Posts Tagged ‘management’

Is There Really Cross-Cultural Communication?

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

7066445_sAs a corporate director of global marketing, a former Coke executive (in 190 countries around the world) and an instructor of Global Marketing at UCLAx: I could not be more cross-culturally inclined. So, with all the authority that I can muster, I tell you this.

There is zero communication between people of different countries or cultures.

To be successful, you must start with the belief that you are not just talking a different language than the other party: you are talking about concepts that you in no way share with anyone from another country or culture. Of course, culture means you don’t have to step outside your own office or Skype to dust up the differences.

What differs between cultures? The meaning of everything.

“Funds are being wired to you today.” That has no meaning whatsoever.

Neither do documents they sign. Leases. Contracts. Approvals.

Nor conventional business practices like paying employees. Paying rent. Paying any bill. Bank accounts having money in them. Reimbursing expenses. Having reasonable inventory on hand. Gluten-free, fragrance free and sulfate-free.

None of those concepts are universal.

In fact, the violation of what may seem like really basic business 101 procedures, or illegal business practices and ethics to you? Not even close to what the other party believes the definitions or boundaries are.

Hence, among the questions I ask most in global business right now is this.

How MANY is amazing? This in response to:

“We had an amazing response at the trade show.”

“We have an amazing number of products in our line.”

“The media coverage was amazing.”

Once again, I ask. How many is amazing?

Because, as a classically trained and practicing marketer: I have metrics on my mind. Simple ones like: we need a specific number of qualified prospects to sign up as actual customers, to generate measurable income to sustain or grow a business.

Of course, growth is anther concept that is not universal.

For me, growth means more revenue and profit. Increasing the product line, when you see evidence of sales from other products. Expanding to other countries as your current markets generate the income to do so.

Silly me.

Because metrics don’t mean a thing if the other party simply rages at vendors who want to be paid. Not apologetic. They get righteously angry at an unpaid vendor who won’t ship more? Who knew? They want you to convince the vendor, landlord, or clients that zero is one million dollars? Apparently this is done in other lands, just not one on planet Earth as I know it.

So fair warning. Do not believe anything from anyone. Do not think you heard what you heard, even though you recorded the conversation (with everyone’s permission). Listening to that audio over and over to see what went wrong? It will only drive you insane.

In order to have any communication, you have to believe you have nothing in common: not language, not meaning, and not intention. It’s exactly as Jim Camp says in his book about successful negotiations among any two parties, Start with NO!

As the distance between us all grows smaller, because WhatsApp, Skype, Facetime and jet airplanes make the world seem like we are all in this together: you realize one thing.

How far from each other we truly are.

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Evil Does Exist. It May be One of Your Coworkers.

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

14383290_sNarcissists are among the most interesting coworkers. They are also repugnant, disruptive and poisonous to a business, and potentially to your career. That is, if your narcissist sees you as anything except a reflection of his or her greatness. So, you must interact with your narcissist as if everything she does deserves nothing but positive regard and appreciation. Otherwise, expect that your narcissist will attempt to destroy you.

Actually, no matter what you do: your narcissist will attempt to destroy you.

Our office narcissist has picked on everyone except me. That is, until Friday. Then, she pointed her ugly, crazy, manic, depressed, stressed-out-because-I-don’t-have-enough-work-to-do-but-I-have-too-much-work-to-do tantrum in front of me. This came right after it took me 30 seconds to find an important corporate contract that an investor said he needed. It had been created long before I arrived. Our narcissist said the document didn’t exist. After all, she had spent 5 days “looking for it.”

So there I was holding it in my hand after near-zero effort to get it. And my ease of finding it tripped the venom in her mouth to spew. At one point there were words like “you never had a friend” and “you think you know everything” coming like projectile vomit at me. “Stop,” I said. “Go away. I have to get this document to the investor.”

Ten minutes later, she walked by my office and stopped in the doorway. “Oh,” she said. “You’re still working? It’s after hours – do you want me to stay and help you?”

A dead calm hit me.

And in that moment of pure serenity, I had the epiphany.

OMG. She’s a malignant narcissist! A rare breed.

These are people who work to make trouble and cause distress, then reverse on you to suddenly become helpful and appear goodnatured. M. Scott Peck does a great job of describing malignant narcissists in his book, People of the Lie.

