Tag Archive: management


Decisive Entrepreneur

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An overview on one aspect that captures almost all the economic activities include a representation to a change. This clue distinctions of when and where supports all those interested wantings for the future development and innovation, in the activity of the products and the services desired for the necesary market.

You never know where you are going to find a good idea.

That may sound like a saying from a fortune cookie. But for Normal CEO, and founder, Nikki Kaufman, it’s a management style.

It’s also why the headquarters of her 3-D printed custom earphone company are open and transparent across departments. It’s a guiding principle on how to run a team.

I encourage new ideas all the time here at Normal. That’s one of the things that I really like about having everyone in one office.
She included this advices from the floor of her New York City retail location, which also serves as the company’s factory and corporate office along with an incredible pursuatiation for advocating content into the shared markets .
An idea can come from anywhere.”



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Corporate trajectory

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The business landscape will look dramatically different in coming decades

 

A culture change dialogs across geography, across business units and also across functions. By embracing people’s differences, we can spark innovation, better understand and serve our customers and gain competitive advantage.

Driving a successful diversity strategy begins with the senior leaders, but to be fully sustainable it needs to be lived by every one of us. If that seems challenging, think about this: many leading researchers and social scientists have proven a link between diversity and productivity. In the United States, management researchers found that when people work directly with someone with at least one diverse trait, it challenges them to prepare more and work harder. By embracing diversity in your business today, you can adopt an intrapreneurial mindset and sustainable skills that will help you succeed. Here’s how you can start:

 

Learn to think like an intrapreneur

Intrapreneurship, or disrupting internal processes or cultural norms, is at its heart about innovation. One group of innovators in particular figured out how to advance their industry through the way they approach challenges – these are open-source software engineers, and they use design thinking. It’s a good example of what intrepreneurship can be: pick a diverse team with a range of experiences and perspectives; make your mistakes early and be open about them.

Without the diverse and constant input, these engineers would be less successful in the way they solve challenges. When faced with a difficult task or situation, seek out advice from new and diverse sources, most likely you will find an improved approach.

 

Discover new places to network

As collaboration with diverse individuals provides new points of view, networking accomplishes this on a larger scale. By going to events for closely related professions, or simply connecting through social media channels such as Twitter or LinkedIn where you can virtually engage in conversations with anyone, you put yourself in a position for growth.

Inside your organization you can join or organize a powerful employee network with a diverse set of peers. While interacting with your network, look for, accept and appreciate differences. Friction leads to heat, and our heat makes the atoms move faster!

 

Focus on the strengths everybody brings to the table

We are brought up in the Western World to focus on what doesn’t work or what is different. Challenge yourself to appreciate the differences of others and see them as potential drivers of change. The more opinions, the more variety, and the more diversity we bring to the table the more we can unchain our creativity, which is hidden in every one of us.

People with different communication abilities, for instance, can be diverse. Autistic people are known for thriving in repetitive tasks, which is an especially valuable skill set in today’s data-driven work environments. These skills help uncover insights into customer behavior and business trends, and can lead to discoveries that alter how a company operates. In the future of work, diversity will not be an option, but an imperative to sustain in our global, fast paced economy, where never just one person owns and knows the truth.

 

Stand up to discrimination

Stand up if you see or experience discrimination.Raise your voice for the unheard opinion. Help others appreciate how every person has a different strength and realize that in that strength there is opportunity to grow and be more productive. For instance, if a colleague comments that a women aren’t as capable of understanding technology, remind them that CEOs Meg Whitman at HP and Marisa Mayer at Yahoo! have both outlasted their male predecessors. By being critical of someone’s weakness you miss the chance to appreciate and benefit from their strengths.

The need for new perspectives becomes especially important when we examine the future workplace. As our world gets smaller, diversity doesn’t only mean differences in gender and race, but age and geography as well. Our world has become ultra-connected – successful companies find that to harmonize these connections relates directly to how fast they innovate. The implications are key for our global workforce because innovation thrives when we are faced with the unfamiliar. Diversity is what makes business more sustainable.



