Examples of Noticing and Reinforcing Each Others Work, at Work.

One of the most effective ways to get the behaviour we want is to see in others is to sincerely reinforce that behaviour when it happens. In many ways this falls into the space of intrinsic motivation.

That said, providing feedback can sometimes feel like we are babying your co-workers. Get over it. We are not babying them or hand-holding. What we are doing is letting them know their efforts matter; that they are important and are making a difference.

One easy approach I would recommend is to focus on their effort and/or outcome and not make it too personal.

Here are some examples.

Awareness / Caring I

  • “Bob, you came in later today than usual. That’s very different for you so I just wanted to make sure everything is OK and ask if there is anything you might need?” Or
  • “Is that a new jacket? It is a great looking jacket.” Or
  • “How did your team enjoy the conference yesterday? They seemed really excited to attend.”

Awareness / Caring II

“I noticed you started the training meeting by reviewing the departments vision, values and how the training fits into us all achiving our goals. That really helped me focus my attention on how to use the training and where I needed to change.”

Appreciation I

“Thank you for your hard work. Your attention to detail made a difference.” (a focus on their effort)

Appreciation & Collaboration I

“You both found an interesting way to solve the problem and work together to complete the project even though you are in different time zones. Well done.”

Appreciation & Collaboration II

“Thanks for helping the marketing team get those financial numbers together. Having the finance departments input and suggestions helped clarify the expenses and potential ROI.” 

Being Clear – Getting To The Point

“You shared the objective and desired action item in the first sentence of your email. I want you to know this really helped us understand the reason for the detailed background you then provided.” (a focus on email etiquette / email writing technique)

Reinforce Desired Behaviour I

“Everyone is here on time and ready to start meeting. My thanks to each of you. This should help us get out on time as well.” (a focus on time management)

Reinforce Desired Behaviour II

“Before we close off today’s update meeting, I want to point out I noticed everyone gave each other the opportunity to speak without interruption and with an open, inquiring mind. Thank you – I think it is great how our team is really coming together.”

Reinforce Desired Behaviour III

“Bob, you worked really hard on this proposal outline and submitted it on time. It looks really good and gives each of the other managers a great foundation to all add their content while keeping a consistent objective and a consistent look for the company. Well done.”

It’s important to sincerely reinforce behaviour. If we are not sincere – it will show. It’s also important to say something as close to the behaviour as possible; don’t wait for their next performance review.

As with all things, practice makes perfect. When you see behaviour you want, especially if it’s behaviour that’s in the process of changing, try letting that person or people realize you see their effort and the positive impact they are having.

Reminders and positive feedback help others (and ourselves) visualize and recall expectations and the skills / actions associated with the behaviours we want to see / experience. The characteristics of good reminders and positive feedback include being:

  • Simple and brief (not a lecture)
  • Focused on the positive (what is), not the negative (what is not)

Little things matter.

Happy communicating, leading, mentoring and learning.

We facilitate courses including email etiquette, time management training, leadership skills, generational differences training… and more.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Call us at 416.617.0462.

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

How To Disagree With Your Boss Without Damaging Your Career: Part II

To Read Part I please Click Here.

In Part I of this article I began laying out 8 tips on how to challenge your boss in a smart and effective way. Here are the final few tips to help you with this complicated topic.

I am a strong believer that most plans have multiple options for success… but we don’t have time to debate every one of them. When you decide to bring an idea forward make sure it is about making noticeable business impact.

The best teams thrive on productive disagreement. If you can promote that with your team you will be part of a dynamic, strategic powerhouse that will achieve great things. You will be showing others what success looks like.

Prepare Your Message / How To Disagree With Your Boss!

You have to communicate your counter argument in a non-threatening way or risk the consequences. You don’t want to argue with your boss and earn the reputation as an arrogant / difficult employee. You do want a reputation as someone who is respectful and gets things done.

The fate of your reputation and your idea lies in your purpose and how you express your disagreement.Screen Shot 2018-01-08 at 1.54.58 PM

An easy way to respect your boss when you have an idea is to ask if you can share. For example, “I’d like to share an idea I have for the project that I think will have a positive impact but I’m concerned it may sound like I doubt the project. I want to assure you that I don’t. May I share my ideas?” This approach helps set people’s expectations and make what you are about to say sound less threatening. The less you can surprise people the less risk you will have of triggering a defensive response.

You can be attentive… but in the end, you cannot control how someone feels. So, stay aware of how others respond and perhaps most importantly… how they are feeling. People often shut-down when they feel disrespected… whether you mean it or not.

Plan your message in advance. Research your idea (as suggested above), but in most cases you don’t want to spend days and days preparing to introduce your idea for a few reasons. First, it may look like you are aggressively pushing your agenda. Second, you don’t want your boss to think you have wasted valuable time preparing an elaborate presentation for an ‘idea / suggestion’ you have. Only you can make that decision based on the project, your work environment, attitudes and workloads.

As you prepare your plan, choose the word you will use carefully – be non-aggressive. For example:

  • Don’t use the words “I disagree”, instead try offering “recommendations” or “suggestions”.
  • Be careful of the word “should”, perhaps use the words, “consider” or “could”.
  • Ask, “Can I offer a suggestion.” Do not say “I have a better idea.
  • Ask for “background”, not the “rationale” when inquiring about other existing approaches.
  • Try using “I” statements to describe what you are feeling. For example, “I feel there may be another approach that may help.
  • Under no circumstances should you make people feel stupid, embarrassed and absolutely no name-calling.

I recommend practicing your first sentence beforehand – at least your first sentence. Keep your message simple and to the point.

When you speak:

  1. State the topic on which you disagree and explain your position. Talk about what you are feeling – but don’t be emotional. Don’t use inflammatory or accusatory language. Don’t complain or disagree but do have a solution. Offer suggestions including S.M.A.R.T. reasons why you think your idea is helpful.
  2. Reintroduce the plan goals and values remembering to promote the parts of the existing plan that you do agree with. Don’t make it appear the decision is a Win-Lose event; every decision should be a Win-Win. You want to be a team player who is focused on supporting the team, the company and the project goals.
  3. Present your idea with pride, confidence and enthusiasm but do not appear like a know-it-all who’s challenging their authority. Be polite and professional.
  4. Be careful about including your co-workers unless you have their absolute permission… and in this case, I hope they are sitting with you when you present the idea. You want to speak for yourself and let others speak for themselves.
  5. Let your boss know you are looking forward to their input / thoughts / questions about your idea. Two-way feedback allows you both to work through details and perhaps clarify project important goals that may impact your idea / the project.

You want to support your career goals – not hurt them. Don’t present a list of problems to your boss without any thought of a solution.

Eventually, when you have done this a few times (and have a great boss who trusts you), you’ll be able to speak your mind without damaging your career.

Be Careful With Emotion

As I always say in my Managing Difficult Conversation workshops, share emotion but don’t be emotional. Sharing emotion lets people know you care… that you are human. Believe it or not, that approach increases the chances of your idea being heard… and accepted (if it is a good idea). Bosses get nervous when employees appear emotionally attached. For Example: Calmly saying, ‘I feel very connected to this project and I want it to succeed’ shows you care. But, pounding on the boardroom table and screaming those same words suggests you have lost perspective and are not thinking rationally.

Always remain calm and confident. Never lose your temper.

Let It Go / Know When To Back Down / Respect the Final Decision

Your boss doesn’t agree with your suggestion / idea? Thank your boss for the opportunity and then let it go! As a leader, your boss may have 100 reasons for their decision. For example, the company strategy could be shifting in response to competitors’ moves (but not yet been shared company-wide). Stay calm, carry on.

Be sure your boss understands you will fully support whatever decision is agreed upon. The more you make them feel it isn’t a competition for you the more they won’t feel it’s a competition next time you have a suggestion. Protect your reputation and your influence for your career.

There will be many times during your career that you will not always agree with the decisions others make – and others wont agree with you…and that’s OK. By letting this be OK you will get the experience of working on many important projects. Trust me – that collection of experience and being part of many collaborative teams where you will meet and work with great people is far more important.

Conclusion

My corporate training and coaching career has proven to me that every workplace has a variety of personalities, work styles, cultures, education and experience; so, challenges are inevitable. So, making them work for us – not against us is important.

Great Leaders primary responsibility it to build long-term company success. How they do this is by listening to dedicated, talented, hard-working employees and earning employee trust. When great leaders have employees who feel listened to and trusted, these employees will often also be the leaders most loyal and motivated employees; a great leaders most important asset – a leaders best opportunity to achieve their responsibilities.

Disagreement is helpful as long as it’s strategic, measurable, actionable, relevant and timely.

SUMMARY:

  • Don’t have a conversation when either of your attention is elsewhere – like on a tight deadline or running to pick up the kids after work.
  • Tell your boss you have a suggestion for an alternative approach… then ask them if they would like to schedule a one-on-one meeting. Challenging your boss in front of others is risky – for you and your idea.
  • Prepare for any conversation, but especially when you are challenging your boss. Your first sentence is important – it will set the mood for the whole meeting. Take every precaution to not sound confrontational.
  • Be sensitive to their mood… especially if they often get stressed easily.
  • Never embarrass anyone – especially someone you report to.
  • Never seem aggressive, condescending, or accusatory.
  • Never make demands.
  • Always respect them and respect their final decision.

Happy communicating, mentoring and working with people from all generations.

To Read Part I please Click Here.

Click here to join our priority list to receive our latest Business Communication blog posts.

If you enjoyed this post we think you’ll like:

Bruce Mayhew Consulting is an Executive Coach who facilitates courses including Managing Difficult Conversations, Business Email Etiquette, Generational Differences, Time Management, Leadership and Mindfulness.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

Click on the image to watch us on Canada AM.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Call us at 416.617.0462.

View Bruce Mayhew's profile on LinkedIn

Bruce Mayhew Consulting

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

 

How To Disagree With Your Boss Without Damaging Your Career: Part I

To Read Part II please Click Here.

If you are a talented employee, what do you do if you want to disagree with your boss without damaging your career? Do you sit back and wait until you have a great boss, or do you learn how to disagree with the boss you have without damaging your career? I believe the answer is clear; to be in control of your professional success you have to learn how to disagree with your boss in a respectful, productive way.Screen Shot 2018-01-08 at 1.45.34 PM

When it comes to disagreeing with your boss the challenge is to never appear like you undermining their authority. Respect is key! Your ideas also cannot appear to be a threat to your boss’ goals or the project goals. Your ideas should be inspirational and clearly demonstrate your commitment to company success. For example, you might say, “I have an idea that will help us improve client retention” versus negative, “This project is doomed and only my idea will save it.” When you introduce your idea in a positive way you can prove yourself as an important team member and a forward-thinking employee who adds value.

I offer you these tips on how to challenge your boss in a smart and effective way… and apologize now for the length of this article… but it is not an easy challenge to solve.

Here are 8 key steps:

  1. Have a good point / Pick your battles wisely
  2. Stop being a ‘Yes’ person
  3. Know your boss (and your team)
  4. Find time when you both have time
  5. Do research / Know your stuff
  6. Build trust
  7. Prepare your message / How to deliver your message well
  8. Let it go if they don’t agree / Respect the final decision

1.  Have A Good Point / Pick Your Battles Wisely

Make sure your suggestion is worth the trouble; it should add measurable, strategic value to the final project. A ‘tweak’ isn’t worth the risk to your reputation.

Before you speak ask yourself, “Am I adding value and is the idea S.M.A.R.T. (Strategic, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant and Timely)?” You also want to ask yourself , “Is this my responsibility and how might the other person ‘feel’?” You want to be focused on important work not busy work. You also want to make sure it’s your responsibility… or at least will impact one of your responsibilities. If you proceed, make sure your approach and tone of voice is positive, respectful and collaborative.

Do not be the negative person who points out the things the team can’t realistically change or will make no difference.

2. Stop Being A ‘Yes’ Person

If you go along with every decision your boss makes you are known as a ‘yes’ person and not likely using your talents to the best of your abilities.

You may be hurting your ability to be promoted if you always follow the pack. If done well, challenging your boss will help you stand out for a future promotion / recognition because it demonstrates leadership, courage and your ability to negotiate and collaborate. It also demonstrates creativity and strategic thinking.

The best companies thrive because they embrace employees who respectfully disagree with their boss. Great leaders want (and all leaders need) their employees to contribute to original ideas… to speak up about important right things at the right time.

3. Know Your Boss

Arguing with your boss is a losing proposition.

Is your boss going to react badly to any idea that’s not their own? I once had a boss like that. If the answer is yes it may be better to warm up your resume… you need to find a work environment where you can show your leadership qualities and learn to manage all of the difficult conversations / difficult situations leaders have to manage every day.

Poor leaders don’t want to be challenged by their employees but great leaders encouraged and promoted people to challenge one another. Great bosses want their employees to add their experience and expertise into the mix. Innovation, diversification and long-term company success demands this.

When you know your boss you can motivate them by using the language they use. Plan your proposal from their perspective. If they think in numbers be sure to show solid numbers. If they think about marketing and brand, frame your idea in that language.

Find Time When You Both Have Time

Know your boss’ personality and triggers. Find a time when you both are thinking clearly and your emotions are not triggered. Don’t approach your boss if either of you are stressed or in a bad mood or running to pick up your kids from the sitter.

If you are in a meeting, be very sensitive to both who is in the room and what your idea entails. If your boss’ boss is around be very careful not to embarrass anyone – including yourself. You want whatever you do to build the trust and respect of your boss and coworkers.

When and where you choose to share your idea can make a world of difference in how your boss reacts vs. responds to your opinion.

Do Research / Know Your Stuff

When you decide to speak you have to be accurate and to-the-point… especially if you have senior people in the room. So, before you lay your reputation and perhaps your job on the line, be sure you:

  • Know why any current decisions have been made
  • Research your idea – including important criteria like budget, employee impact, customer impact and timing

Once you feel confident (and this may take only seconds if you are experienced with the project), sketch out a high-level plan. Anticipate any possible counter-arguments your boss and/or team may have. Perhaps use the S.M.A.R.T. model to test the existing plan and then the value of your idea. Preparing a well thought out S.M.A.R.T. plan means your boss is more likely to be open to listening to what you want to say / share.

You may also want to check out a supplier/stakeholder or two – but don’t do so much it looks like you are hijacking the project or putting supplier/stakeholder relationships at risk.

No matter how well you prepare there’s always a chance your input will not be acted upon. You have to be OK with that outcome.

Build Trust

Trust is at the center of all good employee-employer relations. Without it there’s virtually no hope you can persuade your boss your idea has value.

Trust is a two-way street, and you have to do your part to earn it. Your first day on the job might not be the best day to disagree with your boss (unless you’ve been promoted from within). If your boss specifically asks for your opinion then carefully offer a suggestion for ‘discussion / evaluation purposes based on the project goals’.

How can you build trust over time?

  • Be positive – glass half-full not half-empty
  • Take humble credit for your successes and take quick credit for your errors (be solutions oriented)
  • Demonstrate empathy and compassion for your work and coworkers
  • Learn the company goals and values… and all project goals and values
  • Meet your project deadlines – practice good time management
  • Make sure your performance is consistently high-quality and in line with project goals and values
  • Be a team player – manage everyone’s expectations… including your own
  • Be flexible and communicate clearly

Demonstrate you are a reliable team player and you understand the work. Do it right and your boss may come looking for you next time they want a fresh opinion. Do it wrong and you might find it career limiting.

Conclusion

There will be many times during your career that you will not always agree with the decisions others make – and others will not agree with you…and that’s OK. By letting this be OK you will get the experience of working on many important projects.

Happy communicating, mentoring and working with people from all generations.

To Read Part II please Click Here.

Click here to join our priority list to receive our latest Business Communication blog posts.

If you enjoyed this post we think you’ll like:

Bruce Mayhew Consulting is an Executive Coach who facilitates courses including Managing Difficult Conversations, Business Email Etiquette, Generational Differences, Time Management, Leadership and Mindfulness.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

Click on the image to watch us on Canada AM.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Call us at 416.617.0462.

View Bruce Mayhew's profile on LinkedIn

Bruce Mayhew Consulting

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

 

Organizations Are Finding Stability

Organizations are finding stability – but not stability that rests on lack of change; that stability often leads to organizational distress.

I’m talking about stability that includes a responsibility to your business, your employees, customers, environment and the economy. Stability that is foundational; guiding principals that influence daily activities and encourage employees to collaborate and explore future opportunities with shared purpose. The kind of security that is critical when organizations are changing and the economy is in flux (everyday). Stability that understands that pushing boundaries sometimes means taking one step forward and two steps back… and those steps are all learning opportunities to be celebrated… not failures that compromise job security, trust and therefore creativity / progress.beach stones

Organizational stability is a savior when it’s rooted in values that are honored, celebrated and respected by all employees. Values and guiding principals that drive:

People repeat behaviour that is rewarded. You can’t positively affect the organization’s cultural core without bringing your team along. There has to be trust, communication and fairness.

Some of the hardest work is to address a top performer who isn’t a team player. Why? Because they do undermine corporate values and organizational stability… which is why they can’t be allowed to continue. It’s easy to measure their individual success – but difficult to measure the negative impact / loss they cause throughout your organization by lowering others engagement, productivity and loyalty. They may seem to be star earners, but what about the harm they do undermining everyone else’s progress? They may be costing more than they bring in as they create a work environment that causes talented employees to walk away.

Good employees leave bad cultures and / or bad bosses. Losing strong, dependable, collaborative talent [for whatever reason] disrupts organizational stability and increases hard-costs, as you have to hire and retrain new talent. I see it far too often how lone-wolf employees erode organizational success and the potential within team dynamics.

How your treat your whole team is your culture.

Holding people accountable does not mean you have to be mean or cruel, it means you have to be confident and fair. You have to hold people accountable to the corporate values, success of the business, its customers, any individual you are speaking with AND all of the other employees. Holding people accountable provides organizational stability everyone can trust… during slow times, busy times and even during times of great change.

Organizational stability expands productivity and creative engines exponentially.

Your team is the energy that drives your organization forward. Stability requires dialogue that may not be easy at first (difficult conversations), and often requires training and practice to learn how to move forward – consistently.

Happy communicating… and hiring… and mentoring… and training.

Click here to join our priority list to receive our latest Business Communication blog posts.

If you enjoyed this post we think you’ll like:

 

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Time Management and Mindfulness.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

Click on the image to watch us on Canada AM.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Call us at 416.617.0462.

View Bruce Mayhew's profile on LinkedIn

Bruce Mayhew Consulting

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

 

Hillary And Bernie For President

Hillary and Bernie (I feel we are on first name terms), you both have an opportunity to set an example – a really profound example for the world.

What if you began to collaborate and stopped trying to beat each other out of the big chair? You are two highly talented people with great supporters, contacts, education and experience. What if you became a beacon and example for citizens and corporate America… And The World to work together.

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 6.51.56 PM

Hillary And Bernie For President

Be An Example For Businesses And Individuals. 

Collaboration is identified by the best leaders, scholars, consultants and spiritual figures as a powerful way for great companies to be competitive and deliver value to clients, shareholders and the economy. Collaboration also unites individuals and helps them focus on their… and each others strength and passions.

Great leaders focus on:

  • Communication – Hillary… Bernie you both are great at this
  • Inspiration – again, you are both great.
  • A focus on critical values – I like that you have both complementary values… and each seem to have a few of your own
  • Vision – yup. You both have that. Imagine what you could accomplish when you support the same vision?
  • Promote cooperation – come on… you can do this.
  • Trust – I know you are politicians, but I think this is possible. Many trust you now, and if you work together I imagine your trust ratings will go even higher. Just don’t screw it up.
  • Business knowledge, skill. Between the two of you, you have more knowledge and experience that almost anyone. Imagine what you can do when you combine your super powers instead of use them to fight against each other?

