business

Poll: How Long Should Meetings Last

Meetings are a common part of working for a company. And while they can prove to be incredibly inspirational, motivating and powerful, on the flipside, they can disrupt employees and take up more time than necessary. If attendees are tardy or get off-topic, meetings can turn into more of a social gathering than a productivity gathering.

Additionally, depending on what time the meeting is scheduled, they can prove completely ineffective. I’ve known companies with policies to only have emergency meetings on Friday afternoons because they knew the chances of attendees retaining and acting on the meeting topic Monday morning was slim.

What do you think? How long should meetings last? What are your meeting tactics? Please vote in the poll below and comment with what has worked best for you or meeting horror stories from meetings gone too long.

5 Steps to Overcoming Disasters in Business

No matter how much planning goes into a project, sooner or later, something can go wrong and a minor disaster can occur.  We’ve all been there and you’ve probably noticed that different people handle these disasters very differently.

The way the disaster is handled can result in a very positive or negative way for the customer.  If you let yourself slip too far into what I call the “panic zone,” you become unfocused and unable to make rational decisions.  The panic zone causes stress and confusion and allowing it to take over will cause you to create a negative experience.

Here’s how you can make it a positive experience:

  1. Stay calm. Staying calm can be very difficult, but it is very important.  You’ve planned and expected your process to follow the plan so when it doesn’t, your whole mental process is thrown off, which is confusing and upsetting.  However, staying calm will allow you to make wiser, better decisions.
  2. Don’t focus on blame.  You may have noticed that for some, pointing blame is the initial reaction.  This is natural, but completely counterproductive for a positive outcome.  If you are wasting resources on blaming others, you aren’t solving the problem at hand which should be the top priority.  Also, if your team members are worried about being blamed, they are less able to focus on problem resolution.
  3. Focus on the end result.   Focusing your concentration on the end result will help guide your thinking to resolving the problem at hand.  If you can use tunnel vision thinking to block out distractions, you can better focus on problem solving and get to a solution a lot faster.  For example, if a shipment is late, focusing on how you can get it there on time will help you get it there on time faster than finding out whose fault it is for making it late.  That can be discussed once you are out of the panic zone and the problem is solved.
  4. Make it happen. If you have invested in resolving this problem, you must stay focused to ensure the solution happens.  Don’t rely on others to make it happen for you—this is your project so you need to stay on top of it.  Nothing is worse in problem solving than getting close to a positive solution then dropping the ball.
  5. Follow through. This goes hand in hand with making it happen.  Ideally, we want our customers to think that we never make mistakes and are always on top of things, but the reality is that we can’t always control situations 100 percent.  Customers generally are understanding and if you make the effort to fix a problem to create a successful outcome for your customer, they generally appreciate it.  Communication is key and it can make you look even better if you let your customer know that your focus is on making sure you’ve gone above and beyond to make sure they get what they want.

Reflection: It is important to acknowledge that problems can’t always be resolved to the customer’s satisfaction.  Perhaps they ordered a custom product that got destroyed in a fire and replacements just cannot be produced in time or maybe the customer is not satisfied with how their order was handled, even with a positive result.

There are situations that are out of your control, but as long as you have done everything you can to reach a positive result, sometimes you have to settle with having an unhappy customer or losing a customer.  It is not an ideal situation, but it is a reality.  The best case scenario for that situation is that your customer is caught in their own panic zone so there’s always the chance they will realize your efforts and come back.

Just remember that the reason you are in business is because of your customers so they and their happiness need to be your immediate focus.  Any internal factors causing these disasters should be evaluated once the problem is resolved to prevent repeating them in the future.

5 Unexpected Teamwork Tips I Learned From Watching “Bridalplasty”

I’m not one to keep up with the Kardashians, but I do appreciate a bit of garbage reality TV every once in a while.  My latest adventure was E! Network’s Bridalplasty, in which 12 engaged women compete for the perfect wedding, completed by multiple plastic surgeries in the process.

The show was what you would expect—cat fights, alliances, tears, yelling—the whole shebang.  But what I didn’t expect was to get some great pointers on how to be an effective team player in a business.  Reality shows are essentially a business—one of entertainment—therefore, business practices are exercised regularly on reality shows.

Here are 5 unexpected teamwork tips I learned from watching Bridalplasty:

  1. Don’t be a downer.  Women who had consistent negative attitudes did not do so well on the show.  No one wanted to be around them and they brought general morale down.  However, when a woman got out of her funk and showed a more positive attitude, she not only gained the respect of others on the show, she regained a sense of confidence.
  2. Pull your own weight.  One of the worst parts of working in a team is the lack of balance that can occur.  Usually, there is a leader who delegates tasks that the team is responsible for completing.  However, when someone slacks, the rest have to work harder.  Even if you aren’t working in a defined team, your entire workplace is a team setting since each department is involved in the processes that make up the business.  By pulling your own weight, you prove to your team that you are a team player and you  allow them to do their jobs.  Those who don’t pull their weight can and will be replaced by those who do.
  3. Don’t walk on other people.  While it was exciting to watch the self-proclaimed “Puppet Master” try to run the whole competition, she also created a house full of enemies by doing so.  This type of person can be very successful in life, but loses the respect and trust of others, ultimately having more enemies than friends.
  4. Be honest with others.Benjamin Franklin wisely said “Three can keep a secret if two of them are dead.”  Viewers saw in multiple cases how dishonesty ruined the game for many of the women and how honesty helped one win.  Telling the truth, while sometimes difficult, leads to appreciation, trust and respect from others.
  5. Underdogs can (and will) prevail! The great thing about underdogs is while they usually have to work a lot harder than others to achieve a goal (that’s what makes them an underdog), their hard work pays off and they are eventually rewarded for it.  Underdogs work closely with peers so they gain a lot of respect and support on their path to success.  People love for the underdog to come out ahead because it proves that anyone can be a winner, regardless of their situation.

While reality shows are a great business model example, they are more accelerated so what happens in a reality show may not occur for several months or years in an actual business.  In the real world, coworkers aren’t forced to live together and have every move recorded 24/7 so it can take longer to build alliances and enemies.  But the main points of building a solid team are there and applicable to a work environment.

What teamwork tips have you learned from reality shows?

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