Energy Option: Influence or Persuasion

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The constant energy spent on persuading, arguing, coaxing and convincing others is exhausting.  If these describe your management habits, be aware, they are also draining energy from your audience.  Why not invest your energy instead in the art of influence that impacts, effects and sways others, while also generating the energy to move them forward?  Unlike the assault of persuasive argument, influence requires more action that words.

The actions that fuel your influence are the actions that build your credibility.  Steven M. R. Covey’s exploration of trust-building fosters tangible results in relationships and business.  His reminders speak to what draws people to us – without our use of exhausting ‘begging or bossing’ techniques that are often interpreted as our incompetence or self-promotion.

We are reminded, in Covey’s The Speed of Trust work, that when your consistent actions reflect your credibility, you gain the unquestioned confidence of others – and your confidence in yourself grows also.  There are no shortcuts to this, and to raise the bar to reality, you must target actions that build trust in both your competence and your character.  Covey’s model divides core trust-actions between these two areas of your behavior.

Credibility of Character

Integrity includes those actions that show you live in harmony with your deepest values and beliefs; this requires both humility and courage.  Actions reflecting integrity include making and keeping commitments to yourself first, standing for something you will live by, and showing openness to examine yourself and consider other viewpoints.

Intent is about displaying that your motives are rooted in your genuine concern and care for others; your agendas and behaviors consistently reflect your desire to act in the best interest of everyone involved.  Examining your motives, generously choosing to give credit, and discussing your motives willingly and regularly are some uncommon actions required to display your intent.

Credibility of Competence

Capability inspires trust as we consistently display our credibility through our talents, attitudes, knowledge and even our style of getting things done.  All of these tasks require wise action: it is smartest to know and feed your strengths, to show your relevance with high-value contributions, and stay the course to your vision that will keep your contributions effective.

Results are simply our track record.  They build trust as we get the right things done in the right ways, as we define results accurately, and as others can see us promoting a culture of learning and holding ourselves accountable to grow – even through our mistakes.

Is your energy drained from your efforts to persuade others?  Does trust need to be built or repaired?  Let’s talk about the roadblocks you see and the advantages you could see with increased trust: count the cost of changing nothing.

Find more of what you need by opening our BOX of BLOGS from 2017

Become Your Own Dream Manager

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That wise counsel from the Gospels of “loving your neighbor as yourself” is not so impossible when you try to replicate the way you dream someone would manage you.  It’s easy to see what we don’t like about our leaders; it is a bit more difficult to envision what they should be – or rather, what you should be.  Gallup has recently shared that “about one in 10 people possess a strong natural ability to manage when they are put into their management roles,” so that leaves most of us some room for improvement.  At least 4 of the 7 natural abilities Gallup identifies are driven by knowing your team.  Try considering what would satisfy you if you worked in their skin.

Can you answer these four questions
… about each person you manage?

  • What is their energy level like this month, and what is impacting it?
  • How are they building confidence in their strengths and closing development gaps to enhance their career in the direction they have targeted?
  • Do they know themselves well enough to identify how they impact their own work-satisfaction?
  • What legitimate roadblocks do they feel are keeping them from contributing their best work?

Would you be more engaged if your manager incorporated your answers to these questions into your performance conversations?

If you are not part of that perfect 10% of managers, what is keeping you from knowing your employees well enough to answer questions like these?  Ask yourself: is it skills you need to practice, your behavior that limits relationships, habits that are difficult to prioritize, or are you drawn off-course by the drama of poor performers?  Do not take your eye off your winners; research these answers with them first!

Rapport-building takes time and creativity.  How in the world do you fit these opportunities into all the other responsibilities you juggle?  If you need ideas and solutions to begin or enhance your effort to be the manager of your dreams, we offer reasonable time and budget solutions and have worked one-on-one with scores of leaders.  Let us hear from you!

Find more of what you need by opening our BOX of BLOGS from 2017

Land Your Changes Safely

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Like most leaders, you likely spent a fair amount of energy creating and implementing changes in your organization last year.  Don’t waste that energy by failing to follow up a few months after the change is implemented and ensure all the wheels are still on the bus: the frequent assumption that everyone took initiative to incorporate your wonderful change into their part of the operation is… a fatal mistake.

Each business change follows a similar cycle of being announced, launched, and resisted.  Then it battles through the crucible to find the right fit that adjusts the vision to the reality that will produce the result that prompted the change.  After changes reach the implementation stage, there is more to do: by implementation, we mean adjustments have been made, new practices have been adopted and documented, and results of new practices are being measured.

At this point, most of us are exhausted and ready to wrap-up this change-project!  And it is true that we need to give it some traction at this point – to establish habits and collect baseline measures.  But beware of tying that bow too quickly!  Here is a list of operations aspects that could derail the hard work you put in last year!

