How Is Your Culture

Every company should always be cognizant of their company culture, no matter the size of the organization.  In these turbulent times, it is even more necessary to focus on culture.  Not only for the obvious reason of keeping productivity levels strong in a difficult market but also to keep happy employees for when the job market rebounds.

Currently working individuals are sought after in any market.  This is not to say that if you find yourself currently unemployed that you are neither less important nor less valuable, there numerous circumstances these days for employers to consider.

For those whom are currently employed, there is more of a “woo-factor” that needs to happen with the talent seeking companies.  Why?  If you are currently working then you really don’t HAVE to make a career move and you are typically better able to compare; the company’s, available projects, salary’s, benefits, work environments or whatever maybe of personal importance to you.

Having said this, if your corporate culture is not strong or conducive to your current employees then their wiliness to explore new opportunities or to actively job seek once the market improves is greatly increased.

Don’t assume that because your employees have a job and that they are busy that they are happy.  Managers need to be engaging and open to all sorts of conversations, especially now.  Attrition is a natural part of any business but retaining performers is also critical.

Make sure to keep your employees engaged, interested, and open to conversations.  Feedback can be difficult to digest which means open conversations are a must.

A great example is with a conversation I had  recently with one individual who said that her manager took her out to lunch for an open table conversation and that he wanted to know her thoughts and concerns.  She was very hesitant to participate but took him at his word and she did have a difficult conversation.  It sounded to go well and some minor changes have already been noticed in her office.

I love this for a few reasons.  First, the conversation was set up as a non-career threatening, open table conversation.  Second, the conversation took place outside of work to make it a bit more relaxing and less formal.  Third, the manager listened, was not defensive or aggressive, and began to make positive changes to his employee.

This is a learned process for everyone, and a trust factor must be there to have a real conversation, but it is good to keep that communication line open.  You may need to begin with short conversations and slowly expand them as the trust level increases.  As I said previously, the goal is to retain productive employees.

Treat your employees with respect, take time to learn their interests and passions, and help them with these areas (if possible)… then watch them remain a happy employee.

There are many ways to improve a business culture, how can you make a positive impact on retention?

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Me 2.0 – my review and thoughts

While on vacation I took the opportunity to read Dan Schwabel’s book, Me 2.0 and it left me with a really positive feeling and outlook.  Dan provides the reader with some great insight into personal branding through social media and social networking.

Although this book is geared towards Dan’s expertise of Generation-Y, or Millennials, other generations (like me a Generation-X guy) can pick some good insight out as well.

Below are a couple to areas I really enjoyed in the book, I am only highlighting a few as I don’t want this to be an essay!

Excellent points:

  • Social networking – excellent overview to numerous sites, why it is important to manage your brand and how best to effectively manage.
  • Security – great points on internet security and how to try to reduce your risk of being affected.
  • Social media – setting up your own web site, blogs, how to interact with others effectively to further push your message and brand into the market.
  • Passion – be passionate about you because that is really what it is all about!

Points I tend to disagree with (from an HR perspective):

  • Cover letter – most recruiters today tend to bypass the cover letter and head straight to the meat of the resume.  If you are contacting a recruiter directly via email then use the email body as your cover letter.  Also, highlight why the company will benefit from hiring you.
  • Résumé – Dan recommends including a lot on your resume and I have the opposite approach and recommendation.  Sure, your resume is the tool to get in the door but don’t oversell so that there isn’t much to add in a resume.  A resume is a sales tool to get in the door to sell your brand.

I firmly believe this is a great read and an excellent resource for anyone of any generation considering their personal brand.  Again, this book is geared towards Gen-Y / Millennials but anyone should be able to pick and choose the ideas that work best for their own personal goals.  The value of this book for anyone wanting to consider their personal brand is priceless and, yes, some information maybe review but there are plenty of new ideas to consider.

Worse case scenario, this is a topic that will stay in your mind in a very competitive world (regardless of your industry) and you will continue to refresh your mind and maybe even encounter some new ideas along the way.

