On Leadership, Communication and Your Email Address

Communication

If you make a list of your pet peeves about work, I bet high on the list are, being kept in the dark, being patronised, and being misinformed.

Contrary to this type of workplace environment, healthy and successful organisations communicate as transparently as they can and keep secrets only as long as is absolutely necessary.

Great delivery also depends upon great communication, which should start at the top.” ~ Sir Richard Branson

Misunderstanding Communication

Talk to many leaders about communication and they think about, “how can I get my message out to the staff?” This is a symptom of how they perceive their relationship with their followers. They are in charge, they’re paid the big bucks to create the vision and strategy and they make all the important decisions.

Consequently they see communication as top-down delivery of their important information which should be understood and acted on in proscribed ways. This “information” is generally perceived by the recipient as poorly cloaked instruction and coercion intended to drive the company’s agenda.

In doing this leaders miss the purpose and full power of authentically open integrated communication entirely.

A Two-Way Street

Communication is at its simplest a two-way interaction but more often than not (and often unintentionally) is multi-directional.

On the one hand, your response to a message from your boss might be restricted to your own thoughts. On the other, you discuss the matter with a colleague who in turn talks to another and so on, with the inevitable distortion created by the rumour mill.

As is the case with the physical conservation of energy, human communications can never be destroyed, they are simply converted into other forms of communication often with unforeseen, unwanted and uncontrollable consequences.

Transparent Communication

Victor S. Sohmen (Drexel University) clearly explains the fundamental role of transparent communication in his paper “Leadership and Teamwork: Two Sides of the Same Coin” in the Journal of IT and Economic Development.

Ask yourself this:

  • If all communications are multidimensional, are never truly secret and you can never learn less from them, why not take full advantage of its power for good?
  • Why not give out your e-mail address to everyone and invite them to use it?

Create equally powerful multiple well-integrated lines of communication bottom to top as well as top to bottom in your organisation. The rest is about building flexible yet robust systems to manage information flow and integration.

Open Authentic Communication

In an excellent article “Relationship between Organizational Culture, Leadership Behavior and Job Satisfaction”, Yafang Tsai clearly describes the fundamental foundation of open authentic communication to building high performing organisational cultures.

Imagine a scenario where the brother of someone who cleans the toilets knows someone who is the father of a genius kid who has recently invented a new widget which could revolutionise your business. If you always excluded that cleaner from contributing their ideas they’ll cease to bother and you will lose out. If that sort of communication disconnect is a cultural norm in your organisation, then you are in trouble.

“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.” ~ Peter Drucker

Best-Centered Communication

I am convinced most leaders are well-meaning and attempt to improve communication, but their efforts are generally self-centered and inevitably come across as patronising and back fire disappointingly. A good rule of thumb is to “ask” twice as many times as you “tell”.

As Vincent van Gogh said, “It is the little emotions that are the great captains of our lives.”

If we know that day-to-day we’re really heard, truthfully informed and treated as adults we feel valued, are more internally motivated and are much more likely to identify with our place of work and go that extra mile for the team.

Too many organisations feel that incentives will drive staff to behave like the 300 Spartans who laid down their lives at the battle of Thermopylae in an attempt to drive back invading Persians; THEY WON’T! But if they feel they can influence the future of their organisations THEY JUST MIGHT!

Closing Thoughts

Ask yourself these questions today:

  • Do you feel communicating with staff is a chore or a key element of business?
  • Did you communicate to your staff today? If your answer is “no”, why didn’t you?
  • What information did you send out today, to what extent might it be viewed by the recipient as patronising, opaque or misleading?
  • What open questions did you ask your staff?
  • Who has your e-mail and phone number; why them?

Make a brief cost/benefit analysis if you opened up your lines of communication.

A really good place to find your voice is “Leading Out Loud: A Guide for Engaging Others in Creating the Future by Terry Pearce.

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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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I’m a Leader Now But No One Likes Me

Confused

What too many people fail to grasp is that one doesn’t become a leader overnight.  You may have the title, but that’s not all it takes to be successful.  To become a good leader takes some planning and experience.

Have you ever felt like this:

“I was “one of them” on Friday, but since I’m their supervisor now, no one likes me.  Why?”

You probably made the jump too suddenly.

Learning Leadership

When people tell me they want to be a leader in their organization or I hear that someone is being looked at to fill an upcoming position, the first thing I tell them is to start the transition NOW.  Plan and learn.

Don’t wait to make a sudden change over a weekend, because you’ll set yourself up for disaster.

