Monday, 29 June 2015

Discussion Forum #3 - What Is The Best Career Advice You Ever Gave Or Received?








You will spend a great chunk of your waking moments at work.




It's one of those facts that either instils the feeling of dread - if you absolutely detest your current job - or excitement, if you love what you do or are fulfilling a lifelong passion or purpose.





In essence, most of us need to work. Whether we work for corporations, for our businesses or for noble causes, we are 'sacrificing' the gift of time for various goals. And that is fine. It is a good thing to become financially independent; it is a gift to be able to work to support ourselves and families or to be able to toil for a greater calling.




And because successes or failures in our careers impact our personal lives so deeply, it is no wonder that there is an abundance of discussions about work/life balance, employee engagement and other work-related issues in the employment relationship.




Nonetheless, a unifying thread among all professionals is the desire to succeed. This statement holds true even though the definition of 'success' varies across geographical locations and among different cultures.




Because we often need help to achieve our career goals, either as experienced professionals or as 'newbies', we may have given valuable advice to others or may have received insightful suggestions that quite frankly, changed lives.




And that is what we want to discuss.





Before you jump into the discussion, kindly note the guidelines below.







Guidelines for discussion forums




1) Only comments related to the topic would be approved.


2) Please edit your comments for clarity before posting.


3) About the language: it should kindly be kept professional and 'clean' as inappropriate contributions will not be approved. Comments written as personal attacks will also be rejected.


4) Comments submitted after the deadline will not be published.





And now over to you...





Discussion Forum #3 - What Is The Best Career Advice You Ever Gave Or Received?



(29 June 2014 - 28 July 2015 at 23.59 West African Time).








Someone may have helped you out and that act was a defining moment in your professional life.  



Or you may have seen some signs of impending ‘careercide’ based on your experiences and may have given some advice which saved someone's career.  




Whatever the case may be, sound direction given at the right time, by a trustworthy person, has made someone excel and we want to know all about it. So kindly start sharing and let's all learn from each other.




Cheers! 




Recommended reading


Discussion Forum #2 - What Would Make You Happy At Work?




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N.B -  Image courtesy of Stuart Miles; via freedigitalphotos.net. Animation courtesy of gifgifs.com.




Friday, 29 May 2015

The Case For 'A Culture Of Communication' At The Workplace








You haven't been living under a rock for the last decade so you know that often, people take something for granted about communication in this fast-paced era.




They sometimes forget that communication has become increasingly relevant to careers and businesses.




At the workplace, gone is the now 'archaic' top-down communication style from ages passed.



'Archaic' only because the advent of social media, as well as the prevalence of numerous online platforms, with their impact on the communication styles of  professionals and companies, make any method of communication, without true engagement, obsolete.




Not only have new technology, smartphones, tablets, ‘smart’ watches, (Apple watch anyone?), other internet-enabled communication devices and the explosion of mobile apps made the exchange of information instant and reliable, another trend has come to stay:




The rise of the content.




Content, which broadly speaking, encompasses varied communications, has become a fixture in organisations and among professionals.




Today, the use of storytelling to increase 'followership', or to attain 'influencer' status in an industry, or to boost business results, is evident in the various types of content produced and disseminated in cyberspace - blog posts, articles, images, videos, infographics, podcasts, graphics etc. 




As is explained in this post, savvy brands now use content to tell powerful stories to improve their results. Others use communications  to boost their reputations as well as to build trust in their organisations and among external stakeholders.

 


On the professional level, executives perceived to have excellent communication skills, influenced by the content they consumeare considered effective leaders and are rated highly in their careers. 




Good communication is now indispensable because it influences a wide range of workplace issues such as trust, commitment and performance. Today, employees need to be treated as the valuable, indispensable assets that they are in the productivity wheel. Therefore communicating in ways that respect their contributions makes them more efficient in their duties and more likely to stay in a company.



There is thus a case for nurturing what I would refer to as 'a culture of communication' in an organisation. In simple terms, this means infusing systems and daily operations with simple and clear communication, strengthened by feedback channels at every level, that it becomes second nature to all: From the new entrant to the CEO.




Although culture changes are serious endeavours and differ in degrees of complexity, there are considerations to note when developing this 'culture of communication':
  


1) Management commitment 










Without genuine commitment from top management, a move towards a communicative culture will crumble after the initial 'buy-in'. 




Not only should  the  CEO  approve  the change, but employees who are passionate about the change and understand all aspects of the change programme should be selected as the designated spokespeople. These professionals should consistently answer questions, clarify issues and be prepared to address resistance to change efforts.




The CEO himself should support the change agents publicly when required and regularly inform all employees about the progress made at key periods. This could be done via emails/newsletters, on notice boards/the intranet, or in short videos. His participation will underscore the point that the new culture is not simply a fad.  





