You're Doing Conflict Wrong

(Like this content about workplace conflict, but want to hear about it instead of reading about it? Here’s the companion podcast episode.)

If you’ve got two people who interact, sooner or later, they’re going to come into conflict. It’s a fact of human relationships.

This article is about transforming conflict and using it to your advantage. If conflict seems like something to avoid… If it seems like something you can win… Then, you’re doing it wrong.

When people come to workplace conflict hoping and striving to win, then it’s only conflict itself that wins. (Did that sound cheesy?)

What’s wrong?

Some people are conflict avoidant. Some people are conflict seeking. Whatever our conflict tendency, the vast majority of us are doing it wrong the majority of the time.

When we find ourselves in a disagreement, many of us do one of two things.

  1. Some of us widen our eyes, straighten up, and start arguing our case to win the argument. I call this the Stand and Fight.
  2. Others of us lower our eyes, shrug our shoulders, walk away, and resign ourselves to the certain outcome that things won’t go our way. I call this the Slump and Slink.

Most of us do each of these things at different times and in different circumstances. Avoiders sometimes go on the attack, and fighters sometimes flee.

It doesn’t mean we’re bad people — the fact the we do conflict wrong. It makes sense we’d respond this way. Our brains are wired by ages of evolution to preserve our lives. Being a jerk at work is a survival reflex. You’ve heard of “fight or flight.” Here it is. Argue = fight. Resign yourself = flight.

Your more primitive brain regions see disagreement with a colleague, anticipate conflict, and categorize that conflict as a threat to life and limb. Rationally, you know that threat isn’t real. Rational mind, though, has been nearly shut off. Primitive brain regions have coopted the rational mind.

What’s it cost to get workplace conflict wrong?

If it’s my brain acting on instinct, my response to conflict is nature. Why fight “fight or flight?” Why not let nature do its thing?

Well, combat and hiding both have costs.

  1. Combat deteriorates relationships in ways we’re all aware of. Combative posturing leads to mistrust and resentment. So does hiding — in more subtle ways. We pick up on the subtle signals when people disagree but acquiesce anyway. We see them hiding their disapproval like a kid in class who thinks they’re adeptly passing notes unnoticed. It feels manipulative. We’re uncertain where we stand, and so the relationship is full of uncertainty and discomfort. Without candor, there’s no trust.
  2. Even though the points of disagreement loom large, there’s usually more common ground than there is difference. When we enter combat mode, that common ground gets lost. Team cohesion suffers, and adversarial stances prevent good information from being heard. The points of disagreement are almost always relatively small. In the scheme of things, the common ground you share outweighs the difference 100 fold. It’s the difference that gets all the attention, and the context of affinity gets lost.
  3. When we avoid workplace conflict, valid concerns that could benefit the relationship and the organization don’t get the attention they deserve. Disasters (large or small) may result from the lack of information sharing. Same thing when you voice your concerns at the top of your lungs. You’re telling everyone why you disagree. And you may have very important points. If you’re on the offensive, however, instead of calmly sharing your concerns, people get defensive in response. They stop listening. You may be right, but by behaving aggressively, you insure that you’re not heard.
  4. People say quietly to themselves, “I knew it. Saw that coming.” People feel distanced from each other, and judge others as unwise, and pushy. “If only they’d asked me, I could have told them.” Team cohesion suffers. Resentment builds in all directions. 

So, if our primitive brains lead us to this kind of behavior, what can we do about it?

Slow Down

Your primitive brain, and the fight or flight response is powerful, but it’s not the only game in town. You can teach yourself to override it.

1.  Breathe: Try something called box breathing. Practice it anytime you feel a bit anxious or angry.

  • Breathe in for a count of four.
  • Hold your breath for four.
  • Breathe out on a count of four.
  • Hold for four.
  • Breathe in for four.
  • Repeat.

This may not be practical during an argument, but it’s great before initiating a conversation that you anticipate may be stressful. And, even during the interaction, bringing your attention to your breath, and doing this box breathing as much as possible is a powerful fight or flight defuser. Just ask a Navy Seal. This is a technique they use in actual battle.

2.  Look for common ground. Whether your impulse is to fight or to hide from the conflict at hand, you’re focused on the differences between you. And either way, your brain is racing. It’s going a mile a minute. Your primitive brain has given your rational mind an assignment, “Identify all threats and all weapons to counter those threats and all means of hiding from those threats.” Your rational mind is good at that, but it’s now using that talent for assessment in an irrational fashion. It’s operating from the conclusion, and finding support. That’s backwards. Here’s an opportunity to practice the principle derived from the system of improvisation — YES, AND. Prompt yourself with phrases like:

  • “Here’s what I like about this…”
  • “I think we agree on X, Y, and Z.”
  • “I can see we’re not on the same page about some stuff. Before we get into that, let’s work together for a moment to find all the areas of common ground.”

3.  Puzzle it. Now that you’re calm, and standing on a wide swath of common ground, you and your collaborator can look at your points of distance and debate them. Investigate them. Try on each other’s perspective and see how it fits. Distance yourself from your ideas. You’re looking together at a jigsaw puzzle, trying to find the solution. Your pieces aren’t better or worse. They’re not even yours. Theirs neither. They’re not your ideas or their ideas. All ideas are joint property. They’re all just puzzle pieces. And they either fit, or they don’t.

4.  Murder the unchosen alternatives. When the decision is made about which direction to go down — yours, theirs, a third unrelated one or a hybrid of the two — put your doubts to rest. You may not be able to quash them, but don’t feed them. Instruct yourself, “We’ve made a decision. Whether I agree with it or not is irrelevant. That ship has sailed, and my job is to back this plan of action to the hilt.” Every plan of action but the one that was chosen is done. Burn your boats. Don’t dwell. And if it’s your plan that’s in action, don’t gloat.

Reap the benefits

By following this approach to difference and workplace conflict, you’ll reap rewards. Your relationships will thrive. Your blood pressure will improve. Your organization’s decision making will be more effective. Your results will be better.

If you want, you can think of this as the “BLIMP” method. If you look above, you’ll see the steps… BLPM. Ok. BLIMP is a stretch. I just know people like acronyms.


Know anyone who’d benefit from this article? Please feel free to share it or it’s companion podcast episode far and wide.


MGW #19 - You’re Doing Conflict Wrong

There’s a lot out there about how to reduce conflict at work. A lot of the stuff out there is very good.

 

This episode is about transforming conflict, and using it to your advantage. If conflict seems like something to avoid? If it seems like something you can win? Then, you’re doing it wrong.

 

We’ve got a companion blog post you can read. For those of you who don’t have time for well thought out articles, here’s your Mighty Good Work ADEPTability Skills Checklist:

 

Slow Down

 

Your primitive brain, and the fight or flight response is powerful, but it’s not the only game in town. You can teach yourself to override it.

 

  1. Breathe: Try something called box breathing. Practice it anytime you feel a bit anxious or angry. Breathe in for a count of four. Hold your breath for four. Breathe out on a count of four. Hold for four. Breathe in for four. Repeat. This may not be practical during an argument, but it’s great before initiating a conversation that you anticipate may be stressful. And, even during the interaction, bringing your attention to your breath, and doing this box breathing as much as possible is a powerful fight or flight defuser. Just ask a Navy Seal. This is a technique they use in actual battle.
  2. Look for common ground. Actually take a moment with your collaborator, your employee, your negotiating partner, whomever. Name the things you agree on in detail — breadth and depth. Notice how much common ground you have that surrounds the points of contention. It’ll put the disagreement in perspective and remind you of how aligned you truly are.
  3. Puzzle it. Sit on the same side of the table — literally or figuratively — and investigate the problem. You’re looking together at a jigsaw puzzle, trying to find the solution. Your pieces aren’t better or worse, or even yours. Theirs neither. They’re not your ideas or their ideas. All ideas are joint property. They’re all just puzzle pieces. And they either fit, or they don’t.
  4. Murder the unchosen alternatives. When the decision is made about which direction to go down — yours, theirs, a third unrelated one or a hybrid of the two — put your doubts to rest. You may not be able to quash them, but don’t feed them. Instruct yourself, “We’ve made a decision. Whether I agree with it or not is irrelevant. That ship has sailed, and my job is to back this plan of action to the hilt.” Every plan of action but the one that was chosen is done. Burn your boats. Don’t dwell. And if it’s your plan that’s in action, don’t gloat.

 

Reap the benefits

 

By following this approach to difference and conflict, you’ll reap rewards. Your relationships will thrive. Your blood pressure will improve. Your organization’s decision making will be more effective. Your results will be better.

 

If you want, you can think of this as the “BLIMP” method. If you look above, you’ll see the steps? BLPM. Ok. BLIMP is a stretch. I just know people like acronyms.

