How to Effectively Use Social Media for Business

How to Effectively Use Social Media for Business

Social media is everywhere; it is no revelation that any successful company in today’s society has to have a good social media presence. Technology is changing our world and how we find our information. It used to be word of mouth that would determine reputations and we trusted our neighbors to lead us to companies that were trustworthy. Now we have the internet; with the ease of writing and sharing reviews, it is particularly important to use social media to preserve your reputation. Here are four ways to effectively use social media to help your business.

  1. Monitor what is being said about you and your company- People are brutally honest on social media, so do not discount what they complain about. Chances are one bad complaint will be seen by hundreds of other people. Which will they remember: the ten positive reviews or the one scathing critique? Unfortunately, negative experiences tend to spread quickly and negate the positive ones. So, keep an eye on what people are saying about your company and employees, take what they say into account and work on ways to solve their issues. If people criticize your website and say it is not user-friendly, then look into their complaint. Do not brush off critiques because once the word gets out about your bad website other people are going to be specifically checking to see if there is any truth to that review.
  2. Make it convenient to purchase or secure your product- And make sure your website is secure. One security breach is a betrayal to your customers and can quickly eliminate any business. Your website should be easy to find and easy to use. If someone wants to book your service or purchase one of your products, they should be able to find your company and purchase with minimal hassle. It helps if you use fewer pages on your website in the process of choosing and buying; it should not take fifty steps to buy a box of paper or to book a plumber. In addition to making it convenient, make sure that once they pay your company that no one will be able to hack your server and find their credit card number. Security and ease are your objectives.
  3. Be okay with apologizing and use it to your advantage- If you receive a complaint, find a way to fix it and reach back out. Let the customer know that you are sorry they had a bad experience and then tell them what you are going to do to fix this for the future. Now you will not be known for the bad review, but rather for your eagerness to listen and accommodate your customers’ needs.
  4. Be sure you personally go through your website and app- Take the time to try and use your app; have your friends try it, your family try it, and employees as well. Personally make sure that it actually is user-friendly and consistently check it. This can also help with catching scammers who may create copies of your site or app and try to fool customers into paying them.

Use these four tips to help your business effectively use social media to your advantage. 

3 Things to Take from Work (and what to do with them)

3 things you should take from work

No, we’re not talking about pens or staplers. We’re talking about three really important things that are actually YOURS.  So make a note, start bringing these things home today, and save them in a safe place.

Annual Performance Reviews

These tedious little exercises can actually be a lifesaver for you later down the road. Not only are they usually chock-full of great information for your resume or interview details, but you can use them as a great initial reference when interviewing for new opportunities. A little "John exceeds expectations and consistently delivers on our established goals and objectives" goes a long way!

Your Accomplishments

At least once a month I talk to someone who doesn’t know the quantifiable details of any of their accomplishments. A great way to avoid this is to sit down once a year and write down what you accomplished and any non-confidential statistics to accompany/demonstrate your success.

Atta-boy Emails

You know those times when you deliver on a project and your manager and leadership are just blown away? Forward those feedback emails over to yourself and keep them in a tidy file for future reference. Unsolicited accolades can carry a lot of weight with potential employers!

Best Tips for Employee Motivation

Best Tips for Employee Motivation

Employee motivation is one of the most popular topics to write about because employee happiness is so important to running a successful business. Many authors and business experts have given their two cents on how to motivate employees, so I have tried to narrow down their many suggestions to just three key tips.

