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Welcome to Futureforth

We teach companies how to reach their people.

We are a social media strategy, digital marketing consultancy, and communications company based in Nashville. Our goal is to teach you inbound marketing, social media best practices, and everything you need to succeed with content marketing including your blog, email newsletter, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and other favorite social networking platforms.

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The Futureforth Blog

Helpful tips and articles about social media strategy, content marketing, and business networking. 

Filtering by Tag: communication

5 Significant Recruiting and Retention Issues for 2019

Dave Delaney

If you're an HR professional in a growing company, your skills matter now more than ever.

Unemployment has reached record lows, and recruiters are finding it difficult to get candidates to consider their open positions. Moreover, companies are struggling to keep current employees from jumping ship for better offers.

Here are the five most significant recruiting and retention issues HR will face this year, according to a range of industry experts.

1. Company culture depends on corporate communication.

Corporate communication and company culture go hand in hand. A company that fails to effectively communicate goals, expectations and impending changes to current and future employees can undermine its own effort to improve the quality and productivity of both individual employees and teams. Poor communication can ruin employee morale and create a toxic work culture that can leach into customer interaction. Companies where this occurs will lose customers and eventually fail.

"The larger the organization, the larger the potential problem," said Mark Lewis, co-founder and CEO of HelloCecil, an automated video-interviewing software provider in Newport Beach, Calif. "An organization is always well-served to invest time and money on training programs and workshops that elevate verbal and writing skills, presentations, listening skills, dispute resolution skills, and [the ability to] provide and accept feedback; systems for addressing complaints or dissatisfaction; and the like."

2. Time management is imperative.

Recruiters and HR generalists are responsible for finding and hiring the right people, screening resumes, scheduling interviews, documenting feedback and writing offer letters, training new hires and reinforcing the organization's culture. Time management is a top priority.

The problem, said Trent Bryson, adjunct professor of human resources at Long Beach State University, is that the HR staff typically is mired in everyday tasks and can't carry the banner of the company's brand or focus on big-picture items.

"HR professionals wear so many hats that they do not have the time to focus on company culture, strategic initiatives and supporting future plans," said Bryson. "Instead they get stuck doing payroll, basic office management and reactive tasks."

HR analyst Laura Handrick agreed: "HR is about people, and HR staff need to focus on improving people's performance, not managing paperwork and building PowerPoint [presentations]." Handrick works at FitSmallBusiness in New York City, an online resource devoted to helping small-business owners. 

If there's any time at the end of the day, HR staff may want to work on bigger initiatives that will have a lasting impact, such as finding ways to hire more high-performers and improve company morale by, for example, offering competitive salaries, workplace benefits, free food, staff outings and more. 

"Reduction of manual HR processes provides lots of promising opportunities for HR professionals. Automation and digitization will free HR leaders to do more strategic work, like workforce planning, coaching and talent management-related activities," said Chris Groscurth of Slalom Consulting, a business and technology consulting firm headquartered in Seattle. 

3. Leadership support is crucial.

Achieving strategic initiatives is difficult when there's no budget for them. This is when leadership investment becomes critical. HR needs a champion in the C-suite to get the buy-in to achieve talent acquisition and retention goals. Such initiatives can help reduce the number of dissatisfied employees, which lowers turnover and saves the company money. 

HR professionals should seek a champion among vice presidents and in the C-suite to help them push their initiatives through the higher levels of the company. They should also work closely with senior leaders and educate them on the companywide problems that HR can help solve.

4. Avoid hiring the wrong people.

It happens: You've hired the wrong person. Now you've noticed a definite decline in the mood and satisfaction of the employees who work with the new hire. You're reminded why the business adage "hire slow and fire fast" is so important. 

When you realize you've hired the wrong person, remove him or her before too much damage is done.

"It's the most difficult decision to make, but letting people go at the right time is the best you can do for all stakeholders, [new hire] included. Trying to make [a negative relationship] survive is not the right thing to do," said Emna Everard, founder and CEO of Kazidomi, a health and beauty product e-commerce business based in Europe. 

5. Brush up on local legislation.

Businesses that grow beyond their hometown need to know the employment laws of the areas where they are doing business. That means understanding the rules regarding hiring, training, privacy and other workplace issues. 

HR pros may be faced with several compliance or practical challenges as their company grows into a multistate operation, and they must create policies that will cover and benefit all employees.

"If a business operates across state lines, neighboring states may have separate and sometimes conflicting laws related to overtime pay or sick-leave accrual," said Stacey Dennis, a senior human resources specialist at Houston-based Insperity, a provider of HR and administrative services.

