Show Your True Colors

cultureThere are immutable practices in corporate America that are just downright ludicrous.  This is likely no surprise, but now I’ve said it aloud.

On my (growing) list of infamous practices:

 

Quarterly Performance Bonuses

Before leaving my corporate job, I remember starting a conversation in our community about quarterly performance bonuses, and simply asking if the administrative costs of:

  • creating a system for employees to draft their ‘goals’
  • standardized and mandatory training for all employees about how to write their goals
  • implementing a three-tiered management review and approval process of the goals
  • requiring  rewrites or updates
  • monitoring and tracking (particularly in light of the fact that the business environment changed so drastically from day to day that you goals yesterday would likely be irrelevant next month, if not next week)
  • reviewing goals at end of quarterly cycle to validate that employees were successful
  • negotiating and remediating disagreements between bosses and employees re: attainment of goals
  • overriding management decisions to withhold segments of quarterly goal payments for non-achievement (of course, we wouldn’t want to demotivate anyone)

…..was worth all the trouble.  By the time you finished the process on your Q1 goals, you were more than 6 weeks into Q2 and began the cycle again.

Dan Pink says it best in his Ted talk about motivation.

 

Names Not Spoken

I’ve noticed this one for over twenty-five years.  Once you leave a company, it’s as though you are dead (assuming that you left alive and well).  All that talk about ‘being a family’ and ‘we’ll get through this together’ and ‘we really care about you’ is disproved by denying that an employee has ever really worked there by NEVER uttering his/her name again.

Saw a perfect example this morning.  Two people managed a program for well over a year. One of them was ….what’s the current euphemism, released…..  The other assumed responsibility for the program.

Who does the company thank on Twitter?  Who do members of the particular program thank on social media?  The one who remains.

We are corporate-ized to never mention the name of someone who left the company.  No matter their contribution, their value, their imprint or legacy.  It is easier, I guess, for most people to simply put the past in the past and to not re-live painful goodbyes.

For a small percentage of people, this disturbing practice is so obvious, while the majority simply falls in line.  My former colleagues used to wonder why I would intentionally speak about others who had left the company, tell a funny story about them, or credit them for whatever they did to lead us to where we were.

I know I’m not alone in making these observations; but sometimes feel alone in writing them down.  If we want our companies, our organizations, to be places where employees are engaged and active, innovative and producing, then we must begin to QoL (Question out Loud) unspoken practices.

Anyone want to QoL with me?

 

The “Dark” Side of Collaboration

rainbows and unicornsWhen I read  about collaboration, it reminds me of rainbows and unicorns.  But, unless we forget that we are dealing with people, we know that there will inevitably be times when egos rise to the surface, when disagreements stun others into silence, when political posturing overcomes reason.

How do you handle these moments?

There’s no magic to fit every situation, but generally

Acknowledge the behavior (coupled with the time out).  It may sound something like, “Some of you seem to feel very strongly about this issue.”  Often, a simple acknowledgement will bring folks back into conversation.  If folks respond by overspeaking each other and virtually jumping out of their skins, you may have to resort to a time out.

Call a time out.  It won’t always be necessary, but sometimes is very effective in deflecting a ‘heat of the moment’ disagreement. It may sound like, “I know that everyone is passionate about our next steps, now that you’ve had a chance to voice your concerns, let’s take a (day) to consider them and reconvene.”

Engage the silent majority.  While your most vocal folks will invariably and enthusiastically state their positions, be sure to thank them for their participation (seriously and sincerely) and then ask, by name, what others think.

Summarize what you’ve heard without emotion. “There are some of you who believe we should do (b) because of (a).  Others feel we should do (y) because of (x).  How might we further evaluate both options?”

Facilitate agreement, not consensus.  In the end, consensus among people who have strongly divergent interests is not always possible.  Not impossible, mind you, but not always possible.  Work toward solutions that the members of a team can live with.

Document agreements, and distribute to all team members.  No need for a blow-by-blow “Juan wanted to do this; but Joanne thought that……”  but rather “the team agreed to (……).”  This allows one final opportunity for a a team member to state discomfort, but generally it stands as the team decision.

Collaboration is the only way to work effectively if you’re involved with other people to do your job.  But rainbows and unicorns?  Not always.

Any strategies you’d add?

 

 

 

Is This Asking Too Much?

cropped-ties-that-bind12.jpeg

I am blessed to have the opportunity to continue to enjoy my voluntary retirement, return to corporate life, or to do something outrageously different.  This is an awesome position to be in, and I recognize my wealth (not my monetary wealth because I’m just not that rich, but my wealth in family support and love).

There are many jobs posted every day.  My email is inundated with updates from recruiters, job search agencies, and disguised scam artists (and yes, most of us can discern who you are).

If you want me to consider working with your team:

  • Speak with me, don’t interview me.
  • Sell your company to me.  How is YOUR company different or unique?
  • Ask me questions about my experience, but ask me about my life too.
  • Listen.  When I say I’m not all about the money, don’t take that as an indicator that I don’t value my skills….and am giving you permission to take advantage.
  • Stay in touch if at all interested, and if I have expressed interest.
  • Update me on job status; whether you’re considering me or another candidate.
  • Forge a relationship  regardless of whether you hire me; you never know what the future will bring.
  • Be honest.  Blatantly, glaringly honest about your company culture.
  • If in transition, tell me.

Is that asking too much?

What do you Want to Do?

That’s the question I’m most frequently asked these days.  After ten months of a voluntary separation to spend time with my Mom, and, it turns out, to re-assess the use of my time and my goals, the answer is……….

do good

Can it be that simple, you ask?

This journey has taught me that there is so much that each of us can do to make our little piece of the world better.  Whether by visiting a loved one who is ill, helping friends with grocery shopping, visiting random dogs in shelters and dreaming of adopting them, there are opportunities to do good everywhere we look.

I was blessed at my last job to do good; to help people learn, understand and share.  But I’ve added one more person to the list of those I do good for…..me.  What I want, what I need is specific and negotiable within narrow boundaries.  I’m not talking about salary, I’m talking about work environment, the people with whom I work, the feeling of being valued and encouraged to become part of a team’s value.

I’m talking about having fun, a great laugh (or two or three) every day, an opportunity to learn from those with more experience and to offer some innovative ideas and solutions.

It may not be simple to get there but we’ll see. Look at this guy; he does good.

**Set your goals high, do good.

 

** I changed the last sentence on this blog after posted.  I noticed that it said “be good.”  We don’t have to BE good, we can just DO good and the rest follows.

 

Recruiting Belongs in Marketing….Wait

we want you

Do YOUR recruiting ads make candidates feel like this?  I can tell you, from personal experience, that the answer is ‘no.’

 

Recruiting new employees typically resides under the umbrella of Human Resources.  It made sense (note the past tense) as recruiting is the essentially is the front end of the hiring process.

Having  selectively searched for a new  role for about a month, I’ve blogged about the many funny and  frightening job ads that I’ve seen.  You can read about those here.

I’ve come to believe that the recruiting function belongs in Marketing. There, I’ve come out.

Having experienced that recruiting is essentially posting standard issue job descriptions,  let’s just say they are not likely to attract the type of candidate you say you need.  Job descriptions don’t:

  • Make sense as they’re written in corporate speak which is distinctive to each organization and virtually meaningless to outsiders
  • Accurately depict what the job entails but rather describe vague and meaningless job duties with the catchall phrase “and other duties as required.”
  • Reflect requirements for successfully functioning in an organization (collaboration, information sharing, etc.) but rather require proficiency or expert level performance on some type of software or platform.
  • Offer any enthusiastic ‘call to action’ that would prompt me to believe that this may be a rewarding and – forbidden – fun  environment in which to spend my tim.

Recruiters, finding it difficult to get top talent?  Up your game and apply simple marketing principles.

 

How to Tell if Your Community, Well, Isn’t

social media

For all the aspiring leaders of collaboration and community, who invest thousands if not millions of dollars to deploy engagement  platforms – here are ten ways to tell it isn’t working.

 

  1. There are four content posts in your community. Total.
  2. Each of them is written by  the same author.
  3. On the same day.
  4. Some people have read them.
  5. No one has liked them.
  6. No one has commented.
  7. Your Featured content is identical to your Recent Content; both over 3 months old..
  8. The event featured took place more than one day ago (2 if on a weekend).
  9. You hired a Community Guru, Community Magician or Community Maven.
  10. Your page design is lifeless and static.

 

Take the challenge; how did your community fare?

Job Search Disconnects

contentTechnically, it’s only my sixth full day of being…gulp…..unemployed.  There’s a certain level of anxiety that goes with that moniker but also a sense of wonder as anything could happen.  Making this my 2016 adventure!