  1. Be organized so they can be given advance notice of what is going on- Surprises have their place in some parts of human life, but work is not one of them. Companies and managers need to maintain organization, so they can give advance notice of any new projects, change in deadlines, or additional work that the employees need to do. This will help keep everyone happy and prevent excess stress from hurting the office. Preparation creates better results in their work and makes everyone’s job easier since they are not playing catch up and have an adequate amount of time to complete a task.
  2. Clearly and openly communicate with them- Hiding is retroactive because people can invent worse things than the truth. If there are issues with administration, layoffs, budget cuts, or any other changes that can shake up a company, then be honest with employees. Even if it means telling them that they can expect a period of restructuring in the near future or other vague answers, at least the employees can mentally prepare for the future. Secrets will always be leaked in the office and you do not need the rumor mill to get ahold and terrify employees over some simple changes. Honesty and transparency are also important because these are your employees; it is their business as well! Every company is a family and the changes will be felt in every branch and office. Show your employees that they can trust their livelihood with you by being honest and maintaining open lines of communication.
  3. Have a clear goal that they can create their own path to- Creativity and intelligence go hand in hand. Just because employees have earned their degrees and landed a job does not mean they should stop learning. By providing goals and allowing employees to use their own intellect and skills to reach them, you are giving them the freedom and pleasure of discovering the best way for them to personally complete a task. This also means there must be a clear goal that way they know when their job is done. It has been proven that productivity and overall happiness increase when people have some wiggle room to figure out their own way to meeting their goal.

These three tips to help employee motivation may seem simple, but they are effective. Employee motivation means that the company can keep running and growing. 

Five Tips to Overcome Call Reluctance

Five Tips to Overcome Call Reluctance

Salesmen have some of the hardest jobs around because they have to continually convince clients that they need some product or service. This can be especially difficult when trying to outsell competitors, negotiate a bad economy, and even just gearing up daily to deal with difficult customers who do not want to buy. Call reluctance is a very common issue that effects salesmen everywhere; it is the underlying fear or hesitation that can prevent them from having a successful sales call whether it be in person or over the phone. Here are five tips to help workers overcome call reluctance and sell at their full potential.

  1. Imagine the successful discussion- This is a great tip for anyone walking into a scary situation because people tend to imagine the worst rather than the best. Salesmen need to walk in with the attitude that they have already won. Before going into any sales call, take a few moments to relax and imagine the best outcome. Let this positivity carry you into the meeting and already it will be off to a better start.
  2. Role play to practice- The best way for new salesmen to overcome call reluctance is to let them practice their sales techniques before going into an actual meeting. This gives them a chance to get out any nerves and receive constructive criticism by experienced salesmen. They will be able to create a strategy which they can take with them on their calls with real clients.
  3. Incentives for calls made- While the quality of conversations is clearly important, quantity also goes a long way in the sales world. Give your salesmen an incentive to go and make more calls. This will give them something to look forward to and will hopefully distract them from being reluctant as they go into each call. This may be a contest to see who can make the most calls in one day, who can beat their calls for last year, or any contest that makes each sales call something to look forward to.
  4. Be prepared- Preparation can go an extremely long way when it comes to feeling good about a sales call. Some employees may be reluctant simply because they do not feel as if they know the product well enough, can answer questions, or are prepared to deal with a difficult client. By providing each salesman at the very least a script, the reason why they are calling, materials to answer questions, and a basic knowledge of the company they are selling to, this will ease a lot of the nerves that cause call reluctance.
  5. Forget the pressure and just focus on making one client happy at a time- We all know that the economy is a constant roller coaster and the potential sales pool is directly affected by it. There is a great deal of stress for salesmen to snatch up every customer they can before they lose them to the competition and this can make them reluctant to go day after day trying to compete for the buyers. The best way to overcome this issue of call reluctance is to focus on just the client; pretend that this is the only buyer that you want and do your best to make them happy. Forget about the others that you failed to sell to or the next twenty calls you need to make, and let your energy be channeled towards helping this customer get a great deal from you.

Focus on these five tips to overcome call reluctance and watch as your salesmen come back more confident in their skills and hopefully bring in many more satisfied customers. 

Four Steps to Effectively Train New Employees in Customer Service

Four Steps to Effectively Train New Employees in Customer Service

Customer service is a foundation for every company because every one of them has to find a way to sell their product or service. Since this is so important to each business’ success, a great emphasis should be put on training new employees in customer service. Here are four steps to help get your workers up to speed and ready to market to your customers.

  1. Prepare your employees for the types of interactions they will have with customers- This means helping them prepare sales techniques for different situations such as phone calls, face-to-face meetings, or retail. Each scenario requires the employee to sell in a different way, so help them know what to do!
  2. Define customer expectations and educate employees on what they are- The easiest way to make sure your employees are giving satisfactory service is to see what your customers expect from your salesmen.
  3. Product education- Teach them the process and product they will be supporting from the customer’s usage viewpoint. They should be marketing their product or service based on why a customer cannot live without it; their knowledge of the product should be based upon this premise.
  4. Identify strengths and weaknesses to improve upon- Get feedback from employees as they get comfortable with sales and interact more with your customers. The market is always changing and the people who are dealing with buyers every day are your best tools to help you adjust and adapt.

These are four simple steps which will help your company provide excellent service to your buyers. After all, good customer service is the key to having a successful and profitable company because if they are happy then they will continue to purchase your products and services. There is always competition, so stay at the top of your field by paying close attention to your employees’ skills in customer service. 

Three Common Management Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Three Common Management Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Every business is reliant on managers to organize employees and maintain daily work. Good management is a fundamental foundation to any successful company. Since this is such an important position, every manager should be aware of the most common management mistakes and how to avoid them to ensure the company runs as smoothly as possible.

The first mistake is over management. A good manager should show employees what needs to be accomplished, but not how to accomplish it. It does not help anyone if they are told how to finish a job and it does not create a better employee if they do not have the chance to think on their own. A manager should present a problem for an employee and provide them the encouragement and support to devise their own solution and figure out how to implement it. The best way to avoid over management is by identifying the basic information that the employees need and then provide any extra help they need as they ask for it.

The second mistake that managers can make is under management. It is just as bad for a manager to dictate everything their employee should do as it is for a manager to neglect their employees. Never assume that employees automatically know what to do; everyone needs support and encouragement no matter how prepared or intelligent they may be. A good manager wants their team to succeed and will provide them the tools to complete their project. This means that managers should pay attention to their employees and what they need; being in tune to how the project is progressing and aware of where others are struggling with it, is the best way to ensure that the manager gives their employees the direction they need to be successful!

The third mistake that every manager should avoid is trying to be a friend instead of a manager. It is imperative to treat employees and team members well, but do not mistake common courtesy with friendship. Remember at the end of the day, the manager might have to fire an employee; a manager’s duty is to the company and not to the people. A great example of this mistake is Michael Scott from the popular show The Office. Scott is the regional manager of Dunder Mifflin paper company and a great deal of the humor from the show comes from the friendships and interactions between him and his coworkers. Scott has great difficulty separating himself from the employees and often runs into issues when he needs to fire them or discipline them; he has always portrayed himself as their friend and as a result they do not take anything he says seriously. Managers keep the company running and the employees on task, and they cannot do that if no one takes their directions seriously. Managers can avoid this mistake by keeping a fine line between their personal and professional lives. This may seem cliché but by being friendly and keeping a professional relationship with employees, managers can successfully run their team. 

Every manager should recognize these three mistakes and avoid them in order to be a productive and efficient leader. 

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The 4 Best Ways to Reduce Stress at Work

The 4 Best Ways to Reduce Stress at Work

Stress is on the rise in today’s society, with work being one of the leading causes.  However, there are many ways to reduce stress in the workplace and thus reduce individuals overall stress.  Here are four of the best ways to reduce stress in the workplace:

1.   Move More

Standing up and walking around for a few minutes every couple of hours can both increase productivity and reduce stress.  Walking, working out, and other forms of exercise increase blood flow throughout the body, allowing employees to refocus their responsibilities.  Focusing on the tasks at hand allows employees to decide what needs to be given the most attention and what can wait until a later time, this prioritization can lead to reduced stress throughout the workplace.

2.   Eliminate Multitasking

Multitasking is a big cause of stress in the workplace, so by giving employees fewer tasks at once you reduce the need to multitask and alleviate stress.  When people are given multiple tasks to work on at once, it is hard to prioritize what needs to be done when and how much time to spend on each task so that everything gets done on time.  The need to multitask can leave employees confused and stressed, it can even lead to a decrease in productivity, missed deadlines, and lower quality output.

3.   Meet Less

Instead of having a 30-minute meeting every day to talk about where everyone is with their responsibilities, think about limiting meetings to once a week.  Having one 1-2 hour meeting a week not only clears up a lot of free time in everyone’s schedules, but it also reduces stress.  A lot of time and effort goes into preparing for a meeting, so having to worry about those preparations more than once a week adds a lot of unnecessary stress to everyone involved.  Also, when there is a meeting every day, employees feel the need to rush through their work just so they can have updates to share at the next days meeting, which not only increases their stress levels, but also reduces the quality of work produced.

4.   Separate Work and Home Life

It is not uncommon for work to follow people home these days.  With all of the new technology, it is nearly impossible to separate between work life and home life.  One way to help make this division clearer is to get separate technology.  If you have a work computer that you use for all of your work, then leave it at work.  Taking the same computer to and from work every day and linking your work email directly to your smartphone can become very overwhelming, as even when you are off, you're still at work.  Drawing a clear line between work life and home life will allow you to get the break that you need while you are out of the office.  Having down time away from the office will allow you destress and come back to the office refreshed and ready to work.

The Benefits of Employee Feedback

The Benefits of Employee Feedback

Employee feedback is necessary in any working environment; employees crave it, while bosses often shy away from it.  It is easy to believe that it is only necessary to give employees feedback when they do something wrong, but it is helpful to both you and the employee when they know that they are also doing something right.  Employee feedback can have a multitude of benefits for both individual employees and the company as a whole. Here are some of the main benefits of employee feedback

First, employee feedback can motivate employees.  If you are directly told that what you are doing is right and you're doing it well then you will be more motivated to keep doing what you are doing.  Over time, employees work will also improve because they are motivated to work harder and do their best at all times.  This increase in motivation which will lead to increased morale and productivity among all employees, which will over time improve the company as a whole.  Also, getting feedback can make employees more eager to even come to work.  People innately crave feedback, good or bad, so when they start to get that feedback at work they will be more eager to go to the office to complete their tasks for more feedback. 

Providing your employees with feedback can also allow them to grow the company, while also growing within the company.  If an employee knows what they are doing right or wrong, then they can figure out what it is that you are looking for and how they can improve in the future.  It is easy to fall into the belief that if you tell your employees they are doing a good job then they will no longer put forth the same amount of effort, however, people are constantly seeking the approval of their superiors.  If you tell an employee they are doing well, then they will strive to do even better the next time you give them a task, and if you tell an employee that their work wasn’t where you would’ve liked it to be, then they will realize what it is you are looking for in their work and they will do better to meet your standards in the future.

Employee feedback does not always have to be simply when employees are not doing well.  It is helpful to always let employees know where they stand as far as their performance.  When an employee does several tasks with no feedback from their superiors, then they may start to wonder if they need to do things differently for the next tasks as they do not know how their work was received.  Thus, by not telling employees when their work is done well, they may assume they need to change it and instead give you something that you aren’t looking for.  Employee feedback helps employee motivation and production, as well as both individual and company growth, among many other benefits.

Top Benefits of Remote Working

Top Benefits of Remote Working

There has been a long debate over whether workers are more productive when they report to an office daily or if remote working actually improves their efficiency. While there are many obvious benefits of having workers report to a central office, there are some unexpected benefits of remote working.

            The first benefit of remote working if the flexibility it provides employees. Almost all workers complain that they do not have enough time with their families or to do some activity because they spend all their time at work. Remote working allows employees to schedule their other life into the workday. For example: an employee’s child becomes sick at school and someone has to go pick her up, instead of having to leave the office to drive her home then come back, a worker has the flexibility to bring her home and care for her while fielding calls and emails. This also applies when an employee is sick; with remote working, there is no risk of them infecting other people at the company and unless they are bedridden they can continue to do all of their work without having to take a sick day.

            One benefit that companies may be interested in is by cutting out an employee’s commute, they have now added all that time back to the workday. Commuting back and forth to the office can take up to two hours of useable time, even more when trying to work in big cities like Atlanta or New York. By staying at home, the workday can actually last from 9 am to 5 pm without having to deal with people running late because of traffic or leaving early to attend their child’s dance recital. Workers at home can dedicate all of their time to the business with very little being wasted getting from point A to point B or running around the office trying to find a certain person.

            The last major benefit of remote working is the feeling that your employer trusts you. The relationship between a company and its employees is extremely important and the more that they feel trusted and confident in their work, the better work they will produce. Remote working gives your employees the freedom to do their business without having managers breathing down their necks or fear that someone is just waiting for them to mess up. A safe and relaxed working environment is infinitely better for fostering employees that work hard and are efficient with their time.  

            These are just a few highlights of remote working the benefits that it provides both employees and the company. In practice, you will see there are many more benefits that come as a result of remote working. Consider these reasons as you decide on this matter and how it could truly help your employees.  

7 Common Hiring Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

7 Common Hiring Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Hiring is a difficult and time-consuming task that employers have to maneuver to keep their business running at it’s best. However, there are things that companies can do reduce the pressure and difficulty of the hiring process. Here are 7 common hiring mistakes and how to avoid them:

1.   Hiring too fast

Hiring is a long and time-consuming process, so employers often settle for an okay candidate instead of waiting for the best of the best because they do not have the time to keep looking.  A good way to solve this issue is by pre-screening candidates and only interviewing the few that really fit the companies standards.  Pre-screening allows even the busiest of companies to keep looking until they find exactly who they're looking for.

2.  Not hiring fast enough

On the other side of hiring too fast, is not hiring fast enough. Sometimes employers come into a new employee search with too many expectations. They come with this picture in their head of the perfect employee, and most of the time that absolute perfect person will not come along. It is important for employers to know that even the perfect job candidate will not have every single skill you hope. However, if they are really the right fit for the job, then they will be willing and able to learn to all of the necessary skills to make them the absolute best fit for what the employers are looking for.

3.   Not knowing exactly what you’re looking for

While some employers go into candidate searches knowing exactly what they want, others go into them with no expectations or standards. This is bad because not only will you likely have ht problems of hiring too fast or not fast enough, but if you don't know what you're looking for then how will you ever know if you've found the right fit for the position. I think a good common ground here is to set some expectations like educational background, degree type, and even experience levels, but not to set too many by adding height, language or technology requirements, especially if they have nothing to do with the available position.

4.   Doing all of the talking in an interview

It is very common for interviewers to feel the need to do all of the talking in an interview, whether it be about the company or their own personal life and background. It is important in an interview to tell a candidate a little more about the company, but it is more important for the employer to learn about the candidate's background. Interviews are about getting to know all of the potential candidates, not about all of the candidates getting to know you, so it is important to allow the candidates to do the talking and save more personal sharing for whoever gets the job.

5.   Going with your gut/not checking references

It is also common for employers to like a candidate so much that they choose to save time by not checking the candidate’s references, but the problem with trusting your gut in an interview is that everyone knows how to put on a good impression. Who you interview and who you get on the first, second or tenth day of work can be vastly different. People dress their best and put their best foot forward when it comes to interviewing because they want the job, but what you really need to know is how this candidate will act once they already have the job. This is where references are helpful, because previous bosses can tell you who the candidate really is after the interview, which can help you determine if they are really the right fit for your company.

6.   Giving just anyone the authority to interview and hire new employees

Employers also often delegate the task of hiring new employees to free up time for their more important tasks, but hiring should become more of a priority to employers. Employers can tell their interviewers what they are looking for in a new employee, but the interviewer may interpret these expectations in a different way than the employer, so who they end up hiring may not be what the employer was originally looking for. In order to get the employee that you know will fit in the position and company the way you want them to, it is best to make hiring a priority and personally handle interviewing candidates.

7.   Not clearly defining job expectations or the companies’ standards

It is easy to overlook parts of a position and thus leave them out of the job description, which can make retaining new employees more difficult. When you hire someone with the expectation that they will have a certain number of tasks and responsibilities without specifying that additional responsibilities may be added when necessary it can lead to issues in the workplace. New employees are often overwhelmed already, so adding more to their plate after hiring them on certain conditions can lead to tension in the workplace and may leave you back at the beginning of the hiring process; so it is important to specify in every job description that new tasks/responsibilities will be assigned as needed.

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