Can Your Staff Solve Challenges When Faced With Obstacles?

Excerpt from our book, Cracking the Business Code

It only takes a small adjustment of the tiller to get the boat back on course. – Nancy CroixMC900318220[1]

Today is the day to look beyond… to look at the many opportunities and the open horizons that can be in store for you and your organization. This is the time to rally the people that you work with and begin to collaborate and gather ideas in the following areas:

• Improving efficiency
• Raising the customer service bar
• Explore opportunities
• Operational processes
• Cost efficient ways to do things differently
• Identify specific traits in people that you’d like to add to your team
• How to better mentor staff members

Those are just a few areas to explore. Looking out into the future, you’ll want to take advantage of some of the fresh talent that will be available. However, you’ll need to be very selective as to who you’ll want on your team. Managing down just doesn’t work any longer. Understanding the strengths of an individual will help to promote a positive environment where people will want to share ideas that might not have been considered in the past. This is the time to build a positive reputation so your company is a magnet for attracting top talent.

Thinking Outside of the Box

MC910217089[2]I was at a restaurant recently and asked to see if an item that I didn’t see on the menu was available or if I had overlooked it on the menu. They didn’t have the item, but the staff response set me back. The server stated, “Our goal is to think out of the box. To do what we can to please the customer so that positive word of mouth is shared and that will result in more business for us!” Isn’t that what we all want: team members that will think out of the box, positive word of mouth about our business, to increase revenue? What we all need are people like that on our team. So the million-dollar question is: how do we get staff members to think along those lines and how can we attract people like that?

What Is Driving Your Top People?

Learn what is driving your top talent people. If you help them to succeed you’ll create a high level of retention and become a magnet for recruiting. Here are some action items for you to consider:

  1. Use an in-depth work style and personality assessment during the hiring process and for current staff.
  2. Use the data to manage, which in turn will reduce the learning curve for new hires and help to better understand current staff members.
  3. Place individuals in positions that they can succeed in based on their strengths.
  4. Take the time to constantly mentor and create plans to help individuals grow.
  5. Identify traits of individuals that you want in your organization and target those individuals through specific messages in ads, on the web, through networking, and association gatherings.

For your A players (your major contributors), play to their strengths and help them grow. Don’t ignore them just because they are doing well. These are the individuals that if they don’t MC900324776[1]feel engaged in helping the organization to continue to grow and improve, they’ll leave.

For your B players, nurture them through mentoring so they can become A players down the road. For your C players, measure and possibly remove them if they are eating up your time. Never spend 80 percent of your time and energy on the people who are producing 20 percent of your results.

Peel the Onion

But don’t write those C players off too fast. A small hotel chain had reservation reps that were not meeting the volume level that was being required. The manager thought they were just C players and was a very unhappy camper with his team. That person was placed in a different department and a new manager came in who sat down with each individual and then with the group. She discovered that 24 hours before a guest was going to arrive at the hotel property that a high percentage were calling in to verify the reservation and to get directions. This used up valuable call time, so as a team they brainstormed together and came up with a brilliant idea. Since the reps were asking for email addresses why not send an email confirmation 24-48 hours prior with a fun page welcoming the individuals and include links for weather and directions.

Guess what happened? Calls were reduced and the reps were able to take more calls for new reservations with less hold time. All because the manager took the time to ask questions to peel the onion back to identify the underlying issue. When the reps were asked why this topic hadn’t been addressed in the past they simply responded, “No one asked and we never thought of it.”

Set Your Sights on the Future

Make the most out of this environment by helping others in your team to be successful, build a positive reputation, ask your team for ideas and contribute to the well being of the entire organization, train staff to mentor others, and be on the look out for adding fresh talent to your team. Remember, it is important to be precise in what you are looking for and do a MC900297401[1]thorough job interview by asking probing questions, doing reference and background checks, and utilizing an in-depth work style and personality assessment.

This is the time to set your sights on the future, deal with the present by supporting your team, and ask for input. Set your organization on a course for long-term success by using proactive and collaborative mentoring, management, and vision. We’d love to hear about your successes.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2015

 

Dana Borowka, MA, CEO of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC and his organization constantly remain focused on their mission statement – “To bring effective insight to your organization”. They do this through the use of in-depth work style assessments to raise the hiring bar so companies select the right people to reduce hiring and management errors. They also have a full service consulting division that provides domestic and international interpersonal coaching, executive onboarding, leadership training, global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training, operational productivity improvement, 360s and employee surveys as well as a variety of workshops. Dana has over 25 years of business consulting experience and is a nationally renowned speaker, radio and TV personality on many topics. He provides workshops on hiring, managing for the future, and techniques to improve interpersonal communications that have a proven ROI. He is the co-author of the books, “Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code”. To order the books, please visit www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.

We recently launched a new service called Sino-Am Leadership to help executives excel when stationed outside their home country. American managers in Asia and Asian managers in America face considerable business, personal, and leadership challenges because of the cultural differences. This unique program provides personal, one-on-one coaching. For more information visit, https://lighthouseconsulting.com/performance-management/talent-development/sino-american-management-style/.

Resolving Conflict Successfully

By Ellen and Dana Borowka, MA, Excerpt from the book, Cracking the Business Code

Ever notice that no matter what you do, you can’t avoid conflict! It’s everywhere – at work, at home, at that special social gathering or even at the supermarket. Whether you are discussing the dirty dishes with your spouse, that difficult project with a co-worker, or your barking dog with the Conflictnext door neighbor – conflict is hard to manage well. And since we can’t ignore it, we might as well handle it the best possible way. In this article, we’re going to explore what makes up conflict, how we usually (and unsuccessfully) handle it, and ways to manage it better.

Conflict vs. Resolution

First, I’d like to define what conflict is, so we know what we are working with. The first definition is war; and the second is a clash between hostile or opposing ideas, interests or persons. War! That’s a big word! Some might think that their conflicts don’t rate up with war. Yet, just because we don’t pull out guns and bombs, doesn’t mean that we don’t have some casualties in our battles. Many people can go for the kill when they feel hurt and angry, especially in our intimate relationships. Other definitions include, an earnest struggle for superiority or victory; and the state of those who disagree and lack harmony. How many times in conflict do we struggle to be superior to, and have victory over the another, especially when they are acting rude? I think the key phase for conflict is that we lack harmony, and that is not a fun place to be at.

So, what is our alternative? Conflict resolution! It’s a way to settle disagreements peacefully by getting to the root of problems and finding lasting solutions. Why is conflict resolution so important? Knowing how to handle conflict in a constructive manner can help you in relating with others, like your spouse, children and co-workers. Conflict resolution assists by promoting new ideas, encouraging greater understanding, strengthening personal relationships and keeping people safe from violent conflict escalating out of control. It helps us to work through our issues to find harmony and unity with others.

The Three Components of Conflict

What do you need to have conflict erupt? It takes very little to create conflict. In fact, you need only three components to have conflict flare up. As they say in commercials, “It’s as easy as 1,2,3!” The first is people. Conflict can occur between individuals, between groups or among members of the same group. Anywhere where you have people, you can have conflict. The second is different points of view. When each person or group sees a situation in a different way, wants a different outcome or has different plans of what to do then you can have conflict. An example that comes to my mind is the family reunion where conflict can start easily, even over where to go for dinner. The third component is strong emotions. Individuals or groups may have strong feelings about the problem or situation. They may feel a variety of emotions, like anger, fear, disappointment, betrayal, hurt, and so on. Strong feelings can set the stage for a potential war.

Mapping Out Conflict

Yet, conflict is a normal part of life. As I said before, wherever we go we might run into it – misunderstandings with a co-worker, dealing with a difficult client, or a changing relationship with a spouse or friend. So, what can we do about it? Something that seems to be very helpful is an exercise called the Relationship Web, which maps out the status of your relationships. Drawing a relationship web is very easy. First, on a piece of regular size paper, draw a circle in the middle and put your name in it. Then draw other circles around yours and put names of those people that have an impact on your life. You then connect your circle to each of your other circles with a variety of lines. A straight line signifies a peaceful and calm relationship; a slightly wavy line is a relationship that has occasional ups and down; a very wavy line denotes a relationship with many ups and downs; and a jagged line is a stormy relationship. The lines of your web might look like spokes on a wheel that attach to your center circle. When you are done with your web, you might want to consider the following questions for your relationships: Why do you think you have conflict with this person? And if you could change some of these wavy and jagged lines, which ones would you change and why? Now that you have explored the conflict in your relationships, it might be helpful to look how you handle conflict.

Common Conflict Styles

The following are some ways that we commonly deal with conflict:

  1. Avoid or runaway from the conflict. An example of this could be when someone refuses to address a problem with a spouse or co-worker.jumping hoops
  2. Pretend the conflict doesn’t exist. This is when we deny that there is even a problem to address!
  3. Give in or go along with the other person. When we give in or go along, we deny our own needs and build resentment towards the other person.
  4. Attack or try to win through force or power with criticism, insults, manipulation, name-calling or violence, which is a very destructive method to deal with conflict.

As you might imagine, none of these styles resolve our problems. Rather, they worsen the situation – allowing conflict to fester and explode out of control. So, how do you handle conflict? Do you have a conflict style that you use in difficult situations? Let’s look at some ways that we can deal with conflict in a healthier manner. Since good communication is the key to successful conflict resolution, we’ll start there.

Elements of Successful Communication

  1. Have respect for the other person’s feelings and point of view, even though you don’t agree. The goal to successful communication is to have empathy – to understand why someone is doing what they are doing and feeling what they are feeling. We feel that empathy is the glue in all relationships. If you don’t have empathy, you don’t have anything.
  2. Don’t take the conflict personally, don’t let it under your skin. Let the other person blow off steam, and be patient. Many people say things in anger that they don’t mean.
  3. Be a good listener! To be a good listener, you need to avoid interrupting the other person, and ask questions when they are finished speaking. Also, watch body language to be aware of what is going on with the other person, and to look for mixed messages. Mixed messages are when someone says one thing, yet their body language is saying the opposite. There is an old saying, “The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.” – Unknown
  4. State what you’re hearing. Use active listening, which is to paraphase what you think the other person is saying. This tells them that you understand what they are saying, and gives them the chance to explain, if you didn’t understand. This is an extremely effective tool in managing conflict and avoiding miscommunication.
  5. Use “I Statements” when discussing hot subjects. An example of an I statement is “I feel really hurt when you snap at me, because it makes me feel like you don’t respect me.” An I statement is composed of three elements. The “I” helps us to maintain our responsibility for our feelings or observations; the “when” gives a specific example for the other person; and the “because” provides our reason for why we are bothered by the situation. I statements helps us to avoid being vague and accusatory with others.
  6. State your feelings clearly – express what you think without attacking the other person. Don’t be hostile or use name-calling, criticism or insults – that will only make things worse.
  7. Focus on the problem, not the person. Look for common ground – a shared need – something you both want or can agree on. This will strengthen teamwork between the both of you.
  8. Are there any hidden agendas? Is there something that is bothering the other person that he or she is not talking about, that might be feeding into the problem. Asking questions is a good way to uncover hidden agendas, like: Is something else bothering you? Is there something else going on? You look like you have something more to say?
  9. Take timeouts to keep conflict from escalating. When things get too hot, take some time to cool down – at least an hour or 24 hours. Be sure to schedule a follow-up time to resolve the issue.

The Problem Solving Process

After you have had a full discussion about the conflict then you may want to brainstorm with the other person to find some ways to resolve the problem. First, set an agenda on workgrpwhat you both want to focus on in the situation. Next, brainstorm for different ideas to solve the problem. One of you should write down the ideas, and don’t evaluate the ideas during the brainstorming process. Sort through the ideas and implement a specific action plan. Consider every idea and think about the consequences. Then arrange a follow-up date to check in on the progress of the action plan. If the plan is not working then recycle through the problem solving process again.

Successful Conflict Resolution Takes Practice!

These are some tips to manage conflict in a structured and positive format. It takes practice – so don’t throw it out, just because it takes some extra effort. Conflict resolution is not, by any means, the easiest thing to do. Yet, when we don’t deal with our conflicts, they fester and grow worse. It’s like when we feel sick and throw up. Noone likes it, but it cleans out the system and we feel much better. Successful conflict resolution takes practice, patience and respect. There’s an old saying, “Coming together is a beginning, Keeping together is progress, Working together is Success!” How you handle conflict will determine its outcome!

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2016 

Dana Borowka, MA, CEO and Ellen Borowka, MA, Senior Analyst of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC with their organization constantly remain focused on their mission statement – “To bring effective insight to your organization”. They do this through the use of in-depth work style assessments to raise the hiring bar so companies select the right people to reduce hiring and management errors. They also have a full service consulting division that provides domestic and international interpersonal coaching, executive onboarding, leadership training, global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training, operational productivity improvement, 360s and employee surveys as well as a variety of workshops. They have over 25 years of business and human behavioral consulting experience. They are nationally renowned speakers and radio personalities on this topic. They are the authors of the books, “Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code”. To order the books, please visit www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.

We recently launched a new service called Sino-Am Leadership to help executives excel when stationed outside their home country. American managers in Asia and Asian managers in America face considerable business, personal, and leadership challenges because of the cultural differences. This unique program provides personal, one-on-one coaching. For more information visit, https://lighthouseconsulting.com/performance-management/talent-development/sino-american-management-style/.

The Two-Tunnel Trap

By Larry Wilson, Author of Play to Win, Excerpt from the book, Cracking the Business Code

Leaders need to be great communicators to grab and keep the attention of their followers. No easy task since the natural result of communication is misunderstanding. Odds are you misunderstood what I just said, so again: “The natural result of communication is misunderstanding.”

construction signHere’s a story to support this point:

A wise engineer had the task of digging a tunnel through a mountain. As his workers were unskilled at the task, he brought them together to explain. “See that mountain over there? Well, you’re going to dig a tunnel through it. Half of you will start digging the tunnel from the east side. The other half will start digging from the west side. When you meet in the middle, you’ve dug a tunnel. Now, if you don’t meet in the middle, you’ve dug two tunnels.”

The fact is that most communication ends up being separate tunnels. This has brought many a leader to their knees, especially when the stakes are high.

I’m saying this to remind you how important, and yet difficult, it is to have one-tunnel conversations. So how is it done? Start by agreeing on a mutual definition. In our case, we need to define the word “communication.” We’ll define it as: A sense of mutual understanding.

How do we get others to understand us? Here’s a three-word solution to the two-tunnel trap: Simple, familiar and dramatic. Use simple words, familiar examples, and wrap up your point by telling a relevant dramatic story.

Digging Deeper

Let’s dig a little deeper into our tunnel of understanding – or mis-understanding.digging

  1. Simple. Use words that everyone understands. Forget the million-dollar words you used to impress your English teacher.
  2. Familiar. Use words that your audience uses on a regular basis. No insider jargon – that just confuses things and ends up excluding people rather than including them.
  3. Dramatic. Tell a brief story or example that parallels the situation you’re trying to communicate. This will help your audience bring the information together into a whole picture, rather than just the parts.

Here’s a non-example of this simple formula. To set the context, you are a new army recruit whose drill instructor (leader) is introducing you to a new safety device. Let’s listen in:

“All right you people, today is the day we introduce the new Regulation Missile Whistle, Model M-1. This is a self-repeating, lung-operated, air-cooled general personnel model issued to all relevant ranks. The whistle is divided into two component parts. These are the Whistle Cylinder Blowing Assembly and the Whistle Retaining Chain Assembly Mechanism. At the Blowing Aperture, there are two raised sections. You people in the back had better stand up so you can see this. The opening from the blowing end into the main cylinder is called the Compression Blow Channel. The other remaining component part of the whistle is known as the Chamber Operating Assembly Complex. This consists of the Opening Sound Admission Slot, the Cylinder Butt Lock onto which the Whistle Retaining Chain Assembly Part is attached, and the Cylinder Reverberating Operating Cork Pellet Device.”

Whew! How many tunnels do you think were dug in that mountain?!

whistleLet’s look at what happens if we apply our ‘simple, familiar and dramatic’ formula to this scenario? The DI/leader might sound something like this:

“OK folks, this here is a whistle. When you blow into it, it makes a very loud noise. If you ever find yourself pinned down in a foxhole, bullets whizzing over your head in every direction, take out this little jewel and blow like hell. We’ll come and get you out.”

Now that’s a message anyone could understand. Simple, familiar words put together in a dramatic sequence that keeps everyone digging the same tunnel.

Say what?

Here’s a learning process that can help you keep getting better at making sure everyone is digging one tunnel: “What did I plan to say, what did I say, and what will I say next time in the same situation?” Getting better on purpose is what makes a good leader into a great leader – and a primary reason why others want to follow.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2016 

Larry Wilson was an internationally recognized pioneer in change management, leadership development and strategic thinking, and is the co-author of The One-Minute Sales Person and Play to Win. He founded two companies, Wilson Learning Corp. and Pecos River Learning. Larry worked with companies to help them “create the organization that, if it existed, would put them out of business.” Larry passed on in 2009 and will be greatly missed, yet cherished through his books and articles for years to come. One of the things that Larry used to say was “Love your customers so much that they want to refer business to you since who can resist love?”

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.

To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code” please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

We recently launched a new service called Sino-Am Leadership to help executives excel when stationed outside their home country. American managers in Asia and Asian managers in America face considerable business, personal, and leadership challenges because of the cultural differences. This unique program provides personal, one-on-one coaching. For more information visit, https://lighthouseconsulting.com/performance-management/talent-development/sino-american-management-style/.

Millennials: How to Attract, Retain and Manage

By Bhavna Chadalavada

Much has been said and written about millennials (generally referred to by researchers as having birth years ranging from the early 1980s to the early 2000s), but little of it has come from within our generation itself. The reality about us is that we want what the business community at large wants and needs, but we are pushing for it harder and faster than some are comfortable with. It’s causing us to leave jobs, shuffle positions frequently, befuddle our superiors, generally cause angst, and in some cases accelerate desired culture shifts.

Barry Salzberg, CEO of Deloitte Global, put it aptly when he said “The message is clear: when looking at their career goals, Millennials are just as interested in how a business develops its people and how it contributes to society as they are in its products and profits. These findings should be viewed as a wake-up call to the business community.” And, the wake-up call is coming quickly: by the end of 2015, millennials are expected to overtake baby boomers in the workforce as more and more boomers reach retirement age.

We are a generation that has embraced and fueled rapid technological advancement and creative innovation that has changed the scope of multiple facets of the world today: from medicine and healthcare, to poverty, water and hunger, to social connection, dating, food and music. So, what are the tricks to attract, retain, and manage the best among us? Read ahead to find out.

Attract

We love free lunch, but we know that culture goes beyond that. The following 3 elements are critical to attracting us.

(1) Purpose, mission, meaning

77% of millennials state that their “ability to excel in their job is contingent upon deriving meaning from their work”. We want our employers to have a purpose and mission for their business (for 6 in 10 Millennials, a “sense of purpose,” is part of the reason they chose to work for their current employers), and we want to connect to it in order to feel enlivened and energized by the work we are doing.
In all honesty though, who wants a grinding, robotic 9-5 culture? Employers and the former generation seem to have grown used to it, and have tolerated it either because they see no other way, or because they see another way and don’t know how to get there.

Millennials are built to get there: we are here to change things and make sure those changes stick. “Big Four” Accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers is planning for a workforce of nearly 80% millennials in 2016. It might take other organizations a few more years, but millennials are expected to make up 75% of the workforce by the year 2025.

(2) Quality of leadership

According to a Deloitte study, today’s Millennials place less value on visible (19%), well-networked (17%), and technically-skilled (17%) leaders. Instead, they define true leaders as strategic thinkers (39%), inspirational (37%), personable (34%) and visionary (31%).
Who we are working under is a big reason we would want to be associated with a given company. The opportunity to observe a strategic-thinking, inspirational, personable, and visionary leader from close quarters is in many cases enough to hook us in.

(3) Opportunity for learning and development

business team meeting-large by Eric Bailey, Pexel

By Eric Bailey

Maneuverability (ability to shift area of work within a given company, along with potential for growth of responsibility in a role) & development initiatives for employees (beyond your standard Training program) are critical. To illustrate this point, if we are given a choice of:

A) Less pay at a company that:

• Has opportunities for learning and development within a given role.
• Offers us the ability to shadow and learn about other roles and potentially eventually make an internal transition.

