November 17, 2018

How To Find Areas Of Improvement In Your Growing Business

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Companies that want to be successful often look to customer praise and competitor admiration as validation of their efforts and as an impetus for improvement. However, the question of how to use negative reviews should be explored as well, since it’s true in all walks of life that we often learn best from failure and mistakes. Here are some valuable ways of becoming aware of an organization’s limitations as motivation for future enhancements.

Customer complaints

Although some companies question whether the customer is always right, the fact is that customers offer a helpful perspective on what is not working effectively within the business. From waiting on telephone hold too long to sky-high pricing, customers and clients provide glimpses into the consumer mindset about what might need to be tweaked to give a better customer experience. Online reviews or customer service department complaints can be mined for thoughtful feedback on how a company can improve its services, although keep in mind that not all reviews are helpful; general trends are more likely to guide you in the right direction.

Employee tensions

When two or more employees complain about a company policy or rule, it’s time to reexamine the rule to ensure it is clear and fair to all. Sometimes the language may need to be clarified, or doesn’t fit with company culture. Other rules may merely become outdated, such as those about an office dress code. Invite employees to share their concerns through a complaint box or an email discussion board. Negative comments, unless disrespectful, should not cause backlash or discrimination to the employee, but rather a courteous thank-you for sharing a pressing concern.

Training issues

Sometimes a training class does not go as planned. It might be that an external trainer does not fully understand the company’s culture or the issues being dealt with. Other times, employees can be resistant to change and reluctant to embrace new policies and goals. These situations provide valuable opportunities to discuss employees’ emotions and concerns so that the company can adjust its approach if necessary, or provide employees the necessary support and incentives for embracing change, which will increase employee retention.

Product feedback

Whether a company sells products or services, it is a good idea to solicit customer feedback about goods or services received. Product feedback is an invaluable resource for companies. This can be done anonymously by return postcard or online via the company website. Showing interest in improving the product will impress customers build confidence in the company as well as possibly generate more sales.

Negative criticism can render positive results if used productively for company enrichment. Look for ways to encourage customer feedback, including critical comments.

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Bare Minimum Background Checks for Hiring on a Small Budget

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When you are running a small business with limited resources, you may consider foregoing background checks to cut employment costs. However, personal and professional references often don’t provide enough information about a person. Even simple background checks can make candidate selection decisions faster and easier. This is especially important for a small business that might lack the resources to address problems that can arise from poor hiring decisions.

Criminal Background Checks

Running a basic criminal background check on applicants before officially hiring them can keep a small business from becoming a victim of fraud. While many issues that might come up through a criminal background check may not be relevant to the individual’s ability to perform their job, crimes related to fraud or theft should be considered during a hiring decision. While large corporations can handle some losses, one wrong employment decision can drive a small business to close. For this reason, money spent on criminal background checks is an essential insurance policy for the overall security of your business.

Credit Reports

A credit report is another background check that can offer employers valuable information about applicants. However, small employers can afford to be more discriminating with which positions require credit checks. Applicants for jobs that require a high level of financial accountability or that will have access to business finances should be screened using a credit report. Be aware that the states of California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Oregon, and Washington have state laws prohibiting employers from using employee credit reports in hiring decisions.

Legal Considerations

For all types of background reports, employers must be careful to follow specific legal requirements. You may not run a criminal or credit check on an individual without their written consent. Most employees will ask applicants to sign a background check consent form at a later stage in the hiring process. After viewing a background check, you must send the employee a pre-adverse action disclosure, a copy of the report, and an explanation of their rights to dispute reports if you think you may not hire them based on the report. When you make the final decision to not hire them based on information in the report, you must send applicants an adverse action notice to let them know.

Vetting

Transparency in hiring, on the part of the employer and the employee, is essential to building trust. This transparency can be achieved through proper vetting processes. Vetting assures that potential employees are who they claim to be and have done what they claim to have done so that you can choose the best talent for your business with confidence. In order to establish trust with potential employees, your business can join the Clear Business Directory by completing an annual vetting process which shows your community and potential hires that your operations are reputable and trustworthy.

Small business owners should always run a criminal background check on potential applicants; doing so can save a lot of money in the long run.

