How CEOs Can Build A Better Work Team In 2012

Deborah SweeneyBy Deborah Sweeney, Forbes Contributor, West Coast CEO who knows small business and entrepreneurs.

Truly a Lightbulb Moment

Got a resolution for 2012 at the workplace yet?

Or better yet, what are the resolutions that your employees have for the company next year?

These resolutions could be lofty. Nab every sales call, land the biggest accounts, open offices in every major city overseas. They could be set on a smaller scale too. Leave earlier in the morning to avoid getting caught in traffic, ask for more beverage options in the kitchen, delegate tasks to other department members more often. All good goals for any team to work towards, but difficult for a CEO to process when they don’t know what their staff resolves to work towards, if they plan on working toward anything at all.

If you’re stuck in a place where the progress forward looks cloudy, this is the time to work on building a better work team for 2012. A team that is roaring and ready to go and certain of how their place in the company can lead to its eventual success. Building this team takes time, talent, and creativity. Sometimes it requires hiring new people and firing those who aren’t doing their part. More than just shooting off a couple of emails and hoping for the best, your team for 2012 will rely on you to think outside of the box as well as inside at some of the common sense bits that get overlooked. From new hires to clones, here are my tips on the building for the better within your company team.

1. Look Beyond Business BAs and MBAs

Not every person who gets hired for your business needs to be strictly all about business. Who will handle the legal division of your firm, the public relations aspect of your brand, the IT work for when the computers suddenly crash? A grad degree in business is attractive on paper, but not useful in every setting. Look into hiring candidates with backgrounds in other studies like communications that you would typically pass over.

2. Don’t Hire A Clone Of Yourself

Great minds think alike, but a greater mind will want to work with a team that expresses a slew of opinions and ideas across the board. Working with a team that is just like you won’t challenge your company to grow in a new direction if you all agree on the same things all the time. It’s easy to want to hire someone just like you, but more rewarding in the long run if you get someone to offer what you cannot to the table.

3. Allow Employees To Be Involved In The Hiring Process

Get an idea of whether or not a potential employee will be a good fit within their department by inviting the managers and senior staff members to the job interviews. They may have questions and concerns related to their field that you won’t touch on that decide whether or not a future hire is the best decision to make

4. Explain Company Culture To Your New Team Members Early

Welcome to the team! Beyond just your employee handbook, there are rules to the game of working within the company. Some work teams are much more by-the-book in terms of how to conduct yourself and may be much more quiet and soft-spoken. Others are willy-nilly and a lot more extroverted and open to embracing new ideas with members encouraged to leave their shyness at the door. A new hire needs to know the company culture early on so this isn’t so much of a shock to their system.

5. Answer Questions, Communicate Often

Future goals and upcoming projects will have a series of questions that come with them, especially if a team member is new. Hold plenty of open discussions and meetings to provide insight into what you’re working on. Keeping communication lines between all team members and yourself is key to the success of the project and the overall organization as a whole.

6. Hire People With Different And Complimentary Personalities

Much like not having dozens of clones of yourself, don’t do a similar thing with your favorite employee (and don’t play favorites either). It’s cliche to say it, but your team needs to have the snowflake effect where no two think or behave exactly the same despite having similar strengths in their field. Personality goes a long way and can work to give your company the face and voice it needs if it doesn’t already have a defined one.

7. Hire Milliennials

They are young, eager to please, tech savvy, and well educated. And if you treat them well, they will stay with your company (though not forever which is to be expected). Interview the bright young things and bring them on to see what they’re made of. You might find yourself to be pleasantly surprised.

8. Pay Your Interns

It isn’t a practice that every company commits to or can commit to, but at the very least offer a stipend if you decide to bring in seasonal interns.

9. Don’t Outsource Your Social Media Team

Gets kind of hard to create a voice for your online persona if the person creating it has never visited your office or interacted with your employees before doesn’t it?

10. Offer Flexible Schedules

This is a rule of thumb for both new hires and longtime employees. Circumstances do arise where not every member of the team can be there to make a meeting. If multiple members can’t do it or aren’t ready just yet, offer to reschedule the event. Employees with additional commitments outside of work like family or school will also appreciate a flexible schedule in being able to accommodate their lives and still work.

