During difficult economic times, like we are currently experiencing in South Africa, businesses may need to make certain arrangements to keep afloat. These arrangements could involve cutting down on certain expenses or negotiating for extended payment terms for expenditure that cannot be reduced. The arrangements may also involve restructuring of certain debt obligations in order to be able to obtain further funding. Debt restructuring would more often than not involve a related person, such as a shareholder or investor who would be willing to renegotiate terms or the nature of the instrument, to protect his or her interest in the business.
It is a well-known fact that listening is an important business skill. However, most of us are guilty of not listening to what our customers are telling us. Do you really want to understand what your customers want and why they buy certain products or services? Why not ask them for a customer feedback meeting and truly listen to what they have to say.
Before you start your feedback meeting with your customer(s), prepare for your session. It is helpful to work off a report that illustrates which products or services the customer has bought in the past. Write down what you want to achieve from the meeting. Do you want to understand why the customer bought from you? Do you want to understand more about their needs so that you can cross sell additional products or services to them, and to similar customers? Study your list of questions before the meeting and be prepared to listen and to take relevant notes.
Very often the only thing that is more stressful than having a difficult conversation in the workplace is the anticipation of that conversation. Whether it’s a performance appraisal, verbal warning, or a sales meeting to close an important deal, here are a few tips to help you manage difficult conversations:
Spend some time considering what you want to achieve by having the conversation. Write down the key points you want to raise and list any further points in order of importance. What would your ideal outcome be for each point? If you would like the other person’s input, or if you have a proposal for a solution of your own, write these down next to each point. Picture yourself confidently raising the issues on your list and explaining your ideas for possible solutions.
Wikipedia describes office politics or workplace politics as the process and behaviour in human interactions involving power and authority. It is the use of power and social networking within an organisation to achieve changes that benefit the organisation, or individuals within it. Influence by individuals may serve personal interests without regard to their effect on the organisation itself.
We all understand that our work entails keeping our heads down and working hard to finalise our tasks and achieve our goals. However, we also recognise the dynamics of office politics and the effect it can have on our business, employees and possibly customers. It is important to develop effective personal relationships with the key stakeholders across your company to stay abreast of the possible influences individuals, or groups, could have on the business. As such, networking with internal contacts is as important as networking with external customers and target clients.