Archive for Harvard

Make Employees Happy by Nurturing Their Social Networks

Motivate employees, Happiness

Nurture employees social networks

When the prestigious Harvard Business Review devotes most of an issue to happiness, you know that happiness is a serious topic. The magazine cover is entitled “The Value of Happiness: How Employee Well-Being Drives Profits.”

I particularly enjoyed the interview of Harvard psychology professor Daniel Gilbert in an article entitled The Science Behind the Smile. He’s the author of the international best seller Stumbling on Happiness. The study of happiness has devolved into a science whereby you can measure a person’s happiness at a moment in time. Science is in. Intuition about someone’s happiness is out.

What Makes Employees Happy?

Dr. Gilbert is quite clear about what makes employees happy. He says that people are happiest when they are appropriately challenged, “when they’re trying to achieve goals that are difficult but not out of reach.” He adds, “Challenge and threat are not the same thing. People blossom when challenged and wither when threatened.”

When threatened, an employee will get the work done, he says, but thereafter do his best to undermine you, will feel no loyalty to the organization and never do  more than he must. But employees will flourish when rewarded, based on a century of psychologists studying reward and punishment. Read More→

The Difference Between Branding and Positioning

[tweetmeme]The web has become the preferred source of information about your company.  It’s a fact.  That’s where your employees, customers and prospects are getting their information about you.   So, it’s more important than ever that your brand attributes and key messages are communicated in language that is clear, concise and compelling. Nothing less than your reputation is at stake if you get it wrong.

Name Brands

A bottle of Coca-Cola.

Image via Wikipedia

When we speak of brands a few immediately jump to mind:  Coca-Cola, the world’s most valuable brand, Google, and Facebook, for example.  Coca-Cola has been around forever and built its brand over time.  Google was launched in 1998 and quickly became the leading search engine.  It’s a noun and a verb when you “Google” something.  Facebook is a Harvard case study of how a company built a global brand in the space of six short years (by co-founders who attended Harvard).  Facebook is ubiquitous.  Does anyone need to explain what Facebook is?  The brand is crystal clear.  Nowadays, brands are built and destroyed in Internet time.

Individuals have personal brands too.  Oprah, Elvis and Sting are three entertainers with such recognizable brands all you need to hear is their first names to know who they are and the values they represent.

The word “brand” has come to have many definitions.  When you are building your brand it is important to use a common vocabulary so that you and your colleagues are working from the same script.

What is a brand?

•    A brand is what an organization wishes to be known for.  It is a pro-active strategic process to establish the direction, leadership, clarity of purpose and inspiration for the organization’s mission.  It is an inside-out process.

What is positioning?

•    Positioning is how an organization and the services it provides are perceived in the minds of its target audiences.  It is looking from the outside-in.  The challenge is to have your brand and positioning in alignment.

What is corporate identity?

Image via CrunchBase

•    Corporate identity is the visual expression of the organization’s name, logo, and tagline.

How do you define a brand, positioning and corporate identity?

Will a Harvard Degree Boost You to the Top?

[tweetmeme]Well, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg went to Harvard and look where they are now —   founders of Microsoft and Facebook.  But wait a minute.  Didn’t they drop out before graduation?

Both were computer nerds but for sure Harvard didn’t teach Zuckerberg how to build a Facebook community of 500 million people across the globe.  Harvard is a fine university and many of their graduates have gone on to unbridled success in business, the government and the arts.

Community Colleges Beckon

But Harvard and other Ivy’s aren’t the answer for everybody.  What our educational system needs now are different tracks for different folks.  Only one-third of high school graduates attend college and, of those, half drop out before finishing.   So where is the next generation going to acquire the skills to succeed in an increasing technological society?

The answer for many is community colleges. The enrollment of these unsung institutions is 8 million and growing.  They are so important to the future of our country that the administration held a White House Summit on Community Colleges in early October.  A paper they issued touted these advantages of two-year institutions:

  • Affordable tuition
  • Open admission policies
  • Flexible course schedules
  • Convenient locations

Most important, in my view, community colleges are retraining older students to build new skills for an increasingly technological society. It’s exciting that these colleges are working with businesses, labor and government to create tailored programs in nursing, health information technology, advanced manufacturing, and green jobs.

Industry-Community College Partnerships

Many CEOs and other high-achievers attended a community college. One is William Green, who is chairman and CEO of Accenture, the world’s largest management consulting firm with approximately 150,000 employees in 49 countries.

Mr. Green, the son of a plumber, started his academic career at Dean College, a two-year school in St. Franklin, Mass. Now he and his company are giving back.  In 2007, Accenture launched the annual Accenture Junior and Community College Scholarship for students transitioning from junior and community colleges to four-year institutions to continue their education.

10,000 Small Businesses

In an initiative called “10,000 Small Businesses,” the Goldman Sachs Foundation is unlocking the growth and job-creation potential of 10,000 small businesses across the United States through greater access to education, mentors and financial capital.

In a pilot program at LaGuardia Community College in New York, supported by the Foundation, local business owners can learn new skills.  Rosalie Safier, whose family owns National Van Equipment, received counseling and learned the art of negotiation, mastered Microsoft Excel, and developed a business plan for growth.

Skills for America’s Future

At the White House Conference, the administration launched a “Skills for America’s Future” as an industry-led initiative to dramatically improve work force training partnerships with community colleges,  The Gap said it would expand community college partnerships in seven metro areas, including in-store job shadowing, interview and leadership training, and scholarships. Other participating employers are Accenture, McDonald’s, United Technologies and Pacific Gas and Electric.

Collaborating with community colleges is good corporate PR.  But more importantly, these companies are ensuring that they will have the trained employees that are essential for their future growth.

About the Author:  Jeannette Paladino is a seasoned communications pro helping companies to engage their customers on social media, and to leverage their employees as brand ambassadors for their products and services.  Visit her at Write Speak Sell.  This post was written for the Blogging for Education Contest.