August 2009 – Behavior Matters!

Month: August 2009 Page 1 of 2

Are 140 characters a bonding moment?

Are 140 Characters Considered a Bonding Moment?

Have you ever noticed that when you are speaking with your colleagues that much of the conversation revolves around surface level things? Things such as the weather, project updates, weekend plans, and the recipe for the great veggie dip from the potluck lunch.

As improbable as it sounds, it seems like there are often more in-depth conversations going on within social media sites like facebook and Twitter than between colleagues in the workplace. There seems to be a shift in how we interact with each other that is taking place. This new form of conversation can reveal a more authentic side of people. Is it because it is easier to connect with others who you may not know? When I sit down and stare at my Twitter home page I am 140 characters away from connecting with hundreds, if not thousands, of people around the world. This is appealing in many ways for us as we truly enjoy connecting with people. Technology has made connecting with individuals from anywhere in the world very easy to do. The dark side of this is that when we log off Twitter or facebook we can feel like we are missing something. Are we missing an opportunity to bond with someone?

The 4-drive theory shows us that the drive to bond is a fundamental human drive. People can recognize and understand it immediately when it is happening real time. As human beings we have a drive to connect with other people and the depth of those connections will vary based upon your relationships with them. We bond differently with different people, at different points in our lives and for different reasons. The common aspect is the desire to have a positive relationship with other another human being. We do this through sharing stories, exchange ideas, and listening to one another.

The question is this – how does technology impact our drive to bond? Can the drive to bond be satisfied 140 characters at a time? Do we need to have the happy-hour hang out scene after work in order for this drive to be filled, or can we bond effectively without ever meeting a person face-to-face? Is technology becoming just another avenue for us to bond or is it shifting the very nature of the bonding experience?

Based upon our limited experience, we feel that technology is shifting the very nature of our interactions. The ability to share thoughts and ideas with the world, changes how we communicate. That change can also impact how we connect with others. It provides opportunities for greater sharing and more revealing conversations. For many people, it is easier to tweet about a thought or idea than it would be to share that thought or idea coworkers. On this level, it can foster greater bonds. However, we’ve also realized that there is power to having face-to-face sharing. When Susan attended Blogwell, she met many tweeters on the bus and at the conference and because of the human aspect of meeting them in person, she was able to bond faster and with more trust. The real potential, as we see it, is in being able to meld these two forms and garner both the emotional aspects of face-to-face bonding with the deeper insight and discussion that often comes with the help of the electronic word.

We would welcome your thoughts and comments?

Science supports new ideas on motivation

Dan Pink does a fantastic job in explaining some key science around incentives and motivation. This ties into the four drive model – showcasing the fact that we don’t leverage people’s motivation by money alone. Watch and enjoy.

Take a minute to say thank you the “write” way

thank you

thank you

I received a hand written thank you note for a project I did a few months ago.  It was not only a pleasant surprise, but one that has maintained some impact after several months.  I’m of the age that when I first started in work, we used to give recognition through hand written cards and notes on a regular (ok, maybe not so regular) basis.  With the advent of e-mail and electronic forms of communication, the hand written thank you has gone the way of the pay phone – not quite dead, but pretty close.

There is something very special about a letter or note or thank you that is written by hand.   It has a lot of stickiness in today’s electronic world – it stands out from the crowd.  It also provides a sense of real appreciation – one that has taken a little bit of extra effort to do.

We did work with a large med device company this spring in which we interviewed a number of their sales people.  These people were very highly compensated, had significant incentive earning opportunities, and fantastic recognition programs (valued at $10,000s of dollars).  What struck me, was the impact that one VP of Sales had by writing hand written letters of appreciation to his top performers.  One sales person went so far as to frame the letter and had it hanging in his office (note – he did not have the plaques or other awards that he earned up in his office).   These letters had a greater recognition value and motivational impact than some programs that cost millions of dollars to the company.

So please excuse me, I’m going to go write a few thank you’s by hand.


The Drive To Bond and How We Screw It Up

We all have a drive to bond.  The desire to form meaningful, positive relationships with those around us.  Research shows that this drive is one of the strongest motivators that we have as humans (see Baumeister & Leary, 1995; Lawrence and Nohria, 2002).  Think of the impact that this strong human drive could have on business performance if harnessed?  Think of the extra effort that you exert for your friends when they are in need – now apply that extra effort to a business.

The problem is that businesses typically see bonding only as something done in a team building session for an afternoon at the National Sales Meeting.  Or worse, that bonding is idle chit-chat that steals company time and resources.  How many organizations have you seen with policies regarding time spent away from the desk, on the internet, or using social media at work?  Think about those companies that have strict policies regarding office fraternizing or dating.   Or think of the norms that have been established about not mingling with your employees or being their friends after work.  All of this is wrong!

Now I understand that there are reasons for these policies (legal issues, productivity lost, sandbaggers, etc.).  The fact is, these policies inhibit bonding and socializing at work.  The fact is, that bonding can be used to help motivate and inspire your workforce to higher productivity, more responsibility, and greater results.  The issue is that companies need to pro-actively work on this – and that’s not easy.

There are a number of ways to foster increased bonding.  Th first is to remove the roadblocks that inhibit socialization.  Examine your policies and procedures to see if they can be eliminated or changed to help people get to know one another without serious loss of productivity.  Then focus on creating a culture that encourages bonding and team work.  Create opportunities for people to meet and discuss.  Foster conversations between groups and levels within the organization.  Identify social media tools to help people get to know one another on a more personal basis.

Here are a just a couple of ideas:

  • Create a breakfast/lunch topics series – have people give a short presentation on a topic of their interest
  • Start a job sharing/learning forum – one of the best ways to form a relationship at work is to help people understand what everyone does and how they do it
  • Start each meeting with fast facts – a quick go around about something each person has recently done or is planning on doing

Give us some ideas of yours – we’ll not only post them here, but also on Twitter!

Blogwell: Top 3 Insights


A week ago today I attended the Blogwell Conference  in Minneapolis, MN.  It was a wonderful event packed full of great content but after the 4 hours my head was spinning!  I since have had time to process the event a little bit further and I have discovered three key insights:

  1. Try, Try Again, and Keep Trying
  2. Small Business Advantage
  3. Authentic Conversations

 Try, Try Again, and Keep Trying

The Blogwell Conference was geared towards larger corporations and the lessons they have learned thus far in implementing and embracing social media.  One of the presentations I attended was by McDonald’s.  The key insight I walked away with from their presentation was to try something and if it does not work revise and try again, and if that does not work, revise, and keep on trying. They were persistent in their social media efforts.  In an organization that is as large as McDonald’s, that includes a layer of franchises in the business model, this equates to an interesting dilemma on how to use social media.  The utilization of social media has taken on a tailored and customized approach, not only for their customers, but for the employees as well. The interaction with their customers is from the approach of, “Once we’ve created the relationships, it’s all about cultivating them so that eventually, hopefully, they will become key brand ambassadors for us,” said Heather Oldani.  They went out and did some research on what their employees would like in a web based community.  Station M was created with their input and, “the whole idea of which is to give the crew a place to come and engage with each other,” stated Steve Wilson.

Small Business Advantage

The surprise insight was that big business may have the overwhelming brand recognition and large consumer base but small businesses in general have the social media advantage.  The Lantern Group, Inc. is considered a small business and as we have been implementing various social media solutions it had never occurred to me the advantages we had with social media.  The layers of bureaucracy within large organizations can stifle or shut down any social media project.  The social media advocate within the large organization may spend more time selling the benefits of social media than actually getting started on the implementation and utilization of social media.  This is a key advantage for small businesses. As a small business there was a bit of investigating, selling and cost benefit analysis before we implemented any social media tools but this process took less than two months.  The surprising thing was that although there is a learning curve to social media tools, setting them up was fairly quick and user friendly.  But like Mc Donald’s we have tried things, revised, and tried again as we are continuously learning and growing about what works, what our customers want, and the best way to deliver the information.

Authentic Conversations

This reflective insight came from the last blog post I wrote on Monday, (Blogwell Unleashes Your Brain), where I discussed the authenticity of the conference attendees and how social media can bring out authentic conversations.  Some big and small businesses may struggle with social media because of their inability or fear of being authentic in their communication and actions.  Think about it, when is the last time any conversation on authenticity took place in the average cubicle dwellers workplace or for that matter in the local Chamber of Commerce meetings for small businesses?  The industrial age thinking of when you walk into your place of work you are no longer ‘you’ with your own voice, opinions, and perspectives you are now part of the organization and thus must think, act, and behave according to their rules. The industrial age mindset is still a part of many organizations and like any change this mindset will collide against those individuals within the organization that want to engage in authentic conversations.  There is hope, listening to the many presenters at the Blogwell Conference showed that there are engaged and visionary leaders in larger organizations who are trying to figure out social media. I believe it is not a coincidence that companies who have embraced innovation throughout their history are also embracing social media, i.e. General Mills.

