World Business Forum 2010

world business forum 2010Six weeks ago, I received an invitation to be a featured blogger at the 2010 World Business Forum, which is being held October 5th and 6th at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Come to find out, this is an invitation-only opportunity offered to a select group of top business bloggers and establishes a membership amongst the WBF10 Bloggers Hub.

As I read over the invite, I was uncertain if it was actually true. I expressed gratitude for kindly extending the invitation to attend the forum and asked why I was chosen to attend, as for I felt that I had yet to contribute anything of significance to the leadership community. Micheal Singer replied with: “I found your blog on someone else’s blogroll, and I took a brief look and liked what I saw. We’re looking for interesting viewpoints. And while many of our bloggers have institutional ties and recognition, etc., we also want some new voices. This is a great opportunity to stretch your voice and reach some new people if you want the opportunity. It’s that simple.”

Past speakers in the World Business Forum include political figures such as Bill Clinton, Kofi Annan, Rudy Giuliani, Tony Blair and Colin Powell, CEOs such as Jack Welch, Richard Branson, Herb Kelleher and John Chambers, financial experts Alan Greenspan and Jeremy Siegel as well as management experts Tom Peters, Peter Drucker and Jim Collins among others. This year’s World Business Forum boasts a dynamic agenda and a dizzying array of speakers, including former U.S. Vice-President/Nobel Prize Recipient Al Gore; Avatar director James Cameron; Blue Ocean Strategy co-author Renée Mauborgne and more than a dozen other exciting thought leaders spanning the spectrum of world business.

After inquiring with the management company responsible for putting together the forum, I found that as a member of the WBF10 Bloggers Hub, I will be spending two days with a bird’s eye view of these thought leaders as they explore the latest trends and changes in global business today. The Hub will also offer me an unparalleled opportunity to share their insights with my audience via blog, twitter, etc… something very important to me, as for its readers just like you that keep me at this.

To see a list of the bloggers who participated last year and to read a sample of their posts, visit the World Business Forum’s Blogger Hub; you can find complete details about WBF10, including all the conference speakers and topics here.

2, 4, 6, 8; Time To Recalibrate!

leadership planThe other day I received an e-mail notification that my domain name for this blog is up for renewal. This triggered me to go back and review my blog postings and perform a quick personal inventory. While I was reading over each of my previous posts, it reminded me why I began blogging and what my short and long-term goals were. Being completely honest, I had no idea what I was getting myself into and what the future had in store. Here is a short list of phases and their descriptions I encountered along the way:

  1. Establish the basics and define the overall navigation around WordPress and find ways to define core values, identity, and overall content.
  2. Create an identity for the blogosphere to answer the following question: “Who is Geoff Snyder?“
  3. Learn about theme layouts, plugins, basic SEO, linking, and VERY basic HTML and PHP coding.
  4. Understand proper social media etiquette and sincere engagement, while also learning how to automate.
  5. Discover the importance of RSS feeds and their subscribers.

Staying true to the core values and beliefs while collaborating with other like-minded individuals.
Research, read, discuss, read some more, collaborate, and most importantly…stay proactive!
Now that I think I have the swing of things and have been lurking around the blogosphere, I’ve decided to add some personality…make this something personal, find ways to materialize what I’ve gathered into something meaningful, opposed to writing robotic “content friendly” posts simply to appease the search engines’ crawlers.

With that said, I must express my deep, sincere gratitude for the wonderful people I’ve encountered along the way. The level of friendly engagement has made me realize the power of blogging, the world of social media (twitter, facebook, linkedin, etc…), and how social networking has the ability to bring together so many people that we never knew existed. The level of synergy that is available to us is extremely powerful. With the tools of a laptop, an internet connection, the motivation to seek like-minded people, as well as the passion to help others achieve their goals, I am convinced that there is absolutely nothing that cannot be achieved.

Now, I know that the last sentence of the previous paragraph may have some overtones of the cliche our parents told us for all those years: “You can do anything that you put your mind to.” Well, it’s true and the efforts and their results far outweigh the consequences of living in fear or sustaining a lack of confidence. I know, I’ve been there a few times throughout my short life and I am so thankful for those who’ve been there to help pick me back up and support me during those dark times.

I’m going to go ahead and wrap this post up with a couple words: Dream Big.

Call me “Juno” if you will, call me a post-modernist, or call me some new age yuppie type…but we’re in the 21st century and the rules have changed. Globally, as Robert Dickie recently tweeted: “We did not just go through a “recession” we went through a “reset.” This is important to understand. Many of the rules have changed.” It’s time to throw away the status-quo and begin leading from within. It will allow for a reflection so bright that it will glow amongst all of those close to you and those you’re about to meet along the way.

