How to Give and Receive Feedback

How to Give and Receive Feedback

“Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” – Ken Blanchard, author and consultant

Knowing how to give and receive feedback not only helps you create a more positive and productive work environment for your team, this critically important leadership skill also helps build strong relationships with customers.

While it may seem easier to give than receive feedback, both require skill and practice. In both situations, tone, facial expression, and body language significantly influence communication of feedback. You want to be just as gracious giving as receiving feedback.

Let’s take a closer look at how you can improve feedback experiences for you, your employees and your customers.

Create a work environment where feedback is welcome

As the leader, demonstrate your openness to feedback by asking team members for their opinions on your ideas and what you are doing. Communicate to employees that it’s acceptable to give feedback appropriately, and provide training if needed.

Listen with 100% attention

When receiving feedback, demonstrate your appreciation by paying full attention to the conversation. Be sure to avoid interrupting or defending yourself. You don’t have to commit to making the suggested change, but you can commit to listening.

Speak with respect

Whether you’re on the giving or receiving end of feedback, remember that the intent of giving feedback is positive change.

Be responsive

If you say you’ll consider the input, follow up by communicating your decision, whether or not you agree. When you’ll do it, be sure you do.

Create opportunities for employees and customers to provide feedback

Recognize that others may feel reluctant or hesitate to speak up. Create an online form, a suggestion box or schedule an employee one-on-one, or a customer follow-up may create just the opening they need to tell you how you can improve what you do.

Don’t make it personal or take it personally

When giving feedback, focus on the specific result of the situation. Don’t assume you know the intent or who is responsible. Make your comments relevant by being timely. It’s not constructive to bring up something that occurred months ago – the recipient will wonder why you didn’t mention it earlier and give them the opportunity to modify their behavior.

As a business owner, it’s hard to separate your business from yourself, but the feedback you receive is about the work, not you. Getting defensive, trying to justify why you did what you did, and blaming others all demonstrate that you’re unwilling to accept feedback.

Remember, feedback is a gift that leads to the continual improvement of your business. As with all gifts, thank the giver.

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

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Setting a Good Example

Setting a Good Example

“Leadership is action, not position.” – Donald H. McGannon
As a leader, it’s not enough to give employees guidelines that dictate workplace practices. You influence the people who work for you through your words and actions, and they will model their behavior on yours.
Here are seven ways to reinforce the mindset and behaviors you want to see in your employees.
1) Stick to the rules
If you want your team to comply with workplace rules, follow them yourself.
2) Encourage innovation
Your employees can be a great source for new ideas, but they have to feel confident they have permission to explore and experiment. Let them know if they want to try something, it’s okay if it doesn’t work out – you can still learn from failures.
3) Avoid being a perfectionist
Inspire excellence but don’t expect perfection. Be realistic and fair in setting standards to achieve.
4) Define expectations
Write everything down. Don’t expect others to know how to handle situations if you haven’t defined a process. Have regular touch bases to reinforce values and culture so they are always top of mind.
5) Respect working hours
Except in emergencies, avoid sending emails and leaving voice messages for your team during their off-hours. They may feel that if they don’t respond immediately, they look less than 100% dedicated. They deserve their time off, so give it to them.
6) Keep commitments
If you promised to do something, do it. If circumstances have made it difficult or impossible to keep your promise, explain why and explore other solutions.
7) Avoid displaying negativity
Your positivity sets the tone for your team. If employees have to “block out” your pessimism to feel good at what they’re doing, they will be distracted and less productive.
When you lead by example, you inspire loyalty, confidence and pride in your team. They’ll go above and beyond for you, and feel committed to your business.

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

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Celebrating Labor Day

Celebrating Labor Day

In celebration of Labor Day, I hope you take time off to relax and refuel.

Congratulate your team and yourself on all you have accomplished this past year and come back from the long weekend ready to achieve great things.

