People Development Australia https://www.peopledevelop.com.au Thu, 09 May 2019 07:47:38 +0000 en-AU hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.1.1 https://www.peopledevelop.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/cropped-people-development-australia_logo-100x100.png People Development Australia https://www.peopledevelop.com.au 32 32 Stay Humble – 6 tips for leaders https://www.peopledevelop.com.au/stay-humble-6-tips-for-leader/ https://www.peopledevelop.com.au/stay-humble-6-tips-for-leader/#comments Sun, 02 Sep 2018 06:33:25 +0000 http://obnoxious-crate.flywheelsites.com/?p=1218 Leader behaviour comes in many shades and styles but more and more leadership experts are beginning to recognise the extremely important role that being able to stay humble plays in effective leadership.

Humble leaders are able to recognise their mistakes, learn from others, give credit where credit is due, and keep their personal egos in check. But don’t mistake humility for weakness or for being ‘soft’.

When we think of traits leaders typically exhibit, many come to mind—including strength, charisma, enthusiasm, and vision. But in a competitive environment, high egos, self-promotion and driving the team hard is quite the norm when it comes to the domain of the leader. Being a courageous humble leader takes confidence. It is being bold but not brash, resolute but not rebellious. It is self–confidence balanced with self-effacement. Arrogance, on the other hand, is the impoverished cousin of dignity. Only the truly fearless recognise the power that comes with humility.

When talking to leaders are lacking in the area of humility I often reflect on the work of Jim Collins, author of Good to Great. Collins identifies five levels of leaders and notes that Level 5 executives, those displaying the best traits of leadership, build enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will. They channel their egos away from themselves and into the larger goal of building a great company or organisation. At a deeper level, he found that for leaders to make something great, their ambition had to be for the greatness of the work and the company, rather than for themselves.

It’s not that Level 5 leaders have no ego or self-interest. Indeed, they are incredibly ambitious—but their ambition is first and foremost for the institution, not themselves. They apportion credit to factors outside themselves (mainly other members of their team) when things go well. At the same time, they take personal responsibility when things go poorly.

Can you be too humble? At some stages in your career, perhaps you can. There are occasions when some leaders who are aiming to become leaders at the top of the strategic apex of the organsation, need to lift up their leadership ‘brand’ by self-promotion and assertive behaviour to compete with their naturally ego driven co-workers. But in the long term they will be more effective leaders once they reach positions where they can make a difference, and the need to impress to get to the top is over.

So what are some ways to stay humbler?

1. Be open to others’ opinions

Humble leaders seek input from others to ensure they have all the facts and are making decisions that are in the best interest of the team. No one person has all the answers. If you think you do, then it’s probably time to reassess.

People want to work for people who value their opinions. Effectively humble leaders are comfortable asking for input and can just as easily be decisive and make the call independently when the situation calls for it.

2. Tend to others’ needs

Team performance is typically much higher when team members believe their leaders are truly looking out for their best interests. That doesn’t mean hand-holding, but it does mean caring about the environment in which your team is working and ensuring that they have what they need to do a good job.

While intelligence and skill are typically good predictors of team performance, the quality of humility—especially in a team’s leadership—can be a better performance predictor.

3. Admit mistakes and be ok with vulnerability

It’s tough to be transparent and open—even those who consider themselves humble don’t want to look like they’ve messed up. But, as human beings we all make mistakes. When you’re willing to share your own missteps, and how you dealt with and recovered from them, you earn trust from your team. Vulnerability based trust is currently much talked about in leadership research.

4. Give up control from time to time

Many leaders want to control everything. But some things can’t be known up front. You have to know when to take charge—or when to let go and not try to force everything to go your way.

5. Self-reflect

Like many leadership skills, humility may not come easily to everyone. Understand the importance of self-reflection. Ask others for feedback, undertake a 360 feedback process, keep a reflective log on what behaviours you use and if they are successful or need changing to stay humble.

6. Let people do their jobs

Micromanaging kills morale—and it isn’t very humble. Choose good people, train them, then get out of the way and let them do their jobs . It can take humility to admit that your way isn’t the only way or even that some people are better at certain roles than you. The humble leader accepts these truths and allows others’ strengths to work for the good of the team or organisation without interference.

Resolve to work on your own humility and you’ll begin to notice and appreciate its power all around you. Don’t be afraid to speak of your own failures, weaknesses and blind spots, and how they have informed your learning and ultimate success. Doing so will make us all more effective leaders and better performers.

How do you stay humble? What are your thoughts? Tips?

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4 models to break down the complexity of leadership https://www.peopledevelop.com.au/4-models-break-complexity-leadership/ https://www.peopledevelop.com.au/4-models-break-complexity-leadership/#respond Thu, 07 Jun 2018 00:18:14 +0000 http://obnoxious-crate.flywheelsites.com/?p=2352 Have you ever Googled the word “Leadership”? If so, you’ll find about 800 million search results – it is massive! There will be some junk in there, but there are also brilliant, helpful and practical insights from people who’ve spent a lifetime leading or studying leadership and are willing to share their wisdom with the rest of us. The problem is trying to organise and make sense of all this information, and it can be overwhelming. In this newsletter, we’ll tell you about the four models we use to break down this complexity and define the most important leader behaviours, and four steps you can use to help develop your leaders.

So how do organisations figure out how to effectively develop leaders? Common questions include; what should a leader focus on in a development program? How do we change a leader’s behaviour? How do we help them to understand the value of certain behaviours that are missing from their view of leadership?

From a practitioner’s point of view, it is also about identifying the best and most important ideas about leadership. How do we make leadership theory accessible? How do we take the mystery out of leadership, and define a leader’s responsibilities as clearly as possible?
The goal is to provide straightforward explanations of where a leader might choose to target their personal development efforts. I work in the leader learning space and it’s my job to ensure that people not only have access to this information, but that they can actually understand and adopt it.

