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The Most Common Social Media Personalities – And How to Communicate with Them

The Most Common Social Media Personalities – And How to Communicate with ThemHaving spent any amount of time on social media, you are sure to have encountered many different personalities. People who are fairly normal functioning members of society in real life can take on entirely new personalities from behind the “mask” of their profile identity. This often leads to them interacting with in a way they would never do face-to-face.

While social media offers a great opportunity for people to open up, get real and support one another, it can sometimes allow us to be judgmental, critical and overly cruel to one another. So what are some of the common social media personalities that come out of the wood work? And what is the best way to deal with them? Here is a look at 10 common communication styles we can find on social media every day…


Nickname: The Angry Troll 

What they do: This social media personality is one we have all likely encountered. He or she is truly a “troll” in all sense of the word, scrolling through highly interactive social media accounts (like brands’ or celebrities’) and spitting out mean and offensive comments that are totally uncalled for. Likely this person would never say such things to someone’s face, but behind the mask of social media, they feel they can displace all their anger and insecurities upon someone who never invited such ridicule.

How to handle them: Use your judgement here. If the comments use profanity or are extremely offensive, report them! Otherwise, let social media karma have its way. It’s not smart to engage in an argument with an Angry Troll or you will surely become the next target. There are only “losers” in this game.


Nickname: The Pot Stirrer

What they do: This social media personality is somewhat like a troll in that they intend to create mean and unjust comments, but prefer to have someone else stoop to that level. So, they stir the pot with a snide, but craftily innocent-appearing comment that causes other people to jump on the negative bandwagon. Meanwhile, they sit back and enjoy the fire they just started.

How to handle them: Steer the comments in a new direction to stifle the effects of the pot stirring. Ask a new question or offer a positive comment that will trigger others to focus on this direction rather than the potentially negative direction of the Pot Stirrer. 


Nickname: The Inappropriate Tagger

What they do: Often this social media personality is “new to the game” and doesn’t quite grasp the social norms of how to use features like tagging. This results in awkward and embarrassing tags where you are linked to a post, photo or video of something you would never personally choose to share with your network. For example, your Great Aunt tags you (and her entire friend list) in a video of a cat dancing in a clown costume. Thanks! Just what I wanted my potential clients to associate me with.

How to handle them: You can discretely untag yourself from posts you don’t want showing up on your page. If they keep adding you to Facebook groups that you don’t want to be a part of, you can also leave the group and request to not be added back. Keep a kind heart, as this person often doesn’t realize that what they’re doing is annoying you.


Nickname: The (Not So) Private Investigator 

What they do: This social media personality is shamelessly curious about your life and not one bit discrete about it. They will spend a creepy amount of time surfing through all your photos from as far back as those college days (you knew you should have deleted those albums). But instead of silently snooping they will leave an obvious trail of breadcrumbs by “liking” random photos along the way. Bold, unaware or both?

How to handle them: Unless their comments are inappropriate, there’s not much you can do. If you’d prefer them not to be able to sift through your history, take control of your privacy settings to limit their access to your profile. But note, if they are used to having unlimited access, they will surely notice getting shut out and you may need to offer an answer why if confronted.


Nickname: The Overly Personal Acquaintance 

What they do: You likely accepted this person’s friend request because you felt bad for them or guilty because they look familiar, but you just can’t recall from where. In return, this moment of weakness forever penalizes you with a new “virtual best friend” that is the first to like and comment on anything you post, especially personal stuff. Like, dude, sharing my engagement announcement doesn’t mean you’ll be invited to the wedding.

How to handle them: Be sure to acknowledge them, because your social media relationship obviously means a lot. So long as they are supportive and positive, who doesn’t want a cheerleader? If they enjoy your social media life this much, maybe there’s a real-life budding friendship there.


Nickname: The Self-Appointed Judge 

What they do: Like the Angry Troll, this social media personality feels like they have the ultimate responsibility of passing judgement on anything posted by a brand or celebrity. Go ahead and call out your disapproval of Beyonce’s latest shoe choice. Based upon your own profile, it’s pretty obvious that jealousy and insecurity (or just plain mean-spiritedness) is the real driving force here.

