The Ripple Effect at Work

I’m leading a couple of groups at work that I’m calling “Emerging Leaders”.  I meet with both groups for just 1 hour each week.  Currently, we are working through Jeff Olson’s book, The Slight Edge.  Starting in November, we will be studying John Maxwell’s The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth.

For today’s session, we will be discussing the Ripple Effect.  Olson explains this:

“When you create positive improvements in your life, you create positive ripples that spread out all around you, like a pebble of positivity dropped in a pond.”

And the ripple effect can impact others to do the same…

“When you reach out and positively affect one other person through your interactions and words, you create a slight change in that person, who is then more likely to reach out and positively affect someone else.  Simply put, one touches another,                    who touches another, who touches another.”

Are you looking for improvements within your team?  Are you overwhelmed at the thought of moving the entire team to better results, increased improvement?

Take the time to invest in a couple key team members who are positive influencers.  Help them see their potential.  Give them solid tools for success.  Fan their flames.

If they are truly people of influence, the ripple effect can work.  As these key team members demonstrate positive results, work habits, healthy collaboration, this can ripple to others.  As you coach all of your team, encourage growth and development.  Point out the positive and address what needs to improve.  But get your team to work together towards success.  Make this your culture within your department.

The ripple effect can work for you.

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Power Follow-Ups for Leaders & Their Teams by Jim Johnson

From an earlier post…

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Observation coaching involves something called “power follow ups”. If you see or hear something that is not the standard you set for your staff member, try the following:

You observe an employee, Joe, waiting on a member. During the interaction, the employee rarely made eye contact and he did not use the customer’s name (both standards for your company). As soon as the customer walks away from the transaction, turn to Joe and say (quietly to them directly), “Joe, I noticed that while that customer was here, you hardly made eye contact with them. You also did not use their name. We’ve been trained that those 2 simple interaction skills make a big difference in how we build important relationships with our customers. I’ll be here observing the next several transactions. I need you to work on those 2 skills. In a while, I’ll give you my feedback on how you did. I know you can do this.”

Do you think Joe will make the changes? You bet! He knows that you know how he is interacting. You just witnessed it. He also knows that you are intentionally watching him and that he now has his marching orders. After several more interactions with customers, watch what happens in the following interactions:

Joe begins to make eye contact, intentionally uses the customer’s name and even smiles.Here’s your power follow-up, “I knew you could do it, Joe! That was great. Did you see how Mrs. Jones responded to you? She even asked you some additional questions that allowed you to talk about that new product. You’ve proven you can do this. Remember, our commitment is to do this at every encounter every day. It will become habit. Super job, Joe. I appreciate your concentration on this.”

You have just provided immediate, specific feedback on your employee’s performance.

He performed + you observed + you praised = a power follow-up

Chances are he will become more consistent with his customer interactions. By the way, don’t make this the last time you ever observe this employee on this issue.

Observing coupled with a power follow-up also works with negative behavior. The secret here is to give your power follow-up in a more private environment such as your office or a side room away from other employees. You never want to embarrass a team member in front of others on the team. It will only demotivate or anger that person.

As someone once said, “you have to inspect what you expect” and that means getting out and observing.

Do you have a “Mother, may I?” Culture? by Jim Johnson

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I recently heard John Stossel make the following statement concerning government:  “when we have a “mother, may I” government, innovation and creativity dies.”  He went on to say that when people are over-burdened with regulations, fewer and fewer people will fight the current to find a better way to do business.  This got me thinking…

Do you have a “Mother, may I?” culture at your company?

  • The staff is petrified to act in the best interest of your customers because they may “get in trouble” for acting first instead of asking first.
  • Your team comes to you constantly throughout the day to get permission to act, get involved, decide on ____________.
  • You have employees who’ve been in their positions for years and they have not generated a new idea, initiative, suggestion, etc.
  • Your team waits for you – the manager, VP, CEO – to decide what to do next.  Until then, nobody moves.

In 2008, I spoke at a national credit union conference at Disney World.  One of the keynote speakers was the former CEO of Mountain America Credit Union (Utah).  In his early days, he once observed teller interactions with members in the lobby of the main branch.  He stated that at almost every interaction, the tellers excused themselves, walked over to their manager’s office and then returned and finished the transaction.  After several interactions, he walked over to one of the tellers and asked why they continued to seek out the manager.  He was told that the manager had to approve almost anything a teller did.  He soon found out that this was happening all over the credit union.

