Marketing with Customer Satisfaction in Mind

Posted by on Nov 7, 2017 in Business Processes, Coaching, Discovering Your passion, Effectiveness, Goal Setting for Success, Organizational Tips, Professional Career Development, Project Management, Taking the Leap, Time Management | Comments Off on Marketing with Customer Satisfaction in Mind

Hello, this is Laura Lee Rose – author of the business and time management books TimePeace: Making peace with time – the The Book of Answers:  105 Career Critical Situations – and I am a  business and efficiency coach that specializes in time management, project management and work-life balance strategies.

 

Today’s question comes from a busy professional:

When does marketing meet customer service?

If your marketing and customer service strategies do not meet somewhere, your customers will fall through the gap. Having an understanding of how these two departments come together for the customer experience is critical to delighting your customer throughout their relationship with your company. After all, the customer will look at these functions as coming from the company as a whole, and as independent departments.

With marketing’s job being the first contact with a customer and customer service happening much further down the customer life cycle, these two departments seemingly have no overlapping strategy. But, we know this is simply not true based on research which indicates that the customer expectations set by marketing in the beginning have a significant impact on customer service’s ability to please a customer later on.

 

Thank you so much for your well-thought out question.  Although the answer may be slightly different depending upon the specific market or industry, a good market plan normally starts with two pieces:

  • Marketing with the client in mind
  • Marketing with the product/service in mind

 

Marketing with the client in mind

The market plan begins with the target customer in mind.

  • Define your product/service/company’s differential or niche.
  • Define your target market or specific customer that needs or wants your product and service.
  • Imagine what will attract your target customer base and then create effective campaigns that will attract that customer base.

So – in essence, the entire market campaign is centered on attracting that perfect client.

Marketing with the product or service in mind

You also need to keep your product or service in mind while marketing.   You very well cannot market an automobile when you are selling a cat.  At the same time, some marketing campaigns over sell the product to get that signature on that dotted line.

This is the situation that sets the improper customer expectations. This is the situations that will impact your over customer satisfaction ratings and increase your customer service calls.

Money is in the balance

Customer and Company satisfaction occurs when customer and marketing expectations match.

  • The company makes money when the purchase price of the product outweighs the cost of making the product.
  • The company makes money when the client returns and refers other customers.
  • The client returns (and refers) when their expectations of value have been met or exceeded.

If marketing consistently over-promises to make a “sell”, they run the risk of eventually:

  • Overrunning the budget of time, materials, and resources to complete the task (costing the company more money than they would receive for the project)
  • Missing over-promised deadlines and product features to the client (costing the company the client’s return visits and referrals)

Even if the sales and marketing teams do succeed in this client contract, it’s unlikely that the client will return.

Ensuring Balance

To ensure balance, the marketing sales account manager work together with their production or creating services teams, from the start.

  • Both teams review the client contract or Statement of Work (which the production team is expected to fulfill).
  • Both teams are required to approve and sign-off on the features and delivery commitments.
  • The account manager then meets with the client to explain any changes to the feature list or delivery schedule.
  • The production team can also be available to answer any technical questions regarding the changes.

Once the contract or SOW is signed by the client, the product team can get started on the product or service.

It is also important to note that the account manager owns that customer relationship.  Therefore, once the product or service is completed, the account manager meets with the client to deliver the product, review the changes, explain its usage, review the original contract to illustrate all commitments have been met and get a feel for the client’s satisfaction.

the Main Event isn’t the Sell

Keeping both the company and client expectations in mind – upfront – can lead you to a successful conclusion.  A sell isn’t the main event.  The company is in the business of making money.  Therefore, you must always consider the cost of making that sell.

I know your situation is different.  If you would like additional information on this topic, please contact LauraRose@RoseCoaching.info

I am a business coach and this is what I do professionally.  It’s easy to sign up for a complementary one-on-one coaching call, just use this link https://www.timetrade.com/book/WFSFQ

 

With enough notice, it would be my honor to guest-speak at no cost to your group organization.