B) A higher-paying position at a company with:

• Perks (free lunch) & Incentives (cash-bonuses).
• A boxed-in position with little opportunity for development.

We are choosing option A (unless, for unfortunate economic reasons – like student loans – we have to take B).

Retain

Inherently, we are built to make businesses successful and last – but getting caught up in short term ROI and losing sight of us as people is a sure way to isolate and push us away. We care about the success of the business, but we also see how that goes hand in hand with unleashing the best in an organization’s people.

If we are treated like a number, we will go ahead and treat our employers like a number right back. We’ll stop coming in early and leaving late, and we’ll do the job just well enough to stay hired – until we find something better and jump ship. Most of us are already cultivating our side hobbies and projects, so if you give us reason enough, we will dedicate more and more of our time and energy into that. We’ll clock in and clock out until one day we drop the job and leave, just like our employers fear.

It may sound self-serving, but it is a protective mechanism that ultimately allows not only us but also our employers to thrive: by hiring and retaining the right people while creating and maintaining a culture of purpose. A culture of purpose is proven by multiple sources by now to outperform financially – this is no longer a debate.

If companies have a mission and purpose that is adhered to, provide resources and programs for training and development, and their people and leaders are indicative of the culture and mission they seek to promote – they’ve got us locked in. We’re going to give it everything we’ve got.

But if not, we’re going to eventually leave and have our employers scratching their heads wondering what went wrong. What went wrong is that expectations out of workplaces have changed, and we need more than your typical scene from The Office – which unfortunately (and comically) is still tolerated by many organizations.

The facts and figures support this:

• According to a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers, millennials rated training and development as the most highly valued employee benefit. In fact, training and development outranked cash bonuses by a whopping 300%.
• 78% of millennials surveyed by MTV said “even if I have a job it’s important to have a side project that could become a different career.”
• Unlike previous generations that sought out career destinations, millennials are job hoppers, expecting to stay in a job for less than three years. Job hopping can lead to greater fulfillment, which is vitally important to this generation.
• 88% percent of millennials considered “positive culture important or essential to their job” and said that if they don’t have it at their current employer, they will look elsewhere.

Manage

If our employers create the right culture and hire the right people, managing us becomes less work – which is what both sides want anyway.
In more granular terms, what we want day to day is:

1) Clear goals and projects.
2) Independence to work and create (high trust).
3) A collaborative environment (a whopping 88% of millennials prefer a collaborative work environment over a competitive one).
4) Check-ins fairly often where we are kept appraised of our performance by a forward-thinking and accessible manager (according to a survey by Millennial Branding and American Express, 53% of millennials said a mentorship relationship would help them become better and more productive workers).

When discussing career plans and progress, 96% of millennials want to talk face-to-face. We don’t want to be surprised with immediate repercussions or talked behind – we want to be told how we can improve. Being given less responsibility as a result of what we do not yet know does not motivate us, it deflates us.

success-479568_640 (Pixabay)

By Gerd Altmann

We were raised in an increasingly transparent world – to us, being a “straight shooter” is not a rarity. Being open and communicative is our way of life, and we consider it a sign of trust and investment that you’ll provide us with feedback rather than treat us like a dispensable cog in a machine. According to a University of North Carolina study, 88% of millennials said they would rather receive feedback in real time, not to mention frequent in-person check-ins on progress.

And, we’ll take it a step further too: we want to be able to have a dialogue about our company’s (or even just our team’s) growth and performance. Just because we are less experienced and less grey-haired, we don’t think that should stop us from being able to contribute to decisions being made. Our employers have our buy-in (millennials have no shame in allowing their professional and social worlds to collide, with 70% having “friended” their managers and coworkers on Facebook), so shouldn’t the trust extend both ways?

As a millennial who has worked on Wall Street, in Silicon Valley for an old-guard global Tech corporation, in start-ups, and for consulting firms – these insights remain true across the board. Some companies have caught on, and some have not, but the future lies here. And, the most innovative and successful companies out there are now utilizing this knowledge full-scale – it is no longer a question of if it is worth the initial investment to do so. It ends up costing more in turnover and poor performance not to!

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2018

Bhavna Chadalavada writes and speaks on Millennials in Corporate America, and serves as a consultant and thought partner for established Leadership coaches. She is connected to the Conscious Capitalism movement, and has partnered with the Conscious Business Firm Axialent as well as Values-Based Leadership Consulting firm LRN. Earlier in her career she worked in Finance on Wall Street for UBS and in Tech Consulting in Silicon Valley for Oracle. She is a graduate of Columbia University, where she also played D1 Basketball. For more information, you can contact Bhavna at bhavna.chadalavada@gmail.com.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication and stress management.

To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code”, “Cracking the Business Code” and “Cracking the High-Performance Team Code”, please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

We recently launched a new service called Sino-Am Leadership to help executives excel when stationed outside their home country. American managers in Asia and Asian managers in America face considerable business, personal, and leadership challenges because of the cultural differences. This unique program provides personal, one-on-one coaching. For more information visit, https://lighthouseconsulting.com/performance-management/talent-development/sino-american-management-style/.

Keep What You’ve Got: Attracting and Retaining Top Talent

By Dana Borowka, MA – Excerpt from the book, Cracking the Business Code

During the next ten, twenty, and thirty years, finding qualified sales and customer service people is going to get more difficult, thanks to a shrinking workforce and a maturing population. Therefore, retention of your top people is more important than ever.

MC900090563[1]Attracting talent, retention, and training (or onboarding individuals) all fall into one big melting pot. Finding, supervising, and keeping employees are not stand-alone items — each affects the other.

Ten years ago the shot heard ‘round the recruiting world was the McKinsey & Co. declaration that better employee talent is worth fighting for. The 1998 bombshell article in the McKinsey Quarterly titled, “The War for Talent,” predicted a battle that would last for decades.

Publications like Fast Company quickly spread the news from the boardroom bunkers to the cubicle trenches. The reason was demographics and the retirement of the Baby Boom generation. The battle cry was to not only improve hiring practices, but to work harder to retain your best employees.

McKinsey’s supply and demand predictions have come true with a vengeance. The U.S. workforce, which grew by 54 percent from 1980 to 2000, is only expected to grow by 3 percent from 2000 to 2020.

During the past decades, companies have proven that you can’t win the war just by spending more. When it comes to finding and keeping employees, pay is secondary for top talent. But if you build up an outstanding reputation, people will line up to work at your organization.

You have to realize that reputation matters. People talk. Images get established. Web postings take place. Today, no organization can afford to have a bad reputation. A number of MC900231004[1]years ago, the airline industry did a study that showed that a bad experience was communicated to around 300 people and a great experience was shared with only 30 or less.

So, where do you start in order to build a positive reputation from within and without? It all begins with taking the time to uncover, identify, and understand how the team is communicating. No matter how high tech our world has become with instant messaging, emailing, and cell phones, the biggest problem we all have is still communications.

To illustrate, think of a whale. Probably everyone reading this article visualized something different. Some are seeing in their mind’s eye a peaceful pod of gray whales migrating south. A few think of a friendly Shamu jumping out of the water at Sea World. While others picture a scary Monstro swallowing Pinocchio. How often do you discuss a topic with someone in the workplace and they completely misunderstand what you wanted?

Communicating with prospective employees begins way before an application or interview. A number of years ago a client of ours identified some traits they wanted members of their team to have. The company realized they needed to position themselves in their narrow marketplace as the place to work. Whenever a company executive gave a speech to an association group they always ended the talk with mentioning that they are the Rolls Royce of organizations to work for. If anyone knows of A players who want to work at the best place to use their skills and talents, then have them give the company a call.

MC900437519[1]Fast forward a number of years. My firm conducts personality testing for all of this company’s final candidates. For certain levels, we also do phone interviews, always asking how they heard of the organization. Consistently we have heard it was because of their reputation in the industry for being the best place to work for utilizing skills and talents.

Learn what is driving your top talent people. If you help them to succeed you’ll create a high level of retention and become a magnet for recruiting. So what does all of this have to do with retention? It’s about setting your people up for success, and this takes active management and mentoring.

 

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2015

Dana Borowka, MA, CEO of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC and his organization constantly remain focused on their mission statement – “To bring effective insight to your organization”. They do this through the use of in-depth work style assessments to raise the hiring bar so companies select the right people to reduce hiring and management errors. They also have a full service consulting division that provides domestic and international interpersonal coaching, executive onboarding, leadership training, global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training, operational productivity improvement, 360s and employee surveys as well as a variety of workshops. Dana has over 25 years of business consulting experience and is a nationally renowned speaker, radio and TV personality on many topics. He provides workshops on hiring, managing for the future, and techniques to improve interpersonal communications that have a proven ROI. He is the co-author of the books, “Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code”. To order the books, please visit www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.

We recently launched a new service called Sino-Am Leadership to help executives excel when stationed outside their home country. American managers in Asia and Asian managers in America face considerable business, personal, and leadership challenges because of the cultural differences. This unique program provides personal, one-on-one coaching. For more information visit, https://lighthouseconsulting.com/performance-management/talent-development/sino-american-management-style/.

How to Hire Loop Closers: Train, Talk and Test to Create a Terrific Team of Loop Closers

By Dana Borowka

Don’t you hate it when this happens? Most business execs face situations where they thought someone in their employ would do something and it turns out they either forgot, ignored you or did the wrong thing. All of these issues are a result of not closing the loop.

BizfootballBusiness leaders struggle to get important tasks done because they have to rely on others. Unfortunately, this reliance is just part of doing business. To better achieve your objectives, it’s vital that you create a team committed to follow through — closing the loop — so that vital actions can get done.

In business jargon, “closing the loop”, means to follow up on and/or close out an area of discussion. The phrase is closely related to “circle back around” and “loop in”.

Closing the loop is akin to following up, checking in or closing the deal. The term comes from control systems where they close the control loop in order for the system to remain stable. The opposite of a stable system is one that is unstable. In control system parlance, this is referred to as an open loop system since it has no feedback and thus will likely spin out of control — kind of like projects without any follow-up.

The secrets of creating a team of loop closers are the three Ts: training, talking, and testing.

Training About It

A champion of closing the loop is Wanda Allen, a person with some pointed advice about the importance of follow up.

As a business banker for more than two decades, Allen has over 20 years experience in management and business development. Her area of expertise was SBA Lending where she managed SBA Departments that generated $100 million in annual loan volume. Her banking career built a thorough understanding for creating and retaining excellent client relationships while implementing a system that supports consistent closing the loop practices.

When the bank she worked for was acquired, she reinvented herself as a national speaker, coach and the author of the book, Follow Up Savvy, as well as being a contributing author to Amazon’s #1 Best Seller, Selling With Synchronicity.

Allen has five key teachings that should be used in employee training to create a loop closing culture. Teach your employees to do the following. Everyone you work with is a ”customer”. That includes all internal departments, vendors and clients.

1. Reach out right away. When you meet someone and feel a connection, reach out within 48 hours to take that relationship to the next level. “Networking is a popular way to meet new contacts and prospects,” says Allen. “However, all too often the new contacts are never followed up with. Studies show that 48 percent of sales people never follow up. This is a first impression opportunity that will make you memorable.”

2. Say thank you to your clients. They have agreed to do business with you and it’s important to show your appreciation. “When we were kids, we were taught to say thank you,” says Allen. “That simple act has all but disappeared. The fast paced culture we live in has pushed common courtesy to the side. Be different and say thank you.”

3. Keep your clients close. Stay in touch (another form of follow up) with your clients a minimum of three times per year, more if necessary. “As much as we think we wouldn’t be Bizpassingbatonforgotten about…we will if we’re not staying in touch,” says Allen. “This is especially important for transactional businesses. Even if a client was satisfied with your products and/or services, that’s not enough reason to be remembered. The only way to be remembered is to stay in touch.”

4. Call those clients. Call your clients for no other reason than to just say hi and see how they’re doing. This is always a nice surprise. “It’s a nice gesture to check in with your clients when it has nothing to do with business,” says Allen. “This is how the relationship and loyalty are strengthened. It shows that your client is more than the business being conducted. “

5. Closing the loop also requires technology. Decide on one database program that best fits your needs and use it consistently. A database program is the heart of an effective follow up system. “It’s very difficult to stay on top of your follow up responsibilities if the information is not centralized,” says Allen. “Without a database program, follow up becomes overwhelming and unmanageable. The program will keep the information organized and no one will ever be forgotten. “

Talking About It

Make closing the loop a part of your conversations at the workplace. A leader needs to be a storyteller, and one of the stories you want to tell is about the importance of closing the loop.

digginginTalk about what goes right and what goes wrong. A vital step in closing the loop—perhaps the most important—requires digging in to find the root causes of an individual customer’s problem, and, whenever possible, “fixing” the situation for that customer. This means you have to talk with those customers whose feedback deserves follow-up so you can probe deeper.

Tell your people time and again that the primary goal should be to fix the customer’s individual problems, but this follow-up can also help you identify and address more systemic issues. Talking about loop closing can guide you in improving products, policies, services and processes so that every customer gets a better experience and problems don’t recur.

Testing About It

Before you hire, test your top candidates to help determine if they are loop closers or if they have loop closing aptitude. To build a culture of loop closing, attitude and aptitude are everything.

While we are staunch advocates of in-depth work style & personality assessments, we admit there are limits to its power. If you meet a profiling organization that says you can decide to hire or not hire based on test data alone, please walk away. No, run away. Personality testing is not a silver bullet or magic potion.

The secret is to cultivate top performers through a three-step process: assess candidates with personality profiling, screen candidates for behavioral tendencies like an aptitude for loopquestionmkhead closing, and manage more effectively based on behavioral styles to reinforce the importance of follow up and follow through. The goal is to base your hiring and managing decisions on the best data that can be collected, not just your gut instincts (which can fool you).

Of course, no matter how good an interviewer you are, you are not getting the full picture during an interview. The next step has to do with background and reference checks and personality assessments. Trust, but verify.

What criteria should you use to screen an in-depth work style & personality assessment? Here are some questions you need to ask:

  • What training or degrees are required for interpretation of the data? Tests that only require a weekend training program to interpret data can be problematic since testing is a very complex subject. When making hiring or internal decisions, managers need as much information and understanding as possible because the consequences can be costly.
  • If you hire a testing company, do they also review the person’s resume and job description? We suggest you make sure that the testing company requires that they are provided with the resume and job description as part of the process so it is used when reviewing the assessment. Probe on issues of follow up, follow through and loop closing.
  • Does the test you use have a scale for “Impression Management” to understand the accuracy of results and determine if the test taker is trying to “fake good”? Yes, job candidates try to game the test. The questionnaire needs a minimum of 164 questions to gather enough data for this scale. 
  • What is the number of actual primary scales used? Many tests will claim to have more scales than they actually have.
  • Does the data provide the depth necessary to understand how an individual is wired inside? If they only use four primary scales, that is not sufficient. You need a minimum of 12 primary scales and 16 are optimal.

grouplightbulbThese are some general questions and if a profile falls short in any area, we strongly suggest additional research into the accuracy of the data being generated. In our book, Cracking the Personality Code you will find additional information on this topic. While personality testing can be a valuable resource before you hire, perhaps the true value of any assessment comes in using the insights it provides along the entire spectrum of employment. Personality assessments lend objectivity to decisions that may otherwise be largely subjective. Again, use the interview to find out if they have a good attitude and a good aptitude when it comes to the subject of being a loop closer.

Ready to learn more about closing the loop? Then click here for our bonus article, “Three Tips from Three Loop Closing Experts”.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2015

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement. To order the books, Cracking the Personality Code and Cracking the Business Code, please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

We recently launched a new service called Sino-Am Leadership to help executives excel when stationed outside their home country. American managers in Asia and Asian managers in America face considerable business, personal, and leadership challenges because of the cultural differences. This unique program provides personal, one-on-one coaching. For more information visit, https://lighthouseconsulting.com/performance-management/talent-development/sino-american-management-style/.

Cracking The Leadership Code: What Type Of Leader Are You?

By Dana Borowka, MA & Bruce Heller, Ph.D. – Excerpt from the book, Cracking the Business Code

Watch your words: they become your thoughts.
Watch your thoughts: they become your actions.
Watch your actions: they become your habits.
Watch your habits: they become your destiny.
— Frank Outlaw

Organizations are in need of leaders at all levels in order to grow and sustain business. Hiring the right people, mentoring, and coaching individuals is vital in not only sharing ideas from the past but also for attracting and retaining top talent to ensure performance and survival of an organization.

At the end of this article, you can take a leadership assessment. We feel this is very important in order to better understand yourself as a leader, but also to gather insight on how to bizwoman with grp on bluemanage others. If you are able to inspire and encourage others to share ideas that can be integrated into your business goals and objectives then… WOW! You know how to tap into unique resources of your team. If not, we’d encourage you to continue reading to find a way to do so.

A number of years ago, a manager that we knew would yell, scream, and demean fellow team members. It got to a point where the team wouldn’t even talk to this manager. Team members started to gather together and created ideas on their own to implement. After about six to eight months, profitability started to increase – market share improved – overhead costs were reduced. The manager wanted to know what was going on. It turned out that since the team members were selected for their proactive leadership characteristics, the team succeeded despite their obstacle. They strived to rally each other and effectively work together as a team. The manager started to realize what had happened and learned a very valuable lesson about leadership. While his team managed to pull together to be an efficient team, he didn’t fulfill his role as a leader. A leader needs to listen, to ask non-judgmental questions, and to communicate in a way that doesn’t shut people down.

With the many challenges we all face, now is the time to rally your team members; now is the time to enhance your leadership style; now is the time to listen to ideas and plan for the future. In-depth work style and personality assessments not only help when hiring, they can be a manager’s best tool to connect with employees and identify future leaders. You can manage the hard way or the easy way, the choice is up to you. The hard way is to be the “my way or the highway” type of boss. You know the kind: always forcing workers to do things in a way that isn’t natural for them. Wouldn’t it be better to use your understanding of work style traits to tap into the natural flow so you can get the best out of your people? Of course, knowing your employees, understanding their concerns, and developing connected relationships with them should be the normal procedure for all managers.

What is the payoff to a manager for developing connected relationships with employees using in-depth work style and personality assessments? Here are three good benefits. First, it enables the manager to better anticipate what roadblocks might occur with a worker, and what to do to reduce this resistance. Second, understanding where employees are coming from will help you plan out how much participation you need from them, and will give some clues as to how change should be communicated to them. Third, building connected relationships builds commitment and loyalty.

Take The Connected Leader Test

bizman with pencilHow connected are you as a manager? To find out, we asked our colleague Dr. Bruce Heller, an industrial psychologist with over 25 years experience, to help us design a quick connected leader self test. Once you answer the questions, we will provide you with specific tips and ideas that you can begin to implement immediately. For most managers, leadership does not come naturally. The tips we share will help you to become a better listener and a more connected leader. Employee buy-in comes when a manager is able to listen attentively, understand their needs and concerns, and to lead using your natural style.

For each of the 10 questions, choose the response that best matches your situation. Then give yourself the corresponding point value for each question. Total up your score and look to the end of the test for how to interpret your score.

Connected Leader Questions

Scoring instructions:
Don’t know = 1 point, Never = 2 points, Seldom = 3 points, Often = 4 points, Always = 5 points

  1. Do you get personally involved with co-workers, colleagues, peers, and others?
  2. Do you believe that your role as a leader is to serve your direct reports?
  3. Do you feel your employees are motivated to help you achieve your goals?
  4. How often do you acknowledge a special occasion of a direct report?
  5. Do you reflect upon the potential impact you make on direct reports?
  6. Do you spend time thinking about meeting the needs of others
  7. Do you consider yourself a sensitive leader?
  8. In your family, did your parents spend time listening and reflecting on an emotional level?
  9. Do you think your peers and direct reports consider you a sensitive leader?
  10. Do you keep a journal of your interactions and conversations?

Your Total

Scoring

This self-test helps you identify what level of connected leader you are. Research has shown that leaders who are able to attend and connect with their employees are more successful. This is because connection creates a depth of relationship that translates into improved productivity, less turnover, and a more engaged work force.

