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I am Struggling with Change – Again! Argh!

Posted by on Sep, Wed, 2018 in Individual Purpose | 0 comments

Time For Change. Red And Steel Edition

 

I believe that change is an important part of life. In fact, the very thought of not learning has caused me to make significant life changes – for the good!

Having shared that, if I’m truly honest, I still struggle with it – especially with technology. A few years ago my accountant suggested that I shift to QuickBooks and you would have thought he was suggesting that I sign up for torture.

Last year, I had to shift my business email system to a new system. Today, I’m sitting here in GRATITUDE because I have done both. Yes, I whined to anyone who would listen. Yes, I questioned and challenged the change. Yes, I struggled to learn a new way and had fears arise. Yet it all was for the best! So why did I fight it so much?

Comfort Zone

We all have a comfort zone of how we like things to happen and what we like to do. The challenge is that the status quo can shift and if we don’t shift with it, we can become obsolete in our thinking and practices. When that happens, we can lose out on opportunities because we fear or reject them. Just like those old slightly smelly slippers, it feels really comfy!

We all need to be careful that our Comfort Zones don’t become our Constriction Zones!

The amount of challenge we experience with change is directly dependent on how we approach it.
Growth and learning is part of the human condition. So what can we do differently for ourselves and others in our work and life?

Change Management

I know Change Management is an often overused phrase. Yet, the number of changes we are all faced with on a regular basis – especially those that we perceive to be outside of our control, can be overwhelming. And regardless of whether we choose the change or not, we all have 100% control over how we choose to cope with it!

Become aware of what your process is. Change is always a process – and we all deserve to find a way to assist us individually to maneuver through it with better ease and grace.

  • Look back at the last 3 or 5 significant changes that occurred in your life. Make a list of them.
  • Note whether you perceived each change to be in your control or not?
  • What did you do to cope with the change?
  • Were they business or personal in nature? Do you tend to cope the same way or differently depending on this?
  • What part of the process helped? What hindered?
  • Review the parts that hindered your change process. What could you shift to create a smoother experience where you lessen your struggle to enable a smoother transition for yourself?
  • Make a list of change coping strategies that work for you and keep them in a location where you’ll remember to look at them the next time you experience change.
  • Finally, make note of the benefits of the change that occurred.

Next time you are about to experience another change, you can be comforted that you’ve learned to cope even better with change and that you can get through it successfully. Partially because you have a plan and because you recognize you have succeeded in the past!

The Real Costs of Allowing Poor Behaviour in the Workplace

Posted by on Aug, Wed, 2018 in Leadership, Team Dynamics | 0 comments

August 29

 

My husband and I decided to have a new well drilled at our cottage. One might think this is a simple process. You call someone, get a quote for the work and then have it completed…right!?!

Well, this is not my experience. Initially, I was promised a date in June, which then became July and turned into August. Finally, in mid-August, the work began.  However, it got stopped by the well-driller one hour later as they had not brought the supplies they needed to do the work the first day. Then the following Monday and Tuesday he called to say he couldn’t make it. One week later, the well is almost completed.

While I’m grateful to have water, I’ve lost trust and faith in this person’s work ethic – even though he is an expert in his field.

This experience reminded me of the organizations that keep a difficult but long-term employee who they say does good work, but yet their interpersonal behaviour is abhorrent.

Do you have an employee that fits this bill? Are you even addressing the issue or are you hoping if you ignore it, it will simply go away?

Whether the behaviour is not showing up for work, being unprepared for work or especially lacking appropriate interpersonal skills, these people need to be held to task. I’ve heard the argument that “we can’t afford to pay a severance package.”

Here are some real-world examples of the hidden costs of enabling the behaviour to continue:

  1. Other team members avoiding speaking with and dealing with the individual resulting in decreased productivity and poor workflow.
  2. Other team members will question your leadership. It is common to lose significant trust in the leader’s ability to lead.
  3. The impact on other team members’ mental health. You may end up either paying sick time or re-assigning work when other team members do wish to cope with the difficult person.
  4. This not only impacts your internal customers (co-workers) but also your external customers (clients).  It is having a negative impact on your company’s brand. You are at risk of losing valuable clients.

These are very expensive when sometimes the solution is not dismissal but being fully honest and holding space for the individual’s full potential.

The first step needs to be having an open and honest conversation with the individual outlining the impact of his/her behaviour and co-creating a plan for improvement.

This plan will be more successful when it includes coaching – whether hiring an external coach or providing a coach within the organization. This individual deserves clarity and an opportunity to make a change. Have regular meetings with the individual to both support changes and encourage growth through accountability. If there is no improvement, you may need to take further action.

