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.

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/.

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.

Six Tips for Holding Successful Meetings with Staff Members

By Helena Ferrari

The following tips for holding successful meetings will help you and help your reporting staff members to succeed when they are most empowered.staff mtg

Regular one to one employee meetings are very important. These meetings set the forum for a communication channel from management to employees, as well as from employees to management. For an employee being informed creates a feeling of involvement and increases the sense of ownership that stimulates productivity.

To maximize the time and productivity of both parties, the meeting works best when it’s organized. This time spent together can be considered a fact finding and an employee empowering session. These are the times that you can work together with your staff member to prepare them to take ownership and empower them to go out and perform.

1. What’s the objective?

The first step is to decide what are you trying to accomplish in these meetings? The goal is important to ascertain before meetings as this goal will focus the staff member towards attainment. This helps to review progress on hitting a project milestone and set the next steps for keeping the project on track.

2. What’s the ideal outcome?

This serves as a reminder especially when it comes to dealing with tough issues which you are seeking a positive result. Sometimes personal emotions take control of the real issue and as a result it is easy to lose sight of the positive goal you are seeking. This forum is a chance to recognize accomplishments, set future direction, and maintain accountability.  For example: If you’re dealing with a situation in which confusion exists, the positive outcome is a plan that provides clear direction.

3. How should the manager prepare?

You may have stimulating questions to ask, information to provide, or something to teach; you may need to give direction or spell out expectations. Sometimes you may need to prepare by reminding yourself to listen and be patient. Whatever the case, come prepared. As part of this exchange it is important to remember that coaching takes place through two-way conversations so try not to dominate the conversation.

4. What should the employee prepare?

In order to get the most out of these meetings you may send some questions or an outline in advance for the areas you would like to cover during the meeting. No matter what plan or agenda you seek for this session it is important to encourage employee participation?

5. How is this meeting valuable to the employee?

Ultimately, you want your employees to drive the one-on-one meetings. You want them to bring to the meeting the issues, challenges, opportunities and ideas to discuss. In essence, the meeting is a two-way street as the employee’s role is to take responsibility; yours is to provide support and add value that helps the employee perform well.

6. What follow-up should be set?

There should be action items for both the manager and staff member before completing the meeting. If the employee discusses issues or opportunities for improvement, he/she should come prepared next time with ideas for possible solutions and even changes that they have already implemented. This enables the employee to take ownership and feel empowered which in turn results in increased productivity and an improved level of persdifferent light bulbsonal responsibility. It is possible that the manager may have to assist with driving some of the exchange of ideas resulting in management action items. Both parties should agree on a list of the deliverables for which the employee and the manager are to report progress in the next meeting. Once you have agreed on the action items, communicate a going forward plan that puts the idea into action or allows the employee to bring proposals into the next meeting.

As the meeting closes, set a follow-up time to check progress. Doing this allows you to stay connected, builds in accountability for the employee, and for you as a manager and shows that you care about the outcome.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2014

Helena Ferrari, PHR Director of Human Resources has worked with many businesses globally throughout her twelve-year career as a Human Resources Professional. Through the Human Resources function’s role as a strategic business partner, Helena develops change initiatives and performance enhancing programs that improves organizations competitiveness through people. For more information, contact Helena at hferrariqp@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, 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.

‘Oh, *%@#!’ When Swear Words Fly in the Workplace

By Vistage International & Craig Weber

Profanity happens.

But, in the workplace, should it?

That’s the crux of an interesting debate that grabbed the attention of the Wall Street Journal.

We asked Vistage speaker, Craig Weber to give us his view of the impact of swearing on productivity. What he had to say may surprise you.arguing heads

“The acceptance of profanity might be costing you more than you think,” says Weber. “Since some people find it offensive, but they’re unlikely to mention that fact for fear of looking weak or wimpy, the outcome can be growing dissatisfaction and sinking commitment. That can quickly translate into lost productivity, as people get distracted and disengage.”

Indeed, permitting profanity might be hurting your bottom line.

Swearing is a great example of the challenge in creating teams today, Weber says.

“Leaders must work with people who have radically different views of what is appropriate and effective. The question becomes: ‘What context do we need to create so everyone can pull together and do good work?” he explains. “And what are the factors that can limit our ability to wholeheartedly pull everyone’s experience, skills and abilities into the business?”

Two Corporate Cultures Accept Swearing

In his consulting practice, Weber finds the acceptance of profanity often characterizes two remarkably different cultures:

1) A laid-back, casual “we’re all in this together” environment

In this setting, using profanity conveys collegiality: “We’re comfortable enough with each other that we can let down our guard. It is a sign of respect. We’re all among friends here. I can let my guard down and show you the real me.” It is understood that swear words never would be used as a verbal weapon against another person.

2) A hard-driving, aggressive environment

Here, profanity is part of the highly charged atmosphere. Swearing may be directed at employees in a derogatory or verbally punishing manner, with the implied message: “We need these words to help get the job done, to express urgency, motivate people, or let them know mistakes are unacceptable.”

While each culture has its justification (or excuse) for supporting workplace profanity, the downside is often invisible but still very real: chances are, some employees are bothered by it and others are deeply offended.

“What makes it hard to manage is its ‘undiscussability’,” explains Weber. “The fact that someone swears like a sailor is frequently ‘undiscussable,’ so feelings are buried. The frustration then comes out in the hallway. People’s commitment levels start to drop, then you, as an employer, begin to pay the price,” Weber explains.

Proactive Leaders Address Issue ‘Head On’

Weber asks the managers and executives he works with to bring issues to him for his corporate leadership consulting. “From front-line managers to very senior executives in 2 peopleFortune 100 companies, I’ve heard concerns about swearing, especially when it’s just one sign of a harsh culture that pushes people out of decision-making and problem solving,” he explains.

If swearing is accepted in your company, Weber recommends handling it proactively to see if an undercurrent of dissatisfaction with profanity is pulling the team apart. You can then make a more informed choice as to whether you want to continue to allow that sort of behavior in the workplace. But to make an informed choice, you have to understand the price you pay for the behavior in the first place.

One way to gain some practical insight is to start with a survey, since employees can answer anonymously.

Questions you might ask:

• Do you think our use of swear words is excessive or gets in the way of our ability to communicate, work together, engage problems or make decisions?

• Have you ever seen it cause a problem with customers, vendors, or anyone outside the company?

• Do you believe swearing contributes something to this company? If so, what?

• Do you find swearing, in-house, to be a plus about your job, a negative, or are you neutral?

• Would you want to change the use of profanity around here? If so, how?

The survey results would be a good start for a meeting on the subject.

A concerned leader could begin the conversation this way: “In our company, (or on our team), sometimes people swear as part of getting the job done. It’s come to my attention that others may find this offensive. So I’d like to begin a conversation about this practice.”

Questions he/she could raise:

• How can we let off steam or have tough discussions around here without resorting to words that some might find offensive?

• What’s the “upside” of swearing?

• What’s the downside? What might it be costing us in terms of lowered commitment, respect and participation?questionmark bush

• Is it worth the risk of upsetting people, or possibly letting the wrong word fly at the wrong moment?

• How can we change our culture so that everyone can contribute and not feel distracted by unnecessary profanity or language?

