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How to Improve Your Work Environment & Business Results One Thought at a Time

 

When delivering my 7 Deadliest Sins of Leadership & Workplace Communication keynote address and seminar breakout sessions recently I’ve begun asking my audience to commit to becoming a more conscious communicator. After all, these 7 deadliest of all communication mistakes that are killing trust and team commitment in virtually every work environment are habits that have become our default way of communicating.

It’s been a powerful call to action that audiences are resonating with. The heads of those in the seats in front of me nod up and down, up and down as if marionettes whose strings I’m pulling.

I’ve taken that concept to the next level in my consultations and facilitations with clients now, too.

In a recent team session with one of my newer clients, I started the session by simply writing two words on a flip chart:

DEFAULT vs. CONSCIOUS

We then worked through a series of discussions around internal operations and customer service, each time evaluating items that required a shift from a default way of acting to a more conscious way of thinking that will allow the company to provide even greater levels of service (both for internal teamwork and also for serving external customers).

Just wondering, how would your business improve if you began to think and communicate more consciously with your customers, your employees, peers, (or maybe even in your personal life if you were to communicate and act more consciously with your spouse/significant other or children)?

Just a thought…please leave your thoughts and comments below. I look forward to the discussion.

’til next time, make it a great week!

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Simple Steps to Begin Transforming a Negative, Toxic Workplace

 

Last weeks’s blog article on the 3 Reasons Employees Undermine Co-Workers, Stab Each Other in the Back and Act Passive Aggressive struck quite a nerve. I received a number of direct e-mail comments, not so many here on the blog, though. Interesting.

Anyway, comments were in the vein of “Skip, this is great stuff, but what can we do about it? How do we fix this problem?”

Well, the good news is that solution is simple. The bad news is, its not that easy to implement.

Fixing these issues in a work environment takes what Pat Lencioni, author ofThe 5 Dysfunctions of a Team calls, “heavy lifting.” Heavy lifting means dealing with some challenging issues head on that have probably been avoided for an extended period of time. The heavy lifting will be mostly on the part of the organization’s or team’s leadership, but certainly also all team members.

My recommendation for fixing this begins from the bottom up. Here are the 3 reasons I mentioned in last week’s blog article for why employees undermined their co-workers, stab each other in the back and act passive aggressively often with an “it’s not my job attitude:”

  1. Low self-esteem
  2. Lack of communication skills
  3. Enabling of the behavior

So from the bottom up we have to start by stopping the enabling of the behaviors.

This tarts with giving everyone, and I mean everyone a clean slate and the benefit of the doubt. Easy to say, not so easy to do, right? But, that is what it takes.

Plus, its the right thing to do and here’s why:

1) If the behavior has been enabled in the environment for any length of time for it to become a toxic work environment, it is the leaders fault. They have chosen to allow these behaviors to go unaddressed for a significant amount of time. Everyone knows what’s going on and who the perpetrators are. Most everyone, including the leader just wish and hope it gets better and usually it just gets worse, right?

So, instead of trying to close the barn door after the horses have run out, let’s corral the horses and build a new barn for them to live in.

Everyone starts tomorrow with a clean slate. Everyone.

With that clean slate comes new performance and behavior expectations. These new performance and behavior  expectations must be well thought out in advance and strategized so that a new expectation is created and set in the minds of everyone from the very beginning.

If this is something you think you need to do for your team/organization and would like some help go to www.ChampionBusinessLeadership.com and investigate if a private, 1:1 strategy session is something you would benefit from. I’m happy to strategize with you how to make this happen effectively.

Chances are the leaders are going to need some skill development in their influencing communication skills to be able to pull this off effectively and to be able to have the type of candid conversations necessary to make it work.

Additionally, this would lead to improving #2 in the list from last week, giving everyone on the team the communication skills necessary to influence their own relationships and work environment in a positive, candid and proactive manner.

It would also begin to turn around reason #1 in last week’s list, low levels of self-esteem, in the manager or leader, as one of the best ways to increase self-esteem is to improve skills and competencies.

Hope this helps. Please let me know what you think and leave a comment below.
Thanks!

’til next time, make it a great week!

 

Skip Weisman

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Ask Skip: What Are Some Specific Tips to Improve Teamwork in the Workplace?

 

This question comes directly from a blog subscriber who has been reading my articles on teamwork the past couple of weeks. He thought the article last week (A Simple Step to Improve Teamwork at Your Workplace) offering one very specific tip to improve teamwork was a good one but was looking for more, so here are 5 more:

  1. Create an inspiring vision for the team objectives – Athletic teams are focused on getting to the “Championship Game.” In professional football its the “Super Bowl” in the United States. For international futbol, it’s the “World Cup Final.” For Major League Baseball, it’s the “World Series.”  What is it for your team? How can you define it in a way that inspires everyone to want to contribute at the highest level to help fulfill that vision?
  2. Set clear expectations at the very beginning – Let everyone know when they join the team what is expected of them regarding working as a team. As mentioned in last week’s article make it part of their performance expectations and performance review when appraisal time comes around. What gets measured gets done.
  3. Create a “Team Agreement” – Part of setting the clear expectations at the beginning should also include facilitating a process through which the team itself can create its own accountabilities and performance expectations for how they promise to interact with each other. One client in 2011 told me that having the team participate in creating this type of document, which all team members signed when it was complete, actually had team members regulating themselves and holding themselves accountable to acting consistent with what they agreed to. It can be a very powerful process for building a high-performing team.
  4. Address issues promptly, directly and respectfully – One of the biggest things that kills trust on teams is issues that are allowed to go on unaddressed. Team leaders will often let things fester, wishing and hoping they get better on their own, and they usually only get worse. The best leaders and individual team members have the self-esteem, the self-confidence and the communication skills to address issues promptly, directly and respectfully. I wrote extensively about the biggest communication mistakes in my white paper The 7 Deadliest Sins of Leadership & Workplace Communication (you can grab a FREE copy here).
  5. Apply the “Trading Deadlie” – If, after consistently applying the 4 steps above, team members are still not contributing to the level you need, then you must apply the “Trading Deadline” strategy. This is a metaphor based on what most professional sports leagues require a few weeks prior to the end of their regular season so teams can set their rosters for the post season playoffs. It is when team that believe they are contenders for the championship make changes to their roster and trade or release players who have not been a good fit and replace them with players they believe will be a better fit for their team.

So, those are 5 more specific tips to help you create a high-performing team at your workplace. If you have other specific questions I encourage you to join me at 12noon Eastern Time this Thursday, April 26th for a FREE Laser Coaching Webinar – during this webinar I will be taking your questions directly and doing Laser Coaching to give you a specific, direct solution you can apply to your specific issue.

You can register FREE here – ChampionBusinessLeadership.com/laserwebinar

’til next time, make it a great week!

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