Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Today's Question: Why are Mentors So Important?

Yesterday was my last day as a mentor in a school-based program with Big Brothers Big Sisters. For our last session, I had to write a letter to my mentee--I thought about how to provide great wisdom to her as she enters high school and reflect on the 50 minutes per week that we spent together during the school year, etc. Instead, my letter discussed the things that I learned from her--junior high is difficult, getting along with your mom is rough, dealing with peer pressure can be challenging and trying to fit in isn't always so easy.

Sometimes you just need someone (who you trust) to talk to--whether it's about personal or professional road blocks. Your mentor does not have to be exactly the same as you--in fact, it probably works better if they have a different perspective on things from time to time. The key is respect each other's opinions. My time with a 14 year-old middle school student inspired me to find pleasure in the little things in life that are often overlooked. My weekly visits gave me time to decompress and talk about geometry and boyfriends, movies and weekend adventures.

I guess at the end of the school year, I realized that I learned as much from my mentee as she did from me. Maybe it should be called Project Friendship instead of Project Mentor.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Today's Question: Why Do We Have a Problem with Delegation?

No matter where you are in your career, you're probably struggling with (or have struggled with) finding the right balance of delegation.

When you're cutting your teeth at the start of a career, you're trying to accomplish everything, be an invaluable part of the your team and sometimes have a problem saying "no." You want to take on the world, even if you're challenged by both physical and mental limitations...the last thing you want to do is admit that you might need some help--and delegating the project to someone else seems like it's more work than it's worth. Oftentimes, I hear from team members that "explaining a project to an intern will take more time than if I just do it myself."

As your career matures, sometimes managers fall into the trap of delgating too much! Instead of taking on the work as a team, they have the tendency to assign the majority of tasks to more junior-level professionals. They have a hard time finding balance between the activities that others can manage and which ones they still need to remain "hands-on" with...although not always spoken "it's not my job" tends to be written all over their face.

Here are a few steps to help balance the right amount of delegation:
1. Look in the mirror. Decide where and how you need to get involved with projects and understand that you can only accomplish a limited amount of work in a certain amount of time. Also, determine the reasonable amount of involvement on your part.

2. Evaluate your resources. Make sure that each team member is used to their fullest capacity and help capitalize on his/her strengths. If you need to delegate tasks, make sure you are aligning the needs with the natural talents of the individual.

3. Communicate frequently with your team. Remember, you're all working towards a common goal--so if you've called in additional resources, make sure your communicate the expectations and deadlines for the project. If the project requires an extended amount of time, have check-in milestones built into the timeline.

Remember, delegation is necessary in both your personal and professional life, so you better embrace it!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Today's Question: Are All Media Impressions Created Equal?

As the landscape for PR professionals continues to change, we are faced with how to measure our results. Traditional metrics including impressions, CPM and Web site traffics have made way for positive blog posts, Tweets and online recommendations. With that said, many of our programs are still evaluated on impressions--how many people can we reach; how many eyeballs will see our placements. The new question becomes--how many of these impressions are engaged and will result in action?

There are standard multipliers for evaluating a paid versus earned placement, but how do we rate a blog placement or comment on a message board. Aren't these more engaged placements? The overall numbers are smaller, but the direct feedback from purchasers is much more meaningful, so isn't it OK that the volume is less?

It really comes down to a better understanding by professionals on how to evaluate today's programs. So, all impressions are not created equal and they shouldn't be!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Today's Question: Do You Have a Personal Social Media Policy?

Even if your employer doesn't have a social media policy--it's important that you have a personal one. I'm not suggesting that you need to "hide" the person you truly are, but you might want to consider the things you are sharing with the Cyberuniverse. There are plenty of options for privacy blockers that you can use.

You can still participate in the local Sunggie Pub Crawl, just make sure that your photos are "untagged" or blocked from certain connections in your social network!
It's also important to set goals for why you are using social media--entertainment, professional, personal, etc. That way you can determine how you are using the media and decide on the best online persona for you--but don't try too hard. Just because you have a review coming up and your supervisor follows you on Twitter, you don't need to tweet that your work day finally ended at 9pm!
Just make sure that you are comfortable with your social media policy--remember, you might actually have the opportunity to meet or work with some of your friends and followers!