Before You Forget, Stop and Do This Immediately

Have you ever met a truly humble person– someone who’s entire life is a sacrificial commitment to a cause they deeply believe in? As I spoke with Sister Louise in Thailand about her 50-year commitment to helping women and children out of extreme poverty and danger, I was blown away by her selfless mission.

Although she’s Catholic, her focus is not about a conversion of her 95% Buddhist community–it’s about “saving (with a little “s”) lost sheep.”

She just wants to give as many women and children as possible a shot at an empowered life.

And she and her teams are transforming lives. She’s Winning more Well than I could ever hope to.

I’m pretty sure that’s why I’m so haunted by the story she shared when I asked her what was the most challenging part of her work.

She didn’t miss a beat. And her answer surprised me.

There Was This One Time

There was a woman who had come to us for help many times. We worked with her on skills like hairdressing and sewing, but she struggled. She would give up, quit, and then come back.

Several times we just gave her money to get her out of a jam. We didn’t give up.

And then one day after being gone for quite a while, she came back to us and she proudly showed me a stack of money she had earned.

Relieved, I said “Oh you must be so grateful for this blessing.”

And then she screamed at me, “THANKFUL? BLESSING?  I DID THIS ALL BY MYSELF!!!!”

Sister Louise looked at me with tears in her eyes, “Can you imagine? How could she not see all the people who had worked so hard to help her? To be grateful to those who didn’t give up?”

Sister Louise had no expectations that this sheep would believe in God, but held out hope for a little gratitude for the work of his “hands and feet” in the form of her volunteers.

And there she stood, arguably the most humble human I’ve ever met– dumbfounded by the lack of a simple expression of gratitude.

Everyone needs to hear that they are making a difference.

Who Do You Need to Thank?

When we’re working really hard, it’s so easy to delude ourselves into thinking we did it all by ourselves.

I hear it all the time “I EARNED this promotion.” “I WORKED MY BUTT off to get here.”

I’ll admit. I’ve said those words.

But the truth is, none of us got here on our own– no matter how hard we worked.

There are managers and teachers and parents and peers who all helped in some way. There’s even the boss you hated, that finally convinced you that you weren’t as strong as you thought you were…and you worked harder to prove her wrong.

Who helped you today? Last week? Last quarter?

Who had an INSPIRE conversation that made an impact? Who helped become more confident? Who consistently takes the time to sweat the small stuff so you don’t have to?

What if you stopped right now and said thank you?

How to Build a More Customer-Centered, Empathetic Workforce

When you call customer service you want to know 2 things:  (1) Does the person who picked up your call care about you and your issue? and (2) Are they capable of fixing it?

You don’t have to be a customer service expert to know within 20 seconds whether the guy on the other end of the phone cares and is eager to help.

When we work with customer service departments, empathy is always identified as a top MIT (Most Important Thing). And yet it’s also one of the hardest set of behaviors to train.

A Best Practice For Training Empathy (Care About Real Lives)

I recently did a follow-up visit to a client who had invested in one of our Winning Well Operations Excellence Rallies. They had identified “Does the Customer Know How Much We Care?” as a top MIT, and set about isolating the behaviors and building a focus on empathy into their training, performance management, and recognition systems.

They built a confidence burst approach to encourage empathy. One day the representatives came in to find signs of a missing baby all over the office: a crocheted bootie, a pacifier, and some randomly scattered signs, “Has anyone seen baby Carl?” “What happened to baby Carl?” The representatives were intrigued. The entire center was talking about the baby Carl mystery during lunch breaks and between calls.

The managers had fun with this for a few days and then did what they call “the reveal.” They transferred the calls to another center for a few minutes and brought in “Baby Carl,” a carefully swaddled doll. “Remember how much you were worried about baby Carl? That’s how concerned we need to be about every customer’s issue. Every customer has real life concerns like small babies to take care of or sick friends and family.

Baby Carl represents our mission to show our customers how much we care. Every call should start with CARL–Care About Real Lives.”

As weeks went on, and a representative exhibited extraordinary empathy on a call– when they showed how much they CARLed (now a verb), they were awarded the Baby Carl recognition, had their picture take with Carl who stayed on their desk until someone was able to “steal” him back with a similarly empathetic call.

Every time someone won the Baby Carl award, the management team communicated exactly HOW the representative had shown empathy. Each selfie snapped with Baby Carl reinforced the behaviors they were looking to emulate. Representatives gained more confidence and competence as they showed up more consistently as someone who Cares About Real Lives.

One thing great leaders do is make the invisible, visible. Want your employees to show more empathy? Find ways to consistently make empathy visible, and celebrate the impact.

