The American psychiatrist and author, M. Scott Peck once said, “You cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” The quote holds today. With the headsets and headphones becoming commonplace at work, it may seem like we can listen to someone while working on something else at the same time. But in reality, many of our modern habits, such as multitasking, can severely hamper our focus and attention.
In this article, we’ll explore the role and importance of active listening within the workplace.
Types of Listening
The two main types of listening techniques are passive and active:
Passive Listening – A passive listener is someone that hears the words of a speaker but does not comprehend, interpret, or analyze as the message is delivered. They are not fully present and do not fully understand the contents of the speaker’s language.
Active Listening – An active listener is someone who listens to each word uttered by a speaker. They understand the meaning, intent, and nonverbal cues of the speaker.
The Dos and Don’ts of Active Listening
- Remove distractions. Concentration is the differentiating factor between active and passive listening. By removing common distractions like televisions, music players, and social media, you can pay close attention to what your colleague is saying.
- Ask questions. By engaging with questions, you’ll better understand the main points and intentions behind a person’s words. The benefit of this practice is two-fold: first, it demonstrates a genuine interest in the subject, and second, it helps you fill any gaps in understanding.
- Remove emotions and bias. Enter any conversation with an open mind. When you show up without bias, you’ll be able to grasp or remember the details that are outside of your usual mode of thinking.
- Give nonverbal cues. You don’t have to say anything to communicate your thoughts. Being mindful of your body language and facial expressions can have a high impact on the conversations you have at work.
- Wait until the speaker is done. As the author of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey, once said, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Avoid offering a premature answer or opinion as it will convey that you have not been fully listening.
- Interrupt. Always let the other person finish their train of thought. Nothing is as disrespectful as cutting in before someone is finished speaking. If you interject, be sure to apologize.
- Write down everything. For more extended conversations, it may be helpful to keep notes of the key points and facts. Of course, you must be careful using this approach— you want to ask the speaker’s permission and also ensure you’re not just writing things down for the sake of it.
- Multitask. The more you do at once, the less you can concentrate on each task. Focus on one thing. If it’s listening to someone else, make sure you give your full, undivided attention. Then you can truly hear what your coworker is saying.
Benefits of Active Listening
Focusing on one task at a time will always improve your work productivity. The same is true with listening to someone. A client may have a lengthy ask, including numerous deliverables and deadlines. Active listening ensures that you capture the key points, which can save you time when you have action items to carry out.
Positive Work Atmosphere
Which environment would you prefer to work in: one in which your leaders and coworkers listen to you, or one in which you feel ignored? Work becomes less stressful and isolating in cultures that encourage empathy and listening to one another. A community that promotes active listening is bound to create a more positive and collaborative atmosphere.
Active listening isn’t just about the other person; it’s an act that empowers you to improve your sense of self as well. Listening is a humbling experience that requires setting aside problems and concerns for that of another person’s. By connecting with another person through active listening, you can better explore shared experiences and struggles.
Any relationship, whether platonic or romantic, benefits from clear and unburdened communication. In a 2003 study conducted by Faye Doell, couples that listen to understand (as opposed to looking to respond) end up having more pleasant and satisfying relationships overall. When people are free to express their thoughts, people come to solutions faster and in more creative ways. It also forms a more inviting work experience— when the people around you can be honest without feeling judged.
Almost every argument or conflict stems from misunderstanding one’s point of view. Almost every misunderstanding comes from missing someone’s main points or misinterpreting their words. Creating time and space for focused communication can help to avoid the friction that sometimes arises in the workplace.
Examples of Active Listening
There are a few ways in which one can practice actively listening to someone else. The first involves asking questions. When people are genuinely curious about someone’s story, they tend to ask about the setting, how another person felt during the event, or other essential details to the story. At work, asking questions about an assignment or project shows you care and want to produce quality results.
On a similar note, there may be moments when you want to repeat or paraphrase the main problem back to the speaker. When timed correctly, this can signify that you are following along their narrative. It also serves a secondary purpose of helping you give form and structure to your understanding.
Active listening is not solely about listening, but about seeing the other person too. How many times have you tried to talk to someone, only for them to be more captivated by their phone’s screen or television? Authentic listening requires making eye contact, as well.
Finally, when the other person is finished speaking, you may want to follow up in some way. In some situations, offering support, whether emotional or physical, can make a world of difference and goes beyond the simple act of listening.
The next time you’re around your coworkers or client, try using one of the methods listed above to engage in more thoughtful, active listening. You may not notice instant results, but over time, you’ll start to see a maturation in your relationships and yourself. We are social creatures, after all, and the first step to any social interaction is to listen.
A strategy is a roadmap that guides your business towards a vision. It defines every person’s role, their behavior, and the purpose of a company’s activities. Strategy meetings also ensure that there is a clear goal, process, and criteria in place for success.
As with any meeting, there are several challenges of which to be cognizant. In this article, we’ll cover a few ways your team can conduct successful strategy meetings.
What is a Strategy Meeting?
What is the purpose of a strategy meeting, anyway? The answer may depend on the nature of the work. But there are three common threads in every strategy meeting:
- Goal – The purpose or reason for developing a strategy. This could be reaching more customers or exploring new markets.