Leadership development, like any personal development, is about energy. Where do you put your energy and how much do you put in to that growth area? Leadership development cannot be ‘one size fits all’ – it needs to specifically identify the areas of behaviour that resonate with people around a leader, creating awareness of the behaviour, developing new behaviours, or changing the leader’s perception of its value.
Identifying some of the deepest, “below the surface” thoughts, feelings, assumptions, and beliefs is usually a precondition of behavioural change: one too often shirked in development programs. For example, promoting the virtues of delegation and empowerment is fine in theory, but successful adoption is unlikely if the leader has a clear, “controlling” mind-set (‘I can’t lose my grip on the business; I’m personally accountable and only I should make the decisions’). It’s true that some personality traits such as extroversion or introversion, are difficult to shift but people can change the way they see the world and understand the value of different types of behaviour.

While strength based leadership philosophies have some sound applications, I believe multidimensional leaders are more effective in responding to the shifting circumstances than leaders who cling to what they believe they do best (see article One dimensional Leadership).
Our answer to the above dilemmas is to provide leaders at all levels with straightforward methods to understand their personal leadership equations, and more importantly, show them best practice models to increase their flexibility in navigating beyond their comfort zones of leadership behaviour.

To break down the complexity of leadership, we measure leader behaviour using some of the best tools available; identifying behaviours that should be celebrated as a leader, but also behaviours to be developed such as behaviours linked to best practice leadership theory and content.
The goal is to take the mystery out of leadership and define a leader’s responsibilities as clearly as possible. The solution is a suite of tools and programs that we would like to share with you in this newsletter. Feel free to sign into out Public Resources page to access copies of these profiles and tools

 

1. Managing Self; Genos Emotional Intelligence Survey- how a leader’s emotions affect their behaviour, decisions and performance

2. Managing Relationships; DiSC four behavioural styles when working with others

3. Managing a Team; 363 for Leaders – a 360-degree leader development tool to measure 24 leader behaviours

4. Leading an organisation; Work of Leaders – measures the leader across 18 behaviours in managing the organisation

Here are some steps we like to use in developing leaders;

1. Exploring patterns of behaviour
This step uses tools, feedback processes and leader competency frameworks to identify and measure a leader’s behaviour. This can include behavioural profile tools, self-assessment tools, 360 feedback, your organisation leadership competency framework, or (my favourite) 365 feedback (feedback every day of the year).

2. Generating and testing awareness
Is the leader aware of their behaviour and the impact on others? 360 feedback often provides a ‘self’ and ‘others’ rating that can measure self-awareness, which is crucial to leadership effectiveness. Is the leader aware they act the way they do? Are they aware how their behaviours impact others within their team (e.g motivate or demotivate)? Do the leader’s behaviours drive the effectiveness and performance of their business unit or the organisation? Do they value the behaviour that others see as important?

3, Explore common psychological drivers associated with each behaviour
What stops someone from showing confidence? Taking charge? Being humble? Showing empathy and recognition? Many tools give you a good insight to some of the ways the leader might view their world. “I view myself as successful if I am strong – empathy and recognition are soft and are the opposite to strong” or “I view myself as successful if I have supportive relationships and sound connections – conflict and holding people accountable upsets harmony within the workplace and should be avoided” – these could be some of the underlining views of behaviour. Good coaching and counselling can assist with the identification of these drivers and can pinpoint how these drives impact on the leader’s effectiveness.

4. Exploring lessons and suggestions to help increase effectiveness
Coaching is a great future-focused, goal-oriented option for the growth of leaders but there are many other ways for leaders to develop their approach. Reading, developing business networks, a sound mentor, further study, self-reflection and embracing challenges, can all be avenues to increase a leader’s effectiveness.

If you would like to explore ways to develop your leader contact us

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How to lead with inspiration! https://www.peopledevelop.com.au/test-blog-1/ https://www.peopledevelop.com.au/test-blog-1/#respond Thu, 01 Mar 2018 08:30:52 +0000 http://peopledevelop.happilyorganisedhosting.com/?p=376

When the authors of The Work of Leaders asked 13,000 people to rate how inspiring they thought they were on a five-point scale, fewer than one in five gave themselves the top score.

Clearly people who think they’re inspiring are in the minority, yet many leaders also over-estimate their ability to ‘rally the troops’ – that is, to inspire their teams.

Maybe there’s a problem with the definition. ‘Inspiration’ sounds like something esoteric and guru-like, but it comes from the simplest of words: it’s Latin for ‘breathe in’.

In this article we invite you to think more simply about inspiration, and about how you might harness its power and use it in your leadership style to breathe life into your work and the work of those around you. If you want your teams to get on board with anything from day to day tasks to the organisation’s goals and vision, inspiration is a crucial part of your job.

So what might inspiring leadership look like? In our Work of Leaders Program we break inspiration down into two parts: being expressive and being encouraging. It’s sending the message, through what you say and how you say it, “You matter and this matters.”

Being expressive (high energy)

This isn’t about loud cheerleading, it’s about expressing your thoughts and feelings in a genuine way, so that you convey and create emotional engagement.

In Primal Leadership, Daniel Goleman—a pioneer in Emotional Intelligence—notes that employees tend to perceive the business environment through the eyes of their leaders. What that means is that the moods, opinions and actions of leaders will rub off on employees. A leader who expresses cynicism, uncertainty or pessimism will find those low energies reflected in the group.

So does that mean you should be wildly positive at all times? No. Some leaders fear being ‘too optimistic’; they feel they are putting their credibility on the line or setting themselves up for a fall. Some feel that being low-energy is more dignified, controlled—more businesslike.

But there is a difference between being blindly optimistic and being inspiring. A leader who expresses optimism with confidence—even if it’s just in the idea that things can improve—will find themselves surrounded by a much more inspired, can-do team.

Being Encouraging (positive energy)

Noted research psychologist John Gottman is able to predict whether couples will stay together with over 90 percent accuracy just by analysing a three-minute video clip of a conversation between them. How? Because his research showed that couples with healthy relationships have a 5:1 ratio of positive exchanges to negative exchanges. Below 2:1 and the relationship almost always fails.

We say being encouraging is like putting deposits into the emotional bank account of your staff. Meeting pressing deadlines, tough projects, jumping through hoops of systems and policies—these are often withdrawals from the emotional bank account. Without a high enough ratio of positive exchanges (deposits) to negatives (withdrawals) you will notice disengagement, loss of commitment and people will opt out. People work better if there are carrots, not just sticks. How often do you deliver five positive messages to every negative?

