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
On a sampan in the Mekong river

Express Your Values and Give Them Purpose

There is a difference between saying the right words to talk about organizational values and culture and giving meaning to words through actions.

How can we identify an organization’s values?  Listen for phrases that get repeated in daily life.

What describes your culture?  How are these values translated from words into actions that help the community thrive?

Organizational Values Revealed

– Examples from Traveling Abroad

During a recent trip to Vietnam I learned much about their culture and, through my reactions, I also discovered more about myself.  These insights are revealed through essential words: some that are important to me (expressing my values) and others that specifically apply in Vietnam (a country is an organization too).

(Scroll to the end for photos.)

Thank You

When traveling abroad I make the effort to master the local version of “Thank you.” 

In Vietnamese it is written cảm ơn.”  I’m still uncertain how to pronounce it since, in their tone-based language, there are five different ways to articulate the letters C.A.M.  Each of these pronouciations represents a unique definition ranging from feeling to chin to forbidden.

Instead of sharing appreciation I often mumbled an embarrassed, “cmmmmn”.

My reaction contradicted my values!  My life objective is to learn and I express openness to growth with words of appreciation.   My mumbling focused on me rather than learning from others.  In Vietnam I found my way to express gratitude for growth:  a “thumbs up” or a handshake did the job.

Hello, Young Man

We visited with expat friends who each spontaneously expressed their you-need-to-know-this-word-in-Vietnamese.  These are culture-specific terms which make sense in the culture and which help those on the outside make sense of the culture.

“I hear ‘em oi’ (pronounced ‘aim oy’) 100 times a day to get someone’s attention,” reported a friend working in a male professional environment.

“Em oi” means “May I have your attention, young fellow.”  “Em” refers to the youthfulness which even more mature gentlemen consider a compliment.  “Oi” refers to creating a connection.  I see you and please see me too.

“Em oi” launches an exchange.

Enough!

Another friend, a woman who faced the daily price negotiation for bananas, school supplies, and even medicine expressed her appreciation for ways to stop an exchange, to set limits.

“KHÔNG” (pronounced “hong” with a severe tone of voice) means “ENOUGH!”  No more haggling over prices.  No more following me around.  Let. Me. Be.

 

Isn’t it fascinating how these chosen words speak volumes both about ourself the culture in which they are used?!

Behind each of these selected lies individual and cultural values

  • life-long learning through appreciation
  • the search for attention
  • a desire to stay young
  • keeping boundaries

Organizational Values Revealed

– Words at Work

Let’s explore some common words heard in organizations.  We all agree on their worth, and yet many people experience a gap between the concept and the context (implementation).

What values describe your corporate culture?  How do they impact members’ actions and decision-making?

Teamwork

Everyone believes in teamwork.  And yet some colleagues miss feeling a sense of belonging.  How is commitment to teamwork expressed in your organization?  Test yourself with these questions:

  • How often are team meetings held?
  • How much of the agenda is set by team members…or is it controlled by the manager?
  • What element of compensation relies on individual performance vs. on team results?
  • How do you learn and celebrate together?
  • Do team members eat together?… or do colleagues limit their interactions to work-related issues?

“The team that eats together stays together.”

Innovation

Many corporate mission statements include the word “innovation.”  Let’s unpack that.

Creativity and discovery require experimentation.  Testing the unknown means experiencing failure.  ERROR?!  MISTAKES?!

  • When was the last time an error occurred in your team?
    What happened before, during, and after?
  • How long are you willing to keep trying before reaching desired results?
  • How is learning from errors shared throughout the organization?
  • What is the career path of the top managers? How do the C-Suite leaders model learning from mistakes?
  • What happens to the manager who only shares successes?

“Never get discouraged if you fail. Learn from it. Keep trying. Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”
– Thomas Edison

Open-minded

When a culture favors open minds, there exist safe spaces for people to express different points of view without fear.

