Recent Posts


  • GM CEO Vows Changes Because of Recalls

    General Motors (GM) Chief Executive Mary Barra says the company will change. It took too long to tell owners to bring the cars in for repairs. The company learned about the ignition switch problems over 10 years ago, but failed to recall the cars. Ms. Barra did not know the details of defective cars until December or January, as she became CEO on January 15. Her first change was to appoint Jeff Boyer as the new global safety chief in charge of recalls and other safety issues. He will meet with her once a month to discuss issues. In addition, she discussed the issue in a news conference, as seen in the video below, and started an internal probe of the problem. Ben W. Heineman, Jr. in a post on HBR blog network questioned why these delays occurred in the first place and recommended that business leaders have "robust systematic processes in place for personally leading or overseeing these threats to people and to the company." He gives the following as an approach to managing this type of health and safety crisis. Preventive systems and testing should be in place to reduce the issues to an absolute minimum. As GM has belatedly done, the CEO should appoint a head of safety and rapid response teams to receive reports of serious harms to persons or property that may be linked to product issues. Just as the general company ombuds system reports concerns to the top of the company about serious commercial, legal or ethical issues, the rapid response team should take any issue of potential consequence to the CEO or other high business leaders. Most importantly, the CEO or top business leaders should then form appropriate multi-functional teams relating to: design problems and solutions; internal personnel and processes; duties to regulators; management of litigation; a communications strategy with various constituencies; and any other relevant functions. The CEO or top business leaders must have prompt, periodic, direct reports until there is a good understanding of the interrelated issues. Then they must make decisions on an appropriate response. On these important safety issues, the CEO should also keep the board informed. Both during formulation of the strategy and after, the CEO or top business leadership must ensure that all communications to all constituencies must be strictly accurate. It is better to say nothing—and develop accurate facts—than to issue deceptive or incomplete statements. Once decisions are made about strategy, the CEO must oversee implementation to make sure, as appropriate, that it is meticulously carried out, changing systems both with respect to specific issues and more broadly as necessary, dealing humanely with people injured, and communicating fully and transparently with regulators, media, and other constituents. Questions: What do you think about the CEO's attempts to become the voice to reassure customers that the crisis will be resolved? Are there ethical issues associated with the company's failure to deal with the ignition problem when it was first discovered? The past GM bankruptcy limits its financial responsibility to compensate victims. Should victims be compensated? How might the CEO make this decision?
  • Handling Hostile Questions

    At some point, managers will face hostile questions. The questions might be confrontational, angry, or skeptical. In his book, In the Line of Fire, Jerry Weissman recommends the following three steps, whether you're facing investors, customers, the public, or a boss: Paraphrase the question, minus the rancor. Without this step, you run the risk of seeming defensive, combative, or evasive. The paraphrase shows you listened and it defuses the questioner's negative energy. Answer the question. Include relevant supporting evidence. Conclude with a strong statement that expresses the benefit of viewing things your way. Whenever possible, use a more interactive communication medium, like the telephone, instead of email. You have a greater chance to address what's really on the other person's mind. Attached is the first chapter of the book. When someone screams at you, it is normal to want to scream back! But, managers know that when you start screaming, you've lost control. When confronted by an angry person, with a question, how might you keep your cool?
  • No More Talking Head When Making a Presentation

    Franklin Walton, Ph.D., Principal, Franklin Walton LLC ; Deputy Chair, Media and Communication Arts Department, City College of New York ; Member, Measurement Commission, Institute for Public Relations says that President Obama's 2014 State of the Union " speech is still likely to go down in the history of professional communications as a new milestone in professional communicators’ responsiveness to new consumer media-consumption realities." He lists the standards for the future for a “best practice” speech: 1) The speech is live-streamed (the talking head part) 2) The setting for the live-streaming has been stage-designed to include all those supportive people and tableaus (the entrepreneurs, the military veterans, the beneficiaries of government programs, etc.) 3) The split-screen format provides graphics, images, etc. which illustrate and provide visual cues and emphasis beyond what the video recording of the live event can provide. 4) The smart use of presentation graphics must exemplify the most current and tested methods for PowerPoint-category software and other presentation methodologies. When the most important points are being made by the speaker, there are no graphics: focus only on the face and voice of the speaker (making the emotional connection). The graphics never repeat exactly (but complement) the speaker. And the speaker never, never, never reads the “slides.” 5) If your audience processes information better in “bits” and “tweets” – you can provide it with a live-stream of tweets echoing the live/videoed event. How can managers incorporate the above best practices into their presentations?
  • Fake It Until You Make It

    Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D . is a leadership communication consultant, body language coach, and author of The Silent Language of Leaders: How Body Language Can Help – or Hurt – How You Lead .and The Truth About Lies in the Workplace: How to Spot Liars and How to Deal with Them . In this video interview with San Francisco’s KRON-TV, she shares some tips about exuding confidence (even when you don't feel confident). Which of her tips about projecting success through your body language will you use?
  • How Your Eyes Move on a Website

    Click image to see a larger version 101 on Eye Tracking: How Your Eyes Move on a Website Infographic via Single Grain Choose a company that you would like to work for and visit its Web site. Does the company's Web site follow the six design tips listed above? If not, what would you suggest to the company's managers?
  • McDonald's Social Media Platforms

