7 Essential Rules For Texting at Work

texting at work

Here’s how to “speak text” on the job

The problem is, there isn’t a lot of guidance around what, for most people, is a casual form of communication, says Jason Dorsey, chief strategy officer at the Center for Generational Kinetics. “Many employee manuals and orientations don’t cover texting at work, which makes knowing what to do or not to do all the more stressful,” he says.

So, we asked experts in workplace communications, human resources and millennial behavior to weigh in with some rules for texting at work. Here’s what they say:

Ask first. Just because you have a colleague’s mobile number doesn’t give you carte blanche to fire off a thumb-typed note, especially when it comes to your boss, Dorsey says. “Your company may have a policy or compliance issues that says texting is not allowed,” he points out. Plus, it’s entirely possible the recipient might find the communication intrusive instead of imperative.

Skip the salutations. “It’s fine to leave out formalities, best wishes, kind regards-type wording in text messages and get straight to the point,” says Matt Mickiewicz, CEO of job-search siteHired.com. If you’re not certain if the recipient will recognize your mobile number, it’s fine to start off with, “Hi, it’s so-and-so,” but that’s it.

Keep it brief.Texting is an interruption driven communications, less intrusive than calling, but more than an email correspondence,” says Praful Shah, senior vice president of strategy at cloud-based phone company RingCentral. “Only text when response time is important.”

Know when to kill it. “Texts should be used to share a key piece of information or ask a short question,” says Paul Wolfe, senior vice president of human resources at job-search site Indeed.com. They’re not meant for hashing out complicated situations or providing tons of detail.

“If it takes more than three text messages to answer your question, stop texting and call them,” Dorsey says.

Abbreviate judiciously, spell correctly. In general, you can get away with commonly used abbreviations, Dorsey says. That is, unless your boss spells everything out, in which case — sorry — you should, too. The brief nature of text messages means that truncated grammar is generally OK, but it’s still important to make sure your spelling is correct.

Reply promptly. “Since texting should be much more brief than an email, it should be easy to respond to more quickly than an email,” Wolfe says. Put it in the same category of communications as an instant message, and reply accordingly.

No emoticons. Just — no. Save that for chats with your friends or your kids, not the person who signs your paycheck. -Martha C. White

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The Power of “Thank You”

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Most managers and supervisors know that the single greatest disappointment employees suffer in the workplace is the feeling that their hard work and effort goes unnoticed.  What most managers and supervisors don’t know is that the second greatest disappointment employees have is insincere or inappropriately applied recognition!  Does it seem to you that sometimes you can’t win?!  The fact is you can all win, and here is how you do it.

First, you need to train yourself to constantly be on the look out for someone doing something right.  As managers, we typically spend way too much time dealing with hot spots or trouble issues.  Believe it or not, you have to develop the habit of seeking the good work that’s being done all around you.

Second, take time to visit with your staff when there is not a crisis or a problem to deal with.  Sometimes a quick five minute meeting just to say Hi and let everyone know that they are OK is worth its weight in gold.  If the only time you get together is when something is wrong, how excited are your people when you call a meeting or when they interact with you?  The development of non-crisis interaction time is critical to team development and positive employee moral.

Third, learn the Power Thank You.  For a simple “thank you” to become a powerful, and motivational tool for managers and supervisor’s, simply apply these four basic rules:

  • Be timely. After a few weeks the accomplishment is forgotten.
  • Be specific to something the employee accomplished, a task or goal completed.
  • Acknowledge the effort it took to complete the goal.
  • Address personally the benefits you and the company received as a direct result of this effort.

One of the first things I look for in a President or CEO is how well they know, and then acknowledge, their employees efforts and tasks. A Chief Executive who can not only recognize an employee by name but also by task and accomplishment, well…, that’s a keeper.

Consider this idea in forming a positive habit.

Sometimes we’re busy and we forget about what’s really important.  To remind us to do the right thing, I ask my executives to start their day with three pennies in their right pocket. Every time they offer someone a power thank you, they move a penny to their left.  By the end of the day, all three pennies need to be in that left pocket.”

We spend more daylight hours at our workplace than with our families and friends so it is reasonable to assume that we should do all we can to make our work environment as pleasant as possible.  The Power Thank You is one way to support this philosophy.