Here are the breakdowns for your scoring. If you scored:

0-14 You are disconnected from the people who make up your organization. To become more connected you may need to hire an executive coach.

15-26 Your connections are frail and therefore you could benefit from taking more time to think about others and find ways to connect with them. Sharing something about yourself will be effective. Also, begin to keep a journal of your interactions. Think about ways you can become more connected to people in your organization.

27-36 You are a connected leader. This means that you connect with your team and work towards building relationships. However, you could benefit from being even more connected by spending time walking around and speaking to people and especially begin to share with people something about you personally. This can mean a hobby or an interest.

36-50 You are deeply connected as a leader. You have an ability to think about ways to communicate and be sensitive to the needs of the people in your organization. Therefore, people want to work for you and you have a loyal following.

How To Get Connected

It’s been said there is a significant difference between hearing someone speak to you and really listening to what they say. Most managers consider themselves to be good listeners. But is that really the case?

Being a connected manager requires that you suspend judgment of your subordinates’ actions or reactions while you try to understand them. Personality assessments provide a great deal of clues. Sometimes, you will need to read between the lines of what they say. Next comes gentle questioning and probing, to clarify what is going on. The goal is to understand and not to judge.

For most managers, this does not come naturally. These tips will help you become a better listener and a more connected leader.

  1. Practice active listening. An active listener is ready and willing to really hear what the other person has to say. When you actively listen, you pay close attention to the speaker and don’t just wait until they get done talking, or worse yet, interrupt them. Paraphrase back to the person to check in that you fully understand what is being said.
  2. Enter the listening zone. When a subordinate approaches you to discuss something, go into listening mode. Do what it takes to minimize distractions, look the speaker in the eye, and make a decision in your head to really listen. If you know their personality type, then think what their style of communication is.
  3. Seek to understand first. Pay close attention to what the subordinate is really saying, both the words and the feeling behind them. Watch the speaker’s body language. Instead of interrupting if you have a question or comment, write it down so you can remember it for later.
  4. Show empathy. Empathy, the ability to know and feel what others experience, is the foundation of being a connected leader. Managers in industries ranging from health care to high tech are realizing benefits to their team’s productivity when they show empathy. The old adage applies: “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
  5. Hold your reactions. Have you ever seen someone react negatively to what you say without saying a word? Even if you disagree with the subordinate, do not react negatively by shaking your head or putting on a big frown. Instead give positive cues like smiling, maintaining eye contact, leaning toward the speaker, taking notes, and even making those little positive “right” and “go on” statements. When they are finished, take a breath, and then weigh in with your feedback.

We all want to be understood. Employee buy-in comes when a manager is able to listen attentively, understand them as people, and to lead naturally.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2015

Dr. Bruce Heller has over 20 years experience consulting with managers and executives on management development, improving productivity, leadership effectiveness, and organizational effectiveness. He has a strong academic background and extensive business experience with everyday issues facing business leaders. His executive coaching assignments have included working with “C” suite executives of global manufacturing and service companies such as: St. Luke’s Hospital, Century City Hospital, Midway Medical Center, and Encino Hospital, Amgen, Gilead Sciences, Edwards LifeSciences, Lockheed-Martin, Northrup-Grumman, Schering-Plough, Varian VSP, Avail Medical, and Novo Nardisk, Baxter Health Care, Toyota, Honda Financial, and The Los Angeles Times. Dr. Heller has authored the book, The Prodigal Executive-How to Coach Executives Too Painful to Keep, Too Valuable to Fire. For more information, contact Dr. Heller at 818-981-4310 or BruceHeller@HellerGroupInc.com.

Dana Borowka, MA, CEO of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC and his organization constantly remain focused on their mission statement – “To bring effective insight to your organization”. They do this through the use of in-depth work style assessments to raise the hiring bar so companies select the right people to reduce hiring and management errors. They also have a full service consulting division that provides domestic and international interpersonal coaching, executive onboarding, leadership training, global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training, operational productivity improvement, 360s and employee surveys as well as a variety of workshops. Dana has over 25 years of business consulting experience and is a nationally renowned speaker, radio and TV personality on many topics. He provides workshops on hiring, managing for the future, and techniques to improve interpersonal communications that have a proven ROI. You can reach Dana at 310-453-6556, ext. 403 or by emailing him at dana@lighthouseconsulting.com. He is the co-author of the books, Cracking the Personality Code and Cracking the Business Code. To order the books, please visit www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.

We recently launched a new service called Sino-Am Leadership to help executives excel when stationed outside their home country. American managers in Asia and Asian managers in America face considerable business, personal, and leadership challenges because of the cultural differences. This unique program provides personal, one-on-one coaching. For more information visit, https://lighthouseconsulting.com/performance-management/talent-development/sino-american-management-style/.

How to Manage Difficult People: Handling the Difficult without Difficulty

By Dana Borowka – excerpt from Cracking the Personality Code

As a manager, you must deal with a wide range of personalities. Thanks to proper hiring assessments, most of your direct reports should be productive and biz tug of warreasonable workers. But what about those who slip through the process, employees you inherit, or co-workers who are extremely difficult to work with or even be around? You know the types. These are the folks focused on their own agenda and needs, who cause conflicts wherever they go, and command a great deal of a manager’s time and attention. The difficult ones don’t get diseases like ulcers and heart attacks. They seem to induce them in others!

During our workshops on managing difficult people, we always express a debt of gratitude to a pair of doctors named Rick: Rick Brinkman and Rick Kirschner, authors of two great reads, Dealing with People You Can’t Stand and their latest, Dealing with Difficult People. They became friends while med-students, but their friendship blossomed when a surgeon from an area hospital became their mentor. With his guidance and encouragement, they studied health from an attitudinal point of view. In 1982, a mental-health organization asked the two Ricks to create a program on how to deal with difficult people. That marked the official beginning of a research project that has continued for more than twenty-five years.

Another author who is an important voice on this subject is psychologist Jay Carter, whose book Nasty People calls upon decades of practice and observation to offer proven strategies for avoiding toxic relationships (www.jaycarter.net). With psychology that makes sense, Dr. Carter offers tremendous insights on how to protect your sanity and confront emotional bullies. The process begins by identifying the “invalidators” in your work life. (The following excerpts are used with permission of the author and the McGraw-Hill Companies, publishers of Nasty People by Dr. Jay Carter, copyright 2003—second edition.)

Taking on Invalidation

In the words of Leo Buscaglia, “Only the weak are cruel. Gentleness can only be expected from the strong.” Have you been hurt, betrayed, or degraded by bizman cut offa difficult employee, co-worker, or boss? Whoever that person is, according to Dr. Carter, he or she is an invalidator who feeds upon your self-esteem, mental anguish, and unhappiness. But you can stop this cycle of abuse and put an end to sneak attacks, without stooping to their level. “Invalidation is a general term for a person injuring or trying to injure another,” says Dr. Carter. “An invalidation can range anywhere from a shot in the back to a ‘tsk, tsk.’ A rolling of the eyeballs can be an invalidation and so can a punch in the nose. It is usually the sneaky verbal or non-verbal invalidations that cause the most damage. A punch in the nose is obvious, and it heals. However, an attack on self esteem … at the right moment … and in the right way … can last a lifetime.”

The major reason invalidation occurs so often in the workplace is that it seems to work. The sneaky invalidation works because a punch in the nose is obvious and will get the troublemaker terminated (if not sued), while the mental attack may go unnoticed and unpunished, while it injures its victim.

According to Dr. Carter, invalidation is propagated in our society by about 20 percent of the population. “About 1 percent intentionally spread this misery, while the other 19 percent do it unconsciously. Invalidation can be found to greater and lesser degrees in various societies. Happier individuals evolve from societies in which invalidation is at a minimum. Unfortunately, in the US, it seems to be part of the American way.”

For a manager it may be problematic to identify invalidation, as the methods used to invalidate are often very subtle. When people invalidate, it is because they feel inferior to others. To compensate, they attack and undermine the self-esteem of others. Invalidating behavior ranges from very obvious to covert. Where does invalidation come from? People express invalidating behavior either consciously or subconsciously. Most people slip into this behavior subconsciously by reacting to subtle triggers in the environment and have learned this from others, like a family member. This behavior is passed from one person to another through being invalidated.

Common Methods of Invalidation

Forewarned is forearmed, as the old adage goes. Be on the watch for these low blows and cheap shots.big biz feet

Building You Up, Cutting You Down
When an individual showers you with compliments, then tears you apart.

Cutting You Off
When someone cuts off communication in the middle. He or she may ask you a question, then cuts you off or walks off before you are finished answering.

Projection
A psychological mechanism, where the individual takes his/her own feelings and puts the responsibility for them onto someone else, as if these feelings originated within the other person.

Generalization
When a person uses generalizations that are simply exaggerations of small truths. The more truth there is in the generalization, the more it can be exaggerated. “Always” and “never” are commonly used in generalizations.

Double Message
This method uses opposite messages to confuse and put down the other person.

The Double Bind
When you are set up in a situation where you are “damned if you do and damned if you don’t.”

How to Handle Invalidation

When you recognize the tactics of the difficult people, then you can have a counter strategy. Here are a few tips and techniques to counter their assaults.

bizman in target“Just the Facts”
Sticking to and firmly repeating the facts is a powerful way to destroy invalidation.

“What Did You Say?”
Asking the person to repeat the invalidation will, at times, defuse it, especially if it was a sneak attack.

Tell It Like It Is
Most invalidations are insinuations, voice inflections, and double messages that can be handled with the simple truth. Tell the truth by looking at your feelings. “I feel angry when you speak to me in that manner.”

Don’t Let It Slide
Invalidation only gets worse as time goes on. It’s important to talk about it. Exploring the intent is helpful to reduce invalidation, by asking, “When you say that, what are you really trying to say?”

Maintain Boundaries
Saying no, putting down limits, and describing what you can do is helpful when dealing with someone who is using pressure, demands, or manipulation to get what they want.

Five Other Types of Difficult Behavior

Invalidators are not the only challenge for a manager. At best, the following types of difficult behavior make work life tense, stressful and unpleasant. At worst, they can keep a manager from achieving important goals. We all know what happens to managers who don’t achieve their goals. But through knowledge and practice, you can obtain the power to bring out the best behavior in direct reports and co-workers who are at their worst.

According to Drs. Brinkman and Kirschner, there are many different types of difficult behavior at work, and behavior can change from one type to another as conditions change. You have the advantage when you are pre-pared with a variety of responses when dealing with any particular difficult behavior. Here are five types of difficult behavior and suggestions on how to deal with them. (The following excerpts are used with permission of the authors and the McGraw-Hill Companies, publishers of Dealing With Difficult People: 24 Lessons for Bringing Out the Best in Everyone by Dr. Rick Brinkman and Dr. Rick Kirschner, copyright 2003—first edition.)

The Authority: “I know it all”

A person behaving this way has a low tolerance for correction or contradiction, and easily blames others when things go wrong. According to Brinkman and Kirschner, here is your goal: To open their mind to new ideas and information.authority figure

How to handle them:

  1. Be prepared and know the flaws and shortcomings of your ideas. Be able to explain them in a brief, precise, and clear manner.
  2. Use active listening to help the person know you are listening to them, and be sure to show interest and respect.
  3. Acknowledge and address the problems and doubts, by paraphrasing the concern back with information to address it.
  4. Present your ideas indirectly by using softening words (like, “perhaps,” “what do you suppose”) to sound hypothetical rather than challenging. Use plural pronouns like “we” or “us” to convey that you are both on the same team. Ask questions to help the individual to accept new information, like, “I was wondering, what do you sup-pose would happen if we were to try [new information] in certain areas?”
  5. Use them as resources by letting them know that you recognize them as an expert and are willing to learn from them. They will spend more time teaching you than obstructing you.

The Fake: “Look at me!”

Faking involves acting or pretending that we’re something we’re not for approval, attention and/or importance. In the business world, this behavior can be theater stageespecially destructive when people act as experts and give out misinformation and opinions as facts.

People behaving this way combine a small amount of information with exaggeration and generalizations to get attention. When confronted, these individuals can get very aggressive to maintain their facade. This is driven by a strong people focus since people are the source of the attention and appreciation they crave.

Here are some recommendations on how to handle them:

  1. Give them a little attention by: Repeating back their comments with enthusiasm; Acknowledging their positive intent rather than wasting time debating their content. Example: “Thanks for contributing to this discussion.” You don’t have to agree with their remarks to provide some attention or positive projection.
  2. Ask some revealing questions to clarify for specifics. Fakes usually talk in generalizations, so ask questions to get specifics. For example, when they use “always,” ask “when specifically?” Ask your questions with curiosity and respect, and not to embarrass the individual.
  3. Tell it like it is and redirect the conversation back to reality and facts. Speak about the situation or problem from your point of view and use “I” statements to keep your remarks as non-threatening as possible.
  4. Give them a break to reduce the chance of them becoming defensive. When providing evidence, you can say, “But maybe you haven’t heard of this yet…” You can also act as if their misinformation has reminded you of your subject and express appreciation for their efforts.
  5. Notice when the individual is doing something right and give credit where credit is due.

The No Person: “No! No! No!!!”

The “no person” constantly says no to everything and strives to defeat ideas and fights for despair and hopelessness. (This person is the close cousin of the “no, but” person.)pig fly

Kirschner and Brinkman advise that you handle them like this:

  1. Go with the flow. Allow the individual to be as negative as they want to be. Don’t try to convince them that things are not so bad. That will only motivate them to convince you that things are even worse.
  2. Use them as a detector for potential problems and discovering fatal flaws in a project or situation.
  3. Give them time. “No people” tend to operate in a different time reality than other people. The more you push them to make a decision, the more they will dig in their heels.
  4. Be realistic by acknowledging the flaws or problems, and invite them to help you in finding a solution.
  5. Acknowledge their positive intent by acting as if the negative feedback is meant to be helpful. Appreciate them for having high standards, being willing to speak up, and being concerned about details. When a successful project is completed, remember to include them in the celebration.

The Whiner: “Oh, woe is me!”

This person feels helpless and overwhelmed by an unfair world. They set their standard at perfection and nothing measures up to it. They constantly rain cloudscomplain about everything and search out an audience to listen to their tale of woe.

Kirschner and Brinkman offer these suggestions for dealing with whiners:

  1. Do’s and Don’ts:

• Don’t agree with them. That just encourages them to continue complaining.
• Don’t disagree with them, as they’ll feel the need to repeat their woes.
• Don’t try to solve their problems—you can’t.
• Do have patience with their unrealistic standards and endless negativity.
• Do have compassion for them as their lives seem to be beyond their control.
• Do have commitment to the process of getting them to focus on solutions.

2. Listen for and write down the main points in their complaints. This helps you to clarify the situation to prepare for the last step of this process.

3. Interrupt and be specific by asking clarification questions.

4. Whiners often complain in cascading generalizations and don’t stand still with any one problem long enough to even start problem solving. It’s important to stop them and get specific.

5. Shift the focus to solutions. As you get specific about each complaint, ask them, “What do you want?” They may not know, in which case tell them to make something up. Or if they do know, what is it?

6. Others may be unrealistic in their solutions, so help them be more practical by telling them like it is and saying, “Based on these facts, what do you want?”

7. Involve them in the problem solving process by having them track and document the problem in writing, and request solutions and recommendations for the problem. This helps them to see that problems can be solved.

8. If these steps have not created even a minor change with the individual, then you must politely but firmly draw the line. To draw the line:

• Each time the person begins to complain, you must take charge of the situation and bring it assertively to a close, by standing up and walking to the door.
• Say calmly, “Since your complaints seem to have no solutions, talking about them isn’t going to accomplish anything. If you happen to think of any solutions, please let me know.”
• Do not allow them to draw you back into their cycle of complaining. Simply repeat the same statement over and over.

The Yes Person: “I just can’t say no!”

This individual constantly tries to please others and avoid confrontation by saying yes to everyone. They have trouble thinking things through and consistently overextend themselves. They react to the latest requests and demands, fail to follow through, and end up feeling resentful towards others.

Kirschner and Brinkman offer these suggestions on how to handle them:Juggling

1. Make it safe to discuss anger and fear in a calm manner. The key to maintaining safety is using active listening and verbal reassurance.

2. Talk honestly without getting defensive. Ask them questions to clarify and express your appreciation for their honesty, like, “Please help me to understand what happened last week. What stopped you from having the information on time? Did you ask anyone for help?”

3. Help them learn to plan. This is an opportunity to change and learn how to keep commitments.

• Start with stating the consequence of breaking one’s promises. Example: “One of the most important parts of being a team is knowing that my team can count on me and I can count on my team. Just think how it would affect our ability to be a team and work together if we couldn’t keep our commitments to each other.”
• Help them to look at different options and make changes. Ask questions like, “What got in the way and what could have been done differently? How else could the situation have been handled?” Example: “Instead of saying yes right away when someone asks you to do something, perhaps you can train yourself to say, ‘Let me look at my schedule and get back to you.’”
• Help the individual focus on specific action steps to accomplish the task.

4. Ensure commitment by:

• Seeking a deeper level of commitment by asking for their “word of honor.”
• Asking them to summarize their commitment by having them tell you what they will do. Example: “I want to make sure that you and I both understand how this will be done. Could you describe to me what you will do and when?”
• Having them write it down, which will make the information easier to remember.
• Being very clear about the deadlines and describing negative consequences in terms of how a broken commitment will affect others. Example: “If this doesn’t get completed, how do you think that is going to impact those who are depending on you?”
• Keeping in touch to help the person overcome any obstacles and ensure follow through.

5. Strengthen the relationship by acknowledging when the individual is honest about their doubts and concerns; dealing with broken promises with great care; and making an event out of every completed commitment.

How to deal with broken promises:

• Tell them what they did by specifically describing the facts of the situation, but not your opinion of the situation. Example: “You made a commitment to finish this project.”
• Explain how others were affected in a factual manner. Tell them how you feel about it. Don’t exaggerate, but be honest. Example: “Quite honestly, I’m disappointed and frustrated over this.”
• Project positive intent, like, “I know you care about doing great work and you are capable of doing what you say.”
• Tell them, “That’s not like you,” even if it is. People will strive to fulfill positive projections.
• Ask them what they learned from the experience and how they would handle it differently. This helps to change negative situations into learning experiences.

You Are in Control of You

Managers are influential, but the only person you can control is you. So keep a positive attitude about dealing with negative people. As Betty Sachelli put it, all in one boat“Two thoughts cannot occupy the mind at the same time, so the choice is ours as to whether our thoughts will be constructive or destructive.”

Difficult employees are a fact of life. They blame, intimidate, whine, run away, or explode without notice. The more you try to work with them, the more they seem to work to disrupt your plans. But there’s no reason to let difficult employees get in the way of your performance in the workplace. With the help of these effective approaches to understanding and circumventing disruptive and annoying behavior, you can get past the roadblocks posed by difficult people in the workplace.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2015 This information contained in this article is not meant to be a substitute for professional counseling.

Inspiration and Techniques for Building Championship-Level Performance – Lighthouse clients have one thing in common – all are committed to boosting the performance of their organizations. So, we are pleased to introduce our clients and friends to Boaz Rauchwerger — speaker, trainer, author and consultant. We highly recommend Boaz to you. Ask him to deliver one of his inspirational programs at your next executive retreat or strategic planning session.

One of our favorite Boaz programs is “Playing Like a Championship Team Every Day”. It helps you build on the strengths of everyone’s individual differences. This program helps you discover five steps to get everyone to join the building crew and resign from the wrecking crew. This is a very powerful and inspirational program that receives rave reviews every time.

• Master five techniques to inspire others to perform like champions
• Six recognition techniques including the powerful “good finder” program
• Learn four ways that your team can gain a competitive advantage
• Identify the three prerequisites for maximizing the team’s results
• Learn the two forms of keeping a daily score so everyone wins

Who is Boaz? Over a 30-year span, Boaz, author of The Tiberias Transformation – How To Change Your Life In Less Than 8 Minutes A Day, has conducted thousands of seminars internationally on goal setting and high achievement. He has taught over half a million people how to supercharge their lives, their careers and how to add Power to their goals. His innovative program, for individuals and corporations, is a simple and highly effective process for high achievement. He was voted Speaker of the Year by Vistage, an international organization of CEOs and business owners. How to Contact Boaz – Want more information on Boaz’s Power Program, including “Playing Like a Championship Team Every Day”? Just click here and we’ll be in touch.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.

