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Web Content: What Does It Say About You?

Written by Nick Kellet

In today’s digital world of work, all of us are content consumers and producers. Our personal brands are defined by the thousands of ways we express our preferences and communicate our personal values. Our choices become us.

This is the power of social media in the age of self-expression. We can be anything we choose. We’re defined both by our inputs and outputs:

• We are what we create.
• We are what we consume.
• We are what we share.

What’s more, our experiences with content reveal how we learn, across multiple dimensions:

• What we know and aspire to know;
• What we like and dislike;
• What sources of information we trust;
• Who we know and want to know.

It’s useful to see how, why and where we share ideas, because this helps us understand the social learning process. I’m particularly fascinated by this “social” side of learning, because my company (Listly) exists to help others easily find, organize and share meaningful information on the web.

Let’s Look Closer at Digital Content

Recently I analyzed popular content networks like YouTube and Slideshare — comparing them to social networks like Facebook and Twitter. I concluded that both types of content sources have their own unique advantages. (For details, see my posts about Content Networks and Social Networks.) I also concluded that there are 6 key types of “sharable” digital content: Video, Audio, Slides, Lists, Graphics and Documents.

Shareable Content: Content Networks

(Infographic: Courtesy of Visually)

We can freely create and embed these types of content in blog posts. We can also share them directly with others on social media and through private communication channels. It’s now easy to track and measure activities involving any of these content types, so we can understand what works best in various scenarios. The metrics also help us decide which content is worth consuming.

I took the analysis one step further and devised a quick way to perform a blog content audit. This enables us to generate a “snapshot” of any blog’s content mix, and compare that profile with others. The results appear in a customized “trading card” for each blog.

This initiative began by focusing on 22 top blogs, but because we’ve received such a strong response, we’re now expanding that scope and deepening our analysis.

Sample Blog Analysis: TalentCulture

To illustrate how the process works, let me explain how I audited TalentCulture.com. I reviewed the site’s most recent 25 posts, and simply tagged posts that include videos, slides and other content elements. If a post contains more than one type of embedded media, all the content elements are counted. Here are the results, in our “trading card” format:
TC TradingCard

Interpreting Results

So what does this all mean? Relative to other blogs we’ve analyzed, TalentCulture very frequently features lists, with videos as a secondary form of content. Audio, slides and graphic content play a much less prominent role, compared to benchmark sites.

What is the perfect mix of “sharable” content elements? That’s a hard question to answer, because each blog serves a different audience. However, here are results from 70+ blogs analyzed thus far:

Blog Audit Benchmarks

Key Takeaways

Here are some recommendations worth noting, based on our findings to-date:

1) Consider “mixed media” a strength. There’s clearly a trend toward posts that include multiple content types.

2) Include slides and video where possible/applicable. (Don’t just embed your own content — shine a light on the work of others.)

3) Transform existing content into other forms of media, when appropriate. (For example, turn a blog post into a slidedeck or a video.)

4) Make sure you integrate some audio content — whether it’s a podcast or simply a recording of an author reading post content aloud.

5) Lists are the most frequently used form of content. Blog posts that include a list in the title are usually popular, simply because they imply that the content will be easy to skim.

6) Include “Pin-friendly” images, with meme-worthy quotes in your posts. This lends itself to sharing — images with text are much more meaningful than isolated images without written context.

7) Use embedded content to break-up your copy visually. This makes your body copy more approachable and easier for visitors to digest.

8) Consider performing a similar content audit of blogs from competitors or from thought leaders who have creative blogs that your admire.

9) Be aware of your content mix, and follow a weekly or monthly format that repeats themes. This makes it easy to manage your mix.

In summary: You are a reflection of not only what you write, but also of the content that you include in your digital space. Aim to help people think of your content as fun and easy to consume. It will create a more inviting experience for visitors, and will add a more authentic human personality to your web presence and your brand image.

(Editor’s Note: To request a content audit of your blog, “like” Nick’s “Top Content” post at Slideshare and add your URL in the “comments” area of that post. We look forward to hearing about your score!)

015_img_2801(Author Profile: Nick Kellet is co-founder of social curation platform Listly. He believes that effective curation is as much about listening and engaging as it is about publishing and the tools themselves. A serial innovator who loves to jump domains from board games to business intelligence, Nick also believes that passion in the company of friends and community is an unstoppable force.

Connect with Nick on Twitter, on LinkedIn and on G+, and follow his writing via his other guest posts and on his blogs at NickKellet.com and at blog.list.ly.)

Social Learning: Making Connections Count #TChat Preview

(Editor’s Note: Want to see a full overview of this week’s event’s and resources? Read the #TChat Recap: Crowdsourcing — Hot Mess or High Art?)

Learning. It’s fundamental to human personal and professional growth. And increasingly, corporations recognize its critical contribution to overall business growth.

But how is the learning process changing in today’s more connected, “social” world of work? Are we making the most of opportunities to collaborate? How can we leverage personal and professional networks to be smarter and more effective in every aspect of our lives?

This week, our “Summer Restart” series moves beyond last week’s crowdsourcing event, to focus more specifically on how to get more out of tools and techniques designed to curate and share collective wisdom.

Our guest brings unique, first-hand understanding of how and why collaborative learning can enrich our lives, improve professional performance and drive business innovation.

Nick Kellet is a pioneer in applying purposeful collaboration to business challenges and opportunities. He is co-founder of List.ly, a service that empowers people to create, manage, share and engage with the web’s best lists.

Nick helped me frame this week’s events by discussing his perspective on social learning in a brief G+ Hangout:

#TChat Events: Connecting Collaboration and Success

This week’s topic is destined to shift your collaborative spirit into high gear. So be sure to join us on Wednesday, July 31, for a dynamic #TChat double-header. Bring your questions, concerns, ideas and suggestions, and let’s talk!

#TChat Radio — Wed, July 31 at 6:30pmET / 3:30pmPT

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Tune-in to the #TChat Radio show

Nick joins our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman for a thoughtful look at why and how collaboration tools and techniques are redefining how we live, work and play. Listen live and dial-in with your questions and feedback!

#TChat Twitter — Wed, July 31 at 7pmET / 4pmPT

Immediately following the radio show, we’ll go wide with Nick for an open-mic community discussion on the #TChat stream. We welcome anyone with a Twitter account to join us, as we explore collaboration and learning together, with these questions as a guide:

Q1:  Social learning — what exactly is it and why is it exploding?
Q2:  What soft skills are needed to facilitate collaboration online and offline?
Q3:  How do collaboration and knowledge sharing enrich our integrated work/life lives today?
Q4:  Nick says “We are what we consume, produce and share.” Agree? Why/why not?
Q5:  What technologies enable social learning and collaboration today? What’s missing?

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed and on our new LinkedIn Discussion Group. So please join us share your questions, ideas and opinions.

We’ll see you on the stream!

Where Do You Find Ideas and Insight? #TChat Preview

(Editor’s Note: Looking for the #TChat Recap from this week? See this post: Lessons From a Free-Rand Learning Community.)

Our Best Source of Wisdom: You!

One of the most powerful benefits of professional communities like TalentCulture is the ability to tap into individual minds in real time, for the benefit of all. That’s a primary reason why I’m drawn to community management. It’s exhilarating and very rewarding to be part of a collaborative learning process. And this week at our #TChat Twitter forum, we’re taking that concept in a special direction.

Instead of asking guest experts to discuss their insights with us on #TChat Radio and Twitter, we’re asking YOU to share YOUR wisdom. Specifically, we want to know what sources of professional information and ideas are most beneficial to you…and why. (See our 6 key questions below.)

The guest moderator this week is our very own LinkedIn Group Manager, Dr. Nancy Rubin, Director of Online Learning/Social Media Technologies at Columbia University School of Continuing Education.

Let me kick-off the conversation with an example from my life. Earlier this year, I read a book that deeply resonated with me, as someone who’s life revolves around connections. The book is “Your Network Is Your Net Worth,” by Porter Gale. To understand more about why I recommend it, read a post from my blog, or watch my #TChat “sneak peek” video below…

Your Opinions Matter!

Every answer you share with us will help kick-start a new “Resources” section for TalentCulture.com. And, of course, your feedback about #TChat topics will help us shape the community throughout the coming year.

So don’t be shy — we welcome your ideas this week, and every week!

#TChat Twitter: What Informs And Inspires You — And Why?

A Very Special Conversation: Wed, July 24 at 7pmET / 4pmPT

Join us on the #TChat stream, as we gather your ideas and recommendations, based on these 6 questions:

Q1:  What 1-2 “must read” books would you recommend to a business peer? Why?
Q2:  What 1-2 blogs are most indispensable to you, professionally? Why?
Q3:  What 1-2 socially active thought leaders are most influential in your life? Why?
Q4:  What are your 1-2 “go-to” tools for managing social connections or information? Why?
Q5:  What prior #TChat topics have helped you most? Why?
BONUS:  What topics would you like #TChat to explore in the future?

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed and on our new LinkedIn Discussion Group. So please join us share your recommendations — before, during and after the Wednesday event.

We’ll see you on the stream!

(Also This Week: Catch TalentCulture CEO, Meghan Biro at a special “Recruiting Insights” webinar with Achievers on Thursday July 25. Learn more…)

Recruiters On Twitter: Rise of "Coffee Talk" Learning

Written by Mona Berberich

In college, one of my teachers regularly told me that the room with the coffee maker is the most important place in an office, because it’s where people learn the most. At the time, I thought that this guy was perhaps a lazy coffee addict who was definitely in the wrong job.

However, 10 years later, I realize that he was right. The space near the coffee machine was where people gathered to briefly put work pressures aside and open up in an informal way — sharing what was on their minds, getting advice from peers and even generating new ideas.

The New Coffee Room

Today, there’s a whole new world of coffee rooms out there — it’s called social media. Whenever people tweet, retweet, read, share or like, they are contributing to something bigger — the social learning community. One of the most important platforms for social learning is Twitter, where many business people “gather” to share information and ideas on an ongoing basis. These behaviors are studied by companies like Leadtail, a social analytics platform vendor, which published a detailed Social Insights Report last week, focused on the Twitter activities of HR professionals.

That report deserves attention because the HR community is vital in transforming workplace culture, defining social business policy, and driving workforce development. In short — talent-minded executives, recruiters and training professionals are shaping the future of social learning.

What Is Social Learning?

For those who aren’t familiar with it, think of social learning as a process where people rely on digital tools to connect with one another, and exchange information with a specific purpose in mind — typically to expand their knowledge, to develop their competence, or to collaborate in resolving a common challenge. In contrast to formal classroom training, where an instructor “lectures” to a group, social learning is characterized by a two-way communication flow. Thanks to advances in mobile, web and collaborative technology, most of us can engage in social learning whenever and wherever we want. And Twitter is one of the most powerful engines of social learning — with information flowing on the stream 24x7x365.

