Overcoming Negativity in the Workplace

Negativity takes a toll on many aspects of the workplace. It affects everything from engagement to productivity, and even affects employee retention. No one likes to work in a toxic work environment, period. Combating negativity is not an insurmountable challenge; you just have to go about it in a strategic manner. The days of gathering around the water cooler have moved online, adding another challenge as people can hide behind screens and think less about the impact of their words and actions.

Workplace negativity disrupts productivity. It creates a place where employees dread coming to work, and employees who harbour negative attitudes about work can be toxic workers with performance issues. Employees who continually express negative opinions about the company and their co-workers may need strict counselling to modify their behaviour and attitudes. Attention to employee dissatisfaction is a sure way to overcome negativity in the workplace, however. Giving employees the opportunity to express their feelings about the workplace and helping them resolve issues that cause negativity are effective management methods.

How is it that just one discordant colleague, a single voice of negativity in a business unit or project team that is upbeat and enthusiastic, can cast such a long shadow on group morale? How does one bad apple always seem to spoil the whole bunch?

The power of bad also explains why it is so hard to sustain innovation over the long term, even when things are going well. It turns out that the impact on morale of even a small setback — a project that goes over budget, a product that does not deliver particularly well — can overwhelm all the successes that surround it. In order to overcome a setback, it usually needs 4 good things to happen.

Researchers have documented the positive impact of “social support” — friends, colleagues, neighbours who pump you up and cheer you on. Researchers have also documented the negative impact of “social undermining” — people who gossip, carry grudges, and otherwise bring you down. Not surprisingly, “Social undermining was found to have a bigger impact than social support.” So leaders with great ideas and good intentions won’t stand a chance of succeeding unless they are going to remove the bad apples within their department or organisation.

No Criticism, but Education

Too often our reaction to seeing or experiencing a negative or unfavourable behaviour is to do one of two things – ignore it or complain about it. These are natural reactions, yet they’re decidedly counterproductive. To make an impact and enact change, you have to take action and educate people. Call out negative actions when you see them, but remember that criticism isn’t taking action. You need to educate people on how they transform negative behaviours in a positive way.

Many negative behaviours are unintentional and go unnoticed by the individual. Frequent interrupters often don’t realize how disruptive they are. People making insensitive comments might think they’re being funny. Let them know how their behaviour is resulting in a negative impact. Show them the direct consequences of their actions and help them change. In the same line, be aware of your own behaviours and model positive actions whenever possible.

Speak Up

Take a stand against negativity and make your voice heard. You can’t create change by staying silent. Have conversations that address any negative behaviors you witness. Question why we’re allowing those negative behaviors to happen in the first place. Just because a negative action has been allowed or people have looked the other way in the past doesn’t mean it has to be that way forever. Have the difficult conversations. Stand up for what you believe in and push for change.

Don’t Address the Problem On your own

If you observe negative behaviour, chances are you aren’t the only one witnessing it. Find others who are willing to speak up. One voice makes a ripple, a group of voices creates waves, and many voices produce a tsunami. Find as many people as you can – there’s strength in numbers. Use that power in numbers to drive change at a faster pace. The more people you can get to be on the lookout for negative behaviours, the quicker you’ll see the changes in the workplace.

Ultimately, the good news is that bad news doesn’t have to drag down your company or your team. But it does require all of us, as executives, entrepreneurs, and change agents, to infuse well-designed strategies with a healthy dose of psychology. In business, as in life, it’s hard to get to the good unless you overcome the power of bad.

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://smallbusiness.chron.com/overcome-negativity-workplace-11532.html
https://www.forbes.com/sites/ashiraprossack1/2018/07/24/how-to-overcome-negativity-in-the-workplace/#19a519f641fe
https://trainingindustry.com/articles/strategy-alignment-and-planning/5-ways-to-overcome-negativity-in-the-workplace/

Is Praise The Best Way To Motivate Employees?

It is fair to say that society has reached a point in which excessive praise is being offered to the rich and powerful. The upper tiers of our present society have been showered with awards, honours and superstar status. Billionaires and philanthropists alike are massively applauded for their work and charities which turn out to have very little impact on the world. The effects of this practice of praising excessively are worth taking into account and raise some concerns. By praising people, even though they deserve it can have a negative impact on how they behave.

