Where Coaching Counts

Browsing Posts published in July, 2010

For those of you who aren’t familiar, TweetDeck is a platform that helps you manage your Twitter account.  It is very user friendly and has become one of my most valued resources.  For newbies, it may seem to tough to understand what’s going on at first.   I recommend you use Google to find tools that can help, like this Twictionary

Here are the reasons I love TweetDeck and why you should too:

Research– TweetDeck allows you to build numerous columns that revolve around keywords.  For example, I search for words like management and leadership.  Any Tweet by anyone that contains those words or is hash-tagged (if you add a # before a word it creates a group and you can search by these as well) appears in this column.  Typically Tweets mention a subject and have a link to an article, post, or video about this topic.  Do you need to research performance reviews or are you looking for ideas to retain your top talent?  Do you need help developing a social media handbook?  Do you want to advance your career by knowing more about your industry than anyone else?  Do you want to know what people are saying about your company? Do you want to see what your competition is up to?  Do you know how your company will be impacted by Healthcare Reform?  Create a column and read, read, read. 

Job Search– This is another area where TweetDeck is invaluable.  Are you looking for a job?  I built a column called human resources and realized quickly that it wasn’t going to serve my purpose very well because it is non-stop Tweets announcing job openings.  We’re talking 100’s of them a day!  I’m not looking for a job, but if I were, I would create columns for every opening I would ever consider and see what pops up.  I haven’t tried it, but I believe you can narrow the search by city, too.  Even without that, I have seen openings right down the street from me.

It Runs All The Time – When you minimize it, you will get a little black box that flashes whenever a new Tweet appears relevant to any of your columns.  It takes a second to skim it and see if it’s worth clicking on a link to check out an article but you don’t have to go to a website every hour to see what you’ve missed.  You can ignore it if you’re busy with something else or take little breaks from your current project to read some valuable info. It also makes a really cool, zingy sound when a Tweet comes in, but that’s beside the point.

It Has Not Screwed Up My Computer (Yet) – I’m always nervous to install and download new things, but this was a piece of cake and so far I haven’t seen any ill effects from using it. 

It’s Really Just Fun! – You can learn about whatever you want but I will tell you, there are some seriously witty people on Twitter!  One of my columns is Severance.  Can you imagine the Tweets I was reading when Tony Hayward’s package was announced?  Hilarious.  And even though you feel stupid laughing out loud at your desk, you don’t feel stupid enough to stop.  Tweets are only 140 characters so it’s kind of like hearing a one-liner multiple times throughout the day.  I actually think it improves my mood.

It’s Great If You’re Not Into Social Media- TweetDeck is a perfect social media tool for people who want nothing to do with social media.  If you aren’t ready to join a bunch of networks and start gathering friends, followers, or connections, you can just watch.  It’s entirely up to you whether you jump in and play or sit on the sidelines.  But while you’re watching, you’re reaping the rewards that are out there simply because a bazillion people want to provide value for each other.

How can performance reviews work if they don’t take into account many of the intangibles that are often not even recognized, let alone monitored?  Let’s say for example you have a team working on a project and one personality on that team has an endless supply of optimism.  Are you aware of it if you do not interact with the team all day?  Can you place a value on that?  Depending on how challenging the project is and the personality of the other team members, this could very well be the instrumental ability required to get the project completed on time and under budget – a positive mindset and  a never give up attitude. 

There are employees whose strengths drive the entire team dynamics but are these personality traits taken into consideration at review time?  Aren’t these just as important as many of the tangible skills required to create a functional and productive team?

A performance review is designed to motivate and engage employees.  Many times they have the opposite effect.  A negative review will lower morale but a positive review has virtually no effect.  Imagine you are working productively and you receive a good review.  Is this news to you?  Do you feel more motivated or do you feel as if you are a professional doing your job and wow, someone recognized that?  Don’t most people believe they do good work? (And many don’t do good work, so haven’t you just increased the odds that most everyone will be disappointed by their review?)

Are reviews motivating to your employees? Can an employee be motivated by a review that discounts many of their strengths?

Does your company have a review process?  Have you been trained to give feedback?  If you don’t think they are effective, what do you do instead to evaluate your employees and their value to the company?

I apologize in advance if this turns into a rant.  I’m about to hop up onto one of my biggest soapboxes.  I am very interested in whether HR is seeing any ramifications yet in employees or applicants. 

What is with the whole attitude surrounding kids’ sports these days?  We can’t keep score at games because we don’t want anyone to know the other team is better than them.  We can’t let kids on the same team compete for starting positions because that puts too much pressure on them.  We can’t punish anyone who doesn’t show up for practice because we don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.  We go for ice cream after every game instead of only when we win.  We can allow kids to practice with their team but not participate in meets or games if they feel nervous. After your part of the meet or game is done, you can leave.  Everyone gets a trophy.

I don’t understand what happened to change the way “competitive” sports (and I use that term loosely) are run now versus when I was a kid.  And what are we teaching our children?

Here is a list of life lessons I learned by participating in sports as a kid:

Competition – It is much more fun to win than to lose.  But you compete mainly against yourself and if you’ve done well, you can feel good about losing.

Goal Setting / Ambition – Lots of hard work pays off and achieving your goals feels awesome.  Once you do, you set new goals.  And you do your best, all the time. 

Dedication – A team is a group of people who depend on you to do your part.

Teamwork  - You win as a team and you lose as a team.  There is no I in team.  Your teammates will encourage you when you are struggling, will teach you things you do not know yet, and will share both your successes and failures with you.   You do the same for the other members of the team.

Commitment – When you commit to being on a team, you do not quit.  You may choose not to join again in the future, but you committed to the season and you will show up.

Humility – Sometimes your best is NOT good enough.

Respect – Your coach is the head of your team and is there to push you to be your best.  You may not like what they are saying or making you do, but they are above you in the hierarchy and you will treat them with respect.  Likewise your teammates, even if they have a bad day.

Sportsmanship – How to lose gracefully.  And more importantly, how to win gracefully.

Coping Skills / How to Manage Emotions – How to manage nervousness, pressure, disappointment in yourself, and disappointment in a team member, just to name a few.

I believe wholeheartedly that we are doing a disservice to our children by the way competitive sports are handled now.  At some point they are going to try to get a job and how are they possibly prepared for that?  We have now taught them that the world revolves around them (me, me, me), they don’t have to work hard to be rewarded, and no one will criticize them.  Their feelings will never be hurt, they’ll never be turned down for a job, and they are entitled to all kinds of great things just because they exist.   Participation is the only requirement to be successful.  Do we want a generation of people who strive for mediocrity? 

This does not even remotely resemble the real world.

Are you seeing the effects of this yet?  When you are interviewing applicants, do they have a sense of entitlement?  Do you find yourself dealing with a lack of these life lessons with your current employees?  Are candidates and employees dedicated, committed, and respectful?  Or do you now spend a lot of energy trying to create this mindset?

LinkedIn is a definite must when breaking into the world of Social Media in a professional sense.   It has become my most used resource for finding information about companies, information about trends in certain industries, and information about people. There have been some changes to LinkedIn recently and I want to offer some resources for learning how to use it more effectively. 

Initially you want to create a profile.  It is very easy and LinkedIn is very good about pointing out the different ways you can provide a more comprehensive and complete profile.  Once you have that created I recommend you visit to scroll through all the different areas, ideas, and technical information to get a feel for how to use this tool to your advantage, whatever your purpose.

One of the best ways to build a presence is to use groups.  This is a tremendous tool that can really help you stand out as an expert in your field.  You can share information, gather information, and create all kinds of opportunities for yourself.  This can help you find a new job or perform more effectively at your current position.  It also gives you an opportunity to follow, connect and interact with the top influencers in your field.  Here is a great resource for learning to use groups. Remember the culture of social media is to give.  Give information, share experiences and give advice.  By doing this you will build a network and provide yourself with improved career opportunities.

With the advent of social media a new truth has emerged.  Companies no longer own their brand.  Back in the good old days (the 90’s, ha ha), a company was responsible for the message and image it displayed for the public.  This came in many forms such as attending conferences, controlling mentions in news and editorial pieces, creating press releases, and by working to earn awards.  These attempts at controlling employer brand are not obsolete but they now hold a lot less weight than they used to.  The people who now control your brand are people out there that you cannot control. 

The most common groups that have control over your brand include past and present employees, vendors, and current clients.  The world of social media has ensured that any experience, positive or negative, can be shared instantaneously and widely. 

Think about your options if you have something you want people to know:  You can send out a Tweet (from your phone, no less), post a status update on Facebook or LinkedIn, comment on an article (including articles on credible sources like newspapers or TV stations), post a picture – the options are practically limitless.  And accessibility to these platforms via handheld devices means the person posting doesn’t mull it over until they get in front of a computer and potentially edit what he or she was going to say.  We’ve always had gut reactions but these are instincts that many times we didn’t act on.  Now the odds are higher that this will become THE reaction.

In addition, a sad fact is that these types of comments are considered more reliable than any good PR your company puts out.  So what if you’ve won an award as one of the greatest places to work?  A few disgruntled employees who are verbal on social media platforms can make this award almost meaningless.  There is skepticism that messages sent by a corporation are true and a desire to embrace the messages of people who have actually “been there”.

This is where Human Resources is so important.  It has long been known that productivity is directly related to happy employees and HR’s job is to make sure their people are happy.  But have you considered the effect of a strong HR department when it comes to company brand?  What if everyone who worked for you, with you, sold to you, or bought from you only had good things to say about you? 

This starts with HR and moves outward.  If the employees are happy and well-treated, they will support you to other employees, both past and present, spread the good word to your vendors and prospects, and reiterate it to current clients.  Now you are taking all the worrisome effects of social media and using them to your advantage. 

