (The exception is the headline where you can use up to 3 related ideas.)
- Use shorter words rather than larger. Seven letters or less is optimum.
- Create short sentences with 17 words or fewer.
- Eliminate words that are not necessary. Make sure your message is complete but condensed.
- Make statements that can be proven and backed up with facts.
- Use testimonials if possible. Quoting other professionals or experts endorses your position.
- Take time-off between rewrites/editing. Stepping away for a while provides a fresh look.
Source: Gary Sorrell, Sorrell Associates, LLC. Copyright protected. All rights reserved.
Why You Should Re-Consider the Importance of Teams
Many will agree that people are the most important asset of an organization. More importantly, however, is how well those people work together to accomplish the common goal. Whether a company has thousands of people working in various locations worldwide or just a handful working in one small office, teamwork is vital to success. So, how can you ensure that your teams are performing at their fullest potential? How do people contribute to the team differently? Have you built effective teams?
Get in the habit of organizing and prioritizing your day. You will become more productive.
This is a proven simple way to saving time, being organized and increasing productivity. Before leaving the office at the end of the day, or first thing the next morning, make a list of everything that needs to be done.
Next, prioritize your list. Give each one an A, B, C, D or E priority mark.
Here are some career mind-barriers found especially among new entrants to the workforce, from News from Kaplan, a fact sheet published by Simon & Schuster:
- Waiting to be discovered. Instead of making contacts, such people think they will be magically rewarded with fame and riches.
- Impostor belief. Some people feel they’re not really qualified to do the kind of work their employers want them to do. They’re afraid of being exposed as incompetent.
- I shouldn’t get paid for what I do: It’s easy for me. This belief usually crops up among people who are talented and love their work.
- Fear of failure. New workforce entrants often fear they won’t be hired or will end up penniless.
- Fear of success. Some people are afraid of doing well because they can’t imagine being recognized as an expert in their fields. They may even think that fame and fortune will hurt them in some way. They may think that family and friends will like them better if they stay “small.”
Source: Gary Sorrell, Sorrell Associates, LLC. Copyright protected.
Do You Start Your New Hires Off Correctly on Day One?
According to research done by Human Capital Institute, 70% of new hires decide to stay or leave a company within the first six months. Only 15% of companies continue the onboarding process beyond the 3-month recommendation, even though 93% of companies see new hire guides as important to their success.
You can gain long term commitment and retention with an effective onboarding process. New hires take time to become a productive part of the team. They may not understand some aspects of their job or how it relates to the overall strategy. Getting them up to speed takes time, planning and patience. However, they will become productive faster with an effective onboarding program than without one.
The pace that you set as a leader and the performance standards you demonstrate are key to driving excellence within your organization, especially when you are leading a new company. An astounding 80 percent of all new businesses fail in the first five years, and after that only 20 percent of the remaining businesses will thrive. Being one of the few prosperous new businesses requires resilience among its leadership: the ability to quickly recover from adversity, whatever it may be. Of course, this doesn’t imply that you are unaffected by challenges, but it may mean that those challenges have less impact on your tasks at hand.
If you don’t know where you are going, then any road will get you there! You must plan, execute and measure.
Who’s going to do the planning?
Whether the plan is for your entire company or just one department, you must make sure to get input from multiple levels.
Are you an effective leader? Look at the traits below and rate yourself in each area. This will give you an idea of your strengths and weaknesses to help you focus on becoming an even better leader.
Leaders are grounded. They know who they are and where they are going. They set the direction and pace for the organization and lead by example.
The best coaching “answer” is a question. A good coach asks questions to help you do, be and give your best with the right intention. Consider the following “self-coaching” questions. Maybe it’s time to hire a coach.
As leaders of businesses, it is often hard to keep up with the times and mold yourself into a great leader. Many people look on to people who are great leaders like Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and the late Steve Jobs to get inspiration. They mentor these people to see what they have done to make their businesses into international superstars. There are many leaders to pull on for inspiration. Finding the right niche to help you advance is an important factor to focus on. When you have the right motivation and niche to help you, you are ready to begin the process of becoming a great leader. It is going to be a long road full of difficulties and stress, but like so many leaders, it will be worth your time to invest. Here are a few suggestions to help you develop yourself into a great leader:
Exceptional leaders listen intently and pick up empathetically on the unspoken and intuitive clues from others. They grasp the other person's perspective and emotions. This allows for more effective communications and connections with others.