Who Helps Recruiters Learn?

At the request of ERE.net, Leadtail also drilled down within the HR realm to focus on Twitter behavior among recruiters — looking at engagement, reach and sources of influence from March-June 2013. During that time, recruiters shared 55,576 tweets with a total of 835,336 followers. And, as the graphic below reveals, Meghan M Biro, founder and CEO of TalentCulture, is the HR personality that recruiters most often retweeted.

ERE_Recruiters_MeghanMBiro

When you recognize that Meghan has attracted almost 56,000 Twitter followers to-date, the reach and importance of her Twitter presence becomes clear. A single tweet immediately can touch 56,000 people. But her impact doesn’t stop there. As the “most retweeted” recruiter resource, her Twitter “multiplier effect” is astonishing. For example, even if only 10% of her followers see and read a tweet, and only 4 followers retweet that item to their followers … and so on … and so on … you get where this is going. Even one tweet has the potential to get attention from thousands of people, over time. (Example below.)

The ERE.net Leadtail report features several other key metrics — top 25 media content sources, leading brands that attract recruiter attention, and recruiters’ favorite hashtags. Among those hashtags is #TChat – a moniker that many people associate with Meghan M Biro. Anyone can use the #TChat shorthand to “tag” information of interest to talent-minded professionals. It’s also the tag used to drive the TalentCulture community’s weekly interactive Twitter chat events. Bottom line: It’s hard to move around the Twittersphere and not bump into Meghan or TalentCulture in some form!

Social Learning Hot Spot

As these examples show, Twitter is becoming a magnet for social learning — by facilitating informal knowledge exchange, topic-driven chat events, or even backchannel for industry conferences (as recruiters discovered recently when rallying around the #SHRM2013 hashtag). The attraction is easy to understand. It’s a simple, low-cost, immediate way to engage with people — and it’s a natural extension of social recruiting best practices.

Many recruiters are now at the forefront of social learning on Twitter. And as a recent Huffington Post article suggests, people like Meghan M. Biro are leveraging Twitter to engage the HR community in a way that not only positions her as an expert, but also boosts the credibility and visibility other HR professionals, as well.

What’s Your Social Learning Hot Spot?

Are you a recruiter or HR professional? How are you using Twitter or other social tools to expand your expertise? What challenges and opportunities have you experienced? Let me know in the comments below, or share your perspective on the BetterWeekdays website!

Mona Berberich2(Editor’s Note: Mona Berberich is a Digital Marketing Manager at Better Weekdays, a Chicago-based company that has developed a platform to help HR leaders source, screen and develop talent based on job compatibility. She is a researcher and writer covering HR, career growth, talent management and leadership development. Contact Mona on Google+ or LinkedIn or Twitter.)

 

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

Recruiters On Twitter: Rise of “Coffee Talk” Learning

Written by Mona Berberich

In college, one of my teachers regularly told me that the room with the coffee maker is the most important place in an office, because it’s where people learn the most. At the time, I thought that this guy was perhaps a lazy coffee addict who was definitely in the wrong job.

However, 10 years later, I realize that he was right. The space near the coffee machine was where people gathered to briefly put work pressures aside and open up in an informal way — sharing what was on their minds, getting advice from peers and even generating new ideas.

The New Coffee Room

Today, there’s a whole new world of coffee rooms out there — it’s called social media. Whenever people tweet, retweet, read, share or like, they are contributing to something bigger — the social learning community. One of the most important platforms for social learning is Twitter, where many business people “gather” to share information and ideas on an ongoing basis. These behaviors are studied by companies like Leadtail, a social analytics platform vendor, which published a detailed Social Insights Report last week, focused on the Twitter activities of HR professionals.

That report deserves attention because the HR community is vital in transforming workplace culture, defining social business policy, and driving workforce development. In short — talent-minded executives, recruiters and training professionals are shaping the future of social learning.

What Is Social Learning?

For those who aren’t familiar with it, think of social learning as a process where people rely on digital tools to connect with one another, and exchange information with a specific purpose in mind — typically to expand their knowledge, to develop their competence, or to collaborate in resolving a common challenge. In contrast to formal classroom training, where an instructor “lectures” to a group, social learning is characterized by a two-way communication flow. Thanks to advances in mobile, web and collaborative technology, most of us can engage in social learning whenever and wherever we want. And Twitter is one of the most powerful engines of social learning — with information flowing on the stream 24x7x365.

Who Helps Recruiters Learn?

At the request of ERE.net, Leadtail also drilled down within the HR realm to focus on Twitter behavior among recruiters — looking at engagement, reach and sources of influence from March-June 2013. During that time, recruiters shared 55,576 tweets with a total of 835,336 followers. And, as the graphic below reveals, Meghan M Biro, founder and CEO of TalentCulture, is the HR personality that recruiters most often retweeted.

ERE_Recruiters_MeghanMBiro

When you recognize that Meghan has attracted almost 56,000 Twitter followers to-date, the reach and importance of her Twitter presence becomes clear. A single tweet immediately can touch 56,000 people. But her impact doesn’t stop there. As the “most retweeted” recruiter resource, her Twitter “multiplier effect” is astonishing. For example, even if only 10% of her followers see and read a tweet, and only 4 followers retweet that item to their followers … and so on … and so on … you get where this is going. Even one tweet has the potential to get attention from thousands of people, over time. (Example below.)

The ERE.net Leadtail report features several other key metrics — top 25 media content sources, leading brands that attract recruiter attention, and recruiters’ favorite hashtags. Among those hashtags is #TChat – a moniker that many people associate with Meghan M Biro. Anyone can use the #TChat shorthand to “tag” information of interest to talent-minded professionals. It’s also the tag used to drive the TalentCulture community’s weekly interactive Twitter chat events. Bottom line: It’s hard to move around the Twittersphere and not bump into Meghan or TalentCulture in some form!

Social Learning Hot Spot

As these examples show, Twitter is becoming a magnet for social learning — by facilitating informal knowledge exchange, topic-driven chat events, or even backchannel for industry conferences (as recruiters discovered recently when rallying around the #SHRM2013 hashtag). The attraction is easy to understand. It’s a simple, low-cost, immediate way to engage with people — and it’s a natural extension of social recruiting best practices.

Many recruiters are now at the forefront of social learning on Twitter. And as a recent Huffington Post article suggests, people like Meghan M. Biro are leveraging Twitter to engage the HR community in a way that not only positions her as an expert, but also boosts the credibility and visibility other HR professionals, as well.

What’s Your Social Learning Hot Spot?

Are you a recruiter or HR professional? How are you using Twitter or other social tools to expand your expertise? What challenges and opportunities have you experienced? Let me know in the comments below, or share your perspective on the BetterWeekdays website!

Mona Berberich2(Editor’s Note: Mona Berberich is a Digital Marketing Manager at Better Weekdays, a Chicago-based company that has developed a platform to help HR leaders source, screen and develop talent based on job compatibility. She is a researcher and writer covering HR, career growth, talent management and leadership development. Contact Mona on Google+ or LinkedIn or Twitter.)

 

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

Reboot: Personal Brands and the #TFT13 Conference

(Editor’s Note: We’re thrilled to welcome Nick Kellet to TalentCulture as a guest blogger. For more information about Nick, see his profile at the end of this post.)

For many members of the TalentCulture community, there’s only one conference this week — SHRM13, the Society for Human Resource Management annual meeting in Chicago. But I’d like to focus on another conference that happens on Tuesday. It’s called TomorrowsFutureToday (TFT).

At first blush, TFT may not seem relevant. The topic is IT service management. But TFT’s business model deserves a closer look. Founder Chris Dancy is leading a movement to rethink every aspect of conference design and management — including how speakers are recruited, how content is created and shared, and how participants engage during live sessions and beyond.

This fascinating story lives at the intersection of social business, content strategy and technology. It’s a disruptive model that signals the growing power of crowdsourcing, expert networks and personal branding. It touches on many of the same issues and opportunities that are redefining the “world of work.” And from that perspective, it’s an inspiring example for TalentCulture.

Snapshot: What Sets TFT Apart

TFTResultsTFT is a semi-annual, one-day “follow-the-sun” virtual conference, where 24 experts from around the globe speak for an hour each. Unlike classic conferences, the speakers are selected by professional practitioners and peers (via Listly). This replaces the “old-boy” model, where conference organizers control the agenda. Very cool.

Even cooler, all the speakers are paid. Yes, all of them. What’s more, the content “lives” long after the conference. Presentations are recorded and automatically converted into trans-media assets (slides, video, audio and transcribed text) that are reusable across a wide spectrum of digital channels. (This is accomplished via Zapier.)

  • Speakers are encouraged to redistribute content anywhere they wish, indefinitely
  • Access to all content is absolutely free to anyone who is interested, forever
  • The overall event experience — before, during and after — has a big impact on its perceived value
  • Similar to TED Conferences, the agenda development process ensures superior quality speakers and content. No pressure.

Implications for Personal Branding

The first TFT conference occurred in December 2012. That inaugural event demonstrated not only strong community engagement that won sponsorships, but also helped boost awareness and credibility of its speakers. Fact: since their appearance in December, half of the speakers have moved on to bigger and better professional roles.

So, what does that say about the power social media exposure, and its influence on personal brands? Chris Dancy took several moments to discuss this and several other related questions:

1) How do collaboration and social community relate to personal brand building?
“Collaboration and social community are the foundation of personal branding. Both depend on systems of attention, influence and altruism. Personal brands don’t transfer in hyper-digital economies without conscious consumption of community content. By serving the community first as a consumer, you then have the ability to understand the needs of that system. You have two ears, one mouth and 10 fingers — talent observes before it offers suggestion.”

2) Can you really crowdsource your way to a “brand” new career? How can others do so?
“I don’t believe you can crowdsource your ‘brand.’ You can crowdsource your values. If those values are stronger than the habits of a community, then your brand and career will reflect these systems. Others suffer from being overwhelmed by information, tech and connections. We must first teach people to make healthy tech and information choices. Healthy information diets are to the 2020’s what Tab cola was to the 1970’s.”

3) Did the speakers who landed new careers imagine this would be the outcome from a virtual conference culture?
“None of the speakers on TFT who transitioned to different careers imagined the vault in their careers.  The speakers at TFT12 and TFT13 never considered it a virtual conference. In large part, speakers felt honored to be selected by their peers. It was that empowerment that moved their careers. To feel worthy of attention and time in a climate short on both, is the brand found inside of confidence and outside of hubris.”

The next LIVE round-the-clock event is tomorrow, Tuesday, June 18, 2013. Click here to follow the action in real time, or check back anytime to find content after-the-fact. You can also follow the conference backchannel at #TFT13.

In the meantime, let me know what you think about this business model. Could this work for your business domain? And how could you shape and enhance your personal brand while sitting in front of your computer?

Interesting questions — and enterprising people like Chris Dancy are helping us fill in the blanks. Share your ideas below, or connect with me on Twitter @NickKellet.

Nick Kellet, Founder, Listly.com 015_img_2801(Author Profile: Nick Kellet is co-founder of social curation platform Listly. He believes that effective curation is as much about listening and engaging as it is about publishing and the tools themselves. A serial innovator who loves to jump domains from board games to business intelligence, Nick also believes that passion in the company of friends and community is an unstoppable force.

Connect with Nick on Twitter, on LinkedIn and on G+, and follow his writing via his other guest posts and on his blogs at NickKellet.com and at blog.list.ly.)

Connecting With Collaborative Leadership #TChat Recap

Early in March, I wrote a column for Forbes.com, focused on the consequences of collaboration. It was based on a simple but powerful premise:

Collaboration is the keystone of leadership success.

By coincidence, only days later I met Dan Pontefract, who introduced me to a theory he brings to life in his new book, “Flat Army: Creating a Connected And Engaged Organization.”

From the moment I skimmed the pages of Flat Army, I knew that this would be a profoundly rewarding “mind meld” relationship. That seems to be happening more frequently these days. I guess it’s one of the perks of spending most of my waking hours connecting with people who are on missions to unleash the best of human potential in the world of work.

During the months that have followed since I met Dan, he and his “Flat Army” open leadership model have validated what I have always believed:

Collaboration isn’t about being best friends, or even necessarily liking everyone you work with. It is about putting your baggage aside, bringing your best self to the table, and focusing on a common goal — a higher purpose.

Finding Proof: What’s On Your List?

Here’s why collaboration can make a difference. Take a quick moment, and make a list five products or services that you that you never want to live without. No rush — I’ll wait. OK. Got your list? Here’s mine: The iPhone. Downton Abbey. Pinterest. Kit-Kat Bars. Twitter.

Now, guess what? Every one of those items is the result of a successful collaboration. And I bet there’s a team effort behind every one of your “must haves,” too. Sure, some half-crazy genius like Steve Jobs may bring inspiration to the table. But inspiration without collaboration is just a lot of great ideas that easily vaporize before they see light of day.

Collaboration: Why And How

Hopefully, I’ve made a convincing case for WHY collaboration counts. But that’s only part of the equation. We also need a roadmap for HOW to make it happen. And Dan’s “Flat Army” is just the ticket. Together, our vision is complete. “Just like peas-and-carrots,” as Forrest Gump might say. Or at least that’s how I see it!

So this week, it seemed natural to fire-up the TalentCulture social engine, and ask all of you to weigh-in with your ideas about both the “why” and “how” of collaborative leadership. And as always, we weren’t disappointed!  I invite you all to review this week’s highlights and resources below. And I thank you all for your collaborative contributions — this week and every week.

As I said in closing my Forbes post (and as I believe even more strongly now), if you want to see what the potential for collaborative success looks like, you don’t need to look far, my fellow community members. Just look in the mirror. It starts with you.

#TChat Week In Review

WED 6/5

DanP

Watch the G+ Hangout now

Introductory Post: Our guest, Dan Pontefract, Senior Director, Learning & Collaboration at TELUS and author of Flat Army, framed the week’s topic in a special post, The Future of Work: An Army Of Open Leaders.

SAT 6/8

#TChat Preview + Sneak Peek Videos: Our Community Manager Tim McDonald, briefly interviewed Dan in a G+ Hangout. See the video in Tim’s post: “Open Leadership: Going Deep.”

SUN 6/9

Forbes.com Post: In my weekly Forbes column, I examined some ways leaders can effectively connect with their teams. Read “Open Up and Lead.”

TUE 6/11

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Listen to the #TChat Radio show

#TChat Radio: I sat down with Dan to discuss in more detail the power of open leadership — not only in the office but in society as well. Listen to the recording now: How Open Leaders Win Employee Hearts and Minds.

WED 6/12

#TChat Twitter: #TChat-ters joined us on Twitter to share opinions and ideas about the role and impact of open leadership in today’s world of work. If you missed the event, or want to review highlights, watch the slideshow digest below:

#TChat Highlights: Open Leadership, Going Deep

[javascript src=”//storify.com/TalentCulture/tchat-insights-open-leadership-going-deep.js?template=slideshow”]

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

SPECIAL THANKS: Again, thanks to guest Dan Pontefract! We’re inspired by your example and your passion for learning and leadership.

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about your experience with workplace collaboration, learning and leadership? We’d love to share your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we’ll pass it along.

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week, the Society For Human Resource Management annual conference takes Chicago by storm (#SHRM13)! That means we won’t have a Tuesday Radio show. But fear not! #TChat co-creator, KevinWGrossman and I will be reporting from the floor throughout the week — and we’ll drive two #TChat LIVE events:

1) A special “Margarita Meetup” panel discussion on Monday at 3:15pm in the Achievers booth;
2) A related #TChat session at our regular 7pm time on Wednesday.

For more details, see our related post: “Feeling The Future Of Work: #TChat Meets #SHRM13.” And join us anytime on the #TChat Twitter stream, or on our new LinkedIn discussion group. The gears are always turning at TalentCulture, and your ideas and opinions are always welcome.

See you — if not at #SHRM13, then most definitely on the stream!

(Editor’s Note: To see the original Forbes.com article by Meghan M. Biro, read  Smart Leaders And The Power Of Collaboration.)

Open Leadership: Going Deep #TChat Preview

(Editor’s Note: Are you looking to see all resources for this week’s topic? Read the #TChat Recap: Connecting With Collaborative Leadership.)

Think back for a moment on your career. Who’s been your favorite boss? How would you describe that person’s leadership style?

Is it a command-and-control approach, driven by business goals and results? Or does that leader win support, loyalty and cooperation by putting people first?

Hands down, I bet you picked someone from the second category — someone who embraces the social side of leadership. After all, studies reveal that your relationship with your manager is a key to engagement. And it’s natural to think favorably of professional experiences that engaged you.

You Had Me At “Hello”

This week’s #TChat guest, Dan Pontefract, calls this social-minded manager an “open leader.” And in his new book, Flat Army: Creating a Connected and Engaged Organization, Dan says it’s time for companies to move the open leader concept to a whole new level. As he explains in a recent TalentCulture post, the future of work depends upon army “open leaders,” where everyone in a company drives collaboration, regardless title or role.

For Dan, this is much more than a theory. As Senior Director of Learning & Collaboration at TELUS, he knows first-hand about the challenges and benefits of leadership development, workforce engagement and business performance. That’s why we’ve asked him to lead the way through #TChat discussions this week.

To give you a better taste of what the topic is all about, I spoke briefly with Dan in a G+ Hangout video. Check it out:

#TChat Events: How Open Leaders Win Hearts & Minds

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Tune-in to the #TChat Radio show

This topic touches on so many areas of interest and expertise across the TalentCulture community. I know many of you have related insights to add, so I hope you’ll join this week’s conversation!

#TChat Radio — Tue, June 11 at 7:30pmET/4:30pmPT – Dan joins our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman, for a LIVE 30-minute radio interview, where listeners are invited to call-in with questions.

#TChat Twitter — Wed, June 12 at 7pmET/4pmPT – Join the real-time community action, as we exchange ideas live on the #TChat stream, where Dan will moderate this week’s questions:

Q1: What does open leadership mean to you and why?

Q2: Can harmonious “soft skills” be developed in leaders at any age? Why or why not?

Q3: How does open leadership produce higher levels of performance and engagement within an organization?

Q4: What can business leaders do to encourage open self-leadership within all employee ecosystems?

Q5: What business technologies facilitate collaboration and open leadership?

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed and on our new LinkedIn Discussion Group. So please join us share your questions, ideas and opinions.

We’ll see you on the stream!

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

Future Of Work: An Army Of Open Leaders

(Editor’s Note: We’re thrilled that business collaboration and learning expert, Dan Pontefract, will be a featured guest soon at #TChat events. To set the stage, Dan shares insights below, adapted from his new book Flat Army: Creating a Connected and Engaged Organization.)

Flat Army? What the heck is a Flat Army?

Work environments need not feel like a military camp or a ruthless command-and-control operation. The process of work should be fun, innovative, creative and very engaging. I believe that the best way to create a connected and engaged organization is by invoking a “Flat Army” mindset. Why? Let’s unpack that analogy:

To be flat is to be on a level surface, not in a hierarchy. To be in an army (from armata, the Latin term referenced in 1533, meaning a flotilla of vessels) is to be part of a large group of people who are committed to similar aims or beliefs.

An organization with a Flat Army ethos benefits from an unobstructed flow of coordinated, constructive, creative behaviors that arise from the common interests of employees, leaders, partners and customers. It is a shift from “me” to “we,” using collaborative, participative and growth behaviors. Flat Army is a playbook that moves organizations toward increased engagement and innovation.

Profile Of A Flat Army Leader

flatarmy_frontcoverIn our Flat Army model, a harmonious, connected leader creates a situation where both the team and the leader are as open as possible to performing business tasks and achieving objectives. In an environment where even mundane day-to-day tasks are conducted in this open manner, there is harmony among all contributors, regardless of rank.

Openness — both as a quality of the leader and an expectation of the team — fosters a harmonious relationship among all parties. It’s arguably a step in the right direction towards higher levels of engagement, productivity and business results. A harmonious, open leader connects with the team — parlaying the culture as if it can only be successful when all parties are united, equal in nature and committed to openness. And if we agree that leadership is for all, we also wish that everyone in an organization will participate as a harmonious, open leader.

Getting Under The Hood With Open Leaders

I define open leadership as the act of engaging others to influence and execute a coordinated and harmonious conclusion. Therefore, open leadership is essential for every Flat Army organization.

A.G. Lafley comes to mind when I think of stellar Flat Army leadership. His name may not ring a bell, but I can assure you, he sets a standard of excellence for openness and collaboration. Between 2000 and 2010, Mr. Lafley was the highly successful president and CEO of Procter & Gamble (P&G) — the consumer products conglomerate with over $80 billion in revenue and over 125,000 employees worldwide.

Throughout his decade at the helm, he helped double total sales and quadruple profits, while increasing P&G’s market value by over $100 billion. Furthermore, he helped grow P&G’s portfolio of billion-dollar brands (such as Gillette, Pampers and Tide) from 10 to 24. How did he do it?

