Are Your Employees Talking About You On Facebook?

May 1, 2010

Social Media could be the newest form of decreasing social skills.  In addition to the general abbreviation and truncation of language, many people find themselves stretching their own ethical, etiquette, and social graces far beyond what they previously have done through phone calls, letters, or even e-mails.  Moving past one’s better social judgment in Social Media is a growing concern.

It Could be Good or Very, Very Bad

As Facebook reaches 500 million members worldwide, we’re seeing a constant stream of incidents of employees posting inappropriate comments that reflect very poorly on them and their company’s reputation.  I won’t name any names, but there was a recent case in Tennessee where a company official made racist remarks on Facebook that became very public.  His defense that “I just posted them on Facebook for my friends” did not prevent him from being fired . . . very quickly.

On the flip side, it’s a good thing if your employees are making positive comments about your company in Social Media; after all, they can be your best ambassadors and you want them to feel proud to be part of your team.

Social Media Policies

So how do you guide your employees on what to say and what not to say in Social Media? Some companies have added a few paragraphs on social media to their existing HR policies regarding employee propriety and confidential information; while others have developed extensive social media policies to guide their employees.  IBM, for example, has published their social media guidelines publicly for anyone to read. It’s a great policy for IBM, though rather long.

One thing is certain — CEOs are asking their HR managers to delve into this situation and make recommendations.  I was really excited when I came upon the Online Data Base for Social Media put together by Chris Boudreaux.  Chris has organized a pretty comprehensive social media policy database and more are being added daily.  Among the companies whose social media policies are available on the site are:, the BBC, Dell, Dow Jones, Gartner, Microsoft, the Smithsonian Institution, the U.S. Air Force, Wal-Mart and Yahoo.

If your organization is fretting about how your employees are using Social Media, check out some of the policies in the database to find examples that best fit your business.

Whatever you do, don’t be lulled into thinking that the impact of Social Media isn’t affecting your workforce and your corporate culture.  It is and it’s often subtle but nonetheless moving in directions you will want to work with and shape to your best benefit.

— Dr. Dan Elkins, President/CEO of Strategic Advantages


Motivating Your Millennials

March 4, 2010

Dr. Jay Conner, Director of Enterprise Services here at Strategic Advantages, wrote a very insightful column recently on Baby Boomers managing the Millennial generation.  We are regularly seeing a huge disconnect between the Boomers and Millennials in our consulting work.  Here’s some good advice from Jay on how to bridge this gap and the importance of doing so:

An exasperated executive called us the other day to get our advice.  This Baby Boomer had asked one of his Millennial employees to do some work over the weekend.  The employee declined because it would cut into her “me time” during the weekend.

Baby Boomers, America’s largest generation ever at 80 million strong (born from 1946-64), are in control now.  But there is a tsunami hitting the workforce, the 75-million strong Millennials.  Boomers are desperately trying to figure out what makes the Millennials tick because they realize that their ultimate success depends on it.

We would like to share a few insights in this month’s e-newsletter, but first let’s state the obvious:  Communicating with someone from another generation is often different from communicating within your own generation.  You must recognize, however, that “different” is neither right nor wrong, just different.

It is important to understand the context that shaped the Millennials (born between 1981 and 2000). They grew up in a child-focused society, the products of parents who think they can do no wrong. This generation tends to be “street smart,” adaptive to change, comfortable with new technology, confident, achievement oriented, globally connected, and communal.  At work, they desire independence and autonomy, challenge and variety, continual development of skills, and a fun and collective workplace.

Become a more active listener and teach active listening skills

So you’re leading the weekly staff meeting outlining the week’s priorities and your Millennials are busy with their BlackBerry’s and laptops.  Frustrating?  Yes, but don’t take it personally. These are the kids who grew up texting while playing a computer game while doing homework! Teach them active listening skills and why those skills matter to the other generations.  But also be sure to listen; these young adults have ideas and opinions and don’t take kindly to having their thoughts ignored. After all, they had the best listening, most child-centric audience in history – their Boomer parents.

Explain Your Conversational Intent

Begin your interactions with a concise statement of your intent.  Our words can often get misconstrued, especially when there are generational differences.  Stating your intentions up front (i.e., I am mentioning this to you because . . .) allows the person to mentally prepare for what is to come and minimizes putting the other person on the defensive.

Provide feedback . . . often

The Millennials live in a world of social networking with constant feedback.  They crave positive reinforcement and seek to validate their value to an organization more than any other generation. Integrate recognition and ongoing team improvement opportunities into weekly team meetings to meet some of their needs.

Millennials are up for a challenge and change.

Boring is bad. They seek ever-changing tasks within their work. What’s happening next is their mantra. Don’t bore them, ignore them, or trivialize their contribution.

Demonstrate appreciation & learning opportunities
Millennials will not embrace the traditional training methods. Instead it must be fast-paced, using real life application.  Make their orientation, assimilation and training fun and challenging or you will lose their interest quickly.

Take advantage of your Millennial employees’ electronic literacy

The electronic capabilities of these employees are amazing.  Take advantage of it, but don’t confuse technology know-how with experience.  They may be extremely adept at keeping up with their friends on Facebook, but do they know how to use social media to drive business?  Give them proper training and mentoring.