Sometimes we don't pick up cues, such as when to end a conversation. The other person can be giving all kinds of non-verbal cues that they want to complete the conversation and yet we keep on talking. We either misjudge or are unaware of the other person's internal state.
Truth be told, customers enjoy being satisfied. They want to be satisfied so that they can become comfortable with a particular company and know that they will be treated with respect. Customer service, even though the term itself is becoming cliché, is extremely important, not just to building customer loyalty and retention, but to improving a company’s bottom line.
Personal recognition is one of the most effective ways of motivating employees toward top-notch performance. Author Don Martin, TeamThink, offers these strategies:
Confer meaningful titles. It costs little to give an employee a title and provides recognition. The key word, though, is meaningful.
In today’s business world, being a personally accountable organization is more valuable than ever before. The average consumer’s hands are full just trying to pay the mortgage. Often, consumers complain that they have no confidence in the government, in banking or in big business, because these industries lack personal accountability. Where personal accountability is maximized, consumer confidence is increased. This increase in consumer confidence leads to the result every business is seeking to obtain; a healthy profit. Show a person that a business takes responsibility for its actions and decisions, and that person begins to trust.
An engaged employee is someone who is motivated, finds personal worth in his or her work and is committed to the accomplishment of goals. They consider their contribution to the organization as essential to achieving organizational goals. Exceptional leaders know that effective leadership is the key to developing and maintaining employee engagement.
Being successful in business relies almost completely on obtaining and retaining a steady customer base. Successful companies usually have 80% of their business dealings through approximately 20% of their customers. In all actuality, too many businesses are neglecting this pursuit of customer loyalty in order to obtain new customers. Any effort to obtain customer loyalty is worth it in the long-run and will pay off substantially down the road.
Research has shown that being positive and reacting positively yields better results in every aspect. Exceptional Leaders know that being positive pays big dividends. Moods are contagious.
Some leaders default to what’s wrong. Their first response to new ideas is “no.” They sort for the negatives, i.e. what’s wrong, what’s flawed, what’s missing, and what won’t work. This approach has some value; however, it is valuable only after the positives have been mined, and in the context of consciously playing the devil’s advocate.
In looking for what is right, what could work and what is working, the Exceptional Leader balances out the negative and critical approaches. The ratio should be five or six times positive for one negative.
Good or bad and whether we like it or not, emotions are abundant in the workplace. There has always been some question as to why employees behave a certain way while at work and now there is an explanation. Emotion and mood greatly affect how one behaves. Recently, it has come to light how important it is to know and understand the distinction among the two. Why? As an employer, your bottom line is to run a successful business and make a profit. Learning how to recognize and deflate an emotionally saturated situation will only benefit your bottom line.
An organization’s top talent holds the greatest promise to facilitate accelerated growth for that company. This group of employees consists of promising individuals who have career experience that stands out in their abilities, talents and commitment. Among them are the managers who have the advantage of broad experience and are being groomed for senior leadership roles. Corporate coaching can be valuable in helping these individuals unleash their potential and take their abilities to new levels.
The way you carry yourself has an impact on how you are perceived by others. Your "bearing" can convey confidence, poise, decisiveness and openness. It can also convey arrogance, aloofness, indecisiveness and powerlessness. Your posture also can have a significant impact on your internal state. Are you ambitious, full of energy, or are you listless and resigned? How you carry your body will influence your moods and what you can achieve.
- Communicate to everyone that accountability and commitment are important!
- Align every job description to your company's strategy and goals for the coming year. Ask everyone to commit to a shared vision of results.
- Make accountabilities clear for everyone by using the benchmark for their job to start a discussion about how their individual contributions matter.
- When you on-board new employees, have job-related professional development planning already in place to help them reach their full potential.
- Build accountability into your company culture using “what & by when” goal and task planning. Project management can be very sophisticated, but the bottom line is “who, what, and by when?”
