7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Habit 6: Synergize

The first time I read Habit 6: Synergize from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People I remember feeling a sense of a crescendo… that Habit 6 was unifying the previous Habits… both Personal Habits (Habits 1 – Habits 3), and the Interdependent Habits (Habits 4 – Habits 5… and 6). And then I came across a quote from Stephen R. Covey in the Habit 6 chapter that confirmed my feeling, it reads, “the true test and manifestation of all of the other habits put together.”Screen Shot 2014-03-07 at 4.31.35 PM

What Is Synergize?

Synergy is what happens when two or more forces choose to work together with open, trusting intention to embrace each others differences and to overcome the challenges that will inevitably arise.  The benefit of Synergy is that the end result will be something that is far superior to anything that could exist without the cooperation and sharing of the forces.

In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Stephen Covey writes about how:

  • Synergy has the ability to unify forces (people, departments, companies, countries)
  • Synergy is important to being an important leader and a successful, sustainable organization

In the context of two or more people – it is the minds, experiences, and openness and mutual respect of each person coming together that creates a new alternative.

Synergy & Steve Jobs

I believe synergy was a key approach Steve Jobs used to create the Apple empire (as I learned from the Steve Jobs biography written by Walter Isaacson). From this biography I don’t think I’d call Steve a great leader, but it does seem Steve Jobs was exceptionally good at identifying greatness in others, connecting people and inspiring them to find unique – new solutions to challenges (often that he imposed). Under his watch there was rapid product-line evolution and innovation.

Embrace Differences

It is important to note that it is our differences that make synergize possible.

Bruce Speaking On Global TV

Bruce Speaking On Global TV

The truth of Habit 6 is that differences are what make synergize so powerful.  For example: When two people have different experience / education and when they learn to embrace / respect each others differences and work together, what they create will be greater than what each individual could create on their own. If they are very similar, their accomplishment would not be synergy. Why? Because when everyone has similar values / needs etc… nobody is motivated to look for new opportunities – to stretch; compromise is Lose / Win.

Differences Example:  If you represent a lady’s shoe company with 100 customers and you buy another ladies shoe company with 100 customers, chances are the manufacturing, delivery, marketing will be similar and the merger will be relatively easy… but you are still representing a lady’s shoe company and in the end will likely have less than 200 customers – because of pre-existing customer overlap.

But, if you are representing a lady’s shoe company with 100 customers and you buy a mans shoe company with 100 customers, chances are the manufacturing, delivery, marketing will be different and there will be many challenges to work through (opportunity for synergy), as you merge… but because of synergy you are now representing a whole new shoe company and perhaps have up to 400 customers (cross selling to exiting customers husbands/wives/partners).

When there is a clearly defined common purpose, differences lead to better outcomes.

Embracing differences does not mean you have to become each others best friend. For example, when you have two or more leaders with strong Type A personalities working together… cooperation will be difficult sometimes. But, embracing differences does mean we have to remain open to the different ideas, values, needs and feelings of others.  When we do this we gain new insights and it is a learning opportunity (personal growth).

What’s Required For Synergize?

When people / companies work under these guidelines, synergy and new ideas begin to emerge.  Participants / companies have to:

  • Have one common vision – one common goal
  • Be different
  • Have a sense of self
  • Stay open to differences and new ideas – stay authentic
  • Embrace trust
  • Accept the better way will likely not be their way…100%
  • Offer respect to everyone – everything
  • Be able to apologize and forgive
  • Practice mindful listening (listen with empathy)
  • Maintain an open desire to understand
  • Control negative judgment
  • Stay with Win / Win (not Negative synergy Win/Lose or Lose)

Conclusion: Building Partnerships

When you synergize you have to spend less time fixing problems because your employees are working with each other and creating systems and learning expertise and efficiency as they drop their guards and increase synergy – between team members and across teams.

It is a struggle for people and companies to synergize because the ‘old’ way of doing business is more of a push system – not a collaborative, synergistic solution. But you can succeed by creating alignment / vision at the top and by training and supporting your staff to ensure synergy is taking place.

The highest level of communication is positive synergy (Win / Win) communication. The truly effective person remains positive by being is mindful of their own abilities and limitations, and respectful of the abilities… and limitations of the people around them.

