motivation

5 EASY WAYS TO BRING GRATITUDE TO THE OFFICE

This time of year is filled with swarming demands. You are juggling to-do lists, replies to investors, flittering holiday schedules. You have yearly success to evaluate and ugly sweaters to pick. It’s easy to feel like there is not enough — not enough time, not enough talent, not enough appreciation for the work you and your team are doing.

All this not-enough-ness leaves us feeling empty and depleted rather than full of comfort and joy.

Conscious leaders can gracefully combat feelings of scarcity by incorporating gratitude into the workday. Simple shifts towards thankfulness will inspire teams and provide hope and prosperity for the year ahead.

Here are five easy-to-implement ideas to inspire gratitude for your team and organization.

1. Make a list.

Take a break and grab a pen. Go sit somewhere quiet and make a list of what you are thankful for in your organization. Are there standout employees making a difference? Are you proud of new accomplishments or thankful for the light dancing across your keyboard as you type your next important email? Taking time to stop and make a list of what brings you joy at work can ground you. Then, take the time to share your responses with your team. When you lead with a vulnerable heart, this sets the stage for employees to follow, which leads to …

2. Acknowledge what’s going right.

Leaders are programmed to problem-solve. Addressing challenges and navigating unknowns probably led to your success. It is natural to jump right in and tackle obstacles with your team. A key shift towards leading with gratitude is to first recognize all the things going well right now. Start simple to build your gratitude muscles. The printer is working, and the lights are on. All members of your team arrived safely on time. Fresh coffee is percolating. Then you can move on to recognize the positive results of your team’s contributions. Last week’s demanding client is now thrilled with revision three of their blueprints. Perhaps you cut costs by changing suppliers and made five new connections leading to new sales.

Keep a running list with your team and review together at the end of each month. Celebrate your successes and confidently move forward to address new challenges. You can also…

3. Learn what your employees are thankful for in their work.

One-on-one meetings are essential to healthy workplaces. Providing space to share successes and voice concerns with a leader on a regular basis leads to better results. Rather than drag, these hours can be inspiring problem-solving sessions designed to provide insight on engagement and satisfaction at work.

Ask questions like:

  • What are you doing well?*
  • What are you working to improve?*
  • What roadblocks are in your way?*
  • How can we support you better?*
  • What about your work are you most thankful for?

These questions prompt employees to ponder which aspects of the job they enjoy and where they are thriving. They also uncover areas for improvement and perceived feelings of positive impact in their current roles. If employees struggle to identify what they are thankful for, you can work together to create a plan to make work more rewarding. Encourage them to go back to point number one and make their own gratitude lists. If they feel comfortable, invite them to share their responses with you.

4. Express gratitude for employee’s efforts.

Conscious leaders understand that people are vital to a healthy organization. With mixtures of personalities, preferences, and time available, you may feel unsure of how to express your thanks and appreciation to members of your team. Some folks love a good superlative, while others would prefer to melt away than stand on stage and accept an award. Take the time to ask what makes your employee feel special. Add a line to on-boarding paperwork to track favorite desserts or what movies they enjoy. Keep these notes in their file or their contact info on your phone. Then, when you notice a standout action, you can leave a note and a small token of appreciation on their desk. Too touchy-feely or out of budget? Jot a quick note-of-thanks email and click send. Or better yet…

5. Say thank you, in person, with an authentic heart.

My first job was a receptionist in a nail salon. I made appointments, put on jackets, and buckled folks in to the driver’s seat so their nail polish wouldn’t smear. At the end of each day, the owner would tell me, “Thank you for your work today.” No matter how many toe-nail clippings I’d swept or demanding women I’d navigated, I always felt seen and appreciated when my boss would say thanks. As an organizational gatekeeper, I’ve worked with many colleagues who say they like their work and they wish their bosses were more aware of how they navigate the frustrating parts of their roles. Employees want to be seen. Acknowledge the metaphorical toe nails and repeat the phrase, “Thank you for your work today,” with a sense of authentic appreciation as often as you can.

It takes time to see your people. When you choose to invite gratitude into your spaces and conversations, you can appreciate the positive impacts you and your organization make. Try out these ideas before the end of the year. With practice, you’ll be able to encourage your team to focus, with grateful hearts, on all you set out to accomplish.

This Article was written by Katie Huey of Conscious Company Media – Original here>

2019-06-14T11:37:38+00:00January 2nd, 2019|Culture, Emotional Intelligence, Employee Engagement, Motivation|

Two Simple Words That Help Drive Employee Engagement and Company Results

Employee EngagementWhen you put people first, profits follow.

You don’t get to be in the 100 Best Companies to Work For, for 19 years in a row, just by luck.

So when I saw that one of my local firms had achieved that goal, I went to meet with them to find out just how they had done that.

When I asked Stephanie Slate, Director of Talent Acquisition at JM Family Enterprises, a $14.9billion company, how they achieved such great levels of employee engagement, Stephanie’s put me straight right from the get go.

“Firstly,” Stephanie said “we don’t call people employees, we call them Associates. This is critical to our corporate culture because we want people to feel that they work with us, and not for us.”

“Secondly our high associate engagement comes from a simple philosophy of People First. This is has been embedded into our culture, and it’s this that really makes the difference.”

Now, to be honest, People First is not a concept that I was hearing of for the first time.

In fact, I would say that the majority of CEO’s talk about People First cultures, but given that 68% of staff in the US are disengaged, clearly not everyone is walking the talk, so what is JM Family doing differently.

Stephanie said, “To create the People First culture, you need to have leaders who live the culture, which founder Jim Moran did, as does current CEO Colin Brown, and you need to recruit people that fit into that culture to both to maintain and strengthen it.”

Cultural fit is the most important recruitment quality that JM Family looks for in potential.

If a candidate has amazing skills but won’t fit the culture, then they don’t get hired. Stephanie mentioned that JM Family would even hire people with a great cultural fit and train them in the skills needed for the position, such is the importance of cultural fit to them.

So what does a People First culture look like?

During our conversation, there were several key themes that kept re-emerging, and these were.

  • Respect
  • Caring
  • Communication and Connection
  • Empowerment
  • Opportunities
  • Appreciation

Respect

JM Family wants their associates to feel both valued and respected. They encourage the new associates to ask questions, to be curious, and they listen to them, even the new associates.

With every new change that comes along, one of the first questions to be asked by senior management is “how will this impact our associates?’

Caring

The company cares about its associates, and it shows that by offering an excellent benefits package, but the caring extends well beyond that. They have medical staff and daycare services on site at main locations; they have several programs they have implemented and support that helps associates in times of hardship.

They even have a LifeCare Program, which is like an Associate concierge service that helps with non-work related issues. Stephanie said that she had used that service to help find a florist for her wedding.

Communication and Connection

Communication is key to ensuring that your associates feel like they work with you and not for you. During the onboarding process, all new Associates get to meet with a Vice President for a day, the Executive Management Team and are invited to a group Q&A session with the CEO.

They get to speak with them and ask them questions first hand. This not only helps the communication flow but also helps to make good connections between the new Associates and the Executive Management team.

I was also surprised to see that everyone calls the CEO by his first name and are very comfortable to approach him. This was something that I actually witnessed rather than was just told about.

Empowerment

Associates are encouraged to ask questions and to challenge things, although this has to be done constructively and in ways that will benefit the company. They also encourage associates to try new things and to learn from their mistakes, rather than to punish or criticize them for it.

This helps to create an empowered workforce that is proactive when they see opportunities to benefit the company.

Opportunities

One of the key reasons people cite for leaving their employers is a lack of career development and opportunities. When a company takes an approach where they hire for cultural fit and willing to train for a position, and they have five different divisions, there will always be opportunities to either advance or to try something different.

Appreciation

Appreciation is one of our most basic needs, after food, shelter, and safety, and JM Family do a great job at showing their Associates that they are appreciated. They have regular appreciation dinners and awards, and they also have a peer to peer appreciation program which allows people to recognize their colleagues for great work that they have done. Sometimes great work goes unseen by management, but programs like this allow for people to be recognized by their peers and for their efforts to be brought to the attention of the management.

So it’s great that JM Family has been ranked in the Top 100 companies 19 years in a row, but what does all this mean to the bottom line?

JM Family’s staff turnover rate is 7.1 percent, which is well below their competitors, which helps to reduce cost, which increases profit.

Their staff stays with the company 10.1 years on average, which compares very favorably with the national average of 4.2, and are happy to recommend the company, and the majority of new hires come from referrals which help to keep down recruitment costs and ensures that any open positions are filled quickly.

They have achieved record revenues in each of the last five years, with an average revenue growth of around 12 percent per year since 2011.

When you put your people first you create an engaged, excited and empowered work force, which helps to keep costs down and revenues growing.

Original Article by Gordon Tredgold- here

 

Emotional Control was key to Irish Rugby 6 nations Victory over England

Joe Schmidt and his team did a wonderful job on the emotional management of the Ireland team on Saturday last. With so much on the line and in such a cauldron of intensity and pressure they played angry and cool – a potent combination.

Rugby is a funny old sport for many reasons. Such as the fact that a 6ft 11in second row can play alongside a 5ft 9in who is 8 stone lighter, that you move forward by passing backward and that you beat seven shades of **** out of one another and shake hands with and cheer the opposition afterwards.

The physical and mental challenge particularly at the top level is daunting and I remember meeting many Americans on rugby tours, who can’t believe we play this game without padding and helmets like American Football. To be up for the challenge, to be able to give the sort of effort for this period of time requires a teeth gritting intensity of emotion that has to be raised and then maintained for the full game. Different players get there in different ways, some use anger, some fear and some pure will.

To meet some of the challenges of “putting your body on the line” requires getting into a state of mind that ignores pain as required and which ignores what you are putting your body through. Two 16 stone centres run into one another at speed, there is a 32 stone collision magnified by the momentum, there is effectively a car crash, inertia, g-force and falling to the ground without the ability to use your arms (one pair is protecting the ball and the other pair is making the tackle). When they get up after the first tackle all they have to do is do it another 20 times, while running 7-10 miles in 1000 directions at 10 different speeds while staying aware of every attempt by the opposition to invent a way around them.

So this requires emotional regulation. Fast thinking (as per nobel winner Dr Daniel_Kahneman) of the sort required to react fast and make decisions in milliseconds is generally emotional in nature and it is also supported by good habits learned over years. Slow thinking – meaning thinking with the linear process-driven side of your head about the game and staying cool to make the right tactical decisions is different. Too much emotion can cause this part of your brain (with plans-logic-control) to be hard to access as your amygdala ( the part of your brain which has a primary role in the processing decision-making and emotional reactions) goes too much into fight or flight mode and your thinking and some of your habit based learning suffers or shuts down. Too much pressure to perform also shuts it down – interestingly a psychologist once told me we are most vulnerable to this as teenagers right around the time of the leaving cert (!).

It is well known by cognitive psychologists that too much pressure causes the player to use the same pathways to perform a skill that he or she used while learning the skill – like learning to drive versus experienced driving which is almost automatic. This is illustrated in sport by a study that showed that soccer players in the World Cup taking penalty kicks in the shootout to decide a game’s outcome are twice as likely to miss if they are kicking “not to lose” rather than kicking to win their game. Same goal, situation and ball but just a pressure difference.

Look at the pivotal role of the coach and/or leader in all of this. Trying to get the players ready to function with the punishment and intensity yet trying to keep them thinking so they play cute but also to their maximum physical capacity. Sometimes it’s a matter of taking pressure off. Joe Schmidt the Ireland coach has shown the skills to do this alongside the leaders in the team. Think of the narrow window through which he must motivate and engage his team. Enough intensity but not too much. Enough pressure to perform but no too much. Last Saturday was a masterclass.

Organisational and business teams who understand and use emotion rather than ignoring it – benefit from it hugely through increased performance and better outcomes in almost every area. Motivating and generating the most enthusiasm you can while keeping pressure off your team so they feel the freedom to try things, to innovate and be agile while keeping an eye on the strategy and tactics is a big challenge but necessary to be competitive in the 21st century organisation. Schmidt’s Ireland team demonstrated a level of tuned motivation and performance that was made possible by emotional understanding and control.

In rugby the famous warm-ups before matches with banging of heads etc are becoming less common – one such a man from Munster once told me about was of a French team they were playing in a club game who brought a cockerel into the dressing room before the match. During the warm-up in the dressing room my friend’s team could hear all sorts of shouting and bellowing en Francais reverberating through the thin walls. The French team ran out first and as my friend’s team passed the door to their dressing room as they followed them out, they looked in to see blood and feathers all over the place and no cockerel. “After seeing that” he said “we let them have the ball”

Aidan Higgins BE MBA of ADEO Consulting is a Leadership, Emotional Intelligence and Teamwork specialist working with Leaders and Teams in Ireland and the UK. He has over 25 years experience working in various capacities with individuals, teams and organisations of all sizes.

Emotional Intelligence and Teams

Emotional intelligence and teamsFor the past twenty years, important research has been done in organizations that backs up the claims made in the nineties relating to Emotional Intelligence and its importance by Goleman and many others. Research has shown that feelings and emotions have a direct impact on effectiveness, efficiency and ultimately the bottom line.

Emotional Intelligence has been shown to lead to better customer retention and long term customer relationships, and improved: Trust, Engagement, Influencing, Collaboration, Communication, Decision Making and Change Capability it also leads to Reduced Conflict.

Numerous studies explore the financial implication of emotional intelligence; particularly how higher EQ leaders produce more powerful business results. One such study tested 186 executives on EQ and compared their scores with their company’s profitability; leaders who scored higher in key aspects of emotional intelligence (including empathy and accurate self-awareness) were more likely to be highly profitable.  Leadership and Organization Development Journal 2009

Looking at the emotional intelligence of teams is important because most of the work in organizations today is done by teams. Leaders have a pressing need today to make teams work together better.

Modern businesses thrive when using teams to organize the work. Teams have more talent and experience, more diversity of resources, and greater operating flexibility than individual performers. Research in the last decade has proven the superiority of group decision-making over that of even the brightest individual in
the group. But the exception to this rule is when the group lacks harmony or the ability to cooperate. Then decision-making quality and speed suffer.

The important difference between effective teams and ineffective ones lies in the emotional intelligence of  the group. Teams have an emotional intelligence of their own. It is comprised of the emotional intelligence of individual members, plus a collective competency of the group. Everyone contributes to the overall level of emotional intelligence, and the leader has more influence. The good news is that teams can develop greater emotional intelligence and boost their performance.Teamwork performance improved by 25% in terms of goal achievement over standard functioning teams.

Most research has focused on identifying the tasks and processes that make teams successful. But just learning a script won’t make a good actor great; the actor has to be able to deliver the lines with real feeling. A piano student can learn the music of Bach, but she has to be able to play with heart to be really good. Successful teams can apply the principles of effective task processes, but they must also work together wholeheartedly.

Group Emotional Intelligence

In an article entitled “Building the Emotional Intelligence of groups,” Vanessa Urch Druskat and Steven B. Wolff (Harvard Business Review, March 2001) identify three conditions essential to a group’s effectiveness:

  • Trust among members
  • A sense of group identity
  • A sense of group efficacy

To be most effective, the team needs to create emotionally intelligent norms — the attitudes and behaviors that eventually become habits — that support behaviors for building trust, group identity and group efficacy. Group identity is described as a feeling among members that they belong to a unique and worthwhile group. A sense of group efficacy is the belief that the team can perform well and that group members are more effective working together than apart.

Group emotional intelligence is not a question of catching emotions as they bubble up and then suppressing them. It involves courageously bringing feelings out into the open and dialoging about how they affect the team’s work. If emotions are avoided, there is a false or superficial tone that “everything’s just fine.” Groups cannot work together without having personalities that butt up against each other. Admitting to this is the first step in clarifying and finding common ground upon which to move forward.

Group emotional intelligence is also about behaving in ways that build relationships both inside and outside the team. Building relationships strengthens the team’s ability to face challenges. In order to strengthen relationships, the group must feel safe to be able to explore, embrace and ultimately to rely on emotions in work. Emotions must be considered for the good of the group. Feelings count, but then there are the tasks at hand and the work that needs to be done. Team leaders must constantly balance harmony with productivity.

A team’s effectiveness can depend on how well it works together in harmony. A leader skilled in creating good feelings can keep cooperation high. Good team leaders know how to balance the focus on productivity with attention to member’s relationships and their ability to connect. There is even research that shows that humor at work can stimulate creativity, open lines of communications and enhance a sense of trust. Playful joking increases the likelihood of concessions during a negotiation. Emotionally intelligent team leaders know how to use humor and playfulness with their teams.

Creating good moods in employees may be even more important than previously thought. It is common sense to see that workers who feel upbeat will go the extra mile to please customers and therefore improve the bottom line. There is research to show that for every 1 percent improvement in the service climate, there’s a 2 percent increase in revenue. New research from a range of industries now reaffirms the link between leadership and climate and to business performance. According to Daniel Goleman in Primal Leadership (2002), how people feel about working at a company can account for 20 to 30 percent of business performance.

Part of understanding the emotional reality of a team is uncovering the particular habits ingrained in a team or organization that can drive behaviors. A prime example is the notion of “It’s just the way we do things here.” The team leader is effective when he or she looks for signs that reveal if such habits are working or not. It is the leader’s job to explore and expose unhealthy work habits in order to build more effective group norms.

In any group, people will eventually cross lines and confrontation becomes necessary. There must be a means for doing this that is firm yet not demeaning. The team leader sets the tone for this because of the position he or she is in. Caring confrontation is an art that can be learned and taught to both leaders and members. The use of humor can be very effective as a means for bringing errant members back into the group fold. The message is, “We want you as part of this group, your contributions are needed.”

These are the group norms that build trust and a sense of group identity for members: interpersonal understanding, perspective taking, confrontation and caring. They can be learned and developed wherever they don’t exist naturally. It may take some time and attention, but they are too important to be overlooked. Teams are at the very foundation of organizational effectiveness and they won’t work without mutual trust and common commitment to goals.

Building self-managing teams that have emotional intelligence

One of the first tasks of a team leader is to build greater team awareness. This is the job of each individual member of the team, as well, but the leader’s job is to instill a sense of responsibility individuals for the well-being of the team. In order to do so, Cary Cherniss, chair of a well-known research group on emotional intelligence, puts forth ground rules for teams. Everyone on the team should take responsibility for:

  • Keeping us on track if we get off track
  • Facilitating group input
  • Raising questions about procedures, asking for clarification about where we are going and offering summaries of issues being discussed to make sure we have a shared understanding
  • Using good listening skills to build on the ongoing discussion or to clearly signal that we want to change the subject, and ask if that is okay

This is an example of how a leader can create a self-managing team. What is important for the leader, emphasizes Cherniss, is to remind the group of its collaborative norms by making them explicit. Everyone can practice them because they are upfront and repeated at each meeting.

Clearly the setting forth of core values and operating norms is important to ensure that a team works smoothly together. But like most things, they must be repeated again and again. When values and norms are clear, teams can go about their work even in the absence of the leader.
In self-aware self-managing teams, members hold each other accountable for sticking to norms. It takes a strong emotionally intelligent leader to hold the team to such responsibility. Many teams are not accustomed to proactively handling emotions and habits. And many leaders have difficulty stepping out of the role of director in order to let teams self-direct.

However, when the values and norms are clear, and self-management principles are explicit and practiced over time, teams become not only effective, but also self-reinforcing. Being on the team leads to positive emotions that energize and motivate people.

Every company faces specific performance challenges for which teams are the most practical and powerful vehicle. The critical challenge for senior managers is how to develop emotionally intelligent teams that can deliver maximum performance. Teams have a unique potential to deliver results, and executives must foster self-managing and emotionally intelligent teams that will be effective. In doing so, top management creates the kind of environment that enables teams as well as individuals to thrive. So the Organisation can thrive.

Leadership: Politics Or Performance?

Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone And Lead
As we enter organizations, we each face a simple choice: Do we primarily play politics, or do we try daily to perform at our best?