One thing that I’ve noticed about job ads is that they’re essentially job descriptions.(see http://michellelavoie.com/2015/12/14/in-search-of-the-perfect-job/)

Even as job descriptions, though, there is a great disconnect in the skills required and the position described.  There is often significant weight attached to one learnable skill, with little recognition to the higher cognitive skills required.

Here’s an example.  A great local company  is looking for a Content Manager.  That would imply someone who could take complex content (whether it be data, a variety of stories etc.) and distill it into a more consumable format.  When I hear Content Manager, I think audience first.Who are they?  Where are they? What do they care about?

Only then do I consider what ‘tool’ to use or how to present the content.

Given that I refuse to label myself a PowerPoint Expert, I lost an opportunity to work for a company that I really would have enjoyed, I think.  Oh, I could have lied and said “I’m better than the average user” which I am, but I just couldn’t get over the requirement being the ‘yay or nay’ to a Content Manager role.

From my perspective, PowerPoint is a tool and a much maligned tool at that.  We also have prezi, canva, and lots of other tools that we could use to visualize content, but having the skills to use a tool are significantly different the skills required to  reimagine  content in a way that will evoke emotion, and initiate action.

Tip for recruiters, when looking for candidates be sure to consider all of the components of a job. Asking a candidate to build their expertise  in PowerPoint is much easier and far more attainable than teaching (if you could) someone to take a glut of content and distill it into meaningful and provocative content.

Onto new opportunities!

 

In Search of the Perfect Job

recruitingHaven’t had to job search in quite a long time, and my experience thus far has been very enlightening.

In fact, I think I may have found a new niche market in the area of recruiting.

I read blogs on LinkedIn noting how companies simply CANNOT find qualified job candidates, and simultaneously read job postings that are essentially job descriptions and we all know about job descriptions – right?

They’re ambiguous, they don’t represent the job, they tell you nothing about the company or culture, they’re full of acronyms and ‘insider’ language, and basically leave you cold.

I swear that this is true:

On a leading recruiting site, a job whose Responsibilities were:   Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nullam tristique, mi ut imperdiet viverra, velit erat tempor nulla, quis consequat urna ipsum in mauris. Seriously.

And even those job positions which ARE supposedly posted in English often read:  Support the AM Director by implementing current marketing analytics in advance of ROI and/or the determination of alternative paths.

I get the second one, I’m almost sad to admit.

But these aren’t the kind of job recruitment ads that will grab my attention; that will attract me or make me want to even apply to your company.  I posted a message like this to LinkedIn and someone responded with a reference to Human Workplace.

Maybe some of you might find the help you need there.

If you want great people, BE great people and don’t fallback on the 1980’s strategy of posting job descriptions when recruiting!

When Silence is the Right Choice

silenceOne thing that I learned as a Community Manager was that silence was often the best response to weird, uncomfortable yet guideline-aligned remark by an employee.

My first inclination was always to jump in.  Sometimes, I would contact the employee directly and explain how their choice of wording might serve to incite rather than to engage, or to talk about how they might have approached the situation differently. Never, ever, did I make an attempt to remove employees’ messages but always sought to ensure that employees fully understood that their names, photos, and profiles were out there in front of 46,000 other employees.

At other times, when I began practicing my silent response, I would reach a point where I would reply in the community as a moderator.  Seeking some middle ground in the midst of a dispute (primarily employee : employee but sometimes employee : executive), I would list the areas of agreement and seek to bring people together.

In the end, silence on my part often was the best answer.  Even the most beloved community manager cannot stop a freight train of disagreement from running its rails.

And I wonder if the same is true in life?

What if we were to fail to respond to proclamations of hatred?  To stop broadcasting hatefilled news reports and instead respond with silence. Would that impact behavior?

Refuse to Be Afraid

refuse to be afraidHad an interesting experience on a recent airflight from Iceland to Boston. We were sitting in the second row, right.  The usual assortment of students, tired travelers and children were aboard.

About 3 hours into the 5 hour flight, two men in the front row stood up simultaneously.  One began eating an apple, and they were talking to each other and checking their phones. They stood for quite some time like that, glancing at their devices and looking over the cabin.

Yellow alert.

We began to get a little anxious when the two men approached the thin veil separating the cabin from the flight attendants.  They parted the

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