Vol. 11, No. 12 – August 29, 2011

August 29, 2011


The 8020Info Water Cooler

Highlights from the latest information
for managers, leaders and entrepreneurs

1. How To Hire Creatively

Creativity and innovation are the lifeblood of organizations, but how do you make sure the people you select for your team are creative? On Inc.com Tim Donnelly canvassed some knowledgeable leaders, who share these tips:

  • Look for people rooted in strategy: Nate Morley, vice-president of global marketing and creative for Skullcandy audio products, says search for people who see the big picture and have a zest for playing with broad ideas.
  • Give homework: Scott McDowell, senior consultant of CHM management consulting, suggests offering the candidate a scenario to grapple with that requires the individual to display technical skills, creative thinking, and communication ability in responding to it.
  • Treat the hiring differently: Ashley Haber, co-founder and creative director of SpiritHoods head gear, says you should junk the criteria for normal hiring and focus on someone who is passionate, honest, and in touch on a personal level with your industry and the world of style, art and fashion.
  • Ask what they’re reading: Bill Winchester, executive vice-president and chief creative officer with branding experts Lindsay, Stone & Briggs, notes that creativity results from taking two unrelated things and making something new, so check out how eclectic the candidates are by inquiring about their reading habits.
  • Throw in a wildcard: Shaun Neff, founder of Neff Headwear, suggests throwing out a random idea in the interview process and seeing how they play with it, such as: if you had a blank canvas and a giant paintbrush that was triggered off your thoughts, what would the painting be?

2. Why Your Marketing Lacks Credibility?

Marketing director Eric Rudolf despairs at much of the marketing material he sees these days, and feels it’s generally being ignored. That could apply to your own organization’s marketing, if you fall prey to these missteps he sets out on RainToday.com:

  • You don’t write the way people talk: You use business buzzwords like “engage,” “empower,” and impactful,” which to many people are vague or meaningless.
  • You recycle the same old tag lines: He worked with a software company that adopted the tagline “Raising The Bar” and stuck with it as far more prominent organizations adapted the same idea in their slogan. If your tagline is not fresh and not limited in usage to your company, junk it.
  • You claim to solve problems that don’t exist: The problem you offer to solve for buyers should be an actual one, a pain point they understand or would recognize when it is explained.
  • You can’t resist telling people how great you are: Don’t drown the prospect or customer in a long list of reasons you’re wonderful. They’ll lose interest.
  • You never update your statistics: Your brochures and web sites are jammed with obviously outdated statistics.
  • You exaggerate to the point of being ridiculous: Very few products and services offer an all-encompassing solution for customer problems, so don’t pretend. Keep your marketing communications clear and credible, without stretching the truth.

3. Two Secrets To Keeping Your Employees Engaged

“Engaged employees stay for what they give; disengaged employees stay for what they get.”

That’s the advice from leadership development firm BlessingWhite, in its Employee Engagement Report 2011.

On Small Business Trends, consultant Rieva Lesonsky says that while managers and business owners think the pay or benefits are the top reasons employees consider career change, the BlessingWhite study shows that overall career development is the top reason for employees of all ages. So if you want people to stay and be engaged in your company, they must have a chance to contribute and advance.

People who stay at a firm primarily for the money, on the other hand, tend to be disengaged, the survey found. They are staying for what they can get, not what they can give.

4. Instead Of Business Cards, Link In

Next time you are attending an event where you expect to be networking, sales guru Jeffrey Gitomer suggests you don’t bring any business cards.

That seems almost as dumb as suggesting you show up without any clothes. But on Gitomer.com he says exchanging business cards doesn’t really make much of a connection. Instead of that ritual, suggest that your new contact link up with you — immediately — on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook. Pull out your electronic gear, and make a permanent, online connection.

“Think about the pile of business cards on your desk, of people that you’ve never really connected with, and certainly have never provided value for. Then think about the number of people you could be adding to your network; people who could really be enlightened by you and discover your depth,” he writes.

5. Zingers

  • The Nike slogan “Just Do It!” has been adopted as a creed by aggressive leaders. But in a choppy economy and complicated era, consultant Sam Geist says a more realistic operating motto for your organization might be, “Just Start It!” That makes getting going on new initiatives less daunting. (Source: Quick Bites Newsletter)
  • Don’t enter negotiations unless you are absolutely clear on your desired outcomes and know they have been thoroughly vetted and supported by the required people, advises negotiations expert Neil Patton. Outcomes should be changed during a negotiation only if a material and significant shift in the negotiation itself occurs. (Source: Pre-Think Inc. Newsletter)
  • Pastor and leadership writer Ron Edmondson says a key attribute of a wise leader is timing. The leader uses sound judgment and is patient, knowing there is a right time to act and a time to wait. (Source: Ron Edmondson.com)
  • Apple lays out its steps of service in the acronym APPLE, and you might find it helpful for your own organization: “Approach customers with a personalized warm welcome, Probe politely to understand all the customer’s needs, Present a solution for the customer to take home today, Listen for and resolve any issues or concerns, and End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return.” (Source: Wall Street Journal)
  • If you have a long article for your web site, Internet usability guru Jakob Nielsen says it’s almost never good to chop it up into a sequence of several pages. Stick it on a single page and rely on scrolling instead of page turning to keep readers going. (Source: Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox)

6. Q&A with 8020Info:
7 Key Dimensions of Customer Service

Question: What aspects of customer service do customers or clients value most?

8020Info President and CEO Rob Wood responds:

Here’s are seven top customer service values that we identified in the literature a few years ago when we were working with Oxford County on one of their customer service initiatives. Many other clients since then have found it to be a helpful checklist to ensure they’re meeting their customers’ most important expectations.

  • Responsiveness: How promptly do you respond to a request for service, whether it’s returning a phone call, sending information, or actually performing a service.
  • Reliability: Can customers rely on you to do what you promise to do?
  • Customer Care: Are your interactions with customers helpful, friendly, courteous and professional?
  • Communications: Do you provide information and answer questions in language that is clear? Are staff are easy to understand, and is it easy to find out how to get your product or service?
  • Access to services: Are you are conveniently located (physically or online)? Do you offer adequate parking and waiting areas? Are you easy to reach by phone, physically accessible and have signs that are easy to understand?
  • Cost-effective/Time-efficient: Do your service interactions give good value for time and money spent by your customers?
  • Fair Policies: Are your policies applied in a way that’s clearly fair and consistent for all (i.e. the same rules for anyone in similar circumstances)?

7. News From Our Water Cooler:
Suffer from Decision Fatigue?

Clients and followers on Twitter @8020Info  have been intrigued by some ideas we recently passed along about a new concept called decision fatigue.

As John Tierney wrote Aug. 17th in the New York Times, “decision fatigue helps explain why ordinarily sensible people get angry at colleagues and families, splurge on clothes, buy junk food at the supermarket and can’t resist the dealer’s offer to rustproof their new car. No matter how rational and high-minded you try to be, you can’t make decision after decision without paying a biological price. It’s different from ordinary physical fatigue — you’re not consciously aware of being tired — but you’re low on mental energy.”

Once you’re mentally depleted, you become reluctant to work through the various taxing trade-offs that must be considered in decision making.

Tierney explains that the more choices you make throughout the day, the harder each one becomes for your brain, and eventually it looks for shortcuts by either choosing the default option (doing nothing) or by acting impulsively rather than thinking through the consequences.

Similarly, exerting self-control in the face of temptation also leads to “ego depletion”, the term that describes this phenomenon, which was coined by social psychologist Roy F. Baumeister. People with the best self-control structure their lives so as to conserve willpower and avoid decision fatigue. Whether avoiding endless back-to-back meetings or the temptations of all-you-can-eat buffets, they establish habits that eliminate the mental effort of making choices.

It seems we make better-considered decisions early in the day and when we’re well rested. Glucose also appears to help replenish our brain when it suffers from decision fatigue. But for more, see Tierney’s excellent story in the New York Times Magazine.

Thanks for the encouragement:

“This newsletter (#175) was excellent, excellent, excellent. A job very well done. As usual I will be passing it along to my managers. Thanks.”

That was one of the encouraging comments received from readers after our last edition. While we always try to do our best on each 8020Info Water Cooler, it’s great to get feedback on how our newsletter is working for you. Recently we heard from our friends at the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Kingston Day Care among others. We’ve also been encouraged by new subscriber requests from organizations as diverse as the Government of Alberta and United Way of KFL&A. Thanks for spurring us on!

8020Info helps teams develop, communicate and implement their marketing communications, research and strategic plans more effectively. We would be pleased to discuss your needs and welcome enquiries at (613) 542-8020, or by email at watercooler@8020info.com

8. Closing Thought                                                                 Top

“Instructions for making a speech: Be sincere; be brief; be seated.”

— Franklin D. Roosevelt