Category Archives: Leadership
In the new world of work, we are (supposedly) all free, all mobile, all connected. But is it really true?
In his book “Drive”, the author Dan Pink tells us “the surprising truth about motivation”: What really gets us up in the morning is not capitalistic benefits packages, but a search for purpose, mastery and autonomy. Gone are the days of my grandmother dragging herself to a factory to scrape a penny together to survive. Now that we have everything we need we can work on what is important to us, to develop ourselves and because we want to. This is motivation 3.0.
But is it truly so awesome that IT professionals working for a ROWE company can punctuate their programming work with surf sessions on a beach in Thailand? Or is it rather absolutely bloody terrible that when they take a holiday the other side of the world, they can’t stop thinking about their jobs and never switch off? Addicted to their iPhone (laptop, iPad) and mobile internet-based you-can-work-anywhere-anytime work ethic, they work in their “free time” to avoid Information Deprivation Disorder.
And many “engaged” American white collar (no collar?) workers today work far more than they ever did before: The amount of work required to survive a week in medieval times has not at all been replaced in the 21st century by Tim Ferris’ best-selling notion of the “4-Hour Work Week”. And despite office conditions being more ergonomic, open-spaced, ping-pong-table friendly, more and more workers suffer from burnout, depression and stress.
Fashionable HR gurus like Nigel Marsh continue to talk about work-life balance, the need for “engagement” and the joy of working from home. I train new leaders on the same topics. But has our quality of life actually improved or is it just work propaganda that has everyone has “sold” (including the people in HR closing the sale)?
In her book “Get Real: How to see through the hype, spin and lies of modern life”, author Eliane Glaser tells us that much of what we are asked to believe about our wonderful life today is actually some form of covert ideology. This “soft power” is designed to get us to believe that we, the people, are doing better. But in reality, the invisible hand pushing many of these modern models of freedom of choice and people-power simply aims to reinforce the same kinds of class-control that have always existed: Politicians who are supposed to “listen to the people” outsource market-research sessions with their “customers” in order to find better ways to tell them whatever they want to hear, whilst they continue to eat 5-course meals in Harvard and Eton; the Britain’s Got Talent “everyone can succeed” dream of Susan Boyle hitting the big-time conceals the fact that the majority of people are watching this dream at home on a credit-paid oversized TV, no better off than they ever were before. Regardless of what policies may or may not actually be implemented by our politicians and regardless of the inability of the majority to rise above the mundane, we continue to believe that we actually have a say and can all become famous.
When it comes to new forms of motivation for work, Eliane Glaser suggests that whilst we are encouraged to want it more-and-more, work actually gives us less-and-less. Work seems more purposeful (yet relaxed) but its concealed demands are greater than ever.
I interviewed Eliane Glaser recently to get an in-depth look at this idea and find out if it’s true that I work 60 hours a week because I’ve been sold a lie, or if we really can find purpose and enjoyment at work…
DAN: What made you start thinking that this new motivation story was not all it seemed to be?
ELIANE: According to ‘Motivation 3.0′ as I believe it’s called, we are no longer wage slaves oppressed by authoritarian bosses, but we now work because we want to, because it fulfills us. We don’t just work to live, we live to work. The new language of management – and, incidentally, of marketing – is all about ‘engagement’, ‘two-way conversations’, and authenticity. Workplaces offer free food and drink and install ‘break-out’ or ‘chill-out’ areas with bean-bags and table football. But, as I argue in my book, I believe that this funky, pseudo-spiritual language of empowerment really masks a new power-grab by employers and financial elites more generally. In an age where people are working longer hours than ever before, where union rights are being eroded, where job security is diminishing and wags are stagnating, this rhetoric about fulfillment and ownership functions as a kind of fig-leaf or window-dressing for what’s really going on. And in many work sectors, for example creative and journalistic work, there’s a new notion that you don’t just work for money, you work ‘for the love of it’, as if working for money is some narrow, materialistic endeavour. The internet is awash with utopian promises of freedom, democratisation and empowerment for ordinary people, but if you are not paid for your work, you simply cannot afford to do it, unless you are lucky enough to be independently wealthy. Which is not very egalitarian after all.
DAN: You say that we now “live to work”. I remember when it used to be fashionable to say exactly the opposite: Work was ONLY about what it could give you outside – more partying, more holidays, more “stuff”… Surely if we’ve all been “sold” something else, we must have been ready to buy it? What is it in the working population that made us ready to switch to “the engagement ideal”?
ELIANE: I think that we all have a desire and a need for community, camaraderie, and meaningful individual and shared goals. Employers have realised that if these desires and needs can be situated in the workplace, this will result in greater investment by employees. By offering on-site free food, social events, social spaces, and away-days etc, corporations and other employers encourage workers to find what they need at work. Furthermore, opportunities for social and community participation and idealism outside of the workplace have declined: there are fewer opportunities for civic and community engagement, or contact with networks of neighbours or extended family. The rise of new technologies, commuting, consumer culture, and long working hours themselves – all these developments are eroding the opportunities for finding satisfaction and meaning outside work.