We recently launched a new service called Sino-Am Leadership to help executives excel when stationed outside their home country. American managers in Asia and Asian managers in America face considerable business, personal, and leadership challenges because of the cultural differences. This unique program provides personal, one-on-one coaching. For more information visit, https://lighthouseconsulting.com/performance-management/talent-development/sino-american-management-style/.

To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code”, please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

What It Takes To Manage Up & Manage Down: Five Key Points for Management

By Dana Borowka, MA – Excerpt from the book, Cracking the Business Code

We often get inquiries from companies wanting to know what it takes to manage up and manage down in order to:

• Improve relationships, communications, efficiency, and productivity
• Raise the bar on reducing waste
• Increase the flow of ideas for better work flow
• Enhance customer interaction and product or service design and improvement.

So, we developed a workshop titled, Cracking The Personality Code: Managing Up and Managing Down – Communication Opportunity of a Life Time! We thought we’d share some key points on this huge topic:

  1. Change is in the Air. Teams should consider the following quote from Albert Einstein: “The significant problems we have today cannot be solved at the same level of thinking MC900187801[1]with which we created them.” We need to be receptive to consider how we have done things in the past and when things need to change in order to stay current. Remember the Rolodex cards? Even the good old fashioned light pole is being changed out for the more modern version that does not pollute, uses solar electricity, notifies central head quarters through a wireless device when it needs service, and is quicker and less expensive to install.
  2. A Strategy with Stress. Each team member needs to deal with one key element of miscommunication… stress! If we are just reacting without a strategy or a tactic to execute then we are doing no better than running in circles. Stress or “fear” can cause us to shut down and reduce our capacity to listen. An excellent team exercise to understand how stress manifests within the work environment is to have the team members draw a picture of what each person feels they look like when under stress and write out some key attributes when staff members are under pressure and when they are feeling relaxed. Here are some questions to facilitate a discussion: How do your team members manage stress? Do your team members support each other when under pressure? What would be helpful when under stress?
  3. Be Like an Ostrich. The old tale that ostriches bury their head in the sand just isn’t true. What they are really doing is resting their heads on the ground which allows them to pick up on vibrations so if a predator is near by they can protect themselves. Ostriches are actually excellent listeners! We all need to be like an ostrich and become outstanding listeners. One way to develop your listening skills is to practice active listening where you paraphrase what you think the other person is saying to you.
  4. Get to Know Who You are Dealing With. List out those you consider to be “A” players and identify three key traits. Then do the same for “B” and “C” players. Look for commonalities and develop a strategy for how to approach each person in order to communicate in a way that is most effective for everyone.
  5. Create a Communications Plan. Here is a team exercise to focus on communication – briefly answer the following questions:

a. How do you listen… if at all?
b. What are three things that haven’t worked for you when communicating in the past?
c. What are three things that have worked?
d. What would you like your team members to do that they aren’t doing?
e. What are some baby steps to improve your listening and communication style?

MC900385430[1]Communication and empathy are crucial to developing a successful interpersonal relationship. The more you reach out with a plan in mind that is based on listening and openness, the more ideas will flow to you on how to best manage up and manage down.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2015

Dana Borowka, MA, CEO of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC and his organization constantly remain focused on their mission statement – “To bring effective insight to your organization”. They do this through the use of in-depth work style assessments to raise the hiring bar so companies select the right people to reduce hiring and management errors. They also have a full service consulting division that provides domestic and international interpersonal coaching, executive onboarding, leadership training, global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training, operational productivity improvement, 360s and employee surveys as well as a variety of workshops. Dana has over 25 years of business consulting experience and is a nationally renowned speaker, radio and TV personality on many topics. He provides workshops on hiring, managing for the future, and techniques to improve interpersonal communications that have a proven ROI. You can reach Dana at 310-453-6556, ext. 403 or by emailing him at dana@lighthouseconsulting.com.  He is the co-author of the books, “Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code”. To order the books, please visit www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Inspiration and Techniques for Building Championship-Level Performance – Lighthouse clients have one thing in common – all are committed to boosting the performance of their organizations. So, we are pleased to introduce our clients and friends to Boaz Rauchwerger — speaker, trainer, author and consultant. We highly recommend Boaz to you. Ask him to deliver one of his inspirational programs at your next executive retreat or strategic planning session.

One of our favorite Boaz programs is “Playing Like a Championship Team Every Day”. It helps you build on the strengths of everyone’s individual differences. This program helps you discover five steps to get everyone to join the building crew and resign from the wrecking crew. This is a very powerful and inspirational program that receives rave reviews every time.

• Master five techniques to inspire others to perform like champions
• Six recognition techniques including the powerful “good finder” program
• Learn four ways that your team can gain a competitive advantage
• Identify the three prerequisites for maximizing the team’s results
• Learn the two forms of keeping a daily score so everyone wins

Who is Boaz? Over a 30-year span, Boaz, author of The Tiberias Transformation – How To Change Your Life In Less Than 8 Minutes A Day, has conducted thousands of seminars internationally on goal setting and high achievement. He has taught over half a million people how to supercharge their lives, their careers and how to add Power to their goals. His innovative program, for individuals and corporations, is a simple and highly effective process for high achievement. He was voted Speaker of the Year by Vistage, an international organization of CEOs and business owners. How to Contact Boaz – Want more information on Boaz’s Power Program, including “Playing Like a Championship Team Every Day”? Just click here and we’ll be in touch.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.

We recently launched a new service called Sino-Am Leadership to help executives excel when stationed outside their home country. American managers in Asia and Asian managers in America face considerable business, personal, and leadership challenges because of the cultural differences. This unique program provides personal, one-on-one coaching. For more information visit, https://lighthouseconsulting.com/performance-management/talent-development/sino-american-management-style/ .

To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code” please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

 

Connected Managing by Personality Traits

By Dana & Ellen Borowka, excerpt from Cracking the Personality Code

“Watch your words: they become your thoughts.
Watch your thoughts: they become your actions.
Watch your actions: they become your habits.
Watch your habits: they become your destiny.”
∼ Frank Outlaw

Personality tests not only help when hiring, they just might be a manager’s best tool to connect with employees. You can manage the hard way or the easy way, the choice is up to you. The hard way is to be the “my way or the highway” type of boss. You know the kind, always forcing workers to do things in a Man going upway that isn’t natural for them. Wouldn’t it be better to use your understanding of personality traits to tap into the natural flow so you can get the best out of your people? Of course, knowing your employees, understanding their concerns, and developing connected relationships with them should be the normal procedure for all managers.

What is the payoff to a manager for developing connected relationships with employees using personality assessments? Here are three good benefits. First, it enables the manager to better anticipate what roadblocks might occur with a worker, and what to try to reduce this resistance. Second, understanding where employees are coming from will help you plan out how much participation you need from them and will give some clues as to how change should be communicated to them. Third, creating connected relationships builds commitment and loyalty.

Take the Connected Leader Test

How connected are you as a manager? To find out, we asked our colleague Dr. Bruce Heller, an industrial psychologist with twenty years experience and author of The Prodigal Executive–How to Coach Executives Too Painful to Keep, Too Valuable to Fire, to help us design a quick connected leader self-test. For each of the ten questions, choose the response that best matches your situation. Then give yourself the corresponding point value for each question. Total up your score and look to the end of the test for how to interpret your score.

Connected Leader Questions

Scoring instructions:

Don’t know = 1 point, Never = 2 points, Seldom = 3 points, Often = 4 points, Always = 5 points

1. Do you get personally involved with co-workers, colleagues, peers, and others?
2. Do you believe that your role as a leader is to serve your direct reports?
3. Do you feel your employees are motivated to help you achieve your goals?
4. How often do you acknowledge a special occasion of a direct report?team global
5. Do you reflect upon the potential impact you make on direct reports?
6. Do you spend time thinking about meeting the needs of others
7. Do you consider yourself a sensitive leader?
8. In your family, did your parents spend time listening and reflecting on an emotional level?
9. Do you think your peers and direct reports consider you a sensitive leader?
10. Do you keep a journal of your interactions and conversations?

Your Total

Scoring

This self-test helps you identify what level of connected leader you are. Research has shown that leaders who are able to attend and connect with their employees are more successful. This is because connection creates a depth of relationship that translates into improved productivity, less turnover, and a more engaged work force.

Here are the breakdowns for your scoring. If you scored:

0-14 You are disconnected from the people who make up your organization. To become more connected you may need to hire an executive coach.

15-26 Your connections are frail and therefore you could benefit from taking more time to think about others and find ways to connect with them. Sharing something about yourself will be effective. Also, begin to keep a journal of your interactions. Think about ways you can become more connected to people in your organization.

27-36 You are a connected leader. This means that you connect with your team and work towards building relationships. However, you could benefit from being even more connected by spending time walking around and speaking to people and especially begin to share with people something about you personally. This can mean a hobby or an interest.

36-50 You are deeply connected as a leader. You have an ability to think about ways to communicate and be sensitive to the needs of the people in your organization. Therefore, people want to work for you and you have a loyal following.

How to Get Connected

It’s been said there is a significant difference between hearing someone speak to you and really listening to what they say. Most managers consider themselves to be good listeners. But is that really the case?

Being a connected manager requires that you suspend judgment of your subordinates’ actions or reactions while you try to understand them. Personality assessments provide a great deal of clues. Sometimes, you will need to read between the lines of what they say. Next comes gentle questioning and probing to clarify what is going on. The goal is to understand and not to judge.

listening earFor most managers, this does not come naturally. These tips will help you become a better listener and a more connected leader.

