Blog

Category: Motivation

Summer Reading List for Communicators (or Wannabes)

Looking forward to some time off this summer? While you’re relaxing at the beach or enjoying an early start to the weekend with Summer Fridays, make time to sharpen your skills. Each of these books listed below will help you become a more effective communicator and leader.

Inclusion: Diversity, the New Workplace and the Will to Change, Jennifer Brown
This book could not be more timely. Every successful business must ensure that all employees experience a welcoming work environment where they can perform at their best and are challenged to grow. Jennifer shares best practices and business cases that inclusion is an opportunity to make your business better. Share the book with peers at your business and start a conversation.

Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to your Biggest Challenges, Amy Cuddy
You may know Amy from her viral TED Talk where she contends that adopting a power pose, like Wonder Woman, can actually make feel more confident. Her book expands on this premise with practical tips for anyone who has to pitch themselves or their ideas. If you think of a witty retort after the moment passes, this book is for you.

Slide:ology: The Art and Science of Great Presentations, Nancy Duarte
Raise your hand if you’ve sat through presentations that include 50+ slides. For years I wrapped this book up as a holiday gift to clients, hoping they would read it and realize you don’t have to put paragraphs on slides. Nancy Duarte has carved out a unique niche as a presentation expert. If that doesn’t seem very exciting, consider that within corporations, presentations are the most used channel for delivering information. This book will help you strategize the story, content, and flow to impact and influence your audience.

Sell with a Story, Paul Smith
We can all agree that storytelling is a powerful communications tool. But it takes practice to create stories that instruct, inspire and ignite action. Smith provides fascinating examples on you can take even the most technical, data-driven content and fashion a memorable story.

What are you reading this summer? Send me your picks: Maureen.Clayton@insight-communication.com.

A Thought as We Welcome 2018

The first week after the holidays is always painful.  So here’s something to lift your spirits.  Our first bit of advice for 2018 is from the master essayist Emerson who has deeply influenced leaders, thinkers and communicators for more than 100 years.  Tuck this away for when you need some inspiration.

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Build Workplace Culture by Communicating Gratitude

This month as we focus on Thanksgiving, consider the power of gratitude in your workplace. Before your thoughts turn to friends, family and football, spend a few minutes thinking about how appreciation can make a difference to your business.

Tom Peters was so right when he noted “People don’t forget kindness.” It’s the same with gratitude.  The power of a sincere thank you cannot be overestimated. In a recent study on employee engagement, the top factor of job satisfaction was respectful treatment of employees at all levels.  Second on the list was trust between employees and management.  If you practice the first item, you achieve the second one.

It takes conscious effort to build a culture where every employee feels appreciated.  We all like to be noticed for the good things we do.  People who feel appreciated believe their work makes a difference.  They are more willing to go the extra mile because they know someone notices.

Making gratitude visible is a step you can build into your internal communications.  Here are three ideas:

Appreciation by senior leadership—Create a year-end video of the senior management team thanking team members for their service this year.  Get out of the office and film it with front line workers.  Switching the wardrobe from suits and ties to ugly Christmas sweaters and elf ears will create smiles for years to come.

Appreciation by managers—Write a thank you note.  It’s low tech, but more effective than a gift card.  Be specific about how the individual contributes to the team.  Not only will your employee appreciate the gesture, they will know that you are paying attention.

Appreciation by team members—It feels great to say thank you.  That’s why peer-to-peer recognition programs are motivating to employees.  They strengthen a culture of support, collaboration and achievement.  Peer recognition programs should tie to your company values.  Tailor the program to your business, but make the recognition defined, public and fun.

The power of gratitude is a multiplier.  When you recognize people for their contributions, they perform better, trust grows and so does your workplace culture.

Summer Hours: A Perk Your Team Will Love

Our office is located in downtown Roswell and typically by 2 p.m. on a Friday afternoon the streets are already beginning to fill with people getting an early start to their weekend.  If you’re like me, once Friday afternoon arrives and the out-of-office auto-reply emails from clients start hitting your inbox, your mind begins to wander.

No matter what business you’re in, it’s likely that your employees begin thinking about weekend plans early on a beautiful summer Friday afternoon.   Many companies now offer the inexpensive but morale boosting benefit of flexible summer work scheduling often known as “Summer Hours.”

A recent survey by CEB revealed that 42 percent of companies now officially sanction starting the weekend early, up 21 percent in 2015.

Offering a Summer Hours policy is an economical perk that builds engagement and can improve company culture. Typically summer hours schedules run from Memorial Day to Labor Day.  This is also the most common time of the year for employees to take a vacation.  So how can your company introduce a summer hour work schedule?  It’s important to recognize that one plan will not work for every company.  Tailor your specific program to what will work best for your company and employees.

Here are a few idea and suggestions for implementing a summer hours program at your company:

Longer weekdays for time off on Friday.  Employees work extra hours Monday through Thursday in exchange for a half day or the whole day off on Friday.  Employees still work 40 hours total. This method allows each employee to decide the schedule that fits their needs.  Employees can choose to opt in or out of the program depending on what works best for them.

Every other Friday off.  Stagger days so that half of the office is off on one Friday and the other half is off the next Friday.  This is a useful program for companies that see a dip in their workload during the summer, especially on Fridays.

Holiday half days. Many companies embrace a summer holiday half day policy.  This gives their employees a half day off the day before Memorial Day weekend, July 4th, and Labor Day weekend.  In many cases, there’s not much work going on during this period anyway and employees have more time to spend with friends and family.

Friday half days. Is there anything better than receiving an email informing you that you can take a half on Friday? Not every company will have the flexibility to introduce a full summer hours schedule.  If you can’t implement one of these programs but would still like to reward your employee choose a Friday where business is slow and give your employees the afternoon off.

Does your business offer flexible work schedules?  Send us your stories: ben.clayton@insight-communication.com

Your 2017 Summer Reading List: Books and Podcasts for Leaders

You pick up many new and fascinating concepts while at college. Most lectures eventually are forgotten, but some things stay with you forever. One memorable bit of advice a professor gave me was that good ideas should be shared, studied, and reused.

Summer is the perfect time to read about the strategies of successful leaders. So take some time in the next few weeks–while curled up in a sleeping bag or lounging poolside—to dive into a good book like one of these to guide your communications and leadership development.

  • True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership—Bill George and Peter Sims. True leadership requires you to be true to yourself. Bill George and Peter Sims take the stories of entrepreneurs and titans of industry to show how following your internal compass can lead you to succeed and inspire.
  • O Great One!: A Little Story About the Awesome Power of Recognition—David Novak. David Novak outlines the simple yet meaningful effect of acknowledging and appreciating the actions of one’s colleagues. This amusing, straightforward book is a must for anyone who aspires to lead.
  • The Storytellers Secret—Carmine Gallo.  Gallo is one of my personal favorites because he writes about communications. This book showcases stories and techniques from some of today’s most successful brand leaders. A fantastic resource for anyone who wants to make an effective presentation or speech.
  • Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action—Simon Sinek.  A tie-in with the popular TED talk of the same name, this inspiring book charts the common connections of effective leaders and influencers.

For those of you who dread reading, try a podcast.  Here are two of our favorites. The TED Radio Hour is a collection around a central theme.  Each TED Talk is a little jewel.  No matter your interests, this podcast will spark creativity and fresh thinking.

How I Built This is a kind of “my true life story” interview with the creators of some of the world’s best loved brands. The backstories and challenges are sometimes more inspiring than the success their businesses achieved.