Tag : communication

I can work from anywhere. Can you?

Do you let your employees work where they’ll be the most productive?  CEO’s and business owners fall into two camps.

One = I trust my employees. I tell them what I expect and I give them to tools to do their job. Performance is what matters.

Two = I think it’s human nature to try to take advantage of lax supervision so we don’t allow for flexible working conditions.

Hmmm. In the war for talent (do you believe there is one now? if not now, is one coming?) it will require us to change the way we think about work. The winners will be leaders who understand the way work is accomplished today and leverage it.

I have a client, a construction company. Perhaps not the kind of company that you might think is on the leading edge of marketing but these guys are so cool, they totally get it. They think about customers first…both the contractors and the homeowners. They are morphing the way they interact with and help both.

Caterpillar Inc. (yes the folks that make the big yellow earth movers) are also leading the way in marketing. How? By creating communities where customers can discuss equipment, business or regulatory issues. Collaboration among customers is cool. Cat gets to learn a ton about what is on their customers mind with very little effort.

All you office people; you may not think that you can learn something from these folks, but you can. Pay attention, the war for talent is heating  up in every industry.

photo credit : O2.com.uk

That Guy's An Idiot: Multigenerational Communication - Ugh

A communication breakdown is common. Sometimes it’s the transmitter and sometimes it’s the receiver. Lalalalalala…

According to a recent article,  people between the age of 18 and 30 (GenY or Millenials) send about 3,000 text messages a month. I send about 100 (I’m a Baby Boomer.)

So while email is the preferred method of communication for some, with 4 generations at work, we run the risk at work of having serious productivity problems if we don’t pay attention and reconcile these diverse communication styles.

To make things more interesting, by 2014, almost half the workforce in the US will be Millienials. The time to take action is now. Do you know what to do? Do you know how to help your team work through these challenges?

One is to get the age groups together and have them talk about the issues. Provide them with guidelines and rules for communication. Hold them accountable for deadlines and projects. Create reverse mentorship programs.

Instead of creating a battle of wills (“those older people won’t learn anything new”) (“those young people are phone obsessed”). Guess what, you also need to lead by example; how’s your iPad?

Photo credit: Sad and Useless.com

Digital Talent Doesn't Want to Work For You... And Why You Should Care

What is digital talent? I’d define it as the very large toolkit that digital natives (those aged 20ish to 35ish today) have acquired by being born at a time when using the computer was part of growing up AND when having access to the Internet anytime, anyplace is expected.

Whether we like it not, this group of employees has a skill set (beyond their computer skills) that growing companies need:  adaptability, a willingness to help and an energetic engagement.

Many companies “don’t like”  that they want to shape their future (interpreted as entitlement), a desire for work/family balance and a willingness to sacrifice  for it (interpreted as lazy) and a desire to make a difference (interpreted as ambition without dues paying).

Check out this article on why digital talent needs to be attracted to your organization from the magazine Fast Company.  “The opportunity to do great things, to make a real difference, is what drives most digital talent. Most companies don’t offer this, so they skip your company and work somewhere that’s more innovative and exciting.”

By innovative we don’t mean you need to have the latest and greatest technology, it does mean that your leadership is committed to understanding digital tools and is willing to learn, collaborate and change.

What can you do to attract digital natives?

  • Give them an appropriate mentor.
  • Give them meaningful work.
  • Loosen the reins a bit.
  • Say thank you more often than you used to.
  • Reward risk taking and small failures.

And for heaven’s sake LIGHTEN UP! Have a little fun, engage them in ‘convo’ (conversation), learn their language, ask for their help and most of all, listen. There’s so much great stuff to learn.

You've Got Email... Not!

I’m old enough to remember the world before the Internet. We didn’t use email because only the Internet removed the need for matching hardware and software –  so prior to the big “I” — electronic communication was largely an internal communication tool for large corporations.

I like to ask people if they find direct mail or email more intrusive and the answer is a resounding, “Email!” So in a couple of decades we went from no email to too much email and now we’re heading… according to some… back to less email.

Check out this article titled, “Tech Firm Implements Employee ‘Zero Email’ Policy, ” from ABC news. It describes how a European tech company is working to ban internal email and replace it with real time collaboration tools like … a “Wiki, which allows all employees to communicate by contributing or modifying online content, the company’s online chat system which allows video conferencing, and file and application sharing.”  They are not banning external email with customers just internal spam and nonsense.

Are you ready to collaborate in whole new ways? If you had to start work at a new company and they asked you to share your thoughts on a wiki, would you say, “Sure, no problem,” or would you stare blankly at your hiring manager.

What are some of the new collaboration tools? Check out Yammer. It is a free private social network (like twitter) that is used by over 100,000 companies worldwide. Little companies like Ford and LG.  And what about those wikis? Go into Google and search for almost anything and add wiki to the search. You may be surprised to see how companies are using this handy technology to develop everything from policies to tech road maps to employee on-boarding processes.

Whether or not email goes away entirely or not isn’t really the issue. How we adapt to new ways of communicating and collaborating is. The rules, tools and expected results are all changing folks. Get ready!

What's the Matter With Kids Today?

Every generation thinks the ‘young people are lazy and ungrateful. That’s just the nature of the beast. What’s happening at work today is 3 (sometimes 4) generations trying to get along at work.

Boomers are workaholics, GenX are more balanced but are still pretty ‘go along with the system’ type folks.  And then there are these GenYers (aka Millenials). I have CEOs and executives asking me everyday… what’s the matter with these kids?

My response to them is, “There is nothing wrong with them.” We expect them to somehow automatically know what to do at work; how to dress, how much time to spend on their phone, when to show up, etc.  We get upset when they don’t do everything we think they should.  How would they know? Osmosis? I can only speak for my own 2 ‘twenty-somethings” when I say they have minds and goals that are all their own.

According to CPA success in a blog post about Millenials, there’s a comment I agree with:

“You can’t pigeonhole Millennials as entitled and self-centered. Sure, some fit the bill … but many of them don’t. Many of them blow that generalization out of the water. Many of them are ready — are starving — to lead. All they need is our support.”

What they don’t tolerate well is sitting around, blah, blah, blahing about stupid stuff and not doing anything.  So what are you and I going to do about this? We can complain about  how they “don’t get it” and “take away their phones” when they are work or we can engage them in a conversation about what needs to be done. I am Board Chair of a small non profit and we have 8 GenYer’s on the Board. They are caring, involved, willing, kind and hard working. They want to make a difference so let’s give them a chance.

How about starting the dialogue with an item or two from this list:

  • Life balance
  • Leadership
  • Proactive, goal-focused planning
  • Networked collaboration
  • Embracing and adopting technology

If you have an open mind and heart, I’ll bet you hear some amazing things.  Let me know how it works out.

Image credit: Marilyn Manson Back seat Cuddler