Do you hear what I hear?

dog on the phoneI am confident most of us would class ourselves as good listeners, interested in what others have to say and will happily give others our undivided attention.  However when was the last time someone was talking to you and you got distracted, by the time you re-enter the conversation you have missed the most relevant part?

I am sure we have all had these uncomfortable moments and whilst we may advocate these skills perhaps it is time to brush up on what active listening really means to ourselves and others.

Challenge yourself – are you really good at listening?  You may have got out of the habit because you are really busy if this is the case it will take some practise.  Concentrate really hard, focus on the words that are actually being said and to quote Stephen R. Covey ‘Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply’ avoid jumping ahead with the answer you will give.

Become more curious and open minded, accept that others may have a great idea that you could easily miss through a lack of attention. Try to see the world from their shoes – what they are saying is important to them, imagine yourself in their situation. Learn to learn from others stay ‘fully in the moment’.  After they finish talking to you let them know you were listening by mentioning the key points, ask for clarity where needed and get them to commit to next steps.

If you really actively listening it will result in you both hearing the same things and it will develop mutual trust and loyalty.

The cost to us of not telling the truth!

Truth

April the 30th is ‘National Honesty Day’ it was created in the early 1990s by M. Hirsh Goldberg, he chose the last day of April since the first of the month ‘April Fools’ celebrates falsehoods. The day is all about telling the truth, sharing opinions, thoughts and perspectives, anyone participating should be able to ask a question and the opposing person with knowledge of the day will answer truthfully.

Reading about this got me thinking about the impact of people not telling the truth in the workplace.  You will have experienced it yourself where you see people not delivering performance feedback, letting unacceptable behaviour go rather than addressing it or saying that everything is ok and then moaning behind the persons back.

I do not have any magical financial calculations however what I am convinced of is that if people told the truth about performance issues, unacceptable behaviour or how they were feeling we would most definitely all save ourselves the time and money it takes to resolve the things that are unsaid.  I do not think in most cases that it is people being deliberately dishonest perhaps its more about knowing how to do it in an unemotional way that ensures the message does not get lost in translation.

If you know anyone who maybe struggling to share the truth with others suggest they use the simple process of EEC it is relevant and useful for both constructive and good feedback which should also not be forgotten.

EEC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hope this helps your people save themselves and your organisation time and money.

Avoid the Negative Impact of losing an hour…

change your clocksWith British Summer Time starting tomorrow for some there will be a bitter sweet feeling of the positive signs of spring vs. the loss of one hour of sleep or time.

Despite it being only an hour the new light-dark cycle perversely works against our body clock, our brain knows the time on the clock has changed however research tells us that getting less sunlight in the morning and more in the evening results in a short term lack of productivity.

You can avoid the negative impact of losing the hour by taking some simple steps:

  • 27th March go to bed 45 minutes earlier
  • Avoid alcohol this weekend!
  • Get out into the sunlight on the 28th to help your body clock reset
  • Avoid early morning activities on the 28th and 29th

Hope as a result your feelings about the change are purely positive!

Are your New Year’s resolutions a distant memory?

At the start of a year we all set out with good intentions and high expectations as we embark on our life changing resolutions.  Some of us stick with it and for those who do I congratulate you on your focus and determination.  For those who failed, that could be how you are feeling right now ‘a failure’ however ask yourself ‘did you just try to raise the bar too high?’

The most popular and failed resolutions are to get fit, lose weight and achieve better work life balance, all elements that contribute towards increased energy, happiness and well-being.

If your new year’s resolutions are a distant memory and you still have the desire to get fit, lose weight and achieve better work life balance here are just a few things you can do as a part of your daily routine to help yourself – you don’t need to buy new gym kit!

 Get fit:

  • Walk and Meet where possible get up from your desk and meet by walking and talking in the fresh air – it’s stimulating and adds to the meeting dynamic
  • Take the stairs at every possible opportunity take the stairs not the lift – it may be tough at the outset but it does get easier
  • Power walk take your trainers to work and power walk after your lunch for 15 minutes – no excuses everyone can take a break and the added bonus your energy levels will increase.

