How to build strong people management skills

Poor people management skills create an unstable work environment, which then lowers and hinders productivity. Effective managers need to always wear incredible people management skills on their sleeves. It is imperative and suitably required when leading people from the front.

Handy Tips That Help Build Strong People Management Skills

Build lasting relationships

In order to manage employees well, you have to build strong, long-lasting relationships with them based on communication, respect and trust because managing is all about people. Forget being their friend. Earn their respect and trust instead. That is what better people management skills entail. Being their friend can entirely jeopardise the efficiency of work. Just be approachable and open. That is what effective and great leadership is all about.

Be accountable

If you cannot, as a manager, hold yourself accountable, then you have poor managerial skills. Good people management skills dictate that you desist from deflecting fault to other department heads or upper managers for bad behaviour or performance failures. As a manager, you must also never be too quick to hold employees accountable. It is detrimental. If there is anyone to be held liable is you. You are the manager; therefore, the buck stops with you.

Listen

Listening is part of good people management skills. You must be ready to listen to the legitimate concerns of your employees. Not their venting. There is a difference. Listening to their legitimate concerns, however, is easier. Acting on those concerns is what will make you an effective manager. You have to listen and do something about it. Great managers are not even supposed to wait for their employees. They address issues before they become grave problems.

Be transparent

To maintain your respect among your employees, be transparent. It is very deceptive for you to be hiding crucial information from your employees. Not only can it cost you their trust, it can also cost you their respect. Conversely, being overly transparent does not necessarily mean leaking out sensitive business information. It means keeping them informed, aware on what is currently going on. That is what better people management skills necessitate.

Support career development

The welfare of the employees is the manager’s responsibility. In other words, you have to appropriately develop the career of your outstanding employees. Prepare their future advancement. Outstanding employees need to be promoted. They are hard to find and even harder to replace. Great managers, with great people management skills, must, therefore, support career development of such valuable employees.

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Avoiding a Grievance in the Workplace

As sure as day will turn into night, there will be colleagues who you just will not get on with at work. They may be direct colleagues within your team, or perhaps within other departments who you need to work with from time to time. They could be your boss, or they could even be your direct reports.

Nearly all disciplinary actions occur when both parties have gone beyond the point of no return, and both will have some blame attributed to them by HR when formal action occurs. Its best for your stress and general happiness, as well as for the good of business, to take on board the following advice.

Consider How the Other Person Feels

It’s very easy for us to simply think about how we feel, but have you thought about how your actions and behaviours make the other party feel? Think about your tone of language (verbal and written), your body actions, whether you make small talk by the water cooler, how you react to their comments and so forth. Conflict is always two-sided, so by adjusting your behaviour you could defuse everything.

Make Friends

Ok, you may not become best buddies, But you are working together for the good of the business, so you’ll need to be adult enough to create a positive working relationship. Make the effort to engage in some non-work related conversation, identify how you can help them do their job better, and start to build bridges.

Document Everything

And I mean everything. Save the email correspondence which will support your side of the story. Document notes – I’ve used a word document saved at home – to describe every incident which I felt was uncomfortable, aggressive, indicative of poor performance and/or behaviour. Make sure to be subjective though – you’ll need evidence rather than just hearsay if the time comes when you need to share the evidence.

Discuss the Problem

A problem shared is a problem halved. Once, when I had a troublesome report, I discussed it with my line manager who told me there’d been numerous problems with the employee and then I knew it wasn’t just me – and crucially I was able to build support internally. If the problem is your boss, you’ll need to talk to their boss or HR, both of which should be done confidentially. If the problem is with your report, you’ll need support from those above and you may need to go down the road of performance management – it won’t be pretty though. Regardless, make sure to bring clear evidence and ensure you do not sound like its a personal vendetta.

Avoid conflict at all times

The worse thing you can do at anytime is create conflict – it is to be avoided at all costs. The multitude of sins you can be charged with for merely uttering the wrong word is as long as your arm and you can be sure to find yourself in front of HR if you become the aggressor, despite what may have gone on. Best piece of advice – don’t rise to the bait. Walk away, save your email response for later, arrange a time to meet and discuss when you’ve both calmed down.

Consider A New Job

Last resort, but if you’re in the wrong, or the situation isn’t going to improve, it maybe time to update that CV.

Remember, going formal is a last resort and the end game may not go the way you want it to. Be prepared to try and make amends as often as possible – and if you can turn this around, make sure to use this as an example of working with difficult people in your next review or interview.

Re-writing example: Automobile SUV for dealership

I re-wrote this text

The all-new 2014 Jeep Cherokee completely redefines the mid-size SUV segment, delivering legendary Jeep 4×4 capability, a segment-first nine-speed automatic transmission, fuel economy improvements of more than 45 percent (versus the outgoing Libertymodel), superior on-road ride and handling, a cutting-edge, revolutionary design, world-class craftsmanship, class-exclusive technology and more than 70 advanced safety and security features. The Jeep Cherokee is set to delight consumers both on the road and on the trail. The 2014 Jeep Cherokee provides a choice of three innovative 4×4 systems for best-in-class 4×4 capability in all weather conditions. The Jeep Cherokee is the first mid-size SUV to feature rear-axle disconnect, resulting in reduced energy loss when 4×4 capability isn’t needed, improving fuel efficiency. The rear-axle disconnect seamlessly switches between two- and four-wheel drive for full-time torque management.

into the following to drive leads and enquiries for a small dealership.

The all-new 2014 Jeep Cherokee has completely redefined the mid-size SUV market with its three innovative 4×4 systems, delivering best-in-class 4×4 capability in ALL weather conditions, delighting consumers both on the road and trail.

As the first mid-size SUV to feature rear-axle disconnect, the Cherokee will reduce energy loss when 4×4 capability isn’t needed with over 45% improved fuel economy versus the Liberty model. The rear-axle disconnect will seamlessly switch between two- and four-wheel drive for full-time torque management.

The revolutionary design, world-class craftsmanship, class-exclusive technology and over 70 advanced safety and security features are complimented by a segment-first nine-speed automatic transmission, superior on-road ride and handling delivering legendary Jeep 4×4 capability.

How to set up and run effective email marketing campaigns

Email marketing is consistently the most effective marketing channel to drive leads. It’s ability to drive traffic back to websites is crucial to maintaining customer relationships, nurturing prospects and growing revenues.

For any non-marketer out there, perhaps a small-to-medium business owner, here are some effective tips to ensure you run effective marketing campaigns which drive revenue.

Data

First of all data is the most important aspect here. If you send the wrong message to the wrong data set you will lose money, time will be spent replying to enquiries and your brand will be affected. This should not be taken lightly.

However, if you mine your database creatively and efficiently you can easily drive customer interactions.

Customers and Prospects

One of the best ways to segment your marketing message is to separate your customers and prospects into two different email campaigns.

For example, with your current customers you can run any of the following promotions:

  • Upsell to higher price points
  • Loyalty discounts & special offers
  • Reminders for customers to buy products which they maybe running out of

For example, MyProtein run some great email campaigns. I regularly receive emails 20-30 days after my last purchase asking me if I’m running low on protein powder. MyProtein knows the date of my last purchase, the type of product I buy and how long, according to their estimates, it should take before I’ve consumed the product. Even with a simple Excel database this is a relatively simple campaign to run.

Brands which use their customers to refer a friend and receive discounted products or services see their databases significantly grow week on week (Uber and Dropbox are two good examples).

Once your customers have purchased a product, send them a message thanking them for their custom and ask them to complete a survey or register their feedback. This is great data for you to a) ensure you keep on delivering excellent customer service and b) collect testimonials and reviews you can promote across your website, social media and yes email marketing campaigns.

Now for prospects you need to work them harder to turn into customers. You can try special offers, limited time purchases, reminders etc. You will see lower response rates, but in time the more you market to them with special messages the more likely they are to buy from you.

Tailored messages

Depending upon how you have constructed your database you will be able to run more targeted campaigns. For example, if your database records product interests in say kitchens, you could run a dedicated special promotion on kitchen units you’re trying to sell.

Personalisation is another great way to drive open rates. Email marketing systems allow you to enter a recipients First Name into the subject line e.g. “Bob, limited time offer on kitchen units” or “Karen, have you tried our new brownies”. Personalisation in the subject line often increases open rates by around 5-10%.

It’s also worth considering how to engage with recipients who have opened or clicked on your email. I have run follow-up campaigns to opens and clicks 2 days after the email with a message “Can we discuss further?” or “When is a good time to speak”. This works better in a B2B environment as your sales team can plan warm calls to prospects and customers alike.

Finally, consider who the “From” name will be. Is it your company name? Do you want to use an individual, such as the CEO, account manager, marketer or office secretary? It depends on how you want to promote your brand but again think about how the email will look to someone receiving it – are they more likely to open an email from a brand or person they know than someone they don’t know?

Templates and When to Send

I’ll try to cover this very quickly.

Email templates should reflect your company branding. A consistent look and feel across all channels demonstrates a serious company. However, that can be a costly exercise for small businesses.

Most decent email marketing systems have in-built templates which you can easily adapt. Mailchimp is a good example.

However you can also send plain text emails from email systems. They work just as well as HTML branded templates.

And when to send really depends on your audience. There isn’t a specific science to it, although if you’re in B2B its sensible to avoid weekends and after 5pm on weekdays, but a good, well written email will always generate responses.

Call to Action

All emails should have one call to action. Yes, just one. Don’t confuse the reader with lots of actions.

Decide what you want the email to achieve and then construct the text accordingly. If you want to sell products, great. Just make sure each product is linked back to their respective entry on the website.

If you want to generate callbacks or downloads, again just keep it simple and construct the message accordingly.

Integrated Promotions

Email is great to push out integrated promotions and campaign activity. Here are some examples:

  • Social media – drive more likes and followers to Twitter/Facebook/Instagram etc
  • New blog post
  • Market research – invite users to complete surveys
  • Invite to networking event, webinar, podcast etc

Think creatively about how you can use your email marketing channel to drive brand awareness and deliver leads.

Measure, Test, Improve

Finally, always record key statistics such as open rates, click through rates, leads collected and web traffic. This will help you test new ideas, improve messages and have confidence your email marketing channel is working for you.

How do you communicate with your friends and family?

I’m interested to know just how the art of communication has changed in the 21st Century.

Tell us in the poll below how you normally, e.g. your preferred choice, communicate with your friends and family.

A summer marketing campaign that doubles leads and generates increased sales

Summer is apparently the season where B2B sales slow down. I beg to differ.

During the summer our marketing campaigns have managed to generate double the number of sales enquiries and our sales team brought in more revenue than the previous period a year ago.

How come? Well, marketing (and sales for that matter) isn’t rocket science, but instead about executing well thought out, integrated campaigns with a consistent message and call to action.

Let’s remember, particularly in the UK, decision makers still only take a week or two off each summer.

Our campaign consisted of:

  • A brand new sales brochure
  • Regular email newsletters
  • A PR campaign
  • Trade press adverts

All of which had a consistent creative message, design and call to action. A key point to note that even if we couldn’t secure the business in July or August, mainly due to people being away, budgets not yet set etc etc we’ve built a healthy pipeline which the sales teams can close leads during September and October.

During the first week of September we conducted a direct mail which I felt would be the perfect culmination to a 8 week marketing campaign. This has been so successful our sales pipeline looks very healthy and our sales leads have almost exceeded the same level as for the entire month of the previous September.

In this day and age when business is far harder to secure, and with healthy competition, its vital marketing departments find innovative ways to deliver sales leads throughout the year.

The Premier League Brand is Alive and Kicking in Asia

There used to be a time when clubs preparing for the new season would play their local non-league (or lower football league) teams during the first few matches of pre-season. The top clubs would attract arguably the highest crowd of the season for the smaller teams, providing much needed cash windfall and the top clubs got the chance to build fitness against weaker teams.

But then a light bulb went off in the boardroom. What if they could still play weaker opposition at the start of pre-season, but actually make money from the games, extending their fan base into new markets? And what if it also benefited their sponsors? The pre-season tour to emerging football markets was born.

The Barclays Asia Trophy is held every 2 years in Asia featuring 3 EPL clubs and one local club. First launched in 2003 in Malaysia, the competition represents a lucrative opportunity for clubs to engage more directly with their Asian fanbase. And Scudamore commented recently they have plans to take the tournament globally.

We’ve already covered the global reach of the EPL and in particular the huge popularity in Asia. It’s perhaps no surprise that Chelsea, the inaugural winners of the trophy in 2003, have made repeated visits to the region after their initial visit to packed stadiums, launching versions of their official website into Indonesian and Thai. Indeed, their recent game against the Singha All Stars in Bangkok the players’ names and numbers on the back of their shirts were written in Thai.

A great insight into the thinking behind this trophy, and indeed many of the tours to the Asian region, are neatly summed up in this quote by Richard Scudamore, Chief Executive of the Premier League.

What’s been noticeable is how the young fans, between 15 and 25, think of the Barclays Asia Trophy as their Premier League. They see these matches as the real deal. The intensity of the matches is matched by the intensity of the fans and that will be fascinating to see again.”

I would bet good money that about 15 – 20 years ago, as the TV deals were taking off into unprecedented waters, the powers that be got together and started to investigate future growth markets. The long term strategy to create a product which is exciting, popular, brings together the world’s best players and a rich history, shown during Saturday evening peak-time viewing, has captivated an untapped audience hungry to consume world-class support.

I challenge anyone who doesn’t believe me about the strength of support to Youtube some highlights from either this competition, or other pre-season games featuring Liverpool, Chelsea, Man Utd, Arsenal etc. Packed stadiums, mobbed greetings at airports, fans lining (or running smack into a lamppost) on the streets etc etc etc.

So despite playing on muddy pitches, games reduced to 40 minutes a side, sub-standard opposition, drinks breaks during games, players getting injured, losing 4kg through sweat and flying half way around the world just weeks before a new season, the brand still goes from strength to strength.

Brand? Sorry, I meant brands. The clubs own brand, their sponsors, Barclays, the EPL, associated sponsors, tour sponsors….

One has to wonder if they ever thought it would be this good when the EPL was formed in 1992.