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…

 

Trust Gratitude Inspiration Fun

TGIF – Flying High…and Sometimes Crashing

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

Only it is Saturday.  Catching up

Trust

I am trusting in the growth that results from asking delicate, intrusive questions that expose our beliefs.

Asking questions can feel awkward.  People wonder if they are being interrogated and can respond with wariness.  Or they are surprised to be listened to; they expend so much energy trying to be heard!  That’s why I lead training on asking questions effectively – getting to meaningful answers without putting people on the defensive.

This week I have been asking questions about hope for the future.  One of the students speaking at my son’s recent graduation condemned us, the older generation, for passing on a world in destruction:  damage from climate and strife run rampant and without solutions in sight.

The world left to next generation
Image from The Conversation

While she spoke, her vehement speech put a damper on the graduation ceremony, yet many allowed her words to enter one ear and leave by the other.  We returned to celebration as usual.

And yet, I was perplexed, and I started asking questions to young adults around me and engaging in insightful discussion about priorities, sacrifice, decisions, and more.  None of us prone concrete answers.  Yet, in the process of asking and responding to authentic questions, we all grew in purposefulness and in mutual appreciation.

I am trusting in asking questions…AND LISTENING TO THE ANSWERS!

Questions lead to learning.

Gratitude

I am so grateful for forgiveness and second chances.  Just this morning, I tried asking a delicate question and it came out all wrong.  I struck out.  I feel bad…and the other person must feel even worse.

Striking out

Reparations are in the works.  More will be required.  When the sh** hits the fan, there is clean-up.

Yet it is still worth confronting sensitive topics.  The air and space get refreshed.  And I learn humility in the process.  I am also grateful for humility!

Inspiration

The young woman who spoke courageously and with passion at my son’s graduation inspires me.  She had a provocative message; the stakes were high for her; and she delivered her speech with aplomb.

If she were a man, I wonder if we’d say, “She’s got balls.”

She’s got balls!

Instead folk expressed that she’s abrasive.  I am inspired by her gumption.

Fun

Here I am literally going outside of my comfort zone.  Flying high (the person paragliding in the background is moi) !

Flying in the mountains

Fun..and freaky!

Wishing you a great week.

Sincerely, Denise

 

Neat & New Stuff

What Kids Hear when Parents Repeat 1000 Times

You ask nicely.  No response.  You ASK insistently. Still undesired response…. Check out the family workshop on listening skills.  We reversed roles between parents and kids and “Aha! moments” abounded!  Read on…

Give the Gift of Time

Father and son spending time together

During the holidays, give kids what they crave the most:  your full attention.  We made it easy and fun.  Read on… 

4 Ways Kids Can Help Parents Resolve Work Challenges

Kids-give-lessons-to-parentsYour children are smart.  They have been around you.  They also view the world from a different perspective.  In our difficulties, sometimes we lose clear vision.  Discover these ways you and your child can grow in intimacy AND bring clarity to a fuzzy situation at work.  Read on…

Express Your Values and Give Them Purpose

On a sampan in the Mekong riverSummer vacation is a great time to share your values with those you love.

Try traveling to transmit open-mindedness, tolerance, adaptability, patience, and more.  Read on…

Trust Gratitude Inspiration Fun

TGIF – Hope in the Next Generation

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

Trust

I am trusting in the next generation’s ability and desire to embrace people who are different from them.

In my last TGIF, I told you of my son’s graduation.  After that ceremony, my husband and I drove off for a weekend wedding celebration.

At both events, the next generation were radiant.  The young adults proudly walked across the stage to receive their hard-earned diplomas.

Graduating high school senior

The young couple glowed with happiness.

What fills me with trust in their ability to welcome differences is that they already have!  The students attend a multi-cultural school which integrates French and Anglophone teaching methods (VERY different).  The Franco-American couple welcomed thirty nationalities to their wedding.

It’s exciting to see the next generation embrace multiple cultures with enthusiasm.

Gratitude

I am grateful for being shaped by the next generation.  I am the person I am today partly because of who my kids are and how they helped me grow.

Mom's thanking kids for growth

I have long believed parenting is like leadership development.  We craft a vision (try to), communicate it (try to), and organize to make it happen (try to).

It’s in the “trying to” and the “messed up and trying again” that I have become the person that I am.  Thanks, next generation, for being such thorough (!!!) trainers.

I shared my appreciation directly to my one of my sons before his graduation.  We have this bulletin board by our front door, and friends often come over.  As the buddies were leaving, there was a quiet moment by the front door.  Then, “That’s cool.”  Later, I asked my son what that was about.  “The sign, Mom.” 😊

Inspiration

My inspiration comes from Mother Teresa.

“We train ourselves to be extremely kind and gentle in touch of hand, tone of voice, and in our smile, so as to make the mercy of God very real.”
– Mother Teresa

It is easy to think that some people love or are organized or lead others naturally.  It’s auto-magic.

I had thought that of Mother Teresa.  She was born good and kind and gentle.  And yet, she asserts otherwise.  She INTENTIONALLY trained herself and created training methods for all of the Sisters of Charity

  • to lovingly touch the leper
  • to genuinely smile with eyes and lips at the drawling and toothless elder
  • to soothingly speak to the person disformed by pain

As I train upcoming leaders and students, I am inspired to remember that kindness can be learned.  So can resilience, patience, optimism, listening….

Fun

It was a blast to see my son get his well-earned diploma.  We are proud of him.  Even more importantly, he is proud of himself.

Intrinsic motivation will help him more in life than approval from others.

Proud parents of high school senior

Wishing you a great week.

Sincerely, Denise

 

Neat & New Stuff

What Motivates More: Encouragement or Compliments?

Denise Dampierre in workshop

Are some people born with intrinsic motivation (it’s auto-magic or genetic…) or can it be learned?

Scientists assert that the way you and I act can develop (or not) intrinsic motivation in others.  Read on…

4 Ways Kids Can Help Parents Resolve Work Challenges

Kids-give-lessons-to-parentsYour children are smart.  They have been around you.  They also view the world from a different perspective.  In our difficulties, sometimes we lose clear vision.  Discover these ways you and your child can grow in intimacy AND bring clarity to a fuzzy situation at work.  Read on…

Intergenerational Communication that Works – Insights from Dem DX

Newborn baby in hospitalThe younger generation seems more comfortable with diversity in nationality, race, and religion.  How about with different generations? That can seem tougher.