Why do we often choose to play politics? Because the politics of the organization often appear to dictate who is hired, promoted and rewarded, and so playing politics seems to be our best chance to control our plight, especially in a volatile business climate.

Business is not predictable; in fact, outside forces are always creating disruptions that require major shifts in how we work together. We join a company that is headed in one direction, and the next minute it’s turning 180 degrees in another direction.

We can’t control all the market shifts; as leaders, we can only proactively respond to them or try to influence them and ensure that everyone moves with agility in the right direction.

But the big question is this: How do you get everyone to successfully shift, learn new skills, and embrace change for the good of the company?

In the process of change we, as leaders, are bombarded with an incredible amount of detail. Do we have to educate and train employees on a new business direction? Do we leave it to the Human Resources department, or do we educate a few who teach the rest? Who announces the shift and how? What happens if people are afraid of change or don’t want to take on the new challenges, for fear that they won’t learn as fast as others or, worse still, that they may fail?

And, what if you are the one having difficulty? You want to stay with your organization but don’t like the direction it’s headed. What do you do? Do you try overtly to influence other executives to change their minds? Or do you play politics behind the scenes, trying to keep everyone from changing?

Step out of Your Comfort Zone

Answer the following seven self-assessment questions and try to get a realistic picture of how you fare when faced with changes and pressures in the workplace.

1. When challenged by others: Do you doubt your own abilities to lead and allow fear to drive you into defensive behaviors? Or Do you engage with others to build partnerships for success?

2. When competition is fierce: Do you hold on to your old avoidance behaviors or rely on old strategies that have helped in the past? Or Do you focus on engaging with others to discover new strategies for success?

3. When expectations for performance are high: Do you get upset with employees because they are not delivering results? Or Do you focus on having developmental coaching discussions to help them reconnect to their aspirations and skills for success?

4. When your bonus is on the line: Do you step in and get involved in your employees work for fear they may make mistakes? Or Do you focus on engaging with others to discover new strategies for success?

5. When you manage a team: Do you give people the freedom to make decisions and then take back their power when they do things differently than you would? Or Do you focus on Letting Go and allowing them to discover their own answers?

6. When you are leading: Do you find employees retreating, avoiding confrontation, or losing faith in your management? Or Do you focus on encouraging employees to discover their leadership instincts?

7. When employees’ performance is low: Do you confront these problems by deciding it is easier to fire them? Or Do you focus on having courageous conversations and help them grow?

What does this self-assessment show you about how you function when faced with changes and pressures in the workplace?

I encourage you to engage with others to build partnerships for success—to co-create new strategies, to reconnect people to their professional aspirations, to enable people to discover their own answers and their leadership instincts by developing and using your conversational intelligence to have courageous conversations and help them grow.

Original Article here

by Judith E Glaser

psychologytoday.com

Good Leaders understand and use Autonomy

I was coaching a number of C-Suite Leaders from a large multi-national a few weeks ago and part of our work included the topic of Autonomy and its importance to Leadership. Great discussions and feedback reminded me there are some assumptions and some blind spots with regard to autonomy.

Autonomy and Motivation

The level of autonomy is the degree to which an organisation or leader gives their people the discretion or independence to schedule their work and determine how it is to be done. It can also mean allowing them to determine which work to do, trusting them to select their solution to a problem using their understanding of organisational strategy in the context of the organisations vision and goals.

Autonomy is important to motivation, one of the top three people motivators in fact. It helps your people feel they have some say in what happens and that they can make a difference in the world.

Autonomy is a key part of empowerment and engagement so including it and using it as part of one’s Leadership style is very important.

In a bureaucratic or hierarchical organisation autonomy is limited. Not only is this de-motivational but it retards decision making, response times, service quality and people growth over time. The more decisions people can make the more they learn and grow. Sometimes people make mistakes. People make less mistakes with experience, and when supported by training and communication and an understanding of the goals and objectives even less. Autonomy also allows the growth of your next stage of leaders who take over when decision makes leave or go missing.

 

How much Autonomy is needed?

This is something to judge in context. There is a difference between delegation and abdication. Throwing someone in at the deep end can teach them to swim, but sometimes they drown.

A good leader will encourage autonomy in their people. They will make a decision about the level of risk suitable to the roles involved. They will look at risk and work to mitigate through mentoring and support. So it is a complex decision but in general there is not enough autonomy given. Leaders who keep intervening to fix the problem are often well meaning but this is not the best solution in the long term. Serving your team is about putting in place that which is needed for the team to thrive. Some leaders only give Autonomy to some of their people and often need to review how their perspective or opinion of some of their people (particularly those not being given autonomy) is influencing who gets autonomy and who does not. This can be a blind spot.

 

Leaderships own Autonomy

It is also a good exercise to examine one’s own relationship with autonomy. A Leader who has no autonomy is not a Leader.  He or she is a manager. In a bureaucratic organisation, a “leader” who is all about control and “the rules” cannot inspire or motivate or engage the people around him. If this person becomes about growing his or her people, about carving out autonomy and with resources, empowerment – then he or she becomes a leader.

