In their latest post for Fast Company online, management experts Scott and Ken Blanchard share that, “One of the big mistakes we see among otherwise promising managers is the self-limiting belief that they have to choose between results and people, or between their own goals and the goals of others. We often hear these people say, ‘I’m not into relationships. I just like to get things done.’”
“Cutting yourself off, or choosing not to focus on the people side of the equation, can—and will—be a problem that will impact your development as a leader.”
Have you inadvertently cut yourself off from your people? Many leaders have. It’s usually because of time pressures, or a single-minded focus on results—but sometimes it’s also a conscious choice to create “professional distance” that allows you the emotional room to make tough choices.
That’s a mistake say the Blanchards. “The best working relationships are partnerships. For leaders, this means maintaining a focus on results along with high levels of demonstrated caring.”
They go on to caution that, “The relationship foundation has to be in place first. It’s only when leaders and managers take the time to build the foundation that they earn the permission to be aggressive in asking people to produce results. The best managers combine high support with high levels of focus, urgency, and criticality. As a result, they get more things done, more quickly, than managers who do not have this double skill base.”
Don’t limit yourself—or others
Don’t limit yourself, or others, by focusing on just one half of the leadership equation. You don’t have to choose. In this case you can have it all. Create strong relationships focused on jointly achieving results. To read the complete article—including some tips on getting started—be sure to check out Getting Your Team Emotionally Engaged Is Half The Leadership Battle. Here’s How To Do It
Scott Blanchard, principal and executive vice president at The Ken Blanchard Companies calls it the new “F” word—feelings. And it is something that managers and organizations struggle with on a regular basis. Should you ask people to repress feelings and “check them at the door” or should you encourage people to bring their entire selves when they come to work?
Current research points to the benefit of employing people’s hearts as well as their hands. But to do that skillfully, managers and team leaders have to be prepared for all of the situations that occur when you truly engage people. If you want everything that people can offer, you have to deal with everything that people will bring.
Eryn Kalish, a professional mediator and relationship expert believes that there are two keys to successfully negotiating the emotional workplace. In an article for Blanchard’s Ignite! newsletter, Kalish identifies staying centered and open as the key skills. But what she has been seeing more commonly is an unbalanced approach where managers and organizations go to extremes.
As she explains, “Organizations are either taking a ‘confront everything, address it, and do it now’ overly intense approach, where there is no time or space to reflect, or they are taking a ‘let’s wait and see’ tactic, in hopes that the situation resolves itself, but in reality not dealing with difficult issues until it’s way too late.”
The wait and see strategy works occasionally, according to Kalish, although most of the time things get worse. “Plus, when something is left unaddressed, there is a cumulative organizational effect where everyone starts shutting down, living in a place of fear and contraction.”
That is a huge loss, from Kalish’s perspective, because most issues in companies are resolvable.
“If issues are handled directly, clearly, and in a timely manner, something new can emerge. That’s what I see that is so exciting,” she shares. “When people normalize these types of conversations, it is amazing to see the transformations that can occur.”
Next steps for leaders
For leaders looking to get started in improving their abilities, Kalish recommends assessing where you are currently at.
“It all depends on whether you have the skills to conduct a sensitive conversation. If you have the skills, take a cue from Nike and ‘Just do it!’ See what happens. If you do not have the skills, then it is important to get additional coaching or training.
“In any case, openness and transparency is the key. Many times it helps to just be candid with staff and saying, ‘I think that we have been avoiding this and I’d like that to change’ will help.
To learn more about Kalish’s thoughts on dealing effectively with emotion in the workplace, check out Dealing effectively with emotion-filled work environments in the August issue of Ignite. Also be sure to check out a free webinar Kalish is conducting on August 22, A Manager’s Guide to the Emotional Workplace: How to stay focused and balanced when dealing with sensitive issues. It’s a free event courtesy of Cisco WebEx and The Ken Blanchard Companies.
When asked for an example of what he meant by this, he said, “Well … we are asked to acknowledge the customer, get details about the situation, listen, ensure relationship building occurs, and exceed the customer’s expectations. But when I call my manager with a question, he just gives me an answer. For example, I needed to know if we could redo one of our customer policies given some new circumstances. My manager didn’t clarify, listen, or anything. He just said, ‘Follow the policy.’”
Chad’s observation intrigued me, as it made me realize that we forget sometimes how closely our people are watching us. I love the question: “What are people saying about YOU at the dinner table?” As service champions, to properly support our frontline service providers we must model the service we expect others to do—we must CRAFT a vision of collegiality.
