Saturday, March 19, 2011

Press the Thumbs for Your Staff

I'm often skeptical of studies such as the one highlighted in this Harvard Business Review Daily Stat. Basically the study shows that wishing people luck can improve and speed their performance. (It also reveals that "press the thumbs" is the German equivalent of "cross my fingers.")

Why am I often skeptical? There are frequently more variables involved than they believe they're testing, such as positive selection. In this study's case, they took away a lucky charm from half the participants to prove that having lucky charms improved performance in the other half. I wonder if the first half of the participants would have performed less well if they had taken away anything from them, such as one sock.

Why did this study catch my attention? Since I interpreted the finger crossing to actually be a sign of encouragement, not simply a superstitious act, and I do believe that wishing someone well is motivational. If I cross my fingers for your success, it shows that I support your success, not solely that I am invoking lucky spirits on your behalf.

There are so many toxic workplaces, where people are afraid of making mistakes and receive attention only when they screw up. Or, at best, receive kind words only if they succeed. And there are far too few workplaces where bosses send their staff off with encouragement.

While I have not done any analysis of the success rates within the two types of workplaces – and there are so many other variables – I expect that the ones with bosses "pressing the thumbs" for their staff's success would have better "luck" and greater productivity.

So ... next time you give someone a job to do, also give them a little motivation on the way out. It might lead to better and faster success.

Friday, March 11, 2011

It Now Takes 30 Minutes to Become a Marketing Expert

Maybe less.

"This guy, at a conference, spoke on Social Media and he said all you need in today's world is a YouTube channel and a Twitter account and you'll be beating back the customers from your front door. You post a video, twitter the link, and then thousands of people twitter and retwitter it. Many of them show up to your store, are impressed by your service." This part in a whisper: "And here he explained that you had to give the first few people incredible service. Maybe offer them a free gift." Back to the regular voice level: "Then these people, right there in the store, twitter to their friends or post on Facebook or ... something elser it ... makes no difference what social media they use ... and, voila, you have more customers than you can handle." And then the new-found expertise: "So all we need to do is get a Twitter account and make a video. Let me know if you need help, I'm good with the internet. I buy things on all the time, and I have teenage kids who are really good at making videos."

Raise your hands if you've been on the other side of this "discussion." Everyone have their hands up? As expected.

Makes no difference where you work, your client base, whether or not you have access to followers, or even have a good video idea. This is how it works nowadays, apparently. You no longer need marketing experience or training, or even business developers. All you need is a Twitter account. And a Flip. Unsure why you, the veteran marketer, couldn't think of that? Maybe you don't go to conferences where Social Media experts give talks? Maybe you are simply trying to do things the hard way. Or maybe you didn't hear about Twitter yet.

Too bad that our entire field has been replaced by a free online tool.

I wonder if Denny's is hiring.