Be a Great Communicator in Business: 5 New Year’s Resolutions

How likeable are you? In business, where high stakes hinge on teamwork, amiability is everything. Namely, how you make your teammates feel validated irrespective of the quality of their ideas. “We become what we repeatedly do,” wrote Sean Covey in “7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens.” Learn the five simple workplace habits, brought to you by, to up your leadership potential.

1. Tell people what they want to hear.
People understand you best when you communicate with them in a way that resonates with their own thinking. In “Mastering Communication at Work,” Ethan F. Becker and Jon Wortmann posit that people’s thinking patterns can be categorized in two ways: inductive and deductive.

Inductive thinkers need to hear the how and why first before they can process the main point.
Example: “Stockpiling was high in the last quarter because of the recession, so now we have to find ways to cut production costs.”

Deductive thinkers need the point front-loaded or they will grow impatient, but they are no less interested in the details.

Example: “We have to find ways to cut production costs. Stockpiling was high in the last quarter because of the recession.”

Have you ever dealt with the stalling rambler who “never gets to the point” or the overly brisk delegator whose subordinates fumble to interpret his orders? He may simply have been communicating in a way that made sense to him but which blew your mind.

New Year’s Resolution: Connect with colleagues the way they think by listening for clues: do they state the point first, or build up to it? Follow suit. These simple reversals can vastly improve the sticking power of your ideas.
2. Iterate and reiterate.

A new year is a natural time to ponder the future. Why not turn those daydreams into productive forward-thinking that gets people excited about the coming year?

Especially when on-boarding new recruits, a good idea is to ask the team to prepare their own strategy report for fulfilling their job responsibilities.

An ideal template would be:
Primary project tasks/job responsibilities 3-4 primary on-the-job goals (departmental or individual) Personal career goals (How does this job align with your career aspirations?) Desired skills, professional development or T D; opportunities Mutual code of ethics (A set of behaviours the team agrees to adhere to)
The strategy report should be the employee’s own blueprint for achieving goals and a management feedback mechanism of employee satisfaction. Clarifying goals and responsibilities gives the employee a sense of the “bigger picture” as to how his contributions fit within the business’ operations, thereby validating his role.

You need to make sure you have the right people working with you who want to be there and know why they’re there.

New Year’s Resolution: Give people autonomy in defining their roles within the organization, the more they will take control of and have pride in their work.
3. Less automation, more human.

My high school math teacher coaxed the timid members of the class to volunteer answers to questions by saying “The worst thing that can happen is you get it wrong.” Are you fostering a similar sense of security in your team for creative thinking? Manager or not, if you scorn a substandard idea you could dim a teammate’s creative spark.

Give people room to be wrong and suddenly they’re brimming with ideas — good and not-so-good. Similar to filmmaking, creative thinking requires a lot of retakes.

Let’s say you’re announcing a proposal for online marketing strategy by emailing each team member a PDF file of test marketing ideas. How likely are you to encourage brainstorming and constructive criticism?
Even if you append it with “Let me know your thoughts!” sending the document electronically rather than going through it as a group implies the project has been set in stone. People are more reluctant to be upfront via email, lest their intent be misinterpreted in the absence of emotional cues in real-time discussion.

Reap maximum creative thinking power from meetings by beginning with a group brainstorm before unloading your ideas. Some of your brightest thinkers might not be comfortable countering the boss once he’s aired his views.

New Year’s Resolution: If, as a manager, you say “My door is always open,” yet email is your go-to communication channel, you are not fostering employee engagement. Establishing your presence as a leader is precedent to nurturing a top-notch team.
4. What do you expect from your career this year?

What do you like and dislike about your job? To get the most out of anything, you must ask yourself “What’s in it for me?” A short bulleted list will do, but recording in ink is important.

Now look at the “likes.” These are areas you can leverage for career development. Do you love the team you work with? Do you have ideas for improving team performance?

A leader is not necessarily a manager, but someone with an idea and the initiative to execute it. There’s no reason you can’t be team leader this year if you put a great idea on the table. The list shouldn’t be static. Update and refer to your “likes” as new opportunities arise to stoke your motivation year-round.

Now scan the “dislikes.” Are your gripes a matter of perception (your boss has mood swings, the workday starts too early) or are they tangible impediments (excessive overtime, stifling corporate culture)? Cross out as many “dislikes” as you can afford to and review the remaining ones. Note at least three possible solutions to each one and act on one of them.

New Year’s Resolution: Record and reflect. Forget grammatical structure, the idea is to purge, take stock and acquire the habit of generating your own solutions to problems.
5. Read more self-help books

Will Smith described his success this way: “I just kept my head down and ran hard.” Relentlessness will take you a long way, but it needs to be balanced with reflection and evaluation. Are you where you want to be in life? Would you want to work with you?

Self-help books awaken us to our potential to switch from auto-pilot to deliberate thoughts and actions that are aligned with success.

