Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 19th 2015 Contents BG12 COMMENTARY
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt NOVEMBER 19 • 2015
Learn how to say no
to new assignments
Most of us say yes to requests and
assignments without filtering them by
what s urgent, let alone what s possible.
We like saying yes to our superiors, but
agreeing to do too many things leaves
us overstressed and overworked. A bet-
ter approach is to remember that saying
no is critical to your, and the company s,
success. Being effective requires making
So remember that it s OK to raise
questions and push back on assign-
ments, even if it s scary to do. You can
ask senior leaders whether a new
assignment takes precedence over your
other projects, or how a new task fits
with the company s priorities.
Voicing your concerns ensures that
senior leaders have fully thought
through what they re asking you to do.
And it gives you a constructive way to
say no to assignments that you just
don t have the bandwidth to take on.
(Adapted from "Stop Trying to Please
Everyone," by Ron Ashkenas and
When giving a presentation, struc-
turing your talk around "the great
unveil"---ie, saving key findings for the
end---is tempting. But the last-minute
nature of the unveil means your audi-
ence doesn t have time to fully under-
stand the information, so they won t
be prepared to discuss it.
An unveil can also create problems
if you re surprising people with a new
idea especially if it s controversial.
Instead, structure your presentation to
invite discussion and participation. Draft
your talk in partnership with important
members of the audience.
Getting people involved early helps
identify problems that need solving
and solutions that have been tried. Send
out pre-reading materials so people
aren t absorbing your findings as you
And appoint facilitators to draw out
questions and comments from the
group after you ve finished presenting.
(Adapted from "Create a Conversa-
tion, Not a Presentation," by John Cole-
The most effective
notes are ones
taken by hand
Few people bring a pen and notebook
to meetings anymore. Instead of taking
notes by hand, more and more of us
take them on a laptop or tablet.
This change makes sense: digital
devices just seem more convenient,
plus they let you multitask during the
meeting. But research has found that
there are real benefits to taking notes
Studies have shown that typing
encourages mindless, verbatim tran-
scription of what you re hearing, but
writing by hand helps us take both
fewer and better notes.
Longhand s slower pace forces us to
record ideas more succinctly and in our
own words, which boosts our ability
to recall those ideas later. After all, notes
should help us quickly remember the
most important points, not the entire
meeting. So try bringing a pen and
notebook to your next meeting, your
memory will thank you.
(Adapted from "What You Miss When
You Take Notes on Your Laptop," by
can take as little as 10
There s growing evidence that con-
ventional performance reviews are not
working. One major issue is the time
commitment they require: When many
employees already get feedback regu-
larly, formal reviews just take too long.
A faster, but still effective, method is
the 10-minute "Tough Love Review":
• Create a spreadsheet with two
columns: "Tough," a few phrases about
where the employee is falling short,
and "Love," a few phrases about what
she s doing well.
• During the review, explain that
your goal is to identify both positive
traits and areas for improvement. Tailor
your message to show that the review
is about helping the employee. Then
ask the employee how he prefers feed-
back: Kind and nurturing? Pointed and
direct? Use his answer to decide
whether to start with "Tough" or
• After talking through the points
on your spreadsheet, use the last few
minutes to let the employee respond
to what you ve said.
(Adapted from "Tough Love Perform-
ance Reviews, in 10 Minutes," by Mona
Get the full benefits
of walking meetings
Walking meetings are a growing
trend, replacing a traditional sitting
meeting in a coffee shop or boardroom
with a little exercise. The benefits are
plentiful: Research has found that walk-
ing leads to increases in creative think-
ing, and anecdotal evidence suggests
that walking meetings spur more pro-
ductive, honest conversations. Here are
some tips to help your next walking
meeting go well:
• Include an "extracurricular"
destination. Passing a point of
interest provides more rationale
and incentive for the walk.
• Don t add unneeded calories.
A meeting that ends with a 400-
calorie beverage undermines its
• Stick to small groups. Walking
meetings work best with two or
• Don t surprise colleagues or
clients with walking meetings.
Notify people in advance so they
can dress appropriately.
• Have fun. Enjoy the fresh air
--- research has also found that
people who use walking meetings
report being more satisfied at work.
(Adapted from "How to Do
Walking Meetings Right," by Russell
Clayton et al.)
The sales skills
Eight per cent of job profiles:
About 30 per cent of job profiles
for sales positions included "devel-
ops sales leads" as a top compe-
tency before the year 2000. Fast-
forward a dozen or so years later
and only eight per cent of profiles
state the same. On the flip side,
today s sales jobs increasingly
require that candidates prioritise
tasks through thoughtful analysis,
embrace strategic vision and learn
Importantly, it s not that today s
salespeople aren t expected to
develop leads or deal with multiple
tasks. Rather, as Frank V Cespedes
and Daniel Weinfurter explain on
HBR.org, "yesterday s sales
strengths have become today s
minimum skill requirements." For
hiring managers, this means con-
stantly reviewing changes to the
market in order to advertise for
positions and hire competitively.
TIPS & TALKING POINTS
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