The 3 Little Pigs: A Business Story

Once upon a time, there were three little pigs.
Characters
Building Materials
Action
Reaction
Confidence Level
Ability to Create Happy Ending
1st Pig
Straw/ hay
Built a house
Freaked out when house was blown down
Low
Extremely low
2nd Pig
Sticks
Built a house
Freaked out when house was blown down
Medium
Low
3rd Pig
Bricks
Built a house
Took in brothers who were not capable of building sturdy house
High
High
Wolf
N/A
Blew pig houses down
Freaked out when he could not blow down a house of bricks
Very High
Low

The end.

Wait, that wasn’t a good story?  Isn’t that how you remember it?  Well, it has all the key components that you need to know.  It has the who, the what and the how.  It also has information on the results.  So, what’s missing?

The truth is, you would never present that table to someone who wanted to know the story of The Three Little Pigs.  Even though it has all the components of the story, the information is not connected and does not provide any context about how the actions played out using the materials and the skills of the little pigs.  As I presented it to you today, it’s just a group of facts and it does not help paint a picture your brain is willing to buy in to.

The business world is made up of people who grew up hearing stories.  From birth, we train our brains to make connections between data and the world around us.  We get a satisfied feeling when we understand the data and are able to react to the story it tells.  The problem is, data doesn’t tell a story on it’s own.  It takes someone to weave it together in a way that creates interest for the listener.  The listener needs to understand what is in it for them, what the impact is, and how their reaction can impact the story.

I continue to see this as an area of needed development for many leaders.  For years, we’ve been focused on getting our hands on our organizational data, and that is finally happening in a big way.  What leaders are not as adept with is interpreting the data and then, telling a meaningful story with that data.  In my career, I have spent each day reading email with spreadsheets attached.  A majority of those email over the years have not included any story being told by the data.  This practice of attaching a spreadsheet and feeling like we’ve done our jobs should end.

So, as you start your day, please stop and think about the way you’re conveying your messages.  Are you just sharing facts, or are you adding real value and including your interpretation in the form of a compelling story?

You Are Beautiful

You are beautiful

Someone said this to me today.  It came at me during a moment when I least expected it, but when I clearly must have needed this karma, this love, from the universe.

you-are-beautifulI cried.  Not a lot, because I am the razor-sharp person who keeps tears bottled up inside.  But, a few spontaneous tears that seemed to take the weight of the world right off my shoulders.

You are beautiful

How could another person, several time zones away, with her own life and needs, make me feel like the most loved person with just three words?  I have no explanation.  But I do know that by sending me that message, she opened up my eyes and reminded me that our words matter.

ALL of our words matter.  When we compliment someone, we lift their spirit.  When we coach them, we prepare them for challenges and successes to come.  When we discourage them, we hurt them for a thousand future moments, not just that moment in time.  It’s simple really.

You are beautiful

It means something.  It feels like something.  It means that I’m valued, needed, wanted.  Reading those words, caused me to take a deep breath.  Breath to give me courage for things to come.  And it’s those breaths that we all need to get through the good times, the bad times.  The times.

You are beautiful

So, thank you Rachelle Roberts.  Your words made a difference today, and I’m grateful.

 

 

Top 2 Ways To Communicate…. with Me

twitter_birdHow do you like people to communicate with you?  Do you let them know?

I have talked to so many people over the years that complain about the way that they are “forced” to communicate.  Email seems to be the most disliked, if I’m using my totally unscientific research methods of word-of-mouth to compute.  I could write a whole post on email etiquette that would make it better, but suffice to say that there are only two rules to follow:

  1. Only include the people truly necessary
  2. If you are cc’d on an email message, DO NOT REPLY.  It is meant as an “FYI”, not as needing a response.  Nothing irks me more than an whole chain of email replies from people who were just cc’d.

As for other types of communications, I’ve learned that everyone has their top one or two ways to connect them for the fastest replies.  For me, everyone who knows me realizes that Twitter DM is the fastest way to reach me.  Text is second.  I try to make it known to anyone close to me that those are the best ways to reach me.

Do you do the same?

You may be thinking it’s presumptuous to ask other people to reach you in a certain way.  It’s not.  It is helpful.  You not only save them time, you save yourself frustration.  When I was a HR leader I would tell vendors that if they emailed me, they may not hear back for weeks because I received over 200 email each day.  I would tell them Twitter DM works best.  It was amazing how many used that contact method and it kept their ask or pitch concise.  I loved it.

I recently came across a post by my HR Happy Hour co-host, Steve Boese, in which he publicized how to reach him.  It’s also funny, so give it a read.  While written tongue-in-cheek, I think it’s a good example of how to tell people the best way to contact you without being offensive.

So, how do you like to be contacted?  Leave it in the comments and I’ll be sure to reach out to you in the future…

Revisit: The 5 Love Languages & How Yours Impacts Your Relationships

*From the dusty archives… I recently had a conversation with a friend about this book and it was a good reminder to revisit how understanding expressing love can help in all your relationships.

5-love-languagesI’m a believer that our personal lives and professional lives are intertwined and that it’s nearly impossible to separate or compartmentalize them.  So, when a manager or employee comes to me for advice, I try to look for clues to the big picture instead of just that situation.  Often when I’m assessing a situation, whether it is in my personal or professional life, I think back to a book I read ten years ago.  The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman.   Dr. Chapman is a well-known and respected pastor, author, and speaker.  And, while this book was written to assess and address the language of love that is meaning to someone on an individual level, I”ve found that there are many business uses for the book.

The basic premise Dr. Chapman asserts is that there are five “languages” of love and that each one of us has a primary language.  If your partner speaks a different “language”, there is a good chance you will not feel loved.  So, the idea is to identify your primary love language and your partner’s, then work to use the language the other person responds to best.

The five love languages

  • Words of Affirmation- This person identifies most with compliments and other words that say you value them.  If you insult this person, it will affect them more deeply than other people.
  • Quality Time–  This person values your undivided attention.  If you miss a meeting or appointment  with this person, they will truly be hurt.
  • Receiving Gifts–  It’s not just the gift that is important to this person, but the thought behind it.  If you miss this person’s birthday or anniversary, they may be crushed.
  • Acts of Service- This person feels happiest when you are showing your love by helping them.  Whether it’s pitching in on a chore at home or helping with a big project at work, this person will feel valued and cared for.
  • Physical Touch- This is not a language just about sexual contact.  The person that speaks this language feels important when they are hugged, get a pat on the back, or your hand on the shoulder.  This one is harder to demonstrate at work due to sexual harassment laws, however, it can still be demonstrated in moderation.  The pat on the back, fist bump, shaking hands, or high five can fill in and still show this person they are valued by using physical contact.

If you think about the people you work with; your team members, colleagues and peers, subordinates, try to figure out which language seems to apply most to each person.

Let’s imagine you’re the type of leader who is very busy and recognizes performance only with money (pay increases, spot bonuses, etc.).   You are speaking the Receiving Gifts language.  But if I am the person who works for you and my primary language is Quality Time, I will not feel valued or cared for.  The one thing that would make my day is to have you show up for a meeting on time or meet with me one-on-one.  Or, if I feel valued when you notice that I’m carrying a heavy workload and you offer to pitch in and help me meet a big deadline, you’re speaking my language of Acts of Service.

There are many benefits of learning your own love language and how you can use the love languages model to communicate more effectively with people in your personal and professional life.  You will build stronger relationships and have more engagement with the people in your life.  To take a quiz to find out your own love language, click HERE.  Then, tell me what your love language is in the comments. For anyone who has met me or knows me from reading my blog, there will be no surprise to my results.

Mine is physical touch and words of affirmation almost equally.  Must explain why I’m a hugger who likes compliments!  :-)

What Makes Technology “Sticky”?

technologyI was looking for something and came across a post I wrote back in 2010 called Mobile Technologies You’ll Want.  In the post, I mention several technologies that were still fairly new back then.  It was exciting to hear about them and I tried all three, however, four years later and I am no longer using any of them.  Fast forward to today and I’ve tried some new apps such as Whisper, Secret and Yo!  I may have lasted a day or two at most on these before I became bored and could not see the value of daily use.

So what makes some apps and technologies “sticky” to users while others are not?

The commonalties I see are:

  • Visually appealing-  The first step is creating a site or app that is visually compelling to the audience.  There are plenty of apps or technologies that can do a task or process but are so plain or inconsistently designed that potential users won’t waste their time.  Colors that compliment or enhance the content are best.  Dashboards or other structural design elements are also important.
  • Intuitive- No one likes to have to read through lengthy instructions.  The app or technology needs to give users the ability to pick it up and use it.  People are on the go with their smart phones and don’t want to have to participate in hours of training.  The other thing is that you need some basic instructions easily visible with one click.  That gives a quick glimpse or how-to should people need it.
  • Makes you want to tell others to use- I remember when I really figured out how to use Twitter for business.  It was back in 2009 and I wanted to shout it from the rooftops.  I wanted to teach colleagues, share it with all my friends and stop strangers on the street to tell them how it could change their networking.  A great app will be one you’ll want to spread the word about.
  • Understood Value-  This is where many of the apps and technologies fall apart.  Take Yo! for example.  It was colorful and easy to start using.  I just never figured out why people would use it.  If you’re not familiar, the app allows you to send the word “yo” to your contacts.  That’s it.  Then, they can send it back to you.  I guess it’s like the old FaceBook poke or like waving at someone across the room.  So a friend says “yo” at me…now what?  I still prefer a text, tweet or other method where I can use more than one word.