I can go on but do I really need to?

Embrace Change – Do What Is Right… Not What Is Expected.

The people we remember most in history have done great things. They have turned ‘What Is’ into ‘What Can Be Better’. Consider Steve Jobs and what he did with Apple. Consider what Gandhi accomplished by doing things differently and leading change and collaboration of his people.

Do One Thing Every Day That Scares You. Eleanor Roosevelt.

Same Old – Same Old No Longer Works

I suggest Hillary and Bernie for president. The greatest opportunities are the ones nobody has done. Change is now a constant – which means the ‘same old – same old’ no longer works. Organizations / institutions that are not changing are being left behind. If you mined for gold would you mine in the same place others had been for years, or would you embrace a new opportunity to dig deeper?

The world is a different place than it was 20, 50, 100 years ago.

Set an example. Instead of fighting together at the cost of jobs and our environment – show businesses what you can accomplish when they work together.

Slowly, the business world is embracing that leadership is about adaptability, loyalty and engagement. Help businesses pick up the pace as they work towards sustainability. And, help businesses show their employees the loyalty they want from their employees.

Be A Team Like Never Before: Hillary And Bernie For President

You both can show everyday people and business leaders that collaboration supports an environment and help others. Show the world how people with varying abilities / experience can put differences aside and embrace a common goal. Be an example of flexibility and respect as you share information, decision-making, responsibility, learning and recognition.

Hillary, Bernie; if you truly want to make the USA and the world a better place and to create a legacy, I believe your decision is to decide to work together. Now!

Conclusion: Become An Unstoppable Team Hillary And Bernie

Hillary, Bernie… ignite your passion so that together you both inspire innovation. Take pride in creating wonderful adaptable solutions. Your passion can change the world and move it forward like never before.

One of the largest barriers to collaboration is siloes and politics. So, break down silos – don’t play by the same rules everyone else has – it is time to play a new game… together.

Happy communicating… and Hillary And Bernie For President.

Click here to join our priority list to receive our latest Business Communication blog posts.

If you enjoyed this post we think you’ll like:

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Time Management and Mindfulness.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

Click on the image to watch us on Canada AM.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Call us at 416.617.0462.

View Bruce Mayhew's profile on LinkedIn

Bruce Mayhew Consulting

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

 

Leadership: A Leaders Responsibilities Have Changed: Part 2

Just as all great athletes have a natural athletic ability, they still must study, practice and make a few mistakes; the same goes if you want to be a great leader. Investing in leadership development always pays off because while there may only be one big winner at the Olympics, companies are able to have many great leaders.

There are 20+ Leadership attributes to be a great leader that I explore, however, to keep this blog simple, here are 2 critical leadership styles. A great leader:

  • Has and shares a vision
  • Keeps project teams moving forward

The responsibility of a great leader is as a visionary, a communicator and a mentor, not a taskmaster.

Employees want to be proud, contribute and get better/learn. So, how do companies not only support/retain/mentor promising employees, but prepare employees to be their leaders in 1,2, 5 years? The simple answer is to invest in leadership training and leadership development.

A Leader Has And Shares A Vision

Leaders define goals, teams create project solutions.

An important trend we see in leadership style is to break larger projects into smaller projects (discussed in Part 1). Smaller projects can be managed more easily and they provide employees with an sense of achievement, creativity and collaboration.

Smaller projects also work well for people from different generations. For example, Millennial and Generation Z generations typically enjoy a faster pace and more frequent wins/accomplishments.

1 large project broken into 5 smaller projects.

1 large project broken into 5 smaller projects.

As tasks are broken down into smaller components, the overall vision of the project and the company must be clear to the leader and shared with the team members. Each team is set with a project – and yes, some team members may overlap and be on multiple project teams. Nevertheless, effective time management focuses each persons efforts.

The vision of the leader allows for each individual contribution to fit into the bigger corporate plan, even though the pieces are designed independently. Similar to how guitar strings are designed and manufactured in different places and perhaps different companies, they still sound as expected because standards are set and followed – they are part of a greater global vision.

A Leader Keeps Project Teams Moving Forward

The objective of the small, collaborative team is to make decisions quickly. Only if the team is stalled does the leader get involved or to remind the team of the goals and help them move on.

Define work goals before work begins.

  • The leader defines the goal.
  • The team decides what to do to achieve the goal.
  • The team estimates how much time the work will take.
  • The team decides how to do the work to achieve the goal.
  • The leader gets involved if the teams work will risk success but does not get involved if the team follows a path that’s different from how they would accomplish it.

What we find with a collaborative team is that the ideas are what become important – decisions are made based on merit of the idea vs. who had it. This often results in the smaller project exceeding expectations.

Leaders Lead – They Don’t Do

A common challenge we see is when leaders get busy doing the work their staff should be doing. As soon as that happens a leaders focus is taken away from their important work; project vision and supporting/retaining/mentoring employees. Also, the project solutions often become less creative, take more time and cost… why? Because instead of the best solution being adopted, the team feels pressure to adopt their leaders solution. Employee engagement also drops and employees have less pride in the solution (and this is a precursor to turnover of valuable talent).

