Is your organization communicating?

This topic came up in conversations I had recently with leaders of national and statewide organizations. The question of interest to them was “How do we improve our communication?”

A question often asked. One that seldom gets good answers. Typically, organizations are using communication methods that aren’t actually communicating.

So what is communication?

Communication is a two-way process.

It involves both sending and receiving messages. Most organizations are only sending messages. They are not listening. They are not encouraging responses to their messages. Is it any wonder their so-called “communications” fail?

As a former employee communication manager for Dow Chemical, I know that most employees do not pay much attention to top-down messages.

A good example showing the truth of my statement involved a large bank with 40,000 employees at 1,200 locations.The company did a research project in which they stopped all employee communication for eight weeks. They then counted the number of calls and notes from employees asking why their favorite magazines, newsletters or video news program hadn’t appeared.

Only four employees asked about the missing video news program, whose annual budget was $1.5 million. Six publications had a total of 49 inquiries. The job postings bulletin was missed most – but only five percent of employees asked where it was.

Failure to communicate also is rampant among:

  • Supervisors and their employees
  • Couples
  • Parents and children

It’s because there is little listening taking place. Listening is the missing part of most communication – and the main reason communication fails.

How can you improve your organizational communication?

  1.  Make communication two-way. Encourage responses to your messages. In organizations, this means getting creative.
  2. Then listen carefully to the responses you get. Show that you care by using the responses to make positive changes.

Get help to get more productive in your business

I have become massively more productive lately. How?

I hired two college interns. They are working without pay for about 10 hours each week. Here are some of the achievements we have accomplished together. Actually, I just assign tasks. They achieve the results.

Kristen Kaweck Kristen Kaweck

1. Expanded social media marketing to increase visits to my website. Visits this month are up 130% over last month, the best month ever – and there is still one week to go.

2. Created an updated logo for the business. Very impressive visual to illustrate the company name: Face to Face Matters. Who would have thought that two Fs facing each other would make a numeral 2?

 Face to Face Matters logo

Carolyn McLeanCarolyn McLean

1. Did a makeover for the look of the company using the new logo.

2. Is redesigning the look of my F2F website

3. Is building a new website for GetJackedUPonLife.com.

describe the image

 

 

 

 

Why do interns work for nothing?

It’s a win-win. You get help. They get work experience for their resumes. Also, they can get college credits for their work.

I find it especially valuable to interact with students.

They bring a fresh viewpoint when we discuss what I want to accomplish. I have been impressed with the speed at which they accomplish their tasks. It is exhilarating and fast paced to achieve business results together.

How do you find interns?

Contact your local college or university.

What they appreciate about working with me

  • We discuss goals and tactics for projects.
  • We set priorities for work tasks together.
  • They set their own schedules.
  • No micro-managing. I give them complete autonomy to do their work.
  • We use technology to hold meetings and share documents on Skype.

Here’s what Kristen and Carolyn say about interning at Face to Face Matters:

Kristen:

“Jack Pyle provides the freedom to let you explore your true talents, as well as the direction to stay focused on a specific task. Stepping out of your comfort zone and becoming a leader is what being a Face to Face intern is all about.”

Carolyn:

“Being an intern at Face to Face Matters gives me real world experience in promotions, advertising and social media marketing that I can use in my future career. Jack Pyle is a wonderful mentor and has given me valuable insights into the business world.”

Three tips to immediately increase website visits

Check out the original blog post here.
Kristen KaweckI invited a new staff member Kristen Kaweck, to be a guest blogger this week.

As our new social media marketing manager, she has had incredible success attracting visitors to my website.

Kristen told me last week to watch for a big increase in visitors. In the next three days there were 183 visits, compared to 400 for the entire month of April, our previous biggest month.

So far this month we have 411 visits already, and the month is not yet half over.

I asked Kristen to share her tips for improving website traffic.

Here they are:

1.    Start blogging

If you don’t blog at least twice a week, it is not enough. Blog about anything related to your general blog theme. Blog any place and any time. The best thing about blogs is they don’t always have to be business-like. They can be short, fun and sweet, and even contain mostly pictures if you want.  You can lose your audience attention very quickly in a blog post, so keep it short and friendly. Download apps that Blogger and WordPress.com provide for your smartphone so you can blog on the go.

2.    Blog on multiple sites

Once you have written your blog post, copy and paste the blog on other sites. Jack Pyle’s Face-to-Face Matters blog also can be read at Blogger.com, WordPress.com and Livejournal.com. All you have to do is copy and paste.