On the other hand a leader who is overly focused on their own autonomy may have problems aligning with the organisations goals and objectives. This can become apparent when change happens and the organisation is forced to change direction. Sometimes these leaders become about their own power, whether this is used for their own ends or to protect their own team this can cause tensions in the organisation.

A key part of leadership growth is to become aware of their relationship with autonomy. Both their own and that of their people. Part of this relationship is often emotional and often this can be a part of mindfulness or awareness work.

Aidan Higgins

Employee Engagement needs Emotional Leadership

engaged-employeesIt was a few years ago now,  I was talking to corporate HR departments about employee engagement and ways to engender it. Some interesting strategies on rewards and remuneration were around and some of the incentive or “points” reward systems were in place. In Ireland in particular, high employment meant getting and securing suitable employees was a challenge.  And keeping them was a high priority especially after training costs and the costs of actually employing them were taken into account. In high turnover industries like call centres – staff would move for the slightest increase in salary and often companies would find themselves hiring back employees who had left –one year later at a much higher hourly rate.

Things have changed. Unemployment is high, savings are low, property is where it is and there is an idea out there that people are happy to “have jobs” and can be treated less well.  Not true. I have noticed that key performers for the Sales and IT functions for example, are often hard to locate in Ireland currently. A number of businesses I work with find these positions hard to fill – with the right people. the search for and retention of talent remains a key competitive goal.

While there have been a lot of cutbacks the retained staff in organisations have to do more, have a wider brief (requiring more training and key skills) and own more intellectual capital than heretofore. Assuming that those that are currently engaged are performers it is more critical than ever to keep them and their key skills. Not only is retention required but in this “New Economy” they need to be operating at their full potential in a way that is sustainable and positive. They need to be “Engaged”.

Employee engagement means employees  being involved in, and enthusiastic about their work, who consistently act in ways that further their company’s interests without reward or external motivational factors. Engagement is distinctively different from employee satisfaction, motivation and organisational culture and contributes directly to shareholder value (the bottom line folks!). Despite this recent figures from Gallup for example show companies falling considerably below the targeted engagement levels.

While Engagement is distinctively different, it is driven by satisfaction, motivation and culture – as well as a sense of belonging and being valued. It is about passion, for your job, your team, your brand and what the company is trying to achieve. And passion is more than a number. Passion is an emotion.

To engage employees and get them passionate one must use passion and communicate passion and act passionately. One must communicate on an emotional level with people – because to get them passionate you must connect emotionally. As a leader it’s a considerable advantage to be emotionally intelligent. To engender world class performance you must work with people on an intellectual level and an emotional level. I also think to be at its best there needs to be an instinctual or gut level connection.

The results of using the three levels and particularly the underdeveloped emotional level are been seen as having huge impact in organisations. Being emotionally Intelligent is not about being emotional, but of being able to understand your own and others emotions and act accordingly. Through understanding how you are, how others are, how empathy works and understanding how to communicate with this understanding.

Your key employees can resonate with positive emotions if you lead them in this way. This resonance passes through the organisation like ripples on a pond engaging other employees and customers too after all – they are never more enamoured with your company than your people are.

It starts with Leadership. They are the core. They can be the stones dropped into the still pond to send out ripples of energy, motivation and positivity impacting all your people and your results. To the spreadsheet lovers out there – that’s “leveraging your Human Capital to deliver bottom line results and shareholder value!”

Why Should Teams Build Their Team Emotional Intelligence?

Team Emotional Intelligence is linked to very significant outcomes in terms of goal achievement. No one would dispute the importance of making teams work more effectively. But most research about how to do so has focused on identifying the task processes that distinguish the most successful teams—that is, specifying the need for cooperation, participation, commitment to goals, and so forth. The assumption seems to be that, once identified, these processes can simply be imitated by other teams, with similar effect. It’s not true. By analogy, think of it this way: a piano student can be taught to play Minuet in G, but he won’t become a modern-day Bach without knowing music theory and being able to play with heart. Similarly, the real source of a great team’s success lies in the fundamental conditions that allow effective task processes to emerge—and that cause members to engage in them wholeheartedly.

Our research tells us that three conditions are essential to a group’s effectiveness: trust among members, a sense of group identity, and a sense of group efficacy. When these conditions are absent, going through the motions of cooperating and participating is still possible. But the team will not be as effective as it could be, because members will choose to hold back rather than fully engage. To be most effective, the team needs to create emotionally intelligent norms—the attitudes and behaviors that eventually become habits—that support behaviors for building trust, group identity, and group efficacy. The outcome is complete engagement in tasks.

Three Levels of Emotional Interaction

Make no mistake: a team with emotionally intelligent members does not necessarily make for an emotionally intelligent group. A team, like any social group, takes on its own character. So creating an upward, self-reinforcing spiral of trust, group identity, and group efficacy requires more than a few members who exhibit emotionally intelligent behavior. It requires a team atmosphere in which the norms build emotional capacity (the ability to respond constructively in emotionally uncomfortable situations) and influence emotions in constructive ways.

