6 Things To Consider If You Are In A Workplace Romance

6 Things To Consider If You Are In A Workplace Romance

As Valentine’s Day approaches, love is in the air. But, if you are in a relationship with a co-worker or thinking about starting one, there’s plenty that you can do to avoid embarrassment, hurt or disruption for yourself and your colleagues. What should you know?  Angela Civitella is a former executive, certified business leadership coach and founder of Intinde.

She Says There Are Six Things To Consider:

  • Check your organization’s HR policy: Many organizations have their own policies on workplace relationships. For example, some companies frown upon one partner managing the other. It’s not that your boss doesn’t want you to be happy, there are larger considerations such as breaches of compliance, conflicts of interest, or inappropriate collusion. The safest option is to ask your HR department if it has a policy in place, and to let your HR Advisor know if you are in a workplace relationship.
  • Consider your company’s culture: Even if it’s not written into HR policy, you need to get a feel for your organization’s cultural view on workplace relationships. This is especially important if you are working abroad, or in an organization with a different culture from your own.
  • Agree to an approach with your partner: Chances are, your colleagues and co-workers already know that you “have a crush” on the redhead in the sales team or the “hunk” in communications, and they may already suspect that it has blossomed into a relationship. You have to decide with your partner how you’ll behave at work. Do you “come clean” and let your colleagues know what’s going on? Or, do you join the third of workplace couples who decide to keep their relationship a secret? Discuss whether to set some boundaries at work, such as not spending too much time alone together, or agreeing not to use your “pet names” for one another
  • Stay professional at work: Your colleagues might approve of your office romance and think you’re the best-matched couple since Romeo and Juliet, but you still need to tread carefully. Indulging in in-jokes, private conversations, and public displays of affection can make your co-workers feel awkward. And if you and your partner are eating lunch together in the staff restaurant, other colleagues may not know whether you want privacy or would welcome the extra company. Why not invite a few more people along? Even if they decline your invitation, you have made the offer. If you discuss business matters together – or, worse still, make business decisions – while your co-workers are absent, it will likely cause resentment. If you’re managing your partner, you need to be especially mindful of your professional interactions, and be seen to be extra careful to treat your other team members equally and fairly.
  • Be prepared for gossip! Human beings are social animals, and we connect with one another by sharing stories and experiences. And the more exciting or shocking those stories, the more engaging they become. So, even if you rigorously follow the rules and are careful with your actions, some people may be quick to make assumptions and to see favoritism or nepotism that’s just not there. It’s a kind of fake news.
  • Plan for the worst: What if the relationship ends? You have to remain professional if your workplace relationship comes to an end, no matter what the reason. This can be a difficult time for you, your ex-partner, and your colleagues, especially if you still have to work closely together. An acrimonious split can poison the atmosphere in the workplace, and impact productivity and morale. If you manage your ex-partner, make sure that you don’t discriminate against them, or you and your organization risk being the subject of a grievance procedure. Don’t get involved in “muck-raking” or “washing your dirty linen in public,” even if your former partner does.

Written By:  Angela Civitella, a former executive, certified business leadership coach and founder of Intinde.

The Most Popular Solopreneur Jobs Nationwide for 2020

One of the biggest misconceptions about becoming your own boss is that you have to create a grand business plan in order to be successful. Luckily, that isn’t always the case. There are options to do what you love and provide services that can allow you the freedom of being self-employed. If you love to teach, bake, create, provide child care, get people organized, then you can become your own boss! All you have to do is decide on the service you can provide and make your dream a reality!

Business.org is ready to help American’s ditch the “9 to 5” and become their own boss in 2020. But which dreams are American’s most likely to pursue? It turns out that entrepreneurs who want to go solo (like an entrepreneur but doing it solo), have quite a few options they’re exploring. Using data from Google Trends, we found around 30 frequently searched solopreneur jobs. We then broke those jobs down by state to figure out where, exactly, each solopreneurial venture is most popular. Check out the full report to each state’s results.”

