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A Simple Step to Improve Teamwork at Your Workplace

 

I’m getting ready to begin a new client project this week and in discussing the scope of the project, one of the desired objectives identified was improving teamwork among the small staff.

In investigating the issue further during our discussion, another objective we uncovered was the breaking down of the silos in the organization. When the concept of “silos” was mentioned, I as flabbergasted! I almost fell out of my chair.

“Silos?” I exclaimed back to my prospective client, “you have less than 10 employees, how is that possible?”

This brought the conversation back to the teamwork concept, and people stepping in to help each other when the situation warrants. This would look like people either noticing that help is needed and volunteering to step up to pitch in, or to gladly accept the opportunity with a smile instead of grumbling or complaining with an “it’s not my job” response.

I asked one simple question that turned the conversation. “Well, is ‘teamwork’ and working to support other’s on the staff part of everyone’s performance expectations?”

My prospect asked me what I meant by that and I said, “do you discuss the willingness and ableness of individual team members contribution to teamwork in your regular performance conversations?”

After a few seconds of stunned silence the reply was, “you know, I guess we don’t.”

What gets measured, gets attention and will usually get done. Therefore, if you want teamwork to be a priority, then you as a leader must make it so. This means making it part of everyone’s job performance standards and behavior expectations (this is much different than a job description and should be developed for each job in the company).

In moving forward with this project I can assure you that teamwork will be part of everyone’s job performance standards and behavior expectations.

But, and this is a BIG BUT, if this sounds like something you need in your organization DO NOT just instill new performance standards and behavior expectations on your own as the organization’s leader. It will be seen with disdain and cynicism. This approach will get you compliance with little commitment and buy-in.

In the work with my client, first we’re going to have to discuss with the team what great “teamwork” looks like and why they would want to be part of an organization that has it, and how their present approach to teamwork matches the definition they just created so that we can identify the gap to gain buy-in to building a bridge of new thinking and actions to close the gap, they themselves, identified. That’s where true commitment will come.

If teamwork, or any other individual/group behavior, is not at the level you would like it to be, then figure out a way to make it a priority for all and begin measuring accountability to it. If you’d like help with this, I encourage you to join me for my April 26th Open-Forum Q&A Coaching Webinar where you can join me LIVE to have your specific situation addressed.

Go to www.ChampionBusinessLeadership.com/laserwebinar to register for FREE .

Hope this blog article helps you look at one very simple and overlooked way to make teamwork work at your organization.

’til next time, make it a great week!

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Why 44% of Today’s Leaders Are Unhappy With Their Employees’ Performance & their Own Communication Style

Forty-four percent of business leaders at various levels and a variety of industry categories reported disappointment in the performance results of their employees, in a survey recently conducted by Leadership & Workplace Communication Expert Skip Weisman.

In the survey, whose results were released this week, 70% of those struggling business leaders also believe they need a new approach to how they communicate so they can better motivate for better results.

Leaders responding to the survey indicated significant frustration in motivating their people due to a number of key factors, including:

• An inability to rally team members to focus on a common goal,

• Dealing with a lack of cohesion between employees, and

• Employees looking outside of themselves for reasons of sub-par performance

• Employees engaging in excuse-making and

• Employees engaging in distracting behaviors that take attention away from the job at hand.

Another big issue for these organizational leaders was a lack of time to invest in connecting with their team members, both as a group and also individually, in one-on-one discussions.

This is why these leaders reported they felt they needed a new approach to how they communicated with their employees to improve performance.

Despite reporting an investment of 37% of their time communicating one-on-one to motivate employees to meet the performance expectations for their role, the business leaders responding to this survey felt they needed to change their approach.

The reason for this desire to change their approach to their own leadership communication is that 37% of a leader’s total communication time communicating one-on-one is significant, and the return on their investment is not adequate.

There are three ways to address this issue: 

  • increase the time allotted to one-one-one communication with employees (I would recommend raising it to 50%)
  • improve their style and message so that it leads to behavior and attitude changes that lead to performance improvements
  • evaluate the type of one-on-one conversations the leader is having with their team members, and adjust to attain better performance. There are three primary types of one-on-one discussions a leader might have:
    • issue/problem based
    • performance based
    • career based

In order to improve an individual team member’s performance more time must be invested in performance and career discussions and less on issues/problems.

