Monday, May 31, 2010

Do you Play Positive Politics?

Have you have heard the expression positive politics? Yes, politics in the work environment can be positive!

By Marsha Egan

How many of you have heard the expression positive politics? This is the opposite negative politics and I believe you can see a shift in political positioning and behavior as your move to the higher levels in just about any organization.

As you go up the corporate ladder, or any organizational structural ladder, you’re going to find that the people who are higher to the top are rarely engaged in what I consider to be negative politicking. Negative politicking is where the overt “back stabbing” occurs. That’s where people drop hints about peoples’ shortcomings or mistakes. That’s where people corner others in meetings, without warning. People who are inexperienced in organizational dynamics have not yet learned the risk of tattle tailing, or talking someone down. They mistakenly believe that by knocking their competition down, they will rise. Oh, how untrue.

The people who rise have learned the skill of positive promotion. In other words, they don’t find things wrong with people any more. That’s what the people at the lower levels of the organizations do. Instead, they work at collaboration and doing positive things for others who are deserving.

What I’m talking about is positive politicking. You can recognize it when you see it. As an example, in a group a people who are working together, a valuable project comes available. And all of a sudden, one of those people is given the project by another person that they’ve worked with. This visible project is not only a reward for excellent prior work, it can be the result of collaborative relationships built with the leader of the group.

This is a reality in organizational America, whether it’s corporate or not. What we want to get ourselves in position to do is to award that kind of positive visibility to other people, and we will ultimately be a beneficiary of it as well.

We want to position ourselves to make positive opportunities available to people within our organizations. We want to do this regularly. We want to hand things off instead of keeping it selfishly for ourselves. These kinds things come back tenfold for people who do it.

This strategy is not only project based, it can be as simple as complimenting a job well done to senior executives. Sincere, unselfish and altruistic behaviors are noticed, and most times rewarded.

We rarely forget the time we were uncomfortably cornered and embarrassed in an organizational setting. It breeds a long term reluctance to help that person. The converse is true. I’m sure every one of you can think about a time when somebody did something positive for you and your career and how appreciative you were. And since that time, if that person asks you to do just about anything, you’ll do it for them. Well, this is the way positive politicking works. And this is how we can create our own luck within our organizational structures.

So, out with negative politicking, we don’t want to rat out people for things that they’ve done wrong. That behavior actually makes the “rat” look even worse than “victim.” That behavior happens with the people at the lower end of their organizations.

What we want to do is do positive things for other people. And this is the way that we can further the aims of the organization, and find some luck in it for ourselves. Because, most good deeds are returned.

Marsha Egan, CPCU, PCC is CEO of The Egan Group, Inc., a Reading, PA based professional coaching firm. She is a certified executive coach and professional speaker, specializing in leadership development and can be reached at or visit .

Monday, May 24, 2010

Embrace Personal Accountability Or Choose Failure

Recently Dan Stamp the CEO of Priority Management Systems sent out an article titled," Ten Most Common Causes of Failure. " Number one on the list was, blaming other people for problems rather than accepting personal accountability.

By Ted Gulas

Twenty years in the professional development business can confirm that this blame game is indeed the road to failure. Here is a list of a few of the areas that lack of personal accountability, “blame game” creates failure in the workplace: sales development, time management, communication, emotional intelligence, project management, team work, goal setting, personnel recruiting, and change management.

Let’s explore three related areas where the” blame game” creates havoc for growing revenues. These areas are sales development, goal setting and time management. A typical sales person needs to grow revenues by maintaining existing accounts and adding new accounts to their portfolio. As a New Year begins some sales people realize just how time consuming it is just to maintain their existing accounts. They begin to rationalize that they can get no assistance from the corporation in the way of resources. This perceived lack of resources creates a feeling there is no need or no real sense of urgency to set meaningful goals for the New Year. In addition the last time they set some meaningful goals they did not happen, so why set themselves up for the guilt and failure.

The thinking is why should I break my back to prospect, I can just get the increases in sales from existing accounts so there is no need to face rejection and ask for new business. In fact if the company would provide me some training on prospecting and closing plus the staff to delegate too I could spend more time prospecting. The conclusion then is because they will not help me I now can blame them on my lack of success in opening new accounts in the New Year. This typical salesperson has just embraced complacency and failure for the next year.

Here are some reasons why complacency set in. Number one the sales person did not challenge their comfort zone by creating a dream to motivate them in a way to overcome any barriers to sales production. From that dream create a goals setting event with a action items, dates ,rewards and deadlines. Despite the lack of resources this sales person could use creativity and innovation to discover ways to leverage the existing staff with delegation and collaboration skills.

Pointing fingers and blaming the company will not lead to any new development skills in and around prospecting, delegation and time management. What if this sales person invested in themselves? For instance most banks now pays 1 to 2% return on your money. If the sales person would take some of their own savings savings and invested it in themselves to learn how time management could provide an additional hour a day of productive time. During that additional twenty hours a month the sales person could prospect for new business and set a goal to open ten new accounts per month for a total of 120 new accounts annually. Assuming the sales person receives a 20% commission an average sale of $5000 per account that is total revenue of $50,000 times twelve months for total revenue of $600,000 times 20% or $120,000 on this initial investment. By sulking and blaming the company for not providing the resources and not investing in you this sales person lost $120,000 Most of us would classify that as choosing failure.

What could you do in this New Year that is fast approaching to invest in yourself?

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Not Getting The Business

Imagine you have just completed the best sales presentation you could possibly give. Your prospect is very happy with what you've told them and they are happy with the price. It's pretty much a done deal but for some reason you don't ask for the Business.

By Steve King

I don’t really know the reason that would make sales people go through a whole sales presentation, getting to know their prospect, the prospects’ needs, matching the needs of the prospect to the product or service they are selling and then not asking for the business.

I don’t believe it.

Well I am in total agreement with you, it should never happen - but you will be very surprised to hear that this happens all of the time and sometimes from very experienced sales people. To be perfectly honest, I don’t really know the reason that would make sales people go through a whole sales presentation, getting to know their prospect, the prospects’ needs, matching the needs of the prospect to the product or service they are selling and then not asking for the business.

Some Sales People get themselves all worked up when they know they have to try to close a sale. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s the best reason I can offer. Closing is a feared word in sales for some Salespeople but it really doesn’t need to be. If you always follow a proven sales process it’s not a problem because when you get to the end of it, it should be the one thing that you do automatically.

At the end of your presentation, it’s really easy to ask you prospect a straight forward question 'would they like to go ahead?'

If you have followed your sales process properly, you will have already dealt with any objections or reasons not to buy, so there should be no problem in getting a positive response. You’re not going to convert every sales pitch that you make but by asking for the business you will increase your chances.

You may have heard the phrase - by not asking you may not get - this is very true in sales. always make sure you ask for the business, especially if you have taken the time to do a full sales presentation - or you’ll find that you have just wasted your time snd your prospects.

Always ask for the business, even if you think you’re not going to get it -you may well surprise yourself. There have been many occassions that I have got the business by asking for it, even though I had inwardly thought that there was no sale to be made. So always, always ask for the business.

Looking for a new career? Get into Sales and let Steve King help you become a success. . You can find out more from Steve at his blog

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Secret To Motivation: Recognition!

Recognition and appreciation are not "once and done" events. Learn tips to create a recognition culture both at work and at home. You'll be surprised at the positive results!

By Marsha Egan

If you’d like to have energized and motivated employees or members, people who love what they are doing, and a thriving organization, then ask yourself how much of a recognition culture you have in your organization.

Recognition and appreciation are not “once and done” events. To build a recognition culture in your organization, you need to do it regularly and often. And not only you. If you have a recognition culture in your organization, people at all levels of the organization regularly thank and appreciate others for notable deeds.

And the difference between culture and procedure is huge. It is a procedure to have a performance bonus program; it is a culture to have people regularly high fiving each other, sending emails, and appreciating people publicly in meetings over even the smallest accomplishments.

Most people in business or volunteer organizations agree that they would benefit from a recognition culture. Recognition is one of the easiest, least expensive ways to motivate and energize volunteers and employees. Actually, it is mostly free! Why then, can so few boast this attribute? It might be because showing recognition is an “important but not urgent” action—the crises of the day can get in the way of someone taking a moment to appreciate an accomplishment. It might be because the people in charge believe that their employees are well paid, and that is all the motivation they need. It might be just because they forget.

I like to challenge my executive coaching clients to make recognition a habit. The more you do it, the more comfortable you will feel doing it. And the more recognition you infuse into the organization, the more positive motivation and energy you can generate within the organization. It ultimately circles back, and can actually energize YOU!

Here are some ideas you can use:

- Set a brief time each day to reflect on who accomplished a noteworthy deed. By doing this, you can “force yourself” to get in the habit of recognizing people. I like to do this at the end of my day.

- Send an email or leave a handwritten note for the person who deserves the “attagal” or “attaguy.” - Start your meetings with sincere appreciation for even the smallest accomplishments.

- Compliment people mentioning specific results in front of others.

- Publish a “hats off” column in your newsletter; encourage everyone in the organization to contribute

- Tell a person’s boss what a great job he or she did. Compliment your superior for a task well done. - Celebrate the completion of big projects.

Oh, and this works at home, too. When was the last time you thanked or appreciated your spouse or children for doing a difficult task?

If you remind yourself regularly to actively appreciate the behavior you want to see repeated, you’ll change your habits and embrace recognition and appreciation in your daily routine. And it IS contagious. The more you recognize and appreciate behavior you want to see repeated, the greater chance that it will be repeated. Recognition cultures are energized, proactive cultures. In this day and age, we need to move forward quickly. And recognition can supply the energy for that effort. It all goes to the bottom line, doesn’t it?

Marsha Egan, CPCU, PCC is CEO of The Egan Group, Inc., a Reading, PA based professional coaching firm. She is a certified executive coach and professional speaker, specializing in leadership development and can be reached at or visit .

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Making The Most Of Your Down Business Cycle

Learn how to build an accurate income forecast for your business while creatively taking advantage of your slower months.

By Leah Grant

When I first started coaching my mentor coach warned me that August and December tended to be slow months while January, April and September were the busiest months in terms of clients seeking coaches. Armed with this information, I was able to build a realistic income forecast for my business as well as plan personal downtime.

Planning around my business cycles is one key way I have been able to stay in business for 12 years.

Unfortunately, too many people believe that the amount they make one month will translate to all months and then they’re in trouble when that’s not the case. I have seen it too many times. A business owner will have a big party and overspend after having a great month then they are short when a lean month comes along.

Most businesses have an annual cycle and it’s imperative to know what that cycle is for your business.

Determining The Cycle

If you have been in business for a year or more, go back in your records and chart the amount of business each month. Is it steady? Are some months much higher while others much lower? Use this information to define your business cycle.

If you are just starting out, do some informational interviews with other people in your industry. Ask what the busiest times of the year are and what the slowest are. Ask what affects people’s decisions in buying.

It’s important to make the distinction that the business cycle I’m speaking of in this article is not dictated by the economy but rather by the buying habits of your clients and the seasonality of your market. Slow periods created by a down economy require additional measures be taken to generate business.

Making The Most Of Your Business Cycle

Once you determine your business cycle, brainstorm ways to leverage or minimize the slow times. Here are some ideas:

* Do side work - For example, I teach classes at a virtual university. During slow client months I keep my calendar full by teaching more classes and replace the client cash flow with teaching cash flow. This minimizes the impact of client’s taking vacations and breaks that month.

I would recommend that the side work either relates to your main business, compliment your main business or feed a passion in you. The point is to stay engaged, not to start something completely new and different.

* Catch-up. Although it’s great to think we get everything done we need and would like to, the reality is we often don’t. Make a list of unfinished projects such as scanning business cards, calling old contacts, updating addresses, hiring a new CPA and plan to knock out the list during a slow month.

* Create. Design new products, set-up partnerships or create a marketing campaign that will roll out following the slow cycle.

* Plan. It seems easier to take time to think, plan and strategize when there are fewer day-to-day activities happening.

* Update systems. When fewer people are using the systems you have in place it’s easier to transition to newer, better ones. Some systems to review: credit card processing, database, newsletter provider and communications among your team.

* Schedule doctor’s appointments. I book all my annual doctor’s appointments during my slow months. Doing so keeps appointments from conflicting with my client call schedules and gives me more wriggle room around the appointment so I don’t feel rushed to get back to the office.

* Connect. Meeting friends for coffee or taking the time to have lunch with your spouse can be a luxury during a busy month, so plan some outings when you can.

* Rejuvenate. Slow months can be the perfect time for you to get away because fewer clients will miss you. I take two to three weeks off in December to spend quality time with my family in Colorado. I find that during this time I can turn off my computer completely and enjoy really quality downtime to refresh my creative juices.

To offset the weeks without work, I offer clients the opportunity to pay upfront for the following year’s sessions if they need more tax write-offs in the current year. Typically, two to three clients take advantage of this offer that helps to keep my December income balanced with other months.

No matter how you choose to use the extra time during slower months, make sure you do use it efficiently. Time is a commodity for small business owners.

(c) 2009 Leah Grant Enterprises LLC.

New Business Mentor Leah Grant publishes Startup Success, a weekly enewsletter. If you're thinking about starting a new business or are in the early phases of entrepreneurship get your FREE New Business Startup Kit including the Secrets of Successful Business Owners audio.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Taking Small Steps Will Get You There

Inch by inch, life's a cinch. Yard by yard, it is real hard.

By Jeannette Samanen PhD

Are you procrastinating, overwhelmed by the size of an important task you need to complete? When faced with a big job, think small.

It’s easy to become paralyzed when the job you need to do seems too big to handle. In those situations it is helpful to remember the salami image. There’s no way in the world you can stuff an entire salami in your mouth, but you can polish it off easily one slice at a time. The thinner the slices, the easier it is to do.

It’s crucial to break any big job into doable steps. When faced with a daunting task, first identify the steps necessary to reach your goal. The smaller the steps, the easier they are to accomplish. Once you get moving by taking baby steps, you develop momentum. That momentum will help you move forward, enjoying the task as you go.

The operative word here is “doable.” Most people stymie themselves with unrealistic demands. Unwilling to be satisfied with small steps, they end up doing nothing. It is important to delight in any progress you make while working toward a goal, no matter how small that progress may seem.

A client came to me recently seeking help to finish his doctoral dissertation. He needed a Ph.D. in order to get the job he wanted and he couldn’t get his Ph.D. until his dissertation was complete. He had been working on the dissertation for over a year. By the time he came to see me he had done no work on it at all for several months and was completely stuck.

My client and I identified fifteen small steps that would enable him to move forward. We determined that he could reasonably expect to complete the first two of those steps by our next session.

“I could not be happy with that,” he protested. “I would feel like I hadn’t done enough if THAT were all I accomplished! I’d need to get at least five of those steps done to feel satisfied.”

Of course, accomplishing just one of those steps would be an improvement over the inertia he’d been experiencing for months. However, even three of the steps we had identified would have been too much to realistically accomplish in one week, let alone five of them. Overwhelmed with so much, my client would have fallen back into his old pattern of doing nothing.

How often are you like my client? Unable to live up to unrealistic expectations, do you end up doing nothing at all?

If there is an important project that you are stuck on, ask yourself, “Am I insisting on too much from myself?” If your expectations are unrealistic, you may thwart your own progress.

Examine whatever daunting task you are facing. Break it down into the smallest possible steps. Set realistic goals related to accomplishing those steps. By giving yourself permission to take baby steps, you’ll begin moving in the right direction. Your progress will encourage you to keep going. In this way you will eventually achieve your goal.

In fact, my client felt great after completing the two small steps he set out to do that first week. Getting at least something done was a definite improvement over the inactivity of the previous months. The following week he accomplished the next small segment. It wasn’t long before he was rolling ahead toward completing his dissertation.

If you allow yourself to be satisfied with baby steps, you, too, will achieve your goals and make your good life better.

Drawing on skills and expertise developed over 30 years experience, Philadelphia life coach Jeannette Samanen PhD provides effective life coaching, empowering you to achieve your goals. You will receive her free article "5 Easy Steps to Access Your Inner Wisdom" when you subscribe to her "Make Your Good Life Better" newsletter at

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Five Secrets To Exercising Authority

If you are in a position of leadership at your company, then you need to know how to inspire, train, motivate and lead people - all at the same time! By following these five secrets to exercising authority, you'll learn how to this starting today!

By Mike Brooks
Copyright (c) 2010 Mr. Inside Sales

If you are a sales manager or business owner, then you probably know and understand that fine line between being a leader and exercising authority, and trying to fit in as part of the team and wanting people to like you.

Managers struggle with this all the time, and many would be leaders lose their ability to successfully direct their teams because they are afraid of exercising this authority for fear of alienating other team members.

The problem is that most managers and other figures of authority - Directors, V.P.’s, and Business Owners—have never been taught how to properly exercise authority and command respect as leaders.

If you find yourself in this position, follow this proven, 5-step method for exercising authority. It will not only get results, but it will establish, or re-establish, your role as leader of your sales team or department.

1) Make sure your instructions are clear. Having ambiguous goals, or methods of achieving them, automatically undermines your authority and dooms many projects from the beginning. Rule #1 - be clear on the goal and the instructions on how to accomplish it. After you have delivered them, ask your team if they have any questions about what is required, so problems can be cleared up from the beginning.

2) Encourage people to approach you if they run into problems. Establishing open communication and feedback early on is crucial to avoid big disappointments later. Helping team members resolve problems as they arise ensures quick resolution, continued progress, and good morale.

3) Take action quickly when you learn of any real problems. Failing to act quickly once you learn of a problem, or putting it off for days or weeks, not only undermines your authority, but also kills morale and confidence. Problems tend to get bigger the longer they go unresolved, and your job as a leader is to solve problems not avoid them.

4) Insist your team report all the news—good and bad. So many companies treat bad news like the plague. Sales teams are taught to “always be positive,” but an attitude of “always be accurate and let’s find a way to succeed,” is more productive (and realistic). In meetings and one-on-ones, your goal should be to motivate as well as problem solve. Always encourage your team to report all the news.

5) Use crises as an opportunity to develop people. You are a leader for a reason! Rather than shy away from a crisis (a big deal lost, unexpected bad news, major delay in delivery, etc.), teach your team members how to find opportunity in crises and how to grow as professionals and as people. Focus on the skills or attitudes that are needed to overcome the situation, and work with them to develop and strengthen them.

This 5-step method to exercising authority is powerful and will establish you as a leader and as the “Go To” person in your company. And isn’t that why you are in a position of authority to begin with? Redefine your position of leadership by using and expanding on the 5 secrets above, and involve and build your team while you lead them to greater heights.

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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Shaping Your Team

Whether you are a team of one or hundreds of thousands, your team has a certain shape all its own. Do you have control over how it grows? The answer is yes. However, the key to a successful team lies not in the control, but in the willingness to let the team take on its own shape without your strict direction.

By Karen Kay
Copyright (c) 2007 Karen Kay

Every team has its own shape, no matter how larger or small. Where do you fit in the team mold as the leader? Does it grow with or without your help? It can, if you don’t try to hard to control the shape of the team. Leading without control is the key to your success as a team builder.

Think of each member as contributing him or herself as a bit of raw clay. As our team starts to meld into a unit, we may tend to try to force members to follow our own ideas as to how the group should proceed. The very terms “upline”, “downline”, “sidelines” etc. can damage our self-determination as leaders to our team.

If everyone on my team becomes a leader, then I am at the absolute pinnacle of my game. How can I do that if I try to dictate everything they do? I have found that effective leadership is more in listening, and less in telling.

While one member may be making solid contributions to the shape of the team, another may simply slip through making barely a nick in the surface i.e. the whole concept flows through them with no real substance. Yet another may be that diamond in the rough. The thing is, in order for clay to mold into an attractive vessel, each of these characteristics need to be present. This keeps your team from becoming dry, or too stale, or without shape at all.

Letting yourself be open to your team is what helps the team form its vessel. This is a delicate balance between hard and soft. Raw clay is sensitive, bendable, yet strong enough to hold together.

Some “hardness”, is necessary. Confidence and a thick skin can keep a leader strong. Not allowing the team to form itself however can leave it cracked and brittle.

There is no right and wrong when helping your team to find its shape. This progression is continual. As your team vessel grows, it makes changes that may surprise you in new, even simplistic ways, because you allow members to contribute the best of themselves.

Ask your members to emulate, not imitate, what you and other leaders within the group do…. To invigorate them with your own way of bringing out their best. Be the best “you” you can be, and allow them to find the strength in their own being to get to the best contribution for the good of the team, ultimately, the betterment of themselves.

For more information on team building, please visit Karen's website at . There you be able to sign up for her newsletter and visit her team site for more information on team building and leadership. Posts are welcome at the lifeteambuilders forum at

Monday, May 3, 2010

Networking Strategies For Busy Business Owners

The average business owners realize that they need to network, but they don't know how to get started. After learning a couple quick tips, it is easy to jump out there and get noticed!

By Cori Chaffee

Networking is perhaps the single-most important thing you can do for the success of your business. Most people understand that they need to ‘network’, but the idea confuses them. They aren’t sure exactly how to go about it. So, let’s take a look at the concept!

To get started, you will need to narrow down your target customer. You cannot effectively market to everyone and you can’t effectively network with everyone, either. Decide who your target market is, then determine where you best reach them. For instance, if you are a hair stylist with a small salon in your home, your target customer will most likely be women. (Yes, I know, you are fully qualified to cut men and children’s hair, too. But think about it… if you can get the woman of the house to come in to your shop, it is likely that she will bring her children and husband, too! ). So, you would focus on capturing the attention of women. Consider these questions: Where do women go, what do they do, what do they like? The answers will tell you where to market.

Next, after determining your target client, you need to establish your networks. The average person, given a choice, will go with the person that he/she knows and trusts. This means, you’ve got to put yourself in the position where he/she knows and trusts you! Get involved! Join the networks and civic clubs that your target client will be in. If you are a hair stylist with women as your clients, google women’s associations in your area. Contact your Chamber of Commerce. You will want to be a member, of course, but they also might have great ideas on effective networks for you to operate in.

The next step is to really be involved in these groups. It is not enough to simply be a member and be listed in their directories. This is the most common mistake that people make. They feel it is sufficient to simply be listed in directories. Um, no. There is no way that people can get to know you by reading your name on a list! The goal here is to become known and trusted, remember? The ONLY way to do this, is to become personally involved. You have to put yourself in front of people.

Consider everyone that comes into contact with you as a potential client or an acquaintance of a potential client. Why? Because you never know when someone will refer you to someone else who needs your services. Position yourself so that YOU are the person who jumps into their mind when someone else asks them “Do you know anyone who _____?” This is why you should treat everyone as a potential client.

Another thing you can do is to set up networks with people in complimentary businesses. For instance, if you are hair stylist, set up networks with people like florists. Agree to refer people back and forth. Why a florist, you ask? Because florists and hair stylists are both necessary for weddings. You have to always think outside of the box, and consider every angle of your marketing strategy. I realize that many people don’t like to speak in public. Not many people truly enjoy it, but the fact is, it is a necessary part of life, particularly when you own a business. Contact your local associations (the ones that you have already targeted), in addition to libraries and industry associations and get scheduled to speak at their meetings. You need for people to see you, learn about your business and see firsthand what type of person you are.

Write articles, just as I am doing now. Don’t focus on writing specifically about your industry and the services that you provide, but write helpful articles about issues that your potential clients face. Showcase your expertise by offering helpful solutions for these issues. If you are a hairstylist, write articles about how to avoid split-ends and the most becoming hair styles for different face shapes. Submit your articles to online publications, along with not only your name but your company’s website. The goal is to direct traffic to you and your services.

If your industry has trade shows, participate. Also participate in trade shows for complementary fields. For instance, hair stylists would want to participate in bridal expos. Don’t sit in your booth and play with your iPhone (although that is quite entertaining). Instead, speak to as many people as you can. Develop short relationships with people so that they remember who you are when they look at your card in the future.

As you can see, the only way to successfully network is to do it personally, do it often and never stop doing it. You are a business owner until you decide to close your business. Therefore, you will always be a marketer. Think like one! The importance of networking is proven in the business world. Dive in and make yourself known. It is the only way you will truly become successful.

Cori Chaffee is a female entrepreneur who owns a full-service virtual assistant company. The Perfect Admin, LLC offers a full-range of administrative services, from writing articles, editing and proof-reading to more complex marketing plans. Cori holds a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration. To learn more, visit her at