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How to Win Loyalty From Other People

by Deepak Chopra

If you aspire to be successful as an entrepreneur, manager, business owner, or any kind of leader, others must feel loyal to you. Although money is often seen as a prime motivator, ultimately the bonds that hold an enterprise together are psychological. Important data gathered by the indicate that loyalty is one of the top three things that make workers feel satisfied.

Loyalty balances self-interest. It is the willingness to look out for “us” and not just “me.” It’s no secret that the bond of loyalty has frayed at a time of layoffs and the loss of pensions and benefits in the economy. A public image has been built of opposition between management and labor – there is nothing new here – where the advantage has shifted overwhelmingly to management. As long as profits continue to roll in, loyalty is ignored. The assumption is that workers are too desperate for a job to complain or protest.

You have a choice to make in the face of this sad situation. Are you going to join the trend and forget loyalty or are you going to try and rebuild it? The question doesn’t apply simply to managers. Companies develop an atmosphere and a culture. No one works in a vacuum, and your attitude affects the environment you work in, no matter where you fit into the overall scheme.

If you choose to help rebuild loyalty, here are some suggestions:

1. Abstain from disloyalty, which shows up in small but telling ways. Office gossip, back-biting, and spreading rumors show disloyalty, because they degrade the sense of bonding and cooperation.

2. Work on bonding and cooperation. Be sympathetic and open to the people you work with. Support projects that are good for everyone, even if you don’t gain immediate material rewards.

3. Honor the difference between rivals and competitors. The fact that you are competing against others at work doesn’t make them your rivals. Rivalry is hostile; it implies that only one person can win. Competition raises the bar for everyone, so that the whole team can win.

4. Pay attention to personal details. Loyalty runs deep when a person feels cared for and understood. Be alert to these needs. Make an effort to include everyone. When ideas and suggestions are being discussed, make it clear that every suggestion is welcome. If someone’s pet idea is rejected, take time to go to them afterwards and listen respectfully to what lies behind the idea.

5. Share your success. Include your team in the praise and appreciation that comes your way. If possible, make a tangible gesture, as appropriate – throw a party, or other form of celebration, offer bonuses, present a gift as a token of recognition.

6. Don’t keep secrets. As much as possible, make the decision-making process transparent. Open up financial details. In the economic downturn of 2008, some small businesses shared their finances with their workers and thereby won real loyalty. Seeing that the company was strapped, the workers felt an incentive to be part of the solution. This is just one way to close the gap that makes management and workers adversaries, a stance that severely erodes loyalty.

7. Remind yourself every day that there is no “I” without “we.” This allows you to be humble in your successes and provides a community to get through crises.

 

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Five Tips To Overcome Top Executive Burnouts

Even though people use stress and burnout as synonyms, these words refer to different aspects: stress implies a physical state where your body is overly taxed, whereas a burnout defines a state of depression that is mostly caused by an overwhelming feeling of powerlessness. Nonetheless, stress is known to be one of the leading causes of several conditions, including work burnout. Given the current frantic economic fluctuations and intense competition, it is safe to assume that almost all managers are under a lot of stress and therefore more likely to experience burnout. Because both will affect an executive manager’s capacity to run an organization effectively, it is important to take action immediately; following is a list of 5 tips on how to deal with work-related burnouts.

Work Life Balance Graphic1. Make realistic to-do lists
As the CEO, it’s very likely that you have an interminable to-do list that gets bigger and bigger each day. Without denying that those tasks have to get done, they don’t have to be done all at once, but rather gradually, particularly if you don’t have the physical time to finish them all. Since the mere sight of an endless list could add to the stress load, it is recommended to start making smaller and more manageable lists.

2. Take some time for yourself
If you are unable to remember the last time you took your family out to dinner or the last time you spent some quality time with your spouse, then you are experiencing burnout. While you are an indispensable man for your company, don’t forget that those countless sleepless nights and stress could have already taken their toll on the other important aspects of your life. The solution is to take some time off and meet with the people you love on a regular basis. However, make sure you are truly “away” from work by leaving your laptop and phone at the office.

3. Reevaluate the deadlines
Although you are under a lot of pressure to reach deadlines, it is never a good idea to overpromise on the delivery date. Not only will you and your team be under a lot of stress, but the final product could also be subpar to the company’s standards. An effective approach in this case is to allow for some leeway time, so the consequences are not so tragic if you don’t meet deadlines.

4. Make sure you have sufficient resources to get the job done
Closely related to successfully meeting deadlines, incorrectly estimating the resources you need to get the project done constitutes another source of burnout. Despite the fact that some projects are urgent, dedicate some time to evaluate exactly what you need and even get additional resources before you get started. On a side note, it’s a good idea to consult with your staff when establishing the required resources for a project.

5. Understand that sometimes you need to say “no”
While most managers can’t even imagine turning down a project, it is important to note that if you don’t have the time and resources for it then it is OK to refuse that task. In addition, you can also decline going to meetings that don’t really concern you or say “no” to your boss or colleague if they come in unannounced and interrupt you constantly when you are busy. As an executive, CEO or other professional remember you’re the boss!