DAN: In your book, you talk about politicians who no longer talk honestly and openly about their own ideals, oil giants who position themselves as “green” and mass-produced brands who pretend to be artisanal and ethical. What would you say to the readers who brush off your ideas as cynical and simply “anti-establishment”?
ELIANE: I think there is an assumption that cynicism and optimism are opposed; that to be cynical is not to be constructive. But I think that questioning belief-systems and being critical is an underrated activity. By critiquing the deceptions and illusions in our politics and culture we can start to see things as they really are and start to influence things in a real way. So actually I am pretty optimistic, because I believe that by pushing concealed agendas out in the open, we can start to have a proper explicit debate about the kind of world we want to live in. I’m not sure that I’m anti-establishment, but I am critical of the elites in our society that unfairly monopolise power and resources. The gap between rich and poor, powerful and powerless in our societies is getting ever wider. It’s also ironic that those elites regularly adopt anti-establishment language themselves – for example that ‘radical’ Yahoo slogan: ‘The internet is under new management: Yours’ and the funky T-Mobile ‘flash-mob dance-athon’ ad campaign. Big corporations and political leaders are exploiting anti-establishment imagery in order to claim that they are not themselves the establishment.
DAN: Back to motivation: The evolution of motivation/work seems to have gone from “get up and do what you need to do to live” (caveman) to “do it for someone else, provided they give you enough pay” (basic “carrot” work model) to “do what gives you a sense of purpose, autonomy and freedom, whilst getting paid for it” (“motivation 3.0”, the subject of this interview). What do you see as the next trend in motivation/work? How will things change in the future?
ELIANE: I’m quite pessimistic about work in the future, in the sense that I think there are big changes ahead and that existing ways of doing things are going to break down. In the age of austerity and economic contraction, unemployment is high and job prospects are poor. Those management values of motivation 3.0 are increasingly being applied in the low-pay, low-status sector: in call-centres and vast dehumanised Amazon warehouses. Our pay is stagnating and our job security is being eroded, but the management language is getting more and more focused on “fulfillment”. This is creating a kind of tragic irony. The other big change that’s happening is that a great deal of professional and creative work, like journalism and writing, is going online, and those workers are not being paid for their work. They are supposed to produce their creative or journalistic work for the love of it. This I regard as a really corrosive trend, because fulfillment is increasingly regarded not as a counterpart to pay, but as a replacement for it.
Eliane Glaser is a writer for the Guardian and others, BBC producer, associate research fellow at Birkbeck and the author of “Get Real: How to see through the hype, spin and lies of modern life” which is published by Fourth Estate. She is based in London, UK and you can read see her press cuttings here: http://elianeglaser.blogspot.co.uk/p/press-cuttings.html
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Burnout is the name given for the “breakdown” associated with the experience of long-term exhaustion and diminished interest. It can be considered as the opposite of “flow” and can include a number of different symptoms, although all are related to the temporal inability to manage life properly and a state of extreme exhaustion and dissatisfaction with the status-quo. This post is the result of my own research on and experience with the topic. It gives further information about the meaning of burnout, how to recognise it in yourself and others and what to do about it. There are 4 sections:
- “Burnout can happen to anyone, for different reasons”
- “Burnout symptoms differ for everyone”
- “Immediate action is required”
- “Burnout is an investment in a brighter future”
BURNOUT CAN HAPPEN TO ANYONE, FOR DIFFERENT REASONS
The most obvious assumption about burnout is that you have to work really hard to get it. Although it may be true that too much hard work (A) leads to burnout (B) this does not imply that (B) must be caused by (A) or that (A) necessarily leads to (B). Like other forms of stress (and potentially depression) the causes of burnout are different for each person, but there are some common factors:
- Over-focussing on one area of life (work, a specific project, building a house, making babies…) at the expense of others (and at the expense of “balance”) may lead to burnout
- People who push themselves too much for their own resources, competences and/or preferences (in whatever domain) are more likely to suffer burnout
- Perfectionism and “other-oriented” people may be particularly prone to burnout as they feel they “must” achieve everything perfectly in order to be “acceptable”
- Extreme engagement and passion for a project, subject or job at the expense of other things can end in burnout
- Non-consideration of the connection between specific goals you are working on and their link to personal values, vision and belief may lead to burnout. Being extremely productive does not mean you are working in-line with the “real you”.
- Read here for other causes of burnout or have a look at this burnout risk self-test and some ideas from mindtools.com on avoiding burnout.
