You Make Management a Dirty Word

Management.

Say the word aloud.

Does it make you cringe? What comes to mind when you hear this word? Your experiences with a poor manager?

One of my favorite areas of business exploration is the CRM/Social CRM space. There are some great conversations occurring across the social web about how businesses should and can connect the dots between social and transactional data. Yet, this healthy flow of dialog always gets interrupted with the debate over the acronym. On more than one occasion, I have heard the cry for the M (standing for management) be removed or some other letter for some reason or another. Then the conversation takes a nose dive and becomes all about the semantics of the acronym.

Lately, this argument has had me frustrated because I thought this debate was useless and we were getting away from discussing the business process and putting theory into practice. And then, today, I had a light bulb moment while commenting on a post (original post) about customer experience and the ill feelings toward the word ‘management.’ This debate may actually help shed light on the areas that need to improve before we put theory into practice.

If you get rid of management, experience will follow. Management is not about dictating customer experience, but about guiding and educating the workforce to provide the best customer experience possible.

What is the job of a great manager?

  1. Be enthusiastic – A great manager shares the vision and shows excitement about exploring this new space or challenge.
  2. Hold team accountable – A great manager does not settle for mediocre results, but helps the team set measurable objectives and meet/exceed those challenges.
  3. Empower workforce – A great manager educates the team, thus empowering them to make rational decisions.
  4. Be a communicator – A great manager builds a professional relationship allowing for two-way dialog discussing performance, expectations and organization mission.
  5. Cultivate workforce – A great manager surrounds self with people who have strengths the manager does not  and develops/matures their strengths and weaknesses without the fear of replacement.

What happens before the customer experience? Management. Management is an internal function and the reward of successful management is external. The organization needs to do a better job of managing the workforce, by educating them about social data, integrating social strategies and data with other business processes, and so on.

We get so hung up on the word ‘management.’ It is a dirty word colored by our own experiences with a manager and makes everyone cringe. But management is needed and cannot be thrown to the curb because of semantics. It is not the customer we are trying to control, but the business process internally.

Being a manager is very similar to being a parent. You are the role of authority, so you can provide a safe haven (in the beginning) for a child to learn and grow, and ultimately enjoy positive life experiences. Social is not a band-aid for experience. It is an opportunity for management to educate and evaluate other customer touch points across the organization.

How can we change this debate over letters in an acronym to a conversation that pushes us forward?

Turning Over a New Leaf

Welcome to my new playground!

A year ago, I left my Federal Government job of eight years and accepted a position with Radian6. I was so excited about being free of the red tape of my former job. However, I learned very quickly from the clients Radian6 serves that it does not matter if an organization is government, small business, B2B vs. B2C…every organization faces the same basic challenges. And the majority of these organizations are trying to solve for the symptoms and not the root cause of concern.

I am turning over a new leaf and am excited to see what is on the other side. The inspiration behind my new blog, The Root Report, is from this quote:

“When solving problems, dig at the roots instead of just hacking at the leaves.” – Anthony J. D’Angelo, The College Blue Book

Collaboration is key to unlocking the strengths and weaknesses of any complex issues, so I will be inviting some very special people from within and outside the communications industry to discuss how we can stop hacking at the leaves and how to live the strategy.

When I published my first post in 2006, I never dreamed my path would lead me to where I am today. Through the Communicators Anonymous blog and other online channels I have met some brilliant minds. Along the way you have taught, challenged and inspired me to go above and beyond. Just think, four years ago, I was twenty-something with a chip on my shoulder and ready to conquer the world. Um, I think the world conquered me and has prepared me for the riches ahead. Sometimes you have to let go of being in control.

I have not been as fervent a writer on Communicators Anonymous in the past several months. I have had to re-discover my voice. While writing for Salute to Your Service, I was not in danger of repeating myself because I was writing about and discussing AAFES and the military family. At Radian6, I discuss the ins and outs of the communication/social media industry and struggled to find a dividing line between my voice on my personal blog and on the Radian6 publications.

There has been a burning desire to write about so much more. Get to the root of business issues. Even on Communicators Anonymous, I felt we did not have to reinvent the wheel, but discover and fix the cause of the problem, rather than finding a Band-Aid. When I first began Communicators Anonymous, it was with the mindset of getting back to the basics of the public relations industry.

Now, it is so much more. It is beyond tactical. It is beyond being pigeon-holed into a public relations position. It is about being a successful communicator who can work harmoniously inside and outside the organization. Putting theory into practice and living the strategy. We, as communicators, are in the prime position to have a seat in the C-suite, spur a culture change, drive long term relationships and be accountable for business goals.

Whether you have participated on the Communicators Anonymous blog or have just discovered The Root Report, I am happy to have you along for the ride. We are in this together!

Let’s get started shall we? Begin by subscribing to this blog (if you have already subscribed to Communicators Anonymous, there is no need to re-subscribe) and the first post will be served up Wednesday.

Zany: Tap Into Your Curiosity

Lately, I have taken for granted our ability to tap into our curiosity, embrace our imagination and think beyond our current norms. In the doldrums of the Twitter feed, many are often sucked into the activities of content regurgitation and knee jerk assumptions. Discovery is buried deep within the retweets and status updates; golden nuggets are rare, that when found, it is unknown what we should do with it.

