How to Communicate Effectively at Work With Your Boss

communicating-effectively-feature-compressed.jpg

Do you feel like you and your boss are on the same page most days of the week?

If you nodded “yes” emphatically, that’s fantastic. But many readers might have a different opinion. In fact, a recent HubSpot survey revealed that while 70% of executives might reflect positively on their team’s marketing strategy, only 50% of individual contributors agree.

soi-anchor-cta-2017

As a marketer, it’s imperative to communicate effectively with your boss to avoid this executive divide. I wanted to create communication rules that all marketers can follow, so I went straight to the source for some answers and talked to my own boss.

I interviewed Rick Kranz about effective communication with his marketing team. He has more than 30 years of business management experience and was more than willing to share his opinions with us. Read on for his thoughts and key takeaways about communication strategies between managers and employees.

8 Rules for Communicating With Your Boss

1) Start with the bottom line.

I asked Kranz what he thinks is the most effective way for your marketing team to talk to you.

Start with the bottom line. When you speak in hyperbole you end up telling a story that eventually gets to the bottom line. Start with, ‘we are getting 50 more leads and here is why…’ and avoid, ‘So I ran an email campaign and a PPC campaign and had HUGE success. We are now getting 50 more leads.’ When you start with the bottom line, I am in a position to then ask appropriate questions like, ‘How did that happen?’”

What does this mean?

Don’t beat around the bush. Your boss is a busy person and you need to respect that. Give her the point of your discussion first, then go backward if questions are proposed. This will keep your communication streamlined and focused.

2) Speak in numbers.

I asked Kranz if he prefers the bottom line to be in numerical or qualitative data, and if he prefers to hear about the bottom line or have a document or graph to guide the information.

I prefer numbers over words. A lot of CEOs are numbers-driven. Visual data is much quicker to digest, so if information can be visual, please make it so. If you give us a spreadsheet, we’re happy, but if you give us a paragraph to read, it can be left open to interpretation.”

What does this mean?

Numbers are powerful because they can communicate success (or problems) at a glance. Use them to your advantage when communicating with your boss — numerical data speaks for itself.

3) Schedule when you communicate with your boss.

Next, I asked Kranz if he prefers discussions with his marketing team to be scheduled in advance.

It’s best to schedule a meeting with me. That way, I can plan for our discussion and focus. You don’t want my mind to be elsewhere, and if our discussion isn’t scheduled, then you’re most likely going to end up interrupting my workload, which is inefficient for both of us.”

What does this mean?

We all can attest to the fact that writing back and forth via email can get messy, so try not to fill your boss’s inbox with email after email from you.

Instead, schedule meetings with your boss to avoid messy lines of email communication and walk-in office interruptions. This will help streamline your communications and save valuable time.

4) Establish the that you have certain “rights” to communication.

I asked Kranz if he limits the number of employees that he communicates with directly.

Right now, I speak directly with everyone at our agency because there is only a handful of us, and that’s how our business model works. At companies I have been a part of in the past, with more than 50 employees, I would scale down my communications to about seven people. There isn’t a rule for it, it was just more effective that way.”

What does this mean?

Do you have the right to speak with your boss? Of course — we all have that right. But that doesn’t always make for effective communication.

If you have concerns you want to address with your boss, but you’re not the main point of contact with her, you should bring your concerns to your direct supervisor. This person will address your concerns with you, or take it up the food chain to your boss.

5) Communicate the anticipated results and next steps of your plans to your boss.

Next, we chatted about how Kranz wants to discuss future plans and goals with employees.

Always be able to tell me where we are, where we’re going, and how we’re going to get there. If we’re at point B and you want to get us to point A, then tell me how you plan to do that, and what will happen once that step occurs. Communicate the results of your plan and what the next steps are that I can help you with.”

What does this mean?

Communicate your plans effectively by addressing what the plan is, what the results will be and what the next steps are. If you bring these talking points to the table, you’ll be organized, and your plan will be well spoken for.

6) Bring problems to your boss’s attention right away.

If a problem emerges, Kranz wants his team to bring it to him right away.

Come find me in person, because the problem needs to be addressed right away. Sending an email can delay my response time and doesn’t put us in a good position for a problem-solving discussion. Additionally, it’s smart to always bring at least one solution to the table. Never give me a problem without a solution, because then you’re just passing the buck.”

What does this mean?

Don’t skulk away when a problem pops up or a mistake occurs. Respond to it proactively, and don’t keep your boss in the dark. Communicate your own proposed solutions when you present the problem so you and your boss have a basis to start a problem-solving conversation.

7) There’s a right time and place to promote your achievements.

I asked Kranz how he prefers achievements and success be brought to his attention by direct reports.

In a successful business, things are going well on a regular basis. If someone were to tell you every time something good happened, you would have someone running into your office all the time, because good news makes your business run. In my opinion, a monthly review of results would be best. It’s easier to digest these results as a report, too. During the review of results, your achievements should be highlighted. Weekly meetings are another good place for everyone to discuss their recent achievements.”

What does this mean?

We all love to brag about what we do well, but there’s a time and place to do it. Your work will speak for itself if you’re bringing in the type of results your boss is looking for. Then, you can get on your podium and share your achievements when you present reports to your boss or allocate time for success stories at the end of a meeting.

8) All business-related topics are noteworthy.

Kranz doesn’t believe there are any topics that would hinder effective communication between an employee and his or her boss.

There’s nothing my team shouldn’t come to me with. We want to hear about how the team is working together and how your work environment is, so anything is open for discussion.”

What does this mean:

Speak to your boss about business topics that concern you, or any particular success-related stories. Communicating feedback on what is going on in your business environment is an effective way for your boss to see a full picture of the company from someone else’s perspective, so don’t hold back.

Communication Is a Two-Way Street

Effective communication with your boss starts with you. You need to approach it a certain way for the conversation to be as productive as possible, so you can minimize the divide between executive and individual contributor perceptions across companies. To learn more about the global state of marketing and sales industries, download the 2017 State of Inbound report today.

