How do you get time for training in one of the fastest moving environments around? And, how do you gain people’s attention when your company is literally processing the world in real-time?
Simple: You build stronger relationships based on a common language that speeds communication, improves collaboration, and gets better business results. And that’s what’s happening @Twitter.
Twitter chose the SDI because it gives people a powerful common language. And it’s not just because “Blue” is only four characters. Although “a person who is deeply concerned about the welfare of others and wants to help them” does take up 83 characters. “Blue” saves space and time, but it also increases clarity and shared understanding.
The colors (shorthand for personality types in the SDI) make it easy for people to quickly recognize what’s driving others. The colors, and deep meaning behind them, also help to dispel the incorrect interpersonal judgements that get in the way in fast-moving environments.
Boys and Girls Clubs of America
How would you like to be accountable to 4 million boys and girls? Just ask the staff at Boys and Girls Clubs of America (BGCA). Every year, they are accountable to help these children grow, develop, thrive, and fulfill their potential.
But the staff is also accountable to each other – and to themselves. That’s where Core Strengths Accountability training comes in. The training grounds personal accountability where it belongs – with each person. It helps BGCA staff identify their core drives and strengths, understand each other better, and gives them a common language to clean up some of the inherent messiness of working together.
Micro-Affirmations Make a Macro-Difference
3 Keys to Giving Feedback That Makes an Impact For some, the word “affirmation” might bring back memories of the Saturday Night Live sketch, Daily Affirmations with Stuart Smalley. The bit always opened with Stuart gazing into a mirror and reciting “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.” This was followed by a series of platitudes that poked fun at '90s pop psychology, such as “Labels disable” and “You need a check-up from the neck-up.” Surprisingly though, Stuart was onto something—not so much the silly catchphrases, but the everyday affirmations, according to research out of MIT. Recently, Mary Rowe, a professor at MIT Sloan’s Institute for Work and Employment Research, shared her research demonstrating how micro-affirmations can transform an organizational culture of negativity and inequity, to a positive, open, and inclusive workplace where people are more engaged and productive. These findings have since sparked the Random Acts of Kindness movement in schools and communities across America, culminating in RAK Week and an RAK Day on February 17th each year—an inspiring application of Rowe’s work. So what’s a micro-affirmation? A micro-affirmation is a small, and often simple, acknowledgement of a person’s contribution or value. These can...Read More
Developing Empathy in the Real World
3 Quick Questions to Make You More Empathetic "Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?" —Henry David Thoreau On occasion, my wife has suggested that I, at times, lack empathy. While I often appreciate her constructive feedback, I had to draw the line with her diagnosis that I may have been born without the “empathy gene.” The offense I immediately felt must have been related to my vague recollection of research reporting that only a very small percentage of the population was truly devoid of empathy and that many of those rare few carried the label, psychopath. Although she quickly conceded that I likely didn’t fall into that category, her comment caused me to think about the importance of empathy in relationships—at home and at work—and what it takes to develop it. Unfortunately, when I started digging into the topic, I discovered that there is evidence to suggest that empathy is suffering a broad decline. A University of Michigan study reported that empathy had fallen rapidly among college students in a 30-year period between 1980 and 2010. The causes were unclear, but the lead author suggested in a New York...Read More
Why Have an Open Door if You Have a Closed Mind?
3 Reasons to Embrace Differing Perspectives Many, if not most, organizations establish an open door policy to give employees the freedom to speak freely with managers and executives throughout the organization, without the need to follow the chain-of-command. It’s not uncommon to hear a division head or senior vice president proclaim to a group of new hires during their orientation, “Remember, my door is always open to you—don’t hesitate to share your ideas and concerns with me at any time.” While these invitations often come with good intentions that elicit a warm response from wide-eyed recruits, there are usually a few more seasoned folks in the room who cringe at the thought of walking into an executive’s office to state their disagreement with a policy decision or new strategy, or express concern over a process that isn’t working as well as it should. In some cases, this response is conditioned by previous experiences—those times when openly expressing doubt about a boss’ brilliant idea turned out to be the equivalent of charging headfirst into a brick wall. This is especially true when career-limiting effects linger much longer than the pain of the initial collision. In a workshop I regularly lead, I...Read More
Manage Me, Not My Generation
5 Ideas to Bring Out the Best in Each Person With as many as five generations now inhabiting the workplace, there is a lot of attention focused on the unique characteristics of each group. Scholars, management gurus, and seemingly every front-line supervisor in the company cafeteria has advice on navigating these generational differences. While clearly many of these differences are real (i.e., my son is more comfortable with technology than my parents), I’m not sure that the intense focus on managing the generations differently is really the best path forward. Recent research confirms my suspicions. In fact, the researchers found evidence to dispute several commonly held views about managing the generations. For example, the perception that younger generations long to pour themselves into projects that give them a sense of purpose in life was labeled a myth. Instead, they simply want assignments that challenge and excite them. Likewise, this research found that younger employees aren’t hyper-focused on work-life balance as much as they want opportunities to grow and advance in their careers, and to be given some autonomy in terms of how they complete tasks. Another myth busted is the idea that managers must master generational-specific management skills to be...Read More
Too Expensive to Ignore
3 Costs of Conflict that Add Up Quickly My jaw dropped when I heard her response. Her colleagues asked in near-unison, “Are you sure?” The woman’s response was measured and firm. “Of course, I’m sure. I’m a CPA; I can do the math.” Silence blanketed the room as the magnitude set in. A series of interpersonal conflicts in the firm had apparently led to $11 million in costs and the departure of several highly valued employees. The news seemed to stun even those who were fully aware of the events that began several months ago. Events that played out in the form of complaints to Human Resources, bungled investigations, resignations, an expensive legal settlement, and the loss of seven key accounts representing millions in annual revenue for the firm. As the facilitator of the meeting, I saw that something powerful was happening and waited for the team members to engage. Finally, after a few more moments of silence, an executive who had previously stood and was now leaning against the conference room wall, said somberly, “Conflict is too expensive to ignore. I hope it’s not too late to do something.” This is a cautionary tale I’ve encountered dozens of times...Read More
3 Keys to Becoming a More Inspiring Leader
Only slightly more than half (55 percent) of employees report that their leaders inspire them, according to Towers Watson’s Global Workforce Study. Maybe this statistic does not surprise you or feel like a mandate for immediate action, but if you’re a leader or aspire to be one someday, it should be a loud wake-up call. Here’s why: According to the research, a leader’s ability to inspire employees is the strongest driver of employee engagement. That is, how invested and productive your people are largely depends on your ability to connect with and motivate them. Since this study suggests that only 40 percent of employees are highly engaged, we can all politely agree, with no fingers pointed, that maybe there’s some room for improvement Surprisingly, though, I don’t encounter many leaders who are actively working on becoming more inspiring. This might be because of the way inspirational leaders have been portrayed in movies and how we quickly dismiss that type of behavior as being beyond our reach. After all, few can imagine themselves standing on the stage in front of a huge American flag delivering a fiery speech as George C. Scott did in the 1970 movie, Patton. Further, who...Read More
What the Norwegians Know
Three Questions to Make You Relationally Ready My first trip this year was to Norway. Undoubtedly, Norway is a beautiful place filled with delightful people; however, for a guy who has spent the majority of his life in southern California, Oslo in January is ridiculously cold! The snow and ice that covered every outdoor surface, and the scarce sun, made me marvel at the hearty souls who call this country home. Recognizing that I was far out of my element, a gregarious Norwegian in a coffee shop asked how I was enjoying my trip. My response, although generally positive, included some derisive commentary about the weather. Seeing his chance to create a learning opportunity for this first-time visitor, my new friend hit me with a saying that every native knows: There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes. I smiled at this Scandinavian proverb, and then shuffled off to drink my coffee next to the radiator. As I sipped the warm provision, I began to think about the power of this statement and the mindset behind it. I quickly realized there was a bigger lesson in this that I needed to apply more broadly in my life. The...Read More
An Olympian’s View on Teamwork
It’s not every day you meet an Olympian, so when I recently sat down with three-time Olympic medalist Susann Bjerkrheim, I was immediately intrigued and impressed. Bjerkrheim was the face of Norway’s women’s handball team for over two decades, competing in four Olympic Games and leading the team to medals in the '88 Seoul, '92 Barcelona, and '00 Sydney games. She also captained the team when they won trophies in three world championships and two European championships. Now, I’ll admit I didn’t know much about modern handball when we started our conversation. My playing experience was limited to a few games in gym class, mostly when it was raining, and we couldn’t run laps outside—as my sadistic PE teacher preferred. Talking with Susann, I gained a respect and appreciation for the game’s emphasis on strategy and teamwork, and I began to understand why it’s so popular throughout Europe. A quick handball primer: the rules are fairly simple. The game is played on what looks like an indoor soccer field with seven players on each team—six field players and a goalie. Players attempt to put the ball in the opposing team’s net to score. There is a good deal of...Read More
Five Questions to Maximize Your Learning
"An investment in knowledge pays the best interest." Benjamin Franklin Many of us experience life at a sprinter’s pace. We jump from one task or activity to the next without giving much thought to its purpose or how it fits into the bigger picture. I suspect that’s often the case when it comes to training and development as well. We show up in a classroom or complete an online course because we’re told it’s required. We don’t want to let anyone down or suffer the consequences of not following orders, so we show up, sign in, and check the box—without taking anything of value away from the experience. Other times, we proactively sign up for a class because the description is appealing. It promises to give us the ability to do our jobs better, solve problems, get ahead, or learn new skills that will open doors of opportunity. Despite our good intentions to reap these wonderful benefits, upon our departure from the session, we’re smacked in the face by reality—those urgent matters that pull us back to business as usual—so we never recognize the full value of a new approach. Both of these experiences are common and serve as...Read More
When Collaboration Really Counts
Every year, there are 400,000 deaths attributed to preventable mistakes in American hospitals. Read that again—this year, 400,000 people will die from avoidable errors during hospital care. Known as Preventable Adverse Events (PAEs), these serious oversights include medication errors, hospital-acquired infections and misdiagnosis, among others. With the rapid advances of medical technology and the presence of world-class facilities in many communities, it’s hard to believe such a staggering statistic is possible, yet this is exactly what John James, PhD, found in his 2013 study. To create some perspective, I did some quick math. I calculated that nearly four times as many Americans die from PAEs each year than have died in all of America’s wars over the past 70 years. That got my attention. As I continued to read, I learned that one major category of preventable adverse events (PAEs) is errors of communication; either between healthcare providers or between providers and their patients. In other words, poor collaboration. Since helping people work better together is what I do, I wanted to get some first-hand perspectives to better understand what was being done to address this serious problem. So I contacted a couple of friends who develop leaders in...Read More