Month in Review: September 2021


We officially closed out summer with another month of hot topics on the blog. Check out some of our favorite articles from September.

Steps to Dealing with Aggressive Customers
As a small business owner, you carefully consider the policies you institute at your workplace. But not everyone will agree with every decision you make for your business. Occasionally customers may even turn aggressive—we've seen this happen recently in response to mask policies.
Here are steps to take when faced with aggressive customers so these situations can go from hostile to harmonious as quickly as possible. 

BBB Business Tips: Requiring Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination from Customers
It's a question on every business owner's mind these days: To require vaccinations or not? Our newest MYB contributor Better Business Bureau Serving Greater Cleveland recommends the following tips to help you develop and implement a plan for requiring your customers to be vaccinated.

FAQs With Phil: Why Do My Employees Stink at Communicating? And… How Do I Get My Company to Rock at Communicating?
We’ve received so many questions pertaining to effective communication among teams and across all levels that it warranted its own mini-series, which we wrapped up with the last two articles in September.

You have that one employee who appears unengaged, and maybe even a little rude. But could it be that they are lacking good communication skills? In the second article in this three-part series on workplace communications, we focus on reasons why your employees may be poor communicators.

And… In the last article of the series we provide 10 tips to excellent communications. Check them out and you'll be well on your way to confidently claiming "My company rocks at communicating!"

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  • Next up: FAQs With Phil: How Do I Get My Company to Rock at Communicating?

    FAQs With Phil: How Do I Get My Company to Rock at Communicating?

    We’ve received so many questions pertaining to effective communication among teams and across all levels that it warranted its own mini-series. This last of three articles includes 10 tips to excellent communications.


    In this Mind Your Business series, FAQs With Phil, COSE’s own Phil Stella answers some of the most frequently asked questions small business owners and employees have regarding how to communicate effectively*. 

    Reaction to the last two pieces has been great. If you didn’t get a chance to read them, check out Why are Some Leaders Poor Communicators—and it’s counterpart, Why Do My Employees Stink at Communicating?. 

    It looks like you enjoyed poking fun at both bosses and colleagues who were poor communicators. We concluded that many of them were hired or promoted in spite of their communication skills, rather than because of them.

    And the reasons were ironically similar:

    It's not on the “test.” Few organizations place written or verbal skills on the “gotta have” list when interviewing candidates for any level position, unless they’re in sales or customer-facing areas. 

     It's no big deal. Many employers don’t include written or verbal skills in their performance management system because they don’t see that much value in them.  

    They didn’t learn them in school. Most high schools offer few, if any, courses in presentation or interpersonal communication skills. The same is true for many college business curricula. So, organizations must often provide their staffs verbal and written communication training to make up for that. However, as you’re probably catching on… most of them don’t.

    We’ve talked a lot about the causes of the problem, but what about the solutions? What can organizations do about these scenarios? What can they do to make sure they can confidently claim, “My company rocks at communicating?” Let’s find out. 

    Check out these 10 tips to creating organizations that value excellence in communication.

    Excellence in Communication Tip No. 1: It starts at the top. C-level leaders must commit to creating and sustaining a culture that values and rewards effective communication.

    Excellence in Communication Tip No. 2: Or, split it up among departments. If focusing on c-level leaders is too big of a challenge, given the organization’s size and scope, then ‘enlightened’ executives can focus this effort on their respective division or department. So, if the whole organization can’t embrace the goal, maybe the Finance or Manufacturing departments could.

    Excellence in Communication Tip No. 3: Put it on the “test.” A key component of the process is to make sure communication competencies are “on the test.” That means adding these factors to the gotta have list for any open position, no matter the role or level. While they can’t be the most important criteria, they could be the tie-breaker between two otherwise similarly qualified candidates.

    Excellence in Communication Tip No. 4: Add it to performance management reviews. Once baked into the selection process, the next step is to include them in the performance management system. If employees at all levels see that demonstrating specific workplace communication skills as a piece of their objectives, they’ll pay attention.

    Excellence in Communication Tip No. 5: Make it quantifiable. If your employees’ performance evaluations include quantifiable skill improvements, they’ll pay more attention. 

    Excellence in Communication Tip No. 6: Tie it into salary and promotions. If those evaluations directly impact their salary increases and readiness for advancement, they’ll really pay a lot of attention.

    Excellence in Communication Tip No. 7: Readily communicate about communication. Build communication strengths and weaknesses into the ongoing performance coaching process. With each conversation, include what’s working and what still needs more work.

    Excellence in Communication Tip No. 8: Create informal opportunities for feedback. Besides these formal conversations (performance reviews, etc), regularly include informal feedback on specific memos, presentations and interactions. 

    Excellence in Communication Tip No. 9: Offer professional development programs. These programs can include topics such as writing, phone skills, meeting management and presentation skills. Make a commitment to empowering all employees to improve their workplace skills, including communication.

    Excellence in Communication Tip No. 10: Master the skills. Work hard to be a positive model of these competencies to influence staff. Regularly ask for feedback from them on your effort and results. Walk the walk.

