“I wish I could rewind the clock and do it differently.” Bob, CEO of a mid-size organization lamented to his former colleague, Rick. A week earlier he had sent out an internal memo warning that things were about to change. Their entire industry would soon be affected due to emerging government regulations.
The day after the memo was sent, worst case scenarios were circulating throughout the company. The gossip mill was in full swing. Fear quickly spread to vendors and customers. Within 48 hours, Bob had hundreds of emails from concerned workers, vendors and customers.
“What could you have done differently? You shared the information you had at the time.” Rick earnestly attempted to support his friend.
“Rick, I didn’t have much information from the Feds. I should have been upfront with people that I was also in the dark.” The CEO confided.
“I know but you couldn’t have anticipated that people would react so badly.” Rick responded in a compassionate tone.
“I underestimated the importance of doing more than sharing facts. My memo wasn’t very warm and friendly.” Bob admitted.
For the past two decades, Bob had focused on building a loyal team around him. He had worked hard to build their trust and was confident he had achieved it. Now, with one poorly written document, he was surprised to see how quickly that trust could erode.
Here’s what also surprised Bob: how differently employees read written communication during times of stress and change.
Bob made some blunders. You don’t have to repeat his mistakes. As a leader, you can build trust during turbulent times by following these four writing tips:
Tip #1: Choose Every Word Carefully. This is critical. During times turbulent times, every word you write to your employees about the crisis will be scrutinized.
Bob’s Blunder: He used ‘unfortunate’ in his memo. Employees obsessed about the use of this word, convinced it reflected some dire meaning.
Do This: Before you press send, ask yourself, could my reader derive some unintended meaning from my wording? If you are not sure, get a second opinion! (or third or fourth!)
Tip #2: Make a Human Connection. It has been said that people will forget what you said, but they will never forget how you make them feel. This also applies to written communication. During turbulent times, employees look to leaders for reassurance and empathy. Conveying a human connection through writing fosters trust in leadership.
Bob’s Blunder: Bob’s memo came across as uncaring to employees since it lacked any expression of emotion.
Do This: Before you press send, ask yourself, what expression of genuine emotion could I share with my readers to let them know I care?
Tip #3: Be Transparent. When you don’t have the full information to share, be willing to honesty explain your constraints. If you do not show transparency, you risk breaching the reader’s trust. In your writing, what you leave unsaid can be as important as what you say.
Bob’s Blunder: Bob’s memo left many questions unanswered. Bob failed to share with his readers that he was limited by the lack of information he was receiving from his source, the federal government.
Do This: Before you press send, ask yourself, have I articulated why I can’t provide more detail?
Tip #4: More is Better. During a crisis, people can get overwhelmed. This reduces their ability to retain information. Your message may get lost. To ensure your communication is received, aim to increase the frequency of writing to employees about important issues. Repetition is key. Find ways to communicate important messages in different ways on a frequent basis during turbulent times.
Bob’s Blunder: Bob waited a few weeks between his first and second written communication about the changes and this caused concern among employees.
Do This: Before you press send, ask yourself, have I communicated how I will continue to keep people updated?
It has been said that the only constant in life is change. This may be truer than ever. How you communicate in writing during turbulent times can leave a lasting impression on those within your organization and beyond. Your people are watching not just what you do, but how you do it. By following these four tips, you can leave a lasting legacy within your organization – one that you will not look back and regret like Bob did.
About the Author
Dr. Julie Miller is President of Business Writing that Counts! Over the past 30 years, more than 750,000 people have participated in Business Writing That Counts! on-site and online writing courses and walked away with dramatically improved writing skills. Dr. Julie and her team are focused on increasing our clients’ bottom line by improving the efficiency and effectiveness of employees’ writing. Contact her at www.businesswritingthatcounts.com
Is Fear Holding You Back from Achieving Your Goals? By Angela Civitella
Research first diagnosed the fear of success a couple of decades ago. The findings, at the time, related to fear of success in women, and the results proved incredibly controversial.
Since then, however, most scientists and psychologists agree that the fear of success exists for both men and women. Fear of success is similar to the fear of failure. They have many of the same symptoms, and both fears hold you back from achieving your dreams and goals.
Signs of Fear of Success
The biggest problem for many people is that their fear of success is largely unconscious. They just don’t realize that they’ve been holding themselves back from doing something great. If you experience the following thoughts or fears, you might have a fear of success on some level:
- You feel guilty about any success you have, no matter how small, because your friends, family, or co-workers haven’t had the same success.
- You don’t tell others about your accomplishments.
- You avoid or procrastinate on big projects, especially projects that could lead to recognition.
- You frequently compromise your own goals or agenda to avoid conflict in a group or even conflict within your family.
- You self-sabotage your work or dreams by convincing yourself that you’re not good enough to achieve them.
- You feel, subconsciously, that you don’t deserve to enjoy success in your life.
- You believe that if you do achieve success, you won’t be able to sustain it. Eventually, you’ll fail and end up back in a worse place than where you started. So, you think, “why bother?”
What are the Causes?
The fear of success has several causes:
- We fear what success will bring, for example: loneliness, new enemies, being isolated from our family, longer working hours, or being asked for favors or money.
- We’re afraid that the higher we climb in life, the further we’re going to fall when we make a mistake.
- We fear the added work, responsibilities, or criticism that we’ll face.
- We fear that our relationships will suffer if we become successful. Our friends and family will react with jealousy and cynicism, and we’ll lose the ones we love.
- We fear that accomplishing our goals, and realizing that we have the power to be successful, may actually cause an intense regret that we didn’t act sooner.
Overcoming the Fear of Success
You can use several different strategies to overcome your fear of success. The good news is that the more you face your fears, bring them to the surface, and analyze them rationally, the more you’re likely to weaken those fears – and dramatically reduce your reluctance to achieve your goals.
Take a realistic look at what will happen if you succeed with your goal. Don’t look at what you hope will happen, or what you fear will happen. Instead, look at what is likely to happen.
It’s important not to give a quick answer to this. Take at least 15 minutes to examine the issues, and write down your answers to questions like:
- How will my life change?
- What’s the worst that could happen if I achieve this goal?
- What’s the best that could happen?
- Why do I feel that I don’t deserve to accomplish this goal?
- How motivated am I to work toward this goal?
- What am I currently doing to sabotage, or hurt, my own efforts?
- How can I stop those self-sabotaging behaviors?
Another useful technique is to address your fears directly, and then develop a backup plan that will overcome your concern. For instance, suppose you don’t push yourself to achieve a promotion, and the biggest reason is because you secretly fear that the additional income and recognition would jeopardize your family relationships and your integrity. You’re worried that you would be so busy working to maintain your success that you’d never see your family, and you might be forced to make choices that would destroy your integrity.
To overcome these fears, start by addressing your workload. You could set a rule for yourself that you’ll always be home by 7 p.m. You could tell this to your boss if you’re offered the new position.
For issues involving integrity, you always have a choice. If you set maintaining your integrity as your top goal, then you’ll always make the right choice. By creating backup plans that address your fears, you can often eliminate those fears entirely.
Fear of success is common, and many of us don’t realize that we have it. If this is your current situation, it’s time to let go of the chains that are holding you back from reaching the ultimate level of success in all that you do. Trust me, once you break free, you’ll never look back.
Angela Civitella is a certified business management coach and the founder of Intinde. www.intinde.com
As Valentine’s Day approaches, love is in the air. But, if you are in a relationship with a co-worker or thinking about starting one, there’s plenty that you can do to avoid embarrassment, hurt or disruption for yourself and your colleagues. What should you know? Angela Civitella is a former executive, certified business leadership coach and founder of Intinde.
She Says There Are Six Things To Consider:
- Check your organization’s HR policy: Many organizations have their own policies on workplace relationships. For example, some companies frown upon one partner managing the other. It’s not that your boss doesn’t want you to be happy, there are larger considerations such as breaches of compliance, conflicts of interest, or inappropriate collusion. The safest option is to ask your HR department if it has a policy in place, and to let your HR Advisor know if you are in a workplace relationship.
- Consider your company’s culture: Even if it’s not written into HR policy, you need to get a feel for your organization’s cultural view on workplace relationships. This is especially important if you are working abroad, or in an organization with a different culture from your own.
- Agree to an approach with your partner: Chances are, your colleagues and co-workers already know that you “have a crush” on the redhead in the sales team or the “hunk” in communications, and they may already suspect that it has blossomed into a relationship. You have to decide with your partner how you’ll behave at work. Do you “come clean” and let your colleagues know what’s going on? Or, do you join the third of workplace couples who decide to keep their relationship a secret? Discuss whether to set some boundaries at work, such as not spending too much time alone together, or agreeing not to use your “pet names” for one another
- Stay professional at work: Your colleagues might approve of your office romance and think you’re the best-matched couple since Romeo and Juliet, but you still need to tread carefully. Indulging in in-jokes, private conversations, and public displays of affection can make your co-workers feel awkward. And if you and your partner are eating lunch together in the staff restaurant, other colleagues may not know whether you want privacy or would welcome the extra company. Why not invite a few more people along? Even if they decline your invitation, you have made the offer. If you discuss business matters together – or, worse still, make business decisions – while your co-workers are absent, it will likely cause resentment. If you’re managing your partner, you need to be especially mindful of your professional interactions, and be seen to be extra careful to treat your other team members equally and fairly.
- Be prepared for gossip! Human beings are social animals, and we connect with one another by sharing stories and experiences. And the more exciting or shocking those stories, the more engaging they become. So, even if you rigorously follow the rules and are careful with your actions, some people may be quick to make assumptions and to see favoritism or nepotism that’s just not there. It’s a kind of fake news.
- Plan for the worst: What if the relationship ends? You have to remain professional if your workplace relationship comes to an end, no matter what the reason. This can be a difficult time for you, your ex-partner, and your colleagues, especially if you still have to work closely together. An acrimonious split can poison the atmosphere in the workplace, and impact productivity and morale. If you manage your ex-partner, make sure that you don’t discriminate against them, or you and your organization risk being the subject of a grievance procedure. Don’t get involved in “muck-raking” or “washing your dirty linen in public,” even if your former partner does.
Written By: Angela Civitella, a former executive, certified business leadership coach and founder of Intinde.
One of the biggest misconceptions about becoming your own boss is that you have to create a grand business plan in order to be successful. Luckily, that isn’t always the case. There are options to do what you love and provide services that can allow you the freedom of being self-employed. If you love to teach, bake, create, provide child care, get people organized, then you can become your own boss! All you have to do is decide on the service you can provide and make your dream a reality!
Business.org is ready to help American’s ditch the “9 to 5” and become their own boss in 2020. But which dreams are American’s most likely to pursue? It turns out that entrepreneurs who want to go solo (like an entrepreneur but doing it solo), have quite a few options they’re exploring. Using data from Google Trends, we found around 30 frequently searched solopreneur jobs. We then broke those jobs down by state to figure out where, exactly, each solopreneurial venture is most popular. Check out the full report to each state’s results.”
Here are some interesting findings about on the most popular solopreneur jobs nationwide for 2020.
- Surprising absolutely no one, California’s top-ranked solopreneur job is social media influencer
- A little more surprising? “Social media influencer” was also the most-searched term in Illinois and Texas—two lovely
states, of course, but both with a much lower reputation for stardom than La-La Land.
- Estheticians had the most-searched solopreneur job in Hawaii (spa treatments clearly go hand in hand with paradise-
- People in Idaho and Utah seem to need a little extra encouragement; life coaching came in first in both states.
- “Amazon seller” took first place in three states thousands of miles apart: Florida, Nevada, and New Jersey. Obviously,
solopreneurs can follow Amazon’s motto (“Work Hard. Have Fun.”) no matter where in the US they live.
Organizations have many options when it comes to marketing for Small Business Saturday, which occurs on the first Saturday after Thanksgiving. Small Business Saturday encourages consumers to support local businesses. The event drives attention to local small companies, presenting them with an opportunity to create brand awareness and increase local sales.
Taking advantage of Small Business Saturday requires planning, executing, and financing strategies. Funding your efforts can be done through securing a small business loan. The working capital can be used to hire seasonal staff, purchase extra inventory, or pay for a marketing campaign.
However, marketing isn’t always simple. Here’s what you need to know and how to take advantage of small business’s big day.
Ramp Up Digital Marketing for Small Business Saturday
Brands must work to engage customers through both digital and physical means. This omnichannel experience begins with digital marketing basics. You Should Consider:
Building Relationships on Social Media: Connecting with customers on social media can help you capture additional holiday sales. When marketing for Small Business Saturday, you may want to gradually tease out your plans for the big day. You can use social media to broadcast a special offer or invite customers to an in-store event. Social media is ideal for highlighting how you plan to celebrate Small Business Saturday. When posting on social media, be sure to include the #ShopSmall and #SmallBizSat hashtags.
Using Email Marketing: Email campaigns are an effective way to garner consumer attention and bring awareness to exclusive Small Business Saturday deals. It’s important to go beyond broad, generic messages. Personalization is increasingly vital in standing out in email campaigns. Key Strategies to Employ:
- Take the time to get to know your audience.
- Create copy aimed directly at them.
- Highlight promotions that fit their needs.
- Give them a clear action to take in response to the message.
Fostering Online Reviews: Consumers actively research products and services before committing to a purchase. Consider teaming up with an influencer who has a large following and a fair amount of influence within your area or niche. You can send them product samples in return for an honest review. This will help drive visibility and increase consumer confidence.
Implement Traditional Advertising Programs
Small businesses benefit from the ability to offer localized, personal services. You can leverage your relationship with your community to build trust and increase brand awareness. Traditional advertising campaigns can be ideal for furthering your presence in your community. Key Strategies to Employ:
Getting Involved With Your Local Community: Participating in community service events helps you get to know those around you. And helps them get to know your business. Interacting with potential customers in a community setting shows that you’re interested in relationship building rather than just maximizing sales. You could consider sponsoring a charity or local event. Successful community involvement plans require commitment and a genuine interest in what you’re doing.
Run Ad Campaigns With Local Media: If you want to drive engagement at a local level, you must use channels that are specifically aimed at your local community. Your message can slip into the background on far-reaching media channels, but an ad campaign in a local paper can go a long way in helping people connect with your brand.
Offer Deals and Promotions: It’s critical to recognize the importance of deals and promotions when marketing for Small Business Saturday. Limited time offers, and discounts can persuade customers who are on the fence about your products and services to give them a try.
Prepare Your Systems and Operations
If you’re successful at marketing for Small Business Saturday, then you’ll need to be prepared for an increase in volume and customer interactions. Consider:
Optimizing for Mobile: Consumers do everything from product research to actual purchases via smartphones and tablets. Make sure your website is mobile optimized. If your website is not optimized for mobile, you risk running into problems as you work to increase traffic surrounding Small Business Saturday.
Updating Your Website: Make sure your address and contact info is correct on your website. Additionally, review your site to make sure that promotions are prominently displayed, and your payment process is working properly. Put new product pictures out if your current listings seem dated and ensure copy properly reflects your services. Take time to upgrade and adjust your website before the big event.
Hiring Seasonal Staff: Since Small Business Saturday falls in line with the holiday season, it’s a convenient time to bring in extra staff. Seasonal employees can be used to help launch a new marketing campaign, handle sales, or interact with customers.
Managing Your Inventory: One of the most important considerations for Small Business Saturday is that you have plenty of goods to sell. A boost in sales won’t matter if you don’t have inventory available to meet customer needs. Take some time to analyze your supplies and ensure you’re ready for the increase in demand.
By participating in Small Business Saturday, local businesses receive quite a few perks including community support, great local marketing opportunities, and the high potential to reach new customers. Utilize the above marketing strategies to better prepare for Small Business Saturday and take advantage of the shopping frenzy.
Ben Gold is president of QuickBridge, a privately-held financial services firm providing “small business loans” and short-term working capital funding solutions for small-to medium-sized businesses nationwide. Based on its growth, QuickBridge has ranked two consecutive years on the Inc. 500 Fastest Growing American Companies list. Ben is a thought leader in the financial tech. industry and a contributing member of the Forbes Finance Council.
Author, KRISTINA PODNAR is a digital policy innovator. For over two decades, she has worked with some of the most high-profile companies in the world and has helped them see policies as opportunities to free the organization from uncertainty, risk, and internal chaos. Podnar’s approach brings in marketing, human resources, IT, legal, compliance, security, and procurement to create digital policies and practices that comply with regulations, unlock opportunity, strengthen the brand and liberate employees.
Just as we have gotten used to the idea that the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a fact of life and have made modifications in our data collection procedures, the Brazil General Data Protection Law (LGDP), the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and waves of proposed new data privacy laws are swirling in the calm forewarning of a privacy tsunami heading our way. In the middle of such deep acronym swirls, it could be easy to be overwhelmed. However, all the privacy regulations share a number of commonalities and by addressing these now, you will be on high ground as the waves begin to pound.
The compliance life raft
While you will need to pay attention to the details of individual data regulations as they arise, whether already adopted, pending adoption, or only proposed, all the regulations share certain commonalities that you should consider addressing as part of ongoing operations.
Accountability and governance
At the heart of data privacy requirements is the aim to have organizations develop a plan to self-manage data in a way that respects end users. To address accountability and governance requirements in your organization, consider, have you:
- Reviewed the applicability and risk to the organization from data privacy issues, and considered alternatives, including insurance, in case you are fined?
- Mandated that data privacy become part of the policy program, including staff training, measurement, and compliance reporting?
- Clearly documented roles, responsibilities, and reporting lines to embed privacy compliance
Consent and processing
A fundamental privacy regulation concept is that end users are aware when and why their data is collected, and what happens to it once it’s given. To address these requirements, ask yourself whether you have:
- Reviewed that the data being collected and used is necessary and for the benefit of completing a desired action by the user?
- Identified sensitive data and ensured it is treated as such through the use of special encryption or by validating vendor storage practices for sensitive data, etc.?
- Confirmed that user consent for data collection is clearly captured and documented, and that user data can be modified or erased?
Notifications and data rights
Gone are the days of legalese or simply taking data from users because we can. Data privacy regulations require transparency, user awareness, and forthright behavior by businesses. To ensure you get this right, ask yourself whether the organization has:
- Written user notices clearly so they can be easily understood—properly targeted to children where relevant—and are reflective of specific data collection and usage purposes?
- Created and tested processes to correct and delete all user data if needed?
- Developed a solution to give users their data in a portable electronic format?
Organizations that treat privacy as a core design principle will always be in alignment with data privacy regulations. In my consulting experience, I see many self-disciplined organizations that have historically had good privacy practices and have little to address with each new law. To get to that state, ask whether you have:
- Created or updated the policy and associated process to embed privacy into all technology and digital projects, including those outsourced to vendors and partners?
Data breach notification
For many organizations, the question nowadays isn’t whether the organization will have a breach, but rather when will it happen and how will they respond. To address regulatory breach aspects, ask whether the organization has:
- Created (or reviewed and updated an existing) data breach policy and response plan to reflect detection, notification, and the actions to mitigate loss?
- Considered and obtained insurance for a possible data breach and regulatory penalties that the organization may face but not be able to handle on its own?
- Incorporated data breach terms and requirements into all vendor and third-party contracts?
New data privacy regulations state where data physically must be stored, and if transferred to another country, what are the requirements for doing so. Your organization will be well positioned to meet this requirement if it can answer:
- Have we identified and updated all cross-border data flows from the country where the data is collected, and reviewed data export for on-premise and cloud solutions?
Children’s online privacy considerations
Data privacy regulations are concerned with end users, but are even more strict about children and their online data protection and rights. It is best to get ahead of these issues by asking whether the organization has:
- Defined what data it collects from children, whether as a business practice or through efforts like “take your child to work day”?
- Are user notifications and online privacy statements written in a way that a child could understand them, and do they state that parental consent is required?
Contracting and procurement
Most businesses may struggle to understand exactly what personal user data is collected via websites, mobile applications, and other digital platforms, especially through third-party software solutions and vendors. To make sure that your organization isn’t caught out, ask whether you have:
- Reviewed and ensured that all vendors, customers, and third-party agreements reflect data regulatory requirements?
- Defined procurement processes such that privacy is integrated into all products and services the organization buys, including regarding data minimization, the visibility of onward data flows, and data ownership?