By: Laurel Farrer
Ohhhhh book club buddies, we just came back from the Yonder Conference during which our attendees gave some awesome book recommendations for remote work and business management inspiration. We can’t wait to read them with you! But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, because October’s book may very well be the father of all other awesome business books: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.
In our modern world of screens, social and conversational skills are rapidly deteriorating. Our businesses are too concerned with efficiency, scaling, and sales to take the time for personal customer service and sincere compassion. In other words, never has there been a time that we needed Mr. Carnegie’s timeless advice than now!
While reading this month, we learned that Carnegie and Associates has released an updated version of the original 1936 concepts in How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age. We can’t wait to get our eyes on those pages! In the meantime, we’ll be applying the tried-and-true practices of the first edition to our management of today’s virtual teams, more than 80 years later.
In case you are a newcomer to American business culture or need a refresher course on the content, here is an outline and summary of the book:
Techniques in handling people
Don't criticize, condemn, or complain.
Give honest and sincere appreciation.
Arouse in the other person an eager want.
Six ways to make people like you
Become genuinely interested in other people.
Remember that a person's name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
Talk in terms of the other person's interests.
Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.
Win people to your way of thinking
The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
Show respect for the other person's opinions. Never say, “You're wrong.”
If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
Begin in a friendly way.
Get the other person saying “yes, yes” immediately.
Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.
Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers.
Try honestly to see things from the other person's point of view.
Be sympathetic with the other person's ideas and desires.
Appeal to the nobler motives.
Dramatize your ideas.
Throw down a challenge.
Change people without giving offense or arousing resentment
Begin with praise and honest appreciation.
Call attention to people's mistakes indirectly.
Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.
Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.
Let the other person save face.
Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be “hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.”
Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.
Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.
Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.
Business leaders have been following this advice and revolutionizing their companies for decades now. In our opinion, all of it is solid gold and should be implemented in any company, regardless of the location of their employees. But Yonder exists to support virtual organizations, so which specific takeaways can we apply to remote work from a book that was written almost half a century before the invention of the internet? Here are a few ideas:
Without officemates, it’s easy to feel lonely and unrecognized in a distributed company. (That’s why isolation is one of the top three remote work killers.) Carnegie reminds us that humans “...are not creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.” As leaders, we must create opportunities for our team members to feel recognized, valued, and appreciated as an individual, not just as a worker.
Create culture-building Slack channels where employees can bond over topics other than work.
When wrapping up meetings, give personalized feedback and gratitude.
Send thoughtful gifts with each employee’s interests in mind.
Humanize your internal processes, customer service methods, and marketing strategies.
In a distributed company, your only presence is on a screen. No wonder job applicants and prospective customers are wary - there is nothing to distinguish you from a scam! Even internally, a CEO or team leader could be nothing more than a dummy email address. So enhance your legitimacy by showcasing your humanity.
Be eager to communicate via phone instead of email, and/or use colloquial language in messages.
Don’t put your executive leadership on a pedestal. Make sure everyone from the CEO to the administrative assistant is equally represented internally (on Slack and at retreats) and externally (website profiles and client interactions.)
Invest in real-time customer service support instead of using an FAQ page or chatbot.
Create a culture of caring.
Virtual collaboration processes are often much more efficient than their co-located counterparts. Sometimes too efficient. When we’re not together as a team, we forget to get to know the other people that “surround” us. Even further, communicating with the buffer of a screen seems to give people a new sense of bravery to say whatever is on their minds, without considering the effects of their messages on the reader. (Hello, internet trolls.) To encourage staff loyalty, it’s crucial to integrate the golden rule into your culture and processes.
Integrate opportunities for small talk and complements into your collaboration and reporting rituals.
During performance reviews and feedback sessions, focus on encouragement and respond to feedback quickly and thoughtfully.
Create collaborative job descriptions to fuel fulfillment and intrinsic motivation
Like we said earlier, we are stocking the Yonder Shelf with some awesome material in the coming months. Up next for November: The Great Game of Business by Jack Stack. Read along with us and share your thoughts on Twitter @yonder_io with #YonderShelf.