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

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Look for Opportunities to Grow Your Business

Look for Opportunities to Grow Your Business

“Don’t wait for the right opportunity: create it.” ― George Bernard Shaw, writer

If you can identify something customers need but don’t have, you’re on the path to growing your business. There’s no need to create a brand-new market – it’s often enough to improve an existing product or service and then market it better than the competition.

Take these four steps to explore opportunities to fulfill unmet needs.

1. Create a customer journey map

List the steps your typical customers take from discovering they have a problem or need to achieving a positive resolution. It’s important to list the steps from the customer’s perspective, to reveal what they go through to arrive at a solution.

2. Identify pain points

Next circle the pain points on your list. These are the steps that are messy, time consuming or challenging from the customer’s perspective.

3. Brainstorm solutions

Now for each pain point you identified, consider how you might reduce the pain for the customer. Think big and small – you might have an entire new way of doing things, or discover that providing a simple reminder on a timely basis is all it takes to improve the customer’s experience.\

4. Validate your thinking

Once you have one or more ideas to improve the customer journey, do some research to see if anyone else is already using similar ideas, whether there is a sufficient market for your idea and what customers think of your idea. Use the internet to search for services or products related to your idea. Look at your customer data to see if you can determine how big a potential market there might be for your idea. Lastly, consider reaching out to a few valued customers and asking if they would spend 10 minutes chatting with you about a potential new offering.

If you’re lucky, you may discover new customer needs without conducting your own research and exploration. Listen to what your customers say when they interact with you – their comments may spark an idea for a new service or product you can offer.

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

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Revitalize Your Social Media Marketing Productivity

Revitalize Your Social Media Marketing Productivity

“You can’t tiptoe into social media. You have to jump into the pool. People have a natural fear of it. But the scary part is not being there. Your customer is already there.” – Dave Saunders, Founder, Madison Main.

Whether you’re new to using social media content to promote your business or you’ve been engaging customers online for years, finding ways to be more efficient will give you a boost. Analyzing the work that goes into your social media marketing – and the results – will uncover opportunities for improving your marketing efforts.

Tweak your workflow

Define your commitment to social media marketing

If you have business social media accounts and aren’t using them on a consistent basis, decide what you want to do and how much time you’re willing to spend on setting up a system that works for you.

List what’s working and what’s not

Looking at your social media accounts from both your perspective and the audience to determine what’s working and what’s not.

Explore your pain points

Get a clear understanding of the issues behind what is not working: is it lack of time, lack of writing and graphics skill, or lack of a strategic plan.

Get familiar with your options

If you only know Facebook business pages, it’s time to explore the rest of the exciting and ever-evolving social media landscape. Check out Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok. Look up other businesses and see what they’re posting.

Choose the right platform to reach your audience

Even if you think you know what is the right social media platform to reach your audience, it’s worth monitoring what you’re doing now and looking at the analytics supplied by each platform to see where you get the most traction. If you’re strapped for time and dollars, focus only on creating content for the platform that works best for you.

Fortunately, this doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself to one social media platform. Some platforms have built-in tools to allow you to post across more than one platform simultaneously. For example, you can opt-in to automated cross-platform posting to link your Facebook account to your Instagram account in settings.

Below I’ll introduce you to a tool that will allow you to schedule posts across several platforms from one dashboard.

Always include quality images or video content

Images serve two purposes: they provide visual validation of what you are saying and they capture attention in the never-ending flow of social media posts on your audience’s social media feeds. Keep in mind an image doesn’t have to be a photograph. A graph is a great way to share compelling data to back up your pitch.

If you’re showcasing your product or services, you want them to display them in the best light. Consider hiring a professional to give you a basic library of images or video. Then, decide if your own photos and video meet a basic quality level for your other posts. If they don’t, explore stock photo options. Free stock photos are somewhat limited, but their selection may work for you. Two that I use often are Pexels and Pixabay. A popular paid stock photo vendor is iStock.

Send relevant, stategically timed messages that resonate with your audience

Get the most out of your posts by ensuring they are timed to leverage holidays and seasons. Because the thinking on the best time to posts varies greatly and so many factors determine what is an ideal time to post, experiment with posts on weekdays vs weekends; Mondays and Fridays vs Tuesdays and Thursdays; early morning, noon, late afternoon or evening.

Frequency of posts

To build awareness of your social media presence, post frequently and regularly. Two to three times a week ensures you’ll get noticed, but for some businesses it’s appropriate to post daily updates. If your posts only appear once every two weeks or so, they may get lost.

Appealing design

If you lack computer graphics skills, hire a graphic designer to set you up with templates and elements. For example, a designer can create your logo in several sizes and of transparent and solid backgrounds; design a custom image frame that incorporates your logo and website address; and spruce up the profile image for your social media accounts.

If you want to do it yourself, the free tool Canva enables you to create colorful, visually exciting and interesting images that draw attention on social media feeds.

Coherent, error-free writing

Use spell-check and read everything twice before posting.

Use Google Alerts for inspiration

Use Google Alerts to get news related to your business. You’ll pick some keywords that are relevant to your marketing messages and Google will send you news articles with that word. These articles can inspire ideas for your posts.

Social Media Management Tools

A number of companies offer social media dashboard platforms that allow you to link all your social accounts to a single dashboard. These dashboards make it easy to copy and paste your message to multiple accounts. An added benefit is you can schedule your messages in advance.

All-in-one Integrated Marketing Systems

Platforms like Mailchimp and Constant Contact allow you to consolidate your email marketing and your social media posts. You’ll save time by creating the contact on one platform and multi-purposing messages across your email and social media channels.

Start with small steps

Many factors contribute to a successful social media marketing program. You don’t have to change everything at once – in fact, testing one major change at a time allows you to analyze the impact of each change. The satisfaction you’ll feel with each step you achieve will motivate you to keep tweaking your plan.

Connect with me if you’d like to discuss how you can revamp your social media marketing plan to be more productive and effective.

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

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5 Marketing Tactics to Try Now

5 Marketing Tactics to Try Now

There’s a misconception that marketing your business costs a lot of money. Not all marketing is as expensive as advertising in Times Square. In fact, there are more affordable marketing strategies now than ever before that will help you gain more customers, increase brand awareness and reinforce your reputation in the marketplace. And used well, these tactics may actually be more effective at helping you stand out from the crowded marketplace than a traditional ad.

I’ve shared social media marketing tips with you in previous posts, so today I want to recommend other types of proven tactics that you may not have tried yet. Test them out and see what works for your business.

1) Public speaking

Community events, chambers, libraries and networking groups all look for guest speakers for their events. Schedule as many talks as you can fit into your schedule to establish your reputation as the go-to expert in your field. These opportunities enable you to demonstrate your knowledge, show passion for your work and pitch your business to new audiences.

2) Complimentary samples

Whether it’s a bite-size treat, a phone consultation (for example, see my offer at the end of this message) or a gift with purchase, there’s no more convincing pitch than giving consumers a no-cost experience of what you offer! Explore options beyond sampling at your place of business; for example, you can offer samples – whether it’s food or advice – at community event booth.

3) Birthday messages

Sending your most loyal customers best wishes on their birthdays is a thoughtful, unexpected gesture that helps reinforce your business relationship. Sweeten the message with a discount or gift. If you’re a retail location, use the birthday message to attract customers into the store where they not only claim their gift, but also see what else you offer.

4) Partnerships

Grow your customer base by joining forces with a business or organization that’s in a related or adjacent category. From writing a blogpost or email campaign together to hosting a live virtual or in-person information event or offering a special discount, you and your partner will both benefit from putting your names in front of new audiences. This tactic can work just as well with a local business as it does with a nonprofit organization: think creatively about ways to build support for the organization that drive traffic to your business. A good example is local restaurants and grocery stores that donate a percent of a day’s sales to a non-profit organization. The organization prompts their supporters to visit your business, so you get more sales and the organization gets a larger donation.