Re-reading this list, the “thin-red-line” that holds it all together seems to me to be the idea of “getting lost” in something, losing work-life balance or the feeling of “wholeness” and general life-satisfaction.
BURNOUT SYMPTOMS DIFFER FOR EVERYONE
Not everyone reacts to burnout in the same way, but there is of course a standard definition of burnout and a known set of symptoms (read “How to recognise when you are on the road to burnout“). You shouldn’t superficially compare burnout symptoms between different people because each person is individual. But if you suffer from a few of the following symptoms, that should be enough to get you thinking about the possibility of burnout. Hypochondriacs aside, if you’re asking if you’re having a burnout, you probably are or will do soon. Symptoms include:
- Constant sadness that doesn’t seem linked to any one particular cause
- Lack of inspiration or sudden disillusionment for the work you had previously been doing with lots of motivation and effort. You can read more about this in the introduction to burnout from mindtools.com.
- Inability to “get started” on things. This could range from a kind of apathy for “life in general” to one specific moment of literally not being able to get out of your car to go and visit the client you just arrived at.
- Feeling that things will never get better or that the work will never be done
- Crying regularly, for “no reason”
- Finding no pleasure in everyday activities, from spending time with family, to sport or hobbies
- Anger, sarcasm and other obtuse behaviours
- Sleeping or eating differently, whether it be 14 hours of sleep a day or 4, loss of appetite or binging
- Other physical symptoms like headache, anxious heart palpitations, fatigue or dizziness
IMMEDIATE ACTION IS REQUIRED
It would be wrong of me to post this piece without underlining the importance of medical attention or the fact that I am not a doctor. If you think you yourself are suffering from burnout, get help. In addition to medical support, here is my list of things to do to help deal with (and accept!) burnout:
- Stop working. Turn it all off. This is probably the hardest first step for people suffering from burnout. Daring to stop is tough. Many people suffer from “Information Deprivation Disorder“. Believing the world will carry on without you and you’ll be OK is even tougher. If you work for yourself, add to that the false idea that no-one will ever hire you again and you are set to keep on working even when all the signs say stop. You need a leap of faith to make this first step, or an intervention from someone else, or a complete breakdown or putting your back out or…. But it has to happen. Stop.
- Try and keep things in perspective. This is tough, because prior to burnout you didn’t keep things in perspective and at the start of burnout you just may be crying, miserable and lost. Good “perspective strategies” include speaking with different people you trust and love, writing down any little realisations you might have and a whole lot of trust. If you can remember that human beings tend to live to nearly 100 these days, you might be able to realise that this is only one point in time and things will change, one way or another. As George Harrisson sang: “All things must pass.“
- Do things that please you. This is a tough one. If you are feeling depressed and someone says “Do things that please you” it is likely you won’t have any idea what to do. Nothing pleases you! But if you can think of just one little thing you wanted to do at some point, but didn’t (because you we’re doing too much or working too hard) now is the time to do it. Go surfing. Play your guitar. Read that novel. Get a massage. Watch a movie at 1pm while the kids are out. Lie on the grass and walk in the snow. Not everything needs to have a reason and these previously seemingly irrelevant things that don’t advance your project or career need to have their space too. Start now.
- …but don’t throw the baby out with the bath-water. If you are burnt-out, you might get to thinking its a good idea to quit your wife, your job, your kids or sell the house. Don’t. Those are big decisions that need to be made with good mental health. Although you might get the idea that the causes of your burnout are all interlinked and therefore one major change will affect everything else, this doesn’t mean that the results will be positive and you are certainly in no state (yet) to implement massive life changes. Slow down!
- Sleep if you need to. Although at some point you will have to “get up and get on with your life” don’t be too tough on yourself. If you feel you need to sleep, do it. You are exhausted from the rhythm of your life to-date. Take the time to get your breath back.
- Move a little. Get out for a walk or do sport. Before burnout you were probably doing the same things in the same way all the time. Now you are taking a break from that. Although you may well spend a fair bit of time sleeping or doing nothing, just getting outside for a little fresh air and gentle movement can make a massive difference to your physical state and your mood.
- Focus on little wins. Going for one little walk or cooking a nice dinner or cleaning a cupboard or whatever you might fancy, success in doing something small is a wonderful thing. But keep it small! Then relax again. One thing at a time. This advice is the same for getting back to work, which we’ll get to in a minute…
- Find a way to express yourself on the subject. In a certain way, burnout can be seen as the previous non-expression of some part of you that now forces itself to be heard. (If you don’t understand what I mean, read “I think therefore I am. Not.“) This could be any facet of your ego/personality, but whatever it is, it refuses to lay down and let the intense workaholic one-track mind takeover anymore. You need to give that part of you some space. In the film “The Beaver” with Mel Gibson, the main character Walter Black (who is suffering from depression) manages to express another previously-silent “brighter” side of himself by wearing and speaking through a puppet. Although this film is not a lesson in how to deal effectively with burnout and depression, Gibson’s character at first finds a way to say what is on his mind and share with his family and friends. There is no shame in burnout and no reason not to share.