Building an all-star team of employees at a small business

Posted by on Oct 26, 2017 in Business Processes, Coaching, Discovering Your passion, Effectiveness, Goal Setting for Success, Organizational Tips, Professional Career Development, Project Management, Taking the Leap | Comments Off on Building an all-star team of employees at a small business

What do you look for when you’re building an all-star team of employees?

Do you seek out those who fit into your company culture, focus on skill sets, or look for enthusiasm? (Or maybe all of the above!) We’re a small business and entrepreneurs looking for tips when hiring team players.

Executives discussing documents at meeting

What makes this a difficult situation is that you are a small business.  You don’t have the time to invest in training someone green.  At the same time, you may not have the money to match the salary requirements of the more experienced candidates.

I’ve met with several entrepreneurs that focused on enthusiasm and personalities, with the hope that the new hire would grow into the position.  The problem is that as busy entrepreneurs and small business owners – you don’t have the time to train the new hire.  What eventually happens is that the new hire never meets expectations, because they are never given the training that they were expecting.

  • The small business owners still does many of the jobs that the new person was hired to do AND pay the new hire her salary.
  • The new hire is frustrated because she can’t get the proper training AND gets reprimanded because she isn’t doing the job correctly.

Breaking the Cycle

There are a few ways to break this cycle.

  • Contract those duties or tasks to freelance talent
  • Hire a training consultant for the new employee
  • Hire an experienced, older employee on a sliding scale

 

Contract or freelance talent

The advantage of hiring contract or freelance talent is that you only hire when you need that particular talent or task completed.  It depends on the task that is required, of course.

For simple administration and executive assistant duties, you can call upon Virtual Assistants services.  This is great if your needs are a few hours or days a week.

There are also several freelance services for graphics, audio, video, copy-writing, social media and marketing.

The assumption with these contract services is that there is little training required, and if you are not satisfied with their work, you can change resources at the end of the short-term contract.

 

Training consultant

If you need full-time, in-house staff consider hiring a training consultant to create your orientation materials, your employee handbooks, document your desired procedures and then train your new hires.

This allows you to hire younger, less experienced staff (at lower rates), give them the training and orientation attention they deserve, without adding to your already overflowing plate.

 

Hiring experience, older employees

 

The last possibility is to look at experienced but older candidates.  Often times, older candidates have less expenses.  Their children are grown; they own their own home with no mortgage; and they have little debt.  They may even understand the difficult situation of the small business owner.

Therefore; they may be open to sliding salary scale (a lower starting salary with regular review for increases based on the success of the company).

I know your situation is different.  If you would like additional information on this topic, please contact LauraRose@RoseCoaching.info

I am a business coach and this is what I do professionally.  It’s easy to sign up for a complementary one-on-one coaching call, just use this link https://www.timetrade.com/book/WFSFQ

 

With enough notice, it would be my honor to guest-speak at no cost to your group organization.

How can we tackle multiple language issues within our portal?

Posted by on Oct 17, 2017 in Business Processes, Coaching, Effectiveness, Goal Setting for Success, Professional Career Development, Project Management, Time Management | Comments Off on How can we tackle multiple language issues within our portal?

Today’s question comes from a busy entrepreneur:

How can we tackle multiple language issues within our portal?

I am currently involved in the management of a B2B platform, eWorldTrade. The problem is that we cannot hire thousands of customer service representatives to deal with the huge number of clients registering everyday belonging to different countries.

The problem with most of the countries is that they prefer to speak a language other than English and we cannot hire that many people to tackle this issue. How do you handle such a problem?

Congratulations for fully embracing the global trade environment. As you know, the language and time zone obstacles are just a few of the challengers you are experiencing.  Staffing for every language is a daunting.

First – don’t assume that all customers need the same level of support.