- Vision – The destination or desired state. For example, if the goal is to explore new markets, the vision may be to launch a completely new product line.
- Tactics – The specific steps or tasks needed to achieve the vision.
Strategy meetings also help everyone stay focused on longer projects and initiatives. In some cases, one or two strategy meetings are all you need to set expectations and develop a plan of action. Other times, you may need several strategy meetings over a few years.
Now you may wonder, what goes into a successful strategy meeting or discussion? Here are a few tips.
Create an agenda
Meetings can quickly veer off-topic. Set an agenda before the discussion to ensure everyone stays focused. Ever heard of the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS)? This is a model that empowers entrepreneurs to grow their business. Note that “rocks” in EOS refer to the most important quarterly goals. The proposed quarterly meeting agenda used in their system offers seven components:
- Segue – Each meeting starts with a recap of the best news from the last 90 days. This should include what’s working, what’s not working, and expectations for the meeting. This helps prepare each person for the real discussion.
- Previous quarter review – Review the previous quarter’s financials and rocks. If less than 80% of the rocks were completed, your team must discuss the reasons. Otherwise, rocks carry on to the next quarter.
- Review the Vision/Traction Organizer (V/TO) – EOS condenses complex strategic visions into two pages. You can find a template for it here. A quick review assures that everyone has the same vision and priorities in mind.
- Establish the next quarter’s rocks – What should be the priorities for the company in the next 90 days? Brainstorm a major list, and then cut it down to around three or seven rocks.
- Tackle key issues – For any unresolved issues, use the IDS system: identify, discuss, and solve. It’s a simple way to frame issue resolution. If there are still outstanding issues, add it to the next strategy meeting.
- Next steps – By the end of a meeting, everyone should know the follow-up tasks that they are responsible for. Use this part of the meeting to communicate important messages and tasks to the team.
- Conclude – End the meeting by asking each participant on their feedback for the meeting. That includes whether it met their expectations, as well as a 1-10 rating on the efficacy of the meeting.
This template has worked for many businesses that use the EOS model. But you may also want to experiment and work on your own variation. For example, determine the time that will be delegated to each point of discussion. This will keep the conversation from running too long. Breaks are also encouraged. Otherwise, people are bound to get distracted and drift off.
Define the purpose of the meeting
A meeting without a purpose is like running a race with no clear finish line. Each meeting should have clear and concise goals. This serves as a signal to the team that their time is valuable and being put to good use. It also narrows the scope of the discussion to a few topics. Anything that is not relevant can be set for another day.
As suggested by the EOS agenda, review priorities that were set in the previous quarter. This will help the company determine the company’s current priorities. Then, compare it with the current state of the company. Were any of the initiatives completed? Were issues solved? If they were, then it may be time to set new goals. If not, it may be wise to return to those issues.
Another great way to determine the purpose is to conduct a review of the current state of the company. What are the company’s strengths and weaknesses? Are there any opportunities or threats formed by the current landscape? Answers to these questions will identify the team’s most important priorities.
During the strategy meeting
Up to this point, we have discussed how to prepare for the meeting. But there are also initiatives to take in meetings that will guarantee productive outcomes.
First, take notes, or assign someone to do so. With so many topics to discuss, it’s impossible to recall all the important points from memory. Meeting notes will structure the winding narratives that often emerge from long discussions. A shared document of notes allows everyone to understand the main points in each meeting. Meister offers some fantastic tips for effective note-taking
. Follow the agenda. Everyone has been in that frustrating meeting that runs in circles. Usually, this inefficiency is due to a lack of focus. Agendas keep conversations laser-focused. Learn
how to reduce distractions in a coworking or similar environment. Be sure to read our previous post
Finally, you need a system to address issues. In the EOS model, issues are not only “problems”. They can also include ideas, obstacles, or opportunities. Anything worthy of discussion can be considered an issue. Use the Issues Solving Track™. This provides a handy framework for identifying, discussing and solving issues. To learn more, check out EOS’s process guide.
Finally, your actions post-meeting can make an impact on its’ result. It’s easy to forget about a meeting as soon as you walk out. Send follow-ups to your clients immediately. It will make all the difference.
Also, delegate tasks and responsibilities to each person. This might be calling a client or tracking progress on a project. Don’t forget to create sets of criteria for satisfaction. These are a set of rules or conditions that need to be met for the assignment to be marked complete. It’s also a good idea to assign a due date or deadline to hold them accountable.
When appropriate, ask for feedback from your team from the meeting. Their input can go a long way in improving the strategy meeting process. This can lead to a more pleasing experience and more engaged employees.
An hour-long conversation about financials and business tactics may not be exciting. But strategic meetings are vital to the success and longevity of a team. So make the most of it. It falls upon the leaders and managers to create the right atmosphere. One that breeds creativity, invites opposing views and inspires hard work.
Startups and entrepreneurs need an environment conducive to everyday business development. Cafés may offer free wifi but lack the supplies and other technology that a business may need. Working from a home office has its’ perks but you’re bound to get sidetracked by family, pets, and chores. For many, coworking spaces offer a great alternative to a traditional office.
Some will find the open collaborative design of coworking spaces to be distractive. So this is for you. Follow these tips so that you can boost concentration in any space.
