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

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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!

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

thumbnail logoNo I am not getting kinky with you and if that is what you expect, visit someone else’s blog. This is about our new Internet; Web 2.0. The new web is full of passion, passionate people who are ready, willing and anxious to share their opinions, photos, videos, and responses to just about anything.

I attended a seminar the other day facilitated by Ed Schipul, and he talked about this new passion. I was impressed enough to dedicate this blog to how that passion can translate into helping you as a consumer, a business person, an employee, or just as a means to stay connected.

Let’s start with the “stay connected” because that applies to everyone! Whether you are on Facebook, blogging, creating YouTube videos, your goal is to find others who enjoy the same topic, right? You are looking for feedback/comments to see the reaction to your entry. Maybe you are reacting to a news article and you are sharing it. Why? Because you have some passion around the topic and that caused you to share it on the web. If you are not the content owner of the original post, you are probably searching for something, maybe a product review, maybe a discussion on a current event, or maybe you just need to stay in touch. All of those scenarios solicit a desire–a desire to learn, a desire to react, a desire to connect.

Even mainstream media (I am not sure I can call it that anymore) such as USA Today runs articles regularly about social media. “Businesses are beefing up direct communications with customers through social media tools. Communication technology has helped companies quickly, and inexpensively responds to customer complaints, answer questions, and tailor products and services.“1  But let’s be perfectly clear, they are not replacing customer service , they are using social media to enhance their customer service and be able to respond quickly to negative experiences in the hope to turn it around quickly and positively.

So if you are writing on the web, or you tweet, or you blog, I want you to be passionate about your topic; be certain your comments are relevant to your audience, always remember to share your resources (thanks, Ed Schipul), and try to be helpful. And if you are using social media for internal communications be certain your employees can find motivation in your words, and it supports your internal branding messages. Again, if you are passionate it will resonate with the reader.

And I guess I must be passionate about sharing what I learn because that’s what motivates me to write these blogs. Since one of the many virtues I continue to preach is honesty I’ll come clean. I like sharing ideas I believe in passionately, and if it can help one person with their business, or one person with how to make a decision, then I have been successful.

What are you passionate about and are you sharing that passion?

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.

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1 USA Today, June 25, 2009 by Jon Swartz

Social networking doesn’t just belong to the Gen X and Gen Y generations anymore.  The fastest growing segment on Facebook is now the 35-54 year old user—and that demographic includes the baby boomers! That specific metric grew at a pace of 276% over the last six months of 2008 which means if it continues at that rate, it will be doubling every two months![1]  Facebook’s community is growing older each day and with numbers like these, someone in your organization will be joining Facebook or another social network if not today, tomorrow!

With employees joining social networks the question “How Do You Feel about Employees Using Social Networks during Business?becomes very relevant.  As the employer what is your immediate reaction to my question?  Is it a “No, and I mean no!”  Or maybe you are thinking about rethinking your response, and perhaps you may be one of those who haven’t even begun to think about social networking at your company.

It is not possible for anyone to answer the question for you or your organization, but I can provide some food for thought!  According to a study in Australia at the University of Melbourne taking a social network break can improve productivity. This report released on April 2, 2009 states, “Surfing the net at work for pleasure actually increases our concentration levels and helps make a more productive workforce.”[2]

According to Dr. Brent Coker, the lead investigator of the study, Entitled Workplace Internet Leisure Browsing (WILB) can be attributed to people’s imperfect concentration.  “People need to zone out for a bit to get back their concentration.  Think back to when you in class listening to a lecture–after about 20 minutes your concentration probably went right down, yet after a break your concentration was restored.”

In a recent study by Deloitte LP entitled “Enterprise Value of Online Communities Yet to be Realized,[3]” they measured the responses of over 140 companies, including Fortune 100 organizations, which created and maintain online communities today. The communities ranged from fewer than 100 members to more than 10,000 members.

The Deloitte study found, “Communities can extend the edge of the corporation in truly transformative ways  –  tapping into new talent, helping design products and services, providing customer support and, most importantly, building the brand with the customer,” said Ed Moran, director of product innovation, Deloitte Services LP. “The survey data points to some growing pains, but companies are starting to see that online communities should be nurtured and leveraged for real business gain.”

So here is what I have garnered from reading the latest research:

  • People, including baby boomers are joining social networks at an extremely rapid pace
  • Social networking can improve productivity in the workplace if done in moderation
  • Using a social network for marketing purposes can provide talent development, innovative design production, and brand recognition

And therefore, the proposition on the table becomes how to marry these recommendations to work in your organization!  Can you do it?  Are you up for it? The W Group would be pleased to help you navigate in this new world!

I do have a word of caution:  be sure that if you develop this new element of business 2.0, that you avoid the pitfalls of social notworking! And that can be another topic for discussion later.[4]

 

Eileen Weisman is a communication strategist practicing internal marketing communications.  Her company, The W Group creates communication strategies that ensure employees, associates, and donors take notice and take action!


[1] Istrategy Labs  http://www.istrategylabs.com/facebook-demographics-2008-update-its-getting-older-in-there

[2] University of Melbourne, http://uninews.unimelb.edu.au/news/5750/, April 2009

[3] Deloitte LLC, http://www.deloitte.com/dtt/press_release/0,1014,sid%253D2245%2526cid%253D217168,00.html, July 2008

[4] Urban Dictionary, http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Social%20Notworking&defid=3617456