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Via The Ladders : How to effectively remove departmental jargon from your work communication

In today’s fast-paced, streamlined workplace, buzzwords permeate the landscape … value-add, deliverable, leverage, take it to the next level, it is what it is. And when you get deeper into workplace departments, the jargon gets even more confusing: internet of things, return on investment, total quality management, bleeding edge, capacity planning.

These are just a few prevalent terms now used at work. And while departmental jargon sometimes works well to communicate ideas and goals inside a single business unit, once it crosses department lines, it’s often vague, confusing, and even offensive. Departmental jargon can hurt both internal and external business if it’s misunderstood.

The bottom line: Workplace communication is hard enough without throwing in departmental jargon!

“When everyone is on the same page, it’s so much easier for everyone to do their job,” according to JobMonkey.com. “A failure to communicate is one of the fastest ways to sabotage your business. A simple comment lost in translation … could all be solved through proper communication.”

So how can you “separate the signal from the noise” at work and speak concisely to individuals outside of your area of expertise?

Keep email, chat, text, and video free of jargon

The best way to make sure your message is clear to anyone not familiar with your department’s specific jargon is to not use buzzwords at all. Use clear and concise wording to get your point across. This helps you avoid confusing those not familiar with specific departmental jargon.

Think of it this way: If you were speaking to your mother about a problem at work and she had no idea what your job was, how would you explain it to her? Use this approach regardless of who you are communicating with and the method used, whether via email, chat, text, or video.

Email: Write simple, direct emails

When crafting an email, avoid using jargon. The reason is simple: You don’t always know who will be reading your email. Plus, you can save yourself some time writing it, because you won’t need to explain any buzzwords or concepts that someone outside your department may not understand. This way, regardless of who reads the email, your message will be crystal clear.

For example, you may write: “Management is changing the market dynamics” compared to “the company is acting as a disruptor in the market.” Someone may consider the word disruptor a negative in this example instead of a positive if they didn’t have a full understanding of the term in a business context.

“Emails, like traditional business letters, need to be clear and concise,” according to MindTools.com. “Keep your sentences short and to the point. The body of the email should be direct and informative, and it should contain all pertinent information.”

If you do use jargon in your emails, then make sure to fully explain it.

Chat: Eliminate jargon to avoid confusion

Chat is another area where departmental jargon often causes confusion. Using buzzwords in a business chat with clients or coworkers could cause your message to get lost amid confusing “business speak.”

When a chat involves just your own department, there usually isn’t an issue with communication because everyone understands the same jargon, whether it is about IT, operations, human resources, etc. Problems can occur, however, when a new coworker joins you and isn’t up to speed yet or if individuals from different departments take part in a chatroom conversation and they aren’t familiar with your work or processes.

If everyone spoke in their own departmental jargon, how many communication breakdowns would you expect? More than likely, at least a few.

And what if you speak with one of your customers through a chat program? While you might know exactly what you are trying to communicate, the customer may not fully understand your message, possibly costing you a valuable business opportunity.

Text: Make it clear and to the point

Another communication method most of us have used over the past few years is text. With text communications, it’s vital that you speak simply and clearly. If you don’t, you risk confusing, or worse alienating, the person at the other end of your text.

Just imagine the amount of time it would take to have to explain a complex, jargon-filled text to someone who doesn’t know what you’re talking about. Using simple terms that everyone understands, to begin with, is the best way to get the point of your text across quickly and effectively.

In addition to avoiding jargon while texting, it’s important to follow common text etiquette rules to make sure that your text is easily understood. For instance, avoid using emojis and abbreviations in a work-related text. The people you communicate with are your co-workers and clients, and they require a more formal method of communication.

“The receiver should not be confused as to what you are trying to say, and if your message is interpreted the wrong way, your miscommunication could cause conflicts and even missed business opportunities,” according to Entrepreneur.com. “Make sure your message is clear, and review it for standalone clarity before hitting the send button.”

