Tim McDonald graciously invited me to be one of the “speakers” at the My Community Manager Unconference in San Francisco. What I loved most about this invitation, apart from finally being able to give him a big hug (not virtual), was that there were no slides required. I was actually (finally) being asked to lead a conversation where everyone had an equal voice. And I was honored to be a discussion leader with an amazing group of thinkers and creators: Mark Babbitt, Jure Klepic, Kristie Wells and Chris Heuer. And while I have a huge amount of respect for them, the best part was the conversations with an amazing group of people making a difference in business today (there are way too many to mention). So, here we go …

Getting Back to Basics: Leading with Business

Ayelet Baron, Chief Instigator, Simplifying Work

Everyone wants to be in the know and keep up with the buzz. I am not sure if this all stems from how we were brought up in knowing about the coolest trends.  Is this as a result of magazines, television and social media networks telling us how to keep up, love, dress, look, work, play and live? I am sure anthropologists can easily answer these questions but I digress; or do I?

I am scared to count the number of conferences and events that are taking place today that are only focused on social media tools without the context of business strategy and the future of work. In 5 years, we will look back with astonishment that so many people got together (so often) to learn about tools (and we will know who won the war).

Two of the biggest business disruptors – instant messaging and SMS/Texting (the Fax machine was the first) – came from external sources (employees had access to them outside of work) and created a lot of discussion around network security. No one wanted to know how much company information was being discussed on open IM platform like Yahoo or MSN Messenger. In an effort to keep it behind the corporate firewall, organizations started bringing IM into the fold and even executives started adopting these tools. Why? We all know the answer: because it is was valuable to be able to share information with people who needed to know, regardless of what part of the world they were in. People adopt tools that are valuable to them.

And yet, in today’s world, the noise and hype around social media are deafening. People are increasingly overwhelmed because we are focusing on tools rather than business and social medis gurus are selling snake oil 2.0.

The conversation I led at the #CMGRUN centered on these key points:

  • First rule of social media is no one owns social media and, everyone owns social media. We need to stop fighting about which silo owns social media since the truth is that people will talk about your brand, whether you are there or not.  Organizations need to have social media policies that help employees. Don’t you want your sales force, for example, to be able to build relationships and gain intelligence by using social tools?
  • “Common sense is not that common.”  This quote from Voltaire that rings true today. While much has changed with technology, much about human beings has not changed. If an employee speaks in public, they are usually guided by their organization’s code of business conduct and cannot spill the secrets. Why would they not follow the same guidelines in social media?
  • We are finally moving away from snake oil and hype of social media so we can get back to business and focus on communication basics. We need to know how social media tools enable and not lead with them. I saw a tweet today: “Are you connected with us on every social platform?” with an attached instagram photo. Yikes, why do I need to? Am I in your tribe? Common sense is not that common.
  • It’s all about relationships. Humans need other humans and the best way to connect is through relationships. And there are so many ways to achieve this goal and measure it; if you start with the end in mind. Always start with the problem you are trying to address and it never should be “we are not on Facebook” unless that’s where your community is today.
  • People change behavior, both at work and in their personal life, in stages:

Commitmen Curve

  1. We first need to be aware of the change.
  2. We need to understand why we are changing. Why the status quo is no longer tenable and what the future holds. We need to understand it on a number of levels.
  3. This is where most initiatives fail and the most important stage: translation. This is where we need to help people translate it to their every day work. We need to give them tools and help them.
  4. Our job is never done at adoption. People may adopt this as a new way of working, for example, but they can still opt out.
  5. Until you get to internalization, you need to continue to communicate, measure and make sure that everyone can get to the new way of working or living. Internalization means it’s how we do it every day (until the next initiative is announced).

If you integrate the commitment curve and understand how people change behavior, you can use it as a tool every day in your business and personal lives. I have been using this framework for many years both in coaching leaders and also implementing large, complex changes (and simple ones as well) and it has helped me to incorporate business metrics to show the results to executives.

Keep Going: Connect and Make A Difference

Some sweet tweets from new friends summarize what I wanted to leave everyone with and also gave me the courage to keep going: sharing, talking, writing and helping leaders pave the way when it comes to work and life.

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