Another vital determination leaders must make is whether the lack of performance results is due to an individual’s attitude and motivation or their skills, talents and ability.

Without determining if the problem is one of attitude or one of ability, there is a high-probability the wrong solution will be applied potentially causing more stress, frustration, a loss of resources, and continued disappointment in performance results.

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Is Being a “Mind Reader” Part of Your Organization’s Job Descriptions?

The Law of Specificity States: “To the degree that you are not specific in your communication that is the level of guessing or mind-reading the receiver of your message needs to do.”

 If people in your organization feel like they have to continually guess what is expected of them, or ‘mind-read’ the individual who just left them directions for a delegated project, performance and results are going to suffer.

The sad fact is that most people are often not specific enough and don’t even know it. Additionally, often the individual receiving the communication doesn’t know they weren’t given specific enough information until its too late.

A “lack of specificity” in organizational and leadership communication is a silent, subconscious killer. It operates below the surface like a cancer and people don’t even realize it until trust has eroded in the environment.

As leaders, it is our responsibility to ensure that our communication is not just clear, but specific enough to the situation so that our directions are fulfilled and the meaning and purpose behind our communication is understood so it gains maximum buy-in and commitment.

A leader must understand and accept that he or she is responsible for their communication being understood, not the receiver.

Now, granted, there are at least two people responsible in a communicated message being effectively transferred. I believe it is inherent in leadership to take responsibility first and foremost for our communication. Thus, if leaders are not getting the results initially, they need to be extra careful to ensure the communication is specific enough.

In both business and personal situations a “lack of specificity” can kill relationships. It can cause disappointment, unmet expectations and a loss of trust, leading to the loss of the relationship, if not corrected.

In organizations, this is going on all the time. It’s occurring between members of leadership teams, between leaders and their team members, and between team members themselves.

There are 3 reasons for this ‘lack of specificity” that must be addressed:

A Blind Spot/Lack of Awareness– the person communicating with a lack of specificity is doing it out of habit and doesn’t realize it, and/or its impact on others.

Enabling– this means that people realize a person or persons communicate this way and accept it, allowing it to perpetuate instead of calling the person’s attention to it and asking for a change in style.

Maliciousness– the communicator has a hidden agenda and motives and is purposely withholding information to sabotage the other individual’s efforts.

Whatever the reason, it must be dealt with in a timely, direct and respectful manner. If not, trust will erode in the workplace between leaders, leaders and their team members or between team members themselves, killing productivity and negatively impacting on performance results.

 

 

 

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40-Year Old Communication Myth Busted

The messages young children hear in those early years often become part of their psychological makeup for years to come, and sometimes lead to visits to therapists as adults.

This is just one example of the power of words. Words are powerful, very powerful. Words are much more powerful than an old, worn out, and just plain inaccurate communication model proclaims.

What has become known as the Mehrabian Myth espouses that “words” only amount to 7% of the meaning of a communicated message, leaving tone and body language making up 93% of that message’s meaning.

If you’ve ever done any sales training or leadership communication training since 1972 you’ve probably learned the communication model about which I am writing. It’s the model that shows the three key components of any communication and the respective contribution each proclaims to bring to the meaning of any message:

Verbal (words) = 7%

Vocal (tone) = 38%

Visual (body language) = 55%

 

If this were to be true I could have attended Carmen at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City as I did last November, and understood 93% of the plot and the individual character’s stories without reading the subtitles on the screen in front of me. I couldn’t. Neither could you.

Words are tremendously important.

Yet this communication model, which began in 1967 with two psychological studies reported in the Journal of Consulting Psychology and the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, respectively, and was loosely reinforced in 1971 by research conducted and reported by Professor Albert Mehrabian, Ph.D. of UCLA in two books he published titled Silent Messages and Nonverbal Communications.

These studies are not the culprit of the misguided applied meaning of this research. If the research and related commentary is reviewed one learns that these studies never proclaimed their findings were to be broadly applied to general and regular communication in all situations between human beings.