Minimize or remove distractions
Even private offices can be full of distractions. Some of these you don’t have control over, such as people walking by your window. But in other cases, all you need to do is a simple cleanup.
Start with your desk. It’s common for people to display photos of their loved ones. But having too many pictures (or ornaments in general) can allow your mind to wander. Keep your workstation tidy. Put away any supplies or decorations that don’t contribute to your productivity. And yes, that may include putting your phone away or on silent!
For certain occasions, it may be more prudent to move to a quieter room. Book a conference room for meetings or planning sessions. Or take a call in a soundproof phone booth. Moving spaces, even temporarily, has a major impact on your mindset and productivity.
If you’re planning on using the coworking space for a prolonged period, consider registering for a dedicated desk. This will ensure you have a workstation reserved exclusively for your use.
Ironically, the more you try to do, the less you get done. It’s easy to think that having a dozen tabs open makes you more efficient. But how many tasks can you focus on at a given time?
Create a to-do list, then schedule your projects on a calendar. The second part is the key. Many of us have a list of things we need to get done. But scheduling the tasks on a calendar ensures you only work on one thing at a time. This helps you avoid multitasking or accepting different meetings. You can focus on that important project.
While task management apps are aplenty, nothing beats a simple pen and paper system. Read our previous guide on using a bullet journal to keep track of your projects and daily assignments.
Work around a distracting environment
You can’t always control your environment, especially at work. Your coworkers may be running through a presentation next to you. Or they might be having a casual conversation. Whatever it may be, you need to roll with the punches and continue your tasks, instead of moving or causing a scene.
That’s when listening to music or a podcast can be helpful. Try buying a pair of noise-canceling headphones. These are equipped with a special mic that “flips” the frequency of ambient sound. They’ll help neutralize any background noise.
If you don’t have any noise-canceling headphones, listen to instrumental music. Try classical, jazz, or electronic. Music with words can be distracting if you’re writing or watching a video. Instrumental music will drown out the distractions without diverting your focus.
Letting others know that you need privacy or silence at certain times can go a long way. Take a short walk through a Novel Coworking hallway, and you’ll see some “Do Not Disturb”, “Please Be Respectful Of Our Guests” or similar signs. But maintaining that quiet may be difficult to achieve in a coworking space.
It’s important to also create social boundaries when necessary. Learn to say “no” to friends, family, or other coworkers when you need to focus. Of course, that can be easier said than done. But when you start saying “no” and become more selective with how you spend your time, you’ll get a lot more done in the end.
Finally, create boundaries for yourself at work. Even if you get to set your working hours, be firm about when you start and when you end. Additionally, set email and phone hours on your website. That way, people don’t bother you when you are trying to concentrate or relax.
Take breaks from work
Believe it or not, one of the best ways to focus on your work is to step away from time to time. So much of our work is completed on laptops or computers, it can be easy to neglect posture or suffer from lack of physical activity from sitting all day. Even a few minutes away from a screen is enough to refresh your mind.
Exercise for an hour before work. Or if you’re short on time, take a quick walk around the building. You may even want to run a personal errand, like sending mail or buying office supplies. Any burst of activity to break up your day will help your mind feel less drained when it’s time to go home.
Having trouble managing your time between work and break? Check out the Pomodoro Technique. This method breaks down your work into 25-minute intervals, broken up by break periods. It’s a simple, but effective way of increasing your attention while making sure you get moments of rest.
Be a good neighbor
Finally, remember the golden rule: treat others as you wish to be treated. If you want people to be respectful while you work, do the same when you’re around others trying to concentrate. Speak quietly when others are having important calls or conversations. And limit your phone calls to avoid disturbing those nearby.
Also, remember basic cleanliness and personal hygiene. Coworking spaces are shared. Even if you don’t share a desk or office, leaving clutter around may affect other people as well. Be mindful of your space, keep your area clean, and remember to tidy dinnerware and loose supplies.
Coworking spaces have all the elements to turn you into a productive worker. But you need to put the work and practice in. Don’t expect to magically finish work. When you come into work with the right mindset, attitude, and work etiquette, you’ll start to see your performance improve.
Growth hacking is only possible when people are empowered with the best tools. Yes, the spirit of growth hacking is rooted in “doing more with less”. But it would be impossible to iterate without the help of some useful online resources.
There are various tools at your disposal to execute growth hacking. The ones that you select will ultimately depend on your marketing objective. Use this guide to understand what the best fits are based on your company’s needs.
The AARRR Funnel
Ten years ago, Dave McClure created the concept of the AARRR Funnel or Framework. Also known as “Pirate Metrics” (Aarrr…). Today, it is one of the most popular concepts among growth hackers. So what is the AARRR? It is the five pillars of growth, including Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral, and Revenue.
Acquisition – Where do our users come from?
Activation – How good is the user’s first interaction or experience?
Retention – How many customers are you retaining?
Referral – How can you get customers to attract more customers?
Revenue – How can you increase your revenue?
Each of these steps describes a point in the buyer’s journey. As well, these are the company’s most important metrics. With this framework in mind, what tools can help us in each category?
Best Growth Hacking Tools for Customer Acquisition
Getting people to find you is only part of the problem, the other part is turning them into customers. Look below for some tools that can aid through this process from start to finish.