How to handle them: Offer only a positive reply that doesn’t’ acknowledge the dig, but focuses on something nice and encouraging. You will never “win” a case against a social media Judge, so let it hang in the balance.


Nickname: The Self-Appointed Defender

What they do: To counter act the Self-Appointed Judge, the Self-Appointed Defender has also emerged as a common social media personality. This person quickly “comes to the rescue” of anyone who is being unfairly put down. Don’t get me wrong, this is a refreshingly good personality to have on your side! However, it can be a bit awkward when they act like they personally know the celebrity or brand they are defending on a deep (very deep) level. Now you’re wondering just how far they’ll go to see that “justice is served.”

How to handle them: Play the peacekeeper and acknowledge both sides of the Judge and the Defender. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but also thank the Defender for being positive.


Nickname: The Irrelevant Commenter

What they do: This type of social media personality just so badly wants to be a part of the party as quickly as possible, they get a little trigger happy. For example, they jump into a long stream of comments about the latest presidential debate with something like “Yeah and I mean unless we start using the metric system, we’re all screwed anyways.” (Insert “confused look” meme from all other commenters.) A for effort doesn’t even apply here, because had they taken any effort at all to read the original post or the other comments, they would surely realize how far off base they were. Way to kill a good comment flow!

How to handle them: Try and guide the conversation back to the original point through your own comment. If at all possible, connect the dots for the Irrelevant Commenter with what you think they could have meant. Kindness always wins on social media!


Nickname: The Anti-Grammarist

What they do: The United States education system has either miserably failed this person or they cleverly bypassed all English classes without learning the difference between too, to and two. This social media personality really makes you question the average education level. Most social media sites will kindly alert you to misspelled words with a red squiggly line. So they have either blatantly ignored this cue or have absolutely no idea what’s incorrect about using “defiantly” instead of “differently.”

How to handle them: There’s really never a kind and polite way to correct someone else’s grammar on social media without looking like a control freak. Use it as a lesson in refreshing your own grammar and correct the sentence with your mental red pen.


Nickname: The Silent Observer

What they do: This final social media personality is likely a close friend or relative that you talk with outside of social media on a regular basis. You’ve noticed that they never interact with any of your posts (even major life announcements) and just figure they don’t login that often (yes, these people do exist). However, whenever you see them next, they mention everything you ever posted on social media in great detail. Now you’re left wondering whether they secretly hate you on social media or if they really don’t understand that the concept is to interact with people, not just silently observe their lives.

How to handle them: This is a completely harmless social media personality. Sure it may be a pet peeve that will irk you a bit from time to time, but enjoy that they do keep up with your life and remember the important details well enough to talk about them with you the next time you are together.

What are some of the difficult social media personalities you have encountered? How have you learned to effectively communicate with them? Share your thoughts by commenting below!

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2015 in Social Media, Technology

 

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How to Professionally Fire a Client

How to Professionally Fire a ClientIn an ideal world, we would all become best friends with our clients and enjoy the work we do for them so much that we would wonder why we’re actually being paid. But in reality, some clients push us to the point of resolving that no amount of cash is enough to offset the stress and anxiety they add to our lives.

If you’re forced to make the tough decision of whether or not to cut ties with a client, it’s important to do so with professionalism and class. Even a strained client relationship has the potential to yield future leads and recommendations if you make the effort to leave with a mutual understanding.

Take a look at this list of common “problem clients” and how you can professionally approach each with a breakup line better than “Let’s see other people.”


The offense: Late (or nonexistent) payments

Everyone has a rare moment or two when a payment gets lost in the shuffle or maybe a particularly hectic month that causes you to make a late payment. But for this type of client, it happens all the time! It’s like they pay no attention nor do they care about your payment policy (i.e. net 30 days), yet they still want all their services delivered on time.

What you wish you could say: “I’m wasting way too much time pleading for your payments and acting like I actually believe your endless excuses.”

What you should say: “I enjoy working with you, but you are consistently late with making payments while I continue to meet your project deadlines. Out of respect for my time and for my other clients, I can no longer accommodate this relationship.”

Words of wisdom: After poking and prodding this type of client with reminders about making their payment, you might finally receive a check (sometimes with a nice “forgive me” note) and be tempted to continue the cycle with just “one more chance.” Just keep in mind that this relationship will continue to add stress to your day and steal time from your other clients. If you do feel compelled to stick with them, suggest that they move to quarterly payments (so that you’re only hunting down checks every 3 months) or invest in a system where you can automatically charge their account – businesses do it all the time!


The offense: Wants the moon and the stars on a shoestring budget

In my personal experience, these clients have been among my smallest accounts, yet ate up more of my time than clients paying 10x as much! They are great at micromanaging and wearing you down with negotiations on your pricing and requests for “just one more thing.” While you always want to under-promise and over-deliver for your clients, this business model is simply not sustainable.

What you wish you could say: “You are impossible to please and we’re losing money on you.”

What you should say: “I’ve carefully considered my workload and unfortunately I can no longer accommodate your needs at this time.”

Words of wisdom: The first red flag that you’re dealing with this type of client often occurs as early as contract negotiation. They may try to talk you down on price while refusing to take out any of the services you propose. Use your gut to decide whether to proceed with working with them, but keep in mind that the relationship cannot go on if you are constantly taking a loss each month on their billable hours versus the amount they are actually paying you. It’s not fair to you or to your other clients.


The offense: Verbally abusive

In personal relationships, we are far less likely to accept verbal abuse; yet so often we allow this to go on for far too long in business relationships. This type of client is one that is directly or indirectly demeaning and negative towards you or your staff. They may yell and swear at you, threaten you, or ever so subtly and indirectly put down your work. Whether the verbal abuse is obvious or subliminal, you cannot stay in this relationship.

What you wish you could say: “I dread interacting with you and no amount of money could offset the emotional damage you have caused.”

What you should say: “I strive to provide my clients with the best service possible and unfortunately I am no longer able to do that for you because of the difference in our work cultures and communication styles.”

Words of wisdom: The bottom line is no one ever deserves to be verbally abused and you must end a client relationship immediately if this occurs. I promise you, it never gets better. No amount of money is worth this stress.


The offense: Doesn’t respect time or boundaries

This type of client is toxic because they can really disrupt your work-life balance. They don’t respect your time by expecting you to meet tight deadlines, canceling meetings at the last minute, asking you to start a project and then changing directions or failing to get you the information you need to do your job. They also encroach on boundaries by expecting you to be available in the evenings and on the weekends and to be doing work for them during this time.

What you wish you could say: “You may pay me for my time, but you don’t control all of it. I need time to do other things that simply don’t involve you.”

What you should say: “It’s one of my top priorities to provide adequate time and attention to all of my clients. Due to my current workload, I am unable to commit to the hours you need from me and I cannot continue our partnership.”

Words of wisdom: There will come a time when important projects require you to work late into the evenings or on the weekends. However, this should not be the case for most of this client’s projects. If they insist that all of their work is propriety, where does that leave your other clients on your list? While you may be doing work for your clients, you are still your own boss and must maintain a sense of control over your time by letting go of clients who don’t respect these necessary boundaries.


The offense: Bigger problems are brewing within the business

This client wants you to have the magic solution to fix all of the problems within their business even when this task goes far beyond your area of expertise. For example, the client is asking for a new website, but really this is merely a bandage on a gaping wound of mismanagement, a weak business model and an unhealthy company culture.

What you wish you could say: “You are a mix bag of problems and bad decisions. It would take an entire overhaul of your business to prevent you from inevitable bankruptcy.”

What you should say: “While I would be happy to provide you with services that fall within my area of expertise, it’s come to my attention that you need help in additional areas that would impact the success of my work. At this time, I cannot take on your project until you have first resolved these other important matters.”

Words of wisdom: No one has all the answers – or expects anyone else to. If your client looks to you to be their marketing director as well as their business partner, investor, therapist and cheerleader…don’t walk away, run! Unless they acknowledge a good understanding of these other problems and demonstrate their determination to fix them, this is a toxic relationship that will only bring you both down.

Have you ever had to make the tough decision to fire a client? What was the determining factor and how did you handle it? Share your experiences by commenting below! 

