5 ways to leverage behavioral targeting to increase customer engagement

Behavioral targeting can be a critical factor in increasing customer engagement. When you’re able to gain a keen understanding of what people are doing on your website, app or with your campaigns, you can use that information to determine which messages and advertisements will resonate the best with them. When messages and advertisements are personalized, customers will be more compelled to engage with them.

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From analyzing regular audits to focusing on retargeting, there are a few different strategies that entrepreneurs and businesses can use to leverage behavioral targeting to increase customer engagement with their products or services. Here, five members of Business Journals Leadership Trust discuss the most effective ones and what makes them so effective.

1. Take an unbiased look at customers’ past actions.
The beauty of behavioral targeting is that it is unbiased and based on past actions. Focus groups and surveys capture intent or perception, but behavioral data is based on action. It’s the ultimate truth and therefore provides very accurate targeting. – Kent Lewis, Deksia

2. Consider the goal and action you want them to take.
Behavioral targeting can draw in your consumer to the brand engagement action you’d like your consumer to have with your brand. If the goal is for them to like a post, take advantage of a special offer or forward information to family and friends, your brand messaging can be dynamically served to your consumer with the action you want them to take, helping affect the behavioral action goal. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

3. Create behavior-based retargeting campaigns.
Using behavioral targeting in customized remarketing and retargeting is an efficient way to bring users back to your website and encourage them to interact with your product more meaningfully. Create retargeting campaigns based on customer behavior patterns to take them back to the part of your website or product they will most likely find useful and enjoy. – Peter Abualzolof, Mashvisor

4. Conduct a weekly social media engagement audit.
Do a weekly audit of the people that are engaging with your content on social media. Literally, click and review their profiles and see what is important to them. You will find out triggers of conversion that you may not have found through more automated research. – Christopher Tompkins, The Go! Agency

5. Focus on your client to bring in the ‘right’ business.
Behavioral targeting ensures that you’re focused on your client. When you focus on your client, you have more success bringing on the “right” type of business for your brand. It is effective because you don’t bring on the wrong customers who actually can damage your business and put you out of business if you’re not careful. – David Wescott, Transblue

5 smart strategies for managing marketing analytics in a digital world

With today’s digital marketplace, businesses have never had so many options for getting their marketing messages in front of the public. Still, that doesn’t mean digital marketing is “easy.” As new platforms, tools and technology emerge, best practices in marketing change. Consumers are becoming more and more savvy to anything that smacks of a gimmick, and their expectations for meaningful, personalized outreach continue to rise.

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However, every audience is not the same, and meeting your target customers where they are and providing the unique information they need to know is essential to success. With all the options out there, it’s important for companies to not only keep up with the latest trends in marketing but also to carefully track which marketing methods, platforms and messages work best for them. And in this digital world, it’s not only the outreach methods that are changing — trends in marketing analytics are evolving as well.

Businesses looking to develop a well-rounded, accurate view of their marketing efforts need to blend old-school detail work with modern tech tools — all while being aware of the legal and ethical responsibilities that come with digital interactions with customers. Below, five industry leaders from Business Journals Leadership Trust share smart strategies to help you navigate modern marketing analytics.

1. Create target audience profiles.
Get to know your audience on a granular level, and do it by hand. Create samples of your target audience profiles, and then look through those profiles to see what they value, care about and love (and love to share). Doing it by hand as opposed to doing it via artificial intelligence is key. – Christopher Tompkins, The Go! Agency

2. Assign different weights to different platforms.
True cross-channel media optimization continues to be more and more critical. Media platforms are shifting on a daily basis, and your marketing efforts must constantly add different weights to different platforms to meet your brand’s KPIs and acquisition goals. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

3. Expand your use of AI.
The next big trend is definitely expanding the use of artificial intelligence. As AI becomes more sophisticated, marketers will apply it more and more for things like a detailed analysis of customer behavior, predicting customer needs based on behavioral patterns, and targeted marketing messaging and campaigns. To prepare, businesses need to make sure they have agile marketing teams ready to adapt to any change. – Peter Abualzolof, Mashvisor

4. Integrate predictive analytics.
While digital marketing is maturing in some aspects, it is still an evolving discipline. I believe the next wave is integrating big data, predictive analytics and machine learning to target “what’s next” in a customer’s purchasing lifecycle. Doing so will allow organizations to predict a customer’s next purchases and influence and market to them even before they realize they have a specific need. – Quoc Nguyen, Arthur Lawrence, LLC