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A chance to catch up on much-needed reading to refresh and recharge your standards and leadership style scoured this lists of books that helped to look at life and work in a whole new way. While these books are not your typical newest releases, they have timeless value and are best read together to rejuvenate yourself and, by extension, your team.

The review by Rebecca Talbot, Content Marketing & Research Manager & Leadership Story Lab sais:

Feeling comfortable in our workplace can have its downsides. It’s easy to fall into patterns and make assumptions about the people we spend our days with.”

The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier offers a way to get beyond our assumptions about our coworkers’ behavior and learn their stories instead. Stanier’s short book explores seven questions managers can use to get people talking, and to train themselves to avoid thinking they “already know” what’s motivating people. His first question is simply:

What’s on your mind?

When we are willing to start our conversations with an open-ended question, the answers might surprise us!And that’s Stanier’s whole point-that we need to approach each other with far more curiosity.

The “what’s on your mind” question resonated with me because it is a question my dad used to ask me often when I was a teenager. The respect and curiosity implied in the question worked well to encourage a teenager to talk.

Likewise, family, friends and colleagues generally need an invitation before they will share what’s been important to them lately. Now that Stanier has reminded of that, I’ll be using this question more frequently.

 


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Exploring Corporate Strategy

1. Human resource management and global business strategy

Challenges position, choices and action that should be seen as closely related. In practise none has priority over another, this sequence is not meant to suggest that the process of strategic management must follow a neat and tidy path. Indeed, the evidence on how strategic management happens in practice suggest that it usually does not occur in tidy ways.
Elements of strategic management in linear sequence is characterised first by understanding the strategic position, than strategic choices and finally putting strategy in action. Indeed, many texts on the subject to just this. However, in practise, the elements of strategic management do not follow this linear sequence, they are interlinked and feed back on each other.

The inter-connected circles of the above exhibit are designed to emphasise this non-linear nature of strategy.

Corporate social responsibility is among the top challenges. Companies face when expanding into new markets, especially in developing regions.

Business practices that are acceptable locally are frequently at odds with the values of the company and the laws of its regulatory agencies. This creates a tug-of-war between social responsibility and the need to be successful in those markets, which can turn into significant risk.
Guiding corporate strategic decision-making challenge incorporating the human capital opportunities and risks from operating abroad into corporate strategic decision-making workforce opportunities that are marked both by steady improvements through the political machinations that open trade across borders and enable cross-border migrations, and by sudden and often unexpected changes such as the relaxation in relations between the United States and Cuba; conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Ukraine; and dramatic swings in oil prices.
The challenge for companies is to remain nimble to take advantage of the opportunities while avoiding the risks. HR’s challenge is to gather, assess and understand all the cultural, labor and market complexities of operating in each market so that the company can predict opportunities and risks, know when to enter or exit a market, and integrate successfully into new local markets.
The success of a company’s global growth hinges on HR integrating the workforce. HR-led teams need to assess the complexities of bringing together workforces with often dissimilar societal and corporate cultures. HR can, for example, identify potential roadblocks early and plan interventions before problems arise. The food facilities management company Sodexo identified a need for diversity and inclusion across its 355,000 employees from North American to China. It developed training programs that resulted in significant numbers of women, youths, people with disabilities and indigenous workers productively joining its workforce across the globe.

2.Making the business case for CSR

The challenge for HR is to gain a detailed understanding of local environments and their accepted business practices. It then needs to establish protocols that are customized for each region and communicate these protocols throughout the organization and across its supply chain.
When local labor laws or practices conflict with the organization’s CSR policies, HR needs to be the voice of the individual and ensure that the company maintains its integrity, even when this goes against the potential economic value.

HR faces the additional challenge of demonstrating to the company how good CSR policies strengthen the brand, increase customer loyalty and boost shareholder value.

3.Balancing corporate and societal cultures while promoting diversity

Some cultural attributes, such as a command-and-control management style, can be modified to fit local cultures, while others, such as integrity and human rights policies, cannot be compromised. HR needs to understand and deal with the complexities, deciding which corporate culture elements can change and which are essential to protecting the organization’s values and ethics. The company cannot change anti-bribery policies, but it may choose to change its dress-down-Fridays rule.