Two Lessons on Leadership

Here are a couple of stories to illustrate what I’m talking about.

Story One

Mike has been one of the guys since he started at ABC Company.  He knows his job well, and that of the department, but really only does what’s required.  He watches the clock, is always yucking it up with everyone, and hits the bars every Friday afternoon having drinks with the best of them.

But behind all of that, Mike does think about moving up and his managers believe he has some good leadership potential.  A supervisor position is getting ready to open up in 2 weeks and Mike is offered the job.  That means more money, control and responsibility.  He says he’s up for the challenge.

Mike does nothing to prepare, thinking he’ll learn what he needs to know once he starts.  He continues his ways and on Friday Mike goes out with the gang and pounds shots.  On Monday morning, Mike is a straight-laced, all business, suit, barking orders around every corner.  What do you think the reaction of his staff is to this new look?  “What the h*ll happened to you?”  Is his staff ready to work for/with him?  I don’t think so Tim.

From then on, Mike is in an uphill battle to get respect and support.

Story Two

Patty, on the hand, knew she wanted to be a leader within the ABC Company someday.  Everyone likes her and although she’s also one of the guys, she never goes overboard.

She has fun, but within limits.

Patty, like Mike, knows her job and the department well.  But unlike Mike, she asks questions and tries to understand the business as much as she can.  She also reads leadership blogs online (i.e., Linked2Leadership) and participates in leadership type webinars.  The people she works with know where she’s headed some day.  So it comes as no surprise that when a leadership position opens in her department, she’s offered the job and accepts.

She immediately asks for time during the next two weeks to meet with experienced leaders to discuss her new position and to ask questions.  At the same time Patty discusses how this new position is going to alter her relationships with her,

  • old peers/new team,
  • new peers/other leaders,
  • old/new boss, and
  • . . . family.

How do you think Patty’s transition goes, compared to Mike’s?  I see much success in Patty’s future.

Leadership and Family

When I talk to people about changing relationships, many don’t immediately understand how there’s a change with family.  After all, work and family are two separate things.  Well, not exactly.  Even though we like to keep the two separate, they’re pretty well intertwined.  The added responsibility of being a leader is going to cause more stress, working more hours, and possibly travel, among other things.

Your future is also your family’s future.

Don’t get caught up just looking at the job itself.  It’s going to affect other people besides you.  The better prepared they are, the less stress it will cause.

It’s never too late to learn and plan for the future.  It doesn’t matter if you’re an up and comer, or you’re a director, or even a CEO.  Learning should be a lifelong endeavor.

When we stop learning, we stop growing.

The two books I always recommend to people when they’re starting out in their first leadership role are:

These books are not only good for new leaders but also serve as great reminders and inspiration – and some new info – for the seasoned leader.

It takes little effort, or time, to read a couple of blogs or books here and there.  Then be sure to share that new found information with the people coming up underneath you.  Remember, some of those people are going to be in your position some day.

Have you planned your future?  Do you discuss your future with your family?  Are you investing in continued learning?  Are you helping others succeed?

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
Andy Uskavitch

Andy Uskavitch is Leadership Development and Customer Service Specialist
He develops and facilitates Leadership, Motivation & Teambuilding Seminars
Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Blog |  (727) 568-5433

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Leaders – Don’t Give In

New Hire Orientation

New employee orientation (NEO), or onboarding, is one of the most critical aspects of a new hire’s beginning.  But to so many leaders, from HR to department directors and managers, it’s becoming just a check on a quick list of to-do’s.

“Just get through the paperwork, tell them their schedule and who to report to.”  I’ve been seeing this more and more lately, and I just don’t understand it.

Creating Successful Organizations

In successful organizations, leaders focus on creating a culture that provides a feeling of ownership, belonging, and purpose.

And how best to expose new hires to this culture, that so many have worked so hard to develop, than new employee orientation?

The idea of NEO is not to just throw people some benefit information and tell them who to report to, but to immerse new people in the culture.

This includes:

  • How the organization began
  • What it went through to get to where it is today
  • The people who have made a difference
  • How these new go-getters can understand how they can make a difference

If asked about the organization, everyone should have a similar description of it.

Creating a Magic Kingdom

Probably my favorite quote of all time came from Michael Eisner, former President and CEO of The Walt Disney Company.

He said, “We don’t put people in Disney, we put Disney in people.”

Every new cast member goes through a 3½ day Traditions course (NEO), where the Disney culture is communicated through powerful storytelling.