  • What is the role of brainstorming and of laying out ideas without judgement in your team?
  • How well do people listen to each other…or are most folk preparing their own response before seeking understanding?!
  • What benchmarks are used to keep you and your team oriented towards growth and improvement?
  • How diverse is your team: in gender, race, nationality, age, and more?
  • Whose ideas get selected?

“A bend in the road is not the end of the road…Unless you fail to make the turn.”
Helen Keller (blind, deaf, & dumb.  Prolific author.  1880 – 1968)

 

Teamwork, innovation, open-mindedness, and every one of our corporate values gains meaning by how it is put into practice.  What a leadership opportunity!

Organizational Values Revealed

– Practices in Personal Life

Just as your team at work thrives on belonging to a group and contributing to a purpose with values, your family and personal entourage do too.

Teamwork & Togetherness

If you seek family togetherness, how often do you enjoy family time?  Is it regularly planned and marked on the family calendar? When do you eat together? How does each person help with chores?

Put into practice.

Are your parents ageing?  Plan a weekly phone call. Every week.

Does your household include teens?  Schedule a smart-phone-free family meal.  Generate interest by inviting them to choose the menu.  Make it a time to coordinate calendars so that you can prevent misunderstandings (“Where is the party and what time will you be back?” rather than correcting them (“Where were you until the wee hours last night?”).

Innovation & Creativity

Transmit creativity and a spirit of experimentation in the kids through your response to their mistakes, whether it’s spilled milk, leaving a mess, and (mis)use of money.

Teach them calmly (!) to clean up.  No lound voices needed.  The kids will learn a valuable skill and, if they don’t like it, they’ll find ways to make cleaning faster or more fun … or how to avoid making a mess in the first place.

As a family, brainstorm ways to keep the living room welcoming…and ways to enjoy it together!  When did you last sit down for a card game or a movie night?

Help kids find ways to earn money: bake cakes to order for the neighbors, take care of younger kids or keep company to elderly folk, tutor younger children in schoolwork.

(FYI, we did not pay children to do regular chores.  Helping with the family is part of togetherness.  We all participate in making home a nice place to be.)

Open Kids’ Minds

Opportunities abound to stretch children’s comfort zones.

  • Invite adults to join in a family meal. The children will learn more about you and the world.
  • Try a discovery menu. Have you tasted Moroccan tagine, Vietnamese spring rolls, Indian curry, or French steak tartare?  They don’t have to like it.  The purpose is to discover something new.
  • Plan a vacation in an exotic country!

Next Step

“We have found that companies need to speak a common language, because some of the suggested ways to harness disruptive innovation are seemingly counter-intuitive. If companies don’t have that common language, it is hard for them to come to consensus on a counter-intuitive course of action.”
– Clayton Christensen, professor Harvard Business School

Identify those most important words for your organization and translate them into every day actions.

This is constructive communication in practice and it is my area of expertise.

Can I help you transmit teamwork, innovation, openness and other values throughout your organization?   Discover the culture-strengthening workshops here or contact me directly to discuss your specific situation.

“Hẹn sớm gặp lại.” (Vietnamese)

“A bientôt.” (French)

Let’s be in touch.

 

Photos from our Trip to Vietnam

Gorgeous and diverse scenery.  “Em oi!  Cảm ơn!”  (Young fellow, Thank you)

  • Thanks FOR the opportunity to discover these treasures, sufficient business success to finance travel and family memory-making, the beauty of the earth and its energizing impact…
  • Thanks TO the generations past that labored to level the rice paddies and discover the caves, the creative force in the universe, the resilient Vietnamese people who warmly welcome visitors from previously warring nations…

Sapa rice terraces in Vietnam
Terraced rice paddies in Sapa.

Phong Nha Paradise Cave in Vietnam
Ginormous Paradise Cave goes on for 30 km underground.

Ha Long Bay in stormy weather
Ha Long Bay in the rain. Monsoon season.

 

Delectable foods and culinary adventures at the market, some of which I could only handle from a distance.

“Không!”  No squiggling squid from a bucket for me today…no matter what the price.

Outdoor food market in Vietnam
No fixed prices. We negotiate with fingers, showing cash, or typing numbers on smart phones.

“Không!” Enough trying new foods.  We ordered boneless chicken and were served chicken feet (albeit deboned)!  “Em oi!  Beef please! Cảm ơn!”

Boneless chicken claw Vietnames delicacy
Trying to be local. We have a looooong way to go before savoring chicken claws!

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

Positive Discipline workshop

Photo Reportage of a SoSooper Workshop with INSEAD Alumni

Do you face challenging behaviors or difficult people in your life?

“All the world is queer (odd) save thee and me,
and even thou art a little queer (weird).” – Robert Owen

Relationships are tough and take work. 

It’s true for everyone…whether you have an MBA from INSEAD or graduated from the school of Street Smart or are too young for studies.  Little issues escalate into big annoyances.

  • Your manager “bosses” around, imposing demands without seeking your input
  • Your colleagues are on the phone during your presentations
  • Your partner treats you like a child, “Don’t forget to______”
  • Your child repeatedly misbehaves…. again!!

There are two ways to handle such situations.

Either one party wins and the other loses (Win-Lose “negotiations”)….

Or no-one loses, and everyone gains. (Win-Win results)

It’s sooooo much easier said than done.  That’s why I lead workshops to transmit skills to transform challenges into opportunities for growth for everyone.

Science-Based Relationship Tools

How does one travel from challenges to opportunities?  With relationship tools.  You and I tend to use the same tools over and again.

“I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” – Abraham Maslow

The SoSooper workshops teach an array of relationship-building tools which build mutual respect, a sense of belonging, and the desire to positively contribute to the group.

These science-based tools are based on the work of Dr. Alfred Adler (author of Individual Psychology), Dr. Jane Nelsen (PhD in Education) and psychologist Lynn Lott.  Nelsen and Lott designed the Positive Discipline approach of learning activities which engage the mind, body, and emotions

Photo Reportage of our Interactive Learning Workshop

These INSEAD alumni participated in the conference, Introduction to Positive Discipline for Parents.  I lead numerous workshops for very different audiences, especially for groups of professionals.  With a team of other trainers, we adapt the strong relationship principles to the organizational context.

Discover Also: SoSooper Workshops & Conferences for Teams at Work

Enjoy this glimpse of our event!

Welcome & Context

When speaking with parents who are also professionals, I introduce parenting as leadership development.  We aim to bring up children who will sooner than later be someone’s colleagues.   We also deeply desire that our kids be leaders of their life, that they have the skills and capabilities to thrive.

Notice on the photos how the group is fully attentive.  No phones in sight!

INSEAD alumni at Positive Discipline conference

Inviting Contribution

As humans, we each have the fundamental needs to belong and to contribute.  I put this into practice as of the start, inviting the group to contribute with chores to make our evening conference flow smoothly.  We made a list of Jobs (scribe, clean up, photographer…).  Once the list completed, I invited folk to volunteer for a task.

Silence!

One of the principles of Adlerian Psychology and Positive Discipline is to be FIRM and KIND simultaneously.  The group presented me with the opportunity to model that behavior.

Smile.  “These Jobs still apply and we still need volunteers for each.  Who would like to choose what?” Wait expectantly.

One by one, people stepped up to contribute.  Thanks to each of you.

Oftentimes when a leader assigns a job to someone else, there remains a follow-up period.  It’s like selling the need to do the work. This happens in the office as well as in the home.  Since people volunteered, there was no more need for a convince-to-do-the-job effort.

Engaging group at SoSooper workshop

Set the GPS

Next, as a group, we created two lists.  In our case, we focused on behaviors related to our children.  In a professional context we would focus on behaviors and goals for our team culture:

  • Challenging behaviors of our children
  • Talents & Life Skills we want them to develop

No need to prompt with these.  Suggestions flow, and fast.  Difficult behaviors include perpetual negotiation, defiance, rivalry…  Capabilities to develop include self-esteem, autonomy, desire for excellence, sense of humor….

