EnMast http://www.enmast.com Small Business Community | Small Business Tools, Templates, Help and Resources. Wed, 23 Apr 2014 19:44:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.3 5 things your small business can’t survive without http://www.enmast.com/2014/04/5-small-business-cannot-survive-without/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=5-small-business-cannot-survive-without http://www.enmast.com/2014/04/5-small-business-cannot-survive-without/#respond Wed, 23 Apr 2014 15:38:19 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=16656 Food, water, shelter–we can all agree– are some of the things we can’t live without. If you have a car in the city, you might add gas to that list. Then there are some other things that we can live without and can’t really afford, but we buy them anyways. On the flip side, there

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business can't run without

Food, water, shelter–we can all agree– are some of the things we can’t live without. If you have a car in the city, you might add gas to that list. Then there are some other things that we can live without and can’t really afford, but we buy them anyways. On the flip side, there are things in our business that we think we might be able to live without, but in actuality, our business cannot survive without them.

This confusion can be deadly to our business. We allocate precious resources to pursuits that seem important, but not crucial. And we can ignore or minimize other areas of our business; letting ourselves and our business run dangerously low on resources that our business cannot survive without.

If I were to ask you to think of some things your business cannot do without, most of you would respond with “money.” Cash is king, right? Not always.

In this month’s featured article over at our parent site, Anchor Advisors, Brad talks about 5 other essentials, besides money, that are key to the survival and success of your business. (And they’re not what you’d expect.)

READ IT HERE: 5 things your small business can’t survive without »

Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn

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How to turn leads into paying clients http://www.enmast.com/2014/04/turn-leads-paying-clients/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=turn-leads-paying-clients http://www.enmast.com/2014/04/turn-leads-paying-clients/#respond Tue, 22 Apr 2014 14:00:38 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=16587 Looking for some proven ways to help you turn that leads list into paying clients? Jill and Brad talk about the most effective ways they’ve found to get leads and prospects on their client list. They also talk about how to handle the pile of business cards you get from networking events and meetings and

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Looking for some proven ways to help you turn that leads list into paying clients? Jill and Brad talk about the most effective ways they’ve found to get leads and prospects on their client list.

They also talk about how to handle the pile of business cards you get from networking events and meetings and put it to good use. Plus they bring on business owners — Zack Price over at Blog Into Book, and Denna Szwajkowski of Milk Bottles – to break down their business.

And if you haven’t gotten their free ebook yet, Productivity: How To Take Over The World Without Losing Your Mind! — GET IT HERE!

turn leads into clientsPodcast play button(Opens up podcast player on Breaking Down Your Business)

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9 must-have team communication tools for your small business http://www.enmast.com/2014/04/team-communication-tools/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=team-communication-tools http://www.enmast.com/2014/04/team-communication-tools/#respond Mon, 21 Apr 2014 13:00:04 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=16572 If you care about how your company communicates, you’re probably in constant search for the perfect app for your team. There are lots of good apps out there, and each of them has its benefits and drawbacks. Chances are your team needs a combination of tools, depending on the communication problem you’re trying to solve. So how do you

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team communication tools

If you care about how your company communicates, you’re probably in constant search for the perfect app for your team. There are lots of good apps out there, and each of them has its benefits and drawbacks. Chances are your team needs a combination of tools, depending on the communication problem you’re trying to solve. So how do you decide which apps will help your team communicate easier, rather than burden their workflow?

That’s where this list of tools comes in handy! These are some of the most innovative team communication tools out there, with a great potential to improve your team’s trusted communication system. So here we go:

1. Kato

KATOWhen it comes to instant messaging for the office, Kato definitely is one of the best apps out there. Kato allows you to unify your conversations in one window, allowing team members to communicate freely without sacrificing screen real estate. You can share and see media and files right within the context of your conversations, and Kato also integrates with a number of third party CRM and support apps that keep your team members connected to your customers.

This app will definitely help to reduce email overload in your company. And for remote teams, you can enable Kato Roll to take a snapshot of each team member every 60 seconds so you can see if they’re there or not.

Web app, iOS app; free for teams under 10 and non-profits; $5/month per user.

 

2. Sqwiggle

sqwiggle

If your team spends a significant amount of time working remotely, you might want to check out Sqwiggle. As one Sqwiggle user put it, it’s the virtual equivalent of popping your head into the cubicle next to you to ask a quick question. Sqwiggle keeps your team passively connected to each other throughout the day, making remote work feel as if you were in the same room.

