Deconstructing a Problematic Workplace

42956656Manage Resistance and Drama

You may think the real drama at home is about the fight you had with your spouse, but it’s really about all the times you avoided having the difficult conversation, failing to listen or speak your truth to others or even yourself, Marlene Chism points out in Stop Workplace Drama.

Drama impacts all of us –– both at home and at work. It hampers productivity and inhibits personal effectiveness. And the worst part, of course, is that if you can’t spot the drama, you can’t stop the drama. Nonetheless, most of us try to fix the symptoms instead of identifying the core issues. The drama is the situation. Your drama is how you react to it. Therefore, while you may not be able to stop the drama, you certainly can stop your drama. In other words, you may or may not be able to control or change the circumstance, but with some training, you can learn to manage –– and alter –– your response.

When trying to identify the common elements in drama, you will always find at least one, if not all three, of these core components:
1. A lack of clarity.
2. A relationship issue.
3. Resistance. Leaders face resistance on a daily basis.

Teams resist working together. Individuals resist change. Perhaps you even resist the most difficult parts of your job. The core of resistance is you avoid because you don’t want to face whatever it is that you don’t want to face. You complain because you can’t deal with a certain situation, or you justify an angry outburst because you cannot accept the hand that has been dealt to you. Complaining denotes an unwillingness or inability to let go of what can’t be controlled, or to face and act on what can be changed.

The premise of releasing resistance is this: You cannot solve a problem until you accept the situation. When you jump into a solution before releasing resistance, you will just experience more drama. The solution only comes after you let go of your resistance. The four main energy patterns of resistance are blame, resentment, justification and judgment. Resistance is always a state of nonacceptance and an avoidance of responsibility. Non-acceptance starts as a thought impulse such as, “I don’t want to go through this (fill in the blank).” That thought triggers an emotional response such as frustration, dread, irritation or guilt, then quickly materializes into more observable behaviors such as angry outbursts, finger-pointing, blaming as well as subtle behaviors such as avoidance and procrastination.

In the end, resistance boils down to an unconscious avoidance of responsibility, which spirals into negativity, then finally into full-blown drama. Managers or business owners frequently know and even admit that drama is present in their workplaces. Denial is the drug of choice for many of us when we face difficult choices.

Awakening from the drug of denial can be painful. When you shed light on another person’s incompetence, rude behavior or pattern of which the person was unaware, the person will become defensive. Your staff member may feel attacked or belittled, so make sure you approach these issues with kid gloves.

Observe these two rules:
• Never catch anyone off guard.
• Always correct in private, and do it within a positive, team-oriented approach, with the intention of bringing out the employee’s best.

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Develop a Sharper Focus: Smart Practice in the Mental Gym

Apart from sports that favor physical traits, almost anyone can achieve the highest levels of performance with smart practice, Daniel Goleman suggests in Focus. Smart practice always includes a feedback loop that lets you recognize errors and correct them –– this is why dancers use mirrors. Ideally that feedback comes from someone with an expert eye. If you practice without feedback, you don’t get top ranks. The feedback and the concentration matter –– not just the hours.

Learning how to improve any skill requires top-down focus. Neuroplasticity, the strengthening of old brain circuits and building of new ones for a skill we are practicing, requires our paying attention.

Daydreaming defeats practice; those who browse TV while working out will never reach top ranks. Paying full attention seems to boost the mind’s processing speed, strengthen synaptic connections, and expand or create neural networks for what we are practicing. At least at first. But as you master how to execute the new routine, repeated practice transfers control of that skill from the top-down system for intentional focus to bottom-up circuits that eventually make its execution effortless. At that point you don’t need to think about it –– you can do the routine well enough on automatic.

Focused attention, like a strained muscle, gets fatigued. Anders Ericsson, a Florida State University psychologist, found world-class competitors –– whether weight lifters, pianists or a dog-sled team –– tend to limit arduous practice to about four hours a day. Rest and restoring physical and mental energy get built into their training regimen. They seek to push themselves and their bodies to the max, but not so much that their focus gets diminished in the practice session. Optimal practice maintains optimal concentration.

 

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How to Earn and Keep Customer Loyalty

Today’s buyers –– empowered by the Internet, assured by the enormous choice in every segment of commerce and capitalizing on the acute vulnerability of sellers struggling in this current selling climate –– have taken control of the entire purchase progression

The confluence of technology and choice described in Robert H. Bloom’s The New Experts, started customer loyalty down the slippery slope –– ultimately, customer loyalty died. Buyers no longer care which seller they buy from –– which gives buyers all the power. But buyers do care about fulfilling their needs and making the best purchase decision –– and that is how you can win them over at four critical customer moments.

The Four Moments That Count

1. The Now-or-Never Moment –– your first brief contact. It is impossible to overestimate the importance of your prospects’ initial contact with your company.

2. The Make-or-Break Moment –– the lengthy transaction process. Most leaders know from experience that far too many transactions fall through at the Make-or-Break Moment, the extended period of consideration, negotiation and decision to purchase.

3. The Keep-or-Lose Moment –– the customer’s continued usage. This is the period when your buyer is actually using your business’s products or services. It is important to nourish and maintain your relationship with a customer while that current customer is using, consuming, enjoying and relying on the product or service he or she purchased from you. Maintaining performance is essential at this moment.

4. The Multiplier Moment –– repeat purchase, advocacy and referral. Your Multiplier Moment is your conversion of a one-time customer into a repeat customer and an advocate and referral source for your company. Customers’ repeat purchases from your firm and enthusiastic recommendations of your firm will produce transactions that require far less investment and will create far more profitable revenue. This is why your business must sustain its performance long after the completion of the transaction and throughout your pivotal Multiplier Moment.
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How to Motivate Your Employees

Satisfy Their Psychological Needs
Human thriving in the workplace is a dynamic potential that requires nurturing. The workplace either facilitates, fosters and enables our flourishing, or it disrupts, thwarts and impedes it. In fact, conventional motivational practices have undermined more often than they’ve encouraged our human potential, according to Susan Fowler in Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work … and What Does.

Give Their Work Meaning
When meaning in our work is absent, we tend to disengage at some level. The provision of meaning is the solution for disengagement. When work has meaning, it drives the expenditure and investment of discretionary energy on a physical, cognitive and emotional level, Scott Mautz points out in Make It Matter. It’s the feeling that you matter and are making a difference; your engagement is paying off.

Provide Fulfilling Work
One of the most common marching orders for new leaders is to address a situation that is being presented as a workforce motivation problem, according to Jacob Stoller in The Lean CEO. Conventional wisdom in the early 1900s was that the manager-worker relationship was inherently adversarial and that the key weapons for ensuring a productive workforce were pay and threats. Psychological research since that time has shown that human motivation is far more complex than that.

Create a Winning Environment
The key to keep motivating people to perform at their best is to build self-esteem (which leads to self-confidence and self-respect) in each person who reports to you, Brian Tracy points out in Full Engagement! Each person has unlimited potential that the individual can bring to bear on the job, to do that job better and faster. People have huge reservoirs of creativity that can be unleashed to solve problems, overcome obstacles and achieve business goals.

 

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How Leaders Achieve Maximum Results in Minimum Time

Laura Stack makes an amazing claim in her book Execution IS the Strategy. She states that strategy must emerge out of execution, and she provides four premises for this approach.

  1.  Interdependency – strategy and tactics are part of the same over-arching process, with an inherent relationship.
  2. Fluidity – strategy must be more flexible in its tactics now than in the past.
  3. Speed – strategy must be executed more quickly than ever before to be effective.
  4. Validity – strategy must still be appropriate and strong, or none of the first three premises matters.

Laura then provide the 4 keys to efficient strategic execution, which she calls the L-E-A-D Formula:

Leverage – do you have the right people in place to achieve your strategic priorities?

Environment – do you have the organizational atmosphere, practices, and culture that will allow employees to easily support your strategic priorities?

Alignment – do your team members’ daily activities move them toward the accomplishment of the organization’s ultimate goals?

Drive – are your organization’s leaders, teams, and employees agile enough to move quickly once the first three pieces of this list are in place?

To learn more about how execution and strategy interact, and how to apply the L-E-A-D formula to your organization, join us on May 30th for our Soundview Live webinar How Leaders Achieve Maximum Results in Minimum Time with Laura Stack. Bring your questions and fill the room with your team members.

Plan for the Future with Three New Summaries

As part of your leadership development, you should routinely take a part of each day to focus on the future. To help you in your efforts, Soundview has three new summaries that help you plan for the future of your business and strengthen your resolve to achieve your goals.

by Itamar Simonson and Emanuel Rosen

by Itamar Simonson and Emanuel Rosen

Absolute Value by Itamar Simonson and Emanuel Rosen. Absolute Value answers the question of what influences customers in this new age and describes how a company should design its communication strategy, market research program, and segmentation strategy in order to adopt a new way of thinking about marketing in this new environment.

