problem solving http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/10873/all en-US Become a Model Employee With This 10-Point Work Etiquette Checklist http://www.wisebread.com/become-a-model-employee-with-this-10-point-work-etiquette-checklist <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/become-a-model-employee-with-this-10-point-work-etiquette-checklist" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/two_creative_millenial_small_business_owners.jpg" alt="Two creative millennial small business owners" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Every job is different. But one commonality is that every company, large or small, requires a certain type of etiquette. The finer points may vary vastly from business to business, but if you make yourself aware of the broader strokes, you will quickly go from being a good employee to the staff member everyone looks up to. Here are the 10 checkpoints that will make you a model employee.</p> <h2>1. Read the handbook</h2> <p>Most businesses have some kind of employee handbook or manual. It is something given to new employees to communicate key aspects about the company. Most handbooks will include:</p> <ul> <li> <p>An introduction to the company.</p> </li> <li> <p>Company policies regarding dress code, benefits, expenses, education and training, confidentiality agreements, and outside employment.</p> </li> <li> <p>Employment classification, including full-time, part time, and contract.</p> </li> <li> <p>Attendance policies and holiday schedules.</p> </li> <li> <p>Performance expectations.</p> </li> <li> <p>Health and safety procedures.</p> </li> <li> <p>Termination policies.</p> </li> </ul> <p>So, why is it important to know this information in as much detail as possible? Well for a start, it will stop you from asking questions that are already answered fully in the handbook. It will also give you plenty of information on how to conduct yourself at work and what the company expects of you as an employee. Become knowledgeable of the handbook, and let your boss know it. He or she will appreciate the effort, especially if it means you become a go-to person for the rest of the staff.</p> <h2>2. Stay away from water cooler gossip</h2> <p>Who doesn't love a juicy bit of salacious information, especially when it's whispered between friends about people you don't like? Well, what you do after hours is up to you, but at work, you should steer clear of any and all types of gossip and rumors.</p> <p>Most of the time the information you're getting is not even close to being accurate. It's like a game of telephone, only this game can seriously hurt innocent people, and even lead to them being terminated for no good reason.</p> <p>An old proverb sums up perfectly why you should stay out of this kind of talk: &quot;What you don't see with your eyes, don't witness with your mouth.&quot; If you're thinking, &quot;Ah, but I saw this happen and know that it's true,&quot; then remember that by spreading it, the information will get distorted and harmful, and will lead straight back to you. Just stay out of it. And if anyone says, &quot;Hey, listen to what I just heard about the boss,&quot; politely decline and walk away.</p> <h2>3. Don't use the computer for online shopping and surfing</h2> <p>If a computer or digital device is part of your daily routine, don't make the mistake of using it for personal reasons for hours on end. Remember, from the minute you step through the door to the second you leave for the day, you're on company property. You're also on company time. You are being paid to do a job, and unless that specifically includes online shopping, web surfing, and chatting over instant messenger, you should avoid the temptation to indulge.</p> <p>Now, every employer knows that if you have 9-to-5 access to a computer, you are going to use the internet now and then. Maybe it's to book concert tickets when they go on sale that day, or you need to make a doctor's appointment. Small, discreet, and quick personal computer use is perfectly acceptable. But if you abuse that privilege, and spend hours browsing sites, shopping online, and watching Netflix, you are just asking for trouble.</p> <h2>4. Keep personal calls, texts, and emails to a minimum</h2> <p>Following on from inappropriate computer use is the abuse of your phone and email. These days, both of them are nicely packaged on a smartphone, and they're about as addictive as any drug out there.</p> <p>It's perfectly appropriate to take important calls at work, and most employers would expect you to do so. It's also fine to send an urgent text or email, especially if it's a family emergency or medical problem. But chit-chatting with your partner, texting your buddies, and firing off email after email is just not fair to the company you're working for.</p> <p>So, be mindful and imagine your cellphone as an old-fashioned pay phone. How badly would you have needed to make a call if it meant running outside and throwing quarters into a public phone? Unless it's urgent, leave it until your break or lunch hour.</p> <h2>5. Become a better team player</h2> <p>It's a cliché phrase to say the least &mdash; &quot;Be a team player.&quot; We've all heard it, from the corporate board rooms to the warehouse floors. But what does it actually mean?</p> <p>For starters, it means improving your communication skills. Make it a point to listen, take notes, and let your team members know that you heard them. Give constructive criticism, and ask for it in return. Offer your assistance when you see people struggling or overloaded. Ask to lead projects. And above all, make it a point to be inclusive on projects. That means getting equal help from everyone involved in the project, not just those with the loudest voices or pushy personalities. Some people are naturally more submissive and can hide in the background. By including them, you can get some valuable insights from smart people who may otherwise be overlooked.</p> <h2>6. Work on your EQ</h2> <p>We hear about the importance of a high IQ all the time, but what about your EQ? This is your emotional intelligence, and it is just as valuable at work.</p> <p>Perhaps the biggest part of your EQ is your ability to empathize with people you work with on a daily basis. It's easy to dismiss some people as instantly unlikable, but do you know what's going on with them? They may have problems at home, medical issues, and stresses you could never understand. If you know a little more about them, you can empathize more and ease tensions in the office. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-one-skill-can-make-you-a-better-boss?ref=seealso" target="_blank">This One Skill Can Make You a Better Boss</a>)</p> <h2>7. Leave your personal life at the door</h2> <p>You may have heard the expression, &quot;Hang your troubles on the trouble tree before you go home,&quot; or some variation of it. Basically, don't bring all those work problems home to your family. Well, it goes both ways.</p> <p>You may have a lot of things stressing you out at home, but you should do your best to keep them separate from your work life. You're being asked to do a job, and it's highly unlikely that your job will be improved by bringing personal issues into the office. If you really need to talk things over with someone, find a good therapist. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-keep-a-personal-problem-from-hurting-your-career?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Keep a Personal Problem From Hurting Your Career</a>)</p> <h2>8. Manage your time well</h2> <p>Good time management is highly prized in every company, since time is a precious resource. Brush up on these skills and use them to your advantage.</p> <p>Don't go to every single meeting you're invited to. Instead, ask what the meeting is about and if your presence is required. If not, spend the time working on something else. Utilize tools to plan your day, like calendar software and apps. Learn how long a project should take and stick to it; don't rush some projects because you spent too long on others. Your time is money, and should be handled with the same kind of care.</p> <h2>9. Don't expose problems without providing solutions</h2> <p>Another cliché that you've heard in movies and TV shows &mdash; &quot;Don't bring me problems, bring me solutions!