Feed It Forward

I have observed more than 50,000 leaders from around the world as they participated in a fascinating experiential exercise, in which I ask participants to play two roles.

In one role, they provide “FeedForward“: They give another participant suggestions and as much as they can help with a specific issue. In the second role, they accept FeedForward: They listen to suggestions from another participant and learn as much as they can.

Step by Step

The exercise typically lasts 10 to 15 minutes, and the average participant has six or seven such sessions in that time. Participants are asked to:

– Pick one behavior they would like to change. Change in this behavior should make a significant, positive difference in their lives.

– Describe this behavior to randomly selected fellow participants in one-on-one dialogues. It can be done quite simply, e.g., “I want to be a better listener.”

– Ask for FeedForward that might help them achieve a positive change in their behavior. If participants have worked together in the past, they are not allowed to give any feedback about the past. They are only allowed to give ideas for the future.

– Listen attentively to the suggestions and take notes. Participants are not allowed to comment on the suggestions in any way, nor are they allowed to critique the suggestions, even to make positive statements, such as, “That’s a good idea.”

– Thank the other participants for their suggestions.

– Ask fellow participants what they would like to change about themselves.

– Provide FeedForward – two suggestions for helping the other person change.

– Say “You are welcome,” when thanked for the suggestions. (The entire process of both giving and receiving FeedForward usually takes about two minutes.)

– Find another participant and keep repeating the process until the exercise is stopped.

When the exercise is over, I ask the participants to complete a sentence – “This exercise was …” – with the one word that best describes their reaction to the experience. The words selected are almost always positive, such as “great,” “energizing,” “useful,” or “helpful.” One of the most common words used is “fun.”

What is the last word most of us think of to describe the experience of receiving feedback, coaching, and developmental ideas? Fun!

Reasons to Try FeedForward

I ask participants why this exercise is fun and helpful as opposed to painful, embarrassing, or uncomfortable. Their answers offer a great explanation of why FeedForward can often be more useful than feedback as a developmental tool.

1. We can change the future. We can’t change the past. FeedForward helps people envision and focus on a positive future, not a failed past. Race-car drivers are taught to look at the road ahead, not at the wall. By giving people ideas on how they can be even more successful, we can increase their chances of achieving this success in the future.

2. FeedForward can come from people we have never even met. It does not require personal experience. One very common positive reaction to the exercise is that participants are amazed by how much they can learn from people they don’t know. For example, if you want to be a better listener, almost any fellow human can give you ideas. They don’t have to know you.

3. Face it! Most of us hate getting negative feedback, and we don’t like to give it. I have reviewed summary 360-degree feedback reports for more than 50 companies. The items “provides developmental feedback in a timely manner” and “encourages and accepts constructive criticism” almost always score near the bottom on co-worker satisfaction with leaders. Traditional training does not seem to make a great deal of difference. If leaders got better at providing feedback every time the performance appraisal forms were “improved,” most would be perfect by now!

4. FeedForward can cover almost all of the same material feedback can. Imagine you have just made a terrible presentation in front of the executive committee. Your manager is in the room. Rather than make you relive this humiliating experience by detailing what went wrong, your manager might help you by offering suggestions for future presentations. These suggestions can be very specific and still delivered in a positive way – without making you feel even more humiliated.

5. FeedForward tends to be much faster and more efficient than feedback. An excellent technique for giving ideas to successful people is to say: “Here is an idea for the future. Please accept it in the positive spirit in which it is offered. If you can use it, great! If not, just ignore it.” With this approach almost no time is wasted judging the quality of the ideas or trying to refute the suggestions. This kind of debate is usually negative, wastes time, and often counterproductive. By eliminating judgment of the ideas, the process becomes much more positive for the sender, as well as the receiver.

6. FeedForward can be a useful tool with managers, peers, and team members. Rightly or wrongly, feedback is associated with judgment. This can lead to very negative – even career-limiting – consequences when given to managers or peers. FeedForward does not imply superiority of judgment. It is more focused on being a helpful colleague than an expert. As such, it can be easier to hear from a person who isn’t in a position of power or authority.

7. People tend to listen more attentively to FeedForward than feedback. One participant in the FeedForward exercise noted: “I think that I listened more effectively in this exercise than I ever have in my life!” When asked why, he said, “Normally, when others are speaking, I am so busy composing a reply that will make sure that I sound smart that I am not fully listening to what the other person is saying. In FeedForward, the only reply that I am allowed to make is ‘thank you.’ Since I don’t have to worry about composing a clever reply, I can focus all of my energy on listening to the other person!”

When to Use FeedForward

The intent of this column is not to imply that leaders should never give feedback or that performance appraisals should be abandoned. The intent is to show how FeedForward can often be preferable to feedback in day-to-day interactions. Aside from its effectiveness and efficiency, FeedForward can make life a lot more enjoyable. When I ask manager how they felt the last time they received feedback, the most common responses are negative. When managers are asked how they felt after receiving FeedForward, they reply that FeedForward was not only useful, it was also fun.
Life is good.

 

4 Marketing Techniques to Help Crush Your Competition

There are four marketing techniques that you can use to approach your market with your products and services. Use these to market your products better than your competition.

The better you market to your customers, the greater your success in business and sales. Use these tricks to get ahead of your competitors.

Marketing Technique #1: Create Utility and Usefulness with your Product

The first marketing technique you can use to beat your competition is to create utility, usefulness, and satisfy the needs of your customers to achieve a specific result.  This requires that you offer them something they need and can use to accomplish their other goals.

Look at your market today.  What will your customers and potential customers want, need, and be willing to pay for in the months and years ahead? What are the trends in customer demands in your market?  If you can answer this accurately, you can often leapfrog over your competition and dominate a new market even before it emerges.

Marketing Technique #2: Change Your Pricing

A second approach to sales and marketing is by changing your pricing.  By bringing your goods and services into the price range of your customers, you can open up entirely new markets that do not today exist. How could you price your products or services so that more customers could afford to buy them?

Many companies have been able to achieve market leadership by focusing on bringing their prices into the affordability range of more customers.  What we have found is that the greater your market share, and the lower your cost of production, the lower is the price that you can charge.

Marketing Technique #3: Emphasize Your Product’s Key Benefit to the Customer

The third strategy in sales and marketing is adapting to the customer’s reality, both social and economic. The ultimate aim of your marketing plan is to make selling unnecessary.  But this is seldom achieved.  The product almost always needs to be sold to the end customer.  As it turns out, each product offers a “key benefit” that is the primary reason why the customer would buy.

Each product or service also triggers a “key fear,” which is what holds the customer back from buying the product or service in the first place. Customers are terrified of risk.  They are afraid of paying too much, getting the wrong product, losing their money, and getting stuck with something that is inappropriate for their purposes.  This is the main reason that qualified prospects hold back from buying any product or service, at any price.

When you can emphasize the key benefit, the unique added value that a customer will receive by buying your product or service, and at the same time, take away his or her major fear, you can open up an enormous market for what you sell. What is the key benefit that motivates your customer to buy?  If you have different types of customers, what is the key benefit that triggers the buying decision in each of these different kinds of customers?

What is the key fear that holds potential customers back from buying your product or service?  What could you do to emphasize the benefit and make it more attractive, while at the same time, minimize or eliminate the fear that causes a customer to hesitate?

Marketing Technique #4: Deliver True Value of Your Product to Your Customer

The fourth approach to marketing plan is for you to deliver what represents “true value” to the customer.  True value is something that can only be identified by working closely with your customers.

What represents true value to your customers?  How could you structure your product or service offerings in such a way that people would be more comfortable purchasing them from you rather than from your competitors?

Conclusion

There will always be competition for products and services. It is your job to make sure that you stay ahead of the game and ahead of your competition. By following these tips and listening to your customer needs, you will learn to always come out on top.

