Is it time to change the way you do end-of-year reviews?

reviews
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It’s performance review time. Instead of it being a painful experience that you begrudgingly complete, take the time to give real feedback to your employees that will empower them during the next year.

Maybe it’s not the fact that you have to give feedback that is painful, but trying to remember everything about your employees’ individual performance over the past year.

If that is the case, maybe you should try dropping the annual performance reviews in favor of something even better. Microfeedback. Some call it “building a performance culture” or “consistent feedback” or just regular feedback. No matter what you call it, it’s changing the way companies, large and small, look at performance.

So what does this trend mean for you during annual performance review time? Well, if you’re reading this blog, chances are, you’re procrastinating and trying to find some way, any way, out of these annual performance reviews.

“The best time to plant a tree is 25 years ago. The second best time is today.”

Sure you’ve heard that quote. The wisdom inside it is obvious. No you might not be able to get out from under the deluge of annual performance reviews you have to do this year, but you can lay the groundwork for why it needs to change before the next time you have to slog through it.

1. Track Your Time.

If you know how much time is spent on annual performance reviews when conducted in one large swath, you can easily calculate how much time and money you will save by implementing microfeedback across the organization. Check out our handy ROI calculator to save you a step or two.

2. Survey Your Employees.

There’s never a better time to ask employees how valuable their reviews are than right after you conduct one. You can have someone from your department ask immediately after the review how beneficial your employees thought the experience was. Or send out a simple survey via email.

3. Do Productivity Checks Post-Review.

Does productivity shoot up? Does it go down? What do your retention numbers look like? This is all information that can be used to make a case for more consistent feedback.

4. During Your Reviews With Employees:

Ask them what they need from you to do their job better. Document this feedback to prove to your executive team that feedback is a great choice when offered more consistently to improve productivity, engagement and morale.

Everyone else is trying microfeedback. Why are you still slogging through annual reviews?

Based on an article by Michael Heller

For more tips on giving helpful evaluations, click here. Or, download our free “How to Work with People” e-book for more tips.

leader
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There are bosses and there are leaders. Just managing a group of people does not automatically make you a leader.

Having the right qualities to lead and inspire a team can be both satisfying and a challenge. On the other hand, ineffectual management can often cause poor performances and high turnover. One of the reasons many people quit their jobs is due to a bad boss.

This infographic compares both types of leadership methods. Anyone in a supervisory position can become a great leader instead of a bad boss. The trick is to acknowledge your strengths and work hard to become a leader.

leaderRead more by Alonzo Manch

cover image
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What do you need to consider when choosing a Facebook cover image for your publication? How can you make a memorable first impression with your choice of image?

Make sure your cover image conveys exactly the message you want it to with these tips:

  • The ideal cover image dimensions are: 820 pixels wide by 462 pixels tall
  • NEW – you can now use a video instead of a static cover photo. Take the opportunity to share a little bit more of your story. Cover videos should be 820 pixels wide by 312 pixels tall and 20 to 90 seconds long.
  • Remember that your cover image will look different on a computer versus a mobile device. As with all design, double check how your image appears on mobile.
  • A great way to make sure you are representing your magazine exactly how you want to is by creating the image in Photoshop. Here is a template: Facebook cover photo template (820 x 462px).
  • If you can’t or don’t want to design an image for your cover, use a photograph that represents your publication or a beautiful stock photo.
  • Using Canva is another option. You can customize their pre-made templates.

How should you select your cover photo? Hubspot has put together a great list of do’s and don’ts when it comes to cover photos. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Follow Facebook’s guidelines
  • Respect Facebook’s required dimensions (820px wide by 312 px tall for desktops)
  • Stay mainly visual and have a clear focal point
  • Keep in mind how your cover photo will look like on mobile
  • Integrate your cover photo design with the rest of your page

What type of image attracts viewers?

  • Emotion – feelings lead to action
  • Relevance – make sure it fits your audience’s interests
  • Colors – make the image attractive
  • Typography – make your message clear
  • Hashtags and text – use the right words that cause your audience to interact

Coca-Cola Facebook cover photo

Think outside the box:

  • Promote your social media campaigns

Canva Facebook cover photo

  • Change the image based on special occasions, events, sales, or holidays

Carousell Facebook cover video

  • Use it to send people a special offer

World Triathlon Facebook cover photo

Continue reading for more tips, examples, and a showcase of great cover photos

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month
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Join us next month in Sopron, Hungary for a one-of-a-kind conference on reporting truth in the midst of crisis.

