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Posts Tagged ‘Communication’

You may have heard recently about a Texas-based attorney who ended up doing an entire Zoom call as an adorable kitten.  The Zoom call was actually a court hearing with a judge.  The attorney accidentally signed onto the call with a cat filter and could not figure out how to turn the filter off.  He eventually proclaimed “I am not a cat” to the judge, who replied “I can see that.”  The video went viral and the attorney was mortified at first, but then realized that we could all use something to laugh at during these stressful times.

The point here is, like it or not, technology is now playing a huge role in the way we relate to each other.  It is important to keep growing and learning these different ways to connect. 

Video calls have taken the place of door to door and telephone sales, meetings with a co-worker and our team, and even building stronger ties to family and loved ones who are not geographically close.  It was on the horizon, many of us avoided it, procrastinated, or even used excuses, but the pandemic, like a wave brought it to our front door.  So, where are you in all of this?

Were you an early adopter or a laggard? If you are in business, believing things will go back to the way they once were, time to wake up and realize “we’re not in Kansas anymore”.  Virtual technology is here to stay. Do not be left behind just because things seem intimidating to use or you feel it will not be the same as in person.  

I have to admit, I surprised myself. Turning our in-person training to virtual seemed like it would not produce the same results and I would use statements like, “I can’t feel the energy of the group”, “I will look horrible on the camera”, “They’ll never participate the way they would in a live session”. Well, I have been proven wrong. VERY WRONG! While it took extra effort learning how to create engagement and interaction, and learning the formula for balancing chats, polls, discussions and activities, I can honestly say, for our typical training, it is the way to go. 

Do not get me wrong, leadership or team retreats, off-site sales meetings, team building interventions will still be more impactful in-person because you cannot make up the conversations that take place on the breaks, the restaurant or even the bar.  For the most part, if done right, virtual training is the new reality as will be team meetings versus conference calls, many sales meeting and even family connections.  We encourage you to educate yourself as much as you can so that you can keep up with these new and exciting ways to communicate, build relationships and increase productivity.

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marshmallow test

“Just one more bite.”

“I need to get to the next level.”

“Sure, I will have another.”

“I just need to vent.”

These are just a few examples of that voice inside our heads that takes us from moderation and a healthy place to unhealthy behaviors leading to negative consequences.  We all, in some aspect of our life, deal with self-control issues.  It’s part of being human.

Discipline and denial lead to great things in life.”  – The life insurance sales legend, John Savage so eloquently advises on a complicated issue.  How can we obtain such a state of existence?  What is easy to do, is often as easy not to do!

The prefrontal cortex of a human’s brain (where self-control is based) is quite a bit larger in humans than in other mammals.  This means we are born with the ability to plan and even find ways avoid mistakes and solve problems. Of course, just like any other ability – some people have to work harder than others to achieve results or find ease in mastering one area of their life over another.

I remember hearing about “The Marshmallow Test” that came about in the 1970’s.  Psychologist Walter Mischel left children alone in a room with one marshmallow.  He told them that if they did not eat the marshmallow, they could have two later.  The kids who were willing to wait for the second marshmallow (delayed gratification) were followed throughout their lives and showed numerous positive life outcomes compared to the ones who could not wait and ate the first marshmallow.  We are not all born with an overabundance of self-control.

Here are seven strategies that you can use to help with your self-control issues:

