Helping your remaining team heal is critical for your company’s future

A woman working at home participating in a team video conference call.
A woman working at home participating in a team video conference call.
Photo: RichLegg/E+/Getty Images

More than 22 million Americans have lost their jobs in the past month. In recent days, we’ve seen poor decisions made by executives who have laid people off via text message, conference call, (or, even worse, if that’s possible, via a two-minute Zoom call).

The way you handle layoffs — and equally important, how you tend to employees who are staying — says a lot about the emotional intelligence of the executive team. If you truly can’t avoid layoffs, empathy may be the most important tool in your toolkit as you determine a layoff strategy, including which employees not to…


It’s time for steady decision-making and lots of repetition

An African American businesswoman looking pensive while at home, in front of her laptop.
An African American businesswoman looking pensive while at home, in front of her laptop.
Photo: DMEPhotography/iStock/Getty Images Plus

The coronavirus pandemic — and its economic impact — is already proving to be an intense stress test for businesses of all sizes and types. Many leaders are under tremendous pressure, navigating uncharted territory with no clear end in sight. While executive teams are busy reexamining their financial models and forecasts, they still must juggle the day-to-day, which now includes staying in close communication with anxious employees and offering them a steady stream of empathy, candor, and motivation.

During times of uncertainty, defaulting to over-communication with your employees is important. …


What even smart companies get wrong about core values

A businesswoman leads a white board session and presentation in a conference room with her colleagues.
A businesswoman leads a white board session and presentation in a conference room with her colleagues.
Photo: Thomas Barwick/DigitalVision/Getty Images

In his new book Facebook: The Inside Story, journalist Steven Levy recounts a time in 2009 when employees wanted to articulate what Facebook stood for. How did they describe it to potential hires, or for that matter to mom and dad? HR gathered employees in small groups to hash out the best descriptors. Out of this came four key values they presented to Mark Zuckerberg: focus on impact; be bold; move fast and break things; be open. …


There’s no need to fake your way through awkward interactions if you focus on the opportunities you already have

A photo of business people networking in an office building with glass windows at night.
A photo of business people networking in an office building with glass windows at night.
Photo: 10'000 Hours/Getty Images

No question about it: The need to “network” leaves most of us cold. The gripping and grinning, the fake-hearty small talk — all for the sake of a hoped-for introduction or lead that may never come. A necessary evil, right? But what if I told you that it doesn’t have to be this way — and that the most important network you build is the one you already have?

Where generic networking brings to mind a faceless mass of people, connecting with people at your company happens for all the right reasons. You’re already collaborating with your team and other…


With workplace activism on the rise, a deliberate internal comms strategy can help create ownership and stave off worker alienation

A woman speaks into a microphone, asking questions while standing amidst colleagues.
A woman speaks into a microphone, asking questions while standing amidst colleagues.
Photo: Morsa Images/DigitalVision/Getty Images

“When I grow up, I want to manage employee communications,” said no one. Ever.

This is a line I’ve tried on friends who do manage employee communications, to admittedly thin laughs. They get the (intended) joke: It’s not a role people know much about, let alone aspire to. But it’s become an absolutely critical function for any company employing humans.

Naive company-builders might think employee communications (aka internal communications or employee engagement) requires only a steady stream of motivational messages and reminders about benefit deadlines — a “nice to have.” Nope! You don’t have to look far to see that…


Photo by ND Strupler. CC BY 2.0.

About four and half years ago I came to work at Twitter. I already knew a few of the founding team, and had grown to love the service through launching and running @google for a couple of years. I love the immediacy of the platform, and how its constraints fuel wholly original uses (@twitmericks, @dick_nixon and @realtimewwii come to mind) — these and millions of other #onlyontwitter moments where cultural figures and memes collide (a recent favorite: #force4ham).

Today I love Twitter more than ever, and its remarkable power as a world-changing communication tool and rich information utility. And there’s…


Photo by Franco Folini. Creative Commons license CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Recently I was lucky to be invited to TEDxSanQuentin, one of those “independently organized” gatherings done in the TED talks style, and under the aegis of the high-end conference. I jumped at the chance. San Quentin looms large in the public imagination, especially in the Bay Area, being an really old prison (established in 1852) with a dramatic setting on the very edge of the Bay. Perhaps more to the point, I’m an old liberal who routinely votes down new jail construction and am a long-time opposer of the death penalty. …


December invariably invites a look back over the closing year, and that can quickly lead to assessing one’s life to date. I’m as susceptible as anyone to this progression, and always conclude that I’m so grateful for where I am and all I have. Naturally, charities count on many of us wanting to act this sort of feeling, as they should. That’s why we all hear from worthy organizations from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve.

Last year, I was inspired by Nick Kristof’s year-end giving list, so I decided to document my charitable donations this year. If you believe that…


or, how I spent my summer vacation.

Photo: Drake Goodman CC

“To enter a theatre for a performance is to be inducted into a magical space, to be ushered into the sacred arena of the imagination.” — Simon Callow

Growing up, I wouldn’t have pegged myself as a theatre lover. I’ve always leaned towards non-fiction and documentary; I dote on real-world news. For me, stories are always more powerful if I know they spring more or less directly from life. Not for me, as a child, the world of make-believe, and you won’t catch me pretending to be someone else, or even dressing in a way that…


Palmer David Wickre, c. 1932.

He would be astonished by my world

My dad died 40 years ago. He was such a creature of his time and place that I like to imagine him returning, a centenarian-plus, and me catching him up on all that’s happened since he left. (If I’m to be strictly chronological about it, I’d start with Nixon’s resignation. But that would make him unhappy. He related very much to Nixon-as-underdog.)

Dad was a child of the prairie, of the Great Depression, and of stern Norwegian farmers whose grandparents had taken advantage of the 1862 Homestead Act. He didn’t speak English until he was seven. He suffered tuberculosis as…

Karen Wickre

Connector, word wrangler, reality checker; communications advisor, author (“Taking the Work Out of Networking”), Marker columnist (https://marker.medium.com)/.

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