Learn how this start-up integrates the wisdom of senior experts with the expertise of younger generation.  Dem DX won the European prize for the Harvard Business School New Venture Competition.  Read on…

TGIF - Girl Power Female soccer

TGIF – Girl Power

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

Trust

I’m trusting in womens’ leadership and in the business case for diversity (gender and more) in executive teams.  Female soccer is a key player in this game.  Our family is cheering for the French in 2019 FIFA Female World Cup.  Are you watching the matches too?

Wendie Renard and Amandine Henry on French female soccer team
The action! TOGETHER. That’s teamwork.

Thought-Provoking Facts:

Twenty years ago, women and girls represented less than 2% of the soccer-playing population in France.  Today, close to 8% of the players are female.

Whereas the number of total French soccer players grew 15% from 1999, the number of women players multiplied fivefold!

What’s the big deal?  According to CEO Magazine, 95% of Fortune 500 CEO’s played sports in college.  I am trusting we can get more women into the boardroom by getting them on the field.

Les Bleues

The French fashion magazine Elle has added an entire section “Les Bleues” (The French women’s soccer team) to their website.  Great pics and daily updates.  That’s where this photo of “Les Bleues” comes from.

(Trivia: the men’s team is called “Les Bleus” without the second “e”)

Gratitude

This week in France all high school seniors are taking the Baccalaureate test.  It began on Monday morning with Philosophy.

On Sunday evening, around the dinner table, our boys tested each other on philosophy quotes. Here is a quiz for you:

Who said, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.” ? (scroll down for the answer)

Seen further standing on shoulders of giants

Food for thought:

On who’s shoulders are YOU standing?

My parents, among others.

What have you been able to see that you could not have envisioned without him?

The world.  They took us traveling as kids and I have not stopped since.  We now live on different continents!

How will you thank them?

I call them…try to do so weekly.  In several decades, I want my kids to call me too. 🙂

Inspiration

Of course Isaac Newton (quote above) inspires me…and I wanted to share wisdom from a woman too. Please, in the comments, share what woman inspires you!

I had the pleasure of hearing Leymah Gbowee speak in Paris after she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011.  As leader of the Women in Peacebuilding Network in Liberia, thousands of Christian and Muslim women prayed together for peace and held DAILY non-violent demonstrations.  Their efforts contributed to the end of the Liberian civil war.

Leymah Gbowee Nobel Peace Prize 2011
from LeMonde

“We are tired of war. We are tired of running. We are tired of begging for bulgur wheat. We are tired of our children being raped. We are now taking this stand, to secure the future of our children. Because we believe, as custodians of society, tomorrow our children will ask us, “Mama, what was your role during the crisis?”

– Leymah Gbowee speaking to dictator Charles Taylor and officials.

Food for thought:

What are you tired of? 

For what will you take a stand?

Leymah Gbowee, Nobel Peace Prize 2011
from the Personal Development Café

“You can tell people of the need to struggle, but when the powerless start to see that they really can make a difference, nothing can quench the fire.”

– Leymah Gbowee

Food for thought:

Where do you feel powerless? 

What is One. Thing. YOU can do TODAY to make a difference?

Fun

It’s a double graduation year.  Here I am with our son graduating with a Master in Management from HEC Paris and with our youngest who is passing the Bac. (He’ll have his eyes fully glowing when the baccalaureate exam is over!)

HEC Paris graduation

Great memories of lots of work and lots of fun.

Wishing you a great week.

Sincerely, Denise

P.S. PLEASE share what woman inspires you in the comments below.  Thanks.

 

Neat & New Stuff

Insights from Vice-Dean of Sciences Po Management School

Vice Dean Sciences Po ManagementIn this interview, Olivier Guillet of France’s prestigious Sciences Po School of Management and Innovation addresses the 21st century leadership needs.  The Internet has revolutionized the management criteria and requires new skills for success.  Read on…

How to move from Book-Wise to Street Smart

There is knowledge to gain AFTER the degree.  It’s the wisdom of applying what we learn.

At work that translates into changing habits, like disciplining ourselves to gain a fresh perspective.  Tips to open our eyes, ears, and minds.  Read on…

Looking for Interview Suggestions

Can you recommend a wise leader with a message related to building constructive conversations at work?  Many of you appreciate the interviews I led with tried and tested leaders who overcame challenging conditions.

It would be an honor to know about them and to possibly interview them.  Please send me an email.

Remembering Normandy D-Day

TGIF – Remembering D-Day

Seventy-five years ago, yesterday, the Allied forces landed on the Normandy beaches and defeated the Germans in the Battle of Normandy.  An Allied victory for World War II was in sight.  Nazi exterminations and indoctrinations would be exposed and stopped.

June 6, 1944 remains one of the world-changing days of history.  Our world would be vastly different without that day.  There would be no state of Israel.  Europe would have been “culturally cleansed.” My imagination cannot fathom the consequences.

The above photo is from the movie, The Longest Day which recalls the event.

Trust

Today, I am trusting in Democracy.

It’s a scary thought as I view political unrest among nations.  It is true of countries that boast democratically elected governments and those of other regimes.  So what gives me hope?

Normandy d-day
Town center is named after D-Day, June 6 in 1944

Democracy can and does evolve.  After World War II, when many of the French political leaders were tainted with collaboration with the Nazi’s, the country adopted its 4th constitution.  In order to limit abuse of control, power was concentrated in the legislative branches.  In a divided country, there was insufficient support to implement unpopular reforms.  War, again, led to the establishment of the 5th Republic.  The president, elected by the citizens, runs the country with consultation of the prime minister which he appoints and who is approved by the elected legislative representatives.

With the recent Yellow Jacket unrest there is talk of a 6th republic.  What is the role of the citizen?  What does representation mean in the Age of Information?  Who decides what?

My trust in democracy is like faith as described in the Bible:  confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)

I see the need for an evolving democracy.  I trust it will come about.

Gratitude

Gravestone from Normandy D-Day
Here rests in honored glory a comrade in arms known but to God.

THANK YOU to the soldiers who sacrificed their lives for you and me 75 years ago.

When our sons were young, we visited Omaha Beach, Arromanches-les-Bains, and the American Memorial and Cemetery in Normandy.  As the boys read the gravestones, they calculated the ages of the soldiers.  Many were 19,20, 21 years old.

These young men did not all fight by choice.  They left behind grieving families.  Each one was a person with a unique story…even the unidentified soldiers.

I am grateful for their sacrifice to me, an unknown stranger of a future generation.

Inspiration

During our visit to the Normandy beaches I discovered the artificial harbor at Arromanches-les-Bains.

Frankly, I had not thought much about wars and how they are fought, lost or won. In this quaint seaside town, I learned of the vital importance of logistics

  • Medical supplies for the wounded
  • Food for the soldiers
  • Gas for the tanks
  • Bullets for the guns

Because of these needs, the Germans expected the Allies to land in an established port.  The waters of Gold and Omaha Beaches were too rough to allow for unloading from tankers and transportation on land.

That’s where the Mulberry Harbor played a vital role.  The British devised a transportable harbor.  What inspirational, ingenious out-of-the-box thinking!

On the horizon, you can still see the sunken cement blocks that created the artificial harbor.

D-Day landing in Normandy
Mulberry Harbor on the horizon…and in front!

Fun

I had fun looking through old family photos to find those of our Normandy beach outings.  When I came across these I laughed out loud.  The hair!  The boys’ energy!

Stay tuned for next week.  We use the Allied philosophy on hair-cutting.  Bring the barber chez nous!

Clearly our family is not perfect…nonetheless, we are precious!

LOL

In the Spotlight

When Values Translate into Behavior

Inspiration from the Normandy D-Day that you and I can apply at work and at home.  It’s about choosing where to invest our time, attention, energy, and finances in order to reach our goals for 30 years from now.

Read on…

Precious or Perfect?  Wisdom from Notre Dame

Being good enough.  Is that perfection?  But we’ll never reach it!

Inspiration from the drama at Notre Dame on the dark sides of perfectionism.  All it takes is a spark to burst into destructive flames!

Read on…

When Values Translate into Behaviors

Clarify Values – Know What Matters

Today, we celebrate 75 years since the Allied Forces invaded France’s Normandy beaches.

When our sons were little, we traipsed them off to visit Omaha Beach, Gold Beach at Arromanches-les-Bains, and the cemeteries of those who died for a mission.  We wanted our kids to learn of the price of freedom and to consider these freedom-fighter as heroes.

D-Day beach
Mulberry (artificial) Harbor at Arromanches-les-Bains in Normandy, France

President Eisenhower, in his June 6, 1944 speech to the embarking soldiers, appeals to their love of liberty.

What do you and I live for? What gives us the courage to face the impossible? 

When we tap into our mission and our deepest values, we unleash the courage needed to step outside of our comfort zone.

According to Socrates, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

Jay Light, previous Dean of the Harvard Business School, put it this way, “We need to know where we want to be in 30 years to decide where to invest the next month.”

That’s what the Allies did when conceiving the Normandy beach landings.  Let’s gain insights for our life today.

How Values Matter

Values facilitate decision-making.

Consider even the way we organize and manage our meetings.

Steven Sels, then CEO of Primagaz, share how their values guide their weekly schedule.  He handed me a fun-to-handle foldout that dedicates one page per core corporate value: growth through performance – go for niche and market share – invest in people – keep things simple – listen, learn and react – look for the unusual – manage change.

He went on to explain that their Executive Committee meets every Monday afternoon to hear project presentations for any team in the organization.  Teams are to submit a written pitch the week before and are allotted thirty minutes of discussion with senior management.

Through these Monday sessions, the company kept innovation simple, uncovered niche market opportunities, taught teams to collaborate and to pitch ideas, and modeled listening and learning by the executive team, and were able to move fast when implementing new ideas.  They lived their values and these principles took on meaning.

Compare that to corporate meetings that last looooong, where too many people are convened, and decision-making is slow.  Fuzzy values breads lack of focus.

Make Values Crystal Clear

In my workshops, I often ask this question which brings out people’s values.

“What would we need to function as One. Great. Team?” 

“What would we need to function as One. Great. Team?” 

In a few minutes we have a list of a dozen or more ideas and ideals which run the gamut from “Respect each other” to “Be on time” to “Listen” to “Have food.” 😉

It is worth digging deeper.

Translate Values into Behaviors

We continue defining how to collaborate effectively.

“What does ‘respect’ mean to you?” 

“Respect means not interrupting.”

“So, how do handle when one person monopolizes the discussion?  They might not realize it AND we do want to hear other people’s input.”

In this point of the discussion, the group begins to understand the value of valuesBeliefs lead to behaviors.

There is more than one way to skin a cat, and there are plentiful solutions for showing mutual respect.  In the ensuing discussions, values become clearer and more meaningful.

Behaviors are “real” and visible.  When associating beliefs with specific action, the ideals become more relevant too.  It’s a virtuous circle.

Commemorating D-Day Values

Normandy d-day
Town center is named after D-Day, June 6 in 1944

The soldiers, military, resistors, and civilians who contributed to the Allied victory on the Normandy beaches translated “freedom” into the action.  They all risked (and some lost) their life for it.

  • Some climbed into a boat on a stormy night and jumped off onto mine-filled beaches.
  • Others imagined, designed, and built an artificial harbor made of concrete blocks and old tankers that they would sink at Arromanches-les-Bains. This assured the logistic supply for the troops.
  • Others spoke and listened to the coded “personal messages” on France Libre, the French resistance radio channel on the BBC from London.

Thank you.  Their decisions to invest courage and valor 75 years ago allows us to live as are today.

In what will you and I invest so that we are where we want to be in 30 years?  Let’s think about it now.  A family friend and veteran says, “If I knew I would be living this long, I would have taken better care of myself.” 

Let us live without regrets with purpose NOW.

P.S.

Sometimes sharing values looks messy.  Here is a picture of our four boys at the American Cemetery and Memorial by Omeha Beach.  We invested energy in having them stand somewhat reverently in the cemetery…clearly not in having them sit quietly at the barber shop!

Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
LOL

Photos of Arromanches by P Bracke

Tiger in cage. Safe boundaries.

Solutions Alternatives au Licenciement d’un “Employé Toxique” – 2/3

Combattre la toxicité avec des Messages en « Je »

Les employés difficiles répandent souvent leurs toxines sans que cela se voit, ce qui rend compliqué la gestion de leur impact négatif.

Dans le dernier article, nous nous sommes intéressés à parler ouvertement de ce genre de comportement. Mais que se passe-t-il si votre collègue vous évite et s’extirpe d’une réunion qui devait donner lieu à une discussion constructive ?

VOUS pouvez toujours capter leur attention de façon positive en une ou deux minutes avec un message centré sur le « Je ».

Un homme ou une femme qui s’oppose à un chef ou un collègue avec franchise et respect est une personne qui ose ! Les Messages en « Je » sont un outil pour mettre en place des barrières protectrices ou bien pour mettre à bas des barrières qui n’ont pas lieu d’être.

Parlez de VOS besoins avec le « Je »

Quand on aborde une attitude difficile chez une tierce personne, on a tendance à commencer la phrase avec « Vous ».

« Vous me mettez mal à l’aise… »

« Vous causez des problèmes quand… »

« Votre attitude… »

A QUI APPARTIENT LE PROBLEME ?

Le « Vous » implique que l’auteur du comportement a (ou bien cause) un problème. Pourtant, un comportement toxique peut servir ses objectifs.

Dans l’article précédent, nous nous sommes intéressés à l’exemple d’un chef qui touchait de façon inappropriée ses employées. Son comportement confirme qu’il pense qu’il mérite un traitement de faveur, il peut toucher… sans que cela ne le touche lui. Une plaignante peut être réaffirmée dans sa mentalité de victime, malheur à elle ! Personne ne l’aide à se délester de son fardeau.

Ce sont les autres, comme vous et moi, qui expérimentons la difficulté ; nos objectifs ne sont pas atteints. C’est le sentiment de sécurité de la femme qui est violé quand un homme choisit de toucher sa poitrine comme bon lui semble. C’est le besoin de respect du manager qui est mis à bas quand un membre de l’équipe arrive en retard aux réunions avec une tasse de café encore chaude dans la main, le tout surmonté de crème chantilly.

ASSUMEZ LA RESPONSABILITE POUR VOS BESOINS INSATISFAITS

RENDEZ-LES RESPONSABLES POUR LES CONSEQUENCES DE LEURS ACTES

Comment aborder un comportement inapproprié pour que la personne agisse en conséquence et de manière positive ?

Un message en « Je » pose les limites sans juger.

En tant qu’êtres humains et que professionnels, nous cherchons tous à se sentir à notre place et à contribuer positivement à un groupe porté par un but qui en vaut la peine. En tant que managers, nous espérons que les membres de notre équipe trouveront au travail cette communauté pleine de sens !

Quelles sont les qualités nécessaires pour rendre un environnement propice à la mise en place d’un objectif qui fait sens et d’un sentiment fort de coopération ?

  • La confiance
  • La confiance
  • La confiance
  • La sécurité, la responsabilité, l’initiative, l’engagement, la compréhension, l’acceptation, la coopération, l’accueil des différences, la joie, le rire

Des frontières claires et respectées renforcent ces qualités propices au respect.

« On fonctionne de cette manière…. Ce n’est pas comme ça que l’on procède… »

« Comme je sais que ma supérieure assure mes arrières, je suis très actif dans la recherche de moyens pour améliorer notre activité. Je pose des questions à nos clients dans le but d’avoir un retour constructif. Je propose et teste régulièrement des idées pour affiner la qualité de notre service. Je le fais car je sais qu’elle se donne beaucoup de mal pour moi aussi. »

Quand un manager s’approprie le travail de son groupe, il a franchi la limite entre travail de groupe et toxicité. La frontière a été forcée et les besoins des employés ne sont pas satisfaits.

Un message en « Je » aide à parler d’une violation d’un comportement constructif sans pour autant recourir au reproche ou à la honte.

Les Trois Parties d’un Message en « Je »

Il y a trois parties dans un message en « Je ». L’ordre n’a pas d’importance. C’est le fait de couvrir les trois éléments qui compte.

1. EXPOSEZ BRIEBVEMENT LE COMPORTEMENT INDESIRABL

« Quand vous arrivez en retard aux réunions de groupe avec une tasse de café liégeois encore chaude dans la main… »

2. PARTAGEZ VOS RESSENTIS (UN MOT PAR SENTIMENT)

« … je sens de l’injustice… »

3. REVELEZ LES CONSEQUENCES

« Parce que d’autres doivent prendre sur eux pour votre confort. Quelqu’un, moi ou un coéquipier, perd du temps à vous faire un récapitulatif de ce que l’on a déjà abordé. C’est une perte d’argent pour l’entreprise et c’est un manque de considération pour la charge de travail du collègue en question. »

OU

Exprimez ce que vous souhaiteriez

« J’aimerais que vous arriviez à l’heure. »

En ce qui concerne la partie 3, je préfère me concentrer sur les conséquences des actions perturbatrices et permettre à l’autre personne de proposer sa propre solution. Il se peut qu’ils arrivent à l’heure à la réunion avec du café pour tout le monde !  Exprimer un souhait peut paraître directif.

Un Exemple de Message en « Je »

Un professeur de management a raconté comment il avait utilisé les messages en « Je » avec les étudiants de l’université quand le groupe commençait à se dissiper. Un jeune homme en particulier, plus difficile que les autres, avait roulé des yeux, et, marmonnant quelque chose sur l’injustice de la vie, allait et venait bruyamment pendant leur temps de réunion.

Pensant, « Mais quand vont-ils grandir ?! », et sentant sa colère monter, le professeur avait décidé d’attendre le cours suivant pour réagir.

La semaine suivante, pendant une session sur le commerce mondial, il a abordé le sujet de comment saisir les fruits de la diversité en utilisant des messages en « Je ». Les gens de différentes cultures se comportent de façons qui peuvent être déstabilisantes pour les autres.

Il a partagé deux façons de traiter un problème de différence générationnelle dans sa classe :

L’option des messages en « Vous » : « Vous gênez les autres quand vous parlez pendant le cours. »

La classe a souri narquoisement. Ils avaient déjà entendu ce genre de remarques. C’est rentré dans une oreille et ressorti aussitôt par l’autre.

L’option des messages en « Je » : « Quand vous parlez pendant le cours, je me sens volé parce que le bruit supplémentaire me prive de la possibilité d’entrer en contact avec ceux de vos camarades qui sont intéressés et qui souhaitent apprendre. »

La classe s’est tue et leurs yeux se sont écarquillés. « Je pouvais les voir réfléchir… et se rendre compte qu’ils faisaient une différence dans la réussite de toute la classe », a-t-il raconté.

Des Conseils pour Réussir avec des Messages en « Je »

A. PREPAREZ-VOUS EN AMONT, AU CALME

Bonne nouvelle : un message en « Je » est rapide à dire. Si une personne qui n’a pas un bon comportement évite vos tentatives de prises de contact, un message en « Je » d’une minute attirera son attention.

Retour à la réalité : ça prend du temps à préparer.

Un des défis est d’identifier une émotion appropriée au travail.

Quand on dépasse nos limites, notre cerveau passe en mode combat, fuite ou bien arrêt. En fuite ou en arrêt, on ne rétorque pas quelque chose sur le coup. En mode combat par contre, c’est le cas… et avec des mots que l’on veut blessants.

