Author: 17grapes

Are you solving too many of your team’s problems and challenges on your own? You want to have a team of employees who can make their own quality decisions. Here are three ways to help your employees become better problem-solvers:

Ask your employees for their opinions on a regular basis. Give your employees a voice in key decisions. A great way to build rapport is to make your employees feel as if their opinions are welcomed and that you’re not the only one making important decisions. Many business owners, executives and business leaders are not effective listeners. Take the time to listen to your employees and what they have to say. Solicit their views and ask for their opinions on a regular basis.

Provide flexibility. Assign a project or task, but give employees flexibility in how they carry it out. When they come to you for direction, don’t just let them know how you would do it. Ask questions to help them discover their choices —and the right path — on their own. For managers who aren’t used to this approach — and employees who aren’t used to making key decisions — there likely will be an adjustment period. But allowing employees more leeway on how they manage their work and solve problems can lead to creative and quality solutions and initiatives.

Know that mistakes will happen. Let your employees know that it’s OK when things don’t turn out like they had hoped. Experiments sometimes don’t work. New initiatives can fizzle. Don’t be the manager who pounces on people when they make mistakes. Make sure your employees aren’t afraid to take risks and try new things. Give them the freedom to take on new projects and initiatives and find strategies to make them successful. Many leaders and employees don’t like taking risks and have a difficult time dealing with failures. But taking calculated risks is an important part of growing a successful company, so it’s important to develop that skill.

Feedback — in all of its forms — is critical to helping people identify their strengths and weaknesses. Delivered correctly, it can help foster professional growth and help companies become more successful.

But most people don’t like getting feedback if it’s a mix of positive and negative. It’s human nature: Most people focus only on the positive aspects of their personalities and behavior and tend to ignore or gloss over the negative. Research also shows that many of us also tend to be more critical of the behavior of others than of our own behavior. Researchers at Harvard Business School and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that in addition, we don’t always react well when people tend to disrupt our view of ourselves.

Paul Green of Harvard Business School and Brad Staats of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that many people in the business world not only avoid but disconnect from people who provide them with critical feedback, even if it’s quality input that can help them succeed. Likewise, they tend to strengthen their bonds with people who see mainly or only their positive qualities.

Researchers Sheila Heen and Douglas Stone, who have studied this issue, have found that feedback strikes at the ‘tension’ between two core human needs — the need to learn and grow, and the need to be accepted just the way you are. As a result, sometimes even a seemingly benign suggestion can leave someone feeling angry, anxious, badly treated, or profoundly threatened.

As you can imagine, that’s not a good thing. Honest and quality feedback is vital to your success as a leader. The good news? Research shows us that we can overcome feelings of fear, insecurity and doubt to embrace the type of feedback that can help us reach higher levels of leadership excellence. Here are some ways to do that:

Develop and nurture relationships with those who are willing to provide you with tough feedback. Let trusted friends and work associates know you want quality feedback relating to your leadership skills — the good and the bad. Many of us don’t accept criticism well and it shows, making those closest to you reluctant to provide it.

Don’t automatically discount negative feedback. There’s a tendency to automatically discount feedback from people we don’t particularly like or respect. Wherever the feedback is coming from, though, you’ll benefit from taking the time to see if it’s valid before disregarding it.

Ask for clarification. If a colleague tells you that you’re too abrupt, for example, ask them for more information. If you don’t, it’s easy to blow the criticism out of proportion (everyone on my team thinks I’m a jerk) when maybe the message was only that you’re too short with your assistant who is highly sensitive.

Don’t wait for feedback. Research shows that feedback is accepted the most — and does the most good — when you ask for it instead of receiving unsolicited feedback. So make sure you’re regularly asking for feedback from those who are most likely to provide you with quality input.

Over the course of the past 15 months, many of us have started working remote or hybrid schedules. While these changes make a lot of sense from a health and public safety perspective, they also present challenges, especially when it comes to meetings and presentations.

Keeping all of your team members on task and free of distractions might seem like a daunting task, but there are several things you can do to make Zoom gatherings more productive. Here are four simple tips:

1.) Plan your presentation ahead of time. If you come up with a great idea, it can be tempting to present it without any preparation, but that can end up hurting your mission. If your thoughts aren’t organized or presented in an engaging way that’s easy to understand, it’s only a matter of time before your employees start reading their email or scrolling through their phones. Determine the meat of the subject and then break it down into easily digestible chunks. You can do this with a program like PowerPoint or SlideShare.

2.) Minimize background distractions. When you turn your web camera on, what can you see? If the background of your office is piled high with books or unorganized papers, take a few minutes to tidy up. The more clutter behind you, the harder it will be for your team to focus. If cleaning up isn’t an option, consider using a virtual background. Start with this step-by-step guide from Zoom.

3.) Set a time limit. There’s nothing worse than attending a professional meeting without a time limit. Considering the average attention span is just 12 seconds, it’s important you conduct your meetings as quickly as possible, but without sacrificing quality. If it helps, set a timer at the beginning of the meeting. If that’s not an option, ask one of your team members to watch the clock for you. Regardless of the importance, most meetings can be completed within 30-45 minutes. If you need time beyond that, consider scheduling a series of meetings over the course of a few days or weeks.

4.) Encourage team engagement. When you’re presenting, it’s easy to get caught up in the message. After all, whatever it is you’re trying to say is important. But feedback from your team is equally so. Throughout your meeting, take time to field questions or comments. If people are nervous about speaking up, encourage them to send questions or comments via the Zoom chat function.

By following these four tips, you can make your remote or hybrid meetings much more effective. If you have any additional tips for us, please visit our Facebook page and leave a comment.

Dealing with stress is no easy task. Whether you’re facing an important deadline at work, having trouble getting your kids to do their homework or struggling with a to-do list that seems to grow longer each minute, stress is an inevitable part of the lives of most Americans. Even though it’s difficult to avoid stress, there are smart ways to manage it. Here’s how to make stress, well, less stressful.

Take one thing at a time. Oftentimes we get stressed out when we have a lot on our to-do list. So we try doing multiple things at one time. Here’s the problem: Research shows that multitasking makes most people more stressed, not less! Studies also suggest that multitasking doesn’t help most people increase their productivity. Focusing on one important task at a time can help you get more quality work accomplished, which can help relieve stress.

Establish boundaries. In today’s world, it’s easy to feel pressure to be available 24 hours a day. But all the connectivity can cause stress. Establish some work-life boundaries so that you get a rest from work. You could, for example, have a no-phone policy while you’re having meals with your family or block off time each evening to not answer texts or e-mails. Don’t let your vacation time go to waste. And make sure you commit to unplugging from work and technology at regular intervals.

Keep your to-do list as small as possible. It’s been shown that people who make to-do lists tend to get more done. However, if your to-do list is too long, it can be counterproductive. Try to keep your to-do list realistic and manageable.

Eat healthy and get enough sleep. Getting too little sleep and snacking all day on processed foods with little nutritional value and relying on caffeine to get through the afternoon can make you feel more stressed. Research shows that simple things like getting enough sleep, eating healthy and taking short walks throughout the day can be powerful de-stressors. Try to make small changes each week, such as bringing a healthy snack to the office or going to sleep a half hour earlier. Remember that it takes about a month for most people to form a new healthy habit.

Running a business is no small feat. If you ask the U.S. Small Business Administration, they’ll tell you one-third of all new businesses fail in the first two years. If you let them continue, they’ll say half of all new businesses make it four years, and only 40 percent survive for six years or more.

So how do businesses survive? And more importantly, how do they thrive? We thought we’d take a break from industry topics today and focus on a broader business discussion that has undoubtedly touched every entrepreneur reading this blog.

What makes a business succeed? A recent study by Gallup found that a business’s ability to make it over the hump has everything to do with leadership. The quality of the company’s founder, along with the caliber of its management team, has more to do with company longevity than anything else, according to Gallup.

In its research over time, Gallup has found that companies that survive over the long term have executives that share the following key characteristics:

A clear vision: The leaders of successful companies are more likely to clearly articulate the corporate goals and competitive advantage(s) of their companies to their clients and employees. They create an inspiring narrative that unifies internal teams and clearly directs external growth efforts.

A close relationship with customers: They are more likely to make decisions about pricing, products and services with their customers’ needs in mind. They don’t neglect important matters such as profit margins, but they maintain a close relationships with customers and work toward improvements that will benefit those businesses long-term.

A plan for growth: They spend time planning for growth and aligning employee responsibilities with company goals. This requires an ability to step back from the day-to-day battles of business and articulate a plan for moving forward. This practice aligns employee efforts with a common goal and increases individual performance.

Gallup also found that business people who share these characteristics are three times more likely to build large businesses and to grow them significantly. They are four times more likely to create jobs, four times more likely to exceed profit goals and five times more likely to exceed sales goals.

What leaders have inspired you over the years? What traits can you emulate to make your business more successful? We’re grateful to be part of your professional life. If there is anything we can do to help you, please don’t hesitate to give us a call: (801) 245-0500

Remote work is becoming increasingly popular. A study released earlier this year by SmallBiz Genius found that 4.3 million Americans work remotely, accounting for 3.2% of the entire workforce. Considering that 74% of workers say they would quit their current job if offered remote flexibility elsewhere, it’s safe to assume that percentage will continue to increase.

If your business has already made the switch to remote work, you’ve probably experienced positives and negatives. It’s great not having to commute, but the lack of face-to-face interaction can make staying on task challenging. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools available designed to increase productivity and collaboration, regardless of your team’s location. One of those tools is Salesforce.

But isn’t Salesforce a customer relationship management tool? You might ask. While the answer is yes, it offers so much more than that. Let’s take a closer look at some Salesforce features that can take your remote team’s productivity to the next level.

1.) Chatter Posts. Many companies are investing in task management programs, like Asana, Trello, and Wrike. These digital “to-do” lists make it easy to track projects, collaborate with team members, and organize workflows without the need for several different applications. Salesforce offers a very similar feature, known as “Chatter Posts.” It’s kind of like a built-in messaging platform. Simply tag the team member you’re trying to connect with using the @ symbol. You can share documents, send messages, and even keep collaborators informed of your progress.

2.) Email templates. Do you spend a significant amount of time each week responding to customer email inquiries? If you’re tired of typing the same responses over and over again, create an email template. There are two ways to do this –– designing a template on the fly, or within the program itself under the Email Templates tab in Lightning. This three-minute video explains the entire process.

3.) Create an FAQ help center for your customers. Many small, remote businesses lack the funds and manpower to establish a full-fledged customer service department. This is understandable, but it also presents challenges. Without a dedicated group of customer service representatives, clients may find it difficult to get the help they need, exactly when they need it. Salesforce has a built-in Help Center template. It’s a great way to answer frequently asked questions and update your clients about changes. This video tells you how to get started.

Whether your business is fully remote, or you’re just starting to make the transition, Salesforce can make team collaboration and customer communication much easier. If you’re interested in learning more about Salesforce and all the benefits it offers, please get in touch. Call (801) 245-0500 or visit our website and fill out this online contact form.

There’s no doubt about it: American workers are stressed out. It’s estimated that work-related stress costs U.S. companies more than $300 billion annually in increased absenteeism, reduced productivity, increased health care costs and employee turnover. But figuring out what is stressing out your employees can be difficult. Everyone has different stressors and handles pressure differently. The good news is that research has identified a number of stressors that often affect large groups of employees — and the ways employers can help address them.

Surveys show that probably the biggest source of stress for workers is balancing work and family demands. That’s why telecommuting and flextime are sought-after options for a growing number of workers nationwide. Studies show allowing workers the option of working just one day of each week at home or offering some degree of flexibility in their working schedule can dramatically reduce their stress levels. Telecommuting isn’t the only possible solution, however. Ask your employees how you can help them meet the demands of work and family life. A bit of flexibility in how they get their jobs done can make all the difference.

Some other ways to reduce stress at the office:

Let the sick stay home. At many companies, it’s a badge of honor to go into work sick. Leaders often set the example by doing it themselves. Create a culture where people do not feel guilty staying home when they are ill. Even more important, encourage your employees to take all of their vacation days each year. One study showed that 52 percent of American workers did not use all of their allotted vacation time last year. All work and no vacation time leads to burned-out employees who are less engaged, enthusiastic and productive.

Create an after-hours work policy. Another big stressor? After-hours e-mails. Studies show that many employees feel like they have to answer e-mails and solve client problems after-hours. Simply put, it is stressing workers out.

Be a good communicator. When was the last time you simply talked with your employees about the changes happening in your company? Sometimes not knowing what is happening or why changes are being made can affect stress levels. It doesn’t mean your employees need to know the sensitive information, but basic information can calm their nerves.

Offer food. Do you order in food for your employees occasionally? How about breakfast during a morning meeting and offering some bagels, fruit, yogurt and coffee? Need to have a training meeting? How about incorporating it over the lunch hour and have lunch catered? Food: It’s a proven way to raise morale at the office, as long as there’s something everyone can enjoy.

Have a sense of humor. Humor can be a powerful tool for relieving stress. Share a laugh with your employees. It’s a great way to help diffuse a stressful situation.

Thanks to the rise of the internet, mobile streaming services, and the advent of affordable recording equipment anyone who wants to can start a podcast. Over the course of the last decade, these online radio shows have exploded in popularity, becoming the go-to source for busy professionals who want to learn, stay abreast of their industry, or hone their skills. Don’t believe us? Take a look at these statistics:

  • Currently, there are more than 350,000 active podcasts.
  • More than half of U.S. consumers 12 and older regularly listen to podcasts.
  • 65% of podcast listeners tune in on their smartphone or tablet.
  • 3 of every 4 podcast listeners say they tune in to learn new things.

That last statistic is why we’re here. Believe it or not, there are dozens of podcasts out there specifically dedicated to Salesforce. Some discuss Salesforce hacks others discuss implementation and sales. No matter your current knowledge, there’s a podcast you can benefit from. To help make the decision easier, we’ve listed a few of our favorite Salesforce podcasts below.

1.) Wizard Cast. Wizard Cast is a Salesforce-focused podcast hosted by Mark Ross and Brian Kwong. Each episode covers various topics, such as new product features, releases, and company news. Thankfully, Ross and Kwong both have a great sense of humor. Their one-liners, love of satire, and witty banter make tuning in a pleasure. Plus, you’ll close out of the media player having learned something you can implement in the week ahead.

2.) Forcepreneur. Not everyone who uses Salesforce is an established business entity. CRMs are just as beneficial for freelancers and entrepreneurs, too. That’s where Forcepreneur comes in. Hosted by entrepreneur and Salesforce user, Ankit Taneja, the program features interviews with business owners and thought leaders who use Salesforce to grow their brand. If you choose one podcast on this list, we’d recommend this one. Taneja produces one episode per month, so there’s plenty of time for you to listen and reflect.

3.) Mums on Cloud Nine. This podcast is unique in that it caters to businesswomen who are also moms. The program, hosted by Heather Black founder of “Supermums,” interviews professional women who juggle childcare and a career at the same time. Each episode includes relatable stories, Salesforce “hacks,” and in-depth conversations you’re sure to find fascinating.

4.) Salesforce Admins Podcast. You probably already guessed, but this one’s hosted by Salesforce admins, product managers, and community leaders. It’s a 30-minute, weekly podcast that features interviews with business owners who are using (and thriving with) Salesforce. Listening to this program is a great way to see what others in your field are doing.

Do you have a favorite podcast that didn’t make our list? If so, visit our Facebook page, leave a comment, and let us know. Happy listening!

Being a good manager is made up of many skills. But what are some of the most valued to employers and employees alike?

1. Time management

This might sound like a very specific skill, but good time management is indicative of several other skills. Managers with good time management skills are organized and able to see how the parts make up and affect the whole. Time management also involves good communication, not just to kick off a project but to follow-up on deliverables and to be able to effectively delegate when needed. Tracking and meeting deadlines is an essential skill to almost any managerial position.

2. Relational

Having a good head for business, budgets, decision-making and deadlines is no doubt a hugely important part of the role of most managers. It’s also important, however, to have relational and interpersonal skills. This doesn’t necessarily mean being an extrovert or a pushover. It does mean being able to listen, practice patience and work with a measure of empathy.

3. Motivation

You don’t have to be a cheerleader, babysitter or tyrant to motivate employees to get things done. Motivation might mean different things to different people, so it’s important to get to know your employees and have a desire to see them succeed as individuals, as well as part of your team. Providing and soliciting feedback are important parts of motivation, as it helps to build good communication and better trust.

Being a manager is a careful balance of asking questions, making decisions and listening. How do you feel your managerial skills measure up? Are there areas you could use some work? What are some of the most important qualities you think a manager should have?

Even though we’re born to be social, many of us don’t know how to build a large network of business associates and friends. We often limit ourselves to second-degree connections.

If you’re not familiar with the concept, according to one popular theory we all have an average of six degrees of separation from everyone on the planet! What’s the significance of that statistic to you? If you work your personal connections, you can link with one person, who then knows another person who might be interested in doing business with you. That’s considered a second-degree connection, and for most people that’s as far as it goes. Yet there’s a tremendous wellspring of networking potential when you venture further.

So how do you build a connection with as many people as possible? It’s important to attend both small and large gatherings, viewing those opportunities as potential to amass a gold mine of contacts. The type of networking events you attend makes a big difference. Do you attend only those networking events designed for your industry? Look for networking opportunities at events designed for a wide variety of industries and interests other than your own.

And always think about ways to reach out to others beyond traditional networking events. If you’re attending a speech or presentation, for example, you may want to make an effort to approach the speaker after he or she is finished to ask a question or make a comment. Ask business associates and friends for an introduction to people who may be interested in what you have to offer. And remember, networking isn’t only about how other people can help you. It’s about how you can help others. That’s a great way to build a bond — and develop a new client or customer!

What are you waiting for? Put a plan into action to build your business by mining those second-degree connections, with the goal of progressing to third-degree connections and beyond!