A massive Gallup employee engagement survey found that there is no more important job satisfaction predictor than whether an employee has recently had a conversation about how they’re doing on the job. Yet a large percentage of employees at all levels crave more feedback from their managers than they receive. This is what Anna Carroll, author of The Feedback Imperative, found when she interviewed 2100 individuals in the workplace. (http://bit.ly/morefeedback)
Feedback is information, and all of us--especially Millennials--are used to processing massive amounts of it daily. So why are employees kept in the dark about their own performance? Carroll says many reasons are emotional: Fear, avoidance, and fight-or-flight stress on the part of managers prevent them from delivering feedback--sometimes outsourcing the process completely and promoting “an anonymous feedback culture.”
One excuse managers give is that feedback will cause unhappiness and lead to turnover. But exactly the opposite is true. We believe the dissatisfaction caused by lack of feedback dissipates when managers are properly trained in the art of giving feedback, including our Raising Delicate Issues model.
We want to hear. Are you getting enough feedback from your manager? How would you improve the feedback process in your organization? Join the conversation and click "comments" on our Community of Practice Forum
Image Credit: Het Nieuwe Instituut https://www.flickr.com/photos/thenewinstitute/
The art of storytelling in business has been getting quite the buzz lately. For decades we have introduced this skill in our Persuasion and Influence course. But as storytelling consultant Shawn Callahan, who works with Global 1000 companies including Shell, IBM, and Microsoft, says, “We see lots of people talking about stories but very few telling them.”
Callahan says understanding the simple framework of a story will help.
How do you know if you’ve got a viable story?
*A story begins with a time or place marker (when/where did it happen?).
*It recounts an event, with feeling.
*It includes dialogue (“And then he said…”).
*It has a business point (the reason for telling the story is…).
People pay attention when you tell a story – and stories are remembered. So mining your experience for stories is time well spent. We want to hear! Have you told or heard a good story recently? What was its impact? Join the conversation and click "comments" on our Community of Practice Forum.
Image Credit: AZ https://www.flickr.com/photos/azrasta/
If you say, “Let’s go around the room” in a meeting, you've failed, according to Seth Godin, author of the books Linchpin and Purple Cow. Says Godin, “You've abdicated responsibility and just multiplied the time wasted by the number of people in the room.” (http://bit.ly/bestmeetings)
We agree that this approach to meetings can be counterproductive, because many of us stop listening. We become completely caught up in our own heads, rehearsing what we are going to say in order to sound impressive--or drifting away to something more entertaining.
As we’ve long said, meeting facilitators should find ways to invite quieter people into the conversation, but a better way to do this is to give each person 45 seconds to offer a PRES (Point, Reason, Example, Summary) statement (check out our 7/29/2014 Capsule). Also encourage active listening and interaction. If you find yourself in a “go around the room” scenario, you can make the best of it by paying attention, asking open-ended questions, and paraphrasing. Resist the temptation to tune out or plan your “moment in the sun.” Deeply listening to what others are saying and staying plugged in allows you to be an emergent leader.
We want to hear. What ideas do you have for getting group members connected and updated without the boredom and wasted time of long “go around the room” scenarios? Join the conversation and click "comments" on our Community of Practice Forum.
Image Credit: Acumen https://www.flickr.com/photos/acumenfund/
Are you getting enough acknowledgment for your hard work and commitment? If not, it could be because you are reluctant to take credit. A study in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin suggests the “Imposter Syndrome” might be at play. That’s when high-achieving people don't feel they deserve the success that they have earned and so they divert the credit onto others.
Sure it’s great to be a team player, but a little self-promotion can also be important. A recent article by Cornell psychology professor Peggy Drexler (http://bit.ly/brag3) suggests three ways to highlight your accomplishments: 1) acknowledge your achievements internally; 2) inform your boss directly of exactly what you did even while acknowledging your team; 3) enlist a “co-bragger” to call out your successes while you do the same in return.
We have long pointed out the many benefits of acknowledging co-workers, but failing to acknowledge yourself is needless self-handicapping. Owning your success need not undermine your team, and it isn’t boastful if it’s true.
We want to hear: Are you ever reluctant to point out your own accomplishments—and, if so, why? Have you seen others being successful at self-promotion while still being team players? What might you do to promote yourself going forward? Join the conversation and click "comments" below.
