Thursday, March 14, 2013

Smartphone Dominance Requires A Smart Approach

Smartphones have become a disruptive technology in the workplace as well as in the rest of life.

And if you look at a couple of current articles on the phenomenon, both employers and employees are unhappy about the way it's all going.

Many organizations, it turns out, don't like the fact that employees use their smartphones to leak information from meetings to other employees or the outside world -- even before the meeting his over, many times.

At the same time, a growing number of employees are resisting the fact that their smartphones have become essentially a digital leash by which employers can squeeze more work out of them when they're not supposed to be working.

We believe there are ways for organizations and their employees to use smart phones to the advantage of both companies and of the people who work for them, to advance both organizational and individual objectives -- as extensions of a holistic approach to employee engagement that is plenty big enough to handle this latest challenge posed by modern technology.

Here's our advice. Call it CHRIS for short:

Collaborate: With employees scattered, perhaps some inside the building and some in the far corners of the market, smartphones can be the ideal platform for sharing and collaboration.

Harness: Smartphone use can be a way to empower employees to contribute more easily to content and thought leadership that moves great organizations forward.

Research: PDAs can be effective instruments for conducting market intelligence and researching competitors. Some of the same stealth skills that management so dislikes when employees are Tweeting during meetings can benefit the corporate cause if they're used in the field.

Innovate: Because mobile platforms have risen to the top of the pecking order for every kind of computing application these days, they are the locus of innovation inside companies when it comes to sharing, learning and gamification.

Share: Widespread employee use of smartphones and, now, tablets -- about one-third of full-time workers own them, according to Pew Research -- powerfully enables them to share and hash over fresh ideas with their peers.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Here Are 4 Ways Not To Motivate Your People

One of the main reasons companies latch on to our philosophy and ideas for effective employee engagement and internal branding that boosts the overall enterprise is that leaders have relied on other things that don't work.

We ran across a piece recently on that listed four of the biggest "motivators" that can backfire, and why. Here's the gist of the list:

Money: Financial incentives may work to gain the rededication of employees for just a while, but alone they won't result in long-term engagement. "There has to be something more," the piece said -- which we at Inward Strategic Consulting would identify as a management approach based on holistic engagement of employees.

Fear: This can work for a while, the columnist said, but "you won't have their loyalty when you need it. And a terrified employee is not an innovative employee, and certainly not one willing to take risks or try out new concepts." We agree.

Competition: Setting up horse races for internal promotions, competitive sales bonuses and other reasons for employees to eye one another as rivals are another prod that can work OK in the short run but not so well over the long term. "Wouldn't you rather have them working together than against each other?" the piece asks. We would add that gaining true engagement of employees in the mutually beneficial goals of the enterprise will yield more true gains than trying to establish tension-filled pockets of competition everywhere.

Praise: Perhaps surprisingly, this column raised questions about the use of praise as a motivational tool. But only "generalized praise"; using it "will just make your good opinion seem cheap." Instead, "Give people specific praise when they've done something specific to deserve it." That way it actually means something, and it actually can help motivate people individuals to contribute even more to the greater enterprise.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

We See Both Sides of Work-At-Home Debate

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer probably knew she would be setting off a huge debate within her company when she essentially banned working from home.

But her move also ignited a global controversy about whether this would be a good move for any leader in a day when telecommuting has become established as a regular practice by thousands of companies in a variety of industries, not just in the digital world.

In fact, hard on the heels of Mayer's move at Yahoo, Best Buy made a similar decision to cut back on telecommuting for corporate employees in the Twin Cities. And surely many more companies might be re-examining this issue.

We can't quite agree on the merits of Mayer's move within Inward Strategic Consulting. What do you think? Comment on this blog post and let us know.

Some of us believe that Mayer's decision was the right thing to do, in order to build unity and a common vision of work. The only way for Mayer truly to fix Yahoo is to build a unified culture, which that company has lost over the years.

And rebuilding such a culture requires people interacting -- mixing and mingling and cooperating in the physical, real world, not just virtually.

Or is Mayer's move just a way for her to get rid of dead weight? We doubt she's that mischievous. Instead, she's a technology-oriented leader with a pressing agenda; it's incumbent upon her to improve things at Yahoo, fast; and no one is disputing the fact that a lot of Yahooians simply were playing hooky much of the day at home.

On the other hand, others at Inward, such as Yash Chitre, vice president, believes that Mayer made a mistake in bucking the trend in a world that is moving very rapidly into virtual collaboration. He cited the reaction of Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, who said:

"If you provide the right technology to keep in touch, maintain regular communication, and get the right balance between remote and office working, people will be motivated to work responsibly, quickly and with high quality."

Yash believes that Mayer has compounded her error in the last couple of weeks by not responding to the broader discussion she has prompted, both within Yahoo and way beyond. Apparently she's hoping the whole thing soon will blow over.

"I have no issues with change," Yash says, "but just explain the why!"

What do you think?