Will Your Business Package Become A Casualty During the Holiday Season?

Every holiday season, from late October through January, finding a reliable courier or shipping company can become a nightmare. Time sensitive packages are not always given top priority by the big courier services because of their high demand for deliveries during the holidays.

Businesses who rely on courier services throughout the year know the holiday season will become a problem for them due to the overwhelming of daily consumer shipments. Whether it’s a gift being delivered across the country or a medical lab needing sensitive packages transported a few miles away, all packages are treated the same. That means without proper care!. How many times have you seen “FRAGILE” on a package only to receive it smashed. It almost seems some courier services enjoy damaging packages. They think tossing it into the back of the truck is careful. Or rolling it like a bowling ball is fun. Well, not to the medical labs, dental offices, hospitals or other businesses that hope their package is treated with care.

Unlike a consumer who can pre-schedule their package to be delivered, many businesses do not have that luxury. Flexible delivery dates are not part of the business world. Too often a special delivery package needs to be sent within a few miles. It could be within a 100 mile radius or just a 10 mile distance. No matter how far, the package needs to get there NOW.

Don’t wait for your packages to have these issues with your existing courier service during the holiday season. One reason why this happens is they hire temporary drivers and those drivers might not be familiar with the area. And more than likely, they are paid by the hour, so what’s another hour or two on the road to them it’s more money! Managing time-sensitive packages like medical supplies, medial lab tests, or legal documents can get lost easily during this busy season. Local same day courier services are small enough yet large enough to give you the personal care for all same day deliveries.

Isn’t it be time you find a local courier service that is reliable and doesn’t hire temporary drivers? If your business has packages that need to be delivered within 100 miles, ask your business friends on who they use for their deliveries and if they are satisfied. Be sure they have a solid reputation with medical labs, hospitals, pharmacies, dental labs and other businesses that require sensitive packages to be delivered on-time. Many businesses require same day delivery!

Five Smart Office Cleaning Tips and Tricks

The average person spends more than 40 hours every week in the office. Most that time they are working under the constant pressure of meeting deadlines and finishing complicated projects. It is scientifically proved that a cluttered office space has an adverse effect on the workflow. Of course, almost every office uses some commercial cleaning services and counts on professionals to take care the clutter. Still, there are some things that you have to do by yourself. Following are some tips that can significantly support your office cleaning and decluttering duties:

File as you go – One of the most irritating things in the office would be a big pile of papers on the desk. Well, try to organise your office routine in a way that allows you to process all papers as you go. To do that, you can set up some system of file holders that are labelled and create a habit of using them regularly. You may apply the same practice for your computer desktop.

Clean the desk – Do you have the habit of eating your lunch on the desk? If you have, then you should consider cleaning it every time you use it as a kitchen table. Fortunately, cleaning the desk will take you no more than a minute. All you need is some cleaner (window cleaner will work just fine) and some paper towels. Just spray with the cleaner and wait for 30 seconds for it to dissolve the dirt and then wipe with the towels.

Clean the electronics – The most commonly used office electronic device is, of course, the computer and especially the keyboard and the mouse. You are touching these two items during the whole day, and no matter how clean your hands are, the keyboard will always be a breeding ground for all sorts of germ and bacteria. So, the easiest fix would be using antibacterial office cleaning wipes. Remember to clean your keyboard every so often, because it makes a difference.

Find a place for everything – The key to making your workplace more visually appealing is to find a place for everything. For that purpose, assign a place for every object and label it so that you would never forget where you have put something. This is a solid tip for reducing clutter, which in turn would mean less dust to deal with.

Get rid of the desk junk – You might love your collection of colourful cheap pens, the magnet business cards, the calendars or the old bottles. Well, it’s time to get rid of all that junk so that your desk would be clutter-free. This will increase your productivity and make you feel better at work. Remember: your desk is a projection of you. The more cluttered it is, the more people will think of you as disorganised and unreliable.

Once you create the habit of following the above tips, you will see that you will be much more efficient in handling the challenges in the office. Office cleaning and decluttering is a needed step in that direction.

Why the End of the Year Is the Perfect Time to Review Your Finances

Whether you have a startup, a small business or a large enterprise, chances are the year has passed at the speed of light for you. You were designing your marketing campaigns, availing opportunities of growth and looking through reports when the year-end arrived. While people dedicate this time of the year to holiday delights and festivities, this also happens to be the perfect time to do a review of your finances whether you are just an individual with a 9 to 5 job or a small business. Why should you spend your end of the year for a financial review? Here are the top reasons.

A Strong Visual of Your Financial Standing

The most important thing about a year-end financial review is that it gives you a complete visual of where your business is standing at the moment. Everything that has happened throughout the year is now on the reports before your eyes. You can look at the reports and see what has performed and what has not performed. You must have put a lot of money into marketing your products, services and the brand as a whole. You can now see which of those campaigns have yielded good results and which of them have proved to be futile.

Same goes for your account receivables. Compare your account receivables with those from the previous years and see if there has been any increase or decrease. If there is an abnormal increase, it is a telltale sign that you might need to change your payment plan or push more to receive your pending payments faster. Every activity you have done in the past year has painted a picture, which is now in front of you. Whether you grew as a business, stagnated or receded is clear at the end of the year.

The Best Time to Set New Goals

Based on how you performed in the preceding year and whether or not you have achieved your set targets and goals, you can set goals for the coming year. Your previous year’s performance should clarify how you have to set your targets for the coming year. Keep them realistic yet motivating and challenging enough to leave room for hard work, struggle and progress. Not only should you be looking at how successful you were in achieving previous year’s goals, you should also pay attention to your current financial standing.

Best Time to Apply for Loans and Credit Processing Services

Regardless of how long you have been in business for, when you go and apply for certain services, the service providers take a look at your previous year’s performance. Let’s say, for example, that you want to apply for a merchant account (maybe a high-risk one) so you can start processing credit card requests for your customers. When you approach a merchant account provider, they will ask for some history of your business activities-at least 3 months. By the end of the year, you have enough data to show to lenders and credit processing services to convince them to do business with you.
Of course, a financial review will give you a good look at whether you have done enough to impress these service providers or not. You can apply for these services with a quarterly credit history as well, but in most cases it will not be considered sufficient.

Best Time to Get Your Tax Files in Sync

Yes, you have been extra careful about your tax filing and preparation the whole year, but the overall integrity of your records still has a question mark on it. It is extremely important for you to prepare your tax files at the end of the year and calculate your liability with utmost accuracy. While tax preparation softwares have made the job much easier, complex tax files still need attention from your personal accountants to get everything in sync. Now, the important thing here is that a review does not only help you escape penalties that you might attract by putting wrong information on your file. You want to update your information at the end of the year because you want to accurately calculate your own benefits too e.g. tax credits, exemptions, standard deductions, itemized deductions, etc.

Time to Start Afresh

Your business might not have been a very successful venture. In fact, many businesses don’t make the best start and it seems in the beginning that it would be difficult for the business to survive. However, small changes in strategies and cuts in costs can prove to be greatly benefitting for businesses. The best time to start afresh and renew all your reports and files is the end of the year. While you can change your strategies and plans midway too, it is natural for most humans to feel the need for a new start at the start of a new year. For example, people can decide to lose weight at any time of the year, but it seems it makes most sense to them when they do it at the start of a new year.

If you think your business has not performed really well, but you still want to give it a shot, the end of year financial review can clear the path for you by telling you if you can afford to give it another shot or not.

Bottom Line

There is definitely no restriction on when you want to make changes to your business plans and strategies. However, people find it natural and more motivating to set new goals, learn from past mistakes and make new moves when a new year starts. Throughout the year your main goal is to keep the ball rolling. However, it is at the end of the year that you have enough data collected from all your business operations and activities to know how fruitful your efforts were, which efforts you should consider in future and the expenses have been keeping you from progressing. In short, a financial review at the end of the year helps you make new and important decisions for your business.