You may already be familiar with MailChimp, the world’s largest email automation tool. Offered are features like landing page and ad optimization. But their real bread and butter is email marketing. Members enjoy free subscriptions, with up to 2,000 subscribers or 12,000 emails a month.
It is important to understand that an email marketing strategy will yield two benefits. One, it is crucial to building a database of loyal customers. Two, it is a method of communicating or reminding your customers of the brand’s news and offerings.
Want to learn more about the industry standard for email open rates and click rates? Be sure to read Mailchimp’s article here.
Startups will find that there are several applications of webinars (web-based seminars). They can help to onboard new hires with consistent information. They can also be used to educate customers about products. But webinars can also be quite the hassle. Clunky interfaces and unreliable connections can severely hamper their efficacy.
Fortunately, GoToWebinar solves this issue and then some. Managers can schedule and organize a webinar, hassle-free. It is also a tool to automate follow-ups, conduct polls and analyze data. It’s no wonder that LogMeIn (owner of GoToWebinar) has been named leader in Gartner’s 2019 Magic Quadrant for Meeting Solutions numerous times.
For another popular email tool, look into Constant Contact. The company has been in the industry for over 20 years. And they’ve perfected their process, making it easy and enjoyable to craft beautiful emails. Choose from over 100 templates and track in real-time. Users can sign up for a free trial, or subscribe for $20 a month.
If you’ve used Facebook, you’ve seen the ads. Facebook Ads have raised awareness for many brands and causes. And luckily, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out how to use them. The platform is easy to understand and navigate once you have planned your strategy well. You need to know what you’re advertising, what your budget is, and who your target market is. You’ll also want to create a copy of the imagery you’ll be using. From there, Facebook handles all the heavy lifting.
Tips for optimizing customer acquisition
- Become a source of information – Customers are more likely to purchase when they trust the brand they’re buying from.
- Use email or social media – They continue to be effective and affordable channels of outreach even today.
- Experiment with different landing pages – A/B test your webpages. Which copy, design, or offers lead to more sign-ups or purchases?
Best Growth Hacking Tools for Customer Activation
Once your customer knows about your brand and offering, the next challenge is getting them to convert. These tools can help convince customers into signing up or purchasing.
Forms and surveys are a good way to gather data about your customers. With Typeform, you can set up quizzes, feedback surveys and even shopping sites to collect forms. Further, they’re designed beautifully and engaging. Typeform will deliver higher completion rates. Learn more about your audience and use the insights to improve your services. What’s even better, it’s easy to use, customizable, and anyone can use it.
Google Analytics provides basic insight into user tracking. For a more powerful tool, check out KISSmetrics. The platform reveals where your customers come from and what their buyer journey is. It will also analyze the value of each campaign and channel. Most recently, KISSmetrics added engagement metrics like cohort analysis. This can help you determine the efficacy of website improvements or remarketing efforts.
A call-to-action or message featured at the top of a webpage is starting to become a design standard. This drives conversion. Websites may ask you to sign up for a newsletter or follow them on social media. Hello Bar makes it easy to set these messages up and tailor them to your specific audience. The brand ranked as one of FinancesOnline top 50 landing page software products. It was also named one of the top 100 conversion rate optimization software products.
Crowdsignal (formerly Polldaddy) helps you create beautiful survey designs. Surveys are a quick way to gather and analyze data. Use the simple drag-and-drop tools, and enjoy the customization and platform integration ability. Crowdsignal makes survey creation a breeze. The platform is a development by Automattic, the company that created WordPress, WooCommerce, and Tumbler. You can be sure to expect plenty of support.
Tips to optimize customer activation
- Create an incentive – Whether it’s a download, a limited time offer, or some other value, entice your customers.
- Place a limit – When you include words like “now” or “limited”, customers are more compelled to convert.
- Simplify the process – The fewer steps involved to sign up, the less excuse they have not to.
Best Growth Hacking Tools for Customer Retention
Once you acquire a customer, how do you keep them around? Focus on customer retention— ensuring your customers continue to seek value from your company. Here are a few tools to help with that goal.
Nimble provides a powerful CRM tool centered around managing and organizing your contacts. You can task yourself to follow up with customers and track their activity. Or manage the entire sales process without leaving Office 365 or Gmail. Never again will you have to keep track of a dozen spreadsheets or countless third-party apps. Nimble does it all in one platform. The platform has become so popular that it’s received praise from Mark Cuban.
Here is yet another CRM tool, but only tailored for e-commerce brands. Drip allows you to both segment & analyze customers, as well as their customer journeys. You can use this to personalize your marketing outreach. Then, use their visual workflows to better understand consumer behavior. Drip has made it easier than ever to understand their movement online.
The analytics provided by social media platforms doesn’t always paint the full picture. That’s when you need a social media marketing suite like Mention. Two of their best features are worth mentioning. One, a social media listening tool that tracks online opinion about a certain product. Two, a content publishing tool that lets you plan and schedule your messages. A future update brings forth a third tool that can increase interaction and presence with your audience. Between the first two tools, this platform is already worth it.
It may be worth investing in an automation tool if there’s a process you continue to use. While Klaviyo‘s services may seem similar to competitor’s, it also offers automated communication with customers. If a customer abandons their cart, an email reminder can be sent to them. Klaviyo empowers your brand to delight customers through the customer journey. To date, Klaviyo services over 20,000 brands.
