Create Your Own Magic With These Three Steps

Have you ever done something difficult at work, but made it look easy? Maybe you solved a problem, helped a client or negotiated a deal in a way that astounded your colleagues? It felt amazing, right? Inspiring delight and wonder is powerful—even addicting. It’s this sense of awe and power that also drives magicians to do what they do, and why people love them for it.

What most people don’t realize about magic shows, though, is that it’s not all props and performance. To truly surprise and delight, a seasoned magician uses his expertise. And you don’t have to run away with the circus or even learn a single magic trick to apply magical thinking to your business or career.

Today, we reveal three secrets for creating the wow factor at work developed by Kostya Kimlat, a magician with more than 20 years of experience.

1. Innovation And Lateral Thinking. Magicians have always had to work backwards: They come up with a surprising effect and then devise a means to accomplish it. They must consider all mental, visual and physical tools available. To continue astonishing people, a magician can’t stick with the same tactics. Their tricks must constantly evolve, but here’s the key—their approach to developing new material stays the same: Magicians start the creative process by acting as if anything is possible.

To be creative and innovative, you have to be able to see existing resources as more than they are. You must seek methods and technologies unknown to you (and maybe to others). You can’t do any of those things when you decide preemptively that any end goal—a new product, service, client or corporate structure—is outside the range of what’s possible.

2. Perception management. No magician’s trick is complete with only physical tools and technologies. To fool someone, a magician must do something the other person doesn’t know, recognize or perceive. Knowing and managing an audience’s perceptions are what make the trick.

Similarly, to excel at work, it’s not enough to just be creative. You must also accurately understand what people around you perceive—what they believe and expect. Before an important meeting with a client, your boss or employees, do some digging on what your investors believe about your company before you present. Find out what delighted or disappointed them at the most recent board meeting—and why. Do the research beforehand to more deeply understand what others believe they know, how they see you and what they are looking for, and you’ll be able to deliver and even dazzle by going beyond expectations.

3. Social Intelligence. Highly successful magicians aren’t just good at tricks. They’re great entertainers. They pull people in. Why? They read people in a way that others don’t. Perception management—the ability to understand how people perceive you and what you do—is a skill that can be learned, developed and refined. If you practice taking the perspectives of others enough, you’ll develop a powerful tool: social intelligence.

Being a great thinker doesn’t just mean having great ideas; it’s understanding and anticipating the thoughts of others. It’s knowing how they think and feel, and making informed guesses on how they will react. It’s about being ready instead of reacting in panic.

You can practice the same strategies at the office. Constantly assess what those above, below and beside you are perceiving, what they expect and how they feel. Do this not just during crucial moments, but at every point of interaction. Do it well enough and it will be what sets you apart. It will become your magic, your own wow factor.

With these three magician’s secrets, you can bring innovation and lateral thinking to your job. Wow your coworkers by anticipating what they’re going to think or say at the next meeting, and astonish them with your masterful ability to connect and communicate with anyone you meet.

Source: Kostya Kimlat is a keynote speaker and corporate magician who fooled Penn & Teller on their hit TV show, Fool Us. Kimlat speaks to businesses about how to Think Like A Magician to improve sales and customer service.

Hook Top Candidates With Great Storytelling

It takes an average of 27 days to hire a new employee, according to a recent survey, but the best candidates are off the market within 10 days. In today’s tight job market, it’s a challenge for many executives to convince top talent to join their company. A second challenge is training newcomers to understand the company’s core values.

To become better at hiring and training, Henry DeVries, CEO of Indie Books International, suggests taking the approach of a storyteller. Give candidates lots of facts and figures about your company and then tell them the right story.

Core Values Are Key. Top candidates don’t want to work just anywhere. They want an organization where they align with the core values. Every business has core values, although some have not formally stated what they are. Basically, core values are the guiding principles that drive an organization’s conduct both internally with employees and externally with customers. Some examples of core values include statements such as:

  • We go the extra mile for customers
  • We do whatever it takes to get the job done

Core values are a decision that company leaders make. But just naming a core value is not enough.

The Core Value Storytelling Formula. For every core value, the company should capture a true story that represents that core value in action. Here is a quick overview of the core value storytelling formula:

1. Start with a main character. Every story starts with a character who wants something: your client. Make your main character likable so the listeners will root for them.

