Wednesday, October 14, 2015

How to handle the hard conversations at work

There is a time when you are managing people that you have to sit down, look them in the eye and say something they don't want to hear.  It is the hardest part of management, knowing that what you are about to say may not be received well. Usually this is around a topic or situation that needs to be addressed and its not comfortable to address it.
So how do you overcome this and give both of you the best chance of success with whatever the issue is?
First is to make sure you have clearly defined the issue at hand.  Spend time defining the problem with as much factual data as possible.  If its all anecdote then write it down and work out the details.  When you present an issue to a person they will most likely challenge you on it in some way.  Having the data to back you up is critical to the conversation.  If statements are vague then the problem feels vague and the person will just put up walls of defense and stop listening.
Second is to understand what you want the outcome of the conversation needs to be.  Are you looking to change a specific behavior?  Is the goal bigger than that? Always tie some element of data to the ask.  That way if the person isn't clear on the "why" at least they can understand the "how."  Having a data point that both of you can reference also takes out some of the emotion of the conversation.  It's impossible to manage people without emotions, especially when there is a problem that needs to be addressed, but if there are mutually agreed upon points that both of you can reference it makes progress more likely.
Finally when reviewing the results with a person make sure to highlight the positives.  People want to be acknowledged for progress.  When talking about something that is continuing to be an issue even after having that difficult conversation you need to figure out what the real root cause of the problem is at that point.  Assuming they understood the measure that they would be help up to why didn't they achieve it?
Take all factors into consideration when trying to change a behavior of someone you manage.  Be open and watch their body language.  Go off your script if you need to, your employee will appreciate it.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


He was the first person I can remember that really fascinated me. I didn't just laugh at his jokes, I watched with amazement the energy that he had. The speed of his comedy. The layers of thought that went into some of the things he said. It was like watching a human machine gun firing bullets into the audience. How could someone think that fast?  How could they take just one thought and turn it into something so big and funny?

Before Youtube I would hope to catch even the shortest clips of his standup. We didn't have HBO so I could not watch him uncensored but I remember the late show appearances and the Comic Relief shows I would rent. I always thought that no other comedian could do stand up like that, that his talent was unique.

Later in life when he started staring in more dramatic roles I remember I had my doubts. I mean here was this guy that would run around a set screaming at 200mph about Jews or poop and doing these crazy impressions. How would anyone believe him when he calmed down and actually acted?  

I think it was The Fisher King that did it for me. The pain in his eyes in that movie, it went right into me. In retrospect, sadly he must have identified with that character more that we ever understood.

His face and voice have felt like family to me for so long now. He was such a part of every phase of my life and I feel like I will miss him even though we never actually met.

Well maybe we did meet, he gave me a little piece of him with every performance.

Goodbye Robin

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

5 Challenges that B2B Marketers face and how to overcome them

In a recent post over at the Content Marketing Institute, they summed up a study of small business B2B marketers use of content marketing in 2014.

There are a bunch of charts but I wanted to focus in one only one of them here:

bar chart-b2b marketer challenges

I will tackle the top 5 and offer up some solutions:
  1. Lack of Time - I think I can use this as the reason for any challenge I have at work.  When I hear this response I start to dive into the whole "being productive" vs "being busy" issues.  When I am being productive I can attribute a completed task to a larger project that has a direct correlation to revenue.  If I am being busy then its harder to do that, if not impossible.  So I would say you don't need more time, you need to look at what you are already doing and determine if its important enough to continue.
  2. Producing Enough Content - enough for what?  If I get one whitepaper done and it generates enough leads and revenue to hit my target then have I produced "enough" content?  I would take the approach of matching content needs to the steps of your buyers process.  I usually see this issue related to blogging (btw this is the hardest form of content marketing there is!).  If you are thinking about creating a blog with daily posts then you need to have passionate writers in your organization.  A corporate blog will die within one month without this.
  3. Producing the Kind of Content that Engages - Now we are getting somewhere.  This should be the number one challenge.  To do this you need to have a few good sources within your company that really know your customers.  Preferably even some customers themselves.  Then from their pain points you can start to develop content.  I am not saying it will be 100% effective but it will at least come from a place where you know your customer already needs something.  Learn from your mistakes but make sure you make a few.
  4. Producing a Variety of Content - I agree that the same content type could get repetitive but I want to fall back to the concept of engaging content as being the key issue.  If your audience is busy and like to download and print out whitepapers and read them over a lunch break at work then keep producing them.  Sometimes the new flashy thing isn't the answer.  Also dip your toe in the water with a new content type first before investing in it.  You may love to watch videos but that doesn't mean your audience does (or can).
  5. Lack of Budget - Sorry folks but this is a poor excuse.  If you have a Subject Matter Expert(SME) under payroll then its your job to translate that knowledge into a digital format so your customers can consume and/or interact with it.  Is your SME a crappy writer?  Then put them in front of a camera. Not comfortable on video?  Do a webinar.  Find a way to get that knowledge out there to generate leads and interest from your target audience.
What have your challenges been?  How have you overcome them or have you at all?