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By Sandeep Sehgal

Teamwork plays an integral part in today’s society regardless of your field of work or study. The saying “two heads are better than one” is certainly true, but is it always true?

Over the past year, I have been part of many teams of different sizes and for different purposes. We have tried different strategies to manage teams and let’s just say it wasn’t always productive. The two key highlights of a successful team is respecting others and effective communication.

People have different personalities and while some people ‘click’, others won’t. The important thing to remember is to be respectful of other people and their ideas. Although it is fine to disagree or voice your opinion, it must be done respectfully. That may seem obvious but it is much harder to do.

I have seen adults relate an idea to a person, which may discourage the person from contributing ideas in the future. For example, “You’re wrong” is less effective than saying the idea is wrong and why you believe this.

However, the biggest challenge I have experienced in teams is when team members miss deadlines or submit low quality work. In a sense, this is disrespectful to the team because everyone else will then have to pick up the slack.

Making clear expectations of each team member requires effective communication. I recently worked in a 12-person group and effective communication was the hardest part. As groups get larger, keeping everyone on the same page gets harder. This is where the beauty of technology comes in. After each meeting, a summary of the meeting was emailed to everyone. This was beneficial in cases when members missed a key point or weren’t able to attend because they remained informed about the progress of the team and upcoming deadlines.

Effective communication also includes feedback. This was especially helpful when presenting a topic as an ‘expert’ for school projects. We would break up into pairs and practice a part of the presentation on a colleague. We would then discuss the strengths, weaknesses and offer suggestions for improvement.

At times it may be difficult to work in teams but this is a skill that everyone must develop. I hope that my experiences will help in making your next group project more pleasant and productive! Please share your team stories about what worked and what didn’t.

Links

Strategies for Developing an Effective Team

The Five C’s of Team Building

Sandeep Sehgal is completing an Honours Bachelor of Science degree at University of Toronto Mississauga. She is currently utilizing her skills and knowledge of biotechnology issues as a bio-business intern at the RIC Centre. Upon graduation, she hopes to seek opportunities in R&D for a pharmaceutical company.

The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers pro vide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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One of the first questions I ask my clients before assessing their overall company and organizational background –what is the purpose behind your website?

Surprisingly, most people today still do not see their website as a third-party source of revenue. It is merely a means of matching their competitor’s online presence and keeping up-to-date.

Depending on your specified business practices, a website can:

  • Raise awareness for your organization and services
  • Help you connect to new and emerging clients and users
  • Find a new venue of profit in your organization’s culture
  • Establish a vehicle that enables your users to administer and utilize your specified tools

However, the potential benefits of a web page can only be realized if done correctly. A website can drive or deter your organization depending on its look and feel and, more importantly, depending on the user’s experience.  Here are four key points to keep in mind when developing/updating your website.

Reaching a broader audience

A website enables organizations to promote themselves to a wider demographic of online users across geographic boundaries. This network has the capability to build your overall brand and increase awareness of your products/services. Ultimately, the objective of the website is to support the mission/goals of your organization from building relationships to increasing awareness to retaining quality employees to increasing profit. When developing the content and language of your website, ensure that you are broadening your key messages to speak to a larger target audience. Keep your pitch simple and light and continue to re-iterate the main objective of the website; what you can offer clients, why this is important to them and what makes you different.

Faster Communication

Today’s audiences have become more abstract and demanding in the way they communicate with the outside world. With a new wave of technology-savvy users, e-mail and instant messaging have become the primary source of communication enabling the dissemination of information in real-time with the simple click of a button. With this, a company’s ability to effectively communicate with its clients is crucial to the overall building of strong consumer-merchant relationships. Whether you are selling through retail or through an e-Commerce database, it is vital to create a powerful sense of connection with your primary consumer, driven by clear, concise and timely communication.

Online transactions

It is simple; today’s websites are delegating more resources to convince clients to buy their good(s)/service(s) online. From banking to grocery shopping to movie tickets, even the most trivial of our daily life routines has transitioned online to enable customers to do their transactions from the comfort of their homes. E-Commerce placements offer companies a vehicle that is more affordable and can attract a new wave of online users to help drive profits and overall revenue for the company. In considering this form of purchasing, customer service plays a key role. It is important to help your customer relax when going through the overall payment process. You should offer information on how their personal data is being used, how safe their credit card/personal identities are, the overall shipping time, and a key contact that consumers can reach out to should they run into any problems.

Education

An effective website also looks to educate your user on who you are, what you offer and your overall business practices and foundation. It is crucial for a company to spend a good amount of time thinking about the different ways they can approach their website and communicate vital information. The number one mistake that I continue to see with websites today is the vast amount of information that is published on a given page. When laying out your pages, try to see it from the perspective of a new user:

  • Is it easy to understand where you are on the page and how to get to different page sections?
  • Is the text simple to read and easy to understand?
  • Is there a key contact visible on each page?

