How To Be More DISCerning With Others

 

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My 2+ granddaughter makes it clear when I can sing along and when I am to be silent. I discern that compliance is required.

Discernment enhances inter-personal relations and effective leadership. This is wrapped up in an approach that I call DISCerning Communication.

The concept incorporates behavioural preferences.  Questions about the value and validity of classifying behavioural styles have been raised.

Reference to an analogy of clothing preferences puts the issue into correct perspective. In reality, behavioural preferences are directly equivalent to our taste in clothes. We can put on or take off shades at will. At the same time, our library of photos will reveal a shade preference.

I have a preference for wearing blue. However, a pitfall would be to label me as a blue-shirt man. I am not wed to blue and wear other colours.

It is beneficial for the clothing store owner to know that there are people who have a preference for blue so as stock accessories and variations to satisfy them. However, it would be an error to confine their dealings with me to only items of blue. I might be seeking to diversify my wardrobe or could be encouraged to try on something new.

The fundamental principle is the need to separate the behaviour from the person.

The store owner should handle demonstrated blue shirt preference by showing things that go along with blue shirts. However, she should treat theindividual with an open mind, not knowing what they might want this time. Once the customer indicates a preference then the owner should roll out the things that are best suited to that style.

This approach dramatically improves the capacity of the store owner to satisfy customers. She identifies the cross-section of preferences that she will serve and works out how to best serve the needs of each preference. She does not need to be concerned that customers might have complex tastes. She focuses on learning to discern when a preference that she has classified is displayed and roll out her tested strategy for satisfying the identified needs.

Now, it could be that in a single encounter, the customer displays different – even conflicting – preferences. That is fine. Be clear about which preference is being addressed at any point in time and present the solution that meets those needs. Then move to the next.

The challenge we have created with behavioural classifications comes from the need to affix labels on others. The store staff says here comes blue-preference Trevor and shuts down every other expectation of my behaviour. Then when I am drawn to the flaming red turtleneck there is shock and their faith in the classification concept is dented. Focus on behaviours not on individuals!

Properly defined the behavioural classifications are consistent. People are not. Learn to identify behaviours and how best to respond to or manage them and life’s journey is a lot easier to navigate.

Step 1: Master the descriptors of the classification framework such that you can distinguish among behaviours (not people!).

Step 2: Learn how to get best results in relating to each category in the framework.

Step 3: Discern when each category is being displayed and apply the ideal strategy from Step 2.

That is the real value of behavioural classifications – facilitating inter-personal relationships. Stapling types as labels on the foreheads of others is misuse.

Avoid relying on “He is X”; “You are Y”; “I am Z” use of classifications!

Inserting the word using  makes all the difference in the world. “He is using X” alerts me to use X appropriate responses. I am also open to the possibility that he could shift to using Z at any time and I am flexible to apply suitable Z strategies.

However, the question remains: Is the store owner who invests in having customers fill out a questionnaire that highlights their preferences wasting time and money?

Not at all and here is why.

The store owner soon realizes that the range of preferences could be reduced to a manageable number of classifications. For simplicity here, she realizes that at its core her customers have a prevailing preference for variations of red, yellow, green, blue.

She uses that understanding to learn everything about relating to the nuances of each category (colour) and meeting their needs. She figures that showing blue might attract my interest but the minute I signal I am into red today, she rolls out her red sales plan.

The beauty of behaviour-based discernment is that the owner has the flexibility to deal effectively with both old and new customers. She discerns what’s going on with each customer in this moment and acts accordingly. DISCerning Communication works!

Next time, we discuss the value of  behavioural classification frameworks in leading others.

 

Ask about the SHRM-accredited 3-D Leader Certification: Dealing with Difficult People. Earn SHRM Professional Development Credits.

The next cohort of the ICF/SHRM accredited Certified Behavioural Coach Award is January 2016.

E-mail: info[at]swpacademy.com

Trevor E S Smith is a Behaviour Modification Coach with the Success with People Academy which is recognized by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) to offer Professional Development Credits (PDCs) for the SHRM-CPSM or SHRM-SCPSM Certifications.

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Where Did The Time Go?

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Where Did The Time Go?

That expression is usually rhetorical. But, do you really know where your time is going?

If you are a normal human you can identify with that question. Sometimes we check the time and are struck by how quickly it has passed.

I recommend that you conduct an audit of how you spend your time. That action is one of the most transformational activities that you can undertake.

We hold mental images of who we are and what is important to us. However, it is what we do that defines us. How we spend our time is what gives us our true identity.

This time audit will expose the real YOU.

 

What is involved?

The requirement is that you track how you use each 24-hour day for 30 days.

The intention is not to place an additional burden on your time. Consequently, avoid using methods that take a lot of time.

It is important that you record events and activities as close as possible to their occurrence. Do not sit at night recording what you recall about the day’s activities.