    While improving an entire organization’s communicating competencies can be a daunting long-term challenge, simply start small with your immediate reports and watch it catch on and grow from there. Do what you can to make sure you can confidently say, "My company rocks at communicating."

    Phil Stella runs Effective Training & Communication,, 440 449-0356, and empowers business leaders to reduce the pain with workplace communication. A popular trainer and executive coach on writing, communication styles and sales presentations, he is also on the Cleveland faculty of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program.   

    *If you have a question for Phil, please send him an email at

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  • Next up: Governor DeWine signs legislation adopting new congressional district map

    Governor DeWine signs legislation adopting new congressional district map


    Just before the Thanksgiving holiday, Governor Mike DeWine signed Senate Bill 258 (McColley) into law. The legislation creates new district boundaries for Ohio’s 15 Congressional districts. As a reminder, Ohio is losing one Congressional seat due to population loss, as recorded by the 2020 U.S. Census.

    Lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the new Congressional map have already been filed with the Ohio Supreme Court. Plaintiffs argue the map does not pass constitutional muster because it seeks to dilute votes in heavily Democratic areas of both Northeast and Southwest Ohio by intentionally splitting such communities into separate Congressional Districts. However, Republican leaders insist that the new map provides partisan balance based on statewide election data from the past decade, and that there are a number of more competitive districts with this new map than there are with the current map created back in 2011.

    So long as the new map withstands legal challenges, these new Congressional boundaries will remain in effect for four years, as the legislation did not receive the constitutionally mandated bipartisan support from the legislature that is required for a 10-year map.

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  • Next up: Month in Review: November 2021

    Month in Review: November 2021


    We were especially thankful for our blog contributors and their expert advice last month. Check out some of our favorite articles from November.

    A mental health check-in: Creating a strong workplace environment

    An important step in strengthening your team and your business is to assess the mental health wellness in your workplace.

    Our newest Mind Your Business blog contributor, Jill Windelspecht, founder of Talent Specialists Consulting, provides several tips for establishing a safe and welcoming working environment.

    BBB business tips: 7 things you can do to get your business ready for the holidays

    Is your business ready for the holidays? In this article, Better Business Bureau Serving Greater Cleveland provides seven tips to ensuring you are prepared when it comes to seasonal employees, online shopping and much more.

    National Entrepreneurial Month features

    In recognition of November being National Entrepreneurship Month, we highlighted two of our COSE members. 

    After a career in the U.S. Navy and decades away from Cleveland, Destiny Burns fulfilled her dream of opening an urban winery in her hometown. Hear about her entrepreneurship journey and learn more about her unique business.

    What began as a class assignment has grown into a successful tech startup located right here in Greater Cleveland. Find out the steps Everykey's founder and CEO Chris Wentz took to turn a college dream into reality.

    Let us know your favorite articles on Twitter.

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  • Next up: Month in review: October 2021

    Month in review: October 2021


    There were lots of treats on the blog for our Mind Your Business readers last month. Check out some of our favorite articles from October.

    How to use employment brand marketing to boost your business
    When it's time to hire, you want to be sure you are attracting and selecting the perfect addition to your team. Just as you promote your services to your ideal client, employment brand marketing can help you find your ideal employees.

    From capturing your culture with video to creating employee spotlights, use this employment brand marketing checklist to hire the right employees for your small business.

    How to know when it's time to part ways with a customer or client
    Is it possible that the customer isn't always right? Despite your best efforts, there may be times when it's best to part ways with a customer or client. Learn how to determine if ending a working relationship is necessary, and tips to making it as painless as possible.

    BBB business tips: Is your website secure?
    The risk of doing business online has never been greater due to the high number of scams and data leaks businesses and individuals experience today. Learn why having a website that isn't secure is bad for your small business.

    6 things to consider when choosing a website hosting provider
    Hosting gives your website a spot on the internet so people can actually visit it. Where you host your site matters. From speed and security to scalability and support, here are six things to consider when choosing a provider.

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  • Next up: Progress Made to Close the Digital Divide, but the Need is Still Huge: Here’s How You Can Help

    Progress Made to Close the Digital Divide, but the Need is Still Huge: Here’s How You Can Help


    There is some good news to share about Greater Cleveland’s digital divide: Since last August, the Cleveland-area corporate community has donated more than 6,000 computers to PCs for People for low-income families. These donations have allowed students to learn remotely, seniors to attend e-health conferences with their caregivers, and many more to work from home or find employment.

    However, the need is still huge. Currently, PCs for People has a waiting list of families in need of a home computer. At the same time, there has been a decline in PC donations over the past few months. We do not want to lose the momentum that we have generated since August. Our community has made progress, but if we are going to help close the digital divide, we cannot stop now.

    Please continue to donate your used computers and electronic devices to PCs for People. If you have not donated, and your business is interested in partnering with PCs for People, please contact Bryan Mauk, Executive Director of PCs for People Cleveland, at Or if you prefer to make a cash donation, please contribute to the Greater Cleveland Digital Equity Fund at

    Together we can continue to maximize our impact and work to eliminate the inequalities that are exacerbated by our region’s digital divide, but we must keep up the work.

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