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How Technology is Changing the Retail Customer Experience

 

How Technology is Changing the Retail Customer Experience

The customer experience provided by retailers has advanced considerably over the past few years. This article looks at the most popular trends and the newer, emerging technologies that are likely to gain traction in the near future.

We then look at four of the technologies customers have come to appreciate in their interactions with retail outlets followed by four ways retailers are using tech advancements to improve marketing and drive more conversions.

Popular and emerging retail technologies

One of the most profound changes to have hit the retail sector over the past five years is the rise of the mobile device. Customers are not only choosing to shop online via their smartphones and tablets, they are even walking into bricks and mortar stores, mobile in hand, and comparing local prices and inventory.

Chatbots are now a commonplace addition to many online retail stores although the customer experience they provide is variable. The better chatbots focus on resolving simple customer queries before quickly and seamlessly transferring customers with more challenging demands to a human operator.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is often discussed as a future topic but it is very much a feature of life (including retail) today. From Fitbits and Apple Watches to games consoles and smart TVs, consumers are able to search and pay for items using a wider variety of wearables and appliances than ever before.

Technologies that are still in their infancy (as far as retail is concerned) but are likely to emerge over the next few years include live-streaming video, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).


Four technologies customers appreciate (i.e. expect!)

Personalization

Customers are increasingly expecting a personalized experience when they arrive at any online retail store. For example, they like to see their front page adapt to show recommended items based on their previous purchases. Websites which ask questions about a person's preferences and style and then deliver suggestions are great because they help to streamline the shopping experience.

Customer-centric support

If a customer has a query, they don't expect to have to wait in a line and listen to cheesy music for twenty minutes. Instead, they increasingly demand multiple channels of communication from which they can choose (social media message, live chat, email, etc.).

This has led to the rise of unified communications technology where customer service agents command a wide array of tools to help them do their job.

History tracking

Related to the above, customers will get frustrated if they feel they have to explain the full history of their service request to every new agent they speak to. Ideally, they will want a solution to be found on their initial call but, if this is not possible, they at least expect retailers to utilize technology so the next person they speak to can pick up the conversation.

Privacy protection

Although customers appreciate when you give them amazing third-party tools to improve their customer experience, they assume you have sufficient security in place to protect their sensitive data. The new GDPR regulations have also added legal weight to customers' demands they can access and delete their data whenever they choose.

Four ways the retail industry is using technology to improve marketing and customer experience

Mobile first marketing

There are many ways retailers are rising to the challenge of appealing to mobile shoppers. These include:

• Redesigning their websites to look and function well on mobile devices
• Building proprietary apps
• Sending promotional codes via SMS text or messenger app
• Using geo-fencing to place ads on social media
• Optimizing their marketing to attract local traffic (using local SEO strategies based on geo-location technology)

Automated ordering

Some retailers are already benefiting from the exciting potential of IoT technology. The refrigerator that orders its own milk may be a cliché but there are already smart printers ordering their own ink supplies when depleted. The increase in sales and efficiency the IoT will bring could transform the retail industry.

Chatbots

The ability to save on resources while providing better customer support has led to many retailers placing chatbots as the first point of contact with the customer. As artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies become established, chatbots are likely to become more valuable, answering a wider range of customer queries and proactively marketing products and services.

UX design

Retailers are paying more attention (and spending more money) on user experience (UX) design when building new websites. They are understanding everything from the style of the typeface and position of buttons to the design of a shopping cart icon can influence customer experience.

As the retail landscape continues to change with the march of technology, the future is going to see even more exciting developments.

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MAKE ROOM FOR EXCEPTIONAL TALENT

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How to Make Room for Exceptional Talent Even When You're Not Looking

Recruitment is often seen as a task carried out when there are specific vacancies that need filling. However, this view can mean you lose out on exceptional talent. This post suggests some ways you can benefit from top candidates even when you have no vacancies.

Think of hiring as a process, not a series of events

If you only ever think about your recruitment process when you have vacancies to fill, you could be letting high-quality candidates slip through your fingers.

A smarter strategy is to expect exceptional talent to become available at any moment and to prepare your company to rapidly respond when they do make an appearance. There are a number of ways you could do this. The most basic action should be to add any promising candidates to your talent pipeline. If a truly talented candidate becomes available, you might want to consider creating a new role in your company so you can bring them on board as soon as possible.

The worst thing you can do is to remain blind to their presence and allow a competitor to snap up their services.

By treating recruitment as an ongoing process rather than a series of discrete events, you will always be prepared to receive high-quality talent.

Maintain a rich talent pipeline

A talent pipeline is designed to ensure you always have a ready supply of suitably qualified candidates you can approach should a vacancy arise.

Whether you manage your talent pipeline yourself or outsource this to a recruitment agency, your talent pipeline should always be kept up to date. When a high-quality candidate receives a new industry qualification or certification you should be made aware of the fact. You can then decide whether it's time to proactively reach out to them and make plans to bring them into your organization.

Your talent pipeline should also be tightly integrated with your overall business strategy. That way, you can start preparing to approach high caliber prospects for future roles that have yet to be created. By the time the vacancy is ready to be filled, you will already have 'warmed up' your most promising candidates.

Your talent pipeline should also be data-driven with metrics such as turnover rate per role and time to hire used to plan your recruitment strategy.

Stay aware of external events

If your company only ever reacts to internal data and its own business strategies, you might miss opportunities arising from the wider industry. For example, if a rival company downsizes or goes out of business, there is a high likelihood high caliber former employees will enter the marketplace.

This might not be 'convenient' in terms of the vacancies you currently have but by being adaptable and proactive you could position your business to take full advantage of this situation. For example, you could consider setting up an internship for young and talented people in a specific role. Even if you don't currently have any positions in that role, you will be building a strong talent pipeline that could serve you for many years to come. At the same time, you will be removing the opportunity for your rivals to benefit from the changes.
To take things a step further, consider writing up a contingency plan for potential future industry events so you are ready to hit the ground running.


Use social media to engage with talent communities

Social media provides a way to connect with both active and passive candidates but to truly benefit from this resource you need to look beyond the popular platforms (LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, etc.)

Is there a social media hub used specifically by exceptional talents in your industry? For example, the best developers are likely to be active on GitHub and Stack Overflow. Ensuring your business is represented on those platforms (in a genuine way, of course), will make it easier to approach potential recruits when vacancies arise.

In general, you should also make sure your social media activity reinforces the message you're always on the lookout for exceptional talent.

To summarize, by treating recruitment as an ongoing process, maintaining your talent pipeline, keeping an ear open for external events and diving deeper into social media, you will always be ready to snap up that elusive perfect candidate when he or she appears.

 

 

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How to Stay Sharp and be Successful by Disconnecting

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How to Stay Sharp and be Successful in your Career by Disconnecting

Many articles on business performance and leadership development focus on the role of technology. From artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to the Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud computing, every day we read about new ways for businesses to improve their performance and profit margins.

This article has a different focus. While acknowledging the importance of technology in the modern marketplace, it is the people within a business, including the leadership team, who are ultimately responsible for its success.

To function at their highest level and connect effectively with their colleagues and other team members, it is sometimes necessary to disconnect from technology.

Powering off for even a short time can take a lot of self-discipline as it is all too easy to just check that 'one last email' or sneak a peek at a news feed.

Here are some non-technical suggestions for activities that will help leaders to sharpen their minds and benefit their companies at the same time. They will also assist leaders in taking their minds off their computers and smartphones.


What leaders can do with their downtime

Learn a new skill

The human brain grows stronger through being challenged. There are many skills that can be learned or practiced without the use of technology. These include learning a foreign language, playing a musical instrument, taking up photography or cooking among others. By using books and face-to-face instruction, leaders will strengthen their skills of memory retention and communication with others.

Increase mental flexibility

In addition to learning new skills, leaders can sharpen their minds in several other ways while avoiding the lure of technology. The humble crossword and other word puzzles are effective ways of keeping the mind fresh and expanding the vocabulary.

While 'powered down,' leaders can use the opportunity to make calculations without digital calculators, remember appointments without online calendars and communicate with colleagues in person rather than through a device.

Another way to increase mental agility is to do ordinary tasks in a different way. For example, using the opposite hand to carry out a task or changing the order of a daily routine.

Be socially active

Just as practicing practical and intellectual skills will improve physical and mental agility, making an effort to be socially active will improve social skills. It is too easy in today's connected workplace to ignore colleagues sitting in the same office while focusing on clearing an email inbox or taking part in a remote video conference.

Disconnecting from technology can mean reconnecting with colleagues. This can serve as a reminder that leaders need to be constantly aware of the immediate environment to ensure a happy, engaged and motivated workforce.

Take up meditation

Meditation and mindfulness practices can make a huge difference to a leader's personal effectiveness and if you're looking to disconnect from technology, that could be the ideal time to start.

Meditation can help leaders to remain aware of all that is going on around them while simultaneously focusing their attention on the task at hand. It is not about emptying the mind, as some people think, but training the mind to be in the present rather than hanging on to past events and worrying about the future.


Eat a balanced diet

Without the distractions of technology, leaders can use their spare time to ensure they are eating a balanced, nutritious diet every day. This will give them the energy and mental focus to deliver a consistent level of performance throughout the day. A healthy diet is also important for emotional balance which, in turn, helps promote a positive work culture.

Enjoy adequate rest

The internet and digital devices have blurred the boundary between the working day and private life. This is particularly true for leaders who can find it difficult to fully switch off. By making a commitment to disconnect, leaders can restore their work/life balance and ensure they get adequate rest and sleep.

Be physically active

Time spent on computers and mobile devices can eat into the time we would normally spend on fitness and physical activities. This is a shame since exercise has been shown to support cognition, memory, learning and problem-solving.

Leaders can use the time reclaimed from technology to visit the gym or go for a jog, swim, bike ride or even take a brisk walk.

Technology is an inevitable part of the future of global business. However, by occasionally 'powering down,' leaders can work on their mental agility and soft skills to the benefit of their personal development and the success of their businesses.

 

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Importance of a Well Written Job Description

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A well written job description can save a hiring manager hours during the hiring process. If the description is written correctly and thoroughly, it will weed out those who are not qualified and will answer questions interested candidates typically have. If you seem to have trouble finding quality hires, you may want to look at how your job descriptions are written and see if that could be the source of your trouble. Here are a few tips to help you write better job descriptions.

Job Title and Summary - The job title should accurately reflect the work that will be performed. Once the position has been defined, give a short explanation of the position, including its purpose.

Responsibilities - One of the most important things a potential hire will want to know is what will be expected of them. Be sure their duties are clearly stated and include specific statements about their role. Be as concise as possible.

Salary Range - Many organizations will leave this out of their job descriptions, but this piece of information will help weed out any prospects that are expecting something more than what you are offering. Imagine spending the time and resources interviewing a candidate and considering them for the position only to find they aren’t willing to accept the salary that is being offered.

Skills and Qualifications - If you are requiring a specific degree or certification, be sure to include it. Not only should required skills be listed, but also add preferred skills.

Location - Include the physical address of where the work will be performed. Also include if travel is necessary. If so, state the percentage of time spent traveling and to what areas.

Having a well written job description will help weed out the candidates who are not a good fit. This will save time and money in the hiring process and save you from conducting fruitless interviews. It’s the first step in finding the best talent.


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Becoming a Great Networker

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Job hunting in today’s market requires various skills, one of which is networking. When done properly, it can make a positive impact on your career. However, the opposite can also be true. Bad networking can ruin your reputation. Here are some suggestions on becoming a successful networker.

  • Become the “regular” of your networking group. Showing up to all the functions of your group will help you get to know every member and, in turn, they will know you. If they know someone who is hiring, they will be more likely to think of you if you’ve made a strong connection.
  • Don’t wait for opportunity to knock on your door, go out and make it happen. Networking doesn’t happen ONLY at networking events. Step out of your comfort zone and meet new people. Attend events you might not normally attend. You never know where the next job offer will come from.
  • Always follow up with new connections. Exchanging emails or business cards is a start, but following up to make a stronger connection is important. Remember, the more a person knows about you, the more likely they will be to refer you for positions where they feel you’d excel.
  • Ask questions. While it’s important you get your information out to people, no one wants to network with someone who is all about himself. Be sure to ask questions and listen attentively to the answers. Asking open ended questions is a great way to get a conversation started, which will result in creating a stronger connection.
  • While focusing on what’s going wrong is easy, you should keep your conversations and attitude positive. People will see you are an optimistic person and will be more receptive to engage in meaningful conversation.

Implementing some of these strategies when networking will help you establish stronger more meaningful connections with people in your networking groups. You will also start to expand your circles, giving you more opportunity to find that perfect job.

 

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Managing Underperforming Teams

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A disengaged or unfocused team can cause a productivity breakdown in any business. The job of a manager is to decipher the underlying issues and get the team or individual employees back on track. When managing these underperforming people, here are some things to consider:

Get to Know your Employees - Whether you are having difficulty with a specific worker or an entire team, your job as a manager is to get to know your team and understand what makes them tick. Focus on what made them stand out and be hired in the first place. Find their talent or skill set and give them projects that will matter to them and make them successful. Don’t dismiss the possibility a situation in their personal life could be affecting their work. In any event, once you understand the cause, you can better assess how to re-engage them.

Share the Company’s Goals and Vision - Frequently employees will be disengaged, causing them to underperform because they can’t see how their duties contribute to the goals of the company. Be sure all members of your team understand their worth within the organization and the impact they have on peers, customers and upper level management. Once they see how their work ties into the success of the company, their work has more meaning and they become more invested in doing a great job.

Offer Continuous Training - When new procedures or techniques are implemented, there may be some confusion with members of the team on how to carry them out. Recognize the importance of offering training or retraining to those who simply didn’t understand the rollout of procedures the first time. It could be a very simple solution to help reignite the passion they originally had for the job.

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Provide Feedback - This is probably the most important thing a manager can do to help motivate underperforming employees or teams. Spend time giving them honest feedback about their performance and just as important, allow them time to talk about issues they feel are important. If there are areas causing problems, try to work toward a common solution that will benefit all members of the organization.

When teams start to breakdown and don’t perform as well as they have, getting to the source of problem as quickly as possible is imperative. Focus on the strengths of the team and isolate the trigger that may be the source of underperformance. Once you can determine the root of the problem, addressing and correcting it will be effortless.

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How A Pre-Employment Screening Can Affect You

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Employment screening used to refer to checking your references. While companies will almost certainly check your personal references, there are also other types of employment screening with which you may not be familiar. Being prepared for potential employers to look much deeper into your background than just references is very important.

Criminal History Screening - Criminal history can give potential employers information about a candidate’s moral and ethical compass. Many states have laws on how far back and what types of crimes employers can consider when screening new hires. If you do have a criminal background, it is important to be up front about the circumstances and don’t try to hide information. Being dishonest about the incident can be more detrimental than the actual event.

Credit Checks - One benefit to a credit check is you must give authorization for it. You will know in advance if this is something an organization is reviewing. Typically, a late credit card payment or debt due to medical bills will not be held against an applicant. However, student loan defaults or bills that have gone to collection or court, are not as easily overlooked. Your best bet is run your own credit check first so you know exactly what to expect.

Drug Testing - Depending on the position, you may or may not be required to submit to drug testing. If you are taking a prescription medication that is likely to show up in drug screening, be prepared to provide the prescription with the proper information. Also, if you are required to be screened prior to being hired, be prepared for random checks during your employment as well.

Sex Offender Registry Screening - Companies are often reluctant to hire individuals who might cause harm to current employees or endanger the company’s reputation. Again, being up front about the circumstances that led to being put on a registry is better than trying to hide it. Depending on the situation and the job for which you are applying, some organizations may be understanding of your predicament.

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Understanding the various types of pre-employment screening that may be done when you are applying for jobs is important. Be sure you are aware of what companies will find when they check your background. If there are any incidents needing explanation, be sure you are prepared to give factual accounts of the events being questioned.

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Working with Unmotivated Employees

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Every company has them…..employees who are working as a means to an end. They aren’t the productive, over achieving worker you hoped, but more the type who does just enough to get by. Often times, these types of employees can bring an entire team down with their lack of enthusiasm for their job. Addressing this problem needs to be done quickly so the entire department or organization doesn’t take a morale hit. There are three ways you can handle unmotivated employees. Trying each strategy in progression will be most effective.

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Talk to them privately - Frequently, people don’t realize their perceived lack of effort has an effect on their entire team. Taking them aside and providing them with actual examples of times they seemed to get in the way of an idea or didn’t move on a project as quickly as they should have, can help them understand other’s perspective. Conversely, be sure to see their perspective as well. Are there reasons why this particular person seems to hold back and, if so, are there things you can do to help them become more of a team player.

Help them understand “why” - For most people, understanding the purpose behind a project or task helps motivate them to do the task well. Be sure your entire team is on the same page and sees the big picture. Knowing the small mundane tasks are necessary in completing a larger project will help everyone keep their focus on the end result.

Make it clear to employees what is at stake - Even after implementing the first two strategies, there might be an employee that just can’t seem to step up their game. At that point, you need to make it VERY clear of the personal losses at stake. Remind the employee that in exchange for a stable work environment, steady paycheck and any other benefits, it is expected they contribute to the organization in a productive manner. If they can’t hold up their end of the commitment, they may not last in their position long term. If this conversation needs to be had, the employee will decide if their job is important enough to turn things around. If it isn’t, it’s in your entire team's’ best interest to find someone who is willing to do their part.

Trying these strategies can help unmotivated employees understand how their behavior can negatively impact the rest of the team. More often than not, they will be willing to improve their contributions to the organization.

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Working with a Recruiter

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Searching for employment on your own can become a difficult and arduous task. As time passes, you might ask yourself if working with a recruiter could increase your chances of landing a new job. In order for them to do the best possible job, there are a few things you need know.

  • Trust your recruiter, but ask tough questions - In most cases, recruiters have the experience to give you the best advice possible when dealing with a client employer. Second guessing or going against the advice given is usually not in your best interest. If you have opposing views, talk to your recruiter about them and get them ironed out beforehand.

  • Consider a recruiter that specializes in your field - Most recruiters specialize in specific industries. You will have a more productive relationship with your recruiter if you find one knowledgeable in your specific field or job function.

  • Follow through on commitments - Make sure you are willing to follow through with the entire process. Don’t back out on interviews that are set up for you. Not only does this make YOU look bad, it also makes the recruiter look bad and will more than likely cause tension in your relationship. If you aren’t interested in working for certain organizations, be upfront about your intentions.

  • Be professional - Treat your recruiter like you would a potential employer. Give them the necessary information needed to place you in a proper position where you can succeed. Remember, the information you give them is being used to find you a career, misleading or embellishing facts will only lead to an unsatisfying job placement.

Working with a recruiter can be a great way to advance your job search. They can place you in the right role and open doors to future opportunities. Maintaining frequent and honest communication is your best chance at locating and landing your next job.

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Modern Methods that Bring in New Talent

 In the past ten years, there has been a significant change in the way both internal and external recruiters search for new talent. To reach the next generation of job seekers, companies need to think outside the box when posting positions. Here are few ways for organizations to consider finding that perfect hire.

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  • Social Media - In today’s job market, posting your open positions on social media is a MUST. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and industry specific online groups are perfect vehicles to share job postings and develop casual relationships with candidates. Studies show people who are hired through social media, as opposed to traditional hiring means, are more likely to stay with the company longer. This means less time and money spent on recruiting and training of new employees.

  • Online Networking Events - Career fairs and in person networking are very valuable but they are also time consuming and can be cost prohibitive. Holding an online networking event is a great alternative to the traditional career fair model. They reduce the need for traveling and spending time with candidates who don’t have the required skill sets. Holding your online networking event will also give you access to a much larger pool of potential hires.

  • Employee Referral Incentives - Your current employees are a great resource when looking for new talent to add to your team. Offer incentives for finding and bringing in new hires.

When the times change, you should change with them. This includes the world of job searching. While some of these methods may not work for your organization, investigating more modern recruiting methods can benefit you in the long run. Not only will it save you time and money, you’ll also reach a bigger pool of candidates for that next open position.

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Phone Interviews: More than meets the Ear

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Your resume is flawless, your cover letter impeccable and your credentials have earned you an interview; a phone interview, that is. Many companies are now using this method of interviewing to decide if a candidate is worth spending the time and money to get to know better and some even use it for final interviews. So, how should you go about preparing for this type of interview? Much the same way you would prepare for a face to face meeting.

The first thing to remember is a phone interview should be taken just as seriously as an in-person meeting. The same way you would research the company in order to ask intelligent questions, make bullet notes to highlight successes and accomplishments in your professional career and dress appropriately for a traditional interview, should be done when planning for a phone interview.

Be sure you schedule the interview at a time when you will not be distracted and interrupted. Allow yourself a quiet room that will be off limits to children, pets and other distractions during the call. These things cannot only cause you to lose focus, but could also annoy the person interviewing you.

During the call, speak clearly and confidently. This eliminates the possibility for miscommunication and keeps the tone of the conversation positive. While you can’t be seen by the interviewer, try to keep a smile on your face. It helps to convey an enthusiastic tone in your voice and shows your excitement about the position.

One of the best things about phone interviews is you can keep cheat sheets right at your fingertips. Research about the company, notes you want to emphasize about yourself, and a copy of your resume should be on hand for quick reference. Often HR managers will reference your resume during an interview and having a copy will allow you to answer questions with confidence.

In this digital age, more and more organizations are turning to phone interviews as a less expensive and time efficient way of finding new hires. If you take the time to prepare, it could lead to being called in for an additional interview.

 

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Why Human Capital Is Your Company’s Greatest Asset

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Human capital is an asset consisting of the knowledge and skills held by a person that can be used by an organization to advance its goals. Many companies don’t understand why human capital is such an asset to their company. To ignore the importance of this asset is to risk moving your company forward.

While machines, technology and data are important to help companies reach their goals, some level of human knowledge and skills are needed for an organization to accomplish anything. Tapping into this unrecognized potential is vital for a successful company. Investing in your capital will incentivize employees to become more involved. They will be eager to reach goals set by the organization and this will boost morale. The domino effect won't stop there. As employee satisfaction increases, quality hires will be easier to retain and turnover will decrease. This means less capital needs to be spent on recruiting and training, leaving more to be invested in your current employees.

Human capital can be increased through education and training. When new members are brought into the team, their capital is low. As they prove themselves to be eager and willing to take on projects that will move the organization forward, their capital can be increased by investing in their education. Broadening their skill set and expanding their knowledge base will allow them to further advance the company towards obtaining their goals.

Why is it so important to recognize human capital? You will see a greater company culture. Employees want to learn, they want to advance their career and they want to enjoy their place of employment. Having a positive company culture will lead to engaged and happy employees which, in turn, will increase productivity and improve your bottom line.

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What’s Killing Your Productivity?

One goal of any organization is to increase revenue. In order to do that, companies need to be productive. Therefore, attention needs to be given in hiring individuals who can be consistently productive, contributing to the success of their organization. There are several factors that contribute to keeping your workers productive.

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This article will take a look at some of those factors and what can be done to avoid productivity pitfalls.

  • Prioritize your work the night before - Significant time is wasted in the office during the morning hours. Co-workers greeting each other and making small talk, getting your desk straightened out and deciding what tasks will be accomplished, take time away from accomplishing them. Prior to leaving each night, you should create a list of tasks for the next day. Your desk should be ready with the items you need for the first project on your list. This eliminates time wasted in the morning and allows you to get started right away.
  • Cell Phone Overuse - Technology has allowed for great advancements in the workplace. However, it is also a huge distraction. While cell phones are necessary, you should find a place for them when giving attention to your work. Place them in your desk drawer and designate a specific time to check your calls. If productivity is a priority while at work, cell phone distraction should be eliminated.
  • Email - Of course email is necessary at work, but many times we divert our attention from something of high priority to an email that could be addressed later in the day or even the next day. Similar to cell phones, you should have a designated time to check and respond to emails. Ideally, while working on a task from your list, your email should be closed so you are not pulled off task by the constant notification of incoming emails.
  • Multitasking - While this may sound counter intuitive, multitasking can actually kill your productivity. Trying to jump from one project to another interrupts your concentration and work flow. Each time you go back to a task, you have to take the time to find where you left off and how you will proceed. If you increase your attention to ONE thing for a longer period of time, you stay focused longer and accomplish more.

These are just a few tools that could make you the most efficient member of your team. Trying to make all these changes at once could be difficult. Try focusing on one and see if it works for you. If it does, great! Continue to incorporate these changes and over time, you will see your productivity increase.

