Tag Archives: #conflictmanagement

MEASURING CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE MATURITY

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Marketers can only measure things they can manage. Therefore, the authors developed the Sitecore® Customer Experience Maturity Model™ to walk people through the customer experience incrementally and to understand how to measure it.

Since connecting with customers is a goal that continually evolves, this model offers seven stages to map the customer experience and offers guidance on responding to customer behavior at each step. It matches marketing efforts with marketing objectives and reaches to all areas of an organization. The steps are:

1. Initiate: This is the beginning of the journey and often starts with a static website.

2. Radiate: Reach customers across channels, which often include a mobile website and social media.

3. Align: Digital goals are aligned with strategic objectives.

4. Optimize: Each point in the customer journey is optimized to be relevant to customers’ specific needs.

5. Nurture: Relate to customers based on their profile data so they can be nurtured.

6. Engage: Connect with customers across online and offline touch points. This step is challenging because it includes data from different parts of a company.

7. Lifetime customers: Use past customer data and predictive analytics to predict customers’ future needs

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UNDERSTANDING THE CUSTOMER

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The Psychology of Selling

Understanding the dynamics of human behavior and how to effectively approach different people are critical skills for sales professionals. Along these lines, a salesperson’s first order of business is to observe rather than react. Observation leads to selecting the right approach for each person.

Assertiveness, responsiveness, and adaptability are three dimensions of human behavior. Assertiveness and responsiveness play a role in each of four distinct behavioral styles:

  1. A driver requires a minimum amount of responsiveness and wants a salesperson to get to the point.
  2. An expressive will become enthusiastic as long as the salesperson appeals to his or her vision and goals.
  3. An analytical wants detailed, specific, and accurate information; otherwise the salesperson will lose credibility.
  4. An amiable requires a warm and friendly approach; the salesperson must take time to build rapport to achieve a trusting and mutually beneficial relationship.

An observant and knowledgeable salesperson will be able to key in on a prospect’s behavioral style and tailor his or her sales approach accordingly. Likewise, salespeople themselves will align with one of these behavioral styles. An understanding of self is as important as an understanding of others.

Adapting to Your Customer

Adaptability is the behavioral dimension that comes into play when salespeople are dealing with others, as they must adapt to each prospect’s style and potentially overcome their own styles while doing so. The Platinum Rule of “Do unto others as they would have you do unto them” takes into account that not everyone wants to be treated the same way. It should be a guidepost for adjusting the sales approach to match a customer’s behavioral style.

Becoming adaptable is a learnable skill. Adaptability is based on:

*Adjusting one’s image.

*Targeting presentations to meet others’ needs.

*Possessing competence.

*Maintaining a willingness to receive feedback.

There are specific adaptability strategies for addressing each of the behavioral types. Additionally, the market now comprises four distinct generations:

  1. Civics (or the “greatest generation”).
  2. Boomers.
  3. Gen Xers.
  4. Millennials.

Each of these generational groups has specific values, behaviors, and communication preferences that salespeople need to be aware of and adapt to.

Understanding Customers’ Needs

Because selling value is based on understanding a customer’s wants and needs, a customer needs analysis should be performed for each sales effort. The goals of this analysis are to:

*Win prospects over early.

*Focus on needs and desires.

*See things from the prospect’s perspective.

*Establish trust.

*Gain high-quality input so as to make the best recommendation.

Listening is one of the best methods to achieve an understanding of customer needs. Taking notes is also extremely important. Whether the prospect is an individual or a large group, the overall objective is to gain information and knowledge that will lead to a proposed solution that best meets the prospects’ wants and needs.

Presenting Your Value Proposition

Communicating needs-based benefits is the primary way to create value in the prospect’s mind. Needs-based benefits are benefits that match the customers’ definitions of value and meet their needs at the current time.

Presentations that communicate value should be:

*Based on input derived from prospects’ key decision makers.

*Presented to senior executives and the right key stakeholders.

*Inclusive of specific, targeted value points and tied to the prospect’s senior management philosophy.

*Fresh, well organized, and relevant.

*Interactive and engaging.