- Offer ways for employees to communicate obstacles and request the help or resources they need to achieve their goals. When you listen to them, recognize that what you’re listening to is someone who is committed to producing results.
- “Catch” people doing something right: Give frequent, honest and positive feedback. As a general rule of thumb, a ratio of five positive interactions to one critical interaction will help managers build an open communication channel with direct reports.
Source: Reprinted with permission. Copyright protected by TTI Performance Systems
When hiring the talented performers that will set your company apart from competitors, it is important to look for certain leadership traits that can be developed in ways that can strengthen your organization and make it a force to be reckoned with. (Seek potential leaders who share your same goals for company development and mesh with your organization.) Choose those that will become admired leaders that the rest of your employees can look up to.
We often think of New Year’s as the time to start fresh and make those famous resolutions. But anytime is the right time to take control of our lives, to choose how we will live. Real success in life is about balance, about choosing priorities, and then following a plan to focus on the things that are most important to us. The following suggestions can help...
If a co-worker often fails to deliver what you need to complete a project on time, try to correct the problem with these approaches:
Well-managed, competitive companies have accepted the leadership challenge of creating an effective strategic plan for their business and sharing it with everyone in the organization. In doing so, they position themselves to respond to opportunities rather than react to market conditions and competitive pressures.
The Importance of Business Coaching
Business coaching is defined as an interaction intended to enhance performance and facilitate change. It focuses on sound inner judgment and that leads to the best possible outcomes. Business coaching has been practiced for years. When you have business coaching in your company, you are opening the door for advancement in the performance of your employees, thus your organization.
‘Overcommitted’ is an interesting term I hear often. Use of the term and your underlying assumptions may be a problem. The verb “commit” means “to obligate or pledge oneself”, so you may have pledged your time and energy too broadly. You are likely involved in a number of activities and roles at work, at school, in the community, and at home. You probably struggle “finding the time” and energy to keep your obligations. But are you really committed?
There is an old axiom: "You have to hunt where the ducks are.” This is especially true in selling. If you do not have a pipeline filled with prospects, you are not putting yourself in a position to sell very high volume. The champion salesperson recognizes that the lifeblood of sales is prospects. Before you can begin developing prospects, there are a couple of things that need to be defined.
Is excuse-making a problem in your office? Excuses are really just defense mechanisms, because employees fear blame, embarrassment, reprimands and firings. As a manager, it is your job to turn mistake-making into a learning experience for your employees.
You can become a better listener if you want. You can stop some of the main causes that affect listening before they begin. Changing your environment and approach to listening will result in better listening and better communications.
Control Distractions. One of the biggest distractions is the telephone. You are giving the speaker your full attention and then the phone rings. When you answer the call, you are sending the message that you are not listening and it interrupts the discussion and train of thought. You can avoid this by directing all calls to voice mail or having an assistant answer the incoming calls.
If you are a manager, consider the following:
Old-line hierarchical companies follow a football model of organization. Everyone lines up in a specific place under the direction of the quarterback. The quarterback is the only person responsible for seeing the whole field and determining strategy.
When you have your own act together and get along well with others, you’re ready to reach for excellence.
From our earliest days, we are taught that excellence is snazzy, glossy and bigger than life. It’s that three seconds of glory, not the constant training workouts. But that’s just false. Most people think excellence in business is sitting at a big desk and making power decisions, but true excellence is really the years beforehand making little and big right decisions and learning from mistakes when things go wrong.
Why should they follow you?
People follow leaders because they trust you and believe in you. They also have the confidence in you to take them to the next level.
However, it only takes one incident to break the trust and have people looking for leadership in others and not in you.
There may be people who will resist change because it is different or new. Resistance to change is a common and universal malady. Therefore, understanding some of the barriers to change may help in creating and implementing successful growth strategies.
Some common barriers to change and innovation are:
Maybe it’s the way you sleep – or dream. The body’s internal ‘clock’ runs on a 25-hour day, which can become inconvenient, since the earth runs on a 24-hour day. This inconsistency normally goes unnoticed. But the misalignment catches up with many people on weekends, when their ‘social schedules’ play havoc with their normal sleeping patterns. Nothing is more crucial to surviving Mondays than keeping the body clock on track on weekends.
