Let Your Characters Speak of Character – Elegant Communication in a Digital World

rsz_shutterstock_256162102

In 1905 Mark Twain, American writer, humorist and entrepreneur, received a small package and handwritten letter from a gentleman claiming to be a medical doctor. The package contained a snake oil — a cure-all called ‘The Elixir of Life’ — which purported to ‘cure all ailments of the human, animal, and fowl.’ 

Twain was in ill health at the time. His wife had died suddenly the previous year. Moreover meningitis and diphtheria, which the elixir proudly claimed to cure, had taken the lives of both his daughter and 19-month-old son. With these memories still very fresh, Twain communicated his deep dissatisfaction to Mr. J.H Todd - the ‘doctor’ who sent him the package. 


 

Dear Sir,

Your letter is an insoluble puzzle to me. The handwriting is good and exhibits considerable character, and there are even traces of intelligence in what you say, yet the letter and the accompanying advertisements profess to be the work of the same hand. The person who wrote the advertisements is without doubt the most ignorant person now alive on the planet; also without doubt he is an idiot, an idiot of the 33rd degree, and scion of an ancestral procession of idiots stretching back to the Missing Link. It puzzles me to make out how the same hand could have constructed your letter and your advertisements. Puzzles fret me, puzzles annoy me, puzzles exasperate me; and always, for a moment, they arouse in me an unkind state of mind toward the person who has puzzled me. A few moments from now my resentment will have faded and passed and I shall probably even be praying for you; but while there is yet time I hasten to wish that you may take a dose of your own poison by mistake, and enter swiftly into the damnation which you and all other patent medicine assassins have so remorselessly earned and do so richly deserve.

Adieu, adieu, adieu!

Mark Twain


 

In the eloquent and elegant language of his time, and with an initial lightness of touch followed by but a devastating directness that goes straight to the heart of the matter, Twain elucidates his feelings with precision and purpose. 

But how might he have expressed his same dissatisfaction in contemporary times? Would one of our modern, digital methods of appraisal have conveyed his disdain so ably? 

Perhaps he may have reviewed J.H Todd with a zero-star rating or possibly a 120-character tweet with a few choice acronyms thrown in. Would he have agonized over an emoji? Or chosen to go grammatically correct and emoji-free, rising above the hoy polloi in unadulterated prose? And would he have blocked, reported and unfriended Mr Todd, if they were ever ‘friends’ at all?

Joking aside, the strength of Twain’s letter isn’t his clever use of language but the absolute clarity with which he expresses himself. There’s no misunderstanding his message.  

In these progressive times when communicating with others, including your employees, is something to be ‘optimised’ and abbreviated, it’s vital to remain mindful that good communication practices are still at the heart of every successful business, and every business relationship – internal, external, with employees and suppliers, including snake oil vendors.

Communication has the ability to build, and destroy, a relationship very quickly. As a business owners, you can set yourself apart by developing the right communication style for your workplace.  

Thinking the small things through can be particularly helpful. How would you like social media comments to be handled? When to pick up the phone and have a real-time in-person discussion – rather than yet another email. How to hit the right note in email communication – not too formal, but not too personal either. When it’s okay to send a text message, and when a hand written thank-you card is called for – rather than virtual flowers.  

The communication methods you choose to implement now will set the tone for future business.  It’s free marketing, speaks of your own style and your business, and can leave a lasting impression. 

So choose your words carefully. Few of us will achieve the literary prowess of Mark Twain, but adopting a business style that’s meaningful, authentic and perhaps even a little elegant is generally best practice and will be remembered. Would Twain’s letter still be circulating a century later if he had replied with a ‘middle finger’ emoji?  We think not!

 

Continue reading
862 Hits
0 Comments

So Here It Is, Merry Christmas, Everybody’s Having Fun. Or Are They?

Christmas-party

With the year end-looming, the silly season is almost upon us. Soon the boundaries between work and play will start to blur with the prospect of festivity. There will be long client lunches where nobody’s quite certain who’s servicing whom, and that annual ritual, the Christmas party or ‘work do’.

Amongst all the merry making, there’s always the possibility of interesting and sometimes unexpected outcomes underneath the mistletoe. Because Christmas drinks can lead to Christmas high jinx. And without meaning to come across all Bah Humbug, we suggest it’s something you plan for.

