Why don’t people remember…?

Last week a Company Director phoned Assimilating-Talent and was talking to me about his frustration with communicating change to his employees. He told me that “People don’t read stuff”.
Actually his frustration was that his employees seemed not to remember information.

I pointed out that this shouldn’t be a surprise when you look at how information is available and the way people retrieve it. Wikipedia doubling each year, over 200 million searches on “Tax advice” from Google, staff handbooks that run to 100 pages or more, 200 emails a day into their inbox and so on. People don’t need to remember information any more, they just need to know how to retrieve it.

Another result of all this information is that people are reading information differently. They scan for keywords as they hunt for specific topics, they read horizontally dipping in and out of text and store information, without reading it, for later reading.

This has huge implications for how organisations communicate with their people. The frequency of that communication and what people are being asked to look at. Possibly, instead of large memos, a shorter one line asking people to read: ‘“Section 2.4” of the change programme as this has changed‘.

Someone who I follow and talks huge sense on the topic of communication with people and businesses is Chris Street, The Bristol Editor and I would recommend a discussion with him if you want to improve your internal communication

Stephen Harvard Davis

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The “Loop Of Paralysis”

I was talking to a friend and business owner over the weekend about his team productivity and the process that allows team productivity to fall when times are uncertain.

It’s most often observed during the early stages of change or during an M&A when rules are about to change and become unclear. It’s made more noticeable when management reduce communication because there’s “nothing to say”. The problem is that everyone else, team members that is, ate having their say. Around the coffee machine, in corridor meetings and outside of work. The result is that productivity falls, sales reduce and projects are put on hold until the uncertainty is removed.

It’s NOT an option
I told my friend that to “Say nothing because there wasn’t anything to say” is NOT an option. This increases the sense of uncertainty at a time when people are looking for direction. It is possible to point out to team members that the way ahead is unclear EXCEPT for the fact that sales are still required, increased efficiency needed and that meeting targets will still be expected.

This afternoon he telephoned to say that after briefing his team, corridor meetings had significantly reduces and one team member said “Even though things aren’t clear thanks for reminding us what’s important”

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Customer bites back!

Over the past week I’ve been amazed at the response of companies to negative comments on Twitter. In the “getting complaints resolved fast” it seems to scare companies far more than threats to complain through official channels!

It takes 50 days to post a form
At this point I’m not going to mention the companies concerned (look through my previous blogs and tweets if you want to know the who) but to say that one complaint was after I was informed that to post me a form that needed completing could take up to fifty days to post…yes that’s right fifty (50) days to post out a form!

Brand protection
Within an hour of the negative tweets complaining of the poor customer service I was being contacted by teams of people wanting to resolve my complaint to prevent further negative tweets being made. Now, one has to admire the protection of the brand image and how effectively the complaint was handled but my main question is why let the situation where a customer is frustrated or angered occur in the first place?

So, perhaps the advice if you have a complaint about a company should be “Tweet first, blog next, mention it on facebook and if that brings no satisfactory result then complain officially”.

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Queen’s Jubilee…better in 1952 or at the end?

As the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee approaches we are likely to be bombarded with comparisons of the “then and now”. Commentators will be lecturing us saying how much better off we all are than in 1952!

People worked harder
Doubtless they will mention that people worked harder in 1952. Yet in reality communication and technology mean that we work faster and more effectively now than sixty years ago.

There will be statistics showing that more women are employed than ever before and regrets that “company loyalty” has disappeared. Forced redundancies, company closures and so on have meant that people are prepared, often out of necessity, to change jobs and careers more often than sixty years ago.

Is comparison pointless?
Yet comparisons are rather pointless. During the past sixty years the world has changed beyond recognition for most in the UK and the USA and it’s undeniable that the general standard of living of Briton’s has improved.

The real issue
The real issue for discussion with commentators, politicians, business leaders and bankers should be not whether things are better now than in 1952 but instead if things will be better at the end of the reign than they are now?



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Great Business Show at Earls Court

Yesterday I was at the Great British Business Show at Earls Court and saw loads of friends. However, despite so many people attending the show it was not a success for me and, from the feedback I received, wasn’t a success for many other people as well.