Third-party references and testimonials inspire confidence and are excellent ways to communicate value to clients and prospects. Inside influencers (trusted individuals from outside the organization) are very useful in testing and confirming the value of a proposed solution and can help a salesperson refine a presentation.

Additionally, any references to the salesperson’s team and company should be contexted as “we” rather than “them;” each presentation should be unique; and any presentation should seek to inspire trust and ensure the salesperson has the prospect’s best interests in mind.

LEARN HOW TO COMMUNICATE

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People are often defined by how they communicate. There are three main communication styles:

1. Aggressive. This type of communication discourages collaboration and conversations, and focuses on placing blame if mistakes are made and taking credit for other’s successes.

2. Passive. This type of communication is reluctant to offer feedback, hates confrontation, and is unable to convey the full picture of a project or situation.

3. Assertive. This communication is objective and conversational. Such communicators think before responding to issues and see the big picture.

When problem-solving in the office, people need to use facts to back up their positions, avoid raising their voices, acknowledge other people’s stances, and learn to compromise. Additionally, understanding when to chime in and when to wait will take time to fully embrace, but can be very helpful once learned.

Written communication is important now that most offices use email, PDAs, and smartphones for daily communications. People in the corporate world are pressed for time and have a short attention span. Clear and concise emails, text messages, and memos are imperative for the busy professional. Levit stresses that proofreading is important, and that even the most basic email should be error free.

Listening is more than simply hearing words. It is important to understand the type and how much information is actually being heard. The best listeners do not interrupt, stay focused, and can read between the lines. However, it is important to understand the filters people face when attempting to take in information through listening. The four basic filters are:

1. Predilection filter. Hearing what is wanted instead of what is being said.

2. Who filter. Focusing on the person speaking rather than message.

3. Facts filter. Obliviousness to emotional or non-verbal cues.

4. Distracting thoughts filter. Allowing personal thoughts or emotions to become distracting.

Further, in-person communication involves nonverbal cues like appropriate eye contact, altering tone, appearing intelligent but not pretentious, and coming across as sincere. It is important to take advantage of quick conversations, such as in the elevator or in the kitchen, and volunteer to deliver formal or informal presentations. Practice makes perfect when developing communication skills in the corporate world.

LEVELS OF CONFLICT

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Understanding the levels of conflict is also important. If the conflict has grown from a minor disagreement to a fight, the tools that work for minor disagreements will not work anymore.

Training Session with Anubha with Manufacturing teamShearouse outlines five levels of conflict, adapted from Speed Leas’s Moving Your Church Through Conflict:

1. Problems to solve. A problem is discussed, and a solution is decided.

2. Disagreement. People take sides and actions based on assumptions.

3. Contest. People argue about who is right and who is wrong–each party fighting to be right.

4. Fight. Both parties become defensive–it is about winning and losing now.

5. Intractable situation. There is no solution, no winning or losing–only separation.

Strategies for resolving conflict differ depending on the level. For level one, problems to solve, clear communication and a collaborative approach are essential. To resolve conflict at this level, managers should clearly state the issue or problem to solve, listen to all sides carefully, and identify each side’s interests. Agreeing on shared goals can also help, as well as making sure all voices are heard and there is an atmosphere of trust.

Level two, disagreement, calls for more structure. Establishing ground rules for a conversation can be an important starting point, such as “we will listen to each other’s points, no matter what.” After the ground rules have been established, a manager should establish a common goal or objective.

At level three, contest, the fear and distrust levels are higher. Therefore, the process needs to be even more structured–ground rules, roles for who is gathering information and presenting it, who is leading the meeting, etc.

At level four, fight, it is often no longer clear what the disagreement is even about. It is no longer about a specific issue, but is instead about a damaged relationship. External help (a mediator or facilitator) is often necessary at this stage.

If the conflict reaches level five, intractable situation, an outside party needs to not just mediate, but also make the decisions.

HOW WE RESPOND

Conflicts are also affected by the way people approach them. Everyone approaches conflict differently. However, often people only use the same one or two approaches every time they face conflict. The five most common approaches include:

1. Avoiding. When avoiding conflict, people usually back away from conflict, even if nothing has been settled. When dealing with an avoider, a manager should strive to create a safe place for people to talk, and give people time to think and consider before the discussion.