In his book The Game Changer: How Every Leader Can Drive Everyday Innovation, co-written with management thought leader, Ram Charan, Lafley refers to the unique relationship between openness and ideas:

Open architecture is the organizing principle that enables a business and its people to open themselves up to get ideas from anywhere at any time. P&G collaborates with anybody, anywhere, anytime. P&G likes unusual suspects. It will even compete with a company on one side of the street, and cooperate with it on the other. In an open innovation system, anything out there is fair game, even if competitors are sitting on it. And that’s fine with both partners because it works.

At P&G, Lafley opened up everything. He wanted his leaders to be more collaborative, and just as importantly, he wanted his employees to be open. As a results, magic happened. He branded this open architecture “Connect and Develop” or “C&D.” The framework reached across all employees, regardless of title, and it drove not only revenue and profitability, but also employee engagement.

Lafley and Charan explain:

The single characteristic of C&D is the willingness of all people at P&G to be psychologically open and to seriously consider new ideas, whatever the source, thus building a truly open global innovation network that can link up — and be first in line — with the most interesting thinkers and the best products to “reapply with pride.”

Lafley’s leadership example demonstrates what’s possible when a harmonious environment is created through a culture of open initiative. That is Flat Army in action. And perhaps that’s a key reason why P&G just rehired Lafley last month to lead the company forward.

The Open Leader Toolkit

Hopefully now the concept of open leadership is clear. But what are these social business and collaboration tools everyone keeps talking about? An open, Flat Army environment can’t thrive if leaders suffer from technology blindness or ignorance. In truth, tools for communication and collaboration are as integral to a Flat Army mindset as they are to employee engagement and productivity.

If your organization doesn’t embrace tools that support dynamic exchange of knowledge and ideas, then be a catalyst for change. Look for ways to integrate capabilities such as blogging, micro-blogging, expert networks, discussion forums, video sharing or instant messaging into existing platforms and workflows. Start using them to demonstrate that you are a connected, collaborative and participative leader who assists your team (and your organization) in achieving their goals and objectives — even as you strive for a high level of employee engagement and customer satisfaction.

What are you doing to help your organization embrace a Flat Army ethos? I invite you to share your ideas and experiences.

Photo: Dan Pontefract, author and head of learning and collaboration, TELUS(Author Profile: Dan Pontefract is the the author of “Flat Army: Creating a Connected and Engaged Organization.” He is also Head of Learning & Collaboration at TELUS where he is responsible for the company’s overarching leadership development, learning and collaboration strategy. Visit www.danpontefract.com for more about Dan’s professional experience, and his thoughts on the future of leadership and organizations.)

 

Image Credit: Pixabay

Communities of Practice and Purpose: #TChat Recap

“Every person is defined by the communities she belongs to.”
―from “Speaker for the Dead” by Orson Scott Card

I imagine that anyone who participates in the TalentCulture community agrees with this quote. Whenever any of us invests time or talent in #TChat events, social channels or this blog, a bit of our identity becomes connected to something larger than ourselves.

Of course that’s not unusual. The rise of the Internet has made community membership a common occurrence. In fact, “community” has become a buzzword for any group of people that uses digital technology to interact. But many business-related communities are much more than just loosely connected people. They are, like TalentCulture, communities of practice or purpose.

Here’s how social learning expert, Etienne Wenger, defines Communities of Practice: “Groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do — and who learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.” It’s important to keep in mind that this proccess of continuous learning isn’t necessarily intentional. It’s also important to remember that, although communities may start as a flash of inspiration, they must be cultivated. They require consistent presence, clear communication and sufficient resources to function and flourish.

Not every virtual community is a community of practice.  What differentiates them from others? According to Wenger, there are 3 critical components:

  • DOMAIN = shared topics of interest (e.g. today’s “world of work”)
  • COMMUNITY = members + their relationships (e.g. #TChat/TalentCulture social media connections)
  • PRACTICE = channels and collective body of knowledge (e.g. chat archives, video and audio interviews, blog commentary)

Want deeper insight into how you can get value from a community of practice? Watch this energetic, idea-packed video by Nancy White, who is passionate about the care and feeding of communities!

How do these community of practice concepts extend to enterprise communities? For insights and inspiration, check out our stash of resources from this week’s #TChat Forums. Throughout the week, experts challenged us to think in new ways about familiar community concepts.

#TChat Week in Review

SAT 5/25

Maria and Jeff

Watch video interviews in the #TChat Preview

#TChat Preview + Sneak Peek Videos: Our Community Manager,  Tim McDonald, framed the week’s topic in interviews with our special guests, Maria Ogneva, Director of Product Marketing at Salesforce Chatter Communities, and Jeff Willinger, Director of Collaboration, Social Computing and Intranets at Rightpoint consulting. See the preview: “Finding Value in Enterprise Communities.”

SUN 5/26

Forbes.com Post: TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro considered how business organizations can effectively apply community management principles and practices in her Forbes column, “5 Ways Leaders Empower The Social Enterprise.”

TUE 5/28

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen to the #TChat Radio show recording

#TChat Radio: Maria and Jeff joined our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman to examine key issues and opportunities associated with the care and feeding of digital business communities, in “Why Enterprise Community Management Works.”

WED 5/29

#TChat Twitter: As we do each Wednesday, #TChat-ters took to the Twitter stream to share ideas, concerns and opinions — this week about enterprise community best practices, with Maria and Jeff leading the way. Were you in on the action? If not, or to review highlights, watch the slideshow below:

#TChat Twitter Highlights: “Finding Value in Enterprise Communities”

[javascript src=”//storify.com/TalentCulture/tchat-insights-finding-value-in-enterprise-commun.js?template=slideshow”]

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

SPECIAL THANKS: Again, thanks to our guests, Maria Ogneva and Jeff Willinger. We’re inspired by your insights and passion for cultivating purposeful business communities!

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about digital communities? We’re happy to share your thoughts. Just post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we’ll pass it along.

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week — we’re shifting gears to look at the hiring process from the candidate’s perspective. How have employers improved about the hiring process — and what could be improved? You won’t want to miss it!

But until then, the World of Work conversation continues each day. So join us on the #TChat Twitter stream, or on our new LinkedIn discussion group. And feel free to explore other areas of our redesigned website. The lights are always on at TalentCulture, and your ideas and opinions are always welcome.

See you on the stream!

Finding Value in Enterprise Communities #TChat Preview

(Editor’s Note: Are you interested in reviewing all of this week’s events and resources? Read “Communities of Practice and Purpose: #TChat Recap.”)

If you know me, then you know that I’m passionate about communities — digital and otherwise.

My interest in cultivating communities is what drives me as manager at HuffPost Live and TalentCulture, and as the founder of My Community Manager. It’s incredibly gratifying to help people build useful relationships, and to facilitate an ongoing exchange of ideas that is bigger than the sum of its parts.

Digital communities aren’t just a nice idea. They’re also a huge potential source of business value for enterprise organizations, according to management consulting firms like McKinsey. Yet large companies often struggle with how to connect the social dots among their various constituents — employees, leaders, customers, business partners, and beyond.

What Makes a Great Enterprise Community?

Of course, great networking and collaboration tools are helpful in creating and sustaining any kind of social community. But it takes much more than a solid infrastructure. What does it take? That’s the focus of our TalentCulture #TChat forums in the coming week. And we’ve invited two experts to lead the conversation:

#TChat Sneak Peek Videos

Both guests briefly joined me for a G+ Hangout to set the stage. First Jeff defined key terms — explaining how enterprise communities differ from other social networking groups:

And then Maria explained why communities are essential in today’s business environment:

#TChat Events: Why and How Enterprise Communities Work

Need I say more? As you can tell from their interviews, these two experts are just as passionate as I am about exploring the benefits of business-oriented communities. And they’re eager to exchange ideaTChatRadio_logo_020813s with a circle of like-minded professionals. So please join us next week, and add your unique perspective to this very special “community” conversation!

#TChat Radio — Tuesday, May 28 at 7:30pmET / 4:30pmPT — Maria and Jeff join our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman, for a LIVE 30-minute discussion about enterprise community issues and opportunities.

#TChat Twitter — Wednesday, May 29 at 7:00pmET / 4:00pmPT — Calling all #TChatters to join us for an open online discussion on the #TChat stream. Come on over and share your thoughts. The more, the merrier!

Q1: What are the differences between social and enterprise communities?

Q2: Why has community development and management been more difficult for the enterprise?

Q3: What are best practices for enterprise community management?

Q4: What can business leaders and internal champions do to facilitate quality enterprise communities?

Q5: What community & collaboration technologies make sense for today’s enterprise?

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed and on our new LinkedIn Discussion Group. So please join us share your questions, ideas and opinions.

We’ll see you on the stream!

Workspace Design: Form, Function and Positive Feedback

“First we shape our buildings; thereafter, they shape us.”
Sir Winston Churchill

What a wise observation. I love the idea that we have a hand in creating a world that eventually influences us.

When I first heard this quote during last week’s “World of Workspaces” #TChat Radio show, I was fascinated. Workplace design expert, Chris Congdon of Steelcase, shared the concept as she talked about developing work environments that support organizational goals.

Among other things, Chris explained how physical workspace influences the way we feel and act. For example, if a company wants to foster collaboration, creativity and innovation, merely filling an office with tall cubicles and fluorescent lighting just isn’t going to cut it.

Great Workplaces: Beyond Tangibles

Her primary message was this:  The best places to work are designed from the inside-out. It’s not enough to consider only the tasks that must be accomplished in a space. Nor is it enough to focus on ergonomics that make those workflows more comfortable or efficient. Before we can build business spaces that optimize performance and engagement, we must understand human motivation and behavior in workplace settings.

Actually, on a larger scale, isn’t that how leaders approach corporate culture? Our mission is to create not just physical space, but complete ecosystems that bring out the best in every contributor. And in turn, that ecosystem rewards us in ways that reflect and reinforce our brand vision and values. It’s a continuous loop.

“First we shape our culture; thereafter, our culture shapes us…”

So, just as color schemes, work surfaces and lighting must be carefully considered when developing any physical workspace, we must be equally deliberate in developing organizational culture, piece by piece.

Snapshot Assessment

That conclusion triggered a reality check for me. I quickly took a mental inventory of the physical environment and the organizational “vibe” at Achievers. Here are several highlights, and the intentions behind them:

Achievers Toronto1) Open Design:  Our workspaces are based on open floor plans and are surrounded by lots of natural light. There are very few individual offices. That’s intentional. We want our environment to encourage the kind of energy and enthusiasm that we hope is synonymous with our product.

