Tuesday, June 28, 2011
I’ve read three articles today on communications that I would like to share with you. The first two were in the Harvard Business Review – '3 Tips for Leading People Older than You', and 'Stop Mixing Business with Pleasure', and the third was on We Are Social – 'Welcome to the Age of the Customer'.
3 Tips for Leading People Older Than You discusses the barriers that can work against you when you’ve got the title but not the legacy or experience to back it up. HBR recommends that you be confident, open minded and solicit regular feedback. With that they recommend that you don’t ask for the direction you’re meant to be going in, but instead take initiative and throw out ideas you believe are right. You don’t want to sell yourself short, or make it seem that you don’t have the knowledge or capability to lead. Balancing this can be tough. Just as making demands and setting schedules of older coworkers can be. The key is to always be respectful and stay in your role – because at the end of the day, age is really not the issue.
Stop Mixing Business with Pleasure focuses on the age old problem of not being able to separate your professional relationship with someone from your personal one. This can come in many different forms. HBR use the example of a woman in ad sales who has become friends with some of her clients. While her winning personality actually makes her better at what she does, invoice payments often come in late - amongst other things. Emails are difficult in these instances because we need something from the client but sign it off in a friendly way, to avoid sounding too corporate or distant. HBR recommends sending two separate emails in these instances. The first being the friendly one, warning the recipient that a second, work related email is on its way.
Another example of this is when a person becomes friends with their boss. If their boss is organised and professionally demanding and the employee is understanding and responsible, this relationship shouldn’t be a problem. But when the boss is disorganised, it can often fall on the employee to have to ask for things including payments and project updates. This can be awkward for two reasons. Firstly because asking for things from your boss repeatedly is trying, and secondly because a person can start feeling taken advantage of.
The Age of the Consumer discusses how a digital marketplace creates greater competition for brands. Customers are now much more knowledge about price points, product features and competitors. As a result, they hold the cards. The only way that brands can really differentiate themselves and win a stake in their industry’s share of the marketplace is by getting to know their customers through communication and engagement.
Whether dealing with a co-worker, breaking down barriers with a client or boss, or winning the trust of your target market via consumer engagement, communication is key. You have to have the knowledge and share it in a helpful and respectful way. You have to show that you care and set out your expectations clearly. Communications are key for getting what you want. By stating your position confidently and asking for something reasonable in return you will have little stopping you from creating something truly amazing.