Interesting vs Interested? And thoughts from #TechPhx

My favorite part of speaking and meeting people is learning their stories and seeing how our lives are interconnected. Social media is a very personal thing. For me, especially so (if you’ve read any of my other posts you’ll know why).  So I want anything that I present, educate or facilitate to be deeply that, personal. Otherwise, whats the point?

Stop trying to be interesting. Just be interested.

I don’t know where that quote came from, or if its the saying is exact. Regardless, its a lot harder than it seems. I don’t have children yet, but I do have friends and family, and this seems to be a key pillar when in how we establish our relationships offline and online. I see so many people who are dying for a bit of authentic attention, for someone to just care, truly interested, about what someone else is doing, saying, learning, experiencing, feeling. Have you ever been on the phone with someone clearly doing something else, and you know they’re not really “there“? Yeah. Thats what I am talking about.

This past November I spoke as the opening keynote at #techPHX a local technology conference. Last year I presented a session about using Enterprise Social Technologies within the walls of your own organization, aka Yammer. This year my focus was about the external uses of social technologies as well as providing a few of predictions for 2015. It was fun to get the audience involved and engaged so early in the morning. And try to really be interested.  Plus, who doesn’t love memes & mullets?

mullet

Click here to see the recordings (mine will be up shortly).

Check out the Storify here.  

Now, I get thats being interested, truly, is the complete OPPOSITE of social media and how everything is portrayed, but wouldn’t our conversations within our community look a bit different if we were genuinely interested. Early on in my career, I had a boss that did just this. And it stuck because when I had other leaders who weren’t as “interested” you can tell.  So what does this really look like?

Here’s 2 things you can do to be more “interested” 

  1. Ask questions and care about what is being answered by listening.
  2. And when someone asks you a question, really answer them.

 

I mostly need this reminder for my own reflection and learning most of all, especially during the crazy busy holiday season. Maybe someone else needs to hear it too.

 

 

And, if anyone knows where the saying came from let me know. I’d gladly source it!

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TRUE LIFE: Diaries of a Middle-Manager

So I get asked a lot how do I get my executives on social tools (see here), like Yammer. The people on the ground, the front line LOVE tools like this. Yet what I find most interesting is managing on Enterprise Social tools and what is the role of a manager in a networked community. This is  something I want to dig deeper than just my personal experiences, so if you have research, please share my way.

For a while, if not forever, managers had the role of dissemination of information. Similar to the role of parents to children, teaching their kids about the world in a way they think they should learn, however far away or close to reality that ends up being.

You’ll need to take note. I am a millennial. I manage millennials and Xers. I am managed by a Xer.

 

YES TEAM

You probably also have experienced this as well. Some roles of your organization are shifting. The role of IT. The role of Corp Communication. The role of Learning & Development. The role of Marketing…. To name a few.

I also think the role of the manager is changing as  well in the social space.

And I don’t mean, because I use twitter, I am a better manager (although that might make another good blog post). I mean internally social tools like Yammer break down the dissemination of information in ways that managers have been holding the keys for ages. What is the role of the manager when my CEO can simply read and “like” a message of my direct reports. How does that reflect on me? How does it reflect on them? Is it a good thing? And what does the role look like if my reports can interact with the CEO without my involvement? What DO they need me for?

 

Three areas for managers to focus —  team, individuals, the company.

  • Team operations – As a manager I have certain things that I liked to do when I attend meetings, as well as when I am participant at meetings. I create a space for us to co-author meeting minutes and notes. No more of everyone take their own notes and someone compile them at the end of the day (and sent over email). I also ask what are my teams “highs and lows” for the week in our Team Yammer group. I do this to see how they are doing and whats going on, what ends up happening is that the lows or the highs spark other conversations. When my team “wins” or does something great, I tag the conversation, this why at the end of the year /quarter or month we can celebrate the team (I used #YES_we_can because the team was the Yammer Education Services aka YES team).
  • Individuals – With allowing people to work out loud on their projects in a variety of groups openly, it allows me to never have to guess what my people are up to. Then during our 1:1s I can follow up on specific conversations or roadblocks and see how I can help remove them to get them to move forward faster. I also use the Praise functionality to give the pat on the back of something small or big, but something worth deserving.
  • The company – By staying connected to a variety of groups that might not be so relevant for my day to day job, it helps me keep an ear to the ground and a heart toward the future of the company. I know and find out things before most people do because I can peer into their groups or spaces and see what they are up to. This allows me to translate and share it with my team on how they should prepare or how our customers will be affected by the other work. As a remote manager this helps me stay connected and virtually walk the halls of other teams and projects.

