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Tips On How To Clarify Expectations

According to Stephen R. Covey on his book Speed Of Trust, communicating with clarity of expectations most specially at work, lessens confusion and stress. It produces momentum and productivity. One way of checking to see if your communication  is clear is to check for clarity by asking the following questions.

– What have you understood from this conversation?

– As a result of your interaction, what do you see as your next steps? What do you see is mine?

– Do you feel that others are clear regarding expectations?

– What can we do to make things more clear?

So next time you have a project at work, create a clear project agreement in advance. If you’re in charge, suggest the idea to your team leader or write up an agreement on your own. Tell your team leader, “This is my understanding of what you expect and what I can do. Do you see it differently”, or simply ask- “Let me know if it’s clear or not”. Here’s the bottom line- Don’t assume that expectations are clear. Get into the habit of checking and validating.

Basic Product Positioning Strategies

During my brand management stint in the early 90’s, positioning was a marketing buzz word. Everytime I would meet a fellow marketer during those days, question like “What’s your product positioning?” usually would be part of the conversation. Jack Trout and Al Ries were the first marketing gurus who popularized positioning at least during my time.  It was also where I initially learned the basic concept of product positioning. They described it as the basic position in the consumer’s mind occupied by a brand. It is connected to the concept of “target market.” That is, a brand’s positioning defines the target audience.

But how is positioning used? According to Jerry Thomas of Decision Analyst, the positioning possibilities that exist for any given brand or service are almost infinite. Some commonly used positioning strategies are:

– Positioning against a broader market. For example, positioning a bicycle brand as a substitute for the automobile, rather than as a substitute for other brands of bicycles.
– Positioning against a price segment of the market. One example would be positioning a car brand against luxury imported cars.
– Positioning against a usage segment of the market. For example, positioning a brand of cooking oil as the very best brand of oil for frying chicken.
– Positioning against a psychographic segment of the market. For example, positioning Volvo as the best car for drivers who are primarily concerned about safety.
– Positioning against a channel of distribution, a season of the year, a particular type of weather, a human fear, etc.

Again, positioning possibilities are almost limitless for any given brand and can be defined in many different ways. The correct positioning of a brand is basic and fundamental to its success. An incorrect or positioning can doom a brand to underperformance or failure. So, how does one arrive at an optimal positioning for a given brand? The search for an optimal positioning begins in the mind of the consumer, and that’s when we must turn to marketing research for help.

Ideas To Package and Market Compact Cars

A new consumer study done by Mintel shows that only half of small car-buying respondents (51%) say they feel “extremely happy” with their small car purchases. In contrast, 80% of all respondents report feeling just as happy with their vehicle purchases. The survey also revealed a surprisingly high number of small car drivers who aren’t fully satisfied by their vehicles, suggesting that today’s small cars may not have the amenities people want, a key insight for small car manufacturers to develop some packaging innovations.

Most small car buyers choose to buy compact cars because of fuel economy or more mileage.I think there are more creative ways to package and market small cars these days. Economy and mileage are too basic. How about adding contoured seats, gprs, an audio video digital player, a built in iphone and a digicam. Simply offer luxury features. I don’t think speed will be a purchase factor since most small car owners are urban dwellers. However, a souped-up version may attract the younger market. 

I like compact cars myself because my former car used to be a Honda Jazz. It sure was compact. I find it very practical for city driving. Certainly looks flashy outside but still needs some pampering features inside for comfort specially when you’re driving in heavy traffic streets in Manila. Check out this site for some out of this world compact car design ideas.

Signs of Mistrust

Check the following symptoms and effects at home and in your organization. They’re obviously a clear indication that there’s an issue of trust going on.

1. Lack of self expression. This is a killer. It constraints or blocks open communication.

2. Lousy and lazy feeling. Yes it can drain your energy. You’ll see most people extending their break time. They come in late for work and leaves early. Call in sick-leave.

3. No teamwork. Because nobody cares! Why should I follow someone who doesn’t have credibility? 

4. Gossiping and office politics. People get in a huddle, starts laughing and all of a sudden leave when they see the jerk coming towards them.

How To Create and Sustain Extraordinary Results

Results matter to your credibility. Stephen M.R. Covey used a metaphor about a tree in his book Speed Of Trust– “Results are the fruits, the tangible, measurable end purpose and product of the roots, trunk and branches”. However, you can’t get a sustainable yield of good fruits if the results are severed from the character roots. A foundation of character and values yields good fruits! The most difficult people to deal with are those who have high results but are poor in living the values. You may want to call them double standard or inauthentic but these are the people who produce results at all cost, compromising their values and impacting their relationships and personal well being.

You really want to produce authentic and inspiring results? Something that’s vital to your personal and organizational credibility? Be honest and ask yourself the following.

1. Am I producing results that are expected of me? What kind of results are they? Does it increase or lessen my personal credibility?

2. How good is my track record? If I get interviewed for a new job, will they hire me based on it?

3. Does it inspire confidence and trust on others? 

We may have all the excuses or all good reasons but at the end of the day if the results aren’t there, neither credibility and trust can be established.

Be Responsible For Results In Order To Build Trust

It’s no use saying, “We are doing our best” You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary.- Winston Churchill

We don’t just succeed in doing what we’re supposed to do, but in doing what’s necessary- Results! To establish credibility and trust we need to deliver the results that are expected from us. But how do we do that? The key to success is in taking responsibility for results, not activities. I myself get so overwhelmed sometimes with a lot of task and activities at work that I forget to account for the results. You want to succeed? Then take responsibility for results not just activities. If you didn’t get results the first time, try it another way. Just don’t sit there and whine, “I did exactly what you told me to do.” Sounds familiar isn’t it? For example you wan’t to loose 10 pounds. The activities would be to exercise daily and probably eat less carbs. If you missed the mark don’t kid yourself by saying you tried your best. A James Ingram song best describes it- “I did my best, but my best wasn’t good enough.” Gave your best? Just give me the results. Period!

A results focus is a way of thinking. It requires a different attitude and beingness than activities focused.That’s how leaders think! They accomplish extraordinary results that build credibility and trust. It’s amazing how the impact of taking responsibility for results plays out in business and our personal life. Instead of blaming or judging try saying “I accept responsibility for my part in this or the impact of (mention result).” There you go, just restore credibility and trust. Anything is possible after that.