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:

[ws_table id=”23″]

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.

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.

Narrow the Gap in Your Organization Between What We Want and What We Get

By Larry Cassidy – Excerpt from Cracking the Personality Code

[dropcaps type=”circle” color=”” background=””]J[/dropcaps]ack was in his late thirties. He had worked for large companies for fifteen years and finally decided to take what he knew and start his own business. He ran the numbers, talked to friends and advisors, and determined that with hard work he could get by in the first year, and from the second year on, do very well.

music directorIt was the “hard work” that was the problem. Not the actual work: Jack worked 12–14 hour days. The problem was that Jack only had so many hours in a day. He could not get all the work done. So he decided to hire an office assistant to take tasks off his back and free up time to go after the big bucks.

And then Jack hired a few production employees. Then a shop manager. Next a sales person. Then a bookkeeper, and of course, an office manager. As year #2 rolled on, Jack looked up and he had a—a—a company. A real company, with real people. Eight employees, soon ten, not long until twenty or even thirty.

The more employees, the more variety. Of course, Jack wanted different skills to match up with the different challenges faced by the firm. The problem to which Jack awoke at the dawn of year #3 was two-fold: employees who varied from what he wanted in terms of skills and capability; and employees who just didn’t “fit in” (get along with, work well with, or act as team players) with the other employees.

How could Jack have avoided this uneven performance or behavioral mismatch? How do you avoid the same issues? Actually, there is no way to get it right all of the time. These are people we are hiring and with whom we are dealing. However, we can narrow the gap between what we want and what we get, often by a considerable amount. We can do this by a series of thoughtful steps that lead up to the actual hiring:

  1. Define the values and environment that you wish to promote in your firm.bridging the gap
  2. Define the position for which you are hiring, including core skills and related behaviors required for success in the position.
  3. Utilize a capable mechanism to identify and source qualified candidates.
  4. Utilize interview techniques and questions that focus on whether the candidate has performed successfully in the past on comparable challenges.
  5. And—utilize a valid testing instrument to assist in determining appropriate interview questions and to define possible issues to be explored with the candidate.

In the main, this book deals with assessing the candidate and his/her “fit” and, as part of the process, utilizing an evaluative instrument. In other words, Step 5 above. There are several of testing instruments available. Most have value and can provide direction and/or insights you would not experience without such an organized look at the candidate.

book cover design key picThe book will talk about the details related to using a testing instrument in hiring. In creating a lead-in for this discussion, my observations are as follows:

  1. Other than “socializing” reasons (i.e., we tend to like to work with and around other people), we hire others to extend our work footprint. That is code for: we hire others to do work we do not want to do, or do not have time to do, or cannot do as well as the person we hire.
  2. We pay the person we hire “out of our pocket.” In other words, what the business makes is now split between you and whomever you hire. So if you are going to hand over part of the loot, you had better be getting something very good in return.
  3. A good place to start is that the person hired creates more additional loot than you pay the person. The greater the excess, the greater your return on hiring the person (if you buy a machine, you expect a return; why is spending comparable dollars on an employee any different?).
  4. Thus, doing the very best job possible of assessing the candidate is important (even crucial). Can he/she do enough more, or do something better by enough, to create revenue adequate to cover his/her cost plus create an attractive return?

If it were my dollars in play, I would use all types of useful tools in making this assessment. That includes a quality-testing instrument.

I would pick carefully the instrument and, every bit as important, the person administering the instrument and assessing the results. I would discuss with the administrator all aspects of the position and related behaviors.

Finally, I would understand that any instrument is just one input to the hiring process and decision (along with the resume, interviews, discussion among interviewers, references, etc.). The results are to be respected, but not to be held as determinant.

I welcome you to check out this insightful book and to the opportunity to explore using quality testing instruments to improve your hiring results, along with your bottom line.

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

Larry Cassidy is a Senior LCS Consultant and a Chair with Vistage International for the past 27 years. He currently works with some 50 executives every month and has facilitated over 1,300 executive group meetings, and participated in 12,000 face-to-face discussions with chief executives about all aspects of their businesses. He prepared for this journey at Miami University (Ohio) and Northwestern (MBA); as a Marine Corps officer; with public companies (General Mills, Quaker Oats and PepsiCo), private, family and foreign-owned firms; and, in the 1980s as General Manager and CEO of local companies. He does executive coaching and also serves on advisory boards. You can reach Larry at Larry@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.

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

 

Raising The Safety Bar Through Enhancing Interpersonal Communication

By Dana Borowka, MA

[dropcaps type=”circle” color=”” background=””]A[/dropcaps] client made an interesting comment once about interpersonal communication: “It’s not what you say – it’s what they heard.” In the world of safety, how you communicate and how it is heard can make a huge impact on every individual you work with, plus a few you don’t even know. After all, safety talking listeningaffects many individuals not only in your organization, but also family members and friends of staff members. Be sure to listen to the web conference on this topic at the end of this article.

Raising the Safety Bar

To raise the safety bar through better interpersonal communications, there are three key steps for dealing with others:

  1. Know your participants – Know who you are dealing with. The key to effective management is know thy staff.
  2. Show empathy – Strive to understand different view points to see where people are coming from. As an example, sometimes an employee needs a step-by-step process for doing a task and a manager gets frustrated because they just want them to jump and do it. Of course, this can be frustrating for both parties. The step-by-step person needs the process and probably won’t move forward because they are concerned about doing it wrong, getting yelled at or costing the company money.
  3. Work from a vision – Know where you want to go with an individual. If you don’t know, how will they know?

If your organization does any kind of in-depth personality or work style assessments, it is always helpful to review the data to understand or empathize with how someone is thinking or approaching things. If your company does not do in-depth personality or work style assessments, talk with your management team about incorporating some type of assessment during the hiring process so the information can be used in managing individuals. That translates into understanding how to best communicate once they come aboard. You can also use the information for your current team which can truly affect the bottom line (think of what miscommunication costs in lives and to the bottom line).

An in-depth personality and work style assessment will help in understanding how someone problem solves, how they deal with stress, and their thought flow. You can literally see how someone will process information and share ideas, plus many other facets of how someone communicates.

Types of Miscommunication

There are typically four styles of miscommunication (think of which category your problem players fall into):

  1. Do they avoid or run away from the issue?
  2. Do they pretend conflict doesn’t exist?
  3. Do they give in or go along with the other person?
  4. Do they attack or try to win through force or overpower with criticism, insults, manipulation or name calling?

Do’s & Don’ts for Communication

Now that you have a good idea of who you are dealing with, here are some do’s and don’ts for effective one-on-one communication, especially when dealing with a heated or recurring issue:

  1. Do have respect for the other person (even though you don’t agree)walking person
  2. Don’t take the conflict personally
  3. Do be a good listener. This can be tough. You may want to just be directive since you know what needs to get done. This won’t help in the long run. You need to really listen to understand where they are coming from. Avoid interrupting and ask questions only when they are finished speaking. Interrupting can be interpreted as being disrespectful. You also want to watch body language. Sometimes the most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.
  4. Don’t assume they understood. In order to assure you truly understand what someone is attempting to communicate, use active listening. Paraphrase what you think the other person is stating and ask them if that’s correct. If not, have them restate it and then paraphrase again to make sure you’ve got it right. Use “I” statements when you are discussing the topic, such as “I feel it is not constructive when you speak to me in that manner, because it feels like you are being disrespectful to me.” Try this formula for success:

– State your feelings clearly without attacking the other person.
– Focus on the problem not the person
– Look for common ground – a shared need you both want or can agree upon
– Uncover any hidden agendas – is something bothering the person that might be feeding into the problem?
– Take time outs to keep a conflict from escalating – not a 10-minute time out but several hours or the next day (unless it is life threatening)

Problem Solving

Once you’ve talked it through and truly listened to the person, then you can move into problem solving. Warning: if you jump to problem solving and haven’t really heard the person, the issue will keep coming up over and over and over again. Problem solving should be fairly simple if you’ve listened well and if the other person feels heard. Here are four steps to help you.

  1. Set an agenda – Define the top 3-5 items you want to focus on. Don’t try to solve the world’s problems all at one time. Typically if you do a couple of them the other items will take care of themselves
  2. Brainstorm – Write the ideas down and don’t say “but” or shoot down ideas when they are suggested.
  3. Sort through the ideas – Pick several or rank them as to which one’s look most promising at this time
  4. Evaluate your options – Once you select a couple of ideas then ask the following questions:

– What will happen if we do this?
– How will it impact others?
– Will everyone get what they want?

Come to a conclusion to try them out and then set a follow up date. It is vital to set a date and to check in to see how things are going. If this step isn’t taken, either the task will not be done or if it doesn’t work, you and others will be upset that the situation had dragged on.

under constructionIn closing, consider this quote from John Marshall of Dofasco Steel: “So many people spend so much energy on things that are beyond their control! It’s human nature, but I constantly ask people anytime something comes up, ‘what do you have control over, what don’t you have control over? What can you influence, or who can you go to that has some influence?’”

You now have the tools to raise the safety bar for better interpersonal communications. Remember what is most important is that you are teaching someone else how to constructively deal with a situation and come up with a solution. The goal is to allow for ideas to be shared and to mentor others in how to communicate and to create a safe work environment.

Listen to our teleconference audio: https://lighthouseconsulting.com/Radio/raisingsafety.mp3

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.