Wednesday, July 4, 2018

The Age of Incivility: the Loss of Civil Communication on Social Media

The hashtag #civility has been popping up on Facebook and I'm sure, on other social media platforms, and for good reason. The divisive political climate (and equally divisive rhetoric), coupled with the incessant social media chatter around us, has given rise to increasingly gross, distasteful, and hateful attacks across the digital space.

Why all the hate? Can't we all just agree to disagree?

Social media provides a veil behind which people can hide. It enables users to go after people they don't even know, whose views run counter to their own. But it's often not a matter of, "I respectfully disagree." It is very often vehemently hostile, crude language flung at complete strangers, often about topics that might not even direct affect the flinger's life. Even in matters that many of us care about deeply, and may or may not impact our daily lives, why is there no civility in the responses? Why all the knee-jerk ugly reactions that are cluttering up our feeds?

Humans are attached to the need to be right, often at great cost. As is often seen on social networks, that cost is one's personal dignity and social civility.

There is ample digital real estate for civil discourse, a sharing and an exchange of views in a respectful manner. There are people with whom I am connected, and some with whom I work, that do not share my politics, religion, ethnic or cultural background, or views on societal matters but we find the common ground upon which we can converse with civility. We respect each other as fellow citizens and colleagues. As a former boss used to tell me, "Be tough on the issues but easy on the people." Would that more of us would heed that advice.

We see the hostile comments everywhere. Twitter threads devolve into acidic stews of vitriol. Facebook comments turn ugly in a tap of a key. Internet trolls throw major shade, convolute stories, bully total strangers. I've even seen it occasionally on LinkedIn of all places (speaking of, please keep your posts related to business there). Sniping and cursing at people unknown to the user, a friend of a friend perhaps, is commonplace. It's also offensive and unnecessary. Remember what the teacher said: If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything. Or take it offline and keep it away from the rest of us who just want to enjoy each other's company.

The real news/fake news battle is not helping matters. Before you post that incendiary story or react to the WTF-worthy headline (and perpetuate the hate, intentionally or unintentionally), read the actual article. Find out the source; is it an actual news organization? Check or if you must, if the story seems too crazy to believe. Likewise, don't believe every meme you see; remember that someone created it and the quote might not be true, the story not factual, the attribution incorrect or out of context. We can all help cut down on the vitriol if we take a few minutes to check something out before spreading rumors and ill will. (Image: Nick Youngson Photography)

By the way, one positive feature about scrolling through your feed to see what your connections are talking about is that you can keep on scrolling. Don't stop. Don't react. Just keep on going if you don't like the conversation. Or, take a deep breath and type a considered, considerate response. It's easy to do if you are not attached to proving a point but to sharing a viewpoint instead.

I encourage you to take many deep breaths as you scroll through your feeds, consider writing responses rather than reactions, respect each other's right to opinions and world views, pass over the posts you don't like, and help bring back #civility to the social media discourse. It was once there and this is entirely possible.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Video Content Enhances Employee Training in a Social World

Imagine a large and diverse workforce across age, race and gender—even locations. Then imagine having to get all those employees trained in various corporate initiatives and make sure they are getting it—and sharing what they’ve learned with their employers and co-workers. In today’s on-demand, highly visual world, video content can make “onboarding” and training happen more easily and efficiently.

Companies can create online content libraries for employees that include streaming videos, interactive e-learning courses, reference materials, e-books—all the materials needed to get a workforce up and running and on the same training page. The American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) estimates that nearly one-third of learning content made available is some form of e-learning; online employee training (web-based training) is part of that. 

Virtual learning via shared content allows new employees to watch and read orientation materials and training packets in formats that younger workers are accustomed to (images, video). Employers can engage employees online and develop better internal communication through interactive video/online content. Companies will also save money by offering standardized video content to employees anywhere, anytime as opposed to in-person training sessions across locations or departments.

Among employees, having a team watch videos for learning, and then having them discuss the content in the training room/classroom, is a valuable way to enhance their learning and gauge a training program’s success. Acceptable lengths of these videos are anywhere from 5-15 minutes—short and to the point. (NOTE: If you are posting tutorials online for other users, or something more promotional about your services or products, go much shorter, maybe 2-3 minutes max.) states that companies that use video content report achieving organizational goals more and have higher levels of employee engagement.  

There are some very salient reasons for why adult learning via short-form video works so well in the workplace, particularly around adult learners and their particular attributes. Remember, adults come to the workplace and to learning from a variety of backgrounds and with a broad range of experiences and knowledge. Therefore, a department of diverse employees will participate in learning differently but they do share some common characteristics that make online content a valuable training tool.

·         Adults are likely to be more self-directed and autonomous; they might also be juggling family needs with work or other issues. Therefore, they like the as-needed, when-needed access of online content in the training mix. 

·         They appreciate being able to control the pace and timing of their learning within the company structure, giving them more independence—and enabling them to focus on the content when they are most able to do so. They learn best when they are ready to learn.
·         Adults also come to the training room with a host of learning differences, so providing content they can access at their own pace allows them to soak it in more effectively. 

·         Adult learners are practical. On-demand video is convenient and does not have to disrupt the work day. It makes sense for shift workers who are clocking in at different times. Aside from being a practical consideration many employees will appreciate, they’ll also like that their time is being respected (and who doesn’t like that?).

  •   Adult learners are motivated by relevancy. Those short bursts of relevant content are more engaging for them. 
  •  They are also goal- and task-oriented so relevant content, available when they want it, makes it easy (and satisfying) to check off employee training tasks on that company to-do list.
  •    Targeted videos that are relevant to the task at hand (or training module) will appeal to adult learners, who are relevancy oriented.
  •   Learning online can curb any inhibitions older adult learners may have in a mixed classroom with millennials.
  •     BYOD (bring your own device) and the mobile applications being developed daily make video content a must-have training tool for contemporary companies.
Then there’s the millennial learner, those employees in their 20s and late 30s who’ve grown up in a video-and-image environment. They are accustomed to digesting countless hours of video, they have been served visual online content for years—and so incorporating video content into a training program will engage them more powerfully than having them sit and be lectured to.

In a social context, once the team has accomplished the e-learning tasks, they can interact with their co-workers and share their particular knowledge, experiences and perspectives about the content. Therefore, it’s important to provide a social component to the video/online training. Polls, quizzes, and surveys that employees can complete and share with each other boosts their engagement in the workplace, among each other and with their supervisors.

From interpersonal skills to sales and marketing techniques, employee onboarding to training on industry-specific compliance issues, video content as a training tool has limitless possibilities. When paired with social sharing—of ideas, feedback, knowledge—video content can be a powerful tool in a company’s content arsenal. 

Need scripts for your training videos? Contact StarrGates Business Communications: