Analyze This: Is your company taking advantage of big data?

“Each of us is now a walking data generator.” –Andrew McAfee, Harvard Business Review

 

The term “big data” isn’t exactly a friendly one. It conjures up images of numbers ticking across a screen or servers churning away as they process terabytes of information. But the application of big data is incredibly personal. Data—and how it’s used—can help improve customer relations, streamline operations, or develop new products to meet market demands. Big data can give companies valuable information about internal operations (processes, employee engagement, communication efficiency). Or, it can boost external operations by streamlining advertising, enhancing customer experiences, or identifying inefficiencies. In short, big data can be converted to business intelligence.

No matter the size of your company or your operating budget, it is possible to put data at the center of your decision-making. A data-driven workplace reduces costs and operates more efficiently by putting an end to decision-making based on hunches and anecdotal evidence.

The solution, however, is NOT to throw money at big data systems and hope your company sees improvements. In order to take full advantage of data, your business will have to restructure itself to accommodate a new data-driven philosophy. Start by focusing on these three key areas:

1. Leadership

If a company is going to successfully put data at the core of its operations, the leadership has to be on board. In some cases, managerial teams will have to be trained to think about decision-making in a different way. In a data-driven company, the loudest voice or the highest paid person in the room isn’t the default decision maker. Instead, the process is more neutral and reliable, as it depends on collected data and analysis. As Andrew McAfee of the Harvard Business Review says in a recent article, “Smart leaders across industries will see using big data for what it is: a management revolution.”

What does a data-driven leader look like? This is a person who supports thoughtful, in-depth analysis and encourages decision-making based on findings. This is a person who is humble enough to realize that she may not have all the answers, or that her initial hunches may be proven incorrect by data analysis. Such a leader does not feel threatened by data-backed decisions, but embraces them as useful strategies that will potentially help the company.

2. A Robust IT Team

A company can purchase an expensive, top-of-the-line data analysis program, but if they do not also invest in a quality data analysis team, the investment will be almost worthless. Take the time to assemble an IT team that is well-versed in collecting, managing and analyzing data. These team members are essential to the decision-making process and have the potential to provide the keys to positive change.

Make sure these team members are supported in their roles. Check in with them frequently to see if they have the resources—tools, time, and support—to provide useful, in-depth analysis.

Above all, it is important to respect the findings of your data analysis team. Encourage honest, complete reports, not reports that are catered to highlight what the leadership wants to hear.

3. Incorporate data into the culture

A data-focused company integrates its philosophies into the workplace culture. Such a company encourages thoughtful decision-making at all levels, driven by evidence. Team meetings revolve around sharing data and developing ideas that stem from that data. Instead of relying on opinions and hearsay, team members who know the value of data will begin to ask “What do we know?” and “How can we apply that knowledge to our organization?”

To encourage this data-centric culture, it is useful to give employees the language and background they need to talk intelligently about data. Programs such as the Baldrige Excellence Framework can help company leadership understand the potential for data to improve customer relations and satisfaction, streamline systems, and encourage purposeful innovation.

 

Dive into data! The companies that focus on incorporating data-driven decision-making into their leadership, their IT department, and their company culture will begin making mindful decisions that can lead to huge successes. The potential for big data is huge. How will you begin to integrate data collection and analysis into your organization?


 

Want to talk data? I have experience in research, data collection, data management, and data analysis. I am also involved in conducting organizational evaluations against the Baldrige Excellence Framework. Contact me and let’s talk about how data can make a different in your organization.

The Day-to-Day: 5 Ways to Remind Your Employees of Their Worth Every Day

employee-worth

As the culture of the workforce evolves, employees search for and stay at companies that both compensate them adequately and recognize their worth as a member of the team.

To let your employees know that you value their work, it may sound easy to dole out bonuses; however, your budget may not allow for that and waiting for a potential payout in the distant future does not speak to the work your employees perform every day. There are easier and more cost-effective ways to acknowledge your staff’s worth:

Make it personal.

Just as each employee brings different skills and experiences to your business, individuals will have varying preferences in regards to acknowledgement. Some employees may appreciate a brief check-in from the boss during the day, while others may prefer to be a part of an email group that receives a daily motivational quote or industry-relevant book or article recommendations. Take time to learn what your employees need from you; this consideration lets them know that you are interested and invested in your communication with them. Giving time and attention is one of the best and easiest gifts you can give to help others feel important.

