‘Fall back’ into a new habit

The Organized Executive's Priority One

‘Fall back’ into a new habit

When we turn the clocks back the first weekend in November, it is easy to yield to the temptations of extra sleep or a lazy morning. Instead, seize the opportunity that the end of daylight saving time presents and ease into a productive new habit.

If you wake up on schedule that Sunday (an hour earlier by the new clock time), you can take advantage of a precious block of time: the early morning.

My brother-in-law used to wake at 4 a.m. to study, when he was an Air Force sergeant and father of two young children. I’ve confessed on The Organized Executive’s Blog that I’m not naturally a “morning person,” but I’ve come to appreciate the benefits of starting my day while others sleep. If you study the habits of successful executives, you’ll find that they don’t squander those precious early hours.

To make a new, earlier habit work for you—and resist the temptation to hit that “Snooze” button on your alarm—plan to use that first hour for something that is meaningful to you. If you hate to exercise, you’re unlikely to rise earlier to do it. However, if you designate the early morning for something you enjoy or are passionate about, you will start the day with a great attitude and you will free time later in the day for your “must do” items.

Over the next few days, review your goals and priorities and identify something that is worth leaving your cozy bed to do. List the benefits of devoting an uninterrupted hour, first thing in the morning, to that endeavor.

Of course, to stay on track you’ll need to go to bed earlier too. Without enough sleep, that extra hour in the morning will be worthless. So review how you spend your evenings and trim any time-wasters there.

Get more done, in less time, with less stress!

Ever had to hunt for a document that you desperately needed? A survey shows that workers waste an average of 2.5 hours every week just hunting for documents. That’s about 16 days a year—roughly equivalent to an employee’s vacation time.

And what about meetings? How much more work could you get done without meetings about how the work is going and updates that don’t even pertain to you? About 6.5 days’ worth of work—that’s how much. Just cut out an hour’s worth of meetings each week, and you would have an extra 6.5 days a year to do your “real” work.

So, how do we change our own habits and behaviors, and ultimately stop falling victim to the distractions that are claiming our time and our productivity?

The answer: Productivity Training Camp.

Join acclaimed speaker and trainer Bruce Lee for timely, mind-blowing techniques and systems for time management and project management that will help you reclaim your day—and accelerate your career. We are now offering this course two ways: online, starting Oct. 30 and in-person, Dec. 10-11 in Las Vegas. Choose the option that best fits your schedule!

At Home or in Your Office
Oct. 30-Nov. 20
Tuesdays, 1-4 p.m. ET
Register Online Now!

Las Vegas
Dec. 10-11
Register Online Now!

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Command attention when you speak

Communication Briefings E-Letter

Command attention when you speak

by Amy Beth Miller, editor, Communication Briefings

It’s little wonder that some people choose to send an email instead of trying to hold a conversation. After all, people often are looking at their computers or smartphones when you try to speak with them.

Forty-two percent of the readers who responded to last month’s poll said that’s their greatest annoyance when they try to talk with someone. Another 5% wrote in that people multitasking is their pet peeve.

If you want someone’s attention, ask for it. Here are some phrases you can use:

  • “This is important.”
  • “I’d like your undivided attention.”
  • “I’ll wait until you finish that.”

Or you can simply pause until the person turns his or her attention back to you. Then hold your listener’s attention by explaining why your remarks are important and by being brief.

Nearly a third of the respondents said people who interrupt when they are talking annoy them. Prevent that problem by assuring people that they will have an opportunity to speak after you finish. Example: “I’m going to outline the new procedures, and then I’ll answer your questions.” If someone does interrupt, take back control of the conversation. For example, you can say “I’ll be happy to listen to you after I make this final point.”

A few readers told us that people misinterpreting their remarks or forgetting what they said is their biggest problem. You can guard against both of those problems by sending a follow-up email to document your conversation. Example: “As we discussed today, you will provide X by Friday and I will do Y by Tuesday.”

