Building a Strong Emotional Connection with Consumers

Companies that are looking to make a lucrative organic growth are making major investments in the optimisation of end-to-end customer experience. In layman terms, this refers to every aspect of how customers interact with a brand and its products and promotions whether we are talking about on or offline. However, most companies still lack a clear strategy and objectives that connect all the aspects of a customer’s journey. Due to this lack of vision companies risk expending vast amounts of money and human capital without getting back any financial gain.

Most companies nowadays are too busy tracking customer activity across their stores, unrealistic measurements for and gathering huge amounts of data from social media, call centres, e-commerce sites loyalty programmes and so on. In this case, their goal is to improve customer satisfaction every step of the way. However, overall customer satisfaction levels are already pretty high and rarely represent a competitive advantage.

Thanks to the research done by Harvard Business Review (HBR) over numerous brands and industries, has revealed the fact the most efficient way to boost customer value is by connecting with them on an emotional level. This indicates the need to use ‘emotional motivators’ i.e. fundamental emotional principles which are often unspoken. Just to name a few we have the need to feel secure, the desire to have a sense of belonging or to succeed in life.

On the basis of customer loyalty, emotionally connected clients are at least twice as valuable as satisfied customers. Emotionally connected customers will buy more of the products or services you offer, they will visit your place of business or stores more often, they display low price sensitivity, they will recommend you more to their family and friends and even follow your advice. Here are a few examples:

Airbnb: Travellers who crave a more personal experience, then, the sharing-economy icon definitely hit an emotional chord through the use of principles such as of mutual trust and respect.

Starbucks: Given the fact they have created a sense of community in their coffee shops, the company has developed a deep and strong bond with their customers to become the perfect place between home and work.

Patagonia: This socially responsible retailer started connecting with like-minded customers and initiated supporting causes they are really invested in. Given its activist spirit, this is echoed in every aspect of the organisation, ranging from logistics to fair wages.

In all fairness, all the marketing tools available now have acted as a catalyst for brands and their customers. If we take a closer look at the leading marketing campaigns involving technology, we can clearly see that emotional marketing is further enhanced by digital tactics. This leads to brands building their reputation and awareness even stronger and with the added bonus of creating special bonds with their long-lasting customers.

The digital advantage

Contrary to popular belief, by embedding technology in our daily marketing campaigns does not mean brands give up on human connection. Through the use of new emerging technologies, organisations have discovered a more personal way to reach and persuade costumers. Messages that make people smile, cry or grimace are what lead to likes, shares and lifelong customers; and the opportunities that the digital era presents bring emotional marketing to new heights.

Influencing customer insights

When you’re designing a campaign revolving around emotions, the message has to reverberate with the desired target audience in order for it to be effective. Nonetheless, it is pretty difficult to build up such a campaign given the fact that every consumer in the customer journey is at a different point in their lives with unique priorities. Given social media websites and numerous apps, very specific customer data is now available allowing marketers to tailor the campaign for their customers on a very deep, personal and emotional level.

Reaching the target audience

Given that our lives have changed considerably in the past 10 years, we are now living in a mobile-first world. This translates into less physical interactions with them in the stores.  A big part of connecting with consumers on a more personal level is by reaching them where they are. It’s the organisation’s responsibility to discover what kind of device their audience is using more often and which content platform to they seem more in touch to i.e. Instagram, Snapchat or Facebook.

Harbouring customer loyalty

It is clear as day that campaigns that makes people angry, happy, sad, anxious or frustrated stay in the minds of the customers and will make them come back for more.

The moment when branded content is being distributed between family and friends and is also very engaging and entertaining, customer loyalty grows exponentially. When an organisation shares content with their customers either through Facebook or Twitter, we can clearly see the ‘art’ of creating an emotional campaign by combining it with science. These types of tactics have become one of the most effective ways in which to boost customer loyalty over decades.

If you are a believer in the idea of the digital era that is destroying the relationship between brands and their customers you may want to think again. Emotional and digital marketing are more intertwined than you may think. Campaigns that make people engage on an emotional level such as laughing, crying or smiling will continue to come out and they will grow in numbers, thus leading to an unprecedented level of engagement which can only be obtained through cut clear digital tactics.

There is a real value in providing companies with the tools to carry out regular organisational assessments and this is where Great People Inside comes to your aid. Our online platform offers the best solutions and tools for your company to thrive in every type of industry and any possible situation your organisation may find itself. In terms of lowering your employee turnover rates, we recommend our GR8 Full Spectrum assessment for hiring and 360° Survey for retention. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It requires deep knowledge of your own organisation’s culture and a keen understanding of the candidate’s personality, strengths, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you find employees who can flourish and reach the highest performance required to constantly bring your company forward.

Request a free demo:

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Sources:
HBR.org

Forbes.com

MarTechToday.com

Stupid Questions: Benefits and Importance

Carl Sagan has once stated that: “There are naïve questions, tedious questions, ill-phrased questions, questions put after inadequate self-criticism. But every question is a cry to understand the world. There is no such thing as a dumb question.”

How exactly can we define an imbecilic inquisition? More often than not people who ask this ‘sort’ of questions are viewed with a deliberate display of ignorance by a supposedly more intelligent being. Do questions become invalid when they are addressed by patients with mental disabilities? The answer is different from one person to another.

Throughout our lives, the perception of what represents a ‘good’ question may vary. Our teachers and professors have always encouraged smart thinking. However, how can we make smart inquiries if we do not even have the answers even to the simplest of questions? When children are incapable of differentiating between a simple question and a stupid one, they automatically develop the habit of self-censorship and, if not addressed, may transform into complete censorship. Due to this self-imposed censorship, we deprive ourselves of information and we leave all of our doubts unresolved.