 
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Posted by on August 17, 2015 in Business & Success

 

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Taking a Cue from Mother Nature

The first Monday of each month, I dust off a favorite post from the Bennis Inc Blog archives and give you another chance to enjoy the wit and wisdom that’s been shared. Enjoy this month’s treasure – and if it inspires you – be sure to share it with family and friends!


“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” Lao Tzu

Taking a Cue from Mother NatureSo often in life, nature is something we first try to change and then try equally as hard to replicate. I might be among the worst offenders of this. I’m always looking for ways to be more efficient with my time, cut-out the waste and cram in just one more hour’s worth of work somewhere, somehow. But time and time again, this haste has led me to mistakes, accidents and set-backs that in the end required more of my time than if I had just tried to do things right in the first place. Just a few days ago I was inspired by the Lao Tzu quote, “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” Ancient philosophers have quite a knack for making the most obvious statements while lining them with an intensely deep meaning that changes your world in a matter of seconds. And with this quote, I began to reexamine the perceived benefit of rushing through life’s tasks.

I can recall countless instances where rushing has cost me valuable time and caused unnecessary frustration. In the morning, I always feel like I’m saving time by multi tasking while brushing my teeth, but when toothpaste ends up on clothes and carpets, I spend more time cleaning up a mess that would otherwise have not been created. One specific morning, I was reaching for a canister of oatmeal with one hand and opening a drawer to grab a spoon with the other, when the entire canister came crashing to the floor. I lost about 20 minutes that day sweeping up oatmeal all for the possibility of saving a few extra seconds. Aside from a few messes here and there, rushing while driving to a meeting, proof-reading an important document or balancing my finances could lead to consequences far more severe. I suppose the underlying point is – how much time could I really be gaining by overloading myself with unnecessary multi-tasking?

In looking to nature for examples, I realized far more important tasks are accomplished every day, moving at the exact same pace they have been for all time. There’s something to be said for steady and consistent progress. Flowers bloom, animals migrate and weather changes just as it should to keep everything else moving in harmony. Could you imagine if just one piece of this puzzle were to rush its role? Everything else would be thrown off to create repercussions almost unimaginable. Most interesting of all is that we might be the only species inclined to rush. Where does this pressure come from? Why do we feel like what we accomplish in the time we’re given is never enough? I’m sure we can each answer this based upon different reflections, but what’s important is that we stop rushing long enough to at least ask.

In my own life, I can easily pick out the almost comical examples of how I try to change nature, just to replicate it. Our natural state is what we first try to improve upon, but ultimately use as our model for perfection. Just last week I spent a day rushing through my to-do list, feeling overwhelmed by everything I needed to get done. My reason for the rush? I wanted to have time to do yoga that afternoon so I could “unwind and de-stress.”  My new goal is to take a cue from Mother Nature and find a pace at which I’m making steady and consistent progress. For a serial multi-tasker this will be hard habit to break, but if it allows me to find more moments of clarity and contentment to appreciate the natural perfection of the world around me, it’s a challenge I’m willing to accept.

One of my favorite photos of Scott and me in front of Penn State’s Old Main Building. Every year, these flowers bloom in perfect harmony with spring and summer on campus.

 
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Posted by on August 3, 2015 in Life, Wisdom

 

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How to Love Your Career on the Days You Don’t (Guest Blog by Sarah Pike)

The following post comes to us from returning guest blogger, Sarah Pike. Sarah is a freelancer and teacher with a passion for sharing innovative ideas about entrepreneurship, productivity and company culture. Be sure to visit her author’s bio below to learn more and connect!

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How to Love Your Career on the Days You Don’t

How to Love Your Career on the Days You Don’tYou went into public relations because you loved it – the challenge, the juggling of projects, the deadlines, and the satisfaction of pulling off a mind-blowing coup in the nick of time. But the reasons you love it might overlap with the reasons PR was named one of the top 10 most stressful jobs for two years running.

And where there’s stress, there’s bound to be days when thefeeling of dissatisfaction rears its ugly head and has you wondering if you made a huge mistake. But just because you’re having an off day – or week – doesn’t mean it’s time to switch careers. Here are eight strategies to help you love your job again, even on days when that feels impossible.