  • Blog tip: Before you begin blogging (or even if you have already started) make a list of 10 keywords and tag phrases that you think describe your blog the best. Use three keywords for each post. This will help you with search engine optimization (SEO), which allows your blog to be easier to find online.

3. Promote each new blog post

Copy your blog link and distribute it to recognized social media sites around the globe.  Be sure to include Facebook, Twitter, Google +, LinkedIn, Delicious, Digg, Stumbleupon, Blogcatalog, Technorati and Tumblr.
The key is creating something and distributing it regularly.

If you want to take your social media footprint to the next step, start making videos. Many in your audience are more likely to watch a short video than read what you want to say..

Make Mother’s Day extra special this year

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Who is more special than a mom to most people?

On Mother’s Day, the best thing you can give your mother is your thoughts. Write her a message telling her how much you value her for all she have given you.

Euna PyleJack and Euna PyleMy mother, Euna Pyle, was born Oct. 23, 1919, in Hollywood, MO. She died in my home on Aug. 17, 2006, in Mason, MI

Mom treasured me and made me a focal point in her life. Being an only child probably made it a lot easier to do than if there were other children to spoil, too. Mom was extravagant in her love. She never seemed to hold back.

I expressed my feelings for Mom in a Mother’s Day letter May 9, 1990. She framed it and hung it in her living room. Here’s what I said to her in my letter:

Dear Mom,

I’ve been thinking about you a lot with Mother’s Day approaching. You’ve always been very special to me. When I was young, you were the person I went to if I had troubles. You always knew how to ease the hurts, both the physical pains and the emotional troubles.

The love you gave is still there in a special place in my heart reserved only for you. There really is no way to express in words how much I value your love for me. You always made me feel like I was unique and wonderful. That gave me the confidence to learn and grow and become the optimistic, successful person I am today. A mother’s love means everything to a growing boy.

It still does. I appreciate the way you still think of me. Doing little things to show me you still care. Making me cookies. Pinching my butt. Hugging me. Calling me on the phone. Driving to see me. Showing me off to your friends.

You taught me a lot. You are a wise person, wise in the ways of the world. And you shared your wisdom with me, teaching me great truths about how to live my life. Caring about others. Being truthful. Not getting too upset when things don’t go my way. Having confidence that the best will happen eventually. Bluffing at poker. The value of friendships. You taught me to bake a pie, win a poker hand, sew a design or a button, wash dishes. But mostly, you taught me to be a good person, like you.

I’ll be thinking about you on Mother’s Day, Mom, because you are the greatest. I don’t know how anyone could have as good a mother as you, and I’m lucky that I’m the one who calls you Mom. I love you dearly because of all the love you’ve given me.

 

I hope you will tell your mother in writing how you feel about her on Mother’s Day. Share your comments below about how she responds.

Shyness vs. your leadership communication effectiveness

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Check out the original blog post here.

 

                                                                                                                                         shy vs. leadership communication

You say you’re shy? So am I!

But shyness need not stop your leadership communication effectiveness when meeting strangers. (Shyness is probably the child inside coming out.)

People who know me do not believe it when I tell them that I am naturally shy. I have learned over the years to hide my shyness and behave in an extroverted manner. But I am especially shy and uncomfortable meeting strangers at a big networking meeting.

It is normal to experience anxiety at a meeting with strangers.

In fact, research shows 75-90 percent of people are uncomfortable at an event where they don’t know a lot of people.

Since relationship building is one of the best marketing strategies, it is essential to overcome the uncomfortable nature of networking. The contacts you make at meetings where you don’t know people can lead to relationships that will significantly help you and your organization meet its goals.

There are a number of things you can do to make meetings less stressful.

  • First, take action to reduce stress in advance. It’s all a matter of being prepared.
  • Second, know what to do to get the best results while attending the meeting.
  • After the meeting, follow-up and build relationships with key people you met.

Before the meeting

Remember the Scout motto: “Be prepared.”

  • Set a goal: Perhaps to meet two new people to bulid relationships with for specific reasons
  • Take business cards and 3×5 cards for note taking
  • Figure out what to say to start conversations

At the meeting

  • Look for someone you know. Maybe they will introduce you to others
  • Be aware of your body language. Smile and give others good eye contact
  • Don’t start selling your wares. The purpose of networking is to start the relationship-building process

After the meeting

Be sure to follow-up with those you want to have ongoing relationships with.

 

Click this button to get a two-page handout of detailed suggestions for taking action to make your next networking meeting your best ever!

