The Art of Being Direct

Feedback Criticism Talent_managementHave you ever held back from providing insight because you were afraid of how the news might be received?  It’s wise to think twice about delivery.  After all, communication is more about the perceived message than it is about the actual words of the speaker.  Reframing can shift an awkward message into a powerful opportunity for growth.

Feedback versus criticism

This is an important concept for managers to grasp: Feedback builds awareness and skills whereas criticism is judgmental and points out faults.  Before you deliver your message try future pacing it as a method of reframing.  Read the sentences below and ask yourself which would be more effective.

Criticism model (looks back, points out faults):

Great sale but too bad you forgot to ask the customer about an extended warranty on the new product.  We’re supposed to end all our sales conversations with an offer.

Feedback model (forward looking, builds skills):

Great sale.  What parts do you want to repeat with your next customer and what would you want to do differently?

Receiving criticism with grace

What if you’re on the receiving end?  Take a deep breath.  Don’t become angry or defensive — you’ll miss the salient points of the message and may alienate the speaker.  Listen for something you can learn from and thank the critic.


Who’s Listening to Your Customers?

The single biggest business advantage of social marketing is the ability to gather and learn from unsolicited comments about your services or products.  Whether you call them customers, clients, patients, prospects, contracts, whatever…  They’re talking.  They’re talking on Twitter.  They’re talking on Facebook.  They’re talking – and making recommendations – on LinkedIn.  Are you listening?

Social media is for kids – isn’t it?

Guess again.

  • The fastest growing demographic in social networking is the over 50 crowd. You may be astounded by the growth figures quoted in this Fast Company article.
  • 30% of CEOs have a Facebook page. According to Forbes most CEOs are cut off from their constituency.  Social media can give them just the vehicle they need to plug in.
  • Peter Aceto, ING Direct Canada’s CEO was asked for his thoughts on social media: “This space is all about immediacy. The level of interaction from our clients has surprised and delighted us and it’s kept us actively engaged in the conversation as its coming fast.”  Read the full interview here.

If that’s not enough for you, how about this…

Your competitors are listening to your customers.



Latest News From the World of Work

Curious about what’s happening in the world of work?  The staffing industry publishes a number of polls and research data to help us make sense of what’s happening now and what’s around the corner.  One such company with a rich library is ManpowerGroup.  They make their materials freely available via their online Research Center.  You will find white papers and employment surveys covering topics such as:

  • How corporations view social media
  • The demand for skilled trades
  • Recalibrating the corporate mindset re talent strategies
  • Optimizing your talent pool

Check it out.

ManpowerGroup Research Center

Twitter for research

Twitter is an excellent source of information.  With over 100,000,000 users you can find tweets about:

  • breaking news stories
  • real-time comments during professional conferences
  • recommended online articles
  • research materials for school projects
  • upcoming events
  • job leads (tons)
  • ideas for teachers
  • consumer tips
  • road construction warnings with alternate route recommendations

A better way to research

A little-known searching tip is to turn to a site called Twitter Search to find out what’s hot or to search on a particular topic of interest.  When you first access the site it will display the most popular topics – they’re called trending topics.  This will tell you what the Twitterverse is talking about right now.  To do your own search simply type one or more words in the search box and hit enter or click the search button.  Twitter Search will return pages of tweets containing your selected words.  You can use the results to cruise the Twitterverse or you can send the results out by Twitter, or you can create an RSS feed for yourself to stay on top of things.

If you’re responsible for a company why not find out what people are saying about your brand?  Twitter Search will serve it up to you quickly and uncensored.

Here’s some information you may not know about the Twitter community: 5 Traits You Will Find Common To Almost All Twitter Addicts

If you’re intrigued you may want to access the Twitter blog for up-to-the-minutes tips and tricks.

You can find me on Twitter – I’m SWrightBoucher.


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Considering a Career in the Staffing Industry?

It’s 4:00 p.m. on a sunny Friday afternoon in August.  It’s been a great week and you’re proud of what you and your team have done for clients.  Things are in order.  That’s when the phone rings and you find yourself listening to a high-strung voice at the other end of the line telling you they need 8 people for a last minute production shift due to start at 6:00 a.m. on Saturday.  This client is counting on you to get the right talent in place so that he can achieve his objectives.  What do you do?

Or try this one on for size.  During a regularly scheduled service review you learn that your client is working on a new marketing campaign.  She is asking you to source 30 customer service representatives with superior communication skills to man the phones for six months.  You have two weeks to complete the project and help this client drive a winning campaign.  What do you do?

Or this…  Your office has 11 data entry operators working on temporary assignments at a client site in the city.  Their work is nearly complete and they are counting on you to find them further work so there is no interruption in pay.  You have no assignments lined up for them yet.  What do you do?

Would you…

a) Rally the team, gather ideas and move into execution mode

b) Explain the limitations of your office and say you’ll try your best

c) Create a project plan and assign accountabilities

If you picked “c” – that could work provided you have great depth in the industry and your people trust you.

If you picked “b” – that’s a very honest response and if you really feel that it’s okay to try, the staffing industry is probably not the right place for you at this time.  Once we commit to a client we simply have to make it happen.

The ideal response is “a”.  Successful staffing offices are dynamic, loud, fast-moving and collaborative.  No one succeeds on their own.  It’s a team approach toward taking on big challenges and producing solutions that helps clients win.

Readers who find this compelling are welcome to contact me for an informational interview about working in the staffing industry.  You can either post a comment below, or connect with me on one of my social media accounts.

Start strong and stay safe

New employees starting soon?  Orientation sessions and safety training are the first opportunities you have to demonstrate your commitment to their success and help them have a safe and enjoyable employment experience.   This is a great time to dust off your health and safety manual and reinvigorate your new employee onboarding materials.

Statistics show that more accidents happen among new and young workers than in any other group.   It’s important to have skilled supervisors and managers in place to instill safe working habits in these employees.  Help your new employees start strong and stay safe.

Safety related resources:

Corporate Social Media – Are You In?

3d people partner.
Image by 姒儿喵喵 via Flickr

Someone said to me a couple of years ago they thought Twitter was a fad that would soon be forgotten.  Fast forward to 2010 and Twitter has surpassed 100,000,000 users… (see chart below).

This past weekend I was playing around on Facebook when I saw someone make a reference to Ocean State Job Lot.  Not knowing what it was, I searched the name on Facebook and found their page.  A post complaining about a store manager’s decision caught my eye when I saw that 7 minutes after the consumer complaint was posted the company replied with a direct telephone number and a promise to rectify the situation.  Next I saw a consumer requesting a deal – he suggested they have a 2-for-1 sale on the area rugs that had just arrived.  Again the company responded quickly — they thanked the consumer and said they would add his suggestion to the idea pot.  Wow.  I want to shop in this store.  Anyone out there think social media is a waste of their corporate resources?

Social Media Growth from 2006 to 2010 | D. Steven White.

Leader vs Manager – The Debate Continues

It’s become a widely debated question: Are leadership and management two distinct functions or are they one and the same?  In my own personal opinion I see them as separate functions but performed by the same person — albeit a very capable person.  If I have the vision and the leadership skills to paint a picture of a possible future for my team and get them inspired to action, I’d better also have the capability to measure execution and progress — otherwise all I’ve done is provided short term motivation and a pretty picture.  That’s where management meets leadership in my book.

Robert I. Sutton provides food for thought in a recent Harvard Business Review post:

To do the right thing, a leader needs to understand what it takes to do things right, and to make sure they actually get done.  When we glorify leadership too much, and management too little, there is great risk of failing to act on this obvious but powerful message.

The Manager Tools forum has an interesting manager-versus-leader conversation you can read here.

You might also appreciate this MIT video lecture on the value of experienced managers.

Clink this link to read the HBR post: True Leaders Are Also Managers – Robert I. Sutton – The Conversation – Harvard Business Review.

The Facebook Blog

Did you know that Facebook has a blog site?  This was news to me.  Scrolling through the titles I found quite a lot of helpful information.  Now that I think about it, it makes sense.  Facebook is so much more than just a place to let your friends know what you’re doing or where to meet.  For instance, did you know you can start your own page to track progress on upcoming events like a wedding or family reunion?  Would you like to learn more about photo album functionality?  The new features mean that there’s a lot more we can do with our pictures (but do remember to set appropriate privacy controls).

Some of the most interesting topics I found on the Facebook blog are:

  • Searching for Answers? Ask Facebook Questions
  • Making Facebook Photos Better
  • Families that Facebook Together, Stay Together

Here’s the link.  Hope you find it helpful.

Facebook | The Facebook Blog.

Releasing The Blogger Within

Tempted to become a blogger?  It’s easier than you might think.  Here are 5 steps to get you started.

1. Decide whether your blog will be personal, career based, or corporate.  Who are you writing for?  Your blog can be as public or as private as you wish – your desired readership will determine the content and perhaps even the appearance.

2. Choose a platform.  I love WordPress.  Start up is a breeze, it’s easy to maintain, you can post by email or by phone (yes, by phone!) and it’s totally free unless you want to own your own domain.

3. Write a charter.  This is where you record the purpose and goals of the blog.  The charter will keep your topics consistent and focused.  Your readers will appreciate this and you will spend less time trying to decide what to write next.

4. Make a publishing schedule and stick to it.  The best blogs publish about 3 times per week.  Go for frequency rather than length.  I like posts that are around 250 words.  This will force you to develop 2 awesome habits: brevity and clarity.

5.  Look for writing opportunities within your company, among your circle of friends, and as a guest blogger on others’ sites.  Is there a corporate blog you could contribute to?  Are they looking for volunteers for the corporate Twitter site?  Twitter is, after all, micro-blogging.  This will help round out your composition and creative skills and will expose you to a different group of readers.

Need Help With Your New Blog?

Bloggers are generous people.  Here are some of my favourite sites that will help you get started:

Happy blogging!  Send me a comment on this post and I’ll check out your blog.