Skip to content

Recent Articles


Don’t Let Holiday Parties Derail Your Career

You probably will be attending many holiday parties hosted by clients and colleagues. These events are wonderful opportunities to get to know people outside of business, but even though the focus may not be on business, your professionalism is on display. Don’t let the temptation to relax and have fun lead to missteps that can reflect badly on you. The event is business related, so stay on your best behavior. Here are some tips to help you.shutterstock_230996554

  • Review your company’s policies and adhere to them.
  • Before taking photos, make sure you have people’s permission. It can be annoying to have someone whip out a phone and start shooting.
  • Be careful what you post on social media since you might embarrass someone—or yourself!—or violate your company’s policies or that of your customers.
  • If alcohol is served, limit your intake and make sure you eat while you drink. At customer events, you might want to avoid alcohol and stick to soda or sparkling water.
  • Make a point to get to know someone new or someone you only know by phone. The holiday party is a good time to reconnect with those you haven’t seen or spoken with in a while.
  • Avoid talking shop and focus on getting to know people better as individuals.

Holiday parties can be valuable opportunities to deepen relationships with clients and colleagues. While it’s fine to be relaxed and have fun, keep things in moderation and always act with courtesy and professionalism.


Customer Service Matters

How skillful are your employees when it comes to delivering customer service? Here are some skills that all employees need to develop if you want to consistently deliver quality care.shutterstock_147498467

  • Empathy is the ability to step into the customer’s experience and accept what they are feeling without judgement. This helps you understand the customer’s point of view, so you can better help them.
  • The highest compliment you can pay someone is to listen to them without distractions. This can be challenging since we often spring ahead to what we think the solution might be rather than staying focused on the speaker. See my blog post Key Listening Skills for more information.
  • Product knowledge. Customers expect you to know everything about the products and services offered by your organization. Stay up to date on innovations, marketing and sales materials, and overall product knowledge.
  • Customers want decisions and resolutions NOW! Understand how much authority you have and be willing to make decisions independently to the extent of that authority. If you need to refer the customer to someone else, make the transaction as smooth and easy as possible.

The more you improve the customer service skills of your staff, the more your customers know you care about them. Check out my program Creating a Positive Customer Service Experience.



Happy Thanksgiving!

I want to thank all of you who read my blog and take the time to comment. It is important for me to give you practical information you can use on the job to improve your skills and those of your team. I would love to hear from you about topics you would like to see covered in future posts.Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to you, your team, and

your families!



Thank Your Employees

Thanksgiving is one week away. Now is the time to thank your team. Here are some tips to make this easier and more effective.Great job

  • Host a get-together for the entire team. If your team is small, you could cater in lunch, hold a pizza or dessert party, or even take them out to lunch. If you have a large team, consider a potluck, but provide dessert or the entrée.
  • Give each person extra time off. Close the office early to thank your staff and give them time to prepare for the holiday. If you can’t completely shut down operations, stagger time off so everyone benefits.
  • Take time to meet with every team member in person, if possible. Just a quick greeting and thank you will boost morale! If you can’t meet in person, consider sending personalized, handwritten notes to everyone with a message of your appreciation for their efforts in the past year. As a last resort, use a general thank-you email, but know that it doesn’t have the same impact as a personalized message would.
  • Present team members with certificates of appreciation, especially those who have delivered extraordinary results during the year.

It doesn’t take a lot of effort to show your team they matter to you as individuals. The stronger your personal relationship with your team, the stronger your leadership ability!


Clutter Hurts Your Productivity

For those of you who have taken my GO System program, you know that clutter–unfiled paper, electronic documents, and emails–has a negative impact on your ability to be positively productive. Researchers at Princeton University discovered that visual distractions—like that caused by clutter—will impair your ability to focus and get the results you need.desktop keeping order series

Clearing clutter and staying clutter-free is easy for some people. They know exactly where everything is located and filed away. On the other hand, some of us are “out-of-sight-out-of-mind” people. If we don’t see it, we don’t remember where we put it! So, how do you clear the clutter when it’s necessary to help you stay on top of things?

  • Set up a clear labeling system. I recommend using the same labelling system for paper, electronic documents, and email. This makes it easier to move from one medium to another. Use big labelling terms, like Insurance, Budget, HR, Vendors, and so on. Within these large categories, you can establish sub-categories. This will make it easier to file and retrieve documents.
  • Save documents based on relevance. Relevance means that the document has meaning for you. The ones you use most frequently should be easiest to get your hands on. Documents you refer to less often can be filed away.
  • Use archive files. Archive files let you file documents more than one year old and remove them from your workspace and your desktop.
  • Set up a follow-up system. If you are afraid that you will forget to follow up with something, you can create a reminder on your calendar or set up a system that lets you keep track of documents you can’t finalize.
  • Stay on top of filing. I recommend that you take time each day to file completed documents and clear existing clutter. If you have a lot of paper clutter, you might want to tackle it by the inch!

It only takes a few minutes every day to get and stay organized and be more positively productive. As we wind up the year, take time now to set yourself up for success in 2018.


Need help with email? See my Writing and Managing Email program for more information.


Write Emails for Results

Do you wonder if your emails drop into a cyber black hole because you never get a response?

Are you tired of having to open emails whose contents don’t match the subject line?

Have you ever hit send and wish you hadn’t?

If you answered yes, you are in good company. Most of us misuse email and don’t know we’re doing it. Here are some tips from my Writing and Managing Email program to help you write emails for results.shutterstock_5648425

·      Use a meaningful subject line. Your subject line is the only tool you have to get your email opened and read, so make sure it communicates what your email is about and what you want your recipient to do. This is easily accomplished with a keyword, such as Decision, Action, Review, and so on. Keywords like these help your recipient understand what’s needed and help them prioritize your email.

·      Make sure the content of your email matches the subject line. Often, emails become novels as they go on and on. New topics are introduced, but the old, no longer topical subject line isn’t updated. If the subject of the email changes, change the subject line.

·      Proofread before sending. Because email is a fast form of communication, we tend to do it quickly and, sometimes, mindlessly. This can lead to errors in grammar, punctuation, and facts. It doesn’t take more than a minute or two to proofread a short email, and maybe up to five minutes for a longer one. Without proofreading, you might end up spending more time writing additional emails that explain what you meant!

Email is both a boon and a burden. We can use it to be more positively productive or misuse it and let it eat away our productivity. For more tools and techniques, check out my Writing and Managing Email program.


Too Tired to Get Things Done?

You only have so much energy each day. How you spend that energy is a major factor in how much stress you experience and how positively productive you can be. Here are some tips to keep your energy up, reduce stress, and help you achieve the results you need.shutterstock_131727803

·      Are you getting enough hours of sleep or are you sleep deprived? Having a good night’s sleep is a key factor in feeling alert and energetic. Most experts recommend getting seven to eight hours of sleep each night. If you aren’t meeting this goal, you are sleep deprived.

·      Do your eating habits support you and give you energy? Big, heavy meals make you sleepy since they focus your body’s energy on digestion. Try eating smaller, more frequent meals to keep your blood sugar even and your energy high.

·      Do you rely on sugary foods and coffee for quick energy boosts? While you might feel a boost of energy, soon after you will have an energy crash. Spiking your blood sugar like this wreaks havoc with insulin production and is a dangerous way to stay awake. If you need a quick boost, drink a glass of fresh water and take a walk. Just 10 minutes in the fresh air and sunshine will revitalize you.

If you are always tired even after taking steps to improve, it may be time to see a medical professional.


What To Do When They Won’t Stop Talking!

Have you found yourself in front of someone who just won’t stop talking? They go on and on and on until you want to scream, “Stop!” Most of us are too polite to do this, but the challenge of working with someone like this can take a chunk out of your productivity.Slide 119 #1

1.     Start by listening for the underlying meaning of their words. Are they jabbering to hide a lack of knowledge, a reluctance to tell you what’s on their minds, or do they suffer from a lack of focus?

2.     Ask if you can interrupt them and immediately summarize what you thought they have said.

3.     Use closed questions that refocus them on the topic at hand and require only a yes or no answer.

4.     If they start rambling again, repeat step 2.

Having a conversation with someone who never stops talking is a challenge. Be assertive and take charge. For more information, see my blog posts Key Listening Skills and Ask the Right Questions.


Get Over Jet Lag and Be More Positively Productive

Being a road warrior is tough enough without having to cope with jet lag. If your job has you boarding a plane every week or two, you know how challenging it is to arrive sharp and ready to work after you have crossed several time zones.

We all live according to circadian rhythms—our internal clocks that tell us when we need to get up and go to bed. Normally, our rhythms work just fine—until we cross time zones, and our bodies are ready for bed at 10 a.m. It can take days for the body to adjust to a new rhythm. Sometimes, we are just beginning to feel normal when we’re headed home to a new bout of jet lag. How do you stay positively productive if your body is functioning according to several time zones away? Here are some tips.shutterstock_48797485

  • Plan for jet lag, especially if you are flying east. Time differences play havoc with your body clock. Give yourself some down time to adjust when you arrive at your destination and avoid having to jump right into a meeting or presentation.
  • Choose a flight that arrives in the morning. Daylight is a cue for your body to stay awake, so even if you are tired, it will be easier to get through the day.
  • Stay hydrated on the flight and after you arrive. If your body dehydrates, you will feel tired and sluggish. Avoid caffeinated drinks, which will dehydrate you more, and alcohol, which will make you sleepy.
  • Avoid sleeping and wake-up pills and supplements. You want your body to adjust normally to the new time zone. Artificial props won’t help in the long-term and may make it harder to recover when you return home.
  • Eat nourishing meals and exercise as often as possible. Airports and airlines don’t always offer the best food, so get in the habit of packing your own supplies. At your destination, eat three meals a day just as you would at home.

Beating jet lag and staying positively productive are easy with preparation and knowing what to do when you arrive at your destination. For more information, see my blog post Avoid Energy Slumps.


Build Your Mental Muscle

When you hear the word, “stamina,” you probably think of muscles and sweaty hours at the gym. While building bodily stamina is important, it’s also important to build mental stamina. Just as physical stamina helps athletes deliver excellent performance over and over, mental stamina can keep you motivated and help you deliver top-notch performance on the job. Here are some tips for building mental muscle.shutterstock_99376793

  • Be positive. Being positive is a key factor in staying motivated, especially in the face of obstacles. Positive people believe that they can deliver results and be successful regardless of challenges. You develop a can-do mindset and when you believe you can achieve something, you persist in the effort until you reach the goal. See my blog post Does Positivity at Work Really Make a Difference?
  • Mentally rehearse. Mental rehearsal is a visualization technique that has proven effective in improving performance. Tiger Woods, the master golfer, used mental rehearsal to perfect his swing. Sit comfortably and close your eyes, now go through the entire situation you want to improve in your imagination. Feel your confidence getting stronger and let yourself fully experience what you want to achieve in your imagination. This process tricks your mind into thinking you have already done it successfully and will result in real performance improvement when you finally are in the situation you have rehearsed.
  • Take care of yourself. Mental muscle relies on physical stamina! What you eat, the quality of sleep, and the exercise you get all play a part in mental stamina. Replace fast food, added sugars, and unhealthy snacks with natural, organic foods. Get at least eight hours of sleep at night and avoid sleep deprivation. Take time each day to become physically active. Even something as simple as walking the dog after work can turn into a short workout that pumps you up both physically and mentally.

One of the most important things you can do for mental stamina is to manage stress. Check out my blog post Take Action to Manage Stress for more tools you can use to sharpen your mental stamina and be more positively productive.