Trust Gratitude Inspiration Fun

TGIF – Practice What You Preach

Oh, what a beautiful day.  It’s Friday and TGIF – Trust, Gratitude, Inspiration, & Fun!

Trust

This week I’m trusting in what I preach.

I train in conflict resolution and constructive communication skills and carefully design curricula around neuroscience-inspired group activities.  These generate Aha! moments, (“Yikes.  I sound like THAT!  It’s demotivating!”) and participants then open to learning new ways to interact.

Not the group I led this week. Some of the participants were assigned (they did not choose) to attend and they tested the limits.

The two people that created havoc in work relationships were at it in our group too.  They were on the phone and then interrupted the group to catch up.  They crossed their arms and refrained from partaking in the group activities. Yes, these were adults!

Yet such resistance also creates the opportunity to practice what I preach.  All eyes were on me to see how I would handle the situationThrough this challenge, everyone realized that one can still respect people while correcting unhelpful behavior.

(Find out more about these trainings here.)

I am trusting in applying respectful communication tools and to staying respectful even especially when it’s tough.

Gratitude

Calm reigned in France and the US this past September 11.  It remains a somber date.  It’s the day we remember what we were doing when we heard the news of the Twin Towers ablaze.

Even in a world with strife, we can still be thankful for the countries that are at peace.

Image from Landlopers, not your ordinary travel site

Inspiration

We welcome a gorgeous Swiss woman in one of my classes.  Here was her training take-away which is today’s inspiration.

“I feel like a Swiss cow.”

cow with bell in Alps

The men (who had been ogling her) and the women (who had been envying her beauty and charm) looked at her even more avidly.

“Yes, I need to chew on this stuff.  And then some more.  And afterwards, just as a cow produces creamy and delicious milk, I will help create a fruitful and engaging work environment.”

I have a new liking for cream!

Fun

Have you too heard that “great” parents spend one-on-one time with each child?

We have four boys.  Do the math.  More kids renders individual attention more challenging…and more rare.

We created the ritual of Two-on-One time.  For his 5 year birthdays (10, 15, 20 years…), Mom and Dad take the child out to dinner.  For one evening, each kid benefits from the full attention of BOTH parents.

“Every five years!  Can’t they do better?” you may wonder.

We created a ritual that we could fulfill with our finite energy, time, and budget.

Tonight, we are on our 16th Two-on-One dinner.  Looking forward to this opportunity to learning more about and from my grown and growing son…and having fun with a night on the town!

Check our birthday rituals below.

It is good to be back.  Wishing you a great week.

A bientôt (next week), Denise

Neat & New Stuff

4 Gifts Colleagues Crave…and Never Make the List

Birthday Wishes for adult

What do you offer your team members for their birthday?  Chocolate? Nothing!  

Try these gifts which build belonging and confidence.

Read on…

The Million Dollars Birthday Chair

Boys blowing out birthday candlesGet lots of bang for little buck with this fun way to celebrate birthdays.  Works with kids of all ages, those at home and folk at work.

Read on…

 

TGIF - Less is more

TGIF – Less is More

Hello for the weekly rendez-vous on Friday.  TGIF – Trust, Gratitude, Inspiration, and Fun.

Trust

I am trusting that less is more.

Period.

Life is complicated
Is that it?! There is so much more….
Denise Dampierre smiling
Yup. All for now…

Gratitude

I am thankful for chance encounters.

Two weeks ago, at a networking event, I sat down next to a stranger and introduced myself.  It so happens we share a vision for an entrepreneurial project and come at the concept from different yet complementary angles. We decided to collaborate and are both growing through the contact.  It is invigorating to have one’s ideas both acknowledged and challenged simultaneously. 

One clients described this kind of exchange as the epitome of benevolence at work:  to be demanding of your team member because you want the best for them and therefore to kindly yet firmly push the limits to have them recognize how well they perform and that they can go further.

I am thankful for those people who see your and my potential and help us reach it.

Inspiration

This week’s inspiration is like a conversation between sages.

Someone confides,

“Hell is other people.”  – Jean Paul Sartre

Another answers,

“Ask not what your country (or company or friend…) can do for you—ask what you can do for your country (or company or friend…).
– John Fitzgerald Kennedy from his inaugural address.

A third concludes,

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
– Mahatma Gandhi

And I am inspired by Brian Morton of the New York Times who verifies references and corrects us.

” The closest verifiable remark we have from Gandhi is this: ‘If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.’ ”

Fun

Yesterday was July 4.  How did you celebrate the US Independence Day?

The funny thing is…I forgot! 

Amazingly, on the other side of the ocean, Happy Birthday USA is not top of mind.  It is a regular workday here.  I realized the date upon sending an email to an American company and receiving the automatic reply message:

“I shall be out of the office on July 4 due to a national holiday.”

Aghhh!

(FYI, I will be celebrating 14th of July, the French national holiday and ooh-ing and ah-ing over the fireworks.)

Eiffel Tower July 14
The magic of the Eiffel Tower on July 14. From Le Figaro

This is definitely a time when more is welcome!

Wishing you a great week.

Sincerely, Denise

 

Neat & New Stuff

What’s YOUR Focus Word?

Boy looking through telescope. Searching Focus word!We are featuring this article again (did it last week too) because of the comments from several of you.  Glad you liked it.

This afternoon, my focus phrase is “Make it to the school on time.”  Our youngest son is graduating from high school.  Read on..

Muslims in prayer

Being an Outsider in the Paris “No Go Zone”

Last week I was invited to lunch in the Paris “No Go Zone” and here is what I learned about being an outsider.

My Outsider Experience

There I was waiting in front of a low-income housing complex in the middle of St Denis, the Paris suburb where Jawad Bendaoud housed the terrorist attackers who stormed the Bataclan on November 13, 2015 and killed 130 music fans and wounded another 413 people.

Equiping Juvenile Delinquents to Contribute Positively

I was invited to lunch at the restaurant Taf & Maffé to join the seven youth in juvenile detention that I was training in social skills.  The town justice service hires me to give wayward youth tools to contribute positively to society.  I love these sessions of authentic exchange and where I grow as much or more as they do.  This lunch opened my eyes wide with discovery.

White Anglo-Saxon, Female, Red-Head Outsider

As a tall, white woman with spikey, bright red hair, I often stand out in a crowd.  Here, surrounded by men of African and Middle Eastern origin, some wearing tunics and prayer caps, I definitely looked out of place.

I felt displaced as well.  My bearings were off.  I consider myself open-minded and had thought I had no specific expectations.  Yet, standing alone in unknown territory, I realized I looked for familiar signs.  Specifically, I searched for the welcoming signboard of a restaurant and a clearly displayed menu to lure me in.  There was nothing of the sort.  Just a high rise and men.  (I saw two women in veils, both begging.)

welcoming restaurant from outsider view
My unrealistic expectation

A man in a tunic pointed me towards the inside of the housing complex and I went in.

Outdoor “Mosque”

Beyond the entrance, in the building’s courtyard, lay a patchwork of colorful rugs.  I had not integrated that we were Friday and that, for the Muslims in St Denis, prayer time began at 1:48 pm. There wasn’t enough space at the mosque, so the “inn” made room for the faithful.

The man pointed me further down a corridor and I walked into a large hall with tables and chairs and people serving out of industrial size cooking pots.  Questioning eyes observed me as I scrutinized the room, noticing the buzz of activity and the full chairs.  I was not expected here either, so I waited outside for my crowd.

The youth finally arrived AND our group kept waiting (!), huddled in the small segment of the sidewalk that basked in the sun.  My confusion grew, yet since the youth were calm-despite-hunger, I remained relaxed-enough too.

Our dining room was being prepared.

Lunch is Served

We were ushered into a 20m² room which served as the office of an association which integrates refugees into France.  They had moved the printers and photocopy machine to the side, stacked papers in piles, and moved the desks to form one large table.  Again, I had not come with set expectations yet discovered that this is not what I had anticipated!  In retrospect I realized I had expected a “Chez Samir,” something like an exotic version of “Chez Sylvie.”

We enjoyed a flavorful, filling, and exotic meal of bissap (hibiscus) juice, chicken maffé (like an African paella), HOT chili sauce, and dégué (millet grain pudding flavored with orange blossom).

Even when everyone had finished eating, we stayed put.  Since I was leading the afternoon training session for the youth, my eye was on the watch.  Yet, as a guest, I let the organizers set the rhythm and opted to let go of control and to enjoy the company and the moment.

Waiting.  Not my Schedule.  Theirs.

By now a group of ten or more of us were huddled in the doorway, with still no indication of movement and easy chit chat around.  Then one of the youths announced, “It’s time.”

While we were eating, the courtyard had filled with men for the mid-day prayer.  Prayer time was now completed; we could open the door.

We joined the crowd of worshipers as they flooded into the street and flowed on their way.

I grew from the experience of being an outsider.

My Take-Aways from being an Outsider

Open-Mindedness

I (re)learned that open-mind is not a state of being that one reaches.  It’s a journey…that goes deeper and deeper.

As a Protestant white American married to an atheist French man from West Indies descent, I think of myself as open-minded.   Our marriage would not have lasted twenty-seven years had we not each made considerable concessions to and for each other.

Yet an open-mind cannot be earned and worn as a Scout badge for public recognition.  As I acknowledged my surprised reactions to these unknown surroundings, I discovered untrod paths of open-mindedness and traveled further along the journey.

Unconscious Bias

A decade ago, few people were aware of unconscious biases.  Now, “unconscious bias” is an often-heard, sometimes-understood term.

Unconscious bias. Lots of outsiders
Growth in awareness of unconscious bias over 15 years

Here is how the University of California, San Francisco defines it.  

“Unconscious biases are social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness. Everyone holds unconscious beliefs about various social and identity groups, and these biases stem from one’s tendency to organize social worlds by categorizing.

Unconscious bias is far more prevalent than conscious prejudice and often incompatible with one’s conscious values. Certain scenarios can activate unconscious attitudes and beliefs. For example, biases may be more prevalent when multi-tasking or working under time pressure.”

I confess, I had thought I was addressing and uncovering (a.k.a. eliminating) my unconscious biases fairly well.   Yet during my visit to Saint Denis, a neighborhood physically close to my home and yet culturally far removed from my norm, I kept bumping into my assumptions.

I expected restaurants to have outdoor signs and buildings to welcome residents, not worshipers.

Mostly, I realized that we (you and I included) have an uncanny bias towards thinking that we might be unbiased!  LOL

Empathy

The best way to grow in empathy is to get out of our comfort zone.

Authentic empathy comes from the heart.  It is experienced.  It is not an intellectual thought.

Alone on that sidewalk I felt insecure, with a loss of bearings.  Taking initiatives required effort and felt risky.  Instead of my usual proactive self, I waited for others to make the first move.

I caught a glimpse of what it feels like to be excluded.

In the past, I responded to other people’s slowness, reactivity, and lack of self-confidence with critique.  “C’mon.  Get over it.”  Thanks to my work in constructive collaboration, I have learned to replace judgement with encouragement.

I did not need advice on that street corner.  I needed courage poured into me and the strength that comes from a benevolent presence.

Transformative Trainings

In St Denis, I was hired to open these youths’ eyes, minds, and even hearts.  Through soft skills training and building their self-awareness and other-awareness, we connected constructively.  Here were their parting thoughts:

  • Hope
  • Motivation to look for a job
  • Confidence in myself

These youth also opened my eyes, mind, and heart.  That’s what I love about our workshops on constructive collaboration tools.  Through role plays and team activities we create a safe space for learners to step outside of their comfort zone.  They are free to laugh at themselves, to discover new insights, and to choose how and how much to grow.

For YOUR Team Too

Find out more about these trainings to bring out the best performance and collaboration from your teams.  We define our training program according to your organization’s needs.

Are you seeking to build a more inclusive culture?  We help build self-awareness, empathy, and trust which are pillars to developing a sense of belonging and contribution.

Your success depends upon negotiation skills?  We help you and your team understand other people’s perspectives and balance short- and long-term benefits so that you can negotiate creative outcomes where all parties gain.

You want to give your team a motivational boost?  We help you break down communication barriers and build relationship bridges so that expectations are clear, progress gets recognized, and success is achievable.