Here are a few things to consider before hiring.

Know your customers

Find out exactly where your clients are, the language they speak, and their communication preference.  Even though you may have a large percentage of clients in a specific country – many of those clients may prefer to communicate via email or “not at all”.  They may prefer getting their information via whitepapers, videos, or other means.

You can log and track their preferences quickly through a registration form.  A simple questionnaire on their communication and language preference will manage this piece.  Also ask if they understand English (or whatever your primary language for your company will be).

Update your CRM (Customer Relationship Management system) with this information.

Update your List Management server to create groups or segment based on communication preferences.

Hire multilingual customer support staff

With the above information, determine which will be your top 3 primary languages and staff a few multilingual customer support staff members. These multilingual employees should be placed as 2nd-line help support staff.  The first-line help support staff will initially handle the customer calls, and will pass to the 2nd-line when they have hit an issue they cannot solve.

Placing the multilingual employees as the 2nd-line of help, allows you to handle many more language issues (versus placing the multilingual employee on the actual help line).  These 2nd-line support employees will also be responsible for translating alternative support documents (more about this in the next section).

Supplement with alternative support information

Create and translate a series of alternative customer support materials:

  • Create an FAQ document that you continually add
  • Include tutorials and other informational/educational documents
  • Add closed captions/annotation to videos in the various languages
  • Translate your regularly scheduled emails or newsletters

Tying it together

This method allows you to provide various customer solutions in multiple languages with limited resources.  Since you have already employed multilingual 2nd-line support staff, you already have in-house translators.

Because your CRM will include your client’s language preference, you can forward the appropriate documents in the appropriate language to your clients.  You will also understand which languages you need.

Because your List Management system is already segmented into client communication preferences, you can easily mail your newsletters/emails in different languages to the appropriate sub-lists, groups or segments.

Hope this helps a little.

 

How to best leave your current job

Posted by on Sep 25, 2017 in Business Processes, Coaching, Effectiveness, Goal Setting for Success, Professional Career Development, Project Management, Time Management | Comments Off on How to best leave your current job

Hello, this is Laura Lee Rose – author of the business and time management books TimePeace: Making peace with time – the The Book of Answers:  105 Career Critical Situations – and I am a  business and efficiency coach that specializes in time management, project management and work-life balance strategies.

Today’s question comes from a busy professional:

I’m searching for career expert that will answer this question: “When someone has accepted another position and preparing to leave their current job, what is the best advice you’d give them?”

There are several ways or reasons to leave your current job:

  • New job at same company but different department or location
  • New job at a different company
  • Starting your own business
  • Retiring

Remain Professional

In all cases, my best advice is to always remain professional.  This means:

  • Document all your projects and make all your notes available – so that others can pick up exactly where you left off.
  • Leave your number in case they need to consult with you on some things after you leave.  (People rarely will take you up on that offer – but it’s really the thought/offer that counts)
  • OFFER to contact your clients and introduce them to the person taking over for you  This provides your clients a smooth continuity to the new person as well as lets them know what’s going on.
  • OFFER to meet with the person taking over for you – to review all your documents, notes and answer questions about clients, etc
  • Give 2 weeks’ notice – so that you can do the above transition

The Handoff

Regardless of why you leave, you want to be seen as a valuable contributor – even as you walk out the door.  One way to illustrate your value is the handoff.   This is where you outline all your tasks, procedures and assets used to do your role.

Unfortunately, more times than not, you will not have an actually “person” to train or prepare for your departure.  Many employers fail to identify a replacement until you are long gone.  This means you need to be document everything of significance.  I recommend you document all the time, while you are in the current job.  There may be times when you are on vacation, out sick, or considered for a larger position.  Having your hand-off documentation always available allows you to either temporarily or permanently walk away with the confidence that everything will still run smoothly because of your preparedness.