Your teams need you to serve them. To motivate. To remove and unblock barriers. To help plan and prioritize. And to get into the action, offer up your own hands to get dirty in the work when you need to. Your team needs to be that connecter, and not to stand in the way of connecting the dots for them as they grow and succeed. You need  to help build their networks. And they also need you to get out of the way, and have the opportunity to do it themselves, no matter how much you want to just do it.  And this is amplified in a social networked world. They don’t need you to horde or disseminate the information. If you are like me, my team is educated and has good intention. They don’t need me to be a blocker, they need me to open  the doors and get out of the way. Because at the end of the day, its not about you, it should be about them.

 

Last week I attended ASTD (Now ATD) International conference and I sat in a session with Marcus Buckingham about performance management. His whole talk revolved around the manager employee relationship. He asked managers to ask their employees early and often: 1. At work, do you have a chance to do your best every day? 2. Do you know what is expected of you? 3. Are you colleagues committed to quality (with the definition of quality varying in each organization and team).  Help your employees find their strengths, focus on their strengths and understand the expectations of the quality that the organization needs. You can’t have this level of conversation without actually knowing your team, and really understanding them for who there are and where they’ve been.

 

How do you lead? How do you manage people on social networking tools like Yammer? Do you have anything else to add?

Yammer Edition: Enterprise Social skills leaders need to have

I am on this kick right now of educating leaders and managers about how social can amplify their leadership ability using social tools. I feel like I have written about this before, if not I am sure I wrote myself a note to write that. Recently McKinsey Quarterly came out with a study about the Six Social-media Skills every leader needs (Deiser, Newton). As I was reading this article, and I was highlighting it, scribbling all over it (I know I still print articles that I was to dissect later).

The article speaks about leaders on a personal level to be authentic and to navigate in their own comfort and the information overload. And at the organizational level to think through how to be a role model and stay ahead of the shifts. “Leaders need to excel at co-creation and collaboration – the currencies of the social media world.” Charlene Li in her book Open Leadership, she talks about how leaders are expected to be Open, Social and Transparent – which is probably how they got to where they are today. I see this every day. And mostly I see fear in executives eyes of “What if I say the wrong thing?” Or “What if I spell something wrong” to them I say, it shows that you are human too. And people want to see that. And more importantly, what if you DON’T say anything. I think that’s worse.

So I’d like to dig into these 6 skills and show a bit of tactical and give the nuts and bolts advice for leaders who are using enterprise social tools, like Yammer.

1. The Leader as a producer: Creating Compelling Content

– Its all about short stories. Its about what you are learning from your customer visits. Its about recognition. Video is pretty hot right now and easy to and upload to Yammer for people to watch, like and comment. Its like you are welcoming your teams to come and have a cup of coffee with you as you tell them about your day. Your day, which may seem hectic, and unimportant to the minions below you, they actually do want to hear what you have to say, in a non-scripted way. Video not your thing? No worries, create a Yammer Group – like the CEO Corner or The Leaders Lounge – where you can share detailed updates about what you are learning on the road when you visited your customer. Share what you can. Even the unimportant details are giving the rest of the organization a glimpse of what’s important to you helping them focus on whats important to the business as a whole. Finally within social tools like Yammer its easy to recognize someone for a job well done. And its pretty much free. See this blog post about social recognition (but secret tip — millennials would much rather have a shout out from their leader in a public setting versus some corporate branded Tchotchke.

2. The leader as a distributer: Leveraging dissemination dynamics.

Disrabution competence – the ability to influence the way message move through the organizations – becomes as important as the ability to create compelling content.” So if you, as a leader find a nugget worth gold on your Yammer network, share it with other leaders. This will allow you to start to figure out the different ways the informations literally flies through your organization. I was speaking with a customer, and she mentioned that at a Gartner conference she attended and her big light bulb moment was when she figure out that “the speed at which information and knowledge transfers happen within their organization will be their competitive advantage for the future.” So the speed at which things are shared and transferred can become your biggest threat or opportunity depending on the systems you have in place. It also becomes apparent very quickly who are the infleuncers within your organization. These are the movers and shakers – they might not have the fancy titles that call them influencers – but these are the people who pick where to go for lunch and everyone follows. More importantly these are the people that will start to tip the needle in getting the content pushed to through the right channels – social tools or not.

3. The leader as recipient: managing communication overflow.

This is a huge skill. Something that I think everyone, not just leaders struggle with. What I tell them is give it up – you aren’t going to read every message or every post. And nor should you. Most people can barely keep up with the amount of email they receive not counting the tweets and yams that could cross their computers. What I coach leaders is to focus on the groups that directly impact their jobs and leave the rest. They learn how to tap eachother on the shoulder to bring people and other leaders in when necessary, and to understand how to divde the network so that if there is a message or conversation that their team should see or be a part of the leadership team will be notified. Its also about figuring out what Yammer “feed” setting works for you. One lady I was working with had it set to ALL conversations – no wonder she couldn’t keep up with the messages in her network, she felt overwhelmed but its also because she was seeing non relevant conversations and felt the need to read every single post. Helping decipher these feeds and conversations is similar in real life, I am not sure why people think social should be any different. As a leader, you aren’t involved in every meeting or every conversation or every email sent (thank gosh or you might never get anything done!). Same thing goes for social.

4. The Leader as adviser and orchestrator: Driving strategic social-media utilization.

Its one thing for a leader to start to figure out “social” its another to back up the other social efforts that are going on within your organization to get the rest of your team members up to snuff. Its about figuring how to tap into people who “get it” and help them help others to have that aha moment. Working closely with a customer now who is focusing on reverse mentoring. I have seen it done and talked about in variety of forms but what it comes down to is regardless of age, rank or stature people are helping people up their “social literacy” and building their networks on and offline. So ask someone to help you if you don’t know or offer your help to someone. My guess is that they would gladly take some advice, plus I am sure you have a lot to share as well.

5. The leader as architect: Creating a enabling organizational infrastructure.

This is the age old org chart. Instead of going up the chains of command, which is still needed in some cases, you need to find the person with the right answer fastest, regardless of title or where they sit in the organization or sit physically. By posting and finding experts and answering questions on your Yammer network, this starts to happen without much effort. And leaders should celebrate when something is found, saved or discovered outside of traditional chain of command through tools like Yammer. The report mentions “The leaders tasks is to marry vertical accountability with networked horizontal collaboration in a way that is not mutually destructive”. Helping involve middle management is key at this stage.

6. Leader as analyst: Staying ahead of the curve

I feel like this is a great one for leaders and so hard to do with all of their other priorties. I recently had a C-level complete one of our Yammer Certification programs. She mentioned that she never would have had the chance to learn everything she did in that short time about Yammer and now she can speak more intelligently and work on getting her peers up to speed as well. Its highly unlikely that you , as execs have time for an all day classroom or training sessions, but I do encourage you to get educated and not just believe in the vision, but to roll up your sleeves and get to figuring out how YOU as a leader could be active on social tools. Normally my teams spends about 60-90 minutes with executives from all sorts of organizations. Sometimes we focus big picture and other times we make sure that they have Yammer on their phones and tablets. Sometimes we dig into the wins they are already seeing and other times we go over how to “tap” each other and search for what you are looking for. I think you need a bit of both context in order to help make some of this “social” stuff start to stick in your workflow as a leader.

The report concludes that “It takes guts to innovate radically” and I would add it takes courage a few people to be a bit brave to start to try something new. Regardless if its social or not. But right now, its not a fad. Its not going away. And if I were you – I would figure out where it fits in my toolbox of leadership skills and how to amplify my self as a good leader using the social technologies that we have at our fingertips.

So what about you? Do these skills resonate with the leaders you are or the leaders you have in your organization? Where is the biggest opportunity for growth?

I have learned so much.

And I haven’t written anything down. Who am I? I used to blog all the time. I got my current job from a blog post I wrote. (more of the story here)

This past December I graduated with my Masters of Education, Technology and Leadership. I wrote about my FIRST semester in this post. (Oh my – I cant believe how fast/slow it went). I learned a lot in school. But probably not as much as I have learned this past year.

And by the last post I made it really doesn’t justify how much I have learned and been up to. Almost a year ago within a world I had no business being in I jumped in both feet. I leaned on a great coach, business adviser and consultant who became a dear friend. We tried things. Failed at things. Added new things. Took away the bad things and kept on adjusting. Like the angry birds method. “Aim. Fire. Adjust.”

So I guess thats what I will do with this blog going forward. Aim. Fire. Adjust.

I’d like to write about social enterprises because I see that every day. I’d like to write about my journey as a new manager (got lots of stories). I’d like to write about what its like being on the road all the time or how great it is to work from home (YOGA PANTS!). I’d like to write about the customers I see and the lightbulbs that go off. I’d like to write about what its like working for the largest software company in the world after working for a startup.

Is that OK with you? If that works – I will start there. 

No promises. But bug me to write more, ok?

And if you’d like to do a guest post let me know.

Stop making collaboration an initiative. Make it a reality.

Collaboration. Social. Innovation. These are the buzz words that fill my twitter feed today.

This week I have the pleasure of attending a few of our customer internal leadership summits, expos and all hands meetings. These two customers are in completely different industries and do not even remotely compete however the message is very very similar.

Collaboration. 

Seems to me like this buzzword is flying around in organizations today. A few months ago I found out that there are people who have the sole job of a “Collaboration Relationship Manager”. I am not sure if I agree with this or disagree – but I do find it a bit weird. Your role is to help manage the collaboration relationship? Huh?

Recently I finished the book “Organizations Don’t Tweet, People do: A Manager’s Guide to Social Web” by Euan Semple  and learned great lessons throughout the book. One of the key messages that also aligns to this post is not to make “collaboration” an initiative and to really do it. In every project, nook and corner office of your organization find ways to collaborate. To get better, faster and to not settle for the status quo.

Think about your organization today and where would you lie on the scale if you had to actually measure your “collaborative” efforts? What’s the picture that is being painted by management? What are your current barriers to a more collaborative environment?

Semple (p. 70) says, there is “no point in having knowledge if people don’t know you have it, and if you are not prepared to share it .. “

If you really believe what Semple says above, what tools, resources and guidance are in place to share freely in your organization? Social platforms and tools like Yammer help “to increases the quality and frequency of the conversations that get your job done (p. 107).”

But in reality, what is collaboration all about?

Semple (p.132) defines collaboration,

True collaboration is a succession of … small examples of the willingness to help another person….Collaboration is a shared willings to address problems or opportunities and often to contribute hard won personal experience to doing so. You want there to be as few barriers to collaboration as possible.

Don’t turn collaboration into an initiative but make it easier to do so. Dont talk about doing it but instead increase the frequency and quality of those conversation that get your job done. Don’t just think that you will naturally be wiling to collaborate on your next project, just do it. 

 

What does your organization look like in terms of “collaboration”. What are YOU doing in order to make your self more collaborative? What’s holding you back?

Leave me a note – would love to hear all about it.

Why Yammer Failed

Check here for what happened next… 

Its not that Yammer was the wrong tool or couldn’t do what we expected it to do.

Its not that we didn’t have the business justification, case and ROI mapped.

Its not that we didn’t take secure measures for the users information.

Its not like no one used it.

Its not that it was abused, or someone was harassed.

Its not that the people weren’t ready and easily adapting to it.

It really wasn’t any of that.

It was some one who is higher than me, wayyy at the tippy tip-top of the organization didn’t agree. Without any explanation, clarification or justification – she wanted it off.

It was a pride thing. It was that someone didn’t have their voice heard and they were going to make sure it was heard. That was it. End of story. Yammer was cut off from our organization.

Honestly I thought I was going to lose my job, because I initiated the whole thing (see blog posts about Social Media and SAP) . I invested weeknight and weekends of time energy and research. I promoted and loved and believed in it from the bottom of my heart. I had seen a huge communication issue and saw it starting to erupt with positive findings and information.

But it was like she said NO and it was like they cut off dialog happening at the watercooler. Funny thing about it, they can’t control real watercooler chat either..

Do I think it will come back, of course. Same story (as with telephones, email, IM) different technology… hopefully by this time I have moved on. Or she has.

I couldn’t live without…

What’s one piece of technology you can’t live without?

Smart Phone

I honestly don’t know how I lived without one. I used to have a simple phone that I would primary used  for texting.

I got my first cell phone when I turned 16 because of driving and for emergencies. By the time I started college my family used cell phones so much that we got rid of our land line almost 7 years ago. Plus anyone that called the house was for my mom, and they could call her cell anyways.

Now I have a phone with internet and email and social media networks and calorie counting apps, and map apps and everything in between. I just have the blackberry and most days it drives me crazy. But I think one reason why I couldn’t live without it – is when I forget it.. I feel lost. It keeps me connected – to my friends and family. If something happened, they would let me know. Without a cell phone… what.. send smoke signals? 🙂

However, over the past few years I know how important having real intentional time with people can be. While it may not always be practical to see all my friends (they live in all states and countries) thank goodness for the phone (and FACEBOOK) to keep us connected. I just know how important it is to have that real time together to grow and communicate face to face.  I think cell phone should be an enabler – but not take the place of face time.

What technology do you wish would disappear from the world?

Blue tooth headsets. Or may just the people that wear them out. At dinner. At church. At the grocery store. They are so annoying to me. Our company got them for us to be “safe”.. I refuse to use it. They don’t fit my ear and I am more focused on getting it to work and sound correct that it is more unsafe than not. Also I think people are talking to themselves… until I realize they have the blue tooth headset in. So annoying. See picture below. If that was my husband and I on a date… not off to a good start…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What about you? What could you NOT live without?  and what technology do you wish would disappear from the world?