Realize that how you treat your employees will be shared instantaneously and often and encourage this.  Spend time on these platforms and learn what people say about you.  Humbly view this material and use it to make improvements when the comments are valid.  Get technologically savvy enough to follow alerts, bring the positive to the forefront, and bury the bad.  But know what is being said.

HR is about supporting people and people are controlling employer brands now.  Start a movement in your organization where you commit to treating your employees right, watch it grow and then show the company owners the effect this will have on your brand.  Soon HR may be the most valuable department in your company.

I’ve posted before about the mindset of the executives in an organization not valuing Human Resources and viewing the department as a necessary evil that costs money.  There seems to be a lot of companies with this mindset who choose to outsource this function.  How does this help and hurt the company?

To me, outsourcing HR seems to be a dangerous statement.  Isn’t this demonstrating a lack of concern for their people?  Human Resources, by its very name, is a resource for the most important piece of any company – the humans! 

I do see potential value in lowering costs by outsourcing some of the administrative functions, such as getting new hires on payroll or enrolled in the benefits program, but isn’t outsourcing an entire department that is supposed to exist to ensure happy and productive employees contradictory to the goal?

Wouldn’t any company want their main liaison between the production goals and the people responsible for achieving these goals to consist of a staff that knows the specific business, has a vested interest in success, and has a solid understanding of the long term, big picture?

Human Resources should be a strategic department designed to increase productivity.  How can you have a successful onboarding program if it is run by people who don’t work directly for the company?  How can you represent a trusting and caring environment if the message is that you hire a vendor to take care of your own?  I think if I were an employee of a company that outsourced HR, I would feel that the corporation didn’t want to be bothered to put people in place who are there in the trenches with me and genuinely want to make my professional experience the best it could be.

HR can be a very strategic department if it consists of people who know employment law, human behavior, business metrics, business law, production goals, engagement – the list goes on and on.  An internal Human Resource department that has these specialties covered will be an asset to any organization and I find it hard to believe that the same level of effectiveness can be found by outsourcing.

According to Wikipedia emotional intelligence describes the ability, capacity, skill or a self-perceived grand ability to identify, assess, manage and control the emotions of one’s self, of others, and of groups.  Conventional Intelligence refers to IQ or the amount of knowledge one possesses.  

Obviously being bright helps your chance of success at anything you do but in terms of being successful in an HR role, isn’t emotional intelligence even more important?  If you know yourself and understand how you react when you are stressed, under deadline or dealing with a troublesome employee you can then take a step back when the trigger occurs, think things through and react in a way that is positive.  Human Resources seems to be a reactive role more than a proactive role so doesn’t it stand to reason that if you know how to manage your reactions you will be a better manager?  

If you know yourself well enough, you know which triggers occur that cause certain reactions in you.  These reactions then affect how you deal with the people you work with and manage.  Once you know yourself that well, you can recognize and understand others’ emotions.  Then you can manage the emotions of others.  Particularly in HR, I would think this is more important than your IQ or book smarts. 

Recent research shows that emotional intelligence is twice as likely as IQ or knowledge in determining which employees will be high performing.  There are also assessments available to identify the level of intelligence.  Do you currently use emotional intelligence as a factor when hiring team members?  Have you found it to be true that people with a high level of emotional intelligence do perform better for the company?

Onboarding has become a human resources buzzword but it seems as if many people confuse it with orientation.  The two are similar, but very different.  In fact, I suggest that orientation is simply one small piece of onboarding.  While orientation is an introduction to a new job and some of the nuances of the organization, onboarding is an entire process designed to immerse a new employee into the vision and culture of your company.  Engagement occurs more quickly and the process is also designed to assist in retention by making sure the employee aligns with the organization’s goals and wants to stay.

Onboarding is proving extremely valuable in many areas where human resources is currently challenged such as engagement, workforce optimization, and retention.  Successful onboarding programs result in an employee who is excited by their role, anxious to begin and feels valued for what they can bring to the table.  In other words, the employee becomes engaged quickly which results in a higher level of production in a much quicker timeframe. 

Recent research shows that employees decide shortly after they are hired how long they plan to stay at your company.  Anything you can do to make sure they feel welcome and valued from the day they are offered a position is going to lengthen the time they choose to stay with you. 

Another benefit of an effective onboarding strategy from the date of hire is the effect it has on counteroffers made by their current company.  If a candidate is offered a role and you maintain contact with them in a very positive and welcoming way while they are deciding, they are more likely to view the offer of a raise from their employer in a new light.  Instead of thinking that they just earned a raise, they are more likely to question why they weren’t more valuable to the organization yesterday.  They will also feel great about accepting a job for a company that is already showing that they value the talent they are hiring.

Once a role is accepted, reiterating over and over in many meaningful ways that the employee made the right choice will do wonders for your engagement and retention rates.

Does your organization have an onboarding process in place?  Have you seen this affect your production and retention rates?  If you don’t have a process established, do you see the need for one and are there plans to create one?