In an era where content is king, publishing a book or ebook is a powerful way to not only distinguish yourself as a professional in your field, but to attract many more customers and clients to your business.
We just love this shareable, printable, and refreshingly sensible "Social Media Checklist for Business" infographic from The Whole Brain Group.
Managing social media for your business, brand, or organization can seem like an overwhelming task, but it doesn't have to be.
You can make even more sense of social media at our brand new Social Media Academy, featuring 14 different online social media classes! Our hour-long webinars will teach you everything you need to know about Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, Social Media Marketing, Personal Branding, Social Media Tools, and more.
“Take breaks” ranks high on my list of favorite writing tips. It’s an excellent example of “accomplishing more with less” and can boost the results you get from your writing.
Sound too good to be true? Let me share a real-life example.
I was writing an article about Jeffery Robinson, a lawyer whose career was shaped by the Civil Rights Movement. He is kind, courteous, and caring, and I wanted to do him justice. That said, I also was eager to cross this assignment off my to-do list. I put the final touches on the article and asked a colleague to review it. She came back with the dreaded words, “You’re not done.”
She was right. I found several areas that needed to be stronger, including this prosaic phrase: “Robinson has amassed an impressive list of awards.” (No wonder she said I wasn’t done!) I tried many approaches, but I was still stumped. I gave up and took a nap. When I awoke 15 minutes later, this phrase popped into my head: “If awards were legal tender, Robinson could forget about billable hours.”
Where did that come from? According to William Zinsser, author of, On Writing Well, my brain had been working on this problem while I napped. He writes: “Your subconscious mind does more writing than you think... While you slept, your writer’s mind didn’t. To some extent, a writer is always working.”
That’s just how our brain is wired, and we need to give it time to work for us. Maybe you go to lunch or work on a different project, or, if you’re lucky, take a nap. Everyone complains about not having enough time to write well, but how are we spending the time we do have? Breaks are as vital to your writing as your choice of words and punctuation.
Most of us never learned the writing process and how it works. Like my scratch-it-off-the-list mentality, we just want to get our writing done as fast as possible. But attention-getting writing doesn’t happen that way. Sure, get your first draft done fast, but then spend time editing, taking breaks, and editing again. Who knows what will pop out of that marvelous brain of yours?
Project management has been around for as long as human beings have endeavored en masse to complete tasks and projects of all shapes and sizes: from the Great Pyramid and Great Wall of China, on through 21st century workforce management by way of virtualization and the cloud.
Below is a brief, visual history of project management that illustrates a rich timelime of project management methodologies, advancements, and the overall evolution of the field. Now, more than ever, the ability to effectively manage projects large and small to successful completion is a vital and in-demand skill.
Heard about our summary+commentary (s+c*d) format? Learn more!
“If we let ourselves, we shall always be waiting for some distraction or other to end before we can really get down to our work.” –C.S. Lewis. Today, we live in an era of constant distraction: a fast-paced digital age of multi-screens, electronic alerts, instant messages, and alarms, social media, and near-infinite web search & surf possibilities. At work the temptation toward distraction is a very persistent reality; and it’s making us not only less productive but less smart, too.
In a Carnegie Mellon experiment cited in the article (“Brain, Interrupted,” NYT), it turns out that an interruption made test takers “20 percent dumber” than the control group. In the second part of the experiment, a portion of the test takers were interrupted again, and yet improved to 14 percent (still lower though than the control group). Meanwhile, the other portion of test takers, who were told they’d be interrupted and were not, improved by 43 percent—even outperforming the control group.
The authors conclude this last group may have focused to “steel themselves” against the interruption that never came, or that an awareness of imminent interruptions better prepared them. People-OnTheGo helps professionals develop this exact power of “micro-level focus,” and offers many strategies and webinarsto this end. Here are 3 tips to help get you focused right now:
Quickly “capture” any distracting thoughts in a paper journal so you can remain focused on the task at hand.
How do you handle distractions at work? What strategies and techniques are you currently using? What are your greatest interruption challenges? Do you feel you’d be more productive if you learned to better manage interruptions?
With the release of the new Windows 8 operating system and the nonstop commercials for the Microsoft Surface tablet, Microsoft is making an aggressive bid to remain relevant in the increasingly complicated landscape of personal computing. Part of this push is the release of Office 2013, the latest version of the familiar Microsoft Office Suite. Each of the applications included have been through a major design overhaul, and all include a variety of new features that make them especially compatible with touch-friendly Windows 8.
But even with all of these changes, is it really worth it to upgrade to Office 2013? Below we’ll take a look at the key features that make an upgrade a compelling idea.