 

References

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The Recent Rise of Sleeping Technology

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Sleep is extremely important, but let’s face it, the majority of us don’t get nearly enough sleep that we need. Everyone has such a busy life. With jobs, children, exercise, and social lives sleep often tends to take a little bit of a back seat. Plus, with all of that going around in your mind, when it comes to actually putting your head down, your mind is so full of thoughts that you can’t get to sleep anyway!

Although there are many ways in which we can improve our sleeping pattern, some people are turning towards smart sleep technology to help them out. Much of this technology is geared towards tracking sleeping patterns and the quality of the slumber. Although this does not directly help you to sleep, often people don’t realize just how little sleep they are getting until it is in front of them. This could be the push that is needed to encourage people to go to bed a little bit earlier.

Another direction that people are turning to are mattresses. The quality and type of your mattress can have a huge impact on the quality of your sleep, and which type is best depends very much on the individual. Today, a mattress can offer a lot more than support, they can also be full of tech. If your mattress is old and causing you discomfort, consider looking through some mattress offers to see if you can find something better.

Adjusting Mattresses

If you have trouble getting into a comfortable position when in bed, then the adjustable mattress may be for you. Often you will also have to purchase an adjustable base in addition to the mattress so that you can get into the optimum position for sleep. These types of bed come with a remote control that allows you to move either the head or the foot of the bed accordingly.
Some models even come with a massage function where you can pinpoint where you want to target, be it just your head, your feet, or your full body.

Smart Mattresses

This is the term used to describe any type of mattress that is built with sensor technology. They are used to monitor the sleep patterns of their owners and can track various elements such as how long a person sleeps, any restless sleep, body temperature, heart rate, breathing, and many other factors. Although this type of tracking is the main function of a smart mattress, some may come with other, additional tech features such as built-in alarms or even internet connectivity!
With the growing use of mobile phones and apps, a lot of smart mattresses can utilize app technology, so that you can adjust them using your mobile device.

Temperature Regulation

Although not necessarily tech-related, a temperature regulating mattress is a nice addition to the market. If you find yourself too hot or too cold at night, this mattress can be the answer. Filled with tiny gel beads, they have the power to draw heat away from your body when it is warm, storing it, and then releasing it back up to you when it gets colder.

Smart Beds

Slightly different from the smart mattress, the smart bed can sense your position, whether you are on your back, front or side, and makes automatic, real-time adjustments to help you sleep at your best. It can become firmer or softer in an instant, providing you with support when and where you need it. It also has the power to provide sleep data every morning so you know just how well you did or didn’t sleep.

This type of mattresses provide the benefits of a range of wearable technology without you having to change lifestyle or normal habits. You don’t have to remember to turn any device on when it is time for bed.

We are living through the rise of sleep technology, and in addition to mattresses, there is a huge range of other gadgets and devices that have been created with the aim of helping you to sleep. Smart pyjamas, for example, is a more recent invention, one that doesn’t seem to have quite hit it off just yet. These pyjamas have been made using bioceramic imprinted fabric that cools off the body’s infrared head emissions with the goal of giving a longer and a deeper sleep.

Another technology that is meant to improve your sleep is the breathing tracker. The device comes in the form of a chest strap and an app, matching your breathing to tonal music that gradually starts to slow down. Subconsciously your breathing will start to mimic the beat of the music, prolonging exhalation. The aim here is to ultimately help you get to sleep quicker than you originally would.

Smart pillows are similar to smart mattresses in the sense that they track your sleeping throughout the night. They are connected to an app that factors in the quality of the previous night’s sleep and then offers personalized sleeping tips throughout the day to help you the following night.

There is a huge range of sleeping tech out there, and if things continue how they currently are, it is likely that much more will be developed in the near future. Be sure to look out for deals and discounts in this industry. Considering it is a fairly new technology, some of them start with quite a hefty price tag. Is 2018 the year of smart sleeping? Only time will tell.

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Retention Problems? 3 Ways to Keep Your Employees on Board

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Employee retention is an issue that every employer faces. In fact, employee turnover costs US businesses $160 billion each year. You stand to lose a lot when your employees feel dissatisfied by their work experience—especially since happy employees are more productive and more effective workers.