 

_______

 

Your host on Mighty Good Work is Aaron Schmookler.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/schmookler/

 

And, we’re The Yes Works — Helping to make work good for people, and make people good for work.

 

www.TheYesWorks.com

Check out this episode!


MGW #18 - Culture for Recruiting

Today’s show is about a powerful multi-tool. It slices. It dices. It motivates performance and leads to retention of customers and employees alike.


And? It’s a recruiting juggernaut.

 

Today, we’re talking Company Culture as a major recruiting unfair advantage.

 

We’ve got a companion blog post you can read. For those of you who don’t have time for well thought out articles, here’s your Mighty Good Work Checklist:

 

 

  • Play the long game. It takes time and deliberate action to build a lasting culture to your design specs. It’s an investment, and it pays dividends.
  • Start Now. Don’t put off starting the long process to shape the culture you want to work in and that others want to work in. It’s not true that every day you wait to start is another day until you have the results you want. Every day you wait, the culture you’ve got (which is imperfect no matter how good it is) gets stronger.
  • Focus on your people and make work work for them. Your best recruiters are the people who work for you. Want more people like them? Make sure they’re fulfilled by their work and would be proud to bring their friends into the fold.
  • Broaden your KPI focus for yourself as a leader. You’re responsible for results, yes. You’re also responsible for the relationships with the people who attain those results for you. Their experience is a leading indicator of your long term and ongoing results.
  • Ask your people to recruit NOW. Dig your well before you’re thirsty. Build your bench before you need people. Ask your people to help you grow your network of people you’d like to work with in the future. Have an ace up your sleeve. (Mix as many metaphors as you can.)
  • Only hire a sure-fire fit. Don’t hire to fill a seat. You can struggle on understaffed far better than you can carry dead weight. Hire for culture fit (diverse culture fit) and skill, both. If you hire someone who undermines the culture you’re working to build, everything, everything gets harder.

 

 

In this episode, I referenced a few companies who are killing it in this department and past podcast episodes where they share the secrets in their culture sauce. Here they are for your reference.

 

 

_______

 

Your host on Mighty Good Work is Aaron Schmookler.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/schmookler/

 

And, we’re The Yes Works — Helping to make work good for people, and make people good for work.

 

www.TheYesWorks.com

 

Check out this episode!


Culture: Recruiting Juggernaut

Culture is a powerful multi-tool. It slices. It dices. It motivates performance and leads to retention of customers and employees alike.


And… It’s a recruiting juggernaut. Company Culture is a major recruiting unfair advantage.

Recruiting in Two Parts

One aspect of recruiting is getting your openings in front of the right applicants – the perennial need-based marketing problem. That’s what Monster and ziprecruiter and oodles of other jobsites are out there to help with. It’s a tricky problem, a tough problem, and ultimately a simple problem. And that’s not my bailiwick. Part 1: Find people.

The second side of the problem is being a place that’s attractive to top talent. Part 2: Attract people. 

How do you create a company that people want to work for? How do you draw people in, so they’re on the lookout for your postings, and sending you resumes even when you’re not actively recruiting so you can have a full bench? That problem can also be divided in two.

One half of the problem is essentially compensation. Salary, benefits, bonuses, signing bonuses, moving allowances, food in the break-room, and other perks. That’s not my area of expertise either. (Notice I’ve put food in the “compensation” bucket. I’d put time-off, education stipends, and other such things in the same bucket. Most people I read and talk to categorize that stuff as culture. I see it as a result of culture, but not culture itself.)

That leads me to my area of expertise, and the second category of attractiveness – CULTURE. This is the powerhouse of attractiveness. This is where the little guy can compete with the giants in any given industry. The little guy may not be able to compete on salary or benefits. The little guy can compete on fulfillment.

Unfair Advantage in Recruiting

Most companies can’t rely on salary as their recruiting advantage. If that’s you, don’t worry. There’s hope.

At the end of the day, we all want to have a life that’s worth living. Salary can help us get there. It’s tough to live without being able to afford a decent home, put food on the table, etc. So, salary indirectly affects and contributes to a life worth living. I bring in $X dollars/month isn’t the evidence most people point to when it comes to satisfaction or fulfillment. It’s a proxy.

Money allows time for family and friends. It allows for experience like travel, art, sky-diving. Those things directly impact a live worth living. Experience is the key. Experience of relationships, of spacious time, of novelty and diversity. Even for those of us who are more money focused, it’s the experience of status and of wealth (a state of mind). Compensation provides an experience of being valued and being ahead in the game.

Culture is the key.

What’s culture? Culture is the contagious beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors shared in a specific group. And in a company, culture is either deliberately shaped and reinforced, or it happens by chance. Chance culture will usually trend to the baser natures of the people in leadership. It trends toward the lowest common denominator. Deliberate culture takes care and feeding. What’s measured and rewarded is reinforced.

What’s the day-to-day experience of work? That’s the job satisfaction juggernaut. And it’s becoming more so, as the social culture around us focuses more and more on company culture. People are coming to insist that work should be good. Glassdoor.com exists because of this shift. It’s intended to help people identify where their day-to-day experience will be fulfilling. Company culture, perhaps more than compensation, contributes to a day full of fulfillment and a life worth living.

In a strong culture, people have meaningful relationships with others – whether they ‘like’ each other or not – because they’re collaborating to achieve a shared goal. Their contributions are valued. Their personal lives are given credence and weight and they’re permitted to pursue a balanced life.

Soap Box Aside:

Work-life balance is a fallacy. If you’re trying to find work-life balance, you’ve already lost because you can’t balance one against the other. It’s a false dichotomy. Work isn’t difference from life. Work is a part of life. Strive for a balanced life, and you’ll be more valuable outside of work and at work both because you’ll take a wider view that permits greater relevance to the situation. You’ll put more time in at work when a deadline looms. You’ll put more time in at home when you’ve got a new baby. You can give weight to different events and circumstances instead of keeping an accounting of hours spent and effort given.

By building a culture that reinforces collaboration, communication, recognition, personal growth, community, high performance and achievement, humane choices, constant feedback, relationships of mutual interest and respect… A company’s leadership can create an environment that’s attractive, even if the compensation package is less than competitive. Reputations are built on culture, for better or for worse. Your top producers will be fulfilled, and will talk about their experience with their friends, and share about their experience on social media. The old adage is true – Word of mouth marketing is the best marketing. And top performers’ friends are far more likely to be top-performers as well. Like follows like.

You can’t Surpass Your Culture

Culture is also far more transparent than most of us are generally aware of. Those who are even the slightest bit culture aware will sense any incongruence between the values on the wall, and the contagious habits of those whom they meet and speak to during the recruiting process.

And remember, recruiting by the best begins long before you post a position. Recruiting begins when you open your doors and start to do work. Every interaction your people have with one another, with clients, with vendors reflects your culture and builds your reputation in the marketplace.

And nature loves integrity. Not integrity as in, “Do the right thing.” Integrity meaning, “Of a muchness – cut from the same cloth.” Your sales culture reflects your service culture reflects your collaborative team culture reflects your management culture reflects your leadership culture.

Choose and shape your culture with as much care as you choose and shape your business model and business plan. Recruit powerfully.

What to do today

Here’s your Mighty Good Work Checklist:

  1. Play the long game. It takes time and deliberate action to build a lasting culture to your design specs. It’s an investment, and it pays dividends.
  2. Start Now. Don’t put off starting the long process to shape the culture you want to work in and that others want to work in. It’s not true that every day you wait to start is another day until you have the results you want. Every day you wait, the culture you’ve got (which is imperfect no matter how good it is) gets stronger.
  3. Focus on your people and make work work for them. Your best recruiters are the people who work for you. Want more people like them? Make sure they’re fulfilled by their work and would be proud to bring their friends into the fold.
  4. Broaden your KPI focus for yourself as a leader. You’re responsible for results, yes. You’re also responsible for the relationships with the people who attain those results for you. Their experience is a leading indicator of your long term and ongoing results.
  5. Ask your people to recruit NOW. Dig your well before you’re thirsty. Build your bench before you need people. Ask your people to help you grow your network of people you’d like to work with in the future. Have an ace up your sleeve. (Mix as many metaphors as you can.)
  6. Only hire a sure-fire fit. Don’t hire to fill a seat. You can struggle on understaffed far better than you can carry dead weight. Hire for culture fit (diverse culture fit) and skill, both. If you hire someone who undermines the culture you’re working to build, everything, everything gets harder.

Other resources:

In the podcast episode that’s a companion to this blog post, I mention a few companies who are killing it in this department and past podcast episodes where they share the secrets in their culture sauce. Here they are for your reference.


MGW #17 - “Happy Side-Effects of Channel Partnership” with Jen Spencer

GUEST: Jen Spencer

https://www.allbound.com/

Twitter: @JenSpencer

https://www.linkedin.com/in/jenspencer/

jspencer@allbound.com

 

HIGHLIGHTS FROM OUR CONVERSATION:

 

Your partners are a natural extension of your sales, marketing, and customer success teams. And they should be treated as such.

 

These relationships and their health starts at the top.

 

Fear, uncertainty, and a lack of trust can erode the health of those partner relationships.

 

What would help your partners be successful in the partnership. Give them access to all information and control that will help them succeed. Expose more to your partners than you may be inclined to.

 

Alignment at the executive level is key. A culture of partnership and a win-win compensation agreement that doesn’t lead partners to compete with one another lays the groundwork for successful partnership.

 

Why bring resellers or referral partners on board?

 

  • They give you access to a community you wouldn’t have access to.
  • Fill in expertise gaps with expertise you don’t have.
  • Give you a regional access you don’t have.

 

Symbiosis adds value for the customer, and makes the customer very sticky. Customer first drives effective partnerships.

 

B2B buyers in a SAAS environment can change providers at a moment’s notice. To keep customers, you’ve got to add more and more value.

 

There are beneficial side-effects to great partnerships.

 

The differing perspectives and backgrounds of partnering organizations can drive and catalyze innovation.

 

In M&A circumstances, partner organizations can help to preserve the integrity of the original vision, and the customer service of an acquired company.

 

Strategies are strengthened by collaborating to develop and implement them across companies.

 

Understand why you are partnering. Be sure you’re on the same page with your partners. Align your purpose with theirs, or know this is not a right-fit partnership.

 

Build out partner personas the same way you’d build out customer personas. Be purposeful about partnering.

Build a business plan together.

 

Relationships are not all about the soft-stuff. Data can help predict what partner relationships will thrive.

 

Partnership is a human endeavor.

 

Choosing a partner is as important and nuanced as choosing an employee to hire.

 

A bad partnership can impact your brand. And without synergy, a partnership will fizzle out. That’s lost opportunity, and wasted investment.

 

For a long time, partnership seemed like a strategy for large organizations only. That’s not true anymore. Small and startup organizations are using partnerships to catapult them to success.

 

And lastly, while Jen Spencer is a huge animal lover, she does not trust birds.

 

Your host on Mighty Good Work is Aaron Schmookler.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/schmookler/

 

And, we’re The Yes Works — Helping to make work good for people, and make people good for work.

 

www.TheYesWorks.com

 

Resources mentioned in today’s show:

Aaron’s appearance on Jen’s podcast: The Allbound Podcast

Allbound offers a free version of their platform to help you get started with your channel partner program.
Check out this episode!


Business Relationships: Make or Break With Micro-Responses

Today I’m thinking about micro-responses and how they can make or break your business relationships (and therefore your career).

A Business Relationships Story:

The other day at a store, I said to the clerk, “Hey, I’m hoping you can help me with something.” Before responding to me, she closed her eyes, lowered her head, and let out a quick breath through her nose. Then she looked at me and said, “Sure. How can I help you?” I instantly wished I hadn’t gone into that store. Our business relationship was in bad shape.

Above, I wrote that she closed her eyes, lowered, her head and exhaled “before” she responded to me. That wasn’t really true. That body language was her first response. And it was a foundational moment for our relationship.

We humans are, “meaning making machines,” so of course I interpreted that micro-response in my mind. To me it meant, “I don’t want to help you. Don’t bother me.” That response and the meaning I took from it had a more profound effect on my experience than her spoken response, “Sure. How can I help you.” I believed her non-verbals more than I believed her words.

 

It’s never about the thing. It’s always about the relationship.

 

The store clerk was willing to help me. She did help me. And even so, she tore down the business relationship with her initial micro-response.

A Take Away:

Micro-responses can tear down the relationship, and they can also build it up. How often do you smile at the people you work with when you encounter them? How often do you approach their requests with an attitude of “yes”?

Micro-responses that tear down relationships:

  • Sighs
  • “Oh no”
  • Frowning
  • Head shaking
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Etc.

Micro-responses that build up relationships:

  • Smiles
  • Nodding
  • “Uh-huh”
  • Eye-contact
  • Slightly raised eyebrows
  • Etc.