 Lose weight:

  • Keep an eating diary for just one week write down ‘everything’ you eat and drink – there is much research to back this up which found that you end up eating 15% less food that those who don’t
  • Make it skinny it is astounding how many calories are in fancy coffee, change your drinks to a ‘skinny’ version and you can drop as much as 160 calories and reduce saturated fat to zero
  • Hydration helps drink a glass of water before you eat – it helps to fill you up and increase your energy levels

 Achieve better work life balance:

  • Start the weekend early even if it means coming in early always go home on time on a Friday – spend the time with friends and family your weekend will also feel longer
  • Put your phone down at home or at work cleanse your mind and body.  Take a 5 minute break, put your phone down and look out of the window – it’s ‘you time’ a very liberating feeling and everything can wait for five minutes
  • Learn to say ‘No’ If you tend to say yes when you’re asked to do something extra, say you’ll get back to them, use that time to think about whether to say yes or no – If you want to say yes, fine, if you want to say no, say no and keep saying it and don’t justify your actions or give excuses.

And finally I read recently…’willpower is like a muscle, it needs to be exercised, practise five minutes of deep breathing daily to clear your mind and strengthen your resolve’. If nothing else use the five minutes to consider what you have just read and make a resolution that you can keep and will increase your well-being and happiness. 

If you only do one thing for your managers this year…

All too often people say to me, ‘if only our managers ‘managed’ their teams’… ‘If only our managers could get the best out of their teams’… ‘If only all of our teams were moving in the same direction.’

You would not be alone if you think that to solve all of these ‘if onlys’ you would need to apply a number of interventions.  However this is not the case so long as you get the right one.  If you only do one thing for your managers this year get them a bespoke ‘High Performance Teams’ model and engage them in the process.

We have our own bespoke model called Maze Teamdynamix© and we know it works.  There are others in the market place, however, make sure you go bespoke.  That way it will be aligned to your organisational values, measure behaviours and gives teams direction.  It should set out clearly how your teams should be behaving from ‘off track’ through to ‘high performance’ or in our case Teamdynamix© it will certainly help with the ‘if onlys’ and a lot more besides:

• Aligns team behaviours to your Values

• Drives teams to high performance 

• Constructive team conversations that would otherwise not happen

• Creates team ownership through shared actions 

• Team momentum through on-going progress reviews

• Team deliver on what matters to your organisation 

 Hope this helps you to make the biggest difference! 

 

Getting to know the ‘real people’

As technology continues to advance face to face communication is often seen as a thing of the past, there are great advantages to the technological improvements however it also makes  it more challenging to get to know the ‘real people’ in your team.

Whether your communication is face to face, by email or Skype there are a few easy steps you can take to get to know your real people and develop stronger more effective relationships.  I am not suggesting everyone becomes best friends, I am however suggesting you get to know your real people as from experience if you don’t you are missing out on getting the best from them.

My approach is simple STOP, LOOK and LISTEN…

STOP

  • Take the time to reflect on each person in your team, what do you already know about them – what are their family circumstances, how they spend their spare time, what hobbies do they have.  If you don’t know find out as in itself it can indicate what they enjoy
  • Consider why are they doing what they do – ‘what is in it for them’, what motivates them to come to work each day – caution here do not assume that everyone’s reason is the same – money.  I have worked with people whose work is their family; yes of course they need to earn money however it is actually secondary to the need to belong
  • Show an interest, ask a question that requires more than a one word answer e.g. ‘what plans have you got for the weekend’ and please don’t ask the question and walk away.  

 LOOK

  • Look for the signs that things are different – you can tell so much by really observing people yes it is easier face to face, however you can also pick up so much from an email by the language used if you look for it.  Look for the reason to compliment or just check in with them to make sure they are ok and that you care enough to ask
  • Look for reasons to compliment – share an example of what they did that pleased you, what was the positive effect and encourage them to do more
  • Look for opportunities to do things that show you care – a birthday card, thank you card or just say thank you.

 LISTEN

  • You can find out so much by ‘listening’, not superficially what I am talking about is ‘really listening’.   Picking up on the snippets of information that will help you to understand them better
  • Listen out for the sporting teams they support make a point of checking how they did – you then know whether to celebrate or sympathise with them the next day
  • Listen to their career aspirations and help them to achieve them – don’t prevent them so they stay with you because they will leave anyway and everyone misses out.

The reality is people respond better if they feel you are interested in them.  Your investment to get to know the ‘real people’ will deliver rewards.  You will know what motivates them, you will understand what makes them happy and when the going gets tough your relationship enables you to get that much needed buy in.

What hasn’t changed is – excellent communication to get to know people whatever the medium is the key to sustained success it’s about investing the time to STOP, LOOK and LISTEN.

