Archive for the 'Creative Economy' Category

Using social media to connect with employees to promote engagement, learning & innovation

We're extinct? I must have missed the newsletter.

“We’re extinct? I must have missed that newsletter.”

There are tons of articles and proposals out there that tout the benefits of using social media at work to enable communication and collaboration. Companies that are early adopters and embracers of social media for these purposes have learned lessons that can help the rest of us implement social media practices more effectively. These pioneers have help answer some of the questions and arguments against. All the answers are not there, but the dialogue for usage has begun.

If I were to propose social media usage to my own group or department, I would want to have a good picture of how it can be used to help the company meet its business goals. I started exploring this topic a year ago and recently spent the time to develop a brief informational presentation to outline my learning. You can view a .pdf by clicking the image below.

An obvious use for social media in the work place – communicating news

Hopefully the use of social media platforms at work will drive that monthly or quarterly newsletter into extinction. Use of social media platforms as a news delivery tool may provide an more timely effective news channel for employees. Those traditional newsletters that come via email often get shuffled into mail folders or are simply ignored or deleted. I’d like to be able to search for news, past & current, on certain company-wide initiatives via a search engine rather than having to spend 5-10 minutes scratching my head as I wonder where I saw that particular newsletter with the info I’m looking for.

Other uses for social media in an enterprise environment

Traditional leaders may see social media as a mere distraction, but in reality, it provides powerful opportunities to connect with employees and leverage their knowledge. Statistics show that growing numbers of the world’s population see it as a common way to get the information they need or connect with others professionally as well as privately. According to a 2013 Pew survey, 82% of 30-49 year olds and 89% of 18-29 year olds use social media. For these people, it’s not odd to get news or connect with others this way. Consequently, they would be open to a growing number of uses for social media in a business environment:

  • Carefully guided but authentic application of social media tools such as polling and discussion can empower change management initiatives in an organization
  • It can also be an effective tool in building employee engagement by sharing business goals and asking employees to demonstrate or showcase where they fit in to these goals. Providing sounding boards for authentic discussion and opportunities for executives to listen and respond can build goodwill and engagement in the workforce. (This requires leaders who understand how to effectively communicate using these channels)
  • Highlight and build employee culture
  • Promote interdepartmental collaboration that can lead to innovation
  • Attract new talent (both from sources that are external and internal to the company). Having an outdated social media policy may deter younger talent from applying.
  • Sharing media, information and microblogging can promote learning of concepts, processes and methods within and between departments

Before social media usage is adopted, some homework needs to be done

It seems that successful implementation of SM requires the company to ask change management questions before implementing or even selecting a tool.

  • Are there enough people out there who are willing to experiment but then use it regularly going forward?
  • If not, do you have a set of super users and ‘mavens’ who would effectively model and proliferate the adoption of the platform?
  • What guidance would we include in our social media usage policy both for external & internal sharing? What sort of things are appropriate for sharing? What are not? What language will you use to communicate these rules to employees?
  • Is the company culture and leadership prepared to provide and use the transparency social media allows? Are they effectively trained in how to do so authentically?
  • What strategy will be used to engage employees and organizations at all levels of the company?

These are just a few questions that can be asked as part of a needs analysis. The presentation I’ve linked below examines some possibilities for engaging all levels of a company (Slide 5). Thanks to a very helpful article/whitepaper from EY Performance started a matrix of social media tools that can be used in an enterprise environment (Slide 11). I would caution any group or decision makers who are looking at implementing a social media strategy not to look for that ONE tool or platform that does everything. From my own experience and research it seems that there is not a one-stop-shop (at least today).  In the future, to continue this exploration, I’d like to outline some best recommended practices for both selecting a social media toolset and then recommendations for training all levels of a company in how to use social media effectively and safely.

I’m also working on developing most of the content from the slides shared below into an infographic. Creating simple infographics is another item on my own personal development checklist.

Screen Shot 2014-12-07 at 3.52.28 PM

Using Social Media at Work to Connect with Employees – Google Slides

CEOs: Scratch the learning from the past. Embrace lifelong learning in your workpace

This environment did not train the workforce we need today and tomorrow:

OldSCHOOL

 

We need to start fostering a learning environment and culture within our own organizations that encourages life long learners. Without this culture & environment we will not be able to generate the innovation and solutions that allow us to be leaders in the market yet alone keep up the pace demanded by changing technologies and a public who demands inter-connectivity via technology. 

