Tuesday, April 16, 2013

You can be a super hero !

Nowadays organizations are looking for talent to make their business grow. These talented employees are people who make the difference. Competent people with high energy, positive attitude, great communication skills, people who bring people together to deliver results, people with visions, ...

If you read this list, you might get the impression organizations need super heroes. Well, I believe you can be this super hero.

It is a matter of choice. You can choose to get up in the morning smile and say "let's go for it today !"Perhaps you'll have to start with small ideas, but once this snowball is rolling, you'll see it gives you energy and the drive to go for it every day. (imagine what happened if Mark Zuckerberg would have had the idea to build a social network, but didn't do anything with the idea...)

You don't have to be a manager or CEO to have this attitude. Anybody can do this. It is a matter of choice. (read Seth Godin - "linchpin" to see anybody can make the difference)

Be positive, believe in your own possibilities and competences, drum up people to deliver team-results, be patient with people who don't jump on the bus right away. And most of all do this every day of the week. Don't complain about all the bottlenecks and problems at work, but do something about them and take initiative.

Or with the words of Benjamin Disraeli 
Life is too short to be little

Monday, April 15, 2013

That comfy seat and the world outside ...

Oh it feels great to be in the office. Our beautiful designer desk, comfy seat, coffee at hand to stay awake all day long, a big screen computer behind which you can easily hide if anybody walks into your office, frame with a picture of your family, ... I guess you got the picture by now.

Enough reason for not leaving that oasis of comfort. The masses outside live a different life. Your agenda is fully booked, so you don't have time to be interested at the "others". Your job is to produce powerpoint presentations and excel data sheets which you present proudly to other comfort people in the office, although they are not interested because it is not their presentation.

My message to all the people who recognize themselves in this situation : GET OUT OF THE OFFICE. Get connected to the people outside their. Be interested at the company you are working for. Discover what the products you produce are and how they are produced. Walk around and talk to people. Go to the coffee machine in the cafeteria instead of using your private nespresso machine in your office. If you see a new face, talk to the person and ask him for his name and what he is doing.

Perhaps you believe you don't have time to do this, but believe me, once you start doing this, you discover a whole new world and you'll be able to take better decisions.

By the way, the people outside your office talk a lot about you and your lonely life in your comfy office. They say things like ; "what is he doing", "who is that goldfish in the fish bowl?", "oh him, he is that expensive guy who doesn't know what we are doing, but boy he is good at powerpoint and excel".

Have fun and walk the day ! You don't need the guts of Indiana Jones to get out of your office and discover what's going on there. Just be interested at that world !

Do you understand me ? - 4 pitfalls for clear communication

Do you recognise the feeling that you are saying something to a colleague and for some reason it seems he understands the completee opposite. It feels like you speak a different language. 

Mis-communication causes a lot of damage. It can cause conflicts, it could make the difference between closing and loosing a new business opportunity, it could cost time, ... There are plenty of reasons why we fail at communicating clearly. Underneath you find the top three reasons I often see in organizations : 
  1. Vague vocabulary : our language provides us a wide vocabulary, unfortunately some words are more vague than others; over there (I don't find that place on any map), in a while (when ? in an hour, a week, a month, next year), a little bit, maybe, later on, perhaps, ... We should at least try to avoid this kind of language and realize we mean, but the person we are talking to might understand something completely different. 
  2. Not listening : some people have the habit to interrupt people while they are talking. They finnish sentences, or pick up your story to tell something about themselves. But bottom line ; they were not listening to you, they were just looking for an opportunity to start talking themselves. This kind of behavior is very frustrating and definitely prevents anybody from having a good conversation.
  3. Too smart : In my first job, I was communication manager at the engineering faculty of Brussels University. One day, one of our researchers wrote an article for high school students about digital image processing. I read the article and - honestly - I didn't understand anything about it, so I asked my dean (a professor in computer sciences) to translate some things for me. Unfortunately, he didn't understand it either. I went back to the researcher and asked him to translate it in normal language. He wasn't aware of his jargon, but after an hour or two, I understood everything about digital image processing. Many people who are doing a job for a long time, take too many things for granted, and have difficulties to explain it to others. Always stay aware of the fact that you are the expert. Details and small steps make your point much clearer. 
  4. Different perceptions : Perception is reality. Our perception is created by how we perceive the world around us. Culture, education, age, ... all intensify the different perceptions. Unconsciously these perceptions give a different interpretation to the things we hear. Be aware the person you are talking to might have a different perception on the facts than you do. 
There are probably many more pitfalls in our communication. Try to avoid them, check if the person you are talking to understands the same. If necessary make a minutes in written to make things clearer.