With Office 2013, Microsoft has made it possible to store and sync all of your documents across all of your Windows devices, so they can be accessed from anywhere. All you need to do is save documents to your SkyDrive, and you can open and edit these from any of your Microsoft devices. Never again will you have to email yourself a document or risk having your work stuck on a faraway computer. Office 2013 is designed to cater more toward our connected world.
Rich Media Features
Throughout the suite of Microsoft Office 2013 products, there are a variety of new rich media options to make your documents, presentations, and other files more interactive and engaging. For example in PowerPoint, you can find and add photos from albums on Flickr, Facebook, and other online services without saving to your computer.
PDF to Word Doc Capabilities
Have you ever had to type out an entire PDF document because you needed to be able to edit it in Microsoft Word? In Office 2013, you’ll never have to suffer through this again. Word now does a great job of converting PDF files to Word format.
Flexible Pricing and Delivery
As is the case with most software nowadays, installing the software is as easy as a download. All versions of the new Microsoft Office are available via download instead of with clunky software installation disks. Versions include Office Home and Student ($139.99), Office Home and Business ($219.99), and Office Professional ($399.99).
In addition, Microsoft has offered Office 365 as a productivity and word processing option. Office 365 provides all of the Office Suite as apps and is purchased as a subscription of $99.99 a year. This option includes all of the Office apps and comes with 60 minutes of Skype calls per month.
What do you think about the upgrade? Share your thoughts below!
The recent Yahoo internal memo that requests employees to work in their offices has stirred up quite a lot of discussion on the Internet. And it’s no wonder—most knowledge workers and Gen Y employees are accustomed to the flexibility of working from home sometimes. People are increasingly working on-the-go. The boundaries of office, workspace, home, and third-places are increasingly blurred. Enabled by the latest mobile devices, tablets, and easy access to the Internet, work is more about what you do or accomplish, not where you get it done.
Numerous studies have shown that people working away from their offices are more productive because they are less likely to be interrupted by coworkers who drop by their cubicles, take fewer sick days, and save time on their long commute. These positive results extend to call center employees, as well. People who telecommute are also more satisfied with their work/life balance as they are better able to control their workflow during the day.
So why is Yahoo requiring their employees to return to work in offices?
It is hard to say what’s the ultimate goal of the new policy. Based on discussions on the Internet and blogosphere, it seems that some Yahoo employees have taken advantage of their telecommuting policy and are not performing at their jobs. The memo points to the benefits of having better communication and collaboration when people work side-by-side, and increased insights, speed, and quality when employees work in the same physical locations.
Regardless of the tone of the memo and how it’s communicated with Yahoo employees, let’s take a look at the key issues Yahoo raised: productivity, communication, and collaboration.
Productivity. By now, many studies have shown that doing work remotely or telecommuting does, in fact, increase workers’ productivity. The issue at Yahoo seems like a performance issue, not a telecommuting issue. If Yahoo employees abuse their telecommuting policy, it’s imperative that managers/leaders take action to hold employees accountable, recognize their performance, and follow-up with employees who do not perform. Perhaps this new policy is the first step Yahoo leaders are taking to hold employees accountable for their performance.
Communication. While it is true that the serendipity that happens at cafeterias, hallways, or water-coolers can lead to great insights, there are many technologies that facilitate effective communications, from smart-phone to online meeting tools. Regardless of whether you work in the office or in a remote location, there are ways to communicate with coworkers. The key is to ensure that access to the company intranet, relevant technology, and the speed of connection are not barriers to remote workers.
Collaboration. Similar to communication, there are many online collaboration tools that enable employees to work together while they are physically apart. Work is increasingly distributed. For companies that have dispersed geographical locations, it is impossible to require a team of employees to always work side-by-side in a conference room. There are stages of collaboration. Sometimes your team will need to work together to ideate, confirm objectives and strategies. Other times your team members will need to go off to do solo work or have quiet time to think before they get together and collaborate on ideas. Solo work and thinking may best be accomplished while working from home or in a space without constant interruptions.
The bottom line: remote work is here to stay. It’s the employees’ responsibility to earn trust from their managers, be accountable for their performance, and accomplish what they set out to do. It’s the management’s responsibility to have relevant people practices that facilitate remote work, hold employees accountable, and have clear consequences when employees do not perform. Last but not least, employees should have easy access to the information and resources they need, either in the cloud or on company servers, to enable productive work from anywhere.
What do you think? Is remote work a peril to productivity? How would you address the issues highlighted by the Yahoo memo? Please share your thoughts and comments below.
The verdict around employee engagement is in, and there is widespread agreement that an engaged workforce leads to higher retention, higher productivity, better customer satisfaction and yes, better overall sales and profitability. Consequently, there are many ideas about how to best create, optimize, and leverage engagement. These hypotheses range from the simplicity of Paul Marciano’s “RESPECT model” to Sirota’s “3-Factor Theory,” the work of Cathleen Benko in “The Corporate Lattice,” which focuses on the customization of how we build careers, do the actual work, and communicate—and let’s not forget Gallup’s “12 Elements of Great Managing,” among many others. So the critical question is, when it comes to developing powerful employee engagement, which model is the real McCoy?
Unfortunately, there is no be-all and end-all model for optimizing engagement, and part of the reason for this is that individual employees, managers, executives, and organizations are not all alike. The strategies or levers that work with one person or place may simply not work with others. That said, if you look at a cross section of the research and working models, you might notice that some factors appear across all models—though the words used to describe them are all quite different.
I’ve made sense of the top engagement strategies across various models, and have provided them in the list below. The bottom line, however, is that true employee engagement interventions cannot be bought off the shelf and instead require time to assess and understand the specific and unique requirements for success within a specific sector, business, or individual. We need to move away from thinking of engagement strategies as simplistic tools that once implemented can be forgotten, and instead work to intervene in a more holistic fashion. Here are the 12 key values that will get your organization on the right track to creating a powerful, engaged culture:
Engaged leaders and managers. You cannot have engaged employees if your leaders are not engaged.
Trust in leadership. Do what you say you are going to do. Make critical decisions based on what’s best for all stakeholders (internal and external).
Timely, honest, and consistent two-way communications.
Personable relationships with immediate supervisors. Research shows that knowing your immediate supervisor on a more personal level improves engagement.
Respectful and collegial relationships with colleagues who are committed to doing great work.
Fairness (compensation, workload, during conflicts, etc.)
Pride in an organization’s mission, products, or accomplishments.
Opportunities for professional/career development (within and across functions) that are appropriately developmentally challenging.
Reward/recognition for progress or a job well done—however small. If you do not water the plants they won’t grow.
Ability to influence or have some level of self-determination.
Flexibility (when, where, and/or how the work gets done).
Some level of accommodation to address personal needs as they arise.
To say it more directly, employee engagement is about culture. Culture is about values, leadership capabilities, policies, practices, and behaviors. How does one create a strategic culture? That is a very complicated question that is far beyond the scope of this blog post. However, we can begin by working to assess and understand whether the values and behaviors of our current culture are in fact delivering the performance levels we seek. If not, engaging other stakeholders to explore how the factors listed above can be optimized in the context of your strategy and culture will help.
Remember, Rome was not built in a day and that you need to employ all of the tools in your war chest. Values, leadership capabilities, policies, procedures, communication tools, learning and development, and performance management (including incentives) are all but a few of the many levers that, together, can help you create a coherent and powerful intervention that will move your organization from being mediocre or good to being best in class.
Eugene Dilan, Psy.D., is the founder and president of Dilan Consulting, Inc., and has over 25 years of experience providing direct clinical care and organizational consulting from the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan to healthcare facilities, the aerospace industry, IT, and many more. More information at www.dilanconsulting.com, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
We're also giving away several copies of David's new book! Simply participate in our short Leadership Survey for a chance to win.
The world is becoming an increasingly visual place—and your organization, business, or team needs a leader with the right visual IQ and know-how to communicate the "big picture." You don't have to be an artist, but becoming adept at utilizing visual practice techniques will be a huge boon to getting your team on board, sharing ideas, propelling projects forward, and so much more.
Read on for our interview with David Sibbet, who shares his expertise about the practice of visualization, why it's important to be a visual leader today, and how you can become one.
People-OnTheGo: For those who aren't familiar with visualization or visual practice, can you please describe the basic ideas of the field and its uses in a business or professional environment? What are some common applications?
David Sibbet: Visual practice is using the tools of design thinking and graphic design interactively—much like one uses spoken words. Where once these ways of working were focused on design itself, the methods are now used by leaders and facilitators to support meetings, teams, and organization change processes. Visual practice includes graphic recording of meetings, visual facilitation of meetings and teams, and use of many kinds of media on the part of leaders to collaboratively develop visions, processes, and plans.
Why do think it's important in this day and age for leaders and managers to be "visual leaders"?
Almost all media in today's world integrates text and graphics, and in increasing numbers of cases, video. Not only are younger people quite fluid with these new ways of communicating, but anyone who is trying to develop and align people on new plans needs visuals to make sense out of the complexity. People understand how different parts of an organization connect and work together with mental models, diagrams, maps, and other kinds of displays. A leader who is visually adept has a tremendous advantage in his or her personal communications. If a leader understands how to work with and guide visual professionals it is an even greater advantage.
How can visualization techniques improve meetings, project management, and overall team function?