If you’re worried about employee retention within your company, then try these tactics to keep your people engaged and on board.

1. Use a Rewards and Incentives System

No matter the industry, all employees appreciate incentives, rewards, and positive feedback. You can cut down on turnover rates by showing your employees that you value them as assets to your company.

For example, you can have an awards ceremony once a year or once every quarter to show your appreciation. Some companies even acknowledge their employees’ work each day. For example, according to Womply’s Glassdoor reviews, their company holds morning “stand-ups” where they meet to define goals and give acknowledgments and praise where it’s deserved.

You can also give annual raises to your workers, which is something that not every establishment does. Offer employees benefits and discounts for working for you. They can be anything from discounts on merchandise to memberships to local programs and services.

2. Conduct Surveys

Company surveys give you insight into how your employees feel about their jobs. Issue a company-wide survey and ask questions regarding their feelings and experience with the company. Keep these surveys anonymous and analyze the information so you can come up with strategies to keep them satisfied.

You may find that they aren’t thrilled with the pay rates, or maybe they would like a full-blown cafeteria instead of just a break room. Surveys will make this information come to life so that you can see it and act on it before employees decide to leave over their concerns.

Pay attention to exit interviews and read online reviews from former employees. While you may not like hearing negative reviews, you need this information to ensure that you won’t continue to lose employees for this same reason. While some retention problems are beyond your control, a majority of the reasons why employees seek new employment are well within your control.

3. Maintain a Friendly and Caring Company Culture

The company culture is often the reason why people leave jobs. They may love the position and adore their pay, but they will still leave a company that has an unpleasant culture.

For that reason, companies need to put some effort into their company culture if they want employees to stick around. That means nurturing an atmosphere that is friendly, motivational, and empathetic to other people.

In Glassdoor reviews of Bain & Company, an employee observed that “the company values are practiced and seen everyday; the environment is fun, supportive, and interesting; and the people are intelligent, caring, and, for the most part, all wonderful to be around. I hope to be at Bain for many years to come.”

This is the kind of feedback all employers want to hear from their team. If you can create and maintain that type of environment, then your employees will want to work for you and excel in their position.

These are just a few tips that can help you keep your employees happy at work. Really, the best strategy for improving employee retention is listening to your employees. Be open to criticism, ask for their feedback, and be willing to address employee concerns—that’s the best way to keep your people on board.

For more information on developing a high-performance team and managing your business, book a complimentary 30-minute strategy session with Shannon.

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The Trick to Independent Sales…is Sales

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As part of my business and career coaching, I work with many wonderful men and women who have undertaken to build a brand around selling products through independent or network marketing. These are men and women with ambition, who believe in the products their selling, and who understand the value of leveraging interpersonal networks to build their own brand. However, with all the hype surrounding this model, some believe that success comes without effort. Truthfully, there is no product on the market that sells itself, and there has never been. The people that reach colossal levels of success distributing for these organizations are expert recruiters and sales reps. If you want to succeed in this industry, you need to identify the skills and strategies from their example that can be replicated. Here are a few case studies:

 

Jackie Ritz

Jackie started distributing doTERRA oils in 2009. She credits initial sales success to her enthusiasm for the product. “After feeling such a difference using dōTERRA, I couldn’t stop talking about them.” But the secret to Jackie’s success was moving into recruiting and success coaching. Whereas many multi-level organizations’ compensation plans produce diminishing returns the farther down your downline you recruit, Jackie leveraged this organization’s “unilevel compensation” method to drastically increase earnings with a depth-of-roster strategy.

Takeaways: Pay attention to your organization’s compensation methodology when determining the best sales strategy. A cookie-cutter approach might not work for every commission structure or product category.

 

Rolf Kipp

Rolf calls Forever Living “The Most Beautiful Business on Earth.” While perhaps overly poetic, his book is retailing for over $40 on Amazon. It’s unclear what percentage of his millions has come from product sales and referrals versus the book and speaking engagements, but it’s clear from his current marketing push that the latter is not insignificant.

Takeaways: Your level of sales success in sales pays off twice; once directly, and again when it can be leveraged to sell training materials to up-and-comers in the industry. While this is a strategy that may not pay off until later in your career, it is a lucrative one.

