Seventhman Blog

  1. Do You Manage or Lead Innovation?

    "innovation creativity"Sometimes, doing nothing is the right thing when it comes to giving your team the independence they need.  Managing an invisible workforce made it harder for businesses to trust their virtual teams to become more innovative.  The physical distance has become a great challenge where leadership and management is concerned.  The issue always come in how you can motivate your team to achieve their fullest potential.  How do you know that they’re working and committed to your business goals?

    Manage Without Managing

    I can’t deny that this is the age of creatives and geeks – of individuals who will push the limits of your imagination so you can come up with a cutting edge solution.  But with talent comes difficulty, especially on how to manage effectively.  You see, your talented crew may also be the most difficult to work with as they want autonomy far from the structured work environment that we see in the turn of the industrial age.  But, this doesn’t mean you can’t lead them.  You have to walk on a tight rope here and keep your balance, to make them feel that they’re part of a group while giving them the freedom to explore. It’s not easy.  Achievable? Definitely.

    When Conflict Meets the Creative Process

    You may disagree with me, but when teams are forced to face a conflict, they are more likely to come up with better solutions.  The key here is moderation.  If you’re open to the idea, instead of trying to control the leash on your people – let it loosen a bit and encourage civil disagreements on certain tasks.  Their independence will translate to inter-dependence as they try their innovative best to come up with the best fix.  Your team’s diversity may just be the missing link between failure and success.  Innovation becomes a fun, exciting quest for everyone then.

    Lessons I Have Learned in Working with Creatives

    To lead or to manage?  I’ve often asked myself this.  In my years of working with remote teams, I have learned that guiding them helps us all win.. than me having to actively manage people like puppets.  This doesn’t mean that there are no rules.  Instead, I focused on the bigger picture.  Boundaries are simply guides so everyone’s effort can complement each other’s.  Think of your team as a pack and you’re the pack leader.  It’s not about deadlines, but more on timelines.  Think about that the next time someone missed a milestone so you can address the issue, and not the person.

    If there’s one hard pill to swallow – it’s learning that there are better, inspiring ideas than yours.  It’s up to you now to listen, collaborate and open up avenues for creative conversation with your entire team.  You have the power to encourage everyone to think big and when they do, your appreciation will mean more than anything else in the world.

    Are you ready to give your team the freedom to fail.. so they can succeed faster?

  2. Top 3 Qualities of a Great Customer Service Team Revealed

    "winning customer service team"Trust is the keystone where everything else comes into place when it comes to business.  You hired your team because you trust them to do their job.  But with trust, comes expectations that need to be met and most often, risks were overlooked.  The truth is that trust alone can’t guarantee your safety from cyber liability – from social media blunders, password mismanagement and data loss on unsecured mobile networks.  But the greatest burden of them all is how you can trust your employees to solve your customers’ problems.  Do you even measure what really matters most to your customers?

    Balancing Quality and Quantity

    In my participation on this #custserv weekly chat, most often, the brand name Zappos is mentioned, all in the name of customer service.  My curiosity got the best of me so I took on my sleuthing hat to examine further.  I have discovered that unlike your regular contact centers, Zappos don’t focus much on cost, but the opportunity to market.  This is why they don’t follow the usual call metrics where time per call is measured.  Instead of getting customers off the phone quickly, they take the customer experience to the next level by creating that ‘intimate’ level in building a relationship that speaks loyalty.  Isn’t that how business should be done?  Now, I understand why folks hoist their glasses in salutation.

    What Should You Expect from Your Customer Service Department?

    Whether you have an in-house team or an outsourced contact center handling customer service queries, you have to make sure that:

    1. They Have Total Commitment to Quality

    Because no two customers are alike, your customer service team should be able to assist in the best way they can and exceed customers’ needs, even after sales.  This can be achieved through proactive listening and taking responsibility in assuring the customers of finding a solution to their problems.

    2.  They are NOT afraid to talk to Unhappy Customers

    It’s every contact center representative’s nightmare to attend to an irate caller.  Take note that your most important source of improvement comes from those who are not satisfied with your product or service – their feedback can be an invaluable tool for business growth.  Your team shouldn’t just listen, but seek for a permanent fix.  It doesn’t have to mean giving away freebies all the time just to appease frustrated customers.