Pass on the praise.

When you hear praise about an employee from a leader or peer, let them know right away with an email, a note, or a visit to their desk. Include your own praise as well; your employee will know that you not only hear the compliment, but that you also agree. The instant recognition can feel very rewarding to your employees, and knowing that their work is appreciated by you and others can maintain high morale around the office.

Leave the door open.

Though you may not be able to do this every day, set aside time at least a few days each week for employees to communicate with you in person. Block off this time on your calendar and let them know this is their opportunity to ask questions, voice concerns, communicate ideas, or praise their co-worker. When staff bring you ideas, make sure your open-door policy is truly open. Your employees will know that you value their voice and welcome their opinions.

 Set goals and incentives.

Meet with your employees, in groups if necessary, to create goals for the upcoming quarter or year. Agree on an incentive, whether it be a catered meal from a favorite restaurant or a group outing for a fun activity. Check status periodically (shows you are paying attention). Congratulate them on their progress, or give words of encouragement if they fall behind. Employees will know you value their work when you cheer them on, rather than just demand results.

 See the human side.

The people on your team are multidimensional individuals who have complex lives that extend beyond the office walls. Get to know them by engaging them in conversation and taking the time to truly listen to what they have to say. Ask about their weekend or their family; get them talking about their interests. To foster a little more engagement in the office, set up a corkboard for employees to post fliers about their book clubs, quilting circles, or bowling leagues. Hopefully, when people see that they are valued as multifaceted human beings, they will feel more comfortable being their authentic selves and will open up to you when a problem arises or when they have an out-of-the-box idea.

 

In all of these examples, good communication is key.  When you make time and space for employees to communicate with you, and truly listen and engage, they know that you respect their ideas and acknowledge their worth.

Three Steps for Mediating a Clashing Team

mediating teams in conflict

As a conflict mediator, I’ve helped others work through a wide variety of interpersonal struggles, both personal and professional. But what if your entire team is having issues? How do you deal with building understanding between many people, as opposed to just two? Help your team resolve (or embrace!) their differences with these 3 steps:

1. Get to the root of the problem

Teams clash for a variety of reasons. Conflict can be caused by personality differences, ethical disagreements, unclear expectations, or even simple miscommunications. According to research discussed in Psych Press,[1] conflicts arise in teams in three different key areas:

  • Relationship conflict (personality differences or differences in values)
  • Task conflict (content and outcomes of the task being performed)
  • Process conflict (logistics of completing the task)

To unearth the cause of conflict, it’s important to talk to each team member to get a full picture of what is going on, according to each person’s unique perspective. Allow yourself sufficient time to meet with individuals one-on-one and ask open-ended questions. This process alone may reveal simple misunderstandings or more problematic fundamental issues. However, if the root of the problem is unclear, you may want to bring in a professional conflict mediator or turn to a team-building assessment test, such as Insights® Discovery (which I’ve discussed in past blog posts).

2. Start a dialogue

Once you’ve identified the key factors that are contributing to your team’s issues, open a safe space for dialogue. An assessment tool, like Insights®, can help get a conversation going, especially if you’re dealing with personality clashes.

It can be useful to have a sit-down meeting involving the entire team, in which the framework of the team is discussed, rather than the project at hand. Use this meeting (and any subsequent meetings) to talk about dividing up group responsibilities, sharing the workload, and working out an approach that is collaborative and respectful of all opinions.

If you uncovered work misalignments during your meetings (for instance, a creative-minded person has been saddled with data-crunching), address those misalignments and brainstorm how to fix them.

If you discovered a miscommunication between two parties, bring that up and talk about where you think the communication went wrong.

Don’t forget to listen. Aim for collaboration when solving your team’s conflict and make sure everyone’s voice is heard.

And if disagreements still exist? Do your best to negotiate with both sides and find some middle ground. Let your team know that healthy conflict is just fine and conflict is just a sign that something needs to change. If everyone agreed all the time or, if everyone had the same personality, there would be little room for innovation or creative problem-solving.

3. Teamwork maintenance

After you’ve opened up a dialogue and worked through differences, be sure to maintain that open line of communication. Check in with teammates from time to time and ask how the project is going. As a CBS News article[2] aptly put it: “It is important to maintain the momentum by agreeing to continue to talk about the issue as much as appropriate, and use the language of your discussion and other agreed [upon] signals to keep things on track.” Be sure to welcome conversation and let your team know that they can approach you with any issues, no matter how small.