C – Connect: Our role is to build relationships of care with the people who will be serving our customers. One of the kindest ways to bring people together is to acknowledge the importance of their position and note that they have the power to change problems they discover. “Thanks for bringing this to my attention. We want to ensure our policies and procedures serve the customers at the highest level. Let’s follow the policy today, but let’s bring this up at our weekly meeting to see if others have similar issues. Maybe we’ll come up with a great idea to solve the problem.”
R – Recognize: We need to recognize the good others are doing. Praise individuals to the whole team—send an email specifying what someone did, how it made you feel, and its importance to the organization. For example, let’s say the manager addresses the aforementioned issue at the weekly staff meeting. She could say, “I would like to take a minute to thank Chad for bringing up an issue that was driving a customer away and for providing his insights. It helped us to clarify our policy and exceed this customer’s expectations while creating a new policy to serve future customers at the highest level.”
A – Analyze: Consistently analyze information regarding customer issues so that you can see and share trends while proactively problem solving. At weekly meetings, be a catalyst for innovative change by having people share their issues, examine the causes and impact of those situations, and then brainstorm best possible solutions. Creating communities of practice increases motivation to act and serve.
F – Follow up: Check back in to be sure customer situations were resolved properly, and to draw out ideas that could be utilized in the future to build organizational intelligence. A few days after resolving the situation above regarding the flawed policy, the manager might call Chad and say, “I want to thank you again for bringing up that issue regarding the policy change. Did it feel to you like our solution was a success? Do you have any other thoughts?”
T – Talk: Ask open-ended questions, listen, and acknowledge emotion while connecting to the heart of the situation. In the example above when Chad called his manager, the manager might have asked, “Is there anything else you’d like to share so I am sure I understand the situation correctly?”
By collaborating with your service providers and unleashing their best thoughts, you are modeling the service you would like them to provide for their customers. As leader and service champion, you need to CRAFT, then showcase, the behaviors that will create the devoted customers who will become your #1 sales force.
About the author:
Vicki Halsey is one of the principal authors—together with Kathy Cuff—of The Ken Blanchard Companies’ Legendary Service training program. Their other-focused posts appear on the first and third Thursday of each month.
One of the hardest things for brilliant, technically proficient folks to realize is that as they assume more and more leadership responsibility they must depend on the help of others. And each of these “others” is an individual who needs to be seen, heard and understood.
One of the strategies you can use to map out all of the important relationships present in your work environment is to create a relationship map. To get started, take a large piece of paper, find a white board (though you want to be sure to keep this work private) or use mind-mapping software.
Begin by identifying your “prime objective.” What exactly are you trying to accomplish? What is the goal? (You may have several, so do a map for each objective.)
Now, draw a space for each person who might be affected by what you are doing. Include senior leaders, colleagues in your industry, peers in other departments, direct reports, functional reports, and dotted line team leads—anyone who might matter. Don’t worry about going overboard—you can always scale back—but you might be surprised at what you find when you get the big picture perspective.
Ask yourself some key questions
Once you have exhausted all of the possibilities, think about each person in turn and identify the following:
- What are their main goals/objectives? How will it serve them for to you succeed? Fail?
- What do you need from them? How can they help you? Hurt you?
- What is their style? How will you need to communicate with them to influence them? Are they visual, kinesthetic, auditory? Do they like a lot of detail or do they want the executive summary?
- What regard do they have for you? Do they like, respect, trust you?
- How do you feel about them? Do you harbor judgments about this person that they might be picking up on? What assumptions might you be making about them that you haven’t checked out?
Next, create a mini-action plan around each person. What are some of the things you can do to build relationships and better understand the people who are crucial to your success?
Action plans can include spending time together, going to the person to ask for advice, or pick up the phone simply to get their opinion about something. You can also plan to go to lunch, drop by cubicles that are not on your regular path, or include key people in relevant emails.
If there are some past misunderstandings, and you are comfortable with addressing it, you can even consider going to lunch with others to “name it and claim it.”
Your action plan should also pay attention to how people use language. It allows you to understand better what is important to others, what they focus on, how they think, and how they approach things.
Take the time
Thinking things through in this much detail requires a great deal of discipline, but the kind of discoveries you can make by thinking things through with this kind of specificity are rich and useful. Even though no one likes to think of himself or herself as a political animal, I have yet to meet a leader who can afford to be politically naïve about work relationships.
