Tag Archives: economic development

How To Make a Repeated First Impression

confidence-dictionaryEveryone knows how important a first impression is during a job interview.  But after the job is secured and you’ve settled in, does it really matter what type of impression you make on others?  Well, if you want to be effective in your career, then I say the answer to that question should be yes.  Regardless at what level your position is on the organizational chart, you should always be repeating that ‘first impression’ vibe because that’s how you can best display confidence at work.

So, whether you are an entry-level employee, a volunteer, or a CEO…take a look at these suggestions that you can practice every day in order to display the best ‘first impression’ again and again:

  • Clothes – It’s important to convey a polished, professional appearance in the workplace.  Looking the part exudes confidence to others around you.  Regardless of what you are wearing, be certain it is high quality, neat and proportionate to your body.  The old adage is “dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”  Also – avoid a lot of accessories and busy patterns that will distract others.  So, basically…be sure to look your best every time you step into the workplace.
  • Eye Contact – Establishing and maintaining eye contact with others is your best way to communicate confidence and interest.  When speaking or listening to someone, always look directly into their eyes for 3-5 seconds before looking away or moving to someone else.  This will show them you are interested and involved in the communication process.  If you constantly avoid eye contact, then you are viewed as insecure, anxious and somewhat evasive – which will erode any confidence.
  • Facial Expressions – There are seven basic human emotions (anger, sadness, contempt, disgust, fear, happiness, surprise) with scientifically proven facial expressions associated with each.  These expressions are often involuntary and unconscious.  Be aware of what your face is revealing to others and be sure to choose the right expression that matches the message you want to send.
  • Interactions – Initiate conversations with others.  Taking the initiative to interact with others displays confidence in yourself enough to walk up to a complete strange and begin a conversation.  Learning this process will boost your self-confidence and the confidence levels of others around you.

Gaining and maintaining the confidence of your workforce will go a long way when it comes to making tough decisions because many other attributes are associated with confidence – such as respect, loyalty and commitment.  I’m sure there are many other ways to make a repeated first impression, but the ones noted above will get your started on the right track.  Implement these suggestions today and watch how your confidence level increases dramatically.


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Honor: Applicable in the Workplace?

honor1Most every school has something they call the ‘honor roll’ and it’s always a distinguished recognition of those students who are doing things right and are successful in the classroom.  But when we move from the halls of academia and into the world of business, it becomes more and more challenging to know when you are ‘doing things right.’  It’s my opinion that even in the business environment, one’s honor can still be utilized as a measurement tool of a managers effectiveness and overall success within the workplace.

In today’s organizations, it’s easy for managers to feel compelled to ‘adapt’ or be everything to everyone.  But being a person of excellence – one of respect, means you must strike a careful balance in all your actions and decisions in order to maintain your honor in the eyes of others.  We’ve all heard the horror stories of those bad bosses that basically take advantage of every opportunity – both ethical and unethical ones – just to get ahead and benefit only themselves.  It’s those scenarios that play out in the minds of workers that create a tension sometimes between various levels in the workplace, i.e. upper management and other workers.  Therefore, to correct or improve upon that stereotypical mindset…it’s vital that today’s managers display honor in the workplace.  How can one maintain his or her honor and still be an effective manager?  Here are five suggestions to consider:

  • Be honest – It’s critical to be honest with your employees whenever they ask direct questions…or even indirect questions.  If you try to lie or exaggerate truths, then you will be found out and your image of honor will be damaged beyond repair.  Always be tactful, but truthful.
  • Trust others – Give others a chance to develop that trusting relationship.  The more you trust others, then the more others will view you as being trustworthy.  Be sure to develop a strong bond with your workforce and always-always-always keep your word.
  • Protect your space – Don’t feel like you have to be a ‘part of the crowd’ just to be liked or honored by the workforce.  It’s easy to be lured into doing things that everyone else is doing.  So be mindful of what is ‘appropriate’ behavior, then guard your personal space to maintain and display that behavior.
  • Operate on facts – Identify and call out others (if you have to) that are spreading rumors, gossip or any information that can’t be proven or substantiated.  Sending a strong message that you’re only interested in facts will show others that you don’t want to participate in the ‘water cooler conversations’.
  • Know the difference – Be able to distinguish between an honorable act and a dishonorable act.  If it doesn’t sound right, feel right or look right…then more than likely it’s a dishonorable action.  So, be cautious and think before you act or before you speak.  Not knowing the difference is probably the quickest way to be out of a job.

These are just a few suggestions to help you in establishing and/or maintaining your honor in the workplace.  Take time this week to practice these and other ideas and see what type of response you get from others.  Have a great day!!


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Making Your Word Count


(Repost of ‘Your Word, Your Brand’ of April 5, 2013)

Most of us have certain defining moments in our lives that make us stop to ponder that age-old question, “Why do I do what I do?”  Whether you’re at the helm of a large corporation with thousands of employees or you sack groceries at the local neighborhood supermarket…we all have various reasons for the paths we take in life and at times it is important to reflect on the choices we make.  One of those defining moments for me was standing in my office on the morning of September 11, 2001 and watching the events unfold on television regarding the terrorist attacks in New York City and the countless lives that were lost that day.  On that day, it was no longer about meeting a print deadline or making sure enough ink pens were ordered or even making sure I got my car payment in the mail on time…it was all about ‘what am I doing to make a difference in the lives of others?’  That internal question defined a whole new way of thinking for me and changed the course of how I managed others.

For me, I quickly realized that there were no policies and procedures, no personnel manuals, no workplace training and no professional management courses that can replace your spoken “word”.  I would even go as far to say that the days of cutting a business deal with a simple smile and a handshake were back – for me, at least.  And looking back at that internal question of how am I making a difference, I knew that when I take away all of the glitz and glamor…my “word” was the most valuable tool I had to make a true difference.

As managers, it is so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day routine of business operations that we tend to forget that what we say and do affect many others around us – individual workers, multiple families, whole communities.  It’s easy to get riled up and ticked off at upper management or your colleagues or your customers (yes, even your customers can tick you off); but if you want to make a true difference – don’t let those things steal your joy or your passion for doing what you do because your word IS your brand.  When it comes right down to it…your ‘word’ – who you say you are – is all you have when you really want to impact and encourage your employees or when you are negotiating a business deal to bring jobs and revenue to your local community or when you’re trying to motivate others toward a common goal.

I experienced another one of those defining moments just a few months ago with the tragic loss of my 22 year old nephew.  Realizing how we all have such a brief window of opportunity to mark our spot in this world and to make a difference in the lives of others is an energizing and rejuvenating jolt that should bring us all back to the core of why we do, what we do.  There’s a quote by an anonymous writer that says, “You’re only as good as your word.  Use them wisely, and stick by them.  That’s capital worth investing in.”  We all need to heed this saying and integrate its meaning into our lives.

So, I guess this blog post is geared toward encouraging you to do your very best in keeping your integrity in check and being true to who you say you are – so you can truly make a difference in the lives of those who cross your path – whether it be your employees, co-workers, friends or even family members.  How you brand yourself speaks volumes to others.  I challenge you to take some time this week and reflect on how you can make a difference and what you can be doing right now – today – to make that happen.  Then, go mark your spot in this world!

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Is Your Cell Phone Damaging Your Professional Image?

cell phoneThe world has evolved at a rapid pace in various technological fields over the last decade, but none so much as the use of cell phones and smartphones.  While the ability to communicate with any person around the globe in mere seconds from a single device that rests in the palm of your hand is an awesome convenience, it might also be encouraging you to act in an unprofessional manner when you are around others.  The use of cellular devices is so common nowadays that it’s very possible our subconscious directs our behavior about when, where and how to use it.  We are all guilty of falling prey to the spell it casts over us each and every day…even to the point of becoming completely anti-social with your co-workers, bosses, employees and even friends and family members.

As a business professional, it’s important that we are aware of the way (or perceived way) we utilize our cell phone.  Some people must have it with them at all times, while others may choose to leave it on the charger for an extended period of time.  Some think they must respond to text messages immediately, while others may go for days without responding at all.  Regardless if you fall into one of the extremes or somewhere in between…you could be damaging your professional image.  So, here are just a few reminders and challenges (to some of you) that will help to maintain your professional behavior in the presence of your cell phone:

  • Stay Away from Others – No one wants to hear your conversation about how Aunt Louise forgot to feed the dog last night.  So, keep a distance from other people if you must talk on your cell phone while in a public area…or even in your office cubicle.
  • Keep Your Voice Level Low – As we learned in elementary school, remember to use your inside voice while talking on your cell phone.  Keeping your distance from other people won’t help if you can still be heard 50 yards away.
  • Never Use the Speaker – One thing that’s worse than having to listen to you talk on the phone…is having to listen to the other person talk back.  So, don’t activate your speaker while around other people.  It is truly an annoyance to everyone…including the person you’re talking with on the other end.
  • Be Respectful of the Environment – No matter how important you are…or think you are, there are certain places you should never use your cell phone — but we all see it happening every day – and even I am guilty of it in some cases.  So just to be clear – here’s a brief list of places that should be considered ‘off limits’ for talking on your cell phone:  restaurants, elevators, bathrooms, taxis, museums, weddings, funerals, movie theaters, airplanes, places of worship and…of course, during the weekly staff meetings at work.

This week, be more mindful of your surroundings and more respectful of others by practicing some of these cellphone techniques.  Doing so will show others that you are a true professional in and out of the office!!

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A Manager’s Goal: Creation of Another Manager

CreationLee Iacocca said “Management is nothing more than motivating people.”  If that’s true, then maybe we should consider that the goal of every person should be to become a manager of some sort.  Therefore, the main goal of a manager then…should be to create other managers.  What?  Why would anyone do that?  Why would you want to create something that may be competing with you for the same position?  Well, if you don’t already know it – when you became a manager you gave up certain ‘individual’ rights because you are now responsible for the work of others and your success is dependent upon how well your team performs.  So, it makes perfect sense to do all you can do to motivate and instill the highest degree of quality in the members of your team so that they too can become managers in their own right.  Now…let’s look at a few steps you can take to begin the cycle of creating other managers:

  • Identify Your Goals – Be sure your employees know what your major goals are and be prepared to communicate those goals clearly to them.  Also, remember that goals are basically a living organism within your organization…and some of those goals will change from time to time.  Therefore, it’s vital that your team is informed promptly as these changes occur.
  • Discover Your Team – To best motivate your team, you will need to know the strengths and weaknesses of each member.  Who pays more attention to detail?  Who produces a product faster?  Who has intricate knowledge of a specific process?  It’s important to know these things so you can balance your team to optimize performance and productivity.
  • Make Smart Assignments – Once you’ve identified and communicated your goals, as well as, discovered the areas your team members are strong and weak, then you need to match tasks to the best team member.  Developing the individual task assignments that focuses on the strengths of the team members should bring everyone together in a way that is complimentary to one another and maximizes the use of all resources.  This is a critical area where working smarter instead of working harder will pay great dividends.
  • Be Available – To be able to create other managers and motivate them properly, then you must be visible to your team and accessible to them.  They must be able to see their leader.  So, if you manage multiple shifts or multiple locations, then you must be certain that everyone knows of your presence.  Don’t make excuses as to why you’re not able to be available to your team members.
  • Show Recognition – Let the individual members of your team know how they are doing.  Recognize them or reward them in ways that motivates them to do better.  Even just a simple ‘thanks’ or ‘great job’ can go a long way.  But keep in mind one of the Management 101 Rules – ‘lead by example.”

Starting with these elements will help you to create other managers and you will be well on your way to reaching that ultimate goal and marking your spot as an effective manager and leader.  Take time today to consider how to best implement these steps!!

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7 Characteristics to Mark Your Spot

Management is somewhat like technology, as soon as you get accustomed to a specific process then someone comes along and re-invents the whole system and we suddenly find ourselves having to adapt, learn or re-tool new managerial methods and executive strategies.  Thankfully it doesn’t happen as often as the changes we witness every 24 hours in the world of technology…but we are starting to see an increased rate of modifications to management styles in order to adapt to an ever-changing global market and to appease the public eye that is more adamant about transparency at all levels.

Well, I propose that these following seven characteristics will help lift your management style to an advanced level – not just in your management position, but across your whole organization.  I’ve bulked these characteristics together in what I call the “X Characteristics” and they serve as the foundation to the information I share through my blog “X…Marking Your Spot.”  So, if you really want to mark a spot in your organization, implement these characteristics and you will begin to see a new level of activities and responses that will keep you in sync with your supervisors, employees and others as the world enters into this era of the new normal:

  1. eXpress – You are seen by most of the world as ‘what you do’; so remember your actions are communicating the type of person you are to others.  What type of message you are conveying?
  2. eXcel – To be exceptional at what you do, you must be better than the rest and surpass the expectations of others.  What are you doing to excel as a manager?
  3. eXpect – Be on the lookout for issues to address; presume there will be challenges ahead and try to plan accordingly now so you can deal with them when they occur and then keep moving forward.  What can you expect to happen in the next week?  Next month?  Next Year?
  4. eXamine – Making decisions each day require you to study or analyze information on an ongoing basis – either consciously or subconciously.  You should take time to observe things carefully before reacting or making a decision.  What tools can help you enhance how you examine things?
  5. eXplain -Verbal communication with others sometimes is more effective if the message is plan and comprehensible.  You can score a lot of points with your workers if you simply offer reasons for the actions you are requesting.  What steps can you take to be certain your instructions to others are clear and understandable?
  6. eXplore – Being creative and innovative means you must explore for all possibilities.  Learn how to investigate issues systematically in order to remain objective keeping in mind that the purpose is to discover new information or confirm existing information.  How do you search for new and creative ways of doing things?
  7. eXceed – Push yourself to be greater than others and to become better than your best.  Go beyond the limits of your job description and make a positive, life-changing impact on those that are near you.  What can you do today to get out of your comfort zone and become exceptional?

Take a few moments to view the video, leave a comment below, and then begin marking your spot right where you are at…today.  Also, you can follow me on Twitter at @craigholloman.

Video:  The first portion of the video is credited to the National Association of Workforce Boards, an organization devoted to bettering our communities one day at a time.


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The Future Is Coming: Have a Policy for That?

For centuries, organizations have been extremely slow to adopt new or revised policies related to new processes, controversial practices, increased technologies and a host of other modern issues that seem to spring up more and more every day in the routine workplace operations.  To me, there’s only one thing worse than not having effective policies in place to address common employee issues…and that is having policies that you fail to follow and/or enforce.  For auditing purposes, it’s easier respond to a finding that says “no policy is in place” than it is to deal with the consequences of violating your own written words in what you say you will do.

There is a new, more competitive global market out there that is constantly evolving; and if we, as organizations, fail to modify or develop new policies to help monitor and promote specific workplace behaviors then your business could quickly be left in the dust by your competitors.  So, how can you stay ahead of the curve?  You must anticipate more and more changes will be required of your current policies as societal issues will force closer scrutiny of how organizations operate…and trust me, if you are lacking in any certain areas, then eventually you will be called out – either by headquarters, your own workforce, local government officials and/or the general public.

Therefore, if you haven’t already started considering policies to address the ‘new normal’ in conducting business, then you may want to start looking at the following areas now before even they become obsolete and are replaced by more advanced and complexed issues:

  • Digital Communication – If your business doesn’t already have a policy dealing with social media, then you are WAY behind the competition.  However, the social media trend is already here and happening right now.  What you need to begin to consider for the future is how you plan to police all forms of ‘digital communication’ from the organizational stand-point.  You need to think futuristic – because in the technology world, those futuristic ideas will pop up tomorrow.  Examples are Google Glass, telepresence robots, avatar technology, etc.
  • Cyber Security – Closely aligned with the rise of digital communications comes the rise of cyber crimes and cyber war.  How is your organization protected?  Your organization’s knowledge and information is a source of competitive advantage that will become increasingly difficult to protect as we see cyber attacks on information systems.  Expect to see upward trends in litigation surrounding cyber security and a push for increased government control.  Therefore, any policies you develop related to cyber security should be thoroughly researched and detailed to withstand any legal arguments.
  • Virtual Employees – With technological advancements in communication and connectivity you will see a significant rise in the use of virtual employees – those employees that work from home or some other location.  We’ve seen many businesses experiment and implement tele-commuting practices; however, I expect to see that trend develop to a whole new level as demand for more productive employees increase in ways that can provide greater cost-savings to the organization.  Being prepared to deal with such employment issues is critical to any organization that wants to remain in front of its competition.
  • Interactive Technology – Welcome to the world of FaceTime, Skype, video messaging and a host of other advanced interactive programs that allow you and your employees to speak face-to-face with others all over the globe.  Interactive programs such as these are projected to increase significantly over the next 5-10 years.  There’s already talk about a new and interactive LED-laden beer bottle – of all things!  So, it makes sense to get a handle on it now and begin to let employees know how you plan to utilize it to better the mission of the organization and what the consequences will be if its availability and usage is abused.  This tool is very closely aligned with digital communications; however, you may want to consider a separate policy that focuses on specific video technology uses – especially if your employees will be on a video channel with customers (or talking to a beer bottle).

Of course, these ideas are only a small fragment of what you can expect to see in the future.  As new and innovative processes are born, we all have to adapt – whether we want to or not.  That’s the name of the game…and the only way to remain competitive in this ever-changing world we live in.  So, consider other areas in the organization that may possibly need a policy revamp…such as, financial systems (because banking as we know it today will be obsolete soon), purchasing and shipping systems (because we will trend toward a more environmentally conscious society), employee benefits and eligibility issues (because definitions to ‘family’, ‘dependents’, etc. are already changing every day) and there’s a host of other issues.  So, begin to think ahead and get your team together to explore ways your business can be prepared for when the future does arrive.

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