How many times have you heard people say “I spend too much time in meetings to get anything done” or “I just attended another wasteful meeting” (maybe you have said something similar yourself)?
Make the most of every meeting for you and your staff by assigning roles and responsibilities for everyone involved. If everyone knows their role and responsibilities, your meetings will become more effective, efficient, focused and successful.
Increase business by asking for a referral from an existing customer. Referrals are one of the most effective and inexpensive ways to market.
In every business, mistakes happen and coworkers or customers get angry. But when a problem is fixed properly and stays fixed-- loyalty actually increases!
Here are five steps you can take to not only resolve the problem, but also actually build loyalty with your coworkers and customers. In fact, you can use these steps to deal with anger and build positive relationships in all areas of your life.
Meetings can be very effective for maximizing time, or they can be tremendous time wasters! More than 11 million business meetings take place each day in the U.S. and many, as you know, either go longer than necessary or are not needed at all.
If you are in charge of a meeting, here are some ways to make it more productive for all involved:
Leading staff through downsizing, resizing, rightsizing, (or whatever the buzz word is today) requires the leader to exercise superior planning, judgment and decision-making. It's a complicated task that involves the leader in recognizing the natural reactions of those that remain in the organization, and determining the right timing for moving the organization from the emotional reactions to a focus on the present and future. While it is difficult, the consequences of mismanaging or undermanaging the situation are severe. Both management and staff will suffer if the timing is wrong, or managers deny or avoid dealing with the fallout from downsizing.
“The service we render others is the rent we pay for our room on earth.” Wilfred Grenfell
Last evening I saw a standup comic go through his customer service routine. He was very funny and had the audience of about 200 people roaring with laughter. But I found myself thinking of his basic premise as being very different from my research and experience.
Today’s employers are looking for innovative and creative ways to attract and keep talented employees. Traditional recruitment and retention approaches focus on offering attractive pay and benefits packages. Yet, those well-intentioned efforts are falling short. In their ground-breaking work, First, Break All the Rules, Buckingham and Coffman have found that once an employee’s basic financial needs are met, talented employees want more. They want to know how their job impacts the overall good of the organization. They want to feel a part of the organization and they want opportunities to grow and develop their skills.
A successful mentoring relationship will help employees meet these vital developmental needs.
Employed properly, mentors create a safe environment for employees to discover (or rediscover) why their work matters as well as gives them a sense of belonging.
People can make a difference in the profitability and success of an organization. This is the conclusion reached in two books I have read – Peak Performance by Jon Katzenbach and Hidden Value by Charles A. O’Reilly and Jeffrey Pfeffer.
Katzenbach characterizes a high-performance workforce as follows:
- A large number (more than a third) of employees consistently exceed the expectations of their leaders and customers
- The average worker performs better than the average competitor’s worker
- A strong emotional commitment to higher standards and aspirations is reflected across the workforce
- The collective performance of the workforce is a competitive advantage and is extremely difficult to copy
What then is the secret to developing a high-performance workforce? The answer is simple – leadership.
Perfectionists set high standards and push themselves hard. That’s fine for self-motivation and career moves, but it can cause problems if they supervise others.
When your perfect protégés move to management positions and refuse to cut anyone any slack, you need to:
- Help them see and acknowledge that all people make mistakes, and that occasional mishaps don’t preclude success.
1. Start with the end in mind.
Develop a clear picture of what you want to accomplish. State the end results in one sentence that even a child can imagine, understand and remember. Consider the power of President Kennedy's goal "to send a man to the moon and bring him safely back home within this decade." Thousands of people did very detailed work and spent billions of dollars based on this simply stated goal.
2. Develop a written plan.
Get it on paper (or on the computer). Make the plan as specific as possible in terms of what will be done and by when.
3. Enlist support of others.
Let them know what you are doing, and how they and others will benefit from the results you want to produce. Invite them to lend their support however they can.
Studies have shown that outstanding salespeople share certain traits, whether they run their own business or work for someone else.
