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It feels good to win an argument. But in every fight there’s a loser too, and your counterpart may leave the discussion feeling discouraged and disengaged. Instead of combating, try connecting:
- Set rules of engagement. If you’re heading into a meeting that could get testy, outline rules to make it a productive, inclusive conversation. For example, make sure everyone has enough time to explain ideas without being interrupted.
- Listen with empathy. Make a conscious effort to speak less and listen more. The more you learn about other peoples’ perspectives, the more empathy you’ll feel.
- Plan who speaks. In situations when you know one person is likely to dominate (that may be you!), make sure everyone is able to speak. Identify who in the room has important information or perspectives to share. List them on a flip chart and use that as your agenda.
Today’s Management Tip was adapted from “Your Brain Is Hooked on Being Right” by Judith E. Glaser.
There are serious personal benefits of taking time away from the constant hum of technology. So why wait for your next vacation? Take a device hiatus every week. On Friday night, turn off everything with a screen — your computer, tablet, and phone. Put them in a drawer to keep them out of sight. And don’t turn them on again until Saturday night. Knowing you won’t be able to connect for 24 hours can be unnerving, so prepare in advance. Print out your schedule, along with any maps or phone numbers you need. Let people know that they won’t be able to text, tweet, email, use Facebook, or web chat during that time. Then enjoy — be present and focused on whatever you do — spend time with your kids, go for a hike, read a book. You’ll likely find the day is longer and when you power back on, you’ll feel recharged.
Today’s Management Tip was adapted from “Tech’s Best Feature: The Off Switch” by Tiffany Shlain.
An uncompromising focus on growth can take companies in the wrong direction. Take Groupon. Once lauded as the “fastest-growing company ever,” its stock price has fallen about 80% since the company went public in 2011. The key is to find quality, sustainable revenue.
Here’s what that looks like:
• It’s predictable. It’s always easier to forecast if you can be confident that 90% of last year’s customers and dollars will be back this year. The money should come from returning clients willing to spend the same amount.
• It’s profitable. A benchmark for a good margin varies by sectors, but quality revenue tends to be higher-margin. Aim for gross margins of at least 70%.
• It’s diverse. While early-stage companies may often have a couple of customers that make up a large portion of revenue, over time you want to build a diverse base. None of your top five clients should make up more than 15% of revenue.
Today’s Management Tip was adapted from “What High-Quality Revenue Looks Like” by Anthony K. Tjan.
The whole point of résumés and cover letters is to sell your skills. Rather than simply listing the responsibilities in the positions you’ve held (as many candidates do), call out specific ways you’ve made a difference in those roles. Suppose you’re in sales: Did you exceed your annual targets? By what percentage? Or, if you’re a customer service manager, did you reduce the number of complaint calls? How did you do it — and by how much? Quantify whatever achievements you can, and include promotions and other acknowledgments of your success. For example, you may have started as a production manager and then, after six months, taken on full control of the firm’s quality assurance program. Mention accomplishments like that — they reflect the trust you earned and your level of competence.
Today’s Management Tip was adapted from the HBR Guide to Getting the Right Job.
A good network is important when searching for a job. But if you don’t already know the right people, you need to expand your reach. People you don’t know yet can be just as helpful as those you do. Here’s how:
Define your professional goals. Write down your objectives and make sure you can tell a cohesive story about yourself and where you’re headed.
Cast a wide but focused net. Scour LinkedIn, company websites, and Twitter to identify people who may be able to offer you a job in your chosen field, or advice on how to get one. With this cold call approach, you’re not likely to get a high response rate so don’t be afraid to compile a long list.
Tell a personal story. Write an email to each person making it clear who you are, what you’re interested in, and why he or she should respond and help you.
Adapted from “Make a Stranger Believe in You” by Anne Kreamer.