1. Walk Down Memory Lane

Remember why you chose this career in the first place. Picture your first big win and remember how that felt. Think about the last time you felt really excited at work, and identify what the difference between that day and today is. By re-engaging with positive feelings about your work and looking for what might have changed, you can turn your day around for the better.

2. Look at the Bigger Picture

There’s a reason you work, and a big part of that reason has nothing at all to do with the office. You work so you can have everything else in your life. Reminding yourself that your career is why you are able to take fabulous vacations or live in a neighborhood you love can help take the sting out of career disillusionment. Virtually no job will give you 100% satisfaction each and every day. Take the good with the bad and remember that work is sometimes (more like often) “work” but it helps support other things in life you love.

3. Take up a Hobby

Sometimes you’re just overloaded and burned out. If there’s no immediate way to change your current workload or the project you’re working on, look outside the office for a sense of fulfillment. If you’ve always wanted to take a cooking class or learn a language, get started. Give yourself something else to look forward to and, once you start feeling accomplished after work, the nine-to-five will likely become more bearable.

4. Dress to Impress

It may seem too simple, but putting on that power suit or your favorite pair of strappy heels can totally turn your day around. You’ll instantly hold your head a little higher, walk with a little more purpose, and all those compliments you’re bound to get won’t hurt either.

5. Tell Someone

It may seem counter-intuitive to your career ambitions to let your boss know that you’re less than thrilled about your current position or tasks, but he or she might actually be the best person to help. Chances are your boss has felt exactly the same way, been able to fight through it, and not only stay in the field – but progress. And your boss may even be able to help mix up your current assignments to help you get over the hump and back to a place where you look forward to coming in every day. Connecting with a personal career coach is another way to help you identify actionable (and proactive!) strategies to turn your career around.

6. Connect with Colleagues

Even if you don’t feel connected to your current list of to-dos, you can still enjoy the workday by fostering supportive, fun relationships at work. Having a friend to look forward to seeing at the office is the next best thing to loving that pile of work on your desk.

7. Give Yourself a Break

Sometimes we need to unchain ourselves from our desk, computer, or tablet. Build regular breaks into your day where you can stand up, stretch, and take a breath of fresh air. If you have some flexibility in your schedule, keep heavy meetings for the middle of the day so you don’t start or end your day on a stressful note.

8. Reignite Your Passion

Look at people in your industry who are on fire. Study them, and if you have someone in your company or city that exudes love for their job, ask if they’d be willing to mentor you. Enthusiasm is contagious, and just being around someone full of passion for PR can get your career fires burning again.

No matter why you’ve hit a slump, there’s nothing worse than feeling miserable eight (or ten) hours a day. There’s a reason you jumped into the PR world with both feet, and you can reconnect with that initial excitement. All it takes is a little perspective and a healthy dose of compassion for yourself – we all go through tough times. Just don’t let one bad day ruin the rest of a rewarding, promising career!

What do you do to get through a tough day (or week) at work? Share your tips by commenting below!

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About the Author: Sarah Pike is a freelancer and teacher, with a slight productivity app obsession. When she’s not writing or teaching, she’s probably reading about career-pathing and wellness. She also enjoys following far too many celebrities than she should on Instagram. You can find Sarah on Twitter at @sarahzpike.

 

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True Test of Entrepreneurship: Are You Interested or Committed?

True Test of Entrepreneurship Are You Interested or CommittedThis month will mark the four year anniversary of the day I decided to make a hard right turn on a promising career to pursue the vast and unknown journey of an entrepreneur. I took the leap and landed on my feet – not out of luck, but out of a fiery commitment to do everything within my power to make this work.

That’s not to say I haven’t had to jump into survival mode when life threw curve balls, but I’m sitting here, typing this reflection today to tell you that there is a stark contrast between being interested in entrepreneurship and being fully committed to it.

Throughout the many lessons I’ve learned about entrepreneurship over these past four years, one of the most reoccurring was the difference between interest and commitment. I believe the quote by Kenneth Blanchard says it best, “…When you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when it is convenient. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses; only results.”