You told us
Poor communication drives away a good employee

Last month we asked about the differences in how the men and women in your workplace communicate. One reader told us about a male employee who quit after two months because “two of the women he had to work with closely in the office chewed him up!”

“I don’t think it was done intentionally, however it was a classic respect issue,” Cindy told us. She had noticed the women’s bossiness and negative tone of voice, as if they were talking to a naughty child. They told him how to do his job, even though they had never done it, and they criticized him for not performing the way they thought he should.

“Men want to please and when we talk to them like they are incompetent or inept, we cut them off at the knees,” she said. Before leaving he told Cindy that he appreciated her treating him like a peer, not a subordinate.

“All things considered, I don’t blame him for leaving,” she said, but the organization lost a good employee who had a lot to offer.

Am I Making Myself Clear?

Am I Making Myself Clear?

Get Your Point Across Whenever You Communicate

With the advice presented in this multimedia product, you will learn to communicate your message effectively so that you prevent confusion, mistakes, conflict, low morale and poor productivity.

You will learn how to:

  • Communicate so that everyone fully understands your message and knows how to act on it.
  • Give clear instructions that get results.
  • Address employee performance issues.
  • Gain buy-in and support for your ideas.
  • And more!

Preview of the video.

Order today!

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Bringing zombies back to life: Ignite employees’ passion

Workplace Training Center e-letter

Bringing zombies back to life: Ignite employees’ passion

Halloween is approaching, and it’s got us thinking about zombies at work—those lifeless people that just go through the motions, working for a paycheck, but never really feeling excited about their work or engaged in their day-to-day activities. While your employees should take some responsibility for fueling their passion on the job, you play a big role too. Follow these tips presented in Successful Onboarding: Making New Hires’ First 90 Days Count to spark employees’ passion early on—and keep it burning:

  • Communicate your passion. Your energy and enthusiasm are contagious. If you focus on the negatives, your pessimism will spread. Conversely, if you are visibly proud of your organization and its employees, your passion will disseminate too.
  • Solicit employees’ input. Employees will be more engaged and passionate about their work if they know you value their insights, opinions and ideas. On the other hand, employees who feel neglected and unappreciated work only for a paycheck.
  • Share positive customer feedback. Too often praise from customers does not make it down to the employees who most deserve it: the ones on the front line. Celebrate those compliments with the whole team. You’ll raise morale and remind your staff that their hard work affects real people. That message increases motivation and passion.
  • Demonstrate how every employee’s contribution matters. Employees who can’t see how their work leads to the organization’s success are unlikely to become personally invested. Explain to your team how each person’s efforts help the organization reach its goals. If employees recognize their value, they will work more enthusiastically.

Successful Onboarding

Turnover-related expenses can add up to 200% of an employee’s salary. Regardless of your industry—or your employees’ pay rates—that kind of loss just can’t be justified.

However, there is a solution to reducing costly turnover: An effective onboarding program drastically increases the odds that your new hires will stick around for the long haul. The first 90 days on the job are critical to new hires’ long-term success with your organization, so make the most of every minute.

Successful Onboarding: Making New Hires’ First 90 Days Count provides you with a process for bringing new employees into your organization the right way. From the moment you extend your verbal offer, you will know what to do next to welcome employees, make them feel like part of the team and guide them to success.

This training kit includes the following:

  • The 16-minute video Professional Conduct 101: Vital Skills for New Employees, with a Trainer’s Guide and a Viewer’s Guide (a $149 value).
  • The 60-minute audio conference presentation Turning Good Employees Into Great Ones (a $229 value).
  • A 61-page workbook stuffed full of best practices, guides, tips, quizzes and more.
  • Dozens of print-ready and customizable forms that team leaders and employees can reference again and again.

View the Table of Contents. 

Order now for just $287!

If it’s management training you need, WorkplaceTrainingCenter.com is your one-stop shop for professional development!

