Skip to content

Archive for August, 2014


Avoid These Business Etiquette Faux Pas

Forming and maintaining good workplace relationships requires courtesy and business etiquette. An unintended slight can damage interactions and lead to conflict and lost business. Here are three business etiquette faux pas to avoid.OOPS road sign against  blue sky

  • Faux Pas 1: Insulting someone in an e-mail

While e-mail makes communication faster and easier, it opens the door to miscommunication and misinterpretation. Start off right with a salutation—a greeting—even for e-mails going to colleagues. A simple “Hi, Susan,” or “What’s up, David?” sets the right tone. If an e-mail is going outside the company, it’s considered a business letter and must follow the rules of business letter etiquette. A salutation for a business letter using e-mail is, “Dear [person’s title and last name:]”. Example: “Dear Dr. and Mrs. Sloane:”. Note that there is a colon, not a comma, at the end of a formal business salutation.

  • Faux Pas 2: Grammar and punctuation mistakes

A single punctuation error can cost your company money by changing the meaning of a sentence. Every communication must be correct to avoid misinterpretation. Proofread it yourself, and if it is an important document, ask someone else to proofread it, too. “I didn’t mean to write that” is not an excuse you can use in court.

  • Faux Pas 3: Multi-tasking when talking to customers or colleagues

Unless you are in the middle of an emergency and must monitor your phone for messages, turn it off when in conversation with someone. Checking and responding to e-mail or text messages when you are with others is rude and insulting, especially if you are with customers.

Not only can these three actions cost you customers, they can damage your reputation as a professional. Make courtesy and business etiquette a habit!


Training Makes Employees Positively Productive

Employee training programs can make your department more positively productive in many ways. Are you losing time:

  • Redoing documents because of mistakes?
  • Looking for papers and electronic documents?
  • Clarifying misunderstandings and confusion?
  • Calming upset customers?

When you promote the development of your employees’ skills, you give them the tools they need to work more productively, effectively, and efficiently. Training gives them the skills to achieve the results you need!shutterstock_107413658

Here are some steps to help you deliver the right training in the right way.

  • Align skills development with the deliverables your department is responsible for achieving.
  • Review performance plans, if applicable, and determine what training each employee needs to succeed.
  • Identify skills that would improve productivity and effectiveness for the majority of your employees.
  • Consider future needs as the business grows, new markets open up, and opportunities present themselves.
  • Choose the right type of training, such as onsite training programs, self-paced e-learning programs, offsite multi-day programs and so on.

Providing professional development programs gives your staff the opportunity to stretch and grow and gives you well-rounded, skilled employees who can get the job done! See my blog post What Training Does Your Team Need for more information.



The Value of Cross-Training

Cross-training employees to fill in for absent staff is an important investment of time that can keep you positively productive when you most need it! Here are some tips for successful cross-training.shutterstock_79452490

  • Review job descriptions and ask employees to add any additional responsibilities they routinely perform that are not part of the formal job description.
  • Determine where employees could cross-train with a minimum of effort and time.
  • Meet with each employee and explain the need for cross-training and get his or her buy-in.
  • Give employees time to learn from each other and gain confidence.
  • Provide appropriate recognition when the cross-training is completed.

Cross-training not only improves productivity and efficiency, it gives your employees the opportunity to enhance their job and career skills, provides a deeper understanding of the big picture of your department, and allows employees to make a greater contribution to the department’s success.

See my blog post Boost Employee Morale–Again and Again!


Tips for Better Negotiations

Some people approach the idea of negotiating with dread; however, the ability to negotiate confidently and convincingly is a key leadership skill. If you want to get what you want and need for business success, you have to become good at negotiating. shutterstock_85747939

  1. Be clear about what you want—your bottom-line. Evaluate all you might gain if the negotiation succeeds, and what you could lose if it doesn’t.
  2. Be prepared with more than one acceptable outcome that will meet your goals. The more alternatives you have, the more flexibility you have, and the greater likelihood you will succeed.
  3. Perform a risk assessment. Don’t assume possible losses; do some objective research and be as realistic as possible.
  4. Set an intention for a win-win outcome. When you go into a negotiation intending to find an outcome that is acceptable to all parties, you are more likely to find one.
  5. Stay focused on the goal you want to achieve and know what you are willing to give up to get it. Refuse to go below your bottom-line.
  6. Identify where you have common ground. Gaining agreement early in the negotiation creates a feeling of good will and camaraderie that can make the process go smoother.
  7. Clearly state the outcome, preferably in writing, and get all parties to sign off.

A successful negotiation leaves everyone feeling satisfied that they got what they wanted. The more you prepare, the more successful you will be.