Blog Archives

Goal-setting alone goes nowhere

This is an angry blog-post, fuelled by failure and feeling lost.
Trying to “get what you want” and “achieve goals” has driven me mad.
At the age of 35, I’ve had enough.

It may have started with my parents, who either pushed me towards goals or didn’t stop me from my own endless pursuit of the achievement of goals. It continued in school, where top grades were sought out for no reason but their own apparent top-grade value. And since day one in the corporate world, it has been shoved down my throat by Covey-inspired managers …and later reinforced by performance bonuses and general back-slapping. It hasn’t stopped. Goal, goal, goal. Do, do, do. Achieve, achieve, achieve.

But in a world where it is “good” to achieve targets, I fear that this achievement itself has become some kind of altar at which people like me pray. But where is the god of purpose for which this altar was erected? Without that, the prayer of achievement loses all sense.

 

When you get into the process (and life) of setting goals and achieving targets, it is fun. You can put ticks in boxes and say “I succeeded”. If you have an app like “Lift” you can share your goals and your success with other people, who will congratulate you for being like them and achieving what you all set out to do.

But I wonder how many people installed “Lift” and did like I did, just browsing though the habits and goals to choose from and picking things that sounded cool, then setting their goals? Or sat down on New Year’s Eve (or performance-review day) and asked themselves “What goal can I have for next year?” Like an achiever’s buffet-bar. Eat all you can.

In my own case, with the “Lift” app, it would surely have been better to actually have a real goal in mind (or better yet, some sense of purpose) before downloading the app and then use it’s social reinforcement mechanisms to help me get it done. But that’s not what I did. I heard about an app that let’s you share and track goals and thought it would be “good” just because it helps you share and track goals and because that is in itself a “good thing”. I think I am obsessed with (or at the very least, attached to) achieving. And apps that help you achieve are “good”. But what am I actually achieving? What is it all working towards?

 

And so I write this angry post: Goal-setting and achieving targets is bad. Dangerous. Goal-setting should be a means to a purposeful end, but for workaholic, other-oriented, self-esteem-seeking people like myself, it becomes the end in itself. And it is an end which goes nowhere when you lack any sense of what is “good” or purposeful outside of the goal itself.

 

As of today, instead of setting goals outside of myself for things to get, be or do I am going rather to focus on looking inside and stripping away everything I don’t want to get, be or do. I have always been told that I should create smart goals that are positive and focus on what I want to achieve. But since I now reject goals and don’t really know what I want to achieve, I will just be negative. I will instead focus on what I don’t want and just see where that takes me. Instead of trying to make a pretty garden with no clear vision of what “pretty” is, I am just going to focus on pulling out the weeds.

 

Maybe when everything is stripped bare and I’m left with nothing to be, have, do or achieve, I’ll know who I really am, what I really want and what can be done.

I suspect that then I will probably no longer care about goal-setting and achievement.

Just the garden itself.

 

 

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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Good luck!

 

Leadership resources from a recent Kluwer training

Having just completed delivery of a 4-day Leadership Training with @KluwerOpleiding (thanks @MiekWouters for the chance to have a small group :-)) I thought I’d share the email stream that built up from me to participants over the 4-days. Loads of references here…

 

References DAY 1

 

Homework / Preparation DAY 2

 

References from DAY 2

 

Homework in preparation for DAY 3

  • Think of a problem you have (professional or personal). This will be used in day 3. You will be asked to state your problem and ask for help…
  • Think of a difficult communication situation or difficult person you have had to deal with (personal or professional)

 

Here are the references from training DAY 3

 

Homework in preparation for DAY 4

  • Prepare a 1 minute presentation of yourself – anything is fine, we just need some data to use for a feedback exercise, so no stress!
  • Please think about additional topics to cover in group coaching session in the afternoon of Day 4

 

References DAY 4

 

Hope this was interesting

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