Technical communicators are accustomed to being thrown into the breech when their employers or clients confront severe business challenges. Rather than rush into the fray, we stand a better chance of tilting the business outcomes in our companies’ or clients’ favor if we remain disciplined under fire. A good way to achieve that discipline is to structure the communications team in a manner best suited to collaborative ventures and then implement those ventures in an orderly process called integrated strategic communication. This workshop begins with a brief explanation of how the Communications Department at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control - Orlando (LMMFC-O) uses integrated strategic communication to defend the company’s existing business base or seek new business in the fiercely competitive defense industry. Workshop participants will work in teams to complete practical hands-on exercises applying the process of integrated strategic communication to scenarios involving pressing business/technical communication challenges.
Some people seem to thrive on change. How do they do it? How do they manage change in a way that they not only survive, but also excel? They seem to make change work for them. Here are five essentials on how to take your team through times of transition. One of the most significant essentials for success during transition is teambuilding. Leaders who can challenge, motivate and empower their teams through change are successful.
Skills in research, information architecture, interaction design, graphic design and writing define the recognized areas of User Experience design. However, there still remains much to discuss about what makes a UX team dreamy. Each UX Dreamteam has a finely tuned mix of skills and qualities, as varied as the environments in which they operate. Part two will address whether a person has the right ‘hard’ skills and ‘soft’ qualities like communication style, creativity and leadership ability to fit your particular organizational context. We’ll also touch on the quality of an individual’s personality that may or may not complement the others on your team.
Teams, like individuals, go through various developmental stages. Understanding these stages enables a team leader to know if the team is developing normally. Although the team leader’s role and level of involvement vary from stage to stage, there are strategies that the leader can use to spur the team’s growth at each stage.
Engagement. Is it the latest corporate buzzword? Not for serious business leaders who understand the correlation between engaged employees and improved financial performance. They see engagement as a source of competitive advantage. All things equal, they believe, an organization that has engaged employees will outperform one that doesn’t.
The first and most basic rhythm of the Agile feedback cycle is the daily standup. It's just what it sounds like - a daily meeting where everyone stands up for the duration of the meeting. When I give Agile workshops, one of the questions I'm often asked is how to do daily standups when the teams are geographically dispersed. While this can be a challenge to coordinate and maintain, you'll soon find that the benefits of the daily communication make it well worth the effort. Here are several options to consider with your team:
Some of the more intractable problems we face on the job are the human ones. But cranky though Microsoft Word often seems, most of its blowups are at least predictable; humans are anything but. The worst problems can arise when you find yourself in a situation where power relationships come into play, which is often the case when you're managing another employee and responsible for their work and their on-the-job behavior. For a variety of reasons, technical communicators are often seen as 'difficult' or 'problem' employees--this means that co-workers tend to complain about us and insist that our managers correct our behavior. Unfortunately, we often work in high-stress environments that make it difficult for us to work calmly and difficult for colleagues to work with us peacefully. Many communicators complain that developers and other subject matter experts (SMEs) don't bother to understand what we do and thus, don't respect our work. As a result, they often consider meeting their own deadlines far more important than helping us do our work, and when we must ask them to provide the information we need to complete our documentation or to review draft documents, we don't get what we need. The result? We're forced to nag, and that can get us labeled as problems, not colleagues.
Learning how to communicate effectively when people problems arise is a key to your success as a manager. To make the process easier for yourself, you should learn to set clear expectations of your employees, make specific observations of their work and behavior, conduct timely communication with them when problems arise, listen closely when they respond, and schedule a follow-up meeting after the crisis has passed.
Social psychology and organization development suggest that virtually all people, and all teams, must deal with conflicting impulses toward effective and ineffective behaviour. Research shows that it is a basic human trait to want to succeed, to be in control, and to avoid embarrassment. Group dynamics research also suggests that teams operate on two dimensions: the task or work dimension, and the social or relationship dimension. High-performing teams pay attention to both the task and social environments. They create an environment that minimizes the occurrence of face-saving and defensive behaviour. This environment is usually characterized by honesty and authenticity, by the use of relevant and verifiable information, and by a willingness to own up to mistakes.
Great leaders are not always born that way. Unfortunately, many management training programs don't sufficiently emphasize leadership development, but instead focus on fundamentals and the day-to-day tasks that confront managers within the organization. This article takes a look at how having vision and then communicating it is the foundation of leadership and contributes to the makeup of a truly great leader.
Shared Medical Systems Corporation (SMS) recently combined its 66-person technical writing group and six-person performance-centered design team to form a new department called User Performance. With more and more clinicians—often novice users—interacting with SMS systems, SMS recognized the need to place an increased focus on usability.