2. Accommodating. This usually means putting a relationship before personal wants and needs in a conflict. A manager needs to assure accommodators that the relationship is not in jeopardy.

3. Directing. “Directors” are more focused primarily on personal goals, and more concerned about “getting it done” than what others want or need. A manager should help directors realize that it is in their best interest to collaborate with others to solve conflict.

4. Compromising. Compromising means that everyone accepts a little less to get the job done. Managers can encourage compromisers to slow down before rushing to reach a solution.

5. Collaborating. In a collaboration, people make sure that both sides are heard and understood. Collaborators need deadlines for decision-making to avoid endless negotiations.

Good managers understand both their own approaches to conflict, and their employees’ approaches. There is no “right” way to approach conflict, as different situations call for different approaches. For instance, sometimes it is appropriate to avoid conflict if the situation just does not warrant discussion or collaboration. But sometimes, managers avoid conflict when the situation really needs to be addressed and sorted out thoroughly. The key is to know when a certain approach is appropriate, and when it does more harm than good.

Shearouse stresses that understanding style differences in approaching conflict can help everyone involved to respond to personality differences more effectively.

SOURCE OF CONFLICT

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WHAT WE ARE ARGUING ABOUT MATTERS: SOURCES OF CONFLICT

It is important to think about the source when thinking about the solution. The main sources of conflict include the following:

IMG_6954* Information conflicts. These involve facts or numbers–the easiest conflicts to address. Managers can start by agreeing on the source of data and how to get it.

* Conflicts of interest and expectations. These involve underlying needs, concerns, and desires. It is important to identify the interests of each party first in a conflict. When the discussion is about interests, rather than positions, solutions will emerge more easily.

* Structural conflicts. These involve limited resources, or structures beyond the control of those involved in the conflict. For instance, if five people are vying for a promotion, and there is only one open position, this can cause a structural conflict. When faced with structural conflicts, it is important to bring the issue to the appropriate decision-maker, make sure decision processes are transparent, and look for ways to turn the decision-making over to those who will be affected by the decision.

* Conflicts in values. These involve people’s principles. It is better to work around these differences than to try to establish who is right and who is wrong. Focusing on goals that supersede the value differences (goal of the company, department, etc.) can lead to solutions.

* Relationship conflicts. These conflicts can affect all the other conflicts. These are about two people’s history, and frequently involve communication, stereotypes, and trust. Trust is extremely important to avoid and fix these conflicts. With it, employees can get through anything. Without it, employees cannot do anything. Trust is built up slowly, and needs to be worked on to be maintained. Managers need to feel like they can count on their employees, and employees need to feel like they can count on their managers.

RESOLVING CONFLICT

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KEYS TO RESOLVING CONFLICT

Once managers understand conflict, and how it arises, they can start to build an environment that encourages conflict resolution. Shearouse suggests managers start by focusing on the following:IMG_6946

* Trust

* Apologies and Forgiveness

* Anger

* Humor

* Time

Building Trust 

If trust is so critical, how do managers establish it, and then how do they keep it? Shearouse suggests they start by understanding three categories of trust: reliability, competence, and caring.

1. Reliability. Reliable managers are clear about what they are committed to, and what they expect of others. These managers keep their commitments. Reliable managers are also stable managers. Employees respond to consistency in the boss’s behavior and mood. If the boss is unpredictable, distrust mounts.

2. Competence. Those new to managing people need to acknowledge that a new skill set is needed, and find a way to hone those new skills. Employees need to trust that the manager has the skills to lead the team.

3. Caring. Employees need to know that their managers care about them as people–about their career development, and even their personal lives–not just the role they play. Managers need to respect people for who they are. Listen closely to staff, and keep them well informed.

Apologies and Forgiveness 

Apologizing and forgiving are critical to working through workplace conflicts. They can be the difference between moving forward, or not. Shearouse believes that an apology that is heartfelt and convincing can begin to rebuild relationships.

Managers should set the tone with apologies and forgiveness. When employees see the manager apologizing for mistakes, and forgiving others, they will do the same. And with apologies and forgiveness, strong bonds between staff will begin to emerge.