5) Apply for Recognition and Community Service Awards

Community publications and organizations sponsor annual local business awards to shine the light on businesses that contribute in various ways. Explore what category might be a good fit for your business and find out what it takes to become a nominee.

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

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Working Successfully with Family Members

Working Successfully with Family Members

“You think politics are tough? Go work for your mom or dad.” – Gary Vaynerchuk, entrepreneur, public speaker and author

Working with family is both rewarding and challenging, and it’s just as important to value and nourish what makes the relationships work as it to resolve issues when they don’t.

Sometimes working with family members is a choice but, in some situations, it’s a necessity. When a family member starts a new business, it may be all hands on deck until the business can support hiring all the necessary part and/or full-time positions.

More often than not, small business owners feel more comfortable working with family members. The relationships have been in place for a long time and the individuals are deeply familiar with each other. They can communicate in shorthand know they’ll be understood.

There is also a perception, not always true, that family members are more likely to be dedicated to the long-term success of the business than outsiders. In addition, family members they can trust one another with information that they are unwilling to share with outside employees.

4 Tips for Working with Family

Good fences makes good neighbors – and good family work relationships

Keep boundaries in place between family issues and work issues.

Put it in writing

Document all aspects of the family members’ roles with the business to prevent misunderstanding and avoid conflicts.

Don’t sacrifice family to the business

Non-working time together reinforces family bonds and contributes to strong working relationships, so it’s important to preserve a balance between working and playing as a family.

Be Fair

If a family member is one among several employees, treat family members the same way you treat other employees. Don’t expect more – or less – from your relatives.

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

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10 Ways to Demonstrate Employee Appreciation

10 Ways to Demonstrate Employee Appreciation

Employee appreciation is a growing trend in the workplace. It’s always a good practice to say thanks to your employees who go an extra mile for your business, but when you elevate your expression of gratitude into something extra – a token of appreciation, a public recognition, a gift or a benefit, you make a bigger impact and contribute to building a stronger relationship.
Benefits of a meaningful employee appreciation program include retention and job satisfaction. One study showed that 63 percent of employees who are “always” or “usually” recognized said that they are “very unlikely” to job hunt in the next three to six months. In contrast, only 11 percent of those who are “never” or “rarely” recognized would agree. As the competition for employees continues to be a challenge for many small business owners, this is a good time to review and update your employee appreciation practices.
10 ways to demonstrate appreciation to your employees
  • Write a personal, hand-written note
  • Start an internal meeting with a statement of gratitude and individual recognition
  • Present an award
  • Establish an employee of the month recognition program
  • Create a wall of fame in workplace
  • Give a personalized gift that aligns with employee’s interests
  • Give team swag – your company-branded promotional item
  • Offer a special perk like use a reserved parking spot or choose a delivered lunch for all staff “on the house”
  • Give a gift card or gift certificate
  • Offer paid time off such as late arrival or early departure day

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

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Do You Have a Job or a Business?

Do You Have a Job or a Business?

Planning. Training and development. Sales. Office support. Marketing. Customer service and support. Bookkeeping.

Small business owners, especially when they are just starting out, try to do all the jobs themselves. It’s not easy to let go, delegate and trust someone else to do what we ourselves know how to do so well, and we hesitate to take on the expense of hiring and outsourcing.

But to be successful, small business owners need to protect their time so they can grow and evolve the business. We need employees and partners. If we get stuck spending all our time working IN our business, we won’t have time to work ON our business.

Working IN vs working ON your business

When you are super busy, it’s easy to lose sight of how you are spending your day. So, the first step is identifying the tasks you are performing and sort them into two groups, working in and working on. Here are some examples of each category, but you may have others that correspond to your business.

Working IN

  • Making, doing and fixing stuff for the office, shop or retail environment
  • Activities related to posting jobs, screening candidates and related hiring activities
  • Administrative tasks
  • Answering calls and emails information requests
  • Scheduling meetings
  • Invoicing

Working ON

  • Leadership development
  • Strategic planning
  • Goal setting
  • Building strategic partnerships
  • Automating processes and setting up systems
  • Networking

Finding the right solution

Allocating your time at work is a balancing act. You’ll need to consider many factors – like your budget and your strengths – against your overall business plan and put together a competent and dedicated team to support you. At this point you may be thinking, Whoa, this sounds really time consuming. where am I’m going to find the time to come up with the right solution?

This is where working with a business coach who brings objectivity and years of experience working with entrepreneurs can really help you find the right solutions for your needs. For example, you might think a specific task is something you personally must handle, but a coach has an outside perspective and can help you see how you might delegate it.

Another advantage is a coach works with many businesses like yours and already knows the nuts and bolts of running a business, setting up systems and using business planning and management tools. Most importantly, meeting with a business coach will force you to set aside time to focus on your goals and the roadmap to achieving them.

Whether you have a start-up or an established business, I can help shift your focus to working ON your business, not IN it, so you have more time to do the things you need to do to grow your business.

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

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Marketing Your Small Business on a Budget

Marketing Your Small Business on a Budget

“Even when you are marketing to your entire audience or customer base, you are still simply
speaking to a single human at any given time.”
– Ann Handley, marketing consultant
Is a limited budget preventing you from marketing your business? It doesn’t have to!
Investing your time, rather than dollars, in social media allows you to deliver a steady stream of effective marketing messages. If you’re new to social media, the sheer number of platforms may seem overwhelming. Here’s a high-level guide to using online marketing.
10 ways to market your business without breaking the bank
Social media allows you to speak directly to your audiences, but it’s important to remember it’s a conversation, whatever platform you choose to use. As you begin to post content, remember to respond to messages from your audience.
(1) Facebook profiles and groups You can use your personal profile, a professional profile and a business profile to reach a cross-section of audiences. A Facebook group allows you to talk directly to your customers and provide valuable, timely information about your products, services, sales and events.
(2) LinkedIN profiles Create a personal profile and a company page for your business. Write posts to share your expertise and build awareness of your career and business success stories. Groups allow you to share information with others who share your interests.
(3) YouTube videos Create videos that showcase what you offer and tell the story of the unique value your business provides. Also provide your users with how-to information that will help them use your products or services effectively.
(4) Instagram posts/stories Share visual content about your products, retail or shop environment, customer interactions.
(5) TikTok Depending on your market and the nature of your products or services, this avenue can be a great channel to build awareness of your business
(6) Email campaigns/blogs Your website blog can be a publishing platform where you have consistent, frequent messages about your business to reach people who check out your website. Sending messages to your email list is more targeted and direct – you reach people who have opted in to hear more about what you do.
(7) E-I-E-I-O I use this acronym to describe types of content that work for marketing your business. Write messages that educate, inform, entertain, inspire, and open a conversation.
(8) How to interact Social media isn’t a billboard! It’s a two-way conversation, and the less your social media presence feels automated, the more engaging it is. You can join in the conversation with other users by liking their posts or replying. When your customers express appreciation for your business, be sure to thank them.
(9) Potential barriers If you don’t know how to use a social media platform, just Google it! You’ll find many how-to videos on the internet.
Another way to learn is to observe how others are using social media, and adapt their technique to your business.
Shyness about being in the spotlight or appearing “on camera” can also hold back some people from leveraging social media marketing. If you haven’t done it before, just try it several times. With practice, you’ll be more comfortable. You don’t have to look or sound like professional on-camera talent – it’s your authenticity that gives you credibility.
Another obstacle is figuring out what to say. An editorial calendar with a rotation of types of messages can help you plan ahead of time and not feel pressured to come up with something every time you want to publish a message.
(10) Mindset shift If engaging with audiences has seemed like one of the chores you just never get around to, commit to getting started now and just have fun with it! Good luck!

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

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