&quot; The thing is, it's spot on. If you spot major issues or faults with anything at work, it's obviously correct to bring it up. However, by simply saying something like, &quot;These status meetings we have are unproductive,&quot; you're coming across as a complainer. Instead, you could say, &quot;I've noticed these status meetings are not very productive so I have these ideas on how to make them more useful.&quot; You're still pointing out an issue, but the delivery is so much more positive.</p> <h2>10. Learn what other staff members do</h2> <p>You will become a much better employee if you learn to utilize the talents of other people in your department and the company. The first step is to figure out what everyone does, what their titles mean, and what they excel at. It's just like being on a sports team: If you know what each player's strength is, you take advantage of it.</p> <p>If you're in marketing and you know John is excellent at pulling together data and extrapolating useful information, bring him into the project. If you work in an auto repair shop and know that Jane is excellent at working on old muscle car engines, put her on the Ford Shelby. The more you know, the better of an employee you become.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/become-a-model-employee-with-this-10-point-work-etiquette-checklist">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-free-ways-to-impress-your-boss">10 Free Ways to Impress Your Boss</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-act-like-a-leader-and-get-ahead-at-work">10 Ways to Act Like a Leader -- And Get Ahead at Work</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-your-customer-service-job-can-help-you-win-at-life">8 Ways Your Customer Service Job Can Help You Win at Life</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-career-moves-that-prove-youre-finally-a-grown-up">8 Career Moves That Prove You&#039;re Finally a Grown-Up</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-one-skill-can-make-you-a-better-boss">This One Skill Can Make You a Better Boss</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Career Building better employee coworkers empathy problem solving professionalism teamwork time management work etiquette Wed, 08 Nov 2017 08:30:21 +0000 Paul Michael 2049715 at http://www.wisebread.com Solving the World's Problems Could Win You Millions http://www.wisebread.com/solving-the-worlds-problems-could-win-you-millions <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/solving-the-worlds-problems-could-win-you-millions" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-492846156.jpg" alt="Woman solving the world&#039;s problems and winning millions" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>How are your problem-solving abilities? Do you regularly come up with ingenious ways to make life better? Are you and your close friends the kind of people who, when they put their minds together, can accomplish anything?</p> <p>If you're nodding yes to all these questions, you could well bag a huge prize (some are $1 million or more) for solving one of these super hard problems.</p> <h2>1. The Water Abundance Challenge ($1.5 Million Grand Prize)</h2> <p>Can you create water from thin air? That's the problem put before you on this challenge, which has a massive jackpot prize of $1.5 million. The reasons behind the competition are scary. Half of the global population lives in areas where water tables are rapidly falling, and by 2025, it is estimated that 1.8 billion people will live in areas affected by water scarcity.</p> <p>However, there is a solution. Well, a possible one. There are over three quadrillion gallons of untapped water in the Earth's atmosphere. That's enough water to meet the needs of every person on the planet for a whole year, <em>if </em>someone can figure out a way to extract the water from the air in an energy efficient way. And that's the real challenge. The solution must extract a minimum of 2,000 liters of water from the atmosphere per day, using 100% renewable energy, at a cost of no more that two cents per liter.</p> <p>Clean water, from the atmosphere, using renewable energy, with minimal costs. That's quite the challenge, and the reason the prize pot is so big. Registration closes on March 15, 2017, so if you have the chops to take this problem on, <a href="http://water.xprize.org/about/overview" target="_blank">get your entry in</a> as soon as possible.</p> <h2>2. NASA 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge ($1.1 Million and $1.4 Million Prizes)</h2> <p>This problem centers around making a 3D printed habitat for a NASA astronaut. If you've seen the movie <em>The Martian</em>, you'll know how important a dependable, lightweight living environment is to a NASA crew member. The advent of 3D printing has led to a whole new direction for innovation in this area. And now you could be a part of it.</p> <p>The big hurdle you will have to get over is raw materials. Rather than bringing them on the mission (which adds weight and cost to the project), the idea here is to &quot;print&quot; a habitat using the local indigenous materials, or recycled materials. As you can imagine, if the habitat is to be based on the moon, or Mars, that does not leave you with a lot of options.</p> <p>Phase 1 of this contest is already over, but you can still register for Phases 2 and 3 of the challenge. Each brings a substantial prize to the winning design.</p> <p>Phase 2, known as the Structural Member Competition, focuses on material technologies needed to create and build the habitat. Phase 3 is the actual printing and building of the scaled habitat design. Both offer over $1 million to the winner, so if this kind of engineering problem is your thing, <a href="http://www.bradley.edu/sites/challenge/description/" target="_blank">you should get started ASAP</a>.</p> <h2>3. Wearable Alcohol Biosensor ($200,000 First Prize)</h2> <p>Alcoholism, and alcohol-related problems, are a major cause for concern in the United States. A report published in 2014 showed that the top 10% of alcohol drinkers consume an average of <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2014/09/25/think-you-drink-a-lot-this-chart-will-tell-you/?utm_term=.de52bf918239" target="_blank">74 drinks every week</a> (that's more than 10 drinks per day). That's over two bottles of wine every day, or three 24-can cases of beer per week.</p> <p>Knowing the severity of the problem, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism wants to help Americans get off their booze addiction. So, they have issued a challenge, with a top prize of $200,000.</p> <p>You are being tasked to create the prototype of a sleek, unobtrusive, noninvasive, wearable, real-time blood alcohol monitor. Imagine a smartwatch that gives you an instant read of your blood alcohol content, or perhaps some kind of digital patch or piece of jewelry. This would become a self-monitoring device that people can use to chart their alcohol use, and something the local doctor can use as a reliable indicator of alcohol use (and abuse).</p> <p>If you have something in mind, get over to this site <a href="https://niaaa.nih.gov/challenge-prize" target="_blank">before May 15, 2017</a> and submit your prototype. You could win a lot of money, and save a lot of lives.</p> <h2>4. Women's Safety Challenge ($1 Million Grand Prize)</h2> <p>The statistics behind this challenge are terrifying. Globally, one in three women have faced physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. Geographically, it can be much worse in some areas. In New Delhi, a 2012 study revealed that 92% of women experience some form of sexual violence in public spaces. And despite the growth of technology, including smartphones and wearables, the statistics are not changing. Although most of us carry a communication device, it's not helping the problem.</p> <p>The challenge here is to use modern technology that will help keep women and communities safe. How can devices like smartphones, coupled with a community of people ready to help, create a network that protects women from the dangers of society? The winning solution will autonomously and inconspicuously trigger an emergency alert, transmitting information to a network of responders, all within 90 seconds and at an annual cost of U.S. $40 or less.</p> <p>This is something that can have a real impact on your own community, and the world. You can <a href="http://safety.xprize.org/about/overview" target="_blank">read more about the challenge</a>, and the prize.