Management may also choose to impose cultural elements, such as giving back to the community consistently across the global organization. The challenge becomes even more complex when dealing with new workers, those engaged through means such as crowdsourcing, as well as remote and temporary workers.

HR also needs to develop programs to assist executives to adapt when they move from the head office to regions with different societal and cultural norms.



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Differentiation Strategy

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Every business faces an identity crisis during its evolution. Executives of young companies are constantly questioning how to build a differentiated identity in a saturated industry. Even pioneers in uncharted territory will, before too long, need to find their voice.”

Intense competition means you’re onto something good. It also means your industry will shape you if you are not tenacious about defining yourself. There are three fundamental strategies that are instrumental in distinguishing a company from its peers:

 

1. Cultivate a work environment that enables you to hire exceptional people

The prospect of achieving true value-driven business hinges on your ability to recruit the best talent in the industry. “A” players want to work alongside “A” players, so there is nothing more important than building a strong nucleus of talent. Hiring hastily during an inflection point of your growth can be the kiss of death in creating a culture of excellence.

Nothing gets top-tier employees more excited than being challenged to take on outsized responsibility, yet most work environments still adhere to a stripes-earning, teeth-cutting, dues-paying mentality that stifles growth.

One of the ways you’ll be able to succeed in attracting exceptional talent is by showing that you strive to be a perfect meritocracy, unfettered by the requirements around age or experience.

 

2. Question everything but challenge selectively

Adhering solely to industry standards and best practices is a surefire way to camouflage a company in the market. Businesses strongly positioned for long-term success tend to believe adamantly that their industry’s best practices have yet to be discovered. There is an important distinction between questioning every industry assumption and assuming that every industry practice is flawed – it is a thin line between curiosity and arrogance. In the quest to innovate, leave no stone unturned. If the industry got it right, turn that stone back over.

For instance, when it was set out to build Urban Compass, it was aimed to innovate on three fronts:

Scope: While most real estate firms tackle a very thin sliver of the real estate experience, they wanted to build a product for the holistic experience – search, schedule, visit, purchase, move, and connect to new neighborhoods.

Technology:  They have bringed data and technology to a space in which no one had founded a way to harness these elements in a valuable way.

Compensation: They’ve callenged the assumption that agents should be paid on commission and piloted a salaried real estate agent model, in which agents received bonuses for delivering good customer service.

While it was gained a tremendous traction because of the innovation on scope and technology, it was found that the initial innovation on compensation was actually detracting value: it had prevented from hiring top performing agents who wanted to benefit from the upside of commission, and misaligned incentives for the current agent base, who were being paid to be nice, not to help their clients close deals. From since it was turned that stone back over, and it was a match to the industry standard on paying out commissions.

This was an important lesson:

Be exhaustive in questioning industry assumptions, be selective in challenging.

 

3. Focus relentlessly on value

Proclaiming the need to focus on value may sound like a truism, but it is remarkably easy to forsake the path of substance. Businessman and author Ben Horowitz aptly said in order for a customer to switch to your product, it needs to be 10 times better than the product they are currently using. The only way to ensure this is by employing a laser focus on value and eliminating all distractions.

This demands not only discernment between value and distraction, but requires the discipline not to pursue the distraction. As a young company, you’ll face this challenge every day, and sometimes the choice is between less engaging tasks to create value or more interesting tasks destroying value. Making the choice to select substance over splash is critical in building a deep, unique product.


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Outthink The Future

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| Identifying and Engaging |

One of the main reasons for this failure rate is that entrepreneurs don’t identify their target demographic correctly. Without clarifying your core customers, selling is ultimately a function of individual, heroic efforts in the field, not a scalable platform for growth.

The following four steps can reverse this downward trend:

 

Assemble and analyze customer data

Every firm should know how customer attributes link to core selling metrics, including profitability, cost of customer acquisition and customer-lifetime value. While this information is often scattered across multiple functions in a company, it’s worth pulling together to establish a common language of customer value across functions.

