Posts Tagged ‘emails’

Corporate Communication: Shoot in all Directions

by Matthew Carmen on August 29, 2011

Any company – whether it’s two people or 200,000 – must have a coherent internal communications system in place, enabling it to thrive on every level within the organization.  As with many things, it all begins with a plan. A good communications plan will include processes that allow all employees to both hear the message and be heard as well.  Succeeding with that communications plan also means the senior management team must fully comprehend and embrace the ‘message’ related to corporate policy and new strategic initiatives to all employees in a way that they will understand.

Corporate communications can take many forms: email, memos, website announcements, manager conversations and town hall meetings, and the like.

Let’s look at an example: A company needing to implement a revised strategy for growth.  The first method of communications will likely be in the form of senior management explaining the new plan to their direct reports – the VP and director-level management staff – in a management town hall-type format. Other useful first methods might be an offsite management retreat, or a memo explaining the new strategy and what the responsibilities of certain corporate functions will be. This first communication must be followed by other reinforcing communications, such as the ones that were mentioned above , if the new strategy is to become successful.

The key to a successful corporate communications plan is that all employees must: a) receive the message, b) understand the message, c) understand how the message will affect their way of doing their job, and d) know that they can communicate back up the chain of command when needed.  This last point is very important in order for a new strategy or other initiative to be successful.  Employees who are actually doing required work are closest to the actual processes involved with that work, and thus tend to know – better than those in leadership – what does and what doesn’t work well.  Therefore, a successful corporate communications program allows employees to communicate their issues and ideas up the chain of command and allow for more successful implementations or provide more timely knowledge that can change a failing program.

So whether we’re talking implementation of a broad-reaching corporate strategy, or a successful personal relationship, communications is the name of any successful game.  Either way, in order for everyone involved to be on the same page and work towards the same goals, communications needs smart planning and must go in all. Ready…aim…

Recently, I have been to many conferences where people are talking about how they have an email account that is just set up to receive garbage emails. One guess for the what are garbage emails. These are emails from marketers shoving their premier offers on you. Asking you to buy this OR that. And somehow they even get your work email and stuff starts showing up in your Work Inbox. And if you are an iPhone user like myself, you spend 5 minutes in the morning TRASHING garbage in your inbox.

What does this mean for the marketeer?

They are still using this fast dying technique to spread the word on something they want to market. They fail to realize that EMAIL has become a JOKE. And it is the user on the other end who is having the last laugh. Dumping it because there is no scarcity of such offers so there is no value they hold for him.

What does it mean for the career of the marketeer?

He is outdated and the technological advancements won’t stop. Email is DEAD. The newer web marketing is based on the foundation of TRUST with your Tribe.

So, how do we go about BUILDING Trust within our tribe.

Getting back to BASICS.

Tribes are a concept that has existed for a long time. Like as in the older times, cyber tribes are build on the people coming together, being authentic with each other and being in constant communication – which is nothing like the one way communication we see in email marketing.

A marketer who has mastered the ‘The art of building a tribe” is Lady Gaga. She doesn’t just sing and entertain.  She has connected people on an emotional level and has developed a Gaga “tribe” through a story.

Here is how to build TRUST with your tribe:

  • Tell your story: And tell it like it is. Don’t look good. Don’t even try. When you hide things, people can sense it – the disaster recipe if you wish to build TRUST. Lady Gaga is one person who is not trying to look good – she is just who she is – if she ever sat next to you on an airplane, I bet you will not be able to recognize her – she has a new wig everyday and she does a class act of being herself.
  • Build and Nurture your tribe: This does not happen overnight. It is a discourse. Be in touch with your community. Tell them about what you are doing, share your challenge. At the same time, hear their stories. Leverage social media to stay in touch. So that people can relate with you and with one another. Don’t ignore building a Tribe since you are what your Tribe says you ARE.
  • Authenticity, Authenticity, Authenticity – Please Authenticity. This word is used so loosely that it is almost shocking how it is misused. In the world of self-centered email marketing, people are craving for authenticity – for the real deal.  You can’t just make something up and expect to build a tribe. You must deliver on what you promise. Be accessible, tell who you are, what you after creating, what is the possibility you are in the world – repeatedly and consistently communicate it

Branding within a tribe requires two-way relationship. Be accessible, tell who you are, what you after creating, what is the possibility you are in the world – repeatedly and consistently communicate it. We can differ on how good an entertainer Lady Gaga is BUT her brand identity is visible by how her tribe continues to grow.