CHECK FOR POST-CHANGE BLIND-SPOTS

Strategic Plans – Look to the future and prepare for how your change impacts next steps the business will take; it may need tweaks or updates to maintain effectiveness.

Recurring Processes – Check the adoption of your change by each operational process it touches; other process owners are often last to communicate, adopt, measure and update their SOPs with others’ changes.

Compensation Practices – Ensure pay structures, spiffs, recognition, and teams are adjusted to align with modifications to responsibility levels, revenue impacts and work schedules.

Current Projects – Partner with owners of projects planned or started during your launch cycle; verify any aspects of your change that need to be woven into their project plan or results.

Company-wide Communication – Be aware that it is often years before changes are documented in orientation, marketing, websites or global SOP resources.

Individual Priorities – Drive the provisions for development of new skills and behaviors and for adjustments to employee goals and performance measures; without these drivers, employee enthusiasm to implement your change could soon waver.

We are here to help your team successfully navigate those choppy change-management waters.  From understanding the dangers to customizing a strategy to get safely to your destination with your crew engaged: tell us about your change-challenge!

Find more of what you need by opening our BOX of BLOGS from 2017

Be the Hero; Lead Change

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Strategic business plans are critical when change is required in an organization; one of those plans has probably landed on your desk for every business change you’ve faced.  Maybe you write the plans, but you know each one is useless unless someone works the plan.  You cannot work the plan alone – you need engaged people to work it – every time.

Even good changes stink: performance drops, processes break, projects die, rumors multiply, emotions soar, dependable people leave, customers doubt, budgets fail… the list goes on.  Do the leaders around you continue to think their strategic plans will be enough to carry everyone through this chaos?

FOUNDATIONS TO LEADING THE EXECUTION OF CHANGE

Communicate, communicate, communicate!

  • You can’t over communicate; your communication can be ineffective.
  • Communicate wisely – you can communicate the wrong thing, at the wrong time, in the wrong way….
  • Communicate often – the kaleidoscope of emotions & needs of your audience is ever-fluctuating.
  • Communicate consistently – people must trust that the communication will come:
    • Create audience listening/reading habits, use the same format
    • Build confidence in service/product resources, keep updates current

Move fast to implementation!

  • We define implementation as the time when the changes are used universally and metrics are identified and measured with consistency.
  • Productivity doesn’t usually move in a positive direction until the changes are accepted as ‘business as usual.’

Ensure consistent application of new methods!

  • We naturally return to old habits if/when we get distracted or don’t see value in the new way.
  • It is critical to build in accountability and checks & balance systems to ensure the new ways are being executed correctly and consistently.

Equip employees to manage change!

  • Executing change without the people is futile…
  • Be the heroes… equip the people to work the plan effectively; that is the only way to keep them engaged for the long haul of working through the challenges, finding the solutions and living the dream described in the strategic plan that landed on your desk.
  • Each culture is unique, ask for help to customize the basics to equip your team or employee base.

No one wants to be the one leading the charge – for fear they may be the first to fall….  But preparing everyone to charge means someone must lead the preparation.  Employees want to see your plan succeed – prepare them, so more of you can charge forward together & find support through the fray.  Contact us to discuss strategies for equipping your people to execute successful change.

Find more of what you need by opening our BOX of BLOGS from 2017

Control What You Can Control

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During change, we quickly realize that we have less control over what is happening around us, so we must use our energy to control the things we CAN control.  This is a leadership behavior that can make powerful differences if we share this expectation with all our employees.  Here are three cultural results…

  1. We skip the time and energy used in blaming others who can no longer do things for us that they could do in the past; things changed, and their control is limited also.
  2. When the only thing to control is our own perspective, we make a positive difference by controlling our attitude or controlling our fear of what we do not know about what is coming.
  3. When the expectation is for everyone to control what they can control, we limit energy-draining complaints and move on to exploring solutions that we can control.

Circles of Concern, Control and Influence

During change our circle of concern grows quickly, and our circle of control often shrinks.  We should always seek to understand and monitor those things we cannot control, because we may suddenly find some aspect where we are given control and the opportunity to make a difference.

Taking responsibility for what we are able to control helps us feel less helpless during change.  Another tool for overcoming that vulnerability is to explore and expand our circle of influence.

Everyone’s engagement is expanded in positive directions through effective influence.  Unfortunately, what we often witness is negative influence, that puts a dangerous drag on the implementation of critical changes.

Understanding and monitoring your concerns is also critical to wisely influencing them.

Recognizing and acting on the choices we DO have is a powerful way to influence those things we cannot totally control:

  • We can choose how we prepare for the unknown
  • We can choose the kind of leadership and partnerships we offer to peers and leaders
  • We can choose the impressions and encouragement we give to others
  • We can choose the attitudes we express
  • We can choose the problems we escalate and how we communicate them

We challenge you to list the ways you can expand your influence in the changes that frustrate you today.  If you need more ideas on behaviors that would help equip your employees to manage change, we can help!