It accesses the computer’s webcam and updates a still image of each team member a few times per minute. And with just a click, you can ‘pop your head’ into any team member’s ‘cubicle’, skipping the calling and accepting. Because team members are constantly connected, it really helps build a culture for your remote team.

Web, Mac; free for teams of 3 or less; 14 day free trial; $9/month per user.

 

3. Airmail

airmailLet’s face it: as much as we try to reduce email usage, email is here to stay. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – email is a great business tool for you and your team. If you or your team members have more than one email account (and who doesn’t?!), then Airmail will definitely help you stay on top of your inbox. It allows you to see your emails from several accounts in one single inbox. Who knows, maybe you’ll even achieve the Holy Grail of inbox zero!

Mac, $1.99 one time payment

 

4. Silent Circle

silent circleIf you take your business’ privacy seriously, you should check out Silent Circle. It encrypts phone calls and texts so that not even the NSA can snoop in on you. Silent Circle supports encrypted texts, phone calls, video calls and even file transfers from your mobile device.

iOS and Android; $139.95/year for Silent Circle Enterprise

 

5. LogMeIn Pro

log me in logoLogMeIn Pro allows you to connect remotely to your computer while you’re away, even from your mobile devices. This app can definitely help you and your team collaborate on the go. You can also share files to team members by sending them an auto-generated link that allows them to download the file from your computer.

Web, Desktop, iOS and Android; starting at $99/year for 2 team members

 

6. TribeHR

tribe hrEverybody knows that a small business owner is usually also the company’s HR department. TribeHR is an HR information management system that totally simplifies HR for you. With a company directory, staff social profiles and employee self service, this app is packed with features that make maintaining the accuracy of basic personal information a breeze. You can also integrate a corporate calendar that keeps track of time off requests, company milestones, employee anniversaries and more.

To top it all off, TribeHR helps your team members to expand their potential by setting and tracking personal, career and skills-development goals within their personal dashboard.

Web, iOS; starting at $5/team member per month

 

7. Good Notes/Lecture Notes

goodnotes appHave you ever been in a meeting, took notes on a piece of paper, only to be left scrambling for that piece of paper later in the day? Well, if you’re a fan of taking notes by handwriting, these note taking apps might save you the embarrassment of having to borrow notes. You can also import existing PDF files and scribble on them, or export your notes to PDF files for convenient sharing.

Good Notes: iOS; $5.99 one time payment; Lecture Notes: Android; 4.99 one time payment.

 

8. GoToMeeting

go to meeting logoGoToMeeting seems to be a favourite web conferencing software for many small business owners, so it’s definitely worth a mention. One of its strong points is the one-click screen share, as well as the ability to record meeting sessions. The GoToMeeting team also makes GoToWebinar (for company events/marketing presentations) and GoToTraining (for training and employee education).

Mac, Windows, iOS and Android; starting at $49/month.

 

9. iDoneThis

idonethisiDoneThis allows your team members to always stay connected to each other’s progress. Every team member receives an email at the end of their day asking them what their accomplishments are. They reply to the email, and the next day everyone gets a digest with what each team member has accomplished.

It’s really awesome to share both your professional and personal wins with the team. It fosters a culture of gratitude and brings your team members together. It also allows you to track your team’s performance and evaluate team productivity.

Web; $5/month per user.

Although all of these team communication tools have the potential to benefit how your team communicates, remember that tools are just tools. If there are already communication breakdowns in your team, even the best tool will simply be a band-aid solution to the problem. Begin by addressing your team’s underlying problems, if any, before introducing new apps. After all, you want to lighten the workflow, not burden and frustrate your team members.








Photo Credit:  Josep Ma. Rosell

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Meet an EnMast Member: Candace Chira of The VA Bug http://www.enmast.com/2014/04/meet-enmast-member-candace-chira-va-bug/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=meet-enmast-member-candace-chira-va-bug http://www.enmast.com/2014/04/meet-enmast-member-candace-chira-va-bug/#respond Fri, 18 Apr 2014 13:48:15 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=16595 This month the spotlight is on Candace A. Chira, Owner of The VA Bug, a full-service virtual assistant firm specializing in marketing and social media. She’s a TON of fun to talk to and incredible sweet! And if you’re looking for a VA, she’s your gal! We were glad for the chance to talk with

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Member Spotlight Candace ChiraThis month the spotlight is on Candace A. Chira, Owner of The VA Bug, a full-service virtual assistant firm specializing in marketing and social media. She’s a TON of fun to talk to and incredible sweet! And if you’re looking for a VA, she’s your gal! We were glad for the chance to talk with Candace about some of the challenges and perks of being a small business owner.