11. Encourage Employees To Pursue Outside Interests

Beyond just being a CEO, you may serve as a mentor to some of your staff. And your staff isn’t here solely for the company itself. They may be actively pursuing acting on the side or writing or engaging in other hobbies that could turn into their next career move later on. Have lunch with your staff both new and old to see what they’re all about on the side of their full-time job. Encourage them to share their published work with you or invite you to the opening of a gallery they have a painting featured in. Your acknowledgment of what they are truly passionate about is worth more than you think it might be.

12. Create Jobs Based On Valuable Skills

Want to a hire a new employee, but have nowhere to put them where you know they will really fit in at? Create  a position based off of their skill set. You may even wind up creating an entirely new and much needed department!

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5 social network predictions for 2012; Google+ surpasses 62 million users,May Top 400 million Members by End-2012

5 social network predictions for 2012

by Rafe Needleman

Facebook is the power hitter in social networking today, and is likely to drive the most activity and a fair share of the innovation in social networking in 2012. But it’s not the only company driving things forward.

Mark Zuckerberg introduces Timeline at F8 2011.That puppy is about to get very, very rich.(Credit: James Martin/CNET)

Here’s are five ways social networking is likely to play out in the coming year.

1. Mobile social networking means good news for new social startups
In the U.S., the majority of consumers will soon have smartphones (Neilsen puts the figure at 44% today). Smartphones are about the most important thing to happen to social networking since Harvard sent its acceptance letter to Mark Zuckerberg.

Smartphones know where you are, who your friends are, who’s nearby, and soon thanks to NFC, they’ll know what you’re buying and where. They are the key element of the next, mobile phase is social networking.

Facebook is serious about mobile social networking, but it is not the leader in this space in terms of design or technology. Smaller companies, like Path and Milk (with its first app, Oink) are coming out with new takes on mobile interaction. Square could play in this economy as well. All these services will likely use Facebook’s network to put people or businesses or in touch with each other in new ways. More specialized mobile networks (really riders on top of Facebook) will appear next year.

2. Twitter makes big impact with brand marketers
While Twitter‘s new brand pages won’t eat into big advertising or marketing budgets in 2012, the new business-friendly features will make an impact. Twitter is a highly effective platform for spreading brand messages via consumer/fans, and it doesn’t take much to create an effective Twitter-based campaign.

While Facebook is still the most important and best social vehicle for marketing, Twitter will matter a lot in 2012 due to its simplicity and effectiveness.

You won’t see a Super Bowl ad in 2012 without a Twitter tag on it.

3. Social Networking will tell the tale for the 2012 presidential election
We have seen how social feedback and link-sharing can bomb a presidential campaign: the YouTube and Web reaction to Rick Perry’s “Strong” ad. And in 2008 the MoveOn group might have made the critical difference in the Obama campaign.

In 2012, the major political campaigns will be even more dependent on social networks, possibly to the extent that effective social campaigns will be more important than broad-stroke and increasingly expensive TV ads. Certainly, no candidate will be able to succeed without a strong following on each of the major social networks.

4. Google+ remains a critical success but a consumer flop
Google+ has a lot of good features, but it needs much more than that to take on Facebook and Twitter. Even Google’s tacit promotion of Google+ on its other services and toolbars won’t be enough to make it part of the daily diet of social networks for the hundreds of millions of users that Facebook has in its thrall.

Google+ also doesn’t have enough muscle to be a big player as a branding tool, compared to Facebook and Twitter.

Even inside Google, we hear, employees don’t use it very much.

So, the prediction? Google won’t kill Google+, not after its failures with Orkut, Buzz, and Wave. The company will continue to blend Google+ into its other offerings, in particular GMail, Picasa Web, and its search result pages. But few people in the real world, if any, will switch over from Facebook to Google+.

The smart thing for Google? Buy Pinterest. But this is a predictions story, not an advice column.

5. Facebook and Yelp: Social network IPOs do well
For all the bad-mouthing of the Zynga IPO, it’s not doing all that badly. As of this writing, it’s down 5% from its offering price, and the stock has only be trading since December 16.