Happy communicating.

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, Multigenerational Training, Time Management and Mindfulness.

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

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

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

Click on the image to watch us on Canada AM.

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

Reference Material:

  • Stephen R. Covey: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People ©
  • Michael Bungay Stanier: Do More Great Work ©
  • Walter Isaacson: Steve Jobs
  • My experience

7 Habits of Highly Effective People Habit 5: ‘Seek First To Understand’.

 

Principles of Empathic Communication / Empathic Listening

My introduction to Habit 5 of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People happened without me realizing. When I was young I was taught to not speak when someone else was speaking… unfortunately I didn’t realize I was also supposed to listen.

When I entered the professional workforce my mother gave me a piece of advice. She said, “keep your ears open.” Mom was correctly identifying that my best chances of making an intelligent contribution (and my boss happy he hired me), was if I strived ‘First To Understand‘ before I offered an opinion. Since then Moms’ advice has continued to serve me well.

When I became a student of Performance Management, I noticed Mom’s advice turned up in most books and lectures – although expressed differently. Stephen R. Covey refers to the idea of Empathic Listening many times throughout 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, he addresses it specifically in Habit 5 as ‘Seek First To Understand, Then To Be Understood’.

It’s not surprising when I became a student of Mindfulness I quickly saw the connection to Stephen R. Coveys work since Empathic Listening is similar to Mindful ListeningI now believe this empowering pair of Performance Management and Mindfulness make a great – supportive partnership.

Seek First To Understand, Then To Be Understood

Empathic Listening

Empathic listening means we turn off our filter of ‘How is that going to affect me/my team/my goals’. Mindful Listening

Empathic listening means we listen FIRST with an open, respectful mindset of ‘let me try to understand this persons’ needs, goals, pressures and feelings’. Empathic Listening focuses on the speaker, building trust and seeking to understand because where trust and understanding exists, people will openly – actively look for opportunities to help you.

If you think about how you’ll respond while someone is speaking, you are not practicing Empathic Listening or Mindful Listening. Don’t confuse Empathic Listening and Mindful Listening with reflective listening or mimicking. Empathic Listening and Mindful Listening are much more involved.

Four Styles We Use To Respond

We traditionally respond using one of four styles. Unfortunately these don’t often build trust with the people we are communicating, therefore,  change in our behaviour is required. These four styles are:Empathy At Work

  • We evaluate (either agree or disagree… using our own experience as reference)
  • We probe (ask questions… using our own experience as reference)
  • We advise (give council… using our own experience as reference)
  • We interpret (we make assumptions about their motives… using our own experience as reference)

These response types do not use empathy. The following demonstrates a positive approach to empathic listening; a very similar approach I learned when I began studying Mindfulness. It requires we use empathy to focus on what someone is saying, AND how someone is feeling.

Example V1 (Using Empathy):

  • Customer. “I hate the long lineups here.”
  • Store Manager. “I’m sensing that you are feeling frustrated by the long wait times you are experiencing.”
  • Customer. “That’s part of it, it bothers me that my Mom doesn’t have a place to sit.”
  • Store Manager. “I see, you’re feeling concerned that Mom doesn’t have a place to sit.”
  • Customer. “Yes. It means mom feels tired for the rest of the day and I’m worried she might fall either here or after she leaves because she’s so tired. She really likes to get out of the house – but she may have to stop coming here.”

Notice the Store Manager kept exploring the customers feelings.

Example V2 (Traditional):

  • Customer. “I hate the long lineups here.”
  • Store Manager. “I’m sorry about the lineups. I have a plan to put on more staff next week to take care of it.”

The important learning from this example is that by exploring feelings the people we speak with have opportunity to correct our incorrect assumptions and add clarity to what they’ve said. This process also helps the person you’re speaking with explore his or her own thoughts and feelings. Sometimes they can even resolve their own challenges… or at least be calmer and more open to consider multiple options. In this short example two important things have already happened.

  1. The customer has gone from hate and frustration to less volatile feelings of concern and worry. This means they are likely becoming easier to interact with.
  2. Everyone realizes the biggest challenge isn’t the wait times; it’s the need for places to sit.
  • Without knowledge, the solution was to add more staff – which may still not eliminate all wait times.
  • With knowledge, the Win/Win solution is to purchase a few chairs – it’s quick, inexpensive and long-term.