2. Have a nemesis character. Stories need conflict to be interesting. What person, institution, or condition stands in the protagonist’s way?

 

3. Bring in a mentor character. Heroes need help on their journey. This is where you come in. Be the voice of wisdom and experience. Heroes cannot succeed alone; they succeed because of the help you provide.

4. Know what story you are telling. Human brains are programmed to relate to one of eight great meta-stories. These are: monster, underdog, comedy, tragedy, mystery, quest, rebirth and escape. If the story is about overcoming a huge problem, that is a monster problem story. If the company was like a David that overcame an industry Goliath, that is an underdog story.

5. Have the hero succeed. Typically, the main character needs to succeed, with one exception: tragedy. The tragic story is told as a cautionary tale. Great for teaching lessons, but not great for attracting clients. Have the hero go from mess to success (it was a struggle, and they couldn’t have done it without you).

6. Give the listeners the moral of the story, which is the core value. Don’t count on the listeners to get the message. The storyteller’s final job is to tell them what the story means.

Put Stories Into Action. After you’ve identified the core value and have examples to share with candidates, persuade future hires—and educate current employees and customers—with these opportunities:

During a job interview. Don’t start the interview by telling stories. However, once the candidate has shared information about themselves, then the interviewer can share stories about the core values of the organization.

At weekly staff meetings. During staff meetings, tell a story to illustrate one of your core values.

At company-wide meetings. Is it time to assemble all the troops? Maybe for a change in direction or for recognition? This is a perfect time for core-value selling.

On the company website. Detail for clients and potential clients the power of story by promoting core-value stories on your website.

In company collateral material. Since stories connect on an emotional level, doesn’t it make sense to put them in writing?

Storytelling helps persuade others on an emotional level. Utilize storytelling as a key strategy for showcasing your core values.

Three Ways To Give Constructive Feedback

Giving constructive criticism can be a very sensitive area. It’s an opportunity to identify areas of improvement, but it can also mean bruising an ego here or there.

In her recent blog post from The Muse, author Kat Boogard shared three ways to give constructive feedback, which we’ll outline below.

1. ” You always …” Always. As Boogard says, “always’ seems like such an innocent word, but when used to give feedback, it can quickly put someone on the defensive.

As she points out, “always” can imply that there’s a mistake that has happened on a frequent enough basis that you can chalk it up as something that person repeatedly does. Maybe that’s true. However, constructive criticism is hard enough to swallow without being made to feel like you’ve been making the same mistake for a long time.

So, when giving feedback, drop the “A” word.

2. “Everybody has noticed that …” Sometimes when you receive feedback, it can feel embarrassing or disheartening, especially when you didn’t realize there was a problem to begin with.

Implying that everyone has noticed will make the recipient feel like they’ve been talked about and that negative comments were made.

When giving feedback, there’s no need to relay the details of every single complaint. In the end, it shouldn’t matter how many people have commented. What matters is that the person is aware that he or she needs to fix it.

3. “If I were you …” Constructive criticism is generally better received when it’s rooted in fact-as opposed to just opinion. This phrase, “If I were you …” can come across as judgmental.

Remember, not everybody works the same way, which means that just because you’d do something differently doesn’t necessarily mean the way that other person is doing it is wrong and warrants correction.

Providing feedback can be a positive discussion and an effective step toward improvement. By demonstrating respect and basing feedback on facts, not judgement or opinion, you’ll create a positive foundation for next steps to improvement.

Source: Kat Boogard is a Midwest-based freelance writer, covering topics related to careers, self-development and the freelance life. In addition to writing for The Muse, she’s also the Career Editor for The Everygirl, a columnist for Inc., and a contributor on the web. When she manages to escape from behind her computer screen, she’s usually babying her rescued terrier mutt or continuing her search for the perfect taco.

Seven Ways To Improve Your Sphere Of Influence

To move things forward and achieve key milestones at work, you often need to be able to influence others—whether it’s colleagues, subordinates, your boss, customers or suppliers. In most cases, influence is power and it’s a critical element for success. Gaining influence can help you better manage a team or get your voice heard in a key meeting.

We’re sharing these key tips for building influence from Jayson DeMers, founder and CEO of AudienceBloom, a Seattle-based content marketing and social media agency.