Learning organizations both grow and attract star innovators and performers. Organizations that refuse to change wisely & rapidly often fade or fail. There are no magic bullets when it comes to developing a learning culture and environment. It’s really damn hard work, that doesn’t seem to pay off immediately, but it does require a vision and courage to change.

 

Slideshare: Meeting the Needs of a Rapidly Changing Workforce with the Learning Organization of the 21st Century

Looking at a Shogun’s Leadership/Partnership Lessons from a 21st Century Lens

21st Century advice: Freedom of Speech  at Work Requires Partnership from Both Ends

I have been sitting on this blog post for some time now. And now with the summer coming to the end, I finally find some time to finish it. After working in training and development for over 15 years, I’ve been exposed to a lot of leadership development programs. And some programs really emphasize the importance of an open door policy, but it’s not always possible to exercise it without willingness and buy in on the part of leadership. On the other hand, people who follow need to realize that the open door is a gift that should be used wisely.

Leaders should have a truly open door and be prepared to hear the good with the bad

One of my favorite stories from Japanese history is a simple story about listening and leadership…

One day while walking through his palace grounds with a retainer, the Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu met a low level soldier from the ranks. The soldier had a comment to say on his regiment. When the man had finished and walked away, Ieyasu’s retainer commented with shock, “What a waste of time. How dare he address you on such a petty and insignificant manner.”

The Shogun remarked frankly:

“It took a great deal of courage for that man to approach me. If I did not listen to him, he might not ever do it again.”

 IeyasuTokugawaShogun

Tokugawa Ieyasu – Japanese Shogun who helped unite feudal Japan

With the simple gesture of listening, Tokugawa sent a message to all of his followers low and high, that they could be heard. They could speak up (within reason, of course). The most practical reasoning for this was if he had no true visibility to the workings of his court, he would not be able to guide and manage them effectively. He was probably savvy enough to recognize that his ability to lead effectively could be impeded by courtiers seeking to pander to curry favor.

In hierarchical structures and cultures of leadership that are top down, a truly open dialogue is painfully difficult if not impossible.

Followers to Leaders: don’t treat us like we’re still in middle school. Encourage an open dialogue with us

When I taught middle school students, every year I encountered at least one student who would express their dissatisfaction with rules or my decisions as a teacher aloud. I met one or two who insisted that in expressing their dissent they were expressing their freedom of speech.

Engaging in this kind of argument with anyone let alone a young person who’s testing the boundaries around them can seem like a sticky wicket. I’ve met teachers who avoid giving their students choices simply because of this fact.

I get this sense from many people in leadership positions regardless of their level or profession that there is a hesitancy to allow people to speak freely because they fear the result of this freedom, namely disagreement and even expression of dislike and resentment. This is old school leadership that can be defined by that phrase: “It’s my way or the highway” or the “buck stops here.” In the age or rapid market changes due to technology this management mechanism is too slow and inefficient to allow for the innovation and change needed to keep up and excel the market demands. Collaborative leadership should replace the old school top down model.

21st Century Advice: Don’t fear an open dialogue with people at all levels. Embrace it.

However, if we operate with the fear that people will revolt if we give them too much lee-way in expressing their feelings and opinions, then we gain our ability to control and dictate but loose our ability to lead and influence. The first option allows us to have our own way, the second makes allows those we lead to become self-sufficient and make their own decisions or act freely and efficiently to achieve the whole organization’s goals.

Leaders to Followers: use the opportunity to speak to share the issues and work with constructive solutions to solve them

But there should still be implicit rules of partnership built in any dialogue between leadership and workers and the focus must really be upon collaboration to make the organization’s goals and mission possible.

21st Century Advice: Align yourself with your company’s mission and goals,
but also find where you bring value and express this.

For those of us who are exercising our “Freedom of Speech” with our leadership, it’s important to not only be fully appreciative of the opportunity to do so, it’s good to be mindful of how we’re framing our words.

  • Are they thoughtful?
  • Are they constructive?
  • Are they forward thinking? Not focused on what happened or how things are with the past but defined by new possibilities for the future.
  • How can we help drive achievement of the organizations success? How can we be an asset?