What are your strategies for communication effectively with your boss at work? Share with us in the comments below.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 2014 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

To learn more about the transactional email add-on, contact your CSM.

Source: How to Communicate Effectively at Work With Your Boss
blog.hubspot.com/marketing

7 Leadership Resources for Any Stage of Your Career

Leadership-learning-resources-compressor.jpg

Learning some things in life is relatively straightforward. Take knitting, for example — that’s typically as simple as procuring some yarn and needles and searching for a how-to video on getting started. Sure, your work might look a little haphazard at first, but the steps are fairly intuitive.

Learning to lead others, on the other hand, isn’t so linear.

There’s always the option to pick up a leadership book or turn to articles on the topic to get started, but a start is all it will be. You’ve got to read, listen, ask questions, put things into practice, make mistakes, and course-correct — only then, you might be at a “good enough” level. Download our leadership guide for actionable advice & guidelines from  HubSpot's Dharmesh Shah. 

But everyone has to start somewhere, and if you’re looking to embark on a leadership development path, you might also be looking for some of the best materials to help you along the journey. We’ve got you covered — below are some of our favorite podcasts, tools, tips, and resources to become a better leader.

7 Leadership Resources for Marketers

1) Podcasts

Screen Shot 2017-05-23 at 1.59.20 PM.png
Source: NPR

Depending on the day, one method of consuming information might be better than another. If you take the train into work and the ride is quieter than usual one morning, for example, it might be a great day to catch up on a leadership book. But if you drive, and traffic is particularly bad, it’s probably better (not to mention, safer) to listen to a podcast episode about leadership than to read a book about it.

That’s one of the reasons why we consistently keep a few leadership podcasts downloaded and ready to listen to. Here are three of our favorites:

TED Radio Hour

Around here, we love a good TED talk. But trying to pick just one out of volumes of valuable presentations is as tricky as trying to pick one thing to watch on Netflix, am I right? That’s what makes the TED Radio Hour podcast so valuable. It takes some of the most intriguing TED talk topics — like big data, making our work more meaningful, or even forgiveness — and builds episodes based on them.

The Growth Show

Hosted by HubSpot’s VP of Marketing Meghan Keaney Anderson and CMO Kipp Bodnar, The Growth Show is an exploration of all things relating to business growth. Anderson and Bodnar take turns at the helm, welcoming guests to talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly sides of growth. From stories of epic failure to the even better recovery that followed it, Anderson and Bodnar interview guests who share some of the most intriguing organizational, cultural, conceptual, and team insights.

StartUp

As the name suggests, this product is a self-described “podcast about what it’s really like to get a business off the ground.” And no matter where you are in your career, there are still leadership lessons to be learned from entrepreneurs or beginners, especially if you need a back-to-basics reminder of how to get started. Plus, the topics — like balancing business and family life, or stories about inventors — are just plain interesting and provide solid fodder to get your wheels turning in the morning.

2) Public Speaking Help

Screen Shot 2017-05-23 at 1.57.12 PM.png

Public speaking isn’t exactly a requirement for being a strong leader, but as you progress in your career, it might become part of your job (think: presenting at large team meetings or to a board), and it’s a skill that can help set you apart from the pack.

But if public speaking sounds like a worse experience than undergoing a root canal, then there’s a chance you’ve wished for a formula to make it as simple as possible. That’s why we love speaking.io — it’s a near one-stop-shop for public speaking tips. Upon arriving at the site, it appears to be an unconventional resource collection for the five major steps of presenting:

  1. Plan out your talk.
  2. Design and build your slides.
  3. Prep for the big day.
  4. Deliver and do your thing.
  5. React and reflect on what just happened.

Plus, if you want newer, more detailed tips and information, the site also contains a blog with advice on things like using images, sharing presentations online, and dealing with nervousness.

3) Books (On the Stuff They Don’t Teach You in Business School)

The-Daring-Way.png
Source: brenebrown.com

Sometimes, it feels like we have to master everything to be a leader. We have to learn how to manage projects, delegate tasks, and analyze outcomes. But then, there are the leadership lessons that don’t always get the biggest headlines, like learning to be empathetic, accountable, and how to embrace vulnerability.

That last one, while a scary word, is something that we’ve found some of the most exceptional leaders do. That’s why we love Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown. “When we shut ourselves off from vulnerability,” she writes, “we distance ourselves from the experiences that bring purpose and meaning to our lives.”

This book, in particular, dives into years of research on why vulnerability can be an asset to leaders. After all, taking risks requires some degree of becoming vulnerable, and strong leaders know when to take calculated risks. But that doesn’t just apply to work — Brown’s work also explores how that vulnerability can be an advantage in other areas of life.

4) The Radical Candor Framework

Think about the hardest piece of feedback you’ve ever gotten. Chances are, it was tough to hear, but you were ultimately better off because of it.

That’s exactly what happened to Kim Scott. After an important presentation, Scott’s boss, Sheryl Sandberg — yes, the one who wrote Lean In — had some feedback. Harsh feedback. The kind of feedback that stings. But because Scott knew that Sandberg was coming from a compassionate place when giving the feedback, Scott accepted it, moved on, and became better.

Scott took this pivotal interaction and used it to develop a framework for giving better feedback at work — the kind that embraces brutal honesty delivered with profound empathy. It’s worthy advice for leaders at any point in their respective careers.

Fun fact: We once had the pleasure of hosting Kim Scott on The Growth Show. If you’re interested in hearing more about her perspective on leadership, check out her episode below.

5) Real-time Feedback

Screen Shot 2017-05-24 at 10.42.01 AM.png

Speaking of feedback, did that last resource make you crave receiving some yourself? After all, authentic, constructive criticism is an excellent supplement to the advice doled out by books, blogs, podcasts, and frameworks. Enter CareerLark: a Slack bot that helps you seek out on-the-fly “micro-feedback” on the skills you want to improve.

Here’s how it works. In the example provided by CareerLark’s product explanation, an employee wants to get feedback on his weekly analytics updates. Using the Slack bot, he can ping his boss to get real-time feedback on how he’s doing. She’ll then receive a message like this one:

careerlark_request.jpg

From there, Monica can either answer using one of the emojis provided, or send a more detailed response, as per below:

Untitled 3.jpg

Micro-feedback in real-time? Great for your skill development — and, it can provide your boss with good practice in providing concise commentary.

6) Advice From Real People

Sometimes, using a Slack bot to get advice just doesn’t cut it. We all need feedback from a real human being, and on occasion, it can be the most enlightening to get it from someone outside your company or industry.

So when you’re looking to step outside your “bubble” for input, here are a few apps that can help.

Real Talk

By The Learning Partnership, a Canadian advocacy organization for public education, the Real Talk App (available on iOS and Android) provides “unfiltered” advice from a broad range of professionals at various career stages — everyone from sound designers to freelance creatives. These individuals answer questions that many of us have as we begin to explore different work options, like whether or not advanced education is worth the money, or how you can make a career change.

Officehours

Sometimes, it can be tough to figure out who to turn to for advice. That’s what makes apps like Officehours so valuable — this one, in particular, helps you find an expert (or “advisor”) for 10 minutes of free one-on-one advice.

The advisors appear to hold a broad range of expertise, from design to entrepreneurship, data science and more. Check out the video below to learn more:

Mara Mentor

If you’re a budding entrepreneur struggling to find a mentor in your industry, check out this tool — it was designed to provide an “exchange of ideas, guidance, learning and connecting with like-minded people.”

Not only does Mara Mentor (available for iOS and Android) offer a platform for connecting professionals and entrepreneurs with mentors, but also, it provides industry news and a digital networking platform that connects you with other entrepreneurs to share knowledge and experiences. Plus, it’s global — so no matter where you are, you can connect with others for professional support.

7) Online Courses

We’ll admit that many of the sources on this list largely pertain to management, communication, and finding a mentor. But that’s not that only way to advance or make changes in your career. Sometimes, it’s about becoming really, really good at a certain thing that your job requires — or something that the job you want requires. And for that to happen, you just need to hunker down and learn it.

An online course can be a great way to do that. Finding the right class depends on the skill you want to develop, but here are a few places we recommend for getting started, especially when it comes to marketing-related skills.

HubSpot Academy

If you want a deep dive into some of the most important aspects of marketing today, check out the HubSpot Academy. One of the most popular resources available there is our free Inbound Certification.

Designlab

Want to improve or sharpen your design skills? Check out Designlab. You’ll be given real assignments to build your knowledge — and a mentor to help you through each one.

Codeacademy

More free stuff? You bet. In fact, you can learn to code for free with Codecademy, which is a particularly helpful resource if you learn best by doing — lessons are taught by way of both instruction and hands-on experience.

Lynda

Okay, so this one isn’t free — subscriptions start at $19.99/month — but if there’s a professional skill you want to advance, chances are, Lynda has a course for it. Created by LinkedIn, it offers classes in everything from Excel, to audio production, to software development.

What’s Next?

So, let’s say you’ve taken full advantage of the resources above. You’ve learned a lot and even gained some introspection. But if you’re still stuck, fear not — we’ve all been there.

If you’re at a loss for what kinds of skills you want to develop, or if you’ve realized that you’re not sure you even want to be a leader in your particular field, then there’s a chance you just might not be sure what to do next. That’s why we created The Next Five: a free assessment that can help you identify the next step in your career.

And because many of us dread the question, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” — or simply can’t answer it — this resource comes with even more processes to come up with a response on your own time. Because the only thing better than general, yet valuable leadership resources, are those tailored to your specific situation.

What are some of the most helpful leadership resources you’ve found? Let us know in the comments.

free ebook: leadership lessons

Source: 7 Leadership Resources for Any Stage of Your Career
blog.hubspot.com/marketing

8 Signs of Emotional Intelligence in Leadership

leadership-behaviors-eq-compressed.jpg

We write a lot about artificial intelligence here at HubSpot. You might be excited about it, or slightly concerned that AI will take your job — and then take over the world.

And while AI is important and interesting, I’m going to ask you to put a pin in that so we can talk about another type of intelligence: emotional intelligence.

Download our leadership guide for actionable advice & guidelines from  HubSpot's Dharmesh Shah. 

Emotional intelligence doesn’t involve bots or machine learning, but it still could have a huge impact on your job, your success, and your happiness at work. By now, we all know that success isn’t just about what you know — it’s about how you work with the people around you, too. And whether this involves networking, an inter-departmental project, or managing direct reports, other people will have a huge impact on if you get your next promotion, new job, or have opportunities presented to you.

In this post, we’ll run through a quick review of emotional intelligence — what it is, why it’s important, and how to be an emotionally intelligent leader at work.

What Is Emotional Intelligence?

The term was first defined in 1990 by two behavioral researchers named Peter Salavoy and John Mayer, and it was more broadly popularized by Daniel Goleman in his 1996 book, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ.

Emotional intelligence is defined as “a form of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and action.”

So, what does that actually mean, in plain English?

Emotional intelligence, or EQ (a play on intelligence quotient, or IQ), refers to your ability to handle emotions — your own, and those of others. It’s the ability to recognize and understand your emotions, having control over them, and help others do the same. And as you can imagine, these people skills can be just as important to professional (and personal) success as technical skills.

In fact, there’s actually no correlation between a high level of cognitive intelligence (IQ) and a high level of emotional intelligence (EQ). Psychologist Daniel Goleman thinks that the measurement of IQ is too restrictive and doesn’t accurately reflect if an individual will be successful, in their career or life in general.

Goleman and Dr. Richard Boyatzis created a framework of behavioral qualities that demonstrate EQ. In this post, we’ll explore 10 of these behaviors that leaders can use to show EQ and foster it in their teams.

8 Qualities That Demonstrate Emotional Intelligence in Leadership

1) Adaptability

Are you flexible to changes on your team and within your organization? Are you resilient when confronted with conflict and difficulty? Are you able to quickly manage the expectations and needs of both the people you report to and the direct reports on your team?

Adaptability is a key trait of emotionally intelligent leaders. Whether you’re dealing with a bad month of metrics, an interpersonal conflict between team members, or a company crisis that requires an all hands response, leaders need to be able to quickly react and respond to new and changing information. They also need to be able to respond to change with compassion and diplomacy — even if the changes might not be to their preference. Grudges, overly emotional reactions, and negative one-off complaints are unproductive, can contribute to low morale, and are generally signs of low EQ.

Leaders should set examples for emotionally intelligent adaptability by encouraging teams to present constructive feedback in team meetings or 1:1s. Leaders should also acknowledge pain points that come with change and encourage team members to brainstorm solutions and techniques for quick recovery.

2) Optimism

Are you able to motivate team members and people around you in the workplace? Can you change the mood with a joke or positive outlook on a tough situation? Are you able to help someone stuck in a negative mindset see a different perspective?

Just like adaptability, optimism is critical for leaders to motivate and uplift a team during tough times at work. Now, optimism doesn’t mean you’re relentlessly positive, no matter what. It means you can see the bigger picture of a difficult situation or bad mood to get perspective and keep moving forward — instead of getting bogged down in negativity.

Leaders should encourage team members to look at all sides of a problem to gain perspective, come up with creative solutions to challenges, and help point it out for them when they can’t do it themselves.

3) Initiative

Do you try to identify and solve problems before they arise? Do you volunteer to make things better for your peers and your team? Do you always follow up on conflicts and questions brought to you by team members? Do you not only complete the asks of your role, but look for ways to get even better results?

The ability — and eagerness — to take initiative is another sign of emotional intelligence in leadership. In fact, doing the bare minimum can sometimes be perceived as selfish — even if you are technically getting your job done every day.

Leaders with a high EQ seek out ways to improve and excel — and that includes helping team members take initiative, too. Leaders should identify and cultivate strengths in their team members and help them get to the point where they’re confident and capable enough to take initiative, too. Other examples include volunteering to take on additional work, team projects, or simply helping others complete tasks in the office.

4) Conflict Resolution

Do you moderate interpersonal conflict discretely and effectively? Do you help team members navigate disagreement or clashing priorities in a way that’s respectful to everyone involved? Do you advocate for your team to make sure members feel supported and heard?

Let’s face it — if you work on a team, conflict is bound to happen, even among the closest of colleagues. When that happens, leaders have to help come to solutions that make everyone involved feel heard, respected, and resolved.

Emotionally intelligent leaders should provide team members with plenty of opportunities to talk — in person, via phone or video call, or as a team — to resolve issues and air challenges before they devolve into unhappiness and dissatisfaction. Leaders should empower team members with conflict solutions, new processes, and more of that adaptability to prevent future problems before they arise. And sometimes, the greatest conflict resolution a leader can offer is letting a team member vent and get a problem off their chest.

5) Professional Development

Do you encourage team members to learn and cultivate new skills? Do you help team members identify strengths and target areas of improvement? Do you deliver constructive and actionable feedback? And when the time comes, do you advocate for team members to seek new opportunities, even if those opportunities aren’t working with you anymore?

As Saturday Night Live writer and actor Tina Fey once said, “in most cases, being a good boss means hiring talented people and then getting out of their way.” She’s obviously a very emotionally intelligent leader, and we encourage leaders to take it a step further than that for best results.

Hire talented people and develop their skills and talents so they’re the best they can be — even if that potentially means losing them as a team member. Emotionally intelligent leaders can prioritize the development of others over their own desire to have the best team possible. These leaders should help employees identify talents, improve on strengths and weaknesses, and help team members take on new opportunities they might not without a leader’s encouragement.

6) Empathy

Do you put yourself in teammates’ shoes when addressing challenges and problems with them? Do you acknowledge others’ feelings and opinions and respond to them? Do you share your own emotions and worries with team members to help them feel understood?

Effective leaders must be empathetic in order to also be emotionally intelligent. Empathy means not just listening to team members, but making them feel heard and understood, too. Leaders should constantly seek to understand the perspective of their team members to effectively communicate changes, feedback, and news — both good and bad.

Empathetic leaders can deliver feedback in team members’ preferred method of communication, tailor meetings and communication according to different personalities and styles, and adapt their leadership style to what’s most effective for motivating and helping the larger group.

7) Trustworthiness

Do teammates confide in you? Do you know when to keep information confidential, and when to escalate it through the proper channels? Do teammates feel comfortable bringing concerns to you when they arise?

Trust isn’t just about keeping secrets your team members confide in you — it’s also about creating an environment of mutual trust where team members feel supported and comfortable.

Emotionally intelligent leaders should provide team members with multiple avenues for providing feedback, airing grievances, and voicing questions or concerns — without feeling vulnerable or wrong for doing so. They should encourage team members to support and rely on each other, work collaboratively, and share knowledge and skills for better team outcomes.

8) Self-Reflection

Do you analyze your strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for improvement on a regular basis? Do you engage with your direct reports and your supervisors to get 360-degree professional feedback? Do you set monthly, quarterly, or annual goals for improvement and personal development?

In addition to all of the above, one of the most meaningful ways leaders can cultivate their emotional intelligence to drive better team outcomes is to pause and reflect on themselves. It can be challenging to critique yourself, which is where collaborative feedback comes in. Emotionally intelligent leaders constantly seek feedback from peers and other leaders to analyze and strategize how to constantly improve — in meetings, 1:1s, and by seeking to learn from other sources.

These are only eight examples of emotional intelligence in leadership, but focusing on these traits will help leaders cultivate emotional intelligence in team members to help them be as productive and successful as possible. For more information on improving and cultivating emotional intelligence in leadership, download HubSpot co-founder and CTO Dharmesh Shah’s ebook here.

What signs of emotional intelligence do you value? Share with us in the comments below.

free ebook: leadership lessons

Source: 8 Signs of Emotional Intelligence in Leadership
blog.hubspot.com/marketing

Introverts vs. Extroverts: Leadership Challenges & How to Solve Them

introvert-extrovert-leadership-compressed.jpg

There are a variety of tests and surveys you can take to learn about your personality traits and assess your strengths and weaknesses as they fit in the workplace. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, the DiSC Profile, and the Big Five are a few that come to mind — we even use DiSC here at HubSpot.

These tests and their subsequent results often hinge upon the different traits and habits of introverts versus extroverts. 

New Call-to-action

These personality traits are more commonly associated with your personal life, but introversion and extroversion impact how you interact with everyone — including your coworkers. In fact, identifying whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert could help you be a better leader, too. 

All leaders have their own distinctive styles and methods for motivating and empowering teams, and while none of them are right or wrong, some can be adjusted to make team work environments as productive and successful as possible. In this post, we’ll dive into the exact differences between introverts and extroverts, and how they can solve common leadership challenges their personality types might face.

Introvert vs. Extrovert Definitions

Introverts are people who gain and recharge mental energy by being in quieter, less stimulating environments. Extroverts are the opposite: They gain and recharge their energy by being around other people in more stimulating environments.

Quiet Revolution co-founder and author Susan Cain says introverts “listen more than they talk, think before they speak, and often feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation.” She described the difference between introversion and extroversion using an example: After spending three hours at a friend’s birthday party, would you be more inclined to go home for the night and decompress, or keep the party going? The science behind the difference between introverts and extroverts lies in our nervous systems. One big difference has to do with dopamine, a neurotransmitter that induces reward-seeking behavior. When dopamine production increases in your brain, both introverts and extroverts become more talkative and more alert to people in their surroundings. And as it turns out, dopamine is more active in the brains of extroverts. For introverts, acetylcholine is the preferred neurotransmitter — one that gives people pleasure when they reflect inward and take a lot of time to think deeply or focus intensely on just one thing.

So, introverts aren’t necessarily shy, and extroverts aren’t necessarily party animals — the different types simply derive more pleasure from different levels of external stimuli. (And it’s important to note that there’s a spectrum of introversion and extroversion, and it’s possible to be an ambivert — a person who has habits and tendencies of both introverts and extroverts.)

Challenges can arise in the workplace because individuals with extroverted tendencies — such as a willingness to speak up — might be promoted first or get more attention from executives — especially in fast-paced business environments. But there are challenges that can come up when introverts are leaders, too.

How Introverted Leaders Can Improve

The Challenge: 

I asked Cain about her thoughts on how introversion can hinder leaders at this year’s Simmons Leadership Conference. “For introverted leaders, the temptation is to keep their heads down and focused; the challenge can be to interact with their teams as frequently and enthusiastically as their team members would like.”

The Solution:

Introverted leaders should determine effective ways to interact and communicate with their team members that are comfortable for both introverts and extroverts. Some suggestions include:

  1. Schedule weekly 1:1 meetings with team members so you can prepare in advance for giving feedback and discussing work.
  2. Host “Office Hours” for team members who want to chat in person outside of regularly scheduled meetings.
  3. Overcommunicate instructions and contextual information you might not share as openly in a team meeting.
  4. Use communication and team collaboration tools — like Slack, Asana, and Trello — to keep avenues of communication about ongoing projects and initiatives open without having to hold a meeting.
  5. Schedule meetings with a clear agenda for all team members invited.
  6. Encourage team members (and yourself) to prepare for team meetings in advance so everyone can contribute to the discussion. Introverts might need more time to read, write, and prepare notes for a meeting to feel empowered to speak on the fly, so encourage your team to read any pre-meeting materials and set aside time to prepare.
  7. Determine how different team members like to give and receive feedback — and whether it’s in person or via email, challenge yourself to tailor your feedback to its recipient.
  8. Explicitly communicate praise, either in person or via email, so team members feel appreciated. Where extroverts might prefer to be praised in a team meeting, introverts might prefer to receive praise in a 1:1 meeting.

How Extroverted Leaders Can Improve

The Challenge:

Cain also reflected that extroverted leaders can encounter obstacles of their own. “For extroverted leaders, the challenge is to let other people contribute ideas,” Cain says. “A study by Wharton professor Adam Grant found that introverted leaders of proactive teams produced better results than extroverted leaders did because they were more likely to encourage others’ input, while extroverted leaders were more apt to put their own stamp on things.”

The Solution:

Extroverted leaders need to balance different personalities on their team to make sure they motivate and encourage their team to excel without being so enthusiastic that they shut others down. Some ideas include:

  1. Host meetings that incorporate aspects that let both introverts and extroverts shine. For example, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos starts all meetings with the group silently reading prep materials together for the first 20-30 minutes. Then, the meeting evolves into a discussion without a set agenda. These two pieces let both groups prepare in the manner most comfortable for them.
  2. Rethink brainstorming. As it turns out, brainstorming alone can produce a greater quantity of good ideas than discussing in a group. Cain suggests a hybrid brainstorm wherein participants come up with ideas alone and come together in a meeting to share and improve upon them.
  3. Keep meetings as small as possible so everyone feels comfortable speaking up.
  4. Allow team members to prepare as much as possible. And if that’s not possible, offer the opportunity to provide feedback and additional thoughts in a follow-up meeting or email.
  5. Listen twice as much as you speak in meetings to avoid dominating the conversation.
  6. Identify visibility opportunities for team members that work for their personality types.
  7. Champion and advocate for more introverted employees who might not identify those opportunities as readily.
  8. Challenge introverted employees to practice skills they’re not as comfortable with in private settings. Encourage extroverted employees to practice those skills in a meeting or a more visible setting.

Listen Up

The most valuable leadership advice we can offer, whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, is to be honest about your leadership style. Don’t be afraid to openly and transparently tell your team members about your personality traits. Tell them about your style, they’ll tell you about theirs, and you can all work together to communicate and work effectively.

For more ideas for making the workplace conducive to introverts’ and extroverts’ success, check out more leadership content on ThinkGrowth.org, our Medium publication.

What are your suggestions for making the workplace inclusive for all personality types? Share with us in the comments below.

free ebook: leadership lessons

Source: Introverts vs. Extroverts: Leadership Challenges & How to Solve Them
blog.hubspot.com/marketing

12 Brainstorming Techniques for Unearthing Better Ideas From Your Team

brainstorming-tips-update-compressed.jpg

If you want to hold brainstorms that unearth better, more creative ideas, it all starts with the people in the room. Like, the actual number of people in the room.

That’s my first tip for you: Follow the “pizza rule” for brainstorming. If you’re unfamiliar with the “pizza rule,” it’s the idea that if you have more people in a room than you could feed with a pizza, there are too many people in that room to hold a productive meeting.

New Call-to-action

The same rule goes for a brainstorming session: If you’ve got a dozen people sitting around a table, expect a really long list of truly mediocre ideas.

So, what else can you do other than bribe a group of two to six people with pizza to unearth good ideas? So glad you asked.

12 Team Brainstorming Techniques for Getting to Good Ideas

1) Invite a diverse group of people.

If your team works on all of the same projects together, goes to team meetings together, sits next to each other in the office, and hangs out in the same group chats all day … well, needless to say, the ideas will likely start to get pretty homogenous.

Instead, invite new people from other teams to your brainstorms — people with different skill sets and experiences to help get you out of your rut and see things in a new way. It’ll give you that great mix of new perspectives and contextual knowledge that’ll help you land on ideas that are both original and doable.

2) Keep the meeting to 22(ish) minutes.

Nicole Steinbok advocates this technique, and it’s one I’ve used with positive results. (I usually round up to 30 minutes, but what’s a few minutes among friends?) It works particularly well for people like myself that thrive under the threat of a deadline.

In my experience, having a limited amount of time to brainstorm only works if all participants are actually ready for the meeting. (More on that in a minute.) But two other tenets Steinbok harps on are a no-laptop rule, and a no off-topic-banter rule. While some might disagree with the latter, I have found that aggressive time constraints help keep people on task and delivering their best ideas as a result.

3) Provide context and goals well before the meeting.

“Well before the meeting” doesn’t mean that morning. Offer any pertinent information at least two business days in advance so people have a fighting chance at actually being prepared for the brainstorm.

In addition to providing any reading materials or contextual information that help set up the reason for the brainstorm (and explicitly asking that they read it, too), describe what the ideal outcome of the meeting looks like. This will help people come into the meeting understanding the scope of what you’re all trying to do. I think you’ll find this helps you avoid wasting time catching everyone up so you can get to the brainstorm right away.

If necessary, run your meeting like Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, and dedicate 30 minutes specifically to quietly reading in a group to bring everyone together — especially if they won’t have time to read before the meeting.

4) Ask people to come prepared with some ideas.

Often, great ideas don’t show themselves when you ask them to. They pop up on the train, in the shower, while you’re watching TV … basically any time you’re not actually trying to come up with the idea.

This is one reason why it’s good to provide a few days of lead-time before your meeting, but it’s also why you might want to explicitly ask people to think of some ideas beforehand. With this approach, you might find that you start the meeting off with pretty strong ideas from the get-go, and the group can add to and modify them to make them even stronger. In fact, this hybrid brainstorming approach was found to be more effective in a University of Pennsylvania study.

Frankly, I’ve also found that when everyone comes in cold turkey, the brainstorm often ends with a long list of very uninspired ideas. At the very least, whoever runs the brainstorm should come with a few ideas to kick off the brainstorm and give an indication of what a good idea looks like.

5) Say “no” to the bad ideas. Fast.

It might be brainstorm heresy to recommend people squash bad ideas, but I’ve seen one too many brainstorms go astray because people are too scared to say “no.” This is particularly important if you’re trying to run a quick brainstorm session.

Yes, there’s a fine line: Squashing bad ideas could lead people to fear speaking up, missing out on good ideas as a result. But if you’re giving every idea equal due regardless of merit, then you get off-track real fast and end up down a bad idea rabbit hole.

Better brainstorms that yield better ideas leave time to nurture the strongest inclinations.

On that note …

6) Foster an environment where bad ideas are okay.

Yes, you should call out bad ideas. But you should also make it okay that people had them. Call out your own ideas, in fact. If people can speak freely, but not feel stupid for doing so, you’ll get more ideas out — which makes it more likely you’ll land on a good one.

7) Lean into constraints.

If you have every resource and opportunity in the world, creativity will naturally stifle. Lay out the constraints you’re working within in terms of goals and resources for executing any idea you come up with. Then, try to see those as opportunities for creativity instead of roadblocks that make it impossible to come up with a good idea.

8) Lean into silence.

Anyone in sales already knows: Silence is power. In a brainstorm, silences are times when people get thinking done — either about their own ideas, or how to build on the last idea that came up.

And hey, it might also encourage more people to speak up with an idea, just out of their hatred of uncomfortable silences.

9) Lean into failure … outside of the brainstorm.

If you have a team where taking smart risks — regardless of outcome — is rewarded, people will have a better sense of what ideas are worth pursuing and what’s worth passing on. Because, you know, they do it a lot and get a second sense for these things.

If experimentation is a part of your team culture, that’ll manifest itself in better ideas than if your team is stuck in stasis. You’ll have better brainstorms where creative and smart, yet risky ideas come out.

10) Be prepared to ditch the meeting altogether.

Sometimes in-person meetings aren’t the right format for unearthing good ideas. Certain brainstorms can be better performed digitally.

For example, we often resort to Google Docs or Slack for brainstorms when curating blog post or title ideas across a large group of people. There’s really no need to pull everyone away from their work to participate in a brainstorm like that — and the benefit is that people can participate on their own time, when they’re ready and eager to contribute ideas, not when the meeting happens to occur.

11) Provide a place for anonymous submissions.

For some people, the “right” format might be an anonymous submission. Provide a place for anonymous idea submission both before and after the meeting. People might have some ideas that they’re reticent to bring up in front of the group. It’d be a shame to miss out on those ideas due to shyness, discomfort, or simply a preference for writing out ideas instead of speaking about them. This is easy to set up through a Google form.

12) Be prepared to pursue absolutely nothing that came out of that brainstorm.

Don’t feel like you have to choose and pursue an idea just because you had a brainstorm. If the brainstorm didn’t yield any good ideas, that’s fine. It wasn’t a waste of time. But you will waste your time if you pursue an idea that isn’t worth doing. Moving forward with the lesser of all evils is still … evil.

Instead, do some reflection on your own about why the ideas aren’t ready to see the light of day, and see if any are worth more thought before ditching them. Perhaps you’ll get another group of people in a room to iterate on them — or even the same group once they’ve had some distance from the ideas. Now that ideas have started flowing, you might find a second round of brainstorming yields something even better.

What other tips do you have for getting more out of brainstorms? Share with us in the comments.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2016 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

15 Business Blogging Mistakes

Source: 12 Brainstorming Techniques for Unearthing Better Ideas From Your Team
blog.hubspot.com/marketing

How to Get Promoted: Impress Your Boss by Doing These 7 Things

how-to-get-promoted-compressor.jpg

I once made a really big hiring mistake.

After a series of promising interviews, I took on an intern whose level of professionalism, performance, and overall demeanor quickly took a turn for the worse. I discussed it with my supervisor, we agreed that it was in everyone’s best interests not to move forward with the internship.

However, when we sat her down to talk, she countered our concerns about her performance by saying, “But … I was driving all the way from [insert desolate location here] to get here every day.”

I recall staring at her blankly. Since when does the length of your commute warrant special praise? Boost your resume and join 30,000 marketers by getting inbound  marketing-certified for free from HubSpot. Get started here. 

We all wake up every morning, brush our teeth (hopefully), and make our way to work. However, the simple truth is that the act of “showing up” isn’t enough to propel career advancement. The most successful people earn the attention and respect of their bosses by proving they’re an asset to the team. So if you’ve ever entertained the thought of how to get promoted — or, at least, how to impress your boss — we’ve identified a few things every boss would love to see you doing.

How to Get Promoted With 7 Great Behaviors

1) Take ownership.

At HubSpot, we’ve been known to “fire” our best people.

No, that wasn’t a typo.

Here’s how it works: If you have a great idea — and you can prove that it actually delivers — you will be fired from your day job to own and grow that idea. After all, that’s what happened to HubSpot’s former VP of Sales, Pete Caputa. The story goes, according to CEO Brian Halligan speaking to Inc:

In 2008, one of our sales reps came to me with an idea that he believed could revolutionize HubSpot. At the time, we sold our software directly to consumers. But the rep, Pete Caputa, thought HubSpot should have a reseller channel in order to expand the business model. Basically, he wanted to sell our core product to third parties, who would then turn around and sell the product to their customers.”

Halligan was far from sold on the idea, but he decided to give Caputa an opportunity to prove himself. “If you want to do it so bad, start doing it nights and weekends and show us this will work,” he said.

Not long after accepting the challenge, Caputa was, in fact, encouraged to leave his day job here to grow what is now HubSpot’s Agency Partner Program.

Our point: Don’t be afraid to bring big ideas to the table. That’s the type of behavior that good bosses love to see because it illustrates your ability to solve problems for the business (and customers) on a high level. And while it’s easy to solve problems that specifically pertain to you and your reports, the goal is to identify and solve problems that influence the grand scheme of things. Think like a founder, and your boss will take note.

2) Support your colleagues.

Depending on your industry, getting ahead at work might sometimes feel like a dog-eat-dog type of situation. And while the old saying goes, “Nice guys finish last,” there is actually an opportunity for self-advancement through the act of helping others. Not to mention, if your boss catches you in the act, it can highlight your ability to be remarkably helpful: a trait almost every good boss cares about.

But don’t just take it from me. Adam Grant, author of Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success, also has something to say about it:

The more I help out, the more successful I become. But I measure success in what it has done for the people around me. That is the real accolade.”

In this book, Grant dives into the idea that in the workplace, people can be divided into three categories: takers, matchers, and givers.

  • Takers are known to, well, take from other people.
  • Matchers are more apt to make even exchanges.
  • Givers separate themselves from the rest by doing good without expectations for reciprocation.

Grant goes on to provide examples of successful givers throughout history, such as U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, venture capitalist David Hornik, and businessman Jon Huntsman, Sr. So do yourself a favor and dig into their accomplishments a bit — we have a hunch that it’ll inspire you to rethink the potential benefits of lending a helping hand.

3) Measure and report.

Not long ago, I swore I saw a notable actor from the TV show “Lost” on my flight.

I excitedly texted my friend to tell him, to which he replied, “Send pictures, or it didn’t happen.”

That request got me thinking about our innate desire to “see it to believe it.” If my own friend wouldn’t believe my claims without photo evidence, why would my boss simply take my word for it when it comes time to talk about my performance?

The simple truth: Most bosses are busy, leaving little time for them to investigate whether or not you’re accomplishing what you’re supposed to be accomplishing. If you’re not vocal (and visual) about your performance, you run the risk of going unnoticed. That’s why supervisors love to see employees who not only measure their efforts but also report on them. Clear, specific, goal-oriented reports serve as one of the most effective ways to communicate your progress and prove to your boss that you’re capable of taking on more.

In terms of what to include in these reports, focus on ROI. While vanity metrics like social media views might be worth noting for yourself, your boss wants to see how your efforts are specifically influencing the bottom line.

“Don’t just report on what you crossed off your to-do list, report on what those activities achieved. So often, young staff want to prove that they’re working,” explains HubSpot’s VP of Marketing, Meghan Keaney Anderson. “We know you’re working. We see it and are proud of you for it. Prove not that you’re working, but that what you are doing is working.”

4) Be proactive, not reactive.

“My kids will have chocolate dripping from their mouths, and I’ll say, ‘Did you just eat chocolate?'” Peter Bregman, author of Four Seconds, once recounted for HBR’s IdeaCast. “And they’ll be like, ‘No, I didn’t just eat chocolate.'”

What in the world does that have to do with impressing your boss? Well, it’s a silly, yet accurate example of how you sound when you’re being reactive — and maybe even a little defensive — rather than proactive. Not a situation you’d want to be caught in with your boss, right?

From a psychological perspective, we react to avoid punishment. It’s a direct result of the stimulation that our amygdala — a subcortical brain structure that is linked to both fear responses and pleasure — experiences when we’re caught off-guard. And while it’s unrealistic to assume that you’ll never be faced with a quick decision in front of your boss, proactive employees aim to control situations by causing things to happen, rather than waiting to respond after things happen.

What does that look like, though? Well, aside from taking steps to plan ahead and anticipate “what-ifs,” Bregman encourages people to pause for four seconds before responding to something. That way, you’re allowing yourself a moment to process the situation you’ve been faced with, which can help you strategically and intentionally choose the words that you’re going to say — instead of instinctively saying something that you don’t mean.

5) Make more with less.

Part of being a noteworthy employee is being able to adapt to the industry and company changes that, eventually, will come your way. Let’s say, for example, that your company runs into an unplanned expense, or an important member of the team unexpectedly gives her two weeks notice. That could certainly throw a wrench in your budget and bandwidth, couldn’t it?

Some employees might see these events as a huge setback — one that serves as an excuse for falling short on goals. But the most successful people find a way to do more with less — and the really successful people find a way to do better with less.

Take that hypothetical budgeting issue. If it forces you to reduce or reallocate funds for freelancers, don’t use it as an excuse to allow content production to come to a halt. Instead, consider what you can do to turn the situation around. Maybe you work toward creating one strong piece of content on your own, like an ebook, that can be repurposed as separate blog articles to fill your editorial calendar until the budget gets back to a healthy level. Or, what about reaching out to a co-marketing partner to join forces on a piece of content that benefits you both?

Another great way to demonstrate your ability to do more with less would be to scale back the average time of your meetings. According to the book Time Talent Energy: Overcome Organizational Drag & Unleash Your Team’s Productive Power, “the average organization spends 15% of its collective time in meetings.” That plays into the belief that simply working longer hours is comparable to doing more with less when really, it’s all about making better use of your time. Cutting your meeting time in half will force you to get to the point quicker — and leave you with extra time to allocate toward other projects and tasks.

Remember: Excuses don’t promote career advancement. Solutions do.

6) Welcome feedback.

I have a confession to make. I hate it when I don’t have the answer for something. I want to think I know everything — so when I’m faced with the reality that I don’t, admitting so is a bitter pill to swallow. But being able to do so is a big part of getting ahead.

That’s one reason why it can be so helpful to welcome third-party feedback when we need to know what we’re missing — like when you’ve worked on a long-term project, and you start to see any progress through rose-colored glasses. At that stage, it’s most helpful to invite an outsider in to poke holes in your approach. What’s working? What’s missing? What is needed to take this project from good to great?

According to Gallup, the most engaged employees are the ones who meet with their managers at least once a week — which suggests that both positive and negative feedback, as well as overall effective communication, plays an instrumental role in the way we perceive goals. Asking for that kind of time with your manager is a reasonable request, if you make it count. Make sure that you’re prepared to handle whatever feedback comes your way. While positive feedback is often pretty easy to accept, negative feedback can come as a challenge for many but is often the most valuable.

To ensure that you make the most out of constructive criticism, take note of the following tips:

  • Listen. Sure, it’s easy to tune someone out when you’re not particularly thrilled with what they are saying, but that doesn’t make it right. Give the person the respect she deserves by listening to what she has to say, before you interject.
  • Ask clarifying questions. If you don’t understand the point someone is trying to make, don’t hesitate to ask him to elaborate. Following up with questions will help to ensure that you both walk away on the same page.
  • Consider the source. All feedback is not created equal. While getting some honest feedback from a co-worker who knows little about your project may help you to identify weak spots, it’s important that you focus on the feedback coming from those to whom you report. In other words, give attention and energy where they’re due most.

7) Smile.

We hate to sound like a bunch of “Pollyannas,” but trust us: No supervisor wants to walk into an office and see a team of people that look like they are suffering through a dental appointment. Not only is it detrimental to company morale, but it also sends a signal that there’s something wrong with his management. If there is, that’s an important conversation to have — but not by going around looking like someone just asked you to spend the day watching paint dry.

At work (and at home), it’s important to try to focus on the positive, no matter what’s on your plate. According to a 2010 study from the National Bureau of Economic Research, it pays to be positive — literally. Not only did it find that optimistically inclined MBA students have an easier time finding jobs compared to their peers, but also, they saw a 5-10% increase in the probability of being promoted over their pessimistic peers.

Note to Self: Keep On and Smile On

Research like the study cited above taps into the idea that success can correlate with an ability to stay positive, even when completing overwhelming tasks.

And really, those findings align with many of the behaviors we’ve covered here. Even when something happens at work to upset us, proactively addressing it is more likely to be productive than reactively sulking and wallowing in it.

It may sound cliche, but beneath most of these tips is the foundation of a good attitude. So the next time something at the office bums you out — or you’re searching for the best way to progress in your career — revisit this list to see what you can actively do about it.

What are your best tips on how to get promoted? Let us know in the comments.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in April 2015 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

take our five-year career plan quiz

Source: How to Get Promoted: Impress Your Boss by Doing These 7 Things
blog.hubspot.com/marketing