Social Media will continue to evolve and change how we communicate with our customers and our employees. My hope is that one day all of the cubicle dwellers and the Chamber of Commerce attendees will become engaged in the incredible conversations and share their authentic voice.

Susan Stone


Blogwell Unleashes Your Brain


Last Thursday, August 13, I attended the Blogwell conference at General Mills, HQ in Minneapolis, MN. It was my first social media conference and I really did not know what to expect but I was excited to check it out.  The afternoon was filled with 8 different social media case studies from a variety of corporations. 

From the moment I arrived at the Ridgedale parking lot, to wait for the shuttle that would transport us to General Mills, I was observing my fellow conference mates.  I was fascinated from the cross section of people that were waiting in line for the shuttle. The demographic spread was pretty cool; young, old, male, female, purple, green, small business, Fortune 500, and pierced. The variety of individuals on the van was pretty amazing to witness.  This same variety carried over into the larger conference.  I was intrigued by the attendees and wondered what does this mean…was social media the catalyst for this gathering of way cool people? My thought – definitely yes!  

For the next four hours I would meet some amazing people and I was impressed by how friendly everyone was and how open they were to helping each other out.  The wall of pretenses that usually surrounds conference attendees did not seem nearly as prevalent in this crowd. In fact, I sincerely believe that the authenticity of social media was present in this group and maybe that is it. Utilizing the various social media tools fosters authenticity and transparency so it should not have been surprising to me that meeting the real people behind their twitter and blog names were ‘real’ people! They were genuine, sincere, eager to listen, teach, and share their knowledge and expertise.  

One of the presentations that I enjoyed the most was Scott Monty from Ford.  Ford is one of the top 10 brands utilizing social media. Scott Monty has really paved the way for integrating social media with business processes and communication.  He shared a video where he and the CEO, Alan Mulally were utilizing twitter ( I really enjoyed this snapshot because it showed a unique collaboration. I smiled when Alan Mulally stated that what has prevented him from twittering is his typing ability so Scott Monty was typing for him so Alan’s, “brain could be unleashed into the world.”

Can you imagine how many other voices are out there that are not sharing their incredible talents because they lack a particular skill? It makes me wonder and it also makes me hopeful that even if we lack a particular skill the drive to learn can be a powerful motivator to help unleash our brains into the world!


Innovation Principles

We typically talk about motivation in this blog – but not today.  Today I’m recommending a cool blog that I’m following called metacool by Diego Rodriquez –  Diego is a design guy.  He talks about design and is inspired by design. What is truly fascinating though, is the 21 principles he has been developing around innovation.  Here are his words about that:

These principles are intended to underpin a general theory of innovation.  They are not meant to be principles of design thinking, though some of them are obviously closely related to the theory and practice of design thinking.  Inspired by the simplicity work of my friend John Maeda, I’m trying to figure out what I think and know at this point in my life when it comes to all things innovation.

He is through 17 of them so far.  They apply to more than just design (as he states) – they can be applied across disciplines.  This is where it becomes very cool.  How do we innovate around motivation?  Take principle number 1, how do I “experience the world  and not just talk about experiencing the world” In other words, “How do I experience motivation, and not just talk about motivation.”  This is key to innovating (as Diego has pointed out).  If we are to truly innovate around developing better ways of motivating, we need to experience motivation and not just take this and that piece from various theory’s.

I encourage everyone to go out and look at Diego’s blog and to think about the current 17 principles.  I know that I am.



Pay: Cost or Investment?

Susan and I had the opportunity yesterday to hear a presentation on assessing pay evaluation by Mark Wallace and Tim Hill of the Hay Group. In it, they talked about the difference between when companies look at pay as a cost or when they look at it as an investment. The difference in how these two world views impact behavior is significant.

When pay is viewed as a cost, it is managements job to minimize it. With this perspective, companies tend to look at pay benchmarks, limit pay increases and create estimate salary budgets for review. However, when pay is viewed as an investment, management’s job is to optimize that investment. Companies actions take on a whole different flavor. With an investment perspective, companies look at how pay drives performance and motivation. How does the pay structure align with the roles and responsibilities of the job. How does the pay opportunity spur employee motivation or engagement. How can pay, recognition, benefits and incentives be leveraged to drive organizational success – as measured on many levels (not just cost savings).

Which pay philosophy do you think is better? I know which one I do.

Let us know your thoughts!

Lessons from the Good Old Days…I Double Dog Dare You

Double Dog Dare

My first management experience was back in college and back then email was not the main communication tool you used with your team and cell phones were only used in the movies.  As an Assistant Director of the Residence Halls, I managed a small team of Resident Advisors.  It was old school communication; you met with your team in person and set expectations, reviewed the policies and procedures of the hall, asked questions, and even enjoyed moments of pure fun without the distracting email or texting clickety clack noise in the background.  

Technology has helped communicating with teams in many ways, especially when many teams have virtual or remote locations. But some days I long for the good old days when communication took place first and foremost in person and without cell phones, emails, or texting capabilities.

I miss…

  1. The Unspoken Language:  I miss the non-verbal cues that are present in an in person meeting. Something is missed when a team meets on a conference call. You can hear the voice inflections but you can’t see if they are rolling their eyes, read their facial and body language, or even know if they are actually paying attention during the call.
  2.  Free Flow Conversation:  Meeting with a team in person can be beneficial not only for getting things done but for also connecting and bonding with your team. The one off conversations before and after a meeting seem to flow easier than if the meeting was on Skype or a web conference. Technology burps happen, those unexpected hang ups, disconnects, or heaven forbid user error events disrupt the flow of a meeting and it takes people 10 minutes or more to get back on track and refocused.
  3. Cloud Distractions: Before the days of cell phones, email, and texting the biggest distraction during an in person meeting might have been the big puffy clouds floating outside.  And if you were in a brainstorming meeting those big puffy clouds could have inspired the next breakthrough product idea. Today it seems as if we are in a constant holding pattern, like trained dogs that come when their owner whistles we hear the incoming email or text noise and our immediate reaction is to look. Despite our greatest efforts not to look we still do!  The number and magnitude of distractions have increased along with the expansion of technology.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy utilizing technology and harnessing the amazing benefits that it has to offer but I also like to harness the amazing power of bonding with a team in person.  Managing and inspiring a team is more of an art than a science.  The next time you schedule a conference call and you are all in the same building why not meet in person, I double dog dare you!

S. Stone


Do you really know what makes you tick? OR You think you know what motivates you – but you really don’t

Climbing Mountain




We believe we know what gets us up in the morning and rearing to go – don’t we?   If someone asked you what motivates you, you would be able to tell them – right?  Our ability to reflect on our own motivations is a belief that we all think we do well.  I would argue that we are fooling ourselves and we really aren’t as good at it as we think.

Case in point, research has continually shown that when asked what type of reward employees think would be most motivating or that they would most want, they choose “cash.”  Our own research shows that when asked, 70% to 80% of employees  typically listed cash as the top reward.  However, when you actually look at studies that show performance lift, non-cash awards have a greater impact.  Dr. Dan Ariely, the author of Predictably Irrational recently blogged about this (See  He cites an experiment done with Goodyear Tire company in which non-cash rewards improved performance more than double what the cash rewards did.  In fact, there are numerous studies that support this idea.

So how can it be that if asked most people would state they prefer cash incentives but perform better when offered non-cash incentives?  Part of the reason is because we don’t really understand what drives us?  Cash is easy.  We understand it.  Economists point out that cash has “utility” – in other words it can be used to purchase any number of items that we desire.  Non-cash is not so simple.  We might not like the choices we have or feel limited by the selection.  So what gives?

Dr. Scott Jeffrey’s has done much work on understanding this phenomena  (see  Much of it comes down to how we evaluate, separate, justify and are socially reinforced by each incentive.   In other words, we evaluate the value of cash and non-cash differently resulting in a higher value placed on non-cash elements do to affective factors (we can visualize ourselves with a new 56” TV and that gives us a good feeling – this is one step removed with cash).  We also tend to lump cash bonuses in with our paycheck and it isn’t seen a separate, special reward.  We have to justify spending our cash awards on luxury items such as the above mentioned TV instead of paying down the mortgage – not so when we are only offered luxury items.  And finally we tend to not talk about the cash we earn to our peers and friends – but we do tend to talk about that new TV (or trip to Hawaii, or new Golf Clubs, etc…) and are socially reinforced by the bragging rights of those conversations.

So back to the initial question of understanding our motivations – we can see that there is much more to the story than asking people what motivates them.  The fact is we don’t always consciously know what motivates us (think Freud).  So while asking your employees what  they want is a good first step, make sure it isn’t your only step.  You need to dig a little deeper to get at their underlying drives.

Kurt Nelson


Page 1 of 2

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén