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February 22, 2017

Archives for July 2012

1 Social Business Post – 3 Feet – 3 Boobs

By michaelpace on July 25, 2012

What the hell happened last Friday in the social business world? Did the planets align to erase the business brains of people at the customer facing keyboards of 3 disparate companies? Alien hackers took over twitter and customer relationship accounts? Or did 3 companies just get lazy while working in the connected world?

While I do think weirdness happens outside of our little world, my money is on the latter (laziness).

Story 1: How to shove your own foot up your ass

I originally heard the story from Social Media Explorer in a post called Customer Service Isn’t An Act. It’s a Trait. To make a (interesting) long story short, @solve360 chose to pick a fight on their social network instead of helping a customer, and possibly a future business partner. See below: Solve360 conversation with customers

For more details head to Megan’s Meanderings

Lessons Learned:

In my opinion, this is a company culture issue. From bottom to top, this company does not understand service (which doesn’t bode well for a Customer Relationship Management software company). They choose to see service as an unwelcomed cost of doing business, instead of looking at it as an opportunity to help a customer, build a relationship, move a challenger to a champion, or even just retain a current customer. While this may be random incident or everyone was having a case of the Mondays, but Solve360 may want to take a step back, get clear on their Values and decide if retention and loyalty are critical to a cloud or SAAS company (guess what – it is).

Story 2: How to shoot yourself in the foot

This Twitter post is from the NRA (National Rifle Association) the morning of the Aurora murders.

@NRA_Rifleman tweet

On the surface, it appears to be horribly disrespectful and frankly disgusting. The post was deleted from their Twitter stream not long after posting, but what happens on the internet stays on the internet. However, I believe there is more to this story. My assumption is this was a scheduled tweet, scheduled well before we learned of the events in Aurora.

Lessons Learned:

Scheduling tweets is a perfectly acceptable practice of social business. It allows you to create conversations off hours, reach different sets of audiences, and smooth out the workload for your conversation agents. Scheduling is a shortcut; shortcuts are needed. However, every shortcut comes at a risk (otherwise it would not be a shortcut). Like any other area of business, you need to understand your risks, determine what is acceptable, transferrable, or worth creating mitigation steps. In the NRA’s (controversial) line of business, it is sad to say that incidents like last Friday’s massacre can happen at any time. While I would not stop scheduling, I would ensure they have a crisis management plan in place, and understand their roles in executing.

On another note, I think they were smart in deleting the tweet, but they missed an equally important step, admitting to their mistake. As of this date, I have not seen an apology tweet or link (it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist). They may have even deleted the entire account name, as it is no longer exists on Twitter. A simple, accountable explanation with an apology and thoughts toward the impacted families/friends would have gone a long way.

Story 3: You Put Your Foot in My Mouth

By now many folks have heard and/or seen the @Celebboutique tweet from last Friday, only a mere few hours after the horrific tragedy in an Aurora, CO movie theater. I think the picture above speaks to the shear ignorance of person at the helm of their twitter account. I am not here to beat a dead horse; I am here to help with the lessons learned. @celebboutique tweet

Post the immediate public uproar, @Celebboutique tried to apologize. @celebboutique follow up

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Lessons Learned:

It is clear that @Celebboutique outsources their twitter handle to an offshore PR agency. Outsourcing can be good; offshore outsourcing can be better. Outsourcing usually allows companies to move many overhead costs to parties who specialize in a specific operation, therefore opening up funds and/or space to move their business forward in other areas. I have a few rules of outsourcing effectively:
1. You never outsource your core competency or value proposition
2. Your relationship with your outsourcer needs to be ACTIVELY managed; it is not an “off the side of the desk” activity
3. Cultural compatibility is more important than all the money talk that follows in the selection process
4. Outsource customer facing solutions at your OWN RISK

Based on the follow up tweets from @Celebboutique, they did not heed to my rules of effective outsourcing.
Their last mistake in the myriad of mistakes was their placing blame on their foreign outsourcer. When I interact with a company, I see it as a single entity. For example, if I shop at Costco, I do not think about how it affects their supply chain department, marketing, or human resources; it is just Costco. As a consumer, I have enough brands occupying my attention; I don’t separate companies into divisions. Regardless, if @Celebboutique hit the enter key or not, it was their company’s mistake; own it.

