Author Archives: Tigard Chamber of Commerce

How in the World Do I Increase Employee Productivity?

Employee Productivity

It’s holiday time as I write this and countless employees across various industries have told me they aren’t in the mood to work. Sound familiar? Even if your employees haven’t been so brash as to tell you this, it’s likely their struggling. And if they’re struggling, your business is too.

But you don’t want to come off as Ebenezer Scrooge!

So how do you get your employees more focused and productive without alienating them and decreasing morale? It takes a balance but these productivity and motivation tips can get you through the holidays and all the other times as well.

5 Ways to Improve Employee Productivity and Motivation

First, decide what it is that your team and culture are lacking. Are they meeting customer needs or exceeding them? Are they adhering to their job description but not doing anything that is wowing you? Is it an individual or the whole team that needs help? Understanding the source and the depth of the productivity/motivation issue is essential to curing it.

For instance, if it’s one person and nothing you try is changing it, the solution may be as simple as switching out that person. However, if it’s an entire team, the issue is much deeper than a single hiring situation.  

Communicate Expectations

Often job expectations can be found in the job description, but not always. If your culture is one that the employee should pitch in to help anyone who needs it, this should be communicated ahead of time. If the customer is always right, this too should be communicated. Whatever expectations you have for the team should be addressed early and often.

Knowing what’s expected of them will help them achieve their goals and feel like a valuable part of the team. On the other hand, having certain expectations that they don’t meet because they didn’t know about them, only serves to alienate the employee and bring on feelings of failure. That doesn’t make anyone more productive. 

Provide an Inspiring Work Environment

A safe, naturally-lit, comfortable, and clean workplace with few distractions is best for productive employees as a general rule. But it also can benefit you to know how your team works best. While studies have shown open workspaces aren’t the key to productivity for most people, especially introverts, they might be perfect for your group if they love brainstorming and creative collaboration. Talk to them and find out how they work best. Also, find out what’s important to them around the office. Sometimes a snack machine can make all the difference.  

Clear the Obstacles and Provide the Right Tools

A manager or boss’ job is two-fold, helping with professional development to make them the best employee possible and clearing the obstacles that impede employees from doing their jobs. Doing this will keep discouragement at bay and make them feel like you have their back. People work harder for those they feel protected by.

Deal with Issues Immediately

Never ignore a productivity issue believing it will go away. If you think a productivity issue exists because one of your employees is dealing with a personal problem, take the time to speak with them about it and find out if there’s anything you can do. In some cases, they may be eligible for leave while they straighten things out. While that’s not ideal, it’s better than having someone at your business who is bringing others down because of their lack of productivity and what others assume is you not addressing it.

If it’s seasonal, it still must be dealt with. Every day that you have an uninspired employee working for you is one more day a customer sees that lack of motivation as a reflection on you and your company. You can’t afford an off day so make sure everyone understands the importance of their role and how they fit in. This can be very inspiring.

On the other hand, if it’s not a personal problem but rather a bad attitude, you need to address it quickly before it begins to bring others down too. Don’t assume it will rectify itself. After all, misery loves company.

Give Rewards That Mean Something (to your employees)

Don’t assume what you love is what they will love. If you’re rewarding someone for doing something amazing, find out what means the most to them. Some love cash, while others want a day off.

Whatever they prefer, make sure you also recognize them in public. Yes, some people find this embarrassing but it’s necessary so that everyone knows why they are being singled out. It sets an example for the team.

If you’re struggling with employee productivity, it’s time to take action. Get to the bottom of the issues, clear the path to doing their job, and deal with issues decisively. When employees trust youo take care of matters, they will respond with more interest and desire to do a great job.


Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and WritersWeekly. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog.  

Christina is an introverted writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.

10 Things to Check Before Posting to Social Media

10 Things to Check Before Posting to Social Media

One of the most embarrassing things you can do on social media for your business is to mess up a post. For some of us, that might be a spelling or grammar mistake, for others, it may involve a humiliating auto-correct situation. For others still, it might mean giving away a company secret earlier than intended. Whatever it is that you’ve done or might do, you can ensure it doesn’t happen again with this handy social media post checklist.

Social Media Post Checklist

Very little can be taken back on social media. A mistake in a post can be embarrassing or deeply troubling to your PR department. It can alienate customers or cause them to question your professionalism. Before hitting send, post, or tweet, run your potential post through this handy checklist.

  1. Proofread before sending to avoid silly mistakes. We all love spell check but it’s not always enough. Spell check doesn’t always catch homonyms (words that sound alike but are spelled differently) and depending on your settings, it may not catch a misspelled word if you have it in caps or it is capitalized. Don’t forget to double-check auto-correct issues, especially when sending from your phone. However, never blame autocorrect for your mistakes as it usually only corrects your words with frequently used ones.
  2. Be funny, not offensive. Humor is great but not if it alienates customers, vendors, or partners. You can lose lucrative relationships over something as simple as a tweet. You’d be surprised how few second chances are given on social media.
  3. Use sarcasm sparingly and obviously. Are you saying what you mean? What is your tone conveying? Is that the only way it could be interpreted? Sarcasm is very difficult to master in print or on social media. Just look at Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal where he <satirically> suggested eating children in order to solve the problems of famine and poverty in the early 1700s. Many believed his idea to be a serious proposal. It is much better to use the strong words you mean than to post something in jest. Meaning can be lost in social media unless you accompany it with some emotional clues like emojis.
  4. Check stats and claims. If you’re quoting a source make sure you haven’t transposed numbers or wrongly attributed a claim. Ensure you use a “not” if that’s what you mean. After all, there’s a big difference between 3 billion and .3 million as well as 83% of adults are on Facebook or 83% of adults aren’t on Facebook. There are also a lot of people on social media who enjoy correcting people.
  5. Check your quote. Quotes, especially image quotes, receive some of the biggest shares out there. However, before you attribute something to a famous person, check the sources. There are entire books written on this subject and some very famous quotes are often misattributed. For instance, Gandhi never said “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” and George Washington never claimed, “I cannot tell a lie, even on the internet.”
  6. Test the link. Always check your link by copying it into another tab and double-checking that it works. When you’re copying and pasting, it’s easy to copy and paste the wrong one or leave off the last character so checking is always advisable.
  7. Double check the image. When you’re using an image from elsewhere, wherever possible give attribution through a tag. Not only is it the polite thing to do, but it can help your business. It will call attention to your post and the original content creator will be made aware of you. They may even share your post. Even if you decide not to tag the original content creator, watch for watermarks. If there is one or you’re reposting something that’s been shared by multiple sharers, go to the original site mentioned in the post before you share it. You don’t want to share content that one of your followers could follow back to the original poster only to find it’s an unsavory group.
  8. Use scheduling software. If you use scheduling software, you’re not going live immediately. We all know there’s something inexplicable about posting. Your post looks perfect until you hit the post button then magically all of the errors are visible. (At least that’s how it seems.) If you use a scheduler instead of going live immediately, you’re creating a buffer that will help you see mistakes before they’re in someone’s stream. Many schedulers also have spell-check features.
  9. Use with permission. If you’re posting to social media, always use attributes for quotes and materials. Give the content creator credit for saying/writing it in the first place. That’s common courtesy. However, this becomes much more important when your posting is posting to a blog and not merely a quote. If you’re using a cartoon, song lyrics, more than 10% of a printed work, or an image, and you’re publishing it on a business blog, you should seriously consider getting permission from the content owner. If your usage is for educational purposes, the rights holder may be more lenient. But if you stand to make money off of it, don’t be surprised to receive a cease and desist letter. Grammar rules have become less enforced with social media. Copyright law has not. 
  10. Look at the published post. After you post your item, always double-check it again. Click on the links. Take another look at the spelling and grammar. Some social media platforms (like Facebook) allow you to edit your posts so you could save yourself some issues if you’re the one who catches it.

Finally, if after all of this checking something still escapes your attention and causes someone dismay, remedy the situation quickly. If it’s grammar thank them for their attention to detail and get it corrected. If it’s a public relations issue, consult the appropriate decision maker about how it should be handled. Remember, doing so quickly is your best course of action. That’s why so many businesses have a protocol in place on how to handle a social media faux pas. If you don’t, you should consider making those decisions ahead of needing them.


Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and WritersWeekly. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog.  

Christina is an introverted writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.

6 Things to Kill in Your Business for Better Customer Service

6 Things to Kill in Your Business for Better Customer Service

Surveys aren’t the way to good customer service. They might’ve been five years ago, but they’re being used with such an annoying regularity that no one wants to take part in them. But how do you improve your business’ customer service if you don’t know what your customers want? Trust us. There are other ways. Here are a few things you need to ditch in order to begin providing better service.

Surveys

As I just mentioned, surveys are overdone in 2018. Call the bank, they send a survey. Get the oil changed in your car, survey. Everything is a survey these days. Sure, you can get people to participate through free goods and discounts but no one wants to waste time telling you how to do your job.

Try this instead: try one-question, emoji-style ratings when you send a follow-up email thanking them for their business. Smiley face or sad face. Or use a clickable star rating the way Amazon or Goodreads does on their reviews. Then give them contact information to a real person if they have more to say. They can rate you in a second as well as ask for a follow-up.

Not Filling Empty Positions

When an employee leaves, there’s a time before you hire again while you’re searching for an ideal candidate. If that process becomes long and drawn out, co-workers are usually called upon to fill in the gaps. After this occurs for a while, management often thinks that position doesn’t need to be filled since everyone is managing fine. Unless you are making it worth the employees’ while financially, you are over-burdening the employee. Burnt out employees don’t provide good customer service, let alone excellent service.

Try this instead: as soon as the employee gives notice, begin the hiring process. As a preemptive solution, always have up-to-date job descriptions on file so there’s no time wasted writing them. Ask good employees for referrals. Fill that position or compensate the individuals who are taking on an increased workload.

Undisclosed Expectations

Everyone working for you should know two things: what’s expected of them (including how they’re measured against those expectations) and how you expect the customer to be treated.If they don’t know these things, it’s difficult to do their job.

Try this: Give employees processes and missions to go by so it is clear to them to what degree your company believes the customer is always right. This empowers them to do right by the customer on a level that you support, even if you’re not available to ask.

Excuses

If your employees are always making up excuses as to why something didn’t happen or why they’re not meeting expectations, your customers will grow tired of this. Customers recognize an excuse. Excuses never smooth over any of the ruffled feathers.

Try this: Ban certain language from your employees’ repertoire. Things like, “I’m new” or “That happened because X is new” don’t matter to customers. They don’t want an excuse. They want a solution. Make sure your employees are skilled at providing them.

Square Hole, Square Peg Thinking

Yes, protocols are essential to businesses operations but you also want your employees to be creative problem solvers. They should not feel hemmed in by rules that can never be bent. Sometimes, it is necessary to make allowances.

Try this: as mentioned earlier, let employees know how far they can go to do right by the customer. It’s important they feel empowered to act on the customer’s behalf.

“Not My Job” Mentality

The customer doesn’t care whose job it is. When they have a problem, they want it handled. There’s nothing more frustrating than an underling saying they can’t do anything or the customer being passed around the company explaining the issue each time.

Try this instead: even if the person answering the inquiry isn’t fully equipped to solve the issue, they should remain the main point of contact for the customer. The employee is the one who works for the company. They are the most skilled at dealing with peers and departments. Stay in good communication with the customer and allow one point person for customer convenience and relationship building. This way your customer will see them as an advocate for them.

If you want to start providing better customer service, think of the customer experience. Consider the things that bother you most about dealing with businesses. Then refrain from introducing those frustrations into your environment.


Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and WritersWeekly. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog.  

Christina is an introverted writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.

How to Give Your Business a Facelift

Businesses need to evolve periodically. Whether you like it or not, you have to look at the trends going on around us and make decisions accordingly. These decisions may involve reaching out to a new demographic, offering new services or products, or changing the way you do things like tailoring your marketing writing to Google’s ever-changing rules.If it’s been a while since you’ve innovated in your business, now might be the time to consider a facelift.

Many business owners embrace tradition and refuse to yield. That worked for Blockbuster, too. But seriously, no one stopped watching movies. They just changed the way they did it. The same may be true of your business. To keep from closing your doors, you need to watch for trends. Here are a few that may influence how you think about your business.
Three Not-So-New Trends That Are Shaping Today’s Businesses
When you talk innovation, very few people have the intestinal fortitude to be on the bleeding edge of adopting completely new approaches. That’s why this article features trends that aren’t so new that they haven’t been tested but are still new enough that they may give you some exciting ideas.
Subscription Boxes

If you sell products, you may have been watching this trend. Today, you can get hobbies, pet toys, clothing, beauty products, razors, books, teas, coffee, wine, fitness equipment, snacks, dinner, and so much more sent to you weekly or monthly. They have sample and full-sized boxes. Some companies allow you to control your selections, delivery frequency, preferences, and many other customizable options.

But for most of the boxes, you don’t know what’s coming in them until they arrive (or you see an early opener on YouTube). The boxes always boast a value of more than you pay for the subscription service.
Why it works: it surprises and delights recipients. Often it streamlines something they need or want and offers an attractive entry price. Many box services use word of mouth and offer discount codes to influencers in their target market like mommy bloggers or YouTube beauty experts.
Divesting Resources

It used to be when you started a company, you needed to invest in resources and other start-up expenses. These days, a new type of business is putting that onus on contractors. Airbnb, Uber, Lyft, and others aren’t ponying up the necessities for their business operation, contractors are. From homes to cars, boats to crafts, there are businesses that are building their entire empire on things they don’t own or need to worry about maintaining.
They pay their contractors a portion or charge them a fee to be listed on their site. Some of them cover the contractors under an insurance policy to ensure the property is protected but the contractor is in charge of their own maintenance, production, and other critical components.
Another idea that’s similar is how direct marketing companies work. They make the product and then have an army of contractors sell it for them. Each contractor runs their operation as a mini business adhering to the manufacturer’s rules for selling and they receive a commission when they move product.

Why it works: fewer start-up costs to hamper growth.

Reshaping a Mission
The final trend that more companies are embracing is telling their “why,” and in doing so, embracing a culture of giving back. Many businesses find a cause to support now and give a portion of proceeds (either of the whole business or a particular product line) to that group or cause.
Why this works: a study has found that young people (especially) are willing to pay more for a product that supports a good cause.
If it’s been a while since you rethought your business strategy, it might be time to open yourself up to some of the newer trends out there. These ideas won’t work for every business so consider your offerings and your target market before making any big decisions. However, you might just find that these ideas get you thinking about one that’s an even better fit for your operation.

Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and WritersWeekly. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog.
Christina is a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.