Tips for inspiration

• To be an inspiring leader you first need to be clear in your own mind about why you do what you do, and about just how amazing the results will be when you and your team reach the goals you have set.
• Be aware of your body language and mood—what’s rubbing off on your team?
• Think about your own tendencies—are you naturally optimistic or sceptical? If you tend to be sceptical, can you lift your game when energy is required
• What does your passion feel like? Can you describe it? What sparks it?
• Do you express optimism and encouragement? People aren’t psychic and some don’t know they’re appreciated unless they’re told. Remember, feedback is reactive, encouragement proactive.
• Set the agenda: find talking points that engage people emotionally, provide a common aspiration and come up with a rallying cry.
• Consider your audience creatively: what encouragement can you give that your people really care about?

True leaders know when inspiration is required and how to use it to lead. Being an inspiring leader isn’t about being some guru on a mountain, dispensing platitudes. It’s about finding your own passion, and then breathing it out so others can breathe it in.

More information

If you would like an audio clip on being an Inspirational leader contact us.

What are your thoughts on this topic – comment on our LinkedIn discussion page

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5 tips to stop gossip in the workplace https://www.peopledevelop.com.au/5-tips-to-stop-gossip-in-the-workplace/ https://www.peopledevelop.com.au/5-tips-to-stop-gossip-in-the-workplace/#respond Sat, 09 Sep 2017 02:40:50 +0000 http://obnoxious-crate.flywheelsites.com/?p=956 Gossiping about other people, and being critical of them, is a way of finding common ground with others, and of building up intimacy as you share information that is a little bit dangerous and private.

Social scientists tell us gossip is a time honoured and popular way to increase social functioning and connection. The truth is, we all gossip, because we all talk about other people. When we say we don’t like gossip, what we really mean is that we don’t like gossip about us or people we like.

 

Often we think that such talk with others helps us connect and enhances the relationship – often we get positive signs from others when we do ‘share’ such information. The problem is that it is a negative common ground, and a false intimacy that deflects attention from the fact that the people involved aren’t actually sharing anything about themselves. So what are the hidden negative effects of gossip and what are some tips to limit gossip in the workplace?

 

The negative effects of gossip are strained relationships, mistrust, discontentment, even anger, and decreased productivity. For example, how much time have you wasted, in long conversations, complaining to others about the assistant who isn’t as helpful as he could be, or your boss that is not treating you how you would like, or how you know that that other department has a hidden agenda that conflicts with your team’s goals!

 

Gossip can be an addictive problem – especially in the workplace. Not only does it cause distraction, it can cause distress for the person being discussed, stress on the leadership who then has to find the source and stop the problem, and decrease productivity for the business. Here are 5 tips to stop gossip in the workplace:

 

Tip 1 – Know what gossip is

Friendly work banter and gossip are worlds apart. But how do you tell the difference? Consider the following:

 

Discussion: A friendly work discussion that talks about others keeps the references to other people general, friendly and supportive. The speaker is not obsessed with picking holes in another person’s character but is merely imparting information about what another person or people have done in a matter-of-fact way, to further an objective, work-related conversation and to enlighten the listener about work relevant information;

 

Gossip: Gossip tends to be talk that gains attention for the speaker. The speaker will often adopt a confidential tone and is using the information about somebody else to be the center of attention and will impart the details in a way that tries to undermine the credibility or likability of another person. The details may be given with moralising undertones and character assassination may be the top of the gossip’s agenda. Often you are told more personal details than you care to know about. The motivations behind gossip include attention-seeking, self-inflation, exaggeration and a me-versus-them mentality;

 

Grapevine gossip: This is gossip pertaining to general change occurring within a workplace. Someone started it and now it is running about like wildfire. Usually this happens in an uncertain environment and is fuelled by fear, poor communications from management levels and wild guesses by staff. It is less personal than gossip attacking another person but is as equally damaging and demoralising.

 

 

Tip 2 – Addressing your own behaviour first

 

Model the behaviour you want to see. Employees will look to you for what behaviours are acceptable and unacceptable, and you need to ensure you are “walking the talk” at all times and leading by example.

 

If you participate in work gossip, you perpetuate it and you belittle yourself and your personal leadership brand. In particular, if you have leadership aspirations, or you are already in a position of leadership, any participation in work gossip by you will be viewed negatively and as anti-team spirited. Always ask yourself about your motivation when discussing others in a personal way within the work context; if you are talking about them to ingratiate yourself with others or to make yourself appear better, than it is likely that you are gossiping.

 

Tip 3 – Address the serial gossipers

Some people gossip because they enjoy it or they feel insecure about others in the workplace. Most gossipers are pure attention-seekers. Address any specific team members on a personal level by directly addressing the key gossipers one-on-one confidentially. Your goal is to help the person understand the impact of their behaviour and the consequences to the team and their personal brand by such behaviour.

 

Tip 4 – Create a culture that discourages gossip.

It is important that your team is aware of how gossip is treated in your workplace. Provide examples of what your workplace considers to be gossip and provide examples of how to avoid this type of negative interaction.

 

Promote a culture of mutual consideration and create a clause to be included in any employee guideline or codes of behaviour. Let people know that gossip is not welcomed here through conversation, charters, codes and promotional material.

 

Discuss the issue with your entire team. This can be done by including “gossip” as a topic for discussion in a team meeting and helping the team understand the differences between negative gossip and positive gossip and the ramifications of each. Work with your team on ideas and expectations

 

Tip 5 – Silence is filled with negativity – be open where possible and show the math

In times of change, setbacks and delays within the workplace you need to address workplace gossip with speed, support and honesty. In the absence of information your team will not ‘look on the bright side of life’ and head for the positive aspects of the change. During times of rapid change and uncertainty in a workplace, gossip will naturally increase due to fear and anticipated negative outcomes. It is important to realise this and to sort the fear factor from the facts. If you are a team leader, be a source of reassurance to your team by acknowledging their fears and worries. Armed with prior researched facts, tell them what you do know; equally tell them what you don’t know and do not make things up. When you don’t know something, tell them that you’ll find out. Be the rock that supports them and diverts gossip back on itself.