Image Credit: Dan Meineck
Does your boss regularly email you a high-priority assignment or question at midnight? If so, your productivity may be negatively affected.
Jennifer Deal, a senior research scientist at the Center for Creative Leadership, surveyed white-collar workers and found most were tied to email13.5 hours a day, well into the evening -- some not even taking a break during dinner. What haunts such workers is the expectation that they are supposed to reply immediately, no matter the hour, or face dire consequences. This endless, reflexive checking comes from dread—not true engagement.
This research (http://nyti.ms/1puscUX) discovered that continual emailing often masks poor management practices. When employees face endless questions and “cc’s” to every team member about each niggling detail, they often don’t feel empowered to make decisions. In contrast, when employees are actually empowered, they make more judgment calls and start using phone and face-to-face conversations to resolve issues quickly.
Limiting workplace email is actually a trend in high-productivity Germany, where Volkswagen and Deutsche Telekom have adopted policies that limit work-related email during evenings and weekends. Can it happen in the U.S.? Only if it comes from the top. We believe that leaders should assess their use of email and make sure they are not inadvertently using it as an enabler of timidity and procrastination.
We want to hear! Are you tethered to email 24/7? What changes in email policy, if any, would you like to see in your organization? Join the conversation and click "comments" below.
Image Credit: Theen Moy https://www.flickr.com/photos/theenmoy/
We have previously blogged about expansive body language as an expression of power and confidence. But what should your body convey when you want to encourage engagement and inspire and express confidence in your team? In Forbes (http://onforb.es/1peKVES) Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D. discusses the link between body language and leadership.
To encourage collaboration, she says, it’s critical to pay attention when others are speaking. Leaders should adopt open body postures (no crossed arms or legs), lean forward, align their bodies with and mirror the stance of the person with whom they are speaking. She also acknowledges the importance of nodding—noting that research shows people will talk three to four times more than usual when the listener nods in clusters of three.
We endorse these suggestions—and contend that they will also make you more persuasive. Be especially mindful to pay attention. Giving in to the temptation to sneak a peek at your phone (or let your mind drift away from the conversation) will result in broken eye contact and broken rapport.
What body language cues do you look for to tell whether someone values and respects what you say? What body language tip would you give your boss if you could? Join the conversation: click "comments" below.
Image Credit: Kevin Dooley https://www.flickr.com/photos/pagedooley/
Do you perform better at tasks you find both interesting and meaningful? You are not alone. Recounting her research in The New York Times (http://nyti.ms/1tWZtQh) Paula A. O’Keefe, assistant professor of psychology at Yale-NUS College in Singapore, describes an experiment where she and a colleague asked a group of undergraduates to work on word puzzles. “Before they began, we had them tell us how exciting and enjoyable they thought the task would be. Then they read a statement that framed the task as either personally valuable or of neutral value.”
Those who read the first statement, and who also thought the task would be enjoyable, solved the most problems. It wasn’t simply because their interest made them want to work longer. Their engagement was more efficient because they were focused and “in the zone.” A follow-up study showed that this group was also the least “mentally exhausted”(as measured by their ability to squeeze a hand-grip after the task was done). By contrast, those who were uninterested in the task not only performed worse, but also were mentally fatigued.
The lesson: liking our work matters! Leaders of any sort (managers, teachers, parents) should do all they can to frame work in a meaningful context—not only in terms of its immediate end but also its broader impact. Why is this work significant? What part does it play in achieving a greater goal? And—because related research shows that social engagement can foster interest—whom will it help?
We want to hear. Does your performance improve when you enjoy what you do? How do you motivate others to see work as interesting and meaningful? Join the conversation: click "comments" below.
Image Credit: Sebastaan ter Burg https://www.flickr.com/photos/ter-burg/
The pernicious effects of a bullying boss can replicate like a virus, says a new study in The Journal of Social Psychology (http://bit.ly/1C1qlQh). Abusive bosses not only demoralize employees in their direct line of fire, but also demoralize the co-workers of those they mistreat.
The study, which examined 233 workers, looked at the effects of second-hand or “vicarious” abuse--the impact of simply hearing rumors about how badly a boss treated a colleague. Results revealed that both personally experienced and vicarious abuse had negative impacts. Second-hand abuse, like firsthand, lowers employees’ effectiveness as well as their opinion of the organization as a whole. “When vicarious abusive supervision is present,” the authors write, “employees realize that the organization is allowing this negative treatment to exist, even if they are not experiencing it directly.” What leaders permit, they promote.
We agree with the study’s authors, who recommend that managers take a close look at the impact of their styles and the ripple effects of those styles throughout their organizations. Toxicity starts at the top, but then—unfortunately—takes on a life of its own.
We want to hear. Have you been impacted by abusive firsthand or “second-hand” supervision? How does it affect you and your organization’s culture? Join the conversation and click "comments" on our Community of Practice Forum.
We recently blogged about the abysmal rates of successful change initiatives in organizations (70 percent fail!), and mentioned that one reason is unwritten rules that discourage change. Another reason is that change programs are often linked to an incentive that actually doesn’t incentivize very well: Money.
In “The Inconvenient Truth About Change Management”, (http://bit.ly/1woQGIJ). McKinsey & Co.’s Scott Keller and Carolyn Aiken note that while many leaders attempt to link change programs to employee compensation, this type of motivation can be expensive, impractical, and not all that effective. More effective by far are small, unexpected rewards. For example, Gordon M. Bethune, who turned around Continental Airlines, sent a surprise $65 check to every employee when the airline made it to the top 5 for on-time flights. John McFarlane of ANZ Bank sent a bottle of champagne to every employee for Christmas with a card thanking them for their work on the company’s “Perform, Grow and Breakout” change program.
Why are small, unanticipated rewards more effective? Because employees perceive them as a “social exchange” versus a “market exchange.” A social exchange has the feel of a personal “thank you”—like bringing a bottle of wine to your dinner hosts, as opposed to a business transaction—like asking for the bill in a restaurant. In short, as we have long said, unanticipated rewards are invaluable because people work best when they feel personally recognized and appreciated!
Please share your experience. What was the last time you got an unexpected reward at work? How did it make you feel and how did it impact your performance? Join the conversation and click "comments" on our Community of Practice Forum.
About 70% of changes in all organizations fail, says research from McKinsey and Company (http://bit.ly/1woQGIJ). Rick Maurer, author of Beyond the Wall of Resistance, cites one of the key reasons: Many organizational cultures function with two opposing sets of rules.
The “official” rules—often appearing on company websites and employee handbooks—are the ones where the organization claims to value innovation, teamwork, inclusiveness, and open communication. The “unofficial” rules—often learned the hard way by those who follow the first set and find themselves in the proverbial doghouse—are change-blockers. They reward conformity, competitiveness, even secrecy. (http://bit.ly/1BS1ijE)
We have, unfortunately, witnessed this too many times. Successful change is enabled by a climate of engagement and dialogue in which new ideas and creative collaboration are encouraged—and not just espoused. Leaders who genuinely want to facilitate change in a world where change is critical to survival must courageously assess whether counter-productive rules exist, and do all in their power to align their organization’s aspirational goals with its real ones.
We want to hear. Can you give us an example of any unwritten rules you have run up against, and how those rules had an impact on organizational change? Join the conversation and click "comments" on our Community of Practice Forum.
In our last Communication Capsule, we mentioned the benefits of kicking off brainstorming sessions with two minutes of silent writing before sharing ideas with the group, round-robin style, with no evaluation. This can lead to fresher, more creative ideas—but that won’t help your group if you or your colleagues tend to have a knee-jerk negative reaction to the new.
As Judith Glaser, who studies “conversational intelligence” notes—and as history has shown repeatedly—truly original ideas are often met with spontaneous rejection, precisely because they are alien to our current culture. (The founder of FedEx got a “C” for an academic paper outlining his idea for an overnight delivery service.) And rejection may mean that the idea’s creator feels rejected, and unlikely to contribute another new idea soon.
Step 3 of our brainstorming protocol is key: Instead of attacking and rejecting, all team members (again, silently and in writing) prioritize their top three actions— those they believe are most significant and doable. When each team member advocates for their top choices in round robin, input is shared by all—not just the first and the loudest. And the group focus remains on selecting the most positive solution—not rejecting the weirdest.