  1. Practice active listening. An active listener is ready and willing to really hear what the other person has to say. When you actively listen, you pay close attention to the speaker and don’t just wait until they get done talking, or worse yet, interrupt them. Paraphrase back to the person to check that you fully understand what is being said.
  2. Enter the listening zone. When a subordinate approaches you to discuss something, go into listening mode. Do what it takes to minimize distractions, look the speaker in the eye, and make a decision in your head to listen. If you know their personality type, then think what their style of communication is.
  3. Seek to understand first. Pay close attention to what the subordinate is saying, both the words and the feeling behind them. Watch the speaker’s body language. Instead of interrupting if you have a question or comment, write it down so you can remember it for later.
  4. Show empathy. Empathy—the ability to know and feel what others experience—is the foundation of being a connected leader. Managers in industries ranging from healthcare to high-tech are realizing benefits to their team’s productivity when they show empathy. The old adage applies: “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
  5. Hold your reactions. Have you ever seen someone react negatively to what you say without saying a word? Even if you disagree with the subordinate, do not react negatively by shaking your head or putting on a big frown. Instead give positive cues like smiling, maintaining eye con-tact, leaning toward the speaker, taking notes, and even making those little positive “right” and “go on” statements. When they are finished, take a breath and then weigh in with your feedback.

We all want to be understood. Employee buy-in comes when a manager is able to listen attentively, understand them as people, and lead naturally.

People Do Things for Their Own Reasons

A book we recommend is Managing People: What’s Personality Got to Do With It by Carol Ritberger, Ph.D. (www.ritberger.com). She surmises that success in life is significantly, if not totally, dependent upon our ability to manage.

We manage on the job, we manage in our governmental and educational institutions, and we manage in our personal lives. According to Dr. Ritberger, successful managers are those who understand what needs to be accomplished, who communicate with those who are supposed to get it done and achieve a desired result through their efforts.

“In trying to understand human behavior, there’s a basic principle that applies to all our actions: People do things for their reasons and not ours,” says Dr. Ritberger. “Another way to say it is: Other people see things, respond and react in different ways. They’ll usually do what they think will offer them the greatest reward for their efforts.”

What this means, continues Dr. Ritberger, is that no one in a position of power can motivate others to work unless they understand which motivation factors produce the results they seek. “Sure, people will make a halfhearted effort if they’re threatened, but all this does is produce marginal results, and it also ends up creating frustration, resentment, rebellious behavior, and power struggles,” she says.piece of pie

According to Dr. Ritberger, a good manager knows that people need to feel accepted for who they are, long to be recognized for their contributions, and want to enjoy themselves when interacting with their peers or superiors. A wise supervisor remembers the importance of the individual and knows that when folks feel good about themselves, they’ll naturally reach higher standards in their performance and be motivated for their reasons and not yours. An intelligent person uses this information to help others become more productive and effective in what they do.

Dr. Ritberger believes that as you seek to understand more about personality, it’s helpful to keep these three important factors in mind:

  1. People want to fit in, and as a result will take on what they perceive to be the behavior norm for their environment, even if it isn’t in alignment with their personality boundaries.
  2. It’s human nature to judge people based on first impressions that may not reflect the true nature of their personalities.
  3. There’s a natural tendency to compare other people’s behavior with our own to determine whether their personality is compatible with ours. “However, if you understand that personality is more than what you see on the surface, then you’ll have the opportunity to really get to know new acquaintances and discover their natural talents,” says Dr. Ritberger. “You may realize that someone you misread initially is exactly who you’ve been seeking for a job, or is most compatible in a social relationship. You might even find yourself more appreciative of the differences in people because you’ll recognize that their strengths are your weaknesses, and how those variations offer the greatest opportunity to create a dynamic team of self-motivated people.”

How to Understand Yourself

Before you use personality assessments to manage others, you should also use them to better understand yourself. Teamwork is about how people work with each other, and personality types play a big role in this. The first step is to know yourself. Here are some thoughts to help you as a manager with that process.

Have you ever looked carefully at a seed? It’s really amazing to see what is in a little seed, and that may help us to learn more about what is inside of us. For in some ways, we are much like the seed and its growth process.

A seed is made of an embryo, that is, a baby plant that has all it needs to grow, develop, and blossom into what it was created to be. The embryo has the materials to develop its leaves, stems, and roots to gather needed nutriments from water, light, minerals, and such to produce food and pro-vide support for itself. That’s what we’re like when we’re born. We have all we need to be who we were created to be—all the unique qualities, talents and knowledge that is needed in the world.

The Seed and the Pod

Now the seed has another part that it needs for its growth, and that’s its seed covering or pod. The pod provides protection, support, and nutrition to the seed during the growth process. It provides food for the seed until it can produce food on its own, and protects it from harsh elements in the environment. pea podWe also have something similar to the pod in our lives to help protect our seed from harm and support it during our growth process. We tend to look at the seed and pod in much like our true and false selves. The true or real self, like the seed, is the life-giving core of our being. The real self holds all the beauty and light of whom we are—it is the soul of the individual. The true self also has our entire real feelings and thoughts, feelings, and thoughts that may not be acceptable to those around us.

This is where the pod or our false self enters the scene. Like the pod, the false self protects and hides the real self from harsh elements of the environment. The false self responds to the demands, beliefs and possible abuse from our parents or caretakers, family, siblings, peers and other places and people that impact us as we grow. The false self takes on the mistaken beliefs, misguided directions, and sometimes harsh treatment we experience as we are growing up so our true self is never touched. The false self or pod becomes our mask, our facade to the outside world, to conceal and defend our true self, our little seed.

The Pod within Us

The pod, as we become older, begins to be written on by all the things we are told: all our experiences—bad and good—and all the wounds we gather throughout our life. Our pod may have written on it that we are worthless or bad or stupid. We may believe that we are good at certain things, but bad at other things like math or communication. We may think we should not show anger, fear, or pain to others. We may believe that people are not to be trusted or that confrontation is bad. There are many beliefs and ideas that our pod or false self takes in and learns from others. Some might not like the false self, because they think it keeps them from their seed. Actually, though, the pod has kept our seed safe until the time is right for the growth process. Once again, the seed’s growth process can help us to understand our own growth process, our discovery of ourselves.

Preparing for Growth

The seed will only grow and break through the pod when the environmental conditions are right, when there is just the right amount of warmth, moisture, growing heartand oxygen present around the seed. If the environment is too dry or has unfavorable temperatures, then the seed will not come out of its pod. This allows the plant to survive during periods when plant growth is not possible. It’s the same for us! Our seed, our real self, is wise and does not allow itself to be in an environment that cannot support it or care for it. So, the seed waits until the time is right—until we are ready and able to have the support, internally and externally, for our seed to grow. This preparation time is very important so we can begin to let go of our pod with all inscribed beliefs and thoughts that do not belong to us and never did.

Some might say they have always been ready to let go of their pod. Yet, it takes honesty and courage to face what is in our pod and to see it is not who we truly are. This means we have to see that those who gave us these beliefs or hurt us were wrong. That is not to say these people were bad, for they learned these misguided ideas from their experiences, too, and they just didn’t know any better. That’s not always easy to accept about our parents, family, or loved ones. This growth process is not easy either. It takes much work, dedication, and willingness to look at some difficult issues.

A Story of Wheat and Weeds

Now, the seed can’t just come out of its pod all at once, but it happens slowly at a gradual pace so that the growth is strong and sure. That means it’s okay to allow elements of the pod to remain around the seed until you are ready to let go of those parts. This process is like the story of a man who planted some wheat in his field. Then during the night, the man’s enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat. When the wheat began to come up through the soil so did the weeds, and the man’s servants asked him if they should gather up the weeds. The man replied, “No, because while you are gathering up the weeds, you might uproot the wheat with them. Rather, let both grow together. Then at harvest time, we will gather the weeds first, bind them together and burn them. Then we will gather the wheat into my barn.”

In the meantime, if you have an issue written on your pod, like a hot temper or fear of confrontation, you can develop healthy and healing ways to deal with the issue. Then as one grows and discovers more about their seed, the elements in the pod will naturally fade.

Self-Discovery

In the plant’s growth process, first a root comes out of the pod to test the environment and the seed begins to build its root system to support the plant. Then plant lightbulbthe seed forms its leaves and stem to come up through the soil to the sunlight. That’s what our seed does, too. First, our seed will build a foundation of who we truly are—our values, our ideas, our beliefs—to support our being and growth process. Then when the foundation is laid and our roots are firmly in the ground, we begin to break through the surface and our being begins to shine to the world. We discover who we truly are in just the right time and just the right way.

A good exercise to begin or further your awakening process is to write down on a piece of paper a list of all that is within your seed and what is written on your pod. You might want to draw and write about these qualities in depth. Look at where the elements of your pod came from, where you learned them, and what triggers these in you. You could also make a collage about your seed and pod using pictures, words, and sentences from magazines and newspapers to get a full picture of your growth process.

Everyone Is Unique

It’s important to recognize and appreciate our unique qualities. It takes effort and persistence to travel through this process, but remember your seed and pod have all they need to do the work. All that is required is already within you, and that’s pretty amazing—just like the plant’s little seed.

Appreciating Personality Diversity

Now that you understand your own personality better, take a look at those who work for you. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone who worked for us had the exact same personalities that we do? No, it would not.

The most effective managers appreciate the diversity of their subordinates’ personalities. That’s the view of Management Professor Scott Williams, a business school faculty member at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio.

“Personality can make communication and coordination of activities more difficult at times, but diversity has its advantages,” says Dr. Williams. “Diverse groups that give the extra effort to understand and accept each other’s personalities tend to produce higher quality decisions than groups that are either (a) homogeneous or (b) don’t manage their diversity well.”

According to Dr. Williams, appreciating the diverse personalities of the people we interact with helps us to understand why they act the way they do and howglobal team to get the most out of them. Appreciating personality diversity means respecting the strengths and limitations of each individual, and knowing how to capitalize on each individual’s strengths.

In his online newsletter LeaderLetter, Dr. Williams states that appreciating personality diversity is the opposite of dogmatically expecting everyone to view situations the way you do—no matter how successful you have been using your approach. We don’t all think alike, but that’s often a good thing.

“People with different personalities have different inherent strengths and weaknesses,” adds Dr. Williams. “For this reason, the best groups are made up of members with diverse personalities who learn to appreciate and put to use each other’s strengths. Managers should promote an appreciation for personality diversity. Discussions of personality inventories, especially when facilitated by an expert, can be an effective way to foster such appreciation.”

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2015 This information contained in this article is not meant to be a substitute for professional counseling.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.  To order our books, Cracking the Personality Code and Cracking the Business Code, please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

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