Check out this month's business management files.

Five Things Your Web Site Should Be Doing

Web sites can provide some real direct and indirect benefits for your firm, helping it grow and boosting its bottom line. A new publication from our management consultant friends at Natick, Mass.-based ZweigWhite outlines five basic ways which your Web site should be helping your firm produce positive results.

Generating New Leads – Your Web site should be a portal for prospective clients to access your firm and, as such, can be a powerful tool to market your services. By no means should a Web site replace your firm’s other marketing and business development efforts, but it can be one of the most effective, easy and cheap marketing tools you can use to attract new clients to your firm.

Enhancing Your Firm’s Reputation – A Web site can go a long way in branding your firm and enhancing its reputation as a market sector leader, a technical expert and a progressive company – all of which are closely tied to the ability to attract new clients, teaming partners and new employees. Firms that are effective at branding themselves and positioning themselves as the expert to contact can charge higher fees and generate new business more easily.

Improving Your Relationships with Existing Clients – An increasing number of contracting firms are using their Web sites to improve client service by setting up project Web sites and public involvement Web sites for clients, providing Web design services to clients and obtaining client feedback online.

Recruiting Talented Employees – If your firm is not using your Web site as a recruitment tool, you’re missing out on a great resource to find talented employees. Your company Web site is one of the first places many potential candidates will check out to learn more about your company. This means it’s important for your site to be up-to-date and provide potential candidates with enough information to know what your firm does and what the workplace environment is like.

Reducing Costs – Your Web site can help cut down on the costs of printing and mailing multiple hard copies of marketing pieces. Since printed marketing pieces can become obsolete quickly, the costs of producing revised marketing materials can add up pretty quickly.

If your firm’s Web site is not producing all of these results, it may be time to upgrade your site.

Don’t Fuel That Fire

When trying to cope with someone who’s infuriated, try the advice of business communications consultant Dr. Alberto Cereghino. He says to visualize the person as having a psychological sunburn. If you touch the person when the sunburn is at its worst, you may get a violent reaction. Instead, try to reduce the heat.

Listen carefully and try to understand what the person is saying. Ask open-ended questions to keep the person talking. Don’t offer a solution until the person has had time to vent his or her feelings.

Share Your Powers

Business psychologist Jay Hall tells us how successful managers use power:

They share power with the less-powerful employees in order to extend decision-making to the individuals most affected by decisions.

They downplay their own power. This fosters collaboration with co-workers who have less power. To do that, they must not only share power with co-workers, they also must de-emphasize their own superiority. This promotes equality, which in turn allows for constructive pooling of talents and resources between managers and subordinates.

They use power for collective benefit. Instead of abusing power for personal gain, successful managers use power to make decisions that benefit the company as a whole.

They stive to practice restraint. Instead of reminding people at every oppportunity about how much power they possess, successful managers give others the opportunity to influence events and take credit. This enhances morale by encouraging initiative and avoiding excessive control.

The Truth about Manhole Covers

Hopefully, you’ve never been compelled to take time out from your busy life and ponder the mystery of why manhole covers are round. But, on the odd chance that it might come up someday, our man with all the answers – Cecil Adams ( – can help us out on that topic.

The commonly told explanation is that manhole covers are round so some moron from Streets & Sanitation won’t be able to accidentally drop them into the sewer. If they were square, you could tip the up and drop them through diagonally. “And the same with ovals,” notes Adams. “But a circular hole will defy the most determined of efforts in the regard.”

But a circular manhole cover isn’t the only shape that won’t fall into the hole. Those of you who paid attention in geometry class might recall that the same is true with the Rouleaux triangle – the kind in which each side consists of an arc centered on the opposite line’s vertex (you don’t remember?).

So why not triangular manhole covers? Adams cites the case against them using four main points:

  • They can be rather difficult to roll.

  • The corners might tend to pop up when vehicles drive over them.

  • They’d look stupid.

  • The moron from Streets & Sanitation would have to be able to line up the corners when dropping them into place.

Tempered Positive Thinking

Beware of over-optimistic managers. Positive thinking certainly is a great thing for the most part, but getting carried away with it, at the expense of tough realities, such as cash flow difficulties, sales slumps, etc., can be dangerous. Managers who always see a rosy future no matter what often fall apart when major problems must be faced. Because optimism is what keeps them going, being confronted with problems causes them to suddenly view the future as completely bleak, hampering their ability to handle pressing responsibilities.