- Don’t think people are judging you. Mostly, they are not. People understand. And if you are an engaged, highly motivated passionate worker like many burn-out sufferers are, chances are that some of the people you hang around with will have had their own experience with burnout. As for everyone who judges you and thinks bad of you for your burnout: It will be hard to do, but you have to let these people go. They are not helping you and they don’t love you.
- Get advice, even from non-experts. Don’t try and do everything alone. Many other people have already lived what you arriving during burnout and there are plenty of experts out there, from medical professionals to life-coaches. But there are also friends and family, business acquaintances and random strangers. They might have something useful to say, something that enlightens you a little to your situation, style or options. If you trust these people, why not listen to what they have to say? And let’s face it: If you burnt out already all by yourself, you could probably use a little help from someone else.
For more ideas and resources, check out this very complete page from mindtools.com about recovering from burnout. It includes ideas about changing jobs and other things i have also written on like doing a SWOT analysis and creating strategic action.
BURNOUT IS AN INVESTMENT IN A BRIGHTER FUTURE
When you buy a nice new car, you tend to look after it. You get it serviced and you keep it clean, topped up on all the right fuels and oils and filters. It runs for years and you continue to love it. If you don’t service it and follow the maintenance instructions, one day you find yourself stuck on the side of the motorway, loaded down with bags and screaming children, no longer able to go on holiday and wishing you had done it differently.
It is easy to go through life at 120km/hour. When you are new to a job, young, fit or successful and healthy it’s easy to give 150%. When you can see the results that that gives and you want to grow even more, it’s easy to just keep going. But if you don’t sharpen the saw and maintain yourself, you will eventually breakdown. With a little luck you will have a burnout. If you’re unlucky, you’ll have a heart attack. Even a Ferrari needs to stop moving from time-to-time.
When you have a burnout, it might feel like the end of the world. its difficult to imagine that things will get better, but actually burnout is the start of something new and better. When you are done with the “immediate actions” noted above, you will start to reflect on what needs to change and how you can get better and stay sharp in the future. The following list of ideas may help you get back to “work” in a healthy and sustainable way:
- Realise that life is an opportunity to express different sides of yourself, not just one. Even if you are the CEO of the biggest company in the world and you made it all yourself, you are still a father, musician, husband, lover, runner, writer, fun person etc etc as well. Those sides of you need to have room to breathe and flourish. When you are feeling a little better from your burnout, sit down and list the different things you like to do and be and how you will help them to have more space.
- Make a schedule for a balanced life. At work, you plan time for the activities and projects that have the most importance. That is what they teach you in leadership courses and management classes. The same must be true for “post-burnout you”. If you think it is important for your physical and mental health to do some sport, plan it. If you wish you spent more time eating dinner with the family, plan it. And on the work front, if you hate admin and can only stand to do it one day a week, plan for it one day a week.
- Focus on little wins at the start. If you go back to work at 150% trying to “fix all the mess you made” you are going about things in the wrong way. Focus on small actions that show small successes and move you in the right direction. If, for example, you find yourself faced with an overflowing inbox, focus for 1 hour on just seeing what is in there. Don’t try and answer or deal with everything, just assess the contents. When that is done, stop. Do something else. Relax again. Even the biggest mountains in the world can be climbed in little steps. Don’t fall back into the old obsessive behaviours from the start…
- Get a post-burnout buddy. This could be a formal coach or just a good friend. But you need someone to help keep you stay on track. Burnout happens a lot to people who think they are indestructible entrepreneurial self-starters who can do and be anything they want. If you already burnt-out you know that this is not the case. To avoid the risk of just doing it again, find someone with whom you can discuss your plans and promises and who can call you up from time-to-time to see how you are doing.
What is important to remember with everything here is that without some realisation and tools, left to your own devices, you burnt out. Now you had the realisation, it is important to implement some new tools, until they turn into new habits…
I hope this post helped. Maybe you will realise that you need to take action now for the future, maybe you know someone who is having a burnout and this will help you help them, or maybe you can think about preventative actions for your own organisation.
If you have an experience to share or a reply to any of these ideas, please comment.
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When it comes to making well-rounded business decisions, a little bit of schizophrenia goes a long way. If you work on your own or need to make decisions on your own, schizophrenic considerations might make things a little easier ..and possibly more effective.
This morning, I have been faced with a lot of planning decisions. There I was, lost in my agenda, trying to decide how to use the limited time available in the year ahead. As I went through my planning, I was automatically making choices based on one unique variable: “Revenue”. Fortunately for me, my wife caught me at it and asked: “What are you doing? Are you only playing ‘Chief Financial Officer’ today?”