Rewarding employees for another year of hard work is essential festive fun. As leaders, you don’t want to play Scrooge – you want to have fun alongside them. But let’s not forget that getting the balance right in all things, including festive merriment, and taking responsibility for keeping everyone safe is also your job. So before you don your party hat, wrap yourself in tinsel and get all teary over Auld Lang Syne – do some planning.


YOUR CHRISTMAS LIST – THE TOP 3 RISKS AT WORKPLACE EVENTS

Here’s a Christmas list with a difference – and it’s one to take sober account of.

1 Employees being injured;
2 Sexual harassment and bullying; and
3 Inappropriate behaviour.

It’s not a list any of your employees deserve to be on. So do your part and look out for them, and your business, by being prepared. Get the music and Chrissie Kringles worked out in advance by all means, but also set the tone for everyone on behavioural expectations, accountabilities and obligations.

 

CHRISTMAS LIST NUMBER TWO: 6 BEST PRACTICE TIPS

Here’s how to arrange a Christmas company party or event that’s memorable for all the right reasons – not the wrong ones.

1. Send an email at least one week prior, getting a few things straight:
  • The event is a ‘work function’ and conduct must be aligned with workplace policies.  If you have a drug and alcohol policy, or a sexual harassment, discrimination and bullying policy, then remind your employees to review them, be familiar with them, and take them seriously.  
  • Set clear rules and expectations around social media;
  • Make it clear that employees are individually accountable for drinking responsibly and, where appropriate, legally;
  • Direct employees to make travel arrangements for getting home safely and within the limits of the law. If the function is a significant distance away from the workplace, consider arranging a courtesy coach or cab charge vouchers.

2.
Send invitations with all the specifics - including the start and finish times.

Thinking an ‘after-party’ might be fun? Be aware that this still constitutes a work event and your obligations as the employer continue up until such time that all events comes to a close.


3.
Ensure that the quantity of alcohol available is proportionate to the food being served.

4.
Limit the possibilities for employees to consume excessive amounts of alcohol.

If there’s an “open bar” take extra precautions to ensure the responsible service of alcohol. Make your expectations clear to the bar staff.  The Fair Work Commission found, “it is contradictory and self-defeating for an employer to require compliance with its usual standards of behaviour at a function but at the same time allow the unlimited service of free alcohol.”


5.
Nominate someone to ‘supervise’ the function and address any escalating behaviour.

6.
If complaints are received, take them seriously and deal with them promptly and thoroughly. That’s best practice.


If you’ve got best practice down pat as a manager or business owner, then it should be less than a stretch for you to get it in place as a party planner too. That way, the only headache you wake up to the following day is from the grape juice, rather than nasty spillages and catastrophes.

Your tribe look to you to keep them safe - even when events take them out of the office. So don’t let them down!

 

Continue reading
1135 Hits
0 Comments

Virgin Says Get Friendly. So Let’s Get Friendly!

Virgin Airlines

Good business is not a quiet thing. It hums. Healthy banter between colleagues is a sign that your workplace has a balanced culture - of productivity, friendliness and candour. It’s a place where employees share, float ideas and contribute. And it has a natural energy all of its own – generated by motivated people working together. 

Historically, this type of banter happened in the nooks and crannies of our office spaces - between partitions, over the water coolers. But as workplace design has evolved, the engagement we now experience with our colleagues hasn’t necessarily kept up.   

Sadly, the statistics say that meaningful engagement isn’t happening as often as it should. Only a few organisations truly know how to connect employees and create great environments that balance productivity, natural energy, motivation.

Getting along and liking each other seems to have become a really tricky business. 

 

STATS OF ENGAGEMENT

Gallup research shows that only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged in their jobs. – they’re interested in working for you and they love your brand.  The other 87% are not engaged. At worst, they’re completely indifferent. Quiet, inattentive and highly likely to move to another brand that they perceive will offer them more.

Gallup tells us it’s difficult to create environments where people can connect with each other, understand your brand and engage beyond set tasks.

Although our clever-selves might intuitively know that employee engagement is what drives real business outcomes, it’s clear that even the big guns are struggling to do this well. 

 

TRICKY BUSINESS

At #HR we know that engagement is unique to every business. What may work for one may not work for another.  It’s about doing many things in the right way and at the right time.

Stay with us over the next few weeks as we roll out posts which tackle the basics – and get your people and your business really, authentically engaged.

 

LET’S BE FRIENDLY

Let’s not brush over the simple things. 

Mark Horstman, co-founder of Manager Tools and author of The Effective Manager writes about being friendly.  There is, he says, a distinction between being friendly and being friends. 