Be in touch.  It’s what we do:  transform difficulties into opportunities for growth.

SoSooper = from blooper to sooooo super!

Cover photo from The Great Courses Daily website
Restaurant photo is Chez Sylvain & Sylvie in Bordeaux region

Notre Dame cathedral easter 2019

Precious or Perfect? Wisdom from Notre Dame

Do we have to be perfect to be precious?

On Monday evening, the fire at Notre Dame cathedral decimated the roof and the burning spire (called the “arrow” in French) crashed from the sky to the ground.

Memories disappear in minutes.

The recently cleaned stone, usually brilliant in the sunlight, is now 50 shades darker.

What lies ahead for this most visited site in Europe?  As of Monday evening, donations flowed in to contribute to Notre Dame’s renovations.  She lost her perfection.  She remains precious.

Are you convinced of that in yourself?  Each of us knows that we are not perfect.  Are you and I also convinced that we are precious?

This mindset determines our future.  What we think about ourselves influences how we invest in ourselves to grow.  It also impacts how other people invest in us.

Perfection Perverts Relationships

It took me decades to come to truly know that I am enough.  Period.  I have value as a human being.  Not because of what I do or who I know.  Because I am.

I don’t need to be perfect to be precious.

When I am convinced of that in me, then I can be convinced of that in other people too.

Beforehand, I fixated on being “good enough” by being “better than.”

Comparison focuses one towards critique and reinforces unconscious biases: to find what is “wrong” with the other person and to highlight what is “right” in me.

We find what we seek.

If you and I are looking for weaknesses in others, we will find them.

At the same time, when we seek qualities, we find them too.

The same behavior could even be viewed as either a liability or as a potential strength! It depends upon our mindset.

  • Is your colleague dissipated or highly curious?
  • Is your boss arrogant or focused?
  • Is your child stubborn or a person with convictions?

Wisdom from Notre Dame

Notre Dame has been with Paris for centuries.  Even without her roof, she remains precious.  Maybe even more so.  She “needs” us now.

Perfection Perverts Perception

We all make judgements about people, and our predisposition is to believe that we are right. 🙂

Psychologists warn us of several ingrained biases.  The correspondence bias is when someone makes conclusions about another person’s character based on a behavior.  Context is insignificant.

  • When Samira leaves a large tip at a restaurant, she is considered generous. We overlook the specifics of the situation.
  • When Sydney arrives late to work, he is unorganized or uncommitted. No excuses.

On top of the correspondence bias we add the actor-observer bias where a person undervalues the situational influence in other people’s behavior and over-values it in his own.

  • When you or I just landed a lucrative contract and leave a large tip at the restaurant, we might feel generous.  It is our mood, not who we are.
  • When you or I arrive late, the traffic was terrible. We are not making excuses; we are relating a fact!

The perfectionist mindset limits someone’s ability to accept these research-proven biases.  Divergent viewpoints would call our analysis into question and destabilize our sense of value and entire being!

For the perfectionist to “be right,” other people are wrong.

Wisdom from Notre Dame

Among the statues of Notre Dame (and they still stand), we find both saints and goblins.  Grotesque gargoils don’t make her beastly.  Gorgeous handiwork does not make her divine.

Reframing Empowers
Reframing Frees from Perfectionism

True or False: “I see it, therefore it is real.”

I have learned we see what others choose to show.

Few of us expose our dark sides.  In fact, we go to great extents to hide them, sometimes even to ourselves.  We readily display confidence and results-orientation at work and keep out of sight the fear of not measuring up or lack of motivation.  These represent the underwater portion of the iceberg,

Fear drives many of us to invest time and energy to hide our imperfections.

Fear of what?  Fear of whom?

Naming our emotions initiates our ability to tame them.  

I have also learned that facing our emotions is an effective way to live life with few regrets.  That is what I wish for you and for me.

Wisdom from Notre Dame

I arrived in Paris after my MBA to work in marketing at l’Oréal.  Our training included six months in the field meeting customers.  My work week began early on Tuesday mornings as I headed by train to a provincial French town to arrive in time for store opening at 10 o’clock.  I returned to Paris well into Saturday evening, where my friends were already galivanting around town.  Not surprisingly, they did not want to go out on Sunday night.

I was lonely.

On top of that, my boss believed in motivation by critique.

I was demoralized.

That’s when I regularly walked the streets of Paris on my own and frequently rested on the Pont de la Tournelle which has a view on the back of Notre Dame.

I marveled at how, from the front, the cathedral’s towers emanated strength and majesty.  The buttressed rear view exposed another angle: architectural ingenuity and graceful stone.  The slim buttresses are essential to hold up the imposing towers and the elegant spire.

There is more than one viewpoint.

The same applies to my life and yours too.

I stand in awe before Notre Dame’s regal facade.  It’s her “imperfect” side that encouraged me.   In those solitary months, she helped me learn to like being with myself.

Perfect to Grow

“The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.” – Aristotle

Wisdom set in stone.

You and I have a task: to embrace our limitations so that we can learn.

Did you know there is a bell named Denis at Notre Dame?!

Bells of Notre Dame
The new bells on display in February 2013. My namesake, the Denis bell.

 

 

 

 

Denise Dampierre in workshop

What Motivates More: Encouragement or Complements?

Today, on the Day of Compliments, we may hear a few more, “Great Job!”

It’s like candy to the soul.

Question: Should we be feeding compliments and candy to our employees?! 

Answer: YES and NO!!

Yes, Encourage Team Members!

People succeed better when they feel better.

This principle motivates many corporate happiness initiatives.  Research asserts that a positive mindset

  • increases creativity (easier to find solutions to challenges),
  • communication (better listening), and
  • productivity (more energy).

Employees, like every human being, thrive when their needs for belonging and contribution to a meaningful purpose are met.

Research demonstrates that there is a positive and a destructive way of encouraging people.

Encourage by Noticing Progress

The research of Teresa Amabile of Harvard Business School indicates that progress ranks among the highest motivating factors for employees, whether it be advancement on small tasks or passing thresholds on major projects.

It’s easy to mark the moment when we sign on a new client.  What kept the team motivated throughout the months preceding the closing of the deal?  Noticing progress throughout the modest stages of the sales cycle feeds motivation too.