 

Brian McClure

Brian receives a staggering monthly income from a company that is (technically) a multi-level, Ambit Energy. Whereas most utility companies have contracts with municipal, county, or state governments that provide them with a de facto monopoly, Ambit operates in deregulated energy markets where this disruptive model can potentially drive down the cost of energy and gas bills significantly. Because these markets are new and few, Brian’s outstanding referral bonus can be attributed to his being an early arrival to a new and lucrative opportunity.

Takeaways: Truly successful, disruptive companies operate in “blue ocean” spaces where there is minimal competition. Try to identify new ways of solving old problems, and stake out that territory before someone else does.

 

No matter which brand or product you’re selling, the essential skills related to success are a willingness to learn and innovate, an emotional intelligence that can fuel your recruitment efforts, and above all, a willingness to get out there and drum up leads. The independent model might be an innovation of the last thirty years, but the keys to success are as old as markets themselves. Don’t let that discourage you; these skills are replicable. But it’s never going to happen without effort, no matter how convincing the hype.

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How to Handle Disagreements Between Coworkers in the Workplace

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Disagreements between employees are inevitable. If you are a business owner or manager, you will sometimes be responsible for handling these disagreements. Forbes explains thatthe ability to recognize conflict, understand the nature of conflict, and to be able to bring swift and just resolution to conflict will serve you well as a leader – the inability to do so may well be your downfall.” So before you get involved with settling disputes, take a few moments to stop and think about the best strategies for fairly handling disagreements using the tips below as guidelines.

 

Understand What It’s Worth

Before your involve yourself in any kind of employee problem, stop to figure out what the problem is worth. Is this an issue that actually impacts the day-to-day operation of the business? If so, how far are you willing to go to solve the problem? Regardless of what’s going on, you need to be aware of what’s potentially at stake before you involve yourself at all. If the problem is entirely interpersonal and doesn’t impact anything else in the workplace, you might not need to be involved with the disagreement at all.

 

Know What’s Important

One of the most important things you can do is to distinguish between disagreements and illegal offenses. Just because there are disagreements or bad feelings between a boss and an employee or between coworkers does not mean illegal offenses have been committed. However, the Law Offices of Jeremy Pasternak specify that “harassment may involve: offensive comments, jokes or physical conduct that denigrates a protected class; requests for sexual favors to keep your job or get a promotion; unwanted leering, touching or physical contact.” Even if you don’t feel you should otherwise get involved, an illegal offense is something that your business must take seriously. After all, your lack of action could end up being read as supporting a hostile or illegal atmosphere, which could put your business at risk. It’s important that you put your personal feelings aside and figure out whether the disagreement has been caused by something that might be legally actionable.

 

Remain Impartial

It’s also important for you as the employer or manager to remain impartial in the disagreement. It doesn’t matter what history you have with either employee. What is the objective situation? In some cases, this might mean siding with an employee with whom you would not usually side. In others, it might mean not taking action even when you feel for one of the two parties. The most important thing you can do is to protect the long-term health of your business, and that means keeping your feelings out of the matter.

 

Cover Your Bases

Finally, make sure your bases are covered. If you have any company policies that dictate how disagreements are handled, make sure you follow those dictates to the letter. If you have a human resources department or legal department, make sure you run any potential issues by them first. While it might seem self-serving, it really is in everyone’s best interest to make sure that you make sure the company is covered before you begin to involve yourself in any employee disagreements. From there, you can start to make the hard decisions that will help to resolve the situation.

If there are disagreements between your employees, don’t go with the instinct to immediately interfere. Instead, stop, take stock of the situation, and figure out if action is either required of you or is best for the health of your company. If you do need to be involved, follow protocols and be as objective as possible. While you can’t make everyone happy, you can adjudicate disputes fairly. As a leader, you must be prepared to be an example and to guide your coworkers and employees to a peaceful resolution.