Reviewing performance ‘must-do’s’…

All too often reviewing of performance is left until the end of the year; as a result there are often unexpected surprises, frustrations and disappointments resulting in you spending your time fire-fighting and reacting to issues that arise.

In an ideal world there are many pay offs to sitting down on a monthly basis, something you may want to consider doing in the year ahead if you don’t already do so.  However if you are about to embark on reviewing the performance of others here are some tips on what Maze Research have established are the 4 key skills areas you will need to become more successful with your reviews.

Hope this helps you to help others achieve their true potential.

What will your team be famous for?

With year-end reviews getting closer, what will you be saying your team has been famous for this year?  It may be one thing or it may be many, however what has made them stand out above the rest?

If it is a challenge for you to pinpoint what they are famous for, consider this…

Famous sports teams tend to be remembered because they have won a major competition, a league or achieved a world record.  Their success comes from hard work, and determination.  In most cases it takes time and effort to create and achieve such a status.  The one thing they do all have in common is a very clear focus and direction. 

Successful teams, without exception, know exactly what they are working towards, what they are trying to achieve and it’s this unity in the destination that allows them to maintain the energy and motivation to reach it.

Every team becomes identified by their results.  Think of sports teams that have amazingly successful seasons, then have a change of management and their fortunes begin to change, and vice versa.  So, you can be just as famous, or infamous, for poor results as you can for great results.

One way to ensure that your team are famous for the right result is to ensure that the WHOLE team is absolutely clear on the destination.

So if you do not have the opportunity to celebrate in style this year, start planning for 2015 and decide as a team on the following…

By 31st December 2015… what specifically will the team deliver that will make them famous to the business and how will you measure your success?  And of course celebrate your achievement!

This is a great team exercise and from experience you will be pleasantly surprised of what they come up with and how prepared they are to challenge the boundaries.

It’s good to walk…

There are so many reasons why it is good to walk including the 3.2 million deaths each year which are attributed to insufficient physical activity.  Therefore why is there so little of it?

Research tells us that walking improves health and happiness; by walking a mile we can burn off 100 calories and walking two miles three times a week can reduce our weight by one pound every three weeks.  The more a person walks the better they feel and the more relaxed they become.

From the people I have talked to the main excuse appears to be not enough time.  I could reply saying they need to make time however that would result in a different conversation, therefore I suggest they try the following:

  • Walk and Meet – Instead of sitting around a meeting table, walk and talk.  This is especially useful for those meetings where you need to generate ideas.  It energises and  inspires the mind plus you can make your notes using the voice recorder on your phone
  • Team Walk – Get each person in your team to organise a 20 minute ‘Guided Tour’ to start each team meeting.  For example:  a Guided Tour on local places of interest
  • Take a Break – If you are going to make a drink try using a kitchen that is further away, the same applies when visiting the toilet
  • Take the Stairs – Avoid the lift and take the stairs
  • Walk to Work – I appreciate that this may not always be possible however if you need to use your car, use a car park or space further away
  • New Starter Walking Tour – When you have a new starter take them on a walking tour of the local area pointing out the banks, dry cleaners and best sandwich and coffee shops
  • Thinking Walk – Rather than diving into a project, take a thinking walk to get your ideas together before you start to plan it out, a different environment is highly stimulating.

 Hope you enjoy trying some of these out yourself and the benefits it will give you.

When is it good to copy?

We all have very different views on how we feel when others copy us – I am not talking about when we were at school and the person next to you copied your answers.   I am talking about those people who try to emulate you for your characteristics, your confidence and your personal brand.

My opinion is aligned to that of Albert Bandura, the 1950’s Canadian psychologist who researched and created the Social Learning Theory – his concept that self-efficacy breed’s confidence and people learn from one another by observation, imitation and modelling is so true and there is no harm in it.  If you observe someone behaving in a way that you believe would help you to achieve your goals and objectives and you decide this because of the positive outcomes they achieve then that is a good enough reason. 

To start copying:

  • Identify the specific skills or traits you have appreciated
  • Observe them carefully to learn how to apply the skill or trait
  • Practice – if at first you don’t succeed don’t give up, practice makes perfect

You do need to be realistic, no point using Usain Bolt as a model if you have never tried sprinting, but if you have seen someone else do something and thought ‘I can do that’ then that is the time to copy away!