Feb 14

Promote Better Communication By Eliminating Physical Barriers

Face-to-face communication may at times seem daunting, but it’s almost always the best way to get your point across.

With e-mail, telephone, instant messaging and a host of other communication channels available in today’s workplaces, you may find it difficult to figure out which one works best for your department.

But remember that face-to-face communication is still by far most effective. Continue reading

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May 26

MANAGEMENT MINUTE: Supervise former peers effectively

supervise-former-peersSo you’ve just gotten the promotion you were after and now you find yourself managing people who used to be your peers. How can you take on this new role successfully?

Switching gears isn’t easy. Here’s some advice from Erin White’s article titled How New Managers Supervise Their Former Peers about the extremes you want to avoid and how to sidestep them:

Scenario 1: One of the gang. The first extreme many new managers take when they find themselves managing former peers is to stick with their friendly relationship. These managers keep up close ties and often don’t draw the line between supervisor and employee. In this case, it’s difficult for the new manager to exert her authority, according to White.

What to do instead: It’s more effective to listen to an employee’s personal problems and offer company avenues for help, such as employee assistance, rather than dishing up your own advice, which may step beyond the manager-employee boundary.

Scenario 2: Laying down the law. The opposite extreme is to overcompensate for a new promotion by immediately exerting your authority over former peers. Some new managers might be overly critical or scold employees in front of their peers to leave a dominant impression.

What to do instead: You should confront an employee who used to be your peer about a business issue in private. You should also take a firm stance. Acknowledge that what you need to discuss is separate from your friendly relationship with the employee, says White. Keep your tone of voice low but firm. Most employees will respond well.

Scenario 3: Avoiding confrontation. Another mistake some first-time managers make is to avoid coaching employees who used to be their peers. If the employee makes an error, the manager fixes it himself without mentioning it to the employee.

What to do instead: What many managers don’t realize is that they’re also keeping employees from developing professionally. Offer additional training or coaching to the employee without being too harsh. You might also want to sprinkle in some positive feedback with your criticism.

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May 19

MANAGEMENT MINUTE: 4 qualities to look for in your coach

qualities-in-your-coachYou’ve poured over your company’s balance sheets and attempted every in-house training you can think of — but your business still seems shaky.

Solution: Now may be the time to bring in a business coach, says Gary Hensen, president and founder of www.BusinessCoach.com. A coach can help you “focus on your goals, make concrete plans, and work towards executing them in an effective manner,” he explains.

Remember: Not every coach is created equal. Look for these professional qualities in yours:

  • Accountability. Your coach’s job is to whip you and your employees into shape. That means he must be accountable for pushing you toward excellence — but it also means that he must help you be more accountable for the decisions you make each day. How: A business coach might ask you to list your duties and responsibilities, and their effect on the company. Then he might help you prioritize and streamline your obligations so that they are more effective.
  • Open communication. When you hire a coach for your company, you must ensure that he communicates his ideas and strategies effectively. For instance, if he wants to make a change, he should be able to explain concisely why the change is important, how it will happen, and what bumps you’ll encounter in the process. Best: Before you sign a coaching contract, take a few days to interact with the coach. Does he respond effectively to emails or telephone calls? Do you understand what he hopes to help you accomplish? If not, you may want to keep looking.
  • Strategic planning. Anyone can tell you what you’re doing wrong, but a good business coach will also help you figure out ways to correct those problems and get your company moving in the right direction. Do this: Ask a potential coach to share a few of the winning strategies he has developed for other companies. Find out what challenges he overcame to develop that successful plan.
  • Leadership development. Your coach isn’t just a problem solver — he should also a teacher. Ask him how he’ll turn your employees into leaders.
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Feb 03

MANAGEMENT MINUTE: Rekindle your passion at work

rekindle-your-passion-at-workThink back to your first day on the job. Were you nervous and anxious to do the best job you could? Now think about yesterday — did you feel the same excitement?

Chances are, your answer to that question is “No.” Everyone wants to follow their passion, but that’s easy when passion’s flame is fresh. However, as that flame fades, you must work harder and harder to remain passionate about your career.

Good news: You can re-ignite your joy for the job you perform. These four strategies will get you started:


  1. Stoke your own fire. Passion comes from your heart, which means no one can light that flame for you. If you aren’t sure of your passion or how to reignite it, try speaking to people you admire or retrace your steps so that you remember what pushed you on your career path to start with. Interesting:As a manager, your employees may look to you for inspiration. By being a fair, compassionate leader, you may help them keep their fires stoked.
  2. Redefine your passion. What motivated you early in your career may not be enough to motivate you now. You have different perspectives, skill sets and values than you used to. Try this:Set goals that match this stage in your life. Determine what you hope to accomplish and then focus on that. This new vision will help you remain invested and passionate about your career. Example: Perhaps you began your career hoping to make your company excellent. Now that you feel comfortable with your performance, you may want to focus on cultivating your company’s next generation of leaders as a coach or mentor. This simple change in focus can be enough to revitalize your energy and pump up your professional spirit.
  3. Get used to being uncomfortable. Often, a slump in passion results from increased monotony at work. You can break out of that slump simply by doing things differently — or doing different things. Try this: You could take your skill set to your local community college or organization for a series of lectures or apply your business experiences by expanding your company’s operations into the global arena. When you shake up your daily life, your passion could multiply astronomically.
  4. Focus on the big picture. Thinking about a cause or problem outside of yourself can be a powerful tool for rekindling your passion. You may find that your current position doesn’t offer the same challenges that attracted you in the beginning, but another group or cause does. Think of it like this: Now that you’ve conquered your career, you could use your skills and experiences to solve other people’s problems. For instance, if you figured out how to streamline your company’s finances, you may be the perfect person to work with a non-profit agency to work out the kinks in theirs. As the source of your passion matures, consider the many ways your career can evolve, as well.
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Dec 16

MANAGEMENT MINUTE: Turn customers into partners

customers-into-partnersLeaders must set the tone for their staff and there’s no better way to do that than by determining which customers to target and how to capture their attention.

Your job as a leader is to know, understand and deliver the services that your customers want and need,” says success coach Matthew Tomkins. Here’s expert guidance for identifying — and making the most of — your customers’ needs.


Learn More About Your Clients

Just because you’re leading the team doesn’t mean you know everything there is to know about your customers. Rectify this problem by selecting two or three customers a month for a one-on-one chat.

Try this: Make a list of your existing customers that you update monthly. Randomly choose which customers you’ll chat with, then draw a line through their names. Once you’ve spoken with each customer at least once, you can start the process over.

What to say: Use your telephone time with clients to ask them specific questions about their needs and how your services can help them better. You can also use this time to find out what training services or tools your customers would like.

These quick interviews will help you discover who your customers are and how they’re using your products. You can also spot commonalities among your customers that could spawn new services.

Keep Marketers In The Loop

Now that you have a better grasp on both your customers’ personalities and how they’re using your services, you can share that information with your marketing team to improve your communications.

Example:Perhaps many of your customers highly value your on-site training. Your marketing team should promote those aspects of your company in all advertising materials and pitch meetings. They can even include client testimonials as proof of your company’s reputation.

Sharing this type of information will ensure that you continue to attract new customers– and keep your existing ones.

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