Meet with some 100 Christian journalists, editors, publishers, and bloggers to discuss how to report responsibly on the challenges of a world increasingly impacted by crises of all kinds, from terrorism to war to natural disasters.

Read what two participants are saying about the conference:

Readers are inundated with information and many of them do not have the tools to know whether what they are reading is true. This conference will offer a fresh approach for media in my country. I can see a new opportunity for a professional approach to crisis publishing.–Ruben, publisher in Romania

I want to attend this conference to learn how to reach the refugee community of Malaysia more effectively. I believe I will return to Malaysia prepared to give my readership timely information that is important and encouraging.–Dildar, editor in Malaysia

Register Today

Donate for our matching grant challenge

conclusions
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Well done! You’ve carefully organized and constructed an article from the introduction to the final point. But now it’s time to wrap up your masterpiece. No matter how tempting it is to introduce a new idea, the conclusion is a paragraph that allows the reader to read in peace, without unanswered questions or ideas that weren’t explained crowding their minds.

Instead of bringing in new points, the conclusion is the perfect place to summarize the message, restate the main points, project the future, or challenge the reader to take action. While many writers use a combination of two or more of the elements listed above, another effective way to end an article is with a punchline.

Punchlines are memorable phrases that leave a strong impression in the reader’s mind. They strengthen the conclusions and illustrate the importance of the article. A punchline is usually short, carries a universal truth, and might have a play on words.

Three basic punchline techniques:

  • End with a question.
    • What kind of message is your life sending the world? –Susan Nikaido, excerpt from the article Integrity Matters.
  • End with a quote.
    • “I will never be released from prison,” he said last week. “I deserve to be in prison for the rest of my life. I can accept that.” –Blaine Harden, excerpt from the article ‘Son of Sam’ Film Revives Painful Memories.
  • End with an illustration.
    • Now when I look in the mirror, I know God the creator is looking at me too and together we both see the same thing. Someone beautiful. –Carey Posey, excerpt from the article Someone Beautiful.

Try it out! Practice writing punchline-conclusions by cutting off the conclusion of a magazine article or an article you wrote. Then write several new conclusions for the article. Try to use a different strategy each time. You could end with a question for one, and then project the future for another. Don’t be afraid to use combinations. Which style of conclusion is most effective for the article?

Want more? Purchase and download the complete writing manual from our resource store.

overwhelmed
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“Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do,” said Steve Jobs.

If you are feeling overwhelmed with the multitude of tasks before you, it is time to take a closer look and choose a focus for your company, your products, and your job. Without focus you will most likely attempt to do too many things, and, as a result, do them poorly.

Use these tips to sort through the backlog on your to-do list, and to learn about selection, prioritization, and refactoring — which will make things better in the long run.

  • Single-tasking. When you think you are multitasking, what you are actually doing is inefficiently flipping between several single tasks and distracting yourself repeatedly. Better to do one thing, finish it and move on.
  • Concentration. There are at least 22 ways to stay focused on your work
  • Getting up early. By getting up an hour earlier and using the quiet time before the day for creative work can be incredibly productive.
  • BANJO = bang another nasty job out. That thing that you’re putting off because it’s complicated, gritty and not quite urgent enough to do now but important enough to nag at you. Yeah, that one. Just do it now.
  • Cancel those meetings. Meetings are the opposite of work. If you have to have them, have quicker, shorter, better meetings
  • Delegate. Even if your colleagues are also very busy, you can assign them tasks to do later and at least clear them off your plate. You can also find freelancers, contractors and associates who can help carry the load when things are really busy. 
  • Prioritize. Prioritize your tasks and choose to focus on just a few things at a time.

If you are going to be busy, be busy doing the right thing.

Adapted from an article by Matthew Stibbe

photograph
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There is more to being a photographer than just possessing the technology. Nearly everyone has a cell phone in their pocket and can snap a picture any time they want. But what turns a picture into a photograph? A good photograph exhibits composition, lighting, and technical accuracy.