 

Get the field involved

People in frontline positions hold the best understanding of customer behavior as it relates to the seller’s cost implications and should be involved in reviewing the data gathered. What can they tell us about profitable or unprofitable customer attributes? What else might be driving customer acquisition costs in a segment? What are the implications for the organizational change?

 

Determine who actually generates cash

Implications from deeper understanding of your customers typically involve changes in how you measure sales effectiveness, performance reviews, incentives, product mix, channels and sometimes “addition by subtraction,” or the process of improving performance by not selling to certain types of customers. The costs of serving customers, for example, can vary dramatically for the seller. Some customers require more calls, some buy few large production-efficient order quantities and others may buy more in overall volume but with many just-in-time orders, impacting delivery and other cost-to-serve elements.

Sales people can be dogged optimists in their call patterns, often assuming that “there must be a pony in there somewhere.” Yet by knowing who the customers that generate cash really are, you’re able to clarify the value proposition embedded in a strategy and align resources accordingly.

 

Communicate your criteria

The breadth of potential changes means that communication is critical. Leaders must devote time and effort to discussing the rationale and what they mean for the business. In practice, most companies do not take customer selection seriously until things go sour. However, communicating customer criteria now can contribute to faster decision making and greater profit later.

The marketplace has no responsibility to inform you whether or not your sales people are barking up the wrong tree.

It’s your responsibility as an entrepreneur to think through and clarify your customer selection criteria. Done correctly, it can provide a scalable sales model, focus resources and establish an ongoing process for adapting your criteria in the face of inevitable market changes.


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Excellence Overview

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A case management on collaboration is fixing the problem right at the first time.  So, whats next?

Believe it or not, a full quarter of employees don’t trust their employer, according to a American Association survey of 1,562 U.S. workers. What’s more, the survey also found that only about half believe their employer is open and upfront with them.

This lack of trust is likely due to a lack of transparency in the workplace. Transparent leadership is the key to fostering a culture of trust between leaders and their employees. Employees who are kept in the loop and understand their role in the overarching purpose and goals of the company are, understandably, more likely to put their trust in their employer.

By now, most of us have heard a thing or two about how to achieve and sustain transparency in the workplace. Here are four reasons why that transparency and culture of trust is necessary:

 

Better relationships

Employees don’t just quit their jobs, they quit their bosses. In fact, CareerBuilder survey revealed that 37 percent of the 3,008 employees surveyed were likely to leave their jobs due to a poor opinion about their boss’s performance.

When it comes to building solid workplace relationships, trust takes center stage. Take Unbounce, for example. It took transparency to another level with its “Inside Unbounce” blog, a staff-authored, un-curated window in the organization. Not only does this demonstrate transparency to potential job seekers, customers, etc., it also keeps employees involved and up to date on company happenings, successes and feedback.

 

Better alignment

Employee alignment, for transparency’s sake, means taking a look at the big picture and seeking to understand everyone’s role within it. This is easily done when employers practice transparency in the workplace. Transparent leadership results in employees who understand the company vision and how their efforts help achieve company-wide goals.

Transparency is at the top of HubSpot’s Culture Code. Its internal wiki includes financials (cash balances, burn-rate, profits and losses, etc.), board meeting decks, management meeting decks, “strategic” topics, HubSpot Lore & Mythology — basically anything and everything employees need to stay informed and aligned with the company vision.

 

Better solutions

When leaders are transparent, problems are solved faster. By being open and honest about company problems, employees can help find solutions. And two heads (or however many heads make up the company) are better than one.

Social sharing app Buffer makes company performance public with progress reports on customer support, blog performance, business performance and more. Not only does doing so increase accountability, it also highlights issues and encourages employees to find solutions.

 

Better engagement

A culture that values transparency in the workplace breeds engaged employees. In fact, Harvard Business Review’s employee engagement survey revealed that 70 percent of those surveyed say they’re most engaged when senior leadership continually updates and communicates company strategy.

When it comes to engaging employees, it’s best to be open about company matters. LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner fosters an organization built on transparency. He even takes the time to hold bi-weekly meetings, during which he updates employees on company matters and listens to their suggestions.

What do you think? What are some results you’ve experienced from workplace transparency? Please share in the comments section below.