We have to accept the idea that questions are questions and nothing else even though sometimes they may seem shrewd or silly. Questions enable us to ‘fuel’ our brain and boost our own reasoning and understanding. If we manage to get off the concept of ‘stupid questions’ early on in our lives, maybe we would see less and less silence during Q&As. Failure doing so will result in a generation without questions, without a voice and worst of all without any judgement.

It is recommended to allow ourselves and others as well to ask stupid questions, because, from a business point of view, they more often than not lead to out of the box ideas.

During the final stages of an interview, people may ask questions so this represents the perfect opportunity to ask how the business does things, due to the simple fact that you are ‘new entry’ and do not know anything. Interviewers should not judge, but actually, encourage candidates to ask as many questions as possible.

Unfortunately, as we grow and develop our ideas more and more we fall into the habit of not asking simple questions because of this transition from little knowledge to a vast amount of it, and when we have reached that stage in our lives when we’re supposed to be informed we stop asking the straightforward questions because you may think people will get the impression you do not really understand what your job consists of.

Ironically, these basic questions will help you improve your work rate and performance over time so it is crucial you don’t stop being curious. Doesn’t it make more sense to ask why in order to fully comprehend what is the motive for doing what you have been asked to?

Understandably, people tend to fall into the routine of their work, but actually, it’s important to question why for the most menial of tasks, because you don’t know where a question may lead you.

Basically, the principle is the same as watching customers using your product for the first time, because, in doing so, they will see things differently than you and the team behind it. A similar example would be when an external consultant has come to the workplace and starts to assess departments and find key areas where there is room for improvement.

Of course, people are generally afraid to ask stupid questions due to peer pressure. Furthermore, they may also lack the necessary self-confidence. Whatever the case may be, not asking simple questions can leave everyone missing out on your ideas and contribution as a team player. Below, you will find a few reasons to start asking questions.

1. Becoming more Open-minded

When someone asks a ‘dumb’ question, they acknowledge and accept the fact that they don’t have all the possible answers. In a way, they reveal that they don’t know everything, thus they start being regarded more open to being questioned. People who ask questions appear more approachable and authentic. As an added bonus, there is no air of superiority coming from these people.

By asking ‘stupid’ questions you make sure that you have all the necessary facts and data in order to make decisions with a higher percentage of success. This will transform you into a trustworthy person who inspires confidence.

Consequently, people around you will become more likely to ‘use’ you as a good listener. They will know you will take into consideration their ideas and that you will question them and offer your best and honest suggestions. Leaders value open and honest people.

2. A Broader Vision

Asking ‘stupid’ questions can lead to creative and out-of-the-box solutions to our many problems. A crazy wild idea or question may be totally off the charts but may inspire someone else to come up with something brilliant. They may find a solution perhaps not as eccentric as yours, but nonetheless, a solution that solves the issue one way or another.

When you have a vision or an idea for something you start to imagine what that might be. The second part of the vision is represented by the contingency plan aka plan B. If people question someone’s plan it should not be viewed as a ‘dumb’ thing to do. It is important to see this as an opportunity to explore various contingency plans.

3. Perception

More often than not the moment when a new process is being set up, people start asking questions about it and it may seem like they are resisting change or in some cases, question someone’s authority. However, blindly following rules and directions is not always a good idea as history offers us good examples. The organisation may suffer getting the expected results and not because the change itself was a bad one, but simply because the people who are implementing the change didn’t understand why they were doing it.

When employees blindly accept to follow a new initiative for a project there can be a damaging lack of clarity in terms of direction and motivation. Our brains are wired to take the path of least resistance which more often than not leads to peril. By getting ourselves rid of the fear of questioning and actually dare to ask the so-called ‘dumb’ questions we may ensure that we are all focused and on the same path.

There is a real value in providing companies with the tools to carry out regular organisational assessments and this is where Great People Inside comes to your aid. Our online platform offers the best solutions and tools for your company to thrive in every type of industry and any possible situation your organisation may find itself. In terms of lowering your employee turnover rates, we recommend our GR8 Full Spectrum assessment for hiring and 360° Survey for retention. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It requires deep knowledge of your own organisation’s culture and a keen understanding of the candidate’s personality, strengths, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you find employees who can flourish and reach the highest performance required to constantly bring your company forward.

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

 

https://medium.com/@rjd203/the-importance-of-asking-stupid-questions-e96ba6d9551c

https://nptribune.com/?p=931

https://networkingtimes.com/blog/2016/03/15/6-benefits-to-asking-dumb-questions/

Knowledge – The one and only Shortcut in the Professional Life

Many of you have probably already read at least a dozen articles that promised to reveal the secrets or shortcuts to a successful professional life. While most of those are definitely helpful, they seem to be rather some tips & tricks more than anything else.

Each and every one of us is different, has his own goals, his own little thing that wakes him up in the morning and even his own waking time (no, you don’t have to rise & shine every morning at 5 am in order to be successful). Adding on top of that, we do live in a VUCA world, where it is almost impossible to predict what’s going to happen next and how exactly you should prepare for it. So what can you make of all this? Well, first of all, that you won’t be able to find a “secret recipe to success” that is universally applicable, because there is no such thing. But then, what us is the only “tool” that will help you in this world, no matter the situation? The one thing that is needed in order to do almost anything else? If you haven’t guessed by now (or you haven’t even read the title of this article), the answer is knowledge.

And I’m talking about the real knowledge.

Nowadays, way too many people use some type of pseudo-knowledge, grabbed from the first Google link that you can find, in order to brag about their high intellect. That kind of knowledge might only be useful to be the center of attention at a networking event or maybe a party, but elsewhere it won’t bring you that many benefits.  As the genius physicist Richard Feynman wrote in his own autobiography: “You can know the name of that bird in all the languages of the world, but when you’re finished, you’ll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird. You’ll only know about humans in different places, and what they call the bird. … I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something.”