Putting the profanity “on the table” as an issue will show the leader’s sensitivity to it, for those employees who have felt the matter undiscussable.

If a decision is made to create a “PFZ or profanity-free zone,” Weber has suggestions for how to change this aspect of a communications style.

Breaking the Profanity Habit

If you do choose to make some changes, realize that it is not as easy as flicking a switch. Culture change takes time and effort. Like breaking any pattern of behavior, it can be difficult to learn to curb the tongue in the workplace, if it’s a full-blown habit.

“You won’t realize how strongly you’re addicted to the behavior until you try to change it,” predicts Weber. Change takes practice.

Particularly when swearing is part of a corporate culture more than it is an issue with a few employees, it’s important that the leader of the company talk about it with the staff.

The conversation could begin like this: “I realize we have culture where swearing has been accepted. For some of us, this is no problem. But it might be costing us. Let’s discuss it. I’m more interested in people who disagree with our acceptance of this language, than with those who disagree.”

“By making it discussable, it’s clearer why there should be change, and new rules, and new norms for the team,” Weber says.

man on compassMake sure those who use colorful language understand why it’s important for them to change, and how it might help them with co-workers. “They need to see the price they’ve been paying for using profanity,” explains Weber. “People want to be effective. But they often don’t see how their colorful language limits both their personal effectiveness and that of the team or business. And helping them see that is often all that is needed for them to invest in change. But they’ll never see the need if the issue is undiscussable. That is why addressing the issue head-on is key.”

Techniques that have worked for breaking the profanity habit:

Fines: Charge people $1 each time they commit an act of swearing. Let them know that you will use the collected money for a shared reward at some point.

Hand signals: Agree on a simple hand signal that will remind a worker that they’re over the profanity line. (“But using your middle-finger or crude hand-gesture as the signal doesn’t count,” Weber advises).

Rewards for change: Decide on a way that people can be acknowledged for changing this difficult habit.

Feature success stories: When team members change their language for the better, they might discover a positive outcome from their newfound ways. If they’re willing to share the story of success, let them spread the word about the value of change in a meeting, on an Intranet or via the company newsletter.

“Make sure the group understands that this is a hard habit to break, and that everyone will have to be patient with one another,” Weber says.

Revisit the issue routinely after your “anti-profanity” initiative begins. Ask people in meetings how it’s going. Send occasional emails to let the staff know that you’re paying attention to the issue, and aware of progress. When your culture has shifted to your satisfaction, reflect on the success and celebrate.

Remember: Change happens, but only with a lot more effort than profanity did.  Don’t forget to keep a sense of humor while you increase sensitivity, because the frustration of nice jobtrying to change long-standing habits can trigger the same behavior you’re trying to change:

“ $#@*&!, I just swore again!”

Copyright 2014, Vistage International, Inc. All rights reserved. This article was previously published by Vistage International, the world’s largest CEO membership organization. Learn more at www.vistage.com.

Craig Weber is a founder of The Weber Consulting Group, an alliance that helps managers, teams and executives cultivate actionable competencies for leadership, learning and change. His cogent work focuses on improving the caliber of collaboration as people engage tough, complex, non-routine challenges. He consults internationally to an eclectic wide range of clients and has worked with CEOs, executive teams and thousands of people from all levels and functions of organizations. For more information, you can contact Craig at 661.940.3309 or weberconsulting@earthlink.net.

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.

What You Said Is Not What I Heard: Generational Crosstalk & Why You Should Care

By Karen Arnold and Kevin Williams

John, age 25, text messages Jill, age 45 that he would like to make some changes to the proposal they just completed. Jill sits fuming at her desk thinking, “Who does John think he is sending me a text message to change the proposal? At least he could have had the decency to talkyes no talk to me face-to-face.” What is going on here? Generations pushing each other’s communication hot buttons. In the past – you, as a leader, may have paid little or no attention to the age span of employees working for you. With four generations in the workplace, circumstances have changed.

Some other dramatic changes we will experience are: 1) a globally aging population, 2) increased technology that will change our products and services and how we deliver them, 3) people extending their working careers, but not necessarily staying in their current positions, 4) a significant shortage of employees for the next 7-12 years. These factors add to the complexity of recruiting, retaining and motivating employees.

To better understand the communication disconnects that are occurring in your workplace it is important to recognize why each generation communicates as they do. To help facilitate this understanding, let us review each generation and what influenced them during their formative years.

Traditionalists — Born 1900 to 1945 – Traditionalists have worked longer than any of the other generations. They were influenced by the great depression, which instilled in most members of this generation the ability to live within limited means. They believe in saving for a rainy day and they also believe that you stay with an organization through person with flagthick and thin, and have extreme loyalty to those in leadership positions. Traditionalists are loyal, hardworking, financially conservative and faithful to institutions. This generation is most comfortable with face-to face communication. They are more formal in their communication style than the other three generations.

Quick tips to effectively communicate with Traditionalists – Appreciate information given to them in person. They are very motivated by clear direction given to them by their supervisor. They find emails to be an ineffective mode of communication in most instances. Leadership tips include:

• Acknowledge experience and expertise
• Provide them opportunities to mentor younger employees
• Discuss how their contributions affect the organization
• Focus on the personal touch

Baby Boomers — Born 1946 to 1964 – Influenced by the assassination of President Kennedy, Vietnam and the “Pill”, Baby Boomers have always felt compelled to change the system. Upon entering the work force, Boomers challenged the status quo. As a result, they are responsible for many of the rights and opportunities now taken for granted. peace signBecause of their large numbers, Boomers faced competition from each other for jobs. They all but invented the 60-hour workweek, figuring that long hours and hard work was one way to rise above the pack and get ahead. Their sense of who they are is deeply connected to their career achievements. They are now looking to change their careers and do something else as they move toward, what in the past has been traditional retirement age. Boomers prefer verbal over written communication; call them on the phone rather than sending an email.

Quick tips to effectively communicate with Boomers – While they are most comfortable with face-to-face communication, a phone call is usually preferable to an email. They spent much of their working life without today’s technology and still are most comfortable with face-to-face, phone calls and interoffice memos. They differ from the traditionalists in that they want to be part of the decision-making, not just given direction. Leadership tips include:

• Discuss how they’re making a difference
• Assign challenging projects
• Provide public recognition and perks for performance
• This is the “Sandwich Generation” and you need to support them with their diverse responsibilities

Generation X — Born 1965 to 1980 – Generation X’ers were influenced by divorce rates that tripled when they were children, both parents working and being the first latch key kids. They are technologically savvy, having ushered in the era of video games and personal computers during their formative years. Watching their parents being laid off after years of dedicated service instilled a sense of distrust of institutions. Because they do not expect employer loyalty, Gen X’er’s see no problem changing jobs to advance tv personprofessionally.