  Get more networking info

 

 

Improve leadership communication with these two ideas

Check out the original blog post here.

 

Reinforcement of a couple of good leadership communication practices comes from the federal government, of all places.

When employees ranked leaders in a survey from Best Places to Work in the Federal Government , their dismal score was 54.9 out of 100. Two agencies that ranked high or improved their score significantly were the Federal Deposit and Insurance Corporation and the U.S. Mint.

How did they make the high ranking or improvement score? And what can you do, too?

Improve communication with employees.

Face-to-face meetings are important

The federal agencies used face-to-face visits, individually or in town hall meetings, and conference calls to out-of-town offices. This is important because it makes communication two-way. Employees can express their ideas about policies and decisions that affect them.

Two-way communication is an essential leadership communication policy. Top down (one-way) isn’t even communication, actually. It is sending messages, quite a different matter from communication, which involves feedback (two-way).

To improve your leadership communication: Create more face-to-face meetings. Many surveys show employees want information face-to-face.

  1. Meet one-to-one with your staff and team leaders
  2. Have meetings with small groups
  3. Explain decisions and changes and seek feedback
  4. Even better, ask for input before decisions are made as frequently as possible
  5. Find out the burning issues of your team
  6. Ask questions and listen

The agencies improved leadership by giving up power.

How to do that: allow employees to make decisions on their jobs. According to a Massachusetts Institute of Technology study, autonomy is the biggest motivator for employees. Give people the freedom to do their jobs. Give them the power to make decisions. Shared decision-making leads to quicker reactions with customers, which customers value highly.

Another big motivator is to allow people to improve their jobs. AT FDIC leaders were were asked to eliminate 3-5 low-value activities to focus on those of high value. I remember a president at Dow USA who asked all employees to do this more than 30 years ago.

An example involves reports. Often people are asked to do reports for a very good reason. Later the reports may no longer be needed, but the word doesn’t get out. A good way to find out if a report is still needed is to do the report and not distribute it. If no one notices it is missing, it is no longer needed. Stop doing it.

Think about how you eliminate low-value tasks in your job.

 

Zip-it to improve your leadership communication skills

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Trust is at an all-time low in America organizations. It’s no wonder when you consider how little respect employees get from above. When I visit organizations, staff members tell me about problems. More interestingly, they tell me their innovative ideas to fix the problems. “What a great idea,” I say. “Have you shared your thoughts with your boss?”

 Their response typically is: “Oh, he never listens to me.” Or: “Yes, but she hasn’t done anything about it; she never does.” When that happens a few times, people stop sharing their ideas to improve the organization.

The most successful organizations make sure people listen…to employees, to customers, to outside opinion leaders, to critics. Listening builds trust and respect. Listening solves problems.

But listening is not easy

You’ve had a lifetime of not listening well. And you are just like most of the rest of the world.

 It is no wonder we aren’t better listeners:

  • It is not taught in school.
  • We learned not to listen from our parents and teachers who didn’t listen to us. We have no role models we can emulate.
  • The most typical responses we get when we are frustrated, hurt or angry are non-acceptance. Others tell us we shouldn’t feel that way because it really is not that important. (This response tells us our feelings have no validity to the other person.)

 Here is one way to remember to be a good listener.

Listening is a leadership communication skillCreate an imaginary new tool for your leadership communication toolbox.

It is a piece of cloth about six-inches long and one-inch wide. A zipper goes down the middle, but it doesn’t open. On the back is an adhesive that allows you to stick it on other surfaces. Where do you think you should put it?

That’s right. Across your lips. I call this the ZIP-IT tool.

This passive listening tip works wonders when you remember to use it.

But to be even more effective when listening, occasionally feed back a very brief summary of what you heard – paraphrase. Or simply repeat the last word or two someone says. He or she will usually keep right on talking. Keep paraphrasing until the person has told you everything they want to say. Listening is like peeling an onion, which gets you to the root of the problem.

Do not change the subject or take over the conversation

 

It is natural when talking with others to want to tell them what you are thinking. Most of us are much more interested in what we have to say than what someone else is saying. While listening, our brains are constantly thinking of images, sounds and feelings related to what we have heard. Our brains race along at about 4-5 times the speed of the words we are hearing. It is hard to pay attention.

I have been very fortunate in life because I learned active non-judgmental listening when my first child was a year old. That was 42 years ago – and I kept working to get better at it over the years. I wanted to be a better father than mine. I wanted to build a relationship with my son, which I didn’t enjoy with my dad. (I had to wait till I was grown before my dad and I learned to love each other and share our feelings.)