It seems the more accurate meaning of this research has been usurped and twisted so often, by so many sources; it is impossible to identify the genesis of this skewed meaning. One of the big perpetrators is the NLP industry (Neuro-Linguistic Programming, a philosophy and model for personal and professional transformation effectively used in the coaching and personal development industry), of which I am a member.

I used to teach this 7%-38%-55% communication model, although never truly felt comfortable with it. Amazingly, audiences never challenged me on it and continued to buy it. Even reinforcing the model telling me how important body language is to the meaning of a message.

I’m not arguing that body language and the visual component of a communication is not important. And, based on my personal experience I truly believe that tone may even be more important that body language.

What I’m espousing is that the Mehrabian Myth model places too much importance on body language and tone. What is needed is a model that will more accurately reflect the attention that people on both sides of any communication can feel comfortable applying so there are fewer mis-communications in the world.

In my white paper titled, The 7 Deadliest Sins of Leadership & Workplace Communication, I stress the importance of specific communication. A “Lack of Specificity” is one of those 7 Deadliest Sins. One of keys to specific communication is to be certain our communication is congruent between the verbal, the vocal and the visual components.

Congruency doesn’t necessarily mean equal. Congruency means the appropriate level of each to accurately get the message across. The most important thing to remember in terms of this model is that it really all starts with “words.”

I’d like to propose a new model and a new way to look at this that is totally unscientific but comes from many years of being a human being communicating with these three components daily, and as a business coach and consultant regularly working with business leaders and their teams to improve communication every day.

That new model would look like this:

Verbal (words) = 50%

Vocal (tone) = 30%

Visual (body language) = 20%

 

This model gives significant and appropriate weight to words because words can inspire, words can motivate, words can de-motivate and words can destroy. It also offers appropriate emphasis to the other two key components. 

Anthony Robbins, one of the most well known motivational coaches in the world offers a communication philosophy called “Transformational Vocabulary.” He teaches the power of changing the negative, hurtful words we use in our self-talk into empowering, positive words that will make us, and others, feel better and be motivating. A simple example is shifting the word “problem” to “situation,” “challenge” or even “opportunity.” He teaches this because words matter.

Tone and body language matter, too, just not as much as the Mehrabian Myth has mistakenly promised us for the past four decades.

If you’d like a practical and immediately applicable approach to improving communication in your organization at the highest levels of leadership down to your frontline customer service personnel, go to the HowToImproveOrganizationalCommunication website and download the free white paper The 7 Deadliest Sins of Leadership & Workplace Communication.

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4 Steps to Improve Your People-Reading Skills

People-Reading

Socially intelligent leaders know how to read the body language and emotions of their people. They are highly aware of social environments and highly attuned to the language used by people. They are curious about people and are great observes of human behavior.

I love to watch people. Maybe that’s why I love to face the door when eating out at a restaurant. It always seems uncomfortable facing the wall.

A number of years ago, I did a stress management workshop in Paris. After the workshop, I had dinner at a delightful French Restaurant. I observed that couples would sit for hours talking and savoring themselves and their meal. They appeared to be fully engaged in their conversation and happy. It made me reflect on our culture where we are less present and more distracted.

4 Steps for Better People-Reading Skills

The following steps can help you improve your ability to observe and read people and situations. Practice at least one over the next seven days, and notice any changes in the way you perceive and experience others. You will likely be more present, and your experiences will become richer.

1. Start using your senses instead of going through the day on autopilot. Sit in an airport, a restaurant or a mall and watch people. Try to figure out their relationships in couples or groups. Notice their moods, clothing and the ways they position themselves with others.

2. Observe the spaces in which you find yourself. Who sits where in meetings? How are offices or work spaces laid out? How does this communicate status or authority?

3. Listen for the various ways people use language to signal their social status and authority. How do people use slang, figures of speech, specialized vocabularies and clichés?

4. Observe the nonverbal signals people use to define and reinforce their relationships. How does the boss convey approachability? How do others do this?

