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Archive: Oct 2019

9 tips for dealing with difficult people at work

Posted: October 31, 2019 3:42 pm
It’s impossible to go through life without coming across challenging people. In the workplace, which can be competitive and stressful, people are often not at their best and can be difficult to deal with. If you find yourself in a situation with someone who isn’t behaving well there are a number of different strategies you can use to cope.
  1. Focus on empathy. It’s difficult to do if someone is really pushing your buttons but being empathetic is actually a powerful response. It enables you to understand why someone is behaving as they are and what their triggers might be, which will also make it easier to find a positive solution for you both.
  2. Talk to other people. Whether it’s the same person you’re struggling with, or someone similar, it’s likely that your friends, family and colleagues will also have experience of difficult people at work. Talking, sharing and asking for advice can be effective ways to help you cope.
  3. Be respectful. No matter how much someone else aggravates you, staying respectful will always help in terms of your responses. If you become disrespectful then the situation can only escalate, leaving both sides without a way back to a positive place.
  4. Don’t be triggered. Staying calm and in control will not only reflect well on you in terms of the way you’re handling the situation but will also make it easier for a resolution to be found.
  5. Try to communicate better. Often, issues arise between two people because intentions are being misunderstood. Start by clearly communicating what you’re trying to achieve and where you’re coming from so that there is no confusion in terms of what is being said and done. Understanding can create empathy on both sides and pave the way for a solution.
  6. Connect in person. Whether it’s the individual you’ve been struggling with, or other colleagues in general, it’s important to spend time connecting face-to-face. If you only ever communicate by email or messaging it’s easy for the personal touch to get lost.
  7. What action steps will resolve the situation? If emotions are running high and things have become personal, sometimes it can help to focus purely on practicalities and what needs to be done in terms of action.
  8. Rise above it. If you’ve tried all of the above and someone is still being difficult then it might be worth taking a step back and not responding. This can give the other person time to cool off and consider what they want from the situation, especially if they’ve been lashing out.
  9. Ask for help. Unfortunately, some professional situations do get out of hand and you may not be able to diffuse a conflict on your own. An immediate superior or manager should be able to step in and help to find ways to resolve the situation.
It’s never easy dealing with difficult people at work. However, there are lots of different options when it comes to the strategies that you choose to use to cope. Find out more by signing up to our Dealing with Difficult People training course.

7 ways to get to know your customer

Posted: October 17, 2019 9:19 am
How much do you know your customers? Basic information from purchase history doesn’t really tell you much about them, and around 80% of brands have insufficient data about their customers to allow them to create effective and targeted marketing campaigns, to increase repeat custom, as well as a wider audience. Since building customer relationships is essential to growing your market share in any industry, the more you can improve your customer data and how you utilise this, then faster your growth and more effective your marketing will be. So how can you get to know your customer better?
  1. Use all the data you can

The only way to really get to know your customer is to use all of the data that is available to you. You should access as much behavioural data and web analytics as possible. Free tools like Google Analytics are designed to give insight into the customer journey, as well as a breakdown of channels and conversions. If you have other tools you can use, make sure you’re using these to build the bigger picture when it comes to your customers.
  1. Think big!

Your attitude to your business can limit what you can achieve, so it’s important for small businesses to think bigger. Although the data they analyse may be smaller-scale and using less sophisticated tools, the process is just as valuable. Take advantage of these processes and as your business scales, your processes will already be in place to make the most of your customer data.
  1. Go social

Social media is often overlooked by marketers, with 7/10 choosing to ignore it for business marketing completely. If you can refine your social strategy, social media can be a great way to connect with new customers, and keep your brand visible to existing customers. This can encourage repeat purchases over time, and keep your brand fresh in the minds of customers.
  1. Extend the customer lifecycle

  Every customer will have a unique customer lifecycle, based on factors including their past experience of your brand, and the level of relationship built so far. If you can increase this lifecycle, you can increase your customer value, increase future purchases or add additional services you provide to that customer. If you can stay in touch and connect at the points they are ready to purchase, then you’ll have almost guaranteed sales.  
  1. Customer triggers

Identifying triggers can be helpful to see which customers are most likely to become repeat customers. Doing this will allow you to determine where to focus your marketing efforts and budget more carefully and strategically.
  1. Realise it’s about more than just a purchase

Past-purchase behaviour is something that many marketers will be familiar with and know how to utilise fairly well, but this can still be built upon. It is helpful to drill down into which channels are working effectively to direct purchases. Along with household composition and propensity scores, this information can prove invaluable in terms of targeting your future marketing in a cost-effective and strategic way.
  1. Always review

What’s worked in the past may not be what’s working now or in the future. Keep reviewing your methods and results and ensure you’re looking at your data in the most effective ways to really get to know your customer, rather than just getting stuck in what used to work. Find out more by booking your place on our Know Your Customer course.

How to communicate effectively with your colleagues

Posted: October 10, 2019 9:16 am
Effective communication is the key to success in a professional environment. It not only helps to establish healthy working relationships but can also have a positive impact on productivity and give everyone the chance to reach their potential. But it’s not just about other people – if you’re able to communicate effectively with your colleagues you’re likely to have a better day-to-day experience in the workplace and be able rise faster through the ranks too.

Focus on face-to-face conversations

It’s easy for misunderstandings to arise if you’re only communicating via email or messaging so make time for face-to-face interaction. This kind of communication also builds credibility and trust and will give you more opportunity to understand someone based on non-verbal cues, as well as what they’re actually saying. It’s particularly important in a situation where there is conflict or disagreement.

Give constructive feedback

Especially if you’re in a managerial role being able to give constructive feedback will be crucial to the progress of others. Criticism, blame and shaming don’t work in this context – use positive reinforcement and focus on solutions and next steps.

Be a good listener

If you’re only listening so that you can find a gap in the conversation to speak then you’re not communicating effectively. Listening is an art – when someone is speaking listen fully, turn your body towards them, don’t interrupt, don’t pick up your phone half way through. Ask questions and make sure you’ve completely understood what’s been said to you.

Understand the value of being concise

Complex, lengthy explanations and instructions can be confusing, frustrating and ineffective. Whether you’re communicating verbally or in writing, keep it concise and direct.

Learn how to build trust

It’s always much easier to ensure effective communication if the person you’re communicating with already trusts you. This is something you can build over time through consistent behaviour, acting with integrity and ensuring that your communications are always transparent, short and easy to understand.

Establish some affinity

Getting to know people in the workplace can make it easier to communicate more effectively. For example, spending time together outside work or discussing shared interests may create an affinity that encourages better interactions. It’s important to remember that there is a personal and professional line that shouldn’t be crossed as this may make the other person uncomfortable.

Be observant about communication preferences

Some people will respond quickly to an email but may take hours to respond to a text. Others will be more receptive to a message via social media. It’s often worth looking at the communication preferences your colleagues have and speaking to them via the channels that they prefer if you want to ensure your communication is effective.

Focus on relevance

Communication is at its most effective when you can identify straight away why it is relevant to the person you’re reaching out to. How does it fit with their wants and needs and what are the benefits of engaging and responding for them? Effective communication is a crucial part of getting ahead in the workplace – without it, career progression can be tough.

Top 10 powerful tips for project management success

Posted: October 3, 2019 9:23 am
Project management is a complex and rewarding role that can present many challenges. Although there is no single formula for success there are some powerful ways to help ensure you get the best results.
  1. Get full perspective on the project. Who are the stakeholders and clients and what interests and expectations are being brought to the table by the different people involved?
  2. Outline what the project needs. Identifying, and planning for, the resources that the project needs is an essential part of the process of ensuring that it is a success. This will also, necessarily, involve defining roles for those involved in the project and looking at who should be responsible for what.
  3. The importance of the right project manager. Finding the right person to manage a project can be the difference between success and failure. A good project manager understands the various personalities within the team and how to work with each one to bring out their best abilities and qualities. They will avoid micromanagement in favour of allowing the team to be self motivated but provide support as and when required.
  4. Define the project milestones. It’s these milestones that provide structure in terms of how the project progresses. They could be as simple as: set up, planning, action and follow up. Evaluating progress after each one will ensure that the project stays on track.
  5. Use available technology. A range of project management tools exist today to make it easier to reduce miscommunication, improve efficiency and guarantee success.
  6. Balancing the strengths and weaknesses within the team. We are all different and have different abilities – project management success depends on being able to optimise the strengths of the individuals within the team as opposed to being held back by their weaknesses.
  7. Lay the groundwork for openness. Communication is key to project management success – everyone involved must have the information that they need to move forward and to know that they can reach out to share, ask questions or consult at any time.
  8. Risk management is essential. Where could this project go wrong? It’s key to identify the potential problems that could arise before they do and to implement potential mitigation steps.
  9. Test at every milestone. If you plan to test deliverables at every milestone that you’ve defined for the project you can ensure that the project is working out as planned. If you don’t do this then it won’t be possible to establish whether the project is on target, failing or exceeding expectations.
  10. How did you do? Looking back over a project after it has finished is an effective way to improve and ensure that next time around you don’t make the same mistakes. Every project is unique but can provide a valuable learning experience for the next.
Project management success requires dedication and hard work – these tips can help you to ensure that you’re on the right track with your approach. Our Project Management training course designed specifically for those who are required to undertake projects as part, or all, of their job role.