Making The Customer King

Remember: The Customer is king and must be treated as such.  To treat the Customer as king, we must know who they are, and what they want, which will then help us provide the right solutions for them. How then do we acquire this information about the Customer? We must search around 4 platforms:

Facts: Clear demographic information about your customer will help you visualize who they are and create a realistic picture about their needs, wants and goals.

Life styles/ Processes: Knowing their habits, lifestyle and daily activities will help you create a consistent message about why your product or service is useful and how it positively impacts their daily life.

Challenges and Needs: What are the precise challenges and needs that your customer is facing? The more you know of the customer, the more you can address elements that have not been asked for.

Digital Relevance: Murphy’s law means that the pace of digital solutions will consistently rise. Do we understand how attuned to this opportunity our customer is?

Know your customer, and satisfy them…. Today!

Making Your Writing Clear

Remember: What are those  all-important “Three C’s of writing?” All writing should be clear, concise, and correct. To achieve clear writing , good writers use plain language to express clear meaning.

They write in a simple style that uses every day words. They do not use showy words and ambiguous expressions in an effort to dazzle or confuse readers. So good writers must learn to express ideas, not impress others with their writings. Clear writings contain words that are familiar and meaningful to the reader.

Here is an example of the importance of clear writing. What do you think this manager meant in the following message:

‘’Personnel assigned vehicular space in the adjacent area are hereby advised that utilization will be suspended temporarily Friday morning.”

You would probably have to read that sentence several times before you understand that you are being advised not to park in the lot next door on Friday morning.

From this point forward, whenever possible, use short, common, simple words to say what you mean to your readers and watch your writing skills grow in clarity…..Today!

12 Characteristics of Successful Negotiators

Remember: Negotiation is a process centered on a discussion that is intended to produce an agreement. In its simplest form it could be considered to be about power as the parties work to achieve their own interests.

Negotiating involves issues of ego, leveraging, saving face, being right, and compromise. Negotiation often leads to compromises, where both sides make concessions to get as close as they can to exactly what they want. Other times, no concessions may be available and a power struggle may go on for a long time.

To be a successful negotiator, here are some characteristics you must possess to ensure that the negotiation process goes smoothly:

  1. You must see possibilities rather than problems.
  2. You should be an excellent communicator.
  3. Always keep an open mind.
  4. Always have confidence in your own abilities (or act like you do) and the negotiation process.
  5. Be always willing to listen.
  6. Be optimistic.
  7. Don’t let your ego get in the way of a win/win solution.
  8. Be creative and ready to consider ways of doing things differently.
  9. Be flexible.
  10. Always have excellent self-control.
  11. Be well-prepared for any negotiation.
  12. Be a life-long learner.

Let these characteristics be part of you and watch your negotiations go smoothly… … Today!

Setting SMART Goals

Remember: Goals and objectives are the basis for planning. As the Cheshire Cat said to Alice, “If you don’t know where you are going, then any road will take you there.” And that is often how we approach life. We just live, and if we end up where we want to be, that’s great. If we end up where we don’t want to be, that’s life.

We can do a bit better than that, if we really want to. The first element in planning is knowing what we want to achieve, and the way we word our goals is the biggest factor in helping us achieve them. Goals should be SMART.

S = SPECIFIC

When we make our goals too general we aren’t able to visualize them, and if we can’t see them, we have a hard time devoting our efforts toward reaching them. We are more apt to do a good job of redecorating the bathroom if we have a picture in our mind of how it will look when it’s done.

M = MEASURABLE

If we can’t measure a goal, we have no idea how close we are getting to reaching it, and that can be de-motivating. For example, let’s say you have decided you will save some money from every paycheck in order to take a vacation this summer. But if you don’t set a specific amount each pay, and you don’t have an amount you want to reach, you are less apt to put the money away.

A = ATTAINABLE

We sometimes think that we should set high targets or goals for ourselves in order to grow and stretch. Well, we do want to grow and stretch, but if we set goals that aren’t doable, we soon get discouraged and we stop trying. The really high achievers in the world know this. They set goals that they know they can reach, with a little stretching, and when they get there, they set another goal they know they can reach. They climb the mountain one foot at a time.

R = RELEVANT

Goals have to make sense and have some importance, or they will soon be discarded. Set goals that make sense to you. (Another word that is often used for the R in this acronym is Realistic.)

T = TIMED

Put a deadline on your goals. Deadlines are great for getting things done.

Apply these tips when setting your personal and work goal and watch things take a positive turn around …. Today!

Negotiation: Getting Off to a Good Start

Remember: The ultimate goal of negotiation is to reach an agreement. If you can start the negotiation process off with a discussion about something that you agree about – even if it’s just the weather – your negotiations will likely be much more productive.