« Je me sens violé… ridiculisé… détruit… usurpé… »

Ces émotions sont réelles et valides. En même temps, ces mots plein de jugement peuvent se retourner contre vous.

Quand notre cerveau se met en mode combat, on répond avec des mots que l’on veut blessants.  Se calmer nous permet d’avoir de nouveau accès à un langage constructif.

Donnez-vous le temps de vous calmer après avoir été confronté à une situation toxique avant d’y répondre.

B. SOYEZ PRECIS

Rappelez une situation toxique qui a eu lieu.

Evitez d’employer les mots « toujours…. » et « jamais…. »

Considérez ces questions :

  • Qu’est-ce qui a été fait ou dit ?
  • Comment vous êtes-vous sentis après ? Comment les autres ont-ils réagis ?
  • Qu’est ce qui a été le déclencheur négatif ?
  • A quoi vous attendiez-vous ?
  • En quoi le comportement actuel diffère-t-il des actions souhaitées ?

Essayez de définir l’écart qui pose problème. Il est utile d’identifier les qualités de l’environnement de travail que vous souhaitez pour le rendre constructif. Vous êtes-vous heurté à de la moquerie alors que vous recherchiez de la confiance ? Êtes-vous relégué à des tâches subalternes alors que vous souhaitez apprendre ?

C. UTILISEZ UN LANGAGE FACTUEL

Quand vous décrivez un comportement, remplacez le vocabulaire subjectif par une description neutre.

« Quand vous insultiez Jane… » invite à une réponse défensive.

« Quand vous avez dit à Jane qu’elle ressemblait à… » relate des faits.

D. REDIGEZ DES EBAUCHES

Plus votre message en « Je » sera clair, plus vous aurez de chance de recevoir une réponse positive.

Il se peut que vous n’ayez qu’une minute pour capter l’attention de « l’employé toxique ».

Les messages en « Je », comme tout nouveau langage, demande de l’entraînement. Imaginez que vous êtes en train de parler à un représentant d’une autre planète (D’une-Ville-Qui-Pense-Vraimeeeeent-Différemment-De-Moi). Essayez votre message en vous entrainant devant votre miroir.

Attendez-vous à rédigez plusieurs brouillons… de chacune des trois parties : le comportement, vos sentiments, et les conséquences.

Relisez. Est-ce que les sentiments sont en lien avec les conséquences ? Si ce n’est pas le cas, repensez à ce qui vous a gêné, et réessayez.

Pensez à votre message en « Je » comme un pitch court. Qui doit attirer l’attention. Qui invite à la collaboration. 10 brouillons !

E. CHOISISSEZ DES OCCASIONS

Partager et recevoir des messages en « Je » implique de la vulnérabilité et du courage. Utilisez ces ressources précieuses avec parcimonie. Il serait dommage de vous créer une réputation de quelqu’un qui ne fait que souligner les problèmes.

« Quand tu laisses le stylo ouvert sans son bouchon, je… »

« Quand tu prends le dernier Kinder à la cafétéria, je… »

Se Laisser Être Surpris par la Réponse

Certaines personnes incluent un autre élément au message en « Je » : une demande pour une action précise. J’aime croire que la personne réagira efficacement.

Le professeur d’université a également raconté « la fin de l’histoire ».

« La semaine suivante, je suis arrivé en classe en avance et l’élève le plus perturbateur était déjà là. Je suis allé le voir, lui ai fait remarquer sa ponctualité et lui ai dit à quel point j’appréciais son effort de comportement. Il a souri, eu un petit rire et a dit « Ouais. Je pense que c’est la première fois cette année ! »

Il a contribué positivement tout au long de la classe. Alors qu’il s’en allait, je lui ai de nouveau dit que j’avais remarqué sa participation pertinente. Il s’est exclamé « Et, vous savez, j’ai écouté alors même que la fille derrière moi n’arrêtait pas de me planter son stylo dans le dos pendant tout le cours. Je ne me mettrai plus devant elle ! »

Je pensais que c’était une personne toxique. Il m’a prouvé le contraire. Son comportement avait été répréhensible mais il s’est montré capable de contributions positives même dans des circonstances difficiles. Il a surpassé toutes mes attentes. »

C’est pourquoi j’aime présenter un message en « Je » et permettre à l’autre de me surprendre avec leur propre réponse constructive. Ça arrive dans la plupart des cas.

… Et si les difficultés persistent, alors il est temps d’adopter encore une autre méthode. Nous en parlerons la semaine prochaine.

Lire : Qu’est-ce qu’un employé toxique ?

Lire : Solutions alternatives au licenciement d’un employé toxique – 1/3

Tiger in cage. Safe boundaries.

Alternatives to Firing a “Toxic Employee” – 2/3

Counter Toxicity with “I”Messages

Challenging employees often diffuse their toxins under the radar which makes the negative impact difficult to contain.

Last post we looked at getting the behavior out in the open.  What if your colleague avoids you and slithers out of setting a meeting for constructive discussion?

YOU can still positively catch their attention in one or two minutes with an “I” Message.

A man or a woman who stands up to a boss or colleague with forthrightness and respect has balls!  “I” Messages are a tool to position protective boundaries or remove unnecessary fences.

Address YOUR Needs with “I” Messages

When we address the challenging behavior of someone else, the tendency is to begin the sentence with “You.”

“You make me feel uncomfortable….”

“You cause problems when….”

“Your attitude…”

To Whom Does the Problem Belong?

This implies that “You” has (or is causing) a problem.  However, toxic behavior may serve the perpetrator’s purposes.

In the previous article, we looked at an example of a boss who inappropriately touched female employees.  His behavior confirms his belief in deserving preferential treatment; he can touch…without it touching him.  A complainer can be confirmed in her victim mentality; woe is she!  No one helps her by removing her burden.

It’s other people, like you and me, that experience the difficulty; our goals are not met.  It is the woman’s sense of security that is violated when a man chooses to touch her chest at his whim.  It is the manager’s need for respect that is undermined when a team member arrives late for meetings with a cup of warm coffee topped off with fresh whipped cream.

Take Responsibility for YOUR Unmet Need
Give Responsibility for THE Consequences of THEIR Actions

How to address inappropriate behavior so that the person acts on it positively?

An “I” message establishes limits without making judgements.

As humans and as professionals, we each seek to belong and to contribute positively to a group with a worthwhile purpose.   As managers, we hope our team members will find that meaningful community at work!

What are the differentiating qualities of an environment which builds meaningful purpose (the kind we all dream of finding at work) and an engaged sense of partnership?

