How to Connect With Your Team When You Don’t Have Time

Connecting With People

“Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.”  ~Carl Sandburg

Having The Time To Connect

A client and I spent about 50 minutes during a recent session talking about all the things he was concerned about—meetings, motivating, and accomplishing the goals and objectives for his team. He had developed a good plan and way ahead, but something was still troubling him.

Toward the end of our call, he said, “You know, I just do not have time to connect with my people.”

“Brad,” I said, “We have talked for about an hour about how you can be a better leader.  Most everything we’ve talked about can be delegated, especially the technical work.  The one thing that can’t, however, and the thing that is the most important thing in helping you become a great leader, is connecting with your people personally, on a regular basis. You just can’t delegate that.”

He said he had never considered that.

Connecting with People 

In his book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You, John Maxwell talks about the Law of Connection, and that successful leaders are always the initiator of connections.

In it he says, “They take the first step with others and then make the effort to continue building relationships.”

So how does a busy leader, who feels that they don’t even have time to take a lunch break, find the time to make that personal connection with their team? (I feel that this is the MOST important thing they do!)

Coach and author of the book There’s Not Enough Time….and other lies we tell ourselves, Jill Farmer, says it starts with getting intentional:

“There’s not going to be a magic windfall of more time falling from the sky. It’s a matter of refocusing attention and intention.”

Getting Personal

3 Things To Try to Make It Happen

1) Hone those delegation skills.

If you are a perfectionist (or a recovering one, like me), you know that no one can accomplish tasks quite like you can. After all, by the time you show someone else how to do something the way you want it done, you could have it already finished. This is a common complaint I hear all the time.

But consider this: If you don’t delegate, they don’t learn.

You only grow your team or organization when they learn to do things without you doing it for them.  Time spent up front, teaching and coaching them to accomplish tasks that they can not only learn to do, but will help their growth, is well worth the investment.

2)  Try bagging it.

Try hosting a brown bag lunch in your office, if you have the space, or in a conference room if you don’t. Invite one team at a time, or mix it up to help people connect with people from different teams. Tell them to bring their lunch—it’s informal.

This isn’t about work, so you don’t have to prepare anything, but you might invite them to ask you questions if they desire.

If you are an introvert, and don’t do well with chit-chat, ask them a couple of questions such as: “What would you do if you couldn’t have this career?” or “If money were no object, what’s the one thing you have always wanted to try?” You will be surprised at how little you have to say and how much you learn about people.

 3)  Block out the time

When you have an important meeting, you schedule it on your calendar.  Since these are important meetings, schedule them just as you would any other meeting.  Block out a few minutes every day, or even twice a week, to visit a different work team.  Even if you just to stop and say “Hello, how’s it going?”–that’s a connection.

By scheduling it in small time increments, you don’t have to worry about the day getting away from you and realizing a week has gone by without connecting with anyone on a personal level.  You might want to add a few minutes in to take a walk, or have some quiet time to yourself (really?).

Schedule at least one 30-minute meeting with your direct reports once a month, depending on how many you have.  One executive I know schedules all her team members for an hour with her once a quarter, because that is the time she can afford.

Time Is On Your Side

Nothing can replace the precious time you spend with your team–it affects morale, productivity and your business culture.  It can raise a team from one that is mediocre to one that excels in pushing your organization to the next level.

Earl Nightingale said:  “Don’t let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use.”

What ideas and recommendations have you used to help you make some time to connect with your people? How have these benefited you, your team, and your results? i would love to hear your thoughts!

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Susan (Chandler) Foster

Susan C. Foster is an Master Certified Coach & Owner of Susan Foster Coaching
She coaches & facilitates in Leadership, Motivation & Building Great Teams
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6 Daily Practices of Effective Managers

6 Steps for Leaders

It can be easy for employees to take managers for granted because most employees are trying to avoid the attention of their managers.

But a company cannot be successful without a dynamic and experienced team of managers.

Measuring Results

Each day, the management team of your company sets out to do everything it can to put employees in a position to succeed. In order to appreciate the pressure managers are under, we first need to understand and accurately measure the daily practices of the most effective managers.

6 Daily Practices of Effective Managers

1) Maintain Departmental Culture

In order for a sales department to be successful, the manager has to create a culture that fosters success. Sales enablement is the process of giving sales professionals the tools they need to succeed. A strong culture is maintained by a manager who gets involved in what the employees are doing and helps employees to solve daily problems.

