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Bernie Heine offers advice on balancing analytical and emotional intelligence.

Our Neural Networks Don’t Have to be Rivals.

In times like these, we are all stressed, fearful, and worried for ourselves and others. Our people are concerned about their jobs and providing for their families. More globally, we are all concerned about the nation’s health and well-being. As a manager, you must persevere in managing budgets, sales targets, and the thousands of other decisions that keep your organization alive. All the while, you must attend to the needs, fears, and concerns of your people. It is a precarious balance to strike because the personal and practical sides of every interaction require us to activate distinct parts of our brain.

Sometimes we can get stuck in one or the other neural network, either the practical task-focused side or the other network that helps us reflect, empathize, and build social connections. It is a powerful leadership skill to be able to call on both parts of our brains as needed, to understand your people and their challenges and to relate to their values, attitudes, needs, and expectations.

Good leaders check for understanding of the others’ perspectives and listen empatheticallyGood leaders check for understanding of the others’ perspectives and listen empathetically to their thoughts, feelings, and motivations. Research by Anthony Jack at Case Western Reserve University describes the analytic network (AN), and the empathic network (EN). The AN is needed for the practical side, and the EN is crucial for taking care of the personal side of every interaction.

What we are learning now is that these two networks are mutually exclusive to a large extent. In other words, they actually suppress each other. When one is switched on, the other is off. The researchers contend that good leaders can toggle back and forth between the practical and the personal at electron speed. They also believe that the “toggling” skill can be developed through self-awareness, thoughtful practice, and conscious effort.

 

Key points include:

  • Shifting between the personal and the practical
  • Encouraging engagement
  • Empathetic listening

Read the full article, Balancing Analytical and Emotional Intelligence, on ProfessionalBusinessCoaches.com.

Bernie Heine shares a post designed to improve leadership skills by avoiding these seven mistakes.

Avoid negative conflicts.

Resolving conflicts, both employee- and customer-related, is an area in which all leaders must excel. To address the conflicts in the right way, it is crucial to understand that there are two types of conflicts:

Productive conflicts: Productive conflicts are good for business. They are based on being trustworthy and vulnerable towards the person you are communicating with. Everyone must have the freedom to create a productive conflict to acquire new and innovative business ideas. A productive conflict is a healthy conversation between people who share the same goal. In his best-selling book, The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni states that vulnerability-based trust is essential to achieving productive conflict and building cohesive teams.

Negative conflicts: When there is no trust, especially vulnerability-based trust, there is no productive conversation either. If a leader shuts down all constructive criticism and treats it as an assault on their character, that can only cause mistrust and prevent others from speaking their mind.

Being a great leader means developing emotional intelligence that will allow you to have enough humility to recognize your own mistakes and understand the difference between positive and negative disagreements.

  1. Have a friendly attitude vs. favoritism.

Becoming too friendly towards certain employees can sometimes be a hindrance to good leadership. Having a friendly attitude and beaming with positivity is one thing; becoming too friendly is a whole other situation. A leader who fails to set clear boundaries will face employees who try to take advantage of the situation and ask for special attention. The best way to set boundaries is to treat everyone equally, and of course, adapt to their behavioral style. Do not allow yourself to provide unique benefits for one of the employees and not for others.

The remaining points include:

  • Standing by your words
  • Paying attention to employee needs
  • Sharing the vision

Read the full article, 7 Leadership Mistakes to Avoid, on ProfessionalBusinessCoaches.com.

 

Bernie Heine shares an article on marketing that focuses on using neuroscience to improve marketing tactics. 

Spending money can be painful. Brain scans of people buying experimental stuff with experimental money show physical pain centers being activated by perceptions of poor value items. Price is a big part of this, of course, but perception is even bigger.

Bundling lots of product features under one big price tag is a good way to prevent customers from “flinching.” Car option packages are a good example of this. They avoid lots of separate “pain points” for the leather seats, the “infotainment,” the electric windows, etc.

It’s not just the price either! Perceived unfairness in a purchase can cause pain too. You need to review your whole marketing offers from your target customer’s point of view and eliminate the pain points.

