People are not your greatest asset

LONDON – At least that’s what this article in HBR states.  And they are right (yes it was a deliberately provocative headline, but it worked).  The point they make is that

It’s how you empower your people. Think about it. What is the primary purpose of a business organization? To assemble a group of people, who previously may have had no association, and empower them to accomplish productive work toward the organization’s objectives. More effective empowerment typically equals more productive work.

Yep.  Empowerment. Erm, engagement.

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Vanity commenting

We’ve all seen it:  a blog posting or a LinkedIn Group discussion amongst a community of interest, and in the middle of the discussion comes a comment – usually from an agency / consultancy to be fair – that is more for the benefit of self-promotion than contributing to the discussion.

To be fair, all of us are now in the business of managing and building our personal brands, particularly in the social media space – and part of that includes participating in the conversation economy.  I’m sure I’m guilty of “ego commenting” myself.

But I’d argue that if the “ego posters” aren’t careful, just as with any other brand and marketing communications, their attempts could be counter productive.

Some examples: Bob responds to a post about X with a tenuous link opening door to a monologue about his experience as a general manager in the defence industry – a thinly veiled attempt to demonstrate high level trusted advisor status.  Janet sends a hilarious email to several people who know Bob and his (ahem) propensity for self-aggrandisement – “Good thing we have Bob around so we can all sleep at night.”  Just like with a business or consumer brand, your brand exists in the minds of your audience.  Everything you say or do has an effect, sometimes not the intended one.

Another example:  A client (Davina) gets a glowing write-up in the trade press spurring a discussion about the way she’s dealt with a challenge. The discussion is by and large about the technique at hand and exploring the idea – but of course there are a couple of posts from Niall (and the group is well aware of Niall’s combination of sanctimonious lecturing coupled with delusions of competence) that seem more interested in (a) subtly knocking down Davina and (b) implying that if Niall had been in charge, things would have been done a lot better and more effectively.  Once again, the emails do the rounds and Niall’s brand is further damaged.

On the other hand, there are examples where someone shares a really insightful personal story.  For example, the discussion on topic X is heading in one direction when Gary puts forth a simple and quite touching remark redirecting the conversation into totally new territory.  Gary’s brand equity rises exponentially with a single, sharp intervention.

Now these might be a slightly apocryphal, but that’s how communities communicate and social communication happens.

What are your comments and posts like?  I’ve got it wrong plenty of times (no shortage of self promotion, vanity, or ego here I’m afraid).  But I do now strive to think – Is this comment for them, or is it for me?

Competence vs Confidence, redux

London – Has it really been 2 months since I posted?  Egad.  Victim of my diary!

Just some quick thoughts on the COMPETENCE vs CONFIDENCE topic that was debated a while back on CommScrum … I lead a global practice called “Brand and Talent”  for MSLGROUP (part of Publicis Groupe).  This practice ties together our offer in employer branding (talent acquisition) and employee engagement (talent development and management) across 24 countries.  We recently met in Stockholm for our first global practice meeting.

First, it was fantastic to have all of the team in the same place at the same time – people from North America, India, China, France, The Netherlands, Nordics, and points in between.

Second, each market had its own challenges and levels of maturity and sophistication – not to mention cultural and employment market dynamics as you would expect.  More on this in an upcoming post!

Third, each and every person in the room was a competent, well-skilled communicator able to tackle audience segmentation, measurement, message mapping, storytelling, social media, leadership communications, change management, etc. — even if they might not claim great strength in some of the areas.  But the real outcome of the 2 day (3 day for the die hards!) sessions – some of which focused on technical processes and methodologies, and some of which were more strategic in tone – was that we built up our confidence as a Practice – that we are speaking the same language, using the same tools, sharing the same mindsets when it comes to servicing our clients.

While that might sound basic or fundamental to a professional service organisation – trust me, it is not always the case.  I have been part of other big global networks who claim capability when all they really have is a dot on a map and an agency they bought there.  What’s exciting to me is to be a part of a truly global practice with a  team “on the same page.”

Most of them will have worked together on some of our global accounts in some way or other – but, in this age of mediated social communication, it’s refreshing that face to face is a premium driver of CONFIDENCE.