Technology is powerful - but it's when you unplug and focus on relationships that business gets done.

We are continuously 'connected' in every aspect of our lives. It is becoming increasingly important to find ways to unplug from our many devices and get back to focusing on building our relationships. In business, that means your relationships with your employees, your peers, your boss, your vendors, and your clients.  

Remote Employees
Technology allows companies to have employees work remotely - a great benefit to the employee in terms of flexibility, and to the company in terms of increased productivity. However, if employees are constantly called off hours and weekends for work issues they can burn out quickly. This leads to everything from decreased productivity, to health issues, to the employee leaving the company. Keep it balanced and focus on the relationship with your employee - only reach out off hours when it's truly an emergency, and be sure they are taking vacation time shortly after a stretch of long days working on a project or to meet a deadline. Make sure they are taking time to unplug.  You will build trust and loyalty - valuable commodities in any business.

In-Person Meetings
I am a huge believer in unplugging during meetings (the only exception being to pull up documentation or take notes on a laptop). So often people will sit in their offices or at their desk and dial-in to a meeting with people sitting in the same location. Get up. Go sit in the conference room with your colleagues without your electronics and have a discussion. For your remote employees, invite them to the office for key meetings as much as you can.  At a minimum, have a corporate wide event once a year to get people unplugged and in the same room.  I have seen year-long issues solved in days when people sit down and focus without the distractions of computers and phones...because talking to someone when you are sitting across a table from them is much different than emails or even phone calls.  Building your internal relationships makes your company stronger.

Client Visits
If you are only communicating with your clients through emails and phone calls, you are doing yourself an injustice.  This is one of the most important places for companies to unplug...get in front of your clients as much as your budget will allow. The most profitable clients are usually the ones that have a personal relationship with their sales and/or account management team. Take them to dinner, golf, a hockey game - these events help you build a personal relationship with your client team, and many a deal has been finalized on the golf course or over a steak dinner. 

Human Connection
Within 2 days, I heard a story on NPR about a family who instituted a no-electronics-rule every weekend, and a story on The Today Show about The Samaritans greeting commuters on the T in Boston to start their day off with a smile. We all have a need for human connection - in our personal lives and our professional lives.  Remember to unplug once in a while and keep your business relationships strong.

Debbie Millin is President of UpperLevel Solutions - a Boston-based firm offering part-time and interim Chief Operating Officer services, operational assessments and executive project leadership.

www.upperlevelsolutions.com

 
 
You are known as an expert in your field - for being the best at what you do.  Yet often the things we do so well for others we find difficult to do for ourselves.  The old 'the cobbler's children have no shoes' syndrome. 

This is especially true for those providing professional services. Take a look at your own business plan, your marketing plans, your website, your financial statements - whatever you spend so much time doing for your clients, take a moment to do it for yourself.  You may think you don't have time - that there are too many other things to do.  Make the time. Being your own customer not only gives you a new perspective on how your customers are viewing your processes and deliverables, it also makes your company better and stronger.

Make sure you are benefiting from your own wisdom!

Debbie Millin is President of UpperLevel Solutions - a Boston-based firm offering part-time and interim Chief Operating Officer services, operational assessments and executive project leadership.

www.upperlevelsolutions.com
 
 
It's Oscar season - a time when the movie industry recognizes the best and brightest in their field and showers praise on their performance over the past year.  In business we don't get to have a glamorous awards show, but it might be a good time to take stock of your own superstars.

Who are your best employees?  Take a look at your rising stars and what you are doing to let them know what you think of their work. An annual review is a great tool, but a little extra recognition can go a very long way - that can be anything from a handwritten note to a spot bonus. Could you nominate them for industry awards or local/regional business awards?  What are you offering for them in terms of professional development?  Be focused on retaining your top talent at all times and on making sure they know they are considered a star.

You should also look outside your company at your best clients and vendors - they are superstars too.  Let them know they are appreciated, take them out for lunch or dinner just as a thank you.  You can start off the year by bringing a smile to someone's face and building a stronger relationship with your most important partners.

Your superstars - inside and outside  your company -  keep your business running. Be sure you take care of them.

Debbie Millin is President of UpperLevel Solutions - a Boston-based firm offering part-time and interim Chief Operating Officer services, operational assessments and executive project leadership.

www.upperlevelsolutions.com
 

10 Words

01/09/2013

3 Comments

 
I recently saw an interview where the subject was asked to give 10 words that
described him.  I thought this was an interesting exercise - for individuals and
for businesses. 

What words would you use to describe your COMPANY?  Try using a site like
wordle.net to create a word cloud using text from your website or from company documentation or emails. You can limit the amount of words it pulls to the top 10, or you can have up to 150 words in your word cloud.  Does it create a picture that you want your business to portray, or do you want to shift your focus?  Are the top 10 items reflective of your top 10 strengths?

What are the 10 words you want  people to think of when it comes to your business?

Debbie Millin is President of UpperLevel Solutions - a Boston-based firm offering part-time and interim Chief Operating Officer services, operational assessments and executive project leadership.

www.upperlevelsolutions.com
 
 
In business and in life, we are faced with situations every day that require us to be brave and move forward.  Bravery seems to be a theme I am running into everywhere I turn.  It was the topic of a weekly newsletter from a great entrepreneur and friend, Chris Brogan (click HERE for a free subscription). It is also a theme of his newest online course Brave New Year, and woven through his new book The Impact Equation.  I saw Dr. Brene Brown speak recently in Boston, and my daughter gave me her book, Daring Greatly, for Christmas.  It is about courage, vulnerability and bravery, with some incredibly poignant passages on what courage means to those she has interviewed over the years. Another entrepreneur and friend, Wendy Capland, founder of Vision Quest Consulting, encourages women to make their "Next Bold Move" in her seminars.

Perhaps it's time to start listening to these experts and be brave.

How can you apply bravery to your job this year?  Propose a new product to your boss, set an aggressive revenue goal, accept a new job or start your own company...each of us can find ways to be courageous and brave in our work.  You can reach goals you never imagined and find success you had only dreamed of because you were brave enough to take a step towards that dream.  And what's the worse that can happen...failure?  Failure is simply a step towards success.   

Wishing you a very happy and brave 2013.

Debbie Millin is President of UpperLevel Solutions - a Boston-based firm offering part-time and interim Chief Operating Officer services, operational assessments and executive project leadership.

www.upperlevelsolutions.com