January 20, 2013
Recently, I’ve been working with a lot of organizations who are wrestling with major changes. One of the biggest challenges is learning to be credible in implementing the changes while also building, maintaining, or even in some cases, rebuilding trust. Trust is one of those things that’s difficult to establish, challenging to maintain, and nearly impossible to rebuild once lost. Sadly, we all blow it at times and our actions reduce our trustworthiness.
If you’ve ever wrestled with the dilemma of reestablishing lost trust, consider the following 5 steps to begin rebuilding:
- Be Competent. Perform your duties and obligations competently. Individuals should continuously strive to demonstrate proficiency in carrying out their obligations. As others contemplate how much to trust you, they will assess your qualifications and ability to perform.
- Be Consistent and Predictable. We can enhance the degree to which others will regard us as trustworthy when we behave in consistent and predictable ways. Every effort should be made to ensure that our words are congruent with our subsequent actions and that we honor pledged commitments. Our integrity is reinforced to the extent that we Do What We Say We Will Do.
- Be a Great Communicator. We can improve trust by improving our communication. The message we give should be accurate and understandable – at face value and “between the lines” to all in our department. This helps the other party calculate our trustworthiness accurately, because we are willing to act transparently and to be monitored for compliance. It’s not what you say, it’s what people hear.
- Be a Person of Action, Not Just Words. Trust often needs to be given for it to be returned. There is symbolic value in soliciting input and sharing decision control with others Likewise, when such control is hoarded and others feel that they are not trusted (such as with monitoring and surveillance systems), they may be more likely to act out against this with behaviors that reinforce a distrustful image.
- Be Concerned and Care for Others. People are emotional beings. They must be managed on an emotional level too. The trust others have in you will grow when you show sensitivity to their needs, desires, and interests. Acting in a way that respects and protects other people, and refraining from engaging in self-interested pursuits to the detriment of others will also contribute greatly to the trust others place in you. When you violate someone’s trust, they deem that you are acting in your own self-interest. Accordingly, their attention will be diverted to their own self-interest and self-preservation. Learn to listen and re-frame statements to gather more information.
So that’s it, simple, but not simplistic. If you’re facing a situation where trust is lost, don’t sit there like a dummy and hope it improves! Get busy and work to rebuild it! Not easy, but certainly worth the effort.
October 22, 2012
Last week I had the road trip from hell. Left on Sunday and flew to California – way out in the sticks – a place called Grass Valley.
Spent Monday through Wednesday there and then drove to the San Francisco Airport to catch a red-eye flight to Hartford via Detroit. I had to deliver another workshop on Thursday morning so I was on a very tight schedule. It all turned out just fine and I made my connections, but I learned something about life in First Class.
My assistant Amy was able to talk my client into letting me fly that red-eye in First Class because #1 they wouldn’t have to spring for a hotel room for me and #2, my arthritic hip wouldn’t survive that long sitting in the middle seat on an overnight flight. Since I normally fly Southwest Airlines everywhere, I have no loyalty points on other airlines which means I’m usually relegated to Coach.
I’ve always heard that the people who fly in First Class are a nicer grade of people. Some flight attendants have admitted this to me. Now I know why.
From the moment I stepped into the First Class cabin, I was greeted with a big smile and friendly greeting. My butt barely hit the seat and I was offered a drink, pillow, and blanket. The flight attendant offered to hang up my coat. I was treated like royalty. After all that, how could you be anything BUT nice to the flight attendant. I’m sure they all though I was a nice guy too. But as the REST of the passengers boarded, I saw them hurriedly rushed to the back of the plane. No offers of pillow or a whole lot of smiles. For some reason, those Coach passengers seemed really grumpy and mean. I wonder why?
The longer I live, the more I realize that we all get back what we first give. We align very nicely with the Pygmalion Effect, the phenomenon that happens when others are led to believe that we are nice, intelligent people. In 1968, educators Robert Rosenthal and Lenore Jacobson studied the Pygmalion Effect in the classroom. Their study showed that if teachers were led to expect enhanced performance from some children, then the children did indeed show that enhancement. The purpose of the experiment was to support the hypothesis that reality can be influenced by the expectations of others. Rosenthal found that biased expectancies can essentially affect reality and create self-fulfilling prophecies as a result.