The more you consciously use your senses and observe people, the more situational awareness you will gain. After a while, you’ll pick up on things you never before noticed. You’ll begin to incorporate new sensitivity into your communications and most certainly raise your level of executive presence.

Are you working in a professional services firm or other organization where executive coaches provide leadership development for emotionally intelligent leaders? Does your organization provide executive coaching to help leaders develop a high performance business environment?  Inspiring leaders tap into their emotional intelligence and social intelligence skills to fully engage employees.

One of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself is “Do I have good people-reading skills?” Emotionally intelligent and socially intelligent organizations provide executive coaching for collaborative leaders who create sustainable businesses.

Working with a seasoned executive coach and leadership consultant trained in emotional intelligence and incorporating assessments such as the Bar-On EQ-I, CPI 260 and Denison Culture Survey can help you create a culture where all employees are intrinsically motivated and fully engaged. You can become a leader who models emotional intelligence and social intelligence, and who inspires people to become fully engaged with the vision, mission and strategy of your company or law firm.

About Dr. Maynard Brusman

Dr. Maynard Brusman is a consulting psychologist, executive coach and trusted advisor to senior leadership teams.He is the president of Working Resources, a leadership consulting and executive coaching firm. We specialize in helping San Francisco Bay Area companies and law firms assess, select, coach, and retain emotionally intelligent leaders.  Maynard is a highly sought-after speaker and workshop leader. He facilitates leadership retreats in Northern California and Costa Rica. The Society for Advancement of Consulting (SAC) awarded Dr. Maynard Brusman "Board Approved" designations in the specialties of Executive Coaching and Leadership Development.

For more information, please go to http://www.workingresources.com, write to mbrusman@workingresources.com, or call 415-546-1252 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            415-546-1252      end_of_the_skype_highlighting.

Subscribe to Working Resources Newsletter: http://www.workingresources.com
Visit Maynard's Blog: http://www.workingresourcesblog.com  

Connect with me on these Social Media sites.
http://twitter.com/drbrusman
http://www.facebook.com/maynardbrusman

http://www.linkedin.com/in/maynardbrusman

http://www.youtube.com/user/maynardbrusman

 

 

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How to Socially Intelligent Interact with People

My leadership coaching clients who display great character communicate clearly and are empathetic. They are authentic in their interpersonal interactions and help people achieve a shared purpose. They are optimistic, inspiring and forward thinking.

One of my law firm Managing Partner executive coaching clients recently shared with me that he was having a hard time influencing several of the firm partners on a new strategy for the firm. We have been working on improving his executive presence including talking less and listening more. He is not great at getting others to cooperate with him, and has a fairly authoritative leadership style.

I asked him “Can you give me a time when you were effective at being more collaborative?” He responded “When I focused more on the partner’s body language and emotional states.” A communication strategy he was working on in our coaching. I suggested that he experiment with listening deeply, and not talking for more than 30 seconds at a time at the next leadership team meeting.

At our next meeting, he reported the partners on the leadership team started to cooperate more. The partners also shifted into listening more, and asking powerful questions rather than presenting endless logical arguments that impeded productive dialogue.

Enlightened leaders know that creating a socially intelligent workplace culture and increases engagement and alignment with company goals. In order for people to be fully engaged, they need to feel they are following trustworthy and emotionally aware leaders.

Social Intelligence

Psychologist Daniel Goleman rocked the world of leadership development with his landmark book, Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace (2000), and his theories on EI’s role in business interactions.

In 2007, he followed up with Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships, which carried internal emotional awareness into the realm of external social facility.

In the similarly titled Social Intelligence: The New Science of Success (2009), management consultant Karl Albrecht explores how social intelligence plays out in executive interactions. He suggests SI is “a combination of a basic understanding of people—a kind of strategic awareness—and a set of component skills for interacting successfully with them.”

Albrecht defines social intelligence in relatively simple terms: “the ability to get along well with others and to get them to cooperate with you.” He proposes five distinct dimensions that contribute to social competencies:

1. Situational Awareness: A social radar used to read situations and interpret people’s behaviors in terms of possible intentions, emotional states and proclivity to interact.