These lists represent our GPS.  The challenges represent our starting position, today’s situation.  These issues create the invitation to act differently so that, instead of reacting to misbehavior, we proactively train in appropriate conduct and demeanor.

Setting GPS at Positive Discipline workshop

Discovering a Tool

Much of the learning is done by allowing participants to discover the perspective of the other party, in this case, of their child.

Each of the fifty relationship tools presented in my full training programs is presented through a unique interactive exercise which, like this one, engages the whole person.  Instead of theory, participants discover the learning principles for themselves.  “Aha!”

Act 1

In this activity, ten folk played the role of parents and one father played the role of a child.  The “parents” gave the “child” instructions.

“Put your shoes on.” “Brush your teeth.” “Put the phone down.” “Stop fighting with your brother.”…

I love to see how parents enjoy these scenarios.

After this first passage, we debrief the “child” and discover that these instructions encouraged him towards the CHALLENGING BEHAVIORS, like defiance and resistance!

INSEAD alumni at Positive Discipline workshop

Act 2

We embark on a second passage.  This time “parents” present their request through a Firm and Kind question“Do you want to put your blue or your red shoes?” “What do you need to do so your teeth don’t feel scuzzy?!” “What is our agreement on phone usage?” “How could you work this out with your brother?” 

In debriefing, the “child” says he feels responsible and respected.  He is invited to think.  And he chooses to consider each question and probably act on it.  In looking at the two lists, this time he identifies with the talents and skills.  He’s learning decision-making, autonomie, and that he is capable.  His confidence grows.

Denise Dampierre and INSEAD alumni

Through playing the scenario and discussion, participants arrrive at the conclusions themselves:  giving people instructions generates resistance.  Asking questions invites cooperation.

Giving people instructions generates resistance.
Asking questions invites cooperation.

Tools Galore

This Introduction to Positive Discipline provides a taster of the numerous aids to build relationships that respect BOTH the framework-need of the parents and the connection-needs of the children, and to leaders and team-members for professional settings.

These relationship tools work in multiple contexts.

Discover: SoSooper Workshops & Conferences for Teams at Work

Contact me to find out more and to plan a taster event for your network.

Martin Luther King Jr "I Have a Dream"

6 Insights from MLK to Dream Big

Today we commenmorate 50 years since the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.  Many remember this inspiring leader in the human rights movement and his speech “I Have A Dream.”

What is your cause? What is your dream? 

Martin Luther King Jr did more than dream.  He transmitted it too…so that others could share it and spread it too.  He began with the folks close to him, and his circle of influence grew and grew…to include me and you!

Let’s start turning our dreams for those closest to us into reality.

1. Dream for the Next Generation & Empower Youth to Dream Too

Learn from this great man to dream big and empower others to have a vision.

It’s OK to dream big even when the situation looks dire

“I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulation. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail … I say to you today, my friends, though, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream…” MLK Jr

nine dots

You and I can limit ourselves.

We can allow ourselves to hope what is feasible – the Basic-Fix-Dream rather than THE GRAND-VISION.

We do this every day at work and in family.

We hope employees get the job done.  They do…and 70% of them lack engagement in their work.  Could we dare for a passion for contributing to their team and for excitement to grow?

When siblings fight, we hope for “no blood.”  Can we envision them as co-builders of an amazing venture?

You may be familiar with these nine dots.

The exercise consists of passing through each of these dots once with four straight lines.  No more, no less, no curves.

Try it.

The clue?  Get out of the square.  In fact, there is no delimited zone.  The nine dots are in the shape of a square and folks like you and I turn that into boundaries.