To learn more about creating agreements for results and collaborations, schedule time at www.meetme.so/ShannonGronich

 

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Business Trip Cheats to Make Your Next Meeting in London Out of This World

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It is no secret that business trips are often long, stressful affairs, packed with multiple meetings and little downtime. When you know your destination is London, however, you want to see as much of England’s capital as possible. With iconic sights such as the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and the London Eye, this city’s food, culture and attractions are as diverse as those who live there. To help you out, keep these cheats in mind to make the most of your trip across the pond.

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The Number One Piece of Advice

First and foremost, plan ahead. Chances are you received a schedule or list of the professional responsibilities that you need to complete while in London. Make sure you know when and where those are, then block out your free time and determine what you have time to do. Time management skills will be key here. Make sure you keep on task while you are there. Use some productivity hacks to maximize your productivity while you are abroad.

Where to Stay

Where you stay in London is highly dependent on your job duties. You might have been assigned a place to stay, but if not, look into hotels or even better, London corporate apartments that are near where you will be spending most of your time. London corporate apartments offer all the luxuries of home, making your trip feel more like a relaxing vacation or homestay instead of a work trip. One that gives you a beautiful place to sleep, get work done and is within your budget is sufficient for business trips. Look for a site that offers complimentary breakfast so you can save time as well. Efficiency and comfort are essential.

What to See

London has many well-known attractions. Some that are worth checking out are taking a ride on the London Eye, an enclosed Ferris Wheel, strolling through the Victoria and Albert Museum, which showcases exhibits related to art and design and picking up some souvenirs from Harrods, the iconic department store. If you want advice on lesser-known travel locations in the city, here are a couple of suggestions. Stroll through some of Hyde Park, located right in Central London, for a quiet escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Or, spend time in the West End, taking in a show.

Where to Eat

For restaurant tips, it is a bit difficult because London has so much good food that it might seem impossible to decide what to try. For restaurant tips, if you are going to see the sights, finding places that are high-quality and get you food quickly are useful when you are short on time. Visit a pub to try traditional British foods, like pies and sausages, or get prepackaged sandwiches from a grocery store or café so you can stick to your time schedule. Try to avoid common American chain fast food stores. Order something you have never seen before or that you always heard of but never had a chance to try.

Use your free time to your advantage and experience some of what London has to offer. With these hacks, you can have a great trip from a personal and business perspective.

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5 Companies That Improve Our Standard of Living Daily

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5 Companies That Improve Our Standard of Living Daily

There are many companies that provide beneficial services to the world today, but which companies have impacted our lives the most? That’s difficult to answer because each company aids each other in serving the greater good. But there are a few companies, that have stood the test of time and made their permanent mark on the daily lives of civilization.

Microsoft

The software giant, Microsoft, in addition to having one of the largest market capitalizations has also had nearly the largest influence on society today. Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, originally sought to place a computer within every household. The seemingly outrageous goal has changed the educational opportunities, communication, and entertainment options that people have.

Google

Google has been able to provide people with near-endless information. As a seemingly infinite library source, Google has also changed the way people find services in real life. As a continually evolving company, over their course, Google has continually improved their designs and been able to impact processes such as the way that people purchase stocks or find their nearest hospital.

ADT

Developed in response to a home invasion of the founder’s house, ADT is one of the pioneer security service companies. This American security giant currently serves over 35 countries in total. The services offered by ADT have saved many customers from home intrusions, fires, and a variety of other harmful incidents. At the moment, ADT is the only security company offering monitored flood detectors.

Apple

Apple has been an influential company for decades, but with the creation of the iPhone, Apple took the world by storm. Their iPod device already introduced the world to a new way of listening to music, but the iPhone introduced a new way of doing almost everything; from shopping to taking care of children. Apple not only improved civilization’s standard of living through a few devices, but through the innovations that they continue to achieve.

Tesla

Tesla, one of the few companies founded by Elon Musk, was created with an innovative vision. Focused on sustainability, with three vehicle models, Tesla has surpassed their original goals. Tesla has proven to the world that efficient electric vehicles can be created, and that combustion engines are soon on their way out.

Summary

Each of these companies has played a role among the others at some point during their history. It can even be argued that they play a role among each other daily. However, there is no denying that each of these companies has permanently change our standard of living for the better.

