Posts Tagged ‘communication’

CFO Communication Skills a Major Asset for Twitter IPO

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

According to a report from Bloomberg News, Twitter’s CFO has the ability to communicate clearly, even when discussing complicated concepts–and that talent is expected to be a valuable asset as Twitter seeks investors for its upcoming IPO. Mike Gupta, who joined the company last year, is known for his skill in explaining complex systems and business models in a simple way. Because of his communication skills and his negotiation credentials, he likely will accompany Twitter’s CEO, Dick Costolo, on the “road show” to drum up interest for the new offering.

Twitter is anticipating sales of $1 billion next year and hoping to sustain solid long-term growth. But it’s difficult for many potential investors to understand how the company earns revenues and how it can continue to grow sales. Formerly head of finance for Yahoo, Gupta  played a key role in Yahoo’s negotiations with Microsoft that led to a partnership for web-base search. He also helped Yahoo secure a valuable investment in China-based Alibaba.

Beginning his career in investment banking, Gupta moved into technology as an executive with Zynga, where he was involved in that company’s IPO. As Zynga’s former operating chief observes, “He was instrumental during our earnings calls and during our road show. He would do a great job of playing the other side and thinking through all the intricacies.”

Workers Prefer In-Person Collaboration and Communication

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Although a growing number of companies offer telecommuting and other nontraditional work arrangements and schedules, the vast majority of people with those options still choose to work at the office as usual. As reported in the Modest Bee, nearly half the companies responding to a survey by CoreNet Global Inc. and Steelchase Inc. say that employees prefer office technology even though their homes also are technologically well equipped.

At the same time, employee work space is shrinking. This is due to the increase in collaboration, according to Mark Damico, president of The Workplace Group, Inc. More company offices are being designed as “open environments with workstations around the perimieter and executive offices in the inside,” he says. Also, he says more young executives perceive private offices to be punishment rather than a perk. Not surprisingly, older workers resist open office designs, preferring the traditional layout.

Do you agree with these findings? Or does your experience indicate otherwise?

Leadership Communication Is Key to Successful Change

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

Insufficient communication is second only to fear of change or failure as a major stumbling block to successful change in organizations. According to a global survey of nearly 1,100 managers conducted by New Catalyst, LLC, it’s essential for leaders to “constantly communicate” before, during and after attempting to implement a significant change.

Constant communication is the way to gain “employee support and trust,” which is essential for a change “to stand any chance of success,” say the authors of the survey, Kelly Nwosu and Nick Anderson. I totally agree. As I emphasize to clients during my speaking and consulting engagements, it’s more important than ever to communicate regularly–even daily–during times of change and any other period that might be described as a crisis.

New Catalyst found that there are three primary messages for leaders to focus on in order to gain employee support for upcoming change. Those three messages must be clear explanations of the why, the how and the benefits of the change.

As a participant in one of my storytelling workshops for sales managers observed, “People aren’t afraid of change per se; they’re afraid that they aren’t prepared for change.” When a leadership repeatedly reassures everyone by explaining 1) the reasons for the change; 2) how it will be accomplished (including the specific role for each division, and cascading down, each person); and 3) the benefits of the change for the organization and everyone affected by it, the odds of success skyrocket.

Blitz Communication Strategy Works

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

If your organization finds communication and employee engagement challenging, especially when implementing change, a blitz strategy may be the answer.  According to an article in “Reliable Plant,” this approach is an easy way to comprehensively disseminate messages and to support change efforts.

Here are the steps of blitz communications as outlined by authors Joe Mike and Patricia Landry:

  1. Senior leaders craft a succinct message
  2. They then divide into groups and spread throughout work areas to discuss the message with supervisors, listen to their feedback, and check for retention
  3. Supervisors meet with their employees in small groups and deliver the same message
  4. Leaders document how well employees retain the message, with the goal being 40 percent of the employees able to clearly articulate it

Landry reminds leaders that messages can always be improved, so it’s important not to measure the success of their communication based on their own perception. Checking whether employees are able to repeat the message accurately is the only sure measure of the message’s effectiveness.