  1. Be aware of your triggers and avoid them. Listen for that voice in your head and know your emotional trigger. You can train yourself to “flip the switch” by having a planned ahead of time as to your reaction when these things happen.  If your temptation is to take that extra bite, have an awareness of your trigger, (your automatic thought) and re-frame it. In other words, as you hear the trigger, you now say, “No thank you, I have had enough”.  Tempted to say something you should not, learn the trigger, it might sound something like, “they need to feel this” or “I probably shouldn’t say anything but…” Change that unproductive thought to, “Is this battle really that important?”
  2. Let go of control! It may seem like a contradiction but letting go of control of others can be a very healing exercise for you.  Being too controlling of others or situations is not healthy.  Relinquishing some of those controls can be vital for you and the other people involved.  Start out small – this cannot be solved overnight.  It will take a conscious effort on your part. Once again, the automated thought might sound something like, “I can do it better if I do it myself” or “They will screw it up”. Change that thought to, “It’s important I let them learn (or fail
  3. Understand your EQ (Emotional Intelligence). Truly get to know yourself.  Start to gain awareness of the impact of your words, actions and behaviors and the impact they have on others.  Ask questions of the people around you, even if you don’t want to hear the answers.  Once you are aware of your impact, you can begin to be able to respond appropriately.  Emotional Intelligence is listening to understand versus listening to respond.  Once you take time to understand the situation or the emotions, you can find the right response, leading to problem solving and relationship building.
  4. Create a plan. So, now you have self-awareness, but today you ate that extra bite, spent too much time on video games or crossed that line with a co-worker.  Everyone has a bad day.  Do not let one small setback ruin your whole plan.  Get back on the track, do not beat yourself up. In interpersonal relationships, recognize when you do need to take ownership and apologize.
  5. Learn to say NO. For some people this comes easy, but for others who have been trained from a young age to be compliant, it is very difficult to say no, even to the smallest requests.  Start by saying no to small requests from people.  There is no reason to explain or apologize – just say no.  You will realize that having this ability to say no is very freeing and reduces a lot of stress in your life once you truly learn how to do it. If no is not easy for you, practice saying things like, “Let me get back to you”, “Or, “Hmm, interesting, let me think about it” or “thank you, I have had enough”.
  6. Get an accountability partner. We all know that accountability drives results. Find someone you can trust and be open and vulnerable with and count on to help you versus judge you. This can be a friend, family member, or co-worker.  It might be someone with the same issues or goals. You will be able to help each other by communicating things that you might be struggling with.  It’s always nice to have someone in your corner.  An accountability partner will be sure to tell you what you need to hear, versus what you want to hear.
  7. Build your willpower. Knowing your “Why” versus simply focusing on the how, will be your guide.  Being mindful of why you want to do something is much more helpful when working towards a goal.  This will help to build up your willpower and have the courage to slowdown and stop unhealthy behaviors.  Many people say they want to lose weight, but often fail, but if an important event like a wedding or class reunion comes up, watch those pounds fall.  For me, it was the doctor trying to put me on medication that changed my eating habits.  Willpower means feeding your mind like you would your body!  Keep positive affirmations and people around you.  Knowing your why helps you see in pictures what can be.  This will help you stay emotionally attached to your goals.

In summary, self-control is a complicated issue. Decide ahead of time what your goal and strategy will be.  Write your plan down and refer to it often.  You could even strategically place signs around your house, to remind you of your goals. Never be afraid to get outside help such as counselling.

Life is short.  Start doing the things you want to do and being the person, you want to be now! Don’t wait for New Years Day for your resolutions, make it today.

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You have probably seen videos featuring song parodies featuring pandemic  quarantine response or “stay home, stay safe” orders.   In the 1.5 minute video below, Mary Anne Wihbey-Davis reads her poem “My Favorite Things (work from home version),” which may may you think of the song “These Are a Few of My Favorite Things” from the classic movie The Sound of Music.  For another movie comparison, see her blog post Groundhog Day.

 

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I recently watched the movie “Groundhog Day” again, and if you’re not familiar with that movie, it is about a man (Bill Murray in weatherman role) who keeps waking up to the same exact day as the day before – and it keeps happening until he “gets it right”.

That is when I realized that we are in a kind of “Ground Hog Work Day” existence right now and have been for just short of six months!

We wake up and put on our “daytime pajamas”. The uniform is something that consists of making up the top half of us with a dress shirt and combed hair, and the bottom half, well… sweatpants, shorts and even pajamas for some. And what’s interesting, on our calls, most will admit to not having on shoes or socks, meaning barefoot at work has become a new norm. Instead of walking out the door in a hurry to drive to work, we walk to our makeshift desk/computer set up somewhere in our home and push the ON button and OFF the day goes.

Our situations are vast, as some have children in virtual school, a spouse working from home, babies crying or dogs barking while there are others who are simply alone. Most would agree, our cooking and baking skills have matured and well, for some, the frequency of happy hour has increased.

Our reality has changed! All of the in-person day to day things we took for granted in an office environment have disappeared.  No more water cooler conversations, “drive-by” desk chats or break-room visits.  Gone are the short elevator talks about everything and nothing.  Now if we want to have even the smallest conversation, we schedule it on Zoom or Skype.