7 Competent Tips To Optimize The Warehousing Services

Often a warehousing management company is lost in setting up a path in e-commerce and consolidating the profits but forgets about the efficiency of warehousing services. A mismanaged warehouse will lead to troubled shipments. A warehouse with effective ideology and plans will lead to fuller inventory, fewer damages, dispatches on time, and high returns.

Locating Products at Their Specific Location

Pre-define the location of the particular item or product to easily access them when required. This will help to save the time while processing the orders for clients. The tip is to group similar goods together, store heavy items at the back of the storage facility and keep the easily movable item at the front, place the old or not so frequently required inventory at the top of the shelves or racks and put the small items together in order to prevent them from being lost.

Quality Checks (QC) are Pivotal

Quality check or QC is uttermost important to make sure the products being delivered are not broken or contaminated. With this, it is easy to prevent the anomalies at an early stage and rectify it before the shipping process. To maintain the quality of the good, it is important to have quality inspectors or QC stations at the facility before transferring the goods to the packaging station.

Reachable Location of the Warehouse

Select a location for the warehouse where it is easy to reach the marketplace or from where the market can be targeted easily. If that is not possible, in that case, it is important to keep the reasonable amount of stock at the different retail outlets. The key is to hire or associate with people who can deal in timely delivery of the goods to the different outlets.

Select needed packaging

It is important to select only that packaging material which is required because having the other packaging options around the facility is a waste of time and space only. Determine or decide packaging options that are durable and sturdy for the goods in stock. The key is to ascertain the size of each and every stock and determine the exact requirement in advance. Do not buy the packing material for those goods which are not in season or are not ready to dispatch anytime soon.

Reasonable Staffing

Taking a note of peak period and identifying the level of staff required is a necessity. Planning the requirement of staff will help to reduce the surplus costs. Hiring or recruiting the staff in abundance will only lead to expenses and bulky costs.

Introspect Products Daily

Taking a minute out of the day to inspect or review the stock will help to understand which item can be easily dispatched or which one is the slowest. This will help to understand the requirements of the stocks for future.

Tracing Everyday Activity

For warehousing services, it is important to keep an eye on each and every activity taking place. Keeping the track of every activity taking place in the facility should be the concern of the businesses. This will help a warehousing management company to resolve the issues like under-stocking or overstocking in the facility.

3 Types of Financial Fraud In Business

Business fraud can have a monumental impact on an organization. There are many types of fraud that go by different names, such as financial statement fraud, bribery and corruption and asset misappropriation. It is often the case that fraud instigated by an employee will involve more than one type of fraud. Also, business fraud is not always easy to detect because it does not always show up in a company’s official accounts system. In general, the most typical way to detect this type of fraud is by receiving a tip from an employee, a customer, or an outside vendor.

Here is an overview of the different financial fraud in business:

Asset misappropriation

Asset misappropriation is the type of fraud that involves a member of staff who uses their position to take from their employers. This fraud is often committed by those trusted to manage the interests and assets of a company, which can include board members, employees or directors.

This type of fraud activity can include theft of company formulas, patents, or sensitive data, theft of credit notes or vouchers, inventory theft, theft of money or check forgery.

Any company that suffers from asset misappropriation will experience cash flow issues in some form. Plus, it can also have a negative impact on staff morale and the company’s reputation. It is believed that over 90% of business fraud is related to asset misappropriation which makes it by far the most common issue. On average, the lost from this type of fraud is in the region of $150,000 per case.

Bribery and corruption

Bribery and corruption is the next most common issue related to fraud in a business environment. Even though this type of fraud is less common than asset misappropriation, the average cost of a bribery scheme is significantly higher, and likely to exceed over half a million dollars per case.

The type of schemes involved in this area are quite broad and can include substitution of inferior goods, manipulation of contracts, bribes to influence decision-making, shell company schemes and kickbacks.

