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9 competences you need in your workforce today and tomorrow

If you are looking to hire someone to join your company or to develop existing people who will regularly bring added-value (in the long-term), you need to think about more than technical or functional skills. In my opinion, the 9 following competences are absolutely key to sustainable success in today and tomorrow’s business environment…

 

THE CONSTANT LEARNER

It has been said for decades that the only constant is change. Clearly that hasn’t changed. If we cannot be sure about what tomorrow looks like, then the following three competences are important:

  • Open-mindedness is the ability to receive and treat new information without overbearing prejudice. Many of us spend the majority of our waking lives on autopilot, doing things just like we did yesterday, set in our ways and thoughts. Open-minded people are able to put their own convictions on hold and see things differently in order to deal with new ideas. They are conscious of their own habits and convictions, they listen well and they tend not to mix up their own perception with reality.
  • Self-learning is the ability to define, follow-up, deliver and evaluate learning goals in an autonomous way. Today’s workers must be able to acquire and assimilate knowledge, learn new skills and question their own attitude without the necessary intervention of a learning department or teacher. Specific skills here include goal-setting, self-coaching and identifying infinite learning opportunities.
  • Problem-solving skills and scientific reasoning are required in order to figure things out where no answer currently exists. Workers must have the ability to correctly assess and define a problem. They must have a minimum of business acumen and creativity to propose multiple hypotheses and a sufficient scientific process to create “experiments” that will allow them to isolate, test and understand problem causes and potential solutions.

 

FUNCTIONING WELL IN TODAY’S UBER-SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT

In today’s working environment (the “New World of Work”) the possibilities are endless. We can gather and share information from and to everywhere in a click. We have unprecedented access to other people. We are mobile within markets and across functional and geographical lines. The following three competences are all about getting and giving the best in that environment:

  • Personal Knowledge Management is a collection of processes that a person uses to gather, classify, store, search, retrieve, and share knowledge in his or her daily activities. Faced with the enormous noise of information coming in from everywhere in multiple formats, today’s workers need to be able to make sense of it all and put the noise to effective use for herself and others, today and in the future.
  • Networking skills allow workers to effectively analyse, evaluate and improve their own networks in order to receive and give more value. With a clear long-term mission and good social skills, effective networkers can assess, create and maintain well-functioning networks. They know the right people (who know the right people..) and can establish trusting useful contacts over a variety of face-to-face and virtual platforms in order to achieve their goals.
  • Commercial communication and personal branding. As businesses become more “intrapreneurial” and workers get involved in more cross-functional, multinational projects, the ability to understand the situation, values and needs of other people and position oneself and one’s work “commercially” in terms of benefits is key to being accepted and being useful. No-one can sit back and say that “sales” is for someone else. As Daniel Pink has said, to sell is human and we’re all doing it, whether we know it or not. The product/service branding approach of matching key messages to target audiences can today be equally well applied to individuals – effective personal branding helps other people to see your own value more easily.

 

BRINGING VALUE TO THE BUSINESS

A constant learner who is able to function well in an uber-social environment is not worth anything if he doesn’t really understand how business is happening and what can be done to achieve goals. He needs three additional competences:

  • Business acumen or business intelligence is the first foundation for adding value to an organisation. In the past, only the management needed to worry about the universal drivers of cash, profit, growth, people and assets; everyone else could “just” focus on his job. But as environments, people, projects and processes change rapidly, there is more need for workers who truly understand their own work and how it influences the bottom-line and delivers on company strategy. If you don’t understand the core factors that make your business successful, you will not be able to identify opportunities, solve problems or articulate solutions that bring any value.
  • Strategic thinking is the ability to identify priorities based on current position in relationship to the end-goal. Technical or tactical experts tend to have a good grasp on which is the best way to achieve a certain action, but strategic thinkers more easily identify those actual actions which really need to be taken at this time. Although top-management may be responsible for defining the company strategy, each individual needs himself to be able to regularly and effectively assess their own position (in terms of S/W/O/T etc..) and look for recurring themes and priorities. In this way, they can strategically choose relevant action and next concrete steps.
  • Proactivity is the ability to stop, think and choose, rather than simply reacting to circumstance. A close-cousin of both strategic-thinking, open-mindedness and problem-solving ability, proactivity requires self-knowledge and a specific attitude, in addition to specific knowledge of the environment and mission. Faced with unacceptable results, the proactively-reactive person will assess the situation and processes/programs in order to create change which he or she believes he can orchestrate. And the truly proactive person will “in advance” take the initiative to assess risks to the mission and think about how to do things differently and how to have a maximum impact.

 

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Online Community Management Tips and Best Practices

This post delivers advice, references and best practices for the major steps of online community management: Objective setting, branding, workload, user-types, engagement strategy and measuring success.