 

As a leader you should be open and honest whenever possible – show the math and explain the rationale behind your decisions. Leaders who exhibit high positive energy even in times of tough change will help to bring their team through challenging periods.

 

Encourage positive gossip. Positive gossip can actually be good for workplace and employees. This is when managers and employees share positive stories.

 

“If you propose to speak, always ask yourself, is it true, is it necessary, is it kind” –Buddha

 

What are your tips to reduce gossip in the workplace?

 

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Giving feedback in the workplace https://www.peopledevelop.com.au/giving-feedback-in-the-workplace/ https://www.peopledevelop.com.au/giving-feedback-in-the-workplace/#respond Fri, 07 Jul 2017 09:33:11 +0000 http://peopledevelop.happilyorganisedhosting.com/?p=378 Giving feedback in the workplace is a crucial skill for leaders. Performance reviews, counselling, rewarding, behaviour adjustment are all part of a leaders role in managing a team. The feedback sandwich, SIB and 360s are some of the tools and models used to walk this tightrope.

Giving feedback in the workplace requires you as the leader to get involved – some leaders see it as a discretionary task, one saved for annual reviews or when serious problems arise.

There is a delicate balance when giving feedback. At the centre of all feedback are two opposing human needs:
• Our need to learn and grow as a person
• Our need to be accepted just the way we are

Balancing these two opposing needs can be challenging for the person giving the feedback and the person receiving the feedback. We’ve all heard of the horror stories of feedback that’s gone wrong and the consequences; resentment, disengagement and anger.

So how do we walk this fine line to give feedback that allows our leaders to grow while ensuring that we accept them, their unique traits and some of their flaws?

Addressing problems and offering more praise

Giving feedback in the workplace is often required for two main reasons. Addressing problems or offering praise. While one of these feedback practices may come naturally to you, it’s unlikely that both of them do. The Work of Leaders research project analysed these two skills. Leaders were asked to rate how well they do with each of these practices with some interesting discoveries. First, leaders are more than twice as likely to see themselves as very good at “giving praise” as they are at “addressing problems.” Furthermore, in the WOL analysis, fewer than one in twelve leaders claim to excel at both feedback practices.

Usually a leader is good at one and not the other. They find it easy to offer praise but may find it hard to provide critical feedback. Or they are good a critical feedback but saying “thanks” is too ‘gushy’ The best practice in driving task accomplishment and engagement lies on the right hand side of the below two continuum.

Addressing Problems

Addressing problems comes easy to some leaders, they roll their sleaves up and show some tough love leadership when required. In fact, some people actually do enjoy criticising and calling others out. School kids have a name for this: bullying. And be sure, if candor is done recklessly it kills transparency and improvement. For others it is tough. It means disrupting the harmony of the workplace. Many leaders want to avoid confrontations or hurt feelings, they don’t want to interrupt the flow of progress. It’s easy to understand the temptation to smooth it all over.

The goal in addressing problems is to develop a culture of candour, transparency and trust. A culture where modelling the right way to point out problems and give corrective feedback can be done in an open, productive way. The skills and behaviours in setting up a culture are higher level and require open communications, emotional intelligence and trust.

Many leaders I work with also find it hard to structure problem solving feedback. They are too forceful and use blaming descriptions of behaviour that is threatening to the person receiving the feedback. Others are too submissive and code, hint, and give ‘fluffy’ feedback that the receiver finds hard to interpret and to understand. Assertiveness models help in this area. Some of these models are listed below.

Offering Praise

Praise and reassurance, It might feel a little pathetic to say out loud or even admit it to ourselves, but more of our motivations, relationships and insecurities are driven by this simple psychological need than any other. We want to know that we have worth as people and that others accept us.

When people feel valued by their leader and their group, it becomes a part of them. They internalise the group’s goals and their work has meaning. Conversely, when people don’t feel appreciated, they slowly remove themselves from the group emotionally. Generally, I find leaders fall into two categories here – leaders where offering praise comes naturally and they are good at it. Others who don’t recognise that people need to be recognised (“I pay them, why do I need to thank them?”), and those that find it difficult to find ways to provide recognition (I don’t have a suite of ways to recognise my staff).

The other complicating dimension is that reward and recognition is an individual equation – some people like public recognition others prefer more private praise. The type of reward will have different types of meaning. The personal assistant I meet last year that was award an overseas holiday after receiving the employee of the year. Great work but she does not have a passport and hates to fly.

It’s important that you don’t assume that people know you appreciate their work and its important that you don’t assume the best way to give recognition – both take work. Find ways to celebrate milestones and build recognition opportunities into your day to dayn planing. Recognising the offering more praise is important as part of the feedback process, some tips for doing so are listed below.

Summary

Our ability as leaders to be hands on when it comes to addressing issues and to reward and recognise our teams is a key to engagement. Your behavioural style, values and workplace experience will drive your behaviour in these areas. An understanding of your own natural strengths and behavioural development will be important to the development of your own leaders role. Workplaces need leaders that are multidimensional, leaders that are emotionally intelligent enough to address problems and who can also offer praise and are comfortable in proving genuine positive feedback. Our ability to undertake these behaviours will ultimately be a lead factor contributing to team and organisational success.

Tips for addressing problems

• Develop an open culture where candid conversations are encouraged. 365 feedback – feedback every day of the year.
• Decide if the problem really does need to be addressed or if you need to alter your expectations (don’t sweet the small stuff)
• Clearly identify what the problem is (is it about missing a deadline or is it really about letting the team down and damaging their reputation?)
• Use assertive communications and models that may be helpful to provide structure
o “I” statements. I see, I feel, I want.
o Feedback sandwich (Positive, negative, positive) Sometimes controversial if you ‘flower’ negative feedback with positive feedback that masks the negative. Don’t make up positive feedback if there is none
o SBI – Situation, Behaviour, Impact – describe the situation, the behaviour that you are concerned about and what the impact this behaviours has on your or your team
o Be solution focused – ask for solutions first rather than telling problems to test self-awareness. Focus on the solution (or problem) and not the people

Tips for offering praise

• Reward behaviour that you want more of
• See it and say it
• Be specific
• Get in early
• Get the rewards right – develop a list of rewards suitable for your team and individuals
• Be a fly on the wall – notice what employees do
• Keep it simple – It’s often the little things that make a lasting impression (a personal note, a thank you card, applause etc)
• Develop a recognition profile for your team members
• Note key dates and facts – birthdays, start dates, partners name, children’s names
• Identify favourite things – hobbies and interests, coffee or tea, books and movies, pet peeves. Use these things in your reward suite
• Identify ways to reward – preferred style of praise, develop a reward and recognition ideas list

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Mean spirited conflict in the workplace https://www.peopledevelop.com.au/mean-spirited-conflict-in-the-workplace/ https://www.peopledevelop.com.au/mean-spirited-conflict-in-the-workplace/#respond Sun, 09 Oct 2016 22:33:07 +0000 http://obnoxious-crate.flywheelsites.com/?p=1397

When you hear the term “mean spirited”, what kind of person comes to mind? It’s a term that often comes up in many of our workplaces, and produces images of personal attacks and dysfunctional games that manifest in so many ways; holding back information, sabotage, blame, attacking, gossip, stonewalling and the like.

I see a “mean spirited” person as someone who causes others mental, emotional or physical harm purely for their own pleasure. It may be about personal gain, lift their own self-esteem, or create a sense of satisfaction in putting others down. It’s a few steps up the continuum from inconsiderate conflict, which is more about blind behaviour, bad manners, and is not necessarily intentional. Both forms of conflict are destructive within a team.

Different types of conflict can yield different results. We know that healthy conflict fosters growth, creativity and the generation of new ideas (read our article on “Why conflict is Essential to Forward Motion”). But if individuals move away from candid conversations regarding ideas and concepts, and towards interpersonal, mean spirited conflict, the consequences will usually be dysfunctional teams, high turnover and poor results.

We all have ways to deal with difference within the workplace. Some of us use productive behaviours when we feel resistance, encounter opposition or perceive that someone is frustrating our efforts. We can view difference functionally and take steps to address it through alternative productive behaviours such as:

  • Determining the root of the problem
  • Communicating respectfully
  • Introspecting and being aware of our own feelings
  • Stepping back and reflecting to ensure we have perspective on the issue
  • Seeking active resolution despite the poor behaviours of others
  • Giving people space and time if needed without pushing too hard for your own needs to be met
  • Avoiding the placement of blame

All of these behaviours require high levels of emotional intelligence, an appreciation of behavioural style, self-awareness and sound communication strategies.

However sometimes our responses can be more harmful than good. For many of us, conflict situations are threatening, which may lead to responses that are instinctual and defensive and we may use childhood strategies to get our own way. It’s our instinct to protect ourselves, leading to knee-jerk responses that we many not even think about, and that we may later regret. Some of these behaviours can be subtle, others can be very forceful in nature. Examples include:

  • Arguing
  • Belittling
  • Becoming overly dramatic
  • Becoming hypercritical
  • Revenge and looking to even the score
  • Sarcasm
  • Stonewalling and becoming non-receptive
  • Withdrawing and clamming up
  • Defensiveness
  • Dismissing opinions
  • Drama
  • Overpowering
  • Exaggerating the problem

There are many reasons for mean spirited behaviour – take a simple one like exaggeration. Exaggeration is a way of making something sound as bad as it feels to us personally, it attracts attention to our perception of an injustice that is very important to us, it legitimises our intense reaction and it’s also empowering. For example, which of these sounds more powerful? “You’re always late!” or “You’re sometimes late!” We find ways to make our case seem much more powerful and defensible. Who wants to choose a weaker argument when a much more powerful argument is right there for the taking?  However the unfortunate consequence is that this sends a clear signal to the other person that we’re not ready to be reasonable, that we’re in combat mode and that we’re more interested in winning than reaching a fair resolution.

Behaviour can also be narcissistic (read our article “Monsters in the Workplace – Narcissistic Leaders”), manipulative, and involve greater use of mean spirited behaviour such as total exclusion. Exclusion can feel like a perfect tool to get back at someone or to hurt them – the allure comes from flexing our social muscle to ensure that the other person feels the pain of isolation, that they feel sorry for crossing us, and it sends the message that “I have the ability to take away your relationships”. By disrupting their standing in the group, we gain support for our side of the story. We can shape how people perceive the conflict. The other person now knows that they have to manage their relationship with us because they know we’re willing to engage in power plays or burn them if things don’t go our way.

With such deeply rooted and often unconscious strategies at play, how do we move from mean spirited conflict to productive conflict? Here are some tips:

  • Continually explore when and why you use any of the destructive forms of conflict – become more self-aware of the strategies you use to get your own way. Are they productive or unproductive long term?
  • Understand your natural behavioural style tendencies. Consider using something like a DiSC profile to identify your style tendencies and the healthy or unhealthy behaviours that align with each style (see below)
  • Explore your own emotional intelligence. Increase your awareness of how you are feeling; understand why you are feeling that way and reflect on how this affects your behaviour, decisions and performance. Learn to read others better (social competence).
  • Grow and develop your communication skill suite by becoming more assertive (versus submissive or aggressive) and working on productive influencing skills.

Other ways we might be able to add value to your workplace when it comes to mean spirited conflict:

Not sure on the best solution for your team? Contact us to discuss options
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Building Resilience in the Workplace https://www.peopledevelop.com.au/building-resilience-in-the-workplace/ https://www.peopledevelop.com.au/building-resilience-in-the-workplace/#comments Tue, 22 Dec 2015 00:40:13 +0000 http://obnoxious-crate.flywheelsites.com/?p=1088 I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to coach many leaders throughout the year and have seen a very common trend in many of our business and government leaders – burnout, stress and fatigue. For me it usually comes across in the early part of exploring their 360 feedback or arises in a group workshop. In our 363 for Leaders Program the symptoms come through from raters and common comments include: “I want my leader to maintain their composure” “She often takes her frustrations out on others” “It’s pretty obvious when he’s stressed”

We all want the kind of mindset that allows us to be calm while driving to work in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Or the calm that allows us to act responsively rather than reactively when a colleague or family member wants to argue. Or the calm that helps us to stop ruminating about the past or worrying about the future so we can sleep well at night.

