Lost in Translation: Communication Techniques for Middle Managers

You know your boss cares deeply about customers, employees, and doing the right thing for your business. And you’ve built a passionate team of customer advocates, who want to make a good living and feel good about coming to work every day.

And yet here you are, precariously squashed amidst the intensity of all this passion and good intentions.

At the core, everyone wants similar outcomes…you get it. But the cacophony of misunderstanding and misinterpretation can be deafening.

“Why don’t they understand why this is so important?”

“Why would she do THAT if she really cared about employees?”

“How can they be so out of touch with reality?”

“These executives don’t have a clue how annoyed our customers are about this decision.”

“This is just another sign the frontline is disengaged.”

Chances are no one put “translator” on your job description. But trust me, the managers with the best outcomes are masters of translation.

Great Managers are Translators

The very best managers are leaders with a keen ability translate:

Industry dynamics into pragmatic straight talk

They listen closely to what’s happen with competitors and strategic partners. They’re intrigued by the dynamics, and help their team to better understand their company’s proactive approaches and responses.

Organizational vision into meaningful work

They work hard to understand the big picture and have a keen ability to explain articulate specifically how the work their team is doing makes an impact on customers and to the world.

Executive urgency into tangible action

They don’t let stress roll downhill. They buffer negative executive emotion and translate the meaning into specific behaviors for the team to implement.

Questions into dialogue

They listen carefully to questions from executives, bosses, peers, and direct reports, to understand the deeper concern. They proactively work to bring the right people together to have meaningful conversation.

Employee angst into reasonable requests

They empathize with the stress and concerns of their team. They help employees frame their needs so they can be heard and addressed to get the resources and support they need.

Great middle managers take time to learn the languages of those around them, and listen well to hear the truths from multiple perspectives. Translating well saves time and is a vital step toward achieving breakthrough results.

5 Benefits to Working With People Who Drive You Crazy

You know who I’m talking about? Perhaps it’s the guy who’s obsessed with font size, color schemes and alignment. Or the incessant questioner. Or the gal whose desk looks like hurricane I-don’t-care just blew across her office. We’ve all got them–the folks that make us crazy. Oh sure they’re effective, but given your druthers, you druther not have them on your project.

The truth is, it’s often the folks whom we’d like to choke who are best positioned to challenge our perspective and help us grow.

5 Benefits to Working With People Who Drive You Crazy

1. Humility

Working with people who make your hair curl provides a perfect opportunity to practice humble patience. Focus on your shared mission, and in really listening to the bozo (oh… I mean that other human being who has a different style).

2. Complementary Skill Sets

If someone is really making you crazy, it’s likely they’re focusing on areas you’d rather not think about. Instead of being annoyed, be grateful. They can sweat that stuff so you can do you what you do best.

3. Their Network

As they say, birds of a feather. Remember the “strength of weak ties” theory (if you missed that post, click here). Chances are they’re hanging out with a different crowd. If you lean in, you could substantially expand your network.

4. Creative Tension

Being challenged is the best way to grow. If you can keep an open mind, their perspective may be just what you need to break through to the next level.

5. Improved Skills

The best way to get better at working with people who drive you crazy is to work with people who drive you crazy. It forces you to practice all those vital teamwork skills: listening, communication, running effective meetings, working through conflict.

In fact, if you’re not working with anyone that makes you crazy, perhaps it’s time to seek out a nemesis mentor, or invite that nut job (oh, I mean really valuable human being) to join your next project.

Why NPS (Net Promoter Score) is Never Enough

The call center had ventured into this unknown territory organically. Their leadership knew their processes needed rigor, so they called me in to take a look and help them create a scalable model.

My basic question, “How do you measure performance?” was met with an embarrassed silence followed by the awkward answer, “Attendance and adherence to schedule.”

Now you don’t need to be a customer service genius to know that measuring whether reps show up to work is not enough to guarantee a best-in-class customer experience. Most centers at least use NPS (Net Promoter Score), which measures whether the customer would recommend the company to a friend. But this project was different, and that wasn’t so easy.