Sharon Jenks, CPBA, is CEO of The Jenks Group, a Solana Beach, CA based consulting firm that specializes in strategic planning and executive team development.  Sharon can be reached at sjenks@thejenksgroup.com

5 Common Phrases That Create Failure (and What to Say Instead)

Replace these common workplace expressions with more powerful alternatives and you’ll succeed much faster.

Success

Words have power. The things you say reinforce how you think, which in turn determines what you do or are willing to do. These five common phrases generate attitudes and beliefs (in yourself and others) that make failure easy and success more difficult:

1. “I’m having a bad day.”

The difference between a good day and a bad day is literally all in your head. Every day has surprises, pleasant and unpleasant. It’s how you handle them that’s essential. When you’re in a resourceful mental state, you handle crises and opportunities alike with grace and aplomb. If you’re in a less-than-resourceful mental state, you flub even the easiest of challenges. Characterizing the problem as the “day” creates failure because 1) it absolves you from managing your emotions, and 2) it pretty much guarantees that the rest of your day will continue to be “bad.” What to say instead:“I’m not at my best right now, but I’m working to get there.”

2. “If I’m lucky, then…”

Serendipity–where seemingly random events create amazing opportunities–does indeed happen and so do unexpected disasters. Attributing either to luck or fate, though, makes your eventual success harder to achieve. What is, is. What happens, happens. Every result has multiple real-world causes. While you may not be able to perceive all causes or anticipate all results, there’s no flying spaghetti monster that’s sprinkling luck-dust over here but not over there. Believing in “luck” creates failure because: 1) it provides an easy way to shirk responsibility for your failures, and 2) it encourages you to rely upon the supernatural rather than take the actions necessary to become more successful. What to say instead: “What else can I do today to achieve my goal?”

3. “I’m stressed out.”

The term stress originated in physics, where it defines “the average force per unit area that some particle of a body exerts on an adjacent particle.” Too much stress, for example, is why a bridge collapses. Human beings, however, aren’t bridges. What happens to them is not at all like an impersonal force applied to an inanimate object. Human beings can grow and change and adapt to new circumstances. When you say, “I’m stressed out,” you’re identifying yourself as a powerless object upon which outside forces are acting. That attitude creates helplessness and hence failure. You end up “coping” rather than taking positive action. What to say instead: “I’m taking a breather before I take more action.”

4. “The priorities are…”

The word priority implies singularity. Multiple priorities is an oxymoron. This isn’t semantic quibbling, because if you have more than one priority you have no idea what to do first. At each moment in time, there is always something more important than everything else you could be doing. That is the priority and that’s what you should be doing–with your full attention. Having more than one priority creates failure because you end up mentally multitasking. When your attention is divided between multiple activities, you aren’t as effective as if you focused on the single action that matters most. What to say instead: “The immediate priority is…”

5. “Who’s at fault?”

There are few human behaviors less useful than finger-pointing. What’s past is past. What’s important isn’t why something happened but how to achieve a better outcome in the future. This is not to say that people shouldn’t take responsibility for their actions. Taking responsibility, though, is the exact opposite of finger-pointing. Finger-pointing creates failure because it 1) keeps you focused on the past, 2) creates unnecessary resentment, and 3) makes people more afraid to take risks. What to say instead: “Here’s what we must do differently next time…”

-Geoffrey James, Inc Magazine

The Many Benefits of Mentoring Vets Entering the Business World

Many of you know that we have an experiential program led by Navy SEALs for executives that teaches them game-changing skills they can use to grow their business. I recently met a very inspiring and passionate CEO who has a passion to help Veterans. I wanted to share his recent article in Entrepreneur Magazine in the hopes that others will also be inspired to help.

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Yehudi Gaffen CEO Gafcon

 

 

Veterans Day is once again upon us and a perfect opportunity for many of us to thank those who have made great sacrifices in the defense of the freedoms we enjoy. This sentiment is as widely shared today (most certainly here in San Diego) as at any time, and rightfully so.

But saying “thank you” is not enough. Many military personnel making the transition to civilian life find themselves in a unfamiliar world. While there are government programs in place to assist, limited resources prevent them from being as effective as they need to be to ensure every service member has a fair chance at employment. This situation is a key reason why the unemployment rate for these individuals has been consistently higher than the national average for some time.

Related: Thank You for Your Service – 4 Business Funding Programs for Veterans

There is a solution to this issue that is both effective and beneficial on multiple fronts. It’s in the hands of myself and other business leaders to become mentors to veterans who want to enter the corporate world. We, in essence, become their “sponsor,” not in financial terms, but by helping them learn the ropes. We can help them develop a solid footing to market their skill sets in “civilian speak,” make the right connections, effectively showcase their capabilities for job opportunities and even build the framework to launch their own business.