If a company is expanding globally, its policies must take into account the different countries' labor and employment laws and customs and traditions, and the organization should carefully manage communications between different cultures.

Need solutions? Download our free guide, 5 Essential Ways HR Pros Can Survive and Thrive in 2019.

Three Ways Improv Can Help Your Business

Dave Delaney

Reprinted from the  Nashville Business Journal  by Joel Stinnett - October 19, 2017.   

Reprinted from the Nashville Business Journal by Joel Stinnett - October 19, 2017.
 

Have you heard the one about the company that hired a social media strategist to teach their employees how to perform improv comedy, with the expectation it would improve office communication skills and improve employee retention?

Probably not, because it hasn't happened yet. But networking guru and public speaker Dave Delaney is hoping that will change.

Delaney, who runs a consulting practice called Futureforth, is launching Communication Reboot, a new service aimed at teaching improvisation to businesses.

Many business leaders may wonder why they'd want their employees learning how to crack jokes on the fly and goof off. But Delaney, who graduated from Second City Toronto's improv course and still performs with the Nashville Improv Company, said he knows firsthand how improv can help a company.

"I know what it's like to work in an office and how mundane it can be," said Delaney, who also teaches improv to non-corporate clients. "I also know how valuable the lessons learned in improv can be to anyone, but especially to teams and businesses."

With that in mind, Delaney shared three ways improv can benefit your organization.

3 Ways Improv Can Benefit Your Organization

1. Improved listening skills and acceptance — Delaney said improv teaches you how to be silent and truly hear people. He said the fundamental rule of improv is, "Yes, and...," and he incorporates exercises into his training that emphasizes that principal. In one drill participants must listen to their scene partner to know what to do next and always begin their reply with, "Yes, and..."

"It's the idea that, 'Yes, I accept what you are saying and I am going to build on it,'" Delaney said. "If we are doing a scene as two plumbers working on a toilet and I say, 'Hey pass me that wrench,' and you say, 'It's not a wrench, it's a hammer,' then the scene doesn't flow. But if instead you replied, 'Yes, and here are some pliers,' then we have an idea to build on."

Delaney said this not only teaches people to listen, it teaches them to be open-minded. People become more accepting of other people's ideas and learn to build on them rather than automatically dismissing them. When teaching improv, Delaney also has students participate in a drill called, "Yes, but..." to demonstrate how much more difficult it is when you start from a place of contradiction.

2. Overcoming fear — Delaney said improv puts people in vulnerable situations and teaches them to think on their feet. Most people have a crushing fear of public speaking, he said, and improv gives people the confidence that they can handle stressful circumstances in front of a crowd.

Delaney said he was once giving a presentation to a health care company in front of 200 executives in a room and 20,000 employees streaming it online. He said instead of using his own equipment he used the company's. Shortly into the presentation, he was impressed that everyone knew the answers to the questions he was asking the crowd.

"I like to use slides and visual aids. I asked the crowd how many people they thought were on LinkedIn and every single hand went up. I turned around and the slides were advancing on a timer instead of with my clicker," Delaney said. "Under those circumstances some people would jump off the stage screaming and crying but I really tapped into the improv skills that I have learned and was able to push through."

He said it also teaches people to share ideas with colleagues and management without fear of rejection.

3. Employee retention — Delaney said businesses today, especially technology companies, are becoming more aware of the importance of culture. He said there is a talent gap in Nashville's tech industry and programs like Communication Reboot can help with employee retention by improving morale and team building.

Delaney said he tailors the course to the company and the department he is teaching and that pricing is determined by the size of the group. He said he is offering the improv training in Nashville and throughout the Southeast.

"Improv is a great way to improve company morale and educate people on communication," Delaney said. "And it's fun. It's a fun way to spend a half of a day with your coworkers."

Reprinted from the Nashville Business Journal by Joel Stinnett - October 19, 2017.

Your Communication Reboot awaits! Contact us today

Improve Communication with a Reboot

Dave Delaney

Business improv for tech companies

Picture a six-year-old boy standing on a stage in front of an audience. The school production is of Little Red Riding Hood. The little boy stands erect, his arms spread out on each side, facing stage left and stage right. He's wearing Buster Brown shoes, brown corduroy slacks, and a forest green colored turtleneck shirt.

At an earlier date, the boy was to play the woodsman, who would rescue Little Red Riding Hood in her moment of wolf-related terror. He had trouble paying attention in class and was considered the class clown. One too many antics led to his demotion from playing the courageous hero to becoming a background actor as a boring, old tree.