My expectations lowered, I asked, “Would it be okay for me to sit with some reps?” And that’s when the real surprise began.

I watched as each rep passionately explained their processes.

“Oh my gosh, I love my job, I just can’t wait to help customers. You see this guy here? He thinks everything is fixed, but I dug a bit deeper and I know we can help him more. It takes a few extra clicks to get what I need, but it’s worth it.”

“Well, each morning before I get to work, I go onto our–and our competitor’s–Facebook page to see if anything hot might have surfaced since my last shift. Stuff changes fast, and it’s important to come into work fully prepared.”

“The best part of our work is that no one gives us a script, we are each able to use our own unique style as long as we follow the basic guidelines. Customers love that. We also share what works best with one another.”

I reviewed customer conversation after conversation. I surely would recommend these reps to a friend. They were scoring “10s” on an invisible scoreboard.

My mind raced to the week before when I had met with the builder for our new home.

“Okay, here’s a survey you need to fill out.  I only get my bonus if you give me a 10. It’s really important that you answer 10 to these three questions. I don’t care what you put for the rest of the survey, you can be as honest as you want on those. In fact, that’s how we know what to improve. But whatever you do, please give me a 10. In fact, let me just circle that in for you.”

If he worked for me, I would have fired him.

But, here’s where it gets trickier. This guy’s going to be our project manager for the next year. He’ll have discretion about whether he fixes our borderline problems on our new home. The wackiest part is until that conversation it had been a 10 experience.

My gut says, report this stupidity his boss, but then what? And of course, I have no way of knowing if his boss isn’t playing the same game. I wonder how many other new home owners leave their final walk-through feeling similarly gamed?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for NPS and other CSAT (customer satisfaction) measures. I will help that call center build a meaningful balanced scorecard, and recommend they include NPS, but not without telling this cautionary tale.

The spirit of NPS is easily destroyed when mathematical gymnastics trump a sincere desire to improve.

If you’re using NPS, be sure you dig deeper. Follow-up with your promoters. “Why would you recommend us?” Give them a chance to say, “Because I didn’t want your rep to get fired.”

Want to give your customer service a competitive edge? I’d love to help you dig deeper. Please give me a call at 443/750-1249 for a free consultation. 

5 Ways to Help a Decision Maker Decide

My client, Laura, had invited me in to observe the spectacle. I watched as she carefully articulated her research findings and presented her “no brainer” suggestions to Mark. Each time Laura’s ideas were met with a similar response, “Thanks so much,” followed by a bogus reason of why the idea wouldn’t work.

The conversation was the equivalent of Laura saying, “I’d like to give you 100 bucks. No strings attached. I just found a way to save the money and I’d like to give it to you.”

And Mark saying, “Well, thanks for making the effort, but I’ll have to think about that for a while, talk to some other folks and see what they think, and then get back to you.”

Mark was clearly afraid to make a decision, even if it was obviously a good one.

Perhaps you’re dealing with Mark or his doppelgänger. If so, here are a few ideas that can help

5 Ways to Help a Decision Maker Decide

1. Ask More Questions

If you’re met with resistance, stop selling and start asking questions to understand why.

  • How do you think this change would impact the customer experience?
  • Have you ever tried anything like this before? How did it go?
  • What’s driving your hesitation?
  • Who else needs to be involved in such decisions?
  • What do you think would happen if we implemented this approach?
2. Provide a Clear Path Forward

When presenting an idea to a guy like Mark, don’t just talk conceptually. Be crystal clear on what your idea would take to implement: specifically who would need to do what by when.

Folks like Mark are often afraid of change because it just sounds like too much work. Show how moving forward with your plan is easier than sticking with the status quo.