</p> <h2>5. The Medical Treatment Free Time Challenge ($20,000 Top Prize)</h2> <p>Hopefully, you never have to be the beneficiary of the solution to this challenge. It is based around the amount of time that some people have to spend basically sitting idle while they receive medical treatments. A typical example of this would be kidney dialysis, which requires patients to sit still for around four hours, three times per week. But as the challenge states, this is for anyone receiving medical treatment that has free time to spare while undergoing the procedure.</p> <p>Instead of reading a book, listening to music, or watching TV, what could the patient do that is more beneficial to his or her recovery? Could this time be better spent doing something that actively helps in the treatment itself, or something that works to better the attitude and outlook of the patient?</p> <p>If these questions are already getting your mind to work overtime, <a href="https://www.innocentive.com/ar/challenge/9933817" target="_blank">take a look at the details</a>. You will have to register for free, but it could be well worth it for you, and the people your solution helps.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/solving-the-worlds-problems-could-win-you-millions">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-surprising-ways-a-3d-printer-can-save-you-money">5 Surprising Ways a 3D Printer Can Save You Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-ssn-can-now-be-accurately-guessed-using-date-and-place-of-birth">Your SSN Can Now Be Accurately Guessed Using Date and Place of Birth</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-ultimate-list-of-hangover-cures">The Ultimate List of Hangover Cures</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-3d-scanners">The 5 Best 3D Scanners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bots-chips-and-selfies-how-safe-are-the-new-ways-to-pay">Pay with a Selfie: How Safe Are the New Ways to Pay?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Technology 3d printing alcohol engineering grand prizes medicine problem solving safety science water Thu, 02 Feb 2017 10:30:35 +0000 Paul Michael 1878110 at http://www.wisebread.com 15 Ways to Solve Your Problem http://www.wisebread.com/15-ways-to-solve-your-problem <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/15-ways-to-solve-your-problem" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/4991286872_36536ddd6c_z.jpg" alt="woman on a walk" title="woman on a walk" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We all have problems. Whether it&rsquo;s something that&rsquo;s been dumped on you at work, something at home, or something else entirely, life rarely goes 100% according to plan. No matter how large or challenging the problem, there&rsquo;s nearly always a solution of some sort. All you have to do is find it. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/got-a-problem-why-you-should-figure-it-out-yourself">Got a Problem? Why You SHould Figure It Out Yourself</a>)</p> <h3>1. Speak Positively</h3> <p>It&rsquo;s easy to think about saying positive things about yourself, but it can be much harder to execute. And yet, thinking positively about yourself will make it more likely that you&rsquo;ll be able to solve a hard problem. Make a list of things you&rsquo;re good at or things you like about yourself. Then put them in the present tense, starting with &quot;I am &hellip;&quot; You&rsquo;ll end up with a list of statements like, &quot;I am happy,&quot; &quot;I am successful,&quot; and &quot;I am creative.&quot; Post the list where you can see it, and read through it at least once a day. If you&rsquo;re comfortable, read it out loud. Hearing your own voice say these things will be even more powerful.</p> <h3>2. Remember Past Successes</h3> <p>When you&rsquo;re struggling to find a solution, it&rsquo;s easy to think about all the times you&rsquo;ve tried and things haven&rsquo;t gone the way you wanted them to go. Instead, deliberately ponder your successes. No matter how small the success, think it through. Think about what made the success happen, and think about how you can recreate those things in your current situation.</p> <h3>3. Learn From Past Failures</h3> <p>If you can&rsquo;t get your mind off your past failures, use them instead. Examine each one carefully. Take some time to turn it over and over in your mind. Determine what caused you to fail. Is it something you can improve? In that case, come up with a plan to avoid that this time. Was it something out of your control? Then let it go, knowing that you can&rsquo;t control everything. Then, turn back to your problem and see if you can&rsquo;t find a solution now.</p> <h3>4. Wear Clothes That Make You Feel Attractive and Comfortable</h3> <p>It&rsquo;s so much easier to think creatively when you feel good about yourself. That means not only knowing that you look good, but not having anything to distract you. So, even if those stilettos make your legs look amazing, avoid them if you&rsquo;ll be in pain all day.</p> <h3>5. Take Some Time Away</h3> <p>If you pursue a solution and it really won&rsquo;t come, then maybe you&rsquo;re burning out on this problem. While it&rsquo;s great to get away for a day or two, a simple walk around the block or even down the hall can help you feel refreshed. Time away from a project also gives you perspective, so you can see things from multiple points of view when you go back.</p> <h3>6. Get Moving</h3> <p>When your brain focuses on one thing for too long, it starts to think in the same patterns over and over. Change your brain&rsquo;s focus by moving your body. In addition, you&rsquo;ll charge your system with endorphins, which make you feel good and will also help you think about the problem more creatively.</p> <h3>7. Wonder and Wander</h3> <p>Another way to help your brain get out of a rut is to let it wander for a while. Many times, you&rsquo;ll find yourself making connections between things that didn&rsquo;t seem connected before, and you may end up with a creative solution to your problem or at least a new pathway for inquiry. If this is hard for you, <a target="_blank" href="http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newISS_01.htm">create a mind map</a>, so you can see all of the ways that different ideas might connect.</p> <h3>8. Go Outside</h3> <p>If you&rsquo;re pondering and pondering a problem from the same point of view, get up and move outside. Going outside not only changes your perspective, but it also charges your system with D vitamins. Finally, getting outside may give you enough of a perspective change that you&rsquo;ll find new patterns for your mind, which may generate new solutions.</p> <h3>9. Watch Other People</h3> <p>If nothing is working, take some time to watch how other people work. If there&rsquo;s someone in particular who solves problems well, ask them how they do it. While some people are just wired that way, others have taken the time to learn techniques that could benefit you, too.</p> <h3>10. Ask Questions</h3> <p>Asking questions about the problem in front of you not only makes sure you have all the relevant information, but may generate an idea that becomes your solution. Sometimes, other people have a piece of data that they don&rsquo;t realize pertains to your problem. When you ask them questions, those tidbits can come out and you can utilize them.</p> <h3>11. Make a List</h3> <p>When you feel like you&rsquo;ve tried everything and nothing has worked, begin to write down your ideas&nbsp;&mdash; the ones you&rsquo;ve tried, the ones that seem crazy, and the ones that seem like they&rsquo;d take an act of God to accomplish. Writing can help your brain make new connections and seeing an idea on paper might help you see that it&rsquo;s not impossible after all.</p> <h3>12. Breathe Deep</h3> <p>Take 5-10 minutes to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/super-solid-yoga-tricks-to-help-you-relax">focus on your breathing</a>. Feel each breath come in and go out. Lay all other thoughts aside. An answer may come to you while you&rsquo;re breathing or it may not, but no matter what, your mind will be in a better place to come up with a solution when you&rsquo;re done.</p> <h3>13. Take a Blast From the Past</h3> <p>Even if no one has had your specific problem before, people have probably had similar problems. Do some research to find out how people solved these similar problems in the past. While you may not be able to utilize the exact same solution, just knowing that they solved the problem will help you calm down to find a solution of your own.