Making communication clear and concise during a big project is the single most important factor in successfully implementation of change, Landry says. At one organization where she spearheaded the blitz process, most of the feedback was positive–so much so that the company plans to use it again.

Eileen Fisher Keeps It Simple

Friday, January 27th, 2012

Her early years in Illinois seemed to offer no hint that she would one day be a well-known New York fashion designer. For 12 years she wore uniforms to school–a requirement most students dislike intensely but she found freeing–and then declared a math major in college. Her plans for the future were a far cry from living in Tribeca and launching a fashion career. So how did Eileen Fisher discover that she had a vision and a talent for fashion design?

After admiring–and owning–a number of Eileen Fisher garments over the past 25 years or so, I was intrigued by an interview with her in Fortune describing how she got her start. As the article reveals, she actually developed sewing skills and a love of fabric while growing up in a household where her mother sewed much of the clothing for her six daughters. And when Fisher no longer needed to wear a uniform to school, she hated shopping because she couldn’t find what she wanted, and she found it very  time-consuming to decide what to wear each day. It seemed to her that finding, selecting and wearing well-coordinated outfits each day should be simpler.

The influence of a college roommate’s coursework in interior design led Fisher to realize she, too, loved working with fabric. She changed her major to home economics, then took the opportunity to move to New York’s Soho with a roommate, and struck up a friendship with a sculptor. Surrounded by creative minds and influenced by observations on a trip to Japan, she eventually formulated her vision for a fashion collection based on–no surprise here–the concept of simplicity!

Her first collection of four garments were displayed at a show in 1984 where she sold orders to eight stores. At the next show a year later she had doubled her collection to eight garments and had a line of buyers waiting to place orders. She was on her way!

“Keep it simple” is a mantra we all need to remember as we go through daily activities. Simplicity is the key to communications, the basis for many wonderful culinary creations, and the key to achieving work/life balance. What ideas do you have for simplifying life? How can you make your job a bit easier, or help other people simplify their lives? Who knows? You just may launch a new career!

Creating Inspirational Leaders in the Lab?

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

In an effort to understand what makes a leader inspirational, researchers are hoping to be able to identify areas of the brain that are different in those who are inspirational–and then to use neurofeedback to develop similar wiring in others in order to develop more charismatic leaders. So far, their research findings are promising.

As reported in the “Academy of Management Perspectives,” researchers have identified the area of the brain that helps form “socialized visionary communication,” which in turn helps followers to perceive a leader as inspirational or charismatic. What do you think about this? Is it reassuring to think that a person’s wiring can be manipulated this way? Or a bit frightening to realize how close we’re getting to the sci-fi scenarios described in Brave New World?




How to Tell Employees Bad News

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

All you entrepreneurs out there–especially those in high tech–can imagine the panic of discovering that a giant company just released a product almost exactly like yours. Even worse, that industry-dominating giant is giving it away! Yes, that’s right: free!

How do you tell your employees the bad news, and how do you assure them you have a plan for staying in business and thriving, even though your product is on the market at a premium price point? As reported in Fast Company, James Siminoff, CEO of Unsubscribe, faced that reality when he was running his previous start-up, Phone Tag, a voicemail transcription service. When he learned Google had introduced a product nearly identical to his, Siminoff was ready. He knew such a situation might develop and had prepared for the worst.

First, he flooded the media with his core story: Google may be bigger but our product is better and our customers agree. He commanded attention by being outrageously outspoken to the point of profanity, realizing that the media loves wild behavior.  Second, he informed employees by sending out a group e-mail followed by conversations with each individual. Then he kept them focused on customer service, sales and close customer contact.

Initially Phone Tag lost about 25% of its business to the new service, but eventually the company won back 4/5 of them–and added 30% more new customers. About a year later Siminoff sold the company at a handsome profit and started his current start-up. He says in retrospect, he’s grateful for Google’s entry into the voice transcription market and wouldn’t change a thing about how he told his “bad news” story.

Read the whole story here: