Posts Tagged ‘engage’

Quality #11: Driving Change Through Leadership

by Tanmay Vora on November 23, 2009

change through leadershipWelcome to the penultimate post in this 12-part series on QUALITY, titled #QUALITYtweet – 12 Ideas to Build a Quality Culture.

Here are the first ten posts, in case you would like to go back and take a look:

  1. Quality #1: Quality is a long term differentiator
  2. Quality #2: Cure Precedes Prevention
  3. Quality #3: Great People + Good Processes = Great Quality
  4. Quality #4: Simplifying Processes
  5. Quality #5: Customers are your “Quality Partners”
  6. Quality #6: Knowing what needs improvement
  7. Quality #7: Productivity and Quality
  8. Quality #8: Best Practices are Contextual
  9. Quality #9: Quality of Relationship and Communication
  10. Quality #10: Inspection can be a waste if…

#QUALITYtweet Critical question: Knowing that

people will change only if they want to, how do you

make sure they “want” to change?

Process Improvement is a “change” game and implementing change isn’t always easy. In case of process improvement, the challenge is to change habits and behaviors of your people. That makes it even more difficult.

People change, not by “force” but by their “intent”. With force, people may dispassionately comply with your processes, but for true involvement, their intent needs a direction. With this as a given, critical questions are:

  • How do you make sure that you implement change by driving intent of people?
  • How do you make sure that people are passionately involved in change?

The answer to these is “Change Leadership”. Leading a change means undertaking right initiatives, mobilizing resources, addressing soft aspects like motivation, overcoming hurdles and aligning the teams to make it happen. How can change leadership drive process improvement initiative? Here are a few pointers:

  • Accurately define what needs a change: Apply 80:20 rule to identify what needs improvement. It is easy to align people when they know that they are improving the right areas that have maximum business/operational impact.
  • Create a change time line: Humans work best when they work against a time line. We often tend to get complacent when there are no deadlines. Reasonable pressure helps us become more creative. Create a time line by when change will be implemented with a step-by-step action plan. This also creates a sense of urgency.
  • Engage people: People tend to commit themselves to things they are involved in. Involve practitioners and managers in defining the change. They are the ones who will be impacted by the change. Engage them by explaining them the larger context, vision and business need. When they know the larger picture, they can align their actions accordingly. They also need to know the “What’s in it for me?” part. How will they become more effective? How will this change help them improve their performance? They want to know this.
  • Review progress periodically: If you don’t monitor your people, you give them a reason to slow down. Have short and effective meetings (in group or one-on-one) with people involved in change. Take a stock of how things are going. Understand their problems. Help them do better. They get help and you get the broader picture. If you hit some roadblocks, you still have chance to re-align. Review early and often. This is also your opportunity to share progress and motivate people involved in improvement initiatives.
  • Lead: Give them the context and set them free. Micromanagement on tasks can kill creativity and morale. Be there to help them, but let them do it on their own. People learn the most when they try to do it themselves. They will make mistakes. Help them overcome and share the lessons learned. Set right examples for them to follow.
  • Share rewards: when you link participation with rewards, it will help you get voluntary participation from people. But after they have participated, it is only your leadership abilities that will keep them going. You will still have lot of people who will willingly participate.
  • Keep rotating teams: Once a change cycle is implemented, induct new team members in the improvement team. You maximize the opportunities for everyone to get involved in defining improvements. Broader the participation, wider the acceptance of change.

Last but not the least, people engage when they see continuity of effort. If your improvement initiative is temporary or ad-hoc, people will not engage beyond the first cycle. When people see consistent results from a process improvement group, they willingly participate.

Process improvement is a journey and not a destination. Who you travel with matters a lot. Choose the right people and get them to swing into action. Your business will thank you for that!

Tanmay VoraTanmay is a Software Quality Management professional based out of India. He hosts QAspire Blog and tweets as @tnvora. He is also an author of the book #QUALITYtweet – 140 Bite-Sized Ideas to Deliver Quality in Every Project
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Branding With or Without YouThis is in continuation to my branding series that was published from October 1 – October 8. Here is a quick recap of the earlier posts, in case you would like to go back and take a look for the sake of continuity:

  1. Branding – What’s the point?
  2. Branding – What’s your brand promise?
  3. Branding – Branding is a balancing act
  4. Branding – Consistency, Consistency, Consistency
  5. Branding – Don’t get caught in the hype
  6. Branding – Get the mix right

This post is the 7th in the branding series and is about your brand being created… with or without you!