The magic of listening

When I teach managers and leaders listening skills, magic starts to happen.

  • An insurance company manager said he had had the longest conversation ever with his teen-age daughter. They talked for over an hour after she told him he wasn’t listening and he remembered his training. He was overjoyed and so was she.
  • A school superintendent told me that phones in principals’ offices were ringing less often after his staff had begun to listen before jumping into problem solving.
  • Managers say problems between different parts of the organization get solved. People begin to understand the viewpoints and needs of others.

Make listening a daily goal until it becomes a habit. Teach others to do it. You will reap many benefits. And people will love you for it. You will begin to build trust!

 

Mediation is a key leadership communication skill

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Mediation is a powerful leadership communication tool to smooth the way through disagreements.

Learning to successfully respond to conflict helps a leader learn that conflict can be very good for an organization. For instance, conflict can:

  • Help to measure unrest in a group of employees
  • Point out blind spots in programs, activities or policies
  • Measure the level of interest in topics or issues

A leader who recognizes these problems and becomes a mediator to help others work through their issues becomes a valuable asset to the organization.

It is important to understand some key ideas about conflict. A study of conflict by the Harvard Negotiating Project made some meaningful observations:

  • Conflict is a natural process, part of the nature of all relationships
  • Conflict can be managed through effective communications

Most problems begin as specks on the horizon, and leaders should not ignore them.

By taking action early, the small problem doesn’t become a big issue, or grow to a crisis. Take action using mediation to keep conflict from becoming an overwhelming problem.

Mediation is very effective. Even kids can do it. A peer mediation program in an elementary school in Lansing, Michigan, decreased the number of school fights from five per week to five per year.

 

Make mediation a part of your business plan. Click below to learn 7 tips on how to mediate and find sources for mediation training at community-based Conflict Resolution Centers.

Download our whitepaper 

 

Leadership communication: Do you share your values?

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vision

        Photo by Jack Pyle

I wrote my business vision and values when I created my first business plan more than 20 years ago. Then I forgot about it. Though I didn’t think about it, I lived it.

Looking at the vision and values recently, I realized the importance ofsharing it with others.

As a leader, do you know what your values are? Do you share them? Do you ask your team members what their values are? It would be a great discussion at team meetings occasionally.

Share your experiences about your values in the comment section below. Let’s have some dialogue!

My vision

I inspire people to create lives they love in their work, family and community.

My values

Dependability

I deliver what I promise.

Excellence

I provide high quality service and products.

Satisfaction

I exceed client expectations.

Balance

Life is more than work.

Honesty

I value it in me and others.

Laughter

Work and learning is fun.

Collaboration

I create long-term relationships.

Independence

I earn enough for a comfortable lifestyle, allowing me the freedom to serve others.

1,100 % increase in website visits with social media marketing

Check out original blog post here.

Social media marketing is not all that difficult

You can use social media as part of your leadership communication strategy. Here are a few tips to get you started.

I began by learning to get my blog posts noticed using social media marketing. And what I’ve learned has increased website visits 1,100% from 25 in October to 375 in February, as you can see in this chart:

 website visitsHere are some tips to give your organization a higher profile online:

Blog at least twice a week

  1. Everyone has information to share. Share your knowledge wealth!
  2. Make each blog post only about 300-500 words. If you have more to say than that, make it two or three posts or more, as I did with four posts on meeting effectiveness. To see them, click on “better meetings” in the right column.
  3. Make your post easy to read. You do that by using bullet points; 1, 2, 3′s; or A.B.C’s to make ideas stand out and be remembered. (Just like I’m doing here.)
  4. Also make posts easier to read by inserting spaces between paragraphs. (Also like I’m doing in this blog post.)
  5. Use bold headlines and colored text to highlight important points.

Promote your blog posts

Use social media to let people know you have information for them. I use a sentence or two summarizing each post (including keywords) plus the blog page URL. Use tinyurl.com to make long URLs shorter. I place my social media posts at:

  1. My company Facebook  page – Please go there and “like” me.
  2. My personal Facebook page
  3. Twitter
  4. LinkedIn

The big learning in late February was that I could inform people about my blog post on about eight different Groups that I follow on LinkedIn. The day I did that, there were 41 visits to my blog page!

I just got two interns from Michigan State University to expand my social media marketing and help with graphics and website enhancements. You might want to check into getting some help from a student in a community college or university near you.

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