Messages matter more to people when they’re relatable on a human level. Typically, only stories elicit that kind of response. You can repeat stories you’ve heard, but audiences feel more affection for presenters who reveal their own challenges and vulnerability by giving personal anecdotes. Choose ones that are appropriate for the occasion — they’re relevant and have the right level of drama.
Think of stories in advance so that you have an arsenal you can draw on again and again. Brainstorm past events, such as important times in your life — childhood, adolescence, young adulthood — what you learned, and who you learned it from — teachers, bosses, mentors. Jot down any stories you remember and the emotions they might elicit.
Keep a catalogue of these stories to help you prepare future presentations.
Today’s Management Tip was adapted from the HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations.
Great leaders ensure that their successors are not only prepared to take the reins, but are poised to surpass past accomplishments. Start small and support one person — a direct report, or a more junior person who you have trust in — with your experience, skills and network. Explain why you believe in her and how you plan to aid her development. Put her in touch with contacts, sing her praises, and give her frank feedback.
Once you’ve seen success, expand on it — develop a bench of employees capable of rising to a level greater than yourself and bringing your company with them.
Adapted from “Your Greater-Than-Yourself Project” by Steve Farber.
When it comes to business writing, some people feel paralyzed by grammar. But it’s important to distinguish between the rules that help writing and those that hinder it. There are some outdated “rules” that grammarians have long dismissed as ill-founded and unnecessary. For example, you may have been told in school never to begin a sentence with a conjunction. But look at how many times “and” and “but” begin sentences in high-quality prose.
As sentence-starters, these words keep readers following a train of thought and are more colloquial than “additionally” or “however.” It’s also acceptable to end a sentence with a preposition. A sentence with a terminal preposition may sound far more natural than the same sentence forced into avoiding one. “What will the new product be used for?” sounds much better than “For what purpose will the new product be used?”
Today’s Management Tip was adapted from “Those Grammar Gaffes Will Get You” by Bryan A. Garner.
If you struggle to find new ideas in your organization, don’t assume there aren’t any. Instead, look at the ideas’ processes before they’re presented. Are they batted around, revised, screened, and debated before anyone with authority sees them? Instead of thoroughly vetting ideas before they reach senior management, find ways to expose executives to ideas when they’re raw. Skip the PowerPoint presentation—it only creates high expectations for a slick, refined idea.
Remove the well-intentioned gatekeepers from the process. Hold an idea science fair where people present ideas in their earliest stages on poster board to a room of mingling executives who can stop to discuss ideas that catch their attention.
Adapted from “How Iteration-itis Kills Good Ideas” by Scott Anthony.
Don’t assume your high performer knows how good she is. Instead, use these three tips to give her the feedback she wants and deserves:
•Identify development areas. There may only be a few and you may need to work hard to identify and articulate them, but help your star understand what she can get better at.
•Show your appreciation. Failing to say thank you is a simple and common mistake. Your stars need feedback and praise just as much as everyone else.
•Give feedback often. Don’t wait for review time. High performers thrive off feedback and it’s your job to give it frequently.
Adapted from “Giving a High Performer Productive Feedback” by Amy Gallo.
You don’t have to raise your voice to appear to be yelling. There are many ways to inaudibly be aggressive: sending nasty emails, enlisting others to exert pressure, and escalating disputes to your boss, to name a few. Yelling, even when done quietly, betrays your frustration and anger, and certainly doesn’t encourage real understanding or acceptance of your message. If you find yourself in a silent shouting match, restart and reframe the discussion. Take a step back and ask the other party to as well.
Work backwards by asking questions like: What are our shared goals? What do we want to accomplish? From this defused spot, you have a much better chance of making progress.
Adapted from “Turn Down the Volume on Yelling!” by Ron Ashkenas.
The best salespeople see a sale as a consultation, not a transaction. They find ways to benefit the customer beyond what the product offers. Here are three ways you can be more valuable to your potential clients:
• Help clients see issues they hadn’t considered. Don’t start by lecturing a customer about the problems you see in her business. Lead a conversation, prompt her to explore deeper issues, and then offer thoughtful diagnoses as the discussion progresses.
• Point out opportunities they’ve missed. If you can identify them, help your customer see untapped possibilities – markets, technologies, trends – that will allow his business to grow.
• Refer them elsewhere, when necessary. Not every client needs what you’re offering. When that happens, connect them with people who can help think through a complex issue or point them to another vendor who has what they need.
Today’s Management Tip was adapted from “Would Customers Pay for Your Sales Calls?” by Scott Edinger.
When you’re telecommuting — and your colleagues aren’t — the burden is on you to make things work. Here are three ways to prove you’re a valuable team member, even if you’re not in the office every day:
• Understand the expectations. Should you match your colleagues’ hours? Is it OK to take appointments during business hours without telling your manager? Actually ask those questions; don’t just assume you know the answers.
• Make the most of face-to-face time. When you are in the office, fill your calendar with meetings — breakfast, lunch, and dinner — to build relationships. Ask people about themselves and their work.
• Be seen. Make yourself more than a disembodied voice on a telephone line. Improve your visibility by videoconferencing whenever possible. Even though you’re at home, dress professionally and keep your desk clean.
Today’s Management Tip was adapted from the HBR Guide to Managing Up and Across.
An interview with Stewart Friedman, Professor, University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. Traditional thinking pits work and the rest of our lives against each other. But taking smart steps to integrate work, home, community, and self will make you a more productive leader and a more fulfilled person.