A good manager is out there sustaining a culture of success and not locked in their office wondering what is going on.

2) Constantly Evaluating The Talent Of Team Members

If an employee has displayed a talent for doing something that is useful for the company, then a good manager would have taken note of that talent. Each and every day, good managers talk to their employees and monitor the work that is being done to determine the talent level of each employee.

When the company faces a crisis, a good manager knows which employees to call on to help solve the problem and move the company forward.

3) Constantly Looking For New Talent

A good manager has told the human resources department to line up interviews with any employee that could benefit the company. That is not to say that a good manager is always hiring new staff members.

But a good manager does want to know what talent is available should the need ever arise.

The company could decide to start a new department or a key employee could decide to leave the company. If that were to ever happen, an effective manager already has a pool of potential employment candidates to call on.

4) Meets With Employees

Each and every day, an effective manager sets up meetings with his employees to gauge the employee’s progress in their development and to identify any challenges that may have come up.

A good manager does not wait until the annual review to sit down and meet with employees.

While there should always be that open level of communication between employees and their manager, it is always a good idea for managers to schedule one-on-one meetings with all employees throughout the course of the day.

5) Head Off Conflict Before It Becomes Disruptive

There are few things that derail a successful company faster than internal conflict. A little friendly competition for jobs and promotions is a healthy thing for any company. But when a real conflict erupts, that can disrupt the entire company.

A good manager is constantly keeping an eye out for potential conflict and working to eliminate the issue before it explodes into a problem. An effective manager does not avoid conflict in the hopes that it will just go away.

An effective manager addresses conflict head-on and eliminates it immediately.

6) Remain Honest With Employees

Employees know when they are being lied to, and they do not like it. While the truth can sometimes hurt, it is still in the manager’s best interest to be honest with employees at all times.

Employees will have to understand that there are times when the manager cannot be forthright with delicate or sensitive information.

But when the information needs to be distributed, employees want to know that their managers are being honest with them each and every time.

Effective managers are interactive leaders who understand and remember what it is like to be an employee. But managers also have to keep one eye on the future growth of the company, and that is what makes a manager’s job difficult.

So how are you doing with the above six daily practices? Are there areas of improvement that you can start today or tomorrow? What sort of challenges do you face in becoming a better manager or leader? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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———————
Robert Cordray

Robert Cordray is a freelance writer with over 20 years of business experience
He does the occasional business consult to help increase employee morale
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Adaptive Intelligence: Your Organization’s Cultural Operating System

 

Chamelion

This planet came with a set of instructions, but we seem to have misplaced them. Civilization needs a new operating system.” ~Paul Hawken

Pressure Test

Here is a quick test to help you understand both emotional and analytical thinking.

What do you normally do when your computer has a glitch and that box pops up inviting you to “report the problem?

  • Do you hit the “yes” button and dutifully wait for the computer to do its analysis and send the message?
  • Or do you hit “no” knowing this issue will rear its ugly head again soon?

There’s complex emotional and analytic thinking behind this decision that is analogous to dealing with annoyances in our working lives.

For example, if you hit “no” you’re deciding that although annoying its a small distraction compared with the important task at hand. However, if you’ll need to follow the same procedure and get the same bug you’re more likely to hit “yes”. You might also consider this to be the software provider’s responsibility; “why should I do their job for them.

(Mind you if everyone hit “no” the consequence of this global “e-silence” is the bug never gets fixed…)

We have the same basic choices with our problems at work. Do we do something about them or put up with it stoically? If enough people fail to report the problem it festers creating an invisible block to personal and organisational effectiveness, competitiveness and eventually achievement.

Sharing Important Information

The power and impact of sharing information was described eloquently by Gen. Stanley McChrystal in his TED Talk. – The military case for sharing knowledge.

Sharing is power” ~Gen. Stanley McChrystal

All organisations have limited human, financial and physical resources and must prioritise. For a problem to get over their attention threshold and trigger a response, a certain number of “complaints” must be received.

Managers decide how urgent/big the problem is and determine a response. In other words every user has 100% responsibility over error reporting and the organisation has 100% responsibility for its response.

This is a classical trust-based dynamic relationship.