Here are some interesting findings about on the most popular solopreneur jobs nationwide for 2020.

  • Surprising absolutely no one, California’s top-ranked solopreneur job is social media influencer
  • A little more surprising? “Social media influencer” was also the most-searched term in Illinois and Texas—two lovely
    states, of course, but both with a much lower reputation for stardom than La-La Land.
  • Estheticians had the most-searched solopreneur job in Hawaii (spa treatments clearly go hand in hand with paradise-
    seeking vacationers).
  • People in Idaho and Utah seem to need a little extra encouragement; life coaching came in first in both states.
  • “Amazon seller” took first place in three states thousands of miles apart: Florida, Nevada, and New Jersey. Obviously,
    solopreneurs can follow Amazon’s motto (“Work Hard. Have Fun.”) no matter where in the US they live.
The Most Popular Solopreneur Jobs Nationwide for 2020

The Most Popular Solopreneur Jobs Nationwide for 2020

One of the biggest misconceptions about becoming your own boss is that you have to create a grand business plan in order to be successful. Luckily, that isn’t always the case. There are options to do what you love and provide services that can allow you the freedom of being self-employed. If you love to teach, bake, create, provide child care, get people organized, then you can become your own boss! All you have to do is decide on the service you can provide and make your dream a reality!

Business.org is ready to help American’s ditch the “9 to 5” and become their own boss in 2020. But which dreams are American’s most likely to pursue? It turns out that entrepreneurs who want to go solo (like an entrepreneur but doing it solo), have quite a few options they’re exploring. Using data from Google Trends, we found around 30 frequently searched solopreneur jobs. We then broke those jobs down by state to figure out where, exactly, each solopreneurial venture is most popular. Check out the full report to each state’s results.”

Here are some interesting findings about on the most popular solopreneur jobs nationwide for 2020.

  • Surprising absolutely no one, California’s top-ranked solopreneur job is social media influencer
  • A little more surprising? “Social media influencer” was also the most-searched term in Illinois and Texas—two lovely
    states, of course, but both with a much lower reputation for stardom than La-La Land.
  • Estheticians had the most-searched solopreneur job in Hawaii (spa treatments clearly go hand in hand with paradise-
    seeking vacationers).
  • People in Idaho and Utah seem to need a little extra encouragement; life coaching came in first in both states.
  • “Amazon seller” took first place in three states thousands of miles apart: Florida, Nevada, and New Jersey. Obviously,
    solopreneurs can follow Amazon’s motto (“Work Hard. Have Fun.”) no matter where in the US they live.
Quick Guide to Marketing for Small Business Saturday – November 30

Quick Guide to Marketing for Small Business Saturday – November 30

Organizations have many options when it comes to marketing for Small Business Saturday, which occurs on the first Saturday after Thanksgiving. Small Business Saturday encourages consumers to support local businesses. The event drives attention to local small companies, presenting them with an opportunity to create brand awareness and increase local sales.

Taking advantage of Small Business Saturday requires planning, executing, and financing strategies. Funding your efforts can be done through securing a small business loan. The working capital can be used to hire seasonal staff, purchase extra inventory, or pay for a marketing campaign.

However, marketing isn’t always simple. Here’s what you need to know and how to take advantage of small business’s big day.

Ramp Up Digital Marketing for Small Business Saturday

Brands must work to engage customers through both digital and physical means. This omnichannel experience begins with digital marketing basics. You Should Consider:

Building Relationships on Social Media: Connecting with customers on social media can help you capture additional holiday sales. When marketing for Small Business Saturday, you may want to gradually tease out your plans for the big day. You can use social media to broadcast a special offer or invite customers to an in-store event. Social media is ideal for highlighting how you plan to celebrate Small Business Saturday. When posting on social media, be sure to include the #ShopSmall and #SmallBizSat hashtags.

Using Email Marketing: Email campaigns are an effective way to garner consumer attention and bring awareness to exclusive Small Business Saturday deals. It’s important to go beyond broad, generic messages. Personalization is increasingly vital in standing out in email campaigns.  Key Strategies to Employ:

  • Take the time to get to know your audience.
  • Create copy aimed directly at them.
  • Highlight promotions that fit their needs.
  • Give them a clear action to take in response to the message.

Fostering Online Reviews: Consumers actively research products and services before committing to a purchase. Consider teaming up with an influencer who has a large following and a fair amount of influence within your area or niche. You can send them product samples in return for an honest review. This will help drive visibility and increase consumer confidence.

Implement Traditional Advertising Programs

Small businesses benefit from the ability to offer localized, personal services. You can leverage your relationship with your community to build trust and increase brand awareness. Traditional advertising campaigns can be ideal for furthering your presence in your community. Key Strategies to Employ:

Getting Involved With Your Local Xommunity: Participating in community service events helps you get to know those around you. And helps them get to know your business. Interacting with potential customers in a community setting shows that you’re interested in relationship building rather than just maximizing sales. You could consider sponsoring a charity or local event. Successful community involvement plans require commitment and a genuine interest in what you’re doing.

Run Ad Campaigns With Local Media: If you want to drive engagement at a local level, you must use channels that are specifically aimed at your local community. Your message can slip into the background on far-reaching media channels, but an ad campaign in a local paper can go a long way in helping people connect with your brand.

Offer Deals and Promotions: It’s critical to recognize the importance of deals and promotions when marketing for Small Business Saturday. Limited time offers, and discounts can persuade customers who are on the fence about your products and services to give them a try.

Prepare Your Systems and Operations

If you’re successful at marketing for Small Business Saturday, then you’ll need to be prepared for an increase in volume and customer interactions. Consider:

Optimizing for Mobile: Consumers do everything from product research to actual purchases via smartphones and tablets. Make sure your website is mobile optimized. If your website is not optimized for mobile, you risk running into problems as you work to increase traffic surrounding Small Business Saturday.

Updating Your Website: Make sure your address and contact info is correct on your website. Additionally, review your site to make sure that promotions are prominently displayed, and your payment process is working properly. Put new product pictures out if your current listings seem dated and ensure copy properly reflects your services. Take time to upgrade and adjust your site before the big event.

Hiring Seasonal Staff: Since Small Business Saturday falls in line with the holiday season,  it’s a convenient time to bring in extra staff. Seasonal employees can be used to help launch a new marketing campaign, handle sales, or interact with customers.

Managing Your Inventory: One of the most important considerations for Small Business Saturday is that you have plenty of goods to sell. A boost in sales won’t matter if you don’t have inventory available to meet customer needs. Take some time to analyze your supplies and ensure you’re ready for the increase in demand.

By participating in Small Business Saturday, local businesses receive quite a few perks including community support, great local marketing opportunities, and the high potential to reach new customers. Utilize the above marketing strategies to better prepare for Small Business Saturday and take advantage of the shopping frenzy.

Ben Gold is president of QuickBridge, a privately-held financial services firm providing “small business loans” and short-term working capital funding solutions for small-to medium-sized businesses nationwide. Based on its growth, QuickBridge has ranked two consecutive years on the Inc. 500 Fastest Growing American Companies list. Ben is a thought leader in the financial tech. industry and a contributing member of the Forbes Finance Council.

7 Common Communication Blunders

7 Common Communication Blunders

Have you ever said something at work you wish you hadn’t? Sometimes the wrong words just blurt out to employees or with the client. The first step in fixing common communication blunders on the job is to know what those blunders are. Then you can say something the smart way and not the dumb way.  Verbal communication expert, Greg Alcorn, CEO of Global Contact Services (GCS) of Salisbury, NC, is the author of 7 Dumb Things We All Say and speaks to thousands of people each year on improving verbal communication at work.