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Importance of Team Building

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Team building activities are some of the most useful ways to form a trusting, cohesive environment in the workplace; they are also frequently overlooked and underutilized. Organizations could significantly improve the culture and day to day working of their team members, by investing time and resources in strengthening their relationships. The following are just a few benefits you can expect from providing quality team building activities for members of your company.

  • Effective Communication - The vast majority of team building activities require being solved as a group, which means communication is key. Practicing this type of communication can translate into more productive and efficient daily work.
  • Ease Conflict - One of the biggest advantages to working as a team, as opposed to individually, is the diversity of knowledge, resources and ideas. However, diversity tends to produce conflict. Team building activities can help employees become more accustomed to individual personalities, increasing the chance they will be more tolerant of opposing points of view.
  • Collaboration - collaboration is key to a successful business. Learning how to work together and solve problems through fun, non-threatening activities will transfer to situations that might arise during the work day.
  • Leadership - Through various activities, management can identify leadership qualities in individuals. This can help identify workers who would be able to supervise certain projects or take on roles requiring less direction from upper management.
  • Confidence - Having confidence to take chances others may not be willing to take, produces results. Being able to practice this behavior in a safe environment will build the confidence needed to apply the same determination and self-reliance in workplace situations.

Encouraging team building in the office not only helps develop open communication between the employees themselves, it opens lines of communication between employees and higher management as well. It significantly contributes to employee motivation, ensuring better productivity. Providing activities that build the team’s skills mentioned above, will contribute to the success of the organization.

 

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How to Use LinkedIn Effectively

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LinkedIn has become one of the biggest social media sites when looking for careers and quality candidates. This could be a great vehicle to help you land your dream job or it could also be what causes you to lose it. Here are some tips to help your LinkedIn profile characterize you as the professional you would like to be considered.

  • Don’t Use an Avatar - Your profile picture should represent your professionalism. Using an avatar or pictures including your husband, children or friends is conveying the message you don’t distinguish your personal life from your professional life. Your profile picture should be clear, professional, and relatively recent.

  • Be Active but not Overactive - You should keep your profile updated and join groups that will help you in your career search. However, don’t comment on every post you come across or update your status every hour. This could give the impression you have too much time on your hands and don’t know how to use it effectively.

  • Cross Promote - LinkedIn is just one web page of your online presence. Link your profile to your blog’s “About Me” page or any other web presence you have. It would also be smart to direct people to your LinkedIn profile from other venues.

  • Show Work Samples - In the “Summary, Education, and Experience” section of your profile you can add videos, images, documents, links, and presentations. This enables you to showcase work samples and projects you’ve accomplished. Companies can get a look at your work before they even get a look at you!

  • Colloquial Writing - Even though it’s a social media site, grammatical errors, acronyms, and colloquial styled writing can cast a bad light on you. Remember, LinkedIn is a snapshot of the professional you. Be sure your content is polished and perfect.

When searching for that perfect job, using social media is a must. Unfortunately, when used inappropriately, it will do more harm than good. Differentiate your professional social media from your personal accounts to be sure companies see the side of you they would expect to see at work…...the professional side.

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How to Avoid Mismanaging Your Employees

Though many people overlook this part of a manager’s job description, talent retention is a big part it. Keeping quality hires should be on the minds of supervisors on a daily basis. Study after study shows the top reasons employees leave their jobs are due to variables that can be controlled by proper management. Whether it be the culture or environment of the workplace, feelings of being overworked, or not feeling valued by their employer, managers have the ability to positively influence the way their workers view their jobs.

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Let’s take a look at some common mistakes that can send productive members of your team packing and what management can do to stop this from happening.

  • Be Consistent - One of the biggest complaints from employees is a lack of consistency from their managers. For any number of reasons, one employee gets treated one way and others get treated differently. Expectations should be the same for every member of the team, as well as consequences when those expectations aren’t met.
  • Be an Active Listener - When employees are heard, they feel valued and important; workplace satisfaction increases and so does job productivity. Listening skill training is often unnecessary if managers demonstrate they truly value people’s opinions.
  • Show Appreciation - One of the top reasons people leave their jobs is feeling unappreciated. Be sure your employees know how much you appreciate them working late in order to get a deadline met or going the extra mile to secure a new client. Team members are more likely to put in extra effort when their hard work is noticed.
  • Overall Workplace Culture - If there are issues in the workplace, management needs to deal with them immediately before they create an uncomfortable working environment. Contention between co-workers, unsatisfied employees, and unclear company goals are big factors in creating poor morale within a team. A dip in morale will affect productivity and the overall success of the company. Managers need to be aware of the climate and be sure any issues are addressed.

Recruiting new hires is expensive and time-consuming. Spend some of your time and money focusing on your current employees. This can help reduce the company's turnover rate and increase retention rates of your most valued team members. It will also give your organization a reputation for being a great place to work, making it easier to attract good talent when the need arises. 

Copyright: rawpixel / 123RF Stock Photo

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How to Communicate Effectively During an Interview

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A well thought out resume is the first step to making a great impression on a potential employer. Having the right experience, education, and references help your resume get noticed and in turn, help you land an interview. However, the way you communicate during that interview, goes a long way in supporting the credentials you listed in your resume.

Some studies have shown people form first impressions based 55% on body language and only 7% on actual verbal content of the conversation. Here are some helpful ways to make sure your non-verbal communication is saying what you want it to.

  • How you look - Your appearance is a reflection of your level of professionalism. You want to show the interviewer you care about the impression you are making and you take pride in how you represent yourself. Before one word is spoken, you have already conveyed the message their opinion of you matters and, if hired, you will put in the same effort when working with clients.
  • Your posture during the interview - When you are seated, don’t slouch. This gives the impression of being disinterested and too relaxed. Ultimately, you want to show you are engaged and confident. Sitting up straight and leaning forward just a little will show the interviewer you are actively listening. Try to avoid fidgeting, either with your hands or shifting your position frequently. This shows you are nervous and can also be distracting to the person interviewing you.
  • Eye contact - Making eye contact with the person with whom you are speaking is important. Again, your goal is to show your confidence. If your eyes are looking away from that person, convincing someone of your sincerity and self-assurance will be difficult.
  • Your handshake - While this may seem like a “no brainer,” often people are not aware of how they shake another person’s hand. Your handshake should be firm, but not bone crushing. Most importantly, your palms should be dry. If needed, dry them with a towel prior to the interview. You can also put powder or antiperspirant on them to keep them dry.

The old adage “you only have one chance to make a first impression” is never truer than in a job interview. You want the person interviewing you to see you as a confident, prepared professional who takes pride in themself.

Copyright: andreypopov / 123RF Stock Photo

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Interview Questions to Help Find Quality Hires

Interview questions need to be developed so the answers provide a company the necessary information to decide if the potential hire will be a good fit. The candidate’s job experience, background, interpersonal skills and professionalism all need to be revealed during the interview. If the right questions aren’t asked, you could miss out on valuable information.

While job specific questions are always necessary, there are other types of questions whose answers can inform hiring managers about the candidate’s values and work ethic. Let’s look at some of those.

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What are the most important skills you believe you would bring to this company? This question will inform you about what the candidate sees as important when considering their skill set. It will also give a better understanding about the qualities they feel are important for being successful in the position. Candidates need to have a strong understanding of the responsibilities for the position in order to answer this question thoughtfully.

What interested you most about this position? Knowing what interests a potential new hire also gives some insight as to what motivates them. Highly motivated employees are usually the most successful, and tapping into that motivation can benefit all members of the team in the long run.

What kind of support would an “ideal” boss provide you? Finding a candidate to fit into the existing culture of the company is as important as finding one that has the right skill set for the job. This question will tell you if the individual is self-directed or needs more guidance when it comes to starting and completing projects. If the leadership likes to micromanage its employees, a self-starter might not be the right fit.

What do you consider your greatest career achievement? There are several pieces of information you can get from this question. If the applicant struggles to answer, it may be a sign they haven’t done anything they consider an achievement. The answer will also tell you what they consider important and what they value.

As an employer, you need to decide what information you want to receive from potential hires and fashion your questions so the answers will give you that information. Knowing the purpose of the questions will help you get the most valuable information from the answers.

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