4 Reasons Why Tweeting is Not a Management Tool

Posted by Richard Moran.

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We had Management by Objectives (MBO); Management by Walking Around (MBWA); Total Quality Management (TQM); Management by Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) and lots of other trends and tricks. Now we have Management by Tweeting (MBT).  But wait, is it a management tool?

Let me proclaim here first that I love Twitter. I understand how powerful it can be. Twitter can foment revolution, it can create a movement. Tweets are part of the core of pop culture. Celebrities let us know what’s for lunch. People we don’t know provide inspirational sayings, advertisements, personal updates and snarky comments. It is the source of news for us and we are addicted. But is it a management tool? Is it something for leaders to use to help drive a strategy and be successful? We are finding out.

Any management textbook will tell you that the role of a manager is to Plan, Lead, Organize and Control. Inherent in all of these skills is the ability to communicate. We can hold Twitter up to each skill and it’s hard to make a case that it helps the cause.

I use Twitter. I see why others use Twitter. And, based on my own books and writing, I am known for brevity and the creative use of “bullets” in presentations. So I understand and believe in really short and directive messages. I am a believer that mission statements should be short and strategies should fit on the back of an envelope.

So what is wrong with Twitter as a management tool? Let me count the ways…

  1. A tweet is too short to deliver a big message or provide real feedback. “I have a dream…” doesn’t fit in a tweet. And whether the feedback is positive or negative, 140 characters can only say “great job” or “you screwed up”. After that, there is not much room for further explanation about how to improve or why you screwed up. Sample tweet: “Kate, the project is behind schedule and over budget! Very bad!”
  2. A tweet is one-way unless you engage in a tweet exchange. The back and forth might be amusing but can sometimes make matters worse. Tweets can be cruel if an individual is singled out.
  3. Tweets can’t be taken back and there will probably be times you wish you hadn’t sent it. Drunk tweets are known to cause people to get fired. Tweets sent in the heat of a moment can do more damage than good.
  4. Not everyone is on Twitter. Some downright reject it and consider it another annoyance of the digital age. So using Twitter as a management tool means not everyone is being managed.

Using Twitter can be an effective communications method, but for an organization, it doesn’t stand alone. A tweet is OK for: “The IPO is done! Great job everyone”, but that’s where it’s effectiveness diminishes rapidly. Communications requires color and personality that is more multi-dimensional than a tweet can deliver. Real communications requires a voice that sets the tone of an organization. Real communications from a leader requires inspiration and cheerleading. There are situations that might require pointed ways that things need to change and Twitter is good at that. Or, there could be an emergency so please spread the word. Twitter is especially good in that case.

Maybe tweets can augment all the important things that a managerial role requires, but any number of tweets does not a leader make.

3 Small Resolutions for a Bigger Workday

Posted by Richard Moran.

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The three standard resolutions still apply:

  1. Lose weight and drink less alcohol. While I am at it, I will get in better shape.
  2. Read more and renew that zeal for learning.
  3. Take a serious look at my financial situation and fix it.

But there are three problems with these three resolutions:

  1. The resolutions are easily discarded. By January 3rd you are putting the resolutions off until next year.
  2. Work is the place where you spend most of your time and most work activities hurt keeping the three resolutions. (Consider bagels and red licorice in the kitchen; sitting all day and then being too tired to exercise; and, the not opening the shrink wrap on the financial planning software tool.)
  3. The three resolutions are not related to making work more enjoyable, where you will spend most of your waking hours in the New Year.

Yet, in spite of evidence to the contrary, there are three reasons why one should make resolutions.

  1. It is the time of year to set goals and objectives. To not do it would be an admission that this year will be just like last year. Ho-Hum.
  2. What is measured is improved. Even in small doses.
  3. Many say that success is all about focus. Resolutions create focus.

But resolutions don’t mean anything if they are not implemented. The three keys that will ensure your resolutions might work are:

  1. Write the resolutions down and put the written resolutions somewhere that will serve as a constant reminder.
  2. Make the resolutions achievable. Setting goals that you know you can’t achieve is a recipe for failure.
  3. Set interim goals by the week or by the month. Some things don’t change every hour.

Strategists believe that we can only remember three goals before they get watered down and impossible to implement. With that in mind, here are my three suggestions for resolutions for the New Year:

  1. Get Up Early. By getting up early you might actually have time for a jog around the block or a healthy breakfast instead of the jelly doughnut. The unintended consequence could be losing weight or being healthier. Or, by getting up early you may just be better prepared for the workday.
  2. Finish One Thing. At work, no greater joy exists than completing something, anything. Completion doesn’t need to mean the strategic plan or the computer conversion. It could mean finishing the email to the team or sending that long overdue note of thanks to a customer. The key to turning a day that seems like a nebulous defeat into an ambiguous victory is the sense of accomplishment in finishing something.
  3. Let No Small Things Ruin a Day. It happens every day. It could be a complaint, a spilled coffee, a colleague who shows up late or any number of things that set you off. Stop. Don’t let the small things that run off the rails set the tone for the day. Take a deep breath and look for the dozens of good things that can make for a great day. You deserve it.

And finally in the New Year, consider making lists no longer than three things. In so doing, you will have a year of joy in triplicate at work.

How to Change A Life – Listen

Posted by Richard Moran.

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A man approached me at an airport. I was thousands of miles away from my home.  He introduced himself and asked, “You don’t remember me do you?” I didn’t.

He went on, “Funny how it is, you changed my life and you don’t even remember me. Don’t feel bad. You shouldn’t remember me, but I remember you.” He was at the airport to pick up one of his children. It was just a coincidence that I was arriving.

He told me the story of how we sat next to each other years ago on an airplane from Chicago to San Francisco. I was going home, he was going away. As usual, there was a delay, this time so the plane could be de-iced. What was an already long flight became longer. My seatmate wanted to talk. I didn’t. He was unhappy with his life. I wasn’t. But sometimes a stranger is a good someone to talk to about life topics. The only person who might be better is the friend that knew you when. That friend who remembers who you were when you were twenty-two and can call you on who you are now. Sometimes intimacies are best exchanged with a stranger or that old friend.

So I broke my cardinal rule (at the time) of talking to people on airplanes. Really, I didn’t talk, I only listened. His career was going nowhere. He was in sales for a company that sold industrial kitchen gear. Think pots and pans. He was on the road all the time. His wife was always mad at him and his kids hardly knew him. It took him all of the five-hour flight to tell me all the details of his boss and career and family and I listened.

As we were landing I said, “Sounds like you have two choices: one is to keep at it and be miserable. The other is to make big changes. The second option is more difficult, but if I were you, that is the one I would give serious consideration.” Not rocket science and I am not a counselor but I listened and boiled things down for him. Although we exchanged cards I never expected to connect with him again.

Three months later, a huge box was delivered to my office. A small refrigerator could have been inside. It was a complete set of industrial pots and pans with a note. “Thanks for listening. New, better job and renewed family.”

Now, back in Chicago, years later, I reminded him that I still use the pots and pans he sent years ago. He reminded me that just listening to him and helping him with his options was all it took to change his life.

Sometimes a good listen, even in business, is the way to change a life and maybe an organization.

Author’s Note: For those channeling the movie “Airplanes, Trains, Automobiles” with John Candy and Steve Martin, it’s my favorite movie.

Richard is the author of the new book The Thing About Work: Showing Up and Other Important Matters [A Worker’s Manual]. You can follow his writing on TwitterFacebook, or at his website at richardmoran.com.

Richard is President of Menlo College in Atherton, CA. He is a noted San Francisco based business leader, best-selling author, speaker, and venture capitalist.