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How To...

November 14, 2016

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Make the most of board discussions

Boards play a critical role in governing a company, yet many of them meet for less than 10 hours a year. So it’s vital that directors use that time well. Board papers should be sent out at least four working days in advance to give directors time to read, digest and prioritise. Each director should identify the one or two challenges or comments that he wants to make at each board meeting. There won’t be time to comment on every issue, so focus on what you think is most important. During the meeting, resist the urge to chime in on every topic and be careful about prolonging discussions that your fellow directors initiate. Your goal as a group is to be thorough and efficient.

(Adapted from Running Better Boardroom Discussions, by Andrew Campbell)

Reward your team for learning

It’s not enough to hire curious, adaptable people; you also have to reward them for learning. When your employees have increased their knowledge and their value to the company, provide them with new and challenging opportunities. Promote people only when they’ve acquired sufficient expertise in other jobs in the organisation, not just their own. Or you could give awards for individuals who organise events or activities to promote learnability in the company (running internal conferences, bringing external speakers or circulating information that nurtures people’s curiosity).

(Adapted from It’s the Company’s Job to Help Employees Learn, by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic and Mara Swan)

How to get two very different teams to collaborate

Teams often have different ways of working, which can make collaboration a challenge. For example, one team may prefer to resolve conflicts as a group, while another may assume that conflicts are best resolved in private. To get two groups to work together effectively, you generally have three options:

— Adopt one approach. For example, the team that discusses conflict privately may begin doing it in meetings if members of the other team make a compelling case for their method.

— Integrate both approaches. The teams could agree to initially raise a conflict in private, and then jointly raise the issue with the larger team.

— Compromise. The teams might agree to let each member decide whether to raise a conflict privately or with the team.

(Adapted from Getting Teams With Different Subcultures to Collaborate, by Roger Schwartz)

Marketers need a defined social media strategy

Too many marketers make the mistake of trying to talk to everyone in every social channel, which makes it impossible to define the right voice, content and measure of success. A better method is to narrowly identify whom you want to listen to and communicate with. Are you targeting millennials entering the workforce, dads with young children or senior executives nearing retirement? What are they doing on social media, and where are they doing it? What are consumers saying about your brand, products and competitors? Start with simple Google searches on your brand name, analytics tools within social networks and secondary research sources, such as Pew Research and Edison Research, to identify larger trends in social media use.

(Adapted from Fix Your Social Media Strategy by Taking It Back to Basics, by Keith A. Quesenberry)

Get people to respect your work-at-home arrangement

When you work at home, it can be a challenge to make sure others respect the arrangement. Perhaps you have a co-worker who makes jokes about you slacking off while they’re all at the office. You may not be able to change the person’s opinions, but you can request that he change his behaviour. Instead of having the ‘No, I’m actually working!’ conversation, make specific requests, and keep enforcing your boundaries. Say something along these lines: “I miss the headquarters sometimes, but this arrangement works best for me right now. By the way, I’d like to call in to your Friday meeting with the team.”

(Adapted from Virtual Collaboration from the 20-Minute Manager Series)

Published in Dawn, Business & Finance weekly, November 14th, 2016