2) Visual Cues:  Our Toronto office features a giant red wall inscribed with our company values. It’s one of the first things you see as you enter the front door of the building. Such a public display of company values may not guarantee that all employees internalize them, but it’s a constant reminder to employees, customers and business partners of what we want to represent.

3) Flexibility:  Steelcase reminds us that individuals prefer to structure their own tasks throughout their day. That’s why we offer a variety of options — group seating for collaboration, as well as various quiet and private areas. The more options we offer, the more likely our employees will feel they “fit” into the environment — regardless of their mood or work requirements. Actually, this philosophy aligns with employee recognition best practices as well (our area of expertise at Achievers). It’s human nature. Under some circumstances, a person responds best to public recognition. Other times a private, sincere expression of gratitude is more effective. Variety is the solution.

4) Reinforcement:  We believe that the most critical step any company can take in creating a workplace is to build a culture of “thank you.” Of course, employee recognition isn’t as visible as desks or chairs, but it is likely to be the most durable investment you’ll ever make. If you reinforce behaviors that move business goals forward and encourage employees to embrace core values, these intangibles will become as integral to your organization as the furniture.

Bottom line: When designing a workplace — don’t forget to decorate early and often with recognition!

Image Credit: Pixabay

1+ Million Ways to Bridge the Skills Gap #TChat Recap

Many Paths Can Lead to Change

Wow, where to begin?  The #TChat Twitter stream blazed last night as the TalentCulture community brainstormed about how business organizations can help create future leaders. Paging all professionals — our students need your help!

Learning advocate and writer, Angela Maiers, moderated a passionate conversation focused on students’ need for opportunities to solve real-world problems, and mentors to guide them. She introduced us to the Quest2Matter, which challenges every student in three essential ways:

  • To accept that they matter
  • To accelerate the message that everyone matters, and
  • To act on a problem that breaks their heart.

As Angela explained in a recent Huffington Post column:

“Students are willing to not only be the change we need; they are willing to lead the change. They are not asking for permission. They are asking for respect. They want to express their passions in meaningful ways. They want to show the world that in spite of their years, they are a force to reckon with.”

Choose2MatterOur community is partnering with Angela’s organization, Choose2Matter in this important venture. By offering encouragement and expertise, business professionals can support students who are ready to solve problems that they define and “own.” Investing in our young people is an easy win for business organizations, because it develops skills that lead to a more employable work force.

There are many ways to make a difference in the future of enthusiastic students. Mentoring through Choose2Matter gives us an opportunity to do more than talk about the potential pathways. It gives us an opportunity to put our community’s innovative ideas into practice — with real-world impact.

Stay tuned for more information from Angela, as the initiative moves forward. But why wait? Reach out to Choose2Matter today, and let us know where your life as a mentor leads you!

#TChat Week-in-Review

SAT 5/4

AngelaLg

Watch our sneak peek interview with Angela Maiers

This week’s guest, Angela Maiers, framed the week’s events in a special blog post, “Creating Future Leaders: A Mission That Matters.”

SUN 5/5

Forbes.com Post: TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro, suggested “5 Ways to Build a Future Leader” in her weekly Forbes column.

MON 5/6

#TChat Preview: Our community manager, Tim McDonald, posted a special “sneak peek” video interview with Angela, and outlined the week’s theme and key questions in a preview post: “Business Case for Mentoring.”

TUE 5/7

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen to the #TChat Radio recording

#TChat Radio: Our hosts spoke live with Angela and her Choose2Matter partner, Mark Moran about workforce readiness issues, and the potential for mentoring to make a positive impact.

WED 5/8

Partnership Post: Meghan explained why partnering with Choose2Matter makes sense for TalentCulture, and invited community members to join this mentoring movement. Read “Did You Learn Today? Pass It On.”

#TChat Twitter: Angela and Mark returned to lead the community in a real-time discussion of skills gap issues, and suggested solutions. The feed lit-up with great ideas throughout the hour. But perhaps the most important takeaway was this:

Exactly! Are you inspired? See more highlights in the slideshow and call-outs below:

#TChat Twitter Highlights Slideshow: “The Business Case for Mentoring”

[javascript src=”//storify.com/TalentCulture/tchat-insights-business-case-for-mentoring.js?template=slideshow”]

 

Looking for a quick peek at Qs & As? Here’s a snapshot:

Why do you think education is falling short in the US? Or do you?

“Strong focus on standardization & grades. Not a lot of focus on learning in several ways.” @VizwerxGroup

“We need to teach kids how to think, not what to remember.” @heatherbussing

What can employers do to improve the readiness disparity (expectation vs reality)?

“Hire for culture, train & then trust.” @zacharyjeans

School-Business Partnerships Resources (shared by Jerry Blumengarten ‏@cybraryman1)

How can mentoring help make the unemployable employable again?

‏”Mentoring someone shows that you care + respect that person. That respect alone can change people” @PhilKomarny

“Skill building. Every day youre unemployed, your skills depreciate. Its important to keep them fresh.” @AshLaurenPerez

How can business leaders help bridge the skills gap and create jobs?

‏”Business leaders can share their stories w/o telling others the solutions. It’s reciprocal > Listen & learn” @AlliPolin

“Internships a must at university level & start earlier than that. Teaching at all levels can include more biz concepts.” @wmchamberlain

What technologies will help enable education-rich organizations?

“Use technology to innovate, creat,collaborate, share and engage to make a difference in bridging the skill gaps” @sonaleearvind

“Tech gives even the quietest person a voice to be heard globally.” @cybraryman1

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

SPECIAL THANKS: Again, thanks to Angela Maiers and Mark Moran for sharing perspectives on why and how mentoring can bridge the skills gap. Your enthusiasm is infectious!

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about mentoring or related issues? We’re happy to share your thoughts. Just post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we’ll pass it along.

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week, we have a very special topic in the works! Look for a preview post this weekend.

Until then, as always, the World of Work conversation continues each day. So join us on the #TChat Twitter stream, or on our new LinkedIn discussion group. And feel free to explore other areas of our redesigned website. The lights are always on at TalentCulture, and your ideas and opinions are always welcome.

We’ll see you on the stream!

(Editor’s Note: To learn more about Angela’s point of view, read her TalentCulture blog post, “Creating Future Leaders: A Mission That Matters. Or listen to her December 2012 appearance on #TChat Radio “Back to the Future” Edition — when she discussed key trends in talent acquisition and development.)

 

Your Workspace: How’s It Working for You?

Cultural Clues, Hidden in Plain Sight

What does your workspace say about you? About your organization?

This may have never crossed your mind – but it really should. Workspaces can spur on any number of positive behaviors and organizational outcomes. Your surrounding environment has the potential to enhance opportunities for communication, encourage creativity, and possibly provide the needed spark for innovative thought. I find that workspaces are the most underrated of workplace variables. The power is there – but we often fail to acknowledge that power.

Workspaces are quite telling, as they often seem to reflect what is operating on a deeper level. I’ve seen all sorts of spaces – cluttered environments, dark conference rooms and walls without color. These environments always seem to say something about its residents. It saddens me, when I walk into an organization and I feel no energy – workspaces reflect this. We internalize the essence of what is around us, and workspaces are no different.

Imagining the Possibilities

Ultimately what is right for you, or your organization, workspace-wise is a personal choice. However, there are so many unique options available to express your work life or the culture of your organization. (Steelcase offers some inspiring ideas. See several design directions here and here). There is really no wrong answer to the workspace question – the question just needs to be asked.

So, what is your workspace contributing to your work life? Your organization?

Benefits in Every Corner

As much as we’d like to think that skills are the only factor contributing to excellence, the fact remains that where we work contributes to how we work. Here are just a few reasons to pay attention to the physical space where you work:

  • Form follows function:  If you don’t have a workspace that flows with your work, it is likely that you will be less productive. Workspaces should support your intended activities.
  • Surroundings can help you create:  Working in a well-designed space can help spark ideas. Qualities such as color, lighting, sound, office configuration and furniture — all come into play. The right workspace design can enhance the creative process.
  • Project a positive image:  Your physical space is a reflection of how you see yourself and your business. The style, form and function of your space, all contribute to this. If you work in the creative realm (advertising, design, etc.) your workspace is even more critical – as it reflects what you can do for your clients.

Beneath the Surface

Becoming more effective can possibly start on the surface and trickle down to the other aspects of your work life. When you really think about it – sometimes “rearranging the furniture” is much more than it seems. Some ideas to consider:

  • A little peace:  Wherever you are — on the road, or at home base — incorporate some calming elements. Work life can be mired in drama, so utilize your work space as a key to regain balance.
  • An inspiration:  Your workspace can be an energizing force in your work life. Fill your work environment with people, conversation and visual cues that help you feel positive and successful.
  • A reflection:  At the very core, your space should convey the respect you hold for your work, and what you have set out to accomplish. Your surroundings should celebrate not only your past, but where you intend to go.

How does your work space reflect you and your work? We’ll be discussing this topic at #TChat forums this week (May 14/15) — so join the conversation — or weigh-in with your comments below!)

Image Credit: “Mad Men” AMC Networks

Your Workspace: How's It Working for You?

Cultural Clues, Hidden in Plain Sight

What does your workspace say about you? About your organization?

This may have never crossed your mind – but it really should. Workspaces can spur on any number of positive behaviors and organizational outcomes. Your surrounding environment has the potential to enhance opportunities for communication, encourage creativity, and possibly provide the needed spark for innovative thought. I find that workspaces are the most underrated of workplace variables. The power is there – but we often fail to acknowledge that power.

Workspaces are quite telling, as they often seem to reflect what is operating on a deeper level. I’ve seen all sorts of spaces – cluttered environments, dark conference rooms and walls without color. These environments always seem to say something about its residents. It saddens me, when I walk into an organization and I feel no energy – workspaces reflect this. We internalize the essence of what is around us, and workspaces are no different.

Imagining the Possibilities

Ultimately what is right for you, or your organization, workspace-wise is a personal choice. However, there are so many unique options available to express your work life or the culture of your organization. (Steelcase offers some inspiring ideas. See several design directions here and here). There is really no wrong answer to the workspace question – the question just needs to be asked.

So, what is your workspace contributing to your work life? Your organization?

Benefits in Every Corner

As much as we’d like to think that skills are the only factor contributing to excellence, the fact remains that where we work contributes to how we work. Here are just a few reasons to pay attention to the physical space where you work:

  • Form follows function:  If you don’t have a workspace that flows with your work, it is likely that you will be less productive. Workspaces should support your intended activities.
  • Surroundings can help you create:  Working in a well-designed space can help spark ideas. Qualities such as color, lighting, sound, office configuration and furniture — all come into play. The right workspace design can enhance the creative process.
  • Project a positive image:  Your physical space is a reflection of how you see yourself and your business. The style, form and function of your space, all contribute to this. If you work in the creative realm (advertising, design, etc.) your workspace is even more critical – as it reflects what you can do for your clients.

