Why Your Company’s Team Building Weekends Failed – And How to Make Them Successful!

Somewhere out there right now there is a group of office staff strapping on some sketchy safety gear and preparing to climb some random cliff together.  Somewhere else out there there is a group of office staff engaged in a retreat designed to foster some sense of teamwork.  Then there is another group locked in a room focused on a collaboration to build a robot out of some ghetto supplies.  What do they all have in common you ask?

The common theme here is team building, and it has come to describe a way of doing business that considers the strengths and weaknesses of each member of a work-related team. The basic premise of team building weekends is to bring a group of team members together and, by exposing them to various hardships, events, or activities, cement them into a team that is well-equipped to work together toward a common objective.

The only issues with team building weekends is that they usually aren’t effective. Once the team returns to the office, they fall back into old habits, leaving that fun team building activity nothing but a fond memory. The gap is not with the concept of team building, but in the assumption that it can be achieved within a weekend, no matter what those few days entail. It’s not that team building weekends are a bad idea – it’s that they’re expected to do a job that should be undertaken in your office every day.

The purpose of a team building event should be to introduce, reinforce and reward, not to single-handedly forge a group of coworkers into a team. If it’s used to replace the work your company (or you as a manager) should be doing every day, then you’re missing out on some important points – and the benefits of dragging everyone away from their loved ones for a weekend of team building activities.

So how do you forge the bonds of a team if not by dipping them into the crucible of a team building weekend? The answer is simple: you can’t just talk the talk – you have to walk the walk. If you want to instill your staff with the principles of teamwork and collaboration, then treat them as a team, with you as an important member of it.

Effective communication is essential to building a team.

One of the biggest mistakes that management teams make is the failure to communicate. Your company doesn’t have to be an open book to all employees, but sharing goals and intentions gives employees a sense that they are a part of a larger team working toward the common goal.

Build teamwork into the workflow.

Again, to reinforce teamwork, your team members need to be treated as a group. Initiate each project with a team meeting to define and/or redefine project goals. Design your office in a way to facilitate teamwork by creating a central area where team members are comfortable grabbing coffee or other beverages during the day. This presents  moments for your team members to catch up with each other and exchange insights. Facilitate regular team meetings where individuals can report progress, delays, and micro, daily objectives so that no one feels left out of the loop. (Take a look at the SCRUM method)

Make recognition of achievement a priority.

Recognizing achievement can play a critical role in helping your team members feel part of a team. This activity doesn’t need to be formal.  In fact, informal and unexpected recognition at spontaneous opportunities can be powerful. Leveraging micro moments such as mentioning positive client feedback in the hallway or over a cup of coffee, passing on praise for individual work performance improvements, or recognizing a job well done on an important proposal are all opportune moments for achievement recognition.

Make time to play as a team, too.

Whether the play is a softball team, a bowling league or a semi-annual weekend where the team members can really stretch their wings, teams work best when they have something in common besides their work. A trek up a mountainside builds shared memories that help cement the bonds that have formed throughout the year.

These are all effective ways to build camaraderie and teamwork within your organization. Often times, these changes may be part of a larger culture change for your company.

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Dealing With Employee Conflict at Work

Conflict is a natural part of working in groups and teams.  But not a fun one at all.  As a leader, it’s your job to provide guidance to a diverse group of people with different skills, motivations, and you guessed it…personalities, toward a common goal.  Except it is not their workflow you end up managing, it’s also their emotions!

Dealing with conflicts between employees is a stumbling block that trips up managers of all levels and experience every day.

Furthermore, it’s only one of the many situations where intellect and technical expertise aren’t going to do you much if any good.

Enter Emotional Intelligence (also known as IQ’s counterpart, EQ), a key skill-set that’s increasingly being recognized as the main ingredient in successful leaders. Similar to how IQ represents the measure of a person’s intelligence, EQ gauges the understanding of one’s own emotions, as well as those of the people around them.

EQ breaks down into five domains: Self-Awareness, Self-Regulation, Motivation, Empathy, and Social Skills. Each of them helps you in different, critical ways to deal with people, relationships and situations in your role as a manager.

Here is my promise:  They can all be learned – I swear!

My goal today is to get you started on the path to building or improving your level of emotional intelligence with a specific focus on its use in conflict resolution. We’ll go over some useful strategies and approaches that should set you up to deal with conflict on your team in a meaningful and long-lasting way.

12 Tips To Dealing With Conflict At Work

  1. Improve your social skills
  2. Don’t avoid conflict, and don’t expect to eliminate it entirely
  3. Set clear expectations, define acceptable behavior
  4. Evaluate if the conflict is “Hot or Cold”, then act accordingly
  5. Learn to spot the 3 styles of conflict
  6. Focus on the problem, not the people
  7. Encourage active listening
  8. Change the scenery
  9. Get the whole team involved
  10. Get commitment for realistic change
  11. Shake things up
  12. Partner with HR

Improve Your Social Skills, Improve Your Conflict Management Skills

The five domains of emotional intelligence cover a lot of ground. To make sure you get the most out of our content, we’ll look at them individually and narrow down the focus of each to target scenarios our community most commonly asks for advice on. Near the very top of that list: conflict resolution in the workplace – specifically between two team members.

5 domains of emotional intelligence and their description: Social Skills, Motivation, Self-Awareness, Empathy, and Self-Regulation

According to Daniel Goleman who (literally) wrote the book (A great read if you want to get the book) on emotional intelligence, when it comes to conflict resolution, managers with strong Social Skills will always have an edge.

Considering two hallmarks of Goleman’s Social Skills domain are the ability to influence people, and the ability to find common ground with almost anyone, it’s little surprise that managers who are strong in these areas also make for strong mediators.

Below we’ll dive into some of the most effective ways a manager can deal with conflict on their team. It should be noted that the sharper your Social Skills and overall EQ, the more easily you’ll be able to put these techniques into practice.

If you’re looking to develop those Social Skills and become a conflict manager by building on what you learn in this post, contact us today for a free 1 on 1 consultation.

How To Minimize Conflict On Your Team

The key word here is “minimize”. In fact, that brings us to our Golden Rule of Conflict Management – one of the most universal pieces of advice you’ll find on the subject, and also the simplest.

GOLDEN RULE: Don’t avoid conflict! And don’t expect to eliminate it entirely from your team, either.

Any reputable source will tell you, like breathing, conflict is just a part of life. Not every member of your team is always going to get along and it’s crucial you accept this. Sometimes problems simply need to surface before we can move past them. For that reason, it’s best to frame conflict as an opportunity– for the employees involved in it, for your team as a whole, and also for yourself.

Proactively addressing conflict head-on, gives your team the chance to prove to themselves – and each other – that they can overcome differences while strengthening themselves as a unit at the same time. As their manager, you gain experience in the wonderfully uncomfortable process of identifying, understanding, and resolving conflict. And that’ll make it just a little bit easier the next time. And the time after that.

With that out of the way, here are a few things you can do to minimize conflict before it starts, while laying the groundwork for easier resolution later.

Set Clear Expectations, Define Acceptable Behavior

Whether you’re trying to hit the “reset” button with your existing team or inheriting a new one and looking to start on right foot, it’s never a bad idea to lay down some pre-existing ground rules to help define acceptable and unacceptable behavior.

While it may seem obvious, explicitly stating that behaviors such as yelling, rudeness, bullying, shunning, etc. are simply unacceptable and will not be tolerated, may help an employee think twice before getting carried away. The more you can influence your team to identify with a culture of respect, the easier it will be for them to productively iron out their own wrinkles.

Forbes suggests that the majority of conflict in the workplace stems from two main issues – poor communication, and poor control of one’s emotions. An employee’s emotions are obviously beyond your control, but how your team communicates isn’t, so start there:

“If you reflect back upon conflicts you have encountered over the years, you quickly recognize many of them resulted from a lack of information, poor information, no information, or misinformation.”

To avoid the same pitfalls, make effective communication easier from the start by laying down a clear framework. Establish a foundation of respect by crystalizing the roles of every team member for the group. Underline the value they each bring to the table in achieving your mutual goal, and make your personal respect for every role clear.

Outlining expectations, swim lanes, chain of command, and laying out clear procedures for how to flag and address conflict early can often help nip problems in the bud before they can escalate.

It’s also on you as manager to keep your eyes peeled for potential conflict areas, so you can step in as soon as there’s smoke. Catching and dealing with these moments quickly, and in a fair and diplomatic way has a big effect on preventing certain conflicts all together, while reducing the severity of the ones that do crop up.

3 Questions To Help Understand And Resolve Any Conflict

Acknowledging that a conflict is taking place on your team is one thing. Understanding who the participants are and the root of the conflict itself is another thing all together.

There are a million different reasons an argument might take place. While you’ll probably never know all the details, it’s still your job to get the lay of the land so you can decide how to deal with each situation.

Start by trying to better understand the conflict by asking yourself these three questions:

Is The Conflict Hot Or Cold?

The Harvard Business Review categorizes conflict you’d likely encounter in the workplace under two banners:

Cold Conflict: Very little outward emotion here. Think cold shoulders, little-to-no dialogue, closed-off body language, muttering under the breath, and lots of passive aggressive behavior. Hot Conflict: Hot conflict is no longer “under the radar”. Think volatile language, shouting, appearing out of control, and possibly even physical aggression or threats.

As HBR states, once you’ve identified the type of conflict your dealing with, it’s the manager’s role to step in, take control of the thermostat, and find the sweet-spot:

“Conflicts that are warm – that is, already open for discussion but not inflamed with intense hostility – are far more likely to be productive. So, if you’re dealing with cold conflict, you need the skills to ‘warm it up’. If you’re dealing with hot conflict, you need the skills to ‘cool it down’.”

Cooling Down a Hot Conflict

Bringing two people together who are embroiled in a heated conflict can be dicey. If the conflict is too hot at the time, don’t be afraid to let things cool down a little before attempting to resolve it.

Once things have cooled, try setting clear and concise ground rules that each participant must agree on ahead of time. These can include everything from setting three-minute time limits on each person’s speaking-turns, or getting them to come to the table each with a suggestion already in mind on a mutually beneficial way to move forward.

You can also put those Social Skills to the test and try to defuse some of the aggression by finding the common ground between participants. Open with a question about how stress at work has personally affected each of them over the past month to humanize their situations, get them relating, and on the same page.

Warming Up a Cold Conflict

While it’s usually easier to bring these two parties together, the focus once you do will be on starting a constructive dialogue between them in which they both participate.

The goal here is to get them talking as you lead the conversation. It’s also worth noting that cold conflicts typically involve a lot of repressed emotions. As the conflict warms and those emotions start surfacing, you’ll want to keep an eye on the temperature to make sure it doesn’t overheat as feelings begin pouring out.

What Are The Conflict Styles Of The Employees Involved?

While conflicts can be seen as hot or cold, so too can an individual’s approach to conflict. The ways in which a conflict – and its resolution – play out have a lot to do with whether the people involved are conflict avoiders, or conflict seekers.

As a manager, it’s your job to observe and know your team so you can more easily generate a game-plan if conflict arises. Understanding whether the stakeholders are avoiders (uncomfortable butting heads with coworkers) or seekers (willing or eager to engage in disagreements) can give you a window into how the conflict might play out, and the different strategies you can employ to help solve it.

The Harvard Business Review offers some great insights in their breakdown of avoider/seeker combinations and how to approach each one.

Conflict combination of two avoiders

Problem:

  • No one addresses the issue
  • Suppressed feelings that explode later

Solution:

  • You’ll need to take the lead
  • Take a sensitive approach to the situation
  • Don’t let them shy away from the problem

Conflict combination of an avoider and a seeker

Problem:

  • No one holds back
  • Discussion can get heated quickly
  • Each could feel disrespected

Solution:

  • Suggest they both prepare for the conversation
  • Be ready to take breaks if things get heated
  • Shift to a neutral setting – getting a coffee / taking a walk

Conflict combination of an avoider and a seeker

Problem:

  • The Seeker may bulldoze the Avoider
  • The Avoider may respond with a passive aggressive approach
  • The Avoider may agree too easily with what the Seeker wants

Solution:

  • Ask the Avoider to be honest, participate, and not hide their opinions
  • Explain to the Seeker in advance that you expect a calm demeanor and tone during the conversation
  • Encourage the Avoider to be direct and to the point
  • Encourage the Seeker to be patient should the pace of the conversation slow.

How Can I Focus On The Problem, Not The People?

Once you have a clearer idea of the temperature of the conflict and the conflict styles of the people involved, it’s time to shift your focus toward understanding the problem.

There’s a good chance that the incident you’ve just walked into the middle of isn’t even representative of the real conflict. In fact, the source of the real conflict might be something that occurred over a month back, but left unresolved was allowed to fester as bickering continued, got more personal, and stress levels rose.

So, before you assume the conflict you’re dealing with is actually about a team member ‘typing and breathing too loudly’, ask questions like, “When do you think the problem between you two first started?” and work to reveal the root of the issue, so you can best resolve it.

6 Surprisingly Effective Conflict Management Strategies

Now that you have a better idea how to consider and approach conflicts, let’s add a few more tactics to your arsenal for resolving them.

Every conflict is unique and what works for one may not work for the other, so flex those social skills, understand where each stakeholder is coming from, and work to influence a positive change over the situation.

  1. Encourage Active Listening

    If you’re mediating a conflict between two employees, you’re going to need them to empathize with each other on some level before resolution becomes reality.

    In advance of sitting them down, encourage each to brush up on the finer points of active listening so they can come prepared. Active listening is all about really opening yourself up to what another person is saying, and not just waiting for your turn to talk – which most of us do.

    Active listening involves giving the other person the chance to express their opinion, having the control to not react impulsively to anything that’s said, and repeating back each other’s main points as a show that statements have honestly been heard, and more importantly understood.

  2. Change The Scenery

    Changing the scenery, like a coffee shop, as a Conflict Management Strategy

    Sometimes a simple change of scenery can go a long way. Since the conflict started in the workplace, a little separation from the setting can often calm the nerves and get conversation flowing.

    If based on the stakeholders, you believe there’s an opportunity for them to resolve things on their own, suggest they grab lunch together at a restaurant away from the office. If you think the situation needs a third party, join them. A more relaxed backdrop will probably help things feel less formal, and ideally more social and friendly. Put the bill on the company dime if possible and help show that the effort they’re putting in is appreciated.

  3. Get The Whole Team Involved

    As Forbes points out, sometimes a conflict between two people has the potential to pull others into its wake and create divisions within your team as a whole.

    If that’s the case, don’t be afraid to counter this by having the resolution come from the team itself. Positively dealing with conflict is often what leads to team-wide improvement, so implicate everyone and get them invested in brainstorming a solution that will help them work better together as a unit, while also avoiding similar conflicts in the future.

    Conflict solutions that come of out a team brainstorm often also have a better chance at sticking, since everyone was aware, present, in agreement, and therefore on the hook for honoring the resolution.

  4. Get Commitment For Realistic Change

    The best resolutions tend to be the ones that come from the stakeholders themselves. Conversations can take place, and opinions can be communicated, but unless the two parties can commit to making certain changes, there’s a good chance the conflict will flare up again.

    Have each participant (or the whole team depending on the situation) come to the table with a few concrete ideas each on how to positively move the issue forward.

    While you may have to help shape these ideas as they emerge, Fast Company suggests trying to make the solutions process-related (we need a better way to make sure everyone is heard) vs. personal(Janet needs to do a better job of speaking up), which helps also make them more easily actionable.

    At the same time, get the stakeholders to agree on a maximum of three of these actions to create change that’s realistic, attainable, and not overwhelming.

  5. Shake Things Up

    Sometimes, it’s good to accept that things won’t always work out the way we want them to. Maybe you’ve tried everything on this list. Maybe you found another list and tried that too. But the change you’re looking for just isn’t materializing.

    In these moments, it’s important to appreciate that you could be doing all the right things, but some people just weren’t meant to work together. If you’ve come at the conflict head-on and run into a wall every time, the moment for expending more resources, energy, and time may be over. Consider exploring possibilities of reassigning a team member elsewhere within your organization if you truly believe it may be a better fit for them, and for the rest of the group.

  6. Partner With HR

    As a manager, working out conflict within your team should generally be your aim. You’re the closest to them and you probably understand them, their grievances, and motivations better than an outside third party.

    But there are times when everyone can benefit from a little backup, and connecting with HR, whether for advice or intervention can be exactly what the situation requires. Start out by using them as a sounding board to get an objective opinion since you might be too close to the conflict to see it from a certain angle. And if the employee conflict is particularly difficult, don’t be afraid to hand over the reins, or agree to tackle it together. You may even learn a different approach for the future!

Have A Conflict Management Style That Works For You? Share Your Story With Us!

What to do when Ex-Employees Damage Your Reputation

As a business owner, you try to hire good people. You screen them, train them, encourage them, and do whatever you can to help them succeed and become an integral part of your business.

So it’s extremely frustrating when one of them posts disparaging comments online after he or she has left your company. It can take years for you to establish a reputation for having excellent products and services, but a single disgruntled employee can ruin that in a matter of seconds.

On one hand, people who read your ex-employee’s online comments may form inaccurate opinions about your business, which could damage your reputation in the marketplace. On the other hand, an ex-employee who damages your reputation can ward off top talent from wanting to join your business in the future.  Top candidates will always do their homework during the recruiting process.

In a recent study conducted by Allegis Group a whopping 69 percent of respondents claimed that they wouldn’t accept a job from a company with a poor reputation, even if they were unemployed!  of those that already had jobs, 31 percent said that they wouldn’t be willing to leave their current company for one with a bad reputation.  That is powerful!

So though only 16 percent of employees say that they’ve posted negative comments about their employers online before, these disgruntled workers can leave a real stain on your reputation. What’s more, it can be difficult to recover from such a blow to your image. As such, you’ll need to be hyper-vigilant when it comes to ex-employees and the things that they say about your business online.

Look out for the different ways ex-employees can hurt your reputation

The rise of the “internet review era” has given disgruntled ex-employees a platform through which they can voice their grievances with your business and, ultimately, damage your reputation. When your former employees are looking to get their opinions across to the masses, there are several tactics that they can use to retaliate against your business. Watch for the keyboard warriors.  Here are a few common ones that you should look out for:

Giving poor LinkedIn references

Encompassing a member base of over 400 million individuals, LinkedIn has become the place for professionals looking to network with others—and the place where your ex-employees can share negative thoughts about your business. This platform makes it easy for prospective employees to find those who have worked for you in the past and ask them about their experiences at your business. These private exchanges allow your ex-employees to share their true thoughts and opinions, however negative they may be.

