Are your employees flexible? Are you?

One of the most valuable assets in your workplace is the ability of your team to adapt to changes.  It can mean the difference between watching the world and more importantly your competition pass you by to being the one smart enough to lead the change.  I know this sounds vague and more inspirational than technical, but the first place most of us encounter change is changing technology.

Think of many of us just last year.  I was skeptical about Twitter–“Who cares what I had for lunch? Why do I want to read about someone else’s random musings on the latest gossip?”  But then I jumped in, followed people who I knew were leading the conversation.  I followed journalists and entrepreneurs; novelists and marketers; businesses and non-profits.  Reading their posts I discovered new points of view, learned about breaking news, and frankly ditched my RSS feeds because the need to read articles were posted in real time in a convenient column that I could browse between projects.  I learned how to engage my own point of view and gained attention for my book and our blog. 

And that is just one example.  I let my curiosity and good business sense overcome skepticism and torpor.  It took learning new programs (easy of course) and learning how to effectively use it.  

In today’s business climate we all have to work with all of our cylinders firing–there isn’t much downtime.  It is easy to succumb to wanting to tread water, to do what it takes to get by.  But we need to inspire ourselves and our team to stretch a bit.  Reward your team when they bring new ideas by giving them a chance.  Let them lead from pack, if you will.  Set a good example.  Try to pick up a new skill or a new way of doing things.  Because, like it or not, the technology around us is changing.  Be agile–your clients expect it, your competition knows it and your employees and your business will benefit from it. 

And you know what, following those who inspire you on Twitter is a great way to find out what’s coming up, what’s working, what’s next.  Just be flexible enough to reach for it!

Ribbon Hero – Learn Office programs by playing games

Microsoft’s OfficeLabs has created a new way to learn Office 2007 and Office 2010’s workhorses:  Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote.  It’s called Ribbon Hero and basically it is a downloaded add-on to your Office Suite that gives you challenges to learn new skills and earn points.

We all have our ways of learning how to use office software, but most of the time many of us just keep humming along with the skills we learned when we first started out.  We might watch a video or two, attend a one-day training class or buy a book.  More likely we just ask around the office to get the answers to overcome whenever we can’t remember how to get the ‘thingy’ to do that ‘thing’.

Each of us learns in different ways, but the genius of this approach is that it challenges you to try new things—taking advantage of the new capabilities of these tools.  Instead of cursing the changes each time your software is upgraded, you can find out how to use the new features.

Imagine signing up some of your colleagues to see who can get the most Ribbon Hero points in the office.  Or provide incentives to your employees when they hit a certain number of points.  You can share your achievements and points ranking with Facebook.  The game is there for you to use—how to use it is up to you.