MVP Seminars Blogs

Much attention is given to counter bullying in schools, workplaces and social media. The abuse is not always obvious, however, and many people feel quietly victimized and strategies for workplace injustice don’t give them a voice. Some people call it the “social death penalty”. Recent studies have concluded that the issue is social ostracism and does more damage to people’s mental and physical well-being than bullying. The bottom line for employers? Higher turnover (high rates of turnover lead to higher costs related to recruiting and training new employees), it reduces performance on difficult intellectual tasks, and can also contribute to aggression and poor impulse control, all of which affects the bottom line. As a mental health advocate, my attention is drawn to mental illness stigma  as one of the reasons why someone may be ostracized. I’m concerned, too, with overall mental health because social rejection increases anger, anxiety, depression, jealousy and sadness. On one of my last jobs before retirement word got among fellow employees out that I had bipolar disorder. Several of my co-workers started treating me with a slight smirk and limited or avoided interaction with me. Ignorance, which is the basis for mental illness stigma, conditioned them to ostracize me and, to them, it was socially acceptable. I needed a friend or two on the job. People I liked and who liked me helped me look forward to going to work each day and doing my best instead of overwhelming feelings of paranoia. Ostracism is among the most devastating experiences we can endure whether on the playground or in the workplace. Not only can ostracism damage the brain; it is also more commonly directed at those who have cognitive and psychiatric challenges.  I faced both with multiple sclerosis which affected my short-term memory and bipolar disorder where occasional mood swings became obvious. Professor Sandra Robinson of the University of British Columbia concluded in her study of the issue: “We’ve been taught that ignoring someone is socially preferable — if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all. But ostracism leads people to feel more helpless, like they’re not worthy of any attention at all.” British film director Derek Jarman best summarizes why every workplace should be reminded social exclusion is unacceptable: “Pain can be alleviated by morphine but the pain of social ostracism cannot be taken away.”  

