Potential

HOW TO MAXIMIZE YOUR OPERATING RHYTHM

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Each person, group and organization develops an operating rhythm, but do you take time to notice the rhythm and decide how to maximize that rhythm?  Let’s start with a brief definition of what I mean by operating rhythm:  simply put, it is the way we get things done around here.  It is the patterns of our work:  busy vs. slow, high stress times, or even best times of day to get your own work done.

I work with an organization that supports a lot of school districts and the school’s budget cycle is July 1 - June 30.  Thus, May and June are a scramble to get all the contracts into the final budget for the school districts.  August is crazy as well as it is time to train all teachers on the software that has just been bought.  As you interact with this organization, you learn that these months are always a bit hectic, team members can lose perspective for a moment and momentum for some projects gets lost.  After observing this for a couple of years, the Senior Management team started to understand their own rhythm and how they were contributing to the feeling in the organization.  The team now has regular updates, pizza parties and celebrations during this time period.  They also encourage days off right after the busiest season and plan fun events for the team.  The stress is still there, but the perspective and framing of the work is much better now.

What about you?  What are your busy seasons?  What are the best times of the day for you to do your work?  I have learned that I am a morning person and so I do my best work in the morning while the late afternoon can be a fog for me.  I used to run first thing in the morning, but I found that, while it was great for training as my energy was high, I was missing out on my best mental clarity time.  I now do my run most days around 4:00 or 4:30 to get a second shot of energy.  This allows me to release the stress of the day.  I then wrap up a couple of follow-up items, prep for the next day and have the energy to connect with my family.  In the morning, I line up my facilitation and coaching sessions to match the peak of my mental and physical energy.

I would also challenge you to think about your week and year to maximize your rhythm.  I work with some clients who love Monday morning meetings to kick off their week and make sure their team is ready for an awesome week.  I work with other leaders who avoid Monday meetings so they can plan first thing on Monday to launch a great week.  Either can be right, but it is about being intentional. Another client knows that their most productive time of the year is January - May and September - early December.  This leader works extremely hard during both stretches and travels a lot during these months.  However, he takes off almost all of the summer because his clients do not really need a lot of his attention in the summer months.  He does some periodic check-ins, but also spends his time relaxing and enjoying his time away from the office.  Now, I know his schedule will not work for all of you, but I would encourage you to start noticing your own rhythm and see if there are ways to proactively get more out of your day.

When are you most productive?  When are you least productive?  What part of the week are you most creative?  What steps can you take to set up your schedule to maximize your productivity?  

INNOVATION INC: REPAIRING TRUST ON TEAMS

The most valuable asset you have is the imagination of your workforce. There are two key ingredients that develop and deploy the full power of a team’s collective imagination: 1. time to think and 2. trust on the team.

What kills that creativity? What stops people from openly communicating, collaborating and creating together? What will keep the best ideas locked inside the imaginations of the people on your team, or worse, deploy their imaginations to undercut, undermine and obstruct the creative process?

Broken trust.

Broken trust erases the posture of openness in which creativity arises. Betrayal is a very powerful human experience. Many describe the experience of betrayal as worse than loss, because it involves the reordering of our sense of ourselves. When someone breaks our trust they also break inside of us the confidence we have in our relationships and our instincts about how and who to trust.

The implications for trust on teams therefore, is great.

When we create climates of trust we open another level of capacity, competence and creativity. And we also open the door for disappointment, resentment, hurt feelings, and broken trust, all of which, in the right combination, can leave a person or a team feeling betrayed.

Here is what you need to know.

It does not matter if betrayal or broken trust, deceit or deception were your intent. What matters is how you engage with your team once they have interpreted something negatively, and they are trying to make sense of it. It matters a great deal how you behave when people are trying to make sense of their experiences. This meaning-making time is where their beliefs are formed.

Here are some tips that can help you navigate the waters of broken trust on teams, so that you can repair relationships quickly and restore the team to its high-performing strength.

Once trust is broken, stay open!

Trust takes time to build and only a moment to eradicate. Here are some steps to take when miscommunication breaks down:

·       Quickly address and begin to repair broken trust when misunderstandings occur. It may be that both of you need a day to cool off and gain perspective, but don’t wait too long.

·       Communicate that you care. Apologize for the misunderstanding. “I am sorry,” goes a long way.  “I missed the communication on this and I am sorry.”

·       Make time to listen. Soon. Notice I did not say make time to talk. We must listen first to understand.