However, in this process, they are given the opportunity to dig deeper into their own well of potential! And they may just surprise you! At the very least, you have primed the pump for improving your team’s dynamics!

Don’t Talk AT Me

Posted by on Aug, Wed, 2018 in Communication | 0 comments

Boss threatens finger to businessman. Pop art retro vector illustration

 

How Passionate People Can Talk so others Want to Listen

 

Recently at two meetings I attended, I experienced individuals speaking being so passionate about their message of helping other women in business that they started to speak at us vs. to us. Initially, with both women, I was interested and then found myself shutting down as they shared some “absolutes” about how we as women need to be or should be if we wish to succeed. Their goal is very admirable, as with many leaders, however, their delivery is sadly missing the mark for their success!

Now, I don’t believe this is a women’s issue per se, as men can be equally as passionate and get caught up in their excitement of how they think things should be better as well.

How does this transfer this into the team environment?

Perhaps you are a new leader and have lots of great ideas, and in your excitement, you start to prophesize about your vision. In doing so, you can inadvertently offend people who believe that you are criticizing or even condemning their past work. Take a moment to think about where your team members are at prior to making a lot of recommendations before you get your feet wet in the team. Make sure that you ask for their ideas upfront and incorporate them. Remember that the “critical voice” in the team can be a great source of information and is often able to see the potential risks of a new idea. Then use their insights to problem solve how the particular risk could be mitigated. When solutions and visions are co-created with the team, the probability of success is enhanced.

Or you’ve been the leader for some time and you learn of a new product or service that you are really excited about. You walk into the meeting and share this idea – and perhaps – even instruct the team that we are going to go this way. Remember, none of us really love to be told what to do! If you want adoption of your idea, then introduce it and ask for team members to share their perspective with you. Think about how you can make this a more interactive conversation vs. talking at them. It may be helpful to have a brainstorming session on the potential benefits and pitfalls from the perspective of a team member, the team as a whole and the organization. Then look at all the data and proceed accordingly. Teams tend to adopt new ideas when they have input and influence on what and how they are carried out.

Or you are sharing your personal passion. Be very careful not to use words like “should”, “must”, “have to”, and so on.  These words come across as absolutes and when team members don’t fit the absolute, they may shut down and stop listening too. We tend to become overwhelmed and at times experience an Amygdala Hijacking when being passionately spoken too.

Help enhance your level of success and give a generous thought to how you can make your message easier for your audience to hear. If you relate to this struggle, let’s chat about how Coaching can help you shift your energy and get even better results!

 

Time for Self-Reflection

Posted by on Aug, Wed, 2018 in Motivation | 0 comments

august 1 take time to reflect
We are in high cottage season here in Canada. When at the cottage, I tend to lay back, relax and savor the beauty of my surroundings. Sitting in complete appreciation for what I’ve created (my husband and I build our cottage with our own hands).

Have you as an executive or manager, sat back and appreciated your surroundings? Often you’ll find yourself focused on putting out fires, dealing with crisis and planning for the future. One of the key opportunities is to take stock of the current situation. So this week, plan some time to sit and reflect on the current situation in your organization.  Take time to review feedback you’ve received from team members, clients or customers, as well as your own perceptions.

What is going really well? What lead to that success? Was it a particular sequence of events, the attitude you shared with staff or their excitement for the project? Perhaps it was ensuring that they had access to all the tools and resources they needed to work on the project.

What needs some work? What in your sphere of influence could have been more effective? How might you have done it differently? What skills, attitudes, tools, communication were missing or less effective?

What needs immediate attention? Breathe and remain in reflective mode – what were the factors that lead to this result? Who was involved? What skills or attitudes or tools do they need to get better results? What conversations do you need to have to get these addressed most effectively? Take a time to strategize.

How might you improve the situation or roll out of the next venture given these insights? Take some notes that you’ll look at prior to starting the next initiative to remind yourself of these guidelines to create a rollout plan for the next initiative in your organization.

Taking a “time out” to reflect and evaluate can help you create dynamic solutions that you never conceived of. Doing this on a regular basis will help you become an even better leader! This is one of the great benefits of Executive Coaching – you have another set of eyes and ears to assist you to reflect on and improve your current situation.

If you are looking for that support, just give me a call.

I Forgive You

Posted by on Jul, Wed, 2018 in Team Dynamics | 0 comments

July 18 - I forgive you

 

An Uncommon Team Dynamics Solution

 

We’ve all had those times when we felt that someone on the team, or perhaps our direct manager, did something that created difficulty for us – and sometimes we feel that they did it on purpose!

During a recent team dynamics session with a client, it came out that his direct manager had not supported him in the way that he really needed and wanted over 6 years ago. He had not directly spoken to his manager in regards to this situation and was holding onto deep resentment about the situation. As a result, the working relationship between the individual and manager was highly stressed. And because of the lack of direct communication about this perceived injustice, the manager was unable to assist him through the situation.

My approach was to encourage him to forgive his manager because:

  1. Holding onto resentment was only holding him back, creating his stress and having a negative impact on his health. It is said that holding onto anger for 1 hour will impact your immune system negatively for 4 hours.
  2. The relationship between him and his Manager would never improve until he spoke directly with her and worked through the situation.
  3. Thirdly, his resentment was preventing him from having the success he desired.

Many of you may be thinking that forgiveness doesn’t belong in the workplace. However, in my experience, holding onto resentment has a negative impact on not only the relationship with the person who “wronged” you but the entire team dynamic.

Forgiveness is actually a selfish process. It happens when we decide that we no longer want the other person to “rent space for free in our heads” and choose to let go. Steps to forgiveness include fully acknowledge to yourself all the emotions you have attached to the situation, and how this has impacted you. The next step is to look at how holding onto these emotions is restricting you from moving forward and having peace in the situation. The next step is to make a decision to let go of these emotions while understanding that each person did the best with what they knew at the moment that the original issue ensued (even if they were wrong in your humble opinion). And finally, stating to yourself “I release you and set you free. You are free and I am free” while allowing the emotions to leave your body fully.

While forgiveness is a selfish process and allows you to move forward to even better things, it can also open up energy for a new and better relationship with the other person(s) involved. So give yourself the gift of freedom and fully explore how you can forgive that other person today!

To peace, success, and fulfillment,
Sylvia

 

Are you Silent but Deadly?

Posted by on Jul, Wed, 2018 in Communication, Team Dynamics | 0 comments

Silent Emoticon Icon. Flat Illustration Of Silent Emoticon Vecto

 

An Unhealthy Role that Sabotages Team Dynamics

I remember working with one client and having limited results. As this was unusual for my process, I began to look even deeper at the situation. One team member who appeared on the surface to be respectful was actively sabotaging the initiative.

Suddenly this individual was requesting days off when facilitations were to happen. We had looked at a more vocal team member and thought they were impeding the process however the problem truly lied with the “silent and deadly” team member. You see, through this person’s silence, they were actually yelling to their fellow team members that this will not work. Their energy was like a damn in a river – completely stopping the flow of healthy communication.

Through a number of meetings, it became crystal clear that this individual had decided that the team dynamics initiative would not work and by not engaging in it with their teammates, the person ensured it could not work.

When you are challenged by change initiatives in your organization you can do the following:

  1. Have the person’s direct supervisor/manager/director meet with each team member and ask how they are doing with the initiative.
  2. Inquire about any concerns that they might have. How can you as their direct leader support them more fully in this initiative? You can ask what they have actively done to support the initiative and what within the change is causing any challenges for them.
  3. Help them to see the benefits of the change for themselves, for their team, for the organization, and for clients.
  4. If they continue to block the change, you may need to help them see that it’s not their choice and that continuing to sabotage is a form of insubordination. And deal with it accordingly.

Sometimes the person who is quiet is not really in support. Their resistance can impede change that’s required for the success of the organization. Look beyond the “problem child” who is being vocal because they may be simply giving a voice for others who are not speaking up – and in such, a helpful partner.

Uncovering the silent person can release the energy required to ensure success in your organization.

Now I Remember!

Posted by on Jun, Wed, 2018 in Communication | 0 comments

June 20 - Now I remember

And Other Things We Think we Really Understand

 

During a recent speaking engagement, I was sharing how to use great communication skills to create transformational moments in our teams. During one exercise, one group was chatting of memories as a child when their fathers pulled out the wooden spoon – one participant laughed as she shared, “Now that was a transformation moment.” I said, “I don’t believe that’s the same definition of transformational.” We had a good chuckle, and they returned to the table discussion.

While this is a humorous example, we often have miscommunication because the different meanings that as listeners place on the words vs. meaning that the person speaking intended. Couple this with the reality that our brain checks out of conversations approximately every 12 seconds, we tend to miss a lot of information during conversations.

The next conversational blind spot I’m going to share is about how we think the meaning of our conversations lies with us, the speaker, when in fact, whatever the listener hears is where the meaning really lies. In other words, we need to ensure that we are clear and are fully understood. Otherwise, we are likely to have a situation like the game, telephone tag – where what we think we heard was not what was intended – the message gets lost and people become confused.