Financial statement fraud

Financial statement fraud takes place less frequently, but is almost certainly to be the most experience per case. On average, this type of fraud can lead to a company losing up to $2 million per case. This fraud involves an entity or individual falsifying earnings or income statements in an attempt to make a financial gain for them.

This type of fraud can include manipulating a company’s records in relation to more favorable loan terms, an improvement in year-end bonuses, or influencing the stock price.

Does Your Design for Your Trade Show Matter?

Visual aids go a long way with getting people interested in what you have to offer. You shouldn’t take on the trade show circuit without carefully planning your booth designs. This is a grand opportunity for you to appeal to the masses. After all, everyone going to that particular event has an interest in your types of products or services. Make it count that you are there!

You also have to remember you will be vying for their attention. What is going to get them to come see what you are all about rather than the booth across from you? Often, the booth designs prove to be a deciding factor. Especially for those who have limited time to spent at the event. They can’t see everything, so they decide what is a priority for them to look at.

Professional Services

Your booth designs need to go above and beyond just your business name and logo! You need to hire professional services to create something wonderful for you. Find out about the various services they offer and what they can do for your particular needs. They often have great examples to share with you too. This makes it easier for you to decide what you want to do.

They should be very helpful and not pushy when it comes to the booth designs. Most of the professional understand this is a big investment of time and money. You need the return on that investment from the trade shows to get you new customers who want to buy what you offer. Therefore, the impression people get has to be superior.

Materials

You will discover there are plenty of forms of materials used to create booth designs. You need something that is easy to work with. You also need something that will hold up very well. You may spend months out there going to the various trade shows. You can’t settle for materials that will easily get damaged.

You don’t want to spend hours at each event putting them up or taking them down either. Find materials that will be a breeze to set up. At the end of the trade show, you can store them well and get them to the next location without any risk. The provider should be able to tell you the pros and cons involved with each of the materials they have available.

Wise Investment

Don’t look at booth designs as another business-related expense. Instead, you should consider it a wise investment! This can be a way for your business to get noticed and to generate new sales. When you operate your business well, many of those new customers can become long term loyal customers too. It doesn’t matter if you plan to do a handful or trade shows or tons, make it count!

The overall quality, the return on the investment, and who you select to work with will all influence the overall value of these products. Take your time to get the groundwork done so you can move forward with confidence. It should be a smooth and hassle-free outcome when you have the right people working with you to make it happen!

It doesn’t hurt to take a look around to see what is out there. Most providers offer free consultations. This means you can find out what they can do for you without committing to anything. If you love the concepts and their reputation, then you can proceed to work out the details of the project with them. You need something you can proudly display for your business.

Choosing a Dust Control System

So, the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) has been knocking on your door about the dust emissions on the mine. Or perhaps the community has been complaining about pollution. Whatever your motivation – are you aware of what dust control entails? What is available on the market? What is regarded as “best practice”? What additional benefits can be offered? Who are the market leaders?

A scenario that presents itself too often is a request for quote (or better known as a RFQ) for the supply of a dust control unit for a mine. The RFQ would typically contain detailed specifications formulated by the engineering department and passed on to the supply chain managers that subsequently issued the RFQ to potential suppliers that has been identified by the commercial department. Nothing out of the ordinary there. Or is there? What really happened is that the engineering department had collaborated with the commercial department to come up with a scheme to waste funds.

Let me explain. What should have happened is for the engineering department to first recognise the fact that they are mining experts and not emission control experts. Therefore, it would make sense to consult with experts on the matter, and come up with a scope of supply that makes sense.

A logical starting point would be to speak to your neighbours. Remember that, when it comes to ground water and air contamination, your neighbour would want you to put in at least as much effort as he does. Because pinning down an environmental criminal is like trying to ‘pin the tail on the donkey’. Pollution created by your neighbour could settle on your front porch and make you look like the guilty one, and similarly, measures implemented by your neighbour could benefit you. If both you and your neighbour implement effective measures, the DMR will have to look elsewhere for a culprit. Another very important reason for looking at what your neighbour does to curb emissions, is to form an idea of what works and what doesn’t.

But there are a few simple considerations that should cross your mind before you decide on how to approach the decision making process for a dust control system:

1. Extraction or suppression

2. Chemical or water only

3. High or low pressure (fog or spray)

Extraction vs Suppression:

A dry filtering system (bag house) is an effective way to control dust emissions. Airborne dust is sucked up through ducting chutes above each transfer point. The dust is then collected via filtering of the air.

An alternative is to separate the air and dust via wet cyclone scrubbers. However, capital expense and maintenance cost often makes this option not viable in most cases:

1. High capital cost – multiple extraction points required.

2. Labour intensive and costly maintenance

3. Short lifespan

4. High energy cost

5. Waste product to deal with (collected fines)

6. No lasting (downstream) benefit

Suppression in general is a better option than extraction primarily due to the fact you would not have to deal with collected fines, and maintenance is not labour-intensive. An additional benefit is that you do not remove sellable material from the ore stream.

Even if you have had no previous experience with emission control technologies, you could implement an effective program to reduce airborne dust. The key is to speak to the right people and consider the following:

1. Does the potential supplier have reference sites

2. Can you visit the sites

3. Do they effectively reduce emissions

Once you have the answer to the above, your next set of questions should be (in order to select potential suppliers):

1. How many sites does the potential supplier have

2. Does he have experience with your material

3. Are the system maintenance friendly (cost effective)

4. If chemicals are used – are the chemicals safe for employees

5. Will the chemicals interfere with mining processes

6. Can they prove emission levels

7. Can they prove consumption figures

Benmarc has been the recognised leader in dust mitigation around the world for more than 35 years. South African <mines> reap great environmental benefits from the services provided by Benmarc and its dedicated team of expert dust control specialists.

6 Powerful Ideas for the Next Corporate Event

Events are all about fun, frolic and inspiration. For the smooth execution of any corporate event it is imperative that there is a powerful idea around which the occasion needs to be organised. Once you devise a doable plan you are almost done with half the responsibility.

So here are some of the statement ideas that can transform even a boring experience to a lively one without calling for a massive effort from your side.

    • Conversation Starters –a Making the guests committed to the program is not only great idea to get them involved on the outset, but it also plays a great role in breaking the ice. You can go for an interactive wall in the front lobby itself. The guests can open the door and then put down their dreams on the wall. This can turn out to be a thoughtful and interesting conversation starter.
  • An Exciting Entrance – An interesting entrance is capable of transforming the gusts right from the commencement of the affair. You can create a range of ideas for creating an immersive experience and depict the complete transformation of the venue right from the time the guests start entering the venue. You can arrange for a customised bed for covering the reception desk while the reception area was transformed with sleep signage of neon. The pyjama clad models greeted the guests while pillow fighting.

This helps in creating a surreal experience and getting the visitors excited about what awaited them inside. You can use the spherical shape which lends the feeling of continuity that is not limited to the walls. You can give it an amicable effect by combing a butterfly moon décor with lowered ceiling to amaze the attendees.

    • Customised Lounges – Lounges are a great way for the guests to encourage networking and be comfortable. Throughout the venue, you can organise different lounges to suit the ambience of the room and themes that they are part of. For instance, you can arrange for luxurious bed for suiting the luxurious themed contact.
    • Themed Uniforms for Staff – There is a proficient team behind every successful event for organising and arranging the affair from inside. The staff actually can wear a uniform that goes with the primary theme of the event. Like if it is about the launch of a dream project, the staff can wear pyjamas and shirts so that they stand out and can be recognised as hosts. You can arrange for uniforms for the team in each room.
    • Varied Activities for Participation – Participation of the guests is hard to achieve and yet it is absolutely necessary. And that is why you should organise activities that will appeal to the different types of attendees. Ensure that they get spoiled for choices with various options. You can opt for custom-built photo opportunities and rope in 3D effects for providing memories of the evening. There were also glam stations that offer hair braiding, henna tattoos and temporary lashes for eccentric preening. Apart from that, you can also opt for peep show rooms and arrange for a listening station in there and listen to music as they watch the risqué peepshow.
  • Entertainment that is Eccentric – If the budget permits you can opt for live entertainment with drummers, dancers, duelling DJs and stilt walkers. Apart from that, you can also add up specific form entertainment that accentuates the theme of the program so that the guests can totally relate to and can have the time of their lives apart from discussing vital points.

How Your Business Can Ensure Success in the Experience Economy

Way long ago in 1998–yes, that long ago–B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore published a piece in Harvard Business Review (link at the end of this article) that the experience economy had arrived. And, sure, in 20th Century terms, it had. As they explained in their article, the progression began with families buying items, such as Betty Crocker, because there was less kitchen time to prepare the ingredients for a child’s birthday cake. Then parents started going to the bakery store to pick up cakes for their kids and no longer making the cake at home. And, eventually in the late part of the 20th Century, with more work and other demands, families started to outsource the entire birthday to soup-to-nuts groups that did everything, such as Chuck E. Cheese and the Discovery Zone.

And now we’re in the 21st Century, and experience matters even more and companies are beginning to try out different technologies, for instance, virtual reality and augmented reality. Major corporations, such as Facebook and Apple, have made substantial investments into those technologies because the future is coming quickly and I wouldn’t be surprised if in 2018 we see some other global experience, such as Pokémon Go.

Smart marketers understand that creating an experience–with technology–is essential to being able to sell a product or service in today’s world. So, how do you do it?

Customer Experience Continuum

An essential activity to create an excellent customer experience program is not only to have excellent customer service but to go further and understand what your customer experience is from start to finish. From the moment a prospect sends you an email, places a call to your office or messages you in some way, what is the experience your company provides? Understand the entirety of the customer experience from the moment they initially reach out and to what happens after the purchase.

Words Matter for Customer Experience Principles

Once you understand the experience that occurs, and more importantly what you want to make sure your leads experience, you have to ask yourself (and your team) to help you develop principles that will guide the experience from start to finish. In this case, words matter. For example, are you looking for your clients to have “fun” while they partner with you? Are you looking for “excellence in communication”? Whatever the words are that matter to you, develop principles around them and ensure everyone on your team is onboard.

Data In and What Comes Out?

When you’re talking about data, your CRM is everything. You want to make sure your CRM captures everything that is essential to know about your leads and clients. If your team isn’t inputting every touchpoint with your customers, accurately, then you’re not going to be able to anticipate their needs. Part of the customer experience is to know what your prospects and partners are going to want, even before they want it. As an example, in one of my companies, our former partners get reminders at regular intervals about scheduling their next fundraiser with us.

Provide a Sensory Experience

Everyone is used to having many experiences throughout the day. If they’re scrolling social media, your leads and clients are being “marketed” to with live streams, videos or images. Corporations are moving toward providing people virtual experiences and with technology tools. Granted, we’re in the early stages of these types of moments, but it’s already started. If you want to buy a diamond ring, you can see the ring virtually on your hand by supplying a photo. You can also see how furniture will look in your home with apps and a VR headset. Think out of the box and discover creative ways to bring your products and services to market.

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

If you’re not using it already, consider looking into your Net Promoter Score, or NPS. This measuring tool goes beyond simple customer satisfaction. The index calculation, based on the responses of your customers regarding how likely they would be to recommend you to others, helps you understand and predict future revenue growth. The best type of sales you can make are those based on the recommendations of others, particularly if you can predict revenue growth.

Humans haven’t changed since the publication by Pine and Gilmore in the HBR article. The only thing that has changed significantly is how technology has transformed our lives and the world writ large. Humans, however, have always wanted the same thing in a product or service. Consumers want the experience they have with your business to match the expectations they had in their mind when they first inquired about your product or service.

Does Your Business Team Lie to You?

I was recently reminded of a story about Alan Mulally. One September in 2006, he walked into the offices of the legendary car manufacturer, Ford Motor Company, to assume the role of president and CEO. Before this point, he had been the chief that turned Boeing around from lackluster performance, and Ford was hoping he would deliver the same kind of magic to Ford.

At the time, Ford was on the brink of bankruptcy and things were grim for the American auto-maker. As he reflected in a subsequent interview, “In September ’06, when I arrived, the first forecast I saw for profitability was a $17 billion loss. And we achieved it.”*

Remarkably, the first meeting he had with his senior team produced a different picture for Mulally. During the meeting, Mulally patiently sat through presentations where senior company executives presented reports that looked great. Everyone, it seemed, was hitting their targets. He couldn’t believe it.

He then reminded them that they had wholly succeeded–at losing billions of dollars.

He then asked them to try again.

(Pause)

Finally, one executive spoke up and began to provide Mulally with the less than rosy picture, which happened to be the real and raw truth. The executive then asked for help.

What do you think happened next?

Do you think Mulally ripped into the executive?

On the contrary, he stood up and applauded the person who dared to tell him the truth.

The Most Valuable Player

As a CEO of multiple brands, I don’t want to hear from my team about how good we’re doing. Nothing is perfect, and I know it. I want to be challenged and want everyone on my team to do better, and the only way that happens is if all of us hear the truth. The most valuable player on my team is not the top salesperson, it’s the person who dares to bring ideas to the table where he or she sees room for improvement.

What Would You Have Done?

If you were faced with a turn-around situation of any kind and you walked into your first meeting as Mulally did years ago, what would you have done? The reality is that good management practice begins with the leader. Would you have done what Mulally did and publicly support the person that spoke up or would you have done something different, like shoot the messenger? Unfortunately, I’ve seen it happen too often. The best teams don’t only focus on what the leadership wants to hear; they trust in their leaders and the environment that allows them to speak about what’s not working so it can be improved.

Best Strategy to Make People Speak Up

Want to know what’s one of the best things you can do if you’re a manager and want your team to be frank and candid with you? Create the space and environment that fosters collaboration and discussion. That means that as a manager, you have to talk less and listen more. If someone brings you a challenge or an area in need of improvement, listen to what this person has to say. And, then ask questions.

Digging Deeper

I’ve been in sales for almost my entire life, and the best sales professionals and also leaders understand that listening is one of the best skills they can cultivate. However, along with being open to what your team has to say, you also want to dig deeper so you can gain a thorough understanding of an issue and perhaps even help develop strategic solutions. You can accomplish this by asking first, second and third level questions and you don’t have to know sales to get to the heart of the matter.

First, Second and Third Level Questions

When you’re presented with new information, get in the habit of asking questions and listen carefully to the responses. First level questions help you understand the situation and clarify the issue. They are top-line questions, that deal with what, when and how? Second level questions go a little deeper and are follow-up questions and primarily deal with why. These questions are asking for insight into why decisions were made. Finally, third level questions address emotion: fear of missing out or desiring reward. These questions are excellent to ask when you’re trying to understand the emotional barrier that has prevented a solution to a problem, such as a direct report that does not want to go around his manager when he has reported a problem, but the manager has not addressed it. A leader can uncover these emotions (and drivers for action and inaction) by saying things like, “If I were to look at this program for myself, do you think I’d see what you see?” Another one could be, “If you were given everything you needed to make sure the job got done, how would you do it and what would you need to get the job done?”

If you’re a manager, ask yourself if you’re the kind of leader who–had you been in Mulally’s place–shot the messenger when the person spoke up or if you would have listened so you can foster a business environment that supports transparency, accountability, trust, and teamwork. Get yourself in the habit of listening more and asking more in-depth questions, and it will go a long way toward helping you achieve excellent results.