Karma and Ethics – Live It, Love It and Watch Out

Time for me to vent on a personal event and work it back into the HR mold…

 

Something weird happened the other day with my son and our neighbor.  My son was outside playing while my mother was watching him and he wanted to visit his friend across the street.  The Dad said that his son wasn’t home because he was off visiting his grandparents.

Great, no problem…

… Problem.

A moment later, the same little boy who was off visiting his grandparents was running in their back yard and my son saw him.  What???!!!!  My son asked to play with him yet again and was then told that the little boy was visiting with neighbor and couldn’t play right now.

… Big problem.

My Mom asked my wife and me if everything was okay between with our neighbors to which we thought they were responding a bit quizzically.  Then we were hit with this news and we were appalled.

Seriously, you are going to lie to a 3 year old?  Needless to say things are just weird now with our street and the dynamic has certainly changed in our approach with them.  The difficult part is that my son still wants to play with his friend, for which I don’t blame him, especially since that little boy was not a part of what happened.

If the Dad didn’t want my son to play at that particular time, just say he can’t play right now and that he has a friend over.  No worries and everything remain copacetic.  By lying just made this instantly difficult and awkward.  What could have been an easily resolved situation by simply stating that his son was busy with a friend has now evolved into a complex dynamic.

My neighbor is a business man and I am seriously trying to understand how he is able to freely say this one moment and in the next moment be caught in a lie… TO A 3 YEAR OLD!!!!!  How do you deal with your customers then if this is just a spur of the moment thought?  Are you so willing to put yourself in a peculiar position with them or just with the people you live around?  I’ve got to think if this happened in such a minor and insignificant instance that this has to be a bigger pattern rather than just an isolated case.

As you know that in business this is completely unacceptable and huge issues could/would arise from such a careless moment of stupidity.  Depending on if this was an internal happening or an external client encounter; this could jeopardize a contract or even your job.  Is it worth it?

A lie is a lie is a lie no matter how big or small so take heed to what you say.  As is the word today with social media, branding is everything and his brand is apparently summed up in one word… untrustworthy.

Facebook Branding, When to Begin Branding

It seems that every social media outlet is going with the vanity pages.  LinkedIn did this very early on when and I remember doing this as soon as I signed up.  I didn’t give it much thought and ended up with a very generic name, however due to their smart foresight, LinkedIn allows the user to change their vanity URL, which is a terrific move if you later want to rethink your branding.

Twitter also has a vanity URL but that is automatically assigned as soon as you select your handle and then it becomes your default address.

Now, Facebook has opted into the personal branding/vanity URL world and as of this past Saturday members were able to register their own address.

All of this activity really led to my pondering my personal brand.  My personal branding began in college, when personal branding was never a fragment in my mind.  The handle choices I made over 10 years ago are absolutely continuing to drive my brand today… like it or not.  For me, fortunately I chose something that makes sense and I hope is an interesting story to some.  It is also something that I may never be able to change or not to be identified with but it also a way that I am able to be easily identified.

Do you consider your personal brand?  No matter what company you work for, you are the brand representing the company and you are the trusted advisor.  We as a whole need to consider this at an earlier stage in life instead of being “that guy” who selects the funny vanity plate.

Why Companies MUST Create A Social Media Plan

As you already may well know (but to refresh your memory), there are five types of consumers as defined by the Product Diffusion Curve; (1) innovators, (2) early adopters, (3) early majority, (4) late majority, and (5) laggards.

According to the model, five different groups of people will purchase your product (or in this case move to social media) at different stages of the product’s life:

  1. Innovators: Members of this group include in-the-know consumers who are willing to take a risk on a new product.  Innovators either have a pressing need, or are wealthy enough not to worry too much if the product doesn’t work.  They’ll most likely be knowledgeable and self-confident and (if they’re to be influential) may be people that others look up to.
  2. Early Adopters: Members of this group gauge the response of the Innovators before rushing in purchasing a new product.  They’ll probably be educated and somewhat product savvy.
  3. Early Majority: Members of this group are more cautious and prefer to avoid the risk associated with purchasing an unproven product.  Generally, members of the Early Majority group accept a product only after it has been approved by members of the Early Adopters group, waiting for the recommendations or product endorsements from those who have experience with the product.
  4. Late Majority: Members of this group are more skeptical.  They are late to jump on board and do so only after a new product becomes main stream.
  5. Laggards: Members of this group are more than simply skeptical.  In fact, they generally do not accept a new product until more traditional alternatives no longer are available.

I find myself emotionally in the early adopters ranking but when it comes to action I am definitely in the early majority more times than not.  There are always exceptions but early majority is my honest position.  I care about my money and on what proven technology to chase but I tend to do it fairly early in comparison to others I know… so maybe I’m an early early majority.

This has not been the case with social media.  I really became entrenched fairly early and am as much a student of the various tools as I am fascinated to learn how each works and how each differentiates themselves from the other tools available.  I also jumped into the personal branding aspect and am a believer in this as well.  I like to save articles shared on by those I follow on Twitter and read them later in the evenings.

What I am most shocked and surprised at is how long it takes for local business to enter the social media space.  There is a huge market of locally owned businesses to create an account and provide free marketing and customer interaction and customer service.  The advantages are endless and all it takes is a bit of time.

Have a look at some of the companies and individuals on the sites such as Twitter: Microsoft, Bill Gates, Apple, Steve Jobs, President Barack Obama, Oracle, any number of US Senators, ESPN and a number of ESPN company owned spin-offs, Rachael Maddow, CNN, The Wall Street Journal and so many more that I am forgetting to include.

Some companies are comfortable being an innovator and giving something a try.  Innovators represent the first 2.5% of people to adopt a new product.  These companies tend to have a champion internally who drives this and believes in the result and can influence whomever else is needed to push it into action.  When something like social media raises its head, why not chase it?  Best case, business improves and you are a leader.  Worst case, you get out early and no money was spent (outside of personal time).

Some companies are early adopters and begin to get their feet wet.  Early adopters represent about 13.5% of the total consumer population.  This is after they see a few companies test the waters and determine early positive results and that they too may create something positive from it… but still trying to figure out the best way to do it.

Some other companies are early majority (like me).  The early majority represents 34% of consumers.  We find the early success is proven and now are working to stay up with competitors or the guy next door.  Like I said, I love to be on the brink of technology but I research and read about items to make the best decision for me and how to best utilize it to really make it work.

Others are in the late majority, not a great position to find you in but still showing interest.  The late majority represents about 34% of consumers.  Playing catch up is never good but better late than never I assume is the thought here.  Companies here are typically a bit more on the conservative side and do not always see the benefits of trying something out earlier.  There is potentially too many ideas that come out of this that are viewed as more negative than have been proven to date.

Still a significant amount of businesses are laggards which really is the scariest place to be in this medium.  Laggards represent about 16% of consumers.  This pretty much says that you missed the boat and now need to play catch up to all of your competition and partners.  This is much more of a reaction mode that a company must now join the fold because they cannot ignore this product/technology any longer.

To me, this raises numerous questions about companies who come late into the social media space… Do businesses truly know their customer?  Do businesses know where to find consumers?  Do businesses know how to communicate in an evolving market?  Do businesses market themselves into today’s marketplace effectively?

Companies must engage and be a part of this movement.  Social media is here to stay, just some of the tools to use it may and will change over time.  Make a plan, or better yet – work with someone who can help you with this plan, and put it into action.  Don’t be a laggard into this space or business may pass you bye, get in the game as early as you can!

 

NOTE:  I have truly enjoyed connecting and speaking with many of you on this topic and look forward to continuing to meet and speak with many more of you as well.  (References on the Product Diffusion Curve:  http://www.quickmba.com/marketing/product/diffusion/  and  http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMC_93.htm)