Here it is, Thanksgiving, and it is time to reflect on what we are thankful for this past year.  I could share with you how my heart is full of love for my family and friends, because it is.  But it is more appropriate for me to share with you what I give thanks for on a professional level.   This year I want to reflect on how truly thankful I am for the web evolution and revolution.

I am thankful that there are groups on Twitter and on LinkedIn that connect me with like-minded professionals, asking and answering questions that help me grow.  I am thankful that subject matter experts are providing free webinars to share knowledge on social media, marketing, and networks that increase my ability to benefit from Web 2.0 and that allows me to share this new knowledge with clients; we play it forward and that is a really great gift.  I am thankful that conversations happen constantly on web sites and I can make better product choices prior to a purchase.  And I am thankful that restaurant reviews can make my dining experience more tasteful than tacky.

Yes, the new web works for me.  I am in touch with family and friends far and near through Facebook, I am up to date in real-time on what’s happening around the globe through Twitter and based on my research, it is only going to get better.

Open sourcing is allowing companies like Google to improve new products before they come to market.  Just visit the next evolution of Internet interaction at Google, entitled “Wave.” 

And I am thankful for competition and how it drives innovation.  Today Apple’s iPhone is the benchmark for smartphones, and all hand-held technology.  According to PC World, Apple has approved over 100,000 apps and I am thankful that almost 20,000 of them are free.  But wait, there’s more.  We are the recipient of better products because competition is healthy, and Joe Wilcox, from Betanews is predicting that Google’s Android will take the top stop in mobile devices in 2012. Imagine that!

How many of us could have predicted we would be in virtual conversations and in virtual communities 10 years ago?  I am thankful for creativity and thankful for progress.

Here are just some of my favorite sites and sources (in alpha order) of which I am thankful.

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?  Share your thoughts and hopes for social media’s future and what you appreciate about it today. Share your thoughts and thanks by leaving a comment. And thank you for reading my blogs.

________________________________________________________

Eileen Weisman is a communication strategist, an on-going student of social media, a good listener, a walker, a recycling expert, a dog lover, and a mother of the bride (read previous posts to learn more). Contact The W Group to discuss opportunities for improving the listening environment within your company or organization.

Advertisements

Social Media – Know How

November 10, 2009

I am curious as to how you read the title. Did you mentally put a question mark at the end, or did you feel the excitement of an exclamation point!

Exclamation Point for Me!

If you read the title with an exclamation point was that because you are competent enough to be a “coach” to others, because you are “in the know” on how to use social media for a variety of purposes, and you are “in the know” on places to go, people to listen to regarding getting the most from social media.

Question Mark for Me!

And if you are in the question mark group, perhaps you are one of many who are struggling to understand social media. Asking questions like should I be engaging in social networking, or committing more time to online communities. Maybe you are wondering if there are really benefits to using it for your business. And maybe, just maybe, you are trying to put your arms around how to learn to use this new technology.

It’s All About the Conversation!

Whether you felt an exclamation point or you were hoping for a lesson on social media because of your questioning of this new world, here is the root of social media. It’s all in the conversation. I am challenging you, whichever side of the fence you are on, to join in conversation. Share your favorite websites, LinkedIn groups, people to follow on Twitter, etc. that have helped you grow in your knowledge on social media. For those of you wanting to join in but didn’t have anyone to ask, here is your chance! Post your questions. Let’s start talking about what works, what doesn’t, and try to help each other out by breaking down the barrier to social networking.

One request: please post your comments on this WordPress blog site where it asks you to “leave a comment/reply.”

It will be much easier to follow the conversations if they are all in one place.
_________________________________________________________________________________

Eileen Weisman is a communication strategist, an on-going student of social media, good listener, a walker, a recycling expert, a dog lover, and a mother of the bride (read previous posts to learn more). Contact The W Group to discuss opportunities for improving the listening environment within your company or organization

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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!