3. Make it Reversible

One of the biggest reasons for decision paralysis is that it feels so permanent. Find a way to let them taste the impact of the decision in a way that can be easily reversed. Got a new process? Try it with one team. Worried about the customer experience? Try your idea out with a small subset of customers and carefully monitor the experience. It’s a lot easier to sell-in a pilot, than to convince a risk-adverse decision maker to make a “permanent” change.

4. Include Others

If Mark suggests a need to socialize the idea with others, offer to tag along. Chances are if he’s afraid to make a decision, he’s equally afraid of expressing his opinion to his boss or other stakeholders.

Offer to support him with an enthusiastic, “Awesome, I’d love to join a quick call to help you socialize the idea.”

5. Don’t Give Up

It’s true that it’s hard helping some people. But stay humble. This isn’t about you or your Mark, it’s about doing the right thing. There’s nothing more convincing than someone passionate about doing the right things for the right reasons.

Give Mark a chance to sleep on it, and give it another go.

stage fright

How to Overcome Stage Fright

I was deeply worried that my Dad was right, there would be no way I could hold it together to sing at my Mom’s funeral. I envisioned myself as a weepy mess at the front of the church. But for me, singing is a prayer, and after the hundreds of concerts my parents attended to support me over the years, not singing felt wrong. I’m normally not a stage fright kind of girl. I always love a good microphone. But fear was showing up in all its glory, and I almost gave in.

Then I realized that this fear was a gift. I needed to be humbled by stage fright, to better serve my clients and students who ask me for advice on how to overcome theirs.

4 Ways to Overcome Stage Fright

Here’s what worked for me. I hope it can help you.

1.Remember WHY you have the mic

If you’ve got a mic in your hand, I’m going to assume you’ve got something important to offer. Remember that stage fright is about you, not your message. Fear is not humility. Connecting with your message and remembering your purpose takes your ego (and the fear that’s trying to protect it) out of the equation.

2. Find some scaffolding

My scaffoldiing came in the form of people. My first text was to my cousin Katie, a professional folk singer and one of the happiest people I know.  Now we had a duet. Mary is a rock star on piano, so I knew if we got into trouble she’d just keep playing.  When Al, who I hadn’t sung with since my wedding, showed up at the funeral home, we added one final touch to the scaffolding for the next morning–guitar.

For you the scaffolding may be a clever prop, slides that prompt you through the tough parts, or a podium to put a barrier between you and the audience. Find what will make you feel more secure.

3. Practice until it “gets into your body.”

Award winning speaker and coach, Patricia Fripp, advises speakers to practice a speech until it “gets into your body.” She rehearses on a treadmill, so I decided to take my song for a walk in the woods. I got a few strange looks when I stumbled upon a fellow hiker, but what the heck.

4. Visualize success

As corny as it sounds, that morning I spent some quiet time picturing myself in front of the familiar terrain of the church I grew up in. The stained glass, green carpet, and the harmony that needed to surface.

Here’s a 30 second glimpse of the outcome.

Need help with communication, leadership development, or a funeral singer (just kidding), give me a call 443-750-1249.

rocket light bulb

7 Questions You Should Ask When You Launch a New Project

I’m launching a new project that will significantly propel the LGL mission of growing leaders with the confidence and humility to make a deeper impact on the world. It’s a strong team, and I found us organically asking one another questions to frame our mission and set us up for success. There was no checklist, but I thought, “Wow, wouldn’t it be helpful for others in such scenes if there were?”

And so today, I offer 7 questions to ask before you launch any significant project.

7 Questions You Should Ask Before You Launch a New Project

1. Why is this project vital?

Why are we doing this?  Why now? Who will benefit and what do they most need? How much will it cost and why is it worth the investment?

2. What does success look like?

How will we measure our success? What are the process measures that will let us know we are on track?

3. Who else must we include?

Who do we need to be successful? Who are key stakeholders who should be brought in early?

4. How will we communicate?

We’re actually using some cool collaboration systems, including Hall, Gather Content and Cage.

5. How does this project integrate with other work underway?

In my work at Verizon this was always one we had to consider well. It’s worth going slow to go fast in this phase to ensure there’s no redundancy or worse, competing efforts.

6. What can we learn from others who’ve done similar work?

Again, it’s worth taking the time to benefit from other people’s key learnings. Breakthroughs are almost always improvements of work that has come before. Be sure you know what that is.

7. Who will do what by when?

Too many project teams jump right into the action planning. Asking the first six questions first will help to ensure you plan is effective.

So, Karin, what’s the project? Ahh, that leads to the bonus question, “When do you announce your plans?” Stay tuned.

5 Big Mistakes Managers Make When Developing Their People

Let’s be real. The biggest mistake managers make when developing their people is that they don’t spend enough time doing it. Or, even worse, aren’t spending any time at all. The fact that you’re reading this indicates that you care, and are trying.

Even imperfect development beats what many employees telling me they’re getting–nada.

The only way to achieve exponentially greater results is to get every member of your team functioning on more cylinders, as individuals and as a team.

Good managers spend at least 10-20% of their time developing their people.

Be sure you’re investing your time well by avoiding these common traps.

5 Mistakes Managers Make When Developing Their People

1. Forget they’re still learning too

There’s a weird imaginary threshold I see too many managers cross. They creep into “I’ve got this, and now my job is to teach it to you” land.  Almost every manager goes there at some point in their career, and many get stuck in it’s delusional abyss. The only way to be an effective leader is to scurry back to reality as fast as you can. Leadership is never handled. See also, 60 Reasons Leaders Stop Learning.

I’ve learned the hard way that our teams see our flaws and mistakes better than we do. Even if they love you, there are at least 17 reasons they don’t want to lead like you.

Be sure the learning and listening is a two-way street.

2. Invest only in the “high potentials”

“I don’t have time to develop everyone, so I’ll really invest in the top 5%, maybe even 10%,” is the cry I’ve heard many times. I’m all for giving extra effort the box 9s, goodness knows I’m grateful for every ounce of extra effort folks poured into me as I climbed the ladder. BUT, imagine the possibilities when you tap into the majority of your team, building on everyone’s strengths, and helping them to see themselves as more than “also-rans”?

3. Focus on individual development but don’t develop the team

A team of super stars who don’t know how to work as a team, can’t win. The egos get in the way, and conflict sucks the life out of all productivity, and prohibits real creative breakthroughs that involve integrated thinking.

I once worked for an executive who painstaking recruited the very best players in every discipline, and then got us in a room and announced his plan. Our bonuses (a large percentage of our salary, usually stack ranked) would all be exactly the same, based on our performance in his experimental organization. He’d received permission from HR to try it. If we blew it out of the park, he’d get money added to the pool. If we sucked, he’d give it back. Either way, we’d all be paid the same percentage.

We fought like brothers and sisters, but we figured it out. We nailed it. In fact, 20 years later, we’re still amazing friends (I even dated one of the guys a decade later, see also: Never Date the Guy Who Hates HR — just kidding, haven’t written that post… yet;-)

4. Ignore their unique gifts and strengths

It’s easy to develop leaders in our own image, but what if they see the world in an entirely different way? What if they never say a word? Go deeper. Get to know them. In every MBA class I teach, I’m blown away by the men and women who I worried about at the beginning. Go there.

5. Underestimate their capability to grow horizontally as well as vertically.

Everyone wants to move up, and it’s easy to focus on promoting your best and the brightest in your discipline. The truth is, people choose a path early on and it’s often a crap shoot, or overly influenced someone else’s advice. Give people opportunities to draw on new skills, test them in wacky environments, and see how they grow. My career was built on doing things I knew nothing about, and so was my Dad’s. I bet there could be more of us out there if only given the chance.

Developing your people is so important, be sure your work gets the return on investment you deserve.