Sound like a lot of work?  It does take some extra effort and an open mind, but if you properly harness the power of the Millennials you will reap multiple rewards for many years.


“IQ” only accounts for 20 percent of success

January 4, 2010

Yes, everyone wants to shine at work.  Be noticed for doing something well, producing the best product or outcomes, or having the best ideas and plans.  This is natural and desirable. Most of us may think it is best done by being the smartest or brightest one in the mix.  But that’s not the case.  IQ, or Intelligence Quotient, has been found to account for only 20 percent or less of the contribution to success in the work place.  Just pure “smarts” and technical ability won’t get you where you want to go.  So, what will?

Daniel Goleman and others have well researched, documented, and written about Emotional Intelligence and its impact on successful work interactions and careers.  We all are familiar with the work colleagues who slow down, interrupt, or stop effectiveness through a host of childlike or inappropriate emotionally based behaviors.  The list is long, including anger, triangulating relationships, jealousy, hoarding or withholding, passive aggressiveness, and generally flat lining (no emotional response at all).  People behaving with these emotions are not only difficult to be around as they play poorly in the sandbox, they also make the work world far less productive.

What does a high Emotional Quotient look like or contain.  Goleman lists the following emotional competencies.

  • Self Awareness – Knowing oneself, having a realistic view of one’s abilities, and having a well-grounded sense of self-confidence
  • Self-Regulation – Managing one’s internal states, impulses and resources.  Handling emotions in a way that facilitates rather than interfers and recovering well from distress
  • Motivation – using one’s deepest preferences to move and guide toward our goals; having the energy to improve, bounce back, and persevere
  • Empathy – Sensing what others are feeling, being able to take their perspectives, and cultivating rapport with a wide diversity of people
  • Social Skills – Handling emotions in relationships well, accurately reading social situations and networks….interacting smoothly to lead, negotiate, and settle disputes for cooperation and teamwork

People who possess the above five tend to be those with obvious honesty and integrity, show resilience, have unique potential and commitment, have influence without positional authority, possess a large trust radius, and display positive emotional energy.

What if your organization has “hired wrong”, put up with emotional basket cases for too long, or just has a poor emotional climate from one or more emotional polluters?  What do you do?

  • First, training and development must go past its focus on technical and compliance issues to include areas such as self-awareness, personal decision making, handling stress, developing and using empathy, effective communication, personal responsibility, and conflict resolution.  These are harder to absorb.  They are not data driven but must be experienced and ingested!
  • Second, new hires need to be evaluated and ranked/rated on emotional criteria as well as technical skills and pure output.  A close look at job history with the right behavioral interviewing can help.
  • Third, catch problems early before they grow and explode.  Doing nothing allows issues to grow, and grow they will!
  • Fourth, partnering with and mentoring from your highly effective leaders will help.
  • Fifth, one-on-one or small group coaching can be effective.

Whether personally or organizationally, we tend to let emotional quotient issues remain static, assuming there is nothing to do other than ignore, put up with, or just fire people.  Far from the case; as seen above, there is a lot that can be done.  It’s not easy; but, have you tried?


Why working with a business coach is now more important than ever.

August 19, 2009

Ever thought about a business or personal coach?  Sure, you may have considered it for an employee who is in trouble, underperforming, or just stuck…or for yourself for that matter.  Yes, coaching helps in those cases. Whether you are struggling or not, however, business coaching returns significant benefits for both intended and unintended outcomes.  Consider the following information:

A recent survey by the International Coach Federation strongly supports the contention that having a business coach is a worthwhile investment, especially in this very challenging business environment.

The Federation surveyed 210 coaching clients for their feedback on the value of business coaching. Here are some of their key insights:

  • 70 percent believe business coaching is “very valuable.”
  • 50 percent confide in their coach as much as their best friend, spouse or therapist; 12 percent confide in their coach more than anyone else (Hmmm, that’s a little scary!).

Some positive outcomes the clients experienced included:

  • 62.4 percent were smarter at goal setting.
  • 60.5 percent were leading a more balanced life.
  • 57.1 percent had lower stress levels.
  • 52.4 percent had more self-confidence.
  • 43.3 percent saw an improvement in their quality of life.
  • 25.7 percent earned more income as a result of receiving business coaching.

Of the 210 survey respondents, 197 were employed professionals. All had a formal, ongoing relationship with a coach with an average duration of nine months. Over 80 percent of the respondents had undergraduate degrees and more than 30 percent had Master’s degrees or higher.

It’s important to note that they experienced numerous positive outcomes; not just making more money.  On many occasions I’ve entered into business coaching relationships where the client was focused primarily on making more money – at least at the outset.  As the relationship progressed and recommendations were put into action, these clients realized that business coaching can lead to many positive outcomes, such as more self-confidence and smarter goal setting.  And guess what, these outcomes usually lead to making more money and having more fun while doing it!

In today’s environment where many very qualified people are competing for fewer jobs, a business coach could be your ace in the hole.