Conclusion

Understanding generational differences at work is only one of the challenges leaders have, but it is important when a leader is working out how to keep valuable talent engaged. No matter what generation your employees belong to, having a clear vision and instilling a sense of pride and accomplishment is one of the best ways leaders can create value for customers and shareholders.

Happy leadership and communication.

Click here to join our priority list to receive our latest Business Communication blog posts.

If you enjoyed this post we think you’ll like:

Bruce Mayhew Consulting coaches leaders and facilitates business etiquette courses including Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Time Management and Mindfulness.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

Click on the image to watch us on Canada AM.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Call us at 416.617.0462.

View Bruce Mayhew's profile on LinkedIn

Bruce Mayhew Consulting

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

 

Leadership: A Leaders Responsibilities Have Changed: Part 1

Being a leader isn’t glamorous or easy. Changing your leadership style is even more difficult… but the rewards of both are immense.

If you are an individual or a company, your leadership qualities and leadership style are essential if you are going to survive and thrive. Stats show that half the companies in the S&P500 are different from 1999 (Source Sam Ro). Said another way, the world is changing around us and longevity demands our leaders promote responsible change and keep their teams adapting.

Leader TrainingLets think back a few years when Blackberry (Research In Motion), was leading the smartphone market. Many Leadership Coaches agree that Blackberry’s leaders had become comfortable that their main core competency (their security protocols), would continue to lead market demand. Then Apple innovated the market and gave mobile users new features like cameras, an ipod, touch screen, useful apps and high-definition for movie watchers and gamers. Almost overnight Blackberry became one of the smallest players in the mobile market.

Apple, a company known for a non-traditional approach to almost everything focused on customer delight, not how to keep doing the same thing and maximize existing revenue. Apple won because their leaders and by extension their employees looked at tomorrow and built a solution for tomorrows customer. Apple leaders gave their employees the freedom to look at what individuals were doing within their lives and explore solutions. By doing this Apple leaders and employees did far more than maximize existing revenue – they created a whole new revenue stream. HOOYAH!

This is a good segue into one of the key things leaders need to do.

Put Your Customer And Employee Needs First

Before you think about maximize existing revenue or cost cutting to increase ROI, are you preparing for what customers will want tomorrow? How can you make life better for them? When you make life better people see value, and when they see value they will buy your stuff.

The world is going to be different tomorrow!

Not only are customer needs changing, employees’ wants and needs are changing… really quickly. So, your leadership qualities and leadership style also has to change if you want to survive.

Great companies run on great employees. Products don’t think or make themselves – and they don’t innovate themselves.

Innovation happens in months not years, and to keep up leaders need their employees to grow, contribute, innovate and collaborate. Todays leaders need to create a vision and instead of telling their team what to do and how to get it done, todays leaders / mangers are successful when they empower their team and remove roadblocks.

Great leaders have learned how to hire and motivate great employees… and stay out of their way.

Conclusion

Customers want great products. Employees want to be proud, contribute and get better/learn.

Doing the same thing and/or just putting in more hours isn’t going to… work; it’s not 1958. So, how do companies attract, motivate and retain promising employees who build great customer solutions? How do companies prepare employees to be tomorrows leaders? The simple answer is to invest in leadership training and leadership development for todays leaders – and tomorrows leaders.

Happy leadership and communication.

Click here to join our priority list to receive our latest Business Communication blog posts.

If you enjoyed this post we think you’ll like:

Bruce Mayhew Consulting coaches leaders and facilitates business etiquette courses including Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Time Management and Mindfulness.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

Click on the image to watch us on Canada AM.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Call us at 416.617.0462.

View Bruce Mayhew's profile on LinkedIn

Bruce Mayhew Consulting

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

 

Group Training Advantages

Some of the more familiear reasons for professional development training are to help employees excel at their day-to-day activities (most often considered hard-skills), while also representing organizational mission, vision and values (most often considered soft-skills). Bruce Mayhew at INTIX 2014 v2

But there is even greater return on investment organizations experience when they offer group training. The benefit is what happens when employees experience training together, at the same time and in the same place.

Group training offers benefits that online or one-on-one training cannot… and yet these benefits are almost never measured.

Team Development Benefits Of Group Training

Passion, Pride, Collaboration, Retention are just a few. There are great benefits of group training that extend far beyond the information being taught; some of the benefits of group training include:

  • Everyone hears the same message, feels the same energy and participates in reaching the objectives.
  • Employees who experience group training teach each other as they share experiences and stories.
  • As employees share stories and discuss possible solutions they also explore organizational values and goals.
  • Participants build camaraderie as they collaborate on exercises, share frustrations and a-ha moments.
  • When everyone is back to work, group training lets employees mentor each other as each integrates their newly learned best practices. This is both motivating and supports retention.
  • Fun – Yes, fun. Fun training is one of the best ways employees stay focused and remember new information.
  • Collaboration increases job satisfaction and employee loyalty which reduces employee turnover.

