How to Keep in the Loop

Photo by Bruce Mars on Unsplash

Connect!

The result of your being in the loop means having timely and useful information. You are part of the information system within the company. If you never seem to know what is going on, watch out! Here is what you need to do:

THE IMPORTANCE OF INFORMATION

It is important for your career to know what is going on in the company. Is there a big new contract coming up? Is the CEO leaving? Are big changes in your department under consideration? This is  just a sample of what you need to know. If you are in the loop, you have a good idea of what is going on. Sometimes your boss will keep you informed, but not always.

BUILD YOUR NETWORK

Ask people from your team or others to lunch or for a coffee. Attend company sponsored social events. Go to the break room at least once in a while. Stop and chat with people on your way to your office.

STUDY THE POLITICS AND CULTURE OF THE COMPANY

Your networking should offer some good tips about the structure of the culture of the company. Look for people who always seem to have valuable information. Sit back and think about who are the people who have the CEO’s ear, who get the prize assignments, or who seem to get promoted.

DO YOUR HOMEWORK

Read the annual report of your company and any other articles that may appear in journals or other publications about your industry and your company. Find out about the background of the top people- check out their biographies. Ask yourself some questions like “Where is this company going in the future or what new products/services are being introduced?” Then ask around to see if you can get some answers.

BE CAREFUL ABOUT RUMORS

In some companies information is tightly held. Then employees may fill the vacuum with rumors. These may be false, partly true or totally true. Analyze what you hear, be skeptical and try not to forward any rumor that you suspect to be untrue.

BE AN INFORMATION GIVER

This can be a little difficult. If your job allows you to have certain confidential information, you need to honor that commitment. On the other hand, you can share information that you know to be true of a more general nature.

KEY POINTS:

1.Give and get information

2. Be careful about rumors

3. Don’t isolate yourself

Thoughts on Time

Photo by Ales Krivec on Unsplash

TIME


Time is money. This is a common expression heard in the United States. Certainly we can tell a lot about persons by how they spend money. Employees can also learn about their boss by how she/he uses time. Just as we have a limited amount of money, we only have a limited number of hours in the day.
Therefore, you need to think about how you manage your time.

A MATTER OF STATUS


If you are important, you can keep some of lesser importance waiting. However, it will not happen the other way around without some problems arising. A manager who keeps the CEO waiting is in trouble. He/she is less valuable to the company.
If you are important, you decide how long your subordinates will be with you. Thus the top manager controls the time of his/her underlings.
Sometimes a manager plays favorites among his assistants by inviting one to be with her/him much longer than the others. This is observed by the others, and may be resented. Therefore the hours spent with the top manager may indicate status in the organization.


ARRIVALS AND DEPARTURES

When the boss arrives and leaves is always noted in the company. Some come in early, before anyone else, and others come in late and stay after most leave.
If the boss takes long lunches, it is noted. If the boss lunches at her desk, it is also noticed. The manager sets the tone.
If the boss arrives exactly on the dot for a meeting, it is noticed. Employees will make sure to be there by then. If they are late, they may drop in the boss’s favor. The boss, however, can decide to arrive early or late. The others, no.
The number of hours the boss works, will be noted. If he/she is lazy and works few hours, respect will fall for the manager and actually the employees, in my experience, will try to reduce their hours also.
If the boss works long hours, the employees will probably feel obligated to do so as well.
This depends somewhat on the culture of the company. Young lawyers are expected to work many hours more than their bosses in a law firm.

KEY POINTS:
⦁ TIME USE COMMUNICATES STATUS
⦁ WHEN YOU ARRIVE AND LEAVE MATTER
⦁ USE TIME WELL AND SO WILL YOUR STAFF

3 C’s=Success in Business and in Life

Photo by Zac Durant on Unsplash

 I work as a Business English Coach in Lima, Peru. Working with my clients, I realized that communication is the key to success. It is especially true in those times when you must perform well. I am thinking of times like:

Making a pitch

Interviewing for a job

Making a presentation 

Participating in a meeting.

Talking with an important client on the phone.

These days, if you work for an international company, these tasks must be performed in English.

These are stressful events and they are more so when the person is speaking in a second language. For example, if you are a native speaker of Spanish, it may well be that you have to perform these tasks in English. It can be done and done quite well, but a critical factor is the preparation and attitude of the person. 

Of course preparation and practice are essential. They are important, but not enough. I ask my clients to think of the three C’s. in regard to performing this task:

Calm

Confidence

Clarity

Let’s look at each of these in turn.

The calm person is in control of his/her emotions. Nervousness doesn’t take over. You are under pressure, but control it. The focus is on the task. You are excited and feeling the energy, but you are in control. Some people find it helpful to think you are an actor. You have the feelings, but they are on the inside. On the outside you look calm. The outward appearance is what the audience sees. And they see you as calm.

We also want them to see you as confident. You are confident because you have prepared well. You practiced enough to know your lines. This is impressive to the audience. They see you as calm and totally in control. Even an unexpected question doesn’t bother you. You know your stuff and are ready. 

Lastly, but more importantly, you have clarity. You have thought carefully about your message. It is logical and easily understandable. You have tested it out on different people, especially those that have no expertise in your field. The audience will understand you easily. That is the main goal of any communicator. Otherwise why bother?

With the three C’s you are powerful. You will perform at your best. That doesn’t mean that you will always be successful. This is a difficult and competitive world. But you can come away with the knowledge that you did your very best.

Need help? Feel free to contact me.

Managing the Media

Photo by Jonathan Farber on Unsplash

How about an Interview?


Media relations may pose a problem for the manager whose first language is not English. If you need to speak with the media, get professional help before you do so. Experts in communication or public relations can guide you through a performance with the media that will help avoid making any serious mistakes. Frankly, such mistakes can be very costly to you and your company.

Sometimes an event happens and you must deal with the media immediately. Here is what you should do:
⦁ You can refuse to comment.
⦁ You can defer comment until you have more information.
⦁ You can comment, but only with information that you definitely know to be true
Some Extra Tips:


NEVER LIE


Your statement is on the record and will never be erased.


GET PROFESSIONAL HELP

You get a call from a newspaper or a television station. They want to do an interview with you. If your company has a specialist in public affairs, first contact that person. That person can help you decide if you should do the interview, and how best to do it. It may be that your company does not have people with expertise. Then, the following may be helpful.


WHAT TO ASK YOURSELF BEFORE DOING THE INTERVIEW?


How should you respond to a request for an interview? Is it important to explain to the public something that is going on with your company? Is this a chance to build better public relations? Should you be the one to do the interview or someone else? It might be a good idea to clear this with your boss.


YOUR AUDIENCE

Remember that the audience for your interview is different from the interviewer. You are talking to the interviewer, but this is not a conversation between friends. The people who read the article or watch the TV program are the general public. You are talking to them.
Keep it simple. Short clear sentences are best. Avoid technical language. Think carefully beforehand what you want to communicate.


ON THE RECORD

Keep in mind that everything that you say to the reporter will be on the record, even if the interviewer assures you that it is off the record. Remember that the reporter is looking for something that will grab the attention of the audience, not just some boring facts. Avoid being drawn into discussing topics that you shouldn’t be discussing at this point.

POINTS TO REMEMBER
1. Get Professional Help

  1. Tell the truth or say nothing
  2. It is on the record

Image

Photo by Linked Sales Navigator

Image or how you appear shouldn’t be an issue for a manager.

Logically, ability should be more important than image. Unfortunately, that may not always be true. There is a saying in Spanish “It is not enough to be good, you also have to look good.”
As a manager you will be expected to look professional, be competent, friendly and sincere. If you do, you will have credibility.
Physical appearance includes clothing, personal care, fitness, health and, even, sleep. If you need assistance with any of these things, try to get professional help.

PHYSICAL APPEARANCE


Some of us are beautiful and others less attractive. That doesn’t matter so much. Another aspect of appearance does. This relates to wearing good quality, well-coordinated clothing, appropriate to your status in the company. It should be clean and well cared for. We should look good and smell good.


FIRST IMPRESSIONS


First impressions do matter. So take particular care when meeting someone for the first time. A negative first impression is hard to overcome. When we meet someone for the first time, we want them to see us as professional, competent and friendly.


COMPETENCE


Our image is not only based on appearance. It is also related the perception that we are capable and able to manage the roles of our position. Here are a few suggestions:
⦁ Prepare carefully
⦁ Avoid arrogance
⦁ listen to others
⦁ admit it when you are wrong

FRIENDLINESS


Being able to relate to people in a friendly way is another aspect of how we appear to others. Stop and chat with the people in your company. Be ready to engage in small talk ( the weather, sports, vacations, etc.)


BEING REAL


Sincerity is vital to our standing in the organization. A reputation for honesty is invaluable. Saying something, and not believing it, is damaging because people soon learn that you are not sincere. If you promise something, do it. When someone who works for you really needs your help, do it.


THINGS TO REMEMBER


⦁ How you appear has an impact on your career
⦁ Look like an Executive
⦁ Think about first impressions

Body Language

Photo by Antenna on Unsplash

Moves That Communicate


Body language is the unwritten and unspoken way that we communicate with each other. It comprises the body movements, facial expressions, and gestures we all make.
These reveal, sometimes much more than words, the emotions and feelings of a person. Reading them, therefore, is an important skill for am manager. Observe and learn the language of the body

WATCH AND YOU WILL KNOW


Look. You will see the body position and facial expression of the people that you work with. Words are only one way to communicate. Emotions and feelings can also be expressed by body language. The point is that we often do not see what we need to see. Start looking.


MEETINGS


When you go to meetings, watch the other people attending the meeting.Take in their different body positions, hand movements and facial expressions. Pay particular attention when a controversial issue is discussed. Who is angry, very interested, bored?


ONE ON ONE

The person is seated in front of you. Perhaps he/she is a candidate for an important position in your department. It may be an employee giving you some information. Or it could be someone trying to sell something. If you are listening just to the words, you are missing a lot. What are the hands doing? Are the arms crossed? Is the person sitting rigidly? Is the body leaning forward listening with total attention to what you are saying?


PRESENTATIONS


You are the presenter. Look at the audience. Are they looking back, sitting straight, silent, nodding in agreement, fully attending the wonderful words you are speaking?
Or are they slumped down, no one looking your way, fiddling with their cell phones, some even asleep?
As the presenter, this is valuable information. When things are going good, you want to keep doing the same thing. When things are going bad, you need to make some changes.
Either way, body language is supplying you with valuable information.

Points to Remember
⦁ HELPS UNDERSTAND THE FEELINGS OF YOUR STAFF.
⦁ READING BODY LANGUAGE WILL HELP YOU COMMUNICATE BETTER
⦁ BECOME AWARE OF THE SIGNALS YOU GIVE TO OTHERS

Asking for a pay raise

Cartoon by Larry Pitman


It may well be that you deserve more money than you presently receive. Many factors come into play when you ask your boss for an increase in your salary. Just as with any other business decision, you will have to be ready to prove that you deserve more money. You have to prepare well. Here are some suggestions to consider before you ask.

TIMING IS IMPORTANT


Most companies have a cycle for making annual increases. If you want a pay raise above normal, you need to contact your boss well beforehand.

DO YOUR RESEARCH


Before meeting with your boss, find out what is the going rate for people in your position. You can use resources such as Payroll, Glassdoor and Salary.com on the internet. In addition, you could ask recruiters and others in a similar position.


PREPARE YOUR PITCH

It is important to be ready to make your case to your boss. You need to show that you are producing well beyond the expectations for someone in your position. In other words, you have significantly added value to the company. For example, you earned more profit, cut costs significantly, got a fat new contract, etc. In this regard, it is useful to keep a record of your significant accomplishments to use when you need it.


PRACTICE YOUR PITCH

This is important. You need to prepare by practicing what you will say in this meeting.


ASK FOR A PROMOTION INSTEAD

It may be that you are performing functions well out of the requirements for your position. Therefore, instead of asking for a raise, you could ask for a promotion to a new level or a new position.


KNOW HOW MUCH TO ASK FOR

Find out what is the normal increase that is given every year. This could come from fellow employees. For example, maybe everyone receives a 2% increase. You want to ask for more than this, perhaps a 5% increase depending on the situation.


BE PREPARED TO RECEIVE A “NO”.


There are many reasons why you may receive a negative response to your request. If that happens, don’t argue, but do ask what you need to do to receive a pay raise for the next time.


KEY POINTS:
⦁ Know how to approach your boss.

⦁ Do your research.

⦁ Organize your presentation

Crisis Time

Photo by Marcus winkler on Unsplash

Be Ready, Be Calm


Managers have to deal with crises. It is part of the risk of doing business. In fact, the whole environment of doing business has gotten so much more complicated in recent times that it is almost inevitable that some crisis will occur in a company.
I am referring to globalization which brings many more complex regulations involving environmental concerns and the threat of terrorism.
Managers must handle a crisis. This is a logical part of their responsibility. Crises that are not well managed will destroy a career. Further, a badly managed crisis can destroy a business. Here are my suggestions on how a manager can help manage a crisis successfully.

The Essentials

Looking at the essentials, it is easy to conclude that good crisis management depends on good communication and preparation. The manager who communicates well, will likely manage the crisis well. Solid preparation leads to a calm and confident attitude on your part which then generates trust and confidence in your ability. A crisis could be related to the business, a natural event or an act of terrorism or criminality.
There are three stages of communication in order to prepare well for a crisis:


Planning For The Crisis


In this stage you will attempt to identify any potential crisis that the company might face. This will require establishing a risk management committee, made up of people who need to take some role during a crisis. They need to meet and brainstorm the various possible trouble spots that might occur. It would be valuable to have simulation and role plays in order to clarify activity during the crisis. They can also establish protocol for communicating during the crisis.


During The Crisis


At this time transparency is essential. Try to provide as much information as possible, at all levels. There two reasons for this: to keep rumors at a minimum and to retain the trust and confidence of all the stakeholders.


After The Crisis


It is important to analyze exactly what happened in the crisis. It is also necessary to review what actions were taken. This information needs to be clearly stated in a report to be reviewed by your risk management committee and other responsible persons within the company. Based on your findings, recommendations for action in the future should be part of the report.

Main Points

  1. Plan for a Crisis
  2. Keep People Informed During the Crisis
  3. Analyze What Happened Afterward

An Important Value

Photo by dane-deaner on Unsplash

Accountability is a core concept In business and government. It is a way of working and living, even a necessary fabric of society. 

 Another word would be responsibility.

The military has developed it to a high degree.The chain of command focuses on accountability. In times of emergency and war everybody must do their jobs or there will be consequences.

It is the same in business and in our lives but with less drama. Nevertheless,, the health of any organization depends on people being accountable. 

What are the characteristics of persons who are accountable?

  • They are concerned for the general welfare and smooth functioning of the organization.
  • They demonstrate an attitude of caring
  • They do their jobs and more
  • They take responsibility for their actions

They notice when something is wrong and they take steps to fix it. 

They want to make the organization better

They will help where needed

They don’t pass the buck

This is a highly valued quality. For instance, it is what the public wants from politicians and stockholders from their companies. 

At its most fundamental point it is admitting that you made a mistake and  taking action to remedy the situation.Rather than hide something, bring it out in the open. 

In a healthy organization, an honest mistake is not punished and the employee does not have to be afraid.  

A healthy organization has this from top to bottom. 

In a dysfunctional organization, others will try to shift the blame.  

“It wasn’t my fault, it was him. He did it” 

A person sees something wrong and walks right by. 

“I didn’t want to get involved.” 

There is a saying “Success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan.” This illustrates the problem. 

In the American business system, accountability means that one person ( usually) has to take responsibility. It may be the top boss. If a big mistake has been made, an honest boss will take responsibility. 

“The Buck stops here”. 

A sign on the desk of the President of the United States, Harry Truman. He pointed out that he took responsibility for what happened on his watch. 

Other leaders, less courageous,  may  identify and punish a  lower-level individual who actually made the mistake. A CEO will say “ the person who did this has been identified and will be punished”. 

In sum, it is an attitude. It comes from the top. The leader can model and teach this behavior. A manager can instill it in his/her department. 

A good healthy organization has plenty of accountability.

A Presentation, Simple But Difficult

Photo by Kane Reinholdtsen on Unsplash

 A  presentation is a performance.

 It is the same as an athlete playing in a crucial game or a musician with a chance to play for an impòrtant audience. In these cases, the performers may have prepared and waited for years  The time finally comes to act. Will they do their best?

For all of us, it is important to do our best when our critical time arrives. 

The question is how do we get ready to perform when the pressure is really on?

 Some get up to the point and then falter. Their nerves get the best of them. 

Others act with confidence and grace. We all have seen these great performances. 

Maybe they have put in years of work and preparation.

However, with important presentations, we usually don’t have that much time to prepare.  

The time spent, then, is even more precious. 

Hard, intense work is necessary.

The first part is mental: knowing exactly what we want to say and who the audience is. To me, this is the hardest work. After this, everything falls in place. 

Once you know what to say, you can make the slides and write a script or outline. 

Then comes practice, practice, and practice. Have someone who can observe you and make suggestions.

Come to the performance with a good night’s sleep, rested and confident. 

Take a deep breath and get out there and do your best. 

There it is. It is simple. But it is also difficult.