If you happen to find yourself at a crossroads of whether you’re interested in or committed to becoming an entrepreneur, consider the words that best describe your motivation and what category they fall into below:

When you are merely interested in something, you do it because it is…

Fun – Of course something that is fun will capture your interest and ignite a spark of excitement. When the task brings you joy, it’s natural to want to spend as much time as possible doing it. Unfortunately, many aspects of entrepreneurship are not fun, and are actually quite stressful.

New – The thrill of something new is always an intoxicating feeling. The unchartered territory and unlimited opportunities of entrepreneurship are some of the most common reasons why people are drawn to this lifestyle. But like anything that was once new, it will lose its shine and as a result, lose the attention of someone who was only “interested” in the venture for its newness.

Easy – One of the biggest determinants between whether you are interested in something or committed to something is whether you will still pursue the task once it is no longer easy. When we are interested in something, like entrepreneurship, it’s attractive when it’s obvious, easy and straightforward. As soon as the road begins to bend and a few tree trunks fall across your path, those who are merely “interested” will usually find a clear path to get the heck out of there!

Popular – Peer pressure is a very real force even long after we’ve left high school. In society, the career choices that seem “cool,” glamorous, interesting and trendy are attractive paths to follow. But what happens when that once popular idea loses the limelight – or worse yet, becomes criticized? Commitment means continuing to do what you said you were going to do, long after the popularity has worn off. A person who is merely interested in becoming an entrepreneur will move on to the next shiny object time and time again.

When you are fully committed to something, you ALSO do it because it is…

Fulfilling – Commitment is often accompanied by long hours and tough decisions. Some people may not understand or like what you are doing and boldly make this opinion known. But when you are committed to becoming an entrepreneur, it’s for reasons much deeper than those listed in the “interested” section above. One of these reasons is that the work is fulfilling to you. It’s a labor of love. You aren’t dependent upon popularity and publicity to keep you motivated; rather, the motivation comes from personal fulfillment.

Meaningful – In addition to pursuing a passion or filling void in your life, commitment is often connected to doing something that has a deep, personal meaning to you. In the case of entrepreneurship, we can find everyday examples of people who have started a business or non-profit to solve a problem that has impacted them personally. Helping other people, who have experienced your same problem, live better lives adds meaning to our own.

Worth the effort – We’ve all heard the notion, “Anything worth doing is worth doing right.” When you are committed to an entrepreneurial career, you don’t look for the shortcuts or easy ways out. You don’t want a “get rich quick” plan and you know that the words rich and quick rarely work together. It takes a lot of effort, but your commitment comes from believing it is worth it. You are prepared to invest a lot of hours into this venture – and you’re not looking for a quick return.

Your calling – Finally, and likely the best way to determine whether you are merely interested in entrepreneurship or whether you are fully committed to pursuing this unique career is deciding whether it is your calling in life. The most successful entrepreneurs didn’t just stumble upon this path, they were drawn to it, usually from as early as they can remember. While every journey has twists and turns, committed entrepreneurs will agree that all signs pointed them toward this type of career. Even amidst setbacks, you will not feel like a failure if you are going after what you are called to do.

Have you ever had to decipher between whether you were merely interested in something or fully committed to it? Share your personal experience by commenting below.

 

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What Building a Home Has Taught Me About Project Management

Right before we broke ground after a long and cold winter.

Right before we broke ground after a long and cold winter.

I feel fortunate and excited to announce that we are just two months out from the completion of our new home. Building a custom home has been a long-time dream that was made possible only through sacrifices and hard work from both my husband and me as well as through many generous and talented people in our lives.

It’s been quite a process that I can only describe as thrilling, overwhelming, humbling and surreal. It required meeting at least once per week with our project managers to make countless decisions and to attempt to balance a budget that was expanding faster than our toddler during a growth spurt.

Although each home our builder creates is custom from start to finish, there is a clear process in place that keeps things moving while allowing for adjustments to be continually made as needed. It’s quite impressive! My husband’s background is in civil engineering, so he had a better understanding of how this whole “construction thing” worked. Still, it was an equal learning experience for both of us.

And I learned a lot.

As a Public Relations consultant, I often play the role of “project manager” for my clients. I scope the project, divide tasks, manage budgets and meet deadlines. While the soft skills of PR are different than the hard skills of the subcontractors working on our home, I found many similarities as to how they effectively approached each project.

Through our personal home building process, I developed a deeper understanding of what it takes to be a good project manager and how to advocate for your client’s best interests. Of course I want to take this knowledge and use it to benefit my own clients. Here are the most valuable lessons I now plan to further incorporate into my own business:

The decision to start a project is only the first of countless decisions

When we made the decision to build a custom home, we took a deep sigh of relief that this variable was now a known. However, it’s foolish to praise yourself too much for this major life decision. It’s merely the first of countless others you must make to complete the project. The best piece of advice I gained from this experience was to stay committed to (and interested in) the project – even when there are setbacks and standstills.

This applies to my clients, whether we are working on new website content, implementing a social media strategy or creating marketing materials, remember that all of these projects will require many, many decisions. If you are not in a position to give the project the attention it requires, consider whether now is a smart time to begin the project altogether.

A picture of the stone in progress.

A picture of the stone in progress.

Know Your Critical Path

In construction, there is a clearly outlined critical path of smaller tasks that must be completed in a specific order and meet specific deadlines in order to keep the project as a whole on track. The importance of knowing your critical path applies far beyond construction alone.

I now have a renewed appreciation for beginning each project with a shared understanding of its critical path so that the client and any outside vendors are aware of the valuable role they play and how their deadlines affect so many others.

Be prepared for setbacks – and to hustle to make up time

So often the phrase that runs through my mind on projects is “I’m hurrying up only to wait.” What I mean is I often feel like other people involved in the project delay critical pieces and then when they finally deliver, they expect an immediate turnaround from me. You can surely see how this would be frustrating.

Through home building, I have learned that this is far from a unique problem. Whether it’s Mother Nature or another subcontractors holding up the show, inevitably other workers will be expected to expedite their results to make up for lost time. And sometimes this rush is for nothing as other factors hold up the next piece of the project anyways. Frustration – yes this is a shared feeling across all projects regardless of size or industry!

“Now” is always the best time to voice a concern

One day on site, my husband was walking through our home and had an idea to make the opening to our dining room even more “open concept.” This would, however, require cutting down the existing framing that had been put into place not a day or so sooner. We hesitated, considering the small inconvenience this would cause a worker; however, our project manager quickly spoke up. Within the next few minutes, the wood was cut back and repositioned to create the larger opening. That’s all it took at this point in the project.

What I learned was had we waited until there was drywall in place before voicing our concern, the fix would have required far more time and manpower. Worse, we may have chosen to live with the wall as it originally was and always wondered “what if.” From this example, I gained the lesson that right now will always be the best time to voice a concern. Waiting until you send the project to print or hit send on the email is too late. Speak up now – and don’t worry, people will be sure to weigh the pros and cons for you if the request is going to require more than just a few minutes to correct.

These blueprints show both the bare bones of the project as well as some special details we hand selected.

These blueprints show both the bare bones of the project as well as some special details we hand selected.

The framework provides structure, but the details provide character

Finally, the process of building a custom home gave me an appreciation for both the framework and the finishing details. While I was happy to finally break ground, I wasn’t overly excited about a big cement hole. Nor was I particularly excited to select an HVAC system or frame out our low voltage wiring. When I finally got enthusiastic with the project was when I was able to select things like the marble for our kitchen or the style of our built-ins.

I realize now, more than ever, that these less than exciting details will be the ones that keep me comfortable in our home throughout the years. I may not always see them, but I will certainly appreciate the value they add. The framework and more technical details to any project may not be artistic, but they are necessary for achieving the end result. The details are where you truly define character and add personality. Regardless of what gets you excited, both must work in unison to deliver a functional and attractive finished product.

What other pieces of advice on project management could you add to this list? Share your thoughts by commenting below!

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2015 in Business & Success

 

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5 Ways to Create a Culture of Empowerment (Guest Blog by Sarah Pike)

The following post comes to us from returning guest blogger, Sarah Pike. Sarah is a freelancer and teacher with a passion for sharing innovative ideas about entrepreneurship, productivity and company culture. Be sure to visit her author’s bio below to learn more and connect!

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5 Ways to Create a Culture of Empowerment

5 Ways to Create a Culture of EmpowermentIf you’re tired of obscure strategies about more meetings and holding monthly birthday parties, try out some of our ideas to help your team feel empowered (and maybe even a little inspired). While communication and making sure employees feel heard are important, they are hard to quantify. The five tips listed below can help you take empowerment out of theory and put it into practice.

Give Snaps

This idea is a twist on the usual public acknowledgement idea – and it was inspired (without any shame) from the movie “Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde.” Everyone on the team writes down something positive about another member of the team and puts it into the “snap cup.” In my former office, it was a pineapple bowl.

Then the facilitator of the activity reads each compliment out loud, and everyone gives snaps (literally snapping their fingers) for the person being acknowledged. I sometimes ran entire snap meetings centering on just one team member. It may seem like a silly idea, but I saw my team start looking for positive things in one another – and then expecting great things. It was a simple, non-threatening way to create an environment of positivity and to form a stronger team.

Pass the Mic

As the leader or manager, it’s easy to monopolize meetings with all the important things you have to say. But when your team only hears one voice, they become stagnant and can start to feel disengaged. There’s no better way to get them engaged than to give them the floor. You can either ask for volunteers or make assignments, but every team meeting should include some kind of training from at least one team member.

You can outline parameters for the kinds of training you’re looking for, but if you really want employees to take ownership, leave it as open-ended as possible. I’ve seen employees read “The Giving Tree” or turn the culminating battle scene in “Braveheart” into an inspiring message about taking risks and going for it. And the best part of this practice is that you, who are usually the one filling everyone else’s cup, get a chance to be inspired as well.

Give Feedback on the Spot

Employee surveys are just fine, but if you want to see immediate results and truly empower employees you need to speak up when you see something happening. If a team member just went out of their way to make a customer happy, go out of your way to make sure they get acknowledged for their efforts. If someone found a creative way to resolve a recurring problem, give them props and ask them to put together a training to share at a team meeting so everyone can benefit from their resourcefulness.

And encourage everyone in the office to do the same. You shouldn’t be the only one giving feedback. This is a discipline, though – it doesn’t simply happen. Set alerts on your calendar to remind yourself to look for on-the-spot opportunities. Once you start looking every day, it will become a habit. And this habit puts that open communication you’ve been striving for into practice.

Use an App

When it comes to employee empowerment, there’s an app for that. Motivosity is a program designed to automate, track, and facilitate employee engagement and acknowledgment. To have a truly collaborative workplace, you need to have a culture of empowerment and creating or transforming a culture takes discipline. Motivosity helps you get there.

From birthday and work anniversary acknowledgments to peer-to-peer rewards, this website/app combo streamlines your empowerment program and reminds everyone to give props to their coworkers. Motivosity also provides a fun, engaging way to capitalize on the competitiveness of your team by turning company and team goals into a game. And the program tracks everything that happens, which helps you identify which strategies are working and which ones are a waste of time.

Give Them Some Control

One of the best ways to help an employee feel empowered is to give them control over some aspects of their professional life. Whether it’s letting them decide how to transform the office break room or giving them the option to work from home part of the time, a sense of control can be more powerful than a raise.

Letting employees have input – especially in regard to their work schedule – shows you trust them and value their contribution. Remote work is becoming more common, especially for PR-related roles like social media managers and bloggers who rely solely on the Internet. And the benefits in regard to employee satisfaction and productivity definitely outweigh any perceived risks.

Whatever you decide to do to create a more inclusive, empowered workplace, make sure to be consistent and keep it going. Stopping and starting random initiatives only erodes trust and enthusiasm. While there isn’t one magic answer for helping your employees feel appreciated, you can start making a positive difference by implementing simple, concrete strategies that get everyone involved.

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About the Author: Sarah Pike is a freelancer and teacher, with a slight productivity app obsession. When she’s not writing or teaching, she’s probably reading about career-pathing and wellness. She also enjoys following far too many celebrities than she should on Instagram. You can find Sarah on Twitter at @sarahzpike.

 

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