Tell us about why you started your business.

After years of experience as an administrative assistant, I stepped away from the work place when I had my children. When they got older and I was ready to re-enter the workforce, people couldn’t get over the “gap” in my resume. I was surprised at how challenging it was to pursue opportunities, despite the fact that I had a strong skillset.

Once I discovered all of the possibilities that came with the advent of social media and internet marketing, I knew that I could make a valuable contribution to the online entrepreneurs I was meeting.

And, to be perfectly honest, at that point I also knew that I really didn’t care for the idea of being stuck in an office all day long, putting up with a long commute, and having to deal with a boss looking over my shoulder. Thinking about all of that, it was a no brainer: deciding to start a business as a virtual assistant was a great fit for me. Not only do I love the work that I do, but I’ve been able to start earning money right away and I didn’t have to make a big investment to get my business off the ground. And I had the skills already, so there wasn’t a big learning curve at all.

What has been the most challenging part of being a business owner?

Without a doubt I’d say the rates that people are willing to pay. There are a lot of virtual assistants that are based overseas that are willing to work for very low rates. For that reason many people that are looking for a virtual assistant, at least initially, don’t want to pay very much. They think they can get away with what a virtual assistant in a foreign country would charge.

What about the biggest mistake you’ve made?

Starting off, I had a tendency to accept any project that came my way, even if the client wasn’t willing to pay what the job was worth.

I remember I took on a project that required a considerable time investment, but the pay was absolutely minimal. Looking back, I don’t know why I even agreed to do the work, but I did. I ended up spending hours and hours completing the work. That was one job that I was delighted to finish, and one mistake I can’t see myself making again. I learned the hard way.

What is the best part of being a business owner?

There’s more than one thing I like. I love the fact that, as a virtual assistant, I can work from pretty much anywhere. If I want to spend a few days with my mother or sister, I can do that and still get my work done. There’s no punching a clock or having to be in the office everyday at a set time.

The second thing I love is the creative freedom. When I get an idea that I want to test out, there’s no one telling me that I can’t do it. For example, I’m putting together a series of business workshops at my local library and through Google Hangouts. I never would have thought of doing that if I was still working in corporate America. And, in the area of the city I live in, there’s no one offering what I am offering. The competition is ZILCH. But business owners in my neighborhood will get tremendous value from my services.

To sweeten the deal even more – I can find most of my clients or prospects within a 5 to 10 minute walk from my house! Having them so close by makes it a lot easier to build the trust that is vital to establishing strong business relationships.

Tell us one thing you wish someone had told you before you started your business.

I can be a bit of a perfectionist. For a long time, when I started this business, I was terrified. What if someone asked me to do something that I didn’t know how to do? I thought if I ever told a client “I don’t know” that my reputation would be tarnished for life. Now I know that’s just silly. If I had a great handyman who didn’t know how to install an outlet, I wouldn’t think – “OMG, he’s awful! I’ll never use him again!” I’d just call in an electrician for that particular job. The same goes with my business.

What’s your favorite tool on EnMast?

Without a doubt it would be the Project Costing Tool. I’m not crazy about entering formulas and whatnot. This tool has all of that created for me already. All I have to do is plug in the numbers and, voila! I have the cost data that I need.

What’s your favorite thing about EnMast?

If there’s one thing people will say about me, it’s that I’m very real, and down to earth. I couldn’t be stuffy or “fake” if my life depended on it. And I’m very naturally drawn to others that also have those qualities. What I like most about EnMast is exactly that – the people behind it. They are real; there’s no pretense. Having a bad month in your business? They get it. Screwed up on a sales call? They get it.

I know this because it’s all there. Read the blog posts, look around the web site, listen to Brad’s podcast. It’s all no nonsense, and based on real, true to life business experiences. That’s what people need; and it’s what I love about EnMast.

We’d like to thank Candace so much for taking time to share her story with us. You can check out Candace’s business at The VA Bug, or read her blog here. Find her on TwitterFacebook, Google+ and YouTube.

We know everyone in our EnMast Community has a story to share, and we’d love to hear yours! Email Devan







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If you’re a business owner, you work for a crazy person http://www.enmast.com/2014/04/business-owners-work-for-a-crazy-person/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=business-owners-work-for-a-crazy-person http://www.enmast.com/2014/04/business-owners-work-for-a-crazy-person/#respond Thu, 17 Apr 2014 13:19:01 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=16549 I’ve often said that when you work for yourself you have a crazy person for a boss. But I’ve come to realize that I’ve actually got several bosses, and they’re all, to some extent, crazy. Let me introduce you my office full of nut job bosses. Each and every one of them lives in my

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crazy business owner

I’ve often said that when you work for yourself you have a crazy person for a boss. But I’ve come to realize that I’ve actually got several bosses, and they’re all, to some extent, crazy. Let me introduce you my office full of nut job bosses. Each and every one of them lives in my head; and at any given moment, they are all talking.

Here are the 4 main bosses in my head:

Miranda Priestly

devil wears prada

Source: Crushable

My main boss makes me think of Miranda Priestly in Devil Wears Prada. On the outside she seems pretty rational, calm, and well put together. The vision of efficiency, experience, and authority. Until I make a mistake. Like Miranda Priestly, she comes down hard. By the time she’s done with her tongue lashing she’s reduced me to a quivering pile of nothing. But she doesn’t stop there — the next time I go to start a project, she reminds me of every mistake I’ve ever made on a similar project. She’s loads of fun.

Jack Sparrow

jack sparrow

Source: Fanpop

My next boss is a little different. He reminds me of Captain Jack Sparrow. He is wildly over-confident in the direst of circumstances. He responds to stress with magical thinking. He’s sure that I can whip that proposal out in 15 minutes and have plenty of time to prepare the presentation for the seminar I’m giving AND return 7 phone calls before lunch. He’s routinely committing me to client deliverables with barely a look at my to-do list or my calendar. Who needs sleep, or weekends? Not this boss!

Woody Allen

I also have a Woody Allen boss. Woody is, as you might expect, neurotic; he’s convinced we’ll never get another client again — ever. Part of him wants me to spend every waking moment on business development — hoping for just one more client. But another part of him is deathly afraid of that moment when a prospect proves him right by turning us down. So while he’s maniacal about driving the new business activity, he’s terrible at closing.

Spongebob Squarepants

spongebob

Source:Wikia

Sometimes my boss appears to be more like Spongebob Squarepants. A little daft, but ultimately a lot of fun. This boss wants to take off to the ballpark on the first warm day of spring, and the first hot day of summer, and the last warm day of fall… You get the idea. He’s fun, doesn’t worry about tomorrow (or the other bosses) and he’s incredibly tempting.

There are others too; there’s the “save for a rainy day” boss, and the “you’ve got to spend money to make money” boss. There’s the boss who loves people, and loves building a team, and the other boss who wants to fire everyone and go back to a time when it was simple — just me, my “bosses” and the money we made.

It can get crowded inside my head with all these bosses and all these voices. Pretty soon they’re swirling around screaming at each other; I look at my to-do list and I don’t know where to start, or what to look at, and then pretty soon it’s 3PM and I haven’t gotten a thing done. That probably doesn’t happen to anyone else — but it happens to me.

I used to try to shout over them, but they just keep shouting. I’ve tried to ignore them, but they just keep shouting. Over time, I’ve learned to try to respect them, to let them talk. What’s the expression — hugging the cactus? The idea is that these voices are all a part of me. By letting them talk, and listening to what they say, I’m actually honoring and respecting that part of me. Now I let them talk it out. It’s better if I have someone else in the room when I do this — a real, live person.

When there’s someone else in the room “then my bosses” behave better. They seem a lot more rational, and that other, objective person can help me sort out which voices actually make sense, and which ones are just nuts. Once everyone has had their say, then I can start negotiating — Woody get’s Monday morning, Thursday morning, and 3 lunch hours per week. Miranda get’s 15 minutes every morning — that’s it. Spongebob get’s the first warm day of spring, the last warm day of fall… You get the idea.

Do you have any of these bosses in your head? Who else do you have? (I won’t judge, as long as you don’t judge me, that is)









Photo credit: The Next Web,  Evil Erin

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How to communicate with your boss (and get what you want) http://www.enmast.com/2014/04/how-to-communicate-with-your-boss/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=how-to-communicate-with-your-boss http://www.enmast.com/2014/04/how-to-communicate-with-your-boss/#respond Wed, 16 Apr 2014 13:15:37 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=16545 So, let’s say you’ve been working for a company for a while, and you really want to find a way to accomplish some new tasks or take on new roles with your position. You’re ambitious, hungry, and ready for a challenge. But that means figuring out how to convince your boss that A) You’re ready

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So, let’s say you’ve been working for a company for a while, and you really want to find a way to accomplish some new tasks or take on new roles with your position. You’re ambitious, hungry, and ready for a challenge. But that means figuring out how to convince your boss that A) You’re ready B) You’re capable and C) You’re serious. Or maybe you need to bring something important or a new idea to their attention and be taken seriously.

