Relationship Marketing: Making It Personal

March 5th, 2019 by The Franchise Development Team

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In his latest contribution to Forbes, Paul Koulogeorge, VP of Marketing, Advertising and Public Relations at Goddard Systems, Inc., explores how marketing has become a more personal relationship with customers.

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Leaders, Here’s How To Find Out What People Really Think About You

February 21st, 2019 by The Franchise Development Team

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If we’re honest, most of us privately wonder if those we lead are being straight with us –especially when it comes to how they feel about our leadership.  (Yes, some leaders worry too little about this!). I recently observed a Town Hall meeting where a new leader had just been promoted to run his division.  In his introductory remarks, many – including me – were struck by his declaration, “One of the things you’ll find is that I’m very self-aware and open to feedback.”  At the back of the room where I stood, I could see the rolling eyes.

Over my 30 year career working with leaders, I’ve heard many declare such self-enlightenment. Borrowing Margaret Thatcher’s observation, if you have to declare you are self-aware, you’re not. It’s been nearly two decades since John Kotter’s landmark study revealing that effective managers know the impact of their decisions on others. But since then, subsequent research suggests that our level of self-awareness hasn’t improved all that much.

In the case of the speaker, I introduced myself after his remarks, and asked him, “So what have you done to become so self-aware and open to feedback?”  Proudly, he responded, “I make it a priority to get a 360 feedback review every year.”  I probed further, “And what kinds of things have you been able to improve in your leadership as a result of all that feedback?”   With remarkable sincerity, he said, “Well, for example, last year I received feedback that our staff meetings were too long so I shortened them by 30 minutes.”  I now fully appreciated all of those rolling eyes.

It turns out, you don’t need to collect formal 360 feedback to learn how others are experiencing you . I’ve observed leaders who genuinely care about how others experience them consistently do the following four things to stay sharply in tune with how their influence is landing on those around them.

Ask for pushback. The basic skill leaders need to keep intentions aligned with impact is the ability to credibly solicit dissent and feedback.  Whether in meetings, or one on one, insights about how others experience you are revealed in the degree to which they feel comfortable pushing back when what they experience doesn’t sit well. If you don’t have people routinely offering dissenting ideas, or raising concerns about actions you are contemplating or have taken, you should worry. No news is not necessarily good news.  After meetings where particularly difficult issues or decisions are discussed, one leader I work with asks a few members of her team, “How do you feel that went, and what could I have done differently?”  Her team has come to realize she genuinely wants pushback and accepts it graciously.  The ability to initiate such conversations is at the heart of receiving honest feedback. Too many 360 feedback processes have become replacements for great conversations instead of instigators of them, because they allow people to hide behind the anonymity of the tool.  But effective leaders simply ask for that feedback on a regular basis in more intimate settings where the conversation can enhance the relationship.  .

Read cues and faces.  The greatest “mirror” reflecting back how others experience you are the faces of those around you.  If you learn to read them, they can provide a steady stream of useful feedback about how your words and actions are being metabolized.  When people look down or avoid eye-contact with you, when otherwise engaging colleagues suddenly become quiet, or when normally even-keeled colleagues get defensive, pay attention.  While people may withhold verbal feedback, their faces and bodies will often tell a different story. Don’t ignore these critical cues. Offer your observation graciously. I observed one leader do this masterfully.  When moods or countenance took a sudden shift, he would simply ask things like, “Tell me how I should interpret your silence,” or “You suddenly seem to not want to look directly at me. I’m concerned something I’ve said isn’t sitting well. Can you help me understand if that’s true?”  These tactful observations invited others to share what was happening internally, and in turn, helped the leader adjust.  Allan and Barbara Pease, in their landmark book, The Definitive Book of Body Language, suggest that because more than 65% of interpersonal communication is non-verbal, spotting the contradictions between someone’s words and body language will dramatically increase your ability to accurately perceive. There’s a wealth of calibrating feedback all around you reflecting back how your words and actions are being received. If you harness it, you’ll not only sharpen the connection between your intent and impact, you’ll deepen the trust between you and others as they observe you changing behavior based on what you learn.

