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Team Management -Discover 114 Top Team Management Skills

Whether you’re preparing for your first management role, or you’ve been managing teams for years, there’ll always be something new to learn, and existing skills to develop.

To be a great manager, you need to be comfortable adopting a wide variety of personas. Over the course of a day, you could be a mentor, a coach, a cheerleader, a confessor, a judge and jury, and a decision maker! And you must be able to cope with all the challenges and pressures that come with being responsible for other people, as well as yourself.

In this article, you can explore 114 tools to help you to become an effective manager. To make it easier to navigate your way through so many useful resources, we’ve divided them into six sections, as follows:

  1. Understanding the Basics of Management Roles
  2. Effective Recruitment and Induction
  3. Understanding Team Dynamics
  4. Team Effectiveness and Motivation
  5. Developing and Coaching Your Team
  6. Coping With Challenging Management Situations

1. Understanding the Basics of Management Roles

A good starting point is to find out how good your management skills are right now, and you can do this with our interactive quiz. The insight you’ll gain will help you to make the most of your strengths and to tackle your weaknesses.

It can be daunting to start out on your management journey, and it will likely require you to rethink the way you approach work. For example, it’s sometimes difficult to switch from doing “hands-on” work yourself to relying on other people to get things done.

You may be asking yourself questions such as, “Can I learn how to motivate people and earn their respect?” “How will I find time to complete my own work while managing others?” or “Will I be able to lead people who were once my peers?” These are just some of the issues that you can explore in our articles, Seven Surprises for New Managers and Moving Into Your First Management Role.

Whatever your length of experience, it’s vital to build positive working relationships with your people. You can make a good first impression and earn the trust of your team members by setting the right tone in your first meeting, and by learning a little bit about them in advance. Prepare early by following our five-step guide to Meeting Your New Team.

As a manager, you’ll likely deal with a variety of situations and people every day. Our article, Mintzberg’s Management Roles, explores 10 roles that you might play, and explains how you can develop your skills in each one.

This is particularly helpful if you have previously been a technical expert, but now need to tackle new challenges such as “soft skills,” administration, and becoming a role model.

You can discover the fundamentals of managing a team with our article, Team Management Skills. Here, we introduce tools like Team Charters to help you get off to a flying start, with improved communication and a united approach.

Your job won’t always be “smooth sailing,” though. You’ll need to learn how to identify and manage potential flashpoints on your team. You can find out how to defuse tense situations with our articles on Conflict Resolution and Managing Emotion in Your Team. (See Section 6 of this article for help with handling other challenging management situations.)

In good times and bad, we recommend that you aspire to apply the Transformational Leadership model of management. This involves a team and its manager collaborating to “raise one another to higher levels of morality and motivation.” Together, you’ll create a highly effective and productive team.

2. Effective Recruitment and Induction

It’s said that the most important part of directing a movie is casting the right actors. If the actors are right for the roles, there will be less need for detailed instruction, or correcting mistakes, later. Effective recruitment is a similarly crucial part of team management.

Investing in new talent can be an expensive and time-consuming process, so it’s not a decision to be taken lightly. Ask yourself whether you have the right team for the changing nature of your business or operating environment. Our article, When to Create a New Role, can help you to weigh up the pros and cons of changing or expanding your team. Then, keep a wary eye out for these 10 common recruitment mistakes.

You might consider recruiting from within your organization. After all, you’ll have a good idea of the skills and talents of someone you already know, and you’ve already invested in his or her development. But don’t be blind to shortcomings – beware falling victim to the Peter Principle by promoting a valued team member beyond his level of competence.

The job interview is still the best way to get to know candidates and to assess their suitability. So it’s a good idea to brush up on your interview skills, and to mix traditional questioning techniques with competency-based interviewing and Aptitude Testing.

It’s important to recruit team members who are not only technically competent, but who also share your organization’s values. You can explore this idea further with our article, Understanding Workplace Values.

Once you’ve made an offer, and it’s been accepted, you need to do all that you can to make the role a success. See our articles on engaging new recruits and successful induction to ensure that your hires make the strongest possible start at your organization.

 

3. Understanding Team Dynamics

Well-rounded teams are composed of people with differing skillsets, personalities and life experiences, so the individuals in your team will likely see the world in very different ways. The tried-and-trusted method of Management By Wandering Around (MBWA) is a useful way to find out how your team members behave and perform, both individually and together.

Their dynamics as a group will be influenced partly by how well they know one another. Has your team worked together for a while, or is it newly created? Teams usually progress through several stages as people become acquainted and settle into their new roles. Our articles, Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing and Cog’s Ladder will give you a good understanding of these stages, and what you can do to get the best from them.

If you notice that you have an especially talented person on your team, be sure to read our resource on identifying, developing, and keeping talented people. And a person willing to go the extra mile can have a hugely positive effect on your team’s productivity and performance, if you place her in the right position. Find out more in our article, How to Get the Best From an Extra Miler.

Depending on your line of work, you may find that some of your most valuable team members are unsociable or introverted. Understanding their strengths and weaknesses, too, is crucial when it comes to helping them and their co-workers to be happy and to maximize their contribution.

 

4. Team Effectiveness and Motivation

To improve team effectiveness, it’s important to have relevant data that you can collect, track, and respond to. So, identify key performance indicators and draw up plans to meet them. Be sure to convert any vague objectives into specific goals and measures that relate directly to your organization’s priorities. Take a look at our articles on OKRs to find out how.

Tracking progress requires you to understand how your team is using its time. One way to do this is to carry out a DILO analysis. It stands for “day in the life of…” and it can help you to see if your team’s time is being used in the most effective way. But it’s crucial that you involve your people in this data collection – they’ll feel demotivated if they think that they are being “spied on” or micromanaged.

A motivated team is usually an effective team, so take our quiz, How Good Are Your Motivation Skills? to gain an understanding of your strengths and weaknesses in this area. Remember, the better you can demonstrate good motivational practices, such as using appropriate and effective rewards, and providing meaningful work, the more motivated will feel.

Similarly, an emotionally engaged team tends to produce better work. The Three Component Model Of Commitment explores three factors that affect how people feel about the organization that they work for.

But don’t forget the basics: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs shows how important it is to address safety, security, and comfort, as well as to nurture a sense of belonging, self-esteem and self-actualization.

Our articles on McClelland’s Human Motivation Theory and Herzberg’s Motivators and Hygiene Factors will help you to consider what motivates, or demotivates, each team member as an individual – and it might not be money!

 

5. Developing and Coaching Your Team

Your people will feel a greater sense of satisfaction at work if they know that they are growing and developing in their roles. Learning to develop your team and understanding each individual’s developmental needs is an important part of being a good manager. You can also use a Skills Matrix to analyze your team members’ training needs.

You can improve performance through coaching, delegation, and talent management, among a host of other strategies. A good starting point for this is to carry out a Training Needs Assessment with your people.

When it comes to coaching, our article, The Skill/Will Matrix, can help you to asses a team member’s skill and motivation levels, and may help you to adopt a coaching style that suits his needs.

If he has the skill and the will, selecting the right On-the-Job Training and Cross-Training can give him the experience and knowledge he needs to perform a wide range of tasks beyond those specified in his job description. This can boost his enjoyment and engagement at work.

