Millennials, is it true? Working hard is not your top priority in life? http://ow.ly/1uvMS

I just read the Pew Research report on the Millennials.  The workplace today is quite a challenge on so many levels and incorporating the newest generation of employees appears to be most challenging.

The Millennials may not consider their job the most important element of their lives but a strong alignment of core values could draw them into your workforce with an engagement level that would benefit all!  But you would have to acknowledge their lifestyle choices.  Parenting (although only 1 in five are married) is their top priority followed by having a successful marriage.

Could you as an employer truly create an environment of  work-life balance?   Fortune Magazine’s Top 100 Best Companies to Work For measures this attribute as signficant in identifying these top-notch companies. Perhaps you feel you have already addressed this issue, but in our multi-generational workforce, an improvement in balancing work and family may not meet the needs of this group. 

To be realistic, as the Silent Generation continues to retire, and the Boomers work on until they can’t anymore, you are going to be hiring the Millennials. So why not begin to address what makes them tick, how your company can attract and retain them, and how alignment of core values can create a powerful and winning situation for all involved.

Let’s take a poll.  If you are a Millennial (18-29 years old only), please share your top priority in life.

Preaching Technology

October 11, 2009

If you are a regular to my blogs you know I turn everyday experiences into lessons for leadership, honest communications and employee engagement. Opening my Sunday paper today was the following headline and story:

PRAISE FOR TECHNOLOGY
Tweeting during church services gets blessing of pastors.

Now I am not preaching to bring religion into the workplace, but there sure is a lesson here, one I have been preaching….You have got to set up “listening stations” at work.  Just like the leaders of this church, you as leaders of your congregation of employees must recognize and begin to address how you are going to hear from them.  It’s not business as usual anymore. And here is a quote from the article:

“The nondenominational church recently started a new service encouraging parishioners to tweet their thoughts, reflections and questions in 140 characters or less via Twitter, the popular micro­blogging social network.”

Wow!  How many of you would have expected that one?  Now I am not saying tell your rabbi, pastor, priest or minister to take up tweeting, or to encourage tweets during their service (but feel free to forward them this blog), but it sure is an eye-opener that life is changing everywhere, even in places of worship!

So here I go again, preaching to you about the multi-gen workforce you can’t ignore!  I said it before, and I will say it again, “How about using Twitter during a town hall meeting.”  Or better yet, use it every day as a feedback mechanism, let’s just rename the suggestion box “TOFI”—Twitter Opportunities for Improvement!  Sure, this concept might be difficult for you to grasp but I am asking you, no begging you, to at least consider it.

What’s your soap-box issue regarding your workplace? Let’s start a conversation to see what you feel needs immediate fixing!  Take a minute and write something in the “reply” section of this blog posting!

Eileen Weisman is a preacher of using technology to hear employees, a communication strategist, a dog-lover, an avid recycler, and a mother of the bride.

Contact The W Group to discuss opportunities for improving the listening environment within your company or organization.

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Listen to the Kid, and Listen!

September 24, 2009

W small only

At what age do we begin to learn from our children?  My friend was babysitting her grandson while she was trying to work from home.  The phone rang, and she took the call.  The very smart three-year old tugged at her and said, “You need to be with me, not on the phone.” grandma

It reminded me of the saying “Be here now.”  Have you heard that one? My own daughter has reminded me of the importance of having a meaningful conversation, a dialogue where each party is truly listening, tuned in, and not focusing on what the response should be, and what they want to say.  How well do you listen?  Are you ready with your response as soon as you hear a few phrases from the speaker?

Listening skills are critical in any relationship, especially in business where using both your ears can help you learn what the mood of the workplace is currently.  The expression, Management by Walking Around (MBWA) was the cornerstone of Dave Packard and Bill Hewlett’s management style as they grew their company, HP.  Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard created a management style that formed the basis of HP‘s famously open corporate culture and influenced scores of other companies in the way they created trust in their organizations. MBWA is marked by personal involvement, good listening skills and the recognition that “everyone in an organization wants to do a good job.”[1]Ultimately, MBWA morphed into Management by Objective (MBO), which gives employees the flexibility to create business objectives for themselves that work towards the company’s goals.  MBO were another sign of trust in the HP workplace. 

Trust in the workplace translates into more productivity.  If you are in marketing, or perhaps a department head, before you begin any campaign, go back to the basics.  Start by collecting data; you need a baseline of opinions and attitudes. With your new knowledge you can assess the situation and create a more powerful program, a program with punch, and pizzazz that will resonate with your employees.  If you have carefully listened to your constituents, your campaign will achieve its goals and behaviors should change.

Some Quick Listening Tips

  • Be an active listener.  Be tuned in to the speaker, show interest
    • Maintain eye contact
    • Nod your head periodically
    • Concentrate on what the speaker is saying and not saying (“listening” to body language is also important)
  • Create a safe listening environment
    • Have an open door policy
    • Practice MBWA
    • Have an email address that you respond to personally and in a timely manner
    • Have town hall meetings with question cards—if time does not permit answering all at the meeting keep your promise to respond in the company newsletter, or the company intranet

And remember the old saying, “We were given two ears and one mouth because listening is twice as hard as speaking.”

Tell us about the good or bad listening environment where you work!


[1] http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/abouthp/histnfacts/timeline/hist_40s.html

________________________________________________________

Eileen Weisman is a communication strategist, a good listener, a recycling expert, a dog lover, and a mother of the bride.  Contact The W Group to discuss opportunities for improving the listening environment within your company or organization.

 Or If Only Managers Invested the Same Amount of Time in their People as they do their Pets

I am a dog person, I love all dogs but I especially love dachshunds.  I have had a dachshund in my life since I was sixteen. Schnitzel, Greta, Hershel, Stretch, and Little Girl have filled my life for over 40 years with love, licks, and lots of other antics.  And now we have granddogs.  Chica is a dachchuahua—half doxie, and half Chihuahua, Saba is a black lab, and we had a princess named Pandy, an English bulldog who recently traveled to doggie heaven.  Our family just enjoys the company of these critters.

Imagine if you worked with dogs, not people. Imagine if you had to manage dogs at your workplace, not people. Imagine if people were more like dog. Would you be a better boss?

Here are some tips offered by a die-hard dog lover on how to improve your business from a dog owner’s mentality.      fireplace

DO YOUR HOMEWORK

If you were getting a dog you would learn about the breed and make sure it was a good fit with your family. 

Before you bring someone into your company, do your homework.   Review the resume, interview thoroughly, do a background check, and have someone else interview the person—see if you both agree it is a good fit for your business.   

GET YOUR HOUSE READY

Get the house ready for the new pet! Create a space they can call their own.

Get your business ready for your new employee.  Let them know there is a place just for them; it might only be a locker, but they should feel welcomed.  Have a strong on-boarding process!  Create a solid on-boarding process that encompasses a welcoming first day, and a 90-day probation period.  Give employees time to learn the company’s culture, train them on the job, and be sure to meet with them regularly to ensure they feel comfortable in their new environment.         

YOUR SUCCESS IS TIED TO TRAINING

Tell me, you don’t expect to house train your dog in one day!  Get real!

Training, training, training. It all starts with good training.  How much time to you invest in training your staff?  Do you have a mentor program, an allowance for professional development, a commitment to a specific number of hours annually for improving oneself?

BEING PART OF A FAMILY BREEDS LOYALTY 

Now I am not suggesting that every time you arrive at work, everyone should run to greet you.

But if you create a sense of loyalty to your associates they will return the affection by caring about the company, which can translate into improving your bottom line.  Engage your workforce, and you will benefit from their commitment to you.

There are more comparisons but this should get you thinking about cross-overs from your personal life to your professional world. And I hope this leaves you with a smile on your face, or with your tail wagging!

Tell me about your pet and how s/he would fit in at your workplace. Would s/he be  the CEO, a manager, supervisor, or hourly employee?  And please forward or tweet this blog to your dog-loving friends! These responses will be a blast to read!

Eileen Weisman is a communication strategist, and dog lover!  Her company, The W Group helps clients create messages that are visible, heard, and understood!

Missing in action.  Yes, the missing part refers to the fact I haven‘t written a blog entry in a few weeks; I apologize. The action in the phrase describes how busy I have been ensuring that the wedding plans that have been in process for the past six month crystallized into the vision we all had for a most perfect wedding.  I could have started with “I have been on vacation” but vacation may not be the most accurate word to define my disappearance from the blogosphere.

Our daughter was married on August 9 and it was a magical moment in our lives.  We were our own wedding planners and using my decades of project management skills, I was able to keep everyone and everything on track.  With a 16 tab Excel spreadsheet by the end of the six months, we tracked our budget, guests, flights, vendors, and just about anything else you can imagine.