Diagnose Before You Prescribe

Before becoming a corporate trainer focusing on individual and team effectiveness I worked for Scotiabank in Corporate Marketing and helped Product Managers develop and market product enhancements.  We would spend time with clients and the Corporate Sales teams to identify both client needs/priorities as well as evaluate how to best market these products / enhancements. We had to understand needs before we designed and implemented product enhancements sales training and sales resources. We diagnosed before we prescribed solutions.

Stephen provides a very good example of Diagnose Before You Prescribe in 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People.

Optometrist Example.

A patient needs glasses so his optometrist gives the patient his own glasses because they work so well for him. Unfortunately, they make it worse for the patient and the patient politely tells him so.  The optometrist responds by saying the patient was ungrateful because he knows the glasses work perfectly.

Clearly the doctor didn’t try to diagnose before he prescribed a solution and was using a one-size-fits all approach.  The doctor failed to ‘Understand’.

Empathy At Work Takes Too Much Time

Nonsense.

Some people say empathy at work takes too much time. It does take time, but the most efficient thing you can do is to be in the present moment and be patient. Consider all of the days, money and resources wasted when we don’t seek first to understand.

Doctor Example Of Empathy At Work Taking Too Much Time:

Consider how much time a doctor would save if they did the following:

  • Everyone that came in with a headache – the doctor gave an aspirin and sent away
  • Everyone that came in with an upset stomach – the doctor gave an antacid and sent away
  • Everyone that came in with a sore arm – the doctor gave a tourniquet and sent away

During a day there would be lots of people seen but few provided appropriate care. These patients would either come back to that doctor or be escalated to a hospital… wasting time and money for everyone including the doctor.

Conclusion 

Different people will see the same challenge differently… and this is a good thing. I might be creative – you analytical. Many of our values may also be different.  By being patient with each other we can explore a richness to find a Win/Win solution.

The empathic listener can actually get to the important needs / objectives quickly so that the focus is on the Important Work / Quadrant II Work. When you truly focus on understanding someone’s needs and feelings, it becomes easier to calmly find intersections with your own goals / objectives where you can focus on your circle of influence and work toward a mutually beneficial WIN/WIN solution.

Ultimately – people want to be understood so I encourage you practice your listening skills.

Happy communicating.

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, Multigenerational Training, Time Management and Mindfulness.

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

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

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

Click on the image to watch us on Canada AM.

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

Reference Material:

  • Stephen R. Covey: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People ©
  • Michael Bungay Stanier: Do More Great Work ©
  • Zindel Segal  Jon Kabat-Zin (general)
  • My experience

7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Habit 4: Think Win/Win

Does your organization think Win/Win? In most organizations their employee reward systems are hurting sales, fulfillment, profit, employee satisfaction and their brand reputation because their reward systems are designed to have employees compete against each other – not compete as a team in a Win/Win environment.

Example:

Imagine we have 10 sales people. The yearend reward system is structured as follows:

  • The Top sales person gets an all expense paid vacation. He/she feel great.
  • Next two sales people get a weekend away. Unfortunately, they still feel like they’ve lost.
  • The remaining 7 people (who still performed well), receive a standard raise, unfortunately they really feel they’ve lost.

In addition:

  • The Top sales person likely reached their goal early so stopped selling… or put off sales to help ensure they win Top prize next year.
  • Winner 2 and 3 might have also stopped selling early if they knew they could not catch the Top sales person.
  • The pride and morale of the remaining 7 has certainly taken a significant hit. In addition, they likely knew they were not going to be in the top three early on which means they stopped working on their stretch goal early on.
  • And finally… there are now between 7 and 9 people who likely feel under-valued and who might be looking for an employer who does make them feel valued (and the Top person might feel they deserve better).

There are many challenges with this all too common scenario including two often-overlooked disadvantages:

  • The company didn’t win; in fact the company lost because most if not all of their sales people held back sales or lost motivation.
  • The customers didn’t win because sales people likely delayed important sales or provided unmotivated customer service.

