Avoiding common pitfalls to become a better leader. As a chief people officer, I have a front-row seat to watch some leadership careers flourish - and some crash and burn. Here are the five most critical mistakes that derail promising careers. I once worked with a leader who could never admit that he didn't know the answer to a question. There'd be a brief flash of panic in his eyes, then a hasty, "Uh ... our central office is handling that" or "That project will be done in ... six months." He was clearly making it up on the spot. In his effort to look capable, he made the situation far worse - and he no longer holds that leadership role.
Marketing and sales have always had an odd relationship, as they can both be synergistic and antagonistic - all at the same time. It’s not uncommon to hear marketers say that, when business is good, sales gets the credit, but when business is bad, all fingers point to marketing. And if you ask a salesperson? They may tell you that marketing spends far too much time and energy driving “squishy” brand objectives that don’t directly make a difference to the organization’s bottom line. It’s a constant back and forth between things like quality and quantity, marketing-qualified leads and sales-qualified leads and brand marketing versus direct response.
Whether you are interviewing for a job or are an established CEO, the ability to sell is critical to every career and beyond. "Selling is a life skill," said Jason Patel, the founder of Transizion, a college prep company focused on closing the opportunity divide in America. Not only does his work require making sales to a diverse range of customers, he also educates students and early-career professionals on how to use sales techniques to advance their own careers. "Broadly, everything you do requires some sort of selling: dating, pursuing a promotion, buying a house and getting a loan, among other things," Patel said. "It's part of the human condition."
In my last post we talked about accepting 100% responsibility for everything you say AND 100% responsibility for everything the person you’re speaking with hears. Once you’re willing to do that then you’ll have the opportunity to improve your own communication skills. The beauty of accepting 100% responsibility is that it doesn’t matter how good the other person’s communication skills are. You still get your message across and have the possibility of better understanding their message as well. To communicate well you’ll want to make certain that your thoughts are delivered in as clear and concise a manner as possible.
Before I begin this post on communication I feel that I must point out that I’m only writing about half of the communication process. And it’s the least important half. The communication process of course involves speaking and listening. Of the two listening is far more important. Listening is how we learn. You will learn more in five minutes of listening then you will learn in a lifetime of talking. Sometime in the future I’ll probably do a post on listening, maybe right after I do that post on procrastination. But for now we are talking about the speaking part of the process. I should also point out that much of the speaking part can also apply to our written communications.
In agile, complex, collaborative organizations, there is a direct connection between the quality of information flow and the quality of results. Shared context (or shared consciousness as described in the great book Team of Teams by General McChrystal) is a fundamental requirement for smart coordination, empowered execution, and distributed decision making. However, many organizations find themselves stuck with an information dam – or an information flood – or both.
At the turn of a new year, after the parties have ended and we return to our daily lives, people over the world consider how the next 365 days can be even better. We write down our New Year's resolutions and think about what we can to do to improve our health, happiness and prosperity. The same can be said for businesses of all sizes. January is a time that companies like those on Glassdoor’s lists of the 100 best places to work in 2019 and the 50 best small and medium companies to work for consider what they can do to not only bring happier and healthier employees through the door, but also keep them for the long term.
While a tight labor market has business leaders seeking to improve retention and engagement, they may be overlooking one critical factor: how their managers respond to stress. A new study by researchers of leadership training company VitalSmarts found that one in three managers can’t handle high-stakes situations. And their inability to communicate and manage through these situations is affecting team performance in a variety of ways. Managers who get angry or withdraw in when the pressure is on hurt team morale, and teams are more likely to miss deadlines, exceed their budgets, and fail to meet quality standards.
There are apps out there now that imitate the voices of real people and individuals are using them during phone conversations with collection agents as a means of wasting an agent’s time and making it impossible to collect on a debt. That was just one of a number of important topics discussed during a webinar recently that was sponsored by Peak Revenue Learning. The webinar, entitled “Where Collectors Make the Most FDCPA Mistakes” featured a panel of leading compliance experts talking about the areas where agents most often get tripped up when attempting to comply with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and how agencies can work with their employees to keep mistakes from happening again.
This year, the unemployment rate in the U.S. hit a 49-year low of 3.7%. The demand for companies to retain top talent is intensifying. One report suggests that employee retention is the number one issue on the minds of CEOs today — not just in the U.S., but around the world. And yet, companies often spend very little time onboarding new hires. With up to 20% of staff turnover occurring within the first 45 days of employment, a standardized onboarding process is essential. In my experience as a consultant for Fortune 500 companies, I’ve found that the most effective organizations onboard new hires for the duration of their first year — their most vulnerable period — and focus on three key dimensions: the organizational, the technical, and the social. By using this integrated approach, they enable their employees to stay, and to thrive.