“We had created a sluggish, ineffective bureaucracy here. I set out to change it.”  He did.  The credit union’s assets more than doubled under this man’s leadership in about 12 years.  They acquired several smaller credit unions.  Their business now spans 4 states.

So here’s the question for you:  How do you change from a company of “Mother, may I?” to one that empowers its staff to think, innovate, create, and serve your customers?

I’d love to read your thoughts.  Please share them!

Approaches to Conflict by Jim Johnson

How do you approach conflict at work?

  • I make sure I’m always right.
  • I don’t listen to other points of view.
  • I run for the hills.

We all experience conflict and we all tend to respond (react?) to it via our default approach.  And that could be good or bad.  What if you could choose the right approach for the right situation?  That’s what Dr. Gaylen Paulson (Univ. Texas) suggests.  He points out various styles in a manager’s approach to conflict.

To preface, Dr. Paulson states that many times choosing a style is dependent upon our own personal preferences.  We’re just more comfortable with certain styles.  A lot of the time, our approach can be somewhat situational – different approaches are more appropriate in different situations.  He suggests that the best style depends on the situation – but there are upside and downsides to each of the styles.  Here they are:

1.        Compromise

Take caution here.  This approach can often lead to a lose-lose strategy and really is only good for one issue – not a habitual approach to conflict.  Compromise doesn’t lead to complex solutions and it can really come across as fair.  However, compromise can also communicate that you’re not really that concerned about the issue or the outcome.  Be careful not to be “seduced” by this quick solution.

2.        Accommodation

Here, relationships matter more than the material outcomes.  Dr. Paulson points out that there will be more time and energy required to reach this point in resolving conflict.  A manager could come across as too “soft” which can tarnish their reputation going forward.  And as a result of that, resentment – from others on your team – can build.  Accommodation can come across as favoritism.

3.        Avoidance

I had a leader once tell me that he really tried to avoid conflict after we were talking about a direct report of his who had been behaving badly. Their behavior was not kept in check and it negatively impacted the company.  I asked him, “So, how’s that working out for you?”

If you choose avoidance, this can also make you look like you don’t care about the issue or the person(s) involved.  Others will take note of your avoidance, too.  That’s not always positive.

However, Dr. Paulson states that sometimes the timing is always right to deal with this conflict.  Instead of jumping right in and battling it out, a manager needs to prepare for the conflict.  And that’s ok as long as it’s not habitual.

4.        Problem Solving

If all participants in the conflict are willing to cooperate, this can be an affective approach to resolving conflict.  Multiple issues are usually involved and, as such, this will take more time and effort on the manager’s part.  Dr. Paulson states that the manager must be patient and will to endure a struggle as the problems are communicated and worked through.

5.        Competing

Here, a manager is trying to get a quick decision.  He/She has all of the “high power players” assembled in a meeting to tackle the conflict.  Many times, this approach is used when there are unpopular decisions that have been made and there is a need for control.  This approach may not end in a heart-felt buy-in, but more of a agree-to-disagree – but then move forward as one.

When confronting and dealing with conflict, Dr. Paulson encourages managers to:

  • Understand their environment and team
  • Communicate your motives
  • Gather your evidence and be very specific
  • Focus on explicit behaviors that are clearly wrong – do not focus on the person, but the behaviors

As a manager, you are working to move your team and your company forward.  Conflict will happen.  How you deal with it will determine your ultimate success.

 

Failure + Excuses ≠ Success

How to Win Over a Skeptic by Susan Mazza

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In Leading Skeptics and Believers I suggest that if you want to cause change, focus first on the “believers.” While many agreed with that point of view, there was a lot of discussion about what to do with the skeptics.

Some believe you should just ignore them. Others believe you have to at least try to enroll them. While I do believe you should focus your energy on the believers, especially in the beginning of any new endeavor, I also don’t think skeptics can or should be ignored.

In fact, many people are skeptical because of past experience and they just don’t want to set themselves up for disappointment. When a leader makes a commitment to progress and change, and does not follow through they can actually leave the organization worse off than if they never even began. This is because the believers of yesterday, once let down or even scorned, will often become the skeptics of tomorrow.

There are of course those who are more committed to their skepticism than they are to progress. They are usually pretty easy to spot because in every encounter they will throw up reasons why not and other roadblocks to progress and conversations usually end in a debate that is never resolved.

Then there are the cynics – the people who are not only skeptical, but committed to ensuring no one succeeds. Given their commitment to proving themselves right that “this will never work,” success will naturally drive these folks out of the organization or cause a profound change of heart. I’ve witnessed both. And I can tell you that those who experience the profound change of heart become the most ardent supporters, while those who don’t and leave are not missed.