Beneath the Surface

Becoming more effective can possibly start on the surface and trickle down to the other aspects of your work life. When you really think about it – sometimes “rearranging the furniture” is much more than it seems. Some ideas to consider:

  • A little peace:  Wherever you are — on the road, or at home base — incorporate some calming elements. Work life can be mired in drama, so utilize your work space as a key to regain balance.
  • An inspiration:  Your workspace can be an energizing force in your work life. Fill your work environment with people, conversation and visual cues that help you feel positive and successful.
  • A reflection:  At the very core, your space should convey the respect you hold for your work, and what you have set out to accomplish. Your surroundings should celebrate not only your past, but where you intend to go.

How does your work space reflect you and your work? We’ll be discussing this topic at #TChat forums this week (May 14/15) — so join the conversation — or weigh-in with your comments below!)

Image Credit: “Mad Men” AMC Networks

Business Case for Mentoring: #TChat Preview

(Editor’s Note: Looking for a full recap of the week’s events and information? See “1 Million+ Ways to Bridge the Skills Gap: #TChat Recap”)

Talent-in-Training: Where’s the Beef?

The future of business and innovation depends on a generation of students who — unfortunately — are learning in an educational environment that is largely irrelevant and uninspiring.

Employers increasingly demand skills that the workforce is not prepared to deliver. There’s a massive disparity between school curricula and business expectations. And communication between educators and business organizations is broken.

How can we turn this situation around to win the hearts, minds and imaginations of tomorrow’s leaders?

According to education adviser, advocate and writer, Angela Maiers, it begins when accomplished, real-world professionals make a commitment to mentor and encourage today’s students. And, as she explained to me in the brief #TChat Sneak Peek video above, it’s never too soon to start.

#TChat Events: Bridging the Skills Gap for Tomorrow

I think Angela makes a compelling case. Do you? Can business mentors fill the gap? What role should schools play in fostering student/business connections? And how can talent-minded digital communities like ours help advance this agenda?

Fortunately, this week at #TChat forums, we’ll have an opportunity to explore these and related issues with Angela and her Choose2Matter partner, Mark Moran.

Join the TalentCulture conversation this week, and let’s explore the possibilities:

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen to the #TChat Radio show recording

#TChat Radio: Tuesday May 7, 7:30pmET/4:30pmPT

Angela and Mark talk live with hosts, Kevin W. Grossman and Meghan M. Biro about how to address the workforce skills gap now and in the future.

#TChat Twitter: Wednesday, May 8, 7:00pmET/4:00pmPT

Follow our Twitter hashtag and be part of an open, collective conversation, as we explore these issues with Angela and Mark:

Q1:  Why do you think education is falling short in the U.S.? Or do you?

Q2:  What can companies do to improve their expectation/investment disparity?

Q3:  How can mentoring help make the unemployable employable again?

Q4:  How can business leaders help bridge the skills gap and create jobs?

Q5:  What technologies will help enable education-rich organizations?

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed and on our new LinkedIn Discussion Group. So please join us anytime, and share your questions, ideas and opinions. Just add “#TChat” to your posts, so others in the community can follow the action.

We’ll see you on the stream!

(Editor’s Note: To learn more about Angela’s point of view, read her TalentCulture blog post, “Creating Future Leaders: A Mission That Matters. Or listen to her December 2012 appearance on #TChat Radio “Back to the Future” Edition — when she discussed key trends in talent acquisition and development.)

Creating Future Leaders: A Mission That Matters

(Editor’s Note: We’re thrilled that Angela Maiers was our guest this week at #TChat forums. She’s a passionate, highly visible education advocate who helps create life-changing learning experiences for today’s youth. We invited her to share some thoughts about her mission — creating better ways to prepare students for success in tomorrow’s world of work. To see an inspiring video interview with Angela, see “The Business Case for Mentoring #TChat Preview.” OR for a full recap of the week, see “1 Million+ Ways to Bridge the Skills Gap.”)

“If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.”  Jack Welch, former CEO, General Electric

The world is changing at an ever-accelerating rate. This has been the case at least since the invention of the personal computer in the 1980s, and became ever more so with the introduction of the commercial Internet in 1993.

In light of this drastic change in the workforce, how much has the US education system changed? Let me assure you of this: if you are under the age of 65 and if you returned to high school today, you’d feel right at home. Does that surprise you?

Educational Standards: A Reality Check

The “world and workforce” standards to which every school in our nation subscribes are not standards that the business community sets. They are standards “our community” — educators — are comfortable with. We can handle critical thinking, good communication skills, impeccable grammar and computation.

But schools do not encourage students to become bold thinkers, dreamers and doers.

Sure, schools have computer labs and some of them even have a computing device for every student. But instruction has changed very little. Indeed, with the never-ending growth of standardized assessment tests, US schools have become narrowly focused on teaching students how to fill-in the proper bubble on a multiple-choice, standardized exam.

Did you see any transferable work or life skills in the above paragraph?

Opportunity Cost: Priceless

Jack Welch may have it exactly right. While some pundits are forecasting a “revolution” in public education, most observers see these words as totally incongruous. Sure, public schools will continue to exist — at least (as educational consultant Peter Pappas writes) until parents find somewhere else to send their kids all day. But school is quickly becoming largely irrelevant to a student’s learning experience.

Every second that a child is “being educated” without insight, experience and real-life support from accomplished adults is a wasted opportunity to maximize their education — and their potential contribution to the world.

Mentoring Can Make All the Difference

Into this breach comes Choose2Matter and the TalentCulture World of Work Community.

Choose2Matter recently launched the Quest2Matter, which challenges every student in three essential ways:

  1. To accept that they matter
  2. To accelerate the message that everyone matters, and
  3. To act on a problem that breaks their heart.

Students have boundless energy and enthusiasm for taking action. What they lack is real-world savvy and the ability to find authoritative and comprehensive information on how to tackle a problem.

Where do they find this insight? Enter the TalentCulture World of Work Community.

Choose2MatterThese future world-changers can and will do incredible things. Members of the TalentCulture community can greatly enhance the students’ contribution by serving as mentors to these amazing young people.

As they work on selecting, curating, and moving forward the top world-changing ideas, TalentCulture members will be guiding them every step of the way.

Merely by knowing that accomplished professionals take their ideas seriously will profoundly impact the seriousness with which students approach their contributions.  For mentors from TalentCulture, this is an unparalleled opportunity to provide real-time, real-life leadership to budding leaders of the world. This will help redefine what the TalentCulture community stands for, and will establish a paradigm of professional and student mentorship for the entire world to follow.

As one talent-minded professional to another, I hope you’ll consider offering your expertise and enthusiasm to help shape the future of tomorrow’s leaders. Looking forward to discussing the Choose2Matter mission in more depth in #TChat forums this week — and I’m excited to collaborate with the TalentCulture community, going forward!

 Image Credit: Pixabay

TalentCulture + Achievers: Better Together!

Two Communities — One Purpose

Here at TalentCulture, we exist to elevate the human side of business — and we believe that community is the best way to reach that goal. In short, the more hearts and minds we involve in this conversation, the more likely we are to influence the future of work.

We’re passionate advocates who exchange ideas, knowledge and resources — all in the interest of cultivating more productive, rewarding workplace cultures.

And now, in the spirit of that philosophy, we’re thrilled to announce our first “world of work” partnership — with Achievers.

Get to Know Achievers

Achievers Blog Banner "Employee Success"

Visit Achievers Employee Success blog

Achievers creates Employee Success software that helps companies around the world recognize and reward positive workforce behaviors on a daily basis. This translates into higher employee engagement and better business results.

There is strong synergy between our organizations. Like Achievers, TalentCulture.com and #TChat forums are all about continuous learning and inclusive engagement that add value in today’s globally connected, social workplace. And that starts with all of our smart, loyal #TChat-ters!

Looking Ahead

What does this partnership mean to you? Look for TalentCulture and Achievers to:

  • Evangelize on behalf of each other’s engagement mission;
  • Share ongoing thought leadership and expertise with our respective communities.

This promises to add a whole new level of depth and vibrancy to the conversation, going forward. We hope you’ll join us each day, across our combined social channels, as we explore and discuss business and workplace topics that affect us all.

(Editor’s Note: Meet Achievers tonight (Wednesday, May 1) at the weekly #TChat Twitter forum, where Achievers Social Media Community Manager, Katie Paterson, moderates! Read details in tonight’s Preview: “Live from the edge of HR Innovation.”)

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

Age at Work: Moving Beyond Birthdays

“How old are you?”

What do you feel, think, and say when you hear that question in the workplace? Do you suddenly get tense, wondering how others will perceive your answer? You’re not alone.

No matter when you were born or what kind of upbringing you’ve had, you’ve likely dealt with some sort of label. And regardless of the situation, we can all agree that no one likes to be unfairly stereotyped. Despite attempts by organizational leaders and HR to reduce discrimination and adversity, it still lingers in some forms. Not surprisingly, age-related stereotyping is on the rise, now that more organizations have a multigenerational workforce.

Generational Generalizations

As recent studies illustrate, every generation is affected by damaging biases. For example, do profiles like this sound familiar?

  • Baby Boomers = materialistic, technologically illiterate micro-managers
  • Generation Xers = cynical, disloyal and skeptical of authority
  • Generation Y “Millennials” = lazy, entitled and self-serving

Although these generalizations may have emerged for a reason, why should we assume that they are widely applicable or even relevant? Perhaps some high-profile individuals have displayed these characteristics, but their actions shouldn’t be the basis for defining a whole generation.

The Price of Stereotypes

More often than not, typecasting like this comes from lack of awareness, communication or understanding. It’s important to identify this issue quickly and bridge the gap, before it destroys our talent pools. Otherwise, organizations are at risk of missing out on the strongest talent — internally or externally.

What Can Individuals Do?

As I continue to progress in my career and become more involved in networking opportunities, I make it a point to avoid conversation about my age. Quite frankly, it’s not important. And, as a Millennial, the last thing I want others to do is marginalize my capabilities upfront. I don’t want them to presume I am a lazy or cynical person — I want them to evaluate me for my skills, abilities, goals and accomplishments. Isn’t that how it should be?

The workplace is rapidly developing into a collaborative environment, where everyone is expected to step up and contribute toward common goals. To do this effectively, employees must avoid animosity toward one another that starts with preconceived notions about age. We need to let go of misplaced biases and instead focus on the thing that matters — an individual’s capacity to contribute something valuable to the team and to the organization.

I look forward to engaging the TalentCulture community in a dialogue about this topic — not just at this week’s #TChat Twitter forum, but beyond. It’s important to every one of us. So, I ask you to consider one simple question:

How are you creating a “no labels” workplace?

(Editor’s Note: Want to hear more from Ashley? She was a featured guest last night on #TChat Radio “The No Labels Workforce.” Listen on-demand, anytime. She also moderated #TChat Twitter this week. To read the full recap of this week’s events, see “The Best-of-All-Ages Workplace #TChat Recap”)

Image Credit: Pixabay

Age at Work: Just a Number? #TChat Preview

(Editorial Note: Want to read the RECAP of this week’s events? See The Best-of-All-Ages Workplace #TChat Recap)

What’s the truth about the interplay of generations in today’s workplace? Are we moving forward, or do “generation gaps” still hold us to the past?

Is this topic old news? I feel like it might be. Not sure if it’s just me. Perhaps I’m just wishfully thinking we should have moved on by now. But it’s important. And it deserves another look.

Age Stereotypes: A Reality Check

So, just between us, let me ask: Do you still catch yourself making snap judgments about people based solely on their age? Boomers, Gen Y, Gen X…whatever.  We fret over how to recruit Millennials. We wonder how to manage them versus others. Does all this conscious attention to generational differences help or hinder progress?

Age-based stereotyping is deeply ingrained in our history, our culture and our collective social psyche. Now, in the 21st century world of work, it holds back individual advancement, business performance and innovation. But how do we move past reactions that seem almost second-nature? That’s the topic we’re tackling this week, in the TalentCulture community.

Getting Over Generational Bias: Growing Pains

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Watch the #TChat “Sneak Peek” videos now…

To begin the conversation, I suggested ways to smash age-based stereotypes in my Forbes.com column yesterday.

Rethinking stereotypes requires some deep internal soul searching. Gaining self awareness is the first step — and it’s not necessarily easy.

Facing your biases is an emotional exercise, as well as an intellectual one. But the process can be highly rewarding for professionals and the companies they serve. Fortunately, now there’s strength in numbers, as our #TChat forums take on generational stereotypes as a collaborative effort.

#TChat Weekly Topic: The “No Labels” Workforce

Leading us through this week’s conversation are two human resources management experts from WilsonHCG John Wilson, Founder and CEO, and Ashley Lauren Perez, Sourcing Specialist. Both John and Ashley helped us set the stage for this week’s topic in brief Google+ Hangout “sneak peek” videos. Check them out now!

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Tune into #TChat Radio live on Tuesday or on-demand after

I hope you’ll plan to join us at #TChat events this week, where we’ll take a closer look at labels in the workplace, and how to build cultures that value diversity in all of its forms:

As always, throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter stream and on our new LinkedIn Discussion Group. So please join us and share your thoughts, concerns, opinions and ideas.

#TChat Weekly Questions

Why not start now? Take a moment to consider this week’s discussion guide and tell us what you think. Your comments are welcome, early and often:

Q1:  In the world of work, how are the generations the same? Why?
Q2:  With Millennials, we have myriad misconceptions. But for all generations, what are the most pervasive?
Q3:  What is the role of leaders in helping to smash stereotypes about generations in the workforce?
Q4:  Does tech facilitate cross-generational interaction? Why/not? How can we forge more connections?
Q5:  Innovation and free-thinking go hand-in-hand. But does innovation ever encourage age stereotyping? Why?

We’ll see you on the stream!

Image Credit: Flickr – Mark Turnauckas

 

Digging Deep into Social Learning #TChat Recap

Why in the world of work would anyone sit online for an hour and share serious answers to a list of questions – along with random bits of wit and wisdom that come to mind?

No, I’m not talking about watching “Game of Thrones” and tweeting with my friends. I’m talking about our chat — #TChat — the weekly Twitter chat where TalentCulture community members come together to talk about today’s “world of work.”

Learning Together: A Surprise Inside

No subject is off limits, except maybe “Game of Thrones” (which, by the way, trended lower than #TChat on Twitter last night). No offense to that show, or to this week’s historic #MarriageEquality trend line (which also was less active than #TChat during our session last night). In fact, we’re honored to trend with both of these popular topics.

But I digress. Once again, I ask, why would anyone devote an hour each week to a Twitter chat like ours? I remember asking myself that question when we launched #TChat over two-and-a-half years ago. I never thought it would last a month. I love telling that story because, well, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Collective Knowledge: Sharing Adds Value

This week, the TalentCulture community dug deep into the concept of “learning.” In particular, we’ve been exploring social learning — that amorphous, organic, continuous, “knowledge sharing” activity that was originally ignited in the Garden of Eden. (“Adam, would you like a bite of this juicy apple?”) Or if you prefer, that point in human evolution when our frontal lobes sparked cognitive thought, we began hunting for information, exchanging it with others, and making decisions on behalf of ourselves and those in our social circles.

Social learning can be as simple as a single moment: an incremental yet transformative interaction where one person shares a piece of information that another receives, absorbs, adopts and applies in a new context that propels him or her forward. This process of information exchange, reinforcement and transformation lights up pleasure centers in the brain, as ideas pass from one person to another in an “additive” way. With each hand-off, information evolves, and is modified by the next person who absorbs, adopts and applies…

Layers of Learning That Live On

And so it goes. This is the beauty of social learning. And this is why I participate in #TChat forums.

It is why I’ve found value in showing up nearly every week for over two-and-a-half years. Participants offer ideas that continue to build on one another. As I step back and look at this community’s body of work it’s similar to the formation of rock over a geological span of time.

We can dig through #TChat archives and see the layers of growth and progress. We can see how continuous interaction has created a context that helps our community evolve – absorbing the bad with the good, and establishing more useful understanding as we move forward. It’s a community where a better world of work emerges every week from the layers below — generating a new level of wonder and wisdom.

The beauty astounds.

#TChat “Social Learning” Week-in-Review

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Watch the sneak peek interview with Michael Clark

To dig deeply into organizational learning and talent development issues this week, we joined forces with two brilliant experts: Michael Clark, CEO of ReCenter, and Justin Mass, Sr. Manager of Learning Technology & Design at Adobe. The richness of their contributions added tremendous value throughout the week.

We invite you to revisit insights on this topic anytime! Just follow the links below…

SAT 3/23  “Sneak Peek” Video: ReCenter’s Michael Clark kicked-off the week by defining key terms with our community manager, Tim McDonald.

SUN 3/24  TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro, outlined 5 ways that professionals can leverage learning in her column at Forbes.com.

MON 3/25  #TChat Weekly Preview “Igniting Social Learning” laid out the week’s premise and questions.

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Listen to the recorded #TChat Radio show

TUE 3/26  #TChat Radio: “The Social Learning Show.” Our hosts joined forces with organizational development experts, Michael Clark, and Justin Mass, to examine social learning innovation and its role in optimizing talent in today’s workplace. It’s a fascinating 30-minute session for anyone interested in improving professional and organizational performance through learning.

WED 3/27  #TChat TwitterJustin and Michael gathered around the Twitter stream with hundreds of other participants to expand and amplify key issues in workforce learning and development. See highlights from the conversation in the slideshow below…

#TChat Twitter Highlights Slideshow: Igniting Social Learning

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Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

SPECIAL THANKS: We extend our gratitude to Michael Clark, and Justin Mass for leading our community through the social learning discovery path this week. Your expertise in learning tools and techniques is inspiring and invaluable.

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about social learning and talent development? We’re happy to share your thoughts. Just post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we’ll pass it along.

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week, we move to yet another level of talent discovery, as we explore the notion of “Humans as a Service (HaaS), with Jason Averbook, Chief Business Innovation Officer at Appirio, and Richie Etwaru, Group Vice President of Cloud and Digital Innovation at Cegedim Relationship Management.

Until then, we’ll continue to tackle World of Work conversation each day. So join us on the #TChat Twitter stream, or on our new LinkedIn discussion group. And feel free to explore other areas of this redesigned blog/community website. TalentCulture is always open and the lights are always on.

We’ll see you on the stream!

Image credit: Stock.xchnge

 

Developing Talent in a Social Business World

(Editorial Note: This is post 1 of 2)

Now more than ever, talent development is a life-long process, transcending education, career, technology and social media. It cuts to the core of why we’re here and what it means to be human.

We are here to become more — to maximize the development of our talent by improving performance in every aspect of living. And, we are here to guide and support others in doing the same.

Consider the countless number of hard and soft skills it takes to navigate a single day of living in the 21st century. We’re swimming in a contextual field of opportunities, challenges, goals and choices!

Social Business: What’s New?

Business has always been a social endeavor. Despite relentless change — including the recent arrival of revolutionary social media tools — many of the essential skills for business success have remained the same throughout history. No mystery there. Business is and will always be about creating and sustaining mutually beneficial relationships.

So what’s changing at a revolutionary level? According to “Social Era” author, Nilofer Merchant, the most successful businesses are adapting and integrating traditional relationship-building skills and processes into the digital landscape.

Professional Life and the New Social Norm

Of course, the implications of social business don’t stop at an organizational level. Work and personal life are merging, as workloads increase, and mobile technology and social platforms grow more prevalent. The traditional boundaries and walls that separated life roles are being erased. Social and mobile channels are morphing work-life balance into a work-life blend.

Our diverse roles are becoming synthesized into a single life style. We work, we play, and we live — engaging anywhere, anytime, with anyone we choose. Many people now live in a blurry space between “real” life and digital life, professional and personal, internal and external.

Filtering the Social Clutter

IBM estimates that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. What does that mean for social learning? We have too much information, not enough transformation. Despite extensive learning, education, training and development, people think, feel and react in the same ways over and over. Think about the volume of content you absorb on a daily basis. What percentage of that information actually helps you create a positive impact in your life, or the lives of others?

Here’s a tool to help cut through the fog and chaos of today’s deafening social noise. I call it the “social business contextual field.” This filter helps brings clarity and precision to individual and organizational goals, strategies, learning, development, communication and transformation. It is based on six core components.

Social Business Contextual Field

These six concepts represent all the complex relationships within social business. We can draw endless connections between words. For example, we think about how we feel. How we feel impacts how we think. Our thoughts and emotions largely determine our reactions and choices. We think about people, spaces and technology. We’re emotionally connected to people, spaces and technology. We physically engage with people spaces and technology.

Social business success hinges on learning how to develop and continuously improve connections, communication and collaboration among all aspects of the contextual field. Specifically, when individuals and organizations align, integrate and transform both sides of the contextual field, success follows.

Engagement-Performance Transformation

As I explained in a recent TalentCulture video, engagement-performance transformation is an essential social learning skill. It’s a  solution to seizing opportunities, overcoming challenges, boosting productivity, realizing goals and amplifying social business success.

