Friday, September 9, 2016

Crisis Management and Communication Webinar Scheduled for October 25, 2016

I’ll be delivering a one-hour “Crisis Management and
Communication” webinar on Tuesday, October 25, 2016 from 10:30-11:30 a.m. EDT.  Go here to register and for more information. 

After beginning with the definition of crisis, the webinar will consider core issues involved in detecting, preventing, preparing for, responding to, and recovering from crises. In the process we’ll look at examples bound to shed light on what has worked, and failed, as individuals and organizations grappled with myriad crises over the years. Finally, we’ll work together to apply lessons learned to help organizations (particularly libraries) develop specific strategies to manage and respond to a crisis.

You don’t have to look very hard to find crises in the news these days. Volkswagen and Chipotle are just two of the many organizations that have grappled with major threats this year. The incidence of such crises and the strong likelihood that we’ll no doubt see many more like them in the future make the subject a crucial one for all organizations to consider.

The one-hour webinar is offered by PCI Webinars, team of experts in training, organizational development and continuing education focused on providing learning-based solutions for library organizations of all types and sizes. Each year the organization presents 100 unique live webinar learning experiences from highly acclaimed presenters and its Learning Library offers more than 150 © Access Now programs available for immediate download. 

I’m concurrently developing a related class, “Crisis Response Communication,” which will be offered for the first time in the Spring 2017 by the University of San Francisco’s new M.A. in Professional Communication. I'll be teaching the course in the Fall Semester 2017. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Guidelines for Incorporating Guest Speakers into Your University Classes

As I noted in a prior blog post, students in my classes rate highly the opportunity to hear speakers from different organizations in the area.  I consider guest speakers an important part of my class plan.  I invite colleagues and others I know whose experience complements mine. I also believe they will communicate well with my students regardless of their age. I haven’t always succeeded in achieving the latter, but my track record is pretty good.  I also invite individuals who some students might envision as career role models.  

Here are guidelines I’ve developed to incorporate guest speakers into my classes:

  • Extend invitations early.  Schedules fill quickly.  As soon as I’ve finalized the syllabus for a course I invite prospective guest speakers.
  • Match speakers with topics covered in the syllabus, as much as possible.  It's optimal to meld readings, classroom discussion, and outside speaker presentations on one topic. 
  • Confirm speakers in writing, and provide necessary details.  Specify the date, time, and location of your class. Describe the topic the speaker will address. Specify how much time will be allotted for the presentation and questions. Share a profile of your students. Include their areas of study, interests, and relevant experience.  Attach a copy of the syllabus and any other material on the class that you feel will be helpful for their preparation.  
  • Secure a biography or resume from your guest speakers. Disseminate it to students in advance of the presentation. 
  • Address logistical concerns in your confirmation letter.  Inform your speaker about the availability of parking, especially if that’s an issue where your university is located. Let him/her know you can secure necessary equipment and/or make copies. Set a deadline by which you must be notified to complete these tasks.
  • Follow up with the guest speaker a week before his/her appearance. Check to see if your guest has questions.  Update him/her on anything that’s happened in class that might be relevant for the presentation. Identify possible questions related to the topic and share them with the speaker.   
  • Check to see if the speaker can stay after the presentation to interact with students. Remind the speaker to mention if his/her company hires student interns during the presentation. 
  • Greet the speaker and introduce him/her to the class.  Be sure to mention the personal and/or professional connection between the two of you. If the speaker makes available to students a copy of the presentation, mention that in your introduction. 
  • When the speaker finishes, announce a break. The time allows students to interact with the speaker. You also can escort him/her out of the classroom. 
  • Ask the students for feedback on the presentation immediately afterwards. Focus student concerns on what they found most helpful in what the guest shared.
  • Write and send a thank-you note to your guest speaker. Incorporate specific points mentioned by students.

Guest speakers are not a substitute for a well thought out lesson plan. Yet they can add enormous value to your class. I’d urge you to incorporate this professional expertise whenever and however you can.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

8 Things I Am Discovering While Decluttering My Hard Drive

I have little tolerance for clutter. I routinely spend time purging and organizing. I’ve enjoyed doing so throughout my life. Friends have acknowledged this propensity for order for as long as I can remember. Hence the gift pictured below. 

There’s been one exception to this orderliness—what’s saved on my computer's hard drive.

I recently realized that I could not procrastinate on this matter. I noticed I had been increasingly unable to find folders and files. I felt like I had to look at what I had accumulated. 