Breakdown Cover and Common-Sense Preparedness

Mechanical breakdown happens. That is why breakdown cover is a sound investment, even if your vehicle is new. In fact, when your vehicle is new is the perfect time to take out breakdown cover because later on, you might not be able to get the same level of coverage as you can obtain when you have a newer car or truck.

Before the Warranty Runs Out

Most vehicles have a warranty that will extend into their second year of life or a certain number of miles. For best coverage, you will want to purchase breakdown cover before the end of that second year. Why? Because your vehicle should still be in good condition. Insurance companies are fond of betting on a sure thing. They bet that you will pay in lots of premiums before you need to make use of their protection plans. A new vehicle is less likely to break down than an older one.

The First Seven (or so) Years

While your car or truck is less than seven years old and has less than 15,000 miles on it, it is a shoo-in for an extended warranty or the kind of breakdown cover that will help with major repairs at your repair facility. If you get your extended warranty at your dealership, there is a good chance that you can get your regular maintenance covered or at least discounted. Your car dealer knows that your satisfaction is his or her best word of mouth advertising. They are hoping that you and all your friends will buy your next cars with them.

Older Cars

Once your vehicle has passed that magic age limit, you aren’t likely to be able to get the same kinds of deals on maintenance and repair. That doesn’t mean that you can’t get roadside assistance or even at-home cover for those little things that just will go wrong. Even if you must pay for parts and perhaps even labour, that van with your breakdown company’s logo on it can be a truly welcome sight. That is even truer when the weather is dark and blustery or overly warm and sultry.

Breakdown Cover Not Substitute for Maintenance

It is just commonsense to remember that breakdown cover is for emergencies. It doesn’t take the place of preparedness or regular maintenance. Keeping up with oil changes, getting the brakes checked and many other simple vehicular tasks can help prevent the need to call your breakdown agent. That helps keep your premiums low so that you have that emergency backup when you need it.

Be Prepared

Ask your breakdown agent about emergency supplies that are good to keep in your vehicle. Some possible examples are an electric torch, triangular emergency signs, drinking water, and either rain ponchos or space blankets. Even if you are only a few miles or minutes from help, if you are stuck by the side of the highway with children, some comfort supplies can make waiting less difficult.

You and Your Breakdown Cover

You and your breakdown cover company are partners in keeping you and yours safe in the event of a mechanical failure. Thinking ahead, planning and generally keeping up with maintenance on your vehicle is your part of the bargain, right along with keeping up on your premiums. Sending out that van full of spare parts, driven by a qualified mechanic, is the end that your breakdown cover agency is supposed to hold up. Together, you can help keep you, your vehicle and any passengers cared for and on to the next place in your planned journey.

The Different Sources of Loans

Credit unions

Credit unions are not-for-profit “members-only” financial cooperatives with members sharing a common affiliation, such as working for the same company, belonging to the same union, or being members of a specific branch of the armed forces. Credit unions accept deposits and provide a variety of financial services, including savings and checking accounts, credit cards, and more. “Profits” from operations are returned to credit union members in the form of dividends on savings, lower loan rates than commercial banks offer, and lower service fees.

According to the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), there are currently more than 10,000 credit unions in the United States controlling more than $470 billion in assets. Some of the largest credit unions include Pentagon Federal Credit Union, Boeing Employees’ Credit Union, Orange County Teachers Federal Credit Union, American Airlines Federal Credit Union, and GTE Federal Credit Union. You may want to consider your own affiliations and join a credit union if you’re eligible.

Credit unions are personal finance oriented but may handle very small business needs or equipment loans.

Finance companies

A finance company is a business that specializes in making loans to individuals and businesses. While some finance companies do not limit the use of funds received under their loans, other finance companies ‘” particularly captive finance companies (finance companies that finance only products manufactured by their parent companies) of manufacturers that loan money to help customers buy the company’s products [for example, GE Capital and General Motors Acceptance Corporation (GMAC)] ‘” do limit how loan proceeds are used.

In general, finance companies charge higher interest rates than banks, savings institutions, and credit unions, because they are willing to make loans to higher-risk borrowers. Captive finance companies often offer special rates on the products their parent companies produce, and they’re definitely worth a look when you have specific equipment needs.

Familiar finance companies include Advanta,, Household International, NOVUS Financial, and AmeriCredit Corporation.

Finance companies are a good source for term loans and poor credit risks. Beware of them, however, and be sure to check them out with some of their borrowers because they can have tough terms.

Small Business Administration

Although the Small Business Administration (SBA) doesn’t do much direct lending itself, it guarantees millions of dollars in business loans to small businesses every year. These loans, processed through commercial banks and other approved private-sector lenders, are available in amounts from a couple of thousand dollars up to $2 million.

SBA loans are good when you are looking for long-term debt money, but you can expect to tie up all of your assets as security for it. Then, if you need more credit (for example, when your receivables grow faster than you expect) in a couple of years, you will have no place to go for it except to do an entirely new deal with your SBA lender, or somehow pay off your loan and start from scratch.