Moving the Conversation From “We” To “You”

We’re all hungry to hear a good story

Scratch the surface in a typical boardroom and we’re all just cavemen with briefcases, hungry for a wise person to tell us stories. ~ Alan Kay

Read through a company’s report, website or social media. You will see how eloquent companies are at talking about themselves.

Mission statements, key messages and marketing campaigns help companies present themselves in the best possible way. Companies want to gain the trust of their stakeholders (i.e. customers, employees, shareholders, etc.). But when a company focuses too much on broadcasting its perfectly crafted PR message, it may fail to recognize its stakeholders’ communication needs and expectations.

Companies should employ a more personal and authentic communication style. McDonald’s improved its internal communications by getting rid of the press-release voice. Using a more human, universal voice not only increases engagement, but it can also positively impact a company’s bottom line.

In today’s digital age, when people’s attention span is almost non-existent, your various stakeholders appreciate when you make an effort to connect with them on a personal level. They want to hear stories. They want to see themselves in your brand. They want you to move the conversation from “we” to “you.”

Define Failure

https://www.flickr.com/photos/amboo213/4020584983/In life we often fail, we mostly fail. Think about it and you’ll see that we have to deal with more failures than successes. Let me expand on this idea.

If we quantify our failures — whether personal or professional — we notice that these significantly outnumber our successes (I would say about 80 percent failures and 20 percent successes). However, the impact of these failures is minimal compared to the impact of our few successes.

For example, a few years ago I applied to three graduate programs, but I was only offered one. While I didn’t get into two of the programs, the time I spent in the graduate program that accepted me transformed my life in very positive ways. When I was job hunting a couple of years ago, I applied to over 40 jobs and was only offered one. However, the skills I developed and the relationships I built in that one job have been invaluable in my career.

I think it all comes down to trust. The Bible says, “In his heart a man plans his course, but God determines his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). If in our course we stumble and fail, we shouldn’t let this discourage us. Instead we must trust that in the end it will all work out. After all, it is our few victories that lead to positive and significant change in our lives.

Be Less Strategic

https://www.flickr.com/photos/waponigirl/I am a big picture kind of thinker. By nature, I look for ways to improve processes, to make things more efficient. I consider myself an outcomes person rather than a process person. I like  the word “strategy.”

As a professional with five years of work experience, I realize that to move my career forward I need to be less strategic in how I approach work.

Strategy, industry challenges, and organizational culture interest me greatly. But I moderate the time and energy I spend thinking about these issues and spend the bulk of my time on the specific projects that I have been assigned.

In his book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” Stephen Covey differentiates between one’s Circle of Concern and Circle of Influence. A Circle of Concern encompasses that over which a person has little or no control. In my case, that means strategy, industry issues, and internal culture. On the other hand, my Circle of Influence is made up of things I can control. By focusing my time on activities within my Circle of Influence, I am not only more productive, but I also feel more accomplished because I see the results of my efforts.

My goal is to one day be in charge of a company’s strategy. The best way to get there is to be fully immersed in the day-to-day projects that I am assigned at work. After all, these are the types of projects that make up a company’s strategy, and this only prepares me for more responsibility and influence in my career.

No Vision. No Leadership

At a leadership workshop I attended the facilitator asked which was the most important quality of a great leader. Hands went up and almost everyone in the room had something to say. I raised my hand and said, “Passion.”

I used to believe that passion was the key quality in a leader. But since that workshop, I have come to learn that vision is actually more important than passion. A passionate leader can rally employees for a while. But visionary leaders inspire employees to imagine a better version of the organization and of themselves and to work towards it.

While passionate leaders can inspire others, passion alone cannot sustain that inspiration for very long. Herminia Ibarra – whose controversial paper looks at men vs. women in leadership roles – summarized well my point regarding the main quality of a leader: “No vision, no leadership.”

In an ideal world all leaders would be passionate visionaries whose energy and ideas are seamlessly transferred to employees. But if I had to choose between passion and vision, I say the latter.

Having said that, Dancing Guy for sure has passion.

Communication from the Inside Out

I am a communications professional with a passion for people and the role they play in organizations. In this blog I will write about strategic communications and employee engagement. I believe that an organization’s external communications always reflect its internal culture and operations. Thus an organization must get its house in order before it can communicate effectively with its different audiences.

I hope my ideas will get people thinking about what communications can and cannot do.