You’ve heard of the adage, “People don’t care what you know, until they know that you care.” On this Valentine’s Day, it is a great reminder to ask yourself, “When was the last time I showed my customers, staff members, team members, that I care?”
During a recent three-day supervisory class that I facilitated for Washington state governmental employees, I was impressed with how many leaders talked about the human side of leadership. In the midst of technology, changing priorities, and budget cuts, they recognized how important it was for them to show their team that they cared – about each team member individually and about how each person’s role positively impacted the success of their team.
On this holiday and throughout the year, here are three practical ways to show you care:
- Say thank you – One of the best ways to show we care is to express our gratitude. In our instant message society, receiving a handwritten note means a lot. A sincere thank you – whether written or spoken, tells an employee, “I notice and what you do – matters.”
- Acknowledge extra efforts – Think about a team member who always goes above and beyond. Ideally, all your team members have this kind of attitude and extra commitment but practically speaking, there are some people who just do more than others. Show you care about that person’s contribution by acknowledging that person’s efforts. Or how about a former low performing employee who has successfully achieved his or her goals? Show you care about this person by acknowledging this person’s efforts.
- Recognize all employees – Many times, we can’t do a lot with extra salary or benefits but what we can do is recognize every person’s impact. Take the time to show you care by making sure team members know their impact to your team’s goals.
James Thurber said “It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers.” (James Thurber was an American author and cartoonist and was best known for his cartoons and short stories published in The New Yorkermagazine). What a reminder to all of us that it is not necessarily the solutions but the questions that lead to inner discovery, awareness, and change. Indeed, this same philosophy undergirds my coaching philosophy – every client is seen as a fully capable and whole person with unique insights, dreams, and goals. My job as a coach is to help that person discover his or her potential by asking powerful questions that can lead to true transformation – and growth. Here is a sample of some of the kinds of questions that I use in my coaching practice:
- What does it mean for you to live in authenticity?
- What barriers do you anticipate?
- What is your biggest concern about….
- What does team mean to you?
- Of all the things on your list, which one do you want to tackle today?
Consider using a question the next time a staff member asks you for help on a problem or issue in the workplace. Asking a question provides the opportunity for individuals to come up with the answer and they will more likely be bought into implementing the action since they are the ones who came up with the answer! Coaching your staff in this way also develops them and relieves you of the pressure of finding all the solutions!
In this final installment in our series about the implications of a more collaborative workplace, we focus on what may seem like an apparent contradiction – unity in diversity. What does this mean? First, unity means that as an organization, department, or a team – every person needs to clearly identify what goal or mission they are striving towards as a collaborative team. There needs to be a unified effort or mission to achieve the goals or mission of the team. Second, but in this unity- there needs to be an honoring of the diversity of the people involved. Diversity in personalities, skills, talents, backgrounds, experience, education, genders, language, culture, etc. We are thus all going in the same direction while retaining our own unique talents. An organization that can successfully do these two things – be clear on the mission as well as invite and honor and celebrate the diversity of talent – is able to effectively thrive in this new type of collaborative workplace. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Do you currently conduct a diversity class for all your employees?
- What are you doing to ensure that you are recruiting and interviewing well-qualified people who bring diversity into the workplace?
- Are all your managers aware of your state and federal regulations as they relate to interview questions, hiring and firing, professional development opportunities, and tuition reimbursement?
In this new workplace, every person on your team needs to know the ways in which conflict can be resolved. Let’s focus our attention on conflict by highlighting three issues:
- What is your own definition of conflict? Some of us think of fight, battle, and tension and certainly some conflict involves these negative influences. But a much more “neutral” working definition is to consider that conflict is a situation when your wishes differ from those of another person.
- Create norms around conflict. What are some guidelines that you can agree to as a team that can help every team member effectively deal with conflict. For example, some norms include that each team member is encouraged to go to the person he/she is having a challenge with directly, rather than engage in negative gossip about the person. Another norm is that if you should hear negative reports about any other team member, that you ask the person if they have talked with the person first.
- Incorporate a conflict resolution process. There are a number of conflict process management steps out there – here’s one that I’ve found helpful with other teams:
Step 1: Clearly identify the area of conflict
Step 2: List areas of agreement
Step 3: List areas of disagreement
Step 4: Determine the source of conflict
Step 5: Problem solve
You’ve heard of IQ – but perhaps you haven’t heard of emotional intelligence which has become widely accepted as a legitimate theory with broad implications in every discipline, including the business environment. In a nutshell, emotional intelligence is your awareness of and ability to manage your own emotions as well as to “tune into” the emotions of other people. In 1983, Howard Gardner of Harvard actually identified eight different intelligences: Spatial, Linguistic, Logical-Mathematical, Kinesthetic, Musical, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, and Naturalist. His theory was further expanded when Dr. Daniel Goleman wrote his book, Emotional Intelligence. Dr. Goleman goes as far to say that those people, who have higher EQ or Emotional Quotient, tend to be more successful than those with low EQ.
As we are analyzing how we can prepare ourselves for this new collaborative workplace, the importance of emotional intelligence cannot be overstated. For indeed, as workers and managers are asked to collaborate, work cross-functionally, operate interdependently, with plenty of freedom to make decisions, the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions is critical. Think about it – your skill in building collaborative relationships, effectively deal with conflict and overcome failure are critical success factors. With a high EQ or Emotional Quotient, you can tap into the creative energy and information that emotions can give you and as a leader or professional use positive emotions (called resonance) to help move a team forward. As Daniel Goleman states in his book, Working with Emotional Intelligence, “We are being judged by a new yardstick: not just how smart we are, or by our training and expertise, but also by how well we handle ourselves and each other.”