His direction was simple. The replacement woodsman would act as he was chopping the tree (played by the boy), when suddenly he would hear Little Red Riding Hood's screams for help. He would take one final swing of his axe into the tree, and run off stage to her rescue. The tree, would simple tilt to the left as if slightly cut from the axe. The lights would go to black and the scene would end. That was the only action the boy would have in the play.

The proud parents in the audience were enjoying the children in the performance that evening. Everything was going as planned until the scene with the tree and the woodsman. When the woodsman heard Red's cries for help, he swung his axe one final time, only something unexpected happened. The tree tilted forward instead of to its side. The boy, standing erect, fell forward to land flat on his chest in the center of the stage. He probably yelled, "Timber!" in his mind as he slammed down onto the stage. The audience roared together in a moment of absolute hysterical laughter. The only face in the audience not laughing was the angry teacher, who directed the performance. Her punishment of the class clown had backfired. The boy's improvised fallen tree scene stole the show.

That boy was me.

I have always had a love for comedy and performance. This is why I bring humor into my presentations and workshops. I've seen presentations on similar topics that I speak on which lacked humor and ended up being dry and dull. I always aim to get the audience laughing as I present, so we all have fun together.

Improving with Improv

Back when I lived in Toronto, I studied and graduated from The Second City's improv training program. If you're not familiar with improv, picture the TV show, "Whose Line Is It Anyway?"

I went on to perform improv in Canada, England, Scotland, and Ireland. In fact, when I lived in Galway, Ireland, I founded an improv troupe. We performed every Thursday night at a local wine bar, and I also provided corporate improv training.

When Hubspot hired me to speak at their Inbound Conference a couple of years ago, I decided to create a new presentation entitled, "Improve with Improv". I've included the twelve-minute video below for your viewing pleasure. I wanted to share how I apply some of the key lessons from improv to my everyday life, so that others can too.

After the Hubspot event, I was craving to perform improv again. So, I auditioned to join the Nashville Improv Company. To my happy surprise (and Heather's shock), I was accepted as a cast member! For the last year, I've been performing improv every month or so. It's been wonderful to tap back into a deep passion of mine.

My consultancy, Futureforth, is all about helping others learn how to use digital marketing for their businesses. What I didn't really consider until recently was the fact that what I do is all about communication. In fact, I did the famous Strengths Finder personality assessment and discovered my top strength is - communication (followed by consistency, woo, activator and harmony).

Being a solopreneur means working alone most days - not by choice, it's just how it is. My favorite moments are spent with my clients and audiences in-person. This got me thinking about how I could offer something new to help my clients improve their communication.

Light bulb moment! IMPROV.

There are countless articles about how improv training can help companies improve their communication, employee morale and retention, culture, listening and presentation skills, plus… it's a heck of a lot of fun to spend half a day (or a full day) away from your computer and playing with your colleagues.

"Whether you're selling a product, an idea or yourself, learning to listen, connect and play like an improviser can make all the difference." - Inc Magazine.

"If you want to get ahead, work on your improv skills." - Wharton College School of Management.

"Improvisation – and the improv toolkit – offers great grounding for leaders challenged to thrive in a business climate that demands agility, resilience, quick thinking, and ease with ambiguity. Counterintuitive as it might seem, business is often an act of improvisation, not planning. So we say “lights up” on the era of the leader as an improviser." - Harvard Business Review.

If you want to improve your business, I have no doubt that improv will help. I want to prove this to you by coming to your office and providing your team with a fun-filled morning or afternoon of improv exercises. 

I'm calling this my Communication Reboot. Let's talk about how I can help you use improv to improve your business today. Hit contact and let's chat.

5 Ways to Listen Better

Dave Delaney

Author Julian Treasure spoke at TEDGlobal in 2011 about ways to listen better. He emphasized that we are losing our listening. "We spend roughly 60 percent of our communication time listening, but we’re not very good at it. We retain just 25 percent of what we hear."

We are doing ourselves and our friends, family and colleagues a disservice by not listening well. Consider Treasure's suggestions the next time you are speaking with someone.

Take the next 7 minutes to watch (and listen to) his presentation, 5 Ways to Listen Better. I have summarized his tips below, but I recommend watching the video to truly grasp his message.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSohjlYQI2A

  1. Silence. 3 minutes a day. Use this to reset your ears.
  2. The Mixer. Note how many individual channels of sound you hear in your environment.
  3. Savoring. Enjoy mundane sounds.
  4. Listening Positions. Positions include active, passive, reductive, expansive, critical, empathetic, and many more.
  5. R.A.S.A. Receive. Appreciate. Summarize. Ask.

Are you a good listener?