A good way to establish common ground is to set out some ground rules for the negotiation. This is also known as meta-negotiation, or negotiating about how you will negotiate.

In other to ensure that the negotiation process is seamless, it is a good start to set up some ground rules before you kick-start the process. Some good ground rules can include:

  • We will listen fully to each other’s points before speaking.
  • We will be flexible and open-minded.
  • We will work together to come to a consensus.
  • We will be honest and forthright.

Even if the negotiation involves just two people, it may be helpful to write these rules down and post them where you can both see them. Use this tip and kick-start a great negotiation process… Today!

 

5 Tips for Better Business Writing

Remember: Great writing may require talent but effective writing is a learnable skill. Business writing should be clear, concise and correct. Good writers use plain language that express clear meaning. They write in a simple style that uses everyday words. To be better at writing business correspondence here are some quick tips to help:

1. Know your audience: To communicate effectively, you have to know who your readers are. Remember, “A message aimed at everyone often appeals to no one’’. To write compelling pieces you have to understand your target audience – Are they familiar with your subject? Are they likely to resist your message? Are they old or young, urban or rural, highly educated or not? Knowing your readers makes it easier for you to answer everyone’s most pressing question: “What’s in it for me?”

2. Know your message: Before you start writing, you have to decide on what you are trying to achieve. Do you simply want to share information? Do you need to explain a difficult concept? Or do you want to inspire your readers to act? Most importantly, what is your key message?
3.Avoid the use of slogans and clichés: Clichés are expressions that come out of nowhere and suddenly seem to be everywhere, to the point that they become almost meaningless. Come up with fresh ideas or words to replace clichés, this will set your writing apart and create the necessary impact you require.

4. Write concisely: Good business writing has to be concise. You save your audience the time by writing in a succinct manner that enables them to access important information from your writing easily. You can achieve this when you:

  • Stick to your subject matter.
  • Focus on facts.
  • Aim for clarity and avoid ambiguity.
  • Choose short words.
  • Avoid unnecessary décor (adjectives and adverbs).

5. Write once, check twice: Proofread immediately after you write, and then again hours later. Always give yourself time to set your writing aside and come back to it later. Get busy working on something else; this will give you the detachment you need to catch those errors before anyone else reads them.

Use these tips to improve your business writing and watch your writing impact and confidence levels grow … … … Today!

 

Resolving Workplace Conflict

Remember: Conflict is inevitable. It is most likely to occur when you have people with different expectations and this make conflict management very critical. Conflict can be avoided if steps are taken early in a discussion to diffuse anger and facilitate communication, and it can be resolved by applying a series of thoughtfully applied steps. Here are some tips for avoiding and resolving conflict in its early stages:

 1. Define acceptable behavior: it is best to always define what constitutes acceptable behavior. Have clear job descriptions so that people will know what is expected of them. Also create a well-articulated chain of command that allows for effective communication and in the long run avoid conflict. Clearly and publicly make known what behavior is tolerable and what behaviors won’t be tolerated.

2. Handle conflict sooner rather than later: one tip to successfully resolve conflict is to handle the conflict immediately. It may seem like a good idea to just let the conflict blow over but most times it gets worse with time. 90% of conflicts come from what isn’t said. It may seem unpleasant to tackle the issue here and now, but it gets even more unpleasant after the conflict has stewed for a long time.

3. Hit conflict head-on: one way to conflict resolution is conflict prevention where possible. By seeking out possible areas of potential conflict and proactively intervening in a just and decisive manner will likely prevent certain conflicts from ever arising. Even if a conflict does flair up, you will be more likely to minimize its effect by dealing with it quickly. The little time you spend in identifying and understanding natural tensions will help to avoid unnecessary conflict.

4. Ask: In the early stages of a conflict the most powerful tool to resolve it is simple: Ask! If somebody has done something that made you angry, if you don’t understand somebody’s viewpoint, if you don’t understand their actions – ask! Never assume that people do what they do to annoy you or spite you. People typically have a good reason to do the things they do, even the things that really get on your nerves. Never assume bad faith on anyone else’s part. Instead: Ask!

5. View conflict as an opportunity: within every conflict, there is a huge teaching/learning opportunity. In every disagreement there is a potential for growth and development which can be leveraged for team building and leadership development purposes. It is always a smart idea to look for the upside in all differing opinions.

 

Utilizing these tips takes patience and generally requires changing old behaviors. However, use simple tips such as these to resolve workplace conflicts… … … Today! 

