The Daily Recruiter

The Ezine for Executive Managers … brought to you by The SearchLogix Group.

Category: Communication (Page 1 of 2)

Why We Hear More

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” Article courtesy of Farnam Street

It’s a classic complaint in relationships, especially romantic ones: “She said she was okay with me forgetting her birthday! Then why is she throwing dishes in the kitchen? Are the two things related? I wish I had a translator for my spouse. What is going on?”

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Talking about political topics

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“By John R. Stoker, SmartBrief”

Although many people have had business communications training, some still approach difficult conversations with a degree of fear and trepidation.

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How to Fight a Fire (Self-Coaching in a Crisis)

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“By Ed Batista, of EdBatista.com”

Most of my coaching clients are CEOs of rapidly growing companies, and while their work is always demanding and dynamic, sometimes they face a full-blown crisis, a threat to the organization’s existence that will require their maximum effort. These are the situations that truly test a leader’s ability to self-coach, to manage themselves effectively while also guiding others. Here are four factors that have helped clients who’ve had to surmount a crisis:

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How Leaders Can Make Their Message More Memorable

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“By Tanveer Naseer, of TanveerNaseer.com”

The following is a guest piece by cognitive scientist and author Dr. Carmen Simon.

Conversation between flight attendant and passenger:

“What would you like to drink, sir?”
“Water.”

Flight attendant goes to get it and turns around after 2 seconds:

“Sorry, was that a club soda?”
“No, water.”

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10 Golden Rules of Communication in a Team Environment

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“By Samuel Edwards, of Inc.com”

When you’re working as a part of a team, communication is essential. Without it, your goals could be misconstrued, your efforts could become uncoordinated, and you’ll eventually have no hope of achieving a cohesive final result. Obviously, communication is a good thing, but when you’re working with a group of people–rather than in a one-on-one setting–there are unique challenges and qualities to take into consideration.

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Why Don’t People Communicate Up in an Organization?

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“By Dianna Booher, of Huffington Post”

The CEO and the CFO set in opposite corners of the room. But both stuck their hands into the air just as I called for questions at the end of my keynote. “Why don’t employees communicate upward in an organization?” the CEO asked with a twinge of frustration. The CFO added, “My question exactly!”

It’s a common question in the executive suite — even from the most well-liked and brightest leaders in the boardroom. And the question deserves serious thought because typically when downward communication dominates, problems go unaddressed and innovation stalls.

Eventually poor internal communication shows up to the customer as poor service or defective products. So back to the root reasons:

No System
Some organizations say they want employees to give feedback, to pass on ideas for new products or services, to pass on cost-cutting ideas, to pass on flagrant violation of policies, to let senior management know how to improve things in general.

But that’s only in theory — or at least, that’s the way it sounds to employees. No quick, easy system is in place to communicate those ideas anonymously.

And that system doesn’t have to be elaborate. If you’re a small business, you as leader can just make it clear that you are comfortable with responding to email. Another option is to gather feedback through free or paid survey software. Still another option is to arrange for one of your suppliers to collect suggestions via email through their email server and feed them back to you anonymously.

Lack of Response
Some people try to communicate upward once or twice and then give up because they never get a response on their idea. They feel that their feedback or suggestion gets sucked into a big black hole and never gets serious consideration. As a result, they think, “why bother again?”

Slow Response
A timely response — whether positive, neutral, or negative — says someone has considered the idea or feedback. A slow response equals no response. So what’s the definition of “timely”? Various customer service satisfaction surveys suggest that 88 percent of customers expect to receive a response to their email inquiry within 24 hours. Twelve percent expect a response within an hour. Compared to this customer expectation, consider how the timeliness of your internal responses to team members measures up?

Fear
Some people don’t communicate with the boss for fear of reprisal about bad news. Also, a common habit for some leaders is to assign the person who points out a problem the task of wrestling that problem to the ground. Who needs another extra-curricular assignment if you’re already working to peak capacity?

Accountability
Closely associated with fear, accountability keeps some people mum. If they don’t share their numbers, goals, or metrics, then their boss can’t hold them accountable or question them about what went wrong. Keeping others in the dark about future plans and current problems — particularly the senior team — means staying off everybody’s radar screen.

Parental Culture
Some organizations have created a parental mentality — either by the leader or the employees. The leader may act like mom or dad: “You kids don’t worry about things. We’ll take care of the important things for you. Just do your job and we’ll handle the rest.” In other organizations, the employees have created that culture through their actions or lack of initiative, in effect saying, “That’s not my job. I’ll just go play over here. I’m sure you’ll let me know if I need to pay attention to anything else or change anything.”

Whatever the reason people don’t communicate upward in an organization, the result remains virtually the same: distrust, disengagement, and stagnation.

How To Connect With Anyone You Just Met With 5 Questions

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“by Paul Sohn, http://paulsohn.org”

All my life, I’ve began asking myself, “Whom can I connect?” I am naturally hard-wired to see the world as a web of relationships and I get excited by the prospect of connecting people within my web. Not because they will like each other, but rather because of what they will create together. The mantra I operate in is “1 + 1 makes 3. Or 30. Or 300. ”

Entering a new career transition as an entrepreneur and leadership coach/consultant, I am constantly finding ways to build connections and find ways on how I can be for them and against them.

I came across five types of questions that have helped me to improve my emotional connectivity with people. I hope you’ll find the following helpful in building your relational intelligence.

1. Establish Common Ground

Are you able to quickly identify things in which you have in common? Whether that is, your blood type, month you were born, ethnic background, alma mater, organization you work for, hobbies, mutual friends, my number one objective is to start a conversation based something we share in common. This ignites our conversation and helps to take it to the next level. Finding common ground is the lubricator of the relationship engine.

Simply, start looking around. What do you notice in the other person in which you can ask questions to create resonance and commonality? Here’s some examples.
s“Those are nice looking glasses. Looks exactly like the design I’m looking for. Where can I purchase them?”
s“It really sucks to wearing a tie when it’s sweltering, isn’t it?”
s“Isn’t the iPhone 6 so convenient for situations like this?”

2. Ask Questions the Other Person Wants to Hear

This is second nature to master connectors. They are Jedi-masters when it comes to listening between the lines. They intuitively know what the other person wants to be asked.

Here’s a normal response from an average questioner:
sPerson A: “How did you spend your long-weekend holiday?”
sPerson B: “I visited Hawaii with my family on Friday and had a fantastic time there.”

Now, here’s a normal response from an exceptional questioner:
sPerson A: “How did you spend your long-weekend holiday?”
sPerson B: “I had a three day off-site visit with family. What about you?”

Did you catch the difference? In the second scenario, Person B intuitively knew that Person A brought up the question because Person A wants to share his/her experience. That’s why Person B gave a general reply and quickly turned around with the same question to Person A. If you really think about it, a lot of the questions people asked are questions they want to be asked.

Here’s more examples:
s“Honey, did you hear? Our neighbor Jim’s went to Hawaii again.”
s“Were you involved in student clubs while you were in college?”
s“What are the best books you are reading?”

In the first question, the person’t isn’t confirming whether you know that Jim went to Hawaii. The question implies a desire, “I want to go to Hawaii too.” In the second question, “the person isn’t really asking for which clubs you’re involved in college, but rather this person wants to share about his/her student club experience during college.” Same logic for the third question. The person is more interested in sharing his thoughts on the best books he is reading. Exceptional connectors intuitively know this because they are always others-focused.

3. When You Ask, Use “Half Open-ended Questions”

Generally, there’s two type of questions. A closed-ended question and an open-ended question. Here’s an example of these two type of questions:
sClosed-ended Question: “Is working at your job hard?” (Either you respond with “yes” or “no”)
sOpen-ended Question: “How is working at your job?” (The person can freely respond)

We ask these questions all the time. When we meet people for the first time and ask closed-ended questions, the conversation may abruptly halt and create awkward moments. When you use open-ended questions, the question is so big and abstract that the person responding may have difficulty sharing “how much” information.

Instead, employ the “half open-ended question” method. This is when you create more specificity into the open-ended question method. Here’s a few example:
s“What’s your favorite thing about working in your current job?”
s“What’s the hardest thing from taking this class?”
s“What makes this season the busiest time in life?”

A small thing like adding a bit more specificity can make all the difference.

4.Use Questions to Elicit Interesting Episodes

Master connectors learn from one of the most commonly used interview strategies today: behavioral interviews. Instead of asking “general questions” such as ”
s“What’s your strength?”
s“What’s your dream job?”
s“What’s the most important thing you have learned from your role as a customer service rep?”

A lot of times, these questions are often responded with quite abstract terms. Rather, behavioral interviews focused on specific, concrete examples of the past that demonstrate certain qualities. Here’s a few examples:
s“Can you tell me about an experience in your current role where your strength came to limelight?”
s“What’s your current role at work? Tell me a success story of one of your accomplishments this year.”

One caveat is ensuring that you focus on both tact and tone. These questions can often sound intimidating. So, it’s important to sound genuine and interested, not like an interrogator. When you use this method here’s a few examples of what it might sound like in a conversation:
s“Oh. I see. Interesting. So what specifically happened after that?”
s“So what happened to that guy after it happened?”

5. Leverage the Power of Research

We live in a world where transparency is the currency of relationship and information is free on the internet. Whether it’s a blog, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, this creates an opportunity for master connectors to do pre-work to ask the right questions when you meet the person for the first time.

Whether you are preparing for an interview, going out on a date, or preparing for a networking session, I always spend 30 minutes to an hour to really research the person. I immediately think about what do I share in common? Also, I might follow the person beforehand and read their tweets to see what kind of information this person is interested in.

Shut Up First, Talk Later

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“by Wayne Turmel, http://www.management-issues.com”

Sometimes team conference calls and meetings don’t generate the interest, input and engagement you want. In fact, they’re almost painful. It seems nigh-on impossible to get people to contribute or ask questions, and getting your team to share information seems to be far more difficult than it should be. People often ask me, “what should I say?” The answer, funnily enough, is to say as little as possible.

My colleague, and co-founder of the Remote Leadership Institute, Kevin Eikenberry, has a simple rule for running meetings that ensure maximum input from participants. Put simply, other than saying hello and formally starting the meeting (maybe), the leader should be the last to speak.

Too many meetings follow a familiar pattern. The leader welcomes everyone, there’s a roll call (which usually takes way too long and is interrupted by people beeping in and asking if you can hear them), then the leader gives her update, then asks for ideas, questions, or reports from the group. All too often there isn’t enough real conversation, sharing of information, or cries for assistance. Then everyone hangs up, grateful the torture is over for another week, and goes back to work.

This isn’t the best way to engage people or keep them involved. But what is the alternative?

Try hearing from the participants first, THEN offer the leader’s viewpoint. Why?

•Hearing from everyone in a structured way eliminates the boring “roll call” approach.
•Everyone is expected (and gently coerced) into participating early. The longer people remain passive in a conference call or webmeeting, the more likely they are to stay that way. Think about it: if your report to the group is the only thing between them and the blessed relief of hanging up, why would you keep things going?
•As the leader, you often try to anticipate objections, problems, and questions when you give a report. Often you over-communicate in an honest attempt to cover all the bases. By letting the others go first, you can identify areas of concern, confirm what people have said, and often speak less because that information has been covered.
•If people know they’ll be expected to speak early, there’s a better likelihood of them showing up on time, or at least less late than usual.
•You create a culture of active participation, rather than passive attendance. This reduces (because nothing completely eliminates) the problem of people “tuning out”, answering emails rather than truly listening, and resenting the time spent.
•Because the attendees have told you what they know, what their concerns are, and what the gaps are, you can then focus your remarks and discussion to what’s really important. You also can identify those team members with specific interest or expertise and leverage that to create more of a true team where people rely on each other, and less on the boss. Making your own life simpler is a worthy goal for any leader.

If more leaders spoke less, or at least later on, there would be increased participation, better information sharing and more effective meetings. Not a bad thing at all.