</p> <h3>14. Think Differently</h3> <p>This has come up throughout this article, but it gets its own point because it&rsquo;s so important. Do whatever you have to do to get your brain out of the rut that it&rsquo;s in. Do jumping jacks. Call someone you haven&rsquo;t spoken to in years. Go someplace new for dinner. All of these things can trigger a new connection in your brain, and it just might be the one you&rsquo;re looking for.</p> <h3>15. Remember the Alamo</h3> <p>To some people, the Alamo was a huge failure. However, the men there dug deep, dug in, and held on until the very end. While they didn&rsquo;t get to see the solution to their problem, they inspired people in their own time and across time into the present. Remember that finding a solution to your problem, while important, is only the small picture. In a big picture world, what looks like failure could be more of a success in the long run.</p> <p><em>How do you solve those impossible problems? What has worked for you?</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sarah-winfrey">Sarah Winfrey</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-ways-to-solve-your-problem">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-surprising-benefits-of-failure">7 Surprising Benefits of Failure</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/living-without-a-landline">Living Without A Landline</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/17-things-car-salesmen-dont-want-you-to-know">17 Things Car Salesmen Don&#039;t Want You to Know</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-perfectly-respectable-ways-to-get-a-free-meal">5 Perfectly Respectable Ways To Get A Free Meal</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sneaky-ways-to-drink-beer">Sneaky ways to drink beer</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Life Hacks failure how to be positive problem solving Tue, 26 Feb 2013 11:00:36 +0000 Sarah Winfrey 967888 at http://www.wisebread.com Got a Problem? Why You Should Figure It Out Yourself http://www.wisebread.com/got-a-problem-why-you-should-figure-it-out-yourself <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/got-a-problem-why-you-should-figure-it-out-yourself" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/2708660678_a0729aed20_z.jpg" alt="man reading on bench" title="man reading on bench" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="159" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>An aunt of mine recently asked me what the Internet was <em>for</em>. Of course, she has email and knows how to use a computer, but she just couldn&rsquo;t understand why I found having access to all that information so exciting.</p> <p>&ldquo;Well, I can look up <em>anything</em>!&rdquo; I told her &mdash; and I often do. Whether I&rsquo;m searching for statistics for a story I&rsquo;m writing or I&rsquo;m just trying to remember what that great restaurant we went to a few years back was called, I can call the information up any time I want.</p> <p>My aunt, though, is from a different generation &mdash; one that I have a hard time even imagining. If you wanted to know something, you could find it in a book, you could ask around, or you just figure it out for yourself. While I won&rsquo;t be giving up my Internet connection, like, <em>ever,</em> I&rsquo;m wondering why I don&rsquo;t take the time to figure things out myself more often, rather than running straight to Google. Come to think of it, there are some good reasons for taking the extra time. Here are a few. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/can-you-buy-your-way-out-of-the-rat-race">Can You&nbsp;Buy&nbsp;Your Way Out of the Rat Race?</a>)</p> <h3>Because You Can</h3> <p>I think sometimes when we don&rsquo;t know something, our egos automatically kick in. Either we don&rsquo;t want to admit we don&rsquo;t know it, or we want to skip over the part where we&rsquo;re left feeling stupid and find the answer right away. At the same time, there really isn&rsquo;t anything wrong with not knowing the answer to a question or not knowing how to complete a task. Learning those things is what life&rsquo;s all about. Most people who want to understand a complex scientific theory or know the 100,000<sup>th</sup> digit of pi will probably have to visit Google, but there are many things we can solve all on our own &mdash; especially when we have to. Have you ever been stranded somewhere with few resources and been forced to find a solution to a problem? Getting that tent set up without the forgotten poles is something you could easily solve with a trip to the camping store, but doing it yourself will leave you feeling exultant &mdash; and you&rsquo;ll have a great story to tell your friends. Try the same strategy when you aren&rsquo;t quite as stuck.</p> <h3>Because If Can&rsquo;t, You Can Learn</h3> <p>Let&rsquo;s get back to ego again. It can make learning things very difficult. Actually, it can prevent us from even trying to learn things. You can&rsquo;t fail if you don&rsquo;t even start. Just to be clear, I&rsquo;m not speaking as someone who&rsquo;s mastered the art of self-education; when my ultra-complicated recipe fails or I can&rsquo;t figure out how to put the doohikey that fell off my car back on again, my tendency is to throw it aside in a huff and never go back to it. I feel stupid, and I just don&rsquo;t want to go there. Sometimes, though, I manage to peek past my own pride and look at what went wrong. Often, it&rsquo;s something really simple, and if I&rsquo;m patient enough, a solution will usually come to me. And boy do I feel smug when it does.</p> <h3>Because You&rsquo;re Always Available</h3> <p>There&rsquo;s nothing wrong with asking friends and family for help and advice, but there&rsquo;s something to be said for self-sufficiency. After all, help isn&rsquo;t always available (or helpful), but chances are you&rsquo;ll always be on the scene of your own personal problems and disasters. If you believe other people have the answers, why not put the same stock in yourself?</p> <h3>Because You Can Afford Your Own Labor</h3> <p>Figuring something out for yourself often involves <em>doing</em> something for yourself too. In many cases, this can be a great way to learn something new and save some money. Yes, your time has value, but if you aren&rsquo;t busy, why not try your hand at fixing a household appliance or <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-simple-ways-to-cut-your-car-expenses">changing your own motor oil</a> rather than paying someone else to do it? Google might come in handy here, but even if you pull in a few references, there&rsquo;ll still be plenty of confusing bits left for you to sort out on your own. If you learn to do a few things like this, the savings will really add up.</p> <p>We have access to so many resources these days, it&rsquo;s possible to eliminate having to do much of anything at all (besides working to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-is-your-time-worth">pay someone else to do it</a>!). So here&rsquo;s a salute to the art of figuring things out ourselves. I think I&rsquo;ll try to do it a little more often. After all, if it doesn&rsquo;t work out, I can always Google it.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fgot-a-problem-why-you-should-figure-it-out-yourself&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FGot%2520a%2520Problem-%2520Why%2520You%2520Should%2520Figure%2520It%2520Out%2520Yourself_0.jpg&amp;description=Got%20a%20Problem%3F%20Why%20You%20Should%20Figure%20It%20Out%20Yourself"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/Got%20a%20Problem-%20Why%20You%20Should%20Figure%20It%20Out%20Yourself_0.jpg" alt="Got a Problem? Why You Should Figure It Out Yourself" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tara-struyk">Tara Struyk</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/got-a-problem-why-you-should-figure-it-out-yourself">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/14-things-you-should-spend-more-time-on">14 Things You Should Spend More Time On</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-self-improvement-apps-to-make-you-smarter-stronger-and-happier">10 Self-Improvement Apps to Make You Smarter, Stronger, and Happier</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/feeling-stuck-100-ways-to-change-your-life">Feeling Stuck? 