Dreaming means setting sights high…

…then following through with an action plan.get out of nine dots

2. Powerful dreams tap into a common heritage, a larger-than-me mission

“It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the hue meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’”

According to psychologist Dr. Alfred Adler, grandfather of Positive Psychology, a communal vision which benefits your community, be it family, neighborhood, friends, or more taps into our basic human needs of belonging and contribution which he describes as “Gemeinschaftsgefuehl .”

A community goal brings along with it a network of supporters.

It takes a team to reach the stars.  Set a dream that motivates and engages all.

Co-dream. And co-labor (collaborate).

When you converse with your team members or even with your children, how often do you refer to the common goal?  Find ways to include it in every day conversation.

At work:  “Today was a good day!  I helped solve a customer problem and it felt like ’empowering our customers through our technological and service excellence.'”

In family:  “How will we talk so that we show we are a family and that we love each other?”

3. Live the vision

Walk the talk.

Be a dreamer whose actions speak louder than words.

The US constitution declared all men of equal value.  And yet they were not treated as such.

Are you ambitious for your team or your child?  What qualities do you dream for them?

  • Respect of self and of others
  • Love of excellence and effort
  • Wise decision-making
  • Curiosity and tolerance

Let the next generation witness it through your actions.

  • Speak to the young interns and children with respect…even when they act without thinking
  • Stick to your commitments, like when you say, ‘I’ll be there in 5 minutes.”
  • Allow them to live the uncomfortable consequences of their own unwise decisions when the stakes are low. Misplacing a 10 cent coin is less painful than losing €1000.
  • Listen actively to understand their perspective before jumping to conclusions

THAT is dreaming with credibility and conviction.  Our example convinces our youth of the value of our hopes.

4. Dream with valor

Martin Luther King Jr ignites our fire when speaking of brotherhood, transformational peace-making, and character.

A dream worth living for is one worth dying for too. 

Who do you want with you as you end your days here?  What do you want said of you and for them to share with each other?  NOW is the time to plant those seeds.

For me, I want the “F.U.N.” back in funeral.  It’s because I celebrate life today that I hope folk will remember me with a smile GRIN in later years.

5. Clearly define success

“…little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”

A clear goal vitalizes both you and your co-dreamers.

Visualizing is a technique many leaders adapt to help them define their objectives.

A friend shared her experience at a career change workshop she attended.  The facilitator invited participants to close their eyes and to think of their ideal (dream) job.

“Now visualize the office in which you are working.”

And they proceeded with another dream session.

“Describe your colleagues.  Their age, what they are wearing, their facial expressions…”

Specifics make the dream more real…and realizable.

6. Seek strength for the LONG (loooooong) haul

“This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with… With this faith we will he able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will he free one day.”

In our quick win world, how can we prepare for valiant dreams that require sacrifice and persistence?

Performance experts assert that it’s not talent that keeps people from reaching their goals; it is lack of consistency which engenders lackadaisical results then discouragement and finally giving up.

In what will you place your faith?  Where will you find your source of strength?

The question is not “if” you will require boosting and encouragement.

The issue is WHEN.

Martin Luther King Jr found his from the God of the Bible.  It did not make him into a perfect person.  It made him united with others AND able to take a stand alone, peaceful AND powerful, patient AND courageous.

WOW.

 

Jumping across rocks. Risk taking.

How to take risks with confidence – Insights from Elisabeth Moreno, CEO France of Lenovo

We all need role models, people who have tread the path we hope to travel and who came out alive thriving.

Elisabeth Moreno, CEO Lenovo FranceElisabeth Moreno, CEO of Lenovo France is such a person.  Lenovo is a $43 billion global technology company and a leader in the PC market.  Moreno, a black woman from Cap Vert who immigrated to France as a child and was brought up with little means, has risen to the top in the fast-pace, male-dominated world of high tech.

Moreno recognizes the significant role self-confidence and risk-taking have played in helping her achieve this success, and seeks to transmit these qualities to her team, her family, and to you and me.  It’s a delight to interview her.

As a CEO, my duty is to transmit.  It’s how we prepare the next generation of leaders.

“I took a risk…”

Interview with Elisabeth Moreno
CEO Lenovo France

Denise Dampierre (DD): “Welcome.  Let’s dive right in. Tell us about some of the risks you took in your career.”

Elisabeth Moreno (EM): “Hello.  Risks are like finding yourself at the bottom of the pool.  Either you sink, or you swim.  I swam.

A professional turning point in my career was when I accepted to launch an initiative in Morocco for a company I worked for in the past.  No one believed I could overcome the social, racial, and religious differences.  Yet, when you must rely on yourself, you discover qualities deep within you.  I consider my two years in Morocco as among the best of my professional experiences.

Another risk was also to join Lenovo. When they came knocking I was in my comfort zone and could have stayed there for years.  And yet…my flame was flickering.  Lenovo, a Chinese company, represented opportunity and the unknown.  I took the risk to be vibrant with life.”

Build confidence: Try. Dare. Make Mistakes. Fall…and get up again.

DD: “It seems that risk-taking is integral to your life-paradigm.  Where did it come from? Were you born with it?”

EM: “I was scared of everything as a child!  I feared doing wrong.  Dreaded not understanding or not being understood.  I was scared to try.  And the more I focused on my fear, the more it grew and the less I dared anything.

I learned to embrace risk by facing challenges and realizing I overcame them.

When confronted with the kinds of situations, “If this should happen to me, I’ll die,” I came out of them alive.  Those fears were in my head!  When I realized these were fears I created, I sought out counseling and coaching and embarked on some thorough soul-searching and soul-healing.

Confidence is like a flower needing daily watering.  It is a muscle to keep in shape with daily exercise.

When we take a risk and it works, we grow in confidence.  It nurtures more confidence.

Even if the risk does not work out as hoped, we still grow in confidence.  We learn from every trial.  And even in failed attempts, something worked. If that one element succeeded a first time, there is a high probability it can generate positive results again.  Our society depends upon risk-taking.

Once we gain in confidence, then we need to learn to maintain it.  Confidence is like a flower needing daily watering.  It is a muscle to keep in shape with daily exercise.”

DD: “You speak of changing yourself.  And yet many people resist change and risk-taking because they believe the problem lies with someone else.”

EM: “We only see in other people something that resonates with us, be it positive or negative.  Everyone is not sensitive in the same ways.  One person can be transported by a piece of music whereas his tone-deaf neighbor finds the noise discomforting.  One person will leave a conference feeling ecstatic and uplifted and someone else deems it was a waste of time and money.

It’s so much easier to believe the problem lies in the other person.  People do not change against their will.  If they want to evolve, they will.  The only person on whom you have real power to change is yourself.

We reap what we sow.  Sow hate; reap hate.  Sow discord; reap discord.  Sow love; reap harmony.

I spend a lot of time transmitting. There is no magic wand to extract change in someone else.  And yet, I can create circumstances which favor change in others.  First, to be a role model, which I practice in both my personal and professional life.  Next, to be authentic.  When I am genuine with others, I invite authenticity from them.  When you are sincere, 50%—no, it’s more like 80%—of your contacts will respond with sincerity.

We reap what we sow.  As a junior manager, I believed success lay in being tough.  I reaped fear and distrust.  Then I took the risk to trust my team.  Trusting anyone renders one extraordinarily vulnerable.  When I trusted, positive results abounded.

Life is like a mirror which reflects what we give.  Sow hate; reap hate.  Sow discord; reap discord.  Sow love; reap harmony.”

DD: “How do you transmit a desire for risk-taking to your team, to your young employees, and to your daughters?”

EM: “As a CEO, my duty is to transmit.  It’s how we prepare the next generation of leaders.

Our youth seek meaning in life and in work.  Purpose comes from the heart, not from the intellect.  We focus our training on knowledge-building; we need to build know-how.

Creating learning experiences implies accepting our vulnerability as people.  By doing, and through interaction, we face our humanity straight on. Unfortunately, today’s education in France focuses so strongly on the intellect, and we find ourselves disconnected from our own humanity. I wish our youth had more opportunities to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty.

Parents are obsessed with grades and, with the best of intentions, raise children to become test-taking machines. I don’t blame them; we all want to protect our children and do the best for them. Unfortunately, many parents respond out of fear.

And yet, our children will, and need to, confront their own fears.  This is how to prepare them for taking risks and for success in life.

Purpose comes from the heart, not from the intellect.

For a long time, we have been taught that leaders should manage with their intellect.  Reasoning reigns.  I have learned that leadership also relies on your heart and your gut.  As parents, we are called to use our brains to find ways to connect meaningfully with our children and to help them develop grit.”

DD: “What do you want your employees and daughters to believe about risk?”

EM: “I want my daughters and everyone to dare to take risks.

Risk does not avoid danger.  The fear of risk will not keep bad things from happening to you or me.  In fact, it is a good thing to recognize the riskiness of a venture.  It will guide you to keep a safe distance from the edge of a cliff.

Only our fears are often exaggerated. The outcome is often less serious than we dreaded.

I want my girls to have confidence.  Let them try.  Let them dare.  Let them accept making mistakes.  They will fall…and pick themselves up again.

I want my daughters and my young employees to know they are marvelous and a wonderful life awaits them when they embrace it.

Too many people today no longer dare to risk.  If they don’t succeed on the first try, they are ashamed.

If you or I do not take risks, we might distance danger, but we will forget to live.  We end up like the walking-dead: biologically alive yet without a life inside.

The more risks you take, the wider you open your arms to life.” It need not be a big risk, even the small ones can open fantastic opportunities.

DD: “Are there risks you did not take and wished you had?”

EM:  Laughter.  “No.  Of course, there must be some.  However, I do not live looking in the rear-view mirror and harboring regrets.  While I am still alive, I can still embrace those risks.”

DD: “Thank you.”

Thank You

Elisabeth Moreno gave us food for thought.  May we feed on it wisely.

  • To clear out the fears in our head
  • To dare and learn
  • To nurture our confidence daily
  • To lead with humanity

Stay tuned as, next week, I’ll share exercises to put these insights into action.

P.S. I’m writing from my orange Lenovo PC.  My husband recommended it for the technical qualities and value for money.  I fell in love with the color; it makes me happy to begin work every day.

Cover photo by Sammie Vasquez from Unsplash
Fanny Smith Ski Cross Olympics 2018

Time Optimization Tips from the Olympics

Time management matters when nanoseconds make the cut for an Olympic medal.

That’s the case with champion women’s skicross Fanny Smith, from Villars-sur-Ollon, who won the bronze medal in the Olympics at PyeongChang.  Our children learned to ski in Villars and I too felt that thrill of the locals when she earned her medal.

Fanny Smith Bronze Olympics 2018

On our local slopes we don’t see these; they are prevelant at the Olympics.  The blue lines on the slopes.

 

Optimize Time with Success Lines

These markers help racers and coaches trace the optimal path to follow.  It’s literally their time-optimization guide.  Stay within the lines to go faster.

How do you track the optimal path and reach your goals fast?  For your life?  For your work? For your relationships?

Time management is an issue for many of us.  Few of us can afford hours retracing our steps.  And yet many of us do so with relationships.  Building positive rapport between people takes time…and it takes even longer to clean up after the s*@! hits the fan. 

Too far off these blue lines and the skiers crash and forfeit the race.

If you find yourself impatient or frustrated or repeating yourself, it’s time to consider.  Might something be out-of-focus: either your goal or the path to get there?

Save Time & Fix your objective

I begin many workshops with an activity* to bring our goals into clear focus.

Step 1—List the Time Consuming Challenges

What zaps your time and energy in relationships?  We clear out what blocks our vision by naming these challenges.

For a workshop for managers of Millennials, we wrote down “Challenges Working with Millennials.”

Participants chime in: resistance to rules, attached to the phone, in need of perpetual feedback, (too) high view of his (untested) capabilities, and even spelling mistakes.

Maybe you don’t work with the Gen Y.  Then tweak the question to match your work dynamics:

  • Challenges of working with off-site teams
  • Challenges of working in Finance/Legal/Marketing in an industrial group

This process of listing difficulties creates a positive group dynamic and opens communication.  Everyone realizes we sweat and worry over similar predicaments.  In expressing these shared relationship challenges, we give ourselves and each other the permission to be human and to learn.

Expressing the negatives has the effect of letting dust settle.  The atmosphere is lighter and we are ready to clearly focus on the positives we seek.

Step 2—Identify the Team Skills to Build

We then create a separate and complementary list to bring the leadership goals into focus.  These are the skills managers seek to transmit to their teams to create a motivating and performing work environment.  We enumerate them under, “Qualities of our Team’s Culture.”

Of course, you seek to develop technical capabilities: mastery of financial analysis or digital marketing tool.  You ALSO aim to build communication and soft skills:  trust, mutual respect, learning from experienced team members, learning from youth, seeking excellence…

Step 3—Assess

Once the two lists are completed, we step back to review them side by side and invite comments from everyone

Some participant are motivated: “I had not thought of myself in the leadership development business.  How inspiring!”

Others balk: “What pressure.  I don’t master all those soft skills.  How can I pass them on to my team?”

Many have questions: “Do I have to do all of them at once?” and “So, what is the link between the two lists?”

Step 4—Use Time Optimizing Success Lines

Success lines help us identify where we are and where to aim.  They’re like a GPS.

These lists represent our leadership GPS.

The challenges point to our present situation.  “You are here.”  This is where we have arrived using our current leadership style.  This is also where you will stay by continuing with your actual managerial tools. 

The qualities represent our desired destination.  Like when your team members jump out of bed in the morning with enthusiasm to get to work and engage with a dynamic team.  Or when colleagues seek you or your employee out for greater responsibilities.

Focus, Focus, Focus

But you may wonder, “It’s just a list…”

Correction.  It’s a lens. 

You get what you measure.  When your bonus is set on profit, you’ll likely avoid high volume, low margin customers.

“Human systems grow in the direction of their deepest and most frequent inquiries.” – David Cooperrider, founder of Appreciative Inquiry, Case Western University

Our leadership focus is what we generate in our team. Your and my focus matters because it changes our actions.

“The act of looking for certain information evokes the information we went looking for—and simultaneously eliminates our opportunity to observe other information.” – John Wheatley, quantum physicist

When we talk, model, clarify, and encourage the qualities we seek in our team, we create clear success lines. And that saves tons of time…and money, and energy, and good spirits.

Positive Communication Tools

A clear focus is the first among many tools to build the qualities in your Leadership GPS.  Check out the workshops to discover others and how to develop them in your team.

Leadership GPS Works In Life too

This optimizing GPS applies in personal relationships as well.

When our four boys were young I embarked on a husband-improvement-program.  As a woman, I KNEW how to be a great dad!!!

Every day for one month I noted one helpful behavior my husband did for the family and let him know my appreciation.  “Honey, thanks for having done the dishes. It’s really nice to finally relax after having put the kids to bed.”

I anticipated behavioral modification in my husband.  This process changed me. 

My previous focus lay on the mountain of chores to be done and how my husband did not do his part.  My tone of voice often sounded critical.  When focusing on his contributions, I became more enjoyable to be around.  Maybe he became more involved or my company became more pleasant; either way, we ALL (sons included) do chores.

Ranking high on the list of “Dampierre Qualities to Groove Together” (our family GPS) you’ll find:

Everyone in the family helps.

Food for thought

  • How many times a day do you focus on what is going wrong? On what is going right?
  • How time effective is your critique?
  • Your critique is welcome here. What do you disagree with in this post?

Tell us in the comments.  Thanks.

 

Cover photo from lacote.ch