May 13th, 2013 | by Lee
Do you cringe when you see senior managers and staff making inadequate presentations? It’s difficult to challenge people on these important skills, even when the problems are glaringly obvious.
It is a difficult issue to confront, unless there is strong support from high level executives, who often are the worst offenders.
Ellen Finklestein’s useful PowerPoint Tips blog has a good post on just this issue and includes a couple of less common tips. She views it through the PowerPoint lens, but PowerPoint does reflect many of the symptoms of boring presentations.
April 23rd, 2013 | by Lee
A complaint of bullying is a majorstep down a very formal path. It puts people in polarised corners regardless of the validity or seriousness of the complaint. Relationships are more damaged because of this. Some people put off making a complaint because of fear of the repercussions. Some managers are very badly damaged by accusations of bullying, even when an investigation discovers that the complaint is unfair.
Hayden Olsen, from Workplaces Against Violence in Employment, suggests an informal process as a starting point. This is a mediated approach that aims for resolution of the problem, rather than retribution. Whilst a formal process inevitably has to look back to see what happened. An informal process enables an organisation to look forwards and asks what needs to change for a better future?
Some organisations use this approach as a starting point. Consciously applying it could shift the process into something much more open and constructive for all parties.
April 16th, 2013 | by Lee
One of our clients in the hospitality sector is getting managers to provide staff training sessions on skills where they have outstanding competence. Most managers are surprised that they are seen as outstanding in a particular arena. For example, one manager consistently builds great customer relationships whilst at the same time controlling the length of the conversation with them. She was both proud and startled to realise that her level of skill is unusual.
We often assume that what we do is just obvious – any fool would do it this way. These assumptions about competence are explained very well by the four stage competence model , developed in the 1970s by Noel Burch for Gordon Training International. Our hospitality manager was unconsciously competent in building customer relationships. To train others in the skill she has to figure out what she does that works. She will almost have to freeze-frame the steps to work out what they are and why they work. In the model this moves her into conscious unconscious competence, believe it or not!
That recognition of competence will be a tremendous boost to her self-esteem. How beneficial for her and the organisation to also have an opportunity to extend these skills to the rest of the firm.
You can make use of the benefit of conscious unconscious competence for yourself. Work out your competencies and then consciously use them to help in areas where you feel very incompetent!
Feeling like you don’t have any special competence? The Helen Marcoz Skills and Strengths blog can help with this. There’s also the very useful book and website: Now Discover Your Strengths.
What challenge makes you feel daunted? Look back on your areas of competency and see what you can use from there to apply to this new situation. Where else have you faced something similar and what could you use from that experience?
The answer generally lies within us.
April 2nd, 2013 | by Lee
One of my clients is working on her leadership skills in a major corporate organisation. A recent session focused around getting key partners and managers to buy into a new strategy for the business unit. In the end it came down to a whole series of individual conversations – with other partners and with the managers.
How do you get those conversations ‘leaderly’? Run your conversation plans past this three-way leadership communication test:
1. Is what I am going to say going to be inspiring?
2. Am I being a good steward of the people?
3. Am I solving the problem?
There’s a lot more depth in Kouzes and Pozner’s book ‘The Leadership Challenge’. We also need to remember that leader communication is a mix of what leaders say, the communication behaviours they model and the decisions they make supporting a communicative culture matter too. The three way test is a good simple start though.
March 25th, 2013 | by Lee
Two of my friends walked the glorious Lake Waikaremoana together with a small group recently. This last weekend I asked each of them separately how the trip had gone.
The results were fascinating: Person One had a WONDERFUL time – loved the lake, the bush, the length of the walk, the view from Panikiri Bluff and so on.
I reported this to Person Two who, in tones of total disbelief, said: ‘Didn’t she tell you all the negatives? It rained, someone didn’t have the right sort of jacket, people argued, someone was worryingly unfit, people snored..’ you can imagine the rest!
Whilst there is interesting evidence that negativity isn’t always negative, I know who I’d rather have been in Waikaremoana with!
Do you feel that you are a bit negative? The starting point is to realise that you can choose to change your view of the world. There’s the famous ‘Feeding the wolf‘ story that is so true. Life Hack has a very simple post of Nine Ways to be More Positive. Follow that advice and you can certainly shift your perception to something a lot pleasanter to live with!
March 4th, 2013 | by Lee
Question from a client:
Soon I have to lead group discussions in my workplace and will have to summarise the group’s ideas on a whiteboard. I’m dyslexic and am dreading this. I will be very embarrassed because I will make a lot of mistakes in my spelling. In other situations I’ve managed to hide my disability, but now I will be shown up. What do I do?
What do I think?
Does it help that other people face similar problems? Little did we know that at THE ROYAL WEDDING when Kate’s brother had to do that very public reading, he was battling to manage his dyslexia.
There are some simple ways around the problem, plus there is a more challenging solution that could have very positive results for the way you connect with the group.
Some simple answers are:
- Get someone else to be the scribe.
- Make a secret crib sheet of difficult words that are likely to come up and quietly check it.
- Tell the audience that a truly creative person can think of far more ways to spell a word than just one. Bad spellers in the group will warm to with this response.
- There are some more practical hints for dyslexic teachers at this University of Nottingham publication. This may give you some ideas to adapt to your situation.
The challenging solution?
Tap into the power of revealing your vulnerability. In this case you would say something like:
‘I am going to write your ideas up on the whiteboard. You will have to tolerate some really bad spelling because I am dyslexic and although my vocabulary is fine, my brain doesn’t work well when it comes to writing those words down. It is something I’ve battled with all my life, but on the whole I’ve decided that the best thing is to just get on with things. Just forgive the weird spelling.’
Most top speakers get at least some of their impact from sharing there vulnerabilities. Those weak spots can build a strong connection. Yes, it’s a risk, but the group will relax and relate to you far more warmly than if you were the winner of the national spelling bee. You will also find that it opens up quite a lot of empathetic comments and some people will talk about similar challenges they face.
We think everybody else out there is living a perfect life. Until we open up about our own imperfections, we don’t find out the challenges that exist for others. In sharing our gaps, we can truly connect.
February 14th, 2013 | by Janine
A recent McKinsey report talks about MQ ( along the same lines as IQ and Goleman’s EQ). The term stands for ‘meaning at work.
The report goes on to talk about how people who really understand how their work has meaning are able to be much more productive. This feeling of ‘meaning’ is often described as a sense of being in ‘flow’ or being in the zone.
It isn’t difficult to see how some people in the workplace find it hard to reconcile their daily tasks with the organisation’s bigger goals. Some feel alienated and unhappy about not knowing what’s going on. Often people are even more frustrated by having no control over what happens to them or their team mates.
The report talks about the importance of telling stories for adding meaning. The best stories relate specifically to how each individual makes a difference to the outcomes of the work they are involved in.
This communications focus shouldn’t be on counting widgets or how many calls they manage in a short time frame, but instead on how their work makes a difference – to their customers, their workmates and their community, as well as to themselves. The stories are even more effective if each person tells their own.
This is a salutary message to everyone involved in implementing change. Big picture images, statistics and logical messages might be fine for the already converted, but to the individual employees need real stories that they can relate to. Even better would be to get them to write their stories themselves.
January 16th, 2013 | by Lee
Ah, don’t we plan all manner of goals for the coming year and then very rapidly fall by the wayside? When I lived in the US, there’d be the usual New Year Resolution stuff in the media, then come January 3rd or 4th I’d see tips for handling your depression about already failing at the resolutions.
There was a memorable metaphor in one of the Quora threads over the break: How do I get over my bad habit of procrastinating? Via cartoons, it creates Albert, who is the logical bit of your brain, and Rex who is an impulsive baby reptile. Using this metaphor the writer describes the reasons for procrastination and provides some excellent tips for overcoming it.
One tip is: ‘Bias your environment: Rex is shortsighted and not very bright. If he sees a Facebook icon, he wants it. Design your environment to be free from such distractions.’ How did I come across this link? Well….I just kind of noticed the Quora entry and the appealing subject line and got distracted into following it!
I’d be interested in hearing how you got on with the tips.