5. Stay up to date with changing laws.
The changing landscape of digital and data privacy laws will continue to challenge marketers. Understanding how to collect data in a compliant way in all the jurisdictions in which you do business, while still achieving relevance and personalization, will become even more of a balancing act. – Jen McClure, 2GO Advisory Group

7 simple ways to get more revenue from current customers

Many business owners and entrepreneurs believe that in order to grow revenue, they need to expand their business, products or services or grow their customer base. However, there are usually some untapped methods to get more revenue from current customers.

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Before launching new products or services or looking for new customers, there are some simple ways to tap into the ones you currently have. Below, seven members of Business Journals Leadership Trust discuss some of the simplest ways to get more revenue from current customers and why they’re effective.

1. Find complimentary services.
Find complementary services that can help you grow or reach your campaign goals. Never sell unnecessary upsells; keep them essential. By doing this, you will then continue to be considered a thought leader by them. – Christopher Tompkins, The Go! Agency

2. Offer top-notch customer service.
In business, if cash is king, then revenue is queen. One simple way to get more revenue from current customers is to meet and exceed their expectations through top-notch products or services with executive customer service. This approach has a two-edged sword impact. First, customers are more likely to come back to buy more. Second, they will refer others, thus creating more revenue. – Emmanuel Eliason, Eliason Wealth Management

3. Match previous energy and passion.
Use the same energy and passion for delivering products or services used when pursuing customers. Delivery excellence is not simply meeting contract terms but going above and beyond contractual obligations. It may sound counterintuitive, but do not focus on the next thing you can sell. Instead, focus on creating and delivering the highest quality deliverable possible. – Quoc Nguyen, Arthur Lawrence, LLC.

4. Ensure it’s love at first touch.
The best way to ensure the highest revenue per customer is to ensure they love your product or brand from the first touch. This will lead to a purchase with them becoming a repeat customer and drive lifetime value. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

5. Preserve service consistency.
As a service business, it is as simple as treating them well! Be consistent. Meet your deadlines and maintain accuracy. Their trust in you will grow and they will inevitably ask you to do more. – Zane Stevens, Protea Financial

6. Deliver incredible experiences.
Share best practices, deliver an incredible customer experience and give them a reason to want to do more business with you. You get what you put into it! – David Wescott, Transblue

7. Maintain regular communication.
The easiest way is to retain existing customers for as long as possible. To do that, you must maintain regular communication with them to ensure that your product is still adequately meeting their needs. In our ever-changing world, the needs of customers are also always changing, so you need to understand them well and ensure that your product evolves with these needs in mind. – Peter Abualzolof, Mashvisor

12 ways for managers to understand what stakeholders want

Every business has various stakeholders, from customers and investors to employees. Every group of stakeholders expects something different from the company, and it’s important to keep them all satisfied.

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The first step to satisfying stakeholders is understanding what they want. Here, 12 members of Business Journals Leadership Trust discuss how managers can get a better understanding of what internal and external stakeholders want.

1. Solicit feedback in a safe manner.
Solicit feedback in a manner that feels safe to internal and external stakeholders. Focus the questions to ensure that feedback is targeted. Open-ended or vague questions discourage interest in responding because it doesn’t support real change. Finally, be open and welcoming to the feedback by providing a post-feedback follow-up so that internal and external stakeholders know you value their time. – Chelsea Suttmann, Barulich Dugoni & Suttmann Law Group, Inc.

2. Hold sensitive info in confidence.
When it comes to understanding what internal and external stakeholders want, need and expect from the C-suite, there is no substitute for listening. However, just being present to listen alone is not enough. You have to hold sensitive information in confidence, make timely and transparent leadership decisions with feedback and be engaged authentically for the long haul. – Carrie Collins-Fadell, Brain Injury Alliance

3. Talk through expected results.
Talk through the job to be done or the expected results. Many times it’s difficult to articulate what internal and external stakeholders want, so doing this can be more effective in understanding the desired outcomes. – Jawad Shaikh, Avelead

4. Have authentic conversations.
Ask them! We spend so much time assuming the wants of our stakeholders when personally asking them can be so meaningful. Having authentic and transparent conversations moves relationships forward in a sustainable and positive manner. – Lelia Kramer, Saint Ursula Academy

5. Keep constant communication.
There is no shortcut, social media or survey-based answer here. Constant communication is the only method to understand other people better, whether in a business, personal, internal or external setting. The fact that it’s hard work and most people won’t do it will set you — and your company — apart for years to come. – Daniel Sweet, Sweetview Partners, Inc.

