Monday, November 30, 2015

Leadership presence

A colleague of mine once interviewed for a senior position at Apple when Steve Jobs was CEO. I'll leave my friend's name out of this for obvious reasons.

When my friend showed up for the interview, Jobs was not prepared for the interview and didn't even seem to know my friend was there for an interview. After a twenty minute wait, my friend finally met Jobs for the interview. But Jobs wasn't exactly welcoming. Jobs immediately asked "Why are you here?" and was unable to find a copy of my friend's resume.

Over the next twenty minutes, my friend experienced an awkward interview laced with a few rude words and frankly obnoxious behavior. It wasn't a great reflection of a man who was hailed as a great CEO and savior of Apple Corp. Upon leaving the interview, my friend met other senior leaders at Apple who, when told of Jobs's behavior, said that it meant "Steve liked you."

I was reminded of my friend as I read an article from the BBC asking "Will Steve Jobs's management style get you to the top?" From the article:
By most accounts the new biopic of Steve Jobs is an accurate portrayal of a man who shouted down colleagues at meetings, was visibly impatient and dismissive of others' contributions... and yet he is lauded as perhaps the most successful entrepreneur of his generation.

So does being rude, ruthless and self-absorbed give you an advantage when it comes to getting ahead in business?

Quite the reverse, according to Professor Christine Porath, at the McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University.
Those who choose to imitate the brusque and obnoxious behavior of Apple's Steve Jobs do so at their peril. This kind of behavior is not only inappropriate for a work environment, it destroys any positive work culture in the office. Porath cites her research in saying staff "worked less hard if managers were rude to them." In an academic environment, with an equally toxic professor, "students given the brush-off by a professor were subsequently less successful at word puzzles."

But you can't always be everyone's friend. Leaders occasionally need to make unpopular decisions, or otherwise let their tempers show. I like to think I recognize my hot-button issues, so when I realize that I'm becoming frustrated I try to step back and approach an issue or disagreement from a different angle. I try to maintain a quiet calm when things go wrong, but I'm always clear that I'm disappointed, even angry.

From the article, David Rawlinson, founder of Restaurant Property, agrees "Losing your temper is a very powerful motivator sometimes" and "it's something I think you should use as a final straw." In my experience, I think I've rarely "exploded" over an issue. It can get results when a calm demeanor failed to, but I find these are short term gains. As leaders, we need to work through our disagreements and our issues calmly, and address the underlying problems, in order to address long-term change.

What leadership presence do you use? Leadership is sometimes a performance. Do you maintain a calm exterior, or are you quick to emotional outbursts?

I recommend you exercise emotional intelligence, and work with mentors to identify your own hot buttons. When you can recognize your own emotional reactions, you can find ways to redirect those emotions to more positive outcomes. Be leaderful, even in frustration.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Social media as support

A new article in CRM Magazine caught me by surprise: "Social media is now a viable support channel." The articles opens with a description of how Hyatt Hotels leverages social media for customer engagement. "If you are talking about one of our hotels while you are staying in our hotel, we will respond," says Dan Moriary, director of social strategy at Hyatt Hotels. Hyatt also uses social media as a way to engage more personally, from pillow preferences to service.

The article goes on to highlight statistics of customer engagement on Twitter and Facebook, including five million customer tweets and 350,000 Facebook posts went unanswered in the last quarter. The rest of the article encourages customer-savvy brands to use social media to better engage with customers, current and future. People are increasingly using social media to communicate directly with the companies they rely on.

This is where the article surprised me, because I thought we were already there. Perhaps it comes from working on a university campus, but we see students engaging with each other and with companies through social media all the time. Millennials aren't "increasing" their social media usage, they are already there.

One example: A friend reached out to her family vet via social media after their dog ate something bad for her. Starting with texts, she quickly progressed to Twitter to share details about the plant her dog ate, and how much, including photos. Someone from an older generation (including me) might have called the vet, and spoken to someone directly. But today's generation are happy to engage electronically.