3 Things You Can Do to Win Over a Skeptic:

Read the rest here: http://randomactsofleadership.com/how-to-win-over-a-skeptic/

“My Co-Workers Are Like Zombies” and Other Survey Items I’d Like to See by Dr. Marla Gottschalk

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Over the years, I’ve reviewed (and written) my fair share of items for attitude surveys and culture assessments. These instruments can be pivotal — serving as a barometer of sentiment within an organization. The data can help us understand shifting attitudes among contributors and the general state of “well-being” within an organization. Moreover, the data sets are often utilized to explore dynamic constructs such as job involvement, organizational commitment, job satisfaction and engagement — topics which we strive to fully understand.

The best of survey items are honest, to the point and utilize a “conversational” tone. It actually takes quite a bit of thought to write an item that effectively “captures” the spirit of a construct — and in this medium, items can sometimes appear uninspired or “flat”. Avoiding this problem often involves creative strategies. Stephen Race, an organizational psychologist who crafted a culture assessment for Jiibe, contracted a TV and film writer to edit the items he created to become more engaging. (A great idea. You can see examples of the items below marked with an asterisk.) Interestingly, each writer has their own style — some direct — some incorporating a bit of dry humor behind the core message. A few of the more “direct” items about leadership that I have drafted have been met with a moment of pause. (But happily, the items were eventually included in the final survey instrument.) Ultimately, the hope is to connect with employees and attain an honest view of their work environment.

Classic items such as “Overall, how satisfied are you with your job?”, will always prove useful. However, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at some of the more candidly worded items I’ve seen over the years — and a few I’d like to see going forward. The items touch on varied workplace topics; leadership, feedback, decisions, work spaces, stress, and engagement.

A few items to consider, for your next survey:

I honestly don’t know who is running the show around here.
People don’t speak up here, even if they have something valuable to add.
My work aligns with my strengths.
I do the same mind-numbing tasks, over and over again.*
My colleagues are like family to me.
I avoid my boss.
I brag about the work we do in this organization.
I’m not sure that my boss knows my last name.
There are so many interruptions during my day, I find it difficult to work.
Sometimes we are so tired around here that we can’t see straight.
My boss asks me how I am doing.
I dread going to work.
People here say they are teams players, but in reality they are not.
I wouldn’t recognize our company CEO, if seated next to me.
The organization learns from its mistakes. It makes changes based on what it has learned.*
No one stops to say “thank you” in this organization.
It has been forever since my manager has told me I have done a good job.
I am recognized for what I am doing right, not wrong.
If I had my way, I wouldn’t work on another team.
I can expect to be rescued by my coworkers, if I’m drowning in work.*
People in this organization have a high level emotional intelligence.
Meetings around here are so useless, that I often feel like screaming.
My ideas are valued.
As far as the quality of my work goes, I have no idea where I stand.
I often leave work thinking that I never want to go back.
I’ve grown as a contributor since I’ve worked here.
In my opinion, open offices are “for the birds”.
Sometimes I am so focused on my work, that I delay using the restroom.

Finally, here is one from the Jiibe culture assessment, that captures a telling observation.

My co-workers are like zombies — at least like the kind of zombies who don’t joke around or have any fun.*
What are the best (and worst) items that you’ve seen? What items would you like to see? Share them with us.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist. She also writes The Office Blend.

https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20130628141223-128811924-my-co-workers-are-like-zombies-and-other-survey-items-i-d-like-to-see?utm_source=buffer&utm_campaign=Buffer&utm_content=buffer6f4e9&utm_medium=twitter&_mSplash=1

Smart Tribe Leadership

I’ve just begun reading Christine Comaford’s book, Smart Tribes (Portfolio/Penguin, 2013).  Here’s an excerpt from the first chapter. This is a timely book for me personally and professionally. 

the “American workforce where 71% of workers are emotionally disengaged and simply working for the money, we know it’s essential to fix our state of so-called leadership…True leadership inspires people with vision.  Vision pulls people not only to take action but also to care about the outcome, to take personal ownership of it, and to bring their ‘A game’ every day. 

The team benefits tremendously too.  As the leader grows in focus, team members feel the leader is increasingly more aware and cares about them more….As the leader’s influence grows, the team members feel the leader is more capable and collaborative.  Over time as results are sustained, team members feel safer and more loyal.”

Sounds great, doesn’t it?!  You can find this book on Amazon at this link.  

 

Click here to learn more about Christine and her work. 

 

Follow Christine on Twitter @comaford

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