What does this mean for us? Think about the following:
- You give a passenger friendly service and they reciprocate with a kind demeanor.
- You give a passenger “attitude” and they respond back with “attitude”
- As managers we treat our direct reports with empathy and respect and they respond with great performance.
- We see our direct reports and lazy and disengaged and they fulfill our low expectations.
- Our kids are told they are important and talented and they take on bigger challenges and become successful.
- You treat your kids like they’re a failure and they simply become that self-fulfilling prophecy.
Each day all of us have opportunities to treat people and situations with optimism and respect. I firmly believe that we get back what we give. This week, think about how you see the people around you? Maybe this is the week nice guys and gals should start finishing first.
What do you think?
August 19, 2012
Last week we took a family vacation down to Ormond Beach in Florida. Thankfully my kids are older now and are content to spend time just
lying on the beach. The days of endless lines in the sweltering heat at Disney appear to be behind us (until grandkids come along eventually). We did however take one day and went to SeaWorld as they offer free admission to Active Duty Military and their families – Kudos to the Anheuser Busch family!
Anyway, we decided to get all the rollercoasters done first and then catch the Noon Shamu show. The shows are now a combination of theater, music, and of course the Killer Whales themselves. During the decidedly new-agey, pro-environment, sustainability-themed show, I was amazed at how the trainers got the numerous Orcas (I think Shamu is really not a single whale, just kind of a group name for all of them) to wave to the crowd, splash the crowd, and make big leaps out of the water.
The trainers used long, apparently waterproofed cattle prods to shock the whales. Some smacked them with whips. They threatened them with angry words and mean scowls on their faces. The huge mammals enthusiastically obeyed.
Of course if you’ve ever seen one of these shows, you know that’s not true. After all, only a moron would use threats to coerce a killer whale into doing a trick when they could take you out with just one big bite. The method for training these whales is all done through reward and encouragement. After each trick, the trainers smile, dole out massive handfuls of fish, and scratch and rub Shamu. It’s a constant stream of positive energy.
If this method of motivation works so well in a very dangerous environment like the water tank at SeaWorld, why do executives, managers, parents, and spouses still using negative reinforcement or punishment to motivate people? Now let me clarify one thing. If there is an identified WILL problem (“I know what I’m supposed to do, I just don’t want to do it”) then punishment or termination is appropriate. But when someone may not KNOW how to do the job or needs more information to do it better, punishment isn’t the answer. You can certainly give a person a little encouragement through a friendly tone of voice, a smile, a small reward, or other incentives to encourage them to keep at it. It’s also good practice to actually go out of your way to catch someone doing something RIGHT now and then.
This week, take a look at the people in your life that you bear responsibility for. When motivating them, think about taking the SeaWorld approach first – using encouragement and rewards to note good behavior first. You may be amazed at the response you get!
August 1, 2012
The story is always the same. I’m sitting quietly in my bedroom watching TV in the evening. Some bumping around or a slamming door down
the hall, then a loud shriek from my 13 year-old daughter Allison. The standard reply from my wife:
“This is what I deal with all week when you’re gone. You handle it.”
I run down the hall immediately yelling at Allison her while her 16 year-old brother Dustin hides in his room grinning ear to ear. As usual, he’s done something to annoy her and she yells loudly knowing it will elicit a response from one of us. By the time I’m done yelling at her, I end up letting her brother off the hook since I can’t seem to find him.
I’ve dealt with the symptoms of the problem, not the signs.
During the workweek when I’m on the road teaching managers, one of my favorite statements is:
“It’s not always what you see…diagnosis is the key.”
My background included eight years as a chairside dental assistant in the Navy. I learned very quickly to listen to a patient’s symptoms but always to look at the visible signs to make a proper diagnosis. A patient might describe one type of pain, but the x-ray would show something more significant. Better to deal with the real problem than just alleviate the surface issue.