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Relationships are critically important in our lives. On a professional level, being a good team player and getting along well with others enables us to maintain our jobs and receive such perks as bonuses or promotions. Also, connecting with the right people can advance our careers providing we have good interpersonal skills. How people feel about us on the job plays an important role in how successful we are professionally speaking. In our social lives, relationships take on another vital role. Being able to form and sustain healthy bonds with others impacts the number and nature of our friendships, provides opportunities in social settings, allows for ease of living in our neighborhoods, improves our health, and contributes to our overall enjoyment of life. On a personal level, strong intimate connections bond people together in marriage and secure the future of the human population. Intimacy of an emotional nature holds families together during life's most challenging times. It also multiplies our happiness and sustains us through our darkest moments. It allows for a deeper understanding of all parties which foster personal awareness, compassion, and growth.  We are challenged to become better people as a result of knowing others intimately. Humans are social creatures by nature and therefore need a strong skill set in order to develop and maintain mutually satisfying and healthy, balanced, long term partnerships. Getting along well with others lessens the chance of damaging conflict from erupting, eases tensions between both parties, enables the individual to forgive the indiscretions of the other, extends support and compassion to each other, and genuinely enjoys the company of one another. Learning to work or cohabitate in close proximity with others is not an easy task but certainly one that is attainable and definitely rewarding. In recent studies it has been shown that those in healthy relationships are not only the happiest but the healthiest as well. They also have a longer projected life expectancy than those who are loners or who have difficulty interacting successfully with others. For the most part people put forth a sincere effort in trying to get along with others. After all, it's just common sense that the more gratifying our interactions are with others the less stress between us. Healthy friendships are easier on every level and people seek to avoid drama as much as possible. When we truly care about others and the nature of our interactions with them, we treat them in a manner that benefits all parties. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." This philosophy has served mankind well for centuries. Yet even with our best efforts we still find ourselves arguing, fighting, hurting one another, and becoming frustrated, disappointed, and disillusioned to the point where relationships suffer or fail. Many people are clueless as to what went wrong. Instead, of taking ownership for their role, they find fault with the other person: "You're never satisfied with anything I do for you! I was a good husband/wife - there was no reason to leave me." "I put my heart and soul into my job. How could they possibly fire me? This is so wrong!" It's difficult for individuals to fully comprehend their role in why a relationships didn't work. We praise ourselves for everything we do right, for all of the effort we put forth, and for everything we overlooked in the other person. We're also quick to criticize the other person for their imperfections and the mistakes they made. And in doing so, we remain oblivious. Relationships are like mirrors: they reflect back to us aspects of who we are that we may not be aware of. If I want to look my best, I cannot see precisely what I look like without the assistance of a full length mirror to reflect back to me my own image. If I want to be the absolute best person I can be, I need others to point out to me what they see that I may be blind to. Yet when others comment on what they view as an imperfection, we fail to listen objectively to their comments. I do not deny the physical image the mirror reflects back to me. On the contrary: I am grateful that if I see something I do not like, I have the opportunity to correct it. Yet if someone points out a perceived flaw or defect, rather than appreciate their input, I become defensive and lash out at them. In essence, I deny myself the opportunity to learn something that may enable me to become a better person. If you want to have strong, healthy, loving, joyful, respectful relationships you must be courageous enough to ask the following question. (And no, it's not "What don't you like about me?") The question is: "Tell me what it's like being with me?" This question is not for the faint-of-heart and if you are not fully prepared to consider the response, do not venture down this road. The difference between the two questions I posed is that question number ("What don't you like about me?") opens one up to criticism, a perceived attack from the commentator on what they believe to be the shortcomings and liabilities of the listener. Few people are willing to hear such comments and may respond by attacking the integrity of the other party stating that they should be looking at their own faults rather than commenting on someone else's. The second question, ("Tell me what it's like being with me?" ), focuses on the individual's personal experience of being in your presence. Think of it from this perspective: imagine they are relaying their experience of being in the rain. They are not criticizing the precipitation itself but instead are speaking objectively about their first hand encounter of getting wet. Likewise with communicating their feelings about being with you, the inquiring party: since the focus is not on you, there is no need to become defensive and retaliate. You can simply listen to a recount of that person's feelings about their encounter with you. Though not necessarily easy to listen to, it can be one of the most insightful opportunities of your life. "When we're together, I feel uncomfortable, as though I need to monitor everything I say." Or it can be positive: "When I'm with you, it's like being with an old friend - very easy." Keep in mind: this is not a question for the fearful or insecure. One must be willing to listen quietly, open-mindedly, and without interruption to a complete recount of what the other person encounters when in your company. In doing so, you are able to see yourself through their eyes and gain some deep personal insights into the manner in which you portray yourself. The way we perceive ourselves is rarely the same as others do. Most of us live in denial about the way we behave or are eager to make lame excuses for our actions that we would not afford others. This exercise is critical in determining whether or not we fully know ourselves and are portraying ourselves accurately (i.e. we are living authentically, do our actions perfectly reflect our intrinsic nature?). Additionally, we will discover what works well and what doesn't with the other person. I may have a very strong energy that for the majority of people does not present a problem. But for my best friend I may project myself as aggressive or angry. Knowing this allows me to adjust the way I interact with her in a way that she can better relate to and feels more comfortable with. Doing so naturally improves the quality of the relationship. If I want to look my best then I need a full length mirror to reflect back to me what I cannot see on my own. If I want to be my best, then I need the assistance of others who also mirror back to me what they see that is troublesome so that I may remove it from my persona or improve upon it. Only in doing so can I become the best version of myself possible. I owe that to myself, to others, and to the One who created me. So take the plunge: inquire of others "Tell me what it's like being with me?" Then sit back, close your mouth, open your ears, and listen with the intend to understand and evolve. What others think of you really does matter. In each of our relationships, let the well-being of the other person be our primary concern. Always be certain that their lives have been enriched for having spent time in our presence. Order  The Secret Side of Anger, Second Edition or The Great Truth @ http://www.pfeifferpowerseminars.com/pps1-products.html   Listen to past shows on iHeart Radio @ http://ow.ly/OADTf Listen to my newest iHeart Radio show, BETWEEN YOU AND GOD, @ http://ow.ly/OADJK Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest, Google+ *https://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2015/09/16/the-science-behind-ptsd-symptoms-how-trauma-changes-the-brain/
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I attended a business meeting today for which I was the facilitator and observed one individual I’ll call Michael, exhibit poor leadership skills. He had a lot to say about everything discussed and was a poor listener to other attendees who asked clarifying questions or had contrary viewpoints. Twice in the meeting he mentioned that he had been rebuffed by the group and did not care whether his views were shared by all members of the group. Quietly the chair and a few others began to try to summarize Michael’s concerns into coherent statements. This was difficult to do because his statements were somewhat inconsistent and he rambled on about a myriad of issues. He attacked some people personally who did not agree with his ideas. To advance the discussion and to end the discomfort someone made the motion for a change which captured some of the issues Michael wanted. The vote carried unanimously. While Michael believed his actions displayed leadership because he vocal and willing to risk unpopularity, others saw his behavior differently. Many viewed his comments to group members as disrespectful and because of that they were closed to the ideas he tried to share. It was not what he was saying, but how he was saying it. Outside of the meeting people commented about how important it is to be coherent in communicating and to show respect for others. In prolonged conversations attendees stated that leadership is about effective communication, demonstrating caring for others of the groups to which you belong. Most importantly, one must listen to be thought of as a leader by others. Effective leaders listen with the right approach and respond appropriately to the person who is talking. They are able to express themselves clearly and professionally. They listen for understanding. When there is a match in the communication, successful interactions are the result and conflict is minimized. Asking questions and paraphrasing what is heard ensures two-way communications. Lastly, respectful dialogue creates a supportive environment for the thoughtful expression of differing viewpoints and the exchange of ideas. As shown in this real life example, forcing individual perspectives, verbal attacks and poor listening, can lead to hasty decisions in organizations simply to “ease the pain”. Have you ever found yourself behaving like Michael? If so, people may have commented about you, too, after the fact beyond your earshot. To be an effective leader: Express your ideas in a positive way Talk less, listen more Handle objections to your ideas professionally, not personally
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My colleagues and I are often brought into corporations to do teambuilding. Whether the audience is executive management or employees that work on the manufacturing line, the purpose for hiring my organization is to help teams strategize how to be more cohesive and productive. Early in my career it was theory, structure and small group exercises that illustrated effective teambuilding, but that has all changed. Talk is out the window: taste, touch, feel and experience are in.

I recently read an article in a popular business magazine that suggested video games and online gaming are responsible for the change in what organizations are looking for to help increase teambuilding. I have also heard that Millennials are more action-oriented and need to experience business strategy rather than read or talk about it. Regardless of the origin of change, training in teambuilding is now an out-of-your-seat, participatory experience that reveals vulnerabilities, leadership styles, communication and problem-solving skills, and a myriad of other strengths and deficiencies of all parties involved. The learning is in real time with adequate time built in for feedback, reflection and application in the workplace.

In response to the need for a new delivery style, the training industry has responded with training approaches that can be divided into three categories: simulation, real escape and theme adventure. Simulation exercises have a written adventure scenario, background information, maps, and usually a pressure-sensitive scoring form. There is a group task, individual task and a problem to solve. The timed activity is done on-site and concludes with reflection on how effective the team was, how they could improve team performance, what insights they gained about each other individually and as a team, and how they could transfer the experience to their daily work.

Real escape teambuilding has its roots in gaming, and some give credit to real escape games that began in Japan in 2007. There are many variations of real escape teambuilding, but basically it requires that groups be put into an off-site room specifically designed for the task of finding a way out. The group has to work together using clues within the room to gain their freedom. It is a timed escape at a minimum of an hour. Participants apply communication skills, critical thinking, problem solving, and leadership skills to escape. Companies such as FedEx, Frito Lay and 7Eleven have used real escape teambuilding with their employees.

My favorite theme adventure is from a company called Recipe for Success. All of their teambuilding exercises revolve around preparing food. Their exercises are held off site and run for a minimum of two hours. Themes such as Team Breakfast, Chili Cook-Off, and Ultimate Pizza Challenge can be adapted for groups of 10 to 250.The benefits include building skills in negotiation, prioritization, communication, innovation and problem solving. When the task is complete, the team has an enhanced sense of teamwork because they have completed a project that they can see, touch and eat. It is important to note that the skill sets used in theme adventure teambuilding exercises, such as Recipe for Success, are immediate and transferable.

Whatever method your organization uses to promote teambuilding, the desired result is better communication, a more cohesive unit and increased productivity. Talking about teambuilding no longer produces the desired results in today’s interactive market. The employee of today needs to experience in order to learn.

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Several years ago, I was facilitating a talent review meeting with a room full of executives.  

After hours of great dialogue, we all settled on where their people fit on the 9 box talent grid.  

The leaders were engaged in the process and were excited to be able to make more informed talent decisions to match the organization’s strategies.

And then came the moment of truth:  

What do we say to those being reviewed?
  • Do we tell them which talent box they were placed in?
  • Do we tell them which position we pictured them filling, in 1-3 years?
  • Do we leave it up to each manager to decide?
  • Or, do we not say anything to them at all?

After much dialogue, the eventual decision was to tell everyone how much the organization valued them… and that was it!  

This approach worked well for the leaders in the room, but it was not very helpful, or engaging, for the people being reviewed.

So what is the best approach in having talent conversations? 

Each organization chooses to answer this question differently. Yet there are best practices that, when followed, can build the credibility and effectiveness of the talent process. They can help you inspire and motivate and also increase the engagement and commitment of the employees being reviewed.  

This will require courage of you as the leader, but it can pay off massively for your talent, team, and organization.

Below are the three talent conversations that you must have to help inspire, engage, and retain great talent.

We've also included a complimentary printable Leadership Conversation Guide at the end for your convenience. 

What’s the key message for me to convey?

“We want to invest in you and your growth.”

Who should I have this conversation with?

This is the conversation with highly talented individuals who deliver beyond expectations and have great potential.  They want to be challenged and expect greater expectations to come to them.  

How can I best convey this message?

Your discussion points could include:

  • You have a long runway and you add tremendous benefit to the organization.
  • We like what we see and we want to see more in the future.
  • We as a company want to provide opportunities, resources, and support to develop and hone your leadership ability.
  • I want to meet with you regularly, identify and discuss your career goals, and work through a personal individual action plan.
  • Senior leaders will be cheering you on and paying attention to your current and future successes.

A Word of Caution:  The caution with this conversation is not to promise, directly or indirectly, any specific position.  Do not mention specific titles for future jobs. This will create expectations that are beyond anyone’s ability to keep.

What’s the key message for me to convey?

“You are a valuable and solid contributor!”

Who should I have this conversation with?

This is for the steady performers, those with longer tenure, and/or those with great knowledge of the organization’s history and practices.  They are often the glue that holds teams together during the ups and downs.  They know their position and specific function well.  They are subject matter experts and can have strong relationships with others throughout the organization.   

How can I best convey this message?

Your discussion points could include:

  • You are greatly appreciated for all of your contributions.
  • You are a strong performer.
  • You provide great stability for the department and team.
  • You have strong expertise in your field and the organization recognizes and values your knowledge and abilities.
  • I want to make sure you feel supported and engaged.
  • You are in the right place to optimize your value to the team and organization.
  • I want to help you feel challenged within your current position.

A Word of Caution: Do not lead them to think they are getting ready for a promotion. Clarify with them that they will be able to add value in their current or similar position for the near future. Questions about future positions can be addressed case by case.

What’s the key message for me to convey?

“Your performance needs to be better.”

Who should I have this conversation with?

This is for the underperforming individuals who are not delivering what the organization needs.  They are not consistently hitting the expected bar for quality, cost, or timeliness. 

The conversation does not address potential; it is all about performance.

How can I best convey this message?

Your discussion points could include:

  • I want to help you be successful.
  • Your performance is not where it needs to be.
  • We will focus on the short-term, the next 1-6 months.
  • Let’s inventory your skills, strengths, and motivation to make sure it is a good match for the position.
  • Let’s write down very clear expectations and set very specific and measurable performance goals.
  • We can identify logical check-in points to assess improvement.

A Word of Caution:  Avoiding this kind of conversation can negatively impact the high performers because poor performance can pull down others’ engagement and their confidence in leadership.

Final Note:

Employees who have been in the organization or in their position for less than 6 months are typically too new to be put into any of these conversations.  After 6 months, you will have a much better idea which of the three conversations you need to have with them.

The best thing for you to focus on with new employees is to ensure that they have the resources, expectation clarity, and leadership support to achieve quick wins.  

 

Our Gift to You

We've created a complimentary Leadership Talent Conversation Guide for you to download and use, absolutely free!

Click here now to download the guide now.

 

 

About Stewart Leadership

Stewart Leadership is a talent management and leadership development consulting, coaching, and training company building leaders in start-ups to the Fortune 500.Click here to contact us and discover how we could partner with you.

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Every organization has customers or guests; every organization has both internal and external guests too.  Actually you may have many levels of guests both internal and external.  I believe that every person you come into contact with is actually your guest. 

Quite a few years ago, Hal Rosenbluth wrote a book titled, “The Customer comes second.”   Hal maintained that by putting your team members first you would raise the level of experience for your end customer.  He was emphatically correct. 

This seems to be a very hard pill to swallow sometimes, we have an extremely hard time realizing the value of the internal guest has to come first if we what our external guest or customer to be truly given a World Class Experience. 

We want our guests to realize that they made the correct choice when they decided to do business with us.  We want them to come back and choose to spend a larger part of their budget for our services than they did before.  We also want them to become evangelists for our business and spread the word about us to their friends and family. 

Isn’t this exactly what we want from our team members?   

Let’s start thinking of our team members as guests in our business.  Let’s help them remember that they made the best choice of their life when they elected to come to work with us.  Let’s help them become evangelists for our business, telling everyone they know that this is the best place to work at in the world. 

Ultimately we want the same thing from our internal and external guests…shared ownership.  We want to overhear them saying to a family member or friend, “you should come to my place, it’s the greatest. “ 

Test your mind and see what great ideas you can come up with to treat both your internal and external guest as if they were the only guest, see what happens. 

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Bridging the values gap in an organization supports thriving not merely surviving! When the company's core values support employees to be happy and productive, then the environment is the backbone for less health problems and less aggression  while productivity is higher.  Dr. Martin Seligman (US Zeitgeist 2010) challenged corporate leaders to expand the definition of bottom line to include "achievement, accomplishment and flourishing". Values are intangible and subtle, yet give us important messages.  Frustration, for instance, may be a values indicator indicating when there is a non alignment challenge.  It's often a red flag calling for looking inward, shifting  awareness and action leading to empowered choices and increased happiness.
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BLACK BELT LEADERSHIP

Black Belt Leader As Peacemaker

“Peace is a gift, It is a gift we give to ourselves, And then to each other.”

– Richard Goode

I was a young boy once. I had a friend whose family had a Christmas tree, and they weren’t very religious. In fact, they were atheists. Though I didn’t ask my friend about this at the time, I wish I had. Because I’ve always wondered why his family celebrated Christmas; it didn’t make sense to me. But now living here in Tokyo I think I’ve found the answer, and it came the other day while talking with a Japanese woman.

  

I asked, “Why do the Japanese have Christmas trees in their houses? Why do they have Christmas parties and exchange gifts when they aren’t Christians?”

“Because,” she answered, “it’s very peaceful.”

Tokyo 1985

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Recently my wife and I took a cruise to celebrate our wedding anniversary.  While in Cozumel, I stood on the aft deck waiting for clearance to go ashore.  As I waited I saw a submarine crossing the harbor.  After several minutes I noticed a tugboat several hundred feet in front of the submersible ship.  A minute or so later I looked again and it seemed the submarine was following the exact line of travel as the tugboat.  After another minute or so, I looked a third time and noticed the distance between the two vessels seemed not to have changed.  So, as I looked closer, I detected a small cable from the rear of the tugboat and it was attached to the front of the sub.  No wonder the sub was not gaining distance on the tug; the tugboat was towing the submarine! So what do a tugboat and a submarine have to do with leadership?  The answer is that sometimes you might be surprised at who is needed to do the leading.  We all have pre-formed ideas about who or what a leader should do and how it should be done.  We have pre-formed ideas about how a leader should look, speak and dress.  But the bottom line is that the leader must be able to get the job done; no matter what the job may be. Sometimes leadership takes the form of a submarine.  Other times it takes the form and power of a tugboat.  When identifying and developing potential leaders in your organization, don't look only for submarines.  Do not erase from your "potential leaders" list those who appear to be tugboats.  You just might be surprised as to who is able to do the leading!
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For 100 years, improvement work has focused mostly on processes (since the time that process improvement started in the early years of Ford Motor Company). This focus has ignored the barriers to change. These barriers come the management system - from management processes and management team interaction and are like the lid on a jar, but are invisible. The lid on a jar keeps the content of the jar inside the jar and prevents things on the outside from getting in. Barriers that make up the lid hide potential, prevent new ideas from coming in and keep old ideas and practices inside the jar alive. These invisible barriers also cause companies to not achieve their goals for change and go looking for another initiative... hence the "flavor of the month club". Because "the lid" originates in the management system and outside the scope of initiatives or traditional improvement focus), process improvement has ignored or failed to recognize its existence or impact on the change process, which has handicapped every company in its ability to change and achieve optimization. Instead, we are taught to accept "the lid" as part of the change process that we have to work around OR we are unaware of barriers that work behind the scenes to sabotage what we are trying to change. If we understand the lid, we can take off the lid with a new set of beliefs and behaviors that are "chosen" to achieve optimization. We can also make changes within management processes that reveal and release hidden potential for production and cost reduction. 3rd Stage Management is a management-focused process for optimization. It helps management teams understand and remove "the lid", which makes it very different from process improvement work. Interestingly, when you remove the lid, it is possible to simultaneously change performance, culture, and management team effectiveness because the same barriers are responsible for deficiencies in all three areas. Some say that management commitment is the key to change. The problem is that management teams can be fully committed to change in the traditional way, which will not remove "the lid".  It is important for them to realize that "different choices" must be made to achieve optimization - both in the way they design and execute management processes (such as setting targets in the budget, expansion approvals, job descriptions, communications with key measures, etc.) and in the way they interact to solve problems, manage projects, and build trust within the team and with the workforce. If they understand that achieving site-wide optimization depends more on their choices than it does on equipment, they have a powerful platform to operate from.  
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