In our work, we mash the two words “engagement” and “performance” into a single word, “engagement-performance.”

  • Engagement: The moment we recognize and seize opportunities to improve parts of the social business contextual field.
  • Performance: Everything that happens intellectually, emotionally and physically from the moment we engage, and as we move thorough the experience.

Engagement-performance transformation is above and behind all skill development. Consciously or unconsciously, we are engaging and performing every moment. Social talent development centers on transforming our capacity to engage-perform-produce more, better, faster, now — no matter what’s happening in or around us.

Three Steps for Engagement-Performance-Transformation

A culture of social learning, backed by engagement-performance transformation, does not happen by accident or good intentions. We must do three things to create and sustain engagement-performance transformation:

  • Take personal responsibility for transforming intellectual, emotional and physical engagement-performance.
  • Learn, practice and apply real-time power tool strategies for engagement-performance transformation in the midst of intense situations, persistent challenges and diverse people.
  • Proactively embrace the process of engagement-performance transformation, in self and others, from moment-to-moment, day-to-day, week-to-week, and year-to-year.

Editorial Note: This is Part 1 in a series by Michael Clark. Part 2 will be published soon. Sign-up for TalentCulture.com email updates or via RSS feed, to follow Michael’s posts.

Image credit: Stock.xchng

Igniting Social Learning: #TChat Preview

(Editorial Note: Want to read the RECAP of this week’s events? See Digging Deep into Social Learning #TChat Recap)

Social learning. Two simple words with so many meanings.

The TalentCulture community understands one meaning very well. After all, we exist is to encourage social learning among talent-minded professionals. But this week, we want to look more expansively at the role of learning in today’s social business environment.

Our mission is to unpack this concept collaboratively – sharing ideas and information about how and why social learning can make a meaningful difference for individual careers, as well as organizations.

We even have some heavy-hitter experts to help us see how leading-edge learning tools and techniques can transform business.

MichaelClarkWhat’s Your Learning Goal?

Yesterday, I started the conversation on Forbes.com by thinking aloud about 5 ways anyone can jump-start social learning. As I fleshed-out these thoughts, a key question kept coming to mind: When you pursue learning, what’s your purpose?

  • Are you learning, so you can teach?
  • Are you teaching so you can learn?
  • Are you learning for learning’s sake?
  • Or do you have other intentions?

What’s more, does your goal really matter? I think it does. Arguably, the most powerful learning experiences are fueled by purpose-driven passion.

Truth is, learning should propel us not just through school, not just through work, but through life. And when our personal quest for knowledge, skill and competence aligns with business goals, the results can make a meaningful difference.

#TChat Focus Topic: Let’s Get Social About Learning

Life is a continuous process of learning and skill development. And by nature, learning is a social activity. Throughout our lives we look to others – parents, teachers, mentors, managers, experts, peers and others – for information, instruction, insight, guidance and validation. It’s all part of the learning process.

So, what does it mean to apply emerging social tools and techniques to the process of continuous learning? And why does it matter? Let’s talk about it!

TChatRadio_logo_020813#TChat Radio

#TChat Radio – Tuesday, March 26 at 7:30pm ET / 4:30pm PT

Tune-in online and discover new ways to ignite professional and organization learning, as we interview Michael Clark, CEO of ReCenter, and Justin Mass, Sr. Manager of Learning Technology & Design at Adobe.

#TChat Twitter

#TChat Twitter – Wednesday, March 27 at 7pm ET / 4pm PT. Join our weekly online forum, and share your thoughts with others about these key questions:

Q1: How & why should we define social learning & talent development in the world of work?
Q2: How can we bridge today’s skills gap by connecting business with education?
Q3: We equate social learning with online learning, but is that view complete? Why/why not?
Q4: What are the most important technology platforms for social learning today?
Q5: What critical metrics should leaders should use to measure social learning & talent development?

Want to see more about this week’s topic? Watch Michael Clark, talk with TalentCulture community manager, Tim McDonald in this preview video on YouTube, or read Tim’s “Sneak Peek” blog post now.

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter stream and on our new LinkedIn Discussion Group. So please join us share your ideas and opinions.

We’ll see you on the stream!

Image credit: Pixabay

 

Collaboration: Baking and Breaking Better Bread

“…and there’s always another point of view, a better way to do the things we do. And how can you know me, and I know you…” –The Raconteurs

But knowing takes time, effort and some commitment to the process.

Maybe we should break bread together more often. The President just had Republicans over for dinner, and then again for lunch, in order to better collaborate and “break the stalemate over taxes, spending and deficit-reduction.” It’s a small step toward hopefully working together and actually solving some very painful problems.

It’s an opportunity to look beyond political differences that have polarized the nation’s leaders. Although by our very evolutionary nature, we polarize. We’re hardwired to sense negativity, so we can counter it quickly and efficiently.

More Cooks = More Creative Solutions

The good news is that our frontal lobes have evolved to better smell the baking of collaborative bread. The kind that gets our creative juices flowing, that puts the “dope” into dopamine and gives us the metaphorical munchies for even more progress and positive reinforcement. To befriend, to create, to learn, to solve, to make better, to work together toward a shared goal.

(Side Note: The brain’s frontal lobe is where many of the dopamine-sensitive neurons reside in the cerebral cortex. Dopamine is associated with reward, attention, short-term memory tasks, planning, and motivation.)

Reward and motivation. Doesn’t that get your tummy growling? Think about some of your most collaborative moments — more than likely they centered around a tasty snack or a relaxing meal, maybe even if a drink or two if you enjoy the libation. It could’ve been a one-on-one, a small group or a whole diversified gaggle of folk discussing primary topics while saddling up to multiple sidebars.

Connections and Communication: Essential Ingredients

Feasting on face time with one another — there is something to the hubbub of classic office environments. Those of us who work from home exclusively must be more proactive and innovative, to capture what we might otherwise miss during informal synchronous moments at breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack-time in and around the office with colleagues, peers and leadership. After all, we can still have lunch over a video chat, can’t we?

For that matter, we do break the collaborative bread every week in the TalentCulture World of Work community, when we come together through multiple #TChat forums, don’t we?

To befriend, to create, to learn, to solve, to make better, to work together toward a shared goal. Mmmm — do you smell that? Hold on, let me check the oven.

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

 

Collaboration Mojo Meets Basic Instinct: #TChat Recap

Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

By our very evolutionary nature, humans polarize. We’re hardwired to sense negativity, so we can counter it quickly and efficiently.

In fact, millions of years of this response to negative elements in the environment helped our ancestors survive. Not all of them, of course. And not for long, until more recent history. But staying alive and propagating the species was the goal.

Clearly, it wasn’t pretty. In the name of prehistoric progress, factions formed, mostly controlled by violent, fear-mongering leaders who greedily focused on their own survival, at the expense of weaker tribe members. And now after many generations, we’re here to tell about it.

Growing Into Our Collaborative Skin

Thank goodness for the frontal cortex. In more recent centuries, Enlightenment, the scientific revolution and humanitarian movements helped fundamentally shift the way we react to one another, and how we work with one another for the betterment of all.

That’s the value of every human life in a civilized society — the fact that we now can and do empathize with our global brothers and sisters. When we empathize, we can collaborate — and collaboration can elevate us all.

Collaboration: What is it and Why is it Here?

It’s not about 50-50 compromise. It’s not a winner-take-all confrontation. Nor is it merely a warm, fuzzy all-hands group hug. In its highest form, collaboration is an opportunity to create an entirely new “whole” that is larger and more effective than the sum of its parts. Ideally, a common goal is served, and everybody wins. As someone said at this week’s #TChat Twitter discussion, it’s like making a good paella.

Of course, as we see each day at work, in our communities and in the headlines, collaboration isn’t always the tool of choice, even among “civilized” humans. It hasn’t replaced polarizing negativity or self-serving violence. But we’ve “come a long way, baby,” as the 60’s commercials used to say. Violent fear-mongering is so last millennium anyway, right?

We’ve experienced first-hand how empathy, diversity of thought and respectful engagement motivate us to skip childlike together down yellow brick roads toward that magical land of Oz — from the highest levels of government, to corporations, to non-profits, to start-ups. Well at least that’s what we aspire to achieve — as it should be.

Learning Together, One Step at a Time

Of course, in reality, while we skip in sync with others on one foot, we still tend to shoot ourselves in the other. It’s not easy. But it’s human. And it’s progress.

Fortunately, for those of us in the TalentCulture community, as long as we have collaborative #TChat first aid within reach, we can rest assured that our corner of the work world is covered. Thanks to your participation, we are better, together.

And thanks to this week’s special #TChat events guest, Dr. Jesse Lyn Stoner, for helping us gain a much deeper understanding of collaboration’s roots, and how to apply it more effectively in the workplace. Jesse is a brilliant business consultant, executive coach and author, focused on helping companies improve their performance through collaborative strategies.

If you missed any of this week’s events – or if want to revisit insights anytime – just follow the links below…

#TChat Week-in-Review

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Listen to the #TChat Radio interview with Jesse Lyn Stoner

SUN 3/3  TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro framed the week’s discussion with her Forbes.com post: “Smart Leaders and the Power of Collaboration.”

MON 3/4  #TChat Weekly Preview “Smart Leaders Collaborate” laid out key questions for the community to consider.

TUE 3/5  #TChat Radio Show: Our hosts sat down with Jesse to define successful workplace collaboration. It was a helpful look into the human drivers that contribute to collaboration – or block its progress – and how leaders can be more effective by recognizing those underlying motivations.

WED 3/6  #TChat Twitter: Jesse returned to moderate our dynamic weekly Twitter forum – as a living model of mass virtual collaboration in action! Check out these highlights from the conversation…

#TChat Recap: “Smart Leaders Collaborate”

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Closing Notes & Highlights Slideshow

THANKS: One more round of applause, please, for Dr. Jesse Lyn Stoner! We appreciate you sharing your deep understanding of collaboration. Your insights sparked ideas that will help us work more effectively with others.

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events inspire you to write about workplace collaboration? We’re happy to share your thoughts. Just post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we’ll pass it along.

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week – SPRING BREAK at SXSW! No scheduled #TChat events March 12/13. But please SAVE THE DATES the following week, March 19/20, when HR/talent/learning industry expert Josh Bersin, Founder/Principal at Bersin by Deloitte joins us to discuss key trends, and their implications for organizational culture, development and leadership.

Until then, we’ll continue to tackle World of Work discussion each day. So join us on the #TChat Twitter stream, or on our new LinkedIn Discussion Group. And feel free to explore other areas of this redesigned blog/community website. TalentCulture is always open and the lights are always on.

We’ll see you on the stream!

Image Credit: Pixabay