I bet you are thinking I’m referring to “Cover You’re a$$!” with CYA. Well, that one can definitely have negative ramifications on your team so I am writing about a different CYA.
Choose Your Attitude! Your team is often taking your lead on their mood based on your behaviors, mood and attitude.
I am working with a C-Level executive who had been starting all his meetings with the problems happening in his area. The meeting started by listing where the team had missed the mark and then progressed to a general inquisition that occasionally resulted in a beheading. The form of punishment would last until you were either dead or decided to leave the department/organization. While it was not quite that drastic, it felt that way to the participants of the meeting. The leader’s mood would shift from inquisitive to frustrated to pissed off to victim to persecutor and generally wrapped up in resignation by the end of the meeting. Have you ever attended a meeting like this?
How could this go differently? Let’s go all the way back to getting out of bed. One exercise that I both utilize and recommend to my coaching clients is choosing a word or two for the day. When I know I have a challenging meeting coming up, I might choose “curious.” This helps me stay interested in why people are feeling and acting the way they are acting. When I have a busy day filled with coaching sessions, meetings, and kids’ soccer games, I might choose “energy” to help keep my energy up all day. Another common word for me is “awesome”. I like to use this one after a so-so night of sleep. It is easy to respond with “Fine (or okay) because I did not get a great night’s sleep” when you are asked how you are doing. However, when I say awesome, I feel a lift in my step and the other person looks at my quizzically. I generally then say something like I got to take my son to school today and I have 3-4 coaching sessions today that I am looking forward to. Does this work every day, of course not! However, it does help me and my clients create their own story each day instead of showing up like a zombie just getting through the day and reacting to everything.
Okay, so now let’s get back to the team meeting. One recommendation I had for the leader was to get there 2-5 minutes early, and have a personal conversation with his teammates so he could connect better. Next, I asked him to consider starting the meeting with 2 questions for each person—“What has been going well in your area? What are your desired outcomes for this meeting?” These questions shift the mood from defending your areas to celebrating accomplishments and naming what you need help with. This is the land of possibility vs. justification. There are still problems that need to addressed, but the team will get to those after they understand the desired outcomes. The leader I was discussing started doing these two habits and his team is doing significantly better. They feel like they really know him better and they want to come to work for him. Before this started, several team members had confided in me that were looking outside the organization for a new job and they dreaded coming to work. They still know the meetings will be intense at times but that is okay because this team gets results. They feel much more supported now and they know their leader listens to them.
What is your attitude towards change? Do you embrace it or do you whine to your team about another area “making you and your team change.” I can promise you how you describe the change will impact how your followers will respond. I am not saying that all change is easy to accept or that you like it, however, if you state the reasons for the change and why things will be changing, others will follow your attitude and lead. Yes, there will still be some whining but a lot less then when you get in the trenches and whine with your team.
One final thought—how often do you provide recognition vs. giving developmental feedback. I encourage you to try to provide 5 pieces of positive recognition for every piece of developmental feedback you give. People will love this. Watch how your change in attitude will impact the team. So, what attitude will you bring to work tomorrow? Have some fun with this and send me some feedback on what you see in your team. Good luck!