Team emotional intelligence is more complicated than individual emotional intelligence because teams interact at more levels. To understand the differences, let’s first look at the concept of individual emotional intelligence as defined by Daniel Goleman. In his definitive book Emotional Intelligence, Goleman explains the chief characteristics of someone with high EI; he or she is awareof emotions and able to regulate them—and this awareness and regulation are directed both inward,to one’s self, and outward, to others. “Personal competence,” in Goleman’s words, comes from being aware of and regulating one’s own emotions. “Social competence” is awareness and regulation of others’ emotions.

A group, however, must attend to yet another level of awareness and regulation. It must be mindful of the emotions of its members, its own group emotions or moods, and the emotions of other groups and individuals outside its boundaries.

When a member is not on the same emotional wavelength as the rest, a team needs to be emotionally intelligent vis-à-vis that individual. In part, that simply means being aware of the problem. Having a norm that encourages interpersonal understanding might facilitate an awareness that Jill is acting out of defensiveness. And picking up on this defensiveness is necessary if the team wants to make her understand its desire to amplify her good work, not negate it.

Some teams seem to be able to do this naturally. At Hewlett-Packard, for instance, we learned of a team that was attempting to cross-train its members. The idea was that if each member could pinch-hit on everyone else’s job, the team could deploy efforts to whatever task required the most attention. But one member seemed very uncomfortable with learning new skills and tasks; accustomed to being a top producer in his own job, he hated not knowing how to do a job perfectly. Luckily, his teammates recognized his discomfort, and rather than being annoyed, they redoubled their efforts to support him. This team benefited from a group norm it had established over time emphasizing interpersonal understanding. The norm had grown out of the group’s realization that working to accurately hear and understand one another’s feelings and concerns improved member morale and a willingness to cooperate.

Many teams build high emotional intelligence by taking pains to consider matters from an individual member’s perspective. Think of a situation where a team of four must reach a decision; three favor one direction and the fourth favors another. In the interest of expedience, many teams in this situation would move directly to a majority vote. But a more emotionally intelligent group would pause first to hear out the objection. It would also ask if everyone were completely behind the decision, even if there appeared to be consensus. Such groups would ask, “Are there any perspectives we haven’t heard yet or thought through completely?”

Perspective taking is a team behavior that teamwork experts discuss often—but not in terms of its emotional consequence. Many teams are trained to use perspective-taking techniques to make decisions or solve problems (a common tool is affinity diagramming). But these techniques may or may not improve a group’s emotional intelligence. The problem is that many of these techniques consciously attempt to remove emotion from the process by collecting and combining perspectives in a mechanical way. A more effective approach to perspective taking is to ensure that team members see one another making the effort to grapple with perspectives; that way, the team has a better chance of creating the kind of trust that leads to greater participation among members, and better outcomes in terms of Goal achievement.

Adapted from the Original Article by Druskatt and Wolff > here

2019-04-10T09:21:33+00:00January 30th, 2014|Emotional Intelligence, Leadership, Team Performance|

Empowerment is the key factor

navy1I was once on a course at the IMI and my teacher was Prof  Terri Monroe from the University of San Diego. The module was leadership and she took a very interesting couple of days where she was a guide rather than a teacher. This unsettled some who were used to being told what to do next (despite being executive level management) but she was keen to let us evolve the learning and watch the leadership dynamics in the group. So she gave us all the leeway we wanted. I found this new and interesting.

She spoke about her work with the US Navy and how the dymanics of the armed forces had changed considerably from the “Over the Top” mentality of the past to one which recognised that fast decisions and reactions were key to meeting (and hitting) targets. Therefore management was focused on empowerment and leadership on Motivation – from command and control they had moved to enabling decisions to be made where “the rubber meets the road”.

Much is made of empowerment in business where the decisions can be made, where needed, at the coal face  – where your team meet your customers, where the sales are done and revenues generated and where knowledge is gathered about the customer and the environment. In our ever faster moving world the old chain of command idea means bureaucracy, slow response times, and lost opportunities. Empowerment is a critical success factor in the business world.

So I heard a story the other day about my oft quoted All Blacks Rugby team which illustrated it nicely. I often hold that they are the most successful team in the world overall because they all know what they are doing (as opposed to just the coach/captain) and they have an ability to adapt to expose newly discovered weaknesses. In a lot of sports and in some rugby teams there is the autocratic manager with the team plan who is handing out instructions about how the game should be played with all and sundry sticking to this plan until told to change. These changes are sent out via a “waterboy” or “doctors assistant” or shouted from the edge of the pitch or even bored into the players during the half-time break.

The All Blacks have a formidable world cup winning Manager – Graham Henry –  who from a distance looks like the autocratic type and although he is separated from his players during the game he does send messengers to and from the pitch. However the story goes that during one of his recent visits with his team to Ireland when the All Blacks won the grand slam (eg very strong and successful team) one of his messengers was corralled during a critical part of the Ireland game and asked what instructions he had sent out. “Oh none mate” came the reply – “I was asked to find out what the players were thinking of doing next“.

Now thats Empowerment.