Additional Reading & Resources:

How traditional leadership structures can destroy creativity and innovation:

http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140707105756-681714-13-ways-to-destroy-creativity-and-innovation

Ieyasu Tokugawa quotes:
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/t/tokugawa_ieyasu.html

The Patience of Ieyasu Tokugawa:
http://hanofharmony.com/the-patience-of-tokugawa-ieyasu/

Why you shouldn’t panic about robots & software taking your job… just yet

Elon Musk of Tesla has recently noted that Artificial Intelligence poses an Arnold Schwartzenegger sized threat to our well-being as a species. However, for now…People will always be needed when navigating through the complexity of emotions and unpredictable human interaction is needed.

I’d like to expand more on the list and its description below or add to it. So this post is just an initial exploration of this subject.

So how do you insure that you have value in your organization once the move to automate work and tasks begins?

  1. Remember that successful businesses rely on people – Therefore, shine where people, humanity & emotions matter. All that talk on the value of Emotional Intelligence is relevant in the upcoming techpocalypse. Robots or software still can’t manage people. They also can’t read and respond to emotion… (yet. That’s a joke – sort of I think they may be working on robots that can emote and respond to emotion).
  2. Demonstrate your ability to make key decisions or act when processes and procedure come up short or doesn’t work. – Any task or process that can be documented or automated is up for grabs where automation is concerned.  – EXAMPLE: Creating standardized reports from excel data. 
  3. Become an innovator or connector of ideas or ways to improve process to meet your group’s business needs. Most software & robots can’t innovate or come up with innovative ideas. As the article posted below states your ability to be creative sets you apart from automation.

 

EmpathyvsRobots

Images from the Morguefile

 More to think about (related posts):

Great postHow to Keep Software from Stealing Your Job

SlideShare – 17 Cartoons That Will Change Your Business by @BrianSolis @Gapingvoid from Brian Solis Slide 18 of this presentation really speaks to the importance of empathy and solving real problems in business. Sometimes the best solutions come from solving human suffering or difficulties and “that requires empathy.”

Traditional leadership just won’t do – we need collaborative leaders

Traditional leadership just isn’t going to cut it anymore if we want to build a collaborative and engaged workforce that generates winning ideas that will help us find innovative solutions to achieving affordability while staying ahead of our competition.  We need to re-examine how we lead our people.

A few differences between the leaders of the past versus the ones needed today and tomorrow:

  • Traditional leaders tend to hoard information while collaborative leaders embrace transparency & openly share knowledge – Under a collaborative manager, staff get answers and can build solutions faster without having to always ask for information.
  • Traditional leaders drive or lead in offering solutions to their team while collaborative leaders encourage suggestions and ideas from their team – Collaborative leaders sit back and listen and encourage creative solutions from their people. They don’t always drive the solutions or discussion and create a “Yes” culture. More, they trust their people (whom they’ve selected, hired, or developed) to bring the best solutions to the table.
  • Traditional leaders fight fires and focus on symptoms while collaborative ones seek to uncover the root causes of issues – Collaborative leaders are often asking “why?” They also encourage their staff to as why &  find the causes of issues or innovate better and more efficient processes. Traditional ones often are resigned to work with the systems and environment as the are and NOT challenge them.

 

Read more about the differences between traditional & collaborative leadership  – Differences between Traditional & Collaborative Leaders

The Leadership Secret that will Help You Super Charge Your Team – How honing your Emotional Intelligence can help you manage and build a team that’s positive and collaborative.

Image from Innocentive

TraditionalvsCollaborative

You’ve got diamonds in the rough, you just have to look for them

Sorry for the long hiatus from my blog life.

Wow, that’s an understatement, at almost 10 months with no writing or sharing.  I hope to be more attentive to this blog in the near future. It’s been too long.

Since I have been fascinated with the idea of the odd man out in corporate culture since I started working there over 15 years ago, I started crafting a story/presentation on the value of “Outliers & Misfits” within a corporate setting.

If you’re to summarize the message in three lines it would be this:

  • If you’re a CEO, manager, or leader, learn how to appreciate the value that these outliers can bring to your company or organization. Learn how to engage or entertain alternative perspectives.
  • Understand that their misfit energy & ideas should be channeled according to your business goals, and learn how to do so.
  • If you’re an outlier or misfit, then learn how to communicate clearly so that your ideas align with organization goals. And don’t forget to find a champion.

 

 

Digital Artefact: The Future of Learning #edcmooc

I think I’ll have more time to reflect and comment on my artefact and the experience of making it in a few days, but for now here it is.

http://prezi.com/eaixra1t5vnf/future-of-learning/

Frontpage of digital artefact for #edcmooc

Digital Artefact for my “Elearning & Digital Cultures” class

 


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