 

 

 

by Georg Vielmetter and Yvonne Sell

by Georg Vielmetter and Yvonne Sell

Leadership 2030 by Georg Vielmetter and Yvonne Sell. Leadership 2030 presents six converging megatrends that will reshape businesses by the year 2030 including the forces of globalization 2.0, environmental crisis, individualization and value pluralism, the digital era, demographic change, and technological convergence. Authors Georg Vielmetter and Yvonne Sell use research and analyses to explain the transformative effects of the megatrends on leaders and their organizations and what leaders will have to know.

 

by Al Siebert

by Al Siebert

The Resiliency Advantage by Al Siebert. The Resiliency Advantage explains how and why some people are more resilient than others and how resiliency can be learned and strengthened. Dr. Siebert details a five-level program for becoming more resilient that is a valuable resource for learning how to meet the challenges of work and life head on.

Four Memorable Quotes from Soundview’s Author Insight Interviews

A great accompaniment to many Soundview Executive Book Summaries is the Soundview Author Insight interview. Each interview is worth a careful listen because authors often reveal new interpretations of their material. The interviews also provide them with the opportunity to share new information gained since the book’s publication.

Here are four great thoughts to consider and share with your team:

“Most people think that success resides somewhere outside yourself. It’s something other people have. It’s something you need to go out and discover. But actually, success is always inside yourself and it’s the connection between your own interests, your own aptitudes, your own motivations and the opportunities that life presents.” G. Richard Shell, author of Springboard: Launching Your Personal Search for Success

“What we find in both individual change and organizational change is that it often requires some sort of disruptive event, some sort of major external activity in order to force change. Change becomes reactive as opposed to the individual or the organization being proactive and embracing change. The first step in performing change better is leading it better.” – Susan Goldsworthy and Walter McFarland, co-authors of Choosing Change

“For the most part, when you examine alliances you realize that it is a common pain that drives people together.” – Rich McKeown, co-author (with Mike Leavitt) of Finding Allies, Building Alliances

“People are hardwired for negative or positive emotions and we all have a different set point inside our brains for anxiety, depression and happiness. You have to really understand your set point and then do as much as you can to keep yourself on the positive side of hope, optimism, compassion and generosity.” – Bob Rosen, author of Grounded

A Guide for Setting Direction and Managing Change

THE EXECUTIVE CHECKLIST

A To-Do List for Achieving Results

For more than 20 years, James M. Kerr has been an independent management consultant working with both large and small companies: He helped Home Depot reimagine its store operations, for example, while advising smaller firms such as specialty insurer Jewelers Mutual on how to open up new markets. Already the author of three books, Kerr’s fourth book pulls together the varied experiences and knowledge acquired in his project work into a deceptively simple but practical and comprehensive checklist for executives. The Executive Checklist: A Guide for Setting Direction and Managing Change is built on 10 general items that all executives must manage and implement if they are to be successful: establish leadership; build trust; set strategy; engage staff; manage work as projects; renovate the business; align technology; transform staff; renew communications practices; and reimagine organizational design.

With the chapters devoted to each of these items, Kerr moves from the general to specifics with sub-checklists that are focused and actionable. The checklist for establishing leadership, for example, is as follows: have a dream; actively set direction; communicate early and often; be dynamic and visibly involved; promote collaboration; practice inclusiveness; don’t tolerate bad leaders in your midst; make no excuses.

LexisNexis Fakes a Trade Show

In less experienced hands, a book of checklists and sub-checklists could easily turn into a litany of platitudes with little implementable substance behind them. The Executive Checklist, however, reflects the grounded, real-world perspective of a management consultant paid handsomely to get results, not talk. The discussion on having a dream, for example, does not describe Martin Luther King’s speech or John Kennedy’s space goals. Instead, Kerr introduces the concept he used with LexisNexis Insurance Software division of a “vision trade show” — essentially a faux trade show with booths manned by a member of the senior leadership team.

Floundering in the ultra-competitive property casualty software market, LexisNexis top management had decided to write a new vision story for the company that would help employees understand where the company was going. Because engaging employees was vital, the new vision story was first introduced in a specially produced magazine with articles written by executives and then further explained through Kerr’s vision trade show. As with a traditional trade show, LexisNexis employees moved in small groups from booth to booth, where they “were treated to a briefing or demonstration highlighting a specific element of the firm’s vision story,” Kerr writes. “To make the trade show experience even more realistic, each booth provided attendees with various giveaways, including logowear, squeeze balls and golf goodie bags.”