Frontline Festival: Leaders Give Pointers on Handling Conflict

Welcome back to the Let’s Grow Leaders Frontline Festival. This month’s festival is about handling conflict in your team. Thanks to Joy and Tom Guthrie of Vizwerx Group for the great pic and to all our contributors! Next month’s Frontline Festival is all about building brand awareness. What approaches are you and your team using to build your organization’s brand? Submit your relevant blog posts here!

Robyn McLeod of Thoughtful Leaders Blog  presents how to handle in-fighting on your team by sharing four tips that help leaders break through communication barriers and eliminate in-fighting within their teams.  How to Handle In-fighting on Your Team  Follow Robyn.

Jesse Stoner of Seapoint Center for Collaborative Leadership says that a list of values that are simply a list of single words that are not clearly defined can lead to confusion and team conflict, as this true story demonstrates. 5 Tips to Ensure Your Values Unify Your Team, Not Divide    Follow Jesse.

Wally Bock of Three Star Leadership   says if you’re the boss, you have to confront team members about poor performance. When you do it promptly and well, everyone is better off.  Confrontation and Splinters   Follow Wally.

For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, debate.  Margaret Heffernan

David Grossman of The Grossman Group  explains that conflict is a paradox that every leader faces:  Create teams that work well together but embrace conflict. Embracing Conflict: It’s Part of Every Leader’s Job  Follow David.

Chris Edmonds of Driving Results through Culture  says when team members are of “one mind, one heart, and one voice,” there are fewer conflicts, better decision making, and more aligned performance.  Does Your Team Have “One Mind, One Heart, One Voice”?   Follow Chris.

From Chery Gegelman of Simply Understanding: In all conflicts – the only person you will ever control is you…but learning to hold others accountable with compassion will grow your influence and your results.  Got Sugar?  Learning to Speak Truth with Grace   Follow Chery.

Amanda Cameron of Patriot Software, LLC knows that being the boss isn’t easy. Business leaders need to know how to handle conflict in the workplace to keep operations running smoothly. How to Handle Conflict at Work for Small Business   Follow Amanda.

Conflict is drama, and how people deal with conflict shows you the kind of people they are. Stephen Moyer

Shelley Row of Shelley Row Associates explores how to handle conflict well by pointing out that your team needs to have healthy conversations. She provides some tips for turning competitive talks into collaborative discussions. For Better Decisions: Convert Competitive Talking into Collaborative Talking  Follow Shelley

Nathan Regier of Next Element Consulting – Next From Nate  shares his viewpoint that when we mediate, manage, or reduce the conflict, we necessarily reduce the energy available for productive problem-solving. When we respect the tension and use that energy to create instead of destroy, the results can be transformative.  My Manifesto For Change: Conflict Isn’t The Problem  Follow Nathan.

Jon Mertz of Thin Difference  shares his perspective about how business can be a power for good amid the the conflict that pervades our nation’s political discourse. It’s time for CEOs to become activists for positive change and help handle the conflict infecting our American team.   The Leadership Power Shift Underway (A Political and Business Undercurrent)  Follow Jon.

Difficulties are meant to rouse, not discourage. The human spirit is to grow strong by conflict.  William Ellery Channing

From Paula Kiger of Weaving Influence: In this post, Paula shares the story of a father who sends his children to learn teamwork via a “challenge course.” The situation deteriorates when there is conflict over who will lead and who will follow.  Gambling on Leadership  Follow Paula.

Chip Bell of Chip Bell.com  challenges us to get a child to hear your positions and make recommendations.  There is nothing more sobering than hearing an eight-year old comment on your positions and practices.  Their innate humility and innocence can be a boon to seeing through the minutia and sometimes silly things that trigger conflicts.    Follow Chip.

Beth Beutler of H.O.P.E. Unlimited  knows that to handle conflict well, you sometimes owe someone an apology. She shares about a well-done apology she was given. How to Give an Effective Apology   Follow Beth.

 

 

How to Help a Task Master Focus on People

“I’m just not a people person.”

“I hate this touchy-feely crap.”

“See that!  I’m a ‘C’ on the DiSC assessment this just doesn’t come naturally to me. Now let me get back to work!”

Of course, all this may be true, for you, or for a manager that you’re working to develop. It’s also true, that if you want results that last, you can’t ignore the human side of teams.

Three Ways to Help a Task Master Focus on People

So how do you help a task master focus on people? The short answer, turn the “people thing” into a task.

If this makes your stomach turn, hang on. We’re working on a means to an end here. People matter. And we need more managers who feel confident in their ability to connect. So if it takes a spreadsheet to hone the skill…

People can be scary for task masters. But working their way down a to-do list feels a heck of a lot more manageable. Once the connections start to happen, and results improve, the focus on people naturally evolves into something more organic.