One of the key motivators for employees – especially Millennials and the emerging Gen Z is to form friendly bonds at work and to collaborate. In general, Millennials and Gen Z  are natural collaborators and excel in learning environments. The idea is to train them well enough so they can leave… but because in most cases that is the best way to get them to stay… for more than a year.

Conclusion

An organizations investment in training will always impact hard-skills and soft-skills. The benefit of group training is that it offers a valuable combination of benefits that keep employees inspired and increases adoption… therefore helping the organization be creative, competitive and resilient. Organizations also build a reputation as an employer of choice.

To experience your greatest value when planning professional development and especially group training, be sure to weigh both the hard-skills and soft-skills benefits as well as the economic benefits of group training. The group training benefits we are most used to thinking about are as follows… but don’t forget to add the list mentioned above.

    • Economies of scale lower the per-person investment
    • The potential for more topics to be offered and/or more people reached
    • Less time required to train a large group

Happy communicating and learning.

Click here to join our priority list of people who receive our latest Business Communication blog posts. If you enjoyed this post we think you’ll like:

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Email Etiquette, Managing Difficult Conversations, Mindfulness and more.

Give us a call at 416 617 0462. We’ll listen.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

Click on the image to the right to watch us on Canada AM.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

Are You Changing Fast Enough?

Change is all around us … from how quickly my nieces’ 2 year old daughter is growing to the explosion of computing power, social media, Millennials entering the workforce and global warming. Even our cars are getting software upgrades.

Change is relentless and it’s changing how we approach everything. The one thing we can be confident of is that something important in our day-to-day encounters is likely going to change very soon… or is now.

Are You Changing Fast Enough?

Change Puzzle

Change Puzzle

It’s not a question of should you change – it’s a question of are you changing fast enough?

But, how can you keep changing while also getting your Important Work done? This is a real challenge because change is now a constant – which means the way most organizations work through change no longer works… because most organizations are not built to be adaptable – to be resilient – and therefore they are being left behind. We only have to look at giants like Blackberry, Kodak and Eaton’s for evidence.

How do we build a work environment that is adaptable – to be resilient?

The solution is to turn on your employees, ignite their passion so that they inspire innovation and take pride in creating wonderful adaptable solutions. Some solutions will be almost unnoticeable, and some complex… and yet all change can to ignite passion and keep your organization moving forward and your employees interested, proud and loyal… for at least a little while longer.

Because we all know bored Millennials leave, you have to train people well enough so they can leave… but don’t want to leave. This goes for employees of any generation.

Abandon routine.

Leaders Embrace Adaptable, Collaborative Teams

Everyone gets to lead – you don’t have to be the President of the company.

Leadership is about adaptability, customer loyalty and employee engagement. The role of a leader is to define a future vision that inspires employees to achieve great things. Leaders support their team as the team designs client focussed solutions to support the vision… but leaders also support the individuals of the team to set and achieve great personal goals.

I like to look at non-presidential leadership as collaboration. A collaborative team evolves as the project evolves. Different people take on more critical roles when necessary and then step aside when its time for another expert to step in. For example, if you have a collaborative team responsible for publishing a magazine this project might proceed as follows:

  1. The Leader identifies the vision for the magazine
  2. The whole Collaborative Team identifies the approach. In this case… to use business stories
  3. The sales specialist takes the lead to hunt for clients and great business stories
  4. The whole Collaborative Team selects which stories to use
  5. The writers take the lead to perform the client interviews and write the stories
  6. The editor leads the editing and alignment of the stories
  7. The graphic designers lead the team (especially sales specialist), to find appropriate images and design
  8. The whole Collaborative Team agrees and signs off on design
  9. The print expert leads the physical creation of the magazine

Like any good organization, this collaborative team is always reinventing itself. Collaborative groups engage the right people at the right time – letting others focus on their other important work / projects until their specialty is required… then they join in as long as needed… keeping them engaged and inspired.

Organizations are adaptive and responsive to emerging needs / technology / opportunities when innovation and collaboration is rewarded by customer and employee loyalty, therefore making them more resilient… which is rewarded by investors.

Put Diversity To Work

Diversity helps drive innovative, thoughtful, smart change… and vision. In a collaborative setting diversity and respect promote creativity, empathy and therefore relationships, flexibility and results.

Diversity = Innovative Opportunities

Some diversity options to be aware of include:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Orientation
  • Culture:
    • First generation vs. Second or Third generation
  • Socioeconomic background
  • Business / industry familiarity
  • Skill set / experience

The success of any person, team or company is the ability to adapt.

Reward Mistakes As Learning

You might think your management team isn’t ready to lead. How will you know if they don’t get a chance to learn, grow and make a mistake or two.

Some of the best learning is gained by making mistakes and learning what not to do. You may even discover a whole new approach or product/service. Kevin Chou outlines this well in his article ‘Something Good Usually Comes When Bold Innovators Make Mistakes.

Even professional racecar drivers scrape a bumper from time to time.

Change (diversity, exploration and collaboration) are mute if an organization culture reward conformity and punish dialogue, new ideas and the opportunity to learn from our mistakes. Change requires trust in your own ability to make a decision and trust in your associates to provide valuable input (why you hired them), and trust that your organization will support you – even during set-backs. This trust allows you to keep moving – to keep learning – to keep developing.