Video: Instruct or explain using succinct, crisp dialogue

It’s also critical that your video communication is clear and concise. Not only can confusion run amuck if you use departmental jargon, it’s difficult to come back after the fact and explain what you meant. Use terms everyone can understand when making your video presentation.

This is especially true for videos meant to educate others in a process familiar to employees who are not in your department. Look at it this way: If you were someone completely new to your department, how would you want something explained to you? Maybe you haven’t had time to pick up on all of the common departmental terms. Think of the confusion that would create. Instead, create a video that avoids that confusion using succinct, crisp dialogue.

The ultimate goal

Departmental jargon is bound to pop up when you work with others in the same field or team. Keep in mind, though, that company leaders, co-workers in other departments, and customers unfamiliar with the jargon might find themselves feeling lost and confused.

Your ultimate goal? Craft clear, concise communications that anyone can understand in order to get your message across each and every time.

Via CMS Wire : Change Management: The Key to Successful Digital Transformations

Companies of all types and sizes are investing heavily in the digitization of their business models. Driven by the changing consumer expectations that B2C digital juggernauts like Uber, Netflix and Amazon have created, many companies are investing in reimagining their business. To achieve relevance in what is being called the Fourth Industrial Revolution — the convergence of offline and digital, mobile, artificial intelligence, social and cloud — companies must be more customer focused, agile, lean and interactive.

Any digital transformation includes the following core ingredients:

  • Strategy — aligning vision, customer experience, processes and technology.
  • User-Centered Design — mobile first and personalized.
  • Agility in Delivery — iterative and adaptable.
  • Integration of Software, Platforms and Technology — choosing environments and products that harmonize.
  • Data, Analytics and Insights — constant feedback loop.
  • Product Design Mindset in Execution — minimal viable product and fail-fast mentality.

Despite knowledge of the integral elements of a successful digital transformation, a recent survey by Couchbase uncovered a nearly 90 percent failure rate by CIOs and technology leaders who have tried to execute digital transformation initiatives.

Researchers at McKinsey unpacked this trend in another way, ultimately highlighting the critical part change management plays in driving successful outcomes. However, they also found that most change management efforts fail because outdated models and change techniques are fundamentally misaligned with today’s dynamic business environment.

I have successfully applied the following change management approach both as a leader at a Fortune 500 company and as a consultant implementing large digital programs within Fortune 1000 companies. After you read this article, let’s talk about what has worked for you and what you’ll try next.

Invest in Change Management, Early and Often

As my definition of change management may differ from yours, for the purposes of this article let’s use the Prosci definition: “the process, tools and techniques to manage the people side of change to achieve a required business outcome.”

Also, as every organization that delivers digital programs has an implementation methodology, I will be using that of my company, “The 7Summits Way” (pictured below), to talk about the application of change management techniques throughout the implementation lifecycle of a digital transformation initiative. The elements can easily be pieced out and applied to whatever methodology your organization prefers.

The Stages of Digital Change Management

1. Prepare

Change management should be at the center of your digital transformation vision and “art of the possible” thinking. To garner the necessary support, leaders are often laser-focused in this phase on business intelligence and securing funding and resources against their grand plan. What is frequently missed is laying the right foundation for driving change from the start. Key change management activities here should include:

  • Developing a digital transformation charter that articulates your business goals and the strategies to achieve these goals.
  • Identifying executive stakeholders and functional change agents. They will be key to removing roadblocks and creating advocacy, if brought in early.
  • Creating or aligning with a center of excellence (COE) to manage all digital transformation efforts and the governance structure.
  • Maintaining a change backlog to start tracking and mitigating risks (e.g. end user adoption, employee resistance, retirement of legacy processes, etc.).

Your change goals during the Prepare phase are to create visibility for your program, activate change advocates, and document your biggest and most immediate risks.

2. Define

The Define phase typically involves selecting desired business outcomes, uncovering audience value through journey mapping, defining requirements, designing the user experience and solution elements, and documenting your execution roadmap. These are all key inputs to your change plan. Additional change management activities during the Define phase should include:

  • Holding regular steering meetings with your COE stakeholders, impacted functional leaders and change agents to refine your vision and plan.
  • Conducting an organizational readiness assessment that covers: team structure and sponsorship, governance, adoption, measurement and communication.
  • Hosting change management workshops that take inputs from your strategy (vision, objectives, KPIs, requirements, research, personas) and uncover insights, strategies and tactics needed to drive your change across your project lifecycle. These typically fall into categories such as: steering, resistance management, training, coaching plans, user feedback and measurement, content strategy and communications.

Your change goal during the Define phase is to identify key tactics that will drive your intended change by your target audiences and in what order (pre-launch, at launch, post-launch) they will be most impactful.

3. Design

Design is the phase in which the digital transformation blueprint is finalized. Wireframes, interactive prototypes, proof of concepts, high fidelity designs, solution architecture charts, integration mapping, and data modeling help bring the vision to life for a broader set of stakeholders. From a change perspective, this phase is when the inputs from the previous phases are formed into a plan that will inform your Build phase. Key activities should include:

  • Solidifying change team role definitions, workstreams and RACI.
  • Resolving business process impacts identified during requirements gathering.
  • Defining a measurement plan, including tangible KPIs.
  • Developing a content strategy and plan.
  • Designing a training plan that includes one to one, one to many and self-based learning.
  • Drafting a communication plan that builds excitement.

Your change goal during the Design phase is to activate your change workstreams to create their tactical work plans and schedules.

4. Build and Verify

While highly differentiated from a development perspective, the Build and Verify stages can be grouped when considering impactful change management approaches. Build and Verify is when your digital transformation becomes real as developers execute against your product backlog. This is also where change management fortitude begins to flounder.

Progress is easy to measure in terms of the development of working code, so the more intangible elements are often de-prioritized. Typically, in digital transformations destined for failure, leaders entering the Verify phase begin to organize a change management workstream. Successful organizations, on the other hand, merge their project management tools, combining requirements and user stories with the previously defined change management plans and tasks. Having one project management environment inclusive of requirements and business tasks forces collaboration and discussion between change leads, project managers, and developers. Change management activities should be included in the same planning sessions, reviews, and daily stand-ups as development items.

Key change activities at this point should include:

  • Sequencing change management tasks and deliverables.
  • Importing sequenced and assigned change management tasks into a shared project management environment.
  • Meeting regularly with product teams and developers to align change efforts with development realities.
  • Performing iterative development and quality assurance of all deliverables.
  • Holding feedback sessions to ensure your plan is relevant and resonating.
  • Monitoring and addressing the change backlog.
  • Executing pre-launch activities.

Your change goal during the Build and Verify phases is to collaborate with your development team and end users by adapting and executing the change management plan.

5. Launch

It’s time to Launch — congratulations! But the work is not over. The Launch phase is the most critical moment for any change management team. It’s time to drive the change and adoption of the digital tool. If change management has been properly integrated into the digital transformation initiative, your change team should have already completed most of the work. All of the Pre-Launch activities are completed, key stakeholders are trained, business processes have been created or adapted, and measurement plans are in place and awaiting user data. Key change management activities in the Launch phase include:

  • Executing the At Launch and Post Launch adoption tactics.
  • Shifting from a project management to program management governance model.
  • Listening, measuring and sharing feedback with product owners.
  • Monitoring and addressing the change backlog.

Your change goal in the Launch phase is setting up your organization for sustaining change.

The Key to Successful Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is key to the survival of many companies, yet digital transformations are tough and frequently fail. Without successful change management, digital transformation efforts will fail to deliver results.

Over the course of my career I’ve seen too many transformation efforts fail because there was a lack of resources, attention and awareness of the work required to effectively execute a change management plan. Companies that fail focus their time, attention and budget exclusively on program design and development. I encourage organizations to give an equal amount of effort and resource to change management. At the end of the day, change management is about getting people to use the tools you create for them so you can achieve true business value. Integrating these efforts into your digital transformation initiatives from kickoff through to launch will not guarantee success, but will stack the deck in your favor.

Via HR Technologist : 7 Tips On Promoting Effective Communication Skills at Workplace

Effective communication skills are essential to succeed in your career. Learn these 7 steps to take to improve communication at workplace and get benefits.

Good communication between team members is essential for effective work. It can bring people closer, solve any problems and increase engagement. Poor communication, on the other hand, only leads to misunderstanding, obstacles and ineffective work.

You may believe that you already have good communication skills – but the thing with communication is that it can always be improved.

Here are some ideas on how you could promote better, effective communication at work:

1. Listen to your team members

People in higher positions usually feel like they have to all of the talking and none of the listening. This is wrong for many reasons. For one, people that have a more hands-on approach often have better ideas on how to improve the work environment. They often know where the problems occur, what the most effective time of day is and how to improve efficiency. Be open to their ideas and listen to what they have to say. If you believe that you are a good listener already, pay attention to your habits at work – notice if you start interrupting your team members if you start spacing out or looking at your devices while they speak to you.

2. Create a communication-friendly space

Your role as an HR manager is to make sure that the work environment is always open in terms of communication flow. Speaking up should never be something that your employees are afraid to do. Set an example of how they should behave – always say good morning and address them by their names, ask them questions to get the conversation going from the start of the day. When you speak to them, don’t appear distracted and disrespectful and always make sure that any problems are solved by communication and not by arguing. This way, your employees will have a hint at what they should do if they run into a disagreement. Encourage good interaction outside of work – building these relationships is important. Let your employees know that they can come talk to you whenever they need to. An open-door policy is a good way to create an effective environment.

3. Ask for feedback

A good way to keep the communication going is to move forward from the traditional top-down communication lines. Ask your employees to share their ideas, thoughts, complaints in any way they feel comfortable with. Some of them will enjoy having a conversation whenever possible but some will be shy and would prefer other means of communication. Offer emails and resources where they could let you know what their opinions are – some email writing tools that you could recommend are Academ Advisor, Via Writing or Boom Essays. Allow them to talk in meetings as well, let them ask questions – this is the best way to promote good conversation and educate them.

4. Host team-building games

This may not be the most often used way to improve communication at work and sometimes it might not be appropriate but it is certainly effective. Team building games are fun and employees grow to have better relationships with their colleagues as well as their managers if they are involved. “These don’t have to be elaborate – you could simply make a game out of writing something unexpected about yourself on a piece of paper, throwing it in a hat and letting everyone guess whose unexpected confession it is”, – explains Stephen Davis, an HR manager at Essayroo and Study Demic writer.

5. Open a platform for anonymous feedback

As previously stated, some people might have some trouble speaking publicly or letting everyone know how they feel. This is why it’s a good idea to have a system for anonymous feedback. It can be as simple as a box or a book for anonymous opinions or as elaborate as a forum for your employees. You’d be surprised at how many people are willing to share their thoughts this way – even those who like speaking in person will give you a more honest opinion when they feel safe. This can give you great ideas on how to improve your current processes.

6. Have monthly one-on-one meetings

Instead of speaking one-on-one with your employees annually, make it a habit to hold these meetings once a month. It’s a good idea because you’ll have a better representation of how they feel, what is happening in their office and personal life and you’ll also build trust this way. If they get used to speaking with you once a month, their walls will come down and you’ll be able to get a full picture of their thoughts. Set a schedule of these meetings and let your employees know on time – you can use tools like StateOfWriting and UK Writings to create accurate emails so that there is no confusion.

Final Thoughts

Working as a team is good for sharing ideas and boosting productivity. However, these efforts can be hampered if the communication between team members isn’t good. Make sure that you maintain open lines of communication and that you are constantly working on improving them further.

Via Monster : How to disagree with your boss without losing your job

Clashing with a higher-up can be career-killing, but a few strategies can make it much more manageable.

It’s tricky when you have a beef with your boss. How do you disagree with a person who most likely hired you—and has the power to potentially fire you?

Say something, and you run the risk of being seen as difficult or even adversarial. Stay silent, and you could seem ambivalent or complacent.

“I think we have a lot of fear about bringing up opposing ideas because we think it’s going to create conflict,” says Rebecca Vertucci, career coach and principal at the Vertucci Group.

“But your boss wants you to be successful. Often we’re surprised by being able to say something and it not going as poorly as we thought it was going to.”

Your company hired you because they think you’re an asset, so bring your experience and point of view to the table—but do it strategically:

Step 1: Time it right

Bringing something up at an inopportune time can spell doom for whatever issue you’re trying to address.

“I think what happens is that people feel like their opinion isn’t important, so they bite their tongue a few times,” says David Couper, a career and work expert in Los Angeles. “Then, they’re in a meeting and disagree in the heat of the moment. Then it becomes really heated.”

Choose the right moment—likely a private chat—to discuss things.

“I worked with a Big Five partner, and the easiest way to get him was to grab him in the hallway between meetings and give him two to three facts about why I disagreed,” Couper says. “Nine times out of 10, I would succeed.”

Step 2: Know your boss’s motivation

Key in any negotiation is understanding what the other side values. The best way to get them to listen is to be able to reflect back to them that you understand what’s important to them.

This might take some detective work on your part.

“It may be that you have to ask some good questions, because you may not understand what’s behind the decision or action that you’re disagreeing with,” says Tammy Gooler Loeb, a career and executive coach in the Boston area.

So before you state an opposing view, “You have to understand what it is you’re disagreeing with at the root.”

You can use this information to frame your suggestion as something that’s different from theirs—but that still serves your boss’s ultimate purpose or priority.

Step 3: Make it their idea

If you present information in the right way, you might change your boss’s mind about things—and let her come to her own conclusion.

The way to do this gracefully is, “you kind of accept what they’re saying (even if you don’t agree with it), come back to them, talk about other issues, and if you’re smart enough, they come up with the new idea, which is kind of what you wanted,” Couper says. “They’ve just changed their mind because you’ve given them information.”

This approach will usually take more than one discussion, so don’t give up. Plan on having a few conversations over time to make this happen.

Step 4: Help them look good

“When managers and bosses are dealing with their team, they get a lot of the brunt of what’s not working and the complaints,” Vertucci says. Remember that your boss is trying to look good, just like everyone else, and if you can help her do that, you’ve got a greater chance of success.

“You may not agree with them, and you may have some constructive feedback, but if they feel like you are trying to help them shine, they will be more open to your ideas.”

Step 5: Don’t wait until the last minute

No matter what, make your thoughts known while there’s still a potential opportunity to take action.

“Sometimes people will bring up a dissenting point of view after the fact, when no one can do anything about it, and that’s just not productive,” Gooler Loeb says.

That said, it could be that it’s too late already—and you just don’t have enough information to know that. But to the extent that you can, act promptly.

Step 6: Be prepared to lose

There’s always a chance that you’ll speak your mind and nothing will change. And you have to mentally prepare for that possibility.

“Your point may be taken, but it may not be taken well, in that it’s not going to change anything,” Gooler Loeb says. “It doesn’t mean losing your job, it just means you may have to comply with something that your boss feels is the best approach.”

If that’s the case, give it your best can-do attitude. “Take that lemon and make lemonade,” Gooler Loeb says. “Try to learn from that or understand it, even if you disagree with it. Trying to understand it will help you at least be able to support it.”

Step 7: Be prepared to leave

If you find yourself in one of those jobs where you can’t seem to see eye-to-eye with your boss about anything—or she never seems to want your feedback, it might be time to look for a job where you can respect your manager a bit more. Or, where your ideas can be heard.

Join Monster and you can upload five different versions of your resume, so you’ll be ready to send the right one out as soon as you see a good match. We’ll also email you new jobs as soon as they’re available, so you can jump on them and get yourself in a job where you’re growing in your career—not butting heads with your boss.

Via Grammarly : How to Collaborate Effectively at Work (and Why You Should Care)

“No man is an island,” the English poet John Donne once wrote. Nearly 400 years later, if you’re into creative, ambitious work, that sentiment is truer than ever—collaboration is often essential.

It also might not feel like your strong suit. Maybe you feel weird without your headphones in and would much rather work alone. But even then, chances are your efforts are part of a greater whole that hinges on your abilities as a collaborator to succeed—so you might as well speak up.

It’s an area where we can all stand to improve, and Grammarly has you covered. Here are six tips to help you become a better collaborator.

What is collaboration, anyway?

Working in collaboration means everyone can contribute ideas—so it’s different from the kind of teamwork where a group marches in unified lockstep to realize one person’s plan or goal. Collaborating means hearing people out, melding different ideas together, and building toward a shared objective.

Put another way, if you’re not steadily communicating about what you’re trying to accomplish and how best to go about it, you’re not really collaborating.

Part of communicating is listening and understanding.

Collaboration doesn’t work if only one person does all the talking. Fostering a collaborative space means making room for other people to share their ideas—even the shy ones. (That said, making a point of giving a quiet person the floor doesn’t help much if they feel suddenly called on like a daydreamer who zoned out in algebra class.)

Part of getting people to open up and share valuable ideas is helping them feel like they’ll be heard. That means being patient and generous—a facilitator, not an autocrat.

Correct: That’s an interesting idea. How do you see it fitting into this project?

Incorrect: You already know that idea is unrealistic, so just hush.

Also, if you are one of the quieter ones present for a collaborative discussion, recognize that you’re in the room to participate, not just observe. That’s not always the case in life—and yes, people who think all meetings should be collaborative are insufferable—but in this case, it’s good to show you’re engaged by saying what you’re thinking.

Keep the conversation open ended.

One of the challenges of the collaborative process is getting past the blue sky stage where people throw out ideas, and onto distilling the results into an actionable plan with defined deliverables. When you’re trying to clarify what you’ll actually be doing, it helps to ask questions rather than issue decrees, like so:

Correct: What problem are we trying to solve?

Incorrect: Our next iteration just needs to look more like the competition’s.

Correct: What timeframe will it take to achieve meaningful progress?

Incorrect: I need this done and dusted before Thursday’s board meeting.

A useful strategy to get people on the same page is to try repeating their points back in your own words. This helps crystallize the takeaways and can reveal any discrepancies or misunderstandings that need to be addressed early on. It can also be worthwhile to capture key ideas on a whiteboard, sticky notes, or a shared screen.

Know when to ask for help—and be delicate when offering it.

One of the joys of being a collaborator is you don’t have to have all the answers. A truly collaborative endeavor is one where it’s okay to take risks—and to go to your colleagues when you need guidance. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it shows that you’re interested in getting better at something, have recognized someone else’s skill, and feel secure enough to take some time out for your edification.

Likewise, you want other people to feel at ease getting help from you, not forced, as in this example:

Incorrect: You’re doing it wrong. Here, let me show you how an adult does it.

Correct: I noticed you’ve been working on that part for a while. Let me know if I can help out, okay?

Don’t make your collaboration messier than necessary.

Over the course of your project, you and your collaborators will likely find things to disagree about. It’s worth remembering there’s value in drawing from perspectives—even if only a fraction of the insights this process yields will be perfect.

For the rest, be diplomatic. Know when to hold your tongue. Keep in mind that kindness, while not always effortless, is rarely a waste of energy.

At some point, someone will probably have to say “no,” or at least “not right now.” And someone else will have to live with that. This is part of what separates a collaborative process that sets and achieves its goals from an endless digression on things people wish would happen at some point. In other words, while it might not always feel like it, it’s often a good thing.

When you’re done, share credit—and say thank you.

There is no quicker way to exclude yourself from a group’s future collaborative endeavors than to claim all the credit and glory for yourself. It’s simply not a good look when you could instead be graciously acknowledging the contributions of your peers and bringing donuts.

Lastly, take a moment to reflect on what you learned and what you hope to improve going forward. Such lessons may come in handy the next time you’re called upon to collaborate.