It’s not uncommon in the workplace for situations like this to happen. As so many individuals fear conflict, they are unlikely to clarify meaning and will hope or ass-u-me that they understood. Then they share the directive or other important information with their direct reports. Then other leaders share their perceptions and before you know it, there are inconsistent messages being received along with inconsistent practices happening.

So how can you stop this insidious communication challenge?

  1. In one to one or small team situations, ask people to explain back their understanding, using their own words. The commonly used reflective listening practices often have people simply repeat back the words the speaker but words can have very different meaning for the listeners.
  2. It is important to ensure that the words you are using have a shared meaning – see the example of “transformational moment.” You can ask, “I want to make sure we are on the same page, so when you say ______, can you define what you mean when you use that word or phrase?” This will open the conversation up to explore a deeper understanding of one another.
  3. If it’s in regards to a Change Management initiative, then having a Town Hall Meeting where all team members are present will be important. Again, be careful that you don’t fall into jargon and that you explain clearly what you mean. Then ask for any questions and encourage people to ask anything that is not clear to them – whether in today’s meeting or in the upcoming weeks via email. Putting out an anonymous survey to learn what people understood can also be a helpful exercise especially if you have a less than ideal team culture.
  4. Role model asking for clarity and being open to having questions answered. You might even have someone ask for clarity in front of the team to show that you are open to fully explain your meaning.

Taking the time to ensure that both you, as speaker, and your listener(s) have shared meaning is a valuable and time-saving process.  If you do not, then people’s experience is likely to shade the meaning that they take from the experience. Time spent up front is an investment in ensuring smooth operations going forward.

You said what?!

Posted by on Jun, Wed, 2018 in Communication, Team Dynamics | 0 comments

Blind businessman

What really happens when we communicate

 

As my husband and I sit on Saturday mornings with our coffees, we will be chatting about something – and all of a sudden our dog, Josee, will hop to her feet with excitement. We are often left wondering what we said that may have sounded like “walk” or “treat” or some other important word that Josee loves. While this example with Josee is inane, when similar communication challenges happen in the workplace, they can set the stage for team dysfunction if not recognized and dealt with in a timely and effective manner.

As communicators, we often think that we are clear and easily understood, however our listeners, like Josee, can often walk away with a completely different understanding or in complete confusion. Given that approximately 70% of workers avoid difficult conversations that are often the outcome of miscommunication, these simple examples when chronic, can result in missed deadlines, lost time, and absenteeism. Being a solid communicator requires us to be self-aware and also be able to understand the reaction of the other person.

So let’s talk about a common Communication Blind Spoteveryone thinks the same way that I do. We often have an assumption that our worldview is shared by all. Our brain’s tendency is to think that our perceptions are shared by others. Isn’t obvious how I got to the conclusion that I arrived at in any given situation? Well, no it is not.

Every time we have a conversation, we are listening through our vast storehouse of life experiences. Believe it or not, like Josee, we hear what we think we hear. And our experiences are different than others simply because of our life experiences. In our brains, we have a bias of listening for what is similar to our past experiences and we make assumptions based on our life experiences.

So if you hear yourself saying “doesn’t everyone know …” or “isn’t it obvious that…” then you are caught in this blind spot. Here are 3 tips to help you:

  1. Recognize that you have made an assumption. Name it and then ask the other person what they understood – and how they perceive the situation. Listen intently for things that are different than your perspective and acknowledge them.
  2. Ask what they feel would be the best solution given their way of looking at the world. The best solutions come forward when team members with different perspectives open up and hear each other, then through the many rich experiences, a new solution can arise.
  3. When you are listening to others, recognize your assumptions and biases and name them. Then make sure that you paraphrase what you have heard and request that they clarify if you misunderstood them.

Blind spots in human behaviour are common and can result in confusion and conflict as individual team members will often feel unheard and devalued. However, when these very same blind spots are fully explored and understood the results will be innovative solutions and a highly functioning team dynamic.

Stay tuned for the next Blind Spot and solutions to it in our upcoming blog.

What Message Are You Really Delivering?

Posted by on May, Wed, 2018 in Leadership, Team Dynamics | 0 comments

Words Have Power

Throughout our country, we have endless campaigns to stop bullying as we recognize the devastation that it can have on our youth. Despite these government funded campaigns, the behaviour of candidates in the upcoming election is wrought with extensive bullying.