The thesis of Peck’s monumental work is this. These people are the evil in the human race.

They have a self-image of perfection. Excessive intolerance of criticism. Scapegoating. Disguise and pretense. Intellectual deviousness. Greed. Coercion and control of others. Symbiotic relationships. Lack of empathy.

So it took two months to actually “diagnose” her, just in time for our malignant narcissist to give her 30 days notice. When we gratefully accepted? She changed her mind. After all, as a malignant narcissist: you believe giving and taking back your resignation would be your right.

This will be an eventful week. We anticipate lots of (false) accusations, blaming, crying, sick days, and precision attacks on the character of others. That is, after all, how we went from “Isn’t she amazing?” to “What’s wrong with her?” At least now we are over the confusion – which is the first sign that you have an malignant narcissist.

She’s not crazy. She’s not suffered any misfortune. She is simply a bad apple, as organizational psychologist Adam Grant calls these folks. Or evil, as the renowned psychiatrist Peck calls them.

For the rest of us good eggs, it’s been a startling realization.

So, if you have been confused, aggravated and disrupted by a co-worker, subordinate or superior: wow! Isn’t it nice to know there’s a diagnosis for these folks? And, as a boss I find it reassuring to learn there is no amount of training, no amount of support and even no magnitude of praise that I could muster to help her.

I had a plant like this in the outer reaches of my property at home. The plant is called poison ivy. It makes you itch, blister and scar. It looks benign, even nice. But, it’s poisonous. Just have to cut it out. Then the rest of the plants can blossom.

And so we will.

 

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Eliminate Excruciating Problems Fast With 1 Simple Rhyme

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

39788261_sYou know how badly you need some go-to life hacks that really work.

We all do. We need super effective strategies that don’t involve buying one more app, signing up for a new dashboard or watching instructions on YouTube.

You certainly don’t need to be touted about TaskRabbit or Fiverr or any of these so-called insta-help services, because they actually involve a ton of communication and constant checking up. You can quit pretending that a stranger is somehow committed to your success for the princely sum of 5 bucks.

I have coached people through a tidal wave of their worst problems. Some of them were involved in hundreds of micro-projects because big success is often a process of taking countless small steps.

What’s worse at this time in your life? You don’t have an abundance of anything. You don’t have a lot of space, money, time or support.

You are beginning to feel a weird kinship with whomever said, “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.”

You ARE doing most everything yourself. It’s the way work is set up now. You and everyone else are supposed to do more with less. That means less of you to do more of anything.

It’s like you are no longer a person, but more like a self-cleaning oven. You’re pressured to make it, bake it and clean it up fast. Then: next!

So I assembled one simple set of 11 rhyming words that can instantly cue an abundance of solutions.

These words stand in for heavy lifting like: project management, increased productivity, people skills, and perfected processes.

Whatever is stopping you cold or making you pull out your hair, see if any of these words lead you to a fast way past a problem you’re stuck on.

1. Mending (making a quick fix)

2. Sending (getting it off your desk)

3. Depending (on someone else to handle)

4. Lending (or borrowing)

5. Bending (think rules or “normal” ways of doing things)

6. Fending (off and avoiding certain people entirely)

7. Pending (leaving open to see if it’s really worth tackling)

8. Rendering (doing a quick draft and letting it go)

9. Tending (improving rather than wasting)

10. Vending (sell, sell, sell)

11. Wending (finding a way out, to do what you REALLY want to do)

That’s my 11 word rhyming solution set for life hacking some of the projects, processes and people who are driving you nuts, and weighing you down.

Love to hear if you have other action words that get you over the humps (rhyming or not). Email: Nance@NanceRosen.com. Subject line: Problems

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If You Can Do This, You Win

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

thumbsup1What does everyone want more of?

Think about the power you would wield, if you knew the answer. What if you knew what everyone secretly and truly wants? What is it that they’re not saying aloud to anyone, but keeping as a dark secret?

Go one step further and imagine if you could DELIVER what everyone wants!

Now here’s news that’s disappointing but not surprising. According to the New York Times, you can simply Google “being more” and find out the answer. So many people have typed: “being more …” into this search engine, that Google autocompletes “being more” with these top three answers:

1. Being more confident

2. Being more assertive

3. Being more productive

Do you have one of these “being more” goals? Do you want to be more sure of yourself? Do you want to be a better advocate for yourself? Do you want to get more out of every hour you dedicate to work?

These are the top three things that most people want. So, it’s likely you do as well.

However, the real use of this information is not for your own navel-gazing. The most beneficial insight is how you can use this knowledge about what other people want to develop rewarding relationships with them.

No matter what you do: frame it with these top three goals in mind. Discuss what you do in terms of confidence, assertiveness and productivity. Don’t define yourself by what you actually do, or the features or functions of your product or service that deliver results.

For example, a dentist isn’t selling his ability to fill cavities – instead he’s selling confident good looks. A prospective intern isn’t offering to help with social media – instead she’s offering to assert a company’s message to prospects, customers, media and investors. A business consultant isn’t recommending a new project management system – instead she’s boosting your productivity or the productivity of your workforce and systems.

What happens when you speak in terms of what other people truly want? What happens when you offer to deliver one of the three things they rarely admit to needing?

Simply put: you win.

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Why Your Left Hand Hates Your Right Hand

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

400-04590123erIn a typical population, left-handers make up about 15%.  Of course, not every population is typical.

  • Among the five designers of the first Apple computer, four are left-hand dominant.
  • Three of the last five presidents are left-handed.
  • In a group of alcoholics, left-handers triple their typical representation.

So, your left hand might have a lot of interesting stats, but odds are you’re right-handed,  so it’s likely you ignore it unless you really need… an extra hand.

On the other hand….

Your right hand pretty much stars in life’s events. It shakes all the other hands that are stuck out to welcome you. It gets supported in those little desk-chair units at school. Scissors are made for it, no special request needed. It waves hello and good-bye.

Actually, given all the action your right hand sees – your left hand might be jealous.

Sounds nonsensical, doesn’t it? Your hands are simply doing what comes naturally. It’s silly to think that something underhanded (ha!) is going on.

So, let’s get serious. What does your left hand have to do with your attitude about other people at work?

Like your body parts, your co-workers are functioning largely as they are naturally inclined to do. Some are quiet. Some seem to dominate every meeting. Some seem to be incapable of helping when you need boxes carried or midnight oil burned. Some seem to want to jump in (lend a hand?), anytime you look stressed.

Sure, some of us have better titles, more initials after our names and bigger spaces to work in. Some of us have special training and skills. Those attributes don’t change our nature. Largely we each are doing what we do, as we are naturally inclined to do it.

So stop being mad at everyone who acts differently than you want them to. When you stop taking others actions so personally, you become a much happier person. A person who is more in control of yourself, and your career trajectory.

The next time someone infuriates you, maybe you could take a breath and think:

Wow. Just like my own left hand. It often isn’t strong enough or quick enough to do what I need. That’s the way things are.

What does that take? Charity. Patience. Compassion. Three personal branding qualities that you want to keep in mind and on hand.

(With my apologies to left-handers!)

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Why Your Boss Probably Hates You

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

angry bossAs a career coach specializing in communication, I’m presented with a wide spectrum of work stories. Some end in, “I don’t know why my boss hates me.”  Variations on this are:

  • My supervisor hates me
  • The project manager hates me
  • The recruiter seemed to hate me
  • Everybody at work hates me

Of course, hate is an awfully big and painful word. Most often given some details, I realize hate isn’t the appropriate word. It’s more accurate to describe the situation as:

  • I get a weird feeling from her
  • There’s a lot of tension at the office
  • I don’t like the way I’m treated
  • I don’t get recognized for doing my job

So it’s not hate, but there are a lot of negative feelings between managers and staff, or business owners and employees. A lot of suspicious, unfriendly recruiters.

Where do these negative feelings come from? What could be the origin of so many employees feeling underappreciated and undervalued?

You probably have never done anything wrong at work, but consider all the people who have come before you. They trained your boss to be skeptical, distrusting, and irritated by the mistakes, waste, slacking and even outright lies some employees dole out.

I got a call on Sunday evening from a business owner as he was getting off the roof of his building, taking care of the endless chores associated with running a physical therapy practice. He had cleaned the exterior of the building, swept out the parking lot, folded towels, put away piles of files that were laying behind the front desk, and was about to take a shower before completing the charts he prepares each evening before he meets clients the next day.

“I pay a lot of people,” he said. “When they’re broke or in trouble, they come to me for loans – and I always say yes. I accommodate their school schedules, friends’ wedding plans that take them off shift, sick days and everything else they feel free to ask of me. They ask me for advice, and I always make time for them.”

“Now, I’m doing maintenance and chores that the cleaning crew left, my staff overlooked and it’s all things my clients see. Some days it’s really clear that no one really cares about me or this company. Maybe a few people do on occasion, but four years is a long time to learn that unless you’re hard on people, they take it easy.”

No, this doesn’t mean YOU take it easy at work. It just means people who can’t avoid being held accountable like a manager or business owner may be worn out by the staff who came before you.

Getting a weird vibe at work? Make a contract with yourself to do a really good job everyday and to look for one more thing to do, that’s outside your specific duties. Let your boss or the recruiter learn that you are that one in a million, the person who really understands that work is more than a paycheck.

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Do You Deserve a Better Job?

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

29302409_sYou will not always do what you are doing now. You will go on to as many as seven distinct careers, ten to fifteen different jobs, perhaps a dip or dive into your own entrepreneurial venture and hopefully, some significant philanthropy.

That’s why the thing that you do, what you actually accomplish at work, may not be all that interesting to the people you’ll meet in the future.

It’s likely the job you have now won’t even exist in the future.

What will exist into the future? Your character, intelligence and persistence.

So, if you are seeking something grander than the job you have now: don’t focus on the nuts and bolts of what you do when given the chance to talk about yourself. Recruiters, hiring managers, investors and graduate school interviewers are listening to your stories to ascertain your core values and evidence of your curiosity, focus, friendliness, good manners, and empathy.

We care about the inspiration for your aspirations.

We want to know what’s in that portable device you carry with you all the time: your brain.

So, when you’re asked, “What do you do?” or “What did you do at Acme Insurance?” make sure to follow up your job title, with HOW you do your job. That’s where the secrets about you are, when it comes to your character, intelligence and resilience.

More than any special skill or vast amount of knowledge you’ve accumulated in a field like engineering or a function like social media manager, it’s your ability to articulate your analytical process and decision-making that’s really important.

The big winners in any occupation, profession or venture are people who can crisply say why they act the way they do, and how their behavior has changed as they learned more and held greater sway.

Simply put: the most desirable candidates are brimming with personal insights.

So, spend some time reflecting on the how and why of what you do. Then, be ready to explain how your thinking and working processes – not your duties – are your real assets.

Those of us in your future, want to welcome you to it.

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SnapChat CEO Reveals Secret Behind Disappearing Function

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

17034072_sIt’s no surprise where the idea for instantly erasing texts came from. SnapChat CEO Evan Spiegel had a secret buried in his past that explains the whole concept.

Last week Stanford University ProvostJohn Etchemendy cast a much wider net around the filthy email trail left by Spiegel from his college days. It’s not just regrettable what Spiegel “thought” (that women were sluts and then some). It’s not just repugnant that he needed to broadcast his impressions, along with instructions to his fraternity brothers about how to take action against women.

What the Stanford provost brings to our attention is how many people received the emails that were “crude, offensive and demeaning to women.” And, all those men seeing those emails, didn’t one have a sister or mother? Didn’t one have a friend in a sorority house?

Not one person spoke up and said: “Hey, that’s disgusting. Stop it. We’re better than this.”

Truth is, this derogatory speech goes on all the time.

Not just about women. Not just about minorities. About  anyone who is different. Anyone not in power at the moment. Not in the clique, or the club, or the boardroom, or wherever there’s potential to put down someone who somehow is different.

Mean boys are no different than mean girls. Bullies all of them.

What’s worse is that we let them say their piece, and we never speak up. Even if we don’t agree, or don’t find it funny – we are loathe to say to the bully: Stop.

The Stanford provost wants us to be better than this. It’s not enough to ignore it. Or pretend you didn’t hear it or read it.

If you don’t speak up, you are part of the problem.

I spent a good part of last year policing a client. He is a good man in a very angry time of his life. The result was some mean-spirited blogs and posts. I never let one go by. I urged, hectored and insisted he remove them. We finally decided we could not work together.

That’s why it’s hard to speak up. Because you will not hear: “Thank you, you brought me to my senses!” You will however replace that client, friend, club, or whatever it is you’ll give up for something better.

That’s the lesson. Do what’s right, even if you did nothing wrong.

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