Odds are that the people on your team have very different ideas and opinions of various topics. If so, celebrate it! This is a key to having a high performing team. When everyone thinks exactly the same way there are no new ideas and innovation fades away. The challenge is to find ways to keep the conflict of opinions from becoming negative or destructive.
Here are five strategies to help you celebrate the differences:
- Be Open. Keep an open mind and listen to their point of view.
- Show Respect. Remember that they have a right to their opinion as do you. Respect each other.
- Value Them. Tell them that you value their ideas and opinions, particularly when you disagree.
- Seek Commonality. Look for areas of agreement, even in the midst of differences. They will exist.
- Be Thankful. Thank teammates who are willing to disagree and look for new ideas or options.
If you follow these five strategies you are showing those around you that you value them as individuals with individual ideas and opinions. Giving them the freedom to express opposing thoughts will open doors to higher levels of creativity, trust and performance in any team. As well, if you are the team leader or boss your creditability increases because you include the team in the process. People will be more likely to admire and support you if you include them and their ideas.
Recently I had a conversation with someone whose thoughts were basically the exact opposite of mine. I’m comfortable with my take on the situation and he is highly committed to his position. In reality the topic does not affect our ability to collaborate, but if we couldn’t reach some level of understanding it would be out there as a possible sore spot. We both shared our thoughts and why we felt that way. At the end I told him that I admired his commitment to his position.
Be willing to listen to other’s ideas and opinions with an open mind. Take in their thoughts and then share your position without judging theirs. Keep it to facts and your feelings or opinions. This allows room for their position to be heard. Once the information is out there you can look for ways to reach some form of agreement so you can move forward. It maybe you agree to adopt their position, they agree to adopt yours, you find a new option that works for both, or you agree to disagree. All of these are viable solutions and keep the lines of communication open. As well you are celebrating the differing experiences, ideas and opinions within the team.
How do you celebrate different ideas with your team?
I’ve listed some of the articles that I’ve found interesting over the past month. I hope you enjoy them and find some new and useful information in them.
Let me know what you’ve read that has inspired you to reach new levels of leadership or productivity. Have a fantastic week!
Here are a few of the things that I’ve read recently that have caused me to sit back and think about things in a new light. Hope you enjoy them.
- I loved this video of Paul Castain’s that Tim Mushey shared on Sell, Lead, Succeed! How true, if companies can make millions on selling water what can you bring to the table? Paul Castain Says Screw the Water Go Brand Yourself.
- Here is an interesting look at the tough side of leadership by Miles Anthony Smith on Great Leadership. It really got me thinking about how often these things are overlooked in leadership training. The 5 Perils of Leadership.
- This is a great reminder of the power of the words we use when we talk to our team. Make sure that the words you use bring out the best in everyone and help them reach their potential. They will be eternally grateful to you for believing in them. From Mike Rogers at Teamwork and Leadership. Do You Make this Mistake with Those You Lead?
- In this article Elizabeth Grace Saunders, on HBR Blog, points out the negatives associated with putting other people first. Learning when and how to say no is one of the biggest steps for career success. Stop Being a People-Pleaser
- Do you value brains or results? Often managers and companies hire the smartest people and yet this is not a guarantee of success. In this article on Fast Company by Andrew Razeghi he demonstrates that innovation is being able to act on creative ideas; which can be more important than generating the ideas. As well, he uses Edison vs. Tesla to demonstrate the impact of social skills on success. Do You Hire for IQ or Klout Score?
- When was the last time you took inventory of your management skills? In this article Tina Del Buono on PPM Blog provides a great road map to examining your skills. Examine Your Management Skills
What reading have you done that inspired you?
Tom Wujec Build a Tower
Above is a video from TED Talks where Tom Wujec talks about how you can see the impact of collaboration on teams. He explains the types of teams that are most effective and the teams that are least effective. The teams are assigned the task of building a tower in 18 minutes. The results of types of teams is quite enlightening.
The key to making it work is the willingness to collaborate, test ideas, and then adjust and refine based on the outcomes. Spending all your time planning to get it perfect is less effective then deciding to act and making changes as you go.
Hope you enjoy the video!
There is an Aesop Fable that illustrates the impact of trying to please everyone (see below). When you are leading change in your organization it can be tempting to make sure everyone is happy and on board with the change. Realize that is not going to happen, so stop and focus your efforts where you will get the most benefit.
People will fall into three groups when it comes to change:
- All for it from the start
- On the fence
- Against it no matter what
There are always a group of people who will agree to change quickly and easily. These are the folks that will help you get rolling. Be sure to keep them engaged and reward them for their support. They will require little effort to gain buy-in.
Then there is a group of people who will not agree to change. These are the nay-sayers in the organization. Once the change is in place and proven successful they may come around, but rarely before then. Often these folks will opt out of the change and leave the organization during the process. It’s tempting to spend time convincing them to get on board. However, this is a waste of your time. Keep them informed of what is happening and how it will impact them. Hold them accountable for the new processes/ procedures that affect them. You can’t shut them out but you can’t win them over either.
The group on the fence is by far the biggest percentage of the organization. They will be open to the new ideas; they just want to see if it will work and will last. They may be on the fence because there has been too many change initiatives that are “flavor of the month” activities with no staying power. Why commit to something that will be different next month. This is the group you need to concentrate on getting of the fence and on your side. Since they can be almost 50% of the organization then they have a huge impact on the long-term success of the change you are making.
So what to do? Here are basic change management steps that will help you get through to the fence sitters.
- Have a clear vision. Be able to articulate a clear picture of the new world and why it matters.
- Communicate often, and then even more. Communicating the purpose of the change, the impact on people, the progress being made and any successes is critical. When you think you have said everything to everyone, start over again.
- Get people involved. Obviously if half of the organization is sitting on the fence then you will need to have some of them helping implement the change. Bring them in and make sure they feel valued as team members.
- Listen to concerns. You must find out what concerns people about the change. You may have answers for some of the concerns, you may not. Listening will give people the chance to be heard. Also, you may identify obstacles that were unknown to you previously.
- Get feedback. Part of the listening process needs to be a structured method to get feedback on how things are going, what impact the change is having on people and how it can be improved. Again, ideas may surface from the sidelines that will improve the situation and help diffuse problems.
- Celebrate quick wins. Early on find areas of the project that can provide quick wins. Celebrate these publically and recognize the efforts of those involved. This will make it attractive to people to get involved.
Overall, remember that any change will trigger emotional reactions within the organization. This will mean as the leader you must address those issues to ensure success. The six steps above will help you do that and get the fence sitters on your side.
The miller, his son and the ass (Aesop Fable):
A miller and his son were taking their ass to sell at market, when they passed a group of girls, who laughed at how foolish the miller was to have an ass and yet be walking. So the miller put his son on the ass. Further down the road they passed some old people who scolded the miller for allowing his young son to ride, when he should be riding himself. So the miller removed his son and mounted the ass himself. Further along the road, they passed some travellers who said that if he wanted to sell the ass the two of them should carry him or he’d be exhausted and worthless. So the miller and his son bound the ass’s legs to a pole and carried him. When they approached the town the people laughed at the sight of them, so loud that the noise frightened the ass, who kicked out and fell off a bridge into the river and drowned. The embarrassed miller and son went home with nothing, save the lesson that you will achieve nothing by trying to please everyone.
The key is in not spending time, but in investing it.
Stephen R. Covey
It’s the end of the month; do you know where you are in respect to your goals? Many of us set New Year’s resolutions back in January and they fade away as time and life goes on, does this mean they are any less important now that the year is more than half over? We set goals on what we want to accomplish in our jobs, projects have expected benefits (goals under another name) and we have hopes for where our careers will go over time. How often do we stop and review where we are on these paths?
The time management literature tells us we should review our tasks and projects regularly, be it daily or weekly. This is very true and is important to keeping you focused on doing the things that need to be done and making sure your actions are aligned with your priorities. There is a bigger piece to this which is to stop and reflect on the priorities. If you have the goal of moving up to the next level on your organizations ladder, you need to be doing the right things to get you exposure and experience that will prepare you for that role. This is a focus on things that are down the road a ways and yet if you are not taking the right steps now you will never get there.
Another reason for doing this kind of goal checks is to see if the path you have started down is still the right one for you. New possibilities can pull you into new directions and without focusing on what it means to you can lead to missed opportunities. It’s possible that you had envisioned moving into Position A in a year or two, but you’ve just become aware of another area in your organization that has captured your attention. This was unknown to you previously and you find yourself drawn to it. Reflecting on what is drawing you to that area and what made you want to reach Position A will help you decide which path you should take.
As you get in the habit of checking your task list and project lists each day and week create the habit of checking on your goals regularly. For some this may be weekly and for others it may be monthly, just do it frequently enough that you are moving in the right direction. View these checks as the opportunity to do course corrections as you move forward in your life. Accomplishing a lot of things that don’t get you to where you want to be is frustrating and discouraging, while getting closer to your goals is energizing and makes you want to get out of bed and tackle each day.
How do you make sure you are progressing towards your goals, particularly the longer range ones? Please share your best tips.
Recently I’ve been reminded of how hard it is to be productive when you are in a toxic environment. When the office seems like a war zone, or you know your boss will down play your accomplishments it is extremely hard to focus on doing your job done properly. Hating where you work or who you work with on a daily basis will lower your engagement which directly impacts your job performance.
To combat this you have several options, you can see what you can do to change the environment that you are in or you can leave that job. The reality of this market is that you may have to stay in the position until you can find something better. If you find yourself in that position you must do the best you can in spite of the toxic environment around you. Keeping your skills top notch will aid you when it’s time to move on, either within your current organization or to a new opportunity. In the world of behavioral based interviewing being able to demonstrate how you succeeded in difficult circumstances can help set you apart from your competition.
So how do you stay on top of your game when the cards are stacked against you?
- Focus on your job. Seems obvious but it is really critical to stay on top of the things that you are assigned to do. Getting caught up in all the ugliness around you will pull your energy away from the tasks at hand.
- Take the high road. When people around you attempt to bring you down by back stabbing or other ugly tricks to put you down while bringing themselves up, take the high road. Doing the same things back creates a vicious cycle that will taint your actions.
- Identify your work. If others are taking credit for your work to get ahead at your expense then make sure you tag your documents so you can show it as yours. It may be done in the file name; it could be by adding footer with name and date. Keep copies if possible or if it will help prove your capabilities.
- Keep the goal in sight. The reason why you are doing your very best is to get to a better place as soon as you can. Remind yourself of this on a regular basis. People respect others who do their best even in adverse conditions. Staying on top your responsibilities will show that you are dedicated to getting things done properly. This will work for you when the time comes.
- Look for the positives. When things are at their worst look for the things that are good in your position. Maybe you really like some of your coworkers, maybe you can help ease others, maybe you get to do work you love doing. Whatever it is that you find positive will make it easier to do things well.
I know from personal experience how hard it is to care about the work you are doing when you have become disillusioned with the company. Knowing that I did the best I could made it easier for me to sell my experience when I was moving on to the next position.
Frank Sinatra said “The best revenge is massive success.” Make this your motto and it will be easier to succeed in spite of the toxicity.
What you done to survive in a toxic environment?
We’ve all seen the person who agrees with the boss, no matter what’s going on. We roll our eyes and silently (or openly) mock their behavior. Given that we see through this behavior why do they still opo up in every organization? There are bosses who love the unconditional support for all their ideas. However, the great bosses of the world know these folks are poison to the team.
These Yes Men are poison for the following reasons:
- False Security. The positive support leads the boss to believing their ideas are wonderful and without flaws. This may be totally wrong and blinds people to potential risks.
- Stifles Innovation. If the boss buys into the Yes Man’s support then they may stop looking for new ideas from the team. Too much of this and the innovation of the team will dry up.
- Favoritism. When the boss keeps hearing what he wants to hear from the Yes Man he may gravitate that direction. This can leave other team members out in the cold.
If you find someone like this on your team you need to nip the behavior in the bud. It’s highly likely somewhere in their past they were rewarded for this behavior so they will naturally go there again. Here are a few tips for handling this behavior:
- Ask for Ideas. Instead of accepting the Yes Man’s support, ask everyone on the team to come up with one idea for improvement. Hold them accountable. Push for outside the box thinking.
- Promote Others’ Ideas. Instead of putting your ideas out there as best, let the team provide the idea for what should be done. Using ideas generated from the team will stir creativity and engagement.
- Use Collaborative Decision Making. Take the time to get input and ideas from all the involved people. Get ideas out on the table and seek collaboration from the team.
- Analyze Risk Rigorously. When evaluating all decisions; establish procedures for analyzing the risks associated with the decision. By always looking at what can go wrong with an idea the team will generate better solutions.
By being proactive in getting the entire team involved in finding the best solutions and analyzing the risks, the Yes Man has no real place on the team and they either move on or change their ways. In any case, you have a team that will seek innovation and strive for new ways of doing things. This is a winning team.
photo from iStockPhoto.com
Several years ago I was at another factory within the company for a meeting. As I walked down a hall on a break I saw their factory manager coming towards me. I had known him somewhat propbably five years earlier. He called me by name and asked if I remembered him. Needless to say I was stunned that he recalled me and that he took the time to stop and say hi to me. My opinion of his leadership went way up.
At times the world is a very small place and you may cross paths with people from your past. When this happens do you cringe because you left things a little raw or are you excited to reconnect with friends you haven’t seen in a while? Hopefully, you are in the second group. However, there are times when you have to face people you never thought to see again. Here are some tips for what to do when your past comes back to meet you.
- Embrace the opportunity to see people you once knew and worked with on a daily basis. You’ve moved on to a better place and you can reflect on the things that got you to where you are today.
- Smile! If you appear to be happy to see folks again they will see it and it will help them be happy to see you again.
- Be interested in what’s new with them. People want to know they matter to others so make them matter.
- Stay away from gloating about the great things that have happened since you moved on. The people you are with may not have had the same good luck.
The best way to make it easier to revisit people from the past in new situations is to leave under the best possible conditions. Keep from burning bridges by leaving gracefully. This can be done by doing a few simple things.
- Focus on the future opportunities. When asked about why you are leaving you need to focus on the new opportunities that await you.
- Avoid bad mouthing. If you may cross paths with the people you currently work with then you should not say negative things about the people or the company you are leaving. You never know when the words you say will come back to you.
- Be courteous to everyone. Whether you are leaving for a better opportunity or to pursue a dream be nice as you depart. Treat people the way you want to be treated if you were being left behind.
- Finish what you can. Complete everything you can to leave a clean slate for however will get to cover your responsibilities when you leave.
If you leave well then you really can come home again. You can never predict when you may cross paths with your past, so make the effort to leave positive impression on those you leave behind.
If you left under circumstances beyond your control, then when you meet again, be positive and kind. Even when the way you were treated badly, it is so nice to know you can be better to them than they were to you. Let any discomfort be due to their actions not yours. Taking the high road will lead you to the next better place.
Going back to places and people you’ve known in the past can be fun and enjoyable when you decide to make it a positive experience. If you do it well people will think even more highly of you now that you are gone, because you have class.