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Archive for March, 2016


Take Action to Manage Stress

 For fast-acting relief, try slowing down.  Lily Tomlin

Everyone reacts to stress differently; what motivates one person sends another into a panic. Some stress is normal and helps keep you going. This is called eustress. Negative stress, on the other hand, is distressing to your body, mind, spirit, and relationships. If you ask most people about stress, they will probably say they have too much of the negative kind! Here are some signs of negative stress or distress:shutterstock_115814104

  • Frequent stomach upsets
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Feeling burned out at work
  • Having a “short fuse”
  • Grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw

Do any of these ring a bell? If so, here are some quick fixes for stress relief on the job.

  • Take a walk outside. Fresh air and sunshine are just what the doctor ordered. Getting your body into motion releases chemicals that can raise your mood and reduce your stress.
  • Drink lots of water. Frequent hydration keeps your body in top shape and helps flush the negative chemicals released by negative stress.
  • Re-evaluate your priorities. Eliminate anything that doesn’t have to be done today and focus on what you can accomplish. Don’t beat yourself up about what cannot be done.
  • Stop multi-tasking. Multi-tasking is stressful. Your attention jumps back and forth from one task to another. This constant switching causes tension. The result is feelings of distress. Not only does multi-tasking stress you out, you spend more time getting the tasks done than if you do them sequentially.
  • Take a time out. Sit back and think about something that matters to you—your family, friends, pets, an upcoming trip to Paris, a golf game on the weekend, and so on. Taking your mind off work and putting it on something or someone important and pleasurable is taking a mini-vacation without leaving your cubicle!

Don’t let stress beat you down! When you experience the signs of stress, immediately implement one of these tips for relief. If you suffer from prolonged stress, you should see a health care professional who can give you additional remedies. For more stress relief, see my blog posts Is it Distress or Eustress? and  Stress Busters.


Avoid Delegation Mistakes

Delegation is a powerful tool to develop your employees and show that you trust them to deliver results. Despite the importance of delegation for productivity and employee development, many managers avoid it because they have experienced delegation failures in the past. Here are five common delegation mistakes to watch out for. 29-11-2011

  1. Failing to clarify required outcomes and expectations. Always take time to explain deliverables and measurements and answer all questions.
  2. Choosing the wrong person. Delegation is great for helping employees learn new skills and tasks, but don’t set the employee up for failure by delegating an assignment that isn’t suited to their temperament. Delegating sales calls to an introverted person may not play into their strengths!
  3. Not setting check-in points. With a new assignment, establish check-ins or status reports to let you know how the employee is progressing and where you need to provide help or feedback.
  4. Micromanaging the assignment. After you hand over the assignment, be available to answer questions and provide feedback when necessary, but let the employee handle things on their own.
  5. Not providing evaluation at the end of the assignment. It is important to meet with the employee and give them feedback on how well they performed. If the assignment is an ongoing one, this initial feedback can set the tone for ongoing success

Delegation isn’t hard, but it does take preparation and management. Be willing to invest the time and effort because you will save time in the long run while enhancing the professional skills of your team and showing them that you trust them.

See my blog post Successful Delegation for more information.


Be More Productive with E-mail

Experts estimate that we spend about three hours a day on business e-mails. That’s almost half of your productive work time! Here are some tips to help you be more positively productive with e-mail.image

  • Open, read and respond to e-mail at set times during the day, if appropriate for your job duties. You will handle them faster and more efficiently than if you take a knee-jerk reaction and answer them as they arrive.
  • Set rules so that the most important e-mails and those from the most important senders go into a special in-box that you set up. You can set a rule by following the instructions for the e-mail service you use.
  • File away completed e-mails as soon as you finish them. Allowing completed e-mails to stay in your in-box creates electronic clutter and diminishes your productivity.
  • Use “reply all” only if everyone needs to see your response. Otherwise, delete recipients that are unnecessary before sending your reply.
  • Watch your tone. If your e-mails have been criticized for being too abrupt or rude, lengthen your sentences and make sure you are courteous and polite.
  • Take a minute or two to proofread before hitting “send” and correct any grammar or punctuation mistakes.

Need more help with e-mail? Check out my popular workshop Writing and Managing E-mail.


Does Your Team Have a Customer Service Mindset?

Customers judge your organization based on how they are treated whether in person, by phone, or through e-mail. Every point of contact with a customer offers a chance to enhance your relationship with that customer—and with everyone that customer is associated with on social media!

More than ever before, customers are sharing their experience—good and bad—using social media, so one unfortunate customer experience can reach thousands of existing and potential customers. Here are some strategies that will help your team create consistently positive customer interactions.customer-loyalty

  • Avoid judgment. Consider the customer’s viewpoint, understand where they are coming from, and accept their perception of the situation.
  • Focus on a solution. Customers want results, so clearly communicate options, explain applicable policies and rules, and describe how you will proceed.
  • Allow time for questions and explanations. This is especially important when dealing with older customers and people who require more time to process information and make decisions.
  • Be responsive. Some interactions cannot be rushed, so take your cue from the customer. If they need more time, slow down; on the other hand, if they want speed, pick up the pace.
  • Watch body language. The customer’s body language will communicate more than what they are saying. Look for positive signs, such as good eye contact, smiling, leaning toward you, and a relaxed posture. Make sure you pay attention to your body language, too!

A mindset that truly values the customer and demonstrates customer care can help your team deliver quality service that customer’s value and will recommend to others. See my blog post Tips for Building Customer Loyalty for more information.