In other words, the stock wasn’t priced crazy-high nor crazy-low, and if it doesn’t drop much further, its middling out-of-the-gate performance will be unlikely to cool the ardor for social network stock offerings in 2012. Facebook and Zynga are two sides of a coin in the social network business. The one’s success fortifies the other.

2012 will be a watershed year for startup IPOs. Facebook is set to go public in 2012, as is Yelp.

Interest in Facebook stock will be high as the company nears its IPO. The fire for this one will be stoked by the press, by politicians holding it up as an example of American technological and economic prowess, and of course by underwriters. From a financial perspective, it’s far too early to tell if the IPO itself will be aptly priced. But Facebook’s influence is growing, the company is making a lot of money, and a successful IPO will be good news for every social company out there. The forces are lining up to make sure this IPO is incredibly well-orchestrated, and successful in the right ways: that is, it pops when it goes public, but not too much.



Rafe Needleman

Rafe reviews mobile apps and products for fun, and picks startups apart when he gets bored. He has evaluated thousands of new companies, most of which have since gone out of business. Feeling lucky? Send pitches to And watch Rafe’s tech issues podcast, Reporters’ Roundtable, every Friday.

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Google+ May Top 400 million Members by End-2012

‘Google+ is for finding, and talking with, the people who are interested in the same thing you are,’ says tech blogger Robert Scoble, and as such may represent a refreshing break from Facebook for some. (JG Image)

Google is adding 625,000 new users a day to the Google+ social-networking service, which may total 400 million members by the end of next year, according to independent analysis of its growth.

The site’s popularity has accelerated in recent weeks, with almost a quarter of its total user base joining in December alone, said Paul B. Allen, the founder of, who tracks the numbers as Google+’s “unofficial statistician.”

Google, the world’s largest Internet-search company, aims to challenge the social-networking supremacy of Facebook, a site with more than 800 million members. Google+, which lets users organize their friends in circles, was introduced earlier this year as a test project and then opened up to the general public in September.

Google+ may be benefiting from the popularity of Google’s Android mobile operating system, which makes it easy to sign up. As the service gains traction, more people will invite family and friends to join, further accelerating its growth, Allen said in a Google+ posting. He works at, a company he helped start in 2006.

Katie Watson, a Google spokeswoman, declined to discuss the current user numbers. The company last gave an update during its October earnings conference call, when Google+ had more than 40 million users.


Google+ surpasses 62 million users

by Lance Whitney

Google+ has captured more than 62 million users, at least according to one “unofficial” count.

Chiming in with his own Google+ post yesterday, co-founder and Google+ unofficial statistician Paul Allen reported the latest numbers as of December 27.

Running queries on different surnames to gauge the number of total users, Allen and his team found a surge in daily signups over the past several weeks. Around 625,000 new users have been hopping aboard the social network each day, which means almost a quarter of all Google+ users joined in December alone.

Assuming that rate continues, Allen’s crystal ball sees Google+ hitting 100 million users on February 25, 200 million on August 3, and 293 million by the end of 2012. But can Google maintain and even increase that growth rate? Allen believes so.

“I expect the growth to continue to accelerate,” Allen said. “Google can continue to integrate Google+ into its other products and word of mouth will continue to build. Most importantly, 700,000 Android devices are activated daily and this will become a very significant source of new users for Google+. That number will also grow next year.”

Google has been busy the past few months integrating Google+ into more of its products, such as its core search engine. The company has also been fine-tuning its social network by adding more features and sanding over some of the rough spots. It also unveiled its Google+ Pages in early November in an attempt to reach out to the business world.

Still, Allen’s numbers alone don’t paint the full picture. His team records how many people Google+ is signing up. But they don’t factor in how frequently those people actually use their accounts. Data from ComScore and Experian Hitwise released this past summer showed a decline in the number of weekly visits.

More recent data from ComScore found Google+ with 65 million global visitors in November but with no clear indication how often those visitors return to the site.

And rather than just relying on word of mouth, Google realizes that it also now has to tap into the world of advertising, using such celebrities as the Muppets to promote its social network to the average user.



Lance Whitney

Lance Whitney wears a few different technology hats–journalist, Web developer, and software trainer. He’s a contributing editor for Microsoft TechNet Magazine and writes for other computer publications and Web sites. Lance is a member of the CNET Blog Network, and he is not an employee of CNET.

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