Please share your experience. Have you ever had an idea rejected because it was “too original?” How do you encourage colleagues to be more creative? Join the conversation and click "comments" on our Community of Practice Forum
Brainstorming meetings are a widespread practice, but brainstorming may actually be counterproductive when it turns into a blurt-fest, with early—and often least creative ideas—given an inordinate amount of attention.
"Early ideas tend to have disproportionate influence over the rest of the conversation," says Loran Nordgren, a professor at the Kellogg School of Management, in a recent Fast Company article. Her studies show that groups in which individuals write first and share ideas in an organized manner afterward generate 20 percent more ideas than “shout it out” forums.
We are not surprised! For years we have taught a collaborative protocol for brainstorming in which the first step is silence. For two minutes, team participants reflect on the question in writing, unconstrained by convention. Phase 2 involves round robin input where each group member shares one idea at a time until all ideas are recorded in the group memory (on flip chart paper). The key in this step: No evaluation! Initiating brainstorming with these two phases eliminates disproportionate influence of early ideas—and brings the quietest voices into the meeting.
We want to hear: What have been your brainstorming experiences? Were the meetings more or less productive when speaking or writing came first? Please share your responses here.
When we find ourselves in conflict with a co-worker we tend to attribute it to personality differences. Even if we don’t know the other person very well, we may jump to conclusions based on limited exposure, perhaps stereotyping them as a “micromanager”, or “competitive.” But although it’s cognitively efficient to categorize, labeling is toxic in conflict resolution.
Writing in the Harvard Business Review, organizational consultant Ben Dattner points out that management and corporate culture may inadvertently create conflict between individuals. For instance, roles and levels of authority may not be well defined, or individuals’ interests may be truly opposed because they have been given incentives to compete rather than collaborate.
To assess whether a conflict is situational, start by asking yourself, “What conflicts might be experienced by any two people in the roles we have?” Then ask your colleague the same question. You may find common ground and can jointly approach those in leadership to reconsider the dynamics that are generating the conflict.
Please share your experience. Have you ever found yourself in conflict with a colleague because of a situational circumstance? What did you do about it? Join the conversation and click "comments" on our Community of Practice Forum.
Are anti-bullying policies stopping workplace bullying? Not according to a survey recently conducted by Joseph Grenny and David Maxfield, co-authors of the books Crucial Conversations and Influencer. Ninety-six percent of respondents said they had experienced workplace bullying, and indicated that most of the alleged bullies had been in their positions for over a year (89%), or over five years (54%). Only 6% said their companies’ anti-bullying policies prevented bullying.
The sad truth is that many who feel bullied don’t do anything about it. They try to avoid the problem, but the unintended consequence of avoidance is perpetuation. “Silence is not golden. Silence is permission,” says Maxfield.
We agree: What we permit, we promote. So it’s important to know your workplace policies and document incidents of bullying (e.g. browbeating, intimidation, sabotaging). Perhaps most effective of all—if you do not feel at risk doing so—is addressing (in private) the person you believe is abusing power. If you choose to do this, try our models for raising issues and responding to criticism. Then ask what you can do to improve communication going forward so that the pattern doesn’t repeat.
We want to hear: Are you aware of workplace bullying and, if so, do you and those around you tend to confront or avoid the problem? If you have addressed the situation, what has been the outcome? Join the conversation and click "comments" on our Community of Practice Forum.
Are team-building exercises fun, or something many employees feel “subjected to?” A recent NPR story chronicled some true—and truly disastrous—“weekend warrior” tales reminiscent of scenes from the classic NBC sitcom, The Office. Employees recounted everything from paintballing mishaps (don’t splatter your supervisor in a “sensitive area”) to being pelted with ricocheting Sacagawea gold dollar coins flying out of a demolished donkey piñata.
What interested us as much as the story were the 100-plus comments posted in response, the majority of which seemed to be by listeners who could certainly relate. Some cited corporate “narcissism” as underlying such debacles, and many lamented the large amount of money spent on the Rambo-esque functions.
We believe that real team-building should be a result of learning and using creative, cooperative ways to solve problems and make decisions. Then the team is able to build its “teamness” by doing great work—no safety goggles or helmets required.
Share your experience. Have you engaged in team-building exercises? How did it go? How do you think teams come to do great work? Join the conversation and click "comments" on our Community of Practice Forum.