Become a Member

Organizational Skills for Leaders

Have you ever gone through your work day putting out the proverbial “fires” only to wonder at closing hour what you accomplished? For many business leaders this lack of focus and sense of always being “behind” could be due to the nature of your industry, or it could have something to do with your organizational skills. Let’s take a look at organizational skills for leaders and see where you fit in or if you need to up your game.

According to LeadershipGeeks Online, “Organization skills are about knowing what you want, and then prioritizing your activities and planning your time around activities that will help you achieve those goals.” Do you have set goals in your office or a mission that drives you or are you constantly multitasking and juggling items? One of the steps to becoming an organized leader is to have a set of goals that are prioritized. Great leaders know what is most important and know how to get to that end goal. 

In addition to having a goal oriented workplace, organization means having a workspace that makes sense. If your desk and office in general looks like a tornado recently rolled through then you have some work to do. Start by developing a system that works for everyone in the office. For example, if there is paperwork that needs to be disseminated then find a common area or a method to do so. When everyone in the office knows how things are done then things tend to work better and more efficiently, instead of taking a half hour to find a file, now you have it handy.

Most professionals who are organized use tools to keep them that way. For example, there are dozens of apps and software out there to keep you organized from a detailed calendar that can be shared with employees to customer relations management tools to keep track of client information and expenses. Figure out what tools may work best for you by using a few for the trial period before making up your mind. Organization can be simple with the right mission, a clean workspace and tools to help you.

Communication: Best Business Practices

Communication is the life of any company whether it is communicating with employees or clients. Business leaders are expected to be able to effectively and clearly communicate with stakeholders, customers and employees. While many business leaders have found their own unique skill of communicating through years of practice, there are some common strategies that they all seem to master. Let’s take a look at the best practices of communicating skills. 

  • Be Clear – If an employee leaves a staff meeting not quite sure what you mean then you are not being clear enough in your speech. When speaking and giving directives to employees give clear and precise points. Many successful business leaders find that being repetitive about goals, work habits, and projects can help employees understand what they need to accomplish.
  • Be Approachable – As a business leader, you want clients, employees and business partners to feel that they can come to you for clarification about an issue without feeling like they are in trouble or bothering you. Be open and understand that clarification can only mean that they are trying to give you what you are asking for.
  • Use Many Communication Formats – While it may seem that everyone is on technology these days, communication should come in all different forms from: emails, inter-office communication, newsletters, phone calls and in-person visits. Different personalities respond better to varying forms of communication.
  • Be Present and Timely – When clients, employees or others need to talk with you, be present with them instead of trying to juggle multiple activities at once. In addition to being present, respond in a timely to questions or issues whether it is via email or in person.
  • Listen and Ask – One of the most important parts of communicating is not talking, but rather listening and asking questions to find out the heart of the matter.

Common Mistakes of Social Media

Social media is fast becoming a cost effective marketing tool that can help increase traffic to your website, give your company brand exposure and convert viewers into consumers. So if you are jumping on the social media bandwagon and don’t quite know what to do, here are a few tips of mistakes to avoid as you navigate the social media world.

  • Failure to Make a Plan – Don’t just start tweeting, posting and pinning without having a plan. Knowing which social media platform is the best for your demographic is a good place to start. In addition your company should plan when and what to post. This may involve doing some serious research about who your target audience is as well what they will find valuable on social media.
  • Failure to Interact – Many companies post on social media without interacting with followers or fans. Don’t miss this opportunity to respond and speak with your audience. Interactions can build valuable relationships so don’t miss out!
  • Posting to No One –  While it is great to have posts scheduled and visible on your page or wall, it is more important to grow your followers. If you are posting with no fans, then you are wasting your time and money.
  • Having Incorrect Info on your Page – Have you updated your company profile lately?  Chances are something has changed on the contact information that could cost you customers.
  • Irregular Postings – Fans and followers tend to be creatures of habit. if they can anticipate when you will post whether it is weekly or daily then they are more likely to check in with your page. Postings should also include content that your readers will find meaningful, useful and valuable.

Email Marketing 101

Email may seem a bit old-fashioned but, for now, email marketing is still around and very effective.  According to experts at CopyBlogger and Constant Contact, the return on investment is amazingly cost effective. With an ROI of around 4,300%, email practically pays for itself and saves a tree or two. Email is a direct line of conversation with your consumers so use it wisely instead of the annoying sales pitches of the last generation of email newsletters. Here are some smart ideas to get you started on the right path of email marketing. 