I’d like to thank Tom Schulte for the inspiration of the title and thought of this blog post. Thank you, Tom.

Big Dogs That Listen, Get Treats

listen treats“There are times when even the best manager is like the little boy with the big dog waiting to see where the dog wants to go so he can take him there.” – Lee Iacocca.

The man who fathered the Ford Mustang and resurrected Chrysler from financial oblivion wasn’t born knowing how to pull off those magic acts, he learned them. While at Ford, he initiated careful research about how American demographics and the financial wherewithal of consumers would change during the 1960s. He listened to smart people tell him what the country needed and delivered a classic automobile.

Repeat proven results and continue to build on them.

Years later at Chrysler, Iacocca landed at a corporation in turmoil. Careful analysis showed that the company was in such dire straits that extreme measures would have to be taken to save it. Iacocca ended up needing loans from the government to keep Chrysler afloat. But once he got the money, he revived the company.

When we really listen to others, we learn more about ourselves and our abilities to help others achieve their goals.

In each case, the “big dogs” for Iacocca were the demands of the business: the need for new thinking at Ford and the absolute need for a survival plan at Chrysler. These dogs forced Iacocca to listen to them follow them, and ultimately steer him in directions that would benefit both companies.

We gather facts by listening, both with our ears and our eyes. Once the facts are in place, we can then make decisions that help everybody around us.

Managers who wag the dog make decisions without letting the facts tell them what’s right. Managers who take the opposite approach usually get the treats.

How important is it to you for other to listen while you are discussing an important topic? If you sense that you don’t have the listener’s full attention, how do you handle it?

What Can You Do To Impact Employee Engagement?

employee engagement geoff snyderThere’s a lot being written these days about employee engagement and retention. It seems employee engagement levels are pretty low right now, and many experts think we’ll see a significant number of workers looking for new opportunities once the economy improves.

That could spell trouble for a lot of companies. A big exodus of staff means significant recruiting and onboarding costs. But it also means a significant drain on your “brain trust” or intellectual capital. And that more than anything can impact your organization’s competitive position and ability to succeed.

So what can you do to drive up engagement?

From a talent management perspective, there are a few basic things every manager and leader can and should do. They include:

Be clear about goals and expectations, and help employees see how their work matters to the organization.
Reward, recognize and appreciate your employees in a fair and consistent way.
Give employees opportunities for growth and development.
These four things actually cover off a lot of the employee needs commonly recognized as contributing to employee engagement. Let’s look at each one in a bit more detail.

Give Employees Meaningful Feedback on a Regular Basis

For me, the two key words here are “meaningful” and “regular”. It’s about giving each of your employees the feedback they need to succeed. Tell them what you think they’re doing right and what they’re doing wrong. Be specific. Talk about the “what” and also the “how” – this should map to their assigned goals and competencies.

Don’t just give them feedback during their annual performance review. Tell them every day, or at least once a week. This helps them know what’s expected of them, demonstrates that you care about them and their performance, and opens up opportunities for dialogue that can help you both understand the factors that underlie their performance so you can support their success.

Be Clear About Goals and Expectations and Help Employees See How Their Work Matters to the Organization

I think one of the best ways to do this is to clearly link employee goals to higher level organizational goals. Do the mapping for them, so they can be like that famous janitor at NASA who told a visitor that by sweeping the floor he was helping put a man on the moon. This kind of context helps employees know that their work matters.

Make sure their goals are SMART and they can actually be achieved. Employees have to have the knowledge, skills and tools to do their work, but also the control and responsibility to achieve their goals. Often, we assign people goals they can’t actually achieve, then penalize them for it later.

The other thing we need to do is identify the competencies that are important for an employee’s role, as well as for the organization overall. This again helps to set clear expectations.

Finally, keep employees informed about organizational progress. Let them know, on a regular basis, how the organization is progressing in achieving its goals. This too will give them a sense of contribution and help them better understand what’s expected of them and why.

Reward, Recognize and Appreciate Your Employees in a Fair and Consistent Way

This doesn’t just mean money. There are lots of ways to reward and recognize employees. The experts tell us one of the most effective ways is with verbal praise. This is part of the feedback thing too. Find out what your employees value in terms of rewards, then cater to their preferences. And make sure your rewards and recognition are rooted in performance. That’s the only way they work as motivators.

Give Employees Opportunities for Groth and Development

Discuss your employees’ short and long-term career goals with them, and put development plans in place that give them opportunities to improve their current role and prepare for future advancement. Keep them learning. This is another great way to demonstrate that you and the organization care about the individual, but also that you’re committed to them over the long term.

Conclusion

While some of the things that contribute to employee engagement are outside of our direct control as managers and leaders, most of them can be fairly easily addressed with good talent management practices.