As always, I read a lot before diving into this new and very personal project of planning our daughter’s wedding. But as I reflect back on the past six months I think the one thing that isn’t discussed enough is the need for open, and honest communication during the wedding planning process; openness between the bride and groom, the couple and their families (if they are involved in the planning), and the planners with the vendors. How could this be overlooked or under emphasized in all the bridal magazines, and online sites?  Goodness knows, the importance of open and honest communications in the couple’s relationship before and after the marriage is discussed constantly.

We had no bridezilla in our house and we are thankful.  Any bumps we had along the way were planted by our miscommunications, but an honest conversation quickly brought us back to the same page and with a positive result. Being honest with each other, discussing the situation, and moving on quickly made our wedding planning a very beautiful thing for mother and daughter to share.

 But what if you weren’t a good communicator?  Here’s a possible scenario to consider.

You have a budget, but you don’t tell your vendors your price point.  They come up with something that is magnificent, but out of your price range.  You now have a vision of a wedding you can’t afford.  This frustrates you, even depresses you because it won’t satisfy your dream, and you come away feeling sad or inadequate during what should be one of the happiest times in your life.

Can you make the leap from this notion to your business world?  Imagine this…The current economy is hurting your company.  You don’t tell your employees or ask them for assistance in cutting costs.  They continue to operate in an unrealistic work environment, and eventually get caught in a cost cutting mode which might include their job or their co-workers’ job. Morale sinks quickly, productivity is squashed along with morale and with productivity depressed, your revenue-stream is hurt even more.

It is very true; many people spend more waking hours at work than they do with their family.  Are you honest in your communications with your family?  Are you honest in your communications with your workforce?

Your employees know you business.  Be smart and access their intellectual capital and the love they have for your company.  Be honest with them; if business isn’t where it should be, ask them to help you identify opportunities for improvement.  You may be surprised at the recommendations you receive.

We planned a great wedding; you can have a great workplace, an engaged workforce.  Just be sure you include good communications, and two-way dialogue opportunities.  Just like ensuring a good marriage through good communications, you may have to work on it a bit. But believe me it is worth the effort!

Do you have a personal communications lesson that would translate to a work environment?  Please let us know!

Eileen Weisman is a communication strategist, mother, and mother-in-law!  Her company, The W Group helps clients create messages that are visible, heard, and understood!

thumbnail logoWhat is your immediate reaction to those two phrases? I hope you are nodding your head and agreeing with the title. That is a great first step.  But are you walking the talk?

 Listening seems like an easy task, but it really takes a sincere effort to stay engaged while the other person is speaking.  Whether it is directly to you, or the person is talking to a group, get yourself focused on each word because as a business leader you must be tuned in to what is said around you.

 Have you heard, listening is not the same as hearing?  Active listening is a skill. Have you asked anyone who works for you if you possess this important leadership quality?  May I suggest a 360 review? A strong leader would not be afraid of this review process.  Not familiar with the 360? 

Here is a short definition of the 360:  A process in which an employee or manager receives feedback about his or her competencies from peers, supervisors, direct reports, and internal and external customers. It’s a complete picture of the impact one has on those with whom he or she interacts on a frequent basis.[1]

 The 360 is a formal process and should be well constructed to reflect job core competencies. If done well, you can maximize its value. 

 But we should be listening on a daily basis to ensure we understand the mood of our organization as morale can have a direct and significant impact on the bottom line—good and bad!  I wasn’t kidding with the “lecture and lose” comment; it is true.  People won’t be listening to you if they feel you don’t listen to them.

 Encourage good listening in your organization.  Have an open door policy. Create a safe listening environment such as email, a secure voicemail box, or use Twitter. Have town hall meetings and include a survey after the meeting to ensure everyone, not just the extraverts get to ask questions.  Use the town hall meeting survey to define your next meeting.

 Today’s workforce expects you to listen to them in different formats.  With four distinct demographics, you can’t depend on the old ways to keep everyone engaged. 

 Do you think you are a good listener?  Let us know!

 

Eileen Weisman is a communication strategist at The W Group, who helps her clients create messages that are visible, heard, and understood!  You can improve your bottom line by improving your communications.

 

 

 


[1] Linda Gravett, Ph.D. SPHR