Archive | April, 2011
My work involves some interesting adventures. Today I took a break from writing to head to my alma mater, the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I joined some fellow alums from the world of TV news to talk about the state of the media. On the panel with me were Jeff Greenfield (CBS), Chris Bury (ABC), David Tabacoff (FOX) and Peter Greenburg (CBS). We discussed the changing technology, viewer habits, new distribution systems for news, painful budget and staff cuts in the industry -- and the importance of ethic and critical thinking for journalists and viewers alike.
I've rarely met managers who assume they are terrific at communication. Smart ones recognize that they aren't the best judges of their skills -- the people who work for them are. Even the best-intentioned bosses discover that they're missing the mark or causing problems because they're overlooking some opportunities to get their messages across loud and clear. That's why I penned a column for Poynter.org, offering three tips that you can put to work right now -- and they can immediately improve your effectiveness. There's a companion podcast, too. Feel free to click here to access both. Feel free to let me know what you think!
There's an old expression: "Tell them what you're going to tell 'em. Tell 'em. Then tell 'em what you told 'em." The thought is that a speaker needs to be perfectly clear as a communicator. It's especially important for bosses. But how much communication is too much? After a verbal request or instruction, should you send a memo or two, make a follow-up call, send a text? New research reported by the Harvard Business School finds that redundant communication is especially important for managers who are working on collaborative projects -- where they don't have supervisory authority over all of the employees. Here's what one of the researchers, Tsedal B. Neelye says:
Managers lacking direct power, however, assumed nothing. They proactively used redundant communication to convince team members that their project was under threat and that they needed to be part of the solution. "Those without power were much more strategic, much more thoughtful about greasing the wheel" to get buy-in and to reinforce the urgency of the previous communication, Neeley says. "Managers without authority enroll others to make sense of an issue together and go for a solution."It turns out that even among powerful managers, clarity is nice -- but redundancy in communication seems to get the job done best. Let me say that again: redundancy is valuable!
What a terrific surprise! Today, I opened up iTunesU on my iPad -- and checked out the Top iTunesU Collections rankings. "What Great Bosses Know" was at the top of the list! Thanks to everyone who downloads these quick learning lessons -- and to those of you who have left kind comments about the help they're providing you. I enjoy hearing from people from all parts of the world, in all professions, about their leadership challenges. If you haven't heard the podcasts, you can find them on iTunesU. I've also built a link here into the Great Bosses site. All you need to do is click on these highlighted words and you'll get there. The real thrill of now writing the book about what great bosses know is the ability to provide so many more insights, lessons, tips -- and even quizzes -- that can help leaders build great workplaces.
Great bosses understand the value of laughter in the workplace. Not humor that demeans and excludes, just good-natured fun. Since bosses are the ones who often raise the stress level in an organization -- asking people to do more with less, or cutting budgets, or rocking the boat with changes --they ought to pay special attention to keeping spirits up. Not every leader has a natural gift for unleashing laughter -- or building a culture where fun is the norm. So let me tell you about one who definitely does. His name is Jim Naughton, and he's the past president of the Poynter Institute. He's retired now, and has just written a memoir of his professional life and his love of laughter at work. It's called 46 Frogs: Tales of a Serial Prankster. Several of us at Poynter have written about Jim's many pranks and merry adventures -- and what they mean to leaders. You can see those stories on the Poynter website. I hope YOU have the opportunity to work for, laugh with -- and even become -- a leader who cares about fun at work.