Monitor how you narrate the story.  Leaders are notoriously bad observers of their own reality.  Absent a way to calibrate, we are naturally inclined to interpret how things are going in overly positive ways. Pay attention to your inner narration of what’s happening around you.  If that voice is working to convince you things are fine, step back and re-assess.  Beware too many self-generated messages that sound like, “You know, I think that presentation went really well…so what if they didn’t have any questions,” or “Don’t worry, they understand that you get a little impatient sometimes, but they know it’s because you really care,” or “I can’t believe they think I’m indecisive! You can’t rush the creative process!”  When the voice in your head is working to self-justify or self-sooth, hear it as an alarm indicating you are likely working with incomplete data.  The alternative narrations can be equally destructive.  The harsh voice that criticizes, “You idiot – did you really just say that to your boss?” or “Nobody is going to take you seriously” can be equally faulty. If your narrator’s voice leans to heavily in one direction, force yourself to consider what interpretations you could be missing to develop a more balanced perspective.

Know and permit others to name triggers.  All leaders have buttons that get pushed, and when they do, trigger unproductive behavior.  Some leaders react defensively when confronted with mistakes.  Others become sarcastic or passive-aggressive when they don’t get their way.  And some become harshly impatient when things don’t move quickly enough.  Whatever they are, self-aware leaders know their triggers, and let others name them. One leader I worked with became painfully verbose when he was anxious.  During meetings where contentious issues were being discussed, he would launch into lengthy diatribes in an unconscious effort to calm his discomfort with conflict.  One of the ways he worked to improve was acknowledging that he was aware he did it (which his team greatly appreciated). He asked them to simply hold up their hands when they felt he’d gone on too long.  The first few times people raised their hands, he struggled to shut up. Someone on the team finally said, “If you want us to help you stop rambling, you have to agree to actually stop talking when we raise our hands.”  He did.  He eventually learned brevity, and to emotionally prepare before meetings by writing out concise statements he could employ as needed. Great leaders also apologize when triggered, cleaning up emotional messes.  So if you aren’t regularly apologizing for moments when your triggers get the best of you, chances are you aren’t aware of what they are, or don’t see the painful repercussions they leave behind.

Knowing how others experience you is fundamental to influencing effectively.  Assuming that you’d “just know” if others were bothered by something you were doing, or that because you’re a “good person,” others are giving you the benefit of the doubt, are dangerously presumptuous approaches.  You don’t need a formal 360 process to find out how others experience you. Rest assured, your people are talking about you. You should get in on the conversation. And, pay attention to, and act upon, all of the data you are already getting.

 

This article was written by Ron Carucci from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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Rain or snow will no longer stop children from running, jumping, playing and even climbing their energy away at The Goddard School located in West Windsor, NJ, now that there’s a spacious indoor play area attached to the school.

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New Goddard School in Carol Stream Now Open

February 1st, 2019 by The Franchise Development Team

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After teaching in private and public schools for more than 10 years, Martin and Majlinda Gjini, franchisees of The Goddard School of Carol Stream, decided to open a school of their own.

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What To Do With Negative Social Media Feedback

January 31st, 2019 by The Franchise Development Team

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Social media is a way for your clients and customers to communicate with you. But what happens when what they want to say is negative? Like, really negative?

The risk that comes with social media is that you can’t control what people say, and you can’t control who sees it. Maybe you delete or block negative users, but that can create a whole new type of blow back- why aren’t you facing the criticism? Blocking doesn’t equal solving the problem.

Instead of running from the problem, here’s hat to do with negative social media feedback.

Don’t Ignore Them

First things first; you can’t run from the negative feedback. You have to face the music. Try to understand what people are mad about; are they dissatisfied with your services? Do they feel like you mislead them about your experience? Are they mad at something you said in an interview?

Take the time to HEAR what they are saying, and see how you can address it. Maybe it’s something out of your hands, like USPS taking longer to deliver because of weather conditions. Or maybe it’s because of your attitude towards your customers. Feedback (even negative feedback) can be a great way to grow, but you first need to listen.

Take a Pause- But Don’t Wait Too Long

Small companies may have just one person who does all the work. Meaning you might be on deadline when you start getting a flood of negative comments for something else. You have to finish the work, but you can’t take too long to answer the comments, because things can get out of control easily.

However, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to respond when you feel heated yourself! No good comes from yelling back at someone yelling at you on the internet.

Read the comments, take some time to formulate your response, and then click ‘send’ when you’re calm and can stand behind what you’ve written. Saying something in the heat of the moment is bad business. Especially on the internet, where things never really die. Even if you delete your comment later, screenshots can easily be taken.

Be Ready to Admit Fault…Or to Stick To Your Guns

If you said or did something that was offensive, be ready to apologize. Step outside of your experience, understand that you hurt people, and apologize.

However, if the negative social media feedback is totally unwarranted, you can defend yourself! But remember that you don’t want to antogonize them further. Defend yourself by saying something like this: “I understand that you’re frustrated with delays, but once it’s mailed I no longer have direct control over it. I also can’t control the weather (I wish!) I’m happy to offer you free shipping off your next purchase!”

A response like this allows space for their frustrations, but also gently guides them away from blaming you. You also offer a perk to them, which is a good PR move. It says “I understand and I want to help you avoid feeling this again.”

Negative social media feedback is a part of our online world. But handling it gracefully is a way to keep your business running smoothly and your customers happy.

This article originally appeared in Due.

 

This article was written by Kara Perez from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

5 Ways to Make Your Employees Happier in 2019

January 24th, 2019 by The Franchise Development Team

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It’s no secret that a happy workforce is a loyal, motivated one. If you have reason to believe that your employees aren’t all that satisfied with their work experiences, it’s critical that you focus on addressing the issue immediately.

With the current strong job market, there’s a world of opportunity for your most valued players to take their talents elsewhere if they’re not content where they are. Here are a few things that you, as a business owner or manager, can do in the new year to raise your employees’ satisfaction quotient and entice them to stay on board.

1. Give them a voice

We all have opinions, ideas, and concerns — in life and at work. And it’s important to make your employees feel like the things they say are taken seriously, whether you’re talking about a senior manager or an entry-level administrative assistant. If you send the message that everyone is welcome to share thoughts freely, your workers will feel more valued and respected.

2. Be generous with time off

U.S. companies are notoriously stingy when it comes to paid time off — so much so that 73% of workers would welcome more time off over a holiday bonus, according to LinkedIn. By giving employees ample opportunity to recharge, pursue hobbies, and take care of life’s many obligations, you’ll make their jobs less stressful in the process.

3. Offer some scheduling leeway

An estimated 70% of U.S. employees are dissatisfied with their work-life balance, according to FlexJobs. If you want your workers’ outlooks to improve, think about the different ways you can offer them more flexibility on an ongoing basis.

This could involve letting them set their own working hours (within reason) or allowing those whose jobs can be done remotely to work from home. Extending that courtesy shows that you respect and acknowledge the fact that your employees have lives outside the office, and if you give them enough leeway, they’ll not only grow more content, but most likely return the favor by being flexible when you need it.

4. Be more available

If you own or manage a business, your days are probably jampacked with more tasks and meetings than you can count. And while you can’t necessarily take the time to sit down with each of your employees on a daily basis, you should make a point of being available when workers are struggling or encounter pressing issues that warrant your attention. To that end, encourage employees to reach out and ask for guidance, as needed, so they don’t feel like they have to handle their challenges alone.

5. Foster career development

Nobody wants to feel stuck in a dead-end job. If you want your employees to feel better about coming to work, give them something to look forward to. Allow lower-level employees to shadow higher-ups to learn the ropes and dabble in new things. When possible, give your workers time off for professional development, whether in the form of taking classes or attending industry conferences. If you show your workers that you’re looking to help them grow, they might get more excited about the potential your company has to offer.

Happy employees tend to be loyal employees. If you want to retain your staff in the coming year, focus on making their work experiences more satisfying. It’s certainly a worthwhile investment.

The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

 

This article was written by Maurie Backman from The Motley Fool and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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A new Goddard School will be opening in Kennesaw Farms, TN.

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5 Lessons In Creative Leadership To Take Into 2019

January 17th, 2019 by The Franchise Development Team

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To be a leader is to be a creator. Whether you’re a builder of timelines, a maker of company of culture or a designer of operations, leadership requires vision. You have to inspire others to do the work.

This year, I had the pleasure of interviewing so many incredible creative women from all over the globe, from actress and creative entrepreneur Karyn Parsons to music video director Hannah Lux Davis. And with every interview, I heard stories of resilience—lessons in brave creative leadership, resourceful decision-making and bold ambition.

So, as we head into 2019, I’d like to share the five key lessons I gleaned from the 51 pieces I wrote on creative entrepreneurship in 2018. I hope you learn just as much from these five entrepreneurs as I did.

1.) Show up and set the tone.

When you’re leading a team or self-employed, it’s on you to show up for your staff and for yourself. You have to push through moments of disappointment and doubt. You must show up and do the work. “On a daily basis, as an artist—or generally people who are creative-inclined—we’re just self-critical. There are times when everyday feels like a failure. There are times when I go to the studio and I am just sitting there and everything feels wrong. Or I feel like my career is falling apart and I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. At some level, there’s a part of you that has to treat it like a job. You have to go in and you have to sit there and you’re going to stare at your work even if you don’t make it. You have to work through it. You can’t stop. You can’t give up. My grand theory is that if you don’t give up, you can’t fail,” artist and painter Hiba Schahbaz said.

2.) Invest in your operations. Invest in your team.

In order to establish a solid company culture, you must understand your business’ values and you must have the capacity to articulate these values to others. So, don’t skimp on the foundation of your business. Take time on your mission, your goals and your team. “My personal leadership style is to invest in really great, well-matched team members, give them the tools to do their job and then the freedom to be creative with their own approach while offering support when needed,” Meg Erskine, CEO and co-founder of Open Arms Studio said.

3.) Stay focused and lean.

When you’re running your own business, it can be easy to compare your entrepreneurial journey to others. And when we compare, we oftentimes go after milestones or symbols that have nothing to do with our company’s actual success. So, stay focused. “Keep your overhead low and diversify your income streams. There may be pressures to live beyond your means–wait on all that. Until you are making passive income, have steady funds for three years or more, or you win the lottery, keep that overhead low. Any extra income should be saved or invested,” DJ and creative entrepreneur Jasmine Solano said.

4.) Create the business you’d like to see in the world.

When you feel like giving up, remember why you started. As an entrepreneur, you have the ability to create something new for yourself and your team everyday. Take advantage of that privilege. “Our gut feelings are actually a really big part of how we operate. We’re discerning in the kinds of projects we take on board and which collaborators we decide to work with, but we tend to know when a thing feels right and when it works for us and we try not to overthink it. We move forward and we take action. In terms of starting this company, as well, we all had a desire to rethink the corporate structure we operate within in the film industry. Sure, you can sit in an office from nine to five or nine to ten, but you can also work from home one day. There are many different ways to work, and for us it is really about that, the work. It’s about getting the job done, and making sure that everyone who works with us and everyone who works at the company is happy and has a healthy work-life balance,” film producer and co-founder of Nowhere Studio, Maria Kongsved, said.

5.) Remember—your future, or your company’s future, is not limited by the scope of others’ opinions.

You will face rejection. You may not get the client you want, you might fail at a big project, or you may realize you need to change course. That’s part of the process. “I’m a badass woman and I am a good artist. I’m not going to let someone who doesn’t make art define my art. What artists share with the public is a reflection of our true selves. And everybody doesn’t like everybody in real life, and it needs to be looked at that way. Just because you don’t get the gig you want, it just might mean that gig is not for you. And every time I forget that, the universe just hits me with someone better than the thing I wanted so badly,” singer-songwriter and lead singer of The Suffers said.

 

This article was written by Jane Claire Hervey from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Brothers Join Forces To Open Preschool In Avery Ranch

January 16th, 2019 by The Franchise Development Team

After spending 10 years as a member of the Round Rock community, educating young children, Ryan Rastelli, owner of The Goddard School in Round Rock, felt it was time to extend The Goddard School’s philosophy’s reach to Austin (Avery Ranch), TX.

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Exploring Your Franchise

January 16th, 2019 by The Franchise Development Team

Joe Schumacher, CEO of Goddard Systems, Inc., explains what entrepreneurs should look for when exploring franchise opportunities.

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