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Accelerated processes

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Every step of complex inquiring

Achieve to order smarter to proactive customers, partner and distributor engagement, to be both together in global collaboration across experts anywhere.A point to the increase of profitability with faster CPO and higher margin for better solutions.

When you’re a start-up with few employees and few customers, it’s easy to stay on top of what customers want and what they’re getting.

But as you add more customers and employees, you add links to the customer service chain. That creates the potential for growth and the potential for poor service along the way. That’s why creating a customer service policy and adhering to it is so important.

Here are some steps you can take to ensure that your clients receive excellent service every step of the way.

  1. Put your customer service policy in writing. These principles should come from you, but every employee should know what the rules are and be ready to live up to them. This doesn’t have to be elaborate. Something as simple as “the customer is always right” can lay the necessary groundwork, although you may want to get more detailed by saying, for instance, “any employee is empowered to grant a 10 percent discount to any dissatisfied customer at any time.”
  2. Establish support systems that give employees clear instructions for gaining and maintaining service superiority.These systems will help you outservice any competitor by giving more to customers and anticipating problems before they arise.
  3. Develop a measurement of superb customer service.Don’t forget to reward employees who practice it consistently.
  4. Be certain that your passion for customer service runs rampant throughout your company. Employees should see how good service relates to your profits and to their futures with the company.
  5. Be genuinely committed to providing more customer service excellence than anyone else in your industry.This commitment must be so powerful that every one of your customers can sense it.
  6. Share information with people on the front lines.Meet with your employees regularly to talk about improving service. Solicit ideas from employees-they are the ones who are dealing with customers most often.
  7. Act on the knowledge that what customers value most are attention, dependability, promptness and competence.They love being treated as individuals and being referred to by name.

 

Phrases That’ll Make Your Customers Happy


Principles of customer service are all very well, but you need to put those principles into action with everything you do and say. There are certain “magic words” customers want to hear from you and your staff. Make sure all your employees understand the importance of these key phrases:

  • “How can I help?”Customers want the opportunity to explain in detail what they want and need. Too often, business owners feel the desire or the obligation to guess what customers need rather than carefully listening first. By asking how you can help, you begin the dialogue on a positive note (you are “helping,” not “selling”). And by using an open-ended question, you invite discussion.
  • I can solve that problem.”Most customers, especially business-to-business customers, are looking to buy solutions. They appreciate direct answers in a language they can understand.
  • I don’t know, but I’ll find out.When confronted with a truly difficult question that requires research on your part, admit that you don’t know the answer. Few things ruin your credibility faster than trying to answer a question when you are unsure of all the facts. Savvy buyers may test you with a question they know you can’t answer and then just sit quietly while you struggle to fake an intelligent reply. An honest answer enhances your integrity.
  • I will take responsibility.”Tell your customer you realize it’s your responsibility to ensure a satisfactory outcome to the transaction. Assure the customer you know what he or she expects and will deliver the product or service at the agreed-upon price. There will be no unexpected changes or expenses required to solve the problem.
  • I will keep you updated.”Even if your business is a cash-and-carry operation, it probably requires scheduling and coordinating numerous events. Assure your customers they will be advised of the status of these events. The longer your lead time, the more important this is. The vendors customers trust the most are those that keep them apprised of the situation, whether the news is good or bad.
  • I will deliver on time.”A due date that has been agreed upon is a promise that must be kept. “Close” doesn’t count.
  • Monday means Monday.”The first week in July means the first week in July, even though it contains a national holiday. Your clients are waiting to hear you say “I deliver on time.” The supplier who consistently does so is a rarity and will be remembered.
  • It’ll be just what you ordered.”It will not be “similar to,” and it will not be “better than” what was ordered. It will be exactly what was ordered. Even if you believe a substitute would be in the client’s best interests, that’s a topic for discussion, not something you decide on your own. Your customer may not know (or be at liberty to explain) all the ramifications of the purchase.
  • The job will be complete.”Assure the customer there will be no waiting for a final piece or a last document. Never say you are finished “except for….”
  • “I appreciate your business.”This means more than a simple “Thanks for the order.” Genuine appreciation involves follow-up calls, offering to answer questions, making sure everything is performing satisfactorily, and ascertaining that the original problem has been solved.