Therefore, how can you know that you really know something and not just its name?

First and foremost, you need a lot of time to gain that real knowledge that can help you in almost every aspect of your life.  Go find a subject that you enjoy. And read about it. A LOT. Enroll in courses that tackle that subject. Talk to the experts. Only then you might have a shot of having obtained real knowledge. Do you want to know if you actually made it? Feynman comes to the rescue again with his unique method of double checking your own understanding, called The Feynman Technique:

“Without using the new word which you have just learned, try to rephrase what you have just learned in your own language.”

Step 1

Write the name of the concept at the top of a blank piece of paper.

Step 2

Write down an explanation of the concept on the page. Use plain English. Pretend you are teaching it to someone else (e.g a new student or even a child). This should highlight what you understand, but more importantly pinpoint what you don’t quite know.

Step 3

Review what you have pinpointed you don’t know. Go back to the source material, re-read, and re-learn it. Repeat Step 2.

Step 4

If you are using overly wordy or confusing language (or simply paraphrasing the source material) try again so you filter the content. Simplify your language, and where possible use simple analogy.

 

Sources:

“The Feynman Technique Model” -Mattyford.com
“What do you care what other people think?” – Richard Feynman

2018 Technology Trends: The Reshaping of the Business World

We are at an interesting crossroad nowadays in regards to technology. All of the technological advancements we see around us on a daily basis have brought numerous changes to our way of life. The year 2018 will see an even greater focus on these types of advancements such as self-driving cars, drone deliveries and the rapidly evolving artificial intelligence (AI) programmes. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be a software engineer or computer scientist to become a leader in the digital revolution. What is even more vital is the ability to match technological solutions with existing business problems in innovative ways.

Given that people nowadays are using mobile apps, connected devices, wearables, social media and the list could go on and on – the level of engagement with brands is unprecedented by using a vast array of digital technologies. Given this increased level of engagement, a business’ success hinges more often than not on the organisation’s ability to create an enjoyable experience for their customers. It is also true that recent research unearthed a strong correlation between superior customer experiences and revenue growth.

The technical director for Google Cloud, Jamie Erbes, has said that: “Consumer expectations are at an all-time high, and the bar will keep rising through 2020,” and “People want products and services that offer a high level of personalisation and adapt to their lifestyle. When that doesn’t happen, they quickly move on.” Many organisations have already started to build a strong foundation for a better 2020 digital experience. So what exactly is going to change?

  1. Data is all around us and it keeps growing

We as people are ‘producing’ a fantastic amount of data as we go on with our lives. From Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to the digital footprint we create through the use of Netflix or Fitbit or even our connected systems at work. In case you were wondering, every second, 900,000 go on Facebook, 452,000 people post on Twitter, and 3.5 million people search for something on Google.

Given this fantastic rate of data creation means that every two years the amount of data is doubling. This is also known as Big Data. This massive explosion of data has made many other trends possible, and by learning how to tap into the insights will increase everyone’s prospects in just about any industry.

  1. Artificial Intelligence (AI)

The field of artificial intelligence or cognitive computing revolves around machines or computers that are capable of reproducing or mimicking ‘thinking’ in a similar way people do – especially when it comes down to learning. Being a computer certainly has its advantages meaning that if you teach them how to learn they will do so incredibly fast and, as an added bonus, with a greater degree of accuracy than any human being would be capable of. The indisputable result is that they will become more knowledgeable and capable and able of finding solutions to problems.

It has been predicted that by 2020 half of online searches will be done by voice with 30%(!) of them being made by using devices with no screen whatsoever. For example, this year, BMW will launch cars with Alexa pre-installed, just as Ford has done. Businesses will increasingly use AI assistants in order to manage daily schedules and offer us information when we need it. Going even further, some people are talking about the opportunity to drive sales through the use of chatbots and ‘natural’ language-capable marketing tools.

The days in which we were adding a customer’s name to marketing emails are behind us. The more customers feel treated like actual people, rather than just numbers with money, the more connected they feel to the companies that serve them.

  1. Blockchain

Blockchain represents the distributed, encrypted and ledger behind the now famous cryptocurrency Bitcoin. However, it has uses far beyond making people interested in cryptocurrencies filthy rich. Experts have been saying that it represents a giant leap forward towards information storage and security. Simply put, a blockchain is a digital file in which blocks of information are connected to one another (or ‘chained’ together) and is secured through private key cryptography, making sure that only those with the right permit may edit only the sections of data they are entitled to. In other words, anyone capable of ‘installing’ blockchain technology to current business problems is very likely to find this particular skill in very high demand.

As people become more involved and vigilant about social responsibility and online security, blockchain will become tremendously important. For the organisations that actually have a nice story to tell, it will definitely be a valuable way through which transparency can be created and also building a brand in a way it was never thought possible before.

  1. Public Cloud

As mentioned earlier, the amount of data we create is doubling every two years. According to a recent study done by International Data Corporation, between the years 2016 and 2020, the worldwide spending on public cloud services will more than double, reaching a figure of $195 billion.

It will be a difficult and tedious task to move companies towards the adoption of public cloud services, but in order to advance IT departments and leaders will have to spearhead this necessary move.

After a couple of years in the training phase, IT employees should be ready to work side-by-side with their marketing colleagues in order to implement technologies such as AI, blockchain, and public cloud into the real world. Whether companies are ready for it or not, the technological advancements are going to be put into action. To keep moving forward, these are the top trends that organisations worldwide cannot ignore in the coming years, whether they understand them or not and they will have to be implemented so that they won’t be left behind.