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Lucy Smith is currently learning to manage stress in the workplace. She chooses running to help manage her stress and improve her health and wellbeing. Lucy can’t wait to run her 8th marathon this year!

 

 

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Working With The Competition: How Staying Friendly Makes Business Sense For Struggling Creative Freelancers

IMG_2699Whatever your story, whatever your industry, little businesses in a post-recession economy are often advised to be apocalyptically ruthless. It may work for some, but what if we all took a different approach to try and dig ourselves out of the financial hole we’re stuck in? This alternative philosophy has been successfully practised by Tenessee-based burger brand Pal’s Sudden Service since 2000, when a Business Institute was launched to provide practical advice and workshops to promote their company amongst competitors, and it has made waves in the restaurant industry, with others following suit. As the Institute’s President, David J, McClasky states, welcoming your competitors with open arms can be more than just a philanthropic gesture: “No matter where a customer goes, if they have a good experience eating out, then they eat out more often,” he says. “We figure everybody wins when businesses are run at excellent levels.”

This mantra can be especially important in creative industries and an artistic approach to the 21st century’s financial challenges could be your most unexpected source of inspiration. If you have spent time previously studying the arts, you’ll understand the importance of co-operation, critique and collaboration, so just how should that be different once you have left education?

Collaboration in Practice: The Freelance Photographer

Take freelance photography as a strong example. It’s a demanding field which requires extensive technical knowledge and relentless passion from the individual, plus an unwavering desire to achieve outstanding results for each and every client. Working alone or perhaps with a micro-team around them, a freelance photographer will be responsible for all areas of his or her business, from booking shoots and meeting clients to more mundane tasks like banking and bookkeeping. Everyone has their own strengths and being required to fill such a variety of roles can take its toll, so it’s no wonder that many photographers in this position often feel overwhelmed. If this scenario sounds familiar, discussing your business with others can help you assess your approach to your work, enable you to get to know cameras and setups for use in your own projects, tackle common working issues, or even just help you offload the general stresses and strains of working on a freelance basis. You’ll be putting your work into perspective and developing valuable bonds with others around you.

Learning To Give and Take as a Business

So why should you take the time to forge reciprocal relationships with those who would traditionally pose a threat to your business? Well, being generous enough to share knowledge, experience and, crucially, contacts may equate to naivety and foolishness in some people’s minds, but consider your own personal benefit. Networking is paramount to establishing oneself as a professional company or brand, and open, assured lines of communication inspire confidence, helping boost your income and get clients. If old friends suddenly become your competition, shunning them can be counterproductive.

Furthermore if there is an ambitious job you don’t quite feel ready for, recommending a rival photographer rather than putting your own reputation into jeopardy is just common sense. As an artist may collaborate with somebody working in another medium to execute the best piece of work, this could be applied to business. Working together on a project with a competitor will allow you to combine your specialist skills to make for a more rounded enterprise, even if it is only temporary.

On a broader scale, however, a healthy business climate needs to be at the forefront of industry for a more stable future. Shying away from banker-esque cut-throat gluttony could be the first (deceptively simple) step in achieving great opportunities for every small business.

Where would we all be without a little help from our ‘friends’? Anna Layne knows first-hand the tribulations facing small businesses and how important it is to glean as much help and information from her competitors. She currently works on behalf of Trinity Photography, a Glasgow-based wedding photography firm that’s risen from small foundations to achieve a great reputation in the local area.

 

 

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How To Make Sure Your Staff Are In It For The Long Haul

tug-of-warThe best businesses have loyal staff that have been there since day one. They know the company like the backs of their hands and no situation or problem is unfamiliar to them. The longer you have worked somewhere the better you know the role and the company and there for the better you do your job. Every employer would love to have staff stick around for years to come but people often become bored and move on. So how can you ensure your staff stick with you through thick and thin?

Set Out  A Clear Career Path

Many companies loose staff because of the lack of progression they offer.  People do become tired of doing the same thing over and over and if there is no opportunity to move forward they will seek opportunity elsewhere. As a business owner you should encourage your staff to apply for promotions and work their way up in the company. In order to keep staff happy and motivated you should set out a clear structure when it comes to moving up the ranks.

Offer Rewards

It can become very tiresome for staff if they work hard and that hard work constantly goes unrecognised. A simple thank you or well done is a good start and goes a long way, but a great way to really keep staff happy and motivated is to offer small rewards for good work.

Consider monthly awards in the form of a title and a small gesture such as a bottle of wine or vouchers, for example ‘employee of the month’. This means your staff will get the recognition they deserve and is an excuse for a fun monthly get together.

Consider Staff Quarterlies

A great way to say thanks is to host an evening of fun once every three months. It is something for staff to really look forward to and is a great way to encourage staff bonding. You don’t have to do anything huge, maybe just put some money behind a bar or book a meal. Tell everyone the date and time and see your staff let their hair down for a night of fun.

Offer Bonuses

At the end of the day your staff are there to earn money, and money does make people happy. A great way to encourage staff to go above and beyond at work is to offer bonuses measured by how well they are doing.

Staff really appreciate being paid on time and the right amount. Mistakes do happen but that can cause great problems when people are expecting money. Ensure these mistakes don’t occur by making use of payroll services to keep staff happy.

Eilidh MacRae works for Trace Payroll who offer payroll services.

 

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Getting Respect Working From Home

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How often have you been working at your home office, when your brother calls you wanting to chat, or a friendly neighbour comes over to ask you for some help? You’re working at home, but everyone seems to think that your work involves sitting around the home doing nothing all day but answer some emails or occasionally talking on the phone.

What can you do to stop these distractions so you can work, and even get some respect for your home business?

Set a Schedule at Home

If you have regular working hours, you can post them on your office door, inform your family and friends, and if anyone comes over to chat during your scheduled work time, you can politely ask them to leave. This schedule will help people realize you are working, and make your business look more professional.

Even better having these regular working hours will help you be more productive if used properly. By focusing on your work at a regular time everyday, you train your mind and body to go into working mode. If you you plan your work hours when you have the most energy, it’s even better.

Remember that this doesn’t have to be a 9-5 work schedule, play around with it at first to find out what hours are best for you, and then stick to it.

Dress for Success

Since the inevitable stereotype of working from home is a person working in his or her pyjamas, try to break the image by wearing comfortable business casual clothes.

You want to be comfortable while you work, but wearing clothes that are too casual, will make you appear less serious, and can make you feel a bit too relaxed to work at your peak efficiency. By wearing business casual, you keep the comfort, but if a neighbour, client, or family member drops by they’ll see that you are treating your work professionally and it gives you an advantage. If they see you wearing old jeans and a sweatshirt or worse actual pyjamas, it will be very hard to convince them that you are working.

Learn to Say No

Sometimes people don’t take a hint, you can tell them that you’re working, print up a super-sized schedule for your door, explain that you’re about to talk to an important client, but they still want to talk.
In this case, you have to firmly tell them that you do not have time to talk, go out for coffee or even let them in your front door. Try to be polite but firm when you do so, don’t tell them you don’t want to talk, simply say you are working but can talk to them when you are done. Give them your schedule and explain that between certain hours you are unavailable, but you’d be happy to talk after work.

Your at home business is important, and people need to realize that working from home actually involves working. So treat your job like a regular job and insist others follow suit, even if they disagree with you.

Dan Clarke is a business coach, specializing in helping people who work at home expand their business, solve problems and find a great work/life balance. Find out more about him at his website, Be Happy Working at Home.

 

 

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Dealing With Changes In Companies: What’s The Best Solution?

Business NetworkingIn both our professional and personal lives, a certain amount of change is inevitable. These can range from the minor, such as a favorite television show recasting one of the characters, to the major, such as an undesired change in your relationship status. One of the key areas of change that can impact heavily on an individual’s life is the concept of change in the workplace, whether it’s from a corporate takeover or a seemingly straightforward rebranding. Let’s explore some of the key methods that will assist with dealing with change in the workplace.

How Severe Is The Change?

Change in the workplace leads to a sense of uncertainty. This sense of uncertainty can often be overcome in a fairly organic way; if the change is merely a modification to a business process, or perhaps a new software system, then the new system or method quickly becomes normality. It’s hardly something that will cause undue stress, although management should certainly take steps to ensure that all employees are familiar with what is expected of them in relation to the new processes.

Employees Will Feel The Fear

In some instances, the sense of uncertainty can become overwhelming and can impede a corporation’s operational capability when it’s a large-scale merger or takeover. There will undoubtedly be changes at all levels of operations, and this can lead employees to question the safety of their own employment. It’s important for management to handle the situation with as much transparency as is possible in a scenario such as this one. If there is to be restructuring that will lead to layoffs, then this decision needs to be made and executed as soon as possible. Resolve the matter in as straightforward a manner as is appropriate, and then a new normality will rise from the ashes, leading to employee peace of mind.

Negative Ways of Coping With Change

Management should be a little sceptical of employees who seem to warmly (and indeed, blindly) embrace large changes in a company. It’s perhaps possible that these employees are being enthusiastic about a change in policy, operations or ownership, simply because they believe it’s what their supervisors want to hear. This is unhelpful to the overall aims of any corporate change, and is on a par with avoidance coping, where an employee essentially tries to ignore the change and undertake their employment in the way they always have, which is often inappropriate.

Positive Ways of Coping With Change

Ideally, management will gently ease employees into any kind of change in the workplace, utilizing change management training that will allow employees to feel in control during the process of change. It goes without saying that it’s beneficial for management that their employees make a smooth transition during whatever change the company is going through. Management cannot dictate how an individual should feel in response to a change, but they can set the tone about what’s appropriate, essentially by being available to answer all enquiries, and to clearly outline what’s expected of employees. Unsurprisingly, any kind of change in a company generates a huge amount of paperwork when new guides and manuals are published.

Change can be a huge problem for many employees, and it’s hardly a stress free time for management either. But management needs to ensure that their employees feel like they’re part of the solution.

Kate Simmons is a business developer, management coach and freelance writer. She is mostly interested in topics related to leadership, management and business structures.

 

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