July 8, 2018


The 8020Info Water Cooler

  Highlights from the latest information
  for managers, leaders & entrepreneurs



In this 8020Info Water Cooler we discuss ways to avoid a summer slump, how to network in a positive way, investing in ethical sensibility, how to respond to an abundance of meetings and emails, and we highlight some content tips to keep in mind when posting on social media. Enjoy!


1. Avoiding A Summer Slump

It can be easy to let things slide in summer — for many, it is a slow season.

But consultant Colleen Francis says on her blog “slow seasons are self-made and self-perpetuating. You get the conditions you expect.”

She says commerce doesn’t care what season it is, and that’s probably true of other non-commercial organizations. There are activities you can be doing to keep clients and sales flowing. If your activity slows down in summer, that’s because you are letting it happen.


  • Do a customer service health check:  You have the time to give your undivided attention to top clients and figure out how to serve them better. That may reveal additional services they would be interested in.
  • Develop your pre-emptive early warning system:  You should have ways of knowing in advance when a client is about to desert you. This is a good time to develop — or polish — such a system. “By getting ahead of a client’s desire to leave, you gain the ability to save that lost customer,” she says.
  • Create a client reactivation campaign:  Reach out to previously lost customers. “Did you ever ask them why they left? Do that now. At minimum you will gain important insight to help you perform better,” she says.
  • Ask for referrals:  This always gets put off when people are busy. Summer is an opportunity to schedule check-ins with clients and to ask for testimonials and referrals.
  • Invest in yourself:  Schedule lunch-and-learns with others.


2. Invest In Ethical Sensibility

An organization can’t function without a physical infrastructure of work spaces, technology, transportation, and the like. But John Hooker, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, says it also requires a social infrastructure, which consists of the social practices that allow you to relate successfully to coworkers, customers, and the community at large.

Part of that social infrastructure is an ethical sensibility, which requires maturity.

As youngsters, he explains, norms are usually learned from family and school, and in adulthood, for many people, the organizations to which they belong.  Then, people may begin to do their own thinking but buy into a thought system that claims an answer for everything.

A more mature stage involves acknowledging the validity of different points of view but striving toward a rational consensus.  It arrives later in adulthood, if at all.

Ethics training can take several forms. One is an ethics course in school. A second form is ethical training on the job, which he says can be effective if it goes beyond simply sitting around and exchanging opinions.  Participants must be asked to analyze dilemmas, and have their analyses critiqued.

“Perhaps the most effective form, however, is a practice of ethical discourse within the organization.  Beginning with top management, ethical analysis should be consistently used in meetings and memos.  It should play a central role in explaining and justifying company policy.  People tend to absorb the thought patterns to which they are exposed on a regular basis,” he says.


3. Take The Email Oath

The average worker spends nearly one-third of their time in their inbox each week, typically sending and receiving 120 or more emails each day. To counter that, the folks at White Space at Work, consultants on improving organizational workflow, have created The Email Oath, which they ask you and your team to sign.

Acknowledging that email can be “a pain,” “a drain,” and “a time suck,” it says you will do your imperfect best to:

  • Write shorter emails.
  • Pause before sending each email to determine if my request could be saved for an upcoming face to face.
  • Save CC’s for only the most critical participants.
  • Truly, really stop using Reply to All 99% of the time.
  • Make subject lines current, tight and efficient.
  • Minimize one word emails such as Gotcha, OK and Yup!


4. Networking The Positive Way

First impressions are powerful. In anywhere from 1/10 of a second to seven seconds, people you meet will size you up and form an impression.

To make sure you create a positive first impression, the experts at Shepa Learning Company in Vancouver recommend deciding first to like the people you are going to meet. Give them the same warmth and friendliness you would express to friends.

But that’s just a first step. They note in their newsletter you also need to be thinking “these people are going to like me.” Research suggests that mindset will inspire you to behave warmly; if you expect rejection, you will act coldly, perhaps withdrawn or a little aloof, and receive a similar reception in turn.


5. Zingers

  • Plan ahead:  If you create your to-do list in the morning, that’s too late, according to consultant Eileen Roth. First, there may be items that require action even before you hit your desk. As well, thinking about your to-do list the night before allows you to put your mind at rest and transition into personal time. (Source: Fast Company)
  • Allocate time for your priorities:  Look at your calendar. Does it reflect your priorities or is it taken up with update meetings, status reviews, standing meetings and other activities with limited value, asks author Mark Smith? (Source: BlessingWhite)
  • Keep videos concise:  In presentations, video clips should be no more than 30 seconds long. PowerPoint specialist Dave Paradi says people watch so much video these days they expect it to be quick. They also expect it to be sharp, in focus, and the words clear, given they can routinely get high quality from their smart phones. (Source: LinkedIn)
  • Safety threatens creativity:  Creative institutions get bigger so they can avoid doing things that feel risky. But entrepreneur Seth Godin offers another perspective — while the bureaucracy might benefit from more scale, the work doesn’t. Hiring more people makes their useful creative productivity go down. For marketing teams, architects, strategists, writers, editors, programmers, city planners, creative studios and teachers, he says the natural scale of the enterprise is smaller than you think. (Source: Seth’s Blog)
  • Creating a good sleep routine:  Sleep is important to good work performance. Life coach Louise Thompson says we usually waste 15 minutes pre-bedtime, for example starting a TV show we know we won’t finish, or going back and forth to find things, or looking one last time at email. Eliminate that wasted time and you’ll have two hours extra sleep a week. (Source: The New Zealand Herald)


6. Q&A With 8020Info:
    Meeting and Email Trauma

Question:   I seem to spend all of my days in meetings or dealing with email, and can’t get any work done. What should I do?

 8020Info Associate Harvey Schachter responds:

There’s a fallacy we tend to share that meetings and email aren’t work. They are. In a collaborative world, both are essential. And if they seem like time wasted, think of where you would be without them. Calling people and arranging meetings in their office, and then taking what you learn from those individual meetings and emailing others who need to know what happened, endlessly.

So meetings and email save time. Big time, actually.

That doesn’t mean they can’t be more efficient and that you and the people you work with can’t have better protocols, of course. Try to get your team to discuss that. Fast Company reports that one company, Healthify, holds a meeting purge every six to nine months, eliminating all recurring meetings and then instituting rules by which they can be added back.

What you are yearning for is probably more time to clean up small, routine tasks that build up over time and to isolate yourself for some “deep work,” analyzing issues, writing reports, or preparing presentations, for example.

That suggests you have four key bundles: Meetings, email, administrative stuff, and deep work. First, track yourself for a few weeks, to get a handle on where the time goes and where you might best look for efficiencies.

Each day, start to mark the importance of what’s ahead and devote your time accordingly. But be fair about meetings and email, keeping what they accomplish in mind. Rating the importance of the tasks — and ideally, it’s importance, not urgency that counts — may indicate when you need to skip a meeting or delay responses to email.

The more you can clump routine tasks together, on certain days or in certain low-energy periods, the better it will be.

Often people unrealistically hope to curtail or regularly skip meetings they are expected to attend. But the meetings have a purpose and you are expected to attend for a reason, probably a good one. Better to sometimes skip them, explaining you have to devote yourself to something vital, presumably deep work. Naming that task and describing its importance (or urgency, if need be) will usually give you a pass.


7. Around Our Water Cooler:
    Don’t Spam Your Base

With many of our clients shifting most of their communications resources into digital sources, it is important to know what types of messaging are good, and what type our customers don’t respond well to.

There are many different approaches to crafting your online presence, which includes how you interact with consumers. Ayaz Nanji describes on Marketingprofs how your followers tend respond to various approaches:

He found that posting too many promotions and content is the most annoying action a brand can take (almost 75% of people get annoyed by this), and it is the most common cause for consumers to un-follow you (46% of unfollows come because the brand posts too often).

Using excessive slang/jargon, posting irrelevant information, and not responding to messages were other frustrations reported by consumers.

Conversely, people were most likely to follow brands when they are interested in the product, interested in promotions or incentives, to communicate with the brand, and companies they find entertaining.

This shows that most people are there because they are interested in your product and potential promotions or incentives. Post with this in mind: don’t get lazy with your marketing — post focused, relevant information — don’t drown your followers in messaging.

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8020Info helps senior teams develop, clarify and build consensus behind their strategic priorities. Our services support research / stakeholder consultations, strategic planning processes, change and marketing communications. We would be pleased to discuss your needs and welcome enquiries.


8. Closing Thought 

“For the first 25 years of my life, I wanted freedom.
For the next 25 years, I wanted order.
For the next 25 years, I realized that order is freedom.”

— Winston Churchill