We have an impressive assessment library with hundreds of dimensions that can be leveraged in creating a custom skills-based assessment that supports your organisation’s specific competencies and unique vision. Please contact us if you need to measure the engagement level in your company.

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Sources:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2018/01/15/5-technology-trends-that-will-make-or-break-many-careers-in-2018/#71d22ce63a86

https://www.forbes.com/sites/danielnewman/2017/12/27/top-5-tech-trends-that-cmos-cannot-ignore-in-2018/#7405b7503552

https://cloud.withgoogle.com/build/leadership/technology-trends-cios-need-2018/

 

Work-Life Balance for Parents: Is it Achievable?

Work-life balance has become an obsession for everyone nowadays. There are numerous articles, research papers and self-help books that are offering people advice on how to begin or develop a better balance between their personal and work lives. Unfortunately, the advice given in these reading materials are generally focused on the idea of making changes on individual levels, team expectations in relation to your job attributes or even organisational contexts that affect you only.

In a research paper published recently by Human Relations, they have discovered that our very own upbringing can have a powerful influence on our career and life decisions. Subconsciously, we learn and mirror our parents’ behaviour in terms of work-life balance. The research conducted by Human Relations had 148 in-depth interviews with around 80 parents working in London for law and accounting companies. An equal number of men and women were interviewed with ages ranging from 30 to 50 years old and with positions in middle or upper management roles. In the case of male participants in the study, the majority of them had a stay-at-home wife, but in the case of female participants, this wasn’t the case at all. It is also important to know that most of the participants were coming from middle-class families who were typically formed from a stay-at-home mother and a working father.

The principles and ideas they share are in a direct correlation with the deeply ingrained routines and ideas coming straight from their parents.

Replicating the Parental Model

The majority of male participants have been reported to have a work-life balance similar to the family they grew up in. Like their fathers before them, these men are the sole breadwinners in their household. This has made them internalise the work ethic and has ended with them working very long hours. As mentioned above this effect was stronger for men, due to the fact that both men and women in the study have designated the same-sex parent as their role-model.

Given the fact that these people have seen their parents working hard throughout their childhood and adolescence, their professional careers were inclined to follow in the same footsteps. Although they were able to rationalise and acknowledge the fact that their compulsive work ethic had negative effects on their personal lives it was very difficult for them to change their behaviour both on and off work. Even remotely trying to act divergently, this ‘pre-disposition’ continued to be seen in their actions.

Breaking Off the Parental Model

Worryingly enough, there are fewer cases in which participants have said that they have rejected their parents’ work-life balance. In most cases, this was an intentional act of breaking the ‘status-quo’, but there were a few cases in which participants wanted to distance themselves from their parents’ model even though they wanted to follow up in their footsteps.

Like every human being on this planet, some participants have started to question the influence their parents have had on them, after pondering on failures, regrets or traumatic experiences they might have picked up along their adult life (i.e. a close friend or relative getting sick). After such an experience, participants had a tendency to overhaul their entire schedule and refuse to no longer work weekends or even leaving their employer and finding themselves an environment with a more manageable schedule.

In the case of women, there were two groups that were identified as serious in their significance: women who wanted to be more close to their families because they had workaholic mothers and women who wanted to be more actively involved in the workforce due to their regret-filled stay-at-home mothers.

Parents who actually manage to achieve a rewarding work-life balance do not designate all their time and effort into making their children happy. Interestingly enough, these parents strive on raising children with a strong sense of responsibility who will eventually grow into respectable and responsible adults. These are the parents who ask their kids to help around the house by giving them chores. They establish a clear set of consequences if the kids do not follow through with their tasks. By enabling their children to value hard work and also, this being of quintessential importance, experience disappointment, their personal development will be more easily done.

Neglecting Themselves

Adults often forget about taking care of themselves. This statement is even truer when you’re a parent. It may very well be a cliché, but more often than not clichés are true so it is pretty clear that if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to help the closest people to you. Sometimes it may seem near impossible to have some well-deserved ‘me time’, especially if your schedule throughout the day has left you overtired or stretched to the very last drop of energy.

There are a few successful parents in the study that have discovered that taking care of themselves offers them the best chance at being efficient and productive over long periods of time. Relaxation and sleep may be essential, but exercise plays a decisive role nowadays. Physical activity not only improves overall health levels, but it is the key towards finding the right balance between work and family time.

Post-Work Guilt

Somewhat surprising, many parents wouldn’t want to be working full-time, but unfortunately, the current economic and social climate doesn’t offer the possibility of one to stay home or even work part-time. 44% of working mothers have reported they would be thrilled about the idea of working part-time. As mentioned above, this would not be financially feasible. Parents who succeed in today’s working environment have ridden themselves of guilt over the fact that they are working full-time. They feel there is no point in wasting time and energy over-thinking this problem. Coming up with the best plan for their scenario seems like the next best thing (i.e. working flexible hours, full-time job with kids somehow has to work).

Great People Inside provides easy-to-use tools and processes to attract, assess, match, select, onboard, manage, develop, benchmark and maintain workforces anywhere in the world.

Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It requires deep knowledge of your own organisation’s culture and a keen understanding of the candidate’s personality, strengths, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you find employees who can flourish and reach the highest performance required to constantly bring your company forward.

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

https://www.inc.com/amy-morin/the-5-things-successful-parents-give-up-to-reach-a-work-life-balance.html

https://www.forbes.com/sites/amymorin/2014/01/20/the-five-things-successful-working-parents-give-up-to-reach-a-work-life-balance/#59e263a157ea

https://hbr.org/2017/10/your-feelings-about-work-life-balance-are-shaped-by-what-you-saw-your-parents-do

Emotional Control during Difficult Conversations

It’s hard not to get emotionally involved when you’re in a tense conversation. A disagreement can feel like a threat. You might be afraid of having to give up something — the idea that you’re right, your point of view, the way you’re used to doing something, or even power – and therefore your body hypes you up for a fight by triggering your sympathetic nervous system.  There is no need to feel guilty, this is the natural response, but the main problem is that our bodies and minds aren’t good at differentiating the threats presented by not getting your way on a job-related issue and being chased down by a wolf. Your heart and breathing start to spike, your muscles tighten, the blood flow from your organs decreases, and thus you’re likely to experience an uncomfortable all-around feeling.

All of these combined does not put in the right frame of mind of resolving a conflict. If your body goes into what Dan Goleman would call “amygdala hijack,” you may lose access to the prefrontal cortex, the all-important part of your brain responsible for rational thinking. Obviously, you need rational thinking when dealing with a difficult conversation. Due to the fact that you are losing the ability to think clearly, chances are your conversation counterpart notices these signs of stress — your face turning red or the pace of your speech speeding up — and as a result of mirror neurons that cause us to apprehend the emotions of another person, your colleague is likely to start feeling the same way. Consequently, the conversation inevitably derails and the conflict intensifies.

Every manager fears emotional outbursts. Whether we’re talking about tears or full-on rage, the full extent of emotions can leave both the manager and the employee feeling embarrassed and stressed. How can you manage to stay calm and at the same time get your point across? How do you prepare yourself? Can you somehow minimise the chances of an employee getting emotional? Learning to handle emotional conversations in a productive way is the mark of a true manager.

Luckily, there are ways in which you can interrupt this physical response and manage your emotions, for a more productive discussion. There are several things you can do to keep your cool during a conversation or to calm yourself down. It is essential you start off with a positive. Especially if you think the conversation is likely to be emotional, plan to start with a positive. This will set the tone for the entire conversation and can help the employee engage with what you’re saying later, even if it’s hard to digest.

Breathe

Through simple mindfulness techniques, you can manage tense situations and none is more straightforward than using your breath. If you start noticing you’re getting tense, try to focus on breathing pattern. Acknowledge the sensation of air coming in and out of your lungs. Feel how it passes through your nostrils or down the back of your throat. This will take your attention off the signs of panic. Some mindfulness experts suggest counting your breath.

Acknowledge and define your feelings

Another useful tactic comes from the renowned author of Emotional Agility, Susan David. When you start feeling emotional “the attention you give towards your thoughts and feelings may crowd your mind and judgement,” says Susan David. In order to distance yourself from that feeling, define it. “Call a thought a thought and an emotion an emotion,” says the author.  When you manage to distance yourself from these emotions, thus making it easier to let them go — but don’t bury them or let them explode later. Sometimes expressing your emotions is all that’s needed to make an employee feel like they’ve been heard. If tears are involved, empathy is the recommended course of action. If your employee is angry, acknowledge and understand their frustration, but if that anger becomes insulting, calmly make it clear that you will not tolerate violent language or threatening behaviour.

Take a break

This is an underused approach. The more time you give yourself to process your emotions, the less intense they will be. So when things start escalating, just excuse yourself for a moment — get some coffee or water, go to the bathroom, or take a brief stroll through the office. It is essential to give a neutral reason for why you want to pause the conversation — the last thing you want is for the other person to think that things are going so badly you just want to escape.

Keep in mind that you’re probably not the only one who’s upset or angry. Your counterpart may very well express anger or frustration. While you may want to give them the above advice, no one wants to be told they need to breathe more deeply or take a break. You both may require just a little bit of time alone to vent. Of course, that’s usually easier said than done. It’s difficult not to yell back when you’re being screamed at, but more screaming isn’t going to help. At the same time, don’t act aloof because it’s important to show the other person that you’re listening. If you manage not to feed your counterpart’s negative emotion with your own, it becomes more plausible for them to calm down.

Keep your impatience in check

Finally, the demon you will have to wrestle the most with is your own impatience for getting the result you want. You will need to be patient and let the situation unfold itself. When you think you know exactly what is wrong with the other person’s thinking, your best approach is to ask them questions that will enable them to see other possibilities, ones that are much closer to your point of view. Don’t slip and tell people what is wrong with their thinking, because their brains will shut down and you have to be patient with silence. Silence is a good indicator that what you said or asked made the person stop and think about their ideas and arguments. The best thing you can do is to be patient and allow the person’s brain to process the information.

Don’t take it personally. Watch out for your own defensive mechanism, especially if the employee has said something in the heat of the moment. Remember that frustration is usually the cause of such outbursts at the office. You’re not going to solve the underlying issues or maintain a positive relationship if you barrel through the conversation when you’re completely worked up.

We have an impressive assessment library with hundreds of dimensions that can be leveraged in creating a custom skills-based assessment that supports your organisation’s specific competencies and unique vision. Please contact us if you need to measure the engagement level in your company.

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Sources:

https://hbr.org/2017/12/how-to-control-your-emotions-during-a-difficult-conversation

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20141028170158-2763533-how-to-manage-your-emotions-in-difficult-conversations/

https://www.insperity.com/blog/10-tips-for-keeping-your-cool-during-emotional-conversations-with-employees/

 

Building Trust and Credibility with your Customers

Customers’ happiness is always going to be tricky to achieve and maintain. Although the global economy is growing and thriving in certain industries, Forrester, a market research firm, has discovered that companies shouldn’t rest on their laurels. In fact, according to the Forrester report for 2018 that next year will be a “year of reckoning” for many brands as they face the facts that consumers might not love them as much.

Interestingly enough, customer experience scores have stalled in recent years, without a single brand improving their trust and experience scores from 2016.

One of the main reasons for the halt in customer experience is that clients are interacting with brands more often. More interactions mean more opportunities in building brand loyalty, but it equally provides more opportunities to create unhappy customers, which is what seems to happen. Customer confidence is at a high level at the moment, which means they are more than willing to spend, but unfortunately they don’t trust the vast majority of companies. Customer experience is one of the best ways in which to boost trust. Top survey responses say treating employees well is what drives the experience and helps customers trust a brand, offering the best services and listening to customers concerns and issues.

The Forrester report also revealed that personalised companies will thrive. Instead of trying to serve everyone, brands will have to learn from successful of companies like Facebook and Starbucks and start serving a more narrow set of customers. The most successful companies realise they can deliver more value by focusing on the unique needs of specific customer segments instead of trying to provide everything to everyone. Companies that are suffering in their customer experience scores are Walmart and Amazon due to their numerous products and services.

Transparency Is Crucial

Transparency is a core competency that should no doubt come naturally. Yet so many businesses are struggling coming to terms with what it really means.

Customers and clients are smart and they know when you’re being truthful or when you’re trying to trick them. Honesty is the best policy and they’ll appreciate and admire your company even more when you admit to a mistake or avoiding the topic altogether.

It is recommended that you don’t try to cover up errors. Discuss about the matter at hand, explain how you wish to handle it and thoroughly explain what steps are being taken to prevent any future errors. To implement transparency effectively leading by example is quintessential. Your employees will admire you even more for being honest.

Consistency Brings Harmony

Consistency goes hand in hand perfectly with maintaining great service. Strong internal expectations lead to great external results.

From a business point of view, consistency should exist in every aspect of what the company does:

  • Employees should provide equivalent levels of service.
  • Equipped with all the tools it needs, your sales team should address questions and queries in the same way.
  • The company should stay on course with the current state of products and services, rather than constantly shifting gears to try new tactics or initiatives.

Develop a powerful measurement in order to assess whether something is working. If it isn’t viable anymore, there should already exist a plan B or C.

From a leadership standpoint, consistent performance shows employees what you expect from them. For example, if you miss a meeting without a good reason, don’t be surprised if they consider doing the same when interest serves them.

Great Service Matters

According to the survey done by Concerto Marketing Group and Research Now, when customers have faith in a brand, 83% of them will recommend that specific organisation to others and 82% will continue to use that brand on a regular basis. Although there is hardly any mention about the time you went above and beyond for a client, you’ll definitely hear from the displeased ones if you failed to make a deadline or delivered a product that didn’t operate by the books.

Earning the trust of a customer with great service is an essential first step. How would you want to be treated if you were the client? The hard truth is that service should come naturally, instead of being strategically planned. The more you plan for great service, the less time you’ll actually have to deliver it.

Sure, there will be times when you’ve tried your best and can’t seem to make any headway with a particular problem. But you want to strive for responsiveness and always exceed expectations.

Sealing the Deal

Maintaining solid business relationships does not mean your customers or clients have to like you. Everyone wants to be liked but it is impossible to be liked by every person you come in contact with. However, creating customers and clients for life is more about them entrusting you to deliver on your promises. It takes a lot of effort, but in the end your hard work will pay off again and again, with repeat business, even more referrals and knowing you met and exceeded your customers’ expectations.

Organizations with great customer relationships are able to grow their businesses without tricks, fee cuts or special treatment. You have to be good at what you do, obviously, but having a truly successful business is based on one very simple concept: trust. With trust, you’ll have clients and customers for life. Without trust, you may as well pack your bags and go home. Building trust takes time and a lot of hard work. But is entirely feasible if you and your team work on three of the most important core competencies: service, consistency and transparency.

We have an impressive assessment library with hundreds of dimensions that can be leveraged in creating a custom skills-based assessment that supports your organisation’s specific competencies and unique vision. Please contact us if you need to measure the engagement level in your company.

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Sources:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesfinancecouncil/2017/11/13/ten-ways-to-build-trust-with-new-and-existing-clients/#75edfdda4b0b

https://www.forbes.com/sites/yec/2014/04/22/three-ways-to-build-customer-trust/#5e32c56f22b8

https://www.forbes.com/sites/blakemorgan/2017/11/14/consumer-trust-at-an-all-time-low-says-forrester-in-their-most-recent-report/#607e348c1a19

Successful Brainstorming: Possibility or Hoax?

In terms of brainstorming, people often tend to forget that in order for it to be achieved the answer is quantity, not quality. Brainstorming represents the essential first step in early stages of a new project, so it is crucial that everyone understands how important it is to be open towards all ideas and variables. Naturally, issues occur when team members feel the need to filter themselves from potentially good ideas that they may seem far-fetched or just simply because they are afraid of rejection and embarrassment.

Another common misconception about brainstorming is that employees and managers alike believe it can be done only in a certain way: the evergreen group discussion with everyone involved. It is not necessarily the worst idea, but it can have major drawbacks from a creative point of view. There is a general tendency that during these meetings, the first two ideas that get bounced around tend to be the focus of the entire meeting. In a recent study on traditional brainstorming methods, it has been discovered the fact that only a handful of people do approximately 60-75% of the talking. Logically, it can prevent other ideas from being discussed.

How to Make Brainstorming Better

There are many ideas through which brainstorming sessions can become more practical, based on individual creativity, idea generation and a better meeting experience. The following strategies will help your organisation’s brainstorming.

1. Select only necessary employees: Choose the people you need for a brainstorming session. If the meeting is filled with people who have no relation to the nature of the discussion, their contribution and participation will be zero. Moreover, more people mean a higher level of difficulty in passing along ideas given the fact that people may exhibit anxiety in explaining their ideas. A manager’s best bet here is the creative individuals who can actually carry the discussion in a productive manner.