I no longer sit chairside but teach this methodology to managers as we work through getting them strategies to better deal with employee issues. The tool is called the S.O.A.P. tool. It goes like this:
S: Subjective – what you are told (i.e. “Jim has an attitude problem”)
O: Objective – what you can verify )i.e. “Jim’s been late three times in the last two weeks and he just told our best customer to ‘*&%$# off’ on the phone”
A: Assessment – the diagnosis or REAL problem (i.e. Jim doesn’t have an attitude problem, he has an attendance and anger problem)
P: Plan – the remedy to fix the real problem (discipline Jim or fire him).
You see I can’t do much about an “attitude problem” but I sure as heck can deal with attendance and anger problems. The key is looking beyond just the surface issue.
It’s not always what you see…diagnosis is the key.
So what does the mean for you?
This week, think about what chronic problems annoy you. It might be your kids misbehaving, your spouse giving you the evil eye, your boss giving you crappy assignments, or clients not calling you back. Ask yourself what the real objective data is. Are you ignoring your kids, forgetting to replace the toilet paper role (a favorite spouse violation), not showing enthusiasm for assignments at work, or ignoring your client’s most pressing needs? These might be the root problems. Fix those and you have a shot at fixing the other issue.
It’s not always what you see…diagnosis is the key.
Think about it this week.
ps. I’ve shared my most common misdiagnosis with you. What are some of yours? Share them in the comments box below! No better way to learn from our mistakes.
June 27, 2012
This past week was very interesting (and very busy!).
Monday I worked with an organization that was dealing with some significant environmental changes that were in impacting its very survival.
Wednesday I drove to West Virginia to work with an organization that was preemptively doing some planning to deal with some significant environmental changes that could possibly impact its survival.
Thursday and Friday I worked with a non-profit in DC that was basically without stress with no impending doom on its radar screen.
All three organizations were very different.
Monday’s group was in a panic, stressed out, and kind of hostile both to me and the materials I was teaching them on dealing with change. They were continually distracted by emergency phone calls and previously scheduled meetings. None seemed very happy at all.
Wednesday’s group was in a business-like but friendly mood and laughed through much of our afternoon together (with me, not at me as my dad would say!) and seemed to be quite energized at the end.
The Thursday/Friday group had a 9:30 AM start time and most showed up ready to go by 10. Many of them warned me early on they had meetings, commitments, phone calls, etc to make and would have to leave. I suspect most were “prisoners” in that workshop. Ironically, once we got started, all stayed until the end!
Do you remember the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears? Summed up, you’re either too hot, too cold, or just right. Monday’s group was too hot – stressed and unproductive. Thursday/Friday was too cold – not enough pressure to make them productive. Wednesday’s group was JUST RIGHT! Enough stress to keep functioning in a highly-productive manner.
What does your level of stress look like? Are you red-lining right now, almost at a breaking point? Are you so bored that you can’t seem to focus? Or, are you experiencing the right amount of pressure to keep you on your game and focused? We have some control over that, both in how we choose to schedule and how we look at pressure. Most of the time, I’m just right but it takes work to keep myself there. How are you doing? Maybe it’s time for a stress inventory?
June 4, 2012
Book #14 of 52
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking written by Susan Cain is a book that caught my eye in an airport book store. I’m a certified Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) practitioner so I was immediately intrigued.
Cain is an introvert and writes this book from her own personal experience both in her career and also as a researcher (even going so far as to sign up for a Tony Robbins seminar). She demonstrates that while introverts aren’t necessarily comfortable mixing it up in an extraverted world, they in fact have much to offer.
Who Should Read This Book
This book is great for any MBTI practitioners and for anyone who is introverted or is extroverted and shares a life with introverts.
My Final Thoughts
This is a great, powerful book. After reading it, I realized that while I’m usually identified in my MBTI as an extravert, in fact, I’m an introvert that has been practicing the Free Trait Theory for the past 11 years. It feels good to be in my own skin now!
March 27, 2012
The more I travel, the more I realize that in many cases, a lot of folks don’t really carry a lot of credibility. With that in mind, I thought I’d offer up some suggestions on how to be taken seriously. This might be helpful advice if you’re trying to influence someone and might be very beneficial to young people who are trying to find their place in the world. Since the book I just read on The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs suggests using groups of three, I’ll do these over a few weeks, just three at a time.