If you don’t have much experience of delivering or facilitating coaching, you can explore some of the basics with our article, What is Coaching?

Coaching your people can help you to build rapport, to help them through business changes, to develop self awareness, and to find solutions. But be aware that it takes a lot of time and thought, so be careful to balance coaching with your other responsibilities.

The Broaden and Build Theory suggests that a happy and engaged team is more likely to be creative, and to find new, improved ways of working. So, aim to introduce a positive team atmosphere – for example, by celebrating achievements. This can have a profound effect on your team’s development.

 

6. Coping With Challenging Management Situations

You’re striving to create a thriving team that demonstrates positive collaboration, has high morale, and delivers successful outcomes. Realistically, though, we know that life will throw us occasional curveballs!

Being a manager can be hugely enjoyable and rewarding when things are going well. But you discover your real strength as a boss when things get tough.

The challenges you face can come from within your team or from external factors beyond you or your organization’s control. For example, you may be feeling overstretched because your team is growing too large or, conversely, because it is shrinking or suffering from high turnover. Meanwhile, the wider business environment can be increasingly volatile and unpredictable.

It’s normal for there to be elements of rivalry or competition within teams, and often this can be channeled in positive ways. But be aware that it can also spill over into negative behaviors. So, you will need to be confident in resolving conflict, and know how to identify and deal with bad behavior, such as bullying and discrimination.

However, workplace problems are not always the result of malice or ill will. Well-intentioned people can get caught up in conflicts when their values clash. There’ll likely be deeper reasons behind sloppy work or long-term absences, so try to keep an open mind as you approach each issue.

A mix of personalities in a team can bring tension – or worse – as well as enrichment. For example, at some point in your career, you’ll likely have to deal with team members who are volatile, domineering arrogant, narcissistic, angry, or who display any number of other “difficult” character traits.

Sometimes the challenges you face will be more logistical or cultural in nature. For example, you might be called upon to manage a team overseas, whether it’s in South Korea, Romania, Nigeria, Brazil, or elsewhere. Take a look at our set of resources dedicated to different countries and cultures around the world to help you to build respect and understanding.

For a more general guide to working abroad, be sure to read our resources on managing across cultures and Hoftstede’s Cultural Dimensions, which will help you to develop your cultural intelligence.

 

Key Points

The best managers inspire their people, and help them to take effective action. However, team management can be challenging, so don’t expect to get everything right first time. But, by focusing on the six key skill areas above, you can become the kind of manager that helps your team to achieve.

Start Here

  • Understanding Team Dynamics
  • Effective Recruitment and Induction
  • Developing Your Team
  • Coaching Your Team
  • Delegating Effectively
  • Motivating Your Team
  • Team Building Activities
  • Rewarding and Engaging Your Team
  • Improving Team Effectiveness
  • Performance Management
  • Difficult Management Situations
  • Managing Different Groups of Workers
  • Managing Different Types of Teams
  • Managing Around the World
  • Historical Management Theories

Source: mindtools.com

 

 

 

To Recruit and Retain Top Talent, Focus on Work/Life Balance

With a million jobs added every time, job market currently belongs to the buyers. Candidates have more options to choose from, which means your company must offer roles that appeal to both their financial and emotional needs if it wants to win over top talent

Free lunches and 401(k) matching are no longer enough to attract the best talent. In fact,  research indicates that, above all else, high-quality candidates want to work for companies that both align with who they are and provide personally relevant development opportunities.

If your organization wants to stand out in an increasingly competitive job market, here are some perks you should consider offering:

1. Rolling Stones Gather No Moss – and Produce Better Work

No matter how great your workplace may be, people want the freedom to work from wherever they want. Thanks to technological advances, people can do more than work from home – they can work from any country in the world. We call these people “digital nomads”: those who utilize telecommunications tech to work from virtually anywhere. With just a modem and a passport, these talented folks can see the world while maintaining a steady income.

As the concept of digital nomadism becomes more popular, new products and services aimed at simplifying this practice are popping up.  Nomad House, for instance, is a housing network that offers safe and comfortable co-living spaces that facilitate the remote work lifestyle. Similarly,  You Roam gives users the ability to place calls using WiFi or 3G, making it possible for nomadic workers to stay connected to their teams wherever they are without incurring massive bills.

2. A Little Bit of Freedom Goes a Long Way

If you would prefer your team members stay closer to home, it might be time to evaluate how you structure their hours. Thanks to 24/7 connectivity, the 9-5 workday has become a bit antiquated for many.

Our organization helps facilitate a better work/life balance by scheduling our workdays around core hours. These are set hours during which all team members must be on site to attend daily meetings, contribute to group projects, and participate in essential activities. Beyond these hours, however, team members are free to structure the rest of their workday as they see fit. This gives them a great deal of freedom to accommodate their personal needs and responsibilities outside of work.

Our core-hours scheduling has become especially popular with the parents we employ, who find this professional independence incredibly beneficial. It has also proven to be an excellent recruiting tool that allows us to attract the best talent in our industry.

3. Keep People Engaged by Keeping Things Fresh

No matter how much your workers may love their jobs, the monotony of their day-to-day tasks can always eat away at their enthusiasm. To combat the tediousness of regular responsibilities, some organizations now encourage their teams to switch things up every once in a while.

For example, you could allow someone on your sales team to work with marketing for a week, or perhaps someone in HR would like to try their hand at operations.

The benefits of such arrangements are threefold. First, they ensure that nobody gets bored. Boredom can lead to higher levels of turnover, which is damaging to productivity and a company’s bottom line.

Second, these arrangements allow you to capitalize on talents your team members don’t get to exercise in their regular roles. Sometimes, an outsider’s perspective can lead to suggestions that will enhance productivity.

Finally, these arrangements afford each team member a better understanding of what other departments do. Ultimately, this leads to a better understanding of how each part of the organization works together for business success.

Your Top Tips on How to Boost Team Morale

It’s not always easy to keep team morale high.

Sometimes something as simple as working with a colleague who is in a bad mood or is having a bad day (go easy on them… it happens to the best of us!) can cause team spirit to nosedive. Luckily, these kinds of moods can be broken relatively easily. A kind word, or a friendly joke, and a bad mood can disappear as quickly as it emerged.

But other times, morale can drop because of more serious reasons that are beyond our control.

Organizational changes, for instance, or a restructure can quickly cause panic and negative  rumors to spread. Your company might have gone through a period of downsizing, resulting in layoffs or an unwanted office move. Perhaps your team has suddenly become overloaded with work, which has caused stress to build up. Or maybe there’s a lack of strong leadership or good communication, which has made people disillusioned and unhappy.

In these cases, it can be much harder to restore team morale.

Lifting Team Morale is an Important Leadership Skill

So, one of the most important tasks a manager has is to make sure that he or she tackles the underlying issues that cause such negativity, before it wreaks too much havoc. If he doesn’t, it can cause significant problems, not just for the team but for the wider organization too.

Problems left to fester can soon cause people to “give up.”

This can damage productivity, create a bad atmosphere in the office, and cause people to call in sick or avoid work. If people become really fed up with the situation, communication can break down completely. As a result, team relationships can become damaged and people may even decide to quit.