2. Brief sessions: It is as clear as day that shorter meetings are more efficient. The current tradition is for a meeting to last for an hour. However, shortening the meeting time will entice people to bring ideas to the table much faster with a healthy disregard to keeping some ideas for themselves. Normally, a meeting shouldn’t be any longer than 30 minutes. Managers can always do follow-up meetings to discuss leftover ideas or if the schedule is too hectic then the recommendation is individual brainstorming time.

3. “Bad” ideas are welcomed: Managers should encourage their employees to speak their mind. Good ideas “happen” after a lot of other ideas have been bounced off at the meeting table. People should understand the fact that there is a very fine line between good and bad ideas. From a managers point of view all ideas are welcomed given the obvious fact that it will lead to the best solution in the end.


Read also: What Makes a Great CPO


4. Brain Writing: The general principle of this technique is to separate idea generation from actually talking. The manager shares the topic with the team, and the team members individually write down their ideas. This helps eliminate anchoring and encourages everyone on the team to share their own ideas. It also gives everyone more time to think over their ideas, which is especially helpful for your introverted participants. This brainstorming technique works best for teams who seem to be greatly influenced by the first ideas presented during a meeting. When you get your team to brainstorm ideas individually, away from distraction and public opinion, concepts are generated that may not naturally surface when in a larger setting. Individual brainstorming techniques such as this will often give you more unique ideas than when the group is left to think up topic ideas.

 5. Online Brainstorming: These days, virtual teams are becoming more and more common across all industries. The evolution of email and collaboration tools makes working remotely the norm in some organisations. Having a central location online where team members can collaborate is crucial for these virtual teams — talking here about cloud-based document storage or an online collaboration tool. One of those brainstorming exercises for groups involves using an online mind-mapping tool to answer very specific questions or simply to generate ideas that might be tangential to the main problem. What other ideas surround this concept? Map these examples out, visually.

 

We have an impressive assessment library with hundreds of dimensions that can be leveraged in creating a custom skills-based assessment that supports your organisation’s specific competencies and unique vision. Please contact us if you need to measure the engagement level in your company.

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Sources:

https://www.wrike.com/blog/techniques-effective-brainstorming/

https://www.inc.com/larry-alton/5-strategies-for-team-brainstorming-to-use-in-your-next-meeting.html

https://www.inc.com/kat-boogaard/4-easy-tips-to-improve-your-brainstorming-sessions.html

Presentation Mistakes: Why it Happens and How to Solve It

At some point in your life, you must have experienced this unfortunate event. You are halfway through your presentation and things are going amazing. Your speech is fluent, the audience is engaged and you are feeling confident. But, somehow, your mind draws a blank. And your mind starts racing: “Oh no, things are getting bad! What was I about to say?”

If you relate in any way to this situation, you obviously know how awkward and cringe that feeling can be. It is also difficult to regain your rhythm. So the question now beckons; what can you do to avoid this mental mishap? Fortunately for everyone, there are a few tricks you can use and they will follow in the list below.

  1. Oversimplification isn’t helpful

Regularly, keeping things simple is one first public-speaking strategies you can follow, but there is a limit to simplicity as well. For example, if you are looking for one word or phrase to best explain various ideas you may not select the right one. Consequently, your thoughts get tangled, and your mind has to go through the whole process of unravelling each idea and then try to put them back together in the appropriate order.

Sometimes, all you need to get baffled during a presentation is to forget or cannot find the right word. This usually happens when people are trying to compress 2-3 ideas into one. That is where the mind can no longer cope. When preparing for a presentation it is essential you pinpoint every main idea and afterwards search for explicit language in order to convey it. Oversimplifying can make people struggle during a presentation in which everyone is paying attention to them.

  1. Never mention how many points you are going to make

This one is one of the most common mistakes out there. People should avoid telling the public how many points they are going to make because once the audience has a number in their head, be assured they will be counting. Being prone to mistakes due to our human nature, you may forget which exact point you were talking about and will have to encounter that awkward silence trying to remember where you left off.

In terms of strategies, people should also avoid using terms and idioms such as: “first of all”, “secondly”, “third” etc. It is recommended you keep things a little bit ambiguous by saying: “One of our strategies”, “Another one of our strategies” and so on and so forth. If you manage to keep out numerical terms from your speech you are helping your mind avoid going blank.

  1. Keep your rhythm

If you happen to stumble during your speech, do not get stuck trying to make it right. There are speakers out there that once they mispronounce a word their next thought is completely deleted from their “system” due to the simple fact that they thought about their mistake. In order to get passed the “system” failure all you have to do is reconnect with your speech rhythm. Start by breathing. When people breathe, they have the opportunity to get the body back in sync and from that their thoughts will start flowing again.

Drawing a blank is nothing to be scared or ashamed of. It happens to absolutely everyone and it doesn’t mean that you are not cut out to be a speaker. A true speaker is the one who knows how to make mistakes less often and how to recover quickly when it happens.

  1. Technical difficulties

There is nothing worse than sitting around and waiting for a presenter to figure out how to make the projector or clicker works or even worse, listening to a presentation without visual aids because he or she couldn’t make it work. Be prepared to connect to anything. Know beforehand the kind of projector, the size of the screen, and the layout of the room so you can be prepared for anything.

  1. Disorganised presentation

When people have to make a presentation, most people open up PowerPoint and start making slides.  That is a really bad idea. At first, use sticky notes to prepare your presentation’s story. It will save you loads of time and make your presentation more organised. Plus, if you want to create an emotional response in your audience use full-screen pictures. The text should just be used for facts. Animations are fun for the person making the presentation, but they don’t usually add anything valuable to it.