In most organizations there is little incentive to abandon the familiar – silos are created and protected. Failure is penalized vs. seen as a natural part of growth and a learning opportunity.

Conclusion

Change is a constant – not a destination. Are you changing fast enough? Whatever you build has to be adaptable… resilient.

Encourage dialogue. Practice active mindful listening. Don’t be held back by things you tried a few years ago and didn’t work out… much has changed in the last few years. Think of how frequently Apple releases a new iPhone.

The saying used to be “If it aint broke don’t fix it.” Now the saying almost has to be “If it exists, break it and improve.” Today’s economy is providing great opportunities, but with low entry fees and greater opportunities to get your message out; competition and innovation is coming from every direction.

It’s not only the customers who want something special – so do employees. Are your people prepared for change? Do they know what to expect – and how they are empowered?

If you enjoyed this post we think you’ll like:

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Time Management and Mindfulness.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

Give us a call at 416 617 0462. We’ll listen.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

View Bruce Mayhew's profile on LinkedIn

Bruce Mayhew Consulting

Millennials Are Changing How We Work Part 1

Millennials don’t mean to change how we work – they just are. Millennials (or Gen Y), are going after what they want – what their parents told them they deserved. “You can do anything.” “You are terrific.” “You shouldn’t settle.” Do any of those statements sound familiar?Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 3.48.39 PM

I think its great Millennials are changing how we work and the overall management style. It’s because Millennials expectations are different from even the most conservative leaders are also changing their expectations. For example, more and more Boomers are embracing office collaboration, are taking advantage of technology and are seeing the advantages of flexible work schedules – for the benefit of business, its employees and their families.

Changing Corporate Culture

With four generations in the workplace and Millennials moving into leadership roles, management styles are also changing. For example, along with wanting ‘more’, Millennials find hierarchy a challenge. It’s not disrespect; it’s all about accessing information in a timely manner. If their bosses’ boss has what they need (and their boss is in a meeting), then the Millennials solution is to access the corner office and ask directly. And guess what – we are also seeing a shift where senior leaders are more comfortable giving information to different levels of the organization – and wanting to be called by their fist name.

Communication Protocols Get Tricky

Where Boomers and Gen X might be more comfortable with phone and face-to-face communications, Millennials and Gen Z might be more comfortable with IM or email. There is no one best answer… but there is value to different solutions. IM is instant but it can be more intrusive than email and IM is difficult to express complex ideas. Email allows for detailed explanation and is a good place to archive decisions. Phone, video and face-to-face allow for flexible dialogue, brainstorming and creativity.

While I teach full courses on effective communication, I hope you gather from this that we all need to stay flexible with how we communicate; one size does not fit all… no matter what generation you are from. Choice and flexibility are key for employees, friends and clients.

Workplace Flexibility

Workplace flexibility can mean different things to different people.

Flexibility might mean working at the cottage to make a well-deserved extra long weekend, or it might mean joining a conference call from home that is taking place in another time zone. Flexibility might also mean the ability to have open, non-judgmental discussion within a collaborative team – where everyone has an equal voice. Or, workplace flexibility might mean a 2-hour lunch, which gives you time to exercise and still grab a healthy lunch (supporting an employees mental, emotional, and physical well-being).

The take home is that workplace flexibility isn’t a luxury or a perk, it’s a respectful and necessary way of doing business AND it’s one of the new pillars that employee loyalty is built on… for all 4 generations.

The Changing Workplace

Millennials are leading the charge to change the workspace for everyone… including:

  • Greater desire for and ability to work in teams (Collaboration)
  • Wanting a friendly work environment
  • Knowing how they are making a difference – today
  • Knowing Why They are doing XYZ
  • Wanting to be challenged
  • A hunger to always be learning
  • Being hungry for feedback about goals and performance
  • Taking responsibility for mistakes – learning from them – and then move on… letting them go.
  • Opportunities to learn and grow
  • Feeling their contributions are recognized

Don’t Be Left Behind

A great friend of mine from Toronto just moved to Montreal to be with his aging Mom. His employer agreed to have him work remotely (600 kilometres).

The employers choice was really quite simple; A: Look at things differently or B: Lose a valued, experienced employee. Because of the choices they made, the employer now has a VERY loyal employee who doesn’t want to screw up the great opportunity that’s been shared with him.

Click here for Part 2 of this dialogue on How Millennials Are Changing How We Work.

Conclusion:

Millennials have grown up with technology and flexibility and instant access to information and instant feedback from their parents, teachers and coaches to Facebook and other social networks. So why shouldn’t they want this from their employers, mentors, friends and coworkers?

Happy communicating, experiencing, learning and changing.

Click here to join our priority list of people who receive our latest Business Communication blog posts. If you enjoyed this post we think you’ll like:

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Email Etiquette, Managing Difficult Conversations, Mindfulness and more.

Give us a call at 416 617 0462. We’ll listen.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

Click on the image to the right to watch us on Canada AM.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

%d bloggers like this: