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Monthly Archives: November 2011

“You Get One Strike With Your Employees” Lying is Lying

“You Get One Strike With Your Employees” Lying is Lying

PAETEC, a Rochester based company recently was sold to Windstream and on the day of the shareholder’s vote, the CEO Arunas Chesonis was set to be the guest speaker at a leadership breakfast entitled “My Top 5 Biggest Blunders and Top 5 Genius Moves in Building a Fortune 1000 Company.” My very dear friend and reporter, Leah George, was there and captured this very intense and real quote:

You get one strike with your employees and once you break that trust, you never get it back,” said Chesonis.

How true this statement really is, yet I am curious as to how many managers, owners and executives really understand this to be fact? I am typically writing from the point of view of a manager/decision maker acting as their advocate, but with this, I have to fall to the other side (at least partially). Too many times in business I have witnessed business owners and executives who work so very hard to be transparent, yet when pushed into a corner, like many of us in our daily lives, falter. So when we falter as executives and managers how do we remain true and honest with our employees?

Here are three things I know to be true:

  1. Telling a half truth is just like telling a lie
  2. Keeping your mouth shut is just like telling a lie
  3. Lying is Lying
Ok, so we got that covered.  How do we protect the companies future, trade secrets, current happenings etc… while keeping the trust with the team?
  1. Rumors happen no matter what
  2. There is no reason to tell all of what is going on
  3. Share what you can and explain in plain English that changes are happening and you are working with your advisors to make the best possible decision for the entire team
  4. Remind them that the entire team includes you, your family and those who have been with you since the beginning
  5. Be comfortable with, “I know there is a feeling of uncertainty, know that I am making every effort … weigh all options… make this decision, etc…. but that is all I can say on the issue right now” when asked a direct question
Address the feelings both in private but then in public, especially if you or your office has received the same or similar question more than once. Ignore something does not make it go away. You are continuing to maintain the office or work place as a “safe” place and there aren’t many safe places left. See things from their side, so many companies are downsizing, off shoring, or closing that every closed door meeting means that someone is getting fired in the eyes of your employees.
There is no doubt that employees feel that they have more of a right to know about what is occurring behind closed doors than they may have 20 years ago, blame Enron (or try). The issue is so much of the personal and professional culture of a business is transparent at some level and finding that balance is extremely important. If there is something big brewing, people can tell so address what you can immediately. Once you break an employees trust, even through the treatment of a fellow employee, you have lost respect from that person and they will begin to second guess your decision making capabilities as an owner or executive.
Any award winning or successful owner/manager will tell you that the key to their success is their people. Even if you don’t see complete value in each of your employees every single day, that is ok. It is kind of like being in a marriage, as my soon to be mother in law says, one of you is always going to love the other more!
In the next few weeks I am really looking forward to writing about another great quote Chesonis had: He told group he has learned you can never fire people too fast and that decisions shouldn’t be dictated by arrogance or greed.
Image credit to Time Magazine 1994

Social Media and Your Company, WHAT PLAN? Don’t People Buy From Me Just b/c I am on Twitter?

Social Media and Your Company, WHAT PLAN? Don’t People Buy From Me Just b/c I am on Twitter?

Chris Brogan wrote a great article on Social Media, “After the Kumbaya” questioning business owners, markets, tweeters, etc… on what their real plan is and how they are measuring results as it relates to SM. I couldn’t agree more but the problem is, most companies have a difficult enough time defining target market segments let alone defining, designing and most important MEASURING their marketing plan. It is kind of like joining an association or business group but not being active, just because you are a member doesn’t mean people know you exist.

Many “experienced” SME’s believe that this is OLD news and that there are bigger things to take on, which may be the case with large companies but I still see Facebook company pages with no interaction with their fans or minimal activity at all and blogs that post once or twice a month, the list goes on and on. What are you trying to accomplish through SM?

  • Increase brand recognition
  • Define your brand
  • Introduce new changes
  • Reach a niche market
  • Launch a new product
  • Find and recruit talent
  • Have a presence just because your competitors do???? Ok this one doesn’t work

Some companies do an incredible job, Anvil Knitwear for instance has a great Facebook page and it is apparent that they are trying to showcase their sustainability/green efforts and work with US farmers. They also have a lot of posts targeting communities and college/university age students. Pictures galore and activity on a regular basis.

What are they measuring? I am not sure? How are the measuring? I didn’t ask… yes that is step 2, we have to measure how well things are working!

Just like the days of newspaper ads, coupons/coupon codes and referrals we need to know where our customers heard about us. Having someone dedicated to SM is costing you money, even if it is you so you have to be consistent and track the dollars spent, even if it is payroll dollars. There are companies you can hire or software you can use that will track these things for you. I have not researched enough in this area to make recommendations, but I am sure they are available.

In the field of recruiting and employment branding, you cannot use your twitter or FB page just to talk about the jobs you are recruiting for… BORING! You will only be reaching a small group (those connected with you). You have to be engaging, exciting, interesting, add value and be inviting. WOW, yes, you have to be all of those things and consistently.

In B2C environments the demand is the same as above or you just another mouth shouting out, buy from me because I am no twitter… It doesn’t work! Start my mimicking your advertising plan, even if it is one you used a year ago. This way you aren’t trying to do too much at once, and you will also see vast improvement on your new tactics which will motivate you for future marketing efforts.

B2B is still similar and in each environment let me add something more, you need to be the expert and you need to add VALUE… yes big boring overused word that is never really defined. What is value as an expert? Well it varies from market to market, but you need to provide something to your followers, customers, prospects that they would have to research to find on their own. It should be something of relevance to your audience and you should be solving a problem or at least acting as a resource.

In summary, SM is no quick fix! Chris Brogan said it best, “You Can’t Eat A Hug”

Best Kept Secret on Closing a Deal: Getting People to Like You

I was doing some of my daily reading and came across a great post by Guy Kawasaki on Increasing Your Likeability and I thought to myself, well, I like people to like me so how can I get them to like me more?

In his infograph there is a great tidbit on how Zappos has a turnover rate that is over 9% lower than the national average which I hope to get to addressing in a future post because what I really want to focus on is this, “the best negotiators spend 40% of their time finding shared interests with the other party.”


This is a very large number and to me makes perfect sense when I look at how I personally choose to build relationships and what my relationships look like with those I partner with whether as a vendor or customer. This is also the reason why so much business gets done on the golf course, well, maybe not but we now have data to take to our SVP or CFO as to why that expense really does have an ROI.

When you have shared interests with someone it is easier to relate to them, right? I don’t want you to run out and create a survey to send to your customers and prospects of their hobbies, I am sure they will see right through you.

How to create and understand shared interests? Much of this is sales 101:

  1. Ask open ended questions about events happening in your community such as a play, sports team or musical acts that are in town currently to see if there are shared interests.
  2. Are you involved in a Charity: Review their LinkedIn page for Board seats they hold especially involving charities is their an opportunity to share fundraising ideas?
  3. Open up and be personal: Talk about what you did over the weekend and open yourself up personally first but please use caution in the timing of this. You are not looking for a new best friend with someone you have just met, that makes everyone uncomfortable. “I was thinking of taking my family to the community theatre to see Peter Pan, have you been or heard any reviews” sounds much nicer than “I have 2 extra tickets to Peter Pan would you like to join my family and I.” Especially early on.
  4. Be sincere and genuine! No one wants to be sold to, ESPECIALLY when it comes to personal interests. If you see that they have a signed jersey from a team you despise, don’t fake it. If you find out that they love opera and you are clueless, don’t say that you love the opera, let them know that this is something you know nothing about and you are curious as to how they gained exposure to it.
  5. Write it down! The worst thing you could ever do is have a personal interchange with someone and then mix them up with someone else a few months down the road re: their favorite hobby or sports team.
  6. Know what you are good at but don’t flaunt it. If you are an expert on local restaurants, where the best deals are, specialty beers, etc… Share your knowledge but don’t be pushy. If you become a resource to your potential customer they will be reaching out to you sooner than you know, even if it is on the best red wine!
Here is the infograph from Guy Kawasaki’s post, isn’t it fabulous!

Enchantment - Increase Likability

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