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Category Archives: Context

Too much crazy

Today, another person I respect and adore decided to take a hiatus from social media. This is something like the third or fourth person (that I know of) in the last 6 months.

There are a lot of reasons people take time off from social media. Some want to spend more time with family. Others realize it’s keeping them from doing what they love (reading books, painting, overthrowing governments, etc.). And one very special person claims quitting Facebook it has helped him learn to move 10 lbs objects with his mind. (He’s totally lying – he’s only managed 4 lbs, and that’s being generous.)

The most common reason I’ve heard lately, however, is that there is just too much crazy.

People can’t seem to be civil anymore. The 24/7 news cycle has turned every little thing into an “event.” And many wake up in dread over what may or may not have been tweeted overnight.

They might have a point. There are numerous studies suggesting that quitting Facebook – even for just one week – has benefits. Middle school students may be particularly susceptible to issues with social media, with online bullying becoming a real danger for kids as young as 10. They’ve even come up with a new term – bullycide – for when a child takes his/her own life because of bullying. It’s heartbreaking.

I’ve contemplated taking a break. I haven’t because most of the people I know I communicate with online (#introvert). But I have cut back. And I find myself avoiding crazy as much as possible – it’s too exhausting. Not everything needs to be an argument, and not every post needs a dissenting opinion.

I think the way people are interacting online right now is a mix of opportunity and motive. Online comments lend anonymity and distance and accountability is almost nonexistent. And as for motive? There are a lot of people out there who have either felt they never had a voice and then found it, or have always had a voice and think everyone needs to hear it.

It’s unfortunate – we’re like kids who broke the expensive toy because we couldn’t respect it. Or because we played with it too much and it fell apart. I worry because I see how we interact online bleeding over into our real world interactions, and it’s getting ugly. I also worry because all the noise can block out all the good that the internet can enable.

I hope the crazy calms down. I hope those who are struggling with memories and feelings that the relentless news cycle brings are able to find peace. I hope we find a way to talk instead of yell.

I hope we keep finding funny cat videos to share online. (Thug Cat is THE BEST.)

I hope we find ways to remind each other that the world is a beautiful place and that people are worth saving.

If you need a break, take it. But please come back.

We need you.

 

 
2 Comments

Posted by on December 5, 2017 in Context, Personal Development, Self-Awareness

 

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Crowdsourcing, best practice, and the reality of work

There’s a lot of chatter out there these days about the benefits of crowdsourcing and use of best practice.

On the one hand, this is a good thing. Technology has helped us shrink the world, allowing us to connect to each other more easily. Because of this, we can learn from each other through case studies, experiences, and measured benchmarks.

On the other hand…just because we can, does it really mean we should?

The answer to this question is best illustrated by a a post on LinkedIn that I’ve been following (and commented on). The post’s subject isn’t terribly important – someone shared that they’d had a unique request from a potential applicant and wanted to know if anyone had ever had the same thing happen to them. What is fascinating to me, though, is the variety of responses and the emotional investment some respondents displayed. Some thought the request was normal, others didn’t. And some were VERY judgemental about a potential candidate having the gall to make such a request. If you do read the comments in the LinkedIn post, pay attention to the language used – it’s incredibly eye-opening. And I can’t imagine it was very helpful for the person who posted the question in the first place.

This example is not unique. You’ve all probably heard similar examples of people looking for input to figure out the best thing to do. Industries regularly publish benchmark data on all sorts of KPIs. Experts write whitepapers. Speakers deliver keynotes about their success. But for every published benchmark is a person saying benchmarks make you average. For every whitepaper on “best practice,” there’s a pundit calling you behind the times for going after those. And for every keynote talking about their personal success, there’s me saying, “I’m glad that worked…FOR YOU.” The noise of opinion is loud and contradictory.

So what is a person to do? Honestly, it kind of depends on what you’re trying to accomplish and where you are in your business.

Are you just starting out in a certain area? Benchmarks and best practices may help you set a baseline from which you measure your progress. It may also help provide a framework for you as you build out your process and dashboard. The trick is to make sure you know the limitations of benchmarks and understand what they’re actually telling you. If you don’t understand a number or what the best practice results in, ask questions or don’t use it. Simply hitting a number because it’s a “benchmark” may not get you anywhere.

Are you being challenged on the prevalence of a certain problem, or are looking for anecdotal evidence of an emerging trend that hasn’t hit research yet? Crowdsourcing within trusted groups can be a helpful approach. Just be aware that the quality of answers is only as good as the group from which you seek input. Throwing a question out on Twitter will get you a MUCH different response than asking a closed group of experts on Facebook. Yes, both methods run the risk of sarcastic responses, but honestly that’s just spice that keeps the flavor in your life.

My point is, you’re going to get potentially crappy data no matter what approach you take. The key is understanding what it is you’re trying to accomplish with this data – what works for YOU in YOUR business RIGHT NOW? If you can’t define those parameters, you probably shouldn’t even be asking the questions in the first place.

 

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Efforts vs. Results: Do employees know the difference?

I recently read an article  day that referenced an infographic featuring the following statistic:

Nearly half (49 percent) of employees in a survey revealed that they would leave their current job for a company that recognized employees for their efforts and their contributions.

Really.  Nearly HALF of all employees would leave their job.

I know I’m cynical, but that seems awfully high, especially in a volatile economy.  So I reframed that statement (because I’m in HR and I know what reframing is), and I started thinking about whether or not the average employee would define recognition-worthy effort the same way management would.  I came to the following conclusion…

I don’t think they would.

In my career, I’ve been a part of many a performance review process, helping managers and employees alike understand why we do them, how we do them, and what the different ratings mean.  And it never fails that there is a severe disconnect between what the employee sees a extra effort and what the manager would call DOING YOUR JOB.

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Here’s a quick reminder for employees about the difference:

DOING YOUR JOB:

  • Showing up on time every day
  • Completing your work by the assigned deadline and in a quality manner
  • Being a decent human being to coworkers


EXTRA EFFORT:

  • Teaching others to do their jobs better
  • Identifying a more efficient way to do a task
  • Going above and beyond for a customer

Really, it’s about the difference between EFFORT and RESULTS.  Effort is good – managers want to see effort.  It’s an indicator that employees give a damn.  But guess what – results pay the bills, which means managers are more likely to recognize employees whose efforts yield results.  As an employee, I need to be aware of what will benefit the business and ensure my work is truly “value add.”  And I also need to communicate what I’m doing to my manager to ensure I’m aligned with his/her expectations.

Managers, you’re not off the hook for this one.  If your employees feel like you don’t notice their efforts, that’s on you.  It’s your job to give clear expectations for results and to provide meaningful feedback to your employees year-round. Too often managers are afraid to have a difficult conversation, telling employees “that was a a darn good try” all year…only to rate them lower in the annual review because nothing got done.  On the other hand, things come up that are out of the employee’s control that can keep their efforts from yielding the expected results.  So be a human being and acknowledge that.

Lack of recognition by managers is a real problem in many organizations, and it CAN lead to employees wanting to leave for a better job.  I also think misconstrued ideas of what recognition should look like leads to unrealistic employee expectations.

What do you think? Are employees being greatly unappreciated? Are managers being unfairly maligned for not rewarding employees for just showing up?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

 
3 Comments

Posted by on August 18, 2014 in Clarity, Context

 

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