Monday Mornings with Madison

Monthly Archives:
July 2013

The Power of a Winning Smile

It used to be that a salesperson or company employee could deal with a client for months or years by phone, mail and (most recently) by email and never know what they looked like or vice verse. The advent of social media, digital photography and video has changed all that. Most businessmen and professionals now have a profile on at least one social networking site (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, etc.). Such profiles often feature the person’s picture. Suddenly, a salesperson or employee is not just a faceless name and a headless voice. A picture makes the person ‘real’. Seeing an actual face establishes a deeper connection. And, arguably, the most important part of a person’s facial expression is the smile.

Ironically, if you Google the term “winning smile,” the top ranking results are for dental services. In the world of search engines, smile equals teeth. But in the world of business, a smile actually equals trust. A person’s look / expression can either inspire trust and confidence or conjure doubt and misgivings. A genuine smile (not to be confused with a grimace or fake smile) generally denotes pleasure, sociability, happiness and/or amusement. Smiling is something that is understood by everyone despite culture, race, or religion. Internationally known, cross-cultural studies have confirmed that smiling is a positive means of communication throughout the world. There is even evidence that smiling actually has a positive effect on business, sales and ultimately the bottom line. Continue reading

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Confidentiality in the Workplace

A merger. A game-changing deal. A new product launch. A major policy shift. New cutting-edge technology. An acquisition. A change in leadership. In today’s world of big business and even bigger transactions, confidentiality is of paramount importance. Yet, with today’s high tech, lightning-fast communication tools – such as social media, text messages, flash drives, email, cell phones, and the cloud – hot news can spread faster than a California forest fire. In small businesses, where employees feel more like family than coworkers, private information can spread rapidly through a company and beyond. In big businesses, employees may feel even more disconnected from their employer and ignore their fiduciary responsibility to safeguard company or client information. Indeed, it may even seem at times that the fastest way to disseminate information is to tell employees that information is confidential.
However, company employees are expected to treat all the information in the workplace with care and caution… not just hot news, but any and all information that is sensitive or privy. Every employee at an organization should be prudent enough not to disclose any information that the organization considers sensitive and confidential unless and until consulting with and getting permission from a supervisor. So how can a company ensure that the private information of its clients, vendors, employees and workplace remains just that: private? There are a number of strategies companies can implement that promote the values of privacy, discretion and confidentiality in the workplace. Continue reading

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To Get Satisfied Customers, Start By Controlling Expectations

No matter the business or industry and no matter if they are referred to as clients or customers, the key to their satisfaction often starts long before the product or service being provided is received. Customer satisfaction actually begins with expectations… and those expectations are often set by salespeople who are trying to make the sale. But if a customer’s expectations far exceed or outstrip the level and quality of the good or service to be provided, it is inevitable that the client will be disappointed or worse. If high expectations can result in disappointment, then the logical conclusion would be to lower customer expectations. The problem is that if a customer’s starts out with low expectations from a company, there is a good chance they won’t be patronizing that establishment much longer. What is a company to do?
The first step is to understand that clients can be demanding and will sometimes have expectations that are unreasonable. Unmet expectations, even if they are totally unreasonable, are a recipe for unhappy clients. Setting (finding the happy medium between overpromising and under-delivering) and controlling client expectations is one of the best things any professional can do whether an attorney, Realtor, mortgage lender, property owner, or accountant. etc. There are steps to ensure you have a happy and satisfied client at each stage and the conclusion of a matter. Continue reading

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The Best Time To Work: Early Birds, Night Owls and Intermediates

Virtually every organism on the planet — from bacteria to humans — has a circadian clock, a biological timing mechanism that oscillates with a period of about 24 hours and is coordinated with the cycle of day and night. And while it runs independent of external cues, it is influenced by sunlight, temperature and food availability. This internal ‘body clock’ guides the best time for many activities. The observation of this process in humans was mentioned in Chinese medical texts dating back to around the 13th century. Referred to as the circadian rhythm – from the Latin ‘circa’ meaning “around” and diem meaning ‘day’, this timekeeper guides activities of the body including the best times to eat and sleep.

Almost every function of the body oscillates during the day according to this clock. For example, body temperature is regulated in part by this internal clock. The body’s temperature is lowest around 5am, just before waking in the morning, and highest in the late afternoon. This may have some bearing on heart attacks, which are most common in the morning hours. There are indications that the circadian clock also helps to regulate metabolism. When altered or hindered, that biological clock can wreak havoc in the body. For example, people can experience fatigue and dizziness, known as jet lag, when crossing time zones. Others suffer from depression when living in places with minimal daylight/sunlight such as Alaska.

This internal clock seems to also impact a person’s chronotype; that is whether the individual is a morning person, a night dweller or somewhere in between. A person’s chronotype affects their productivity at work. How so? While a person’s chronotype may not seem like an important employment variable, it has a profound impact on every employee’s creativity, attitude, problem solving skills, and ability to socialize. And those variables have a direct impact on the bottom line of every business. It helps to understand how a person’s chronotype should fit with their work hours and demands.
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Managing Employee Requests for Time Off

Vacations are necessary for employees (and employers) to rejuvenate and recharge their batteries. For most, a summer vacation is a care-free time away from the non-stop grind of ‘work, work, work.’ But for business leaders and division or department managers, the summer means an influx of requests for time off. The same is true during holiday seasons such as Passover/Easter, High Holy Days, and Thanksgiving. While vacations and holidays may be a happy-go-lucky time for some, it increases the workload and stress level for others. Multiple requests for leave may arrive at the same time. Vacation requests may coincide with other requests for time off such as maternity leave, family reunions, jury duty, and/or sick leave for medical issues. Conflicts are inevitable. What is a boss to do?
Processing employee requests for vacations or leave needn’t be a nightmare. To minimize leave stress, the key is to set clear policies and plan well in advance. When followed, there are best practices which can help minimize problems with those taking leave and those who will cover for them while they’re gone. Some of these strategies may seem strict or even harsh but, in the long run, ensures the overall well-being of both the staff and company. Continue reading

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