Our handy graph displays how much time you’ll probably spend getting ready to make that request. Don’t sweat it—worrying is normal. It helps you be prepared!

how to communicate with your boss

Pro tip: Before you make the request, know how to make the request. We’ve got some communication tactics that will help you to your boss and position yourself so when the time comes to make the ask, your boss doesn’t even hesitate to say yes. It’s all about listening, thinking from his or her perspective, and doing your homework

Here’s 5 ways on how to communicate with your boss effectively:

1. Listen to your boss.

Over the past year or so, you’ve been able to study the preferred communication style of your boss. Now that it’s time for you to communicate directly with your boss, it’s a good idea to mirror that style. Does your boss like details? Statistics? Short and sweet conversations? Figure out what works for your boss, and calculate your approach based on that. Also, keep in mind your boss’s generational communication.

2. Think about the big picture.

Your boss probably doesn’t have time for details. Plus, their job as a leader is to think at a high level and make decisions—not figure out the logistics of a smaller task. So your request needs to be tailored to the way the boss thinks—how is it beneficial not just for you, but for the company? Consider a perspective other than your own and put yourself in the boss’s shoes.

3. Anticipate questions.

Priority number one is to have a clear, concise request, but priority number two is to have your research ready to field any questions the boss may have. Think numbers, stats, goals—have some concrete evidence and planning to bring to the table. If you can field the five toughest questions your boss may ask, you’re golden!

4. Remove the emotion.

Get yourself in a good spot by avoiding interaction with your boss while you’re in a highly emotive state. By always removing emotion, you’ll eliminate the risk of saying something that might jeopardize your positioning. Take a breather before rushing angrily into their office, and save the tears for home. When it’s time to have the big conversation, try to relax and calm your nerves. Be poised, composed, and lucid and present your best side.

5. Watch the body language.

You may have the best verbal communication in the world, but if your body language sucks—it ruins everything. You want to communicate authority with your body language. Amy Cudy shares specifics on how use body language to get what you want, including things like posture and why you should take up as much space as you can. Be aware of your facial expression, any folded arms, or foot tapping that might be sending your boss mixed signals when the two of you communicate.

When the time is right to make the ask, these tactics should help you seal the deal. Your planning starts now, so get to work! And remember, your boss is human. If you’re sincere, prepared, and know how/what you want, why should they say no?

What tactics do you use to communicate to your boss?







Photo credit:

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Email sucks! 5 email alternatives you should check out http://www.enmast.com/2014/04/email-sucks-5-email-alternatives-check/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=email-sucks-5-email-alternatives-check http://www.enmast.com/2014/04/email-sucks-5-email-alternatives-check/#respond Tue, 15 Apr 2014 16:02:13 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=16577 We all have a love / hate relationship with email. For some of us, it’s more hate than love. Jill and Brad talk about different email alternatives that they’ve tried to help keep your inbox from being a daily overwhelming process with different tools, apps and processes. Take a listen to the latest podcast, and

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We all have a love / hate relationship with email. For some of us, it’s more hate than love. Jill and Brad talk about different email alternatives that they’ve tried to help keep your inbox from being a daily overwhelming process with different tools, apps and processes. Take a listen to the latest podcast, and maybe.. just maybe you might be able to accomplish INBOX ZERO.

They also bring on wonderful small business owners, Aksh Gupta of Occasion, and Gini Dietrich of Spin Sucks and Arment Dietrich to break down their business. You will love them!

email alternativesPodcast play button

(Opens up podcast player on Breaking Down Your Business)

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Cube vs. Corner: Is it appropriate to wear headphones at work? http://www.enmast.com/2014/04/cube-corner-wearing-headphones-at-work/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=cube-corner-wearing-headphones-at-work http://www.enmast.com/2014/04/cube-corner-wearing-headphones-at-work/#respond Mon, 14 Apr 2014 13:00:11 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=16537 Cube vs. Corner is the place were we tackle and issue from two sides: the boss’s perspective, and the employee’s perspective. This time we’re tackling wearing headphones at work. There’s been some controversy whether or not it’s appropriate to wear them in the office, major critics site that employees isolate themselves from company culture and miss

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employee employer relationshipCube vs. Corner is the place were we tackle and issue from two sides: the boss’s perspective, and the employee’s perspective. This time we’re tackling wearing headphones at work. There’s been some controversy whether or not it’s appropriate to wear them in the office, major critics site that employees isolate themselves from company culture and miss opportunities to collaborate and innovate with others. Brad and Devan talk about how wearing headphones at work has affected their office:

wear headphones in the office

Brad_smallBRAD

I know that a lot of your work requires big chunks of time when you can concentrate and “get into the flow”. I see you with your headphones on dialed in to what you are working on. I know that’s a productive place for you.

But there are also times when I need to talk with you to get a question answered, to get a status update, or to get your opinion on something. My schedule is pretty packed, so I can’t just wait until you finish a task and there’s a natural break.

How can I get the answers to my questions without interrupting your flow?

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Devan_smallDEVAN

First off, I didn’t know this bothered you! When I put both earbuds in, I try to get into “the zone” so I can crank out a bunch of stuff. Putting on some jams and blocking outside distractions helps me do that. (Other days I just want to go a little more solo and quiet and listen to music while working.)

I know this sounds super lame, but if you see me really tuned in, message me and say hey – you gotta sec? That gives me a moment to finish up something, take off my ear buds and then holler back at you.

In the future, I’ll try to give you the heads up if I’ve gotta block out an hour or two to get something done. I want to be respectful to you because I know you’re in and out of the office a lot, so I need to make sure I’m available to you when you need it.

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Brad_smallBRAD

Wow, that just was not the response I wanted! I find it incredibly weird to text someone — “got a sec?”. It feels like I’m interrupting you to say, “Can I interrupt you…”?

It is good to think of it in reverse though. I guess things that aren’t urgent are best in an email (maybe with a time we could talk so it doesn’t turn into 20 emails). Or, we could at least batch several issues together so interruptions are less frequent.

But when things are urgent, I’m OK with you sending a text or IM saying, “I need you for thus-and-so, when can you free up.” That seems better to me than “got a sec?”. It’s more specific (I know why you are asking) and the interruption is to see when is a good time to talk.

How does that sound?

===

Devan_smallDEVAN

Ha!  I guess what I mean by “got a sec?” is actually what you proposed. I figured you would send me a quick sentence — “hey I got a question about XYZ, can we chat?” But even if you said “got a min?” I’d know you needed to chat and I’ll close up what I’m doing to talk.

Regardless — just shoot me an IM/message so I’ll see it right away. Then you don’t have to holler at me from across the room. :-P Does that work for you? (or am I being selfish?)

======

Brad_smallBRAD

Not selfish — just protecting your productivity — and I’m fine with that. I like productivity! On the other hand, when I do need you now I can get you. Makes sense.








Photo Credit: ToNG!? (Flickr)

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How leaders have the power to make their team feel like heroes http://www.enmast.com/2014/04/praise-at-work-power-leaders-have-team-feel-heroes/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=praise-at-work-power-leaders-have-team-feel-heroes http://www.enmast.com/2014/04/praise-at-work-power-leaders-have-team-feel-heroes/#respond Fri, 11 Apr 2014 15:49:23 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=16526 Our manufacturing plant was putting a unit out the door every 6 seconds — and every one of them was defective. I was part of a design team that had updated the design of our product to comply with new Federal safety requirements, and while the product was perfectly safe, it just didn’t always work.

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Our manufacturing plant was putting a unit out the door every 6 seconds — and every one of them was defective. I was part of a design team that had updated the design of our product to comply with new Federal safety requirements, and while the product was perfectly safe, it just didn’t always work.

A few customers had sent back units that weren’t working right, but we couldn’t figure out why they were failing. The failure mode couldn’t be recreated in the lab, so we were totally in the dark! We couldn’t go back to the old design, it didn’t meet the safety requirements. So the factory was putting out products that usually worked fine, but sometimes would refuse to work at all!

praise at work

The pressure was mounting. We knew we were putting out a defective product and the “big bosses” wanted daily updates on our progress. I came in early one morning and sat down to test the circuit again, like I had been doing for weeks, but this time it failed! I reset the unit and went through the test and it failed again! This was a huge breakthrough. By re-creating the failure in the lab, we could now start isolating the problem and looking for a solution.