Via Briantracy.com

GROWING YOUR BUSINESS WITH SERVICE RECOVERY

GROWING YOUR BUSINESS WITH SERVICE RECOVERY

No one has a perfect record when it comes to delivering service. You will have unhappy customers, and you will receive complaints. With social networking, viral videos, and bad news traveling fast, one angry customer can leave a lasting stain on your reputation. Your recovery policy and practices should be ready.
1. Get senior management support. Unlike routine aspects of business, service recovery requires acknowledging mistakes and doing whatever it takes to recover. This often means going outside normal procedures, deliberately bending the rules, and possibly spending money in the process. Therefore, this building block needs understanding and encouragement from the top.
2. Practice your recovery plan. When things go wrong is not the time to think about how to recover. The clock starts ticking the moment a problem occurs. SWAT teams are successful because they anticipate scenarios and run practice drills long before something dangerous happens. Run your own scenarios to imagine what could go wrong. Then communicate your plans, test your tactics, and rehearse your responses in advance.
3. Go hunting for service problems. Be aggressive and proactive. Create discovery systems that seek out breakdowns and complaints. It may not feel good to spotlight your flaws, but view service recovery as a disease-prevention formula and you’ll catch problems long before they make you sick.
4. Empower frontline staff. Give those closest to the issue the power to make things right. The Ritz-Carlton Hotel famously empowers every employee with a substantial recovery fund to delight guests when something is wrong, without a moment’s delay. The analysis and insights can come later. The actions to recover are needed right away. Nothing frustrates an upset customer more than hearing this: “I’d really like to do that for you, but I have to check with my manager first. It should only take a few days.”
5. Go for the big win–win! We love great comeback movies because the underdog comes from behind to surpass everyone’s expectations. Your recovery strategy should strive to do the same. The goal is not just fixing problems; it’s creating experiences that unexpectedly delight. And great comeback stories are the ones people love to share. When your customers win, your company wins, too.
6. Lock in the gains. You can get much better at anticipating new problems, faster at detecting current problems, and create better tools and training to bounce back whenever a ball is dropped. Create a program in your organization where stories of recovery are collected, and service providers are recognized and rewarded. Analyze each story carefully, because some will reveal how to prevent mistakes in the future or delight customers with uplifting service before a mishap ever happens.

Customers who struggle with a service problem have been to a low point with you. And when you recover, they experience bouncing back. This experience of disappointment followed by relief can actually increase customers’ confidence in your service. Why is that? Because everyone knows that problems will occur from time to time. Things break down in life, difficulties arise, and unpleasant things do happen. What we don’t know is how any service provider will respond in these situations until they happen.

When a problem does occur and successful recovery follows, you learn something important about a service provider that you couldn’t know before. Now you know, from personal experience, this service provider can be trusted to do the right thing when you really need it. This added confidence leads to customers coming back, thereby increasing their value to the service provider. Repeat customers tend to buy more, and often are the first to try your premium offers. These people also recommend you with a real-world legitimacy that cannot be purchased with advertising. Every customer with a problem is your potential admirer and evangelist—when you successfully recover.

An additional upside of service recovery can be found inside your organization. When your organization has a track record of doing the right thing in problem situations, then every member of your team can serve with confidence and pride. Knowing your organization will always bounce back up is a powerful reason to feel good when you are serving, and when you are recovering.

What’s the alternative? What are the consequences if this building block remains weak and mired in the problematic procedures of rebates and returns? Team members get frustrated and embarrassed, or, even worse, cynical and resigned. Customers get stuck in negotiations, calculations, and other distractions from the goal.

These frustrations turn into unpleasant stories, the bad news that travels fast, the tales of woe that people always love to tell and often exaggerate along the way. Who listens to these stories? Their friends, your customers, prospects, competition, and anyone else with an interest and an Internet connection or a need to buy whatever it is you sell. That may not be an easily quantified impact, but it’s costly to even consider.

Via RonKaufman.com

3 ways to get more done with less time & less stress

Getting organised with Mind Maps
The past two decades have seen meteoric advances in the way we communicate and work; with emails, Facebook, SMS, Twitter, Skype, Ping, blogs, feeds and a vast array of other indispensable forms of ‘connecting’ and absorbing information.
With such resources at our disposal productivity should be soaring, shouldn’t it? But whilst the world is now at your fingertips, you are, unfortunately, equally within reach of the world.
Using Mind Maps can help you to cut out that background noise and is proven to improve productivity by 20% – that means you can gain an extra working day every week!
Here are 3 ways to get started in your productivity overhaul using iMindMap…

1. Plan Your Day
This practice will take you just 5 minutes at the start of the day, and can end up saving you a lot of time and hassle. Begin with your Central Idea as today and create a main branch for each of the main areas you need to focus on. From these branches, draw smaller, child branches with the specific tasks you need to complete and information such as names, deadlines and the time segments that you will spend on that particular task today.
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Via Tonybushan.com

Top Tip: You can re-order the map by time so it becomes a schedule for the day, allowing you to track your progress. Take a look at 4 Steps to Time Control – Get a Grip On Your Workload for an in depth guide to planning your time.

2. Keep an eye on the big picture
Why stop with just daily planning? Create a Mind Map for the week, the month or the year to ensure that you are seeing the ‘big picture’ and can track projects over time. Make sure you put this on a wall where you can see it easily. With a map for the year that shows what you want to achieve, you have an instant, one-page visual reminder of what you’re aiming for. Whenever you are becoming overwhelmed by everyday tasks, look back at this map to focus on what is most important and help you prioritise.
Business plan map
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Top Tip: Save your Map as a template so you can use it quickly and conveniently the next time you need to plan.

3. Consolidate Information
iMindMap allows you to group tasks or ideas in a limitless radiating structure, so you can have a clear, organised picture of what needs to be done. By using keywords and the simple hierarchy of a Mind Map, it is possible to capture the plans for an entire year on just one page. Plus, you can add new ideas all the time without having to try and find a place to squeeze them in. With iMindMap you will never run out of space, so you can finally wave goodbye to all of those pesky Post-it notes covering your desk.
Planner Mind Map
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Top Tip: Link everything to do with each task or project to your Mind Map, be it spreadsheets, meeting agendas, proposals, web pages or audio files – just drag and drop them onto the branches in iMindMap. Then you can quickly access all of relevant information with just one click.
With iMindMap you have the ability to streamline your work and make the most of your time. Increase your productivity by 20%, regain control of your workload and never again misplace an important document.
If you want to start getting organised now, you can download the free iMindMap trial here.

Via Thinkbuzan.com

Taking Control of the Environments that Control You

“Environment is stronger than will-power”
– Paramahansa Yogananda

The environments that we live in—all nine of them—either inspire us or expire us. They facilitate our success or they detract from our success. They energize us or they drain us. They relax us or they stress us. The good news is that we have a lot of control of the environments that affect us. We can de-clutter our office, create better filing systems, paint a wall, redecorate a room, clean out the garage, join a health club, hire a personal trainer, buy a treadmill or some free weights, join a yoga class, join a mastermind group, move to a new area, take walks in the park, schedule more time with friends, stop hanging out with negative people, hire a coach, hire a financial planner, join an investment club, feng shui your home or apartment, or subscribe to a positive magazine. While it is true that our environments exert a lot of control over our feelings and behavior, we have the power to create environments that positively impact us.

The only thing you can do to transform an environment is to add something (a new person, a new piece of equipment, a new belief), delete something (a negative person, the TV from your bedroom, a self-limiting belief, clutter), or modify something (paint a room, set a boundary with a family member, change where you eat dinner).

As you review the nine environments (listed below) that constantly surround you in your life, ask yourself “what could I add, delete or modify in each of these environments that would contribute to my success or enhance the quality of my life?”  Usually we are unconscious about the effects that our environments are having on us. Now you can be aware of each of these environments and choose to consciously design them to support you in creating and maintaining the life you wish to experience.

So as not to overwhelm yourself, start by picking three of the nine environments to actively change or modify, and once you see some results, work out from there. You will eventually discover that changing any one environment will begin to affect all of the other environments.

Here are the Nine Environments:

Memetic

  • Ideas- Opinions, Concepts, Thoughts, Beliefs, Paradigm, Styles, Usages
  • Information / knowledge you receive = these coaching calls, books, tapes, seminars, media, magazines, articles, TV, Internet, Radio
  • Passed down from generation—language patterns

Body

  • Your physical body (hair, skin, nails, posture)
  • Health
  • Your primary energy source (adrenaline vs. inspiration/choice)
  • Psymatic (Observer of our own body)

Self / Intangibles

  • Feelings
  • Passions
  • Values
  • Skills and unique assets
  • Heart Gifts
  • Amount of space in your life

Nature

  • Life
  • The outdoors-parks, outdoor sporting event, camping, animals, the zoo
  • Geography (Southern Ca vs. North East)
  • Seasons – each have a different energy and influence on

Spiritual

  • Spirit / Connections to God / Divine / Higher Power
  • Spiritual Practices (Prayer, Meditation)

Relationships

  • Family, Friends, Colleagues, Neighbors, People you connect with daily
  • Staff / Assistants
  • Mentors /Coaches
  • Pets

Network

  • Customers / Vendors
  • The Internet / Web
  • 6 Degrees or Separation
  • Communities you belong to – Church, dojo, schools, Children’s sports teams, associations, charities, meetings, Mastermind groups

Financial

  • Money, investments, stocks, bonds, insurance
  • People who support your financial well being (CPA, employer, lawyer, real estate attorney, financial advisor)
  • Tools that support you in wealth (budget, P&L, Quicken)

Physical

  • Home, Office / Desk, Clutter
  • Tools (Phones, pagers, computers…)
  • Possessions (Car, Artwork, Toys, Boats, Accessories)
  • Gym & Equipment
  • Sounds

Via JackCanField.com