So I’ve decided to spend some time a few days each week to look at documents I’ve saved. It’s been a painstaking and sometimes tedious process—but I continue to find it inspiring. Here are 8 things I’ve discovered so far.

  1. Ideas for new blog posts and other general interest articles (like this one);
  2. New ideas to explore and turn into peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, and/or books;
  3. A reminder about the organizations and individuals I’ve worked with, and the impetus to reflect on what I learned from them; 
  4. A reminder about the different kinds of projects I’ve completed, and the impetus to reflect on what I learned from them;
  5. A reminder about professional successes—and failures;
  6. A trigger to reach out to people in my network with whom I haven’t communicated in some time;
  7. Humility. I marketed my services to a long list of individuals and organizations who did not hire me; and
  8. Awareness of new connections between past reading, writing, speaking, teaching, client work and what interests me now. 
In sum, my trip down memory lane continues to be worthwhile. I plan to take it more regularly. How about you? I believe you’ll be surprised by what you discover among the myriad folders and files.  

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Want to be a Better Leader? First, Become a Better Follower

As I noted in a previous blog post, leaders need the support of professionals to help them achieve organizational success. These followers, in turn, require specific aptitudes and skills to best serve their leaders. Followers need leaders as well. Moreover, everyone must have the skills to transition from followership to leadership roles and vice-versa. 

Like leadership, followership skills can be taught. To that end I’ve developed a workshop to introduce critical success factors for followers. Through individual activities, small group work, case studies, and discussion, program participants will learn to:

  • Debunk myths and embrace realities about the importance of followership for leadership; 
  • Identify followership styles; 
  • Determine how personality, work style, career goals, and organizational issues shape followership attitudes and behaviors; 
  • Identify key attributes of effective followers;
  • Assess their own followership style;
  • List daily activities to foster a mutually productive relationship with their supervisor (“manage their boss,” in other words); and 
  • Develop a personal improvement plan to cultivate followership skills.

I tailor the material to meet the needs of participants and their organization. This followership workshop can be presented online or in-person. 

For more information on bringing this workshop on followership skills to your organization, contact me at 415-517-5756 or dr.mitchell.friedman (at) 

Monday, August 22, 2016

5 Guiding Principles for Managing Talent As If People Really Mattered

“No matter how you treat people they’re going to complain. You might as well treat them badly.” My boss at the time made this matter-of-fact utterance to no one in particular for a reason I can’t recall. But I remember it 25 years later. That speaks to how these words captured what I felt was the core belief of that employer and future ones.

That boss swore and yelled at staff. Another was a micromanager; the next did all of the talking but none of the listening. Finally, there was the narcissist. 

In retrospect I see how I barely survived these work experiences. My emotional intelligence at the time was no match for the toxicity I encountered. Yet I did survive. I made mistakes but I learned from each experience. 

All the while, I longed for a true work-based community—one where employees were treated ethically and fairly. At the same time they worked tirelessly to fulfill the organization’s mission. This organization is one where people really do matter. The workplace is comfortable, safe, and conducive to getting things done. People like to be there. Employees enjoy interactions with each other and management. In-fighting and office politics are minimal. Conflict is seen as an opportunity for learning and is embraced, not avoided. Authenticity is cherished. 
Five guiding principles inspire how this organization manages its talent. They are as follows:

  1. Everyone in the organization acts as a person first and an employee second. Job titles don’t excuse illegal, inappropriate, or unprofessional behavior. Moreover, personal issues take precedence over professional ones. That means employees can tend to significant life events without fear of retaliation.  
  2. Employers and employees thrive in a mutually beneficial relationship. It’s based on trust, respect, and accountability.  
  3. Work provides a vehicle for employees to maximize their potential.
  4. It’s a priority for employers to help employees to succeed. When employees succeed, the employer succeeds. 
  5. Employees receive regular feedback on their performance. Changes in roles or responsibilities are not surprises. They’ve been addressed in previous conversations.   

I’m describing an organization that places a premium on communication and collaboration. I recognize these concepts are easier to embrace in good times. Yet they’re especially critical when something does not go according to plan. Managers and employees in this organization will respond with a solutions-oriented mindset. They’ll forgo the need to throw someone under the bus or make him/her a scapegoat. Individual and/or group responsibility, if any, can be addressed when the situation has stabilized. 

You may consider my perspectives outlined here idealistic if not na├»ve. I nonetheless remain committed to find or otherwise manifest such an organization. It’s where I wish to devote my professional energies in the not-too-distant future.