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How to Keep Your Travel Expenses in Check During Your Business Trip

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The expenses of a business trip can add up very quickly. Many people use business trips as an opportunity to splurge on a few things and enjoy their travels while accomplishing work. This splurge places the stress on business owners to find sources to pay for the travels. With some creative thinking and a few solid plans, keeping business trip expenses down can be a simple task.

Rentals

With the advent of ride-sharing services, such as Uber and Lyft, it is not as necessary to have a business car rental. There are plenty of cases where a company should rent cars, but it is not as essential as it used to be. For example, if your employees fly to a city, they can travel throughout the town by using one of the ride-share services to go to their destinations.

If you do need to pay for a business car rental, arriving prepared with your car insurance can help lower the cost of a rental. Employees can also carpool with one another to reduce the number of vehicles that a business needs to rent. According to Avis, if you enroll in their Avis for Business program, you get access to exclusive service advantages and rewards from 30% off base rates to getting a free day for every 15 rental days. This is how many car rental agencies act.

Travel Rewards

Take advantage of the reward programs offered by any airlines and hotels that your business commonly uses. In exchange for your continued business, many airlines and hotels offer their customers discounts and free services. By remaining loyal to a select few companies, your business can reap rewards that will ultimately save you money.

You can receive miles from flying with specific airlines. Accruing points through particular car rental companies is also an option. It allows you to earn a return on the investment necessary to build your business and brand. Make the most of the opportunities for traveling that you have.

Virtual Meetings

During a business trip, your employees may not need to travel to as many destinations to get business done. Make a note of the clients that will not mind having a virtual meeting and have your employees conduct business with them virtually. This meeting will save a little on travel expenses, which adds up over time.

Conclusion

The key to keeping your business’s travel expenses in check is to eliminate small costs and progress towards more significant costs. However, your primary goal should be to decrease minor costs, as these can add up quickly without being detected. Make a list of all of your business’s travel expenses, then make a note of the largest ones. After you eliminate small and unnecessary costs, begin to develop a plan for decreasing your most substantial costs. Often you will find that, like low costs, your most significant costs can be eliminated too. Technology has created many new ways to conduct business without the need to travel.

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How to Become a Respected and Engaging Leader in Your Workplace

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Becoming a workplace leaders does not always mean that you are given a title and a pay raise, at least initially. You may have to prove yourself first. Fortunately, it is not that hard to do when you utilize the following strategies.

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Lead by example.

Dress, speak, and act the part of the leader you want to become. Treat others the way you want to be treated to earn their respect. Don’t play favorites; instead, view everyone as equal. Perform your work in a positive and productive way to let others see that you are serious about your job and expect others to be, as well. Avoid negative behaviors such as being overly critical, judgmental, or biased. Maintain ethical integrity and encourage employees to do the same.

 

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Apply leadership tactics.

Read books about leadership and study positive role models. Then do as they suggest to build rapport and gain respect at work. Plan projects efficiently to ensure success, selecting the most suitable individuals for each role. Monitor without micromanaging. Provide adequate training and skill-building opportunities to help employees reach their potential and excel at their jobs. Use company resources prudently to build success.

 

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Encourage input.

An interactive workplace is more effective than one that operates from the top down. Use various means to solicit employee suggestions and feedback. For example, a suggestion box may attract new ideas or recommendations. Company newsletter recognition fosters awareness and appreciation of employee efforts. Meetings or focus groups enable employees to have a say about their department’s performance or problems. An interactive in-house discussion board may elicit informal comments or insights. Employees who feel valued are more like to respect and follow company leadership.

 

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Provide structure.

Employees want to know how the company is doing and where it is headed. Routine updates or periodic reports will keep them apprised of the organization’s status and allow them to feel like they are part of the loop. Employees who feel disenfranchised are less productive and more likely to grumble about company policies or even leave their jobs if they are dissatisfied and feel unappreciated. Maintain a hierarchy of authority and an environment of openness to instill employees with security and a positive attitude toward your ability to lead.

 

It has been said that leaders are born, not made. But someone who is willing to stand up and show the way to others within a company can quickly earn respect as a leader. 

Apply to attend the upcoming Business Acceleration Summit and mastermind with our industry leaders and mentors, including Forbes recognized Transformational Leadership Strategist. 

 

Featured Image credit: ASEA

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