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Ignite team members’ passion

Bud to Boss Take 5

Ignite team members’ passion

Problem: Lately, your team members have been doing fine, but you know they could do much better. Employees are meeting goals, but they’re not exceeding them. They’re showing up at meetings, but they’re not contributing innovative ideas. No one’s had a particularly bad attitude, but no one seems excited about their work either. What can you do to fire up your people?

Solution: Strong leaders understand that passionate employees don’t just happen. It takes a conscious, targeted effort to ignite people’s passion for their work. Follow these tips to foster passion in your employees:

  • Recognize real passion. First make sure that you’re not focusing on the wrong signs. If an employee doesn’t work late every night, it doesn’t mean that he hates his job. And if an employee logs long hours, it doesn’t mean she’s driven. To gauge employees’ passion, examine how they behave while they’re working and how they talk about their work. Are they in the zone and focused when they do their assignments? Are they eager to share their progress with the team or to explain your products and services to customers? If you can answer “Yes” to those questions, you probably don’t have a passion problem—even if your employees do head out at closing time. But if the answer is “No,” you have work to do.
  • Assign meaningful work. No one likes busywork. If employees are spending hours using ineffective scripts with customers, entering data that no one ever uses or attending meetings that have no relevance to them, they will not be enthusiastic about their work. Eliminate or improve tasks and processes that are outdated, flawed, inefficient or useless. Additionally, explain why their work is meaningful. Employees might not recognize how their assignments affect co-workers, customers and the bottom line. Show them those connections.
  • Be a thoughtful, trusting and just leader. Unfortunately, there are many ways to quash employees’ passion. If you don’t care enough to solicit their input or respect their ideas, then they will stop sharing them and they won’t be passionate. If you micromanage good employees and don’t provide them with any autonomy, they won’t be passionate. If you play favorites or blame others when things go wrong—you guessed it—they won’t be passionate. But if you are a good leader who cares about your employees, trusts them to do good work and treats them fairly, you are laying a foundation for passion.
  • Support growth. Ask your employees what their long-term goals are, and do what you can to help them achieve those ambitions. Encourage them to attend conferences and workshops that will widen their skill sets and expand their knowledge. Share industry-relevant periodicals and articles with them. Praise them for taking risks and tackling new projects.
  • Share your enthusiasm. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to express your excitement about your work, your team, your industry and your organization. When your staff members see how passionate you are, they will begin to pick up your fervor. It won’t happen overnight, so keep your energy level and optimism high.

Retaining Great Employees

Retaining Great Employees

Tactics for Hanging on to Your Best Talent

As a manager, so much is under your control. Even when your organization doesn’t offer the highest salaries, lavish perks or over-the-top benefits, you can keep your best employees on board simply by being a great supervisor.

The brand-new multimedia training tool Retaining Great Employees: Tactics for Hanging on to Your Best Talent will teach you the steps that you—the manager—should take to ensure that your employees are engaged, happy and with you for the long haul.

This product contains:

  • The 60-minute audio conference presentation Building a Magnetic Culture: How to Attract Top Employees, Engage Them and Make Them Want to Stay.
  • A 60-page workbook stuffed full of best practices, guides, tips, quizzes and more.
  • Dozens of print-ready and customizable forms that team leaders and employees can reference again and again.

View the Table of Contents.

Order today for the low price of $199!

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Houston, we have a problem: 5 ways to prepare for technology malfunctions

American Speaker Forum

Houston, we have a problem.
5 ways to prepare for technology malfunctions

by Catherine Ahern

Murphy’s Law—“Anything that can go wrong will go wrong”—may never be truer than when you’re dependent on technology for a presentation. Most of your presentations likely will be glitch-free, however, it’s ideal to prepare for the worst-case scenario so that you can quickly recover when something inevitably goes wrong.

