5 Things you can do to be Interested in your followers

I remember hearing this saying a few years ago and it blew my mind.

 “Stop trying to be interesting. Just be interested.”

I am not sure exactly who coined the term as I’ve seen a few memes and quotes of it since then. And I’ve seen and said it a variety of ways. Regardless the meaning stays true.

A few days ago I met with a friend to work on her social media plans for the remainder of this month and dream for the next year. She’s an author and speaker and wants to continue to improve her platform and her following. We talked about campaigns and calendars, scheduling and showing the imperfectness of her children and holiday décor. People love peering through the looking glass to see how you really live life. And in a world of “connectedness” people still feel lonely or that no one is listening to them.

After talking with her I came up with a quick list of ways that we could all be more interested in our followers regardless of the platform or medium.

  1. Be Helpful – Share an article you read that would help them based on what they shared. Maybe its tips for running faster, or how to save money by meal planning, or shopping advice for the holidays. I think the more related to their personal life the better.
  2. Encourage them–  Share a note to encourage them along the process even if you don’t have any advice to add. There’s a lot to be said when someone encourages another and could help motivate them.
  3. Respond – For one week, pick 5 or 10 followers and write back a response to their posts. Like a real response, not a bot response or a one word “LOVE” response. I’ve done this a few times, sometimes with people I don’t even really “know” and its been fun learning more about them and building a better foundation for a relationship.
  4. Share a story – There’s something great about hearing a story about something similar, especially if you want to show some empathy (or humor!). It brings a human element to a very processed, calendar and scheduled feed of noise. Just be careful that you don’t try and “one-up” the person trying to make yourself look better with your story.
  5. Listen  – Follow up or ask someone about something specific that was shared. It shows that they actually read and listened and remembered. Enough to ask and care about what’s happening behind the screen.  This is powerful, and rarely happens online, let alone in other relationships.

What about you? Do you have any tips or things people online have done to show that they were truly and genuinely interested in you and you in them? Any business that is doing this well?

 

Here’s a post by Eric Kraus about Interested vs Interesting in Enterprise Social networks and a bit more about the background of culture if you want to explore further.

 

Sustainable Training

I often get asked by my clients, with the pace of change how do you keep your training materials up to date?

There comes a point in time when you just give up.

Or there comes a point where you know there is a different way.

Because I’ve worked at start ups and software companies where product changed at least weekly, we had to be creative and a strategic in the way we created and maintained training materials.

If  I am creating something brand new, immediately think about longevity. How long is this document, presentation, course, job aid, video going to last? When will be used? For how long? What’s the purpose and the audience behind it? Answering some of these questions helps me narrow down the actual output created.

If I am working with maintaining existing material I work through a simple change matrix. Based on a scale of 1-10, a team member works through number of people impacted, look and feel (UX) change, and workflow impact. After agreeing on a rating for these few factors the numbers would add up to a specific change level and we’d focus on the working through materials from there.

Sounds like a lot of work, but it was pretty simple once it was in place. We can quickly focus on updating the materials appropriately for the change to support the performance we expected out of the impacted audience.

I’ve created these for the sanity of my own teams, but also to help set expectations with customers and our own leadership. Having a clear picture of what and when will be available and up to date based on the specifics of a change, made working with the teams easier.

Finally, the other way I focus on sustainable based training, is by focusing on the workflows or business process. Building this type of training materials and programs could be more involved as they may overlap systems and be cross functional.  If you create training based on use cases of a workflow, this could mean less maintenance. One could assume that the process changes less often than the product. I understand it may not always be the case, but primary this is what I have seen with my experience. These programs took longer to design and build, but they took less time to upkeep. I will probably write more on this so stay tuned.

If this is something that your organization needs help with, drop me a line. Would love to help figure out what the factors and scale are for creating sustainable training programs and documentation.

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Leaving Yammer – Yammer Contributions

The chapters don’t end in our story. There’s more to be written…

People thought I was crazy. Leaving the comforts of familiarity and moving too many miles to count to an unknown start-up. Leaving behind the white picket fence. The great job and incredible manager. And friends and family. Then moving again! We were crazy. But that’s because big risk equals big reward.

So I started to write the chapter in my life with the title, “Yammer – taking me places I never imagined“. Quickly, we wrote this chapter together, and all over the world, you all included! We thought and wrote our pages as we were living them. Our story has characters of all walks of life, industry, and passions. We wrote it not knowing what would come on the next page.

And now, it’s time to finish this chapter and begin the next chapter. I’ve joined Hootsuite. Read more details here

My advice to you, don’t be afraid to write a new chapter. Even if there is risk. Even if you aren’t sure what story will be told in the chapters that follow. Fear, is the one way to miss out on authoring the pages of your life.

Dream big. Author your own pages. Title your own chapters.

And don’t forget that at the end of the day, its about people.

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(Selfie of my last training session with Yammer! They are PUMPED!)
It’s about people who you can share and re-live the stories you have written — that matter most.

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Keep calm and Yammer on

 

 


 

I wanted to capture my contributions to Yammer and Enterprise social in one post, more for my own knowledge but feel free to check out these links for more information!

 

View recording of my presentations of Yammer at Microsoft Conferences: Channel 9 Speaker (Includes Topics such as Power User Training, Enterprise Social Scared Straight, and Best Practices for overcoming Organizational Barriers to success)

 

Read more about my story here: Microsoft Careers Blogs

Yammer 101 Video

Yammer Blog Contributions:

Using Yammer to roll out O365

This is not your Parents Training Software

Using Yammer in your Training Programs

Social Onboarding

 

Other Yammer Related Articles & Blogs:

L&D Calendar Spotlight

Afterglow from ASTD 2014

Yammer for Internal Knowledge Sharing

ASTD Blog Publications:

Making you Yammer community work – Tips & Best Practices

Social Learning Fear Factor

 

5 Life Lessons from MOM

In honor of Mother’s Day I want to reflect on five of the many lessons my mom taught me.

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(Photo Credit Imaginale Design http://imaginaledesign.com/)

  1. Treat others how you want to be treated. From a very little age this was our standard and a golden rule for our family. And while I don’t always do this, she reminds me that you never know when someone will come back into your life, and you hoped you treated them well. Its not worth it to be rude or disrespectful, you never know how it will impact the reach of your relationships with others. My mom has always extended an extra pair of hands, even when she was tired or had a million other things to do. Her ability to show up and help someone else inspires me. Even when its a Saturday morning, she would be there cheering on her students Karate competition and enjoying conversation with a single mom.  This is hard because we are selfish, but its worth it to remind yourself of this, at least as a baseline.
  2. Its a very small world and most people around you have really good intentions. Drama is hard and it sometimes consumes us. But its a very small world and going back to the first lesson, because you never know how you have impacted a relationship be mindful of the way you interact and treat others. With technology, it makes the world even smaller. People don’t often remember everything you’ve said to them, but they will remember how you treated them.
  3. When no one else wants to do it, raise your hand and step up. Or lean in. This has helped me get a variety of opportunities or projects I might not have otherwise had the opportunity to get. I am always going above and beyond what’s expected of me based on a job description or my goals for the quarter, because I never know the opportunities of learning that come from raising my hand, my next job, my next customer or my next friend.  My mom always goes beyond the call of duty and has had some great opportunities because of it.
  4. Its ok to ask others for help. This one is hard because my mom did it all. And she struggled with this, but when it mattered most she allowed others to help. And she’s not afraid to ask. Recognizing that I can’t do anything alone and that we are better together, I am always asking for help because I know I have people in my life with different expertise and experiences than me that can help with a better product to serve my team or my customers. When I look back on any accomplishments or proud moments in my life, I didn’t do it alone, I had a team of people pulling their strengths to pull it off.
  5. Its not about you. For my mom its about her students. For me, its about my customers and my team. I want to be able to know them and help them from where they are in their journey through life. Even if its just listening to them over coffee or supporting them on their next 5K.  When my team members mother died, we all cried and rallied together to support her. When my team member had a baby, we delivered food so they didn’t have to think about it for the few weeks as they were experiencing so many changes. Its about the relationships and the people that you meet along the way. And sometimes its messy, but that’s what happens when people are involved. But its worth it. Sometimes we forget that its about the people, the way technology has wired us to become consumed with status updates (but this is a topic for another post!).

 

I could probably go on and on but I wanted to keep it short and sweet.

 

Today, reflect back on the lessons your mom has taught you and how has it shaped the person you have become (or not become!)? Would love to hear how you learned from your mom.

 

Thanks Mom!

“Paint” by Numbers but Different Results, is that how we train?

Last week I went to a Art of Merlot to celebrate a good friend’s birthday. We were instructed to all paint a similar picture. In the end we were supposed to end up with something close to Van Goghs’ version of the red poppy…

 

We were all given the same materials (canvas, paint, brushes) traced the same outline of the painting (using carbon copy paper) and given the same instruction from the art teacher.

 

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Yet when we finished… (see below) everyone had their own interpretation of the instruction and the medium and the colors and ultimately the final product. If you look at them they all look “similar” however they are all different and not exact replicas for what Van Gogh originally created.  (mine specifically requires a two drink minimum to view).

 

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Was it that some of us just didn’t listen to the instructor? Or some of us had had too much wine ? Or was it that we wanted to express our own perception of what was being painted?

