What is the value of print in an increasingly paperless world?

An international 2017 study revealed print brought readers greater enjoyment, deeper understanding of a product, and more willing engagement.

  • 68% of people say they do not pay attention to online ads
  • 57% do their best to avoid them.
  • Conversely, 52% prefer to read product catalogs in print
  • 45% of consumers said they like receiving personally addressed advertising or leaflets
  • 46% said they would be more likely to respond after seeing a newspaper or magazine ad (versus viewing the same copy online).

As you craft print messages, how can you build rapport with readers?

A 2014 Edelman Brandshare survey found that the majority of consumers are suspicious of brands’ intentions (only 30% believed companies had a sincere commitment to customers). With this in mind, your marketing should focus less on giving information and more on building trust.

Make Your Marketing All About Your Customers

To create the best possible experience so your prospects are ready to buy, begin with a deliberate focus on the audience (not the company) and invest intentional energy to discover who you are actually talking to.

How do you do this?

By detailing exactly who your target markets are: chronicling their pain points, struggles, or aspirations, and articulating how you can provide a delightful solution or experience for them.

3 Steps for Building Customer Personas

Here are three steps for building customer personas:

1. Ask the Right Questions

Building accurate personas means identifying what your ideal customers have in common, how you can address their desires, and how your products or content can solve their problems.

Ask questions like:

  • What do my ideal customers desire? What do they need help with?
  • What is our target demographic? What are their hobbies or interests? What risks or decisions are they navigating?
  • What professional, personal, or family challenges are they facing? What stirs their emotions (like fear, excitement, or pride)?

Focusing on identity keys makes it easier to develop high-level content that set a relevant tone and cuts to the heart.

2. Talk to People

Once you craft sample personas, go directly to current clients (via calls, e-mail, online chats, or through your sales reps) and find out as much as you can.

Test your assumptions, look for common threads, and write down individual phrases or stories people share. Fill in the gaps and gather as much information as possible.

3. Condense and Consolidate

Once you’ve gathered data, comb through and collate.

Look for common themes like concerns, hopes, desires, challenges. At this stage, craft a rough draft of several marketing personas (at least three to start with).

Brainstorm attributes for each persona, make a succinct list of identity keys, and list connection points your brand can make with these people. Name each persona (i.e. Sarah Student, Soccer Mom Sally, Broker Bill) or add images to make them come alive.

Finding Common Ground

Ultimately, humanized marketing is about delivering the type of messages your audience wants to engage with in mediums they trust the most.

Personas also give you a launchpad for asking the right questions and giving them the power to “win” as they choose for themselves.

In the words of Jeffrey Gitomer, author of The Sales Bible:

“People don’t like to be sold to, but they love to buy.”

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Once there was a businessman on a routine domestic flight.

Though a seasoned flyer, he felt tense when, shortly after takeoff, the pilot asked everyone to stay in their seats with belts fastened. Moments later the pilot announced there would be no beverage service due to unexpected turbulence. People looked worried, and soon some were shrieking with alarm as a storm bounced the plane erratically.

Nearby, the man saw a little girl sitting all alone, but acting totally calm. When the plane jolted she closed her eyes briefly but eventually started reading, looking out the window, or fiddling with toys until the shaking subsided.

After the flight, the girl waited quietly as others exited. When the man approached and asked how she could be so brave, she said:

“My dad is the pilot, and he is taking me home.”

Weather the Storms

Does your team trust that you are taking them home?

When the clouds form and turbulence comes, do your people trust you to guide them through? Building trust may not be on your regular “to do” list, but it can cement a foundation so you can build high and strong.

Here are five tips to increase trust in your workplace or family today:

1. Show your vulnerabilities.

Great leaders are connected leaders, and people relate more with your weaknesses than your strength.

To truly connect with people you serve, it’s important to share not just strengths and victories but struggles and setbacks. Admit your mistakes. Apologize. Be proactive about gathering negative feedback. And use your own errors to teach or encourage others.

2. Regularly delegate authority.

Give trust to get trust.

If you run a regular staff meeting, occasionally have others develop the agenda or lead the discussion. No one enjoys a micromanager who constantly takes credit or dominates others. Step back into the shadows and you will build a wealth of relational currency.

3. Be transparent about money.

Sharing financial information can be a huge boon to the bottom line.

However, a 2016 study found that only 25 percent of privately held companies were sharing financial information with all of their employees. Whether your firm is publicly-traded or privately-held, the time you spend explaining and talking about results will allow team members to feel they are a valuable, integral part of your circle. And it helps people understand how they can positively impact the financial performance of the business as a whole.

4. Operate from a visible set of values.

If your firm lacks clear values, define them.

Mount them on walls, design strategic symbols to communicate them, or put a face on them by sharing testimonies of team members who are living the values. People thrive when they have context for their work and its importance to the bigger picture.

5. Don’t let difficult issues linger.

When times get tough, the clock on your credibility starts ticking.

Don’t allow difficult situations to corner you – instead confront them head-on and get your team involved too. The formation of problem-solving groups can energize your staff and provide opportunities to reward creativity and individual contributions. Groups can be tasked with brainstorming strategies or exploring new models.

If your “difficult issue” is a person, be intentional about heading off conflicts immediately. Be hard on the problem and soft on the person. Be assertive but courteous, addressing specific complaints and providing clear expectations about the response and timeframe needed to resolve them.

Trust is built through daily interactions and intentional gestures. You have many opportunities to gain trust each day. Work hard in the small things and you’ll weather storms with confidence!

When you call someone on the phone, are you glad when they pick up? If you had to pay for each call, would you be especially glad when they picked up?

Marketing is essentially a call to your customers, a financial investment you make in hopes that people will “pick up.”

And print is one of the best mediums for engaging your audience.

Direct mail response rates for print are much higher than e-mail response rates (4.4% versus 0.12%). 60% of consumers said receiving and handling tangible objects leaves a lasting mental impression on them. And 57% of people say they feel more valued when they receive print marketing from brands.

When you place a call, are your customers picking up?

When you send advertising through print, you’ll have a better estimate if you are tracking responses. Every business using print marketing needs an effective testing system. Tracking your marketing will help you answer two questions:

  • Are your marketing dollars resulting in leads or conversions?
  • What specific parts of your marketing are responsible for prospect visits or sales revenue?

Four Ways to Track Your Print Marketing

Here are four ways to find out:

1. Unique Promo Codes

Promo codes are like hashtags, but better.

They are fun, expressive, and they bring tangible savings to your clients. Offer distinct coupon codes in print pieces you want to test, and be sure the call to action is strong and clear (e.g., “Get 25% off patio decor by presenting this card in stores or using the code ‘LOVE25PATIO’). If your customer uses the code, you’ll know they’ve responded.

2. QR Codes

How do you build bridges between digital and print advertising?

One easy technique is to include a QR code to drive traffic to your landing page. By adding these handy tools to your flyers, postcards, or brochures, you can track relevant info while storing data, location, and text. You can also experiment with social media hashtags to track success and increase online engagement.

3. Distinct Online Landing Pages

Online landing pages can be created specifically for promotion through your print ad (for example, see Uber’s landing page targeting new riders here).

While your website homepage typically offers an introduction to your business, a promotional landing page:

  • Is designed to receive traffic from specific sources
  • Prompts visitors to take one well-defined action
  • Stays focused on a single topic or offer
  • Omits or downplays site navigation options

Beyond narrow landing pages, you can also record general web traffic during a campaign to note whether a spike in visits may indicate a particular ad’s effectiveness.

4. Asking Customers

Want to know what’s on their mind? Ask them!

While you may not be able to connect with every customer, take time to ask new clients how they heard about your business. Speak with people face-to-face and you may gain insight into their motivations, frustrations, or preferred benefits.

Also consider adding a drop-down element to your website to ask how customers were introduced to your business (direct mail, word-of-mouth, social media, etc). Finally, including a unique “point of contact” email address or phone number (specific to the campaign) on your print materials to make response tracking easier.

Record and Recalibrate

From big business to small firms, every business using print should track and recalibrate based on results.

Print ads are more compelling when they use clear calls to action and high-quality pieces. Ready to set up a campaign with distinct tracking points? We’re happy to help if you have questions! 

In 2014, an animated film titled “Super Amma” was created to teach mothers in rural India the importance of consistent hand-washing.

Because families had no running water (and typically only used soap when dirt was visible), changing mindsets was a daunting task. The solution? Health officials put together an inspirational animated film starring “Super Amma,” a mother who loved and cared for her son, eventually helping him grow up to become a doctor.

Dubbed “an extraordinary tale of an ordinary mother,” Super Amma used the powerful appeal of a nurturing mother to forge an emotional connection between regular handwashing and a mom’s desire to care for her children. Initially rolled out in 14 villages, the results were better than expected. Six months after the first campaign, 37% of families were regularly washing their hands with soap.

Emotional Connection Rules All

All of us understand the power of emotions.

They drive us to pursue dreams, keep us from making destructive choices, and can easily nudge us in a particular direction when we make decisions.

Marketers can use emotions like vital arrows when advertising a particular product or service. But to build an emotional connection with your audience, you need to understand what’s motivating your buyers. What are they hoping to achieve? What feelings are they searching for with your product or service?

According to MEG research, there are three key motivators that affect most buyers: trust, confidence, and empathy. How could you use one or two of these emotional triggers to move your core buyers?

Emotional Trigger: Trust.

Move Customer to Believe: “Acme Company is a company I can depend on. I trust that they’ll do what I say.”

Trust is a powerful motivator! Share hard facts, testimonials, stories, and convincing benefits to show prospects that placing their confidence in you is a worthwhile decision.

Slogan example: “You’re in good hands with Allstate.”

 

Emotional Trigger: Confidence.

Move Customer to Believe: “I have confidence that Acme Company has the expertise to meet my needs and the tools to do it with excellence.”

When seeking to sell a product or service, your goal is to convince buyers that your marketing claim is credible and so is your company. Move prospects from believing that your product brings results to believing it can bring results for THEM.

Slogan example: “Stronger hair, stronger you. For hair that shines with all its strength.” (Garnier)

 

Emotional Trigger: Empathy.

Move Customer to Believe: “Acme Company understands my present situation, and is there to walk me through purchasing decisions and service support after I make a commitment.”

It’s not about you, it’s about THEM. To make lasting emotional connections with customers, show that you understand where they are coming from and demonstrate how what you offer solves their problem.

Slogan example: “Make quitting suck less.” (Nicorette nicotine replacement therapy products.)

Use Print to Get to the Heart

Statistics show that emotional marketing campaigns are nearly twice as effective as those that have a rational focus, and print ads that generate an emotional response outperform other ads by a factor of 2-to-1.

When you recognize the key motivators of your audience, identify similarities among those who respond to your brand and speak to their desired emotional benefit.

By getting to the heart of your audience (causing prospects to buy-in to more than just the logical “result” of your product) you go from simply conveying a message to evoking a response.

Over the last two years, there has been a great buzz about 37-year-old tennis phenom Serena Williams.

Williams has 23 Grand Slam titles and a dominant career, ranked number one for 319 weeks over 15 years. In 2017, Williams gave birth to her first daughter. Many wondered how motherhood would affect her career. Would she return with the same fight? Would she return at all?

Williams roared back to the semi-final of the 2018 U.S. Open and quickly regained top 10 rankings. Fans worldwide were inspired by her courage and moved by her transparency about her struggles.