While stress is an important part of productive workplaces, our days are often spent racing the clock, we rarely pull away from our digital devices, and end up feeling overwhelmed and overstimulated. We’re so focused on ‘the next thing’ that we regularly miss what’s happening in front of us. Our bodies are awash with cortisol, the stress hormone that can cause us multiple problems, from muscle tension to exhaustion.

The following strategies look at a holistic view of managing stress in the workplace and take a proactive view on building reliance

Thinking strategies – Having control over your thoughts is a key part to emotional intelligence. One of the most effective ways of managing emotions is to think about emotions from different perspectives. For example, exploring the benefits and consequences of them, causes of them and different ways to respond to them. Thinking strategies include:

  • Mindfulness (See below and our mindfulness info sheet)
  • Guided imagery
  • Cognitive reframing
  • Meditation
  • Reflect on why I am feeling the emotion

Physiological strategies – Our physiology can have an impact on the way we feel and manage stress. Changing our physiology though exercise, diet, sleep and other like activities can help us manage emotions more effectively and build our resilience. Strategies include:

  • Breathing activities
  • Yoga
  • Review diet and nutrition
  • Exercise
  • Flexibility
  • Having breaks during the day and taking a walk

Relationship strategies – Connecting and sharing with others provides us with the opportunity to express and explore our feelings and get someone else’s input or support for them. Expressing how we feel can help us manage our emotions and feel differently about them. Strategies include:

  • Talking to others
  • Venting emotions
  • Building a support network
  • Engaging a mentor
  • Dealing with conflict or poor relationships
  • Dealing with ‘unfinished business’
  • Asking for what you want and being assertive
  • Understanding styles of others

Environment strategies – Factors external to us can impact how we feel at work, like deadlines, too much work, or simply the environment we are working in. Changing our conditions and /or our working environment can help improve the way we feel and our resilience. Strategies include:

  • Modify work hours
  • Clean up work space and decluttering
  • Prioritise projects
  • Control emails
  • Burn scents
  • Get into nature (plants in your office etc)

Becoming more mindful

The foundation of a calm attitude is mindfulness, a practice that offers us the ability to wake up and become present in our everyday lives. Taught in our mainstream University management programs, mindfulness is now an important part of leadership philosophy. It helps us to develop the skills to pull ourselves out of autopilot, and teaches us how to respond, rather than habitually react to people and external events. It gets us to notice what’s actually going on within our minds and bodies – a key part of emotional intelligence.

Mindfulness training isn’t about zoning out, or withdrawing from the world. It’s about deepening awareness in your everyday life so that calm, clear thinking replaces habitual reactive patterns.

Much like exercising or learning a foreign language, mindfulness takes practice. Much like exercising we will sometime sabotage ourselves and say that we don’t have time. Like with any skill setting time aside each day will be important for success. It involves setting aside time for practice – time when you can literally practise being mindful by brining your mind back, again and again to a particular object of attention. In mindfulness practice you may use one or more of these as your focus:

  • Your breath – the physical sensations of breathing
  • Your body – in stillness or in movement
  • Your senses – such as hearing, seeing and tasting
  • Your thoughts – which may include your emotions
  • Your experience – whatever arises in your awareness in this moment, including any of the above.

Mindfulness can be practiced formally and informally:

  • Formally – such as sitting meditating using the breath as a focus
  • Informally – such as making a cup of tea with full awareness.

Schedule some time each day to undertake an activity. Take your time. See if you can resist the urge to rush through to get somewhere quickly!

Contact us for a Mindfulness Activity Sheet with 10 Mindfulness Activities to get you started

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Monsters in the Workplace – Narcissistic Leaders https://www.peopledevelop.com.au/monsters-in-the-workplace-narcissistic-leaders/ https://www.peopledevelop.com.au/monsters-in-the-workplace-narcissistic-leaders/#comments Thu, 29 Oct 2015 09:30:30 +0000 http://obnoxious-crate.flywheelsites.com/?p=1067 Trick or Treat? Halloween is only once a year, but as we’re all too aware, monsters can lurk in our midst at any time. Many workplaces have monsters of their own, and one of those is the narcissist. You know, that colleague who somehow manages to revert every topic of conversation back to himself; the manager who is always bragging about having the latest, greatest achievement; the executive who declares constantly that she is smarter and just generally better than you at everything.

That endless self-centredness is classic narcissism, but sometimes the signs of narcissism are a little more nuanced. So how do you spot this kind of monster, and what can you do to deal with them – and not get hurt?

As a leadership coach and manager I’m mindful that much of my work involves coaching social, communication, empathy and leadership skills. But I am also aware that if there’s a narcissist in the room, I’m offering them new skills with which to ‘monster’ other people for their own benefit. Narcissists pose a complex problem.

According to Dr Joseph Burgo, author of The Narcissist You Know, “Narcissism exists in many shades and degrees of severity along a continuum”. We can all display narcissistic behaviour at times, but a true narcissistic personality has at its heart two key features: a lack of empathy for other people and an inflated sense of self-importance.

Other researchers have found that there are two quite different underlying patterns of narcissism, and it’s important to know the difference if you’re to handle them appropriately.

A vulnerable narcissist has a weak inner core – their self-centered claims of greatness mask low self esteem, even when they may in fact be high achievers. Believing they are worthless and incompetent, they bolster their ego by undercutting and obstructing others’ achievements – often sneakily.

A grandiose narcissist on the other hand isn’t masking anything. They truly believe in their own greatness, and may even be almost as good as they think they are. They can also be Machiavellian (manipulative) in their efforts to stay on top, and may go to extraordinary lengths to ‘score points’ off others.

Recent research on grandiose narcissists has revealed a new and intriguing piece of evidence that we can add to the jigsaw puzzle of narcissist behaviour. A team of Hungarian researchers scanned the brains of narcissists who scored highly on the Machiavellian scale during a simple game of trust. They reported in the Journal of Brain and Cognition that their brains went into overdrive when they encountered a partner who exhibited signs of being fair and cooperative. Why? Tamas Bereczkei and his team say it’s because, if you play fair, Machiavellians brains go into a spin to work out the best way to take advantage of you. But playing hardball doesn’t get you anywhere — when you’re mean to them, their brains barely fire a synapse in response — antagonism is what they expect from others, and they’re well armed for it.