 

Either way I think this is similar to how “training” is looked at. Everyone is given (or hopefully) given the same tools, instruction and we expect the same results. But the reality is that some interpretations come out a bit different than others.  Some excel and “paint” wonderful things and go above and beyond your expectations taking the materials a step further. While other some need a bit of remedial assistance (my case with the painting! I needed the teacher’s assistance every brush stroke). Is this such a bad thing ? Or is there something wrong with the expectation that everything will come out just the way we planned when we have given everyone everything without letting them choose on their own?

 

Have you ever had a “color by numbers” type of training session? Where you thought everything was given to your learners and it turned out they did something completely different? What happened? Would love to hear about it!

Rock and Role – What’s our roll look like in the future?

I know I just used the wrong type of “rolls” in the title. I always get a kick out of people when they use the wrong roll, role or wear and where, and hare and hair. I mean I think sometimes I am a bit dyslexic too. I can hardly spell  – but I think its because I have grown up in the spell check era – and anything that I have constantly spelled wrong, has been auto-corrected for me and I don’t know the RIGHT (or write) way to actually spell it (or sometimes it corrects itself!).

Anyways that was a tangent  – but I have been thinking a lot lately, mostly because it’s been the topic of a few different discussions and communities of practice about the ROLE of Learning and Development.

A few weeks ago, I was in a lunch meeting with a very intelligent man in the communications area of a huge R&D company. We talked about how his teams were struggling with their jobs – not in the fact that they weren’t doing them but they were realizing that they had lost control of the message. The real question is – did they ever really control it? I think the same goes for L&D  – when did this shift happen, or did we ever have control?   Were people not going and getting their own information when we didn’t have a formal class on the subject? Honestly, I think they were getting information elsewhere.

I haven’t worked in L&D for really that long – almost 3 years actually – so honestly who is to say that I really knew what the ROLE looked like – however I do want to have an impact in the way it looks in the future… But what do I want it to look like in the future? I really don’t KNOW. Does anyone? If you do, fill me in.

What do I wish that this role looks like in the future? Facilitator of behavioral change.  Now thats a BIG job. Training is a basic building block for change, but its not the only thing that facilitates change. “Training” comes in all sorts and sizes and methods. Social, informal, on the job, just in time, classroom, lecture, workshop, webinar, webcasts, sessions, presentations, activities are just the beginning. I think the role of L&D professionals is going to have to help the business facilitate change. And work WITH them to figure out what the best methods are to combat resistance and to get people on board to head down the path to success.  Also I know that training is not always the solution and you have to be armed and ready for people who think that training should be able to solve everything.

For example, a recent conversation with my new manager went like this:

me “People need basic training on our product.”

manager “ok – lets make a video blog. “

me “uh? no. thats not really… ” and I lost the attention of my manager.

He wants a quick fix. And unfortunately there isn’t one.  Sorry. Change is hard. Getting people to switch from one thing they are used to and to do something different is really hard. To say that a video blog is going to train them, isn’t really THE solution. (what the heck is a video blog anyways??) This may be apart of the solution. But back up and let’s figure out what the problem is first. And I don’t think there is a one size fits all type of solution for my role. I do know adults (myself included) like to get their hands dirty  rather than listen to someone talk through 40 slides.

So in my own honest opinion some key things we will need for future for this role is:

  • Change Management background, skills, knowledge and anything else related to change
  • Having an open mind – without limiting to what people may need
  • Communication skills
  • Business acumen and business process knowledge.  I am not an expert by any means but the time I spent learning Purchasing, Customer Service, Manufacturing, Accounts Receivable and General Ledger stuff has proved invaluable. You have to know the business and different areas. No question about it.
  • Planning – get the bigger picture down on paper – but be OK if it needs to tweaked or adjusted.
  • Technology savvy. There is really no way around this, it has become an expectation, especially in social media.
What about you? What skills do you think are needed for the L&D role in the future?

My Online Graduate Program: Semester 1

I am in my second semester at George Washington University.  I am studying to get my Masters of Education, Technology and Leadership. The program is great and the staff is really helpful to online students. This is a really perfect fit for me and where I want to go in the future.

 Honestly, I couldn’t wait to get started again in the program. I learned a lot in just one semester about technology, where we are headed, where we are, what the struggles are as organizations, institutions and more. I have also expanded my little bit of IT knowledge (little bit, meaning I know the difference between a hub and a switch. My husband is proud.).