Friendly behaviour involves smiling, giving encouragement, conversing and laughing.  ‘They are things that are appreciated, respected and often admired by those who struggle to get along well and easily with others.’

Friendly behaviour is not about building a sense of obligation or favouratism.  

Friendliness requires neither agreement nor approval and is rarely offensive if it is authentic.  Best of all, most have learnt this skill well before they have met you.  So friendliness is something you need only role model, rather than teach.

‘Don’t wait for people to be friendly, show them how.’ Wise words, if anonymous. 

Horstman has a really neat set of rules for friendliness with staff:

  1. You can’t be friends with anyone you employ;
  2. You can be friendly to everyone you employ;
  3. You can’t be friendly to some without being friendly to all.  Be consistent.

Once you benchmark these behaviours and begin to use them, they build the kind of engagement that really makes your workplace stand out from the crowd. 

For those who need more convincing, it turns out that kindness is fuel for our brains.  Judith Glaser, the CEO of Benchmark Communications explains its benefits through neuroscience.  'When someone is kind and respectful to us,' she says, 'our brains produce more oxytocin and dopamine, which helps us relax, feel open to others, and be more sharing and cooperative.'

Friendliness is just one element of employee engagement. Yet it plays a big part in how well your staff get along with each other - and a pivotal role in office dynamics and productivity.

‘Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.’ So says Richard Branson. We’re with him. Let’s get friendly.  

Continue reading
615 Hits
0 Comments

When Passion Goes Quiet

rsz_shutterstock_702468775

Highly motivated employees can, if nurtured, bring an extraordinary exuberance and pep to your business.  These are the vibrant individuals who can drive ideas forward – perhaps with even as much passion and zest as you can!  

They’re the ones who love your brand and put their heart and soul into making it work. Others may have talent. These people bring something extra to the table – creativity, ideas and keenness. 

It’s a worst case scenario when one of your most passionate employees goes quiet. As Tim McClure, professional speaker and brand and leadership consultant observes, ‘Passion is contagious, and so is not having it’.   

Dealing with highly inspired, smart people can take all the emotional intelligence skills you have. And showing them how valued they are is critical.  Because the last thing you want, as a business owner, is to fail in recognising when such individuals are feeling undervalued - and disengaged.

In a changing and innovative world, retaining top potential and keeping employees engaged and fulfilled is the flame you need to keep kindled. If you find yourself faced with the challenge of silence, here are our top three tips to get your most passionate people energised once again.

 

COMMUNICATION – KEEP IT COMING! 

Great communication with your employees has to be given a red hot go pretty much all the time. The effects can be electrifying - charging workplace dynamics, building relationships and trust. Communicating openly and in detail with your team demonstrates that you understanding their input, needs and projects in their every detail and nuance. This is confidence inspiring, and it shows great capacity on your part.

Bad communication and indifference is like a power outage. Connections fail, progress stops, and everything goes dark. 

To communicate well, be candid and open – and that means listening. If one of your mission critical people or projects have gone off track, you need to know what’s going on. And the individual at the centre of it all will most certainly have insights about it. So stop, and pay attention. Create a comfortable space and time where they have the chance to talk without negative comeback. Respond but don’t interrupt. You’ll learn something, and you’ll have started to equip yourself with the knowledge you’ll need to fix things – with your employee alongside you.  

 

SWOOP IN! 

Problems can manifest overnight or in moments around the lunch table. If they gain traction, they can become contagious and even toxic. If you value your team and the individuals within it, act on discontent the moment it manifests. Those special players within the ranks will respect and thank you for banishing discontent, so that they can get back to what they love – making progress and building your brand! 

 

LEAD AND INSPIRE! 

Tim McClure talks and writes about why passionate employees lose their mojo. Often it’s down to an issue with your leadership – you’ve breached trust, you’ve been inconsistent, you’ve overlooked something or something. Be open to any changes you might need to make, or ground you might need to make up. Resolve problems decisively, and most importantly get the buy-in of that team member. The way in which you handle their grievance will determine whether they continue to love your brand - or move on to love another one.  

Passion is infectious, and it’s noisy. So when passion goes quiet and you know there’s a problem, respond! Your response as leader is what those vital employees will remember, and it’s what underpins their loyalty to you and your brand. So break any silences before they morph into something bigger. Get your collective mojos back - and it could take everything to a new level! 