The “small” progress steps often go unnoticed.  There is work ahead!  Baby steps can seem insignificant.

And yet, Amabile asserts the positive impact on motivation that comes from recognizing progress.

Why not redefine complex projects into a series of quick wins?

Don’t Compliment.  Use Encouragement.

Encourage by Focusing on Growth

Carol Dweck of Stanford University unearthed the notions of fixed and growth mindset.  The way we interact with our team members can orient them towards the fixed or the growth mindset.

What are these mindsets?

Tall fixed mindset
Strong growth mindset
  1. The fixed mindset asserts that people have innate capabilities. Either you are good in math or you are not.  Either you are creative or too bad.
    Liken it to growing to a certain height.  Once we have reached our adult height, we don’t get taller.
  2. The growth mindset asserts that people can learn. All the time. No matter how much we already know.
    Think of building muscle.  We can always get stronger.  Strength builds through regular exercise of multiple muscles in various ways.

What’s your mindset?

Try this quiz.  For the six statements below, what mindset do they encourage?  (Scroll to the end for results)

  • I’m so proud of you!
  • You really put a lot of effort into that!
  • I trust your judgement.
  • You did it the right way!
  • You are so talented!
  • You must be proud of yourself!

All of the above may sound positive.  What’s the difference?

The fixed mindset comments provide extrinsic motivation (dependence upon an outside push).

On the other hand, the growth mindset ones generate intrinsic motivation (self-impulse).

Compliments vs. Encouragement

Jane Nelsen, doctor in education and founder of Positive Discipline, differentiates these as compliments (extrinsic motivation) vs. encouragement (intrinsic motivation). Nelsen likens compliments to candy.

  • Delightful as a treat. Unhealthy as a meal.
  • Addictive like sugar. Gives a quick rush…followed by need for more.

These semantics resonate with me in that compliments are given to people for having reached a result.  Encouragement applies for people in work-in-progress…folk like ME!!!!

Our choice of words matters.  Carol Dweck shares tips to encourage (vs. compliment) students.  They apply to learners of all ages throughout life.  Enjoy 😊

Encouragement that Works

One of my most memorable encouraging situations was during a training for ex-prisoners to gain emotional intelligent skills to take responsibility for their life.

At the close of our seven-week training (we met weekly for ½ day), my colleague and I wrote encouragement notes to each of the participants.

We carved out time to generate progress-centered, growth-focused encouragements.  What does one say to someone who sits through each session with arms folded and barely speaks?  How to respond to someone who repeats, “Everything is fine.  Nothing to change.” when he is wearing an electronic bracelet and involved in a recovery program?

To be honest, the easiest response is critique: “Get real.” “Do something.”

These men (and you and I to a lesser extent) have been judged all their lives.  Further criticism merely reinforces the status quo.  We wanted to help them take one (or more) step forward.

Below are some of the encouragements we gave them.  These life-roughened men were so to touched; they insisted on reading them all out loud.  One man responded for the entire group, ”No one has ever spoken to us in this way!”

We noticed your ambition to start your own business and we encourage you in that goal. You can choose what kind of boss to be … and if you want it, you have the capabilities to be both firm and humane simultaneously.

We noticed your courage and your desire to change your life and we encourage you to take a first step towards professional training in preparation for your return to your family.

We noticed and appreciated your growing contribution to the group and hope you become aware of what you bring to others through your personality and ideas.

We appreciate your sense of responsibility that you demonstrated through your attentiveness to our groups’ comfort, your regular attendance, and the job you held in prison. We are confident you can put this skill to use as you embark on your job search.

We noticed your ability to assimilate the concepts and tools of Positive Discipline and constructive communication. We have every confidence that you will be able to implement them and be a good example for the people around you.

You have demonstrated a strong sense of belonging through your family life, your trade and your company. This gives us great confidence in you since a sense of belonging is a fundamental sign of a healthy life.

How do you speak to your employees?  Especially those whose motivation you want to boost.

Click here to discover workshops to communicate constructively in your team.

Experts’ Research on Encouragement

Quiz Results

Compliments

Extrinsic motivation that points towards fixed mindset

  • I’m so proud of you! (Have to please the other person)
  • You did it the right way! (Only one correct way.  Where is room for experimentation?)
  • You are so talented! (An inate quality)

Encouragements

Intrinsic motivaton that stimulates the growth mindset

  • You really put a lot of effort into that! (Focus on effort)
  • I trust your judgement. (Allows room for error and exploration)
  • You must be proud of yourself! (Focus on self-motivation)
Monkey looking in mirror. Feedback!

Alternatives to Firing a “Toxic Employee”- 3/3

Don’t give feedback. Give feed-FORWARD

Feedback can be difficult to receive.  A team member with toxic behavior may have had ears full of “constructive criticism.”

Full ears lead to closed hearing.

In one of our training activities, participants are given a series of directives.

“Be on time.” “Take notes.” “Treat the client well.” “Check the references.” “Find out about _______.” 

The listeners exclaim, STOP.

  • Stop talking AT me.
  • Stop talking OVER me.
  • I am STOPPING TO LISTEN!

This is the third article in a series on toxic employees at work.  Today’s focus is on providing feedback in a way that builds collaboration.

We are building on the previous articles

  1. Acknowledge the challenge…and your role in it
  2. Set firm and kind boundaries with “I” Messages

Today’s post considers how to create and follow up on a personal development action plan of a team member.

1. Focus on Qualities to Build

Did you know?  The challenges we experience today present opportunities for learning and growth!

Blessings in disguise. Ha!

And yet…by overcoming our obstacles, you and I have grown wiser and more experienced.

For every behavior, there is a counterpart.

Think about Territorialism.  Its obverse could be Teamwork.  Somewhere along that spectrum lies Communication.

We can focus on trying to stop territorialism OR to build communication and teamwork. (Progress is never a straight path.)

 

Step by step. Build on strengths

 

I love how this cartoon contrasts the removing and building outlook.

Destruction fosters insecurity.  People erect defenses. Constructing enforces community.  People feel a sense of belonging and an ability to contribute.