Things I like

  • I get the whole week to do school, and at my leisure and when my schedule permits it – I can do school work during lunch breaks, after dinner, early Saturday morning, waiting at the airport. I really like this. A lot. My friend is in an MBA program at a local school, andshe has to drive to school three times a week (30 mins away from her each way) to sit and hear someone blab about whatever and then give you assignments they could have easily just sent via email. Hearing her horror stories of wasted time reminds me why I like GW.
  • The school week starts on Wednesday and ends Tuesday. This provides the whole weekend to work on projects. This worked really well. And I got used to the rhythm of the schedule. Plus I didn’t feel like I had to save Sunday and catch up on everything..
  • The diversity and background of students. Loved getting to know the different students from all over the world and in all types of walks of life. This was a diversity that a local university can usually not provide. Also being online community you have to connect alot more than in a normal class.
  • Collaborating in Real Time. Using the collaboration tools (see GoogleDocs Post)
  • Researching.  Being able to research and having it mean something. I spent time reading and researching things that I was actually interested (unlike undergrad) and I learned a lot about those things. (like Enterprise Collaboration, Social Media for education, and iPads in the classroom). I have some new topics for this semester, and am excited about those.

Things I dislike:

  • Missing Social Media Aspects. The web system doesn’t notify me when someone replies to a comment I have made. Maybe I am just accustomed to everything else I use that does it – So you have to log in, remember which thread you responded on and check to see if anyone read it. Also there aren’t any “liking” features. Since we get graded on participation, sometimes I just respond – “I like what you had to say.” or ” I agree”. This seems a silly post and I wish I should just like it.
  • Group Projects – just as in a real class, you have group projects. Sometimes they work great, and sometimes you end up on the phone scrambling around at the last second because someone isn’t pulling their weight.
  • Sometimes the content is outdated. This doesn’t just happen with online courses. But tonight I watched a video from 2002. That’s 9 years ago. This video has a note with an update  saying they don’t even use the technology any more. It wouldn’t be that hard for the profs to mix up and find fresh content.
  • Still having to go through power point slides. DEATH

Anyways, I am really excited for this next semester. I am taking Computers in Education and Human Development and a Research Class. I will keep you posted on what I learn this semester…

Next Generation of Training

So – I just returned home from the annual American Society of Training Development Conference – in Chicago. And I am beginning to take what I have learned and combine them into something greater – and easier for myself to reflect on later.  My team also had a great strategy session before leaving for the conference – talking about what does our company look like in 6 months and in 5 years – and what are we doing now to prepare for it. Just by taking that day out – and focusing on our internal team, will bring a clearer view even soon.

My top learning points about Next Generation Training:

  • Next Generation training – we don’t want to be just a free in-house resource
    • make the business want and need you
    • build scalable, global world-class solutions –
    • how can we help them help their customers
    • We as trainers, wear so many hats (consultant, coach, facilitator, elearning developer, instructional designer, technical writer, the list goes on) — we should probably get a hat rack!

  • Be the Business readiness leaders – help the corporation prepare for what is ahead. NOT JUST IN THE CLASSROOM!
    • Includes Change management
    • Training – formal and informal learning 
  •  Build a better report with helpdesk – to find REAL training needs
    • find where users are having errors, and help them become more productive
    • can use real metrics with this type of reporting      
  •  Online, user to user, collaboration – learning real-time, from experts
    • Don’t make me wait!
    • JIT instead of JIC
    • Enterprise 2.0 stragey – with or without social media
    • Informal learning & Mobile learning

Great video – Need to share!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1uct34fTKc4]

Did anyone else learn really great things that could apply back at the job? I think that’s the point of conferences…

We had a great time brainstorming on our train ride home – mostly about SoMe and how we could use small pieces of Social Media to integrate into what we already do… to think outside of the box with communication and getting end users to get it.

I am working on a publication now for my CIASTD friends – I am pretty excited about it. Funny thing is, what I start drafting, and how it actually turns out could be completely different.

Granny Smith

I am working on branding myself. I love granny smith apples and have decided to go that way. Not that I want to be looked at like a granny or a fruit – but that I want to be fresh, crisp and juicy. That may have come out wrong. But I want to learn and share things in a fresh, crisp manner. A way that will encourage other to do the same – in the classroom and throughout.  I just ordered new business cards – that will stand out. They are granny smith green – and vertical.  (I hope they look as good as they did online).  My favorite candies are sour green apple, and granny smith apples are the only ones I will eat. 

Granny Smith
Orchardist

Here is a picture of Granny Smith herself. She, like many others, never knew the sucess of her innovation during her lifetime. 

This blog will include things that I am learning about incoporating social media, generations and innovations into the classroom – whether it’s virtual or in a conference room. If you are interested also in Learning Development, Instructional Design, eLearning and Corporate Training – please let me know!

Please let me know if you have any suggestions – feel free to comment or follow me on Twitter.