6. Spend time for honest feedback.
Spend time with team members/staff, clients and referral sources to solicit honest feedback. Start the conversation with kind words about how important the stakeholder’s viewpoint is and then ask for thoughts on what’s working, what needs improvement and if they see opportunities worthy of consideration. Consider offering some kind of small gift as a “thank you” for their valuable time. – Wendy Merrill, Affinity Consulting Group

7. Create thought-provoking questions.
Research of existing stakeholders and potential stakeholders is key, but don’t just ask the standard “ranking” questions on satisfaction. Create thought-provoking, open-ended questions, such as “How can we improve our relationship?” or “What’s one thing we could do differently?” Engage face-to-face when possible, as what is on a survey is rarely the same as what you get in a two-way conversation. – Hinda Mitchell, Inspire PR Group

8. Hold bi-weekly/monthly meetings.
We call it a management operating system. This is a regular cadence of one-on-ones and/or team meetings with stakeholders that impact each other. For instance, the sales and marketing teams should sit down on a bi-weekly or monthly basis to discuss what’s working or not. As soon as these regular meetings start to wane, then misalignment starts to creep in and conflict arises. – Gary Braun, Pivotal Advisors, LLC

9. Have regular metrics meetings.
Holding quarterly and yearly meetings where you agree on metrics, one-year and three-year goals are key to getting alignment across the board. It also ensures everyone has clear goals and action items. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

10. Identify who serves each stakeholder.
We conduct live or surrogate stakeholder analyses delving into who are the stakeholders, why each one needs this team to be aligned and how each stakeholder measures the team’s success. This exercise reveals a team’s purpose and sets the stage for shaping and strengthening the drivers of team effectiveness. – Kim Baker, Vivid Performance Group

11. Practice active listening.
Practice active listening, and take notes. Leaders take notes, listening and ensuring they have heard what their counterpart is talking about. If you focus on listening, you will understand what your stakeholders really want. – David Wescott, Transblue

12. Get ‘boots-on-the-ground’ experience.
If you want to keep your pulse on what’s happening, take a walk in their shoes. Getting a “boots-on-the-ground” experience with your stakeholders can help you understand what’s working and what needs help. – Kimberly Lucas, Goldstone Partners

13 ways to develop an organic marketing strategy

While businesses can (and do) spend a ton of money on marketing to see results, they don’t necessarily need to. With some creativity and clever strategizing in the marketing department, a company can see similar results doing it all on its own.

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Developing an effective organic marketing strategy on a low budget isn’t exactly a piece of cake, but it is possible. Here, 13 members of Business Journals Leadership Trust share some key ways to do so.

1. Interview your executives and clients.
Interview your executives and clients (together if possible). Interviews are a quick and scalable way to generate deep thought leadership content. Include your clients and prospective clients to get a two-for-one deal that promotes you both. Integrate social media postings of the published interviews into your and your clients’ platforms for a simple social media campaign with expanded reach. – Ryan Blanch, Repute PR + Law

2. Help current clients with their needs.
Focus on customer service! There are millions of ways to bring in new clients, but customer service is by far the best and most productive strategy. By helping our current clients with their needs, we receive referrals. We feel that our clients are our best spokespersons. The key is to provide top-of-the-line service. – Arnold Garza, Houston Center Real Estate

3. Use measurable tools for assessment.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Focus is essential and having measurable tools to assess success. Public relations and customer relations are the two most affordable programs for early-stage companies. However, to drive social revenue, direct marketing also needs to be part of the program for growth. – Donna Michaels, LMGPR

4. Narrow your audience.
Narrow your audience and then narrow it again (and maybe one more time). Too often, businesses think their audience is “everyone,” which is the fastest way to have an audience of no one. Drill down. Today, you can market online based on gender, race, age, location and interests — the options are nearly infinite. Define exactly who you want to talk to and then go find them. – Sam Davidson, Batch