How to Develop Rockstars in Your Organization

Bon Jovi Boston 2011By michaelpace on July 17, 2012

Over the past few months, I have acquired a tremendous amount of lessons learned for the job hunt, finding an opportunity you love, and uncovering if you will be a cultural fit.  I’ll document the best practices as soon as I am firmly landed.  In the meantime, I have observed one particular trend that is a bit unnerving:
When I ask potential employers

“Tell me about your associate personal development program[s].”,
I typically get an answer similar to this

“Our Training Program teaches our associates about new product releases.” Or “We train everyone for 4 weeks, then we put them on the phones.”

This is important: Training is not personal development.  It’s an incredibly small part of personal development.  If you only train, you will create some really good SME’s (subject matter experts), but you will not develop an organization full of rockstars or high performing associates ready to deliver bigger and better results.  Rockstars are the representatives of your team to the company.  Rockstars go above and beyond on their own.  Rockstars are your successors.  Create Rockstars, not SME’s.

How do you create a Rockstar? (Tactical steps)
Step 1: Invest the time
Most leaders and managers make time for their associates, either weekly or bi-weekly, and most of these meetings consist of talking about what they are working on and status updates.  These meetings are important to accomplish short term objectives, but rarely look at the long term development of your reports.  My recommendation: Set up separate development meetings, which should be exclusively about long term career goals, providing behavioral feedback on competencies (or the “how” work is getting done), an open forum for your report to provide you feedback, and finally how you can interweave into their daily worklife.  Make sure you prepare beforehand.
Step 2: Focus on the right things
As mentioned earlier, direct report meetings rarely focus on long term competency development.  It becomes really easy to focus on specific results and projects; do your best to be conscience and avoid it.  If your organization has specific competencies associates are measured against, they are a great place to focus, especially if you have discussed these opportunities in prior reviews or performance management sessions.  If your organization does not have a set of competencies to be measured, here are a few that make sense for any organization or direct report:
•    Communication
o    Interaction with peers, reports and management
o    Public speaking
o    Written, verbal and physical (time and place important as well)
•    Results Focus or Orientation
o    Meeting commitments
o    Delivery of consistent, high quality
o    How efficient are they in achieving results
•    Influencing Others
o    How to influence 360 degrees around
o    Formal and informal socialization of ideas
o    Developing credibility
•    Integrative Thinking / Using data in decision making
o    Quantitative and qualitative (when and where to use)
o    Ability to pull the trigger and not have analysis paralysis
o    Look at the entire organization when making decisions
•    Teamwork
o    Interaction with peers
o    Working cross functionally
o    Building relationships outside of your company
•    Change Management
o    Getting everyone on board to change
o    Creating change management strategies
•    Customer Focus
o    Balancing the needs of the customer in their decisions
o    Understanding customer impact
By focusing on these types of competencies, Job Specific Learning or Training will naturally improve.
Step 3: Reinforcement and Tracking
I am a huge fan of the Learn, Practice and Feedback methodology of development.  First, create what is the goal of your report’s development (ex. Improve ability to influence across departments).  Second, have your report identify ways they can learn how to improve this competency (books, blogs, webinars, conferences, training events, mentors, etc…). Then identify the resources that can assist them, and when they will have completed the activity.  Do the same for practice and feedback.  Practice should be the opportunities for them to safely try to use the new skills they have learned.  Your report must also identify how they will receive timely feedback on their practice opportunities.  A note: You should not be the resource for every activity. Email or tweet me if you are interested in the excel template.

Personal Development Template

Creating SME’s is a short term fix, and that is all most trainings will accomplish.  Look for long term competency development to create the Rockstars that will lead your organization in the future.  By focusing on competencies, you will suffer some short term time loss, however, you are building a leader for your organization which should allow you to delegate more to them with confidence in the future.  This will allow you to focus on more long term and important matters, instead of short term, urgent issues.
Do you have a strong associate development program?
If you have one, do you focus on competencies or short term results?
What are some of the challenges you are facing?