    3.  They are Passionate in Bringing Customers In

    It’s tough to get a hundred or thousands to be motivated about what they do.  Great customer service goes beyond training and call scripts.  While having a standard response may save on time, it does hurt employee morale in the long term.  Trust your agents to come up with small ways of bringing that ‘wow’ factor that goes a long way.  And when they do bring in more sales and retain subscribers from closing their accounts, it’s high time that you reward your people for these wow moments.

    Sometimes, it doesn’t hurt to step in your customers’ shoes to get a clear picture of the service they’re getting.  The next time you plan a revamp of how your customer service team works, just stick to one goal in mind:  Solve problems, for real.

    It doesn’t have to be complicated…

  3. Business Lessons: The Art of Doing Nothing

    "doing nothing style"Someone told me that if you want to succeed, you must learn how to do nothing.  I bet you’ll raise your eyebrows too and argue otherwise.  But if you take time to do nothing and ponder on the wisdom of these words, you’ll realize that to become a great leader, you have to stop over-managing and step away from the comforts of your status quo.  It can’t be any simpler than that.  It will all boil down to trust – you don’t have to be involved all the time in what your team does.  You can just observe from a distance.

    Cultivating Innovation in the Workplace

    If you’re open to change, it is easier for you to allow change to happen at work.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a small startup, a big business, or working with virtual teams across the globe.  Are you running an office without walls?  I’m not talking of physical barriers here.  Just take a dive at how Google works and what makes it an innovative place is its company culture.  But this doesn’t only limit you to working within the office.  You can also outsource innovation and create empowered teams regardless of culture, language and region.  Collaboration may be the key to creating and sustaining innovation at its prime.

    Do-Nothing Leadership Style Scrutinized

    So far, you must have thought that doing nothing is all about playing golf all day and placing your business in auto-pilot.  Wishful thinking, I’d say.  What I meant here is spending more time thinking of awesome strategies in the hope of helping your team implement these.  It’s about introspection, of taking the time to check every detail of your business road map and see to it that everyone is on the right path – making key decisions that will help everyone do their jobs better.  The next time you’re looking for the next big idea, why don’t you take a leisurely walk in the office and talk to your employees?  Your openness is the final test to breaking the barriers of conversation within your team.  You may just unlock the door to real innovation.

    Breaking the Do-Nothing Rule

    The biggest mistake any start-up founder can do is to be out in the open, doing everything.  There’s nothing wrong with that, you may think.  After all, the whole business is your idea and you want to get involved in every process.  You may feel vulnerable if you will take a step back and watch the process unfold.  Don’t be afraid.  Let things unravel as you take time to allow room for creativity, freedom and flexibility to work its magic.  The only time that you have to stop doing nothing is when you’re the only person who can do the task immediately or when no one feels like doing the dirty work.  That’s the time you take responsibility and spring from inaction.. into action.

    At the end of the day, doing nothing is doing the right thing.  Would you agree?

  4. Emotional Engagement: The Biggest Social ROI Driver

    "social media engagement"We’ve heard lots of social media gurus talk about the topic of engagement and yet, this concept is veiled in the clouds of vagueness.  People share and discover content online.  Why do they take that action?  This is still a mystery yet to be solved.  Maybe, it’s all about perceptions that make something viral on the Social Web.. but then again, maybe the answer lies closely to the heart.  Someone told me that no amount of marketing can help if your message doesn’t pack a punch.  If your brand message is the virus, you need to create a strong emotional connection to make your audience spread the word.

    The Business of Getting Social Debunked

    It isn’t really a surprise to me hearing that Romney has lost the presidential raceWhy?  I’ve watched him spar with wits and words against President re-elect BarrackObama and Romney’s awkward social skills have been his very downfall.  Even this post will agree with me that the masses saw his agenda a bit.. questionable.  While many social media marketers will tell you to hang out where everyone is, I’d say you’re just wasting time if you aren’t being social.  See the difference?  By socializing, I meant participating and adding value to online conversations that resonate with how your target audience feels.  If you don’t share something that they care about, they will most unlikely care for your brand.

