If you yelled for 8 years, 7 months, and 6 days, you would have produced enough sound energy to heat one cup of coffee. (from The Book of Useless Information)
I believe in coaching. I read about it. I talk about it. I spend intentional time observing my leadership team as they coach. Effective coaching works.
Here is one thing I have learned about coaching: what you don’t say matters.
Many of us can easily fall into the trap of doing most if not all of the talking during a coaching session with one of our team members. We are passionate about what is going on. We want the best performance from our team member. And in our exuberance, we talk too much. We truly believe we are doing the right thing but all we are accomplishing is taking one slow step towards heating up a cup o’ Joe. As a leader, you need to generate a lot more energy towards performance and results than this.
How do you combat this tendency of many coaches? Ask more questions.
In your prep time, create intentional questions you need to ask your team member to get a bottom-line issues. Here are some samples I’ve used in teaching coaching with coaches:
1. What is happening now (what, who, when, and how often)? What is the affect or result of this?
2. How have you already taken any steps towards your goal?
3. How would you describe what you did?
4. Where are you now in relation to your goal?
5. On a scale of one to ten where are you?
6. What has contributed to your success so far?
7. What progress have you made so far?
8. What is working well right now?
9. What is required of you?
10. Why haven’t you reached that goal already?
11. What do you think is stopping you?
12. What do you think was really happening?
13. Do you know other people who have achieved that goal?
14. What did you learn from _____?
Let’s commit to halt the “brewing” of future coffee. Listen more. Think more. Ask more. Talk less.
In case you did not know, I am available to come to your company or organization to speak on a wide variety of topics. For more information, please follow this link: Jim Johnson, Speaker Information
I would love the opportunity to serve your organization in any way I can.
In this final post on Culture Confidence, I want to share some practical things you can do to help build your company’s culture and by merely doing these, you will gain more confidence in becoming a team member who PROMOTES, PRACTICES, and PROTECTS your culture.
Just do it. Intentionally, sincerely PROMOTE, PRACTICE, and PROTECT your company’s culture. I know this sounds obvious, but we are all prone to getting in and remaining in a rut at work (and in life). Watch and listen to your work environment and find ways to positively impact others. Such as…
Spotlight coworkers. If your company periodically recognizes outstanding work coming from the team, do you part by nominating someone for this recognition. Even if the other person never knows you nominated them, do it!
High 5. At my company, we have developed a way to send digital “High 5’s” to coworkers when we “catch them” doing great things. This High 5 – one of our superstars created this process in Hyland’s OnBase – is a simple form filled out and then sent to the identified team member and sent to their supervisor. The supervisor can then save this to our company’s performance software for review considerations.
Thank You Notes. Yes, actually sit down and in your own hand writing jot down your appreciation of someone and send it to them. Or walk it to their desk and give it to them. People LOVE to receive these. Be thoughtful and specific.
“I appreciate you.” This one may be a little bit harder for some of us, but actually tell someone you appreciate them – out loud. Or at least write it down and send your thoughts to them in a note, email, instant message (not my favorite because it typically cannot be saved). These are powerful words that can turn someone’s day around, lift their spirits, and build better relationships.
Assume the Best. Too often, culture suffers because we assume the worst. Turn it around. Assume in best in what you are hearing or seeing. If an email comes off fuzzy in its meaning, get up and go talk with the sender to get the clear meaning. Assume the best. And expect the best – from yourself and your team members.
Ask Questions. Asking great questions will help you get to the heart of an issue. Asking great questions helps you learn more about a person’s role in a project. Asking great questions helps you understand the other person’s point of view. Ask great questions and listen carefully.
Lunch/Coffee. Ask a colleague out to lunch/coffee with no agenda other than to get to know them better. How do you do that? Ask great questions about them. It may shock your colleague, but this earns great relationship dividends.
Self-Talk. Be careful of what you say when you talk to yourself. We so easily talk ourselves out of becoming more confident. We talk ourselves down when considering our performance. Your company hired YOU. Step up and shine! Reprogramming your self-talk will surely help you to become more confident in your work, your behaviors, your thinking, and your significance. You are worth it.
We spend so much of our lives at work. Let’s make that work meaningful by creating great company cultures.
You will benefit from this. Your team will benefit. Your company will grow. Your community will be positively impacted. Your customers will notice.
Culture Confidence. We can do this.
In my last post, I introduced how team members can have confidence in building their company’s culture. I shared about those critical moments when an employee has to make decisions about how to respond to counter-cultural situations. The best course of action, in my opinion, is to do these 3 things as a matter of habit:
- PROMOTE – This is where we actively, intentionally promote the very best of our company.
- PRACTICE – The best way to promote a company’s culture is to practice it.
By protecting the culture I mean intentionally standing up for it. Let me give an example.
You are in the company’s lunch room. You hear one employee gossiping (assume negatively) about someone who is not present. Others are around listening and sometimes joining in. Others are doing and saying nothing.
At that moment, what can you do to PROTECT your company’s culture. You know what you are observing is NOT going build a healthy culture. You know what you are hearing is hurtful and not helpful. So what can YOU do?
In my opinion, you have the right – and responsibility – to approach the gossiper. Wait…what?!?! Yes, YOU have this right. But take the right approach:
- Approach the gossiper in private. Don’t create even more negative drama by calling them out in front of a group. That rarely, if ever, works. Yes, what that person is doing is wrong, but professionally meet with them in private. This will truly help “save face” to the one in the wrong.
- Explain what you heard. Tell them that the company’s culture is too valuable to make room for hurtful talk about each other. Tell this person you believe they are better than they portrayed themselves to the group in the lunch room. Maybe even ask them, “How do you think people perceived you when you talked about that other person in the way you did? Do you think any of them may believe you’d do the same thing about them? I want you to be better than this. I hope you would want the same thing for me and others here.” Help this person understand you care not only for the person being maligned but that you care for the gossiper, too. Face it, most of us become blind to certain behaviors and attitudes. But approach this person with the intent to help them become better.
- Tell them that you are not their supervisor, but as an employee of this company, you care about things that move the company forward. And you care about things that hold the company back. And you care about the people that work here.
Please note: this is NOT simple to do. Too often things get in the way of us making the right choice to protect our culture:
- Easy. It’s just as easy to not act as it is to act. Just like losing weight or exercising or reading or being intentional in a relationship….easy to do and not easy to do.
- Fear. We fear taking a stand. I’ll admit it, it is scary!
- Deflection. “It’s not my job. I’m not a manager, VP, CEO…”
- Since when is protecting our culture the sole responsibility of a supervisor?
- If you saw someone trying to kidnap a child at the mall, you would step in, right? Or would you tell yourself, “hey, it’s not my kid…”?
- Self-worth. Too many times, we don’t take a stand because of what we say to ourselves.
- “I’m just a low-level employee. I have no authority.”
- “People will make fun or treat me badly. I don’t want to risk that.”
- “I’ve only been with the company for 18 months. I don’t know enough to speak up.”
- “Who am I to speak up? What do I know? I should shut up.”
But your company’s culture is worth protecting and nurturing! Every time to PROMOTE, PRACTICE, and PROTECT your culture, you help build momentum.
And when momentum builds, it becomes the norm.
You help raise the standard.
You don’t settle.
You refuse to live to the lowest common denominator.
The culture becomes more alive.
You/We become the culture.
Next, I’ll share some practical ways to PROMOTE and PRACTICE the culture.
This past week, I had the privilege of presenting to a group of team members a topic that was inspired by one of my own department’s team members. Stephanie and I had been talking about how to develop more confidence at a lunch we had weeks ago. She asked me if I could address how to have more confidence in the process of building our company’s culture. And that got me thinking…so, put together a presentation that I will be sharing here in a couple of posts.
I have been fascinated by confidence – who has it, how do I get more of it, how to temper it, why it is so important to have it in life, etc.
When thinking about a company’s culture, much of what I have read centers around the organization’s leadership and/or C-suite executives. But I believe a company’s culture can be built and developed by all team members regardless of their position in the company.
You see, there are moments, many moments, that occur where a member of senior leadership are no where to be found. If culture is left primarily to senior management, so many opportunities to build culture will be lost. That is why I want ALL of our team members to own culture-building.
In practical terms, we have all experienced times when we heard/see one team member gossiping about another team member who is not present – they are being talked about behind their back. And more times than not, the comments are not positive.
In THAT moment of observation, what can ANY employee do to turn that situation into a culture-building experience?
From my perspective, culture-building isn’t a mantra that we hear from leadership or see printed and framed on walls. That’s the easy part. Culture-building can be hard, messy, uncomfortable, risky – and it is WORTH IT!
So in the moment when we have to decide how we can build culture during a negative situation, we have 3 choices:
- Do Nothing. Building culture is easy to do. It is also easy NOT to do. And for many people, doing nothing is the easy thing. Say nothing. Just walk away. But this does not build a positive culture.
- Join In. A lot of us, unfortunately, join in on the negative conversation. We “gang up” on the person who is the subject of the gossip. Group gripe takes over. Is this a good thing to bolster your career path? Will the company become stronger with this sort of interaction? NO! There is a better way.
- Promote, Practice. Protect. I believe that every team member has the right and responsibility to do these 3 things.
- Promote. This is where we actively, intentionally promote the very best of our company. At our company, we have a way to give each other a digital “High 5” where we catch someone doing the right thing and then promote culture by sending them a High 5 which goes to that person directly as well as their supervisor. Promoting the culture also means getting involved in the community as a representative of the company. We offer many opportunities to serve in our communities and encourage volunteerism.
- Practice. The best way to promote a company’s culture is to practice it. Be a cheerleader for a project you’re involved in. Get results. Encourage others. Tell a team member that you appreciate them. Send a team member a thank you note on work they’ve been doing. Practicing a company’s culture helps build momentum towards the healthy and the positive.
- Protect. This is hard. I can’t candy-coat it. But this part of culture-building is vitally important and anyone in any position can practice this.
I’ll share more about how to protect your company’s culture in the next post.
Bottom line: your company is worth doing the 3 P’s. Your fellow team members are worth it. Your customers are worth it.
When thinking about speaking in public (team meetings, presentations in front of customers/executives, a speech, etc.), what comes to mind?
For many of us, public speaking is our #1 fear. Why is that? Is public speaking that much worse than snakes, drowning, or clowns?
I would love to read your comments on this topic. Please share if you do have this fear (no matter which country you live in) and what you believe you need to work on to overcome it?