Asset or deficit based mindset

In the office these two perspectives could sound like this:

  • Looking back (deficit focused): “Last meeting with Jane and Joe did not work well.  What will you do differently?”
  • Facing forward (asset based): “How could you demonstrate open-mindedness in the upcoming meeting with Jane and Joe?”

2. Build on Strengths

Imagine two cliffs with a void in between the two.  How can one get to the other side?

With one thread, one can slide another strand, then a third…until one can cross.  Does it take work and time to build on that initial filament?  Of course.  AND one can build on it.

Focus on weakness is like facing the void.  Follow the thread instead.

birds on a wire

3. Encourage Self-Evaluation

People with toxic behavior can easily be on the defensive.

Read: What is a “Toxic Employee”?

Auto-evaluation makes a person responsible for his own behavior.

One manager shared this incident.

“A team member did not take her share of the workload.  Absenteeism was an issue and so was quality of output.  As an engaged union member, she knew she could keep her job despite her disruptiveness.

I finally asked her to evaluate her own overall behavior on a scale of 1 to 5.

She responded 3. 

I answered that this was a bit higher than my own assessment.  Even more importantly, was she satisfied with 3 out of 5 when we both knew of her capability to do more?

Until then she had chosen to stand up while I was sitting down.   She took a seat and we began to make a plan to help her contribute to the team through her excellent written communication skills.”

4. Notice Progress

A sense of accomplishment highly impacts a person’s motivation and desire to contribute asserts Harvard Business School professor Teresa Amabile in her work on The Progress Principle.

Noticing progress helps people progress in performance.  They are

  • more productive
  • more engaged
  • more creative and solution-oriented
  • more committed to work
  • more collaborative

Managers often associate progress with major landmarks.  “We signed the contract!”

Amabile asserts that remarking progress on “small” efforts generates these positive attributes too. “Thank you for saying ‘Thank you’.”

5. Repeat Feedback Feed-FORWARD REGULARLY

It is different to give feedback regularly vs. to do so often.

Feedback Often

How frequently is “often”?  What triggers the need to review behavior?

Collaborative behavior is like service management.  When things go right, we don’t notice it.  How many times have you paused today to thank your firewall supplier for protecting your computer against viruses?  Or your bank for generating interest on your savings?  Probably none.  These service gets taken for granted…until a problem arises.  THEN IT IS URGENT.

When things go right, we don’t notice it.
Take time to notice it so that things go right more often!

Unless feedback is regularly scheduled, it tends to happen when toxic behavior merits correction.

That’s when our own behavior communicates a toxic message!  Our actions reveal that we don’t care about building a team member’s strengths or transmitting values.  We prefer comfort without nuisances.

Checking-in “too often” can communicate lack of trust in their ability.  Without me or you, that woeful, tiresome person will stay doomed to exasperate others.

Scheduled Feedback

A scheduled check-in time creates a sense of accountability on both parts:

  • the person building constructive behavior (notice the progress in using positive language ?)
  • the one encouraging personal development in his team member

There is an expectation of results.  An appointment to recognize progress.  An opportunity to further strengthen relationship muscle.

There is an expectation of results.  An appointment to recognize progress.  An opportunity to strategize for continued successes and further tone the relationship muscle.

The planned-ahead element creates a safe space, allowing for bloopers and learning from mistakes.  This is not an emergency meeting called because the person messed up (again).

Follow up sessions are scheduled on the calendar to check in…and to keep focusing forward.

“It sounds like you, Jane, and Joe are starting to understand each other a bit better?  How can you go the next step?  What could teamwork look like?!”

 

Thank you for your positive attention! ?

Photos by André Mouton and Glen Carrie on Unsplash
Man reflecting in park

When It’s Urgent to Reflect

For many of us reflection seems like a luxury in our over-packed schedules and high-efficiency mindset.

We feel a need to respond immediately.

To respond!

In our world of disruptive innovation and fast change, don’t we really need to initiate?

Proactivity requires reflection.  Overcoming recurring stumbling blocks demands new solutions.  In the words of Albert Einstein, “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.”

Reflection gets us thinking at another level.

“We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.”
– Albert Einstein

Here are five situations when deeper level thinking is vital.

1. When Faced with Failure

  • The deal you were about to close fell through at the last minute.
  • You expected a positive response from a colleague and met a very different reaction.
  • An employee left the company or is in burnout.

Step back

We could be too close to the problem.

Try stepping back using space.   Using Post-It notes, write one element of your challenge on each note and place them in order on a wall.  Step back and discover the pattern.  Where is the breaking point?

Try stepping back or forward with time.  Two weeks ago, what was the situation like?  Two weeks from now, what would you like to happen?

2. When Your Body “Complains”

  • You cannot sleep at night.
  • You have gained or lost weight.
  • You get sick.
  • Your digestion has gone havoc; gurgling sounds interrupt your meetings (!)

“If I knew I would live this long I would have taken better care of myself.”
– 90 year-old Al McDonald, previous Managing Director (CEO) of McKinsey & Company

Your and my energy is finite.  With exercise, nutrition, self-care, and planning we can increase our productivity … to a limit.

Re-Prioritize

Physical signs point to a need for change.  It’s time to re-evaluate the distribution of work.  Are you accepting too many projects?  Is it difficult to say, “No”?

Seeking recognition is a common goal.  All humans experience the fundamental need to belong and to contribute to a meaningful community.  Colleagues and neighbors may admire superhumans from afar.  It’s people we come alongside.  It’s relationships with fellow humans that bring meaning to work and life.

Review your investments in time and energy to identify tasks to delegate… and offer others a chance to grow and contribute too.

3. When Bored or Feeling Blasé

When all you see is 10 000 shades of grey, mental fatigue may be blinding you to life in full color spectrum.

Re-Connect

Consider these color images.  The first lacks greens.  The second is without red.  Without these hues, one can miss out on the obvious.

Numbers for Color Blind. No green
No green => confusing!
Numbers for Color Blind. No red
No red => confusing too.
Color blind numbers vector
Even with all the color, reading the numbers takes effort. Similarly, additional perspectives makes reflection easier.

When life appears color blind, it’s an invitation to reflect.  Easier said than done when we are in the blues.  Connecting with another person can add the clarity of perception we may have temporarily lost.  (That’s what coaches like me do.)

We have been given life in technicolor.  It’s urgent to re-assess when life appears monochromatic.

4. When Your Calendar is Always Full

I read of a foreigner learning English who integrated phrases she heard spoken around herShe learned to respond to, “How are you?” with, “I’m so busy.”

Many of us live with little margin.  We plan flexibility out of our lives.

Think of Yourself

Have you travelled on an airplane recently?  The flight attendants remind us to put on our oxygen mask BEFORE we help others.

Many people postpone self-care, prioritize working for others over taking time for oneself.   If you don’t invest in yourself, why should anyone else?

Self-care is a way to express your worth to your entourage.  Again, if you don’t believe in yourself, why should your boss, colleague, spouse, or child?

5. When You are Bitter or Jealous

We all look at the world through a filter.  The lens of envy focuses on faults … and since we are all humans, imperfections in each of us will be found.

Bitterness jettisons us into a vicious cycle of hurt and retaliation. It’s a lose-lose situation, and the one who harbors bitterness suffers most of all.

Lack of forgiveness is like drinking the poison you wish for someone else, reminds us Nelson Mandela.  Riddled with venom we perish; our joy dies, our ability to contribute constructively dwindles, and our sense of belonging withers.

“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”
– Nelson Mandela

Focus on Long Term Benefits

Numerous studies report how the elderly look back on their life.  Men and women lament the energy they wasted on insisting that they were right, even at the cost of a relationship.  The wise in years wish for strong rapport with folk who know their imperfections AND respect them still.

You may not desire nor need to reconnect in a hurtful relationship.  Do reconnect with yourself and your values.  (Often this does imply some kind of gesture in relationship recovery.)

It takes some stepping back to recognize our own responsibility in a relationship rift.

  • The 10 additional critical words to make SURE the reprimand got across
  • The 10 additional decibels in our tone of voice so that the entire floor could hear the negative feedback

As we realize and express our responsibility in the conflict, we free ourselves from a victim mentality and from reactivity.

Do you use a mirror to pluck out an ingrown hair?  Consider getting a coach or a sparring partner to bring to focus behaviors which could be aggravating an already delicate situation.

 

Reflection Becomes a Habit of the Mind

Reflection becomes a habit.

Try this activity from Positive Discipline that we do in my workshops:

  • Put your hands together and interlace your fingers
  • Straighten your fingers and move them down one notch. If your right index was on top before, the left one will be on top now.
  • How does it feel? What do you want to do?
    One participant shared, “The new hand position felt weird.  I wanted to go back to the previous way, and without thinking did so.  Then I tried the new hand position again.  It still felt unfamiliar, but less uncomfortable.  I realized that with practice, I could do this.”

Neuroscience corroborates this phenomenon.  When we activate our brain (as in through reflection) neurons create a pathway of connections from one part of the brain to another.  As we rethink similar thoughts, those same pathways get utilized, like a path a well-worn path that becomes easier and easier to follow.

Phew!

Action Step

Schedule a free trial coaching call.  Get in touch.

 

 

 

French soccer team winning FIFA World Cup 2018

Winning. Insights from Rosabeth Moss Kanter of Harvard Business School

France just won the soccer World Cup.  It happened last 20 years ago.

The World Cup was launched in 1930 and every four years (except during WWII) national soccer teams throughout the world compete for the champion’s prize.  Of the 23 FIFA World Cups held over the years, nine countries experienced the glory of winning.  Only two times did the same country win twice in a row.

Confidence How Winning Streaks & Losing Streaks Begin & End

What makes a winning team?

Rosabeth Moss Kanter, professor at Harvard Business School, researched the question and wrote about it in her book, Confidence: How Winning Streaks & Losing Streaks Begin & End.

Moss Kanter’s determines that winning stems from confidence and leaders deliver confidence.  Learn how and apply her insights to your company or organization.

Success is a process.

Rosabeth Moss Kanter (RMK): “Failure and success are not episodes, they are trajectories.”

“Success is neither magic nor dumb luck; it stems from a great deal of hard work to perfect each detail.  It is even a little mundane.  Win, go back to work, win again.”

Moss Kanter also describes losing as a process and mindset:  blaming and making excuses.

Food for thought:

What processes do you have in place to learn from winning?

How do you share this knowledge?

Confidence-building is the leader’s job.

RMK: “Confidence underlies the performance of individuals, teams, businesses, schools, economies, and nations.  The fundamental task of leaders is to develop confidence in advance of victory, in order to attract the investments that make victory possible—money, talent, support, loyalty, attention, effort, or people’s best thinking.”

Food for thought:

What three resources does your team need most now?

  • Freedom to take risks and learn from mistakes
  • Consistency in management objectives
  • Trust to manage their own time and priorities
  • Appreciation of a job well done
  • Training to work more effectively as team

Confidence builds on past experiences and reactions to those experiences.

RMK: “But confidence is not an artificial mental construct, solely dependent on what people decide to believe; it reflects reasonable reactions to circumstances.   People are caught in cycles, and they interpret events based on what they see happening, on how they are treated by others around them.”

Moss-Kanter refers to events occurring during the performance AND backstage.  On the field AND in the locker room.  In front of the client AND in the conference room.

Food for thought:

How do your actions “during practice times” contribute to your team’s confidence “in the limelight”?

For example, what are the impact of gossip, ridicule, selective information, and pleasing in your organization?

When and how does your team practice before “big performances”?  Which of these apply to your team

  • Present challenges to the team for co-development
  • Identify worst-case scenarios and brainstorm potential solutions in anticipation
  • Role play critical meetings beforehand

Emotions are contagious.

RMK: “Good moods are both causes and effects.  Winning puts people in a good mood and being in a good mood makes it easier to win.  Positive emotions draw people together and negative emotions tend to push them apart.”

Food for thought:

What emotions do you express or allow at work?  When did you last hear someone (including you) say

  • How proud they are of themselves
  • They are excited to come to work
  • It’s satisfying to learn
  • They enjoy the teamwork
  • They are bored and would like new challenges
  • They feel let down and seek ways to build mutual support

What impact does expressing or suppressing emotions have on your team?

Winners face facts and address problems.

RMK: “It builds confidence in leaders when they name problems that everyone knows are there and put facts on the table for everyone to see.  It also helps other people get over their fear of exposure and humiliation to see leaders providing examples of accepting responsibility.”

“Accountability is the first cornerstone of confidence….Everyone said they knew what the problems were, but those problems were always some else’s fault.”

Food for thought:

Surprisingly, obvious challenges can be hard to pinpoint.  Like the fish who asks, “What is water?”
How can you step back and gain a fresh perspective?

  • Request feedback from a junior member of your team
  • Meet with an independent sparring partner
  • Accept a speaking engagement or an invitation for an interview which challenges you to synthesize strategies and actions

Winners really do work harder.  They track the specifics of their progress.

RMK: “(The CEO) was not looking for drama, he was looking for delivery.  Delivery required attention to details.”

Moss-Kanter spoke of the boring part of winning:  tracking the numbers and being disciplined.  It also helps everyone be on the same page and data reveals what needs to improve right now.

RMK: “Data, details, metrics, measurement, analyses, charts, tests, assessments, performance, evaluations, report cards, grades—these are the tools of accountability, but they are neutral tools.  The do not restore confidence by themselves.  What matters is the culture that surrounds them.  For losers, they are another sign that they are watched too closely, not trusted, about to be punished.  For winners, they are useful, even vital, tools for understanding and improving performance.”

Food for thought:

On a scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high), how relevant are your metrics?  How much do you rely on your KPI’s for decision-making?

What do metrics conjure up in your culture: blame or learning?  What will you do about that?

 

Can there be Winners without Losers?

In the World Cup only one team receives the championship cup.

And yet, no one can categorize Croatia as “Losers” in the 2018.  Their president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic set the example in recognizing great sportsmanship in the competition and in her own team.  She embraced the championship cup holders as warmly as she embraced her own team.  Following suit, the French president Emmanuel Macron also embraced each of the Croatian athletes.

Emmanuel Macron and Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic
The final whistle blows. Photo from Purepeople
Emmanuel Macron and Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic
Victory to all champions. Photo from La Parisienne
Emmanuel Macron and Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic hugging Mbappe
Such a HUG. Even Mbappe is surprised at her warm congratulations. Photo from La Parisienne.
Emmanuel Macron and Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic in rain
Celebration rain or shine. Photo from La Parisienne.

The world witnessed a moment of connection as rain-soaked heads of states hugged sweat-soaked athletes, regardless of whether they held the prized cup or not.

Grabar-Kitarovic’s honorable stance at the award ceremony changed the way the French public views the Croatian team.

There is one world cup winner.  AND, there are no loser.  Everyone stands tall after the match.

 

What power-struggle in your life can we transform into a no-lose situation?  Contact me  to implement such a transition.

 

Quotes from Rosabeth Moss Kater are excerpts from her book
Confidence: How Winning Streaks & Losing Streaks Begin & End

Cover photo from Gala

Birthday Wishes for adult

4 Birthday Gifts Colleagues Crave…yet Never Make the List

If your birthday gets celebrated at work it probably looks, tastes, or smells like

  • a box of chocolates,
  • an invitation for drinks,
  • a bouquet of flowers, or
  • a bottle of whisky.

It’s nice…yet is that what they really desire?

Studies abound highlighting the link between quality performance and recognition of a job well done and a sense of belonging to a team.  Why not offer a gift that truly matters for your colleague?

Offer the Gift of Listening

We all have feedback to give and many of us wonder how and when to express it.  When it comes to sharing an insight with hierarchy, the time never seems right.

Make it easy for your team member and offer them openness to their viewpoint.  Seriously, present it as a gift.

One CEO invites the employees with birthdays in that month to join her for lunch.  It’s their time to ask her questions about the company.

Another manager schedules a one-on-one meeting with two agenda items:

  • one behavior the team member appreciates in the manager and that he hopes the manager will continue doing
  • one behavior the team member finds challenging. They discuss a specific time this behavior occurred, and the employee expresses what he would have preferred as an outcome.

Be the Gift – Offer to Help THEIR WAY

I am regularly asked to help unblock relationship challenges and one of the common culprits is assumptions.

To assume makes an A.S.S. out of U and ME
– my brother

To assume makes an A.S.S. out of U and ME.  Like when we assume our team member wants our advice…when, really, those wise words sound like a command (yet another one).

Or when you do your colleague a favor and your efforts are not appreciated to their “just value.”  Maybe he really wanted the manager to stop interrupting him with busywork so that he could complete the task himself.

If you want to be a gift, let your colleague choose how.  “I notice the deadline is approaching and there still is much to do.  How can I help? It’s your birthday.  Ask whatever.”

(re)Celebrate a Success on the
Million $ Birthday Chair

“Effective managers build on strengths.”
– Peter Drucker

Relive a Success

Are you too looking for ways to get big bang out of less time, energy, and funds? The Birthday Chair does it every year.  For less than $1, the birthday person feels like $1 Million!

Give them an opportunity to relive a moment when they succeeded and were proud of themselves.  Designate a chair as the Birthday Chair and decorate it if you lifke.  Then, together, discuss one of their achievement, focusing on

  • the feelings generated by the success
  • the conditions that contributed to the achievements

This is a powerful tool to encourage employees and allow them to connect with the purpose of their work.

It can seem out of place to revisit an “old” event.  That’s where the Birthday Chair can create the occasion.  It’s a moment that is out of the ordinary.

Explore Success with all the Senses

I like to focus on each of the senses when reliving a success.  It’s like adding muscle and tissue to a skeleton.  The achievement comes to life in multiple dimensions and feeds the desire to achieve further.

Here is an example of helping a team member revisit their great presentation

  • What did it look like?
    Team member (TM): “It was motivating to have everyone’s attention and not to have people perched on their phones!”
  • What did it sound like?
    TM: “During the Q & A, people asked relevant questions that moved the discussion forward. They were clearly interested.”
  • What did it feel like?
    TM:
    “I know now that I can overcome the butterflies in my stomach when speaking in public.”
  • What did it smell like?
    TM: “Sweat! From now on, I’m keeping a travel size bottle of my fragrance with me to freshen up before making a presentation.”
  • What did it taste like?
    TM: “Champagne!”