5. Set KPIs that matter, and keep up with them.
Set key performance indicators that matter and ones that you keep up with! Whether it is paid or organic, it is important that you identify what measurable number you want to focus on. If you’re not sure where to start, do a competitive analysis and see what your competitors have that you want! – Christopher Tompkins, The Go! Agency

6. Deliver an incredible customer experience.
Deliver an incredible customer experience. Deliver incredible results and your business will grow without marketing and advertising. Quality is still king, so there are always opportunities for new business because someone is always letting their client down! Deliver a world-class service and you will have more business than you can handle! – David Wescott, Transblue

7. Build meaningful, engaging experiences.
Build experiences that are highly meaningful and engaging, and be able to measure the responses. Give customers opportunities to embrace what you do and what you offer, encouraging them to also invite their communities to join them in supporting you. Conversely, be sure to embrace the community around you by using engagement strategies that leave a positive, lasting impression. – John Harris, Digital Environment LLC

8. Have a defined point of view.
Have a well-defined point of view you want to share. Create a strategy that provides for specific and consistent representation in various channels where your customers are. Create avenues for customers to provide input about what they would like to see and use those customer ideas publicly as you then see to meet those needs. Ask for testimonials and referrals, and use them to market the company. – Kimberly Janson, Janson Associates

9. Join industry-specific associations.
One of the most effective approaches to developing an organic marketing plan is to join industry-specific groups or trade associations. With insights gathered through active participation, an organization can build a targeted marketing plan that will reach prospective customers where they are likely to visit for content relating to their industry. – Quoc Nguyen, Arthur Lawrence, LLC.

10. Create informative content.
Creating high-quality, informative content focused on the right keywords can do miracles for driving organic traffic to your website. This has been the most cost-efficient strategy to generate leads for our company and it’s fully scalable. The key is consistency. Figure out the frequency at which you can post new content, whether it’s daily or weekly, and stick to it. – Peter Abualzolof, Mashvisor

11. Know your core audience well.
Knowing your core audience and segmentation. Also, knowing which customers convert the strongest and have the largest purchase history should be your main target to generate the most amount of ROI. You then can test at varying levels with other marketing channels and diversify the audience. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

12. Collaborate with a microinfluencer.
Collaborate with a budget-friendly microinfluencer with an authentic appreciation for your products or services to strengthen your online marketing strategy. Compared to the classic influencer with tons of followers, microinfluencers have smaller audiences, but can be equally persuasive among their niche audience. To start, look for a well-matched microinfluencer who is open to in-kind trade. – Lincoln Jacobe, 6 Pillars Marketing

13. Speak at events and write articles.
I’ve found the most powerful organic marketing strategy is public relations. PR provides authentic, credible and affordable awareness and perception-building. Speaking at industry events, writing articles for industry publications, submitting for awards and making yourself available to the media are all foundational PR strategies that move the needle. – Kent Lewis, Deksia

8 essential things to understand about consumer psychology

Every business needs customers to survive and thrive. Gaining a better understanding of consumers as individuals can help inform current and future business decisions.

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It’s important to understand everything you can about your customers, but there are some essential things to focus on that drive deeper connections. Here, eight members of Business Journals Leadership Trust discuss what those things are and how they help.

1. Find out their interests/passions to offer value.
Understand that these are individuals that breathe air and have interests, passions, things they hate and things they love. Then, find out what they are and how you can offer value to them in terms of content and more. – Christopher Tompkins, The Go! Agency

2. Watch what they do.
Watch what consumers do, not what they say. Consumers are notoriously bad at saying what they are willing to spend money on, but they often don’t really know what they want until they experience it. Build testing into your product to give consumers options and watch what they choose. Think of the adage, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” – Jeremy Brandt, 1-800-CashOffer

3. Note the breadth of their areas of concern.
Companies should learn what the biggest areas consumers are concerned about are because when you solve concerns or fears, you are creating stickiness with your customers. Additionally, noting the breadth of these issues will provide you with ideas on product extensions or new ways to meet current or future customer needs. – Kimberly Janson, Janson Associates

4. Understand why companies buy from you.
Understand why your companies buy from you. What is their “why” for working with you? What is your superpower? Identifying this and focusing on it in your business will help your business hit the goals you have in place. Business is about relationships, and the stronger the relationships the stronger the business. – David Wescott, Transblue

