Learn How to Communicate on a Case-by-Case Basis for Better Results

_ThinkstockPhotos-76756624.jpgTo say that communication is important in the workplace is an understatement. This is true regardless of the type of business you’re running or even the industry you’re operating in. One study from McKinsey Global Institute found that not only does active communication bring people closer together in the workplace but in these types of situations productivity tends to improve between 20% and 25% on average.

At the same time, there is no “silver bullet” method to communication that will instantly get everyone on the same page. Only by looking to your employees as individuals, and playing to their own individual strengths and preferences, will you finally be able to see the communication gains that you so richly deserve.

Let the Employee Be Your Guide

Perhaps the most important thing for you to understand is that communication no longer means face-to-face conversations, -or at least it doesn’t exclusively. This is particularly the case regarding introverted employees, a staple at any organization.

Just because Ryan from Accounting doesn’t like to speak up in meetings doesn’t mean that he lacks communication skills. It just means that speaking in front of a group isn’t necessarily his forte. Instead of trying to force Ryan to adapt to your wishes, consider how Ryan would prefer to communicate.

Emails, memos, texting, one-on-one meetings, phone calls: these are all viable options regarding getting ideas across in the modern era. As a business leader, it’s not your job to get everyone to communicate the way you want to just because you prefer looking someone in the eyes when you tell them what they need to do next. It’s your job to make a note of the conditions that a person excels under and then do whatever you can to facilitate those needs whenever possible.

The Larger Implications of Communication

Consider the fact that according to one survey, an incredible 46% of employees said that they “rarely, if ever” leave a meeting knowing exactly what they’re supposed to do next. This is the danger of a “one size fits all” approach to communication. You end up becoming something of a “jack of all trades, master of none.”

One study revealed that 26% of employees think email is a major productivity killer. But when you reverse that, it means that 74% of employees think email is just fine. But it’s important not to create an “either/or” situation where one doesn’t have to exist. If you know that Robert is going to get the information he needs from an email, send away. If you know that Brenda is the type of employee who needs to sit down and talk out her next objective in person, be sure you make time for her in your schedule.

It’s up to you to find the right communication method that works for the individual so that everyone can be on the same page when it comes to contributing to the whole. 

It’s important to remember that according to a recent Gallup poll, 70% of employees in the United States said that they just weren’t engaged in work anymore. Creating an environment of open and honest communication is one of the keys to combating this issue head on. But you must also remember that no two employees are created equally.  An approach that works great for getting one employee to open up and become engaged in their work may be woefully inadequate for the next.

Only by making an effort to communicate on a case-by-case basis will you be able to generate a workplace where success is no longer a question of “if” but “when.”

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Triumph over Adversity

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Many of the most successful leaders in the world have been people who have triumphed over adversity. This list of individuals includes celebrities, world leaders, and business people. Notable figures include Nelson Mandela who spent 27 years in prison before finally becoming President in South Africa and Steve Jobs who was fired from his own company. Many people fail in their lifetimes, and then go on to become successful. Failure in itself is not the end. Instead, it is a lesson that can be applied to future endeavors.

What Can Failure Teach Us?

Without learning how to fail and pick yourself up again, most people would never learn anything new or complete any task. It is an accomplishment to fail, and then go on to make something of yourself by admitting that you have failed and refusing to be deterred from your final goal. While this concept can apply to any endeavor in life, it is certainly a concept that can be easily applied to business.

Living with Failure in Business

The business world is full of failures. Companies often have products that do not do well in the marketplace among the mix of products that they sell. In fact, most sales teams figure failure into their daily routine since they know that they will have to approach a lot of leads before they can turn some of them into buying customers. Many successful salespeople use rejections to tally how well they are doing. For instance, they may decide to make enough cold calls over the phone each day to tally up to a hundred “no, thank you’s.” The reason they count those no’s is that they realize that if they receive a hundred no’s, they will also have enough yes’s in that group of phone calls to make the quota of appointments they need to have.

Failure is a Requirement for Success

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” – Robert F. Kennedy

Greatness can only be achieved by someone who understands what it takes to become great. Therefore, failure is a requirement for success because it takes failure to appreciate success. While not every one of us needs to spend 27 years in prison to finally achieve our goals, the truth remains that unless we persevere towards our goals, we will not be able to achieve success in our careers or life.

Dealing with Failure in Business

As a business owner, it is very likely that you will make mistakes, disappoint staff and customers, and lose business from time to time. However, each time failure occurs, it is best to admit the failure, and then examine why it happened. By learning from our mistakes, we become better business owners and better people. Failure helps us relate to others who have experienced hard times and gives us the opportunity to connect with them as customers.

Dealing with Future Adversity

The next time you or one of your employees fails at a task, take the time to use the failure as an opportunity to learn and improve. Maybe the failure of one person can become a lesson for everyone, and it will lead to the next big success for your entire company.

Cowboy Wisdom

 

I came across an article that featured words of cowboy wisdom. Here are a few of my favoritekirks that I thought you might also enjoy:

  • Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.
  • A bumble bee is faster than a John Deere tractor.
  • Words that soak into your ears are whispered, not yelled.
  • Forgive your enemies – it messes with their heads.
  • You can’t unsay a cruel thing.
  • Every path has some puddles.
  • When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.
  • Most of the stuff people worry about never happens.
  • Don’t squat with your spurs on.
  • Don’t judge people by their relatives.
  • Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
  • Don’t interfere with something that isn’t bothering you.
  • If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging.
  • Always drink upstream from the herd.
  • If you’re riding ahead of the herd, look back now and then to make sure they’re still with you.
  • Never miss a good chance to shut up.

Here’s the way I see it: Knowledge comes from learning. Wisdom comes from living. If you have printing questions or need advice for your next big project, our team is here to help. Give us a call today at 856.429.0715 or visit: http://www.sjprinter.com

Taking Over: Tips for Becoming a Team Leader for an Already Established Group

 

ThinkstockPhotos-485561865Building a team is an inherently personal proposition, regardless of the industry in which you’re operating. These are people that you’ve hand-selected based on their unique strengths to come together to form a complete whole. When everyone is firing on all cylinders, a well-designed team is more than just a tool – it’s a reflection of yourself, of the type of work you do, and of the quality of the product you’re about to deliver.

So what happens when you didn’t form the team, but you’re still being asked to lead them?

Things change in business all the time and at some point, you may be invited to take the reigns of a project that had already existed long before you got there – inheriting the project’s team at the same time. Jumping into a team as the newly deemed leader can be a difficult situation to find yourself in, but it doesn’t have to be provided you keep a few key things in mind.

Trust – The Most Important Element of All

When you take over as the team leader for an already established group, one thing will become clear: you probably wouldn’t have made the same decisions had you been there from the beginning. It’s a bit like a Hollywood feature film when one director takes over for another – a movie is still going to get made, but can that new director still put his or her own stamp on what is about to happen?

The answer is “yes,” provided you take advantage of your most valuable asset of all: the team itself. Remember, the people in that group were selected for a reason, and the most important thing you can do right now is to trust them to guide you just as they’re trusting you to guide them. Remember that they WERE there from the beginning. They have experience in this context that you do not, and their experience is incredibly valuable. Don’t come in barking orders, changing this or that just so that the project is more “yours” than anybody else’s. Listen to what they have to say. Talk to them about what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. Instead of changing them to fit your needs, do what you can to make yourself malleable to address theirs.

You’ve Been Tasked With Filling a Void, So Fill It

If you’re coming in to lead an already established group, the chances are high that what you’re being asked to do is fill a void. Why the previous team leader was replaced no longer matters – the people in front of you were prepared to follow that person, and now that person is gone. What you need to do is throw any pre-conceived strategies you may have had out the window and learn the score, so to speak. Find out what challenges were present under the previous leadership and learn what you can do to correct them. Find out how you can provide your personal value in a situation that already existed before you got there. Take the time to learn precisely what type of leader these people need and do whatever you have to do to become it. In this situation, you need to be willing to become a collaborator almost more than you would if you had built the team in the first place.

These are just a few of the ways that you can successfully become a team leader for an already established group. Make no mistake – it’s an awkward position to be in, but above all else, the quality of the work can’t suffer due to an unfortunate identity crisis. By trusting these people who have already come together and by being willing to become a real collaborator in every sense of the word, you’ll be able to make this team your own over time – all without tearing down what was old to build something new in the process.

Know Your Limits: Why Boundaries Are So Important When Becoming a Team Leader

 

ThinkstockPhotos-101719561One of the key things that all successful team leaders find a way to overcome is the simple human need to be liked. When you’ve finally risen in the ranks and find yourself in a position of authority, it’s natural to want everyone to see you as “the cool boss” or “the friendly boss.” While this is absolutely recommended to a certain extent and it’s a whole lot better for productivity than barking orders and becoming the boss that everyone hates, you still need to know your limits. You need to draw a line in the sand and establish yourself as a team leader by setting boundaries for both yourself and those beneath you. This is something you can do in a few different ways.

The Dangers of Not Setting Boundaries

The potential pitfalls associated with not setting boundaries for your employees extend quite a bit deeper than just having people who look at you more as a friend and less as a leader. A lack of boundaries can also easily translate into a lack of clarity and direction. You might suddenly find that, while you have hugely talented people working beneath you, they’re not focused. They’re not engaged. They’re more confused than anything and nothing is getting done.

Another significant issue that a lack of boundaries can create has to do with your overall company culture. If you don’t set boundaries up front, your company culture could become damaged. People will become demotivated, which will ultimately cause their performance to suffer. This, in turn, not only affects the quality of the work that you’re able to deliver to clients, but also your entire company identity from the top down.