In contrast to the Baby Boomers’ overtime work ethic, generation X’ers believe that work is not the most important thing in their lives. They are resourceful and hardworking, but once 5 o’clock hits, they would rather pursue other interests. An X’er is very comfortable communicating with technology such as email and text messaging.
Quick tips to effectively communicate with Generation X – Are used to getting feedback quickly by communicating through emails and text messaging. They want timely communication and feedback and are equally comfortable providing the same to others. One of the common complaints we hear from Generation X’ers is they do not feel they are listened to in the workplace. Leadership tips include:

• Do not micromanage
• Give candid, timely feedback
• Encourage informal, open communication
• Use technology to communicate
• Provide learning opportunities and mentoring

Generation Y — Born 1981 to 1999 – Many in this generation are still in school, but the oldest Y’s are just now entering the work force. This generation has had access to cell phones, pagers and personal computers all their lives. They have also been influenced by watching natural disasters, riots and other tragedies occurring all over the world live and in color right from the comfort of their living room.stress person

Generation Y’s are eager to learn and enjoy questioning things. They are confident and have high self-esteem. They are collaborators and favor teamwork, having functioned in groups in school, organized sports and extracurricular activities from a very young age. They reject the notion that they have to stay within the rigid confines of a job description. Expect them to keep their career options open. Generation Y’s will think nothing of making career changes and/or building parallel careers. If you call them instead of emailing or text messaging them, you are wasting their time. These folks are excellent at multi-tasking, they are most comfortable answering an email while working on a spread sheet and listening to their IPOD.

Quick tips to effectively communicate with Generation Y – This generation has grown up with cell phones, text messaging, emails and live electronic chats. For this generation “My Space” is the modern day version of the community bulletin board or the local hang out (think of Mel’s in American Graffiti). The difference is they are talking to people across the world, not just people across the street. Generation Y’ers are most comfortable with communication they can conduct while taking on two or three other tasks simultaneously. Leadership tips include:

• Provide good supervision and structure
• Communicate clear objectives and expectations
• Emphasize their ability to make a difference
• Use technology to deliver information
• Assign work that is interesting, meaningful, and important
• Assist them with career planning

One-size-fits all communication and leadership is not effective given this new paradigm in the workplace. Both you as an employer and your employees need to understand and value the communication style of each generation. The quick tips provided will assist you effectively communicate and lead each generation.

When facilitating our “Power and Challenge of Four” workshops we are consistently impressed with the fact that most participants are moved by the influences that have shaped the other generations. We also find that participants are willing to modify their style to better meet the needs of others.

The most successful organizations find a way to let every generation be heard. They recognize that no one has all the answers. This appreciation of generational diversity allows each group to contribute and be a part of the growth of the organization. Once leadership understands this, it can help open up communication at all levels of the organization. As we said, this is the first time in American history we have had four generations in the workplace. While this presents challenges, it also presents opportunities to utilize a broad spectrum of skills, abilities, and experiences that can contribute to the overall success of an organization.

Karen Arnold and Kevin Williams, FutureDecisions® LLC, have recognized the need for dramatically different work practices to meet the unique challenges of today’s workplace. To contact Karen and Kevin, call 916-812-6033.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2014

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.

Stopping Self Sabotage: Five Steps to Better Relationships & Sales

By Jim Ponder

Why let another day go by feeling out of control just hoping to get through to the end of the day so you can do the same thing tomorrow? Why scramble for names to cold call, new prospects to solicit and other markets to tackle when you are not even staying in touch with your existing clients?man & fire

I know why, it is because this is the way you have always done things. Sure, you have heard of other ways to handle business and life. You may have even attended a seminar where you got excited and came away determined to change. Then BAM! Life hit you in the face. E-mails piled up, voice mails just kept coming, the car broke down and that deadline just got moved up. So, the notebook and other materials that you were so fired up about found their way to the bookshelf right next to the others sitting there gathering dust.

Sound familiar? Don’t be surprised, millions of us wake up and handle every day just like I described above. And you know what? Life does have a way of hitting us in the face. But, trust me; it does not have to be this way. I have lived this; I was the king of crisis mode mistaking activity with progress. My customers were not getting the attention they deserved. For that matter neither were my family or friends. After all, can’t they see that I am busy! Unfortunately they can see, but what they see is that I am too busy for them and certainly too busy to handle that recommendation they wanted to give me.

Self sabotage, it is time to stop. For me, I discovered that the relationship must come first and from that business and revenue will follow. Moving from crisis mode and self sabotage to a relational business and way of life takes effort. The good news though, is that all of us can do it and the rewards are plentiful.

Here are five tips to get you started:

1. Listen

We all learn to talk at a very young age. What we do not learn to do is listen. Start today listening more and saying less. Be there; focus 100% on what you are hearing. Put down the BlackBerry, ignore the e-mail, put the phone on silent – not vibrate, and take some notes. You will be amazed at what you learn. Your clients will tell you what they want and need – if you will listen to them.

2. Be a Trusted Ally™

Are you a needy salesperson or a trusted ally? The needy salesperson tries to sell whatever they have regardless of whether the client really needs it or if it is the best fit for them. The Trusted Ally™ will take time to understand what the clients needs are and will tailor the sales and product to them. Even, if it means passing up the sale. What! Pass up a sale – you bet, it is called trust and character.

3. Remember the 80/20 rule

Sure, you have heard this before. 80% of business comes from 20% of your customers. Guess what else? 80% of your pain comes from the bottom 20% of your customers. This bottom 20% is sucking the life out of you. They are a needy bunch and you would be far better off methodically eliminating them while adding more clients that resemble your top 20%.

4. Do your homework

I never cease to be amazed at how little most salespersons and the companies they work for know about their clients and prospects. Make a list today of your top five clients and prospects. Now do your homework and answer these questions:

♦ How do they make money?cklist men
♦ What are their top three business challenges?
♦ What charities do they support?
♦ What does your main contact at the company like to do when they are not working?

This information is the start to building your knowledge base and a relationship that goes beyond the transaction. Now, put the power of the internet to work by setting these clients and prospects up on Google Alerts – http://www.google.com/alerts. This way you will always have the latest news about them. Use your new knowledge to send thank you and congratulations cards and for discussion on your personal visits and phone calls.

5. Get help

Lastly, don’t try this alone because odds are you will fail. Make an investment of your time, effort and money in a quality training program that has a coaching component. bizwoman watering plantCoaching is what separates the wannabe’s from the successful. Just like the best athletes in the world have coaches, so do the best and most successful business people.

You can change. You can have balance back with less stress and more productivity. It is up to you.

Final Thoughts

According to Dana Borowka, CEO of Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, hiring the right people is key to future growth. If you would like additional information on hiring, please click here to read an article on this subject.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2014

Jim has over 25 years of experience in top management positions. He has been President of four companies in all phases from start up to being acquired. Jim is a seasoned entrepreneur and businessman. He is an experienced trainer, speaker, consultant and executive coach. His diverse background brings experience in strategic planning, business and brand development and strong organizational skills. Jim has worked with many companies and organizations from large to small including AFLAC, Qualcomm and ViaSat.

Jim clearly understands the issues facing businesses today. Competition has shown the need, more than ever, for companies to differentiate themselves. His background and success of building companies through relationships allows him to share his insights providing real change to companies and organizations desiring to excel. He routinely works with key executives developing short, mid and long range strategic plans for relationship, productivity and business development. To contact Jim, please give him a call at 760-888-6228 or email him at jponder@turnkeysr.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.

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

Use Feedback to Your Advantage

By Jack Canfield – Excerpt from The Success Principles: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be

Feedback is the breakfast of champions.
– Ken Blanchard & Spencer Johnson
Co-authors of The One Minute Manager

Once you begin to take action, you’ll start getting feedback about whether you’re doing the right thing. You’ll get data, advice, help, suggestions, direction, and even criticism that will help you constantly adjust and move forward while continually enhancing your knowledge, abilities, attitudes, and relationships. But asking for feedback is really only the first part of the equation. Once you receive feedback, you have to be willing to respond to it.desk people

THERE ARE TWO KINDS OF FEEDBACK

There are two kinds of feedback you might encounter – negative and positive. We tend to prefer the positive – that is, results, money, praise, a raise, a promotion, satisfied customers, awards, happiness, inner peace, intimacy, pleasure. It feels better. It tells us that we are on course, that we are doing the right thing.

We tend not to like negative feedback – lack of results, little or no money, criticism, poor evaluations, being passed over for a raise or a promotion, complaints, unhappiness, inner conflict, loneliness, pain. However, there is as much useful data in negative feedback as there is in positive feedback. It tells us that we are off course, headed in the wrong direction, doing the wrong thing. That is also valuable information.

In fact, it’s so valuable that one of the most useful projects you could undertake is to change how you feel about negative feedback. I like to refer to negative feedback as information about “improvement opportunities.” The world is telling me where and how I can improve what I am doing. Here is a place I can get better. Here is where I can correct my behavior to get even closer to what I say I want — more money, more sales, a promotion, a better relationship, better grades, or more success on the athletic field.

To reach your goals more quickly, you need to welcome, receive and embrace all the feedback that comes your way.

ON COURSE, OFF COURSE,
ON COURSE, OFF COURSE

There are many ways to respond to feedback, some of which work (they take you closer to your stated objectives), and some of which don’t (they keep you stuck or take you even further from your goals).

When I conduct trainings on the success principles, I illustrate this point by asking for a volunteer from the audience to stand at the far side of the room. The volunteer represents the goal I want to reach. My task is to walk across the room to where he is standing. If I get to where he is standing, I have successfully reached my goal.

I instruct the volunteer to act as a constant feedback-generating machine. Every time I take a step, he is to say “On course” if I am walking directly toward him and “Off course” if I am walking even the slightest bit off to either side.

Then I begin to walk very slowly toward the volunteer. Every time I take a step directly toward him, the volunteer says, “On course.” Every few steps, I purposely veer off course, and the volunteer says, “Off course.” I immediately correct my direction. Every few steps, I veer off course again and then correct again in response to his “Off course” feedback. After a lot of zigzagging, I eventually reach my goal … and give the person a hug for volunteering.

I ask the audience to tell me which the volunteer had said more often – “On course” or “Off course.” The answer is always “Off course.” And here is the interesting part. I was off course more than I was on course, and I still got there … just by continually taking action and constantly adjusting to the feedback. The same is true in life. All we have to do is to start to take action and then respond to the feedback. If we do that diligently enough and long enough, we will eventually get to our goals and achieve our dreams.

WAYS OF RESPONDING TO FEEDBACK THAT DON’T WORK

Though there are many ways you can respond to feedback, some responses simply don’t work:

  1. Caving in and quitting: As part of the seminar exercise I described above, I will repeat the process of walking toward my goal; however, in this round I will purposely veer off blindfolded bizmancourse, and when my volunteer keeps repeating “Off course” over and over, I break down and cry, “I can’t take it anymore. Life is too hard. I can’t take all this negative criticism. I quit!”  How many times have you or someone you know received negative feedback and simply caved in over it? All that does is keep you stuck in the same place. It’s easier not to cave in when you receive feedback if you remember that feedback is simply information. Think of it as correctional guidance instead of criticism. Think of the automatic pilot system on an airplane. The system is constantly telling the plane that it has gone too high, too low, too far to the right, or too far to the left. The plane just keeps correcting in response to the feedback it is receiving. It doesn’t all of a sudden freak out and break down because of the relentless flow of feedback. Stop taking feedback so personally. It is just information designed to help you adjust and get to your goal a whole lot faster.
  2. Getting mad at the source of the feedback: Once again, I will begin walking toward the other end of the room while purposely veering off course, causing the volunteer to say “Off course” over and over. This time I put one hand on my hip, stick out my chin, point my finger, and yell, “Bitch, bitch, bitch! All you ever do is criticize me! You’re so negative. Why can’t you ever say anything positive?” Think about it. How many times have you reacted with anger and hostility toward someone who was giving you feedback that was genuinely useful? All it does is push the person and the feedback away.
  3. Ignoring the feedback: For my third demonstration, imagine me putting my fingers in my ears and determinedly walking off course. The volunteer might be saying “Off course, off course,” but I can’t hear anything because my fingers are in my ears. Not listening to or ignoring the feedback is another response that doesn’t work. We all know people who tune out everyone’s point of view but their own. They are simply not interested in what other people think. They don’t want to hear anything anyone else has to say. The sad thing is, feedback could significantly transform their lives, if only they would only listen.

So, as you can see, when someone gives you feedback, there are three possible reactions that don’t work: (1) crying, falling apart, caving in, and giving up; (2) getting angry at the source of the feedback; and (3) not listening to or ignoring the feedback.

Crying and falling apart is simply ineffective. It may temporarily release whatever emotions you have built up in your system, but it takes you out of the game. It doesn’t get you anywhere. It simply immobilizes you. Not a great success strategy! Caving in and giving up doesn’t work either. It may make you feel safer and may stop the flow of “negative” feedback, but it doesn’t get you the good stuff! You can’t win in the game of life if you are not on the playing field!

Getting angry at the person giving you the feedback is equally ineffective! It just makes the source of the valuable feedback attack you back or simply go away. What good is that? It may temporarily make you feel better, but it doesn’t help you get more successful.

On the third day of my advanced seminar, when, everyone knows everybody else pretty well, I have the whole group (about 40 people) stand up, mill around, and ask as many people as possible the following question: “How do you see me limiting myself?” After doing this for 30 minutes, people sit down and record what they have heard. You’d think that this would be hard to listen to for 30 minutes, but it is such valuable feedback that people are actually grateful for the opportunity to become aware of their limiting behaviors and replace them with successful behaviors. Everyone then develops an action plan for transcending their limiting behavior.

Remember, feedback is simply information. You don’t have to take it personally. Just welcome it and use it. The most intelligent and productive response is to say, “Thank you for the feedback. Thank you for caring enough to take the time to tell me what you see and how you feel. I appreciate it.”

ASK FOR FEEDBACK

Most people will not voluntarily give you feedback. They are as uncomfortable with possible confrontation as you are. They don’t want to hurt your feelings. They are afraid of your reaction. They don’t want to risk your disapproval. So to get honest and open feedback, you are going to need to ask for it … and make it safe for the person to give it to you. In other words, don’t shoot the messenger.

A powerful question to ask family members, friends, and colleagues is “How do you see me limiting myself?” You might think that the answers would be hard to listen to, but most people find the information so valuable that they are grateful for what people tell them. Armed with this new feedback, they can create a plan of action for replacing their limiting behaviors with more effective and productive behaviors.

THE MOST VALUABLE QUESTION YOU MAY EVER LEARN

In the 1980s, a multimillionaire businessman taught me a question that radically changed the quality of my life. If the only thing you get out of reading this book is the consistent questionmkheaduse of this question in your personal and business life, it will have been worth the money and time you have invested. So what is this magical question that can improve the quality of every relationship you are in, every product you produce, every service you deliver, every meeting you conduct, every class you teach, and every transaction you enter into? Here it is:

On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate the quality of our relationship (service/product) during the last week (2 weeks/month/quarter/semester/season)?

Here are a number of variations on the same question that have served me well over the years:

On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate the meeting we just had? me as a manager? me as a parent? me as a teacher? this class? this meal? my cooking? our sex life? this deal? this book?

Any answer less than a 10 gets the follow-up question:

What would it take to make it a 10?

This is where the valuable information comes from. Knowing that a person is dissatisfied is not enough. Knowing in detail what will satisfy them gives you the information you need to do what is necessary to create a winning product, service, or relationship.

Make it a habit to end every project, meeting, class, training, consultation and installation with the two questions.

MAKE IT A WEEKLY RITUAL

I ask my wife these same two questions every Sunday night. Here is a typical scenario:

“How would you rate the quality of our relationship this past week?”
“Eight.”
“What would it take to make it a ten?”
“Put the kids to bed without me having to remind you that it’s time to do it. Come in for dinner on time or call me and tell me you are going to be late. I hate sitting here waiting and wondering. Let me finish a joke I am telling without interrupting and taking over because you think you can tell it better. Put your dirty laundry in the clothes hamper instead of in a pile on the floor.”

I also ask my assistants this question every Friday afternoon. Here is one response I received from Deborah early on in her employment:

“Six.”
“Whoa! What would it take to make it a ten?”
“We were supposed to have a meeting this week to go over my quarterly review, but it got pushed aside by other matters. It makes me feel unimportant and that you don’t care about me as much as the other people around here. I need to talk to you about a lot of things, and I feel really discounted. The other thing is that I feel that you are not using me enough. You are not delegating anything but the simple stuff to me. I want more responsibility. I want you to trust me more with the important stuff. I need more of a challenge. This job has become boring and uninteresting to me. I need more of a challenge, or I am not going to make it here.”

This was not easy to hear, but it was true and it led to two wonderful results. It helped me delegate more “important stuff” to her and thus cleared my plate, giving me more free time – and it also created a happier assistant who was able to serve me and the company better.

BE WILLING TO ASK

Most people are afraid to ask for corrective feedback because they are afraid of what they are going to hear. There is nothing to be afraid of. The truth is the truth. You are better off knowing the truth than not knowing the truth. Once you know it, you can do something about it. You cannot fix what you don’t know is broken. You cannot improve your life, your relationships, your game, or your performance without feedback.

But what’s the worst part of this avoidance approach to life? You are the only one who is not in on the secret. The other person has usually already told their spouse, their friends, their parents, their business associates, and other potential customers what they are dissatisfied with. As we discussed in Principle 1, (“Take 100% Responsibilitybizpeople & tincans
for Your Life”), most people would rather complain than take constructive action to solve their problems. The only problem is that they are complaining to the wrong person. They
should be telling you, but they are unwilling to for fear of your reaction. As a result, you are being deprived of the very thing you need to improve your relationship, your product, your service, your teaching, or your parenting. You must do two things to remedy this.

First, you must intentionally and actively solicit feedback. Ask your partner, your friends, your colleagues, your boss, your employees, your clients, your parents, your teachers, your students and your coaches. Use the question frequently. Make it a habit to always ask for corrective feedback. “What can I/we do to make this better? What would it take to make it a ten for you?”

Second, you must be grateful for the feedback. Do not get defensive. Just say, “Thank you for caring enough to share that with me!” If you are truly grateful for the feedback,
you will get a reputation for being open to feedback. Remember, feedback is a gift that helps you be more effective.

Be grateful for it.

Get your head out of the sand and ask, ask, ask! Then check in with yourself to see what fits for you, and put the useful feedback into action. Take whatever steps are
necessary to improve the situation – including changing your own behavior.

A few years ago, our company discontinued using a printer because another one offered us better service for a lower price. About 4 months later, our original printer
called and said, “I’ve noticed you haven’t used me for any printing lately. What would it take for you to start giving me your printing business again?”

I replied, “Lower prices, on-time turnaround, and pickup and delivery. If you can guarantee us those three things. I’ll give you a small portion of our printing and try you again.” Eventually, he won back most of our printing because he beat other people’s prices, picked up and delivered, finished on time, and provided more than acceptable quality. Because he asked the question “What would it take…,” he got the information he needed to ensure his ongoing success with us.

SHE ASKED HER WAY TO SUCCESS IN 3 SHORT MONTHS

One of the best-selling weight-loss books ever published was the book, Thin Thighs in 30 Days. What’s so interesting about it, though, is that it was developed solely using
feedback. The author, Wendy Stehling, worked in an advertising agency but hated her job. She wanted to start her own agency but didn’t have the money to do so. She knew
booksshe would need about $100,000, so she began asking, “What’s the quickest way to raise $100,000?”

Sell a book, said the feedback.

She decided if she wrote a book that could sell 100,000 copies in 90 days – and she made $1 per book – she would raise the $100,000 she needed. But what kind of book would 100,000 people want? “Well, what are the bestselling books in America?” she asked.

Weight loss books, said the feedback.
“Yes, but how would I distinguish myself as an expert?” she asked.
Ask other women, said the feedback.
So she went out to the marketplace and asked, “If you could lose weight in only one part of your body, what part would you choose?” The overwhelming response from women was My thighs.

“When would you want to lose it?” she asked.

Around April or May, in time for swimsuit season, said the feedback. So what did she do? She wrote a book called Thin Thighs in 30 Days and released it April 15. By June, she had her $100,000 – all because she asked people what they wanted and responded to the feedback by giving it to them.

HOW TO LOOK REALLY BRILLIANT WITH LITTLE EFFORT

Virginia Satir, the author of the classic parenting book, Peoplemaking, was probably the most successful and famous family therapist that ever lived.

During her long and illustrious career, she was hired by the Michigan State Department of Social Services to provide a proposal on how to revamp and restructure the Department of Social Services so it would serve the client population better. Sixty days later, she provided the department with a 150-page report, which they said was the most amazing piece of work they had ever seen. “This is brilliant!” they gushed. “How did you come up with all these ideas?”

She replied, “Oh, I just went out to all the social workers in your system and I asked them what it would take for the system to work better.”

LISTEN TO THE FEEDBACK

Human beings were given a left foot and a right foot to make a mistake first to the left, then to the right, left again and repeat.
– Buckminster Fuller, Engineer, inventor and philosopher

Whether we ask or not, feedback comes to us in various forms. It might come verbally from a colleague. Or it might be a letter from the government. It might be the bank refusing listening bizmenyour loan. Or it could be a special opportunity that comes your way because of a specific step you took.

Whatever it is, it’s important to listen to the feedback. Simply take a step … and listen. Take another step and listen. If you hear “Off course,” take a step in a direction you believe may be on course … and listen. Listen externally to what others may be telling you, but also listen internally to what your body, your feelings, and your instincts may be telling you.

Is your mind and body saying, “I’m happy; I like this; this is the right job for me,” or “I’m weary; I’m emotionally drained; I don’t like this as much as I thought; I don’t have a good feeling about that guy”?

Whatever feedback you get, don’t ignore the yellow alerts. Never go against your gut. If it doesn’t feel right to you, it probably isn’t.

IS ALL FEEDBACK ACCURATE?

Not all feedback is useful or accurate. You must consider the source. Some feedback is polluted by the psychological distortions of the person giving you the feedback. For example, if your drunk husband tells you, “You are a no-good bleep,” that is probably not accurate or useful feedback. The fact that your husband is drunk and angry, however, is feedback you should listen to.

LOOK FOR PATTERNS

Additionally, you should look for patterns in the feedback you get. As my friend Jack Rosenblum likes to say: “If one person tells you you’re a horse, they’re crazy. If three people tell you you’re a horse, there’s a conspiracy afoot. If ten people tell you you’re a horse, it’s time to buy a saddle.”

The point is that if several people are telling you the same thing, there is probably some truth in it. Why resist it? You may think you get to be right, but the question you have to ask yourself is “Would I rather be right or be happy? Would I rather be right or be successful?”

I have a friend who would rather be right than be happy and successful. He got mad at anyone who tried to give him feedback. “Don’t you talk to me that way, young lady.”
“Don’t tell me how to run my business. This is my business and I’ll run it the way I want to.” “I don’t give a hoot what you think.” He was a “my way or the highway” person. He wasn’t interested in anyone else’s opinion or feedback. In the process, he alienated his wife, his two daughters, his clients and all his employees. He ended up with two divorces, kids who didn’t want to speak to him and two bankrupt businesses. But he was “right.” So be it, but don’t you get caught in this trap. It is a dead-end street.

What feedback have you been receiving from your family, friends, members of the opposite sex, coworkers, boss, partners, clients, vendors and your body that you need to pay more attention to? Are there any patterns that stand out? Make a list, and next to each item, write an action step you can take to get back on course.

WHAT TO DO WHEN THE FEEDBACK TELLS YOU YOU’VE FAILED

When all indicators say you’ve had a “failure experience,” there are a number of things you can do to respond appropriately and keep moving forward:

  1. Acknowledge you did the best you could with the awareness, knowledge, and skills you had at the time.
  2. Acknowledge that you survived and that you can absolutely cope with any and all of the consequences or results.
  3. Write down everything you learned from the experience. Write all of your insights and lessons down in a file in your computer or a journal called Insights and Lessons. missing the targetRead through this file often. Ask others involved – your family, team, employees, clients, and others – what they learned. I often have my staff write “I learned that . . .” at the top of a piece of paper and then write as much, as they can think of in a 5-minute period. Then we make a list under the heading of “Ways to Do It Better Next Time.”
  4. Make sure to thank everyone for their feedback and their insights. If someone is hostile in the delivery of their feedback, remember that it is an expression of their level of fear, not your level of incompetence or unlovability. Again, just thank them for their feedback. Explaining, justifying, and blaming are all a waste of everybody’s time. Just take in the feedback, use whatever is applicable and valuable for the future, and discard the rest.
  5. Clean up any messes that have been created and deliver any communications that are necessary to complete the experience – including any apologies or regrets that are due. Do not try to hide the failure.
  6. Take some time to go back and review your successes. It’s important to remind yourself that you have had many more successes than you have had failures. You’ve done many more things right than you’ve done wrong.
  7. Regroup. Spend some time with positive loving friends, family and coworkers who can reaffirm your worth and your contribution.
  8. Refocus your vision. Incorporate the lessons learned, recommit to your original plan, or create a new plan of action, and then get on with it. Stay in the game. Keep moving toward the fulfillment of your dreams. You’re going to make a lot of mistakes along the way. Dust yourself off, get back on your horse, and keep riding.

Excerpted from The Success Principles; How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (TM) by Jack Canfield. To order your copy, visit our website www.thesuccessprinciples.com. Permission is needed from Jack Canfield to reproduce any portion provided in this excerpt from his book.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2014 

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.

What Are You Listening For?

By Paul David Walker

As a leader, what you do not hear or misinterpret can be the difference between success and failure. As a sales person, or in relationships, the same is true. Listening to what people are actually saying is the starting point of every successful interaction. Not understanding what Listening1someone is saying is like giving someone directions to your office before you know their present location.

As a CEO Coach and business advisor, I have learned many lessons about listening. I am excited to share some of those with you today. After hearing the lessons, the most important thing for you to do is practice. So I will also provide some exercises to develop your listening skills.

Listening to Tell Your Story

I found that in sales situations I tended to listen only enough to start constructing my story, or sales pitch, in my mind. I would even start taking notes, outlining my response before the client had finished talking. Worse yet, I was deciding which of our standard programs I was going to pitch. I was an excellent leadership consultant, but my sales effectiveness was weak. After listening to my sales approach, my partner suggested a three-day sales and listening course.

One of the first “don’ts” was listening to tell your story, which they explained is the first mistake of all bad listeners. Typical stories were: listening to…

  1. Develop an answer … bingo!
  2. To be right about your view.
  3. To tell your story.
  4. To judge the speaker’s story.
  5. Thinking about something else.
  6. Thinking you already know.
  7. Thinking about your next meeting.

I was guilty of many of these bad habits. The fact that I was processing in my mind while the person was speaking prevented me from hearing their entire story, and so my responses were never on target. The lesson was: don’t think while you are doing intake.

Content is Only 7% of the Story

The meeting leader then asked: once you are not processing while you are doing intake, what are you listening for? If you are listening for content only, then you are missing most of the message. Studies have shown that only seven percent of the message is in the words or content. Thirty-three percent is in the vocal tone, and the balance is non- verbal’s.

In addition, people who are talking to you are struggling to communicate something they may not fully understand themselves. They may be repeating themselves to find just the right way to say something. So, in addition to not processing, I had to learn how to listen beyond words.

Connection and Rapport

I found that if you learn to intake the entire message, and listen beyond words, your level of rapport goes up dramatically. Most people do not listen well, and so when you do, you connect with people at a deep level and they feel heard. One of my clients said, “The main reason I work with you is because you hear me.”connection

In real estate there are three things that are important: location, location and location. In leadership, selling and life, the three most important things are: rapport, rapport and rapport. If you fall out of rapport and start telling your story, you won’t be heard and worse yet, you may be distrusted. No one likes to be sold to. Establish rapport and keep it before you present your story or service.

Integrative Presence

The instructor said that the simple summary of this course is that you have to be totally present while listening and you will naturally integrate everything. After three days of the course, I had a sales call with a CEO, so I decided to practice my new approach. When I walked into the office, since I was totally present, I could see both the CEO and the SVP of HR were in a bad mood. They said to me, “How are you doing?” I told them that I was stressed after driving in LA traffic. They laughed, expecting the standard “I am great answer.” They proceeded to tell me about the events that led to their lousy mood, and we laughed together. The CEO said in jest, “So we all agree that life is crap, at least today.” We were clearly in rapport.

I then introduced myself and asked him to tell me a little bit about his situation and why he had called. I then put all my thoughts away and I felt present as I listened to his story for about ten minutes. When he seemed to be finished, I asked if there was anything else? He went on for another five minutes, and then said, “How could you help us?”

I paused and then said, as my teacher had suggested, the first thing that came into my mind, which was a summary of what I had heard instead of my solution. He was visibly shaken and said, “I had not thought of that, but you are exactly right!” I had heard something he had not fully understood. He went on to tell the HR SVP to have me talk to all his staff. When I explained that I would have to charge him, he said, “You two work it out, but I want you to hear what my team has to say. I achieved rapport, “Integrative Presence,” and heard beyond his words.

That year I won the Sales Leader of the Year Award for our Leadership Consulting firm. The lesson here is that you do not have to consciously process your answers. If you do full intake, your brain is able to synthesize and say the right things.

There is No Substitute for Practice

Remember, your thoughts block your intake. The following is an exercise you can try with a friend. As you listen to a friend try to tell you something important to them, try the following:

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As you start to develop the habit of letting go of your thinking, you will notice a sense of integrative presence in yourself, as will others. You do not have to do anything but let go of your thinking. Integrative Presence is a natural state of mind that is interrupted by your thinking. Also, do not take this, or your thoughts, too seriously.

Paul David Walker is a Senior LCS Consultant and one of the few CEO coaches who has worked with numerous Fortune 500 CEOs and their key staff members for over 25 years along with many mid-cap organizations. Some of the organizations that Paul has worked with include StarKist Foods, Von’s Grocery Stores, New York Life, Anne Klein, Rockwell International countless manufacturing, global utilities, service and consulting organizations. Paul is the founder of Genius Stone Partners, and works with domestic and international companies to improve their bottom line today and planning for the future. Paul is the author of the best selling book, Unleashing Genius and his new book, Invent Your Future – 7 Imperatives for a 21st Century. You can reach Paul at Paul@lighthouseconsulting.com.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2014 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 the books, Cracking the Personality Code and Cracking the Business Code, please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Six Ways to Improve Interpersonal Communication During Unstable & Challenging Times

By Dana & Ellen Borowka, MA

Have you ever had miscommunication with your employees or co-workers that resulted in costly errors?

[dropcaps type=”circle” color=”” background=””]I[/dropcaps]t’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?

man chessBeing 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.

Joe’s Story

To illustrate, here is the story of Joe (real example, but not his real name). Joe is a production manager for a furniture manufacturing firm, who oversees about 50 employees that work in teams of 5-10 in manufacturing cells. His primary responsibilities are meeting production quotas, and interacting with the customer service and shipping departments. The general manager became aware that these departments were encountering difficulties meeting quota and shipping schedules due to production problems in Joe’s department.

Since Joe has been with the company many years, the manager requested that we work with Joe to identify why these problems were taking place. We found that Joe’s communication style was harsh and vague with his teams. In turn, they focused on his poor communication rather than the task at hand. They would take his instructions “as is” and work on the assignment with limited information instead of asking questions to clarify the process. The results were reduced production, increased safety violations and poor workmanship.

This situation is not uncommon to most business people. Yet, Joe seemed to have a hard time accepting the problems that management was pointing out to him. In order to illustrate Joe’s growth areas, we had him take an in-depth work style/personality assessment, which identifies not only areas for an individual to improve upon, but also strengths and personality traits. We have found this to be a valuable tool in assisting employees to gain insight about themselves. When Joe reviewed the profile results, he discovered the same growth areas that the management team was focusing on. He then became more open to exploring ways to resolve the problems.

Becoming a Connected Manager

One of the first points we worked on with Joe was how to listen effectively to others. A primary cause for poor communication is poor listening skills, where the listener fails to take in all the available information, and instead relies on his or her own assumptions. Joe found that by using active listening, where one paraphrases what he or she thinks the other person is saying, that he was able to avoid this kind of miscommunication with his teams. We encouraged Joe to avoid interrupting others and to ask more questions to ensure better understanding. Effective listening ensures that both the listener and the speaker end up on the same page.

rainbow manAnother cause for ineffective communication is poor speaking skills where the speaker provides vague and incomplete or emotionally charged information to the listener. We suggested that Joe use “I” statements when speaking to his teams. By using I statements, Joe was able to take responsibility for his comments while clarifying his thoughts. An example of an “I” statement, “I feel under a great deal of pressure when you give the client a due date without checking with me first, because there may be some difficulties meeting that deadline.” “I” statements are composed of three elements: The “I” helps the speaker maintain the responsibility for his or her feelings or observations; the “when” gives a specific example for the other person; and the “because” provides the reason for why the speaker is concerned by the situation. “I” statements help the speaker to avoid being vague and accusatory with others.

Others can also interpret poor communication as a lack of respect and empathy. Joe discovered that he was unintentionally showing disrespect to his staff through his harsh communication. We suggested that Joe meet with his staff to discuss any problems and find some solutions. This created a sense of common goal – a shared need they all want and can agree upon, which encouraged teamwork rather than alienation.

The general manager and employees were very pleased by the positive results from Joe’s communication training. Customers are receiving their orders on time; accidents have decreased; workmanship has improved so production returns have decreased; and incentive bonuses were awarded to the plant. Proficient communication is not by any means the easiest thing to do. It takes practice, patience and respect, yet the benefits can be immense.

Six Tips to Better Communication

For most managers, this does not come naturally. Here is how to apply this in your world. These six tips will help you become a better listener, communicator and manager.

  1. Use in-depth work style/personality tests as communications tools. Personality testing gives the manager and employees a common language about how they like to interact. The assessments can help you train future managers on how to get the best out of the team.
  2. 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. Paraphase back to the person to check in that you fully understand what is being said.
  3. 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.
  4. 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. biz people hikingInstead of interrupting if you have a question or comment, write it down so you can remember it for later.
  5. 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.
  6. 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, and leaning toward the speaker

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. There’s an old saying, “Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress, working together is Success!” Effective communication not only saves companies money, but also increases their bottom line return.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2014

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.

Seven Imperatives To Inventing Your Company’s Future

By Paul David Walker – Excerpt from the book, Cracking the Business Code

[dropcaps type=”circle” color=”” background=””]W[/dropcaps]hile helping CEOs and executive teams at mid-sized and Fortune 500 companies throughout the years to align strategy, structure, and organizational culture, I have observed both great and unfit leaders and realized that leaders can literally invent the future of their companies and their lives. biz people with telescopeToday’s CEOs need teams with clear missions, a sense of urgency, the stillness of a master and explosive targeted actions. Like shooting rapids, there is a correct course in the currents of change; there are also those that will run you into rocks and those that will drown you and your company in the Business Industry.

Companies that succeed in today’s volatile business economy must conquer obstacles the way a championship basketball team does in a “FastBreak,” overcoming the insecurities that hold them back and responding instantly to the flow of the game of business.

Before leaders can accomplish anything, they must first understand themselves and the present reality, challenge their own thinking, communicate a well thought-out and concise strategic direction, and define a clear and actionable plan for execution. No matter how much research is done, a leader must make the final call. To make that call with confidence, a leader must know the answer or how to find the answer, and he or she must communicate clearly, simply, and concretely in a compelling manner. Only then will a team have the faith to follow and achieve the company’s objectives.

The following seven imperatives act as a roadmap for surpassing common business hurdles to achieve success and invent a well-designed future for your business or your life. These steps work for everything from building a porch on the front of your house to improving your life, creating a great company, or galvanizing a nation.

1. Knowing the Answer: The first step, of course, is to know the right answer. But more important, you have to know when you know the right answer in business or in life. It is not enough to say, after it is too late, “I knew that.” In any endeavor, there is a correct course to set. That course is based on the realities of the market, competitive analysis, and the true differentiation of the product, service, or team being evaluated. A leader must be fully present in the reality of the moment in order to succeed, rather than being attached to their thoughts and beliefs about that reality. The leader must know the difference between his ego’s hopes and fears and true reality. This involves a deep understanding of yourself and the flow of cause and effect. A leader must learn the art of “integrative presence,” which is like being “in the zone.” The future emerges from the present; the past is distorted by our beliefs, emotions, and the limits of our perceptual abilities. “Integrative presence” allows you to integrate the reality of the moment with your intention for the future; thus responding correctly to the flow of the game. Product cycles are shortening, business is becoming far more complex, and global competition requires speed and accuracy. Without the correct understanding of the present reality and how that it is emerging into the future, you cannot move with accuracy and speed. A leader must dance with the present while simultaneously carrying an intention for the future. As you do this, you know how to move.

2. Communicating a Clear, Compelling Picture of The Future State: You cannot create something you cannot conceive. Once a leader knows the answer or the right course, that leader must be able to conceive and communicate the opportunity and understand how the team can capture that opportunity. Until this team can see, feel, and hear the calling of grp of bizpeople on orangethe opportunity that present reality represents, they cannot truly follow. Without this clear picture, each team member will create his or her own picture of the future, causing friction and slowing the overall progress of the team. The leader’s presence and authentic commitment to the mission draws followers within the company and in the marketplace. The more clearly the picture of the future state is, the easier it is to create. Without a clear picture of the future in the mind of each leader, chaos will ensue.

3. Creating Total Commitment: After the team can see and feel the possibility of the future, their commitment grows.

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness concerning all acts of initiative and creation.” — Goethe

First, the leader must be fully committed to the mission and then inspire the same level of commitment in those who follow. Part of being a leader is to challenge teams to face their fears and change their habits. What prevents them from committing is one of the greatest fears of mankind: the fear of the unknown. No one likes to walk into a dark room. As leader, you have to light the future with your vision. To move forward, you must paint a picture of a new reality to give your team confidence and keep them totally engaged. The clearer and more compelling this picture of the future state becomes, the more committed the team becomes. The same is true for the marketplace and your customers.

4. Acknowledging and Responding to Present Reality: Leaders who fall short of their goals have often skipped or distorted this step. No matter how committed a team is to a mission, having the wrong starting point can make plans useless. Knowing the good, the bad, and the ugly about any situation they’re facing allows the team to build plans that are targeted and effective. The challenge here is that people hate to be wrong, and they find ways to make reality comport with their beliefs. This is the problem with the belief in “positive thinking.” It often skips this step and moves too quickly to planning and action. Pessimists, because of their negative beliefs about life, give up at this step, feeling overwhelmed and hopeless. A plan that is not grounded in reality, no matter how clear and committed the team, will lead you over a cliff. If someone were to give you directions to Chicago and thought you were in Los Angeles, when in fact you were in Miami, you would become lost no matter how good the directions. A leader and his team must honestly face their weaknesses and misconceptions to invent the future. It is best to always come back to this imperative.

5. Developing Targeted Action Plans: Having passed through the first four steps, it becomes easier to create targeted plans, which provide a roadmap that enables teams to deliver focused execution. The problem here is often that when things are not going well, leaders change the mission instead of adjusting the action plans. This means that they did bizman walking to targetnot do the work in the first four steps. If you know and are committed to the mission, you will know to change the plan, not the mission. With the right plan, a team will surpass competitors while learning about themselves. Even at the final step, there may be obstacles, doubts, and fears to overcome. Be on guard for hesitation. A leader must not falter due to the team’s fears.

6. Having the Courage to Act Quickly: When you have all of the above steps in place, your fears are less likely to interfere—but they may still prevent you from implementing the plan. Courage to confront your fears and those of the team sets a true leader apart from someone who knows the answer but lacks the courage to act and lead. Once a leader knows the answer, that leader never gives up. With shortening product cycles and limited capital, leaders must first define the markets, enter them, and create excitement. With targeted actions that everyone believes in, the leader forms FastBreak Action Teams that are infused with clarity and confidence to reach the new reality. With good marketing and branding, the marketplace will have the same courage.

7. The Stillness of a Master: In martial arts matches, it is said that a master watching a match can tell who will win as the competitors bow to each other before the match. It is the one who has the most stillness, or the most presence. In moments of stillness, the motion around you slows and you can see, feel, and understand the right course of action. With training, your body will respond. The same kind of stillness is needed as you navigate the whitewater rapids of business and the flow of cause and effect that is challenging your business. Take time to be still and reflect. As in martial arts, presence and balance are important. You must balance all these imperatives.

know the answer flowctOf course this is all easier said than done, but if a leader can take the time to follow through each of these steps, he or she can take full control of the future. Fears and doubts arise during each step; a leader must work to mitigate those fears with possibilities and a compelling picture of the future state with his or her role model.

After the Nazis had rolled over Europe, destroying great armies and cities and killing millions of people, Winston Churchill saw his army defeated at Dunkirk, his air force in tatters, and U-boats sinking his navy and blocking supply lanes. He still had the courage to say, “We will never surrender.” He said this with full knowledge that he and his family would be tortured and killed, should Hitler win. Addressing his divided government and the nation in 1940, two years before the USA joined the fight, he painted a clear and compelling picture of the mission while acknowledging reality.

“… I would say to the House, as I said to those who have joined this government: ‘I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat.’

We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I can say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival. Let that be realized; no survival for the British Empire, no survival for all that the British Empire has stood for, no survival for the urge and impulse of the ages, that mankind will move forward towards its goal. But I take up my task with buoyancy and hope. I feel sure that our cause will not be suffered to fail among men. At this time I feel entitled to claim the aid of all, and I say, ‘Come then, let us go forward together with our united strength.’

Worthwhile business missions are not this dramatic or important, but the courage and clarity represented in this moment in history is a great model for any leader. Practicing the imperatives above will make teams stronger, more confident, and more effective to enhance their companies’ performance in the marketplace. Though business leaders are not at the vortex of history, as Winston Churchill was, each leader who invents new realities in business grows the wealth of the company, the people within it, and the communities they touch.

Don’t believe me. Look back on the successes in your life and see how these imperatives drove your success. Ask yourself which of these are missing from your leadership and your organization.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2014

Paul David Walker is a Senior LCS Consultant and one of the few CEO coaches who has worked with numerous Fortune 500 CEOs and their key staff members for over 25 years along with many mid-cap organizations. Some of the organizations that Paul has worked with include StarKist Foods, Von’s Grocery Stores, New York Life, Anne Klein, Rockwell International countless manufacturing, global utilities, service, and consulting organizations. Paul is the founder of Genius Stone Partners, and works with domestic and international companies to improve their bottom line today and planning for the future. Paul is the author of the best selling book, Unleashing Genius and his new book, Invent Your Future – 7 Imperatives for a 21st Century. You can reach Paul at Paul@lighthouseconsulting.com.

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