    Molly McKenna Jandrain, Director of Public Relations of McDonald's USA, talks about how McDonald’s builds its brand identity across social media platforms In the video, Ms. Jandrain talks about getting the C-suite (Chief or Top Managers) to support the use of social media. How did she and her employees get the top managers to listen and understand the importance of unified and consistent brand identity across their social media platforms? How does McDonald's use social media for customer service? What could managers at other companies learn from McDonald's use of social media platforms?
  • The Evolution of Online Education

    Courtesy of: How many online classes have you taken? Participating in an online course is fine, but the nonverbal dimension of the learning experience (where people sit in the classroom, what they wear, whether the teacher stays at a desk or table, stands at a lectern or walks around the room) is completely absent. What do you think is lost by taking a course online, and what is gained? Is the trade-off worth it?
  • Smartphones to Dominate Market

    Erik Qualman shares this Mobile Stats Video Infographic. Sweden's Ericsson AB, the world's largest maker of telecommunications networks, reports that smartphone traffic is expected to grow tenfold in the next six years, with mobile subscriptions predicted to reach 9.3 billion by 2019. Ericsson Mobility Report June 2013 from Ericsson Mobile is the preferred connection mechanism, whether at home or away. Are managers and employees always connected? How does this affect work life and private life? What does this mean for managers and employees? How do smartphones change the way managers and employees communicate?
  • Non-verbal Tips for Your Next Presentation

    10 Powerful Body Language Tips for your next Presentation from soappresentations All managers make presentations. Body language is non-verbal communication. It has been said that , “We learn… 10 percent of what we read, 20 percent of what we hear, and 30 percent of what we see.” So, employees pick up more from non-verbal body language than they do from what the manager says. Yet, managers may be unaware of the non-verbal behavior that they use when speaking to others. Read the tips in the infographic above. How can a basic awareness of body language improve communications and interaction with others?
  • Managers Need Video

    Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually . Study the above infographic. It shows that customers want video from companies. The inforgraphic recommends videos which include a documentary, how-to, expert, promotional, and/or product demo. Employees are customers. What do you think about employees making videos about their jobs and uploading them to YouTube? How is video a good way to communicate? If you were a manager, would you encourage employees to make or at least help make videos? Explain.
  • Setting Up Success with Company Culture

    This infographic from Visa Business states that "engaged employees are essential to for a successful small business." Engaged means you are very interested in what you are doing. The infographic states that most employees believe "a distinct workplace culture is important to business success." This culture includes regular and candid communication, close work friendships, employee recognition, and access to leadership. But, most "employees say their business is not doing enough to create a positive culture at work." When you are a manager, how will you communicate with your employees? How will you recognize (motivate) employees? How will you be accessible (as a leader) to employees?
  • How to Spot Liars at Work

    In this video, Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D, speaks to MBA students at Stanford Business School on “How to Spot Liars at Work.” She offers an overview of why people in the workplace lie, the kinds of lies they tell, and the high cost of deception for the individual and the organization. She gives very specific verbal and nonverbal cues for spotting liars, and a set of questions to ask when developing a strategy to deal with liars. Pay attention to the video section on “how not to look like a liar when you’re telling the truth.” It offers techniques that you can use immediately when interviewing for a job or pitching your ideas to colleagues, instructors, and professional investors. Have you ever known anyone whose ideas got dismissed or disbelieved, simply because they didn't appear to be forthright? What will you do to align your body language with your verbal message?
  • Facebook Introduces #Hashtags

    Facebook announced in a blog post last week that users will be able to click a hashtag to see a feed of discussions about a particular topic. A hashtag is a word or a phrase prefixed with the symbol #, created by Twitter users as a way to identify their messages. Hashtags identify topics being discussed and allow users to search for them. Even though hashtags did't work on Facebook, many people used them anyway. Perhaps Facebook managers read research from Nielsen. " Among tablet owners, general Web searches (76%) and general Web browsing (68%) are still among the top second-screen activities. But consumers are also using second screens for activities that are directly related to the content they’re viewing, as almost half of tablet owners look up information about what they’re watching." It seems reasonable to predict that Facebook will incorporate hashtags into its advertising business. Source: Nielsen Do you think that Facebook added hashtags to satisfy customers or to make more money from advertisers? Explain. When do you want to find out what others are discussing? How do you search the conversations? How could managers use hashtags to communicate with employees?
  • 100 Words Every Expert Author Should Know

    Communication skills are needed by every manager. At some time, every manager must write to employees and other managers - emails, position papers, blogs, wikis, etc. The editorial team at has published an infographic that includes 100 Words Every Expert Author Should Know. Which words on this list do you not know? Did you look up the definition? Do you think that using these words would make you sound like an expert? If you were a manager, would you use these words in your writing? Do you think your employees would look up unfamiliar words? Explain.
  • The Power of Communication

    Helio Fred Garcia, author of The Power of Communication , views communications as an important aspect of leadership. He discusses how to communicate on three levels: strategic, operational, and tactical . To do this, he uses the U. S. Marine Corps' publication Warfighting and applies the Marine Corps' approach to communications. Words matter. Choose words wisely . Words aren't enough. Tell us what you did , why you did it, and what was accomplished. Connect with your audience. Adapt what you say to your audience. Speed, focus, and capture the first move advantage. Always be looking for the next opportunity. Saying it isn't enough. Look self-confident and professional. What can the U. S. Marine Corps and Mr. Garcia teach you? In what other areas could effective leadership communications help you?