Many have been sabotaged by the move from the left that they never saw coming. Taking the time to map relationships and understand how these may or may not be serving your aims allows you to maximize your potential and the potential of others.
About the author:
This is one in a series of LeaderChat articles on the topic of executive development by Madeleine Homan Blanchard, co-founder of Blanchard Certified, For more of her insights , visit the Blanchard Certified blog or via Twitter @BlanchardCert
Catching someone doing things right is one of the most rewarding and enjoyable things a manager gets to do. It shows people that you’re paying attention, that their work matters to you, and most importantly, it shows that you care about them.
However, there are three times when it is not appropriate to praise someone. In fact, praising in any of these three instances will often end up doing more harm than good. In all three cases the deciding factor isn’t the situation, but instead, it’s the attitude of the manager.
When you don’t really know what’s going on. Offering general praise without any specific examples highlights the fact that you aren’t paying attention and you aren’t really sure what someone is working on. Instead of being a positive, this type of “you’re doing great” praise only serves as a reminder, and not a good one.
When you’re using praise as a way to get something in return. This can be as obvious as buttering someone up, or it can be as subtle as using praise as a reward. You don’t want to use praise as a carrot, and you don’t want to withhold praise as a punishment. Praise when it is used like this is a form of coercion. People will smell this out and resent this type of backhanded control. Eventually it will come back to bite you.
When you are hoping to use praise as a substitute for something else—a pay raise for example. People want to be recognized and know that you care, but they also want to be paid. You need to address each separately. Praise can enhance the good things that are going on in a work environment but it won’t cover over issues such as pay, growth opportunities, and workload balance.
Praise when it is done right should be fun, light, and spontaneous. It should be as natural as breathing. If you find yourself over-thinking praise, wondering how it will be received, or what the person will think and do as a result, take a minute to double-check your motives.
Genuine praise focused on the employee is always welcome. Using praise as a means to your own ends is a subtle form of manipulation. Don’t cross the line. Use praise the right way. Show genuine appreciation and let people know that you really care.
Today is Martin Luther King Day in the United States, a time to reflect back on the life and teachings of the great civil rights leader and activist. While most of us will not be called to engage in social activism on the scale that Dr. King did, we can still have a great impact on the people around us through our actions and behaviors.
Here are three ways to honor the spirit of Dr. King’s message in your corner of the world.
Be inclusive. It’s never a good idea to create artificial divisions between people even though, as humans, we seem to love to do it. People have a fundamental need, and a right, to be included in decisions that affect them. No one likes to be left out. Go out of your way to bring people into the process.
Listen. Once you’ve brought people together, make sure that you take the next step and truly listen to them. One of our favorite reminders for leaders is to occasionally stop and remember the acronym WAIT—Why Am I Talking? And one of our favorite recommendations for leaders is to “listen with the intent of being influenced.” Use both in your interactions with people.
Act with integrity. Even though people may not always agree with the final outcome, it’s important that we always agree with, and respect, the process. Leaders need to be especially conscientious in monitoring the ways that decisions are reached. Resist the tendency to cut corners. Ken Blanchard recommends that leaders hold themselves to a high standard by using a 3-step ethics check with all major decisions. Start with the basics—is it legal and is it fair? Then hold yourself to a higher standard by asking, “Would you be proud if your decision-making process and result was published and widely known?”
As you go back to work this week, take a minute to review the way you are interacting with people. Are you including all stakeholders in the process? Are you truly listening to everyone’s ideas and concerns? Are you being fair and ethical in the way you are making decisions and allocating resources?
Today, more than ever, we need a process that includes, instead of excludes, people. See what you can do in your areas of influence this week. You’ll be surprised at the difference you can make.
“Make sure that people understand your reasoning and process. If you decide that some information is just too sensitive to share openly, that’s okay. Just be sure that the process you use isn’t seen as secretive. In the absence of openness, people will imagine the worst,” says Scott Blanchard in a recent column for Fast Company.
One area where companies often run into trouble with this is sharing information about employee compensation. Most companies keep actual salaries confidential but that doesn’t mean that the process of determining salaries has to be confidential also, explains Blanchard. “If you have a good reason for paying at the level you do, let people know. Keeping it a secret doesn’t help things. It just causes unnecessary discontent.”
A Case in Point
To illustrate his point, Blanchard shares a story about the experience of a CEO who serves on the company’s board of directors. This CEO went through something just like this when an internal employee survey showed dissatisfaction about the fairness of pay in his company. This was really frustrating to the CEO, who believed that the company’s pay scales were well above industry averages.
“It was purely an openness issue,” explains Blanchard. “The company had been operating fairly for a long time but leadership had not taken the time to fully disclose the way they were making decisions. When they eventually did disclose the process, perceptions went up.”
For this company, the first step was to conduct a highly visible and transparent study with an outside firm to analyze the company’s whole compensation system.
“What it showed was that the company’s base pay levels were almost exactly at the 50th percentile for organizations of a similar size and with the same demographics. It also showed that the company had a generous bonus plan in place available to all employees. The bonus plan, together with the base pay, resulted in employees being compensated at the 75th percentile–well above average.
“Armed with this information, the leadership team went on an organization-wide campaign to talk about the procedure they used to determine pay scales and the rigor they used in applying it. As a result, they were able to change people’s perceptions of the level of compensation in the organization and its relative fairness. Because people had a greater understanding about the way pay scales were determined, they had a better capacity to understand and accept the results, even though they still wished—like all of us—that they were making a little more.”
How open is your company when it comes to sharing information about how decisions are reached?
Are you more of an “open book” or a “closed book” culture? Remember that your approach will have a definite impact on employee’s perceptions of fairness.
As Blanchard concludes, “When people aren’t able to point to a process that is known, published, and understandable, they start to make up their own stories. If there isn’t clarity about the way decisions are made, the stories people make up are typically a lot worse than reality.”
You can read Scott Blanchard’s entire column in Fast Company, The Just-Right Approach To Social Media And Transparency, And What It Says About Your Company and also check out Blanchard’s other thoughts on compensation at The Role Money Plays in Engaging Employees. To read more about money’s role in creating an overall engaging work environment, download the new Blanchard white paper, Employee Work Passion: Connecting the Dots
The most prestigious leadership position this country has to offer is that of the President of the United States. And while it may be the most prestigious, few would disagree that it is also the most heavily scrutinized. Fair or unfair, public opinion of the President’s job performance shifts regularly due to any number of factors. Yet at any given time, we can quickly see what the general public thinks about the President’s job performance by looking at their approval rating.
I’ve always found this concept of a President’s approval rating to be fascinating. After all, it is extremely subjective and based on an incredibly small sample size but it is widely accepted as a relatively accurate reflection of how we all feel. This practice of using public opinion polls to determine an approval rating was introduced over 65 years ago by the Gallup organization and it’s hard to dispute their findings. In reviewing the historical approval ratings for the last dozen Presidents, it appears to be a pretty accurate representation.
My assumption is that a President doesn’t obsess over their approval rating. That said there must be value in having a quick snapshot of where you stand in the eyes of your people. Imagine one day having a 90% approval rating, making an important decision, and then the next day seeing your approval rating drop to 40%. Obviously, there’s a take-away there that could impact your subsequent courses of action. Now that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to reverse your decision but perhaps it may cause you to re-examine your methods of communication regarding the decision you made.
This has me thinking about other practical applications for leadership approval ratings. Is there a place in corporate America for leadership approval ratings? We regularly hear about the need for greater transparency in organizations. If your CEO were to begin tracking and publicizing their approval rating on your company intranet, what impact would that have on the organization and your CEO? Furthermore, if there’s value to be found in an approval rating for the President, or your CEO, wouldn’t there also be value to be found at other levels of leadership throughout the organization?
I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts around a corporate leadership approval rating in the comment section below. And, visit Why Lead Now tomorrow for part 2 where we’ll discuss ways for you to begin thinking about your own leadership approval rating.
Adam Morris is a featured blogger at Why Lead Now, one of LeaderChat’s sister blogs, focusing on the next generation of leaders.
Establishing trusted relationships is a critical imperative for leadership success today. A key way to develop trust with those you lead is by being vulnerable. I’m not talking about getting on the proverbial therapist’s couch and telling your direct reports all of your deep, inner secrets. I’m talking about disclosing appropriate and relevant amounts of information about yourself over the course of time as relationships grow and develop.