Tips to optimize customer retention
- Send frequent reminders – Whether they’re purchasing a product or signing up for a service, send an offer or news update to keep them in the loop.
- Reward customer loyalty – Reward points and exclusive deals can show customers that you value their business.
- Offer strong customer support – Listen to the harshest, most critical reviews, and find ways to flip the situation around. Those critics may just turn into advocates.
Best Growth Hacking Tools for Customer Referral
Why spend time and money on marketing, when your customers can do it for you? These tools are designed to encourage more customer referrals to your brand.
TapMango does customer loyalty right. Their sleek design and gamification make users want to engage with the brands they love. Via tablet, mobile app or email. You can offer your customers mobile check-in payments and reward points. Or use their SMS service to send reminders and notifications. On top of it all, you can also use their geomarketing tools and robust analytics. You’ll soon have created a brand ecosystem.
Social media marketing doesn’t have to be a one-man job. Instead, it can be a collaborative experience. That’s the goal of Buffer, one of the most effective social media tools. Draft posts, schedule each message by account, and work seamlessly with large teams. You can even reply to your audience directly from the platform. Over 75,000 businesses are using Buffer for their social media strategy today. And it’s not hard to see why.
If your business has the habit of working with more than one tool, Zapier will make your life a whole lot easier. Instead of doing a long and arduous process over and over, why not have your apps “talk” to each other? A Facebook Messenger inquiry could trigger an automatic email through MailChimp. Or perhaps you would like to remind your Slack team whenever a user signs a document with DocuSign. By supporting over 1,500 applications, Zapier saves each user more than 40 hours on average per month.
Content is everywhere. And sifting through noise to find quality posts can take forever. Fortunately, BuzzSumo helps ease this pain. Use BuzzSumo to identify top performing pages, performance on social media, and competition. This is a must have for those who need to develop their content strategy. Get your users to share and engage more with your content.
Tips for Optimizing Customer Referral
- Create shareable content – Articles or videos that are interesting or funny tend to circulate more than dry content.
- Reward users for referrals – A discount, added space, or some similar benefit is enough to incentivize referrals.
- Create a brand worth referring – Nobody is going to want to refer an unprofessional brand. Your website and social media presence should appear top notch.
Best Growth Hacking Tools for Revenue
At the end of the day, your efforts should lead to greater revenue. Growth hacking is as much about generating revenue as it is about building audiences. So here are a few tools to ensure your brand can increase revenue and continue operating the business.
Using AI to improve your content may sound like science fiction. But it’s a reality for many businesses today. MarketMuse analyzes your content to determine which are performing best or need improvement. The tool can help you find opportunities in your content workflow, better guiding managers or writers. Read their case study on Tomorrow Sleep and how they grew traffic by 10,000%.
For organizations serious about data analytics and business intelligence, research Tableau. This is a tool that can break down vast amounts of data and set them into beautiful visuals. The analyses will provide crucial business insights. But this one is more technical. Read some of the customer stories from Verizon, Cigna, Pfizer, Charles Schwab, Chipotle and more.
Keap’s true genius lies in its ability to organize vast amounts of data in one place. Centralize contact information, shared files, payment history, conversations and much more. It can even keep up to date with your Gmail or Outlook inbox. Keap is ideal for mall businesses that want to streamline their sales process through automated emails.
Amplitude presents analytics in a simple but useful format. Understand your customer behavior through real-time stats. Optimize conversions in key funnels and discover how your customer converts. The interface (reminiscent of Slack or Asana) allows you to organize spaces by team, and dashboards by KPI. Some of Amplitude’s biggest clients include PayPAl, Cisco, OkCupid, and Samsung.
Tips to optimize revenue hacking
- Study your data – Understand how your customers convert and their behavior patterns. This will help inform your strategy moving forward.
- Work with what you have – Don’t break the bank by working on new initiatives or projects. Start by taking stock of your existing properties and how you can leverage them for greater revenue.
Best Growth Hacking Tools to Measure Success
While not a part of the AARRR model, we thought it would be useful to include tools to help you gauge your progress and effort. Here are the best growth hacking tools to determine whether you’re on your way to success.
You don’t need to spend a dime to start tracking your website’s efforts. Google Analytics is the most popular web analytics tool today. More than 50 million websites use the platform for free. Track the traffic that goes in and out of your webpage. Capture information about your customer’s demographics. And review the performance of your various campaigns. If there were only one tool to iterate from this list, make sure it’s Google Analytics.
Google Search Console
Google Analytics tracks user behavior. Search Console, on the other hand, tracks search engines. Specifically, it tracks how they crawl webpages. Webmasters use search console to analyze clickthrough rates, search queries, crawl errors, and more. When using search console, you can determine how people find your website. That’s why Search Console offers suggestions for improving your overall site SEO.
The all-in-one design makes it a popular tool among marketers. SEMrush has more features than most of the tools mentioned here. With products for SEO audits, PPC, social media, content marketing, and market research, few platforms come close to SEMrush’s comprehensive solutions. SEMrush is ideal for agencies and enterprises. The most popular tier costs about $200 (although there is a version for startups and freelancers for $100). If you want to take your marketing to the next level, and only have to use one tool, then SEMrush may be all you need.