Neglecting any of these steps conveys the impression that you were interested in the person only until the sale was made. This leaves the buyer feeling deceived and used, and creates ill will and negative advertising for your company. Sincerely proving you care about your customers leads to recommendations and repeat sales.

 

Never Let Your Customers Forget You


One important tool for generating repeat business is following up. Effective follow-up begins immediately after the sale when you call the customer to say “thank you” and find out if he or she is pleased with your product or service. Beyond this, there are several effective ways to follow up that ensure your business is always in the customer’s mind.

  • Let customers know what you are doing for them.This can be in the form of a newsletter mailed to existing customers, or it can be more informal, such as a phone call. Whatever method you use, the key is to dramatically point out to customers the excellent service you are giving them. If you never mention all the things you are doing for them, customers may not notice. You aren’t being cocky when you talk to customers about all the work you have done to please them. Just make a phone call and let them know they don’t have to worry because you handled the paperwork, called the attorney or double-checked on the shipment-one less thing they have to do.
  • Write old customers personal, handwritten notes frequently.I was just sitting at my desk and your name popped into my head. Are you still having a great time flying all over the country? Let me know if you need another set of luggage. I can stop by with our latest models any time.” Or if you run into an old customer at an event, follow up with a note: “It was great seeing you at the CDC Christmas party. I’ll call you early in the New Year to schedule a lunch.”
  • Keep it personal.Voice mail and e-mail make it easy to communicate, but the personal touch is often lost. If you’re having trouble getting through to someone whose problem requires that personal touch, leave a voice-mail message that you want to talk to the person directly or will stop by his or her office at a designated time.
  • Remember special occasions.Send regular customers birthday cards, anniversary cards, holiday cards…you name it. Gifts are excellent follow-up tools, too. You don’t have to spend a fortune to show you care; use your creativity to come up with interesting gift ideas that tie into your business, the customer’s business or his or her recent purchase.
  • Pass on information.If you read an article, see a new book, or hear about an organization a customer might be interested in, drop a note or make a quick call to let them know.
  • Consider follow-up calls as business development calls.When you talk to or visit old clients or customers, you’ll often find they have referrals to give you, which can lead to new business.

With all your existing customers can do for you, there’s simply no reason not to stay in regular contact with them. Use your imagination, and you’ll think of plenty of other ideas that can help you develop a lasting relationship.

 

Dealing With Unsatisfied Customers


Studies show that the vast majority of unsatisfied customers will never come right out and tell you they’re unsatisfied. They simply leave quietly, later telling everyone they know not to do business with you. So when a customer complains, don’t think of it as a nuisance-think of it as a golden opportunity to change that customer’s mind and retain his or her business.

Even the best product or service receives complaints now and then. Here’s how to handle them for positive results:

  • Let customers vent their feelings. Encourage them to get their frustrations out in the open.
  • Never argue with a customer.
  • Never tell a customer “You do not have a problem.” Those are fighting words.
  • Share your point of view as politely as you can.
  • Take responsibility for the problem. Don’t make excuses. If an employee was sick or a supplier let you down, that’s not the customer’s concern.
  • Immediately take action to remedy the situation. Promising a solution and then delaying it only makes matters worse.
  • Empower your front-line employees to be flexible in resolving complaints. Give employees some leeway in deciding when to bend the rules. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, make sure they have you or another manager handle the situation.

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Competitive forces

 

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The level at which a business can “engage” its employees is what determines its internal success. Yet, employee engagement has consistently averaged less than 33 percent over the past four years, according to Gallup survey of more than 80,000 adults in the United States.”

Still, the root of the problem isn’t simply a lack of effort. Rather, many leaders are not even making employee engagement a priority – they’re not, well, engaging with engagement.

Here are four ways leaders can improve on that goal:

 

1. Make employee engagement an ongoing effort

Many people in charge get into the habit of analyzing employee engagement as a “one-and-done” process. In fact, 98 percent of CEOs only look at annual employee engagement surveys once a year and don’t discuss the matter with their employees.

An ongoing effort has to begin on day one. Instead of in-person onboarding programs that put new hires to sleep, incorporate technology like CovertHR to build engagement into even the earliest stages of the employee life cycle. CovertHR online activities allow employees to have fun and socialize while they’re completing tasks.

When new team members are introduced to an engaged environment and process, they feel more comfortable amplifying an engaged culture.

 

2. Don’t dump problems on HR.

The lack of employee engagement is as much an employer’s problem as it is HR’s. So, why are a majority leaders relying on HR to fix the problem? The Motivosity survey indicated that 70 percent of CEOs surveyed were delegating culture and engagement problems to HR.

Not surprisingly, it takes an engaged team to be actively involved in fixing employee-engagement issues. Instead of just assigning tasks to HR to fix, involve managers and employees who possess natural engaging characteristics. Present the problem and brainstorm together to come up with solutions that benefit everyone. Instead of delaying the process, or having HR come seeking approval for changes, be involved in the solution yourself.

 

3. Make employee engagement engaging

It’s no secret – leaders acknowledge just how important employee feedback is. In fact, a survey by Waggl Human Capital Pulse found that 97 percent of the business leaders, HR leaders and consultants among the 500,000 interviewed said they believed that listening to employees and incorporating their ideas was critical to an organization’s success.

Additionally, only a minority (38 percent) agreed that hearing from employees once a year through an annual survey is sufficient to give organizations the timely insights they need.

So, the message is that leaders do recognize listening to employees as being important, yet the way they typically do that is inefficient.

Instead of sending out a survey (that no one responds to), start with an open discussion with employees. Let people freely speak their minds, and take notes on the feedback they offer. Hearing what people genuinely have to say will help you kick employee engagement off to a positive start.

At the same time, be mindful of those who are less comfortable in a large group setting. After the forum concludes, send out an anonymous survey giving these employees the chance to elaborate on topics they weren’t comfortable saying in front of a group.

To take employee engagement yet a step further, management and coworkers should engage on a personal level. As the company leader, put yourself in situations that will allow you to engage in activities that work for the company’s culture. Consider small-group lunches that have a “no work talk: rule.

Or do what Namely CEO regularly Matt Straz does: move your desk to be in the middle of the action with the team.

 

4. Encourage risk-taking.

A company is only as good as the employees behind it. That is why employers should promote innovation on a regular basis. Do this at your company by presenting problems to your teams; give them the opportunity to take risks (and don’t reprimand them for failures).

A fun and productive way to do this is to present the same problem to different teams and prompt them to solve it. Each team can then present its solution to the entire group, with the group offering feedback and constructive criticism, and receiving in return exposure to new perspectives and improved-upon ideas.

This key theme of todays message is that you really need to get behind the value chain collaboration and execution and to do that you have to focus on the front engagement for faster results. This engagement will rub off on employees and ultimately create a more productive work environment that allows constant collaboration – making employees feel engaged all-year-round.

What are other ways leaders can improve employee engagement?

 

Voice Power

 

It’s the morning of the big call.

You prepared your material and went to bed early- even if you didn’t get much sleep. Now you hover near the phone, waiting for it to ring, thinking about everything that might prevent you from establishing a great rapport. Maybe he’ll sound like Elmer Fudd. Or, worse, maybe you will.

Either way, an important connection is about to be made, sight unseen. And your voice will play a big role. How can you prevent your voice from sabotaging everything from business calls to presentations? Use these tips for working your voice, instead of letting it work you.

 

1. Rise and try to shine

After getting out of bed, head to the bathroom for some warm-ups. Look at yourself in the mirror and take deep breaths. Are your shoulders rising as you inhale? Don’t let them. Stand straight, relax and let your breath come in down low. It should feel like it’s entering your body around your waist, not being pulled down your throat.

 

2. Keep it up

Not only does slouching look like you couldn’t care less, but it also prevents your lungs from filling up. Full lungs keep your voice from cracking, make you sound more powerful and keep you from running out of air. When you realize you’re hunched over while on the phone, sit back and straighten your spine to allow more energy to come across.

