Articles tagged with: Advanced People Skills

Trust – The Three Crucial Components

Posted in Blog, All Posts

I was recently working with a group of first line leaders that represented several departments in an organization. We were discussing the importance of trust and how to create an environment of trust.  As often is the case, I heard from the group, “My boss needs to hear this stuff. He doesn’t do any of this”.  I’ve been at this long enough to know that some truth and a lot of perception is involved in those statements. When I challenged the group to have a conversation with their boss about their perceptions of the environment, I got the usual - an emphatic, “No way!” We know trust is the foundation to good leadership and a strong organization. Yet we often pay little attention to ensuring that trust actually exists, let alone nurturing it. Trust isn’t a competency or skill – it is (for lack of a better term) a “living thing”. By “living thing”, I mean it can grow; it can be injured; it can be withheld or freely given; and, it can cease to exist. I believe that trust is created and built upon three primary components – Intentions, Words, and Relationships. So, with that in mind, I want to share (one more time) – How to build an environment of trust. Intentions We all have met people that we were skeptical of their intentions. Often we can relate it to past experiences, reputation or our “gut feeling”.  Often the skepticism is just part of the tension that exists between leaders and followers (as well as leaders who lead other leaders).  Unfortunately, the world we live into day reflects a “always question the intention” attitude. Those you lead need to believe and see that your intentions are good. How do you do that?

  • Practice open, back and forth dialogue. Tell those that you lead what you’re thinking and ask them what they are thinking. People should not have to guess your intentions. State your intentions.  When we poorly communicate, people will fill the void with their own stories and perceived intentions. And those stories that people create are seldom good ones.
  • Be honest with yourself. Often we hide behind the excuse we’re protecting the people, the company, or the future.  If your intentions are being questioned, ask yourself these questions:
    1. What do I want for myself?
    2. What do I want for others?
    3. What do I want for the organization?

Hopefully, your answers are well-intended. Your next step would be to ensure that your actions align with your intentions.

Words
The most powerful tool we have are our words. There is a song that says: “Words can build us up or put us down. Words can give us life or kill our dreams”. All too often we are careless and not very thoughtful with our words.  As leaders we do not get a pass for poorly chosen words - we are responsible and accountable.

  • Hone your message to be succinct and clear. Limit yourself on the number of words that you use. Less is really more. Practice it. Ask someone to listen to your message and then tell you what they heard. If they don’t nail the message, keep honing it.
  • Use words that connect to your employees – example: “Your input and ideas are critical to our success.”
  • Drop the excessive expletives and descriptors.  Drop the “always”, “you should have”, “what were you thinking”, “if you’re not on board”, “this is my department – ship - project”.   People stop listening and begin to judge and create their own story.
  • If you put too much negative emotion and body language into your words, people hear and react to the perceived negativity. Your message is lost.
  • Want to know how your words are “landing” with your employees?
    • Watch their body language – especially their eyes.
    • Are they asking appropriate questions or sitting silently?
    • Ask them how you could improve with your choice of words – make sure you really want to hear.

Relationships
In my earlier years, I had a boss that could not seem to remember my name correctly– even after a year. This same boss would make statements like: “I’m not here to be your best friend.”  Believe me, I didn’t want this boss as a best friend – I just wanted to be called by name! How would you define your relationship with your employees?  How would they define the relationship?  Good, bad, or indifferent, a relationship exists with all our employees. Studies continue to show that people want to know that their boss cares about them as an individual.  That level of care is defined differently for each person. The stronger the relationship between leaders and their employees the more engagement there is for everyone.

  • Relationships matter – make them a priority. Have one-on-ones with your folks at regular intervals – performance review time doesn’t count. Customize those times to the need of that employee.
  • Don’t use the excuse that you don’t have time – even a 5 minute conversation will improve the relationship and engagement.
  • Don’t play favorites – it gets noticed.
  • Ask for ongoing feedback – for you, for the organization, for the team.

Trust can be achieved and maintained when people believe that your intentions are good, that your words support those intentions, and that you choose to have a caring relationship.

There is an additional benefit to nurturing and growing trust. The day will come when trusting you to lead through a tough time is paramount to the success of a project and/or the organization.  Your employees will “have your back”. How do I know? They trust you!

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A great employee is a like a great pair of shoes... Invest in Quality!

Written by Stasia Rice Posted in Blog, All Posts

Have you ever bought a pair of cheap shoes in a pinch?  Maybe you needed a quick replacement, or felt the budget didn’t bear anything more expensive?  More often than not, when you compromise on quality, the shoes don’t fit quite right, they to show wear quickly or maybe even fell apart well before you'd like.  In the end… you have to buy another pair.  Making this mistake often will add up quickly.  Consider how many $20 pairs of shoes you have replaced.  They probably add up to what it would have cost for a quality pair of shoes that you would love, feel confident and comfortable in and are made to last. We can draw a parallel from this metaphor to hiring and retaining employees… We should all learn from lessons in buying good shoes:

  1.  No matter what the price, find the right fit.  A bad hire will just end up giving you “blisters”… not to mention the time, money and effort of having to rehire and train the next person. Avoid quick replacements and be sure they fit your culture and the position qualifications!
  2. Be willing to invest.  This might come in the form of someone with more experience, or even better, someone with the potential to learn and grow with training, development and time.  Like your shoes, a larger upfront cost pays off in spades when your employee sticks with you and lives into the potential you saw.
  3. Repair – Don’t Replace.  If an employee that fits well and has all the potential to do great things just isn’t as shiny anymore, or worse, the sole has worn and they are not performing as well anymore, don’t just toss them out!  Now is the time to invest in them through coaching or more formal development. Your initial investment in quality must be maintained! Polish up those shoes and resole them again and again!  The cost of ongoing investment is far less than buying new!
  4. Don’t take your dress shoes hiking.  You wouldn’t try to make your shoes perform in an environment or for a task not suited to their purpose.  Why do we do this to our employees?  Get to know them and their strengths to ensure that they can perform at their best.
  5. Try them with a new outfit.  Sometime the effect of putting the same shoe with a completely different outfit can help you get even more wear out of them!Think about the last time you put those dress shoes with jeans-it can makes for a fun change and you got more wear out of those shoes! The same goes for your high potential employees.  Giving them new opportunities, experiences outside of their area of expertise, or promotions when they are ready for more leadership and responsibility can help them to find longevity and happiness in your organization!

The lesson that you eventually learn is that the return on investment when it comes to quality is almost always worth it… in shoes and in people! MSBCoach is in the business of investing in quality people.  Let us help you polish up or resole your teams through coaching or our training programs.  We also have many effective assessments that can help uncover their strengths and preferences so you can help them succeed!

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4 Tips to Unlock the Potential in Millennials and Unify Your Workforce

Written by Tony Marbury Posted in Blog, All Posts

We are embarking on a time when we will have five generations in the workforce including: Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials (Gen Y), and the newest generation about to enter the workforce, Generation 2020. Many say they have had difficulty leading such generational diversity, especially with Millennials. This is illustrated by the countless negative articles, discussions, and blogs on the dilemma of hiring and working with Millennials, also known as the “Entitled Group”. Concerns are so widespread and misguided that Strategy + Business magazine published an article titled, “Five Millennial Myths: Forget what you think you know about your Gen Y employee”. The article provides insight into the many disparaging myths that shroud this generation.

Each generation grows and adjusts with the dynamic world in their time, facing different events and challenges as they make their way into adulthood and the workforce. One’s world experience is a major part of the fabric that makes everyone authentic. This combination of generations, experiences and uniqueness make it an incredibly exciting and challenging time to lead!