Yes, we have gotten to know our co-workers on a more personal level, since we have been able to see fragments of their home life through a webcam lens. We have learned more about our family members as well.  We have never spent this much time together at home!  We are saving money on gas, and possibly taking better care of our plants!

Maybe now that we have learned so much, we can take that knowledge and start a new kind of workday.  A beautiful hybrid called Work/Life Balance.  We always hear the words, but now we know what the potential meaning can be for us.

But if you have not noticed, Groundhog Day is still here – this repetitive day is still happening.  And I’m wondering if we have yet to “get it right”, so let us take what we have learned, and design our day to be fulfilling and finds ways to connect, engage, and thrive.

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Telecommuting Remote Worker Working from home and telecommuting has a whole new meaning today.  Leaders need to be aware of the issues their employees face when working alone.  These issues are more than which technologies are the best to use.  There are feelings of isolation and loss in belonging to a group or a purpose.  Below are ten tips for leadership to prevent feelings of isolation in your workforce that is working remotely from home or others locations.

10 Tips for Preventing Isolation for Your Remote Workforce:

  1. Set Them Up for Remote Success.  While you may have sent your employee home with a laptop, camera and microphone, some people are more hesitant of new technologies. Have some “dry runs” or create a fun interaction and let the team members play with the tools.  Take the lead with your IT Department or application provider and get some tips and tricks for keeping information safe.  Show them how to: access/store documents on your secure server or cloud storage for shared or team documents.  Encourage them to reach out to team members using text, chat, instant message, phone, or electronic meeting tools for communication.   Leverage some of the many tools and technologies that are available like the various forms of virtual meeting for sharing ideas.
  1. Communicate with your Remote Employees on a Regular Basis.  You can simply call or email team members, but if you are looking to maintain engagement, take the time to do web-based video sessions. It is only a couple of extra steps to have one-on-one individual meetings or virtual meetings for your intact team members.  Encourage all your team members to make the extra effort to connect by phone and video. Working remotely can be quite isolating and all team members need to feel part of something.  Real-time phone and video captures what the chat, IM and texting cannot. Even the most extreme introverts will begin to feel isolated an lonely without the human interactions for too long.
  1. Manage with Realistic Goals and Timelines.  Being extra specific on what your expectations and timelines are will pay off in a big way for all involved. Be sure you agree on how to “urgent” items and provide true deadlines with milestones to reach along the way.  Consider color coding tasks and priorities assigned to reflect those things you need now versus later. The more they understand the expectations of tasks and timelines, the more successful they will be at meeting them. You need to realize that many have their hands full with the challenges of managing a family and a job.
  1. Provide Performance Coaching and Feedback.  While we are all busy scrambling to get our business in order along with managing competing priorities, do not forget to regularly coach your employees and give them constant feedback. This means employees need clear expectations. Find out what is keeping them from meeting their targets and see how you can provide guidance or resources to help them.  If providing critical feedback, be sure they are in a place to actively listen without others overhearing or interruptions. When it comes to your employees meeting targets, use PTC when they: exceed them – Praise them, meet them – Thank them sincerely, miss them – Coach them on their performance.
  1. Create Opportunities for Team Engagement.  As the team’s leader, you need to schedule time for you and your team members to connect with each other. Even though they are not physically seeing each other every day, there is no reason you cannot create a feeling of comradery. Consider doing a short lunch and learn, or a team building activity or even a group break using a virtual platform. Let them have a forum to share what is making them smile and also their challenges and fears. Some organizations are doing virtual events like: interactive happy hours, virtual cooking classes, and Everything DiSC learning sessions.   You might consider seeing if you could find a local charity or outreach to sponsor.
  1. Be Results-Focused – No Micro-Managing.  Assuming you have communicated expectations clearly, then the focus can shift to looking for accomplishments and results. Being overly concerned about every task being done and how every hour of the day is spent will make everyone more than a little crazy. Trust them to do what is needed to achieve the goals and if they are not, then a different conversation can take place. It is a new world and you will see many have to manage tasks on their own timeline, meaning, they may be having to spend more time with children in the day, but will give you a 150% in the evening or early morning.
  1. Strategically Communicate with the Individual.  While you lead and manage your remote team members, create a strategy and guidelines for when and how you will connect with them for reports, updates, etc. Remember, your team members have different communication styles and preferences. Adapt to their style as much as possible for the best results.
  1. Encourage Stepping up to the Plate.  As a leader, it is important to ask team members who are in a position to help, to step up to the plate to help their fellow co-workers who are struggling to manage family issues at home while trying to work.  Challenges will arise for your remote employees, so fell free to ask team members, who may not have as much personal responsibility, to reach out to co-workers and see if there are any tasks they can take off their plate to relieve stress and reduce feeling of isolation.
  1. Provide Management Consistency.  Although as a leader may want to let the employee decide how to work, you might provide guidelines as to use of company technology for personal use, work-time policy, and confidentiality.  Your HR department or consultant can provide you some best practices that you could share. This will avoid confusion between team members who have their own ideas as to what they should and should not be doing while working remotely.  Some may need time management tips for telecommuting as well as the technology training.
  1. Support Their Needs, Professional and Personal.  When we work in a physical space daily, we get to know those on the team beyond a professional level. We learn about their families, personal values and beliefs, as well as their own personal history. Take the time to be intentional about deepening the relationships you have with your employees as well, to help create a sense of belonging and community for them.  Simply said, make them feel valued by checking in on them.  Be prepared, many will have more on their plate than you knew, listen – really listen.  If necessary, give them the guidance or the employee assistance they may need.