Client Handoff

Contacting your clients and introducing them to the “new person” is another hand-off item.  Make sure to check with your supervisors before contacting your clients because some employees prefer to handle that piece differently.  But you should always offer because it:

  • Illustrates your commitment to your clients
  • Put the client notification on the employee’s radar as an important aspect of the hand-off

Giving Notice

Giving 2 weeks’ notice is not as common as in the past.  Depending upon the reason for your departure, your employer may choose to release you sooner.  But I still recommend it.  A 2-week’s notice gives you the time to execute a professional hand-off to co-workers, clients and other assets.

Life is full of twists and turns. You will never know when your paths are going to cross again.  Therefore, you want to be professional at all times.

I know your situation is different.  If you would like additional information on this topic, please contact LauraRose@RoseCoaching.info

I am a business coach and this is what I do professionally.  It’s easy to sign up for a complementary one-on-one coaching call, just use this link https://www.timetrade.com/book/WFSFQ

With enough notice, it would be my honor to guest-speak at no cost to your group organization.

 

What stops people from starting a business?

Posted by on Sep 1, 2017 in Business Processes, Coaching, Effectiveness, Goal Setting for Success, Professional Career Development, Project Management, Time Management | Comments Off on What stops people from starting a business?

A busy professional has this question regarding to starting a new business.

What is stopping people from starting a business when they have a good idea?

We all have ideas, skills, knowledge, and experiences learned throughout our lives. We all have thought about our ideas and what we can do with them. From the things we see, hear, and buy, we think about how we can make them better or how we can make something completely new. But what stops people from doing something about it?

Like many things, it is both a combination of things and different for everyone.

Starting a business is scary.

Besides “a good idea”, it takes time, talent, determination, and finances.

Most people are more comfortable with a consistent and reliable income.  After all, the bills will continue to come whether you work for someone or start a new business. Leaving a good paying job with a stable income to jump into a new venture with an unknown income is daunting.

It usually takes a new business about 5 years to become both profitable and consistent.  Most businesses fail within the first two years, because they don’t have the finances to sustain the start-up cost or the time for the product to attract customers.

If you are serious about starting a new business, consider these first steps.

Conduct market research

Even if it’s a good idea or improves a current product, there are lots of things to be considered.

  • Is there a large enough market for this product or improvement to sustain a business?
  • Does it really answer a need that can’t be solved by any other product or service?
  • Are consumers willing to pay a price that not only covers your manufacturing cost but leaves you with a profit?
  • How easy would it be for a competitor to duplicate your product? Is it patentable? Novel? And defendable?
  • Is idea really a business or just a one-hit novelty item?

This requires market research.  You need to investigate the current market need, the competitors, the price people are willing to sustain, how saturated the market is with similar products, etc.  This takes time and money to properly research.

Create a business plan

Successful business owners create a feasibility study and business plan to determine if they should even take this step.   The business plan contains your mission, vision and business goals.  It outlines the required finances.   It not only identifies the start-up costs, but how long it will realistically take to produce a steady income.

It identifies the target market, their demographics, spending habits, need for the product, etc.  I should also include a marketing plan to attract the right clients (those interested in purchasing your product/service at the price you want to command).

Staffing

Then there’s the staffing issue.  Even though it may be your idea, you may not have all the expertise to design, manufacture, market, brand, create the appropriate on-line/offline presence, design the packaging and promote yourself or your product.  There’s also accounting, legal, and competitive analysis.

You will need assistance in many of these areas.  Make sure you have a majority of these activities covered in your business plan.

Finances

Make sure you have the finances to cover the manufacturing, staffing needs and your salary for the next 5 years.  Financing can be acquired through loans, investors, savings, partners, etc.

Make sure you have these finance issues covered in your business plan.

Doing these things before you start your business with accomplish two things:

  • Help decide if your idea is a viable business
  • Increase the likelihood of success

 

Hope this helps a little.

 

As a manager, how can you save your company from going bankrupt?