Brands are dynamic.  Customers use our products and services. They like or dislike their experience and they say so, publicly.  This type of customer engagement directly impacts your brand.  In this way, your brand is being created with or without you.  You can’t control it.  What you can control is how you deal with it.

You’ve probably heard the saying “feedback is a gift”.  It’s also a gift that you can’t return or exchange if you don’t like it.  It’s yours to deal with whether you like it or not.  Since most brands have some sort of an online presence today, customers have a very public option when providing feedback.  They can leave their comments on your 1-800 customer feedback line or send their concerns to some anonymous email.  More likely, however, they will post their issues to a website, blog or user group.

When customers provide this type of public, direct feedback, we basically have two options:

1.  Engage – and hopefully influence the nature of the discussion

2.  Remain passive – and let the discussion continue without us

I encourage companies to engage in the discussion.  That’s the point of the internet, social media and online communities.  We have the capability to have these discussions in real time with many more customers than we could have ever have done in the past.

Yet, there are hundreds of examples where companies have had negative comments appear online about their products and they chose not to engage, or even acknowledge, the feedback.

In most cases this sort of “head in the sand” approach doesn’t work out very well for the companies involved.  They appear aloof, disconnected and uncaring.  Customers post comments on corporate blogs and social media sites, and the damage is done.  Companies then spend a ton of money and time trying to “manage their online reputation” – which usually means feeding good content into these sites in order to push the negative stuff off the first few pages of search results.

While this may work in some cases, it seems to be that it is a lot more effective, not to mention efficient, to just engage in the conversation to begin with!  Here are some ideas to help you proactively manage your brand online:

  • Pay attention:  Create Google alerts for your company name, brand names, etc.  Monitor where you brand is being mentioned and in what context.  It’s next to impossible to influence how the brand is being represented if you don’t know where you’re being mentioned.
  • Be active:  Identify the key places where your brand is being mentioned and get involved.  Participate in discussions relevant to your brand but not where you are directly mentioned.  You will get insights into the tone of the conversations and understand more how to position your brand appropriately.
  • Acknowledge feedback:  When someone posts something negative, acknowledge their issue.  Let them know you heard what they were saying.  Explain your response, but don’t try and justify your position, as you will only serve to annoy them further.

Your brand is being created. Its up to you how big a part you play in it… to make it look like the way you want it to be!

Laura Lowell PicThis article is contributed by Laura Lowell, Author of the Amazon bestseller ’42 Rules of Marketing’ and the upcoming ‘42 Rules to Build Your Brand and Your Business’. You can follow her on twitter at @42_rules.
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Securing brand equity in Recession

by Deepika Bajaj on October 26, 2009

Girl ListeningWe all understand that customer is a priced asset. And most companies have tried to listen to the customer for forging innovation. The only caveat to this is – that how we have listened to the customer in the past is irrelevant now. There is new phenomenon that is emerging with social media. Pushing out “listening to them” campaigns alone is just not going to cut it. You need to adapt to the new skills to listen actively… and in doing so, you need to give up the old ways – because only the adaptive survive in the marketplace.

It is the recession that tests your listening skills. Many companies have suffered because they were not competent in listening to their customers – e.g GM, Linen N Things, Circuit City etc.

Here are some ways you can listen

1.   Engage in a continual dialogue:   A company needs to keep engaged through company’s own Web portals, blogs and experts’ blogs.  The rising chorus of social network users (4 out 5 US adults online interacted with a social site in ‘09 – Forrester) continue to up the expectation for brands and companies with respect to presence and interaction online. The 24×7 consumer and social technologies have enabled new-media users with an ongoing interaction cycle that necessitates attention from brands.

2.   React quickly. A new study that was just released from Cone reports claimed that among new-media users, a staggering 78% of them interact with companies or brands via new media sites and tools — up from 59% the year before… and that these users are conversing with brands more often: 37% say they interact at least once a week — which is up from one in four when Cone did the study last year. There are huge quantities of information and opinion people distribute on the internet. You need to be able to collect and process this information and respond quickly to any feedback or misaligned information that could potentially hurt your brand.

3.   Cut through the clutter: Segmentation and being knowledgeable about your target customer helps you understand exactly ‘who your customer is’. Their psychographic and demographic profiles can help you determine how to listen to them. Acknowledge the importance of cutting through the clutter to reach overloaded consumers.

Securing brand equity in the recession requires companies to add resources and capital to innovation and communication. This downturn will accelerate efforts of agile and smart companies to listen to consumers’ needs to keep their brands from slipping.

DD-new-pic-headshot Contributed by Deepika Bajaj, President and Founder, Invincibelle, LLC and co-founder, ActiveGarage (the company behind 99tribes). Deepika is also the author of the book DiversityTweet: Embracing the growing diversity in our world and Pink and Grow Rich:11 Unreasonable Rules for Success You can follow Deepika on Twitter at invincibelle
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7 Kinds of Relationship to Social Media

by Rajesh Setty on August 24, 2009

Everyone does not view social media with the same lens. Different people have different stands about social media. For some people it’s a nuisance and for others it’s their life.

I have grouped the kinds of relationships people have to social media in seven categories. You may be able to identify yourself in one of them or somewhere in between. You will notice that the investment you make and the returns you get are directly influenced by the approach you take.

As you can see, only in the last two kinds of relationships can you expect reasonable ROI from social media.

So, here are the seven kinds of relationship in detail:

7kinds-socialmedia

1. Despise

You hate social media and social networking. You might even think it’s a nuisance. You think it’s artificial and you just keep thinking about the old days when people could really meet and talk. This new kind of building relationships seems so fake to you. Some of you may think that this is a fad that’s going to go away sooner than later. So why bother?

None of you in belonging to this category have any plans for participating in the social media. Some of you may question the intelligence of others who are participating in social media. Obviously, you can’t expect to see any returns from social media with this attitude.

2. Distant

You don’t hate social media but you don’t love it either. You are standing at a distance and watching all the action. You are sometimes amused, sometimes surprised and sometimes shocked with what’s happening there. When you read a success story you are encouraged to begin your journey but you stop yourself saying that you may not be ready to make that BIG commitment of time, energy and mindshare into this without being fully clear about the return on that investment.

Some of you in this category may be afraid that you might abandon the ship prematurely if you are not fully equipped before you start. Whatever be the reason to keep the distance, you can’t expect any returns from social media with this stand.

3. Dream

You are more open to participating in social media but the right time has not come in yet. You know what you will do when you finally start engaging in social media. In your mind, you have a grand plan but the time to execute has not come yet. Even here, your ROI from social media is not much for you as the marketplace rarely places a premium on people’s dreams. Dreams are important but action is even more important.

4. Deal

You are someone that had no choice but to jump into social media. Someone posted about you or your company on a blog. Someone tweeted about you or your company on Twitter. You are now forced to respond, especially if you feel the article or tweet was not backed with facts. You jump into the social media to set the record straight. This is a reactive approach rather than a proactive approach. However, you can still benefit from dealing with the situation on social media. People appreciate that there is human touch from the company. You might decide to engage proactively from now on or you might again go back to the sidelines and come back whenever there is a need.

5.  Dabble

You are definitely on the social media side of the fence. You are experimenting on various tools, techniques and tactics albeit without a clear strategy. You act as if the latest tools that surfaced were the missing piece in the puzzle. You embrace new tools with vigor but you don’t follow through with the same vigor as new tools in the marketplace continue to distract you.

While you may not get a long-term return using this approach you do see some benefit as you start making and building relationships on the web.

6. Dedicated

You are committed to participate and engage in social media. You are active on various networks, ask and answer questions and do everything to engage with community. People know you as not only competent in your domain but also as a “nice and helpful” person and probably will reciprocate back when you are in need. You are on the path to building long term relationships that matter.

This is where you start seeing serious returns from social media.

7. Dance

This is social media mastery at display. You know what it takes to “dance” in the social media. You not only help – you ensure that your help is “valuable.” You not only give away stuff but you ensure that what you are giving away is “SIGNFICANT.” Whether it is an article, eBook or a tweet, when you talk people listen and they are thankful that you are there in social media and you are accessible. You change lives via social media and make things happen.

Your returns from social media skyrocket with this stand.

If you are not engaged in social media, I urge you to start engaging with the view to “dance” someday. That’s where all the magic is.

rubber_meets_the_roadRajesh Setty is an entrepreneur, author and speaker based in Silicon Valley. He maintains another blog called Life Beyond Code and tweets as @UpbeatNow
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