In The Disney Way, authors Bill Capodagli and Lynn Jackson describe how Traditions was once reduced by one day . . . one day.

 “Complaints from supervisors throughout the parks began to pour in.  ‘The quality of guest service is not the quality we had last season.’”

That extra day was soon added back in and the complaints diminished.

Given Time to Succeed

NEO is the first opportunity for new people to learn about your company.  If they’re rushed through the benefits speech and the safety presentation and not given any information about how great the company is, that’s exactly the kind of employee you’re going to get.

  • You will get employees that rush their job and who don’t  feel any ownership for what they do.
  • You’ll have employees that are there just for a “job,” not a successful “career.”
  • Your company will never see the potential success it could if it properly set the tone in the beginning.

I’ve heard some managers say, “Well, they’ll learn the culture from working in it”.  They sure will.  But the culture they’ll learn is the “underground” culture – not the one that you should be immersing them in from the start.  There’s usually a culture all its own that says, “this is the way that it’s supposed to be, but this is the way that I do it”.

Right From the Start

You must teach the new people, from the start, the importance of your mission and vision and how they should act in order to fit into it and make it successful – whether its following local SOP’s, federal regulations, or putting themselves in the customers shoes to give extraordinary service.

Don’t let them learn things the hard way. Or the wrong way.

Okay, think of it this way.  Ask yourself this:

Why would I just throw a new employee into the fire to figure things out for himself? But if I bought a new piece of machinery, I’d follow the manufacturer’s instructions to set it up and get it working properly?

Getting a new employee going properly and getting a new piece of machinery going properly is the same thing.  You have to “install” a new employee in the culture, just like you would install a new piece of machinery in order to get it to run properly.

Leading By Example

Take a look at the Zappos culture.  This legendary company is one of the most successful customer-service-based companies ever. Everyone, regardless of department, hired into their headquarters goes through the same four week training that their call center staff goes through.

This includes:

  • Company history
  • The importance of customer service
  • Their long-term vision
  • Philosophy about the company culture

Everyone is on the same page because everyone gets the same information and they get it up front.  They know exactly what the company is about and how they fit into it.

Not convinced yet?  Lets turn the tables.  Yes it’s true that employee orientation centers around helping the new employee, but it just could be the company that ultimately gains the benefits.

Think about these company benefits:

  • Reduces costs associated with learning on the job
  • Saves coworkers and supervisors time training the new employee, thereby increasing production
  • Increases morale and reduces turnover by showing the employee he/she is valued

Hmmm, I never thought of it that way.

However you look at it, a strong new employee orientation program is a requirement for success – both for the employee and your company.  It’s been proven time and time again that happy knowledgeable  employees are productive employees . . . and productive employees create successful organizations.

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
Andy Uskavitch
Andy Uskavitch is Leadership Development at Florida Blood Services
He develops and facilitates Leadership, Motivation & Teambuilding Seminars
Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Blog |  (727) 568-5433

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Leadership Lesson: Do You Hear Me?

Hearing vs. Listening

Do you hear me?  Are you listening?

Many people use these two questions interchangeably, but they’re two significantly different questions.  You can “hear” people are talking, but then you can “listen” to what they’re saying.  Let me give you an example.

Hearing vs. Listening

When I was in the Navy, on board USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71), I shared an office space with our Chief Petty Officer.  Basically the only thing separating our areas was a small file cabinet with a 13” TV on top.  In the evenings, I always had the TV on, but the volume low.

Harold asked me one time, with a puzzling tone, “How can you concentrate with the TV on?”

My reply was that I’m not “listening” to it.  I just “hear” the sound.  I really had no idea what show was on.

Straight Talk

The Merriam-Webster dictionary says, in part, that

To “hear” means:

1: to perceive or apprehend by the ear.

To “listen” means:

1: to pay attention to sound.

Big difference.  When you “hear”, it’s just sound going in.  But when you “listen”, you are actually understanding the information.  In other words, you can hear something without wanting to, but you can only listen to something intentionally.  Listening is a skill.

Anyone who’s been a leader for any length of time should realize that you have to learn how to phrase questions properly in order to get the most honest and useful information and understanding in return.

The answer is always going to be “Yes” to the question, “Do you hear me?”, but “No” (at least in their mind) to the question, “Are you listening to me?”

Never ask, “Do you hear me?”

Leadership Lesson: Focus on Listening

Now, with that background, let’s change direction and talk about our listening skills.  Leaders need to focus in order to keep listening, or else we’re just . . . hearing.  Too many leaders have so many things on their minds that if they don’t just stop and focus on listening, it’s not long before they’re thinking about other things and slipping into the hearing mode.