You will get an amazing bonus from recording who initiates each action. Note down who made the contact or who gave the assignment. Slip in the nature and duration of each activity.

Here is one value of identifying who is involved in your activities – especially those initiated by others:

“Interruptions” are identified as one the major challenges to be overcome by my Time & Task Management participants. In many instances, the principal culprit is a supervisor who considers herself to be super-efficient. Reduce top-down interruptions with this strategy.

Some supervisors are guilty of blurting. Here is an example of blurting in action:

Jane starts her day by going through her incoming mail and To Do List. As she goes through she takes immediate action.

Item 3 requires John to do something. Jane summons John.

Item 5 involves John. Jane contacts John. And the process continues.

While Jane is being seemingly efficient, she is making it difficult for John to manage his time effectively. Organizations suffer badly from poor TIME TEAMWORK.

We must function as teams and the focus should be on how the team uses its time and not just the individual.

The time audit is the perfect antidote to blurting.

John might not have the luxury of telling Jane that she is negatively impacting his productivity. However, he could refer to this article and its recommended time audit exercise.

He can share from the audit the frequency, duration and content of his contact with Jane. He could translate that into dollars using his rate of pay x 2.

If Jane is a worthy team leader, the information should make compelling reading. The parties could then agree to meet at specified times during the day. Any issue that arises in between meetings will be held until the next session. Jane’s blurting would have been moderated.

Of course, Jane does not have the monopoly on interruptions. John’s time audit will identify the interactions that he has on a regular basis. He can then determine if that is the most effective use of his time and make the necessary adjustment.

True You

The Time Audit adds another dimension to self-discovery. It will highlight whether your professed commitments are supported by concrete action. It points to habits good and bad that have entered into your reality.

I strongly urge that you complete this 30-day, 24-hour audit of how you spend your time. Who, what, how often and how much are all laid out for your review and decision-making.

As an added incentive for men, John can also use the audit to highlight to his wife the absence of certain activities. Wives will point to the need for more quality time together.

BOMDAS followers we are at Addition: Brackets|Of|Multiplication|Division|Addition|Subtraction.

Access the series here: http://jamaica-gleaner.com/ Enter in search: Outlook Trevor E S Smith

Register now for the SHRM accredited 3-D Leader Certification course. November 6 & 7. Kingston/face-to-face.

The next cohort of the ICF/SHRM accredited Certified Behavioural Coach Award will be January 2016.

E-mail: info[at]swpacademy.com

Trevor E S Smith is a Behaviour Modification Coach with the Success with People Academy, Extended DISC/FinxS.

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How To Deal With Cliques

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How To Deal With Cliques: A Mathematical Formula For Great Teamwork III

We are using the BOMDAS formula to strengthen teamwork.

BOMDAS is an acronym for Brackets| Of | Multiplication | Division |Addition | Subtraction

Under Brackets we established that Belonging is essential if the team is to achieve high levels of success – in our homes, in our workplaces, and in any group. We placed responsibility for achieving bonding and cohesiveness on the shoulders of the Team Leader.

While the brackets signify inclusion, they also indicate that some things should be kept separate. Including what should be excluded produces the wrong result!

Leaders must exclude anything that negatively impacts their teams.

Culprit #1: Cliques or Informal sub-groups

Among the greatest challenges to the smooth running of a group is the presence of a clique. The clique is a small set within the group that looks to a source other than the official leader for leadership. Cliques have the tendency to undermine the influence of the team leader — deliberately or as a by-product of their agenda.

What can a team leader do to limit the influence of cliques?

The first thing to note is that a clique should not be ignored as it could present a major challenge if allowed to grow in influence.

Note also that threats, ostracism, imposing muzzling rules and any method that relies on coercion will not produce sustained positive results. At best they drive the clique underground and set the stage for guerrilla warfare.

A clique exists because there is the perception of unmet needs – voices not being heard; unhappy with treatment or an aspiration for a greater share of power etc.

A leader’s effectiveness is enhanced by their capacity to uncover unfulfilled needs and then address them to the satisfaction or acceptance of the affected parties.

Here are some steps in your plan to address the challenge of a clique within your group:

Step 1: Review the issue of shared vision, goals and objectives.

  • Use information gathering techniques – surveys, focus groups, informal discussions – to glean information on the aspirations of team members.
  • Work to identify key areas of alignment of team member objectives with formal team objectives.
  • Carefully isolate factors that are not aligned and have the potential to be disruptive or distracting.

You should recognize that the quality of the information received from this exercise is directly related to the environment that has been created. Where there is low trust and a sense that leadership is not committed to the empowerment of team members, people are likely to suppress their true feelings. No matter who is responsible, as leader you must sell “I am different. This initiative is different”.

Step 2: Camp out on identified shared objectives

Place laser-focus on things held in common.