Active visualization improves meetings in four proven ways. 1. Visual spark imagination. 2. Active recording and co-creation greatly increases engagement. 3. Visual are the key to big picturethinking and systems thinking in groups. 4. Visuals create a group memory that supports implementation and action. This latter aspect is critical to project management, which is largely about getting actions to align and integrate over time. While project management software is highly visual, it is designed for individuals. Graphic templates, decision rooms, roadmaps and other large format visuals are what work with groups. Teams that understand how to run visual meetings and work visually in virtual settings have a much greater chance of getting results than those that don't—especially if they helped co-create the key documents they steer by.
What are three ways that leaders, managers, and others can increase their visual IQ? For non-artists/drawers, what are some tips and tricks to overcoming a fear or hesitancy of using these visual strategies?
Visualization is effective with very simple shapes and figures that anyone can learn to draw. The first way a leader or manager can become more literate is to use visuals in his or her personal notetaking and diagramming to thinking through ideas. A second important way is to begin paying attention to organizing mental models and metaphors that are embedded in verbal communication, and allow people to see how things work together. Visual note taking helps with this, but working with a visual practitioner who graphically records what is happening in key meetings raises everyone's consciousness on a group basis about the metaphors being used. To the extent that much of strategic thinking is analogous thinking (i.e. comparing one thing with something else), visualizing these comparisons allows everyone to expand on, challenge, and ultimately understand how everyone thinks things should work. A third way is to encourage teams and groups to share their ideas with each other using graphic templates rather than slide decks. Slides help the individual develop ideas, but do not invite enough engagement and interaction in most cases to allow others to come to new insight. Large murals and sketches, sticky notes and timelines allow groups to develop ideas all together at a rate that everyone can absorb. Drawing and diagramming is a way of thinking in and of itself. Consciously picking different formats to work with is like going to a brain gym and working out all the different mental muscles available to human beings.
Please describe some of your favorite visualization techniques and technologies.
A. Telling a group story visually is a winner in any kind of situation where you need to onboard new people, reflect on the past for insights, reinforce and think about values and culture. B. I love using graphic templates in small groups to create rapid prototypes of different things—like the general environment, possible visions, new business models, potential action plans—and then comparing for common themes and insights. Groups are full of wisdom and ideas if allowed the means to express them. C. Another favorite is taking strategy, visions, new business models, and other outputs from key meetings and turning them into story map posters that any leader can use to share the conclusions more widely. Treated like software, these large murals can go through versions and people provide input and feedback. The process of vetting the images aligns everyone who is involved, and makes the visuals very meaningful when they are eventually used in less interactive media. The technologies that allow these things to happen easily consist of readily available big paper from plotter printers, all variety of sticky notes in many color, many choices of water color markers, digital cameras and simple photo processing software. The professional tools for print production, infographic design, and video are easier and easier to use. There really is no technical barrier these days to being highly visual, as young people are discovering in explosions of interest.
What do you see is the future of visualization? And why is it important to get on board with this practice now?
In general, rich media is on the rise in all channels of communication. In business, because visualization is essential to systems thinking and design, and both these qualities are in high demand, visualization is also in increasing demand. This is probably why "design thinking" is so trendy right now. The fact that new touch technologies are transforming our ways of relating to the computer is bringing hand-creation back into vogue, so visualization goes beyond thinking to co-creating. In the future it's possible we'll see keyboards as a very outdated way to interface with information. Since a premium in any organization is having people engaged, understanding what they are doing, and remembering plans as everyone works on different aspects of a project—and these benefits come regularly when groups work together in visual ways. I believe you will see visualization become as standard as writing and calculating.
Forget oil, it’s creativity that may be our most elusive untapped resource. And it’s the reason why major global players like Google and 3M have famously allowed for “creative free time” at work, in which employees can engage in projects they’re passionate about for a nice chunk of time each week, be it a personal hobby or the like. This carte blanche on workplace creativity has been credited in leading to significant innovation at these companies. Moreover, they’ve given us insights on how to foster a more creative work culture, and are contributing to a greater movement in discovering how the brain can access and harness its amazing powers of creativity and innovation.
Daniel Guillory, CEO of Innovations International, is a recognized expert on creativity and innovation, having worked with Toyota Financial Services, Ronald McDonald House Foundation, Merck & Co., and many other corporations and non-profits. We asked him to share his top five book picks on creativity, the brain, and innovation for both in and outside the workplace, so you can better tap into that vast, subconscious well:
1. Innovators DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators by Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen, and bestselling author Clayton M. Christensen
2. The Dream Workbook: Discover the Knowledge and Power Hidden in Your Dreams by Jill Morris
3. Creative Visualization: Use the Power of Your Imagination to Create What You Want in Your Life by Shakti Gawain
4. The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born. It's Grown. Here's How. by Daniel Coyle
5. The Little Book of Talent: 52 Tips for Improving Your Skills by Daniel Coyle