So what can we do to keep team morale high? Well, we decided to ask our friends and followers on social media, to see what tips they had. And, as ever, your responses were right on the money. Here are some of the best ones that we received.

Lead by Example

Many of you highlighted just how important strong leadership is when tackling low morale. When people feel unhappy or lost, it’s important that they can turn to their manager for guidance and support.

As Mademoiselle LeVell, from Birmingham, suggested, “Be encouraging, positive & nurturing in your actions and interactions. Lead by example. Ensure you lead the way by maintaining your own emotional wellbeing, enabling you to present as fair and reasonable.”

Naeem Wareem, an importer from Pakistan, also reinforced the importance of leading by example: “Do what you recommend to others; show them it can be done.”

Value Your Team

One of the most popular tips put forward was the importance of valuing your team.

Glenn Dugan, a LinkedIn follower from Iowa, summarized this well. He commented, “Value your team by informing them, helping them, empowering them, and coaching them. They are the #1 asset.”

Mademoiselle LeVell emphasized the importance that active listening can play in this: “Actively listen to & interact with your team. Acknowledge & value input. Allow good time for tasks to be completed.”

Have Fun Together

As the old saying goes, and as Jack Nicholson so frantically typed in The Shining, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” And many of you agreed!

What builds team morale more than anything is the “fun factor.” Being able to laugh together, joke together, or just have a bit of chat about the latest Netflix series you’re watching – all of these things can really lift a team’s spirit and create an enjoyable atmosphere.

 

SCAMPER Improving Products and Services

It can often be difficult to come up with new ideas when you’re trying to develop or improve a product or service.

 

This is where creative brainstorming techniques like SCAMPER can help. This tool helps you generate ideas for new products and services by encouraging you to think about how you could improve existing ones.

We’ll look at SCAMPER in this article.

About the Tool

SCAMPER is a mnemonic that stands for:

  • Substitute.
  • Combine.
  • Adapt.
  • Modify.
  • Put to another use.
  • Eliminate.
  • Reverse.

You use the tool by asking questions about existing products, using each of the seven prompts above. These questions help you come up with creative ideas for developing new products, and for improving current ones.

Alex Osborn, credited by many as the originator of brainstorming, originally came up with many of the questions used in the technique. However, it was Bob Eberle, an education administrator and author, who organized these questions into the SCAMPER mnemonic.

Note:

Remember that the word “products” doesn’t only refer to physical goods. Products can also include processes, services, and even people. You can therefore adapt this technique to a wide range of situations.

How to Use the Tool

SCAMPERis really easy to use.

First, take an existing product or service. This could be one that you want to improve, one that you’re currently having problems with, or one that you think could be a good starting point for future development.

Then, ask questions about the product you identified, using the mnemonic to guide you. Brainstorm as many questions and answers as you can. (We’ve included some example questions, below.)

Finally, look at the answers that you came up with. Do any stand out as viable solutions? Could you use any of them to create a new product, or develop an existing one? If any of your ideas seem viable, then you can explore them further.

Example Questions

Let’s look at some of the questions you could ask for each letter of the mnemonic:

Substitute

  • What materials or resources can you substitute or swap to improve the product?
  • What other product or process could you use?
  • What rules could you substitute?
  • Can you use this product somewhere else, or as a substitute for something else?
  • What will happen if you change your feelings or attitude toward this product?

Combine

  • What would happen if you combined this product with another, to create something new?
  • What if you combined purposes or objectives?
  • What could you combine to maximize the uses of this product?
  • How could you combine talent and resources to create a new approach to this product?

Adapt

  • How could you adapt or readjust this product to serve another purpose or use?
  • What else is the product like?
  • Who or what could you emulate to adapt this product?
  • What else is like your product?
  • What other context could you put your product into?
  • What other products or ideas could you use for inspiration?

Modify

  • How could you change the shape, look, or feel of your product?
  • What could you add to modify this product?
  • What could you emphasize or highlight to create more value?
  • What element of this product could you strengthen to create something new?

Put to Another Use

  • Can you use this product somewhere else, perhaps in another industry?
  • Who else could use this product?
  • How would this product behave differently in another setting?
  • Could you recycle the waste from this product to make something new?

Eliminate

  • How could you streamline or simplify this product?
  • What features, parts, or rules could you eliminate?
  • What could you understate or tone down?
  • How could you make it smaller, faster, lighter, or more fun?
  • What would happen if you took away part of this product? What would you have in its place?

Reverse

  • What would happen if you reversed this process or sequenced things differently?
  • What if you try to do the exact opposite of what you’re trying to do now?
  • What components could you substitute to change the order of this product?
  • What roles could you reverse or swap?
  • How could you reorganize this product?

Tip 1:

Some ideas that you generate using the tool may be impractical or may not suit your circumstances. Don’t worry about this – the aim is to generate as many ideas as you can.

Tip 2:

To get the greatest benefit, use SCAMPER alongside other creative brainstorming and lateral thinking techniques such as Random Input, Provocation, Reversal, and Metaphorical Thinking.

Key Points

SCAMPER helps you develop new products and services. Many of the questions it uses were created by Alex Osborn, but Bob Eberle developed the mnemonic.

SCAMPER stands for:

  • Substitute.
  • Combine.
  • Adapt.
  • Modify.
  • Put to another use.
  • Eliminate.
  • Reverse.

To use SCAMPER, you simply go down the list and ask questions regarding each element. Remember, not every idea you generate will be viable; however, you can take good ideas and explore them further.

How to Be Assertive Asking for What You Want Firmly and Fairly

 

Bisi’s patience is beginning to wear thin with her colleague Kunle. A few days earlier he had undermined her yet again, this time in front of other colleagues during the weekly team meeting. So, she decided to tell him how he made her feel. But just as she was about to approach him, she lost her nerve.

Kunle made similar comments again yesterday. And, once again, Bisi felt humiliated and frustrated at his inability to see the effect that his comments had. But she still couldn’t bring herself to speak to him about it. She feels cross with herself, but resigned to the situation.

It’s possible that you’ve been in a situation like Bisi’s and, like her, you might have felt unable to do anything about it. But by learning how to be more assertive, you can stand up for yourself, and become a strong and confident communicator.

In this article, we look at why assertiveness is important in the workplace, and explore some strategies that you can use to become more assertive.

What is Assertiveness?

It’s not always easy to identify truly assertive behavior. This is because there’s a fine line between assertiveness and aggression, and people can often confuse the two. For this reason, it’s useful to define the two behaviors so that we can clearly separate them:

  • Assertiveness is based on balance. It requires being forthright about your wants and needs, while still considering the rights, needs and wants of others. When you’re assertive, you are self assured and draw power from this to get your point across firmly, fairly and with empathy.
  • Aggressive behavior is based on winning. You do what is in your own best interest without regard for the rights, needs, feelings, or desires of other people. When you’re aggressive, the power you use is selfish. You may come across as pushy or even bullying. You take what you want, often without asking.

So, a boss who places a pile of work on your desk the afternoon before you go on vacation, and demands that it gets done straight away, is being aggressive. The work needs to be done but, by dumping it on you at an inappropriate time, he or she disregards your needs and feelings.

When you, on the other hand, inform your boss that the work will be done but only after you return from vacation, you hit the sweet spot between passivity (not being assertive enough) and aggression (being hostile, angry or rude). You assert your own rights while recognizing your boss’s need to get the job done.

Warning:

Assertive behavior may not be appropriate in all workplaces. Some organizational and national cultures may prefer people to be passive and may view assertive behavior as rude or even offensive.

Research has also suggested that gender can have a bearing on how assertive behavior is perceived, with men more likely to be rewarded for being assertive than women. So, it pays to consider the context in which you work before you start changing your behavior.

The Benefits of Being Assertive

One of the main benefits of being assertive is that it can help you to become more self-confident, as you gain a better understanding of who you are and the value that you offer.

Assertiveness provides several other benefits that can help you both in your workplace and in other areas of your life. In general, assertive people:

  • Make great managers. They get things done by treating people with fairness and respect, and are treated by others the same way in return. This means that they are often well-liked and seen as leaders that people want to work with.
  • Negotiate successful “win-win” solutions. They are able to recognize the value of their opponent’s position and can quickly find common ground with him.
  • Are better doers and problem solvers. They feel empowered to do whatever it takes to find the best solution to the problems that they encounter.
  • Are less anxious and stressed. They are self-assured and don’t feel threatened or victimized when things don’t go as planned or as expected.

Tip:

The LADDER mnemonic is an effective way of assertively resolving problems.

How to Become More Assertive

It’s not easy to become more assertive, but it is possible. So, if your disposition tends to be more passive or aggressive, then it’s a good idea to work on the following areas to help you to get the balance right:

1. Value Yourself and Your Rights

To be more assertive, you need to gain a good understand yourself, as well as a strong belief in your inherent value and your value to your organization and team.

This self-belief is the basis of self- confidence and assertive behavior. It will help you to recognize that you deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, give you the confidence to stick up for your rights and protect them, and remain true to yourself, your wants and your needs.

Tip:

While self-confidence is an important aspect of assertiveness, it’s crucial that you make sure that it doesn’t develop into a sense of self-importance. Your rights, thoughts, feelings, needs, and desires are just as important as everyone else’s, but not more important than anyone else’s.

2. Voice Your Needs and Wants Confidently

If you’re going to perform to your full potential then you need to make sure that your priorities – your needs and wants – are met.

Don’t wait for someone else to recognize what you need. You might wait forever! Take the initiative and start to identify the things that you want now. Then, set goals so that you can achieve them.

Once you’ve done this, you can tell your boss or your colleague exactly what it is that you need from them to help you to achieve these goals in a clear and confident way. And don’t forget to stick to your guns. Even if what you want isn’t possible right now, ask (politely) whether you can revisit your request in six months time.

Find ways to make requests that avoid sacrificing others’ needs. Remember, you want people to help you, and asking for things in an overly aggressive or pushy way is likely to put them off doing this and may even damage your relationship.

3. Acknowledge That You Can’t Control Other People’s Behavior

Don’t make the mistake of accepting responsibility for how people react to your assertiveness. If they, for example, act angry or resentful toward you, try to avoid reacting to them in the same way.

Remember that you can only control yourself and your own behavior, so do your best to stay calm and measured if things get tense. As long as you are being respectful and not violating someone else’s needs, then you have the right to say or do what you want.

4. Express Yourself in a Positive Way

It’s important to say what’s on your mind, even when you have a difficult or negative issue to deal with. But you must do it constructively and sensitively.

Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself and to confront people who challenge you and/or your rights. You can even allow yourself to be angry! But remember to control your emotions and to stay respectful at all times.

5. Be Open to Criticism and Compliments

Accept both positive and negative feedback graciously, humblyand positively.

If you don’t agree with criticism that you receive then you need to be prepared to say so, but without getting defensive or angry. The feedback matrix is a great tool that can help you to see past your emotional reactions to feedback, and instead use it to achieve significant, positive change.

6. Learn to Say “No”

sayin “No” is hard to do, especially when you’re not used to doing it, but it’s vital if you want to become more assertive.

Knowing your own limits and how much work you are able to take on will help you to manage your tasks more effectively, and to pinpoint any areas of your job that make you feel as though you’re being taken advantage of.

Remember that you can’t possibly do everything or please everyone, so it’s important that you protect your time and your workload by saying “no” when necessary. When you do have to say “no,” try to find a win-win solution that works for everyone.

7. Use Assertive Communication Techniques

There are a number of simple but effective communication techniques that you can use to become more assertive. These are:

Use “I” Statements

Use “I want”, “I need” or “I feel” to convey basic assertions and get your point across firmly. For example, “I feel strongly that we need to bring in a third party to mediate this disagreement.”

Empathy

Always try to recognize and understand how the other person views the situation. Then, after taking her point of view into consideration, express what you need from her.

For example, “I understand that you’re having trouble working with Arlene, but this project needs to be completed by Friday. Let’s all sit down and come up with a plan together.”

Escalation

If your first attempts at asserting yourself have been unsuccessful, then you may need to escalate the matter further. This means becoming firmer (though still polite and respectful) with the person who you are requesting help from, and may end in you telling him what you will do next if you still aren’t satisfied.

For example, “John, this is the third time this week I’ve had to speak to you about arriving late. If you’re late once more this month, I will activate the disciplinary process.”

However, remember that, regardless of the consequences that you communicate to the person in question, you may still not get what you want in the end. If this is the case, you may need to take further action by setting up a  formal meeting to talk about the problem, or escalating your concerns to Human Resources (HR) or your boss.

Ask for More Time

Sometimes, it’s best not to say anything. You might be too emotional or you might not know what it is that you want yet.

If this is the case, be honest and tell the person that you need a few minutes to compose your thoughts. For example, you might say “Dave, your request has caught me off guard. I’ll get back to you within the half hour.”

Change Your Verbs

Try using verbs that are more definite and emphatic when you communicate. This will help you to send a clear message and avoid “sugar-coating” your message so much that people are left confused by what it is that you want from them.

To do this, use verbs like “will” instead of “could” or “should,” “want” instead of “need,” or “choose to” instead of “have to.”

For example:

“I will be going on vacation next week, so I will need someone to cover my workload.”

“I want to go on this training course because I believe that it will help me to progress in my role and my career.”

“I choose this option because I think it will prove to be more successful than the other options on the table.”

Be a Broken Record

Prepare the message that you want to convey ahead of time.

If, for instance, you can’t take on any more work, be direct and say, “I cannot take on any more projects right now.” If people still don’t get the message, then keep restating your message using the same language, and don’t relent. Eventually they will likely realize that you really mean what you’re saying.

For example:

“I’d like you to work on the Clancy project.”

“I cannot take on any more projects right now.”

“I’ll pay extra for you to do it.”

“I cannot take on any more projects right now.”

“Seriously, this is really important. My boss insists that this gets done.”

“I cannot take on any more projects right now.”

“Will you do it as a personal favor?”

“I’m sorry, I value our relationship but I simply cannot take on any more projects right now.”

Tip:

Be careful with the broken record technique. If you use it to protect yourself from exploitation, that’s good. But if you use it to bully someone into taking action that’s against their interests, it can be manipulative and dishonest.

Scripting

It can often be hard to know how to put your feelings across clearly and confidently to someone when you need to assert yourself. The scripting technique can help here. It allows you to prepare what you want to say in advance, using a four-pronged approach that describes:

  1. The event. Tell the other person exactly how you see the situation or problem.“Janine, the production costs this month are 23 percent higher than average. You didn’t give me any indication of this, which meant that I was completely surprised by the news.”
  2. Your feelings. Describe how you feel about the situation and express your emotions clearly.“This frustrates me, and makes me feel like you don’t understand or appreciate how important financial controls are in the company.”
  3. Your needs. Tell the other person exactly what you need from her so that she doesn’t have to guess.“I need you to be honest with me, and let me know when we start going significantly over budget on anything.”
  4. The consequences. Describe the positive impact that your request will have for the other person or the company if your needs are met successfully.“If you do this we will be in a good position to hit our targets and may get a better end-of-year bonus.”

Key Points

Being assertive means finding the right balance between passivity (not assertive enough) and aggression (angry or hostile behavior). It means having a strong sense of yourself and your value, and acknowledging that you deserve to get what you want. And it means standing up for yourself even in the most difficult situations.

What being assertive doesn’t mean is acting in your own interest without considering other people’s rights, feelings, desires, or needs – that is aggression.

You can learn to be more assertive over time by identifying your needs and wants, expressing them in a positive way, and learning to say “no” when you need to. You can also use assertive communication techniques to help you to communicate your thoughts and feelings firmly and directly.

It likely won’t happen overnight but, by practising these techniques regularly, you will slowly build up the confidence and self-belief that you need to become assertive. You’ll also likely find that you become more productive, efficient and respected, too.

The 13 Documents You Need to Start Your HR Department

Remember when you got to go to camp or on a field trip as a kid and there was always that handy dandy checklist to help you pack? Wouldn’t it be nice if that were something that you got in real life too?

Building an HR Department within a new or established company is going to take some work, but with a solid plan and the great advice we’re dishing out here, you can do it. One caveat: We don’t know your industry so some of what you’ll need may not be on this list but chances are everything in this article will be at least helpful, if not necessary. However, unlike a camp checklist, many of these items can’t be purchased on the way home from soccer practice, you might have to make them yourself or find vendors who can supply them as a value add. Ready? Let’s get started.

 

  1. Start with job profiles

Create a profile for each role within your company and the person who fills it. You can include as much or as little information as you’d like but keep in mind if you choose to include more information (like what makes the current employee successful in that role) you will be able to use it for multiple projects (like building out sourcing profiles for future hiring).

  1. Use the profiles to create a hierarchal structure of your company

In many startups, this is a bit antithetical to the way they work so you may face a little resistance. But there’s nothing like a great company structure document to help with future tasks like workforce planning, succession structure and what to outsource, when. You can also use a structure like this to determine reporting and salary grading in the future. You’ll thank us later.

 

  1. Create a business staffing plan

When your company is hiring just a few key positions, this almost seems like a moot point but having a plan you can refer to is crucial as the business scales. Who do you need to speak with? Sales, operations, product development and marketing. These people or teams should have a solid idea of how many widgets they want to make or how many contracts they want to sign and the people that you need to hire are part of that plan. So make sure you get a sketch of what they’re doing over the next 12 months to figure out what you need to be hiring for. Bonus: If you can calculate (even roughly) what a lost employee will cost your business directly and indirectly.

 

  1. You need a system

Most smaller companies start with an Excel spreadsheet and some scattered emails but with the software available to you now, that just makes no sense. We suggest starting with a solid and scalable ATS (applicant tracking system) that’s built for SMBs. Having your staffing plan will help you evaluate new products to ensure they meet your needs. Keeping track and contact with various candidates will soon become a big part of your routine, so find an ATS that can help you and your team do that.

 

  1. Devise a salary structure document

This is by far the most neglected document in a small to medium business. Don’t let that happen to you. Discover salaries for various functions within the company and compare and contrast those with fair market value for similar positions. Revise every six months to ensure that you stay competitive. If your company offers other forms of compensation like benefits, stock options, profit sharing or a work-flex environment; make note of them but keep them separate from the salary structure document.

  1. Create a compensation and benefits document

Newer companies may not offer the same sort of traditional benefits that many employees are used to receiving, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have as much to offer. Get creative. Find out what your managers might be able to swing in their departments. Can employees work from home? Can you purchase equipment or offer discounted rates from benefits companies? Do some research so you have a benefits plan that stands out.

 

  1. When do your employees get time off?

Do managers get Christmas Eve off but not interns? Does the executive team meet for an early Tuesday meeting? Which holidays does your company observe? All of these are unique to your company, industry and occasionally location. But be clear about your vacation policy, sick policy, time off policy and holiday policy. Include things like permissions, notices, time off that is job specific and when it’s okay to trade schedules with another worker. Don’t forget to include some sort of recording system to help you keep track. Your employees WILL ask.

 

  1. A way to measure performance

In the beginning, this usually falls to the department head or hiring manager but that’s not always the best person for the job. When creating your job profiles, find out how each person measures their success and write those measurements down. Sure, those will change as the company grows but knowing how the team defines “doing well” and sets their goals will only help new hires get acclimated. In addition, it helps you create the dreaded performance evaluation. Not all companies have or enforce these, but I believe they are important, especially given the influx of millennials in today’s workforce. The key is constant and measurable feedback, rather than the typical year review. Keep that in mind when devising your performance evaluation program (or when selecting a vendor to do so).

 

  1. Travel and Expenses Tracking

How will your organization handle this? You need a policy and a simple and easy to use application that allows you to track these expenses and travel. Luckily there are lots of consumer based apps that fit well into a small or medium sized business.

 

  1. Time and Attendance is as important as you make it

Today’s modern HR department is far less “clock in/clock out” than it was, but there are still many workplaces that have staff that need to track their attendance. Whether you use an application to implement this or an old-fashioned Outlook add-on, make sure your policies are clear before employee’s Day 1. If you are in an industry that frequently uses overtime structure, keep that in mind as well.

 

  1. The end of the road

At some point you will have to fire someone…or someone will quit. Turnover is a part of life and must be addressed (preferably before it happens on your watch). So how are you going to handle it? Are you going to conduct an exit interview? Will you have a sit-down with the exiting employee’s supervisor or manager? Is there a formal process (like written and verbal warnings) that precedes terminating an employee? Do you request two week’s notice? Are you an at-will employee? Figuring out all these answers ahead of time will save an unpleasant task far less messy.

 

  1. Training and Development

 

Like many smaller businesses, you may not yet have set up a training and development process, which is okay (for now). But start thinking about what the employees get out of working for you. You may not be able to bring in big name speakers to train your crew but you can build a mentoring program, support professional initiatives or leverage your vendors for useful training opportunities (like webinars and white papers series). The important thing is to have a plan in place, whether the budget exists or not, but even more importantly is getting buy-in from the managers in your company. They know what sort of learning opportunities their people need and how to ferret them out. But social, leadership and creating employee ambassadors are all topics that transcend job title.

 

  1. Job Description Template

 

This is a toss-up. You want to ensure that your job ads are read by the right talent and the best way to do this is to create compelling, fun copy, which is tough to do with a template. On the other hand, your ads may have to create a consistent tone via various job boards and distribution engines. You want those to always tell your company’s story — so what to do? Some progressive companies tell the corporate and cultural story up front and follow up with individualized job descriptions. Either way, have a standardized template that you can give to team members or use when you need to get something up FAST.

 

Albrecht’s Four Types of Stress. Managing Common Pressures

Albrecht’s Four Types of Stress

Managing Common Pressures

Imagine that you work in human resources, and that you’ve recently been dealing with a lot of people problems.

It’s been another long day. You’re now meeting with your last “client” before you go home. As you listen to this person’s story, you start to get tense. You find yourself avoiding making direct eye contact with her, and you feel yourself shutting down emotionally. You don’t want to listen to her complaints at all; instead, you just want to finish.

Rather than taking your frustrations out on this person, however, you apologize and ask for a five-minute break. You go for a quick walk outside, breathe deeply, and then stop for some water. When you go back into your office, you’re smiling, refreshed, and ready to help.

Most people experience some degree of stress in their jobs. But if you understand the most common types of stress and know how to spot them, you can manage your stress much better. This, in turn, helps you to work productively, build better relationship, and live a healthier life.

In this article, we’ll examine four common types of stress, and we’ll discuss how you can manage each of them more effectively.

 

The Four Common Types of Stress

Dr Karl Albrecht, a management consultant and conference speaker based in California, is a pioneer in the development of stress-reduction training for businesspeople. He defined four common types of stress in his 1979 book, “Stress and the Manager.”

Albrecht’s four common types of stress are:

  1. Time stress.
  2. Anticipatory stress.
  3. Situational stress.
  4. Encounter stress.

Let’s look at each of these types of stress in detail, and discuss how you can identify and deal with each one.

1. Time Stress

You experience time stress when you worry about time, or the lack thereof. You worry about the number of things that you have to do, and you fear that you’ll fail to achieve something important. You might feel trapped, unhappy, or even hopeless.

Common examples of time stress include worrying about deadlines or rushing to avoid being late for a meeting.

Managing Time Stress

Time stress is one of the most common types of stress that we experience today. It is essential to learn how to manage this type of stress if you’re going to work productively in a busy organization.

First, learn good time management skills. This can include using To-Do Lists or, if you have to manage many simultaneous projects, Action Programs.

Next, make sure that you’re devoting enough time to your important priorities. Unfortunately, it’s easy to get caught up in seemingly urgent tasks which actually have little impact on your overall objectives. This can leave you feeling exhausted, or feeling that you worked a full day yet accomplished nothing meaningful.

Your important tasks are usually the ones that will help you reach your goals, and working on these projects is a better use of your time. Our article on Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important Principle explains how to balance urgent and important tasks, and our article on prioritization helps you separate tasks that you need to focus on from those you can safely put off.

If you often feel that you don’t have enough time to complete all of your tasks, learn how to create more time in your day. This might mean coming in early or working late, so that you have quiet time to focus. You should also use your peak working time to concentrate on your most important tasks – because you’re working more efficiently, this helps you do more with the time you have.

For instance, if you’re a morning person, schedule the tasks that need the greatest concentration during this time. Our article “Is This a Morning Task” helps you learn how to prioritize your tasks and schedule them during your most productive times of day. You can leave less important tasks, like checking email, for times when your energy levels drop.

Also, make sure that you’re polite but assertive about saying “no” to tasks that you don’t have the capacity to do.

2. Anticipatory Stress

Anticipatory stress describes stress that you experience concerning the future. Sometimes this stress can be focused on a specific event, such as an upcoming presentation that you’re going to give. However, anticipatory stress can also be vague and undefined, such as an overall sense of dread about the future, or a worry that “something will go wrong.”

Managing Anticipatory Stress

Because anticipatory stress is future based, start by recognizing that the event you’re dreading doesn’t have to play out as you imagine. Use positive visualization techniques to imagine the situation going right.

Research shows that your mind often can’t tell the difference, on a basic neurological level, between a situation that you’ve visualized going well repeatedly and one that’s actually happened.

Other techniques – like meditation – will help you develop focus and the ability to concentrate on what’s happening right now, rather than on an imagined future. Consider setting aside time daily – even if it’s only five minutes – to meditate.

Anticipatory stress can result from a lack of confidence. For example, you might be stressing over a presentation that you’re giving next week, because you’re afraid that your presentation won’t be interesting. Often, addressing these personal fears directly will lower your stress. In this example, if you put in extra time to practice and prepare for tough questions, you’ll likely feel more prepared for the event.

Last, learn how to overcome a fear of failure: by making contingency plans and analyzing all of the possible outcomes, you’ll get a clearer idea of what could happen in the future. This can help diminish your fear of failure and give you a greater sense of control over events.

3. Situational Stress

You experience situational stress when you’re in a scary situation that you have no control over. This could be an emergency. More commonly, however, it’s a situation that involves conflict, or a loss of status or acceptance in the eyes of your group. For instance, getting laid off or making a major mistake in front of your team are examples of events that can cause situational stress.

Managing Situational Stress

Situational stress often appears suddenly, for example, you might get caught in a situation that you completely failed to anticipate. To manage situational stress better, learn to be more self-aware. This means recognizing the “automatic” physical and emotional signals that your body sends out when you’re under pressure.

For example, imagine that the meeting you’re in suddenly dissolves into a shouting match between team members. Your automatic response is to feel a surge of anxiety. Your stomach knots and feels bloated. You withdraw into yourself and, if someone asks for your input, you have a difficult time knowing what to say.

Conflict is a major source of situational stress. Learn effective conflict resolution skills, so that you’re well-prepared to handle the stress of conflict when it arises. It’s also important to learn how to manage conflict in meetings, since resolving group conflict can be different from resolving individual issues.

Everyone reacts to situational stress differently, and it’s essential that you understand both the physical and emotional symptoms of this stress, so that you can manage them appropriately. For instance, if your natural tendency is to withdraw emotionally, then learn how to think on your feet and communicate better during these situations. If your natural response is to get angry and shout, then learn how to manage your emotions.

4. Encounter Stress

Encounter stress revolves around people. You experience encounter stress when you worry about interacting with a certain person or group of people – you may not like them, or you might think that they’re unpredictable.

Encounter stress can also occur if your role involves a lot of personal interactions with customers or clients, especially if those groups are in distress. For instance, physicians and social workers have high rates of encounter stress, because the people they work with routinely don’t feel well, or are deeply upset.

This type of stress also occurs from “contact overload”: when you feel overwhelmed or drained from interacting with too many people.

Managing Encounter Stress

Because encounter stress is focused entirely on people, you’ll manage this type of stress better by working on your people skills. To find out how good your people skills are, take our quiz, and discover the areas that you need to develop.

A good place to start is to develop greater emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize the emotions, wants, and needs of yourself and of others. This is an important skill in interacting with others and in building good relationships.

It’s also important to know when you’re about to reach your limit for interactions in the day. Everyone has different symptoms for encounter stress, but a common one is withdrawing psychologically from others and working mechanically. Another common symptom is getting cranky, cold, or impersonal with others in your interactions. When you start to experience these symptoms, do whatever you can to take a break. Go for a walk, drink water, and practice deep breathing exercises.

Empathy is a valuable skill for coping with this type of stress, because it allows you to see the situation from the other person’s perspective. This gives you greater understanding and helps you to structure your communications so that you address the other person’s feelings, wants, and needs.

Note 1:

Crankiness and remoteness can also be symptoms of burnout. If you’re an enthusiastic, hard-working, committed person, make sure that you monitor yourself for this, and that you take action to avoid it.

Note 2:

The techniques that we mention in this article are intended to help you manage and overcome stress. However, stress can cause severe health problems and should be taken seriously. You should visit a qualified healthcare professional if you’re concerned that your stress levels are affecting your health.

Key Points

Dr Karl Albrecht published his model of the four common types of stress in his 1979 book, “Stress and the Manager.” These are:

  1. Time stress.
  2. Anticipatory stress.
  3. Situational stress.
  4. Encounter stress.

While everyone experiences different physical and emotional symptoms of stress, it’s important to understand how you respond to each one. When you can recognize the type of stress you’re experiencing, you can take steps to manage it more effectively.

Action Plans. Small-Scale Planning

Whether it’s sending out an email newsletter, putting together a presentation for senior managers, or working on a special request for a client, many of us have to complete simple projects as part of our day-to-day responsibilities.

These small- to medium-sized projects may, at first glance, not seem to need much thought. But, occasionally, we can overlook a key step or “to do” item that can derail all our efforts.

For instance, how do you make sure that you’ve covered everything? Are there any actions that need to be taken early on in the project for it to succeed? And are you clear about when you need to do key tasks, in what sequence, to meet your deadline?

Action Plans are simple lists of all of the tasks that you need to finish to meet an objective. They differ from To-Do Lists in that they focus on the achievement of a single goal.

Action Plans are useful, because they give you a framework for thinking about how you’ll complete a project efficiently. They help you finish activities in a sensible order, and they help you ensure that you don’t miss any key steps. Also, because you can see each task laid out, you can quickly decide which tasks you’ll delegate or outsource, and which tasks you may be able to ignore.

Using Action Plans

Use an Action Plan whenever you need to plan a small project.

To draw one up, simply list the tasks that you need to carry out to achieve your objective, in the order that you need to complete them. (This is very simple, but it is still very useful!)

Use the three-step process below to help you:

Step 1: Identify Tasks

Start by brainstorming all of the tasks that you need to complete to accomplish your objective.

It’s helpful to start this process at the very beginning. What’s the very first action you’ll need to take? Once that task is complete, what comes next? Are there any steps that should be prioritized to meet specific deadlines, or because of limits on other people’s availability?

Step 2: Analyze and Delegate Tasks

Now that you can see the entire project from beginning to end, look at each task in greater detail.

Are there any steps that you could drop, but still meet your objective? Which tasks could you delegate to someone else on your team, or could be dealt with by a freelancer? Are there any deadlines for specific steps? Do you need to arrange additional resources?

Step 3: Double-Check With SCHEMES

Use the SCHEMES* mnemonic to check that your plan is comprehensive.

SCHEMES stands for:

  • Space.
  • Cash.
  • Helpers/People.
  • Equipment.
  • Materials.
  • Expertise.
  • Systems.

You may not need to think about all of these to complete your project. For instance, for a small internal project to streamline the format of your team’s reports, you might only need to think about “Helpers/People,” “Expertise,” and “Systems.”

Note:

Once you’ve completed your plan, keep it by you as you carry out the work, and update it with additional activities if required.

Learning from Your Action Plan

If you think you’ll be trying to achieve a similar goal again, revise your plan after the work is complete, by making a note of anything that you could have done better.

For instance, perhaps you could have avoided a last-minute panic if you’d alerted a supplier in advance about the size of order you’d be placing. Or maybe you didn’t allow enough time to do certain tasks.

Tip:

If you’ll be doing similar work again, consider turning your plan into an Aide Memoire . This is a checklist that you progressively refine and improve to make sure that you remember to do everything important for success.

Managing Bigger Projects

Action Plans are useful for small projects, where deadlines are not particularly important or strenuous, and where you don’t need to co-ordinate other people.

As your projects grow, however, you’ll need to develop more formal project management skills, particularly if you’re responsible for scheduling other people’s time, or need to complete projects to tight deadlines.

Our Bite-Sized Training session on Planning Small Projects also teaches some useful project planning techniques.

You can also use Action Plans in conjunction with your To-Do Lists , or Action Programs .

Action Programs are “heavy duty” versions of To-Do Lists, which help you manage many simultaneous small projects. This is something that managers at all levels need to do routinely.

Key Points

An Action Plan is a list of tasks that you need to do to complete a simple project or objective.

To draw one up, simply list the tasks that you need to complete to deliver your project or objective, in the order that you need to complete them.

To do this, first brainstorm every step you’ll need to take to follow your task to completion. Then, analyze tasks to see if there are any that can be pruned, or delegated. Lastly, use the SCHEMES mnemonic to double check that you’ve considered all critical areas.

If you need to schedule people’s time, or meet tight deadlines as part of your project, consider using the other project management techniques mentioned.

3 Effective Business Development Strategies, getting started

 Effective Business Development Strategies, getting started

Over the past few years, organizations worldwide are beginning to understand the importance of business developers and the value they bring to the organization, although not all companies quit understand what business development managers do exactly.

If you are one of those people, please find the time to read this “What does it mean to be a business developer?”

Let us say you have just moved into a business development position from a sales or a marketing background, normally, big enterprises provide their employees with training and orientation, small and medium size companies on the other hand usually lack such processes, if you find your self confused about what to do, then keep on reading

In this article we will discuss business development activities that successful business development managers adopt to ensure success in their work, these main strategies are divided to three main parts:

  1. Business Development Activities
  2. Enhancing Public image
  3. Increasing market exposure

In this article, we will attempt to provide a summarized review of what you as a business developer should do to add value to your company.

1      Business Development Activities

1.1     Market Research

Performing market research is highly important in order to understand your company current position and determine where it is headed, for that, you will need to do the following:

  1. Perform research about the industry you are in, the geographical area you cover and the market segment you are targeting. There are many ready made reports about the industry, market, country over the Internet sphere that you can find useful, they inform you about market trends and value, you can then calculate your market share out of the total market value.
  2. Research for contracts, bids and opportunities of cooperation with other companies that your company can take to increase its channels of revenues.
  3. Subscribe to industry related databases, forums and blogs; these can be of great value to you, especially if you were in the construction or building industry as they provide detailed information regarding all projects within your area from concept to execution, this would save you plenty of time consumed normally in collecting information and vastly reduce your market intelligence efforts, use them wisely as leverage over your competition.

1.2     Competitive analysis

Once you learn everything you can about the products/ services your company offers, you have to learn about your competition in order to understand where you stand compared to others, it will also help you determine your desired market positioning, for that you will need to do the following:

  1. Determine your company top competitors (4-6 competitors)
  2. Set up a criteria or mechanism of comparison, choose different variables of which you will do the comparison with, this could be in the form of strengths/ weaknesses or in other form such as price, product quality, exposure, brand reputation, etc.
  3. Try to find out what are the projects your competitors are targeting within your market segment, assess if you can develop an offering that can win those business from them.
  4. Since you are a new employee, competitors do not know you yet, use that to visit your competitors showrooms (if they have any), therefore you can visit them anonymously like any regular customer and collect valuable input to use in your research.

1.3     Current Client Relations  

  1. Conduct warm calls to your existing clients, in order to assess the company current situation, what are you doing right/ wrong? In order to assess your strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats (SWOT Analysis) and ensure your clients are not being tempted by other competitors.
  2. Build close relationship with your clients, through the use of emails, phone calls, face to face meetings and product technical presentations in order to assess your client requirements and needs, do not forget to provide them with the latest copy of your marketing material.
  3. Follow up, Follow up, Follow up, do not push hard, but also do not give up easily, 80% of B2B sales are conducted after the 5th encounter.

1.4     Reach out to new clients

  1. Identify your main target audience sectors, then categorize the main companies you want to approach within these sectors.
  2. Conduct cold calls with the desired company and arrange meetings in order to identify their current supplier or service provider, find out why they are currently working with that supplier/ service provider and if they were happy about their current provider, tailor your sales pitch based on the given feedback to win the business.
  3. Email your marketing materials to existing clients & potential clients within your target audience in order to raise awareness about the latest products you added or new services you provide.
  4. Follow up, Follow up, and Follow up! Don’t push too hard but also do not give up. There are several email tracking tools that you can use, these can be useful as you will find out when a certain person have checked your email recently therefore you know that something must have come up and perhaps you should give your client a call.

1.5     Networking Events

As a BDM, spending your whole day inside the office will not be the best use of your time, you need to spend time out there, meeting people related to your market. Attending networking events can be of great value to you, you get to meet new people and learn new things about your market.

Attend industry related networking events, exhibitions, seminars, conferences and trade shows to be in contact with new; potential clients, having a booth in the exhibition is an advantage, however make sure it presents a good image and reflects the company brand identity, otherwise, you may be perceived to be unprofessional or cheap.

Attend as many industry related events as you can, make sure you follow up with a thank you email to everyone you meet the second day.

2      Enhancing the Public image

This strategy addresses the company’s image and how it is perceived by the different stakeholders, the company is a brand, and like any brand, you cannot control the way perceive it, however you can only try to influence your audience perception, this can be achieved through:

2.1        Website

  1. You can work with the marketing division or marketing specialists on enhancing the company website, making it more user friendly, with a clear call for action message to converge views into actions, a poorly designed website can repulse people from your business and can cause you to lose customers before you even have them.
  2. Make sure your website is ‘responsive’, what responsive means is that your website should be able to adapt to whatever browser used for view and it should also be able to fit multiple screens sizes depending on the gadget used to view your website (PC, Tablet, Laptop, Mobile, etc.)

III.        Proof read your website content and ensure there are no punctuation or grammatical mistakes within, your font must be clear enough to read without problems, these small mistakes can go unnoticeable most of the time, however for clients with an eye for details, your company will be perceived as unprofessional or of low quality.

  1. Use only high quality images on your website, low quality images may reflect bad image or poor quality, consider hiring a professional photographer to take some shots of staff in office or engineers working on site, these photos can be used on the website and for other marketing materials so don’t forget to archive these photos and label them for ease of use in future.
  2. Consider adding the organizational chart of your company to the website, at least for upper management, this could ease the life of the website viewers as it would be clear who does what inside the organization, and who they need to contact.

2.2     Branding

There should be only one integrated communication theme that governs the all aspects of your brand, whether online or offline your brand must reflect consistency.

Creating and implementing the below in compliance with your brand guidelines will ensure your company is presented with one unified, cohesive and professional image, addressing your customers in English is important, you need to consider your target audience, therefore adding the native language of your target audience is as important, your marketing material should include:

  • Company Profile
  • Generic Company Brochure
  • Product Catalogs
  • Branded Folder
  • Branded CD’s
  • Customer testimonials
  • Press Releases
  • A unified presentation template, also make sure all employees use it.
  • Short 1-3 minutes promotional videos that promotes the company and its products to be used on multiple platforms (YouTube, Exhibitions, Reception area, etc.).
  • A unified company signature for emails and make sure all employees use it.

2.3     Office

Ensure your company offices reflect the company brand image, this includes:

  • Reception Area should be equipped with marketing materials and business cards displayed in an attractive manner, available as takeaways for visitors.
  • Company videos are displayed on loop in the waiting area, it gives your visitors an opportunity to know more about your business while waiting.
  • Proper Signage displayed in all the company common areas, clearly displaying the company name and logo.
  • Common areas and staff offices must be clean, tidy, uncluttered and inviting, bathrooms must remain clean at all times.
  • Make sure that snacks and hot beverages are available at all times for visitors, served in an attractive dish wear.
  • Your conference room should always be ready to accommodate guests, trainings, seminars and meetings, therefore it should be equipped with a screen or projector, a laser pointer, teleconferencing equipment and a white board.

3      Increasing market exposure

3.1     Optimize your online presence

  1. Conduct and online reputation management research, this would ensure that all articles, posts, videos and comments out there present your brand in a positive manner.
  2. Develop your company presence over different social media platforms, ensure you choose your platforms according to your target audience (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.)
  3. Develop content to post on your different social media platforms, such as (Press releases, Success stories, case studies, promotional videos, ongoing training activities, testimonials, etc.)
  4. Increase your online exposure by applying search engine optimization techniques to enhance your online visibility.

By applying the above strategies, you can get ahead of your colleagues and reflect a professional image in front of your superiors, make sure you get upper management support for your actions, present them with a plan of what you want to do, they need to believe that what you are doing is in the best interest of the company, you will find that without upper management support, accomplishing the above strategies will be difficult if not impossible.

BOI – LENDING CRITERIA

The bank’s emphasis is on prudent project selection and management, accordingly, it supports quality projects with potential developmental impact. BOI therefore, considers industries that meet the following criteria:

  • Capacity to substantially add to industrial output.
  • Projects that use largely domestic raw materials.
  • Industry in which Nigeria’s comparative advantages could be converted to competitive ones.
  • Ability to promote the expansion of exports through the production of high quality products that are attractive to domestic and export markets.
  • Niche projects that produce for worldwide consumption.
  • Projects that create both forward and backwards linkages, with the rest of the domestic or regional economy.
  • Ventures that promote inter-state or regional integration.
  • Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that have linkage with large firms, belong to clusters and operate under franchise.
  • Enterprises with high employment generation capacity.
  • The project must be technically feasible, commercially viable and economically desirable.
  • Projects that are environmentally friendly.
  • Enterprises that have good management set-up and proper accounting procedures.
  • Enterprises promoted by women entrepreneurs.

The following industrial sub-sectors are also accorded priority in the project selection:

  • Agro-industries, textile and leather
  • Polymer –based industries
  • Solid minerals
  • Foundries
  • Information communication technology (ICT) services