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January 2012

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Got work?

Upon returning from the holiday break, the first order of duty was to conduct a survey of recent UST MBC “capstone” students.  Communication Leadership Priorities—usually taken during the last semester of the program—offers students the opportunity to coalesce their education into a final research project, among other things.  The group surveyed represented all the students that took this course in 2010 and 2011. 

The focus of the survey was to validate something that I had been noticing as the instructor of the course, and in the months following graduation as the program director.  It seemed as though many students finishing the program were finding new jobs or getting promotions, even though this period of time was particularly tough on that front.  The results both validated those perceptions and surprised me.

One hundred percent of students from the three sections offered the last two years participated.    Of those, about 25 percent indicated they were not seeking a job change during the eight months before and after taking the course.  Of the remaining students, those looking for new positions, 95 percent indicated getting a new job or promotion within eight months before or after completing the course.

While some specifically indicated the value of the capstone project or the MBC curriculum as factors leading to new opportunities, the consensus appeared to be that the combination of the degree completion, capstone and other factors associated with their education contributed to successful career advancement.

I wonder… if we surveyed a random sample of communication professionals who were seeking new jobs during the same timeframe, would 95 percent of them have reported similar success?  Probably not.

Thanks for participating,  congratulations to all those recent MBC grads and best of luck to the 25 new students starting the class this spring!!

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Resolving to Solve

In just a couple of weeks we enter “a New Year” and many people make resolutions to change something in the near future.  Beyond the fact that January 1 remains a fairly arbitrary time to resolve change (I vote for today, now, in this moment…), we tend to stay personal with these commitments.  When was the last year you, or even someone you know, resolved to solve a problem – at work or in the world?  Much less actually following through on the task.

In any business discipline, leaders face constant streams of action and therefore change, but only a fraction of that change is strategically driven.  Even in the best organizations, something could be refined. 

In communications practice, we do not always take time to audit our messages and materials.  Certainly we develop annual plans that should tier down from the business plan goals and strategies of the organization, but often this does not include a pulse taking of what we have been doing – in the context of all communications of a firm.  We naturally tend to deal with things on a more tactical level, addressing the ad, brochure, web page or other material in front of us at the time.  Even with a comprehensive and well nurtured communication platform and style guide, communicators easily migrate off message if they don’t make a commitment to regularly return to the source. 

Conducting a communication audit should be a part of annual planning, but periodically revisiting the concept when working on individual tactics helps keep things from migrating to an “auto-pilot” mode.  More importantly, taking time to put tactics into context should ultimately raise the caliber of work.  Further, the activity has the potential to keep the message managers more tightly tuned to the organizational leadership – assuming you are all sticking with the plan – or at least evolving that guide in parallel.

So, as you approach the future, whether between December 26th and January 1st or Thursday the 5th of whatever, consider what issues might be solved, resolved or evolve by taking a little time to think about the drivers and context of the work at hand.  Basically, forget the resolving part, because it makes the effort a win-lose proposition.  Just do it.

Wow, that was a little preachy.  Maybe I’ll resolve to do less of that next year…  nah.