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Musings from the coach

Constructive Criticism

One of the most challenging yet beneficial parts of being in a leadership role is providing constructive criticism. It can be difficult to deliver negative feedback to an employee or coworker. Yet, if done correctly, constructive criticism can be incredibly beneficial. It allows you to express exactly what expectations aren’t being met, and gives the recipient a new perspective on how they can improve. 

For those unfamiliar or uncomfortable with delivering constructive criticism, I’ve created an in-depth guide to facilitate the process.

The issue here is that often you’ve seen the same problems over and over with your executive or employee, and they need to make changes and they haven’t made these changes. That’s when you really need to address them in a more specific and maybe intensive way.

Script: 

“Matthew, in the past month, you’ve made two major decisions that touch the product team and the marketing team without consulting them or even letting them know you’ve missed the opportunity to get their feedback, which would be valuable and their input, which is essential to the success of our project. And now I’m concerned that because they haven’t been in the loop, they’re not going to CO on the process with you. So it’s gonna be much harder for us to finish this project. We’ve talked about this before. And you told me that you’d make sure to get people’s input before you made decisions. I need you to fix this one problem by going and talking to these folks right now. And then even more critically, I need you to operate differently from now on. You’re not going to be successful and we won’t be successful as a business if you don’t collaborate a lot more closely. I’d love to hear back from you by the end of the week about your plan to solve this once and for all. I’m here to help you if you need me. And I’m more than happy to talk through your plan. But I need you to take ownership of this issue and fix it.”

Tip: 

Here I have communicated to them the seriousness of the issue. This specific thing you want them to go and fix, and the timeline that you want to hear back from them, it’s not just going to fall off the radar that you’ve actually agreed on a timeframe, they’re gonna come back and give you a plan. That’s important to make a forward motion. My suggestion to you is that you roleplay, this, I know, you don’t want to roleplay it, nobody wants to roleplay. But I really encourage you to do that. Because first of all, it’s going to help you get your tone neutral. And that’s going to possibly reduce defensiveness and set up actually a good dialogue after this conversation, which is important.

Constructive Criticism: Follow-up

 Now, let’s assume that you’ve had a couple of these conversations and things have not improved, that is disappointing. But we have to get to the conversation before the firing conversation. You never want people to be surprised when they get fired.  And you also want to tell yourself, I did everything I could to help this person make changes, and I communicated to this person and the person should not be surprised. So that’s why it’s important just for you and your own sanity.

Script: 

“Camelia, we need to have a serious conversation. You and your team have consistently not met your goals or even come close. And as a result, we’ve had to move the new product launch twice at the last minute. I know things come up. But your job is to anticipate what those things are. Manage your team to deal with them and work with your peers to coordinate all of it. And I don’t see you doing that. What I need you to do is immediately debrief with your team and your peers, pull together a launch schedule that will meet our business goals, and then make that date. If you can’t do that within the next two months, I’m sorry to tell you, I’m going to have to find a new leader to take your role. And we’re going to have to part ways. I’m telling you this because I want you to know where I stand on this. And I want you to take it seriously. If there’s anything you need for me to help you improve, let me know. I want to hear back from you by the end of the week about how you’re approaching this.” 

Script: 

“Matthew, we need to have a serious conversation. We’ve talked in the past about my concerns about you making unilateral decisions about areas that affect other areas of the business. Collaboration and transparency are super important values here. And if you keep making decisions in a vacuum, you aren’t being collaborative or transparent. You’re also not getting good ideas from others, you’re surprising people, and you’re not getting buy-in from the people that you need. You’re also making people feel dismissed. It’s not a sustainable way to work. I need you to know that if you can’t fix this issue, we’re going to have to part ways. I’m telling you this because I want you to know where I stand. And I want you to take it seriously. I need you to fix this immediately by mending fences with your peers and employees and taking into account their input before key decisions. If there’s anything you need for me to help you let me know, I want to hear back from you by the end of the week about how you’re approaching this. And I need to see improvement within 30 days.”

Tip: 

Now, this is definitely one you’re going to want to roleplay. And remember to stay even-keeled and be ready for discussion after this, I can’t give you a script for an unscripted dialogue that’s going to take place after you land this one. So in your roleplay, think through how your employee might respond. And what you might say during the discussion that will follow. When you prepare for what they say in response and practice getting your mouth around the words of the script, it will make you feel much more confident.

Quote

“Wise people prefer to benefit from constructive criticism rather than be ruined by false praise.”

— Shiv Khera

Gillette is the brand known to have revolutionized the method of shaving generations ago, and still has a hold on the industry decades later. Gillette is synonymous with razors, but not many know the true story behind how this multimillion-dollar business came to life. As it is known, King Camp Gillette is the inventor of the first safety razor for men and also the founder of the brand which later developed into a colossal grooming corporation. However, this is not the case. There was someone else in the picture.

William Emery Nickerson, the partner of King C. Gillette, was the original mastermind behind the invention of the first safety razor. Back then, it was perceived that selling a product under the name of Nickerson might lower its brand value. After all, no one wants to nick their skin while shaving! In addition, the idea to invent such a tool for shaving was of King Gillette’s, and Nickerson only shaped his idea through innovation. 

The story begins in 1895 when King C. Gillette conceived the idea of disposable blades and safety razors. Back then, portable shaving devices were used that were called “cut-throat razors” by traveling salesmen. The device was a wedge-like heavy metal blade with a top handle. When dull, the wedge was stropped by hand until it was completely sharpened. The device was very risky to be used in trains while traveling and thus it got such a name. 

As King C. Gillette started his research on safety razors he met several metallurgical experts to find a way to shape his dream. He was told by these metallurgists that mass production of such a thin metal blade that will be disposable was not feasible. Thankfully, this could not deter King C. Gillette’s spirit as he was determined to revolutionize shaving. It was during this time King C. Gillette met William Emery Nickerson, a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a trustee of Boston University. King Gillette partnered with Nickerson, and after 6 years, Nickerson invented a successful method to create disposable blades. 

In 1901 the duo came up with all the necessary equipment to mass-produce the disposable razors and soon patented the invention. King C. Gillette started his company by the name American Safety Razor Company in the same year. The company was later renamed “Gillette Safety Razor Company” in 1904. The safety razor disrupted the market by replacing old shaving devices. The safety razor and disposable blades revolutionized shaving technology for future generations. 

The blades and razors were sold with the picture and name of King C. Gillette, earning him stardom almost overnight. By 1910 King C. Gillette was already a millionaire. He even authored a few books on social advancement, besides devising killer marketing strategies for his brand “Gillette”. In 1926 King C. Gillette built his home on 588 acres of land in Calabasas, California. Presently, the property is a state park called King Gillette Ranch. 

The story behind the world’s first safety razor and its company is a fascinating one, especially since Gillette razors are present in millions of stores across the United States. This is all thanks to the vision of King C. Gillette and his talented partner, William Emery Nickerson.

Sales

If a business is a vehicle, a salesperson is an engine to drive it to success. Sales bring much-needed traction to a budding business by not only increasing revenue but also building the credibility of the brand. Even big businesses rely on salespeople to scale their reach and boost their revenue. Small businesses, however, may be skeptical. Some regard it as an expense instead of an investment. This is where they are failing to develop a strategy to grow their brand. 

Referrals are a great source of sales, but considering referrals as the main sales source would be an overestimation. Small businesses may think referrals are everything they need because having a sales team or hiring a salesperson isn’t affordable. This is not true. If referrals act as a sailboat, a salesperson would be a powerboat for the business. Here are a few reasons to hire a salesperson or a team. 

Helpful to deal with clients

Sometimes, brands cannot reach the client personally to address their needs and grievances. A salesperson can do it on a personal level, building a relationship with the client while also retaining the customer for life. 

Boosts revenue

Most brands have a go-to sales model that works for them, and the salesperson can follow it. It’s a tried and tested method to increase product sales and boost revenue. In fact, that is the sole intention or target behind hiring a salesperson or a sales team. 

Increase productivity

If the CEO of the company thinks they can manage sales themself, or a designer or accountant can do it, that assumption is wrong. Sales is an established job role on its own, and to do it, you need to sacrifice other tasks. So either way, the business is suffering. This is where a salesperson increases the entire team’s productivity, working to scale the business.  

Tips on Recruiting a Salesperson

Learn from category leaders in different business segments; in all likelihood, they have a huge sales team working behind them. There are endless creative ways to hire a salesperson if you have a small budget. Here are some tips on hiring and managing a sales team to quickly scale your business with limited resources: 

Adopt affordable recruiting policies

Salespeople can be hired in different ways to keep the marketing budget to a minimum. Try recruiting on a part-time basis or through earning a commission based on sales. This increases productivity while reducing the cost.  

Develop talent

Hiring a professional sales team can be a financial burden for a new business or a small company. In such cases, businesses can hire fresh talent who have the potential to convince people and are willing to work to deadlines. Now, develop these talents through proper training and mentorship. Over a period, such teams have proved to be an asset to a company. 

Focus on results

Keep the focus on results. A sales team’s performance is measured by the number of sales it gets for the company, and this is a good rule to follow. For a salesperson, the focus should also be on accomplishing the target within the deadline. Maintaining a team or a salesperson that is not self-motivated or result-oriented is an operational expense for the company, not an investment.  

Quote on Sales

“Sales enablement can’t be reactive. It has to be a full-blown strategy that’s woven into the fabric of the company.” – Roderick Jefferson 

Sales is no longer a marketing technique; it has become a business strategy for brands to grow their presence and increase revenue.

There are thousands of theme parks worldwide, but Walt Disney World in Central Florida is still one of the most visited. This is the first theme park that Walt Disney created across thousands of acres of land. The story behind the purchase of such a vast amount of land is still a secret to many as it was to everyone in the 1960s. 

It all started when Walt Disney thought of building a Disney-themed park in the US. Walt Disney Productions started its search for land that would be well connected to other US cities and close to a large population. The search ended when Walt Disney flew to a site in Orlando, Florida in 1963. It was a centrally located site with ample road networks. The only drawback was that the amount of land that Walt Disney wanted to purchase was not available at the site. If the news of Walt Disney Productions buying a large piece of land became public, landowners and speculators would have wasted no time increasing the prices.  The planning and execution of purchasing the land was accomplished in secret. The idea was to buy the land through dummy corporations without revealing Walt Disney’s name. Walt Disney Productions’ attorney, Paul Helliwell, played a crucial role. 

Helliwell met Billy Dial, the president of First National Bank of Orlando, requesting assistance for landowner negotiations. He introduced himself as the representative of a client who wanted to keep his identity a secret until the purchase of the land was finalized. The purpose of the purchase was revealed as an investment towards a huge industrial project. Realtors soon approached landowners for different tracts of land in Orange and Osceola Counties. The negotiations led to around a hundred dollars per acre. After 6 months, the first purchase was recorded for 8,380 acres of swampland. The following day, the Orlando Sentinel published the news, stating rumors of a big industrial investment in Orange and Osceola Counties. 

To keep the identity of Walt Disney a secret, most land transactions were handled in cash to reduce the paper trail. Dummy corporations like Latin American Development, Management Corp., and Reedy Creek Ranch Corp. were created as the buyers of the land. The Magic Kingdom at Disney World has stores on the main street whose windows still display the names of these companies. This helped settle the rumors that were making the rounds after the first purchase was made public, but not all. Later in May, a newspaper published another story dismissing the rumors, stating that Walt Disney planned to purchase land on the East Coast. 

The second purchase was closed by another dummy corporation, Florida Ranch Lands. It involved 47 landowners. With that, Walt Disney Productions had purchased a total of 27,400 acres of land for over $5 million from 51 landowners. The average price for each acre stood at $182 at the end of the purchase. Walt Disney finally decided to make the official announcement in November 1965, revealing himself as the owner of the land that would soon be turned into a Disney-themed park. 

Unfortunately, Walt Disney passed away a year later, leaving the responsibility of the theme park on his brother Roy. Roy Disney executed the project with perfection at the cost of $400 million. The much speculated and talked about Disney World was opened for the public on October 1, 1971.

Focus TTQ

“Concentration and mental toughness are the margins of victory.” – Bill Russell 

There are many mental building blocks we need to achieve success: positivity, motivation, confidence, and more. But one integral skill that also needs to be mastered sometimes falls to the wayside: focus. If we’re not focused on the direction of our lives, whether personal or professional, things can veer off course.

While focus is extremely necessary to achieve success, it’s also important to know what to focus on. Quite often, people direct their attention toward the results they’re striving towards instead of the work needed to get them there. This dangerous mindset has the potential to set them up for failure, as they’re failing to pay attention to the hard work along the way.

Tips on staying focused

Complete focus on work can be challenging for people whose attention is pulled in multiple directions. Moving from one project or line of thought to another can be extremely challenging and sabotage anyone striving for concentration. Here are some simple tips to build focus and improve performance. 

 #1. Set a Timer

Having a set timer can increase your focus on a particular job. If you have a task at hand that’s expected to be done in an hour, set a timer to keep yourself focused until it’s done. It’s like setting a deadline to increase your productivity. It’s similar to setting a time on a treadmill or target footsteps on an activity tracker. These self-made deadlines help! 

#2. Put the phone away

Our phones are one of the biggest distractions in this day and age, with some even being addicted to checking them. Keep the phone away while at work. Try to keep it at a distance where it’s difficult to reach, maybe another room. You can keep it face down to avoid seeing the notifications that often pop up. 

#3. Identify your peak time

Everyone has a time when their mind can work at its best. It’s the peak time for performance or productivity at work. Find your peak time and set the schedule to tick off the most complicated tasks during those hours. For the rest of the day, you can do the easy tasks at your convenience. 

#4. Declutter your mind

Remember that it’s difficult to focus if your mind is buzzing around with thoughts and ideas. This is where you need to focus your mind completely. Stress and anxiety have never solved a problem. So, instead of cluttering your mind, list the concerns on a piece of paper and dedicate your free hours to solving them. 

Tools to stay focused

Focus is a mental ability, but certain tools can help. For instance, the timer on your phone can be a great tool to increase productivity. It is completely free and can be scheduled as per your requirement. 

Quote on staying focused

“At the end of the day, you can’t control the results; you can only control your effort level and your focus.” – Ben Zobrist 

You have to give your best and then leave the rest to destiny. Hard work and dedication have never betrayed anyone.

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