So, I invite you to become the part of your Tribe. If you have a Twitter account, you can join 99tribes by simply clicking on “add me to the tribes”… and if you don’t, create a Twitter account, join 99tribes and create your own TRIBE!

When you begin to write your book, you may be pleasantly surprised to find that you’ve already made significant progress….especially, if you’ve been active in your field for a long time.

Because you may have already written a lot of your book, the first writing step you should take is to take a fresh look at your hard drive, looking for content just begging to be included in your book!

Existing content takes many forms

To help you locate contents you already wrote, I’ve added a copy of my Existing Content Inventory Worksheet to my Active Garage Resource Page which you can download without registration.

My Existing Content Inventory Worksheet will help you keep track of content like case studies, examples, ideas, opinions, perspectives, procedures, resources, shortcuts, tips, and warnings.

Where to look for ready-to-use content

Look for existing content you can reuse for your book in files originally created for projects like:

  • Articles & newsletters
  • Blog posts & comments
  • Books, e-books, & previous book proposals
  • E-mail
  • Memos & reports
  • New business proposals
  • Presentations & speeches
  • Press releases
  • Teleseminars, webinars
  • White papers

As you review your previous client, prospect, and writing files, you may be surprised at the content richness waiting for you.

During your exploration, you might want to search your hard drive for key phrases and words that might take you directly to the content you’re looking for.

What to do after locating existing content

Once you consolidate the titles, relevance, and locations of existing content onto copies of the Existing Content Inventory Worksheet, you can address questions like:

  • What type of content is it? Is the content an idea, a process or a technique, a case study, an interesting anecdote, or a tip?
  • Where does the content belong in my book? Which chapter?
  • How much of the content is useful? Where will it appear within the chapter? Will the content be used as part of the text of your book, or is it more appropriate as a sidebar interview or tip?
  • How literally can I reuse the content? Can I simply copy and paste the content, (assuming you have copyright ownership of the content)? Or, do I need to paraphrase the content? Do I need to expand the content? Do I need to verify the accuracy of the content?
  • Do I need permissions for quotations? You may not need to obtain permission, for example, if the quote appeared in a published magazine or newspaper article. You might have to get permission, however, if you quoting an individual’s comments in a recorded teleseminar interview you hosted.

In many cases, of course, you may have originally written the content in long-forgotten articles, blog posts, or newsletters.

Of course, if you already knew, or suspected, that you were going to be write your current book, you’d- -hopefully- -have tracked the content using a mind map like the one I prepared for this blog post series (among other free resources).

Conclusion

Writing a book doesn’t have to mean a time-consuming endeavor requiring you to write every word from scratch! If you’ve been active in your field for a long time, you may have already written a lot of your book! Even better, if you used tools like mind mapping to organize your content and track your writing, you may be pleasantly surprised to find how much of your book has already been written.

Roger C. Parker helps business professionals write brand-building, thought-leadership books. He’s written over 30 books, offers writing tools at Published&Profitable, and posts writing tips each weekday. His next book is Title Tweet! 140 Bite-Sized Ideas for Article, Book, and Event Titles.

Result Orientation

by Himanshu Jhamb on November 13, 2009

resultsI was privy to an interesting exchange between two of my business associates the other day which led me to reflect upon what is it that people work for and how often they lose sight of what they are doing. The exchange went something like this:

P1: You don’t communicate clearly.

P2: Really? How come?

P1: Right now you are agreeing with what I am saying but that was not the case in your email.

P2: Yes. And what is the problem with that?

P1: You need to communicate clearly in your emails.

P2: Please understand that sometimes <whatever justification is being offered>

P1: Yeah, but it only happens in YOUR emails.

P2: Isn’t it also possible that it might be happening only to you?

Clearly, this is a typical disagreement conversation that is taking place between two people that is going downhill as quickly as a 100 tonne truck rambling down the downgrade with the brakes not working. There is obviously nothing wrong with the above conversation – It’s just that it is a Weak conversation. Weak because it is not oriented towards producing any result – it’s just a game being played between two individuals about who is right, wrong, superior etc. Notice how the conversation took a turn in the 3rd sentence – “Right now you are agreeing with what I am saying but that was not the case in your email”. Once the two folks have reached an agreement, what is left to talk about? The conversation is really over. Dissecting what was missing, incomplete or flawed in the email suddenly becomes irrelevant in the moment when it is declared “Right now you are agreeing with what I am saying”. PERIOD!

These are the conversations that take teams on a path of self destruction. It is important to understand and always bear in mind the question “For the sake of what.. are you doing… what… you are doing?” and use this question as the guiding light whenever you find your mind taking you into the dark tunnels of personal “Rights”, “Wrongs”, “Validations” and “Invalidations”. The same conversation becomes a powerful conversation had it simply gone like this:

P1: It was not clear from your email that <whatever it was that was not clear>

P2: Really? How come?

P1: That’s not really important because right now since you are agreeing with what I am saying and it seems to be sorted out…

P2: Great. I’d be open to hearing about what was unclear in the email at a later time, if you want to share.

Notice the stark difference.  The power comes from the fact that:

  1. The conversation is short and to the point.
  2. There is a mutual respect for each other and the two people seem to be “Sensitive” to creating a workable environment, even in the face of disagreement.
  3. The conversation is centered around “Producing a Result” and not on personal desires, beliefs, wants or preferences.
  4. The tone and the mood of the conversation remain positive and pleasant.

Take a moment to reflect upon the conversations you are having with others (… and also, yourself!). Are they oriented towards results or something else?

It is YOUR Job to…

by Himanshu Jhamb on October 20, 2009

bad emailsIf you have worked long enough, chances are you must’ve heard this from someone – perhaps your boss, your boss’s boss OR (heavens help you!) your colleague. If it’s the latter, welcome to the “real” corporate world!

It would still be a bit bearable if you verbally “hear” such a thing from your colleagues… imagine receiving it in an email addressed to you and copied to other colleagues! That bakes… and takes the cake, in my view. Without further ado, here’s the event that inspired me to write this post, today.

A while back, when I was working for a client, I saw an email from a colleague of mine in another department addressed to another colleague (I was CC’d on this email) which read something like this.

“I don’t know why <some complaint>. Everything is always sent at the last second. Being the way it is, I should have gotten this <some expectation or demand>. I shouldn’t have to <do something>. It is your job to inform me of this. Going forward, I expect you to <some expectation>.”

I looked at this email and just smiled. After all, it was a classic.

Clearly, the sender was triggered to respond the way s/he responded by the request that was made of him/her earlier.

Clearly, the sender was in a “Crunch” situation and the request to him/her just nudged him/her over the edge… and

Clearly, it was totally Unclear to me what the real underlying issue the sender was facing to shoot back such an email.

Don’t get me wrong, the email was fantastic as it again reminded me of What not to write in emails!

Here are 6 (of my) “Insights” from this email:

  1. Be very careful of assertions you make with the usage of totalitarian words. Why? Because it’s really hard to prove. Take, for example, the usage of “Everything” and “Always” in the statement “Everything is always sent at the last second” implies literally everything the senders have sent to this person has been last second. If that were the case, I have every bit of empathy for the person’s situation. The problem is, I don’t think this assertion can be backed by enough proof to make it a fact.
  2. Be careful of using words like “Should” or “Should Not”. They usually imply a judgment or an assessment that someone has passed just in concert with their opinion alone.  They also imply a black and white view on a situation; which closes more possibilities than it opens up. For example, “I shouldn’t have to … “ is just the person’s opinion. Maybe there are situations where it makes sense to do what s/he is saying s/he shouldn’t have to.
  3. Try not to send “Feel Good” emails. This is a tricky one. It’s tricky because you have to assess how you will feel after you hit the “Send” button. If the answer is “Really good”, then give another thought to which part of you would feel really good. Your EGO or YOU. The difference is stark.
  4. Do not be “Trigger Happy”. OK, I understand you are frustrated. Fine. Type away your email as you please. You may even consider typing it ferociously so that your keyboard clacking can be heard in the next room. But, when you are done blowing off your steam; take a minute to proof read your email before hitting the “Send” button. Most likely, you’ll hit the “delete” button if you do re-read it even once! Remember… once sent, it’s sent and chances are it will be read pretty quickly.
  5. Telling someone what their job is in this manner is not only rude but also derogatory. Would you like to receive such an email from your colleague? If the answer is NO (I am betting on it!), why write this to someone else? Not only is it rude but it will only get you the opposite result of what you intended. Guaranteed. Besides, would you want to cooperate with this person once you read this email? Hell, no!
  6. Check your “TO” and “CC” list. If there is anyone on it except the person you are addressing this kind of an email to, you just made the matters worse! You not only made disparaging remarks to them directly, you did so PUBLICLY. Regardless of how convinced you may be that this is a good thing, it’s not. Because it does not give out a message of your authority (yeah! The one that you assume you have on others), the only message it gives out is how badly you need to go to email school.

