Right message, wrong people

How many of you saw the video with Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake making fun of the rampant use of hashtags? If you didn’t, it’s hilarious – here it is.

At the time of this posting, this video had been viewed 17,572,521 times (I’m at least 3 of those) and it has 6,731 comments.

The message is pretty clear, and A LOT of people have seen it. Hashtags are overused. Stop it.

Yet people are still using hashtags at an alarming (and comical) rate! Some of you might be wondering what a hashtag is and what the big deal is?

A hashtag (#) has been used (primarily) on Twitter to group tweets together to make it easier to follow a conversation. For example, if we were talking about roller coasters, I might put #rollercoasters at the end of my tweet. You could search for that and all things “tagged” that way would appear.

The trend of hashtagging, however, has turned into a way to convey a thought very quickly without much context. And, it’s now being used everywhere, not just on Twitter. Here is an example.

“Work was horrible today! #wanttogobacktobed #whycantifindabetterjob #iwanticecream”

I thought the Fallon/Timberlake video was a funny but poignant call for an end to all this hashtag foolishness. Yet it still persists.

This reminds me of leaders who identify an issue with one or two employees and set out to fix it by gathering their staff for a meeting and addressing it with everyone.

“This way, everyone is aware and is on the same page”, is the rationale.

Really? Let’s take a look at how this plays out… #forreals.

  • The people who had the issue may not realize you are talking about them. They may assume you are talking about someone else… Wrong message gets to the right person.
  • The people that have no stake in this issue wonder why you are talking to them about this, since they know it’s not their issue. Once they realize it’s not about them, they tune out. Wrong message, wrong people.
  • For those with a guilty conscience or a small inkling that it could be them, ultimately figure it’s not since you haven’t addressed them privately. If it is them, they’ll just wait for you to bring it up again before they worry about it. Wrong message, wrong people.

None of these scenarios accomplish getting the right message to the right people. The best way to do that is to address these issues individually. If someone is overusing hashtags, for example, talking to that person about their specific issue is the only way to ensure that that individual gets the message. This gives them the chance to ask questions and to clarify what you mean. Even your best efforts to “open a meeting to questions and concerns” will fall short of achieving the kind of clarity a one-on-one meeting can produce.

Next time you have the impulse to address everyone, STOP. Is this REALLY an issue that involves everyone?  If not, address it with the individual, unless you want the behavior or issue to continue. 17.5 million people have seen this message about hashtags, yet the trend continues.




Matt’s new book, The Myth of Employee Burnout has not been read by 17.5 million people… yet. #youshouldbuyacopy

Make it easy for people to like you

I don’t know if you have a 4 Rivers Smokehouse where you live, but we’ve got a few around here (Orlando, FL), and they are incredibly popular.  How do I know this? Because I see one of these on about 1 out of every 5 cars driving around town.

4 rivers copy

As my wife and I started noticing how many people had affixed these to their cars, two questions emerged: When are we going to try it? And, how good must it be for ALL these people to put a bumper sticker on their car?

It wasn’t until we asked a friend (who had on of these on her car) what the deal was. It was all then very clear.

It’s a magnet.

So while you might really like 4 Rivers, you can express it without the long-term commitment and potential paint damage that a bumper sticker provides. They made it easy to like them (and share that with others).  That’s smart!

How can we apply that same notion to our work environments?  How can we make it easy for our employees to like us and recommend us?  Unfortunately, I don’t think it is as easy as a bumper magnet, but maybe it’s not that tough, either.

Everyday your employees are making decisions about their experience with you.  Is it good, is it bad, what do they like, what do they not like?  Then, their actions show how they feel.  They like more stuff, they perform better.  They don’t like stuff, they become a pain in the rump.

We often talk about looking at things from our guests perspective to make sure we are meeting their needs… how often do we do that with employees?  How often do we put ourselves in a position to experience what they experience, to go through what they go through, to deal with US when we are at our best and our worst?

If we did, we might find what I like to call “emotional pinch points”.  We all know what a physical pinch point is and why it’s good to avoid it, but how many of us pay attention to the things impact the emotional well being of our employees?  It could be a small thing… maybe some illogical process that’s been in place for many years regarding how employees get paid.  You don’t even notice it now, it’s just a part of the process.  To an employee, looking at it from another angle, it’s a weekly frustration that slowly builds up and accumulates with any other pinch points they may experience.

It may take some time, but these pinches add up, and could eventually outweigh any of the good deeds you are doing.

Your challenge is to look at things from your employees’ perspective.  Get into their routine, experience what they experience.  If you find something that bugs you, immediately multiply that by 250 (average number of days a typical full time employee works; 2000 hours x 8 hours/day).  You may experience it once and think it’s not a big deal.  Now do it 250 times and see how you feel about it.

If you want some more ways to make sure you are providing a great environment for your employees, check out this great article my friend Shaun McKeogh wrote for FUNWORLD magazine!

Thanks for reading!


Also from the author: The Myth of Employee Burnout outlines Matt’s quest to get to the bottom of why some employees start off strong but then eventually fizzle out.  As one reader said, “This [book] is a must have for any leader that cares about the development of their team. You will not be disappointed.”  Can’t argue with that!  Available through Amazon or www.performanceoptimist.com.