If your prices are higher than your competitors’ prices, it is vital that you explain to your customers exactly how you give them better value.

“Priming” can give you a competitive advantage. Giving people subtle psychological leads can guide their buying decisions your way. For example, images of cash money increase self-centered behavior, and telegraphing big numbers in a negotiation can ease the acceptance of a relatively higher bid.

Dan Ariely “Our daily behavior is irrational. We are influenced by all kinds of invisible forces.”

How’s this for an intriguing bit of psychology? Prof. Dan Ariely at Duke University primed subjects with random numbers – the last 2 digits of their own social security numbers. He then asked each of them how much they would pay for a wi-fi keyboard. The higher the priming number, the more they were willing to pay!

Are your prices ‘anchored’ or flexible? How much do you know about your customer’s price expectations when they browse your wares?

Key points include:

  • The five senses and the buying/decision-making areas of the brain
  • The three groups of consumers
  • The power of priming

Read the full article, Top Insights From Neuroscience Can Improve Our Marketing, on the ProfessionalBusinessCoaches.com.

Bernie Heine explains why your employees are key to the public perception of your brand, and what you should do to ensure a positive message is shared.

A recent study found that about 64% of global consumers have avoided a brand because of a bad experience they had within the past year. Almost half say they have avoided a company because of its reputation or negative social reviews. We’ve seen this happen many times, even with big corporations. For example, after the Volkswagen chaos of 2015, when the company chose to “cheat” emission testings, the public willingness to buy the brand fell by 28%.

Reviews and public perception are the bread-and-butter of consumer behavior. One study suggests that 97% of participants consider the customer reviews a factor in their buying decisions, and 92% of consumers hesitate to buy products or services when there are no customer reviews. 

Benefits of Employee Happiness

Now, customer reviews and employee happiness might not be a clear connection at first. But, when employees are unhappy and not fully engaged, they’re much more likely to leave, which leads to higher turnover rates. In addition, training new employees to treat customers to the standards you have takes time and money. Not to mention, unhappy employees are much more likely to pass down their frustration to your customers. Thus, potentially damaging the company’s public perception. 

On the contrary, when employees are happy and engaged at work, they’re more likely to stay, stay committed to bettering the customer experience and work towards the brand’s benefits.

 

Key points include:

  • Greater Productivity
  • Better Work Environment
  • Increased Creativity

Read the full article, 4 Ways Happy Employees Impact Public Perception of Your Brand, on TheProfessionalBusinessCoaches.com. 

 

 

Bernie Heine shares a post that can help business owners plan an exit strategy when leaving their business to facilitate a successful succession. 

The Importance of Estate Planning for Small Business Owners

Of course, no one likes to think about a time when they can no longer serve an active role in their business. Much like why people delay writing a will, business owners often delay estate planning. But, not planning can leave the struggle left to the company, your family members, and business partners.

If it comes to a point when you can’t lead the way and no clear instructions of what to do when it happens, your business can quickly go down and out of business.

Estate Planning for Small Business Owners in 4 Easy Steps

The process of estate planning for small business owners is long, detailed, and with many hiccups. Work with a lawyer or a specialist to draft a traditional estate plan that focuses on your needs as a small business owner. As you start this process, you’ll likely go through these four basic steps of estate planning.

Start with the basics

  1. Start with the basics.

The core of your business estate plan looks very much like a traditional estate planning document and includes:

  • A will that states your wishes about your business, property, and estate should be divided upon your death. 

  • A power of attorney appoints a legal advisor, business partner, or family member to manage your finances and undertake any business transactions in the event you’re incapacitated.

  • A healthcare directive appoints another individual, usually a family member, to make medical decisions for you if you’re incapacitated.

 

Key points include:

  • Plan for tax efficiencies
  • Draft buy-sell agreements
  • Create a succession plan

 

Read the full article, Business Owner Estate Planning – 4 Easy Steps, on the ProfessionalBusinessCoaches.com.

 

 

Bernie Heine provides a few cost-effective ways to boost employee engagement, productivity, and loyalty.

Showing gratitude to employees is essential, and a good and easy way to do it is with employee incentives that don’t cost money.

