Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Effective Communication: Crying Wolf

Have you ever noticed that when you are talking with someone about a problem, you both have a different idea about what is happening? Well, let me tell you something, you're not alone! There are so many people in the world, there is bound to be confusion.

Within a business, you need to understand something: Keep it simple! I have just learned this and I am hoping to keep my head down and do it the right way. When you speak with people, only give them the information that they need. If you give someone TOO much information, they will DEFINITELY be overwhelmed and as a result, the classic "Crying Wolf" syndrome will come.

I have experienced this MANY times being in the tech sector. I have seen an engineer explain something, that to him was VERY simple and didn't mean anything, to an executive and then watch as the executive ran around with his head cut off! (Figuratively speaking of course.) The difference is in the perception and description of the problem.

When you speak to an Executive keep the following in mind:
1. Never use descriptive words that involve disastrous results i.e.
"Catastrophic", "Blew Up" , "Doesn't Work", "My plutonium 235 space module is missing!"
2. Always keep things short and precise
3. Never assume that they don't know what you are talking about. They probably don't but you never know.
4. Remember, they sign your pay check, so speak with respect to and about them always.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Executive Leadership: A Cry For Role Models

I have recently heard from several people, that the reason why communication fails in large businesses is because people tend to crate their own clicks and groups that allow them to create a pseudo world of friends and people that allow them to either hold on to or scale the corporate ladder. The tendencies that exist in this type of thought are related to selfishness and moral decay.

When you have and executive leader in a company, I submit that this person should be of the highest and greatest character. If a corporation were to hire a person who genuinely cares for the business and its employees, then the environment becomes one of the best you will find. A CEO should be as transparent as can be. The CEO should be a role model to the rest of the company. They should show the ability to sacrifice for the others and blend into those around them.

Let's look at some of the most successful companies in the world: Japanese and Asian industries. There is something in this culture that all company leaderships should consider: Responsibility. There hundreds of stories of CEOs of major companies in the Asian market who take the full responsibility of the performance of the company upon their shoulders. If the company performs well, they congratulate the employees and give the credit to the employees. If the company performs poorly, they take the full blame, and in some instances are shamed and will kill themselves. Now, I am not saying that CEOs in the world over should kill themselves, but I am saying that the responsibility and accountability of the performance of a corporation should be placed upon the shoulders of executive management. If you have a company whose performance and accountability is not placed on the executive management and they are not willing to be responsible for their actions and point fingers elsewhere, I say get rid of them. They will do far more damage to the company than anything else.

I wish to make this a cry out for people to become responsible once more. Don't forget that we are Human and that every person who interacts with and for a company is Human. We all make mistakes, but it is the character of the individual which is demonstrated when we choose cast the blame on anyone else but ourselves. I call for Executive Leaders to look away from the Money for a moment and assess their Character. If they really understood the impact of their example to their employees and customers, then they would not be doing HALF of what they are doing. However, money corrupts only the weak. If we have someone corrupt in our organizations' highest positions making decisions when they are weak, there is something wrong with us.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Successful Business: The Customer Is Always Right!

Do you remember the saying: "The Customer is always right!" I think, personally, that this should be the way to run a business. If you want to be successful, you need your customers. If you want to be able to stay ahead of the curve and do all in your power to avoid the downfalls of the standard s-curve, listen to your customers.

Every person in the world who works with people will have to admit that they have had a hard time with at least one customer in their life. They will tell you that the customer didn't understand what was happening, that they really didn't understand the problems they were discussing. Although this may be true, there is one vital paradox that is found in this scenario: both the customer and the employee are right.

The customer is describing a behavior and a use case to the employee. The employee is understanding the use case and trying to fit it into their knowledge base. The simple solution to all conflicts in a business is effective communication. If you want to have effective communication then Listen to each other!

Here are some links for some ideas on listening:

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Corporate Communication: Why is it so bad?

Why is Corporate Communication so bad?

Over the past few years, I have come to the realization that there is a SERIOUS problem with corporations and the communication within them. There are so many people who work with corporations, that it is easy for those people to make decisions and create problems with other departments without every realizing this.

A corporation consists of various different departments that are all inter-dependent. The success of one department is based on the other. Every person has their own position and job definition. In theory, each person should be able to perform their job, and when finished, the resulting work will benefit others around them. In essence the Corporation takes its definition from an assembly line. The finished product is a "well oiled machine."

What I don't understand is why do departments not communicate? I believe I know the answer:
Their work-flow and management process is flawed and not properly defined.

So what do you do about it?

When you recognize that the process is failing, you need to step in and assess what is happening. You will probably find that there are multiple people doing parts of other people's jobs without them knowing it. You will probably find that there are people who are stepping on other people's toes. You will probably find that there are managers who do not know what is happening in their departments. You will probably find that there are people not willing to communicate with other departments or people. You will probably find people who are afraid of change. And you will probably find that there are people who are not willing to listen.

You need to assess what is happening in your business. You need to have a strong management in place that is willing to talk, willing to change, willing to listen, and willing to admit when something is wrong. Business is not about who is to blame! Business is a thriving entity. You need to work together. If a business cannot communicate well, then it will become bloated and ineffective.

It is time to start talking!

Talking: The Lost Form of Communication

In today's society it is becoming more and more common to communicate via phone, conferencing, email or text messaging. May I make an observation: if you feel you don't understand what someone is saying, maybe you should communicate with them in person. Communicating in person allows you to read their body language and really understand the misunderstanding taking place. You cannot substitute real live one on one speaking and talking with something that is more substandard. Be willing to make a real commitment to understanding other people. This is the key to a large corporation.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Some Thoughts on Large Corporations

Over the years, the sensible thing for people to do was to find a good job with a large corporation and settle down for the long haul and retire. The large corporations, having more money, were able to support their employees via benefits and the like. The incentives to have a company pay for your retirement and the like caused people to be attracted to these corporations.
With the attraction of people and the thought "Money is Power", corporations have become money hungry and in so doing they have become arrogant and flawed. The flaws are:
  1. Believing that their customer base is constant and will always be there.
  2. Believing that their Stock Holders are more important than their customers who are more important than their employees.
  3. Believing that Money, the Bottom Line, and ROI is the most important feature of a business.
Believing that their customer base is constant and will always be there.
When a company becomes quite large, it has a tendency to begin to disregard the average customer and that customer's thoughts and problems. Customers begin to fall through the cracks. It becomes rationalized that because there is such a large customer base, if there are a few that fall between the cracks, then it doesn't matter. A customer is the vital part of Business! What are they thinking?! Without the customer, how in the WORLD can a business survive. I submit that when a corporation begins thinking that it is more important than its customer, then its downfall is in the making.

Believing that their Stock Holders are more important than their customers who are more important than their employees.
In today's world, it seems that Businesses are beginning to place their Stock Holders' interests above those of the customers' and especially above those of the employees'. I would like to submit that it should be the reverse!
Employees in a company work with the customers and know what the customer wants and needs. They understand what people want and how to work with them. The customer, as stated previously, buy the product and in turn support the company. The Stock Holders, although invest money, they are successful only if the company is. By placing the Employees first, the focus of the company allows for further innovation and adaptation to the ever changing world. By creating innovation, the customers keep buying and supporting the company. In turn, the company flourishes and the stock holders are happy. This is the goal of the company.

Believing that Money, the Bottom Line, and ROI are the most important feature of a business.
When Money becomes the key focus in a business, it is only a matter of time before the company will become choked and dead and will fail. There are many prime examples in today's market: Microsoft, Novell and Enron. The latter is a prime example of greed. The first two are prime examples of loss of direction and innovation.

In Short it is time for businesses to begin looking at and remembering what is important. This is a call for businesses to start making hard decisions and for management to start paying attention to their employees.