Think of it this way. None of us got to our positions without someone taking the time, care and concern to help us hone our dreams and desires into reality. The old adage is true; no one succeeds alone, but rather on the back of others. Mentoring veterans during what is a very anxious time for them is a great way to pay it back.

Beyond the altruistic intentions, I can tell you first hand that the benefits are multi-faceted and of direct value to any company. Since the summer, I have been mentoring a young, highly decorated U.S. Navy SEAL as he starts up his own consulting firm. Brandon Andrews’ intent is to create a business-centric service operation that assists a wide range of organizations in completing projects on time, within budget and beyond expectations.

I saw the passion in his eyes from the first day we met and provided him with a desk in our office, to offer the support he needed as he developed his business plan. I thought I could guide him through that process, helping him avoid the same pitfalls I encountered and get him off on the right foot. There’s no compensation in it for me. I just wanted to help a deserving service member who demonstrated unparalleled discipline, drive and determination that was worthy of support. I also thought if he could make this a growing company, he could hire other vets and be a conduit for other military personnel in transition.

Related: 75 Franchises Helping Pay Back Veterans

What I didn’t expect was the positive influence this young person is having on our company. We’ve had Brandon at various department meetings to examine our internal communications processes and organizational behavior. What he’s been able to do — and quickly — is identify ways in which we can streamline task assignments and project management to build a more effective and efficient work force. These things come naturally to someone with a strong military background. He lived in a world where authority is delegated to those trained to multi-task, while keeping everyone in the loop and efforts focused on the mission at hand. He’s made us a better team in short order.

Before another Veterans Day passes, I challenge my CEO colleagues to take up the cause and mentor at least one transitioning veteran a year. Imagine the positive economic and social impact we can generate for ourselves and our fellow citizens. I promise you, it will be time very well spent.

Related: Veterans Tackle the Challenges of Entrepreneurship

How To Make Deathly Dull Meetings Fun Again

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I’ve written before about why most meeting suck and how to make them work better, but just because a meeting is efficient doesn’t mean it’s engaging or fun.

Wait, a fun meeting? Is that a real thing?

Certainly it is — if you put some thought into it.

While the top priority of any meeting isn’t to have fun, it isn’t to bore the shoes off your participants, either. Try incorporating one or more of these tips to enjoy a more engaged, productive atmosphere in your next meeting:

  1. Start on a positive note. Studies have shown that the way you start sets the tone for the entire meeting. Try starting out by having everyone in attendance tell one recent accomplishment they’re proud of; have everyone nominate someone in the group for praise; or share a tip on working better/faster/etc. Give each person 30 to 60 seconds max to keep things moving.
  2. Observe a moment of silence. It seems like the purpose of a meeting is to talk, right? Wrong. The purpose of a meeting is to arrive at ideas or solutions — and most people can’t talk and think at the same time. Whenever a new topic or question is presented to the group, try instituting a minute or two of silence for everyone to think before throwing out ideas. It may improve the quality of ideas you get.
  3. Incentivize participation. Sure, it will seem a little like primary school at first, but giving people an incentive to participate in meetings — a gold star, say, or a mini candy bar — can actually work really well. We like rewards and to be recognized for our contributions. Figure out what will motivate your team to bring their A-game to every meeting. When someone racks up 10 gold stars can they trade them in for an extra hour of paid vacation? Or could you have an ideas leaderboard in the office for those who regularly contribute the most?
  4. Take regular breaks. When you have a lot of ground to cover, it can seem important to power through, but most of us don’t have the attention span to be “on” for more than 30 minutes at a time. Schedule in a 2-minute break for every 30 minutes of the meeting, and use that time to encourage people to get up and stretch or do something creative, like a quick round of pictionary or a rock-paper-scissors tournament. Whatever you do, don’t let people just sit around and check their phones.
  5. Doodle. We’ve all been caught doodling in a boring meeting from time to time, but why not turn that creative energy toward the problem at hand? Pass out paper, pens, pencils, crayons — whatever will get the creativity flowing — and encourage doodling. You might storyboard a problem together as a group or let people in on the creative powerhouse that is visual notetaking.
  6. Take away the table. A table can be a crutch for some meetings; taking it away to leave only a ring of chairs (or do away with the chairs and have a standing or walking meeting) can energize the room. It can create better conversation flow, allow people to move around more, and create the psychological sense that everyone is on an equal level.
  7. Watch the clock. OK, so you’ve probably found yourself watching the clock in a boring meeting on more than one occasion, but a great way to keep meetings on task and moving forward is to have a BIG countdown clock letting everyone know how much time is left in the meeting or before the next break. It gets people’s energy up to try to accomplish more in a set period of time, and makes sure that the meeting doesn’t drag on forever.

