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.

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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.

The Dress Story

As I shopped for a dress for our daughter’s wedding I experienced the “shop till you drop” phenomenon and actually had no luck.  I didn’t want a “mother of the bride” dress; that’s just not my style.  I needed something with movement, yes, that’s what I was looking for, something with movement!  After exhausting myself and anyone else who was willing to trek around with me, I had an idea worth exploring.

I am not a pack rat but do hold things I feel have value.  In the back of my closet I had a dress I wore to my sister-in-law’s wedding 36 years ago.  I saved it because it was beautiful–beautiful material, beautiful style, and it had movement!  My daughter even agreed this could be the dress!  Her comments gave me hope but it needed some work to update it a little.

We took it to a reputable designer and she felt it didn’t need much!  This option saved us money, and I got to wear a unique dress that couldn’t be found in any boutique anywhere in the entire world, at least not in 2009!

So I guess you could say I recycled the dress.  

The Challenge

And now here is the challenge to you. If you have been a successful company or organization for a while, I bet you have some things you could recycle in 2009 with a little updating using technology and ingenuity!

Maybe something in your business just needs a little dusting to be brought back to life.  Is there an employee recognition program that was successful 10 years ago and could possibly breathe new life into your business environment?  Employee engagement is the new terminology, but the concept has been around forever. 

How about a newsletter or hotline on “opportunities for improvement” that may have been part of the quality movement back in the ‘90’s.  Can you recreate it using Twitter or texting where employees send ideas as soon as they see them? 

And how about an awareness campaign to promote your message, but rather than posters you create video messages using YouTube; it could even be a contest.  Imagine the buzz around the most creative entries. 

Anything is possible.  Just think back to something that worked really well for you before and maybe, just maybe with a little tweaking it could work even better now!

Consider recycling; it has many benefits including helping you be a good corporate citizen, and providing potential cost savings to you and your organization.  Why not look through that closet! You might be surprised what you find.

Let us know if you have an old idea that you decide to recycle.

Need to discuss movement of ideas in your business? The W Group ensures its clients’ messages are visible, heard, and understood.  Awareness is step one, but you really are only successful when there is a behavior change….movement from acknowledgement to action.

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

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