Find more of what you need by opening our BOX of BLOGS from 2017

Is Your Resume Current?

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For decades resumes were updated only in preparation for a job-search.  Now competitive players have learned to keep their resumes current as a record of accomplishments and ready for opportunities.  When people gain the confidence that comes from presenting themselves well, they usually explore all their options with more clarity – including what they bring to and gain from their current circumstance.  Exploring resume-realities as a team initiative has significant benefits, but insecure leaders may see it as a risk of losing good people.

Benefits

  • Employees gain a better understanding of each other’s experiences; framing this benefit as a team-building expectation to enrich team communication, collaboration and peer-coaching can enhance your results.
  • Employees realize you are not threatened by their career goals. You are better equipped to coach transferable skills they need now and to motivate further development of skills for their specific future.  They are not going to walk away quickly from an opportunity like that!
  • Employees often begin to see their work as accomplishments to strengthen their resume instead of tasks for a paycheck. This can make a huge difference in ownership, engagement – and performance.

Implementation

  • Propose this initiative as an opportunity to strengthen their professional foundation and their confidence in making recurring adjustments to their resumes.
  • Break the initiative into segments and facilitate them monthly, over several staff meetings, or throughout a planned offsite…. Limit the time for each activity so no one develops a political platform or pontificates.
  • Activity objectives should give opportunities to share positive nuggets about individual experiences or goals to be considered in resume plans.  Examples:
    • “What job would you most like to submit your resume for in 2 to 4 years?” could help them identify skills or experiences to start strengthening.
    • Discussion of how to frame transferable skills or work ethic in a resume could follow answers to, “How did your very first job contribute to the way you work today?”
  • Engage a talent-recruiting colleague to share current resume priorities and faux pas. Be sure they speak directly to the level of resume complexity used by your team; e.g., recruiter should not include executive-level examples for your front-line team.
  • Engage respected, mature managers to speak to what they assume about a person from reading their resume. Ensure qualities that create perception – like tone, format, accomplishment, accuracy, etc. – are discussed and prioritized.  Ask if there are resume features that disqualify their applicants.

Considerations

  • You don’t need to give time to write resumes at work; this is their career, and they should use their time; don’t make their completed resume required homework – that may be illegal!
  • Craft activities that are specific and narrow, so no one is tempted to strive for stardom by exaggerating realities or taking extra time. (Specific: “How did one of your resume accomplishments benefit the business you worked for?” Narrow:  “Jot down you answer… Now quickly read yours aloud if you’d like to share.”
  • Engage a qualified person to give feedback on individual resumes if an employee asks for it.

Customizing activities and coaching leaders to facilitate them is what we love!  If you need ideas for effective team events or initiatives with specific outcomes, connect with us!

Find more of what you need by opening our BOX of BLOGS from 2017

Not Another Staff Meeting…

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Do people forget about your staff meetings?  Do you find yourself herding them into the conference room… or see eyes rolling at the reminder… or bring food-bribes to lighten the burden?  Group meetings are important for most teams, but when attitudes close minds, meeting effectiveness is dulled or even deadened.  Closed minds do not convert that time out of production into the engagement required to apply the meeting benefits to performance.

Weaving one or two of the following aspects into each of your agendas can act as that ‘spoon full of sugar that helps the medicine’ like policy change, data-updates, corrections, reminders, reporting, etc. seem more digestible.

Empowerment

Encourage people by using their own competence; open the floor to ideas or examples like how they customize smart solutions for customers or use their judgement to ensure the proper balance between the business and client needs.

Trust

Ensure you consistently build trust: hold yourself accountable to behave like you expect them to, address the issues instead of the people, clarify expectations through discussion and employee-validation, be loyal to both the company and individuals, show respect for all input even if you need to question it.  (List is not exhaustive…)

Change

Never let them be totally surprised by a change.  Talk about the business needs in ways that help adjustments feel like solutions when they are introduced.  Implementations are always problematic, but resistance can be reduced when people don’t feel betrayed by the news.

Feelings

You don’t need to agree with feelings, but you’d better affirm they are real.  People have them – don’t ignore them.  Share yours – wisely.  Craft ways to allow them to be voiced safely, respectfully and in confidence.

Development

Meetings are a great place to create energy round quick, career-impacting learning that has little to do with their current jobs and everything to do with their next opportunities.

Strategy

Include the business reasons for each practice adjustment; bring it back to mission, vision, and goal-levels as often as you can.  Soon they will make those connections, and that practice will seep into their judgement calls and performance.

Some of these ideas require facilitation skills neglected by many managers.  If your hesitation to the list above was a squeamish feeling about what will be said if you allow open discussion in your meetings, you may need a refresher or coaching on strategic facilitation.  Even if you just need a sounding board, we can certainly help.  Give us a call.

Find more of what you need by opening our BOX of BLOGS from 2017