In a recent TED talk, James Cameron discusses how he tapped into his curiosity to create the blockbuster, Avatar. He delivered these pearls of wisdom:

  1. Curiosity is the most powerful thing YOU own.
  2. Imagination is a force that can actually manifest reality.
  3. Respect (of your team) is more important than all the laurels in the world.

Don’t put limitations on yourself; others will do that for you,” Cameron says.

Every great discovery originated with creative imagination sparked by curiosity. What is your great discovery? Here are some ways I keep my mind and imagination active…How do you tap into your curiosity? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

  • Read some good children’s stories. I recommend C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia (read entire series, not just those books that have been made into a movie). Currently, I am reading and analyzing Alice and the Looking Glass for a blog post series on online etiquette/privacy/community.
  • Embrace the natural talents bestowed upon you. Since I can remember, I have enjoyed writing…fiction, non-fiction-it did not matter as long as I had a pencil and notepad. To cultivate this talent, I start each morning with a writing exercise from A Writer’s Workbook by Caroline Sharp.
  • Think visually. Perhaps the written word is weighing your down original thought? I am no David Armano, but I love to mix up my thought process with mind maps and drawing exercises.

Take ownership of your curiosity.

Failure Is An Option – Fear Is Not

The title of this post is courtesy of James Cameron’s closing words in a recent TED talk. Cameron is of the opinion that failure must be an option-contrary to the NASA slogan, “Failure is not an option.” I am of the same opinion. Failure is OK. It means there is room for intellectual growth. Fear of failure hinders our ability to broaden our mind and innovation. Unfortunately, in social media, “failure” is a term that has been thrown about way too casually.

When all else fails (pun intended), I turn to Yoda:

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

Our collective fear of failure has turned the social media culture into an extremely negative bubble. Saying something has failed is the new equivalent to “whatever.” When we don’t take the time to learn from our mistakes or to understand the situation before jumping to conclusions, we label the situation/product/brand/company/person as a failure. There is no reflection or analysis; we move on to the next failure/dead meme. Poof! Our fear of failure is causing original thought to become stagnate and our relationships and businesses are suffering.

Failure does not mean we have done something wrong. No, we have done something right by taking a chance and seeking out alternative solutions as new opportunities for growth. We need to foster a culture to make mistakes-not to fail faster, but to fail at the right time.

How can we embrace failure and help end this vicious cycle?

  1.  Experiment: Lessons learned are the results of failures. Our lives are one big experiment. Just think, with this frame of mind, the possibilities of discovery are endless! Ask questions. Go beyond your comfort zone. If we allow our Ego to think we have figured this thing called life out, we are doomed…personally and professionally.
  2. Reach: If we never reach for the stars, we will never know our true abilities. Fear limits our opportunity to take risks. You never know you will not succeed unless you try.
  3. Strengthen: What did your parents always tell you? When you fall, get back up, dust yourself off and try again. Let that childhood lesson remain true into adulthood and in professional situations. Failure builds our character after we have fallen, been humbled and rise back from the ashes.
  4. Embrace: Failure is inventible. Write down your mistakes and failures. Look at your failure as a problem to be solved and break the issue into components that you can analyze and brainstorm additional paths to success. Change your thought process to be solution oriented.
  5. Inspire: Celebrate your failures and use this as an opportunity to make yourself, others and your industry better. Share your stories. Be open about what worked and did not. Accept feedback and ideas other than your own. This is true transparency.

By no means am I an optimist. Those of you closest to me or who have read this blog long enough, know I tend to look at the glass half empty. Despite this, I don’t want to live a life full of regret. Fear of failure will result in a drab existence if we allow this cycle of hate to consume us. Becoming more comfortable with failure builds a tougher skin, boosts courage and gives us the strength we need to pursue and achieve success. Don’t you think triumph is a bit sweeter after we have tasted and overcome the bitterness of failure?

So, before you label something with #failure or proclaim something dead, take a second look. Perhaps what has failed is your ability to see the bigger picture.

Blaze Your Own Trail

This morning, I was served breakfast in bed (strawberries sprinkled with dairy-free chocolate) by my husband in celebration of International Women’s Day. I had not heard of or celebrated IWD before 2008 when Leo came into my world. Apparently, in other parts of the world (specifically from Leo’s experience in Brazil) this day is highly celebrated and women given flowers in the streets by strangers. Sounds delightful. Yet, despite never having recognized this day before, I have always been surrounded by friends and family who have made IWD an everyday occurrence for me.

You see, my parents never told me I could not achieve anything. My sister and I were not hampered by boundaries. We could be whatever we dreamed. There was no one who told us it had never been done before and therefore could not be achieved or our dream would be a challenge.

No boundaries.

Last night, while watching the Oscar coverage and monitoring the online stream of chatter about the Hollywood prom night, I noticed several people commenting about the extraordinary win of Kathryn Bigelow as Best Director. Now that Bigelow had won the prestigious award, other women could now tell their daughters this dream was possible. When was it ever impossible?

This February, I was blessed with a second daughter. I will never tell either of my daughters they are hampered by their gender or race. They are individual human beings with equal rights and opportunity. They cannot expect to have doors opened to them based upon their gender, but due to their talents, discipline and dedication. They must blaze their own trails and not depend upon others to open doors that may be closed at present. They are in charge of their own destiny and how they execute their wills. I will encourage my daughters and other women to look to history as inspiration, but never as a limitation for what can and should be done. History is history. Blaze your own trail…live in the present.