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Negotiating as emotion management
Prof. dr. W.F.G. Mastenbroek
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How emotional are your business goals?


Some arguments against corporate blogging
Luc de Ruijter

Corporate blogs are like the corporate polls and forums from the haydays of the internet revolution. These were short lived hypes, well marketed by IT-vendors. What binds all these gimmicks is their lack of practical purpose other than the seemingly never ending quest for interaction amongst communication advisors.


Don't treat the symptoms, treat the illness
From:Richard Peters
Date:11-04-2007
Contribute:How emotional are your business goals?
Section:IT / Internet
Type:Article
Response:Reading your response, Luc, I'd like to clarify some of my writing. I think you paraphrased it quite nicely until you hit the core of my contribution, as follows:

"Those in charge should prevent nonsense blogs and promote sensible ones. Corporate blogging needs a sense of business motivated direction, which - in Peters reasoning - should come from management. [...] However, convincing the owners of online communication tools to set specific goals and targets for online communication is another issue to manage."

Well, that's not quite the point I wanted to make. In fact, absence of specific goals and targets for online communications really isn't the illness that needs a cure here. If you think that such goals and targets would do the job, think again. You'd also need regulations and control. Think about that. Wouldn't that only add to the far-too-many micro-management activities that are already suffocating employees and burning managers out?

Don't treat the symptoms, treat the illness.

It's the way in which most people in such organizations are undervalued, imprisoned, stifled, de-motivated and under-used that is the real illness to be cured here. Nonsense blogging (or Emergency Valve blogging as I would rather call it) is only one of the many symptoms that go with management's failure to really involve people in their tasks, their team goals and the company as a whole. There are many more symptoms, such as lack of bottom line results, low morale, high absenteeism due to illness, lack of loyalty to the company and unwillingness to allow for and support change. Like unproductive blogging, these symptoms can only be treated if the underlying illness is cured.

The illness, then, is that in these organizations people are not involved in defining the company's core drivers like purpose, values, goals and way of doing things - as a result of which they cannot relate to these important drivers from their own personal drivers (personal purpose, values, goals and competencies). How can people be expected to refrain from senseless activities if they are not motivated from the inside out to contribute? How can you expect people not to take on blogging as an emergency valve, an improper way to make themselves feel heard and important, if management fails to give employees the responsibility to define for themselves how their personal skills and talents can be best put to work for the company?

People need to be able to find and express their "Voice" - their uniqueness in talents and personal drive. If they cannot do so in a way that they themselves see as meaningful and productive, they will put up with a meaningless, unproductive way to find and express their "Voice". Some of them will keep this up for a long time, due to lack of awareness or to fear of change. Others may sooner or later realize that their working environment is an insult to human worthiness and dignity, and either quit or become the kind leader that others can take an example by.

So, if you can accept the value in these remarks, then you can see how your next paraphrase wonderfully adds more value to that, as you wrote:

"This needs leadership on an even higher level in organizations."

Leadership is the key, indeed. However, it's not "...awareness with current online trends..." that is too scarce on higher corporate levels. It's awareness and understanding of the wonderful possibilities and impossibilities of the human spirit that seems to be scarce. It's not just the right level (position) of leadership we're looking for here, it rather is the level of awareness and vision of the top leadership that is challenged.

Luckily, I see some signs that this is changing. More top executives than ever seem to be looking for ways to fully involve human potential. They understand that if they want to facilitate meaningful, productive and challenging communications among employees, they should not implement any tool for communications unless they have made sure that people have meaningful, productive and challenging jobs, the meaning and practicality of which these employees want to share and develop through it.

Don't expect the top leaders of a company to get acquainted with, and decide on the use of, trends in communications. That's just the HOW-part of it. Not they, but IT-experts and their managers are paid for that. It's the top executive level, however, that should decide on the WHY and WHEN of this idea first.
 