Setting Boundaries as a Team Leader

If you want to continue to blossom into the team leader you always know you were meant to be, you’ll want to focus on creating boundaries in a few key areas. You’ll want to create boundaries that help your employees focus, first and foremost. You need to do what you can to minimize distractions from EVERYTHING that isn’t critical to the task at hand.

You’ll also want to create boundaries that help build a positive working environment for everyone involved. Whether this means rewarding a job well done or just recognizing when someone turns in a particularly thoughtful piece of work, this will go a long way towards creating a positive emotional environment – which also helps stimulate brain performance and keeps your employees operating at peak efficiency.

More than anything, however, you’ll want to establish boundaries that keep your team functioning as exactly that – a team. Any activity or behavior that fragments your team instead of pulls them together simply won’t do. You need to always remind your employees that you’re all in this together and that every move you make, along with every move they make, needs to be focused towards the same short-term and long-term goals.

These are just a few of the many reasons why boundaries are such an important part of becoming a team leader. Everyone wants to be liked, but remember that you’re not in this to make friends – you’re in this to get the job done. The types of boundaries that you set need to minimize distractions and bring your team together, not pull them apart. Only then will you be able to grow into the true team leader you always knew you had hidden inside you.

Managing Customer Complaints

 

Marketing-297.jpgNo matter how successful your business, chances are you’ve had to (or will have to) deal with customer complaints. While it’s hard to think of customer complaints as a good thing, most of them are actually great problem-solving tools for your business, which can also build customer relationships. Here are a few tips how to manage customer complaints:

  • Always respond to customer complaints quickly, using empathy and creativity to come up with a solution that will keep your customers happy and coming back again.
  • If you can’t offer a solution (such as negative feedback about product designs), respond with compassion and let your customer know their opinion has been heard. Ask customers for suggestions for improvement. Sometimes the solution may be easier than you think. Use their feedback to learn more about your customers and how your business can grow in the future.
  • Be proactive. If you notice that something may be wrong with a customer’s order, it’s important to reach out to let them know you’re correcting it (even if they haven’t complained yet). In addition to an apology, you may consider providing a discount off their next purchase.
  • Offer several convenient ways for customers to express their dissatisfaction, such as customer surveys, comment cards, toll-free number, email, etc.
  • Follow-up with customers to be sure their issues were solved and they were satisfied with the outcome.

Regardless of the issue at hand, one of the easiest ways to ensure customer satisfaction is by reminding them you’re all ears. If you have any questions or suggestions for our print shop, we’d love to hear them! Give us a call today: 856-429-0715 or e-mail: info@sjprinter.com

Is Your Office a Gossip Shop?

 

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Gossip

Let’s face it – we all have our quirks. Part of working with others is the opportunity to develop collaborative working relationships. Other people’s habits and behaviors affect us when we are in a shared environment. In many instances, these are the people that we interact with for the majority of our days. As a natural result, friendships form as trust and respect are gained from our day-in and day-out interactions. You may have experienced this in your own company. And then, one day… BOOM! Like a bolt of lightening, an employee begins to engage in storytelling that looks and smells an awful lot like gossip.

“Did you hear about Kathy? She is dating one of her supervisors…” or “I think Corey is on something. He has been late a lot lately and his eyes are watery…”

And with that bolt of lightening you have an out-of-control wildfire on your hands. It only takes one person to spark this type of destruction. Once one person speculates to another and then another, that speculation soon becomes a “fact,” and the object(s) of the gossip are in a position to defend the truth. This type of defensive space can shut down trust and, as a result, the creativity and collaboration that take so long to cultivate are lost. Gossip wars can emerge with retaliation, and the cycle of destruction keeps on going.

So how can you protect your workplace from gossip? Here are a few tips to help you guide your employees in stamping out the gossip wildfire.

Change the Subject.
If a conversation isn’t heading in a positive direction, encourage staff to change its course by politely changing the subject. It can be easy to say something that’s interesting – and upbeat – while also sending them a clear signal that you don’t want to talk about whatever you perceive to be gossip.

Say something positive about the person who’s the target of gossip.
No matter how negative a story about a person may seem, we rarely have all of the facts and there are likely positive qualities to that person. Remind people who are engaging in gossip that the person they’re talking about has done or said something praiseworthy by mentioning something specific that’s positive.

Confront gossip politely yet firmly.
Stand up to people who are gossiping by saying that you don’t want to know about the story they’re trying to tell you. Don’t hesitate to call out gossip when you hear it, but do so with grace. For example, you could say something like: “That sounds like it is none of my business, so I don’t really want to hear any more. Let’s just drop it.” Encourage your employees to hold others accountable for their choice of words.

Point out missing information.
If all else fails, ask questions that point out gaps in a story, such as specific times and places of events that supposedly happened. Challenge gossiping people to tell you how they personally verified the information they’re spreading about others. Help them see that just because they heard a story doesn’t mean it’s true – and even if it is, they can’t possibly have an accurate perspective on the situation.

Making it clear to your staff that gossip will not be tolerated. Eliminating gossip in the workplace will perpetuate an ongoing culture of kindness and respect.