Our students do this, too. Whether through Twitter or Facebook or even YikYak, we see university students using social media to air complaints and raise questions. Our Helpdesk uses Chat as a way for students, faculty, and staff to ask questions. And our Library uses a similar Chat service to respond to patrons. We haven't yet implemented Twitter for the Helpdesk or Library, but I predict this won't be too far off.
image: Twitter

Monday, November 9, 2015

Fall 2015 TeAchnology Workshop Series

I wanted to share this announcement of the Fall "technology in education" workshop series. The offices of the Briggs Library, Center for Small Towns, Information Technology, and Instructional and Media Technologies are pleased to announce the Fall 2015 Teachnology Series. The following sessions are being offered, free-of-charge, to UMM faculty and staff:

Fri. Nov. 6, noon–1:00
Part 1: Quick Qualtrics Introduction
Discuss the benefits of using Qualtrics from basic survey building to distribution to reporting.
Tues. Nov. 10, 10:30–11:30
Google Drive: Sharing and Collaborating
Google Drive makes sharing your files simple. If you want to send a file or folder to someone so that they can view, edit, or comment on it, you can share it with them directly in Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, or Slides, or through a link or email attachment. It also allows multiple people to edit the same file, and chat with each other for real-time collaboration. ​We will give you some helpful tips and allow time for Q&A and hands-on practice. ​​
Fri. Nov. 13, noon–1:00
Part 2: Qualtrics
Open session. Bring your questions! We will offer some ‘Tips & Tricks’ as well as ‘10 things you wish you knew about Qualtrics’ before you started your survey.
Tues. Nov. 17, 4:00
Universal Design: Creating Accessible Documents
In this hands-on session, you will learn how to create and adapt your documents while following Universal Design principles.
Thurs. Nov. 19, 10:30–11:30
Using Google Sheets & Forms
You'll learn about the different ways you might use spreadsheets and how to navigate the Google Sheets interface. We will cover the basic ways to work with cells and cell content. Then, we’ll move on to Google Forms where you can learn how to plan your next trip, manage event registrations, whip up a quick poll, collect email addresses for a newsletter, create a pop quiz, and much more.
Mon. Nov. 23, noon–1:00
WebEx: How to Schedule and Host a Meeting
We will provide an introduction to WebEx, the University's web conferencing system, and give you some useful​ tips for hosting your own meetings.
Mon. Nov 30, noon–1:00
Active Directory: ABC; Easy as one, two, three
A basic introduction and overview of how Active Directory (AD) is used on the Morris campus. We will address benefits AD provides for end users and identify some cool things we are automatically configuring for lab, classroom, and office workstations. An open-ended Q&A period follows a short presentation—bring your lunch and your questions!

Reducing spam

Are you seeing more spam in your inbox? This has been an ongoing problem for the last few weeks. I wanted to share this brief update from our email team:
As you know, University email users have experienced an increased number of spam messages in their inboxes since the Gmail outage last week. We’ve identified the root cause of the issue and today began applying increased spam filtering. Users should notice a decrease in the amount of spam reaching their inboxes. Currently, we estimate there is a 400 percent increase in the number of messages sent to the user’s spam folder. We believe we are stopping the most harmful messages. Our spam-blocking capability will continue to become more effective as we monitor, receive feedback, and adjust our filters.

The team has more work to do to resolve this issue and will continue to update the community as we make progress.
I know that spam in your inbox is annoying. But I'd also like to put this problem in perspective: The University of Minnesota Morris has used Google Apps for Education (Gmail) since 2010. While we had pretty good spam filters before, junk emails all but completely disappeared from our inboxes once we moved our email service to Gmail.

Over the last several weeks, I have received an additional four or five spam emails every day in my inbox. I compare that to the amount of valid emails I get every day that do belong in my inbox, and four or five junk emails doesn't seem too bad.

The stressor here is twofold:
  1. We got used to not seeing spam in our inboxes. So when we start to see junk emails in our inboxes, it's annoying.
  2. It's been a fairly constant four or five spam emails per day for the last several weeks. And that rate seems to stay the same over the weekends, so on Mondays (like today) we need to delete more junk emails. And that's annoying too.

I know that the increase in spam has been a problem for all of us. I appreciate your patience as we work to return your email inbox to normal.
image: notoriusxl