  • Trust
  • Trust
  • Trust
  • Security, Responsibility, Initiative, Commitment, Understanding, Acceptance, Cooperation, Welcome of differences, Joy, Laughter

Clear and respected boundaries foster these respect-building qualities.

“We act this way….  This is not what we do….”

“Because I know my manager has my back, I am on the lookout for ways to improve our business.  I ask our customers more insight-seeking questions.  I regularly propose and test out ideas to tweak our service quality.  I do it because she is going out of her way for me too.”

When a manager takes credit for his group’s work, he has crossed over the line from teamwork to toxic.  The boundary has been broached and employee needs are unmet.

An “I” Message helps communicate a breach in constructive behavior without resorting to blame or shame.

The Three Parts of an “I” Message

There are three-parts to an “I” message.  The order is not important.  Covering all three elements matters.

1. Briefly state the undesired behavior

“When you arrive late in team meetings with a steaming cup of coffee with fresh whipped cream in your hands….”

2. Share your feelings (one word per feeling)

“…I feel resentful…”

3. Express the consequences

“because others suffer for your comfort.  Someone, me or a team mate, spends extra time to bring you up to date with what we already covered.  It is a waste of company money and a lack of consideration for the team member’s workload.”

OR

Express what you wish

“I would like you to arrive on time.”

With regards to Part 3, I prefer to focus on the consequences of the disruptive actions and allow the other person to come up with his own solution.  They might and come to the meeting on time with fresh coffee for everyone!  Expressing a wish can sound directive.

“I” Message Example

A management professor shared how he used “I” messages with university students when the group became unfocused.  People talked without listening to each other.  The group became dissipated.  One particularly challenging young man rolled his eyes and, mumbling over the unfairness of life, noisily moved his about during their meeting time.

Thinking, “When will they grow up?!” and feeling his temper rising, the professor decided to wait for the next class to respond.

The following week, during a session on global business, he addressed the topic of reaping the benefits of diversity by using “I” messages.  People from different cultures behave in ways that could be unsettling to the other.

He shared two ways to address an issue of generational disparity in their class:

Option “You” Message: “You are causing problems for others by talking in class.”

The class smirked.  They had heard similar comments before.  It went in one ear and out the other.

Option “I” Message: “When you speak in class while I am teaching, I feel robbed because the additional noise takes away the opportunity for me to connect with interested classmates and for them to learn.”

The class went silent and eyes popped open.  “I could see them thinking…and realizing they made a difference in the success of the entire class!” he shared.

Tips for Success with “I” Messages

1. Prepare in Advance, When Calm

Good news:  An “I” Message is quick to say.   If the person with disruptive behavior dodges attempts to connect, a one-minute “I” Message will catch his attention.

Reality check: It takes time to prepare.

A big challenge lies in identifying a work-appropriate emotion.

When our boundaries are crossed, our brain goes into fight, flight, or freeze mode.  In flight or freeze, we do not retort on the spot.  In fight state we do… with words intended to wound.
“I feel violated…ridiculed…crushed…usurped…”

The emotions are real and valid.  At the same time, these judgement-filled words can backfire.

When our brains are in fight mode, we respond with words intended to hurt.  Calming down allows us to re-access helpful language.

Give yourself time to calm down from experiencing a toxic situation before responding to it.

2. Be Specific

Bring to mind an actual toxic situation.

Avoid “always _____” and “never ______”

Consider these questions:

  • What was said or done?
  • How did it make you feel? How did others respond?
  • What was the negative trigger?
  • What were you expecting?
  • How does the actual behavior differ from the desired actions?

Try and define the bothersome gap. It is helpful to identify the qualities of a constructive workplace you seek to build. Were you hoping for trust and found mockery instead?  Are you seeking learning and are relegated menial tasks?

3. Use factual language

When describing the behavior, replace judgmental language with a neutral description.

When you insulted Jane…” invites a defensive response.

“When you told Jane that she looked like …” relays facts.

4. Prepare Written Drafts

The clearer your “I” Message, the more likely it will invite a positive response.

You might only have one minute to catch the attention of the “toxic employee.”

“I” Messages, like any new language, takes practice.  Imagine you are speaking to a representative from another planet (Thinks-Waaaaay-Differently-From-Me-Ville).  Try your message out by speaking at your image in the mirror.

Expect to write several drafts…of each of the three parts: the behavior, your feelings, and the consequences.

Review.  Do the feelings relate to the consequences?  If not, reconsider what bothered you and try again.

Think of your “I” Message like an elevator pitch.  Attention-grabbing.  Inviting collaboration.  10 rough drafts!

5. Choose Occasions

Sharing and receiving “I” Messages involves vulnerability and courage.  Use these precious resources, wisely.  It would be a shame to create a reputation of fault-seeking.

“When you leave the cap off the pen….”

“When you take the last Kinder at the cafeteria…”

Trust to Respond

Some people include an additional element in the “I” Message:  a request for a specific action.  I like to trust the person to respond productively.

The university professor above shared “the rest of the story.”

“The following week, I arrived in class early and the student with the most disruptive behavior was already there.  I went up to him, noticed his timeliness, and shared how I appreciated his effort for punctuality.  He smiled, chuckled and remarked, ‘Yeah.  I think this is the first time this year!’

He contributed positively throughout the class.  As he was leaving, again I commented noticing his helpful participation.  He exclaimed, ‘And, you know, I paid attention even though the student behind me was sticking her pen in my back during the entire class.  I’m not sitting in front of her again!’

I had thought he was a toxic person.  He taught me otherwise.  His behavior had been reprehensible but he proved capable of positive contributions even under adverse circumstances.  He performed beyond my expectations.”

That’s why I like to present an “I” Message and allow the other person to surprise me with their own constructive response.  It happens in most situations.

…and if challenges persist, then it’s time to seek yet a different approach.  We’ll address that next week.

Read: “What is a Toxic Employee”?

Read: Alternatives to Firing Toxic Employees – Acknowledge the challenge…and your role in it

Business man with gas mask. Toxic behavior.

What is a “Toxic Employee”?

Last week we began a series on managing “toxic employees.”

One reader inquired, “What, exactly, is a toxic employee?”

It is such a great (and obvious) question, that we’re addressing it now before going on to additional constructive communication tools to develop collaboration with these colleagues.

What is a “Toxic Employee”?

“Toxic employee” is one of those phrases that gets thrown around without clarification.

People are not toxic.  Behaviors are.

People get labeled according to their behaviors.

“She’s a high potential.”

“He’s totally toxic.”

Read about labels that create a disconnect with listeners.

worldview-beliefs-values-behaviors icebergOur actions stem from our beliefs and attitudes.  You and I operate according to our conscious and unconscious convictions.

Just because a person bravely stands up to a bully does not make her a brave person in all circumstances.  She sure acted with courage in this instance. This strengthens her and others’ confidence that she could do so under even more challenging conditions too.

Similarly, someone who trips over his feet is not a klutz.  He acts clumsy.

Who we are is more than how we act.

Mindset Matters

The purpose of this series on toxic behavior at work is to present solutions which foster lasting, constructive behavior.

We do so by addressing the beliefs behind the behaviors.

Fixed and Growth Mindsets

Dr. Carol Dweck, professor at Columbia University, identified two underlying attitudes towards growth.  These attitudes either extend or constrain our view of ourselves and of others.

People with the Fixed Mindset believe that people have qualities and they reach a maximum capability level and cannot go further.  Like our height.  My brother, a longstanding adult, is 6’2”.  He won’t grow taller.

Folk with a Growth Mindset consider that we can change throughout life.  Like muscle.  My brother joined a gym. His biceps are more pronounced than a few months ago!

Moving Between Mindsets

Through our interactions with people we can encourage either of these mindsets.

Labels move people towards the fixed mindset. This is true whether it’s a positive or negative label.  Once identified as toxic, always problematic.  Once considered high-potential, always more is expected of them.

I seek to orient people towards the growth mindset and do so through constructive communication tools that provide choices within clear limits. This approach to communication renders people responsible for their actions and invites collaboration and mutual respect.

These tools are founded on the psychological principles of Dr. Alfred Adler and have been confirmed by neuroscience.  For example, Dweck describes that people with a fixed mindset focus on declarative statements.  “This is the way it is.  Period.”  Growth mindset folk entertain questions.  “What will it take to move from here to there?”

Dweck asserts that people can change mindsets.  The realization that these two worldviews exist has helped many recognize their fixed mindset tendencies and to intentionally focus on developing more of a growth perspective.

Toxic behavior is often a symptom of a fixed mindset.  The person believes his label is superior to another’s.  They therefore deserve special treatment.  (They can be a bigger victim too.)

The purpose of this series on toxic behavior at work is to present growth mindset solutions to

  • Avoid falling into a fixed mindset trap
  • Invite challenging employees to grow
    … thanks to relationship tools that are simultaneously firm and kind
  • Be in expectation that the colleague can and will progress

Toxic Behaviors at Work

When a person spreads rumors, it’s poisoning the atmosphere.

When a boss misuses power, he is killing trust.

I have noticed two categories of particularly venomous behaviors:  undermining colleagues and expecting favored treatment.  These share a worldview of needing to be “superior to others.”

Here is how they might be expressed at work:

Undermining colleagues

  • Stealing ideas and taking the credit for oneself
  • Spreading rumors
    “Too bad Stacey lacks confidence.”
  • Focusing on faults and publicizing them
    “Here comes Joe who makes spills coffee on his pants.”
  • Initiating power struggles, as in passive-aggression
    “Too bad you did not take into account this information before making the decision.” They then present data that would have been helpful earlier.

Expecting favored treatment

  • Abusing power, no matter the level of responsibility
  • Judging others for behaviors they consider acceptable for themselves
    “Sam is so irresponsible for being late. I, however, have a legitimate excuse.”
  • Requesting special favors
    “I should get two presents at the holiday party because …” (it happened)
  • Complaining

These behaviors leave a sour taste in the mouth.  The value of people has been sullied.

Creating an Environment where People Grow

People can change.  Colleagues with toxic behavior can become collaborative team members (and visa versa).  I have personally seen it happen on numerous occasions.  The name SoSooper stands for becoming super through bloopers.  By learning from our professional and personal mistakes, we prosper in making a living and in life.

Change first

THE EFFECTIVE WAY OF CHANGING OTHER PEOPLE IS TO FIRST CHANGE YOURSELF.

Imagine a tennis ball bouncing against a wall.  When you throw it repeatedly the same way, the ball will bounce back in a predictable fashion.  How to get the ball to bounce differently?

  • Change the ball
  • Change the way you throw
  • Change the wall

Changing other people is like trying to alter the shape of the ball.  It means constraining it into another shape, like force-wrapping it in tape.  It works AS LONG AS THE PRESSURE LASTS.  It’s uncomfortable for the person being compacted (and they resist), and it’s a pain to continuously apply pressure.

Create growth opportunities

The relationship tools in this series (and throughout my blog and in my trainings) present ways to change the way we toss a ball.  We act differently SO THAT the person with unacceptable behavior faces the responsibility and results of his acts.  These tools create learning situations which invite a constructive response from the offending party.

In the previous post, we looked at addressing toxic behavior by acknowledging a rift in the relationship, admitting we could have a role in it, and having them recognize that they share a responsibility in it too.  Those tools were not about telling them about their faults.  “Something is wrong with our interactions (not with you).  Tell me how you understand the situation.”

This approach demands, in a firm and kind manner, that the other person account for his behavior.

Read: Alternatives to Firing Toxic Employees – Acknowledge the challenge…and your role in it

When we change our behavior, it impacts multiple relationships. When we stop complaining to other colleagues about someone else’s toxic behavior, we open up to creativity and become more productive with all our team members.  The environment flourishes.

Toxic Example

Consider this actual situation.  One boss, in the guise of being helpful, would touch women inappropriately.  When they were in private, he would say with concern, “You have a thingee on your sweater,” and reach over and pluck a crumb (real or imagined?) from her chest.

He’s the boss.  It’s her bosom. That’s an abuse of power.  It’s also difficult to react to.

How to respond to unacceptable behavior in a way that respects yourself (setting clear limits) and respects the other person (not stooping to shame and blame behavior)?

Fixed Mindset Responses

She wanted to exclaim, “You jerk!”

That labels him and more firmly instills him in a fixed mindset.

She could respond with a clear command, “Please keep your hands off my chest.”

He is surely prepared for such a reaction and, with assumed hurt, would assure that he only wanted to help.  HE is the victim for having been misunderstood.

Toxin diffusers worm their way out of responsibility.

Take Responsibility & Render Responsible

Consider this way of addressing the delicate dilemma with an “I” Message, one of the constructive communication tools that effectively establishes limits and invites the offender to a more respectful behavior.  (“I” Messages are the topic of the next post.)  Here is how it could play out:

A few days later, when the woman has had time to gather her thoughts, she is ready to set limits and point to positive collaboration. “When you plucked that crumb off my sweater, I felt uncomfortable and perplexed because I consider my chest to be a private space and yet our relationship is professional.”

Pause.

“I feel more comfortable when there is a clear distinction between the two.”

The disruptive behavior has been contained without judging the person as toxic.

 

She cannot control his response, and we will address this further next week.  In the meantime, please leave questions or comments below.

Read: Alternatives to Firing Toxic Employees – Acknowledge the challenge…and your role in it

Toxic employee is like a slithery snake

Alternatives to Firing a Toxic Employee – 1/3

Consider the case of a team with a toxic employee.  I am coaching the manager who says, “I told him right out what is not working, and he keeps doing it.”

The manager is being honest with feedback.  And yet, the situation perpetuates itself…even worsens.

This post is the first in a three-part series to present tools to turn around situations with bad-attitude employees.

The Case of the Toxic Team Member

This young employee, let’s call him George, had been assigned to a team for a specific project.  George’s previous work had been well enough appreciated, his skills were valuable, and this project needed manpower.

The manager expected higher quality output than what he was getting from George, so he let him know it.  Honestly. And with respectful language.

“You have got to be more thorough.”

“Be responsible.  Take initiative.”

“Don’t wait for me to specify what work you need to do and how.”

“There are mistakes in this document!”

Instead of improving his attitude and effort, George withdrew when in front of the manager and talked behind his back.

manager employee toxic relationship. Vicious cycleRumors got back to the manager who trusted George less and less.  He was on the lookout for occasions where George underperformed.  People find what they seek; the manager identified imperfect work, and George received increasing critique and diffused more resentment throughout the team.

Vicious circle.  Toxic employee.  Suffering team.

The Manager is Honest and Respectful.  Isn’t he right?!

Yes, the manager clearly pointed out the areas of underperformance without disparaging the junior employee, George.

Could he have done anything else? Yes.

The Trust Balance on Overdraft

Let me use a metaphor to explain:  Credit

When you pay off your debt, the balance becomes ZERO.  Not negative.  Yet not positive either.

When the manager pointed out the faults, he may have been removing negative behaviors.  It’s like he brought “development potential” up…up to zero!  Yet, the employee still totters on the brink of demotivation and disengagement.

The manager’s goal is to generate a positive performance AND positive return on the investment in talent.  Pointing out the negatives is not the same as investing in skill development.

There are constructive communication tools which BOTH set limits for expected results AND SIMULTANEOUSLY encourage and engage the employee. Before considering termination, try one of these less costly and potentially high return approaches to bringing a slacking employee up to speed.

  1. Acknowledge the challenge…and your role in it (this post)
  2. Use “I” Messages
  3. Schedule frequent feedback

This post is the first in a series of three where we address tools to encourage employees.

Acknowledge the challenge…and your role in it

How can one have a conflict with only one person?

By definition, a clash involves a minimum of two parties.  It is rare that with humans one person is totally correct and the other one is completely 100% in neglect.

On the principle, the boss is most probably correct.  Performance needs improvement.

And yet…How was the tone of voice?  Or the clarity of expectations?  How many times do we spout off requests while rushing to a meeting?!

I had a situation where an employee was mourning the death of a friend from overdose and the boss had just had a fight with his teen.  In their respective hypersensitive states, latent tension was exposed.  They clashed, and it led to subsequent coaching.

An outright confrontation has the advantage of bringing the differences out in the open.  It’s a costly move for everyone.  Angry outbursts at work leave a mark on everyone’s reputation.

Here are more trust-building ways to address a conflictual relationship.

Inquire & listen

“I wonder if we are understanding each other as effectively as we could. How would you rate our communication on a scale of 1 (ineffective) to 10 (full engagement on both of our parts)?”

Find ways to have your employee speak and name the challenge.  They are savvy at slithering into a victim mentality.  Avoid the trap with this type of question which respectfully yet firmly has the employee face his responsibility for his attitude and behavior.

A ranking provides a starting point for exposing differences.  If they respond with a “9” and you think the cooperation runs at “2”, it’s an opportunity for each of you to express your expectations of effective collaboration.

“What does a “9” entail, and can you give me an example of when this happened?”

Think of it like deciphering an optical illusion where both of you see different images in the same brush strokes on the paper.

Read: See Through Someone Else’s Eyes

Set a meeting with just this topic on the agenda.

Separate personal and professional issues

“As a manager, I don’t see us working well together to reach performance objectives. As a person just like you, I would like work to be a motivating and pleasant part of my life.  I feel frustrated (choose your emotion) with the way we work together.  I don’t see us reaching either of those goals.  When can we set a time to discuss what you want from this job and what you expect from your work relationships and I can share mine too?”

Many young employees seek society at work.  Their work used to be school and that’s where they made friends. Help them understand that performance issues differ from their interest as an individual.

By having the employee “present his case” you again have him face the responsibility of his own attitude.

Give the employee a respectful way to voice objections

“You and I seem to be viewing the same situation from very different perspectives. When can we sit down, and you can tell me your understanding of our project requirements and of our teamwork?  At 9:00 a.m. or after lunch?”

We managers give feedback regularly.  Often in little chunks.  We drop by his desk on the way to a meeting.  We call him into our office, say our stuff, and dismiss him.

(In the third post of this series we will look at a way to encourage self-evaluation and focus feedback on ways to progress.)

When are employees invited to share their disagreements with their boss?

Consider this an opportunity to model the kind of behavior and respect you would like to receive from him.

Switch Perspectives

The above questions invite both manager and employee to switch perspectives.

The employee is challenged to get out of a “victim” mindset where the world owes him favors.  The manager gives him responsibility for his actions.

Each of these examples also acknowledges that the manager, may not have a 360° understanding of the situation.  The more responsibility one gains, the more difficult it is to know what happens lower in the organizational structure.

The boss has the power to give a raise, to promote (and to dictate who works on weekends).  Team members watch for signs from their manager that indicates they may disagree without negative repercussions.

That young employee’s adverse behavior might just be an indication that a sensitive subject merit being addressed.

I have learned what I do well and what to improve in my leadership style through such discussions.  It’s not always pleasant.  It has been beneficial.

Your Invitation to Disagree

I presented these concepts to Harvard Business School alumni.  Some espoused them immediately: “It’s so obvious that I forgot to think of it.  Like fish not recognizing water.”

Others took the opposite stance, “You are letting the wolves take over.”

What is your take on dealing with a potentially toxic employee?  Comment below or send me a message.

 

Next week, we’ll explore “I” Messages.  Stay tuned.

Cover photo by David Clode on Unsplash