 

For the purposes of this post, the definition of “online community” is “a virtual community that allows members to communicate and share in various ways via an online platform.” If that’s what you are interested in, read on…

 

Define the objective/s of your online community

Before you start working on your own community, consider:

  • What is the general sense of your community? What is it designed to achieve? Define a general purpose. For example: “Sharing best practices around project management” or “a one-stop shop for all managers to get references and support for their activities”.
  • According to the Socious post “How to Set Online Community Goals“, online metrics are business metrics. Your online community goals should reflect the greater purpose of what you are trying to achieve with your business. Generic community goals include “learning”, “sharing”, “creating involvement”, “brand loyalty”…
  • What are the specific goals for your community? How will you know you are being successful? Create SMART goals.
  • There are plenty of free-to-download resources like this one that will help you to well define your goals.

 

How you are going to brand and “sell” your online community?

A brand is defined as “an idea or image of a specific product or service that consumers connect with”. To create a connection between the goals of your online community and the people who are using it, you have to “think brand”.

 

Don’t underestimate the work of the community manager

According to experienced community managers @rhappe and @jimstorer, simply building an online community will not ensure success. There are “8 habits of highly effective community managers” and these must be continually accounted for in order to get results:

  1. Get obsessed with knowing your audience
  2. Create a sharing culture
  3. Constantly maintain relationships (with the right people)
  4. Dedicate resources to the community
  5. Talk about and integrate your community elsewhere
  6. Leave room for members to participate how they want to
  7. Seek out balance between “value” and “engagement”
  8. Constantly measure, evaluate and re-position

 

Understand different user types and build relationships with the right people

It is important to know some things about how people interact on communities and define well the different roles of your own community. Not everyone uses online communities in the same way.

  • Engage the other 100 with the golden triangle (read lower), conversation, reward, gamification and lots of love. They are providing the meal for the other 300!

 

8 things to do when starting your online community

If you are starting up with a community, consider the following actions:

 

Actively encourage participation in your community

If your community is already active, use the following strategies to encourage participation:

  • Remember the golden triangle of networking: Ask, give and thank. (The following 4 points give more detail…)
  • Ask questions to solicit information. Good context-driven open questions are likely to work best and if you give an opinion in your questionm this already gives people something to “reply” to.
  • Make requests from the community. Ask for support and resources? (“Who has an idea on…?” and “Can anyone help with ….?”)
  • Share things yourself. (Do as you would be done by!)
  • “Like” and “rate” things that people add. One study on “The Role of Status Seeking in Online Communities” says that informational gift giving is strongly driven by status and status-seeking. When people share and give advice, they look for recognition. They like to know that what they have added has been seen. A little bit of “like” goes a long long way..
  • Plan time in to your work week for community management activities. Remember that online community and social media management takes time. Failure to invest time= failure to achieve.
  • As @ifdyperez says in the “7 Point Community Manager’s Checklist” you must keep up with the trends. Make sure you know what is going on in and around your community. Perhaps its not relevant today, but it may be relevant tomorrow…
  • Continually cross-fertilise across other platforms and communications. Blog-posts, new updates, FAQs and other community content are great for those who are already looking at your online community. But those who are not yet present on your platform must be encouraged to go there. Find them where they are now and push traffic to your online community. Tweet. Share on Facebook. Send an email. Sow the seeds…
  • Remember that the information flow keeps flowing. If the half-life of a tweet is only 4 minutes, it is because there are so many twitterers and so many tweets. When I visit a successful community page on Yammer, I find the latest news or flow of updates. If people are regularly adding things, then whatever was posted a day ago has already disappeared down the list. So remember this: If it is worth sharing once, it is worth sharing again.
  • Contextualise information. Your members are present because they see added-value with regard to their own situation. Whatever you share must make sense to their situation. Think before you post. Remember the “only 3 questions that count” and add user-relevant context to your post so that people can immediately see how it relates to their own situation, needs and goals. Get more information on this idea in this post from Harold Jarche on “Sense-making with PKM”.
  • Moderate conversations actively. If people are going off topic, tell them. If people don’t reference an article well, ask them where they got their information from.
  • Don’t over-control activity, but don’t be afraid to tell people when things are going wrong. Leave people freedom, but don’t forget that its your job as community manager to keep things working well.

 

Measure the success of your online community

According to the Blue Kiwi Software Company, everyone knows what a successful community looks like: Active members share things that encourage other members to come back and get more active and there is a shared sense of purpose and longevity of activity.

If you want to keep your community relevant, useful and motivating, you must regularly measure how things are going… ..and adapt accordingly:

  • Don’t forget your goals (see above)
  • In a previous post of mine, I talked about the importance of traffic, relevance and continuity in social media activity
  • Blue Kiwi says measuring online community success is done in 5 ways: Views, new contributions, reactions, sharing and “value”
  • If you need help to measure these things, ask the community developer (or your IT department) – they can surely help

 

If you are already managing an online community, take a moment to review how you feel about all the above topics. Are you comfortable? What works? What doesn’t work? Where do you need help?

Maybe you can share a comment here?

 

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