HubSpot is a brand that has earned a reputation as one of the most authoritative brands in marketing. So much so that their online courses have created industry standards. Their CRM platform offers reporting, tracking and pipeline management. But the best part: it’s 100% free. That includes forms, ad management, live chat, and many more. To access additional features like ad retargeting, HubSpot starts at $50 and can run up to $3,200.
If you’re interested in their educational material, be sure to enroll in some of their courses at the HubSpot Academy portal.
Tips to measure success
- Choose one or two KPIs – Start by narrowing your focus to one goal to track. Is it conversions? Revenue? Visitors?
- Set SMART goals – Create targets that are clear and realistic. Read our previous blog post on SMART goals here.
- Review your data frequently – Whether it’s monthly or quarterly, get into the rhythm of analyzing and understanding your data.
Growth hacking can seem like magic, but the tools you use can make all the difference on whether it works. But even with the best tools, success is not guaranteed. It’s important to develop a solid strategy first, and then use these tools to help you in your tactics. The tool is only as useful as the company’s purpose for using it.
To learn more about growth hacking strategies, read our previous post here.
The Importance of Conducting a Good Interview
The interview process is one of the most important steps in a company’s recruitment strategy. As such, it is critical for hiring managers to develop their interviewing skills to better discover top applicants for open job positions.
Good interviews allow hiring managers to verify the credibility of the candidate’s application. Companies can learn more about the applicant, including their career goals, work ethic, and personality. These qualities are significant determinants in employee engagement and the future success of the company.
Moreover, interviews can act as an advertising tool: a positive interview experience can leave a lasting impression of a brand on the applicant’s mind. They may be motivated to either continue interaction with or positively promote the brand, even if they aren’t ultimately hired.
In this post, we take a deep dive into the importance of a structured interview, as well as tips on how you can make an interview more effective.
Interview Techniques for Employers
Each HR professional has their own set of preferred interview techniques that lead to more useful and productive interviews. The following are just a few examples:
Start with a detailed job description
A clear job description is king. It is the first thing applicants are exposed to and provides better insight into the company and role. Hiring managers should focus on writing a descriptive posting that can help answer many of the candidate’s potential questions. These may include:
– What responsibilities and duties fall under the role?
– Is it a permanent, part-time, or contract-based position?
– Which skills are necessary for the role?
– What is the company culture like?
– What are the pay and benefits?
An accurate and detailed job description is an opportunity to clearly describe the expectations of a job to prevent candidates from feeling blindsided in the future. Job descriptions should aim to entice, but never mislead.
Structure the interview
Ever sat in on an interview and felt the conversation wasn’t going anywhere? Did it mostly seem like a friendly chat, rather than a job interview? Lack of direction and ineffectiveness can occur when interviews are not structured. Across the HR industry, there is a unanimous agreement that structured interviews are far superior in predicting a candidate’s success compared to a non-structured interview.
So how do you structure an interview? Start by developing interview questions that are relevant to the company and the work at hand. Consistency in the questions asked will be one of the best ways to gauge candidate fit and capability. It also makes the selection process easier, as the responses can be more closely compared with one another.
“As an HR practitioner with over 15 years of recruiting experience,” says DevelopIntelligence’s Jana Tulloch, CPHR, “using a structured interview that is scored is the best way to ensure consistency and fairness during hiring, although no system is perfect. Anytime you’re evaluating someone, even with the most objective criteria, subjective assessments can creep in. This is particularly true with known or internal candidates where there may already be preconceptions of the individual.”
Ask creative interview questions
Of course, not every job will be purely mathematical or data-driven. At times, it may be insightful to ask creative questions – the type that will test your candidate’s approach to problem solving. These questions don’t necessarily have to be related to the position, they need only to spark the imagination and thought process. Here are a few examples, courtesy of Hubspot:
– What is your definition of hard work?
– What’s the biggest decision you’ve had to make in the past year?
– In five minutes, could you explain something to me that is complicated but you know so well?
– Pitch our company to me as if I were buying our product/service.
– Tell me about a time you screwed up.
Any of these questions could elicit unique responses depending on the applicant. Be sure to give them time to think about their response. It’s also best to save these questions for the end of the interview, as they tend to be more open-ended than structured questions.
Identifying Undesirable Behaviors in the Interview
In some scenarios, you may encounter a candidate that meets all the qualifications, but has a personality or attitude that raises several red flags. Are they having a bad day, or could their actions and words be symptoms of a much larger behavioral problem? In either case, asking the right questions to identify toxic behavior and to assess cultural fit can save your company a headache later down the line. Here are a few tips to navigate difficult candidates:
Create a panel of interviewers – Who knows, perhaps you may have a slight bias for or against certain candidates. By having a second opinion (or multiple), you can better judge the words and actions of each applicant, and truly see whether others notice any odd behavior during the interview.
Listen carefully to the topics they discuss – Does a certain applicant tend to talk poorly about others? Or perhaps they speak too highly of themselves? Words can be telling, and the words your applicants choose can say a lot about their character, even if it appears to be small talk. Check out Workable’s blog post on identifying toxic employees.
Contact their references – Verify the credibility of your candidates by reaching out to their references. Ask about their experience working with the candidate. Many will have nothing but positive things to say, but if they are reluctant to pick up or are less enthusiastic in their review, you’ll want to make note of that.
Ask the right questions – Probe your applicants about their work experience, and you may uncover a deeper story. A previous work argument may be a simple misunderstanding, or it may be a sign of a vicious habit. You won’t know until you use the right questions. Spark Hire offers a few questions worth using in screening toxic employees.
Interview Checklist for Employers
– What information should you give about the company?
– Can you clearly describe the job position? What are the roles and responsibilities involved?
– Where will you post the job opening? How long will you search for a candidate, and how many applicants will you accept?
– Have you read the candidate’s resume? Do their skills and qualifications meet the requirements?
– Do you have all of your questions ready? Has the legal department approved the questions?
– Does the candidate understand the post-interview process and timeline?
How to Assess Candidates After the Interview
After all the candidate interviews are complete, recruiters must make the difficult choice of choosing the best one. The post-interview process will be just as important as the interview itself. While the interview can help introduce the candidate, it is by no means a complete evaluation of their character.
Observe their behavior outside the interview
Usually, the interview only brings out candidates’ best, most optimistic, behavior. To truly learn about the candidate, hiring managers need to pay attention to how they behave outside of the interview. Do they treat the staff with respect? Do they change their personality in a questionable way?
Watch out for their online behavior
Don’t forget about their online etiquette as well. How do candidates conduct themselves in online public circles? How do they write their emails? Prescreening through the use of social media can be a controversial topic, so you need to define a policy on how employees are expected to present themselves. Your next hire will not only work for you, but they’ll also come to represent your brand outside of the workplace. Make certain that they do not tarnish your brand’s goodwill.
Use an evaluation form
Hiring managers may be curious about how to create a format to review candidates. With so many different values and metrics, it can be confusing to know which one to focus on for employers. Instead, focus on your company’s mission and culture. Consider referencing an evaluation form, such as the Society for Human Resources Management’s Candidate Evaluation form for inspiration in generating new ideas.
Once you and the talent acquisition management team finalize a candidate, then defining clear next steps in the process becomes the next priority. Onboarding is an important experience to nail down – new hires should feel comfortable and capable in their newly assigned responsibilities. Otherwise, they may not feel motivated to stay with the company for longer.
There are several moving parts with the interview process, but it is of the utmost importance that hiring managers focus on fine-tuning the experience – from the job opening creation to the post-interview process. Over time, your company will start noticing the results in the talent it hires.
Want to learn more about acquiring the top talent, not just someone to fill the job? Check out our last blog post.
If you’re curious about managing your talent after they’re onboarded, we’ve also written a guide on that. For an even more in-depth guide, check out our big post Talent Management: How Companies Can Attract and Retain Talent.
To learn more about finding, acquiring, and onboarding new talent, visit Novel Coworking’s blog today.
Agile is most commonly associated with project management, but it can also refer to a greater business philosophy. Agile, as the name implies, is about moving quickly and minimizing risk. Put in terms of the real estate industry, agile real estate is quickly replacing traditional offices as the new norm.
But what is agile real estate and what does it mean for your business? We’ll break down what you need to know about the agile real estate movement so you can better position your business for success.
What is agile real estate?
Agile real estate is a dynamic and flexible approach to the workplace needs and business objectives of an organization. Agile real estate isn’t new, but with the rise of incubators and coworking spaces, agile real estate has taken hold as a legitimate alternative to traditional office space.
So who benefits from agile real estate? Any business can take advantage of agile, but startups, growing businesses, and solopreneurs tend to value them the most. Not only does agile real estate provide a more cost-effective solution compared to traditional office spaces, but they also offer customizable term arrangements, allowing businesses to rent out space as needed. The importance of flexible office space cannot be ignored.
The advantages of agile real estate
As office rent continues to soar, the financial benefits of agile real estate become more attractive. According to commercial real estate brokerage CBRE, the average gross asking rent in the United States rose to $34.28 per square foot. Through coworking, that cost is shared with other tenants, creating a more affordable and collaborative environment.
Creative and collaborative spaces
Agile real estate doesn’t only offer alternative pricing plans, they also offer alternative workspace designs. In the case of coworking, the shared office spaces and coworking areas create totally new working environments that foster teamwork and creativity. Workers can share their ideas with one another without cubicles or dividers getting in the way. Even kitchen and dining spaces are open, encouraging workers to meet other tenants.
Dynamic and flexible
Perhaps the most attractive feature of agile real estate is its flexibility. Some places will even offer an option between coworking, shared office spaces, or private offices and suites. Business leaders can then negotiate on their final rent based on their space requirements and length of stay. For startups and growing businesses, this can be an invaluable way to plan for the year ahead.
Strategic benefits of agile real estate
Promotes a more inclusive culture
If you take a look at any incubator or coworking space, you will quickly see something missing from corporate office buildings— a sense of community. Officevibe found that in one study, 91% of coworkers had better interactions after coworking. The removal of walls and rigid space arrangements provides a more welcoming and diverse space for everyone. This, in turn, increases the sense of solidarity and community within the team.
Empowers your freelancers and remote workers
One of the more notable shifts in the way we work involves where we work. Today, our teams consist of overseas workers, digital nomads, freelancers, and other part-time workers. The common area or coworking spaces are open for use when these workers need them, saving their business the cost of a private office that’s only seldom in use.
Distributes the cost between other tenants
We’ve brought up the cost benefits of agile real estate numerous times already, but the strategic implications cannot be emphasized enough. In corporate or traditional office spaces, amenities such as printers, coffee machines, fridges, and even reception services are paid for by each individual brand. In a coworking space or incubator, workers share the amenities, but also have the option to purchase their own printer or copy machine for their private office. Tactics like this help keep overhead costs low, allowing business leaders to focus on more pressing costs.
Industries using agile real estate
Now that you are familiar with how agile real estate works, you may be wondering about real-life examples of various industries that use agile real estate. It’s worth noting that many of the brands listed below are Novel Coworking clients.
By far, the tech industry holds the largest share of coworking memberships, making up 20% of all coworking members. Even within incubators and accelerators, tech startups continue to be the most common. Since much of their work is in the digital realm, agile real estate is a useful and affordable solution for their teams. Many of these brands have their own headquarters, but set up satellite locations in coworking spaces.
Take Mozilla for example. Mozilla is best known for their Internet browser, Firefox, the second most popular browser by market share. Firefox has a major emphasis on privacy and open source technology, distinguishing it from the likes of Google Chrome and Apple’s Safari. Mozilla holds private offices in a handful of Novel Coworking locations across the country.
Another industry that loves to use the satellite office tactic: communications. We’ve seen many PR and advertising companies that enhance their geographic reach by opening offices in major hub cities like Chicago, San Diego, Charlotte, and more. Similar to tech-based startups and services, most communication brands rely on a fast Internet connection and space for computers and printers, something that can easily be found in agile real estate locations.
KlearCut Media is a great example of a modern communications company. This digital creative company assists businesses with their branding, content, and social media. KlearCut has worked with big brands, including The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, SMU Mom’s and Dad’s Club, and Dallas Hotel Magazine. You can find KlearCut operating out of the Novel Coworking Katy Building in Dallas, Texas.
Media and entertainment
Agile real estate providers have been creative bastions for media and entertainment companies. The open office design and welcoming community create ample opportunity for networking and collaboration. Whether you’re a content creator or a major entertainment enterprise, agile real estate has something for you.
You may not have heard of Babaroga, but you’ve likely heard or even played one of their many games. From the Deal or No Deal iOS Game, to EA Sports’ Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09, to their upcoming Ghostbusters VR title, Babaroga has set the standard for mobile gaming. They’ve even received awards from IGN, the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences, and Pocket Gamer. Babaroga is based in Novel Coworking’s The Loop location in downtown Chicago.
Don’t assume that technology and media companies hold a monopoly on agile real estate. Financial service companies can benefit tremendously from agile real estate. With low rental costs and increased exposure to networking opportunities, there are many advantages to agile real estate that serve the financial industry.
Our Novel Coworking Trinity Place location is host to Bank of Colorado, one of the oldest banks in Colorado. Bank of Colorado is completely family owned since the Great Depression, and while their name has changed over the years, they remain a popular fixture within the Colorado community. They service individuals throughout the Eastern Plains, the Front Range, the Western Slope, and the Four Corners Region.
Types of flexible workspaces
Coworking office spaces/Shared office spaces
We’ve spoken extensively about coworking, and for good reason. Coworking is the reason that agile real estate has become as ubiquitous today than ever before. If you’re looking for the utmost flexibility, coworking is the way to go. With options for a short or long-term lease, reduced costs, and access to a vibrant community, coworking remains the ideal agile real estate model.
Agile real estate isn’t limited to coworking spaces or incubators. Some coworking providers (such as Novel Coworking) offer private offices available for rent, that include perks such as printing, mailing, and management services. In most cases, these offices are usually long-term leases, ranging from several months to a few years. Serviced offices provide the same benefits as a traditional office, offered at a similar cost structure as coworking.
For much larger businesses, agile real estate offers a myriad of solutions, from spacious office suites to multiple private offices. In addition to more space, they often have their own kitchen area or lounge. Most providers ask for long-term leases for larger suites.
Distinct from the other agile real estate options mentioned, incubators are specifically geared towards assisting startups. They typically provide low rent and services for ensuring the development and growth of a startup. Incubators are not for everyone- some incubators require a complex application process or only offer services for a few months.
Agile real estate is part of a much greater movement towards safer, more affordable, and more inclusive workspaces. Why should a young, growing business have to worry about being able to pay office space rent? In reality, they should be able to have a space to conduct their work and meet others at a reasonable rate, so they can allocate more spend toward paying employees or improving their product or service.
Fortunately, the agile real estate model is here to stay. As rent continues to increase and people continue to develop startups, flexible and dynamic workspace will be in high demand. Take a look at your own office solution. Is it meeting the needs of your business? Perhaps an agile approach is just what you need to keep your business nimble.
Agile real estate is part of a bigger strategy around managing your talent. Read Novel Coworking’s comprehensive guide on talent management here.
For more content on running your business and setting yourself up for success, read Novel Coworking’s blog each week.