For LexisNexis, the trade show booth format had several advantages over the traditional town hall meetings often used to spread the word on a company’s vision. Each booth emphasized specific key points or themes, such as speed to market, continual transformation and the building of a talent factor. In addition, the fact that top executives manned the booths persuasively demonstrated the full commitment of top management to the new vision.

Do Your Job

Recognizing that the job of an executive is to lead and motivate others, The Executive Checklist includes actions that executives must demand of others as well as themselves. For example, Build Trust, the second of Kerr’s 10 items on his executive checklist, includes imperatives such as “model the behavior,” “share the wealth” and “keep it light.” Building trust, however, also includes “don’t play games” and “do your job” — which apply to both boss and employee. Bill Belichick, coach of the New England Patriots, doesn’t play games and does his job, but a great part of his success — he turned a franchise never known for its winning consistency into a team that, since he became coach, has appeared in more Super Bowls than any other team — comes from ensuring that his players also never play games and always do their jobs. In fact, as players go through the entrance to the New England Patriot locker room, they pass under a sign that says simply: Do Your Job.

LexisNexis and the New England Patriots are just two of the many companies referenced in The Executive Checklist: an easy-to-use reference manual for executives to keep nearby for quick guidance.

Book Review: The Learned Disciplines of Management

by Jim Burkett

by Jim Burkett

The ability to turn around a struggling business is a skill honed in the fires of a business inferno. Specialists in this process hope to be successful a handful of times throughout their careers. Jim Burkett, author and president of Corporate Turnaround Consulting, has turned around the staggering figure of 28 underperforming companies during a 35-year career. It requires a devotion to a set of principles Burkett describes to readers in The Learned Disciplines of Management: How to Make the Right Things Happen. This book is now available a Soundview Executive Book Summary.

While every manager develops a toolkit for problem solving during the course of his or her career, Burkett points out that many of these skills might simply be what you’ve received from a predecessor or boss. In The Learned Disciplines of Management, Burkett replaces the “inherited” tools with seven learned tools: planning, organizing, measuring performance, executing, following up, real-time reporting and problem solving.

Each section of the book provides executives with an explanation of the discipline and examples to reinforce the importance of its practice. One of the more intriguing chapters concerns the discipline of measuring performance. While experienced executives probably feel as if they’ve read everything imaginable about the subject, Burkett gets to the heart of the issue: why measuring performance is so often not practiced. His findings force executives to confront the truth that performance measurement, while not a dehumanizing practice, does remove an unspoken layer of safety for underperforming teams.

These kinds of truths are essential if a manager intends to push a turnaround to its successful completion. While The Learned Disciplines of Management is a must-read for anyone in a struggling organization, it would benefit experienced executives at successful firms, as well.

Three New Summaries to Unlock the Door to More Success

The barrier between standard and extraordinary leadership can be symbolized by a door. At a certain point in your career, particularly if you’ve acquired a degree of success, you’ll find yourself trying to unlock the door with the skills you’ve developed. Soundview now offers three new book summaries that can help sharpen your abilities and blend them into a single key that can open the door to greatness.

by Mike Myatt

by Mike Myatt

Hacking Leadership by Mike Myatt. In Hacking Leadership, Mike Myatt identifies 11 leadership gaps that can be holding leaders back and affecting their performance. The gaps are found in areas of leadership, purpose, future, mediocrity, culture, talent, knowledge, innovation, expectation, complexity and failure. Myatt provides actionable leadership and management “hacks” to bridge the gaps in order to create a culture of leadership within organizations and help leaders drive exceptional results.

 

by Bob Rosen

by Bob Rosen

Grounded by Bob Rosen. Internationally renowned CEO advisor Bob Rosen proposes a new approach to leadership in Grounded in which leaders at every level can become more self-aware, develop their untapped potential, and drive better results for themselves, their teams and their organizations. Rosen’s Healthy Leader model highlights six personal dimensions that any leader can master: physical, emotional, intellectual, social, vocational and spiritual health.

 

 

by Jim Burkett

by Jim Burkett

The Learned Disciplines of Management by Jim Burkett. In The Learned Disciplines of Management, Jim Burkett presents a framework of individual disciplines that form a self-reinforcing management system for making the right things happen. These include planning, organizing, measuring performance, executing, following up, real-time reporting and problem solving. Practicing these will reveal what effective management can do.