Imagine the benefit of a Win/Win environment where everyone wants to do their best. Imagine the success and the influence the Top 3 sales people could have had if they acted as mentors – teaching best practices to the other 7 members while utilizing their energy, excitement and creativity. Imagine the long-term benefit and brand reputation that develops when customers experience a fully integrated organization that is clearly focused on their satisfaction.

When the internal organizational structures are in place to support a Win/Win approach, personal ability and team performance are magnified. The success each individual – team – and organization experience are greater than if they were working against each other – not trusting each other.

Dimensions of a Win/Win Solution

Clearly when it’s Win/Win everyone benefits except the competition. When it’s Win/Lose there is someone who will not be 100% invested… which means employees, customers and the business are the losers while your competition benefits.

Stephen R. Covey describes the principle of a Win/Win relationship requiring 3 mutual experiences for all involved.  Those being:

Bruce Speaking On Global TV

Bruce Speaking On Global TV about Millennials

  1. Mutual Learning
  2. Mutual Influence
  3. Mutual Benefit

Stephen R. Covey also describes the principle of a Win/Win relationship needing to be supported by 3 personal / interpersonal and 2 organizational traits. I would suggest that All 5 of these foundational traits need to be nurtured by the organization… not just the last 2. Therefore, allowing room for my interpretation these Win/Win personal and organizational traits can be broken down as follows:

  • Character (Personal / Interpersonal and Organizational)
    • Integrity
    • Maturity
    • Abundance Mentality
  • Relationship (Personal / Interpersonal and Organizational)
    • Trust
    • Respect
    • Credibility
  • Agreement to Cooperate (Personal / Interpersonal and Organizational)
    • Goal
    • Guidelines
    • Resources
    • Responsibility / Accountability
    • Consequences
      • Financial
      • Psychological
      • Opportunity
      • Responsibility
  • Support Systems (Organizational)
  • Processes (Organizational)

The Win/Win paradigm believes that everyone can fulfill their dreams / goals because team success will provide enough for everyone to share.

Implementing a Win/Win Solution

One of the first steps when integrating an innovative Win/Win corporate environment is to align all internal reward and recognition systems. This is critical! Good faith and trust are paramount and can overcome previously existing structural and cultural barriers, however, if one department or Leader rewards Win/Lose (internal competition), then the whole organizational ecosystem and success is in jeopardy.

Win/Win cannot exist in an environment of internal competition

Win/Win can thrive in an environment of external competition 

External competition is good as long as it does not create competition internally – even between one team and another.  It can be used to help identify a goal – even a stretch goal for the team / organization to reach. Internal competition is not a friend of Win/Win – it undermines the trust required. One of the rare circumstances a variation of internal completion can be used would be to compete against last years results, market norms or other business / products / services in the market.

For Win/Win to work, the systems have to support it.  The training system, the planning system, the communication system, the budgeting system, the information system, the compensation system – all have to be based on the principle of Win/Win.” Stephen R. Covey.

Stephen suggests individuals / teams can align their objectives for mutual benefit by using a 4 step approach. I offer these 4 steps below – with my expanded insight:

  1. Look at the problem [assignment / situation] with an open [creative] mind [that considers what can be done – not what can’t be done.  This positive approach to thinking is called affirmative action]
  2. Identify [and agree upon] objectives
  3. Identify [and agree upon] approaches, [process, threats and resources]
  4. Identify [and agree upon] tactics to meet your objectives

In the end – living within a Win/Win paradigm requires individuals and organizations to embrace a culture of honesty, integrity, maturity and abundance. A Win/Win solution balances efforts on both the P (Production), as well as the PC (Production Capability)… caring for the output while also ensuring the process that creates the output is cared for. Stephen calls this investment ‘sharpening the saw’ in habit #3.

Conclusion

Having a business culture of Win/Win is within reach and quite inexpensive – especially when considering the financial benefits. The key ingredients of a Win/Win organizational culture and brand reputation is to design all access to information, reporting and rewards to ensure everyone when there is a win that everyone (the individuals, teams and the organization) win; hence the Win/Win paradigm.

Happy communicating, creating workplace harmony and reducing employee turnover.

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, Multigenerational Training, Time Management and Mindfulness.

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

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

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

Click on the image to watch us on Canada AM.

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

Reference Material:

  • Stephen R. Covey: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People ©
  • Michael Bungay Stanier: Do More Great Work ©
  • My experience
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