We discussed how to buy time when you are assaulted by an unpleasant surprise. Our argument was that few people respond well to challenging situations unless they have some time to prepare. Therefore, whenever you can, you should divide the task into four distinct phases: (1) minimal immediate response, (2) preparation, (3) problem-solving discussion, and (4) follow-through. Unfortunately, some situations don't let you postpone a full discussion. For such cases, you need the 'short method,' which condenses phases 1-3.
A CEO is enamored with technology but doesn't understand the issues involved in implementing his time- and money-hungry IT ideas. What would you do to solve this problem?
Much of today's news is bad, so much of it can adversely affect your career, and so much of it is maddeningly beyond your control. But there are things you can control, starting with your own behavior. Now more than ever, it's essential to ensure that idiosyncrasies and personal peccadillos don't undermine your career. Here are five cautionary tales of real CIOs whose tragic flaws did them in.
What follows is some advice for managers on how to manager people, especially talented people. I worked for nine years at Microsoft, sometimes managing projects, sometimes managing people, but always with a manager above me. I think I’m smart, but many of the people who have worked for me definitely were. Over the years I’ve experienced many mistakes and successes in both how I was managed, and how I managed others. There's no one way to manage people, but there are some approaches that I think most good managers share.
The last half century has seen enormous change impacting the way we work. The world is shrinking with advances in information technology playing a crucial role in facilitating the global expansion of organizations. International teams are now a common phenomenon with many large organizations structuring their workforce according to function rather than geography. Successful organizations do not hesitate to move their talents around the world to ensure that they have the right skills and knowledge in the right location when necessary. But what does it take to manage such a culturally diversified and geographically dispersed team?
If you have ever been forced to deal with business types who have no technical know-how, then you know how these types can work against IT's progress. Here's how to improve your business/IT communication by concentrating on the strategic goals.
For projects of importance, you need divergent skills to succeed. It is not possible to find an individual with all of the skill sets needed, nor would you want to. To create a first rate website or software product, you need many tasks to be done in parallel, which means that more than one person has to be working at them. As soon as two or more people are involved, the dynamic for how decisions are made, and how work gets done, becomes important. Any group of people can do work together, but it takes the right approach and team philosophy for that group to produce good work. Collaboration is critical in any creative pursuit involving groups of people, from filmmaking, to urban architecture or even web and software development.
You may not have the time to read or the money to burn on analysts' reports, but adopting a technical mentor can help you keep your skills fresh. Here are the pros and cons of making the move.
Advocates restructuring technical communication departments to eliminate 'silos'—isolated groups within the department—and develop 'channels'—a cooperative grouping of workers and teams through which information about a product can flow.
Conflict resolution is among the many tasks delegated to managers, yet it is often the most difficult to master. From individual performance appraisals to an all-out assault within a project team, managers are expected to not only have the wisdom of Solomon, but also the patience of a saint. Yet often, this skill is not cultivated, leaving many managers unable to adapt to instances that can bring even the best performing machine to a screeching halt. To help avoid this from happening, there are various tools and tactics that an organization can adopt to not only diffuse immediate threats to productivity, but also alleviate potential issues in the long run.
Technical communication managers are faced with common responsibilities from company to company. Typically, they are responsible for resources (people and equipment), customer relations (internal and external), product, and administration. To successfully complete these responsibilities, a manager must have people, communication, planning, technical, statistical, and financial accounting skills. While focusing on the skills necessary to meet these responsibilities, managers may loose sight of key writing skills. Well-rounded managers must stay current with their teams. They must grow for their teams to grow.
Members of Generation X are now at the midpoint of their careers and are increasingly being placed in management and supervisory positions. Xers are realizing that today's newly hired employees are no longer members of their generation but of a different and younger generation. This new generation of employees entering the workforce has been given such labels as Generation Next, Generation Y, Echo Boomers, and Digital Natives. Members of Generation X who not long ago were shaking their heads at the attitudes and viewpoints of the older employees are now finding their own perspectives being questioned by a new and younger generation, Generation Next. Nexters and Xers, like previous generations before them, are finding at times difficulty to work side by side because their experiences, goals, and expectations differ.
If you work for a large corporation, you don't have to worry about who handles the invoicing, pays the bills, or manages pesky clients. But if you're a small business owner, all this quickly becomes your concern. Anecdotal evidence suggests that entrepreneurs are increasingly linking up with colleagues to work on specific projects or to create virtual agencies.