When it’s working really well, a cultural operating system grows stronger iteratively from the power its crowd feeding back.

A Cultural Operating System

Microsoft’s Windows OS and Apple’s Mac OS are akin to a command and control-based management system where the end-user/staff has modest input.

Whereas, Linux, the epitome of an iterative open source process, is similar to a flat organisational system.

How would an iterative cultural operating system based on the concept of Adaptive Intelligence underpin effectiveness and success?

In “The practice of Adaptive Leadership”, Heifetz, Grashow and Linsky describe Adaptive Leadership as, “an iterative process involving three key activities:

1) Observing events and patterns around you

2) Interpreting what you observe

3) Designing interventions based on 1 & 2.”

I have added some steps to include:

4) Observation of the effects of interventions

5) Flexing interventions to give optimal positive results (Fig. 1).

Fig.1. A dynamic adaptive positive feedback cycle

AI Fig 1

 

Adaptive Intelligence

Adaptive Intelligence (AQ) is the dynamic expression of our Analytical Intelligence (AQ), Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and Positive Intelligence (PQ = internal motivation).

The exact flavour of AQ we deploy needs to be flexed to fit any given changing situation we experience. Operating from imbalanced IQ, EQ or PQ creates inappropriate responses based on habit.

If you want to use more of your AQ become more authentically aware of yourself and others.

Organisations need to develop deeper and broader corporate self-awareness. As a first step you might invite everyone to hit the social equivalent of the “yes” button whenever they observe problems or they have potentially good idea. This virtuous process relies on everyone believing they have influence, will be heard and their input valued and acted on.

This resonates with our software analogy nicely (Figure 2.).

Fig. 2 Comparison of computing and organisational operating systems.

AI Fig 2

Enhanced AQ

Enhanced AQ is delivered by:

  • Raising individual and organisational awareness
  • Transparent communication
  • Authentic trust
  • Objective measurable action.

It is powered by curiosity and authentic feedback and founded on 100% personal responsibility.

Stifled AQ

Poorly functioning AQ-based cultural operating systems are recognised from symptoms including:

  • Poor recruitment
  • High staff turnover
  • Conflict
  • Absenteeism
  • Poor staff engagement
  • Missed opportunities/deadlines
  • Inability to create trends and compete effectively

Long lasting symptomatic improvement comes from paying persistent attention to your cultural operating system (AQ). You keep a healthy AQ system going by constant vigilance, bug fixes (e.g. removing stupid rules), cultural upgrades (e.g. wellbeing-based cultures) and inviting everyone to be more curious about their daily working lives (See – How To Use Your Daily Story As A Powerful Seminar For Achievement).

The essence of intelligence is skill in extracting meaning from everyday experience.” ~Unknown

Flexible Open System

An adaptive iterative cultural process equips leaders with high quality dynamic information as well as the authentic human perceptions which create exciting visions and sustain meaningful change.

Thoughts for today

  • How often do you look under the hood of your organisation’s cultural operating system?
  • Notice to what extent your organisation’s culture relies on its corporate hardware (hierarchy, IT, systems & policies) compared with software (culture & people).
  • How much attention and time do you devote to awareness raising efforts for you and your staff?
  • Do you have a flexible open system for all staff to report problems and ideas?
  • Do you have an adaptive iterative cycle (AIC)?
  • How might you incorporate staff feedback and ideas into your AIC drive to improvement?

Recommended reading

The practice of Adaptive Leadership”, Heifetz, Grashow and Linsky

 

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——————– 
Gary Coulton

Dr Gary R Coulton is CEO of Adaptive Intelligence Consulting Limited
He empowers leaders to release their Adaptive Intelligence
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Hey Leaders: Lighten Up a Little

Walt Disney

One of my favorite Walt Disney quotes is, “That’s the real trouble with the world, too many people grow up.”

Now think about it a minute. You don’t need to “grow up,” in the common sense of the word, to be “professional” or a “leader,” It’s all about how you embrace yourself – your attitude – and how you present yourself. There’s nothing wrong with having some “kid” left in you. Having that bit of kid makes you more approachable – more likeable – easier to associate with.

The Right Balance

We all know the people who have changed as they’ve been promoted. They become more (too) serious and in the process lose touch with the people they supervise. They lose the kid in themselves – quite often on purpose.

When you lose that part of you it causes you to lose your:

  • flexibility
  • understanding
  • communication
  • ability to retain employee’s
  • ability to empathize.

It may also cause you to destroy your:

  • culture
  • ability to attract talent
  • current relationship’s.

What am I saying here? Act like a child? Not at all. Just keep an open mind. Continue with that ability to relate to your employees – on all levels. You did it as a peer so why lose it as a supervisor. Have some fun. Think about the best work experience you’ve ever had. I bet it had something to do with having fun.

Being An Encourager

A number of years ago I had a manager, a leader, (we’ll call him Bob) that was moving up quickly. Our team worked extremely well together and enjoyed it. We could joke around with Bob – not like a “buddy” – and we could all brainstorm to come up with any off-the-wall idea. In fact, it was encouraged. That’s a big key – no matter how goofy the idea, there may be something to it. You can’t cut ideas down. Bob always smiled, was energetic, and even poked a little fun at himself now and then. Bob’s position was putting him pretty high, but we were always on a first name basis.

But something, we don’t know what, happened in his life that drained the kid out of him. He became that serious “professional”, and it was all downhill from there. There was no more fun, no more lunches together, no more cohesiveness . . . and no more goofy ideas. People started transferring and Bob’s quick climb came to a screeching halt.

“People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.” ~ Dale Carnegie

Organizations Who Have Fun

What’s one of the most common things that the most successful organizations have with each other? They have fun. People are allowed to hold on to that most precious part of their personal history.

Here are just a few examples:

  • Disney
  • Zappos
  • Flickr
  • Southwest Airlines
  • Cisco

If employees can say that they’re having fun at work, it also means that they’re not as uptight and communication will flourish because people are easier to approach.

Fun, But Serious

Now, they call it work for a reason. So I don’t mean wear a red nose, do magic tricks or a stand-up acts all day long. However, a sense of humor can go a very long way. It’s a great way to bond with people. It instantly lightens the mood and lifts morale.

The office is the office. There has to be some seriousness also. Some of us are in some very serious occupations. Just remember that no matter how serious the work is, it’s still being performed by human beings and we all need a little time to lighten the mood. As a leader, you have to be accessible and able to hear and sense when performance is needing a lift. Better yet is to not even wait that long.

Terminal Seriousness?

Do you know the general tone of your office or work environment?

Take this short quiz from Jody Urquhart to get an idea whether your staff is suffering from terminal seriousness.

Yes or No

Do you regularly catch people laughing or smiling at work?

YES or NO

When something funny happens do people stop and appreciate it?

YES or NO

Does your organization have fun activities at least monthly?

YES or NO

Do you have tools (fun giveaways, drawings) to invite employees to participate in having fun in your environment?

YES or NO

Are managers usually optimistic and smiling at work?

YES or NO

If you answer NO to two or more of these questions, your staff probably suffers from “terminal seriousness,” which is negatively affecting morale and productivity.

The Right Environment

If you need to create a turnaround in your culture, just remember, it’s not your job to MAKE work fun but rather it’s your job to create the conditions where fun and happiness can flourish.

Are your employees relaxed, or uptight? Do you see many smiles at work? Are you projecting a positive attitude? What can you do to create the opportunity for fun?

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——————–
Andy Uskavitch

Andy Uskavitch is Leadership Development and Customer Service Specialist
He develops and facilitates Leadership, Motivation & Teambuilding Seminars
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On Leadership, Feedback and the Fuel of Achievement

“True intuitive expertise is learned from prolonged experience with good feedback on mistakes.” ~ Daniel Kahneman

The experience of giving and receiving feedback at best is a wonderful and enlivening experience, and at its worst can de-motivate and drive wedges between managers and their reports.

As Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman said “People join companies but leave managers.

So is it the sole responsibility of managers to look after feedback? This theme invites you as a leader to take a more global view of feedback by fundamentally re-framing why it is needed, how it is done, what might be the overall benefits, consequences which can arise and what is everyone going to do about it?

Leaders cannot work in a vacuum. They may take on larger, seemingly more important roles in an organization, but this does not exclude them from asking for and using feedback. In fact, a leader arguably needs feedback more so than anyone else. It’s what helps a leader respond appropriately to events in pursuit of successful outcomes.” ~ Jack Canfield

Feedback Gone Wrong

A major Achilles heel of typical feedback is that it is only viewed as an interaction between a manager and an individual report or possibly a team. It’s often one-way traffic and an unpleasant experience for those receiving feedback. Reasons for this may arise from poor manager awareness, poor training, pressure, etc. but perhaps the most pernicious is patchiness in the quality and quantity of feedback.

Interpersonal feedback functions best as an integral component of an organisation’s overall multidimensional communications system. The intention is to establish an atmosphere where senior management elicits information, opinion and perceptions from their staff, acts on them and reports back on their actions.

6-Stage Process for Feedback

Jack Stahl’s (Revlon’s CEO) 6-stage process for feedback aligns organisational conversations and manager – report feedback.

 

  Individual & Organisational Feedback
Stage 1 Value the person/people
Stage 2 Identify personal/organisational challenges
Stage 3 Provide targeted meaningful feedback
Stage 4 Identify and agree areas for improvement/development
Stage 5 Identify and agree benefits and consequences of improvement options
Stage 6 Commit your support and reaffirm person/staffs effort and value

 

Feedback is generally most effective when considered as part of staff engagement efforts as described by Gruman and Sacs in their research published in Human Resource management Review.

Setting the Tone

It’s vital for leaders to set the tone by encouraging an overall culture of open information exchange to develop (supported by robust and accessible HR & IT systems) making it possible to:

  1. Provide safe environments to build trust based on knowledge and rapport.
  2. Exchange authentic criticism and affirmative feedback
  3. Establish a cultural norm based on accepted feedback behaviours.
  4. Create feedback based on personal and organisational accountability

Steve Jobs says it all in his interview on managing people and the Apple ideas-based ethos.

He said, ideas always beat hierarchy.”

Re-framing Our Perceptions

If we re-frame our perception of and intention for feedback to mean honest, authentic, empathic, creative, effective  and productive conversation across an entire organisation then great things will follow.

Your Actions Today

  • Does your organisation have a communication system aligned with interpersonal feedback practices?
  • Do your reports get to provide feedback on you do you listen and do you act on it?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 most effective) do you know how effective your feedback to reports actually is?
  • Does your organisation act upon synthesised from all staff feedback?

Recommended Reading

Feedback Revolution: -From Water Cooler Conversations To Annual Reviews — HOW TO GIVE AND RECEIVE EFFECTIVE FEEDBACK – Peter McLaughlin

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————– 
Gary Coulton

Dr Gary R Coulton is CEO of Adaptive Intelligence Consulting Limited
He empowers leaders to release their Adaptive Intelligence
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On Leadership, Communication and Learning From the Arts

For anyone to be a successful leader, they will have to master the art of communication. This is because leaders are judged by their communication skills, whether they know this or not.

And one of the most notable ways that leaders are judged in their communication efforts is by their ability to effectively speak before audiences or crowds.

Speaking Tips for Leaders

Here are some speaking tips from 3 unusual sources that will help in ,making great speeches:

  • A Music Composer
  • A Painter
  • And a Chef

So what does writing and delivering speeches have in common with other art forms like composing music, painting and cooking food?

A lot!

Working With Emotions

Speakers, like other artists, are working with the emotions of their audience. Most good speakers take their audience on an emotional journey, ending with a strong Final Emotion that propels their audience to act on the message of their speech.

In this regard, speakers are remarkably similar to other artists and can glean valuable tips on delivering memorable speeches by studying artists who have achieved greatness in their fields.

On Music, Painting, and Cooking

Here are 3 insightful learning’s for speakers from the fields of music, painting and cooking.

1) Planning the Emotional Journey : Music by Ennio Morricone

Music by Ennio MorriconeEnnio Morricone, a prolific composer of movie scores, constantly uses his music to transform the emotional state of his audience. His ability to take his listeners on an emotional journey, from emotion A to emotion B, via his music is truly remarkable.

For example, in his composition entitled “The Ecstasy of Gold,” Morricone takes his audience up an emotional cliff in a very deliberate manner, leaving them with strong emotions of victory and achievement.

The emotional climb is in phases with bursts of emotional music followed by periods of ‘rest’, as if Morricone knows that the emotional transformation he is trying to achieve is too “steep” for his audience.

The emotional journey makes us part of a movement born out of necessity, which runs into phases of “confusion” where the purpose is lost before a final re-commitment to the mission and the eventual victory.

The final “triumph” leaves you with a sense of victory, so charged with energy and you feel like walking out to the street and beating someone up.

The Ecstasy of Gold and other music compositions by Morricone extol the need for a speaker to plan the emotional journey of their audience. They show the power of ending speeches at emotional peaks that are aligned with the purpose of the speech, providing the audience the emotional energy needed to make the big decisions.

Morricone’s use of emotional high’s and low’s to make the journey interesting as well as providing the audience with periods of ‘emotional rest’ are excellent lessons for any speaker.

2) Understanding Transitions : The Paintings by M.C. Escher

Optical IllusionM.C. Escher, a Dutch artist who lived from 1898 to 1972, is most remembered for making physically impossible concepts, like water flowing uphill, look possible. The transitions in his paintings are so smooth that they do not obstruct flow, of sight and emotions, even when the content defies logic.

This allows the eye to follow the painting, from one end to the other, to unnatural places without questioning the validity about what is presented.

In one famous painting called Metamorphose, Escher starts from an initial pattern, transitions to various figures and shapes and then to an elaborate city near the sea before returning to the initial pattern.

The transitions in this long rectangular painting, that flows from left to right, are so smooth that the eye does not stop to question the flow. As square shape patterns turn to lizard shapes and birds turn into cities, the painting always maintains its flow.

The paintings by Escher are a case study for speakers learning to manage transitions. They highlight that when emotional flow in maintained in speeches, the audience goes wherever the speech takes them emotionally, even if logical inconsistencies exist.

The audience will not seek to understand the logic of the speech but soak the message as they go on the emotional journey that has been planned by the speaker. Speakers should, as Escher does in Metamorphose, manage difficult transitions slowly to remove abruptness while enabling easier transitions more quickly.

3) Using emotional triggers : Food by Chef Grant Achatz

Chef Grant AchatzChef Grant Achatz owns an avant-garde restaurant in Chicago called Alinea. This unique restaurant serves just one menu, a seasonal 18 to 23 course meal, that, on average, takes three hours to go through.

The dining experience at Alinea is as much about food as it is about emotion. In particular, Chef Grant uses emotional triggers to enhance the dining experience of his patrons.

For example, as a child he used to rake the leaves that were falling off the oak trees, jump in them a couple of times and then light that pile on fire. The smell of smoldering oak leaves transports him back to being eight years old and growing up in Michigan. He wanted to trigger this nostalgic emotion in his customers.

Thus he created a dish with pheasant and apple cider that are tempura-fried and then impaled, on a bamboo skewer, with oak twigs that have leaves attached. The twig pierces through the pheasant, through a gelee of apple cider.

Only the very end gets tempura-fried, and then right before it goes out to the dining room, he lights the leaves on fire. He has had patrons cry when they smell the burning oak leaves because it literally transports them back to a place or a time that they have fond memories of.

Using Emotional Triggers

This use of emotional triggers to connect with and emotionally charge an audience is a master lesson for a speaker. Speakers, even when they do not have strong emotional content, can use their words, phrases, anecdotes and stories that take the audience to a place and time that arouses strong emotions.

These emotional triggers evoke deep emotions in the audience and enables the speaker to form a strong connection with them. This typically leads to the speakers message being remembered long after the speech is over.

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———————–
Vikas Jhingran

Dr. Vikas Jhingran is an Author, Speaker and Engineer at Shell Oil
He talks about the role of Emotions in Verbal Communications
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You, Me, and Our Relationship Makes Three

Business Relationships

A previous post introduced the characteristics of relationship building, which is the foundation to public relations education and practice, and (ideally!) organizational relationships. 

Without a clear focus on people and its human aspects, organizations are doomed to remain stagnant, or even die.

On Relationships

As a refresher, the components of relationship-building are this:

  • Control Mutuality (allowing another party the power to influence you)
  • Trust
  • Satisfaction
  • Commitment

These components contribute to an exchange relationship, one in which one party in the relationship does something for the other party as reciprocation for a past or future service; or a communal relationship, in which both parties provide benefits to each other out of concern rather than payback and seek no additional recompense.

This post will look more closely at the four initial characteristics, and the final post in this series will focus on the outcomes of an exchange or communal relationship.

Not surprisingly, control mutuality, trust, satisfaction, and commitment are all characteristics that we seek in our interpersonal relationships, whether it is between family members, spouses, partners, or friends.

But how often do we consider these components as criteria for our business-related activities?

For example, during an interview process the idea of commitment may be an issue of concern for the interviewer, and possibly the interviewee. But once we are established within an organization, how often do we stop to think about how all of these characteristics influence our relationships on an ongoing basis?

The 4 Key Characteristics of Relationship Building

The relevance and impact of these characteristics on organizational well-being can be better understood in the context of both enduring and distinctive workplace challenges:

Control Mutuality

Interactions with most organizations require some level of control mutuality. In a retail environment, or when attending a sales pitch we allow, or perhaps even encourage sales representatives to “wow” us with the benefits of their product or service. The control then shifts as we decide whether or not we were moved enough to commit or take our business elsewhere.

This back-and-forth exchange of control can be seen in any number of scenarios across industries – hiring new employees, starting a new product line or creating a stronger team, as examples  – and the way in which each party contributes, as well as the value they place on the outcome strongly influences their role in the relationship.

Trust

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has been under close scrutiny for the past several months as a result of accusations of delayed medical treatment to veterans, allegedly resulting in several deaths. Unquestionably a tragedy, and regardless of the outcome resulting from hearings and policy changes, damage to the VA has and will continue to be significant.

Already then-Secretary Eric Shinseki, himself a veteran and former Army general, was pressured to resign, negatively affecting both his and the VA’s reputation. From the perspective of multiple stakeholders as well as the general public, the VA did not do what it said it would do for its members– the cornerstones of creating trust!

Regaining the trust of these key constituents will be slow and costly, not just financially, but in terms of re-establishing and maintaining the much needed support for a mission that has been called into question.

Satisfaction

Over the past 25-years, employees’ job satisfaction has fallen precipitously from 61% to 15%. Considering that even at its highest level more than one-third of the workforce was dissatisfied with their jobs, this statistic is even more staggering. Evidence of this dissatisfaction is seen not only in the various rankings of “worst companies”, but also in the fact that while the lists contain some overlap of identified companies, they also include many unique listings suggesting that there is a good deal of competition for this dubious title.

Unfortunately, due to external factors beyond employees’ control, such as the economy, unforeseen costs at home (including medical expenses, child care, routine expenses) or an inability to compete in the job market due to a lack of skills and the ability to develop them, employees often end up staying at a job that they would prefer to leave.

This could have a domino effect impacting the employee, colleagues and supervisors, the organization, customers, and family.

Commitment

Sticking with a relationship, personal or business, requires effort, and remaining committed to a relationship means that both parties feel the effort is worthwhile.

Turnover is one way to evaluate employees’ commitment to their jobs.

Although turnover in the United States has maintained at a steady rate of 3.1-3.2 percent, down from rates more consistent in the 3.7– 3.8 range before the current economic crisis, it would be naive to assume this decrease is due purely to job appreciation, particularly given such low overall levels of job satisfaction.

It is realistic to assume that some, perhaps even many, employees are reluctant to leave a steady job in questionable economic times. It is important for leaders to have a realistic perspective on employee’s long-term tenure and its contributing factors and not assume that longevity equals satisfaction and commitment to the organization.

Maintaining Excellence

Successful relationships require effort and maintenance. The relationship becomes its own entity and, like the individual parties involved, needs to be considered in terms of decision-making and outcomes.

So, instead of asking “How does this affect me?” or “How will this affect my client?” you must also ask “How with this affect our relationship?”

This awareness of the relationship as a “third-person”, so to speak, forces all parties involved to give it greater consideration, which adds to the depth and value of the connection.

With whom are your most important relationships? Have you been disappointed that certain relationships have not worked out? What level of effort do you put into developing and maintaining both types of relationships? How strongly to you consider the potential relationship when soliciting or accepting new clients? Has that made a difference?

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———————–
Andrea M. Pampaloni, Ph.D.

Andrea M. Pampaloni, Ph.D is AMP Consulting
She provides Organizational Communication Consulting & Research Focused on
Relationship-Building and Presentation of Image
Email | LinkedIn |  Web

 

Image Sources: sapore.com.br

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