Posted by on Aug 18, 2017 in Business Processes, Coaching, Effectiveness, Goal Setting for Success, Organizational Tips, Professional Career Development, Project Management, Taking the Leap, Time Management | Comments Off on As a manager, how can you save your company from going bankrupt?

A busy professional has this question regarding his professional career.

As a manager, how can you save your company from going bankrupt?

I want to know how you would manage a company that is going to fail. Should I give up or should I continue? 

Firstly, I would like to commend you on your desire to assist with the success of the company.  Too many of us see our positions as merely marking the work day time.  We strive to stay in our role and not venture into other areas that can assist in the success of the company (and therefore the success of the whole).

Unfortunately, without knowing your current position/department or relationship with the owners, I can only speak in generalities.  For instance – if you are the manager and NOT the owner, your influence over the company’s success is directly proportionate to your influence over the owners.

Also, sales drive the business bus.  If you are in a direct position to assist with sales, you have a better opportunity to affect revenue.

How much influence do you have

Therefore, the first step is to assess how much influence do you have with the executive branch.

  • If you are manager, are you a lower level manager or do you have direct and regular access to the executive brand?
  • Have the executive brand regularly taken your advice and counsel previously? If they haven’t in the past, they are unlikely to do so in crises.
  • Are you in a position to bring direct change in revenue? Can you bring in immediate sales leads, convert leads into sales quickly, influence current clients to successfully refer your company’s services to others, and not only retain current clients but continually up-sale them to higher priced services.

How much effort do you want to put in

If you have that much insecurity in the success or failure of the venture, do you really want to be the one turning off the lights?  First and foremost, you need to decide what is best for you.

Regardless whether you stay at this company or move on, your goal should continually be to search out what it best for you.

You and your talent are valuable.  So, decide what you want from your effort.

For example:

  • Are you willing to invest money into this company and become an executive partner to save the company?
  • Are you willing to reach out to your family, friends, and business network to locate venture capital, investors or sponsors to save this company? If you decide to do this, make sure the company is worthy of your network and reputation.
  • Are you willing to put your reputation on the line for the success of this company?
  • Are you willing to put in 60-80 hours to make someone else’s company successful?

Should you move on

Decide what you are getting out of this company (both professionally and personally).  If what you are getting out of the company is equal (or better) than what you are putting in – we should chat regarding your specific situation.  With a few more details about the company and your background, I would be able to give additional recommendations specific to your situation.

If it is less, then we should chat regarding your next steps.

It’s a business

At the end of the day, the company will make business decisions.  Many employees will stay loyal to their employers longer than the company can support that loyalty.  Therefore, make the decisions that are best for you and your career.

Hope this helps a little.

How to objectively measure soft skills in employee feedback?

Posted by on Aug 18, 2017 in Business Processes, Coaching, Effectiveness, Goal Setting for Success, Professional Career Development, Project Management, Time Management | Comments Off on How to objectively measure soft skills in employee feedback?

Last article we were discussing “How to give feedback employees will here?”  In that article, we used very objective examples.  It was easy to measure performance against technical tasks, but how does one determine SMART goals for soft or people skills?

Let’s review the same tips, but this time – with soft skills examples.

Setting the stage

Giving an effective feedback starts with understanding your employees’ goals and career objectives.  Once you understand the “why” the employee comes to work – the better you can connect the feedback to their goals.

For example, if they want to eventually lead the team or become a manager, then focus on the skill sets that will help them achieve those goals.

For example:  Managers require:

  • Problem Solving and Decision Making.
  • Planning
  • Delegation
  • Internal Communications.
  • Meeting Management.
  • Managing Yourself

These business goals need to be S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable/Attainable, Relevant and Time bound).  With SMART goals, it’s very easy for both the employee and manager to agree whether the goals were met or exceeded.

Some examples of SMART PBC might be:

  • Successfully complete management courses XYZ within 6 months
  • Successfully complete time and project management course ABC within 3 months
  • Successfully participate and deliver executive summary reports in 3 executive staff meetings by Dec 15th
  • Speak at (at least) 2 technical conferences regarding how you solved a critical situation regarding this industry
  • Select and mentor at least 1 person to take over some of your coding, debugging and documentation tasks. Successfully hand-of at least one maintenance project to your protégé.
  • Create and implement an internal communication plan for your department within 3 months
  • Successfully project manage/schedule/budget 1 project start from finish (with supervision) during this performance period

 

As you can see, greeing upon this soft-skills SMART goals actually commits the manager to help her employee succeed.

Barriers to hearing

The most prevalent barrier to hearing and understanding feedback is our mindset.  The moment your supervisor releases a perceived negative comment, we automatically go into defensive mode.  Our brain immediately will find situations that negative what was just been said or provide detailed reasons/excuses for the events.

Best advice is to continually focus on the SMART goals or commitments set at the start of the year.  Use the agreed upon PBCs as your starting point.  Since your PBCs will have specific metrics and goals in place for each performance commitment, it will be easy to determine if the criteria has been met.

For example, If one of the PBC goals was to speak at (at least) 2 technical conferences regarding how you solved a critical situation regarding this industry – it is very easy to tell if they accomplished this goals.

Then simply ask the employee if he/she feels if they have met that particular goal.

Repeat this until all the PBC goals are reviewed.

Making sure employees get it

Once you and the employee have agreed upon the status of the PBC goal, ask their opinion on where to go from here.

For instance, if the employee agrees that he/she did not meet this soft skill goal – you can now start a discussion on where to go from here.

The discussion is focused on working on a solution together. Brainstorm on some titles and abstracts they can present.  Show him/her how to search for technical conferences in your industry and advise him/her to start submitting abstracts.  Once the abstract is accepted, encourage him/her to practice on co-workers and local professional organizations.  Encourage him/her to conduct a webinar or video their talk.  The more they practice, the better their soft skills.

As you can see – these discussions then become the foundation of their next PBC SMART goals.

Keep them involved

At the end of the day, keeping your employees involved and engaged in their own career development is key.

 

When is the best time to add projects to our tracker

Posted by on Aug 16, 2017 in Business Processes, Coaching, Effectiveness, Goal Setting for Success, Organizational Tips, Professional Career Development, Project Management, Taking the Leap, Time Management | Comments Off on When is the best time to add projects to our tracker

A busy professional has this question regarding time management:

When is the best time to add projects to our tracker, when a client pays or when we receive a RFP (Request for Proposal)?

We are finalizing our project management and service provision policies and although we track work from the moment we have to submit a proposal, we want to make sure we aren’t wasting valuable time tracking projects that don’t follow through. But we still want to be prepared with assignments and tasks when the bottom line is signed.

Clarify your goals for project management

The simple answer is to follow your GOAL.

Is your goal really to not waste valuable time tracking projects that don’t follow through?  Or is your goal to make sure nothing falls through the cracks, that everything runs smoothly and efficiently;  and make sure your quality connectivity is maintained?

If your goal is to make sure nothing falls through the cracks, everything runs smoothly and quality connectivity is maintained – then you really do need someone to track every step from conception through delivery and deployment (and even afterward regarding maintenance and up-sale opportunities).

Every project created equal

Does everyone have to be involved in every step? No.

Does every project have to be handled the same way? No.
Should someone be steering the ship throughout every journey? Yes.
Should someone be collecting metrics throughout every project? Yes.
Do you have to use the same tracker or project plan for every phase? No.
Not every project is created equal.  You don’t have to treat every project the same.  Having said that, you should have every project tracked from start to end.

The benefit for tracking everything is that you will be learning how long things actually take, how much things actually cost, etc. Even if the project doesn’t go to the end – you have collected valuable information to reuse and improve your cost and time estimates for future projects. You will have collected valuable data for process improvement.

