Tips and Techniques to Manage Difficult People

Posts Tagged ‘Small business’

3 Steps to Stop Sickies

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Are you frustrated by workplace absence?sneezing

If you’re a business owner or a manager then absence can be a real pain! It’s inconvenient, it’s damaging to customer service, you lose sales and it costs your business money. And as we all know, not all days taken off work are due to genuine sickness. Many employees take a “sickie” because their morale is low and they just don’t like or can’t do their work.

Make people happy

The challenge for managers and team leaders is to make people happier at work. And if people are happy at work then they are less likely to take a day off every time they wake up with a stuffy nose. Some bosses think that paying more money, improving job security or working conditions is the answer.

It isn’t and it’s also something that can be very hard to achieve.

Get on their wavelength

People who employ or supervise others need to become more tuned to their employees’ emotional needs and find out what really motivates them. This is also much easier to achieve than paying more money or improving job security, however there is no quick fix. Some years ago I inherited a tele-sales operation with low staff morale and poor sales results. It took nearly six months to fix. The long-term benefits were of course worth it in terms of fewer days lost due to sickness and an increase in sales.

To reduce the number of sickies there are 3 steps you need to consider:

1. Pick the right person for the job.

You need to get better at interviewing and selecting people. Take more time over it; pay more attention to the applicant’s human side rather than their qualifications or experience. Get to know them better.

Find out what makes them happy, how well they get on with other people and how much energy and enthusiasm they have.

Make sure they know what they’re getting into and be sure the job suits them.

2. You need to believe in your people.

If you’ve interviewed well and picked the right person for the job then you need to trust them to do that job. You need to constantly demonstrate to your people that you trust and believe in them by what you say, your tone of voice and also by your body language.

If you believe that your people are not to be trusted, that they’re unable to make a decision without checking with you; that they’ll turn up late and go home early, then that’s exactly what they’ll do.

If on the other hand you believe that they’ll do their job well, that they can be trusted to make decisions, and they’ll give you a fair day’s work, then it’s more likely this is what you’ll get.

As with all theories there is no guarantee that it will work every time, however the majority of employees are reasonable people and if you treat them as such then they’re more likely to behave in a positive manner.

3. Give feedback and coach.

This is probably the most important thing you can do to motivate your team members.

This is where so many managers and team leaders fall down in dealing with their people; they’re hopeless at giving feedback.

Many managers are uncomfortable telling staff how they feel about their work performance be it good or bad.

Most employees want to know how they’re performing in their job; they want to know if they are doing it right or how they could do it better.

If you really want to motivate your people then you need to give them feedback on what they’re doing well and also – what needs improvement.

When you notice an employee doing something you do like, tell them about it. When you notice something you don’t like, tell them about it.

Do it as soon as possible. Acknowledging a job well done is not much good six months later. Also, if you don’t immediately call someone’s attention to something you’re not happy about, then they’ll assume its okay. Either that or they’ll think you didn’t notice or you don’t care.

Do it in private; why is it some managers still feel its okay to reprimand someone in front of their colleagues? Even the mildest rebuke can have a negative effect on morale.

So there you have it; these steps will take time and thought however they’ll make a huge difference as to how employees feel about their work.

If they feel good and gain satisfaction from their work then they are less likely to find a reason to ‘take a sickie’.

Excerpt from How to be a Motivational Manager51zNGdLr4YL._SL300_311


One Thing Successful Managers Do

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Has this ever happened to you? You go to speak to your boss, a colleague or even someone in your personal life and youmy boss and me feel they’re not listening. How does that make you feel? Not very good I suspect.

When I bring this up in a management seminar, some managers start to feel a bit uncomfortable.

Now I know you know this stuff, but I’m going to prick you conscience.

Here comes the lecture

If you want to have a good relationship with the people in your team or even your customers, colleagues, friends and family, then you need to be a good listener.

You need to look and sound like you’re listening. When face to face you need to look interested, nod your head and keep good eye contact. Over the phone you need to make the occasional – ‘Uh-Huh – I see.’

I’ve seen managers, when faced with a problem from a team member, start to do something else, like work on the computer. I’ve also heard managers say – ‘It’s okay, I can do two things at once, I can listen to you and work on the computer.’

Maybe you can, but the message your team member gets is – ‘My problem isn’t that important, my manager just isn’t interested.’ (Are you starting to feel bad?)

When you’re spending time with people you need to give them your full attention. You need to look them in the eye, concentrate on them and make them feel that what they say is important and deserves your attention.

Get the pen and paper out

As well as looking interested in your team member’s or your customer’s problem, it’s a good idea to write it down.

I’ve fallen into the trap of thinking – ‘I’ll remember that when I get back to the office and I’ll check it out.’

However, one person I was with said – ‘You wont do anything about what I’ve said Alan because you wont remember it.’

From that point on I wrote things down.

It’s also a good idea to paraphrase – to repeat back what the person has said to ensure your understanding and let them know you’ve been listening.

It may seem like a simple thing but it’s very important to use names. You could say in response to a problem – ‘I’ll speak to the accounts department about that.’

Its far better to say – ‘I’ll speak to the accounts department about that Susan, thank you for bringing it to my attention.’

That’s a much better way for a caring manager to act.

A person’s name is one of the warmest sounds they hear. It says – ‘I recognize you as an individual.’

However, don’t overdo it as it may come across as patronizing.

So just some food for thought.

Many people believe that to be a good communicator you need to be a good speaker when in fact – you need to be a great listener!

Excerpt from How to be a  Motivational Manager51zNGdLr4YL._SL300_311

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Don’t be Scared – Let Your Employees Get to Know You

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When I’m running a training course, particularly a two or a five day course, I’m often surprised by the participant’s Office lifeinterest in me. Sometimes I think it’s just polite conversation however, most of the time that doesn’t seem to be the case. They always want to know how old I am for some reason, and of course, I tell a lie!

Many of your employees will want to know about you at both a personal and business level. That doesn’t mean sharing your intimate thoughts, but it’s similar to the things you want to know about them.

Even although your team members don’t ask you about yourself, tell them. Reveal bits and pieces about yourself over a period of time. Good professional speakers know this. They let their audiences know various things about themselves that show their idiosyncrasies or little mistakes they’ve made.

What you’re really saying is, ‘I’m human, I’m like you, I experience the same situations.’

A lady approached me after one of my Presentation Skills seminars. She said, ‘I was really interested when you said you were nervous before giving a speech; that made me feel so much better knowing you’re just like me.’

Your team members want to know that you’re just like them. This is not detrimental to your role as a manager or team leader, in fact, it enhances it.

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Mind Your Manners for More Sales

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Is it just me, or are people’s manners deteriorating?sales

It never fails to amaze me the number of people who have forgotten how to say ‘please’ or ‘thank you.’ It was drummed into me as a kid by my mother and father and I can’t break the habit, not that I’d want to.

Maybe I’m just old fashioned, and perhaps poor manners are acceptable to some people in a personal situation.

But in business it is totally unacceptable. That is, of course, if you want more customers and more sales!

Let me give you an example:

I was at a business meeting one evening, probably at the Chamber of Commerce. It ended up with all the usual standing around, trying to balance a drink, eat food from a plate and “network”.

When people ask – ‘What do you do?’ I try to keep it to a minimum and find out more about them – like a good networker should!

This particular husband and wife were telling be about their accountancy business and how difficult it was to find new clients.

They asked me for some advice on how to find new clients and build their business. So I made some suggestions and asked them if they’d like a copy of an e-book I’d written. It’s called – How to Get More Sales Using the Five Factors of Success (And you can have a copy if you send me an email).

They said they’d love a copy; so the next day I sent them an email with some other ideas and a copy of the e-book.

I never heard from them again!

Perhaps the email didn’t get through. Perhaps they didn’t find the e-book useful. Perhaps they gave up their business and found themselves a proper job.

Or perhaps they just forgot their manners!

I’ve been asked in the past if I could recommend a good accountant and other business services. I usually come up with a few names of people I’ve met and been impressed with, or businesses I’ve used.

But I certainly won’t be recommending the husband and wife accountants that I met.

Small business people keep telling me that word of mouth recommendations are very important in their business. But you need to take actions that encourage more and more word of mouth.

That’s why it’s so important to make a positive impression on everyone you meet.

Perhaps they won’t be able to do business with you, but they might know someone who does.

And making a positive impression means – minding your manners!


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How YouTube can be a Marketing Tool for Small Business

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If you want more customers and more sales, then you need to get your business on

It doesn’t cost anything and you don’t need expensive equipment. You can make your video using most compact cameras or your phone.

Check out this Guest Blog for more information:

YouTube becomes the go-to source for everything from music to sports highlights to kitten videos, it’s important for small business owners to get their marketing message in visual form. Yet though YouTube’s popularity has exploded, few entrepreneurs are taking full advantage.

Cynthia Nevels, who runs a marketing firm, taught a class at Mountain View College in Dallas on small business marketing, and  knows firsthand how few entrepreneurs are fully utilizing video. “The women in my class were 27 to 60 years old, and 100% of them were business owners. Yet over 50% of them had never visited YouTube for small business purposes.”

Read more at:


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Focus on Outcomes For Business Success

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Are you absolutely clear as a business owner or manager, what outcomes you want?focus on success magnifying glass

Whether you call them goals, objectives or targets, these are the factors that you’re ultimately judged on.

Outcomes determine whether you have business success or you fail.

If you’re an employed manager, you’ll find them in your job description or contract and I’m sure your boss will concentrate on them at your next performance review.

Outcomes are what you’re paid to achieve.

Don’t get distracted

Many business owners and managers allow themselves to be distracted and diverted from their outcomes. They get involved in all sorts of situations that take their eye off the ball.

I regularly run a workshop for managers called Managing Your Priorities. At the start of the workshop I ask the managers to draw a map on a large sheet of flip chart paper of all the things they do in their job. They almost inevitably fill that page with all sorts of tasks and activities. More often than not they surprise themselves with what’s on the page.

I then ask them to identify and mark with a large cross, their real priorities, and the outcomes that they’re ultimately judged on. Out of all the tasks and activities on the page they usually cross only five or six priorities and sometimes less. (You might want to try this exercise yourself sometime).

It’s not my fault

What we do find however is that the priorities that they cross are not allocated the time they deserve on a day to day basis. The managers will often blame their senior manager for many of the tasks which divert them from their priorities, which is perfectly fair.

However there are many tasks that a manager takes on because –

  1. They don’t like to say ‘no’
  2. They don’t trust anyone else to do it
  3. They just like to do it themselves.

I then spend time in the workshop showing managers how to communicate with their senior manager and their other colleagues in order to minimize the number of tasks that don’t contribute to their outcomes.

You have to ask yourself. ‘Who runs your mind; is it you or is it somebody else?’

My manager will understand

Many managers fall into the trap of believing that their manager will understand why they haven’t hit their target or quota. They seem to think that because the senior manager has handed out all sorts of other tasks, then they’ll accept your failure to achieve your target.

Well let me tell you now – they won’t!

Some business owners believe that their bank manager or investors will understand all the reasons why they haven’t achieved their business outcomes.

However, as I’m sure you know, bank managers and investors only want to hear that you have achieved what you said you’d do.

The successful business owner or manager keeps totally focused on outcomes and doesn’t allow anyone or anything to divert them without good reason.



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