Ideas and Insights


Feedback: the how

Many companies try to help managers navigate this minefield by standardizing a feedback/ review process, even going so far as to have printed out mandatory questions with blank spaces for the recipients’ answers….  And in doing so they are trying to equip managers with a tool to help them succeed in the conversation (and avoid HR complications). 

People take feedback differently, in terms of their emotional reaction, subsequent motivation, engagement, input, openness, honesty, follow up output and much more. Feedback is not a one size fits all or each performance review and coaching session would be perfect every time. 

Unfortunately, this way of thinking often addresses the dimensions of content and formal process.  There’s another, equally important focus to consider… the ‘how’ – the informal, hidden or tacit process.

Read more…

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Going beyond information exchange: good questioning skills

As far as we are aware, humans are the only creatures that ask questions. This shows a level of self-insight: that we don’t know or understand everything about a situation. Questions take us beyond the obvious.

Generally, questions are seen as ways to elicit or exchange information, but much more importantly questions can,

  • unlock learning
  • fuel creativity and innovation
  • reveal how another person ticks, and
  • build relationships

The use of carefully framed questions is an undervalued tool in organizations and teams. Unfortunately, our education system does not seem to recognise the value of questions or the skills required to construct and use questions. Questioning is a skill to be honed. Our education systems emphasize advocacy at the expense of skilled inquiry.

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Creating psychological safety in teams

I get to work with teams and groups of all shapes and sizes; from dusty mining crews, to cool urbane executive teams and all in between.  You do not need to be with them long to get a sense of how well the members of the team gel. In other words, the level of trust in the group.

Back in 2013, Steve Zuieback wrote an article, Trust: Cause, Effect or Process, building on the work of Jack Gibb. His Trust Cycle shows 6 steps or actions, that if repeated builds trust in teams. These include,

  • Sharing critical information
  • Experiencing openness
  • Experience more trust
  • Commit to common work
  • Learn as you go
  • Create and document results

In addition to these, my colleague Tim Dalmau often talks about “creating safety” in groups. By this he means psychological safety.

Psychological safety means that there is certainty (in terms of behaviors and decisions by those in power) and people feel safe. Read more…

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Breathing 101

Often it is the simple things that make the most difference…and breathing is one of those things.

Breathing is something we do not need to learn – from the moment we are born to the moment we leave this life, it is for most of us, an unconscious part of our lives.

Breathing and communication

In addition to the fundamental purpose of taking air into our lungs and exhaling carbon dioxide from our lungs thereby allowing for oxygenation of our blood to keep us alive and removing the ‘waste’ gases from respiration from our body, breathing is also fundamental to communication.

Breathing allows us to communicate through speech, and allows us to enhance our communication skills and to influence others enormously.

So… there are definitely things about breathing that we can learn, practice and deliberately use to improve our communication skills. Read more…

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Go visual! – the most important tool to improve communication

The guru of non-verbal communication, Michael Grinder says that “go visual” is the most important non-verbal tool you can use to be an effective communicator

Efficient and effective communication of messages and improved ability to influence is vital. Often as communicators if we just give information verbally we need to repeat the message, or the message is not heard or lost. For example, this is especially the case, when medical practitioners communicate with patients. The doctor who shows the patient the result on a computer screen, draws a diagram on a whiteboard, or notes a few words on a scrap of paper will produce much higher comprehension and retention of that information in the patient. The patient whose doctor simply tells or explains the diagnosis will retain at best about 10% of the information. Read more…

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Freeing the organization for change

 

Click here to read more of Steve’s perspective on organizations and people.

 

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The Key to Aligned Action

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Over the past 20 years we have used a model to explain why so much good communication that occurs in corporations with groups of people and other large institutions is ultimately wasted effort.  This is particularly the case when leaders seek to communicate information to a group of employees in the expectation that it will lead to some form of aligned action.
In the past few months it has become clear how much this particular framework resonates with clients. Over the years we have received a number of requests to publish it.
This paper is a response to those requests. Click here to read or download a copy.

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The key – knowing what outcomes you want

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In framing work with an individual, team or meeting it is always critical to know your outcomes first. This is especially important if you are engaged in repetitive social activity with a purpose in which the sheer repetition can, at times, cause you to lose sight of fundamental purpose. Realizing that the majority of work we do in organizations is with, and through, people it is important to recognize that there are three broad types of outcomes: rational, emotional and social.

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Engagement versus Communication

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I sometimes catch myself using these two words interchangeably, and hear them being used by others like this. I feel I am being imprecise and possibly misleading? Is it that one is more ‘flavour of the month’ or is one more impressive? Clarification is needed about the real meaning of these words – even if only in my own mind, so I eliminate sloppiness in my thinking, actually say what I mean, and make clear distinctions for others.

 

Read more…

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When Leadership for Change Works!

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It is not often I sit back in wonder, surprise and with some delight when conducting a meeting for a client. But that is exactly what happened when meeting with about 70 managers and executives of a government corrective services department recently. Yes! A prison’s department!

 

My image of most corrective services agencies is one of organizations that are change averse, where executive leadership has to struggle to achieve engagement and where militant industrial dynamics are the norm.

 

So it was with somewhat limited expectations that I met with this group of 70-odd people recently for a one-day workshop. They were all members of working groups set up in the various corrective services facilities that make up this government agency. And they were gathered for a regular review of what was happening in their agency, where it was going and what challenges it faced in these austere times. Read more…

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