 1. Make a spreadsheet

If you’re working with a manager who loves pivot tables but has trouble remembering simple “thank yous,” ask them to make a spreadsheet of the members of their team. In column A have them list their team member’s names. In column B list strengths they are looking to encourage. In column C behaviors they are looking to develop. And in column D how the person likes to be recognized.

Building the spreadsheet is an intervention in itself as it forces the manager to think about (or in some cases go figure out) what each person needs. Then have them track each time they actually do the recognition. Here’s an example of a planner we built to help one of our engineering clients.  Winning Well Encouragement Planner.

We’ve also seen managers build spreadsheets to keep track of personal details of their team member’s lives (e.g. their kid’s names, what they do for fun). There’s no reason not to build processes for things that don’t come naturally to you.

2. Build connecting into your routines

We were working with one manager whose team thought he was unapproachable and unfriendly. We challenged him with a task. Every time he went to the bathroom, we encouraged him to use the one on the other side of the office. Then as he walked back to his desk, his job was to engage with people on a personal level on the way back. That seemed doable. After all, we weren’t asking him to be friendly all the time, just on those short walks. Taking a friendly walk became a task.

Of course, the side effect was that as he began showing up friendlier some of the time (while he was completing his focus on people task), he was breaking down barriers which made him more approachable at other times. People shared more information and asked for what they needed to be more effective.

3. Track your conversations

When I was in my sales exec role at Verizon I had 14 direct reports scattered over a 9-hour radius. Even though I’m a people person, with that many direct reports I found that I naturally talked to some of my guys more than others. I finally started keeping at tick sheet of touch points I had throughout the week. Some called me. Some I contacted.  But if I got to Thursday and there was the manager I hadn’t yet connected with (which I knew by my tracking system) I’d give them a call to just say “hi” while I was driving. Some of those informal, “just checking in” conversations turned into the most valuable brainstorming, #NoPressure.

If you or a manager you care about is finding it hard to find the time or energy to connect, try turning the effort into what you do best– a task and create engagement from that place.

How to Have More Joy at Work

The other evening, I was sitting at the kitchen table putting the finishing touches on next week’s keynote for the American Health Quality Association. They’d invited me to talk about “finding joy in your work,” a subject that’s at the core our entire Winning Well philosophy, but that I’m not usually invited to address head on. I kept feeling I was about 90% there when my son, Sebastian, walked in and plopped a crinkled sheet of notebook paper down my keyboard.

“Mom, here’s my story for the 5th-grade graduation speech contest. What do you think?”

I read the words he’d painstakingly written, full of the usual “I’d like to thank my parents and teachers.” I’m not sure if it was the look on my face or the fact that he knew it wasn’t his best work, that revealed my concern.

“It’s not that good, I know,” Seb winced.

Now here comes one of those awkward parenting moments. Perhaps you’ve been there. I know he can do better. I mean, this kid is a storyteller. In fact, he explains some of our concepts better than us.   But I also don’t want to be one of THOSE moms creating too much pressure, particularly around speaking.

But Seb and I have a deal. We tell one another the truth.

“Sebastian you are an amazing storyteller. This speech doesn’t just tap into that. You’ve got an important message to share– I imagine if you spend a little more time, you can find it. If you want to go with this speech you can, but if you want to take it to another level I think you’re not that far off.  Let me know if you want my help.”

And then, Sebastian curled up into a fetal position and said “I’m not changing it. It’s fine.”

Finding the Joy

The next morning at 6 am, Seb crawled into my bed and says, “Mom go get your computer, we’ve got to workshop this.”  Yikes, “Workshop?” I guess he’s been hanging around too many professional speakers. But that’s what we did. We talked about what the audience needed most. We mined for stories. We debated deep or broad– (all relative for the three minutes he had to fill.)

“Okay. I’ll think about it some more at indoor recess. It’s raining.”

When I picked him up for school, he hadn’t even shut the car door before he shared the advice three of his favorite teachers had given when he asked for input. Good stuff. Then we went to the back porch to finish the “workshop.”‘ And Bam. He had it. His speech was FANTASTIC. This child who the evening before had been ready to give up, was literally running around our home dancing to the “Happy” station on Pandora.

Joy.

Joy in his work.

Bam. The missing element from my speech.

Yup. Joy is contagious.

I thought about the times I’ve had the most joy in my work. And when I’ve seen the most joy in others. There’s a lot of joy that can come from working really hard at something you care about, and honing your skills to build your capacity to accomplish it. Sure there’s joy in the outcome, but there’s also joy in perseverance and growth. Joy comes from working really hard until you get it right.

Joy comes from rocking your role.

When we’re feeling joyless, it’s easy to give up. But just past that, joy is lurking.