Another way to maintain team harmony is to focus on the project goals and create opportunities for your team to get together to strategize how to work toward those goals. When everyone has a common purpose, minor differences tend to diminish in importance.

Don’t forget to honor team differences in approach and capabilities. When your team is feeling pulled between two (or more) different directions, point out how each way is valid before striving to reach a compromise.

 

Is your team clashing? Contact me today to develop a strategy for pulling yourselves out of conflict.

[1] Psych Press (2014). 5 steps to handling clashing team members. http://www.psychpress.com.au/newsletter/files/NWS-JUN2014/Jun2014_5-Steps-to-Handling-Clashing-Team-Members.pdf.* Accessed 9/12/16. *Updated Link: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:lWKoIynBeDAJ:www.psychpress.com.au/newsletter/files/NWS-JUN2014/Jun2014_5-Steps-to-Handling-Clashing-Team-Members.pdf+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

[2] CBS Money Watch (2007). Working around personality clashes. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/working-around-personality-clashes/. Accessed 9/12/16.

How to Communicate Bad News

how to deliver bad news

Whether in your personal or professional life, you’ve likely had to deliver bad news to another person. How did the task make you feel? Did you try to avoid the conversation at all costs? Did the thought of the person’s reaction (or even retaliation) fill you with dread?

Communicating negative news to someone else is never fun, but it doesn’t have to be anxiety-inducing! It is possible to approach a delicate topic with sensitivity, poise, and an action plan.

As a business consult, I often go into companies and help them organize and improve their operations. Although that sounds impersonal, sometimes it involves pinpointing inefficiencies in certain departments or even certain people. And that’s very personal! A negative report can lead to the restructuring of a department or shuffling of personnel. In the process, some people might be let go or put on ultimatum.

As someone who has had many first-hand experiences with tough conversations, here are my five crucial steps to effectively communicating bad news:

1. Employ an appropriate delivery method

You’ll want to properly set the stage for communicating your bad news. Oftentimes, that means meeting face-to-face in a quiet location, preferably in a private office or conference room. It’s rarely appropriate to send bad news via email or even over the phone—the only exception is if you’re working with a long-distance client or staff member who cannot easily come into the office. Even in those circumstances you can still create a positive atmosphere by purposely setting aside time for the phone call and placing the call in a quiet space which won’t be disturbed.

2. Review the approach

Don’t go into your meeting without thinking over your approach. Consider how best to frame the news. I have found that candidly laying out a roadmap for the meeting can be effective for setting the tone. It’s also a good idea to encourage the other person to enter into a dialogue, so that they don’t close themselves off or disengage from what you’re trying to tell them. For instance:

“Thank you for meeting me today, Jane. I would like to go over some of the struggles your team is having with XYZ project and some of the ways we might be able to solve these issues. But first, I’d like to hear your take on this. Have you noticed any areas of difficulty with your team lately?”

Of course, not every conversation will warrant feedback from the other person. In those cases, your approach will be adjusted to be more of a delivery than a dialogue.

3. Cite external sources, when possible

If you have statistics or studies to back up your bad news, use them! Evidence will help the other person understand the reasoning behind the negative news. Citing external sources also helps to take the focus off of you and redirect it to the bigger picture. It makes a decision seem less personal and more evidence-driven (which it should be!).

4. Craft your message with sensitivity

Before you have your meeting, take a few minutes to step inside the other person’s shoes and think about how they might receive the news. What can you say to soften the blow? What positive messages can you work into an unfortunate situation? Consider how you can show the recipient that you truly care about them and their success, no matter how difficult the situation may be. Make sure that whatever you say is heartfelt and sincere.

Be sure to explain the reasons behind an action. If you do not, you’ll be doing the other person a disservice and they will likely leave the meeting confused and angry.

5. Prepare recommended courses of action

If you have to fire someone or downsize their department or cut the yearly budget, be sure to have an action plan that can help that individual (or team) move forward in a positive, productive way. Recommend specific resources and next-steps that will help ease the blow.

This step is the true focus of the meeting. Deliver the news as sensitively as possibly, then discuss how to move forward. If you don’t, the recipient of the news will likely be left reeling and wondering where to go next. Show that you genuinely care about their wellbeing by providing thoughtful, detailed courses of action.