So how do we navigate through the monsters among us? Dr Susan Krauss Whitbourne says that, handled properly, the grandiose narcissist can be your best ally if you need to put other people to best use – as long as you can get them on board with your goals. If they’re given the right level of reassurance, the vulnerable narcissist can settle down and focus and can even change with enough support.

Writing in Psychology Today, Whitbourne has proposed eight points for dealing with narcissists:

  1. Determine which type you’re dealing with. In contrast to grandiose narcissists, vulnerable narcissists are less “out there” with their emotions, and they tend to be sneaky – ‘white anting’, as the Australian phrase goes. Grandiose narcissists are far more obvious – they make no secret of their ego.
  1. Acknowledge your annoyance. Narcissists can be antagonistic and get under your skin. If you’re trying to get something done, and one person is always interrupting or trying to shine the spotlight on himself or herself, recognising where your frustration is coming from can help give you the strength you need to put a stop to it.
  1. Appreciate where the behaviour comes from. Vulnerable narcissists need to make themselves feel better about themselves by tripping others up. Once you recognise that they are coming from a place of insecurity, you can provide them with just enough reassurance to get them to calm down and get on with the task in hand. Too much reassurance and you’ll fan their egocentric flames, but the right amount will stop their need to undercut and obstruct.
  1. Evaluate the context. Narcissism is not an all-or-nothing personality trait. Some situations may elicit a person’s insecurities more than others. Let’s say a woman was turned down for a promotion she wanted very much, and now must continue to work with the person who got the job. Her insecurity may worsen with time, leading her to become defensively narcissistic, vindictive, and spiteful. If you know a person like this, it’s important to remember that the situation helped create the monster with whom you must now interact.
  1. Maintain a positive outlook. If you are dealing with narcissists who derive pleasure from watching others suffer, then seeing the pain they cause will only egg them on to more aggressive counter-behavior. Don’t look ruffled, even if you’re feeling annoyed, and eventually that behavior will diminish in frequency. Furthermore, by keeping the previous tips in mind, you may be able to help ease the situation so things actually improve.
  1. Don’t let yourself get derailed. It’s easy to lose your own sense of purpose or goals when a narcissist tries to take center stage. You don’t need to attend to everything this person says or does, no matter how much he or she clamors for your attention. Find the balance between acknowledging the narcissist and moving ahead in the direction you want to pursue.
  1. Keep your sense of humor. Calling a narcissist’s bluff can mean that you meet their bluster with a laugh at least once in a while. Without being cruel about it, you can point to the inappropriateness of their egocentric behaviour with a smile or joke. This would be particularly appropriate for the grandiose type of narcissist, whose ego is strong enough to find it entertaining and possibly instructive.
  1. Recognise that the person may need help. Because some narcissists truly have low self-esteem and profound feelings of inadequacy, it’s important to recognise when they can benefit from professional intervention. Despite the belief that personality is immutable, psychotherapy research shows that people can change even long-standing behaviors. Bolstering the individual’s self-esteem may not be something you can tackle on your own, but it is something they can work on with outside help.

It is of course possible to have some traits of narcissism without having full-blown, clinically diagnosed narcissistic personality disorder, which is when narcissism starts to have a serious, negative impact on our workplace, everyday life and relationships. Hopefully the tips above will give you some pointers on how to deal with colleagues anywhere on the narcissist spectrum, and to keep the monsters at bay this Halloween.

Do you work with a monster in your workplace? What are your strategies for keeping it functional?

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The Power of Introverts https://www.peopledevelop.com.au/937-2/ https://www.peopledevelop.com.au/937-2/#comments Fri, 28 Aug 2015 05:59:17 +0000 http://obnoxious-crate.flywheelsites.com/?p=937 The Power of Introverts

Our workplaces, the way we meet, the way we teach and the way we interact in a team, is designed for extroverts. Open plan, group brainstorming, team projects and high profile “celebrity” leaders are all part of the rise of the “extrovert ideal” which is growing in contemporary society. This tendency is permeating our culture to the detriment of introverts and impedes their significant contribution to our teams, workplaces and our lives.

 

Introverts are the ones who prefer listening; they innovate and create, dislike self-promotion and they favour working on their own rather than working in teams.

 

So how do we capitalise on the strengths of introverts and create a balance in our workplace?

 

I spend a lot of time developing people’s skills to help them better understand each other’s behavioural style when interacting. I work with loud ambitious groups, the quieter softer-spoken groups, and the groups with a strong mix of both the outspoken and the under-spoken behaviour styles.

 

The “extrovert ideal” is one I find strongly encouraged in most workplaces. We’re subliminally and explicitly encouraged to be “open” and to generate charisma, to exude confidence, and to never admit “loner” tendencies or shyness. Susan Cain’s excellent bestseller Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking takes on, and then effectively dismantles, this mythos.

 

Cain makes a convincing case that we undervalue introverts to such a degree that we lose an enormous amount of valuable insight that only they can provide.

 

Consider the last meeting you attended. While you might think everyone’s voice was heard, very often it is only the loudest extroverted attendees who contribute when gathered around a conference table. Few meeting organisers have learned to reach out to introverts by encouraging written ideas and contributions. As a result, we all pay the price by missing out on valuable input that is often more considered in nature.

 

I agree with Cain’s argument that we undervalue introverts but I would also argue that it is worthwhile in assisting introverts to become more outgoing. I encourage them to step up and be commanding and pioneering from time to time, particularly if aspects of their job require some of these behaviours. I would also strongly argue that some introverted tendencies are necessary in our top executives, and I spend just as much time teaching “celebrity” leaders to be more humble, less outspoken and more considered in their decision making.

 

In Jim Collins’ book Great by Choice (see our article Do you work for a not so great leader) Collins argues that a Level 4 leader has many of the extrovert tendencies typical of D and I DiSC styles; larger-than-life personas, a drive for high recognition and ego driven . In contrast, a Level 5 leader is more humble and modest, more plow horse than show horse, and drives detail-driven results, much like the C and S DiSC styles.