These micro-responses are pre-conscious and reflect the thoughts you have about the situation (or person) presenting itself. You can’t necessarily control micro-responses in the moment because they come before you know it. You can, however, notice them as they come or afterward, and instruct yourself in how you want to respond for the future.

And if you’ve made a destructive micro-response, you can apologize for the impulsive reaction. An apology, when it’s called for, is a powerful relationship builder.

You can ask those around you to give you feedback specifically about your pre-conscious micro-responses and enlist them in your effort to improve your collaborative ability.

Something to Practice:

You can give yourself instruction and deliberately apply your awareness  in advance of the situations where micro-responses come up.  Some of those may include:

  • When someone makes a request of you
  • When someone comes unannounced to your work space
  • When you encounter someone when walking through the office
  • When someone gives you feedback — corrective or congratulatory
  • When someone asks you for a status report
  • When someone tells you about their personal life, or asks you about yours

Keep track. Prepare to build your business relationships. When you catch yourself tearing down the relationship, make a quick apology and move on.

The greatest benefit of this awareness and discipline… You can change your own attitude through this practice, and improve your own outlook, morale, and value in your organization.

Today I’m thinking about micro-responses and how they can make or break your business relationships (and therefore your career).

A Business Relationships Story:

The other day at a store, I said to the clerk, “Hey, I’m hoping you can help me with something.” Before responding to me, she closed her eyes, lowered her head, and let out a quick breath through her nose. Then she looked at me and said, “Sure. How can I help you?” I instantly wished I hadn’t gone into that store. Our business relationship was in bad shape.

Above, I wrote that she closed her eyes, lowered, her head and exhaled “before” she responded to me. That wasn’t really true. That body language was her first response. And it was a foundational moment for our relationship.

We humans are, “meaning making machines,” so of course I interpreted that micro-response in my mind. To me it meant, “I don’t want to help you. Don’t bother me.” That response and the meaning I took from it had a more profound effect on my experience than her spoken response, “Sure. How can I help you.” I believed her non-verbals more than I believed her words.

 

It’s never about the thing. It’s always about the relationship.

 

The store clerk was willing to help me. She did help me. And even so, she tore down the business relationship with her initial micro-response.

A Take Away:

Micro-responses can tear down the relationship, and they can also build it up. How often do you smile at the people you work with when you encounter them? How often do you approach their requests with an attitude of “yes”?

Micro-responses that tear down relationships:

  • Sighs
  • “Oh no”
  • Frowning
  • Head shaking
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Etc.

Micro-responses that build up relationships:

  • Smiles
  • Nodding
  • “Uh-huh”
  • Eye-contact
  • Slightly raised eyebrows
  • Etc.

These micro-responses are pre-conscious and reflect the thoughts you have about the situation (or person) presenting itself. You can’t necessarily control micro-responses in the moment because they come before you know it. You can, however, notice them as they come or afterward, and instruct yourself in how you want to respond for the future.

And if you’ve made a destructive micro-response, you can apologize for the impulsive reaction. An apology, when it’s called for, is a powerful relationship builder.

You can ask those around you to give you feedback specifically about your pre-conscious micro-responses and enlist them in your effort to improve your collaborative ability.

Something to Practice:

You can give yourself instruction and deliberately apply your awareness  in advance of the situations where micro-responses come up.  Some of those may include:

  • When someone makes a request of you
  • When someone comes unannounced to your work space
  • When you encounter someone when walking through the office
  • When someone gives you feedback — corrective or congratulatory
  • When someone asks you for a status report
  • When someone tells you about their personal life, or asks you about yours

Keep track. Prepare to build your business relationships. When you catch yourself tearing down the relationship, make a quick apology and move on.

The greatest benefit of this awareness and discipline… You can change your own attitude through this practice, and improve your own outlook, morale, and value in your organization.


MGW #16 - “Drive Learning and Growth” with Elaine Lin Hering

GUEST: Elaine Lin Hering

http://triadconsultinggroup.com/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/elainelinhering/

lin@diffcon.com

 

Across industries, people say that feedback conversations are their most difficult conversations — both giving and receiving.

 

ONe the receiving end, it’s triggering. On the giving end, you may cause a trigger in the receiver, and you don’t know how it’s being received.

 

Three kinds of feedback:

  1. Positive feedback: appreciation
  2. Coaching: guidance for improved effectiveness
  3. Evaluation: Tracking against expectations

 

In order to learn and thrive and do good work, we need all three kinds of feedback.

Feedback is:

  • solicited and unsolicited
  • Verbal and non-verbal

 

When receiving feedback, people often feel judged.

 

When feedback is non-verbal, it’s especially hard to interpret.

 

Principles of Improvisation:

 

  • Everything is an offer.
  • We are meaning making machines.
  • Be specific.
  • Yes, And. “Tell me more about that.”

 

Skills for giving feedback is half the equation. Receiving feedback is an equally important set of skills.

 

We reject feedback for three reasons:

  1. Truth trigger: You’re wrong. You have incomplete data.
  2. Relationship trigger: I don’t like or trust you and your motivations.
  3. Identity trigger: That’s not me. That’s not who I want to be. I don’t want to face the possibility that this describes me or my behavior.

 

Build awareness as a feedback giver and receiver of the above triggers.

 

As a giver of feedback, notice and unpack the labels you’re using in giving feedback — and Be Specific. Specificity can help get around the truth trigger by helping people to be clear that we’re talking about the same thing.

 

As a receiver of feedback? take some time away and assess the feedback away from the stress of the confrontation.

 

Don’t use vague or uncertain terms that require interpretation, and that will inevitably get different interpretations from different people. “Be more man-like.”

 

Describe behavior and describe impact instead.

 

When receiving feedback, observe your first reaction, and then you can choose your response.

 

Human beings think in labels. It’s our job as givers (and even as receivers) to translate those labels into useful information.

 

How can you frame the feedback to be in the self-interest of the feedback receiver. How will it benefit that person to make the change you’re suggesting?

 

As a receiver, if 90% of the feedback someone gives you is off and irrelevant, focus on the 10% that can serve you.

 

Feedback is information exchange and it’s the fuel and driver for getting stuff done. So, ask yourself, how is feedback going on our team? How painful is it? How effective is it?

We need a mindset shift: Feedback isn’t the “F” word. It’s an opportunity for improvement and accelerated growth.

 

Neglecting to give feedback insulates people from the reality of their behavior, of the reality of the impact of that behavior. If you aren’t giving me feedback, you’re cheating me out of the opportunity to learn and grow.

 

There is no learning without feedback.

 

If you’re giving people feedback, and it’s not working. 1) Look at how you’re having the conversation. 2) Give meta-feedback. “We’ve had this conversation before. There’s a problem here with your making adjustments based on feedback.”

 

It’s critical to discuss the impact, the results, the consequences of behavior.

 

As feedback givers, we will never be free of bias. We can work to filter it out. And as feedback receivers, our job is to try to filter through that bias as well.

 

Your host on Mighty Good Work is Aaron Schmookler.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/schmookler/

 

And, we’re The Yes Works — Helping to make work good for people, and make people good for work.

 

www.TheYesWorks.com

 

Resources mentioned in today’s show:

Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In, by Roger Fisher and William Ury

Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most, by Douglas Stone

Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well?, by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen

Manager Tools

HR West, A Professional Conference for HR folks in Northern California
Check out this episode!


MGW #14 - “Thriving Business/ Product, Process, and People” with Eric Johnson

GUEST: Eric Johnson — CFO of Nintex

 

Nintex is a leader in workflow and content automation. Making more time in workflow for what really matters.

 

The Eric Johnson approach: When I make a commitment, I deliver on that commitment. That builds respect and trust. Caring about people, and hold a mark of high integrity. And look for creating benefit for everyone.

 

If you’re great to work with, and you do great work, life goes pretty well.

 

We’ve never taken venture capital to fund operations.

 

How are we achieving excellence, growth and recognition? It’s a combination of a few things.

 

  1. Fundamentally, serve a broad need around something that people care about.
  2. A great distribution model. We’ve done a great job of partnering to distribute and get great results for the customer.
  3. Hire great people. We are disciplined about how we hire, and how we treat people.


If you’re competent, but terrible to work with, we’ll try to help you be better to work with? and ultimately, ask you to move on if you don’t improve.

 

We’re transparent about how we want to work and what our values are. We onboard with a 30-60-90 process and again at 180 and there’s straight-talk about how they’re living up to expectations.

 

Through our management training, we work to prepare our managers for positive feedback for a positive culture. Celebrate success. Recognize good work. This happens on a large scale and a small scale.

Managers are given guidance and training, not simply expected to be effective without guidance and oversight.

 

One-on-ones are expected to be a regular thing: weekly or semi-weekly. The reporting in one-on-ones isn’t just about the performance. “How are YOU doing?”

 

When you employ best people practices, you can experience the difference quickly and powerfully.

 

There is a hierarchy of function and roles — and a personal way of relating to one another.

 

We operate with a high level of transparency, and allow employees to ask probative questions. We don’t always answer with a high-level of specificity. But we are honest, even if we’re delivering an answer they may not want to hear.

 

It’s important to identify the opportunities to say “no” to.

1) What has alignment with our core values and goals, and what doesn’t?

 

2) After clearing that alignment, what’s going to deliver value to customers and investors?

 

When there is disagreement around important questions? people need to be heard. They need to have the opportunity to go through the exploration process.

 

If you’re not going to allow everyone on the team to express their ideas, and to be affected by the input of others — then why have a team?

 

When we face a situation that may in the short term be worse for us, but it’s right in the long term for partnering, then we go with the right in the long term for partnering.

 

We need to do the right thing for partners, and the right thing for customers. That way, we have sustainable outcome — not flash in the pan temporary gains.

 

We don’t let policy prevent us from doing the right thing.

 

Caring for employees, partners and customers pays dividends.

 

 

 

Today’s guest: Eric Johnson, CFO of Nintex

https://www.linkedin.com/in/ebjohnson1/

https://www.nintex.com/

 

 

Your host on Mighty Good Work is Aaron Schmookler.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/schmookler/

 

 

And, we’re The Yes Works — Helping to make work good for people, and make people good for work.

 

www.TheYesWorks.com
Check out this episode!


MGW #13 - “The Employee Experience Advantage” with Jacob Morgan

GUEST: Jacob Morgan — Founder of The Future Organization

 

https://thefutureorganization.com/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/jacobmorgan8/
Engagement efforts have failed. There’s a lot of investment in surveys and measurement, but the numbers — and the practices that drive those numbers — don’t change.

 

Engagement is a result of core workplace practices. It’s not affected long-term by perks. We know when perks are installed to manipulate us.

 

Employment day 1, everyone is engaged. Then, slowly, the organization breaks people down, and trains them to become disengaged.

 

Part of the problem is that when corporations are focused on quarterly profit, things like changing workplace satisfaction that take time don’t get the attention they need to move the dial.

 

We promote the wrong people. Leadership is a specific set of skills, and being a good individual contributors don’t always have the skills that leadership requires.

 

There are people skills in your company already. Seek them out and leverage those skills.


Organizations lie to recruits. We tell them how amazing and wonderful it is to work here — even when it’s not true. Now, the new hires quickly become resentful and unhappy, not only because of the environment, but also because of the bait-and-switch.

 

If you’re an individual contributor, speak up about your experience. Manager’s be committed to the success of others. Executives, take a stand for designing exceptional employee experience.

 

The common assumption is — You need to give your employees challenging and exciting work. But the employer doesn’t control what the work is that needs to be done. It controls the environment in which the work is done. How does the company require you to do your work? How does the company support you in your efforts? What is the culture of work in which the work gets done? What metrics are used to measure performance?

 

Results are a trailing metric. Behaviors lead results. Measuring and rewarding behaviors improves employee satisfaction and results both.

 

Environment can be controlled by the employer/organization. There are three environments. Culture. Physical environment. Technology. These three environments all play together. It’s important to deliberately design all three.

 

With every change an organization makes, it’s important to consider the impact of change on the above three environments.

 

There’s no such thing as an organization where 100% of the people are going to be happy all the time. The most important thing is how the organization responds to those people who at a given time are not happy.

 

The companies that are doing people well are treating the problem as a laboratory would — with quick, measured, deliberate experimentation, not with a lot of drawn out thinking. Make attempts and respond to the results with new attempts.

 

This is a messy process. Decide for yourself whether this is a battle worth fighting — at whatever level you are working. Expect that it’s not going to be easy. And the results are

 

Subscribe to Jacob’s newsletter: text “future” to 44222

Find Jacob’s books, The Employee Experience Advantage, The Future of Work, and The Collaborative Organization here: https://thefutureorganization.com/books/

 

Your host on Mighty Good Work is Aaron Schmookler.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/schmookler/

 

And, we’re The Yes Works — Helping to make work good for people, and make people good for work.
www.TheYesWorks.com
Check out this episode!