According to Jim Cathcart, well-known speaker and author of Relationship Selling: The Key to Getting and Keeping Customers, whether people are professionals isn't determined by the business they are in, but by the way they are in business.
As we think about our everyday life, we find most problems occur because we have failed to communicate clearly with someone. If we take a moment to think about why, in almost every case, we find that someone did not listen to what was said. This holds true in sales as well as in our personal lives.
If we are to have effective communication with each person we talk with, we must “tune the world out and the person in.”
What is a mentor? According to Greek legend, the goddess Athene liked to come down to earth disguised as a man named "Mentor" so she could advise the young son of Ulysses. (The Greek root "men" means remembering, thinking or counseling; we still use it in words like "mental.") Today, a mentor is an experienced and trusted counselor, anyone who guides and encourages another, especially someone younger.
If employees could be more productive for just one half-hour per day, the savings in lost time is amazing. Consider increasing productivity by: teamwork, better communication, better work styles, taking action quickly, resolving problems or being accountable. If 10 employees were earning $28.00 per hour, you would gain $36,960 per year, if the employee actually decreased their non-productive time by one half-hour per day.
How can you increase employee productivity for 30 minutes per day?
Sometimes, even on the best teams, emotions can spin out of control. An error occurs. You’re responsible. You apologize. But your teammate flies off the handle. You need to preserve your working relationship with this person. Here’s how to do it:
Step 1 – Do little or nothing. Let your teammate vent. It may be difficult to sit still and take abuse from an angry person, but doing so will allow her to vent some pent-up anger. Remember: Never tell an irate colleague to "calm down" or behave in a certain way. This will only increase her anger.
Effective e-mail messages begin at the top. Save time and set a good example for your staff by keeping these tips in mind as you type:
Use short, specific, and concise subject lines to help others identify your e-mail message's purpose and importance. They also motivate recipients to read and reply.
One simple and effective technique will help you solve most of the difficulties your team runs into. Follow these steps:
1. Define the problem.
Do some research and include all the details. If a series of tasks was mishandled, include notes on each job and try to pinpoint where each error occurred.
Sharpen communication between you and your staff members by following these guidelines:
No matter where you are in your career, taking the leadership role in your organization is a given. Here is the lesson about creating leadership momentum. It’s not about you, it’s about them.
True leadership begins through valuing others. In working with many law firms, major corporations and associations, everyone plays a leadership role, from the receptionist all the way through the organization to the top dog.
How to become the boss everyone loves to praise rather than the boss everyone loves to hate!
1. Acknowledge your staff.
When a member of staff does a job well, make sure you notice it, and acknowledge her or him for it. Don't let the opportunity to praise a piece of good work go by.
2. Never, ever, humiliate anyone on your team.
If you are annoyed with someone on your team, or they have done something wrong, make sure you keep your cool, especially in public. If you humiliate someone, he or she will hold a grudge against you, and their work will suffer too.
3. Create a culture where mistakes are OK.
If you don't make mistakes, chances are you are not stretching yourself. If your staff are allowed to feel that mistakes are part of reaching for new highs, rather than something to feel bad about, or shamed for, then they will take more risks on your behalf.
Most of us have been in a situation where we’ve seen someone in our workplace get a promotion that we were hoping to earn. Maybe they have worked for the company for a less amount of time than you have, or possibly you feel that they aren’t as deserving of the promotion because you are better qualified for the job. Either way, you don’t think that they should have been awarded the promotion. How did they get noticed enough to receive the promotion? Here are some things that you can do to stand out and finally win that big promotion.
Interviewing takes a lot of time and effort. One thing that may be helpful in keeping interviews bias-free is using this 5 step process.
1. List of questions
Create a list of questions that you ask each interviewee. Why? You’ll be able to compare your candidates “apples to apples” if you ask the same questions. Remember, the goal is have bias-free interviews and this will ensure that happens.
Interviewing takes a lot of time and effort. One thing that may be helpful in keeping interviews bias-free is using this 5 step process.