It is as clear as day that mistakes are inevitable; there will be a point in everyone’s career when they will have to make a presentation. Of course, for some people, public speaking is their opportunity to shine, but for others, it may seem like the perfect nightmare. Wherever you think you may have a problem, these tricks will help you develop your presentation skills.

Great People Inside provides easy-to-use tools and processes to attract, assess, match, select, onboard, manage, develop, benchmark and maintain workforces anywhere in the world.

Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It requires deep knowledge of your own organisation’s culture and a keen understanding of the candidate’s personality, strengths, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you find employees who can flourish and reach the highest performance required to constantly bring your company forward.

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/239443

https://www.fastcompany.com/40478112/heres-how-to-avoid-drawing-a-blank-in-the-middle-of-your-presentation

https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/presentation-mistakes.htm

Innovation through Failure

For the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, every practice session ends up with something a little bit surprising and that the analysis of their mistakes. The pilots do not congratulate each other on their training achievements, but rather say what they did wrong in front of the whole group and how they plan to fix that issue. Even though they are expert aviators, the Blue Angels do not allow their pride to come in the way of further improvement. Their approach is meant to strengthen ownership, to encourage the desire of being better and also coming up with a plan for it as well.

Failure is often seen as inevitable, but the way in which it should be viewed is invaluable. Failure is common in all industries, economic situations and market trends; it is one of life’s best philosophies. If your employees do not fear failure, they have a very good chance of succeeding. Fear is a very powerful component of the human mind, it makes people disengage, panic and pull out of possibly prolific business opportunities. The past cannot be fixed, but learning from past experiences can enable employees into harnessing a strong sense of innovation. Here are just a few tips through which companies can enable their workers to be more innovative.

  1. Creating an innovation prone environment

This has to start right from the very top. CEOs and CFOs have to start creating an internal ecosystem in which innovation can flourish. In order to begin garnering innovation, there has to be a clear vision of what the company wishes to achieve and how innovation is at the very heart of it. Leadership teams within the organisation have to figure out the right way in which employees can be motivated and inspired in order for them to deliver on any innovative ideas the company may want to implement.

Of course, selection and recruitment play a very important role in this matter. The HR department has to recruit the right candidates, people who are well-trained on how to come up with ideas and to properly establish what kind of tools and resources they require in order to create, test and receive feedback from customers. All of these processes together help create an innovative culture. An organisation that tries out a lot of ideas will definitely encounter failure but chances are, success is closer than ever. Due to the fact that companies have numerous initiatives, they improve their chances that one of them will be a major score.

  1. Outside-the-box thinking and aggressiveness

Usually, the basic culture of a team promotes safe-playing. In layman’s terms, be on time, try not to upset the hierarchy, follow the group norms and have a steady paycheck. This type of model is clearly an innovation killer and can put an organisation light years behind the competition. For example, entrepreneurs have never been people who play it safe. Also, they praise employees within their organisation that actually do something and are outside-the-box thinkers. Managers have to make sure their teams do not rest on their laurels because there is no such as thing as a one-size-fits-all game plan. It is essential that entrepreneurs and managers empower their workers to come forward with their ideas, to present their action plan and put it into practice afterwards.

Of course mistakes and odd product releases may happen but that is simply part of the business world as we know it. In the 1950s, the Jacuzzi brothers invented a whirlpool bathtub in order to treat people with arthritis. Even though the product worked in the way it was intended, from a sales point of view it was a total bust. Unfortunately for them, their target market was small, due to the simple fact that not a lot of people could afford expensive bathtubs. The idea was killed immediately after but was relaunched in a completely different market – luxury item for the rich. Obviously, it was an instant hit.

In 1959, Honda Motor Company entered the US market with their range of low-powered motorcycles. Things were going from bad to worse for Honda, as it learned in a very cruel way that what was tremendously popular in Tokyo suburb areas was a complete flop on American soil. After a while, they came back in the US with high-powered bikes that became an instant success. The founder of Honda, Soichiro Honda had this to say: “Many people dream of success. Success can only be achieved through repeated failure and introspection. Success represents the one percent of your work that results from the 99 percent that is called failure.”

Great deals of successes have been failures in the beginning. What today may seem like a logical invention that was meant exactly for that purpose, this is not always the case. People have to ready to fail; success cannot be achieved without gaining all the necessary variables from a problem. At Penn State University, there is a course for engineering students which is called Failure 101. The sole purpose of this class is for students to take risks and do as many experiments as possible. The more fails they have it gets them that much closer to an A grade.

Another great example is Christopher Columbus. He set out to discover a new and easier route to India. He landed in America and the rest is history. Pfizer scientists were testing a drug called Viagra which was meant to reduce high blood pressure. After further investigations it lead to the discovery of the effects it had on men, thus making Viagra one of the most successful failures in recent history. Another great example is regarding champagne. It was invented by a monk called Dom Perignon and it happened when a bottle of wine had fermented twice. 3M invented glue that wasn’t sticky enough. However, it was the basis for the invention of our daily used Post-it notes.

A leader who thrives on innovation will always encourage a culture of experimentation. People must learn that every failure they encounter is another step closer towards the road to success. Allow your employees to have the necessary freedom to innovate, to experiment and to be successful. All in all, it means allowing them the freedom to fail as well.

Great People Inside provides easy-to-use tools and processes to attract, assess, match, select, onboard, manage, develop, benchmark and maintain workforces anywhere in the world.

Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It requires deep knowledge of your own organisation’s culture and a keen understanding of the candidate’s personality, strengths, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you find employees who can flourish and reach the highest performance required to constantly bring your company forward.

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/294673

https://www.forbes.com/sites/karenhigginbottom/2017/08/03/why-the-ability-to-fail-leads-to-innovation/#5bfd624a36f6

http://www.innovationmanagement.se/imtool-articles/failure-is-the-mother-of-innovation/