Problem with tacking after payment

You also have the possibility of the contract being signed, without up-front payment. They may pay on a payment plan OR upon delivery. In those cases, it doesn’t help you to start tracking only when the client pays.

Tracking before the RFP

You should actually be tracking your time and effort regarding lead-to-sales effort as well (i.e. how long it takes from receiving the lead to actually being able to submit a proposal). Tracking the steps, time and effort in this sales process also provides invaluable data regarding process improvement, need for additional sales tools or training. The overall goal is to reduce that lead-to-RFP time; as well as improve the Lead-to-Sale conversion numbers.
Does this type of sales project management tracking need to be the same as the development project management tracking tool? No. Sales could use their CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool to track and analyze their effectiveness.

Bottom line – you aren’t wasting valuable time tracking projects, although you can waste your time collecting/tracking the wrong data. You can always, always, always use proper tracking information to good use. You just need decide the right metrics to collect and make the data useful to you.

How to give feedback employees will hear?

Posted by on Aug 11, 2017 in Business Processes, Coaching, Discovering Your passion, Effectiveness, Goal Setting for Success, Organizational Tips, Professional Career Development, Project Management, Taking the Leap, Time Management | Comments Off on How to give feedback employees will hear?

A busy professional has this question regarding employee performance reviews.

She asked:

  • How to give feedback employees will hear?
    What are some tips for giving effective feedback?
  • What are the barriers to hearing and understanding feedback?
  • When giving feedback, how can you make sure employees get it?

 

Who needs the feedback the most?

These are very good questions.  Before we answer each of them, lets review some reasons employees need constructive feedback.

  • They are doing well but seem too comfortable in their current position. They don’t seem to have any desire for advancement
  • They are average performers but are essentially falling behind because those around them are excelling
  • They are excelling
  • They are performing below expectations

As you can see, the need for employee feedback isn’t isolated to those that are not performing as expected.  Exceptional, Above Average, and Average employees all need constructive feedback.

Setting the stage

Giving an effective feedback starts with understanding your employees’ goals and career objectives.  Once you understand the “why” the employee comes to work – the better you can connect the feedback to their goals.

For example, if they want to eventually lead the team or become a manager, then focus on the skill sets that will help them achieve those goals.

These business commitments or goals need to be agreed upon at the start of the performance review year.  These documented PBC (Personal Business Commitments) tie the individuals role/responsibilities to the company goals.  Everyone understands how they can individually contribute to the company’s success.   These PBCs can then be reviewed several times during the year and before the official performance review.  Setting the stage in this manner makes feedback easier, because everyone involved understands both the employer and employee expectations.

These business goals need to be S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable/Attainable, Relevant and Time bound).  With SMART goals, it’s very easy for both the employee and manager to agree whether the goals were met or exceeded.

Barriers to hearing

The most prevalent barrier to hearing and understanding feedback is our mindset.  The moment your supervisor releases a perceived negative comment, we automatically go into defensive mode.  Our brain immediately will find situations that negative what was just been said or provide detailed reasons/excuses for the events.

Best advice is to continually focus on the SMART goals or commitments set at the start of the year.  Use the agreed upon PBCs as your starting point.  Since your PBCs will have specific metrics and goals in place for each performance commitment, it will be easy to determine if the criteria has been met.

For example, If one of the PBC goals was to standardize code reviews in the development team to reduce delivered defects to test group by 30% – and the employee (team leader) still does not conduct regular code reviews and the defect rates to test group are on the rise – all you need to do is share the past defect rate and current defect rates.

Then simply ask the employee if he/she feels if they have met that particular goal.

Repeat this until all the PBC goals are reviewed.

Making sure employees get it

Once you and the employee have agreed upon the status of the PBC goal, ask their opinion on where to go from here.