Listening requires you to stop what you’re doing and to have patience with the conversation.

In his book, Creating Magic, Lee Cockerell says, “it’s vital to hang in there, because you never know when a glimmer of an idea might shine through.  The sentence you tuned out on might hold a crucial fact, or reveal an important problem you need to know about.”

A Listening Attitude

If you want to actually listen to someone, and not just go through the actions of hearing, you need to use the proper means.  A lot of my work has been in customer service.  That’s a great subject to take a look at.

How many of you have suggestion boxes, or comment cards?  All you get there are statements that you’re most likely going to quickly glance over and then move along.  Do you send written responses back to the customers?  You tell them that “we hear what you are saying.”  You HEAR what they’re saying.  That doesn’t necessarily mean you are LISTENING to them.

Most people tend to be “hard of listening” rather than “hard of hearing.”

Active Listening

Guest Relations at Walt Disney World used to send apology letters to Guests who complained.  But those letters, like most organizations, are just a form that specific information is inserted into.  So they started phoning the Guests instead, creating a two-way conversation where they could actually LISTEN to the concerns and work them out.

So what can I do right now to start listening better?  Good question.  I’m glad you asked.

  1. Go to the door and greet the person – personally welcome them into your office.  Help put them at ease.
  2. Get out from behind your desk and sit with the person.  Chairs should be the same height so you don’t give off a domineering vibe.
  3. Stop what you’re doing and turn to face the person.
  4. Take notes.  Tell the person that you’d like to jot down some notes while you converse in order to help you understand better.
  5. Unless you’re a doctor on-call, don’t answer the phone.
  6. Use open, positive body language.
  7. Watch the person’s body language to help you “listen” to what’s NOT being said.

Keep in mind what Beverly Kaye and Julie Winkle Giulioni said in their book, Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go“It’s the quality of the conversation that matters most to employees.”

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
Andy Uskavitch
Andy Uskavitch is Leadership Development at Florida Blood Services
He develops and facilitates Leadership, Motivation & Teambuilding Seminars
Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Blog |  (727) 568-5433

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4 Ways Leaders Build Camaraderie

Camaraderie

“Enhancing trust, pride, and camaraderie in the workplace is the central task of effective leadership in today’s organizations.” ~ Michael Burchell

Camaraderie (n)

ca·ma·ra·der·ie  [ kaamə raadəree ]
  1. friendship: a feeling of close friendship and trust among a group of people

Feeling Groovy

Camaraderie has always been important for leaders. Camaraderie and rapport creates interpersonal bond and a sense of unity that makes people feel part of something bigger than themselves.

Think of your own experience. Who were you more willing to follow:

  • A leader who you respected, admired, and had a kinship?
  • Or someone who made you feel uncomfortable?

The best leaders build rapport and camaraderie to help build loyalty for their vision. These leaders understand the importance of connections, partnerships and fulfilling the needs of the relationship economy.

L2L Discussion Please Vote

4 Ways to Building Better Teams

Here are some suggestions on how leaders can build better rapport with the people around them.

Establish Common Ground with Others

When the leaders establishes common ground, they work on uniting, linking and connecting people. These connections help leaders and followers to foster authenticity through meaningful connections.

Leaders need to focus on common ground with others.

Leaders can inquire about different factors that are important to their teams. A great opportunity to connect is to find out about others’ favorite activities.

Find out what’s life experiences others feel important to them. At each of these connections, identify the shared reality that forms the unity of common ground. Try to intentionally listen for the links between your life and theirs.

Demonstrate Empathy

Effective leaders walk in another person shoes to create genuine empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand the experiences from another person’s perspective. Your team needs to know that you can relate to their feelings, concerns and inspirations.

You can demonstrate empathy by taking a moment simply looking, soaking in and considering what it must be like to live in another person’s world.

Ask yourself what it must be like for them to take on the daily activities they engage in as a human being.

As a leader you need to communicate empathy by acknowledging people’s concerns and perspective. Phrases like “Yes that’s a problem for you,” I can understand it’s frustrating to you.”

Be Accessible and Approachable

Building rapport means giving people access to you and assisting them feel comfortable when they are around you.  The best leaders find ways to make themselves available and make time to meet with people who need their time.

Face-to-face communication must be a priority to communicate availability.

Establish real availability with a real open door policy. Create and environment for people to come in and share their ideas, concerns or simply to share a perspective.

This is another opportunity to make the interaction meaningful. It’s about an authentic connection. Listen to what people have to say and create a comfortable setting for people to feel you are genuinely interested in their thoughts.

Apply the Golden Rule

Camaraderie and rapport results from the way leaders respond to followers. As the Golden Rule says, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Implement the Golden Rule by asking people, “How would you like to be treated in this situation?”

When we listen effectively, we will find out more about the people we serve. This approach may not work for all people, but find a way to connect and treat each person in a fair manner.

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———————–
Tal Shnall
Tal Shnall Coach/Trainer Development Renaissance Hotel Dallas Richardson
He specializes in Service and Leadership Development
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On Love and Leadership

Leading in Love

“Love is a many splendored thing.”  “All you need is love.”  “Love me tender.”  “Love to love you baby.”  “Thou shalt love thy neighbor.”

Hmm.  I didn’t see anything about loving your employees.  I’m not saying you have to “love” them.  I’m talking about a simple relationship.  Think of it as love, without the . . . “love.”

Understanding Love

When we’re IN love, we’re in a whole ‘nother mindset.  Leadership is a different mindset also.  Lets take a look at some of the basics.

Love shows kindness . . . and kindness makes you someone who’s likeable.  People see that you’re someone they want to be around.  Someone that will be good to them . . . and in turn good for them.

Here is something the Bible says about love:

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 New Living Translation (NLT)

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

On Leadership and Love

As a leader, you need to be there for your employees.  You don’t have to win the “most popular” award every year, but you do need to be liked enough that they’ll be with you and follow you.  They can help you as much as you can help them.

In love, you lose your selfishness.  You become devoted to another.  We’re all selfish in one way or another, but we can get over that.

We’re always trying to get ahead.  Doing so in the wrong ways is being selfish.  Taking the credit for something that belongs to an employee(s) is selfish.  Don’t do it.  If the credit belongs to someone else, give it.  If it can be honestly shared then great.  Want what’s truly best for your staff.

Love is full of thoughtfulness.  It comes with the territory.

When you fall in love, thoughtfulness comes quite easily, right.  Buying flowers, opening doors, doing the dishes or laundry.  It’s a wonderful time.  Then over time it often starts to slow.  Just like in leadership.

Changing to Improve

When we become leaders or get promoted, we try hard from the outset – open-door policies, awards, being an open part of the team.  Then as time goes on, the door closes, the awards get put on the back burner, and you become “the boss.” But just like in love, we have to keep trying, changing, and improving our leadership skills.

When in love, we think the best of our love interest and show appreciation.

This person means the world to us and she/he is the best thing to ever come our way.  We buy flowers, we hold hands, we smile (a lot), we show the world how we feel.

Building Trust

In business we must think of our staff as the best in the business – or at least in the organization.  There’s another word you can use to describe this . . . TRUST.  If we don’t believe in and trust our employees then that’s what they’ll give us right back. It becomes a vicious circle that keeps growing until there’s absolutely no positive relationship at all.

How long do you think a love relationship would last like that?  Even the slightest bit of appreciation is better than none at all.

Love can harbor no jealousy.

If your love has a better job, so what.  If she/he has a bigger network or gets more awards, so what.

Leading With Humility

There’s no one leader in this world who knows everything.  Don’t pretend you do.  You can’t keep yourself surrounded by a bunch of “yes men.” A good leader will have people who have knowledge at ALL levels (even more than you) and have varying ideas.  You can sometimes learn as much from some of your employees as they can from you.

With love comes intimacy.  (And you know what I’m talking about.  Don’t go running to HR!)

In leadership, intimacy just means knowing your people.  Think of Tom Peters’ Managing by Wandering Around (MBWA).  Get out and see your folks.  Talk to them.  Find out about their families, their interests, their hopes for the future.

Find out what they need to do the best job that they can.

Being Faithful

Love generates faithfulness.  Love is a choice, not just a feeling.  It’s not a reaction, it’s an initiated action.

We choose to love someone because we feel a need and a want to be with that person.

Like love, leadership is a choice.  Leadership is not for everyone.  It takes a certain type of person to be really successful.  If you don’t want to do the job to the best of your ability . . . step away.

Effective Communication

And maybe most importantly, love needs communication.  Love needs open communication.  No beating around the bush.  No, “you should know what I’m thinking.”  Pure open communication . . . with discussion.

Leadership is no different.  We have to communicate clearly and concisely with our employees.  You can’t hold someone accountable for their work if they don’t know what they’re supposed to do.  People WANT to do their best.  They can’t do that without all the puzzle pieces.