In his latest book, Getting Naked, author Patrick Lencioni discusses three fears that keep us from being vulnerable…from “getting naked.” Lencioni discusses these fears in the context of sabotaging client relationships, but the lessons are equally relevant for leaders in regards to developing trust with their followers. Leaders sabotage trust by giving in to the following fears:
- The fear of losing followership (“business” in the context of Lencioni’s parable about client relationships) – The business of a leader is influencing others to achieve their personal goals and those of the organization. Sometimes leaders fear being vulnerable because it could be perceived as a sign of weakness, or evidence that their leadership isn’t needed. Leaders can conquer this fear by being “other-focused” rather than self-focused and remembering that their top priority is to help others succeed. When your followers believe you have their best interests in mind, they will trust you and give you the discretionary energy and commitment that is essential for organizational success.
- The fear of being embarrassed - Many leaders are afraid they will be embarrassed by not having all the right answers or being proven wrong in public. To prevent embarrassment, leaders play their cards close to the vest, don’t share information with others, and don’t allow participation in decision-making. Creating a culture where mistakes are celebrated as learning opportunities, risk taking is encouraged, and stupid or obvious questions encouraged will help allay this fear and lead to higher levels of trust in leaders’ relationships.
- The fear of feeling inferior - This fear is rooted in the leader’s ego. Ken Blanchard likes to say that EGO stands for “edging good out.” Leaders do this by focusing on their reputation and social standing and pushing all other interests aside. These kinds of leaders often derive their self-worth from the successes they achieve and the applause of adoring fans. Trusted leaders overcome this fear by cultivating an attitude of humility. Humility doesn’t mean that you think less of yourself. It means you think about yourself less. You build trust by keeping the focus on the goals of the team and the needs of your followers and not worrying about who gets the credit for success.
The bottom line effect of getting naked with your followers is that you’ll develop trusted relationships that will fuel the success of your team and organization.
This is one in a series of LeaderChat articles on the topic of trust by Randy Conley, Trust Practice Leader at the Ken Blanchard Companies. For more insights on trust, visit the Leading with Trust blog or follow Randy on Twitter @RandyConley.
As leaders, sometimes we blow it. Sometimes we break trust by exhibiting poor judgment or poor behavior. Randy Conley, Trust Practice Leader at The Ken Blanchard Companies calls those occurrences “trustbusters.”
Minding your A,B,C, and D’s—Ability, Believability, Connectedness, and Dependability
Trustbusters are behaviors that erode trust among direct reports and colleagues. Some common examples are when we don’t demonstrate expertise in our jobs, and don’t achieve results which causes people to lose faith in our Ability.
We also “bust trust” when we break confidences, tell lies of convenience, or gossip about others. This impacts our Believability.
Another trustbuster is when we don’t listen. It’s hard sometimes to pay attention when we’re in conversation with people. Your mind starts to wander, or you find yourself thinking about the next meeting. When we don’t listen, or show interest in others, or recognize others, that erodes trust by eroding our Connection with people.
Finally, as leaders we sometimes bust trust when we don’t follow through on commitments by being disorganized or unreliable which undermines people’s perception of our Dependability.
How can you go about rebuilding broken trust?
There are five key things that we can do to rebuild trust, says Conley. Conley calls them the 5 “A’s.”
- “The first thing is that we need to Acknowledge that there’s been a breach of trust,” says Conley. “It’s like they say in a twelve-step program, the first thing you have to do is acknowledge that you have a problem. You’ve got to acknowledge the situation exists.
- “Second you have to Admit your part in the breach of trust. You have to own up to whatever you did that caused that loss of trust with that individual.”
- “Third you have to Apologize for it—and if I were to add another key, I would say that you also have to make amends, so apologize and make amends for whatever you did to break the trust.”
- “Fourth you have to Assess. And that means using the ABCD model to assess what you did and what were the core elements of trust that you broke and what can you do centered around those behaviors to help rebuild trust?”
- “And then finally, you have to Agree on an action plan with the person that you broke trust with. You have to agree on what you’re going to do differently moving forward to help rebuild trust.”
Trust is a very delicate thing that takes a significant amount of time to build and can be broken in just an instant. But it is possible to repair and rebuild trust. But you have to address it immediately. Don’t let a mistake in judgment turn into an indictment of character.
Conley likes to quote a Chinese proverb to help leaders understand trust and timing. The proverb says that, “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is today.” Don’t let trust issues fester in your organization or in your relationships. Address them today.
To learn more about Conley’s thoughts on improving trust—including the one behavior that all leaders can address immediately—read The Leader’s Role in Building Trust.
Or listen to a recording of a free webinar that Conley conducted on June 15, Four Leadership Behaviors that Build or Destroy Trust. (Over 800 people attended this free webinar courtesy of The Ken Blanchard Companies and Cisco WebEx.)