 

If you are interested in personality theories, you’ll like this book. If you suspect you are an introvert and want to hear about your strengths as well as ways to overcome some of the obstacles society has placed in your way, this is definitely one to pick up. If you are an extrovert who suspects many of those you work with are introverts, then this book might do wonders for your interactions.

 

Remember — while it’s tempting to think of introversion and extroversion as two nice big groups that we can sort everyone into neatly, that is unfortunately not the case. Here’s the key—introversion is not a synonym for “shy” and extroversion is not a synonym for “outgoing.” Dr Phil says that “human behaviour is not rocket science – it’s hard” Human behaviour is complex but this book helps explain some of the complexity we see each day

 

To further explore the personality styles of your team consider one of our DiSC profile workshops

 

What is your view? Tell me on our LinkedIn discussion page.

 

Some tips for working with introverts or to harness your own power as an introvert are;.

 

  • Understand that introverts thrive in environments that are not overstimulating; surroundings in which they can think before they speak.
  • If you want to get the best in a brainstorm session with your team, don’t simply throw them into a meeting and assume you’re hearing everyone’s ideas. Allow people to work alone first with workshop agendas or questions before coming to work in a group
  • Introverts are careful, reflective thinkers who can tolerate the solitude that idea-generation requires. Many creative people are introverts who are most creative in the quiet.
  • Give your introverted staff the space they need. Be mindful that they may need to recharge while alone
  • Realise that our culture rightly admires risk-takers, but we need our “heed-takers” more than ever to ensure a balanced outcome
  • Recognise introversion as a strong and important personality trait for a healthy workplace.
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Why Conflict Is Essential To Forward Motion https://www.peopledevelop.com.au/why-conflict-is-essential-to-forward-motion/ https://www.peopledevelop.com.au/why-conflict-is-essential-to-forward-motion/#respond Mon, 13 Apr 2015 00:18:55 +0000 http://peopledevelop.happilyorganisedhosting.com/?p=103 When I tell people in my workshops that conflict is essential if teams are to perform well and be highly productive, it always provokes frowns and an uncomfortable shifting of chairs. “Do you mean that?” They ask. “Could we just say ‘strong conversations’ or ‘spirited debate’?”

Teams without conflict make poor decisions, don’t get buy-in from all members, choose safety over innovation and have boring meetings. They tend to be so risk-averse that the most dangerous phrase in business becomes their mantra: “We’ve always done it this way, let’s not rock the boat.” Without forward motion, grinding gradually to a halt is inevitable.

So how can we get over our negative perception of conflict and use it to lift commitment, get greater workplace satisfaction and help our teams make better decisions?

Creating an environment for healthy conflict

Firstly, we need to understand how to create an environment in which healthy conflict can happen, and its benefits can be realised. Part of this is to also understand how to recognise unhealthy conflict—negative, mean-spirited remarks masquerading as feedback, backbiting and personal attacks—and nip it in the bud. Ad hominem arguments may be acceptable in the courtroom, but they have no place in the office.

What this means for leaders is to show by example how to hear a concern or criticism without taking it personally and being defensive, and how to respond by guiding debate so that the matter under discussion and the finding of the best outcome remain the focus.

Sometimes, this can mean pointing out the elephant in the room: people often don’t feel safe voicing their concerns if an initiative is sponsored by someone in a position of power, and allowing people to voice the concerns that underpin such reticence can turn a culture of silence into a culture of debate. You might try playing devil’s advocate by disagreeing with your own position, or say “That’s just my thinking, what are your thoughts?” to frame the debate as a thinking process.

Think of someone you really trust. You can say to them “I don’t agree with that at all. The idea stinks. Shall we go get a beer and see if we can come up with a better one?” Now think about a work meeting. Could you say the same there (maybe without the beer), or would you politely nod and then air your disagreement later, to someone else? If you think that’s being diplomatic, Patrick Lencioni, author of The Five Dysfunctions of Teams, has a harsh reality-check: “We’ve crushed her spirit by talking about her afterwards, but, at least we didn’t disagree with her in the meeting”.

Avoidance of conflict isn’t keeping the peace or diplomacy. Lencioni says “those that avoid conflict actually doom themselves to revisiting issues again and again without resolution.”

 

The interpersonal skill set

Which brings me to the second point. Team members need to have the right interpersonal skill set with a combination of emotional intelligence, self-awareness and the ability to trust. Even healthy conflict can feel uncomfortable (for some more than others, and about certain issues more than others) and making sure that the conflict remains constructive, not destructive, even in the face of discomfort is a learned skill.

Interpersonal skills include knowing your own motives for voicing a conflicting opinion. If your motivation is to put someone down or lift yourself up at another’s expense then it’s personal. If it’s about your own stubbornness or need to control, it’s personal. In Eric Berne’s Transactional Analysis theory of interpersonal psychology, you’re behaving like a child or a parent rather than as an adult peer.

Conflict without trust is just politics. The bottom line is that everyone needs to trust that they will be heard and respected if they voice their opinion. That doesn’t mean implementing every mad idea—healthy conflict is the opposite of blind acceptance. It means testing ideas the same way they test aeroplanes—trying to crash them means they fly better in the end.

 

How do high-performing teams keep conflict healthy?

  • Focus: they stay focused on tasks, concepts and ideas and don’t tolerate personal attacks.
  • Composure: they talk calmly even when the topic has an emotional charge so that everyone can say their piece without being shut down.
  • Emotional intelligence: they acknowledge and respect the presence of high emotion—it indicates that people care, after all—but don’t let it stifle debate.
  • Trust: every member of the team creates trust by speaking up directly, not at the water-cooler, and by being honest about their own vulnerabilities.
  • Self-awareness: each member is aware of how their emotions impact their behaviour and how their behaviour impacts others.
  • Give and take: they are humble and express opinions as debatable thoughts, not certainties set in stone.
  • Responsibility: they don’t blame, but do take responsibility for what could be done better—and then they do it.
  • Maturity: they use empathy, inclusive body language, listening, reflecting and paraphrasing—they speak as adults, not children or parents.
  • Commitment: they don’t look for consensus but do expect commitment both to the process of healthy conflict and the outcome. All members commit to acting on the team’s decisions—even when they don’t get their own way.
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