1. Build Trust With Your Co-Workers. Only when a co-worker trusts you will he or she be open to your influence. The easiest way to do that is to be open and honest, no matter what. State your opinions, disclose your apprehensions and be transparent.

2. Be Consistent To Show Reliability. Inconsistency is the fastest way to ruin your reputation. On the other hand, if you execute your tasks effectively and on time, day after day, eventually people will come to rely on you. The same is true when you execute a consistent style of leadership, setting consistent expectations with your employees and giving consistent rewards for good work.

3. Be Assertive, Not Aggressive. Being assertive is the only way to get your ideas noticed, especially when you’re competing with others for visibility, such as in a meeting. However, there’s a difference between being assertive and being aggressive. You’ll need to present your thoughts and ideas with a high degree of confidence , but excessive confidence could be mistaken for arrogance, which will compromise your perceived authority. Tread carefully, especially when you’re unfamiliar with your audience or if you’re presenting your thoughts on an area outside of your expertise. Being assertive, so long as you truly believe in what you’re saying, is a way to cultivate a reputation of authority and earn the ability to influence your peers and employees.

4. Be Flexible. Work to demonstrate flexibility while holding firm on your beliefs. Negotiations and compromises are often the best ways to do this. Hold your ground when someone contradicts you, but work with them to find a mutually acceptable solution. When people believe you are flexible, they’ll be more likely to listen to you even if they’re stubborn.

5. Be Personal. A little personality goes a long way, especially when you’re trying to build influence in the workplace. This is especially important when you’re in a higher position, as a boss or a supervisor. If you isolate yourself, or try to build your perceived authority by distancing yourself from others, it might only serve to alienate you. Instead, go out of your way to have personal exchanges with your employees and co-workers. Personal working relationships are important for cultivating a sense of team, and if people see you as another team member, they’ll be more receptive when you present your ideas or opinions.

6. Focus On Actions Rather Than Arguments. Trying to build influence through words is useless. If you’re going to build influence in the workplace, you need to speak through your actions, or at the very least have the actions and history to back up whatever it is you’re saying. Demonstrating your ideas through real examples provides proof of your genuine nature.

7. Listen To Others. Finally, remember that influence is a two-way street. If you want to build relationships with your co-workers and employees, you first have to listen. The more you believe in the people around you and incorporate their ideas into your vision, the more they’ll believe in your ideas and incorporate them into their work habits. Encourage people to speak up, especially if they don’t often voice their opinions. Take time to respect and acknowledge everybody’s opinion, and let people know that you value them.

Try these strategies to improve your scope of influence in the workplace, and your opinions will naturally be heard, acknowledged and respected as a result.

Source: Jayson DeMers is the founder and CEO of AudienceBloom, a Seattle-based content marketing and social media agency.

Create A Positive, Productive Workplace

Have you ever worked in a setting that was not a happy place? Ever had a boss that always had their door closed and did not welcome questions or conversation, which created an isolated environment. Plus, the company’s structure was continually changing, so job security was always in question. And there was a definite pecking order of favorite employees, causing animosity among teammates. Working in an environment like this can be stressful, distracting and downright depressing.

Today, we share a model for creating a happy workplace by looking to one of the most cheerful places on earth—the North Pole—and Santa’s workshop. Human resources expert Susan Heathfield has studied the elves who work there (well, the concept anyway), and says they are always happy and continue to meet production demand for toys as the world’s population of children increases. Based on this model, here’s what Heathfield says are the keys to a creating a happy workplace.

Create a purpose. Santa’s elves have a higher purpose than themselves by providing little boys and girls all over the world with exactly what they want for Christmas. Bringing joy through their work and knowing that they are participating in an activity that impacts millions in a positive way brings a sense of purpose and happiness.

Know your customer. Elves have a customer intelligence gathering system that allows them to get up close with customers—literally. They get to see people in shopping centers all over the world and ask them what they want. Elves listen and they build intelligence on the customer. These insights are rewarding in allowing them to be targeted in their work. And by meeting the customer needs, they have happy customers who will refer their work to others.

Create a sense of security. Elves feel totally needed and secure in their employment. Santa simply can’t serve the entire world on his own. It takes a spirit of teamwork between the elves, reindeer and the entire North Pole operations team. Elves have lots of customer orders and they know they will never run out of work. Job security and teamwork are desirable conditions to create happy employees.

Live the mission and vision. Elves have clear direction. They must meet the goal of delivering presents on Christmas Eve. They must do whatever it takes to make that delivery happen. And they have a vision: to create joy for boys and girls around the world. It’s an aspiration that keeps the elf team motivated and focused, and when they hit their goals, the impact is highly rewarding. Elves know they make a difference to millions of lives.

Have an open-door policy. One key principle at the North Pole is that jolly old elf, Santa. He creates an atmosphere of laughter and trust, yet he motivates and delegates across the elf teams. He doesn’t play favorites because every elf matters to get the work done, and every elf’s ideas are seriously considered. Santa creates an environment in which he’s approachable by all elves, no matter their roles.

Tap into these elf-friendly tips to create a happy and productive workplace for your team in 2018.

Source: Susan Heathfield is a human resources expert. She is a management and organization development consultant who specializes in human resources issues and in management development to create forward-thinking workplaces. She is also a professional facilitator, speaker, trainer and writer.

Four Ways To Combat Lukewarm Leadership

In the backdrop of uncertainty, a mere spark of ambiguity or apathy by leadership can ignite the pervading fuel of resistance among the masses. Today, we will share four ways to combat lukewarm leadership from business coach and author Brian Braudis.

1. Set the tone: Begin with the energy and gusto you want to see in others. What you do as a leader has tremendous influence on those throughout your team and even your stakeholders. People respond to what you initiate. Demonstrate how much you are willing to give and show that you are duty-bound early and often. Make your messages steadfast. When people see and feel your energy, enthusiasm and promise they will not only buy in, they will help spread your all-in message.

2. Communicate: Communication is a standard by which leaders guide, direct, motivate and inspire action. Clear, confident, resonant communication will engender trust and gain followers. Here’s how:

  • Get specific: Simple and concise is more effective than complicated and confusing. Hit the high points in your speeches and save the granular details for in-person communications.
  • Get face to face: Aim for dialog rather than monologue. Employees and team members know the demands on leaders and managers. They know the value of authentic live contact and informal dialog where they can see and feel that their message is being received.
  • Demonstrate beyond words: What you do supersedes what you say. The proven formula for personal communication is 55 percent body language, 38 percent tone and seven percent communication through words. Body language and tone will validate everything that you say. Sending protocol out in a memo is not nearly as effective as walking around and informally sharing your thoughts and expressing yourself on the need for procedures.

3. Be the Island of commitment in a sea of uncertainty: Increased global influence, more demanding customers and disruptive new players are challenges to be surmounted. But to your team members the new economy means uncertainty. Uncertainty leads to anxiety that makes people susceptible to stress, and being less productive and more vulnerable to conflict. During times of upheaval we need leaders who

are anchored in commitment. They bring a calming presence and a higher perspective to the context of uncertainty. There will always be some degree of uncertainty. But when leaders show resolute certainty in their commitment, team members take note and follow suit.

4. Show consistent enthusiasm: Leaders who show enthusiasm remove any hint of being lukewarm. People can visibly see and feel your passion, energy and commitment and they buy in. Your team wants to win and they want you to be successful. No one tries to be second best. Show consistent enthusiasm and your team reciprocate with buy in and enthusiasm of their own.

When savvy followers see and feel your energy, commitment and enthusiasm shining through the daily challenges and frustrations, there’s nothing lukewarm about that.

Source: Brian Braudis is a highly sought-after human potential expert, certified coach, speaker and author of High Impact Leadership: 10 Action Strategies for Your Ascent. He has also authored several audio programs from executive leadership development to stress management. Braudis believes “leadership” is a verb not a title. His passionate and inspiring presentations are based on the foundation that regardless of your position or role everyone is a leader.  Image courtesy of google image search.

Five Essential Principles For Growing Your Small Business

When it comes to succeeding in growing a small business, many people view success as luck. Some will succeed and some won’t. And it’s stories like John Mackey’s that inspire us to try. Mackey started a small vegetarian store in Austin, Texas, more than 30 years ago and this year sold his Whole Foods empireto Amazon at a price tag of $13.7 billon.

Business author Faisal Hoque points out in his recent Fast Company article that luck isn’t what it takes. Small business success comes from five essential elements, which we’ll share here.

1. Timing is Everything. The timing of your product or service must be right in the marketplace. There must be a need or a pain point that your product or service solves in order to gain interest and traction. If the market isn’t ready, then your business will fail or you will need to wait to launch your product or adjust your product to the market needs. As Hoque points out, smaller businesses have the advantage of being able to make choices and implement changes without the exhaustive process and conflicting points of view that slow down major corporations.

2. Brand, Brand, Brand. You need to create a positive experience for your customers to stay competitive. And, if you want to create a scalable business, you must understand just how crucial it is to build brand equity. The emotional attachment that links customers to your product, as opposed to any other, translates into sustainable growth. Hoque shares these basic rules for brand-building:

Choose your target audience. The surest road to product failure is to try to be all things to all people.

Connect with the public. Your objective is to make your audience feel an emotional attachment to your brand.

Inspire and influence your audience. An inspirational brand message is far more influential than one that just highlights product feature functions.

Reinforce the brand image within your company. Make sure employees at every level of your organization work and behave in a way that reinforces your brand image.

3. Scale Your Sales. You also need repeatable sales processes to create a business that can easily grow. It is one thing to sign up a few customers; it is another thing entirely to identify, design and implement repeatable sales and customer delivery processes. According to Hoque, you know your business is scalable when:

You can add new hires at the same productivity level as yourself or your sales leader.

You can increase the sources of your customer leads on a consistent basis.

Your sales conversion rate and revenue can be consistently forecasted.

Your cost to acquire a new customer is significantly less than the amount you can earn from that customer over time.

Your customers get the right product in the right place at the right time.

4. Embrace Technology. Bottom line, it pays to embrace technology. If a small business can identify a genuine need, technology likely exists to fulfill that need both locally and globally. There are few barriers to entry in an age where anyone with wireless can cheaply and quickly access the enabling technologies needed to execute their business model. Put effort into mapping out a plan that ties technology into your operational and business needs.

5. De-Stress For Success. As Hoque points out, managing the success of a small business can be twice as stressful as maintaining a healthy relationship with a spouse or partner, nearly three times as stressful as raising children, and more than four times as stressful as managing your own personal finances. In fact, a Bank of America survey pointed out that 38 percent of small business owners maintain full or part-time jobs while running their own business.

If you’re not happy, healthy and motivated, growing your business will be difficult. You also set the tone for everyone who works with you. So, take care of your mental and physical well-being so that you can provide the best of you to the business.

PCT returns tomorrow with more tips for success.

Source: Faisal Hoque is founder of SHADOKA and other companies. His newest book is “Survive to Thrive — 27 Practices of Resilient Entrepreneurs, Innovators, And Leaders” (Motivational Press, 2015). He is formerly of GE, and other global brands, business author and contributor to Fast CompanyBusiness Insider and the Huffington Post.

Bet On Pets

Roughly 65 percent of households in the U.S. own at least one pet, which equates to more than 81 million homes. The American Pet Products Association is projecting over $69 billion in pet industry expenditures in 2017, with an average annual growth rate over the last 15 years of 5.4 percent. With these strong spending predictions and ample opportunities for innovation, there’s a huge market for products that cater to pet owners.

It is not a coincidence that the demand for pet specialty products is increasing as the Baby Boomer generation reaches retirement. Many of the Boomer households are “empty nests,” and with their children gone, they are lavishing attention on their pets. Pet spending reaches its peak (at ages 55-64) as consumers focus on their “fur babies,” according to John Gibbons at petbusinessprofessor.com.

Even better news for the industry is that Millennials are embracing the trend. This generation was raised treating their pets as part of the family, so it is natural for them to splurge on luxury pet goods too. Many products and services that would have seemed extravagant to prior generations—doggie day cares, organic foods, high-end grooming services, expensive medical treatments and apparel—are now the norm. And as Millennials earn more disposable income, expect to see them spending more of it on their pets.

As the market for niche products and high-end services for pets expands, so do the opportunities to reach this audience through promotional products. “We’ve been successful selling to veterinarian offices, groomers, pet day care centers and dog treat companies,” says Charles Huang, vice president of sales and marketing for supplier Minya International Corporation (PPAI 112523). “There are also many channels and baking shows on YouTube that specialize in animal treats—and they sell merchandise to their followers. In addition, we’ve worked with animal shelters, rescue groups and breeder organizations for fundraisers.”

Humanization, the modern impulse to treat animals like people, drives the universal appeal of pet-themed products. Even among people who don’t own pets, who can resist heart-melting images of puppies and kittens? “Our ‘Best Friends’ calendars are appropriate for nearly any business serving consumers because pets are such a big part of family life now,” says Jerome Hoxton, president of Tru Art Advertising Calendars (PPAI 113720). “The primary buyers are veterinarians and veterinarian clinics, but other frequent buyer categories are banks, hardware retailers, dentists, tire service retailers, feed stores and auto dealers.”

With research pointing to increased health benefits associated with pet ownership, more and more consumers are following the craze. The U.S. Public Health Service touts pet ownership as beneficial to obesity prevention and helpful for those who are trying to quit smoking. In addition, the Human Animal Bond Research Initiative Foundation states, “People are happier and healthier in the presence of animals. Scientifically documented benefits … include decreased blood pressure, reduced anxiety and enhanced feelings of well being.”

———-

Pet Trends to Watch

Natural products
toxin-free materials and organic food

Premium services
spa treatments, mobile grooming, portrait photography, pet sitting

Superior health care
including health insurance

Travel Accessories
so that Spot isn’t left at home

Tech
wearable health trackers, monitors and interactive devices

———-

Have Pet, Will Travel

While on the go, pet owners are increasingly reluctant to put their animals in kennels. Numerous travel and hospitality organizations have responded, with airlines expanding their policies allowing pets on board, and many hotels and restaurants shifting to a more pet-friendly model.

Nowhere is this more apparent than at New York’s JFK Airport, where The ARK, the world’s first animal airport terminal, recently opened. The state-of-the-art center offers veterinary care, microchipping, and custom reports on individual animals. When complete, the terminal will unveil a Paradise 4 Paws pet resort that includes a bone-shaped dog pool and a jungle gym for cats. Although the terminal has only rolled out stage one of three so far, The ARK has raised the bar for travelers expecting quality care for their pets.

Even for less glamorous types of travel, including biking, going for a run or simply running errands, enthusiasm for mobile pet products is high and expected to rise.

For individual products and case studies, please visit our flipbook.

Terry Ramsay is associate editor of PPB.

Five Smarter Ways To Manage Others

Today, many employers say they’re having trouble retaining their younger employees—specifically, Millennials. At 82 million strong, Millennials are the workforce of the future. Studies have shown they want to work where they can make a difference and contribute to something bigger than themselves.

It’s imperative to realize that the people in your organization—especially young people—are the fuel to your long-term success, and the one person who affects that outcome more than any other is the frontline manager.

Today,we’re sharing five defined pillars of success for managers from business coach Jan Makala.

1. Engage employees with a compelling vision of what is expected, and provide the mission to achieve that vision. People respond when they are doing or contributing to something bigger than themselves. When national crises such as earthquakes or hurricanes occur, people are driven to volunteer not because they have to, but because they want to. As a manager, you need to create and share the vision and the culture that gives employees a reason to care, to show up and to do their jobs with a sense of purpose and excellence. Let them know that without them doing what they do, you wouldn’t achieve the results that you desire.

2. Make decisions based on productivity. By keeping your eye on the goal and having your people similarly focused, everyone will understand why certain decisions are made and can buy in. If disagreements occur, these discussions and opinions are welcomed because they are relevant to achieving a better outcome toward the end objective.

3. Motivate every team member to take action. People are more likely to take action if they know what is expected of them. When expectations are clearly defined, employees are less likely to disappoint their manager or their peers. Employees will work together without your direction or approval when they all know their roles and have bought into achieving the desired results. If your people don’t know what is expected, don’t be surprised by what you get

4. Have the assertiveness to drive outcomes. Are you more concerned with the process or the outcome? Managers are in place to strive for positive results. Employees may find ways to produce an outcome that the manager never thought of. Give employees the freedom to experiment and try new ways of doing things. Keep your team apprised of progress to keep them motivated If you neglect to provide appropriate feedback on your employees’ progress, you’ll immediate notice a decline in the contributions of team members. Remember, feedback is the breakfast of champions—be generous with your thoughts and expectations.

5. Create a culture that you want. Culture impacts every aspect of how you get things done, from hiring and developing the talents of the employees to customer service. Define your desired culture and then take it from words to actions. If you don’t like the culture you currently have or the results that you are currently obtaining, you are the only person who can change it. Your actions have to mirror what you desire. Do you allow negative behavior to go unchallenged? Realize negative behavior brings everyone down. Your employees are watching, and if they see you doing nothing, your lack of action will send a powerful message.

When employees believe that their manager truly cares about them as individuals, they will walk through fire for that manager. This connection gets to the heart of employee engagement.

Create an environment where people want to come to work, and your business will reap the rewards.

Source: Jan Makela is an executive coach, highly-sought after speaker, and best-selling author of Cracking the Code to Success and Be the Manager People Won’t Leave. Makela has a long and successful history of working with companies to ensure quality hiring and training practices. His specialty revolves around strength-based leadership development, with a particular focus on working with senior and mid-level executives, business owners and professionals.

Tapping The Power Of Outside Experts

We are not all expert communicators, especially when it comes to business. At times, we have to bring in the outside experts—copywriters and marketing or branding consultants. In preparing to work with them, it’s important to provide context and preparation. This will help these professionals to provide the right message to the right audience, and save time and money in having to develop multiple drafts.

Try these tips from Elena Langdon to help you tap into some extra power.

Know thy contractors. Before selecting an outside communications consultant, ask about expertise in your specific setting or field, not just years of experience. For example, if you hire a copywriter for a newsletter or website, look at her portfolio to see if she’s worked in your line of business before. Working directly with the contractor makes this easier, but if you are getting proposals through an agency, many will also provide information on the individual’s credentials and past work.

Explain your audience. Clue the contractor in about whom they’ll be working with. For example, if you’re looking for a consultant to deliver a workshop on employee engagement, let them know what your corporate structure looks like. Names and roles are especially helpful, as are division, unit and project names. This will help make the workshop relevant and personalized, even though an outsider is presenting it.

State your purpose. Your team and your counterparts across the table might know why you are discussing a contract, but an external expert brought in for the day won’t. What are the team’s goals? Are the

stakes high and the situation tense? Think of communication experts as extensions of your team and brief them accordingly. If they know your objectives, they can better understand you and transmit your message accurately.

Get it in writing. Perhaps this is obvious, but make sure you draw up a contract when working with an external contractor. Some important sections to include are confidentiality, deliverables and duration of work. Consider licenses, certification and insurance, too, if there is any risk involved in the work being supplied.

Provide context. Clear communication depends on contextual knowledge, so provide as much background information as possible. Let’s say you need an interpreter to help you sort out an HR problem with an employee who is more comfortable in another language. Inform the interpreter about any previous meetings, the main issues to be discussed, the type of work the employee does and anything else you think is relevant.

Explain specific jargon and acronyms. Your internal jargon or acronyms might be second nature to you at this point, but they probably sound like alphabet soup to an outsider. A short list or glossary can be helpful so that time isn’t wasted trying to decipher “the BPO merger” or the “quarterly up-queue.”

Consider your space. If you will be working with someone who will need to speak to your employees or visitors, let them know w

hat the physical space looks like. Will you be sitting, standing or touring a facility? How many people need to hear the external contractor? Will you play a video or will participants join via Skype or speakerphone? Knowing this information will allow the external expert to better prepare for the situation or even suggest things you haven’t thought about.

Make the most of their time. Whether it’s an hourly rate or a monthly quota of deliverables, you are paying for the contractor’s time. Think of ways to shorten meetings, including agenda items and committee work that does not involve the contractor. The more focused you are while the external consultant is on the clock, the better.

Send files ahead of time. Always send any documentation that will be discussed a few days in advance. Agendas, contracts, previous meeting minutes, presentation slides—anything that provides context and terminology will greatly enhance communication and save time during the actual meeting or event.

Source: Elena Langdon is a certified Portuguese-to-English translator and interpreter, and an active member of the American Translators Association. The American Translators Association represents more than 10,000 translators and interpreters across 91 countries. Along with advancing the translation and interpreting professions, ATA promotes the education and development of language services providers and consumers alike.

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