In Defense of the Feedback Sandwich

fat burgerThe Feedback Sandwich — opening with some positive comments, then your main feedback message, followed by some final positive comments — is a time-tested way of delivering constructive criticism. Some critics think it waters down the message or coddles the recipient unnecessarily. Todd Cherches, however, thinks it’s the best way there is to make the delivery of feedback more palatable. 

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Immediately Enhance Your Productivity with these 5 Skills

Vintage Karate Photo

Todd Cherches, CEO of consulting firm BigBlueGumball and long-time Hired Guns blogger shares his 5 best tips to enhance your productivity. Results pictured at left not typical.
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Product Development is Risky Business

tightrope

Every product build is filled with risks. Some are large, some are small–but all are very real. How you manage that risk can mean the difference between a minor hiccup and a major setback.
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Listen Up! 8 Tips for Becoming a Better Manager

Be a Better ListenerQuick! Who’s the best manager you’ve ever worked for? Picture him or her in your mind. Now think: what made you pick this person?

So who was the worst manager you’ve ever had? Do the same thing: visualize working for this person while thinking about what made them so horrible.

I can’t guarantee it, but if I had to guess, one of the key differences between these two was that the good manager actually listened to you, while the bad one didn’t.

Am I right?

When the good manager listened to you, how did it make you feel? Valued? Validated? Respected? Trusted? Confident? Engaged? Empowered?

How did the bad manager make you feel most of the time? Probably the exact opposite. So if you’re a manager — or even if you’re not — look at yourself in the mirror and ask: Am I a good listener? More importantly, if you asked other people that question, what would they say? If you’re interested in becoming a better manager, it’s time to refresh your approach to listening.    Read More →

Our Top Horrible Boss Story, Plus More Stories from Our Readers

Woman attacked by gorillaYou guys have some awful bosses. Seriously.

We got tons of stories, ranging from amusing to worrisome to alarmingly criminal. We laughed (schadenfreude is a great afternoon pick-me-up). We cried. We thought about alerting the authorities. But without further ado, the winning horrible boss story comes from reader Pasko1. Here’s a snippet:

How about my boss of 8-1/2 years? It wasn’t that he was a paranoid maniac who used to watch the dozens of security cameras remotely at his house — closed-circuit video of our office where no cash was stored and which had nothing more than beat up, second-hand furniture, off-brand computers, and about 100 of his disgusting deer heads and other things that he shot while on international hunting trips paid through the company checking account as, you guessed it, “business conferences.” … What really got to me was when he made me spend an entire day monitoring his wife’s phone usage on the Verizon Wireless website while he was going through his divorce. I then had to investigate each phone number that called her or that she called. I then had to do an ANALYSIS of each number, total minutes, total calls, and CHART THE BUSY PERIODS DURING THE DAY.    Read More →

To Be A Better Manager, Keep Your Hands-On Skills Sharp

Keep your hands-on skill sharpBy Daniel Flax

It starts when you land your first management position. Suddenly, you’re splitting your time between telling other people what to do and actually doing stuff yourself. And as you climb further up the chain, the balance shifts and you spend more and more time managing people, projects, budgets, and bosses. Then, one day, you realize that the unthinkable has happened: you’ve been so busy managing a team that you’ve let your hands-on skills deteriorate.

As you advance in your career, you will frequently hear that it’s not your hands-on skills, but rather your ability to lead your team to success that matters. I would never suggest that leadership ability is not critical to your advancement. It certainly is. But I would also suggest a supplement: pick a skill and keep it sharp. Keep it razor sharp. Having a relevant, current, hands-on skill is one of the best things you can do as you advance your career.    Read More →

4 Ways to Bridge the Creative – Account Divide

"How hard can it be to write copy?"Creative people are the heart and soul of every good agency. They create art in service to commerce. The rest of us just sell it. That doesn’t, of course, mean that savvy account and strategy people can’t make significant — or even crucial — contributions to the creative process. We certainly can. We just have to do it right.

Ideally, account and planning types support the creative team by finding relevant insights, mining customer data, understanding the customer’s journey from awareness to purchase, and by projecting client business goals and communications sensibilities. Ideally, the support team packages all this up as a springboard for the creative, who then internalize the brief and make the magic.

Real life, however, is messier. The dynamic between your accounts and creative teams might be genial. It might also be tense or even hostile. It all depends on how you manage it. A long career in ad land has taught me a lot about bridging that gap and helping your creatives deliver great work, time after time. Here are four strategies I always come back to.    Read More →

3 Convenient Illusions: The Frustrating State of Agency Innovation

Don Draper and Roger SterlingFor those of us in Adland, Mad Men is a persistent reminder that not much has changed in our business over the past sixty years (with the exception of all the illegal and non-PC stuff, of course). Believe it or not, agencies are still run pretty much the way they are depicted on TV. Evidently, the great management and technology revolutions sidestepped Madison Avenue.    Read More →

Tony Schwartz: Want Productive Employees? Treat Them Like Adults

Tony SchwartzThis article originally appeared on HBR.org and The Energy Project. It is reprinted here with the kind permission of the author.

For more than a decade now, I’ve struggled to define what fuels the most sustainably productive work environment — not just on behalf of the large corporate clients we serve, but also for my own employees at The Energy Project. Perhaps nothing I’ve uncovered is as important as trust.

Much as employers understandably hunger for one-size-fits-all policies and practices, what motivates human beings remains stubbornly complex, opaque, and difficult to unravel. Perhaps that’s why I felt so viscerally the shortsightedness and futility of Marissa Mayer’s decision to order Yahoo employees who had been working from home to move back to the office, and Hubert Joly’s to do the same at Best Buy.    Read More →

13 For ‘13: Thirteen Books That Can Change Your Life in 2013 (If You Actually Read Them)

Every year it’s the same thing. We start out the New Year filled with good intentions, high hopes, and a formidable list of life-changing resolutions. And for an indomitable few, those resolutions result in positive changes and personal growth. But for the rest of us, life tends to get in the way.

Before we know it, January is over and February flies by (it’s such a short month!). Then the spring holidays come along. Then it’s summer, and… well, you know the rest. That pledge to “start tomorrow” just leads to the eventual realization that today is yesterday’s tomorrow. So, what can we do about it?

We can start today. For real. Right now.

What we need to do is go from “resolutions” to “real solutions.” And one real-life solution that really works, is easy to do, and can kick-start us into action, is to start reading. And my recommendation is to start your New Year’s reading with any one of the 13 inspirational and motivational books on this list.    Read More →

Product Management, User Experience, Information Architecture, Interaction Design, Usability Testing

Project Management, Program Management, Production, Content Production

Animation, Art Direction, Creative Direction, Corporate Identity, Flash Design/Dev, Graphic Design, Web Design

Content Strategy, Editorial, Copywriting, Copy Editing, Research, Blog Outreach

Brand Management, Business Development, Sales, Product Marketing, Event/Conference Planning, Promotions, Marcomms, Corporate Comms, Direct Marketing, E-Marketing, Public Relations, Market Research

Account Management, Account/Brand Planning, Media Strategy, Communications Planning, Media Planning/Buying, Social Media, Search (SEM, SEO), Web Metrics & Analytics

Web Development, Front End Development

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