Do you have any "friends" who call only when they want something? Are they your favorite people? Do you contact customers only when you're asking for their money? Or do you keep in touch for other reasons? Do salespeople call on you only when they want you to spend money? What if, instead, they called you with a lead, a referral, or an idea? Wouldn't that make you think you were more than just a customer? That they cared about you and your business?
As a leader in your organization, how much impact do you have on its performance?
Probably more than you know. You may have been a leader for many years now, or recently promoted. Your organization may be a for-profit business or a church organization. It may be a not-for-profit community service organization or a local sporting organization. It matters not. What matters is that your leadership of your organization will directly impact the results you get.
Companies spend a lot of money recruiting and hiring new employees, only to forget about them when they start.
Here is how to start off correctly with your new hires:
Inform everyone of when the new hire will start working, and ask him or her to make a special effort to make that person feel as though they made the right decision coming to work here. Make them feel a part of the team.
Great salespeople are great listeners – Period. Case closed. They have developed the ability to hear their customers and clients, understand their needs, and meet those needs with products and services. How great a listener are you? Answer most given: Not good enough.
Here are four key points to help improve your listening skills:
We've all heard the adage "You can't argue with success." But if you don't question your own success, you're doomed to eventual failure. Here are some ways you and your staff can fight complacency:
Court complainers. Not all of your customers are happy. Bring in unhappy customers and let them speak directly to employees about product or service improvements.
The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of ATTITUDE on life.
ATTITUDE, to me, is more important than education, than money, than circumstance, than failures, than success, than what other people think, say, or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company…a church… a home.
Everyone in your organization must know how vitally important customer service is in your business. Good customer service starts with good training of your employees. Here are a few suggestions to help your organization keep your customers beaming and eager to come back for more.
Do you think your employees are happy? Consider these findings from a recent survey of 700 workers at 70 firms:
- 54% said management decisions aren’t explained well.
- 61% reported they aren’t well-informed about organizational plans.
- 64% admit they just don’t believe the information that management dishes out.
So if you see signs that your staff’s disgruntled, regain their loyalty with these five key elements:
Successful managers should be able to anticipate and adapt to changes in their industry. The following are some quick tips to help you spot trends that may affect your job:
Scan your junk mailbox before deleting emails and your junk mail before discarding it. What trends in advertising, marketing, new products and emerging technologies can you see?
A large percentage of a person's day is spent communicating with other people such as customers, employees and managers. This communication can be in person, on the phone or in writing. Even your body communicates a message when you haven't said a word. Being able to communicate effectively is an important skill that can be learned.
Busy professionals with a strong desire to achieve sometimes fall into slumps which can destroy creative drive. Do your best to avoid these slumps by accepting that you cannot do everything. Delegate responsibilities to others qualified to perform the task. They should share your goals for success.
Many managers are eager to compliment, but often neglect to criticize. It is so hard to tell another grown-up when they have done something incorrectly. But managers are responsible for helping others grow and need to help mentor their employees.
You don't have to be afraid of delegating work to others if you follow these principles:
Make Appropriate Assignments
You know the capabilities of each of your associates. When you plan their assignments, consider which person can do which job most effectively and efficiently.
Leadership roles involve many skills, from being a good compromiser to functioning as the group conscience by keeping discussion moving toward the common goal.
Are you using your time efficiently? Do your actions support your goals and job requirements? Checking items off a to-do list is less important than performing tasks and activities that support you. Doing a lot is less productive than doing the right things. In order to get what you want, you need to produce results. You do this not by managing time, but by investing it to produce the highest return.
1. Get the right people. Motivation is primarily in the selection. Find people who are both capable and motivated to achieve the goals you help set for them.
A lot of business leaders have the idea that if they just post a job opening in their company, that talented candidates will start beating down their door. Yes, a good number of people will apply for the positions, but are these individuals top performers?
Whether negotiating the biggest deal of your career, coaching your team, or describing a project, keep your ears open. Otherwise, you may talk yourself right out of the room.
It’s a mistake to expect everyone to react to change in the same way. Instead, say consultants Kathy Kolbe and Jim Woodford, it makes more sense to benefit from what Kolbe calls the instinct-based actions of these four personalities: