How to encourage your new hires to be creative

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In today’s work environment, you need more from an employee than just strong technical skills. Sure, software engineers need to be familiar with the appropriate programming language, and data analysts need to know their way around a spreadsheet. But these things alone won’t make them effective. They need to know how to think outside the box.

But how do you cultivate creativity, and keep it growing among your new hires? After all, good ideas don’t just come out of thin air. Here are some practices that you might want to try.

1) Explain your thinking style

Not everyone will think the way you do–and when you work with people, you need to be clear about how everyone works. If you are a backward thinker, you begin at the end and work backward to the beginning. You define your goal clearly and you focus on that exact goal and move forward in well-defined steps.

If you are a forward thinker, on the other hand, you begin with a rough idea, and you move forward by reacting and correcting until you arrive with something concrete.

You’ll avoid frustration when you explain how you think. I once hired a talented young researcher. Every time she brought in her work, I responded by asking her to look at the problem another way. After her third presentation, she said to me, “I can’t work with you anymore. You don’t know what you want. I’m quitting.”

That was a wake-up call for me. From that point on, I make sure to explain my thinking style to everyone that I work with–and that meant going back and forth until we get there. When I do this, I create a platform for creative collaborations–by enabling others to work in a way that suits their thinking style, while making sure that they understand mine.

2) Make sure to challenge different creative muscles

In Lateral Thinking—a book about unleashing creativity–physician and psychologist Edward De Bono likened creativity to pouring hot wax into a block of wax. The first time you pour, you create a new hole–the second time you pour, your wax goes into the same hole, only deeper.

Sometimes it takes experimentation to elicit creativity, and that means pouring new holes into the wax. Don’t just ask your new hires to come up with three versions of a marketing plan. Ask for a strategic roadmap or ideas on making your website user-friendly. This gives your new hires a chance to exercise a different creative muscle, and they can learn what it takes for them to come up with a great idea.

3) Focus on what’s missing, not what’s wrong

When you watch yourself on video, you will most likely fixate on a particular flaw. You may obsess about how your smile seems crooked, how often you blink, how many “ahs” and “ers” you say in a minute. So what happens as a result of this kind of analysis? You pause, you clamp your jaws, you pop your eyes open, you have long, empty pauses. Focusing on flaws doesn’t work.

You have to look instead at what’s missing. If you speak with too many “ahs” and “ers” what’s missing is a connection between your speaking and your breathing, not that you’re stopping too much. You need to adopt the same kind of mind-set with your team’s creativity. Don’t focus on what they’re doing wrong. Instead, give them ideas on what they can do.

Whether you’re giving feedback or delivering a message, you have to approach it in a more–not less– perspective. As one of my clients explained, “When my boss asked us how we were going to cut costs, my colleagues presented their cost-cutting plans. I told him how I was going to sell more.” That client is one of his company’s top sales leaders.

4) Give feedback at a concept level

When you’re giving feedback to a new hire, you have to leave room for them to solve the problem. For example, suppose you walked into a room that had a fireplace at one end and two chairs against the back wall. When you say, “That’s ridiculous. Why don’t you move your chairs closer to the fire?” you’re jumping into solution mode.

Supposing instead you said, “I’d like you to consider how to optimize the experience of being in this room.” Now you’re challenging someone to think about what to do, and empowering them to come up with their own solutions. Your team might find the answers from the get-go, and you might need to tell them so. That’s okay, as long as you give them the space to be creators and problem solvers, not just doers.

5) Expect mistakes

Years ago, I was working with a leader from Toyota. He was talking about a discussion he’d had with a visitor from Ford, “I told him we have a system when employees notice a problem, they stop the line. We had 47 stops last month.” The Ford leader was impressed with the Andon process and adopted it right away. Then he came back a month later and proudly announced to my client, “We only had seven problems last month.”

My Toyota client explained that he’d missed the point. When you focus too much on avoiding mistakes, you’re actually blocking your creativity because you operate from the position of fear. You need to think of mistakes as a chance to fine-tune and improve the process. After all, creativity often comes from trial and error and you need to give your team the psychological space to do that.

Creativity doesn’t happen in a linear fashion. Often times, it requires trying different things before landing on something that works. Expect the same when it comes to your new hires. Be patient with the process, and you might just end up with something amazing.

[“source=medicalnewstoday]

How to Encourage Positive Reviews From Customers (Advanced Strategies)

Encourage Positive Reviews

Brand advocates are three times more trusted and influential than ads or other forms of media, according to brand advocacy solution Zuberance. That means that people who review your business online or talk to others about you are more likely to influence others’ buying decisions.

There are many simple actionable techniques your business can use to get more 5-star reviews. Once you have the basics down, though, it’s time to look at some advanced strategies to increase your positive reviews even further. Listed below are some strategies your business should consider to create brand advocates and increase their reach.

Include Links on Your Website and Promotional Materials

To ensure that your online reviews reach the most potential customers, you’ll need to call attention to your business on popular review sites like Yelp. To make it easier for your customers to find your company’s presence on these sites, you should include links to them on your website and other materials.

For instance, you can include links in your email newsletter and customer service email signature. Then, when you communicate with customers in these ways, they’ll easily be able to leave reviews while your company is on their mind.

Make Privately Collected Feedback ‘Share-able’

As you measure your customer feedback, look for ways you can encourage sharing. Customers who have a good experience may not think to share publicly but are more than happy to complete a survey, for example. Encouraging them to visit your social channels at the moment they are leaving their favorable feedback can be very beneficial.

Use QR Codes to Drive Traffic to Your Review Sites

If you communicate with customers in person, you should also work to drive traffic to your review sites using offline methods. For example, consider handing out pre-printed postcards to customers after their purchase is completed. These cards should thank them for their purchase and ask them to leave a review about their experience with your brand. To make it really easy for them to leave reviews, include QR codes that they can scan to get to your business’s page on Yelp or other sites.

Display Testimonials on Your Website

Sometimes customers don’t pay much attention to small postcards or links at the bottom of an email though. That means that you have to make your customer reviews a little more prominent. One option is to display customer testimonials directly on your website.

Visitors are more likely to pay attention to full reviews on your website than they are to a small link at the bottom of the page. You can either embed reviews directly from Yelp or similar sites, or gather testimonials and enter them on the site yourself. Either way, when customers see other reviews, they may be more likely to leave one themselves. And, of course, you should include a link for them to do so near the existing testimonials.

Give Your Loyal Customers an Outlet for Sharing Information About Your Company

You can also increase your reach by helping some of your most loyal customers share their experiences. For example, host a contest asking your customers to share a video of their favorite way to use your product. Ask your customers to post photos of your product in use on Instagram. Or even just set up a dedicated hashtag for social media users.

These methods give your customers a specified outlet for sharing information about your company and its offerings. By sharing these types of posts on social media, you’re also able to reach an abundance of potential new customers without having to actually post a thing.

Review Photo via Shutterstock

More in: QuestionPro, Sponsored

[“source-smallbiztrends”]

How to Encourage Positive Reviews From Customers (Advanced Strategies)

Encourage Positive Reviews

Brand advocates are three times more trusted and influential than ads or other forms of media, according to brand advocacy solution Zuberance. That means that people who review your business online or talk to others about you are more likely to influence others’ buying decisions.

There are many simple actionable techniques your business can use to get more 5-star reviews. Once you have the basics down, though, it’s time to look at some advanced strategies to increase your positive reviews even further. Listed below are some strategies your business should consider to create brand advocates and increase their reach.

Include Links on Your Website and Promotional Materials

To ensure that your online reviews reach the most potential customers, you’ll need to call attention to your business on popular review sites like Yelp. To make it easier for your customers to find your company’s presence on these sites, you should include links to them on your website and other materials.

For instance, you can include links in your email newsletter and customer service email signature. Then, when you communicate with customers in these ways, they’ll easily be able to leave reviews while your company is on their mind.

Make Privately Collected Feedback ‘Share-able’

As you measure your customer feedback, look for ways you can encourage sharing. Customers who have a good experience may not think to share publicly but are more than happy to complete a survey, for example. Encouraging them to visit your social channels at the moment they are leaving their favorable feedback can be very beneficial.

Use QR Codes to Drive Traffic to Your Review Sites

If you communicate with customers in person, you should also work to drive traffic to your review sites using offline methods. For example, consider handing out pre-printed postcards to customers after their purchase is completed. These cards should thank them for their purchase and ask them to leave a review about their experience with your brand. To make it really easy for them to leave reviews, include QR codes that they can scan to get to your business’s page on Yelp or other sites.

Display Testimonials on Your Website

Sometimes customers don’t pay much attention to small postcards or links at the bottom of an email though. That means that you have to make your customer reviews a little more prominent. One option is to display customer testimonials directly on your website.

Visitors are more likely to pay attention to full reviews on your website than they are to a small link at the bottom of the page. You can either embed reviews directly from Yelp or similar sites, or gather testimonials and enter them on the site yourself. Either way, when customers see other reviews, they may be more likely to leave one themselves. And, of course, you should include a link for them to do so near the existing testimonials.

Give Your Loyal Customers an Outlet for Sharing Information About Your Company

You can also increase your reach by helping some of your most loyal customers share their experiences. For example, host a contest asking your customers to share a video of their favorite way to use your product. Ask your customers to post photos of your product in use on Instagram. Or even just set up a dedicated hashtag for social media users.

These methods give your customers a specified outlet for sharing information about your company and its offerings. By sharing these types of posts on social media, you’re also able to reach an abundance of potential new customers without having to actually post a thing.

Review Photo via Shutterstock

More in: QuestionPro, Sponsored

[“source-smallbiztrends”]