    Customer Experience is the New Marketing

    Our digital lives are twisted into one giant map of interconnected railways, subways.. in the hope of building better relationships that will help drive people to our business sales funnel.  How can you shift that focus to your advantage?  How can you create content that will gain attention, engage emotions and get stuck in their memory?  By allowing people to interact with your brand in a much personalized way is the first step you can take.  The more people feel you have something relevant to share, the more likely they will remember your site.  It’s not news when studies show that emotional impact drives the greatest ROI.

    Because We are Humans..

    With this statement in mind, the next time you think of a viral campaign or a content strategy for your brand – think of creative concepts that are unique and memorable.  I’m not a social media marketing expert, but my experience helps me come up to a conclusion, that to stand out from the crowd, you simply need to be a brand.. with a heart.  Should you experiment then?  By all means, yes.  Test what resonates with your audience and what doesn’t.  Learn from your mistakes, listen to your crowd and allow them to participate in the process.  What will make them tick?  Identify what will interest them the most so you can create content that will push the envelope and deliver a message worth sharing.

    It doesn’t have to be more complicated than that.

    ** Need More? You might want to check out my previous post, What Social Media Marketers Won’t Tell You ( But You Need to Know )

  5. Thanks to You…

    Gratitude… is the best attitude.  In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’d like to take a pause from the usual business blogs and dive into something close to my heart.  Writing this post brings smile to my face as I think of the many people, things and events to be grateful for.  Perhaps, this is the easiest way for me to get in touch with my inner Buddha without having to open another self-help book. This time of the year is the perfect opportunity to thank the Divine for the innumerable blessings that we enjoy.. as a loved one, a friend, a colleague and a citizen of this free land we thrive in.

    It All Starts With… Thank You

    Today, as an entrepreneur, I wish to express my appreciation to everyone who helped shape this economy, no matter how frail it may seem.  Thanks to the Founding Fathers and the pilgrims who risked sweat and blood to build America as we see it today.  And in my small way, I would love to say:

    Thanks to My Team

    For without them, my vision wouldn’t have come to reality.  Their hard work, in good times and bad, coupled with their faith in me as their leader has helped open bigger opportunities I never knew existed.  I am grateful for the wisdom in helping me choose the right team.. for people are the greatest investment your business can ever have.

    Thanks to My Mentors and Partners

    Your light has guided me across the dark tunnel of challenges and trials that come with running a business – from financial, legal, technical, intellectual and spiritual advice.  Your passion and knowledge have inspired me to continue my quest for more than a decade now and as I go on exploring unchartered terrains, I am truly blessed with the guidance I get each day.

    Thanks to Great Men and Women

    I can never imagine having traveled the path of an entrepreneur if not for these great thought leaders who never cease to amaze me with their persistence and vision.  I look up to them for motivation and personal growth, especially when I am in the crossroads of indecision.  Their selfless act of sharing information online is simply priceless.

    Thanks to My Clients

    Customers, you are the very reason businesses around you exist.  For this, I am truly grateful for your confidence and trust in my abilities to deliver the solutions you need.  You have taught me the hidden powers of listening and responsibility.  You have helped me how to think creatively.

    Thanks to the Business Community

    For sharing your ideas in a world full of clutter, I can never be more thankful.  You have inspired me to go on a quest for the holy grail of learning and improvement, to commit myself in making a difference in this world – no matter how big or small.  Knowing that support can be had from a group of like minds is a gem.

    Thanks to Family and Friends

    Being an entrepreneur isn’t that easy and there were countless times when I’m not the best of company. For your support and love, I can never ask for more.

    And thanks to you for reading this post and hope that you spread this act of gratitude like some viral hit you’d see on YouTube.. without asking for anything in return.  For some reason, you have clicked on this blog and so I’d squeeze in one more thank you note for the countless folks who are working 24/7 to get us connected in cyberspace.

    Be grateful. Be happy.  Not just today, but all year round.  I wish everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving!  -Shaleen

  6. How to Find Top Talents for Your Business

    "top talents"If finding loyal talents in the virtual world isn’t enough pain that makes every HR manager cringe, searching for top performers is.  Whether you’re looking for a superstar technical crew or a creative maverick to join your team, the challenge often lies when you’re just starting up… because most likely, these top guns aren’t actively seeking for a job. In this age of BYOD workers, hiring the right people for your team can take months of frustrating trial and error – without positive results.  There’s just trouble attracting quality candidates that costs you time, money and lost productivity.  Is there a permanent fix to this dilemma?

    How to Recruit Top Talents Fast, Easy and Painless

    I’m not saying that there’s a quick way to remedy this hit-or-miss scenario in the hiring world.  Most often, odds are stacked against you because you’re the very cause of the problem.  If you want to have a stellar team to help move your business forward, you have to stop the shopper’s mentality hoping for a better worker to come along.. and start:

    Revamping Your Corporate Culture

    This may be a hard pill to swallow, but it all ends up with trust and respect.  The greatest investment is your people.  How you value them makes a huge impact, regardless of how big or small your business is.

    Getting Involved

    There’s always the excuse that you’re too busy to handle the hiring process, so you leave the decision to someone who’s not equipped to make the right choice.  Try as much as you can to be engaged in the process because you might not know what you’ll pick up, something that’s not within the applicant’s resume.  You have to know if that person fits your company, skill-wise and personality-wise.

    Being Quick, Short and To the Point

    The best talents may not have all the time in the world to read through your job description and they may skip on to the next post.  You have to eliminate any unnecessary steps, stop overthinking the interview process, and give a short feedback on time.

    Thinking of Benefits

    Just because you think your business is ‘cool’ doesn’t mean that you can attract the right people to work for you.  If you feel like you can tempt these quality experts with money alone, don’t count on it!  Everyone else is offering them the same thing ( or better ).  Instead, try to think of interesting benefits that will make them bite the bait.

    Leading by Example

    They say that you’ll only know a great leader when you’re working for one.  But, there are telltale signs too.  Great leaders are not only people with a real sense of character; they are great listeners too.  They are agile to change and communicate without delay.  Great leaders don’t only say, ‘We want to hire you now!’ – they act now and hire without delay.

    The second time you feel like taking your game to the next level, think quality over quantity.

    **and if you’re having tough time making informed choices, please feel free to contact me for help.  Thanks!

  7. Building Loyalty in the Age of Virtual Teams

    "building loyalty"Creating loyal workers in the outsourcing world may seem like some fairy tale in the digital world.  But, is it really possible to create an atmosphere of trust, respect and honesty in a niche where attrition rate is on a record high? Last time, I have shared my five tips on how you can successfully manage your virtual team and this time, I’ll give you an insider’s approach on how your business can grow one seed at a time – through harnessing the power of dedicated and motivated teams, wherever they are located in the world.

    Flexibility at work

    Outsourcing, telecommuting, freelancing, remote work, virtual assistance and and so on.. What do they have in common?  Value – that they bring to your business.  Just take a look at this infographic and you’ll see how working from home is fast becoming the norm, embraced even by a few Fortune 500 companies.  The temporary is now the new ordinary in an age where independent contractors and on-call workers are competing with sourcing vendors and agencies.  More brick and mortar businesses are seeing amazing results from those who work remotely than those in the office.  Does it mean that virtual teams are better than your traditional team?

    The Invisible Tie that Binds

    For many years, I have managed people in various locations that making them all work together for a common goal seemed like a climb to Mt. Everest.  I’ve worked with managers and teams in the same office and I come to realize that when people work closer, they often take things for granted.  Soon, your office becomes a breeding ground for complacency.  There were instances when team leaders would go through all the trouble of sending unnecessary emails when their teams are just a few feet away.  It could have been faster if they cross that physical distance and announce the news themselves.  It’s just that with virtual teams, people are making the extra effort to make collaboration work – helping them maximize the best tools around.  It is the absence of face time that helped, I’d say.

    Building Engagement in Dynamic Teams

    Those who offer remote work as an option has already taken one step forward in motivating a person to be at his/her best.  It’s a win-win for both.  Now, the question is: Can you build the same loyalty in the world of outsourcing?  Whether you source locally or offshore, it is 100% possible if you put in mind that it’s not technology that makes your business – it’s your people.  Trust is the very foundation of it all.  You will always reap what you sow, so start to genuinely care and give your team the chance to shine.  Be fair.  Treat everyone with due respect.  Encourage them to ask questions and be open to dialogue. You may never know that the next big idea is just waiting to unfold.