What went wrong:

  • To start with I had to queue for twenty minutes to get into the show and when I arrived at the check-in desk was told that I was in the wrong queue and had to join another. (I left the queue and walked in without registering!)
  • Once inside I found that there was no show guide. So finding information on the location of exhibitors, seminar presentations was more difficult than it needed to have been.
  • Too many of those exhibiting seemed unsure how to engage with visitors to their stands.
  • More than one exhibitor was handing out very heavy (300 page) catalogues that were dumped at the exhibition because I didn’t want to carry them around London for the rest of the day
  • Two events were being held in the same hall, despite being marketed separately “Great British Business Show” and the “Business Start-up Earls Court”. Very confusing for attendees

This is the second event that I’ve recently attended that I thought poorly organised, an HR event a month ago at Olympia, that had so few visitors to it that I was probably one of a couple of hundred people in the hall. Naturally the exhibitors were packing up early and I gather were “Meeting with the organisers” to complain.

I’m interested in the experience of other exhibition visitors

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Corporate Guff

One of my joys each week is listening to Lucy kellaway on the radio. Her latest broadcast focusses onto corporate guff and how sick-making words have arrived in China.

Her examples of “management bullshit” had me listen to the broadcast twice. (though in itself not unusual I would love to tell her that I prefer to listen to her in bed instead of reading a book)

“Uplifting meaningful customer experience”
The examples that had me laugh most were Standard Life’s use of “Employee Journey” to describe, I think, a job. Then there was “Uplifting meaningful customer experience” which is so woolly as to be meaningless and finally the company that was sharing “Thoughtware”.

In my experience the problem with corporate guff is that too many that listen to such rubbish nod their head sagely as if they have complete understanding of what’s being said, when they don’t. A few years ago I came across a business consultant that was always desperate to use the latest corporate guff to his customers. He said that his clients were always impressed by his knowledge. As far as I knew most of his customers didn’t understand what he was talking about and he’s since ceased trading!
That’s what I call “A malfunctioned career experience”

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How to keep up with business language?

I must admit to being fed up of attending a business meeting and to have to listen to a pimply faced executive that is out to impress colleagues whilst saying nothing that he can be blamed for.

For the most part the use of such phrases are pompous and meaningless. Examples that I’ve heard in this last week include: “Targeted cost initiatives”, “Client care identification programme” and “Positioned service excellence programme”.

Coupled with this is the language from the internet such as HMU (Hit me up) meaning text me or email me that Facebook has revealed is the most used terms alongside “World Cup” and the only person in the top ten list “Justin Beiber(for the benefit of my older readers and those without young kids he’s a Canadian teen pop idol).

Actually I tend not to keep up with the language and just pretend to be stupid. At the end of the talk I raise my hand and ask for an explanation of how the “Service excellence programme” will work and how, exactly, it will be positioned” and what “data” was used to identify the need in the first place.

Generally the individual is so confused by the request that the information is repeated using clear, everyday language that everyone can understand.

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The not so delicate art of firing people

Lucy Kellaway’s brilliant article in yesterday’s Financial Times on “The not so delicate art of firing people” where she analysed two emails giving staff bad news. Her conclusion that “using an upbeat tone is a cowardly attempt to hoodwink staff into thinking something good will happen”, was spot on!

It reminded me of an email that was given to me by a friend that was designed to be motivational, and I guess was in a funny sort of way as it had the effect of binding the team even harder against their team leader. This is what the IT team found in their email inbox when the team leader had just departed for a weeks holiday.

“I am sending you this email because whilst I’m away I don’t want you to feel leaderless. I view my job like being the leader of a flock of geese. I have the responsibility to guide the flock to new feeding pastures.

Sometimes I don’t know where the best feeding grounds might be and will fly round in circles until I can locate them. Then I must fly to it in the shortest possible route. Now and again I might have to make adjustments in our flight path to ensure that the flock finds the best feeding ground.

Generally I will take the lead so that weaker geese can fly in my slipstream but sometimes I will allow another goose to take the lead to provide experience of leading the flock. Whilst I’m away I hope that some of you will take the opportunity to take the lead until I return to guide you once more

On receipt an email was sent to the rest of the team by someone who said ” I hadn’t realised that for the last six months I’ve been flying round in circles to God knows where whilst looking up a Ducks arse”

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