Working by myself. I am in fact responsible for all roles, decisions and types of work: HR, finance, business development, sales, innovation… If I get stuck in one of them, it is always to the detriment of another.
If I were working in a company, there would be a management board to make decisions; if I was on a project team, we might decide together. Everyone would come with their own “2 cents”, defending their own territory and striving to achieve their own goals. If the team is good, the company or project does well.
Why not use the same principles for your own work? Or if you work alone, like me, for your own company?
When faced with a decision to make, first list all the different points-of-view (or thinking hats) from which you might see things.
Today, I have decided to approach planning from the following points of view:
- “Financial” – Which choices will maximise my revenue for 2013?
- “HR” – What will develop my strengths and talents as a worker?
- “Business Development” – What will help me find and develop new clients, products and services?
- “Employee Satisfaction” – What will make me uber-happy in my job?
- “Customer Service” – What will give my existing customers the best experience?
- “Family” – What will get me home more, picking up the kids from school?
For each of those points-of-view, do your usual contemplative behaviour or try some of these techniques:
- List your positive and negative reactions to the options
- List potential outcomes of the options you are contemplating
- Take a walk
- Use some kind of numbering scale to rate options
- Phone a friend, ask Twitter or consult a group LinkedIn
- Research on the Internet
- Try one of these “30 Ideas on How to Make A Difficult Decision” from @TinyBuddha
How you actually choose will not be changed doing all of the above. But your decision will be more informed and more rounded. More schizophrenic. And the potential outcome may be quite different to just doing “more of the same”. Try it. See what happens.
Want some more ideas?
- See my post on “10 Ideas to Make The Best of SWOT Analysis”
- See my post on “How to Make (Group) Decisions”
- Follow me on Twitter
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Feel free to leave a comment!
What follows is a short article Tim wrote to share with other members of my LinkedIn group “Leadership Foundation”, where previous participants and people interested in the topic can share references outside of training. I think some of what you can read here is a great example of getting and staying in Flow – a wonderful story of intrinsic motivation and awesome success, despite drawbacks and a very busy life. As a fellow marathon runner, I know what it takes and Tim has done a great job!
As a side-note, my insurance broker asked me to underline that I can take no responsibility for injuries sustained outside of training with me Any further attempts to complete a marathon remain unsanctioned
In June 2011, I followed Dan’s “Leadership Foundation Course” at Ghent University. During one of his classes on prioritizing, Dan stressed out that if something is really important, you just do it. If you don’t do it, it means it isn’t important. This struck me, as I always said to myself “one day, I will run a marathon”. Up to that day, I didn’t run it, it was one of the things on my bucket list, something I wanted to prove to myself but I hadn’t done it yet… Was it really important to me? I didn’t want people to mock me as “the guy that runs a marathon with his mouth but not with his legs”… So, on that very day I made the decision that in 2012 I was going to run a marathon!
I had some running experience previously but I never ran further than 15km. In August 2011, I started training 3x a week to run a half marathon. I accomplished this goal in November 2011. It was hard, but I enjoyed the race and achieved my time goal as well. Ok, this was only half the distance I needed to run and winter was coming up which makes training harder… I decided to maintain my level of training throughout winter and spring and use summer to get in shape for the complete marathon.
In April 2012, I needed to pick the marathon I was going to run. I felt I needed something big, not a race where only 5 people and 6 horses are watching. So I enrolled for the New York City marathon. This was it, the registration was final, my flights were booked, I had some supporters to join me, now I really had to run the race, no way back… I had my physical condition tested in the University Hospital in Ghent and via a mutual connection, I got in touch with a multiple Belgian marathon champion. My new coach did a test run with me and gave me a schedule for 6 weeks after which I had to do a test over 5km to see how my progress was. We are now August 2012. The schedule consisted of 5 trainings a week: 2 interval training (very fast and exhausting), 1 very long and slow training and 2 recuperation trainings. As I still had my daytime job to do and I’m also involved in a contemporary dance group (for which I have to train 3 evenings a week), I knew I was going to be busy the next couple of months… Some days were quite hectic: getting up at 6h, starting work at 7h, finishing at 18h, going home and eat in a quicky off to dance class, returning home at 22h, suiting up for a run of 1 and ½ hour, taking a shower and going to bed at 1h. But I really wanted this, I wanted to run the marathon, I wanted to prove to myself I could do it, I wanted to be an athlete and I wanted to be able to say “one day, I ran a marathon” instead of “one day, I will run…”.
Six weeks later, my coach was happy with my progress and adjusted my training for the next six weeks. He really wanted me to perform at the best of my ability so the training volume increased. In November, I felt ready for it. My physical condition and confidence were peaking, I was going to conquer New York! Until hurricane Sandy arrived… The race was on Sunday 4th of November, we wanted to take a plane on Monday to adjust to the hour difference but Sandy made it impossible to leave… Our flight was rescheduled to Friday. Less recuperation time, but I still felt confident and motivated! We arrived in NY, retrieved my runner’s number… and found out just 15 minutes later that the marathon was cancelled… I have never felt so disappointed as I felt that moment. Three months of training, all for nothing…
The next morning I decided that this wasn’t going to stop me: I was going to run a marathon and I was going to run it as soon as possible! The same day, I signed in for the marathon of Valencia which was held 2 weeks later. I contacted my coach and he adjusted my training schedule. Back to the training ground…
Two weeks later, after all the training, the disappointment, the new trainings, I was more motivated than ever before. I was going to Valencia and I was going to give it all I’ve got! And so it happened that last Sunday November 18th, I finally did it. I ran the marathon of Valencia in 3h 23min 59sec. I was hoping for a time under 3h 30min and I achieved my goal. During the race, after 32km, I endured a pain I had never witnessed before but I kept going. Pain wasn’t going to stop me, everyone was suffering at that point, I had to succeed. Despite of the pain, I enjoyed the race. The atmosphere was great, especially during the last kilometer. When I entered the “stadium” were the finish line was and I heard the roaring sound of the crowd, my legs felt brand new and I sprinted like reborn to the finish line. I was an experience I will never forget, for that one moment I really felt like an athlete at the Olympics with thousands of people cheering for me. Once I crossed the finish, I was barely able to walk normal and I thought to myself “When did I ever had this stupid idea to run a marathon??!!”. But a couple of hours later, I was thinking “Actually, this was pretty cool, I might do it again one day…”.
To conclude, after a course of just one week, Dan Steer controlled my life for almost a year… Thanks Dan, for triggering me to really go for my dreams! I suffered I don’t know how many hours in rain, wind and cold on the road, but I enjoyed every minute of it! And perhaps even more important than finishing the marathon (of which I feel so proud), I now feel like I can accomplish everything I want! It really was an experience I will tell my grandchildren about and I all started one day in a class room at Ghent University with Dan Steer…
A short overview of the “community management” training programme I created for French speaking government organisation….
Objectif de la formation = « Savoir comment gérer efficacement une communauté afin de la faire vivre »
- Une prise de conscience de temps, ressources, enjeux et « best practices »
Une offre de formation créée sur mesure et focalisée sur vos besoins
Les participants ont besoin de conseils d’un expert et attendent une formation « classique ». Cette offre propose une expertise externe sur le sujet, tout en prenant conscience de vos besoins réels, ainsi que la situation de chaque participant. Pour cette raison, la formation est un mélange de théorie, discussions et exercices dans le cadre d’un « strategic training workshop ».
Avant la formation
- Les participants seront invités à compléter un questionnaire via www.surveymonkey.com . Cette démarche a pour but de connaître leurs propres perceptions sur la situation existante (ce qu’ils trouvent facile, difficile..), ainsi que de rassembler d’autres informations supplémentaires (quelle communauté, quels utilisateurs…)
- Chaque participant est invité à étudier à l’avance deux ou trois courtes références sur le sujet, afin de pouvoir profiter au maximum du temps « en classe »
- Le formateur se présente et explique en quelques mots le contenu et l’approche de formation via vidéo (YouTube)
- Les participants sont invités à compléter une étude évaluative du succès de différentes communautés et à partager les résultats avec DAN STEER
Pendant la formation
Approche = workshop « stratégique »
Après leur formation, les participants doivent bien agir pour bien gérer leurs propres communautés. Etant donné leurs différents objectifs ainsi que leurs situations existantes, il sera important d’adopter une approche stratégique. Pour cette raison, la formation même suivra l’ordre nécessaire pour créer de la stratégie, en 4 parties :
- Définition de l’objectif des participants / communautés
- Définition de la situation existante en comparaison avec l’objectif en prenant compte des différentes possibilités d’une communauté «online »
- Recherches des opportunités et actions prioritaires à mettre en place afin d’attendre l’objectif
- Création d’un plan d’action
Ceci n’est en aucun sens un coaching de groupe. Pendant chaque étape de la formation, le formateur offre son expertise, des conseils et les connaissances requises afin de savoir comment gérer efficacement une communauté pour la faire vivre. La discussion est néanmoins utilisée comme un outil pédagogique afin de partager les attitudes et stimuler de la motivation.
En suivant cet ordre, chaque participant partira avec un plan individuel à mettre en place.
Ce qui suit donne une idée à titre indicatif de différents sujets abordés lors de la formation. Les idées sont présentées dans l’ordre du workshop stratégique décrit ci-dessus.
Première partie = Définition de l’objectif
- Que veut dire « communauté ?
- Les objectifs « SMART »
- La marque d’une communauté (« community branding »)
- Le rôle du gestionnaire de la communauté
- Les clés générales du succès
A définir / discuter :
- Quel est le sens général de votre communauté ? Que voulez-vous pour les membres de votre communauté ?
- Quels sont vos objectifs?
Deuxième partie = Définition de la situation existante
- Quels sont les indicateurs d’une communauté « réussie » ? Quels sont les 3 points-clés à mesurer ?
- Exemples des communautés réussies (et non réussies)
- Le « chiffre de Dunbar » et ses utilisations
- La « pyramide d’engagement » et les différents rôles dans une communauté
- Votre audience, ses besoins, son comportement et ses habitudes
A définir / discuter :
- Les résultats actuels de votre communauté
- Votre situation actuelle en tant que gestionnaire de communauté : temps disponible, attitude…
Troisième partie = Recherches des opportunités et actions prioritaires
- Comment motiver de l’activité et le triangle d’or d’une communauté
- Création de trafic et « cross-pollination » sur différentes plateformes (on + offline)
- Techniques de modération
- Création et gestion de contenu on-line en fonction des besoins et des envies de différents profils/membres
- Création et gestion d’évènements (on + offline)
- Votre propre niveau d’activité
- Les différents défis et comment les surmonter
- Actions régulières à prendre
A définir / discuter :
- Choix d’options à implémenter
- Quelles fonctions utiliser dans votre propre outil
Dernière partie = Création d’un plan d’action
Pendant cette partie de la formation, chaque participant est invité à décider formellement ce qu’il va faire, comment et quand. Ces promesses pour « aujourd’hui », le court et long terme sont documentés afin de former la base d’une évaluation concrète de la réaction, de l’apprentissage, de l’activité et des résultats des participants.
Après la formation
L’apprentissage ne se termine pas à la fin de la formation.
Après la formation, un email est envoyé à chaque participant avec des références et ressources liées au contenu discuté.
Pendant les semaines qui suivent la formation, les participants sont invités à :
- Evaluer la formation en termes de leurs propres réactions et le contenu fourni – ceci est fait via www.surveymonkey.com.
- Partager :
- .. leurs propres réactions via un groupe fermé LinkedIn ou sur le site www.wallwisher.com *
- .. des exemples d’actions prises ainsi que leurs résultats.
* un exemple d’un « mur » de ce site peut être trouvé ici : http://wallwisher.com/wall/effectivepres
Sur base des réactions des participants, les actions prises et les résultats obtenus après la formation, DAN STEER reste ouvert à la possibilité de faciliter un coaching de groupe plus ou moins 3 à 6 mois plus tard.
If you are already managing a community, think about how you feel about all the above topics. Are you comfortable? What works? What doesn’t work? Where do you need help?
I went to the doctor the other month with a headache and he hit over the head with a plank of wood. Wrong solution. Made things worse.
I went to another and he gave me 500mg of Ibuprofen. Right solution, but not enough to calm the symptoms.
I went to third doctor and he prescribed 1kilogram of Ibuprofen. I spent 1 month in hospital getting over it.
A final doctor told me that what I needed was the minimum effective dose: The right amount of the right stuff to get the desired results. Not less, not more and not something else.
In all things effectiveness, leadership and communication, its the same story. I’ll take a presentation as an example:
- Don’t use a table when a graph would be better. Don’t give technical facts when a story would be easier to understand.
- Make sure you give enough content to make your point
- ..but not so much as to send them to sleep (or the hospital if it’s really bad!)
Minimum Effective Dose, introduced to me by Tim Ferriss in his great book “The Four Hour Body”, is THE guiding principle for personal effectiveness, leadership and communication.
Ask yourself (always):
- What MUST I have/say/do/be to get what I want?
- What is “just a bit more” with no real impact, or worse still: negative impact?
- What is the RIGHT WAY to get what I want?
- What approach would not be appropriate?
Are you doing the MED right now?
How can you apply the MED principle to your own work?
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Yesterday evening, I received an email from my wife (I know, modern times, eh ?) saying that she was miserable because despite working so hard , when she opened her account she was minus 500 euros. I replied (face-to-face, the loving husband that I am J ) that the problem was not her bank account, but her limited vision of financial success. If this intrigues you in the slightest, read on. If you’ve ever had the same feeling, read on. If you know nothing about financial measures, read on…
Cash is King?
That’s what they say right? But if you don’t need cash, then who cares? If cash in your pocket (cash situation) is all that counts, then yes, my wife has a bad financial situation because she doesn’t have any. But I proposed instead 8 other measures she could use to give another vision of things…
1 Total revenue earned in period
That’s a nice measure. Think about what you earned. And depending on the length of the period in question, you might see a really big number. Nice and inspiring if, like my wife, you are easily turned-on or put-off by superficial numbers. In my wife’s case, this would mean looking at her salary. But as a family, we can also include all other cash that comes into the household (family allowance, tax-return etc…)
2 Growth in revenue over time
For my wife, this was a really nice one, because 3 months ago she didn’t have a job and now she does. Depending on how you do business, you will need to choose the period well to give a good indication of real growth. In my business, there are seasonal peaks and dips, so I just look over a year. In the last 4 years, my revenue has grown by 46% (yr 2), 37% (yr3) and 24% (yr4). Like!
3 Money owed
If there is no prospect of money arriving in the future, then that is bad. But if people owe you money and you are confident it will come, this measure is interesting. I am currently owed 19600 euros and although there is a risk of non-payment, this has not caused any concern over the last 4 years.
Everyone has bills. But not all the time. If cash is low, but you are owed loads and don’t owe anything yourself, things are pretty good. Just collect what you are owed and smile again…
4 Profit (% vs. revenue won or net $)
Profit is what is left over when everything is paid (OK, it can be a bit more complicated than that, but let’s keep it simple). There are 2 ways to measure profit:
- As a money figure, eg: 2000 euros
- As a %
Personally, I prefer to measure the second one. Take your revenue, deduct all costs and then divide the final figure by the revenue won. The higher the %, the more profit you are making.
5 “Financial productivity”
I don’t know if it’s the right term, but I like this one: How time did you spend winning revenue vs. how much time was available for winning revenue. In my wife’s case, this is really motivating because she doesn’t work full-time. She can remind herself that she does other things with her life, rather than just work. As a “side-motivator”, she could take her revenue and max-it-up to 100% productivity to see what she would earn if working full-time.
6 “Financial efficiency” or “bill-rate”
Again, may not be the right term, but this is: Revenue per worked hour. If you believe Tim Ferriss, this is what really matters. If 2 people earn 100,000 euros, but one works 200 days and the other only works 50 days, it’s clear who is “richest”. This tends to depress my wife, as I am “richer”, but watch out for a future blog on “How to put a money-value the work of a house-wife”….
7 Assets, consumables and experiences acquired for money spent
This is simple/ I said to my wife: “So what, you are minus 500. Look at what you got for your money. A water-fountain, a nice holiday, kids going to scouts at the weekend, shoes, food…..” Money’s not worth anything is you’re not spending it, right?
OK, maybe this is not so financial. But who cares about all the money right? We’re not dying, we live well. We both love our jobs. Our kids our healty. Enjoy!!
Hope this was interesting.
If you are a business owner interested in other ways to measure success, read the book “Business Acumen” by Kevin Cope or get an overview here: “If you want to show value, you’ve gotta have Business Acumen”.
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Thanks for reading!
Now, my reply…
The phrase “giving performance reviews” worries me and although it may sound like a throwaway phrase, it may also hold the key to better success in retaining employees and their motivation.
“Giving performance reviews” implies for me some kind of hierarchical power structure or top-down culture where “the boss lets me know how I’m doing, what I did well and where I should change”.
I agree of course that feedback is essential for correcting or maintaining performance issues and as the original article pointed out, dialogue is a major key to doing that well.
But (of course, there is a but!):
I regularly hear from corporate employees that these “discussions” often focus entirely on being given feedback on performance (and correcting it) and not enough on career, motivation etc..
They add also that despite being “allowed to speak”, any attempt to create real alignment between personal objectives, career aspirations, culture… and those of the company are often merely a case of “good form” (“he asks, but nothing ever comes of it”).
When I push my training participants for ideas on how to improve this approach, they regularly refer to how “they” don’t care about “us” and how all “they” are really concerned about is how to distribute amongst “us” the pot of available bonus money this year.
If these employees are lucky, they also get a moment (once a year) to discuss career aspirations. I hear that this is like “let’s write down what you’d really like to be doing…” But that’s it.
In conclusion, sitting in my car in Gent, waiting to go to work:
Let’s focus first on fixing the hierarchical “us and them”
approach to collaboration. The real reason “21 million U.S. workers planned to change jobs this year” (as the article states) is because they are not getting what they need to find happiness, flow and motivation at work. If yearly performance reviews could be replaced by regular true collaborative working-togetherness, aligning culture, process, performance and motivations we probably wouldn’t need to teach people tips for “giving performance reviews”.
Until them, I’ll go back to my third day of teaching just that…
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What have I seen in 2 decades of learning?
The changes seen are mostly related to the different ways in which organisations have changed over these last 2 decades:
…and what does this mean for the business world on a larger, global view?
We are no longer in the Industrial Era, but in the Knowledge Era.
What does this mean for Learning Professionals and HR people?
What is coming next?
…that’s where I stop. Hubert is speaking 3 languages and I have to save some brain power for my own speeches later
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