2. Presence: A range of verbal and nonverbal patterns, to include one’s appearance, posture, vocal quality and subtle movements—a collection of signals that others process into an evaluative impression.

3. Authenticity: Others’ social radar, whose signals lead them to believe we are honest, open, ethical, trustworthy and well-intentioned—or not.

4. Clarity: Our ability to explain ourselves, illuminate ideas, accurately pass data, and articulate our views and proposed actions—all of which enable others to cooperate with us.

5. Empathy: A shared feeling between two people; a state of connectedness that creates the basis for positive interaction and collaboration.

Each dimension of social intelligence requires competencies well beyond the norm. Leaders cannot fake these qualities.

Are you working in a professional services firm or other organization where executive coaches provide leadership development for authentic leaders? Does your organization provide executive coaching to help leaders develop a high performance business environment? Authentic leaders tap into their emotional intelligence and social intelligence skills to fully engage employees.

One of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself is “How effective am I at shared feelings with other people and creating a state of connectedness for positive interaction and collaboration?” Emotionally intelligent and socially intelligent organizations provide executive coaching for collaborative leaders who create sustainable businesses.

Working with a seasoned executive coach and leadership consultant trained in emotional intelligence and incorporating assessments such as the Bar-On EQ-I, CPI 260 and Denison Culture Survey can help you create a culture where all employees are intrinsically motivated and fully engaged. You can become a leader who models emotional intelligence and social intelligence, and who inspires people to become fully engaged with the vision, mission and strategy of your company or law firm.

About Dr. Maynard Brusman

Dr. Maynard Brusman is a consulting psychologist, executive coach and trusted advisor to senior leadership teams.He is the president of Working Resources, a leadership consulting and executive coaching firm. We specialize in helping San Francisco Bay Area companies and law firms assess, select, coach, and retain emotionally intelligent leaders.  Maynard is a highly sought-after speaker and workshop leader. He facilitates leadership retreats in Northern California and Costa Rica. The Society for Advancement of Consulting (SAC) awarded Dr. Maynard Brusman "Board Approved" designations in the specialties of Executive Coaching and Leadership Development.

For more information, please go to http://www.workingresources.com, write to mbrusman@workingresources.com, or call 415-546-1252.

Subscribe to Working Resources Newsletter: http://www.workingresources.com
Visit Maynard's Blog: http://www.workingresourcesblog.com  

Connect with me on these Social Media sites.
http://twitter.com/drbrusman
http://www.facebook.com/maynardbrusman

http://www.linkedin.com/in/maynardbrusman

http://www.youtube.com/user/maynardbrusman

 

 

 

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How to Deal with Difficult People at Work

Dealing with Difficult People

Are you struggling to cope with difficult people at work? If you are, then you are not alone.The workplace is full of difficult people who can make your life miserable if you let them.

Difficult people come in all shapes, sizes and personalities. They are demanding, often defensive, problematic and can drain all of your energy. And those are just the respectful terms co-workers use when interacting and dealing with these people.

Hardly a day goes by in my coaching practice without someone sharing a story with me of how someone at work is driving her nuts and sapping their energy. Very often it’s their boss who they experience as being arrogant, condescending, and disrespectful or maybe even a bully. It may be a co-worker who is argumentative with a big ego and thinks he’s always right.

Healthy conflict

Interpersonal conflict in the workplace is normal, and can be healthy if handled in the right way. However, a lot of my clients avoid dealing with difficult people because they don’t feel they have the power to do anything about the situation, don’t have the skills to resolve difficult interactions, or fear potential political consequences.

Conflict at work is a normal and natural dynamic of employees interacting with one another. The cost of resolving conflict is small relative to the high cost of leaving conflicts unresolved. Unresolved conflict can be toxic to both people and organizations.

Unhealthy Conflict

Recent studies indicate that 30-40% of a manager’s daily activities are devoted to dealing with some form of interpersonal conflict. A manager’s inability to effectively deal with anger and conflict in the workplace may result in a large loss of productivity and adversely impact others who work there. Having to endure these conflicts without sufficient tools, resources or support, employees’ distress can get out of control.

Difficult behavior can inhibit performance in others and will only get worse if not addressed, affecting more people and incurring significant costs for the organization. It takes many forms like gossiping or not talking to or acknowledging co-workers. The culture of the organization can be adversely affected where there is a deafening silence as people suppress their emotions and stress levels increase.

Most conflict involving people at work revolve around unfulfilled needs, primarily the psychological need for control, recognition, affection, and respect. These needs are natural and quite human in that we all desire them.

Resolving Conflict

There is no magic pill but there are some proven emotional intelligence strategies to help change behavior in others. It may not help to brand someone a problem or a jerk. We can work to prevent unproductive and negative behavior that leads to conflict.

The first step is self-awareness or tapping into your reactivity and knowing what story you are telling yourself about the person and situation. Do you know that it’strue? What’s the evidence? Could there be another side to the story? What are you experiencing emotionally? Maybe it’s fear, anger, hurt or unhappiness.

The next step is to engage the person whom you consider difficult. I’ve found the best approach is to stay calm, ask the offending person a powerful question with the intention of seeking to understand. It seems so simple, but can be so difficult to then listen deeply to what may be the other person’s different reality. It’s more akin to a coach approach of not making the person wrong. You want to encourage dialogue.

Inquire into the other person's thinking and feeling regarding the situation in order to improve understanding. Use open-ended coaching questions that start with the words, "what," or "how". “Why” questions can cause defensiveness. “Yes” or “no” questions can stop a conversation in its tracks. This will help the other person to give clarifying answers, which should help you to understand their interpretation and perspective.

Finally, it takes patience, perseverance and some assertiveness. Make a requestof the other person. Ask for what you need to have a more productive working relationship. The other person can accept or reject your request or can make a counteroffer.

Take Positive Action

Practice some of these strategies with someone you find somewhat difficult, but not too unreasonable. Once you get more comfortable and achieve some success in behavior change move on to someone who is a bit more challenging.

Some of the most difficult people I have encountered in my executive coaching work have developed more productive relationships once underlying fears were explored and trust was established. It may seem surprising, but a number of coaching clients that are referred to me because of being difficult were unaware of how they were perceived by other people. They were open to change once they received the feedback. There are always a few people who display such egregious behavior that other organizational recourse may be necessary. Seek organizational support.

Are you working in a professional services firm or other organization where executive coaches provide leadership development for leaders at all levels? Does your company provide executive coaching to help leaders improve their ability to effectively resolve conflict? Leaders at all levels need to improve their emotional intelligence and social intelligence skills.

One of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself is “Am I effective at dealing with difficult people at work?” Emotionally intelligent and socially intelligent organizations provide executive coaching for leaders who help their employees to improve their ability to influence others.

Working with a seasoned executive coach and leadership consultant trained in emotional intelligence and incorporating assessments such as the Bar-On EQ-I, CPI 260 and Denison Culture Survey can help you facilitate the resolution of interpersonal conflict and create a healthy workplace culture. You can become a leader who models emotional intelligence and social intelligence, and who inspires people to become fully engaged with the vision, mission and strategy of your company or law firm.

About Dr. Maynard Brusman

Dr. Maynard Brusman is a consulting psychologist and executive coach. He is the president of Working Resources, a leadership consulting and executive coaching firm. We specialize in helping San Francisco Bay Area companies and law firms assess, select, coach, and retain emotionally intelligent leaders.  Maynard is a highly sought-after speaker and workshop leader. He facilitates leadership retreats in Northern California and Costa Rica. The Society for Advancement of Consulting (SAC) awarded Dr. Maynard Brusman "Board Approved" designations in the specialties of Executive Coaching and Leadership Development.

For more information, please go to http://www.workingresources.com, write to mbrusman@workingresources.com, or call 415-546-1252.

Subscribe to Working Resources Newsletter: http://www.workingresources.com
Visit Maynard's Blog: http://www.workingresourcesblog.com  

Connect with me on these Social Media sites.
http://twitter.com/drbrusman
http://www.facebook.com/maynardbrusman

http://www.linkedin.com/in/maynardbrusman

http://www.youtube.com/user/maynardbrusman

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