In the case of your website, the first impression is important. Ensure that you have an easy-to–use layout and do not overwhelm users with information and text.  Keep in  mind that today’s online users will only spend an average of 13 seconds skimming a page so it is important that your site is set up to entice users to spend more time reading a given page, accessing more pages and requesting information or a live meeting with you.

Radi Hindawi is a Digital Enterprise Specialist graduate from the University of Toronto’s Communications, Culture and Information Technology program. Radi has leveraged his academic background and professional experiences in web development, online communications and digital marketing to found a digital media company and manage a successfully growing blog. For more information, please visit www.radihindawi.com

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Reposted from The Marketing Pad

By Jeff  Bowman

The boom in social media has brought about some changes in the social growth and development of social skills in today’s youth.

Recently, I worked with several young entrepreneurs with both High School and some College or University education.

I was quite honestly astounded at the lack of social graces, ability to communicate openly and apparent inability to look directly at me when asking questions or listening. Some of the students were outstanding in these areas, however they were the exception.

The social graces that parents and grandparents instilled in me when I was young seem to be missing today. I recognize that times have changed, where telephone conversation has been replaced with texting, and after school or work activities replaced with gaming or Facebook. There may be more communication going on, but how deep and meaningful is that communication?

These future business people seemed to lack in the area that is most important in building a business – developing long-lasting mutually beneficial relationships.I have worked as a mentor for 9 years now, and the trend is definitely growing. The ability to write detailed business plans has improved, mostly because templates, sample plans and information are available on the Internet. But when it comes to communicating the ideas expressed in the plans and understanding the reasons for making certain decisions, there is a noticeable difference between the written and verbal communication.

The ability to communicate verbally is lost in today’s online world. Text messaging, Twitter, Facebook updates and even email do not contribute to well thought- out ideas and the ability to articulate them.

Disagreement with others online is as simple as typing a few derogatory words or removing them from your contact list.  Disagreements in the business world need to be dealt with using a variety of communication and social skills, such as discipline, self-control, honesty, consensus building and teamwork.

Another skill that is critical in the business world is listening.  Consultative sales techniques require honed listening skills in order to uncover customer needs, and offer solutions. I have found that these young business people listen intently, but either don’t hear what I am saying, or don’t comprehend the significance of it.

The written word does not always portray true feelings, and even less so in 140 characters.   Communication breaks down not because of the words used, but by how they were received and interpreted by the other party. Facebook, e-mail, messenger and others have caused me unnecessary trouble  when I have misunderstood what the other person was trying to say @##$&*^&!

I don’t know what the answer is – how we instill  social skills and graces – but I hate to imagine that this is the type of business environment that I will be working in over the next several years. It should start with common courtesy and manners, at home and in the school system.

Maybe we are headed to an electronic world where face to face communication will never exist in the business world and the human voice may never be heard again. It isn’t something that I look forward to.

What about you?

Jeff Bowman is a Sales and Marketing Specialist with The Marketing Pad Inc.. Follow Jeff’s blog at Blogpad or visit www.themarketingpad.com.

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By Stephen Rhodes

George Jonas wrote an article in the National Post recently that began with one of the most memorable lines in movie history – ‘W hat we’ve got here is failure to communicate,” spoken by veteran actor Strother Martin as the prison camp warden in the 1967 Paul Newman movie, Cool Hand Luke.

Jonas charts communication breakdown in the 1960s where it

“loomed large between the generations. It characterized the clean-cut and the hirsute; the love-makers and the war-makers. Suburbanites who cut their grass had little to say to inner city dwellers who smoked theirs. Citizens who were for banning the bomb had no language in common with those who wanted more bang for the buck.”

His column is a joy to read and I suggest you take a look.

It put me in mind of a recent blog by Amber Naslund, Director of Community for Radian6,  – The Secret Social Media Skillwhere she tells all. The secret?

“Just because Twitter is only 140 characters doesn’t mean that spelling, grammar, and clarity don’t matter. In fact, I’d argue they matter more because you’re communicating in such a compact package, and you’ve only a moment to make an impression (or break it). You can still make your Facebook updates coherent and well-composed. And by all means, if you’re blogging, you’d better be working on the fundamental skill that helps you articulate your thoughts.”

We use communication to build partnerships, intellectual resources, to promote an idea, a product, service, or an organization. A failure to communicate can have dramatic consequences in business for your employees, your clients and your community. Work on developing good communication skills and you will be successful in business.

What is your favourite method to communicate?

Stephen Rhodes is President of The Marketing PAD, a full-service strategic communications and marketing company. Read Blogpad or visit  The Marketing Pad online.

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