Maintaining a Positive Attitude at Work

Remember: It can be difficult to maintain a positive attitude at work, sometimes it almost seems like it is impossible. However, one thing that remains constantly under your control is your perspective. Maintaining a positive attitude throughout your career is arguably the most valuable key to future success. Here are some steps on how to maintain a positive attitude and communicate effectively:

1. Be a good team player: One of the ways of being a good team player is by taking up responsibilities or work that you do not really enjoy, but would be beneficial to the team and company in the long-run. The key here is to focus on the greater good and focus on making it happen instead of focusing on what might inconvenience you.

2. Avoid Complaining: Complaining is a waste of time and energy. Every second spent complaining is a second that could be spent improving. If you have a problem, think of possible ways to solve this problem before you bring it up for discussion. Your team members would appreciate you for taking the initiative instead of just looking up to them for solutions.

3. Turn Problems Into Opportunities: Having problems at the office is inevitable. The best approach is to focus your energy on the good that can come out of solving a problem – what can you learn from challenging the problem and how can you improve your work life through the solutions.

4. Treat your colleagues with respect: It’s always easier to stay positive at your job if you like the work environment, including your colleagues. If you treat your coworkers with respect and do your best to see issues from their point of view, the working relationships will be much less stressful. You don’t have to like everyone you work with to keep a positive attitude at work.

5. Rest often and maintain a healthy life style: The human body needs rest. It needs to be maintained properly in order to run well. Eating healthy, drinking plenty of water and finding a slice of time to exercise will go a long way in improving your attitude and outlook, which in turn will improve your work life.

Use these tips in your day to day dealings with your colleagues and watch your positive energy take you further up the success ladder… … … Today!

Starting the New Year with a Winning Mindset

Remember: A new year is a fresh chance to look forward to the next phase of your life and think about what you want to accomplish. When we set personal New Years’ resolutions, it is also important that we set career or work related goals as well.

To kick start the year, here are five steps you can take now to achieve your set goals and win big in 2015:

1. Assess your current position: Are you in a position at work which you enjoy and value?  Now is a good time to reflect on how you got there and what you need to do to continue to succeed in your current position. Take advantage of opportunities to advance you career and think of different ways to make your job more interesting and fulfilling. If you are not currently where you want to be, then ask yourself what you are willing to change and take steps to change your current situation.

2. Planning is Key: As Benjamin Franklin said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” Write down your top four ideal career paths and what you would need to do to achieve each one. Only include things that you can realistically achieve within the set time frames. Although setting goals for 2015 is your focus here, you should always be looking at least two or three years into the future to make sure your plan has longevity and promise.

3. Start small: Start with the little things that would make a difference in your career growth. For example if you are poor at keeping time, make a personal decision to always arrive before the set time for any appointment or simply getting to work early. It is better to break your goals up into smaller chunks that you can work towards achieving on either a weekly or monthly basis.

4. Be flexible: Be open to new ideas ad new ways to do things. It is difficult to go far in your career if you aren’t flexible to changing situations. Make a personal decision to say ‘yes’ more than ‘no’ at work when it comes to suggestions from your co-workers or superiors about new ways to doing things.

5. Maintain work-life balance: In all of this work-life balance is important. Work-life balance entails having some breathing space for yourself each day; feeling a sense of accomplishment, while not being consumed by work; and having an enjoyable domestic life without short-changing your career obligations. You are more likely to be successful in your work life if you pay attention to your health, your family and friends. Make a point to address these areas in the New Year.

A new year is an opportunity for a fresh start at work. Make that change that would give your career a new direction and a new meaning… … …Today!

Greatness in little things

Remember:  You can do a little more each day than you think you can. Do a little more than average and watch your progress multiply itself out of all proportion to the effort you put in.  It is the “little things”  you do, that will increase your value to your employer and make you stand out as a person who takes pride in your job.

Here are  5 ‘‘little things’’ to consider:

  1. Make a conscious decision to always get to work before the normal start time. This way, you will always make a positive impression on your employers if you come in early and don’t rush out the door at the close of work.
  2. Dress appropriately. If you want to be taken seriously at the office, start with you appearance. “Dress the way you want to be addresses” may be a cliché, but it’s the hard truth. Dressing appropriately also applies to Fridays.
  3. Most of us spend 80% of our time at the office, why not make it a home-away-from-home. Be friendly and maintain positive relationships with your colleagues. Always keep your energy levels high and be known as the person who always has a positive attitude.
  4. Everything you write or type is a reflection of you. It is also a reflection of your company’s brand.Take time to double check for spelling and grammartical errors.
  5. Don’t sit on the fence, get involved with the company activities and events. This is a reflection of how serious you are about your career.

It is the little things you do or don’t do that make the difference in your career and in life. As Mother Theresa rightly said “Be faithful in the small things, for it is in them that your greatness lies..”

Be consistent in the little things and bring out your greatness… … … Today!