Uncover the Conditions for Success

You can even dig further to understand the conditions that helped create the success and to explore how these conditions could be replicated.

Recognize their Unique Gift to the Team

Birthday card for work colleaguesWhen do you discuss your team members’ qualities with them?  Usually during the performance review, which is also when people are stressed and wary of critique.

When do you focus on the capabilities you seek to transmit?  Try intentionally creating occasions to recognize qualities.  Birthdays present an excuse to experiment with a positive approach.

Here is a birthday card offered by the team to one of their colleagues.  Each person wrote something they appreciate about the birthday person’s contribution to the group.

Download your card here.

Apply to Life

Million $ Birthday Chair at Home

Boy blowing out birthday candles

We love this big bang for little buck method to make a child feel special and belonged.

We decorate one chair BIG TIME:  at least 6 balloons and as many streamers.  The chair goes in the middle of the room where the kids (or all ages) gather for the presents.  It’s also the throne on which he reigns during the Birthday Story Time.

The Birthday Story Time

Share a story to encourage your child to grow in confidence, character, and responsibility.

  • What happened the day they were born?
  • What quality have you observed them develop this past year?
  • What is a sign of growing confidence?
  • How have they helped you become a better person or parent?
  • What do they do that makes you feel loved by them?

About YOU

When did you feel appreciated at work for your birthday?  Share it with us in the comments.

Paris marathon 2018 by Eiffel Tower

Encouragement Tips from the Paris Marathon

Runners streamed through the streets of the City of Lights during the Paris Marathon.  I was out there encouraging them to the full as marathon runners demonstrate character qualities I admire:

  • They have a goal
  • They train with discipline…even waking at 5:00 am to run before a full day at work
  • They persevere…for 42 kilometers straight

Friends shared about their marathon experiences in various cities.  They especially rave about NY where the encouragers never sleep.  Fans line the streets in all neighborhoods and boost the athletes on.

Our local encouragement remained discreet.  Here is what I learned by cheering on the Parisian athletes.

Encouragement is Rare,
even Attention-Worthy

I walked along the Marathon route between kilometers 27 and 30, between the Eiffel Tower and Alma Marceau.  Runners have just come through the tunnel where Princess Diana died in a car accident.  It is dark and dreary; getting out is an uphill hike.  The route continues to slope up slightly to the food and water stations by the Eiffel Tower.

It’s a tough leg of the race.

Active encouragers were so few and far between, that we became entertainment, even distracting attention away from the runners.

Admirers lined the road to watch quietly.  From time to time a fan caught a glimpse of the runners they had come to support and burst into praise as they sped by.  Then, back to silent admiration.

I, on the other hand, clapped avidly and repeatedly shouted out, “Hurray!  Keep it up!  What athletes!” to all of the runners.  They are achieving an amazing feat.  Some passersby rolled their eyes at me and snickered.

During my 90 minutes of cheering, I noticed one other person applauding as loudly as me; she wore an official Marathon Volunteer vest.

A band played marching music to boost the runners’ energy.  A crowd gathered around them, turning their backs to the racers.

Check out the video where we hear the band and barely a sound from the crowd.

Paris marathon supporters playing music

It’s like the onlookers delegated the role of encouragement to the few official volunteers and sporadic musicians.

Cheering on in a marathon differs from a soccer game or a tennis match.

  • We don’t know these athletes
  • Runners keep coming for hours which translates into cheering for the long-haul

Spurring on marathoners in Paris demonstrates that encouragement is a purposeful decision.  It’s not something we do to follow the crowd.

Pouring courage into others will feel unusual and odd.  The question for you and I becomes, “Is the value of helping another person be the best they can be worth our momentary discomfort?”

I believe it is…and I also believe the investment in the other person helps me grow wiser and happier too.

For you too. That’s why my paradigm-shifting workshops include activities on how to effectively encourage team members.

Encouragement is a Mindset

We find what we seek.  Look for problems and challenges.  They are there and easy to identify.

Positive qualities can be harder to identify.  It takes a shift in perspective.

Think of hiking up a mountain. As you look forward, the peaks loom large and daunting.  Yet, pause, and turn around and admire the view.  How far you have already come!

Encouragement begins with looking for value in someone or their actions.  Many of these attributes could be taken for granted or are visible through empathy and shared experiences

  • Effort
  • Persistence
  • Sacrifice
  • Intermediate successes

The marathoners could be viewed as sweaty-huffing-and-puffing-(sometimes-struggling)-runners.  They can also be perceived as toned athletes, champions in discipline, and goal achievers.

Encouragement is Substantive

Critics deride praise as vacuous and without substance.  Avoid that trap.

Real and useful encouragement is grounded in truth and reality so that it effectively pours courage into another person.

Admittedly some words get overused and misused.

“You’re awesome,” said to everyone and anyone and no matter what the context sounds insincere.

“Awesome effort,” shouted out to a runner who has progressed 30 kilometers recognizes an accomplishment.

Encouragement in Practice

Here is how I tried to make my Paris marathon encouragement purposeful, empathetic, and substantive

  1. Acknowledge an effort or a behavior
    Think of children who call out, “Look at me.” They are hoping to hear, “I see you.”
    “What an athlete!”
    “Look how far you have come!”
    “You made it through the tunnel!”
    “Still smiling!!!!”
  2. Orient to the next step (not the next twenty steps ????)
    “There is water and food at the Eiffel Tower.”
    “Keep it up.”
  3. Link Past Achievements to Confidence in Future Performance
    Sometimes that’s simply combining the first two practices together
    “You have come so far! You can keep going.”
    “You survived the tunnel.  Keep it up with the sunshine and the great view.”

Be an Encourager

Who needs encouragement around you?  A demoralized colleague, a worried (and possibly nagging)  spouse, a misbehaving child, or an ageing parent?  Try noticing one thing they do well.  Want help to know how?  Click to send me a note.

Maybe YOU are the one in need of encouragement.  Notice and share one thing that you have done well too.  If you stick to the facts, it’s not boasting.

Yesterday was sunny and warm and our house was filled with friends.  Today the skies are grey and work progresses with two steps forward and one step back.  I’ll focus on the two steps forward…that helps me keep going.