Rethinking Anger 

Anger can wreak havoc in conflict resolution. Therefore, understanding anger and how to work around it is an important conflict-resolution skill. Emotions are inescapable, and they will play a role in everyday interactions, so managing their energy becomes crucial. Their energy is not always negative, as emotions provide the jumpstart needed to take action and make decisions. But emotions can also lead to “emotional highjacking”–when the emotions take over the thinking, reasoning part of the brains. To properly resolve conflicts, managers must understand emotional highjacking and know how to get past its effects.

Shearouse points out that it is important to note that anger is not automatic. Rather, it is a secondary response to other emotions. Consequently, understanding the emotions that cause anger will help manage conflict more effectively.

A Sense of Humor 

A sense of humor can go a long way in dealing with difficult workplace issues. First, it keeps things in perspective. Sometimes, everyone just needs to take a step back and laugh to ease the tension and move forward. Second, managers who laugh at their own mistakes will create an environment where everyone feels like they can admit to being human, making mistakes, and moving on. Third, laughter can actually improve the thought process. Shearouse suggests that laughter brings oxygen to the brain and helps clear up clouded thinking. Finally, humor can help deliver tough messages more easily.

Time 

Patience is truly a virtue when dealing with conflict. Conflicts are much less likely to escalate if both parties step back and slow down their reaction times. People need time to absorb information and see things from another perspective.

Managers should let time heal hurt and wounded egos, and avoid trying to solve conflict when the hurt is fresh. This is especially true when criticism and complaints are involved. People should not respond right away to negative feedback, but rather take the time to process and absorb the information without emotions getting in the way. The same goes for bad news–loss of a promotion, a reorganization, etc. When faced with bad news, people need time and space to grieve.

CONFLICT MANAGEMENT

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REACHING AGREEMENT: A SOLUTION-SEEKING MODEL

Once managers understand the nature of conflict and how to establish an environment that will nurture positive relationships, Shearouse introduces a model with specific steps for reaching solutions when conflicts arise. Using this model, managers can help slow down the decision-making and avoid jumping to a solution. The model also helps them keep an open mind when struggling to resolve conflict.

screen-shot-2016-11-11-at-7-14-58-pmThe solution-seeking model includes four steps:

1. Prepare. How will each person effectively contribute to the discussion? Shearouse suggests that managers ask these questions: What is the issue? Where can we talk? When can we talk? How can we make it “safe”? Who needs to be included?

2. Discover. This is the time to listen and talk. Managers need to avoid the natural inclination to state positions or solutions upfront. Rather, collect information and understand the other party’s perspective. People can start by sharing perceptions, exploring issues, and identifying interests.

3. Consider. Consider options for solutions.

4. Commit. To commit, managers need to write down the agreement, identify next steps, and regroup later to re-evaluate the solution.

LISTENING IS THE PLACE TO START

Shearouse also examines a couple of critical conflict-resolution skills needed to best take advantage of the solution-seeking model. Before jumping into a difficult conversation, it is important to vow to listen first. Listening is both essential to solving conflict and especially difficult to do in the middle of a conflict. Shearouse states that listening is the single most important and powerful tool when resolving a contentious issue or repair an awkward working relationship.

Managers should strive to develop the following three skills to become better listeners:

1. Nonverbal listening. Be aware of nonverbal cues, but do not jump to conclusions about what they mean. Managers also need to be aware of their own nonverbal communication.

2. Paraphrasing. Restate what the other person just said.

3. Asking questions. Raising questions enhances the ability to listen.

SAYING WHAT NEEDS TO BE SAID

Another critical conflict-resolution skill is communicating well, especially during tense interactions. Before starting a difficult conversation, managers need to objectively think about their own interests in the situation, as well as their own tendencies in conflicts.

When a conversation gets going, they should speak in a way that will encourage others to work together, not in a way that will lead to heightened confrontation or defensiveness.

It is critical to be respectful. If managers want to successfully present the importance of their message, they need to talk to everyone respectfully. Finally, to persuade people, managers should know where employees are coming from–what is important to them, and how they approach problems. Armed with this information, managers can more easily and effectively translate their thoughts into a message that makes sense to employees.

IS TIME MANAGEMENT IMPORTANT

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Time is a precious commodity. Each person has the same amount of time, 24 hours each day, to use productively or to waste. Many people believe that time management is one of the top reasons that individuals succeed or fail both professionally and in their personal lives. Zeller describes a broad variety of time management techniques and systems that can be used by people in different professional roles, as well as at home to ensure that they are making the most of their time every day.Training Session with Anubha with Manufacturing team

STARTING WITH SIMPLE TIME MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES

Before delving into detailed techniques for better time management, it is useful to take a look at the bigger picture, and analyze why time is so valuable. Zeller suggests taking a step back and considering one’s life goals and the value of one’s time in the long run.

The best time managers consider in depth the link between time management and their life goals. When a person understands his or her short, medium, or long-term goals, it helps shape the way time is then used as a result. Clear goals create a sense of urgency which motivates people to accomplish more in less time. Studies have shown that individuals who document their goals are more likely to achieve them in a shorter period of time. Zeller recommends identifying at least 50 goals to accomplish in the next ten years. The next step is to isolate the three most important goals to achieve within one year, three year, five year, and ten year timeframes. This exercise can help to effectively focus energy.

Another useful exercise is to determine what a person feels they are worth on a per hour analysis. When an individual understands the value of time after breaking it down to an hour-by-hour basis, it is easier to make educated decisions about how to organize their tasks. The goal should be to use time in a way that provides the best return on investment. A key question then becomes whether the time to perform a task costs more or less than hiring someone to do the work. Additionally, leisure activities should produce as much value as one’s hourly income rate. For example, a person might choose to pay a landscaping service to mow their lawn in order to spend that time doing something more enjoyable and personally productive.

ESTABLISHING A TIME MANAGEMENT SYSTEM

After identifying one’s time management goals, it is a good idea to prioritize them. This results in a structured plan for attaining them. A basic principle called the 80/20 rule is important to remember. This principle suggests that 20 percent of a person’s tasks will generate 80 percent of their desired results. To maximize one’s productivity, therefore, it is necessary to place a high priority on the important activities that fall into the 20 percent zone. Zeller suggests that people identify their top 12 goals as well as identify the tasks necessary to accomplish them. These tasks should be broken down into a list of daily “to do” items. On a daily task list, the “A items” are those that will lead to a major consequence if not completed, while “B items” have only minor consequences if not completed, and “C items” have no penalty if not completed by the end of the day.

In addition to prioritization, techniques like time blocking, organization, and electronic tools can all support a robust time management system.

*Time blocking. Time blocking is a technique that can be used to schedule tasks during the day. Each day is broken into 15 minute segments. Personal activities should be blocked out first. Next, work related activities are added in. Zeller recommends spending 15 to 30 minutes each day and 90 to 120 minutes at the end of the week on self evaluation and planning. This time is used to review progress toward business and personal goals.

*Reducing clutter. To support a time management system, it is important to have an organized office environment. People with uncluttered workspaces tend to be more productive. They feel less distracted and can easily access the tools they need. To maintain an uncluttered work environment, many people handle papers just once. They make sure to execute one of the following options immediately: dump, delegate, detour, do it, or depot. Zeller insists that dump, delegate, and do it are self-explanatory options. A detour is when a paper is parked for later follow-up, and a depot is another term for filing papers. A similar system can be used for dealing with email – there are three possible options: delete, do it, or defer. Deferred emails should be placed in an electronic folder to review later.

*Electronic tools. Electronic tools can also help keep one’s schedule in check. Examples include portable digital assistants (PDAs) and scheduling tools like Microsoft Outlook. One major benefit of scheduling systems is the ability to set up meetings with colleagues without involving administrative assistants or extraneous people. Customer relationship management (CRM) systems are invaluable for storing important information about clients and prospects. Important customer data includes names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and administrative assistant contact information. An organized computer is just as important as an organized workspace. This requires sorting through files, deleting those that are unnecessary, and backing up files that need to be archived. CDs and other storage media must be labeled and stored in a safe place. One option is to use mirrored servers so that backups always exist.