This is a clear “do as I say, not as I do” tactic. Where’s the personal responsibility? If you are name-calling other candidates, what does that say about your character? I honestly can’t hear what you are using as an election platform through this barrage of bullying. And even of greater concern, our youth are witnessing these behaviours – and actions speak louder than words! If you are engaging in these behaviours, you are role modeling bullying as an acceptable practice.

Human nature seems to make it easy for any of us – yes, we are all capable of this inappropriate, judgmental and disrespectful behaviours – to rationalize our behaviour or simply pretend that we are getting results by the way we communicate.

I’ve seen this happen in many organizations. Plaques proudly embossed on the wall are sharing lofty Missions, Visions, and Values citing how these values are core to the organization. Yet, the day-to-day behaviour of some leaders is in direct opposition to the Mission, Vision, and Values. I remember one day walking into my Executive Director’s office and seeing a huge plaque about sexual harassment, only the following day to have an inappropriate gesture from that very same Executive Director. As a staff member, it was demoralizing.

Sometimes it is more subtle than the examples above, like a disrespectful comment or lack of emotional management skills that result in the manager yelling at direct reports. We need to ask for help to ensure that we are not engaging in nor tolerating these behaviours as the leaders in an organization.

Here are some emotional management tools that you can use today:

  1. Learn to manage your emotions. Identify the emotion and then take deep breaths. This can help you to stop reacting and make healthier choices about your communication.
  2. Start journaling using the stream of consciousness technique. As you write, keep asking yourself what’s really bothering me? Once you have the cause, there is often a sense of relief.
  3. Get an Executive Coach to assist you in understanding how you are received by others in your organization and to help you communicate more effectively.
  4. If you are aware that you have been bullying in your behaviour or communication, make a plan to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. Then apologize to the individual or team that you acted inappropriately with. During your apology, be fully transparent and share your plan with them. Invite them to tell you if you are making them uncomfortable. And be aware, that if you have been bullying them, they are unlikely to feel safe enough to be open around your behaviour.
  5. Use self-reflection on a daily basis to identify when you have made someone uncomfortable or when you may have become overly emotional in your communications. Take active steps to prevent this from happening again.

At the end of the day, we are ultimately responsible for what we say and do. Choose to ensure that you are in full alignment with the Mission, Vision, and Values of your organization. Make sure that the message you want to deliver is congruent with what you do and say.

Let’s start fully respecting one another and become strong role models for our team members and the youth in our communities!

The Art of Accountability

Posted by on May, Wed, 2018 in Team Dynamics | 0 comments

May 9 - Account4ability

When people are asked to define what accountability means to them, many conger up thoughts of uncomfortable conversations, defensiveness, and conflict. For some, it’s all about confronting “them” about how they are underperforming and what they “must” do to improve. When thought of in this way, accountability becomes something to avoid and put off. After all, you might have thoughts that the person that he or she will never really change their behaviour. There is an inherent discomfort in this entire way of thinking and viewing the world of accountability.

So we need a new mindset to achieve a different result. That’s why I coined the phrase and concept “Account-4-Ability©”.

At its core, Account-4-Ability© is about seeing another person’s potential and having a deep honest desire to assist them in their success. By holding the highest vision of the other person and appreciating that they are doing their best according to their awareness at the moment. This process is all about genuinely caring about the outcomes for the individual as well as the organization or project.

Here are four key concepts of Account-4-Ability©

  1. Every interaction is about Respect for all persons concerned. That means that we don’t judge or criticize the other person. We simply recognize that they can do even better than their current performance. And we choose to share information about specific challenges by describing behaviour and outcomes, never criticizing the individual’s personality or personhood.
  2. Account-4-Ability© is about Honouring the other person fully. I choose to honour you and our process together so much that as we build our relationship, we are truthful and honest with one another. Every time I think about you, I choose to see the highest vision of you – that place where you have potential to be most successful.
  3. Caring is a key component. In order for this to work, it’s paramount to focus on what you like and appreciate about the other person so that you offer feedback in an authentic way. As humans, we have mirror neurons that allow our brain to “read” how you are feeling towards us, so this cannot be faked. If necessary, find a small part of the person that you like and appreciate about them. Then focus on that throughout the conversation – otherwise you run the risk of alienating the other person – after all, we all want to be cared about.
  4. It is helping that person to realize their true ability through honest, constructive and respect filled conversations. Learning more about what makes the person most successful, offering help to remove barriers and help that person discover how they can grow into their potential. It is having conversations that go deeper than the behaviour of concern and into exploring the best working relationship for both of you.

Account-4-Ability© provides a process to champion each member of the team, while ensuring that everyone benefits from honest, respectful and caring interactions with both the project’s best interests and each team members highest potential as well. It’s a roadmap to organizational success!