We are not taught how to learn in school, we are taught how to pass tests. The spacing effect is a far more effective way to learn and retain information that works with our brain instead of against it. Find out how to use it here. The most important metaskill you can learn is how to learn. Learning allows you to adapt. As Darwin hinted, it’s not the strongest who survives. It’s the one who easily adapts to a changing environment. Learning how to learn is a part of a “work smarter, not harder” approach to life—one that probabilistically helps you avoid becoming irrelevant.
Insight is rarely handed to you on a silver platter. Einstein argued that genius was 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration. While we can acknowledge that luck plays a role, we often use that as a crutch to avoid doing what we can do to intelligently prepare for opportunities. We only get one life, “and it seems to be it is better to do significant things than to just get along through life to its end,” writes Richard Hamming in his book The Art of Doing Science and Engineering: Learning to Learn.
Failing to proactively take steps to protect your business from employee fraud schemes is like leaving the door to a vault holding your valuable assets unlocked and unguarded. Few entrepreneurs who run small enterprises ever consider the fact that their companies are at risk of falling victim to employee fraud and abuse. Yet an internet search of the topic reveals hundreds of headlines showing the incredible range of employee frauds, the regularity of their occurrence and the often devastating impact these frauds have on the companies who suffer them.
Recently, the owner of a collection agency reached out to me and shared a letter he had written to his local Congressman. The letter, which you can read excerpts of below, talks about the pains of dealing with frivolous lawsuits and the impact that defending against them, in terms of hirings that the company can not make because it is too busy spending money on lawyers. With permission of the owner, AccountsRecovery.net has been granted permission to re-print portions of the letter, with the hope that it will spur other agency owners and executives to follow suit.
An absurdly easy tweak that turns a dud strategy into a magic bullet. I'm always looking for tactics and techniques that are quick to execute but have an outsized positive result. In all the years I've been in business, I have never found a simple tweak that's this fast, easy and effective. Everyone knows that when you contact people out of the blue (typically a cold email) they're more likely to respond if you tell that that someone they already know suggested that you speak with them. In sales lingo, that's called a "referral."
You want your colleagues to think you're bright and competent. But your weak word choice might be raising eyebrows and red flags. After all, people might not actually know what you're trying to say. Grammar rules were created to make communication clear. When you use words incorrectly, you can look sloppy and imprecise. Poor word choice also hinders communication and confuses issues, write Ross and Kathryn Petras, authors of "That Doesn't Mean What You Think It Means." In their book, they detail 150 of the most commonly misused words. Acquaint yourself with these word pairs which you've likely misused at work on more than one occasion.
It’s never easy to let an employee go, especially if they’ve been a loyal member of your team. Firing someone is sometimes unavoidable, though, so if you find yourself in this situation, you need to be prepared to handle it correctly. To help guide you, members of Young Entrepreneur Council were asked the following question:
“In the event you need to let an employee go, what is the best way to prepare — and what crucial step should follow after the meeting?”
Here’s what YEC community members had to say:
The best sales teams seem to just do amazing things together. What differentiates them? Well, they do tend to work at some of the best companies, so there is that. But it’s more than that. A few factors that contribute to high-performing sales teams:
High quota attainment. The best startups invest in their sales teams and work hard so most of the reps hit and exceed quota. It’s no fun and demotivating for everyone to miss their goals.
When employers promote workers to manager without training and support, the consequences are not good for anyone. It’s that time of year when leaders get together to hash out their strategic plan for next year. It’s the time when they look at who’s performing well, and who they should and shouldn’t promote. It can be an exciting time, but it’s also a time that comes with considerable risks. A leader sees the individual’s potential when they’re exhibiting mastery in their craft: top designer, best strategist, highest-performing salesperson, and most senior engineer. They’ve excelled year over year and progressed within their discipline.
There are many parts to a high-performing sales organization – the right people, processes and strategy, to start. But today, the underlying backbone of all of it is the right data as a foundation for customer acquisition. That’s not to say there’s no art to practicing sales. Much of what defines our most outstanding sales reps is their ability to deeply understand our prospects’ and customers’ business needs and speak directly to them. They often care about far more than just their sales quota. While science has always been part of sales, it’s hard to ignore the increasing importance of taking a data-driven approach to growing your business.