 

3. Support can be beautiful

Some people are blessed with resonant voices like James Earl Jones or Lauren Bacall. Most of us aren’t. But rather than throwing in the towel, try wrapping it around your waist. Breathe in low and gently expand your abs and obliques. Relax, let go and pretend the towel is like the waistline of your sweatpants. You can feel it grow a little wider.

Then open up and say “Ah.” Now repeat. This time, use your abs to expand your waist. You’ll also feel the downward push of your lower abs. Say “Ah” once more, and as you expand, you’ll hear the sound get stronger. Use this technique for more volume and a stronger sound.

 

4.Open up

When you get nervous, your voice gets squeaky and high. Not the confident image you want to project. And the more you try and control it by force, the more you start to lose it altogether. The cure: breathing low, gently using your lower abs to push down and relax. And always let your throat be open and free of tension. An open throat protects your voice and produces a richer sound.

 

5. Variety is key

Want to control your whole audience? Speak in a monotone voice, and you can send a group of 2,000 people off to dreamland. Especially when working by phone, that dead air may not be your client pondering. Try listening for snoring. To prevent this, remember the “four P’s” of vocal variety:

  • Pace: Speak too fast and it sounds like you’re nervous or a used car salesman trying to pull a fast one. If the pace is too slow, you’re going to sound like the village idiot.
  • Pitch: Pit your voice too low and nobody will hear you. Speak too high and you sound nervous.
  • Pauses: Build them into your speech–sparingly. If pauses are too short, it’ll sound like you’re scrambling for words. But a few well-timed pauses create a sense of intrigue and curiosity.
  • Passion: This all-important quality will be the biggest selling point you have. Love your topic.

 

6. Get rid of nasality

There’s a problem if your voice sounds disturbingly like Fran Drescher’s. If you’re a whiner, try this: yawn. Feel your mouth open wide. You won’t feel that kind of space if you’re nasal. The soft palate -a flap of skin on the back of the roof of your mouth-lifts and allows air to float up into every chamber of your head, resulting in a full, resonant sound. It’s like a little trap door that can open and close. Conversely, when the soft palate lowers, the air stream is blocked off from the head, and the air can only pass out of the nose.

For a quick fix, say “Ing- Ah.” Elide the “Ing” right into the “Ah,” and don’t break them into two sounds. Feel what’s happening inside your mouth. On “Ing,” the back of your tongue is pressed up against the soft palate and no air can get into your head. It’s nasal. When you say “Ah,” the tongue peels down from the roof and allows the sound to lift.

 

7. Modify your accent

How boring the world would be if we all sounded the same. But if your native tongue gets in the way of communication, you should correct it. The process used to be called accent “elimination,” but “modification” is a more accurate term. Spend a few sessions with a voice coach who can give you the basic sounds of English, help you pronounce its most confusing words and model them for you, face-to-face.

 

8. Tune your tone

Being able to adjust your tone to any situation is paramount to successful business communication. If you do sound monotonous, ineffectual or annoying, you may lose a client. If your tone is lackluster, they think you’re bored. If you sound angry or bullying, that aggressive style can put them off. But if you’re able to suit your tone to any occasion, you’ll win the day. Learn how to sound passionate even if you’d rather be anywhere else.

 

9. Leave it at the beep

Leaving a great voice-mail message is essential. If you sound positive, polished and professional, people will get a wonderful “first vocal impression.” Leave your name clearly. Spell it if you have to. Leave your phone number, twice. Tell them briefly what you can do for them. Let them know when you can be reached, or ask them the best time for you to call back. Be brief, but not vague.

 

10. It is, actually, about you

The most important tip is to be authentic. Take time to find what’s unique about you- your sense of humor, your newfound confidence, your persona.

Stop trying to sound like a phony announcer.

Mastering these tips for voice power will soon become second nature. And if your potential client does sound like Elmer Fudd, well, know that your newfound vocal skills will make an excellent first impression. Weally.

Douglas Anderson is president of Your Voice Coach, a consultancy whose clients range from startups to Fortune 500 companies. His detailed programs and list of services can be found on his website,www.yourvoicecoach.com.

 

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