 

Delivering bad news is an unfortunate part of leadership, but it doesn’t have to debilitate or overwhelm you. Tough decisions have to be made for the good of the company and occasionally that means certain individuals or departments will take a blow. Put your empathetic skills to work and ease the sting of a difficult conversation.

Need further guidance? Contact me today.

5 Tips for Effective Communication Across Generations

Two generations working together

If we’re to believe the common generational stereotypes in the workplace, we’d assume Baby Boomers are team-oriented workaholics, Gen-Xers are stubbornly independent, and Millennials focus more on their smart phones than their jobs.

But a number of studies have shown that a majority of these stereotypes are unfounded.[1] While there are certainly significant differences among generations, there’s a lot more that we have in common, particularly when it comes to communication.

Communicating across generations is therefore much more effective when we direct our focus not on how we’re different from our coworkers, but on how we’re the same. Below are five methods your organization can use to facilitate effective communication in the workplace, regardless of age difference.

1. Meet Face-to-Face

Though we may assume Millennials prefer communicating through social media and text message, 80% of Millennials in a recent survey expressed a preference for face-to-face communication in the workplace.[2] In fact, this was the overwhelmingly preferred mode of communication by Baby Boomers, Gen-Xers, and Millennials.

2. Instill a Sense of Purpose

Nobody wants to feel like an interchangeable cog in a machine; everyone wants to know that they’re serving a meaningful role within their organization. When employees recognize each other’s shared commitment toward a common goal, generational barriers to communication come crashing down. Clearly defining a team’s purpose and each employee’s role in achieving that purpose is critical to fostering productive workplace relationships.

 3. Avoid Business Jargon

 Using organization-specific terminology may seem efficient, but it can easily become a major detriment to effective communication. This is particularly an issue for Millennials, who will likely make up a significant portion of your organization’s newer employees. If you explain your company’s processes using business jargon that they’ve never heard before, they naturally won’t understand what you’re talking about. To ensure that your entire workforce is on the same page, use language that everyone can understand, and take an extra second to clarify potentially confusing terms or concepts.

 4. Encourage Assertive Communication

Everyone has different communication styles. Generally speaking, Baby Boomers prefer group-oriented communication, Gen-Xers tend to be more self-reliant, and Millennials thrive on frequent interaction with supervisors.[3] The best way to ensure these styles don’t clash is to encourage assertive communication. Your organization should facilitate an environment where people feel comfortable openly sharing their ideas and concerns with each other. Otherwise, resentment can easily build between coworkers who feel their needs and wants aren’t respected.

5. Give Positive Feedback

Older generations often have a more negative perspective on constructive criticism. While Baby Boomers may feel disrespected by feedback, Gen-Xers and Millennials expect consistent performance appraisals. But when it comes to positive feedback, generational attitudes are largely the same. Giving your fellow coworkers recognition for a job well-done is a great way to communicate their value to your organization, and a critical step towards forging stronger workplace relationships.

 

 As our workplaces diversify, it is crucial to connect all generations of workers through effective communication. Mindful, well-structured messaging and interactions can bridge gaps and ensure that people of all ages feel welcomed and nurtured in the workplace. Despite differences, a good deal of common ground exists between generations and smart communication can help people at all stages of life work together harmoniously and effectively.


 

[1] Tolbize, Anick. “Generational differences in the workplace.” Research and training center of community living. University of Minnesota, 2008: 10-13.

 

[2] Schawbel, David. “Even Millennials Want Face Time at Work.” Time. Time, 2 Sept. 2014. Web.

 

[3] Schawbel, David. “Even Millennials Want Face Time at Work.” Time. Time, 2 Sept. 2014. Web.

 

Bright, Brief, & Blunt: Working with a “Red Energy” Leader

Two serious women in a business meeting

A typical workplace always has a few people that lead with red energy.

These are the natural leaders, the people who are unafraid to speak their minds, the highly focused individuals who prefer to get straight to the point. Someone who embraces red energy is oftentimes bold, determined, and goal-oriented. Sound like someone in your workplace? Or do these characteristics, perhaps, describe you?

Red energy is a term coined by a self-evaluation program called Insights® Discovery. Insights® is a science-based assessment tool that helps individuals gain self-awareness and facilitates improved team dynamics and communication. I discuss Insights® Discovery in more detail in a past blog post.