Time management can be challenging when a job requires a lot of travel. However, advanced planning can make business trips as productive as possible. Zeller recommends identifying the trip objectives before setting foot in a car or on a plane. He also suggests grouping trips together for a weeklong trip, rather than several small trips. Each day should be scheduled as tightly as possible. It is useful to book hotels based on convenience and services like Internet access, room service, and a business center. Try to pack efficiently by color coordinating clothing, using hotel toiletries, and investing in a small laptop and electronic reader.

Time Savers for Life Outside Work

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Ten Time Savers for Life Outside Work 

By managing time effectively outside work, people have more freedom to do the activities they truly enjoy.

1. Hire out yard work. Yard maintenance can add hours to weekly house responsibilities. Consider hiring someone to do that work.

2. Hire a personal chef to cook dinners in advance. Many families who value healthy meals hire a personal chef to cook and freeze dinners for the week. If a personal chef is too costly, other alternatives include meal preparation businesses or cooking in bulk.

3. Hire a house cleaner. One good way to find a house cleaner is to get a referral from a friend.

4. Get childcare for errand running. When it comes time to run errands, it is more time efficient to leave the kids at home with a sitter.

5. Use pickup and delivery services. Instead of spending time running errands, consider using a courier or a pickup and delivery service.

6. Explore shopping alternatives. Online shopping has made shopping very easy. Other alternative forms of retail shopping including grocery stores that provide scheduled ordering and delivery services, and stores with personal shoppers.

7. Consider on-site car service. Many auto detailers offer on-site services which are well suited for busy people.

8. Use a travel agent to book trips. Although many online travel sites exist, travel agents have access to sophisticated tools. These can be a time saving alternative.

9. Let someone else wrap gifts. Many stores offer complimentary wrapping services.

10. Use a greeting card service. Online services exist which will send cards every year to designated people.

Ten Time Saving Technologies 

1. Handheld digital voice recorders. These can be used to record notes and dictate correspondence.

2. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software. CRM software enables businesses to maintain client and prospect information in a database.

3. Finance software or internet banking. Online bill paying makes managing finances easier than ever.

4. Phone and web conferencing solutions. Conference bridge lines are convenient for phone meetings, while online conferencing solutions can enhance presentations and meetings.

5. Wireless headsets. Wireless headsets are useful for people who spend a lot of time on the phone. They free one’s hands to take notes or walk around.

6. Mobile phones and text messaging. Text messages are another alternative for communicating quickly with people.

7. Instant messaging. Instant messaging is very useful in the workplace when people are in different locations.

8. E-book readers. These enable users to carry hundreds of digital books in a small, portable device.

9. GPS systems. These systems are ideal for people who travel for their jobs.

10. Digital video recorders. DVRs allow people to record television shows and then watch them at their convenience. They also allow viewers to fast forward through commercials.

CLIMATE FOR FEEDBACK

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One of the most effective ways to ensure that feedback will be accepted and lead to positive change is by ensuring that the managers delivering it are perceived as trustworthy. Managers can establish their trustworthiness by developing workplace climates that encourage feedback. To create this climate, managers must:

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 7.13.26 pm*Make feedback a priority. Both positive and corrective feedback should always be framed as an ongoing process that aims to improve the entire organization. The idea that every employee should always know how he or she is doing should serve as a foundation to the organization’s culture. To establish this, managers must set visible examples of feedback on a regular basis and be open to receiving feedback from their colleagues.

*Give positive feedback publicly. Another effective way to build a culture of frequent feedback is to acknowledge positive performances frequently and publicly. This can help quell some of the anxiety surrounding feedback by demonstrating to employees that it is ultimately about personal development. Additionally, the more managers acknowledge good work with positive feedback, the more employees will trust the credibility of their corrective feedback.

*Empower everyone. A culture of feedback requires the participation of everyone, not just people in leadership positions. To make sure that all voices are included in the feedback process, managers must always address challenges in a group context. Employees should not be punished for identifying areas that need improvement. Instead, they should be encouraged to work together to develop solutions. Another key ingredient to a culture of feedback is having clear expectations for teams, goals, and ongoing assignments.