For instance, if the employee agrees that the team did not meet the defect rate goals – he/she also agrees that standardized code reviews would have caught a number of these defects by simple review – and therefore would have been fixed prior to sending to the test team, you can now start a discussion on where to go from here.

The discussion is focused on working on a solution together. Perhaps it’s unrealistic for the team to take the time to gather and code-review each other’s work.  Perhaps there isn’t enough time in the schedule to detail code review.  Therefore perhaps the next assignment is for the team leader to investigate and recommend a development tools that automatically code reviews. The mandate then becomes 80% of all the code review defects are fixed before handing to the test group.   Perhaps the new PBC is to automate the unit tests going forward such that a set of automated acceptance tests are run before handing off to the test group.    Then the development teams continually add to the unit tests as they go along.

As you can see – these discussions then become the foundation of their next PBC SMART goals.

Keep them involved

At the end of the day, keeping your employees involved and engaged in their own career development is key.  Although the above examples were technical, this method also works on soft or people skills.

How to set the right priorities?

Posted by on Aug 8, 2017 in Business Processes, Coaching, Discovering Your passion, Effectiveness, Goal Setting for Success, Organizational Tips, Professional Career Development, Project Management, Taking the Leap, Time Management | Comments Off on How to set the right priorities?

A busy professional has this question regarding time management:

How to set the right priorities?

I have a lot on my to-do list and I tend to focus on the day to day tasks I have. I am finding it hard to find time to focus on some of my strategic goals because the rest of my to-do items take up all of my time. I am thinking I need to do a better job at setting priorities. How do others tackle their strategic goals while getting all of their pressing daily tasks done?

Every successful person will have their own system.  And I believe that the best system is the one that works best for you. Having said that upfront, here is what I recommend.

Start with the end in mind

I applaud you for having your strategic goals clearly defined.  Often people go through life without a strategic plan for their personal, professional, social and career lives.  It is these same folks that wonder where time has gone and why they haven’t accomplished more with the time they were given.

Outlining a simple mission statement for your personal, professional, social and career purpose will help keep you on track.  After all, how can you stay on course if you haven’t plotted a destination?  If you don’t know where you are going, you deserve anywhere you end up.

So – get a 360° mission statement which includes all significant aspects of your life.

Outline your imperatives

Once you have your 360° mission statement, carve out the imperative things that need to be accomplished to support those statements. Imperatives are those things that – if everything else were to disappear from your live – your life would still be happy and fulfilled.

For instance, perhaps one of your personal mission statements/desires is to be closer to your family and increase quality time with them.  You then realize that your family is an imperative.  That’s something that – if everything else were to disappear – you would still be very happy.

So you now have prioritized your family as one of your imperatives.

Some other imperatives might be your health, working on things that you are passionate about, getting great satisfaction by helping others or the community, be recognized and accomplished in your career – whatever creates joy in you.  Nothing is wrong – it’s just your individual imperative list.

Create supportive tasks

Once you have your imperative list, create realistic actions/activities to accomplish those goals. Create them in the form of SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound).

For example: To accomplish getting closer to your family, commit to a block of time each week for quality time with family members (sans electronics and distractions).

To be recognized and accomplished in your career, commit to working with a mentor or business coach to identify your career road-map and subsequent skill gaps.

To give back, commit to volunteer your talents to a non-profit organization.  I would also recommend volunteer to a position that also supports and enhances your career.  For instance, if you wanted to improve your skill set in web-design, offer to design the website for a non-profit.  Combining the two imperatives will be of greater benefit to you.

Schedule the time

Once you have your SMART goals identified, take out your calendar and block the time out in your calendar.  Treat these assignments as imperative, and allow the day-to-day activities fill the gaps around them (instead of the other way around).

Bottom line:

Every day activities will always fill in the gaps.  So, if you don’t deliberately and mindfully create the space (schedule it in your calendar with a “DO NOT DISTURB”), you will never have the time to accomplish your most important activities.

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