My boss brought me with him to the Daily Update that day. He let me explain what happened and what we were doing to solve the problem. We still didn’t have a fix, but everyone realized the magnitude of the breakthrough and the company President personally came over and thanked me for my work! I felt like a million bucks that day. I wasn’t just some engineer slaving away in the lab, I was a hero!

If you are a business owner, manager, or boss of any kind, you have that power. You can make people feel like heroes.

Our team members come to work for more than just a paycheck. They are also looking for the opportunity to demonstrate that their lives have meaning. As a part of that quest, they are looking to those around them to reflect back to them that they are effective; that what they are doing is actually making a difference. Any of us can look at a to-do list at the end of the day and (hopefully) see that a bunch of stuff has been crossed off; but just crossing things off of a list isn’t really very fulfilling. What matters much more is esteem, praise, thanks, and recognition from peers and, especially, from bosses.

praise at work

Teddy Roosevelt in the “Bully Pulpit” “I have no idea what the American people think. I only know what they should think.” Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-95886)

Teddy Roosevelt called it his “bully pulpit“. Bully had a different meaning in that era; it’s meaning was more like the way we use “awesome” today (think of the phrase “bully for you”). Teddy knew that if he looked interested in something, other people would be interested in that thing too. He could focus the attention of the government and perhaps even the country, just by focusing his attention on something — by allocating resources to it — by rewarding those who were working on it.

We live in a more complicated world than Teddy did, with many more distractions; but as owners, bosses, and managers, we still have that kind of power. When we pay attention to things (or people), or when we praise things (or people), other folks in our organization will follow. When we give praise at work, our words and our attention will be amplified by the whole organization.

So, when the bosses chose to have a daily meeting to review the status of our design problem, the urgency to find a fix increased. Low level engineers (like I was at that time) responded to that urgency by coming in early, testing and retesting, to find that fix.

Some leaders are really good at using this “bully pulpit” to influence their teams. When someone is making a good point, and the boss wants to emphasize it, he might ask that person to restate it, or he might ask some clarifying questions. The leader’s attention to that point is like underlining it for everyone else. I know another leader who writes hand-written thank you notes to her team. She sends the note to their home address so that they open the note in front of their family; then the whole family gets to share the appreciation she is sending. The whole family knows that the work of the team member is valued and making a difference.

Words aren’t the only way to communicate importance. What meetings do you choose to attend, and what meetings do you choose to skip? What emails do you respond to and which do you let go? These are all signals — that your team is watching — about what’s important to you.

How are you using your “bully pulpit”? What messages are you sending with your words, attention and time? How do you give praise at work?









Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Hi, my name is Brad, and I’m an interrupter. http://www.enmast.com/2014/04/interrupting-problem/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=interrupting-problem http://www.enmast.com/2014/04/interrupting-problem/#respond Thu, 10 Apr 2014 17:41:50 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=16518 Let’s pretend you and I were having a conversation. You had a point to make, I’m confident you did. But I couldn’t wait to hear it. I interrupted. I was feeling anxious I’d lose the thought in my head (and we know what’s in my head is worth hearing), and so instead of making time

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Let’s pretend you and I were having a conversation. You had a point to make, I’m confident you did. But I couldn’t wait to hear it. I interrupted. I was feeling anxious I’d lose the thought in my head (and we know what’s in my head is worth hearing), and so instead of making time for your thoughts you’d been considering and crafting through the whole conversation, I blurted out mine. And my thoughts were only half-formed, disorganized and, let’s face it, pretty unclear.

interrupting

When I interrupted, I basically told you your ideas don’t matter — that only the loudest, bossiest voice is the most important voice. Worse yet, my comments turned the conversation in a whole new direction and we never heard the idea you had. It was lost from the conversation — and now we’re missing it completely.

Do you know how I realized this? I was reflecting this week about how tired I am. There are times when I feel like the weight of the world is on my shoulders…and it’s heavy! I was wishing I didn’t have to carry the weight of the whole company, and about how I could get more ideas from around the table. How could I make my team more proactive, get them to take more ownership of the things that need to be done around here? Why is it always up to me? (Cue the violins, this is a sad story!)

But that’s when it hit me. What if my team was trying to help? What if they already have ownership and ideas, but I wasn’t waiting to hear them? Instead of letting them work their ideas out, I’m always jumping in with “the answer.” Once I had spoken, why would anyone else talk about it? I’m the boss, so if I say to do it, people just do it! Worse yet, if someone does dissent, I interrupt to tell them they are wrong.

For that, I’m truly sorry. That must feel terrible.