5. Create buyer personas of primary segments.
The most effective and efficient path to understanding your customers as individuals is to create buyer personas that consist of composite images of primary customer segments. With defined personas the entire company can rally behind, the next step is to dive deeper into their psychology. Consider what the problems are that you are solving, their symptoms and associated emotions. This is foundational marketing. – Kent Lewis, Deksia

6. Help them understand whole-life benefits.
A consumer needs to genuinely understand what the product benefits are, from a whole life perspective, and how it will positively impact them, society and the environment. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

7. Add or create value with every interaction.
Every customer interaction or touch point can only yield one of three results: maintain the status quo, destroy trust or create/add new value to the customers. Unfortunately, two of the above-mentioned approaches yield the same negative outcome. Develop a strategy to add/create value with every interaction. Value creation should be front and center with each interaction — no exception. – Quoc Nguyen, Arthur Lawrence, LLC.

8. Collect feedback from satisfied customers.
One of the basic principles of consumer psychology that many businesses fail to understand and apply is that customers are significantly more likely to trust other customers than anyone else when it comes to choosing whether or not to go with your product. Thus, businesses need to focus on collecting positive feedback from satisfied consumers to build brand awareness and new consumer trust. – Peter Abualzolof, Mashvisor

10 practical things leaders can do to help team members avoid burnout

It’s not news to business leaders across the nation that the current labor market is tight. In a movement that’s been dubbed the “Great Resignation,” many professionals are leaving unsatisfying jobs or workplaces to seek a better fit, while others are willing to extend their job searches until they find the best work situation for their unique circumstances.

Finding and retaining talent is increasingly challenging for businesses, so it’s essential for leaders to take good care of the valued team members they already have. However, the very circumstances that are leading to labor shortages also contribute to added stress for workers and businesses that are already struggling. Many companies are short-staffed at the moment, which can lead to extra work, stress and fatigue for team members.

In these times, it’s essential to develop strategies to help your team members avoid burnout. Here, 10 members of Business Journals Leadership Trust discuss some practical things businesses can do to help team members stay on track, manage stress and continue to thrive in their roles.

1. Follow the Pareto principle.
Set clear goals and expectations about what is important, and have team members focus on those items that will have the most impact, following the Pareto principle (aka the 80/20 rule). This principle states that 20% of activity accounts for 80% of output, so be sure to prioritize (with the team’s input) the tasks, clients and outcomes that should be focused on, and let the others go. – Lisa Riley, Delta Business Advisors, LLC

2. Focus on your top priorities.
Learn to prioritize. As a business, especially a startup, you’ll always want to achieve more than is possible with the available resources. To stay focused and succeed, organize projects in order of priority for the business, and start from the top. Don’t try to work on all possible aspects of your business simultaneously, because your team will feel overwhelmed and not achieve anything concrete. – Peter Abualzolof, Mashvisor

3. Encourage the team to share their views.
Businesses should help team members avoid burnout during these busy and stressful times by creating an environment where they can share their views and options about schedules, workloads or projects in a judgment-free zone. – Emmanuel Eliason, Eliason Wealth Management

4. Reallocate tasks and adjust timelines as needed.
Reallocate and re-timeline projects. When you’re short-staffed, you can’t expect to get everything done on the same timelines you originally planned or hoped. Spend time reallocating tasks or projects where possible, and adjust the remaining projects to more realistic timelines. Something has to give, and you don’t want it to be quality, so reduce what needs to be done to a reasonable level. – Laura Doehle, Elevation Business Consulting

5. Make sure you have the needed time and resources for new projects.
I begin by negotiating a reasonable schedule with the client. Often, businesses agree to unreasonable schedules just to win work. I then evaluate whether we have the right team for the project. Having the wrong team on a project results in inefficiencies, which in turn results in overwork. – Jerry Ramos, LJA Program Management, LLC

6. Bring on assistants for key staff members.
Hire assistants for your key staff members who are experiencing burnout. You can use sites such as Upwork to find virtual assistants who can help with the lower-level administrative tasks that your team just might be mired in. This support expands your team’s bandwidth and, in many cases, leads to the creation of more valuable employees. – Christopher Tompkins, The Go! Agency

7. Batch tasks by similarity.
As much as we’d like to be, most of us are not good at multitasking. It’s just how the brain works. Instead, try to batch tasks by similarity. For example, schedule all sales calls in a row so you have three consecutive hours of doing the same thing and don’t have to shift focus back and forth. This simple change can reduce the stress of day-to-day work, and it also has a positive long-term effect. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

8. Recognize and reward your team for their great work.
Acknowledge the heavy load, and remember to recognize and reward your team for their great work. And have fun with it! Everyone needs something to smile about, which can help alleviate stress and limit burnout. – Rebecca Thorburn, Visible Impact

9. Pitch in as needed.
Acknowledge that work can come in quickly. Providing upper-level or management support on a campaign until it’s up and running can greatly help during a heavy workload period, which will smooth out over time. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

10. Proactively address mental health.
One way to help alleviate stress and burnout is to proactively address mental health issues. Providing outlets for employees to talk, share concerns or work through issues is paramount. Our company benefits include mental health consultation, for example. Helping employees stay organized and increase efficiency is also a potential fix. – Kent Lewis, Deksia

6 customer success metrics that can provide insight into marketing efforts

Creating a successful marketing strategy requires a combination of creativity and analysis. Marketing isn’t static, so metrics need to be constantly adjusted and analyzed.

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While all metrics provide some insight into marketing efforts, some are more valuable than others. Below, six members of Business Journals Leadership Trust discuss the customer success metrics that provide the most invaluable insights into marketing efforts.

1. Engagement.
We measure client satisfaction through both quantitative and qualitative metrics. While numbers never lie, neither does a client’s active engagement. It’s important to review how engaged clients are and continuously build a relationship that is not transactional. This balance of meeting both numbers and needs has proven to be invaluable. – Kathleen Lucente, Red Fan Communications

2. Customer retention rates, employee attrition.
We focus on customer retention rates along with employee attrition. Sharing these positive metrics with our target audience has provided immeasurable value. – Jared Knisley, Fizen Technology

3. Repeat business from existing clients.
Repeat business is an important metric. Every time you get a new assignment from an existing client, take it as a sign that you are doing things right. – Jerry Ramos, LJA Program Management, LLC

4. Returning customers, if and how soon.
A natural customer service metric is if and how soon someone becomes a returning customer because lifetime value is the key to any customer acquisition. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

5. Net client retention, net growth.
One difficult to measure but highly impactful success metric for us has been net client retention or net growth. Client retention is a leading and lagging indicator of revenue and business success. Net growth is an important metric to understand how effective your client services team is at building relationships, with a goal of more than 10% of growth across all accounts at our agency. – Kent Lewis, Deksia

6. Customer lifetime value, cost efficiency.
Customer lifetime value is key. One of the main factors in marketing is keeping the cost efficient, so you should know that your cost of acquisition for each marketing channel is below your customer lifetime value. Otherwise, you are just throwing money down the drain rather than growing your customer base and expanding your business in a profitable way. – Peter Abualzolof, Mashvisor

8 questions a manager should ask direct reports during reviews

While employees may look forward to reviews or scheduled one-on-ones to get advice from their manager, these conversations offer managers an opportunity to learn new things from their employees too. The best way to do this is to ask the right questions.

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During employee reviews and meetings, managers can ask questions of their employees to gain insight into different perspectives of the company or to learn more about their team. Here, eight members of Business Journals Leadership Trust share the essential questions that managers should ask.

1. What makes the company an attractive place to work?
If the employee has been at the firm for a while, what makes them stay? What are we doing as a company to make this an attractive place to work? You can learn a lot from the positive aspects of your workplace. – Bruce Weber, Weber Group

2. Are there any doors I can open for you right now?
Ask if there are any roadblocks you can take out of their way or doors you can open for them right now. This question indicates your confidence in your direct report’s skills and that you are willing to empower them to do their best work. – Rebecca Thorburn, Visible Impact

3. How are you?
As a manager, your goal is to help people. To help people, you do need to have a relationship. Even though it is a professional relationship, it does need to be there. Take time to see how they are doing and how things are going in their personal lives. Asking questions to see how their life is going will provide a lot of answers on the “why” relating to work performance. Start with, “How are you?” – Zane Stevens, Protea Financial

4. What motivates you and your work?
It’s always great to find out what truly motivates someone to understand what they love about their work or what processes they think can be optimized to continue to strive for improvement. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

5. How can I help provide you tools, resources and training?
An essential question that managers should ask is, “How can I help you?” The manager is there to ensure the employees have all the tools, resources and training to deliver the required outcomes. Regularly asking how you can help them reaffirms you are there to help when the need arises. – Laura Doehle, Elevation Business Consulting

6. What ‘wins’ would you like me to acknowledge?
Beyond asking how you can be of service to your team, I’ve found asking a few personal questions helps build rapport and encourages the free flow of information. I’ve also asked about the “wins” they would like me or us to acknowledge as they are important in increasing confidence and appreciation for management. – Kent Lewis, Anvil Media, Inc.

7. What are you working on that you’re excited about?
It’s helpful to create space to reflect on their work and how they’re doing overall, beyond the status updates or challenges to discuss. This means asking things like, “What are you working on that you’re most excited about?” or “What is frustrating you lately?” to continue for both you and them to hone in on who they are, what is meaningful work to them and possible changes to consider. – Amy Marshall, Slalom

8. How do you rate job satisfaction?
One of the most revealing questions I ask is, “On a scale of one to 10, how would you rate your job satisfaction?” If the rating isn’t a 10, “What would make it a 10?” This provides actionable input for you as a manager. – Kimberly Lucas, Goldstone Partners

7 industry leaders’ tips for coping with supply chain issues

Headlines about ongoing supply chain issues are all over the media, and consumers are increasingly becoming used to seeing sparsely filled or even empty shelves in stores. But supply chain issues aren’t only hitting the retail sector; businesses across industries are struggling to maintain adequate supplies of the materials they need.

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A fast and easy answer to widespread supply chain issues isn’t likely to come soon. Still, there are several ways that businesses can adapt so they can continue to provide services to customers and clients. Below, seven members of Business Journals Leadership Trust share their best advice to help leaders cope with ongoing supply shortages and delivery slowdowns.

1. Be upfront with clients.
Be transparent! We’re all facing supply chain difficulties and running into backlog issues. The client will (or should) understand the challenges in the current market with supply. Where you get into hot water is when you aren’t upfront about these constraints and the customer is continuously disappointed by delays. You may have one the first deal, but you’ll never win another. – Colt Parsons, Insight

2. Look for new ways to serve customers.
Every crisis is the foundation for a new opportunity or service. It’s hard to get business partners to consider changes when things are rolling along. Supply chain issues create a perfect environment to secure the attention of senior leaders to propose meaningful change. – Dave Doherty, Digi-Key

3. Relay information from your suppliers to clients.
Prepare your team and your clients by diligently keeping in touch with your suppliers. In the construction and design industry, we are advising our clients to order things earlier than they would traditionally be needed to try to stay ahead of supply chain interruptions. When there are interruptions, we assess if there are alternative solutions that won’t compromise the final desired product. – Laret Casella, Casella Interiors

4. Ensure processes are optimized before a crisis hits.
The best way to weather any storm as a business — including one related to supply chain shortages — is to be prepared. Before a crisis hits, make sure that your processes are optimized and rely on the most essential inputs only. Establish relations with alternative suppliers and look for substitute inputs. Build a team that is capable of helping you find alternative solutions in case of a crisis. – Peter Abualzolof, Mashvisor

5. Find out each client’s driving factors.
Driving factors vary for clients; some may prefer to wait things out while others will be willing to do whatever it takes, whether that’s paying a premium or waiting for the long haul. Find out what your client’s driving factors are first. Establish systems and relationships that allow you to address your client’s needs irrespective of where their goals and objectives fall. – Maleda Berhane, AR Spruce LLC

6. Always have alternate supply sources, and shop locally.
Specific products will fall victim to supply chain issues. That is why it’s important to be looking well in advance to problem-solve issues that come up. Source replacement products or locally sourced supplies that will not have the same issues. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

7. Consider what customers need versus what they want.
As you consider what you provide, consider what customers truly need versus what they want. Creative solutions are often met with grace during challenging times. Also, think: What else can you provide them? For example, if you provide a product, what adjacent services can you provide to help fortify the customer or fill a different need? Or if you provide a service, is there an alternative? – Kimberly Janson, Janson Associates