And remember that even if you don’t have something to share, they still need to know that.  When people feel they’re lacking communication, they start filling in the gaps themselves.

A Work in Progress

People will commonly say, If you loved me ________ would come naturally.”  That’s so untrue.  Like I discussed earlier, we have to keep trying new things, modifying, and advancing.  Our leadership skills are no different.

They’re both a continuous work in progress!

How is your relationship with your staff?  What can you work on, short-term, to make things better?  What can you work on, long-term, to make things better?

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
Andy Uskavitch
Andy Uskavitch is Leadership Development at Florida Blood Services
He develops and facilitates Leadership, Motivation & Teambuilding Seminars
Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Blog |  (727) 568-5433

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Hey Leaders: Curiosity Did Not Kill The Cat

Curiosity Killed the Cat

In order to help your employees grow you have to know about them. You have to know what they’re capable of – not only in your eyes, but in their eyes. You have to know what they enjoy doing – both at work and at home. 

  • What do they consider a job well done?
  • If they were given time, what types of projects would they want to work on?
  • What resources do they need that you’re not aware of?

“Curiosity might be the most under-the-radar and undervalued leadership competency in business today.”

This is just one of the thought-provoking and meaningful quotes from the new book, Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Employees Want, by Beverly Kaye & Julie Winkle Giulioni (releases Sep 18).

Fairness is Not Fair

We always hear, from employees, about how things have to be fair.  But everyone is NOT the same so you can’t use a one-size-fits-all approach.  Fairness does not mean everyone gets the same schedule, raise, or attention.

The solution?

Be curious so you can determine just what is fair to each individual person.

Think about how “fairness” affects you and the organization.

Say you have one employee (A) that always has a positive attitude, has initiative, always exceeds expectations, and generally outperforms other employees (B).

If you treat employee A and B exactly the same, with the same pay, raises, and perks, there will be no incentive for employee A to continue performing so well.

Is this being fair to employee A?

Being the Sincerity Role Model

You, of course, know that you’re a role model, right?  Well you should.  If you’re more curious, it’s going to trigger your employees to be more curious.

They too, will find out more about their own teammates and become more curious (ie, ask questions, plan) about how projects may pan out – fixing possible problems before they happen.

Don’t forget that your curiosity needs to be sincere.

Kaye and Giulioni go on to say this:

“Quality questions asked without curiosity will signal to employees that you’ve just come back from training.  Quality questions asked with the spirit of curiosity will facilitate conversations that will literally allow others to change their lives.”

An a-ha moment, to be sure – one of many in their book.

How to Be Curious

Some basic questions you can ask, according to Margaret Heffernan in her Inc. Magazine article, Inspire Your Workforce: Be Curious:

  1. Find out 10 things about your employees that you could not find on their resumes
  2. Learn the names of each of their spouses or significant others
  3. Find out how many pets belong to your workforce
  4. See if you can find out one book each team member has recently read
  5. Identify a favorite food (or drink) that each person likes

Ask these questions and you just may gain more enthusiasm and respect for your team. Heffernan said one CEO came away with far more creative ideas about how to motivate his employees, and by knowing what excited them, was able to connect better with them.

An effective environment is supported by high quality relationships between managers and their employees.  Employees will work their hearts out only if they want to, and that’s determined mainly by the quality of the relationship with their managers.

A Curious Case in Point

Way back when, when I was working retail I worked with another manager that would always complain to me about one of our employees – we’ll call her Betty – no, Veronica.  She’d tell me that Veronica was lazy, unmotivated, and disregarded her “power.”

On the other hand, I’d describe her as just the opposite.  When we sat down one day to figure out why we described Veronica so differently, it quickly became obvious that it all had to do with our leadership styles.  Where I asked Veronica about what work she liked and wanted to do, and about her family, and her future – my counterpart could have cared less.

I worked WITH Veronica’s strengths and worked ON her weaknesses.  She was a model employee with me and a royal pain-in-the-arse with our other manager . . . all because I was curious.

Wow, what a concept?

How is your relationship with your employees?  Are you curious enough about your employees to find out more about them? (you should be)  What can you do today to become more connected? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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——————–
Andy Uskavitch
Andy Uskavitch is Leadership Development at Florida Blood Services
He develops and facilitates Leadership, Motivation & Teambuilding Seminars
Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Blog |  (727) 568-5433

Image Sources:  farm5.staticflickr.com

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