Reflecting on this, it made me think about folks who worked for us but eventually ended up leaving the company. Smart, talented people that I wanted to keep — why did they leave? Why didn’t they make a bigger impact while they were here? Was it because I interrupted them? Was it because I couldn’t wait and listen to their ideas?

My five year old has been repeating a rhyme he was taught in pre-school:

“Interrupting is very disrupting; don’t start squawking when someone else is talking.”

Maybe I should have that tattooed on my forehead. With the way I’ve been interrupting, it’s costing me a lot — a tattoo (and even the ensuing ridicule) would cost me way less than this terrible habit is.

Ok, maybe the tattoo is going too far. But how about this?

First, I’m going to apologize. I’m going into every meeting for the next week and let everyone know I am aware I have a terrible interrupting habit and I want to stop. Apologizing isn’t going to do much — they’re going to wait to see if my actions follow my words, but confession is good for the soul, so I’m going to do it.

Next, I’m going to practice writing down my own thoughts in my notes before I say them. If I have an idea, I’m not going to share it until it’s written down. That will do two things: First, I won’t have to worry about forgetting my idea, so I can really listen to the conversation without anxiety. Second, it will slow me down. If I have to write it down, I’ll make more room for others to talk. Lastly, I’ll get a chance to consider if it even needs to be said. While I’m listening to others, I can better weigh if my idea is even worth sharing.

Honestly, I’m afraid there’s going to be some awful silences. People are so used to me filling every silence with my thoughts! But I’m not going to do that. Instead, I’m going to work on just asking questions. When people take the risk and give their thoughts, I’m going to pause and ask, “Can you tell me more?” or “Could you tell me what lead up to that idea?” or even just “Go on…”

Once that person is finished, I could then ask, “What do other people think about this idea?” I’m also going to look for people who may not speak up often and specifically invite their contributions. In other words, I’m going to go from being a “problem solver” to being a facilitator. I’m not going to try to fix the issue, I’m going to try to get the best ideas out of my team.

I’m sure I’m not going to be very good at this right away — when I’m stressed or under time pressures it’s going to be particularly hard. But I don’t want to be that guy any more. I want to have dialogs and I’m willing to give up being the smartest guy in the room in order to have it.

How about you?








Photo credit: greg westfall.

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10 things holding you back from building a great team http://www.enmast.com/2014/04/10-holding-building-great-team/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=10-holding-building-great-team http://www.enmast.com/2014/04/10-holding-building-great-team/#respond Wed, 09 Apr 2014 15:54:00 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=16513 Every business owner dreams of having a team of dedicated, driven and super smart people working for them. Often, they think if they just hire the right people, it’ll happen. Sure, hiring good people has a bit to do with it, but without a leader cultivating the employees into a team that produces great work

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10 things holding you back from building a great team

Every business owner dreams of having a team of dedicated, driven and super smart people working for them. Often, they think if they just hire the right people, it’ll happen. Sure, hiring good people has a bit to do with it, but without a leader cultivating the employees into a team that produces great work and has a great time doing it, it won’t happen.

Great teams aren’t formed miraculously. In fact, it takes a lot of hard work to build a great team of people at your company. If you’re trying to work on building a solid team, it first starts with you. (Not them!) Brad shares 10 things that are holding you back from building a rockstar team over at our friends at Sandglaz. And you probably won’t like what you hear — but you need to hear it anyways!

READ: 10 things holding you back from building a great team »

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5 great ways to encourage your team http://www.enmast.com/2014/04/5-great-ways-encourage-your-team/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=5-great-ways-encourage-your-team http://www.enmast.com/2014/04/5-great-ways-encourage-your-team/#respond Tue, 08 Apr 2014 15:16:44 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=16507 If things are going a little rough in your business, it’s really important to keep moral up. Encouraging and motivating your team is especially important to keep productivity and energy levels up. Jill + Brad talk about the different ways they encourage and motivate their team when things are tough, or to bring in energy

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If things are going a little rough in your business, it’s really important to keep moral up. Encouraging and motivating your team is especially important to keep productivity and energy levels up.

Jill + Brad talk about the different ways they encourage and motivate their team when things are tough, or to bring in energy to meet a business goal in the latest episode of Breaking Down Your Business. They also bring on guests Deon Bradley of Bradley Coaching and Chase Reeves of IceToTheBrim.com and the Fizzle podcast.

5 great ways to encourage your team

Podcast play button(Opens up podcast player on Breaking Down Your Business)

 

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