 

HERE ARE THE SEVEN BIGGEST BLUNDERS YOU MAY NOT HAVE USED, BUT HAVE DEFINITELY COME ACROSS:  

Using Bad Bookends. The biggest blunder is starting and ending what you say with the wrong phrasing. Conversation bookends are the small comments or questions just before or right after a full statement or request for action. Be better with your starting and ending bookends. Pre-sentence bookends as a tool can be engaging, demeaning, or distracting. Names are great bookends. Starting a sentence with the name of the person you are talking to warms that person up. “Mary, may I put you on hold?” Saying your name last in your introduction makes it easy for the person you are talking with remember your name. “This is the help line; my name is Jack.”

Starting with Wrong First Words. Are you familiar with the adage, “Getting off on the wrong foot”? Conversations have first impressions, and they begin with your first three words. Hint: one of the words should be the other person’s name. Using names is important when speaking on the phone, especially conference calls. Conference call principle number one is if you’re going to call on somebody, start with the name. Instead of saying, “What were the metrics on our operations yesterday, Frank?” ask the right way: “Frank, what were the metrics on our operation yesterday?” If you don’t start with the name, you might catch the person by surprise. It certainly catches people’s attention when you say their name first.

Not Choosing Your Words Well. The words you choose paint a picture for the listener. Your words express your attitude and your personality. Keep it positive. Don’t start a sentence with the word “no.” Even in introductions, you can’t go wrong with saying the person’s name first. A person’s name followed by the four words “I need your help” is a winner. “Rachel, I need your help.” This is especially powerful when it’s in a situation in which you might be the boss and the other person might be a manager, or you might be in a perceived superior position.

Poor Questions and Bad Listening. Meaningful questions always stay on subject, keep a conversation moving forward, and ensure the other person feels heard and understood. Becoming a better listener is easier than you might think. It starts by committing to be a great listener and making an active choice to listen. Ask good questions and really listen. This is the “You have two ears and one mouth” principle.

Focus-on-Me Attitude. Making it all about you is a turn off for them. This is not a technique; this is an attitude. The best way to describe a benefit is to describe the feeling received. “I came by as soon as I heard you lost the sale; I’m sad.” The fellow employee can recognize the extra effort and surely appreciates the sentiment. It’s a powerful sentence. A special visit, a sense of urgency, and a sincere feeling (sad). Empathy shows feelings.

Wrong Tone. People feel more comfortable with pleasant, variable tone quality. Voice tone is made up of rate, pitch, and volume. Think tone and don’t drone. The tone of our voice helps others to hear our empathy. The rate, pitch, and volume of our statements of empathy helps express feelings. Usually, but not always, we hear implied empathy when somebody slows down speech and lowers the pitch and volume. Say, “I am sad to hear that you lost the supermarket account,” and I’ll bet you will automatically say it slow and low. The same with excitement at the opposite end of the spectrum. Say “Team, we won the hotel account!” You can’t help but say it fast, high, and loud. Tone expresses empathy.

Not Diffusing Difficult Drama. Stressful conversations, or drama, can be avoided by mastering word selection, listening, and questioning skills. Drama can be inevitable, however. Most stressful situations can be defused when you apply the three Rs: recognize, restate, and reassure. Ask others: “What would you like to see happen?” Those are seven magic words that can defuse difficult drama: Words are just a tool, like electricity is a tool. And like any tool, they can be used for helping or for harming. Electricity can cook a person’s dinner, or it can burn a person’s dinner. Words can turn people on or turn people off.

Here is the bottom line: Nobody wants to say dumb things. But we all do. The first step towards reducing the number of dumb things you say is to know what the dumb things are. Then don’t say that, say something smarter.

 

How to Survive the Coming Data Privacy Tsunami

How to Survive the Coming Data Privacy Tsunami

Author, KRISTINA PODNAR is a digital policy innovator. For over two decades, she has worked with some of the most high-profile companies in the world and has helped them see policies as opportunities to free the organization from uncertainty, risk, and internal chaos. Podnar’s approach brings in marketing, human resources, IT, legal, compliance, security, and procurement to create digital policies and practices that comply with regulations, unlock opportunity, strengthen the brand and liberate employees.