Why Compassion Is a Better Managerial Tactic than Toughness

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“by Emma Seppälä, https://hbr.org”

Stanford University neurosurgeon Dr. James Doty tells the story of performing surgery on a little boy’s brain tumor. In the middle of the procedure, the resident who is assisting him gets distracted and accidentally pierces a vein. With blood shedding everywhere, Doty is no longer able to see the delicate brain area he is working on. The boy’s life is at stake. Doty is left with no other choice than to blindly reaching into the affected area in the hopes of locating and clamping the vein. Fortunately, he is successful.

Most of us are not brain surgeons, but we certainly are all confronted with situations in which an employee makes a grave mistake, potentially ruining a critical project.

The question is:  How should we react when an employee is not performing well or makes a mistake?

Frustration is of course the natural response — and one we all can identify with. Especially if the mistake hurts an important project or reflects badly upon us.

The traditional approach is to reprimand the employee in some way. The hope is that some form of punishment will be beneficial: it will teach the employee a lesson. Expressing our frustration also may relieve us of the stress and anger caused by the mistake. Finally, it may help the rest of the team stay on their toes to avoid making future errors.

Some managers, however, choose a different response when confronted by an underperforming employee: compassion and curiosity.  Not that a part of them isn’t frustrated or exasperated — maybe they still worry about how their employee’s mistakes will reflect back on them — but they are somehow able to suspend judgment and may even be able to use the moment to do a bit of coaching.

What does research say is best? The more compassionate response will get you more powerful results.

First, compassion and curiosity increase employee loyalty and trust. Research has shown that feelings of warmth and positive relationships at work have a greater say over employee loyalty than the size of their paycheck.  In particular, a study by Jonathan Haidt of New York University shows that the more employees look up to their leaders and are moved by their compassion or kindness (a state he terms elevation), the more loyal they become to him or her. So if you are more compassionate to your employee, not only will he or she be more loyal to you, but anyone else who has witnessed your behavior may also experience elevation and feel more devoted to you.

Conversely, responding with anger or frustration erodes loyalty. As Adam Grant, Professor at the Wharton Business School and best-selling author of Give & Take, points out that, because of the law of reciprocity, if you embarrass or blame an employee too harshly, your reaction may end up coming around to haunt you. “Next time you need to rely on that employee, you may have lost some of the loyalty that was there before,” he told me.

We are especially sensitive to signs of trustworthiness in our leaders, and compassion increases our willingness to trust. Simply put, our brains respond more positively to bosses who have shown us empathy, as neuroimaging research confirms. Employee trust in turn improves performance.

Doty, who is also Director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, recalls his first experience in the OR room. He was so nervous that he perspired profusely. Soon enough, a drop of sweat fell into the operation site and contaminated it. The operation was a simple one and the patients’ life was in no way at stake. As for the operation site, it could have been easily irrigated. However, the operating surgeon — one of the biggest names in surgery at the time — was so angry that he kicked Doty out of the OR room. Doty recalls returning home and crying tears of devastation.

Tellingly, Doty explains in an interview how, if the surgeon had acted differently, he would have gained Doty’s undying loyalty. “If the surgeon, instead of raging, had said something like: Listen young man watch what just happened, you contaminated the field. I know you’re nervous. You can’t be nervous if you want to be a surgeon. Why don’t you go outside and take a few minutes to collect yourself. Readjust your cap in such a way that the sweat doesn’t pour down your face. Then come back and I’ll show you something. Well, then he would have been my hero forever.”

Not only does an angry response erode loyalty and trust, it also inhibits creativity by jacking up the employee’s stress levels. As Doty explains, “Creating an environment where there is fear, anxiety and lack of trust makes people shut down. If people have fear and anxiety, we know from neuroscience that their threat response is engaged, their cognitive control is impacted. As a consequence, their productivity and creativity diminish.” For instance, brain imaging studies show that, when we feel safe, our brain’s stress response is lower.

Grant also agrees that “when you respond in a frustrated, furious manner, the employee becomes less likely to take risks in the future because s/he worries about the negative consequences of making mistakes. In other words, you kill the culture of experimentation that is critical to learning and innovation.” Grant refers to research by Fiona Lee at the University of Michigan that shows that promoting a culture of safety — rather than fear of negative consequences – helps encourage the spirit of experimentation so critical for creativity.

There is, of course, a reason we feel anger. Research shows that feelings of anger can have beneficial results – for example, they can give us the energy to stand up against injustice. Moreover, they make us appear more powerful. However, when as a leader you express negative emotions like anger, your employees actually view you as less effective. Conversely, being likable and projecting warmth — not toughness — gives leaders a distinct advantage, as Amy Cuddy of Harvard Business School has shown.

So how can you respond with more compassion the next time an employee makes a serious mistake?

1. Take a moment. Doty explains that the first thing is to get a handle on your own emotions — anger, frustration, or whatever the case may be. “You have to take a step back and control your own emotional response because if you act out of emotional engagement, you are not thoughtful about your approach to the problem. By stepping back and taking a period of time to reflect, you enter a mental state that allows for a more thoughtful, reasonable and discerned response.” Practicing meditation can help improve your self-awareness and emotional control.

You don’t want to operate from a place where you are just pretending not to be angry. Research shows that this kind of pretense actually ends up raising both your and your employee’s heart rates. Instead, take some time to cool off so you can see the situation with more detachment.

2. Put yourself in your employees’ shoes.  Taking a step back will help give you the ability to empathize with your employee. Why was Dr. Doty, in the near-tragic OR moment, able to respond compassionately to his resident? As a consequence of recalling his own first experience in the OR room, he could identify and empathize with the resident. This allowed him to curb his frustration, avoid degrading the already horrified resident, and maintain the presence of mind to save a little boy’s life.

The ability to perspective-take is a valuable one. Studies have shown that it helps you see aspects of the situation you may not have noticed and leads to better results in interactions and negotiations. And because positions of power tend to lower our natural inclination for empathy, it is particularly important that managers have the self-awareness to make sure they practice seeing situations form their employee’s perspective.

3. Forgive. Empathy, of course, helps you forgive.

Forgiveness not only strengthens your relationship with your employee by promoting loyalty, it turns out that it is also good for you. Whereas carrying a grudge is bad for your heart (blood pressure and heart rate both go up), forgiveness lowers both your blood pressure and that of the person you’re forgiving. Other studies show that forgiveness makes you happier and more satisfied with life, significantly reducing stress and negative emotions.

When trust, loyalty, and creativity are high, and stress is low, employees are happier and more productive and turnover is lower. Positive interactions even make employees healthier and require fewer sick days. Other studies have shown how compassionate management leads to improvements in customer service and client outcomes and satisfaction.

Doty told me he’s never thrown anyone out of his OR. “It’s not that I let them off the hook, but by choosing a compassionate response when they know they have made a mistake, they are not destroyed, they have learned a lesson, and they want to improve for you because you’ve been kind to them.”

8 Ways to Effectively Communicate With Clients

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“by Jennifer Lonoff Schiff, http://www.cio.com”

It used to be (back before the Internet, smartphones and social media) that if you wanted or needed to speak to a client, you picked up the phone – or you sent her a letter. Today, however, there are many ways to communicate with clients. However, not every method is right for every situation or for every client. Indeed, choose the wrong communication strategy and you could wind up alienating valuable clients.

To help you navigate the various options, we’ve compiled a list of the most popular, and effective, communication methods (listed alphabetically) and included advice from client communication experts regarding when and how to use each one.

Top 8 client communication methods

1. Email. Email allows you to “communicate in a way that respects the client’s time and attention, as both are scarce resources,” says Anne Janzer, an author and marketing consultant. “That means sending short email messages, with the most important content in the first sentence and a clear subject line [as] some people never read past the first line of any email.”

Email is particularly good “where multiple parties need to be kept in the loop on something,” adds Adam Weissman, account supervisor, Max Borges Agency, a communications and digital strategy firm. “Plus, with email, there is always a record that is easily searchable.”

2. Newsletters. “It seems rather counterintuitive but we actually send a paper copy of a newsletter to our clients,” says Nick Espinosa, CIO, BSSi2, an IT services company. “I thought this was a bad move when we first tried it, but I was amazed at how many responded asking questions about articles. And I have actually spotted our newsletter on the desks of our clients!”