See Also: A Brilliant Mentoring Match Takes Hearts and Smarts. 

tract small companies

4 Ways Smaller Companies Can Attract Great Talent

There are four main reasons my MBA students give me for wanting to work for the big guys versus a smaller company: prestige, salary/benefits, room for upward mobility, and security. Tough factors for the small guys to compete with for sure. Interesting, those conversations have been juxtaposed with interviews I’ve been doing this week for a mid-sized client, as we’re looking to take their social media strategy to the next level.

Guess who’s applying? Rock stars from the big guys, yup, even MBAs.

When I ask these candidates, “Why would you consider leaving ______ (insert prestigious, high-paying, great benefits, relatively secure company name here)?” the answer is they want a place where they can move faster (less bureaucracy) and be more creative. They want to work for folks who have a strong vision, but are wide open to new ideas (ahh, the sweet smell of confident humility as a competitive weapon).

Of course smaller doesn’t always equate to faster, more creative, or a culture of confident humility, but in this case that’s the value proposition. And it’s working. Score one for the underdogs. 

4 Ways Smaller Companies Can Attract Great Talent

1. Create a Clear Value Proposition

Most smaller companies work this backward, reactively trying to piece together a competitive offer, or packaging their recruiting story so it looks good on paper. To truly attract and retain the best talent in your industry, you’ll need a deliberate plan.

Start with your vision: What’s most important to your ideal candidates? What do you want to be known for as an employer? Then do realistic assessment of your current state. Nothing’s worse than telling candidates you’re fast and creative, if you’re slow and stodgy. The only way to develop a genuine and lasting value proposition is to have a realistic understanding of your gaps.

2. Sell Your Why

Simon Sinek’s golden circle isn’t just about leadership and marketing, it’s vital in the talent wars. The best and brightest are looking for a “why” that matters. Be sure you can articulate yours.

3. Engage Your Team

The 360 interview process is working great for my client because the candidates get to talk to a lot of fired up people. If your team’s fired up, get them involved to help interview. If they’re remote, video interviews are a great option. Plus, your team will bring different perspectives and be a good gauge of cultural fit. Of course, if your team’s not fired up, you’ve got bigger issues. Call me, I can help.

4. Rock Social Media

Go hang out where the talent is. Most of the folks you really want are not looking on job boards. Showing up strong is an easy way to attract the attention of great people who might not otherwise be looking.

Does your human capital strategy need a tune-up? Give me a call for a free consultation, 443-750-1249.

5 Ways to Ensure Your Voice is Heard

In the Q&A after my keynote the other day, a woman (ironically after refusing to use my microphone) asked, “You know that part where you talk about Professor Lupin and facing your fears? What if your biggest fear is that you won’t be heard… how do you make that feel ridiculous?”

We chatted for a moment about really considering what “the worst thing that could happen” was in this scenario. And what would happen if she didn’t speak up at all, which would ensure her fear had come true.  And then she said, “But what if they use the same idea when someone else says it?”

I then I understood that her question was less about fear and more of a “How do I?” question (see also David Dye’s “Leaders Are You Answering the Wrong Question?”).

Eager eyes awaited my response. Apparently she wasn’t the only one facing that challenge.

5 Ways to Ensure Your Voice is Heard:  The VOICE approach

First, when someone offers you a mic, take it. If someone else has to repeat what you say, you’ve already lost some impact. Sometimes the mic is metaphorical (like pulling your chair up to the table if you’re sitting on the sidelines). Here are a few other additional tips.

VVisualize

Visualize what you are going to say and how you’re going to say it. Include it all–the eye contact, the sitting up tall with an open stance, strong projection and confident tone. Visualize their receptive response. It’s much easier to feel confident when you’ve practiced.

O- Organize 

Organize your thoughts in advance. Make an outline if needed. Consider the key points that will support your point of view. Know your opening sentence, so you won’t be tempted to start with a pre-apology (e.g. “This may be a bad idea, but…”)

I- Inquire

If possible do your homework in advance and be aware of other’s opinions on the topic. If you’re responding spontaneously, then ask for feedback. (e.g. “How do you think idea could impact our project?”)

C- Consider

Listen carefully to the opinions and ideas of others. Thank them and respond appropriately, building on and integrating their ideas if possible.

E- Energize

Stay energetic in your delivery. It’s hard to ignore someone is genuinely passionate about their point of view.

Most importantly, be sure you believe what you have to say. If you’re unsure, your audience will be equally skeptical.

Leadership credo Spring 2015

The Power of a Change of Venue

It’s tricky for all of us. I’m teaching the only leadership course these accounting students will take as part of their masters programs. The class runs from 5-10 PM after most have worked all day in their internships, and we’re crammed into a room too small for the big moving around that is critical under such conditions.

All but a handful are on visas from China. This is their final semester, and most who are not finding a job, face a fast-ticking clock that matters.

A good number name public speaking as their greatest fear, and of course it’s a leadership class, and it’s me, and it’s five hours…everybody needs to talk.

Which brings us to tonight, where each student was asked to present their leadership credo (if you want to try this click here, or heck, let me come help you 😉

Now, this is a Karin Hurt classic. It never fails. Until tonight, or so I thought.

The Power of a Change of Venue

It was time to present the credos–the student’s “This I believe” on leadership. Each student sat straight up in their seats. I could see glimpses, so I was optimistic of effort, but nearly everyone had their credo turned face down on the desk.  I invited volunteers to share their credo. I was met with crickets. Then two brave souls came forth with rock star quality presentations— followed by (you guessed it)–more crickets. The class looked at me with big, longing eyes waiting for me to move on. I offered a prize for the creativity folks most admired–not helpful.

Perhaps it was the tenacity to not let this fail, or the panic I felt realizing that this exercise should fill an hour and “We can’t be done in two minutes!”–but, I regrouped.

“I can see you’ve got great stuff by the glimpses I caught as you entered the room. I also see most of you don’t feel comfortable sharing in a crowd.

Let’s go into the hallway.” 45 students formed two circles and I quickly arranged a “speed dating” kind of sharing.

The energy level went up about 10 times, and I quickly realized my previously shy students had something important to say.

One minute in, it was clear, we were disturbing the surrounding classes.

I interrupted. “That’s the spirit! But, now ironically, we’re too loud.” Would anyone object to going outside? (It was sunny but a bit chilly.)

And off we went. You would have thought I had started serving cocktails. Bystanders  were staring as they walked by to see what we were up to.

They shared and admired and celebrated their leadership teachable point of views.

As we returned inside, I shared my “teachable moment.”

“My leadership was failing. I tried to get you to follow and you refused. I had to take a step back and regroup and change the approach (and in this case the venue). If no one’s following, blaming it on your followers may feel good, but it won’t work. If you’re really blowing it, step back and try again.”

And then the magic happened. The class selected one of their quietest members as their “winner” for creativity and content. And then, classmates who had never participated started sharing their credos. The rest of the evening went a whole lot quicker. Ahhh the remarkable power of #confidenthumility.

Effective Communication Karin Hurt and David Dye

How to Inspire Behavior Change

You’ve tried everything, and the bad behavior continues. You don’t want to say “You need to change this behavior or else,” but the truth is–there will be consequences. Keep that “feedback-is-a-gift-and-I-care-about-you” loving feeling in mind, while having a direct conversation about specifically what must change. Don’t linger. Don’t sandwich. Do document.

The INSPIRE Method

Use the INSPIRE method to have a short, to the point, specific conversation about what must change.

I-  Initiate

Initiate the conversation in a respectful manner. Traditional feedback models always start with “asking for permission.” Most of the time that’s an awesome start. Sometimes, though, the conversation isn’t optional. You may need to be more direct.

“I need to talk to you today.  Is this a convenient time?”

N- Notice

Share your concern or observation.

“I’ve noticed there are paint drips on the floor when you leave a job.”

Or, “In listening to your calls, I’ve noticed you’re not really making a connection with the customer.”

S- Support

Provide supporting evidence.

“In the last two homes you painted, there was splattering on the hardwood in the dining room and on the rug in the baby’s room.”

Or, “When the customer told you they were calling to disconnect because their spouse had died, you didn’t express any empathy, you just said that you would be happy to disconnect the line.”

P- Provide

Provide specific suggestions on how the employee could improve.

“I suggest you put down a drop cloth every time you paint.  You should also use masking tape to protect drips on the molding.”

Or, “I suggest you stop to listen to what the customer is really saying, and pause and use an empathy statement before you jump right into action.”

I- Inquire

Ask one or two open ended questions to check for understand and one closed ended question to secure commitment.

“How would your results be better if you did that every time?”

“What concerns do you have about this approach?”

“Do I have your commitment to do that going forward?”

R- Review

Ask them to review what they are committing to do.

“Would you please recap what you’re going to differently next time?”

E- Enforce

Enforce the behavior and why it’s important, while reinforcing your confidence that they can do this.

“Using the drop cloth is a fundamental requirement of this job. In order for you to continue in this position you need to do a quality job.”

“I’m going to check back with you on your next three paint jobs (or calls) and look to ensure you keeping your commitment.”

“You are a very important member of this team and I have every confidence you can do this well.”

“Thank you.”

Often when behavior isn’t changing the feedback is too vague or the conversation goes so long, the employee forgets specifically what they need to do. Work to INSPIRE specific behavior change by using this easy technique.

3 Ways to Avoid the Slippery Slope of Inconsistency

Kendra is late because she was at the hospital with her sick child and barely got home to take a shower… got it. Every now and then managers must make exceptions, no doubt. But now, John is late too, and you feel bad saying something to him, since you just let Kendra off the hook. Before you know it, late is the new black… to work, to meetings, and the envelope is being pushed in other arenas as well.

Or, you’re a Sales Director implementing a new customer information system. Your rock star, Janice, refuses to use it, and you figure it’s no big deal. You don’t want to push her buttons, and she’s got a system that works, so you leave her alone about the requirement. The challenge is everyone wants to be like her (particularly the new guys who need the system the most). Pretty soon, no one’s using the investment and all the incremental sales you baked into the business case are a pipe dream.

3 Ways to Avoid the Slippery Slope of Inconsistency

When people REALLY need an exception, they need an exception. But, most of the time they yearn for consistency. Here are three ways to show up as a human and stay true to your vision.

Explain Your Leadership Viewpoint

Try something like this: “I believe in situational leadership and doing the right thing for people in trying situations. I can’t always disclose WHY I’m chosing to make an exception, but please know that if I do, there’s a private matter at hand that we’re working through. Other than that, I’ll be working to be as consistent as possible. I trust that you will understand that so I can maintain the same flexibility when you have an extreme situation. In order to make this work, I need everyone staying true to our game plan.”

Know Consistency is Valued

In every company I work with I hear a consistent theme in focus groups:  “I wish our managers had tougher and more consistent standards. We’d be so much better if they consistently reinforced the requirements.” I hear that 10 times more than “My manager is too hard on us.”

Chances are everyone is rooting for you to take a stand.  Be human, but often the most fair and reasonable answer is to say “No” to deviant behavior.

Invite Your “A Players” to Be Role Models Not Exceptions

Your “A Players” feel they deserve special treatment. Give it to them. Invite them to help you solve the bigger problem, not stay on the outskirts. If you doubt this can be done, call me. The biggest turnarounds have always involved getting the prima donnas to help for the greater good.

Once your team is headed down a slippery slope, it’s darn impossible to get them moving uphill. Your team is yearning for leadership, parameters and consistency, with the occassional human exception. Approach these situations with the confidence that your vision is important, and the humility to know when their situation warrants an exception.

Do you need help preparing for an important turnaround? Call me for a free consultation. 443-750-1249.