 Just as we have gotten used to the idea that the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a fact of life and have made modifications in our data collection procedures, the Brazil General Data Protection Law (LGDP), the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and waves of proposed new data privacy laws are swirling in the calm forewarning of a privacy tsunami heading our way. In the middle of such deep acronym swirls, it could be easy to be overwhelmed. However, all the privacy regulations share a number of commonalities and by addressing these now, you will be on high ground as the waves begin to pound.

The compliance life raft

While you will need to pay attention to the details of individual data regulations as they arise, whether already adopted, pending adoption, or only proposed, all the regulations share certain commonalities that you should consider addressing as part of ongoing operations.

Accountability and governance

At the heart of data privacy requirements is the aim to have organizations develop a plan to self-manage data in a way that respects end users. To address accountability and governance requirements in your organization, consider, have you:

  • Reviewed the applicability and risk to the organization from data privacy issues, and considered alternatives, including insurance, in case you are fined?
  • Mandated that data privacy become part of the policy program, including staff training, measurement, and compliance reporting?
  • Clearly documented roles, responsibilities, and reporting lines to embed privacy compliance

Consent and processing

A fundamental privacy regulation concept is that end users are aware when and why their data is collected, and what happens to it once it’s given. To address these requirements, ask yourself whether you have:

  • Reviewed that the data being collected and used is necessary and for the benefit of completing a desired action by the user?
  • Identified sensitive data and ensured it is treated as such through the use of special encryption or by validating vendor storage practices for sensitive data, etc.?
  • Confirmed that user consent for data collection is clearly captured and documented, and that user data can be modified or erased?

Notifications and data rights

Gone are the days of legalese or simply taking data from users because we can. Data privacy regulations require transparency, user awareness, and forthright behavior by businesses. To ensure you get this right, ask yourself whether the organization has:

  • Written user notices clearly so they can be easily understood—properly targeted to children where relevant—and are reflective of specific data collection and usage purposes?
  • Updated the internal organization’s data privacy policy to clearly state the rights of prospects and customers regarding the collection and processing of their personal data?
  • Created and tested processes to correct and delete all user data if needed?
  • Developed a solution to give users their data in a portable electronic format?

Privacy design

Organizations that treat privacy as a core design principle will always be in alignment with data privacy regulations. In my consulting experience, I see many self-disciplined organizations that have historically had good privacy practices and have little to address with each new law. To get to that state, ask whether you have:

  • Created or updated the policy and associated process to embed privacy into all technology and digital projects, including those outsourced to vendors and partners?

Data breach notification

For many organizations, the question nowadays isn’t whether the organization will have a breach, but rather when will it happen and how will they respond. To address regulatory breach aspects, ask whether the organization has:

  • Created (or reviewed and updated an existing) data breach policy and response plan to reflect detection, notification, and the actions to mitigate loss?
  • Considered and obtained insurance for a possible data breach and regulatory penalties that the organization may face but not be able to handle on its own?
  • Incorporated data breach terms and requirements into all vendor and third-party contracts?

Data localization

New data privacy regulations state where data physically must be stored, and if transferred to another country, what are the requirements for doing so. Your organization will be well positioned to meet this requirement if it can answer:

  • Have we identified and updated all cross-border data flows from the country where the data is collected, and reviewed data export for on-premise and cloud solutions?

Children’s online privacy considerations

Data privacy regulations are concerned with end users, but  are even more strict about children and their online data protection and rights. It is best to get ahead of these issues by asking whether the organization has:

  • Defined what data it collects from children, whether as a business practice or through efforts like “take your child to work day”?
  • Are user notifications and online privacy statements written in a way that a child could understand them, and do they state that parental consent is required?

Contracting and procurement

Most businesses may struggle to understand exactly what personal user data is collected via websites, mobile applications, and other digital platforms, especially through third-party software solutions and vendors. To make sure that your organization isn’t caught out, ask whether you have:

  • Reviewed and ensured that all vendors, customers, and third-party agreements reflect data regulatory requirements?
  • Defined procurement processes such that privacy is integrated into all products and services the organization buys, including regarding data minimization, the visibility of onward data flows, and data ownership?