According to the Insights® color model, every person is comprised of four different color energies, but we tend to exhibit one or two colors more than the others. In the case of someone who leads with red, that means a no-nonsense approach to both work and life. Oftentimes, “reds” have trouble understanding the point of small talk or don’t think about others’ feelings when making a decision or a making a statement.

Given these tendencies, what is the best way to effectively work with a red energy leader?

First of all, it’s useful to understand the way red energy people think. To them, small talk wastes time and feelings should not interfere with decision-making. They like honest, straight-forward communication, quick decisions, and action. Although these traits can help make someone an excellent leader, they can also make that person come across as cold, brusque, or hasty.

As a “non-red,” be aware that those who lead with red energy are not typically trying to be bullies. They are driven and vocal, which can be intimidating, but they typically care about what’s best for the company and which path will lead to success (in the quickest, most direct way possible!).  When you know you’re about to meet with a leader who favors red energy, come prepared with bullet points and concise explanations. If, for instance, you’re outlining a new project strategy, keep your explanation brief and bright. Don’t add too many analytical details that will bog down your presentation and make sure you relay your information with confidence.

In a team meeting, attempt to be a bridge-maker. If your red energy leader is rubbing people the wrong way with her bluntness, attempt to mediate the situation. You might say something like, “What I think Mary Leader means to say is X, Y, and Z. Is that correct, Mary?” A simple empathetic statement can help turn a tense meeting into an open dialogue.

On the flip side, if you are a red energy leader, be mindful of your tendencies. Think about how you might channel your natural inclinations in a positive manner when it comes to leadership and decision-making. For instance, it’s great to be assertive, but not aggressive; bold, but mindful of others’ opinions; action-oriented, but not hasty.

Keep in mind that others may not operate or think the same way as you do. What you view as efficient, others might view as cold or uncaring. Instead of focusing solely on results and productivity, shift your lens to the people around you. Ask them questions, attempt to understand their perspective, and begin to get to know them. Spare a few minutes at the start of every meeting for some small talk and get-to-know-you time. Such acts of compassion are anything but time-wasters. These are the tiny gestures that lead to higher overall employee satisfaction and retention. It’s much better to hang on to the employees you have then to constantly recruit, hire, and train new ones.

Those who favor red energy can be excellent leaders. With a little conscious effort to slow down, practice empathy, and engage in an open discussion, red energy leaders can be both well-loved and effective.

 

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5 Ways to Inspire Your Team

The word “inspire” brings a cascade of things to mind – sunsets, paintings, trees, books, maybe even a mentor or someone famous. But how often does your workplace manager come to mind? According to a recent Gallup report titled State of the American Manager: Analytics and Advice for Leaders, managers account for at least 70% of variance in employee engagement scores. To make matters worse, a Gallup study of 7,272 U.S. adults revealed that one in two had left their job to get away from their manager. Not very inspiring statistics, right?

How can these numbers be improved? Here are some suggestions for leaders to help inspire their team.

See your employees as human beings:

Have you ever asked yourself why you just don’t seem to be connecting with your team? Think about how you can get to know each individual on a level beyond the daily grind. Ask them to share personal stories about their life. Monitor their working habits and assign projects that will cater to their working style and personal strengths. Your employees will perform better and feel valued if they believe you are truly listening to their needs.

Show your human side too:

Share your story with your team, and make sure to talk to your failures as well as your successes. Your team will respect you for your honesty, and they will be able to easily relate to you instead of seeing you as just another distant manager.

Create brainstorming opportunities:

Allow time for your team members to connect and come up with their own ideas. Ensure you are openly accepting of ideas, not immediately judging them (assessment can come later). Book a location outside the usual work environment and watch the sparks fly.

Emphasize purpose:

People like to know their efforts mean something. A purpose-driven employee will be far more engaged and productive. Help your team feel like they are part of the bigger picture by sharing company goals and showing them how their work contributes to those goals. Be sure to check-in regularly with your team as company goals and benchmarks change.

Conduct career advancement meetings, not just feedback meetings:

It is great to meet with your team members on a one-on-one basis to keep abreast of project progress and employee performance, but don’t forget to have career-centered conversations too. Employees know their manager is the one person who will either help or hinder their advancement. Don’t be a roadblock to their success; really take the time to understand their career goals and help them get there.

Hopefully these tips have “inspired” you to take action the next time you walk into work and wish to see improvement in your team!

Contact me if you would like further help with creating an inspiring workplace.