100 Ways to Change Your Life</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-fun-games-that-make-you-smarter-too">11 Fun Games That Make You Smarter, Too</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/become-a-model-employee-with-this-10-point-work-etiquette-checklist">Become a Model Employee With This 10-Point Work Etiquette Checklist</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Development learning a new skill problem solving self-sufficiency Thu, 17 May 2012 10:24:18 +0000 Tara Struyk 929146 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Be Less of a Grump at Work http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/how-to-be-less-of-a-grump-at-work <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/articles/how-to-be-less-of-a-grump-at-work" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/articles/how-to-be-less-of-a-grump-at-work</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/how-to-be-less-of-a-grump-at-work" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000014768098Small.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Lurking issues not properly handled often lead to frustration, fatigue, a vague feeling of impending doom, and the fear of missing an opportunity. Take these steps to confront common causes of grumpiness, so that you can be authentically optimistic, pleasant, and energized by your business almost all of the time.</p> <p><strong>Let People Know When You are Really Busy</strong></p> <p>If you are unusually busy, then you may become frustrated when your employees interrupt you with non-urgent matters that do not advance your progress toward a project deadline, shipment of customer orders, or response to a crisis. Certainly, you want to be available to team members so that you can coach and mentor them. But there are days when you need time dedicated to mission-critical tasks.</p> <p>So, rather than scowl at employees, let them know when you are busy&hellip; and that you are not able to provide your usual upbeat and inspiring leadership. Be clear about the signs of your extreme busyness, such as a closed door, muted Blackberry, and delayed response to email. And, if possible, advise when your schedule and availability will be back to normal.</p> <p>These times should be the exception to your routine. If you are nearly always overwhelmingly busy and can&rsquo;t be bothered most of the time, then reconsider how the workload is assigned, how orders are prioritized, and crises are avoided. Make adjustments so that your business and its employees invigorate you rather than annoy you.</p> <p><strong>Ask Questions Rather than Make Assumptions</strong></p> <p>If you become aware of a potentially destructive situation, find out what is really happening rather than making wrong assumptions that dampen your enthusiasm. For example, what if your honest employee seems to be violating a policy, a loyal customer seems to be vetting competitors, and a long-time vendor seems to be requiring long lead times than usual?</p> <p>Rather than concerning yourself with the outcomes of sketchy scenarios, ask open-ended questions and be willing to listen. Conducting your own investigation brings clarity to whatever errors or inconsistencies may exist. Being able to quickly identify and address possible predicaments, rather than allowing them to linger, can stem grumpiness or lessen its duration.</p> <p><strong>Deal with Trouble as Quickly as Possible</strong></p> <p>Minor yet unresolved predicaments can lead to grumpiness. These types of troubles (and the troublemakers who cause them) will not significantly harm your company but nevertheless require attention that you&rsquo;d like to direct elsewhere.</p> <p>Devise a plan to deal with problems as swiftly as possible. This process is difficult but the pay-off is satisfying. At the same time, your employees&rsquo; collective mood will brighten as they will be glad that you took care of nagging issues for your sake and for the long-term viability of the business.</p> <p><strong>Hire Innovative Thinkers who will Accept Guidance</strong></p> <p>Ideally, your employees take general direction from you and figure out ways to deliver results aligned with the business&rsquo; strategy. If you must provide detailed instructions for all assignments, then you may be grumpy because of the energy and hours required for this constant supervision. Similarly, if you are the only one who has the capacity and willingness to bring innovation to your business, then you may be frustrated with resistance from employees oblivious to new opportunities and changes in the marketplace.</p> <p>People who take charge when needed but also accept guidance when appropriate can boost business results and enthusiasm. These are the folks who <a href="http://www.openforum.com/articles/9-reasons-people-dont-do-what-they-are-supposed-to-do?intlink=us-openf-nav-mostpopular" target="_blank">do what they are supposed to do</a> and <a href="http://www.openforum.com/articles/7-mistakes-bosses-make-that-drive-employees-crazy" target="_blank">are not driven crazy by slight modifications</a> to your annual business plan.</p> <p>To hire or engage such people as full-time employees or contract workers, look for those who have:</p> <ul> <li>initiated new projects;</li> <li>contributed to teamwork;</li> <li>adapted to varying organizational roles;</li> <li>learned from failures, and;</li> <li>experienced success in many realms.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Find Time to Conceive and Execute Fresh Ideas</strong></p> <p>If you spend most of your time managing day-to-day activities, then you may be unable to concentrate on conceiving and executing new ways to improve your business, deliver more innovative products, thrill more customers, and cut costs while keeping service levels high.</p> <p>Even if you absolutely adore overseeing daily routines, there will be days when you become envious of businesses similar to yours that are successfully leveraging new technologies, pursuing new strategic relationships, and landing new accounts. Then, you will be sorry (and, yes, grumpy) that you haven&rsquo;t tackled such challenges and reaped such rewards due to lack of time focused on thinking and acting strategically.</p> <p>To stay upbeat, set aside time to dream up and implement new ideas.<i><br /> </i></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/julie-rains">Julie Rains</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/how-to-be-less-of-a-grump-at-work">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/become-a-model-employee-with-this-10-point-work-etiquette-checklist">Become a Model Employee With This 10-Point Work Etiquette Checklist</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses">Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-build-business-credit-when-youre-self-employed">5 Ways to Build Business Credit When You&#039;re Self-Employed</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-reasons-time-is-worth-more-than-money">8 Reasons Time Is Worth More Than Money</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Small Business Resource Center employee relations moods office distractions problem solving small business task management time management workplace emotions Sat, 10 Dec 2011 22:03:50 +0000 Julie Rains 816777 at http://www.wisebread.com 3 Steps To Managing Workplace Conflict With Emotional Intelligence http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/3-steps-to-managing-workplace-conflict-with-emotional-intelligence <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/managing/article/3-steps-to-managing-workplace-conflict-with-emotional-intelligence" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/managing/article/3-steps-to-managing-wo...</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/3-steps-to-managing-workplace-conflict-with-emotional-intelligence" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000014071275Small.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>No matter how great a corporate culture you create, no matter how good a role model you are, it&rsquo;s inevitable that situations will arise that require you to mitigate emotional stress within the ranks. Personal conflicts, outside pressures, and job-related stress will eventually become a factor to be dealt with in any workplace setting. How well leaders handle those situations depends on their emotional intelligence.</p> <p>Managers often make one of two common mistakes when dealing with an emotional situation.</p> <ul> <li>The manager attempts to invalidate or downplay an emotional conflict and becomes a player in the emotional drama himself.</li> <li>The manager simply ignores the job-affecting emotions, hoping they will resolve themselves.</li> </ul> <p>When the manager or group leader tries to downplay or dismiss a worker&rsquo;s emotions, he inevitably creates a bigger problem. Not only does this raise the emotional stakes, but it now creates a situation wherein negative emotions are directed at the manager. Though this is very common and, arguably, a natural form of response from busy managers with plenty on their plates, it&rsquo;s incumbent upon leaders to avoid leaving an employee feeling slighted in this way.</p> <p>Likewise, ignoring the problem often creates a snowball effect, where resentment and negative emotions continue to grow, making the situation worse as well as causing additional problems as time progresses. It's always better to address emotionally wrought problems earlier rather than later.</p> <p>There is a three-step formula, however, which comes naturally to some emotionally intelligent leaders. It is one that can easily be employed by any manager to take the edge off an emotional situation. Carefully note, this formula does not attempt to &ldquo;solve&rdquo; the problem itself, but is geared toward addressing and neutralizing the emotions so that the problem can then be approached in a more objective and effective manner.</p> <p><strong>Step One: Acknowledge</strong></p> <p>More than anything, people want how they are feeling to be acknowledged. It may seem overly simple at first, but a statement such as, &ldquo;I want you to know, I understand you are feeling very stressed right now,&rdquo; can go miles toward lowering the emotional stakes of a situation. Everyone wants to feel understood, and acknowledgment is not difficult or compromising to do. Further, it doesn&rsquo;t concede agreement with the emotional state, only empathy.</p> <p><strong>Step Two: Positively Substitute</strong></p> <p>There is great power in a positive outlook and almost any negative situation can be framed in a positive light. A manager with emotional wisdom may say something like, &ldquo;I know you are under a lot of stress, and I know a great deal of it is because you are a great employee and want to do the very best job you can.&rdquo; What the manager has done in this example is to mitigate a negative emotion with the positive emotion of personal pride in a job well done. This doesn&rsquo;t alleviate the first emotion, but it breathes a positive perspective into the conversation.</p> <p><strong>Step Three: Suggest, Re-acknowledge and Appreciate</strong></p> <p>Not all situations are within the control of the manager. An increased workload that has come down from above may not be able to be removed, for example. What the manager can do is suggest ways he or she might be able to help, re-acknowledge the emotions involved and offer appreciation for the employee. &ldquo;I cannot promise anything, but I will try to see if there is any way to lighten your load. I understand you are feeling stressed and I want you to know I really appreciate your efforts.&rdquo; By saying this, we have reassured the employee without making binding promises and reinforced a sense of empathy and appreciation.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/scott-allen">Scott Allen</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/3-steps-to-managing-workplace-conflict-with-emotional-intelligence">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses">Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/become-a-model-employee-with-this-10-point-work-etiquette-checklist">Become a Model Employee With This 10-Point Work Etiquette Checklist</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-grow-your-solo-business-without-hiring-employees">How to Grow Your Solo Business Without Hiring Employees</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-times-you-should-never-feel-guilty-at-work">8 Times You Should Never Feel Guilty at Work</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Small Business Resource Center conflict emotions problem solving small business workplace crisis Thu, 28 Apr 2011 21:01:57 +0000 Scott Allen 510556 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Simple Ways to Trigger Your Creativity http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/8-simple-ways-to-trigger-your-creativity <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/innovation/article/8-simple-ways-to-trigger-your-creativity" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/innovation/article/8-simple-ways-to-tri...</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/8-simple-ways-to-trigger-your-creativity" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000001295478Small.jpg" alt="Bright idea" title="Bright idea" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Stuck in a rut? Need new product or marketing or management ideas? Relax and keep it simple. Doing the same things you&rsquo;ve always done may not seem like a great way to trigger creativity. But if you slow down and delve deeply into what seems everyday and ordinary, frequently you can make fresh discoveries and ignite new ideas you can apply to your business.</p> <p><strong>Engross yourself in a favorite hobby.</strong></p> <p>Dig deep into whatever diversion fascinates you. Consider the innovative products and technology applications that your hobby has spawned. See how business owners reach their narrowly defined target audiences.</p> <p>For example, a craftsperson might analyze the landscape of selling fine crafts and one-of-a-kind handmade items. How do large retailers market and sell low-priced crafts? How have craft shows changed over the last decade? How do Etsy.com sellers promote their unique offerings?</p> <p>Likewise, a runner may consider product innovations: performance apparel commands premium prices; how GPS technology has become integrated into training devices; how community races attract hundreds and thousands of people.</p> <ul> <li>The types of ideas that pursuit of a hobby can trigger:</li> <li>Design of new products;</li> <li>Applications of technology for improved performance;</li> <li>Methods of packaging and delivering services;</li> <li>Unique pricing structures;</li> <li>Techniques for creating and selling experiences.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Shop around in a single retail niche.</strong></p> <p>Pick a niche that is served by several stores in your area. You might choose ice cream shops, hardware stores, or consignment shops, for example. Make a real-life visit to see how business owners differ in their tactics. Take your time to observe and scrutinize various approaches.</p> <p>Contrasting methods of delivering the same product or service can generate ideas about how you can differentiate your own business from its competitors, such as:</p> <ul> <li>Product selections and display;</li> <li>Methods of managing employee-customer interactions;</li> <li>Ways of promoting the value of independently-owned businesses rather than national chains.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Simmer happily.</strong></p> <p>Creative thinking may be <em>spontaneous</em> but it is not always <em>instantaneous</em>. It&rsquo;s true that some creatives offer brilliant ideas within minutes of hearing strategic concepts. But others need hours or days to let thoughts simmer. Give yourself time instead of rushing to get results.</p> <ul> <li>Contemplation can work especially well to elicit these types of ideas:</li> <li>Creating strategies to capitalize on new business opportunities;</li> <li>Resolving long-standing problems;</li> <li>Discerning whether opportunities or problems need to be reframed in order to trigger the right response.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Talk with smart people, and listen.</strong></p> <p>I am amazed at how much information smart people are willing to share. Toss out a topic and you can garner insights on historical perspectives, current trends, and predictions for the future. Listen and probe to gather wisdom relevant to your business.</p> <p>Solicit advice to produce ideas on:</p> <ul> <li>Determining next steps for your business in critical areas such as innovative products, use of technology to deliver services, and messaging targeted customers;</li> <li>Pinpointing areas in which resources can be allocated to support these next steps.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Take a break.</strong></p> <p>Fixation on one topic can cause frustration, which is counterproductive to creativity. Taking a break allows you to move from laser-like focus to broadened understanding.</p> <p>Time away can benefit your creative thinking and help you:</p> <ul> <li>Redefine a problem, or recognize that a certain issue is inconsequential;</li> <li>Realize that a certain path to develop a new product or reach a new market isn&rsquo;t worth pursuing;</li> <li>Start asking different questions that yield the answers you need.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Consume media.</strong></p> <p>Witness creative expression or find examples of ineffective communication by checking out videos, watching television, playing games, reading news, listening to podcasts, etc. Learn cultural references of many generations and groups.</p> <p>Critical evaluation of all kinds of media can activate thinking about:</p> <ul> <li>Reaching new audiences;</li> <li>Conveying a message through images, dialogue, words, and interactivity;</li> <li>Describing ways of sharing stories that compel people to action.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Keep up with a blogging superhero.</strong></p> <p>Find the blogger who shares your values, wrestles with ideas that excite or trouble you, and gives both high-level and practical insights relevant to realizing your vision.</p> <p>Read blog posts to provoke thoughts on:</p> <ul> <li>Discovering what&rsquo;s missing from your strategic plan and its execution.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Watch your kids, who are unencumbered by fear.</strong></p> <p>Before he became a teenager, my youngest son was never afraid to try anything. Buttons were pushed endlessly and while electronic devices were broken, new computer applications were discovered. His experimentation was unnerving to me but illuminated the process of testing ideas in order to learn how actions create reactions. Since reading <a target="_blank" href="http://www.amazon.com/Poke-Box-Seth-Godin/dp/1936719002"><em>Poke the Box</em> by Seth Godin</a>, I am even more comfortable with the concept of unleashing creative thought, refraining from filtering ideas too early in the brainstorming process, and using idea testing to gain wisdom.</p> <p>Observe your children making discoveries or ask your friends who have kids about how their children go about understanding their world. Use these insights to create your own Poke-the-Box action:</p> <ul> <li>Encourage your team to generate ideas that you may have previously considered outrageous or impractical;</li> <li>Figure out methods of testing ideas;</li> <li>Assess outcomes and refine ideas to achieve desired results for your business.</li> </ul> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/julie-rains">Julie Rains</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/8-simple-ways-to-trigger-your-creativity">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-helpful-tools-to-manage-your-small-business">6 Helpful Tools to Manage Your Small Business</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-ways-to-boost-creativity">25 Ways to Boost Creativity</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/hey-boss-please-dont-bother-me-im-daydreaming">Hey Boss, Please Don’t Bother Me, I’m Daydreaming</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-places-to-go-for-inspiration">10 Places to Go for Inspiration</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-power-of-lists-getting-more-creative-and-efficient">The Power of Lists: Getting More Creative and Efficient</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Productivity Small Business Resource Center brainstorming creativity out of the box thinking poke the box problem solving small business Sat, 16 Apr 2011 22:29:38 +0000 Julie Rains 516561 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Solve Common Business Problems http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/how-to-solve-common-business-problems <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/managing/article/how-to-solve-common-business-problems-julie-rains" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/managing/article/how-to-solve-common-bu...</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/how-to-solve-common-business-problems" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000003830772Small.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>As a small business owner, you are a natural optimist and risk-taker. But, have you crossed the line that separates optimism from delusion?</p> <p>Being hopeful is easy &mdash; in the short-term. Wishing for less demanding customers, more motivated employees, and more cash in the bank requires far less intellectual work and emotional effort than making an honest assessment of your business.</p> <p>Opening your eyes to issues you would rather ignore and admitting mistakes can be painful. Doing so, however, allows you to move directly to solving problems and creating the business of your dreams.</p> <p><b>Customers</b></p> <p>Do you think your customers have out-of-control expectations? Dismiss the idea that dissatisfied customers are outliers.</p> <p><b>Scrutinize Complaints</b></p> <p>Pinpoint who is complaining (new accounts? long-time customers? everyone in your southwest region?) and what their concerns are. Look for patterns of customer frustration. Look hard for common threads if the issues seem dispersed.</p> <p>Deal with sources of the complaints, which may mean correcting the behavior of an offending employee, reorganizing a dysfunctional department, or educating your entire team on the right way to promote a new line to existing customers.</p> <p><b>Analyze Returns </b></p> <p>Check product descriptions and images for accuracy. Look at service guarantees to determine whether they are consistent with industry standards. Discern if marketing promises are realistic or overstated.</p> <p>Adjustments may be straightforward. A hastily prepared, misleading product description can be rewritten to more accurately convey attributes relevant to consumers. A problematic merchandise category can be discontinued and replaced with a more profitable line. Customers can be qualified to make sure that service packages are appropriate for their needs.</p> <p><b>Keep Promises</b></p> <p>Find out whether your company is adhering to its schedules, delivery commitments, and lead times as communicated to customers. Calculate the percentage of on-time deliveries.</p> <p>Clarify the reasons for late deliveries. See whether jobs are scheduled according to capacity, throughput times, and material availability. Ascertain if pressure from customers dictate schedule changes. Decide whether to prioritize orders from certain customers based on profit margin, volume, or other factors. Get an understanding of how promise dates are determined. Establish rules for creating, communicating, monitoring, and verifying compliance with schedules.</p> <p><b>Employees</b></p> <p>Do you have self-centered employees who are uninterested in innovation, customer engagement, and higher levels of profitability? Stop giving them slack.</p> <p><b>Perceive Shortcomings&nbsp;</b></p> <p>Think about manipulation in the past, times that defensiveness overruled reason, and other troubling moments. These interactions represent the core of an employee&rsquo;s personality, not the rough edges.</p> <p>When conflict arises, be clear about your position and reject any push-back. Communicate that you will make decisions by examining all aspects of a situation, not rely solely on information that one employee shares. Let employees know that you realize that mistakes will happen but cover-ups and denials are unacceptable.</p> <p><b>Touch Base&nbsp;</b></p> <p>Uncover fears of a new technology application, heavier workloads, or loss of control over a certain work area. Discern lack of understanding in your business model and vision.</p> <p>Go ahead and implement sure-fire ideas. Remember that employee buy-in is useful but not essential. Remove employees who may sabotage new tactics, products, etc. from certain projects or take them out of the workplace.</p> <p><b>Observe Work Habits&nbsp;</b></p> <p>Note attendance and productivity, questioning employee dedication if problems persist over a long period of time.&nbsp;Set goals and describe habits that will achieve objectives. Monitor results to confirm that employees are focusing on your business, not dwelling on their problems or pursuing their personal interests.</p> <p><b>Financials</b></p> <p>Is your business operating at full capacity but failing to generate cash? Get a handle on what is clogging cash flow.</p> <p><b>Calculate Profitability</b>&nbsp;</p> <p>Design and institute a method to compute profits by category (such as customer account, market segment, product line, service offering, or project). Review pricing structures, and capture and assign costs through methods such as <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/money/article/make-more-save-more-with-project-based-accounting-julie-rains">project-based accounting</a>.</p> <p>Unprofitable categories will become apparent. Clarifying your next step will be more difficult. Obvious actions include raising prices, cutting expenses, and eliminating lower profit items. A more complex approach will involve reinvigorating your brand or developing proprietary products to command premium prices.</p> <p><b>Check Your Infrastructure&nbsp;</b></p> <p>The cost of pricey office space, well-credentialed consultants, and full-featured technology systems can outweigh the benefits of high profit margins, heavily negotiated rates with vendors, and otherwise frugal spending habits.</p> <p>Decide what is essential to running your business. Review contractual commitments with an eye toward canceling certain agreements. Recognize needs that have changed and revise spending accordingly.</p> <p><b>Assess Cash Flow&nbsp;</b></p> <p>Customers want to pay later than expected and vendors demand faster payment.&nbsp;Valued customers have been allowed to delay payments. Vendors with high-demand items have asked for payment on delivery. The squeeze means that your business rarely has the cash needed to operate smoothly.</p> <p>Investigate new credit and payment options. Revise credit terms. Update your payment acceptance methods so that customers can easily pay when your bill is presented. Talk with vendors about ways to better organize product shipments and service deliveries, more closely aligned with company needs and customer payments.</p> <p><b>Problems Have Solutions</b></p> <p>These scenarios are a sampling of predicaments that may be present in your business. Together, they are overwhelming. Individually, they can be tackled. Solving just one problem is liberating, giving you the confidence, insight, and skills to deal with the next set of difficulties. Greater clarity will allow you to manage your business for the results you want.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/julie-rains">Julie Rains</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/how-to-solve-common-business-problems">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses">Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/become-a-model-employee-with-this-10-point-work-etiquette-checklist">Become a Model Employee With This 10-Point Work Etiquette Checklist</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-grow-your-solo-business-without-hiring-employees">How to Grow Your Solo Business Without Hiring Employees</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-build-business-credit-when-youre-self-employed">5 Ways to Build Business Credit When You&#039;re Self-Employed</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Small Business Resource Center customer complaints employee growth problem solving profitability small business Sun, 27 Mar 2011 20:35:58 +0000 Julie Rains 503061 at http://www.wisebread.com Hey Boss, Please Don’t Bother Me, I’m Daydreaming http://www.wisebread.com/hey-boss-please-dont-bother-me-im-daydreaming <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/hey-boss-please-dont-bother-me-im-daydreaming" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/987763_man_thinking.jpg" alt="man thinking" title="man thinking" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="199" height="300" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The next time your boss scolds you for daydreaming on your job, give him a piece of your mind and let him know that you&rsquo;re actually hard at work. In a recent <a href="http://www.livescience.com/health/070118_day_dreaming.html">study</a> our of British Columbia, researchers discovered that when we daydream, contrary to popular perception, our minds are actually hard at work, particularly in areas associated with complex problem solving. So while we may seem distracted from the immediate task at hand, our minds may actually be giving greater thought to the bigger picture, like advancing our careers and by extension, furthering the interests of the company. </p> <p>Experts seem to divide the activity of the brain into two broad categories, the default network and the executive network. When we engage in easy and routine activities, our default network kicks in. This is the same area of the brain that was long believed to be responsible for daydreaming. When we challenge our minds by trying to solve problems or think things through, it is our executive network that is called to task.</p> <p>Using advanced <a href="http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2009/05/11/0900234106.abstract?sid=0487ff62-54d5-4acf-9cb5-5f17244c4cec">MRI technology</a> to scan brain activity, researchers found that it was in fact the executive network that was being engaged when subjects daydreamed. Until now, scientists assumed that the two networks worked exclusively of one another, so when one was operating, the other was dormant. The recent findings seem to contradict that long held belief. </p> <p>In fact, it was found that the more a person let their mind wander, the more both networks kicked into gear, leading them to conclude that when we are beating ourselves up over a challenging conundrum, we might be better off taking our mind off the problem and just letting it wander.</p> <p>Some of you might have firsthand experience with this. I know I have. When faced with a difficult problem that seems to have no solution, at some point all my repeated efforts have no effect, and I end up simply flogging a dead horse, as the expression goes. After having racked my brain for an extended period, sometimes taking a step back and clearing my head allows me to resolve the situation.</p> <p>And if you&rsquo;re a parent, you may wonder what exactly is going on in the mind of your children when they are being dreamy and thoughtful, and as a consequence, are ignoring your pleas for obeisance. Maybe the thing to do is to let them have their moment inside their head and let them work things out; unless, of course, you have to be somewhere and the clock is ticking, which always seems to be the case with kids.</p> <p>Personally, I spend a an inordinate amount of my waking hours daydreaming, and apparently I&rsquo;m not alone. Most of us spend as much as a third of hour waking hours in la-la land, and now it seems for good reason. </p> <p>After all, while it goes without saying that certain task demand that we focus and pay serious attention to what we are doing (like say, for instance, operating a chainsaw or performing surgery) and a wandering mind could be tantamount to disaster, most of our working day is spent doing more mundane tasks. Maybe taking a little mini-vacation from the banality of it all isn&rsquo;t such a bad idea. Besides, giving you a break and refreshing your mind, it might actually help clarify the big picture and help you do your job.</p> <p>The question is, will your boss understand and appreciate your expertise in daydreaming, and if not, how can you utilize it as a selling point on your resume?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fred-lee">Fred Lee</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/hey-boss-please-dont-bother-me-im-daydreaming">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-make-your-sluggish-workday-go-a-lot-faster">How to Make Your Sluggish Workday Go (a Lot) Faster</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kill-boredom-with-these-34-fun-and-productive-projects">Kill Boredom With These 34 Fun and Productive Projects</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-smart-things-to-do-during-your-commute-even-if-you-drive">10 Smart Things to Do During Your Commute (Even If You Drive!)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-best-free-tools-to-improve-your-work-performance">The 7 Best Free Tools to Improve Your Work Performance</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-why-your-projects-always-take-longer-than-you-expect">This Is Why Your Projects Always Take Longer Than You Expect</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Career and Income Productivity daydreaming problem solving productivity Fri, 15 May 2009 11:44:19 +0000 Fred Lee 3169 at http://www.wisebread.com