Some things to keep in mind:

·       Human beings make meaning out of the events in our lives. This is both a blessing and a curse. In her book, Rising Strong Berne Brown has a great phrase that can help us to begin sharing some of the hard things we are thinking about someone else. She invites us to begin the conversation with the phrase: “The story I am making up about this is…..” Somehow this phrase lets us share hard feelings more candidly, yet with a bit of kindness and humor. We allow the other person to have a better picture of what the situation really feels like. Sugar coating the truth doesn’t get us as far as candor does. I’ve tried it, and can assure you this phrase somehow allows and unlocks more candor, and releases us from a posture of judgment and defensiveness. Try it!

·       We judge ourselves by our intent and others by our experience. You may not have intended to lie, mislead, break trust, or betray your colleague, but those are words I often hear behind closed doors. They express how the other person interprets what has happened to them. Remember, it is their interpretation that is driving how they feel about and respond to you, not your intentions.

In short, once trust is broken, go carefully and swiftly to address it, otherwise the breach of trust grows swiftly. It takes much longer to break through hardened feelings that grow with time. Once a story has been written about why we did what we did, it becomes harder for us to challenge those stories by simply listening, caring and asking questions.

Yes, it can be very hard to listen to and acknowledge another person’s story about us, but when we do we are able to do something important with that other person. We can co-create a future together.

We do that by acknowledging and asking questions:

“Wow. I didn’t understand how this came across to you. [acknowledge]

That must have been very hard. I am sorry for that. [apologize]

I don’t want to come across that way again. What can I do differently in the future?” [ask]

What do you do when misunderstandings arise? When trust gets broken?

·       Stay open.

·       Listen.

·       Acknowledge that person’s real experience.

·       Apologize for the misunderstanding.

·       Ask, “What can we do differently together now?”

What comes to us on the other side of these hard experiences can actually be quite rewarding. Like the bones of the body that knit back together more strongly in the broken places, relationships that successfully navigate through misunderstandings and broken trust develop something beyond imagination and creativity, trust and collegiality.  They develop resilience, assurance, and strength.

Trust given is one thing. Trust tested and retained or even trust shattered and restored is another level of relationship entirely. And this is where the real promise and potential begins: on the other side of, “What happens when it breaks?” lies the question, “What is possible now?”  Often the answer is,“A great deal more than before.”

ARE YOU READY TO COMPETE FOR TALENT?

Are you ready to compete for talent? As our economy cycles, things change and people move. According to recent job satisfaction surveys, about 1 in 3 workers will change jobs in the next 6 months, (Saba), 49.5% of employees are "not engaged" and another 16.5% are “actively disengaged." (Gallup)
 
Significant numbers of people have stayed in jobs that may have been less than optimal for various reasons while waiting for their “window of opportunity.” Many organizations are now taking a fresh look at making winning cultural moves in order to foster better workforce engagement and retention. As the economy creates better jobs, employers who are unprepared will pay a high price in turnover.

What should forward looking leaders be thinking about?

·       Act Now – Don’t wait. Re-recruit your stars and rising stars. Understand the demographics of your workforce, what motivates them and then get the “word on the street.” What you hear may not match what you think is going on. Do you actually know what they do day in and day out, or do you think you know?

·       Reinforce the direction of the organization and the rationale for actions taken when the economy was softer.   This simple act of sharing the rationale often helps to cement retention by getting to the “Why”. Key Employees are often attracted to the real mission of an organization but cannot subscribe to what they don’t know.

·       Make it an ongoing conversation. Engage in real recurring genuine touch points that connect key employees to their potential career path. Be 100% certain that they understand expectations and know what it takes to be successful. Be mindful of timing as circumstances can change as stars emerge.

·       Dust off Succession Planning – Marry up the needs of the individual and the needs of the organization. Find out what these employees want. What is their desired outcome? Insulate your organization from the coming flirtations from competitors and search firms as employees become less risk averse.

·       Tell High Potential’s (HiPo’s) they are on the radar screen as HiPo’s. Give them exposure to developmental situations where they may have to lead without authority, increasing their ability to influence. As HiPo’s may rise in the organization, their ability to influence on a bigger scale adds value and they become less of a functional expert.

·       Have a real developmental plan to reduce or eliminate limiting behaviors. Don’t be afraid to spend a little money on it as it will usually pay off in multiples via retention and productivity. These are the behaviors that often limit a star from rising, things like managerial temperament, communication and presentations skills.

So, are you ready to Compete for Talent?

For a deeper dive please listen to our free VoltCast “On Demand”  

HOW TO MAXIMIZE YOUR OPERATING RHYTHM

Each person, group and organization develops an operating rhythm, but do you take time to notice the rhythm and decide how to maximize that rhythm?  Let’s start with a brief definition of what I mean by operating rhythm:  simply put, it is the way we get things done around here.  It is the patterns of our work:  busy vs. slow, high stress times, or even best times of day to get your own work done.

I work with an organization that supports a lot of school districts and the school’s budget cycle is July 1 - June 30.  Thus, May and June are a scramble to get all the contracts into the final budget for the school districts.  August is crazy as well as it is time to train all teachers on the software that has just been bought.  As you interact with this organization, you learn that these months are always a bit hectic, team members can lose perspective for a moment and momentum for some projects gets lost.  After observing this for a couple of years, the Senior Management team started to understand their own rhythm and how they were contributing to the feeling in the organization.  The team now has regular updates, pizza parties and celebrations during this time period.  They also encourage days off right after the busiest season and plan fun events for the team.  The stress is still there, but the perspective and framing of the work is much better now.

What about you?  What are your busy seasons?  What are the best times of the day for you to do your work?  I have learned that I am a morning person and so I do my best work in the morning while the late afternoon can be a fog for me.  I used to run first thing in the morning, but I found that, while it was great for training as my energy was high, I was missing out on my best mental clarity time.  I now do my run most days around 4:00 or 4:30 to get a second shot of energy.  This allows me to release the stress of the day.  I then wrap up a couple of follow-up items, prep for the next day and have the energy to connect with my family.  In the morning, I line up my facilitation and coaching sessions to match the peak of my mental and physical energy.

I would also challenge you to think about your week and year to maximize your rhythm.  I work with some clients who love Monday morning meetings to kick off their week and make sure their team is ready for an awesome week.  I work with other leaders who avoid Monday meetings so they can plan first thing on Monday to launch a great week.  Either can be right, but it is about being intentional. Another client knows that their most productive time of the year is January - May and September - early December.  This leader works extremely hard during both stretches and travels a lot during these months.  However, he takes off almost all of the summer because his clients do not really need a lot of his attention in the summer months.  He does some periodic check-ins, but also spends his time relaxing and enjoying his time away from the office.  Now, I know his schedule will not work for all of you, but I would encourage you to start noticing your own rhythm and see if there are ways to proactively get more out of your day.

When are you most productive?  When are you least productive?  What part of the week are you most creative?  What steps can you take to set up your schedule to maximize your productivity?  

WHAT IS YOUR INTERFERENCE?

Do you have a friend or a co-worker that has amazing potential, but their actual performance consistently comes up short of their potential?  Do they understand why this is?  Can you put your finger on what their challenge is?  

One of the most frequent conversations that I have with leaders is regarding employee potential.  It begins, “Jeff, I have a person on my team that seems to have great potential, but their actual results come in below my expectations.  Can you spend some time with them and help me figure out what is going on?”

How about yourself:  do you feel that you have more potential than you are able to achieve?

Let’s start with one of my favorite formulas in leadership from Tim Gallwey, who described this formula in his book, The Inner Game of Tennis.

P = p - i

P = Performance

p = potential

i = interference

Performance = potential - interference

The goal is to be able to have your performance match your potential, but what gets in the way is your interference. 

Here are some common types of interference I see in my coaching clients: 

·       arrogance,

·       lack of building relationships,

·       overly task orientated,

·       lack of vision,

·       poor planning,

·       poor time management,

·       lack of ability to deliver feedback,

·       poor delegation skills,

·       trouble balancing work and home life,

·       alcohol or drugs and many other things.

Let me present a case study to highlight the challenge.  I am currently working with an executive who is a great problem solver with strong technical skills, strong experiences, great work ethic and who posts great results.  This is a promising beginning and a lot of great talents. What is the problem? This leader struggles to build relationships with peers and direct reports. His intensity, task focus and driving persona make it hard for others to connect with him. Thus, he gets great results on a project, but most people do not want to work with him again because of his intensity.  This interference is keeping him from being as effective as possible.  Additionally, it is keeping him from being promoted.  What should he do?

The good news is that he is aware of this part of his personality.  Next, I let him know that he judges himself by his intentions while others judge him by his impact and actions.  He would mean to start a meeting with an icebreaker question and he would mean to provide recognition at the end of the week.  However, he was not doing these things and his team was frustrated.  He now puts it on his calendar to provide recognition several times a week.  He also gets up a couple times a day and makes his way to see some of his team members.  He can sometimes still be a bit intense in these interactions, but he has worked hard on providing recognition and taking an interest in his team members and peers lives.  The results—people are starting to share more feedback with him, provide ideas and even seek him out. He is being more intentional with his calendar and the impact is positive for his team.

What is your interference that is keeping you from reaching your full potential?  Who can you feedback to help you reach your potential?