A good business leader should reward the employees when they deserve it. However, the reason why they often shy away from it is that it costs money. While one could argue that losing valuable employees is more expensive, there’s a middle ground. There are ways to increase motivation in the workplace that are free. With these employee incentives that don’t cost money, business leaders can make their employees feel valuable without breaking the bank.

Reasons to provide employee incentives that don’t cost money

Having your business transferred without delays was easy with the right company by your side. But someone else also took the burden of your relocation – your faithful employees.

Even if no significant changes have happened, your employees might have been doing their best for a while now. Through rewards, you get to increase productivity and show them you value them. Furthermore, you’re setting an excellent example for other employees by showing what values are important to your company. And since it’s so easy to show appreciation with cost-free employee incentives, there’s no reason not to do it.

 

Key points include:

  • Certificates
  • Flexibility options
  • Communication

 

Read the full article, Employee Incentives That Don’t Cost Money, on the ProfessionalBusinessCoach.com.

 

 

In this post, Bernie Heine identifies what the business community has learned from the Coronavirus pandemic. 

We are all learning to live by the new rules in all aspects of our existence; we also realize what we can do.

For the past ten months, businesses all around the world have faced various challenges. Some have suffered terrible losses. However, others managed to emerge from the crisis more potent than ever – even without proper coaching. We continue to see how flexibility stands out as a prominent feature that often determines the fate of a company.

Many business lessons learned amid COVID-19 are here to stay, and that, it turns out, is a positive thing. 

Agility Means SurvivalAs gamers will know, building a fighter’s agility is crucial in many fighting games. Strength, dexterity, and health are vital, but it’s agility that will determine whether you will beat or be beaten. It’s similar in business; flexibility will decide if you will sink or swim. During these turbulent times, it is of the utmost importance to have the ability to assess the situation instantaneously and have quick reflexes. Only then will you succeed in adapting to newly developed conditions and ensure survival.

The sudden explosion of the COVID-19 pandemic left many businesses with their back against the wall. They had to make the decision, and they had to make it fast. Were they going to try and adapt or close their door for the unforeseeable future? The rapidly changing business scene has forced many to get out of their comfort zones. In some cases, such actions have revealed the companies’ hidden weaknesses. The smart ones used the newly acquired information to their advantage, fixed the underlying issues, and got out of the gutter even stronger.

 

Key points include:

  • Increasing the talent pool
  • Fostering productivity
  • The need for social interaction

 

Read the full post, 5 Business Lessons Learned amid COVID-19, on ProfessionalBusinessCoaches.com.

 

 

Bernie Heine shares four tips on how to make your customer service stronger. 

No matter what your business is all about, customers are always at the core of it and should be your top priority. If the majority of them are happy, you’re much more likely to build credibility and bring in more business. Some research has shown that almost 80% of the customers are very likely to recommend a company to a friend if they had a pleasant experience. So, you can understand how important it is to keep them satisfied. That’s exactly why we created this list of the best strategies to improve your customer service standards.

According to some professionals that we’ve talked to, many customers will value the experience much more than the actual prices and products. Therefore, it makes sense for them to spend more for better customer service. It’s as simple as that. Here’s what you can do to achieve that.

The first of our four strategies to improve your customer service standards is building a strong team to deal with your customers.

Having professionals with the right set of skills is crucial for pretty much any of the strategies to improve your customer service standards.

To be clear right from the start, no artificial intelligence (AI) can be a substitute for a human when it comes to providing exceptional customer service. However, you need to choose the people with the right skills and personalities for the job.

 

Key points covered in this article include:

  • Communication Skills
  • Using CRM Platforms
  • Multi-Channel Servicing

 

Read the full article, 4 Strategies to Improve Your Customer Service Standards, on ProfessionalBusinessCoaches.com.

 

 

Leadership is not a one-size-fits all position. Every leader adopts a different style based on their strengths, passions, and talents. Bernie Heine provides a process that can help you understand your strengths and leverage the overlap of passion and talent.

The Zone of Leadership explained

Get INTO Your Leadership Zone. What are YOU really good at? What are you passionate about? We are talking here about knowing yourself, knowing what’s really important to you, what you do very well, and what you love to spend your precious time at.

Here are 3 excellent tools to help understand your personal zone of leadership:

The Gallup Strengths Finder is a tried-and-trusted survey that gets you to list out the 5 top items from a number of comprehensive assessment areas. It is important to understand the support material that accompanies these assessment areas. For example, Bernie’s 5 strengths came out as ‘individualization’ (works well one on one), ‘learner,’ ‘achiever,’ ‘communication,’ and ‘maximizer’.

 

Areas covered in this article include:

  • VIA strengths survey
  • The Venn diagram
  • The five-step process to create your zone

 

Read the full article, Get Into YOUR Leadership Zone, and follow the process on the Professional Business Coach website. 

 

 

If you have ever wondered why your messaging is misconstrued or find that you lapse into cliches at meetings, help is at hand. Bernie Heine identifies what not to say, why not, and what to say instead. 

Two Must-Do Guidelines and Five Clichés to Avoid.

Strategic Review or any meeting

Your strategic review is a rare opportunity to take an objective overview perspective on your business. It is a time for questioning assumptions and a space in which to encourage creativity and involvement. It is not a place for rigid thinking or hackneyed business phrases. In the ideal business world, all meetings should accomplish one or more of four things. They should 1) Generate new ideas to add value. 2) Share information. 3) Build a common purpose and buy-in. 4) Plan what to do to solve current problems and roadblocks.

At your strategic timeout, you should focus on things 1 to 3 with these two goals in mind…

  1. Doing better before doing cheaper. 

“Miracle worker” businesses consistently search for ideas to compete on factors other than price. See our newsletter 3 Rules for Exceptional Business Performance or the video below. 

Typical factors, other than price, that take your business to exceptional profit are durability, functionality, brand, style, etc. Your customers don’t see it on the invoice, but they really appreciate getting it.

  1. Revenue before costs.

 Cutting costs and or shedding assets are too often the default paths taken by “average Joe” businesses. At your strategic review, be sure to put revenue first. In the long run, “miracle worker” businesses can charge premium prices while giving greater apparent value to custom.

 

Phrases identified in this article include:

  • Don’t bring me problems. I want solutions!
  • I’ll get back to you on that.
  • In my opinion…
  • Keep doing what you’re doing.
  • We need to think outside the box

 

Read the full post, Five Things NOT to Say at Your Strategic Review (or at any meeting), on the The Professional Business Coaches website.

 

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Bernhard Heine with Professional Business Coaches. Bernhard Heine is a Business and Executive Coach at Professional Business Coaches, Inc., (PBC, Inc.) a company he founded to help business owners and leaders achieve their vision. Bernhard has more than 30 years of experience working collaboratively with business partners in all phases of business management, restructuring and transformation, particularly in: strategic planning, marketing and sales, organizational design, engineering consulting, project management, coaching and facilitation.

Prior to forming PBC, Inc., he was Executive Director for Strategy and Business Development for eight years at Textron Inc. His responsibilities included: advising senior leaders, facilitating meetings and training sessions, leading strategic planning initiatives, conducting corporate and business strategy assessments, and screening attractive industry and business growth opportunities.

Prior to joining Textron, he was principal at Alliance Consulting Group, an e-business strategy consulting firm. Prior to that, he worked six years at Coca-Cola in Germany; advising the CEO and his staff on restructuring the German bottling system and implementing new marketing and sales strategies. Before Coca-Cola, he was a management consultant with the Boston Consulting Group, an international management consulting firm (also in Germany).

Bernhard started his career at a marine transportation consulting firm where he worked globally as a marine engineer on commercial shipbuilding projects, especially in Japan and South Korea.

Bernhard holds a BS in marine engineering from the US Merchant Marine Academy in NY. He also holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and is a Certified Professional Business Coach with the Professional Business Coaches Alliance, Certified Legal Practice Coach, and Authorized Client Builder Sales Trainer. Bernhard has also achieved the “Master Coach” designation from the PBCA in Sales, Coaching, Leadership, Marketing, and Exit Planning.