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Archive for April, 2017


E-mailing for Results

E-mail is the backbone of business communication, and it causes most of our headaches! Having an in-box jammed full of e-mails that you need to read or have read and need to file can negatively affect your ability to be positively productive. Try these e-mail management tips to be more efficient with

  • Control your in-box. Take time to move every completed e-mail out of your in-box. You can easily do this by setting up a file folder labeled “Pre-[today’s date].” Just highlight all completed e-mails and move them into this folder. Take 15 minutes a day to go through them and file or trash them. Eventually, this folder will be empty.
  • Create rules to handle incoming e-mails. To set a rule, identify search terms. When these terms are found, the corresponding e-mails are automatically sent into specific folders that you have set up. For example, you can set a rule so that all e-mails with your manager’s name are sent to a folder with your manager’s name.
  • Write e-mails for easy responses. I recommend using a keyword in the subject line. A keyword is the first one or two words of the subject line, and it tells the recipient what the e-mail is about. For example, Decision Needed, Review by [date], and Approval Needed are all good keywords.


Don’t let e-mail derail your ability to be positively productive! For more help with e-mail, see my workshop Writing and Managing E-mail.


Help Your Team Deliver Exceptional Customer Care

Landing new customers often is a lengthy, expensive process, and sometimes we become so focused on bringing in new business, we expend too little effort in keeping the customers we have. Cultivating our current customers and delivering care that goes beyond our competition needs to be a primary focus of your entire team. Here are some skills that will sharpen their customer service delivery.shutterstock_147498467

  • Mindful listening. Mindful listening is the ability to stay present with the customer through the entire conversation. More than just parroting what the customer says, it involves showing empathy and understanding of what the customer is feeling. Require your employees to stop multi-tasking when working with a customer, especially when they are on the phone. Mindful listening requires them to put their complete attention on the customer with an intention of meeting their needs.
  • Good questioning. Open-ended questions generate discussion and add information; closed-ended questions stop conversation. For example, “Does this take care of your issue?” is a closed-ended question with only a yes-or-no answer. On the other hand, “What else do we need to consider or review?” is an open-ended question that keeps the conversation going.
  • Silence. Being silent is hard for many people, yet it is a powerful communication skill to use. Never expect an immediate response to a question; give the person time to respond since some people need more time to process information than others do. Encourage your employees to be quiet and give the customer time to consider their answer.

Encourage your staff to look for ways to make every customer interaction an opportunity to reinforce and deepen the relationship. Mindful listening, good questioning, and being silent are three powerful tools that demonstrate emotional intelligence and show respect for the customer.

Need more customer service tools? Check out my newest workshop Creating a Positive Customer Service Experience.



Don’t Be Afraid of Delegation!

If you regularly receive my newsletter, you know that I am an advocate of using delegation to be more positively productive. In my GO System workshops, I have found that managers are fearful of delegating important work even if it makes sense for them to do so. Here are three important best practices to help you avoid mistakes and ensure a successful delegation.Yes delegation woman binders

  • Set clear expectations. People are more successful when they understand what is expected of them and how their efforts will be evaluated. When delegating an assignment or task, meet with the employee and explain what you want them to do. Use evidence-based performance measures, such as deadlines, quality standards, and measurable improvements.
  • Focus on results, not process. Most tasks and assignments can be performed in a variety of ways unless mandated procedures must be followed. In the absence of mandates or regulations, let the person decide how they will achieve the expected outcome. Avoid the temptation to micromanage!
  • Use delegation to develop employees. As a leader and manager, it’s your job to develop your employees and provide opportunities for them to grow professionally. Look for valuable tasks you currently do that could be delegated with proper training and coaching.

Delegation is a powerful management and leadership tool. If used correctly, you can strengthen your team and motivate them to greater achievement. For more help with delegation, see my blog posts Successful Delegation and Avoid Delegation Mistakes.


Priorities Matter

Most of us have set goals and created plans to achieve them; however, one important, yet often overlooked, step for success is taking time daily to prioritize your goals and action steps. This ability to prioritize is a key factor for hitting your goals and handling competing demands on your time and energy. Here are some ways to make priorities work for you.shutterstock_74877166

  • Establish priorities for every part of your life—work, career, home, family, friends, fun, spirituality, finances, health, fitness, and so on.
  • Decide how important each area is, using a scale of 1 (least important) to 5 (most important).
  • Focus your priorities and decisions on the areas that rank highest in importance. For example, if one of your top priorities is family, you may be less willing to take a job that requires lots of overnight travel unless that job helps you provide greater financial security for your family. In this case, the sacrifice you make by being on the road might be worth it.
  • Take your top priorities and create vivid pictures of what success looks like. Some people build vision boards to help with this. For example, if your home goal is buying a large house on a lake, find photos that look like the house you want. This type of visual representation helps you maintain focus on what achievement looks like.
  • Every day take at least one step in support of your high-ranking priorities. This will help you feel more balanced and give you greater satisfaction when you make progress.

Setting priorities needs to be a family matter so that everyone works toward the same end. Involving the entire family also makes it easier to explain decisions that affect everyone.

See my blog posts How to Successfully Manage Priorities and Schedule Time for Your Priorities.