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Tips for Putting the Flair Back in Father’s Day and More of Your Questions for April

Like protecting yourself from potentially litigious former employees and how to check your emotions in high-pressure situations.




dad's-day pics

It’s sad but Father’s Day has become a rather dreary little holiday. I would love to hear some ideas for increasing traffic ahead of Dad’s Day.

Dads themselves probably take some of the blame for turning this date into an underwhelming one. It seems they never ask for much more than a power tool or permission to buy a 3-wood. But that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t be thrilled with a new pair of driving glasses or something sporty and protective to wear when fishing. Or that you shouldn’t invest some energy in a Father’s Day marketing plan. Megan Crabtree, founder and CEO of Crabtree Consulting, urges you start by getting your team involved by bringing in a picture of them with their father or the father figure in their life. Purchase a chicken wire frame from a site like Etsy (should be less than $30) to display the images at the entrance of the store. “This brings an emotional/personal part of the experience to the [shop] and it is a great conversation when the employees can share their particular image with clients coming in,” she says

Second, partner with a local bar/cigar company/fitness center to see if you can showcase some men’s eyewear for a Father’s Day promotion.

Finally, do a social media giveaway for the entire month of June incentivizing customers to share a special story with their dad. “This will increase your visibility on social media, promote more likes, and will give you great content to reshare,” Crabtree says.

You don’t have to do all these events in a single year. But try at least one. As Dad probably told you in high school, reward tends to reflect effort.

Recently, I saw a neighboring small business owner pay a high price as a result of what seemed like a petty lawsuit involving an aggrieved former employee. How can I protect myself against the same thing?

There’s nothing you can do to ensure you never get sued, but there are steps you can take to limit the costs of defending a legal claim. If you’re worried about employee lawsuits, you can buy liability insurance that specifically covers such actions. Or you can institute a severance program that awards a standard payout to employees who sign a release vowing never to sue you. Small claims and local courts are increasingly pushing parties to take their cases first to a mediation program. You can support this by including a binding arbitration clause in contracts. That will keep disputes on the fast track and out of court. Keep up with labor laws and start the search now for a lawyer who knows the business.

What to do with a top performer who is high maintenance but not an out-and-out jerk?

Show them the carrot. And don’t sweat the small stuff. As long as the person is not putting you in a position whereby you are transgressing your company’s core values, or making your life miserable, then consider it a case of individual man/woman management. Top salespeople respond to incentives and other staff will not object when someone is rewarded for being clearly good at something. Just make sure all your employees have an opportunity to show off their strengths too.

I don’t seem to be able to check my emotions in high-pressure situations. Any suggestions?

Instead of telling yourself to calm down — the conventional approach — turn the dial in the other direction, says Harvard Business School’s Alison Wood Brooks. Reframe that nervousness as excitement. So instead of saying “I am nervous about making this pitch,” say “I’m excited about making this pitch.” Writing in Harvard Magazine, Brooke says it works because nervousness and excitement are similar. They’re both high arousal emotions, but one is negative and the other positive. Calmness, meanwhile, is a low arousal emotion and it’s tough to shift from high to low. “What you’re better off doing is reappraising an emotion that’s similar and turning a threat into an opportunity,” she says.

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