Faced with a Crossroads

In life, you will face discouragement, wondering, “Is it time to quit? Should I alter my path or press on through resistance?”

On one hand, redirecting can be wise, helping you avoid harm or consider better alternatives. Conversely, quitting might weaken your character or prevent you from realizing an achievement that’s closer than you think.

Walter Mallory, an associate of inventor Thomas Edison, was expressing regret that the first nine thousand experiments with a battery yielded few results. Edison had a different perspective:

“Results! Why, man, I have gotten a lot of results! I have found several thousand things that won’t work!”

To Fish or Cut Bait?

Politician Newt Gingrich said, “perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did.”

Pressing on in a project can build character, enhance your skill set, and build confidence that can only come through trial. The best leaders are those who’ve been tested.

When tempted to quit, ask yourself whether other alternatives seem tangible or rewarding. Does a change seem realistic? Could you tweak certain variables to make a situation more bearable? Perhaps your moments of greatest discouragement are those when you’re actually closest to breakthrough!

But whoever said “quitters never win” may have been wrong. Quitting is scary, but sometimes continuing is worse. Stubbornness can destroy important relationships, blind you to better alternatives, or make you oblivious to your destruction. It might be time to quit when:

  • Continuing will destroy friendships, family, health, or your character
  • Despite loads of effort, you don’t see results
  • You find yourself growing numb to red flags
  • Proceeding may eliminate other options
  • You’ve lost all joy or energy

In 2010, Mexican golfer Lorena Ochoa shocked fans when she retired at 28. At that time, she was ranked number one in the world, a winner of two major championships and millions in prize money.

An impulsive decision? Ochoa says no. From early in her career, Ochoa wanted to marry and raise a family without golf, projecting about 10 years on the tour.

“ . . . For me, getting married and having a family, that was more important,” Ochoa said. “Now that I’m a mother, I wouldn’t change that for anything in the world and I feel blessed. I’m really, really happy that I made the decision at the right time and now I can enjoy 100% this second stage of my life.”

Looking back, Ochoa said knowing there was a definite “end” actually helped her game:

“When I was in a difficult position and I was either upset or tired or angry or disappointed, I keep saying, ‘OK, y’know I have three or four years left. I’m going to do it and continue and I’m going to put everything into it’ . . . When I look back and I see what I did, I just feel even luckier because I made the right decision at the perfect time.”

Ochoa’s courage may inspire you to think of it this way: perhaps it’s time to quit when saying no to the good means you can say YES to the best.

Nothing was going right at the plate for Dave Concepcion, the shortstop for the Cincinnati Reds.

About a month into the 1976 season, he was suffering a hitting slump, a plague of physical and mental anguish that had frittered away his batting average to around .150. The Reds were in Chicago, where the Cubs had a large industrial gas-operated clothes dryer in the stadium. Feeling goofy, Concepcion hopped in the dryer and called to his teammates. “Hey! Maybe this will help me get hot.”

Going along with the gag, Pat Zachry, the pitcher, hit the side of the switch, pretending to turn on the machine. With a puff of smoke, sparks flew, the machine whirred and began to rotate with Concepcion inside.

”I’ll never forget it,” said Zachry. ”Davey started spinning, and I froze with my eyes bugging out. Oh, it was terrible. Then I banged the side of the switch again. And the machine stopped.

”Davey went out that day and got four for five,” said Zachry. “And for weeks it was almost impossible to get him out. I tell him now that I made him the player he is today.”

Fast-Track Productivity in Unconventional Ways

No one in baseball or business is certain how slumps happen, but it’s helpful to know how to react when they do. Especially if you see trends that repeat each year.

Here are four creative options to fast track productivity if your momentum is slow this summer:

1. Engage in pro bono opportunities that enhance your products, services, and relationships.

In slowdown seasons, invest company time in something that will pay off.

Who are your target customers or VIP account holders? Approach these contributors and offer to host a free training event or professional engagement that will put your products and people in the limelight. Another alternative is to select core clients and offer to enhance your services for them for no cost.

2. Do non-profit work for your best customer’s charity of choice.

Slow periods are an ideal time to invest people equity in causes that matter.

During your down times, partner with agencies that your clients value and offer volunteer hours, free professional services, or mentoring that can make these organizations stronger.

3. Stretch your team’s skills.

When activity wanes, morale often follows.

Invigorate employees by offering on-going education opportunities, professional mentoring within your team, or innovation labs that mobilize groups to tackle some of your most ambitious goals.

Take time to refresh decor, business cards, or your website, and involve your team in designing these pieces. Here you’ll strengthen your products, catalyze creative thinking, or upgrade inefficient systems.

4. Network or collaborate with other professionals.

Finally, as your business weathers change, remember that other entrepreneurs may be in the same boat.

Find like-minded friends and cook up a multi-site promotion to bring people back. Network and learn from people in your community or industry while you have extra time. Or trade services and train one another in ways that are mutually beneficial.

Want to make the most of each day? By reaching out, stretching your team, or collaborating with others, you’ll sharpen your skills and fortify your very best relationships.

Did you use Play-doh as a child?

Ever inadvertently leave your simple shapes to harden in the open air? Though your brittle pieces later crumbled, a simple finishing process would have sustained them for centuries. Ceramic firing transforms malleable clay into a rock-hard, durable substance. The additions of underglaze, luster, and around 930 degrees Fahrenheit can vitrify clay creations from goo to gorgeous, glass-like pieces that are impervious to water and time.

In ceramics and in print, the finishing process is nearly as important as the design itself. Finishing refers to the services applied to your print piece after the ink hits the paper. These can be added before or after the paper comes off the press, and examples of finishing services include aqueous or UV protection coatings, binding or collating, trimming or folding, stamping, laminating, perforating, mounting, or coatings like matte or satin varnishes.

Fabulous Finishing Techniques in Design and Print

In the past, many of the rock-star finishing options were impossible for the budget-conscious customer.

Things like die-cutting, embossing, or foil stamping options were saved for the fanciest invitations or a “lifestyles of the rich and famous” print run. Today, however, technology has transformed ordinary printing, decreasing the time and expense it takes to create textured, fabulous pieces.

Ready to take your work up a notch but not sure what your options include? Here is a basic menu of finishing services accessible to you today:

Trimming or Die-Cutting

Trims can be used to shear or reduce a printed piece along crop lines, page borders, or into a unique or fun shape that expresses your brand (like business cards in the shape of a coffee cup).

Foil Stamps or Blocking

This process is creating by pressing metal dies (or colored foil) onto a surface with a heated die. This process is used mostly to enhance typography and logos.

Embossing or Debossing

This allows you to press an image into a paper or card to create a three-dimensional design.

Embossing results in a raised surface while debossing brings a depressed (indented) surface. This is a great way to give your design impressive dimension and texture.

Perforation or Unique Folds

Perforating creates a series of fine holes to allow a portion of the printed piece to be easily detached (think coupons, ID cards, RSVP slips, or ticketing items).

Non-traditional fold options include everything from accordion and zig-zag styles to overlapping or tapered die-cuts that create wonderful visual texture. Looking for inspiration? A quick conversation with our design team will undoubtedly spark creativity!

Laminating or Binding

Laminating binds clear plastic film onto printed matter to improve durability and protect it against smudges, wrinkles, or tears.

Binding options include anything from a simple staple or comb binding to saddle stitching, screw binding, combs, spirals, and more.

Varnish and Coating Options

Commercial print applications (like brochures, business cards, and packaging options) typically apply a protective coat that seal the ink and enhance visual appeal.

Coatings range from basic machine and aqueous varnishes to UV coatings and high build varnishes that have the appearance of water or wax. Confusing? No problem. Our experts can guide you through the best varnish or coating options for your particular project.

Ready to turn heads with a resounding finish? Go big and bold to make your next printing soar.

Businesses need promotional items to help reach out to potential customers and clients – it’s just a fact.

Promotional products allow people to see your brand and remember you, drawing a whopping 500% more referrals from customers who are satisfied with the gift. Like a business card with a bang, clever promotional products build goodwill, name recognition, and expanded brand exposure.

But, sometimes the biggest barrier to distributing great products is finding the right idea.

Looking for affordable and effective items to catch the attention of your prospects? Here are seven promo products to bring heat to your marketing mix this summer:

1. Zip-Front Drawstring Bags

Want your brand to travel with people as they go?

High-quality, colorful, customized drawstring bags will get your message circulating! Sturdy but lightweight, these comfortable, machine washable bags are great for goodie bags, thank you gifts, and life on the go.

Zipper pouches make the bags more convenient, accessible, and fun. Add coupons or gift incentives to bring more traffic your way.

2. Clip & Go Hand Sanitizers

Try a squeaky-clean message on promotional hand sanitizer!

Travel-size hand sanitizers can be stashed in totes, diaper bags, backpacks, and purses for a little germ-fighting squirt before meals, after handling animals, or when spending time in public.

Hand sanitizer promotional products are effective message-bearers for restaurants, doctors’ offices and health clinics, independent contractors, and more.

3. Customized Lip Balms

From flavorful scents to serious sun protection, promotional lip balm is affordable, enjoyable, and always in style.

Perfect for health professionals, dental promotions, and all of your trade show needs, customized balms can give their lips some serious love.

4. Water Bottles & Tumblers

Promotional water bottles are a smart giveaway item that boosts your branding efforts at racing events, school activities, corporate outings, trade shows, or anywhere thirsty patrons travel.

Choose shapes, sizes, or lid styles from any variety of materials, including stainless steel tumblers, water bags with attachable carabiners, vacuum insulated copper travelers, and so much more.

5. Absorbent Snap Cooling Tool

Lightweight and refreshing, cooling towels bring a consistent cooling effect that lasts for hours.

Wet it, wring it, and snap to activate. Great for the gym, in the field, or on the go, this high-performance product will stand the test of time.

6. Pocket Notebooks

Want to keep your name at their fingertips?

Handy mini-pocket notebooks are sure to stick around. Try eco-friendly custom recycled notebooks, custom debossed mini journals, or jotter pads with attached pens. Make your product useful and your name will be a companion and stays close at hand.

7. Stadium Cushions

Want to switch it up and get more than just your logo noticed?

Stadium cushions offer a soft place to land for customers who will love you immensely when enjoying this gift. From traditional cushions to amusing shapes, stadium cushions make your logo pop against a minimalist background. From law firms and insurance agencies to VIP customer or employee picnic giveaways, this giveaway will be their grab-and-go for outdoor concerts and sporting events of every kind.

Want to know more? We’re here to simplify your shopping experience and bring your brand to life! Give us a call today to learn more.

While you may not be able to launch a 3D billboard and party-train campaign, you can to stop traffic with 3D elements and hot design trends from 2019.

Here are four animated styles with practical examples to try in your next printed piece.

Three-Dimensional Designs

3D works seem to be everywhere right now: entire compositions that have so much depth, you can’t help but reach out and touch them.

Examples include 3D typography (that works with any kind of font rendering), metallic 3D pipes pulsing with neon electricity, or effervescent 3D poster compositions that jump off the page and make it impossible to look elsewhere.

Asymmetrical Layouts

While rigid designs have been standard for several years, layouts that break free from the predictable grid are now soaring in popularity.

Asymmetrical balance results from using unequal visual weight on each side of your page. For example, one side might contain a dominant element, which is balanced by lesser focal points or light elements on the other.

Asymmetrical balance is more dynamic and interesting. It evokes feelings of modernism, movement, vitality, and curiosity as viewers pause to peruse the design. Box elements within a page, stepped or tabbed layering, or the powerful use of negative space are all strategies for creating products that feel more customized and alive.

Open Compositions

Ready to throw off decaying designs of the past?

For years, illustrators have put frames around design elements, encasing them in boxes, frames, and in strict order. Today, viewers crave open, airy designs which seem to offer only part of the whole picture.

Allow your layouts to embrace white space with elements that feel loosely connected or even chaotic. Play with composition to make each part look like it’s continuing off the page to infinity. This allows viewers to engage with your image, using their imagination to wonder what else is out there.

Duotones and Gradients

In the 90s, gradients were a popular way to add color and depth to designs.

They came back in a big way in 2018, enhancing flat designs, adding color overlays to photos, and adding texture to backgrounds of all kinds. Gradients, or “color transitions,” are a gradual blending from one color to two or three others, blending similar colors (like different shades of blue) or completing contrasting colors (like purple and red). Gradients can be bold or subtle, modern or rustic, the focal point or the background. They can be used in logos, packaging, business cards, or photo overlays.

Find your favorite color schemes and go to town, because the energy of these stunning color transitions can elevate the vivacity of any design.

It’s an exciting time for design, especially when technology continues to allow us to push the limits. Have fun experimenting and make 2019 a year to look your best in print!

Want to liven up your next dinner party?

Just ask people for their “worst boss” stories. Here are some painful (anonymous) stories from those who’ve lived to share:

“When I was an intern at a PR firm, my manager would make me run her personal errands (pick up dry cleaning, ship things, drive her and her friends to SXSW events, etc.). She would get my attention by calling me ‘Intern.’ Needless to say, when they asked me to stay on full-time, I politely declined.”

“I once had a boss who multi-tasked in meetings by being on her phone and present in the meeting. In both 1:1’s and in group settings she would shift her attention constantly from the speaker to her phone—back and forth, back and forth . . . At first, I just thought she was extremely busy, and it was the only way for her to get everything done—until one day, I caught her doing crossword puzzles on her phone while doing a check-in with me.”

“I once had a boss who, while I was replying to a question addressed to me by their boss in a meeting, actually put their hand less than an inch in front of my face to silence me so that they could answer instead.”

Whether you’re the CEO, an intern, or a new manager, working with others is a key part of success in every job. But managing well while empowering others requires a delicate balance.

Beyond learning the names of your interns, here are four tweaks you can make in your leadership.

Listen

Good listening is essential to management, and it begins long before you start a meeting.

Keys to listening well include generating questions in advance, keeping an open mind, and not jumping to conclusions before or during conversations. Don’t assume you know what someone is thinking; instead, listen with the intent of understanding before “solving.” And give your team conversational breathing room by personally checking in for “no good reason” on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. You may be surprised by what they share!

Pair Criticism with Compliments

The Harvard Business Review says a good rule of thumb is to give more praise than criticism, but surveys show that 40% of respondents claim they never gave positive reinforcement.

People need a balance of both praise and criticism in order to thrive. Top performing teams typically give five positive comments for every critique.

Distinguish Between Personal and Organizational Issues

Employees will have challenges, and it’s your job to address them.

But workplace problems are typically either personal or organizational and treating them differently can be hugely helpful. Personal problems should be handled with compassion and accountability. But organizational issues may involve hiring, restructuring, or strategic planning. Don’t confuse bad attitudes with bad workflow policies!

Finish Meetings with a Question

Want to boost communication in your team?

Conclude every meeting with this question: is there anything else? Whatever is top of mind (concerns, challenges, excitement) will bubble to the surface quickly. This question signals you care and gives people permission to share things that aren’t explicitly on the agenda. Try it and see what happens!

From mediating personality clashes to enabling great leaders, your management skills are the key to growing great teams. Keep the conversations flowing as you encourage others, and your business will flourish.