Here in the US, we are celebrating Halloween today. Our children will be out and about this evening trick-or-treating and filling their bags will all kinds of sweets. It is rarely scary and always a lot of fun.
So allow me some latitude to ask: do you know what is frightening you in the workplace today? Let me offer up some scary realities that left unattended can bring on unproductive teams and can often lead to chaos. Leaders, be ware!
Lack of communication
No company-wide vision
“Do as I say, not as I do” coming from leadership
Failure to confront issues
Passive aggressive behaviors
Lack of investment in the team in mental, physical, and financial wellness, personal/leadership development, community outreach
I listed just a few here. So what is the remedy?
Ask yourself: “what am I blind to?” Then address those things.
Develop authenticity. You may need help with this. You cannot merely dictate real change. You need to model it.
Ask your team where they need help? Then act on what you learn.
Bring in a consultant to help you deal with really tough issues that have been ignored for too long.
Communicate. Be vulnerable while keeping the team moving in a positive, forward-moving growth mode. It can be done.
Address what is frightening you and your team/organization. Take the lead to recalibrate if necessary. Keep things real. Keep accountability at the forefront.
This morning, I started reading a new book, Soundtracks by Jon Acuff. I have been studying how the brain works and how we act/react according to how we think. This book will be providing more insights into that area.
One quote caught my eye today.
“I imagine that everyone I work with is a business partner that I’m trying to help grow. I have 350 partners.”
Every day whether in person or working remotely, we interact with coworkers. Most of the time, these interactions go smoothly. Other times…not so much.
Acuff is pointing out in his book that our brains work off of existing “recordings”, thoughts that we believe (whether they are true or not) and then we act on them. Soundtracks is about replacing old “recordings” with new ones. Doing this brings meaning back to our encounters. It inspires us to move forward looking at life with a fresh perspective.
So today, as you log on in your home office or as you enter your office building (maybe for the first time in a year!), imagine that everyone you work with is a business partner that you are trying to help grow. If you get asked the same question multiple times a day, there is an opportunity to help your business partners grow. If you get caught up in an email string that takes a harsh turn, don’t respond with another email. Pick up the phone. Send out a Skype/Zoom invite. Walk to their desk if you are both onsite. And talk. Listen. Ask questions. Find ways to help them (and you) grow.
Break out of old patterns. Change the “recordings” of old soundtracks and replace them with better ones. You can do this. You can rewire your thinking. It is possible.
I produced a video yesterday for our local leadership networking forum, First Fridays Fort Wayne. I wanted to share the text of what I said on video. This is all about how we can stay connected during this quarantine environment that we are all hoping ends soon.
…We’ve moved meetings and events to Zoom and Skype platforms. We’ve been entertained by the sound of barking dogs, children asking a parent for something to eat, and squealing brakes of a garbage truck in front of our house while these meetings go on. We’ve hoped and prayed our internet speed holds up. We’ve been bombarded with emails, instant messages, and more meetings.
And we do all of this in relative isolation from each other.
We are suffering from what someone in our area has called technology fatigue.
Don’t get me wrong. Technology is great! But is cannot ultimately replace the face-to-face interactions that so many of us are missing.
So how can you stay connected professionally during this quarantine?
Talk with another leader outside of your company. Pick up the phone, Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, etc. Literally, talk with someone you were connected with prior to the quarantine. It does not have to be about work or your career. Just make a person-to-person contact. A friend called me the other day to ask some questions. It was SO GOOD to hear his voice. We need this kind of interaction. Just like the old telephone commercial says, “Reach out and touch someone.” (just don’t physically touch them…we’re not supposed to do that!) You get the jist…
LinkedIn connections. So many of you are on LinkedIn today. This is a great tool to stay connected. When you read someone’s post, comment on it. Send them a message.
Write a note and mail it. Let me say that again – write someone a note and mail it. That still works! Encourage someone. Tell them you are thinking of them. Ask them to pass this idea along and to send someone they know a similar note.
Email someone. About once a month, I send a few people an email thanking them for their contribution to our community. I thank them for how their company is positively impacting us all. It makes a difference in that person’s life. Try it.
Recommend a book to read or a podcast to listen to. Do this through your socially media channels. There are many of us out here who are looking for the next book to read or a podcast that will help us grow. You can be a resource for someone’s personal, professional growth.
Even in the midst of a quarantine, you can network. Attend a First Fridays online event. As I shared earlier, we have some great online events coming in May. Greater Fort Wayne (our local chamber of commerce) is offering a variety of sessions with flexible times/days to connect with others. Take advantage of these great opportunities. Make technology work for you to network!
Give back. We all know how devastating this quarantine has been. So many businesses are at risk of closing never to open again. I’ve driven by small businesses in town seeing their site closed with For Sale signs out front. Support local businesses in any way you can. Order carry out from local restaurants. Buy a t-shirt from them. Buy other products that they offer. Recently I order a t-shirt and hand sanitizer from Three Rivers Distillery Company here in Fort Wayne. It was a simple way to support a local company who has pivoted their business to serve the needs of our community. It was an investment of $24 from me to do this.
I hope that this quarantine comes to an end very soon. We need to get our economies going and growing again. But in the meantime, do what you can to connect with local leaders.
Let’s keep our community’s foundation strong. Encourage one another. Help one another.
I am reading John Maxwell’s book, Everyone Communicates, Few Connect. I highly recommend this book! As you may remember, I strive to read 10 pages each day which allows me to read most books in a month or less. This is book #6 for me since January 1 – yes, I sometimes read more than 10 pages per day! This is one of those books.
In today’s reading, John writes about connecting with others goes beyond the words we use. I particularly like the section he entitles “What People Feel – Connecting Emotionally”. I suppose this struck home with me because I need work in this area. Here are some points that I want to share that are making me think and act differently:
“The colossal misunderstanding of our time is the assumption that insight will work with people who are unmotivated to change….People can only hear you when they are moving toward you, and they are not likely to when your words are pursuing them. Even the choicest words lose their power when they are used to overpower.” (Rabbi Edwin H. Friedman)
“The exact words that you use are far less important than the energy, intensity, and conviction with which you use them.” (Jules Rose)
Effective communicators “pay attention to other people, and they desire to add value to them.”
Do you want to improve you communication skills in one-on-one, group, and audience settings? “You need to be positive, believe in yourself, and focus on others.”
These are just a few of the tidbits found in this great book. If you are looking for books to read in 2018, add this one to your list!
I have been reading the new book, The CEO Next Door, by Elena L. Botelho and Kim R. Powell. In today’s reading, I came across the phrase “become of detective.” The context of this speaks of when a leader is trying connect with their team, stakeholders, board members, customers, etc. Becoming a detective means to work to truly understand the other person’s perspective so great decisions can be made and meaningful directions can be set and navigated.
So what do the authors state as the key elements of becoming a detective?
Ask questions. Become curious. Asking versus telling will help you learn so much more about the other person’s values, needs, wants, concerns, etc.
Engage intellectually. No simple patronizing nods. Ask more probing questions. Follow up. Follow through.
Listen. Engaging intellectually means you are actively listening and asking great questions based upon what you have heard. Listening communicates to the other person you are investing in them – right now.
Gather information to understand. Don’t make decisions in a vacuum. Your actions of asking/listening are the vital part of your information gathering. And all of that should lead to better understanding the situation.
Harness what matters to them. Nothing frustrates customers/team members more as when a leader appears to have listened and then acts in a way that seems to ignore all of the previous interactions. If you truly want to connect with your customers/team members, harness what matters to them based upon your interactions with them.
This book will be available at the first of March. I received my copy through LeaderBox. Or you can follow this link to pre-order your copy today. It’s worth the read!
I shared some of these thoughts with someone just a moment again via email. I thought I would share this with you.
Are you the CEO, VP, Director, Manager, etc. on your team? If so, your team needs something from you. If you are in a team meeting, departmental meeting or all-company affair, don’t discount your impact in those moments.
I’m sure you know this is a plumb bob. It is used to insure accuracy in construction. A carpenter’s eye can deceive him. But a plumb bob cannot be “off”. The weight and gravity work in accordance with laws of physics. The plumb bob always shows what is in line/accurate.
Your team does not intend to ever “get off” the line (expectations) in their daily work. But it happens. Life events push in on them. Relationships in the office can become strained. We all can have bad days. Sometimes, a customer can be a jerk.
Our teams get off-kilter.
When you have your time in front of your team, it is a perfect time to help them re-calibrate. To hear and see the vision again. This is their plumb bob. And you get to hold the string.
You believe in your company’s vision/mission. Like it or not, your team looks to you at these key events to hold the string, remind them of their “calling”, spray a little Windex on the vision, and point all of your team’s ships in the same direction.
Be great at this.
That’s what your team needs from you. To be your best self. Your team all loves that, wants that, and needs that.