Insights® Color Focus: Communicating with “a Blue”

Insights discovery blue energy

One of the things I like best about the Insights® Discovery program is the accessibility of the language. Even if you’re not familiar with this science-based assessment tool, it isn’t difficult to familiarize yourself with the basic concept. Essentially: All people have the capacity to behave and think in various ways, but we tend to emphasize or favor some methods over others. For example, outgoing, boisterous people have the capacity to tone down their energy and act discreetly, but they prefer an animated communication style, as opposed to a reserved one.

These tendencies are expressed in four different colors: blue, red, yellow, and green:

4 colors, good day

BLUE is associated with introversion and introspection. People who favor blue tendencies are often analytical, data-driven, and like to think carefully before they speak.

RED is associated with being brief and vocal. People who tend toward red often like to make quick decisions and aren’t afraid to exert their influence or step up as leaders.

YELLOW is associated with high energy and extroversion. Those who lean toward yellow are often highly social, enjoy brain storming sessions, and are generally not afraid to share their ideas.

GREEN is associated with a high level of empathy and awareness of others. Green-leaning people are generally steady and reliable and like to practice inclusivity.

KEEP IN MIND:

I am only barely scratching the surface of the Insights® Discovery model. There are many intricate parts to the model that can help build self-awareness, improve team dynamics, enhance communication, and develop leadership (contact me if you have questions about the potential benefits of Insights® for yourself or your team). However, this overview will give you a stepping stone for the focus of this blog post: communicating with someone who leads with blue energy.

As I touched on above, a blue-leading person is often quiet, analytical, and likes to understand the whole picture before making a decision. This type of personality can be difficult to interpret or communicate with, especially for red- and yellow-leaning individuals who tend toward extraversion and snappy decisions.

If you notice that someone is consistently quiet at company meetings, don’t write him off or assume he’s not interested. Instead, ask him for his input about what was just said. You might find out that he has reservations about a particular project or action because not enough research has been conducted or there are possible alternative routes that could be explored.

Let’s look at another situation. Imagine you are about to have a one-on-one meeting with someone who seems to be blue-leaning. It is best to come prepared with a meeting agenda that includes concrete statistics and thorough research. Keep in mind that a blue-leaning person may have tons of questions, but may be too reserved to ask them. Create a comfortable environment where asking questions is encouraged.

One last scenario: Let’s say you’re working on a team with a blue personality-type. She may not always offer up her ideas, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t a valuable asset! Since blue-leaning people are so good with practical details, your teammate would be great at the planning/logistical side of the project. Make sure she’s able to find her sweet spot within the team.

And what if YOU tend toward “blue?”

Don’t be afraid to ask crucial questions and offer your input. And don’t assume that the rest of the team can see potential flaws like you can. Your analytical abilities and organizational skills are valuable and it’s a great help to your company when you share your insight or ask the questions that need to be asked when considering a new project or task.

This is just a small glimpse into the powerful way Insights® Discovery helps teams connect and communicate. I plan to regularly publish posts focusing on specific Insights® color energies, with the goal of leading you to a greater understanding of yourself and others.

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Clarity in Communication

Communication

Conveying the correct message is crucial in the business world.  When communicating with clients, a flawed message can mean a lost sale or a lost business relationship.  When communicating internally, an improper message can lead to angry or confused employees, strained relationships, or a misalignment of goals.

Google recently dealt with the backlash of a misinterpreted April fool’s joke that put some companies’ business relationships in jeopardy. They added a feature in G-Mail that attached a .GIF of a minion dropping a microphone to outgoing emails and prevented the email recipient from replying. Business professionals that accidentally clicked on this feature may have unintentionally sent the .GIF to potential or existing clients.  Unfortunately, not everyone got the joke and a handful of companies lost clients, received complaints, or damaged their reputations. Several job seekers claimed that they lost potential interview opportunities because they accidentally sent the minion .GIF to a company’s HR department. Google later apologized for the April fool’s joke, saying, “Well, it looks like we pranked ourselves this year. Due to a bug, the Mic Drop feature inadvertently caused more headaches than laughs. We’re truly sorry.”

Clarity

Clarity is one of the keys to company success.  Communication clarity keeps employees or clients on the same page and moving in the right direction.  It means that the message you sent has been interpreted in the way you intended it to be.  Many problems in business stem from a lack of clarity.  Poor communication can cause missed deadlines, misguided actions, or misinterpreted intentions.  Something as simple as having a fellow employee proofread an important email can eliminate a costly mistake.  Eliminating vague words such as “soon,” “a lot,” and “many” can help strengthen the message and make the message clearer.

In cross-cultural communication message clarity is very important.  Slang terms and non-verbal gestures are not understood the same way by different cultural groups.  Conducting proper research of cultural customs and communication decorum can help appropriately convey the message.

Communication Delivery Method

Different types of messages call for specific forms of communication.  A communication method that is appropriate for one scenario may not be appropriate for all scenarios.  For example: an employee who is going to be laid off would not want to find out through email.  They deserve a face-to-face delivery of the message.  In such a sensitive and emotion-laden scenario, an email is a much too cold communication method. Additionally, the employee who is being laid off deserves the opportunity to ask questions about the company’s decision and get a direct, in-person response.

On the flip side, sending an email is appropriate if you are announcing a company meeting, contacting an existing client about a routine matter, or sending information to a co-worker.  These types of messages are informative and routine, and a personal touch is not necessary.

Falling somewhere in the middle of a face-to-face meeting and an email message is communication over the phone. Phone conversations are more personal than emails and allow the other party to ask clarifying questions immediately. It’s a good idea to speak with new or potential clients over the phone so that they can’t misinterpret the tone of what you’re saying. A lot can be lost in a written message; for example, it’s difficult to convey sarcasm (which could create problems!).

One of the newer forms of office communication that is increasing in popularity is team messaging. Apps, such as Slack, allow workplace teams to communicate through a secure channel. You can communicate with the entire team, create private messaging groups, or send direct messages. Slack is a useful way to cut down on simple emails that require a short reply. It is, however, meant to be a way to casually communicate between co-workers. If you have an important message to send, or if you need to communicate with someone outside of your workplace walls, it’s better to use email or pick up the phone.

Tailoring your delivery method to best fit each scenario will result in more effective communication in the workplace. Practicing clear, appropriate communication will help build a positive reputation for yourself and your company.

 

Looking to enhance your communication efficiency within your organization? Peer Performance Solutions has the solution for your business. Visit us here.

TRUST ME: Foster trust and loyalty from your team

Foster loyalty and trust from team

“Trust me.” How often do we hear those words uttered in the movies? You know, the type where the action hero reaches for the distressed heroine’s hand, urging her to come away with him to safety? In real life, trust must be earned over time. As a leader in the workplace, you cannot just reach out your hand to your employees and expect them to automatically trust you based on your title alone.

Here are some tips to help you foster trust and loyalty from your team:

  • Be committed and consistent: If you want your employees to trust you, commit to them and to your work. Focus, engagement and gratitude are all qualities your team will look for in you, and will want to emulate.
  • Ask questions…and listen to the answers: True connection to your team means hearing them out. Be empathetic and show gratitude toward your employees to grow your relationship in a positive direction.
  • Set clear expectations: Be upfront about priorities and company goals. Ambiguity will only foster distrust.
  • Let your adeptness shine: Competent leaders build trust by showing they have an interest in learning and perfecting their craft. They contribute and follow through with real results. Staying up-to-date on trends truly proves commitment to those you oversee.
  • Leave some breathing room: A good leader fosters trust by giving Instead of looking over your team’s shoulders, step back and give them room to complete projects on their own, using their unique perspectives and approaches.
  • Hone your “executive presence”: Gravitas (how you act), communication (how you speak) and appearance (how you look) make up your “executive presence,” according to Sylvia Ann Hewlett, author of Executive Presence: The Missing Link Between Merit and Success. Hewlett’s research found gravitas to be the most important; the self-confidence to stay calm under pressure is crucial. But there’s more to it. “A big part of gravitas is a knack for conveying tremendous amounts of knowledge and giving people the impression you could go ‘six questions deep’ on the subject you’re talking about, but in a way that’s concise,” Hewlett explains. “Attention spans are so short now that, whether it’s in a speech or in a meeting, you have to show how you can add value in a way that’s both compelling and brief.”

Consciously build this advice into your leadership methodology and you will form a loyal team, built on mutual respect, that everyone will want to join. Only then can you reach out that superhero hand and ask for trust.

Gaining trust from your team is a process. Want to kick it into high gear? Contact me to find out how I can help build cohesive teams within your company.