FINALLY, if you really, absolutely and without fail have something to say to somebody that is on the lines of “It is your job to… “Please do yourself a favor – DON’T write an email! Instead, you might consider picking up the phone, calling the person directly and starting with “I really think we need to work on this together and here is how we can coordinate effectively… “.

The Blinding Task Orientation

by Himanshu Jhamb on October 12, 2009

Task OrientationThere are countless instances in my life when I have wondered why my hard work has not paid off the way I had expected it to ‘coz I had heard so many times (from so many people) that it really pays to work hard. Evidently, I was missing something. My quest for solving this mystery led me to investing in my education (after a drought of almost a decade), finally, and I learnt why hard work, by itself, is not enough to get the results that we are after.

I realized that the way I was working was self-defeating in itself. Yes, I was working long hours (very long hours), I was tired, sweating-it-out and simply slogging it out. I was doing what I was told and I worked really hard to finish it in time and when I was done with that one thing, I went to the next task. What totally escaped me was that in “task-orientation” i.e. my single-mindedness of completing the task; I was simply blind to the overall purpose of what I was doing and in the process, did not end up producing much although it felt like I had moved a mountain (or two!).

If you can identify with this feeling… keep reading…

As an example of what “Task Orientation” looks like (or shows up as) in real life, a recent event comes to mind. I was working with a team member on a project where we were figuring out a piece of software on how we can make it work for using it to deliver some audio/video content. My astute colleague figured it out pretty quickly and I requested him to send out an email with detailed instructions on how to use the software to the rest of the team so that everyone can start utilizing it to do their work more effectively. My colleague sent out the email in the next 15 minutes with 3-4 brief steps and the final step (which was where the meat was) was garbled (perhaps a result of a shoddy cut/paste attempt). 3 out of 4 team members responded for clarifications and a flurry of emails followed to rectify the situation. Imagine how easy it would’ve been if my dear colleague would’ve given just a little more time to thinking of the PURPOSE of the request rather than treat it as just a “Task” that had to be taken care of quickly. The difference is admittedly, subtle, but the consequences, unfortunately, are not.

I have been culprit of many such emails in the past… (and I apologize now to all those who received those emails from me that added “Cost” to their life) and have learnt to take care by following a few simple rules to take care of my natural inclination to the “Task orientation” in my work and not get trapped in it. Here are a few of my simple rules:

  1. Know the recipients of your emails: Who are you writing to? Are they aware of the context of your email? If not, provide some background before you dive into what you have to say.
  2. Know your recipient’s proficiency in what you will be talking about in your email. So, for example, you will be writing a very different email if you are giving technical instructions to a group of developers vs. a group of managers.
  3. Make sure the links or any references you provide in your emails, WORK. Test them out yourself before sending the email out. It is “Very Costly” for the recipients to click on the links you provide in your email that do not work.
  4. Cutting & Pasting (especially software code or configuration stuff): If you are cutting/pasting anything that you want others to take “as-is”: Cut/Paste it in the email body and also cut/paste it in a simple text editor (e.g. notepad); save the file; attach it and then send the email. The attachment serves as a backup plan. It takes care of the situation in which any “hidden” or “Special” characters inadvertently find their way in your email and gives your recipient a “second-chance” to receive what you wanted to send them without them going through the trouble of sending you another email asking you to resend the cut/paste text. That’s a HUGE Cost Saving!
  5. Include your signature at the end of your emails: How many times have you received emails from others, had a question you wanted to speak to them about immediately but could not get in touch with them because all you saw at the end of the email was a “Thanks!”? Do your recipients (and yourself) a favor – Do not be that person.

Imagine the assessments you trigger at the other side of the email with your recipients in your everyday communications. Imagine how you’d show up for them in your emails  if you “took care” to write emails with these rules. You will show up as someone who really “cares” for their time and your time. On the other hand, “Task orientation” only produces lots of activity… not necessarily productive and leaves people with quite a few negative assessments about you.

The choice is yours… and so are the consequences of it!

Choose with care!