Here are some questions to ask yourself to consider your EQ level:
- How “tuned” in are you to your own emotions? Or to the emotions of others?
- How likely are you to be able to maintain control with your own emotions?
- How is your ability to “talk the talk” by living out your values?
- How open are you to your own mistakes?
- How are you in dealing with conflict?
- What is your ability to create collaborative partnerships (with others)?
For more information on this fascinating subject, I highly recommend these books:
- Emotional Intelligence, by Dr. Daniel Goleman
- Working with Emotional Intelligence, By Dr. Daniel Golemen
- Executive EQ by Robert K. Cooper, PH.D, and Ayman Sawaf.
There are numerous examples of corporations that instill the idea that no matter where you work, you own a piece of the corporation. How would your actions change if you were truly the owner of the organization that you work in? The Society for Advancement of Consulting, (SAC®) in an article dated 10/1/07, shares their findings after surveying their global membership to find out some key elements that can help companies successfully instill this philosophy in their corporate culture. SAC® member Bill Corbett president of Corbett Business Consulting in Loveland, Colorado made the following observations. “The three most effective practices for making every employee feel and act like an owner are: 1) To treat everyone as an equal, making the assumption that he or she wants the best for the department, division, or company, and is a team player; 2) Implement their excellent ideas as quickly as possible; and 3) Always give credit to the employees for their contributions.”
As you think about your organization, what positive steps can you take to help every staff member feel like an owner?
As a manager, one of your traditional jobs is to “remove the barriers” – and allow your team the freedom to make decisions that affect their day to day operations. In this new organizational structure, where teams are more self-directed and self-empowered, your job is to ensure that every team member is empowered to remove the barriers. Certainly, there are some decisions that can only be made by leaders but there are a plethora of decisions that employees can make – decisions that remove barriers to their providing value and achieving the goals of their job and team.
Some of the barriers include: out-dated policies that need to be re-written and communicated, not having the right training and educational opportunities, or artificial barriers that could encompass wrong assumptions and beliefs about their own ability to make decisions or what the “traditional” management to employee hierarchy rewarded in the past.
So here’s a question – what do you need to do as a manager to educate your team to remove their own barriers? What barrier do you need to remove as a manager? Or here’s a penetrating question – are you the barrier?
As organizations get more and more team-focused and collaborative – employees and managers need to learn the skill of “seeing things from the viewpoint” of the other person. How many times have you been in a conflict with someone else, only to discover, much to your amazement, how seemingly innocent things you did were misconstrued and interpreted? The following “Ladder of Inference” was initially developed by Chris Argyris, and subsequently presented in Peter Senge’s “The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization.”
The ladder of inference begins with real data and experience – but how quickly we can move up the ladder to selected data and experience to Assigning meaning to make assumptions to Reaching conclusions to Forming beliefs that all ultimately affects our Actions. If we are not careful, we can move up the ladder within seconds!
Next time you find yourself making a quick assumption, hasty judgment, or a powerful belief about someone in your organization – take a few moments and think “How does this situation look like from that person’s perspective?” And when you are with that person, ask more questions and listen, as opposed to making declarative statements.
Along with the ability to collaborate – in today’s collaborative workforce, the skill of effective communication is more important now than ever. And yet if you asked most people what their biggest challenge in the workplace was – poor communication continues to be high on their list!
How do we communicate with people who are “different” than us? Many intact work teams have benefited from team training on the DiSC Communication style assessment. Each team member (and manager) learns his or her own natural communication style and all the individual results are compiled so that there is a “team makeup” with powerful implications to team interactions. For example, if one team member is high on “Dominance” – and yet the team is high on the “Conscientiousness” style – there could be a number of potential issues that could prove disastrous if the team is not aware of them. The high D or Dominance team member may perceive others on the team as being too passive, cautious or too focused on the details – and that staff member may feel constantly impatient and frustrated. From the team’s perspective, that same team member may appear overly aggressive with little thought to doing things “right.”
If you are interested in learning more about how you can use the DiSC Communication style assssment to help your team, as well as learn about other Inscape profile assessments, please visit www.JanDwyerBang.com/Products.
“I hate my boss!” “I can’t stand my co-worker!” “I just don’t get along with that department!” Perhaps you have heard of these statements in the workplace. Decades ago, workers could go to work and do their jobs with very little interaction with other people. Managers would spend a majority of their work days controlling, monitoring, and overseeing the work of their employees. In today’s workforce, employees are asked to work with their team as well as other departments. Managers now spend a lot of their time empowering their staff members to make decisions on their own, solve interpersonal conflicts themselves, and to work towards creating a culture where teamwork is valued. Inter departmental conflicts and feuds are kept at a minimum and managers and staff members work on providing innovative solutions that solve organizational challenges.
Indeed, most organizations value collaboration but there is still a long way to go. If you have heard any such statements on your team, here’s some ways you can respond:
“I hate my boss”
RESPONSE: What have you done to make your relationship better?
“I can’t stand my co-worker!”
RESPONSE: What is your part in this conflict?
“I just don’t get along with that department”
RESPONSE: What are some ways you can get to know that department’s needs and how we can work together to meet them?