The last thing that I see as a value is a little more personal and certainly all opinion.  I think apps or technologies that do well long term also are not intended to be used for harming someone.  Some of the new apps being created encourage users to be passive aggressive, or even aggressive, in tearing down others.  As a parent, I am even more sensitive to those apps.  All social media can be used in this way, but some are specifically designed for this purpose.

What makes an app or new site “sticky” from your perspective?  What apps are you using regularly that we should all know about?  Be sure to share in the comments.

 

 

The Importance of Getting Someone’s Name Right

a-640-whats-in-a-nameSometimes when I write, it’s because I’m frustrated with things that happen.  Today is one of those days.  I seem to get bombarded with requests from strangers who do two things:

  1. They are asking me to do work for them for free (write, speak, etc.)
  2. They use the wrong name when they contact me.

I’m all in favor of using someone’s name when you reach out to them, especially if you don’t know the person and you’re trying to make the email or message more personal.  However, I do not have forgiveness for sales people who take the step of using my first name and then get it wrong.  This shows that I am not important enough for them to pay attention to the details in their message.  If that is the case, then I already know we would not likely make a good business partnership.

We all love to hear people use our names.  It gives the impression that we matter and that they are paying attention.  When the opposite happens and the wrong name is used, the negative effect can be far greater than had they not used the name at all.

My advice to all the sales people out there is a) only use a person’s name if you’re sure you have it correct and b) if you don’t have time to make it personal, just start your message with something like “Good Morning” or “Good Afternoon”.

Have you had this happen to you?  How have you handled those messages?  Do you reply?  Delete?  Share in the comments.

#HRHappyHour 186 – A Look Back, A Look Forward

On our most recent HR Happy Hour Show, Steve and I talked about the recently concluded SHRM Annual Conference, shared some information about our session about HR Technology selection and evaluation, and looked back over the last few years of the HR Happy Hour Show.

You can listen to the show on the show page here, or using the widget player below:

Discover Business Internet Radio with Steve Boese Trish McFarlane on BlogTalkRadio

The mid-year timing made it a good time to reflect back a little on some of our favorite shows, as well as talk about what the rest of 2014 has in store for the show. Also, new listeners to the HR Happy Hour Show can spend some time digging back through the show archives and play on-demand some of the shows that Steve and Trish mentioned, including ones with guests like Dave UlrichSherry TurkleMatt Stillman‘Live from Gettysburg’, and plenty more.

Additionally, you can subscribe to the HR Happy Hour Show on iTunes, or for Android device users, from a free app called Stitcher Radio. In both cases just search for ‘HR Happy Hour’ and add the show to your podcast subscription list. 

This was a fun look back and look forward for us, so we hope you enjoy it as well. Stay tuned, (and make sure you subscribe to the show/podcast) for more fun to come in the second half of the year.

Working Through Issues By Writing

journal-writingWhen I was a little girl, I kept a diary.  I loved it because it was yellow, it had Ziggy on the cover, and most of all because it had a lock and kept my thoughts private.  I was never any good at writing in it daily though and before long, I gave it up.  Fast forward to college and I rediscovered my love of writing.  This time, I realized that it’s not necessarily important to write every day, but to make sure I use writing as a way to work through my thoughts and ideas.

Since those college days, I’ve had many journals.  Then, I found blogging.  This medium works perfectly for me because I find that I like to share my ideas.  Through this sharing, I find support, challenge, new ways to look at the world and a way to meet people.  But, for every post I write that is public, I have my trusty journal that I still use to hand write all my ideas.

Sometimes, what I’m writing about is so personal, so hurtful or hard, that I do not share.  I say that now because when I have issues going on, it makes it really difficult to write HR or business-related posts here.  I’m having one of those times now.

I have been dealing with two very sick, elderly dogs at home.  One had throat cancer and the other had dementia.  I had to make the tough decision on Good Friday to put them to sleep.  Add that to some personal issues and it’s the perfect storm of being less inspired.  So, please hang in there with me as I get back in the writing saddle.