Using the ten tips make it easier for leaders help their employees overcome the feeling of isolation when working alone at home or other remote locations.  Knowing that their leadership cares, about both the professional and personal issues of telecommuting, will encourage a sense of belonging and instill more purpose into their work done from home.

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3 Tips to Create a Listening CultureEveryone understands that listening better makes you a better communicator, but how do you develop a culture of listening? After all changing cultural norms in the workplace is not an easy task.  Below are 3 tips on candor, styles, and emotions you can try to create to a culture that listens to everyone.

Reward candor as a positive way to build a better listening culture. If you want people to share their ideas openly, it is important to give a simple “thank you” or say things lie “that is a great idea [perspective or thought].”

Adapt to the style of co-workers.  When you adapt, with the other person’s communication style in mind, more effective interactions can take place. DiSC is a tool that can help make you more aware of the styles of others.  When conversing with the other DiSC styles below make an effort to follow these suggestions:

  • D – make efficient use of time, stay focused, expect blunt truthfulness
  • I – support their enthusiasm, be open to collaboration
  • S – show concern for their feelings, use an easy-going approach
  • C – keep the message objective, expect skepticism

Manage emotions because it can be painful for people to experience new ideas or challenges to the old way of doing things. Many may have strong, emotional reactions – so expect them and be willing to open a conversation around their issues.  You need to acknowledge the existing emotions, pause before reacting, and then form a response that that supports your new culture.  It takes emotionally agile people to work across cultures, generations, and to adapt to rapid changes in the workforce.

For more communication suggestions, review Focus on Effective Communication Skills post.

 

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Everything DiSC

Everything DiSC Styles

We now have five generations in the workplace!  In a culture where diversity and inclusion are expected in the workplace, it is important to remember that each generation is diverse.  Age-diversity can benefit corporate culture and improve work performance too.

You may already know that Everything DiSC (and MyEverythingDiSC.com) may help bridge the gap between different working styles, but did you realize it may help connect people across “generation gaps?”  DiSC serves as a roadmap to connect people regardless of age. With DiSC as a roadmap, your organization can foster a work environment that enables everyone to learn from each other.

How does DiSC do that?  Consider that a team of two Millennials, a Gen-Xer and a Baby Boomer may struggle to communicate.  They may blame this on the differences in their ages and experiences. After they learn their DiSC styles, they start to see each other from a different perspective. Instead of focusing on generational difference, they could discover they are an S-style, a CD-style, and two D-styles!  DiSC provides a way for them to connect across workstyles.  This helps the entire team to utilize a more effective way to work together.

For more on the multigenerational workforce, please read the post 5 Tips for Managing a Multi-generational Workforce.

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Human Insecurity

According to Mark Scullard, insecurity can lead to the following drains on corporate culture:  gossip, territorialism, cliques, cynicism, defensiveness, hiding mistakes, resistance to change, fear of risk, passive aggressive communication, avoiding feedback, withholding of information, false consensus, and pocket vetoes.

In his white paper The Invisible Drain on Your Company’s Culture, he write “these actions slowly, and usually imperceptibly, corrode the machinery of the organization’s culture—a steady drain on efficiency, communication, transparency, engagement, creativity, and objective decision making. And, of course, all of this trickles down to the bottom line…”

People bring their personal issues into the workplace every day!  Insecurity is a natural human condition and possibly the root of most workplace conflict. At work people pretend that insecurity is something they should not reveal.  Insecurity is dismissed as a character flaw or weakness in the workplace, rather than a unconscious feeling.

Today, most leaders recognize the impact of personality and interpersonal relationships on their organization’s success, although they were unaware how much of their time might be spent managing insecurity and its consequences. However, Scullard says there is something managers can do.  Managers should understand the two dimensions of human nature (via DiSC model) to help organize interpersonal relationships and they can encourage trust in the workplace.

Want to know more about why you should use Everything DiSC?  View Creating a Winning Culture video featuring customer testimonials.

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Wiley announced the winners of their product sales awards at the April 24-26, 2019 MindLab Conference in Denver, Colorado (more photos from event).  Among the Diamond-level winners were Roy Davis (owner of Davis Success Solutions) and wife, Mary Anne (owner of Peak Performance Solutions).  Since both Davis’ are certified/accredited facilitators for Everything DiSC and The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team training options, their separate training companies are able to collaborate on delivering training workshops and seminars to their various customers.  Both Roy and Mary Anne Davis are also asked to speak on DiSC, leadership, and team-building topics at many association luncheons or dinners.  Additionally, Mary Anne is sought out as a sales/marketing speaker.  Roy Davis is also a popular speaker for career development topics.

Everything DiSC Authorized Partner

All award levels are based on sales of Everything DiSC and  The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team Wiley products lines.  The two highest awards Wiley gives are Diamond ($125K+ sales) and Emerald ($75K+ sales), which are celebrated at a special Authorized Partner evening of the MindLab event.  The Davis couple has won Diamond in 2018, 2017, 2015, and 2013.  They have won Emerald in 2016, 2014, and 2011.  Other Wiley awards levels include:  Ruby, Sapphire, Topaz (new for 2019), and Opal.  Many of the other awards have been won by Davis Success Solutions each year since Roy began his authorized partnership for the variety of DiSC profiles in 2005, shortly after staring his business in 2004.  The selection of Everything DiSC behavior profiles and associated reports includes:  363 for Leaders, , Management, Productive Conflict, Sales, Work of Leaders, and Workplace which can be for both personal and professional communication use.  The Davis’ began offering  The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team products and training in 2014 and PXT Select assessments and reports in 2017.

The Five Behaviors of a Team Authorized Partner

Working with Wiley to increase the training offerings of Davis Success Solutions and Peak Performance Solutions has been successful for both companies.  It has also been extremely beneficial to their clients as well.  Customer success stories have been published in Training and Development Magazine (an ATD publication) and as examples published by Wiley.  The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team success stories include AmerisourceBergen and City of Schertz.  Working with Southwest Business Corporation is an Everything DiSC success story (see also testimonial video).

PXT Select Authorized Partner

Peak Performance Solutions has been in the training business since 1994.  Roy Davis and Mary Anne (Wihbey) Davis’ companies have been co- facilitating workshops since 2004 for synergistic success, before the two independent company owners married in 2010.  Each company has other training offerings, besides those based on Wiley products, which are unique based on their individual expertise.  As well as their standard course offerings, both companies also offer customized training in each of their areas of expertise designed to meet their varied client needs.  For training outside their scope of knowledge, each training company may contract with other experts that they collaborate with, in order to insure customers get the best options to fill specific skill gaps within the client’s organization.

Davis Success Solutions

Peak Performance Soltuions

Check out their company websites or contact Roy Davis at Davis Success Solutions or Mary Anne Davis at Peak Performance Solutions to find out how they may help you with your training needs.

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We surveyed 77 random managers who went through our Executive Excellence Workshops (customized Leadership Academy to clients) in the same year.  We asked many questions about what they learned and found most useful. We were looking to see if they could take the learning from the classroom to the workplace. The results of two questions are below and we hope you find this of value as you plan your own leadership training.

For the question “Have you noticed a difference in your workplace since the training?  88% of respondents said YES!

Then for the question “What key changes have you implemented since your leadership training sessions?”   Below are their replies:

I believe some of the percentages listed above were low because many of the managers were already doing that key, so it was not a change for them.  However, it was gratifying to see the leadership lessons were learned and implemented by so many in the year after their training.

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