Coaching for Sociability

Which exercise you suggest for improve sociability?

If you would improve sociability, especially for people that are tendencially introverted, what you suggest? which exercise can help? what else?

Daniele Carnicella [LION]

Instal Base Administration Manager at Philips

What a great question. I’m a social introvert (my wife would say “sociophobic”), but a business extrovert. I know others that are the life of the party, but can’t form a coherent sentence in a meeting. It’s a very personal thing and everyone needs to work through it in their own way. The only general advice I would offer is 1) Find out if they *want* to improve their sociability and 2) If so, help them with opportunities to *gently* expand their comfort zone.

If the problem is being in a large group of people, then let them know that you’ll stick with them and play “anchor”. If the issue is engaging in conversation, reel them in and engage them. If it’s public speaking, put them in charge of an agenda or assign them a 2-3 minute status update every week. Start with small doses and help them work through whatever they feel is a problem. If they don’t see it as a problem, then don’t mess with it. Not everybody wants to be an extrovert and you may do more harm than good.

Dale Carnegie also offers a number of courses and programs that may be valuable. But they’ll only have value if the person actually wants to change.

Links:

The Value of Virtual Teams

Are there any advantages of virtual project teams to the project or the team?

Other than benefiting the individual does the project or the team benefit from virtual operations or virtual team members?

Dan Light

Win More Federal Business

Most definitely. Virtual project teams allow you to pick the best people for your team regardless of geography. The benefits to the individual generally make for happier and more productive team members and you often get unique insights and perspectives that you wouldn’t get from a co-located team.

The challenges, of course, are the lack of personal contact. The camaraderie and team dynamic that comes from co-location and the non-verbal communication and nuance that comes from a face-to-face team. I’ve found that the best way to deal with that is to bring the entire team together on some neutral ground for a kick-off meeting. Use the opportunity to do some immersive team-building and force the awkward socialization with exercises and assigned seating at meals to mix the team up a bit. If you have an opportunity to do some brainstorming around your project or initiative, that’s also an excellent way for team members to get to know each other personally.

Once you have that “personal connection”, the virtual team tends to work much better together than a group of semi-anonymous voices on the phone or in a web-meeting.

One other “gotcha” to be aware of (and one that most organizations overlook) is that if you have a co-located group and a bunch of virtual team members, meetings will often have an underlying “us vs them” dynamic. People in the room will have side conversations that don’t carry through to the virtual team. Virtual team members will IM each other or exchange background emails and it’s easy to divide the team. I generally use an “all or nothing” approach. If the team is virtual, meetings should take place entirely on the phone or online (even if some of the team sits next to each other). Make extensive use of online whiteboards and other information sharing tools. It’s too easy to exclude virtual team members if you have a group of people physically meeting in a room.

Clarification added August 28, 2008:

I would also like to note that I find virtual teams to be better at communicating issues than face-to-face teams. (at least once they’re established). People today are much more aware of the need to communicate clearly and effectively when it’s in an email or IM. Verbal communication is much more fraught with nuance and interpretation. There are advantages to both approaches, but I find that once a virtual team gets over the initial hurdle, the communications are generally more efficient and precise than face-to-face teams. Your mileage may vary.

Should your business allow staff access to Social Networks in the office.,,. while using them to build business traffic?.

Facebook on or off? I recently suggested to a client that to add value to his new website – he needs a Facebook and Myspace presence for his company … a recruitment and temporary staffing business. His reply was that he was turning off access to them because his staff waste to much time there.
How do I convince him to balance the benefits with the distractions?

Rick Carter

Helping People/Organisations to Build Dynamic, Vital Brands using Social Media Marketing

Social networks are a double-edged sword.

There’s a lot of value to social networks for business contacts, customer interaction, feedback, and just providing a “human face” to the company. But when you blur the lines between the business and personal interactions, you run the risk of someones “off hours” activities reflecting poorly on the company. The flip side of that is that you may find yourself in a position of trying to exert control over what amounts to someone’s personal life.

My recommendation is that the access be allowed, but that personal profiles and “company presence” profiles be kept seperate. Make it clear that the “company presence” profile is subject to review and audit and has to conform to some sort of “appropriateness” guidelines. (also, that it shouldn’t be linked to personal profiles…if it is, they become subject to the same guidelines).

Encourage peer review of the profiles or assign someone to periodically review how these profiles/presences are maintained and managed. It’s not that much different than an employee writing letters to the editor or giving public presentations or interviews. If they’re doing it on behalf of the company, let them do it on company time, with company resources and while adhering to company standards. If it’s personal, then do it on your own time and keep the company out of it completely.

Where it gets a little more hazy is with sites like LinkedIn. It’s clearly a business tool and people can easily maintain professional profiles, relationships and exchanges that are business appropriate but not neccessarily related to the company. I tend to view these as “professional development”. If my staff wants to engage in these discussions, it helps to develop business skills, grow their professional network and helps to increase their overall value to the company. Each exchange is like a little “mini conference” or Users Group meeting without the cost of travel and living.

With that said, if they spent 6 hours a day on social networking sites, they’d better spend the rest of the day working on resumes 🙂