2) Clarity of key initiative 







What new communications initiative will be launched to usher in the 'culture of communication'? 




Whether it is a new 'open door policy' between levels, or a new software whereby employees could make suggestions or lodge complaints, or a new system of feedback whereby all issues must be acknowledged and addressed in 24 hours, there must be a constant:




The initiative must be penned in simple language, devoid of jargon and easily understood by all levels inside the organisation.





3) Flexibility and adaptability







It is possible nonetheless that the perfectly-penned communications project which showed a lot of promise, may need tweaking as time elapses. 



For example, a newly-launched internal social media app may initially have been well-received. However, bug issues, the need for frequent updates and a slow network may soon make it an annoyance to handle.




Employees may prefer being involved in the company's branded social media accounts or the creative types may be interested in crafting content about their experiences that could be posted on the company's website. 



Whatever the adjustments that are required, note that adapting to change but remaining committed to the overall goal of an improved transparent workplace is necessary.




Being flexible would also mean letting go of the fear of failure and discarding what doesn't work over time, to prioritise what does.  




4) Patience and consistency in delivery 




Developing a 'culture of communication' would take time.



Because communications programmes involve the 'human element'; (the attitudes and behaviours of all involved in the process influence the outcomes); there may a tendency for Management, over time, to label them as impractical causes with intangible benefits.




But patience is needed even when the 'return on investment' is slow to materialise or bottom-line results, difficult to measure.






Likewise, consistent nurturing of the 'culture of communication' will pay off when new 'habits' become established.



This is how it will work:





Improved communication at the workplace highlights a perception that the company truly cares about issues impacting its employees' careers and well-being, (which in organisational behavioural science is termed 'perceived organisation support'). These informed professionals, now empowered, become appreciative of the empathetic atmosphere and will become more engaged at work. Remember that research has shown that employee engagement leads to multiple benefits for the organisation, including 51% higher productivity, 9% higher shareholder returns and higher levels of trust in management.



In a nutshell, there is always a business case for improving communications at the workplace.




Conclusion









While the idea of a 'culture of communication' may not be new, it is nonetheless necessary for companies seeking to improve productivity and to become competitive by wisely managing their human resources.


However, if you are unconvinced about the numerous benefits of good communication to the organisation, then retaining your most talented employees should be the impetus you need to promote this culture at the workplace. Simply put, your staff - the most informed and talented lot whose engagement you cherish - would leave you eventually if they don’t believe they truly matter because you don’t communicate in ways they appreciate.


So as communications trends emerge and technology continues to evolve - with the Internet becoming more powerful and social media blurring the lines between accessibility and privacy - you must adapt to the dynamics.


In such a chaotic environment, are you ready to cut through the 'noise' and develop a culture of true communication in your company?


Let me know how you intend to do this by posting your comments below, anonymously if you prefer.  


Don't rush off just yet. Please remember to:  



1) Share this article in your social media networks by clicking on the icons on the left side or below.


2) Sign up for updates in the blog's right sidebar so that you are immediately notified via email when a new blog post is published. Never miss an article again!
  


Need help in writing?

Hire me for a writing assignment, some consulting work and/or coaching sessions informal writing and communications.


Contact me by: 



A) Sending a direct email to: Lucilleossai@gmail.com 


B) Calling for advice and a  free  consultation:



Nigeria:             0704 631 0592

International:   +234 704 631 0592    




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N.B –  All images courtesy of Stuart Miles; via freedigitalphotos.net.



Thursday, 30 April 2015

Your Executives Are Killing Your Business...









Yes they are Mr. CEO and you are to blame.



Brace yourself for this is going to be a hard pill to swallow.



We know that you pay them very good money and that they enjoy all the necessary perks to keep them happy, including the coveted corner offices, (for those you really like). These executives are also allowed to choose interesting assignments that challenge them and enable them to display their business prowess.
 


But here's the thing Mr. CEO: you have become too comfortable with your 'inner circle' that over time, you have failed to address some red flags that are slowing down productivity and eroding your bottom line.



Simply put, three groups of executives are killing your business slowly but surely:




1) The Power-Obsessed Egomaniacs





To be fair, these executives delivered in the past and their track records earned them their current positions.



But soon something strange emerged. Something dangerous, plain as day to 'regular' employees, but unnoticeable to you Mr. CEO, despite unofficial complaints...



These executives developed a sense of entitlement.



So now they display attitudes and behaviours that make objectivity impossible.



Those who 'challenge' them in any way, even to suggest options which would yield improved results, are punished.



The executives, all puffed up, strut around, bark orders and threaten terrified staff with transfers to difficult locations or with job losses.





They exude such power, (whether perceived or real), that they are fearfully labelled the 'untouchables'.





Some, now shamefully corrupt, ask and receive monetary 'contributions' from staff just so that the workers could be allowed to perform their duties without intimidation or harassment.



Employees who cannot afford to lose their jobs because of family obligations or other commitments, became resentful of the persistent unfair treatment and resort to negative behaviours: They miss work; they deliberately become unreliable; they sabotage/steal company's resources; and even attack the company's reputation on social media. (A huge backlash on Twitter or Facebook, complete with an insulting hashtag could become a dreaded reality).
 




And you Mr. CEO, instead of launching a full, independent investigation of the actions of your executives over X period, simply listened to inane explanations blaming the monthly losses on some 'incompetent' staff, (aka scapegoats), who were subsequently fired. The unfortunate professionals did not stand a chance when pitted against your cronies.



A few talented workers, despite the odds, have chosen to leave, declaring that life was too short for continued misery.



It is no wonder that your company is haemorrhaging revenue, staff and goodwill.
  




2) The Perfectionists








Now this group on the surface, might not seem to be as harmful to your business as the power-hungry lot, but they do the company no favours.



These perfectionists delay crucial decision making because they want to ensure that the perfect plan for the perfect circumstance, is executed with the perfect method, by the most competent professional. So they take their time to act.



The executives also unwittingly stifle innovation and creativity because they are so risk-averse that unless Y outcome can be guaranteed from X action, they will not support ideas.



Thus approvals get halted; potential clients/partners/customers are lost; delayed results become irrelevant; and frustration levels of employees are heightened.



Because nothing is as certain as change itself, a crisis exacerbates an already ineffective system.




For example, critical functions under the perfectionists' responsibilities fail to respond speedily to a crisis. The delay causes a plunge in the value of the company's stocks as fearful investors withdraw from the 'sinking ship' and divert their resources to the company's competitors.



Remember Mr. CEO: All it takes is just one badly-managed crisis to cause significant damage to the company's reputation, leading to lost revenue. 





3) The Incompetents






What is surprising to note is that even though this group is the easiest to replace; (it makes no business sense to keep these executives on the payroll); its members  remain employed because of internal politics.



Executives in this group become so assured of their continued tenure that they become lazy and begin to slip. When their errors are consistently concealed or others are made scapegoats in their steads, they become incompetent and neglect their duties.



As a result, employees are forced to work twice as hard  to address problems stemming from these executives' actions or inactions.



Therefore undue work interference, arbitrary decisions and a lack of commitment to key initiatives become the norm, all which reduce efficiency at the workplace.



Moreover, since all suggestions to address problems are ignored, outcomes become disappointing and losses persist.



And you Mr. CEO continue to sit in your plush office and wonder why and how it is all crashing down...   






Conclusion



It is time to awaken from your slumber Mr. CEO. Those three groups of executives are ruining your company and making you look like a weak, ineffective leader.



The good news is that such toxic executives are easy to spot but you must act decisively. You are not running a social club; you are at the helm of a profit-making entity, so act like the leader you were assigned to be.









Order company-wide due diligence.



Audit the executives' results and make them accountable for their budgets and projects.



Get external assistance to weed them out if necessary and give them attractive severances packages to facilitate their exits.



Do whatever you need to do ethically but get them out of your company as soon as possible. Then hire competent professionals with verifiable track records who will be committed to the company's vision, and who will possess the required emotional intelligence to inspire and lead their teams to achieve success.



Your staff and your shareholders will thank you for your actions when sanity returns to the workplace and productivity begins to rise.



And you Mr. CEO, will be able to hold your head high. 



Over to you:



What other groups of executives are detrimental to your company? 




Kindly post your comments below, anonymously if you prefer.  






Don't rush off just yet. Please remember to: 

1) Share this article in your social media networks by clicking on the icons on the left side or below.  


2) Sign up for updates in the blog's right sidebar so that you are immediately notified via email when a new blog post is published. Never miss an article again!




Recommended reading 


Inside The Complicated Mind Of The Employee






Need help in writing? 

Hire me for a writing assignment, some consulting work and/or coaching sessions in formal writing and communications.  


Contact me by:


A) Sending a direct email to: Lucilleossai@gmail.com 


B) Calling for advice and a  free  consultation:
 
Nigeria:               0704 631 0592
International:    +234 704 631 0592  





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N.B –  First image courtesy of Jesadaphorn; via freedigitalphotos.net. Second image courtesy of Iosphere; via freedigitalpjotos.net. Third image courtesy of Master Isolated Images; via freedigitalphotos.net. Fourth image courtesy of Stuart Miles; via freedigitalphotos.net. Last image courtesy of Nongpimmy; via freedigitalphotos.net.