How can you tell if you have a “snapshot” or a “photograph” that is worthy of your magazine? Here are a few questions to ask as you look at the image:

  • Does it convey a feeling?
  • Does it tell a story?
  • Does it evoke powerful emotions?

A photograph is not based on the equipment being used, but the subject matter and the story it tells.

Learn more in our free e-book “Editorial Photography.”

audience
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By Peter Houston, Publishing Executive

What a time to be alive… the people, fresh from taking the U.K. out of Europe, are sending a reality TV star to the White House and the brightest brains of our society didn’t have a clue what was coming up in the elevator.

The worrying part of that for me — outside of my concerns for the future of Western Civilization — is that the pollsters on either side of the Atlantic didn’t come close to understanding what the public were thinking.

If the world’s leading political analysts, awash with data, can’t get close to forecasting an election result, what hope does your average publisher have of figuring out the complexities of a 21st Century reader, their behaviors, and their needs?

And yet the publishing industry’s mantra du jour is ‘Audience First’. How do we put the audience first when we can’t call a two-horse race?

Almost 25-years ago at Medill Journalism School, Professor Abe Peck carefully explained to me how publishing is a three-legged stool: Audience — Revenue — Content. You could put those three elements in any order you wanted, but if they don’t balance, the future for your publishing outfit is going to be wobbly at best.

Since those early Internet days, we’ve come through a succession of ‘First’ strategies in publishing. ‘Digital First’, ‘Content First’, ‘Mobile First’, ‘Social First’ and soon no doubt, we’ll get to ‘Video First’. Right now, the focus seems to be ‘Audience First’ and although audience isn’t the worst ‘First’ of the bunch, it does make me wonder what we’ve been doing all this time to balance the stool.

Continue reading

media law
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Do you know what the legal environment is like in your country for journalists? Resources for those in the media have long been available regarding Europe and North America, but KAS Media Africa just released two books on media law for Africa.

Journalists, broadcasters, and publishers can use this collection to know how to best cover an event. You no longer need to be unsure of the legal environment. Knowing your rights and the media law for your country is essential. A new resource is available for just that purpose.

Justine Limpitlaw’s four volume collection on Media Law for Africa describes the current state in 16 nations of Eastern and Southern Africa. This collection opens the door for writers and broadcasters to know what is expected by the courts and governments of African nations, and what reforms need to take place for further protection of the media in these countries.

The “Media Law Handbook for Eastern Africa” (two volumes) and “Media Law in Southern Africa” (two volumes) are both available for free on the publisher’s website.

Learn more and download your copy here

terms
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Writer and editors have various terms and jargon that go with the profession. Here are just a few of the commonly used terms and their definitions.

Article tracking form: A form used to follow the progress of an article through the production process.

Big picture editing: Editing with attention to the overall structure.

Callout: A quote from the article printed in large type. It is usually placed on the second or subsequent spread of an article. Callouts serve as a design element and create reader curiosity about the article content.

Editorial plan: A detailed description of the magazine’s content, including what types of articles will appear and descriptions of regular columns and features.

First rights: The right to publish a work the first time, after which publishing rights return to the author.

Guidelines for writers: A written statement describing how to submit material and what kind of material is accepted.

Magazine profile: A description of the magazine’s purpose, intended readers, format, content, tone, and overall design.

Pass (as in first or second pass): Each incidence of reading through and making changes in an article.

Passive verb: A verb in which the subject is acted upon. For example: “The book was read by her.” In English, an active verb is a stronger construction. An example of an active construction would be: “She read the book.”

Query/query letter: A letter in which a writer proposes writing a specific article for a publisher.

Rights: The legal right to publish a certain work.

Seasonal material: Material that is linked to and published during or prior to a season—for example, Christmas or summer.

Sidebar: A small article related to the main article and presented alongside it, often in a box.

Simultaneous submission: A query or manuscript that is submitted to more than one publication at the same time.

Style sheet: A written description of a publication’s style on ambiguous matters such as capitalization, punctuation, use of numbers, and the like.

Target audience: The audience a magazine is intended to reach.

Transition: A verbal bridge connecting paragraphs or sections.

Purchase one of our manuals that cover writing, design, management, and editing. Each manual contains an extensive glossary of terms.