3. Phone. “When one needs to work with a client in detail and manage the nuances of the conversation, a phone call is still the best communication channel,” says John Kinskey, founder and president, AccessDirect, which provides virtual PBX phone systems. “At times a staff member will forward to me an email chain from a client and ask me how to respond. I say ‘pick up the phone!’”

Indeed, while good for certain types of communication, “email responses at certain points can become counterproductive,” he says, and can lead to misunderstandings. “With a phone call (using a VoIP desk phone) we have a chance to show that we care about solving a client issue quickly, along with apologizing for any misunderstanding,” he explains.

“We use email to keep a recorded history of client requests, but all of our client follow-up and engagement is done by phone,” says Espinosa. “As an IT service corporation we are following up with clients roughly 24 to 48 hours after work is completed. Our phone communication is constant and we consistently receive excellent reviews from clients,” he reports. “I personally use between 3,000 to 4,000 minutes a month on the phone, and it really pays off.”

4. Skype (or Google Hangouts). “For regular communications, we try to maintain a weekly or bi-weekly Skype call with clients, with or without video (based on need and bandwidth),” says Weissman. “These weekly ‘calls’ can typically last 30 to 45 minutes and offer a great way to connect multiple people in different locations.”

“Skype is great for conference calls and international clients, as it’s free,” says Michelle Garrett, owner, Garrett Public Relations. “It’s [particularly] useful when you have people in multiple countries coming together for a meeting.”

5. Slack. “Slack, one of my favorite team messaging applications, allows me to stay in touch with clients on a day-to-day basis when launching a new campaign, or updating [them] on current project developments,” says Nina Tomaro, a content strategist. “It takes away from the clutter of email and keeps all communications in one location, where the client can choose to check and respond at their convenience.”

“We use Slack to get clients out of email and into a chat room format,” says Kate Finley, CEO, Belle Communications. “We can make communication much more personal [using Slack] and decrease the need for lengthy meetings or the trap of multiple correspondence channels like text, email, phone and social media.”

6. Snail mail. “Don’t dismiss ‘snail mail,’” cautions Deborah Dumaine, CEO, Better Communications Writing Workshops. “Today almost all of our communication is delivered through our phones or computers. To stand out to new prospects [and even existing clients], a mailed letter can make a far bigger impression than yet another email in an overflowing inbox,” she says. “Letters are so rare that people can be intrigued and will open them. Try it.”

7. Social media (LinkedIn, Facebook & Twitter messaging). “One of the most significant upsides of staying in touch with clients over social media is that you’re meeting consumers where they’re already spending their time,” says Bruce Milne, executive vice president, Socialware, which helps clients manage social media across the enterprise. “Use social media networks to regularly share content, updates and your own tips with clients, thus establishing yourself as a credible expert in your field and a top-of-mind choice when your type of services are required. In situations where discretion is necessary, [use] Facebook Messenger, Twitter direct messages (DMs) [or] LinkedIn InMail.”

Another advantage to using social media is “communications can be attended to at a client’s leisure,” he adds. “That means you [don’t have to worry about] interrupting [an important meeting or] dinner [or messages] getting buried in their email inbox.”

8. Texting. “I always give my clients my cell number and let them know it’s OK to text me about urgent matters,” says Tomaro. “This not only helps me stay on top of things that need my immediate attention, but shows my clients I truly care about their business.”

“Some of my service providers (doctors, salons) have moved to text messaging, which is really effective as a way to remind clients of their appointments and of special deals they may have going on,” notes Garrett. “It gets my attention much more so than an email that just sits in the inbox with dozens of other messages.”

“As businesses look to woo the critical millennial market and break through today’s cluttered communication channels, SMS/text-based messaging
 is one of the fastest and most efficient ways to accomplish this goal,” explains Tim Fujita-Yuhas, director Product Management & New Product Strategy, OpenMarket, a mobile engagement solution provider. “Businesses should also look to text-enable customer service phone numbers to streamline requests internally and to allow clientele to reach out and interact when it’s convenient for them.”

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