Numerous psychological studies have been done on this subject and they have demonstrated that people are highly responsive to moral compensation. In layman terms, this means that when people feel they have acted well, they also feel that it gives them permission to engage in negative behaviours in the future. The reverse works the same way. If more and more studies come out and prove the accuracy of the aforementioned studies then humanity can practically see the social consequences of praise and/or blame. Too much praise could lead people to act badly, whilst blaming them when they make mistakes could lead to positive behaviour. So how many influential, wealthy and powerful people does the world need to harm society irreversibly?

Every organisation knows that culture without revenue is not feasible or sustainable. If a company wouldn’t be growing financially, there would be a complete shift in culture. It is important to have fun, but it’s never in first place. In order to get the best out of employees it is recommended to explain your expectations from them since day one. If employees understand the culture and how success is determined, they will be off to a flying start.

However, giving feedback remains one of the most difficult things a manager has to do. In a survey which amounted 7,631 people, 44% of them agreed that giving their employees negative reviews is difficult and stressful. Some quotes from the managers interviewed have surfaced the negative impact it has on them: “I just wanted to get it over quickly”, “They don’t pay me enough to do this”, “I did not sleep the night before” and “My hands were sweating and I was nervous”. Given the anxiety managers are facing when they have to offer negative feedback, 21% admitted that they avoid giving the negative feedback altogether.

In a comparative study 328 managers’ self-assessments were correlated with results from 360-degree feedback surveys. Each leader was rated by an average of 13 respondents on a variety of behaviours, including “Gives honest feedback in a helpful way.” The ones who rated that thought a person was effective in giving feedback were most influenced by the leader’s comfort and willingness to give positive reinforcement. Whether the manager gave negative feedback did not make a big difference — unless the leader avoided giving positive feedback. This was also true when we looked only at the ratings of direct reports.

When the study looked into the managers’ self-assessments, however, there was a totally changed point of view. There was a strong correlation between people who believe they give “honest, straightforward” feedback and those who give negative feedback, regardless of whether they also give positive feedback.

Leaders obviously carry some incorrect beliefs about the value and benefits of different forms of feedback. They vastly underestimate the power and necessity of positive reinforcement. However, in reverse, they greatly overestimate the value and benefit of negative or corrective feedback. In all, they misjudge the impact negative feedback has on how they are perceived by their colleagues, bosses, and direct reports. Giving only negative feedback diminishes a leader’s effectiveness in the eyes of others and does not have the effect they believe it has.

Perhaps in an effort to provide employees with what they believe is direct, honest feedback, managers who prefer giving negative feedback may come across as only looking for what’s wrong. Some employees have described this as, “Quick to criticise and slow to praise.” While the findings do not directly reveal why managers are so hesitant to give positive feedback, the study that involved the leaders suggests that there could be a variety of reasons. Perhaps it starts with the perception that the really good managers are the tough graders who are not afraid to tell people what’s wrong. Possibly they believe that giving people positive feedback will encourage a subordinate to let up or coast. Maybe they are emulating their prior bosses who gave little praise, but who pointed out any mistake or weakness. Some may believe it a sign of weakness to praise subordinates. Maybe they just don’t know how to effectively deliver appreciation or praise. Or maybe they intend to give kudos, but feel so busy that the days slip by and they never quite remember to send out that note of praise for a job well done.

In conclusion, the findings suggest that if you want to be seen as a good feedback-giver, you should proactively develop the skill of giving praise as well as criticism. Giving positive feedback shows your direct reports that you are in their corner, and that you want them to win and to succeed. Once people know you are their advocate, it should also make giving criticism less stressful and more effective.

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://www.inc.com/tom-gimbel/why-praising-your-staff-might-be-the-most-dangerous-thing-you-do-today.html

https://www.fastcompany.com/90394590/this-is-the-negative-effects-of-praise-that-youve-probably-never-thought-about

https://hbr.org/2017/05/why-do-so-many-managers-avoid-giving-praise

Are Universities Worth It All?

It is often discussed among employers and business leaders alike about the existing gap between what students learn at universities and what they are actually expected to know and handle in order to be ready to perform at a good level. This issue has become especially alarming given the fact that the numbers of people graduating — and it is still growing — from university: over 40% in countries that are part of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and close to 50% in the United States.

It has become clear that even though there higher education has become a more premium feature in today’s society a recent study done The Economist has unravelled that the return on investment (ROI) of a university degree has never been higher for graduates, thus it can be concluded that the value added from a university degree diminishes as the number of graduates continuously rises.

For example, in the area of sub-saharan Africa, where degrees are comparatively rare, a university degree will boost salaries by over 20%, which, by contrast, in the Nordic Countries earnings are boosted by only 9%, where 40% of adults have degrees. Furthermore, as more and more people obtain university qualifications they have become the norm and recruiters and employers will demand them more and more, disregarding the simple fact that they are required for a specific job. It can be concluded that even though degrees can lead to higher earnings, the same employers are damaging the graduates’ mindset and themselves by limiting the candidate strictly to university degree holders. In this modern age of technological advancements and such a constant flow of information, it is difficult to demonstrate that the acquisition of knowledge historically associated to a degree is still relevant in this day and age.

In the meantime, companies are becoming more observant to what they are required to offer in order to attract and retain their best employees, those employees who have a high potential in order to keep their companies competitive and with an extremely agile workforce.

There is a debate amongst people that universities prepare young people from a social point of view. Whilst university, people have the chance to learn how to deal with different types of people and personalities helping them develop in a more complex manner. This can happen due to a couple of reasons:

  • No more direct involvement from parents
  • Young people learn to adapt, they mature mentally, slowly becoming more independent and learn to take care of themselves.

However, the aforementioned arguments do not stand as firmly as one might think. Normally, people attend university from 18 to 22 or 23 years old. In those years, students start to mature naturally due to the simple fact that they are aging. Furthermore, people tend to learn a lot at work by engaging in various work-related activities. Nobody is denying the fact that young adults mature during their university years, but they could do so by being out into the real world, independent from university. Perhaps, the process of maturing would have been greatly accelerated.

It must be taken into account as well; the ever-rising costs of university fees and not everybody could have had access to a higher education, prior to just a few years ago. Nowadays, there are a lot of free online courses which are available to the general public which can level the playing field when it comes to getting a higher paying job. However, it must be taken into consideration that recruiters and employers alike have not started warming up to the idea of online-educated people being ready to enter the workforce.

Whichever way you wish to look at things, the university learning system is simply not scalable, it is not possible. Some universities have more financial resources to help educate their students; some universities have better professors who offer a very unique style of information and the absorption of it; plus there is the other end of the spectre where you have poorly financed universities and professors who have lost their motivation to teach, to educate the young and fairly impressionable minds they have in their class. This leads to digital learning, which, for better or worse, can be scaled to some extent. It is available to everyone; there are no hidden side notes or comments that can sway the mind to go in one direction or the other, so we have to ask ourselves, how we measure the purposefulness and route through which we obtain knowledge.

This is not to say that institutionalised education is fruitless. It does offer people the chance to expand their intellectual selves, develop new skills, and discover things, people or places otherwise hardly talked about.

Whether people like it or not, profits are the main concern of almost every business in the world. Capitalism, for all its benefits, has its flaws and this is one of them. Universities themselves have begun their hunt for profits and the interest of the student has become secondary. These institutions also view their graduates’ futures quite differently from what is happening today in the world. Universities are preparing students not so much for their jobs in their respective industries but more in the area of future drastic changes, changes that may happen decades from now. Due to this type of preparation it has caused a lot of disruption in today’s workforce, given the fact that graduates not only opt to change employers but also careers entirely.

Graduates nowadays have a tendency to seek options left and right, leading to a lot of movement in the job market either being from a larger to a smaller company or vice versa, non-profit and profit, completely different industries altogether. This current generation of young adults don’t even like the word ‘career’ because it simply implies commitment to just one path for the rest of their lives. There are a lot of things universities can be better at and, to be fair, introspection does not sound that dreadful.

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://www.chronicle.com/article/Colleges-Say-They-Prepare/244376

https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2017/09/09/does-college-prepare-students-for-the-real-world/#49c0cc3a42df

https://hbr.org/2019/01/does-higher-education-still-prepare-people-for-jobs

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