Leaving bad reviews on Glassdoor

Online company review site Glassdoor has become the bane of existence for many businesses, who often see their Glassdoor pages inundated with negative reviews and ratings from ex-employees. These individuals can use this platform to share what it was like to work for your business and highlight other grievances about you, your managerial staff, and even your business structure. And though Glassdoor requires its reviewers to create accounts before posting, your ex-employees’ comments will appear on your business’ page anonymously (Of course!). This makes it easy for disgruntled former employees to attack your business. Enough of these bad comments can do some real damage on your reputation.

Slamming you on social media

Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are favorites among the community of ex-employees that are looking to badmouth their former employers. Using hashtags (think #hatemyboss, #bademployer, and #hatemyjob), your ex-staff members can get the word out to any other user that they aren’t happy with their experiences at your company. Bad comments spread more quickly than good ones, so social media can make a swift impact when it comes to your online reputation.

Posting other malicious reviews

Ex-employees can negatively impact your business’ reputation by sharing particularly malicious reviews on the leading online review platforms. You must remain vigilant when it comes to these comments, which can be much more harmful than those posted by consumers or even competitors. Your ex-employees leave your company with knowledge of inner company workings and other information that they can share with countless others online.

You can easily spot these malicious reviews by looking for several characteristics. If you see comments that feature industry vocabulary or other terms used at your business, then you’ll know that an ex-employee wrote that review. Also, angry former employees won’t usually be open to discussion when you respond to their negative reviews.

What should I do if this happens to my business?

When ex-employees start to damage your reputation, you’ll need to nip the situation in the bud before it makes a lasting impact on your business. Thankfully, there are a number of strategies that you can use to rectify the situation and turn your reputation around. Here are some suggestions:

Stay calm

The absolute worst thing you can do is to fly off the handle upon reading a disgruntled employee’s comments about you and your business. Responding with inflammatory or condescending prose, contacting the person directly, or filing a lawsuit will only serve to encourage the offender while simultaneously exacerbating the negative image of your company. It’s okay to be angry about the knock to your reputation—but it’s unwise to let your emotions get the best of you.  Easier said than done, I know.

Prevent it before it happens

You can prevent ex-employees from lashing out against your business and ruining its reputation well before they even become ex-employees. To protect your own interests, you should have a “prevention plan” in place that will ensure that no employee leaves the company feeling slighted.

This plan should start when you are onboarding new employees. Give all new hires documentation that clearly outlines their role and responsibilities in the business—and tells them what actions you’ll take if they don’t meet expectations. This plan should also involve regular employee evaluations, which will provide a benchmark for any improvements that they need to make. If they fail to amend their shortcomings, then it’ll come as no surprise when you let them go.

Even so, you should handle any employee severances with great care to prevent them from retaliating against your business. Never let an employee go without warning—this can incite them to air their grievances online and/or seek legal action. The way you approach this situation can shape the image that your ex-employees have of your business and prevent them from tarnishing your reputation.

Flag negative reviews for removal

Many review sites, like Google+ or Glassdoor, have mechanisms that allow employers to identify reviews which they feel may be inaccurate. Usually, this is a link next to the review labeled “Flag as inappropriate” or “Problem with this review?” Selecting this link is an easy way to demonstrate to the cyberworld that the reviewer is disgruntled. Just don’t make a habit of flagging every negative review about your company—otherwise, you’ll be “flagged” by the review site itself.

When flagging isn’t enough to remove these negative reviews, you can also submit a written request to the website where your ex-employees posted them. In your letter, you should explain why you want the materials removed, mention any site policies the review has violated, and disclose what you have already done to petition for the removal of the content.

If the allegations being issued by the disgruntled employee are patently and objectively false, you do have some legal remedies. You can seek out legal advice about filing a libel lawsuit, notify the review sites involved to report the deceptive information, and possibly even contact the Federal Trade Commission about the review site publishing fraudulent reviews.

Respond to the ex-employee’s comments

Taking the high road is always the best option when responding to disgruntled employees. Start by thanking them for taking the time to write a review, whether you agree with what they said or not. In the remainder of your response, you should use calm, neutral language, express concern for the former employee’s plight, formally state the relevant policy regarding the topic in question, and point out that privacy laws prohibit you from discussing internal company matters. Finally, don’t get into a back-and-forth response war with the reviewer; that can only make you look bad. Keeping a level head and addressing the situation with maturity can go a long way towards repairing your reputation.

Increase your positive reviews

Another tried-and-true strategy for dealing with negative reviews is to drown them out. In other words, find ways to solicit positive reviews about your business from customers, peers, clients, or even other employees. The more glowing reviews you receive, the more that the disgruntled ex-employee’s remarks will appear isolated and irrelevant.

Make your own adjustments

Sometimes, a disgruntled employee is just a jerk. But often, there may be a legitimate root cause of the person’s ire. Though you don’t have to acknowledge that the ex-employee is right, it would behoove you to take a closer look at the issue(s) that he or she brought up in the negative review. That way, you stand a better chance of avoiding future bad reviews by angry former employees. It may be a matter of clarifying a certain policy or improving communication within your workplace.

Monitor your online reputation

Monitoring the internet for negative reviews is the best thing that you can do to protect your reputation from the wrath of former employees. You should regularly check all of the most visited company review sites, including Glassdoor, Indeed, and Jobitorial.

Formal reviews aren’t the only method that ex-employees can use to vilify your business, however. It’s crucial that you also monitor news and blog posts about you—former employees can make disparaging comments on posts such as these. Try using online monitoring tools to keep track of what’s being said about your business online. Google Alerts, TrackUr, and SocialMention are a few that’ll help you stay in the loop.

The bottom line

No business owner likes to have his or her reputation take a hit—especially from a former worker. But keeping a level head and addressing negative comments and reviews promptly can go a long way toward repairing any damage your business’s reputation may incur.

If you need help fixing a reputation that an ex-employee ruined, why not let MCDA help? Schedule a free consultation and get the personalized advice you need to take back your reputation.

 

 

Online Marketing Funnels You Aren’t Using – BUT SHOULD!

An online marketing funnel is a marketing strategy for companies to get a consistent stream of new leads or sales from their website. Most online entrepreneurs should have at least one type of lead or sales funnel in place. However, there are several types of marketing funnels that many online entrepreneurs and business owners are not using.

Here we will go over five online marketing funnels you may not be using right now, but should.

Quiz Funnel

A Quiz Funnel starts with visitors answering a series of compelling questions that promise to provide immediate and personalized feedback. After completing the quiz, they are asked for their contact information to receive their results. BuzzFeed popularized online quizzes and savvy marketers followed their lead.

Depending on the email service used, answers from the quiz can also tag subscribers. This way you can customize email follow-ups. For example, if you run a marketing company, you might decide to segment your emails based on small business owners and agency owners—two very different audiences, but you may have services for each group.

Attention Span Funnel

A Digital Attention Span Funnel is designed to grab the attention of visitors who have short attention spans, and to quickly win their trust and turn them into leads. This particular funnel is different because it is not a dedicated page, but blended into a blog post that’s focused on solving a specific problem for the site’s prospective customers.

To implement this funnel, your first step is letting visitors know you are qualified to solve their problems by using “trust triggers” on your web page. Examples of trust triggers include “As Seen On” publisher logos, testimonials, and incorporating influencers in your content.

Next, your second step is solving visitors’ problems that led them to your content. This is critical to building a trusting relationship. And finally, your third step is leveraging all that trust and turning visitors into leads through content upgrades. Offer an option for a free bonus (downloadable PDF, training video, etc.) that expands on the topic of the blog post. The key here is your content upgrade must clearly tie into the same problem the post is solving.

Hero Funnel

A Hero Funnel’s purpose is to position you as an authority through your background, expertise, and accomplishments, and to ask visitors to opt in to your list and follow you on your social media. This funnel is beneficial for anyone who is the face of their company. Use it on the “About” page on your site, or even use it on a YourName.com type domain. A good example of a Hero Funnel is Russell Brunson, the founder of ClickFunnels.

A Hero Funnel is not going to bring in a high number of subscribers, but the ones who do come from this funnel will be the most interested in you personally. And remember, your goal is not to sell products, or even get visitors to opt in for a free gift. You are selling you, so focus on gaining social media followers and general email subscriptions.

Reverse Squeeze Page Funnel

A Reverse Squeeze Page Funnel gives away some of your best content before asking for a visitor’s email address. For example, if you have a video that explains how to get traffic from LinkedIn, at the end of the video, ask visitors to opt in to see your method to convert that traffic into leads. This funnel works best when you need to overcome trust issues with new visitors because you are giving them value first. In most cases, your conversion rate will be lower than most other opt-in pages, but visitors will trust you more.

Invisible Funnel

In an Invisible Funnel, people opt in with a credit card to attend an event, or get access to a training, software, or digital product, but they aren’t charged immediately. They will have access to the product or service for free at first, and then be billed after they’ve had a chance to use the product or service. It could be three or seven days later—or even a month later. And that’s what makes this funnel so unique.

For example, if you are selling an information product, you might allow people to have three days to review and apply the training, and then charge their credit card, unless they cancel.

Conclusion

Some of these online marketing funnels are easier to implement than others (i.e., the Quiz Funnel would probably require a premium tool or service to implement). But others involve no more than just changing how you position your existing offers.

Don’t jump in and try to execute all of these at once.  Think about which one best suits your business and go with it.  Give it some time to work.  Then try another.

If you need help getting this going please reach out to us at (714) 872-2393 for more information and one of our experienced consultants can assist you.

Toxic Bosses And The Best Way To Handle Them

The boss seemed so incredible and nice during the interview.  The first couple of weeks have gone amazing, you love the decision you made.  All of a sudden you are quickly realizing you might have a boss from hell situation on your hands….Now what?

Unfortunately, you are not the only one who could write a book that would make “The Devil Wears Prada” a soft bedtime story.  Bad bosses are out there in every industry, at every level, at every organization.  Sucks, but it is a fact.

The good news? They usually come in one of a few identifi­able varieties. And by recognizing what kind of monster (er, manager) you have on your hands, you can come up with the right tactics for dealing with them.

Here is my quick guide to the four common types of bad bosses and some tips for managing the craziness.

First (my personal favorite)

1. The Slacker

The slacker spends Monday through Thursday taking long lunches, leaving early and “networking” on his/her smartphone (a.k.a. texting friends/playing games). Then here comes Friday, and they are panicking about deadlines and projects that haven’t gotten done—and calling on you demanding that you help pick up the pieces.

Try This

One of my high school teachers had a sign on her desk that said, “A lack of preparation on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.” Unfortunately, you probably shouldn’t repeat this to the person who signs your paycheck. Instead, try looking at your boss’s laziness as a good way to advance your own career.  Ask him/her if you can take the lead on a few projects that interest you. Chances are that your boss won’t mind relinquishing the extra work, and you’ll be fattening up your resume for future job opportunities.

2. The Land Mine

It’s mid-afternoon, and you’ve been a model of hustle and productivity. Emails have been answered, projects are being completed ahead of schedule, and you’re just getting ready to grab some well-deserved lunch, when—BOOOOM! Out of nowhere, your boss is at your desk yelling at you for something small and meaningless.

Try This

What’s the best way to diffuse this bundle of human dynamite (short of anonymously leaving an anger-management flyer on their desk)? The key is to not set it off in the first place. Yes, there will always be unanticipated freak-out sessions, but do your best to control them by understanding what triggers a meltdown, and avoiding those things. For example,  if your boss starts foaming at the mouth if you arrive a moment after 8 AM, plan to get there at 7:45—Every. Single. Day.

3. The Egomaniac

They seem to think that the rules apply to everyone but them. They act like everyone else (including you) exists only to confirm their awesomeness or make their life more convenient. They regularly takes all the credit for team projects, and passes blame for anything that goes wrong onto everyone else.

Think the boss equivalent of Kanye West: You’ve got an egomaniac on your hands.

Try This

Short of changing jobs, the best way to deal with egomaniacs is to ignore their calls for validation as much as possible. You certainly don’t want to disregard your boss, but feeding the ego monster with unnecessary compliments and attention will only reinforce bad behavior.

Then, work on cultivating relationships with other people in the office. Look for someone else to act as a mentor, give you solid career advice, and serve as a reliable reference. And make sure to keep a paper trail of your accomplishments and projects so that you don’t have to rely on your boss for recognition.

4. The Michael Scott

Arrogant yet incompetent. Desperate for friendship but unintentionally offensive. Finishes other people’s sentences with “That’s what she said.” Okay, so the last one might be a (slight) exaggeration, but the point is that the Michael Scotts of the world do exist outside of prime time television. These are the bosses who can’t decide if they want to be your supervisor or your friend, and who, quite frankly, aren’t very good at either.

Try This

The good news is that Michael Scott-type bosses tend to be pretty harmless. Usually, they’re just lacking in confidence and social ability, and want nothing more than to be considered one of the guys—or girls.

If you’re stuck with a Michael Scott, take pity on him. Include him in office chit-chat or visit with him over lunch. And then, get back to work. Seeing good social skills in action can help your boss learn to act in a more “office-appropriate” manner.

If you have a boss that goes over and beyond these 4 listed items, I pity you, I do.  Contact us and we can help give you more advice and tips to survive your daily grind.

Working in a small office – The real deal

I have worked in small offices for a large portion of my professional working career, from when I started my intern program up until now.  Personally, I have to say that I prefer the smaller environment, but I can assure you, it is not for everyone.  There are many pros, there are also many cons.  Yes, I know you can find both good and bad in any working environment, but obviously, these differences will vary.  Here are a few things to consider…

You get to dabble in different fields

Yes, I work and specialize in operations management, but in a small office environment, it is all hands on deck.  If someone in a neighboring department needs help, you can bet the I am there working on it.  Personally I love this as my work each day is really never the same – it doesn’t get mundane.  Another plus, I get experience and knowledge even outside my field which can help me in the future.

Everyone knows each other

I know all of employees by name.  I work directly alongside all of the employees in every department.  By knowing each employee I am able to develop relationships with employees of every level, relationships you may not be able to develop working for a large company.  I have many friends who have never met their CEO, CFO and other high ups, where my employees speak to me on a daily basis.

Drama and gossip
If two people get into a disagreement, you bet the entire office knows about it. This happens in any small environment, but of course it’s a bit tricky when it’s your professional working environment. Just don’t get involved in things that are going on between others, and focus on your own personal work and development.

Your work is recognized
The CEO and the Directors know what work or projects you completed. Your name is attached and associated with them. People are aware of what you contribute, especially those higher-ups. In fact, in some cases where applicable, even the Board of Directors will know your work and contributions as well.

You have more responsibility 
As there’s only a small amount of people to get work done, you’re given more responsibility. No one has time to look over your shoulder and watch what you do, or tell you what to do, as they have to get their own work done. You need to be a go-getter and a self-starter/motivator if you work in a small office.

 

Have you worked in a small office? What was your experience like?

Did you know MCDA CCG INC was recently selected by Feedspot as one of the Top 100 business blogs on the web?  You can check out other great business blogs here.

https://blog.feedspot.com/business_blogs/

 

Growing? Here are 3 Ways to Help Upgrade Your Supply Chain

A quick growth in your business can be super exciting.  But if you don’t know how your supply chain management strategy will evolve with your company you might limit your growth.

Let’s go with a pretty simple analogy on this.  If you gain a bunch of weight you would buy bigger clothes or go lose some weight at the gym.  For now, we will use buying bigger clothes.  If you kept gaining weight would you keep wearing the same clothes?  No right.  Well Supply Chain Management works the same way.

After all, if your company is growing and your supply chain management doesn’t change to match its new size, things may eventually start to fall apart along the seams. And when that happens, your customers will definitely notice and give an earful to their friends and followers on social media—and your customer service representatives.

So if you’re looking for ways to upgrade your supply chain management as your company expands, you may want to try some of these strategies—because the right time to tighten your belt is not when your company is gaining market share.

1. Make sure you have alternate vendors.

You’re growing. Are your suppliers?

Hussein Suheimat is the CEO of SMMC a custom CNC manufacturing business in California.

“Being in manufacturing, supply chain monitoring and improvements are a vital part of our business,” Suheimat says.

But because his company uses a lot of varying metals (Steel, Aluminum, Titanium, etc.)  in its production, supply chain management can get complicated, he says.

“The price of materials is constantly fluctuating and so supply chains must be monitored on a nearly daily basis to ensure that we’re getting the best product at the best price,” Suheimat explains.

“Unfortunately,” he continues, “gone are the days when you could work with just one vendor and expect stability in your supply chain. It almost feels like old street markets out there—where you haggle and barter in real time to get the best price.”

2. Mitigate risk to help your supply chain management.

If you aren’t doing risk management when you’re updating and improving your supply chain, you haven’t really upgraded or improved much. Your supply chain may be bigger, but it may also be more vulnerable to potential problems than ever.  The best way to manage risk is to be proactive.  This means while you have a supplier who is performing well and meeting all of the key performance indicators, it is critical to have a risk plan on what you will do if that supplier suffers a catastrophic event, financial issues, loss of key personnel or some other event which put at risk your ability to get product.

Every time you make a big change to your supply chain without also implementing a backup plan if something goes wrong, you may be weakening your chain instead of strengthening it.

3. Continue to update how you analyze your data.

Are you running out of inventory?

Have you had production or technology problems?

Are the updates in your supply chain management system allowing you to know what’s going on in your supply chain at virtually every moment?

The problem may be in how you monitor, collect and analyze information.

Here’s a question every company should be asking: Are we using data to make decisions —or merely to justify our decisions?

Companies need to be looking for a software or data services solution that can provide the right data in real time, so their key performance indicators can alert them to potential problems long before it results in an inventory shortage or other serious situation.

Keeping up with data is crucial for supply chain management, whether it’s going through an update or not.

We have to use precise forecasting of our sales and projects, in order to really dig in on our supply chain needs and think five steps ahead.

A lot of this isn’t necessarily from crunching numbers, but rather having regular clients and talking to them.

If you don’t want the tables turned on you, consider looking for ways to upgrade your supply chain as your company expands.

The larger your company gets, the more you have to invest in your supply chain management to keep your executives, employees, suppliers and customers happy. And that can feel like a weight has been lifted off of you.