Aidan Higgins

Leading in tough times

Many areas of the business world are in states of turmoil. At such times the need for leadership is paramount argues Nigel Nicholson, Professor of Organisational Behaviour (London Business School)

Many areas of the business world are in states of turmoil, with employees facing increasing pressures, cost cutting, threats to jobs and a climate of high anxiety.  This is amplified by the fact that it is shared – people see the whites of the eyes of uncomfortable bosses, or feel the emotions of others who share their position.  Some feel they are competing for survival.   At such times the need for leadership is paramount.  In fact this is not just a time of need, but a time of opportunity for people to reveal a new and perhaps unseen capability for leadership – people who can act with the wisdom and skill that today’s challenges require.

The history of leadership tells us  that leaders emerge to meet the challenges of their times. Over much of the last decade, we had been living in an era when key attributes need were for leaders with the mindset and skills needed to grow a business in a climate of abundance and opportunity. Of course, there are new growth opportunities in the present climate, but they are currently in small pockets. For many people, today’s economic landscape is bleaker; and, for all, it is uncertain. These times require a different kind of leadership from the expansionist ethos to which we had become accustomed. They call for a much more savvy and psychological style of leadership, one that is emotionally intelligent and visionary in order to lead people beyond their overwhelming immediate concerns.

It is in this spirit that I offer 10 rules for leaders who must step forward and excel in this business climate.

These depend upon a correct understanding of the psychology of threat and uncertainty. It is critical for leaders to comprehend the mindset of followers, especially in turbulent times.
Survival and success

Understand the psychology of pain, fear, threat and anxiety. This is both quite subtle and quite complex. The need is for leaders to understand correctly what people typically do and think in response to such feelings. Many of people’s reactions will not be what we are used to seeing from them.

Steady emotions. Buffer people, as far as possible, from short-term pressures, yet make sure that they have something meaningful to do. If a major part of their role has disappeared, create a project for them around something that needs doing.

Decentre. This means asking “smart” questions of individuals that help you gain deep insights into how they think and feel, so that you feel what it might be like  to see the world through their eyes. This can be extremely affirming. The process goes as follows:

Ask an individual how he or she feels about a specific event.
Listen and ask more questions to get closer to what the person is experiencing.
Paraphrase to them your understanding of their thoughts and feelings. Acknowledge the reality of what people are thinking and feeling, but help them to reframe, to see the situation from other perspectives. Although it feels as if there is no end to uncertainty, the world is changing and a new order will emerge. When it comes, we had better be in a state of readiness. An analogy might be that we have descended into a valley filled with fog. This does not mean we have no direction to go in, but it might mean we have to hold hands until we reach sunnier uplands. People need you to tell them that better times are coming that there cannot be a return to any previous state, and that our best hope is in staying close to each other and working together.
Develop a narrative that connects the past, present and future. This does not mean being a soothsayer  predicting the future. The future is not waiting to be discovered – it is something to be seized and claimed. It presents an opportunity. Knowing that  it will not be like the past doesn’t mean disconnect.  You need to be able to elucidate the golden thread that connects past, present and future; It is the identity of the firm and the people in it. Each company has a unique story, history and cultural DNA. Some of that is going to be reborn in the new order that will emerge.

Make the narrative personal. These tough times are  also part of your story. Leaders should be unafraid to tell people how they forge meaning, hope and belief out of such times. You have to do so with authenticity – speaking about your own feelings, learning, foibles, biases and so on, in a way that reveals enough of your own fallibility to bring you close to them but not so much as to shake their confidence. The formula is V-I-P: vision, identity and passion. You cannot have a personal vision and express it with passion if it does not connect genuinely with who you are, your identity.

Be close-up and immediate. People need to know the best thing for them to be doing right now. Show them how this connects with deeper and wider goals you continue to have as an organisation. Remember, in times of fear and crisis, people need much more communication than normal, and it has to be personal – face-to-face – not a barrage of emails.

Set mileposts. The future may be cloudy, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have medium-term goals. Tell people what these are, but don’t tell them how to reach them. It builds confidence for people to feel empowered to work together to solve problems about on how to achieve specific goals.

Sacrifice and celebrate. Show that you are just as much a stakeholder as they are. By doing without certain things, you can show symbolically that your life is not business-as-usual either. Spend much more time than usual telling people when they do something right and celebrating achievements collectively to reinforce the sense that you are a community with a common purpose.

Look after yourself. Don’t be a poor role model by letting yourself succumb to stress, overwork and loss of balance. Show people that it is healthy to go home at 5:30 occasionally in order to take your partner out for dinner or a movie. Indeed, tell them that some days you will work a half day from home to get some serious thinking or project work done, rather than appearing to be continually chasing work in ever-decreasing circles. Finally, here’s a little exercise you can do to accentuate the positive.  First write down all the negatives that you are witnessing during the downturn.  Then write down all the positives.  You will be surprised.  These times are like a forest fire – even as they destroy they create the conditions for new growth.  We can see for example how inflated discretionary payment systems were a poor one-club golfer’s solution to the challenge of staff motivation.  Now we are free to create the kinds of recognition and reward that will really unite and motivate people towards building tomorrow’s capabilities.   It is the leader’s job to connect with people to help them fulfil their goals and those of the business – the present climate offers great prizes to those who can do this.

First Published August 2009