What are your best tips for spicing up a boring meeting? How have you kept engagement high with your meetings? Give us your best tips in the comments below.

-Bernard Marr is a globally recognized expert in strategy, performance management, analytics, KPIs and big data. He helps companies and executive teams manage, measure and improve performance.

Photo: Thomas Hawk / Flickr

Here’s Why Good Employees Quit

quit your job

Anne Fisher, contributor to CNNMoney wrote a great article, “To keep employees loyal, try asking what they want” wherein she references an interview of Aflac CEO Dan Amos quoted saying: “If you want to know what would keep someone from quitting, ask.” It sounds like common sense, but not many companies really do it”. I couldn’t agree more. Not only is it a good business decision to find out what it will take for your employees to remain loyal, it is essentially the most important factor in business sustainability.

Sure, there are many reasons why people quit, such as: employee mis-match, work/life balance, co-worker conflicts, relocation, family matters, lack of good communication, micro-managers, etc. I could go on and on but here are my top four reasons why good employees leave the workplace:

1. Poor reward system. It’s not always about having a big paycheck (although it doesn’t hurt either!). Rewarding an employee can be shown in many ways, such as corporate recognition both internally and externally (company website or press release), an additional paid mini-vacation, an opportunity to take the lead on a new project, a promotion, a donation in their name to a charity they support or the most popular form of reward, a bump in pay or an unexpected bonus. While these represent some of the ways an employer can reward workers, they don’t work without one key element; communication. What money represents to one employee may be of no concern to another. The key here is to find out what your employee’s value most and work from there.

2. Management. You know the saying: “People don’t leave companies, they leave their managers”. There is truth to this! Here’s my reasoning. When there is work to be done, its management’s duty to enforce, engage, and often times implement reward systems to keep employees satisfied and loyal. Sure, the supervisor, middle manager or team leader may implement recognition on a small scale for workers who have reached goals or helped the team in some way, but that doesn’t replace the recognition and reward employees need from upper management to stay committed.

Not everyone is skilled enough to manage processes or lead people. Just because someone is good at what they do does not mean they will be a great manager, and that’s perfectly OK! When people who are not fit to lead are put into positions of leadership it can create a catastrophic circumstance in the workplace leading to high turnover and low employee morale. So please, stop slapping “Manager” on every good worker’s name and put people in those positions only if they have the characteristics necessary to influence workers to execute the company vision and those willing to work together to get the job done.

3. Hiring/Promotions. When good workers see people who do not contribute as much as they do or they see schmoozers who do little but socialize a lot land positions they don’t deserve, it’s much like a slap in the face. Especially when those workers are busting their butts, not taking vacation, rallying the team and exceeding expectations the last thing they want to see is some Joe Schmo just waltz in and take a senior position, one they are clearly not qualified to do. You have to expect good employees will leave if you decide to hire your best friends’ cousin who has no idea what the heck they are doing, and then you have the audacity to put them in a leadership position over experienced workers. Come on! Hiring and promoting for favoritism is a major way to alienate good workers.

4. Too much work! The moment employers see employees who have good work ethic or are great in performing or rallying a team of people they begin to slap on more projects, more responsibility to those who they believe can handle it. And maybe good workers can handle more work but it becomes a problem when they begin to feel that they can’t escape from work because of the amount of responsibility and attention they receive from management. Being an excellent worker can be a blessing and a curse. It’s great for a boss to recognize employees are good, but the reward for that shouldn’t always be to pour on the workload. Since good employees tend to have a higher workload, it’s important to ensure they don’t feel overwhelmed causing them to burn out.

Ultimately the culture of an organization determines the scope of employee retention efforts which requires strategic decision making and planning. But to get good employees to stay, it’s simple; ask them what it will take. If you see someone doing great work, recognize it and reward it but don’t’ forget to find out how you can empower them to continuously deliver. –Mary V. Davids

*Photos courtesy of iStock