Resolve to Master the Art of Collaboration

Everyone should watch the TED Talk by David Grady, “How to save the world (or at least yourself) from bad meetings.” You’ll laugh because it is so humorous, but it also makes you realize how much time is actually wasted in meetings which are either perfunctory in nature or just poorly run. We have all been there. In watching this TED Talk, it occurred to me that in addition to the fact that meetings “steal” time from someone’s otherwise productive day, there is also another cost. Everyone present at the meeting gets to tick the mental box that they were there, and in so doing, the opportunity to encourage real change in the organization is lost. Why? Because true collaboration and ideation take both time and engaged participants

As each year closes, there is no better time than the new year to breathe renewed energy into a business. Harness the brainpower of your employees and co-workers and resolve to master the art of collaboration.

Discuss Matters of Consequence

According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, collaboration means “to work with another person or group in order to achieve or do something.” It sounds so simple. But, what struck me after listening to David Grady’s TED Talk, is that to work with someone, you must be willing and truly want to listen to what (s)he has to say, and what is being said must be a matter of some consequence. People think of meetings as ideal forums for brainstorming and dialogue. However, so often a meeting boils down to a presentation of a project already in progress, status updates by participants on actions that have already been taken or approvals or wordsmithing of documents. Here is an example of what I mean:

You are asked to attend a budget meeting to review, discuss and approve the proposed budget for the next calendar year. As the meeting kicks off, you are handed a weighty package with the current budget proposal versus previous year(s) actuals and some supporting details. You listen to a presentation of the changes relative to the previous year’s budget proposal, are informed of some revised expectations, and apprised of scenarios that may take the budget off track. In due course, you are reminded of the tight timeframe and lengthy agenda for the meeting, and oh yes, comments anyone?

In fact, we attend meetings hoping to participate in an exchange of ideas, but the reality is that often one group presents to another, and the matters under discussion are scrubbed and edited so as to be of little consequence. People hear the presentation, but don’t really listen to it because they know that neither genuine change nor collaborative dialogue will ensue. The reality is that colleagues will not collaborate with their peers unless discussions are on matters of consequence, meaningful change is still possible and people in the meeting actually want input from others in attendance.

value the input of your peers in small business

Value the Input of your Peers

Every organization has a hierarchy. It certainly is important when it comes to the day-to-day operations of the business. There are chiefs and there are Indians. But, the irony is that often the Indians have some of the best ideas, and moreover while some could be chiefs, they choose not to be. These non-managerial employees are pivotal to the daily running of the company and often the face of the business to your customers. Sometimes their jobs have components that are repetitious, so there is no one better to suggest how to streamline those jobs. They interact with customers and know what works and what will sell. But often, these valuable members of the team are also acutely aware that they are not managers.

If you are seeking to draw out the ideas of your peers and collaborate with them, they will want to know their input is truly valued by both the management and other co-workers. The art of collaborating encompasses the ability to sometimes treat others as your peers even when they are not, take the time to talk and listen to them and value their input. The end result is genuine buy-in.

Follow-up on Great Ideas

With some great ideas and an action plan in place, follow-up is critical to the art of collaboration. Organizational change comes in steps, and each part of the process should have actionable items for people to do. There is nothing more demoralizing than attending a meeting where someone floats a great idea, there is much fanfare, and then it is never pursued. If your organization has a management team that never produces actionable plans based on great ideas, than the value of the collaborative process is lost.

If there are unanswered questions when an idea is presented, the appropriate person should report back on the issue to his or her colleagues. In fact, taking a suggestion and following it through speaks to valuing the input of your peers, and as employees start to see the results of their collaborative efforts, they will become even more energized, motivated and engaged.

Stale organizations focus on process. Growing ones encourage collaboration and evolve.

Collaboration forces an organization to mature and grow, although perhaps not in the manner originally anticipated. If you are struggling to identify a strategic direction for your organization and could use some assistance, contact us or call (973) 218-6558.


Note: This blog has been edited since its first publication in December 2014. 





tools to measure whether social media is working

5 Tools That Will Tell You If Your Social Media Strategy is Working

A great social media campaign takes patience, thought and energy. The Return on Investment (ROI) is not always immediate, and many small businesses start using social media only to abandon it months later. The key to a successful social media strategy is customer “engagement,” which is defined as interactions in the form of likes, tweets, favorites, click-throughs, page views or even comments on a blog. If you have the type of business that does not get many Facebook comments or likes, for example, it does not mean your social media campaign isn’t working, but rather that you may need to dig a little deeper to analyze your customer engagement.

Understanding engagement is essential to figuring out the types of social media that will help grow your business. Here are five tools that will tell you whether your social media strategy is working.

Level of Engagement

One of the easiest ways to analyze social media success is to consider the campaign engagement relative to the average. The average engagement is lower than you might think, and I like to look at for updated statistics. Socialbakers compile their data based upon monitored social media pages. As a rule of thumb, engagement of 1% or higher is considered good, but as the number of followers you have increases, the engagement level declines markedly so adjust your expectations accordingly. However, 1% engagement is a reasonable benchmark for a successful social media campaign.

Geographic Reach

If you use Twitter, tools like SocialBro can give you demographic information about your followers, including their geographic location and language.This tool will allow you to group your followers into lists and monitor what topics engage them, what times your tweets attract the most engagement and who the top influencers are in your area of interest. You can change the demographics and look at similar information in a competitor’s area or even a region where you may be considering expansion. For multinational businesses, SocialBro can help you see countries where you have pockets of followers, and you can tailor your content accordingly.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics

The ultimate goal of a social media campaign is not just engagement, but visibility for your business and website. Google Analytics, a powerful and versatile tool available from Google, utilizes the information it collects on customer searches to track how they are getting to your website. If your customers are finding your website with click-throughs from your social media, you can see it in your Google Analytics reports. The platform will also tell you whether the visitors to your site are new or returning, what pages they are viewing, demographic information about them, and how long they stay on your site.

Newsletter Subscriber Base

If you send out newsletter e-blasts, chances are you have sign-up widgets on your social media platforms. If followers find your social content engaging, they will seek to build a more substantial relationship with your company by signing up for your newsletter. Social media engagement serves as the introduction to what your company has to offer. The newsletter will allow you to have a more meaningful dialogue with your customers, so monitor whether your subscriber base is increasing alongside your social media campaigns. If you have a download or PDF you can give away to incentivize people to join your mailing list, even better.

Click-through Rates

Regardless of the social media platform that  you choose, you will be able to monitor the click-through rate for your posts, tweets, e-blasts or photos. The click-through rate will tell you how many followers actually clicked on your content, photo or link back to your website. It suggests that a follower is interested enough in your content to actually do something about it, so it is a key metric and will help you refine your social media strategy in ways that can better engage your customers.

Are you unsure how to tell whether your social media strategy is working, or is your company just struggling to engage with customers on social media? Resourceful Business can help you assess, realign and energize your social media strategy so you can engage customers and grow your business. Contact us for a conversation about your company’s social media strategy.