Maybe your microphone will call it quits halfway through your speech or, worse, make that horrible screeching sound. Or perhaps your PowerPoint presentation won’t be compatible with your host’s computer or your projector’s lightbulb will die three minutes into your talk. Follow these tips to ensure that minor malfunctions like those don’t become major meltdowns:

  1. Make two (or more) versions of your presentation. If you are using slide software such as PowerPoint or Keynote, save your final presentation on a flash drive in two formats: one PPT or KEY file and one PDF file. If your host’s computer isn’t compatible with PowerPoint or Keynote, you can fall back on the PDF version. It won’t have all the bells and whistles, but it will be better than nothing. Tip: Email yourself both formats, just in case you misplace your flash drive.
  1. Bring hard copies of anything you can’t present without. Perhaps your host’s computer or projector won’t work at all. In that case, your PDF file won’t be of any use. Print and bring copies of your notes and most important visuals. You might be surprised by how few images need to share.
  1. Practice projecting your voice. Train yourself to speak loudly and clearly. If your microphone malfunctions, you won’t have to skip a beat. Exercise: Breathe in deeply to fill your lungs. Your waist and abdomen should move in and out when you breathe, not your chest. Note: If you are breathing correctly, you can project your voice without straining your vocal cords.
  1. Agree on a recovery plan with your host. Although IT folks have the best intentions, when they jump on stage, they can be more distracting than helpful. Before the event, talk to your host about how you want to address technology problems. Would you prefer that the IT experts immediately offer assistance or ignore problems until you request their help? How long would you want them to troubleshoot before giving up? Example: “If there’s a minor malfunction that can be fixed quickly with new batteries or a new lightbulb, I’d welcome the help. But if the issue isn’t likely to be resolved within a couple of minutes, I’d rather not lose the momentum. I am prepared to continue without the ”
  1. Remember that the audience is there to hear you. Unless you’re introducing the latest iPhone, the audience is far less interested in your technology than they are in your message. If your slide show doesn’t work or your video clip won’t play, simply apologize and move on. You don’t need those tools to convey your message. Your expertise and passion are far more important.

Sponsored by

Briefings Media Group Audio Conference

 The 2 Secrets of Mastering Presentations

October 25, 2012
1:30-2:30 p.m. Eastern

There are two secrets to mastering presentations that anyone can learn. In this audio conference, Carl Gould will share his distinct techniques for becoming a masterful presenter.

Regardless of the audience size or type, there is a very systematic way to engage audience members so that they are sitting at the edge of their seats, hanging on your every word. In this presentation, Gould will provide immediate insights that have made him one of the top-rated speakers on the national circuit. There is both an art and a science to public presentation. You can master them both!

Learning objectives:

  • Discover how to win over your audience in 8 seconds or less.
  • Recognize what an audience is looking and listening for.
  • Understand the importance of the message and the messenger.
  • Structure your presentation materials for maximum audience retention.
  • Tap into your authenticity while maximizing your transparency.
  • Leverage the power of mistakes.

Register today!

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10 rules for writing emails

First-Rate Customer Service Forum

10 rules for writing emails

While email is certainly an efficient means of communicating, it often is a source of confusion, frustration and anger. Without the benefit of seeing body language and hearing voice tone, recipients can interpret your words as being hostile or condescending. That can lead to dissatisfied customers and conflict between you and your co-workers. With some care, you can write clean, concise, clear emails that convey your message and intent. Follow these ground rules:

  1. Use a specific subject line so that readers know exactly what your email is about.
  1. Post a “call to action” in the subject line, such as “Please respond by August 1.”
  1. Keep it short so that recipients can view the entire message on one screen. If you find that your email is running too long, include the information as an attachment, and summarize the main points in the body of the email.
  1. Format the email for easy scanning. Organize chunks of information into different sections, and use boldface headers to indicate the different topics. Use numbers or bullet points to list pieces of information.
  1. Don’t bold, underline, italicize or capitalize entire words or phrases.Not only does it make a message hard to read, but it can come across as rude.
  1. Don’t jazz up emails with fancy fonts, colors, emoticons or other graphics. They can be distracting and look unprofessional.
  1. Omit any unnecessary information or verbiage and redundancy. Be polite but get right to the point. It’s ideal to focus on one topic in each email, unless you are providing a summary or status report.
  1. Read your message with an eye toward finding language that could be misconstrued or misunderstood. If you are unsure, rewrite or omit the copy. Better to be overly cautious than risk offending someone.
  1. Proof before sending. Run your spell- and grammar-check, but don’t rely on it totally. Read each line carefully, looking for correctly spelled words used incorrectly. Also ensure that you have spelled the recipients’ names correctly and provided accurate data.
  1. Send a large attachment only if you can confirm that the recipient’s server can receive it.

To learn 13 more rules for writing stronger emails, purchase Polite, Professional and Promotable: Etiquette for Today’s Workplace. This new training kit teaches you business etiquette ground rules for the workplace. Follow them, and you will prevent conflicts, build stronger work relationships, present a polished and professional image, and be seen as a model employee—the type that is sure to advance in your organization.

Polite, Professional and Promotable: Etiquette for Today’s Workplace

Polite, Professional and Promotable

The value of a courteous workplace

It’s all too easy to let common workplace courtesy and business etiquette go by the wayside, especially during busy or hard times. However, doing so is a huge mistake. One person’s bad habits can have a ripple effect through the whole team.

Polite, Professional and Promotable: Etiquette for Today’s Workplace presents the most important etiquette guidelines that everyone—from frontline employees to c-suite executives—must follow to foster a respectful and collaborative work environment.

This product includes:

  • The 60-minute audio conference Business Communication Etiquette: Dealing With Technology, with a companion PowerPoint presentation.
  • The 60-minute audio conference Business Communication Etiquette: Dealing With People, with companion PowerPoint presentation.
  • A 44-page workbook stuffed full of advice and etiquette guidelines.

View the Table of Contents.

Order for the incredibly low price of $199!

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The way you say it matters

The Organized Executive's Priority One

The way you say it matters

Text and instant messaging are quickly catching up to email and phone calls as the most frequently used communication tools. More than 80% of the readers who responded to our poll last month said they use text or instant messaging daily, while everyone said they use the phone and email.

Whether to tap out a text or IM, send an email or make a call is a choice that can affect how well you communicate with others and how productive you are. Pick the wrong method and you can waste time exchanging extra messages or clearing up misunderstandings.

Follow these guidelines:

  • Send a text or IM when the subject is simple, you need a quick answer and the message won’t disrupt the other person. Remember to change your IM setting to Busy or Unavailable when you don’t want to be interrupted.
  • Write an email when you need to distribute easy-to-understand information or want input or an answer and don’t need it for at least a few hours. If you expect your staff members to instantly respond to email, you are killing their productivity with interruptions.
  • Pick up the phone—or meet in person—to deliver sensitive information or discuss complex topics. One phone call can replace several rounds of email.

Take full advantage of the capabilities of each type of technology. You can add a photo to a text message, use voting buttons on an Outlook email for a simple group decision or make a video call when you can’t meet in person but seeing body language cues is important.

Finally, in this high-tech time the old-fashioned handwritten note can stand out when you want to convey praise or appreciation to someone. We were pleased to see that a quarter of poll respondents said they send handwritten letters or notes daily.

C3: Clear Concise Communication

C3: Clear Concise Communication

C3: Clear Concise Communication teaches you how to communicate in a direct manner—across all channels—to ensure that you get the results you want while avoiding the communication pitfalls that can wreak havoc in the workplace.

This multimedia resource includes:

  • The 17-minute video Am I Making Myself Clear? Get Your Point Across Whenever You Communicate, with a companion Trainer’s Guide and Viewer’s Guide.
  • The 60-minute audio conference presentation Screw the Elephants in the Room: Straight Talk in the Workplace.
  • A 66-page workbook stuffed full of best practices, guides, tips, quizzes and more.
  • A Customizable, Print-Ready Forms CD that trainers and trainees can reference again and again.

View the Table of Contents.

Order today!

Click here to receive The Organized Executive’s Priority One  twice each month!

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