Treat the illness, not the symptoms
From:Richard Peters
Date:03-04-2007
Contribute:How emotional are your business goals?
Section:IT / Internet
Type:Article
Response:Reading your response, Luc, I'd like to clarify some of my writing. I think you paraphrased it quite nicely until you hit the core of my contribution, as follows:

"Those in charge should prevent nonsense blogs and promote sensible ones. Corporate blogging needs a sense of business motivated direction, which - in Peters reasoning - should come from management. [...] However, convincing the owners of online communication tools to set specific goals and targets for online communication is another issue to manage."

Well, that's not quite the point I wanted to make. In fact, absence of specific goals and targets for online communications really isn't the illness that needs a cure here. If you think that such goals and targets would do the job, think again. You'd also need regulations and control. Think about that. Wouldn't that only add to the far-too-many micro-management activities that are already suffocating employees and burning managers out?

Don't treat the symptoms, treat the illness.

It's the way in which most people in such organizations are undervalued, imprisoned, stifled, de-motivated and under-used that is the real illness to be cured here. Nonsense blogging (or Emergency Valve blogging as I would rather call it) is only one of the many symptoms that go with management's failure to really involve people in their tasks, their team goals and the company as a whole. There are many more symptoms, such as lack of bottom line results, low morale, high absenteeism due to illness, lack of loyalty to the company and unwillingness to allow for and support change. Like unproductive blogging, these symptoms can only be treated if the underlying illness is cured.

The illness, then, is that in these organizations people are not involved in defining the company's core drivers like purpose, values, goals and way of doing things - as a result of which they cannot relate to these important drivers from their own personal drivers (personal purpose, values, goals and competencies). How can people be expected to refrain from senseless activities if they are not motivated from the inside out to contribute? How can you expect people not to take on blogging as an emergency valve, an improper way to make themselves feel heard and important, if management fails to give employees the responsibility to define for themselves how their personal skills and talents can be best put to work for the company?

People need to be able to find and express their "Voice" - their uniqueness in talents and personal drive. If they cannot do so in a way that they themselves see as meaningful and productive, they will put up with a meaningless, unproductive way to find and express their "Voice". Some of them will keep this up for a long time, due to lack of awareness or to fear of change. Others may sooner or later realize that their working environment is an insult to human worthiness and dignity, and either quit or become the kind leader that others can take an example by.

So, if you can accept the value in these remarks, then you can see how your next paraphrase wonderfully adds more value to that, as you wrote:

"This needs leadership on an even higher level in organizations."

Leadership is the key, indeed. However, it's not "...awareness with current online trends..." that is too scarce on higher corporate levels. It's awareness and understanding of the wonderful possibilities and impossibilities of the human spirit that seems to be scarce. It's not just the right level (position) of leadership we're looking for here, it rather is the level of awareness and vision of the top leadership that is challenged.

Luckily, I see some signs that this is changing. More top executives than ever seem to be looking for ways to fully involve human potential. They understand that if they want to facilitate meaningful, productive and challenging communications among employees, they should not implement any tool for communications unless they have made sure that people have meaningful, productive and challenging jobs, the meaning and practicality of which these employees want to share and develop through it.

Don't expect the top leaders of a company to get acquainted with, and decide on the use of, trends in communications. That's just the HOW-part of it. Not they, but IT-experts and their managers are paid for that. It's the top executive level, however, that should decide on the WHY and WHEN of this idea first.
 
Re: People want to be heard
From:Luc de Ruijter
Date:14-03-2007
Contribute:How emotional are your business goals?
Section:IT / Internet
Type:Article
Response:Richard Peters makes a relevant point in arguing that it's not blogs that are the culprit, but the policy(makers) of corporate blogs. Peters puts a great deal of responsability for bad blogs in (bad) leadership. In general bad leadership causes employees to alienate from the organization. Blogging is used as a remedy to (re)create a sense of corporate identity. And this is a bit dodgy, because the motivation to blog corporately should be to contribute to business goals and not to compensate for a flaw in internal communication, or just to make one feel better (like a sense of togetherness). Those in charge should prevent nonsense blogs and promote sensible ones. Corporate blogging needs a sense of business motivated direction, which - in Peters reasoning - should come from management. Therefore it's not blogs that are a nuisance, but the content or meaning they contain.
I quite agree.
However, convincing the owners of online communication tools to set specific goals and targets for online communication is another issue to manage. This needs leadership on an even higher level in organizations. And frankly, awareness with current online trends is even more scarce on higher corporate levels...
 
Mensen willen gehoord worden
From:Richard Peters
Date:13-03-2007
Contribute:How emotional are your business goals?
Section:IT / Internet
Type:Article
Response:Een blog is op zich het probleem niet, de mensen ook niet. Het is de afstemming binnen de hele organisatie die tekortschiet. Het is een leiderschapsprobleem.

Mensen willen gehoord worden. Mensen willen hun ei kwijt, zowel in de zin van bijdragen aan waardevolle productie als in de zin van hun verhaal vertellen, hun gevoel en visie delen. Een organisatie die hoofdzakelijk top-down wordt bestuurd en gemanaged, creŽert gaandeweg dissociatie in alle richtingen: van mens tot organisatie, van mens tot mens en binnen de individu zelf. Het gevoel er persoonlijk toe te doen, ebt weg. De mens zal vervreemden van zijn werkgever, van zijn collega's en zelfs van zichzelf. In zo'n organisatie zullen mensen een corporatie blog aangrijpen om toch nog het gevoel te creŽren dat ze er toe doen, gehoord worden, iemand zijn, bijdragen. Dat is niet effectief, ik weet het, maar dat is wel hoe mensen zijn en doen. Daartegenover kun je je een organisatie voorstellen die veel meer bottom-up wordt gemanaged en ontwikkeld - waar het gewoon is dat mensen in grote mate hun eigen manier van werken bepalen. Waar managers minder managen en eerder inspirerend en faciliterend leiderschap tonen. Waar de top van de onderneming bereikbaar, belangstellend en transparant opereert en communiceert. Je kunt je misschien voorstellen dat in zo'n organisatie mensen werkelijk betrokken gefocussed zijn op zowel hun teamdoelen als de doelen van de hele organisatie, waardoor het gevoel van individuele verantwoordelijkheid en voldoening nog verder toeneemt. In zo'n organisatie hebben mensen geen behoefte maar wat raak te ouwehoeren, zoals dat in ondoelmatige corporate blogs, e-mails en vergaderingen gebeurt. Hun communicatie is hoofdzakelijk gericht op het uitwisselen van waarde (doelen halen, voldoening hebben in het succes) en het genereren van nog meer waarde. In zo'n empowerde organisatie zal het corporate blog als vanzelf welbewust en selectief worden gebruikt om echte waarde toe te voegen. Dat regelt zich vanzelf, er is immers zoveel moois en waardevols te doen voor alle betrokkenen, dat mensen helemaal geen zin hebben om zich met veel met geneuzel bezig te houden. Zij gebruiken hun corporate blog om relevante ideeŽn, ervaringen en successen uit te wisselen. De toon kan nog steeds luchtig en casual zijn, het is echter de BETEKENIS van de gecommuniceerde inhoud die het verschil maakt.

Er zijn steeds meer organisaties die opvallen door van-onder-af gevoed succes. Eťn organisatie die dit goed snapt is Google. Al haar medewerkers worden geacht een wezenlijk deel van hun tijd creatief, delend en spelend bezig te zijn, omdat uit de work force vrijwel dagelijks ideeŽn naar voren komen die de innovatieve en winst-genererende kracht van Google vormen en versterken.

De verschillen hoe in het functioneren van corporate blogs helpen dus aantonen hoe het met het leiderschapvermogen in en boven de betreffende organisatie is gesteld. Ineffectieve blogs? Ja, die zijn er, maar het blog of de gebruikers vormen niet het probleem niet. Het is een leiderschapsprobleem. Of liever, een leiderschapskans. Trek niet het verschijnsel blog in twijfel maar verbeter het leiderschap.
 

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