Here are 4 tips for leaders to help unlock the potential in Millennials and unify your workforce:

  1. Unlock their passion. Assign a mentor who will show them the ropes, help set goals, and help them understand boundaries and expectations. Spend quality time with them and learn what motivates and excites each individual. This can be done by administering behavior/personality assessments and conducting regular coaching sessions geared toward helping them find their place in your organization – (for more information on human behavior assessments, contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). By allowing Millenials to feel comfortable and welcome, you give them the freedom to express themselves and find passion in their work.
  2. Promote contributions. Renowned psychologist B.F Skinner said, “You can build a society entirely on the basis of positive reinforcement”. Encourage and promote their insight and ideas by acknowledging and celebrating great input, solutions, and accomplishments. Use positive reinforcement instead of negativity when they don’t quite hit the mark, taking care not to squash creativity.
  3. Ignite creativity and innovation. The Millennial generation is more technically savvy than any before them. They were practically born on the computer and use social media to connect with people and information all over the world. We need to align our businesses and relationships to accommodate their level of connectivity. Maximize the authenticity of the Millennial generation to ensure we do not get left behind or become status quo. Allow them the opportunity to do for you what they do best.
  4. Encourage teamwork. “…there is nothing more important than teamwork. It gives people a sense of connection and belonging, which ultimately makes them better…”—Patrick Lencioni One of greatest contributions of this generation is their ability to function as a team. This is a result of receiving constant (and as the parent of two teenagers, I’m told, annoying) parental guidance and support as well as the trend of recognizing teams’ accomplishments by promoting the “everybody wins” approach to competition. Millennials know that they are never alone in their endeavors and associate being a part of a team with winning. They ask for help when they need it and do not take issue with being a follower. Leaders building highly effective teams would do well to learn from Millenials.

Working with Millennials and untapping the many talents they bring to your organization should not be difficult for good leaders. Their talents are a gift to us. The ultimate gift that you can give to your organization is to identify all the strengths and invest in those you lead. The returns are boundless! It is our time as leaders to mold and prepare younger generations to be tomorrow’s leaders.

How are you making a positive difference unifying your Millennials with all the generations in your workplace? Share your comments!

Also check out, Do Gen-Y’s make good Leaders? by Michelle Braden and Five Millennial Myths: Forget what you think you know about your Gen Y employee”,   written by Jennifer J. Deal.

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People are Motivated by Passion not Money

Written by Michelle Braden, CEO Posted in Blog, All Posts

It is an interesting and a false understanding that people leave their jobs for money. In fact, people are motivated by their passions and not money. People will spend all kinds of money on their passions. If you don't believe me, look at people's hobbies and recreational spending. One thing is for sure, money follows passion, and passion does not follow money. If you can tap into your people's passions, you will find them making money for you and themselves.

Here are a few questions you can use to help you tap into people's passion:

  1. Are your employees in the right job position?
  2. Do they need extra training, feedback and/or coaching?
  3. Is there an opportunity for advancement or continued learning?
  4. Do they feel unappreciated, devalued, or are their opinions respected?
  5. Do they have poor work/life balance, and do they trust their leadership?
  6. Is stress a factor (stress can sometimes stunt creativity and passion) involved?

I encourage you to meet with your team and find out what they think needs to be done. Get them involved with the recovery plan. People buy into what they create, so let them help to create the solution.

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Tips For Better Company Reviews

Posted in Blog, All Posts

  1. Steer clear from annual reviews, they don't work. Historically they bring too much anxiety and take up too much valuable time. There is also too much time between reviews to measure progress or work on developing anything.
  2. Do monthly or quarterly reviews depending on the size of your staff.
  3. Have each team member set quarterly goals that are smaller and easily evaluated and are attainable.
  4. Have team members complete their own review and bring it to the meeting. The leader will then assess the review, giving their thoughts and feedback to how to reach their goals and steer the team member towards helping the company reach it's goals.
  5. Use behavioral tools (assessments) such as EQ and DISC or Emergenetics to help you connect with your team member. Strength Finder is good too.
  6. Ask team members what motivates them. Help each team member to discover their own flow and internal motivations so their work is inspiring and not drudgery.
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