Effective leaders latch on to 2 – 3 shared objectives. They then package and sell them such that they are seen as the glue that holds the team together. If the objective is to win the Gold Medal in the relay then get the stars to run their assigned leg without fuss.

Leaders in every sphere must meet the challenge of identifying goals and objectives that can serve as the glue that holds the group together. When teams are guided into uniting around shared purpose their capacity for high performance is unlimited.

But it is not all milk and honey.

One particularly difficult clique arises when someone believes that they are better equipped to lead the group or for some reason refuses to embrace the leadership of the official leader. Ostracizing that individual and their supporters does not provide a sustained solution. Finding a mutually acceptable role for the individual in the process is a more viable solution. Reconcile rather than exile!

Leadership requires a transformed mind-set.

Our upcoming SHRM accredited “3-D Leader Certification” addresses dimensions not covered in traditional leadership training.

Trevor E S Smith is a Behaviour Modification Coach with the Success with People Academy which is recognized by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) to offer Professional Development Credits (PDCs) for the SHRM-CPSM or SHRM-SCPSM Certifications.

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How To Use A Math Formula To Improve Teamwork

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At school I learned the life-saving BOMDAS formula without which solving Algebra problems would be impossible.

The order of operation should be:

Brackets | Of  | Multiplication  | Division  | Addition |  Subtraction

Here is an example:

Solve: 7 + (6 + 3) x 5 – 4 ÷ 2

Step 1 [Brackets]:  7+ 9 x 5 – 4 ÷ 2

Step 2 [Multiplication & Division]: 7 + 45 – 2

Step 3 [Addition]: 52 – 2

Step 4 [Subtraction]: 50

Answer = 50

I want to explore with you its application in the realm of teamwork and healthy relationships. Applying the BOMDAS rules creatively could help address some of the challenges that produce a lack of cooperation in groups at a time when effective teamwork is critical for success.

Brackets

The brackets represent both inclusion and exclusion. It indicates that the things within the brackets have something in common that sets them apart from things outside. It also dictates that the things within the brackets should be given similar treatment.

Let’s now take the leap from the abstract to the real live challenge of working cohesively with others.

The first concept is “Belonging”.

One common problem in dysfunctional teams is the failure of members to identify with the team. They don’t see themselves as being part of the whole that is bonded by common objectives and shared goals.

The brackets say – there is a bond that ties us together. The on the ground reality is that many speak of their teams in terms of they instead of we.

Other tell-tale signs that the brackets are meaningless include the fact that team successes are not celebrated as personal successes. It is like a disgruntled player coming home to report that they won the match. After investigation you realize that it is actually his team that won. From the bench he does not see himself as belonging in the team and so he refers to his team as they.

Today’s crisis of low employee engagement has some of its roots in the fact that some team members feel like bystanders rather than being actively engaged in the field of play.

Do a bit of investigative work over the next days and listen carefully to the dialogue of colleagues – your team and other groups. See how often you can detect pride in the accomplishments of the group to which the individual belongs.

In cohesive and functional teams the pride comes from just being a part of the team. Members champion the cause of the team as a whole and each member individually. Team member Jenny’s graduation is ours. In a real sense it might be because we helped so much with her research projects and proof reading her submissions!

That is the spirit that fuels high performing teams and tightly connected groups.

Meanwhile, back in dysfunctional land, Desmond has been like a zombie since he was passed over for the Team Leader role. He might not openly tear down what Martha puts forward but his lack of interest cannot be missed. It is also noticeable that people who were close to Desmond and who felt that he should have got the promotion are also not engaged.  The separation is not only mental as they have now started to eat as a clique in a corner of the lunch room.

This team is on a downward spiral and the impact will soon be evident in their key performance indicators (KPIs).

Unfortunately, it is Martha’s responsibility as Team Leader to solve the problem. She may not have appointed herself but now it is her job to get the best from her team.

She needs to have a heart-to-heart talk with Desmond. She can share that she has observed that he is not the dynamic, vibrant person of three months ago and she would like to discuss the change. She needs to steer clear of even a hint of accusation with respect to his lack of support.

One strategy that might work well for Martha is for her to find some solution – a role, maybe – that helps Desmond to save face and feel better about himself. Could she identify a discrete part of her responsibility and invite him to take charge of it without weakening her authority?

That could produce the benefits of getting Desmond engaged once more while giving her the opportunity to focus on other areas. Of course, if Desmond messes up that would provide grounds for another conversation.

Leading teams is a challenging endeavor that requires a cross-section of well-developed competences. Formal ongoing professional development is essential.

Trevor E S Smith is a Behaviour Modification Coach with the Success with People Academy which is recognized by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) to offer Professional Development Credits (PDCs) for the SHRM-CPSM or SHRM-SCPSM Certifications.

Home of the ICF accredited “Certified Behavioural Coach Award.”

Joint venture partner Extended DISC/FinxS Caribbean …world leading behavioral assessment solutions.