Continue reading
1186 Hits
0 Comments

No More Smoke and Mirrors! Let Your Employees Be Themselves

No-More-Smoke-and-Mirrors

President Franklin D Roosevelt took great care to ensure that he was always seated at the Cabinet table before his Ministers entered the room for a meeting. Whilst everyone knew that he was in a wheelchair, he still went to some lengths to keep his disability from being at the forefront of people’s minds and their impressions of him.

Sociologist Erving Goffman described this as ‘covering’. He coined this term in 1963, to describe the measures we take to conceal certain features about ourselves, those unique identifiers we’d prefer people not to focus on. We often do this socially, he noted, but more often in the workplace.

In his book, Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity, Goffman wrote ‘It is a fact that persons who are ready to admit possession of a stigma - in many cases because it is known about or immediately apparent - may nonetheless make a great effort to keep the stigma from looming large.’

It’s an interesting insight into the world of workplace behaviours. Why do we feel the need to create a smokescreen around a certain aspect of our identity? Why do we strive to keep it out of the spotlight?

And how, when some work colleagues may still take such measures, can we claim to have truly progressive and inclusive workplaces where people can be themselves, wholly and authentically? From a policy perspective, it’s an interesting question. 

IT’S OK TO BE DIFFERENT, AS LONG AS YOU ACT THE SAME

Finding it hard to believe that anyone in a modern workplace has to conceal a part of themselves for the sake of fitting in? Here are some examples.

  • A Muslim sales manager habitually uses a dusty and deserted corner of his employer’s premises in which to pray, instead of using a conference room where co-workers might see him.

  • An account manager bites her lip and holds off from mentioning family commitments she has, including childcare pickup, because she doesn’t want to be the cause of awkward comments about flexible arrangements working in her favour at the expense of others.

  • An administrator keeps his desk free of personal pictures including any of his partner, and is mindful of personal pronouns in discussions, so as not to reveal his sexual orientation in front of co-workers.

  • An executive leaves her jacket on the back of her office chair so to obscure the fact that she’s working from home for the afternoon to care for her children.

All entirely plausible, right? So how do we make our workforces richer and more accepting places where we each feel we can answer our needs, stand out and be proud, rather than being seen to run with the herd?

We’ve all got it in us to strike out and make a difference, but in case you’re having difficulty getting off the blocks, here are three starter ideas.

 

1. LEAD BY EXAMPLE

Hard-wiring diversity and inclusion into our strategic planning is a big and brave step. Such a change has to start at the uppermost level before it can be collectively embraced. So lead by example. Taking time out to watch your kid’s athletics carnival? Be brazen about it! Put the school scarf on as you leave the office and phone the results through from the track.

You’ll make up for lost ground with higher productivity through the rest of the day. Have the same expectation of your team. Work with them on doing the right thing, and a bucketful of renewed commitment to the cause will eventuate. If it doesn’t, keep communicating and make adjustments.

 

2. BE AUTHENTIC

Authenticity isn’t just a buzz word, it’s a state of mind. Brene Brown, author and speaker, defines it as ‘a collection of choices we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real.’

To create a diverse workforce and accept co-workers for who they are requires authenticity. Those around you know when you’re being genuine, and when you’re not. So dig deep, and keep it real.

 

3. ENCOURAGE WHOLE-SELF

‘Covering’ for an aspect of ourselves takes energy that could be invested much more productively. When you change the rules and allow your employees to bring their whole self to work, big benefits follow - both for the individual and the company. That’s a great reason to foster an environment where your employees can be themselves.

 

Continue reading
1700 Hits
0 Comments
 
 

PLEASE DO NOT SUBSCRIBE!

No way do you want us bothering you
with FREE resources, updates and
other cool things from time to time.

Or do you...?

 
 

Refund Policy

Since #HR - hashtaghr.com.au is offering non-tangible irrevocable goods we do not issue refunds once the order is accomplished and the product is sent. As a customer you are responsible for understanding this upon purchasing any item at our site.

However, we realise that exceptional circumstance can take place with regard to the character of the product we supply.

Therefore, we DO honor requests for the refund on the following reasons:

Our Technical Support Team is always eager to assist you and deliver highly professional support in a timely manner. Thank you for purchasing our products.

Contact Us

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Please give it 12-24 hours for our Support Team to get back to you on the problem.

Requests for a refund are accepted to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. within the period of 2 days after the order is placed. You should accompany this request with detailed and grounded reasons why you apply for a refund. Please make sure your request does not contradict our Terms and Conditions.
A refund is issued to you upon receipt of a Waiver of Copyright signed by you.