- Be Current on Current Events. I know most folks don’t care much for the news. Frankly, with all of the UNFAIR and UNBALANCED views of ALL TV news (yes, this includes FOX news), I can’t blame them. Regardless, having a knowledge of current events gives you something to reference when you talk to people. If you read my post on 5 Great Ways to Start Your Day, you know I recommend spending some time each day reading the news. When teaching workshops, I always try to tie in a current event and relate it to the topic. It really gives whatever you do a very fresh look.
- Be Reliable. More and more, I’m impressed with people, events, and services that actually start on time. When someone I book an appointment with shows up on time, it’s more of the anomaly and not the norm. I’m typically shocked when a flight I’m booked on actually leaves on time. Mediocrity seems to be the standard and anything slightly above seems amazing. To be taken seriously, be EARLY and ready to go at the appointed time. I guarantee you’ll make a great impression.
- Be Assertive. Assertive is not to be confused with aggressive. Assertive means that you take the lead in any type of interaction. Introduce yourself rather than wait to be introduced. Offer a firm handshake instead of accepting one. Ask others their name and ask them questions about what they do rather than ask for a favor first. Be an extravert in an introverted world and you’ll be taken seriously. On another note though, if you’re already assertive, be prepared to tone it down if you typically intimidate and annoy others. Assertiveness needs to be practiced with the right amount of balance.
So that’s the first three. Work on these and you’ll have a much better chance of being taken seriously. The standards, sadly, are pretty low. It won’t take much to stand out in a positive way.
January 10, 2012
This morning I read an interesting article about San Francisco 49rs quarterback Alex Smith. For those of you who don’t know,
Smith was the first overall draft pick in the 2005 draft. For the first six years of his career, he failed to live up to his own billing, not to mention the great tradition of 49rs quarterbacks like Joe Montana and Steve Young.
Until this year.
What happened? Smith found himself with a new coach, Jim Harbaugh, who believed in him.
During the 49rs Week #4 comeback victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, Smith finally lived up to what he was always projected to be.
“That was big evidence of him having confidence in himself and Coach having confidence in him,” offensive tackle Joe Staley said. “That was a big step in showing the team — and showing the fans, who had been calling for him to be out of here for a long time — that we can be successful with him.”
Without probably knowing it, Harbaugh brought Smith back by creating The Pygmalion Effect which refers to the phenomenon in which the greater the expectation placed upon people, often children or students and employees, the better they perform. The effect is named after Pygmalion, a Cypriot sculptor in a narrative by Ovid in Greek mythology, who fell in love with a female statue he had carved out of ivory.
Have you ever had someone who really believed in you? Did their belief instill a new sense of confidence in you? It’s happened to me several times, most notably when a dentist I worked for way back in 1987, a guy named Greg Nelson, believed in my ability so much to become a dentist, that he even let me fill one of his teeth! While I never did make it to dental school, the confidence he built in me enabled me to go on and complete two degrees and have the career I have now.
On the other hand, have you ever had someone either verbally or non-verbally remove confidence in you? If so, you probably felt discouraged, unmotivated, and lost any sense of creativity. I’ve had that happen too!
What should we do?
- First of all, if you’re working hard to develop personally and/or professionally, surround yourself with people who believe in you. I’m not suggesting you get people who just accentuate the positive – I mean people who will build you up but also push you hard and won’t accept less than your full effort.
- Second, if you’re in any position of influence (boss, parent, etc.) are you making every effort to call attention to a person’s strengths? If you see any potential for greatness, are you identifying that and building on that? Your encouragement might be just what they need to break through a personal or professional barrier. It’s a great experience to see someone you care about achieve their goals or set new and exciting ones.
The Harbaugh/Smith connection will continue to play out through the playoffs and into next season. I’ll be curious to see just how the second half of Smith’s career pans out after this season. No matter what, I’m sure he’ll play it with a renewed sense of energy and confidence.
What will you do this week to create The Pygmalion Effect with someone in your life?
August 31, 2011
August 31, 2011