  • Have  a Strategy – Instead of randomly sending out an email that will be one of millions in a readers “inbox” have a plan. Decide on the frequency of the emails whether it is weekly or monthly. Plan a newsletter that has interesting content and a call to action, possibly with a coupon or coupon to get consumers to act.
  • Use Visuals – We are a society that likes images and graphics. Avoid lengthy content and rather choose visuals that can catch the attention of the reader. Keep in mind that the images, logos and color palette should be in line with your brand. An interactive element such as a video or survey can keep readers on your newsletters longer.
  • Don’t Forget a Call to Action and Contact Info – Many readers scan emails and look for the bottom line so don’t forget your call to action and methods for readers to easily contact you. Calls to action action should include words such as: shop,  buy, click here, look, find out more etc.

 

Writing a Great Press Release

A press release is a short, compelling news story written by a public relations professional or marketer and sent to targeted members of the media. The ultimate goal of a press release is to pique the interest of a journalist or publications enough so they print your company’s news. This means free advertising as well as brand name exposure. These short releases, known as PR, can be a wonderful bonus for companies to be recognized by trade papers, journals or even local newspapers. So what should be put into a press and release and how should it look in order to catch the eye of the intended media? Lets’ take a look at the components of a press release. 

  • Contact Information – Right at the top of the page include your contact information including the name of the company you are writing for and the email/phone number. This is important because anonymous releases are a “no go” in the publication world. Make it easy for each publication to know who you are. Include the data as well so they know the information is current.
  • Be Short and To the Point – No journalist has the time to read lengthy press releases so get to the point in the first sentence. Let the reader know the big news right in the opening and use all pertinent facts, so if they do choose to run with the information they will have the correct facts, names and information. This is a good idea as it is an attention grabbing way by having a strong headline.
  • Give Statistics – Give the reasons why your announcement is important and who it will impact. Many PR firms suggest doing this by giving statistics or percentiles that show off just how important the information is.
  • Use Quotes – Save the journalist time by including a human element.
  • Be Precise – Proofread the release so there are no grammatical mistakes.

Social Media Analytics

So you own a small or medium sized business and you understand the importance of being a presence on social media. In fact, you have created business pages on the top social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Maybe you even have joined industry specific platforms like Houzz or Doximity. But how do you know exactly how well your pages are doing? What you really need to do is study the analytics of your pages and see if they are making an impact. Evaluating social media analytic data will tell you whether your pages are performing well or falling flat.

Analytics will help your company focus on what your goals are in regard to being on social media. For example, is your goal to increase “likes” or “tweets”? Is the goal to convert viewers? Is the goal to increase brand awareness?  Analytics can help you fine tune those goals and help you keep track of your performance. In addition analytics will help your company keep track of key performance indicators (KPIs). These can be broken down into: likes and shares your posts receive, replies and comments and (most importantly) clicks your links and content.

If you are a novice to social media analytics you will want to start with some research into what the numbers mean and how to translate those numbers into actions. Google Analytics is one of the most popular analytics tools out there. It can report most anything about your website and traffic, including all the necessary social referrals you’re interested in. One feature of Google Analytics is the ability to create custom dashboards of just the metrics that matter to you. In addition to Google, Buffer (a social media management tool) and True Social Metrics (a dashboard of analytics) can help you examine whether your efforts on social media or working or whether you need to go in another direction.

Managing Conflicts at Work

No matter what size your business is there are bound to be conflict between employees. Everyone comes to the table with different experiences, beliefs and expectations. Your job as a business leader is to find a way to cultivate and enjoy those differences without having to manage conflicts constantly between team members. It is pretty much inevitable that conflict will arise in times of stress or change. How you deal with it will determine the extent and impact on your company. Here are a few tips from experts at Forbes, Time, and U.S. News on what to do (and what not to do) in times of conflict.

  • Be Prepared – Honestly, you know it is practically inevitable – so plan ahead. Talk to your Human Resources personnel, who are experts on dealing with many personalities and are usually good under pressure. They may have courses or suggestions for how to handle day-to-day conflicts or larger disagreements. They can also be excellent mediators in the  event of a larger conflict.
  • Stay Calm – Conflict can quickly escalate if all parties are not dealt with in a calm manner. Your leadership skills of listening, problem solving and finding a common ground will be tested. Most of all keep your cool and check yourself before dealing with any crisis, big or small.
  • Document – One of the hallmarks of a great Human Resources department is documenting any conflicts so that they can be handled correctly. Be sure your HR department or specialist keeps a written log of what the conflict was and how it was handled. You may need this documentation later if the conflict comes up again or if a legal situation arises.
  • Do Not Avoid – Some business leaders make the all-too-common-mistake of trying to avoid the conflict and let it solve itself. Experts warn against this because what may seem like it is settled may rear it’s head later and cause even more problems later.
  • Follow Up – Many conflicts can be solved quickly and rather quietly. However, as a business leader, you should make it a priority to check in with concerned parties to make sure all is well or at least getting better. HR should also follow up and conclude documentation on the conflict.

Employee Documentation

As business leaders or human resource managers, documenting employee performance is critical for the health and development of successful companies. Why is it so important to document, document, document?  And how should this be done?  Read on to find out the reasons why businesses should follow good documentation strategies as well as what some of those best practices look like.

It is important to document employee issues for several reasons including: protecting the company, maintaining records for the future managers and for the protection of the employee. Documenting employee issues will protect the company in the future should the employee file a lawsuit claiming discrimination or other legal matter. Documentation will also prevent any new managers from having to start from scratch. Documentation can give insight into issues and conflicts as well as how those issues were resolved. All that documentation also protects and helps the employee as well. In all fairness employees need to be informed when there is an issue so they can make corrective action or add their input about the situation. 

Proper documentation should include the following items:

  • a description of the events or situation
  • a definition of the policy that was violated
  • a review of any previous issues with the employee and how that was resolved
  • designate a mediator or neutral person to discuss the issue with
  • indicate what changes need to be made and a timeline
  • signatures of all people involved
  • comments or input from all parties

The documentation should be a thorough as possible and include differing points of view as well as the final resolution.

Time Management Best Practices

Most of us feel like we could benefit from a few extra hours in every day. There just doesn’t seem like there is enough time to get it all done. This is especially true for business leaders who try to juggle it all. There are, however, solutions to using time more efficiently that will make getting it all done possible. Managing time well is a hallmark of most exceptional professionals. Here are a few tips for making the most of your time.

  • Take Stock – One of the first steps to managing your time wisely is to know how you actually spend you time. Start your quest for better time management by taking stock of your time right now. Keep a log of your day for several days in a row.  This will give you a good idea of what times you are most productive and when you are least productive. This log will give you a good insight as to how long it takes for certain tasks to be done and give you a chance to evaluate whether it can be done more efficiently.
  • Evaluate – Either as a team or with your business leaders evaluate your findings. Are there certain tasks that can be handed off? Do certain tasks need to be reprioritized? How are you going to keep your employees involved in time management and prioritizing tasks? A group discussion will help create a “To-Do” list of sorts that can get everyone on the same page in regard to whet should be done and when.
  • Use A Planning Tool – Many companies use certain apps or software to keep all employees up-to-date on the completion of projects. Online tools can help keep everyone informed about the progress of a project or whether certain jobs have been completed.
  • Get Organized – Now that you have had a chance to look at the inner workings of your business, certain jobs may make more sense to be done by some employees. Reorganized projects by skill and ability rather than by availability. Getting organized may also mean assigning time consuming jobs to outside groups. For example, if your office requires cleaning weekly or constant upkeep of machinery, you may want to consider contracting out for tasks that take you away from your ultimate business goals.
  • Delegate – It is easy to get tied down to doing certain tasks that have become known as your “thing” but you may want to start delegating tasks that others could easily handle.
  • Learn to Say No – As business leaders, we are pulled in so many different directions. It is really okay to say no to engagements and tasks that take you away from your business. Or better yet, assign the event to someone younger in the company who would love to gain experience!
  • Be Healthy – In other words get enough sleep, eat healthy and take care of yourself. The worst thing that can happen to over-taxed workers and leaders is that they get sick and fall into  the trap of “trying to catch up.”

Increasing Sales for Small/Medium Businesses

Small and medium sized businesses that are just starting out or even those who are several years into development usually start looking for was to increase sales and grow the market they currently have. Increasing sales can mean many things such as: increasing foot traffic to an actual brick and mortar shop, increasing online sales for ecommerce businesses , optimize conversions or sell more to existing customers. Here are some tips from the U.S. Small Business Association and other experts in marketing and sales.

  • Nurture Loyal Customers– While finding new customers is always a good idea, listening to the needs of loyal customers and satisfying their requests means not only do they stay happy customers, but they are more likely to spread the word and talk you up to friends, relatives and co-workers. Creating long-lasting relationships with your current customers will pay off in the long run.
  • Revisit your Web Strategy – Businesses have the potential to reach thousands, if not millions, of customers on the web. Think of the number of people who are married to their phone. The numbers are increasing practically daily of the consumers who purchase not only on the web but via mobile devices. Make sure your web strategy has taken the mobile industry into account.
  • Pay Attention to Metrics – You really can’t improve what you haven’t measured. Keep collecting data on sales that come in via the website. For example, what brings visitors to your website? It might be your blog articles, pay-per-click advertisements, or referral program. You could be great at building brand awareness, but you don’t know until you measure your efforts.
  • Step Up your Marketing – Evaluate your current marketing strategy to see if it needs some tweaking. Have you taken advantage of Google ad Words, Facebook Ads, email campaigns, traditional mailers, local search listings, and/or loyalty marketing? Take time as a team to examine what methods are working and what has not been  tried yet. Don’t be afraid to try something new for a few months.