Workplace Communication

In an era of Casual Fridays and work-from-home colleagues, how can you maintain effective office communication in a changing business climate?

We’ll steer you through changes in business etiquette, and help you successfully navigate through the new realities of workplace conflict and office politics.

Millions of companies and entrepreneurs are jumping into the social media world only to find their efforts aren’t capturing the results they’d hoped for. Half the battle is knowing which mistakes not to make. Here are the top 10 pitfalls companies make, according to Barry Libert, author of the new book Social Nation:

If your organization’s fiscal calendar works like many others, you’re right in the middle of the busiest time of the year. It’s budget season! While you’re reviewing past expenditures and making projections for 2011, don’t forget to factor in one of the most crucial aspects of the budget process: Convincing your chief financial officer to back your HR budget proposal.

Today’s economic climate has caused employers to cut budgets and workforces—and expect workers to do more with less. As they see colleagues laid off and their employers cutting back, employees are more concerned than ever about their own job security. It makes sense for employers to address stress issues in their workforces, since increased stress affects not only employees, but employers’ bottom lines.

Write more clearly and persuasively with this strategy, advises Lynn Gaertner-Johnston: Remember the “power of one idea.”  That is, one idea for each message, one idea for each paragraph, and one idea for each sentence. Here’s how to remake sentences using the “one idea” strategy.

“I’m worried the team won’t like my suggestions.” “I’m worried I didn’t give my boss enough time between flights.” “I’m worried they’ll eliminate my position.” Everybody worries sometimes, but too much worrying becomes a mental bad habit that costs time, money and personal sanity. What to do instead? Make worry WORK for you.

Become an effective networker even if you’re an introvert, writes Devora Zack, author of Networking for People Who Hate Networking ... Know when to use—and when to skip—skycaps while traveling ... Track your personal spending with two free online tools ... Give your “audience”—the people around you—a new, great story.
Q. Our company intends to provide gift baskets to valued customers during the holidays. Are they deductible and tax-free?

Social media can help you collect industry-based knowledge, reach new customers and build your brand. But those benefits come with their fair share of legal risks. You need a comprehensive social media policy to guide employees on your expectations about their online behavior, especially when that conduct occurs in the name of the organization.

Diplomacyposter A good piece of conventional wisdom for leaders used to be to never do, say or write anything down that you wouldn’t want to read on the front page of The Wall Street Journal.  Times have changed though. As this week’s WikiLeaks release of more than 250,000 U.S. State Department documents shows, there’s a pretty good chance that your recorded thoughts and actions can end up all over the internet in no time flat.

As reported in the New York Times and other major publications, the State Department memos contain some rather embarrassing details of how diplomacy gets done and some very candid assessments of individual world leaders.  For example, according to a summary in the Financial Times, the documents describe French president Sarkozy as having a “thin skinned and authoritarian personal style,” Russian president Medvedev  as “Robin” to Prime Minister Putin’s “Batman,” Afghan President Karzai as “an extremely weak man who does not listen to facts,” Italy’s PM Berlusconi as “feckless and vain,” and North Korea’s Kim Jong Il as a “flabby old chap.”

Since most of those observations could be made firsthand by anyone who follows international news, you sort of have to wonder what the value was in writing them down.  In any case, they were and now the apologizing is underway.  While it’s unlikely that your closeted skeletons will suddenly appear on WikiLeaks (although the probability of someone’s Facebook page or blog is much higher),  you’ve likely faced situations as a leader where your true thoughts inadvertently come out (You’ve probably learned the hard way that the recall button on that e-mail you just sent by “Reply All” doesn’t actually do anything).  In spite of all the lessons you’ve learned, it will probably happen again in the future.  If not that, then you may end up on the receiving end of someone else’s unintended candor.

Here are some suggestions on how to apologize in the first instance and why and how you should accept the apology in the second:

Next time someone asks, “So, what do you do?” toot your horn. Don’t hem and haw and answer with something like, “You probably won’t find this interesting, but ...,” Carol Roth writes.